A Lifetime of Happiness: Movies, TV, and Video Games

Grey Gardens

September 22, 2021 Steve Bennet-Martin, Stephen Martin-Bennet, Ronnie Diamond Season 1 Episode 86
A Lifetime of Happiness: Movies, TV, and Video Games
Grey Gardens
Show Notes Transcript

The Steves welcome back Ronnie Diamond to discuss the cult classic documentary and movie, Grey Gardens, along with what's making them happy in pop culture.

What's making us happy?

  • Big Brother- 'The Cookout' specifically

Grey Gardens

  • Background on the documentary and movie
  • Ronnie's experiences growing up in that time period
  • The fear of our homes being on the brink of disaster
  • Little and Big Edie: Eccentric or Ill?

Ending- Any music or audio clips were borrowed from the original source material.

Support the show (http://www.patreon.com/happylifepod)
Steve:

Hello returning happies and new listeners. This is Steve Bennet-Martin, and

Stephen:

this is Stephen Martin-Bennet. And welcome to a lifetime of happiness.

Steve:

The podcast where we take you on our journey through some of the movies, TV shows, and other bits of pop culture that are helping to keep us happy while hopefully bring a smile to your face along the way,

Stephen:

the dumpling I have the perfect costume for today. So I figure we should bring back Ronnie diamond. So we traveled a gray gardens. Welcome back Hawes.

Ronnie:

Thank you for having me. I'm so happy to be here to discuss Greg called.

Steve:

Yes, I was so happy to finally see the documentary about your two college experiences together.

Stephen:

Ronnie absolutely was the big ed to my little league.

Ronnie:

Oh, the times we had the dad, the wall with an endless merry-go-round of fun build excitement

Stephen:

and all those raccoons and rats that Monica brought around.

Ronnie:

Yeah. For that reason alone, we had to get our own sleep. Recall. Some people go, some people go for cardiac, but we went for an old fleet. Call it.

Stephen:

So pause. What is making you happy? This.

Ronnie:

So this has been a fun-filled week, you know, I just returned back from the United States back to France. So I'm in salute now. And we were only here a week, about a week and a half, I think, and then bring good friends from school who hadn't visited, visited Europe before they hadn't been to France. You know, they they'd been busy writing these wonderful children and they'll find that they have an opportunity to come. And so we, we met them in Paris and, you know, we did a lot of the tourists things, all the activities, the excursions, the things that you say you're always going to do. And maybe you did when you were a teenager or, you know, when you were younger on a field trip or something, but it was time, you know, to really go and do some of those things. Again, the Eiffel tower, the Lu. You know, it's just the palace. So things like that. And then even in addition to that our friends, BBN, Donna, they had, they went on several other excursions. They saw the catacombs, they, they, they went all over the place. They did really some great things. And so it's been a fun field, exciting week. There they leave tomorrow and I'm, I'm sad about that. But other than that, it's been really fun.

Stephen:

I definitely would want to see the catacombs for sure. I watched

Steve:

enough horror movies to know that lots of fun stuff goes down down there. Yes.

Stephen:

And what was the name of the garden that you went to?

Ronnie:

So that's Monet's garden. That's where he painted you know, the Lily, the pond is that all of that stuff. That's all Monet's, it's about an hour and a half drive out Ty to Paris. So you have to kind of be up for a little hike, but oh, and interestingly enough, I have to tell you for the catacombs be prepared to walk because it's 132 steps down. 31 op or something like that. So be prepared. You're not wearing, you're not wearing a kitten heels. Let me tell you that. Ah,

Stephen:

I, I try not to wear my kitten heels when I'm doing touristy activities. Anyway, it's still Lettow or nothing.

Ronnie:

I say go big or go home. That's

Stephen:

what I say with my hair every day.

Ronnie:

And it responds back and con

Stephen:

no darling. What's making you happy. The

Ronnie:

cookout big

Steve:

brother.

Stephen:

Yes. For those people listening that have watched big brother over the seasons, we are in season 21, 22,

Steve:

2500, but, and out of all 2,500 seasons, there's never been a single person of color.

Stephen:

Or black has never been a black winner before? Yes.

Steve:

Until now, because they had a six person Alliance from day one and they finally managed to get to the final six, which has never happened in Alliance of that size, making it that far in the game of competitions. Normally there's always at least one or two casualties along the way, but they made it solidifying that no matter which of the six wins they'll have their first black

Stephen:

winner. Yeah. That's fantastic. And it's been interesting to hear. A lot of her white people online, they're like, oh, that's racist. And I'm like, what about all the previous seasons where a white Hoh would put up the only people of color. So they're guaranteed to get one of them out. Like you could have picked anybody, but you went after the black contestants. Like you didn't make any noise back then anyway. So that's

Ronnie:

are, so I, you know, I've never really gotten into the show that much. And I didn't let me know that you say 21 years, I re I know you've been watching this for 21 years. There's no doubt in my mind about that, but you know, I never to get into it that much. I didn't really watched it. And you, what you're saying is fine after 21 years, this is just now coming to pass. I think that I've been well. I hate that expression rather late than never, but yeah,

Stephen:

it happens. And what's amazing about. Is no one in the house solid coming because Tiffany came up with this plan where they would each have a partner that was not in the Alliance so that whenever somebody needed to go on the block, they would put up someone from the cookout and their partner. And like, they kept the cookout a secret from everybody. And it was brilliant. Yeah.

Steve:

To the point where like Alyssa, who was from our hometown of Sarasota was like the seventh person. And like the last one out before it was all of them. And she had no idea even. And it kind of helped that Alyssa was a little

Stephen:

sweet heart. Yes, she's a sweetheart. But

Steve:

yeah. She's like, wow, isn't it funny that like everyone else in the house is just, you know, people of color. And we were like, really? They're like really what a coincidence.

Ronnie:

I mean, it seems odd that it seems odd that we would discuss that in this day and age, but satellite, the NAFTA.

Stephen:

Yeah. It's amazing that it took this long. Yeah. What's been making you happy. Well, it's a little known fact that this week is my birthday. We guess

Steve:

it is a, we are going into a week of celebration all about you and hopefully you don't come down with the plague. Like I did for my birthday this year.

Stephen:

I know Ronnie poor Steve, like

Steve:

my birthday one sore throat at its peak height of

Stephen:

horribleness. And thankfully it wasn't COVID he just ended up having strep throat, but we had to do all the cautionary things and. Then the lab ended up losing his results. So we had to,

Ronnie:

I remember you're telling me that just sounds like widespread incompetence at a height when we really can't have that right now, widespread and competent with your birthday though. See for your birthday coming, I'm being used so excited. I mean, you're healthy. I'm putting, you know what I mean, 95 it's you gotta watch it a little more. You need to take the booster. You need to take your vitamins. You have to have a smoothing.

Stephen:

I was going to say Raleigh, I do all those things and I'm not 95. You evil or

Ronnie:

now, according to my calculation, you most certainly will

Stephen:

be. Math was never your strong suit.

Ronnie:

Well, that's true. I preferred to steady wizards math.

Steve:

Yes. Well, Ronnie, why do you love gray gardens so much?

Ronnie:

Well, you know I probably love it for many of the same reasons. Most people do. You know, it's turned into a bit of a cult classic, almost like my mommy Doris or something like that really has its huge following. Now, you know, the documentary that aired in the seventies with the blood, from the nasal brothers, they, they really shine some light onto this and you, when you did it, then it goes into a movie and then gets to musical and there's on Broadway and it has all this publicity over time to building up and building up. But I think that, you know, there's a question that always is in the back of our mind. And it's will we have enough money when we're older? We'll we, and even if you don't come from a trust, you know, you're not a trust fund, baby, you went blown with the zoo. I mean, you still, people always wonder, will there be enough, we'd be taken care of that sort of thing. And when you see a family of at the same way, see someone,

Steve:

yes. He's very concerned about where we're going to be when we get older.

Ronnie:

Well, I know I was concerned about for Steve's 90 that well, anyway, so, but when you have a family like American royalty or what, you know, the equivalent of what we have, we have the Vanderbilts, we had the Rockefellers, we have the asters. We had the, you know, the older families of the bar, the Baron, the gilded age. And when you see. Family, a fallen family on really hard times. It really kinda might shakes you a little bit. I think, how could that happen? How did this come to pass? What were the critical factors? And so it makes the person pause and it makes the person in this case where, you know, we have plenty to discuss, but in this case, it's, I think most people sit back for a minute and say, do you want to have all my T's crossed? And my I's dotted, meaning financial security for the future. Yeah.

Steve:

With, with Steven and I working in senior living, we see it every day, you know, the people who can afford and the lifestyle that they get to live, especially as we get older and the people who run out of their funds or fall on hard times, don't have the same options for the quality of life, you know, especially when it comes to senior living.

Ronnie:

because even trust funds and stuff were supported by the stock market these days, most Americans really no longer have pensions. Those have gone away with the 50 sixties and seventies. People don't have pensions anymore. Really. They have 401ks that are basically rocking and rolling on a great casino in the great, you know, in the great market, out in the east or in the returnings or the stores or whatever, you know, I'm playing off of it a little bit here, but that, I mean, trust and you know, annuities, those are all backed by the market's too. All it takes is just a switch and we could all be in gray gardens. Well, not all of us, but a lot of

Stephen:

I was talking the other day at work that, you know, the generations that are in senior living now and going into the baby boomers. These are people that, where things were easier for them, and it was easier to accumulate wealth, the generations past the baby boomer. These are not the people that were able to have one income, two cars, and, you know, paying your mortgage like senior living. As we know, it is probably 30 years from changing for ever.

Steve:

I agree now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with gray gardens, we definitely recommend you watch the documentary and the movie because it will help you understand our conversation, but we are going to dive into it and talk about it in a little bit more detail as we go through this in a lot more detail, actually. So we'll also be able to spoil it re

Stephen:

but it is a true story. So know your history. Exactly.

Steve:

And it started off as a true story. The 1975 American documentary film by Albert and David Maysles after their success from their documentaries salesmen in 69 and gimme shelter in 1970.

Stephen:

Now you start in both of those, right? Right.

Ronnie:

Oh, I started them all like both bro, big EDM, little ITI, BBA, booby ABL.

Stephen:

It was later turned into a 2009 made for TV movie of the same title by Michael Siouxsie. Who later went to do the vow with Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum.

Steve:

Yes. Both films center around Edith Bouvier, Beale, little ed and her mother, Edith Ewing, booby, or Beale, big ed they're cousins of cousin and aunt a former us first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, Onassis, Onassis,

Stephen:

Onassis,

Steve:

Philistine. Go for it. You can take over

Stephen:

in the movie version. Literally it is played by drew Barrymore. People know where from 51st dates and Charlie's angels smells never, never, never been kissed and never been kissed. And big ed is played by Jessica Lange, who these days had a career resurrection, thanks to American horror story.

Steve:

Yes. Your favorite performance of hers was an asylum.

Stephen:

Wasn't it? It wasn't asylum because as I've said before, I love when an actor will go all in on a scene. Even if people might think that, oh, I'm going to look silly. I'm going to look foolish doing this. But when you go all in and you don't care how you look, the scene becomes believable. And it was Jessica Lange doing the name game song in season two on asylum where I was like, this woman is spectacular.

Steve:

Meanwhile, I love her. And.

Ronnie:

Yeah. Yeah. That's what I love. I love her in the witches. In, was it season four that when for American horror story, I believe like with the covenant, oh, I thought she was fantastic, but you know, there's really nothing she can do. She has had a full resurrection and career. And then recently she did the feud with Susan Surandon, where's the feud, the famous Hollywood feud between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. And it's fantastic. You have to see it on Amazon

Steve:

for a short. Now, the films are named after their state gray gardens, which has a character in itself in this movie. The gray gardens was first designed in 1897 by Joseph Greenleaf Thorpe in east Hampton, New York on long island or long island as my fellow home people would say, and it does have Walden gardens surrounded by gray stone, hence the name and it was purchased in 1923 by big eating or. Feeling Beale, feeling bail. And after a feeling left his wife, they continued to live there for more than 50 years.

Stephen:

And the last time anybody put any money into it was 1936. Yes.

Ronnie:

So

Stephen:

speaking of speaking of 1936, the Beals were society darlings in New York city, just in time for little EDIS coming out party. And she was stunning back in the day,

Ronnie:

but literally she, she rally was she, she was known beauty. Her mother was gorgeous. These were beautiful women. He had the Bouvier families and old French family has been here forever. And that's, you know, that's, there's a little bit faster than the rockets. I was in the same circle of people. So this was, they entertain them there at their home. I mean, Jacqueline Kennedy grew up there. So I mean, and then, you know, her sister Lea we don't get into this too much, but her sister Lee robbed the, well, she married a Polish prince, so she's actually a princess and now she's passed two, I believe. But now, I mean, this is, this is the circle in which these these, these addresses were floating and you know, policing, I mean, and I think it's just the way how the time can change and how, what resources mean? I didn't know. I mean, this movie, like really striking people when they haven't seen it. And I see it for the first time that they're just strong.

Steve:

I mean, in addition to their story of what actually happens, their personalities. Something

Stephen:

else. Yeah. It, Ronnie, in terms of history going back to one of our previous episodes were any of the Bouviers on the Titanic?

Ronnie:

I don't think that, that the Astor's were, you know, Madeline asked her what's pregnant and then when shoes, I think she later had with, it was, she had Brooke that didn't Brooke, Chuck passed away a few years ago. So I th I don't believe Bouviers were on Titanic, but there were after the Guggenheims were there. Well, yeah, I

Stephen:

remember JJ asked her passed away.

Ronnie:

Right. And you know, the Sayers stairs, he was the John Deere was the vice president of the Pennsylvania railroad. There were the wide nurse, they were huge family. Now I didn't believe to be days where I'm not, not, not that anyone stood out, I'm not, I've never come across that.

Stephen:

Early on feminist, back in the day, she did not want to get married. She wanted to be a star and she didn't feel like she needed a man. Her mother on the other hand says that she definitely needed a man.

Steve:

Well, even in the documentary, in the movie, like in the movie, the father says like your job is to get her married, to find her a man that was even her job, big eating as the wife

Ronnie:

and

Steve:

which I'm guessing was that normal back then that like everyone needed to get married off. And that was the matriarch of the family's responsibility to find a good man.

Ronnie:

Yeah, that was her sole responsibility was to make sure that her daughter was properly matched and, and supported and taken care of in the same type of style and luxury that she'd always been used to and accustomed. I, but I think this is exactly right. I think both mother and daughter were really, really ahead of their time. You know, the mother even recorded a few songs on albums. She had a fabulous voice and they were just, they were just re rarely ahead of their time. They should have been born today. And I don't, and I honestly, I know we're going to discuss a few things related to, are they extended trip or is there may be elements of mental illness in there, but you know, what, if they were born today, they would be just fine.

Stephen:

I think honestly I think if they were born, they would be like the Kardashians, honestly, if they were born today, Little like big ed would be Chris Jenner and literally D would be one of the Kardashian girls with the way. And like, I, I definitely see that. Oh yeah.

Steve:

I mean, if the technology was present back then that where it is today, I would love for them to have had like tech talks, imagine little eighties dance routines on all the tick-tock videos. Oh,

Ronnie:

And, you know, I don't think, I think they both started out just fine, very eccentric they're there. They said they're artists, they like to dance. They like to sketch. They like to write, they write poetry, they write songs. I mean you know, th that's just what they really did. That's what they enjoyed. And there was just really no proper avenue for them to explore that or for them to express themselves in that way. And that time, the news in the 1930s, right. Did the depression had come on that no one wants to sing in a dance in the middle of the depression, you know, then we're into world war two and all that means, but they just didn't have any avenues for the women. Women really didn't even have. I mean, they didn't even, I mean, they had just recently gotten the right to vote. So it's, it's not like, I mean, things hadn't been changing that much, that quickly for women. So they just didn't have avenues to, to really explore and express themselves in the way that they would have been able to today. And I think. You know, now I think so originally in the home and the 1936, I think they started out eccentric, but fine. But you know, 50 years later in religion, I mean, certainly they're dwelling at this point, grey gardens and you know, living in isolation, you know, that can cause that can cause a break. And you know, living in that squalor like that with trees growing through the roof and Robbie brat turns around and fleas a nonstop, I'm sure that takes a toll on someone's mental health, especially if they were born in, in the lap of luxury. And then they fall into such a lowered

Stephen:

state. And like, so what happens with, in the, or as you see in a lot of things, even sex in the city, summertime comes to New York city and to beat the heat, the welfare. Go to the adjourn, to the Hampton. So they can go to the beach and just get out of New York city for July and August because it's too hot. And so they head out to their home on long island, gray gardens, and it is splitting. Like there's staff it's wealth. It's gorgeous. Like it is absolutely stunning, but immediately you can see where it's going because Mr. Beal's like, you need to cut back on your spending. You need to get rid of the staff and she's all like, but I need to keep Mr. Gold because how are the children going to have their piano lessons? If we don't have Gould

Steve:

Boehner be focused

Ronnie:

on oh yeah.

Stephen:

Big ed and her love for that gay man. Yeah.

Steve:

Yeah. She sees herself as a talent and singer. So, you know, he accompanies her and the musical numbers. And you could tell that she has stronger feelings than just professional or singer co co singer one.

Stephen:

Well, and I do love that scene where they're having. The parlor party and do you know, it's him playing the piano, her singing, you know, she's bringing other people up to dance and sing with her and it's, it's kind of like, you know, a speakeasy in the Hamptons and they're having a good time. And then of course, Mr. Biel with his responsibility comes in and ruins it and ends up taking literally Dee back to New York city because he knows that Becky, that he's not doing the job that she was supposed to, she's not working to make literally to get married because out in the Hamptons, Biggie's only concerned about her own joy, entertainment and fun.

Ronnie:

And that's exactly right. Remember prohibition is going on strong right now in 1936. So, I mean, that was a speakeasy in offense and here they're having these huge parties. Mr. He, you know, he cares about the money. He wants to make sure that they have it, but everyone has to cut back in the depression. Even the greatest families, American royalty, everyone has to pull a little bit and, you know, restrict some pending you know, which doesn't really help it, but that's another topic for another time. But and so to have to go outward, you know, to reduce some of the maids and still have plenty and just still have a gardener to still have your accompanist and your children can have them music lessons without which it would be cruel. So she out and which it would be in my opinion, too. I want to have to have my music last, but. So he's not really asking that much. And then, so he returns from New York on the five 15, right. They're having a party. No, one's gone to collect him from the train station. So he's waiting and no one's there. She doesn't even know big. He doesn't even know which day it is. She thinks it's Thursday and it was Friday or whatever. So she's completely out of it. There, he finds his two sons who are like 10 and 11 at the time, drinking hard liquor wearing some funny hats and you know, and then these, these older women are like touching the boys and stuff and it looks really odd for a second. So he sees this as a moment of clarity. Okay. He needs to start taking back some control here because clearly no one is being responsible for anyone else here. And it's time to make some hard decisions. It

Steve:

sounds like a party

Ronnie:

to

Stephen:

me. Well, it's, it's similar to how we used to tease you that. The, the one who, you know, you sang all summer and is it the grasshopper who sang all summer?

Ronnie:

Yeah, that's Monica always coming up with bonds may have the store, the ad and the grass, Papa toiled away all summer long. The grass hopper worked and saved. And then when, when she came the till and with starving and had nothing. So she loves to take that story and tell me, that's why I know it's there when, oh,

Stephen:

I remember we were juniors in college and she was like, you're just the aunt. She sang all summer. But when little ed gets back to New York, like, you know, her father says, you know, get a job and get married. And she's not really doing that. She does find some modeling work. Her big personality gets her an audition for some theater. And she also meets a married man. Yes. The forgettable Baldwin. Yeah, totally. The Baldwin. Oh yeah. There is another Baldwin isn't there, but I did love the line whenever. Biggie's on the phone and he sounds

Steve:

awfully married to me. Yeah.

Ronnie:

Tell that to you one time.

Stephen:

I have never publicly dated a married man

Ronnie:

who biblically. So according to that vending machine with the cigarettes, there's also that number you put out along with that number of the free health clinic, honestly. And I don't know if that's still the

Stephen:

Ronnie, that was your number. So over like Mr. Biel divorces.

Ronnie:

I think since the boys to boarding school and he takes 82.

Stephen:

Yep. And the house over the years begins to fall into disarray and it's infested with fleas cats, raccoons. There's no running water, electricity or heat. And my guest is out there on the island. Those winters can probably be pretty harsh. Yes, they

Ronnie:

are rough. And you have all that stuff that comes in from the seed spray. So you know, that really, you know, to have a home on water on the ocean to have a beach front property, you really have to have the resources to keep it up the painting, the Russ, everything, because it's all that saltwater it's going to spray all over the home continually. So you have to be able to maintain it.

Stephen:

Well, you see that down here with older B Tron homes, but also interesting enough, you know, how like car batteries can last for like 10 years. They, they absolutely do not here because of the humidity and the salt in the air. The batteries have like five years maximum on our car.

Ronnie:

Oh, wow. I didn't know that. Yeah.

Steve:

Yeah. We gotta get them done all the time. And I was like, I never did it one yeah. Up north. And then down here, it's like every couple of years, it's like a time

Stephen:

for another one. And that's just because of where we are. So, you know all of the decay and the garbage is exposed because an expression IX inspection I'm good with words. You mean a

Ronnie:

raid.

Stephen:

It was a raid from the Suffolk county health department, which resulted in an article in the national Enquirer and a cover story in New York magazine. You know, that photographer showed up and literally he runs out. Yeah, by then they're recluses. And she doesn't exactly know how to deal with people. And she also will believe anything. Anybody tells them and the photographers there. And so she's just posing in front of things and they're like agreeing to pose in front of the decay and in front of the painting that the cat is peeing on. And I like

Ronnie:

your weight, Jacqueline, Jacqueline, Kennedy, eating. And

Steve:

I love when she walked into the house, just her like physical reaction to the odor. Like you really almost smelled it yourself, watching it.

Stephen:

Oh. And they're like, how did they get used to it? Like if people are gagging, it has to be that strong because Mr. Bell died, he left barely any money to big ed. Most of all went to his second one. And even because they were staunch Catholics, literally D says that she and her mother did not recognize that the divorce happened. Did they? I think she called it like a Mexican divorce or something.

Ronnie:

Yeah. And, and this is very interesting, you know, so we know, and we know in this film when big ed child's first time at the reading of the, well, I guess the reading, the weather talking about their finances, and you can tell they've just returned from the funeral, but you know, she's a big ed seven. Sealant has had her living on $150 a month for 10 years. Now we have to think like with inflation and what that really was back then she, of course, to her, it barely paid the groceries and the long distance bill, but she had there wasn't, that was not the only money first. The sons were still like, you know, the sons that started their own lives too. They had, they had law firms, they were doing well and they, they were sending money. She big ed had had two trusts. One was from one her father set up and then the other one was From the money, like, you know, that she got from feeling, although it wasn't very much, but then, you know, this is kind of crazy. I think it's like in 1942, she big ed shows up late to her son's wedding and she's dressed if an opera singer with feathers and looks completely out of it. So her father, oh yeah. She, she was like, she'd have cracked at that. You know, she shows up in an like, like, like something from Valkyrie or all, you need some horns in a breastplate, but I mean, and so her, but her father there, so little ed, his grandfather, and this would be Jacqueline Kennedy and Lee Roswell, a grandfather too. And who was major? John Bruno Bouvier Jr. He was so appalled at the way. She showed up to her son's wedding, his grandson's wedding that he cut. And then he cut her out of the will and he had been providing financial assistance as well. So, you know, that, that, that, that was another stream of revenue that was just turned off. So it was like this one thing after the other and the boys, you know, they tell them, you know, that you can move to Florida mater you can sell Greg Arden. You would, you would be able to afford staff again. You would live comfortably, just stubborn, just stubborn

Stephen:

because Marco island is off of Naples. And even today, Naples is the height of luxury for the Gulf coast.

Ronnie:

Yes. Gorgeous. I love Naples. Yeah.

Stephen:

And I love that. She says the only way she's leaving gray gardens is feet first.

Ronnie:

He tell Brent that every time we want to sell one of my property, but like my condo, the principal condo, I have a hat on the way y'all getting me out. This condo is the well finally I have to lose 20 grand. We finally get me out of there, but I'm slow about it.

Steve:

Yeah. Well, I, I, and I know that like, especially of that generation, that's how a lot of people feel and felt like even now w w working in the senior living industry, the number of times that adult children come in and they're trying to like, make a move for their parents. So it's healthier. Their quality of life is higher. And the parents like idea is like, no, I'm leaving feet first. Like, you can't make me leave my home. Like, I'll die before you can take me. You can ask

Stephen:

any salesperson in senior living. The hardest obstacle to get over with a potential resident is leaving their home.

Ronnie:

And you know, that it's there, that you know, to literally to the point where they just won't leave, you know, then if they are main two, it's probably not going to go, well, I only have their hand. I think I would rather be in something like that, I think, and have a better quality of life. That would be me, but I can see, especially, you know, this is true. Even like probably our parents, they don't want, they, I mean, that's that generation too. They don't want to do that. They want to stay in their home. I get that. I understand that. But the hoarding, decluttering and downsizing, it's not a bad thing.

Stephen:

All right. Well, just think of after 70 years, what you have accumulated just in terms of memories, right. And that would be for normal people, not what these people are doing, where they keep everything, because it goes to the summer of 1972. When Jackie and her sister Lee decided to provide the necessary funds to stabilize and repair so that it would meet the village codes. And even after they fixed it up and repainted it, it still wasn't to the level it was when they first moved out there. Yeah.

Steve:

They just made it

Ronnie:

no. And he went and he went downhill again. It w it started going back down hill. Yeah. Jack Jacqueline and Jeff Levine and Lee day-to-day started fixing out that in like 71, 72, I believe. Yeah. I believe. And then, you know, it wasn't even sold until because ed little ed, well, big ed died in 1977. Little ed went to New York, did a collaboration of blah. She went moved back to the house and she'd still stayed there another two years before she finally sold it. So. In that situation, you can't help people who won't even help you now.

Stephen:

And so Jackie, at this point in 72 was married to Aristotle Onassis, or if she calls him Ari and she used to spend her summers at grey gardens, you know, we see little ed, you know, hanging out with her babysitter, taking her to the beach. What do you believe caused her to lose touch with her cousin and aunt who were such a big part of her childhood? Do you, was it the presidency and her fame, or do you think that big and little ed becoming such recluses pulled themselves away from family?

Ronnie:

I think they pulled themselves away from family. I think they were embarrassed. You know, just like when big ed is pretending to be the housekeeper answering the phone, they, they're not, they know they have to know right on that. And we'll probably a few levels that what this looks like, how it's not. So they've pulled back a little bit. And they probably haven't been keeping in touch, you know, they became reclusive. They just didn't leave the house toward, you know, those last few years. But I did think it was weird that somehow the boys meaning big 80 sons or little EDIS brothers were any, you know, how they, must've not just come at all hardly or why would Jack non-sick come at all? You know? And then we find out that her sister Lee is just down in Montauk. So that,

Stephen:

which is right down the road, like that's a half an hour. Yeah. And,

Ronnie:

and that's

Stephen:

the thing is where were those boys? If it got to the point where there was black mold on the wall, like I, Steve, you, there is no way we would be out of touch with our family so much that their living conditions could put even close to deteriorate to something like that on our watch. Unless

Ronnie:

I agree. I agree because you know, there's a tree growing through the bedroom ceiling. They're rabid raccoon. I mean, they're eating like patch hay out of a can. But they fed the animals really wild animals were fat. They were, I think they thought over 300, 300 cats at one point were living there. And they sound like dozens of already deceased cats just around on the property. We had lived there so long, they died. And, you know, I thought with the, you know, what I told you, the story about it was a little You know that little story of like how she showed up half cracks dress, like an opera singer at one of the son's wedding in 1942, that probably caused the rift on some level. And it probably also, there was probably also a risk that had started before when the father took them away from her and send them to boarding school. The boys probably began to win at least their time off from boarding school for holidays and whatnot. They probably went to their father. And so they might have not had as strong of a relationship. And that's something you and I probably wouldn't know. Cause we don't like we have strong relationships with our parents that I think, I mean, given that time and I mean, would you want to go stay in a house with a tree coming through the window? No,

Stephen:

but

Ronnie:

no, but I get it. I just think that maybe there must have been a rip. There must have been a ripped or something.

Stephen:

Funny story. So I was down town in Sarasota at an office and in the reception area, there was a cactus that was growing through a ceiling tile. So instead of like removing the cactus or getting something else, they cut the ceiling tile. So the cactus can keep growing through, into

Ronnie:

the ceiling. Well, welcome to Greg.

Stephen:

I always like whenever I see like businesses in their greenery, I always think, ah, there's the cactus growing through the ceiling so that the documentary itself, yeah, it was selected by the library of Congress for preservation and the U S national film registry as being quote culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant in. And that was done in 2010. That

Steve:

was one year after you won that same historically significant award. Wasn't it?

Ronnie:

Well, you know, I have been through the most important parts of our country history, the thought of the rise and fall of empires in Europe, I'm an immortal.

Stephen:

When the documentary was released, it was really controversial for the depiction of their eccentricities. And in 2014, the Maysles were asked about the issue of exploiting the mentally ill, to which he replied as someone with a background in psychology, I knew better than to claim they were mentally ill. Their behavior was just the way of asserting themselves and what could be a better way to assert themselves than a film about them asserting themselves nothing more, nothing less. It's just them. They were always in control. What do you guys believe? Eccentric or mental half-ish.

Ronnie:

I mean, you know, cause mental health is so important and it's anything that came out of any silver lining out of the pandemic was that we, it has shot. I think we have huge spotlights now on mental illness and we, we, we can't just deny it or say that it's not important it's happened. And you know, it's something that is it's, it's everywhere and it dependent and really exposed some of that. Like let it, you know, really letting some sunlight in on this topic, this topic, no one ever wants to talk about. But in this case, I think. That they are not mentally ill. I think that they are extremely eccentric and probably for him the wrong time. Now, do they make poor decisions? Yeah, but that doesn't mean you're mentally ill. Just like, you know, I don't think that every little boy out there who wants to run around on a fleeing or play in a playground instead of like sitting in front of the TV with video games, needs to have Ritalin or has, you know, ADG. I don't think that just because you're poor, it means you are automatically in a slow clause, you know? I mean, I think, I think we, like, I think we paint with broad brush that really think in this case, oh, I don't think they were. I think they were there wasn't really a place for them. And then I think as the dilapidation occurred and as they became more recluse and isolation at the not interacting with people because you need human contact. But again, we know from the pandemic, people need to have human contact and. I mean, the screens are great, but it's not the same. And you have to have that. And I, I just think, you know, they didn't have that, that probably just threw fuel onto the fire.

Stephen:

I slightly disagree. I think back in 1936, they were rich and eccentric. I think over the years with letting things go into decay and whatnot that they became codependent. And they're horrible. They're hoarding is an example of a mental illness. They did become extreme hoarders. I think they probably started just as rich eccentric, but I think truly by the time the house was gone, that there was something wrong because. To live in that. And even if it's just depression, I was going to say, cause

Steve:

I have depression along with a plethora of other fun things and I would never let myself live like that or have things get to that level

Stephen:

because it's more than pride that let

Ronnie:

them, I'm thinking. I was thinking more just for like the 1930s, but now as it progressive, I think, no, I do think that it, mental illness did develop for them, especially going on into the decades, moving forward into the future. And I think that hoarding, but here here's another thing. If you've never had to collect the trash or take it out or pick up a dish, if you've never done that ever, and you probably don't even really know that much about the kitchen. Anyway, there, there are other elements here at play and could they have learned to do it? Did they, no, they didn't learn to take out the trash. They didn't know that they had to have the Suffolk company that they had to pay to have Suffolk county come and collect their trash. And so no one collected their trash.

Stephen:

You're right. And we see that with little ed, even when fetal and took her back to New York and he's like, get a job and keep a job. She didn't understand work ethic. All she saw. She never, she didn't get to learn at her father's knee, probably the way the boys did. She saw her mother who life has one big party. So literally he was not prepared to be a receptionist or a secretary. Or, you know, somebody's girl Friday, like,

Ronnie:

yeah. And if you're not, and if you're not going to get married to a Rockefeller, a Hughes, a Vanderbilt, if you're not gonna marry someone whom they considered to be appropriate and whom they considered to be a good match. And that's the only other alternative. And for second would be probably a secretary. And even then she's lucky, it's depression right after the depression, after world war two, you know, even in those years following, and then the men returned from the war and, and all the women in America lose their job to w had been working. And you know, you have all this at play and she would still have had a really nice position in his law firm, which was a big firm and still she does, but you're right. She doesn't have any idea that hadn't prepared her for that. I think it was in she had missed two years of school at some point growing up cause she had had a respiratory, a pulmonary, no, it was some sort of respiratory illness they said, but even though she was too sick for school, her mother would take her to all the theater shows. And now, you know, I mean, I don't know really if you're that sick that you can't be in school, but you can go to the figure it all the time. I heard I'll have to question that a little bit, but no, I think the co-dependence began then and I think. I don't know, like a little sidekick on those. And then, you know, oh, interesting. I have to say I'm jumping around a little here. When he sold the house in 79, they found all of this like furniture in the attics and most of it was perfectly salvageable. Yeah. That was one thing that helped with the sale

Steve:

as our historian. I mean, what was her behavior? What was her life like after she left gray gardens?

Ronnie:

I think she finally got to blossom at, around, up until like age 60. She, I mean, that was around she's in her fifties at that time, I think in the late seventies, she, she got to blossom. I think she went to New York and lived for a couple of years for the demontria hall. She went to California. She did all this stuff and she, I think it's funny in the. At the end of the movie is talking about how she, you know, she's doing a cabaret show. Well, okay, sure. It's a cabaret show, but it's at a gay bar in Greenwich village. She's like the last act. And she did that for like eight days or something like that. But yeah, that's probably her. That was probably her only OD.

Steve:

How was that performance Ronnie, when you were there live

Ronnie:

well, you know, I was preparing to go onto Montreal. Don't, you know,

Stephen:

there's one thing that I noticed that they don't actually make too big. So it's two separate things. Obviously she was suffering from stressed induced, Alabama. Yeah, and you know, her hair falling out, you could see, she didn't have eyebrows. She wore the shirts and scarves around her head. Cause some of those things were just shirts and that she clipped them in the back so that it stayed close to her head. And then the other thing is they weren't seeing any eye doctors, obviously she's an advanced reader, but she had to use a magnifying glass to be able to read because they weren't going to get glasses. Even after the house was fixed. She was still sitting there. David, I could read about your astrology in this book and see, go on average is an hour. I could never be with an average he's

Ronnie:

mother wanted me to come out and they come out that we had quite a bot.

Stephen:

So I thought that was interesting that we see. Like biggie D is 90% bedridden in the movie making corn on a hot plate in her bedroom.

Ronnie:

And there's a song about that in the musical.

Stephen:

And then the younger guy that big ed somehow fancies and let's move into the house and eat. He's like he loves the way I make my corn.

Steve:

Corn is like the

Ronnie:

way I do my card. I have another,

Stephen:

so the, the movie that we're talking about, the HBO movie was celebrated and it won six of its 17 primetime, Emmy nominations, and two out of three golden globe nominations. The documentary was the first ever documentary to be turned into a Broadway musical. Thank you for, thank you for sharing songs with us on Facebook messenger and singing some of them now. Yes,

Ronnie:

no

Stephen:

in it. Just talking about the HBO movie and the performance when it came for the Emmy Jessica Lange won best actress, but the golden globe drew Barrymore one.

Steve:

Yes. And I think drew Barrymore was just the standout role for this

Stephen:

for me. Oh, I agree. I think drew Barrymore's performance is a little ed was outstanding. Yeah,

Ronnie:

I love, I mean, I could go for either one of 'em, you know, the, the makeup, the accent, getting it just right. You know, they really did have to put some effort into the research here. It wasn't just gonna fly off the skinny of the teeth or whatever, you know, they really had to put in effort here. You can tell. And and also the efforts and how they changed over time. So it wasn't just misses. Isn't like one character, you know, we're not the same when we're 20, when we're 41, we're 61 writing. And so they really had many characters in one, I feel agreed because what is it, big ed, big ed says, it's the beginning. Everyone looks and thinks and feel differently as time goes on. And that's true.

Stephen:

You're absolutely right. And so the Maysles finished the documentary and there's going to be a premiere and little ed wants to go and big eat. He's not going to go because she doesn't leave that. And she says, literally he shouldn't go because she's an acquired taste. Is there anybody else we know that's an acquired taste.

Ronnie:

Ronnie. No, I think some people are in a quiet and a little

Stephen:

eccentric. I, so whenever she said you shouldn't go, you're an acquired taste. Like besides being cruel. I don't think that she was, I think she was being cruel because big ed, I think was afraid that if literally he got back out there and had a good time at the premier and people liked her that she would leave her.

Ronnie:

For sure. I mean, I mean, I think that the mother does have abandonment issues. She's been left by nearly everyone. She cared about her husband, her sons, her father. I mean, you know, cut off in one way or the other Gould. I mean, EV I mean, so an ed had left, but little ed had left before. So she already has experienced that. And literally he was in New York for a longer, a long time. At first, we don't really see that so much with the movie, but she was there for a longer than just a summer. It was for a few years, she was there. So she's been abandoned by little ed before and all the others. So she probably does have some abandonment issues. And she's probably saying that for selfish reasons and in a way, although it's not right, you can at least understand the rationale behind it.

Stephen:

And the fight that they have at the end is interesting where big ed says you could've left at any time. And literally he says, no, I had to be here to care for you. And they fight some more. And then finally biggie. I should've let you stay in New York city. And literally he says, no, you're right. I could have left at any time they chose each other.

Ronnie:

They did. And they were codependent. And I mean, they, they, that's how they, they survived. I

Stephen:

choose both.

Steve:

I choose one of you. I won't say which one

Ronnie:

and I to Ajax and spray farm.

Stephen:

So Ronnie, give us your final thoughts on this movie, the documentary and the family.

Ronnie:

Well, I mean, I think the movie, the documentary, if you don't have time to watch any of, all of it, the movie is really good representation of the documentary. It's almost neck and neck deducting an area, of course, as long as, but the movie will, I think, you know, the HBO with Jessica Lange, Andrew really does capture. Th th the story, I mean, it flips through time and then really paints a good picture here. I think. The family will always be, you know, well, the ones that still survive, if they have any more after Kennedy's are gone, everyone's gone. But I mean, this is one of Americans. America's great families and just see if a solid family, it touches our heart strings the bed for several reasons. So I think that, that this will be something that we'll continue to grow as in a cult following it has a cult following now. And I think we'll only see this really crescendo over time. They'll probably be another movie come out soon. They'll probably then be in musical too. I mean, who knows what they'll do with it, but there's certainly a lot that you could make with this. So I think they're here to stay for a while. I think big ed and little ed will at least remain with us for another 50 or a hundred years. Well, you know, I'm like that rash that won't go away. We got

Stephen:

an antibiotic. Thank you very much now for a large population of the younger gay community. The first time they had any experience with the Beals was jinx monsoons performance on drag race as little ed during the snatch game. That was my first experience where she did a fantastic job.

Ronnie:

Yeah, that was, that was fantastic performance. And I remember watching that episode and, you know, half, you know, RuPaul's like the only you're looking around, you're like, nobody knows the references here, except for RuPaul, who seems to be like, they go, you know what I mean? He's a reader he's cultured for sure. Right. So he knows about this. He knows all the references and you know, you look at the other contestants on theirs and they're like, whoa, what do you mean? What are you talking about? I mean, but it was, he really did a great job. And with that imitation and

Stephen:

I, the HBO movie was fantastic. Parts of the documentary were uncomfortable to watch because you're really seeing these people at their most vulnerable. And you, there are people, there are people we don't like to watch suffer and. I, I felt empathy for big and little ed and it hurt to see them become what they had become. So I'm glad that they are preserved in many mediums for the future. What about you, baby? What did you think about all of it?

Ronnie:

I have to say too. I think you did the documentary, saved them. They needed money. They needed money. They needed to somehow have the other family know what was really going on over there. And this was the only, well, this was the only effective way to do so. So in a way, the Maysles, they saved them. I agree.

Steve:

I agree. And they also immortalize them because if not, this would have been just a single newspaper story that was released and then died.

Stephen:

Right. This could have just been a story of. Jackie O and her wayward family, or Jackie O to the rescue, it became a story of these larger than life women.

Steve:

Yes. And I love its impact on gay culture. And now I understand a lot more of Ronnie's references, so I appreciate it.

Stephen:

Well, he grew up with them on Greg Gordon's no,

Ronnie:

well, you know, we were over all the time at the sea show. Don't, you know, a clam by. Well, I just love it. Mother daughter.

Stephen:

You're the one that taught little lady how to make the perfect costume for the day. I mean, rarely this is I, I just don't like skits on women with the way this, you can wrap it around and you've got the pantyhose brought up over the short, so it can really transform anything. I do feel this, the perfect costume for the dads and say Ronnie

Steve:

had sent that Mo like months and months ago. And I just watched her. I was like, what the caucus? This shit.

Ronnie:

And

Steve:

like, ah, I was gonna say, and I'm still not really sure having watched it, but I enjoy it a whole lot more.

Ronnie:

Yeah. Like when you watch that one feed and Gino can always take up the skirt and it dabbled. And you're just like, what am I watching here? My stroking out. Yes. Yes you are.

Stephen:

Well, Ronnie, thank you so much for joining us again. And for those that enjoy Rhonda. We're still shocked people do, but no, I'm kidding. We love Ronnie. Ronnie will be joining us for our all Halloween October whenever we do. Okay.

Steve:

Yes. So that is in our pipeline as well as some, another, some other amazing Halloween treats. But first I gave you the birthday gift of choosing next week's episode, my love,

Stephen:

and because I am a child of the eighties and you let me choose next week, we are discussing. Jim and the holograms, you going to say

Ronnie:

that I knew you were going to say jam. Yeah. Yes.

Steve:

And so feel

Ronnie:

free to let us know. Right. I'm not drinking. I just need that known clearly now.

Stephen:

Duly noted.

Steve:

Yes. And so audience, we'd love to hear your thoughts on gray gardens. What you think about a little in big ed, whether they are a eccentric or

Stephen:

mentally ill. Yes,

Steve:

exactly. And also what you're most excited for in October for Halloween, maybe your favorite Halloween movies. And if you have write us or engage with us on Facebook, we'll read them out loud or in a future episode.

Stephen:

Yup. And you can find us on all the socials, whether that is Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter at happy life pod.

Steve:

Yes. I let you do that this time. Thank you. And you can also email [email protected]

Stephen:

And until next time, mother Doblin stay

Ronnie:

happy.