Sunday, June 24, 2007


At least as a research tool.

It’s fantastic, in terms of having access to so much information and facts. But.

Yesterday I picked my oldest brother the priest up at the facility he’s lived in for over a year—after spending most of his life in Japan. It’s in upstate New Jersey, near the New York border. I drove him down the Jersey shore. The final leg of the trip was via 18th Avenue in Belmar. I stopped briefly at Snyder Avenue, where our maternal grandmother had a bungalow when we were kids.

The little cottage had a couple of small bedrooms on the first floor, and two even smaller ones upstairs, with ceilings I could touch even as a kid. The interior walls marking off the bedrooms were made of single planks of wood, with knotholes I could peek through at the girls changing into their bathing suits.

The shower was a wooden stall behind the house with only cold water.

The “ice box” was still an actual ice box, when I was a kid.

It was a relatively primitive place compared to a winter home then.

And not only my grandmother and mother and me and my five other still living siblings spent summers there, but cousins and friends of all of ours, including my parents and grandmother.

The place was always full of people. Lots of noise and fun, cooking and music, card games and wrestling on the little front lawn or running around in the sand of the little back yard, or the sand on the wooden floors inside, sand we dragged in on our feet and clothes.

So we stopped to take a look. But where our grandmother’s old place had been for the years of our youth, sold after she died, now stood a new, three story, giant monstrosity, twice the size, or more, of the old bungalow we remembered.

Next, all along Ocean Avenue, where there had been giant Victorian hotels several stories high, like McCann’s—with bars in their basements where many of us first got drunk—cheaper versions of the giant Victorian hotels in nearby Spring Lake, now there were two story brick condos.

At least in Spring Lake, the next town down—which as kids we always thought of as the rich peoples’ resort—the big hotels were still there, though most were remodeled and turned into condos.

It was a beautiful day, my brother thanking God for every aspect of it, as is his habit, even for his failing eyesight, a lesson my friend Selby taught me—be grateful for whatever the circumstances of your life are in the moment, and you will be happy.

He was. So was I to be with him, sharing time that I seem to have less and less of, and memories, and jokes, and laughs over the troubles of aging, him way ahead of me as he has been all his life, sixteen years my senior.

We had a great lunch with our old family friend Mary—who was like another sister to me growing up—in one of those remodeled old hotels now condos, and it was in fact more comfortable, more convenient for my brother and his walker, more stylish in many ways in fact, than the old Victorians, to my surprise.

Then I dropped him off in another nearby shore town with friends who were having a family party, a big Irish clan like our own, reminding me of those old days we were reminiscing about in the car.

I had to get back to pick up my little boy, but before I left, one of the younger members of that clan asked if I was “Michael Lally the poet” and I said yes. He started telling his aunt and others standing near us that he Googled me to discover I started out in Hollywood as a director in the 1930s, then became an actor, then a poet!

He saw the look on my face and realized that I couldn’t have been a director in the 1930s, before I was even born.

I explained that Michael Lally the director also acted in movies and on TV and was the reason I had to add my middle name “David” when I started acting professionally in movies, other than underground or alternative or whatever we called truly independent movies back in the 1960s when I first appeared in flicks.

I almost never Google myself, because I find it embarrassingly self-obsessed even just to me, and after doing it the first time and discovering there were many Michael Lallys often being mixed up with each other, it was just too silly.

Here’s one beautifully obvious example. On a site called MATCHFLICK, they have a listing for “Michael Lally” that gives his birth as June 1, 1902 in New York City. That’s the guy who became a director in the 1930s, or actually an assistant and second director.

The entry under his birth in MATCHFLICK gives only two films as his credits.

The first is THE SECRET OF ROAN INISH. But the Michael Lally in that is yet another one, from Ireland (he plays the grandfather in that great John Sayles flick).

The second is COOL WORLD (RALPH BAKSHI’S COOL WORLD as opposed to the original by Shirley Clark). I was the voice of “Sparks”—a white-haired cool cat in shades that Brad Pitt’s human character gets to throw around—the cartoon boyfriend of Kim Bassinger’s cartoon character, “Holly Wood.”


This is just one blatant example of the amount of misinformation on the web—not counting all the blogs and comments and opinions that are full of misinformation—but just sites that are meant for FACTUAL RESEARCH!

You can say, well this is a more obscure site, but even on the main movie research sites, like Yahoo’s and the one that most critics and many people I know in the movie business use, IMDb, they have me and the other Michael Lallys credits mixed up (including the son of the older Michael Lally, who after his father died inherited the plain Michael Lally name for any credits he accrued).

And you can say I should let them know, but I tried with the IMDb one and they still left many credits mixed up, and with the others, it’s like trying to break into Fort Knox to get any message to anyone who can do anything on those sites.

So, don’t believe everything you read on an internet research site. Just on my blog.


Unknown said...

yet another fascinating chapter of your biography.
i've travelled all over the globe and worked and lived in many different places on most all continents, in cities like Tokyo, Hongkong, Amsterdam, Singapore, Sydney, Seoul, Bangalore, Sao Paulo, Stockholm, NY, and more, and still I feel far poorer in life experiences.
Isn't it time to weave a fictional story around all those places and all the characters in it?

Anonymous said...

I have a friend who teaches at Fairleigh Dickinson and he forbids his students to use the Internet for research papers! But about those houses; those large monstrosities filled with unintended irony—as individual families acquire more wealth and build bigger places, the actual children and family to populate them—with their voices and laughter—grows smaller and smaller. How do you manage to make me nostalgic for a place & time I never occupied? Thanks Micheal Lally. There's no one else like you, no matter what the Internet says.

Caitlin Hotaling said...

Yep, I'm an athlete star of some college or other and other things too that of course I never even tried let alone won! And I agree with the last comment regarding the nostalgia of a place I've never been and a time I wasn't even alive in. My theory on why we can relate regardless of time or place is the human connection, family or otherwise. That primal need, whether or not we can acheive it on a daily basis, to be with others, in an intimate way. And I'm not talking about peeking through holes intimate! ;)