Wednesday, June 1, 2016

"...Diamonds, And Some Dudes, Are Forever..."

I love, admire and respect women.

Some of my best female friends are women.

I am thirty million, kabillion times in favor of equal pay, equal rights, well, hell, just good old Webster's Dictionary defined equality for all women in every way that men and women can be equal.

And as far as this latest news buzz about the iconic cinematic role of James Bond being played, next time around, by a woman?

(Game of Thrones actress Emilia Clarke and X-Files actress Gillian Anderson are reportedly up for a go).

Permit me to utilize my literary license to kill that idea.

And I don't need 007 reasons to justify my turning into Dr. No at that notion.

I can extend a defiant Goldfinger in the direction of that silliness with a mere's Moneypenny's worth of opinion.

James Bond is a man.

At least, the James Bond that has been with us since the late 1950's.

For those youngsters amongst us, who have never known life without microwave ovens, MP3 players, Smartphones and/or Real Housewives of any of the various and sundry places that not so real housewives gather to bitch and backstab, here's some news that might come as a surprise to you.

Before, long before, actually, there were digital High Def movies in IMAX3D with Dolby Surround Sound, there were remarkable, charming, even essential collections of words known as books.

These books came in many forms.

Let's take a minute for an overview.

And I'll go slowly and break it down for the Kardashian devotees in the audience.

Some books were informational, for example, the encyclopedia.

Others were instructional, for example, text books.

Some were informational, instructional and, sometimes, even inspirational.

No, I'm not talking doorknob Sarah, here, kids.

I'm talking divine Scripture.

And some books were simply stories wonderfully told of love and romance, mystery and suspense, science and fiction, ye olde kings and queens and the games they played to hold on to their thrones.

Again, we're talking Ivanhoe and A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court and A Tale of Two Cities.

Not tits and Tyrion.

These magical printed portals into action and adventure were, when first conceived and offered, unique and new, a novelty to connoisseurs of the printed page.

A novelty that came to be known as...the novel.

And somewhere around 1953, from the intriguing imagination of a once upon a time naval intelligence officer, a character sprang to life who would take us along as he traveled the globe, living dangerously on exotic locations, erotic women and ever engaging espionage.

That once upon a time naval intelligence officer?

Ian Fleming.

The exotic, erotic and ever engaging character he created?

Bond.

James Bond.

And, since 1953, through fourteen novels and, at this writing, twenty four feature length films,three generations now have thrilled, chilled and been shaken, if not stirred, by the exploits of MI6's marvelous mixture of secret missions, mayhem and manliness.

Bond.

James Bond.

Key word back there, by the way, kids?

Manliness.

Now, don't get me wrong. I have nothing at all against the idea of women being portrayed as strong, silent and steely, secure in their powers of both passion and persuasion and neither afraid, nor hesitant, to use them.

But here's why the spectre of a female being cast to shoot, seduce and serve on Her Majesty's secret service is an idea I'd just as soon see live and let die.

Two words.

Scarlet O'Hara.

Well, three words if you're one of those folks who count the "O" in O'Hara as a separate word although I think most grammarians would take umbrage at that.

I mention the distinction only by way of capitalizing on my own snarky, but supremely self satisfying, opportunities to frustrate the ignorant and uninformed by using words like "grammarians" and "umbrage".

Yes, Kardashian devotees, I'm talkin' to you.

Meanwhile, back to Tara.

Imagine that some Hollywood hack, with more money than medulla, bereft of talent in the first place and bored out of their gourd in the second place, decides that it's time to put a new spin on yet another classic for the purpose of filling overpriced theater seats with movie goers who are happy to spend the utility bill money on yet another classic that has been spun newly.

Now imagine the think tank thought process involved here.

How about Rocky Balboa as an extreme cage fighter secretly in love with a impish, eccentric 80 year old British dowager?

Hmm...thinkin' Judi Dench. She just might be up for it. Hasn't really been trendy since they killed her off in Skyfall.

Let's put a pin in that one.

Wait. Here you go.

Hannibal Lecter comes out of retirement to find out who really killed Agent Keen.

What? She's not?

Okay. Well that's T.V anyway. And not even premium cable.

So,work with me here, Kristen Stewart and Amy Schumer as a pair of therapists hilariously working with, and against, each other trying to help Hannibal Lecter kick his addiction to fava beans and Chianti.

What?

Of course, Stewart and Schumer are lesbians.

Duhh.

Hey, maybe we could get Tina Fey and Amy Pohler for a five way in Hannibal's rehab room Jacuzzi.

Whoh!.

Hold on.

Got it.

Gone With The Wind.

Scarlet O'Hara.

Yeah, I know. Dusty, oldy, moldy, yawn, snooze, tale of the old South, Civil War, never ending love, yada, yada.

Check this out.

Red O'Hara.

Huh? Yeah?

Pampered, spoiled, seductive, scheming, selfish vixen heartbreaking, ball breaking bitch.

And all man.

Oh, yeahhh.

Call the Oscar committee and tell them to start engraving the name "Johnny Depp" right now.

What? And what woman to play Rhett?

What do you mean, what woman?

Wait. Hold on.

Ashley Wilkes.

Ashley. Huh? Could go either way, right? Am I right?

At this point, as one of our favorite legendary screen spies offered in his own Academy Award winning role, "here endeth the lesson."

My problem with there being a "Jane Bond" has nothing to do with misogyny, sexism or any "ism" for that matter.

It has to do , and go ahead, turn me into a duck and call me daffy,  with what I like to think is still possible in this age of mutilation and mutation of our more sacred art forms.

Literary integrity.

Yes, I know it's an election year and, yes, I know a lot of folks are going to have to pause for a moment to Google for a refresher on what "integrity" is.

(PAUSE)

There are plenty of possible stories, plots, tales and/or adventures that could be created featuring a strong, silent, steely, seductive secret service agent played strongly, silently, steel-ly and seductively by a woman.

Without burdening her, by comparison with the original, or insulting us by way of assuming that we don't see the switch as anything other than a gimmicky she spy where a he spy should be.

And, here's the real double oh downside, if we buy a babe as Bond, where does it stop?

Larry Poppins?

Citizen Kate?

Georgia Bailey?

Samantha Spade?

Don-na Corelone?
 
Ben-Her?

I've just met a boy named Maria?

There's absolutely nothing wrong with women playing characters who are strong and self sufficient.And there's absolutely nothing wrong with men playing characters who are tender and nurturing.

But James Bond, MI6 agent 007, license to kill was created as, is now and ever should be a man.

And Scarlet O'Hara was created as, is now and ever should be a woman

We can all learn, grow and benefit by seeing things from the "other side" of whatever our God given gender is.

But when it comes to iconic characters of literature, stage and screen.

Women should be women.

Men should be men.



Wait. Hold on.

I got it.

Thunderball.....

....meets Octopussy.


































Friday, March 18, 2016

"...If It Happened Today...And Kim K. Was The Hostess....We'd All Still Be Standing There..."

Frank Sinatra, Jr. passed away this week.

First, for those under the age of, say, 35 who are saying "uh, like, wow, I thought he died a long time ago...that dude must have been, like, a hundred years old", allow me the privilege of setting you straight.

That was Frank Sinatra.

It was his son, Frank, Jr. who died.

And, no, Frank, Jr. wasn't like, a hundred years old, he was only 72.

Yes, I hear you.

"72? Wow, that's old, too."

I understand why you feel that way.

Trust me when I tell you that when you hit 71, you won't feel that way anymore.

At first, I was tempted to begin here with something glib and self serving (since that seems to be the way we're doing things now, at least if you want to be a front runner for a presidential nomination) and say something like "we've had a death in the family."

But, the truth is I'm not in any way, shape, form or strain of DNA related to the Sinatra family.

What is true, though, is that I have a history with them.

One dear surrogate father in my life, who we also lost much too soon, was Billy Strange. Although the name doesn't ring a bell, unless you're a dedicated pop music trivia geek, you have certainly heard his work, if only randomly, no matter what age you are.

A world class arranger and guitarist, Billy's work was instrumental (no pun intended) on a whole lotta the great pop records of the 1960's, everything from The Beach Boys "Fun, Fun, Fun" to his unique and what turned out to be iconic idea for a way to grab listener's attention from the get go when Nancy Sinatra recorded the original version of her big 60's hit, "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'".

A simple, but catchy, little guitar lick.


In the mid 90's as the result of my association with Billy and his association with Nancy,  I had the Trivial Pursuit-ish privilege of having one of my songs recorded by Nancy, herself, for an album entitled "One More Time".

Okay. So it wasn't Eleanor Rigby.

But it was Nancy Sinatra, okay?


Nancy's dad actually recorded a song of mine, as well, in the years before his passing in 1998, but you'll just have to take my word for that one because it's one of those "never released but somewhere in the vaults" recordings that are common in the biz.

Hey, why would I lie? I'm not running for anything.

As far as Frank, Jr. was concerned, I had no musical connection with him but did, in fact, meet him in  1994, as he traveled around the country doing industry meet and greets to hype his dad's album "Duets II", a collection of songs sung with other vocal celebs, actually, the sequel album to an earlier collection very cleverly titled....

...can you guess?

Duets.

The second collection featured such "partners" with Frank as Linda Ronstadt, Neil Diamond, Jimmy Buffett, Gladys Knight and Nashville country pop-ster Lorrie Morgan (who we'll get back to momentito)

Frank, Jr. even did a duet with da dad on the unofficial Chicago anthem, "My Kind Of Town".

The junket gathering took place in a relatively small conference room of an upscale downtown Nashville hotel, the kind of room that, once supplied with a wet bar and a nice spread, allowed for only forty or fifty of the local movers and shakers to stand and chat and drink and nosh and wait for the obligatory always five minutes too long speeches followed by the obligatory working of the room and shaking of the hands.

In those days, I was supplementing my staggering broadcasting income with a management gig with Tower Records, one of the, then, nation's largest and most powerful music retailers.

Ergo, my plus 2's and I were sufficiently able to move and shake to qualify for entry, as well as a drink and a nosh.

And the obligatory always five minutes too long speeches followed by the obligatory working of the room and shaking of the hands.

Frank, Jr. didn't arrive until Schmoozapalooza  was well underway. I remember thinking at the time that there was no shortage of pretentiousness from the get go, since we knew, for a fact, that Jr. was, in fact, actually staying in that very hotel.

I mean, I totally get the concept of "making an entrance", but, the amount of time between the opening of the wet bar and the arrival of the heir to the Chairman would have had you thinking that he was flying in from Burma.

Now, more commonly known as Myanmar.

All these twenty years later, I don't remember his actual arrival and I don't remember anything at all of what the three or four various and sundry pre-Frank speakers offered up in their always five minutes too longs.

What I do remember is Frank, Jr. living up to every comical stereotype that I had ever had of a second generation Rat Packer who was alive and well, standing right in front of us, in the year 1994, but in attitude, appearance and, did I mention attitude, was like a delightful character plopped into our midst by Rod Serling from straight out off the Vegas Strip, circa 1961.

Ring-a-ding-ding.

He was wearing a dark suit with a metal gray tie, the suit made of that fabric that was both undoubtedly no less than three grand per and right up to but not overly shining in that way that makes you just know that it would have been considered classy and tasteful for clothes horses like Tony Soprano.

In one hand, an ever present cocktail (and I never heard him say so,  but I'd be willing to bet my Nancy royalties that he referred to it as a "highball"), in the other hand, the ever present cigarette, smoke wisping just enough to complete the look without offending the tightly packed crowd of movers and shakers.

The smoker who stopped a long time ago in me couldn't help but feel just a twinge of irony mixed with poignancy at my memory of that cigarette, given the news that he died of a massive heart attack.

But, the coup de grace?

The moment that we were all waiting for even though we had, at the time, no idea of just how much we all waiting for it?

The speech, baby.

Standing behind the small, hotel furnished tabletop podium, underneath those ceiling track lights that always walk a fine line between providing quasi mood/criminal interrogation lighting  and keeping your French Fries good and hot, Frank, Jr. was, with whiskey and Winston in hand, the stuff that Saturday Night Live writers live for.

And he hadn't even spoken a word.

That's when things got classy.

And stayed classy, my friends.

The speech itself was the usual assortment of "happy to be here", "thanks for being here", "wonderful to be in Nashville", "wonderful to talk about this great new album" kind of thing.

With a couple of very special splashes of unique.

First, the words "wonderful", "great", "stupendous", basically any and all adjectives that might be synonymous in that context were almost without exception replaced by a word I've always suspected might have long ago been officially trademarked by the Sinatra men

Marvelous.

Pronounced, though, in that special Sinatra way that only a Sinatra could pronounce it.

"Mahhvuluss"

And as there can be no pancakes without syurp, no Abbott without Costello, no Kanye without narcissism on a galactic scale, there can be no "mahhvuluss" without, "ladies and gentlemen".

So, everything, album, city, gathering, even the wet bar and the nice spread were, surely, and repeatedly...

"...mahhvuluss, ladies and gentlemen, mahhvuluss..."

Oh, one more thing in that list.


Lorrie Morgan's boobs.

And not that the rest of the assembled movers and shakers, not to mention anyone who had ever come into any kind of contact with her hadn't noticed that Ms. Morgan was a healthy, fair to say, bosomy woman, not on a Dolly scale but certainly in the category that made cleavage seem like a slightly inadequate word.

But Frank, Jr. looked, acted and most obviously Vegas Strip circa 1961 spoke about, and to, those breasts as though they were part of the mammary equivalent of Larry, his brother Daryl and his other brother Daryl.

I'll give you a sec to figure that one out.

".....and I'm very proud of the mahhveulous artists we were able to have join us on this project," Jr. regaled the assembled in his best ring-a-ding rhetoric, "but none quite so talented and lovely as the mahhvuluss and vahlupchewus Ms. Lorrie Morgan, ladies and gentlemen....(cue the slight, courteously offered applause)...that's right, let's hear it for the vahlupchewus Ms. Morgan."

Junior's smile was the broadest and most sparkling that money could buy, his left hand set the highball down to wrap the entire arm around his mahhvulous and vahlupchewus co-hostess and his twinkling, dancing eyes twinkled and danced...

...and never for a single second looked away from either Daryl or Daryl.

The plus 2's and I, along with a couple of close business friends, several of them females, were, and are, no prudes or virgins in the ways of the world.

And each and every one of us would qualify to appear in any future issue of Homes and Garden's "Glass Houses of the Movers and Shakers".

But even we found ourselves alternately giggling and grimacing as we commiserated quietly to each other something along the lines of "uh, he knows we can see and hear him, right?"

Then again, the drinks were good and the spread was nice.

And, all in all, we all had a mahhvuluss time.

I've read, in recent days, more than one essay written by people who either knew, or knew well of, Frank, Jr.

And for the most part, they paint a picture of a guy who really wasn't very happy in his life.

I imagine that growing up in the shadow of an entertainment icon is no easy road.

And having to live up to the legend was surely made, at least subliminally, more difficult by being not only the son of the icon, but carrying both the blessing and burden of his name, as well.

Like I said, I never really knew the man.

Just met him the one time.

At a nice party with a wet bar and a nice spread.

Along with my friends, Lorrie Morgan.

And Daryl.

And Daryl.

All in all...a mahhvuluss memory, ladies and gentlemen...

...mahhvuluss....








Wednesday, March 16, 2016

"...So, What Will He Be Wearing Besides The Leather Jacket and the Fedora?....Depends..."

Clinton sweeps, Trump rolls on, Kasich wins one, Rubio drops out.

Florida, North Carolina, Missouri, Ohio,  Illinois all have their say.

Yeah, whatever.

Let's talk the really big news.

Indiana, baby.



Harrison Ford is set to crack his whip one more time. Disney has announced that he and Steven Spielberg will be teaming up once again for a fifth installment of Indiana Jones.

The studio said in a statement, "Indiana Jones is one of the greatest heroes in cinematic history, and we can't wait to bring him back to the screen in 2019. It's rare to have such a perfect combination of director, producers, actor and role, and we couldn't be more excited to embark on this adventure with Harrison and Steven."

The release date has been set for July 19th, 2019.

Rumors of an Indiana Jones reboot have been popping up for years with various actors rumored to be filling Harrison's shoes including Chris Pratt. Spielberg addressed the rumors back in December saying, "It's certainly not my intention to ever have another actor step into his shoes in the way there have been many actors that have played Spider-Man or Batman. There is only going to be one actor playing Indiana Jones and that's Harrison Ford."


The last Indiana Jones movie, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
, was released in 2008.



Before the lampooning begins, and you just had to know that the lampooning would begin, I'm going on record as saying that I've been an Indy supporter since day one a long time ago.

A very, very, very long time ago.

Well, okay, the lampooning just sort of happens automatically.

But, I sincerely am a Dr. Jones fan, though, and by way of proof, check it out. An admitted film buff (and yes, I know that term seems a little to the nerd side of geek, but, trust me, it's the only way that this carb loving boy is ever gonna find a way to describe himself using the word buff), I can validate my claim to Indiana Jones appreciation by testifying, truthfully, that Raiders of the Lost Ark is the only movie that I have ever, in my entire life, enjoyed enough to pay to see twice in an actual movie theater.

Twice. When Raiders first came out.

A long time ago.

A very, very, very long time ago.

That said, it's impossible to avoid, if not actually jumping on the bandwagon, for fear of breaking a hip, at least tailgating right behind the bandwagon of affectionate, but very age-ist, posts, tweets, comments and catcalls that greeted the news that 73 year old Harrison Ford will, once again, portray the daring, daunting Indy-pendant action hero.

And, just so we're accurate on the years thing, he's be closer to 75 by the time they start filming this thing.

I'll fess up right up front and admit that this here brain automatically set on "satire and/or snark" immediately kicked into third gear in the quest to pun the hell out of potential titles for this new Indy adventure.

New, and of course, at the same time, old.

Very, very, very old.

But, even I, of the quick wit and ever vigilant smart assness couldn't match the speed with which Facebook and Twitter and Instagram (and Jerry Mathers as the Beaver) came alive with suggestions for an appropriate title.

"Indiana Jones and....Wait!....What Was I Saying?"

"Indiana Jones and The Elevating Stair Chair."

"Indiana Jones and The Cruel March of Time"

"Indiana Jones and The Search for Depends."

"Indiana Jones and the Goddamn Kids On The Lawn"\

and, of course, at least one good allusion to the adventure that started them all...

"Raiders of the Lost Memory".

For me, though, the award, at least for now, goes to a more subtle, yet delightfully applicable, suggestion.

"Indiana Jones and the Perpetually Blinking Left Turn Signal"

Trust me, kids. By the time you hit, say, 60, that one is going to have you laughing until you're in danger of breaking a hip.

Okay. All in good fun.

Those of us who love Indiana Jones and who not don't want to, but cant, see anybody but Harrison Ford play the part are both excited...and taking on faith that Spielberg will come up with something that mercifully wipes out all memories of the Crystal Skull.

And it's not an exaggeration to say that, literally, millions of fans are looking forward to a brand new adventure with an old favorite.

Ah. You thought I was going to add "very, very, very old favorite" didn't you?

Well, at some point, the jokes do start to wear a little thin.

In fact, it's more accurate to say, that at some point, the jokes start to get old.

Very, very, very old.







Thursday, March 10, 2016

"...Amidst The Body Shaming And The Slut Shaming...There's Just Good Old Fashioned 'Shame On You'..."

Jerry Seinfeld nailed this a long time ago.



Kim Kardashian's recent naked picture tweets have pushed female stars to take sides. Several celebrities used International Women's Day on Tuesday (March 8th) to defend her from slut-shamers including Bette Midler and Chloë Grace Moretz who tweeted about her the day before.

Bella Thorne injected herself into the beef between Kim and Chloë writing, "I think every woman should be allowed to make their own choices with their OWN bodies soo...and it's not our place to tell them what they can and can't do with their body ..#internationalwomensday"

Abigail Breslin also joined Team Kim writing, "Slut shaming isn't chill ever. Anybody who tries to say how a woman chooses to display their OWN body is wrong, is severely misinformed and misguided."

Girl Meets World star Rowan Blanchard tweeted, "Girls being nude publicly isn't new: but isn't it nice when they can be the subject of the image, & the portrayer too?"

Gone Girl actress Emily Ratajkowski seemed to address Piers Morgan's comments about Kim writing, "Love when a man comments on a woman’s decision to post a nude photo. Her body, her career. Sexist bulls**t."

Bette also took some time to respond to Kim calling her a "fake friend" by writing, "I never tried to fake friend you. Looks like anyone can take a selfie but not everyone can take a joke..."

Miley Cyrus took to Instagram to call out all the women who are weighing in on Kim's pics by sharing a picture of the star's butt Kimoji and writing, "Dear women, you ALL are acting tacky AF! Why don't we overly (myself included) fortunate women come together and try to create and bring jobs to other women in desperate need of them so they can support not only THEMSELVES but their families! #happyinternationalwomensday. Can we all put the c***iness aside for one f***ing day and love / celebrate one another! PS no matter how hard you (or myself) work NEVER will I feel I am worthy of the comfort I live in. Because so many others while I tuck myself in at night are laying their head on the pavement, dreaming of all the things we take for granted every day. Much love to all my women!!!!"




Whatever the underlying value of all this sisterly support may, or may not be, I'm personally looking forward to the moment in Miley's maturity when her inner self esteem ratchets up to the point where she no longer feels the need to add c*** as an adjective, verb, adverb or noun.

She's getting there. But still got a long, f***ing way to go.

Meanwhile, from the Rhodes Scholar side of town, the Empress of all Things Selfie, herself, weighed in.

And, no, that's not body shaming. It's a perfectly acceptable description of one's contribution to a conversation.

So, shut the f*** up.

Sorry, Miley moment.



Kim Kardashian penned an essay on her site entitled "Happy International Women's Day" where she addressed the celebs who bashed her for posting nude pics. She wrote, "In all seriousness, I never understand why people get so bothered by what other people choose to do with their lives. I don't do drugs, I hardly drink, I've never committed a crime—and yet I'm a bad role model for being proud of my body?"

She continued, "I am empowered by my body. I am empowered by my sexuality. I am empowered by feeling comfortable in my skin. I am empowered by showing the world my flaws and not being afraid of what anyone is going to say about me. And I hope that through this platform I have been given, I can encourage the same empowerment for girls and women all over the world."

She also shouted out her husband Kanye, who she says is "so accepting and supportive and who has given me newfound confidence in myself." She also added that she wants her daughter North West to "be proud of who she is. I want her to be comfortable in her body.  I don't want her to grow up in a world where she is made to feel less-than for embracing everything it means to be a woman."

She ended her essay with, "It's 2016. The body-shaming and slut-shaming—it's like, enough is enough. I will not live my life dictated by the issues you have with my sexuality. You be you and let me be me. I am a mother. I am a wife, a sister, a daughter, an entrepreneur and I am allowed to be sexy."


Okay.

Now, he said, as the plot thickened, we have Sharon Osborne "givin' that girl some skin" support.




















And, of course, now, Bette who has taken the nude up a notch with her mock-bitchy backhand.


Well, fun is fun and who amongst us can't enjoy a guffaw or two in these troubling, boy, we sure could use some guffaws times in which we find ourselves.

But let's get back to Kim and her decision to stand up for women by stripping away the....well, actually, just stripping away.

Again.

For what seems like the kabillionth time.

And, with all due respect ("....and Mr. Dennit, I said with all due respect...") here's the problem that I have with Kim's kause and, frankly, Kim's whole kollection of komedy kapers.

Respectfully submitted in the form of an open letter.


Dear Kim...

Can I call you Kim? I feel like I know you. Scratch that. I've seen you completely naked a kabillion times so, surely, calling you by your first name won't stretch the parameters of proper too much.

Or at all.

You don't know me from Adam and although my work does put my name in various and sundry "public" places from time to time, I'm pretty sure you haven't come across it. Chances are good that you simply never have the occasion to wander over into my world.

Or the world that everyone except you and your family/entourage inhabit.

But I don't want to go off topic and start talking about both the bubble in which you live and the bubble which, in your case, is almost always followed by the word "head".

Let me just put it to you directly.

You're out of your league when it comes to advocacy.

Wait. That was the wrong thing to say.

You are way, way, way out of your league when it comes to advocacy.

Because while the cause that you profess to represent is noble enough, your motives for representing it are mendacious.

I was going to call your motives disingenuous but that word means "not candid or sincere, typically by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does" and I'm convinced that it's literally impossible for you to know less than you do.

As far as mendacious goes, by the way, put down the Vanity Fair for five minutes and pick up a Thesauraus.

Here's the naked truth.

You are not a talent, you are not an artist, you are not accomplished, you are not a prodigy or proficient.

You are, in fairness, a purveyor and a peddler (actually, that was a trick two fer, those words mean the same thing...again, princess, Thesaurus...) marketing a product that has been, by anyone's reasonable definition, phenomenally successful.

Again, in fairness, though, credit for that has to go to your mother. Because we, all of us, every ding damn one of us, know that while you and your sisters might be "sellin' it, honey", it was your mother who sold you and your sisters to every ding damn one of us in the first place.

And while this latest aureola adventure of yours might get you some "atta, girls" from some of the show biz sistahood and, of course, the millions of young girl between the ages of 8 and 14 who think that you and Larry and Curly are the hippest of the hippest, the rest of the population, and more importantly, the young women older than 15 who have a brain in their head recognize what you're doing and who you are for exactly what they are.

Yet another moment in a long history of moments where the spotlight fades from you just long enough to cause sufficient panic on your part to compel you to brighten that light with yet another smartphone scream of "see my titties???".

Don't get me wrong. I'm a healthy American male, gray haired years of living notwithstanding, and I'm totally down with naked, both as a concept and as a sensory delight.

But your nudity is offensive.

Not for what it shows.

But for what you're doing with it.

Flashing your naked body to a global audience and trying to rationalize, justify and/or legitimize it with a faux Norma Rae malarkey about empowerment.

You want to know what people think empowerment looks like?

Put that Vanity Fair back down again, princess, and pick up an encyclopedia.

Read about, say, Rosa Parks.

That's empowerment, baby.

And all she did was sit down.

Fully clothed.

Your nudity is offensive because you're not really using it to further a cause.

You're using the cause as an excuse to post yet another naked picture of yourself.

Because that's what you do.

Get naked.

Take pictures.

Not a talent, not an art, not an accomplishment.

Just an embarrassment.

And an insult to those who really need to feel unashamed and empowered.

Jerry Seinfeld nailed it a long time ago.

There's good naked...and there's bad naked.

And you and your pathetic need to be noticed?

Bad naked, Kimmy.

Bad naked.












Wednesday, March 9, 2016

".....John, Paul, George, Ringo...and George..."

George Martin is dead at the age of 90.

Discovering his passing upon opening eyes and Facebook first thing this AM, I immediately experienced two things.


First, an almost instinctive temptation to be clever, disguised as poignant, by sharing the headline in some lyrical way.

"I read the news today, oh, boy..."

"All things must pass..."

"And in the end..."

Like that.

Second, realizing that offering some words in praise of this man who was a very important part of the 1960's was going to require, in the year 2016, some answers to questions bound to be asked by those in the population under the age of say, 50.

The first, and most likely, question being, of course....

"...who...?"

To the first, let's just leave it at the examples I shared of ways that I could have been clever had I chosen to go the clever way (although there is a case to be made that opting to not be clever about it by sharing the ways in which I would be clever about it was, it turns out, somewhat clever).

As to the second, here's a garden variety bio I cut and pasted from Pulse of Radio, one of many garden variety broadcasting show prep websites.

 
George Martin, who was the man most people considered the true "fifth" Beatle was a staff producer at EMI Records and head of the label's Parlophone imprint, signed the Beatles in 1962 and served as their producer for the duration of their career -- along with overseeing such modern-era projects as The Beatles Anthology and -- with son Giles Martin -- the music to the Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil show, The Beatles LOVE. His knack for orchestration served the Beatles in such timeless recordings as "Yesterday," "Eleanor Rigby," "Penny Lane," "Strawberry Fields Forever," "A Day In The Life," and "Let It Be" -- with Martin himself supplying piano on such legendary tracks as "In My Life," "Lovely Rita," "Good Day Sunshine," and "Rocky Raccoon," among many others.

Martin also produced numerous comedy and novelty records. His first hit for Parlophone in 1952 with the Peter Ustinov single "Mock Mozart" – a record reluctantly released by EMI but successful after all.  Later that decade Martin worked with Peter Sellers on two very popular comedy LPs. One was released on 10" format and called "The Best Of Sellers", the second released in 1957 being called "Songs for Swinging Sellers" (a spoof on Frank Sinatra's LP "Songs for Swinging Lovers"). 

His production of British comic Spike Milligan and his Goonies albums are considered classics of the genre'.

In later years, Martin started AIR Studios and over the course of his career produced key recordings by America, Jeff Beck, Cilla Black, Cheap Trick, Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Carly Simon, Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Getz, Kenny Rogers, Neil Sedaka, Jimmy Webb, Dire Straits, Peter Gabriel, Sting, Meat Loaf, Celine Dion, and Kate Bush.

In 1997, Martin produced Elton John’s remake of "Candle In The Wind" as a tribute to Princess Diana, which went on to become the second-biggest selling single of all time.

In the early-1980's Martin produced a trio of Paul McCartney albums -- Tug Of War, Pipes Of Peace, and Give My Regards To Broadstreet, marking his first production work since his 1973 teamup with McCartney for Wings' theme to the 007 James Bond film, Live And Let Die. He continued to occasionally orchestrate the odd McCartney track.




The accolades and tributes for a man of Martin's sonic contributions will come sure and steady for the next couple of news cycles, a refreshing, welcome, high class time out from the noise of the low class clown car of American politics roaring around the track.

The best, and most appropriate, in my humble o, of that praise coming from the four who became fab thanks to George Martin bringing them to our radios and our record stores and our world in 1964.

Starting with John Lennon.

“We did a lot of learning together. He had a very great musical knowledge and background, so he could translate for us and suggest a lot of things; which he did. And he’d come up with amazing technical things, like slowing down the piano, playing it slow and putting it on. . . . and things like that. Where who’d be saying: ‘Well can we, we wanna go ‘ooh’ and ‘eee-eee’ and he’d say (imitates Martin), ‘Look chaps, I thought of this this afternoon. Last evening I was talking to . . . .’ - whoever he was talking to - ‘. . . and I came up with this.’ Y’know, and we’d say, ‘Oh, great!’ But he’d also come up with things like, ‘Well, have you heard an oboe?’ -- ‘’Oh, which one’s that?’ -- ‘It’s this one.’”

 And Paul McCartney, talking about the aforementioned timeless orchestration George Martin brought to the iconic pop music ballad, "Yesterday".

“It was basically studio musicians that George Martin would book. ‘Cause George was the one who knew the classical field -- we didn’t have a clue at all. George was always very good; he always got the best people.”

Ringo, of course, sent peace and lover and best wishes to the family and, surely, not without a fond and affectionate remembrance of his own unusual beginnings with the producer, a story that Martin, himself, was never reluctant to tell on himself.

"I didn't even know the guy was coming. I'd had this fellow, Pete Best, and I didn't. . . I thought we could do better and I booked a good session drummer (Andy White) to replace him, and then the boys turn up with a fellow called 'Ringo Starr.' And they say, 'He's our new drummer.' And I said, 'No, no he's not. I booked this fellow. We're paying good money for this chap. I'll let your fellow in later on, but I want to be sure of this track.'"

 
And George Harrison, who, as the pop history books will tell, was the subject of the last work George Martin's did before retiring, crafting the soundtrack for Beatles' 2006 Cirque du Soleil LOVE production and soundtrack. He composed his final score for hire to accompany George Harrison's 1968 demo for "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," which was officially released in 1996 on The Beatles Anthology 3 collection.


"The song itself, on the Anthology is a demo and then someone had the idea of asking me to write a score of this demo. And this was a bit of a shock for me, because I never thought I'd be writing a score for George long after he died. And also with (his wife) Olivia listening to it, I had to write something that she would like, as well as something the show would like. And anyway, we did it, she came to the session and I could see by the look on her face she approved it, so that was okay, and everyone seemed to think that it worked very well ["It was fairly emotional going back on all the stuff I'd done so long ago. But of course, I had Giles with me -- my son -- who's got a great pair of ears, and his help on this was absolutely vital, I think, because first thing his did was to transfer everything that was on tape to hard disc, to preserve it, because these tapes, some of these tapes were very fragile, and now, I mean, they're over 40-years-old."


And those songs that George Martin was speaking of are now, at this writing, on the day after his passing, over 50 years old.

And yet....

....by some what now seems a little poetically ironic coincidence, a friend and I were having a conversation about the current state of pop music, in particular, a meme that has floated to the surface a time or two in recent months on social media.


In the course of that conversation, I mentioned, as I've shared both in print and on air more than once, that the subjectivity of the art of music and/or one's personal tastes acknowledged and notwithstanding, that it was a pretty safe bet that come, say, fifty years from now, the amount of attention, even awareness, let alone the amount of listening to, and, even, purchasing of today's popular music will be minimal, at best. Meanwhile, the recorded work of The Beatles, if no other of George Martin's recording studio proteges, will continue to be discovered and enjoyed by each new generation.

Put more bluntly....

2066....industry sources report overwhelming demand and skyrocketing sales for the newly released "Nicki Minaj Anthology."

Uh, no. Not so much.

The music of The Beatles?

Still just as popular and beloved as it was a hundred years ago, in 1966.

Oh... and the poetic irony of the conversation that I referred to a few moments ago?

My friend and I just had that conversation....yesterday.

Somehow, you just had to know that I wasn't going to be able to completely resist the clever thing.

But, also, somehow, I can't help but think that a man with the extraordinary talent, wit and remarkable style of the marvelous maestro who produced Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan, not to mention four cheeky lads from Liverpool, would fully appreciate the clever.

Thank you, Sir George Martin. I have listened to every Beatle recording you gave us for fifty plus years now...and...

In my life....I've loved them all.








Tuesday, February 23, 2016

"...Here's The Bet...Forty Years From Today...."Rihanna-The Anthology".....How Many Copies Sold?...How Much Money You Got?..."

One of life's more amusing paradoxes.

When we're young, we assume we know everything.

When we're old, we pretty much know everything worth knowing and, yet, realize it's time wasted trying to offer the young the benefit of that knowledge.

For one of the more illustrative examples, one need only turn to musical tastes.

Yesterday, in the course of a garden variety perusal of social media, I came across a video of Heart's much talked about performance of "Stairway To Heaven" at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2012.

By the way, I started to end that last sentence with "...Led Zeppelin's classic, 'Stairway To Heaven'..." but those who need to be given that much detail either
   a) aren't going to read much further at this point anyway.
   b) won't come within a hundred websites of this blog in the first place.

Transfixed as I generally am when I run across that video, I shared/sent it along down the posting pipeline with the dual purpose of giving already fans and/or generational peers a few minutes of enjoyment and, ideally, shining a little light of discovery that the young might follow back to the riches of music from the sixties and seventies that await them.

Along with the video itself, I offered this two cents/heartfelt moment of reflection...


imagine the joy...and excruciating pressure ...of performing that song in front of those guys.......
and while every generation has its musical heroes, I am reminded, every time I watch this, that, forty years from now, nothing from this time will have anything remotely close to this kind of emotional impact then....how sad that is for the kids now....and how lucky we were to be part of that era.....



As opposed to just rattling that observation right off the tip of my tongue/fingers, as the case may be, I actually found myself spending a few moments considering just exactly how I wanted to convey the message that, based on contemporary contribution, contemporary kids simply aren't going to be blessed with the quality of musical heritage that has been gifted to my life cohorts and me.

Those kind of "in my day" observations so easily come off as condescending or patronizing or, even, denigrating.

Because every generation does, in fact, have its own musical heroes.

So I said what I said and, as Forrest, Forrest Gump might offer, that was all I had to say about that.

Fast forward to today.

This morning, in the course of a garden variety perusal of social media, I came across a video of Rhianna's newest single release, a song entitled "Work".

And along with the song and video themselves, this little news item was attached.


Rihanna has broken another record with her new single “Work” featuring Drake. The song is now number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 -- making it the singer’s 14th number one single. RiRi is now third all time on the list of artists with the most Hot 100 no. 1’s, beating out Michael Jackson’s thirteen and now only Mariah Carey (18) and The Beatles (20) stand before her.



 

First, let's just be honest with each other.

Nobody likes to see the legends of their lives eclipsed by the legends of subsequent generations.

I was, for example, respectfully admiring of Mark McGwire's accomplishment while, at the same time, not at all thrilled that he had knocked my own childhood hero, Roger Maris', record down a notch on the list.

And reading and hearing that Rihanna is now a mere seven number one's away from eclipsing The Beatles by topping that chart of number one chart hits isn't exactly flipping my skirt either.

Even if seven more number ones sounds like a pretty tall mountain to climb, you have to take a couple of things into consideration here.

1. Rihanna is still very young and barring, God forbid, any unforeseen tragedy, or her getting anywhere near getting back with Chris Brown, chances are pretty good that she will see those next seven number ones come ka-chinging along before you can say "what? eight years of Hillary is over already?"

2. The process of getting to number one status with a song on the pop charts is measurably different in 2016 than in was in 1966. Which shouldn't take anything away from Rhianna's possible achievement down the road as that whole 154/162 games nonsense when Maris did his thing in 1961.

Worst case, Rihanna gets an asterisk, too.

Meanwhile, back at the point.

I listened to as much of Rihanna's newest chart topper as both my birth date, and musical sensibilities, would allow and, as I was about to find, truth be told, some sweet relief in the form of a stop play button, I realized that this particular hip and happening hit is, at the very least, simply the latest illustration of a theory, ne' belief, regarding the past, present and future of popular music to which I have both subscribed and shared on air more than once through the years.

Simply put, it goes a little something like this.

Turn on any radio in the year 2016, wander around the frequencies and chances are you're going to hear, with very little wandering, both Rihanna's latest chart topper and, let's say, The Beatles 1965 chart topper, "I Feel Fine".

"I Feel Fine", by the way, was the sixth of the 20 number ones credited to the Fabs, Factoid provided as a public service for those who enjoy factoids with their beverage of choice and/or advancement of the theory that today's music doesn't hold a candle to the music of yesterday.

When all our troubles seemed so far away.

Now, fast forward to, say, 2056.

Turn on any broadcasting device, wander around whatever the 2056 equivalent of frequencies will be and chances are you're going to hear, with very little wandering, The Beatles 1965 chart topper, "I Feel Fine".

Rihanna?

Not so much.

And it's not because the Beatles work was of a more durable, lasting and enduring quality than that of Rihanna or any of her dozens/hundreds of contemporary peers.

Actually, you know what?

That's exactly why.

I can't prove it to you. And, barring any remarkable biological breakthroughs, chances are very very good that I'm not going to be around in 2056 to say "I told you, so."

All I can offer you, by way of a guarantee, is this.

Trust me.

I know what I'm talking about.

You see, I'm old now.

And I actually do know everything.





Tuesday, February 16, 2016

"...And The Winner Is....No, Really, We Mean It....THE Winner Is......"

Interesting thing about the Grammys.

And we're not talking Gaga's shoes.

Necessarily.

Here's a thing.


When reading an entire list of winners in respective categories, one could easily get the impression that the Grammy Awards are a veritable plethora of diversity and variety, shining a respectful and admiring spotlight on a wide ranging, multi-talented, multi-ethnic, multi, multi group of writers, producers, singers and/or performers.

(The "and/or" there is intentional, given the long established evidence that a singer, for example, is not necessarily much of a performer and, of course, a performer might not be much of a singer. Miranda Lambert comes to mind. Due respect and all that, you know).

Fact is that, actually, that spotlight of diversity is less illumination than it is illusion.

And it has nothing to do with racial inequality.

We have the Oscars for that.

Consider this (considerably) truncated list of last night's winners.


  • Album of the Year: Taylor Swift, 1989
  • Best Pop Vocal Album: Taylor Swift, 1989
  • Best Rock Performance: Alabama Shakes, "Don't Wanna Fight"
  • Best Rock Song: Alabama Shakes, "Don't Wanna Fight"
  • Best Alternative Music Album: Alabama Shakes, Sound & Color
  • Best Country Album: Chris Stapleton, Traveller
  • Best Country Solo Performance: Chris Stapleton, Traveller
  • Best Country Duo/Group Performance: Little Big Town, "Girl Crush"
  • Best Country Song: Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna, Liz Rose, "Girl Crush"
  • Best Rap Album: Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly
  • Best Rap Performance: Kendrick Lamar, "Alright"
  • Best Rap/Sung Collaboration: Kendrick Lamar featuring Bilal, Anna Wise, Thundercat, "These Walls"
  • Best Rap Song: Kendrick Lamar, Kawan Prather, Sounwave, Pharrell Williams, "Alright"


13 prestigious awards given in recognition of unique and culturally impacting "artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position."  (The italicized portion a direct lift from the Recording Academy's own mission statement)

13 awards.

And, co-writers momentarily notwithstanding, 5, count em', 5 actual winners.

Of 13 awards.

Don't misunderstand here, mind you I'm not plugging in and flipping on this "As Seen On TV" axe grinder that I just bought, but I do find it pretty much impossible to not offer up one familiar audio offering.

Hmmm.

And...let's think about this for a minute.

How many albums released in the eligibility year 2015?

Couldn't tell you. I gave Google a shot but all I could find were lists that would have taken hours to add up.

So, let's ballpark it this way.

200 albums, at any given time, on the Billboard Top 200 Chart.

Even if the chart comprehensively refreshes itself just twice in a calendar year (and that may be a conservative refresh estimate) we're talking 600 albums.

Yes, I know that 200 twice is 400. We're talking there were 200 to begin with and then another 200 and then another 200,

Total 600.

Better not let the IRS get a look at your tax return.

Okay, so we're talking 600 albums released minimum.

And that's just "charted" albums.

That doesn't count the myriad of music released on major labels that don't chart or albums released on medium, small, tiny and/or garage/basement based indy labels that never see any real light of day, airplay and have only a Carly Fiorina chance of being submitted for your approval..

Let's be Ted Cruz-ishly conservative here and say 2000 albums in the qualifying year.

That brings our total to...

2600 albums.

Minimum. Conservatively speaking.

Two thousand, six hundred albums released in the eligibility year 2015.

And, to play fair, let's say that 80% of them are crap.

80.0002, of course, if you include Kanye in that count.

80% if 2600 is 2080.

Which leaves us with 520 released albums worthy of consideration.

Minimum. Conservatively speaking.

520 albums worthy of consideration as potential Grammy nominees.

And just five people, between them, won 13 awards.



mu·sic
ˈmyo͞ozik/
noun
1.

vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) combined in such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion.


 



 


 
pat·tern
ˈpadərn/

noun: pattern; plural noun: patterns
1.



a combination of qualities, acts, tendencies, etc., forming a consistent or characteristic arrangement


5 people.

13 awards.

Sensing a pattern here?

It's ludicrous, of course, to insinuate that there should be hundreds of awards doled out at these things. Be they Grammys or Oscars or Emmys or Tonys.

It only seems like that's what they're doing sometimes. Cheesy comedy bits, badly written "witty repartee" between presenters and four minutes of commercials for every three minutes of actual ceremony accounting for that "dear God in Heaven, will this never end???" feeling. 

But, it doesn't take a Mensa member to recognize the very human quality of these award dealies.

We like the idea of diversity and variety.

But we love the idea of familiarity.

None of which, of course, should take anything away from all those folks who were nominated or those five folks who bagged those thirteen awards.

After all, it's an honor just to be nominated.

Two co-writer friends of mine, and I, were, in fact, nominated for a Grammy some years ago.

We didn't win.

But it was an honor just to.....yeah, whatever.

Bottom line here is that, this morning, at least five people in the music business woke up proud and happy.

And good for them.

Everybody loves a winner.

So imagine how much they must love a winner/winner/winner/winner/winner.

Here's a thought, though.

Let's pick up that rock lying just outside the box to kill a couple of birds.

Next year, how about they give the awards out in clusters?

Kendrick Lamar, for example, would have come to the stage last night once and been recognized for all four of his Grammys.

Alabama Shakes, their three.

You get the idea.

And the ceremony would be tight, timely and feel superbly streamlined.

In fact, come to think of it, given what's likely,  next year's ceremony could very easily be pared down to a sleek, sexy thirty minutes.

18 minutes of commercials and/or performance. Potato, patahto.

An easily bearable 5 minutes of badly written witty repartee' between presenters.

3 minutes of host intro, outro, yada yada.

And four glorious minutes of Grammys awarded and acceptance speeched.

At one time.

By one winner.

Adele.












Wednesday, February 10, 2016

"...As Rodney King Might Say, 'Can't We All Just Sing Along With Bruno'?..."

Old saying.

Two wrongs don't make a right.

New saying.

Just ahead.

First, the following article, published at CNN.com, authored by Roxanne Jones and entitled "Right Voice, Right Time".


Roxanne Jones, a founding editor of ESPN Magazine and former vice president at ESPN, has worked as a producer and as a reporter at the New York Daily News and The Philadelphia Inquirer. She was named a 2010 Woman of the Year by Women in Sports and Events. Jones is a co-author of "Say It Loud: An Illustrated History of the Black Athlete" and CEO of the Push Marketing Group. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.


(CNN)    Unapologetically black, that is the attitude that Beyonce -- and to a large degree Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton -- brought to Super Bowl 50. And as a lifelong NFL fan who's attended more than 15 Super Bowls, Bey and her perfectly timed, bold, Black Panther-inspired halftime tribute was a beautiful thing to behold. It was everything.

Without asking for permission, Beyonce redefined what it means for a celebrity to command the stage while the whole world is watching. Going beyond the game and the glitter, the 34-year-old pop icon used her star power to shine a light on the problem of race in America. Singing a cleaned-up version of her new single release, "Formation," Beyonce dared to use the nation's most-viewed event as a platform to shout #blacklivesmatter. 

There were nods to Michael Jackson, to Black Greek step shows, to Malcolm X and a salute to the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panthers. For a minute, watching Beyonce and those strong black women sporting black berets and big afros march out onto the field, I forgot I was watching a Super Bowl performance. For the first time I felt like I wasn't just a spectator of the game but that the game had become a part of my black experience in America. With just a few lyrics, Beyonce connected with black women everywhere. Her performance became personal.

I like my baby hair, with baby hair and afros
I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils

Earned all this money but they neva take the country out me
I got a hot sauce in my bag, swag

Add in the pro-LGBTQ messaging of Coldplay's performance and the soulful rendition of Lady Gaga, who has long stood with the gay community, belting out the national anthem, and you have a vision of an America that I aspire to live in one day. A nation where equality and justice aren't just reflected in the words we recite, but in our everyday interactions with one another. It is a vision of America for which men such as Malcolm X, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Huey Newton and too many of my ancestors and their advocates fought and died.

Sadly, it is a vision of America that still scares some people.

So predictably, the Beyonce bashers were out in force, calling the halftime performance politically charged, an assault on police officers, scandalous. "This is football, not Hollywood," former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani complained later, showing just how out of touch he is with sports culture. 

The truth is the star-studded, billion-dollar industry that is the NFL merged with Hollywood long ago.

The problem is that Giuliani and those critics are out of touch with a lot more than sports. They are out of touch with America. They act as if the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, which disproportionately affected poor blacks, didn't happen on American soil. As if, far too many unarmed black men and boys haven't been shot and killed by police officers on American soil. As if, systematic racism doesn't exist in America. And, as if we don't have a right to protest this brutality and demand law enforcement reforms by proclaiming #blacklivesmatter. Like it or not, Giuliani, Beyonce's message was right on time.


Her "Formation" video features scenes of a young black boy dancing in front of riot police, who signal their surrender by putting their hands up, referencing the "Hands up, don't shoot" anthem of the Black Lives Matter movement inspired by the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Tidal, the streaming service of her husband, Jay Z, reportedly plans to donate $1.5 million to Black Lives Matter.

We tend to criticize celebrities for talking about politics, for taking a stand on serious issues. We resent it when stars such as Cam Newton confront race head-on as he did before the big game, saying that many fans dislike him because he's a brash, black quarterback. But in our pop culture-crazed, message-driven world, there's no denying celebrity voices can influence the lives of many. Celebrities such as Beyonce, Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars are part of a refreshing generation of famous voices who are showing that fame can and should be used to push for social justice. 

So I say, thank you Queen Bey, for having the creative courage to join the fight for justice. You slayed.




First, as a rule, I don't have anything but admiration for anyone, up to and including celebrities, who are willing to take a stand for something in which they passionately believe.

The operative term in that last sentence, though, being "as a rule".

Second, although I'm not particularly either enamored of, nor repelled by, the contribution that Beyonce makes to the Billboard charts, I would adamantly refute anyone who attempted to accuse me of being a "BeyBasher".

Those disclaimers divulged, here's my considered, and respectfully offered, reaction to what Ms. Jones has to say in her op/ed.

Puh-leeze.

Fifty plus years ago, Ted Dealey, the then owner and publisher of the Dallas Morning News was one of several prominent newspaper executives invited to visit with the President for coffee and conversation.

Dealey took it upon himself to throw caution, and good manners, to the wind and, in front of the entire group, berate the President for what he believed to be an unsatisfactory performance in office by the Chief Executive.

In what he apparently considered to be an oration of powerful patriotism, Dealey informed the President that what America needed was "a leader on horseback" and what Dealey, and his readership, were getting for their money was a President "riding his daughter's tricycle."

The daughter Dealey referred to by name was Caroline.

And the President who was rudely taken to task was, of course, Caroline's daddy.

John F. Kennedy.

Kennedy responded with some tough language of his own, putting Dealey in his place and not bothering to waste time or breath trying to make the newspaper tycoon understand that what was objectionable wasn't the criticism, but the allusion to his six year old little girl.

A tasteless, classless and completely inappropriate show of discourtesy.

Oh, and not for nothing, but, yes, Ted Dealey was of the same Dealey family that had been prominent in Dallas politics for generations.

So prominent, in fact, that a large chunk of downtown Dallas was named in honor of them.

Perhaps you've read of it through the years.

Dealey Plaza.

Roxanne Jones seems to be fervently faithful to the belief that Beyonce's performance at the Super Bowl was nothing short of a Rosa Parks moment, an expression of moral outrage and courage, focusing a global spotlight on injustice and inequality.

Again...puh-leeze.

Rosa Parks civilly disobeyed a city ordinance, was taken off the bus and went to jail.

That simple brave gesture was a ripple that eventually generated a wave of activism, conflict and, in no small measure, change.

Beyonce exploited the availability of a global spotlight to promote a new single release and disguised the exploitation in a cloak of protest and racial resentment. At the conclusion of the "entertainment", she was assisted to her limo and, escorted by a full contingent of the same kind of police officers she had denigrated in the "act", was driven to her luxury weekend accommodations, acquired through AirBnB to the tune of ten grand for the weekend. One can only assume that a splendid smorgasbord of edible and drinkable delights was ready and waiting her arrival.

Not exactly three hots and a cot, there, Rosa.

And while Super Bowl performers are not, by NFL policy, "paid" for their appearance, all expenses incurred resulting from that appearance are paid.

Reasonable estimates put the figure in the neighborhood of $600,000.

Not a bad neighborhood, by any stretch.

And let's not forget the aforementioned promotion of her new single, seen, and heard, on the telecast to the tune of 112 million people, give or take, in the U.S. alone.

Not a bad tune, either.

No reasonable person would fault Beyonce, or any other citizen, for that matter, for expressing a point of view.

Hijacking the half time show of the Super Bowl was, at the very least, bad business judgement.

Because for every one watcher/listener throwing their blanketed pig to the coffee table in solidarity and screaming "testify, sistah!", there were, rest assured, a couple of dozen watcher/listeners throwing their blanketed pig to their coffee tables in annoyance and/or disgust and screaming "what the fuck?....like having to listen to Coldplay isn't enough?"

And hijacking the half time show of the Super Bowl was, at worst,...

...a tasteless, classless and completely inappropriate show of discourtesy.

Roxanne Jones wrote a little over 700 words praising, and proselytizing on behalf of, "Queen Bey" and her courageous, controversial choreography.

Due respect, I've got a rebuttal that consists of just two words.

Pish.

Tosh.

And the title of Jones' article?

"Right Voice, Right Time"?

Brings us to that new saying I promised at the outset.

Two rights can be oh, so wrong.





Tuesday, February 9, 2016

"...Given What Lennon Eventually Said About Jesus, Seems Like Sunday Night Was The Perfect Place to Start It All...."

It was fifty two years ago today / Ed Sullivan booked a band to play

And still guaranteed to raise a smile / they've never yet gone out of style

Ed introduced to me and you / the act you've known for all these years.

Four kids from Liverpool who were once told by a major record label executive that "groups with guitars are on the way out."

That turned out to be one of history's less insightful predictions.

Today, February 9, is the fifty second anniversary of the first appearance of The Beatles on the Sunday night variety program that, in those days, was that time's equivalent of "must see TV", The Ed Sullivan Show.

Fifty two years accounts for a whole lot of words having been said, shared, printed and/or posted about that time, that night, those guys and that music.

So, in the spirit of commemoration, while trying to prevent a predictable lack of concentration, let's just hit a few, quick anecdotal reminiscences.

Ringo Starr on their concern about the quality of the sound the American TV audience would hear...

"The main thing I was aware of when we did the first Ed Sullivan Show was that we rehearsed all afternoon. Y'know, TV was such bad sound, so we would have 'em, like, tape our rehearsals, and we'd go up and we'd mess with the dials, y'know, that they had in the control booth. So we'd sort of got it all set with the engineer there, and we went off for a break, and -- the story has it, 'cause we didn't see it -- but the cleaner came in (laughs) while we were out, and she came to clean the room and the console, and thought, 'What are all these chalk marks?', and wiped them all off. So then we had a real hasty time trying to get some sound." 

George Harrison on one socially beneficial phenomenon of the Fab Four appearance that night...

"Later, they said that there was the least reported, or there was no reported crime. Even the criminals had a rest for, like, 10 minutes, while we were on."
 
And then future superstar Bruce Springsteen on the impact that Sunday night had on the culture...

"This was different. 'Shifted the lay of the land; four guys, playing and singing, writing their own material. There was no longer going to be a music producer apart from the singer, a singer who didn't write, a writer that didn't sing. It changed the way things were done. The Beatles were cool, they were classical, they were formal and created the idea of an independent unit where everything could come out of your garage."

It really was something very special.

And unique, in the sense that the culture and the country, for that matter, the world, has never really seen anything like it since.

Time and its passage, though, take a little bit of a toll.

The music, along with a little of the magic, have survived half a century, even, some might argue, continued to flourish.

The excitement, the real, palpable feeling in the pit of the stomach and center of the heart that something extraordinary was happening right before our eyes and ears....

well, that part of it, in fairness, falls into the category of "you really had to be there."

But, trust me, it really was something to see.

And hear.

Paradoxically, the music, and its impact, has continued to charm and connect to this very day.

While the band itself was, for all intents and purposes, done and done just seventy two short months after that Sullivan Sunday night.

But their contribution to the culture was undeniable.

And our affection for them both powerful and, well, affecting.

So powerful and affecting, in fact, that just eight years later, to the day, that the Fabs sang their songs on Sullivan, Paul McCartney debuted his first post-Beatles effort, Wings, in small university settings.

And...wow...were we excited about what was next in the Beatles history?

Damn right we were.

And did we eagerly hang on every note and chord that came our way?

Damn right we did.

And did we lovingly indulge a lot of what was, honestly, pure crap from that period?

Damn right we did.

(Find your worn, frayed copy of the LP Wings Wildlife and cringe while you re-visit),

Because, you see, it didn't matter.

Love is, and was, blind.

And we loved those guys.

For all the reasons that those aforementioned sayings, sharings, printings and postings have offered and continue to offer to this day.

And for all the reasons that every new generation that discovers the music offer when asked why they've come to love it, as well.

Magic, by its nature, is both elusive and illusory.

Making it difficult, if not impossible, to specifically define.

Let alone trace back to an exact moment of first appearance.

This particular magic, though, is, like the artists who created it, easily traced back to an exact moment of first appearance.

8:12 PM, Eastern.

February 9, 1964.

Oh, yeah.

Yeah, yeah.






Saturday, February 6, 2016

"...Pick A Card, Any Card...Or A Target, Any Target..."

Talk radio is a lot like magic.

Sometimes, in fact, very often, the key to being successful with it is being able to direct the listening audience where you want it to go.

Or misdirect,  as the case may be, if the need be.

Those skills come in especially handy on slow news days.

Obviously, when something major is happening, conversation, debate, argument, discussion, dissent and/or simple chit chat about that said something between show host and show listeners pretty much happens by itself.

No poking, prodding or provocation required.

That's one reason why, regardless of our personal, political persuasions and/or positions, all of us who do any talk radio hosting at any time are likely, at least once per show, to say a prayer of thanks to the good Lord above for providing this life with the bountiful harvest of chat chaff that is Donald Trump.

Sarah Palin.

Ted Cruz.

Lacey Lafferty (hometown favorite, do the Google).

You get the idea.

When nothing out of the ordinary is going on, though, it gets a little more challenging on the "hey, we want to hear what YOU have to say about it" side of the microphone.

That's why most experienced talk show-sters have a folder (mentally or literally) of fallback topics.

Subjects pretty much sure to set the phone lines afire.

And what the conversations lack in, say, sophistication and/or insight, they more than make up for in "filler fodder"

Which, just between you and me, is an inside the biz slang term for "I got twelve minutes to kill here and absolutely nothing is going on worth talking about..."

 Here's just a few of the live grenades I keep stashed in my news/talk knapsack, just in case.

  • Same sex marriage
  • Uni-sex rest room access
  • Same sex workplace equality
  • Okay, actually anything that starts out with "same sex"
  • Donald Trump (yeah, I know, already mentioned, but, still, almost always sure to start a new back and forth in one way or another.
  • Obama (the shelf life on this one is ticking, given Jan 2017 is so close, but, for now, the hatred of this guy in my neck of the broadcast woods is still good for damn near a whole show)
and...

two words that, when put together, brings a flood of phone calls into the studio line that makes a Tsunami look like the splash Uncle Fred causes when he eases down into the bathtub.

Gun.

Control.

See?

I just got three incoming calls this second.

And I don't even have a phone in this room.

Monday morning show prep is on today's "get started to research a little" list and, lo and behold, thank you, Jesus for never failing to bring it, there's a brand spanking new development in the world of high caliber conversation.




The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit has ruled that Americans have a “fundamental right” to so-called assault weapons, a major victory for gun rights.

A three judge panel ruled that Maryland’s Firearm Safety Act of 2013, ban against what the court called “the vast majority of semi-automatic rifles commonly kept by several million American citizens”, is a blunt violation of the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

“In our view, Maryland law implicates the core protection of the Second Amendment — the right of law-abiding responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home,” Chief Judge William Traxler wrote in the divided ruling.

In his ruling, Judge Traxler sent the case back to the District Court for review, demanding they apply “strict scrutiny” – a stringent constitutional test that almost no gun control legislation can survive.

“This case was a major victory for the NRA and gun rights advocates,” said Adam Winkler, a law professor at UCLA who specializes in Second Amendment law. “This opinion is an important one because it subjects important gun control laws to the most strict form of judicial scrutiny.”
 
While the Supreme Court has not yet weighed in on these cases, Justice Clarence Thomas has complained that the Second Amendment was being relegated to “a second-class right.”

“If a broad ban on firearms can be upheld based on conjecture that the public might feel safer (while being no safer at all), then the Second Amendment guarantees nothing,” he wrote, and added that those earlier decisions enshrining the right to gun ownership shouldn’t be expected to “clarify the entire field.”



Obviously, the general subject matter isn't even remotely close to new.

And while this latest juicy judicial tidbit is fresh, the primary pinpoint of pondering is also solidly grounded on well trod territory.

Still and all, not a whole lot of the ordinary going on at the moment (Donald and Sarah on the down low for now, but, hope springs eternal) and while there is always a good chance something sensational and salacious will pop between now and 05:30 Monday, I'm ready to lock and load on this latest smack-down attempt on the Second Amendment.

"So, join me Monday as we talk about the 4th Circuit Court giving those who feel the need to own an AR-15 the full and legal right to do so.....and, of course, the latest in weather and traffic information..."

Always looking for a different way to talk about the same old things kind of guy that I am, though, I already know how I want to come at this.

First, though, in the spirit of "fair and well balanced" discussion (yeah, I know, Fox News really has made that too much of a punchline to take seriously, right), here's a key fact I just grabbed on line that I think is germane to our conversation.

A fact that addresses the legitimate argument gun enthusiasts offer that the whole "assault rifle" controversy is bogus.

The AR-15 can fire between 45 and 60 rounds per minute depending on the skill of the operator. This rate of fire is comparable to other semi-automatic firearms, but pales in comparison to fully automatic assault rifles, some of which can fire more than 1,000 rounds per minute.

Okay.

Quite an obvious difference between the ability to fire one thousand rounds per minute, which by my Louisiana sixth grade math skills comes out at sixteen bullets per second.....and a mere 60 rounds per minute, which calculates out at a calm, easy going one bullet...per second.

So, here's how I'm most likely going to put the on air question of the hour.

And, as a little extra Monday morning show entertainment bonus, throw in a little magic.

"hey, I want to hear what YOU have to say about this latest ruling by the 4th District Court of Appeals..so give me a call...and here's the question....taking into account any reasonable justification, from protecting your family and property to shooting animals from a well camo'ed hiding place and everything in between, why do you feel the need to own a weapon that can fire one bullet per second? OTHER than the only reason so many people seem able to offer up.

"Because you can."

This ain't my first morning talk show rodeo, so I can assure you that two things will happen when that question goes out on air.

The phones will light up because, hey, although I didn't actually say the two words, even the hint of the words "gun" and "control" perhaps being insinuated will bring out the faithful by the 600 round clip.

That faithful, by the way, will offer nothing even remotely close to anything in response to the question beyond a literal or easy to spot variation of the one answer I said was out of play.

Because they can.

And, as for the magic?

Well, those who are waiting for the screener to pick up the phone, letting it ring and making the lights on her console blink furiously but then actually heard me say "OTHER than because you can" will cause those lights on the console to vanish.

As they hang up.

Because they haven't got any other answer to offer.

Presto.



 




Tuesday, January 19, 2016

"...And Tequila Sunrise Was A Popular Drink, But That Doesn't Matter, Either...."


Old saying in the song business.

Pop music fans are loyal to the music.

Country music fans are loyal to the singer.

The packaged for quick consumption interpretation of those two observations goes like this.

Fans of pop music tend to remember the songs, the lyrics, the melodies, the groove, the beat, the feel, the overall presentation and/or any and all of those parts that make up the whole. And, if along the way, they happen to remember who it was who wrote/recorded/played on and/or sang on that particular song, then it's considered informational gravy.

Fans of country music, meanwhile, attach their affections and their allegiances to the performer. And they remain fans of that performer long after the material that said performer is cranking out has faded in quality to a point that is hardly deserving of notice, let alone praise.

It's been said, for example, that, in his heyday, Garth Brooks could have recorded and released a recitation of two pages of the local phone book set to music and it would have gone multi platinum.

That's actually stretching the truth.

But not stretching it much.

Meanwhile, a host of pop hits through the years remain popular, even legendary, although, if asked, those who still hold those songs in high regard and close to heart couldn't tell you who the singer and/or singers were if you held an IPhone playing a Keeping Up With The Kardashians marathon to their heads.

Pop quiz (no pun intended).....and play fair, no Googling allowed.

Who did these pop hits?

You Were On My Mind.

I Can Help.

Keep Your Hands To Yourself.

Crush.

The list, like the hits, just keeps on comin.

And it really doesn't matter that, for example, those songs were recorded, released and became big hits between the 60's and 90's by,. respectively, We Five, Billy Swan, The Georgia Satellites and Jennifer Paige.

What mattered, and ultimately matters, is the music itself.

Because that's what music is supposed to do.

Matter.

I was reminded of that life/art truth today as I experience the media tsunami of words and music flooding social media and the airwaves with the words and music of Glenn Frey.

No question about the props the guy deserves for his work.

And no surprise that the unexpected passing of someone relatively young stirs emotions and inspires reminiscence and reflection.

Oh and while the millennials' youthful brows probably furrowed perceptibly at the idea that 67 is "relatively young", let me offer to them the old bromide that "I was your age once, yes, I thought any age ahead of me by more than, say twenty five years or more was, in fact, old and I discovered as I approach 65 what you, too,will discover when you approach 65.

67 is relatively young.

But Glenn Frey died. Relatively young. And his work was, and remains, such a part of the soundtrack of life that it's only natural that his sudden passing stirs emotions and inspires reminiscence and reflection.

Not to mention credit where credit is due.

And, inevitably, even where, maybe it's not so due.

In his twilight performing years, Frank Sinatra made an effort to stay relevant and contemporary in his concerts by offering up his takes on a sprinkling of, then, contemporary works by, then, contemporary songwriters.

One song, in particular, he went to gracious and great effort to introduce each time as "one of the greatest love songs ever written and his personal favorites of all the songs written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney."

He then proceeded to pay tribute to those esteemed colleagues with his heartfelt performance of the classic Beatles love song, "Something".

Words and music by George Harrison.

Apparently, in the spirit of a long ago emperor and his not so apparent apparel, no one felt sufficently confident to correct Ol' Blue Eyes as to who wrote what when.

And, ultimately, it didn't really matter to the legions of Sinatra fans.

Because what really mattered was the music.

Because that's what music is supposed to do.

Matter.

This morning I heard a local radio personality throwing out the garden variety request for folks to call and share their personal favorite Glenn Frey songs.

He, personally, mentioned two of which he was particularly fond.

Desperado.

Hotel California.

And just as it is with favorite fruits, favorite desserts, favorite cars, favorite hair styles and, of course, favorite captains of the starship Enterprise, the whole notion of favorite anythings is subjective and, especially when it comes to something as personal as music, personal.

So, there's that.

George Harrison died in 2001, but I have an impish feeling that he would be amused by the credit being doled out to Frey in the wake of his passing.

Because he knows how that kind of thing goes.

But as a writer/composer of modest accomplishment and an admitted music minutiae geek, I had to resist every temptation to jump online and post that...

...Desperado did, in fact, benefit extraordinarily from Glenn Frey's classically trained piano sensibilities and, those who actually know attest, his minor contributions to the lyric, but he himself would probably warmly acknowledge that the lion's share of the song, including, of course, the weary, yet poignant, vocal was the work of Frey's partner in  crime, Don Henley......

...and Hotel California was actually the primary brain child of temporary Eagle Don Felder with, once again, Henley's raspy and right for the mood vocal with meaningful, if not substantial, contributions from Frey.

None of that matters.

Because today people who love the songs of The Eagles are hearing, over and over, in their heads and hearts, those songs they love most and associating them with Glenn Frey.

And that's as it should be.

Because that's really getting "down to the heart of the matter".

Words and music by Mike Campbell, JD Souther.....and Don Henley.

Not that it matters.

So, the epitaphs will continue, the testimonials will flow and the music will live on.

When it comes to tribute, though, nobody has yet offered anything more essential or poignant than Frey's other half during their musical lives, the aforementioned Mr. Henley who had this to say at the end of his public statement....

"...you did what you set out to do....and then some....".

A true fact about Glenn Frey.

Words by Don Henley.

Not that it matters.