Category Archives: TV

Tiananmen Plus 25

tank man 2

June 4, 1989. Chinese troops massacred several hundred, if not thousands, of peaceful, unarmed pro-democracy protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.  Somehow that same government is still in power, still lying and covering up. At least for now, Chinese government officials can scrub the Internet tubes of all mention of the massacre of its own citizens, but the rest of the world will always have this photograph.

Thank you, Tank Man, whoever and wherever you are.

Cat Stevens??!!??!!

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will induct another crop of musical icons this Thursday night in Brooklyn. At least this year they’re giving nods to deserving folks like Nirvana, Peter Gabriel, Brian Epstein and Andrew Loog Oldham.

Some of the “undercard” at this year’s ceremony seems dubious at best but, hey, it’s their museum and they can induct whoever they want. Besides, everyone keeps their own private rock ‘n’ roll museum locked inside their hearts. However, the RRHOF really scraped the bottom of the barrel this year with Cat Stevens. Wow, nothing says “rock ‘n’ roll” quite like “Cat Stevens,” ya know?

Cat stevens

When last we saw this Cat (aka Yusuf Islam), he was still refusing to admit that he backed the Ayatollah’s 1989 fatwa on the novelist Salman Rushdie for the “blasphemy” of having written the novel The Satanic Verses. But this piece of video, proof that Stevens/Islam did in fact call for Rushdie’s death, just won’t go away:

Perhaps sensing that the ceremony had become more of a wake or an entombment than a celebration, the Hall has opened the event to the public for the first time, and is holding it in a basketball arena (Barclays Center, where the Nets play). In years past, the induction ceremony was for high-rollers only, with seats and tables going for king’s ransoms. They’re not exactly giving the seats away this year, with prices ranging from $55 to $576.40. But still, you can go:

The highlight of the ceremony in Brooklyn will, no doubt, be Bruce Springsteen inducting his former E Street Band, and performing with them, and perhaps the well-deserved, belated salutes to Epstein and Oldham. Every inductee’s presenter has been decided and announced (e.g. Michael Stipe will induct Nirvana, Tom Morello will induct KISS, etc.). Everyone but poor Cat Stevens.

Might I suggest Salman Rushdie be given the honors? Turnabout is fair play. And it just screams “rock ‘n’ roll”!




Grant’s Tomb


We are told not to speak ill of the dead, especially the recently deceased, but I will make an exception for Bob Grant. Born Robert Ciro Gigante, Grant was the radio deejay who broke the ice for people like Rush, Sean, Savage, Coulter, et al. His racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic rants were unleashed in 1987 when Pres. Ronald Reagan repealed the Fairness Doctrine for radio and TV broadcasters. That is, people with microphones were free to spew any lies and misinformation they wanted, unchallenged, on the public airwaves.

While Grant’s various excesses are easily Googled, he may have set the lowest bar on record for vile bombast on the radio airwaves in 1996, when a plane carrying Secretary of Commerce Ronald Brown crashed in Croatia. Before it was known if anyone aboard had survived, Grant was on the air joking about the crash, saying, “My hunch is that he is the one survivor…Maybe it’s because, at heart, I’m a pessimist.”

Rush Limbaugh once paid tribute to Grant by saying, “You are a man who paved the way for others to do it.”

As Creem magazine would put it, ‘nuff said.

Here’s Grant’s obit from the New York Times:

Football Follies

football moron

The only difference between the Richie Incognito story and the Aaron Hernandez story is that the former has not had a tragic ending…yet.

In both cases, borderline sociopathic man-children, seemingly addicted to rage and covered with more tattoos than The Illustrated Man at the freak show, sent up enough warning flares during their athletic careers to have all but required—necessitated, mandated—intervention by adults. And yet, they were waved on through because of their talents for mayhem on a playing field.

In both cases, coaches, teammates and organizations failed to act and, only after the feces hit the fan, have the Miami Dolphins (in Incognito’s case) and the New England Patriots (in Hernandez’s case) cut their ties with the players. Continue reading

Book Review: Slimed! An Oral History of Nickolodeon’s Golden Age


Slimed!: An Oral History of Nickelodeon’s Golden Age

By Matthew Klickstein (Plume, 2013)

Slimed! assumes you know everything about its chosen topic before you even begin reading. It doesn’t introduce its chapters with basic facts. It doesn’t give even the most rudimentary details about the people it quotes—“actor,” “writer,” “producer,” whatever—until a brief appendix at the end. It doesn’t bother with dates and contexts and clarifications.

And guess what? It doesn’t have to. Continue reading

What Did Delaware?

The answer to that question appears to be a well-tailored (law) suit:

Delaware’s new state motto should be: Welcome Corporate Criminals!

 What Did Mia Farrow?

The answer to that is a perhaps tastefully-tailored (law) suit or two by Woody Allen and maybe even the estate of Frank Sinatra. Turns out Woody Allen’s “son,” the golden boy now known as Ronan Farrow but was named Satchel Farrow Allen at birth, is probably not his—by Farrow’s own admission to Vanity Fair. Indeed, the boy may be the final seed Old Blue Eyes planted before shuffling off this mortal coil.

Those were the days

Those were the days

After all that screaming, gnashing of teeth and embarrassing herself in public about what a creep Woody Allen was—and, no doubt, there was some truth to those accusations—Mia Farrow has more than a few skeletons in her own closet.

Another reminder of that line from The Great Gatsby: “the rich are different from you and me.” And so are celebrities.

Ronan Farrow is coming to speak at Fairfield University’s Quick Center next spring, as part of the Open Visions series. Maybe the law suits will have started to really get going good by then.


Re-Covering Rolling Stone

As promised in a previous blogpost, here is my before and after of a recent cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

Miley stone


If any more proof were needed that Rolling Stone has strayed from its day-one mission, pick up this issue. You can’t miss it. Miley Montana has her tongue further outside her mouth than a dog lapping at a feeding bowl. In the accompanying story, which is as lightweight as the thought balloons that float inside Sarah Palin’s brain, Cyrus says that she doesn’t give a damn what anyone thinks about her.

Nor do I.

Art Thief Tells All


My friend Suzette Martinez Standring is a force of nature. Besides being a great columnist and blogger and writing teacher, she now hosts a weekly TV show in Milton, Mass. On her most recent episode, she was able to get the notorious convicted art thief Myles Connor to not only appear but to tell all about his life as a plunderer of culture. Connor’s story has been told in a memoir called The Art of the Heist that was just purchased by Annapurna Films, which made Zero Dark Thirty, so it will be only a matter of time before he achieves the “celebrity” status he seems to have always craved, but ironically seems too infirm and old to fully enjoy. Continue reading

Klaatu barada nikto Congress


flying saucer DC

Nothing feels more helpless than being trapped at an airport terminal with the stalactites of flat-screen TVs blaring at you on all sides. You can’t escape them.  Being trapped in this way in the present moment is a particularly gruesome form of torture, as I came to learn on a recent trip to Atlanta. These stalactites, all broadcasting the same Airport TV channel, are filled with nothing but government shutdown news. From such a perch, trapped at a gate between connecting flights, one gets the distinct impression that the government shutdown is fascinating ONLY to the TV commentators and non-stop series of “experts” called upon to offer their deep wisdom on all of this. With Congress sporting an approval rating of 5 percent, it’s clear that the American people have tuned out. Thus, watching these Fox and CNN living mannequins blathering on about the shutdown is as charming as eavesdropping at an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet at the Marriott.


The most sensible reaction to this impasse, short of going to DC and overturning furniture in Republican Congressional offices, is to register to vote and then to exercise that right to vote on Nov. 5. Of course, being sensible seems a pretty tepid reaction to the current state of affairs in Washington D.C. What is really needed is an Occupy Wall Street movement relocated onto the Washington Mall.


Or, better yet, an alien spaceship needs to land on the Mall and out of it emerge a dignified extraterrestrial with a British accent and a warning for all of humankind: Klaatu barada nikto. 


Sort of like The Day The Earth Stood Still.


Here’s the trailer from the original 1951 film.


Seems pretty sensible to me.




Four chefs compete to run Tavern 1757's kitchen.

“Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell” helps out Tavern 1757 in Seymour

Last night, “Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell” took on the task of finding a new executive chef for Seymour’s Tavern 1757. If you’re not familiar with Burrell, maybe you remember the wild-haired blonde sous chef for Mario Batali on a handful of Iron Chef America competitions? If not, watch more Food Network. They’ve got some great characters over there. Continue reading