Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Programmed


Not at this radio station. Not then, not ever, as WKRP in Cincinnati -- cancelled by CBS after continued pressure from the Reaganoids and the Falwells -- went out with its bravest and most heartfelt season. This lovely and very funny episode from Christmas 1981 celebrates the days when radio disc jockeys were actually allowed to program their own music. Imagine that. . .

Monday, August 29, 2016

When We Were Men

Harlem, 1959

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Vanished


The decade began with John Fitzgerald Kennedy; it ended with Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew. Yet -- compared to the political cesspool we're all drowning in today, a cesspool which has spat up the most loathsome and criminal candidates in United States history, the Presidential campaigns of those years clearly retain a connection between what Americans voted for and what they got. Yes, American politics even in the best of times was mostly a war among (usually hidden) elites, yet previously with enough cracks in the system to allow for true citizen influence. Now the cracks are all paved over, paving done by (among others) a Wall Street pimp and Drone Killer -- King of the Nowhere People -- who sucked many of us in eight years ago; or by a cranky gutless old man from Vermont, who conned many youngins throughout 2016. Now it is Endgame, the moment totalitarian corporatists have been moving toward since November 1980: a world with an absolute connection between wealth and political influence; a world with no connection between public needs and public policy. How tragic the American Democratic Experiment will soon result, less than 250 years after it began, in the most total of totalitarian states, one where the air we breathe, the water we drink, the hopes and dreams we have for our children will all be commodified. . .

But not then, not yet. Theodore H. White was the establishment's favorite political reporter during the 1960s, most certainly because none of his books mention 1950s culture and the sexualization of what was pretty neutral stuff pre-rock and pre-TV, nothing about the rise of the military-industrial-intelligence complex, nothing about the Dulles Brothers(et al), nothing about the vast nationalist movements across the world, nothing about the militarization of the society, nothing about the rise of the Western Cowboy economies (space, oil, weapons, big agriculture), nothing about class, nothing about capitalism itself or corporations (the words "capitalism / corporation" are not mentioned in any of his four books, totaling more than 2,000 pages!), and nothing about the slow takeover of media by the far right. His Making of the President series are fables about good men and bad men struggling to succeed in a system recognizable in the front pages of the New York Times, as well as from all elementary school books. As are the television documentaries made from White's volumes. . .

Produced by David Wolper, financed by Xerox, narrated by Martin Gabel, the movies are shadowless, from a time when the shadows were sometimes dominated by the light.


1960

1964

The Campaign.



The Democratic Convention's moving tribute to the removed leader.

1968

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Moon Man


The very first Gumby & Pokey (May 1956). Pure magic.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Thursday, August 11, 2016

John Birch Lives


This is what the Democratic Party has become.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Say Hey?


This bizarre 1967 view of the greatest baseball player of all-time -- not counting Barry Bonds -- seems to have been put together by a circle-jerk composed of Roone Arledge, George Wallace, George Putnam, and Colonel Harland Sanders. Did Willie see the finished product? Did he know he was being set-up as the Good Patriotic Colored Boy while the police and army burned down Newark, Detroit, Cleveland, and Hue?

Well, at least we get the original commercials. . .



And at least we were spared this.


Dr. Hunter S. Thompson with some ideas on improving the game of baseball:
Hi, folks. My name is Thompson, and I don't have much space for this high-speed presentation, so let's get started and see how tight we can make it. My job is to devise a whole new set of rules and concepts to shorten the time it takes to play a game of Major League Baseball, or any other kind.

Everybody agrees that baseball games must be shortened, but nobody is really working on it ... Meanwhile, the games get longer and longer. The good old "meat in the seats" argument won't work after midnight, when the seats are mainly empty, and TV networks get nasty when they start having to refund money to advertisers when the ratings sink lower and lower. Pro wrestling and golf are bigger draws than baseball games ... I have not been to a live baseball game in 20 years, and I hope I never see another one. Not even the New Rules would drag me back to the ballpark -- but I am a Doctor of Wisdom, a professional man, and some of my friends in the business have asked me to have a look at this problem, which I have, and this is my solution, for good or ill. I am keenly aware of the angst and bitter squabbling that will erupt when somebody tries to screw with the National Pastime.... But it must be done, and if I don't do it somebody else will. So here's the plan.

ELIMINATE THE PITCHER: This will knock at least one hour off the length of a game, which is now up to 3:42. One World Series game took five hours and 20 minutes, which is unacceptable to everybody except the pitchers. Yes ... So we will ELIMINATE THE PITCHERS, and they won't be missed. Pitchers, as a group, are pampered little swine with too much money and no real effect on the game except to drag it out and interrupt the action.

LIMIT ALL GAMES TO THREE HOURS: Like football and basketball and hockey, the Baseball game will end at a fixed time. THE SCORE, at that moment, WILL BE FINAL, based on an accumulation of TOTAL BASES IN 3 hours.

ALL BASE-RUNNERS MAY RUN TO ANY BASE (but not backward) -- First to Third, Second to Home, etc. And with NO PITCHER in the game, this frantic scrambling across the infield will be Feasible and Tempting.

ALL "PITCHING", by the way, will be done by a fine-tuned PITCHING MACHINE that pops up out of the mound, delivers a remote-controlled "pitch" at the batter, and then drops back out of sight, to free up the whole infield for running. ... If a batter hits a home run with the bases loaded, for instance, his team will score 16 total bases (or 16 points). But, if it's 3 up and 3 down in an inning, that team will score Zero points.

Think of 22-5, perhaps, or 88-55. Yes sir, we will have huge scores and constant speedy action for three straight hours.

The heroes of the game will be CATCHERS, not Pitchers. The CATCHER will dominate the game and be the highest-paid player. ... With no pitcher and no mound to disrupt the flow, runners on base will be moving at the crack of the bat, and it will be the catcher's job to shut them down or pick them off whenever possible. Foot-speed and a bazooka throwing arm will be paramount. ... There will be no more of this bull about bullpens and managers scratching their heads on TV for hours on end, no more lame pick-off throws to first, no more waving off signs and agonized close-ups while pop fouls bounce off the roof.

No, there will be no such thing as a base on balls. Each batter will get five "pitches" from the robot -- only FIVE (5) and if he doesn't get a hit by then, he is out. ... And the CATCHER will control the kind of drop or curve or speed he wants the machine to throw. And it will obey.

Those damn pitching machines can put a slider past you at 98 miles an hour five times in a row, with no problem. They can throw hideous wavering knuckleballs and half-moon curves -- all depending and according to what the CATCHER wants to dial up on his remote-control unit. He can even order that the batter be whacked in the ribs by a 102-mph fastball, although that will cost his team TWO (2) bases, instead of one. And you won't want to have some poor Cuban drilled in the ribs when you're nursing a 31-30 lead.

OK, folks, that's it for now. I am already late, and I have written too many words -- but the concept is sound, I think, and there is a clear and desperate need for it. ...

Next spring ESPN will put my theories to the test by sponsoring a series of "New Rules" baseball games in New York, Chicago, Omaha and Seattle, among others. ...Tickets will be sold and big-time sports talent will be employed. The success or failure of these games will determine the fate of baseball in America.

Purists will bitch and whine, but so what? Purists will Always bitch and whine. That is their function.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Once Upon a Time. . .


Happy 90th Birthday to Mr. Bennett!


Monday, August 1, 2016

His Honor


Between the time of production's end and the Hearst empire's failed coast-to-coast drive to prevent the release (and the continuing existence) of Citizen Kane (1941), Orson Welles formed The Free Company -- a leftist combine of artists and writers affirming, at a time of reactionary retrenchment and impending war, the basic beliefs in populist democracy. The idea was to illustrate by a series of radio plays the meaning of freedom and particularly those civil and economic rights which make freedom possible.

Welles's contribution, His Honor, the Mayor, was transmitted on April 6, 1941, the month before Kane's tentative premiere. Unlike most other of his radio work, here Welles's manner is homespun, mild in tone, and all the more telling for its absence of tub-thumping: Welles as narrator insists that "you can draw your own conclusions; I hope you do." He quietly and cunningly builds the dramatic tension by maintaining the evenness of mood. No sooner had the play been broadcast than it was immediately and vehemently denounced in the Hearst press as communist propaganda. The American Legion held meetings to denounce it.

The attacks backfired. This time Hearst and his men had gone too far, succeeding only in arousing public support for Welles and the release of Citizen Kane by methods of vilification transparent even to Hearst's natural supporters, giving backbone to RKO Studio's previously timid board of directors. There would now be four Kane premieres: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. The advertising campaign was immediately mounted, exceeding in extravagance any movie launch that had gone before.