Saturday, December 29, 2007

It's the end of 2007--make way for turbulent 2008.

Thanks to those of you who have read this blog through its first almost-year.

See you sometime in January. 

Wishing the best for you in surviving the extreme partisanship and dirt-throwing that will plague the U.S. Presidential campaign and any attempt at discussion of unpopular subjects in the coming year.

Re death of Benazir Bhutto: what now re the fight against terrorism?

In the wake of Benazir Bhutto's assassination, one would think that George Butch Jr. might want to gather Dick and Condi and start thinking seriously of a face-saving partial-exit-from-Iraq strategy.

Then, the Administration should do some hard thinking about the subject of future support of Pakistan's current leadership.

Though the film has mostly drifted off the Zeitgeist radar, it wouldn't hurt for people to rent A MIGHTY HEART.  The portrayal of Pakistan as being caught between U.S. eagerness for cooperation in fighting the War on Terror and avoiding major unrest from the terror groups using its borders as a safe haven--it's a starting place for discussion of what could be the most serious threat to world safety since the Cuban Missle Crisis.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Jamie-Lynn Spears: the aftermath.

Here's a link to a MSN gossip column which has some info re Jamie-Lynn Spears decision to put a positive spin to her and her boyfriend deciding not to use birth control:

Right now, if you live in Los Angeles, you can put your ear to the ground and hear three loud primal screams:

1. From Lynne Spears, who again wins the hypocrisy award for raising two daughters to be robotic slaves to the get-ahead-no-matter-what world of Show Business at the expense of learning how to live some semblance of normal life when not being Competitive (sort of like the dilemma that Olympic athletes in their teens have to deal with)--while making a deal with a conservative Christian publishing house for a book on parenting.  Sort of blows the parent-of-a-clean-teen image (which was also tried with Britney--remembering the claims of her virginity around the time of the first album) apart, doesn't it, Lynne?

2. From Sumner Redstone of Viacom, who's probably figuring out ways to make money off the fourth and final season of ZOEY 101 if social-and-religious-conservative parents apply pressure to Nickelodeon to pull the show from its 2008 schedule.  Maybe Viacom could offload ZOEY to Showtime as it did a few years ago with the James Brolin-as-Ronald Reagan TV film that pressure groups kept off CBS.

3. From Diablo Cody, who wrote the mostly-critically-acclaimed teen-pregnancy comedy/drama JUNO, and will probably suffer blowback from the vapid chatter of superficial entertainment reporters who won't fail to handcuff together the fictional Juno MacGuff (well-played by Ellen Page) and the real-life Jamie-Lynn Spears for a few news cycles.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Hillary and Bill Clinton: They reek of Yesterday.

I don't know how many people remember an obscure Rolling Stones song titled "Winning Ugly", but it's apt in light of recent Hillary campaign antics to "marginalize" her key competitor, Barack Obama.

Probably the most obnoxious is to trot out old Bob Kerrey (a politician who once made the gossip columns for dating Debra Winger in the early 80s) to make a remark intended to bring up Obama's Islamic heritage.  Kerrey later apologized for the remark, but it made the news cycles.

I don't normally watch Chris Matthews and HARDBALL (given Matthews' past record, the show could be better titled SOFTBALL), but a left-leaning radio talk-show host (guesting on the show's first few minutes) accurately skewered Hillary as a candidate from the 90s that's wrong for the 2008 elections.

Does anyone remember the Pennebaker/Hegedus hagiography of James Carville/George Stephanopoulos called THE WAR ROOM?  In that film, Carville accurately skewered George Herbert Walker Bush (now known as Bush 41) by saying: "He reeks of yesterday."

And, to me, it makes me want to vomit that people who should know better will opt for the cowardly appeasement and covert racism of Hillary Clinton (and, by extension, husband Bill--who made sure to have a mentally-handicapped African-American executed during the 1992 campaign to show he was TOUGH ON CRIME) in next year's primaries.

The question is: Will people actually read and think and form independcnt judgment re other Democratic candidates or vote for Hillary the closet Republican because they think there's "no place else to go" ?

I dread the winter/spring of 2008 where Democratic lambs decide they'll best fight Republican lions by becoming acquiescent sheep.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Old movies get less love these days.

I made a rare visit (only the third this year) to a poetry venue near me last night.

The host there has the great virtue of being quick-witted enough to riff on just about anything (a previous poet's work, a remark from an audience member).

But he can sometimes be stumped.

Case in point: The host (in his late thirties) made reference to a Friday gig in Santa Monica.  He quipped that he would have dinner there with his spouse, do the reading and then walk into the ocean.

A renowned poet (in his fifties) in the audience made a reference to the movie A STAR IS BORN--I'm presuming it's the famous 1954 version where James Mason as failed actor Norman Maine walks into the Malibu-area Pacific waters after feeling he's been a burden to the life and career of wife Vicki Lester (Judy Garland).

The host didn't catch the renowned poet's reference.  And there was a silence that reminded me of an egg toss where the egg isn't caught and falls to the ground with a quiet splat.

No intention to slight the host at all, but it does seem like the abiliity for people of various age ranges to have shared memories of and love for older movies is something fast disappearing in a corporate-dominated culture celebrating the disposable, the ephemeral and the mockery of easy targets (celeb starlets and reality show regulars being prime examples).

Another case in point: the James Cameron megafilm TITANIC, loved by millions and hated by thousands, recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.

If one remembers the passionate pro-and-con opinions on its original release, it seemed a safe prediction that TITANIC would be considered a beloved recent classic of popular entertainment.

Paramount did give TITANIC a recent 10th-anniversary DVD reissue, but a low-key one. 

And Time Warner's ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY only gave two skimpy pages to the film's anniversary, mostly babbling about the big-budget films that have followed in its wake (the coverage being on the level of how much more common $200-300 million "tentpole" event films are these days).

So it's easy to see that the 1954 A STAR IS BORN will become a casualty just like TITANIC, E.T. (which didn't even receive a 25th-anniversary DVD reissue) and...... 


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

How to explain Dan Fogelberg to future generations.

I know it's not good to speak ill of the dead. 

This post isn't about Dan Fogelberg the human being who died recently from prostate cancer at the age of 56.  Instead, it's about the mixed-at-best legacy of Dan Fogelberg the musician.

Fogelberg first burst into national prominence with the album SOUVENIRS (in 74/75) and the moderate hit single "Part of the Plan."  He was a member of the Irving Azoff management stable--and was blessed with Joe Walsh as the album's producer and Graham Nash plus sundry Eagles singing backup.

By the late 70s, the career of John Denver (if you buy any John Denver albums, get early titles like ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH and FAREWELL ANDROMEDA when Denver was still mixing in a few John Prine covers and the "gosh and golly folks" persona hadn't quite taken hold yet) had peaked and was heading downward. 

This turned out to be a boon for Fogelberg, who probably enjoyed his greatest success from 1978-81 with gentle soft-rock ballad singles such as "Longer" and "Leader of the Band."  Unfortunately, Fogelberg dropped a huge pile of impossible-to-rinse-off bathos on America: a song called "Same Old Lang Syne".  It's a lachrymose retelling of the old "I saw my old lover again and gee look how much we've changed" tale that makes Harry Chapin's duology of "Taxi" and "Sequel" (covering the same ground) take on the hard  edge of Joy Division by comparison.

To put it mildly, "Same Old Lang Syne" is a song Satan probably uses to torture most newcomers to Hell.

Sometime during the 80s, Berke Breathed had Opus the penguin make a reference to Fogelberg as "Dan Fogelburp" in the comic strip BLOOM COUNTY.  It seemed apt at the time.

But to give Fogelberg his due before he returns to the obscurity his death briefly interrupted, "Part of the Plan" and "There's a Place in the World for a Gambler" (the latter song I heard on the soundtrack for the 1978 film FM) are catchy, quite memorable examples of 70s lite-pop/rock and would make good candidates for a mixtape/CD and/or iTunes playlist.

UPDATE (1/10/08): I received this comment from castmyvote:

The writer of this blog has obviously not listened to any early Dan Fogelberg....albums like "Home Free", "Souvenirs", "Netherlands" and "Captured Angel"...and obviously not much of John Denver's later environmental works either. Too bad the writer just had to write something without knowing much of anything!
castmyvote is welcome to add his/her knowledge of Fogelberg or post-RCA John Denver to this blog entry to cover areas I wasn't addressing.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST TV series: Unlikely to be remade in this climate of ubersnark.

At the risk of biting the service that gives me the chance to post a blog:  I wonder what kind of snarky conversations take place at the AOL headquarters in Virginia or New York or wherever the decisions to put triviabites on the Welcome page are made.

It does seem like dubious celeb behavior and endless lists of "we-consider-this-tacky" rule the day far more than when I first became a subscriber in 1997.

And it's probably a blessing that Time Warner doesn't own the rights to the old BEAUTY AND THE BEAST series (a favorite of my wife Valarie), otherwise we'd be seeing all sorts of supersnarky links to reruns of the show.

The new model for female-driven romance-and-uplift would have to be Diablo Cody's script for JUNO (which I liked overall), where there's half a movie of ornate comic dialogue (expertly delivered by Ellen Page and Olivia Thirlby, among others) and distance-yourself-from-feeling "attitude" before the other half of the movie arrives with squishy sentiment, TV-esque resolutions (particularly involving the characters played by Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner) and director Jason Reitman falling into the cliche of pulling the camera slowly away from sad or happy moments instead of just cutting away to the next scene.

In short, once the WGA strike ends, you're more likely to see a semi-sanitized JUNO TV series than the hybrid of Harlequin romance/New Age message/dollops of literature/occasional "action" of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST--a relic of an age when some members of the mass audience placed a high value on entertainment depicting non-ironic sincerity.


Sunday, December 9, 2007

Thumbs up (hope Disney doesn't sue me) for STARTING OUT IN THE EVENING.

It's not being released through a major studio's boutique division, but STARTING OUT IN THE EVENING is a specialty film as good as (or maybe better than) most of the literate/upscale product that will be campaigning for Independent Spririt/Golden Globe/Academy Awards recognition.

And if you're a writer, this film (along with ATONEMENT) will have special resonance for you--regardless of what level of "craft" or "success" you have achieved.

Here's a link to a page on the distributor's website which describes the film:

In a perfect world, Frank Langella would be one of the five Best Actor Oscar nominees for his performance, but he'll probably have to save his acceptance speech until 2009 for his performance as Richard Nixon in next year's Ron Howard-directed adaptation of Peter Morgan's play FROST/NIXON.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Re the WGA/AMPTP difficulties.

Thanks again to Jeffrey Wells for originally posting this link to the WGA's United Hollywood blog on his Hollywood-Elsewhere blog:

The AMPTP isn't serious about finding common ground with the WGA; instead, it stages a dramatic walkout and hires a high-powered "crisis management" firm to start the demonization process in the public media.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Dana Perino and her latest gaffe.

Here's a link to the Dear Mr. President blog, which has the full exchange of White House Press Secretary Dana Perino scolding veteran reporter Helen Thomas for asking too-probing questions re Iraq:

Soon Ms. Perino may banish reporters entirely from the White House Press Room and replace them with stenographers.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Dick Wilson-Mr. Whipple of Charmin ads--RIP

Another of the iconic actors seen in vintage TV commercials, Dick Wilson--Mr. Whipple of the "please don't squeeze the Charmin" toilet paper ads--passed away recently.

Here's a link to an obituary article:

A sad sidebar to the mention of Wilson's 1999 comeback as Mr. Whipple: Wilson joined the Screen Actors Guild commercials strike against commercial producers/ad agencies in 2000.  No more Mr. Whipple commercials were made.  Instead, Charmin introduced the animated "bear family" ad series--a campaign which lasts to this day.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A gathering of too few poets in Santa Monica.

Last night, I attended the seventh anniversary celebration of a poetry venue in Santa Monica.

I remember how the venue began.

Once upon a time, there was an Affluent Progressive Bookstore on the Santa Monica Promenade (now closed).  The APB's owner, who disliked the Friday evening poetry host (even though his readings were quite well-attended and appreciated), relieved him of his volunteer position.

With the aid of a now-deceased icon of local poetry (a generous man and one of the best performance poets I've ever witnessed), the former APB poetry host was able to find a venue on Second Street.

Since the fall of 2000, The Rapp Saloon (located in the International Youth Hostel) has displayed the talents of various in-town and touring poets, spoken word artists, musicians and comedians.  And it has allowed poets of various political persuasions to speak their minds during their time at the podium.

Last night, I was expecting a seventh anniversary celebration  with all four of the current hosts in attendance as well as several of the former hosts of the Rapp.  And I was also hoping to see a fair-sized cross section of poets currently and formerly active at the venue.

Unfortunately, the attendance was sparse: only two of the four current hosts, plus the founding host referred to in the above paragraphs.  Two nonpoets in the audience, one veteran stand-up comic/poet, one performance poet active on the scene since the 90s, one young male poet, one poet now living in Oregon and myself.

At this point, I could go on a rant about how generosity goes underappreciated (one of tonight's hosts even took the time and effort to provide food and drink at the reading's close)  and how the poetry community is more than ever a version of the school playground where alliances, paying proper "respect" to those perceived to have power (and influence on booking) and being "published" by literary journals/small presses with "high standards" are the things Los Angeles poets value most.  Not to mention bathing in a sort of smugness as to how they're better-informed, more sensitive, more eager to pre-empt "negative" behavior and more politically aware than just about everyone else in Los Angeles/Orange Counties.

But I haven't been to the Rapp too often in the last couple of years, so the rant would sound rather hollow.

Instead, I'll be positive and praise The Rapp Saloon for still being a venue that practices democracy in its weekly gathering of poets from many, if not all, portions of the local community.

And I'll be more than happy to return for the eighth anniversary next year.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Yes, it's true: this silly question was asked at the Democratic Pres. Debate in Vegas.

I watched about two minutes of the replay of the Democratic Presidential candidate debate on CNN last night.  I turned it off when a female UNLV student asked Hillary Clinton a "fun question" about whether she preferred diamonds or pearls.

Hillary wanted both. 

Maybe I'm a conspiracy theorist, but it seemed like another planted question (from the Hillary campaign) to me.

And a really vapid planted question at that.


Here's a link to an ATLANTIC MONTHLY blog which explains a bit more about the "diamonds or pearls" issue (thanks to HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE for alerting me to its existence).

Sunday, November 11, 2007

LIONS FOR LAMBS: Yes, Robert Redford is out of touch.

Here's a link to Nikki Finke's DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD DAILY site, specifically concerning the (mostly political conservative) response to Robert Redford's LIONS FOR LAMBS--being whipped by both left and right for (as one poster to Finke's comments section suggested) "preaching"--i.e. telling people again what they already know about the War on Terror and the debate over how well or badly it has been handled.

And it can be said that Robert Redford's film of Matthew Michael Carnahan's (THE KINGDOM) script is sometimes clunky and heavy-handed in a way that might remind some older viewers of, say, either Stanley Kramer or Tom (BILLY JACK) Laughlin message movies.

It can also be said that Redford is out of touch for expecting both liberals and conservatives (as well as centrists and libertarians) to sit in a theater for 90 minutes and--regardless of political affiliation--be moved by the film's patriotic belief that Americans should do something for their country besides claiming powerlessness and opting instead for the comfort of giant-screen HDTVs and luxury cars and houses.

But we live in a nation where those who don't believe the way we do aren't just wrong, they're ABSOLUTELY wrong. 

And the left can be as guilty about indulging in this behavior as the right.  I can remember all the invective hurled at John Wayne in the 60s for his loudly-vocalized Republican politics.  When Charlton Heston finally dies from the ravages of Alzheimer's Disease, there will be a loud "progressive" chorus of cruel laughter and denunciation of his later-life political beliefs and affiliation with the National Rifle Association. 

We may have to wait until 2015 at the earliest before there's even a millimeter of change in the way people perceive their political/relgious/social beliefs as something demanding an apocalyptic response when those beliefs are challenged.

Meanwhile, it's easier for many people to hate Redford, Heston, George Clooney, Bruce Willis, Michael Moore, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon for assuming that celebrity comes with responsibility to share opinions about how good or bad things are in the United States.

And when we don't like what we hear from left or right-wing celebrities, we'll just keep yelling until we shut them up once and for all.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A writer on poetry readings.

Here's a link to an essay by Eric Howard in the e-lit-zine Poetic Diversity offering his take on improving poetry readings:

A simple explanation of the Writers Guild strike.

Here's a link to a YouTube video (thanks to Jeffrey Wells of HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE for originally linking it on his site) which offers a simple, eminently understandable explanation of why the Writers Guild is currently striking:

Thursday, November 1, 2007

So you're a celebrity member of the "literati"....

As Yogi Berra once allegedly said, "It's deja vu all over again."

I recently received an e-mail from a literary poetry reading trumpeting that they were mentioned in THE LOS ANGELES TIMES new Guide section.

Yes, there are several poetry/prose readings mentioned.  But would the newspaper have bothered if celebrities weren't involved in some of them?

The cover of Guide is a pensive/serious shot of actor/writing student James Franco [best known for playing James Dean, the son of Robert De Niro in CITY BY THE SEA and the son of Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin in the SPIDER-MAN films--not to mention an occasional member of the Judd Apatow stock company].

Inside the Guide article, there's a color photo of two alluring young women at a literary salon at Adrien Grenier's [ENTOURAGE, THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA] house.  The caption underneath starts off with: "Not your grandmother's book club....."

I'm old enough to remember the first time I was aware of actors writing poetry in Los Angeles.  It was around 1990, when then-and-now scenester Eve Babitz wrote an article for the old MOVIELINE magazine [long before it morphed into HOLLYWOOD LIFE] about celeb poetry readings at Largo [then called Cafe Largo] on Fairfax Avenue.

Poets then included Drew Barrymore and Charlie Sheen. 

I'm curious as to whether or not Eve will breathlessly chronicle Mr. Franco and his current peers' works of Word Art.

If she does, please let me know by posting a response here.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Some exciting movie ads before the trailers.

Yesterday, I attended Steve Carell's latest mainstream comedy DAN IN REAL LIFE (as films directed and partially written by Peter Hedges go, it's an improvement over PIECES OF APRIL, which included Katie Holmes as the world's most mild-mannered punkette) and was fortunate or unfortunate enough to see these advertisements:

1. A 3 Doors Down video meant to promote the National Guard, with intercut footage involving Guard members saving disaster victims, fighting in the Revolutionary War and kicking ass and rescuing a downed guard member in Iraq.  The most fascinating aspect to this video (besides the craven commerciality of 3 Doors Down) is the attempt to sell mainstream youth the vision that joining the Guard is now another viable military option--just like the Army, Navy and Marine Corps.  And if the ad inspires enough recruits, a draft will be again avoided and the Iraq and forthcoming Iran wars will continue being fought in a sort of stealth fashion, with affluent youth staying in their iPod and Halo 3 bubbles and not being forced to think about war and its consequences.

2. A crappy Honda commercial for a new van that uses 1960s graphics but decides instead to use a few bars from Heart's one-decade-later "Barracuda."  Obviously, ad agency reps don't remember (or, if they do, don't care to pay the rights for) Sammy Johns' 70s single "Chevy Van", which, in my mind, is a perfect encapsulation of the 70s middle-class travel-the-country-and-let-the-one-night-stand-out-in-the-next-town ethos.  But it's probably too mellow-sounding for a target audience sitting in a theater waiting for (most likely) SAW 4.

Or maybe Honda couldn't meet Pete Townshend's price for the use of The Who's "Going Mobile" from WHO'S NEXT.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

One more day for the Random List Entry motif.

Here's another day of homages to Larry King-style free association.

1. I watched Olbermann and saw a clip from the Larry "I'm not gay" Craig interview with Matt Lauer.  Perhaps I might be wrong, but I saw Lauer (who once played golf with George Butch Sr.) roll his eyes as Craig gave off the odor of self-righteousness and kept rattling off his "as long as my vote counts for the party, I'm not resigning" schtick.

2. It's obvious that Borders, like all good corporate bookstores, needs to sell mass quantities of books that are intended as Preordained Bestsellers.  But I'm currently reading the book SCHULZ AND PEANUTS--the biography of cartoonist Charles M. Schulz--and it's amazing that a Borders e-mail ad is trying to sell it as escapist entertainment.  The book is actually a fascinating and sad tale of an inhibited man who only really came to life when creating Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, et al at his drawing board.  Inevitably, Schulz faltered when it came to sustaining relationships with real people.

Sounds like a laugh riot that will appeal to those who buy PEANUTS comic strip compliations, doesn't it?

3. Having read about the Ellen DeGeneres-passing-dog-to-member-of-staff mess, I can't help but say that the dog adoption agency's rigidity in terms of taking the dog away from the staff member and her children is a perfect example of California behavior (both business and social)--think in abstract, these-are-the-rules terms, ignore the human factor and nurse your anger over being criticized in a public forum.



Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Time for another random list entry.

Here's another homage to the old Larry King USA TODAY columns.

1. Isn't it a perfect epitomy of the age we live in when the old euphemism "the f-word" has been replaced by the new euphemism "the f-bomb"?

2. Yes, I downloaded the new Radiohead album IN RAINBOWS and found it to be the most listenable and accessible since Thom Yorke spent most of a decade in the wilderness of experimentation.  But I wonder sometimes about the way Radiohead and its management have trained the rock press to applaud everything the band does as sheer unadulterated genius.  And, given the recent exodus of veteran artists from traditional record labels to controlling their own careers (it's probably considered irrelevant to have a memory of John Prine doing exactly this over two decades ago), it's kind of amusing to see Radiohead treated as if they're the first band to think of such a radical notion.

3.  Tim Rutten, in Saturday's LOS ANGELES TIMES, paused in the middle of an article about Ann Coulter's anti-Semitism (another in her periodic "everyone should convert to Christianity" rants which began after 9/11) to mention the current belief system that offensive speech must be silenced.  Unfortunately, the Left and Right won't let go of this notion.  And don't get me started about certain members of the Los Angeles poetry community--where the bar for "offensiveness" tends to be set according to whether or not you're talking about someone universally regarded as "popular."

4.  Having been to San Francisco last week, it's quite sobering to observe the gentrification going on in the poorer neighborhoods (just like neighboring city Oakland and my city Los Angeles) where mayor Gavin Newsom is hot to lock up homeless people for "quality of life" violations (meaning "get them out of the eyelines of the affluent and the tourists") and even hotter to build more housing for the Priveleged Classes at the expense of the less well-off.  At this rate, maybe Alcatraz could be razed to build luxury condos for those who like the idea of island living and safe isolation from the little people--becoming the equivalent of BLADE RUNNER's Off-World Colonies.  

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A few words about Clarence Thomas and Britney Spears.

Clarence Thomas, the "I'm here to be a strict constructionist and nothing else" member of the Supreme Court, is back with a new book I'm not planning to read.

I remember the fall of 1991 when the confirmation hearings took place.  My reaction to Anita Hill's sexual harassment testimony was that it needed a public airing because Thomas' allegedly-boorish behavior (remember the mentions of the porn star Long Dong Silver and the pubic hair on the Coke can?) would be relevant in terms of how he voted on issues pertaining to women.  A friend of mine disagreed, saying he thought that Thomas' confirmation needed to be opposed, but not by dragging in alleged sexual misconduct.

But Thomas managed to utter the magic words about the hearings being a "high-tech lynching" and George Butch Sr. (who appointed Thomas) made a lasting contribution to American jurisprudence--and one that came in handy when the Supreme Court appointed George Butch Jr. to the Presidency.

And the door was opened wide for both political parties to play "gotcha" regarding private sexual behavior from public officials for the next decade-and-a-half.

Regarding Britney Spears losing her two sons to Kevin Federline: it would have been more merciful for the children to be put in foster care than to be handed from one irresponsible jerk to another.

But perhaps Star Jones was right when she mentioned on Larry King's show recently that, no matter how good or bad Britney's behavior is, the kids will be pretty much raised by the nannies.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

You just can't make a tasteful upscale film about vigilantism.

Here's a comment I left on the Hollywood Elsewhere blog, expanded here:

I'm sorry to say this but THE BRAVE ONE is the worst film Neil Jordan (best known for MONA LISA and THE CRYING GAME) has made to date--even worse than WE'RE NO ANGELS (the now-mostly-forgotten "escaped convicts on the run" period comedy/drama with Robert De Niro, Sean Penn and Demi Moore).

And Jodie Foster needs to get off her ass and work in a film each and every year--even if it's a five-minute role in a nonstudio indie (or even as a voluntary PA for AFI student video projects). This might rid her of the "I'm prestigious" curse that can sometimes mar her acting--plus the carefully-choreographed press she does with each film.

If Jodie Foster has to do a commercial film to pay the bills for herself, her significant other and the kids, far better it be something like PANIC ROOM or FLIGHT PLAN--unapologetic genre films that don't try to make Important Social Statements while being tippy-toe cautious about avoiding the risk of causing the "unsophisticated" (Jodie's description of some potential audience members in at least two THE BRAVE ONE junket interviews) to cheer for the death of one-dimensional "bad guy" characters.

Basically, THE BRAVE ONE was, in terms of pretentiousness, NELL with guns:
chick-a-pea bang bang.

Sarah Silverman on Paris and MTV Movie Awards.

From a sort-of-edgy kiss-kiss exchange between Sarah Silverman and George Wayne in the current VANITY FAIR--Sarah offers insight into her future fang-and-talon attack for laughs re Britney Spears' subpar appearance on the MTV VMAs.

George Wayne: Everything I read about you seems to call you "the hostile comedienne."

Sarah Silverman: I am not hostile or mean.  You made a good point about the MTV [movie] awards.  I was great, but I was out of my element.  You are forced to talk about pop culture and make jokes about specific people and things.  My comedy is a lot more general. [keep in mind that THE SARAH SILVERMAN PROGRAM airs on Viacom property Comedy Central and MTV is another Viacom property]

George Wayne:  I was upset that you so took on the poor hapless victim Paris Hilton.  Not that I am a fan of Paris Hilton's, but it wasn't in good karma.

Sarah Silverman-If I had gone out there and not done a joke about Paris Hilton right before she was to go to prison, then I would have been considered a cop-out.  Whether you like it or not, she is an icon of pop culture.  I had to do the strongest joke, and I had no idea she would go to the MTV Movie Awards two days before prison.  When I did the setup, the crowd went insane.  My heart just sank for her, and when I looked in the audience and saw some guy with a camera right up in her face, it was sad but I couldn't not move on.  I went on with the joke.  And she is a tough cookie, too.

Update (10/3/07): Sarah, on THE VIEW, repeated the above defense, saying that she didn't do jokes re Britney not done on late-night comedy series.

Monday, September 10, 2007

What's your favorite recent Deja Vu moment?

While the corporate media wants you to pay attention to Britney's alleged subpar performance at MTV's VMA awards show (plus the Kid Rock/Tommy Lee smackdown), these Deja Vu moments have been occurring in plain sight:

a. George Butch Jr. in emulation of dad George Butch Sr. uses a phrase involving the words "kick ass".  But Jr. went Sr. one better by attaching the phrase to the Endless Iraq War rather than a mere Presidential campaign.

b. General Petraeus offers what will be just a small withdrawal (required by law) amid a big dose of WE CAN'T LEAVE propaganda--shades indeed of Vietnam.

c. People protest the Administration-orchestrated Petraeus appearance and get arrested (and subjected to mockery on cable news) for their too-spontaneous free speech--more shades of Vietnam.

Feel free to add to this list.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Owen Wilson--why he might be where he is now.

Having been out of state recently, I'm only now getting to write about the attempted suicide of Owen Wilson--which, as irony would have it--propelled his visage onto various celeb magazine and tabloid covers 4-5 days after the Incident occurred.

To me, Owen Wilson is another in the line of people who go to Hollywood hoping for some degree of control over career (remember Owen made his name as a screenwriter/actor in quirky Wes Anderson films) and found that Hollywood was only interested in a minor portion of his prodiguous talents (i.e. amiable leading man in broad, mass-appeal comedies, with maximum star wattage only when paired with Ben Stiller, Jackie Chan, Vince Vaughn, etc. etc.).

An educated guess: when Show Business only wants you to be a profitable one-trick pony and not "fuck with the formula" (in the immortal words of Beach Boy Mike Love), a cocktail of depression and creative inertia sets in (see also the last decade of Billy Joel's career---where the only real productivity was the FANTASIES AND DELUSIONS classical album and allowing Twyla Tharp to use his old music to create the dance show MOVIN' OUT).

It would have been good if Owen avoided alleged heroin and cocaine use and spent time writing plays, novels and more screenplays.  But perhaps he strolled along the Third Street Promenade in his hometown and wandered into, say, the Barnes and Noble or Borders Bookstores.  There, he would have discovered that novels by film directors as diverse as Gus Van Sant, Oliver Stone and Barry Levinson were being outsold by more "popular" fare---and soon to be bound for the dreaded "remainder" section.

Shallow showbiz writers have bleated the "why would a happy-go-lucky guy who had it all do such a thing" groupthink about Owen Wilson.

But the real question is this:

Can you get up each morning and live with yourself if you're not able to achieve everything you've dreamed for as an artist and a human being?

Hopefully, Owen Wilson can find away to live with himself and combat depression with help of family and friends before he climbs back inside the hamster wheel to crank out the entertaining-but-unchallenging movies that Hollywood execs and most of the public only want to see him in.

Rick Lupert-He's All That!

For those who wish to study Los Angeles poetry and its poets in a sort of anthropological fashion, here's a link to a profile of one of its most influential poets, longest running hosts and "behind the scenes" shapers of the L.A. community past and present.

Ladies and gentlemen, here's Rick Lupert--as interviewed by the Poetry LA site recently:

Friday, August 31, 2007


This is a poem I wrote years ago that may have some relevance to the previous entry (which provided a link to Michael Paul's "if only academic poets could have the upper hand in the slam poetry field" screed).  It can also be found in the e-chapbook NOTHING HELD BACK (referred to in a recent entry).



One day, a man dressed in black

rode into town and introduced himself

as the Savior of Poetry.


“Reject low culture!” he cried.

“Your dismal poetry all sounds the same to me!

All poems should display exposure to high culture.

All poems should bear the mark of an MFA degree.

All poems should be thoroughly workshopped

and rewritten dozens of times until they are

scrubbed clean of any stains of amateurism!!!"


"To hell with Slam Poetry!

To hell with personal rants!

To hell with teenage angst!

To hell with childhood memoirs!

To hell with office poetry!

To hell with free verse!"


"Long live sestinas!

Long live clerihews!

Long live triolets!”


No response from the townspeople.


The man in black then pulled out a bullwhip

and began lashing out at everyone around him,

saying that stupidity should be punished.

“Americans are dumb-and proud of it!” he said with a sneer.


I stepped up to the man in black and

took the bullwhip from his hand.

Before he could respond, I told him

that good poetry can be found in all forms-

whether free verse, rhyme-and-meter or slam.

I recommended that he climb on his high horse

and ride out of town immediately.


The man in black, to my surprise,

obeyed my request.

As he rode towards the sunset,

the townspeople could hear him mutter to himself

about collage being a lazy form of poetic art.



and the freedom to write it

in any way possible-


At least until the next man in black rides into town.


Academic poet gives his take on slam poetry.

Passing this along without comment: former Southern California poet Michael Paul's recent column for POETIX.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

New poetry e-book NOTHING HELD BACK available for FREE download.

I've just finished a poetry e-chapbook called NOTHING HELD BACK, with ten poems about personal, political and poetry-related events.

This chapbook is available for free download in either Publisher (pub) or Adobe Reader (pdf) formats.

Please e-mail me at if you would like a copy.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The most vapid, profit-conscious man in television news: Dan Abrams.

MSNBC has now repositioned itself from two earlier incarnations as Earnest Yuppie Newscast and FOX NEWS clone to opinionated centrist network (with more opinions than actual reporting, since that might cost NBCUniversal some money) run by Dan Abrams, a man who looks like a cross between Steve Carell and the Eddie Haskell character from LEAVE IT TO BEAVER.

Keith Olbermann's COUNTDOWN show can occasionally offer some left-of-center opinion counterweight (when not going for easy laughs re "wacky" news and YouTube footage and making celeb silliness the Number One story), but Abrams also pads the channel with crappy prison documentaries, DATELINE predator episodes on their umpteenth run and encourages the female anchors (including former MTV/ABC employee Allison Stewart) to mug and smirk.

And who will ever manage to forget the spectacularly awful "get to know me" ad running now with anchorperson (and Courtney Cox Arquette lookalike) Contessa Brewer singing karaoke in a NYC bar?

Thanks, Dan.  Keep it up.

I told you so! re KID NATION.

Here's a rerun of a blog entry I wrote in May about CBS' reality series KID NATION:

There's a reality series called KID NATION coming to CBS next season which will take children (age not known at present) and set them up in a New Mexico ghost town to see how they'll carry on in a world without adult supervision.

Yes, there will undoubtedly be some kind of scripting and multiple takes (a reality show way of ensuring the kind of "reality" the producers and network want).  And it's a safe guess that this kind of social engineering will involve young people getting the kind of psychological damage which comes from humilation and bullying in a public forum (let's leave off the table the issue of "they wanted to do it" for now).

And since the participants will be younger than most reality series "stars", CBS will probably bully them further with don't-tell-or-we'll-bury-you nondisclosure agreements.

Maybe CBS could have a reality series where Les Moonves and other execs jump into a swimming pool filled with human and animal feces in order to grab a billion dollars in tax-free cash.

That's a series I'd rather watch.

See also this recent article posted to AOL:

Monday, July 30, 2007

Re the passing of Ingmar Bergman and Tom Snyder.

As a university student in Wichita Falls, TX in 1980, I didn't have too many options in terms of viewing foreign films.  In the fall of that year, I was a student of Dr. Baird Whitlock's Introduction to Foreign Films class at the Wichita Falls Museum.

There, I was introduced to Ingmar Bergman's work.  Whitlock was a passionate devotee of Bergman--and the films he screened included SHAME, THE PASSION OF ANNA and PERSONA.

The intensity of emotion is what I remember most from watching these films for the first time.  And I thank Dr. Whitlock for broadening my limited perspective as to what film can aspire to and accomplish.

As for Tom Snyder, he was the interviewer as Star.  If you're of a certain age, you can remember the numerous parodies Dan Aykroyd did of Snyder on the original SNL.

Some of the NBC TOMORROW shows from 1973-81 (those involving musical guests) have surfaced on DVD recently.  Given the tendency to cash in on deaths of the famous, perhaps some of the episodes with non-musical interviewees will be released later this year.

Friday, July 27, 2007

A modest proposal re Lindsay Lohan and her sisters/brothers in Tabloidland.

Unless Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton etc. etc. are involved in car accidents where someone is seriously injured or killed--or are killed themselves--any story involving them should be treated strictly as a one-day affair by mainstream print and televised media.

Any one-day stories of the above personalities should end with web addresses of and other sites of a similar bent for those who want to spend their lives wallowing in the antics of Lindsay, etc. etc. nonstop.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hilary Duff's bikini body secrets.

Unless someone can tell me otherwise, I assume that showbiz ubermom Susan Duff still controls the not-as-hot-as-it-was career of daughter Hilary.

In an effort to reposition Hilary Duff as both an Object of Desire and a Dieting Success Story, there are two current magazine covers with Hilary in either bikini or athletic two-piece wear (one of them is US; I've forgotten the other).

Unfortunately, Hilary Duff, even with the now-brown hair and thinner body (with pushed-up cleavage), will never exude the physical appeal (especially to teenage and college-age boys) of the current pinups du jour--Jessica Alba and Megan Fox.

In an amusing sidebar, easily-controlled-by-Disney Hilary clone Miley (HANNAH MONTANA) Cyrus has now changed her hairstyle from LIZZIE McGUIRE-era Hilary blonde to "mature" Hilary brown.

Monday, July 16, 2007

My mother's health.

A week ago, my mother was found immobile in the living room chair in her vacation home in New Mexico.  She was thought to have had a stroke, but tests at the Holy Cross Hospital in Taos proved a brain aneurysm existed instead.

Last Wednesday, my mother was operated on at the University of New Mexico hospital in Albuquerque.  The aneurysm had burst, but a clamp was placed on the portion of the brain controlling the speech and swallowing functions.

Thank goodness she survived the operation and later today (Monday), she'll have a tracheotomy (sp?) so she can again breathe on her own.  She can move her legs, shake her head yes and no when asked questions and has visually expressed her dismay with being confined to a hospital bed.

I've been in Albuquerque much of last week.  I'm now back in Canoga Park and will return to New Mexico on Thursday (my older brother is staying there until I return).  Thanks to all the people (family and friends) who have sent my mother their best wishes and prayers.  And thanks to the doctors and nurses in the neurological wing of UNM Hospital.

Regular blog entries will resume later this week.


Sunday, July 8, 2007

LIVE EARTH is history--now what?

Yes, I enjoyed the LIVE EARTH music I heard on Sirius satellite radio and watched on NBC, Sundance, Bravo and CNBC.  And, yes, I also watched the it's-up-to-you-little-people tips on taking public transit, using energy-efficient light bulbs, turning computers to sleep mode when not using, etc. etc. etc.

I guess I'm a bit suprised that Al Gore didn't emulate the Jerry Lewis MDA telethon and bring out some corporate execs (for valuable face time) to announce commitments of cash or personpower to reducing their gigantic carbon footprints.  But why attempt to hold corporations in the free world and in capitalist/communist hybrid China to even a loose set of standards when it's easier to exhort the little people to partially erase their somewhat smaller emissions of greenhouse gases?

A final observation:  Obviously, TODAY newsreader/DATELINE host Ann Curry utilized someone to engage in the process of pre-interviewing her guests.  When Trudi Styler (wife of Sting) dared to get substantive and mention Chevron allegedly dumping oil in a poor village area, causing a greater amount of cancer among the village's citizenry, Ann immediately reported corporatespeak about how it's not Chevron's fault, that it's the fault of the country's own oil company and that the matter is now in court (reminds me of a recent profile of Rupert Murdoch in THE NEW YORKER where the claim was made that the censorship-prone version of MySpace in China wasn't really Murdoch's baby--the MySpace name was "licensed" locally).

Something to think about in the months before the LIVE EARTH DVD box (likely in environmentally appropriate packaging) is released for holiday giftgiving.


Friday, July 6, 2007

Reactivating an old webpage.

An old website I haven't used since 2002, SELECTED POEMS, is now in the process of being reactivated.

Here's a link to the links page:

Feel free to click onto one or more of the links--and, if there are any of them no longer working, contact me here so I can delete them.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Listening to two poets who hate me.

A few minutes ago, I listened to a portion of an internet radio show called INSPIRED BY.  It's located on

I know the host (a woman) and the guest ( a man).  Around 2003-2004, I made both the woman and the man furious with me for making comments (both expressing personal dislike and dismay with their narrowness on what they considered GOOD POETRY) on a certain poetry listserve.  It's a big no-no in the poetry community to be aggressively opinionated and call people out in public when you disagree with them, so I was beaten with a rhetorical tire iron and considered "mean."

Both the woman and the man won't speak to me anymore, and I'm not inclined to do much to reverse the situation (though I e-mail invited the woman to the Coffee Junction reading to see a friend of hers feature recently).

However, I must say that there was a certain earnest sweetness as they read poetry (not always their own) and talked about artistic influences.  Hopefully, no one will take it as an insult if I compare INSPIRED BY to high schoolers in the A/V club looking for someone who shares their sincere and knowledgeable enthusiasm for an art form not blessed with mainstream recognition.

Therefore, I'll recommend for the various verse-related programs (including THE MOE GREEN POETRY HOUR) hosted by Los Angeles poets. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Martial law in America continues.

At this point, I'm just another blogger venting about George Butch and Dick "Shotgun" Cheney deciding to protect Scooter Libby from prison but keep the fine and probation on the books--something called "commuting" the sentence.

Something grimly amusing on Keith Olbermann last night: A legal expert who dared mention that Bill Clinton grossly abused the pardon privelege (at the end of his second term in office) by pardoning his brother, plus allegedly crooked financier Marc Rich.

Olbermann let the subject drop.  Safe to guess that COUNTDOWN will bestow wet kisses to Hillary's run for the Presidency by this time next year.

(Speaking of Hillary, is it bad form to suggest that sensitivity about her gender--whether she's "tough enough" in a post-9/11 world--will lead her to be as reckless with warmaking and troop deployment as George?)

To ignore the Rule of Law for the Rule of Cronyism and, conversely, engage in stonewalling/coverup is bad Presidential behavior--whether it's from George W. Bush, Richard Nixon (mentioned by Olbermann in his closing commentary last night) or Bill Clinton.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Paul Simon memorial gathering at the Library of Congress.

I just finished watching the Library of Congress' Gershwin Award ceremony for Paul Simon on PBS.  Like most tribute shows, some acts were better than others--my favorite performances included Allison Krauss' version of "Graceland", Lyle Lovett's "That Was Your Mother", Jessy Dixon and a female backup vocalist doing a "Gone At Last" duet superior to the Simon/Phoebe Snow original on the STILL CRAZY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS album and Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo doing a reasonably enthusiastic version of "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes."

Unfortunately, it's a little bittersweet when one considers that Simon's last sustained burst of creative genius took place with GRACELAND and THE RHYTHM OF THE SAINTS--and the better part of the last two decades have only produced a handful of good songs scattered amongst three subpar albums, plus an enjoyable for-the-paycheck reunion tour with Art Garfunkel.  Out of charity, I'll not rehash the controversy over Simon's attempt to conquer musical theater (THE CAPEMAN)--which consumed much of his time and creative energy in the 90s.

But the Gershwin/Library of Congress award is probably a good thing for Simon--he doesn't have to go out on tour; yet another WB-released best-of compilation came out this week (THE ESSENTIAL PAUL SIMON) and the press he's been doing plus the PBS special will stimulate sales of his solo back catalog.

Maybe the adulation might nudge Simon into actually trying to reach out to his devoted fanbase again (we all know he's cranky about having to sweat to be commercial and be a part of the marketplace--something he gave up after the successful duo of GRACELAND/SAINTS) and write a whole album of songs that can stand proudly alongside his best solo work from the period of 1972-1990.

Or maybe he and Garfunkel can cease their feuding one more time and go into the studio together for a final album.  BOOKENDS II, perhaps?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

What I learned from Kathy Griffin.

Last night, I saw Kathy Griffin (currently of Bravo Channel reality-show fame) at the Gibson (formerly Universal) Ampitheatre.  By stand-up comic standards, she did a Springsteen-esque two-hour set, which contained very funny material about celebrity vanity, ego and image-vs.-reality.

One thing I took away from the show is the extent that the egos of today's  "artistic talents" can be lofty and fragile.  Consequently, one must be prepared to go on with life if you've bruised someone's ego and the person bruised decides to eternally banish the bruiser.

Poetry is, in its own way, another branch of show business.  And, as with Kathy being snubbed by people as varied as Star Jones (who had her 86ed from THE VIEW for awhile) and Bill Maher (who apparently thinks she doesn't have enough "depth" for REAL TIME), I'm aware that irreverence may close some doors permanently. 

All I can do as a poet/host is to realize poets are people too and try to avoid unnecessary cruelty, but at the same time be unafraid to have a dissenting opinion when the occasion warrants....and be prepared for whatever happens next.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

When TSA agents attack!

I was in San Francisco over the weekend to see a friend compete in the SF Slam Finals.  The only thing that marred the trip was some rudeness from TSA personnel  (they're allegedly understaffed and suffering from low morale so they bully passengers Just Because They Can) at SFO yesterday.  TSA Alpha Male, anticipating passenger feedback, screamed:
to make passengers comfortable before going through the screening process.
I incurred the sting of another TSA Alpha Male's tongue when I was about five seconds too slow in putting items in the plastic bowl, after the de rigeur removal of shoes, belt, keys and fountain pen.  Obviously, it's important to the TSA to keep the line moving  a la Chaplin's MODERN TIMES even if mistakes or omissions in the screening process occur.
My all-time favorite example of bad TSA behavior is from when I was in Seattle last November and the agent responsible for giving out prescreening orders to passengers (products in tiny ziplocs, etc.) yelled THIS IS THE ENDGAME!  It does remind me of how some production assistants and ADs behave towards extras on film/TV sets.
One exception: if you talk back to a PA or AD, you only have the economic worry of being fired on the spot and potential blackballing from the extras' casting agency and/or calling service who sent you on the job.  Any response to an obnoxious TSA agent--from polite-but-irritated to righteous anger--can lead to detainment (a missed flight, for example) and possible arrest.
I just love the use of stupid power to keep people in line while they're waiting in line.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Poetry--a big tent or an exclusive club?

Matt McGee, a Ventura County poet who edits FALLING STAR magazine, recently sent an editiorial to  And thanks to current Poetix editor Richard Modiano for printing the piece.

Here's the link to the complete article:

And here's a pertinent excerpt:

Poetry’s Bad Name

I ask every working poet one simple question. Would you like your books to sell at Borders, Barnes & Noble and on Amazon? If not, crawl back into your comfortable little poetry hole and stop bothering the rest of us. Poets, pay close mind to the story your work is telling and how clearly it is being told. We lost many sales at this year’s Festival by simply saying “we publish poetry.” Why?

 Because the majority of the reading public have been pushed away for 40 years by the obscurantism of charlatans who think that dropping a pile of unrelated words on a sheet of paper is good poetry—and then deride their readers for “not getting it.” This may be considered simplistic. So how has berating Joe Reader been helping your book sales, Bub? These people highjack our great medium. I work twice as hard to sell a magazine that should sell itself. We publish narrative works, things that tell a story and relate the human condition, the very base, original intent of language. The comment I recently received from a truck driver friend said it all. “I [expletive] hate poetry, but dude, I actually liked your magazine. It’s actually OK.” I’ll never get a better review than that. Unless the writer is using the form to tell a clear, interesting story, and until more magazines drop the Cooler-Than-Thou attitude and embrace Kerouac’s “simple idea of whipping up a little tale in no time,” poetry will continue to be rightfully rejected by the public.

I'm curious how much time Matt has spent in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, for there's a lot of Cooler-Tnan-Thou going on in these areas. 

Maybe Cooler-Than-Thou can be summarized as:

1. Some people want to be poets and/or in a circle of poets because they think they're aesthetically and morally superior to the "stupid masses" they decry.

2. Some people want to be poets to acquire the kind of make-and-break-and-ban power that they don't get to exercise in their day jobs.

I used to be dismissed for advocating that poets should try to reach out to the vast number of nonpoets.  And I sympathize enough with Matt's predicament to make an effort to read FALLING STAR in the future to see what kind of poetry lies within its pages.

Paris Hilton has more perspective than corporate media.

A recent quote from Paris Hilton:

"I would hope going forward that the public and the media will focus on more important things like the men and women serving our country in Iraq and other places around the world."

A selfless sentiment which will be ignored since news departments run by corporations will only broadcast news (and, with reduced budgets for reporting, loud punditry) that will get ratings and not cause potential loss of money or access to Real Power for their CEO parents.

Now it's only a question of how much Parismania the media will keep bombarding us with until mid-to-late August when the TEN YEARS SINCE THE DEATH OF  PEOPLE'S PRINCESS DIANA carpetbombing begins in earnest.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Those wonderful CNN debate questions.

Apparently CNN looks back at Bernard Shaw's "what would you do if your wife was assaulted" Presidential debate question to Michael Dukakis in 1988 with nostalgia for the fuss it stirred up.

Soledad "I was removed from AMERICAN MORNING for low ratings" O'Brien asked a whopper of a "faith and values" question Monday night.  John Edwards was the lucky Presidential candidate forced to answer it.

The question was: "What is the biggest sin you've ever committed?"

Can you say "intrusive"?  Can you say "inane"?

Do we have to tolerate dumb "gotcha" questions just so CNN can get a few extra ratings points (by assuming that all religious people are busybodies who just have to know the exact sins candidates for the Highest Office in the Land commit)?

Time Warner obviously will keep throwing the first stone at aspiring Presidential sinners for the next year and a half--without any worrisome thoughts about corporate hypocrisy. 


Friday, June 1, 2007

1967 is 40 years old--so is its music.

The summer of 1967 was considered the Summer of Love and attention is again being
paid to the psychedelia-influenced rock (plus other related genres)
of this period.

Log onto to access a site celebrating the

In record stores, there are several compilations in release or coming
soon, including best-ofs from Moby Grape, The Turtles and The Remains
(a band which opened for The Beatles on their final tour in 1966) plus
a two-disc Monterey Pop Festival live set with additional previously-
unreleased songs--the latter album to be released June 5th.

Also in release or reissue: the debut album from the 13th Floor Elevators (led
by Texan Roky Erickson), Pink Floyd's PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN, The
Who's THE WHO SELL OUT, The Doors' self-titled debut album, The Moody Blues' DAYS OF FUTURE PASSED (THE
MOODY BLUES: LIVE AT THE BBC can now be purchased at Tarzana's CD
TRADER) and--while not a 1967 album, an entertaining tribute to the
era--The Dukes of Statosphear's CHIPS FROM THE CHOCOLATE FIREBALL
(actually XTC under a pseudonym).

One wonders if a best-of collection by one-hit folk/pop artist Scott McKenzie (who had a huge hit in 1967 with "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)" will appear to cash in on the momentary boom in hippie nostalgia.

Monday, May 28, 2007

My version of the Zeitgeist Checklist.

A long time ago, the Zeitgeist Checklist (a sort of Top 10 of national/world events) used to appear in THE NEW REPUBLIC.  More recently, it surfaced on

This is in no specific order, but you're welcome to arrange it as you choose and add or delete events.

1. Lindsay Lohan, tabloid ingenue and occasional actress/singer, is allegedly found with cocaine.

2. Paul Newman, citing memory loss among other things (my guess is that a lack of good scripts is the primary factor), retires from film acting after an oft-distinguished 52-year career.

3. George W. Bush wants to keep staying the course in Iraq.

4. Dick Cheney wants to give war a chance re Iran.

5. Alberto Gonzales is still singing "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going."

6. In Los Angeles, the Metropolitan Transportation Agency tells poor people to suck it up and pay a large-increase-over-two-years re bus passes. 

7.  The whitewash revisionism of Ronald Reagan's Presidency continues with Douglas Brinkley's Nancy-approved condensation of RR's White House diaries.

8. According to this month's VANITY FAIR, Susan Sarandon and Bruce Willis have forged an across-ideological-lines alliance to help Iraq War vets get better medical care.

9. Jordin Sparks wins AMERICAN IDOL; Blake, the blandest human beatbox on planet Earth, is the runner-up.

10. Bill and Hillary Clinton allegedly devised a "20-year plan" decades ago; this plan was to lead to both of them winning the Presidency.

BONUS ENTRY: Happy talk today (Tuesday, May 29th) on THE VIEW regarding the disappearance of Rosie O'Donnell; Barbara says Rosie's always welcome, Elisabeth talks about forgiveness and Whoopi Goldberg (possible replacement) shows up; from what I saw of the show, the edgiest talk consisted of the relatively safe topics of watching porn videos and seeing men naked--as Scott Fitzgerald said, more-or-less, boats against the current sliding back into the past.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The War President gets what he wants.

Here's an interesting sentence from a news article carried by AOL on the Democratic Party flip-flop re the current endless war led by Cowboy George:

In addition to jettisoning their plan for a troop withdrawal timeline, Democrats abandoned attempts to require the Pentagon to adhere to troop training, readiness and rest requirements unless Bush waived them.

No further comment except to say that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are chickendoves and the Democratic Leadership Council (the let's-imitate-Republicans wing of the Democratic Party) should receive equal condemnation as well.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

CBS reality series: An accident waiting to happen?

There's a reality series called KID NATION coming to CBS next season which will take children (age not known at present) and set them up in a New Mexico ghost town to see how they'll carry on in a world without adult supervision.

Yes, there will undoubtedly be some kind of scripting and multiple takes (a reality show way of ensuring the kind of "reality" the producers and network want).  And it's a safe guess that this kind of social engineering will involve young people getting the kind of psychological damage which comes from humilation and bullying in a public forum (let's leave off the table the issue of "they wanted to do it" for now).

And since the participants will be younger than most reality series "stars", CBS will probably bully them further with don't-tell-or-we'll-bury-you nondisclosure agreements.

Maybe CBS could have a reality series where Les Moonves and other execs jump into a swimming pool filled with human and animal feces in order to grab a billion dollars in tax-free cash.

That's a series I'd rather watch.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Jerry Falwell's passing.

I haven't been listening to the eulogies for Jerry Falwell, godfather of the Moral Majority.

Instead I think of one of the greatest sight gags during Chuck Jones' tenure as architect of the Road Runner cartoons.

A cactus falls into a canyon.  Wile E. Coyote falls not long after.


Then Wile E., screaming from cactus needles in the posterior, flies up towards the camera until the viewer sees a ultraclose shot of his face.

For all the arrogance, smugness, divisiveness (who can forget Jerry calling Ellen Degeneres ELLEN DEGENERATE?) and ham-handed insistence that his interpretation of Jesus' teachings spoke for all of Christianity, it's not that hard to replay that cartoon gag with Jerry Falwell standing in for Wile E. Coyote.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Back from Hawaii.

Sorry to have been away from blogging for so long.  My wife Valarie and I were vacationing in Hawaii and I stayed mostly computerless for the trip.

Later this week, I'll resume a more consistent schedule of posting.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The poetry jihad continues.

A few posts back, I mentioned the differences between the local poetry community's distaste for "negativity" and the raucous back-and-forth found on a film blog I occasionally post comments to:

In the poetry community, listserves are now kept pure and decorous with miscreants often banned for arguing with other poets.  Sometimes banishment can be avoided as long as you're not criticizing a poet on his/her listserve.  And raucous disagreements of the HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE variety aren't found since some poets running listserves scrutinize every post for evil and perfidy, or the potential for evil, before allowing them--leading to listserves mostly being filled with poets announcing their upcoming readings.

Perhaps the difference between the poetry and film communities is this: the film community is more secure in commenting on an art form that is consumed by millions of people while the poetry community (at least in L.A., counting a few hundred poets who are active) practices an art form that pays very little, if anything, and isn't often heard outside its tribe.  Therefore, a hemophiliac level of hypersensitivity exists, leading people to think that silencing naysayers/stifling dissent is being protective of their brothers and sisters.  If this mania for avoiding "hurtfulness" could be channeled into, say, more intervenue (two readings crossing over to each other's venues--as was done years back with Beyond Baroque and The World Stage) reading events, the community would be better off.  Instead, there's the grim humor of witnessing socially-conscious progressives going into contortions to justify censoring "negativity" of others while complaining when they are censored themselves.

And, just when I was looking forward to a brighter future, I discovered that someone who will be nameless had a poem published in a poetry hosts' anthology (which I also contributed to).  The poem was a "found" piece, stringing together various comments I made on a listserve I'm no longer part of.  Some of those comments are regrettable (and I've tried to apologize to the person concerned); the others are removed from their original context and arranged to condemn me for changing my mind (i.e. going back and forth) about whether or not to be a "good citizen" of local poetry.

But what was most bothersome was that the poem strongly implied that I had no business being a host of a poetry reading in a public venue.

I've had three readings at Coffee Junction and am looking forward to the fourth next month.  I've done my best to keep the poets and the venue owner satisfied.  And I hope to keep the reading going--expanding the audience and the various types of poets booked there.

And the person who wrote the poem is invited to come too.  Though I may dislike the poem and its implications, there will be no turned-off mike and no ejection if he chooses to read it at Coffee Junction.

I still believe in freedom of speech, even though sensitivities--including my own--may be occasionally bruised.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Bush Administration continues to blithely ignore naysayers.

George W. Bush continues to live in his own version of Bizarro World.  Alberto Gonzales' "I don't recall" performance last Thursday is worthy of support since the embattled Attorney General said nothing and didn't embarrass anyone but himself; therefore to Bush, it's a "fine job" that ensures Gonzales will stay employed until (presumably) the next performance-related scandal erupts.

And I can't help but mention the recent Correspondents' Dinner, where Stephen Colbert's caustic and funny truth-to-power performance last year was erased by impressionist Rich Little doing nonoffensive schtick from decades past.

Although Sheryl Crow and Laurie David came off as pampered, condescending limousine liberals on REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER recently (Ms. David made a too-lordly remark about "educating" the South re global warming), they didn't deserve the "I don't work for you--you're not Americans" scolding they received from Karl "MC" Rove at the Correspondents' Dinner.

Note to Karl Rove: when I see right-wing papers like the L.A. DAILY NEWS acknowledging Earth Day this year, maybe it's time to consider that the remaining 29% of diehard true-Bush-believers might contain a sizable number of people who might want to preserve the environment for the sake of their grandchildren and future generations to come.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Chris Richardson and Simon Cowell on last night's IDOL.

Apparently there's controversy about how Simon Cowell allegedly rolled his eyes after AMERICAN IDOL contestant Chris Richardson mentioned the Virginia Tech tragedy on last night's show during the judges-comments portion.  Simon later issued a statement that the eye-rolling only related to him talking to Paula Abdul about Richardson defending consciously-nasal "country" singing.

And Cowell's sincere mention of the tragedy later on seems to have been forgotten by those looking for more celebrity missteps to complain about.

But it's tempting to roll one's eyes about Chris Richardson seeming to use a sympathetic statement on Monday's tragic killings as a blatant "win the crowd" tactic after being taken to task for a subpar vocal performance.

I hope this isn't being too cynical about someone's motives, but it would have been more appropriate if Richardson had made his statement before performing, rather than afterwards.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Post-Virginia Tech murders.

As expected, the cable news channels are covering the tragic murders of students and professors at Virginia Tech Monday on a 24-hour basis.

And it's likely that the cycle of blaming entertainment product for triggering a disturbed person's uncontrollable fury will begin again.  My guess is that movie advertising won't be in the crosshairs of pressure groups, as it was after Columbine.  Instead, the video gaming industry will take a moderate hit--and perhaps some violent games will be pulled from the marketplace.

On Keith Olbermann's COUNTDOWN, this subject was mentioned: the publicly emotional reaction to mass murders by lone gunmen vs. the relative lack of reaction to military and civilian deaths in Iraq.

My theory: Random deaths are still considered far more horrifying by the American public than deaths during wartime--the latter doesn't provoke much comment due to both the absence of visuals of deaths (and flag-draped caskets) in the media and the acceptance of soldiers' deaths occurring from doing their duty in war, regardless of the degree of support for the war at home.

Monday, April 16, 2007

In the spirit of National Poetry Month.

Here's a chance to read poetry by poets you haven't yet heard of--and contribute an e-book of poetry of your own.  It's the Poetry Super Highway's 3rd annual e-book exchange contest--and here's the link below to the site, run by Rick Lupert:

Three e-books of mine have been entered, among them my new I USED TO BE RICKY NELSON BUT I'M PERRY COMO NOW and HOLLYWOOD POETRY BABYLON, a compilation of poems about movies and the show business Industry.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The continuing saga of Don Imus and the Rutgers women's basketball team.

To be honest, I've seen very little of Don Imus' MSNBC simulcast of his radio show.  I became turned off to Imus' cranky sourness back in 1985 when VH1 was in its infancy--Imus was one of the NYC deejays (Frankie Crocker was another) doing VJ duties on the channel.

Since then, we all know the rest of the Don Imus career trajectory.  Imus decided to separate himself from the shock-jock pack and turn his show into a partial clubhouse for politicians and media pundits to drop by and spin their wares.  And, as a result, the show has appealed to an older, more affluent audience (in a way, one could consider Imus to be Goofus to Charlie Rose's Gallant). 

Yesterday, in the fallout of Imus' racist/sexist remark about the Rutgers University women's basketball team, one could turn on cable news channels and see the media wanting to protect Imus from extended fallout over his remark [CBS radio and MSNBC later announced Imus will take a two-week suspension].

Today, the story has expanded into the kind of racist scandal that, according to the media, is a "Teachable Moment." 

Call me cynical, but future generations will remember this about as much as today's generation recalls the racist outbursts of Jimmy The Greek Snyder and Al Campanis from two decades ago--or the anti-Semitic slur relating to New York City that Rev. Jesse Jackson uttered around the same time period.

Fear, resentment and the temptation to stereotype based on skin color or nationality are sins all of us have to constantly guard against--regardless of what skin color or nationality we are.

UPDATE: One day later, with the Imus simulcast canceled, the NBC News President came on air to talk in a fake-pious tone about the integrity of the news division (while salving Imus' battered ego on the side) and to dodge the truth: advertiser pullout and loss of revenue was the tipping point for NBCUniversal's decision.

If NBCUniversal really wanted a news division with integrity, they'd reverse their current budget cuts and do something really out-of-the-box: have a news division that actually reports news as a public service  AND BE WILLING TO LOSE MONEY BY DOING SO.

It's a step backward to television's long-ago past, and it should be a necessary one in an age of frivolity-gets-higher-numbers-than-substance. 

Saturday, April 7, 2007

The Beverly Center--I'm getting older, it's getting younger.

I was at the Beverly Center mall in West Hollywood/Beverly Hills last night to see FIGHTING WORDS; this mall is a place I haven't been to since around 2000/2001.

It was interesting to see that mall management has transformed the Beverly Center into a 35-and-under shopping paradise (realizing that yuppie families and affluent middle-agers are lost to the Grove).  The stores mostly skew young, and there's youth-friendly seats to rest at; one teenage girl was sitting, legs crossed, talking on her cell phone on a chair--giving the impression that the girl was at home in her bedroom catching up on the latest peer news with her friends in the T-Mobile circle of five.

There are no bookstores in the current Beverly Center.  Or immediately across the street, either--Barnes and Noble shut down its BOOKSTAR store in the nearby Beverly Connection years ago .  And once Borders swallowed Waldenbooks, the Brentano's store (which I used to enjoy for its comfortable divan that made reading a pleasure) disappeared too.  I know, I know, younger people allegedly don't read much and if they do, they can walk a couple of blocks south on La Cienega to the large Borders store.

The only place to buy CDs (doom-laden predictions of this music format's death increased in volume the past few days) is the Sony store, where you get nothing but Sony product sold as a loss leader (you're expected to buy high-end HD equipment instead).

One improvement: the food court on the eighth level has al fresco dining with a coin-operated magnifying telescope.  This device is good for playing a simple time-marches-on game: spot the Los Angeles landmarks which haven't yet been torn down by developers or repurposed as trendy hotels/mixed-use apartment and retail properties/lofts.

But that's a game that younger consumers--now the lifeblood of the Beverly Center--may never be aware of.