Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year: We're Knockin' on a New Decade's Door!

As the Jib Jab geniuses and a few cool cats help us usher in the New Year, I want to take a moment to thank everyone who helped me launch me into cyberspace in 2009. Gratitude goes to Ren and Susie, Betty, Sandy & Mike D--hardcore radio fans all, for nudging me to "Blog, baby, blog." My sister Shana mentioned it once or two hundred times, too. So she deserves a hearty salutation, as well. It has been a true pleasure to re-connect with fans and connect with new friends through Radio Graffiti and its oft-neglected sister site, Scribbler's Folly (that's okay; SF is more evolved and doesn't crave as much attention. But, since clients and students from my other life as a creativity coach have clamored for my wisdom--lol--SF will get some more in 2010).

And thanks to Dolores and Gilbert at News Junkie Post for taking me into their progressive and very cool fold. You can "Digg" my stories at as well as myriad other sites around the web. And "follow" my Tweets. Stay tuned, too, for new adventures in Marconi's box.

And I wish you health and hope, wealth and joy in 2010. Oh, yeah, and no-cal chocolate that tastes like the real deal! And makes you wise and funny, kind and cute the more you eat.

Drive safe. Play nice. Think peace.

See ya next year!


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Vic Chesnutt’s Last Song: Folk-Rocker Dead at 45 | NEWS JUNKIE POST

Such sad news about Vic Chsenutt. The singer-songwriter struggled for so long and yet produced so much raw, honset work. Read my New Junkie Post tribute. R.I.P. Vic.
Vic Chesnutt’s Last Song: Folk-Rocker Dead at 45 | NEWS JUNKIE POST

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ella Fitzgerald's Swingin' Christmas Caper

YouTube - Ella Fitzgerald - Sleigh Ride

It's a cold case already. Going on three, make it four years since someone swiped my CD copy of the classic Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas. I've got my list of suspects. And you better believe I'm checking it twice. The ex-radio colleague with sticky fingers who was caught "inadvertently borrowing" another Christmas collection a few years back. A boyfriend with a penchant for pawing through my CD collection. A friend with an Ella Fitzgerald fetish. They top the list. But it could be almost anyone.

Here's the deal: I'm usually careful with my collection, but after segueing from music radio, where your show pretty much comes out of a computer nowadays to talk radio, I became accustomed to schlepping a portable library of CDS featuring everything from an array of rock tunes to novelty songs, comedy bits, and seasonal faves to use as bumpers, fills and for special features. So after a while, the contents of the tote, however shielded can be subject to the wrong hands.

And that's what I fear happened to Ella's genius 1960 Verve recording,a tour de force that swings through the great American songbook of holiday hits ( you won't find any traditional hymns here). The collection is one of two seminal contemporary Christmas albums; the other, of course, is Phil Spector's Christmas Album.

From "Sleigh Ride" to "Frosty the Snowman," from " Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" to "Let it Snow, Let it Snow," Ella infuses the season with her signature jazzy vibe. Quite simply, the First Lady of Jazz is the the epitome of cool yule. And no one can sing the heartbreakingly lonely, "What are You Doing New Year's Eve, " with Ella's rich, nuanced spirit.

Thanks to You Tube and, I got a quick Ella fix. Next year, I'll have to break down and buy a new copy of the classic. I mean, if the culprit doesn't come forward. Or isn't outed by Nancy Grace.

Drive safe. Make merry. Think peace.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"Wonderful" Tribute

YouTube - George Bailey by Carolyn Sills Thanks to fellow blogger, Carolyn Sills for this original ditty. This one is so sweet and catchy, it should be an instant classic. Really, it's that good. And the animation is a whimsical tribute to the old Fleischer cartoons of the Capra era. Give it a listen. And no matter your woes or last minute shopping pressures, you'll think, yeah, It's a Wonderful Life.

Just amazing what one little song can do to alter your outlook.

Drive safe. Play nice. Think peace.


"It's Christmas, Shut up!"

YouTube - "A Merry American Christmas" by Roy Zimmerman

Merry news for all soldiers in the "War on Christmas" brigade. Santa has been released from Gitmo. Just in time to lead his communist collective of elves and reindeer, distributing free gifts to kids across the land.
Okay, so Bill O has eased up a bit on the so-called anti-Christmas paranoia. The War on Christmas may seem oh so 2005, but that hasn't stopped South Carolina Congressman Henry Brown from introducing a resolution to "protect the sanctity of Christmas." Like Congress isn't a little busy these days. Brown got all hot and bothered when he discovered the Obamas' holiday card only offered "Seasons Greetings." Sorry, Congressman, but Pres. Bush's 2008 greeting omitted "Christmas" too. So much for the liberal crusade against Christmas. With Joe Wilson, Mark Sanford and Brown, the parties (not to mention the IQs) in South Carolina must be rockin'

Then there's the American Family Association, which has been making their list. And no doubt, checking it twice. CVS and Victoria Secret are naughty. Costco and Wal-Mart are nice. The biggest target this year: The Gap. Something about turtlenecks in an array of bright colors, I guess. Actually the group-- which called for a two month boycott of all Gap stores back in November--is miffed because the company's official policy is to say, "Happy Holidays." And the Gap also gets low ho ho hos for that annoying all inclusive ad that maniacally commands: 'Go Christmas, Go Chanukah, Go Kwanza..."

Just go. And don't forget to say, "Merry Christmas," as you trample over your fellow last-minute shoppers on your quest to snag that last, coveted Zhu Zhu Pet.

Drive safe. Play nice. Think peace.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Media Matters: Misinformer of the Year 2009: Glenn Beck

YouTube - Misinformer of the Year 2009: Glenn Beck Media Matters for America called it right. This montage captures some of Beck's biggest bloviations and critical assessments from the left and right. Congrats, Beck. You earned the dubious distinction. Here's to the extinction of his hate-mongering show in 2010!

Beyond Capra

I know I risk having gingerbread, or worse, vats of eggnog, hurled at me. But I have a love-hate thing going with It's a Wonderful Life.After over-exposure to the Frank Capra Christmas movie classic as a child, I ditched it and all its warm and fuzzy sentimentality. I had fleece socks and an MFA fellowship, after all. So what did I need with all that simple love and kindness?

After watching George Bailey realize how important his life was, I don't know, something like fifty times before puberty even set in, a girl gets jaded. Remember, this was back in the days of before cable TV offered hundreds of stations with nothing on, and no one owned the film, so it was played on almost every channel umpteen times throughout the season.

For quite a few years I avoided the movie completely. But I recently saw it again. And it looks like love again. The sweet, heart-warming tale of a small town bank owner who takes on the greedy, heartless tycoon, Mr. Madoff... uh, Potter, and is loved by all he's ever met, feels oh, so comfy again. Just like getting together with a long-lost friend.

But you know what? It's still not my favorite seasonal offering.

That honor has always gone to Christmas in Connecticut, Peter Godfrey's 1945 holiday trifle. Barbara Stanwyck stars as an early faux Martha Stewart who finds her true love on her phony honeymoon with her fake hubby. She's a popular magazine columnist who's supposed to write about hearth and home... only thing is she doesn't have either. And when her publisher--the funny and formidable Sydney Greenstreet--demands she host a navy hero for Christmas, her scam risks reveal. Until her insufferable beau offers his convenient farm and a makeshift marriage. It's corny--even for that era--but a delightful, kitsch confection that is a perfect complement to a late night peppermint schnapps infused hot cocoa. Great co-stars include Reginald Gardner, Dennis Morgan and the ever adorable, S.Z. "Cuddles" Sakall.

Other faves:

Comfort and Joy: Bill Forsyth's rarely shown 1984 holiday treat starring Bill Patterson as a Scottish disc jockey who finds his world unravelling after his girlfriend leaves him and he unwittingly gets embroiled in a war in the ice cream truck underworld. This is a quirky confection from the director of Gregory's Girl. Dire Straits master Mark Knopfler provides the score.

Scrooge:I'm talking about the 1970 musical starring Albert Finney in a broad and beautiful--okay hammy--performance. In a crowded field of many fine Christmas Carols, this one stands out for me because I remember seeing it at Radio City with my grandfather when I was a little girl. And the whole day with Pop--from getting to circumvent the line because he knew the management--to watching a movie and a live show with the world-famous Rockettes ( yes, Trudi) in that majestic theatre, is indelibly etched in my memory as one of the sweetest days of my life. But even without that experience, the film, directed by Ronald Neame,boasts much. There are stellar performances by Alec Guinness as Marley's Ghost and Kenneth More as Ghost of Christmas Present. The sets courtesy of Terry Marsh are luscious. And Leslie Bricusse's score, though a tad uneven, offers bright spots including: "Father Christmas," "I Hate People" and the effervescent show-stopper, "Thank You, Very Much."

The Man who Came to Dinner: This 1941 comic classic stars Monty Wooley as an acerbic radio commentator who slips in front of an unsuspecting mid-western family's house, and stays for the holiday season, threatening litigation while he turns the household upside down. Bette Davis in a rare genial part, co-stars as the insufferable brute's love-struck assistant. She falls for the local newspaper editor; he plots to foil the affair. Other wacky characters parade through the busy house. Small star turns by Reginald Gardiner,Jimmy Durante, and the great Mary Wickes. Based on the Kauffman-Hart Broadway hit (which was based on their friend radio commentator/columnist Alexander Woollcott). Directed by William Keighley. An ironic footnote: many years later, during a NYC hotel strike, Bette Davis insinuated herself into a Connecticut family's home for months. That real-life episode is chronicled in Elizabeth Fuller's funny and charming memoir, Me and Jezebel.

Miracle on 34th Street: The Original! And only the 1947 original. It's been remade twice--in 1973 and 1994-- and neither holds a Christams candle to the classic which earned Edmond Gewnn an Oscar as Kris Kringle playing himself in Macy's and going on trial to prove his Santa suit is the real thing. This delightful holiday romp opens on the famed Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade ( and is usually shown on TV on Turkey Day, though it was missed this year) and captures the growing ( in the '40's) materialism of Christmas, faith, love, and child-like wonder. Maureen O'Hara, John Payne and a young Natalie Wood all offer terrific performances in George Seaton's movie the studio thought so little of, it released it during the summer! But, unlike It's A Wonderful Life,which was an initial box office flop--this one scored a miracle--and was re-released for the Holiday season.

There are others, to be sure, including: The Bells of St. Mary, Holiday Inn and recent hits Home Alone and Love Actually. But I'd rather start watching than rattle off more. Bet you didn't know: every time a bag of pop corn is popped, a movie critic earns her wings... or at least a box of Raisinets.

Drive safe. Play nice. Think peace.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sock it to "Say No" Joe Lieberman!

Humor is a great weapon. Here the maestros at Move On take aim at Joe Lieberman.
YouTube - Joe Lieberman as a sock puppet! -
But let's remember he can only continue to hold health REFORM hostage if the Senate and Pres. Obama allow it. I'm starting to think Obama ran for President because he was intimidated by ( or lacked the patience for) the legislative "sausage making." He's stayed so far away from the process... and now what's left is a watered down mess that both the left and right can agree to despise. As for Lieberman: think you better see a doctor about your out-sized ego. Good thing you've got health coverage, Senator.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dean’s Rx for Senate Health Bill: “VOTE NO” | NEWS JUNKIE POST

Feeling frustrated by the so-called Health care "Reform" bill? Read my latest News Junkie Post piece. And maybe, call your Congressional reps. Go Howard, Go! There are lots of other cool & informative articles to check out on the site, too!

Dean’s Rx for Senate Health Bill: “VOTE NO” | NEWS JUNKIE POST

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ebeneezer Stooge

Call this character Ebeneezer STOOGE. Greg Wiseman, the mayor of Arlington, TN, outside of Memphis, must have hit the party egg nog a little early this year. Last week the small town pol found himself in the national spotlight for some nonsense he printed on his Facebook page. Apparently miffed that ABC preempted the "Charlie Brown Christmas" special two weeks ago so it could air Pres. Obama's Afghanistan speech, Mr. Mayor claimed Obama timed the speech with the intent to bump the beloved classic. And, oh, yeah, Wiseman also called Obama a Muslim ( which would be fine if he were, but he's not, so get over it already). At least he didn't bring up that silly birth certificate biz again.

And, for the record, ABC aired the Charlie Brown special last week and another showing airs tonight at 8 PM. Set those DVRS.

For its part, the town of Arlington threw its mayor under the bus and proclaimed on the town's official website that it doesn't agree with his views and ya all come down because Arlington is the friendliest place on earth.

Wiseman offered a lukewarm apology, called it "tongue-and-cheek humor between friends" that went too far. He's sorry, of course, if anyone was offended. But it was just a joke. Not a funny one, but can't hit 'em out of the park every time, I guess, right Mr. Mayor? The comments and the apology earned him two crownings on Keith Olbermann's "Worst Person in the World" list. Must have been a quiet week for Bill O & Beck. Don't bother trolling Facebook, Wiseman quickly deleted his account.

Oh, in case you're wondering, it's pretty clear Mayor Wiseman isn't even remotely related to those famous three Wise Men who factor into the seasonal festivities. Let's face it, this guy's not even smart enough to hang out with Tony Soprano.

Drive safe. Play nice. Think peace.


Join the “Spectacle:” Elvis Costello’s Show Returns to TV | NEWS JUNKIE POST

"Digg" my latest News Junkie Post piece. It's a shortened season for Declan & co... but sounds like a good one... off to a fab start. Don't forget to check out for my articles and essays on politics and pop culture.
Join the “Spectacle:” Elvis Costello’s Show Returns to TV | NEWS JUNKIE POST

Monday, December 7, 2009

Still Imagining Peace: John Lennon's Legacy

We heard the news twenty nine years ago today. And for those of us too young to remember the assassination of JFK, 12/8/80,the night John Lennon was gunned down and murdered in front of his home at the Dakota in New York City was our collective loss of innocence. For kids born in the '60's and '70's the brutal death of a cultural icon was our jolt into an unforgiving decade. A friend broke the news and we spent the night riveted to both TV and, mostly, the radio. This was in the days before before 24/7 cable TV, so we turned to the DJs to offer comfort and context. Already intrigued by Marconi's Box, this episode lured me closer to what would be a rewarding if somewhat tumultuous career in radio.

Coming of age in the era of Ronald Reagan, AIDS and Gordon Gekko's "Greed is good" rally cry, our generation may have been more cynical than the Boomers before us, but we still had the music to sew generation to generation. And for nearly fifty years the Beatles have been a vibrant common thread in that cultural mosaic. The recent success of both their digitally remastered collections and the Beatles: the Band video game is evidence of the band's remarkable influence and staying power.

Dubbed the "smart Beatle," John Lennon's musical and literary sophistication is apparent in a wide spectrum of the group's tunes including "Norwegian Wood," "Strawberry Fields" and "The Ballad of John & Yoko." His solo career--surprisingly substantial considering his self described "house husband" hiatus in the mid-seventies and his tragic death at forty--shows both poetic flourish(the iconic "Imagine") and homage to his early rock roots ("Whatever Gets you Through the Night").

Lennon's bold public persona and wry humor made him something of an acquired taste at first. His infamous 1965 comment about the Beatles being "bigger than Jesus" was misconstrued and led to a brief U.S. radio ban. Lennon never said the Beatles were greater than Jesus; he was making a sarcastic observation about the outrageous hoopla that fueled Beatlemania.But soundbites aren't kind to wit or nuance. Other artists like Sinead O'Connor, Cat Stevens (Yusef Islam) and the Dixie Chicks would share similar backlashes, each with varying rebounds.

The Beatles' popularity, of course, persisted, despite Lennon's growing outspoken political proclivities. Some were offended, others amused and enlightened by John and Yoko's famous Bed-in for Peace. Part early '70's publicity stunt, part traveling demonstration, the events--staged to end the War in Vietnam-- irritated the so-called establishment and earned Lennon a spot on Richard Nixon's enemies list. Nixon and his FBI henchman J. Edgar Hoover were so threatened by John's charisma and sway with the already divisive youth culture, they actively waged a campaign to oust him from the country, using a minor pot bust years earlier in the U.K. as their ammo. You'll find a compelling account of the case and the era in the documentary The U.S. vs John Lennon ,available now on DVD.

The plot for Lennon's deportation was squashed by public outrage with a little help from John's friends in the arts and politics. And he was allowed to remain in the adopted city with which he shared such mutual love. Given his sense of irony, John would probably shrug and sing a few lines of "Instant Karma" had he been privy to his tragic fate on that peaceful New York City street he called home.

John Lennon was a complicated man: a poet with a showman's touch; an idealist with a pragmatic knack. ( pairing the Lennon/Ono classic " War is over with "Happy Christmas" was a brilliant move. The medley became a multi-generational anthem that is played annually on thousands of radio stations worldwide.) He had suffered early tragedy, losing his mother to a car accident when he was seventeen; and as a father he had a tricky relationship with his oldest son Julian( who has said recently the two were repairing their strains at the time of John's death). He was famous for his devotion to Yoko, but he left her briefly for another woman. He had returned in time to rekindle both their passionate romance and his career. The comeback album, Double Fantasy was released just before his death.

Every year around John's birthday in October and now on the anniversary of his death, people speculate about all the work he could have, would have amassed in the all those stolen years. Yoko has said John would have loved the Internet, and would have certainly found interesting uses of the new medium. Julian--who has just emerged from his own nearly two decade self-exile from music --said his father would most certainly have continued to make music. And Lennon may have also continued his passions for painting and writing. His sketches and paintings have fetched high price tags at auctions. And he displays a raw, literary flare in his book, Skywriting by Word of Mouth.

Lennon's legacy for peace, captured in beautiful and profound simplicity: "War is over. If we want it," is as relevant today as it was all those years ago. It's still hard to believe anyone was ever threatened by such a loving and powerful message. Events from Band Aid to Farm Aid and artists from Bono to Springsteen, R.E.M. to the Indigo Girls, Mellencamp to the Dixie Chicks all owe a debt to Lennon's audacity, conscience and spirit.

From his exquisite discography to his indelible influences in music and society, John Lennon will forever shine on. Like the moon and the stars and the sun.

Drive safe. Play nice. Think peace.