Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Here's to another amusing collision of pop culture and politics in 2012.

RG wishes you a happy, healthy New Year!

And, hey, let's be careful out there. None of that drinking and driving business.

Drive(especially) safe. Play nice. Think peace.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Channel Cruiser: The 2011 Wrap-Up Rant

I've been betrayed by cable TV. We all have. Back in the early days--before most of us were old enough to appreciate what we'd soon be missing----the new medium promised so much. Niche broadcasting at its best: the arts, documentaries, bold programming offered day and night without regard to ratings. But Alas, nothing lasts forever. And that's the best way to sum up where we are today, bitterly flicking through every one of Bruce Springsteen's 57 channels, finding nothing on. Except drivel: reality and sensational crime and political hectoring.

Okay, I exaggerate. There's more than a smattering of quality shows--dramas and documentaries, quirky comedies that couldn't survive elsewhere, too. But most of them are on the premium channels like HBO ( "Boardwalk Empire" "Treme" ) Showtime ( "Nurse Jackie," "Homeland") and more recently Starz ( "Boss"). But AMC has the Emmy Award winning "Mad Men," and TNT has forayed into dramas. But I'm miffed at the basic cable stalwart for pulling the plug unceremoniously on "Men of a Certain Age," right after the special dramedy picked up a Peabody and left us hanging at the end of the second season. TNT added bitter lemon oil on my ire when it also ditched the quirky detective drama "Memphis Beat. "

I was, in fact, feeling a little like a TV jinx. But I tossed off my scarlet TVJ when HBO spared the critically acclaimed but low-rated "Enlightened." This genre-busting gem takes on corporate greed, self-help and human relationships--inside the office and out-- with such fresh and timely humor and unexpected compassion. The show has already nabbed Golden Globe nominations as Best Comedy and for Laura Dern as Best Actress. I hope Dern and co-creator Mike White ( who also does a nice supporting turn as office mate Tyler) get the recognition they deserve. Awards help. Just ask Matthew Weiner.

Speaking of the "Mad Men" maestro, junkies, still fuming from the bad Blakenship karma will finally get their fix of the oft-decorated, still low-rated drama when it finally returns to the small screen in March.

Other highlights of 2012 will likely include:

"Luck, " HBO's latest drama about the continually changing fortunes at a race track. From Michael Mann and David Milch, the show's pilot already displays the network's golden touch. A star-studded cast featuring Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte and Dennis Farina will surely help propel this timely discourse on the vagaries of luck.

"Magic City," is Starz latest drama about the early days Miami. If "Boss" set the standard, this one could take the network to a new level.

HBO also ushers in the third season of "Treme," rolls out the film version of the political bestseller "Game Change" about the 2008 presidential election; you know the one with Julianne Moore playing Sarah Palin. Saw the preview and yes, kids, she's got the look and voice down.

And Julia Louis Dreyfus stars in "Veep" a new HBO show about the first woman Vice President. Let's hope she's not doing a Palin impersonation.

I also look forward to more music shows, most found on PBS. 2011 highlights included "Paul Simon at Webster Hall" and "Buddy Holly: Listen To Me." Grand shows for music fans; would be even grander to watch without the pledge breaks ( but the programming doesn't pay for itself).

On broadcast TV: Both "The Good Wife" and "Harry's Law" keep getting better, while both "Pan Am" and "Revenge" flamed out too soon. I'm also just ( year two or three?) getting into "Parenthood" and find both the writing and acting among the best and most authentic.

On a personal note: I'm toying with the idea of reviewing in the voice of Pauline the Bargain Shopper, a long lost radio character who somehow found her way into my play "Psychic Chicken Soup," as the main character's sister. Pauline (not to be confused with Pauline Kael, who's probably doing cartwheels in her grave about now)is blunt, boisterous and can always spot a bargain and convince you to buy it even if it doesn't fit.

I'll try it on for size. If it doesn't work out, I can always shove her in the back of the closet among all the other non-returnable clunkers.

Drive safe. Play nice. Think peace.

And pass the remote


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Secular Season's Greetings

Remember a few years ago when Bill O’Reilly got his festive knickers in a twist because our big, bad secular society had waged a war against Christmas? Bill O and the Fox brigade were miffed because many retailers had ditched the “Merry Christmas” salutation in favor of the more inclusive “Happy Holidays.” It seemed to me that practice had been going on for years, but apparently it was slow news cycle and the story took off like a tardy Santa making his rounds with the B-team reindeer in the middle of a blizzard. Now conservative religious groups actually rate stores based on their “Christmas friendly” quotient.

Anyway, while the embers of that Merry debate may continue to burn, it’s a little 2008. The latest warrior– Sarah Palin– chimed in with her chorus of “Jingo All the Way,” whinin’ on Fox News about the lack of “foundational American values” displayed in the Obamas Holiday card. The facts that most presidents have adorned their cards with secular pictures of the White House while the White House itself is always filled with several Christmas trees seem to have eluded the former half term Governor/VP candidate turned Facebook celebrity.

I’m not an atheist, but I have compassion for true non-believers deluged with religious messages and the not so subtle merry mandate ( which takes its toll on the morose and clinically depressed, too). Everywhere they turn they are bombarded with seasonal symbols and songs. And they have none of their own.

Until now. Maybe this Steve Martin song will cheer on our abandoned Atheist brethren. It’s witty and catchy enough to become an instant classic.

So I offer Secular Season’s Greetings to one and all. While our beliefs will, no doubt, continue to diverge, there is one thing all Atheists and believers can agree on: fruitcakes are to be used sparingly and only for strictly nostalgic and decorative purposes.

Happy Nothing. Merry Everything.

Drive safe. Play nice. Think peace.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wasilla Holidaze

Bah, Humbug! She's back. That half-term quitter chick from Alaska. Nope, Sarah Palin's not tossing her Moose hunting hat into the Presidential race. But she's tweetin' and facebookin.' And--when her gut gives her the go-ahead--she may even do a little endorsin.' And she's got a whole lot to say about the lack of "foundational American values" the Obamas put in their Holiday card.

But the really big news: Sarahcuda's pitching another season of her Reality TV show.

Oh, is Santa slipping another big lump of coal in John McCain's stocking this year? You betcha!!

Oh, and don't be afraid to hurl a little fruitcake in the right direction.

Drive safe. Play merry. Think peace.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Jolly Follies: The 2011 GOP Edition

'Tis the season to revel and rejoice.
But if you're a red meat Republican you have little choice.
And you like it that way.
Ah, but for true blue Liberals, it's a new jingle every day.

Much can be said of Newt Gingrich.
His posture and pitch,
all ego and bombast.
We only hope his surging in the polls will last.

But should Romney rebound, have no no fear.
Mitt flips and flops like Grandma before she got run over by that infamous reindeer.

And Bachmann, too, continues to deliver.
Enough Malaprops and mistakes to make us quiver.
Her stand against gay marriage she makes such an ado
And always walks off with a face full of marshmallow goo.

'Live and let die!'
That's Ron Paul's cry.
He was Dickens model for Ebeneezer
Go ahead: take a close look: Neither man's eyebrows ever met a tweezer.

He can't name the Justices on the Supreme Court
And one or two he's willing to abort.
But filled with gay bashing and verbal blunders Rick Perry
remains oh, so misguided and merry.

Herman Cain's campaign may be on hold
But he's bound to hit the trail again once Gloria's scolds get old.

Hunstman may be smart,
but he'll never get the part.

Santorum's high school nickname was Rooster.
From Palin he hopes a campaign booster.
Still his numbers and attitude hover in a marginal fog.
He better spike that egg nog.

The Donald canceled his debate.
That's because everyone but Newt said the invitation came too late.
Both guys' heads are too big and their waistlines could be leaner.
Still, Hollywood's working on the movie: 'Mean & Meaner.'

With a lump of coal in every Republican's stocking,
it's almost no fun mocking.
Every day, every week, brings more zingers
for loyal fright wingers.

If that doesn't get on your Christmas cringe.
Then, my friend, you're not a real Republican, not even a twinge.

So there's hope for you yet.
And if I were as rich as a Romney I'd wager a bet.

Santa's a socialist and God's a Democrat,
Take a look at the GOP field and roll out Obama's second term Welcome mat.

Merry everything to all.
And to all a good fight.

Drive safe. Play nice. Think peace.


Friday, December 9, 2011

You're A Mean One, Newt Gingrich

Season’s Bleedings from Newt Gingrich and the Fright Wing Repubs.I doubt Dr. Seuss could conjure a villain as mean-spirited as Mr. Gingrich. While the Grinch’s heart swells to let in transformative love, the Gingrich’s head swells to accommodate grandiose delusions, historical re-writes and plots to reform America’s impoverished youth.

Dickens had Newt's number. It's like he fell out of Oliver Twist, and he can't get back in.

Drive safe. Play nice. Think peace.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Lennon's Wisdom Still Shines On

"Society is run by maniacs for maniacal ends." John Lennon.

John Lennon, gunned down on December 8, 1980, is still a prophet. War is over if we want it. Sadly, the world is still not ready to embrace that simple, but profound concept. But for those who imagine peace, John Lennon's legacy will shine on. And on.

Drive safe. Play nice. Think peace.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hall of Fame Rolls in New Rockers

It took a few tries, but the late legendary singer-songwriter Laura Nyro finally got her ticket punched to the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame today. Others who will receive the high honor on April 14 at the hallowed Hall in Cleveland:


Beastie Boys

Guns N’ Roses

Red Hot Chili Peppers

The Small Faces/The Faces

The Ahmet Ertegun (non performer) Award goes to producer/rock impresario Don Kirshner; Freddie King gets the Early Influence Award; Cosimo Matassa, Tom Dowd and Glyn Johns will receive Awards for Musical Excellence.

The Moody Blues, America, Hall & Oates will have to wait until next year. Again! HBO will air the festivities in early May.

Drive safe. Play nice. Think peace.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Mitt Has Two Faces

Mitt Romney: "He invented Obamacare before he was against it." - Jay Leno

As Mitt flips, the Romney campaign flops.

Everything old is Newt again? Bring it, Gingrich. Obama and the Dems need all the help we can get!

Drive safe. Play nice. Think peace.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday: Getting Malled or Mauled?

Okay, so Steely Dan wasn't talking about shopping. The video--now four years old-- speaks to our ongoing plight. Things haven't changed for most people. At best, the economy remains stagnant; at worst, it's perilous. For those who've been teetering on the precipice, times just keep getting harder. Oh, but the banksters on Wall Street seem to be doing just fine, all Bonus Babies once again. Hard to fathom for average investors, who open our statements and see nothing but less and less.

It's enough to make you want to stand up and 'Occupy' something. Other than the mall. Either way, we're all getting mauled.

Drive safe. Play nice. Think peace.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gobbling Up GOP Debaters

As I count my many blessings this season, I must include the GOP's field of dream presidential pretenders. Most true blue libs and comedians are thankful for a bounty of debates that has already yielded a cornucopia of flubs, brain freezes and meltdowns. The more these luminaries talk, the better Obama looks.

Let's hope the elephants talk themselves right out of the room. Not to mention the Congress. And the White House.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Drive safe. play nice. Think peace.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Oops... They Did it Again!

Sure Rick Perry flamed out. Again. He seems to suffer a meltdown midway through every debate. Guess that's when his meds start to wear off; you know sort of like Paula Abdul's classic "American Idol" druggy fade-outs. A good omen for his presidency. He'd need more naps than Regan. But it ain't gonna happen.

Oh, wait, that's a variation on Herman Cain's latest line. Given his alleged sexual misconduct, the Cain Wreck piled on his rep as at best an insensitive lout ( at worst a serious sexual predator) when he brandished Nancy Pelosi with the sexist moniker "Princess Nancy"

These guys never learn. And it probably won't matter. Like him or not, the Repubs seemed poised to hold their noses and vote for Romney.

So us true blue libs can stopping laughing now. With all his flip-flops, Mitt seems to be the guy who will give Obama the biggest run for his money. And we all know, the former gov with the game show host hair and cozy relationship to the corporate greed machine, has plenty of that.

Drive safe. Play nice. Think peace.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Your Brain On of Koch-Cain

"Stupid people are ruining America." -Herman Cain

Herman Cain's ability to nutshell America's cultural quagmire with catchy one-liners that belittle the less fortunate and baffle honest commentators, has made him the GOP's flavor of the month. That there really is no "there there" is hardly a liability when it comes to campaigning for the nomination from a party that prides itself on a lack of intellectual heft. So what if the pizza mogul turned motivational speaker can turn what seems like a two for one pizza slogan into a vague economic plan that even its creator can't easily articulate?

Cain is just as shaky on social issues. Take abortion. He's flat out against it. Thinks "life begins at conception." Yet, if a woman is raped and chooses to have an abortion,"That's her choice." In the same Fox News interview he gets testy when John Stossel ( not exactly a purveyor of liberal gotcha journalism) calls him on the inconsistency.

Some Republicans and Indies fancy Cain's straight talk, though like Perry, the flubs are bound to catch up to him. Others think he's the right guy because while he babbles conservative drivel, he's also an outsider. Well, if you call a record as a DC lobbyist and palling around with corrupt corporate power brokers like the Koch brothers being an outsider.

None of this matters, of course, unless the Repubs take him seriously enough to give him the nod. Such a long shot would be delicious. Watching Obama eat him up on the first question of the first debate will be the Must See TV event of 2012. Listening to Rush Limbaugh's head explode at the mere thought of two black men vying for the top spot would be icing on that unlikely political cake.

In the meantime, Cain is buying his own books with campaign money and then re-selling them. Out Palining the half term quitter chick from Alaska. And if all else fails, he's got the Godfather Pizza empire to fall back on.
I'll make a deal with you, Herman. You can score that coveted Fox News gig; I won't watch, of course. But I'll take you up on that two pizzas for $9.99.

That's an offer we can't refuse.

Drive safe. Play nice. Think peace.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Rock of Ages

"How terribly strange to be seventy."

Paul Simon penned this beautiful homage to enduring friendship in his twenties; back then turning seventy surely must have seemed as strange as an exotic, distant destination. But on October 13 the iconic singer-songwriter crosses over into that strange land. His "partner in arguments," Art Garfunkel will follow next month.

There was a time, early in Rock's hallowed history, when both the artists and genre were still so young, that many vowed to call it quits by thirty. Rock 'n' Roll, after all, was--and theoretically still is--a rebel art. But everyone, musicians and fans, grew older and many artists continued to toil in their chosen craft. Just like writers, filmmakers, visual artists.

Who says the best work is created by youth? It's true many rockers have burned out or faded away. Some still cling to the glory days, playing the golden hits at oldies shows. But there are a cadre of true artists who continue to create work that rivals their early output. Van Morrison, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen continue to make formidable stabs. But I think Paul Simon resides at the top if the list.

Think about this: Simon's first masterpiece the "Bridge Over Troubled Water" album came out in 1970 when he was twenty-nine. "Graceland, " considered by many his true masterpiece in 1986 when he was forty-five, already past his prime by Rock star standards. And his latest, "So Beautiful or So What," easily stands side by side with those earlier compilations. And let's not forget there's an amazing discography sandwiched in between the milestones.

Paul said in an interview a few year ago that he was surprised he could still work within a young guy's medium. I don't think his fans are surprised. Grateful. Delighted. But not surprised.

Happy Birthday, old friend.

Drive safe. Play nice. Think peace.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Social Insecurity

Go ahead, live your life like you're a cartoon character. Hey, it works for the Road Runner and that Cwazy Wabbit! Not to mention Elmer Fudd, who moonlights as Glenn Beck.

Oh, by the way, if you're looking for a job, I just heard: the Acme Dynamite Company is hiring. They're always hiring. Big turnover.

Drive reckless. Play mean. Think war.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Michele Bachmann Overdrive... Already?

Crazy is as crazy does. Come on, Tea Party people whip up support and get the wackadoodle congresswoman on the top of the GOP ticket. You can do it. God will guide you. Good thing, too, as there will be no safety nets. None. Nada. Zip. Unless you're part of the corporate-government welfare class. Like your hero, Michele and the whole Bachmnann parasite clan.

Drive safe. Play nice. Think peace.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Serious Suburban Discomfort

That's one cool trailer for a sizzling collection filled with thirteen murderous stories. Honored and proud to have my tasty tale, "Dangerous Appetites" about deadly suburban discomfort among them. Download your copy of "Fiction Noir" today. Coming soon in paperback, too! Thanks, Hen House Press.

Drive safe. Play nice. Think peace.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Hello, Goodbye

Remember the old promo line: "I want my MTV?"

For those who were around for the launch of Music Television 30 years ago, what's on that network these days doesn't resemble what was daring and revolutionary back then.

While the classic MTV had a nice run, it's been over a decade since the network has devolved into yet another bastion of the cheapest, crassest form of television : Reality TV. I asked a MTV exec a few years ago why most of the music videos had been expunged, replaced by shows about manufactured roommates, teen mothers and hard drinkers. His response was as expected as it was short-sighted. "That's what gets us the ratings. And it's cheaper."

And so it goes on many of the channels that sparked to life in the early days of cable expansion, each promising innovative and distinctive programming.

Of course the music, whether you find it on MTV, VH1, YouTube or --dare I mention my old favorite haunt-- the radio will never die. And cannot be killed off by the executives who run television networks with all the vision of Mr. Magoo in the slow lane.

Last week was a tough one for music fans as we said goodbye to Amy Winehouse, whose death was tragic though not shocking, as well as America co-founder Dan Peek and folk icon Bill Morrissey, who both died, apparently in their sleep, of unknown causes. Fortunately, their music lives on. Read more about these artists in my NJP tribute piece.
The Sad Ballad of Goodbye: Remembering Amy Winehouse, Dan Peek, Bill Morrissey | NEWS JUNKIE POST

Drive safe. Play nice. think peace.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Please Standy By

Apologies to RG fans: our current site is experiencing technical difficulties. While the kinks are worked out, we may post here on the original Radio Graffiti site.

Your patience is appreciated. Stay true blue cool, kids!

Drive safe. Play nice. Think peace.