"Sexual conduct encouraging an individual to engage in a non-abstinent behavior."
-- The definition of "Gateway Sexual Activity," according to a bill passed by lawmakers in Tennessee last week intended to promote abstinence-only sex ed in schools and to prohibit teachers from promoting actions that could conceivably lead to sex
The more I read about laugh-out-loud shit like this, the more I think that the push for absolute abstinence came along about two generations too late in places like Tennessee.
Monday, April 30, 2012
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Once again, Bob Cesca, Ben Cohen and I are answering your serious questions with unmitigated half-assery over at the Daily Banter.
It's this week's Mail Bag, kids.
The questions: Why does the right seem to hate the environment? How can the Republicans purposely and blatantly screw up the economy, prevent anyone from fixing it in an election year, and yet still win in November? And can Mitt Romney really wash away all the crazy things he said during the GOP Clown Car Primary now that the general election is upon him?
Take a look.
I just found out yesterday that I have another deadline looming very large in my very near future and the project due is a monster, but I swear I'm gonna try my best to get things at least humming a little around here over the next couple of weeks. Sorry for the absence and I mean it when I say that I haven't forgotten you nice kids.
Just for the hell of it on a Saturday morning, here's the new Foster the People single -- Houdini.
Friday, April 27, 2012
Join the After Party
This week: Mad Men Continues to Get Better and Better; HBO and the Evolution of the Modern TV Drama; The Domestic Life of Chez Pazienza; Our Lives Based on The TV Shows We Watched; The A-Team Drinking Game; Meat Stories in the News; Another Heart Attack at the Heart Attack Grill; Eating Meat Causes 14-22 Percent of the Climate Crisis; The President Slow Jams the News; A Scientist Has Found the G-Spot; and much more.
Wednesday Show This Week; The Dumbest Show on Fox News Ever; Campaign Finance Reform; Citizens United; Fox News Liberals; Social Security Isn’t Broke; John Boehner Is A Lying Liar; Student Loans and the Democrats; A Farewell To A Very Good Friend; and much more. Brought to you by Bubble Genius.
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Listen on your smartphone via Stitcher.com
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Really quickly because I'm just about finished with my project and am pretty much gun-to-head eager to get it wrapped.
Turns out the "Miami producer" who got fired by NBC for botching the Trayvon Martin 911 tape was a WTVJ reporter named Jeff Burnside -- that's according to a website that follows South Florida news closely. I did work with Burnside years ago, back when he was actually nothing more than a lowly pawn in the producer ranks; he's a decent enough guy, although I can't say that I've been a big fan of his reporting from what I've seen of it in my time back in Miami over the past few years. It's not that he does a bad job -- he's just a little dull, but in a market like South Florida there's an argument to be made that at least that's better than looking like he's planning to go directly from his live shot to the velvet rope of the Gansevoort at 1:30AM.
Apparently it was Burnside -- remember, a local news reporter -- who made the bad edit that ended up all the way in 30 Rock on the Today show. He and the actual NBC staffer who shepherded the clip to New York without checking it were both shown the door -- and I have to admit with good reason. They both screwed up big time.
Either way, just figured I'd satisfy all those who've written me over the past couple of weeks wondering if I knew who it was out of Miami who got canned over the Trayvon 911 tape debacle.
That internal investigation NBC ran to ensure that something like this doesn't happen again? Its first recommendation better have been: "Don't entrust your biggest, most delicate and potentially most inflammatory stories to some poor doof working in the ass end of the NBC TV-Stations Division."
There's no one in rock and roll more self-indulgent than Blue October's Justin Furstenfeld. Maybe it's the fact that he comes from a region where the country-western ethos dominates music, but there's never a damn thing subtle about his songwriting; he eschews things like allusion and metaphor to just come right out and say that he means. On the one hand, it's occasionally gripping stuff as it gives you a window directly into his psyche -- on the other, it's almost impossible to 100% identify with anything he writes since he's writing it about his own personal experience exclusively.
With all of that in mind, I have to admit that this song had an effect on me -- and for reasons you'll understand almost immediately. Blue October's latest record is all about the crash of Furstenfeld's very troubled marriage, told in vivid detail -- and while I've very much moved on from my own, the songs that deal with his relationship with his young daughter do have a pretty visceral impact and likely will for any man separated by time, distance and circumstance from his child, in particular his daughter.
Here's The Worry List.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Wow. This was a great -- and heavily covered -- song to begin with, but this version just goes right through you and you feel every second of it.
Here's Carrie Manolakos doing Radiohead's Creep, live.
I've probably got about another 36 hours of combined child-watching and project-cramming but then things finally kind of start going back to normal.
Monday, April 23, 2012
If you're friends with me on Facebook, chances are you've already seen most of these. But since I'm indisposed I figured I'd put up a few more pictures of Inara's time in Los Angeles, working around her being sick -- and her having made me pretty sick.
Making the pilgrimage to the Nickelodeon Animation studios in Burbank
Inara and Spongebob
At a voice recording session for Monsters vs. Aliens (Thanks to Bob Schooley and Mark McCorkle)
Dora the Explorer animator and Supervising Producer Jeff DeGrandis draws a picture of Dora and Boots just for Inara
With Lego Spongebob
With Diedrich Bader ("Rex Kwon Do!")
Her Finished Drawing
Welcome to L.A., kid
Stopping to Smell...
Everything these guys do sounds pretty much alike, but it's generally likable stuff.
Here's the latest single from Young the Giant.
This is Apartment.
By the way, I'm completely behind the 8-ball on a project that has to be finished immediately. I'll probably be completely scarce for the next 48 or so hours. Sorry in advance.
Friday, April 20, 2012
Join the After Party
This week: The Sweet Brown “I Got Bronchitis” Remix; The Masturbating Cop; Bad Lip Reading Joe Biden; The Obama Administration Revisits Janet Jackson’s Nipple; Mel Gibson Freaks Out on Tape — Again; 420 History; Bob Beckel Curses on Hannity; Chez’s Daughter is a Little Rascals Character; and much more.
Happy 4/20, everybody!
Yeah, right -- fuck that nonsense. As a friend of mine said on Facebook this morning, if you're above the age of 19 and are excited that it's 4/20, kindly do us all a favor and kill yourself.
With that in mind, my latest piece for the Daily Banter is up and it's specific to this hallowed day in the life of every dipshit stoner you know and wish would just leave you the hell alone (because you likely don't care that he or she came into this really great batch of purple haze and is, like, so mellow right now). Over the past couple of weeks, if you pay attention to the podcast and my only occasionally active Twitter feed, you know that Bob Cesca, myself and a couple of other players have had a minor debate going back and forth over the good, bad and ugly of the pot-praising subculture in this country. Last week, we kind of left it at the fact that I merely wasn't into the whole thing and that it's simply a matter of opinion -- and that's true, to an extent. But I also do have a legitimate beef with those who loudly proclaim the wonder of weed -- and that's what today's piece deals with.
Despite my obvious distaste for stoner culture, I think it's pretty even-handed. Then again, you know what my idea of even-handed is.
Here's the opening shot:
"I’ve never been a big fan of smoking pot. Yeah, I’ve done it a few times, but being that I seem to have lived by the motto 'Go Big or Go Home' when it came to kicking off my storied career in drug use — diving directly into LSD and ecstasy rather than going through the various 'gateways' — I always kind of found pot smoking to be a bit anti-climactic. Great, so you laughed a lot and ate too much shitty food and were often forced to hang out with idiots who spent hours engaging in long-winded discussions that employed a lot of stoner logic. Sounds like a blast. That being said, I don’t begrudge anyone their habits as long as they’re not hurting anyone else in the process, and I accept unequivocally the absurdity of demonizing a plant simply because it happens to make people feel good; the political pressure to keep marijuana illegal amounts to nothing more than the senseless perpetuation of a puritanical blue law. If alcohol is legal I see no reason why pot shouldn’t be as well.
Over the past couple of weeks, though, Bob Cesca and I have had a little debate going on our podcast and radio show about the merits — or lack thereof, in my opinion — of the 'culture' of marijuana..."
Read the Rest at the Daily Banter
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Ted Nugent Is a Ridiculous Asshole; The Stupid General Election Has Begun; Dog Meat Gate and Republican Outrage; Older Americans and Anti-Obama Racism; The Medicare Part-D Donut Hole; Sunday Shows Featuring Republican White Guys; the BP Oil Spill Two Years Later, and much more.
Brought to you by Bubble Genius.
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Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Last week, Newt Gingrich bounced a $500 check to the state of Utah's elections office. Now -- well, there's this:
"While at the (St. Louis) Zoo on Friday -- before his address to the National Rifle Association convention -- (Gingrich) was nipped by a Magellanic penguin, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Monday."
Even penguins hate this guy. I swear, I'm really gonna miss the Republican Clown Car Primary now that it's been narrowed down to just one clown. It's been comedy fucking gold.
My latest piece for the Daily Banter is up -- and it's all about the most recent psychotic nugget to come tumbling out of Allen West's stupid mouth.
Here's the opening:
"Rush Limbaugh is a pompous buffoon — we all know that. When he says something over-the-top, inflammatory and painfully divorced from reality, believe it or not I kind of accept it. I get that there’s an argument to be made that the damage he’s doing through the influence he wields over the Republican party bumper sticker sloganeers and their ostensible leaders makes him a dangerous, dangerous man. But there are plenty of times when I just can’t help thinking, 'Really? This is the asshole we’re all so afraid of — this obese, impotent blowhard? This instantaneous-death heart attack waiting to happen? Fuck this guy.' I think this because while it’s true that his microphone has quite a bit of power, and it’s power that can’t really be voted out of office by a suddenly enlightened electorate, he doesn’t make policy in an official capacity. Again, he indirectly influences policy, but he doesn’t make it himself because in the end he’s just a dumb-shit shock jock.
Rep. Allen West, however, is a different story."
Read the Rest at the Daily Banter
The retired space shuttle Discovery flies on the back on a 747 near the Washington Monument. It was photographed by someone at the DC Huffington Post offices.
I love the fact that it's an Instagram shot. It screams, "The Discovery was okay, but I really liked the earlier Columbia work."
Monday, April 16, 2012
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Friday, April 13, 2012
Time once again for Bob, Ben and myself to answer your serious questions with a lot of half-assery. It's the Daily Banter mailbag.
This week: Should the media apologize? What the hell's wrong with Jon Stewart? And how much will we all miss Rick Santorum?
The Daily Banter Mailbag/4.13.12
Join the Party Here
This week: We fiercely debate the marijuana culture and Chez’s recent Twitter battle over the topic; Pot versus Alcohol; Chez the Contrarian Asshole; The New Girl “True American” Drinking Game; The Purple Panda Scares Little Kids; Toronto Public Health Board Pranked with Fake Names; The greatest local news fire coverage ever; and much more.
I'm not sure what to make of this. On the one hand, it's got the flawlessly lovely voice of the great Tracey Thorn -- on the other hand, it kind of doesn't need to exist, especially since while Thorn is a better singer, she just doesn't have the post-orgasmic vocal fry of young Romy Madley-Croft.
Still, it's worth a listen and a discussion.
Here's Tracy Thorn covering the xx's Night Time.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
In case you were wondering why I was completely absent today -- take a look. Flew to Dallas, picked up Inara and flew back in a mere 15 hours. (Mere. Right.)
This is what happened when she saw the big donut atop Randy's Donuts near LAX just a couple of hours ago.
I'm gonna be a little indisposed for the next couple of weeks, but I'll keep as much content coming as I can.
One Day Early This Week (even though I'm posting it late); George Zimmerman Charged with Second Degree Murder; Hannity and Zimmerman are Pals and Confidantes; Santorum Drops Out; Allen West Goes Full McCarthy; Gawker Has a Spy Inside Fox News Channel; The Spy Might Have been Smoked Out; Low-Effort Thinking Leads to Conservatism; Abstinence Education; Strip Club Observations; and much more. Brought to you by Bubble Genius.
Listen and subscribe for free on iTunes
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Listen on your smartphone via Stitcher.com
My latest piece for the Daily Banter is up. This one deals with CNN's idiotic response to the use of profanity and the word "nigger" by a correspondent, just a couple of week's after its not-at-all-idiotic response.
Here's the opening shot:
"Well, it was good while it lasted.
A couple of weeks ago, CNN correspondent Drew Griffin — who’s an old friend of mine going back to our time together at KCBS in the mid-90s — caused a minor stir by saying the word 'nigger' live on the air during a report he was doing. Aside from that minor stir, though — the instinctive gasping and clutching of pearls by outside media outlets always vigilantly on the lookout for the next non-controversy to create out of thin air — what’s significant is what happened on CNN in the immediate aftermath of the comment.
Nothing. Nothing at all. No sudden gasping for air followed by a harried apology. No public self-flagellation. No immediate scheduling of summit meetings with the NAACP followed by the commission of ten-part series on race relations in America hosted by Soledad O’Brien and Toure. Not a damn thing."
Read the Rest at the Daily Banter
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
"I believe that there's about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party that are members of the communist party."
-- Rep. Allen West (R-Bellevue)
At this point I seriously think this psychotic asshole is just engaging in performance art.
Years ago I had a little file in my computer that I jokingly referred to as Project Prometheus. No, it obviously had nothing to do with the upcoming movie or the viral campaign promoting it -- the file contained a couple of notes I had made on the possibility of getting a job at Fox News, putting in some time there, then turning the inside information I gleaned into a book or a series of articles. For the record, this was long before I lost my job at CNN or even before I started this site, so real-time online reportage was still kind of in its infancy -- which might be why what a current employee of Fox News is doing is so much more visceral and undeniably amusing.
In case you haven't heard yet, Gawker claims to have a mole inside Fox News, a long-time employee of the network who's now decided to play double-agent and relay state secrets to the site by way of columns he or she is writing. Is it juvenile? Certainly. Is it entertaining as hell, especially if you know how insanely paranoid Fox News is when it comes to internal security and the omerta its employees are expected to tacitly take upon being welcomed into the family? Oh yeah. Not to mix metaphors, but make no mistake: Right now Roger Ailes's in-house secret police are setting up metal detectors and an interrogation room, under orders to black-bag anybody they suspect is the spy. This guy's gonna be caught eventually -- count on it. But until he or she is, the details trickling out and the chase -- even if we can't see all of it playing out behind the walls of the Fox News keep in Midtown Manhattan -- are gonna be a blast to watch.
Gawker: Announcing Our Newest Hire: A Current Fox News Channel Employee/4.10.12
Update: Well, that didn't take long. Fox News's fingermen say they've found the mole. Look for the televised in-house execution of the traitor as an object lesson to the rest of the staff to follow.
Update to the Update: Maybe Alies's ton ton macoute knows who the mole is, maybe they don't -- but apparently he hasn't been hauled off to the waterboard room just yet. Could be they're just trying to scare the hell out him hoping he'll slip up and show himself.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
"I should say it wasn't real, for PETA. But screw PETA."
-- The Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence on the scene in her movie Winter's Bone in which she kills and skins a squirrel
First of all, good for her. I would've used the word "fuck" rather than "screw," but the sentiment is there.
Second, I'll give you one guess as to how insufferable PETA Grand Poobah Ingrid Newkirk responded to Lawrence's comment. Needless to say, it was long-winded and painfully condescending, complete with a shot at Lawrence's age and alleged naivete, a quote from Henry David Thoreau and a plea that she may one day know the pain of squirrels everywhere. You know, the usual kind of thing.
The Rolling Stone interview that features Lawrence's quote, by the way, apparently ends with her talking about "buying a house, and a big dog, and a shotgun." Depending on where she moves that "stand your ground" law might finally be good for something -- should Newkirk or anyone from PETA ever decide to pay her an unwanted visit.
Every once in a while I need a little reminder of how and why Miami is the dumbest, most beaver-shit crazy place on earth. Thankfully, the city's Cuban exile community and the local political leaders beholden to it -- the ones not under investigation, under indictment or currently in prison -- always come through for me like gangbusters. Their psychotic reaction anytime someone mentions the name Fidel Castro without including the words "pure evil" in the same sentence is as predictable in South Florida as afternoon thundershowers and cockroaches the size of Volkswagens.
The Huffington Post: Miami Marlins Manager Suspended for Comments About Fidel Castro/4.10.12
As much as I really do love and appreciate my hometown, it's moments like these that I'm glad I'm not there. And that serve as a really sad reminder that almost six years after this piece was first published here, it still holds up rather well.
"High Fidel-ity" (Originally Published 8.3.06)
As I've mentioned from time to time, I come from what is arguably the dumbest place on Earth.
For years, I tried in vain to alert the world outside Miami to the kind of unbridled insanity going on inside Miami. I'm pretty sure that I can say without fear of contradiction that the handful of decent minds who call the city home often feel like the spouse of a seemingly loving but secretly abusive husband: in a perpetual cycle of vicious beatings followed by quiet dinners with the neighbors who would never in a million years believe the truth. "Oh, but he's just so nice. He can't really be a complete sociopath," they'd say to each other later, after they had left the house, gone home, and unknowingly enabled the next beat-down.
No one would believe that Miami regularly behaved as if it were the only Third World country on American soil -- that is until Thanksgiving of 1999, and the arrival of a kid named Elian Gonzalez.
What followed -- although painful in its complete lack of logic or reason -- was what I had waited for my entire life up to that point. The crowds of crazies gathered; the circus started; the world watched. For the first time in my lifetime, television cameras and satellite trucks gave Miami a window to the world, and allowed everyone else to see what I'd known for years: the place is fucking nuts.
At the core of this lunacy, is one man; he's a man who you, like most people, have probably gone your whole life without ever giving a second thought to.
So let me ask you a question: Do you care about Fidel Castro?
I didn't think so.
Unfortunately, Miami cares about little else. In Miami, Castro is a constant, all-consuming presence. He's a demonic force which can never be exorcised. He's a boogeyman who, despite his old age and inability to keep the electricity on in most of his own country, is credited with everything from placing "spies" in top positions of local government, to knocking certain TV and radio stations off the air, to backing-up your toilet. He's a bearded devil who's been elevated to near-mythic status by a vocal group of hair-trigger hot-heads who still call themselves "exiles," despite the fact that their forced migration happened to land them in the wealthiest country on the planet -- one that's never demanded a thing from them and in which they've consistently thrived. I cannot stress in strong enough words the impact that Fidel Castro has on almost every facet of life in Miami.
During Elian, the derangement reached such outlandish levels that it caused some to practice what they called "civil disobedience" -- lying down in front of cars on causeways and backing-up traffic to make their point. City and county leaders also thought it a good idea to create their own foreign policy, refusing to cooperate with federal agents or anyone else who dared think about forcibly removing Elian from the hourly Little Havana dog-and-pony show, sponsored in-part by the City of Miami Chamber of Commerce and Gus Machado Ford.
When bands from Cuba have had the complete lack of common sense to stop in Miami, they've been met with death threats and violent protests from crowds of people who are too fucking dense to realize that by censoring the arts, they're performing a near-perfect impression of the man they hate to the point of madness.
At one point, the simplest way to win a local election in Miami was to go on WQBA -- the cleverly-monikered voice of intolerant conjecture for all of Dade County -- and tell its audience of highly-suggestible zombies that your opponent was, in fact, a communist. Let me say that again so that it can sink in: in an American city, not only would you not be laughed out of town -- but you could win a city councilman's seat, by calling someone a communist. Why Joe McCarthy never retired to Miami is beyond me.
And of course, anytime anyone has dared to suggest an end to the worthless embargo against Castro's Cuba, it's been advisable that he or she be wearing something akin to Kevlar. Never mind the fact that the rationale behind the sanctions was disproven decades ago. Put it another way: If your home were on fire with your family trapped inside, would you pull at a locked door for an hour, or at some point would you attempt to find another way in? Now imagine pulling at that door for 48 fucking years.
I could go on; believe me when I tell you that there are enough examples of this kind of absurdity to fill the Orange Bowl.
Based on all of this, it's no surprise that the news of Fidel's unprecedented ceding of power to his brother turned the streets of Miami into one big block-party. There was screaming and honking of horns. There was Cuban flag-waving. There were people dancing in the streets -- a combination of old folks who romanticize a pre-Castro Cuba, and kids who've simply spent their entire lives having the religion of Castro-as-Lucifer drilled into their heads. I challenge you to name a bigger party for an impending death that didn't also involve the public execution and dragging-through-the-streets of royalty. In Miami, the possibility of Castro's demise reverberates inside the echo-chamber like the trumpets of the gods.
Outside of Miami, though?
Once again, do you care?
With all that's going on in the world -- all of the threats from people who don't play by the normal rules; who don't safely follow the paradigm of an aging tyrant who wants nothing more than to keep himself in power; who are true believers and whose only wish is to be rewarded in the next life -- isn't Castro sort of, well, so 1980s?
As the Fidel deathwatch continues in Miami, and local and national politicians scramble to appease the city's powerful voting bloc by spouting silly, antiquated hardline rhetoric, the rest of the nation goes about its business, ambivalent to the circus in the south, completely unaffected by its craziness.
Couldn't be happier to be a part of that nation.
Adding: Salon is now running a piece that pretty much echoes what I'm saying here, albeit in a much less astringent manner. The salient quote: "If Guillen only loses his job for expressing admiration for Fidel's toughness, it will be a sign of civic progress. Not long ago, he might have lost his legs or his life." The column runs down in detail the Cuban exile community's long history of intolerance, censorship and outright violence directed at those who dare to say or do something it deems as a group is somehow pro-Castro. Is every Cuban-American like this? No, of course not. Is Castro a despicable murderer? Yeah, very much so. But check out the link in the middle of the piece -- the one to the story by Jim Mullin, formerly of the Miami New Times -- and tell me the overall attitude of Miami's hardline anti-Castro crowd has been one of sanity and respect for the law and for differing opinions.
My latest piece for the Daily Banter is up. It deals with NBC's decision to fire a producer in the wake of the George Zimmerman 911 call edit debacle.
Here's the opening:
"It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that somebody at NBC was going to lose a job over the galactic fuck-up that led to a severely edited 911 call from Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman making air. Well, late last week NBC — after undertaking what it called a painstaking internal investigation — canned a Miami-based producer, specifically the producer who edited the call. For those who haven’t been paying close attention, the Today show ran the clip, which featured George Zimmerman seeming to suggest, without prompting, that Trayvon Martin was suspicious because he was black: 'This guy looks like he’s up to no good; he looks black,' Zimmerman said in the recording. The problem is that the dispatcher asked Zimmerman for a description of Martin, leading to his statement that the teenager looked black — only that part inexplicably got cut from the tape. It took all of about ten seconds for the Breitbart empire of non-journalistic shit and pencil-neck twerp Brent Bozell’s Media Research Center to pounce on NBC for what they believed was a willful attempt by the network to inflame racial tension and further besmirch the good name of George Zimmerman."
Read the Rest at the Daily Banter
Monday, April 09, 2012
Sorry about the dearth of material lately, kids, but between moving, a couple of monster projects I have on my desk at the moment and the impending arrival of -- yes! -- Inara, I've been beyond busy.
I promise things really will pick up around here soon. It'll probably just take a little while.
Until then, I promise to keep popping up music and linking to the pieces I'm putting together for Banter, which is essentially the kind of stuff you're used to seeing here anyway.
Sunday, April 08, 2012
He was tough, ruthless both on camera and off, confident and even arrogant in the best possible way, a consummate performer and a man who truly lived up to his status as a titan in the news business. But most of all, he was fair. Always.
I'm not sure there will ever be another one like Mike Wallace.
And that's unfortunate.
CBS News: 60 Minutes Icon Mike Wallace Dead at 93/4.8.12