Friday, April 27, 2007

Greats and Grates

The biggest champion for the motion picture industry has passed…
Jack Valenti was 85.

He’s the guy that came up with the alpha rating system for movies.
Contemporaries are rating him “G” for greatness.

Here’s another Great that has just passed within the last few hours…a name you may or may not recognize:
Mstislav Rostropovich, and I will quote from the posting on Yahoo, verbatim:

“...the ebullient master cellist who courageously fought for the rights of Soviet-era dissidents and later triumphantly played Bach suites below the crumbling Berlin Wall..."
He was 80.

Sometimes you can be too close to a problem to fully appreciate all of its nuances. I am going to tell a story on my Producer, Buddy Cantu, as an example of what I am talking about—not to embarrass him. We came into the studio this morning to find one of our studio computers being stubborn.

It wouldn’t reboot, apparently.

Buddy fiddled with it for some time, growing more and more frustrated.
Finally he signaled to me he was having trouble.
Said the screen had gone dark after rebooting.

First thing I checked—because this has happened to me countless times as well—was the connecting cable on the back of the monitor.
As soon as we made sure it was firmly attached, the screen came to life.

Last night the Congress of the United States passed a bill that would require US Troops to be out of Iraq by October, in return for approving finding to pay their salaries, buy them food and bullets, and generally provide funding for what they do.
Not too different from blackmail, just on a grander scale.

The President has vowed to veto the bill because he believes, and I agree with him, that announcing we’re leaving simply gives a little breathing room for the insurgents, terrorists, thugs and all the rest of the rabble causing trouble in Iraq.

Can't you just hear them:
“The Infidels are out by October?
Wonderful, Shamir!
Won't you please pass me some goat cheese and a date, and let’s watch re-runs of “I Dream of Jeannie” until then.

"We’ve won.
We just wait for the extraction of the dogs.”

For some reason, most of the Congress are too close to the problem, metaphorically speaking, since they’re 2,000 miles away, to fully appreciate the gravity of the matter.

From Australia, the picture is crystal clear. Prime Minister John Howard says, "I think it is wrong, and I don't think it is doing anything other than giving great comfort and encouragement to Al-Qaeda and the insurgency in Iraq."

"If there is a perception of an America defeat in Iraq, that will leave the whole of the Middle East in great turmoil and will be an enormous victory for terrorism."

For the record, the War in Iraq has run longer than the Second World War, and has claimed over 3,300 lives of servicemen and women.
By comparison…292,000 US soldiers gave their lives in WW2.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Legislation Running Amuck

The Federal Communications Commission is being asked to consider a law banning violence on TV during hours in which children could be watching.
What…have parents forgotten how to change the channel?
Better…have parents forgotten how to parent?
Don’t substitute your influence for tube-time.

Don’t leave it up to TV to entertain or mould the minds of your kids…and don’t ask the Federal Government to intervene in a process that too many parents have abandoned and left up to network programmers to fill.
Think about it--who really is raising your kids?

Maybe they should also ban video clips of sitting presidents playing bongos…

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Language Arts 101

No one has a finer command of language than the person who keeps his mouth shut.
--Sam Rayburn

Some very interesting comments from NewsCorp’s Rupert Murdoch at the Milken Institute’s Global Conference yesterday…calling it shameful that the American public has a better grip on the mythical pro’s and con’s of global warming theory than the far more deadly threat of militant Islamists…and the political climate in which solutions for both issues could be achieved is absolutely toxic.

Murdoch says it’s a tragedy that the US is not more united on the war on terror… Guess he missed the memo from the Congress and the UK Parliament that WOT is no longer PC.

Speaking of PC—the godfather of rap says shut yo’ mouth with a voluntary ban on the three most racially-incendiary words in the hip-hop lexicon.

Joining George Carlin’s infamous list of seven words you can’t say on the radio, Russell Simmons says the B-word, N-word, and H-word as denigrating pronouns are “inconsistent with any sense of social responsibility by rap artists or their record companies.”

"The words 'bitch' and 'ho' are utterly derogatory and disrespectful of the painful, hurtful, misogyny that, in particular, African American women have experienced in the United States,” wrote Simmons this week.

“The word 'nigger' [and its derivative, 'niggah'] is a racially derogatory term that disrespects the pain, suffering, history of racial oppression and multiple forms of racism against African Americans and other people of color," according to a statement released by Simmons through his Hip Hop Summit Action Network.

Okay, fine, if they can make this stick.
The problem goes deeper than vocabulary, and unless attitudes and cultural values are adjusted accordingly, H-words, N-words, and B-words will just be replaced with x-words, y-words, and z-words: newer, hipper euphemisms that belie the true feelings of those that use them, regardless of context.

The height of hypocrisy is record companies’ SOP of producing two versions of rap songs - an unexpurgated version for CDs, often with a warning attached, and a "clean" version for the airwaves in which the lyrics have either been changed, erased or bleeped out.

The change has to come from both ends of the consumer pipeline.
If you’re really serious about flushing this crap from the rap toilet, don’t produce it, period. And if you, as a consumer, are really serious about sending a message to the purveyors of this garbage, don't buy it.

This is not about censorship, by the way.
It’s about how we as a people want to grow and cultivate the fabric of our society.

In a society that wishes to be characterized by the deeds of its people, and not the color of our skin, words and terms that exist and that are used solely for the purpose of demeaning and denigrating specific groups--or promoting practices and themes that serve no positive purpose--should be washed from the mouths of the public with a toothbrush and a bar of soap.

By the way—you want to get back to the roots of Freedom and its meaning, take a review of the stirring film, “Amistad,” with Anthony Hopkins as John Quincy Adams.

His brilliantly-played soliloquy before the Supreme Court of 1839 is as stirring a recitation of what Freedom for all people is about as you will ever see. The scene shows the positive power of language, in stark contrast to the hopeless, hateful terminology that has evolved from the rap world.

It is our contemporary rap-tinged language, ironically, that seems now to consume and enslave the very culture that has cried for freedom since the first profiteers sailed from the shameful shores of Sierra Leone over two centuries ago.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


My only son, in whom I am well-pleased, is living his dream job.
Well, almost.

He's a Radio reporter for one of the Sports-talk AM's in Houston, and a video producer for the weekend sports casts on the NBC-TV affiliate here.
He gets paid for going to games.
He gets access to the players and coaches most people only dream of getting to talk to.
He's seen Hakeem in his skivvies.

So my firstborn gets just a little excited this time of year, especially when the NBA Playoffs are underway.
Last night, The Houston Rockets notched Win #2 against the Utah Jazz, 98-90, in their playoff series.
He was on Cloud Nine.
He got to go to the game.
A paid-gig.
You know what those tickets are selling for??

Attended the post-game glory-fest, too, and was so excited, he couldn't resist sending his proud Papa a picture of Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady.
To my cell phone.
Which I received at 3:35a this morning.

Fortunately, I was awake...barely.

And cogent enough to respond to his cell phone with this lovely image of a reminder of what time it was.
I hope his phone wasn't on vibrate.

Go Rockets!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Birds and Bees, Men and Women

What an odd weekend…Earth Day celebrations abounded…
Cheryl Crow suggested that we can all stave off global warming by reducing our toilet tissue usage to one square per sitting.

What’s she going to do with that idea—wipe out global warming?

That's right up there with the strange shortage of honeybees being attributed to cell phones…and the British believe the explosion of WiFi useage could result in health hazards.

A study in Finland recently found that people who have used mobiles for more than ten years are 40 per cent more likely to get a brain tumor on the same side of the head as they hold their handset.
The Swedes have research suggesting the risk is almost four times as great, that the radiation kills off brain cells, which could lead to today's younger generation going senile in their forties and fifties.

Professor Lawrie Challis, who heads the UK’s official mobile safety research, this year said that the mobile phone could turn out to be "the cigarette of the 21st century".

Then there was the study conducted by UCLA's Department of Psychiatry which revealed that the kind of face a woman finds attractive on a man can differ depending on where she is in her menstrual cycle.

For example: If she is ovulating, she is attracted to men with rugged and masculine features. However, if she is menstruating, or menopausal, she tends to be more attracted to a man with duct tape over his mouth and a spear lodged in his chest while he is on fire.
No further studies are expected; any questions?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Adios, Seniorita Ramirez

Kristina Ramirez is leaving us today.
She will be missed.

Kristina came to The BizRadio Network fresh out of college. Sometimes, she’d even come into the control room still wet behind the ears.

I think she is representative of a new crop of media professionals: smart, savvy, unafraid of taking new risks, and willing to move on to explore new frontiers. Did I mention we’re going to miss her?

The first day Kristina came to work, she sat down behind the microphone, fired up her computer, looked at me and asked, “what do I do.”

I gazed over at her from over my own computer monitor, looked at the clock, and then back at Kristina, and said, “well, whatever you do, you’ve got about eight-minutes.”
The look on her face was priceless.

Kristina’s been a great sport around here.
Most days, she’s the most-popular girl in the room. She’s generally the only girl in the room, but so what? Growing up with a houseful of nothing but brothers probably prepared her best for this environment.

So an era is ending here at the Network. Kristina has been great to work with because she was able to make it up as we went along, adding bits here and there, always adjusting, always learning…always willing to do whatever it takes. That’s the mark of a good company.

Our loss is the next business’ gain. We wish her well …and she will be missed.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Two-bit Haircuts

Sen. John Edwards reportedly spends $400 for haircuts at the chic Beverly Hills men's stylist, Torrenueva Hair Designs.
The presidential race just took a fashionable turn off-track. Can the American public withstand 18-months of snipping and picking and compairing candidate's coifs?

So Edwards has a $400 hair cut.
In three week's it's going to need cutting again.
Guess he has more money for haircare than common sense. Maybe instead of running for president, he could just be a procurement officer for the military…

We took a poll in the studios this morning.
Buddy Cantu pays $12 for a hair cut, as does Jimmy the K.

Justin the Sith is the big spender, shelling out $13 for his spikey-do, including tip. He says the less he bleeds, the bigger the tip.

My unique coif is maintained by my bride of 28-years. I get it cut every third week, whether it needs it or not, to keep from lowering my average mpg.

In Memorium: 4-16-07

It seems a little repugnant to be consumed with worry and fretfulness over the quarterly performance of some public company, when 33 families are mourning the loss of loved ones on the campus of Virginia Tech University.

By now you know yesterday’s horrific story of a 19-year old Asian male who shot and killed two students in a dorm room, and then two hours later opened fire inside an engineering classroom building, slaughtering another 30 students and teachers before turning his weapon on himself. All before lunchtime.

The hardest question in the world to answer is, “why?” The next-hardest question is, “what if?” which is the miserable torture shared by all survivors, university officials and law enforcement.

Believing the initial double-homicide to be an isolated incident, university officials warned students only with an e-mail, which proved to be a miscalculation on a colossal, tragic scale.

The freedoms in our lives have already be constricted by the nefarious escapades of fanatics who fly airplanes into building, deranged patriots who detonate rented trucks in front of government offices, and sadly, mis-guided youth who have lost all their moral moorings, and believe their torture can only be relieved by going out in blazing gore, taking shots from clock towers and inside school libraries, cafeterias and classrooms.

As a result, we must submit ourselves to dehumanizing scrutiny while boarding aircraft, pack our children’s things into transparent back packs, and look over our shoulders each time we enter a government building. How ironic that in order to access the fruits of liberty and justice we must run a gauntlet of lock-down security and x-ray scanners.

I don’t know what the answer is any more than you do.
Perhaps today is not the day for seeking those answers, but instead a day in which flags should be flown at half mast in honor of 32 victims, and the horrible memory of one deranged madman, and prayers offered on behalf of their families…who will never truly find closure to the why’s and what-if’s that gnaw at us all.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Taxes, Axes, and Abraxes

Tomorrow is Tax Day 2007. Your income tax return, or an extension thereof, has to be postmarked by midnight tomorrow night.

We got a break this year because April 15th fell on a Sunday...and Monday is the Washington, D.C. observation of Emmancipation Day.
Curious, with all the Black vs White tension present lately, that the entire nation wouldn't observe such a momentous anniversary.
Might be good for the national psyche.

Our good friend, Dr. Marty Groeth, passed along a couple of chiastic sayings about the government agency everyone loves to hate:

"A fine is a tax for doing bad; a tax is a fine for doing good..." and,
"They’ve got what it takes to take what you’ve got."

The next movie from Michael Moore will be called “Sicko.”
No, it’s not his autobiography.
The film is a visual record of a trip Moore made to Cuba for healthcare for first-responders to the Twin Towers collapses, who are now suffering from various diseases triggered by working the collapse site.

Moore’s aim is to embarrass President George Bush by showing Communist leader Fidel Castro’s social healthcare system is superior to the US.
The film truly is sick-o.

WalMart is back on top of the Forbes list of Top 500 Companies, edging out Exxon-Mobil and General Motors, which are ranked 2nd and 3rd. WalMart racked up $350 billion in sales and $11 billion in profits last year.

No Congressional investigation??

Friday, April 13, 2007


Money talks, suckers walk, and in the case of Don Imus, the sponsors have spoken.

In the toxic aftermath of the shock jock’s ill-spoken commentary on the athletic attributes of the Rutgers Women’s Basketball squad, it wasn’t Al Sharpton’s usurpation of Les Moonves’ role as head of CBS Radio, nor the cancellation of his TV simulcast by MSNBC that was the undoing of knotty-headed host.

It was the defection of sponsors like Staples and Bigelow Tea, and the ad dollars they control, that proved fatal to Imus’ career with CBS.
This time.

He’ll be back.
Smart money is on a re-emergence on satellite radio, according to Media Columnist Jon Friedman. How poetic it would be to see Imus opposite arch-nemesis Howard Stern on the pay-per-epithet channels.

Ironically, MSNBC ran an on-line poll about the Network and CBS being minus Imus; 51% agreed with the suspension, but that canning the comedian went too far. 22% didn’t think the incident was that big a deal to begin with.

There's other money betting on Imus. is reportedly doing a land-office business selling items emblazoned with this month's three most-inflammatory words. Bet the guy who thought these up is laughing all the way to the bank.
"Thanks, Don; I owe you."

So Don Imus enters the halls of celebrity infamy in the company of foot-in-mouth stars like the NBA’s Tim Hardaway and his “I hate gays” statement ( I notice he’s still employed), Shaquille O’Neal’s anti-Asian mocking of Yao Ming, "Tell Yao Ming, 'ching-chong-yang-wah-ah-soh,” (Shaq’s still employed, too); New York Sen. Hillary Clinton’s ill-conceived attempt at humor in saying Mahatma Ghandi "used to operate a gas station," and Jesse Jackson’s unforgettable reference to New York as “Haime Town.”

Even The Pope got in on the action last year, quoting a text that some interpretted as derrogatory to Muslims. An Italian nun was murdered in the fallout of that one.
Yep, The Pope is still The Pope.
That infallibility clause in his contract, I suspect.

One of my favorite pundits, Michelle Malkin, accurately observed that we’re turning in to a “Turret’s Nation,”(which I am surprised has not elicited outrage from their lobbyists.)

I think we just need to acknowledge the phenomenon and put a label on it.
“Imusism” comes to mind.
Sounds like Onanism, ironically (look it up), which in this case is probably accurate. After all the jacking around over this saga, we’re left with a waste of talent and a feeling of unfulfillment. No one wins.
Everybody loses.
The ultimate Imusism.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Imus n' Andy

New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth.
The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become.
--Kurt Vonnegut
Novelist and American Icon Kurt Vonnegut has passed at 86 from complications sustained in a fall a few weeks ago.

One of the last great writers to survive WW-2, he was captured in The Battle of the Bulge, and was a POW in Dresden during Allied bombings of that city. The title of his book, “Slaughterhouse-5,” referred to Vonnegut and four fellow prisoner’s who survived the Dresden bombings in an underground meatlocker.

Vonnegut adopted his sisters three kids when she died…which was a clue to the enormity of his heart…and hints of his compassion and understanding of the human condition might be heard in these words:

"Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion.
I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward. "

Vonnegut will most likely be best remembered for his quirky sense of humor. He once suggested carving these words into a wall of the Grand Canyon as a message for intergalactic travelers in flying saucers: "We probably could have saved ourselves, but we were too lazy to try very hard... and too cheap."

Vonnegut's humor had a macabre sense of irony: "One of the few good things about modern times: If you die horribly on television, you will not have died in vain. You will have entertained us. "

How prophetic, when juxtposed with the continuing Don Imus idiocy…MSNBC decided it can’t take the heat, and kicked Imus out of the kitchen, firing him from his TV simulcast.
Of course that’s all it took for the spineless and mindless to only now pile on with their public denouncements: Hillary Clinton figures the coast is clear to say she’ll not be on his show (psst—Hillary, he’s off the air for while, Mensa.)

Obama Barrack, that prodigal paragon of independent thinking and voice of the people, finally found his voice, ironically on the same day as the MSNBC decision, calling for Imus’ dismissal. Timing is everything, eh, Senator?

Interesting quote, too, from Sen. Barrack, who said, “…as a culture, we really have to do some soul-searching to think about what kind of toxic information are we feeding our kids.”

Does that mean that The Obamarator will be initiating a washing-out of the mouths of his brethren who regularly use such endearing terms as the N-word and the H-word, and the MF-compound pronouns in rap music that is spewed on FM and cable channels?

One other note on this issue---and at the root, we’re talking 1st Amendment, free-speech rights: We all have the right to free speech…and the right to refuse to listen. MSNBC has the right to refuse to provide a stage on which the players play, and Staples and Bigelow Tea have the right to extend or withdraw their marketing dollars as they see fit.

The freedoms we all enjoy and possess come with a price, and that is the responsibility to use them prudently. Whether you yell “fire” in a crowded theater, or describe a squad of female athletes using questionable adjectives, public commentators have a double burden of circumspection in filtering the language we use.

Don Imus is guilty of poor judgment, insensitivity, and mumbling the wrong phrase at the wrong time…but he had/has the right to do so. He said he was just trying to be funny, and the joke went horribly wrong.

Interesting insight on this from our notable quotable of the day, the late Kurt Vonnegut, who said, “the telling of jokes is an art of its own, and it always rises from some emotional threat. The best jokes are dangerous, and dangerous because they are in some way truthful.”

Imus may have gotten tripped up on his word use, but he stumbled upon a profound truth: regardless of skin color, everyone’s is pretty thin.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Winks, Blinks, and Nods

Who will blink in the standoff between China and the US over piracy and copyright protection issues? The United States is asking the World Trade Organization to mediate…China says going to the WTO will seriously hamper trade relations… What? Like stealing copyrighted ideas is an endearing trait?

Procter & Gamble and Staples apparently aren’t willing to gamble on marketing during the Don Imus show, following his off-colored commentary over a college basketball game last week…P&G is pulling all advertising from MSNBC Daytime advertising. The Imus Show generates in excess of $20-million a year in advertising revenue for CBS Radio.

American Idol Fantasia Barrino will be playing the role of Celie in a Broadway production of “The Color Purple.” Fantasia’s name on the playbill is credited for $6-million in ticket sales for the show…

The biggest question since “who shot JR?” has been put to rest…Larry Birkhead is the father of Anna Nicole Smith’s illegitimate daughter, Dannielynn, based on DNA testing. Glad that’s over so the rest of the world can get on with our lives…

And the Global Warm-mongers are taking heat for not walking the talk. Maddona is the latest headliner for this summer’s Live Earth concert for the planet, encouraging us to all reduce our carbon emissions.

But the Material Girl is credited for producing about 440-tons of CO2 just for airline travel during a recent 4-month concert tour; imagine the “carbon footprint” her entourage creates with the caravan that trucks her personnel, lighting and equipment from concert to concert.

The average carbon footprint, but the way, is about 10-tons of CO2 a year per person. Unless you’re a politician.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

In Defense of Don Imus

A note about Don Imus’ remark that the Rutgers Women’s Basketball Team were “nappy headed ho’s,” as he watched footage of their game with Tennessee.

There is a double-standard at work here.

Imus has been described as an “equal-opportunity offender,” and is notorious for picking on myriad ethnic, religious, and racial subsets of the Human Race.

Personally, I think his remarks were no more offensive or objectionable than the trash talk that emanates from the mouths of black rappers who inject superfluous “niggas” in every other “verse” of their art, and liberally sprinkle the alternating verses with vernacular relating to female dogs, and men who sleep with their mothers. Yeah, that’s socially-redeeming material.

Morality in Media President Robert Peters commented that if the FCC been doing its job, the entire incident "might have been prevented because radio stations would have long ago curbed hardcore rap lyrics with sexual comments about African American women." Imus is at worst guilty of bad judgment in attempting to mimic language that is painfully common already. Peters correctly identifies the real question as: "Will the FCC finally do their job and begin taking the smutting rap lyrics off the air?"

I’ve heard the tape; I’ve watched the video of Don Imus’ off the cuff remarks. Imus paid the Rugters team a left-handed compliment—in their own vernacular—that theirs is a team to be reckoned with on the court. They’re tough and intimidating to other teams, described by Imus as “cute.”

Frankly, if you’re on a competitive team, would you rather be portrayed as tough or cute?

Al Sharpton and the other shrill voices of the politically-correct establishment have gone over the edge equally as far in calling for Imus’ firing. MSNBC and CBS Radio, willing sycophants to the left, are suspending the Imus show for two weeks.
Sharpton’s harangue at Imus included the hypocritical statement that racial slurs, like “nappy headed ho’s,” shouldn’t be allowed on the public airwaves.
True dat.

But clean up your own parish, first Reverend, and let’s also put the quietus on the icons of the Black entertainment industry who are raking in millions, and influencing the minds of Black, Brown, Yellow, Red and White youth with their denigrating, demeaning speech and depictions of black culture—which also fills the airwaves and cable connections each day.

All humor is rooted in truth. Imus just struck a nerve root.

Chillin' w/the Warm-mongers

The Spring of 2007 is going to be one for the record books.

We told you yesterday of Charlotte, NC, breaking temperature records with a low of 23-degrees over the weekend…now baseball diamonds are being snowed-in, and major league weather conditions are causing game delays and re-routing game tours.

Thursday’s game at Boston’s Fenway Park could actually be snowed out…The Cleveland Indians have been snowed out for four straight days at Jacobs Field…they’ll play the Seattle Mariners tonight in Milwaukee’s Miller Field—with a retractable roof.

This actual, un-retouched photo was taken on Saturday afternoon in Central Texas, during the Easter "Blizzard of Ought-7."

Meanwhile the Senate wants to establish the global warming issue as a matter of national security.
I think we should establish Congressional arrogance and stupidity as threats to national security.