I’m a genetically programmed contrarian, right down to my pop culture tastes (as regular readers know).
As I’ve written here before, my preference for the
“corny, uncool butt-kisser” unabashedly enthusiastic Arsenio Hall over slimy late-night lounge lizard David Letterman marked me as a Gen-X pariah for a very long time.
Sure, Hall probably helped Bill Clinton win the White House, after letting the candidate “play” the sax on his show.
But I admired Hall’s insistence on carrying on with his Los Angeles-based show during the Rodney King riots, and trying to be a peacemaker; it’s a night people still talk about.
Then there was the time obnoxious “Queer Nation” activists tried to hijack his program and he literally got up in their faces, unscripted.
It’s an amazingly timely clip that more of today’s cowardly, politically correct comedians should study closely:
I think you have to grow up and realise that we’re facing religious fanatics who would kill everyone in the world who doesn’t do what they say. The more time you give them the more bombs they’ll get. Bin Laden is going to try and kill more people.
When we’re all supposed to be working, a tiny cabal of my fellow Gen-Xers amuse (and depress) ourselves with daily emails about the awful music kids these days are listening to, and which sacred movies are being pointlessly remade, and which famous person we “grew up with” just had the nerve to die.
“PROOF!” Rick added. “I thought I just imagined this, but I didn’t, it seems. I feel vindicated.”
He’d tracked down Clash frontman Joe Strummer’s immediate reaction to the 9/11 attacks.
When Strummer died in 2002, not a few conservative writers cited Strummer’s comments in their obits.
I’m not sure he would have approved.
The son of a British diplomat, Strummer may not have been an authentic Charing Cross Road working class lad (any more than Bob Dylan was a real live Dust Bowl goy), but he was a lifelong Man of the Left, often to the point of colossal stupidity:
[I]t’s worth noting that Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Britain now all have prime ministers to the right of the US president.
That was Mark Steyn, commenting on new conservative PM Tony Abbot’s triumph in the recent elections “down under.”
In my travels around the blogosphere, I run into Americans who envy the Commonwealth’s apparent surfeit of “right wing” leaders.
They’ll jokingly ask, for instance, if anyone knows how to forge a Hawaiian “Certificate of Live Birth” for Canada’s Stephen Harper once he’s finally out of office up here.
And certainly, Harper is vastly superior to the possible alternative.
However, not all Canadian conservatives are thrilled with every one of his government’s policies, especially on the touchy twin issues of immigration and multiculturalism.
Perhaps Abbot’s victory will embolden the Harper Conservatives, then, since many see Australia’s turn to the right as a mandate for immigration reform.
Up until now, Harper’s strategy on those matters amounts to delighting his base by, say, deporting a record number of “criminal foreigners” one day, then doing something totally stupid the next.
Like coughing up over $300,000 in taxpayer cash on a campaign to remind Muslim newcomers not to beat or murder their wives.
Wouldn’t it be cheaper and make far more sense to prevent backward savages of any and all types from settling Canada in the first place?
No one is permitted to ask such questions in Canada’s mainstream media, not even on Sun News.
That said, kudos to Brian Lilley for talking about this idiotic government program on his show.
His guest Raheel Raza is one of the few vocal pro-Western Muslims on the Canadian scene.
She’s occasionally too moderate for my liking, but she puts herself at personal risk every day just by saying the things she does:
The 67-year-old starred in numerous cult films (Wham! Bam! Thank You, Spaceman! Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks) but is best remembered as one of the femme fatales in Meyer’s Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, which is widely considered the Citizen Kane of crap.
If you imagine that female trio as a kind of unfunny Marx Brothers who know martial arts, Haji’s “Rosie” is the girl gang’s “Chico,” a second
banana tomato with dark, exotic looks, unplaceable “foreign” accent, and the least inclination to do bodily harm.
I came visiting here with my family from another galaxy, and we landed in Quebec and Montreal. I never ate when I was a child. I lived off air.
Haji also claimed she’d dropped out of school at age five, and started stripping at fourteen.
About her most famous role, Haji recalled:
You just didn’t see women taking over and beating up men in those days. Russ did something no one else had the imagination to do. And he was smart to use three bodied-up women, so whether the picture’s good or not, you still sort of stare at it.
Haji wasn’t a fan of the spotlight, and only made rare appearances at fan “cons” in her later years.
According to my correspondent, Haji was quite happy living quietly in Malibu, on the “good side” of the Pacific Coast Highway, along the beach she loved.
She is survived by her daughter — and her many fans.
Politically correct millennials (and a few Gen-X/Y enablers) have turned stand-up comedy into a peanut-free play-date, a spindly shadow of its former raunchy, nicotine-stained self.
Each week seems to bring an earnest new dorm-room-debate of the “are jokes about Topic X ever acceptable?” variety.
I figured this week’s non-issue was going to be “How Do You Tell a Story About Four Black Guys Mugging You Without Sounding Racist?”
I was prepared to loathe Phil Mazo’s bit, assuming he was just another grovelling liberal “open mic” beta male.
Then I watched this video.
I hope you will too.
It belongs in a time capsule marked “America: 2013.”
A friend sent me a link this morning, with the subject line:
A white Guy in a Keffiyeh places a thinly disguised personal ad in a feminist blog
I’m in a rare generous mood, so I feel compelled to share Matt Graber’s stirring manifesto — is that word “sexist”? — at The Feminist Wire:
Please don’t call me “man” or “dude” any longer. I will not join you in friendship or partnership on a male-supremacist, patriarchal project. I will not condone the view that women are born to provide you with sexual gratification, and to do care work for you.
I will not be your wingman. I will not support your objectification of women’s bodies. Women are not accessories to you, regardless of how much money you have. In social settings such as parties, bars, or clubs, I will not accompany you when you violate the personal space of others. When they refuse to allow you to enter into their personal space, I will not ease or comfort you.
Brace yourselves: There’s more.
But then the comments from the blog’s primary readers — women — take it to the next level of epic.
They aren’t impressed by Matt “Don’t Call Me Dude!” Graber’s epic beta male white-knighting.
This is really cheap, unevolved feminism looking for cookies.
Poor Matt. He must be very confused by this reaction.
He just wants to
violate a little personal space be loved and understood and appreciated.
Now, I know we’re all sick of the #NotTheOnion hashtag, but this op-ed really seems to be… real.
Unless a sarcastic guy (or even a very clever woman) wrote this pitch-perfect parody of campus-speak circa 1994, then arranged for the ideal “Che!” headshot to go with it, and got it all accepted as legit by the gatekeepers at The Feminist Wire.
In which case, I salute you, Sir/Madam.
For the rest of us: Palette cleanser, stat!
Yep, we “celebrate” Labo(u)r Day up here in Canada, too.
Like most Americans, we don’t spend much time that day musing about the Haymarket Riot or dialectical materialism.
Instead, drinking beer and sleeping in top most “to do” lists.
Organized labor can still get out the crowds when it feels so inclined:
Verizon wants to break into the Canadian market, and a few thousand Big Labor types marched up Yonge Street last week to complain.
Meanwhile, the other two-thirds of the nation’s workforce either don’t care about this issue or welcome the competition.
(Canadians are notoriously cheap: We love complaining about our high cellphone charges even though they’re actually lower than U.S. rates.)
Anyway, Brian Lilley is among those asking whether labor unions are (mostly) obsolete, especially since union leaders seem far more focused on influencing party politics and public policy than they are on, say, workplace safety.
Like most “progressive” outfits who long ago achieved their original goals, labor unions are palpably desperate to remain relevant.
Lilley hails from my steel-mill hometown, so he’s been around union folks all his life.
Today, he says:
…unions aren’t for the workers anymore, they’re for the union bosses.
My father worked his whole life in a union and retired a proud union man.
The outfit he belonged to has faced some tough questions lately over outrageous salaries for the top executives, cushy jobs for family members and precious little for the membership. In fact, it sounds to me like they’ve become the people they were fighting against.
Is there a “conservative” or libertarian argument for organized labor unions?
Make your case in the comments — that is, if you actually feel like doing some work today.
The longest and most expensive trial in United States history prosecuted crimes that never occurred.
The McMartin pre-school case was The Children’s Hour come to Godzilla-like life.
That sordid story sits on my mental desk like a momento mori, cautioning me against rushing to judgement whenever the media comes down with a contagious new sex-related “epidemic,” be it real (those Catholic Church abuse scandals) or fake (like “rainbow parties.”)
Moral panics we will always have with us, and the real harm they do is incalculable, both to those accused and to society at large.
Caution is advised.
Which brings me to Operation Yewtree, a.k.a. the BBC pedophilia scandals involving the late children’s show presenter, Top of the Pops host, and conspicuous philanthropist Sir Jimmy Savile, along with who knows how many others.
Now, I don’t doubt that, particularly during the permissive 1960s and 1970s, myriad sexual hijinks transpired in and around BBC headquarters, or that underage girls and boys were frequently targeted.
At an establishment conservative confab in D.C. a while back, someone asked me if Canadians could possibly be stupid enough to throw over Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper for an unaccomplished, photogenic airhead like Justin Trudeau, based solely on that particular Liberal MP’s particular arrangement of DNA molecules.
I nodded in the general direction of what I hoped was the White House and replied:
“Who’ve you got, then?”
You guys went from “I didn’t inhale” to “Damn right I did” in one generation, so I doubt recent not-so-shocking revelations about Justin Trudeau’s little pot habit could keep him out of 24 Sussex Drive.
After all, Canada is much much more relaxed about marijuana use than the U.S is.
However, we’re not as casual about it as you may think. The situation is a bit… bipolar.
The fact is, when Justin Trudeau toked up “three years ago” (cough), he not only broke the law, but did so as a sitting member of Parliament.
Conservative Justice Minister Peter MacKay commented:
“By flouting the laws of Canada while holding elected office, he shows he is a poor example for all Canadians, particularly young ones. Justin Trudeau is simply not the kind of leader our country needs.”
(Which prompted our version of Bill Maher — comedian-commentator Rick Mercer — to tweet “a dorky picture of the justice minister from the 1989 Dalhousie law school yearbook, drinking from a beer bong.”)
Only a few years ago, news that footage of Jerry Lewis’ legendary lost film The Day the Clown Cried had been unearthed and then posted on the internet would’ve sent me into a day-long movie-geek freakout.
Judging by the avalanche of online reaction, there are still some folks eager to view even short scenes from this infamous 1971 mess-terpiece.
I’m just not one of them.
He recently reiterated what he’s maintained for decades:
The movie will never be released to the public.
Oh, come on, you’re thinking. Sure, this is a Jerry Lewis movie we’re talking about, but how bad can it be?
Well, it’s about a clown in a Nazi concentration camp who leads children, Pied-Piper-style, into the gas chambers.
So there’s that.
The latest stand-up comedy “controversy” is one you probably haven’t heard about yet, unless you’re serving in the United States Air Force.
Earlier this month, veteran comic Mitch Fatel performed for the troops at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, England.
One audience member — Colonel Mark K. Ciero, 48th Fighter Wing vice commander — didn’t care for Fatel’s raunchy jokes.
According to Stars & Stripes, Ciero’s report on the show up at the Lakenheath website has “prompted Air Force officials to review procedures regarding entertainment provided to troops.”
The performance comes at a time when the U.S. military is reeling from a number of sex assault scandals that have prompted top military and civilian leadership to stress a zero-tolerance policy toward such incidents.
Indeed, although it’s tempting to wonder whether or not the sudden “increase” in sexual assaults is simply a rise in the number of reports filed, due perhaps to changes in the definition of “sexual assault” or any number of other factors.
Given recent history, we’re well advised to proceed with caution when dealing with such alleged sexual “epidemics.”
They often turn out to be fanciful “moral panics” that cause even greater harm to innocent individuals and to society as a whole.
Back in January, when I wrote about Canada’s Sun News Network, its future was uncertain.
The TV station airs way up (or is it down?) on the “dial,” with other specialty cable channels you have to pay for as part of pricey “theme” packages.
This placement keeps millions of Canadians from seeing the only real competition ever mounted against the state broadcaster (the CBC) and the other de facto liberal news networks (Canadian and American), which are all available free.
As I wrote at the time, non-subscribers were missing a lot, as are Americans who can’t pull in Sun News, either.
Frankly, the Canadian liberal mean-girl nickname “Fox News North” is only an insult to Sun in the sense that it puts out far superior programming than Fox, while spending what amounts to the coins in Roger Ailes’ couch cushions.
I’m turning 50 next year, and I can’t decide if hearing that Phoebe Cates hit that miserable milestone first makes me feel better or worse.
As the girl in the red bikini in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Cates climbed out of a pool and was pause-buttoned into the brains of millions of teenaged Gen-X boys, where I’m pretty sure she remains.
Meanwhile, almost as many Gen-X gals, including me, are jealous as hell:
Phoebe Cates married the talented and adorable Kevin Kline in 1989.
She dropped out of acting, opened a cute little Madison Avenue boutique called Blue Tree, and still looks exactly the same.
What’s not to hate?
Anyhow, by sheer coincidence, Salon just posted a piece called “Generation X Gets Really Old: How Do Slackers Have a Midlife Crisis?” so I guess I have “getting really old” on the brain.
Over twenty years ago, the young millright passed out drunk at the GM plant in St. Catherine’s, Ontario. They put him on medical leave. He never went back.
Instead, Zavadil got hold of a camera and an editing bay, and gave himself a new name: Cap’n Video.
Every Friday, he donned a bizarre helmet and welding goggles, put on a French-Canadian accent, and single-handedly filmed improvised stunts in his backyard, inspired by whatever everyday objects happened to be laying around.
No assistants. No planning.
Not since Buster Keaton had such dangerous, original stunts been captured on film — clothesline skiing, roof tobogganing, egg snorting.
Looking for an alternative to the daily tedium of shaving? Cap’n Video helpfully demonstrates how to set your face on fire.
And Buster Keaton, a vaudeville tumbler since age 3, planned his pratfalls to the second, and employed a professional crew.
He was also getting paid and was presumably well insured.
Whereas The Cap’n Video Show was an amateur, lower class goofball’s labor of love, seen only on the local cable access channel, then on videotapes passed to friends by fans.
Zavadil pioneered a genre that would make other men rich and famous (and sore.)
So why haven’t you heard of him?
My life on the Left wasn’t a total write off.
Sure, I wish I had back all the money I spent on cigarettes and booze, and I regret wasting my then-22 inch waist on a stoner trust-fund boyfriend.
Yet very occasionally, I’d experience a life-changing epiphany while sitting on the rodent-infested couch in our drafty, leaking apartment.
I’ve written about one of those moments before: The Night I Stopped Hating Ronald Reagan.
Another incident occurred under almost identical circumstances: me and the boyfriend, watching TV.
It was The David Letterman Show.
I couldn’t stand the guy, but his show was the “approved” late night program in our circle, and besides, sometimes Letterman’s guests were worth waiting up for.
On this particular night, Letterman introduced his next guest with the words:
“Brace yourselves. I’m not kidding. Please welcome Sam Kinison.”
My mom answered, reassured her pal that everything was fine — and quickly got rid of her.
Her show was on!
My mother wasn’t being raped or murdered or anything, just laughing at one of her favorite TV programs (and mine): the “old” Whose Line Is It Anyway?
That is, the American improv comedy series hosted by Drew Carey that aired for nine seasons starting in 1998.
Whose Line Is It Anyway? was one of those British television imports-adaptations (like All in the Family and Chico and the Man) that surpassed the original.
Improv purists won’t agree.
For them, Whose Line…? is to “real” long form improv what the Partridge Family were to the Beatles.
For the rest of us, though, it was appointment television.
Few shows have ever made me laugh so hard.
No, I’m not talking about Cleveland’s Ariel “I’m not a monster” Castro.
Now Canada’s most hated man — serial rapist, sex slave “master” and child killer Paul Bernardo — is mad because the media is telling “lies” about him.
Plus he wants to be moved from maximum to medium security because those “mistakes” he made happened “years ago” or something.
That these glib, narcissistic men sound shockingly alike comes as no surprise, of course.
Rather than dwell on the likes of Castro or Bernardo — or his equally guilty wife Karla Homolka, who is now free (and a mother) thanks to what we call “the deal with the devil” — I’d prefer to concentrate on one of his victims.
It’s something we always promise we’ll do, isn’t it? Remember the victims.
Kathleen Norris’s exquisitely written classic of modern spirituality, The Cloister Walk, includes a moving meditation about one fifteen-year-old girl who was kidnapped, raped and murdered by Bernardo and Homolka.
(Whose raped and murdered younger sister is the one Lena Dunham joked about dressing up as for Halloween, by the way.)
The only flaw in this otherwise impeccable chapter is that Kathleen Norris, an American, makes a mistake no Canadian would:
She misspells the girl’s name.
I’ve taken the liberty of correcting it, below.
Her name was Kristen French…
A recent Newsweek contains a grim account of a married couple in Canada who habitually kidnapped, tortured, raped and sometimes murdered teenage girls. Because they videotaped their victims, the defiance of one fifteen-year-old, Kristen French, is on record. “Ordered to perform a particular sex act,” the article notes, “she refused, insisting, ‘Some things are worth dying for.’” The girl never gave in, even when her tormenters showed her the videotaped death of another of their victims. (…)
The mystery of holiness infuses such defiance. I am haunted by the idea that Kristen French’s killers may have responded to this spark of holiness in her. They had dismembered the corpse of a fourteen-year-old girl they’d killed the year before. It was a videotape of her death that they showed to Kristen French in an attempt to intimidate her into submission. This may signify nothing at all, but it is the stuff of hagiography: The body of Kristen French they buried intact.
Some comedian named Andy Kindler (?) delivers the “State of the Industry” address, which, from what I can gather, is a sort of “roast” of other comics.
Except the “roaster” — that is, Kindler — clearly isn’t “just kidding.”
(My philosophy? “No one is ever just kidding.” No, not even comedians. Especially not comedians. It’s a motto that’s served me well…)
Maybe you had to be there, and I wasn’t, but Andy Kindler comes across as a bitter, nasty piece of work.
And who can blame him?
After all, his biggest claim to fame is that every year, he delivers an unfunny speech in which he insults other, funnier, more successful comedians.
If I didn’t know better, I’d say this arrangement is actually an elaborate, ironic, high-concept prank on Kindler himself, a la Windy City Heat.
This year, everyone in the business is talking about Kindler’s attack on author/podcaster Adam Carolla.
Her hometown of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, wants to build a museum in her honor (seemingly oblivious to the irony, considering Mitchell’s quoted-to-death lyrics…)
There aren’t enough people [in Saskatoon] who know what I do. (…)
I feel that it’s very isolated, very unworldly, and doesn’t grasp the idea of honor. (…)
Saskatoon has always been an extremely bigoted community. It’s like the deep south, and the museum was one thing I thought would be beneficial for people. (…)
People don’t get me there. They don’t get my ideas. They just look at me like I’m famous. That’s a minor part of it.
The mayor of Saskatoon responded with sanguine diplomacy to these insults.
Some Canadians, on the other hand…
The years I wasted being what Ron Rosenbaum calls a “buff buff” — surveying the obsessive in-fighting between rival JFK assassination “researchers” — has made me wary of “revisionist history”: those parallel, “unofficial” narratives too often cobbled together from hearsay, microfiche, junk science and dodgy “eyewitness” testimony.
I dislike the dismissive term “revisionist history” itself, of course.
It’s so often associated with twitchy, autodidactic Holocaust debunkery, not to mention the “shape-shifting-alien-lizard” theory of civilization.
I just wish there was a more respectable term for what West has produced.
The fact is, West’s findings will be fairly familiar to readers of M. Stanton Evans’ 2009 book Blacklisted by History.
West acknowledges her debt to Evans throughout, but her own Herculean original research takes Evans’ debunking of the left’s “red scare” mythology to a new level, and her conclusions are more troubling.
It even seems to be factually accurate!
Word that Moore and his wife of 21 years were splitting up generated plenty of news stories last week.
The “documentary” fib-maker doesn’t make as many headlines as he once did, of course.
Remember when Moore’s back-to-back hits Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11 made him famous enough to get mocked in other people’s movies?
Remember his sold-out international speaking tour?
His ubiquitous bestselling books?
Today, Michael Moore’s Q Score is probably somewhere between Pokemon and Pogs.
Now, I’m a flaming heterosexual, but believe me: lots of other Gen-X girls (gay or not) had pictures of Quatro stuck on their bedroom walls.
The tomboy bassist made an indelible impression on Happy Days as “Leather Tuscadero,” but her music career was never as huge over here as it was in the UK.
Even so, long before Siouxsie Sioux, Chrissie Hynde or even Joan Jett herself, Quatro’s success sent a message:
Yeah, I wear tight leather jumpsuits; so do the guys. But you don’t have to look or sound like a Barbie Doll to have a hit single or two.
When she posed for a Penthouse centerfold, she even kept her clothes on.
Not that Quatro considered herself a feminist, mind you.
… completely hypocritical. Their leaders stand up there and say, ‘We’re individuals blab blab blab,’ and yet they’re all in a group following like sheep. For me, I cannot put the two together. … I’m talking about the masses that follow [the movement's leaders who get press attention] and who have nothing at all to say. It gives it all a very phoney light. I hope they can find a way to apply it to their own lives, because grouping together takes away the whole idea of Women’s Lib.
So it isn’t that surprising that Suzi Quatro has now publicly admitted that she regrets her 1968 abortion — not a popular stance among today’s petulant pro-choice feminists:
‘When I get to those Pearly Gates, hopefully, this is the sin I will pay for. I am so sorry for it,” she said. “Years later, it still comes back to haunt me, and I don’t think I will ever get over it.”
I’ve been married for a bunch of years now — no, I actually don’t have my anniversary date memorized — but I would still happily screen Die Hard on an endless loop in my home, and not just at Christmas.
(PS: One secret to a happy marriage? Two TVs. Just sayin’…)
At RogerEbert.com, Matt Zoller Seitz serves up a must-read appreciation with the perfect title — “Die Hard in a Building: An Action Classic Turns 25″:
Incredible as it might sound twenty-five years later, neither this film nor its smirking star were considered a slam-dunk in the summer of 1988. If you were the sort of viewer who looked for art in unexpected places, “Die Hard” was a godsend—the kind of moviegoing experience that colonized a part of your imagination and turned you into a bit of a zealot. I saw the film on opening day, fell instantly in love with it, and ran out to the theater lobby afterward to phone my younger brother.
“Put your shoes on,” I said. “I’ll be out front in ten minutes. I’m going to see ‘Die Hard’ again immediately, and you’re coming with me.” I saw it 15 times that summer. When I admitted this to art house-minded friends who assumed it was just Rambo in a building, they looked at me like I was crazy. But the ones I managed to drag to the theater understood instantly that this was no mere time-waster, that there was indeed something special about it: a joyous quality and an astonishing sense of craft.
Except, in their own way, this time they can, and do.
The walls of Rompin’ Ronnie Hawkins’ cottage-country house are decked with awards, gold records and, especially, photos of “the Hawk” himself with the many far more famous rockers he’s collaborated with and mentored for more than a half-century.
Over the years, Hawkins gained recognition for recruiting and grooming outstanding Canadian talent. The membership of his band, The Hawks, kept changing as the talent flowed in and out, but the name stayed the same.
One edition of The Hawks (with Canadians Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko, and drummer Levon Helm) moved on to become Bob Dylan’s backup band and later achieved superstardom as The Band.
Another incarnation became Janis Joplin’s Full Tilt Boogie Band, and another Robbie Lane and the Disciples. Other famous Hawk alumni include David Clayton Thomas of Blood Sweat and Tears, actor Beverly D’Angelo, musician Lawrence Gowan, and fellow Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees Burton Cummings and David Foster.
He may even have invented the moonwalk.
(Oh, and that’s Levon Helm on drums.)