Friday, July 15, 2016

The Bern lost, we must move forward

Clinton vs. trump may be your nightmare, but HE LOST. Somebody wins, somebody loses. You and he and Jane cand Rosario Dawson can spin it as "rigged" (except for the contests he won). He did do a great job, and had a great message - and still does. He made major mistakes, and eventually lapsed into being a whiny politician (he was against the super delegates before he was for them). I'm not going to bother fending off the Bernie wilding that is inevitable, and seems determined to make this rather cool guy into the next Ralph Nader. "The lesser of two evil is less evil". Occupy reality. Hold Clinton's feet to the fire. Right now, she is the best hope against TrumpKochFascism. There is not the luxury to be "never Hillary" and shout down speakers at the convention and all that crap - all this, and the fantasy of the emails being the July surprise has already damaged her candidacy. So congratulations on that.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Happy 140th Anniversary of the Battle of Greasy Grass, Little Big Horn, Montana

140 years ago today, General George Armstrong Custer lost his bid to be 1876 Presidential timber.

Like Frankenstein Fearing His Monster

Apparently, Bernie Sanders has decided that a priority even bigger than beating Trump is to "change the Democratic Party" starting with its platform. The Democratic platform is important to the extent that it introduces the voting public to the current ideals of the current Democratic Party and its nominee, in front of generally a very large viewing audience. So fine, if Bernie can effect those changes without rancor (from himself or Rosario Dawson or Cornell West, et al.); they are really issues all Democrats have sought for decades — even Clinton, who has been sadly damaged by his fans, damage that only he can and must repair.  But, that said, on the whole, the “platform” is not binding nor is it long remembered. It is also not adhered to by the candidate once elected because of personal priorities or the blockage of congress (the changing of which should be part of a big, two prong effort by both Sanders and Clinton). Meanwhile, demonstrations are being planned by the most ardent fanatics of the Bernie realm — and I hear, so far, no cautions by Sanders to moderate such hijinks. I never have heard him seek to mitigate the excesses of his acolytes — in fact after Nevada, he ginned things up IMO. Could it be that Sanders, like Frankenstein, fears the monster he created?  But he has finally, yesterday, declared he will vote for Hillary Clinton, “most likely” (always wiggle room with this guy), so unless that was a 74-year-old brain fart, it’s a good indicator of where things are heading.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Bernie's End Game II

Why is this going on and on? Let’s get together and beat Trump (OR WHOEVER). I'm not sure if Sanders is actually delusional. But he knew the rules (including “super delegates”) when he decided, as a “revolutionary”, to try and gain the nomination of a major national political party to which he never belonged until just after breakfast. He made a fine appeal, got a lot of folks engaged (who should god damn well be engaged anyway), and demonstrated that progressive policies are popular and not frightening.  He has underscored corruption — mainly he has focused on his “own” party. And no doubt there’s some truth to that. But democracy in its most basic means somebody wins and somebody loses. He knew this rule too. But instead of grace, first he took to a Rubio-style strategy of declaring victory if Clinton didn’t win big enough in a particular primary.  He then took to a Trump-style strategy, declaring assorted elections fraudulent, the system “rigged” (except for the ones he won), and Clinton a warmonger.  He refused to tamp down the excesses of his fervent acolytes (damaging Clinton, rioting in Nevada, etc.)  And now, in the face of a Donald Trump presidency looming, he holds a meager hand up against this same Democratic Party wherein his opponent has won more votes, more delegates, more states, more everything.  Yet he keeps making demands of both platform policies and for the head of Barney Frank, and even hocking those same “super delegates” to flip — the ones he derided as part of an undemocratic rigged system of the “establishment”.  He’s become the Black Knight of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  And in the process, he has demonstrably discouraged and enraged all those new voters he has bragged of bringing on board. Hopefully in the end his insurgency won’t have done more damage than good — that is arguable. I’ll try it again: “Fuck sides. What we really need right now is a little solidarity." - Mr. Pink.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Bernie's End Game

The first woman is the de facto nominee of a major party, and all Sanders can say we’re going all the way because shit could happen — boo Hillary!  Now Barack Obama is the titular head of the “Establishment”. Unlike 1968’s LBJ, he is not mired in a land war in southeast asia. He hasn’t invaded Iran lately, he made peace. The economy has been in a positive move since 2009. He pushed through the first national health care program with great political cost. He and the Democratic party or even the Clintons are not the problem.  So why is he revolting against them?  Is it that “they”, led by this treacherous woman, are denying the prize he thinks is rightfully his because reasons? (Certainly not because of votes but then, you know, “rigged”).  It’s the Republicans, now personified by Donald Trump, who have been the problem, and the true existential threat to the nation’s progressive well being.  They have raised obstructionism to an art form on a federal level — and on state levels, sociopathic capitalism runs rampant.  Never could understand that about Sanders, this misdirected fire. I liked him very much, but I’m stunned that his “all about me” end game is this delusional demagoguery. He could go out like a hero, a champion, a real catalyst for important change.  Instead it appears his goal is to bring the spirit of the Nevada Convention to Philadelphia, with fervent hopes of Clinton’s indictment mixed in.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


The one thing that’s probably obvious here, but I learned long ago — they are not believers, they are not stupid, they even know what they are saying are lies  (although like O.J., they could have created their own internal Stockholm syndrome so they can live with themselves). They are simply sociopathic — it’s all about suckering that idiotic base (who DO believe, apparently), and fooling those amorphous “independents”.  Just get to the finals, then etch-a-sketch the most egregious errors, and hope, with the help of the willing press, nobody remembers.  Just get in that damn White House! And they are sociopathic in the worst way, if there is such a thing as gradations to their toxicity: their lies have dangerous consequences, as witnessed in Colorado, or in Trump’s crowd beatings of BLM folks, and elsewhere, despite their sociopathic denials that they are to blame (put it to the “liberal press conspiracy”, natch). The idiot base doesn’t care about Politifact findings. In fact, they see it as a “winning” virtue for their candidates to NEVER give in, apologize or acknowledge any errors.  Little lies here and there are OK, (IF they are even seen as lies) as long as they are for the “greater good”, which apparently is turn the entire country into Kansas.  Apologies and God knows compromises are seen as weakness — something liberals do.

Saturday, August 8, 2015


Today I'm starting to post excerpts from my upcoming memoirs / how-to-get-started-in-show-biz / and general backstage gossip called Funny is Money. The bulk of the show biz aspect of the book consists of war stories. Most are pretty funny, many are just strange.  The first excerpt is about my encounter with Norman Lear while working as a staff writer/story editor for the sitcom One Day at a Time. I'm thinking of retelling it at some story slam:

Meanwhile, we wrote our first script for One Day at a Time, a story designed to introduce a new friend of Ann’s (naturally played by an actress Lear or one of his minions discovered in a Broadway show).  I don’t remember the precise story line – something about a nosey neighbor - but we thought it was pretty good, and Bensfield and Grant seemed to be okay with it.  But we would soon learn their feeble opinion hardly meant anything.  It was all about what Norman Lear thought about it.
Then came the trek to Norman Lear’s office, and we were to realize that Bensfield and Grant were deferring to Lear, thereby throwing us to not mere wolves, but the biggest in Hollywood at that moment.
This was when our office was located in the Sands Motel on Sunset, if you can believe it. I think some writers from Good Times were also there. Just not enough office space for all of Lear’s show staffs on the main lot. Or at least not for us. We at first occupied a trailer on the back lot of the studio (at least it was a double-wide), but later there was the motel move.
Anyway, the trek to Norman’s office that was to be rather life changing: Norman Lear’s throttling of our script.
Do you know what they say that your worst fears and your fondest dreams will never happen? Well as far as fondest dreams, I may have set a low bar but I eventually did marry Barbara Pariot, and I did put my hand on the Arc de Triomphe. But my worst fear was always something about being exposed as a fraud, by some big shot, and get booted out of show business in some humiliating fashion.
Well, I’m not sure if I was exposed as a fraud, but I certainly got the boom lowered by only the biggest powerhouse in all of television at the time, and possibly all time – Norman Lear.
This was the process: send in two or three week’s worth of scripts to Norman, and then go to a meeting at his office to hear his notes.
So it was eventually our script’s turn. Lear was there with his famous floppy tennis hat. The tape recorder started, and Lear could not wait to rip into our script. He absolutely hated it. He referred to the character we were introducing as a “buttinsky”. He said he found no "endearing moments".  The words and his voice are vivid in my ear to this day near 40 years later. There was nowhere to hide.  Sweat burst from every pore. There was nothing to say. The other guys, probably with the exception of Bensfield, were quick to defend us and even fall on the sword. After all, they had signed off on it – unless they were deliberately throwing us to the big dog. But Lear cut them off, “No, they’re grownups!” It was flabbergasting. It was a young TV writer’s (at least mine and my partner’s) nightmare – times about 100. Because even when you worry about such things, you sort of secretly know they are unlikely to happen. But it happened. The king of television was crashing its wrath down upon me, like Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction.  He as usual had notes on other scripts and story lines too, prompting Bensfield to groan about all the work they had to do, etc. Lear said “Would you really rather be doing anything else (other than work in television?)”. I at least thought, yeah, better would be to be working in television as Norman Lear. And so we staggered out of there with the rest of the guys, and I’m sure they gave us words of encouragement as we made our way back to our trailer/office stuck on the Metromedia lot. I’m not sure what Stein and I spoke about, except I know what was unspoken – we were fucked. Now no nightmare could be ruled out – fired perhaps, career wrecked by Norman Lear, or worse, having to remain on that goddamn show. No, at that moment, we didn’t think it was the greatest place to be working, Mr. Lear.
It did get worse. The next part of the process is for the writer’s secretary, a woman named Pat Fischer, to transcribe the tape into typed pages – lest anybody forgot anything Lear had to say. And the asshole Fischer, smirking, delivered us our copies of the transcript saying “Wow Norman really didn’t like your script.” I wanted to ask her “how did he like your script? Oh, oops, I’m sorry, I forgot, you don’t write scripts - you TYPE scripts for high paid, unionized Emmy winning writers.”
In any case we felt pretty much out of it, ostracized if you will by the sucky show and the decidedly unfunny writers, Perry and Dick, with whom we did not see eye to eye. And who had pretty much thrown us under a bus named Norman Lear.