March 19, 2004

Lardo di Colonnata

Lardo di Colonnata -- Last July, I introduced to this weblog the culinary highlight of my Hungarian-American family's annual Fourth of July picnics. It seem the Italians have their own gussied-up version. Sounds like good eats to me, despite all the fancy appellation and herbs.

Bouncing Checks and Balances

Bouncing Checks and Balances -- An abomination of a bill offered in Congress...
SHORT TITLE(S) AS INTRODUCED:
Congressional Accountability for Judicial Activism Act of 2004

OFFICIAL TITLE AS INTRODUCED:
To allow Congress to reverse the judgments of the United States Supreme Court.
It's going too far. Trying to do away with the separation of church and state isn't enough for these neocon, American Taliban bozos. Now they're going after checks and balances afforded by the judicial, legislative, and executive branches. (via Mitch Ratcliffe)

Republican from Texas

I've found a Republican from Texas with whom I agree. On the recently passed "Broadcast Indecency Act of 2004"...
An Indecent Attack on the First Amendment by Rep. Ron Paul: "This atrocious piece of legislation should be defeated. It cannot improve the moral behavior of U.S. citizens, but it can do irreparable harm to our cherished right to freedom of speech.

This attempt at regulating and punishing indecent and sexually provocative language suggests a comparison to the Wahhabi religious police of Saudi Arabia, who control the “Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.” Though both may be motivated by the good intentions of improving moral behavior, using government force to do so is fraught with great danger and has no chance of success.

Regulating speech is a dangerous notion, and not compatible with the principles of a free society. The Founders recognized this, and thus explicitly prohibited Congress from making any laws that might abridge freedom of speech or of the press."
Amen.

March 18, 2004

Not So Fine

Not So Fine -- From the LA Times...
FCC Proposes Fines for Infinity, Clear Channel: "In a dramatic sign of the government's crackdown on broadcast indecency, the Federal Communications Commission today proposed imposing large fines in connection with radio broadcasts by shock-jock Howard Stern.

The commission, ignoring an earlier staff report, also found that rock star Bono did make a profane remark during last year's Golden Globe Awards telecast but decided against imposing a fine.

Federal regulators proposed slapping Infinity Broadcasting with the maximum $27,500 fine for a Stern broadcast on a Detroit radio station during which the show's cast discussed sexual practices and techniques.

In addition, the FCC also proposed imposing a $55,000 fine on Clear Channel Communications for broadcasts on its network involving allegedly indecent and offensive remarks, according to Associated Press.

The fines cap a stunning about-face for a federal agency that has come under increased public pressure to respond to some well-publicized incidents on television and radio that have tested indecency standards...."
I don't hear much in the way of public pressure, unless you count politicians pandering to a puny but strident puritanical portion of the populace.

Humuna-humuna-humuna

Humuna-humuna-humuna -- "If you have any citations, I'd like to see them." Famous last words...

March 14, 2004

Mr. Roboto

Mr. Roboto is what they should have called this movie. The trailer look like nothing I remember from the classic book of the same name. Go read the original before your perceptions are warped by the Hollywood "version."

Black Ships & Samurai

Black Ships & Samurai -- As a Nihonphile and a fan of Sondheim's Pacific Overtures, this site featuring imagery from both sides of Perry's "opening of Japan" is fantastic. Even the format of the visual narratives, scrolling across the page as if viewing a Japanese scroll (instead of up and down) adds to the experience.

Where Can I See This Commercial?

Where Can I See This Commercial About the Power of Language? -- The Brits have got the right attitude. It made me smile, then it got me angry all over again. (Not safe for work, if you're hypocritical. I guess I am. I just mistakenly posted it to my "business blog," panicked, and moved it here.)

March 12, 2004

First They Came for the Shock Jocks...

First They Came for the Shock Jocks... - via Doc, who asks So when do they come after the Net? Again?

Open Letter to My Senators

Open Letter to My Senators -- First Howard, and now my Senators. I must be in a letter-writing mood. I know I'm not in a mood to finish my taxes and send my money to this government. Here's what I just dropped on Lautenberg and Corzine...
After yesterday's vote in the House establishing exorbitant fines for supposed "indecency," I want to let you know that my wife and I are counting on the hopefully more deliberative Senate to do the right thing and put an end to this silliness.

Half a million dollars for uttering four-letter words on the airwaves -- as if that was really happening, and you know it isn't -- can only have a chilling effect on many kinds of expression. It will kill live call-in radio and TV, which is one of the rare "places" that passionate dialog between people and their leaders and media happens.

Words are powerful, but the language and ideas and entertainment that these fines are aimed at pale in comparison with words like "weapons of mass destruction" and "defense of marriage" when it comes causing pain and suffering.

And before you tell me about "protecting the children," I feel that it's the responsibility of parents to assure that when their children encounter the real world of adult life, they know how to handle it. The adults of the world who want to close their eyes and ears and make believe reality doesn't exist are childish. Setting themselves up as an "American Taliban" (and I do not use that phrase lightly), they are dangerous and shouldn't be allowed in positions of responsibility, like the House, the FCC, and the White House.

Aren't there better things for Congress to fast track into law?
(Crap -- I forgot to include "Patriot Act" in my examples of indecent language. You can tell I'm mad as hell. Thank you, Howard Dean, for getting my juices flowing.

aaaargrgrgagrggaaahhhhh!!!

hmmm...Now that I've composed myself again, and re-read what I've written, my comments about killing live radio (which is exactly what fear of passionate expression and specifically things like 5-minute delays will do) just triggered more paranoia in me. I've taken Howard's paranoia about his troubles being related to his recent anti-Bush stands with a grain or two of salt, but then just remembered that a new progressive talk radio network is set to launch next week....hmmmm...let's see if they have the balls to confront this issue. I hope so.

March 10, 2004

The Real Flip-Flop Candidate

The Real Flip-Flop Candidate - From Daily Kos, via Boing Boing.

Open Letter to Howard

Open Letter to Howard -- I just shot off this email to the Stern show...

Howard (and gang) --

It was a tough first couple hours to listen this morning.

But completely understandable.

Life is too short to carry on doing something that isn't fun anymore. As Billy Crystal memorably said once, "It's just not fun."

Living in New Jersey, I've been listening to you since the afternoon drive on WNBC, "matured" along with you and the show, and even gotten my wife to become even a greater fan than myself. If you end up moving out of the broadcast space, we'll miss you. You've given us a lot of valued entertainment.

If you move to satellite, it'll be a good chance that I'll follow you there, although the chances would be enhanced if you didn't follow your Viacom family (MTV and VH1) to XM, but instead went to Sirius to balance out their NPR offerings. (I'll admit to being an aging boomer that, listens to "Howard all morning, and NPR all day." I know a lot like me who have such a dual radio listening personality.)

One concern I have, however, is that it won't only be listeners that follow you there. The pay venues of cable and satellite are the next targets of the religious right and pandering politicians. Buried in a recent Reuters story, as I'm sure you know, is the issue of indecency on cable...
> The Senate committee narrowly defeated an attempt to add a
> measure that would have applied indecency rules to pay television
> services. Those opposed to doing so warned that it could violate
> free speech rights.
>
> "The truth is the majority of the problems that we're facing are on
> cable and direct (satellite) television," said Sen. John Breaux, a
> Louisiana Democrat who offered the amendment to expand
> indecency regulations.
Breaux talks about television, but I doubt they'll leave radio out of their crosshairs. Sooner or later, cable and satellite might not be the safe haven that you're leading your listeners to believe. Just a concern.

You're also talking today more about the possibility of the web. Keep in mind that the web would allow for on-demand listening as well as live, not limited to drive time in a particular time zone. Through audible.com or the iTunes music store or other capitalist channels, highlights or even whole segments could be downloadable for a price, transferred to iPods, and plugged into the car radio. You pioneered modern radio syndication; you can probably pioneer a similar web-based delivery of your entertainment.

Finally, and again, this is probably something that you're aware of, Jeff Jarvis (former TV critic for TV Guide and People, creator of Entertainment Weekly, Sunday Editor of the NY Daily News, and a columnist on the San Francisco Examiner -- maybe a worthy guest on the subject) has a weblog that has been championing your situation as a symptom of the larger issues of creeping (creepy) nannyism, and the "culture of offense" that says if anyone is offended by something, it must be bad for everyone. Jeff has taken to include the tagline "It's not about Howard. It's about you." A few samples here, here, and here.

While people like Maher and other broadcasters disappoint, people like Jeff give serious thought and commentary on it. He's even inspired me to some comparatively weak (and largely unread, unlike Jeff) attempts at my own personal blogging on the subject as well.

Anyway, I've rambled enough. Thanks for 20 years of radio entertainment. Good luck in whatever path you take. A lot of us will follow.

f Bush
f Powell
f the American Taliban

-- Frank Patrick

March 09, 2004

Starting a Movement

Starting a Movement -- Unfortunately, when most people who don't listen to the guy see the words "Howard Stern" and "movement" near each other, they probably expect to see the word "bowel" as well. The situation that Stern finds himself in these days, however, is about bigger things, like freedom from governmental and religious-right nannies.

This morning, Howard was talking about concerts (to benefit Rock the Vote) and a "march on Washington" over the current attack on free expression. Unfortunately, in those ideas, I think Howard is showing his age. Thinking about this, I'm reminded of an account of another movement, written almost 40 years ago...
You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he's really sick and they won't take him. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony, they may think they're both faggots and they won't take either of them. And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. They may think it's an organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day, walking in singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. And friends they may thinks it's a movement.
When Arlo Guthrie wrote this stuff, singing songs and marching (walking) were what movements were manifested. In today's Daily Stern, Jeff offers a few simple steps for starting a movement today, using Howard's situation as an example. He suggests that all it takes is...
A weblog to inform his audience -- especially those who cannot now hear him thanks to Clear Channel. It should report on what Stern is saying, on his stand on candidates, on schedules of concerts and rallies, on news from the FCC or candidates. Any volunteers?
> Weblog comments or a forum, where his audience can come together, meet, plan, and talk about their man.
> MeetUps. See yesterday's daily Stern post; there already is a MeetUp for Stern fans and it's essentially unused now. All Stern has to do is promote it once and all of a sudden, Stern fans everywhere will be meeting (at bars; forget the cafes).
> Audio and video. Stern can't and won't stream his show on the Internet, for that would undercut his radio stations. But he could put up a few segments on this topic as MP3s; I guarantee they would be spread all over the Internet in an instant.
> Merchandise. Stern has always refused to rip off his audience with Stern mugs. But this is different: It's a movement. And movements need bumperstickers, T-shirts, and buttons to show how big the movement is. Stern can use CafePress.
> Digital stuff. Stern's audience creates brilliant song parodies and such. So set them loose on the cause (a la MoveOn): Have them create commercials and songs and posters and just give them a placee to share all that.
All this can be set up in a day: A TypePad weblog, a MeetUp, a page with audio and video files, a store. (Bababooey: I'll tell you everything you need to know.)
This needs to be about more than Stern, of course, to draw a larger digital coalition of those against Bush and Clear Channel and censorship.
Of course, if Stern can do this, any famous person with the ability to promote a cause and a URL can do the same. Celebrity gains new power.
Of course there's nothing to stop us from singing a few choruses of Alice's Restaurant at the Meet-ups, or, for that matter, on the electronic steps of the FCC.
FCC Commissioners...
Michael Powell Michael.Powell@fcc.gov
Kathleen Q. Abernathy: Kathleen.Abernathy@fcc.gov
Michael J. Copps: Michael.Copps@fcc.gov
Kevin J. Martin: KJMWEB@fcc.gov
Jonathan S. Adelstein: Jonathan.Adelstein@fcc.gov
(And don't forget your congressional reps.)
So, with a minor modification to the chorus...
...that's what it is, the Alice's Restaurant Anti-Massacre Movement, and all you got to do to join is sing it the next time it come's around on the guitar.

With feeling.

So we'll wait for it to come around on the guitar, here and sing it when it does.

Here it comes.

You can SAY anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
You can SAY anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
Walk right in it's around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can SAY anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
Talk about showing one's age.

A Couple Random Questions

A Couple Random Question on recent pop culture events that have turned into socio-political events.
How come the wardrobe malfunction is always described in terms of the black woman who was ostensibly embarrassed by the event, and not in terms of the white boy who disrobed her?

Behind which pillars were the gospel writers hiding while taking notes on the conversations between the Jewish leaders and the Romans? (Who was blogging Pilate and the San Hedren?)
Unfocused minds want to know.

March 08, 2004

More on Stern

More on Stern -- From Doc and Jeff.

Those of us who listen to Howard on regular basis know he's a lot more than tits and bits.

He is one of the honest people in media, telling things as he sees them, as well as when he changes his mind on how he sees things. In the past he's supported NY/NJ Republicans galore: Pataki, Whitman (who turned against him on Bill Maher's show), Giuliani, and D'Amato. In the aftermath of 9/11, he was a rabid supporter of Bush, as we almost all were. He was also for the invasion of Iraq, as maybe less of us were. Obviously, he's having second thoughts about the Connecticut Texan. And he tells us. And he tells us why.

Even my wife, who is far more socially conservative than I, has, for a long time, appreciated the honest, forthright social observations that came between the naughty bits between 6 and 11 weekday mornings. If you want to hear what Stern is really all about, listen to the first hour of the show, in which he's usually riffing on the day's news or on the interactions of his core cast.

People, whether they like Howard or not, listen to him to hear what he'll say next. Hopefully, he'll be able to have a "next" to say something in - at least until he decides he doesn't have anything else worth saying, not when some small-minded political bureaucrat decides for him, or more offensively, for us.

March 06, 2004

It's the First Amendment, Stupid

It's the First Amendment, Stupid -- More good comments and links on Clear Channel, Howard Stern, Bush politics, the religious right, and the silliness over alleged "indecency" from Jeff Jarvis. Also, similar content from Instapundit Glenn Fleishman.

I particularly like the concept of the F'edCC's investigation and imminent attacks on Stern as a "retroactive lifetime achievement award" that Glenn passes along. They can't nail him for anything of consequence recently, so they have to go back three years.

March 05, 2004

Evil

Evil -- Jeff Jarvis discusses some commentary on Gibson's Passion and comments:
"Eli Wiesel has said, famously, that you cannot bring theater to the Holocaust or the Holocaust to theater. The reason: You simply never portray evil as evil enough."
It might not be good enough for Weisel, but the HBO movie, Conspiracy, with Kenneth Branagh and Stanley Tucci, about the "strategic planning session" for dealing with "the Jewish problem," portrays, without showing a single withered concentration camp victim or drop of blood, about the most chilling, cold-hearted evil I've ever seen in theatre or in life.