Thursday, September 25, 2008

We are not in Kansas anymore

I don’t know about the rest of America, but I’m getting ticked off. New York City’s in a slump. We’ve never had so many babies, so much competition for the few spaces in private schools, so little money for public education, controversial rezoning, a budget deficit the size of a small galaxy, crumbling infrastructure, winter coming on, Brett Favre is maybe injured, the Knicks look like amateurs, and my co-op board, some of whom have caused the largest-scale financial heist ever in the name of Free Capitalism, are flexing their pathetic muscles in the face of their poorer but less guilty neighbors.

What is there to look forward to? Obama’s numbers are shaky, his opponent is avoiding the debate which could boost democratic ratings. Universal digital television? A rebate for the new compulsory digital boxes? Discounts for welfare recipients? It is a fact that in tough economic times people anesthetize themselves with entertainment. So how about my latest TV network pitch? Maverick TV. Or better, Automatic Pilot. A weekly or nightly show which will air a different entertainment or pilot every single night. Reality shows, unreality shows…. drama, comedy, live art, eating contests,whatever.

As I was leaving my building today, I ran into a pissed-off woman in an expensive suit who’d been dropped by a taxi on 96th Street, instead of 69th. She was frantically hailing a vehicle and casting racial aspersions on the driver who’d fleeced her of 27 blocks’ worth of extra fare. Maybe, I suggested to her, she got a driver who read from right to left. Or better yet, a dyslexic driver. Her open-mouthed response inspired me to create the first pilot: Dyslexic Taxi Driver. The possibilities are endless. Spinoffs include Dyslexic Candidates, Money Managers and Cooking Shows. Fun.

Next I read an article about renaming streets in New York as memorials. Now that our city budget is cutting major corners, how about commemorating dead celebrity love affairs--- ex-boyfriends? One Tree Hilton. A sapling for every block.

Forget about Fantasy Sports Leagues…how about Fantasy Diagnosis? We’ll go into the hospitals and raise stakes for the doctors who get the right answers. Improve our medical statistics. Pay for health insurance.

How about NickName that Person? John McCain could be Mickey C. And his reverse-sexist sidekick—Robin. Or America’s Biggest Loser, Republican Version? Deal or No Deal, starring Henry Paulson. Wall Street Poker so we can have a glimpse of the way these guys actually operate. Or Exposed—that MTV show, with the investment bankers hooked up to the lie detectors. Judge Judy— Wall Street Version. That one will have to run 24/7. Stupid Politician Tricks...The Simpsons—starring OJ...and for the women, The Witches of East Hampton featuring the bitch-wife of the Wall Street criminal who sits on my board, the one who presses a little remote in the shape of a cellphone and texts her husband his lines. Sitting next to her last night was like plastic surgery without anesthesia.

Not to mention actual Law and Order which could hypothetically round up these financial criminals and recupe the money they stole in excessive bonuses and spending. Unlock their offshore bank accounts and liquidate vacation homes. Donate. I’ll bet we could find a good part of that $700 billion right here in Manhattan. I want to know why you don't see the Bear Stearns CEOs begging for change? They are still in those oversized apartments in my co-op, leaking onto others' ceilings, finding clever ways to fleece their neighbors and fast-track maintenance contributions into pretentious funds and projects while they line their own accountable pockets. Are there no mirrors? No shadows? These guys need to be held down and have a soul sewn onto their body. And pay the price. Ad nauseam.

TV or no TV, it all comes down to justice. At least some of the honest disgusted shareholders in my building raised their fists last night. Come on, Democrats….these financial wizards are running the American co-op into the ground. They are using your sweat and blood to pay for their luxury vacations and golf club memberships. And they are criminals. We need a Kansas-style tornado to lift the house of Democracy up and drop it on the Wicked Witch of economic corruption. It’s our money; don’t fall for another trick. And don’t wait too long and watch too much fantasy TV or you’ll find Maverick Mickey C behind the curtain at the controls of the Great and Terrible US of A.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Seeing the Last Candidate Standing

I drove upstate to visit my son who is finally at college… to verify that he wasn’t actually calling from downtown Manhattan while he described American Politics seminars and the shockingly cold mornings in the upstate boondocks where he is enrolled.

$200 worth of overpriced gas later, I found he was there. And mentioned in passing that 9 of 20 students in American Politics 42 days from the Election had no idea who Joe Biden was. To be fair, only 6 knew who Todd Palin was. All of them knew John McCain, all of them had seen Jackass the Movie, knew how to pronounce Mariah Carey and Naz. Some of this is just general teenage symptomatic culture syndrome.

But outside the college town, I felt like I was in Middle America. McDonalds, Burger Kings, Shopping Malls, white people. Bad movies in the theatres, no ethnic food besides the Taco Plate at Friendly’s. Maybe I stayed too near the highway, but not much tempted me. McCain signs on too many houses. Mullets. The air was fresh and clean, but the smell was distinctly a little Republican. Americans by default. Ethnicity seemed to make these people nervous. Even imported beer.

And something about these people depressed me. True, they seemed to have roots. They seemed fairly unmoved by scandals on Wall Street and except for prices at the pumps, they didn’t seem too riled up by a movement for change. But they seemed ‘stuck’. Resigned. Not unhappy, not happy. Generally not too bothered about much except the Buffalo Bills. A little overweight, slow-moving, no one jogging or even walking except to and from their vehicle.

At a Freshman parents’ meeting the various school administrators advised us to cut parental umbilical cords…to leave the messy rooms alone, let our kids make mistakes. I know my son. I know he, like most Americans, consumes mass media like too much candy. I also know I have raised him to be able to see who the best players are, and that these people don’t always win on reality shows. There are alliances, conspiracies. And even Brett Favre didn’t win the Superbowl. I am not an enabler or a manipulator of media. I am all for clarity.

So I cleaned his room. He and his nice roommate from a tiny rural town in Pennsylvania. I separated piles of clean and dirty clothes, the garbage and papers, the discarded Gatorade bottles, old food, wrappers…wadded up paper, used Kleenex, dirt. I threw out 3 loads of trash and recycled containers. I swept and discarded. So he could see. We found a wallet. We found a paper he’d written and lost. We found keys. Sometimes it’s necessary to let a little water out so you can find the drowning baby.

A message to all the media: equal time for candidates? For the first time I side with Oprah. She gets that some Americans need a clean room in order to see. Is it fair that the CEO of AIG gets 7 million dollars for tanking a company and bilking millions of people? Is it his fault? I don’t see these CEOs cleaning up. I don’t feel sorry for a single one of them. Nor for many of the employees who collected annually more money than the average whole rural American family will earn in a lifetime. Too many of these Wall Street boys pretended to be teenagers, hid under the piles of garbage and pocketed the cash. The people in small towns are both seeing and not seeing this. They are maybe watching but not seeing much about the Republicans except Sarah Palin’s super-organized hockey-Mom façade and John McCain’s Protect-Your-Family blather like an ad for a massive burglar alarm. They like hockey. They like guns. Their sons get drafted when they finish football season.

Most of all, we need a way to find the Best Candidate Standing. To make sure that this is not a reality show standoff and to make sure the 90% of Americans who need help cleaning the room in their brain are able to see through the constant media garbage dump and can find their wallets and the keys to their house and their sense of what’s right. Of what’s true. This has become tougher than cracking the da Vinci code. Or simply cleaning a room, or the massive mess of Wall Street which has caused nearly as many casualties as our 9/11. And the sick after-effects. Some of these after-effects are imbedded in the Republican platform.

We might not be able to clean our own rooms, or our own homes, or our own psychological mess, but we need to clean the media air enough to see what is real. Not easy. We have the feminist issue to muck up the mix further. This is a trick. The promise you get on your computer screen so you click and let the virus in. Come on America. You’re smarter than you know. You understand the complicated rules of football. The Last Candidate standing. Help clear the crap so we can let the tall man win this time.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008


Post-hiatus… Post DNC and RNC. By very select popular demand and against the cautionary advice of a well-respected Manhattan Psychiatrist’s warning that this kind of scripted writerless babble is not only useless and unhealthy but demeaning.

I will not condescend to allow Sarah Palin center stage. I have read Eve Ensler and listened to Joy Behar rant on CNN about our pin-up-ready VP candidate. Don John and Pretty Betty. Okay—Obama is a little slick and affectedly comfortable, and how can a man with hair transplants and a terrible mouth renovation be second in command? Simply, there is the terrifying and wrong choice, and the reasonably intelligent one.

I have sworn not to be political. A little pathetic that half the male voters in America will not be political and will have pictured the Republican VP candidate in Victoria’s Secret catalogue-wear. Convenient to resemble Tina Fey whom the under-educated TV-addicted public confuse with one of her SNL characters. She, at least, can write and is smart. In an age of ear-microphones and remote prompting, who knows where the Sarah Palin version of mind is at? And that of John McCain, the bobble-headed GI Joe Grandpa-doll who chose to package himself with the dollest possible running mate. Chemistry? Somehow I can’t really imagine John McCain having ‘chemistry’ with a male partner. Next to whom his limited intelligence would have set off alarms-like a grenade at JFK.

What-ever. Miss perfect marriage/great body/not-a-strand out of place. I’d like to know who colors her hair. And what exactly is her prescription and whether she removes these glasses for sex and what position she prefers and why she’s so fetus-friendly but shoots animal mothers. I’d like to ask her what she thinks about that girl on 99th Street who was raped at the age of 11 in the 4th grade and has an IQ of 50 and cut the feet off her doll because its shoes got dirty. I’d like to have her spend a few weeks in East Harlem in a one-bedroom with 5 kids without the $60 per diem and a school where the average reading level in 6th grade is NOT.

Let’s face it… would this woman be newsworthy if she was ugly? Of course not. The religion of default in the good old US, sad as it is, is the culture of face. Not the Japanese kind, but the top-model variety. The fact that celebrity image has so far exceeded substance that one must create a magazine icon in order to penetrate American households without books and brains but plenty of large-screen TVs and ipods. Obama… we all agree, in addition to having a brain and the ability to speak without an ear-prompt, has celebrity points. His wife came off as beautiful. Mrs. McCain, we must allow, doesn’t detract from her husband’s TV presence. And he is rarely on camera without the Barbie factor. After all, America loved the Stepford Wives.. .weren’t there like 3 follow-ups? Isn’t Desperate Housewives just the 21st Century version?

I’d actually like to offer Sarah Palin a role on Desperate Housewives… maybe just a cameo… as a Gynecologist… or a Pole Dancer. To shake America out of this fantasy they all have of McCain as a short James Bond and the Alaskan babe as his sexy smart consort. Or the Terminator fantasy. Ask any average American to free-associate the name Sarah… first thing is the Sarah Connor thing. But the Sarah I am thinking about is the wife of Abraham…the one who bore him children late in life. The one who didn’t run for office as the babe-candidate months after giving birth to a Down’s Syndrome baby who in any normal family would require extra maternal care and patience that might possibly impinge upon the lengthy Jessica-Simpson hair-styling and make-up application time.

Come on, America…is the 2009 coming of HD to every home anticipated with more excitement than the reality that we are confusing Pretty Betty and Desperate Veteran with leadership and American Ingenuity? In the theatre of Politics and elections, there are no balconies. Let’s get real and leave this woman where she belongs—in a magazine spread, on an NRA fashion-show runway—defused, overdressed, returned to sender, being booed at a Moose Rights Convention. After all, she is a self-confessed Hockey Mom. Let her eat reindeer meat and nurse her baby and pay for White Alaskan Christmas cards out of the state pocketbook.

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