Thursday, September 30, 2010

The future will run on bull****

Broadcasting-Telecasting, Feb. 1, 1954, Page 70

As you sit in your neighborhood coffee emporium, reaching for your next free latté from the replicator next to your overplush chair as you watch a holographic YouTube video emanating from your atomic-powered iPad, perhaps it would be enlightening to ponder the origins of the technological nirvana of our present age.

Looking at this issue of Broadcasting-Telecasting from way back in 1954, we can see that RCA Chairman David Sarnoff was prophetic as he told the gathered press about the 20-year atomic batteries now powering all our portable electronic devices. About the clean, safe atomic batteries now powering our homes for years upon years -- absolutely free -- for just the low, low cost of the initial purchase.

Never again would the American homeowner have to suffer through a power outage. Never again would consumption or economic limitations be placed upon the American consumer.

Nineteen fifty-four. It was the beginning of not only Atoms for Peace, but also Atoms for Prosperity.

Honey! Hand me the ray gun, will you? No, the garden spider is trying to eat the dog again -- it's already crushed the doghouse trying to get at Rover.


By the way, dear, that dress you're wearing really does something for your tumors. Yeah, the backlight effect on the fabric is really cool.

What Would William F. Buckley Do?

Love him or hate him -- agree with him or disagree -- no one could say the late William F. Buckley, father of the equally late conservative movement, wasn't a serious and thoughtful man.

As it turns out, those present-day "conservatives" who presume to freeload off the legacy of Buckley and the other political "grown-ups" of years gone by stand upon their backs much as does a "monkey" upon the back of a junkie. It's there, it's unwanted, it's destructive, and you just can't shake it.

That's where a once-serious political movement lies today -- in the gutter, enraged and puking all over itself, desperate for just one more fix of stupid. And its friends -- Moe, Larry and Curly -- don't even notice its in a world of hurt.

They're sexting pictures of their genitalia to Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter.

CONSIDER, as you read this CNN report about the latest misadventure of the right wing's Pimp Boy, James O'Keefe, that it has been a mere 59 years between God and Man at Yale and this sorry spectacle:
For months, CNN had been following a group of young conservative activists, including Christian Hartsock, the director of the music video. The activists will be featured in a documentary, "Right on the Edge," that will air October 2 and 3.

Hartsock said O'Keefe did not want CNN to shoot on the set of the music video, but said he would encourage O'Keefe to call CNN to discuss the request.

O'Keefe called Boudreau on August 10. During the conversation, he said he preferred that Boudreau meet him in person in Maryland and asked that she come alone.

"I just want to talk," O'Keefe told Boudreau on the phone. "I just want to have a, you know, meeting with you, and talk to you face to face about this. Because, I don't, I feel sort of, let's just say reserved about, about letting people into my sort of inner sanctum, about letting, letting people sort of take a glimpse into, into, behind the scenes, so that's why you know, I just feel more comfortable if it was just me and you and we just had a face-to-face meeting before I agree to, to let you guys come out and shoot the video shoot out there."

The phone call was recorded without Boudreau's knowledge, but CNN obtained a copy of the recording after O'Keefe e-mailed it to friends and colleagues. Boudreau agreed to the meeting, which she understood would be in his office.

"The purpose of the meeting was to explain [the CNN story] in person to James," Boudreau said.

CNN was forwarded an e-mail, sent from O'Keefe's e-mail address, to the executive director of Project Veritas, Izzy Santa; and two conservative activists, Ben Wetmore of New Orleans and Jonathon Burns of St. Louis, Missouri, dated after the call with Boudreau.

"Getting Closer," the e-mail states. "Audio attached conversation with Abbie. What do you think of her reaction guys. She said she could do it Monday, Tuesday. Ben, you think I could get her on the boat?"

Boudreau flew to Baltimore, Maryland, on August 17, rented a car, and drove to suburban Lusby, where O'Keefe wanted to meet. O'Keefe sent a text message to Boudreau that morning, saying that Santa would meet her when she got there.

When Boudreau arrived at the address, a house located on a tributary of the Patuxent River, Santa approached her with a tape recorder in her hand and said she wanted to talk in the car, Boudreau said.

"I noticed she had a little bit of dirt on her face, her lip was shaking, she seemed really uncomfortable and I asked her if she was OK," Boudreau said. "The first thing she basically said to me was, 'I'm not recording you, I'm not recording you. Are you recording me?' I said, 'No, I'm not recording you,' and she showed me her digital recorder and it was not recording."

Santa told Boudreau that O'Keefe planned to "punk" her by getting on a boat where hidden cameras were set up. Boudreau said she would not get on the boat and asked Santa why O'Keefe wanted her there.

"Izzy told me that James was going to be dressed up and have strawberries and champagne on the boat, and he was going to hit on me the whole time," Boudreau said.

A short time later, O'Keefe emerged from a boat docked behind the house. In that brief conversation, Boudreau told O'Keefe that he did not have permission to record her, and reminded him that the meeting was solely to discuss the upcoming music video shoot, and he had never mentioned that he wanted to tape their meeting.

Boudreau ended the meeting and left. After the incident, Santa gave CNN a series of e-mails she says shows O'Keefe intended to try to embarrass both the network and Boudreau through an elaborate plan.

The day of the meeting, she wrote to someone she described as a financial donor to Project Veritas. She would not identify the individual.

"I have a problem on my hands that I think has the potential for unnecessary backlash," Santa wrote. "Today, James is meeting with a CNN correspondent today on his boat. She is doing a piece on the movement of young conservative filmmakers.

"She doesn't know she is getting on a boat but rather James' office. James has staged the boat to be a palace of pleasure with all sorts of props, wants to have a bizarre sexual conversation with her. He wants to gag CNN."

She wrote that "the idea is incredibly bad" and "the more I think about it we should not be doing this."

O'Keefe had also instructed Santa to print a "pleasure palace graphic" on a large poster, according to an e-mail.

CNN later obtained a copy of a 13-page document titled "CNN Caper," which appears to describe O'Keefe's detailed plans for that day.

"The plans appeared so outlandish and so juvenile in tone, I questioned whether it was part of a second attempted punk," Boudreau said.

But in a phone conversation, Santa confirmed the document was authentic. Listed under "equipment needed," is "hidden cams on the boat," and a "tripod and overt recorder near the bed, an obvious sex tape machine."

Among the props listed were a "condom jar, dildos, posters and paintings of naked women, fuzzy handcuffs" and a blindfold.

According to the document, O'Keefe was to record a video of the following script before Boudreau arrived: "My name is James. I work in video activism and journalism. I've been approached by CNN for an interview where I know what their angle is: they want to portray me and my friends as crazies, as non-journalists, as unprofessional and likely as homophobes, racists or bigots of some sort....

"Instead, I've decided to have a little fun. Instead of giving her a serious interview, I'm going to punk CNN. Abbie has been trying to seduce me to use me, in order to spin a lie about me. So, I'm going to seduce her, on camera, to use her for a video. This bubble-headed-bleach-blonde who comes on at five will get a taste of her own medicine, she'll get seduced on camera and you'll get to see the awkwardness and the aftermath.

"Please sit back and enjoy the show."
OH, WE'RE enjoying the "show," all right. We're really enjoying the show.

I wonder what they'll call it? Beavis and Butthead Do Fascism?

Your Daily '80s: Strawberry Square

Strawberry Square, produced by what in the 1980s was the Nebraska ETV Network, may be the explanation for any strange behavior exhibited by people from the ages of 36 to, perhaps, a decade younger.

This 1981 episode of the instructional program, aimed at early elementary students, is . . . is . . . is . . . aw, hell, it was the '80s, people! I don't know what to make of it, and you don't either.

It may or may not make more sense if you're wearing an Izod polo shirt. Pink. Maybe pastel green.

Oh . . . the little girl in the show?

Here she is today.

Your Daily '80s: A special 1975 edition

Before there were the 1980s, there were the 1970s.

Here, submitted for your approval, is a big heapin' helpin' of 1975, courtesy of the Big 91,
WLCS, and the pilot of Baton Rouge's afternoon-drive airwaves, Don Simon. Enjoy.

And boogie on, reggae woman.
Or something like that.

The banality -- and stupidity -- of evil

DUUUUUDE! My roomie is sooooo gay!


Watch the webcam, dude!
He has no idea, man!

Lookit, I'm putting it on the video chat. Dare you to watch. LOL!

I ought to watch this stoned, dude. This is soooooo f***in' FUNNY!

AH . . . THOSE college hijunks, right? Just a little routine fun for a generation brought up on moral relativism and a deluge of Internet porn, right?

This deadly serious
Associated Press story out of Rutgers begs to differ:
A college student jumped to his death off a bridge a day after authorities say two classmates surreptitiously recorded him having sex with a man in his dorm room and broadcast it over the Internet.

Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi jumped from the George Washington Bridge last week, said his family's attorney, Paul Mainardi. Police recovered a man's body Wednesday afternoon in the Hudson River just north of the bridge, and authorities were trying to determine if it was Clementi's.

ABC News and The Star-Ledger of Newark reported that Clementi left on his Facebook page on Sept. 22 a note that read: "Jumping off the gw bridge sorry." On Wednesday, his Facebook page was accessible only to friends.

Two Rutgers freshmen have been charged with illegally taping the 18-year-old Clementi having sex and broadcasting the images via an Internet chat program.

Steven Goldstein, chairman of the gay rights group Garden State Equality, said in a statement Wednesday that his group considers Clementi's death a hate crime.

"We are heartbroken over the tragic loss of a young man who, by all accounts, was brilliant, talented and kind," Goldstein said. "And we are sickened that anyone in our society, such as the students allegedly responsible for making the surreptitious video, might consider destroying others' lives as a sport."

It wasn't immediately clear what Clementi's sexual orientation was, and a call asking the family's lawyer about it was not immediately returned Wednesday.

One of the defendants, Dharun Ravi, was Clementi's roommate, Mainardi told The Star-Ledger. The other defendant is Molly Wei. Ravi and Wei could face up to five years in prison if they are convicted.


A Twitter account belonging to a Ravi was recently deleted, but in a cached version retained through Google he sent a message on Sept. 19: "Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly's room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay."

Two days later, he wrote on Twitter: "Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes it's happening again."
GAY-RIGHTS groups will argue this was an affront against the rights and dignity of gays and lesbians everywhere. That is an incomplete -- and self-serving -- take on such monstrous behavior so casually undertaken.

This act of personal destruction, as sophomoric and banal as it was consequential, was an affront against
human rights and dignity. If the spied-upon roommate had been an 18-year-old female engaged in heterosexual relations, then had been labeled a slut and made fun of . . . all of it live on the Internet in an amateur attempt at pornographic "reality TV" -- and then had become so distraught she took a flying leap off a high bridge, would the whole situation be any less horrific?

Would the crime be any less heinous?

Should the alleged perps, if convicted, get only three months in prison instead of five years?

I didn't think so.

You know, my greatest fear about this generation is it may be one that's lost its grip on dignity. On very old-fashioned notions such as "propriety" and "modesty."

I fear my generation has raised its children to respect all things (and people) in theory, none in practice. May God have mercy on us all.

Not that we deserve it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

If Lee Terry could run against himself. . . .

A crazed gunman walked into an Omaha hospital today, hours after leading police on a high-speed chase when lawmen foiled his mad scheme to gun down his in-laws.

And death roamed the corridors.

In the dark Nebraska predawn,
the gunman assaulted his terrified wife at a hunt club they owned near a small northeastern Nebraska town. Who did she want to die first? Cold blue steel was pressed to her head.

Who did she want to die first, her mother or her sister?

It's midday in Omaha. The scene: a busy medical center near downtown. Two police officers find the man -- gun in hand -- standing at a pay phone near the hospital cafeteria.

THEY CONFRONT him. He answered with a fusillade of hot lead. The officers are hit, but fate has spared them grievous wounds.

They return fire, mortally wounding Jeffrey Layten.

Jeffrey Layten: Hospital shooter. Wife beater. Foiled murder plotter.

He could have been al Qaida in a pickup, if not for the bravery displayed by American police officers in the line of fire. And Lee Terry -- CONGRESSMAN Lee Terry -- thinks he was a great guy:

"I have known Jeff for years and hunted on his property many times. Jeff has always been an easy-going person," Terry whined to the Omaha press corps, "and today’s episode is very out of character for him."

WHAT IS the "character" of a crazed would-be killer, Congressman? And what is the character of a gun-happy Republican politician who "hunts" with domestic terrorists?

Call Lee Terry's office at (202) 225-4155 and tell the congressman you're sick of his tolerance for domestic terrorism. Tell Lee Terry he's too extreme for law-abiding Nebraskans, and that his criminal-coddling ways will come to an abrupt end this November.

Stop Lee Terry before more of his "easy-going" friends put their blue-steel barrels of terror to
your head.

* * *

This message is paid for by the One Good Turn Foundation, and Lee Terry should approve of our methods.
We're just taking a page out of his playbook, after all.

More Daily '80s: Pirate radio in Brooklyn!

Pirate radio station WGUT rings in 1983 -- a very good year -- with its blowtorch 50-watt illegal signal reaching all the way to . . . Michigan?

It may be telling that pirate radio in 1983 was more professional and entertaining than professional radio today. It's kind of like we're all stumbling about on The Day After, only it didn't take nuclear war to get us this way.

Your Daily '80s: NewsCenter (198)3 Update

Tonight on NewsCenter 3 at 10, what it's like to be a policewoman.

It's 1983 in Omaha, and in this clip we also get to see what it was like before
KMTV was Channel Third.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lies, damn lies and Lee Terry's mailers

So this is what Rep. Lee Terry was cooking up in our nation's capital when the pretty lady lobbyist got him "so drunk."

Latch on to that excuse, Congressman. The New York Post -- no friend to your political opposition -- will vouch for you.

The other explanation for this one is that Terry is a contemptible liar --
even by Republican-politician standards -- and has no honor at all. When one speaks of "no honor at all," it's usually referencing something like blatantly slandering the opposition in November's U.S. House race in Nebraska's 2nd District.

IN A FLIER aimed at pro-life Democrats, Terry alleges that state Sen. Tom White "supports taxpayer abortion on demand." In the strange, strange world of Lee Terry, this is what constitutes supporting using "your tax dollars to pay for abortions on demand":

White on Monday described the health care reform package approved by the House as "far from perfect, but better than continuing with the status quo."

That, he said, matches the assessment of Omaha investment icon Warren Buffett as well as his own experiences as a cancer survivor and small business owner.

"Now it's time for Congress to turn to fixing the economy, getting our fiscal house in order, and restoring the economic and job growth the country so desperately needs," White said.

(Lincoln Journal-Star)

I SUPPOSE there's room for Terry to go even lower in this election battle, but I don't know whether he could stay out of jail in the process.

The "abortion on demand" slur about health-care reform goes back to the epic battle over the legislation passed in March. And, frankly, the only people who buy it are GOP pols (for obvious, and cynical, reasons), their wholly-owned subsidiaries within the politicized "pro-life" movement and the nation's Catholic bishops.

To get there, the bishops and the "pro-life" groups had to make some pretty paranoid and wild assumptions about what the legislation would do. That ground has been well covered, including on this blog.

In brief, academics who specialize in health-care law have said the Republican pols, the professional pro-lifers and the bishops are nuts if they think what Terry and his ilk slur as "ObamaCare" provides taxpayer subsidies for "abortion on demand."

To be even briefer, what we have in this electoral silly season are lies, damned lies, and whatever Lee Terry is mailing out to pro-life Democrats. Actually, we knew it was coming. It was on the Politics Daily website just the other day:
With a state unemployment rate in August of 4.6 percent (the third lowest in the nation, thanks to a booming agricultural economy) and Omaha itself at just 4.9 percent, the 2nd District has been spared much of the I'll-never-work-again despair that shapes politics in most of America.

As Lee Terry knows all too well, he represents the most hotly contested individual congressional district in the 2008 presidential election. Because Nebraska awards an electoral vote to the winner of each congressional district, the Obama campaign mounted a successful crusade to pluck off a surprise pickup in a state that has been stoutly Republican in presidential politics since 1964. Terry, whose victory margin was held to 52 percent amid the Obama upset, acknowledged with blunt honesty that the Democrats "had one heck of a ground game that got people registered and practically eliminated the Republican advantage in the district."

Comparatively inexpensive ad rates (about $75,000 a week for 1,000 gross rating points) allow White (who had $532,000 cash on hand at the June) to be competitive with the incumbent (who had $787,000 in the bank) on Omaha television. Both candidates, who went on the air late last month, have each committed to buying at least $400,000 in additional TV time before November. Terry plans to press his financial advantage through radio advertising and sending out about 300,000 mailings. For example, even though both candidates are anti-abortion in this roughly 40-percent Catholic district, the Terry campaign is readying a special direct-mail piece aimed at pro-life Democrats.

Two elements make the TV narrative here in the Omaha area slightly different than the cookie-cutter national norms. Because of the comparatively low local unemployment rate, the economic crisis that both candidates decry is the national debt rather than lost jobs. A Terry spot slammed his opponent for supporting the economic stimulus and the overall goals of the Obama health-care bill and claimed, as a result, that the difference between the two candidates was "2 trillion dollars" and that White intended to pay for it "with higher taxes and more debt." White's first ad began with the candidate starring directly into the camera and declaring, "When you look at the debt that both parties in Washington keep piling on our kids, it's just wrong."

White never identifies himself as a Democrat. Instead, in his ads he is vaguely identified as "a different kind of leader for Nebraska" and "Nebraska independence for Congress." Asked about a lack of a party label in his ads, White said candidly, "This is not a year where that's effective. Nor is it ever. You have to understand in my whole career, I have never run as a Democrat. The legislature is entirely non-partisan."

A national Republican strategist calls the 2008 bank bailout vote "the one symbol of anti-incumbency that has a chance of working against incumbent Republicans." Small wonder that Tom White has gone after his rival for his vote in favor of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) in an ad that claims "Washington politicians like Lee Terry . . . voted for wasteful spending like the Wall Street bailout." Asked about the TARP vote, Terry said, "I really thought it would cost me the [2008] election."
AND I GUESS we all knew Terry would go as low as he did in slurring White as a radical pro-abort. All we had to do was remember what the Republicans threw at Jim Esch in the fall of '08.

White certainly figured Terry's GOP slime machine was warming up. Just after the Terry mailer hit this pro-life Catholic Democrat's mailbox this afternoon, this robocall from White hit my answering machine:

I SECOND that emotion.

And I grieve for the truth, murdered yet again by a "pro-life" politician who will do -- and say -- any damnable thing to keep sucking at the taxpayer teat on Capitol Hill.

Afghanistan Now


One of the "Afghanistan Now" suspects is a soldier from Wasilla?

I guess Sarah Palin not only can see Russia from up there in Alaska, but
My Lai, too.

Here's something from ABC News that only reinforces the view that Afghanistan is the new Vietnam War. In every way that made the Vietnam War the Vietnam War:

Dressed in a t-shirt and Army shorts, a 22-year-old corporal from Wasilla, Alaska casually describes on a video tape made by military investigators how his unit's "crazy" sergeant randomly chose three unarmed, innocent victims to be murdered in Afghanistan.

Corporal Jeremy N. Morlock is one of five GI's charged with pre-meditated murder in a case that includes allegations of widespread drug use, the collection of body parts and photos of the U.S. soldiers holding the Afghan bodies like hunter's trophies.

All five soldiers were part of the 5th Stryker Combat Brigade, of the 2nd Infantry Division, based at Ft. Lewis-McChord, Washington. In charging documents released by the Army, the military alleges that the five, Staff Sgt. Calvin R. Gibbs, Spec Adam C. Winfield, Spec. Michael S. Wagnon II, Pfc. Andrew H. Holmes and Morlock were involved in one or more of three murders that took place between January and May of this year.

Lawyers and family members of the soldiers say they all intend to fight the charges.

An Article 32 hearing for Morlock, the military equivalent of a grand jury, is scheduled later today at Fort Lewis-McChord, Washington.

On the tape, obtained by ABC News, Morlock admits his role in the deaths of three Afghans but claims the plan was organized by his unit's sergeant, Calvin Gibbs, who is also charged with pre-meditated murder.

"He just really doesn't have any problems with f---ing killing these people," Morlock said on tape as he laid out the scenario he said the sergeant used to make it seem the civilians were killed in action.

"And so we identify a guy. Gibbs makes a comment, like, you know, you guys wanna wax this guy or what?" Morlock told military investigators during an interview videotaped in May at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.

The corporal said Gibbs gave orders to open fire on the civilian at the same time Gibbs threw a hand grenade at the victim.

"He pulled out one of his grenades, an American grenade, you know, popped it, throws it, tells me where to go to whack this guy, kill this guy, kill this guy," Morlock told the investigators.

Morlock said Sergeant Gibbs carried a Russian grenade to throw next to the body of the dead Afghan, to make it seem he was about to attack the American soldiers.

The corporal said he opened fire as directed, fearful of not following Gibbs' orders.

"It's definitely not the right thing to do," Morlock told the investigators. "But I mean, when you got a squad leader bringing you into that, that type of real, that mindset, and he believes that you're on board with that, there's definitely no way you wanted him to think otherwise."

The investigator asked Morlock, "Because you felt maybe the next shot might be coming your way?"

"You never know. Exactly," answered Morlock. "I mean Gibbs talked about how easy it is, people disappear on the battlefield all the time."
YOU KNOW, our young barbarians are out there in their own personal Heart of Darkness fighting the Taliban's young barbarians, and the only difference I'm seeing here is that the Taliban's young barbarians a) at least aren't violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice, b) rules of engagement, or c) the Geneva Convention, because they don't have a) or b) and didn't sign on to c).

So who's worse? Their barbarians, who don't know any better but come from a land where life is cheap . . . or ours, who are supposed to know better but operate with minds rotted by violent video games, violent music and a society where life is cheap?

Empire's a bitch. Ask Joseph Conrad.

Or Francis Ford Coppola.

Monday, September 27, 2010

KLMS: It hit Lincoln right

OK, that was a snotty Omaha-centric remark about Lincoln and KLMS in the previous post.
Mea culpa.

As my penance, here's a lot of really cool information about KLMS via a Nebraska Broadcasters Association tribute to the guy who ran it for so long, Lee Thomas.

Your Daily '80s: KLMS!

Down the road a ways from Omaha, in Nebraska's capital city of Lincoln, there once was a Top-40 blowtorch, KLMS.

KLMS was no KOIL, but then again, Lincoln is no Omaha. (What the hell did you expect me to say, Lincolnites?) But rock it did, once upon a time, and now those days when radio was radio are lost to the ages.

But echoes remain, like these 1980 commercials gleaned from

And sports-talk KLMS, still hanging out on 1480 AM, gently weeps.

Good advice, like history, repeats itself

Extremists in politics, hunting for communists, trawl for votes on an ocean of fear.

Soon enough, we see that these demagogues will stop at nothing, just so long as the consequences make folks more fearful, more angry and looking to them for protection against . . . Them.

Soon enough, some journalist calls them on it. And then, the response to the allegation becomes another opportunity to throw red meat to the booboisie.

And the accuser is thrust into the ranks of Them.

Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Tea Party Patriots, Sen. Joseph McCarthy . . . they're pretty much all the same. And how do you deal with them when they try to turn you into Them?

Above is the advice the editors of Broadcasting-Telecasting had in the edition of April 12, 1954. It was good advice in the context of 1954 and Federal Communications Commission "equal time" requirements for broadcasters.

It's good advice now, too. We just need to adapt the principles to the age of the Internet and cable news channels.

Pigs do it . . . dogs do it. . . .

Back in the olden days of Midwestern radio, a "Barn Dance Frolic" was a hillbilly-music program that aired Saturday nights on WHO out of Des Moines, Iowa.

Today in American high schools, including all across the great American midriff, what you see on the dance floor might also be described as a "barn dance frolic." As in,
"Pigs do it, cows do it, even dogs and sheep do it . . . OH MY GOD, BILLY AND MARY ARE DOING IT IN FRONT OF THE WHOLE SCHOOL!"

Well, not exactly. Genitalia remain covered, and the kids call it "dancing."

AND RIGHT HERE in River City, the Omaha World-Herald is talking about how it's giving high-school administrators fits:
The dance style known as grinding — pelvis to pelvis gyrations, typically with the boy behind the girl — has grown popular at high school dances, but several school administrators say it's indecent.

With homecoming season in full swing at Omaha-area high schools, administrators are employing a variety of tactics aimed at cleaning up dirty dancing.

“Every school needs to stop this,” said Jonna Andersen, principal at St. Albert Catholic School in Council Bluffs, who cracked down for this year's homecoming dance.

Andersen warned students ahead of time that they must dance face-to-face, and if they didn't, the music would be stopped. Letters went home alerting parents to the rules, and administrators enlisted help from the homecoming court to encourage students to abide by them.

School officials were concerned about how students might respond, and planned to stop the dance if they didn't comply, she said. But the dance a week ago ended up well-attended, students followed the rules, and they reported having a good time, Andersen said.
ONE MIGHT say that if Catholic schools are having to tell their teenagers that dancing like you're doing it "doggie style" is morally problematic and not decent for public consumption, something has gone horribly wrong with Catholic catechesis and moral training -- both at school and at home --in the preceding decade.

Of course, one also might say that's obvious, so why bring it up? I dunno, maybe it's because "obvious" stroked out and died about 20 years ago.
Back to the story. . . .
Although it's nothing new for young people's dancing to alarm the older generation, Lincoln Southwest High School Principal Rob Slauson said the current trend in dancing goes “way beyond” the days of Elvis Presley gyrating his hips on stage. The students are “simulating sex,” he said.

“We're talking about a situation now where the young lady is facing away from the man, and at times she's putting her hands on the floor, raising her rear end,” he said.

“And in some dances, the girls are wearing short skirts and the guys actually pull the skirts up while they're dancing. And then there's contact between her groin area and his groin area.”

Chaperones have a difficult time policing the dances when students form a circle in the middle of the dance floor and the adults can't see what's going on, he said. High school dances can attract more than a thousand students.

Slauson said he warned students about their dancing before last year's prom. Although the situation improved, they still resisted, he said.

School officials last June decided to step up their response and prohibit guests from other schools at Southwest's dances, with the exception of prom. It's easier for school administrators to discipline their own students than those from other schools, he said.

Slauson said the policy was a “shot across the bow” to let students know the administration was serious about cracking down.
METHINKS "shots across the bow" aren't going to touch on the larger problem -- including what these school administrators are going to be dealing with next year as their student bodies continue to marinate in this sort of cultural stew.

(NOTE: The first "how to" video probably is safe for work. The following teenage application of "grinding" principles definitely isn't -- in fact, it's what we Catholics call a "near occasion of sin." I wouldn't advise watching any more than necessary to get the idea of what kids find acceptable on the dance floor.)

MY FIRST reaction to this stuff is "They have to teach dry humping?"

My second reaction is that what ordinary folk used to consider public indecency -- and still would be considered sexual harassment in the workplace -- is what kids today consider "normal," which pretty much is the end of the line of what we consider
(or at least once considered) "civilization."

Folks, this isn't just another instance of kids "pushing the envelope" and scandalizing the old folks. That ended somewhere short of dry humping.

This is flat-out simulated sex, and the only place to go from here is the real thing.

In public.

At your kid's high school.

Perhaps with your kid.

SO, DON'T GIVE me that crap about Boomers scandalizing the folks with the bump, and bobby-soxers scandalizing great-grandpa by doing the jitterbug. Nobody ever found condoms on the floor after the high-school hop back when TV would only show Elvis Presley from the waist up.

The condoms-on-the-floor thing came from this MSNBC story in February.

What we're dealing with here is mass abandonment of human dignity -- the continuing objectification of human beings, if you will. When you're "grinding" little Susie on the dance floor, you're not enjoying the company (or the beauty) of a wonderful girl with a sparkling personality and winning smile. Instead, you're getting what jollies you can in public with a butt and a vagina -- albeit covered
(for now) -- that happen to have a torso, head and legs attached.

For young women, substitute the appropriate male "features."

(Please. Don't give me that bull about it being "not sexual." I'm not an idiot, and I understand the physiology of, and the stimuli involved with, sexual intercourse.)

Back about the time of the fall of Rome, in a Christmas homily, Pope Leo I reminded the faithful of who and what they were:
Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition. Bear in mind who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Do not forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of God’s kingdom.
THAT'S JUST so much history. Leo the Great has been dead for millennia, and now so is dignity.

And judging by the cultural evidence surrounding us, we even regard ourselves as nothing more than exceptionally intelligent farm animals. Who engage in "barn dance frolics."

If I were a school administrator, I'd be tempted to break up the "freak dancing" with the strategic application of a cattle prod.

It's the only thing animals understand, after all . . . and it's not like the kiddies could complain that I was offending their dignity. That, they -- we -- discarded a while back.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Your Daily '80s: The Gerry Todd Show

Welcome back to Your Daily '80 . . . with an "s" this time, because why not mine the whole darned decade for tasty nuggets, right?

This time on Your Daily '80s, we check in with what was going on in the world of TV comedy. One big thing that was going on was SCTV, and the debut of "The Gerry Todd Show" skit.

SCTV's May 1981 unveiling of the all-night TV "VJ," sitting at the switcher and racking up all the most popular music videos was significant in a couple of prophetic ways.

One, it preceded the debut of
MTV in August 1981 by several months. Yeah, we all saw it coming. By 1981, music videos were nothing new -- a 24-hour channel to air them was.

Two, and this was more prescient -- albeit in a really, really warped way -- the "Tom Monroe" videos on "The Gerry Todd Show" were eerie prefigurements of Paul Anka covering Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Your Daily '80

This is Your Daily '80.

(Hey, you think this should be a daily feature, or what?)

Today's edition of
Your Daily '80 features Split Enz, and their single "I Got You." That this is one of my favorite songs ever is merely coincidental.


Tomorrow: Better than today

After posting this week's edition of 3 Chords & the Truth -- what with my paean to the '80s and "colortinis" -- I got to thinking about the late, great Tom Snyder and his Tomorrow show.

The wasn't anyone the man hadn't interviewed, I don't think. And it was always a late, late show event when he did. Above, we see Snyder with John Lennon on 1975.

AND THEN, with Lennon's producer for Double Fantasy, Jack Douglas. The date: Dec. 9, 1980.

John Lennon had just been murdered the night before.

Douglas said the former Beatle had had a message for people at the dawn of the 1980s.
I think the first single off the album, which was called "Starting Over" -- which we picked while we were doing the album -- was the feeling that he wanted to have for the '80s . . . that we are, in fact, in the '80s, that we are starting over. That it's time to be optimistic about the future. That it's time to write off George Orwell and 1984.

It's time to forget about those things, that in '84, that we can have what we want if we work together and for ourselves.
I MISS an age when we could be so hopeful. Naively hopeful, but hopeful nonetheless.

That was such an improvement over the anger, strife, name calling and hopelessness we wallow in today.

Come back John Lennon.

Come back, Tom Snyder.

We've forgotten how to hope. And we've forgotten how to have a meaningful -- and civil -- conversation. We long to sit back, relax and watch the pictures, now -- hopeful pictures -- as they fly through the air.

Friday, September 24, 2010

3 Chords & the Truth: Sick of the 2000s

Fire up the Tom Snyder videotapes, hand me a colortini and make the postmodern world go away.

I'll take the economy size Box o' 1980s, and you can keep the change. Oh . . . before you go, can you take this box of 2010 out to the dumpster for me?

Well, that pretty much sums up the thrust of my thinking as
3 Chords & the Truth reappears after a week off. Last week, I tried to actually get back to the 1980s -- and 145 pounds -- but it didn't work out.

SO . . . here we are, making do with a sublime '80s New Wavish set, and then sprinkling in some other vintage deliciousness for good measure. I hope it meets with your pop-culture approval.

At any rate, this week, the Big Show is the place to go to forget how outraged you are at . . . everybody. It's the place to go to forget radio consisting of 10 bad songs in a row with no actual human being within earshot.

It's the place to go to forget radio consisting of 10 bad songs in a row with no actual human being within earshot.

It's the place to go to forget radio consisting of 10 bad songs in a row with no actual human being within earshot.

It's the place to go to forget radio consisting of 10 bad songs in a row with no actual human being within earshot.

It's the place to go to forget radio consisting of 10 bad songs in a row with no actual human being within earshot.


SORRY . . .
the automation computer went on the fritz. The budget for live program hosts disappeared in 'o8. Fixed it as fast as I could.

See, I told you the 2000s suck.

Which is why we're, to a large extent, ditching them on 3 Chords and the Truth this week.

And when we need to, we can go hide out there for a while. Join me, won't you?

Where I'm going -- where the Big Show is going -- Tom Snyder still lives. He's still interviewing original punks amid a cloud of smoke.

No one has heard of Rush Limbaugh. Lady Gaga hasn't been born yet. And a tea party is what genteel ladies have on a lazy afternoon.
There are better times out there, if only in the memories of old farts like myself.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Sick of Suttle? Vote for the San with the plan

Omaha always has loved a good joke.

Take the court jesters trying to recall Mayor Jim Suttle, for example. About a third of the steering committee doesn't even live in Omaha, couldn't vote for the mayor and certainly can't vote to recall him.

But they can tell you to. Now,
that's funny.

Almost as funny as a bunch of slumlords property owners and greasy-spoon hash slingers
restaurateurs trying to oust a mayor 14 months into his term, all because he's raising taxes, all because the city's broke. Oh . . . and because he hasn't gone beyond the past two years of budget cutting to decimate city services in ways the recall folks thus far have failed to specify.

Folks, that's comedy.

BUT WAIT . . . there's more. If the "concerned citizens" garner enough signatures, the recall election will cost $250,000 to $300,000 Omaha doesn't have.

And if voters give Suttle the ol' heave-ho, taxpayers could be on the hook for
another $300 grand -- $600 grand if there's a runoff. Like I said, Omahans love a good joke.

Sometimes we elect them. Other times, they ride in to tickle our funny bones unbidden.

Undoubtedly, recalling a mayor a year and a half into his term -- barring some high crime or misdemeanor -- is funny.

That non-Omahans are leading the charge is even funnier.

Racking up huge deficits to recall a mayor because he allegedly is taxing and spending too much . . . by God, that's getting pretty near pee-your-pants hilarious.

BUT IT'S ALL missing a certain something -- a coup de grace of ridiculous hilarity, so to speak.

That why, if the prairie Jacobins manage to oust Jim Suttle, I say we throw out the unintentional comics and let the professionals take over.

If Suttle's not our man, let's dig up San.

I'm talking about Dr. San Guinary, the late host of Creature Feature, the late-night horror movie on Channel 3 back in the day. That's the great thing about green-ghoul mad scientists -- being dead since 1988 is no obstacle to getting the job done.

Or undone, as the case may be.

Besides, it all makes sense. First, a funny mayor is a definite plus when something funny is definitely going on.

And second, this wouldn't be San Guinary's first time at the rodeo -- the Green One ran a spirited campaign for Omaha mayor in 1976 when Ed Zorinsky resigned to become Nebraska's junior U.S. senator. After drawing major celebrity endorsements in his bid to be interim mayor, he was unfortunately edged out by Robert Cunningham under, I am told, questionable circumstances.

FINALLY, San is just the man to bring stability to city hall in unsettled political times. There will be no attempt to scupper a San Guinary administration; there will be no flak from the City Council; there will be no recall attempts.

The new chief of staff, Igor, would make sure of it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happy bicentennial, y'all!

Two centuries ago today, rebels did what rebels do to the Spanish garrison at Baton Rouge, and the West Florida Republic was birthed after a brief, vicious firefight.

Happy bicentennial, y'all!

Here's a remembrance from . . . The Denver Post?

WELL, UH . . . thank you kindly!
While Texans are fiercely proud their state was once its own republic, and California celebrates the same former status on its flag, relatively few Louisianans know that a group of their forebears overthrew Spanish rule to carve out a tiny, independent nation 200 years ago. With the bicentennial coming up Thursday, historians and descendants of the rebels are hoping to change that.

"It is the most dramatic event in Louisiana history that has been so little recognized," said Sam Hyde, director of the Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies at Southeastern Louisiana University. "We have been lost to all the Cajuns and the debauchery of New Orleans, but it is a unique event that had a lasting effect on this area and others."

In the early morning hours of Sept. 23, 1810, 75 armed rebels slipped into the Spanish fort at Baton Rouge, and in what was described as a "sharp and bloody firefight," subdued the garrison. They lowered the Spanish flag and raised the Bonnie Blue Flag—a single white star on a blue field—that had been adopted for the new nation they called West Florida.

Three days later the rebels signed a declaration of independence and set up a government for the new nation that historians say included about 4,000 people.

The republic was one of three nations that joined with the United States as it expanded west during the 19th century. The others were the republics of Texas and California.

West Florida achieved its goal—annexation by the United States—74 days after independence, said archivist Betty Tucker of Zachary, La.

Historians generally agree the republic included 8 Louisiana parishes still known as the Florida Parishes, and those completed what became the state of Louisiana in 1812.

"They were English speaking people, several were Tories, and they were sick of Spain," Tucker said of the rebels. "You had to be Catholic (under the Spanish), they had no rights, no vote. They were planning to join the United States from when they started their secret meetings in 1805," she said.

The rebels had also originally claimed all Spanish territory extending east through Mississippi to the Perdido River, which separates Alabama and Florida. But their ambitious attempt to seize Mobile, Ala., failed, and Hyde said people living in those areas outside of Louisiana never actively rebelled.

On Thursday, ceremonies marking the 200th anniversary of the revolt will be held at Old Fort San Carlos in Baton Rouge and a flag-raising is set at the St. Tammany Parish Courthouse in Covington. On Jan. 10, 2011, the bicentennial of the annexation of West Florida will be celebrated at State Capitol Park in Baton Rouge. Neither Mississippi nor Alabama are planning West Florida commemorations.

West Florida's residents were mostly farmers and tradesmen of Scottish and English descent. Its leaders dealt harshly with opponents to either independence or U.S. annexation.

"It was pretty violent," Hyde said. "In one case a man was burned alive."