Monthly Archives: April 2012

A Tuneful 2 Minute Brain Cleanse…

Forget Mitt Romney, the fitful economy and the Presidential election for a moment — and pause a moment to enjoy a young lovely woman and a beautiful song.

Here’s my daughter Eva at a high school coffeehouse performing a great Bob Dylan ballad. (Forgive dad, the cameraman, for getting into the action late.)

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Visit “Mr. Olsen’s Neighborhood”!

Our very funny friend Dana Olsen, a fellow Northwestern University and Mee-Ow Show alum, is hosting “A Comedic Variety Show for the Middle Ages” at The Wilmette Theatre on June 14th. If you’re anywhere near Chicago’s North Shore, you won’t want to miss it.

Dana is comedian and screenwriter whose works include The ‘Burbs, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, George of the Jungle and Inspector Gadget. Dana is one of the funniest people I know — and I know lots of funny people: intentional and unintentional. With Dana, the humor is definitely intentional.

I’ve known Dana since we were both NU freshmen in 1976. He was a brilliant and captivating raconteur back then – and he’s even more fun to listen to now. Plus, he was recently named one of North Shore Magazine’s “Eligible Bachelors of the North Shore.” It’s truly groovy in Mr. Olsen’s neighborhood.

Victoria, Steve Rashid and I will be joining Dana on the bill that evening – just one night before we open “The Vic & Paul Show” on Chicago’s South Side at The Beverly Arts Center on June 15th.

Comedic chanteuse Shelly Goldstein, another fellow Northwestern and Mee-Ow Show alum (and the original director of “The Vic & Paul Show”) will also be appearing with us in “Mr. Olsen’s Neighborhood.”

“Mr. Olsen’s Neighborhood” is the place to be on June 14th.

Then, after enjoying some laughs at The Wilmette Theatre on the North Side, come down to The Beverly Arts Center on the South Side for more laughs.

June in Chicago will be a very funny month.

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West Virginia Joe is a Loser…

That’s it. I’ve had it.

Some politicians (even Democrats) are gutless idiots.

Screw you, Joe Manchin, so-called Democratic U.S. Senator of the great state of West Virginia!

I understand, Joe, that you’re on the fence about whether to support President Obama or Mitt Romney???

Do you really think Mitt Romney gives a damn about the hard working, blue-collar working class people in your poor, impoverished state?

Or are you just too damn weak to stand up to the fossil fuel companies who work your constituents to death while raping our environment?

Or the NRA.

Try educating your voters, Joe. Tell them the truth that they might be too ignorant, uneducated, bigoted and/or afraid to hear: the Republicans don’t give a damn about them.

How many millionaires live in West Virginia, Joe?

How many coal miners make a million dollars a year? Do you understand that all your coal-mining constituents pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than multi-millionaire Mitt Romney does?

You suck, Joe Manchin.  Get off the fence. Get real. Or retire.

We progressive Democrats would rather have a true believer Republican in the Senate than a weak-kneed, ineffective, frightened loser like you.

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Dick Clark: Rock & Roll Icon

If you were born after 1970, you may not remember the Dick Clark that I remember.  You might remember the Dick Clark of “TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes” or “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve”.

And if you were born after 1980, your primary image of Dick Clark is likely the elderly, diminished, post-stroke Dick Clark who showed up after young Ryan Seacrest carried the bulk of “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve”.  You might have winced at the sight of him. You might have wondered why he was still on TV.

But for the kids of my generation, born in the 1950’s – and the kids 10 years older than me – Dick Clark was a pop culture icon second to none.

At a time when the personal tastes of a single popular radio disc jockey could still make or break a musical artist, Dick Clark was the most influential DJ of them all.

And with “American Bandstand”, Dick Clark brought the best of rock & roll to television every week. If it was good rock & roll music, and you could dance to it, he showcased it on “American Bandstand”. Dick helped make the kids jump to bands and artists we might otherwise have never known — a lot of African-American artists, too. In the incredibly uptight 1950’s, he wasn’t hung up on “race music”. From Little Richard to Chuck Berry, it was all rock & roll to Dick Clark.

Now, I know there are those people – especially some rock & roll historians — who still harbor a grudge against Dick Clark because of the 1950’s Payola Scandal and how Dick got away relatively unscathed and Alan Freed’s career was basically destroyed.

Freed, the man who coined the term “rock & roll” took the fall – and Dick Clark rose above it.

Google the payola scandal, study the history, and reach your own conclusion. As a Clevelander, you might imagine I’d be in the pro-Freed, anti-Clark camp — but as I figure it,  young Dick Clark did what he had to do. And “American Bandstand” helped to keep America rocking for more than 35 years.

(Ironically, I attended Northwestern University in the late 1970s with Dick Clark’s son and Alan Freed’s daughter. Strange but true.)

Farewell to Dick Clark.

His passing is truly the end of an era.

I give him a ten.

Because back in the day, he championed the music you could dance to.

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Countdown to Classic Comedy…

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Thank You, Rick Santorum!

Rick Santorum has left the building.

And I’m bummed about it.

Because liberal progressives like me have good reason to shower Rick Santorum with our gratitude.

The best thing about having a truly reactionary ideologue and religious zealot like Santorum in the race for the GOP Presidential nomination has been the fact that the Republican Party’s very unattractive underbelly has been exposed.

Mr. Inevitable, Mitt Romney, has not been able to speak in sweet, uplifting platitudes about shining cities on the hill while devising plans to bleed the working class and further enrich the obscenely wealthy. Not with a sanctimonious culture warrior like Rick forcing him to take hard line “severely conservative” positions on hot button social issues like contraception, gay marriage and a woman’s right to make her own reproductive decisions.

Despite the fact that the majority of Americans favor contraception, gay marriage and a woman’s right to choose, Santorum’s uber-conservative candidacy forced Mitt Romney to state his opposition to all three early and often — and usually in a stumbling, uncomfortable manner.

Without a true believer like Santorum in the race, Romney could have done what many Republican politicians have done: court the religious right in private, promise them school prayer, an anti-abortion amendment, and whatever else their intolerant hearts desire – while speaking in more inclusive terms to the wider voting populace. Then, when elected, he could feel free to ignore the bible bangers’ agenda (which GOP Presidents have been doing since the Nixon years).

But having to compete with Santorum for the fundamentalist base, Romney was forced to shed the middle-of-the-road image that got him elected in liberal Massachusetts – and steer his candidacy far to the religious right.

And yet, many of these conservative Christian voters will reject Romney anyway because he’s a Mormon.

The surprising surge in Rick Santorum’s candidacy after he won the Colorado, Missouri, and Minnesota primaries on the same day in early February meant that Mitt Romney and his millionaires had to spend a lot more money than he would have liked to bombard the airwaves with negative commercials – not targeting Barak Obama, but that pesky upstart, Rick Santorum.

All while President Obama spent his money on putting together a massive ground game in critical states all across the electoral map.

Santorum’s personal brand as an earnest, uncompromising zealot presented a sharp contrast with Romney’s image as an opportunistic political shapeshifter, willing to do or say whatever is necessary to appeal to a Republican base that is far more conservative than he’s been in the past.

Santorum spoke his mind. He had no qualms about saying he’s against birth control. Catholic candidate Santorum had no problem saying that Catholic candidate John F. Kennedy’s historic speech upholding the separation of church and state made him want to throw up. Sometimes, Santorum even let slip the darkest dogs of his intolerant mind, saying he would not “make black people’s (or was it “blah people’s) lives better by giving them other people’s money” and calling President Obama a “government nig…” before catching himself in front of a friendly audience in rural Janesville, Wisconsin. That’s not just a dog whistle: it’s a dog loudspeaker.

Not only did Santorum’s shoot-from-the-lip certainty put Romney’s serial waffling in stark relief – it also revealed the darker, puritanical, homophobic, misogynistic and racist angels of the rabid right wing. For these two reasons alone, Santorum’s candidacy was a daily blessing for progressive Americans. It was a light shed on the darkness. And it kept Romney from running in the sunshine, teeth gleaming, every hair in place and looking like something he’s not: a good guy.

So, now Rick is gone. Google will get fewer hits and we’ll get fewer news cycles about birth control and “blah people”.

But with Santorum gone, Newt Gingrich is free to pander to the religious right and all those “true conservatives” that Santorum had successfully courted. That Santorum has given Newt new life in this race is, perhaps, his last gift to those of us Democrats and Independents who support President Obama’s re-election and fervently hope to take back the House and keep the Senate.

And yet, Rick Santorum will likely have one more card to play – one more way to stick it to the man that he pointedly did NOT endorse in his speech last night suspending his campaign. I’m sure that Rick – a resurgent star of the GOP with a big chunk of devoted delegates — will have to be given a nice big speech at the Republican Convention. Maybe even a keynote address. Remember how well the “culture war” speeches by those two bombastic right wing patriarch Pats, Buchanan and Robertson, went down with the larger viewing and voting public? It’s not likely that Santorum’s speech will be a uniting Kumbaya embrace that helps to draw independents and working class people of all races, creeds and color into the GOP fold.

That speech may be Santorum’s last campaign 2012 gift to progressive America.

Thank you, Rick Santorum, for being exactly who you are.

Something Mitt Romney is not.

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“The Vic & Paul Show” — Steve’s Photo Tour of The Beverly Arts Center…

Steve Rashid, the musical director of The Vic & Paul Show, took a scouting trip to The Beverly Arts Center – where Vic, Steve and I will be appearing this summer from June 15-17 and 21-24.

Here’s Steve driving up to The Beverly Arts Center, located on Chicago’s South Side at 2407 W. 111th Street. You can’t see her in this show, but Steve is with his lovely wife, Bea Rashid, a brilliant dancer and choreographer who runs the Evanston cultural institution, Dance Center Evanston. Bea took many of these photos, which explains why Steve ends up appearing in his own photo tour…

You can Steve in the lobby of The Beverly Arts Center. (Dressed in a snazzy jacket.) This is where you can walk in and buy a ticket to The Vic & Paul Show. It’s also where all the pre-show excitement and hobnobbing will take place before each performance.

This is another angle on the bright and sunny lobby – a pleasant environment that those who attend our Saturday and Sunday matinee performances will be able to enjoy.

Steve wanders upstairs, headed to the theatre balcony. Those who sit in the balcony to watch The Vic & Paul Show will be treated to an excellent view of the subtle bald spot on the back of my head.

This is the view from the stage, looking into the 400-seat house. I love all those colorful seats. This is going to be a really wonderful place to see our show.

Here’s Steve standing on the stage. It’s a deep stage with lots of playing space. I’ll have plenty of room to stagger around during “Whiskey Tasting”.

Here’s another angle on the house. All you folks on the North Side of Chicago should come down and check this theatre out during our run in June. It’s shocking that Evanston doesn’t have a performing arts center like this.

This is the view of the backstage area – where Vic will be getting into all of her hilarious wigs during The Vic & Paul Show. Note the covered baby grand. Steve Rashid can really make a baby grand piano sing. Steve can sing, too. The Beverly Arts Center has two baby grand pianos – but Steve will only be playing one of them. He could play both of them at the same time – but that kind of ostentatious virtuosity went out with Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

Here’s one of the four art galleries located in The Beverly Arts Center. What exhibits will be on display during our run in June? Make sure to ask when you’re ordering your tickets for The Vic & Paul Show.

The promotion for our June run is already underway. Get your tickets now!

See you in Chicago’s lovely and historic Beverly neighborhood this June when The Vic & Paul Show brings a celebration of comedy, music, marriage and martinis to The Beverly Arts Center.

For tickets, click here.

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