Category Archives: Uncategorized

Trump’s No Good Very Bad Day in Tulsa

Tulsa Banner #1Tulsa Banner 2
As stated in a previous post, when we learned that Donald Trump planned to hold his first post-Covid-19 rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, my wife declared that we had to go. She was, as usual, right. We had to be there.

IMG_5034It was bad enough that the impeached, popular vote-losing, historically unpopular President originally intended to gather his MAGA minions on July 19th— the holiday known as Juneteenth — the day in 1865 when slaves in Texas finally learned they’d been emancipated by Lincoln’s proclamation back in 1863.

But there was more.

475c9f5e-bcb4-487b-ab7f-30c235daa350-Tulsa_Race_Massacre_01Worse than Trump’s Juneteenth affront was the city that he chose for his 2020 campaign kick-start. Nearly a century earlier, a white mob in Tulsa destroyed a prosperous African American neighborhood known as Black Wall Street, murdering hundreds of innocent Black men while burning more than 35 square blocks of homes and businesses to the ground. Trump wasn’t sounding a racist dog whistle. He was blaring his racist message through a stack of 100 Marshall amplifiers turned up to 11.

The swift critical blowback against Trump’s outrageous, race-baiting bit of scheduling forced him to move his rally from the 19th to the 20th – but that was just the first taste of defeat for Mango Mussolini that fateful weekend. He envisioned his visit to Tulsa as a re-boot of the traveling Trumpian circus that had served his Presidential aspirations – and his ego – so well in 2016.

03_0306_TUF-BOK-Center-Interior-Bowl-2Trump and his various campaign hacks and flacks trumpeted the news that Tulsa’s 19,000 seat BOK Center was nowhere near large enough to hold the hundreds of thousands of fans who had pre-ordered tickets for the rally. So, the Trump campaign arranged an outdoor venue for the overflow horde of cult followers eager to bask in their master’s mendacious message.

But there was a problem with those ticket reservations. It starts with the fact that my wife and I had six tickets and our youngest daughter had two – and none of us had any intention of going to the rally.

It was our daughter who hipped us to the subversive plan days before we left for Tulsa. She’d learned through the youthful online grapevine that, inspired by a TikTok video, the kids were snatching up tickets for Trump’s Tulsa rally as a massive prank. The kids were out to punk Trump.

200621133710-rs-a-block-1-mary-jo-exlarge-169This fast-moving youth movement followed the lead of Mary Jo Laupp, a 51-year-old grandmother from Fort Dodge, Iowa, who posted a TikTok video on June 11th suggesting that people book free tickets to the rally to inflate the attendance numbers and ensure there were empty seats. Laupp’s video earned more than 700,000 likes. Trump and his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, had no idea what was happening. They bought their own hype.

They swallowed the kids’ bait. Hook. Line. And sinker.

When my wife and I arrived in Tulsa on the 19th, we found a much sleepier downtown area than we imagined. My wife kept saying, “Where is everybody”?

By the day of Trump’s rally it was clear where everybody was: not in Tulsa!

Tulsa-rally-scaledOnly 6,200 MAGAs showed up to bask in the first stop on President Man-Child’s Ego-Gratification Tour: just one-third of the BOK Center’s capacity.

What follows are images and commentary on Trump’s 2020 campaign Waterloo as we experienced it.

SPOILER ALERT: Those desperate excuses made by Trump loyalists about how the rally throngs were kept from getting into the BOK Center by protesters blocking their entrance? Pure lies, as you shall see…

IMG_8466

Leaving our hotel on the morning of the rally, the streets were mostly deserted. But we did see this truck parked in a completely empty parking lot just a few blocks from the BOK Center. Why was this parking lot so empty if as many as one million Trump fans were coming to town?

IMG_8473

This photo was taken just a few blocks from the BOK Center. Each block was sealed off with concrete barriers so that streets remained clear. This was one of three approaches to the BOK Center. We could see a couple hundred people waiting on this block.

Note the National Guard presence, the sparse crowd — and NO protestors. This was the pattern all day leading up to the rally.

The MAGA crowd is getting a little larger. But where are the protesters blocking the MAGAs from attending the rally? They don’t exist. Do you see any? Of course not. We are two blocks from the BOK Center at this point.

IMG_8480The Oklahoma National Guard is ready for action. Nervous kids doing their duty.

Another shot of the not-so- massive throngs gathering a couple blocks away from the BOK Center. Still no protesters. Actually, no protesters will show up until all the MAGAs are in the building and the rally is already underway. Oh yeah, there WAS that one older lady wearing an “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirt who was handcuffed and hauled away from the entrance.

There were at least three layers of security in order to get inside the gates leading to the BOK Center: concrete barriers, three rows of National Guard, and a fence. You’ll note that you don’t see any protesters blocking this entrance. It was the same at all entrances.

IMG_8485One you get past the concrete barricades and three rows of National Guard, there’s a fence — and then a temperature-testing site. Notice all the violent protesters blocking these MAGAs from entering? Of course not. Because they weren’t there! Sorry, Trump campaign. No excuses. Also — nobody is wearing a mask and there’s no social distancing.

Speaking of masks and social distancing. Oklahoma Senator Lankford (in the suit with red hair) was definitely not wearing a mask or social distancing. Nice example, Senator!IMG_8496At this point, the MAGAs have it made past the barriers, past the National Guard and past the fence. Now, they pause to get a mask (which hardly anybody wore) and have their temperature taken. Still no protesters blocking anything. No protesters at all.IMG_8499Now, it’s just a few hours until the rally starts — and all the MAGAs are in the building. There’s nobody left in line. If this was a Rick Springfield concert, a monster truck rally, or even a minor league hockey game there would still be folks in line. But all the members of Trump’s angry army coming to Trumpapalooza are already inside the BOK Center. No reinforcements are coming.1221587855.jpg.0The scene from one section of the upper deck. Trump fans! Tired of all the winning yet?

5 Comments

Filed under History, Politics, Travel, Truth, Uncategorized

Junteenth in Tulsa 2020

BannerWhen we learned that Donald Trump intended to hold his first post-pandemic rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 19th, my wife and I knew we had to drive from our home in Los Angeles to be there in Tulsa. Not because we wanted to be among the throng of MAGAs at the BOK Arena for the Mango Mussolini’s Celebration of His Ego – but because we wanted to protest Trump’s insult to African-Americans in Tulsa and across our nation.

imagesTrump’s choice of date and location for his rally was either an act of extreme ignorance or something much, much worse.

June 19th– or “Juneteenth” as it has come to be known – marks the day in 1865 when the slaves in Texas were finally informed by Federal soldiers that they had been emancipated since 1863 and were, in fact, free from bondage. So, given Trump’s history with regard to race relations, Juneteenth was a horrible date for a MAGA rally.

58a33e8e1a98e.imageAnd why should Trump choose Tulsa?

Was he unaware of the fact that in June of 1921, Tulsa was the site of one of the most horrible episodes of white racist violence in American history?

Was Trump’s choice of Tulsa a racist dog whistle akin to Ronald Reagan’s campaign kickoff in Philadelphia, Mississippi – cite of the infamous murder of the Freedom Riders in 1964? Either he has no advisors with knowledge of 20thcentury U.S. history – or he’s running the same racist “Southern Strategy” that Nixon, Reagan and George H.W. “Willie Horton” Bush ran to victory.

So, off we went to Tulsa.

IMG_5050Last night, we enjoyed the celebration of Juneteenth in the Greenwood section of Tulsa where Black Wall Street once stood – and where the horrors of the 1921 massacre remain a painful, open wound.

What follows are some photos and video of our experience yesterday evening. It was a festival atmosphere, enjoyed by a multi-racial crowd of several thousand that largely wore masks and maintained social distance. It was a joy to be there.

IMG_8463

This street sign greets us as we enter Black Wall Street. Of course, Black Wall Street no longer exists. It was destroyed by a mob of white citizens of Tulsa in 1921.

IMG_8455

It’s a festival atmosphere on Greenwood Avenue. BLACK LIVES MATTER has been painted in yellow letters on the street (as it was painted in Washington D.C.) Community organizers initially cancelled this year’s Juneteenth celebration because of Covid-19. But when Trump schedule his rally on June 19th, the Black community in Tulsa decided to reclaim their holiday.

Screen Shot 2020-06-20 at 2.07.10 PM

A 5-year old girl started dancing in the street — and it drew a crowd.

IMG_5062

This church is the lone remnant of the original Black Wall Street.

IMG_5061

IMG_5043

Victoria’s panoramic view of the scene at the park. This ground was literally bombed from the air in 1921 by members of the white mob with access to planes.

IMG_5050

Like any street festival, local musicians — from rap to jazz to funk to soul — entertained the crowd — waiting to hear from Reverend Al Sharpton.

And now some words from Reverend Al…

Tonight, Trump will hold his mini-Nuremburg rally. I’ll report on that scene later.

5 Comments

Filed under History, Politics, Truth, Uncategorized

Trump vs. The Boy Scout Law

Screen Shot 2020-06-07 at 11.18.07 PMWould Trump Measure Up as a Boy Scout?

boy-scouts-emblemI’m proud to say that my older brother Peter and I were in the Scouting program — from Cub Scouts to Webelos to the Boy Scouts of America.

Peter and I proudly pledged to adhere to the Boy Scout Law.

We understood that the Boy Scout Law was a list of aspirational ideals that would make us better people and honorable citizens if we had the grit, faith and spirit to live up to them.

boy-scout-handbook-1950The Boy Scout Law, which I can still recite by heart, had a profound effect on me. I haven’t always lived up to the high standards they demand – but throughout my life, I’ve aspired to be equal to the personal ethics they challenge me to uphold.

So, let’s look at the 12 Boy Scout Laws.

How many of these laws does Donald Trump model in his everyday life?

A Scout is…images

  • Trustworthy 
  • Loyal 
  • Helpful
  • Friendly 
  • Courteous 
  • Kind 
  • Obedient 
  • Cheerful
  • Thrifty 
  • Brave 
  • Clean
  • Reverent

As I see it, the impeached, popular vote losing Donald J. Trump is Zero for 12 on observing the Boy Scout Law.

UnknownSeriously. Impeached President Trump violates every single one of the Boy Scout Laws.

If you can argue that I’m wrong — and that Trump is a Boy Scout, after all — please post a comment and make your case. Which of the 12 Boy Scout Laws does Trump uphold and observe?

Here’s my take. What’s yours? (Please give concrete proof of Trump adhering to any of these laws.)

  • Trustworthy: According to the New York Times, Trump had told more than 18,000 lies since he was inaugurated. And counting…
  • Loyal: How many cabinet members and staffers has he fired for telling the truth and/or not kissing his ass square on the hole?B3XUSO65RNFTZGE6H3CWXZI5CQ
  • Helpful: Has he ever made a bad situation better? Has he ever offered assistance to the needy? Read about Puerto Rico.
  • Friendly: Not a chance. He’s a cruel, nasty bully — and a defensive, easily-offended snowflake and selfish jackass.
  • Courteous: Stood in front of the Queen of England, walks in front of his wife, shoved other world leaders aside to get a better spot in a G-7 group photo, etc.
  • Kind: Please. Donald and his KKK member father kept black people from renting their properties. They were even sued by the federal government.
  • Obedient: You’re kidding. Obedient to whom?
  • Cheerful: Only when he thinks he’s got a leg up on his enemies.
  • Thrifty: Multiple bankruptcies. Massive, all-time-high, federal debt due to his needless tax giveaway to the 1%.cce01a3b49a1c8a377472082911b214e
  • Brave: His daddy arranged a Vietnam military draft deferment for his son’s specious bone spurs. Decades later, Trump was sent to his White House bunker in fear of Americans protesting police brutality.
  • Clean: Okay, they say he’s a germaphobe— but why no mask?
  • Reverent: Sure, this adulterous, porn star-banging libertine sucks up to the religious right. But is he really a Christian believer? Not a chance. Ask Jeffrey Epstein. Or Michael Cohen. Or Stormy Daniels. Or Karen MacDougal. Or the, at least, 25 women who have accused Trump of sexual harassment, abuse, assualt – and rape.

Can you imagine Trump reciting the Boy Scout Law today — and not being struck by lightning?

I can’t.

17a040fc409cbd5cc65e79fe0752dd3cGo ahead, Trump supporters. Explain.

I challenge you — especially those I’ve known since high school in my beloved hometown, Cleveland, Ohio — to show me, Boy Scout Law by Boy Scout Law, how Donald J. Trump measures up to the standards we pledged to uphold as young men in the late 1960’s and early 70’s.

I’m waiting to hear if you can actually mount a case for Trump. Can you actually defend the behavior of this thin-skinned, narcissistic, racist, Adderall-snorting, anti-scientific, anti-intellectual, willfully ignorant, 6-times bankrupt, wannabe strongman dictator?

4261You have by Election Day, November 3, 2020 to make your case.

I swear by the Boy Scout Law to give you a fair hearing.

As for the Scouts motto, “Be Prepared”?

Consider his flat-footed, ignorant, personally defensive response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Pathetic.

Scouts honor.

11 Comments

Filed under History, Politics, Uncategorized

Trump vs. Jesus

Screen Shot 2020-06-01 at 9.08.31 PMWe must never forget that impeached President Donald Trump tear-gassed and flash-banged peaceful young protestors today – so that he could stage an awkward photo-op in front of an historic church that did not invite him, did not come out to welcome him, and whose bishop and rector he had not even communicated with in advance of his self-serving, last-minute, momentary visit.

Preparing for his ill-conceived photo-op, Trump fumbled with a Bible, confused as to how to hold one. Had Trump ever held a bible — or read one — he might have come across the words of Jesus Christ from his sermon on the mount, recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, 5:1-12.

Whether you’re religious or not, please take a moment to read the recorded words of Jesus of Nazareth in his most comprehensive statement of humanistic philosophy.

Then ask yourself — is this Trump’s philosophy?

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.

 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth

 Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.

 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 

 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

 Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 Let’s be clear. Trump is no Christian. He’s a blasphemer. His bellicose “get-tough” approach is nothing that Jesus would condone. Jesus was all about love, compassion and empathy. Trump is about power — and himself.

Election day can’t come soon enough.

Blessed are they that vote their conscience.

6 Comments

Filed under History, Politics, Uncategorized

The Bottom Line: What All Patriotic Americans Must Agree Upon.

LibertyScreen Shot 2020-02-24 at 9.49.06 PMwpa-posters-01Democrats.

Progressives.

Liberals.

Sane Republicans.

Patriotic Americans.

However we define ourselves on the political spectrum — or whatever easy political label we’re comfortable with – can we all agree on the following statements?

  • Climate change is real and MUST be addressed with URGENCY.
  • The gap between Rich and Poor in America has grown grotesque and unsustainable.
  • Medical Care is a Human Right.
  • Women deserve Equal Rights and Equal Pay.
  • Women have a fundamental right to make their own reproductive decisions. (It’s their bodies, boys.)
  • The influence of big money donors in politics corrupts the democratic system.
  • America must stand as a beacon for Human Rights, Freedom of the Press and Democracy.
  • 1000209288.jpg.0NATO is a good thing. (Certainly better than two World Wars in the 20th century.)
  • The European Union is a good thing. (Certainly better than two World Wars in the 20th century.)
  • The worldwide influence of the Putin-led Russian Oligarchy is a bad thing – and not something patriotic Americans should ignore — or, as Trump does, apologize for and promote.
  • Competent governance by experts in their fields is good.ee7c04e9469bc0f2749ae9805aa04921
  • Incompetent governance by political hacks and industry lobbyists is NOT good.
  • Racism is NOT to be encouraged.
  • Factionalism is NOT to be encouraged.
  • Willful Ignorance is NOT to be encouraged.
  • The lessons of Science must be promoted and respected.
  • The lessons of History must be promoted and respected.
  • Immigrant children should NOT be separated from their families and put in cages.
  • Generations of immigrants have been the lifeblood of American advancement.
  • The Gospel of Jesus is not the religion of today’s right-wing Evangelicals.
  • The separation of Church and State is fundamental to American freedom.
  • The Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have others do unto you) is a good rule to live by whether you are religious, atheist or agnostic.

Do you agree with these statements?

bernie-sanders-student-debtThen, don’t fret whether the Democratic nominee is Bernie, Biden, Warren, Mayor Pete or Amy Klobuchar.

Every Democrat (except, perhaps, Oligarch Bloomberg) would agree on these things.

So, vote what you know in your bones to be right.

Donald Trump, the horrible GOP Mango Mussolini, doesn’t give one tiny shit about any of the things listed above.

But every Democrat agrees with nearly everything on the list.

So…

VOTE BLUE – NO MATTER WHO!

Dems

3 Comments

Filed under History, Politics, Random Commentary, Uncategorized

ON TYRANNY: A Historian Warns America that Our Freedom is in Danger

Tyranny BannerI’m a comedian and television producer by trade — and a passionate history buff by avocation.

I don’t call myself a historian. I haven’t devoted enough years in research libraries or earned an advanced academic degree – but I’ve read enough history to know that we Americans are living in a perilous moment in time.

american-nazi-flagjpgRight now – in the 2020 Presidential election — the future of our democracy is in the balance.

Check out historian Jill Lepore’s recent article in The New Yorker and Yale professor Timothy Snyder’s recent booklet, On Tyranny.

Lepore and Snyder teach lessons Americans must learn.

donald-trump-ilhan-omar-hashtag-rallyPutting these two distinguished historians work together with the everyday evidence available on objective newspaper front pages and TV news broadcasts, it’s clear that the election and maladministration of Donald Trump is as dangerous and pivotal a moment for American Democracy as we’ve experienced since 1776.

Let me count the ways…

Cages

Just like the Nazis rounded up “the other” in concentration camps, so has the Trump regime locked immigrant Central American families in makeshift camps – and put their children in cages.

stephen-miller-11131The architect of Trump’s awful, inhuman border policy is his close aide Stephen Miller — an abominable, heartless white nationalist.

Think right wing autocracy can’t happen here?

Read Timothy Snyder’s short and powerful book – and you’ll be shaken to your democratic core.

It CAN happen here.

SeparationFamiliesWe can see the potential death of democracy in the feckless cowardice of the Republican Senate. By acquitting Trump of his obvious high crimes against the constitution, they bent their knees like the fearful, faithless German legislators who paved the way for Hitler’s rise to tyrannical authority.

And the world reaped the whirlwind.Seig Heil

Today – it’s not just American government in the balance.

It’s human survival.

neo-nazi-rally-in-claremont-calijpgTrump says climate change is a hoax.

Trump put a coal industry hack in charge of the EPA.

Trump has put a private industry fox in every public agency henhouse.

Trump is putting bootlicking lackeys in charge of the intelligence agencies.

hitlerTrump’s Justice Department under William Barr is enthusiastically investigating Trump’s perceived enemies.

And the spineless GOP legislators are letting Trump do it.

We can’t let them get away with it.

m_5d23790c8d653def6b886895I’m a comedian — but I’m not joking. It’s not an exaggeration.

Our democracy is at stake.

This election year, our American democracy is at stake.

We’ve all got to Vote Blue – No Matter Who!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under History, Politics, Random Commentary, Uncategorized

A Couple of Memes…

Meme #5Please pass along…

Meme #5

 

3 Comments

Filed under Art, Comedy, History, Politics, Uncategorized

My Life in Sketch Comedy: Part #1

goodtimes-1975 copyThrills & Glory 1I have been in love with the improvisational comedy revue format for more than 45 years. Improv comedy has been the guiding light of my life.

New Poster #8Most recently, I collaborated as a writer, performer and director of my 23rd comedy revue – celebrating 40 years of Practical Theatre Company comedy with “Big Holiday Bag O’ Fun” at Studio5 in Evanston, Illinois — ringing in New Year’s 2020 with music and laughter.

I’m still as passionate as ever about developing comedic situations and characters, polishing and performing sketches, and eliciting laughs from an intelligent and discerning audience.

It’s how I’m wired.

My comedy-loving father, Pete Barrosse, was born in New Orleans in 1927. Dad gifted me with a keen appreciation for the history of silent film comedy, vaudeville, stand-up comedy — and sketch comedy giants like Red Skelton, George Burns, Milton Berle, Carl Reiner, Imogene Coca and the great Sid Caesar.sidcaesar-2_slide-fe1060a88ea5c7230c05e55ba1b8c00d3a754440-s800-c85

Sid Caesar was the King of TV Comedy — the comedic force of nature behind Your Show of Shows, the seminal TV sketch revue that paved the way for great TV comedy revues like That Was The Week That Was, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Carol Burnett Show– and, in my adult years, Saturday Night Live, In Loving Color, Mad TV, Chappelle’s Show and Key & Peele.

Jumping ahead for a moment — in 1983 I got a chance to work with Sid Caesar and The Smothers Brothers on Saturday Night Live. How crazy is that?

1frost_2664182bBut going back two decades to 1964, I remember my mom staying up after work to take notes on each episode of the edgy, erudite TV comedy revue That Was The Week That Was— because dad was working the night shift at Reliable Spring in Cleveland.

That_Was_the_Week_That_Was_opening_titleI was just 8 years old, but I recall staying up late with my mom as we watched the show each week, and she took notes on TW3 for my dad.

Pete and Mary loved TW3.

Of course, it was all largely above my childish head – especially musical director Tom Leher’s cutting-edge songs.

original-5750-1397077218-10Check out the cast and writers for TW3: Buck Henry, Paul Sand, Comden & Green, Henry Morgan, Alan Alda, Elaine May, Mike Nichols, etc.

I was just a child, but I was absorbing the very best of satiric comedy. And I knew my parents thought it was important. Comedy was important. Laughter was important. Lesson learned.

That Was The Week That Was didn’t last long on U.S. network television – but 11 years later, I got my chance to join in the sketch comedy game. And my authentic life began.

Before I knew anything about The Compass Players, Second City, The Committee – or any of my improvisational comedy antecedents, I was cast in my first sketch comedy revue in the summer of 1975.

Goodtimes #1My high school theatre director Mary Ann Zampino asked me, a callow high school junior, to join her hip, funny, and far more sophisticated friends to join the cast of an adult cabaret sketch show called Goodtimes.goodtimes-1975

How much older were my cast mates? Five years? Ten? I had no idea.

Musical director Paul Novosel was talented and visionary, but I had no clue how old he was.

He was the musical director and keyboard whiz for my junior year high school musical, Li’l Abner– and Paul and Zamp liked my turn as Marryin’ Sam enough to cast me in their 1975 summer cabaret comedy revue, Goodtimes.

Goodtimes #2Goodtimes director Jane Van Bergen was the only woman who ever directed me in a comedy revue. Our three man and three woman cast was the most gender-balanced in a comedy revue I’ve ever been in.

Goodtimes was cutting-edge — before I knew where the cutting-edge was!

But these folks were so damn cool – and so funny! And they treated me like a peer. It was a magical experience and it changed my life. Performing sketches, crafting funny characters – and getting laughs from a sophisticated audience (with adult cocktails in hand) was an intoxicating experience.

It would take several years for me to get back to the main thing: cabaret comedy.

When I arrived as a freshman at Northwestern University in the fall of ‘76, I planned to make my mark in the legit theatre. I saw myself as a dramatic actor. My goal was a career in regional theatre — perhaps a role in the repertory company of The Cleveland Playhouse.

Then I saw the 1977 Mee-Ow Show highlights in McCormick Auditorium.

I had no idea Mee-Ow wasn’t a long tradition at NU. In fact, just two years earlier, The Mee-Ow Show began as a subversive reaction to the old-fashioned, student-written musical comedy revue, The Waa-Mu Show. It was a variety show that encompassed music, dance, comedy — even a laser light show, I believe.

Mee-Ow was then revamped and re-directed by cast members Bill Nuss and Dusty Kay (‘76) as a sketch comedy review — taking its inspiration from The Second City, Kentucky Fried Theatreand Monty Python.

The show I saw featured the best bits from the 1977 Mee-Ow Show, North by Northwestern: a show written and performed by Jeff Lupetin, Betsy Fink, Kyle Heffner, Stewart Figa and others. It was so damn funny. It was so damn cool. It was inspirational.

The Mee-Ow Show was now my goal.

But I had no idea where The Mee-Ow Show would lead.

3 Comments

Filed under Art, Comedy, History, Improvisation, Uncategorized

Today’s Brain Cleanse…

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

WTF: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2020

p01hhmbk

So, here are the folks who will be enshrined in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame class of 2020:

  • Depeche Mode
  • The Doobie Brothers
  • Whitney Houston
  • Nine Inch Nails
  • The Notorious B.I.G.
  • T. Rex

UnknownI’ve argued for the The Doobie Brothers in the past — so, right on! Go, Doobie Brothers! And I love Nine Inch Nails (for inspiring Johnny Cash alone), the Notorious B.I.G. (a seminal hip-hop godfather) and T. Tex (so much love for Marc Bolan’s groovy, grungy, proto-New Wave guitar sound) “Get It On”, etc., though he had only a few giant Top-40 hits.

But Whitney Houston and Depeche Mode? Really? Rock & Roll?

Did Whitney Houston — as prodigious a vocal instrument as she possessed — record a single rock and roll track? Did she chart a single rock & roll single? Did she ever rock?

How in the hell is Whitney Houston a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?

Let’s put it this way. Is Ella Fitzgerald in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? Ella won 13 Grammy awards and sold over 40 million albums — but she was a jazz singer — not a rock & roll singer. She’s not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Soulful, bluesy, risk-taking jazz singer Billie Holiday is in the Hall as a bold and fearless, raw and soulful early influence — but slick, pop-oriented Whitney Houston hardly qualifies. Especially when more deserving rockers have been, once again, overlooked.

There is a national shame and outrage that I must address here and now…

Tommy+James++The+Shondells+732311_356x237Why — oh why? — aren’t Tommy James & The Shondells in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?

I’m a Cleveland boy, and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is a shining jewel on my hometown lakefront — but that only makes such an injustice a more personal matter.

2014-rock-and-roll-hall-of-fame-ceremony-1024Tommy James & The Shondells have been waiting since 1991 to get a call from the Hall. For 29 years, they’ve had to endure the enshrinement of acts like Abba, Kiss and Whitney in an institution supposedly devoted to rock and roll – while the band that gave garage bands worldwide rock classics like “Mony Mony” and “Hanky Panky” is continually and criminally passed over.

Tommy James GERHow can it be that overproduced purveyors of techno pop-rock (Depeche Mode) and pure, chart-topping pop (Whitney Houston) win out over the inspired 60’s rockers who put “I Think We’re Alone Now” and “Crimson and Clover” down on vinyl?

At the 2014 Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Rage Against the Machine’s lead guitarist Tom Morello – a man whose shredding virtuosity and politics I admire – made a convincing case for why Kiss had a rightful place in the Rock Hall. But while Kiss may have blazed a trail for visual and musical bombast and pyro in arena rock – their sound and fury signify nothing like the string of hits that Tommy James and his band delivered in the late 1960s.

tommy-james-and-the-shondells-on-the-ed-sullivan-showBesides their two #1 hit single in the U.S. – “Hanky Panky” in ’66 and “Crimson and Clover” in ’69 — Tommy James & The Shondells charted twelve other Top 40 hits, including five in the top ten. Remember a platter entitled “Crystal Blue Persuasion”?

How about 14 Top 40 hits during the greatest period in rock and roll radio history? All while competing with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, Creedence Clearwater Revival, James Brown, Sly & The Family Stone – and those Motown artists cranking out classics in Hitsville, USA.

All of those great rockers are in the Hall of Fame — so, why not Tommy James & The Shondells?

114774938And I don’t want to hear that Tommy James was “bubblegum”. Please. When was the last time you listened to “Mony Mony” or “Draggin the Line”? Guitars. Groove. Harmony. Drive. Horns. Hooks. Lots and lots of classic rock and roll hooks.

Tommy James & The Shondells should go into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fames very next class or the whole institution is a sham.

TommyJames2Honor Tommy James while the man is still alive and well and rocking.

I can wait no longer.

I’m just going to enshrine Tommy James & The Shondells here and now.

In fact…

I’m announcing The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2021 must include Tommy James & The Shondells — Eligible since 1991. And now about…

The Monkees — Eligible since 1991

The-Monkees-the-monkees-29786398-886-960Not even gonna argue about this.

The Monkees should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Hell, The Beatles respected The Monkees – so why should anyone else deny their undeniable greatness?

Morons who I have little patience for say The Monkees were a fabricated band – “The Pre-Fab Four” — surrounded by studio musicians. I know for a fact that The Beach Boys, The Mamas & The Papas, and others in the Hall of Fame were backed by the very same group of studio cats: the Wrecking Crew. So, what? I said I wasn’t gonna argue.

websbest060113_fullsize_story1At their peak in ‘67, The Monkees outsold The Beatles and Rolling Stones combined. 12 Top-40 hits, three #1 hits — and a TV show that brought melodic, witty, well-written and beautifully sung rock and roll music (and surprisingly subversive comedy) into homes across America.

The-Monkees-the-monkees-2846004-603-546I won’t even mention the songs by name. You know them. You sing them. You’ll probably hear one on the radio today.

“Last Train to Clarksville,” “I’m a Believer,” “Daydream Believer,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday” and “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone”. That’s just five.

And now I’m really not gonna argue any more.

The Rock N Roll Trio — Eligible since 1981

115163945Johnny Burnette and the Rock & Roll Trio were the best damn rockabilly band that ever thumped a standup bass, whacked out the backbeat on a snare, and sang like drunken wildcats.

“Rock Billy Boogie”, “Rock Therapy”, “Train Kept A-Rollin”, “Honey Hush”, “Tear It Up” – Johnny Burnette and the Rock & Roll Trio served up fundamental, elemental, essential rock and roll.

20131210092007-burnette_jJohnny Burnette and the Rock & Roll Trio featured no frills, no gimmicks, no costumes, and no pyrotechnics — other than the fire they produced by their passionate playing.

Sorry, Depeche Mode, this is rock and roll with real, gritty, driving heart and soul. I don’t give a damn what hits they had or where they charted. When I need rock therapy — they give it to me.

They should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

5 Comments

Filed under Art, Beauty, History, Music, Politics, rock & roll, Uncategorized