Archive for the ‘culture’ category

Does America need Don Imus?

June 24, 2008

Imusonair.comShock jock Don Imus is back in the news for making what most sensible people believe to be a racist remark on his WABC radio show.

Imus made national headlines, when he made some racist comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team last year, which subsequently led to his termination from WFAN and MSNBC.

This time, Imus’ statement was less specific, but the interpretation is still quite transparent.

According to a Daily News article:

On Monday’s show, sportscaster Warner Wolf was talking about how (NFL player Adam) Jones had been suspended for a season and arrested six times.

“What color is he?” asked Imus.

“He’s African-American,” said Wolf.

“Well, there you go,” said Imus. “Now we know.”

In his own defense, Imus says the statment was meant to suggest that African-Americans are wrongly targeted by police because of their race.  Imus didn’t make this clarification on his show, though. 

What Imus said last year was unconscionable and his firing was the right move.  Many people believe Imus should never have been given a second chance.

After this recent remark, is there any other conclusion than to presume that Don Imus is indeed a racist?

And, in a society trying desperately to overcome centuries of prejudice, do we really need a guy  like Imus on the air?

Edgy George Carlin took the edge off of the daily grind

June 23, 2008

Some people found him a bit too baudy, even vulgar, but for most comedy fans, George Carlin helped take the edge off of the grind of many frustrating and stressful days.

Carlin died yesterday of heart failure, after a long and celebrated career of stand-up comedy, television and movie appearances.

What separated Carlin from most comics was his ability to take sensitive subjects, like abortion and obesity, and make them funny, even to pro lifers and overweight people.  Carlin understood who he was and believed his devout fans also got him.

“I have a kind of identity that I’ve carved out as my own, and people know that,” Carlin told the Daily Press in 2002. “I have this theatrically angry voice some of the time in my show, an aggressive tone, but I think people still see me as a kind of vulnerable person — an open, honest person laying it all out for your inspection.”

No critic could have put it better.


Immigrant naked in sauna questions American democracy

June 17, 2008

Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Phillip Morris tells a fascinating story about a Russian immigrant, who was arrested when he refused to stop taking saunas in the nude at a health club. 

Considering that the nudist is a 78-year-old man, the nudity itself isn’t what makes the story fascinating.  Now, if the column were about a 21-year-old Swedish bikini model. . . well, we better not go there.  What makes Morris’s article interesting is that the man, Lazar Balshen, who refused to put clothes on when told, is questioning the freedom that America provides.

This, too, might not seem shocking, until you learn that Balshen came here at 62, never worked a day in the states and has been receiving $677 in monthly Social Security since arriving.  Many of Morris’s readers were in an uproar over America’s generosity, far more than over Balsen’s nudity.

Anyone reading this space knows by now that I’m certainly in favor of civil rights and civil liberty.  The complaining Balshen, though, is taking things a little too far.

Tim Russert embodied professional politics and journalism

June 15, 2008

As a young journalist, I aspired to be like Tom Brokaw, Katie Couric and eOnline photoDick Enberg.  Growing up, I found these three to be articulate, intelligent and awe-inspiring. 

As the years passed, and my writing broadened into politics, I sought the person who embodied all of the aforementioned reporters and announcers.  Tim Russert was that person.

I first encountered Russert on a Sunday morning TV magazine show.  He and other pundits kicked around political ideology and often “kicked” the behinds of politicians.  Russert, though, always did it in the classiest of ways.

His election coverage was always on the mark, and when he interviewed presidential candidates, he never pulled a single punch.

Russert could hammer away at presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama during a 90-minute debate, then be seen with his arm around Obama, laughing gleefully afterward. 

A beloved son, loving father and international face of policical journalism, Tim Russert will be dearly missed by millions.


Duke rape accuser Crystal Mangum gets degree — in police psychology

June 12, 2008

Educators have been given a new model for teaching irony.  Duke rape accuser, Crystal Mangum, graduated recently from North Carolina Central University with a degree in police psycology.Fox News photo

Mangum, who gained national fame for accusing three lacrosse players from Duke University of rape, is a known drug abuser and suffers from psychological issues far too many for us to list in this space. 

Now, she can begin evaluating other criminals.

Sounds about right.

Teachers in UK being investigated for shouting

June 11, 2008

The Daily Telegraph reports that teachers are being investigated for, get this, yelling at students.

Education Department officials are investigating teachers for shouting at students to “put that down”, “leave him alone”, “sit down” or “pick up those papers” and demanding to know, “who told you that you could go there?”

Not surprisingly, the teachers are upset that the Ed Dept. is trying to undermine their authority.

Sounds to me like they never had any.

How Obama networked his way to victory

June 5, 2008

A very insightful youtube video explains how a 24-year-old social networking guru turned relative unknow, Barack Obama, into the presumptive Democratic presidential nomineee.

Check out the video at Sensico’s blog.

Chicago’s Maxwell Street lives up to reputation

June 4, 2008

I recently saw historic Maxwell Street in Chicago, on the UIC campus.  Now, by no means am I a food critic or a city reviewer, but I do like to eat and drink, so I figured I’d lob a some comments your way about a few places on Maxwell.

There’s a spot on the corner (a sports bar of sorts) that was so forgettable I can’t remember the name.  My glass of wine, which was so bottom shelf I think it came off the floor, was eight dollars.  Mind you, I’m not ignorant about the price of alcohol in nice places, but the service should be at least fair, when you’re making a small mortgage payment for bad wine.  The service was so bad at this place that I left before ordering something to eat.

Next stop, Juniors.  Now, we’re talking.  This is a nice sports bar, with trivia, fast and friendly service and some of the  nicest people you’d ever meet.  Not to be forgotten is the scrumptous steak sandwich — one of the best you’ll ever find.

For the coup de grace, breadfast at Hashbrowns.  Let me tell you this is the epitome of the old-fashioned, hole-in-the-wall, grill-in-your-face greasy spoon that real breakfast lovers drool over. 

I ordered the house hash browns, sausage (gigantic, juicy pork  links) and French toast, which was light as a cloud and came with a delicious vanilla sauce.  I’d be tempted to drive the six hours it takes me to get to the Windy City, just for breakfast at Hashbrowns.

By the way, my meal was ready in five minutes.

Once again, I’m  no food critic, but if you’re taking a trip to Chicago, don’t miss Juniors and Hashbrowns and a stroll down historic Maxwell Street — the pride of the UIC area.

Memorial Day: honoring our heroes

May 26, 2008

It’s simple, and bloggers every where are probably posting this, but I couldn’t resist.  I haven’t seen a better tribute to America’s true heroes — our soldiers

Dreams and death on Everest

May 23, 2008

Swiss mountain climber, Gianni Goltz, waited 44 years, but he finally lived his dream, when he reached the top of Mount Everest, this week.  What a marvelous accomplishment.

Goltz didn’t have time to drink a toast to his amazing feat, though, as he dropped dead moments after Mount Everestreaching Everest’s peak. 

Not to make light of a relatively young man’s death, but I’ve simply never understood the the strange obsession with risking your life, just so you can  say, “I made it to the top.”

After all, it’s not like Goltz would have been  the first to scale Everest.  In fact, the tragic announcement of his death was missed by many climbing enthusiasts, celebrating the 18th successful ascent by a Sherpa guide.

Meanwhile, another man with a family has died, just so he could say he climbed a mountain.