Tuesday, August 14, 2018


I have no idea which side they're on. 
Sunday afternoon, I settled in front of the TV, refreshments at hand, to watch what I hoped would be a full-throttle physical clash in Washington, DC. 

In this corner, weighing no less than 200 pounds each -- the whitest of the white, the brawlers who traded in their white sheets for red neckties, the losers who couldn't get a date with a dog if you tied a pork chop around their ankle
-- give a round of Bronx cheers for Unite the Right!

And in this corner, weighing each race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation carefully so that everyone is equal down to the last eyebrow hair, the fighters who won't cry "uncle" because it would just another case of masculine domination, the patriots who love free speech until you disagree with them, please welcome -- or else they might throw a chair through your business window -- Antifa & Company!

You know Unite the Right is on the losing side when the cops
outnumber the supporters.
Oh yeah, I was ready for the peaceful demonstration to go haywire, expecting a collision like warm and cold fronts causing a massive storm and wreaking havoc all around. 

Boom! It was time for Trump's America to live down to my expectations once again. 

Alas! What a disappointing fight it turned out to be! A disappointing non-fight. Hundreds of people of all stripes vs a couple dozen white guys who only want to be left in peace (i.e., away from other races, Jews, anyone with an accent other than British, etc.) does not an interesting cage match make. 

It's always a good thing when someone wearing a t-shirt reading
FUCK DONALD TRUMP appears live on CNN.
Despite its seemingly ad-hoc look, anti-UTR rally had an organizer, David Thurston. He was the fellow who introduced the opening acts -- speakers, poets, still more speakers -- and generally kept the crowd hopped-up for two hours before the official march. Thurston also gave directions for where people should march to, including  for those who were concerned about hearing "hurtful speech" from the other side. Yeah, those are the people you want in the foxhole next to you when things get tough. 

However, he also knew that there were plenty of people itching for a fight. Those marchers, he told a CNN reporter, had his approval to get into a scrap not only with the UTR morons but the cops as well -- but he himself would take the safe road instead. A regular General Patton he was: Let's you and him fight.

Something tells me I won't have much of a choice
come election day if this comes to pass.
I wouldn't be caught dead, alive, or comatose near a right-wing rally, other than to take pictures and laugh -- still the best reaction to these dopes. But as I watched the coverage of the "anti-hate" counter-rally on C-SPAN, I admit to feeling a little uneasy at many of the participants. Like the middle-aged guy who could have been a small-town mailman, holding a sign reading AMERICAN WAS NEVER GREAT! THE SYSTEM NEEDS TO BE OVERTHROWN! while casually walking around as if working on his tan. 

No hate, no fear -- let's shoot people. 
Yup, the anarchists were just itching to get themselves and the white nationalists bloodied up. Anarchy has two definitions: 1) a state of disorder due to absence of authority; 2) absence of government and absolute freedom of the individual, regarded as the political ideal.

Neither of those choices appeal to me, because the individual's  "absolute freedom" likely doesn't include anyone who even thinks about disagreeing with them. The word "irony" is overused to the point of cliché, but sometimes you just can't help it. 

Get your program, you can't tell the good guys from the bad guys
without a program!

Too, there's something about the sight of young people hiding their faces behind bandanas like a squad of leftist Bazooka Joes with meth-crazed eyes that makes me uneasy. Sorry, kids, I associate that look with bad guys in old Westerns who ride into town shooting up the town square, busting up the saloon, and assaulting women before robbing the bank and galloping away in a cloud of dust. 

Now these guys look OK. And they make great oatmeal.

Tu wit: At the risk of sounding like the 62 year-old that I am, if you're afraid to show your face, I can only presume you're up to no good. And the folks on the news shows the following morning congratulating the anti-right marchers as all being on the side of angels should have watched the C-SPAN coverage rather than the cherry-picked spectacle on the other networks. 

White supremacists, fascists, the far right, whatever you want to call them, are horrible people. I wish them nothing but derisive laughter and lifelong impotency in every possible way. 

But nor do I care to associate with a march that welcomes gangs who essentially want the same outcome as the far right, only with different winners. The types who would burn down grocery stores that sold Israeli couscous because they consider it an occupying grain. Whenever they angrily shout, "Power to the people!", I wonder: which people?

Or, to quote another cliché: meet the new boss, same as the old boss.


Monday, August 13, 2018


It would be a miracle if Trump didn't have a hold
on them.
Has there ever been a more powerful president than Donald Trump? I'm not talking political power. No, something more insidious: hypnotic. 

Seemingly everyone within spitting distance of a TV camera, microphone, or computer with internet connection needs to react immediately to whatever he says. My favorite news headline last week, regarding a certain publicity-hungry lawyer's appearance on Fox and Friends, read: ALAN DERSHOWITZ ON TRUMP'S TWEETS ABOUT MCCABE TEXT MESSAGES.

Commenting on comments about comments -- is that what we've come to? And not just any kind of comments, but "tweets". Thank God Twitter wasn't around in the 19th-century; the Gettysburg Address would have run about 100 tweets long -- taxing the attention span of any reader -- while Alan Dershowitz's great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather would have commented on Fox and Confederates.

German? Sorry, if it's not
in Russian, Trump isn't
The more I study people's reactions to Trump, the more I believe that he is, in fact, a modern day Dr. Mabuse. If you've never seen Fritz Lang's classic movies about the criminal mastermind, this Wikipedia description is a good place to start:

Dr. Mabuse is a master of disguise and telepathic hypnosis known to employ body transference, most often through demonic possession but sometimes utilizing object technologies such as television or phonograph machines, to build a "society of crime". Mabuse rarely commits his crimes in person, instead operating primarily through a network of agents enacting his schemes. Mabuse's agents range from career criminals working for him, to innocents blackmailed or hypnotized into cooperation, to dupes manipulated so successfully they do not realize that they are doing exactly what Mabuse planned for them to do. 

Well, if you've ever watched Trump's fans react to his speeches, you've seen hypnosis in action. They believe every word he says no matter how facts contradicts him. Utilizing technologies? Television is Trump's best friend (after the guy in the Kremlin).

And re-read that final sentence with Trump in mind. Career criminals (Paul Manafort, Vladimir Putin), innocents (voters who thought he was going to drain the swamp and give them better healthcare and infrastructure), and dupes (the news media). Move over Mabuse, there's a new kingpin in town!

Now, the people in the news media will doubtless object being called Trump's dupes. But it was pretty clear who was running the show as I watched last Friday's morning news on my phone while, as usual, cleaning the bathroom. (No wonder I associate the news with the most unpleasant task of the day.)

MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle was in her usual state of righteous indignation, this time regarding Trump's morning tweets (damn, do I have to use that word again?) about NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem.

Trump manipulating Stephanie Ruhle into making an idiot of
herself on live television.
This was like a TV critic reviewing a show being rerun for the third time. Ruhle rightly commented that Trump was using the NFL as a distraction from real news --  like the Manafort trial, the Mueller investigation, Trump lying about his idiot son's meeting with Russians, Rudy Giuliani's contradictory drunken rants regarding his client's more or less treasonous behavior, ad nauseum (literally).

Yet Ruhle made the NFL crap the top story, allowing it to run at least 20 minutes, even interviewing three "experts" -- while ignoring the real stories she had just mentioned. She even admitted that Trump was manipulating her. And each time I tuned into MSNBC that day, Trump's NFL tweets were all they were talking about, even as it was described on the bottom of the screen as BREAKING NEWS five hours later. 

Have news folks any strength to resist Dr. Trump? By their own admission, no.

The only difference between Mabuse and the president, then, is that Trump's dupes are fully aware they're being manipulated, but succumb any way -- just so they can proudly complain about it. Give Fox News credit: they're happy to be part of Trump's "society of crime making America great again".


Saturday, August 4, 2018


Sartorial experts say that a businessman needs 10 suits to his name. Being an extra, I find that the two in my closet -- both hand-me-downs from one of my brothers -- serve me quite well.
One in particular, a tan silk number, has proven to be just the ticket when playing a newspaper photographer, whether for the Gotham Gazette or an unnamed Los Angeles daily. Even the tie, shoes, tie and fedora remain the same. Shutterbugs can't afford much more.

Ready when you are, C.B.
A Crime to Remember, like Grave Secrets (which I also worked on), is a "true crime" series on the Investigation Discovery cable network. Seeing that this particular episode took place in the early 1950s, authentic props were required. One of the extras, a camera collector, provided some from his own collection. After arriving at Jackie Robinson Park in Brooklyn (standing in for L.A.), he handed me a camera with a metallic plate that held the film. 

The camera buff had to teach me how to hold the thing with my left arm outstretched, then, with my right hand, slide out the plate, flip it over, and slide it back in for one more shot. 

If you think this sounds easy, then you need your ears examined. It took me at least 20 minutes not only to  do as instructed, but, being physically and mentally uncoordinated, actually understand it. At least on Gotham, I was given a regular 35mm Canon that any fool (i.e., me) could successfully pretend to use.

When the director first called "Action", I was still sweating out my photographic skills. This was made more difficult by not wearing my glasses, which were deemed too contemporary. But as the scene progressed, I became comfortable enough to look like I knew what I was doing (which is difficult under any circumstance).

Far right: my wife thinks I look like Warren Beatty in Bonnie & Clyde
in this shot, which proves either she's in love with me, or needs an
upgrade in her glasses prescription.
In the episode, my colleagues and I are covering a softball game played by local cops. By the third take, I had become more or less proficient with the camera. Luckily, the final cut features me doing nothing more physical than smiling. Maybe I was less proficient with the camera than I thought.

One of the perks of A Crime to Remember and Grave Secrets is that they use a fairly small number of extras, to the point where it's almost impossible not to get screen time. My first appearance was in a tight three-shot as the batter rounds third for home. (I can be glimpsed in the faux-home movie footage as well, which was shot with a different camera.)

The ballplayers are supposed to be the focus of the scene, but who can
take their eyes off the gentlemen of the press?
But I really hit the jackpot in my second shot, where the scene suddenly goes into slow-motion, allowing the audience to gaze upon my sleek figure... and wonder how a photographer can afford such nice duds. 

When we wrapped, the guy who provided the cameras (standing next to me in the two screenshots) told me I learned faster than most people he's taught. Maybe I've got a future in the past.

Another Crime to Remember perk is that the production lists the entire cast, including the extras, on imdb. My episode's page identifies me as Reporter #2. When you click on my name, it brings you to my very own page, where it says I'm "an actor known for A Crime to Remember". I wasn't aware I was known for anything, so I accept imdb's description with humble -- really humble -- appreciation.

If you have a cable app that can access A Crime to Remember, my episode is titled "Badge of the Beast". Or you can watch this shaky video clip:

Friday, August 3, 2018


Madonna is celebrating her upcoming 60th birthday with a fundraiser for orphans and children in Malawi.

She will also celebrate winning first place in a Liberace lookalike contest.

Julie Chen announced that she fully supports her husband, CBS CEO Les Moonves, despite several women bringing sexual harassment charges against him.

When asked why she's sticking with him despite the women's damning accounts, Chen said, "I could give you 70-million pre-tax reasons."

Sarah Douglas of Alberta, Canada, is suing her local McDonald's. The woman, 32 weeks pregnant, ordered a latte, but when she took a sip, discovered it was cleaning fluid.

Douglas realized the mistake because it tasted better than usual.

In related news, Trevor Walker is suing a McDonald's restaurant in Salt Lake City, Utah, for damages after being  served a soda that, it was later discovered, had been spiked with the heroin substitute buprenorphine.

Asked for a comment, a McDonald's spokesman said, "We used buprenorphine because liquor is illegal in Utah."

In further related news, an eight year-old girl in West Virginia was rushed to the emergency room after accidentally poking herself with a hypodermic needle in a McDonald's play area.

The McDonald's manager apologized, explaining that he hadn't received his shipment of buprenorphine yet.


Monday, July 30, 2018


"Go ahead, Bill, just try to tear me down!"
Here in New York about a year ago, there was a move to get rid of various monuments and statues dedicated to historical figures now considered unacceptable to 21st-century mores. The most controversial plan was to get rid of the statue of Christopher Columbus in Columbus Square (which, presumably, would have been renamed Oppressed Peoples Place). 

Our idiot mayor, Bill de Blasio, sensing a cool way to win the all-important perpetually-offended college freshman vote, joined the bandwagon. De Blasio -- not so much a "progressive" as a bald-faced opportunist -- used his heritage as a literal cover, since his real name is Warren Wilhelm, Jr. (de Blasio being his mother's name). Now that my neighborhood, Yorkville, is less German and more Eastern Europe these days, he wouldn't be offending any large voting bloc with his new nom de politics.

There have been similar moves across the country, not only removing statues but renaming streets and parks that were dedicated to Confederate military men and slave holders. Now Austin, Texas, is getting in on the trend by renaming not a public square but the entire city.

Now get out if you ain't white.
Stephen F. Austin is known as the "Father of Texas", making this perhaps the only birth where the mother is unknown. Austin, like most Southerners of his time, was big on slavery, an employment situation that made Texas what it is today -- one of the top ten racist states in the union, while the city of Austin itself is pretty racist, too.

There's no suggestions as to what the new name would be. It could revert to the original, Waterloo, but that has a sorry history as well. And a PBS music series called Waterloo City Limits just doesn't have the same ring.

Look around the USA and you'll find plenty of cities that anybody could object to. Atheists undoubtedly have a beef with Providence, RI. But despite making the occasional noise, atheism's heyday peaked in 1963 with the banning of prayer in public schools. So Saint Louis is safe for now, too.
Hey, you got a whole mountain named after you!

But what of Polack Lake, Michigan? Wop Draw, Wyoming? Chinaman Bayou, Louisiana?And not one but two Jewtowns -- one in the North, one in the South, just so you Yankees don't get on your progressive high horse. Unlike Austin, the citizens of these towns are proud of their heritage -- as are the otherwise liberal West Coasters who enjoy an annual ski run down Squaw Valley, California.

Personally, I'd be embarrassed to live in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, which, almost 70 years ago, changed its name (from the perfectly reasonable Hot Springs), as a stunt for the radio quiz show. Oh, to be a native of The $64,000 Question, Ohio, or You Bet Your Life, Utah.

Then, of course, are the towns more potentially offensive for other reasons:

Maybe Woonsocket really means
"Place Where You Go to Die"
 I find myself in the odd position of defending my home state, Rhode Island. Woonsocket was likely derived from the Indian word Woonksechocksett, meaning "fox country". And only somebody calling the gutter his home couldn't figure out that the town of Essex, Mass., is of British origin. But Humptulips? You got me there.

As for the statue of Columbus... once social justice warriors moved onto another war (thank you, illegal immigrants!), Wilhelm/de Blasio decided that ol' Chris could stay where he was. 

Watch it, Bill, you'll offend the vegetarians.
Playing more of a role, however, was that Bill -- who, despite having close to zero friends in the Democratic party and swearing he'd serve out his entire mayoral term -- is allegedly convinced he's going to be its 2020 presidential candidate.  And he realized
that pissing off 15.7 million Italian Americans wasn't the best vote-getter. 

Still, why stop at Columbus? Rockefeller Center is named after one of those detested billionaires! Statue of Liberty? Liberty for who? Certainly not "the people". George Washington Bridge? More like the Slave Owner Bridge! 

Now if we're going to rename anything, it should be the White House. I think the Kremlin West sounds right.


Tuesday, July 24, 2018


What's worse? Getting arrested,
or stripping in Columbus, Ohio?
Remember when Stormy Daniels was going to be the secret weapon in bringing down the Trump administration? Those tapes her lawyer was threatening to release but never did? The other women who had come forward to corroborate her story? Being interviewed by Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes? 

Man, does that seem like a long time ago! Longer, in fact, than everything Trump has done to bring down his administration but hasn't. 

In fact, it's only been downhill for Stormy since then. First, being accused of covering up a sexual assault on the set of a movie she was directing. A few weeks later, getting a little too touchy with customers while performing at a strip club.  And now, her husband, Glendon Crain, is filing for divorce on the grounds of adultery

I thought it was Matt Damon playing a werewolf.
Adultery? Has he been in a coma in the decade they've been a couple? Were they grocery shopping when he saw her picture in the National Enquirer, and yelled, "You do what for a living?!" What part of "porn star" doesn't he understand?

The same part, apparently, that baffles Daniels' lawyer, Michael "Ready For My Camera Time" Avanetti, who says the "accuracy" of the divorce petition is "vehemently disputed". I urge both he and Crain to peruse her resume on imdb, where titles like Trailer Trash Nurses 6, Finally Legal 7, and Naked Hollywood 17 suggest something more than a desire to make sequels -- although, to be fair, she did star in at least one original story, Young and Anal. 

On their way to parents night at school.
Kudos, too, to Avanetti asking "for privacy for the sake of the family" with a straight face. Especially since Crain objected to Daniels bringing their 7 year-old daughter on her "Make America Horny Again" strip tour. Hasn't he heard of "Take Our Daughter to Work Day"?

Just how Glendon Crain apparently misunderstood his wife's occupation can be explained by his day job as a touring musician, working with various thrash metal and goth bands over the years. Hey, a guy's making an honest buck doing what he loves, only to find out the little lady's  doing porn while he's on the road. It's the same old story, amirite?

So dedicated was he to bringing home the bacon that he even got himself a side job... starring in movies including Slumber Party Orgy, Nymphos, and Screw You. Yes, if you haven't figured it out by now, Glendon Crain (aka Brendon Miller) is in porn, too! Maybe if they made movies together, he'd have known what Stormy was up to.

He's already got the "politician face" down cold.
Perhaps all this family fol-de-rol is getting to Michael Avanetti. In what seems to be another chance to book an appearance on Morning Joe, Avanetti is getting involved with the Michael Cohen case. (Porn star, Trump fixer: same occupation, different workplaces.) When asked what he would do if Trump ran for re-election, Avanetti tweeted:

You know what's sad? There might not be anyone more qualified than a porn star's lawyer.


Friday, July 13, 2018


I started watching yesterday's "Kill Peter Strzok" hearings on my Moto G5 while, quite appropriately, cleaning the toilet, just in case I had to throw up. You know how Trump has created a new group of self-proclaimed "former Republicans"? I want to start one called "former humans", just so I don't have to identify with what my species has devolved to.
Kind of makes you regret the South losing the Civil War.

Whether it's South Carolina's Trey "Zippy the Pinhead" Gowdy or Louie "Shitkicker And Proud of It" Gohmert of Texas, the GOP majority on the House panel spent nine hours yelling, yowling, and repeating questions that had been asked five times already, demanding that FBI agents disclose their political "biases" (formerly known as "points of view") upon hiring, and bringing up Strzok's marriage problems (Hello, Donald Trump!), all in a bid to cast doubt on the FBI's investigation of the President and his minions. 

It was a spectacle reminiscent of throwing Christians to the lions, only with more bloodlust, or a gang of idiot schoolyard bullies walloping the smartest kid in class because, deep down, they know how inadequate they are. The way the GOP Representatives were acting, why, you'd have thought they were doing the bidding of the Kremlin or something!

If Strzok had wanted to play their game, he could have said, "Gee, you guys loved loved loved the FBI when we were combing through Hillary Clinton's emails. You questioned the patriotism of any Democrat who wondered if James Comey deliberately threw her under the bus when he announced the investigation days before the election. But now that the shoe is on the other cloven hoof, suddenly we've become a combination of the SS, Stasi, and a power-mad crossing guard."

And yes, the Democrats have proven to be quite pliable in their opinions regarding federal law enforcement, too, with a couple of their Representatives saying something along the lines of, "I can't believe I'm defending the FBI." 

Well, I can believe it, because you have only a scintilla more principles than your Republican colleagues. (Is this a good time to bring up the deafening silence from Democrats when Pres. Obama suggested our NATO allies kick in a few more euros and pounds into the kitty?) Both sides have re-written the song Groucho Marx sings in Horse Feathers, so that the lyrics have become, "Whatever he says, I'm against it."
She's just doing stretching exercises, is all.

But it's the GOP that is not just in the gutter, but building permanent housing there, too. It would be pleasant to think that they know what's coming down the pike, and they are merely making their last stand before the Mueller investigators show their hand. 

They see the polls -- 90% of their party is pro-Trump, and his overall numbers are what Obama's were at this point -- but mainly they also listen to the bleating of the 30% of hardcore Trump supporters, who would gladly see him made Dictator-for-Life. (By the way, why doesn't somebody manufacture a jockstrap with his face on it -- The Official Trump Supporter!)

Make America Great Again.
That 30% is the about the same  number as Americans who doubt the validity of the Holocaust and the effectiveness of vaccines. If all those people were Republicans, we would  see their Representatives call for a revision of history books, and demand that doctors no longer prevent children from getting polio. And yes, it will happen if they hear from enough of their voters.

During his second inaugural address, Pres. Franklin Roosevelt declared, "I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished." Today, I see one-third of a nation ill-tempered, ill-behaved, and mentally ill. I get why many of them voted for Trump, for he appealed to those who were ignored by the establishment of both parties in favor of the big-dollar donors. 

But yesterday's hearing -- if Trump's behavior and first-grade-level vocabulary weren't enough -- should cause them to realize our country is careening toward a cliff from which there will be great difficulty climbing up. And if we listen carefully as we drive off, they'll hear a familiar voice shouting, "Das vedanya!" while they lift a glass of Stoli in tribute.

Breaking news: Robert Mueller team has indicted a dozen or so Russian military officials for hacking into the DNC and Hillary Clinton's emails. I look forward to the 30% saying, But they were just doing what Trump wanted them to do!