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It's a long story -- hardly worth going into here -- but after this place was declared a Brownfield Site, we abandoned it for the NEW! IMPROVED!! Not Now Silly Newsroom.

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Two of the Greatest Go Out Together ► Throwback Thursday

►►► R.I.P. ◄◄◄

Debbie Reynolds


And, for the politically incorrect:





Carrie Fisher









And, on this sad Throwback Thursday, to all the others we lost in 2016:

Pat Harrington Jr., David Bowie, René Angélil, Alan Rickman, Dan Haggerty, Glenn Frey, Abe Vigoda, Paul Kantner, Maurice White, Vanity, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Harper Lee, Umberto Eco, Sonny James, George Kennedy, Pat Conroy, Nancy Reagan, George Martin, Keith Emerson, Frank Sinatra Jr., Rob Ford, Joe Garagiola, Garry Shandling, Patty Duke, Merle Haggard, David Gest, Doris Roberts, Chyna, Prince, Papa Wemba, Billy Paul, Guy Clark, Morley Safer, Alan Young, Nick Menza, Muhammad Ali, Theresa Saldana, Gordie Howe, Anton Yelchin, Ralph Stanley, Bernie Worrell, Bill Cunningham, Alvin Toffler, Scotty Moore, Elie Wiesel, Michael Cimino, Noel Neill, Garry Marshall, David Huddleston, Pete Fountain, Barry Jenner, Kenny Baker, Fyvush Finkel, Lou Pearlman, Matt Roberts, Toots Thielemans, Gene Wilder, Jerry Heller, Lady Chablis, Greta Zimmer Friedman, Alexis Arquette, Edward Albee, W.P. Kinsella, Curtis Hanson, Bill Nunn, José Fernández, Arnold Palmer, Shimon Peres, Tommy Mykal Ford, Steve Dillon, Janet Reno, Leonard Cohen, Robert Vaughn, Leon Russell, Gwen Ifill, Sharon Jones, Florence Henderson, Fidel Castro, Ron Glass, Grant Tinker, John Glenn, Joseph Mascolo, Alan Thicke, Zsa Zsa Gabor, George Michael, Ricky Harris, and Richard Adams (among others).

Monday, December 26, 2016

Putting His Money Where His Mouth Is ► Monday Musical Appreciation

FURTHER READING:

Stan Freberg ► Nostalgia Ain't What It Used To Be

Day In History ► Manhattan Island Sold
Let me be the last to wish you a Happy Holiday this year.

It's only appropriate that on St. Stephen's Day, honouring The First Martyr™, the Not Now Silly Newsoom finds a new way to commemorate Stan Freberg, this time for a selfless act of philanthropy performed on this day in musical history.

Funded by the royalties on his recording of "Green Chri$tma$", a thumb-in-the-eye at the over-commercialization of Christmas, Freberg gave $1,000 to the Hemophilia Foundation on this day. However, there's more to the story, of course.

More proof that the more things change, the more they stay the same: Christmas is still over-commercialized and saying anything negative against the holiday brings about a Phony War on Christmas.

According to Top 5 Christmas Novelty Recordings:
“Green Christmas” is a brilliant satire of the advertising profession and the commercialization of Christmas by the same. Borrowing from Dickens, Scooge is the COB of a large advertising firm, who is confronted by Bob Cratchit, the owner of a small spice company who is resisting the push to use Christmas as an advertising bonanza. Many of the most prominent products being hawked in a Holiday vein at that time (Coca-Cola, Chesterfield cigarettes, etc…) were slyly parodied, and subsequently many advertisers of the day refused to have their commercials air anytime the record was played and as a result the record received no commercial airplay. Nevertheless, the record sold, and there was a newspaper report on December 27, 1958, that the day after Christmas of 1958, Stan Freberg presented a check for $1,000 to the Hemophilia Foundation of Southern California as his royalties from the first year’s release of “Green Chri$tma$.” He gave all royalties from the song to charities to quell any criticism that he was profiting hypocritically from the subject of his satire.
Listen to this way-ahead-of-its-time tune:


In an unofficial vote of NNS staffers, Freberg wins as the greatest song parodist hands down. Not to take anything away from Weird Al, but Freberg took his droll humour from records to entire advertising campaigns. However, the negative publicity in the wake of "Green Chri$tma$" almost sunk him. Here's what the WikiWackyWoo has to say about that:

Release

At first, Capitol Records refused to release the record. Lloyd Dunn, the president of Capitol, told Freberg the record was offensive to everybody in advertising, and predicted that Freberg would never work in advertising again. Freberg responded with his intent to end his entire recording contract with Capitol. He spoke to a contact at Verve Records, and the company offered to release the record without even hearing it. Faced with this, Capitol finally decided to release it but provided no publicity at all.
 

Initial reception

The record was attacked in advertising trade magazines. It was played only twice in New York by one disc jockey, and the station's sales department threatened to have him fired if he played it again. KMPC in Los Angeles played the record, but some advertisers required that their ads be scheduled more than fifteen minutes away from it. An editorial in the Los Angeles Times condemned it, but the author later admitted he had not listened to it. Similarly, Robert Wood, the station manager of KCBS-TV in Los Angeles (later president of CBS), cancelled a TV interview with Freberg because the record was "sacrilegious" and he did not need to hear it because he had read about it.[2] KRLA, Pasadena (Freberg's hometown) showed it as reaching #3 in popularity in their printed survey. It is unclear whether this was based on sales or airplay.

Station KFWB, then known as "Color Radio Channel 98" also kept on playing the record. KFI, then the Earl C. Anthony station, played it a few times and then discontinued as did many other stations because of reaction from the advertising community.

However, the mail Freberg received from the public, including Christian clergy and rabbis, was overwhelmingly positive.
 

Aftermath

Within six months, Coca-Cola and Marlboro, both recognizably satirized in the record without being named, asked Freberg for advertising campaigns. He turned down Marlboro, but he created a campaign for Coca-Cola that was very effective. And contrary to the predictions of Lloyd Dunn (see above) and others, Freberg's advertising campaigns continued to be in demand and successful for decades.

Some years later, Time magazine was going to publish an essay in their Christmas issue about the overcommercialization of Christmas, including considerable attention to Green Chri$tma$. The essay was killed at the last minute due to pressure from their sales department.
That wasn't the only time Freberg took a crack at Christmas, nor at Jack Webb for that matter, who he also parodied in St. George and the Dragonet, and Little Blue Riding Hood, and Christmas Dragnet, all from 1953:


Sadly Stan Freberg died almost 3 years ago, in April of 2015. Read his NYT obit, Stan Freberg, Madcap Adman and Satirist, Dies at 88, for a deeper dive into this hilarious satirist's life.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Subversive Cartoons ► Saturday Morning Cartoons

Not every cartoon is safe for Saturday morning kiddie shows.  Here's a terrific documentary called Cartoons Kick Ass; A History of Subversive Animation. Ironically this doc is NSFW.


It's followed by one of my favourite subversive cartoons.



Sadly Part 3 seems unembedable,
but you can WATCH IT HERE.


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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Musical Premieres ► Throwback Thursday

Painting by Joseph Karl Stieler
On this day in 1808 Ludwig van Beethoven premiered his most well-known composition. The first 8 notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony are immediately recognizable. 

Not only did he premiere-- and conduct -- the Fifth, but this concert at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna goes down in history as one of his most famous. It also saw the world premier of his Sixth Symphony. Other compositions on the bill that night were Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto, premiered at a private event a year earlier, but this was its first public performance; and Choral Fantasy, so new the ink on the manuscript had barely time to dry. These last two performances featured Beethoven playing the piano.

This concert itself has become famous. As the WikiWackyWoo tells us
The Beethoven concert of 22 December 1808 was a benefit concert held for Ludwig van Beethoven at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna that featured the public premieres of Beethoven's Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, the Fourth Piano Concerto and the Choral Fantasy. This concert, then called an Akademie, occurred in a very cold hall and was approximately four hours duration. Its featured performers were an orchestra, chorus, vocal soloists, and the composer as piano soloist. Beethoven biographer Barry Cooper refers to the concert, in terms of its content, as the "most remarkable" of Beethoven's career".[1]
This would be the last time Beethoven performed a piano concerto before an audience. Again the Wiki picks up the story:
Beethoven's hearing loss did not prevent him from composing music, but it made playing at concerts—a lucrative source of income—increasingly difficult. After a failed attempt in 1811 to perform his own Piano Concerto No. 5 (the "Emperor"), which was premiered by his student Carl Czerny, he never performed in public again until he directed the premiere performance of the Ninth Symphony in 1824, which involved him giving cues to conductor Michael Umlauf.[52]
But, as we say in the Not Now Silly Newsroom, it's all about the music:



And just for fun:

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If you've liked anything you've read at the Not Now Silly Newsroom,  please consider donating to my Go Fund Me campaign to Support Investigative Journalism. My Freedom of Information requests from the City of Miami are beginning to add up, not to mention all the other costs of researching systemic racism and corruption in Coconut Grove.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

My Father Who Art In Heaven ► A Pastoral Letter

Dear Pastor Kenny:

Thank you so much for the book. It was on my doorstep when I arrived home. I was locked out when I got here (long story), so I read it and finished it while waiting for the locksmith. It brought me to tears, but many things do these days. My emotions are still raw.

It is a wonderful book which I will now recommend to others who have just lost a loved one.

It was also wonderful for you and Julia to come to Pops' Shiva on Sunday. It meant so much to me. Aside from the fact that you were the only friend of mine to be invited, it somehow closed a loop that began when we met on Gilchrist Street 59 years ago.

[And, it was just slightly subversive to have a pastor and a priest in a clerical collar at the most solemn of Jewish gatherings.]

Fifty-nine years is a very long time, but a mere blink of the eye in the scheme of things. I wonder if we had not lost touch for most of that time whether we would still be friends. We seem to share views on politics and social justice. Our only major disagreement is about God.

While I am far more opinionated than I was about most issues, I am less intolerant of other people's belief systems than I've ever been. I can't say I always understand them, but I don't rail against them; only the hypocrisy that occasionally accompanies them. [See: Evangelicals for Trump]

All this week during evening Shiva services I wore the yarmulke and stood at the appropriate times. I went along with the program in a "When in Rome" manner. However, I did not pick up the prayer book, nor did I mouth the words even though I remembered so many of them from childhood. I've identified as Atheist for a number of years, so it feels hypocritical to mouth words I don't believe in.

Kenny, why is my head so much smaller than yours?
There was a time, Ken, when I did say the words, even if I didn't feel them. But one day the that light bulb went on and I have never been able to turn it off. Yes, brother, I have seen the light. Hallelujah!!! No more hypocrisy for me. [If only!]

Yet, there are times I discover -- or, as is more likely, people point it out to me -- that I have said, or done, something hypocritical. I can't proceed until I've made amends (if needs be) or examined my hypocrisy from every conceivable angle. Only then do I feel I can forgive myself for being a hypocrite.

Forgiveness is a big part of your religion, Kenny, and I marvel at the ability to forgive others. This is something I find extremely difficult to do, if not downright impossible, when I have been wronged by someone.

As you know my writing and research has taken me into a unique Black neighbourhood in Coconut Grove. Through that I have met priests and pastors, military men and women, and older folk who have lived through many of the years of our racist country's racist past (not that racism has ended by any means). One question I ask over and over again is where do they find the compassion and empathy to forgive those who have wronged them. They've all said the same thing, if not with the same exact words: Our religion, our God, our belief in Jesus instructs us, compels us, reminds us to forgive.

That whole God thing must be pretty powerful if it can be used as both a shield and a sword against the hate directed their way.

Where am I going with this? 

Just as I was leaving Michigan I had a massive blow-up with one of my sisters. It came as I was trying to get over the hump of our last blow-up, which happened almost exactly 1 year ago. We've barely spoken since then because she started last year by saying "You may never talk to me again after I say this, but..."

I decided I would let her be right and I was totally comfortable with that. I won't be verbally abused by anybody, even -- or especially -- my own sister.

However, what made me decide to circle the square was 2 things: First, all week during evening Shiva services God, family, and forgiveness were all mentioned several times. I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but it started to penetrate my thick skull.

However, it was a story a gentleman told me after Shiva services one night that made me decide to make amends. Here's his story in a nutshell:
Years ago when this gent (who is our age) was just a young man, he learned he had an aunt he never knew about and no one ever spoke of. It was his mother's sister. So he decided he was going to find her and reach out to her. Eventually he discovered a woman in Florida with the right name, but it was a relatively common Jewish name.

He called her up and said, "I'm so-and-so and my mother is so-and-so and you may be my aunt."

The woman started screaming at him, "No! I'm not her! I don't know who you are talking about! And, don't ever call me again!!!" She hung up on him.


However, during this time he also discovered he had a cousin about his own age and reached out to him. As it turned out the woman in Florida was his aunt after all.

So the cousin, thrilled to have reconnected with a long-lost relative, called his mother and told her about this. Then he asked if she could send him some of his boyhood pictures so he could show them to my storyteller. His mother agreed to send the pictures, but told her own son never to contact her again!!!
This incident that had occurred decades earlier -- which was apparently over who would get to wear a fancy dress when they were children -- was still fracturing the family.

It was this story, far more than the religious services, that made me decide to make up with my own sister. Who needs this kind of strife in one's life?

My conversation with my sister went sideways immediately. In less than a minute we were screaming at each other. My sister was purposely hateful, hurtful, and abusive. Getting nasty in a fight -- fighting to wound as opposed to to arguing to get to a mutually agreeable point -- seems to be my sister's comfort zone when things are not going her way. She brings a bazooka to a spitball fight.

She attacked me in several ways that would have shocked you had you heard it. It certainly shocked the accidental ear-witnesses, of which there were two. And, it shocked me that she would 'go there' again because it obviously wasn't enough that she said some of the same shit last year when she abused me.

One of the very first things she said was "You are throwing away a perfectly good sister." Aside from the fact that she was really throwing herself out with that statement (because, remember, I was attempting to make up), she felt the need to say it several times. Finally I said, "Then you must be garbage if I am throwing you out."

It didn't get any better from there. When she stormed out she said, "Have a nice life" and I certainly plan on it. And, it may even be nicer without her in it.

Forgiveness? Nope. I don't have it in me even though it was one of Pops' fervent wishes that all of us sibs get along.

IRONY ALERT!!! One of her bones of contention is that I did not accept her apology from a year ago. But her apology was "I love you. I'm sorry we had a fight," which I took as a non-apology apology.

First, we didn't have a fight. She abused me on the phone and I took it silently with tears streaming down my cheeks. Secondly, a real apology takes ownership of one's words and/or actions. There was no ownership of how she had hurt me and she even made me a party to it by describing it as a fight. It was not a fight.

However, one of the things she yelled about yesterday was how when I was apologizing to her, I added a "but." But, here's the deal: I wasn't apologizing. I never said the words "I'm sorry". I said, "We're good, but if you ever talk to me again like you did last December, we're not good ever again." In fact, that was my opening statement to bury the hatchet.

In fact, that's what sent her spinning.

To her that was a failed apology because it added a "but" and apologies don't come with a "but." She's right about that. She's just wrong about it having been an apology.  I wasn't apologizing. I was drawing a line in the sand.

I have nothing I feel the need to apologize for. I said nothing either time that I want to take back or make apologies for. If she's being honest with herself, she cannot say the same thing.

IRONY ALERT #2: During our fight yesterday, with her trying to hold back tears because she was suddenly playing victim after having just verbally abused me, she actually offered a rationale for her behaviour last year and all it would have needed was an "I'm sorry" attached to it and I would have accepted it without reservation. I know how to do that.

IRONY ALERT #3: And, maybe a smidgen of hypocrisy on my part. One of the things I threw at her yesterday was how after our fight of a year ago, she called up all kinds of people to tell her side of the story; something that I didn't do because it was nobody's business. She aired this dirty laundry to family and friends. When I tossed this out yesterday she tried to deny it, but I started rattling off the names of people she told because I heard all about it from several of them. What I don't know is how many people she told and how I was made to be the villain.

My hypocrisy is that I just shared this latest fight with the entire world or, more accurately, anyone who reads this article.

Ken and Julia found each other after the untimely
deaths of their own spouses. A wonderful love story.
One saving grace is that she may read this post and recognize how her behaviour last year and yesterday was over all lines of decency. If so, she may offer an apology. I have never refused a real apology. However, I will still have my line in the sand.

Bottom line, Kenny, is one of these days you will have to teach me all about this forgiveness thing. It seems like a pretty powerful thing and something I still need to learn.

However, while I am still upset over yesterday's fight (in which I did participate, unlike last year) I know I will grow comfortable with where it sits because I have been here before with her and not just last year.

Have a Merry Christmas, Kenny, and give my love and deep regards to Julia. Maybe my next time in Michigan we can go visit the old neighbourhood together. And, maybe I can get you and Julia down here to Florida sometime. I'd love to show you Coconut Grove, which is the where the social justice issues I am writing about reside. In fact, some missionaries recently showed up to help with the fight for social justice in West Grove. I know, right?

Forgive this paraphrase, but "Social justice is the reason for the season."

Talk to you in 2017: The Year We Fight Fascism.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Frank Sinatra ► Monday Musical Appreciation

Had Frank Sinatra not died in 1998, he'd be celebrating his 101st birthday today.

When I was growing up in Detroit there weren't a lot of LPs in the house. However, Pops had a friend who worked for Capitol Records, who gave him promo copies stamped with small holes that spelled out FREE in the upper left-hand corner. These included several classic Sinatra albums from what most people agree was his best period. The fact that he was also on The Beatles' label didn't hurt, either.

[By this point Sinatra was already on Reprise Records, a company he formed. This is when he got the nickname Chairman of the Board. But, I didn't know any of that at the time. Nor would I have cared.]

I started listening to these records when I was about 11 or 12 and they spoke to me immediately. I didn't have the contextual language to know why, but I was a fan at the first needle drop. I would listen to these albums for hours on end, marveling at every nuance. I didn't know that in some places he was rushing the lyric and in others he allowed himself to fall behind. However, what I recognized -- even at that young age -- is that Sinatra had a way of imbuing a lyric with feeling in such a way that made it seem he was talking to me alone.

You may be cool but you will never be as cool as
Sinatra leaving a helicopter with a drink in his hand
I remember how, during the psychedelic era, I'd play some Sinatra to my band mates in Cobwebs and Strange, hoping to get them to agree to cover a Sinatra tune, or three. They couldn't contain their laughter. It was an idea before its time. Soon it would become kitschy to break out a Sinatra tune in your set.

Of course over the years I learned more about Sinatra's career and how he was the first teen idol. Girls -- called bobbysoxers in the day -- would scream and swoon over Frankie. That's what eventually led Sinatra to go solo.

There's some great family lore that Pops used to tell about when Sinatra broke away from the Tommy Dorsey band:

A distant cousin was part of Dorsey's band and played with Sinatra when he was coming up.Then Sinatra went solo and was doing BOFFO business at the Paramount in NYC. The boys decided to head over from Jersey to see Frank. They showed up at the stage door and asked to see their old pal and were told that Mr. Sinatra couldn't see him. From that day to the day he died my relative would spit when he heard Sinatra's name or music.

Sinatra went on to win Oscars and take over Humphrey Bogart's Rat Pack. However, it was the music that made Frank Sinatra special. That's why some people called him simply, "The Voice."

Aaron Samuel Slootsky ► February 14, 1926-December 12, 2016




Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Fox "News" Phony War on Christmas

Every year at this time Fox "News" ramps up one of its perpetual outrage machines. 

Yes, folks, it's that most wonderful time of the year when God's Chosen Network launches the Phony War on Christmas because chastising heathens who prefer HAPPY HOLIDAYS is the reason for the season.

On a related note -- because Fox related them this morning -- there is also its Phony War on Political Correctness, which has only gotten worse since Mr. Politically Incorrect was elected to the Orange Office.

What am I getting at?

There's a meme going around the internet this week that the call and response, male and female, song "Baby, It's Cold Outside" is a little rape-y, with a far-too-close examination of the lyrics making it sound like it was sung by Bill Cosby.

Never letting a crisis go to waste -- and never too ashamed to lie to its viewers to make them angry -- Fox "News" linked that meme with its Phony War on Christmas to send out this bullshit on the facebookery:



Of course I quickly pointed out how Fox "News" was lying to its viewers. Hilarity ensues.


Meanwhile, here's all the proof you need that Fox "News" knows what will stir up hate in its Christian audience:


Some viewers seemed happy to add Race to the mix:


While others just attacked:


And, on and on ad nauseam.

It's true that in this age of Date Rape Drugs the song comes off as promoting roofies. However, it had a much different context when it was written. While Wikipedia can be wrong at times, it's not wrong about this song:
"Baby, It's Cold Outside" is a song written by Frank Loesser in 1944.[1] It is a call and response duet in which one of the singers (usually performed by a male voice) attempts to convince a guest (usually performed by a female voice) that they should stay together for a romantic evening because the weather is cold and the trip home would be difficult. Originally recorded for the film Neptune's Daughter, it has been recorded by many artists since its original release. Although some critical analyses of the song have highlighted parts of the lyrics such as "What's in this drink?" and his unrelenting pressure to stay despite her repeated suggestions that she should to go home,[2] more in depth analysis has noted that cultural expectations of the time period were such that women were not socially permitted to spend the night with a boyfriend or fiance, and that the female speaker states that she wants to stay, while "what's in this drink" was a common idiom of the period used to rebuke social expectations by blaming one's actions on the influence of alcohol;[3] the song is therefore a collusion by two willing lovers to engage in a romantic liaison, using the pretext "it's cold outside" as a shield against the social stigma of the time period against women making their own decisions about their sexuality.
SHORTER ANALYSIS: It's just a cute song. The outrage on both sides is totally overblown.

Now, let's hear the tune by the guy what wrote it and his wife Lynn Loesser:


Every week Headly Westerfield publishes a Monday Musical Appreciation at the Not Now Silly Newsroom.