HEY YOU! YES, YOU!!

HEY YOU! YES, YOU!!


However you may have arrived here, this is the old Not Not Silly Newsroom.

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.

Feel free to stay and read what you came here to read, but when it's time to leave go to the new place by clicking HERE.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Don Knotts Is Back ► A Morgantown Update

The Don Knott's Memorial is back in its place
of honour in front of the Metrpolitan Theatre.
Avid readers of my Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research series will remember 2014's Travelogue, A Tribute to Don Knotts ► Morgantown's Favourite Son. I am happy to be able to provide a NNS Update.

Morgantown has been on my Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research itinerary for the past 3 years. On my 1st visit, way back in 2013, I was delighted to discover a wonderful brass plaque embedded in the sidewalk in front of the historic Metropolitan Theatre, honouring Don Knotts. The Met was where Knotts got his start in Show Biz as one half of a ventriliquist act. His dummy, Danny "Hooch" Matador, was the other half.

Last year's shocking sight
Last year, when the Not Now Silly Newsroom sent me on the Don Knotts Memorial Nostalgia Tour, I knew I needed an updated picture of the Knotts star. I was shocked -- shocked, I tells ya -- to discover it missing. I went inside and demanded to know where the Don Knotts tribute had gone. The ticket takers knew nothing, so I spoke to the manager. He was not sure where the star had gone, but he sent me up the street to the Morgantown Visitors' Center.

While no one there really knew the whereabouts of Don Knotts' Memorial plaque, my visit was fortuitously timed. The front of the Visitors' Center was dedicated to a large, biographical, shoestring display honouring Morgantown's favourite son. That report is documented in A Tribute to Don Knotts ► Morgantown's Favourite Son, so there's no needed to repeat it here.

Maybe it was last year's Not Now Silly Investigative Report -- or maybe it had just been returned on schedule after it had been repaired -- but I am delighted to report that the Don Knotts Memorial Star is back in its place of honour in front of the Metropolitan Theatre.

I'll be returning to Morgantown next month, possibly twice, on the Sunrise to Hamilton Road Trip for Nuptials. Not Now Silly will use the time to investigate what's new in the world of Don Knotts.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Murder and Morning Television

299 Queen Street West became the CHUM/City Building.
There are some news stories that hit harder than others. That describes yesterday, which left me bereft.

Back in the '90s, as many of you know, I was a News Writer for BreakfastTelevision on Toronto's Citytv. In many ways BT was, and still is, the template for almost every newsy, happy talk, morning show since.

However, not many people know that before I started writing news for CityPulse, I was hired at Citytv as a Security Guard. For several years I worked at the front desk in the lobby for 12 hour shifts. It was 2 weeks of days followed by 2 weeks of nights, both 9-9. Night shifts were easy. Once an hour I would walk around inside the locked 5-story building, rattling doorknobs and taking note of who was still working.

Day shifts were a whole 'nothing thing. One could be called upon to do anything and everything, from guarding talent live on the air on the sidewalk to finding a way to sneak mega-stars in and out of the building (which is why there is video footage of me and George Harrison doing a Walk & Talk; a story still to be written).

Any number of things could go wrong while doing live segments, all of them out of my control. Luckily nothing ever happened on one of my shifts. However, while setting up for live segments, I witnessed first-hand how people had a strange, proprietary interest in our on air personalities. Maybe because they came into everybody's living room, people felt they were approachable in ways that, say, Hollywood celebrities are not.

Whenever we were out in the field, the hard part was getting rid of all the people wanting to talk to the talent as we were about to go live. The potential for someone stumbling into the shot was always great. I stopped more than one person from walking up to David Onley while he was delivering the weather.

The Now Now Silly Newsroom chooses not to post the videos of this heinous act. If you absolutely have to see it, it can be found at: Vester Lee Flanagan: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know, which has some other good info.

One thing I never considered were guns. Because there are far fewer guns in circulation in Canada, it would never have entered my mind.

A screen cap from the gunman's perspective
When the news flashed across the Not Now Silly Breaking News Desk yesterday, I did as most people: started channel flipping to learn as much as I could. What was this? Domestic Terrorism? Foreign Terrorism? A grudge against a news department? A grudge against a tee vee station? Domestic violence? A Right Wing whack job? Left Wing whack job? Plain old whack job?

None of the above. It was Workplace Violence by a whack job, a very narrow category. A disgruntled employee held a grudge for 2 years before he finally went off yesterday. The gunman's rambling manifesto mentions grievances against the station and the 2 employees killed. He claimed to have been radicalized by the murder of 9 Black folk in a Charlestown church in June and described himself as a "human powder keg" ... "just waiting to go BOOM!!!!"

For maximum effect, the murders were timed to occur when the reporter was live, and for a while the footage was played on a loop on CNN before cooler heads prevailed and they yanked it off the air.

However, there were greater horrors to come. The assassin posted his own version of the murders on Facebook from his point of view. While both Twitter and Facebook suspended his accounts almost immediately, the video had already escaped into the wild and there is no pulling it back. Ever.

I have viewed all the video there is to see, so you don't have to. It's not a macho thing. It's a newsman thing. While it is the most chilling video I've ever seen, because you know what's coming but it takes almost 30 seconds for it to happen, it's not the worst video I've ever watched. That would be a tie between footage of the massacres in Rwanda and brains all over Highway 427 after a car crash, which the cameraman kept shooting and framing artistically and lovingly, even though he knew there was no way the footage would ever make it to air. I had to watch it to see what we could put on the air.

So, I watched the footage made by the gunman, knowing it would not be the worst thing I've ever seen. However, I had no idea how close to home it would hit.

I only watched it once (because once is enough), but can describe the entire thing. Vester Flanagan made Rookie Mistake #1: The camera is tilted to portrait, not landscape. As he moves closer to his targets, he adjusts the zoom, in and then out again. Then you see his hand holding the gun enter the frame. It moves from one person to another, as if he can't believe no one's paid any attention to him yet. Cameraman Adam Ward has panned off to the right and has his back turned to Flanagan. Alison Parker is so focused on interviewing Vicki Gardner, of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, that she doesn't even notice the danger as Flanagan waves the gun back and forth in what may have been her peripheral vision. Then the shooting begins.

I've been there! I've guarded live shots!! I have stood right there!!!

I spent the rest of the day shivering and reliving that footage in my head. This one hit a lot closer to home and a lot closer than I expected when I started following the story.

►►► R.I.P. ◄◄◄
Alison Parker and Adam Ward
both described as having a very bright future. 


Launching Throwback Thursday with The Westerfield Journals

RECENTLY REDISCOVERED: These are the pages in my journal I thinking
aloud before I have my first-ever interview for my first-ever writing job.

I must have impressed because I was hired for Record Week soon afterwards.
Back in the day, long before there was a computer on every desk, I kept a journal. 

I now have more than a dozen of them weighing down one of my shelves. They are all a multi-media hodgepodge of words, collages, to do lists, calendars, phone numbers, and naked, uninhibited thoughts. Just the usual, yannow?

I've recently posted a few of the pages of my journal on my facebookery and people seem to like them. My friend (and former workmate at Island Records) Kathy Hahn reminded me how much she loved reading through my journals and how they anticipated internet postings, but in an analog format. It was a truly Smack My Head moment. I had never considered that before, but she's absolutely right. Page after page of my journals mimic what I would later try to recreate on the innertubes.

In college I wrote a regular column called "Octoroon Expressway" for the alternative
newspaper. The journals have lots of collages made from 4 for a Quarter booth pics.
Maybe it's a side-effect of aging, but I've been rifling through my past a lot lately. With my journals it's been fun to see what I had written years ago. Some of it I remember writing. A lot of it I had forgotten about totally. Some of it I wouldn't dare publish today, despite it being obvious humour that more obviously failed. I clearly had no standards back then. Now I have some.

Several years ago an unnamed friend at an unnamed publishing company was convinced a compilation of my journal pages would make an interesting book. It was something I had never considered before, but she convinced me to go through all of my journals and highlight interesting pages with Post It Notes. She thought some pages could be published "as is" while some would need some text for context. However, she thought a compilation would provide a time capsule of the era.

I did as she asked and then packed all my journals and sent them to her. She had them for so long that became worried that I'd never get them back. Whenever I'd request them, she'd tell me that she thinks she had her editor convinced, just give her a little more time. Eventually, the publisher passed on the project and I finally got my journals back. She had them for almost 2 years.

My staff photographer was longtime friend Steve Feldman
Now, as I launch a new totally original feature (because no one has ever used the expression Throwback Thursday before), I thought it would be nice to show a few pages from my journals every once in a while.

My new totally original feature Throwback Thursday will be, like my many journals, a hodgepodge of ideas and thoughts. However, the connective tissue will be that they will all be about history, whether it's my history, or that of the world at large.

If you follow my Twitter of Facebook feeds, you will know I often exclaim that history is complicated. Hopefully, Throwback Thursday will simplify some of that complexity.

Throwback Thursday will provide a bit of fun for me as well. I'm looking at it as an archaeological project, whether I'm mining my own life, or digging up little-known facts and events from history.

So, dear readers, tune into the Not Now Silly Newsroom every Thursday at this time for a look back on people, places, and events that will delight, infuriate, or simply confound you.

Two journal pages that describe a Paul McCartney concert in Toronto, followed by a Bob
Marley concert in Detroit the next day, and being hassled by the cops in Southfield, Michigan.

The gal in the photographs only went out with me for my Paul McCartney All Access passes. We never dated again.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Linton Kwesi Johnson ► A Monday Musical Appreciation

Celebrating a birthday today is Linton Kwesi Johnson, the first Dub Poet. I first became aware of him through Island Records Canada, which I worked for in the '70s, and he was already a force in Britain. In 2012, according to the The Guardian:
Father of dub poetry Linton Kwesi Johnson will join names including Harold Pinter, JG Ballard and Doris Lessing as winner of the Golden PEN award, for a lifetime's distinguished service to literature.

Known for his controversial poem "Inglan Is A Bitch", and for "Di Great Insohreckshan", a response to the 1981 Brixton riots in which he stated "It is noh mistri / we mekkin histri", Johnson writes what he calls "dub poetry", a blend of reggae music and verse written in a Jamaican-London vernacular. Often performing with the Dennis Bovell Dub Band, he has been writing and performing since the mid-1970s. In 2002, he was the second living poet, and the only black poet, to be included in the Penguin Modern Classic Series.


Linton Kwesi Johnson accepting his Golden PEN award

Johnson was chosen by the trustees of English PEN to receive the honour. President and author Gillian Slovo described him as "an artistic innovator, a ground-breaker who has used poetry to talk politics and who first gave voice to, and who continues to give voice to, the experience of moving country and of living in this one".

Johnson himself said he was "surprised and humbled" to win the prize, because his poetry is from the "little tradition" of Caribbean verse. "I hope that by conferring on me this award, English PEN will involve more black writers in its important work and that more black writers will support English PEN," he said.


His British Council Literature page says, in part:
He joined the Black Panther movement in 1970, organising a poetry workshop and working with Rasta Love, a group of poets and percussionists. He joined the Brixton-based Race Today Collective in 1974. His first book of poems, Voices of the Living and the Dead, was published by the Race Today imprint in 1974. His second book, Dread, Beat An' Blood (1975) includes poems written in Jamaican dialect, and was released as a record in 1978. He is widely regarded as the father of 'dub poetry', a term he coined to describe the way a number of reggae DJs blended music and verse. Johnson maintains that his starting point and focus is poetry, composed before the music, and for this reason he considers the term 'dub poetry' misleading when applied to his own work. He recorded several albums on the Island label, including Forces of Victory (1979), Bass Culture (1980), LKJ In dub (1980) and Making History (1984) and founded his own record label - LKJ - in the mid-1980s, selling over two million records worldwide. 

According to John Dougan's Artist Biography at All Music:
Although he has only released one album of new material in the last ten years, and virtually retired from the live stage after his 1985 tour, Linton Kwesi Johnson remains a towering figure in reggae music. Born in Kingston, Jamaica and raised in the Brixton section of London, Johnson invented dub poetry, a type of toasting descended from the DJ stylings of U-Roy and I-Roy. But whereas toasting tended to be hyperkinetic and given to fits of braggadocio, Johnson's poetry (which is what it was -- he was a published poet and journalist before he performed with a band) was more scripted and delivered in a more languid, slangy, streetwise style.
But, as always, it's all about The Music:



The Monday Musical Appreciation is a brand new Not Now Silly feature, bringing insight into the music that turns me on.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Donald Trump, Demagoguery, and The National Shrine of the Little Flower

The National Shrine of the Little Flower, © Headly Westerfield
Back when I was still writing for NewsHounds under the nom de plume of Aunty Em Ericann, I famously compared Glenn Beck to Father Charles Coughlin, one of 'Merka's biggest demagogues.

That was then. These days the biggest Merkin Demagogue is Donald J. Trumpolini.

In November of 2009 I wrote about growing up in Detroit:
Because of its majestic feel, I always loved when we drove up Woodward. At 12 Mile Road, on the northeast corner, stands a church that attracted my attention even as a Jewish child. It’s just so beautiful despite, or because of, the iconography. The National Shrine of the Little Flower really is a gorgeous building and seeing it as a child started me off on an appreciation of architecture that continues to this day.

On the opposite corner sprawls Roseland Park Cemetery. I mention this graveyard for one reason: whenever we passed this corner some of my older relatives would spit a “patooey” as we crossed 12 Mile. Because some of the older Jews in my family still held Old World values and superstitions, I had always assumed it was some curse to protect against the dead.

It was only years later, when I began to understand both architecture and politics, did I come to learn that this monument to Jesus Christ at the Shrine of the Little Flower was also a monument and a shrine to, and built by, Father Charles Coughlin, one of the most rabid anti-Semites to ever have his own radio show. At his height he is said to have had 40 million listeners. 
Beck responded, disingenuously, that because their politics were so totally different, there's no way he could be compared to Father Charles Coughlin. But, there's actually nothing in the definition about one's politics:
dem-uh-gog, -gawg noun

  1. a person, especially an orator or political leader, who gains power and popularity by arousing the emotions, passions, and prejudices of the people.
    2. (in ancient times) a leader of the people.

verb (used with object), demagogued, demagoguing.

  1. to treat or manipulate (a political issue) in the manner of a demagogue; obscure or distort with emotionalism, prejudice, etc.

verb (used without object), demagogued, demagoguing.

  1. to speak or act like a demagogue.
My submission for a Trumpolini bumper sticker
If the coif fits, Donald J. Trump wears it. He has now become Merka's biggest demagogue, and in such a short time, too.

It started with his offensive comments about Mexicans at his announcement speech, if a rambling, braggadocios, and at times, incoherent word salad worthy of Sarah Palin can be called a speech. He's too rich and busy for Political Correctness, which can be reduced to a bumper sticker: TRUMP 2016: RUDE AS I WANNA BE.

Of course Trump was expected to attack his GOP opponents. To be perfectly honest, the Left Wing has been serving popcorn at his verbal jibes against Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham, Carla Fiorina, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, and Rick Perry. It's all in good clean fun, provided you're not one of them or their supporters. However, when Donald Trump attacked John McCain, even the Reich Wing of the party blanched, until they realized it didn't hurt him at all. That's when they realized Donald's Demagoguery was actually working. Supporting Trump, hoping to get his sloppy seconds when he finally flames out, are Ted Crux and Mike Huckabee.

Who could have predicted he'd sue Univision just as the campaign was starting? Who ever expected Trump to attack Heidi Klum? Or, Secretariat? More to the point, who expected him to bite the Fox "News" Channel hand that feeds his enormous ego? If that weren't enough, his misogynist comments about Megyn Kelly were almost enough to make Andrew Dice Clay blush.

Yet, so far, Donald Trump has defied gravity. Nothing he says, no matter how stupid or offensive, seem to be bringing him back to earth. His poll numbers continue to climb as he "gains power and popularity by arousing the emotions, passions, and prejudices of the people." That's the textbook definition of demagogue, folks.

Sadder still is that nothing has really changed in the decades since Father Charles Coughlin and his divisive hate speech thrilled a large portion of the nation. Everything old is new again.