Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Truest statement of the week

People today receive their news in news silos, cable programming that reassuringly offers only one side of the news. This “echo-journalism” is based on offering a single narrative without the distraction of contradiction.
Recently, MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell declared that his show will not allow Trump supporters on as guests because all Trump supporters are “liars”. Likewise, Trump recently denounced Fox for even interviewing Democratic senators. When that is the state of our news, why should trials be any different?

-- Jonathan Turley, "A Verdict On Our Times: How The Senate Trial Left Us With Rage Over Reason" (BBC NEWS).

Truest statement of the week II

In the past several weeks the level of hysteria in the nonstop corporate media and Democratic Party elite effort to dismiss or discredit Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the party’s presidential nomination has ratcheted up. This isn’t really a surprise, or it shouldn’t be. Since 2016, it has become ever clearer that much of the Democratic establishment and its propaganda organs—MSNBC first among them—are more worried about a victory of the left than about Trump’s re-election. As the Sanders campaign and the political movement propelling it continue to make headway, those forces have become more shrill and over-the-top, with many openly calling for coalescence around a need to stop Sanders from becoming the party’s nominee as the central Democratic objective for 2020. Corporate Democrat hacks and retainers like Chris Matthews, Chuck Todd, et al. have begun hysterically evoking paranoid Birchite fantasies, like Matthews’ recent assertion that Medicare for All will ensue in mass executions in Central Park. Second-string hack Maria Teresa Kumar put her finger on the neoliberal Democrats’ dilemma when she insisted that attacking the billionaire class will backfire on the party if it follows the Sanders line because “there’s not an American that wakes up every single morning and doesn’t say ‘I’m going to get up in the morning so that I someday either can be rich or my kid can be rich.’”

-- Adolph Reed Jr., "Here They Come Again: The Kind of Neoliberal Democrats Who Prefer Trump to Sanders" (COMMON DREAMS).

A note to our readers

Hey --

Tuesday morning.

Let's thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen, 
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

And what did we come up with?  

Jonathan Turley gets another truest.
Adolph Reed Jr. gets a truest.
Moqtada has become a joke.
Ava and C.I. review INDEBTED and other shows.
We'd worked on this a week ago but didn't finish it.  Now we have.
Political roundtable.
There have been a lot of them -- here's our pick for just ten.
Jess moderates a roundtable on music.
The Iowa caucus is one of the ten worst.
What we listened to while writing.


-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: Moqtada a leader?

Once upon a time, Moqtada al-Sadr was a leader -- an actual movement leader.

Then he not only turned his back on the protesters, he ordered his goons to attack them.

Instantly, Moqtada became one of the most hated men in Iraq.

But today?

Today, he's just a joke.

Iraq - protests about gender-mixing ban

In response to Muqtada Al-Sadr's tweet calling for separating men and women between the sexes The slogan of the youth: We Iraqi youth are not the ones who bow to a tweet in Twitter.


Iraqis are mocking Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr online by wearing hijabs and drawing on mustaches after he called for gender segregation at protests. See the full story here:


TV: The good bones of INDEBTED

As HGTV viewers, we're aware of the importance of 'good bones.'  On the show of that name, mother Karen E. Laine and daughter Mina Starsiak find rundown homes with 'good bones' and restore the homes to their former glory. It's a popular show that will begin airing its fifth season shortly.

We were thinking of GOOD BONES and good bones last week when NBC aired the pilot of INDEBTED.  It's a sitcom that's gotten some lousy reviews and that's why NBC should stand by it.  The same Water Cooler Set trashing INDEBTED has praised various crap that viewers have refused to watch.

INDEBTED has a strong cast and has found an interesting way to explore the nuclear family.  Andy Ackerman is an executive producer and directed the pilot.  He has extensive sitcom credits (including GRACE AND FRANKIE, SEINFELD, THE NEW ADVENTURES OF OLD CHRISTINE and CHEERS) but the one that is most pertinent here would be EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND.  Family bonds were explored in that show with the gimmick that the favored son lived across the street from his parents.  Here the gimmick is that the parents are broke and have to move in with the favored son. 

Adam Pally plays Dave, the favored son.  Pally has been an important part of ensembles (HAPPY ENDINGS and THE MINDY PROJECT) but this is first chance to really be the lead in a sitcom and he pulls it off effortlessly.  He's funny and he's likable.  One of his best moments may be, when his son is trying to get candy out of a pinata but accidently hits Dave in the crotch, he gasps, "My sweet, son, there's no candy in Daddy."  SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE's Abby Elliott is effective as Rebecca.  Who is she?  Dave's wife.  That's really all the writers offer her.  Maybe that will change later on.  She's given much less to do for now.

Fran Drescher is perfection as Dave's mother Debbie.  She was THE NANNY for years on CBS and she was very funny as THE NANNY but with Debbie she's created a new character and she's just as funny and just as lovable.  Fran's connection is immediate and visceral.

The same cannot be said for Steven Weber.  His best moments are when he's not connecting -- an aside about dark chocolate, ignoring Debbie to promote their daughter's website again.  He is best with asides and when he comes off oblivious.  The daughter, the unfavorite, by the way is Joanna and Jessy Hodges (ANYONE BUT ME) plays her.

 These are the bones for a long running sitcom.  A show that will live forever in syndication -- like FRIENDS, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, THE BIG BANG THEORY, etc.  This is not a Water Cooler Show.  That would be crap like MY NAME IS EARL -- stuff that really isn't funny and doesn't produce a single, honest laugh.

NBC has a hit on their hands if they play this right, a long running hit.  But, time and again, NBC has blinked when they had a show worth watching.  With one episode, the show has gotten the same number of viewers as any episode of SUPERSTORE now in its fifth season on NBC.  It's ratings were also in line with the other shows NBC broadcast Thursday night (two episode of BROOKLYN NINE-NINE, one of WILL & GRACE and one of LAW & ORDER: SVU).

INDEBTED isn't perfect, by episode three, the show is much stronger.  We would have tried for a better title, for example.  What?  Anything?  UH, YOU'RE JUST VISITING, RIGHT?

INDEBTED makes you think this is a show about economics.

But the actual show is funny and has 'good bones' which will make for a strong, long running series.

It made us think about NETFLIX.  Specifically about all the bad shows they've aired.

Yes, we complain about the cancellations of SENSE8 and SANTA CLARITA DIET, for example.  But there should be a much larger critique of how so many of their shows don't have good bones.

Take MARCO POLO.  Has NETFLIX ever aired a bigger piece of crap?  The network lost 200 million dollars on that show alone.   The only reason that they aired it was because they wanted to be in business with Harvey Weinstein.  How that dream work out for them?

It had nothing to flesh out a basic idea and no reason for viewers to watch -- so they didn't.

THE GET DOWN?  Baz Lurhmann does a musical for NETFLIX?  Okay, that's interesting.  But where was the actual plot, where were the bones?  No where to be found and it was another high profile mess.

SOUNDTRACK was more garbage without bones.  And what was with casting Campbell Scott?  Didn't the world give up on him after he crashed and burned in SINGLES?  Time and again, NETFLIX makes highly questionable casting decisions (file Kevin Corrigan's casting in THE GETDOWN in the same pile).

LOVE had a weak premise and no one ever worked to improve it.  It also had a serious casting issue: Paul Rust is disgusting and can't be a romantic male lead but no one seemed to know how to break that news to either Rust or show runner Judd Apatow and elevating Chris Witaske to a lead in the third and final season was way too little way too late.

More often than not, NETFLIX serves up a kink (see BONDING) under the pretense that it's a plot or gimmick.  It's not even satisfying on a prurient level.

You have to wonder where the adults are at NETFLIX.  And when they're casting losers like Kevin Corrigan and Campbell Scott and not somoene like Lela Rochon, you have to wonder where the adults are?  And let's get back to BONDING.  How do you set a show in NYC and make it about young people and not have any people of color in the regular cast?

Where are the adults at NETFLIX?

It's in this climate, please remember, that the decision was made to axe the popular ONE DAY AT A TIME.  Good bones also includes a schedule of programming that is varies and diverse.  Diversity for NETFLIX has only meant sex.  Titillation.  In 2020, everyone should be striving for more (that includes INDEBTED which needs to build up Asif Ali's role).

If the Emmys really meant anything . . .

Because they don't.  No one watches the awards show anymore because they don't mean anything.  They sunk to an all time viewership low in the fall of 2019 and that's just going to continue.

With the Academy Awards, trying to deal with the difference between art and commerce, they tried to expand Best Picture to include blockbusters.

But the Emmys?

They're just about niche programming.

VEEP never got more than 1.35 million viewers for an episode -- and that was season one, by season six, only a half million were watching each episode.  Yet it received seven consecutive nominations for Oustanding Comedy Series?  Yet Julia Louis-Dreyfuss received six consecutive awards for Outstanding Lead Actress?

And you wonder why people don't watch The Emmy broadcasts anymore.

All you have to do is be some niche show that's part of some industry circle-jerk and you'll be nominated and awarded.  Last year saw six actors compete for best supporting actor in a comedy series and three were from HBO's unfunny BARRY -- a show no one watches.

In fact, the only one truly deserving in any of the comedy acting nominations was Catherine O'Hara for SCHITT'S CREEK.

Here are some names that will most likely be ignored when the nominations are announced but should be recognized.

Parker Posey -- Best Supporting Actress Drama (LOST IN SPACE)

Jennifer Jason Leigh -- Best Actress Drama (ATYPICAL)

Tichina Arnold -- Best Actress Comedy (THE NEIGHBORHOOD)

Max Greenfield -- Best Actor Comedy (THE NEIGHBORHOOD)

Allison Tolman -- Best Actress Drama (EMERGENCE)

Donald Faison -- Best Supporting Actor Drama (EMERGENCE)

Folake Olowofoyeku -- Best Actress Comedy (BOB HEARTS ABISHOLA)

Aja Naomi King -- Best Supporting Actress Drama (HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER)

Jack Falahee -- Best Supporting Actor Drama (HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER)

Viola Davis -- Best Actress Drama (HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER)

Megan Mullally -- Best Supporting Actress Comedy (WILL & GRACE)

Harry Lennis -- Best Supporting Actor Drama (THE BLACKLIST)

James Spader -- Best Actor Drama (THE BLACKLIST)

Megan Boone -- Best Actress Drama (THE BLACKLIST)

Simone Missick -- Best Actress Drama (ALL RISE)

Wilson Bethel -- Best Actor Drama (ALL RISE)

Marg Helgenberger -- Best Supporting Actress (ALL RISE)

Reggie Lee -- Best Supporting Actor (ALL RISE)

Tracee Ellis Ross -- Best Actress Comedy (BLACK-ISH)

Katy Mixon -- Best Actress Comedy (AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE)

Daniel Levy -- Best Supporting Actor Comedy (SCHITT'S CREEK)

Emily Hampshire -- Best Supporting Actress Comedy (SCHITT'S CREEK)

Catharine O'Hara -- Best Actress Comedy (SCHITT'S CREEK)

We're willing to bet that by the end of next month, when POP starts airing season three of ONE DAY AT A TIME, we'll be adding Rita Moreno to the above list.


Jim: Again with a roundtable.  Remember our e-mail address is thethirdestatesundayreview@yahoo.com and we can also be reached at common_ills@yahoo.com.  Participating in our roundtable are  The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, and me, Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. Betty's kids did the illustration. You are reading a rush transcript.


Jim (Con't): Jim: So . . . what a week. Iowa? Mike: Can I stress something at the beginning because I have gotten e-mails on this. When we say "Iowa," we are not talking about the people, we are not even talking about their government officials. We are talking about the Democratic Party honchos in Iowa. That is who we are aiming our ire at.

Dona: Good point, thanks for making that clarification. And just to get us all on the same page, Donald Trump will most likely be the Republican presidential nominee. Elections will be held in November. In the meantime, other parties have to select their nominee. The Libertarian Party has several nominees. At this site, we would love to see Iraq War veteran Adam Kokesh get the nomination. The Green Party also has to determine their nominee. Let me go to Ann. Ann is a lifelong Green Party member. Her parents are Greens as well. Ann, who are you supporting?

Ann: I am excited by Dario Hunter. But -- I do have a but. I think he's exciting in his speeches and in what he proposes for the country. I do not think he knows how to run an online campaign. I wish he did. His Twitter feed is silent for days. We are Greens, we're not going to get much attention from the corporate media. We need candidates who can create excitement -- which he can -- and we need candidates who can use the internet and social media to get their campaigns the attention they need.

Dona: Can't argue with that. Jess is also a Green so let me bring him in.

Jess: Like Ann, I would gladly vote for Dario Hunter. Ann and I have talked about the other big candidate, Howie Hawkins. We're not anti-Howie. We can support Howie but we would prefer Dario. Unlike Dario, Howie knows how to use social media. Let me go into something here, Ann pipe in at any time. Ann and I are Greens. We are aware when we are welcome and when we are unwelcome. THE COMMON ILLS started before any of the other community sites. And, at THIRD, we were big fans of THE COMMON ILLS because C.I. was so strongly against the Iraq War and because she never shied from calling someone out if they needed to be called out. Her work exposing THE NEW YORK TIMES' many problems covering Iraq was vital. But we also noted that she was someone who promoted independent media and independent thought. There was no blame the Green Party at her site. There was a feeling that the Green Party and other voices that were shut out of the corporate media needed to be noted. I'm a Green, the rest of us at THIRD are not. But we all appreciated that THE COMMON ILLS was an inclusive site for Greens. And we've tried to be that way here as well. Which presents a real problem in 2020. How do we promote the Green candidates if Howie is the only one really working social media? We went back and forth on this -- Ann, C.I. and myself. How do we, at THIRD, at THE COMMON ILLS and at ANN'S MEGA DUB promote the candidates if one is releasing content constantly and the other doesn't? The way we've decided? Howie's going to get promoted. That's not an effort to slide the nomination to him. It is just the simple fact that Howie is producing content we can share. Ann?

Ann: I think you summed it up beautifully. I really don't think there's anything to add other than to repeat that Dario Hunter would be Jess and my first choice when it comes to voting.

Dona: One more thing for Ann. Ann, Dario is a smart person. Why is he being outshined on Twitter or whatever by Howie Hawkins?

Ann: That's a wonderful question. A guess is all I can offer. I would guess that Dario's newer to the national stage. Howie Hawkins is not. He's run for governor, for example. He's run many campaigns. And that may be why.

Betty: Another difference would be that Howie lives in a media intensive environment. New York and California are more media intensive than, say, Atlanta even though Atlanta is a big city. I'm using Atlanta as an example because it's where I was born and lived for over 30 years.

Jim: Where does Dario Hunter live?

Jess: He's from Ohio, right?

C.I.: He is from Youngstown, Ohio but he has been living in Los Angeles, California.

Jim: So he does live in a media intensive environment.

C.I.: He has for several months now.

Jim: I don't know. I'm not a Green. But I don't think much of a candidate -- Dario or anyone -- who can't pull the online together. I mean, we set the standard here on covering the online --

Ty: Ava and C.I. set it.

Jim: Correct, Ava and C.I. set it here. They are the ones who noted that your online site was your office. Times have changed. It's not 1992. You don't run into the physical office of Bill Clinton's campaign and say, "Can I get some material for this issue or that?" Now you go to their "online office" -- the point Ava and C.I. drove home in 2008 and they covered the online offices of the candidates. Now everyone does or tries to.

Ava: Let me jump in on that. C.I. told a story, we all know it, the story, once about how a friend's child was doing a project for school in 1992 and it was a Sunday and the child couldn't find anything. So the friend called C.I. and she called a friend and they went to the closed Bill Clinton office and got the papers and that's why we were using "online office" because there was a tech change, as C.I. pointed out, that was huge. If you were a student working on a project about a candidate, you could go online and get the information you needed -- or the fact that the candidate did not have a position on it. We live in a world that has many problems, yes, but think about the sea change we have in terms of the internet and the information we can garner from it at any time of day.

Jim: Very good point. Back to me. So Dario or whomever needs to up their game. That's reality. He wants to have the Green Party's presidential nomination, he needs to up his game. That's true of anyone running. Marianne Williamson was running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, she worked social media. I was highly impressed with her efforts to get her beliefs and her policies out there.

Isaiah: I would second that. She raised very important issues and she was very impressive to me. Of all the candidates for the Dems, I would have gladly voted for her.

Jim: Good point.

Dona: So that's two of the other parties. And Marianne was seeking the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. So we're back to that. For months and months, various candidates have been campaigning. Still in the race now would include Tulsi Gabbard, Andrew Yang, Tom Steyer, Mike Bloomberg, Tiny Pete, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. It has been tough at times waiting and waiting. People knew that they had to wait until February when Iowa would kick off the contest with their caucus. Monday was the caucus. It was a nightmare. Ruth had several posts -- great posts -- about it including:

Dona (Con't): We should not still be waiting. On Friday, noting errors and irregularities, AP said they weren't declaring the So what would we like to talk about?  Sunday, NBC NEWS made the same call.  It is now Monday, a week after the caucus and the caucus is now meaningless.  All eyes are on New Hampshire which votes today.

Cedric: The whole point of these things was wasted on Iowa.  Their failure should really cost them in 2024.  I don't want to see them at the front end of the cycle in four years.  They need to be held accountable.  They exist solely to be a weather vein and they failed.

Dona: Agreed.  Thus far, what has stood out in the run up to the primaries?

Trina: Wasted debates.  I'll zero in one aspect.  Iraq.  You had protesters, you had then being attacked.  It had been going on for months.  And Anderson Cooper ignored the topic of Iraq but did manage to ask about his friend Ellen DeGeneres.  What a light weight.  What a star f**ker posing as a journalist.

Rebecca: I'd agree with Trina.  I'd also add the inability to put all the candidates on stage.  I don't think that, early on, there should have been any guidelines other than that you had formally declared and you were getting donations -- I don't care how much in donations.  I think Seth Moulton, for instance, should have made the debate stage and he never did.  I think his voice -- and I probably would not have voted for him -- was needed.  I think all the voices were needed.

Marcia: One thing I didn't like was how Mike Bloomberg and Tom Steyer were accused of trying to buy the vote.  Yeah, they were.  But what about Andrew Yang?  He was offering a thousand dollars at one point.  Yes, he bought his way on the stage and he was worthless.  I've never seen anyone as worthless on stage as Andrew Yang.  Was there ever a debate -- even at the beginning -- where he acted like he might win?  It was the ultimate vanity contest.

Mike: Clearly, the biggest moment was at the end of July when Tulsi Gabbard was on stage.  Jake Tapper was a moderator.  He asked her a question and it was the perfect chance for her to rip into War Hawk Joe Biden -- she was supposed to be the anti-war candidate, remember?  And she took a pass.  He then went back to her a few minutes later and this time she offered Joe a pass.  What a fake ass.  That's what she looked like.  Prior to that moment, I was supporting her.  I was donating to her.  She lost me in that moment.  Then she made it worse by giving all these interviews excusing Joe Biden.  What a fake ass.

Betty: And her circle jerk -- Michael Tracey and Aaron Mate among others -- would not hold her accountable.  It was C.I. and Sami Husseini that held her accountable.  Michael Tracey and Aaron Mate acted as though nothing had happened.

Stan: Michael Tracey was among the worst actors in the entire process.  I got so sick of him.  He's a liar and he slants reality.  The way he tried to beat up Kamala Harris on Twitter was disgusting and I loved how C.I. noted that in one day he had Tweeted over 20 times trashing Kamala but when Bullock or whomever had dropped out of the race it was only one Tweet.  He's a hateful, little man.

Elaine: I wouldn't vote for Kamala Harris and I said that at my site.  I also said that there were some areas where she was impressive.  I wished she'd hung on for a little bit more because there were some issues only she spoke to.  Cory Booker?  I felt he got trapped into party cheerleader and didn't use enough of his time to make his own case.

Ty: The field started off diverse in a lot of ways.  In terms of race, you had people of color such as Yang, Harris, Booker, Deval Patrick and Tulsi Gabbard.  You also had diversity in terms of thought but as the race wound down it really seemed to be Bernie as one view point, Elizabeth Warren as a middle view point and then a ton of corporatists such as Tiny Pete, Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar, Tom Steyer, Mike Bloomberg and pro-nuke Andrew Yang.

Ruth: This round may be best remembered as a round where women stepped forward.  Still in the race at this point are Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Tulsi Gabbard.  In the race earlier but having dropped out are Kirsten Gillibrand, Marianne Williamson and Kamala Harris.  That was a lot of firepower and that is worth noting.

Jim: Ruth, can you please rank the six women in order of your preference?

Ruth: Sure.  I would rank Marianne first, she raised real issues over and did so in a way that really contributed to the discussion.  After her?  I would say Senator Gillibrand.  She really got not traction in the media but she was a serious candidate and made some serious moves.  After her?  One of the two women standing: Elizabeth Warren.  Whatever happens, Warren has proved she can stand on the national stage.  Then I would say -- hmmm.  I am going to go with Senator Kamala Harris.  She did make some interesting remarks in the debates, more so than most people.  After that?  Tulsi Gabbard.  Had she not betrayed her anti-war stance, I would have ranked her much higher, maybe even first.  But that July debate where she not only refused to challenge War Hawk Joe Biden but gave him a pass?  After that disgrace, there was no coming back for her.  Lastly, Senator Amy Klobuchar.  It is a shame that her politics are so hideous because the senator herself is rather likable.

Kat:  I just want the whole thing to be over, sorry.  Iowa was such a huge screw up that it's left me on edge.  I'm rooting for Bernie, I want him to get it and I want the whole thing to come to a close quickly.  The worst possible outcome?  Joe Biden gets the nomination.

Wally: Agreed.  We're all screwed then.

Jim: And on that note, let's wrap up.  This is a rush transcript.

Worst shows of 2019

Yes, ELLEN'S GAME OF GAMES is hideous and should be taken off the air.  But we're talking about shows that aired for the first time in 2019.  Here's our list of shows that never should have aired to begin with.











Music roundtable

Jess: We're doing a music roundtable this edition.  We're focusing primarily on these features "50 essential albums of the '10s," "Kat's Korner: The decade in music,"  "50 essential albums of the 00s," "50 essential albums of the 90s," "50 essential albums of the 80s," "50 Essential Albums of the 70s" and "50 essential albums of the 60s."  Participating in our roundtable are  The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ty, Ava and me, Jess; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz); Ruth of Ruth's Report; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; Wally of The Daily Jot; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends;  and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. Betty's kids did the illustration. You are reading a rush transcript.  Let's start with a musical note.  One of the greatest singers of the 20th century was Judy Garland.  She never won a competitive Academy Award but was given one, an Academy Juvenile Award, for her performances in BABES IN ARMS and THE WIZARD OF OZ.  Last night, Renee Zellwigger won an Academy Award for playing Judy Garland in the film JUDY.  Kat, you reviewed Judy Garland's ALONE last year.  Talk about that.

judy garland alone

Kat: Sure and I hope we can use the album cover as an illustration for this piece because it's a great album cover.  So I knew Judy from the movies, of course.  Every kid knows THE WIZARD OF OZ.  I also had a big crush on Gene Kelly growing up so I knew his movies -- including his three with Judy: SUMMER STOCK, THE PIRATE and FOR ME AND MY GAL.  Then there's MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS -- where she sings "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas."  Most of her films were musicals so we all knew she could sing.  I found ALONE in a used bookstore.  I loved the cover and I'd never owned any Judy albums so, of course, I grabbed it.  But what I found out after buying it and doing some research was two-fold.  First, Judy, an incredible recording artist, only recorded six studio albums.  When she started out, the format was 78s.  That's what they recorded and that's what she recorded.  Later on, as Frank Sinatra revolutionized the 33 and 1/3 lp, what we call vinyl today, she would begin recording studio albums.  Her best selling album, of course, is a live album, JUDY AT CARNEGIE HALL.  But the second surprise for me about her recording career was how little it was noted.  There are very few reviews of her studio albums online.  That really surprised me.  I'm glad I reviewed ALONE for many reasons but, among the reasons, it's because she's certainly an artist who deserves serious attention.

Ruth: ALONE came out in 1957.  I love the album today but I only listened after Kat's review last year.  I was probably 11 or 12 when the album came out.  I don't remember my parents having it though I do remember them playing Frank Sinatra's IN THE WEE SMALL HOURS OF THE MORNING (1955).  I'm sure they had some Doris Day as well, I remember "Que Sera, Sera," and they had some Sarah Vaughn including AT MR. KELLY'S.  They were Judy fans, they saw her live twice, but I don't remember them having her records.  And that year, my big record was my 45 of The Everly Brothers' "Wake Up Little Susie."

Rebecca: Possibly because she was considered such a one-of-a-kind performance artist, her studio work wasn't as appreciated or embraced?

Kat: That could be.  I'm going to make an effort to review Judy's studio albums, maybe not all of them, but a few more.  She does deserve more than that, much more than that.

Jess: Okay, the features I noted at the start of the roundtable, have resulted in tons of e-mails.  Ty?

Ty: There's a lot of agreement with the albums selected and there's a lot of disagreement.  The e-mails run the gamut.

Elaine: Well these lists, first off, are a snapshot of time.  So factor that in.

Jess: Also, they are a pain in the ass, as you noted in "Books and coming up with the best albums of the la..."

Elaine: Exactly.  Anyone who knows me knows that two of my all time favorite albums are Joni Mitchell's FOR THE ROSES and the Beatles' ABBEY ROAD.  Neither of which made the lists.

Cedric: I agree but I also agree with a point Kat made recently in "Elvis Costello makes his list of 500 best albums" which is: "Part of the fun of these lists is agreeing and disagreeing with the lists."  So with that standard, the lists were effective.

Marcia: They're supposed to inspire debate and discussion.

Ty: Some e-mails noted Heart and felt Heart was being punished. 

Marcia: Heart didn't have an album make the lists?

Ty: No, DREAMBOAT ANNIE made the list.  And BRIGADE made the list.

Wally: Then why the complaint?  For the first set of lists, the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, there was one rule -- you could only have one album on each decade's list.  So they got one in the 70s review.  What's the problem?  They got one on the 90s review of albums.  I don't get the problem?

Ty: Among other things, some of Kat's reviews of their recent work have been posted on Heart's Facebook page and people are asking why those albums didn't make the lists?

Betty: Oh, I can answer that.  The little hissy fit Ann and Nancy Wilson had over one of their songs being used by Sarah Palin in 2008.  I didn't vote for Sarah.  I wouldn't vote for Sarah.  But there's this notion of political speech.  And the notion that the Wilson sisters were going to glom on the don't-use-my-song movement?  It was offensive.  When they did that, I lost interest in their albums. I know they've tried to clarify their actions on that but I really don't care.  When they did that, I thought, "So they'd do the same to Cynthia McKinney?"  She was running for president that year.  If they had said, "You know what, we're voting for Barack Obama but if anyone wants to use the song, have at it," I would've been fine with it.  But I honestly lost interest in Heart over that.  There are albums I've lived with, albums by Heart, over the years and they're favorites of mine.  But the newer stuff? JUPITERS DARLING and RED VELVET CAR didn't get the time they needed to permeate and that's the fault of the Wilsons having made their political statement.  I think any campaign should be able to use a song.  That's part of free speech and political speech.  I also think that Heart has a number of Republican fans that the Wilson sisters apparently never knew of.

Jess: And we're used to these hissy fits with Jackson Browne, for example.  But the standard prior to 2008 would be Bruce Springsteen in 1984, with Ronald Reagan using his songs and Bruce saying he wasn't sure Reagan had understood the lyrics.  That was it. Not, "Stop using my songs!!!!"

Ann: And as Elaine said, it's a snapshot of the moment.  And, yes, more than just the music comes into play when we're making our choices.  I do think we made some strong choices, however.  And I thank C.I. and Betty for leading on diversity.  They didn't go with the standards.  They repeatedly proposed albums -- not all of which made the lists -- that were incredibly strong albums but not the obvious choices you'd get from, say, ROLLING STONE.

Stan: What were some of the complaints besides Heart?

Ty: One of the biggest was limiting each decade through the '00s to an artist appearing only once on the top 50.

Stan: And if we hadn't done that, a move Elaine suggested, then there would have been a ton more e-mails complaining.

Marcia: Exactly.  And if we hadn't put in the one album by an artist on each list, what would have happened, with the sixties, for example, we would have had a list of Beatles albums and a list of Rolling Stones albums and not much else.

Trina: Right.  And if I could get back to Betty's point, regarding Heart.  I also don't think the Wilson sisters get that most Americans choose not to vote.  So they're really not interested in these sort of squabbles to begin with.  I'd think the average person buying a ticket to see Heart today, the last thing they're thinking about is politicians or elections. 

Wally: I'd think the fans going to see Heart perform "Crazy On You," "Alone," "Beautiful Broken," "All I Want To Do Is Make Love To You," "What About Love," "Magic Man," etc, are going for the music and I really would hope the Wilson sisters would be about bringing their tribe together regardless of partisan differences.

Jess: Don't we want artists to speak out?

C.I.: Yes and no.  It's a career killer.  Seriously.  The industry applauds you but the fans go away.  You've got a year or two of admiration and then you seem like a know it all or bossy and dour.  I'm not joking.  Look at various celebs and watch the arc.  Nobody likes a know it all and most adults don't need to be told who to vote for.  If you're Jessica Lange or John Mellencamp advocating for the American farmer, that's one thing.  If you've got one issue that you advocate, that's one thing.  But if you show up every election to tell people who to vote for, the audience tires of you quickly.

Ava: And everyone has the right to use their voice but that doesn't mean everyone should use their voice -- especially not for elections.  It's a real shame that they can't speak out against the never-ending Iraq War, for example.  I'd respect that.  But I don't need to be told who to vote for.  And when they become -- in their mind -- an expert on every issue --

Rebecca: Like a Debra Messing or an Alyssa Milano.

Ava (Con't): Yes.  When you become an expert on every issue -- or pretend to be -- the audience is even more bored with you.

Stan: And more than anything, we want artists to serve their purpose which is art.  I like Heart, I like the Wilsons, but they haven't made a BLUE or an ABBEY ROAD.  Maybe they need to work a little harder on the music and spend a little less time worrying about politics?  Or partisanship?

C.I.: I need to jump in because I'm uncomfortable.  Ava and I are taking notes for this piece so I'm looking at it differently, possibly.  But I could see this, after it's typed up and posted, as being seen as an anti-Heart piece.  I don't think that's anyone's point -- see Stan's remarks about how he likes Heart.  But it was a shock that the Wilsons would play into that 2008 moment.  And that has hurt them.  But it's also true that they've done some great work.  That includes some brilliant songs that none but their most devoted fans know.  Songs like "Nobody Home," for example.  Maybe they should do an album of deep album cuts like "Nobody Home"?  We're engaging with them, in this piece, on the politics and that's more than fair.  I'm not saying that it isn't.  If they want us to focus on the music, they really need to focus on it as well.  Ann and Nancy -- with longterm collaborator Sue Ennis and without her -- are important songwriters who have made an impact on music.

Jess: Agreed.  And no one here wants a slam piece on Heart so let's use Jackson Browne or someone else as an example as we continue this conversation.  Perfect world what would you like to see from these lists?

Kat: Perfect world, I'd like to see, in 2030, us revisit these lists.  And that was C.I. and Ava groaning when I said that.  They're done.  They're ready to retire online.  But I would like, if we're still around in ten years -- in any form -- for us to review the lists for the 2010s decade in music.  If you look at the '00s, you will see A BIGGER BANG on that list.  I love that album.  Somehow, it didn't make my list for the best of its decade.  It was an oversight.  But in the time since that list was made by me, I have listened to it over and over -- lived with it -- and so it did make the list of the '00s that we did here because I argued for it.  I think there are albums on that list of 50 that wouldn't be on the list in ten years and some that would make the list in ten years that didn't make it now.

Jess: Good point.  Anybody want to add anything to the list that's not currently on it, the '00s list?  Groans all around.

Stan: I'll note that I'm glad Joss Stone's LP1 made the list.  It wasn't one I pushed for when we were voting.  But after we made the list, I noticed I was still listening to it repeatedly.  To keep listening to an album years after it's been released it a testament to how strong it is.

Betty: I'd be more inclined to revist the 80s list, for example.  I'd want Ashford & Simpson's LOVE OR PHYSICAL to be added.  I agree that STREET OPERA was stronger but I really do love LOVE OR PHYSICAL so that would be the one change I'd make.

Rebecca: My favorite sixties album didn't make the list so I'd add it, OTIS/BLUE OTIS REDDING SINGS SOUL.  I've been noting that album at my site forever and a day -- including as a cure to the flu.

Trina: I would probably go with Elton John's DON'T SHOOT ME I'M ONLY THE PIANO PLAYER.

Cedric: THE FAT BOYS ARE BACK.  That was my go-to album in elementary school.

Marcia: Anita Baker's RAPTURE.

Wally:  Norah Jones' COME AWAY WITH ME.

Elaine:  In addition to the two I've already named in this roundtable?  Jack Johnson's SLEEP THROUGH THE STATIC.

Stan:  I know he turned out to be a one hit wonder, but I'd go with Terrence Trent D'Arby's INTRODUCING THE HARDLINE ACCORDING TO TERRENCE TRENT D'ARBY.

Ruth:  I'll make a left field piece, Vanilla Fudge's RENAISSANCE.


C.I.:  I don't know.  Cher's 3614 JACKSON STREET or Tracy Chapman's CROSSROADS?  Both are strong albums that generally don't get the credit that they deserve.  I love music.  I could easily name 150 greats for each decade.  In terms of live albums, Heart's THE ROAD HOME is a classic -- "Up On Cherry Blossom Road," for example, is a must-hear.

Jess: Okay and that's how we're going to wind down this roundtable.

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