Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Media: A Little More Conversation

"Laquesha Johnson knew two things: cunnilingus and how to dress butch.  Well she knew a third thing -- how to miss the damn point every time."  Were Jackie Collins still alive, that the could be the opening to THE WORLD IS FULL OF SILLY STUPIDS where she examined the con of gas bagging and the 'experts' who know so little. Sadly, Jackie passed away six years ago and we have no new novels from her.




But we need her.  We really, really need her.  We realized that as we watched a 'documentary' on NETFLIX.  The 'documentary' is entitled REMASTERED: THE TWO KILLINGS OF SAM COOKE and many parts are strong and worth watching.

None of those parts involve former NPR prattle-er and current BOSTON GLOBE staffer Renee Graham.  Time and again, she makes herself into a joke.

We recoiled in horror every time an 'observation' came out of her mouth.  

Example?  How about when she tells you that Sam was killed because the record label didn't want a Black man being political?

What world does she live in?

Does she honestly think Bruce Springsteen is political?  There's nothing at all political in embracing the status quo.  If your opinion is the opinion of the majority of the country, you're not being political, you're being safe and facile.  We long for real artists who would be on major labels but offer something real -- not just, "Vote for the Democratic! It's election time!"

In the early sixties (Sam was killed in 1964), there weren't a lot of political music acts, nor had there been.  The Weavers were 'political,' possibly.  They were signed to DECCA -- a major label -- and had hits throughout the fifties with inoffensive (and, honestly, bland) versions of "On Top Of Old Smokey" and "Goodnight Irene."  Bland and boring, they got 'cred' when two of their members were named as Communists -- Lee Hays (who took the 5th) and Pete Seeger (who pleaded the First Amendment).  This led to DECCA dropping the group and to the group being followed by the FBI while being banned from radio and TV.  What followed was a lot of suffering for many.  Not really for Pete, though -- remember he stole "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" and made a ton of money off of it.  When they were seen as truly political -- as Pete's previous group, The Almanac Singers -- has actually been -- the industry no longer needed or wanted them.

Who else has been some true political voice?  

Bob Dylan?  Bob doesn't really get a lot of support when he's political, in case you missed the attack THE NEW YORK TIMES delivered to ROUGH AND ROWDY WAYS.  That's this decade.  He was political in the early sixties but couldn't really get airplay until he moved away from political -- that's when he finally starts having his own top forty hits on radio.  .


So Bob doesn't prove Renee to be accurate.


There's Joan Baez.  She wasn't signed to a major label, however.  She was on VANGUARD.  And they could handle it when she got political as a result.  Her best selling albums in the sixties?  The three were not political albums (Malvina Reynold's "What Have They Done To The Rain?" is the closest to political that Joan gets).    Do not e-mail us that Joan Baez's ANY DAY NOW sold as well as her first three albums.  It did not.  The three were single-disc albums that went gold.  ANY DAY NOW was a double album and if it had sold as many copies as JOAN BAEZ and JOAN BAEZ VOL. 2 and JOAN BAEZ IN CONCERT, it would be platinum.  As a double record, it only had to sell 250,000 copies to go gold while the other three albums -- single disc albums -- sold (shipped) at least 500,000 to earn their gold status.  As Joan begins singing political songs -- Phil Ochs, Bob Dylan, Tim Hardin, etc -- her albums sales decrease.  For a small label like VANGUARD, she's still their biggest selling artist and her politics fit in with those of the man who owns the label so she's fine.  In the 70s, she'll switch to the semi-independent label A&M and when she goes political there, with the classic WHERE ARE YOU NOW, MY SON?, she nearly falls off the album charts -- 138 -- and that was due to A&M's lousy promotion and Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss being scared (in 1973!) of an anti-Vietnam War album.  It's be two albums and two years later before Joan made it back into BILLBOARD's top 100 (DIAMONDS & RUST made it to number 11).  

The Mamas and the Papas were 'freaks' and so were Sonny & Cher.  Even so, they weren't supposed to be political.  What happened when they were political?  Well when Sonny & Cher showed up at the Sunset Strip protests against police brutality on December 11, 1966, Monterey Park  (not Pasadena as some erroneously claim) pulled them from the city's New Year's Day Rose Parade (they were replaced by Buck Owens and it was Monterey Park  council person Rod Irvine who pulled them from the parade).  Mama Michelle Phillips was the target of a hit piece from TEEN magazine because she refused to wear a green beret for their cover photo.  And they were 'youth' artists.  They were on the younger side of the generation gap that existed at that time yet they were still expected to walk within the designated margins.

We're having a really hard time grasping what artist on a major label was allowed to express their politics because they weren't allowed to.  That's didn't happen in reality -- just in Renee's underdeveloped mind.

In more recent times, we've seen Sam Seder brow beat and humiliate Ani DiFranco to the point that she disowned the support she gave her 2000 presidential candidate Ralph Nader.  And Ani is the head of her own record label.  A supposed maverick, in fact.  But she, like Patti Smith, learned quickly, in the '00s, just what they were permitted to say and to do politically.

So spare us, Renee, your uniformed opinions that are completely worthless.

Does it matter?

Yes, it does.  We have, for example, attacked an act in a piece here a few years back.  We know the act.  We like the people in the act.  But what they did was wrong.  And the fact that it benefits 'our side' (the Democratic Party) didn't make it any less wrong.  Nor did the fact that we like the people make it any less wrong.  They called us a week after the piece went up here.  They wanted to talk face-to-face.  Fine.  We meant what we said and we stood by it.  We'd be happy to meet up but we weren't going to change what we wrote.  And we didn't.

We did here how, yes, our point was correct about the marginalized and, yes, they did agree with us.  But what we didn't understand was how hard it was not to toe the line that they were toeing and how the label that was interested in them (that they'd sign with after our conversation) had urged them to take the position -- a partisan position and one that went against free speech -- so they felt they had to do it.  

The act, at that point, could live off sales of their old albums in any format, sales via streaming of their old recordings, song writing royalties and -- something not every songwriter has -- publishing royalties.  They were not going to starve and they weren't even going to have to lower their standard of living if they didn't go along.  They made the choice to stay in the narrow lines they were being forced into.

We disagreed with them then and still do.  We are aware that interviews have been given since by the act where they make a point to embrace free speech and try to make clear where they stand on it.  The subject hasn't come up between us again, we're not raising it to them and they're not raising it to us and we still speak often.  

But it was a mistake.  And they knew it was a mistake at the time.  

So we're not in the mood for some ass who doesn't know one damn thing about the business to pontificate about how Sam Cooke wasn't allowed by his label to be 'political' because of his race.

No one is allowed to be political on a major label.  

No one is allowed to be political.

Despite that, you can be political.  Sam Cooke certainly proved it.  And may have paid the ultimate price for it.

It goes against the orthodoxy, but we wouldn't be surprised if he were murdered.  Not at all surprised.

We are surprised when we hear, in the documentary, that Allen Klein couldn't have been responsible because he didn't have that kind of power.  Huh?

Various talking heads in the 'documentary' talk about the mob and blah blah blah.  Does no one know of Allen Klein's mob connections?  We didn't know we were the only ones who did.  It was those mob connections that allowed him to take on the mobbed-up Morris Levy -- a man so into the mob that, in the 1970s, John Lennon feared Levy.    If you're arguing that organized crime was involved in killing Sam Cooke, look no further than Allen Klein.  Also drop the nonsense about "Allen loved Sam!"  Yeah, Allen pretended to love a lot of artists.  He didn't love them, he just loved stealing from them -- ask Mick Jagger.  

And let's talk about motive.  Sam was getting increasingly political and there was the money issue.  Allen stole from all the artists he represented including Sam.  Did no one behind this 'documentary' -- these supposed experts on Sam Cooke -- see 2019's LADY YOU SHOT ME: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF SAM COOKE?  That documentary makes clear that, as it was being edited in 2019, Sam Cooke's estate had not received a single dime in royalties from Sam's supposed corporation -- all that money went to Allen and, when Allen died (2009), it went to Allen's estate.

That's motive.

And to the claim in the NETFLIX 'documentary' that Allen couldn't have pulled it off -- which part?  He was connected to the mafia and he could easily have arranged everything.  Sam was wanting to start  his own label and was ignoring the mafia's demand that he not do that.  They knew Allen and Allen knew them.   Seems like mutual interest among the two parties could have easily led to a murder.  And getting the police to look the other way?  Not all that difficult.

It's in part because Sam was African-American, yes.  But that's not all of it.

Who killed Marilyn Monroe?

That she was murdered has been an industry truism long before Anthony Summers published GODDESS: THE SECRET LIVES OF MARILYN MONROE.  Everyone believed it, everyone talked about it, Mickey Rooney, Frank Sinatra, Jeanne Martin (Dean Martin's wife) . . .


Maybe she wasn't murdered. But a lot of people believed it then and a lot more people believe it today.  And Marilyn Monroe was a lot more famous than any singer of her time with the exceptions of Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley.  And as famous as she is, lies were told about her death from the beginning.  The FBI seized her toll slips (records of her phone calls).  The press lied that she was despondent over her 'failed' career.  (She stood to make millions off proposed international films and she had also been rehired for SOMETHING'S GOT TO GIVE -- remember, it was being fired from that film that supposedly had her so depressed that she took her own life.)  They lied, as late as the 80s, that she died on the phone speaking to her father.  AP and UPI carried that nonsense into the mid-80s and we are always surprised few bother to bring that up.  And, certainly, they lied to protect JFK and RFK, insisting that Marilyn slept with neither -- when she slept with both.  It's not hard to get people to look the other way -- especially when doing so is the easy path.

Just as people in the industry spoke what they thought was the truth about Marilyn, Etta James long maintained that Sam was murdered and not because he showed up half-dressed at a motel counter. 


It could be true.  Etta was a wise woman.  


But Renee isn't.


Every time she wants to make a point, she seems to go to, "It happened because he was a Black man."

And that's a view.  She's entitled to it.  It doesn't help anyone though.


That's one thing that we agree strongly with WSWS about.  That failing to grasp societal constructs besides race limits our understanding.   Now we give a little more credence to racial issues than WSWS and certainly more to female issues and to LGBTQ issues.

We probably need to explain that to those who don't read WSWS.  Like most left sites, they're semi-committed to race issues -- at least as far as it applies to African-American issues.  The sixties made it clear that the left had to give a damn -- or give lip service to that effect -- about race.

So, while often dismissing certain racism issues as 'identity politics,' WSWS will take some issues related to race seriously.  It will not take women seriously -- that is what inspired the radical wave of feminism (lefty groups -- including college groups -- not taking women seriously) -- and WSWS is still in the closet about its own inherent homophobia.  That's the left at large, that's WSWS.  

Thank goodness for #MeToo -- otherwise WSWS might never notice women.

Pretend, if you can, not to notice that women rarely write for WSWS.  Pretend, if you can, that female music artists aren't ignored by WSWS -- this as they rush to rave over the latest drool from Bruce Springsteen.  Pretend, if you can, that their hatred of MeToo isn't based on their natural hatred of any women who want more out of life than to sit across from a man repeating over and over, "You are so right.  So right.  How did you get to be so smart?  I am so lucky to be in the same room with you."

They can't address inequality in society because they can't even address it in their own offices.

LGBTQ persons?  For WSWS, none of those people exist unless they're standing before the Supreme Court.  That's pretty much the only way that WSWS manages to ever cover the LGBTQ community.  It's never, for example, concerned about the large number of  murders targeting the transgendered community -- at least 39 this year, at least 37 in 2020, at least 25 in 2019, at least 22 in 2018 . . .  And these are people who were murdered.  Meaning?  If you bring in assault, if you bring in those who have been beaten up because they are transgendered, the numbers grow even higher.  

But that's not an issue to WSWS.

MeToo has brought a little attention to women from WSWS -- in the form of scolding and scoffing and dismissing.  

MeToo should have started a national dialogue.  We think it did and we think we've engaged in it here.  For example, we're all for any person stepping forward to tell their story of assault.  The years of MeToo also mean that we've made clear that we're not required to believe anyone coming forward.  But, most of all, we won't believe anyone who 'comes forward' by hiding out.  Bob Dylan's accuser?  If you're going to accuse someone of assaulting you and you want the support of other people, step forward, stop hiding.  Until you do, don't expect us to believe you.  

If you can't tell your own story, we'll be of the opinion that you don't have a story to tell.


We've been very clear, and we're not alone on this, that the idiot who went out on one date with Aziz Ansari and went down on him multiple times and let him go down on her multiple times and then decided she had 'doer's remorse' is not anyone we care to support.  You weren't raped, you weren't assaulted.  You gladly and willingly engaged in the activities and then, a day after, you want to claim assault?  No, it doesn't work that way, not to us.  

MeToo has allowed us to make clear that we are rational people.  And that we will use our brains and common sense and decide who we will or won't believe based upon the stories that someone tells.  And if your story has a backstory -- for example, you and your friends tried to force another person into lying for you to Congress -- we're not going to believe you.

Can someone who's been assaulted or raped change their stories?  Absolutely.

And here we get a little upset with the feminist orthodoxy which notes that you can remember details over time or they can deepen or .

You know what, that's true. Here's another truth that we should all grasp as feminists: Women smooth over.  We try to put the happy face on -- for ourselves and for others.  Charlie Rose nearly raped you in 1978?  It's perfectly natural for you, in 1982, to say you had a bad experience with Charlie Rose or even to say nothing about Charlie Rose.  You're just trying to get through the day.  Equally true, you're gauging not just the response of whom you're speaking with, you're gauging your own response.  Am I going to be able to sleep tonight if I go into everything, every detail?  

When Tara Reade was speaking out, we noted repeatedly that the 'experts' the media needed to bring on were not men who had worked in Joe Biden's office (we're looking at you, PBS) but experts on assault and rape.  And we noted that for all the brief coverage that took place on television and in newspapers, only CSPAN brought on a survivor's advocate to speak..

We do not believe everyone who comes forward.  We do not believe every women (some men have come forward in the spirit of MeToo -- we believe and support Anthony Edwards 100%). We believe Rose McGowan.  We believe many people.

But we don't have to believe all.  We know one 'victim' who wants to insist Harvey Weinstein assaulted her.  Did he?  She really isn't his type.  Could he have assaulted her?  It's possible since this woman did sleep around for roles.  We know that because she slept with a friend of ours.  Most people know that this actress slept with the woman for a film role so Harvey possibly knew as well and, yes, he could have come on to her.  Her story doesn't ring true to us for a number of reasons.  (It doesn't ring true to most people -- including the court.)

MeToo should not have resulted in a response of "I will, from this day forward, turn off my brain and automatically believe any claim of assault presented."  

A dialogue has taken place because of MeToo and, while WSWS has refused to engage, we've been part of the dialogue.  We've drawn our lines (if you think rape is "sexy," we don't rush to defend you and we think you've got some nerve claiming to have been raped and then making such a stupid remark -- on live television, no less).  The dialogue has been about navigating this issue.  


That's what life is: Navigation.  


It's how we grow and explore.  


Tucker Carlson pops off about Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg paternity leave and saying Pete was "trying to figure out how to breast feed" and, suddenly, a lot of people want to scream "homophobia."  Was it?  Was it an attempt at bottom shaming (we assume Pete is the top in his relationship but we could be wrong)?  Was it sexism -- i.e. breast feeding is something women do so let's mock it?  


Who knows?  Maybe all of it and more or none of it.  What we got when we streamed the clip was Tucker seemed very fascinated by breast feeding.  He seemed so fascinated that we had to wonder if he had some sort of envy?  

If so, Tucker, do you not know that babies can latch on men as well?  No, Tucker, it's highly unlikely at this point in time that someone who was male at birth could breast feed, but a baby can latch onto a man's nipple.  At THE GUARDIAN in 2005, Joanna Moorhead covered this issue:

It's a question that has united Aristotle, Darwin and my three-year-old in puzzlement: what exactly are male nipples for ? This week, the charity Fathers Direct came up with an answer, courtesy of some research it unearthed about a nomadic tribe of African hunter-gatherers. The answer, it seems, is the one my three-year-old (and Darwin, to be fair) suspected all along: male nipples are there as a stand-in for when mum isn't around and there's a squawking bambino in dire need of something to suck.
And, when you think about it, why ever not? Surely a male nipple, deficient though it is in terms of sustenance, gives a more pleasant sucking sensation than, say, a dummy.
That's certainly how it seemed to Professor Barry Hewlett, an American anthropologist who was the first person to spot male breastfeeding among the Aka Pygmy people of central Africa (total population around 20,000) after he decided to live alongside them in order to study their way of life more closely. By the time he noticed that babies were sometimes being suckled by their fathers, it wasn't as stunning a revelation, however, as it might have been had he spotted it going on in the breastfeeding room at Mothercare in Manchester.

No offense to Pete but we don't see him sexually.  That's our failure, we're sure.  We don't see Tucker sexually either.  But it would be cute -- and even sexy -- to see some guy we find hot with a baby latched onto a nipple.  Babies suck on pacifiers for comfort and they know nothing's coming out liquid wise.  So why not a photo of Tyler Hoechlin with a baby attached to his nipple?

Tucker's own four children are far too old but -- Tucker, there's hope for you yet -- he could certainly volunteer to by some baby's dry nurse.

And maybe he should do that because, clearly, watch his face when he talks about it, Tucker's expressing some serious envy and longing.  Should he just inform Susan that he needs a little nipple play in the bedroom?

And what would that conversation be an example of?  That's right: Navigating.


Again, it's how we learn, it's how we understand ourselves and others.  It's how we understand the world around us.  There are plus sides to NETFLIX's  REMASTERED: THE TWO KILLINGS OF SAM COOKE.  It could do with a little better understanding of the mafia ind the recording industry.  Maybe they could read Jackie Collins' ROCKSTAR, watch season two of Stephen J. Cannell's  WISEGUY or just talk to Bette Midler if they wanted to learn more about the mafia and the recording industry?  

We're bothered by Renee and her simplistic answers.  Simplistic rarely gets you to information.  Challenging orthodoxy often does.  REMASTERED: THE TWO KILLINGS OF SAM COOKE would have been a lot stronger if the documentary came off even slightly aware of 2019's LADY YOU SHOT ME: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF SAM COOKE.  You can become aware of it.  You can watch it on AMAZON -- for free if you're an AMAZON PRIME member.  And you should.  We need more information, not less.  If we all accepted orthodoxy and refused to question, people would still believe the world was flat.   

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