Monthly Archives: July 2011

What America needs now is Tricky Dick Nixon (no, I’m not joking)

Let me give you a definition of the word ‘liberal.’…Franklin D. Roosevelt once said…It is a wonderful definition, and I agree with him. ‘A liberal is a man who wants to build bridges over the chasms that separate humanity from a better life.’ – Richard Milhous Nixon

Richard Nixon was our last liberal president. – Noam Chomsky

In June of 2008, I wrote a piece here (using my Dr. Sidicious Bonesparkle alter-ego) arguing that were he alive today, former president Richard Nixon would be deemed far too liberal to even be considered for the Democratic nomination. Read more

3x3x3: Amy Winehouse joins rock & roll’s celebrated 27 Club

If there’s a rock and roll heaven, you know they’ve got a hell of a band. – Alan O’Day and Johnny Stevenson

British neo-soul superstar Amy Winehouse joined The 27 Club yesterday. If you haven’t heard of this select group, the term refers to all the musicians who have died at the age of 27. It’s a pretty famous crowd.

  • Janis Joplin, dead of a heroin overdose in 1970, was regarded as perhaps the preeminent female rock vocalist of her generation.
  • Jimi Hendrix, still regarded as one of the greatest guitarists in history, had died less than a month earlier.
  • Brian Jones, the brilliant and multi-talented co-founder of the Rolling Stones, died under suspicious circumstances in 1969. Read more

Mary Shelley LIVES! (Romantics, Luddites, runaway technology, science fiction and the persistence of the Frankenstein Complex)

Oh, yeah. Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts. Then later there’s running and screaming. – Dr. Ian Malcolm

Mary Shelley spent the summer of 1816 at the Villa Diodati near Lake Geneva, Switzerland with her husband, poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and their close friend Lord Byron “watching the rain come down, while they all told each other ghost stories.” Thomas Pynchon says that by that December Mary Shelley was working on Chapter Four of her famous novel Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus.

It was the challenge of writing ghost stories to amuse each other that set Mary upon the idea of a different kind of horror story – one not based in the supernatural, but in science.

I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. Read more

EXCLUSIVE: S&R obtains copy of Rupert Murdoch’s original, unedited apology

News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch has issued a public apology for the News of the World scandal, which appears in several British national newspapers this weekend. The final text is available here.

For those unfamiliar with the exciting world of public relations, these kinds of official statements often go through a rigorous process of draft, revision, review, more revision, show it to legal, start over, and finally approval by the person whose name appears at the bottom. S&R has obtained a copy of Murdoch’s original draft and the redline revision produced by Edelman, the PR agency handling the crisis. Edelman, whose client list doesn’t include Charles Manson, Hitler, Simon Cowell or NAMBLA, but would if they showed up with a suitcase full of cash, is very highly regarded when it comes to the task of lipsticking rabid pigs. Read more

Van Jones vs. the cult of personality (plus a little Saturday Video Roundup)

This morning I got an e-mail from a colleague who’s working with the American Dream Movement. Said friend is all-in with the goals and values of the project, but is stepping cautiously where Van Jones, the movement’s leader, is concerned. It’s nothing against Jones personally, I don’t think – my friend seems to admire him a great deal and thinks he’s exceptionally bright and committed. Instead, it’s more a case of the current boyfriend paying for the sins of the last boyfriend. We all know how that goes. Your last boyfriend – let’s call him “Barry” – promised you the sun, the moon and the stars and then he hopped in bed with all the mean girls in the school. How can you ever trust a boy again? Read more

Heard the latest PR joke? (The single most important thing to consider when TV news wants to skewer your client.)

Yesterday Ragan’s PR Daily, an excellent resource for professional communicators of all stripes, offered up a feature entitled “8 things to consider when TV news wants to skewer your client.” As is the usually the case with Ragan’s stuff, Gil Rudawsky’s article provided some useful on-point advice for the media relations practitioner, and the comment thread finds other experienced folks jumping into the discussion in helpful ways.

But – you knew there was a “but” coming, didn’t you? – I can’t help quibbling a little. Let’s begin with Rudawsky’s eight points: Read more

A quick shout-out: thinking and writing about our frustration with Obama

Here at S&R we try and generate as much original content as possible and, unlike a lot of blogs, we don’t dedicate much energy to linking other stories around the ‘sphere. Aside from Mike’s Nota Bene series, anyway. But earlier today three other outlets linked to my “Will you vote for Obama (again)?” piece, and since these places are trying to broaden what I think is a critical discussion for our nation, I thought I’d take a moment to say thanks and encourage S&R’s reader to backtrack with us.

Will you vote for Obama (again)?

One of my political lists broke out into an impassioned and occasionally contentious debate yesterday over a basic question: do you plan on voting for Obama in 2012? (Actually, the original phrasing was more along the lines of “how could you possibly vote for Obama in 2012?”)

If you’ve been paying any attention at all to the conduct of Mr. Obama’s first term, it isn’t hard to understand where the question comes from.

  • He has continued Bush’s wars.
  • He has failed to close Gitmo, as promised.
  • Don’t Ask Don’t Tell? Don’t ask.
  • Race to the Bottom (or, let’s take Bush’s dumbass No Child Left Untested and double down on “accountability”).
  • He led the handover of trillions of dollars to the financial institutions that created the largest financial crisis since the Depression.
  • He has reasserted the government’s right to torture.
  • And now he stands on the brink of bargaining away Medicare and Social Security to the Koch Brothers’ towelboys in Congress.
  • To those who argue that this is the best he can do under the circumstances, the response is fairly straightforward: losing a fight is one thing, but surrendering before it starts is quite another.

Read more

Saturday Video Roundup: I know it’s been done before, but let’s do it again anyway!

If you’re like me, you appreciate it when musicians work to innovate, to come up with cool new sounds and things that we haven’t heard before. But there’s that old saying: “there is nothing new under the sun,” and that goes double for music. Even the best and most creative artists are really just synthesizing old influences in novel ways, right?

Sometimes we get movements that are heavy on the revivalist, though, and in the past few years we’ve seen a real doozy in all the various iterations of Neo-Soul. Honestly, some of the acts are ethically little more than Holiday Inn cover bands, but damn damn, damn, the best of these bands are just fantastic, even if you think you’ve heard it all before. Read more

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