Author Archives: Colin McEnroe

I Paid $62K For 1 Evening And All I Got Was This Bad Human Rights Record

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Do you know what is fun?

Getting mad at rich and famous people for being clueless.

We’re going to do that in just a second, but first a correction. Kirstie Alley did not cause the Fort Lee/GW Bridge mess. Nor has she been indicted for it. We apologize for any confusion.

metgaOK, back to the celebrities. On the Nose today, we may recap the problematic Met Gala.  The dress with the penis on it?  No. We do not judge. The dress that 162 laborers died making and/or carrying? No. We love tourist attractions. The wasteful extravagance of an evening that could easily cost $62,000 to attend and dress for?  No. Although after reading the NYT deep dive on the abuses of the mani-pedi industry, we’re a little jumpy about puttin’ on the ritz, especially for an Asian-themed gala.

Well, if it’s not any of those, what was the problem? Oh, I know! Was is that Clooney’s human rights lawyer wife wore anti-semitic Galliano? No. We’re sure she had her very good reasons! I know! It was all the people who wore poppies, missing their humiliation-laden overtones of Opium War imperialism!. No! You cannot expect J-Law to know things like that. They are not taught in the crappy District !2 schools that Katniss attended.

Was it the cultural appropriation? Well, kinda.

Then what is it? Dummy, it’s the failure of the celebrities to in any way acknowledge  “the ongoing brutal and inhumane crackdown on free speech and human rights going on on the ground in China, one that’s being called the most repressive in 25 years.”

Call it a blind spot.

At least China has not crack
ed down on twerking, which is more than Russia can say.

Oh, wait.

The Nose: Things We Want To Put In Our Mouths

by Categorized: Show ideas, Uncategorized, Year in Review Date:

Another thing we can always do on The Nose is talk about very, very shallow topics. Because, as Einstein said, “Sometimes you get so shallow, it starts to get deep.” Einstein was totally baked when he said this.

But yes! If you told me that Kim Kardashian’s book of her life told in selfies was lying there under the porte cochere, I would run out and get it and look at it even though my grasp of who she is is so vague as to be almost unpatriotic. Still a narcissistic machine understanding its own narcissism.  The Singularity!

Moral questions can be shallow and vice versa. Like: would you have sex with the new Hamburglar? If James Hanley were one of the guests this week, he would gently urge us not to be so soft-headed as to fall for a multinational corporation with sliding sales trying to get you all hot and bothered about an imaginary (but smooth!) criminal. Annie, are you OK? (Sing that 12 times.) Who does he remind you of? Can I tell you my theory? Damien Lewis as Henry VIII.

hamburglar-new.w529.h352 damian-lewis-wolf-hall
There’s something wrong with me, isn’t there?

We can move on now, although it has to be said that if there’s an award for 2015 Hamburglar journalism, the field will be as thick as special sauce. 

What if we don’t want to eat Mickey D’s? What if we want Whole Foods but we are still pretending to be poor with our friend Gwyneth?

This!!!! WF CEO John Mackey interviewed via Skype from his sex-cabana on Mars: “You have to evolve with the marketplace. We may have hit some limit of how much crazy money you can take away from stupid rich people.”* (*Made-up quote.) The Nose may discuss the name of this excellent new place, although panelist Taneisha Duggan sprinted ahead of us with SNAPeas.

Joan Rivers said: “Why cook? So your husband can tell some hooker ‘My wife makes great bread?’ ”

Why cook when there is a “Keurig for food?”  Which is like “an electric chair for waffles.”

UPDATE: We heard from Annie! It turns out she’s OK. She’s having dinner with her cat.

Ripley’s More Probable Than Not!

by Categorized: Show ideas, sports, Uncategorized, Year in Review Date:

It’s late Thursday afternoon, and I’m thinking about the Nose, our Friday culture roundtable.

Did you know it’s a mistake to include content that makes light of domestic violence? Damn, why didn’t WE know about it here at the Cleveland basketball office place? Like eight or nine of us watched the video and we thought it was totally fine, but now we can kind of see what people object to.

We know! We know! Over here at the New York Liberty, a WNBA basketball team, we were putting the finishing touches on our deal to have Isaiah Thomas take over as president, and a guy from the cleaning crew was passing through emptying wastebaskets and he said, “None of my business, but you might have some problems with your women’s fans because of his whole sexual harassment case.”  And we said: What? Is some janitor telling us that Isaiah is not a huge win all around? What? Maybe in Peru where he comes from this is a bigger deal. But we thanked him. And then guess what: it almost seems like he was right!

Sports sports sports! My favorite NFL tradition is when the ref comes in right before the game and measures your balls. Or is that “Dancing With the Stars?” We’re not sure whether, on the Nose, we have anything new, anything meta, anything media-studies-y to say about Deflate-gate. But it’s more probable than not that we do! If nothing else, it should be the catch phrase of this weekend. But even if your spouse screams, “It’s more probable than not that you promised to take me to Chili’s, you @&%$!,” it is still not OK to pick her up and throw her. OK?

Unless you are Floyd Mayweather. It’s kind of amazing that, at the end of the Greatest Fight of the Century If It Had Been Held Five Years Earlier, there is a huge stinking scandal that does not involve Floyd. Instead, it involves Pacman, who decided he could beat Mayweather with one hand tied behind his back but did not tell anybody about this plan except possibly God. And now, he faces lawsuits from decent people who paid good money to see men hit each other much harder in the face.

Enjoy this post while I make a list of our non-sports possible topics.

Dana Whalen, We Love You

by Categorized: Year in Review Date:
Dana, with the late Alan Sagal, ages ago.

Dana, with the late Alan Sagal, ages ago.

WTIC has laid off its news director Dana Whalen, who has labored hard enough and long enough and with consistent enough reliability and professionalism that she deserves to be in some Hall of Fame.  This one?  That one?  I can’t find a bio of her.  That’s typical. Dana has been the model of a working journalist, all grit, no flash. She’s the lunchpail broadcast journalist in a profession dotted with divas. I have no idea how many years she has given WTIC-AM. More than 20. She may have done an earlier stint. But no number will measure that because Whalen, in a way that alarmed the rest of us, worked 7 days a week more often than not, and rarely as few as 8 hours a day. She carried the newsroom. If they thinned out the staff, she took the extra hours on her shoulders. This, apparently, is her reward.

In her rare moments of leisure, Dana is a theater nut, with an encyclopedic knowledge of musicals, perhaps especially Sondheim.

I’ve heard from many of my former colleagues, all of them shaking their heads over this one.

Also laid off, Joanne, the wonderful receptionist for the four CBS stations in Farmington. She’s the mold they use to make other receptionists.

The Statistic I Cannot Get Through My Head

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One of the refrains from people who don’t like the way the Freddie Gray case has been covered is that all this coverage paints police in an unfair light. A Hartford Courant commenter named John McCommas wrote, in response to one oped: “The clear, unmistakable, indefensible blunt intent of your message on that lousy graffiti rock, ‘Black Lives Matter’, is that the lives of white police officers don’t matter. Not to you anyways.” An email to me from WNPR listener Walter complained that the tone of coverage relating to Gray was accompanied by the message that:  “cops are not ‘real people.’ They are just bigoted murderers.”

I sure don’t feel that way.  I know plenty of cops. They’re real people to me, and I want them to be good at their jobs. Their lives matter to me. I have always assumed that the #blacklivesmatter campaign was a way of saying “We want black lives to matter as much as white lives currently do.”

Anyway, writing back to Walter, I wanted to make the point that we’re not dehumanizing all cops if we acknowledge that there’s a problem in this country with death at the hands of police.

And then I wondered how often it happens per year.

It turns out that record keeping on this subject tends to be a bit makeshift but that 1,000 deaths-by-police is not a crazy number.

1,000. In a year.

I can’t get my mind to ingest that number.

In Great Britain, the usual number, per year, seems to be zero.  Give or take one?

Germany reported 8 deaths by police service weapons in a two-year period.

In Canada, well, I read a  bunch of reports like this one, but I never got a hard number. I think if you said a dozen a year, you wouldn’t get much argument.

1,000.

I’m in shock. We really have to look at this. To pretend that calling attention to it amounts to some kind of verbal war against police is ridiculous.

Thursday Thoughts: Mr. Bridesmaid

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I seem to have been second best a lot last year. In recent days, I have finished second in these national awards for column writing, finished as second best radio show around these parts, also finished as second best radio personality

I’m Number Two! I’m Number Two!

As I get older, collective efforts seem like more fun, so I’m proud to stand with my colleagues at WNPR as Best Radio Station. Also won Best Blogger. I win every year because I’m the only name everybody knows. I’m a terrible blogger. Give it to someone else. Please.

nbIf you do nothing else for me this week, listen to my interview with Nancy Butler, a wonderful, radiant lady who founded an “inclusive evangelical” (LGBTQ welcome!) church here. Nancy has ALS. You can’t see it the picture but she’s in a high tech wheelchair, still preaching on Sundays. I’ve been attending her church all month. I’ve learned a lot from her. Mostly about joy. (The t-shirt I’m wearing here says “God Listens.” It’s from a Christian radio station.)

We did a yang for the yin of that show the next day with a Betsy Kaplan-produced show about the struggles between religion and science. 

Coming attractions: This event with Danny Glover, Charles Grodin and a cast of thousands. I’ll be moderating a panel. They’d love it if you came. Two days earlier, this great event for the wonderful Institute Library. I’m hosting at Thali, but my part of the event seems to be sold out, Tickets still available to a few of the others. And everybody hangs at the Library at the end.

Here we are talking on WWL about Ammogate:

What else? Today’s “wish I thought of it” image. Emily Nussbaum writing about Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn in Wolf Hall (the TV series, not the book, Broadway play or fragrance).

Pearls framing her cleavage, eyes narrowed, chin high, she seems eternally aware that she’s being watched, because she’s stuck inside a truly insane system, a reproductive panopticon in which all that matters is the illusion of virginity and the emergence of a male heir, as wombs are traded like unstable derivatives.

Tuesday Take

by Categorized: Shame Index, Year in Review Date:

One of the themes of 2015, for me, is people getting in huge amounts of trouble for doing things that don’t seem all that bad. In other words, the whole Jon Ronson thing. None of us is exempt. I’ve already had one guy, listening to me on the WWL Wheelhouse, accuse me of being a racist based on a certain inflection, a wryness he detected in my voice when I spoke of Sir Charles.  At least he had the decency to accuse me privately. There are exceptions. Britt McHenry really needed to be brought up short and I totally believe she is going to be a sweet and wonderful person from now on.  I mean, go ahead. Tow her car again. I bet she’ll be cool with it.

Anyway, I’ve decided to keep track, a little. Today’s Shame Index concerns Lisa T. McElroy. You all remember her, right? Probably not. That’s the odd thing about this one. On a 1 to 10 scale…

THING SHE DID: I’d give it a 1. I mean, pasting in the (anal beads) porn link by mistake is way over on the “funny little thing that happened” side of the scale, as opposed to the “this proves you’re a horrible person” side. That’s why McElroy’s a 1 and McHenry’s a 7.  I know! They’re hard to keep straight

AMOUNT OF PUBLIC SHAMING: 4? It seems that, professionally, there were some fairly ridiculous consequences. And according to all the updates in that link, I guess it went a wee bit viral. But you can still count me among the people who didn’t really remember this story and thought McElroy was kind of dumb to revive it (and probably double its audience in the process).

SEVENTIES MEMORY THIS STIRS UP. Part of Chevy Chase’s shtik when he anchored SNL’s Weekend Update was to be caught on the phone saying something compromising — “I’m sure the trucker just thought you had your head in my lap.” — as the camera went live. And I swear to you, one of those was: “I still don’t understand who pulls out the beads.” chevy

What else?: Here in Connecticut, we should make a 2015 resolution to have real grown up big boy police departments like they do in other states. That means the State Police and the Newtown police have to conduct full-fledged reviews of the Sandy Hook shootings and get them in soon. As Altimari’s article points out in the final paragraphs, when you do these things, you really learn important lessons that get passed along in potentially life-saving ways. Also, this kind of delay feeds the fevered minds of wacko truthers. It also means the Hartford police department has to stop ordering the wrong bullets and losing track of where the bullets are generally being stupid and crazy about those bullets. (We will be discussing both of these things tomorrow on the aforementioned Wheelhouse.)

Just for fun: Comcast and Time-Warner chatbots try to explain the merger.

Monday Memo

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This guy nails the problem(s) with the White House Correspondents Dinner, a/k/a the Nerd Prom, although I sympathize slightly with attendees who are asked point blank to name their favorite White House Correspondent. A cool answer would have been to go vintage: “The ’74 Dan Rather.” From the current crop, Don Gonyea is always a nice answer. Mark Knoller is a super-wonky answer. And then there’s the  Cheshire Cat.

On our Monday show, The Scramble, we’ve decided to bag that nerd prom and cover a different one.  Maybe a little less nerdy. We’re talking about Kantchella. We’re talking about Nietzschepalooza. We’re talking about Lockestock. We’re talking about Frommaroo. We’re talking about the 62-philosopher smackdown. Here’s our guest for today on that one.

By 9 p.m. John Cage had given way to pounding disco classics from the 1970s in the embassy’s bookstore, Albertine. Over at the Ukrainian Institute, the coffee machine broke down. On the plus side, free charcuterie from D’Artagnan appeared. Speaking in the Ukrainian Institute’s concert hall, Susan Schneider, of the University of Connecticut, speculated about the nature of alien consciousness and cast doubt on whether extraterrestrial beings might be as interested in communicating with us as we are with them. “You don’t spend time reading a book to your goldfish,” she said.

Also on our show today, when it comes to crime and punishment you might thing that the following two things would result in increased punishment (a) a cynical, as opposed to idealistic, motive (b) the betrayal of a position of great trust. You would be wrong, at least when it comes to Gen. David Petraeus. It turns out that the more important you are, the lighter your punishment, even if your crime involved a direct violation of what made you important in the first place.

Looking down the week toward the Nose, we’re already getting interested in the PEN controversy over Charlie Hebdo. And we’re wondering if we can connect it — at least at the level of walk-outs — with the Adam Sandler controversy.  Here’s Garry Trudeau, over the weekend, on Hebdo:

 

 

Drinking Carrot Juice With Lolita in Tehran

by Categorized: Politix Date:

GlassOfJuice and carrotsToday’s Times: 

“Everybody loves us here,” said Ned Lamont, a digital services entrepreneur and former politician, holding a glass of carrot juice offered by one of his hosts.

and

“I asked, what about the ‘Death to America’ slogan?” Mr. Lamont said, referring to the phrase that appears on many banners across the country and has long been shouted at public demonstrations. But the cleric responded that the slogan was from a different era. “He told us, ‘This is the new Iran,’ ” Mr. Lamont said. “Such messages are hopeful and different.”

The Husky Hushed Puppy

by Categorized: Politix Date:

Boss Tweed, Thomas NastIf you wanted to set up a situation in which corruption might someday flourish, you couldn’t do much better than the currently shadowy state of the UConn Foundation. By the way, I think we should make a point of using words like that to describe it. In reporting oil spills, pervasive hacks and volcano eruptions, we should always add, “It is impossible to rule out the involvement of the shadowy UConn Foundation.”  UPDATE: Foundation veep Derek Slap, on my show today, said the foundation is far more transparent than people realize. He’s right that you can look at their 990 and at their annual report. You can look at other kinds of balance sheets.  But you can’t see where all their money comes from.

A Keating story today makes clear how difficult it will be to pass an oversight bill this year. Here’s why that’s important.

UConn itself resists normal oversight on construction projects and the hiring of related consultants. Even after the disasters of UConn 2000 nearly ten years ago, in which the university’s contracting process was so sloppy as to pose a real danger to its students, UConn still kept a lot of its independence. 

Given that, I think it’s fair to ask questions about all these donors who supposedly don’t want their contributions to the Foundation to come to light. Why would that be, exactly? Usually, with donors, you can’t write their names big enough on a plaque to make them happy. But an opaque foundation screams out “pay for play opportunity.” As I said on the show today, nobody’s saying that’s happening right now, but it makes it hard to police in the future, if, for example, Sith lords take over the Foundation. 

Now let’s add in UConn’s dissolution of its Alumni Association — or at least its ties to same. Here’s how the President of the Alumni Association described it this week in a letter to members.

… as you are likely aware, the University’s Board of Trustees has voted to approve the consolidation of its alumni relations activities under the umbrella of the [shadowy] UConn Foundation.

If there was any possibility of arguing that the Foundation was a free-standing nonprofit, it vanishes when things like this happen. Slap says it’s free-standing, but the Foundation seems more like an extension of UConn. You can even see here how it sits inside their website. It coordinates and oversees university functions, at the direction (Slap would say “request”) of the Board. (By the way, check out the staff of the Foundation. It’s a small town.)

There’s a compelling public interest in seeing its list of donors right now and asking questions about how that dovetails with who gets what work at UConn. Maybe there’s nothing to see, but these conditions set the table for a banquet of knavery.