Category Archives: Year in Review

Among the Trumpians

by Categorized: Politix, Uncategorized, Year in Review Date:

IMG_1484 IMG_1488 IMG_1489At Trump events, the press has to stay inside a pen made of crowd control barricades, starting 15 minutes before the speech gets rolling. Prior to the arrival of DOTUS*, we are free to move about the country.

There were three guys — late middle aged, white — lined up along one of the barricades at the Hartford Trump event Friday night, and I chatted them up. Only two were really talkative. They were both contractors. We had a pleasant, sometimes bantering, conversation. One guy, from Waterbury, kept trying to interview me. “What about you? Do you think It’s time for a change? What are you going to do.” I told them the candidate whose views were closest to mine is Bernie Sanders. That didn’t bother them at all. They didn’t think Bernie could get his agenda passed, but they seemed to think he was a good guy. They regard Hillary Clinton as the spawn of Satan, but that’s another story.

Those guys were pretty typical of the dozen or so Trumpians I spoke to on Friday night. They were pleasant. I didn’t have a nasty conversation all evening. (This is a reminder of how much nicer people are in person than they are on social media.) I made it a point to seek out black and Puerto Rican people in the hall, although they are not easy to find at what is, demographically, a Pat Boone concert with signs. People said the same things over and over.  They’re working hard but feel like the country is losing ground; they want a change; this guy is not a politician; he’s the only guy who could go to Washington and not instantly become a new manifestation of the same old beast.

They were not Cult of Personality people, although if I had burrowed my way to the densely packed front of the room, I surely could have talked to people who were. The closest I came was a young black man from Massachusetts who said he had “grown up on Trump.”  Some of them were almost process of elimination supporters. Nobody else makes any sense to them.

I want to emphasize one last time how pleasant all of my encounters were because of what comes next.

Mid-way into DOTUS’s speech, he regularly whips the crowd up against the press, pretty much the way Billy Joel**, mid-way through his set, plays “Uptown Girl.” It’s a hit. People expect to hear it. From his place on the Hartford stage, Trump pointed to all of us in the press pen and shouted, “These are the most dishonest people in the world!”

Immediately, several thousand heads swiveled toward us and several thousand throats opened up with lusty boos.  Including my contractor guys. My guys! We had been having such a nice time! The journo-phobic section of the speech went on for many minutes, with some digressions. (A Trump stump speech is like the “before” in an Adderall commercial. Thoughts begin in one spot and then, like kites in an updraft, go skittering through space. Pitch, roll, yaw.) Trump even pre-accused us of misreporting the crowd size. OK, I’ll play along. I think I’m pretty good at crowd-guessing. I’ve been doing it a long time. I would have said 3500. I’ll go up to 4000, but that’s my limit. Certainly not the 6000-7000 of the official police guess. (On the other hand, as we all departed, late and luckless people were still trying to clear security and get in.)

Trump’s speech was almost entirely about process — that is, the process of running. The press, the other candidates, the protesters, the delegate allocation, the escalator [it came up twice], the crowds he gets, the forces arrayed against him. The only moment that struck me as chilling was his statement that, if he is not nominated, many Republicans will not vote. “Hopefully that’s all,” he added. That seemed to be a variation on a Trump trope of being the one who plants the idea of mayhem in the streets while appearing to disclaim it. He didn’t start the fire.

There were many promises of days to come when we will win again, but startlingly few — even for Trump — specifics about how this will come to pass. Except for The Wall, tangible proposals in a Trump speech are needles in a smokestack. Demanding substance would be like yelling “Where’s the beef?” in a vegan restaurant.  It’s beside the point.

Random observation: I was struck anew by the degree to which vocal folds are destiny for the kind of politician who thrives on whipping up big crowds. Trump doesn’t have a nice voice, but he’s good yeller. He sounds like an especially appealing version of himself when he’s yelling, and he appears to be able to do it with very little vocal hangover. It’s like what Vonnegut said about big penises. You never know who will get one.

We should learn something every day, right? On Friday night, I hope I learned to listen less patronizingly to Trump supporters.  Many of them have poured their hopes and resentments into a badly cracked jug. The shoddy condition of that amphora is not necessarily a comment on the people and what they feel. You know the guy doing work on your house?  The two guys installing a new garage door? The owner of the small business who resurfaced your driveway or worked on the stone wall next door?  Nice people, right?  You always smile and wave at them, and they wave back. They’re Trump guys.

  • * Donald Of The United States
  • ** Billy Joel played at Donald and Melania’s wedding.

 

 

 

Did The Conard Mascot Argument Just Get Uglier?

by Categorized: sports, Year in Review Date:

conard[UPDATE: I now have confirmation from multiple sources that these obnoxious t-shirts exist. So you can ignore the tentativeness at the start of this post.] The title is in the form of  a question, because I’d need to see more verification of this article.  (Bad word trigger warning.) I’m not questioning the reporter’s work. I’m just uncomfortable re-posting, as settled fact, stuff from the Internet. (Not that it matters, but I always thought that symbol meant “up yours” as opposed to what is cited in the article.)

If true, it’s certainly an extra (repulsive) wrinkle in the story that ran yesterday. And what sort of “parent” would, in a parental capacity, introduce that kind of posturing into his or her kid’s school environment?

An oft-repeated canard in these debates: “Native Americans don’t care about this issue. Only PC white kids do. There’s a guy at work who’s 1/16 Lakota Sioux, and he’s fine with teams like the Redskins. He said so in our break area.”

That really won’t cut it. The NCAI, probably the largest and oldest organization of First Nations people, has waged a 50-year battle against these mascots. A tour of their site will introduce you to many publications and posts such as this one. 

Another claim — you can see it in the comments on the Courant article — is that the whole argument is superficial. You can hear Native American activist Rochelle Ripley rebut this in a November 2015 interview with me here (the comment starts around 33:25).

It’s also not superficial because, if you can be flip, crude and reductive about Native Americans, you can transition pretty easily to Mexicans, Muslims, refugees. You have abandoned the position that all human beings deserve some kind of minimal respect. Even sadder, you sold that profound ideal for the sake of high school sports, the proverbial mess of pottage.

But please don’t take refuge in the idea that this doesn’t offend anyone. It does. If you don’t care, if you want to buy offensive, denigrating t-shirts because that’s the only way you can fully express your school spirit, at least own that.

 

 

What’s The Matter With Enfield?

by Categorized: theater, Year in Review Date:

AIHoward Sherman, who once upon a time held major posts at three Connecticut theater institutions, now watches the landscape like a protective mother hawk, wary of incursions upon artistic freedom, especially in American high schools.

This week his raptor head swiveled toward Enfield, where some kind of parental pressure group appears to have muscled out a high school production of “American Idiot,” the Green Day musical.  Sherman even got Billy Joe Armstrong himself to enter a plea on behalf of the show, although Armstrong’s communication muddies the question of whether the high school was planning a version of of the script custom-modified by the faculty director or the toned-down  “high school version” which apparently already exists for just this kind of use. [Added thought: that very inconsistency makes me wonder if there’s some other version of this story, but Sherman has not been able to pry it out of the school leaders so far.]

No matter. The theater group seems to have folded its cards.

What remains is the question: why is it always Enfield? In 2011, the town made national news when its politicians forced the cancellation of a library showing of Michael Moore’s documentary about American health care. From 2010 to 2012, the town, um, made national news and engaged in a protracted battle with civil rights groups suing over Enfield’s practice of holding its public high school graduation ceremony in a Bloomfield church. The case was settled when the town agreed to stop using the church. 

So is Enfield some kind of undeclared First Amendment laboratory?

Those who read Sherman’s story may notice a sly little dig from Armstrong. Enfield High’s team name and symbol are the Raiders, depicted with the face in profile of a First Nations person. You know, because of the way those Indians used to raid all the time. [UPDATE: I’m told Armstrong probably wasn’t making a dig. He’s from Oakland. Of course, their Raiders are pirates.]enfieldlogo

Smart Ones

by Categorized: Cap City Blues, Crime, sports, Year in Review Date:

The indispensable Kevin Brookman has secured this memo suggesting that the Yard Goats stadium building site has become a “feeding ground for burglars.” It turns out this is a literal statement.

These burglars are cheeky monkeys! They broke into the trailers and used a microwave there to heat up frozen dinners!smartones

The site had no alarms or motion lights.  How clueless would everyone have to be not to think that this particular site would face massive security challenges?

The Trump Straw Man

by Categorized: Politix, Uncategorized, Year in Review Date:

Donald Trump hair from above and behindSupporters of the Democratic Party in Connecticut received an email this week, ostensibly from new party chairman Nick Balletto. Balletto has been a pleasant surprise so far, offering up gentlemanly words upon the resignation of his opposite number Jerry Labriola and moving swiftly and sensibly to change the name of the party’s annual dinner. That makes me doubt that he had much to do with this very stupid email

Donald Trump is the classiest, most luxurious Presidential candidate of all time (just ask him).

His brand has risen him to the top of the polls, and now Trump-brand Republican candidates are running for office across Connecticut to control our towns, cities, and communities.

Add your name to help us defeat Trump-brand Republican candidates in Connecticut — we need to mount an effort starting TODAY to elect Democrats across the state >>

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want guys like Donald Trump running my city.

Sign up before midnight TONIGHT to kick these ReTRUMPlicans to the curb in November.

Thanks,

Nick Balletto

Setting aside its garbled English, this communication makes no sense at all. Here is a list of contestable mayor’s races. Can you spot one where a Republican candidate who resembles Trump is running? Even though I can’t claim much knowledge of many of these towns, I doubt there are any “guys like Donald Trump” in play, and if there are, the Democrats should name them instead of misting everybody with their spray bottle of bogeymen.

I’m sure there was a national memo sent out: for the immediate future, tar your Republican rivals with the stickiness of Trump, whether it makes the slightest bit of sense or not. I do understand this is politics. I do understand that the Republicans, for their part, have spent seven years slinging around the notion that Barack Obama — a Democrat who has mostly been egregiously pro-business and heart-sinkingly in the thrall of Wall Street, capitalism and big banks — is a socialist.

So nobody ought to expect fair play from either side. How about plausibility? Obama is no socialist, and Roy Zartarian, the Republican candidate for mayor of Newington, is nothing like Donald Trump. Probably. I don’t really know, but I promise to watch him carefully for signs.

Mr. Balletto, you have an office full of bros and frat boys. If you do not keep a close watch on them, they will make you look like an idiot. Maybe even a “Trump-brand” idiot. Whatever that is.

 

Best Right Wing Jackass Sore Loser Radio Pitch of the Day

by Categorized: Year in Review Date:
Was Supreme Court Justice Roberts Blackmailed?

By Wayne Allyn Root

 

It’s time to start asking the question. It’s time to be cynical. It’s time to assume the worst of this government. Has Supreme Court Justice John Roberts been blackmailed or intimidated? I would put nothing by the Obama administration that lives and rules by the Chicago thug playbook.

 

CALL 516-735-5468 or e-mail Sandy to schedule interviews with Wayne Allyn Root.

 

Is the idea implausible that this same Obama administration that orders IRS attacks, then orders destruction of key evidence, would stop at nothing to save Obama’s signature achievement? Is it impossible to believe that Obama and his socialist cabal that learned from Saul Alinsky that “the ends justify the means” would hold something over a Supreme Court justice’s head? It’s time to ask the question loudly and boldly because something is clearly wrong in Washington, D.C.

 

Is that the purpose of government agencies like the IRS and the NSA that are abusing our rights – to listen to us, to watch us, to find something we’ve done wrong, and then use it to intimidate, harass, threaten or extort key political figures so that Obama can “fundamentally change America?”

The Brightness Control

by Categorized: Politix, Uncategorized, Year in Review Date:

Annie The Musical, (6626178677)The sun will come up tomorrow, and it will be brighter.

That has been the consistent message of the Malloy administration, starting at least as far back as February.  Some spin doctor told Malloy and his troops: keep saying the “brighter” thing.

At times, it has caused public officials to sound like they were doing a treacly light bulb commercial instead of the people’s business. Here is Malloy spokesman Devon Puglia explaning to WNPR (thanks, Diane) why it’s a good thing to gut the library budget. Because brighter!

And in describing the weekend budget deal, Malloy decided to bring on da poetry. You know, some fresh new imagery!

“A brighter tomorrow will start with this budget today,” Malloy said in a statement.

Ai-yi-yi.

Please bear in mind: it is not tomorrow yet. We’ll let you know when the brightness starts.

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.