Saturday, September 27, 2014
By now most of you may have heard the president "disrespected" the military and the American flag when he disembarked from the presidential helicopter earlier this week and tried to salute two Marines standing at attention at the bottom of the chopper's exit ramp with a cup of coffee in his hand.
The rightwing propaganda machine went into overdrive outrage mode, castigating the president for this slip-up. The film clip of this incident is about 20 seconds long and nothing in American politics short of Zapruder's footage of the assassination of President Kennedy has been discussed and dissected as much as this innocent moment.
I happened to be speaking about television news ethics in my "Introduction to Mass Media" class this week. Coverage of the president's "latte salute" incident served as a perfect example of all that is wrong with national TV news coverage. It ignores the most important aspects of public policy and it inflates, out of all rational proportion, the most trivial things that transpire.
In short, this incident has been used as an attempt to serve a far right-wing agenda (Fox News) or to chase high ratings and advertizing dollars (ABC, NBC, CBS). In either case, the national networks do not serve democracy. The root of our national conundrum is that America's TV media are owned by large corporations that are more interested in generating mega-profits than in protecting the public interest.
President Obama's latte salute was the subject of a blistering battle of words and ideology on the Facebook page of a former fraternity brother who lives in Louisiana. The fact that he resides in one of the reddest of red states (a state steeped in a legacy of racism) made the interchange between his Facebook friends particularly interesting and angry. One of the comments on the thread suggested Obama's salute was unpatriotic and showed disrespect of both the military and our nation's flag.
After a day of bile and abuse, my fraternity brother decided his thread was "toxic" and promised to take it down. I wanted to get in one last response to his GOP friends before it was abandoned. My post was an appeal to GOP voters in Louisiana to consider voting Democratic in the November elections.
Thursday, July 10, 2014
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Pop music continues to evolve and amaze. Here are some CDs I've been listening to. I have no idea how many of these will make my end of the year list, but for what it's worth, here are a dozen CDs in heavy rotation in my car CD player and at home in the disc changer. Seems a sure bet something here might catch your fancy, too!
Temples - "Sun Structures" -- Temples – “Sun Structures”. Noel Gallagher proclaimed Temples, the hottest new band in Britain. But try not to hold that against them! The Temples, following Tame Impala’s template, showcase a wide variety of 60s psychedelic sounds that owe as much to California acid-tripping bands like the Doors, the Electric Prunes and the Jefferson Airplane as much as the pop sensibilities of England’s T-Rex and the Zombies. Lead singer James Bagshaw carries a charming confidence through his performances on these songs. If “Rubber Soul” or the Monkee’s foray into psychedelic music, “Head” float your boat, you’ll probably have lots of fun listening to this updated version of music inspired by Haight-Ashbury.
Friday, June 13, 2014
Tomorrow morning, a new community English center will open in the small town of Nueva Guinea, Nicaragua.
The moment it opens, it will be the largest foreign-language library in the entire country. It will change the culture of the entire town. It may help enable hundreds of lower and middle class Nicaraguan children and students in the region learn a new language, one that will increase their chances of rising out of the Third World and starting a better life.
Countless of volunteers worked on the building; washing and painting walls; scrubbing and waxing floors; building desks and book cases. Nearly $7,000 in various projects was raised to get the building refurbished. Hundreds of people in the United States donated a wide range of books to this project, from children's picture books to hardback, cloth-bound literary classics.
No one worked harder than my daughter, Isabel. It was her vision for the library that started the ball rolling. It was her personal project for the Peace Corps. It was her never-ending cajoling of needed supplies and donations that made this community center a reality. It was her baby from day one. Tomorrow morning, the baby is birthed and Nueva Guinea has a proud new library.
That this should come on the day before Father's Day is one of the nicest things that has ever happened to me. Sheer coincidence, for sure. I don't care much.
I am one very proud dad.
Isabel, you are one amazing person!!
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Friday, November 29, 2013
In July and early August, they played several gigs in club venues in Philadelphia. You could see them gain confidence and proficiency with each passing performance. Then, just two weeks ago, they headlined a benefit concert Luke organized for his sister’s library project for the Peace Corps in Nicaragua. I introduced the band before they performed. Standing on the stage with them felt like being in presence of caged lions. They were ready to pounce. And once Luke started singing, they owned the room. Music savvy friends who had never heard them before were suitably impressed. The Late Greats made my favorite music of 2013. I wish they had something out on CD, they’d be on the list for sure.