Spin Cycle

There was no such thing as SPIN when I was a grad student in journalism at Northwestern University.

What?

No really – there wasn’t.

Oh, there were lies and bullshit and half-truths – sometimes by interview subjects, almost always from public relations flacks and, on the most difficult of stories, a consistent combination of all three. But our job as journalists, we were told, was to sift through ALL of the information and present the facts of a story, as we understood them, in the most coherent way possible so our readers could then draw their own conclusions.

OK, this method was frowned upon

– There were no alternative facts.

– There were no versions of Fox News and MSNBC with commentators telling us versions of the story we wanted to hear.

– There was no social media from which to consume fake news and no politicians or public figures in this country who would dare to deny even the most basic rudimentary truths that everyone knew were, well, TRUE.

That was what it was like in the late 1970s – a few years after Richard Nixon resigned in the wake of his knowledge, involvement and lies about Watergate and the dirty tricks he employed in order to win his election to the presidency.

seems quaint now

There was a demand for truth.

One wonders if that is even the case these days since there are so many more pleasant alternatives regardless of what side of the political or moral spectrum you are on.

For instance:

— It is much more pleasing to believe that global warming is inconclusive or even a hoax by elite scientists than to believe the Earth’s temperatures will make our planet uninhabitable by the end of the century.

— It’s also much more desirable to believe this doomsday scenario is nothing more than a liberal talking point than to acknowledge an exhaustive research report from our 13 government agencies that conclusively acknowledges our rising temperatures are, indeed, man made.

Nothing wrong here. Nothing at all.

But no need to stick merely to politics.

— Who in Hollywood wants to believe the 57 women and counting who have accused one of our most powerful industry figures over the last three decades – Harvey Weinstein – of various combinations of rape, sexual abuse and sexual harassment?  Even if you loathe him, and many did long before this came to light, how do you acknowledge the community was so scared silent about his actions for so long when you were one of the many thousands who heard the rumors?

Are our careers all that much more important to us?

sigh

Yes, that was rhetorical.

— But if you don’t want to answer that then do answer how everyone could’ve heard about, and in many cases witnessed, Kevin Spacey’s thing for young boys for all those decades and done nothing? (Note: See Bill Cosby. Or so many others).

And while we’re shedding a light on my fellow liberals – Hollywood and otherwise – let’s talk about some spin on something far less serious.

Excerpts of Democratic National Committee chairwoman Donna Brazile’s new book have just come to light and in one of the most publicized sections she writes about how she considered replacing Hillary Clinton as the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, less than two months before the election, after Mrs. Clinton fainted going into a limousine following her attendance at the NYC 9-11 memorial ceremonies.

  1. The mere advancement of this statement implies Ms. Brazile would have had the power to make this happen – which she did not.

Really not the time for this Donna.

  1. Imagine all of the things you considered under stress, including MURDER, and then consider how much of a chance they had of becoming a reality.
  2. Then consider the lessons I mentioned from journalism school and decide whether you are really telling the truth about all of the above (Note: Especially the part about you replacing her with Joe Biden for president and…Corey Booker as his vice-president???) or whether you are merely spinning a story for your own salacious benefit i.e. in order to sell more of YOUR OWN BOOKS

Not ready to buy my t-shirt quite yet

Research and analytical skills are important but so is context, instinct and experience.

As adults, we’ve all been human for more than several decades so it is in all of our collective powers to surmise THE REAL TRUTH when something doesn’t sound or feel right.

We might not have the journalistic patience or skill to prove our cases for all of the above but we can use reason to decide for ourselves exactly when we’re being spun.

To whit —

If many of the top people in the very American company you co-owned were proven to have met secretly with numerous Russians yet professed no memory of those meetings after first publicly denying them, would you believe them?

Are we all in a Men in Black sequel? #20yearoldMovieReference

#NyetRuskies?

Or would you think you were being spun in an adult version of that nauseating amusement park ride you were barely able to endure as a child?

A talented writer friend of mine named Mikko Alanne, who also happens to be a former student at the college I teach at, created the eight-part National Geographic miniseries The Long Road Home. It debuts on Nov. 7 and is based on ABC reporter Martha Raddatz’s best-selling book that takes you INSIDE the U.S. involvement in the post-Iraq War in 2004.

a must watch

The show is riveting, dramatic and sometimes difficult to watch because it shows us the real HUMAN cost of war and death and bloodshed and ideals – on all sides – and allows the audience to come to its own conclusions by re-enacting just the FACTS as much as possible. Without spinning.

Yes, stories are condensed and judgments were made. It’s certainly not a documentary and definitely not a literal re-enactment of EVERYTHING that happened. This is not the purpose of television or even film drama, whose objective is merely to get to the SPIRIT of what is true as it entertains and hopefully, in some way, informs.

I’d settle for that instead of what we’re being fed now by too many real-life sources. The half-truths, the lies and the ongoing general line of bullshit is making not only us but all of our heads worldwide spin so fast and so quickly that it really is as if we are all on one giant collective Tilt-A-Whirl ride with no way to get off.

Try not to hurl

But as any adult knows there is always a way to get off.

Blood Sweat & Tears – “Spinning Wheel”

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The Chair’s Immodest Proposals

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 12.31.23 PM

Almost 300 years ago Jonathan Swift wrote a satirical essay called A Modest Proposal suggesting that the poor in Ireland sell their children as food to the rich so as not to burden the upper class with the sight of so many raggedy moppets as they walked through the streets.

Our blue vs. red state divide has not quite gotten there – yet – though we are well on our way. As the summer doldrums begin to wind down and the bottom of the pop culture and political barrel is scraped (Note: You know it’s bad when you’re re-watching reruns of shows you’ve already seen – last week – broadcast on yet a different cable channel broadcasting reruns) what’s a legal U.S. citizen to do? Certainly, not read.

Getting lost in one’s thoughts seemed the only choice. This despite the advice once overheard at a 12-step meeting;

Your mind is like a dangerous neighborhood. Don’t go in there alone.

Not being an addict and never one to listen to too much advice, A LOT of original thinking occurred this week that unearthed more than a few immodest proposals. They might not quite rank as Swiftian but they are certainly more entertaining than this year’s unavoidable summer replacement series – The Republican Apprentice. Of course, so is the dentistry of almost 300 years ago.

No... I don't mean that kind of Swiftian. #differentBadBlood

No… I don’t mean that kind of Swiftian. #differentBadBlood

In that spirit, here are some not immodest but very necessary proposals. Yes, they are bold but we need to make America great again. Or as Howard Dean once said: YEEEEEHAHHHHH!!!!! (people remember him, right?)

  1. All global warming deniers are to be shipped off to Antarctica to work on restoring the polar ice caps. If there is indeed no global warming, they will discover once they get there that the ice caps are not melting and no work is necessary. If not, they stay for 10 years to see for themselves that the frost has declined yet another 12% during the decade, which in turn caused our temperatures to increase half a degree per year. When they return in 2025 it will be 115 degrees in August and they will be REQUIRED to continue wearing their Antarctica outerwear in the hottest town in either the south or Midwest. Actually, make that Death Valley, where it will be 146 degrees in August, 2025.
Thanks a-holes

Thanks a-holes

  1. Mega churches must be cede 50% of their fortunes to the unborn fetuses of all the children they will force women to bear against their will in states where their contributions to pro-life or anti-Planned Parenthood initiatives are successful. They will also be stripped of their tax-exempt status and that money will be used exclusively for gay wedding cakes.
Still cracks me up. #MissYouJon #COMEBACK

Still cracks me up. #MissYouJon #COMEBACK

  1. Scandalized, shamed or even disliked celebrities will be required to clean the latrines of every soundstage they have ever worked on or dressing room they’ve ever trashed – with a toothbrush (Note: non-electrical). In the meantime, all of their money will be donated to charities whose causes have been enabled or made necessary by their bad behavior. If they don’t contribute an applicable charity will be named for them. Here is a partial list of this year’s names: Bill Cosby, Katherine Heigl, Cara Delevigne, Justin Bieber, Chris Brown, Robin Thicke, Gwyneth Paltrow and Donald Sterling. Tom Cruise is on probation but will be watched closely during 2016.
Oh god I don't even know what to do with you.

Oh god I don’t even know what to do with you.

  1. Politicians must become journalists and journalists must run for office. This will happen impromptu though will be supervised by a citizen’s volunteer army headquartered out of the old Fox News and MSNBC/NBC buildings. Both will be available because the politicians will have caused their ratings to plummet by making no new policy decisions.  #gridlockgonewild #bloodfromwherever
  1. Any citizen can make an arrest for someone driving 5-15 mph down the street in their car while on their cell phones. The offender will then have their vehicle impounded, their phone confiscated and a microchip installed underneath their wrist that shocks them each time they use a mobile device at any time during the next year. Furthermore, drivers who take up two parking spaces, touch the yellow line of the space next to them with their vehicle or park their SUV in a spot that is clearly labeled COMPACT will be murdered. That’s right, murdered. They will hand over the keys to their car, be strapped to a pole and the driver of the car parked next to them will floor the gas and either split them in half or decapitate them. As the rest of us cheer. Those who don’t cheer will meet a similar fate for not cheering.
This is starting to get serious.

This is starting to get serious.

  1. Florida and Ohio will no longer be allowed to vote since they seem to not only tip the balance of elections unfairly but both are too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter. Except minority voters. They will continue to be allowed at the ballot boxes to make up for all those years where their votes weren’t counted. This policy will last through the next election cycle when new voting regulations will require every wealthy resident of those two states to line up at their local polling place with their birth certificate and most recent tax return. The latter must then meet the approval of a special IRS agent employed at each location to detect fraud.
  1. Anyone refusing to provide goods and services to transgendered individuals anywhere on the gender continuum will be forced to live as their opposite sex indefinitely or until they vow never to discriminate again. If they agree to non-discrimination and break the agreement, then it’s a one-strike rule and they will forever be condemned to the same fate as the individuals they refuse to allow to be their true selves. Also, there will be no wardrobe consults from the LGBT community. #uglysthenewblack #gayagenda
  1. The word dude can only be used in reference to people on a ranch. Otherwise it’s $250 a pop, which will accrue in a fund distributed each year to aspiring fiction writers. Individuals choosing to end a spoken declarative sentence with a question mark will pay $100 per violation, since they tend to be younger. Those fees will accrue in a government account in order to supplement social security and unemployment benefits for future generations.
that's $250, Marky!!

that’s $250, Marky!!

  1. There will be a moratorium on films based on superheroes or comic books for the next 25 years in favor of stories about actual human beings. If there is no measurable decrease in box office revenue during that time the law will be extended another 25 years. If revenue increases, any references to superheroes or comics will be outlawed for future generations. If revenue decreases, there will still be no comic book or superhero movies made until science discovers a viable alternative.
What... no Iron Man 4??

What… no Iron Man 4??

  1. In the next 30 days, the manufacturers of all TV and audio equipment will be required by law to come up with a single, user-friendly remote that can regulate power, channels and audio. Those will be their only three uses. And the device will be equipped with a lifetime battery. Companies who DO NOT participate will have to start new manufacturing operations based ENTIRELY IN THE U.S. and pay unskilled labor DOUBLE THE MINIMUM WAGE. #technomania #bringjobshome .
  1. Saturday Night Live, Sesame Street and the entire Law and Order oeuvre will be given to all illegal immigrants to study for a 30-day period. If any individual in question can pass a test on any one of the series at the end of that time they will automatically be declared American citizens with the irrevocable status that goes with it.
Stabler/Benson 2016

Stabler/Benson 2016

  1. Members of the NRA will be required to play Russian roulette with their weapons each time a school, movie theatre and army base mass shooting happens. If they die their assets will be distributed to survivors of the fallen. If they live they will not be able to use Obamacare for medical treatments, even after they go bankrupt from health costs. An assault weapons ban in Congress would automatically rescind this law.
  1. For every sports analogy made by a newscaster (“This is the Senator’s Hail Mary Pass” or “It’s bases loaded and two outs in the ninth in the life of this bill”) a reference must be made to a Broadway show. This will be done until phrases like “A Chorus Line” are used to refer to the new freshman class in Congress or “Oklahoma” means something more than a Republican stronghold.
  1. Dogs will be regarded with the special status reserved for religious institutions. This means that society will worship them in their homes and shelters and spread the words of their good deeds. Not to mention, all contributions to their upkeep will be tax deductible. Forever. (Note: Make that all animals).