Porn, The Mafia, and Me: A True Story

When the leader of the free world does nothing after an American journalist is killed it emboldens the rest of the world’s leaders to do the same or much worse.  That’s what the publisher of the NY Times said (according to Michael Schmidt, a top NY Times reporter) to the people who write and report for him this week.

In normal times of international protest and government-sponsored murder, all done amid a constant vigilance to maintain some sort of modicum of balance in the free world, this would go without saying.

But these are not normal times.

Uh, yeah, Dan, that’s an understatement.

When I was fresh out of journalism grad school in the late seventies I was a reporter at Daily Variety’s Chicago bureau.  No, it wasn’t the Times or the Washington Post but we covered lots of hard news.  Not to mention, I was thrilled to have the job – actually, any job.

In that way, the times, then AND now, are still normal.

This made me recall a particular dicey situation back then when I was covering the local porn industry.  Um yeah, the seventies were rife with porn.  Though not as rife as we are today when it’s so accessible and so…free.

No disrespect, Stormy. #horseface? #isHeSerious?

These were the days when downtown movie theatres showing porn were de rigueur in every big city and ran day and night.  These theatres, depending on what they were offering, attracted all types of people – straight and gay, couples and singles, professionals and civil servants.  Especially cops.  Loads of cops would drop into the local porn palace during the day for a quick fix.

I know this is true because I, too, was there.

Well now I’m intrigued…

Relax.  It was on a professional basis.  As a still closeted gay guy I had no interest in what was being offered by the porn being shown in downtown Chicago.  Though suffice it to say if I were a straight cop doing that beat I might have occasionally dropped in to see what’s up.

So no judgments here.

No, I was there because I had to report the weekly Chicago movie box-office grosses and this huge old movie porn palace, once the home of vaudeville shows, smoky band singers and chorus girls, was on my list and made a lot of money.  Or so it was reporting.  The problem is, my local film exhibition sources told me they were not making anywhere near the money I was reporting.

In other words, I was being lied to.

Well now i’m ANGRY.  #channelingmyinnermoviejournalist

Not only that, but common knowledge was that the Chicago porn industry was controlled by the local Mafia.  This meant that the running of the theatres, the money to make and advertise the films, all of it, was filtered through some guys.

My assignment was to go to the theatre, try to get some real numbers and, if I wanted, see if I could find out anything about the guys.

When I looked slightly nauseous at the prospect of this assignment, our bureau chief, who had his feet up on the desk and no intention of going out in the field on this or pretty much any other story at that point in his life, sort of smiled.  And said:

Don’t worry.  They don’t kill reporters.

SO COMFORTING

It was sort of a joke but sort of not.   When I pressed him on this, because at heart I’m (a bit of) a coward, he tried to reassure me.  One of those assurances was that the amount of publicity the Mob or any big time organization would get by killing a journalist from a prominent news organization wouldn’t be worth it.  It would shine a light on what they do and put their entire operation in jeopardy.

He framed it as your basic risk-reward scenario where it was not wise or worth the time for the mob do go after our profession.  Threats, perhaps.  Intimidation maybe.  But death?  Not so much.

Me, accepting the assignment

This could only seem logical to a young reporter in the late seventies because, indeed, it was.  If Nixon didn’t have Woodward and Bernstein or any of their family members murdered, and who was more connected than him and his minions, I figured I was safe.  Hell, Mario Puzo was still walking around after WRITING The Godfather and exposing some of the Mob’s darkest secrets.

Not to mention, there was so much money on the mainstream crossover table that the last thing murderous men wanted to appear to be was murderous.  That just wouldn’t sit well with the legitimate public you were seeking to continue to buy the goods you were selling them.

Mob Logic #alsocomforting

With the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by a gang of envoys of Saudi Arabia’s government in Turkey three weeks ago, this is no longer the case.  Especially since the very public refusal of sitting Electoral College Pres. Donald Trump to believe some guys who brought knives, guns, a bone saw and a CORONER to meet an American journalist at a foreign embassy could possibly have engaged in pre-mediated murder.

The official denial by the MOB Michael Corelone  I mean, youngish Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, convinced him, we are told.  They were involved in a quarrel and fighting by hand, which led to his (Khashoggi’s) death.    In fact, our Electoral College POTUS went on to say that with a multi-billion dollar arms deal at stake that could cost us a lot of new jobs this is no time to jeopardize our relations with this particular foreign country.

Is it 2020 yet? #MuellerHURRY

And to think there was a time when the Mob was worried that the murder of an American journalist in pursuit of the truth might actually hurt their bank accounts and turn the American public against them.

Well, this is no longer the late seventies.  We now are officially under Mob Rule – 2018 style.

Frank Sinatra – “Strangers in the Night”

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Living in an ADD World

Do you find your mind shifting from topic to topic these days?  Do you interrupt people far too often? Perhaps you’re jittery, nervous, impulsive, argumentative or – all of the above?

A qualified medical professional or experienced lay person could quickly diagnosis you with A.D.H.D. – Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder – a condition that affects at least 8 million adults in the U.S. and approximately double that or more in children.

I know that because I am one of those adults and, though undiagnosed at the time, was one of those children.

I told you I was busy!

Relax, it’s not such a terrible condition. Medication can change your life. Simple organizational exercises and psychological coping mechanisms allow you to be highly functional and quite effective at any task at hand.   And even untreated, the condition can come with the ability to hyperfocus – which in my case meant the inordinately handy superpower of waiting until the last minute to complete absolutely everything (Note: And humblebrag, often to great results) for the entire first half of my life.

Still, if you’re just discovering all this in 2018, I’m sorry to say the overwhelming chances are YOU DO NOT HAVE ADHD.  

C’mon chairy!

Much as I’d like to welcome you into the club, I can’t.

Because what I believe, more than anything else, is that:

You simply have…HAD IT.

I can’t with all this, and neither can you. Who can? No one – not and remain fully functional and optimally effective.

YES TIM

And don’t tell me to turn off the news. What if this is 1936 Germany? (Note: If???). Would it be prudent to turn off the news? I just hate people whose diagnosis is to turn off the news. So don’t be one of those people.

Or, as Big Edie lectured to Little Edie in the brilliant musical Grey Gardens:

When are you gonna learn, Edie? You ‘re in this world, you know. You’re not out of this world.

Musical theatre aside, see if anything about this is familiar:

I started one morning this week walking my dog and reading, on my phone, a Business Insider story someone posted on the 90 Best picture Oscar movies ranked by top critics. Yeah, I was hoping to find Forrest Gump at #90 too but it was #84, which wasn’t too disappointing.

But then you have to live with things like All Quiet On The Western Front at #4 and Lost Weekend at #3? Have you ever suffered through either of them? Good, because before you do you’ll also want to know The French Connection is #10 while Midnight Cowboy is #54 and The Sound of Music is #64.

Nope. Don’t ask. NOT GOING THERE.

So f-ck this list.

Or any list because then I’m reading the actual paper (Note: Yeah, I do that sometimes) and see that Trump is saying his approval numbers are up to 50% in one poll and that they are higher than Pres. Obama’s at the time. And they’re particularly up among African Americans, which he attributes to Kanye West’s big fat virtual bear hug this week.

Well, it turns out Trump’s sort of right, but partly because it’s the Rasmussen poll, which always leans far right, but primarily because he has not taken an average of all polls across the board – which have him trailing Obama. Still, it’s in the ballpark and now I’ve spent too much time aggravating myself. But, well, at least I’m informed. Right?

Oh AMEN… on loop… forever #oruntil2020

Which leads me to seek some entertainment and I watch the work of two of my former students on DVR who write for the new Zack Braff sitcom Alex, Inc., which turns out to be a perfectly charming diversion from anything in my life. Except that it’s on ABC and one of the episodes I watch directly follows the dreaded, phony star of the people herself, Roseanne – a show and person I have vociferously boycotted because in 2018 I know there is nothing real or funny about her except her uncanny ability to get attention for herself under the guise of some fictional high ground (Note: Who does that sound like?).

Nevertheless, because I want to be loyal to my students I had set the DVR a few minutes early for Alex, Inc. so as not to miss a second of their show and instead am now stuck with the sickening spectacle of the new/old Roseanne sitting at her kitchen table, pretending she is a member of the white working class. Who, it seems, in real life, actually voted in the majority for Hillary Clinton and NOT for Trump. Yeah, that’s right.  Read this and think #NotFakeNews:

We’re talking nonfiction here people

At which point I later I see on Twitter that Stormy Daniels – my new hero because who doesn’t like a pissed off porn star with a real sense of humor who has an attorney smarter and way better looking than the president – dogging Roseanne. Which, okay, I cop to LOVING but not when I realize it’s only because Roseanne first dogged Stormy by categorizing her this way in a far larger fonted tweet:

To which Stormy responds:

To which I tweet back to both of them, and to Patricia Arquette, who was also somehow in the argument to begin with, don’t ask me to explain how:

And you think I should turn off the news? Or take my meds? #NotAChance.

delicious

Because then I would’ve missed Trump lying to a misguided (by him) crowd in Cleveland about bringing back jobs en masse to the Midwest that will never return, which allowed me to then laugh totally without guilt at Seth Meyers that night when Kathy Griffin referred to his First Sons as Date Rape and Eddie Munster.

Sure, I know it’s not right but I’m not perfect and when you’re desperate enough you will laugh at and/or vote for almost anything – as that rally in Cleveland so aptly demonstrated.

Still, this leaves me totally disarmed when Friday night I catch up with David Letterman’s new Netflix show, My Next Guest, where he interviewed Tina Fey and she actually apologizes for the last line in her brilliant SNL sheetcaking segment from last year that was in response the alt-right/Nazi /White Supremacist protestors of mostly young men marching in Charlottesville, VA where an innocent young woman was murdered (and many others injured) when one of their brood decided to drive a sports car into the crowd.

No regrets Tina

That was the line where Tina urged us NOT to show up to protest the Nazi brood there or in any other city but instead do precisely what these “chinless turds” don’t want us to – act like it’s the opening of a thoughtful movie with two female leads, don’t show up.

But because of all the blowback she got at the implication of silence as a strategy to resist Nazis she said she wishes she had a time machine to go back and change that line to something more like: fight them in every way except the way that they want.

Which then led me to ponder – do I now tweet Tina and tell her that despite the social media kerfuffle she needn’t rethink one line of her brilliant piece because these days there is no politically correct way to #Resist that will please everyone?

The fact that Tina wrote this line (from Mean Girls) is not lost on me

And thank God, or whoever you believe Her to be, for that because the next great moment of Resistance in my mind is scheduled for this summer in England. Trump is planning a state visit there July 15 and a crowd of 1000 drag queens (and growing) has already signed up to meet him at the airport in a massive demonstration. There is even a Facebook page for the event that states: Due to the appalling way the Trump administration has regarded the rights and welfare of LGBTQI communities of the US, the idea of a Trump visit to the UK is unacceptable.

CALL BACK TO RU 

Still even better is this further explanation by one of the organizers, Cheddar Gorgeous, stating that the strategy is really to be:

In solidarity with many other groups who feel marginalized along lines of race, class and gender.

Which finally leads me to accept this one simple fact –

Any world where someone named Cheddar Gorgeous can lead a massive anti-Trump rally in a country with one of the largest economies in the world (UK is #6, right behind….California…HQ of the #Resistance – ok, not a country but a state…of mind) — is not one where you to turn off the news – or to anything else – any time soon.

Meds or no meds.

Diana Ross – “I’m Coming Out”

A Storm is Gathering

Here’s what we now know about Donald Trump that we never wanted to know:

1- He doesn’t use condoms, even when he has sex with porn stars.

2- He actually enjoys being ordered to drop his pants so he can be lightly (or perhaps wholly, who knows?) dominated.

3- He often tells women he flirts with and/or bones that they remind him of his daughter.

EWWWWWW

All that and more was revealed when adult film actress/director/writer and stripper (I love all those monikers together!) Stormy Daniels sat down with Anderson Cooper for her 60 Minutes interview Sunday night.

Great get, CBS!!!

And…gee thanks, Stormy!!!

Of course, we either knew or could intuit most of the above. Even the separate bedrooms with Melania, the elaborate apparatus of pay-offs, legal maneuverings and physical threats were not shocking.

Yes, granted, the Las Vegas thug who came up to Stormy in the parking lot some years ago when she was carrying her infant daughter and was told to leave Trump alone because it would be a shame if something happened to her beautiful daughter’s Mom – okay, yeah – that was a surprise.

Sort of.

My face after hearing literally ANY trump news.

Still, that’s hearsay (not heresy, not yet anyway) and has nothing to do with Russia. Or does it?   Well, the ethnicity of the big guy was held back so who really knows for sure?

Well…who knows about anything for sure anymore?!!

Do you? I certainly don’t. And I’ve spent most of my life thinking that I did – know something, that is.

Okay, so I DO know a few things.

One is that Stormy on CBS was just one teensy portion of the bad weather that is brewing in the soap opera/reality show we now like to call The Homeland.

I will probably have to use this meme in every post until the end of the Trump administration

Not only do she and her very credible and powerful attorney Michael Avenatti (Note: He’s the guy who beat the NFL at their own game for millions of settlement dollars AND in his spare time races cars and, well, has dreamy blue eyes – there, I said it!) dangle the carrots of upcoming secret recordings and DVD images, each of them looked into the camera sternly and pretty much ORDERED Trump and his legal team to quit lyin’ about them (and their intentions) or else.

Sue me…. wink

So now that we do know for a fact that DT (or is it DD?) enjoys being ordered – well, according to credible/incredible Stormy anyway – it’s anyone’s guess what could happen next. I mean, he might defy them just in order to be punished, right?

You most certainly DON’T KNOW and NEITHER DO I!!

Meanwhile back on the other end of The Homeland in Washington, DC – which is also LITERALLY Trump country even if he did spend this weekend, as he usually does, at his lavish Mar A Lago Resort in Florida golfing – a different sort of storm broke on every one of the broadcast networks.

About 800,000 people flooded the streets of the Capitol to #MarchForOurLives –meaning a mass demand for stricter gun control – led by the a small group of teenagers who survived the recent mass shooting that killed 17 people (14 of them their classmates) and wounded 14 more at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

They were joined by millions more in cities across the country and all over the world as far away as Tokyo, Berlin, London and Paris. No, this is not #FakeNews. Take a look:

A sea of humanity

Yeah, and sorry, CBS – no exclusives, here. Everyone already knows!!!

Sure, there’s a debate about the numbers. The organizers say 800,000 in D.C. but the official government estimate is 200,000 plus – the latter estimate being as reliable as the government (Note: See 60 Minutes nee #Fake/#Real #News).

Nevertheless, it was hard to watch those kids on Saturday and NOT realize that the weather is shifting, and not in a good way, for all those elected officials who chose to take this weekend off and leave town to play golf. Or to just, well, play.

a different storm that is coming…

By next year the millennial generation (ages 20-35) will number 73 million vs. the Baby Boomers’ 72 million (and decreasing, because, um..some of us are going to…well…die?) and this group overwhelmingly disfavors the current D.C. majority, not to mention its policies. That being the case, you can imagine what and whom the Parkland high school survivors and their millions of followers favor.

If not, look at some of their live statements at #MarchForOurLives. They were abundantly clear AND moving, which is really saying something since:

  1. The youngest speaker was 11.
  2. The speaker who wrote the tribute poem literally THREW UP mid-rhyme beside the podium yet, comforted by another fellow survivor of a different shooting and of a different race, kept going with even greater verve and an even greater response.
  3. The final speaker, Parkland senior Emma Gonzales, the 17 year old viral sensation with the shaved head who just a short few weeks ago after the Florida shooting was the first person to break through ALL THE NOISE and literally CALL B.S. on all the powers-that-be who offered her thoughts and prayers but NO plan for legislative change – dropped the mic on all of us with four plus minutes of dead, stone cold silence.

The real deal

Years ago an acting teacher told my class that one of the strongest stances you could take in any scene you were in was to be still, say nothing and just react. When you are really present, committed and fully in the moment your power is undeniable, she said – to your scene partner, to your audience and to the camera. It will be the best piece of acting you will ever do because it won’t be acting. You will merely be.

Ms. Gonzales was not present that day all those years ago because she is only 17. But when the political becomes personal, when the hurt is undeniable and when words are indeed inadequate, every affected generation finds a handful of their peers who can crystalize what they want, feel and believe into a series of historic political actions. Ms. Gonzales is one such person for her group and this is one such action.

Check your local forecasts. There will be many more to come. And while you’re at it, buy a new umbrella.

Rihanna – “Umbrella”

The Porn Prez

Everything about Donald J. Trump is pornographic – his language, his actions, his lifestyle and even his appearance.

This is not so much a judgment as an observation.

Personally, I have nothing against pornography. It can be fun to observe or even to actively indulge in – but with moderation. Much like a great bottle of wine, a pitcher of margaritas, or an episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians. 

Me, but with trashy reality shows #sorrynotsorry

But to indulge in any one of them on an endless loop daily would profoundly affect one’s psyche – not to mention one’s physical self – and ultimately not in a good way.

For instance, I know I’d put a gun to my head in you strapped me in a chair for hours at a time seven days a week and forced me to stay current (kurrent?) with Kim, Khloe, Kourtney, Kylie, Kendall and mom Kris.

Still never gets old #momager

The fact that I even know all of their names makes me want to shoot myself.

This is what Trump is doing to the country. Well, half the country.

Okay, 3 million more than half.

Maybe 4 million at this point. Though I might be overestimating. A diet of pornography will do that to you. Everything feels…well, bigger. Or at least more orange.

The point is, the majority of us do want to shoot ourselves. Or someone.

Don’t deny it. The thought has crossed your mind and more than once. Where the (metaphorical?) bullet goes depends on whether you are a masochist or a sadist, a pessimist or an optimist. But the perverse urge to misbehave in some very, very VERY obscene way is there. How could it not be when every day we’re treated to a new episode of Donald Does _____XXXXX_____.

well we know the storm is coming…

Stormy?

Comey?

McCabe?

Mueller?

The FBI?

The Dreamers?

The Justice Department?

High School students?

Or just any Woman in his way or with whom he has had his way? Or not.

Who will be eliminated next? #staytuned #dowehaveto?

Though certainly not the NRA. That much we can take to the bank(s). Which are doing just fine, and probably financing a whole new group of American made steel and aluminum McMansions even as we speak.

Do I sound bitter? Certainly, not! Why would I be? I have health insurance, a job, a 401-K and better interest rates than my parents ever dreamed of. And I’m in the top percentage of earners in the country. What more could I possibly want?   And, have you listened to yourself lately???

Okay, I will admit to some rage.

Nothing to see here

I carry it with me in traffic as I curse the person with Arizona plates driving in front of me in beautiful urban Los Angeles, sure that they voted for Donald Does while living in their own aluminum and steel faux McMansion – which is nestled on the corner of a golf course that doesn’t let in Jews or Black people.

I’m not proud of this. But at least I’m aware. Though I’m not sure if that means anything. Certainly not that I’m even close to being fully #woke. Or want to be.

More than one person in the last year and a half has told me the Trump presidency feels like a dream – either in the sweet or nightmare scenario, depending on what their political stance was at any given moment.

so like.. when can I move to Mars? #hurryupElonMusk

Well, that makes sense. There have been studies that say pornography can greatly increase and/or influence our dreams – even boost our fantasy libidos – because it stimulates dopamine in our brain.  That’s the neurotransmitter responsible for giving us a high. Like a good bottle of wine or a pitcher of margaritas or….

Okay, I wont say it. But I will say this —

In some cases this is a good high and in others this high is WAY TOO GOOD and makes us an addict.

You may say: But Chair, this doesn’t make any sense. Donald Does gives me no pleasure. He doesn’t make me high. He makes me angry. It’s not the same.

Really??? So you never…hate watch???

YES RU

Now I’m not saying our/my addiction to hate watching every move on Donald Does is making us/me into what we/I have become. (Note: And oh yes, reading episode and/or weekly recaps counts too).

Nor am I saying hate watching Keeping Up with Donald Does is NOT making us into just that..

I am only observing/actively indulging in the idea that the Opioid epidemic is not the only insidious addiction currently ripping apart the fabric of our country.

And that we might consider in this newest class of Opioids, the only solution is to refuse to buy it. And then come together to take the damn thing off the market, at which time it will be destroyed (Note: Either by us or by self-immolation) and/or put under lock and key for good

Think of it as a human assault weapon, not a toxic reality show, that has somehow managed to cleverly masquerade itself as porn.

Florence + The Machine – “Kiss With a Fist”