Once Upon In Television

There was once a time when the television was a one per household item, those who knew a family that had one would ask to visit just to view it. Some would marvel at whatever was on the screen, even the test pattern, so I’m told, the killer has always been, even today, the repeat. As a television programmer, the worst overheard comment is, ‘I’ve seen that’.

The President of the United States possess the most recognizable image in the world, it should be possible to simply say, ‘The President’ said, and not have to display an image in order for people to know who is being talked about. And by extension it is true of some current political candidates now running for President too, to repetitiously display their image is to invite boredom, the kiss of death in television, and yet it is done over and over again, with the mention of a name, the viewer will be subjected to up to five to ten images of that person.

Recently a story broke that required broadcast news writer’s do something they rarely are forced to do, in absence of a creditable image, write a truly descriptive script. For the fourth time in recent memory the death of Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, was reported to have died, with no image to display, writing had to take center stage. Television is a media of images, but take note, the description painted by the written word once planted in the imagination will last much longer than any visional image ever will…the French have a word for it ‘maquillage’, face paint…



In The 1950’s

It is not unusual to hear old timer’s talk of the innocents of 1950’s The Bronx. Where tenement apartments are locked only at night to enable the building’s kids to freely enter apartments during the day without as much as a knock. Front doors can be left wide open to enable the even flow of fresh air on warm days, sleeping on fire escapes and roofs on hot summer knights was normal. Even in southern states toys did not wear out or brake but rust out after being left out in the yard overnight. If a kid did anything wrong during the day there was a good chance parents knew about it by night fall and if by chance a girl went missing for a few months it was probably   because she had gotten pregnant, oh the shame of it all. As if by magic there were the seasons, spinning tops, marbles, peashooters and roller skates. The kids that got skates for Christmas by Spring it was time to use them to make a scooter, the front and back end of the skate attached to a two by four with a wooden milk crate (bottle crate) on top decorated with bottle caps. The first skateboards got their start from such homemade scooters without the crates. If only they knew what they were inventing with a proper patent a fortune could have been made.

Then just as suddenly as the 1950’s came to a close, as if a bright light had been extinguished a dark age befell many on the once close-knit neighborhoods of The Bronx, a sudden widespread occurrence that resembled an epidemical disease… addictive drugs. Apartment doors locked both day and knight, peep holes drilled in doors, iron gates placed on fire escapes, trust that was once placed on thy neighbor ended in mistrust and suspicion without proof or the slightest evidence of thievery.

Then in the 1960’s came free love and an illicit organic compound, LSD, long haired hippies who rejected established society were everywhere and a new innocents began….

‘The Looks’

There is an excellent non-profit organization, iCivics.org, which is striving to train the next generation of voters, by game play, however hard they try they will almost always come up short.

In the 1972 movie The Candidate, a utopian visionary is approached by a political strategist to run for public office, sound familiar, not yet, just you wait. The visionary is convinced by both the strategist and his wife that he has ‘the looks’. In my view, never mind on what side of the issues he cares about or is able to convince others that he cares about. The one thing that is most important in most cases the candidate must have, ‘the looks’. Do the two women now running for President have, ‘the looks’? Being women if they don’t have ‘the looks’, they can either buy it or develop it, or at days end hope to find it in a bottle not yet on the market? Hair dye will only get you so far, pounds of make-up may have to do the rest.

In our hunger to elect the first women President I was hoping in my life time for someone to present herself as a women of a certain age, gray hair and all with issues that one can ‘believe in’…

‘same ol same ol’

Every Presidential season it seems the people are told to hold open their mouth wide to take in and swallow whatever candidate(s) is put before them. This season party leaders have suggested, a son, brother and even a wife of a former President. Then on Election Day they enter the voting place hold their nose and vote/pick from a long list of undesirable candidates for President. Well not this year or so it seems, the people are taking their revenge by elevating in informal polls candidates outside of the norm, candidates that speak to their needs and wants and not what party leaders think they should want and need in their choice of an ideal candidate. The people are not interested who is next in a long line of party has-beens and favorites. Both major political parties are guilty of faulty governance, a candidate that will not engage deeply into those short comings (that they all share in), and so much the better. There is an idiom, ‘same ol same ol’. Why not try something different? I think we will…

Shopping For News

Shopping for a news station or program, after settling on one, if boredom sets in even for a minute there is a good chance of not returning. And yet some of my favorite news outlets on occasion bore even me. How do they do it you ask? Knowing that in the case of cable news they have a little less than an hour to fill, make that kill. To start by what is called ‘stretch’ or stretching, meaning make a short story long with the chance of boring the viewer. To guard against that or so they think, will entertain the viewer with the repetition of an image or clip five or six times. You ask yourself, didn’t they just play that clip at the top of the story, yes, and even during the panel discussion too, yes. Why? ‘Stretching’. Yesterday, a news program took fifteen minutes to tell a story that I could have told in five, without the boring repetition of clips or the same story with a slightly different twist.

One last thought, I vote to kill the use of the split screen (unless) which only should be used when the reporter starts a report with, ‘As you can see’…Technology is altering the news business with advanced sophisticated devices, a reporter can seem to be delivering a report from a scene when actually it’s from a hotel room…Technology is altering the news business, sometimes not for the best…

A Bachelor President?

James Buchanan the only lifelong bachelor ever elected to the American Presidency, some historians has ranked as one the worst, not because of his bachelorhood but because of his failure to take a firm stand on the issue of slavery pro or con that some thought might have averted the Civil War.

The thought of a bachelor President is in the news because one is running in the Republican Party. Before I sit down to write a post, I spend hours, days pondering a subject in my mind. The Presidency most assuredly call for a lot of pondering. While sitting in the oval office, the phone rings, ‘don’t forget we are having dinner with the Jones tonight and the children would like for you to come upstairs early to help with home work’. Whatever international issue was being considered must now take a back seat to a domestic one.

Everyone it is assumed, like to think has full control over their thoughts 24/7 not true. If while performing some menial task, find your mind wandering back to a long ago incident in college then you know what I mean. We question every decision ever made long after the ability to alter or consider its merits have passed.

As President the mountain of decisions made daily that affect the lives of millions are just as haunting as those made in one’s personal life, the mind plays no favorites…