Friday, July 3, 2009


Pundits and Commentators Missed The Point


( July 3, Wasilla, Alaska) Clearly the woman was tired, worn down by her baptism by fire onto the national political stage. Her ascendancy, apogee and ultimate waning was as rapid an arc and decline as has ever been seen in the American political realm. It took a toll on this 45 year old, mother of five and, for some reasons, the chattering class cannot and will not accept her words as honest.

Unfortunately, the majority of American’s receive the “news” not as unbiased, objective reporting but rather through the ideological prism of each media outlet. Pundits and other asinine talking heads declare their opinions on each and every move and word of a politician , for some odd reason, it is their interpretations and pronouncement that become fact for the rest of the public. The examples of this dangerous phenomenon are many; the toll they have taken on our public discourse and governance has been disastrous. Responsibility seems to be divorced from the newsertainment world which was once, what we knew as the “Fourth Estate”, the media outlets that served an important, if not profound roll, in our democracy. Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press were forever codified in our Constitution but, over the years, the media insinuated themselves into the headlines and story lines forever forfeiting objectivism for crass popularity.

Moments ago one of the most dynamic political personalities in years announced her resignation from office and wish to return to private life. Sarah Palin, the media star and target, first term Governor of Alaska and former Vice Presidential Candidate in 2008, stood before the assembled press and informed them of her impending retirement from politics.

Then, the trouble began.

The words of her speech were still reverberating off the lake she stood in front of when the critics opened fire. The talking heads and cables TV newsertainment blowhards criticized Governor Palin not only for resigning with 16 months remaining in her term but for what they called “a rambling, sometimes incoherent speech.” This response from the media seemed to become the truth cemented in the public’s mind by the time the Saturday newspapers hit the stands.

Let’s concede that her impromptu resignation speech was not grand political oratory, it was not a finely crafted document calling upon the host of rhetorical clichés’ and the regular tired bullshit hyperbole that seem to be essential to a political speech.

Right or wrong, due to her circumstances beyond her control and her suddenly being pushed from obscurity to the national public stage, thrust into the last months of a historic Presidential Election, she was as much a victim of the press as she was victim of her own shortcomings. Still, few politicians could have thrived in the environment, the incredible scrutiny, attention, and interest that Palin was bombarded by from her introduction as John McCain’s running mate.

It was obvious very early on that she was grossly unprepared to ever be our Vice President. But, to her credit, she campaigned often and hard perhaps recognizing on some deep visceral level that she was not going to be the Vice President because John McCain was going to get his fossilized kicked mightily by Barak Obama.

The future will produce a wide array of magazine articles, essays, scholarly works, books, cable TV specials and every other form of media today all attempting to understand Sarah Palin: he life, her politics, her decisions, ethics, accomplishments as Governor and of course her role in the GOP ass whupping of 2008. That is normal and how it should be.

For now, maybe, we just witnessed a nervous woman facing an always hostile press with some heartfelt reasons for her seemingly abrupt resignation. Everything from ongoing FBI ethics scandal rumors as well as a host of other sordid and tawdry gossip has been given weight in her decision. All of any of it may or may not be valid bit, for now, all we have are her words.

So what if they were clumsy, awkward and disjointed. Who cares that her delivery was not polished. Who can imagine the pressures she has lived with over the past 10 months and not understand her desire to have more normalcy, to fade off the stage for the time being.

Sarah Palin will have a future in public life, most likely not in elective politics, but a public role in the discourse regarding a handful of core GOP issues. She can do what she wants; anything from hosting a TV program, writing a book or becoming a spokesperson for causes she has aligned herself with. That is her business and she and her family should be allowed to return to some semblance of privacy and normality.

Maybe she will just be a footnote in history, a continuing target of contempt by pundits and bloviators of all persuasion. Comedians will continue to get some mileage out of her many awkward interview moments and the wealth of oddball remarks she has made publicly. So what.

Perhaps she has decided that she has had enough of national politics and has absolutely no intention of ever running for any Office again, let alone The Presidency. She got a good taste in a brief time of the game that steamrollers veterans and novices alike.

Good for you Sarah.

Take some time to decompress and spend time away from the harsh reality of such a high profile public existence.

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Thursday, July 2, 2009



(July 2, Valhalla, NY) The Forensic Pathologist is armed with many tools; some highly sophisticated, new generation technology, others, age old tried and true methodology. Pathology, be it Anatomic or Forensic is often a shade more art than science. The Pathologist either during the gross examination of the deceased in the morgue at autopsy or peering into the fine lenses of a high powered microscope probing slides of tissue samples, hours or days later, at times, must make a call based on interpretation. Clearly, there are times the gross examination and subsequent morphology reveal a clear answer to the questions associated with a particular death. At other times, though, answers to profound questions require hour upon hour of arduous concentration; careful analysis of toxicology and other lab tests, painstaking review of all the accumulated evidence, and the Pathologists’ ability to connect the gross, physical and microscopic dots.

Evidence, be it the actual corpse or fiber and trace elements can quickly make or break a case. There is no room for compromise in a homicide investigation; no margin for error when investigating any death that meets the criteria for a Medical Examiners review. Any unattended death, any suicide, death by accident or unnatural causes will trigger a Medical Examiner’s intervention. All unexpected, sudden death, even an obvious suicide is automatically handed over to Homicide and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for that particular jurisdiction. Often death is not what it appears to be.

Despite their long history and the relatively high volume of unnatural deaths they process annually, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the Los Angeles Coroner’s Office, seem not to have yet mastered the most elementary aspects of crime scene securement and investigation. Their blunders, missteps and sheer ineptitude have been as famous as the roster of the deceased whose ultimate fate in the judicial system was fumbled. The Forensic Pathologist and Homicide Investigators are in the sacred and unique position to speak for the deceased when the death was a matter of criminality. or even the suspicion of wrong doing. To mishandle a homicide case in any form or fashion that seriously jeopardizes the Prosecutor’s, the District Attorney’s (DA) ability to obtain righteous justice is a severe breach of the public trust and the primary duties of their Offices.

Time and time again we have seen how the gross negligence of the LAPD and “The Coroner”, has allowed the guilty to go free or the mysteries of a particular death to remain forever obscure and uncertain.

Now, it’s the cause and circumstances of the death of Michael Jackson that may be forever ambiguous due to the inability of the LAPD Homicide Unit to perform their duties properly. When will they learn? How many times must they be subjected to rightful public scorn and ridicule because of their clumsy, careless, stupidity?

The OJ Simpson murder trial has forever cemented in the public conscience the gross fallibility of the LAPD and those members entrusted with over seeing a murder investigation; actually a double murder. Nicole Brown Simpson and her acquaintance, Ronald Goldman were brutally massacred in the alleyway around Ms. Simpson’s home. The crime scene was, by all accounts, as bloody and gruesome as most cops had ever seen. Perhaps it was the shock value of the scene or just plain old incompetence but, months later, the certain killer, OJ Simpson was acquitted based largely on the sloppy and amateurish handling of the crime scene by LAPD. They were exposed to the world as a bunch of bungling, fumbling, idiotic fools. Their collective clumsiness allowed a guilty man to walk away from a double homicide charge of which there was little doubt he was in fact guilty.

Their latest series of blunders occurred at the home where Michael Jackson allegedly died or was at least in fatal distress before his death. That home, the entire property should have been immediately sealed and preserved as a crime scene. The fact that Jackson associates were able to enter and exit the property, the home and rooms within for two days after his death is beyond comprehension. The absolute need to preserve a crime scent, to maintain the security of evidence and strictly control access are fundamentals that cannot be compromised for any reason. Who knows what evidence may or may not have been tampered with or even removed and destroyed during that two day interval?

Perhaps the virtually immediate pronouncement from the LA Coroner’s Office that ‘there were no signs of foul play” set the stage for LAPD to not treat that scene as a true crime scene. In any event, simply given the high profile of the deceased and the certain media circus, legal battles and other complicating factors, one would think that all law enforcement agencies involved would have been ultra vigilant in the execution of all facets of their duties. Why leave any doubt on their end, should have been their rallying cry. From the top down every MOS should have been reminded of the importance of what they do and how this case will most definitely bring with it a level of scrutiny, analysis and publicity of unprecedented proportions.

If the LAPD and LA Coroner are this sloppy and unprofessional in their job performance processing the death of a world wide celebrity, how sloppy must they be with the unremarkable deaths that they encounter on a daily basis?


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the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuits, etc.

Popular Culture:
contemporary lifestyle and items that are well known and generally accepted, cultural patterns that are widespread within a population; also called pop culture


(July 2, McPherson, KS) This dusty, windswept town is as close to the actual geographical middle of America as one can get. This is middle America on the map and, by some sociologists and demographers opinions, a fair representation of the much revered “Middle America Values.” Pollsters of every stripe love a location and population such is found here; it all seems to fit some ideal version of the United States; our lives, people, ethics, mores and, yes, our culture.

If a stranger from say, New York City, were to come to live here, they’d soon find out there are vast differences regionally in what the collective “we” consider culture. Yes, the various mass media platforms expose the folks here to all the same movies, music, entertainment and the like, as much as everywhere else. Young people in particular are more apt to adopt styles and attitudes promoted in the media than are older people - adults - those who have lived through the turbulence of their own youth and whatever was considered “pop culture” then.

We ought to be careful, selective, actually, in what we allow to be regarding in our society as cultural. The definitions provided above (courtesy of Random House Dictionary @ are concise and detailed. Accordingly, for an individual to have “cultural significance” they must make a profound contribution to our society that, in some way, enhances our collective lives. Sadly, we really do not celebrate culture here in America. No. We celebrate celebrity in ever increasing phases that are, fundamentally, contributing to the erosion of any real “culture.”

We have had schisms and upheavals before but, we also had eras of true appreciation for the achievements of men and women who in real terms made strides in their given endeavors that made us all a better people, a better Country. Fortunately, our history is richly populated by men and women who most certainly contributed greatly to our culture. Some of these individuals have made such profound advances in their specific realm that all of our lives will never be the same.

The recently deceased Michael Jackson was definitely not among them.

It is in many ways large and small a sad testament to our society that this man is being hailed as a “cultural figure.” Sure, he was a gifted, talented recording artist and performer but nothing he produced will stand the test of time and the rigors of the definition of a “Cultural Contribution.” Arguably, Jackson, does not even meet the criteria as an icon in “Pop Culture.” Simply being “famous”, a “celebrity”, does not translate into cultural significance. Appearing on the cover of cheap, sordid tabloids for decades is also not a good place from which to make your case as a contributor to our culture.

He perhaps could have been considered as an entrant into the Pantheon of American Cultural Contributors but, as the self proclaimed “King of Pop” and a highly eccentric, perhaps psychopathologically damaged man, he will forever be remembered as something of a “freak”; a child prodigy who vaulted to solo success as a recording artist, made and squandered several fortunes and appeared to exist in a cocoon of illusion and childishness at best; predatory pedophiliac, neurosis, psychosis and criminality at worst. The fact that he gained worldwide fame as a performer is more a matter of musical trends, the convergence of entertainment, technology and marketing.


Alex Haley, one of the most gifted American writers of his generation died on the same date in 1995 that the Brooklyn bred thug, former Heavyweight Champion of the World, Mike Tyson, was sentenced to five years in an Indiana prison for rape. The Alex Haley bio and obit was buried in most major papers way in the back while the scum bag, Tyson, was front page news. Who contributed more to our culture - the author of the groundbreaking novel “Roots”, or an illiterate brute who raped a young woman in Indianapolis?

And therein lies our dilemma.

We have come to mistake celebrity media notoriety, entertainment value and infamy for fame with cultural / societal value. We elevate jocks and shlocks to lofty positions in society and fail to recognize those who labor in the shadows but forever alter our lives and, in some cases, history. Why? Why do we actually celebrate stupidity? Why does a movie entitled “Dumb and Dumber” rake in millions at the box office? Why does course, crude, juvenile bathroom humor dominate morning radio while most people make fun at NPR for being “serious” or, God forbid, “Liberal”? These are the questions we must ask ourselves particularly at this time of profound challenges to our way of life. We are jeopardizing our role of the lone Super Power once we allow intellect, education and seriousness to be ridiculed, scorned and discouraged.


News and entertainment became mutant bedfellows in the 1980’s; a decade that produced the initial wave of pseudo-celebrities designated as cultural forces. The beginning of the end may have been the election of a dimwitted, former radio announcer and B-list actor, Ronald Reagan to the Office of the President of the United States. If this garbonzo could serve as our chief executive, the lines between real and unreal had most decidedly been breached. It was all downhill from there.


Apparently the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons of the world have failed to notice that the White House is now inhabited by an African-American President. Does President Obama represent the end to the centuries old racial divides in this country? Of course not. However, he is living proof that in so many, many ways we, as a Nation, have moved beyond some of the most destructive influences in our interracial relations.

Why are the professional negroes coming out of the woodwork to stand besides Michael Jackson’s obviously illiterate father? Why do Jesse and Al insist on hauling the issue of race into the public spectacle that has become Wacko Jacko’s death? It is people like these who are the cultural vultures always poised on the tired wooden fence that encompasses our society, forever eager to pounce and insert race as an issue in any event, good, bad, or otherwise.

Michael Jackson appears to have spent his adult life and a small fortune on plastic and cosmetic surgical procedures to distance himself physically from his racial heritage. Why? Just another of his myriad of quirks? Perhaps. Probably no one will ever be able to definitively state why MJ bleached himself into an unnatural color. Why he subjected himself to so many cosmetic procedures that he bore scant resemblance to his childhood photos at the time of his mysterious death?

Then, of course there is the “chicken or the egg’ question. Did MTV make Michael Jackson a superstar or did Michael Jackson make MTV an overwhelming phenomena in the entertainment industry? Who knows? Who cares? Such questions fall into that gray area dividing true cultural importance from brief cultural fad.

If there is any true sorrow in this event aside from the passing of a 50 year old life, it is the fact that the parasites and vultures who exploited this man in life are determined to do so, and then some, in the wake of his death. For some base reason users and abusers cling to talented, successful people like a leach to a bare back. They suck the money away, live vicariously through the character they are attached to and, when the gravy train comes to a grinding, smoking halt, they all bail out or fight to retrieve what they feel they deserve. There is no sympathy or honor among thieves and, make no mistake about it, virtually everyone associated or considered in the “closest circle” of Michael Jackson’s staff and advisors, confidantes’, gofers, flunkies, body guards or medical staff had any vested interest in his best interests. But, that was entirely his fault. May he find a peace in death that so obvioulsy eluded him in life. Now let this whole story disappear from the daily media.


Dr. Charles Drew was an African-American physician who made remarkable breakthroughs in the area of blood transfusion, plasma separation and blood products storage in the years between 1930 and his death in 1950.

Dr. Drew died an early death after a motor vehicle accident left him severely injured in the Deep South. He was refused a blood transfusion at a local hospital because he was “black” and could not be given “white” blood.

Charles Drew is a cultural hero of epic proportions yet, how many of us today even know who he was let alone what he contributed to our society, medicine and humanity?

Not many.

Of course, he lived in a time where the pursuit, the endeavor itself was divorced from fame or monetary rewards.

It is sad that people mourn the oddball that was Michael Jackson while a man like Dr. Charles Drew is but a footnote in history.



Think about it.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009



Pabst (top) beats Henry Waxman (bottom)
in World Ugliest Creature Competition


(June 30, The Rest of America) While the majority of the media remains fixated on exploring, examining, analyzing and, ultimately gloriously exploiting the death of an accused pedophile, seems to be fascinated by who actually fathered his children, where his will is or is not, a few other things happened today that have a far greater impact (maybe not) on our lives than the details of a freakish celebrity ever should, or would, if we were not so culturally infantile.

Today was Iraqi Liberation Day or, the milestone date in which Iraqi forces finally assumed responsibility for the security of their major cities. You might remember Iraq? We have had combat troops fighting and dying there since March 2003. As per the arrangement signed by George W. Bush, Dick Cheney’s assistant a year ago, today, American troops withdrew from the cities and front lines to “forward operating bases.” Anyone notice?

Yup, after over six years of a war of choice that has cost trillions in national treasures, thousands of dead US service men and women, hundreds of thousands of their colleagues left maimed, battered, and irreparably damaged, our forces have “stood backhand allowed the American trained Iraqi military take control of their country. Let’s see what happens next.

Oh, for those who were too involved following the ever evolving story of Wacko Jacko’s estate, after 8 months in judicial limbo, the State of Minnesota has a new Senator - Al Franken, a Democrat and former comedian on SNL. This should be good. At least we won’t need to see any more photos of that block-headed, Herman Munster look-a-like, Norm Coleman anymore. What an asshole!

Unemployment remains at near record levels across most of the country, gasoline prices are inching back up, the economy teeters on the edge of semi-solvency and total collapse but, at least, we now know Michael Jackson was gay, sick, drug addicted and not the father of his own “children”. As long as we all have that straight. Whew!

The title of “The World’s Ugliest Dog” was awarded yesterday and, unfortunately, the voting was rigged. California democratic Congressman, Henry “Pignose” Waxman was beat by a boxer-mutt, it was not Nancy Pelosi. It was a canine named Pabst. Sadly, Henry Waxman makes Pabst the mutt look like Sean Connery.

Speaking of rigged voting, Iran is still in an odd state of turmoil. Odd if you are protesting the results of the election - normal if you are a member of the repressive regime determined to quell the “dissidents”.

Let’ see, what else? The gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender community is still pissed off at President Obama because he has not managed in his first 170 days or so in Office to appease their every wish. Fuck them.

The Grand Rabbi of the multi billion dollar Hebrew Ponzi scheme, Bernie Madoff, was sentenced to 150 years in prison. Mrs. Madoff did not take kindly to this sentence. Perhaps some Grand Jury in Manhattan ought to have a little visit with her?

Apparently confessed adultous Republican Governor, Mark Sanford of South Carolina felt compelled to tell us all that his Argentinian affair was not his only marital misconduct in the recent past. He admitted to “crossing lines” with “other women”. This from one of the most vocal and sanctimonious of Bill Clinton’s 1997 condemners. The official countdown for how long this holier-than-thou nutcase will remain in the Governor’s mansion has begun. He might not make it to The Fourth of July at this rate.

Another sarah Palin expose’ hit the stands with an article in the magazine Vanity Fair virtually skewering her, and everything about her short lived run for Vice President. She is the gift that keeps on giving although, to be fair, her family has taken far more crap from the media than is acceptable, except, she dragged them out onto the national stage along with her and, all is fair in love, war and politics.

As a public service TBC may provide other brief updates such as this during what will no doubt be a long, protracted period of voyerism and media hype while the Michael Jackson saga plays out for an indefinite length of time. Frankly, too much time has already been devoted to this tawdry, trivial story but, that won’t stop the cable TV newsertainment machine and the rest of the Hollywood media from grinding out blanket, 24 - 7 coverage.

Oh, by the way, the State of California is going broke, Billy Mays the ad guy died, there was a military coup in Honduras and Congress is waiting for their much needed July recess before returning to Washington and continuing their reign of apathetic legislation.

President Obama will vacation on Martha’s Vineyard.


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Monday, June 29, 2009



Rev. Jesse Jackson (R) with Joe Jackson (Far L).
Unidentified posse member (Middle)


(June 29, Encino, CA) This will be an event, or rather, a long, inane, series of events marking the death of a person who is no easier to honor (or define) in death than he was in life. But, will they ever make a go at it!

Michael Jackson was many personas for many people, an ever changing character who became a living caricature as he sought to define himself in every sense possible. He apparent need to live as a chameleon took him around the world as a celebrity, to numerous cosmetic surgeries to acquire tangible, physical change, through a musical career spanning decades with those very same years either celebrated or severely tarnished by his own behavior, life style and aura of there is “something-is-just-not-right” with this man.

If he sought to employ mystery, to enshroud himself in a place mentally, emotionally and culturally, all his own, he was a spectacular success. If he thought his antics from the most trivial and petty to the most incomprehensible and bizarre , would gain him the status of being supremely “unique”, in that regard too, he succeeded. But, no matter, the years of public psychoanalysis will most certainly continue. As time passes that exercise may become the least important given the wealth of vexing issues that have enveloped this man, usually by his own design, since his, arguably, greatest artistic achievements in 1984. Nothing was ever or could ever be different for him after that.

How many story lines can be extracted from the death of this man? There are literally dozens.

There is the child, the Motown darling fronting the Jackson 5. The sordid underbelly to that phase of his life was the overbearing, brutish, barely literate father who saw his sons and, particularly Michael, as his cash cow. He’d ride him as far as he could and then some. If almighty greed pushed Joe Jackson to abuse his youngest son, the fact that the fame and fortune showered upon them all made it worth it, right? One widely purported tale was that the “adult” Michael went far off the deep end trying to capture a childhood he was allegedly robbed of. Yeah, that argument takes the sane only so far.

We readily permit our “celebrities" their eccentricities; it seems part and parcel for the lives they appear to live. We do not expect them to abide by the same mundane, everyday rules that we must. They are , after all, “different”. And we seem willing to concede that difference as a sort of ‘carte blanche’ : when you are rich and famous the need to conform or recognize the commonly accepted rules of society, seems small-minded. “Our” rules, mores, codes of conduct and ethics are rendered blasé’ in the shadow of celebrity.

From sequin glittering tuxedos, matching socks and a single, signature glove, to bearing an uncanny resemblance to Diana Ross after so many plastic surgeries, the character became more and more ludicrous. During this phase he became a celebrity among celebrities for no other reason than his eccentricities. With his talent well established it appeared as if Michael Jackson finally found the freedom to be as insane as he cared to be.

Then came the odd couplings, marriages to Brooke Shields and Lisa Marie Presley. He seemed to want to put increasing distance between his race and his reality; he had children by suspicious circumstances as his own sexuality, if not sanity, came into question.

Then came the charges, criminal allegations about child molestation, pedophilia and inappropriate contact with children who had become his only companions. He bought a lavish, sprawling ranch that became some neurotic incarnation of a perpetual playground where reality was suspended for this man-child’s own delight.

The court appearances, depositions, attorney’s wrangling and this man’s talent was overshadowed by a cloud of rumor, innuendo and a good deal of smoke most likely emanating from fires. Michael Jackson had become a joke; a late night comic ridicule who failed to realize his own demise.

Now, in death, he is being portrayed in a manner that defies - actually denies - the sad and harsh, perverted realities that had become his existence.

The theories and rationales are now irrelevant. The excuses and justifications more hollow today in his wake than they were in his bizarre, other-worldly presence.

The larger question is not what does this freaks death mean but rather what does it say about us as a culture that we turned eyes askance with each increasing sign of psychopathology?

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