Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Demise of Real News

The headline blared at me in shocking 60 point type. “Just undo that uh oh”. What could that mean? I settled into my chair almost afraid to continue. With everything going on in the world it’s becoming difficult to read the news anymore for fear of what’s coming next. Taking deep breaths to slow my heart rate and filled with trepidation, I read the article and found out this:

Google’s gmail has a new feature allowing you to call back an email within 10 seconds of sending it if you decided you made a mistake.

Wow! What a breakthrough. I can fully see why this was the LEAD story on the front page of my local paper. I mean, a marginal new function in one of a zillion email programs will have so much more global impact than the genocide in Darfur, the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, North Korea and Iran still fooling around with fissionable uranium, the collapse of our economy as well as others world wide, the debate on stem cell research, yadda yadda yadda.

I can’t wait until tomorrow’s expose “Why We Fart” and later in the week “Holy Cow! Where Milk Comes From”. I can only hope to be prepared for their tour de force op ed piece “It Isn’t Our Fault We Suck”. And I know someone somewhere is polishing an award for them in anticipation of their 12 part investigative series, “The Subway $5 Footlong: Its History and Effect on Society”.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Alice Cooper Has Lost His Edge

97.3 The River is a local radio station with the tag line “rock without the hard edge”. They started out playing Elton John, Billy Joel, Van Morrison, Carol King and the like. But after they had played those songs to death, buried them, dug them back up, gave them a spit-polish and played them to death again, they started to expand their repertoire. All of the sudden I’m hearing Boston, Aerosmith, Kiss, Kansas, Foghat, etc.

These are the bands I grew up listening to. They were the ones your parents tried to keep you away from so you didn’t do the things they sang about in their songs. They were “the edge”. The genre was referred to as “hard rock” for Pete’s sake. Now, 30 years later, they’ve taken their place alongside England Dan and John Ford Coley on the River’s play list of comfortable, non-threatening music.

This strange transition was hammered home to me a few months ago when listening to another local radio station in the morning and they played a commercial touting themselves as “family friendly”. Their music was safe for everyone: mom, dad, little Johnny, sister Sue, Grandma Bessie, why even Spot and Whiskers could sidle up to the wireless and take a good, safe listen to their selection of pure rock and roll music. The commercial was immediately followed by Alice Cooper’s “I’m Eighteen”.

Alice freakin’ Cooper! He was the hero of an entire generation of counter-culture freaks and even cool as hell to those of us who came along later and liked our rock music nasty and a little creepy. If you liked horror movies and weird imagery Alice was your man. In the 1970s Cooper gave every parent in America the heebie jeebies with his odd makeup, songs about voodoo, dead bodies and ripping the heads off of baby dolls. He had himself guillotined in concert and dancers behind him dressed like a tooth. A tooth! What did that mean? No one knew but it was odd and subversive and we liked it.

Now, three decades later, Alice Cooper is considered family entertainment. He doesn’t scare us anymore and you can probably find him at the local links playing golf alongside your dad.

So, it is with sadness that we say goodbye to Alice Cooper’s fear factor. We bid farewell to the shock and controversy, to the anticipation of his next middle finger to pleasant society. If you listen closely you can still hear the echoes of “No More Mr. Nice Guy”.

Goodnight sweet Alice.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

How I Lost 100,000 Brain Cells in 10 Seconds

In line at the grocery store I’m looking at one of the celebrity magazines, People or Ok or In Touch, whatever. The cover has Jessica Simpson on with the headline: “Jessica Simpson’s How I Lost 10 lbs in 2 Weeks”. This is not a cover story. I’ve lost 10 lbs in 2 weeks. Here’s how: ate a lot less, exercised a lot more. Thank you, good night!

Come on gossip magazines, you can do better. While I’m waiting to pay for my cheese doodles and Armenian pita bread I want to read things like: “Jessica Simpson Explains Why She Epoxied Her Hand to Her Forehead in a Permanent Salute to the Troops” or “Angelina Jolie Injects Whale Blubber into Her lips for that Chic Inuit Look”.

Give me stories like these:

“Britney Spears’ New Song? A Five Minute Loop of Her Saying ‘Y’All’. It’s a Hit!”

“Lindsay Lohan: WTF?”

“Brad Pitt: Does He Really Bathe in the Sweat of Venezuelan Orphans to Stay Young?”

“Without Makeup George Clooney Looks Like Ernest Borgnine: We Have the Proof!”

These are the tales of fame and intrigue America wants and needs. Step it up People, In Touch, Ok, Us and all the rest. Feed the beast.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

We're Still Capitalists Now

A recent Newsweek cover had a blue hand and a red hand shaking with the headline “We’re All Socialists Now”. Someone I work with showed it to me because they found it hilarious. I said what’s going on in the country is not socialism and he disagreed because of the talk of nationalizing some of the banks. The conversation ended there, but I think if we had had the time and the inclination we could have had a pretty good argument. So I’m going to have my side now.

Just a mile from my home is a stretch of road where there are 7 different banks within a quarter mile radius. I could walk into any one of them and be turned down for a loan or have them laugh at me for wanting to open a savings account with my $23.69 in pennies I’ve saved in an old glass jar. And in each circumstance I would be dealing with a private enterprise. At no time would I have any interaction with a government official.

There are hundreds of doctors in my county that I could choose to go to for a checkup, a colonoscopy or a Steve McQueen chin and none of my money would be turned over to a government lackey.

Sorry to break this to you fearmongers and magazines looking to sell a few more copies in a bad economy, but we’re not socialists. America is still a capitalist country, unfortunately we are one that has been run into the ground by unfettered greed and an administration that burned its own eyes out with a red hot poker so they couldn’t see what was going on and only after it was too late tried to have back alley lasik surgery to reverse it and view what they had wrought.

I voted for Obama, not because of his cult of personality which I never bought into, but because McCain had become a caricature of himself and was a rudderless ship. I don’t know if Obama’s economic policies will work, but I have no problem with spreading the wealth around more.

Two things have happened very starkly in this country each year for the past decade: there are more billionaires and more people living below the poverty line. This is not the America I want to live in, where a select few get harvested and the rest of us die on the vine.

All you congressman and senators and pundits who think this is socialism and can’t wait to go on TV and say so, why don’t you instead shut the hell up, go back to your offices and actually do something to help this country. It seems to me that Obama is willing to listen to ideas and you don’t have any.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Good evening and welcome to my 8 week course “How Not to Write a Blog”. I am professor Percy Tim Winkelstein. Of course, that’s just my teaching name. I have others: my New York stage name, Horst von Rootrot, my 50s Italian sexpot actress name, Hollyhobby LoBianco, and my name when bill collector’s call, No Habla Ingles.

Now that that’s out of the way, welcome to Cosmic Overdrive, my first attempt at a blog. As you can already tell I have no plan for where it will go. There is no theme, motif, style or direction. I plan to drift into the void of space and time dragging satellites and discarded shuttle parts behind me.

So, you may ask, why am I writing a blog? Go ahead and ask. I’ll wait.

Thank you, that’s a great question. Well, it’s not because I love blogs because I rarely read them. It’s not because I have to document my every thought or bowel movement for posterity because actually I’m a private person who is uncomfortable revealing personal things. My reason for now is that I am a writer who hasn’t had time to write recently. Working 2 jobs to pay the bills has left me with precious little time. Not writing has depleted my inspiration so I’m hoping this exercise can revive it.

Until next time, I’ll end my introduction with an old poem of mine that I’ve always liked.

Secret History of the World, Fact #12

Original writings
of the masters
stored in
hermetically sealed boxes
and kept
in a warehouse
in New Jersey,
self storage compartment
rented by Lenny M.
who stops by
every Saturday
to read Faulkner
to the rats.

Copyright 2004 Originally published in Wilmington Blues