Archive for July, 2010

Greetings from South Beach

Garciamedialife is taking its first vacation since its inception last November.  Just one little week disconnected from Blackberries, Facebook, Twitter, all social media and the World Wide Web. 

In its place, Garciamedialife is connecting with the white sand and turqouis water of Miami Beach, the alligators and pelicans of the everglades, a show-off parrott at a lovely boutique hotel on Collins Avenue, who as we speak, is hanging upside down for tourist cameras in the central courtyard and a whole bunch of Miami Vices;  the pina colada-type beverage here that tastes like liquid lollipops but leaves you passed out in your air- conditioned hotel room until your next bout with the sun.

And I might add…it is ten degrees cooler here than when I left Washington over the weekend.  Who knew you’d have to go to friggin’ Miami to cool off?

The Political Dog Days of Summer

Wow.  I haven’t watched MSNBC or FOX or CNN for awhile and I haven’t really visited the Andrew Sullivan or Real Politics web sites much since the last election so I was stunned to see the swill that passes for political discourse here in the large news void that is July and August.

So conservative activist Andrew Breitbart posts an edited video tape of a black Agriculture department official saying something allegedly racist about a white farmer who then goes on CNN to say that, actually, she saved his farm and she’s really great and then the whole video tape gets released and the same Obama administration that fired her last week now wants to rehire her because it turns out her remarks were taken out of context and meanwhile conservative icon Glen Beck sides with the allegedly reverse-racist USDA official and comes down on the White House for firing her in the first place, while the NAACP, which called for her resignation a few days ago, now also wants her back.

Did you follow that?

And then there’s the Journolist flap in which it appears left-wing journalists using an e-mail listserv conspired to alter news coverage and counter conservative attacks based on race during the Presidential election cycle and some of the reporters involved in the effort get fired and then all the e-mails come out and it turns out most of the journalists on the listserv didn’t even participate in the discussions but independent-thinking blogger Andrew Sullivan joins forces with Sarah Palin to denounce the apparent liberal conspiracy.

Did you get that?

Meantime, everybody’s favorite affable broadcast news Uncle, Bob Schieffer, gets blasted by Fox News’ Megyn Kelly for failing to ask the Attorney General of the United States on CBS’ Face the Nation why the Justice department dropped a case of alleged voter intimidation against the New Black Panthers that was apparently a huge story on Fox and poor Bob Scheiffer goes on CNN to say he would have asked about it except he was on vacation the week before and hadn’t even heard of this latest political brushfire which the Fox News lady says he purposely ignored because either he didn’t think the story was important or Eric Holder demanded he not be asked about it.

Did you follow that?

And a major Tea Party organizer gets disowned by fellow Tea Partiers for blogging an offensive post he claims was just a joke in which he allegedly “satirically” recreated a conversation between a black person and Abraham Lincoln saying they want to be slaves again because they’re not up to being responsible American citizens and all this comes the day after the NAACP criticized racist elements of the Tea Party which the fired USDA lady says is the real reason why they called for her resignation in the first place to sort of even things up and show they’re fair and balanced.

Did you catch all that?

Excuse me, but I’m going back to watching baseball and America’s Funniest Videos because I’m having trouble understanding the nuances of the new American political landscape.  I get the distinct sense people are really angry about one thing or another and they’re all giving me a royal headache.

Notes on Grocery Delivery Services

July 20, 2010 1 comment

I am particularly amused by the replacement products they give you when they’ve run out of stuff you’ve ordered.  Who makes these decisions?  Who has that job?  And how could they be so clueless?

I got used to grocery store delivery services in New York where they have Fresh Direct- an extremely competent and useful service, especially living on an island where a lot of people don’t have cars.  Here in our nation’s capital we have Pea Pod and Safeway’s delivery service.  It was my misfortune to choose Safeway.

Besides the fact their web site was messed up and they failed to deliver at all for two days running, my order finally arrived tonight.  They hand you this piece of paper that tells you what you ordered and you really don’t have time to peruse it closely while the delivery man unloads the goods.  It’s after they leave that you get your surprises.

Let me see, I ordered McCormick plastic salt and pepper shakers (hey- I live alone – don’t laugh).  Oops, they didn’t have them. But they did give me a nice container of McCormick Lemon Pepper with garlic and onion.  WTF?  Really, I just wanted some friggin’ salt in a receptacle through which I could lightly sprinkle my food.  I do not need pepper.  I do not need garlic.  I do not need onion.

I ordered a bottle of combination shampoo/conditioner.  Oops, they didn’t have it.  So, instead I now have a lovely bottle of Pantene nature fusion moisture balance conditioner.  Have you ever accidentally washed your hair with just conditioner?  You get very shiny and silky- dirty hair.  Really, I just wanted a friggin’ bottle of shampoo.

So I imagine there’s this Safeway employee somewhere named Clyde.  It’s his job to replace products people have ordered that Safeway doesn’t have.  Clyde isn’t the sharpest nail in the tool box or I suppose he wouldn’t be working for Safeway replacing products people have ordered that Safeway doesn’t have.

“Hmmm, let me see here.  The guy ordered salt and pepper.  I think I’ll give him the one condiment people use in most abundance; lemon pepper with garlic and onion.  Hmm, let me see, the guy ordered combination Shampoo/Conditioner.  Hey, the odds are 50/50.  We’ll give the dude lots of conditioner.”   You could go on with this.  “Hmmm, the guy ordered hot dogs.  Let’s give him—a screwdriver.”  “Hmmm, the guy ordered frozen pizza.  Let’s give him—ice cream sandwiches!”

Better still, why don’t they wrap replacement items in little boxes with great big question marks on them?

I’m off to the drug store to buy a bottle of shampoo and probably Bed, Bath and Beyond for a friggin’ salt shaker.

Screw you, Clyde.

Sweet Flashbacks

(Tom Ballew, Cal Everett, Jeff Severson, George Pittaway)

Visited the glorious past over the weekend as rock band, 4 Out of 5 Doctors, played an intimate venue in Vienna, Virginia to a collection of about 200 of us who grew up together back in the 80’s forming a piece of the fabric of the Washington DC area a quarter century ago.

An occasionally drunken and, uh, free-flowing fabric. Hey, we were young. I admit this because I have pretty much ruled out any future in public office. But I digress.

4 Out of 5 Doctors, if you don’t know them, had a record deal with Nemperor  back in the early 80’s (with singles on the CBS and Epic labels as well; all confusingly interrelated).   The guys were horribly mismanaged and screwed by the clueless wonders of the record industry at the time and Nemperor failed to pick up their option.

Anyway, these are all friends of mine and for the first time in the history of this blog, I am consciously shilling product. They have a new CD called Post-Op, culled from songs from the 3rd album-that-never-was, demos from the 1st-two-that-were and new material. There’s also a new CD set of their original albums. As the Washington Post noted in a review of one of their reunion concerts a couple of years ago, their music wears very well.

I was laughing as I was thinking how to describe what the Doctors sound like (for the sake of those not indoctrinated). It’s a rather varied list. For me they’re a mix of The Talking Heads, The Cars and Steely Dan with a hint of Beatles and if you do enough mushrooms, probably a little Electric Light Orchestra: the latter two due to their layered ooh-and-ah harmonies and catchy melodies. Add clever, pithy, occasionally twisted lyrics and- what’s not to love? I mean, really: “Had a fight with my car and my girlfriend broke down.” Has a certain perverse ring to it, no? The term “Power Pop” is thrown around to describe the Doctors but they’re deeper than that.

And Opus Ten should have gone down as one of the best rock songs ever. Well, it is; it’s just that a lot of people don’t know about it. There’s a very good article on the Doctors and their sordid history with the music industry here (despite universally rave reviews from critics).

Anyway, as for the tenor of the reunion-ish evening, it was rather amusing to see how old we’re all getting. Another decade and we’ll be showing up in wheelchairs and Depends.

But there remain signs of life. For both the Doctors and their minions. We are clearly not going down without a fight.

Go here to buy their stuff. Go here for the 4 Out of 5 Doctors website.

Fake Nuns, Fake Beatles and Fake Money

July 15, 2010 1 comment

Thought I would share a few eye-catching headlines on this hot July day. As my own headline above indicates, there seems to be a theme developing here:

How low can she go? Lindsay Lohan is a gun-licking nun in shocking poster for new movie. Alright, Lindsay! Let me help perpetuate this bad girl image; here’s the poster:

Picture by Splash News

Reminds me of my 4th grade nuns at St. Thomas Moore in Oxon Hill, Maryland in the late 60s. Only they were actually knife-wielding nuns. What happened to this kind of nun?

Fab Four Sue Fab 4

Yes, a Beatles tribute band is suing another Beatle’s tribute band claiming it is the only legitimate fake Beatles group. The lawsuit, filed in Las Vegas (a perfect venue for this), actually alleges that the Fab 4 is “essentially identical in sound and appearance” as the Fab Four. Or as the Las Vegas Sun newspaper puts it:

In other words, The Fab Four doesn’t want The Fab 4 cashing in on The Fab Four’s cashing in on the Beatles.

Here’s what the Fab Four look like in completely original costumes they came up with themselves.

Man Posts Bail with Counterfeit bills

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, it’s not just that 35-year-old Ronald White had the audacity to post phony money on shop lifting charges- the fakes were laughably fake. Like, printed off a color copier-fake.

Detective Sgt. William K. Covert.:

They’re pretty poor. I didn’t have to touch them and I knew they were bad,” said Detective Sgt. William K. Covert. They were almost as obvious as the copies of $1 bills he’s seen created by students trying to fool soda machines. The paper didn’t feel right. It lacked the colored threads. And Andrew Jackson’s face was kind of fuzzy.

You’d a thought Al Pacino’s face might have been the tip-off:

Steinbrenner Joins Sheppard

July 13, 2010 1 comment

The Boss is dead.

George Steinbrenner, controversial, outspoken, occasionally ethically-challenged, but inarguably, one of the most successful owners in the history of sports has passed away on All-Star day. For the record, his legacy includes 11 American League pennants and 7 World Series championships.

From the family’s statement:

He was a visionary and a giant in the world of sports. He took a great but struggling franchise and turned it into a champion again.

That, he did, though, sometimes, I have to say, he was infuriating. His decision to get rid of Reggie Jackson the year after he hit those three legendary World Series homers lost me as a Yankees fan. I’ve never really been loyal to any one baseball team ever since having spread my loyalties around to the Baltimore Orioles, the Atlanta Braves, the Yankees again and now the Washington Nationals.

Goodbye, George. You were hated by most baseball fans across America but mostly because you revived the evil empire and brought the Yankees 7 more rings. More importantly, in the end, you were beloved by New York fans and the Yankees players. I am sure, besides your family, that’s all that ever really mattered.

I heard a great saying the other day. I hope I get to heaven a half hour before the devil knows I’m dead. Not knowing the particulars, I’m just going to assume Bob Sheppard is making a special announcement at the pearly gates any moment now.

Categories: Culture, Sports

Elegance in Simplicity- the Death of Bob Sheppard

(Photo by Bill Kostroun/Associated Press)


It doesn’t sound like too difficult a job being a stadium announcer.  You talk into the public address microphone, proclaim someone is coming up to the plate, say their number, their name and the number once more.   But when you do it for half a century, the venue is Yankee Stadium, and you pull off this simple task with such grace and style- you are Bob Sheppard.

“Mr. Sheppard,” as most ballplayers called him, died Sunday at the age of 99.   He started this job April 17, 1951, announcing, among others, the presence of a rookie taking his place in Centerfield for the first time, a young kid from Oklahoma named Mickey Mantle.  The game against the Red Sox that day included both Dimaggio brothers, Dom for Boston and Joe for the Yankees.  And a sharp-eyed left fielder, the greatest pure hitter of all time, Ted Williams.

There was nothing modern, showy or overtly spectacular in the way Bob Sheppard did his job.  He had a deep voice that delivered words in a deliberate cadence with perfect articulation and diction.

More importantly, it mattered not whether you were in the Yankee pinstripes or in the uniform of the visiting team, when it was your turn to bat and Mr. Sheppard announced your name, it was your moment in the big leagues- the confirmation that the voice you heard as a kid decades before was now validating your sweat and toil in all those creaky, dusty minor league ballparks and confirming your presence in “the Show.”   Mickey Mantle said he always got goose bumps when he heard Sheppard announce him.  And when Mantle told him this one day, Sheppard is reported to have responded back, “Mickey, so did I.”

It was Reggie Jackson who anointed Bob Sheppard the “Voice of God.”   But it was God, in fact, who often heard the voice of Bob Sheppard.  From a wonderful article by Ronald Blum of the Associated Press:

He often read at Mass, and was subsequently greeted by parishioners noting he sounded exactly like the announcer at Yankee Stadium.

“I am,” he would reply.


Sheppard, while proud of his work with the Yankees, also was known for his speaking as a church lector. He taught priests how to give sermons.

“I electrified the seminary by saying seven minutes is long enough on a Sunday morning. Seven minutes. But I don’t think they listened to me,” he told The Associated Press in 2006. “The best-known speech in American history is the Gettysburg Address, and it’s about four minutes long. Isn’t that something?”

Elegance in simplicity.  It’s one of my favorite phrases and reminders in life.  Bob Sheppard epitomizes the notion. 

The AP’s Blum sums it up nicely, and simply:

 Babe Ruth gave Yankee Stadium its nickname, but Sheppard gave the ballpark its voice.

Lebron Bores the Nation

It was the most riveting hour of live national television since Geraldo Rivera breathlessly described the opening of Al Capone’s vault 24 years ago.

Instead of dirt and an empty glass bottle, we got Lebron James talking in the third person about all the talent he brought to Cleveland for 7 years before telling us he was now going to bring all that talent to Miami, where everybody thought he would go in the first place.

It was a stilted and awkward setting at the Boy’s and Girl’s Club of America in Connecticut as he sat down before a silent audience of, uh, boys and girls with Jim Gray (see note below) who tried his best to drag out the painful proceedings by asking literally 18 inane questions before finally getting around to the BIG ONE.

By the end of the show, it was clear Lebron’s ego had left the following in its wake: One very happy American city, five other cities shrugging their shoulders and one really pissed off Cleveland, Ohio where his uniform was burned in effigy and the owner released a statement calling Lebron selfish, heartless, callous and cowardly.

As for the Lebron James brand- I suppose he could have damaged it more by, say, bringing guns into a locker room, but he did not help himself a lot. He had always touted himself as the kind of player that would not thump his chest and taunt opponents after a slam dunk. This was an hour of boring chest-thumping that has won him the enmity of at least six NBA cities where he is sure to be booed and reviled in the coming season.

One thing I think we can breathe easy about is that this strange, uncomfortable, melding of sports, entertainment and news is not likely to be repeated. It was horrendous, anti-climatic television likely to be parodied and mocked for decades to come. I can’t imagine why any major broadcast company would ever want to repeat such a mind-numbingly vapid proceeding.

Note: Labron’s “interviewer” was Jim Gray- not an ESPN employee but a free-lance journalist. CNBC is standing by its story that Gray’s expenses were paid by the entity that was created for last night’s production; in other words by Lebron’s people. ESPN readily admitted Gray was hand-picked by Lebron to conduct the “interview.” They now say they paid for Gray’s expenses. CNBC is not budging from its story. Gray also claims he was the one who came up with the concept of the one-hour special.

Full numbers for the “The Decision” will be out Monday but it appears to have gotten a huge 7.3 overnight rating. Some of the advertisers ESPN allowed the James camp to sign up for the telecast, University of Phoenix, Bing and Vitamanwater, are reportedly turning over $2.5 million from the proceeds of the ads to charity.

Critics are calling this ESPN’s “Deal with the Devil.” The blurring of the lines between an event that was combination news/sports/entertainment makes this made-for-TV saga fodder for an ethical debate that should last years.

More on Jim Gray and who did or did not pay his expenses can be found on MSNBC’s web site.

Labron and ESPN

I seem to be drawn to unseemly spectacles so, yes, I will tune in at 9 pm to watch the Lebron James/ESPN one-hour special on his decision about what city he will choose to go make a zillion dollars with.

Seven years in the NBA and the guy has been to the finals once and never a champion. This looks to me to be the move of a great big ego wrapped in a charity (The Boy’s and Girl’s clubs of America) to escalate the brand of one Lebron James.

And am I being too prissy or traditional or something to be slightly uncomfortable with the relationship here between Lebron and ESPN? I heard this morning on NPR that Lebron has been allowed to choose all but one of the sponsors of the show and also has had a hand in choosing who will interview him following the announcement.

I know this is a sports/entertainment story. But isn’t it also a news story? Aren’t reporters and commentators and hosts at ESPN sort of in the news business?

To be honest, I love ESPN. I love their programming and I like them as a business. They’re cocky and brash and creative and entertaining. If I was in one of their executive suites today as an ESPN employee (and I know more than one of their executives), I’d probably be high-fiving and fist-bumping with the rest of them because it’s a hell of a broadcast coup.

But I don’t work for ESPN and I can see the forest for the trees and the active merging of a media company’s business interests with an athlete’s business interests seems…like uncomfortable new ground.

What happens when an NBA star who has actually won a championship goes on the free agent market- like Kobe Bryant? Will he be able to cut a deal with all the major broadcast networks for a simultaneous announcement not unlike a Presidential news conference? Will ESPN start bidding for the announcement TV rights of other famous free agent athletes?

But even as I watch uncomfortably, I will, nonetheless, still be watching. My guess is that ESPN will welcome my viewership tonight regardless of my ethical sensitivities.

Lindsay Gets 90

Oh Ma Ga. I cannot believe I’m writing about Lindsay Lohan. Then again, it’s not every day a spoiled brat with a gigantic sense of entitlement and self-importance gets their due.

Seven times she failed to show up for an alcohol education class she had been mandated to attend due to not one, but two DUI convictions. The excuses were many. Stolen passport while attending the Cannes Film festival and was stranded in France. Flight problems in North Carolina. The death of an Uncle (she didn’t attend the funeral).

Prosecutors were not amused. As Danette Meyers put it, “Once, maybe, you’d have an excuse. Twice, an oversight. Three times, still haven’t caught her attention. . . . Seven times, the court is irrelevant to her.”

Meyers asked for Ms. Lohan to serve 30 days in the clinker. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Marsha Revel begged to differ. She went for three times that; 90 days in the slammer. Plus another 90 in rehab. So much for the best defense lawyers money can buy.

This is not just about a screwed-up, substance-abusing, egotistical actress. This is about somebody who gets wasted and then thinks it’s cool to drive a 2-ton automobile. On May 26, 2007, Lindsay Lohan drove a Mercedes-Benz into a hedge along Sunset Boulevard. Next time, who knows, maybe it’s a child instead of a hedge.

California defense attorney Mark Geragos says this is a case of a celebrity getting reverse preferential treatment- more time in jail because she’s famous. He argues prison time is not what’s needed here, rehab is.

Ok. She got her 90 days of rehab. The other 90 have nothing to do with her mental health. It’s for ours. Makes us feel like there is a sense of justice out there and no matter how pretty or rich or famous you are- no one is above the law. It goes for Presidents and it goes for actresses too.