Jim Walsh's Big Hairy Weblog Thingy

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Bordering On Inanity (sic)

An open letter to my compatriots in "talk" radio...

Ya know how we talk about topics that are bad for spoken-word radio, like gun-control and abortion?

I would propose we add immigration to the list.

I've heard a lot of "talk radio" in the past few years, some good, mostly bad. Nearly every host I hear, local or syndicated, is talking in varying degrees about the "immigration problem," and every host who is talking about it is holding the same opinions on the subject, regurgitating the same talking points and interviewing the same handful of "experts."

It's ugly stuff and it panders to the fringes. More to the point, it makes for excruciatingly dull radio. Yet I'm beginning to wonder if there's a place in the industry for a host who isn't a Lou Dobbs clone on this "issue."

My modest proposal: an indefinite moratorium on the subject (Yeah, like that'll happen)...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Give Us Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses, Yearning To Eat Pizza

Kudos to Pizza Patron.

I’ve never even heard of Pizza Patron until about five minutes ago, but after hearing their story on Nightline, I’m hoping they’ll open a store here where I live so I can go and support them with my hard-earned Yankee dollars.

Hell, next time I’m in Dallas, I’ll go out of my way to give them my business.

(Note to knuckle-dragging, racist, knownothing assholes: the above is not sarcasm...)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Calvert DeForest, R.I.P.

Larry Bud, we hardly knew ye...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Carnac Is Pissed

The other day one of the tabloid shows (the one with the sports guy who spent some time coupla summers ago year in rehab) featured the man I like to call The Second Biggest Douche In The Universe, James van Praagh, sharing the thoughts of Johnny Carson from beyond the grave (It's not the first time he's pulled this crap either).

Let's make one thing clear: Johnny Carson was a sharp, observant guy - and a skeptic who had no use for the van Praaghs of this world. Even if Johnny really could communicate with us from the realm of the dead, I suspect that a scam artist like van Praagh is the last guy he'd want to talk to...

Friday, March 09, 2007

Come Blow Your Horn (not)...

Bismarck, North Dakota, where I currently live, is what you might call a railroad town. The Burlington Northern freight line cuts the city in half and diesel locomotives towing strings of loaded-down coal cars run through the town’s half dozen or so grade crossings several times a day, around the clock.

Now developers (along with some of the city fathers) here in my adopted home town want to enhance the Quality Of Living and bring more tenants and businesses into the downtown area by adopting a “Quiet Rail” plan, whereby “In place of the trains blowing their horns, several supplemental safety measures could be installed to warn pedestrians and vehicles of incoming trains…”

Bad, bad idea. It’s a safety thing; do you really want train engineers to stop blowing their horns near grade crossings? (They tried something similar in Madison, Wisconsin and the reaction of the suits at Conrail was to largely ignore the Quiet Rail ordinance, keep blowing their horns and jus pay the fines. As one Conrail exec said off the record, “No way do I want a fatal accident happening on my watch.”

Can you blame him?

Let the market work. If the developers want to building condos and office buildings near the tracks, chances are they may have to drop the rent a bit below the going rate to get potential tenants and businesses to move in. Nothing wrong with that; it’s how the market works. I’m sure there are folks out there who will gladly pay the lower rent and put up with the trains. Everything in life is a tradeoff, right?

Of course the developers don’t wanna do that – they’d rather have the local government step in and enact pointless, dangerous “Quiet Rail” legislation so they can charge top dollar to folks who wanna live and work there.

Frankly, I don’t see what the problem is living with train horns. If those folks along Third Avenue in New York could get used to the El…

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Penn's Disappearing Act

I’m saddened to report that Penn Jillette has pulled the plug on his daily radio show. Oh well, it’s not like we don’t have plenty of funny, compelling, outside-the-box thinking entertainers on the radio as it is…

(The previous sentence is an example of something called “sarcasm”…)

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Vanity, Thy Name Is Oprah

Vanity is a treacherous thing – especially when cloaked in altruism.

Saturday evening on the Mickey Mouse network the great unwashed was treated to an hour-long love letter from Oprah Winfrey to…well, to Oprah Winfrey.

Let the hype sheet for ABC speak for itself: In a one-hour special, Oprah Winfrey brings to television the incredible five-year journey of the creation the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls -- South Africa. See the touching, inside story of how Oprah turned her dream of opening a school for disadvantaged South African girls into a reality, including an up-close look at some of the life-stories of these inspiring students. Despite unimaginable hardships, these girls all exhibit that intangible "it" quality and know that attending this Leadership Academy will forever change their lives, the lives of their families, their communities and the future of their nation.

Sounds like a plan, right? Everybody wants to see good-hearted and ambitious but disadvantaged kids get a head start in life. Except that’s not exactly what this show was about.

What it’s about is…Oprah: see Oprah fly to Africa. See Oprah watch the building of the school. See Oprah interview the prospective students. See Oprah schmoozing with Nelson Mandela. See Oprah throw her money around with the kind of ostentation that would have embarrassed the Robber Barons. See Oprah walking in the sunshine. See Oprah and all her Groovy Friends basking in the, the…Oprahness of it all.

Amazingly enough, we apparently live in a society where millions of people buy into this crap.

Everything, and I mean everything in this little passion play is calculated for effect. The girls who happen to benefit from all this are all telegenic as hell, all pretty and perky with straight teeth and good posture, and just a-bubbling over with grand plans for the future. They all want to change the world, feed the poor and free the girls who are political prisoners (the boys, presumably, will be left to twist in the wind).

Good for them…but make no mistake: the school, the kids, the whole of the Dark Continent, it’s all just part of the backdrop against which we can bask in the saintly glow that is Oprah. Those wrinkled old nuns from Calcutta ain’t got nothin’ on the Big O.

All in all, it’s nothing so much as a well-crafted greeting card from St. Oprah to her millions of adoring minions.

Hey Ope, you want to impress me? Go back to the Third World and find the deepest, darkest hellhole of a community you can find; a place where people are unwashed, underfed, undermedicated and way too concerned with the business of just surviving to know or care about some slick talking head just in from Chicago with entourage in tow. Try helping the poor souls of this world who can’t or won’t smile for the camera and gush all over you.

Or just turn off the damn TV camera. Try helping people for the right reason.

Many a wise man has warned us of the folly of doing the right thing for the wrong reason.

I fear though it may be too late for her Oprahness. Oh, I have no doubt that she’s completely sold herself on the virtue of it all. And like I've said before: there's nothing sadder than someone who believes their own bullshit.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Best. Picture. Ever.

Words fail me...