Saturday, May 27, 2017

Slow Saturday Special: Bang a Gong

Let's get it on:

"Chuck Barris, 87; famed for creating ‘Gong Show’" by Neil Genzlinger New York Times  March 23, 2017

NEW YORK — Chuck Barris, the “Gong Show” creator, songwriter, and novelist who sought to add to his already eclectic résumé with a made-up — or was it? — story about being an assassin for the CIA, died on Tuesday at his home in Palisades, N.Y. He was 87.

“The Gong Show” was the last of Mr. Barris’s hit game show creations. In the 1960s, he came up with “The Dating Game” and “The Newlywed Game,” making a spectacle of his contestants’ romantic yearnings in the first case and their honeymoon-period bliss, adjustments, and foibles in the second.

Ah, memories.

Mr. Barris was born in Philadelphia to Dr. Nathaniel Barris, a dentist, and the former Edith Cohen; his father died when he was young.

During the payola scandals of the 1950s, he was hired to keep a young ABC star, Dick Clark, of “American Bandstand,” out of trouble.

Mr. Barris’s next game shows were less successful, but just as it seemed he was losing his touch, he came up with the concept that would catapult him to a new level of fame: “The Gong Show,” which had its premiere on NBC in June 1976. The show featured a series of performers, most of them amateurs, and a panel of three celebrity judges. Mr. Barris himself was the brash, irritating host. 

It was a terrible show.

The performers, who were often terrible, would be allowed to go on until one of the judges couldn’t stand it anymore and sounded a gong, putting an end to the spectacle. Those who weren’t gonged were rated by the judges on a 1-to-10 scale. In keeping with the ridiculousness of the proceedings, the prize amount they vied for was ridiculous: $516.32 on the daytime version of the show, $712.05 on the prime-time edition.

The show, which ran on NBC until 1978 and then in syndication (with revivals in later years), became a cultural sensation. Critics complained about its crassness and cruelty, but Mr. Barris, like purveyors of burlesque and circus sideshows in earlier generations, knew there was a large audience for lowbrow. At one point the daytime version was attracting 78 percent of viewers ages 18 to 49.

“In my opinion, a good game show review is the kiss of death,” Mr. Barris said in a Salon interview in 2001. “A really bad review means the show will be on for years.”

So he's the guy who lowered the bar and gave us South Park.

The ghost of “The Gong Show” is evident in numerous reality-television shows of more recent vintage — the early rounds of any given season of “American Idol,” for instance.

Edited for "reality," of course.

By the end of the 1970s, Mr. Barris’s television production company was busy and profitable, but he was itchy to try something else. What he tried, disastrously, was “The Gong Show Movie,” which he directed and, with Robert Downey Sr., wrote. It was released in May 1980 and flopped.

Mr. Barris gradually withdrew from television, selling his holdings, spending most of his time in France, and turning to writing. He had already written one book, “You and Me, Babe” (1974), a novel about a television producer whose marriage failed; it drew heavily on his own rocky marriage to Lyn Levy, a niece of the powerful CBS chief William S. Paley, in the 1950s. They were divorced in 1976.

That first book sold well, but it was the next one that would give Mr. Barris yet another burst of notoriety: “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” (1984), a supposed autobiography in which he claimed that while traveling in his role as a television producer in the 1960s he was also an assassin for the CIA.

The book got only a smattering of attention, but it caught some eyes in Hollywood, and in 2003, after many delays, a film version came out, directed by George Clooney and starring Sam Rockwell as Mr. Barris.

The film brought Mr. Barris, by now in his 70s, a fresh round of publicity and endless variations on the obvious question: Was it true? He generally played coy, delivering elliptical answers that neither confirmed nor denied. The CIA was more direct: Various spokesmen said Mr. Barris had had nothing to do with the agency.

They both just confirmed that he was!! CIA never comments, and when they do it's a lie, and Barris was acting just as he was trained.

Mr. Barris’s second marriage, to Robin Altman, ended in divorce in 1999. He leaves his wife, the former Mary Clagett.....


He must have been CIA because Washington Post gave the eulogy.

Bells are ringing on this next one:

"Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser to Jimmy Carter, dies at 89" by Daniel Lewis New York Times  May 27, 2017

NEW YORK — Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday. He was 89.

His death was announced on Friday by his daughter, Mika Brzezinski, a co-host of the MSNBC program “Morning Joe.”

I guess that means he will be missing the wedding.

Like his predecessor Henry A. Kissinger, Mr. Brzezinski was a foreign-born scholar (he in Poland, Mr. Kissinger in Germany) with considerable influence in global affairs, both before and long after his official tour of duty in the White House. In essays, interviews and television appearances over the decades, he cast a sharp eye on six successive administrations, including that of Donald J. Trump, whose election he did not support and whose foreign policy, he found, lacked coherence. 

He just started.

“A vulnerable world needs an America characterized by clarity of thought and leadership that projects optimism and progress,” he wrote in an Op-Ed article with Paul Wasserman in The New York Times in February that took aim at the new administration. “‘Make America Great Again’ and ‘America First’ are all very well as bumper stickers, but the foreign policy of the United States needs to be more than a campaign slogan.”

Mr. Brzezinski was nominally a Democrat, with views that led him to speak out, for example, against the “greed,” as he put it, of an American system that compounded inequality. He was one of the few foreign policy experts to warn against the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Hmmm. So he was globalist who opposed one of the wars for the Jews. And now he is dead.

But in at least one respect — his rigid hatred of the Soviet Union — he had stood to the right of many Republicans, including Mr. Kissinger and President Richard M. Nixon. And during his four years under Mr. Carter, beginning in 1977, thwarting Soviet expansionism at any cost guided much of American foreign policy, for better or worse.

He supported billions in military aid for Islamic militants fighting invading Soviet troops in Afghanistan. He tacitly encouraged China to continue backing the murderous regime of Pol Pot in Cambodia, lest the Soviet-backed Vietnamese take over that country. 

That would be the "Al-CIA-Duh" that was later used as a patsy for, well, you know.... I'm not going to keep beating the drum.

He managed to delay implementation of the SALT II arms treaty in 1979 by raising objections to Soviet behavior in Vietnam, Africa and Cuba; and when the Soviets went into Afghanistan late that year, “SALT disappeared from the U.S.-Soviet agenda,” as he noted in a memoir four years later.

Except he wrote in his book that they goaded the Russians into their own Vietnam six months ahead of the Red Army’s invasion, and afterword how could you compare the two?

"Question: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future terrorists? Brzezinski: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?"

Stirred up Muslims, huh? 

I think after 17 years of war with no end on the horizon, combined with the massive surveillance and control measures taken, and adding in the state of the world today with a "terrorist attack" seemingly every other day, that question has been answered.

The Soviet Union would have collapsed anyway, intervention in Afghanistan or not. It couldn't keep pace with the debt-fueled West. Meanwhile, the alleged actions of the "stirred up Muslims" has had ramifications far and wide, ones that would not have been in place had that trauma not been on every television in the world.

Mr. Brzezinski, a descendant of Polish aristocrats (his name is pronounced Z-BIG-nyehv breh-ZHIHN-skee), was a severe, even intimidating figure, with hawkish features, penetrating eyes and strong Polish accent. Washington quickly learned that he had sharp elbows as well. He was adept at seizing the spotlight and freezing out the official spokesman on foreign policy, Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance, provoking conflicts that ultimately led to Mr. Vance’s resignation.

Where Mr. Vance had endorsed the Nixon-Kissinger policy of a “triangular” power balance among the United States, China and the Soviet Union, Mr. Brzezinski scorned such “acrobatics,” as he called them. He advocated instead what he called a deliberate “strategic deterioration” in relations with Moscow, and closer ties to China.

I just want to say how turned off I am by these globe-kickers and their 1984 version of the world. Yup, play one off against the other in the name of perpetual war against it matters whom not.

By his own account, he blitzed Mr. Carter with memos until he got permission to go to Beijing in May 1978, over State Department resistance, to begin talks that would lead to full diplomatic relations seven months later. Immediately after the trip, he appeared on “Meet the Press,” unleashing a slashing attack on the Soviet Union that Mr. Vance deplored as “loose talk.”

Mr. Brzezinski was also a prime mover behind the commando mission sent to rescue the American hostages held by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s revolutionary forces in Iran after the overthrow of the shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi — a disastrous desert expedition in April 1980 that claimed eight lives and never reached Tehran. Mr. Vance had not been informed of the mission until a few days before. It was the final straw: He quit, “stunned and angry,” he said.

Mr. Brzezinski’s rationale for the rescue attempt was, perhaps inevitably, rooted in his preoccupation with Soviet influence. He contended that trying to gain the release of the hostages through sanctions and other diplomatic measures “would deliver Iran to the Soviets,” although many thought that outcome highly improbable, given the fundamentalism of the clerics running the country. Besides, he said, success would “give the United States a shot in the arm, which it has badly needed for 20 years,” a reference to the quagmire of the Vietnam War.

All this image management of searing generational events is disgusting.

Soviet aggression in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America was by no means a figment of Mr. Brzesinki’s imagination. But his strict adherence to ideas in which virtually every issue circled back to the threat of Soviet domination was remarkable even for those tense times, when many in the foreign policy establishment had come to regard détente — a general easing of the geopolitical tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States — as the best course.

In his scholarly certitude, Mr. Brzezinski sometimes showed a tendency to believe that any disagreement between theory and reality indicated some fault on the part of reality. In his 1962 book “Ideology and Power in Soviet Politics,” for example, he asserted that the Communist bloc “is not splitting and is not likely to split” just as Beijing and Moscow were breaking apart.

Please don't say that. Please don't say a person responsible for shaping the world we live in wasn't grounded in reality.

With the breakup of the Soviet Union, Mr. Brzezinski allowed that it would make sense for the United States to engage with Russia, though cautiously, as well as China, “to support global stability.” And although he condemned Russian meddling in elections in the United States and elsewhere, he thought the effects were only marginal relative to the underlying problems shaking up Western societies.

In any case, aside from his ideological principles, he had both personal and historical reasons for abhorring the Soviet system.

Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski was born in Warsaw on March 28, 1928. His father, Tadeusz, was a diplomat who took the family along to France, then to Germany during the rise of Hitler in the 1930s and, fortuitously, to Canada on the eve of World War II. When the Russians took over Poland at the end of the war, Tadeusz Brzezinski chose to retire in Canada rather than return home.

Anybody going to explore that more? Family lived in Germany under Hitler during his rise to power?

The younger Mr. Brzezinski graduated from McGill University in Montreal in 1949 and earned a master’s degree there in 1950. Then it was on to Harvard, which granted him a doctorate in political science in 1953 and appointed him as an instructor. He and Mr. Kissinger were among the candidates for a faculty position; when Mr. Kissinger won an associate professorship in 1959, Mr. Brzezinski decamped to Columbia University.

He was not always consistent in his positions as he moved between one situation and another. When he was appointed to the State Department’s Policy Planning Council in 1966, he had already become an outspoken defender of United States engagement in the Vietnam conflict.


Gulf of goddamn Tonkin, dammit. Chemical warfare waged, millions of Asians dead and a wall of our own here. These guys never learn.

In 1968, after riotous antiwar protests at Columbia and elsewhere, he wrote in The New Republic that students should not be allowed to “rally again under the same leadership,” meaning they should be tried and incarcerated.

“If that leadership cannot be physically liquidated, it can at least be expelled from the country,” he wrote.

Oh, so he was raised a fascist.

That same year, however, he resigned from the State Department planning council as a protest against expanded American involvement in the war in Indochina under President Lyndon B. Johnson.

That isn't winning any points with me.

Then he became a foreign policy adviser to Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, who defended the expansion in his 1968 presidential campaign.

Oh, so he was just another lying, stumble-bum political apparatchik.

His bond with Jimmy Carter developed through the Trilateral Commission, the group David Rockefeller created in 1973 as a forum for political and business leaders from North America, Western Europe and Japan to consider the challenges facing industrialized countries. Mr. Brzezinski was the commission’s first director. (Mr. Rockefeller died in March.)

In 1974, Mr. Brzezinski invited Mr. Carter, then the governor of Georgia and a rising Democratic star, to become a member. Two years later, Mr. Carter was the Democratic nominee for president, and he hired Mr. Brzezinski as a foreign affairs adviser.

From the start of his tenure as Mr. Carter’s national security adviser, Mr. Brzezinski jockeyed for power. He reserved for himself the right to give Mr. Carter his daily intelligence briefing, which had previously been the prerogative of the Central Intelligence Agency. He frequently called journalists to his office for what he called “exclusive” not-for-attribution briefings in which he would put his own spin on events, to the annoyance of Mr. Vance.

And although he was familiarly called Zbig and could be very engaging, he was quick to smack down reporters who dared to challenge his ideas. “I just cut off your head,” he told a journalist after one such retort.

He hung around with those ISIS dudes for far too long!!

A prolific author, Mr. Brzezinski published a memoir in 1983 about his White House years, “Power and Principle,” in which he recalled a range of policy objectives that went beyond containing the Soviets. “First,” he wrote, “I thought it was important to try to increase America’s ideological impact on the world” — to make it again the “carrier of human hope, the wave of the future.”

We once were, but not for about 15 years now, and in some places we were never consider that -- and rightly so.

He also said that he had aimed to restore America’s appeal in the Third World through better economic relations with underdeveloped countries, but acknowledged that he had concentrated too much of his attention on those countries that he felt were threatened by Soviet or Cuban takeovers.

Yeah, the right-wing thug dictators that murdered thousands of their people to further U.S. interests never went over well with the home population..

More recently, in opposing the invasion of Iraq, he predicted that “an America that decides to act essentially on its own” could “find itself quite alone in having to cope with the costs and burdens of the war’s aftermath, not to mention widespread and rising hostility abroad.”

There is a silver lining in every cloud, and not even Zbig is all bad (nor is any person all good, save for MLK and Gandhi).

In “Second Chance: Three Presidents and the Crisis of American Superpower,” published in 2007, he assessed the consequences of that war and criticized the successive administrations of George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush for failing to take advantage of the possibilities for American leadership from the time the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. He considered George W. Bush’s record, especially, “catastrophic.” And in the 2008 presidential campaign, he wholeheartedly supported Barack Obama. 

I agree with the first opinion, but after eight long years of that other guy.... (blog editor shakes head)

Four years later, he once again assessed the United States’ global standing in “Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power.” Here he argued that continued American strength abroad was vital to global stability, but that it would depend on the country’s ability to foster “social consensus and democratic stability” at home.

Then what is happening in the country today killed him?

Essential to those goals, he wrote, would be a narrowing of the yawning income gap between the wealthiest and the rest, a restructuring of the financial system so that it no longer mainly benefited “greedy Wall Street speculators” and a meaningful response to climate change. 

It's growing wider with every second -- and there it goes again, and again, and again, and again, etc, etc, etc.

A United States in decline, he said — one “unwilling or unable to protect states it once considered, for national interest and/or doctrinal reasons, worthy of its engagement” — could lead to a “protracted phase of rather inconclusive and somewhat chaotic realignments of both global and regional power, with no grand winners and many more losers.”

Actually, what happens is we go from the AmeriKan Era and the Zionist Age to a Slavic Era and a Chinese Age.

Is that what the Jew World Order wanted, or did they just think the Chinese would passively roll over?

Mr. Brzezinski, who had homes in Washington and Northeast Harbor, Me., was married to the Czech-American sculptor Emilie Benes, with whom he had two children in addition to Ms. Brzezinski: Mark Brzezinski, a lawyer and former ambassador to Sweden under President Barack Obama, and Ian Brzezinski, whose career has included serving as a deputy assistant secretary of defense. All survive him. He is also survived by a brother, Lech, and five grandchildren.

Make sure you carefully read over the will because a comma made all the difference.


More no-nonsense kind of guys:

"Dallas Green, the tough-talking, no-nonsense skipper who in 1980 guided the Philadelphia Phillies to their first World Series championship, died Wednesday. He was 82. Mr. Green sure got his team’s attention midway through that championship season. After a loss in Pittsburgh left the Phils around .500, his clubhouse tirade was so loud that writers outside the locker room at Three Rivers Stadium swore they could hear every word. Mr. Green embraced his rugged reputation. Yet he was left in tears in 2011 when his 9-year-old granddaughter, Christina-Taylor Green, was shot and killed outside a grocery store in Tucson, Ariz, as she went to see Representative Gabrielle Giffords. Six people were killed in the mass shooting as Giffords met with constituents....."

Also see:

"Jerry Krause, the general manager who orchestrated the Chicago Bulls’ dynasty of the 1990s, assembling the teams that Michael Jordan led to six NBA championships, has died. He was 77....

Was it a heart attack or....

"It’s well known that falls among the elderly are common. Older people are more likely to have impaired vision, dizziness, and other destabilizing health problems and are less likely than younger people to have the strength and agility to find their feet once they begin to lose their balance. The CDC had already reported that falls were the top cause of injuries and deaths from injury among older people. An estimated 27,000 Americans die each year from falls...."