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Not Easy Listening

Today’s sound of music is a far beat from the 1965 Mary Poppins’ soundtrack. Old school sanitized hits like I’m Gonna Make You Love Me have been replaced by a genre of sexually explicit (some would say downright obscene) tunes like My Neck, My Back.

A sexagenarian (How’s that for a play on words?) friend of mine enjoys good music as much as I do. Like other mature people of our generation as we aged-out of youthful imprudence into responsible adulthood some things changed, but not our taste in music. However, unlike me, my friend can readily identify some of the contemporary and hip-hop artists about whom I know nothing and could care less. And while I consider much of the present-day music to be a waste of talent and airspace, he often defends it. But something that occurred recently when he was dining in a buffet-style restaurant gave him second thoughts.

When he began telling me the story, I figured that he was going to gross me out about the food. I didn’t want to hear that, because I have occasionally eaten at that place (that I will not name), although it has never been on my list of favorites.

It turns out that his complaint was not about the food or the service. His beef was over the sexually explicit lyrics in a song that was playing over the restaurant’s sound system as he was preparing to leave. He said he approached the owner and a clerk who were standing at the register near the doorway and in an unobtrusive voice complained that the music playing was unsuitable in a family diner. His expression of disapproval apparently motivated some other patrons who were standing nearby because a few of them chimed in. One man, who my friend guessed to be fortyish in spite of his backward-turned cap, said, “He’s right. There are small children in here. They don’t need to be listening to that s**t.”

Then, an older woman described as having the demeanor of a no-nonsense, church lady, added, “It’s a shame. This is a family restaurant. That music is totally inappropriate in a place like this. This ain’t some hip-hop joint.”

The owner apologetically explained that it was Sirius XM radio and added that he had no control over what the station was playing. As he left, my friend heard someone in the group (perhaps it was church lady) say, “Is it unreasonable to think that you could change the channel?”

When I asked my friend what was the name of the song. He said, he didn’t know it, but then he repeated some of the lewd lyrics. (Did you think that I was going to write those words here? Really?) No, I’m can’t name that tune either, but I’ll bet it’s on the Rankers list of rappers with the dirtiest rhymes. Finished reading this post, before your curiosity leads you to rush over to that page and check out the list.

Some of you readers may remember that in 1985, Tippy Gore, wife of Senator and later Vice President Al Gore, spearheaded an organization called The Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC). It championed the cause for including Parental Advisory labels on albums containing foul language and explicit lyrics.

PMRC faced strenuous objection from numerous people, including many in the music industry like John Denver, Ice Tea, and Frank Zappa, who protested that the proposed labeling would result in censorship.

In his book, “The Ice Opinion” published in 1994, Ice T wrote, “Tipper Gore is the only woman I directly called a bitch on any of my records.” In the same book, he later seems to express regret, saying, that he was 15 years old during the time of the PMRC controversy. He continues with, “I am now 41 years old and the father of two teenaged girls.” Ice T, whose real name is Tracy Lauren Marrow is now 60 years old with three daughters. I wonder how much has he changed his tune?

Although Tippy Gore and three other women whose husbands held prominent positions were successful in forming the PMRC, that guidelines and rating system did not last.

The current Parental Advisory warning label, trademarked by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) grew out of the PMRC. It was introduced in 1990, the same year that PMRC shut down. The label, now affixed to germane music products and other merchandise, does not control what is broadcast over radio programs. And while some broadcasters play edited versions of songs to eliminate content that may be considered objectionable or age-inappropriate, owners of restaurants and other businesses should assume some responsibility for music played in their establishments.

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Taking a Different View of Whoopi

Tff 2014I am a huge fan of Whoopi Goldberg. Followers of my blog may recall that seven years ago I wrote a post candidly expressing my concern about Whoopi’s disheveled appearance on the TV talk show, The View. Undoubtedly, owing to my self-consciousness about appearance, I didn’t hesitate to brazenly offer my opinion that Whoopi should dress more appropriately for her job, like the program’s other co-hosts.

The odds are at least 20 million-to-one that Whoopi never saw that post and if she did her response would likely have been, “Who did you say wrote it? Loretta who? Who the hell is that?” before curling her lips and rolling her eyes. Nevertheless, my candor did not thwart a phone call I received months later from the program’s Audience Services Department, offering tickets for me and some friends to attend the show. Unfortunately, due to bad timing, I couldn’t attend. Being unable to accept that offer has been one of the biggest regrets of my life.

Getting back to why I admire Whoopi. If you didn’t know who she is (Who doesn’t?), and you happened to see the dreadlocks wearing, New York native walking on the street near her 8-bedroom, 9,486-square foot mansion in a gated New Jersey community, you might think that she was out of place. A vagabond, perhaps. Of course, you would be so far from wrong you couldn’t see daylight at high noon.

Nearly every celeb-watcher and anyone who knows about Whoopi knows that she is one of the entertainment industry’s finest. Aside from being strongly opinionated (a commonality that we share. You think?), she is highly intelligent and well-read. When she speaks her mind, she doesn’t hesitate to make it known that she doesn’t give a hot burp what other people think of her. And need I add that the numerous award-winning actress, comedian, author, activist, moderator and co-host of The View also has a star on Hollywood Boulevard? Kudos to this woman who is not afraid to be herself. She has her own style of dressing and living and doesn’t care whether we like it or not.

I’m just saying — if ever there is a perfect example of not judging a book by its cover, Whoopi is it. And who knows (I say tongue-in-check) perhaps my quasi-apology will bring me another ticket offer. Time will tell.

By the way, if you would like to take a peek inside Whoopi’s home view the Slideshow.

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Tabloid Talk Shows and the People They Love

Cameraman Works In The Studio - Recording Show In Tv StudioHave you ever wondered what possesses people to go on TV programs like Maury, Steve Wilkos, and The Jerry Springer Show, and make jackasses of themselves? Those shows are difficult to watch, which is why I usually don’t, but who hasn’t heard about them?

When I was twenty-something, I, like a lot of people in that age group — then and now — wanted to be on television. Being in the right place at the right time, and carrying myself in the ladylike manner my mother taught me, opened doors for me to a few appearances on the small screen. Hold up a moment — I KNOW you’ve never heard of me. I didn’t say I achieved stardom, I said I made appearances. Now, if you are one of those who climbed on your high horse before I finished explaining, climb down as I continue.

My first TV appearance was in 1973. I was working at the Pentagon, as a civilian telephone operator for the Department of the Army, and my supervisor selected me and a couple of other operators to represent our department on a telethon. Participants were told to avoid wearing certain colors (as I recall those were black, white and red), apparently the camera dislikes those colors. I complied and wore my favorite loud green pantsuit to make sure that my family and friends could see me among the numerous other volunteers from different agencies. They saw me. I think everybody in the home viewing audience  spotted me. Maybe loud green should have been included in the list of colors to avoid wearing.

My next TV appearance was in 1983. I actually got to speak. My two children and I were featured on a program called Saturday Magazine, broadcast weekly on CBS. The show profiled two single parent families in the area; my family and another divorced mother and her children. Not only were both our families followed and filmed for a few hours (sort of like an abridged version of a reality TV show), we were also summoned to sit in the live studio audience when the segment aired. My copy of that taped program will be passed down to my children’s children as a keepsake relevant to our family history.

Speaking of live audiences, my sister-in-law, Barbara, and I were in the audience of Oprah‘s show, on November 9, 1987, when the talk show queen taped a program about the Challenger Shuttle disaster.

Aside from those occasions, I’ve been stopped and interviewed periodically by reporters on the street, about whatever newsworthy event they are covering. I do my best to speak intelligently, especially when there is a camera in my face, unlike some of the folks on tabloid TV who I don’t think put forth any effort or they just don’t know better. Is it obvious to anyone else that these shows target a certain demographic?

That brings me back to my question:  What possesses people to go on tabloid talk shows and make fools of themselves? Saturday Night Live’s former Church Lady would probably say, “Satan.”  But seriously, what?

Unlike celebrities who are usually paid guests on conventional talk programs, regular people – including the bozos and bozetts who appear on tabloid talk shows – do not get paid. The program pays their airfare and hotel expenses. That’s it. So, what reasons, aside from attention-starvation or a narcissistic personality disorder, would make tabloid junkies go on these outrageous shows and act up? You tell me. Click the comment box below and add your two cents to mine.

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What Women Want: Tickets

Women learn at an early age that some things require patience – like waiting for Santa Claus, reaching our 18st birthday, and getting tickets for a live television talk show.

There are a few tricks that might get a wannabe audience member into the studio:  stand-by and use chutzpah like the now ex-Salahis; implement a write-in campaign with the determination of a president running for a second term; or sign-up on the show’s website and wait — with the patience of Job. There is another way to get tickets; not just for a live TV show, but for just about anything. It is the ultimate trump card:  have connections. It works for me!

My affinity for quality talk shows began in the early days of Phil Donohue, but my favorite contemporary program is The View. I will tell you about the arrival of my long-awaited opportunity to be an audience member on The View, but first let me share some of my past live studio experiences.

In the early 1980s, I was twice an audience member at The Carol Randolph Show, which was broadcast locally on CBS. Then, on one spring morning, as my son, daughter, and I were enjoying our favorite week-end activity – roller skating in Rock Creek Park – we were filmed by the crew of the weekly TV program Saturday Magazine. The show was producing a feature about single parent families, and my children and I were part of the live studio audience when the segment aired on WTOP in March 1983.

Audience members at live talk shows get the opportunity to see their favorite hosts and celebrity guests in person, as I did at The Carol Randolph Show. Lou Rawls was the singing guest on one show that I attended. Millie Jackson was the other. I visited briefly with both in their dressing rooms. But enough of my horn-tooting, you want to know how to get your own studio tickets, don’t you?  Here is the deal.

If you don’t have a friend who works with the show to hook you up,

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Until Divorce Do Us Part

“In Hollywood a marriage is a success if it outlasts milk.” ~Rita Rudner

Am I missing something?  Why all of the hoopla over the Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes divorce? Ever since People magazine reported the story two weeks ago, the Cruise-Holmes divorce has received more press than sharply creased pants.

First, we learn about the couple’s divorce. Days later, we hear how quickly and amicably they settled. Meanwhile, we are fed other issues about the possibility that Cruise’s Scientology religion factored in the divorce; that Holmes had lunch with Cruise’s ex-wife, Nicole Kidman; and other relevant – or irrelevant — details of the breakup, depending on your viewpoint. Am I the only one asking myself what’s the big deal? And does anyone really care?

Many celebrity marriages don’t last long enough for the ink to dry on the pre-nuptial agreement. Look at Pamela Anderson and Kid Rock – married for 5 months; or Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries – 72 days, or Carmen Electra and Dennis Rodman – 9 Days.

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