Rep Steve Vaillancourt



Wednesday
Aug012012

"And That's The Way It Was" For The Rome Games

Of course, we think of NBC when we think of the Olympic coverage today (the network continues to force feed us pre-packaged segments rather than live events).

It used to be ABC.  How can we ever forget Jim McKay and Howard Cosell broadcasting the slaughter of Israeli athletes from Munich in 1972?

But it wasn't always NBC or ABC when it came to the Olympics.

It was CBS back in 1960, a fact I learned from Douglas Brinkley's new biography of Walter Cronkite.

In fact, Walter Cronkite was the Bob Costas of that year.  He was the studio host of the 1960 games, but he never left the country to fill that role.

As related by Brinkley, Jim McKay was working for CBS at the time and was scheduled to do the winter games from Squaw Valley in 1960, but he apparently suffered a nervous breakdown, and the executives at CBS turned to Cronkite.  He did a stellar job (didn't he always?) that they kept him aboard for the Rome games although he didn't go to Rome.

This was before coverage of the space lauches, before the death of Kennedy, before the CBS Evening News went from Douglas Edwards to Cronkite and from 15 to 30 minutes (1963).

I never knew Walter Cronkite hosted the Olympics 52 years ago.

It's just one of the fun facts from Brinkley's great book.

For example, as a 12 year old, I remember Cronkite being removed from covering the Democratic convenion in 1964--yes, I was a political junkie even back then. 

Brinkley has the story, including how Cronkite just didn't like Barry Goldwater and was out of control for the Republican gathering in San Francisco earlier that summer.  (Attempting to compare Goldwater with Hitler, CBS aired the line, "He's as American as apple strudel."  Ouch.  "Sieg Heil" indeed!).

I also used to watch the black and white "What's My Line" on CBS Sunday nights at 10:30 p.m., but until I read the Brinkley book, I never realized that Cronkite and other CBS reporters covering the 1956 convention in Chicago entered and signed in in an attempt to stump Bennett Cerf, Arlene Francis, and Dorothy Kilgallen.

I know that 10 minute clip is googleable because I found it and use it on this week's Liberty Express (Manchester TV23 Thursday at 9 p.m., Sunday at 6 a.m. and noon and up now at vimeo.com/channels/libertyx).

Too bad we couldn't replace Costas and the NBC pre-packagers in London with someone like Walter.  "That's the way it was" not from Rome, but for Rome in 1960.

  • Walter Cronkite--What's My Line - YouTube

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6_RHxArgp8Sep 27, 2008 - 9 min - Uploaded by crepehanger47
    Here, Walter Cronkite, Charles Collingwood, Douglas Edwards, Eric Sevareid, and Robert Trout were the ...
  • Wednesday
    Aug012012

    R.I.P., Gore, R.I.P.


    AFP

    “Don’t stick your tongue out at me, Bill.”

                That’s one of the lines I remember most from my childhood.

                In fact, my best friend and I used it throughout our senior year in high school, that’s how much we appreciated the line and the man who uttered it.

                As I recall, it was used during one of the debates on ABC-TV during the 1968 conventions.

                The Bill was a reference to William F. Buckley Jr., and the man who was involved in a no holds barred verbal slugfest with Bill was, of course, Gore Vidal who passed on today at age 86.  (In this day and age, I trust the Vidal-Buckley clip is googleable).

                I was a big fan of Gore Vidal, not as much for his books as for his verbal prowess throughout the years.

                Don’t get me wrong, I managed to get through Burr (on my third try), and I admired Vidal as a writer, but I found him very difficult.  I remember trying to get through Lincoln as bedtime reading one winter, but it was simply too depressing.

                I will miss Gore Vidal the same way I miss Walter Cronkite; he was around so often during the formative years of my life I use him as a landmark of my coming of age.  What was I doing when Gore or Walter did this or that?

                Howie Carr, on WRKO, shared a couple of Vidal’s other great quotes with his listeners this afternoon.

                Upon the passing of heavy drinking and drugging Truman Capote at age 59, Vidal was more succinct than “Don’t stick your tongue out at me Bill.”  He called Truman’s death a great career move.

                Speaking of memories from earlier in life, remember those interminable Capote interviews with Dick Cavett.

                Vidal’s other quote from Gore was typical, the kind of straightforward assessment that made Vidal both a loved and hated figure.  It’s not enough to succeed, he once said; others have to fail.

                How true, how true!

                RIP, Gore, RIP.

                Maybe I should try—once again—to get through some of that historical fiction which has eluded me at every try.

                The last time I tried that was when I made a list of books any intelligent person should read before he or she dies.  I put A Tale of Two Cities at the top of the list and couldn’t get through the first chapter.  Indeed, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of books.”

                Like Dickens, Vidal as a writer was never my cup of tea, but he was a great man.

                (On the other hand, I’ve read everything from Kurt Vonnegut and John Irving three times and anxiously await Vonnegut’s newest—it must be just about time).

                I continue to read and truly enjoy Douglas Brinkley’s great biography of Cronkite (see other posting).

    Monday
    Jul302012

    Thumbs Way Down To The Brits, Mr. Bean, Mary, And Sir Paul


    We know, we know; London is the first city to host a third Olympic games.  That in itself, at a time when many of the world's greatest cities have never hosted a single Olympics, is an outrage, but the opening ceremonies, no matter how many times NBC hacks told us how spectacular they were, were spectacularly DISAPPOINTING.
    The only thing great about the opening was the march of athletes, smiles on their faces in anticipation of great moments to come, but then NBC brought us even that on a tape-delayed basis and didn't hesitate to skip through certain counties as they worked in more and more commercials.  Hey, geniuses at NBC, if are on tape delay anyway, why cut out certain "lesser" counties?  How sickening was it to here Bob Costas mention time and again how the athletes were marching faster than planned?
    Very sickening.  That was your problem, Bobby Boy, and we didn't need to keep hearing it.
    After the great spectacle in Beijing four years ago, I for one was expecting a letdown in the London opening, but I could never imagine just how hokey or terrible it would be.
    Mr. Bean is one of my least favorite British comedians (I actually remember walking out of one of his movies once in Montreal), yet he was given a precious ten minutes of foolishness during the opening.
    I admit to enjoying Mary Poppins (a little) 30 or 40 years ago, but is that the best the Brits could serve up to a world awaiting a great opening?
    Whoops....we did get some silliness out of Harry Potter.
    Then there was that business about the real Queen and the phony James Bond.  NBC and even organizers are still wetting themselves over how clever that gambit was.
    Not!
    Not at all clever.
    The thousands who were "employed" to take down the Hobbit set and get ready for industrial England could just as well have stayed home as far as I was concerned.
    This was an Olympic opening, not some move producer's fantasy of what he could do if given enough time and money.
    It was a spectacular failure and although i admit to being tone deaf (that's what my seventh grade music teacher convinced me) I certainly cannot be the only one who thought SIR Paul was off key when he sung and shouted Hey Jude at us.
    Hey Brits, you'll never get back to days of controlling the world with your imperial bullying.  An island ruling a continent indeed!
    Hey Brits, London should never have awarded given the Olympics a third time.
    Let's see now..
    New York?  Never.
    Boston?  Never.
    But lest I sound provincial...Toronto?  Never (Montreal and Berlin, my favorite cities, had the games once each and that was enough.  Berlin tried to get the 2000 games, but most Berliners were opposed!)
    Rio is a great choice for 2016.
    Istanbul would be fantastic for 2020.
    Let's never return to a city which has had the games once or twice (no, not even Paris; Athens was an acceptable exception) as long as there are scores of cities waiting for a first try.
    And please no more Mr. Bean, Mary popping in, Harry's enemies or graying female lookalike Sirs singing off key.
    Now let's get down to the serious stuff like porno beach volleyball (not to mention little girls gymnastics).  Hey, has anyone caught the controversy over how the women competing are so cold in London that they have to triple the number of body inches they are clothed in.
    C'est dommage.  C'est tres, tres dommage.
    I'll take water polo for a thousand please, Alex, with a touch, just a touch, of phony white water rafting thrown in for good measure.
     
     

     

    Monday
    Jul302012

    Thumbs Down To NBC's Olympic Coverage

     
    Like that thrill no longer going up Chris Matthews' leg when he thinks about Barack Obama, I suspect the thrill is gone for many of us when it comes to devotion to Olympic coverage.
    Those old enough to remember the black power salute at Mexico City in 1968 (I was watching through snowy reception with rabbit ears back in Vermont) or the horrors of the slaughter in Munich in 1972 (I was watching from the student union building at Plymouth State) or any number of more mundane Olympic moments undoubtedly mark passages in our lives with references to great Olympic moments.  Like zombies in Dawn of the Dead drawn back to the shopping mall (because that's what they did when alive), we are drawn back to the Olympics every four years.
    However, primarily for two reasons, the thrill will never return.
    Unlike in Barack Obama's America when individual accomplishment takes second place to the communal good, in sports, individual effort counts for everything.  These athletes did indeed build it themselves, through the type of hard work and dedication that no nanny or big brother could ever come close to matching.  As fans, we should continue to honor athletic accomplishments for individual sacrifice involved.
    Still, the demise of the Cold War accounts for half my waning interest in the Olympics.  As much fun as it might be to root for the American swim relay team against those Frenchmen or Australians, it just doesn't quite seem the same as rooting against the "evil" Russian or East Germans.
    Maybe it's just me getting older, but I find it exceedingly difficult to put patriotism ahead of individual achievement (hey, I remember when I was devastated when the "evil" Keene would beat Plymouth).
    I began seeing good in Russians even before the Cold War ended, but the ability to do so does little to add to the Olympic spirit--no, not the spirit of higher, stronger, faster--but that spirit of Go USA!
    NBC will claim that it sees value in all Olympians regardless of country of origin, but that's just part of the big lie.
    In fact, NBC is even more responsible for the demise in Olympic interest than the Cold War's status on the ash heap of history.
    More than any other endeavor, sports appeals to us because of its spontaneity.  We watch the Super Bowl or the Red Sox because we never know what's going to happen next.  We can't know because it hasn't happened yet.
    However, not just this year with the five hour delay between here and London, NBC has long since drained every ounce of spontaneity out of the Olympics by replacing live coverage with pre-packaged highlight reels.
    For me it began in Atlanta in 1996..  Great, i thought, at last we have an Olympics in our own time zone, so we'll get to see everything live, as it should be in sports.
    Wrong!  Preferring to package events within an ounce of their life, NBC even then decided that in this Show Biz Era, we don't need live sports any more.
    NBC was wrong then, and it's even more wrong today.
    Take last night for example.  Even with a taped delay basis, it could have covered women's (dare I say little girls) gymnastics as a great even unfolding.  We were told that competition was proceeding on four apparatuses at the same time, yet did NBC go back and forth, a floor here, a floor exercise there?  Not at all.  It stuck with American competitors.  It gave us newsreel footage at the expense of live sports drama.  Even when it took minutes to get a score for an American woman (little girl) were we allowed to glimpse another event.  Of course not.  That would be contrary to NBC's packaging guidelines.
    But it's even worse than that.  NBC has devolved into actual deceit, doing everything it can to make us beleive we are watching some live event.  Yesterday afternoon for example, we may have thought the men's beach volleyball game was live, but I certainly could not have been the only person to note that at a critical point the score suddenly jumped ahead several points.  That could not have happened in a live event; NBC had obviously edited the package to make it fit its time constraints, kind of like ABC did when rather than provide the traditional Breakfast at Wimbledon, the network decided to serve up a great match on a taped delay basis and cut out one entire set! 
    How stupid do network sports executives think we are?
    Very stupid indeed apparently.
    This bastardization of sports must stop!
    NBC has forever ruined the Olympics for me as ABC did with Wimbledon and the British Open Golf tourney. 
    Fortunately, I'm a fan of bike racing, and it's such a minor sport that NBC deems it not worth of the big package treatment.  We got to watch six hours of it live Saturday morning and four more hours far away from prime time in a great women's (not little girls) race Sunday.
    Shh...don't tell NBC or they'll attempt to ruin what little they haven't already spoiled of live coverage.  Apparently the bigger the event, the more NBC decides to ruin it be pre-packaging.  It's a midsummer night's outrage.
    I trust the ratings will verify what I say.  The demise of the Cold War and live coverage have combined to take the thrill out of the Olympics for this former partisan who looked forward to the spectacle every four years.
    Now, two days of packaged pablum is quite enough for me.  Back to reruns of Frasier please.
    Monday
    Jul302012

    It's Not A Bar Room Brawl Which Should Force Garrity To Resign

    Notice that the headline does not say, "Rep. Garrity Should Not Resign".
    I tend to believe that any State Representative, who has a record of less than 50 percent attendance, should resign and never run again.
    Manchester Ward 7 Rep. Pat Garrity, a Democrat, would fit into the "ought to resign" category for that reason, but then, he'd have lots of company, a fact I reported here last week.
    Garrity was present for only 31 percent of House votes in 2012, but that's hardly the worst record for Reps in general or for Manchester Reps in particular.  in fact, it's a Manchester Republican, Tom Beattie from the West side, who has the city's worst attendance record; a pathetic 14 percent, and we don't hear for the Speaker or Peter Principal Silva calling for his resignation.
    Also worse than Garrity are Manchester Democrats Tom Katsiantonis from my own Ward 8 (a pitiful 24 percent) and Jean Jeudy (23 percent; from Ward 3), and Republican Norma Champagne, 26 percent, from Ward 5.
    At least Norma and Beattie have decided not to run again; and Jeudy could conceivably be given a pass (he was reportedly ill much of the year), but Garrity and Katsiantonis apparently think it's perfect okay to flunk attendance and then ask to be re-elected.  And they are correct; it's up to voters. 
    Voters get what they deserve, but sadly, bad voters make the rest of us suffer, and anyone who would vote for a Garrity or a Katsiantonis (not to mention his brother George from the west sid) is a bad voter.  Until bad voters decide to resign, our society is doomed!
    The Speaker is dead wrong when he contends that Garrity should bow out of his race for re-election.  The Speaker should know the law.  Maybe he should check with Secretary of State Bill Gardner.  Once the filing period is over, there are only three reasons a candidate may be removed from the ballot--death (Leo Pepino), having come down with a serious illness SINCE the filing period, or moving from the district.  Note in fact that Senator Dick Green, when he was appointing to a high paying job in the real world, had to move out of Rochester to get his name off the ballot a few cycles back.
    The Speaker should know this.
    Garrity cannot get his name off the ballot.  His fate is with the same (mostly) Ward 7 voters who re-elected him following another brawl at the same bar room (in which a broken leg resulted) a few years back.  Remember that one?  Frank Guinta was also implicated in it, and voters rewarded him with a trip to DC.
    Thus, voters apparently don't believe that bar room brawling is a sin which should keep one from office.
    Thus, I say that Pat Garrity, whom I disagree with on virtually everything, should not resign.  It's not as if we'll be called back in session this year, but then one never knows with O'Brien wielding the gavel.
    Absenteeism, is seems to be, is a much greater sin than alleged ball room brawling yet we don't see the Speaker or the Union Leader calling upon no show Reps to step aide.
    If they did, they could start with one of their own darlings.  The Union Leader never ceases to heap praise (and endorse) Ward 6 Rep Will Infantine...as was the case last week when he spoke out against Obama.
    Infantine, O'Brien's choice for Labor Vice Chair, is great for talk and public relations spin (not to mention for gossiping), but when it comes to voting, he's the lowest scoring Rep in a leadership position.  This labor vice chair has a barely passing score if you consider 60 passing; he's been present for only 62 percent of roll call votes this year...and to cover up for his malfeasance in office, he takes to the Channel 23 air waves to complain about mileage payments for those who choose to serve their constituents.
    Now, you just can't make up blather from the likes of No Show Infantine.
    Maybe he should resign.
    By the way, I've combined the records of all Manchester Reps on attendance, HRA, and Liberty scores in a chart which I feature for no less than 15 minutes on this week's Liberty Express (on TV23 Monday at 10 p.m., Thursday at 9 p.m., and next Sunday at 6 a.m. and noon).
    It's time Manchester citizens know who their No Show Reps are and apparently the Union Leader is either incapable or unwilling to provide the service.
    Hippo Press perhaps???
    Meanwhile, Garrity should not resign.  He cannot get off the ballot, and you know what?  I bet he gets re-elected.  Even as a no show, he's better than the spooky Ward 7 Republican Ross Terrio.
    Just...in the Olympic spirit of Howard Cosell this week..."telling it like it is."
    For those who have asked me to post attendance for all 400 Reps, I've asked Clerk Karen Wadsworth. Apparently, if you can believe it, in this year of our Lord 2012, we lack the electronic technology.
    Here's a good platform plank for Speaker candidates--if elected, I will assure the public that attendance scores for all Reps be made available to the public in a timely manner.