Saturday, June 28, 2008

Marx was right, you know

Can there be anything more postmodern than being nostalgic for TV comercials?

Marx wasn't right about comunism, which proved to be a failure, but he was reight about captialsim--at least in the ways that capitalism works. Captialism has to create desires within consumers for things they don't really need or want in order to keep the economy growing. So when AOL runs a piece on "The Top 25 add icons of all time: TV's most memorable pitchman," they are proving Marx right. They are prompting people to think wistfully about those spokesmpersons they knew and loved as children and, by association, the products they pitced. I ntoiced something right away: all of the products mentioned in the piece are still available. Mikey, Mr. Whipple. the Maytag Repairman and the Snapple Lady may be gone, but you can still buy the great products they sold you on originally! I also noticed that, although they talked about the deaths of some of most of those who were gone, they neglected to mention that two of the actors who played the Marlboro Man died of Lung Cancer. Noticibly absent was the Copertone kid, aka Jodi Foister, but she's got a cadre of lawyers and is still big, so it was probably wise to leave her off the list.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

This is going to be fun!

Oh! To be in Kentucky!

The Blue Grass State just got a lot more interesting as Sonny Landham has thrown his hat into the U.S. Senate race, running as a Libertarian. Pundits and pollsters don't give him a snowball's chance in hell to win the election, but all agree that it is going to be a fun race.

Landham, in case you don't know him, is a former Hollywood actor who played tough Indian rolls. He's one of my favorite one-note actors. He played a tough Indian named Billy in *48 Hours* and a tough Indian named Billy in *Predator* (sensing a pattern?). Predator also costarred Governor Schwartgzeneger of California and Governor Ventura of Minnesota. WHo would have thought it would be so politically seminal? I can't wait for Carl Weathers to run for mayor of LA. I'm totally hoping he can at least get Jesse to campaign for him (Arnold won't break ranks). The two years he spent in Federal Prison and his brief stint as a porn actor will definitely spice the campaign up, but so will his calling his opponent "Boss Hogg" and saying things like "(George Bush) took us to war on lies to put big oil back in Iraq."

In bible-belt Kentucky none of this is supposed to play. At best he's seen as a spoiler who can tilt the senate race toward the democratic candidate. But I don't know. In this year of anti-establishment frenzy, who better to catch the imagination of a disgruntled electorate than a guy who fought aliens with Arnold and Jesse the Body? His shoot from the hip style will earn him press and votes. He's anti-abortion so he passes the main conservative litmus test in KY. I think he's got a real chance. And wouldn't *that* be blast to see! Every time he takes the floor for a speech CSPAN could cut to that great scene of him laughing as he cuts lines in his chest, just before he takes on the Predator.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mediagrouch Book is finaly available!

My new book, a collection of essays (re-written) from this blog, is now out! It is called "A Confederacy of Whores: Media and Politics in George W. Bush's America" and can be found on Below is the press release:


Brooklyn Publisher Vox Pop Releases New Media Critique
Brooklyn, NY, June 24, 2008

Vox Pop, the alternative coffee house, bookstore, performance space, and publisher that serves as the community anchor for the up and coming Cortelyou Road section of Flatbush, Brooklyn, has just released a new book of media criticism by local author and Vox Pop VP Michael Cramer titled A Confederacy of Whores: Media and Politics in George W. Bush’s America.

A collection of essays most of which were taken from Dr. Cramer’s blog Mediagrouch ( the book is a sometimes funny, sometimes angry look at the state of media in the United States. While mostly political, some of the essays also take on films, television, NASCAR, pro-wrestling, and animal rights. But the main focus of the book is the Gordian knot created by the inter-relationship of media and politics in today’s postmodern America.

ISBN 978-1598991079

Vox Pop is a community activist coffee house located at 1022 Cortelyou Road in Brooklyn New York, where the Flatbush, Kensington, and Ditmas Park neighborhoods come together. Founded by media activist Sander Hicks in 2004, Vox Pop is a 21st century version of the bohemian coffeehouse, where poets, activists, musicians, and people of all stripes meet to share ideas.

Michael Cramer is the Vice President of Media Services at Vox Pop. He teaches Media Studies at the City College of New York.


Contact: Vox Pop/Drench Kiss Media Corp
1022 Cortelyou Road
Brooklyn, New York, 11218

Monday, June 16, 2008

Replacing Tim Russert

(this is cross posted: I originally wrote it as a reply to someone's livejournal post)

Olberman to replace Russert? No. I love Olberman, but I hate him. Yes, he's on my side, but he's too much like Bill O'Reily. If I hate O'Reily's tactics I can't like them when Keith uses them just because I agree with him on most issues.

The Daily News today was promoting Dick Gregory and I think that would be a good choice but maybe too safe. The News said you couldn't use Chris Mathews or Olberman because they are to polemical. I agree about Olberman but not about Mathews, whom I think has a simlar doggedness to his questioning (though whereas Russert could be compared to a Lab Mathews is more of a terrier). Personally, though I expect them to alternate anchors for a while, I'd like to see Brokaw do it for two awhile (maybe as long as a year) while they get through the grieving process they are obviously going through and then make a new hire. He might even do it indefinitely.

Here's two possibilities that I think should be considered along with Mathews, on from outside NBC (at least currently) and one from inside. Gwen Ifil has experience on MTP, having worked for Russert before going on to anchor The News Hour. She might be enticed back for the right package. Having gone from MTP to the News Hour of PBS marks her as a respectable journalist. As a woman of color she would offer a new dimension to MTP which, while taking it in a different direction from Russert and his all-Amkerican working class Irish Catholic former democratic staffer north-East liberal persona (this runs the risk, however, of making MTP look mroe elitist than it already is) (Mathews, by the way, has similar roots to Russert's). ON the other end of the spectrum, and a riskier choice from the current NBC talent pool that would really pay off, would be to give the show to Joe Scarborough. While he is happily ensconced as MSNBC's morning anchor he might go to the most prestigious news chair in the country if it were offered. Scarborough has real baggage, having been a strident conservative talk-show host in the Limbaugh/Hannity mold, but he always had a touch of dignity and of class that those two lack. As a Republican and a former congressman from the Gingrich Revolution, he would definitely silence some critics who say the Sunday morning talk shows are too liberal. And I think he'd make an excellent interviewer. He would be fair to all comers but tough. Scarborough has a definite streak of toughness to him. And, much like Russert, Scarborough has a working class, family values, plain folks sort of appeal while also having the insights of a well-connected political insider.

You read it here first.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Holy Crap

Tim Russert died this afternoon. It just hit the internet. Holy Crap. He was not only a great force in the news but in politics as well. This is going to shake up the campaign a bit, as his loss creates a vaccume to be filled, both on Meet the Press and as a debate moderator. Wow.

New Hits From The Supremes

Well, the Supremes have issued their Gitmo ruling and, as expected, it was a 5-4 decision upholding the rule of law against the dictatorial tryanny endorsed by the Bush administration. Or something hyperbolic like that. Anyway, the usual players lined up in the usual places and, as usual, there were three or four opinions written. Scalia, the mosthyperbolic jurrist on the court, said that more Americans will surely be killed as a result of the ruling. As if that was the issue being argued. This is the same guy who says that torture is constitutional because it's no actually a punishment. Is this guy on crack or what?

But the real treat is awaiting the court's Second ammendment ruling, which will come any day now (likely it will be the last ruling they hand down for the year). It seems pretty clear that they will vote against the District of Columbia and uphold the rights of individuals to keep and bear arms. Good for them. We are now just waiting to see how far they will go with ther ruling.

At this point I'm just waiting to see how many concuring and dissenting opinions there are. I could actually see as many as seven. But in the interest of gaming I'm making a proclaimation:

I'm setting the over/under at four.

That should get the action going.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

I Got A Basketball Jones

It is one of the best times of the year. Last night the Redwings clinched the Stanley Cup. I don't know why, but I always seem to be watching when the Redwings win the cup. It's not because of Hanna. Hanna used to work for the wings. But last time I watched them clinch I was on an airplane and she wasn't with me. No, it's something about the wings. One thing is that they are the same team. These guys are old. Half that team was the same team that Hanna worked for eleven years ago. And what an amazing game. I am shocked that, even on the losing team, Fleury didn't win the Smythe trophy. He was awesome. And the game was awesome.

Tonight though.... Let me say the hype is worth it. No, this isn't Magic and Bird. Tony Cornheiser said tonight that Kobe is the only player in these finals who could have started on those teams from the 80s. And he's right. Kobe would start ahead of Michael Cooper. Kobe is that great. Kevin Garnet would have to start in front of either Bird or McHale. Sorry, but fat chance. Watching those great finals in the 80s is when I fell in love with basketball. Before the Kings came to Sac-town I became a Lakers fan, and to be a Lakers fan in the 80s was a lot of fun. The Lakers and the Celtics *are* basketball. They have 31 titles between them (Fifteen for the lakers, sixteen for the Celtics) and have met in the finals ten times, including seven times between 1959 and 1969 and three times in the 80s. This is as good as Yankees vs. Red Socks, only Celtics and Lakers get to play each other in the finals. This is the best thing to happen to basketball since Michael Jordan retired.

And oh! I would love to see it go seven.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Obama Mama

Michelle Obama looked hot last night. She's pretty high on the MILF list. That's all I have to say about that.

Now that it appears to be maybe kind of over and Barak Obama is the "resumptive nominee of the Democratic Party," it's time to take stock. A lot was made about how "historic" this is, that a black man is the nominee of the Democratic Party. Many people are hoping that this will finally prove that race has changed in America.

Well maybe, but not from where I stand.

This is not a triumph for African Ameircans. Nor is it a triumph for the children of Kenyan imigrants, people born in Hawaii, people raised in Kansas, or people living in Chicago.

No. This is a triumph for me.

Or rather, this is a trimph for my generation. He will be the first major party nominee from *my* time. And I am proud. My time--our time--has come. Technically me and Obama (he was born in 61, I was born in 64) are baby boomers. But we aren't. We don't fit into the traditional baby boom demo. If he's like me, he remembers and was influenced by the peace movement and Watergate, but as kids we didn't have a stake in them. He has preached this whole campaign how he is from a different generation than Hilary Clinton, a post bab-boom generation who were not invovled in the struggles of the sixties and seventies and so can make a break from the scrched earth politics of that era. Patty Hearst and Huey Newton and Bob Dylan and Jerry Garcia and Abbie Hoffman are the contemporaries of Hilary Clinton. Not me and not Barack. We are different. I've always identified partially with the boomers but more so with Gen X. I suspect the same is true for Barack. And our struggles are diffeent. They center around Ronald Regan--either as the patron saint of the New Republican Party or else as the enemy against whom we struggled. Our soundtrack includes Springsteen and U2 and Waren Zevon and maybe, just maybe, Led Zeplin. You see, people have a name for our generation, that group born on the tail end of the baby boom but who didn't really experience Elvis or Ike or Viet Nam (doesn't it always come back to Viet Nam?).

Yes, Barack Obama's triumph is the triumph of the Dazed and Confused generation.

Never seen *Dazed and Confused?* Watch it. It's my generations *American Grafiti*. and it's fantastic.

So fire up the bong and lets get this party started.