Charles D. Holland - Another Jayson Blair?
All the facts are not in, but according to Saturday's Los Angeles Times, Writers Guild president Charles D. Holland is a big fat liar. He claims to have played football in college on a scholarship and to have served in the Green Berets. There's no evidence to support either claim. In fact, it looks like they are false.
Jayson Blair made-up many of his stories for the New York Times and Dean Wakefield plagiarized for The San Francisco Chronicle.
Blair, Wakefield and Holland are black. Do I contend that blackness leads to lying? Of course not. Do I contend that blacks are more likely than other groups to lie? No. Do I contend that my own journalistic record is spotless? No.
But like other persecuted minority groups in history, some blacks in America (who generally are no longer persecuted for their skin color) think it is great fun and a wonderful game to lie to whitey. And many whites think that is OK too.
I don't believe that most blacks think this way. And I do believe that a similar percentage of my own group, Jews, believe that it is OK to lie to the goyim and cheat them because of the past suffering of Jews.
Because of affirmative action and other factors, liberals in particular and many other parts of American society, hold blacks to a lower moral standard than others. So when blacks rape, pillage and murder, such as in the LA Riots, we are supposed to understand their rage rather than hold them morally accountable for their behavior. This lowering of standards may be reflected in this sorry Charles D. Holland spectacle at the Writers Guild, which seems to be composed of 90% plus of leftists. During the Cold War, the Writers Guild had a significant portion of communist supporters.
Holland graduated from Harvard Law School. I strongly suspect that standards were lowered to allow him to get into Harvard and to graduate from Harvard based on his skin color. He became the showrunner of JAG, I bet, in part because of his skin color. He also became president of the Writers Guild, in part, I bet, because of his color.
So as the benefit of much affirmative action, why should Holland not expect affirmative action vis-a-vis the truth? He can always claim "racism," if he's ever attacked.
This whole sickening profile in WGA's in-house magazine "Written By" would nauseate the average person who was not the consistent recipient of affirmative action.
Over a year ago, I interviewed another black producer on JAG who never gave off the slightest hint of boasting or lying - Charles Johnson.
Connected to this story is a white TV producer who gave a leading role on one of his series to the son of a Mafia figure he owed huge gambling debts.
Tyler Durden Inc. Renews Battle On Writers Guild President Charles Holland
Soldier of Fortune Left for dead, Charles D. Holland survived to become a football star, Green Beret, Harvard lawyer, studio V.P., and JAG showrunner
Written by Dinah Eng (From the September 2002 issue of "Written By," the self-promoting magazine of the Writers Guild of America)
Like most people on the West Coast, Holland was asleep on the morning of September 11. A friend in the military called and woke Holland, who is a former U.S. Army Military Intelligence Officer. He turned on the television just before the second plane hit the towers. Holland, who was writing for Soul Food: The Series at that time, then had a phone conversation with executive producer Felicia Henderson about the need to shut down production in the wake of the tragedy.
"The shock was enough for me to realize that I knew people in the Pentagon who might have died, and that was a sinking feeling," says Holland. "My ex-wife is a reservist, and I was able to find out within the hour that she was not there during the time. But there were other people who did not make it. I lost someone I went to jump school with."
He wanted to fight. Somebody. Some place. "With 9/11, one thing that went through my mind is that I'm missing it all. I was trained to really defend my country, and I'm missing that."
Holland paces as he talks on the phone in his Sunset-Gower Studios lot office, juggling questions from writers, technical advisors, production assistants. Although he's the new showrunner of CBS' long-running drama JAG, a gold earring dangles from his left ear lobe. Shaped like a Samurai sword, it glints with defiance against any corporate style. But the former Harvard lawyer is also quick to laugh, blunt yet tactful, and clearly relishes being in command.
Having left the Army as a First Lieutenant, he knows what it means to manage up and supervise down. JAG had struggled until its initial cancellation by NBC in the 1995-96 season. After moving to CBS, the only military drama on air climbed from 68th in the Nielsen ratings to a 17th-place tie with Frasier last season, a rise that some media watchers attribute to patriotic fervor in the aftermath of September 11.
Holland joined JAG last October as a consulting producer, after two years on Showtime's Soul Food: The Series. His initial script assignment on the Navy drama was to write "Tribunal," an episode about a military trial of a suspected al Qaeda terrorist. Holland, who remains a member of the California Bar, says, "When I came on the show, Stephen Zito, the head writer at the time, thought I would be ideal to write the script. I couldn't wait to do it. The story was [JAG creator and executive producer] Don Bellisario's idea. The research staff gave me a huge notebook of information on tribunals, and I read the Manual for Court Martials and Geneva Convention, things I hadn't thought about for a while."
PREPARING THE DEFENSE
In the episode Adm. A.J. Chegwidden (played by John M. Jackson) and Cmdr. Sturgis Turner (Scott Lawrence) defend a suspected leader of the al Qaeda, while Cmdr. Harmon Rabb Jr. (David James Elliott) and Lt. Col. Sarah MacKenzie (Catherine Bell) prosecute the case.
To formulate the defense strategy, Holland called on a mentor he'd apprenticed for in Harvard Law School: famed attorney Alan Dershowitz. "Alan takes cases on appeal dealing with civil liberties," says Holland, who worked for Dershowitz for two years, "and we used to get hundreds of letters a week from prisoners, asking him to take their case. I asked him what his dream defense strategy for an al Qaeda prisoner would be. He said he'd work to get any confession [made under excessive duress] thrown out."
For example, while intelligence officials might use truth serum on a suspected terrorist in wartime to learn where nuclear weapons are hidden, it would violate the spirit of the Fifth Amendment to routinely use truth serum or torture to gain a confession from a suspected murderer. The Fifth Amendment deals with the rights of accused criminals, with due process of law, and states that no one may be forced to testify as a witness against himself.
In the "Tribunal" script, defense attorney Adm. Chegwidden argues that the confession of the suspected terrorist on trial should be excluded from consideration because "13 days of torture to obtain an involuntary confession shocks the conscience, violating both the spirit and the letter of the Fifth Amendment." Then prosecuting attorney Cmdr. Rabb responds, ". . . we are at war. The Fifth Amendment doesn't apply to our enemies. The very idea is ridiculous."
The judges on the tribunal rule that "the government is correct that the Fifth Amendment does not apply here," says Holland. "However, we're excluding Mister Atef's involuntary confession as lacking probative value to a reasonable person under the circumstances."
In addition to consulting Dershowitz, Holland sought advice on military law and the context of the case from one of the show's technical advisors, who used to be the assistant JAG (Judge Advocate General). "Then the Pentagon had a group of lawyers read through an early draft," remembers Holland. "We have a public affairs official there who always gets copies of our scripts. The military doesn't have veto power, but they will tell us if they think something is incorrect. The first two years of the show, they didn't want to cooperate with us, but then they had a sea change. A technical advisor may think something's embarrassing or incorrect, but we may keep it in the script anyway because it's good drama. It's helpful to have the Pentagon's input. There are so many technical things with the Navy and the law. At least when you have technical advice, you can make decisions from knowledge and not from ignorance."
After reading "Tribunal," the only feedback Pentagon lawyers were specific about was the description of what an actual tribunal would look like, according to Holland. The military attorneys said the trial wouldn't be held like a normal court martial and would probably take place in Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. base on Cuba, or an aircraft carrier. Holland chose the aircraft carrier for the setting of his tribunal and spun a tale that wove both fact and fiction in ways that surprised many.
"The revised rules for military tribunals were published during the second day of shooting [March 21], and our guesses were right," says Holland. "What was spooky was the guy I made up as a terrorist then got caught. He had the same background and even looked like the guy we cast [Marc Casabani]." (Abu Zubaydah, thought to be al Qaeda's chief of operations, is the highest ranking terrorist in Osama bin Laden's network now known to be in U.S. custody. Zubaydah was captured March 28 in a Pakistani raid and continues to be interrogated by U.S. officials.)
When "Tribunal" aired April 30, Holland says the show was "deluged by the media, starting with the New York Times, which had a significant ax to grind," according to the showrunner. "There was some sensitivity that I was getting an inside track to serious things that journalists weren't. We didn't have any information that the media didn't have, but reporters always cut out the part of my interview that said, 'Then I made it up!'"
Along with the media critics, military contacts complained as well. "I made the strongest argument [in the script] I could that the fighters in al Qaeda were freedom fighters and not terrorists, and the military thought I did too good a job [in the defense strategy dialogue]," Holland says, shrugging and smiling at the same time. "Part of being a lawyer is arguing things you don't believe in order to win a case. It's so important to have both sides told. My belief is that suspected terrorists would get a fair trial here. We have so many differences in this country, but we have great tolerance. We have checks and balances, and the system works."
After writing "Tribunal," Holland was asked to script the season finale, "Enemy Below," which continues the story of what happens after the terrorist in "Tribunal" is convicted and sentenced to death. In "Enemy Below" the convicted terrorist's brother is involved in an effort to attack a U.S. aircraft carrier.
Holland's experiences in the military changed his view of the world and of himself. Born in Chicago, Holland grew up in a tough housing project with his younger brother and mother, who worked as a legal secretary. He also has a half-sister from his mother's second marriage.
"I never knew my father," says Holland. "My mother worked three jobs because I liked books. I had three sets of encyclopedias, which was a lot for poor children. Back then law firms would hire people to work in shifts to type things and prepare cases, and my mother would work those extra shifts."
While reconstruction work continues on the damaged Pentagon (above), soldiers honor those killed at the site after a memorial service (below).
Holland, as book smart as he was street savvy, played football and ran track in high school. Although he never belonged to a gang, there was little separation between those who signed up for trouble and those who didn't. Everyone knew everyone, and one day, when Holland was 14, trouble found him.
"My best friend was doing something with the wrong girl, a gangbanger's girl," remembers Holland. "I defended my friend and humiliated the gangbanger, and when I wasn't ready, he came back with his gang. I was attacked and left for dead." All but two of Holland's ribs were broken, his nose was broken and he suffered stab wounds that, left untreated, could have resulted in his bleeding to death.
Holland's family, fearful that the gang would return to kill the injured boy, spirited him off to Danville, Illinois, to recuperate with his grandparents. He grimaces, saying the stay with his relatives is not a happy memory, but it was the catalyst that awakened the writer within. "While I was laid up, I had to stay still for long periods of time, and writing was an emotional outlet. It became a thing I did for myself. I'd always make up stories about other people and being in other places. Back home, the savagery of the attack had touched off a war, and the guys who did it were killed or left town. People thought I had died, so when I came back [from Danville], people thought I was cool. I got all this respect and deference, and all I'd done was survive."
He achieved far more than basic survival skills--Holland rebuilt his body into an athlete's, earning a football scholarship to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. There he encountered another setback: His dreams of turning pro turned to ash after suffering a severe shoulder injury during a game in his sophomore year. He lost the football scholarship and paid for his remaining undergraduate education by signing on with Army ROTC.
"ROTC seemed like a snap to me--I already knew how to fight," says Holland, laughing. "The silly, but conscious, reason I joined the military was to be a hero. I was assigned to military intelligence and got a chance to find out what a lot of guys wonder about: How would I do in combat? I found out what the real essence of being a hero in combat is. It's really just about showing up."
He abruptly stops talking, reins in his turbulent emotions, and explains: "You show up when there's a chance people may die. You show up and watch other people die."
Holland declines to share what he did as a military intelligence officer in the Seventh Special Forces Group but says, "I can tell you I was based in Fort Bragg. When I served, I went other places. It gave me an appreciation for other ways of life. I was in places where people feared a knock on the door, and you couldn't walk outside without fearing snipers.
"I never went to Afghanistan, but when the attacks happened, I sure wanted to. I oftentimes hope the things I do on this show contribute. Now, somebody else has to show up for me, and there's a degree of guilt about that."
Although he no longer wears the uniform, an unabashed love of country is clear. "The military has become a subculture in this country that people don't know much about," says Holland. "What's good is that the military is not as isolated. At least there's respect now. When I hear the national anthem, I don't think I hear it the way other people do. When I go to ball games, I always stand at attention when it's played. A lot of my friends used to tease me about that. Not anymore."
He pauses once again, almost overcome with emotion, then takes a breath and continues: "Let patriotism be a fad, if that's what it takes to let people be patriotic. You can be a liberal or progressive or a conservative and also be a patriot. It's not inconsistent with ideological beliefs. Today, anybody can have a flag on their car without feeling odd about it."
But while he maintains strong friendships and good memories from those years, he also left military life a bit disillusioned. "At the time [he left the military], I didn't think there was enough accountability for covert operations. Now, technology allows real-time oversight. You can micromanage operations by satellite. But back then, you could make decisions, and what happened was what you said happened. I learned the world was far more complicated than I had thought it was. Many times, I really wanted to be a super hero. Yet I felt like I was on the bad guys' side when I looked at the regimes we were supporting. You'd see some people living like kings, while other people lived in squalor."
So Holland decided to get a masters in public administration, thinking he'd pursue a government career to create social change. Along the way he also decided to become a lawyer. At age 22, he was accepted into Harvard Law School. While studying, he served a year and a half on active duty and later eight years as a Military Police Officer in the Massachusetts National Guard and Army Reserve.
"I learned that I didn't know anything," says Holland of his Harvard years. "It occurred to me I'd have to be willing to give up my life just to move the pile a centimeter in government. When you're in the projects as a kid, and it's 20 below, you watch TV and see [California scenes with] sunshine and beautiful women. It was a fantasy to live and work in L.A., so after law school I came here. I'm unconventional, so I was drawn to the entertainment business."
After landing a job as a studio lawyer at Twentieth Century Fox, Holland rose rapidly through the ranks. When the urge to try screenwriting hit, he couldn't convince anyone that he could write and practice law at the same time. So he gave up his position as vice president of business affairs at Fox and started writing feature scripts. After three unproduced screenplays for three different studios, he turned to television.
"My first credit was for an episode of Walker, Texas Ranger," says Holland. "My first staff job was on New York Undercover, which was the beginning of a very good run." He quickly knocks on the wood of his office desk. The run has included writing and producing such series as Murder One, Profiler, Vengeance Unlimited, and The Strip.
Holland's legal expertise was also tapped by the WGAw for last year's contract negotiations. Holland, vice president of the Guild, served as cochair (with then Secretary-Treasurer Michael Mahern) of the negotiating committee. "I had a legal background for talking with the Guild lawyers, and I had a context for what the other side was saying from my days at Fox. Writers are exceedingly opinionated, and it taxed one's leadership skills to come up with unanimous decisions and pull people together who don't always agree. But we were able to act with a great deal of discipline, and I had some small part in that."
Victoria Riskin, WGAw Guild president, calls Holland "a remarkable combination of street kid, Green Beret, and Harvard Law School graduate, which means whenever he tackles any problem, it's done with fearlessness, modified with his analytical, legal expertise." Riskin, who has worked with Holland on Guild matters for two years, adds, "He doesn't suffer fools gladly. Yet when he smiles, there's this warm, boyish look that's such a delight. It cracks the seriousness of the moment."
His achievements should make it obvious why Holland, a co-executive producer, filled the showrunner's slot on JAG when Stephen Zito resigned. However, some refer to his skin color as a reason, causing the Harvard Warrior to rise in his own defense.
"I've pushed hard for diversity in this business, but I wasn't hired because of that," says Holland, passionately. "Don [Bellisario] is a conservative, and people tend to equate conservativism with bigotry, and that's not true either. There are two main reasons I was hired. We both have a military background. Don's an ex-Marine. He understands what I'm saying, and I get what he's saying. On paper I'm the most qualified person. I've been a number two for four years. I'm a former military person and a lawyer. It doesn't have anything to do with being African-American, and that's the way it should be. To me, this is what it means to be working to get people the opportunity to do things like this, regardless of race or religion. We have to get to the point where it's not that odd [to have a showrunner of color].
"I've always counseled lower-ranking minorities that there's a perception people have of what people in certain positions are supposed to look like, and rarely is it a minority person," Holland continues. "I tell them, 'You have to create an image for yourself of that competent person.' I remember [Supreme Court Justice] Thurgood Marshall visiting us in law school and talking about how he'd earned his place in legal circles but was always reminded when he tried to get a taxi that he was a black guy. I certainly want to do what I can to move diversity forward in Hollywood." Conflicts are never easy to resolve, but if Holland has anything to say about it, solutions will be found. And Holland's changes won't just be on paper.
Luke Ford's Las Vegas Marriage Anulled
Avoiding Pre-Marital Sex
There was an old sailor named Tex
WGA Leader's Background Is Questioned
I had my first dream in a while last night. I was walking around my neighborhood. Some young black men pull up in a cadillac, jump out of the car, flick out their switchblades and chase me.
Khunrum writes: "That must be a retro-dream Luke. Even blacks know it is not cool to drive around in Cadillacs anymore. You sure it wasn't a stolen BMW? And switchblades? You must be having a "Blackboard Jungle" fantasy. Today they shoot you with a 9mm."
Wholesome, heart-warming film for the whole family. David Poland is right again. I had tears in my eyes through most of the film. I loved it, like I loved In America, Lost in Translation.
The big fish that carries you away. That's Christian symbolism, right? I know we Jews have it in Jonah, but the salvific thing is more Christian. Jews don't get saved, they earned their way. Give me what I deserve, God. That's my attitude. And give Hitler his just deserts too. And Madelaine O'Hair and Tracy Wilkinson.
Axle writes: "Luke, didn't you find it difficult to buy into the feel-good life-affirming nature of "Big Fish" knowing that Billy Crudup left his pregnant girlfriend for that slut Claire Danes?"
That's the exact point my friend made who did not get into the movie as much as I did. That was the first I heard of that, so no, it did not affect me.
Blood Bath At Writers Guild
A lot of people got fired at the Guild this week.
Berkely Barb writes: "Dear Luke: In regards to your posting from Tyler Durden (hint: Brad Pitt once played him); Field Marshal Cinque, aka Donald Defreeze of the SLA, did not coin 'death to the fascist insect that preys on the life of the people.' That's an old Maoist line from some other commie."
One side, Tyler Durden Inc, writes:
Greg writes: The slogan ''death to the fascist insect that preys on the life of the people.' came from Eldridge Cleaver. This was first written about in the old Ramparts Magazine by David Horowitz in an article "Revolution on Ice" described in Horowitz's book "Radical Son." The SLA slogan obviously lacked focus group testing but the use of "insect" came from Eldridge Cleaver embracing a quote of Lenin, "We must exterminate the insect opposition." In this sense it is frightening if Lenin's statement gave a green light to the intimidation and murder tactics in the old Soviet Union.
Jackie's Wet Dream About Luke
Cathy says the water and paralysation have something to do with sex. She said they are pretty standard sexual metaphors in dreams.
Cathy writes Luke: "Forgot to tell Jackie that a pool is of course only drained when some little kid has pooped in it, something she possibly remembers from her Ohio childhood. And since you were the one standing waist deep in the water, well..."
Jackie writes: "My interpretation? Luke emptying bowels represents his insatiable need for self-exposition. By Luke's own admission (when he was trying to justify shafting you for presents at every birthday and holiday), he considers each of his blog entries a gift to you, Cathy. With the feces, you have been bequeathed the ultimate gift of self. And I bet he didn't even bother to wrap it."
Cecile says: "I think it means that we're more shallow than Luke and he's too concentrated in his religious and conflicted self to allow himself to have a little fun and take risks--which you were taking by diving back again. Waist-deep means that Luke already has tried to go that far but is scared or embarassed to go shallower, lighten up a bit."
Reporting On Celebrities -- The Ethics Of News Coverage
Tuesday afternoon at USC, I attended a conference put on by USC's journalism program and the Poynter Institute (Jim Romenesko).
It was a well-intentioned program but it lacked the munchies of the similar show on civil liberties vs the fight on terrorism of several months back.
I didn't see one person who appeared to have a good time but I didn't have anything better to do.
I've never seen most of the participants, including:
* Dean Baquet, Los Angeles Times managing editor. Sharp dresser, good looking, articulate, smooth, seems like a great man to work for.
* Michael Parks, former Los Angeles Times editor. Short with a gut. Formidably smart.
* Tim Rutten, LA Times media critic. Fat, bearded, huge gut. Smart and consistently wrong. Said a lot of things that sounded weighty but didn't add value to discussion.
* Gregory Favre, "Distinguished Fellow in Journalism Values" at Poynter. Old man. I asked him how does one become a "Distinguished Fellow in Journalism Values"? He says you grow old.
* Aly Colon, "Director of Diversity Program, Ethics Group Leader." I wanted to hate him for that sort of speciality but he was a good moderator in second panel.
* Jay Harris. Sharp, pointed, vivid, funny, former tabloid newspaper editor and now "Director for the Study of Journalism and Democracy." I'd love to work for someone like Jay (he's black). He was dynamic compared to his fellow moderator of the first panel:
* Bob Steele, "The Nelson Poynter Scholar for Journalism Values and Senior Facultry, Ethics." His questions were often vague, general and did not generate lively discussion.
* Peggy Jo Abraham, news director at E!. Seems like a contradiction in terms, but she gave a spirited defense of her work. You'd think that Peggy (20 years experience in local TV news) and her ilk would be thrilled to sit on a panel with the serious players from the LA Times who overshadowed everyone with their seriousness, responsibility and rootedness in reality (as opposed to the academics like Kelly McBride (cutie) who were more theoretical).
* Bob Long, news director at KNBC. Wore a bow tie but was arresting and provocative and clear and focused in his traditional news mission.
* Marjie Lundstrom, columnist for the Sacramento Bee. Serious but fun. Sharp. She didn't think the LA Times should publish a well-sourced compelling 35-inch theoretical story on Britney's Spear's one day wedding.
* Bob Scheer. I loathe the man's politics and most of his writings that I've read, but the guy always adds color, excitement, life, interest, and focused provocation to every panel I've seen him on. He was the most entertaining speaker on the program.
* Ken Baker, West Coast editor of US. Looked about 25 years old. What could someone from such a shallow magazine say that might be of interest to thoughtful people? Ken said the leading determinant of most of his magazine's stories in the past two years was -- Is there a picture?
I sit next to two female journalism professors from Cal State Northridge. One specializes in leftist publications.
USC English professor Leo Braudy says we've had an explosion of the anecdotal lead in the past 15 years, whereby abstract stories are brought to life with examples of individuals.
Scheer says he never noticed any pressure during his LA Times tenure to cover celebrities. That's something felt more by magazines and TV news.
"Every time I interviewed a celebrity, I felt I had good motives. In every case, it ended up a shameful exercise."
Scheer gave an example of interviewing Paul Newman for Esquire. Newman was intimately familiar with nuclear weapons and nuclear power but Esquire cut that stuff and used the headline: "Paul Newman: Confessions of a lousy lover."
Dean Baquet is most impressive in the way he purses his lips. He stays silent for first hour of panel discussion. He hangs around for the whole four hour program.
The LA Timesmen had the most gravitas. They were serious, thoughtful and responsible. Smart people in Southern California have always read the LA Times.
Tim Rutten said he was running the Times the Sunday the Gary Hart - Monkey Business - Donna Rice scandal broke in Florida where two Miami Herald reporters had staked out Hart and caught him with a woman other than his wife.
Rutten's initial reaction was that it was the end of journalism as he had known it and he put the story on page 14. When the first editions of the NYT and WP came out with the story on page one, the LAT moved the story to the front page.
E!'s Peggy says in local TV news she was going over bedsheets with a special instrument looking for semen. So E! wasn't so bad after that.
LAT's sports editor Bill Dwyre: During days of the war in Iraq, the most visited stories on LATimes.com were Lakers stories. "Kobe Byrant [rape case] is the worst story I've ever had to cover as far as passing a smell test."
Jay Harris: "There's nothing so humbling as having journalism done to you."
Dean Baquet said the Times had over 10,000 cancelled subscriptions over its Arnold groping stories.
"I don't edit the paper for what the readers want. I edit it for what's important."
Dean Baquet's favorite phrase: "Let's have a conversation."
It's easy to make fun of that approach, but I like having a boss who listens to me and engages in a "conversation." Baquet is popular among those who've worked for and with him.
A raucous slim old blonde woman near the front keeps interrupting the proceedings to rant about George Bush and corporations.
The audience reaches its largest mass at about 60 persons, half of them USC journalism students.
Ed Asner is thoughtful. He says our society is in moral decline. Marjie Lundstrom says those comments would be her lead.
Bob Long says KNBC does not do celebrity news. They cover the news and when celebrities are accused of crimes, that is news.
Dean Baquet regrets he didn't pursue the Britney Spears marriage story more aggressively.
Michael Parks says the LA Times has an editorial budget of over $120 million.
Ross Johnson asks Baquet about the groping stories. What if there were only two and they were 20 years old. Is there any statute of limitations? Baquet says there's no statute of limitations in journalism. If there were only two groping stories from over 20 years ago, his paper would've published them.
Bob Long: We covered Sacramento in the 1960s and 1970s and most of it was crap. That's why we left.
A few angry leftist ethnic journalists always show up to these programs to rant.
Khunrum writes: *sigh* Remember ye good old days when Luke would come back from Las Vegas with a black eye and court summons?
Aghast writes: Stop, I'm getting nostalgic. Now it's nothing but boring seminars.
Cathy Seipp's Indignities
Cathy Seipp writes on her blog:
Another Reason Why I Hate The Jewish Journal, The New York Times And The Rest Of The News Media Mindlessly Plugging Rabbi Steven Leder's New Book Without The Least Investigation Of The Author
There are few things the news media, including the Jewish press, love more than plugging books by liberal rabbis on the evils of materialism.
I read a long congratulatory piece by Amy Wallace in The New York Times Sunday Styles section a few weeks ago praising how brave Rabbi Leder is to write against money obsession in a money-obsessed synagogue (Wilshire Blvd Temple, doomed to the ash heap of Jewish history due to its lack of observance of Jewish Law).
Has any journalist ever thought to investigate what Rabbi Leder's relationships are like with the people who work for him, including contractors? But to look into this would go against the whole tone the media has already established for this book and might require some independent thought and investigation.
Skippy writes: That article in Jewish Journal is a hoot. To think that people are being asked to make do with a mere $10,000for a bar mitzvah. What a sacrifice. Not even Abraham was called upon to make such a sacrifice. Where is the justice? "Tikkun olam" - a phrase that tells you the author is full of s---. If these rich jews want to engage in "tikkun olan," they can start by giving me a break.
I Am A Fool
Through my study this past week of King Lear in particular and Shakespeare in general, I've discovered the best title for my role in the universe -- court jester.I read a book on archetypes a few weeks ago and I scored highest on the role for fool. I've feel that I've gotten to say many things over the years that others would not be allowed to say because I've always played the fool. I've never claimed to be smart or successful or rich or even a good journalist. I'm a fool. From the book THE FRIENDLY SHAKESPEARE by Norrie Epstein (I feel like most of this describes my approach to life):
Reflections On A Week In Las Vegas
I had my own suite in the Venetian and only left it a handful of times to take a wholesome walk down the Las Vegas Strip.
* Thursday, the only meal I had all day was a vegetable wrap at the burrito stand. The nice Mexican man wore fresh plastic gloves before taking my order, and then, before adding each item, he asked if that was what I wanted. It was a fantastic culinary experience.
Friday, after my continental breakfast, I look forward all day to another wrap. This time, the different Mexican man, at 3:45PM, uses his bare hands to serve the food, plops everything on the wrap without asking me, including vegetables which I hate, and I took it without protest. I had a few bites and then threw it all away. A waste of $6:40 and a depressing way to end my day.
* I cried a river of tears over the rejections I received in Vegas. In fact, I holed up in my hotel room Friday afternoon, determined not to come out until some woman is willing to marry me. I know I shouldn't take this rejection personally but I can't help it. It cuts me to the quick. I'm just too sensitive.
* A billboard for "Las Vegas Escorts" stands outside my hotel. I call and order a nice girl. (Why don't more men who use escort services make their selections based on character rather than looks?) When she arrives to my suite, I discuss this week's Torah portion with her before popping the question - would she be willing to convert to Orthodox Judaism before joining me in holy matrimony. The answer was no.
* On the Sabbath, I joined the Mexicans on the strip handing out fliers, only my leaflets contained Bible verses and instructions on how to be saved.
At noon Satuday, I saw somebody I know from the Orthodox community younger than me, but I didn't approach him as he's never friendly to me. He was walking around in a t-shirt bareheaded. There were no synagogues within walking distance of the strip.
* I was with crowds of people yet often felt lonely. For the first time in my memory when I've been on the road, I called people at home in Los Angeles for solace.
* This was my fourth trip to Vegas.
* Contrary to rumor, Las Vegas is not a hotbed of intellectual activity. During my six days there, I did not see one person read a book. The lighting in the hotel rooms is bad, so to read a book, you have to go into the bathroom (lighting is good there so females can make themselves look pretty).
* I was introduced to three pretty girls who turned out to pack male equipment. And I don't mean Gameboys.
* My friend Robert started with the rock band Van Halen in 1978 and worked with them through "Hot For Teacher" in 1983. He produced such videos as "Jump."
"That was the true rockn'roll party time. We were all participating in that outlaw behavior.
"It was a career to party. Whether I wanted a B12 shot or not, when we were on the road, I'd get a shot of B12 in one butt of my ass and a shot of penicillin in the other. And you do find time to sleep. I never stayed up all night."
* I had to sleep in a bed all week. Am I ever glad to be back to the comfort of my cold hard floor. I hate those yucky sheets and blankets.
* I must stop allowing myself to be treated like crap by idiot help. I ordered a tropical smoothie for $5:18 in Phoenix Sunday afternoon. The sign said you got a free boost. I wanted a protein boost. The Jamba Juice chains always ask you what boost you want. This lady did not ask. I did not speak up. And I got my smoothie without my protein.
Master and Commander
Dave Deutsch writes:
Luke Has Blogasites, and Boy do They Itch (even this is a manifestation)
Friday, January 09, 2004
A Small Mistake by the LA Times Causes a Big Problem Back at the HovelThe last couple of days I've been hard at work selling Luke Ford's possessions (save his van and computer) on eBay. So far I've made $0.17 -- not as much as I'd expected. So I decided this morning just to haul everything to the city dump. On my way back to the hovel I picked up a copy of the Los Angeles Times and came across this odd item under "Corrections":
Fuke LordAppropriately there was no apology from the Times for such an insignificant mistake. I continued on redecorating the hovel forgetting about the matter entirely. Imagine my shock when you know who walked in the front door completely recovered after his brief hospital stay. I fell to my knees crying with joy "The great Prophet has arisen!" (I suppose Mr Ford's constant comparisons of himself with Jesus Christ registered somewhere in my subconscious mind.) I clutched at his feet only to be viciously kicked in the mouth -- I don't know how I'm going to pay for all the dental work I now need.
Mr Ford was annoyed, to say the least. He started screaming that I was part of some vast left-wing conspiracy to negate his conservative moral influence over America (and the world) by pronouncing him prematurely dead. I said, "I read about your passing in the LA Times, what was I supposed to think?" He explained that the Times employs a bunch of self-identified unreconstructed Marxists like Robert Scheer and thus couldn't be trusted. I replied that I was just a foreigner and didn't know these things. Then I promised (i.e., lied) to redouble my efforts, etc., etc. Unfortunately, all my self-interested sucking up did me no good this time -- I think people are starting to see through my ridiculous, disingenuous obsequiousness.
Anyhoo, it looks like I won't be taking over LF.net after all. In fact, beginning at 4:30 Saturday morning I won't be staying at the hovel any longer. Woe is me! Now what am I to do?
Thursday, January 08, 2004
Luke Ford (1966-2004) R.I.P.You may be wondering why LF.net has not been updated for the past few days. Unfortunately, I have terrible news to report: Luke Ford died early Wednesday morning, during his hourly sponge bath, following complications from what was at first thought to be a mild heart attack suffered after reading an LA CityBeat column last weekend. Suffice to say, I and Mr Ford's other friend (New York architect Art Vandalay, who unfortunately I've been unable to contact with the news) are equally devastated.
Here is the shockingly short obituary from today's LA Times:
Luke FordI've already written to the LA Times to express my outrage. They couldn't mention that Mr Ford had turned his life around to become a Moral Leader and role model for potentially millions of people on the Internet? They couldn't mention that he went from making a living writing about porn to ministering to young beautiful female porn stars encouraging them to leave the sex trade and move into his hovel with him, not unlike the great 19th century British Prime Minister William Gladstone? (Admittedly, Gladstone had some success rescuing and rehabilitating London prostitutes, whereas Mr Ford failed even to get his favorite porn stars to respond to his many pathetic emails.)
As a way of dealing with my grief (which is, of course, immense) I will be closing down the Luke Ford Fan Blog and moving over to blog exclusively at LF.net (as "Luke Ford") within a day or two. My psychiatric support team here at the California Institute for the Criminally Insane says that this will be cathartic not just for me but also for Mr Ford's many (imaginary) moral disciples.
Luke Ford is Dead! Long Live Luke Ford!!
Goodbye and Take Care,
Luke Ford's Number One Fan
Tuesday, January 06, 2004
Las Vegas: Day OneDon't expect too much blogging for the next few days. I'm in Las Vegas on business. Mr Ford is still convalescing in hospital. I talked to his black nurse, Ms Shanikqua Washington, this afternoon. She had just given Mr Ford a sponge bath. I thanked her. She said it was "no big thing" and then dropped to the floor and thrashed about for 15 minutes, holding up her pinky, laughing hysterically and talking ebonics. Really, I couldn't understand what was so funny.
All I could come up with for LF.net was this:
Luke Ford To Marry In VegasThings are looking bleak for Our Moral Leader. Alas, I can't seem to resist sticking the knife in. Mr Ford has been relying on his baby face and "sweet, shy, and confused" act to get women for more than 20 years. But pushing 40 this isn't working anymore. Mr Ford is suffering from a debilitating accelerated aging disorder. Worse still, women have figured out his rap, and publicized their findings on the Internet. For example, "Vancouver Kendra" writes:
Luke has tons of women writing him. [Actually just 2 or 3 not counting Mr Ford himself.] It is all a big scam. He makes us think that he is an enigma, when in fact he is not. [Actually he tries to make women think he is the "Deon Sanders of lovers." No, seriously he does. Stop laughing!] This is how he attracts women. He relies on our maternal nurturing nature. We want to take care of him, because he seems sweet, shy, and confused. Don't let it fool you. Luke knows exactly what he is doing. In fact, if you live in the LA area, there is even a good chance that you will be able to sleep with him [A woman doesn't have to live in LA. Mr Ford is so desperate he will travel to you. All you have to do is send him an email, or mention him on your website or in a Usenet posting.] ... He will tell you about being a poor torn and conflicted Jewish boy, and then ask you to describe your ------- within the next breath. Don't be fooled ... Run, don't walk away from him.Another satisfied customer! I say "customer" because for years Mr Ford supported himself by banging elderly woman for $5 a pop -- not counting his half-priced Tuesday rate. No wonder our "house" looks like this.]
Sunday, January 04, 2004
Day Whatever (I've been doing so much blow recently I can't keep track anymore)Sorry I haven't been blogging much lately. But I've got a couple of good excuses this time. We've been experiencing some truly bizarre weather here in Beverly Hills the past couple of days. Last night it went down to -8C (-14C with the wind chill factor). I love this kind of weather (it's very, very unusual for the Southland) and I've been out and about taking advantage of the snow and ice by getting loaded and sledding down the busiest streets I can find.
Doesn't it always seem that just when you're on top of the world tragedy strikes? In this case I was reading an alt weekly online column (Mr Ford kindly allowed me 3 minutes on the computer to check up on current events) by a certain journalist (a former friend of Mr Ford's) who will go nameless. (For some reason I've been reading alternative weeklies a lot recently. You wouldn't believe the nonsense these journals publish, not to mention the language they allow -- not at all like my favorite periodical, Reader's Digest.) This column was about the best media moments of 2003. Because I don't follow popular culture, I was only skimming over the article when a certain passage caught my eye, to say the least. I won't go into details (perhaps you've just eaten) except to say that it takes a lot to shock me and this was perhaps the most shocking thing I have ever read on the Internet -- even more disgusting than the sort of material I use to read years ago on LukeFord.com (no relation to LukeFord.net, by the way; a totally different guy, according to Mr Ford). I re-read the passage over and over (at least 100 times) thinking to myself "what kind of mind thinks like this," and, more importantly, "how come I never meet these sort of women in real life?"
I was so shocked and appalled that Mr Ford rushed over to see what was wrong. I quickly shut-off the computer and suggested we go outside and do some sledding. "It doesn't snow often in Beverly Hills, so why not enjoy our good fortune?" I said. Mr Ford was afraid he might slip on the ice and crack his head open. Mr Ford is especially concerned about blows to the head since the time some thug bashed his noggin against a lamppost in East LA. "One more blow to the head and I might turn into a ninny," he explained. I was going to break the news to him that ... but I didn't want to hurt his feelings. Mr Ford lives in his own bizarre little fantasyland and doesn't like the real world to impinge on his consciousness. (I can relate.)
Anyway, I really wanted to go outside and do some sledding, so I left Mr Ford back at the hovel by himself. Big mistake. When I got home Mr Ford was slumped over in his chair with the LA City Beat website on the computer screen. To cut a long story short, the doctors say Mr Ford's heart attack was relatively mild (thank G-d) and he will be making a full recovery soon enough. In the meantime I'm now completely responsible for updating LF.net. It's a big job and I hope I'm up to it. Here are my first posts with commentary. You'll note that I'm writing as Mr Ford. I'm doing this for continuity purposes only, and certainly not because he has any particularly profound insight into the human condition:
Wisdom From A Four Year OldThis is some of my best work. Kids say the darndest things. You just can't go wrong by writing little vignettes about children. Plus, I especially enjoy portraying Mr Ford as some kind of loveless loser.
I just read:Of course the joke here is that Mr Ford doesn't read. Well, not real books anyway. He does like comics, though.
Movies I've loved of late:Mr Ford doesn't actually go to the movies, hence the joke. He's terrified that he might have to share the cinema with some loud, slow-moving Colored people. Besides, Our Moral Leader disapproves of bad language and nudity, so pretty much any American movie made after 1965 disgusts him. He argues that even attending the rare "G" rated flick puts money into the hands of the big movie companies, dollars that they'll use to make wicked "PG," "R" and "XXX" movies. Mr Ford especially disapproves of the latter, although I do find it odd that he seems to know an awful lot about the adult film industry. Perhaps he learned about the subject from some former journalist friend of his, who will go nameless.