Friday, November 24, 2017

The other Side of the Picture

I don’t know Al Franken.  I have always enjoyed his writing and his comedy. I also agree with most of his politics.  And in my opinion we need him in the Senate as much as Alabama believes they need Roy Moore, and for the same political reasons. I am not drawing the Presidential distinction of who admitted it and who didn’t and pairing that with guilt. However,  all allegations being equal between the two of them, Franken has not been accused by women who were under age at the time.  

 I am certainly not here to defend Franken’s female encounters, especially since  I was not present at the time nor know anything except what has been in the news.  I take him at his word and take the accusers at their word and believe his apologies are sincere.  His first accuser stated that the apology was satisfactory to her. But another woman has come forward saying he “copped a feel” during the taking of a picture.

Today Al Franken released this statement.
"I'm a warm person; I hug people. I've learned from recent stories that in some of those encounters, I crossed a line for some women -- and I know that any number is too many."

The truth is, I am also a warm person;  and I hug people male and female. Often I kiss friends during that hug, male and female.  Although I have never consciously been aware of crossing a line, there is no doubt that I have put myself in that position.  Add that personality trait to the fact that I am a celebrity, to some,  and I am often asked to take pictures with people I have never met before.  I have never refused an autograph or denied a picture to anyone if it was safe and friendly to do so. In the 30 years I have been trying to accommodate the pictures and selfies of fans, I have been grabbed on the butt, squeezed a little to closely and kissed on the cheek numerous times as the camera clicks.   I assumed it was all in good fun, and part of the job description of the profession I have chosen.  
But perhaps I have a case against some of those fans.  In retrospect I can get my feelings hurt years later and claim all kinds of abuse.  Take this picture for example.  I barely remember this encounter,  and don’t remember her name if she even told it to me. I was just trying to be nice and pose in a picture her friend took.   I have litterally taken thousands of such pictures.  By evidence of the name tags and the background I can date the picture to July of 2009. I have not obscured her face since she is the one who published it on Facebook even tagging my name.  

I wasn’t aware she was making fun of me with an insulting hand gesture as the camera flashed. It was probably one of several pictures taken with others at that same spot on that same day.   Had I never seen it I would never have known. However:
Did I feel insulted and taken advantage of when I saw it posted on Facebook? You bet.  Did it hurt my feelings a little that I had agreed to pose in good faith only to be made fun of in a photo, you bet. Was I demeaned by the fact that I was the only one not in on the joke? Absolutely!  Will it go any further than this blog, Absolutely Not.  In the words of Hyman Roth from Godfather II, 
“It is part of the profession we have chosen.”
I doubt she intended to insult me, to objectify me in a joke, it was just a funny idea, perhaps.  I know for sure I have had a joke go wrong, an action misinterpreted and probably crossed a line I did not know existed.  
I once caught hell from a woman when I held the door open for her.  Didn’t mean it to be insulting, it was the way I was raised, like saying, Yes Ma’am and No Sir. It was something a polite “gentleman” did.  I am now aware this action might offend some,  but in my defense, I don’t want to get yelled at for slamming the door in a lady’s face or pushing past her to get in a building first. It is called being human, and learning from your mistakes.

I am not saying to all the accusers who were abused, “get over it”. I am not saying to abusers “how were you supposed to know”.   I am saying to everyone who takes a “holier than thou attitude” on this matter, look in the mirror, we are all guilty.  We are all unsure of the line, male and female and it is only a matter of severity as to how far we go across. 

If we had a different Political leader we might be able to have a constructive discussion on the subject.  But stuborn denial of facts is his MO. This is coupled with his belief that “if you don’t admit it- it did not happen” .  We can all heal from this and become a better society but not while there is a large orange Elephant in the room that we pretend isn’t there.  
 As you were,

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Repost from the 50th Anniversary

Kennedy Connection

I am not an avid reader but I have read almost every book on the subject of the Kennedy Assassination. (I can even spell assassination without looking it up). There have been some completely loony theories, some creative theories and some compelling theories on the subject. I have my own opinion based upon the local coverage from WFAA in Dallas immediately after the shooting.  
I am not a "lone gunman" believer.  I will never be sure exactly how Oswald was involved, but think he was more of a patsy than anything else. Once you open up the possibility that it was a planned operation it gets difficult to follow. It is not so important if the secret service driver of the limo pulled a hand gun and shot the President, or if it was E. Howard Hunt who shot the President from a storm drain below Elm Street. Obviously those are crucial details in the murder but what group is responsible for the plot to kill the President. Three groups are usually thought of as suspects.  They are:

1) The CIA. It is true that Kennedy didn't like the CIA and they didn't like him.  He was supposed to support the CIA Bay of Pigs invasion with air support but he didn't and the operation was a disaster.  Kennedy was quoted as saying he was going to "splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it into the winds". 
Side note: Allen Dulles, head of the CIA was fired by Kennedy over the Bay of Pigs incident. Several of his staff resigned in protest including deputy director Charles Cabell.  Allen Dulles was later appointed to the Warren Commission by Lyndon Johnson.

2)The Mafia.  It is believe that the Mob helped Kennedy get elected in a very close race with Nixon.  There were voting districts in the Chicago area that seem to have been as tainted as any in Florida during the 2000 election.  Sam Giancana, the Chicago boss, was said to have "influenced" the ballot boxes in several districts.  However, once in office JFK unleashes his brother as Attorney General who began to crack down on organized crime with a manic passion.  Carlos Marcello, New Orleans mob boss was dogged by Robert Kennedy and is quoted as saying, "Take the stone from my shoe" meaning get Bobby Kennedy off his back.  Santos Trafficante the Miami/Cuba mob boss said, "If you cut the dogs tail off the head will still bite. If you cut the dogs head off the tail no longer wags." The Traficante idea was, kill the president and his brother will no longer be the Attorney General. After he heard that President Kennedy had been killed, Jimmy Hoffa is quoted as saying "Well, that makes Bobby Kennedy just another lawyer, doesn't it?" (Five years later Bobby was assassinated when it looked like he might become president) 

3)Wealthy Texas Right Wing Radicals.  Dallas hated Kennedy and the day he arrived for the visit there was a full page ad in the Dallas Morning News accusing him of treason and calling for his impeachment.  Months before Adli Stevenson was physically assaulted by a protester when he was visiting Dallas, Texas. Dallas in particular, was a hot bed of hatred toward the Kennedys. Earl Cabell was mayor of Dallas at the time of the assassination. He was the third generation of a Cabell as mayor of Dallas. His Father and Grandfather had both been mayor of Dallas. More importantly Earl Cabell is the brother of Charles Cabell ousted deputy director of the CIA.  The fact that the route of the motorcade through Dallas needed the Mayor's approval has always been a curious connection to the tragedy. 

It is possible to make a case that any one of these three "groups" could have motive to plan and execute the assassination. They were all one in reality.  Here is how they connect.
It is easy to connect the Mafia and the CIA. They were both working together to take Cuba back from Castro. For the CIA it was strategic and for the Mob it was business since all their casinos had been nationalized and then closed by Castro. Frank Angelo Fiorini was in several branches of the United States military, aided Fidel Castro in the Cuban revolution of 1958, and worked as an undercover operative for the CIA. When Castro won the revolution he appointed Frank Fiorini as "head of national gaming" for Cuba. Fiorini was the contact between Castro and the Mafia operations of the casinos for a year after the revolution.  Fiorini left Cuba when Castro closed the mafia hotels. It is obvious he continued in the employ of the CIA. Frank Fiorini later changed his name to Frank Sturgis and was arrested in the Watergate Break in. He alone proves the link between the CIA, Cuba and the Mafia. 
It is also easy to connect rich Texas Right Wing radicals with the CIA at the time.  In the early late 50's early 60's George H.W. Bush owned the Zapata Offshore Company, a subsidiary which specialized in offshore drilling in Houston Texas. Although Mr. Bush would later become head of the CIA, Vice-President and eventually President there is no proof that he was CIA during his oil company days. However, two of the ships used in the Bay of Pigs invasion (provided by a wealthy un-named Texas oil man) were named the "Zapata" and the "Barbara" two names closely associated with George H.W. Bush. In the Warren commission it states that private citizen George H. W. Bush was "briefed" on the assassination investigation by the government the day after the event.  This was before Mr. Bush was part of the official government. He was one of the only private citizens to receive an official briefing.  I am not implying that "George the first" had anything to so with the assassination of John Kennedy. I simply point out that the over lap between the prime suspects in this case is more than coincidental. 
So there you have it 50 years later and it is still a mystery.  I suggest it will always be.  There is no smoking gun proof of anything including the theory that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I am pretty sure the Warren Commission got it wrong, but it will be the only story that will survive ultimately.  Twenty-five years from now we will find an empty file that will lead to more mystery.
As you were,

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Peacock Theater, Frisco, TX

In a world  dominated by artificial intelligence/ alternate  reality and streaming video I am happy to say,  Variety Arts/ Stage performance is alive and very active at the Peacock Theatere in Frisco, Texas.

If you think Frisco, Texas,  sounds like an odd place for jugglers, ventriloquists, magicians, sword swallowers, mimes and performance artists to gather and display their talents.... Well,  it’s “other worldly”  to a former Texan  like myself.  

When I was living in Richardson, Texas, during high school,  the small town of Frisco was only 21 miles north, but  there was absolutely no reason to ever go there.  It was ranch and farm land of little use to a budding ventriloquist, future Los Angelan, actor and Tony Award winner, like myself.
Well times have changed. Dallas and Fort Worth have become a metroplex which rivals Southern California for its massive urban foot print. Frisco is ranch land no longer, rather it is the very cutting edge of  the DFW juggernaut. When Randy Pitchford was looking for a place to expand his Computer software company, Gearbox, the prairies of Frisco were available
If the name Randy Pitchford, Gearbox or the computer game Borderland is not familiar, then the rest of this blog may not make logical sense to you. But,  if you Google the unfamiliar and connect the dots it makes complete sense.

 The Peacock Theater,  Mecca for  Variety performance, is located in the mind and at the home of Randy Pitchford.
SO, the question is:  Why would a computer game mogul care about the world of variety artists?  Much less build a place for performance artists to  perform? 

I am here to try and explain.
Of all of Randy’s credits I did not realize until this last week-end that he worked as a Magician for Wizards on Universial’s CityWalk.  This is the Rosetta Stone of the entire story.  It is crucial to understanding The Peacock Theater.  

Randy Pitchford is a magician. 
As Randy was building his company headquarters in Frisco, he was also building his new North Texas home.  With the same attention to detail, needed to program a computer game, Randy build his new house.  The fact that the Peacock Theater is located at the Pitchford house, is lost in the labyrinth of hidden rooms, secret passages, and built in magical effects that define the home itself.  But this is not an architectual review of the property it is about the meta-concept of the Peacock Theater.
Although extremely successful in the digital world, Randy is at heart a  magician.  As a ventriloquist I am allowed admittance to the world of magic so I can comment objectively. Randy loves magic and can trace his lineage to one of the most celebrated magicians in history, Cardini. ( Magicians will not have to Google Cardini, but laymen are encouraged to do so) . Randy understands LIVE performance, and is now using his good fortune to encourage and promote it. The Pichford Plan is to prove that modern day vaudeville is viable.  I have been waiting all of my life and my career for Vaudeville Theater to return to America.

This is only the context for the story I want to tell. In an example of “Variety Arts meets High Tech”, here is how the show down happened.

I am sitting at the kitchen/bar of the Pitchford estate when one of the other invited guests notices I am wearing my Mickey Mouse wrist watch. He says, “I like your watch”
He then proudly shows me that his Apple Watch is displaying a Mickey Mouse Watch face with an  animated Mickey Mouse tapping his foot with the seconds.  
My analogue watch does  not do that.  
The owner of the Apple Watch then says...
“And mine will do this”.
He taps the face of the Apple Watch and the animated Mickey Mouse  says, “It’s 12:40.” 
My analogue watch does  not do that.   
However, since I am a ventriloquist, and not to be out done by a techno geek,  I simply tapped my own watch and it said, “It’s 12:41 - Fuck you”
Fortunately the small audience at the Pickford kitchen bar appreciated skill and understood the context of my come back. 

I hope someday to play the Pitchford Circut. 

As you were,