Monthly Archives: June 2020

The Villages People


[NOTE:  In hopes of stemming a flood of comments from Trumpsters and Russian bots, the following is not FAKE NEWS.  It is what we call parody intentionally designed at the outset to be humorous.  Please do not confuse it with Trump apologists’ attempts to disguise Donald Trump’s ignorant and offensive remarks as “jokes,” after the fact.]


The Rolling Stones are threatening legal action against President Donald Trump’s campaign for using their music at his campaign rallies.

~CNN/June 28, 2020

Following receipt of the cease and desist order, Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale immediately began searching for replacements.  [NOTE:  The remainder of this paragraph is not FAKE NEWS!]  He approached the following artists.  Neil Young. NO!  Elton John.  NO!  The Tom Petty estate.  NO!   Rihanna.  NO!  R.E.M.  NO!  Adele. NO!  Axl Rose.  NO!   Pharrell Williams.  NO!  Brian May (Queen).  NO!  Earth, Wind and Fire.  NO!  Eddie Levert (The O’Jays).  NO!  The George Harrison estate.  NO!  The Prince estate.  NO!  Steven Tyler.  NO!  Dee Snider.  NO!  Perhaps the best response came from Brendon Urie, frontman for the band Panic! At The Disco following use of his song “High Hopes” at Trump’s June 26 rally at the Dream City megachurch in Phoenix .  “Dear Trump Campaign, F*** you.  You’re NOT invited.  Stop playing my song.”

Unable to contract with actual musicians or their bands, Parscale decided to create his own “tribute band,”  The Villages People (shown below).

When asked why he settled on a 1970s-80s disco band, Parscale replied, “It reflects the candidate’s interest in taking the nation back 40 years.  And what could possibly be more representative of the past four years than an exclusive club in which the atmosphere is dependent on fog and sparkly mirrors?”  In response to a query about which of the group’s hits would be the campaign’s central theme song, Parscale said that decision was pending.  “There are so many to choose from.”

Always willing to provide assistance when I can, I would suggest the following:

  • Muncho Man/1978
  • Y.M.I. an A./1978
  • (Not) In the Navy (or any other branch of the armed services)/1979
  • Ready for the 80’s (the 1880s)/1979
  • Sleazy (no explanation needed)/1979
  • Can’t Stop the Muslims/1980
  • 5 O’Clock in the Morning (Tweet Time)/1981
  • Do You Wanna Spend the Night (Anybody?)/1981
  • (In)Action Man/1982
  • MAGAmix/1989
  • Living in the WhiteLife/1989


The original Village People have announced they will perform  a revised version of “Happiest Time of the Year,” which appeared on the group’s 2019 Christmas album, at Joe Biden’s victory celebration on election night.  In the new version, lyrics such as “People SHARING all over the world” will now proclaim, “People CHEERING all over the world.”

For what it’s worth.


And Justice for All


First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

~Martin Niemöller

Niemöller drafted these most memorable lines shortly after the end of World War II.  He had initially been an enthusiastic supporter of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich until he and two Protestant bishops met with Hitler in January of 1934.  The Führer’s comments convinced Niemöller he was under Gestapo surveillance including his phones being tapped.  From that point on, he became part of the German resistance to Hitler’s reign.

The poem has been repeatedly referenced since Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president in June 2015.  Parallels were made as he first attacked Hispanic immigrants, then Muslims, then African-Americans like Colin Kaepernick for protesting police brutality.  And though many people, myself included, sympathized with each of Trump’s targets, we still could not imagine we might be next.

Image without a captionUntil yesterday morning when two judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ordered District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan to immediately dismiss the criminal case against former national security advisor Michael Flynn.  No, Judges Neomi Rao and Karen Henderson did not come after me because I am Jewish or because I am a Democrat or because I am a liberal.  They came after me and every other American citizen who believes the law is a social contract between the government and the governed.  A bond that is observed and respected if, and only if, the people also believe the law is administered evenly among us all regardless of station in life or who we know.

Yesterday morning I finally understood why black protesters would set fire to a police precinct or neighborhood businesses.  They could no longer stand by and be the victims of a cabal of silence in which law enforcement officers put protecting each other before their oath to serve and protect.

That is what happened again yesterday, under different circumstances.  Two judges applied their own black robe code of silence.  They had a choice.  They could trust Judge Sullivan to conduct an honest investigation into the actions by the Department of Justice as it took the extraordinary step to intervene in a case where a defendant had twice pleaded guilty to crimes with which he was charged.  Instead, they acted no differently than police who protect a colleague from accusations of misconduct.  Except in this case, they were covering for a friend of the President of the United States, and in turn, Trump himself, an individual who has forgotten he took an oath to faithfully execute the Constitution.  Their action was the equivalent of coming after every American citizen.  We are no longer next.  We are a target of this administration’s infidelity to the documents which are the foundation of the American experience.

And Justice for All Pictures - Rotten TomatoesNormally, this is where I would once more invoke Howard Beale.  When I saw the headline come across the AP wire, I wanted to open the window and scream, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it any more.”  But, in this case, there is a more appropriate cinematic analogy–Norman Jewison’s 1979 production of And Justice for All.  Every day between now and November 3rd is an “I am Spartacus” moment.  Everyone one of us must claim he or she is Arthur Kirkland (portrayed by Al Pacino) when he is gaveled down by the presiding judge. Kirkland is expected to defend Judge Henry Fleming (John Forsythe) who is charged with raping an underage girl, a crime to which he has privately confessed to Kirkland.  But the young attorney realizes his allegiance is to his oath rather than a corrupt client.

In his closing argument, Kirkland violates attorney-client privilege and tells the jury.

The prosecution is not going to get that man today. No. Because I’m gonna get him.  My client, the Honorable Henry T. Fleming,  should go right to fucking jail! The son of a bitch is guilty! That man is guilty. That man there.  That man is a slime.  He is a slime.  If  he’s allowed to go free — then something is really wrong here.

When Judge Burns (Robert Symonds) reprimands Kirkland, “You’re out of order,” he shouts back, “No, you’re out of order! The whole trial is out of order!”

Donald Trump, aided and abetted by William Barr, is out of order.  The Department of Justice is out of order.  The whole system is out of order. Since Barr’s confirmation as Attorney General, every American who still holds on to the belief justice can be blind has been the victim of an orchestrated attack on that assumption.  We have been that frog in a kettle of water as Barr slowly raised the temperature hoping we would not notice.  It rose when he committed perjury during his confirmation hearing.  Increased a few more degrees when he misrepresented the Mueller report and again perjured himself when he claimed he had not heard a word of dissent from Robert Mueller.  Intensified again when Barr dismissed U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman.

In spite of all that, there was still a ray of hope.  Until yesterday, the judiciary under Article IV of the Constitution had been the guard rail that suggested we could survive the heat until next January.  No longer.  That was when the Trump/Barr wrecking crew demonstrated its willingness to tear down the last balustrades and posts which kept the vehicle of state from going over a cliff.

We do not have the luxury to sit back while the prosecution takes down Trump or Barr.  Like Arthur Kirkland, we have to do it ourselves.  The future of the American democracy is at stake, but it is also the solution come November 3rd.

For what it’s worth.


Propped Up


Recognize the name Scott Thompson?  Probably not.  Maybe you know him by his stage name, “Carrot Top.”  For the past 13 years, with the exception of an occasional tour, Thompson has been the comedian-in-residence at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas.  His schtick consists largely of dated celebrity jokes during which he exaggerates his targets’ stereotypical flaws with the help of trunks full of props.  For example, a crowd favorite involves his pacing a darkened stage with a flashlight while U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” plays in the background.

Prop comedy has a long and storied station in show business history.  Consider the following.  Harpo Marx’ horn.  The Harlem Globetrotters’ bucket of confetti.  Steve Martin’s arrow through the head and bunny ears.  One can argue ventriloquists from Edgar Bergen to Paul Winchell to Jeff Dunham are a unique form of prop comedy.  Without Mortimer Snerd, Jerry Mahoney or Walter, respectively, their jokes would more likely be greeted with silence rather than laughter.

In case you have not noticed, these icons of prop humor have a new rival who, since June 1, has expanded his routine by adding a a number of new accessories to his arsenal of visual aids.  Welcome to the comedy stylings of the comic-in-residence who performs nightly in the Lincoln Room at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Donald J. Trump.  Always seeking to be in the public eye, Americans had the unique opportunity to watch him first test new material in a smaller venue before the launch of the official tour.  In his case, Trump chose an outdoor setting–Lafayette Park.  Accompanied by an entourage of police, national guard and unidentifiable federal agents, he entertained the crowd with the latest gadgets in his trunk of tricks.  First, a tear-gas canister.  Then, an upside-down Bible.  What a show!  People have been talking about it for weeks.  You can’t beat that kind of publicity.

Next it was off to West Point where Trump demonstrated there was no end to his implements of distraction.  Who can forget the water glass, the ramp or his leather-soled shoes.  But that event was just one more preliminary run-through for the main event,  the first stop on his comeback tour, Tulsa, Oklahoma.  And that is where “Cotton Candy Top” exhibited true creative genius, making connections between props which previously had served a singular purpose.  His trademark red silk tie was now the rescued victim of the two-handed glass of water caper.  The audience became “brave warriors,” replacing his federalized posse when it came to facing off against peaceful protesters.  And slick ramps magically transformed into ice skating rinks.  Forget, he had just reminded the audience he needed to wet his lips because the hot sun was “pouring down” on him as he saluted newly commissioned army officers.  “A Zamboni!  A Zamboni!  My kingdom for a Zamboni!”

Despite the promise of an overflow crowd, Trump’s press puppet Kayleigh McEnany claimed her boss, the eternal optimist, saw the arena as one-third full, not two-thirds empty.  It is not uncommon to cancel future tour dates when it becomes clear playing to unfilled, cavernous arenas just is not worth the embarrassment.  But do not expect any such move by the Trump campaign.  Trump is more likely to follow the advice of fellow comic Gary Mule Deer.  “It’s great to be in a business where if you come back each year for a little less money, you can work for the rest of your life.”  Except in Trump’s case, just substitute the word “audience” for “money.”

Recognizing this White House sh** show may end on January 20, 2021, Trump recently acknowledged he is already thinking about his next gig.  Considering his new-found affinity for prop humor, one possibility would be as guest headliner in the Luxor’s Atrium Theater when Thompson is on the road or taking a break.  Such an engagement would be ironic considering the act in residence across the walkway from Carrot Top’s venue–The Blue Man Group.

For what it’s worth.


The Dresser


One of the more interesting aspects of the Department of Justice lawsuit filed against former national security advisor John Bolton is the demand that proceeds from the sale of his tell-all book should be deposited in the U.S. Treasury including any revenues from the movie rights.  I must admit I had not thought about the plethora of films that might be based on, as of today, the 22 books which chronicle insider views of the Trump White House.  My first thought?  Wes Craven or Jordan Peele could not do justice to this Gothic horror story, no matter how hard they tried.  And Freddy Kruger (Nightmare on Elm Street) and Michael Meyers (Halloween) pale in comparison when it comes to this forthcoming slasher film where the victim is the Constitution rather than promiscuous high school students.

Perhaps my time was better spent looking outside tales of terror.  What if the preeminent version of the Trump years was more like a Shakespearean play?  Would it be a comedy when everyone gets married in Act V?  Or in Trump’s case, married for the fourth time.  Or a tragedy ending in the figurative death of the title character?  But wait!  Maybe it was not about the parts in theater productions, but the actors who star in them.  Was Trump a male version of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, a one-time larger than life personality who believed there were not small actors, only small parts, yet at an advanced age was unfit for a cameo, much less a starring role?

Among the devices I encouraged students in my Imagination class at Miami University to keep in their tool kits was patience.  Don’t force ideas.  Let them come to you.  And this morning that is exactly what happened as I read stories about last night’s Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  In reference to the underwhelming crowd inside BOK Arena, one headline read, “Someone Is Going to Get Fired for This.”  The inside story of the Trump administration was never about the protagonist.  It will be about the people tasked with propping up an aging headliner.

The Dresser - Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay - sheer brilliance ...And there it was, as plain as the nose on my face.  1983.  The Dresser.  Peter Yates’ adaption of Ronald Harwood’s play, “the story of an aging actor’s personal assistant, who struggles to keep his charges’s life together.” (Wikipedia)  Is it mere coincidence the elderly thespian, played by Albert Finney, is referred to only as “Sir,” the same honorific Trump employs whenever sharing a conversation he has with anyone ranging from a MAGA-head to a member of his cabinet to a four-star general.  Sir is described as “of the old school of acting, full of grand gestures and fine oratory.”  However in his final performance as King Lear, Sir is uncertain of his lines and begins to improvise his speeches. Sound familiar?

When Sir collapses as the curtain drops on Act V, the title character, Sir’s life-long assistant and companion Norman (Tom Courtenay) helps Sir back to his dressing room.  Sensing he is at the end of his career, the actor implores Norman to read to him from an autobiography he claims to be writing.  However, Sir has only gotten as far as the dedication in which he thanks everyone from audiences to fellow actors to stage technicians.  Everyone except Norman, who has been his most loyal and trusted servant for decades.

May I suggest there will likely be a similar end to the Trump saga.  In the final scene, upon his return to Florida next January, an exhausted Trump is helped to his bedroom at Mar-a-Lago.  As he lies there, he hands Ivanka a hardcover copy of The Art of the Deal from 1987.  He asks her to read him the dedication.

IVANKADaddy, there is no dedication.  But there is one paragraph of acknowledgements.

TRUMPRead it to me.

IVANKAAre you sure? I’m not sure its relevant any more.

TRUMPYes, yes.  Read it to me.


“I owe special thanks to several people who made it possible for me to complete this book in the face of my other responsibilities.  Ivana Trump, my wonderful wife, and my  three children were understanding about the many weekends that I spent working on the book.  Si Newhouse first came to me and convinced me to do a book despite my initial reluctance.  Howard Kaminsky, Peter Osnos, and many others at Random House have been enthusiastic, energetic supporters of the book.”

Daddy, I never realized until now you didn’t mention Tony Schwartz who actually wrote the book.

TRUMPWhy should I?  I paid him, didn’t I?

The only question is who will be cast in the title role of the 2021 remake.  The possibilities are endless.  Roger Stone? Steve Bannon?  Steven Miller?  Bill Barr?  Brad Parscale?  Rudy? Ivanka?  Jared?  Junior?  Or all of the above, in which case the Trump biopic is much like the sequel to Alien which James Cameron chose to call Aliens.  The remake of the Finney/Courtenay classic might more appropriately be known as The Dressers.  Or in honor of Tony Schwartz, maybe a better title is The Ghostwriter.

For what it’s worth.


With a Bullet


…refers to a hit record that has entered the charts in a high position, or has climbed rapidly in the charts, or is thought to have the potential for further rapid potential.

~”with a bullet”/Wiktionary

Casey Kasem case: Family feud erupts over legendary radio ...The origin of the phrase “with a bullet” goes back to Cashbox Magazine, which published weekly listings of record sales from 1942 until its demise in November 1996.  One feature of its registry was to highlight songs with high potential by placing red bullets next to their names.  The phrase was also popularized by Casey Kasem, host of a succession of radio programs during which he would count down the most popular songs on the Cashbox charts.

A series of headlines this morning suggest there is a new version of “America’s Top 10,” the televised spin-off of Kasem’s radio program.

  • “Coronavirus Forecast Researchers Say Florida Could Be Next Outbreak Epicenter” (U.S. News and World Report)
  • “Florida Hits the Gas” (Fernandina Beach News Leader)
  • “Top Trump Donors to Stay on Amelia Island during Republican Convention” (Jacksonvile Daily Record)

Congratulations to the Sunshine State!  One week ago it was #11 on the charts when it came to confirmed cases of the coronavirus.  This week, it broke into the Top 10 “with a bullet.”  Following three consecutive days of record new cases, Florida is now #7 having passed Pennsylvania within the past 24 hours.  And, based on the difference in new cases in higher-seeded jurisdictions, is likely to move into the #5 position by the end of June.

Yet, News-Leader op-ed columnist Steve Nicklas trumpets the decision by the Republican National Committee to hold its Donald J. Trump coronation in Jacksonville, describing it as follows. “A celebrated event in late-August with mega-wealthy participants is just what struggling hotels and restaurants and shops here could use.”  Do you want to guess what the greater Jacksonville area does not need?  One more catalyst to accelerate the already burgeoning number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Duval County for which Jacksonville is the county seat.  According to News4Jax, 12 percent of all the cases reported in Duval County since the outbreak began have occurred in the past three days.

Mayor Curry names Brian Hughes chief of staff | Jax Daily Record ...Which brings me to the last headline.  Heaven forbid, wealthy donors should have to stay in  the same hotels as the MAGA-hatted masses that make up Donald Trump’s electoral base.  For a mere $1.16 million per couple (this is not a typo), those mega-wealthy participants to which Nicklas referred can be part of the “Trump Presidential Trust.” According to the Fernandina Beach Observer, the VIP package entitles the donor “to the guaranteed hotel berth comfortably outside Duval County.”  So, while Jacksonville mayor Lenny Curry touts the “$100 million economic impact” generated by this potential COVID19 super-spreader, the Observer reports, “…the biggest margins in terms of hotel spending will be outside his jurisdiction.”

Therefore, Deprogramming101 is initiating a new Top 10 list, suckers who have been scammed by Donald Trump, the Trump family and the Trump Organization.  This week Mayor Curry broke into the Top 10 with a giant red bullet.

For what it’s worth.