Archive for June, 2009

June 26, 2009

and now Michael Jackson?

The way I like to remember Michael Jackson (and the 1970s)

The way I like to remember Michael Jackson (and the 1970s)

“The difference between insanity and genius is measured only by success”

I made a joke on someone’s Facebook page that I’m preparing for a plague of Paris Hilton’s thong underwear. Forget Hollywood Babylon; this is Hollywood Apocalypse. Farrah and the King of Pop on the same day?

Yes, it’s too early to joke, and with the respect that’s due these two icons of popular American culture just for enduring the press, I will proceed on a more somber note: I’m beginning to feel very old.

I am only four years younger than Michael and in the early-1970s, my Jackson 5 records got as much play as my Osmond’s and Partridge Family LPs. The Halloween that Thriller was released I dressed as a dead bride (home made costume from thrift store remnants) and partied in West Hollywood like it was 1999. Jackson’s music has always been part of the soundtrack of my life and despite the freakish manifestations of an unstable psyche, he was a tremendous talent who brought great joy and some heartache to the world in his time here. Talent seems to come with a proportionate price of anguish.

It’s a sad day to be sure.

June 25, 2009

Bye, Farrah

farrah

I find myself resisting the urge to make inappropriate puns and rhymes with her name. Despite the apparent devolution of her persona in the last couple decades, there was always something endearing and certainly fascinating about her. Beneath the all-American, sparkly sun-bleached surface, it was dark and sad and a little bit creepy (especially where her relationship with Ryan O’Neal was concerned.) In other words there was much more to Farrah than big hair and a hot bod (there usually is) as the abyss behind those cavernous eyes revealed–not to mention the juicy bits in Tatum O’Neal’s memoir.

I remember Charlie’s Angels and the iconic poster my younger brother had on his bedroom wall. I remember loathing the girls at school who copied Farrah’s feathered hairstyle. I remember when feathered hair itself became loathsome. Farrah bravely endured possibly the most humiliating cancers of all: rectal cancer. She refused to let it mock her. This I find most memorable of all. Here are some of my other memories of the late great Farrah Fawcett:

Her first embarrassing appearance on Letterman

Farrah on a skateboard

Farrah the artist: using her painted naked body as the brush on canvas

Farrah the psychobiatch from Hell (again via Tatum O’Neal)

Farrah playing tennis

Farrah selling toothpaste or cosmetics or something

Her rightfully acclaimed performance as the victim of domestic abuse in The Burning Bed

/wave. We’ll miss you. xoxo.

June 18, 2009

Parental responsibility and the power of media

The other night at the video store I overheard a conversation between a mother and her son. The boy was somewhere between 4-6 years old.

Boy: Mommy, look there’s Scream! Can we get it?

Mother: No, I don’t think so, we watched it 6 times last week. Let’s find something else.

A few minutes later, she approached the clerk and asked, “Can you help me find Nightmare on Elm Street?”

Call me a helicopter mom (btw: I don’t care if you do) but I only recently became semi-comfortable with my son seeing gratuitous violence in movies and TV. He’s 14.

It’s interesting to me that discussions about violent or disturbed behavior in kids almost never point to movies as a negative influence, but time and time again video games are made the scapegoat.

A 17-year-old boy charged with murdering his mother and attempting to murder his father when they forbade him from playing Halo3, was recently sentenced to life in prison (trying kids as adults… a discussion for another day). The boy claimed that, because animated characters in video games don’t die forever, but respawn after they are killed, he believed his parents were also immortal. During sentencing, the judge actually placed some of the blame on gaming:

“This Court’s opinion is that we don’t know enough about these video games… It’s my firm belief that after a while the same physiological responses occur that occur in the ingestion of some drugs. And I believe that an addiction to these games can do the same thing… The other dangerous thing about these games, in my opinion, is that when these changes occur, they occur in an environment that is delusional. Because you can shoot these aliens, and they’re there again the next day. You have to shoot them again. And I firmly believe that Daniel Petric had no idea, at the time he hatched this plot, that if he killed his parents, they would be dead forever.”

Let’s pretend for a moment that the judge is not completely out of touch. Life 101=we die! The parent’s felt they were doing the right thing by taking away the boy’s video game, but they were clearly disconnected from the true underlying problems he was dealing with.

The common denominator in both these scenarios, besides media, is parental irresponsibility. What kid by the age of 17 doesn’t know that people die? Further, by that age, the difference between right and wrong should be well established in a person’s psyche. At the same time, I’d like to hear one good justification for allowing the images of murder, torture etc. in slasher films to enter the consciousness of young children.

I’m not saying violent movies make violent kids. I’m not saying violent video games do either. What I’m exploring is the possibility that psychological/behavioral disturbances are created, at least in part, by the stupidity and obliviousness of distracted, ill-informed parents who fail to protect their kids through responsible censorship of their entertainment media.

June 11, 2009

An overdue welcome

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It’s been many moons since Chris O’Neal joined our stable of freelancers with his gaming column “The Gamer’s Notebook.”

Last week, Chris attended the E3 convention in Los Angeles and gave VCReporter readers lots of tasty video game previews to nibble on as gaming advances to levels unimagined only a few years ago.

Take a few minutes to read his story, look at the pictures and drop him a line. We’re the better for having him on the team.

June 11, 2009

Conspiracy theories and downtown Ventura’s nightlife

Violence, drinking problems, encounters with the “authorities.”

No, it’s not my teenage son—it’s the fear and loathing in downtown Ventura of late.  I heard tell that it’s all part of a plot by a certain developer to take over the city’s nightlife by sabotaging competing venues.  Actually, it was more like the paranoid fantasy of a bored musician . . .but since when is that not a valid source?

The skinny: fighting outside Hush Lounge, Ventura PD changing the rules on entertainment licenses, foot patrol cops on weekend nights and ABC coming down on at least two venues.

Those in favor of conspiracy theories are convinced that the timing—the live music scene in Ventura is thriving like never before—is suspicious and that someone must have it in for local music.

A more subdued and logical explanation is probably that as the numbers of people partying (drinking alcohol) downtown grows.. the odds of violence and general shenanigans occuring,  increases.

As these occurrences increase, so does response from people in authority. It’s only natural and in a sense it’s a good thing. It also means that in this economy, people are still spending money on entertainment, that people are creating music and interesting venues in which to hear it and that the plan to revitalize what was once a cruddy few blocks of trashy nothingness has actually become an appealing, lively cultural district.

Let’s be grateful and continue to support everyone who contributes to making this possible.

Cheers!

June 5, 2009

Chchchanges..

Since I re-entered the VCReporter fold 8 (wow) months ago, I’ve been feeling the pinch of too little space to adequately cover the vast number of events and interesting people in the county.

So.. I’ve been mulling different ways to do more with less, make the most of my limited real estate, looking at how other weeklies and magazines do it. Hopefully I’ll be able to begin playing with some ideas and make them tangible, within the next few weeks. I would love to know what people feel they are not seeing enough of, or seeing too much of,  in the arts and entertainment section.

One thing we’re launching next week is our new music column by Camarillo resident Chris Mastrovito. I’m really excited to welcome Chris has he as exactly the kind of enthusiasm for local music that I was looking for. Plus–he can write!

Chris will be giving us a scene report every other week, give or take, with highlights from the weekend and juicy bits from the nether regions of practice pads throughout the county.  Please give us your feedback regarding a&e content. We are paying attention.

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