The Star Trek theme continues. As you surely know, Thursday was the 50th Anniversary of the first episode of Star Trek. I was one of many Trekkies, Trekkers whatever the hell you want to call them who first saw the show in re-runs. Even as a kid, I knew that there were some hokey things about the original show: the sets were cheesy, Shatner was hammy and an unlikely intergalactic babe magnet. But there was so much right about it: the cast chemistry and the writing. In many ways, Star Trek was a parable of New Frontier/Great Society era America. I’ve always liked the optimistic, inclusive message of the franchise and the way it got better over the years. I admit to skepticism when The Next Generation first aired but I was hooked and wound up liking both it and Deep Space Nine more than the original series. It’s hard to beat Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard even when he wore his shorty pajamas. Make it so or is that make it short? This post sure isn’t…
This week’s theme song was written and recorded by Wilbert Harrison in 1962 as Let’s Stick Together. It’s also been done as Let’s Work Together but I decided to stick with stick instead of working it out. I have three versions for your listening pleasure. First, the original recording. Second, Bryan Ferry’s first whack at a song that he made his own. It’s still a staple in his live sets. Finally, Canned Heat who cut it as Let’s Work Together with vocals by Bob “Bear” Hite. Both the singer and his band had awesome names.
Now that we’ve worked that sticky wicket out, it’s time to take a brief break from my incessant punning, But first an animated Star Trek GIF that was suggested by one of the Stephanies:
After that deeply silly image, let’s turn our smiles upside down (or is that right side up?) and get serious for a moment. It’s neither a hoax nor a conspiracy. I promise.
The Sandy Hook Hoax: New York Magazine has a remarkable cover story by Reeves Wiedeman about one of the most hurtful and bizarre false flag conspiracy theories: the notion that the Newtown school shooting was a hoax. Wiedeman focuses on Lenny Pozner one of the Sandy Hook parents who is a reformed conspiracy buff. Pozner has been fighting a valiant but frustrating war against the false flaggers and one in particular:
Eighteen months after his wife had found her mission, Pozner found his, and the next day he started a group called Conspiracy Theorists Anonymous, dedicated to debunking hoaxer theories. He also took his fight public, writing an op-ed in the Hartford Courant in which he called out hoaxers by name, including Wolfgang Halbig, a 70-year-old retired school administrator in Florida. Halbig had become the hoaxers’ lead investigator, filing Freedom of Information Act requests for documents relating to the shooting and posting his findings on a website called Sandy Hook Justice Report. In May 2014, Halbig spoke at a public meeting of the Newtown Board of Education. “These are your children,” Halbig told the board, which sat in silence. “We want truth.”
After the meeting, Pozner emailed Halbig saying that he’d like to talk to him. Halbig didn’t respond, but Pozner says another hoaxer sent a reply: “Wolfgang does not wish to speak with you unless you exhume Noah’s body and prove to the world you lost your son.”
I wanted to punch the wall when I read that. The heartless bastard matter of factly told Pozner to exhume his child’s body or his fellow false flag fuck wouldn’t speak to him. That sums it up for me: it’s all an abstraction to Halbig and his ilk. Fuck them sideways. It’s time to move on before I throw something.
I love political ads, especially the ones that campaigns refuse to run. Historian Michael Beschloss wrote a terrific piece for the New York Times about such an ad.
The Case Of The Missing Political Ad: The year was 1976. Gerald Ford won a bruising and close primary battle against a candidate with orange hair. No, not the Insult Comedian, the Gipper. Unlike Trump, Ford had an excellent political operation that came within a toupee hair of beating Jimmy Carter in the general election.
Such a long ad would never run on teevee nowadays. It would be a web only extravaganza but the allusion to the Kennedy Assassination and the attempts on Ford’s own life would *still* be controversial:
But then, given the acute sensitivities of the time, Mr. Deardourff and Mr. Bailey went over the top. Mr. Ford is seen in his Dallas motorcade, reminding viewers of the national tragedy of 1963. “When a limousine can parade openly through the streets of Dallas,” concludes the narrator, “after a decade of tension, the people and their president are back together again.” By Mr. Bailey’s later account, in the finished commercial, he “morphed” the Dallas footage “into another scene” in the Deep South, where Ford was “getting out of the car and diving into the crowds.”
Making such a direct reference to the still-fresh national trauma of Dallas in 1963 packed an emotional punch that the two auteurs expected would strengthen their candidate’s chances. As Mr. Bailey recalled, however, “I showed it for the people in the campaign, and they just went crazy.” He said that the Secret Service thought it was “a nightmare” and that it would invite “the nut cases to come forward.”
As Mr. Bailey remembered, Ford’s campaign manager, James A. Baker III (a Texan who later served as President George H. W. Bush’s secretary of state) found the commercial “nutty, absolutely screwy” and said, “You can’t make a reference to Dallas that way without losing the state of Texas.” A similar argument was made by Mr. Ford’s most prominent Texas champion, ex-Gov. John Connally, who had been badly wounded in President Kennedy’s car.
When Robert Teeter, a pollster for Mr. Ford, showed the ad to a focus group, there were gasps. As Mr. Bailey recalled, these viewers “absolutely hated” it. Mr. Bailey explained to his colleagues that “it was designed to shake them up,” but he did not prevail. As he noted in 2009, the risky commercial had been “designed for a campaign we felt pretty sure we were going to lose,” and by the end of October, Mr. Ford and Mr. Carter were nearly tied. As for Mr. Ford, Bailey said, “I don’t know to this day whether he ever saw this ad.”
You gotta give them credit for boldness but JFK was murdered only 13 years earlier and the wounds had yet to heal. Hell, it’s still a raw memory for many of us as well as fodder for generations of conspiracy buffs. Btw, Ford lost Texas anyway. It was the last time a Republican lost the Lone Star state in the general election.
Let’s move on from an unreleased political ad to a song that has been annoying people since its release in 1985.
The Worst Song Of All-Time? Rob Tannenbaum has published an oral history of the deeply stupid hit song, We Built This City at GQ. It was one of the reasons that founding Jefferson Airplane/Starship member Paul Kantner quit the band and sued over its name. The remaining members became Starship and released We Built This City to derision by many but applause by the tone-deaf masses. I’ve been dreading this moment, here’s the video:
Is it the worst song ever? Hard to say, there are so many contenders. The lyrics are horrendous but musically the song is 1985 boilerplate with its OTT synths and drum machines. Even some decent playing by Craig Chaquico cannot rescue it. The real winner was Paul Kantner who didn’t appear in that corny video.
I have a word of warning: the chorus of We Built This City plays on a loop at GQ so you might want to turn the volume down as you read the article. I don’t want to be accused of Klingon-like insensitivity. Hmm, now that I think of it, that song is *almost* as bad as Klingon opera. That brings us to our next segment:
Star Trek At 50: The Star Trek franchise has certainly lived long and prospered. I’m one of those who’s not crazy about the JJ Abrams big screen edition of the franchise. They’re pretty good sci-fi action flicks but lack the Trek sensibility. A caveat to that cavil is that I like the cast. I’d just rather see them in something that’s less like Star Wars and more like, well, Star Trek.
There were a couple of excellent #StarTrek50 articles in the Guardian this week. First, Star Trek’s 50 year mission: to shine a light on the best of humanity by Dave Schilling. The title speaks for itself. It’s trekkie trekkie good. Second, a personal take by Jordan Hoffman, How Star Trek helped me coped with the death of my sister. Btw, the article is not as maudlin as the title. It turns out his sister didn’t care for Star Trek and loved teasing the writer over his geekitude. Family, the final frontier…
There’s something about the 50th Anniversary that has given me List-o-mania. Here are a few Star Trek related lists for your perusal.
The Teevee Shows Ranked:
- Deep Space Nine
- The Next Generation
- The original Star Trek
The Captains Ranked:
If you don’t recognize the names, you don’t give a shit, which is okay by me. But I didn’t feel the need to explain. Why? Here’s why:
Yesterday, it was the Dead, today it’s the Who. We’ve hit geek factor ten. Engage.
Top Five Star Trek Movies:
- First Contact
- The Wrath of Khan
- The Voyage Home
- Beyond. The reboot film that comes closest to the spirit of the franchise.
My Ten Favorite Non-Captain Characters In No Particular Order:
- Dr. Phlox
- Deanna Troi. The only one who gets both names listed. Marina Sirtis *is* my countrywoman, after all.
That’s the last Star Trek list. I promise. Since I inflicted We Built This City on you, it’s only fair to play some real Starship, the Jefferson Starship:
Saturday Classic: Dragonfly was the Jefferson Starship’s first band album. It featured remnants of the final iteration of the Airplane along with multi-instrumentalist Pete Sears and whiz kid guitarslinger Craig Chaquico. The band was dominated by exes Paul Kantner and Grace Slick. Dragonfly even has a Kantner sci-fi tune, All Fly Away as well as the classic set opener, Ride The Tiger. Enjoy:
That’s it for this week. Even I’m all Trekked out by now. Not that you’d know from the closing meme.