Posts Tagged ‘David Letterman’

Letter From New York 05 21 15 From Palmyra to Santa Barbara…

May 21, 2015

It is the Thursday before the Memorial Holiday weekend and people are fleeing the city; driving through the park was the easiest I’ve ever experienced when I was taking a cab back after a morning appointment on the East Side. It is also another grey day in New York, one in a series though the forecast for the weekend is supposed to be better than what we’ve had.

The media news of the day has been a full blast of coverage of the final show for David Letterman, who for thirty-three years has worked the late night hours, longer than anyone else. The New York Post had a columnist who did an exegesis of Letterman’s career, feeling he had gone from unique to mundane but the majority of reports were glowing and regretful that he was leaving the scene. He bowed out with grace and humor, didn’t shed a tear though those in audience did. Bon Voyage!

Also trumpeted across the headlines today was that Palmyra in Syria has fallen to IS and now IS is in control of 50% of Syria. Palmyra has given it control of a hub of roads that are major Syrian connectors as well as major gas wells. Fears have grown that the magnificent ruins on the outskirts of the city will be ravaged by IS militants. In the meantime, the city’s residents are cowering in fear of their lives. A house–to-house search has been going on as IS looks for Syrian soldiers. 17 have been reported killed, some by beheading, because they were associated with the government.

Adding a new wrinkle to the already messy situation in the Middle East is that Putin is putting his finger in the puddle now. Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Abidi is in Moscow and Putin is making him feel very welcome. The Russians are talking about expanded trade and delivery of military weapons to the Iraqi armed forces. The Russians have also been cozying up to Iran, which has been helping Iraq. An interesting mix is developing here and it can’t be making Washington happy. One gets the feeling that maybe we’re being outflanked.

As I’ve mentioned before, the Chinese are taking some tiny spits of land in the South China Sea and artificially making them much larger. One of them will have an airstrip big enough to take very big planes. These islands are being used by the Chinese to expand their territorial claims. To refute those claims the U.S. has been sending planes through what we consider international airspace and which the Chinese now consider their airspace. The tension is rising over what effectively amounts to a stationary aircraft carrier in the South China Sea.

In Baltimore, six officers have been indicted in the Freddie Gray death that incited days of violence.

Santa Barbara is cleaning up its oil spill, not the worst they’ve had but bad enough.

And the state in which Santa Barbara resides, California, is learning to sip water rather than guzzle it. Though there are those who are fragrantly keeping their lawns green and their pools filled. It is a stark picture of the economic divide.

The President of the Boy Scouts of America, Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense under Bill Clinton, announced that he would not revoke the charters of groups that allowed gay councilors.

Ireland is voting tomorrow on whether or not to allow gay marriage. It is looking as if it will pass as polls indicate as many as 70% are in favor of it. Flights from America to Ireland are fully booked as Irish citizens are returning for the historic vote. Trains and ferries are being organized to take the Irish from the UK home for the vote.

Too bad Americans don’t take voting that seriously.

I must seriously end this, as shortly I will have to go meet my friend Paul Krich to have dinner in celebration of his birthday this week.

Letter From New York 05 20 15 A stark world on a moderate day…

May 20, 2015

First of all, I made a mistake in my “media musings” yesterday; last night was not the last night for David Letterman. Tonight is. Last night was his penultimate show. I must have read the article incorrectly. Sorry about that.

Today, I am in New York City and will be until Friday around noon when I am heading up to the cottage for the long weekend. I have no plans for the weekend and expect it will be a quiet one with some reading and binge viewing. I am hooked on “Frankie and Grace,” the Netflix show that stars Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston. It’s an adult comedy, feels a little rough around the edges, as if it hasn’t quite figured itself out but it is very endearing.

Today in New York, the day is caught between spring and fall; not quite sure what it’s about. Sort of warm, sort of cool but not just right. I had coffee with my friend Erica Gruen this morning and it was delightful to catch up with someone I hadn’t seen for a while and then had my quarterly lunch with David Arcara. I met him casually years ago and we have settled into what he called our quarterly “lunches with Andre.” Nothing is off limits in the conversations and they are always satisfying.

The world is atwitter about revelations today of documents seized when Osama bin Laden was killed. He told anyone who would listen to not think about an Islamic State but to stay focused on killing Americans. He left a will, enjoining his wife [I wonder which one, he had several] to marry his daughters to jihadi or, failing that to “good people.” As has long been rumored, it was confirmed there was a stack of porn but that was not released. We will have to remain curious about what turned Osama on.

Speaking of IS, which is very much a reality despite bin Laden’s admonitions, it has advanced into the Syrian town of Tadmur, near where lie the ruins of World Heritage Site Palmyra. It has also been reported that the ruins themselves are now under the control of IS.

An ancient queen of Palmyra was named Zenobia and early on local rebels, fighting Assad, called themselves “Grandchildren of Zenobia.” The ruins have emotional significance to both the anti-Assad forces and to those loyal to him. IS has no emotional attachment to the ruins and it is feared they will destroy them as they have other ruins and loot what is portable to sell to help finance their campaigns.

The fall of Palmyra in the west and Ramadi in the east show that IS is able to bounce back from setbacks like the fall of Tikrit. It is vexing for Obama because any strikes against IS in the area near Palmyra and Tadmur will mostly benefit Assad, a man for whom Obama has called to be removed.

Ratcheting up the world’s level of nervousness are reports that North Korea has miniaturized nuclear weapons so they can be mounted on missiles. North Korea has recently also claimed it has long range missile capability that can get as far as the West Coast of the U.S.

It is believed that their boast of being able to launch a missile from a submarine is not yet true. Looks like the photos were doctored.

But, at the end of the day, we have a pudgy, grumpy, paranoid little dictator in Kim Jong-un and he has nuclear weapons. This is not good.

Gloria Steinem, along with Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate from Ireland and Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Laureate from Liberia are in North Korea with a number of other women to stage a peace march through the DMZ on Sunday.

Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General of the UN, was to have made a visit to North Korea tomorrow but Kim Jong-un cancelled him. He would have been the first UN Secretary General to visit the North in two decades.

A couple of years ago it was revealed that a popular British performer, Jimmy Savile, was a serial sexual predator of adults and children. The British formed a group called Operation Hydrant to look into historical child sexual abuse cases. The publicity surrounding the Savile case has the abused coming out in droves, over 1400 so far and thousands more expected before the end of the year. Among the alleged sexual predators are sports figures, politicians, and music industry elites. The picture that is being formed is “stark.”

It is a stark world out there and there is not much about the starkness that I can do, except do my best to be not stark. I am off to the New York Video Meet-up and then for a bite to eat.

Letter From New York 05 19 15 Media Musings

May 19, 2015

Today started out grey and grim in New York City, a morning fog left us feeling a bit like London. It was damp, almost chill. Then as the day wore on, the sun began to peep out and then it filled the sky. The rain promised hasn’t appeared though I brought my umbrella.

Also, today, I am going to do something a little different. I work in media but don’t write that much about it. Most of my take is on what is going on in the world around us, from migrants in the Mediterranean or the South China Sea, to the sorry advance of IS, to the efforts to put Humpty-Dumpty together again in Nepal.

But today I am going to take a quick look around some of the media stories that captured my attention. I may do this once in awhile.

First of all, the Cabletelevison Advertising Bureau has been renamed the Video Advertising Bureau and it will include both cable and broadcast networks. I had to blink and rub my eyes when I read that. I grew up in cable and broadcast networks did their best to ignore and make fun of cable until cable starting really nibbling into the bones of their business.

That they are beginning to work together is breathtaking. But they have to because they are the bastions of linear television, shows that start on the hour or half hour.

Collectively, they are beginning to feel the heat of the digital revolution and are banding together to stand up to the digital alternatives. They are talking a lot about “premium video” and the place it holds in the advertising plans of brands. And the largest cable companies such as Time Warner are joining them in this effort.

It has a bit of the feel of the Persians assembling their massive fleet at Salamis only to be outmatched by the smaller, swifter Greek ships, resulting in a Persian rout that has been called one of the most important battles in history.

So the networks, broadcast and cable, joined by cable companies are assembling their ships to fight off the digital upstarts who are beginning to take some of their meat, advertising dollars.

Wow, I am still getting a grip on this.

Last night were the Webby Awards, the Emmys of the Net. Ellie Kemper won as Best Actress for “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” Here’s where you will find her being presented with the award and her thank you speech, which is limited to five words by the Webby rules. It is adult humor.

The press today was filled with reports from yesterday about how Obama as President of the United States is now on Twitter as @POTUS. There were witty back and forth comments from Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton and Vice President Biden. I wasn’t sure it deserved all the hoopla but then we need to think about other things than the loss of Ramadi.

Tomorrow you may want to watch CBS’s Morning Show as it will be broadcasting from atop 1WTC, the building previously known as “The Freedom Tower,” the one built on the site of the old World Trade Center. They promise a preview of the building, which officially opens on Friday. I will look for the YouTube cuts.

Everyday I get The Daily Digg, highlighting the top stories of the day. Today I found out that Shell Oil Company’s legendary band of futurists is predicting that the world will probably get four to seven degrees warmer sooner than later, which is why it makes sense to go to the Artic to drill for oil. We’re not moving fast enough to turn back the tide.

They seem like a merry band, these futurists. They establish scenarios for best and worst-case scenarios. But it seems they think the best-case scenario for global warming has missed its boat and we had better prepare for worse.

And, lastly, tonight is the finale for the long and storied run of David Letterman on CBS, who is signing off “The Late Show with David Letterman” for good. Sayonara, David, and good luck!