Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Don't even suggest it...

Click on image to enlarge


  1. In this instance I’m with Phillips. I don’t know what the tenor of the relationship between Cohen and Phillips may be, and whether Phillips is being short with Cohen in part on that basis or purely in response to Cohen’s suggestion, but I can appreciate Phillips’ response.

    Cohen’s suggestion is that of an ignorant amateur, as if the considerations involved in producing broadcast quality radio largely involve ‘Gee, here’s a good idea, why don’t you do this?’

    If it’s coming literally from a child, or a person who acknowledges complete ignorance, it should be treated politely if you can summon the patience.

    Cohen is a former LSB president?

    He floats this, and then his feelings are hurt?


    Did he rage? Did he weep?

    To pitch a ‘bright idea’ that way to someone up to his eyeballs in snakes and alligators is, quite simply, offensive.

    Very offensive.

    In the sort of situation I understand Phillips to be in, prioritization and triage are everything – management in most such instances must be, perforce, management by exclusion – the answer to most appeals for time and attention must of necessity be a very firm ‘NO’ – whatever gets past that firm barrier may (emphasis on the word ‘may’) be considered, likely with some haste as time pressures may allow.

    If you can pitch something you can put together and deliver, fine, it may be worth a hasty minute to consider, but if all you have to offer is a ‘bright idea’ that ‘gee, this would be a good series, why don’t you do it, it’s a great idea, golly gee’ (when ‘doing it’ would indeed mean getting permissions, equipment, people who can record to an appropriate standard, edit and if necessary mix, etc, etc, etc.)

    Only children and naifs think the challenge is coming up with ‘good ideas’. The challenge isn’t coming up with the idea that two young people madly in love from feuding families might make for an interesting love story. The challenge is execution – making it happen, making it live – not the bright idea. Indeed, ‘high-concept’ films are ‘good ideas’ – and most of them are… well, we know what most of them are.

    I’m not defending WBAI’s or Pacifica’s management, and I’m not defending Phillips’ in global terms, but in this instance, as it’s described here…
    [frank language alert]

    I would have fucking handed Cohen his fucking head in a sack.

    ~ Indigo Pirate

    1. Excerpt from 21September13 post by TPM in which he apologies for having written, “Fuck you, Sidney. You're an ignorant flag-waving moron.”

      …I agree with your pleas for civility. Indigo Pirate is a good example of someone who can advocate a cause or criticize an opinion without lowering himself to vulgarity or ad hominem attacks.

      Explanation for above post:
      It was written by me, TPM, and not Indigo Pirate. Occasionally, late at night, I forget my name.


    2. IP - I agree with at least some of your comments here and I didn't bother to read the last sentence until somewhat later. Since you often seem to make good sense let me give you my reasons why I think this kind of language should be avoided. If other people see this kind of thing go unchallenged they will assume that this kind of thing is acceptable here and this will influence their own postings. If this kind of thing spreads this blog risks devolving into the all to frequent forum for vile language and name calling. That's my opinion anyway.

    3. With respect, I disagree. I’m with George Carlin on this one. It’s intent and effect that matter, not magical words of evil in my judgement. I disagreed with the station’s decision to fight the Carlin case because I thought it was unnecessary (the FCC only required acceptance of the rebuke and a finger-wagging ‘Don’t do that again’ in WBAI’s file) and likely to be lost and in being lost to establish an undesirable and restrictive precedent. When the ruling came in most staffers were astonished. I wasn’t. I try not to traffic in self-delusion more than necessary, though none of us, including myself, can avoid it entirely.

      If I want to seriously insult someone I’m likely to avoid ‘frank language’ simply because if one employs such language many folks (particularly middle-class) are able to shrug off the insult because such language was employed.

      In this case I was simply attempting to illustrate the degree of vicious dismissal likely to result in many cases from pitching an ‘idea’ such as Cohen’s to anyone in media who makes decisions. That dismissal might or might not employ such ‘frank language’, but it would be every bit as sharp as what I attempted to reflect by my use of such language.

      Indeed, such language, as I indicated, is more easily accepted than ‘proper’ English when used in an effective attack.

      In any event, I was attempting to illustrate my judgement of such situations. As I’d indicated earlier in that particular screed, I have no knowledge of Mr Cohen, and no personal animosity toward him.

      On the contrary.

      I simply wanted to be clear that to approach a harried decision-maker with such a proposal is likely to lead to a curt dismissal at best – and quite likely a casual back-of-the-hand vicious dismissal.

      All this said, it’s likely a moot issue. I rarely if ever employ such language in this sort of context, precisely because it becomes a distraction.

      Contemporary American culture has become, in my estimation, far too susceptible to having its feelings hurt, as if it were a whiney child, with individuals and groups looking to dictate what words may or may not be used lest they be ‘insulted’ or their ever-so-delicate feelings hurt.

      I ain’t that delicate, and like Ted Hughes’ hawk, I will when I judge it appropriate, rip off more than a few heads.

      In this case, though, no such intent, I assure you.

      I wish Mr Cohen well, and I respect his likely intent. I would suggest, however, that he get a thicker skin if he wants to be involved in any way, shape, or form with media.

      If not, and I mean this sincerely, it’s probably better to stay home.

      Even publishing is no longer the genteel domain it once was, and as for the rest… well… let’s not go there.

      Frank language might be both required and inevitable :)

      ~ Indigo Pirate

    4. Just don't let it fucking happen again.


    5. I [Carlin Word Deleted] certainly won't.

      ~ Indigo Pirate

  2. IP--As someone who has participated in videos as well as a public-access cable program, I think your response to Cohen is spot-on. And, like you, I don't defend BAI's management broadly, but I agree that Phillips' response was warranted.

    Now, if he could only have so little patience with Bertold Reimers.

  3. Knowing Mitchel Cohen, I am more forgiving of his occasional well meaning naivete. Below is an e-mail I recently sent him in response to one of his e-mails in which he pleaded to the heavens for some rational response from management to the crisis of WBAI:

    Mitch, let it go. WBAI sucks. It's a crappy confused radio station that is no longer worth thinking about. It's represented by pathological liars (Dingeman) con-men(Null, Starman, Davis) and misfits (almost everyone else with a program.) You are not in any of these categories. You are a 20th Century Don Quixote--in the best sense, defending an ideal that no longer exists.

    Friday and Saturday nights, WBAI devotes its airtime to black airheads and adolescents with some of the worst music and hosts I've ever heard on any radio station. Most of the rest of the time, it's also pretty lame.

    Kathy Davis, Starman, and that Bradey character disgrace the station with programs that no respectable Christian radio station would touch. The morning shows are NPR quality or worse. I'm tired of Sojourner Truth. Is there a part of the mission statement that mandates black hosts at drive time? Blacks are part of the rainbow and their culture and concerns deserve to be represented. But blacks are about 17% of the NYC population and are over-represented in all facets of WBAI. What about the rest of us?

    At one time in my life, WBAI was on every minute I was in my car or my house. That ended when Samori died. WBAI died with him.

    Let it go, Mitch. I've read your poetry. It's good. Write more. Write plays. Write a book about WBAI. Dance. Have fun. But stop wasting your time with the burnt-out ends of smoky studios, and the grimy scraps of withered hosts about your feet, and loony GMS from vacant lots.

    Apologies to T.S. Eliot.