Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Lorena Bobbitt, Call Your Office
From the Asian desk, this ditty:
(AP) KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia A man who apparently severed his penis in an attempt to convince his wife that he was faithful to her was recovering after surgery to reattach the organ at a northern Malaysian hospital, a news report said Tuesday.The 41-year-old man, who was not identified, got into an argument last Friday with his wife, who found a text message on his mobile phone from another woman. The man was heard by his son shouting that he wanted to prove he was not having an affair, the New Straits Times reported.The assertion was followed by loud screams and the man emerged from his room bleeding profusely, his 14-year-old son quoted as saying. His wife rushed him to hospital.
AND IN OTHER PENIS NEWS.....
Artificial Foreskin for Circumcised Men - The Enhanced 'SenSlip' Mk 2 is Launched
SALISBURY, England, May 31 /PRNewswire/ -- Viafin-Atlas is proud to announce the launch of the Enhanced "SenSlip" Mk 2 Artificial Foreskin which has been developed for circumcised men who lack sensitivity in their penis. "The 'SenSlip' is a simple, natural, and unique therapeutic penis cover which to date has helped many men and their partners with their sex lives," said James Williams, CEO of Viafin-Atlas. "The worldwide success of the original 'SenSlip' has allowed conclusive and positive feedback to be used in the development for the enhanced lightweight version which is more effective and easier to apply and wear."
The original patented "SenSlip" launched in 2005 by Viafin-Atlas is the first of its kind in the world and was developed in response to recent medical research. "The 'SenSlip' undergarment consists of fine double-skinned and protective layers produced from high-grade natural latex and viscose rayon fibers. Many men lose penile sensitivity over time, but when the 'SenSlip' is worn daily, it naturally enables the head of the penis to de-keratinize and regain the normal sensitivity which is so often lost through circumcision and age," said Williams.
Trial packs containing three of the enhanced "SenSlip" products can be purchased from http://www.viafin-atlas.com/. An animated video and images can be seen at http://www.senslip.com/.
And in yet more manstick news, the folks at The Wow Report offer up this sad tale of a Chinese penis suffering from a bad case of rejection.
Just try not to squirm.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
If you venture beyond the hotel bar, or the military press briefing room, do you become fearless because you have to? Do you remember that you're a journalist, not a soldier? Do you never forget that it's called a war zone for a reason?
CBS' Kimberly Dozier and her crew had years of experience answering those questions correctly. And still it wasn't enough to prevent an IED from killing cameraman Paul Douglas and sound man James Brolan, while Dozier was left seriously wounded.
During my time at CBS Radio I was on the receiving end of many a Dozier dispatch from one hotspot or another. It could have been Kosovo or Macedonia, some godforsaken hole in the dead of the Afghanistan winter or the hot spot du jour in the Middle East.
Suffice to say, she's a field reporter first, a journalistic grunt -- in the best sense of the term -- often working in what could be generously called arduous conditions, but considered that a small price to pay for being our eyes and ears as history unfolds.
And few have understood, appreciated that role better and relished it even more.
I especially remember one chilling dispatch from Ramallah where a mortar shell got a little too close for comfort. It startled but didn't shake her and it made for gripping radio, one reason she's won three Gracie awards from American Women in Radio and Television.
Even in such moments you were concerned but not afraid for her. Her dedication was never supplanted by recklessness. The same could be said for Monday in Baghdad. But this time, that wasn't enough.
As she begins what will be an extended recovery, save a good thought for Kimberly. And two more for the families of her fallen comrades.
Monday, May 22, 2006
As we wait to find out whether Barbaro, the confident, even cocky winner of the Kentucky Derby will survive the surgery following his gut-churning breakdown in the Preakness, it's time to come to grips with what millions watching that sad moment felt on Saturday.
It doesn't matter whether you're an inveterate horse player, who someone who just tunes in for the Triple Crown races to watch a spectacle, maybe even history in the making.
What you don't expect is to see a majestic athlete get injured -- perhaps mortally so -- while you're watching -- as it valiantly tries to understand what happened and why it can't do what it's trained to do, namely run faster than anybody else.
Which is why your emotions grip you so, why you cry out, or just plain cry, watching a frightened colt battle the pain as his jockey dismounts and tries to keep him calm. You see the shots of the trainer racing to the track, the horse's owners dressed in their finest breaking down into tears, and not because a big payday has gone up in smoke.
Injuries are part of sports. But rarely are the consequences of those injuries so immediately apparent. With rare exception -- Joe Theismann, Daryl Stingley, e.g. -- the athlete is helped off the field or at least carted away to a hospital. The crowd politely applauds his grit and everyone moves on.
But when you see a horse ambulance scream across the track, you only fear the worst, and for good reason. There's a very fine line between surgery and euthanasia with injured thoroughbreds, so magnificent, yet so vulnerable, so gallant in their prime, yet so irretrievably fragile.
We know all this, but still we pray or mourn in a way that would be alien in any other sport. But why? There's a nice piece that tries to answer that question in The New York Times today by Jane Schwartz, who wrote another book about Ruffian, a tragic filly who broke down in a match race and later had to be destroyed.
"When we care about someone, or some animal, our first instinct is to reject the idea of death. Most people want to leave open at least a small window of opportunity for hope," Schwartz writes. "Perhaps the real miracle — the one that matters to all of us, whether we know it or not — is that so many of us are still capable of caring so much. "
Another answer might be found in what may be the most outstanding article ever written about thoroughbred by William Nack, who spent much of his sportswriting career in and around a track. Nack, like many of us, fell in love with Secretariat. But unlike any of us, he got to know the horse and those who cared about him the most like no other. Which made his piece on the Triple Crown-winner's last moments in 1989 a heart-rending masterpiece.
I phoned Annette Covault, an old friend who is the mare booker at Claiborne, and she was crying when she read the message: "Secretariat was euthanized at 11:45 a.m. today to prevent further suffering from an incurable condition. . . ."
The last time I remember really crying was on St. Valentine's Day 1982, when my wife called to tell me that my father had died. At the moment she called, I was sitting in a purple room in Caesars Palace, in Las Vegas, waiting for an interview with the heavyweight champion, Larry Holmes. Now here I was, in a different hotel room in a different town, suddenly feeling like a very old and tired man of 48, leaning with my back against a wall and sobbing for a long time with my face in my hands.
Consider his books "Secretariat: The Making of A Champion" and a collection of his writing, "My Turf: Horses, Boxers, Blood Money, and the Sporting Life" -- which includes that unforgettable piece -- must reading.
The "60 Minutes" crew offered up a nifty valentine last night to Mike Wallace, who is leaving ship where he's been the chief cook and bottle washer since the show got off to a quiet, innocuous start in 1968.
All of his long-time colleagues, Bradley, Kroft, Stahl and sparring partner/friend Safer got the chance to interview Wallace, who was at once chastened and relieved when Safer asked him if he ever tried to kill himself.
Wallace answered in the affirmative, without reflection or tears. In fact, the only time he came close to being emotional about anything besides his work was when Safer asked about the death of one of his sons. But he moved on. After all, Barbara Walters wasn't in the room.
Wallace got the last word after Andy Rooney told us that "60 Minutes" wasn't going to be as good anymore now that Wallace was leaving, which I'm sure warmed the heart of Executive Producer Jeff Fager.
But as Wallace closed out his valedictory, he decided to go with a sawhorse, rather than his own unique goosebump moment.
"As for the last word, I cannot improve on those spoken for many years by a true legend who preceded me at CBS News. He would say simply, 'good night and good luck.'"
Well, I guess, it's better than "Courage."
Friday, May 12, 2006
Among the latter has been the Los Angeles Times, still mighty and putting out a quality product, even though it continues to bleed circulation (about 852,000, down about 5.4 percent from a year ago).
The sports section has not been immune to cutbacks, with the result that fewer local college teams get coverage, there's less agate in the back pages and reporters don't travel quite like they used to.
So, it should raise more than a few heads when newish sports editor Randy Harvey names a three-man team to do investigations and enterprise reporting in the section.
Smart move. If the Times, or any newspaper, is to thrive in today's cutthroat media environment, it needs to provide content you can't get anywhere else. And that starts with old-fashioned, shoe-leather investigations.
Game coverage is, of course, vital. But it's no longer a reason to pay for a paper. Enterprise projects are. That the beancounters at Tribune Co. let this go through -- assuming they knew about it -- is quite a feat.
The key will be writing these pieces in such a way that they impress more than just Pulitzer judges. Brevity has never been the soul of wit at the Times. Provide the meat. Just don't forget to make it tasty.
Read the memo on the appointments at: http://www.laobserved.com/archive/2006/05/muscling_up_in_sports.html
The Mafia may not be what it once was -- and who of us are ? -- but when the time is right they still know how to TCB old-style.
But eventually you feel like you've read about one whack, and you read about them all. Which presents a challenge for crime and court reporters to liven things up.
Which is what makes William Rashbaum's piece in the N.Y. Times a winner, if for no other reason the third paragraph:
The charges reveal another interesting aspect to the case: The mob associate and former marine who prosecutors say was paid $8,000 by a Bonanno crime family soldier to carry out the hit is black. And one of his accomplices disposing of the body that day is Hispanic. Both are something of a rarity in the Mafia, not an enterprise known for its commitment to diversity.
What could have been a little throwaway line is instead a sly combination of wit and matter-of-fact reportage, no doubt inspired by this Gang Who Couldn't Kill Straight.
If new metro editor Joe Sexton's behind allowing such creativity onto his pages, all we can say is more of the same. Much more.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Universal Pans for "Tarzan" on Broadway Prompt Newsroom Knife Sharpening
Seldom was heard a non-discouraging word about Disney's musical version of "Tarzan," the Phil Collins musical that opened last night.
Tarzan may be king of the jungle, but judging by last night's notices he won't be King of Broadway anytime soon.
Sometimes, it's enough to read the headlines to see whether it's worth plunking down $110 for an orchestra seat.
The New York Post sums it up thus: "Bungle In The Jungle"
The UK's Daily Telegraph opines: "Tarzan swings, the songs don't," while the Sydney Morning Herald, in a roundup of reviews, notes "Word on the vine is that Tarzan's a stinker."
Best: the Daily News proclaiming on top of Howard Kissel's review: "Me critic, you lame!" Which, judging by the pans spread out across the papers today, about says it all.
Clear Channel On the Hook for a Big Case of Whoop-Ass From the FCC, Not to Mention New York's Asian Community
On morning radio, there's a distinction between being entertaining and merely being dumb. Admittedly, it's often a hazy distinction, but it's the difference between a shock jock being fawned over by management and given his walking papers.
The latter category is where we find Troi Torain, a/k/a Star, the, ahem, star of the morning show at hip-hop station Power 105.1 in New York, who has gained most of his notoriety for trash-talking other jocks, especially the ones at archrival Hot 97, his former employer.
As the Daily News reports:
Torain offered listeners $500 to tell him where the daughter of nemesis DJ Envy, of Hot 97, went to school.
"Yes, I disrespect your seed," Torain ranted. "If you didn't hear me, I said I would like to do an R. Kelly on your seed. On your little baby girl."
Torain, 42, described in graphic detail what he meant by the reference to the R&B singer Kelly, who allegedly committed an unnatural act on an underage girl, a stunt captured on a widely circulated video.
Oh, yeah. The daughter in question is all of four.
And he wasn't done yet. He called DJ Envy's half-Asian wife Gia a "slant-eyed whore," "lo mein eater" and a "gook," which prompted City Councilman John Liu to proclaim in a news conference that Star should be "terminated from the face of this Earth."
Good thing for Star, then, that Liu represents Queens, not some district in Tehran.
Not that two wrongs make a right, but DJ Envy is hardly a choir boy, as the New York Post reminds us. Last year, he and his radio partner Miss Jones were suspended for two weeks without pay for a "We Are The World" tsunami parody that mocked the victims and used Asian slurs. No doubt, that didn't earn him any brownie points at home, but it fell short of a call for a jihad by Councilman Liu.
What was somewhat amusing is the statement from Clear Channel that says "we sincerely apologize to those who may have been offended by his remarks."
May have been offended? Which implies there were those who weren't offended and undoubtedly there were many. Don't expect an apology, though, to that faction for taking their morning man off the air.
Go to http://www.musicradio77.com/wwwboard/messages/286155.html for a short clip of Star talking his way out of a job and hear what passes for radio nowadays.
And a Webmaster alert. This morning, if you go to the Power 105.1 Web site, Star and his partner Buc Wild are out there front and center on the home page albeit not on the list of djs.
Sometimes it's just so hard to say goodbye. So we'll say it. Goodbye, Star.
Monday, May 08, 2006
The Boston Herald is the distant second newspaper in a two-newspaper town where circulation continues to hemorrhage.
But the sun will come up tomorrow, insists Patrick Purcell, the Herald's owner and publisher. This, despite the $225 million sale late last week of a chain of Boston-area weeklies and small dailies that Purcell owned.
That basically leaves Purcell with the Herald, which is losing money, a reason the suburban papers' suitors declined to take on their big-city brother.
http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2006/05/06/heralds_owner_to_sell_suburban_papers_deal_is_put_at_225m/However, However, before you cue the Titanic's dance band, Purcell was in the Herald today, as sanguine as you could ever hope a newspaper publisher to be nowadays.
"I believe no paper does a better job at finding and telling the stories of Boston. We’re going to keep doing it. This newspaper and what it does are my passion. You bet we’re alive - and kicking."
Rah, rah, Pat.
There's optimism. And then there's advertising and readers. The latter two are in precious short supply lately for the Herald and Boston Globe, which saw its circulation plummet 8.5 percent compared to last year.
Exactly where is Purcell's optimism founded? Good question, as Dan Kennedy notes in his MediaNation blog.
Say what you want about the Herald, and many politicians in Boston have said plenty. A two-paper town is shamefully a rarity today. So, you have to root for the Herald's survival, even if you're not sure if Purcell really knows how he's going to ensure that will happen.
Nothing Magical for DJ Celebrating 20th Anniversary at Miami's Majic 102.7
Eric Brandon would have preferred a cake. Instead, he got a pink slip on his 20th anniversary at Majic 102.7, the oldies station in South Florida, where he did middays.
However, working 20 years in one place means you get paid a certain amount, which was apparently too much for the station. So, Brandon gets his walking papers, which is not a position that a 50-year-old DJ who worked most of his career in the same market wants to be in.
But that's radio biz, which in the era of mega-corporate owners, voice tracking and ever-changing formats is a cruel place to be.
Give Brandon credit for leaving on a high note, although he'd certainly be forgiven if that was not the case: "My sons were both raised on the radio and are now young men. It was a great experience and I'd do it all over again.''
Let's hope, though, that the kids don't follow Dad into the family business.
But There's Always An Exception, As The Boston Herald and Howie Carr (left) Will Be Quick To Remind You
Most of the MSM has let their audience do their eye-rolling for them in the latest embarrassment from Patrick Kennedy, Rhode Island's favorite drug-addicted, alcoholic, manic-depressive Congressman.
Kennedy last week blamed his passel of prescriptions for crashing his car in the wee hours in Washington and checked himself in -- again -- at the Mayo Clinic to cure him of his pill-popping, booze-swilling ways.
The Providence Journal, the most influential media outlet in Kennedy's home state, has closely covered the latest episode. Maybe too closely.
The editorial and op-ed pages have been free of any harsh assessments of Kennedy. Which may explain why he let them accompany him from a Friday news conference -- where he took no questions -- to the airport on his way to the Mayo Clinic, complete with a stop at his father's house, where he got a hug and "Love you" in full view of a reporter.
Of course, the ProJo will tell you there's no quid pro quo. But surely Kennedy knows how his hometown paper treats him. And surely it knows that he knows. It's good for scoop-garnering purposes, but not necessarily good journalism.
I suppose they will actually wait for him to be indicted on something before actually swinging for the fences, as they do with jailed ex-Mayor Buddy Cianci, who's angling to make a big comeback in public life.
But then there's the Boston Herald, which is firing on what cylinders it has left to skewer Kennedy, just like they've done to his dad all these years.
Political columnist Dave Wedge got to have it both ways -- covering the Kennedy contretemps as a reporter during the week, while unsheathing his machete for his Sunday column:
One aide to a high-level Washington official who encountered Kennedy a few months ago said the official was stunned by bizarre behavior on the congressman’s part.
Another source said Kennedy had been acting “zany” and “goofy” of late.
And then there was the barely legible accident report he filed after getting in a fender-bender in the parking lot of a Rhode Island pharmacy recently.
It’s pretty clear now why he was in such a rush.
Business columnist Brett Arends with a bare-knuckled, hilarious rendering of how Kennedy's pill-popping could explain the actions of other politicians, GOP and Democrat, though this being the Herald, mostly Democrat.
Doctors say Ambien addicts can talk, walk, and even drive while fast asleep. But that’s nothing. Kerry managed to sleepwalk through an entire presidential campaign. He spent months dazed, confused and disoriented on national TV.
But the man loving this the most is Herald columnist and radio host Howie Carr, who long ago dubbed Ted Kennedy "Fat Boy" and branded Patrick as "Patches." Suffice to say, it's been a good week to be Howie Carr and the hits just keep on coming 3-7 p.m. weekdays at www.wrko.com.
In listening to Carr's Friday podcast, there is one bit of good news for Patches. After the latest accident Carr says "I’m less inclined to believe he’s a member of a sexual minority than he once was."
Seems the bachelor 38-year-old Congressman was with a lady friend, he told the ProJo, when he suddenly got out of bed and said he had to go to Capitol Hill for a vote. The only problem: It was 2:45 a.m.
You can either scratch your head or let Carr do it instead for four hours at a time, fulminating about the kids-glove treatment he says Kennedy got from police, in contrast to how Cynthia McKinney was treated by Capitol cops when she tried to blast through a security checkpoint.
Raise a toast to the Kennedys, Howie. Just make it a Shirley Temple.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
So, now we have a tiny peek into what led the Associated Press to give Christopher Graff, their Vermont chief who was one of the Green Mountain State's top journalists, an unceremonial boot from his job in March.
The tipping point was -- as was widely suspected -- Graff putting on the wire an op-ed by Sen. Patrick Leahy that promoted open access to information in conjunction with Sunshine Week.
Graff has to abide by his severance agreement, and isn't commenting beyond this letter, which the AP allowed him to release. And the wire service is using its "personnel matter" excuse to clam up.
What's left unexplained is how could running the Leahy column be a firable offense when a similar column from Leahy in conjunction with Sunshine Week ran on the wire last year with nary a complaint from Graff's overseers.
Journalists love to hold others accountable, but often shriek like a vampire confronted with the dawn's early light when asked to explain their own actions.
The AP's self-righteous stance in canning Graff while not giving a real reason for why a 27-year veteran of the wire is no longer worthy of their employ calls into account the very credibility it professes to cherish not only with its media members but those whose activities they cover.
Leahy, for one, is not taking this lightly. As he stated in Editor & Publisher:
Those of us in public life never agree with all the news coverage we receive. But within the two rough-and-tumble professions of public service and journalism, I have never heard anything but praise about Chris Graff for his professionalism and his evenhandedness, and he has earned that praise.
If Pat Leahy doesn't have a problem, then the AP should have no trouble following suit.