Category Archives: entertainment news

Trumps to forgo presidential tradition

This is the least surprising development of the past few days regarding the presidency of Donald John Trump Sr.

The president and first lady are going to skip the Kennedy Center Honors annual ceremony. You wonder why? You know the answer, but I will offer my version of the rationale anyway.

The White House issued a statement that said the Trumps want the honorees to enjoy the ceremony without the “distractions” that have been swirling around of late.

Put another way: The president doesn’t want to get booed out of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts building where the ceremony will take place later this year.

I get that. No president wants to be scorned during an event designed to honor the contributions to the arts by notable entertainment celebrities and artists.

Three honorees — TV producer Norman Lear, singer Lionel Richie and dancer Carmen de Lavallade — have said they would boycott the ceremony because of the firestorm that the president has ignited related to the Charlottesville, Va., riot. A fourth honoree, rapper/actor LL Cool J, hasn’t yet said whether he’ll attend; a fifth honoree, singer Gloria Estefan, said she’ll got but plans to try to persuade the president to change his tune about immigration policy.

This annual event usually features a first couple appearance at the Kennedy Center. Presidents and first ladies hobnob with the honorees and other invited guests. It’s one of the social events of the year.

The current president, though, has managed to make a mess of even that with his remarks after the riot that “both sides” were to blame for the violence. He then effectively put the hate group participants on the same level as those who gathered in Charlottesville to form a counter protest that turned violent and deadly.

Trump has a dicey relationship as it is with the arts community, given his cozying up with those who are anathema to the prevailing world view among artists. I don’t know about you but I am pretty sure you won’t find many artists aligning with white supremacists, Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members.

It’s all just as well that the Trumps stay away.

Now it’s the Arts Council calling it quits

It was a fairly big deal when two business-friendly advisory councils got disbanded in the wake of Donald John Trump’s bizarre remarks regarding the Charlottesville riot.

Several CEOs walked away from the councils. The president then disbanded them altogether.

Then the Joint Chiefs of Staff issued statements about their military services’ intolerance of racism and bigotry, seemingly to challenge the commander in chief’s statement equating the hate groups and those protesting them.

Now the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities has folded up. It’s gone. This isn’t such a huge surprise, given the artistic community’s contentious relationship with the Trump administration.

Taken together, though, I am left with the impression of a president becoming increasingly disengaged by special interests of virtually all stripes. The disbanding of the Manufacturing Council and the Strategic and Policy Council represents a serious breach between the business community and a president who has been touting his own business acumen and success.

The Joint Chiefs’ statement also speaks eloquently about whether the commander in chief is aware of the policies being implemented by the service commanders. That rebuke speaks loudly as well.

The Arts and Humanities council breakup isn’t such a surprise.

But in the context of the entire dismantling of all these advisory groups, it speaks volumes about how the Trump administration is managing to destroy these traditional relationships meant to build bridges between government and the interests it serves.

Again, the president’s words are doing harm across the board. The Arts and Humanities Council made its feeling known in a letter to the White House and to the president.

According to ABC News: “Ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words and actions,” the letter reads. “Supremacy, discrimination, and vitriol are not American values. Your values are not American values. We must be better than this. We are better than this. If this is not clear to you, then we call on you to resign your office, too.”

Donald Trump isn’t likely to quit just because some actors and other artists want to do so. He is quite likely, though, to continue inflicting damage.

A glimpse into my city’s future?

ST. PAUL, Minn. — It might be that I have caught a glimpse of Amarillo, Texas’s future.

It presented itself more than 1,000 miles north of the Texas Panhandle in Minnesota’s capital city.

Amarillo is in the midst of a downtown renovation/revival/redevelopment. It includes a first-class hotel that’s about to open next to a first-class performance center, across the street from the Civic Center.

St. Paul happens to have — and perhaps this is just a coincidence — a world-class entertainment venue across the street from a historic hotel. I didn’t see the municipal complex, but it cannot be too far from the hotel and the performing arts center, given that this city’s downtown is fairly compact.

We came here to visit my cousin and her husband, who took us to see a world-class performance of “Jesus Christ, Superstar” at the Ordway Entertainment Center. Before we went to the play, we enjoyed a light dinner at the St. Paul Hotel, which was built in 1910.

The hotel was packed. So was the Ordway center.

Oh, did I mention that down the street in St. Paul there’s a ballpark where they play minor-league baseball? There. I just did.

Which brings me to another point: Amarillo is about to break ground on construction of a multipurpose event venue/ballpark which — another coincidence! — will be the home field for a AA minor-league baseball team that will relocate to Amarillo from San Antonio.

They played a ballgame at the St. Paul ballpark. After it ended, they shot off fireworks that entertained a huge crowd of folks gathered in an outdoor park.

I now shall put some of this into a bit of perspective.

St. Paul’s population is about 304,000; Amarillo’s is at 200,000. St. Paul is next to Minneapolis; its metro-area population is about 3.5 million residents, while Amarillo’s metro population is about 280,000. St. Paul is separated from Minneapolis by the Big Muddy, aka the Mississippi River; Amarillo doesn’t have that kind of waterway coursing through it.

So, I realize I’m not making an apples-to-apples comparison.

I do, though, intend to suggest that economies of scale can produce success for Amarillo’s effort to remake its downtown district. Our city’s economic development gurus keep looking toward places such as Fort Worth and Oklahoma City as benchmarks for Amarillo’s potential future. They, too, have done well to revive their downtown districts.

I continue to harbor enormous optimism that Amarillo’s effort is going to produce success. Will it reap the pound-for-pound harvest that other communities have hauled in? Not necessarily. If Amarillo is smart, aggressive and creative in its marketing of what lies ahead, then it surely can enjoy the fruits of it all.

We came up way up north and saw what looks to me like a potential glimpse of what lies ahead for Amarillo, Texas.

Not just a ‘mall’

MINNEAPOLIS — Many of you have seen something like this already. If so, then just bear with me for a moment as I share this brief note about something I’d heard about but had never seen up close and personal.

The Mall of America sits right across the highway from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. We came here during the middle of a work week. The place was packed. I am led to believe, therefore, that this shopping extravaganza is some sort of destination for travelers.

It’s likely the largest shopping mall on Planet Earth. And, oh man, it is an impressive display of conspicuous consumption.

We walked into the heart of the Mall of America and noticed a Ferris wheel, a zip line, a roller coaster and assorted other smaller rides for the hundreds of children running around the place like little banshees.

My wife and I came here to visit my cousin and her husband. The Mall of America was on their list of sights to see. I normally am not a “mall guy,” but this place is utterly breathtaking. It’s not that it’s a marvelous place to, um, shop. It’s the size of the place that is so damn stunning.

A friend of mine who used to write for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune once called the Mall of America “the place that covers all of southern Minnesota.” I am beginning to believe that description is closer to the truth than I ever expected.

We had lunch at a noisy restaurant. Walked around the place a bit and then left.

Shopping malls are meant, I always thought, to provide a place for folks to buy all different types of merchandise under one roof.

But … zip lines and roller coasters? Holy cow!

D’oh! There’s also Al Franken

I have committed an error of omission.

In a previous blog post noting the possible entry of two entertainer/political novices into politics, I forgot to mention one of the more notable former entertainers who’s actually making a name for himself on Capitol Hill.

Al (Stuart Smalley) Franken has served in the U.S. Senate from Minnesota and has become arguably one of the upper congressional chamber’s most eloquent progressive voices

Franken was elected initially in 2008, defeating Republican Sen. Norm Coleman.

Franken’s original claim to fame? He was a comedy writer for “Saturday Night Live” and then assumed the character “Stuart Smalley,” the guy with that strange sense of self-awareness.

He’s also written some political books and was a radio personality on Air America, the left-wing broadcasting network; he quit Air America to run for the Senate.

Has he performed well in the Senate? In my view … yes! Then again, I’m aligned with him politically.

I suppose Sen. Franken can be a positive example of how someone who’s never run for or held public office can rise to the occasion. Franken has done so.

I regret omitting him in that previous blog post. My bad, man.

Kid Rock for Senate? Oh, my


Kid Rock for Senate? Oh, my

Donald J. Trump’s election as president of the United States perhaps has opened the door for some, um, unlikely future politicians.

I mean, think of it. The idea that a guy with no public service experience, whose claim to “fame” comes from his talent for publicizing his brand by slapping his name on tall buildings, his ownership of beauty pageants and his celebrity status gleaned from his reality TV show, could get elected is utterly mind-boggling.

Kanye “Kim Kardashian’s Husband” West announced he might run for president in 2020. OK, he’s also a rapper of some repute. Go for it, dude.

And now it’s Kid Rock saying he is thinking about running for the U.S. Senate from his home state of Michigan. Hey, why not? Trump gave him a tour of the White House not long after he got elected.

It’s been said by parents to their children for countless generations that “anyone can get elected president.” Donald Trump surely proved that axiom in November 2016.

He might be opening the door for some other — profoundly unqualified candidates — as well.

Oh, brother.

What? Ringo turns Double-7?

Ringo Starr has become a metaphor for my old age.

Oh, where has the time gone? You know who this guy is, right? He came into the world with the name Richard Starkey. He grew up in Liverpool, England. He played the drums a bit. Then he joined this band that had just fired its original drummer. They needed someone new to play the sticks for them.

John, Paul and George hired Ringo and, well, as they say: the rest is history.

He was the oldest of his new bandmates by just a few months; he was born July 7, 1940, just ahead of John Lennon, who was born Oct. 9 of that year.

Ringo’s musical imprint — along with that of John, George Harrison and Paul McCartney — became the signature not just for my generation, but for others that have come along since then.

But … not for everyone.

A couple of years ago, when Ringo was turning 75 — which is one of those landmark birthdays — I approached a colleague of mine at the business where I worked part time. I mentioned to her — suffice to say she is a good bit younger than yours truly, let alone Ringo — that it was Ringo’s 75th birthday. Isn’t that cool?

She gave me a blank stare and, as the Good Lord is my solemn witness, she said: Who’s Ringo Starr?

I’m pretty sure my jaw hit the ground. I also am pretty certain that my eyes damn near flew out of my head. How in the name of all that is holy and sacred does this young woman not know anything about Ringo Starr, one-fourth of the band that shaped her parents’ generation?

“Why, I never,” I answered my friend. “Don’t you know that this guy helped raise me?” And he did, too — right along with those three other guys.

If only Ringo would see this blog and know that in that one fleeting instant I had his back. The old drummer is about to turn 77. I hope my former colleague has learned just a little something about this living legend.

She just has to ask her parents.

Trump has been called out by, um, the best

I almost don’t know how to react to this item.

Joy Reid is a TV talk show host. Her MSBNC show is called “AM Joy.” This morning she welcomed a guest to discuss Donald J. Trump’s tweet storm, namely the hideous nature of his attacks on the media.

Reid’s guest was none other than Jerry Springer, the king of daytime trash TV. Springer — of all the people on Earth — said that the president’s tweets are beneath the dignity “of any decent man.”

Roll that one around for a moment. Springer, of course, is correct. Part of me wants to applaud Springer for speaking out. Another part of me cannot get past the supreme irony of such a message coming from this guy.

I need to mention, though, that before Springer made his fortune playing host to TV guests accusing each other of engaging in behavior that boggles any reasonable mind, he once was mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio.

So, Mr. President? Take a bow. You’ve been called out by the best.

Check it out here.

Celebrities’ comments have this way of reverberating

Johnny Depp has joined a list of celebrities with big mouths.

Depp, the movie actor, mused out loud the other day about the last time an actor assassinated a president. He seemed to suggest that’s what he wants to do, follow in the footsteps of another actor, John Wilkes Booth, who shot President Lincoln to death in April 1865.

Bad call, Johnny.

I guess what these folks need to grasp is the notion that their celebrity status not only acquires loyal followings for them, it also magnifies their idiotic statements or actions. For the record, I am not a fan of Johnny Depp.

The “comedian” Kathy Griffin? She was video recorded holding up the image of a severed head depicting that of Donald J. Trump.

The over-the-hill rocker/guitarist Ted Nugent has said a multitude of hideous things about Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Now we have Depp popping off, trying to be clever. Instead he sounds stupid.

Donald Trump’s son, Don Jr., has slammed Depp. You’d expect a son to come to the defense of his father.

Depp has apologized for his idiocy. It doesn’t erase it, sad to say.

These folks are entitled to their political opinions, just as you are entitled to yours and I am to mine. I don’t know about you, but I express my opinions freely on this blog.

The difference, though, between us and those who have some kind of celebrity status is that — in my case, at least — I can sound like a dumba** and relatively few people are going to pay attention. When someone such as Johnny Depp says something stupid, then many others’ ears perk up.

That includes the Secret Service.

A word to wise ought to go to Johnny Depp and other celebs with strongly held political opinions: be circumspect.

Happy Trails, Part 24

Retirement has allowed us to become reacquainted with elements of our individual and collective upbringing.

That’s not as strange as it might sound.

We travel in a 28-foot fifth wheel. We hook up at RV campgrounds usually looking at least for water and electric hookups; if we get sewer connections, that’s all the better.

Television reception depends on a couple of variables: Do we have cable or do we rely on our antenna? Most of the time, it’s antenna use.

Here is where the past meets the present.

We extend our antenna, program our “auto channel tuner” setting. Bingo! We get a plethora of channels. Many of them feature old-time TV.

We get to watch some of the programs we grew up watching. These old-timer networks broadcast programs such as “The Lone Ranger,” “Lassie,” “My Three Sons,” “Have Gun Will Travel,” “Perry Mason,” well … you get the idea. Then we get the cheesy game shows with those whopping $500 payouts to the winners.

The most entertaining aspect of watching this television programming is its innocence. The Lone Ranger, for instance, knows how to solve every situation that he and Tonto encounter. I find myself feeling a bit sorry for Tonto, who is portrayed as a know-nothing who has to ask Kemo Sabe for advice on how to solve every single crisis they encounter.

There’s a certain irony, if you think about it, in watching this flashback television. The older we have become, more exposure we get to the experiences of our youth.