Archive for the 'Weber’s word' Category


Weber’s Word, a note about the strike.

Steven WeberOur Left-Coast correspondent, Steven Weber, writes us about the post we had on the meeting with writers from the Daily Show, The Colbert Report and the West Wing.  We all hope he’s able to get back to work soon before we become emotionally investing in which pseudo-hooker will win Brett Michaels’ heart on Rock of Love.

Read your piece and found it informative on the topic, given that any “inside” information I’ve ever personally received has been through as many generations as pirated dvd’s and video tapes which have been passed around sans any compensation to those people who actually produced them, along with rendering the information scratchy, thumbworn and vague. First person experience is important when getting at the truth behind an issue. So having friends on both sides of the situation I must say once again that the writer’s strike (a particularly punitive appellation, framing the whole thing squarely on the uncompensated writers and pinning the collateral damage incurred by the strike solely on them, as opposed to management who are the ones firing ancillary employees. But I digress. Revolution, comrades!) is a microcosm of one of the key things ailing society at large. Sorry, but that’s the way I think.

Of course it’s not as sexy as the upcoming fix…I mean, election. It’s not as important as Iraq, the economy, the newest and thinnest MacBook. It’s not as incessant as the coverage of the death of a young movie star. But it is typical of what is happening to—dare I say it?—the middle class, a segment of Americans who are being steadily obliterated from the scene. The writers, like the aforementioned shriveling segment of the population, should be able to work hard and still enjoy the fruits of their labor, to contribute to the economy without burdening it with over-dependency, to be rightfully compensated and have certain protections guaranteed in good faith by their employers. It ain’t socialism. It’s good sense. To understand the strike, pick up a paper and read about the massive outsourcing of jobs, the lowering of wages and overall quality in virtually any industry and you get the idea. Nothing wrong with making a profit. Love it myself on those rare occasions. But being disingenuous about the issue of fair compensation in an industry that regularly makes jaw dropping profits (as the AMPTP has been), even as it tries to reconfigure itself for the future will lead to more decline in wages and quality. Does TV suck? Like the business end of a pilot fish. So does public education. But that (again, in my humble opinion) is due to, what kids? Lower standards! Lower wages! Lower quality! Yay! Not aiming high, not being charitable where necessary, not using restraint on occasion and just being plain greedy. Something must happen to people when they make their first million and smell the possibility of more: they finally unburden themselves from civility and common sense. “Thank god I don’t have to give a shit about being fair or polite or helping my fellow man! I’m free to consume with abandon! I’m gonna charge more, pay less, feather my own nest and when it all goes bust take a powder! Outta my way, impoverished swine!” I’m digressing again. Won’t some hot, curvy, amoral young Republican babe anchor me?

So in conclusion (wake up for it), what the writers want is fair. What the AMPTP wants is not. The corporate paradigm at work is glaringly obvious. One just has to choose which side appeals to your own values. But you have to be there to know.



Steven Weber

Our Hollywood corespondent, Steven Weber, writes in a message for the new year. Since we’re on vacation and most of us are out of town, updating will be erratic, so we’re doubly grateful for Steven chiming in. For the record, we get at least 10 readers a day, not the 7-8 he references. Merry Christmas to all, thanks for reading and a why the hell are you reading this or any blog on Christmas day? Go find something better to do like hang with your family (or watch 24 hours of A Christmas Story on TBS) and come back tomorrow. 

And now, Steven Weber:

I want to thank you for letting me contribute to First
Fridays. It’s been interesting, fun and provocative despite the
lightweight content of my posts. I prefer that approach to actually
risking pissing off folks who could potentially buy me drinks.
But before I wish you all a happy new year, I would like to
spout some shallow platitudes.

In the year leading up to the next presidential election,
there is reason for me to believe that, unlike other elections where
impassioned geeks on both sides state that it will be the most
important this country has ever had, this election will be—ahem—
the most important one the country’s ever had. Because more than ever
it seems to me (a Brit Humian qualifier if there ever was one. And
man, is it freeing!) as far as leadership is concerned, the messenger
has become the message, the style has become the substance. If any of
FF’s good readers can’t see through the Huckabees, the Romneys, the
Giulianis, the Hillarys (that last one was a lobbed softball if there
ever was one) and fail equally to take, say, a Ron Paul or a Dennis
Kucinich seriously, then there is a real impediment to seeing the
most important promise a democracy offers its citizens fulfilled. And
at a time when the message is homogenized, weakened and reduced to
evoking basic knee jerk responses from a cowed and distracted
electorate rather than thoughtful responses from an informed and
trusted one, I’m afraid I see terrible problems now and in the future
and with little hope for abatement. When profit trumps liberty, when
consuming material goods has become as essential to Americans’ lives
as breathing, then the spirit in which this country was founded is in
peril and the downhill slide is ever more speedy and inexorable. I
don’t think America was ever meant to become a massive strip mall run
by a handful of commercial interests catering almost exclusively to
the well-off. Religion has a place but was never meant to take
precedence over reason. A monopolized media was meant to be deterred
as the enemy of the essential, unfiltered dispensing of truth. Thrift
and responsibility was prized in government, as well as faith in its
charitable instincts over its warring ones. Ingenuousness was
expected in its elected officials rather than the knowing wink and
the accepted exchange of money. And the only thing to be truly feared
was ignorance.

To me, moderation is the key to our nation’s survival; not the
eradication of diverse points of view but rather their inclusion; to
banish extremism and mediocrity to the fringes of society where they
belong rather than letting them influence policy too strongly,
infecting the mainstream and breeding a mob mentality; to give
citizens true participation in government by making sure that the
voting process is free from manipulation and corruption; to cherish
quietude over the constant din of advertisements, rushing to buy up
every available piece of psychological and emotional real estate, and
thereby making every human experience a potential commercial
transaction. History shows humanity’s proudest periods of
enlightenment to be sadly infrequent; the depths we have fallen to
making up the majority of the telling of the human tale and
invariably occurring when people are exploited as disposable rabble
by a powerful few, plunging the entire species back into its basest
tribal beginnings.

All that said, one of the things that has lifted me from my
liberal-wussie-actor bullshit melancholy was the good humor and
positivity I experienced in the blog exchange on FF. It was, despite
the sensational approach you take on a range of topics (I assume to
whip your readership into a Pat Buchannanesque rake and hoe toting
angry mob) you betrayed the hyperbole usually associated with such
right-wing drivel (hah!) by being, well, really cool. And that alone
indicates a productive, beneficial and prosperous future worthy of
the promise of America, rather than the one foisted upon us by greed
obsessed capitalisto-fascists in Conservative clothing. We know who
they are. They just think we don’t give a shit. But we do, right?

And so to all seven or eight of you who read this, happy new
year. And let’s get ’em in ’08!


Steven Weber writes on the strike in Hollywood.

We wrote our Hollywood corespondent Steven Weber yesterday and asked for an insider’s view of the Writers Guild of America strike.  Since we have faces for radio and voices for print, it’s nice to have someone on the inside who can give us their perspective.

So here is the latest dispatch from Steven Weber.  Let him know what you think.

And thanks to him for the quick response.

Steven Weber

Things out here are temperate and livable, weather-wise.
Movie stars mingle with the rabble, cocaine rails are being snorted
off the escalator bannisters and it’s like one big goddam party. You
may complain about the cold in D.C. but a little variance here would
be welcome. And with the smog, maybe it would snow brown-tinged
slush, which would be a boon for those who want to fill in their bald
spots but can’t gin up the cash for a good toupé.

I had actually written a screed on the strike for the
Huffington Post that was, of course, roundly ridiculed for its over-
wrought imagery and its attempt to relate the writer’s situation with
that of the beleaguered middle class of this country which is,
namely, that health and retirement benefits and reasonable
remuneration for services rendered are either being tightened,
outsourced or phased out while the companies they worked for were
still profitable and the bosses at the top were walking away with
hefty retirement bonuses. Typical lefty shit, right? And never one to
put down making money, I am am admitted capitalist. Yet I am against
profiting while endangering people’s futures and livelihoods. And I
know you or someone gifted at properly applying a sliderule could
cite why my emotion laden argument is inaccurate or misplaced or
whatever, but it just feels wrong that the writers—the vast
majority of whom do not make massive five to six figure salaries—
are not getting a piece of an ever expanding pie, and one that is
reliant on their material. The crux of the biscuit (Frank Zappa
reference) is that they are not looking to overwhelm any studio or
parent company with unreasonable demands but rather they are trying
to carve out what amounts to a mere existence (a little more than
they were granted at the onset of the DVD revolution when the last
strike was staged) in the vast potential of the internet and the
related platforms that will most likely become the next phase in
media’s evolution. And simply to have their services recognized and
to be able to make a living.

Now: does TV suck? You betcha! But that is due mainly (in my
opinion) to the proliferation of non-creative people in creative
positions, overseeing the creation of scripted product with all the
artistically nurturing sensitivity of an arthritic proctologist
shoving a ball peen hammer up one’s ass to smash some rogue polyps.
But for every several dozen or so crappy, brainless shows there is a
“Sopranos”, a “Seinfeld”, a “24” which makes up for it all. And
since the acquisition of studios by the behemoth parent companies
(whose bottom line is The Bottom Line), that relentlessly profit-
chasing corporate paradigm is applied to the creation of TV shows,
but with a decidedly killing effect. You can’t stand over some guy
with a beard, a smock and a palette screaming, “Paint a masterpiece,
douchebag!” But the mind that is obsessed with solely making a profit
is the polar opposite to the mind that wants to express the human
experience through art. However, both can coexist and should, mindful
and respectful of the process that makes the other work. And it has
worked. Just not so much anymore.

The technical minutiae of the writer’s dilemma escape me,
though. But there clearly needs to be a way for anyone performing a
service in their field to be reasonably compensated and for there to
be some reliable method for accounting. You know, like voting
machines. (That last comment was a joke. And you can have that one
for free. )


Weber’s Word – Maybe it’s redundant but Ann Coulter is not a nice person

He’s back!  And this time he’s taking on Ann Coulter.  Here’s an email from Mr. Weber congratulating us on pulling this month’s special guest, Christopher Hitchens.

Here is my latest, also posted on Huffington. Cool that Hitchens isSteven Weber
making the pilgrimage to rub elbows. I like that guy, Wanna kill him
sometimes but he is one silver tongued bastard. He wrote
fantastically and scathingly about Mother Teresa (who I have a
findness for, having printed bumper stickers that read: “I Had a
Piece a’ Mother Teresa”). Anyway, hope all is well.


And here’s his post – Have at it.

Why she is an acceptable face of conservatism and its drooling servant Republican party should be a mystery—but really isn’t, given that ideology’s desire to win at all costs, employing any and all methods no matter how base or backhanded, even at the expense of the hopes of the very people they pretend to represent.

Why have as a mouthpiece a person who is nothing more than hate covered with skin? If opinions are like farts—comforting to the one emitting them but certain to drive others screaming from the room (and trust me, my house is like the friggin’ Hindenberg, but that story is told in a slightly different context)—then Ann “Madame Methane” Coulter is one gassy gal.

Seriously, can’t the Republicans simply leave politics to the hopelessly hopeful and the morally weak and apply their talents in a field where such sordid ass-clowning would be welcome as well as effective? Like little league baseball or street gangs? That she occasionally hints that her caustic opining is actually a satirical antic act, or is in reality embodying an ironical posture amidst the deadly serious, corn-pone spouting, wide-stance conservatives merely lends this damaged dame plausible deniability and license to unload. Harmless, hollow-tipped, mock-invective. Ha and may I say ho.

Why dip my Birkenstock’s in this acrid puddle yet again? Why continue to give this heinous hollow-cheeked harpy the attention she so relishes and that actually contributes to the uptick of sales of her dainty and delightfully informative pamphlets? Is it because I like brittle, rancorous blonde she-devils with legs like kayak paddles and eyes like deviled eggs? Is it because I also abhor Jews (though they may sign my paychecks) and have an unbridled disdain for “faggots” (though I may dine at many of their chic eateries and perform in their musicals)?

I do so because all that you’d ever want to know about the modern American conservative movement can be found in one level teaspoon of Ann Coulter. And she speaks the movement’s most dearly held beliefs in the color commentary that best expresses them. That must be the case, else their elder statesmen would disavow her words as swiftly as they disavow human contributions to global warming and a woman’s right to choose.

She may be dismissed by those who think themselves above the gossip-rag ingesting rabble, by those snobs who prefer their discourse peppered with fewer entries from the White Aryan Resistance Book of Etiquette than she allows. But they are deluding themselves into thinking it’s all a polite game. That after sessions on the hill, all the congressmen and women punch their time cards and hang out at the local watering hole telling off color jokes, thumb wrestling and giving each other hot-foots. She is the one who laces up the boot that stamps on a human face forever. She assumes (as much as she possibly can) the form of incendiary temptress, baring her gams and her teeth, and passing herself off as a come-hither conservative pin-up for all those dorm room right wingers rubbing one out for Ronnie. And she embeds her bad seed in the same lost, vulnerable souls seeking old testament justice for broadly described evils, similar to those in the early part of the 20th century who also found meaning in causes which defined Right and Wrong in Black and White. She and the beliefs she endeavors to spread are not complex or subtle, making use of the finer aspects of human understanding. They are instead all blunt force and assault, stimulating the troglodyte that hunches within us all to roar at the moon and cave in someone’s skull.

And this is why she is relevant. She is the raging tip of a deeply rooted verruca. And she hurts like Hell. Because she is.


Weber’s Word – Round Two: Come And Get it!

Steven Weber is back for more with his latest post.  Though we question the word choice of “organization.”  If there is one thing we are not, it is organized. 

Here it is:

He's back!In what was my first (and up till now greatest) column for this illustrious organization, I laid out what I consider to be a left-to-moderate point of view hoping to add exotic spice to the already aromatic First Friday bouillabaisse (or fish stew for you less than catholic conservatives) and all that came out of it was a fairly predictable skirmish concerning the situation in Iraq between two participants who, frankly, are doing their damndest to hide their forbidden love for one another.

But what say you to the other aspects of my screed which I proffered, namely an alarming tendency for programs formerly managed by the federal government now being fobbed off onto the more lucrative and less legally culpable (and some might say capable) private sector, all under the banner of “smaller, less intrusive government”? And I’m not just talking the obvious blight that is Blackwater. The Right’s mantra of small government is just another bromide shouted out of a scowling, flag-on-the-lapel wearing, fist shaking tight-ass suffering from too little love and too much golf.

My arms are crossed, my toe is tapping. I hear the gurgling of riled blood pressures, the gnashing of coffee and tobacco stained teeth, the cracking of pink knuckles…

But before I sprint away, my feet spurting puffs of cartoon velocity, I just wanna know what is so bad about trying to preserve a working, beneficent government? Why bust apart something that seemed to not only be functioning well but doing what a government should, in theory, be doing? No one wants a massive welfare state without rules or boundaries. No one wants people to bilk programs erected to help those who need it. And obviously, bureaucracy and all of its attendant backlogging bullcrap is and always will be a problem; the mechanism for dispensing the fruits of capitalist democracy is positively labyrinthine. Lots of flayrods going out of skew on treadles (any conservative Python fans out there? Or is it all just Jeff Foxworthy and Mad Libs?).

The evolution from Jeffersonian agrarian economy to Hamiltonian business model may have been a naturally occurring one but one which ultimately, in its current viral form, robs America of its spiritual and emotional foundation, creating a nation of retailers who look at people only as consumer-drones, engaged in a whirling, materialistic danse macabre. And while I agree that the government shouldn’t be controlling every aspect of our daily routine, I contend that it needs to be an active participant in the lives of its citizens, being an institution grounded in respect for the liberty and welfare of the individual. What can be said about the current POTUS and his pals who cry “government’s best that governs least” and who then makes every effort to underfund and undermine it, taking every step to concentrate maximum power to the presidency and kneecapping congress’ authority to check that very dangerous act? There is so much hypocrisy and subterfuge in the current administration’s approach to governance that a conspiracy-theory inclined person might think Bush and co. are actually “proving” their so-called theories on the inadequacy of government by shrewdly demonstrating same. Just the opaque nature of the current administration’s behavior alone should make anyone, Conservative or Liberal, wary. They seem to be CINO’s (Conservative’s In Name Only), demonstrating not stock Conservative principles but rather the tell-tale characteristics of capitalisto-fascists, cloaking themselves in the flag, wearing big crosses and creating boogeymen of immigrants, the poor, the elderly, and the government, all the while extolling their real policy of profit, profit, profit.

Again, I step back, put a pinch of Red Man twixt cheek and gum. And I wait…


Guest blogger Steven Weber invites you to debate

There is no doubt we’re on the right when it comes to politics, and this blog serves as our sounding board for our thoughts and ideals. We try to do it with humor and not the anger that seems to dominate the blogosphere, but we don’t always succeed. One topic we’ve railed on from time to time is actors entering the political arena, and we haven’t always It's really him.been very kind to them (see Sean Penn). So when we wrote about the comments on an entry at Huffington Post last week by actor Steven Weber we took a couple of pot-shots at him while ranting about the comments he received over there. Much to our surprise, he found us and started commenting. This led to an idea; why not start talking?

We invited Weber to post for us thinking he would say no, but, much to his credit, he said yes. Below is the first of what we hope will be many posts from him. We do not agree with his opinions on politics, the war, regulation, media ownership or damn near anything, but if you can’t have a debate with your opponent (and that’s what the Left in this country is, our opponent, not our enemy), then we’ll never win. So we choose to take them on, indirectly always and directly when possible. But be we and Weber want your input as well. The comment section is open for you to rebut or agree with him and he will reply there as he sees fit and time allows.

Two simple rules: 1 No matter which side you’re on, don’t be a douchebag. Write whatever you want but this forum is for debate, not being an asshole. 2 We allow you to enter any name you want when you post comments, so you can use any name you want except Steven Weber. We have his email address, you don’t. If you comment under his name and didn’t enter his email address, your comment will be edited to show that you are a fraud and we will enter your email address on every spam list the planet has to offer. This actually falls under rule number one, but we wanted to be clear.

Other than that, have at it! No questions are out of bounds because no one is forced to answer anything they don’t want to. We want a clean fight, but a bloody one. As long as when it’s all over we can sit back and have a drink together at the end of the day, it’s all good.

Politics, shmolitics – by Steven Weber

What the hell is it good for nowadays, anyway?

I mean, since Ted Q. Voter has about as much potency as a crawfish
fart jettisoned in a hurricane and since policy is determined by the
lobbyists doing the special interest slap-and-tickle, the energy
spent by Republicans and Democrats denigrating each other’s symbiotic
doctrines is, quite simply, retarded and might be better spent
providing, say, better lighting in airport men’s rooms. Politics has
become as culturally relevant as obese transvestite prostitutes in
tube-tops arguing over turf on The Jerry Springer Show. But the
political process itself has also taken on the essence of a low-brow
brawl, like Goya’s painting in which two behemoths stuck knee deep in
a quagmire, seemingly unable or unwilling to escape, are doomed to
beat each other with cudgels as the rest of the world watches,
cringing from a safe distance.

While much of the progressive legislation of the last 70 years has
been challenged, derided and in many cases gutted by those who prefer
an “ownership society” to country in which its government judiciously
wields a safety net, there has not been a reasonable reassessment of
America’s needs in the 21st century. Instead, it seems that far from
benefitting individual Americans, it is the corporations that have
reaped the lion’s share of benefits, leaving the poor, the elderly
and the disenfranchised in increasingly precarious positions. The
presumption of an “ownership society” is that people do not need
intervention, that if anything, a person in trouble lacks moral
fortitude, that if they stopped being lazy rabble and detached the
business end of their faces from the government teat, they could
become productive, profitable members of this great country of ours.
But widespread though that attitude is, it is flawed, short-sighted
and dangerously arrogant. It has the same divisive logic that drives
someone to want to eradicate (por ejemplo) all affirmative action
programs because racism no longer exists. The solution to our
country’s (and our world’s) problems lay not in tribal chest thumping
or a reversion to slicker versions of feudalism but in abrogating the
extremist’s hold on power, to make it harder for those with
immoderate doctrines to monopolize the media, the major political
parties and most importantly, people’s attentions. The game’s become
more candy than candor. And candy leads to millions of pyorrhea-
ravaged mouths in search of a decent and affordable dental plan.

All I’m saying is, can’t we all just get along? And if not, can’t the
sex be better?

Update: We’ve been getting emails asking why he hasn’t responded yet from a lot of people.  Just wait, the man works for a living and he doesn’t have a job that has him sitting in front of a computer for 8 hours a day (and if he were sitting in front of one it would probably be a prop).  He will when he can.  Chill out, it’s all good.

January 2019
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