Rainy Monday

Somewhat behind on stuff – like YC, I’ve been on Facebook too much; but oh well! Scrabulous is fabulous, and Scramble drives me nuts, and I’m into Books’ iRead (at least to look at make lists of books).

Hey, FC – like your pictures of the Murakami exhibit! I must really get back to the Brooklyn Museum and actually check out the exhibit

Saturday: Asian Alumni of the undergrad alma mater – monthly dinner – this time at Utsav in midtown. Great Indian food!

Sunday: Melting Pot, for fondue in Hoboken.

I taped Jesse L. Martin’s last episode on “Law & Order” and watched most of it. Sniff, sniff. The reviews were pretty positive, too (see the TV Guide’s Matt Roush’s thoughts and the one in the Daily News by David Hinckley).

I’m just relieved that the L&O people gave Detective Green an end with dignity. (and, I was reminded of how handsome Jesse L. Martin is – nice camera angles!), not to mention a tip of the hat to the late Jerry Orbach’s Lenny.

I’m not yet sure of what to make of Anthony Anderson‘s new detective character. Personally, when I see him, I still remember his old 1990’s NBC role (the Saturday teen show, “Hang Time” – where he played a – what else? – teenager on the high school basketball team, on a comedy about a high school basketball team; a lesser “Saved by the Bell”). But, I hope L&O will be a consolation to Anderson for FOX’s cancelling his “K-Ville” (a cop show that I never got to watch, but had to applaud for trying to put a spotlight on New Orleans’ post-Katrina era).

This was an interesting read: in last week’s Week in Review, NY Times’ John M. Broder article, on a what-if (would a Pres. Al Gore and a VP Joe Lieberman have overcome their disagreement on how to handle the whole Mid-East issues?), and a look at what is (Gore and Lieberman in reality are very much not in agreement).

And, this week’s Week in Review in the NY Times:

An interesting analysis by Sam Tanenhaus regarding the generation to which McCain belongs – those that grew up between “The Greatest Generation” and the Baby Boomers. Tanenhaus writes:

[McCain] inhabits a more serious historic role, as the latest — and almost certainly the last — hope for Americans born in the 1930s to send one of their own to the White House. The 1900s, the 1910s, the 1920s and the 1940s have all been represented in the White House. But not the 1930s.

It is the missing decade. A demographic blip? Perhaps. But it might also be that Americans born in the 1930s lack the particular qualities we look for in our national leaders.

It is never wise to generalize too broadly about decades. They are, after all, arbitrary time divisions. And yet our national elections have often been generational tests. John F. Kennedy, the first president born in the 20th century, reminded the world in his Inaugural Address that “the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans — born in this century.” As opposed, he plainly meant, to Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was born in 1890. [….]

Not that generational memories are always identical. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were born only six weeks apart (in 1946) and came of age in the late 1960s. The upheavals of those years affected them in dissimilar ways, but their passages through a polarized America helped form them as leaders.

Young people born in the 1930s experienced no such tumult. They typically came of age in the 1950s, when consensus reigned, and with it conformism. Young Americans were collectively disengaged from politics and distrustful of ideology. They were the “silent generation,” content to be guided by their elders: Eisenhower, the avuncular white-haired president who had been the hero of World War II, and the Wise Men who formulated the strategies of the cold war.

In this climate the young were more likely to serve than to lead. The Korean War, which raged from 1950 to 1953, claimed nearly as many American casualties as Vietnam, and yet, despite the universal draft, there was scarcely a protest from those waiting to be called.

At home, civil rights was emerging as a great cause, but it did not attract many young activists until the 1960s. Members of the 1950s generation were “other-directed,” in one sociological formulation of the day. Thus the image of the Organization Man outfitted in his “gray flannel suit.”

Caricatures? No doubt. But they were rooted in truth. Consider two politicians born in the 1930s who did mount presidential campaigns, Senator Edward M. Kennedy and Michael Dukakis. Each exhibited traits, or weaknesses, we associate with the 1950s. [….]

What, then, about Mr. McCain? Born in 1936, he seems on the surface a classic 1950s product who followed the course strictly laid down for him by his parents, attending an exclusive boarding school and then the Naval Academy.

And yet Mr. McCain defies the stereotype of the “silent generation,” with his outsize ego and hair-trigger temper, his Senate lone-wolfing, his taunting of influential conservatives, his testy relations with Mr. Bush — on display this week when he denounced the administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina.

Mr. McCain belongs instead to another 1950s type better known through popular culture than politics, in the personas of Elvis Presley, Marlon Brando and James Dean, more smoldering than silent, carrying on a private war with authority. [….]

The paradox of Mr. McCain is that while he is among the oldest presidential candidates in history he remains in some ways the youthful rebel of the 1950s. The question is whether he has at last found a cause.

Time’s tv critic James Poniewozik on the lack of diversity in America’s tv anchors, which I think is ironic because of the increasing diversity (maybe? anecdotally?) in the on-screen local tv news teams. It’s not for lack of talent that the networks can’t find future anchors! As Poniewozik notes:

P.C. alert! Am I calling on the networks to act in the name of mere cosmetic appearance? Yes! News anchors are–more than any profession outside of car-show modeling–about cosmetic appearance. Yes, they need news chops, but they are hired, foremost, literally to be the face of a news division. Diversity is no more superficial a goal than gravitas, which apparently derives from the Latin for “white dude.”

There are journalistic reasons to make this call too. Race and gender are real campaign issues–and white men have every right to cover them–but the networks have been practically handicapped by their makeup. If they were not largely fronted by white men, they would have been less vulnerable to the uncomfortable images of the media’s boys ganging up on Hillary in the earlier debates or of largely white TV personalities piling on Obama about Jeremiah Wright in the much trashed ABC debate and before. Finally, there are solid business reasons. If TV news has any hope of finding another generation of viewers, hiring staff who reflect younger viewers’ reality is relevant.

Politicians like to say that elections are about the past vs. the future. That’s what this one is looking like, with the white guys of TV sitting opposite a black man or a woman through November and maybe beyond–1960 interrogating 2060. Any chance they could at least meet in 2008?

Anyway, Poniewozik further elaborates on his Time.com blog. His article reminded me of this NY Times’ article by Felicia R. Lee, who wrote on the increasing diversity of the pundits. Lee observes:

Both MSNBC and CNN this election season have given new prominence to a handful of contributing commentators from varied backgrounds and perspectives: blacks, Hispanics and women. Whether such moves signal real progress in diversifying the punditocracy or merely reflect the needs of a particular news cycle is the question, some media experts say. The most prominent positions on television remain overwhelmingly with those who are white and male, and some critics note how striking that non-inclusion can seem during this election year.

“Whatever progress has been made with contributors and commentators as of late, the cable networks have a long way to go before they look like the American people,” said Karl Frisch, the spokesman for Media Matters for America, a liberal television watchdog group. He added that white men were the hosts of all the major Sunday morning talk shows, the major prime-time cable news programs and — except for Katie Couric, a relative newcomer — the network evening news broadcasts.

But incremental gains should not be dismissed even if more change is needed, said Pamela Newkirk, an associate professor of journalism at New York University and author of “Within the Veil: Black Journalists, White Media” (New York University Press, 2000).

Black commentators under 40 at CNN, like the journalist and radio host Roland S. Martin; Amy Holmes, a conservative strategist and a former senior speechwriter for Bill Frist, Republican of Tennessee, the former Senate majority leader; and Jamal Simmons, a Democratic strategist, Obama supporter and veteran press spokesman with international experience, have been “breakout stars” this election, Professor Newkirk said.

“They bring such a fresh perspective that we are unaccustomed to hearing in the mainstream media,” she said. “Hopefully, the value of having different perspectives will be appreciated beyond this historic campaign.” [….]

Barbara Ciara, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, said that all the election coverage on television left “a lot to be desired” when it comes to her members. The black pundits often disappear as quickly as they arrive, she said, and too often talk only about race.

A more saladlike pundit mix has been front and center in the last couple of weeks, she said, because of news developments: Mr. Obama’s speech on race, prompted by the controversy over the remarks of his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.; and Geraldine Ferraro’s assertion that Mr. Obama’s race was a reason for his political success.

Diversity is not just good journalism but also good business, Ms. Ciara and others said.

“It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to understand that a large number of the audience is black, Hispanic and women,” said Al Primo, a television news executive who invented the “Eyewitness News” format decades ago and helped give many black and Hispanic journalists their first breaks. He added, “If you’re a Hispanic-American or an African-American, you don’t want to get a sense that they don’t understand your perspective.”

I’m just glad that the dialog is on-going; hope for real change – evolution? – springs eternal!

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