GLORY DAYS: Aging Icons Shouldn’t Mess with Legit Italian-American New York Talents

I had a friend was a big baseball player
back in high school
He could throw that speedball by you
Make you look like a fool boy
Saw him the other night at this roadside bar
I was walking in, he was walking out
We went back inside sat down had a few drinks
but all he kept talking about was

Glory days well they’ll pass you by
Glory days in the wink of a young girl’s eye
Glory days, glory days……

-Bruce Springsteen, from Born in the USA (1985)

This past week Bette Midler dismissed or criticized Lady Gaga, essentially implying that she is no Grace Jones, holding none of her iconic appeal. Yet, maybe it should have occurred to the aging Ms. Bette that Lady Gaga, love or hate her has done nothing but provide respect and praise to the many artists who came before her.  And yet this fine, young, talented and visionary creative, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, is truly of New York City coming from a fine upstanding Italian-American New York family.  She is a talent who embraces her fans in a rather personal, down to earth and realistic manner that few stars of yesteryear or today do.  Recently, during while she was rehearsing for an appearance on Saturday Night Live,  her fans waited online outside the NBC Studios at Rockefeller Center. What did Lady Gaga do? The woman sent her fans Pizza and drinks.  So, hats off to Lady Gaga for not standing at the Top of the Rock looking down at her legion of loyal followers.

Now to Bette Midler I would say look I have great respect for your artistic accomplishments both on the stage and the silver screen. You literally had me at hello. From Down & Out in Beverly Hills to the First Wives Club,  I have laughed to the point of tears watching some of your performances.  Furthermore,  your continuing contributions to the betterment of New York City as a local philanthropist and founder of The New York Restoration Project,  a non-profit organization dedicated to reclaiming and restoring New York City parks, community gardens and open space, in partnership with the City of New York, is something which I applaud loudly.  You have helped transform my hometown and are one of the Points of Light making volunteerism cool.

I  like Alexander Graham Bell too and am quite pleased that he invented the dial telephone, but I now prefer the cell phone, actually my Blackberry. But sadly, much like you, he and the dial telephone are from a time thats passed. I know that back in the day you had to walk 15 miles in the snow, rain and sleet just to get to your next Vaudeville show (tongue firmly planted in cheek) and the current state of pop culture is filled with so much repetitive drek leaving me also to detest so much about the state of culture our cultural decline.  Two divorced housewives, Countess LuAnn de Lesseps and Kim Zolciak, who sound like men in drag at La Cage Aux Folles, ok maybe not quiet that good, actually got recording contracts.  So yes, to a degree I am feeling you.  Most of the time I criticize what passes for art today.   I find myself more and more sounding like my father as my outward apperance grows to resembles his, with gray hair and all.  When you go at this girl that way, however, frankly it simply comes off as more toolage from remnants of the Warhol era waxing poetic about the relative end of their 15 minutes. And my hope is that you are better than that.

Yet, I am wise enough to recognize that Lady Gaga is not just a passing phenomenon. She is a legimate, genuine, standout star that I suspect would have stood out in any generation. The problem with today’s aging icons or stars is that they stay around too long waxing poetic about their glory days and their time in the sun while they linger beyond reason to extend their 15 Minutes, or hire a horde of publicists to advise them how and when to remain relevant.

I may not be a  Rubenstein, Sunshine, Kelly CutroneCouri Hay or Alison Brod, but I can tell you this very simply: “A star of yesteryear of declining relevance or significance mentions or criticizes Lady Gaga to get press coverage for herself” MING!

The Israel Question in a Nutshell

Will the Arab Spring bring Peace in the Middle East or is this another Springtime for Hitler Production?

The Geography of the Arab World vs. the State of Israel is akin to a football field with the Israel being a veritable matchbook on the 50 Yard Line.  The international community looks on from the cheap seats asking, what part of that matchbook should Israel give up in the name of peace.

You are in your windowless bathroom in a high rise. Your mugger with an assault rifle, grenade and Combat Special Ops 9 mm handgun asks would it make you more comfortable if he waited for you in the living room, kitchen or bedroom. You say kitchen as it is the furthest point away from you. While rummaging through the kitchen, drinking your Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Juice straight from the container and putting it back, he wipes his wet beak, opens one of your drawers where he finds your Wusthof Steak Knives and  a devious grin fills his face.

Do you see any parallels? I do and that is the guise under which I must continue to painstakingly review the optimism or hope of Obama during this “Arab Spring” vs. the rational fear of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s (”Bibi”)  while the world looks on in what seems like yet another “Springtime for Hitler” production, a gay romp of musical lunancy with Hamas and friends on the Broadway of insanity.  As stated by Prime Minister Netanyahu in his speech earlier this week before Congress:

“I stood before my people and said that I will accept a Palestinian state; it’s time for President Abbas to stand up before his people and say, ‘I will accept a Jewish state,’ ”

We have seen the show before. It always ends the same. It is time to look down the barrel of the gun pointed at Western Civilization with this Arab Spring and remind the happy or angry mob, depending on your perspective, that there are in fact limits,  that the State of Israel, a democracy in the heart of the Middle East simply isn’t going anywhere and neither are the Jewish people. Deal with it as a starting point, a middle point and an ending point.


-Go Israel
-CIA Factbook
-Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
-Fuel For Truth: see also interview with one of the 5 founders and former Executive Director, Joseph Richards
-Memri: The Middle East Research Institute
-Memri TV
-The Truth About Israel


-Debbie Schlussel: Coldplay Endorses Palestinian Jihad Against Israel
-Debbie Schlussel: “Killing Us Softly”: Gwyneth Paltrow Fundraises for Terror-Front Palestinian Charity Tied to HAMAS, PLO, Al-Qaeda”
-OneWorld, Freedom For Palestine

The GOP Raises A Cain

In the Bible Cain slew Abel
And East of Eden he was cast,
You’re born into this life paying,
for the sins of somebody else’s past,
Daddy worked his whole life, for nothing but the pain,
Now he walks these empty rooms, looking for something to blame,
You inherit the sins, you inherit the flames,
Adam raised a Cain.

Lost but not forgotten, from the dark heart of a dream,
Adam raised a Cain
-Bruce Springsteen, Adam Raised A Cain from Darkness on The Edge of Town (1978)

Herman Cain’s announcement that he intends to pursue the Republican nomination for President of the United States was curious. My first instinct was there was just something not entirely kosher about the timing of his announcement. I was a little uncomfortable with Herman Cain and mostly found myself in agreement with Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal Constitution who stated “Herman Cain Isn’t legitimate Presidential candidate“. But my gutt instincts once again told me there was something more to this. And I took liberties with my language in a blog on Cape Cod Today entitled “They Republicans find a Black Man”, stating:
“They are looking for black men down in Georgia, only they are doing so without a posse and without any rope. Thank the good lord for that. And maybe in the end that is an accomplishment in and of itself for the GOP.”
The backlash from some readers was forthright and immediate and remains still unrelenting; some labeled me the racist.  Is it “racist”  to suggest that a guy who has largely been a mid-level corporate manager in the food service/supply industry and who has never held even one elective office in his career should be put up for consideration for the highest office in the land?  OK so he was CEO of a Pizza chain. Nevertheless, do you know the only  thing that has stood in the way of Herman Cain and elective office? The man could not get elected to anything in Georgia. You want to know why he has never held elective office? Because he could not make it out of a Republican primary. Now who is being cynical? If Herman Cain is so eminently qualified now to be President of the United States of America, why did not Georgia Republicans ever elevate this man to office for something? Anything. If so, voters might have some evidence as to how he would govern or at least lead. Is it too much to ask that we have some sense how someone might govern for even five minutes before making them President? No, but now hey let’s make him President. Makes sense right?

Republican pollster Frank Luntz thinks that he saw something at that first Republican debate he never saw before. I argued that what he saw was simply a black man in a suit standing on stage with a bunch of white men running for President.

Is Experience in Government Relevant to American Leadership?  Does America require  more than a mid-level manager?  

Regardless of the cynicism behind the elevation of Herman Cain, an executive whose resume was stoked along the way and a legend built beyond his accomplishments serving his corporate masters, here in 2011 that the GOP has no white man who presents a sufficiently formidable challenge to President Obama, that some in the party are willing to place their bets on a black man who has never held elective office, perhaps only because he is a  Black Republican in Georgia, is nevertheless progress. Whether that qualifies him to hold the highest political office in the land is subject to serious question and requires one to at least consider and ultimately accept the possibility that experience in government and in governance is otherwise irrelevant.  That is in essence the broader issue. Are we to redefine the import of public leadership and render irrelevant government service and an ability to understand and work within government institutions to achieve The Common Good when we consider our prospective leaders? This is the case in essence being made by the candidacy of Herman Cain and similarly with regards to Sarah Palin.

American Leadership Requires Men & Women with Broad Vision
How else can you elevate to President a man who has never been elected to any office before or one that bails out of position as Governor for a more lucrative TV job two years into her administration at the height of scandal? This is not an issue of character assassination or double standards as some have claimed claim. Instead it goes to the core issues of how a Democractic society functions or at least should in a volatile world. How do you know if the popular tag line “government is the problem” not the solution if you have never actually held a job or worked within the government?
The foregoing being said, Herman Cain is an educated man with,has legitimate business experience at the mid-level management level with major American corporations and might make a fine Senator, Congressman, Mayor or Governor. The issue is the cynicism to put forth a man who has never held one elective office for President of the United States of America, when there is no evidence of his ability to govern.
I do not think that we ought to be dismiss out of pocket the words of our country’s elders, folks who have spent years working in the trenches in the American business community and that includes folks like Herman Cain,  who have a reservoir of genuine experience, and offer contrary perspective, whether it be liberal or conservative. Maybe Mr. Cain will add some wisdom or reason to the Republican Presidential debates or at least among elites in both parties who are often out of touch with the plight of America’s common man. And maybe should a Republican become the next President, he will consider him for a Cabinet post so he can get that experience. 

JOSEPH BROOKS: The Monster of the Upper East Side Does The Right Thing

The Monster of the Upper East Side who Un-Lit Many Lives Turns Out the Lights on Himself

According to Reuters – “Joseph Brooks, the Oscar-winning composer of the hit “You Light Up My Life” and who was awaiting trial on rape charges, was found dead in his New York apartment on Sunday having apparently killed himself, police said.”

The Academy Award winning composer, a suspected serial pervert, rapist and all around predator did the taxpayers of New York a great service.  Joseph Brooks, the monster of the Upper East Side, was an abomination to man kind –for writing the songs “You Light Up My Life” and “If I ever See You Again” and producing the films of the same name; both of which if examined closely resemble stalkers anthems, especially the latter which truly belongs in the stalkers hall of fame.  In My Life –a Broadway musical, however, Flopped on Broadway.  Brooks literally unlit the lives, hopes and dreams of so many aspiring young artists to feed his demented desires so you will forgive me if I am less than saddened by whatever pain he may have been in prior to killing himself and only wish that his demise had come sooner.

By turning off the lights on his less than noble existence and closing the curtain on this horror show before being convicted and sentenced to years behind bars, which the taxpayers of this state would in effect have to fund, and having his estate or what remains of it left completely bankrupt,  Brooks did the one decent thing he could do.  Brooks committed suicide and spared society the cost of maintenace for keeping yet another monster alive spending what likely would have been the remainder of his days behind bars. In addition, on a weekend where the world did not come to an end, the rapture not yet begun, it seems that a societal colonic of sorts has begun with some of its toxins being flushed into the great beyond.

Notably, Brooks is survived by his son, the accused “Soho Strangler”, Nicholas Brooks who is facing conviction for the murder of his former girlfriend, the promising young designer Sylvie Cachay at Soho House. This dynamic duo from the Upper East Side has literally reaked more havoc than any father/son team in recent memory.  Hey Nick, any interest in following in your father’s footsteps? If not, the positive is at least you will have some cigarette money in the joint now. And that may come in handy to keep folks from literally climbing all over your back, catch my drift?   If I [Never] see  you or your father again, it won’t be too soon.

PRESIDENTIAL PIZZA POLITICS: “It Takes A Paisan, Not Just a Guy Who Throws the Pies On”

Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO May Set off Pizza War

This week  Herman Cain, an American businessman, political activist, columnist, and  host from  Georgia, announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for President.  The Republican’s ”great black hope” to challenge President Obama is  best known as the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza chain.  According to wikipedia which has a rather extensive entry on Herman Cain, Cain  burnished his chops as a businessman after graduating from Morehouse College and obtaining a Masters in Computer Science from Perdue University and a stint working for the U.S. Navy, by going to work for the Coca Cola Company as a business analyst before landing at  Pillsbury Foods where he rose to Vice President, managed 400 plus Philadelphia area Burger Kings, restoring profitability. It was in his subsequent role as CEO role of the Godfather’s Pizza chain which he also restored to profitability and then with a group of investors buying it outright from Pillsbury that helped elevate his standing as a business leader. It was, however,  his confrontation of President Clinton on the Health Care debate that launched him into the national spotlight, link here:

Herman Cain’s announcement has set off a chain reaction across the Eastern seaboard of the United States from New York City up through New England, generally considered the corridor for the best tasting Pizza in America. The CEO of Lombardi’s Pizza in Soho is rumored to be close to announcing his own candidacy for President to challenge the Godfather’s Pizza executive.   Given his family pedigree and vast experience  an in actually making and over seeing a superior Pizza generally ranked among the best if not the best in New York City; one that uses real genuine Italian ingredients and looks, tastes and smells like genuinely good Pizza, the Lombardi’s owner poses a serious threat to Cain should he decide to run. Many believe his distate and distrust of Cain lies squarely on the fact that a guy who ran a Pizza chain that no legitimate Italian American would actually order a slice from, unless he was outside of New York, may actually end up setting American Pizza policy and thereby reducing quality, taste and character of the overall Pizza for the sake of efficiency and to otherwise achieve his greater political ambition.

The Lombardi’s of Soho owner was over heard stating: “Look, its sort of like making President a guy who makes $3.00 sauce in a jar? We are not talking RAO’s, capische?  I too could take Heinz  Ketchup, add a few lumps, a bit of water and call it sauce but I don’t.  My grandma is from the old country, it would be embarrassing.  He continued, “Are we ready for a President who thinks popping a frozen Ellio’s Pizza in his toaster oven is like taking a trip to the old country?  Or will he be ordering in to the White House, Godather’s or Domino’s from an 800 number? Are we ready for that?  The freaking guys uniforms are Red, White & Blue. Take a look at the Italian flag and tell me what colors you see. MING!”

No disrespect,  Domino’s and Godfather’s make a nice Pizza if your name is Steve and your from Nebraska.  Overheard at Patsy’s Pizzeria on 116th Street, the place that the Chairman of the Board got his Pizza slice on, was a conversation at the bar by a group of Italian-Americans from the neigborhood going something like this:  We get it, bread, tomatoes and cheese tastes pretty good together. Bada Bing!!  Truth be told if I was camping in Appalachia and did not have my grandmother’s gravy recipe handy or some fresh tomatoes, I might use my cell and call a Domino’s.” His buddy chimed in: 

 ”America is far  too great a country to have in the White House a man who ran a Pizza chain whose sauce tastes similar perhaps to a high quality ketchup.  It takes a paisan more than just a man who throws the pies on.”

The general feeling among the Pizza cognoscenti is that if America is gonna have as its President a man who ran a Pizza place, it should be at least be someone from a place like Patsy’s Pizzeria on 116th street, the place where the Chairman of the Board got his Pizza on, Lombardi’s of Soho or maybe even Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn. And if not from one of those from one of the two families in New Haven, Connecticut, Federal Hill in Providence, Rhode Island or the North End of Boston. Or at least from a local joint in Bensonhurst or Bay Ridge. I mean not even Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever was never seen strutting in or out of   a Domino’s.  Do you really think Frank Sinatra would endorse a $3.00 sauce, or a guy who makes frozen pizza’s for the supermarket? Fugghedaboutit!! Turst me,  I do not think he would be voting for Herman Cain.

America’s Pizza Values Under Attack?
When we pushed the owners from the Five Pizza Families on why their problem with the Herman Cain candidacy, all we got was “Geez you are freaking killing me here.  Does this Mama Luc even know from fresh mozzarella?”  In the debates will the guy from PBS, referring presumably to the moderator, even know to ask that question? You feeling me here? They are building this guy up like he is the freaking Ray Kroc of Pizza, which he is not.  A representative from one of the Five Pizza Families lamented “maybe  he should come to New York, New Haven or Providence taste what actual tomato sauce tastes like and then go back and shut down Godfather’s Pizza and withdraw from his Presidential campaign until he learns how to make a decent sauce. That’s all I am saying.”  He might even take a trip down to New York’s Lower East Side into Ally’s place The Pizza Shack where  the Pizza is made with San Marzano tomato gravy, mamma mia!

When we asked finally about the merits of Cain’s experience bringing back Godfather’s Pizza from bankruptcy, we got a few chuckles and eye rolls and then the following statement from a public relations representative from the Italian-American Pizza League and the International Brotherhood of Pizza makers:   ”On one level it is a good thing, he has allowed folks to keep their jobs making and selling what he believes to be Pizza, but  it still looks a tad bankrupt if you ask me:

“This Pizza should sleep with the fishes, unless your name is Steve and you are from Nebraska”, exclaimed yet another. I know some of these joints may even have some Italian-American heritage but take a look at what Godfather’s is making today vs. the genuine article found at places like Lombardi’s, Patsy’s of 116th Street, Pepe’s Pizza of New Haven etc.”  In a statement from a representative of of one of the New York families: “America’s Pizza values are under attack.” He continues: “We must resist the temptation offered by the puveyors of greater efficiency in the making of Pizza and seek moderation or before you know it we may vote for President the guy who thinks he is making Pizza when he schmeers some sauce and throws a slice of cheese on top of an english muffin after a drunken night out on the town.”  He suggested that we look at the following list of Pizzeria’s for the type of Pizza making leadership America needs “now more than ever”:

Pizza in NYC & the Northeast


Lombardi’s Pizza:
Patsy’s Pizzeria 116th Street:
Grimaldi’s Pizza:
Di Farra Pizza:
Pulino’s Pizza:
Pizza Shack:
Alba Pizza:
Artichoke Pizza:
Ray Bari Pizza:

New Haven

Pepe’s Pizza:
Sallys Apizza:
New Haven Pizza:

Regina Pizzeria:

Providence, Rhode Island

Bob & Timmy:
Caserta Pizzeria:

More on Herman Cain

Herman Cain:
Herman Cain (wikipedia):
Herman Cain Isn’t Legitimate Presidential Candidate:
The Republicans Find A Black Man (CCT):
The Republicans Find A Black Man (Plymouth Daily News):

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