Rocker Tommy Tutone, a 20th century singer who famously sang a pop song about a girl named Jenny Jenny that played incessantly over the airwaves in America and abroad after it was released in 1981, has finally apologized to the woman he infamously doxxed in the early eighties by revealing her phone number to the world back in the olden days before the Internet existed.
Tutone (shown above left with his psychotherapist) admitted that he “may have been a bit of a stalker back in the day” and further admits that he “probably acted inappropriately” with a girl with whom he “had a schoolboy crush on.”
After releasing the hit single inspired by a phone number scrawled on the wall of a men’s room in a cheap bar, the pop star released a video on Music Television, a fledgling new television network which had also launched the career of a new wave band called The Buggles.
“I’ve paid my debt to society,” Tutone says, speaking to me via Skype from the penitentiary where he’s been serving time since he was caught by police, crouching by the window outside of Jenny Jenny’s house and spying on her while she was entertaining another gentleman.
“I can’t wait to get out of prison and show Jenny Jenny I’m a changed man.”
Tutone is up for parole this week and he’s confident he’ll be released by Valentine’s Day of this year. Tommy told me he “planned to rush straight over to her new house with flowers and chocolate.”
I reminded him that he’d gotten rich ruining the reputation of an innocent woman by telling strangers “for a good time call 867-5309” and it wouldn’t be prudent to just show up at her front door.
“Oh, I’ve learned my lesson,” he assured me “and I know it’s maybe not cool to just drop by unannounced, but, hey man, I’ve tried and tried calling her at least a hundred times and it’s weird—I think she might have disconnected her number.”
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Felicia Sonmez, a newspaper reporter with The Washington Post, tweets a reference to a story about Kobe Bryant that broke years ago. She does so on the day he dies in a helicopter crash with several others, including his own thirteen year old daughter. She wrote:
The backlash is swift from the public on social media, and it is overwhelmingly negative from fans of the basketball player. Verbal abuse and threats—the usual shit show of public outrage—but what follows is much worse:
“National political reporter Felicia Sonmez was placed on administrative leave while The Post reviews whether tweets about the death of Kobe Bryant violated The Post newsroom’s social media policy. The tweets displayed poor judgment that undermined the work of her colleagues.”
~Washington Post Managing Editor, Tracy Grant.
Undermined the work of her colleagues? How so?
Somnez is referencing a real case, already written about, with a body of factual evidence and a long history of reportage. Her tweet doesn’t even qualify as a biased opinion—It’s a factual headline.
Sure, maybe it would be more appropriate if Felicia Somnez had the foresight to have shown some (shall we say) class and restraint, by waiting at least a day before tweeting that messsage, to allow Kobe Bryant’s family, friends, and fans, to express their grief at his death.
A respectful silence.
But, is it social justice that Felicia Sonmez is placed on administrative leave as punishment for her tweet? Smacks of censorship followed by exile to the shame box without pay, to me.
And I wonder…what’s next: The Gulag? The firing squad?
The court of public opinion is still having its day with Felicia Somnez. Lynch mobs have assembled, death threats delivered, and the rotten tomatoes and sharp stones of invective are being hurled at her from the mouths of self-righteous and outraged people.
As for The Washington Post…
“Democracy Dies in Darkness” is the motto scrawled under the newspaper’s title.
WaPo just switched off the lights in their own house.
~Richard La Rosa
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Aly Wane, a peace activist with Syracuse Peace Council in New York, wrote these compassionate and well-balanced words on Facebook on the subject of Kobe Bryant that I think are well-worth a read.
My friend Shey called me yesterday to say he’d heard a rumor that the fledgling coffeehouse and art gallery in town, Café Frida Gallery, was finally opening on Thursday, January 16, and he was going to check it out. I said I wouldn’t miss it and true to his word he rang me this morning saying, “I’m here and it’s happening!”
So I headed over to meet him at the same place where I used to spend many days at my writing studio and literary salon in the SofA Arts District of Santa Rosa at 300 South A Street, in the space formerly occupied by Atlas Coffee Company, which had permanently closed in October 2018.
Two months later, Mario Uribe, an artist with a well-established studio and gallery in the arts district, took over the space and began the long process of turning it into his vision of the sort of cafe he wanted to operate in the neighborhood.
It’s been a year in the making, during which time I’ve lamented the loss of an artistic and cozy place to hang out with my friends and converse on meaningful subjects. I’ve been searching for that special place to go and gather with others and make human connections in the real world and Café Frida Gallery is just the sort of place I would want to create if I had the means and the motivation. A place I could also kick it with a book or write when I wasn’t with others.
As soon as I arrived at the café I could tell I was in my home away from home. The joint looks swell and there’s a chill vibe in the air with jazz music playing over speakers, art on the walls, and a single bookshelf filled with art books—from various indigenous artists around the world to books containing works by old familiar names like Picasso, Hockney, and Parrish.
Mario is working in the café today, along with his son-in-law, Mamadou, and their friend Alex, shown below.
Mario’s daughter, Andrea, is also here today and she tells me about the large portrait on the wall that Mario painted of Frida Kahlo standing before a field of giant-sized orange and white calla lilies and flanked by local hero, Luther Burbank, and her legendary husband, Diego Rivera. The artwork overlooks a cozy lounge area that appears to be able to seat three or four people in comfort next to the bookshelf.
A long table in the center of the café seats 10-12 people; perfect for conferences or just a random assortment of writers tapping away on their laptops. There are outlets to plug in power cords for eight laptops but you can bring in your own power strip if you need more. In fact there are power outlets everywhere in the café.
Eventually, the food menu will expand to reflect the culinary identity of an actual cafe but for now there’s a small nosh menu with savory and sweet pastries from Dawn Zaft’s nefariously yummy Criminal Bakery. A plethora of teas. And, naturellement—an espresso machine playing all your caffeine favorites.
Currently, a sidewalk sign stands near the building facade by the walkway during business hours to guide passersby strolling on A Street, as the café is tucked behind the 300 building and to the right of the courtyard as you walk down the access path I’ve always called Atlas Alley. A more permanent form of signage for Café Frida Gallery is in the works.
Check it out for yourself. There’s seating for thirty-three with some extra standing room inside and even more seating in the courtyard. Currently, and through mid-February, the café is open from 8 am to 3 pm Thursday-Sunday.
Café Frida Gallery
300 South A Street #4
Santa Rosa, California 95401
Steve Cutts has released his latest short film today, a music video called The Turning Point, which was commissioned by Wantaways, a solo project by Melbourne musician, Ken Seto.
The video flips the script and explores a world wherein it is anthropomorphic animals that are responsible for climate change and the destruction of the human species, not humanity.
Check it out and stay tuned for more words on the subject…
It’s a cold autumn afternoon and the unrelenting rain that’s been falling for days has me wallowing in a pit of melancholy. I override my nesting instinct and trudge over to Lenny’s to warm up with a bowl of matzoh ball soup. I might catch a flick at the Bijou later but the need for sustenence in the form of comfort food is foremost in my mind.
Bob is sitting in a booth when I arrive, sipping coffee and reading a book of poetry by Ezra Pound. Scott and Gary are in the next booth with Curt. Bob looks up at me and nods. I say hello to Molly at the counter, she gives me soup, and I take the seat across from my mentor.
On the jukebox, Sam Cooke is singing about a place, somewhere up in New York way, where the people are so gay, twisting the night away. I laugh, my mood beginning to shift, as I recall aloud a moment the other night when I was hanging out with Joe and we heard the same song; which inspired a lively debate on the questionable fashion of wearing chicken slacks.
“Sam is giving us a delightful example of semantic noise” Bob says when the moment comes back almost a minute into the song. “Like when Hendrix sings, ‘scuse me, while I kiss this guy. We know we’ve misheard the lyric but something in our mind convinces us that we’re hearing the truth.”
“We want to believe Sam is singing about dancing in chicken slacks,” I say. “It’s funnier and more absurd.”
“Especially, after he’s just sung about a man in evening clothes,” Gary says.
“It makes sense,” Curt says.
“It’s sensible,” Scott adds.
And then we start merging instances of semantic noise with Freudian slips (when you say one thing but you mean your mother) and the alchemical mixture of soup and witty banter has chased away the dark wet clouds overhead.
We completely fall apart when Sly & The Family Stone plays next.
The image I used for this piece is a still from the 1941 movie Hellzapoppin’ with two swing dancers from Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers. The group was formed in the 1920s by Herbert “Whitey” White and disbanded in 1942 after its male members were drafted into World War II.
The incomparable Slim Gaillard and Slam Stewart are the featured musicians, with Slim on guitar and vocals and Slam on standup bass.
I have a habit of transcribing recorded conversations and passages from books as a way of gleaning a more in-depth understanding of a subject. There’s something about transcribing for me that aids in the digestion of certain concepts that enter my brain in that specific manner.
There’s a chapter in Kurt Vonnegut’s book, Cat’s Cradle, wherein the narrator asks a “vacantly pretty” woman of twenty named Francine Pesko—who is introduced to him by a Dr. Breed as the secretary for a Dr. Nilsak Horvath, a famous surface chemist “who’s doing such wonderful things” with films—the question: “What’s new in surface chemistry?”
“God,” she said. “don’t ask me. I just type what he tells me to type.” And then she apologized for having said, “God.”
“Oh, I think you know more than you let on,” said Dr. Breed.
“Not me.” Miss Pesko wasn’t used to chatting with someone as Dr. Breed and she was embarrassed. Her gait was affected, becoming chickenlike. Her smile was glassy, and she was ransacking her mind for something to say, finding nothing in it but used Kleenex and costume jewelry.
Since Cat’s Cradle was published in 1963, we can say that Miss Pesko’s attitude was not unusual for the era, but the excuse just doesn’t hold up for me when I think of my grandmother, who was a medical transcriptionist in 1963 and forty-one years old at the time.
My grandmother soaked in the knowledge she gained from transcribing and decades later, when I was an adult, she would rattle off medical facts in conversations that made her sound like she, herself, was a seasoned medical professional.
I’m very much like my grandmother in that way. In fact, I consider myself a knowledge junkie. And, I don’t understand how people can affect an attitude of willful ignorance about things with which they are in daily contact.
There’s no excuse to remain ignorant when most of us have access to a tremendous body of knowledge at our finger tips.
Here’s a writing prompt that’s sure to stimulate your imagination and get the creative juices flowing and it’s a level up in the game of adding “ing” to movie titles. Not only do you have to add “ing” to the title, you also have to write a description.
A dark comedy about the rivalry between Olympic ice skating champions Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding. In the aftermath of the attack on Kerrigan by Harding’s former boyfriend, Nancy Kerrigan hallucinates a graphic medley of revenge fantasy murder attempts on Tonya Harding. With a screenplay by Bret Easton Ellis, this film has been hailed by critics as a labor of loathe.
Meryl Streep’s tour-de-force performance as a 19th-century Englishwoman struggling for acceptance as an equal in the company of a group of men that belong to an elite club of all-male bird watchers. Directed by Jonathan Livingston Seagal.
A GHOSTING STORY
Where did they go? What did I do? Was it something I said? Everyone leaves me and relationships suck. Directed by Roman Polanski.
A shy young man with a lisp overcomes his insecurities and, in spite of his speech impediment, he becomes the Top Gun of glider pilots. Starring Tom Cruithe.
ENTERING THE DRAGON
Shrek’s pal, Donkey, finally releases the sex tape nobody wanted.
A tedious biopic of a baseball player with a pitching technique so perfect that no player can hit his balls. No hits, no runs, no game. Solid performance, though, by Kevin Costner as the aging ball player.
HOUSE OF WAXING
A sinister Brazilian esthetician sets up shop in Beverly Hills and makes a killing in the bikini waxing business. Produced by the Weinstein Company.
DIAL MING FOR MURDER
Flash Gordon’s nemesis gives up his throne on Mongo to become a contract killer for the mob.
Han blinked first.
A tough homicide detective exposes the deadly danger of Viagra addiction in this modern film noir. Narrated by Peter O’Toole.
The Great Dictator (1940) was Charlie Chaplin’s first talking picture and the film is a magnificent parody and a scathing condemnation of fascism and Adolf Hitler. The movie was still in production in 1939 when Britain and France declared war on Germany on Sunday, the 3rd of September, and Chaplin heard “the depressing news” over the radio while he was on his boat in Catalina over the weekend. The allies could no longer stay out of the fight after the invasion of Poland by German forces two days earlier and the news was delivered in depressing tones by British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain.
Two years earlier, in 1937, when war was in the air and Nazis were on the march, Charlie was struggling to write a story and a role for his twenty-nine year old wife, Paulette Goddard, who had shot to fame the previous year as leading lady to Chaplin’s character, the tramp, in Modern Times.
“How could I throw myself into feminine whimsy or think of romance or the problems of love,” Charlie would later write in his autobiography, “when madness was being stirred up by a hideous grotesque, Adolf Hitler?”
Enter, friend and fellow filmmaker, Alexander Korda—whose own wife, film actresss Maria Corda, was unable to make the artistic transition from the silent era to the emerging age of the talkies because of her strong Hungarian accent. Korda made the audacious suggestion to Chaplin that he make a film about Hitler based on mistaken identity, because the resemblance of Charlie’s famous fictional character, the tramp, was often compared to the infamous real world character of the dictator, as they both sported the same sort of mustache.
Coincidentally, Chaplin and Hitler shared other similarities, in addition to the style of the hair below their noses. Born four days apart in April of 1889, both men idolized their mothers, had ugly drunks as fathers, and had risen to success from the experience of living in great poverty. They were also both consummate actors.
This is the first page of a projected six-page piece on The Great Dictator.
Theatrical audiences are fickle beasts and each audience is prone to its own sort of reactions and mood swings with regard to play performances; no two audiences are alike. So, it’s best to think of audience reactions as gestalt expressions of the moment and to not take them personally. Especially when you speak a line in a Saturday night performance that gets a huge laugh from the audience—and the same line spoken to a Sunday afternoon audience the next day lands like a sour note sung to a cricket symphony.
Sir Alec Guiness, writing in My Name Escapes Me: The Diary of a Retiring Actor, gives the following example of the fickle beast’s inconstancy, and sometime mystifying immunity to laughter, as a cautionary tale for the fragile actor ego:
“In 1937 [Sir Tyrone] Guthrie directed Twelfth Night at the Old Vic with Larry Olivier as Toby Belch, his then wife, Jill Esmond, as Olivia, and the adorable Jessica Tandy as Viola. Marius Goring was Feste and I was Aguecheek; for some odd quirky reason of my own I played him as if he were Stan Laurel. It was a very undisciplined affair, not good at all, but I was thrilled to be acting my first important part. Also, I learned a thing or two while doing it. Like every Aguecheek that has ever been I got a laugh on the line, ‘I was adored once too.’ One midweek matinee, with a sparse audience, no laugh came although I undoubtedly sought it. Larry hissed in my ear, “Fool! You should know a matinee audience would never laugh at that.’”
Occasionally, a schizophrenic quality in the audience will present itself in the traitorous bark of laughter from a single audience member. In cases like this, while I reject the belief some actors have that sometimes they “are performing for the wrong audience,” I fully believe that when a single audience member laughs when no one else is laughing that person is definately sitting in the wrong audience.
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Richard La Rosa is an American writer that once played Sir Toby Belch in William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.