Minstrel’s Alley Launches Marketing Campaign for Gordon Basichis’ New Novel, The Cuban Quartet

Minstrel’s Alley, an independent publishing and media group, has launched a comprehensive marketing campaign for its latest novel, “The Cuban Quartet,” by Gordon Basichis. The new book is romantic mystery thriller based in the mythical skullduggery of the old American Gangsters and the CIA just before Castro marched victoriously into Havana. The book is published in trade paperback and eBook formats.

The Cuban Quartet,” is a literary thrill ride,” said Minstrel’s Alley Publisher and President, M.J. Hammond. “It is romantic adventure tale that takes advantage of exotic locations around the world.    At heart, the novel contains a love story that based on speculative incidents that some say occurred when Cuba fell to Fidel Castro and the Communists, in 1959.”

“Most of the books is set some thirty years later, in the eighties when the story’s offbeat protagonist’s search after the four rogue government agents who disappeared with millions in gold shortly after the fall of Batista.”

Hammond pointed out with Cuba a newsworthy topic, “The Cuban Quartet,” enjoys a timeliness and a sophistication that should appeal both to male and female readers. She noted the story is plot driven but embellished with rich characters, both as the main protagonists and in supporting plot lines.

“We are building a comprehensive marketing package around this novel,” said Hammond. “We are working all the social media venues and will soon be advertising the book in a digital format. We are also offering its author, Gordon Basichis, for reading engagements. Previously, Gordon has been reluctant to involve himself with reading engagements due to the demands business he Co-Founded, Corra Group, which specializes in background checks and corporate research.

For the complete press release please click on this link

Smashwords Interview with Gordon Basichis, Author of Beautiful Bad Girl

Gordon Basichis has written several books, including fiction and non-fiction.  He is best known as the author of Beautiful Bad Girl, TheVicki Morgan Story.  In addition he has written, The Guys Who Spied for China, Blood Orange, and The Constant Travellers.  He is currently working on a new novel.

Gordon Basichis provided Smashwords with insights to his inspiration, work habits, writing style and what interests him in literature.

To acccess the interview on Smashwords, please click on this  link.

To find Gordon Basichis on Amazon, please click on this link.

Interview with Gordon Basichis

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Philadelphia. Philly was a great music town. And music was a major influence to my writing. The combined mix of rock, folk, jazz and rhythm and blues helped me develop a musical sensibility to my own literary voice.. Blues music, especially, taught me how to capture great human moments with a simple turn of a couple of lines. Philly was a town known for its sarcasm and its irony. This helped me see world and human events through the prism of humor. The City of Brotherly Love offered a mix of high and low culture. I’ve always been attracted to those two extremes. As a young journalist for a Philadelphia newspaper, I started to see the world at large, and how civilization and sophistication were but a thin veneer concealing the primal impulses that rest beneath the surface. Peace and love better wear a bullet proof vest.
When did you first start writing?
I wanted to be a writer from the time I was twelve years old. My first professional writing gig was at eighteen, writing for Nightlife Magazine, a weekly newspaper that was distributed largely to the bars and nightclubs in North Philadelphia. The paper was owned by two brothers, who wanted to tell of the black entertainment and social experience in the urban center. As I was not black, the club owners used to get a kick out of me when I delivered the papers as that was part of my job along with writing the stories inside. At nineteen I started working for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin as an editorial clerk. I moved up to doing the Vietnam casualty beat, where I interviewed the survivors of the soldiers killed in action. I was promoted, covering the fire and crime beat. At twenty I experienced the surreal extravaganza of the city at night, replete with gory crime scenes and six alarm testimonials to the destructive consequences of a hot plate left on too long in a faulty electric socket. It was edifying to say the least.
Who are your favorite authors?
I have been influenced by many authors. Gabriel Garcia Marquez is beyond a doubt one of my absolute favorites. His books demonstrate a mix of passion and violence with the metaphysical and the gloriously absurd. Tom Pynchon is another of my favorite writers, an author who doesn’t slide easily into any genre but picks his themes and subjects as they inspire him. I also enjoy Joyce Carol Oates. Her book, On Boxing, is arguably one of the greatest books on boxing ever written. There is Tom Wolfe, of course, and Norman Mailer’s non-fiction novels. These writers can capture the tone and feel of the times in which we live.My favorite writers are modernists, mostly. Charles Dickens is an exception, and there are others, but I have always gravitated more toward the writers of the twentieth century. It was rich period for literature. William Faulkner is inspirational, as is Kurt Vonnegut in his wonderful ability to capture the humor in some of the more dire scenarios of modern times. Samuel Beckett is remarkable, as is the much underrated poet, Kenneth Patchen and his poetic novel, Journal of Albion Moonlight.The list goes on. As a teenager I was lucky enough to avail myself of the remainder bin at the old Marlboro Books, in New York. There for a buck a piece, one could find great modern works published by the iconic Grove Press and New Directions. It was no nonsense literature, more to the point, but beautifully written and in the modern context.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Life inspires me to get out of bed each day. Not only is it my own will to create and to build, but to see what others have created and built that has substance and texture. We are in a largely disposable world, so it is the things you remember that have richness and value. After all, life as grim as it can be, as absurd and as stupid, is still the greatest show on earth. Who’d want to miss it or not take as much of it in as possible, before you reach your expiration date?
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I am Co-Founder of Corra Group. We conduct background checks and corporate research. My business partner and I built our business from a spare bedroom and a few bucks into a small but significant concern that provides its services throughout the United States and around the world. We are living examples of how you can still make it happen if you are willing to learn and persistent. A bit of luck doesn’t hurt, either.The business of Corra Group enables me to interface with people from all walks of life from all parts of the world. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to talk to all sorts in all businesses and learn from the trenches what is truly going on in the world. It’s a great spot to be, and I never take it for granted. The revenue from Corra Group allows me to write what I want and when I feel like it. Rather than succumb to someone else’s demands, it keeps the creative juices going. And this keeps me young and vital.
What is your writing process?
My writing process, frankly, is erratic. I would love to say it is regimented and that I am up at four in the morning and write X amount a day, so many pages in so much time. But I would be lying. For one thing, my business keeps me working at all hours, and providing information to the various and sundry is more than a perfunctory gesture. I think about what I want to write for quite some time. I sit with it, play with it, let it gestate. I mess around with it, some trial out of the gate pages to see what I like what I don’t like. I listen for the voice of the piece. Oh, the voice. The voice is the GPS, a true guidance. And then I sit and write pretty feverishly. I get absorbed and don’t think about much else. I finish a first draft, which is like hacking through the jungle weeds to find the highway. Once I finish the first draft I realize, okay, I can now see the story I really want to tell. And then I tell it. Many revisions later, I have something that looks like a book.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I read a biography of the writer, Jack London. I thought how wonderful, rather than pursue the white picket fence and the house with the wall to wall carpet, you can make a living being an adventurer. I read it when I was young and naturally it was all so romantic. Here was a guy who was an oyster pirate, and when he got tired of that he worked for the other side as an oyster marshal. Now there is some flexibility. But then, when one sifts through the romance, there is some credence. You experience life and then write about it. Get paid for it…maybe. Either way, you are living it out and taking it down. It keeps the brain cells working.
What do you read for pleasure?
I re-read some of my favorite authors and then I read a fair amount of non-fiction these days. I read books on the challenges of the global economy. One book I have been reading recently is The Metropolitan Revolution. It was published by the Brookings Institution. It’s theme, mainly, is that as federal government is moribund in gridlock and is largely dysfunctional, the metropolitan and local regions are reaching concord and by forming unions among the academic, corporate, political, and technological worlds, they are working it out for themselves. It’s fascinating, really. And hopeful.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
In am an extroverted writer. There are some, but not all that many. Most writers I know are happy daydreaming by themselves or sitting alone in a coffee shop working out their chapters. Introverts, mostly. For me, I have an outgoing personality which allows me to do well in interviews. As a former public relations and marketing executive, I have honed my skills over the years. I know what people are looking for in interviews. I can anticipate and satisfy. I am naturally funny and that goes a long way to liven up what can otherwise be a dull and unproductive session. I also blog and write different articles. That draws a crowd. With a Hollywood background I know one has to stay out there, engage and indulge while bringing some life to the party. Because in interview sessions, it ain’t always easy staring at someone with bad taste in fashion, no mouthwash, and a deep rooted desire to right all wrongs in the universe by flexing their agenda in the middle of a question-answer session. But then, with many, if they didn’t have an ax to grind, they would be having some fun. We can’t have that now, can we?
Describe your desk
I have two desks, actually. At home I have a long narrow desk, a furniture side piece. A table more than a desk. It has modern legs and a thick, crackled glass surface that throws the light in such a lovely manner. At night the computer lights dance in blues and reds, making my desk look like a futuristic city. Of course, I’m its only citizen, but then in this brain of mine there are those character’s voices to keep my company. And since they don’t eat very much, the setup is most cost effective.At the office, I have one of those rising desks with the electric motor. It has a large surface. I believe you can fit the State of Delaware on top. It has an electric motor so I can raise and lower it at will. Stand up. Sit down. Just like going to Church or Temple. People say it’s good for your health. If nothing else, it helps release your underwear from indecent places.
What’s the story behind your latest book?
My latest book is always the book I am working on. As with the other books I have written, it comes directly from my own experience. I’ve been around the block a bit, so friends and maybe those who don’t like me as much as they claim, say it is time for me to do some form of autobiography. Well now. Are we there yet? Geez Louise, I have long discovered that situations that seem fairly matter of fact to me appear scandalous to others. Do I get embraced? Or do they come with shovels and pitchforks? And what is the statute of limitations on creative impulse and ironic indiscretion? Tough to say anymore.But then, thanks to Facebook, I have reconvened with women I knew back when in high school. They have grown, established careers, have become successful. They read my books. But when we meet up, they overlook the violence, the sexuality, and the general insanity. Why? Because with me, their home boy and rare man of letters, they want to know…what will they do with the rest of their lives? And somewhere, that’s pretty fascinating.

Published 2014-02-11.

Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Blood Orange

By Gordon Basichis
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 58,270. Language: English. Published: June 8, 2011. Category: Fiction
The Blood Orange, a romantic mystery set in modern day Los Angeles, is a quest for a treasure and a search for the soul. Former cop, Max Brodie, returns as a grisly murder ignites a deadly conflict. Bandit’s treasure and the romance of Old California are inextricably woven into a grand scheme of duplicity and intrigue where Max must uncover a vast puzzle. Nothing is what it seems to be.
The Constant Travellers

By Gordon Basichis
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 101,490. Language: English. Published: August 5, 2010. Category: Fiction
Sex, drugs, and the West that never was. In this funny and philosophical tale, young Shelby Lopez encounters Thunderbird Hawkins in post Civil War America. The Indian shaman teaches Shelby of the Great Necklace and the Great Book. Their journey leads them to wisdom and an understanding of man’s destiny. While set in the Old West, the novel’s modern idiom is as contemporary as if it were today.
Beautiful Bad Girl, The Vicki Morgan Story

By Gordon Basichis
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 93,150. Language: English. Published: March 9, 2010. Category: Nonfiction
Vicki Morgan, mistress to department store heir and Ronald Reagan confidant, Alfred Bloomingdale, lived beyond her years and died before her time, the victim of a brutal murder. Seething with power, intrigue, sex and obsession, it’s a ringside seat into the darker habits of the world’s rich and powerful.
The Guys Who Spied for China

By Gordon Basichis
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 66,990. Language: English. Published: March 9, 2010. Category: Fiction
The Guys Who Spied for China,a roman a clef exposing Chinese espionage networks in the United States, is a quirky tale of how two disparate men uncovered a network of homegrown spies that had operated in California and across the country for decades. A new twist on the spy drama, this personal and darkly humorous tale captures what it feels like to be thrust into the shadowy world of espionage.

The New Boomer Commune, a Television Pitch That Became a Harsh Reality

A couple of years ago, I wrote on this blog about the need for the new commune.     The original article was entitled, Boomers New Commune for Retirement Post-Recession. My first posting came on the heels of the economic meltdown.  I could see where the economic downturn, in fact the major disaster cost Boomers, their houses, their savings, their jobs, and dignity.   People who had saved short money who depending on their pensions, found their savings wiped out, their pensions in ruins.   Things did not look good then, and now, several years, later, the largest segment of the unemployed are those who are fifty-years-old and up.  Boomers.

As a generation, most Boomers lack enough financial security to retire as it is.  Few have put even  a scant $100 Thousand away for the golden years.  And now, a few years later, public service programs and entitlement programs are under attack.   While governments, federal and state kick back to the wealthy by allowing major tax breaks for the “job creators,” not jobs are really being created.  Not on the scale that is necessary.   It’s like the country is being sold off one piece at a time, and those who worked for thirty, forty, fifty years, find themselves confused, caught in a device of their own making…in big trouble.

Back in the beginning of the twenty-first century, all right, seven years ago, Marcia and I pitched to the television networks a dramatic series about Boomers finding themselves confronting the realities of not a brave but dumb new world.  As Marcia had developed such hits as Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place, and oversaw Dynasty, we figured pitching a night time soap opera wasn’t that big of a stretch.   At the pitch meetings, we pointed out that what services that were taken for granted would be diminished or rescinded entirely.   The proverbial carpet was pulled out from under, and now it was time for innovation.

We detailed how social services would fade into history and the aged and the middle income people would have less access to adequate medical care, food, and shelter.  You know, the basics.   I pointed out how instead of needing midwives, there would be a demand for hospice workers, nurses, and medical technicians who could administer to the commune at large.   While there would still be a need to grow crops and work the land, there would also be the need for advanced technology.   In the old communes technology was feared and rejected.  In the commune of the aging Boomer, technology is necessary for communication, access to information, and in some cases a means for some to continue to make a living well into their senior years.

The new commune would be very different from the communes of the sixties, even though the point of common ground is that on both occasions they were established by the same generation.Young Boomers back then, people in their twenties, rebelling against the system, living sex, drugs, rock and roll.   Now it would be older Boomers, just living, trying to survive.   Back to the garden. The commune.  The commune with computers.  The commune with more companionship than sexual experimentation, where the commune dwellers had matured enough so they didn’t have to take a vote on who would wash the dishes and who would walk the chickens.   The drugs were of the prescription variety and the minding expanding process was relegated to things like scanning in photos of the grandchildren or organizing reading and education programs for the local schools and nearby communities.

You know, useful stuff.  Of course there would be comedy and drama, an audience keyed in to character interaction in this ensemble cast for a television series.   We pitched this idea to every network and some of the cable companies.   We told them that Boomers and such were a major audience and as their tastes and buying patterns were way different than the old elderly.  Boomers, unlike their parents, weren’t stuck on brands and were open to new products and services.  They were technologically oriented.    They had money.  some of them, anyway.

We described in marketing terms how sponsors would flock to but air time.    Here was a  culturally rich platform to sell their, designer jeans,  pharmaceuticals,  magical yogurts, nutritional health bars,  and luxury cars…the Valhalla of marketing platforms for the Lexus, Mercedes, BMW…and let’s not forget Viagra.

However, the networks were not run by Boomers.  The networks were run by people barely out of their fetal stage.   Little embryos and often with brains to match.  Network executives were largely people of privilege who had been largely insulated from the harsh realities of the world.  These are people who are largely not overly imbued with a sense of social empathy and as a group their historical understanding ranges all the way from Happy Days to Happy Hour.    This was a new marketing segment, an emerging marketing segment that had yet to be tested.  As someone who has worked in marketing, as yet to be tested, means that fifty people above and below have nary a clue of the issue  and its potential before you.   As  iconic screenwriter William Goldman has said about Hollywood, “No one knows nothing.”  And his sage-like statement is no truer than when essentially spoiled, self-absorbed and insecure people are confronted with a new idea.  Even it the idea sounds plausible, it can’t be because no one has proposed it before.   The system shuts down.   To the shock of no one, we were told no.

Okay, so now here we are.   We have politicians wanting to do away with social security and deny a fair amount of social services.  On one hand you have Wall Street, like Sirens of the Cosmic Peep Show promising that if you just give them your money, lush retirement awaits you…you aging fool.  You can have a new career, another business,  a chance to do all the things and have all the experiences you should have had the first place instead of saddling yourself with a thankless job where you worked for trinkets and baubles until they finally fired your sorry ass during the latest Recession.

Out of work, unemployed, not a lot of bread in the bread box, you have according to the actuaries another twenty to forty years of life on this planet, and the question is how the hell are you going to make it?

How indeed?  Well, there are all these blighted towns out there they could be restored and turned back into communities.    Abandoned urban areas that could be reclaimed.   Communities where there is close proximity to the shops and services.  Where as a commune or compound you can actually function and live your life.   The modern commune.   Maybe there are jobs and maybe the jobs are created from within the commune.  Internet commerce or whatever.  In any event, most commune members would have some Social Security income, some kind of pension.    Maybe it’s not necessarily stuck out in the middle of some boondocks paradise where you are a million miles from the hospital, should your heart act up or your hemorrhoids start to bother you.

Places that are reclaimed.  Where you can be cared for by people just like yourself.  Everything from retired healthcare workers to IT folk, chefs, and crafts workers.   Other Boomers pitching in, long evolved from the concerns or post-adolescence and focused on the ardors of survival in a world that may yet reject them.  It ain’t the Garden, but then it aint’ the Grave Yard either.   And it sure beats the hell out of Leisure World.

Evergreen Review Publishes Book Review for The Guys Who Spied for China

The Evergreen Review holds a special place in my heart.  Along with its book publishing division, Grove Press, from the mid-century on,  intrepid visionary, alias the publisher, Barney Rosset,  brought forth to this nation a tremendous selection of cutting edge literature.  This was literature that few back then would dare publish.   Even today many of these remarkable contemporary writers  would still be wanting a publisher had it not been for Rossett.

The Evergreen Review and Grove Press publication list, first introduced Americans to Samuel Beckett and William Burroughs.    Grove published the unexpurgated version of D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover, Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, among other of the author’s works,  and the unabridged work of Marquis De Sade.   Grove and Evergreen published international authors, some of whom would go on to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.   Like Japanese novelist Kenzaburo Oe and Per Lagerkvist in Literature.

Evergreen Review published Jean Paul Sartre, John Rechy, Octavio Paz,  Malcolm X, John Rechy, Jakov Lind, Jack Kerouac,  Jean Genet, and Allen Ginsburg.   There are so many that it is almost senseless to name them all.    You can find a list of authors at the Evergreen Review website, which I have linked to here…Evergreen Review.

Back in the Paleolithic Era when we were supposed to be good children reading Silas Marner, I was visiting the long defunct Marlborough Bookstore in New York.   The Marlboro Bookstore was a local chain and was unique as it put on its remainder shelf copies of Grove Press publications.  They sold them at a bargain off of list price.  Just a buck.  For one dollar, not the smallest amount of money for a high school kid in search of something  a little more a little more relevant than the classics, I could rummage Marlboro on the cheap and find in Grove and Evergreen this marvelous new world of writers.   These were writers who had not been  sanitized with century’s worth of time time and that incumbent respectability.   These were flawed individuals, exploring the world around us, offering us at times often gritty and surreal insights.

These were writers  who were flawed in character, erratic, and often unpredictable,.  They were lyrical and immediate, in your face.   They explored sex of all varieties and  drugs of every kind.  They examined changing roles of men and women in modern society.  They delved into politics and society and helped to demystify the bland myths of mid-century acceptance.    And for these writers, unlike the academics and the acceptable mainstream, this was not an intellectual exercise.    They practiced what they preached, and a good many paid the price for their indulgences.   Such is the price for living it.

This is where I cut my teeth.   These were the writers who worked to define modern times and now and then offer illumination and poetic transcendence to a world that was getting crazier by the moment.   Some of these writer had been published elsewhere.  Some had not been published at all.   But here in a changing America, Barney Rosset made sure their voices were heard.

I write this because Evergreen Review was kind enough to review The Guys Who Spied for China.  While I make no points of comparison to others who have graced its pages, my literary exposure started with Evergreen Review, so it’s like a full cycle.  I am delighted.  It means a lot to me.  Live long, Barney, and publish for another dozen centuries.   Given what the publishing world is today, it truly needs guys like you.

Here is the link to Kevin Riordan’s review of The Guys Who Spied for China.

The People We Love to Hate

Not long ago, on one of the book blog sites, some guy went out of his way to tell me how indifferent he was to my work.   I responded once and asked him if he was so  indifferent than why did he go out of his way to tell me.  I thought if he had actually read the book it would be one thing.  If he hated my guts for some other reason, okay.   I realize I am not on everyone’s Christmas list.

My reply elicited further responses from him where he again reiterated that it was the subject matter with which he would be indifferent and would never read.   I finally thanked him for taking  time  from what I was sure was a frantic schedule to register his indifference to the extent he had.   Civil restraint prevented my real considerations on the probable status of his life.  I have not always been the world’s best practitioner of civil restraint, so I guess that is mark of  progress.

Obviously, there was something about me or the book subject that caused this intense reaction.   And then I started thinking of how when we as a society should perhaps feel indifferent we go out of our way to declare our own distaste for things.   In fact, with certain politicos and celebrities, certain hot button issues,  rather than just declare our displeasure or say nothing at all, we cannot leave it alone.  Doesn’t matter what side of the political or social spectrum you are own or how enlightened you may perceive your lifestyle, there is always somebody or something that causes us to rail on wherever and as often as we can.  And that becomes a trap where the logic of indifference is corrupted by our passions.  We end up devoting way too much time and emotion to things with which we should really care less.

We should know better.   Not that we should know better because we are above it all and should transcend the rancor by taking the high road and retaining an enlightened state of mind.   We should know better because we are of an age when it is the media’s main job to manipulate our thoughts and sentiments, our social belief,s and political perspectives in order to establish a multi-level marketing platform for its celebrity flavors of the week.   In short, we are being used as marks and proud of it.    We are either the support group, or we are the opposition.   In the hands of a manipulative media and those ringing up the cash register we are two sides of the same coin.

Stirring up the crowds is nothing new.   Professional wrestling has done it for years.   In professional wrestling you have the hero, the glowing and glistening symbol of virtue and skill, and you have the heel.   The heel is the bad guy, the one who fights dirty and says outrageous things, who thumbs his nose at the crowd.   The heel revels in the crowd’s hatred.   Hen needs the crowd as much as the hero needs the crowd.   The crowd with its boos and catcalls supports the heel as much if not more than it supports the hero.   The crowd loves to hate the heel.  In both instances without the crowd there would be no controversy.   There would be no sport.

With wrestling as with most things socio-political, the hero and the heel are interchangeable.   A wrestler has a run as the hero for awhile, and then when his adoring public grows tired of adoring him, he becomes the heel.   Those who loved him, suddenly hate him.   He is the one now prancing arrogantly in the center of the ring and thumbing his nose at the crowd.   He is now the one disparaging his opponent while making outrageous predictions about the state of things to come.     As the hero he sold tickets to the show.  As the heel he sells tickets to the show.  People pay money to see him get his ass beat in.  And when it doesn’t happen, when he prevails over the current heroic symbol of virtue and merit, the crowd gets to hate him that much more.

The socio-political spectrum is different in a variety of crucial ways.   Unlike wrestling, with things political and social we don’t just invest in tickets.  We invest with our lives.   But nevertheless we are manipulated by a media, or more directly the media conglomerates,  that have a financial motivation to work us into a frenzy.   Media or more to the point what passes for news media these days has realized there is no money anymore in providing objective news reports and thoughtful analysis.    As Campbell Brown, a recent CNN news show causality, remarked that the public does not want objective news anymore.  The public wants the type of news that supports its own points of view.    Apparently, we would rather cheer blindly from the sidelines than try to analyze the facts.

Whether the media conglomerates created the condition where news as opinion pieces or whether they responded to public taste I suppose is a matter of conjecture.   But they certainly have profited from its condition.  By eliminating objective messaging and critical thinking from what passes for news shows, the conglomerates were able to develop  media celebrities of every stripe, ethnicity, and political perspective.   These are the chosen who were developed to pander to the crowds by offering an alternating spectrum of simplistic solutions to complex challenges or a spectrum of crackpot ideas.   In short, like wrestling, they were able to develop opposing forces for any issue.   This in turn created a passionate fan base and multi-marketing platforms and the subsequent delivery systems that can offer everything from speaking engagements and books, to rallies and picnic baskets.

It could be claimed  that Fox News was the first to venture forth on television with the decidedly slanted news format.     I should say Fox News took the elements political talk radio. and carried them further.  While I am not the world biggest fan of Fox News  and while my total talk radio listening time, annually, is less than an hour,  I give credit, if that is really the word, to these two platforms for changing the dynamic of news and politics.  Both talk radio and its logical spinoff, Fox News,  determined from the outside that their programming didn’t chase after viewers’ minds as much as their emotions.

While political radio could raise the blood pressure by taking call-ins, Fox News  inflamed the passions  with the Fox good guys taking on the bad guys.   Like some electronic rendition of the Medieval Inquisition, Fox pundits in the name of “fair and balanced” were fond of dragging the progressives and liberals, and the rest, for the opposing point of view.  Between commercials, they would give these straw men  five seconds to explain their point of view before browbeating them like some  jingoistic weed whacker.   If you believed in what the Sean Hannity’s and Bill O’Reilly’s had to say, you felt yourself vindicated.   If you were the more progressive thought you would find your blood boiling over.

Of course, the progressives or liberals, or whatever you wish to call them this particular season, considered this a terrible process.   Not enough vitriol could be injected into any conversation that related to Fox News.   Progressives couldn’t hate them enough.   As a result, Fox ratings climbed even more.   As for the pundits launched by Fox they two experienced what one would consider notable improvements in their careers.   Of course the more the opposition hated Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin, the more their fan base supported them by reading their columns and buying their books.

Coulter, Malkin, Rush Limbaugh, and, later, Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck, represented a new dynamic in media marketing.    Unlike wrestling, where the character was either the hero or the heel, these pundits were heroes and heels all at once.  They were loved and they were hated.  The more they are hated, then the more they are loved.    The more they are loved and hated, the greater their revenue.   Let them say something outrageous and it is all over the media, conservative and liberal alike.  The only difference is where one side applauds the remarks, the other side regards them as Satan’s spawn.   What is conclusive is neither the veracity or the falsity of their written and spoken words, but that their polarizing effect generates some major bucks for both the players and their handlers, the media groups.    So not only is there a lot of money in saying things that people agree with, there is an equal amount to be gained by having your critics declare how stupid you are.

The liberals, of course, after decrying the conservatives for their crass statements and wanton venality, finally decided that taking the high road offered little assurance they would reach their final destination.   So they formed their own media platforms that is other than those of the “traditional liberal media,” where progressive pundits could offer their own brand of ridicule for the things they detest the most.   Hence MSNBC, after myriad incarnations, developed finally a workable format for progressive ideology.    There are the Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann who offer their own brand of competing self-righteous indignation to what some may consider the good fight.   There is also Progressive Radio or Air America, or whatever it was the last time I looked with Tom Hartmann, Randi Rhodes,  and the famously unfunny funny man  turned current and competent U.S. Senator Al Franken.

For progressive media, a fair share of the commentary includes the castigation of  conservative mainstays like, Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin, Bill O’Reilly,  Ann Coulter, and Sarah Palin.    Progressive hosts rail on about them like the fashion police dishing at high school.   This in turn inspires  lastest outrage from the Legion of the Outrageous, which in turn causes viewers and listeners to take ongoing umbrage and the latest indiscretion.   This not only boosts radio and sales for the support group, the progressive media pundits who now peddle their books, lectures, events and such, but gives food for the right to carry on with its own agenda, giving speeches, writing books and otherwise catering to their own support group.

In a world where many are concerned about ecological condition’s and environmental matters,  the socio-political  media is the primary example of environmental harmony.  If you say something your side likes and supports, you make money.  If you say something the other side hates, you make money.   The only time you can lose money is if you address complex issues with more than a sound bite or buzzword.  This tends to confuse the audience and tends to be off putting as critical thinking is required.  In a world we are programmed that solutions are simple and cinema heroes resolve international conflict in an hour and forty two minutes,  you don’t need the dynamics of complex critical issues and all that is required to solve them to go raining on the delusional parade.   The more you think about things, the less time you have for railing out your own particular party line.   Complex thinking requires deeper thought, which results in extended contemplation , which means fewer books and public appearances for those who actually have to explain themselves in greater detail.

While we are not exactly a nation worthy of our heritage as being born in the Age of Reason, we are not always stupid.  We recognize that these media pundits are not just out there for the well being of America or the general common good.  We recognize that Glenn Becks recent soirée  at the Lincoln Memorial is less altruistic and more for the benefit of Glenn Beck than anyone else.   We recognize that Rush Limbaugh didn’t make his few bucks by initiating a selfless campaign for the good of Mom and Apple Pie.   We realize Sarah Palin resigned as Governor of Alaska to devote more time to optimize her own window of opportunity to make money hand and fist.   We realize that every pundit right or left is dependent on their audience to stay on the air.  Former Congressman, Dick Armey, has feathered his nest as the spokes person for the Tea Party or whatever the hell it is called this season.   Al Gore didn’t go broke by promoting the environmental movement.   The more they incite their adversaries, the higher the ratings the more money they will make.

Yet,while we know these are puffed up entertainers posing as news analysts and politicians we cannot refrain from taking them seriously.   We care when Keith Olbermann rants on about Sarah Palin using bullets as symbols for the targeted politicians the Republicans believe are vulnerable to being unseated.   Obviously, Palin chose the bullet images as a ploy, in fact as part of her branding, but just about every commentator on MSNBC and elsewhere went for the ploy, revving it up disproportionately as if she was truly recommending the assassination attempts on these veritable  Moose Lodge Members.  Beware!  Oooohhh..     Served Palin well as it reinforced her branding, and served the progressive pundits as it reinforced their selling of  the great Palin threat.

There are hundreds if not thousands of examples.  A decade ago it was the Clinton’s, and now it is Obama.  Or it is what Limbaugh has to say about this or Pelosi has to say about that.  Dr. Laura, Al Shartpon…pick your poison and then go piss and moan.    People don’t just disagree, but they work themselves into a frenzy, inciting the blogsphere with incantations and variations on the theme.     And from it all we are farther and farther removed from any condition of unity or relative attempt at consensus.   We don’t exchange thoughts; we utter slogans.   Name the topic, name the person; each side has its jargon to address the issue.   Bite sized jargon that will fit nicely between commercials and book plugs.

I don’t discredit these pundits for self-promotion.  It is America, the land of opportunity.   It’s tough in an overpopulated world to rise from obscurity and make a name for yourself.   Especially when at heart you are an imbecile.  Well not really an imbecile, because despite all popular thought about some or our noteworthy media folk, it takes a  wily coyote to climb the heights of media recognition.   You can lack knowledge and you can have the intellectual depth that goes from A to B and back again, but there is a talent to manipulating the media to where you hold sway on public thought.

I guess in the end, I want to know why we even care about these people or what they have to say.  Obviously, most are a long way from scholars or experts on the subject.  And then, considering the state of things some of which are the result of the pondering of experts on the subject, why do we hold in such regard the positions of any of these people?   Logic would dictate that you delve deeper and conduct your own critical thinking, before this once easily accessible thought process is relegated to the junk pile of modern consciousness or turned into a lost art.   You would think we would regard most of these people as self-aggrandizing snake oil vendors and take their offerings no more to heart than we would a dancing bear.   You would think we would spend a lot less time pissing and moaning about them and tripping over their incomplete thinking and figure out in traditional American pragmatic process how to get ourselves out of this mess.

But we don’t.  Maybe as a nation we have too much time on our hands.  Without celebrity, we only  have ourselves.  And without the heroes and heels, we have only ourselves to blame and then we must shoulder the responsibility of rebuilding the country.   And that, media-wise, is a very hard sell.