Can Someone Please Stop This Freak Show?

I remember a movie from childhood, released by Disney, called Freaky Friday. I’m glad I never saw it, as my intellectual growth was already stunted by too many crappy sitcoms.

But, as this post will hit on a Friday, these last two weeks have been truly freaky. Jane, stop this crazy thing! Here we go to the freak show….

1. The Duggar Family.

The show “19 Kids and Counting,” which I have also proudly never seen, has raised its share of controversy lately, with Josh Duggar, son of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, outed for molesting his younger sisters and never facing charges.

If you’ve been following the story, there’s no need to recap.

My first thought was “I bet they homeschooled their kids.” Yeppirs, I was correct.

Families like this tend to be connected to a spider web of conservative Christian and Dominionist organizations, and they instruct their offspring to put God’s Word (as they understand it) into American government, to cleanse America of her sins and make us truly godly again. Never mind about that pesky “no religious test shall ever be required for public office” part of the Constitution that even came before the Bill of Rights.

After being fruitful and multiplying, they will send their offspring to private Christian colleges and universities where they will be trained to go to Washington to fight against abortion, humanism, agnosticism, atheism, liberalism, and whatever their issue du jour is to ensure that we are truly a Christian nation.

They also are “young Earth creationists,” who state the Big Bang Theory and evolution are blatant lies, and that humans and dinosaurs shared our planet.

Not surprisingly, they are fighting for the right for all Americans to be just like they are. The Duggar family has relied on curriculum from the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center identified as a religious hate group in 2010.

In 45 of 50 states, no degree is required to homeschool. When I went to public school, about a third of my teachers had master’s degrees or above.

Too much to go into here, but to understand adult survivors of homeschooled families like the Duggars, there’s an excellent site called Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out.

Not all homeschooling is inadequate, but over 75 percent of homeschooled children are the offspring of conservative fundamentalist Christians.

I told you I was starting the Friday Freak Show!

2. What have we learned today?

Well, not much from what used to be The Learning Channel, home of “19 Kids…,” now rebranded as TLC.

TLC, when it was founded as The Learning Channel, was begun in 1972 as a cable-only channel in a joint venture between NASA and the former Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW).

In 1980, The Learning Channel was privatized, and it was then purchased by Discovery Communications in 1991. In recent years, The Learning Channel was rebranded as simply TLC. Not much learning going on there any more.

If it was still The Learning Channel, “19 Kids…”  would have been a one-time documentary which would not have paid for the Duggar family’s digs if it had aired at all. Instead, that freak show’s crib was paid for by the network.

Discovery Communications, publicly traded, owns at least 13 cable channels, including (obviously) the Discovery Channel, along with joint ownership of the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) with its namesake, Animal Planet, Velocity, Destination America and others. Google it if you want to see the rest. There’s no way I’m typing the names of all of those channels.

The Newhouse family, owner of the privately held Advance Communications, holds 39 percent of Discovery Communications’ stock. Advance Communications owns The Oregonian of Portland, the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and the entire suburban Sun Newspapers chain of Greater Cleveland, along with numerous other media properties.

Well, the Plain Dealer was never anything great, but it has descended into Suck Zone. Just like the Times-Picayune no longer being a daily newspaper, and what used to be The Learning Channel.

3. Rachel Dolszar.

And, the freak show continues. This woman was born as European-American as I, but she impersonated being African-American, and was the president of the Spokane, Washington NAACP.

There was no need for her to impersonate. NAACP regional presidents have sometimes been, well, white.

In 2012, I had training for a program called Election Protection, designed to prevent harassment of voters. I was proud to do it, and having never been in the military, I served my nation to the best of my ability that Election Day.

Who trained me? The NAACP in Cleveland.

Before I wrap this take up, as a matter of principle, if the system was trying to prevent a trailer park full of Duggar families who would vote 98 percent against my interests, I would nonetheless have done the same thing for them as I did for voters in seven different locations on Cleveland’s West Side.

Sorry, Rachel, there was no need to lie, as you did not only to the NAACP but to the historically black Howard University playing the race card the other way. Rachel, I do not really care what color you are. But one thing about whatever color you are really pisses me off.

You are a fraud.

4. Caitlyn Jenner.

You’re a 65-year-old man. You got some hormone injections, a boob job, and only your hairdresser knows for sure what else, but you still kept the schlong.

You also ate up more than one news cycle seeking (and getting) attention, and you wasted time I will never get back.

Worse yet, ESPN gave you its Arthur Ashe Courage Award for going public about wanting to be a she-male for the rest of your life.

Arthur Ashe had courage. You, sir/ma’am, are just a media whore.

How about the TMZ Waste Of My Time Award?

5. Dylann Storm Roof

You murdered nine innocent people in a church. Including the pastor who was a South Carolina state senator.

How, at the young age of 21, could you have so much hate in your heart and mind?

You failed ninth grade twice. Obviously, you did not teach it to yourself. Or maybe, you did. Your kind tends not to be very bright.

Don’t blame it on the drugs. Back in my day, liberals did the drugs. Sorry.

Oh. you’re white. I get it now.

If a black man commits a crime, he’s a thug, a savage, and a complete menace to society. You killed nine people in what any reasonable person would call a hate crime, but you’re just mentally ill. After all, you’re white.

But, after all, guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

And the atomic bombs we dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki didn’t kill a million people or more and devastate two cities.

The pilots did.

You were unemployed with no goals, no driver’s license and two arrests, but at 21, your age of majority, you were gifted the firearm you used to kill nine innocent people, six women and three men, and one of the men was the pastor of that African Methodist Episcopal church. Their families will never get their loved ones back, and about that gun you used:

It, indeed, killed nine innocent people. Because you deliberately fired it committing nine murders in a hate crime. If you had walked into Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church with something that also can be lethal, such as a knife or a baseball bat, you would have gotten a beatdown.

Nine innocent people would still be breathing on this Earth, making it a better place in 30 minutes than you could ever hope to make it in your entire existence.

6. Who are our terrorists?

Since Timothy McVeigh bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City 20 years ago, we have had domestic terrorism.

With the exception of 9/11, far-right domestic terrorists have killed almost ten times more Americans on our own soil than anyone connected with Islam. Our dangerous jihadists in the United States are more likely to be named Joseph than Mohammed.

Now, who are these people?

Start with the remains of the KKK and other white separatists, who Roof seemed to be. Add to the volatile mix Christian Identity groups, who also harbor anti-Semitism, along with anti-gay groups, along with your anti-abortion crowd.

Now, let’s toss in “Patriot” groups, who run almost exclusively white and free enterprise with a decided affinity for the Second Amendment as they perceive it. Oh, and who can forget the neo-Nazis here?

Others align with this toxic mix from fear that they will no longer be a majority in a nation that has already marginalized them.

Since the 2008 election of President Obama, the number of identified hate groups in the United States has more than quadrupled, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Many of these groups target recruits at the youngest age they can, as their elders are, well, elderly now.

This is what our murderer said before he let his fatal bullets fly; reportedly reloading five times:

“I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country, and you have to go.” – Dylan Storm Roof

You cannot develop that kind of hatred in a vacuum.

Extra Point: This. Was. Terrorism.

This was a hate crime, although most candidates from one of our political parties did not say it. Its cable channel tried to spin these murders as not racial, but as an attack on Christianity itself.

Obviously, it was a hate crime,  despite the shameless pandering of most of that party to some whites, who hold some, most, or all of the views of the murderer.

I must admit, in terms of race, I am not completely without bias.

When I graduated high school, in my school’s enrollment of approximately 2,000, there were three African-Americans, with none in my class.

This was clearly domestic terrorism. And I write this as a white man.

This happened at a historic African Methodist Episcopal church, which dates from 1789, almost to the beginning of the republic.

If a black person or a Muslim had murdered nine people during Wednesday night Bible study at my local Methodist church, whose congregation is overwhelmingly white, Faux News would be screaming at the top of its lungs about terrorism. In fact, so would MSNBC.

Below is the federal statute determining whether an act is domestic terrorism:

18 U.S. Code Section 2331 – Definitions

As used in this chapter—…

(5) the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—

(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;

(B) appear to be intended—

(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (italics mine)

(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or

(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and

(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States

I reported. You decide.

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They Said It!

I’ll let others speak today, not necessarily for or against me, but just to give readers food for thought. I do my best to stay away from overuse of sugar and excessive processing.

1. On dealing with morons:

“To argue with a man who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.”

– Thomas Paine, The American Crisis No. V (1776)

2. Damn right, I’m a liberal!

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

– Franklin Delano Roosevelt

3. And yes, I’m an agnostic!

“When a man is freed of religion, he has a better chance to live a normal and wholesome life.”

– Sigmund Freud

4. Idiocracy? Yeppirs!

“Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.”

– Laurence J. Peter, The Peter Principle

5. The Fools Rule

“The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

– W. Shakespeare

 6. And speaking of fools …

“Republicans run on the premise that government is evil. Once elected, they prove it.”

– Unknown

Extra Point: See how easy this is?

I wanted to keep this blog running, so I decided to let other people speak for me. It’s a wise thing to do on occasion.  Wiser people than I have written better words, so let them have their due.

 Besides, it beats getting a phone call or text from a drunken moron about last night’s basketball game. Or being the drunken moron in the first place.

It Can’t Happen Here

But it did. There was nothing on HBO Wednesday, June 3 that was worth watching, but fear not. I got to watch a cop show live from my living room window, namely a search warrant executed for a meth lab.  Here come Six Points.

1. Where did this happen?

I reside in an exurb of Cleveland, where the average home value is substantially above average for the region. In its “rating the suburbs” edition, Cleveland Magazine scored this town 11th of over 70 suburbs it rated for public safety.

Usually, the biggest items on the police blotter here are OVIs. The lawns in my development look like fairways. My section of the development was originally a horse pasture for a drugstore magnate on the grounds of his summer home, but generations later, mature landscaping lines the street, and the trees seem to guide you home.

It’s a quiet neighborhood, but we have our share of Condo Nazis. If your patio is not up to standard, be prepared to get a Nastygram in the mail. If you don’t pay your fees, prepare for a lien on your property. On this street, we have what I would call a New York approach. In other words, mind your own damn business, but be cordial.

2. What happened?

Numerous police agencies arrived and put on a show. No lights, no gunshots, no sirens, but three of the local po-pos were here in uniform, plus one county sheriff deputy and four trucks and SUVs with civilian plates on them.

There was yellow police tape outside of the 1,600-square-foot end unit, and two of the men from the trucks put hazmat suits on. Out from the garage came an industrial  barrel and a bucket, and then, the men in suits entered the condo and came out carrying various chemicals, of household and other varieties.

Just like a cop show in real life, the undercover cops then put the chemicals on a table in the garage and took pictures for evidence. Then, out came the evidence bags.

Nice and thrilling on TV, but not what you want to watch from your back patio.

3. Who made it happen?

On the basis of tips, the local cops were here, plus SWAT, the BCI (Bureau of Criminal Investigation), and sheriffs from both Summit and Geauga counties. Now, Geauga County is, as they would say in the South, a fur piece from here.

When the drama looked like it was concluding, I talked to one of the men who had shed his Hazmat suit. The conversation went something like this:

Me: What was this, a meth lab?

Him: Yes.

Me: Great! A wannabe Heisenberg across the lawn! Was this the guy with the loud F-250?

Him: Yes. He’s in Geauga County Jail. We arrested him this morning.

Me: Geauga County? He reached that far?

Him: We had our eye on him for a while. This is his third arrest for this.

Me: Then how did he get here?

Him: The place was in foreclosure, and he was squatting.

Me: If you’re squatting, if you had a brain, wouldn’t you keep a lower profile?

Him: We might want to talk to you.

Me: The only thing I know about meth labs is from watching Breaking Bad and what I see in the media. I’m just a neighbor.

4. Cop a Squat.

Back in my high school days, that was slang for “please, sit down.”

I prefer “please, sit down” these days, but I still remember Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman saying “Cop a Squat.”

OK, cops got a squatter. Huh?

Squatters, from my limited naiveté, are in abandoned row houses in Philadelphia and Baltimore, not here. And, with the number of eyeballs on my street, someone had to let him squat.

We need to find out who, and I have a few clues. I hope Barney Fife here also has some. I want to stay out of this. I’m just the neighbor.

5. Addition by Subtraction

The late Paul Brown once said that to the press about cutting a player.

My neighborhood is better off with this moron in jail.

It’s 2:00 a.m. What’s the rest of the street doing? Either sleeping or praying they will get home from the bar without getting stopped by the police.

Actually, on this street, they are just sleeping, unless they have prostate issues and are getting up to pee.

What was Asshole Neighbor doing at that hour? Running his air compressor and doing mechanical work on his vehicles while shining lights in my window.

Friday night, May 29, Ozzie (my loving but protective mix of black Lab and Rottweiler) started going nuts. There was a man who was working on his Frank Gallagher look (reference to Shameless) asking me about a plastic table and chairs on the curb. It was the night before trash day.

Me: Why are you here?

Him: Someone left a table and chairs out there and I wondered if I could have it. I always ask.

Ozzie: Growl.

Me: We have three choices here. One, I call the police, and they will be here in 90 seconds. You won’t like that. Two, I let the dog loose. You really won’t like that. Three, and I advise you to make this choice, is GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE! NOW!

Ozzie: Growl.

He took Option Three, and about three minutes later, I called the po-pos and reported the incident and his vehicle.

I thought something was just not right, as this man looked like he did not belong here. On Saturday night, May 30, Asshole was running his compressor at 2 a.m. I asked Asshole about the plastic table and chairs, as I saw they were gone before the trash man came, told him about the incident, and he said “I took it. My girlfriend needed them.”

Suspicious Man was probably Asshole’s buddy, casing garages. This is not a poor neighborhood, and there is some expensive stuff in the shared garages here.

Thank you, Ozzie! My bicycles are still here!

6. This may run deeper

Now, who let Asshole Neighbor squat?

You don’t squat here without permission. Asshole Neighbor, covered with tattoos, did not exactly fit on a street where people go to work in neckties or skirts or slacks.

And, who paid the electric bill, as the lights were on in every room of that condo at 0300?

I have possible connections, but they are not to be published here at this time. This could be a spider web worthy of the Duggar family.

Extra Point: Prevention

Depending on the level of contamination done by Asshole Neighbor, a $140,000 condo could be worthless.

As much as I want to have my space and give my neighbors theirs, we may need to get out of our New York State of Mind. Go ahead, Condo Nazis, bring it. After I get done posting this, the Roundup goes after the weeds on the patio.

I’m glad the media was all over the Cavaliers instead of covering actual news. This way, property values here will not plummet. Of course, if you rent a hotel room on a budget, you have no idea if someone was cooking methamphetamine in it the night before.

And, there is another factor. Call it the elephant in the room.

Even before the Great Recession, foreclosures exploded not just in Cleveland and the inner suburbs, but in upscale places like Chagrin Falls and Hudson. In my immediate area, people could score a $100,000 condo for $55,000. Some buyers played the HGTV game of flipping, but most stayed and put down roots.

There may be no answers to this, but I guess our best answer, no matter where we live, is not to be the nosy neighbor, but to be our brother’s keeper.

Two Point Conversion: Update

The owner of that unit had it willed to him by his late father, and said owner is on parole. He gave permission to Asshole to stay there in his absence when he had room and board courtesy of the State of Ohio. Both men are looking at much smaller and less luxurious accommodations for many years. Law enforcement had the condo under surveillance for a month or more.

What’s In A Name?

If it’s an entertainment venue with a corporate name on it, most likely your tax dollars and mine built it, and a corporation bought the naming rights to it for almost gratis advertising for a minute fraction of that facility’s construction and maintenance costs.

This trend dates further than most realize. For example, Wrigley Field in Chicago was named in the 1920s by Philip Wrigley, owner of both Wrigley’s Chewing Gum and the Cubs at that time.

But, it was more subtle. In the 1960s, when the Busch family of Anheuser-Busch, owners of the St. Louis Cardinals, wanted to rename Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis after Budweiser, MLB nixed the proposal. The park became Busch Stadium, and A-B then launched the Busch brand of beer.

Let’s take a look at six of the most egregious invasions of our space by Corporate America, who “tags” our entertainment with their graffiti.

1. Let’s go Bowling!

It’s January 1. It’s 1940. All of the bowl games were played on New Year’s Day. All five of them.

They were the Rose, Sugar, Cotton, Orange and Sun bowls, and none of them had corporate sponsorships.

Now, there are 38 Bowl Championship Series games, and almost all of them have corporate names. The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl is played at the University of Phoenix Stadium, named after a for-profit online university with no physical plant, much less a football team.

In the 1960s and 1970s, there was a movement for truth in advertising.

How about when two schools you never heard of meet in a bowl game you never heard of in December in a city you’ve never heard of in a game of legitimate interest only to immediate families and NFL scouts, just call it the Degenerate Gambler Bowl?

2. Closer to Home

The arena and both stadiums in downtown Cleveland were paid for exclusively by the taxpayers of our region. The team owners paid nothing for construction, and still only pay minimal rent and maintenance costs.

In the beginning, although naming rights were part of the deal, it wasn’t really that bad. Dick Jacobs owned the Indians, and put his name on the ballpark. The Gund brothers owned the basketball team, and  the venue became Gund Arena. Of course the jokes were common over the name, but it was not the advanced stage of the disease that we are now plagued with.

Now, Jacobs Field is Progressive Field. If we had to have naming rights, at least it’s named after a Greater Cleveland company.

Gund Arena became Quicken Loans Arena, after Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert’s corporation. Remember the real estate bust of 2007, which partially begat the Great Recession?

Quicken Loans shares some DNA with poster children for that bust Countrywide and Home 1-2-3.

Maybe the worst of the bunch is FirstEnergy Stadium.

There were many reasons behind our region’s industrial decline of the 1970s and 1980s, but one of them was the cost of electricity, with both residential and industrial rates among the highest in the United States.

Remember the Blackout of 2003, with almost half the population of the United States and much of Canada without power?

The guilty party has its name on our stadium.

3. Citi Field, New York

Another culprit in the Crash of 2008 was Wall Street, and Citibank was one of the major players. Citigroup, as it is known now, signed up to pay $20 million a year for 20 years to put its name on the home of the New York Mets.

Have a Citi card? You’re not only paying for exorbitant executive salaries when you swallow the interest; you’re paying for the privilege of having your nose rubbed in it when you read the sports section.

4. PSINet Stadium, Baltimore

What was PSINet? It was an early ISP, which never made a profit. After the tech bust of the millennium, it went bankrupt in 2002.

That still did not stop it from paying $100 million to name the new home of the Baltimore Ravens, who used to be…. (never mind).

The only solace we got here was a more phonetic pronunciation of The House Corporate Welfare Built For Art Modell.

I called it “piss in it stadium.”

5. Adelphia Coliseum, Nashville

Remember Adelphia Cable? Founded by the Rigas brothers, Adelphia Communications spread its tentacles from its beginnings in Coudersport, Pennsylvania all the way to Los Angeles before the brothers looted the company, which had grown to become publicly traded.

The carcass of Adelphia was divided between Time Warner Cable and Comcast, giving much of America even more reason to be angry about naming the Tennessee Titans’ new digs after Adelphia, which had an extremely minor presence in the market it put its name on.

When Adelphia could no longer pay for naming rights in its 2002 bankruptcy, of course someone else bought the naming rights to the stadium.

Brothers John and Timothy Rigas were sentenced to 13 and 20 years in Federal prison, respectively.

6. Enron Field, Houston

It’s now called Minute Maid Park. When the previous name applied, it was called many other things.

Enron controlled oil and gas transmission, electricity and a bunch of other stuff before the smartest guys in the room drove the company off of the cliff, along with the lives of their 20,000 employees.

The spike in energy costs on the West Coast around 2000? Thanks, Enron.

Extra Point: Thirty Pieces of Silver

That’s what Judas Iscariot sold Jesus out for.

Thirty pieces of silver would not even be a down payment on a respectable used car these days.

I reside in a NIMBY area. Not In My Back Yard.

A library? Build it yesterday. A prison or a landfill? Not In My Back Yard!

Well, this insidious corporate graffiti has just befouled my back yard, and I’m pissed. And there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it. Until the next election for school board.

God, grant me the serenity.

In the 2000s, voters narrowly approved a bond issue to renovate and/or replace the high school outdoor athletic facilities here. First, of course, came the replacement of the dilapidated 3,000-seat football field with a new 5,000-seat stadium.

The video screen on the scoreboard? Never completed. The new baseball field? Sorta kinda. The new tennis courts? We’re still waiting. Budget shortfalls, you know?

So, here come corporate naming rights to my back yard. Summa Health Systems of Akron just dropped 495,000 pictures of George Washington on the school system, which will see 420,000 of those pictures after commission paid to a sports marketing firm to rename the project the “Summa Health Nordonia High School Athletic Complex.”

It’s a nine-year deal. Each year, the schools get just shy of $46,667, which might be a down payment on one of this area’s McMansions.

What does Summa get? Not only the naming rights to the outdoor athletic facilities, but the high school’s circa-1960 gym will be known as Summa Health Arena. The auditorium, built at the same time, will be the Summa Health Performing Arts Center.

Summa Health also wants a lighted billboard facing Ohio 8, which carries tens of thousands of cars daily, pending approval from the state and the City of Macedonia.

Also, Summa will get four press box announcements at every major or minor sporting event, all the way down to tennis, volleyball and lacrosse. All tickets sold to any events will also be tagged with Summa’s corporate graffiti.

High school sucked enough without this when I went. And, what business does a corporate “non-profit” entity have inserting its tentacles into the lives of 1,350 students on a daily basis? The morning announcements would scar me for life.

A few years ago, Beyoncé sang “If you want it then you’d better put a ring on it.”

Summa wanted it and put a ring on it.

And Nordonia got fucked.

Mad Men and Me

The iconic AMC series Mad Men ended its run Monday, May 17, 2015 after seven seasons portraying a decade. That decade was the 1960s, the decade when America found it was not infallible, and a decade that changed America forever. For me, it was part Memory Lane and part history lesson. Here are six of the reasons I was glued to this narrative of the advertising industry in the 1960s.

Mad Men is one of the best television shows in the history of television. The Wire (HBO) is the best, in my opinion, but these epic presentations of 1960s Madison Avenue and post-9/11 West Baltimore have something in common.

Neither show got huge ratings, but both created a huge “buzz.” Sometimes, it’s not the quantity of eyeballs on the screen a show garners, but the quality of those eyeballs. Each also depicts a time and place, one of which is both despicable and nostalgic, and the other, sadly with us.

And, both series will live on for many years.

1. The Cars

You have to love the cars of the era, rolling monuments to American excess, optimism and cynicism planted firmly on bias-belted Firestones. Don Draper began the first season of Mad Men rolling into his driveway in a 1959 Olds, followed that ride up with a 1960 Buick Invicta convertible, wrecked his 1961 Dodge Polara while cheating on his wife when drunk, and followed those cars with 1962 and 1965 Coupe DeVilles.

The production budget for Mad Men was higher than AMC’s usual outlay, and much of the expense may have come from filling streets with vintage cars. In film, antique cars are commonly shown as pristine, but Mad Men also showed us DeSotos and Plymouths in poor repair.  As time went on in the series, Don Draper’s first wife hit the road in the ubiquitous Ford Country Squire, and the wealthy Roger Sterling of Sterling Cooper drove the classic Lincoln Continental with suicide doors.

Part of the entertainment was playing the “what kind of car is that?” game, and Mad Men never showed a ride that was inconsistent with the year it was set in. Executive Producer Matthew Weiner and staff did their homework throughout the series’ run.

2. The Technology

Rotary dial phones. Switchboards at the ad agency. Tally boards on television during the 1960 election. Once again, painstaking detail down to the “vertical roll” on the black-and-white televisions, and the color going in and out on color sets, with very few network shows broadcast in color during Mad Men‘s early seasons.

Don Draper recorded his thoughts into a Dictaphone, and pitched Kodak to name its famous slide projector of the time the “Carousel.”

The finale, “Person to Person,” showed Draper making two person-to-person calls via operator, which were the most expensive long distance calls. Station-to-station calls were less expensive, where a person would just dial “1” plus the area code and number.

Even without inflation, a family with friends and family out of town, or even as far away from Cleveland as Akron, would pay as much in long-distance charges as an unlimited talk and text plan on a 2015 cell phone.

The home and office decor also fit the times, with televisions built into living room walls and trendy furniture for its period now hard to find in antique stores. And, over the years portrayed in Mad Men, we saw those things change as the series went on, along with the fashions. Again, painstakingly accurate.

Besides, when was the last time you saw a Hotpoint refrigerator?

3. The Music

The adventures of Mad Men‘s characters were illustrated with music of the times in the episodes and at the end of the episodes. Mad Men took us from Chubby Checker to the Beatles to the Doors to David Bowie.

Closing an episode set in 1969, David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” was used, and I thought “HA!   Nailed you! That song came out in ’73!” Nope. David Bowie recorded “Space Oddity” in 1969.

Don Draper, trying to grasp the youth market of the time, put the Beatles’ Revolver album on his turntable. Other, more obscure music from the era was used, even including a track from the Monkees. In the episode before the finale, Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee” was playing on Don Draper’s Cadillac radio when he was driving through Oklahoma right before his car broke down.

Once again, the homework was done and the music fit the mood, from getting high to getting laid. And yes, having immersed myself in music that came before my time when I was younger, it all fit perfectly.

4. The Culture

Mad Men portrayed the upper-middle class and the wealthy for the most part, and my own ability to relate is limited, being from the middle class in “flyover country.”

I know this much. People smoked back then. Non-smokers would provide ashtrays for their smoking guests in their homes. In the time depicted in Mad Men and for years thereafter, ashtrays folded out from the seat backs in movie theaters. The opulence of an American-made car was directly proportional to its number of ashtrays and lighters.

And people drank back then. Damn, did they drink. In the Mad Men era and crowd, hitting the office bar before noon was not unusual. In fact, at the time, the phrase “he can hold his liquor” was a compliment.

If someone completely unfamiliar with that era was a viewer of Mad Men, he or she would think “How did any of those people ever make it to age 40?”

Your colleague could equal you in title then, but if that colleague was female, she would not equal you in pay, and you’d still expect her to get you coffee. In 2015, the same work gets most women about 84 cents on the dollar compared to a man’s pay. In the early 1980s, that figure was 69 cents. In the era of Mad Men, it was even less.

Office comments common in that day would land you and your employer in court now on grounds of sexual harassment and racial hostility. It was not only legal to fire homosexuals;  it was expected.

And yes, both Don Draper and Roger Sterling had second marriages to their twentysomething secretaries. Well, some things never change.

Ever see a “trophy wife?” Go somewhere that’s largely populated by the upper middle class or above, and you will. If I had a dollar for every time I have ridden through the national park in my area, observed a couple on expensive bicycles and thought “Sir, is that your wife or your daughter?,” my Internet access would be paid for.

Anti-semitism, while not as prevalent in the era of Henry Ford, was still rampant then, and African-Americans were tolerated at best. And yes, they were called Negroes then.

Roger Sterling in blackface singing “My Old Kentucky Home”with the original lyrics referring to the “darkies” at a Kentucky Derby party in the 1960s could not happen today. Or, maybe it could.

5. The History

Mad Men did an excellent job of integrating the history of its time, from elections to assassinations and social upheaval into its storyline.

Beginning in 1960, with Nixon running against John F. Kennedy, a female neighbor of Don Draper’s in Ossining, New York was ostracized for both being divorced and supporting Kennedy. Management at the Sterling Cooper agency were strong supporters of Nixon, and the staff leaned slightly toward Nixon.

Their all-night party in the office on Election Night 1960 was one for the ages, with them gathered around a black and white TV for the results, the water cooler filled with creme de menthe, and coitus on couches in offices.

The assassinations of JFK, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were also woven into the storylines, along with urban unrest and the police actions at the 1968 Democratic convention. But, in his wisdom, Matthew Weiner never made these events storylines in and of themselves, choosing instead to have his characters go about their lives with more subdued reactions.

Wisdom comes from Weiner putting those events in the background instead of the foreground, and not letting the show become pedantic.

6. The Ads

Partial disclosure: I’ve designed print ads in my lifetime, and also written ad copy. Thus, I am aware of many iconic campaigns from Madison Avenue that came before my time, and Mad Men wrote many of them into the show.

One was the 1960s Volkswagen campaign from Doyle Dane Bernbach with the famous “Lemon” ad. It showed a Beetle with the word “Lemon” under it, using plenty of white space and went on to explain how an inspector had rejected the car for a blemished chrome strip.

That ad broke rules. All of them, in fact. Weiner wrote the buzz about that print ad into his ad execs and creative people’s dialogue, adding additional authenticity.

Packaging, in my mind, is part of advertising. Watch Mad Men, and you will see the packaging on something as mundane as a box of Milk Duds in the theater is true to its period. Again, the homework was done.

Taking some liberties by attributing real ad campaigns to the fictitious Sterling Cooper agency, Weiner again nails the era. In the early 1960s, when the agency had the Lucky Strike cigarette account, Draper (in Mad Men, but not in real life) downplayed the growing health concerns over tobacco with the “It’s toasted” tagline. That tagline for Lucky Strike actually dates from the 1940s. OK, take that liberty. It’s forgiven.

Also, some long-defunct or nearly defunct corporations play a role in the narrative. Burger Chef has long been gone, and has anyone been to a Howard Johnson’s lately? In my childhood, Howard Johnson’s called itself the “Host of the Highways” with its bright orange roofs. Yep, all there.

Dow Chemical works its way in, with an attempt to gain consumer goodwill while the Vietnam War was splitting the nation. General Motors is also present, with the Sterling Cooper team working on the “XP” project, a car code-named “XP-884” in GM circles. We now know that car as the infamous Chevy Vega.

We see the beginning of the end of the advertising jingle, the use of sex in advertising (as much as could be done in the 1960s) and the nascent stages of computer data in advertising.

For an aficionado of advertising and its history, Mad Men was heroin.

Extra Point: A Fond Farewell

For years, Mad Men was appointment viewing for me. I did not jump in at the beginning, but any time AMC played a repeat from the early seasons, I was on it. Then, I got Netflix, and it became a Must Binge Watch.

Unlike the ending of The Sopranos, which Weiner worked on under David Chase, this was not a Whiskey Tango Foxtrot ending, but one that still left enough ambiguity to let the viewer make up his or her own mind.

The timeline of Mad Men began before I was even thought of, and ended when I was in elementary school. While my parents grieved the assassination of JFK, they still had to get on with their own lives. As did the people of Mad Men, who still had stuff to sell.

Throughout the changes of the 1960s, people still had lives to live, bills to pay and dreams to dream. The timeline of Mad Men ends around Halloween of 1970, and the famous Coca-Cola “Hilltop” ad that closes the finale first aired in early 1971.

I remember that ad, and thought it was so cool when I was a kid.

Maybe I wanted to be Don Draper when I grew up.

Welcome to SixPointsCLE!

First, here’s the format:

Easy in, easy out: Six bullet points, short and sweet, to let you easily digest and possibly think.

Then, the Extra Point, a commentary I also hope will help you think.

Second, who am I? I’m white, straight, agnostic with Judeo-Christian roots,  a son of the middle class, but one who does not automatically hate anyone different than I. My politics can be best described as “Liberaltarian.” Deal with it.

Third, as you see the CLE here, I am proud to be a resident of Greater Cleveland. Thus, if you read this blog and you are not a sports fan, references to the Browns, Indians and Cavaliers may occasionally sneak into and/or dominate an issue of SixPointsCLE.

You will also see my takes on CLE and the rest of the United States here, as we cannot exist in a bubble.

This blog is intended to promote intelligent discourse, and let us please be civil in all of our interactions here.

And yes, you will read too damn much about the Cleveland Browns.