Archive for the ‘Hollywood’ Category

The Shaq Brand

Tonight on HBO’s Real Sports, they focus on an athlete who has successfully created a major brand for himself in today’s culture. Athletes branding themselves was the topic of a book I wrote last year. One of the biggest sports idols to create a huge market for himself in popular culture is basketball player Shaquille O’Neal. He is on television offering basketball analysis on TNT and TBS. He has commercials for The General Insurance Company, Carnival Cruise Line and Icy Hot pain relief among others.

The man has a brand and he calls it making you happy and smile.

The big fella is following in the footsteps of another big-time  sports figure: Steelers Quarterback Great Terry Bradshaw. Bradshaw has a boat load of commercials, records, movies, and a regular perch analyzing football on Fox.

Bradshaw has the “Southerner good-old boy act” and he seeks to bring a smile and laugh to people. His brand is detailed in my book: Terry Bradshaw: From Super Bowl Champion to Television Personality

 

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Phantom Thread’s Hidden Gay

David Ehrenstein’s take on the new movie Phantom Threads focuses on the near certainty that the character Day-Lewis plays was a gay man. However, the movie presents him as straight. The “confirmed bachelor” as the character Reynolds Woodcock describes himself was coded language for gay man during the era. Several of the stylists I describe in my book Hollywood Bohemians such as Warner Brothers’ stylist Orry-Kelly, were also gay men who did not view women as sex objects but still saw them as muses that inspired them to make their great creations.

My favorite gay designer that I discuss in the book is excited about dressing a woman in a full-length gown while she runs around in the jungle.

Here’s Ehrenstein’s review of the movie

http://gaycitynews.nyc/heterosexualitys-phantom-stalking/

Steelers’ Fans and Terry Bradshaw

Podcast about my Terry Bradshaw: From Super Bowl Champion to Television Personality Book: Part of the Steel City Underground Fan Group:

The discussion ranged from his playing days with the Pittsburgh Steelers to acting in Burt Reynolds movies, to his efforts today as a studio analyst with Fox and also in the television shows, Better Late Than Never and his latest movie, Father Figures.

http://www.steelcityunderground.com/podcast/2017/12/different-perspective-terry-bradshaw-author-historian-brett-abrams/

Terry Bradshaw: New Books Network Podcast

I discussed my book Terry Bradshaw: From Super Bowl Champion to Television Personality with Bob D’Angleo, a sports reporter, on the New Book Network a few days ago. The discussion ranged from his playing days with the Pittsburgh Steelers to acting in Burt Reynolds movies, to his efforts today as a studio analyst with Fox and also in the television shows, Better Late Than Never and his latest movie, Father Figures.

Here is the link:

http://newbooksnetwork.com/brett-l-abrams-terry-bradshaw-from-super-bowl-champion-to-television-personality-rowman-and-littlefield-2017/

 

Novak Djokovic’s Special On and Off The Court

Novak Djokovic has clearly shown himself to be one of the best men’s tennis players in history. Yesterday’s ninth Grand Slam title moved him into fifth place among title winners in the Open Era and

I find Djokovic attractive physically and as a person. He has demonstrated a great sense of humor and I enjoy that he respects tradition and people and likes to enjoy himself as this video at the Wimbledon party demonstrates:

http://www.theguardian.com/sport/video/2015/jul/13/serena-williams-novak-djokovic-dance-wimbledon-video

They have danced before: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnen1RzgzFc&feature=player_detailpage

Is So You Think you Can Dance too far off in Novak’s future?

Five-Ring Circus

The cycle of national group bids to host the Olympic Games usually has not generated the type of openly negative discussion that occurred this year in the United States. From newspaper articles to blogs, to “Olbermann” on ESPN, Boston’s winning bid to represent the U.S. as a potential Summer Olympic site generated a firestorm of criticism and even some incredulity.

Sports historians, social scientists and other academics have written extensively regarding the cost of constructing stadiums Early books, such as Dean V. Baim’s The Sports Stadium As a Municipal Investment, used economic analysis to demonstrate that the stadiums cost significantly more than their projected cost. Few stadiums built from the 1960s through the 1980s ever earned a net positive financial gain.

One prime example was the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, built for the 1976 Summer Games and used by the Montreal Expos baseball team. According to Robert C. Trumpbour’s New Cathedrals, the stadium left the city with a $ 1 million debt. Paying the debt through the mid-2000s, according to Garry Whannel in Culture, Politics and Sport marred the memory of the games in the minds of citizens. The memory and current circumstances regarding the stadium have not improved as the stadium has basically been empty since 2005,

The books on stadiums have focused on stadium proponents main argument: that stadiums generate economic growth. Andrew Zimbalist, an economist at Smith College has written extensively about the falseness of this purported reason for supporting public financing of stadiums. He and Roger G. Noll’s book Sports, Jobs and Taxes concluded that sports teams and stadiums were not a source of local economic growth and employment and that the public financing provided to the team far outweighed the new jobs and taxes that the team and stadium provided the city or state. The message about the economic viability of stadiums started to reach more of the public.

In some cities, opponents of publicly financed stadiums made pitched but unsuccessful efforts to stop these expenditures, In 2004, Kevin J. Delaney and Rick Eckstein captured these battles in their book, Public Dollars, Private Stadiums. Intriguingly, stadium proponents downplayed the economic gain argument, and adopted two others to win the financing in cities ranging from Pittsburgh and Cincinnati to Denver, Phoenix and San Diego.

The Olympic Games offered two key assets to the hosting city and nation. The first, particularly important during the Cold War, centered on national pride. The second, promoted the economic gains that the Games reportedly brought. Proponents asserted that economy of the host country attained growth spurred on from new construction that occurred before the start of the Games. The gains continued during the games from event and visitor spending during the event.

Montreal showed that the economic gains often still leave a debt. Ferran Brunet’s study, “An economic analysis of the Barcelona’92 Olympic Games: resources, financing and impacts,” offered a somewhat more positive example. The author observed the typical underestimation of the cost to the Olympics, “In the development of the Olympic project the forecasts went from 237,000 million pesetas in April 1985, to an estimated 768,368 million in March 1991, to the final figure of 1,119,510 million pesetas in July of 1993.” The city and national governments and private partners invested this money and actually generated $ 2.2 million in profit. The Games provided a rise in employment and a stronger sense of confidence and world presence for the city and nation. However, when I visited a decade later, much of the Olympic area in the city appeared empty and devoid of people and games.

Do cities in the United States need the Games for similar reasons? Atlanta won the 1996 Summer games and sought to use them to promote tourism and attract businesses to the region. Again, pre-Olympic projections expected the creation of 77,026 jobs and $5.14 billion into the state economy. Despite Barcelona’s success, it’s jobs total capped out at less than 67,000. According to Steven P. French and Mike E. Disher in “Atlanta and the Olympics,” Atlanta spent over $200 million each for an indoor stadium and Olympic stadium. Much of the money came from private sources and very little public funds.

At the close of the Games, the estimate of economic benefits from the Games fell over a billion dollars below initial projections. What organizers either did not consider or perhaps include was the Olympics would not bring new spending. The games shifted spending away from other entertainment activities and other revenue-generating activities could not occur in Atlanta because of the presence of the Olympics. Additionally, visitor spending on food and lodging totaled less that expected.

In their book Olympic Dreams: The Impact of Mega-Events on Local Politics, authors Matthew J. Burbank, Gregory D. Andranovich and Charles H. Heying analyzed how three US cities fared in their attempt to use the Olympics as an approach to economic growth. They argued that the Atlanta region benefited from the tourist, employment and construction windfall. City officials replaced aging infrastructure, although residents paid double the cost for water and some other utilities since the changes. Their chapter focused on urban development aspects that did and didn’t happen with the Olympics. That will be the focus on the promises and deliveries for US cities with hosting the Olympics.

Faith in Politics

No this is not a post on the role of religion in US politics. My faith has diminished over the years as candidates who represent a liberal consensus dominate the Democrats and the Republicans are beyond the pale when it comes to paying a fair percentage of ones incomes to help the greater society. They watch as roads buckle, bridges crumble and seem to rejoice over money exploding in bombs all around the world.

The Democrats consensus centers on accepting globalization’s cost in terms of jobs, wages and people’s psyches. They are linked to the financial interests and seem to believe that that industry should be a big driver of the economy. They use the term middle class and help the poor, but seem incapable of effectively articulating the many significant reasons why these groups of people need a fair income, let alone devise a strong program that would help accomplish the goal of putting more money in these peoples’ pockets.

Much to my surprise yesterday, the Washington Post ran an article on a possible campaign by former Senator Jim Webb. When I read this paragraph in a recent speech that he gave, I felt a glimmer of real hope.

“It’s rare when the economy crashes at the same time we are at war,” he said. “The centrifugal forces of social cohesion are spinning so out of control that the people at the very top exist in a distant outer orbit, completely separated in their homes, schools and associations from those of us who are even in the middle.”

What I’d ask of Webb is to lay out the consequences of having a situation that he describes where the wealthy are in another orbit. I’d argue among the results are domination of the political players which has led to a stagnant political environment, ability to frame arguments such as corporations should exist to benefit their share holders, which translates to the wealthy few accumulate great gains while monies that used to be allocated to research and development, the creation of new products and jobs goes by the wayside. All that made worse by trade policies that benefit the wealthy and the corporations and hurt the workers as they cut jobs and wages.

Another article makes some of the realities of the economic recovery clear:

Part of this mystery isn’t one at all: the economy simply isn’t as healthy as the headline numbers suggest. Unemployment has fallen, in part, because so many people have given up looking for work rather than finding it, and there are still millions of part-timers who want full-time jobs.

But then there are deeper factors at work. The economy has gotten bigger, but much of that growth hasn’t reached the middle class. Indeed, the top 1 percent grabbed 95 percent of all the gains during the recovery’s first three years. And that’s not even the most depressing part. Even adjusted for household size, real median incomes haven’t increased at all since 1999. That’s right: the middle class hasn’t gotten a raise in 15 years.

But one of the biggest, and least appreciated reasons Democrats might be struggling, is that the middle class is poorer, too. Median net worth is actually lower, adjusted for inflation, than it was in 1989. Even worse, it’s kept falling during the recovery.

Yes, even after the economy started to grow again, and the stock market started to boom, and housing prices began to bounce back, the median net worth of the average American household continued to decline.

I’m interested in seeing what is to come.

Cats and Dogs: What States Prefer

A really fun blog that appeared in the Washington Post about ownership of cats and dogs in the United States and in the World. Take a good look at the US map: the divide is almost neatly north and south (cat versus dog). What’s more the Union States from the Civil War appear to be the cat lovers, while the old Confederacy prefers dogs.

What of those of us who like both?

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/07/28/where-cats-are-more-popular-than-dogs-in-the-u-s-and-all-over-the-world/

Dog states, cat states

SOURCE: American Veterinary Medical Association

 

Where cats are more popular than dogs in the U.S.—and all over the world

 

We all know there are only two types of people in the world: cat people and dog people. But data from market research firm Euromonitor suggest that these differences extend beyond individual preferences and to the realm of geopolitics: it turns out there are cat countries and dog countries, too.

Here in the U.S., slightly more households own dogs than own cats. But Euromonitor’s numbers show that in terms of raw population, cats outnumber dogs to the tune of 2 million (the number is closer to 4 million, by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s estimate). Why? One simple explanation is that cats are more compact. You can fit more cats in a house than you can, say, golden retrievers. (You can also geolocate a lot of them, which is fun, but entirely besides the point.)

At the state level in the U.S., cats outnumber dogs in the Northeast and Upper Midwest. Dogs are the favorite in the South and Southwest. The most dog-friendly state is Arkansas, where dogs outnumber cats 1.35-to-1. At the other end of the spectrum stands Massachusetts with 1.87 cats for every dog.

“A lot of that simply has to do with population density,” Jared Koerten, a pet industry analyst at Euromonitor, said in an interview. “Many cities just aren’t that dog-friendly.”

Still, overall, most states have a pretty balanced cat-dog ratio.

Around the world the story is quite different. Euromonitor gave us estimates of the pet dog and cat populations in 54 countries, and some show a stark dog/cat divide. In India, for instance, pet dogs outnumber cats 10-to-1. Dogs enjoy a 2.5-to-1 advantage in China. On the other hand, cats outnumber dogs 3-to-1 in Switzerland, Austria and Turkey.

 

Overall, cats are the favored pet in most of Western Europe, with the exception of Spain, Portugal and Ireland. South America is strictly dog country, as is much of Asia.

“Some regions, like the Middle East and part of Africa, have an especially long-standing appreciation of cats,” Koerten said. “In Latin America it’s the complete opposite. Dogs are part of family life there.”

World pet populations also appear to follow a few interesting—if inexplicable—trends. For one, highly developed countries, for reasons yet unclear, tend to have more balanced cat and dog populations. “Looking across all countries, there’s a correlation between developed economies and balanced pet preferences,” Koerten said. Brazil, as is turns out, has a strange affinity for small dogs—it has more small dogs per capita than any other country. And there’s legitimate reason to believe young Americans might be having dogs instead of babies.

Top 10 dog-loving states

Rank State Cats Dogs Ratio, dogs to cats
1 Arkansas 810,000 1,097,000 1.35
2 New Mexico 533,000 703,000 1.32
3 Texas 5,565,000 7,163,000 1.29
4 Oklahoma 1,041,000 1,327,000 1.27
5 Louisiana 877,000 1,115,000 1.27
6 Mississippi 668,000 846,000 1.27
7 Arizona 1,438,000 1,798,000 1.25
8 Tennessee 1,749,000 2,157,000 1.23
9 Missouri 1,653,000 1,978,000 1.20
10 Georgia 2,162,000 2,479,000 1.15

Top 10 cat-loving states

Rank State Cats Dogs Ratio, cats to dogs
1 Massachusetts 1,593,000 850,000 1.87
2 Maryland 1,677,000 915,000 1.83
3 Maine 498,000 300,000 1.66
4 Vermont 234,000 142,000 1.65
5 Connecticut 796,000 507,000 1.57
6 District of Columbia 63,000 42,000 1.50
7 New Hampshire 309,000 212,000 1.46
8 Pennsylvania 3,544,000 2,485,000 1.43
9 New York 4,261,000 3,054,000 1.40
10 Ohio 3,786,000 2,730,000 1.39

Idaho and Nature

American History Museum held a screening for the DC Environmental Film Festival which is always a good place to see the latest in documentaries. I really enjoyed Phantom Wolves of Sun Valley because it gave equal attention to the complex beliefs and attitudes of all sides on the question of having wolves in the state of Idaho. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCSFwE2dkdk You watch and wish all the people could put aside their attitudes and reach a consensus. The claim of the movie is that the wolf debate is really a debate about different approaches to life by two or three different groups of people and they don’t really like or respect one another.

First Openly Gay Athlete to Play Coming Soon??

The Brooklyn Nets might make history this season. They are looking for a big center for their roster and have two choices in mind.

The ESPN article below makes mention of gay history five paragraphs into the piece:

http://espn.go.com/newyork/nba/story/_/id/10505461/brooklyn-nets-await-glen-davis-decision-trying-add-jason-collins