Station Break: Pirates and the Obama Dog
Tuesday, April 14, 2009; 1:00 PM
Washington Post staff writer Paul Farhi was online Tuesday, April 14, at 1 p.m. ET to talk about the two biggest stories in America this week, bar none: Pirates and the Obama's new dog. Is this an entertaining country or what? (What, you want to hear more about economic collapse and the latest bailouts?)
Paul Farhi: Greetings, all, and thanks for coming 'round. So here's my question about the pirate story: How much would this story deflate in the media if, instead of calling them "pirates," we referred to them as "bandits" or "hijackers" or "impoverished Somali sea muggers" or something else? Calling them "pirates" makes this story at least a thousand times better. It gives everyone vivid ideas about Jack Sparrow and Blackbeard's Ghost (likeable olde tyme Disney movie, starring Dean Jones, Suzanne Pleshette and Peter Ustinov). Also, why didn't the media care, much, until an American got "pirated"? Dozens of ships were hijacked (and there are still 230 hostages over there) in the months before the Maersk Alabama got jumped...
I'm also a bit skeptical about the details of the rescue operation (invariably described as "dramatic" in media accounts, all by people who weren't there). I'm not saying the Navy SEALs *didn't* do what is ascribed to them, just that I'm skeptical. How did they manage to shoot all three impoverished Somali sea muggers (ISSM) simultaneously? Were the ISSM so dumb as to leave themselves open all at the same time? Possibly, sure, but I have a very Jessica Lynch* feeling about this one. (* Pentagon-created heroine of Iraq invasion who really wasn't).
I'm further mystified by the other big story du jour, the Obama's new dog. Haven't presidents going back to at least FDR had loveable pets? (I would like a president to have an unloveable pet, just once). So why the big hoohaa about this pooch? Ingenious stage managing and media manipulation by the White House? A bored press corp? You make the call (and see our nifty poll about same).
All right, let's go to the phones....
Chester, Pa.: Hello -- So how long before we know the identity of Bo/Charlie's original owner in Washington who returned him to the breeder? Inquiring minds want to know (oops, wrong paper). Then we will know the rest of the story. (A nod to Mr. Harvey) Thanks.
Paul Farhi: Yes, there's something funny about that firstdogcharlie.com person. Conspiracy theorists, start your engines!
The Airless Cubicle: It's nice the Obamas have a dog. I like dogs. However, like everything else going on about the presidency, it's a symptom of the instantaneous and constant roar of the media, even as many traditional media outlets die.
Piracy is serious. Piracy is kidnapping and armed robbery and threatened murder. The media celebrated the small victory of our SEALS this week. But did they do backgrounds on why there is piracy(lawless Somalia, big reward/little risk, easy opportunity in the Indian Ocean)? I didn't see many. I didn't hear them on local radio.
Whatever happened to the three-minute background report? I suppose local news bureaus are too understaffed to do them. Thus, the fluff... Obama has a dog! and not... Piracy costs Americans millions each year in added costs to shipping. Here's how.
It's the details which affect our lives. I suppose I'll have to go back to listening to the VOA for them.
Paul Farhi: I actually think the piracy story isn't a big deal. Yes, it disrupts shipping and endangers the lives of the crews. But a serious problem? Compared to what? At most, it shed light on ANOTHER story: The chaotic state of Somalia, which could very likely be a real terrorist haven (so much so that the administration is drawing up contingency plans for a military strike).
Newark, Del.: On the heels of Harry Kalas's death yesterday before the Nats game, do you think there is a sports broadcaster who would engender the same kind of outpouring of emotion with their passing? I always hear from native DCers about Glenn Brenner, but that was 20(?)-ish years ago? Frank Herzog? George Michael? I exempt Sonny and Sam, since they were players. I would have maybe said Mr. Tony a few years ago, when PTI was at its peak and the radio show was still on, but he has generated so much ill will with his MNF gig.
Paul Farhi: Interesting thing about Harry Kalas: He's very much a local (i.e., Philly) thing. I'd heard of Harry Caray, but couldn't have told you who Kalas was. All these guys are kind of like that, aren't they? You grow up listening to one (or two) guys for years, and you think everyone knows how wonderful they are. But mostly no one has ever heard of them (Ernie Harwell? Jack Brickhouse?). Locally, I think George Michael is the closest to Venerated Local Sports Anchor that we have. Herzog was good, but he's been away from sports too long to have the same resonance as George.
Also, why didn't the media care, much, until an American got "pirated"? Dozens of ships were hijacked : In all fairness, the American media didn't care until an American got hijacked. Other nations had news about their own countrymen.
Paul Farhi: All news is "local," I guess.
Fairfax, Va.: Speaking of Bo the First Dog, do these pirates have parrots or anything? Shouldn't they? Can we somehow send them to pirate re-education camp and make them more colorful? It certainly couldn't hurt their PR.
Paul Farhi: These Somali guys do not sound "swashbuckling," that's for sure. Although I'm not sure what "swashbuckling" is exactly.
washingtonpost.com: Harry Kalas, Longtime Phillies Broadcaster, Dies at 73 (Post, Apirl 14)
American Pie: Nothing is more American Pie than a family and the family dog. Remember Millie's popularity?
Paul Farhi: Sure. And Socks. And LBJ's beagle. And Checkers (look it up, kids). Did the Reagans have a famous pet? The Carters? How about Ike?
do you think there is a sports broadcaster who would engender the same kind of outpouring of emotion with their passing? : RED BARBER!
Paul Farhi: Sure. Red was famous before his did his NPR thing with Bob Edwards, but he became far more famous as a result. He'd been retired for years until those bits...There were other recent beloved guys, too. Jim McKay comes immediately to mind.
McLean, Va.: Hey Paul -- Now that 94.7 has switched to "Boring Music for Boring People" (TM), what happens to the Underground Garage? Will it still be on Sunday nights?
Paul Farhi: I'd like to know the answer to that, too, as I'm a fan. No word from on high, however. Clearly not going to be part of the new format. Doesn't fit in at all...
washingtonpost.com: swashbuckler One entry found. Main Entry: swash·buck·ler Pronunciation: \-ÌbY-klYr\ Function: noun Etymology: 1swash + buckler Date: 1560 1 : a swaggering or daring soldier or adventurer 2 : a novel or drama dealing with a swashbuckler
Washington, D.C.: The SEALs are that good. Seventy-five feet is nothing to a sniper, although in this case the boat bobbing up-and-down and the darkness made conditions more difficult. Plus I would think that everyone firing together means that there's no chance the pirates could react if each sniper fired one-by-one.
Paul Farhi: Sure. The SEALs are an awesome bunch; one of the best-trained (if not the best) in the world. No knock on them. I just can't imagine all three pirates would leave themselves so open, all at the same time. I mean, it's possible, but anyone who has ever watched a hostage/sniper movie knows it's the First Rule of Kidnapping Standoffs.
Re: Puppy Coverage: I think the Obamas getting a dog is newsworthy. A bit. It should be covered as the fluff story that it is, everyone can "awwww" over the picture and then we can all move on. It should take space in the paper from other stories of similar news value.
People who point out all the other issues that they feel are more important should be banned from ever buying chewing gum again, in case they have to walk somewhere.
People who want more coverage should just bookmark Kittenwar and spend the afternoon voting on that Web site.
Paul Farhi: I agree. People who complain that there are "more serious" issues to cover are just trying to flatter themselves ("You see, I'm a very serious person and we all must stay focused on the issues that I demand you to care about"). My question is, why has this story blown up so large, beyond the usual slot this kind of story usually gets?
Arlington Gay: Amy Carter had a cat, Misty Malarky Ying Yang. (I admit I had to Google the name, but I remember her having a cat.)
Paul Farhi: Cats: Vaguely un-American (and I say this with sadness, as I am a former cat owner).
Dogs: Very American. They just are. We have to deal with it.
Arlington, Va.: re: First pets. Don't forget Fala.
BTW, glad to see you back this week. I was worried the Post had canceled you. Now if I could only remember what I wanted to say to you last Tuesday...
Paul Farhi: We'll be here all week, Arlington. Or at least for the next hour.
Re: sportscasters: When I asked the question, I meant in the D.C. area. (forgot to emphasize that part)
Certainly, every team with a long-time broadcaster would go through similar things. Imagine what L.A. is going to be like when Vin Scully passes away. I mean, he was with the team in Brooklyn!
Paul Farhi: Very true. But Scully is one of the very few "local" guys who is also a "national" guy. Aren't many of those. Yes, everyone starts local, but most stay that way; it's hard to be both simultaneously.
Arlington, Va.: The most important thing about the pirate story is: Spike TV has plans for a show about the Navy battling pirates. How manly.
washingtonpost.com: Spike TV Sees Smooth Sailing for 'Pirate Hunters: USN' (Post, April 14)
Paul Farhi: I bet that's going to be all build up and no pay off. To wit, "10:17 am. Indian Ocean. The USS Swashbuckler investigates report of suspicious activity in Sector 12. Finds fishing boat [shot of fishing boat bobbing in water; captain waves to trawler's first mate, who waves back]. Mission accomplished!"
Arlington Gay: You were formerly owned by a cat. As a currently owned human, I understand the distinction. (Dogs have owners, cats have staff.) But having cats doesn't make me un-American. Our condo doesn't allow dogs...
Parts of America would call me far worse for marrying my partner of 10 years last summer...
In answer to your question as to why this story has gotten so big, that's an easy one. It's Barack Obama's dog. Everything about the man is a big deal. After 8 years of W, I for one welcome it.
Paul Farhi: You're probably right (about cats, gay marriage, and Obama). I just kind of wish he'd shaken the whole presidential pet thing up a bit. Like maybe getting a python or something.
Leesburg, Va.: "My question is, why has this story blown up so large, beyond the usual slot this kind of story usually gets?"
Because the dog is super-cute, he was wearing a little lei! Plus, the president is wildly popular, the first lady is wildly popular, the little girls are adorable...plus there was --anticipation -- ... there's been a palpable 4-month buildup here.
I think I saw on a chat yesterday that someone, without even trying (Kurtz?) predicted the dog story would get the most traffic of any of them yesterday, and they were right by leaps and bounds.
It's a "big deal" because it's what the people want. Why do the people want it? Who knows, I'm sure there's a variety of reasons including but not limited to the fact that we hear about "more serious issues" all the time, we are living more serious issue every day, it gets tiresome and sometimes it's nice to read a story about a cute puppy in a lei.
Paul Farhi: Sure. And goshdarned if I didn't read all the way through our last two stories on Bo/Charlie/Hope n' Change.
Ignomi, N.Y.: Paul: hey, how about a brief (usually takes about 30 seconds)moment of silence in recognition of the passing of a cinematic legend that elevated many a young boy to new heights, Marilyn Chambers...
washingtonpost.com: Star of 'Green Door' Hard-Core Porn Movie (Post, April 14)
Paul Farhi: And only 56. She apparently lived a pretty hard life (yeah, I know, big shock)....
Alexandria, Va.: Paul,
First, I don't think Somali pirates watch too many kidnapping movies... some how I don't think Inside Man starring Clive Owen made it to West Africa...
Second, remember that the snipers were likely watching the pirates for hours if not days... this wasn't a random, spontaneous opportunity, it was a plan. Plus the pirates are in a lifeboat... there's not a lot of places to go. For the snipers it was just a matter of waiting for the right opportunity and then someone to say "Now!"
Last, I don't think this is a Jessica Lynch-esque thing. First, I doubt anyone in government wants to go fight Somali pirates on the grounds of the military is already very busy with two wars plus the fact that Somalia isn't exactly the easiest place to fight, as we found out the hard way. Also, the Jessica Lynch scenario was an attempt to boost popularism in a war many had questions about... what's the motivation to drum up sentiment? Make people feel bad about piracy? Boost people's desire to go to war against Somali Pirates? There just isn't a payoff...
Paul Farhi: Oh, that's easy: It promotes the image of the U.S. military as an efficient, can-do organization that can take care of a crisis. It's a nice little "victory" for Obama, too. It sends a warning, of sorts, to other pirates. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with any of those things, but there are infinite reasons for the Pentagon to hype this.
Sports broadcast questions: Local broadcaster whose passing we might mourn: Johnny Holliday perhaps? The big difference is that none of the others have been around vey long. Certainly, while they were broadcasting, the death of Jon Miller or George Michael would have been big news.
And, as for you sir..."He (Kalas) is very much a local (i.e., Philly) thing": Obviously, you did not grow up absorbing NFL films!
Paul Farhi: I've seen many an NFL Film but was not aware that that was Mr. K on the narration (John "Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field" Facenda, yes, but not Harry)...
WHDH Boston / pirates: Who stood less a chance: the Boston NBC affiliate versus the network when they came out with a breathless announcement that they were going to do a local news broadcast at 10 p.m. instead of running the new Leno show or the Somali pirates against the Navy SEALs? At least WHDH had the chance to say,"never mind..."
Paul Farhi: That was an interesting TV industry story, and again, call me cynical, but I don't think we got the whole picture on that one. The missing fact: Did money change hands? The station in Boston had NBC over a barrel (the network had no place to really go if it yanked the station's network affiliation), and NBC certainly knew its options were limited. So, did they pay the station off to keep it in the fold? I wouldn't be surprised. And I won't be surprised if we never learn (both sides have plenty of reasons to keep quiet about it).
Mt. Vernon, Va.: ""My question is, why has this story blown up so large, beyond the usual slot this kind of story usually gets?"
Same reason that, during the presidential election, we were getting stories about Sara Palin's wardrobe and Jeremiah Wright's sermons, instead of issues. It's not the readers driving these weird stories, it's the papers.
As for why they do this. My opinion is such stories are cheaper and easier to report. I can tell you all you need to know about the dog with a few phone calls. You want in-depth coverage of health care reform. That takes time. (Yet, I bet if you polled readers as to which they're more interested in, it's the latter.)
Paul Farhi: Readers SAY they're more interested in health care, but their behavior says otherwise (see "Most Viewed" list on our web site)...
re: Also, why didn't the media care, much, until an American gAlso, why didn't the media care, much, until an American got "pirated"? ot "pirated"? : Well, until it happens to an American, we (Americans) don't usually care much about the stuff that happens "out there."
Paul Farhi: Right. Daily Show once did a brilliant parody of this, with something called "The Body Count Equivalency Chart." That is, a ferry sinking in Bangladesh that kills hundreds had the same news value as a few dozen Europeans killed in a ski-resort avalanche, which had the same value as one American injured in foreign accident.
Sports broadcast questions redux: "Paul Farhi: I've seen many an NFL film but was not aware that that was Mr. K on the narration (John "Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field" Facenda, yes, but not Harry)." Dude! Facenda died 25 years ago. Kalas has been doing the voiceovers since the early 1980s.
Paul Farhi: Thanks. He sounds almost like Facenda. Almost.
Silver Spring, Md.: Paul, why is the MSM ignoring the important questions? Such as...
So Obama's dog is named after some guy named Diddley... why didn't they call the pup "Squat"? And is it just a coincidence that that dog is named after Obama's initials?
If we keep Gitmo open for captured Somali swashbucklers... will they become a pirate of the Caribbean? Would this prompt a new real-TV series on FOX called "The Real Pirates of the Caribbean"?
Paul Farhi: Let's take a meeting, Silver Spring. I want 50 percent of "The Real Pirates of the Caribbean."
Were the ISSM so dumb as to leave themselves open all at the same time?: I thought they were in a small raft? I could see it happening. Besides, these pirates don't really strike me as brilliant.
Paul Farhi: Yes, but a COVERED lifeboat. Just sayin'...
Definition of swashbuckling: Swashbuckler or swasher is a term that developed in the 16th century to describe rough, noisy and boastful swordsmen. It is based on a fighting style using a side-sword with a buckler in the off-hand, which was filled with much "swashing and making a noise on the buckler."
Paul Farhi: I would thank you, but you've cited Wikipedia, so now I'm not so sure.
Woodbridge, Va.: National and local media are giving us what we want. That means little news of the world unless the U.S. is involved and more fluff like newest health foods and wacky Internet videos like the German woman "interacting" with the polar bears.
Paul Farhi: Where's that polar bear video?...Actually, all of the content analysis studies I've seen over the last few years say otherwise--the traditional news media are really no worse (and in many respects are more "serious") than they were years ago. Thing is, there's a lot more "media" around now. Thus, lots of goofy content gets passed around and is mistaken for "news."
Washington, D.C.: Kalas also did the play-by-play for the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet.
Paul Farhi: Yes! I know an editor who is shocked and heartbroken by this news....
Re: Scary Face: I know I shouldn't say this, but that Phil Spector certainly looks scary. What happened to his face. He makes Michael Jackson look great.
washingtonpost.com: Phil Spector Mug Shot
Paul Farhi: Actually, you should say it. Not just because I agree, but I would bet the jury agreed, on some level. Looking at that guy day after day MIGHT have had a psychological effect--he's weird, he's creepy, so MAYBE he could have committed the crime he's accused of. Can't rule it out, entirely...
washingtonpost.com: Woman Mauled by a Polar Bear Berlin Zoo (YouTube)
Paul Farhi: And these poll results just in from our Situation Room:
34 percent want the Presidential dog coverage to stop.
37 percent can't get enough of it.
13 percent went for "cynical distraction." (Great band name, by the way).
15 percent went for cats.
My faith in democracy is once again restored!
Silver Spring, Md.: While I'm not surprised (they were apparently all about 17), these really were some pretty dumb pirates. They had to know that the only reason they hadn't already been shot is that they were in an enclosed life boat. For all three of them to be in clear view of an open door while threatening their hostage?
I don't think they Navy would try to fake a story that unbelievable.
Paul Farhi: Yeah, the whole thing IS plausible. AND dramatic. All I'm ultimately saying is, since there were no reporters there to see it first hand, we have to take the Navy's word for it.
Fairfax County, Va.: I just can't get enough of that dog. Why do you think that Snow White, The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind were the big hits of the late 1930s? Daily reality is tough enough. We have all the time and need in the world right now for an adorable, freshly groomed little dog, eager to please, hoping his new family will like him, and wearing of all things a multicolored lei. Only a heart of stone would turn on little Bo.
As for your poll, you present a false dichotomy. I have never owned a dog in my life and am a cat person. But I can't get enough of the Bo Obama story.
Paul Farhi: I'm a big fan of distraction and adorable-ness, too. But the point of my comment was to ask why the story got so big. Your reply is pretty good.
First Dog: I think the dog story is so big because it is the new pet for the little girls. If it was just for the prez and missus it wouldn't rate high. But the girls are so cute and their getting a puppy is big. It is also a happy event which is rare these days!
Paul Farhi: Absolutely. It's all so Norman Rockwell, isn't it? Cute little girls. Adorable pooch. The White House and the President. A surprise pet (well, not THAT much of a surprise).
Alexandria, Va.: Pirates...Don't forget that these "pirates" were just kids. Weren't they all under 20?
Paul Farhi: Reportedly, yes. Makes it all the sadder, no?
French targets of pirates: Heard on NPR yesterday that the French sailors who were attacked by Somali pirates were civilians who defied repeated warnings by the French government not to sail there, then expected the French to rescue them (although one Frenchman died in the process). Aren't some people just to stupid to live?
Paul Farhi: Oh, heck, I'm not about to start blaming victims. You can sail where you like, or at least where it's legal to sail. You take the consequences, of course, but let's not concede the game to the criminals.
Navy, Pirates, etc.: I know why my side (the right-wing-but-not-nutty side) is happy the Navy took out the pirates:
1) We want to believe that our military is as close to unbeatable as any, as long as they're allowed to do what they can do, and 2) We want to think that Obama will allow #1.
Unexpectedly, at least on this point, so far so good.
Paul Farhi: Excellent point! But frankly this seems pretty bi-partisan. I'm not hearing a lot of criticism of this operation from anyone. And everyone--libs and conservs alike--do seem proud of our military.
Dumfries, Va.: Enough with pirates and puppies. What did you think of Tony at the end of 24 last night?
Paul Farhi: Struck me as the Official Shark-Jumping Moment of Season Seven. Yes, there are many absurd plot contrivances on any season of "24," but there's always that moment when you realize that the writers have officially run out of ideas (typically with 7 or 8 episodes left). That was the Tony moment last night.
Arlington, Va.: The reason to hype the 3-kill-shots-to-the-head thing is easy: Dear World, lookee what we can do, now please adjust your behavior accordingly, thx much.
Paul Farhi: I won't dispute that. Reminds me of the email that went around right after 9-11. It showed a massive array of ordnance set out on a tarmac in front of two B-52s. Utterly menacing. The caption read: "The terrorists have won the coin flip and have elected to receive."
Captaincy: Have to admit, those captains are getting better press these days. First, there's Sullenberger landing the plane in the Hudson and now you have the ship's captain giving himself up to save his crew. Which makes me wonder, whatever happened to the jerk who was captain of the Exxon Valdez when it went aground and destroyed so much flora and fauna in Alaska?
Paul Farhi: Well, if the press reports are accurate, this guy Phillips was quite a hero. He deserves his Oprah guest shot, Super Bowl halftime appearance, insta-autobiography, etc. As for the Valdez guy, I believe he was convicted of something or other a few years ago...
Indianapolis, Ind.: Best guess: When other stations didn't join in, WHDH in Boston caved. Hard to have a parade if no one else wants to march.
Paul Farhi: But the station didn't really need anyone else to join in. The way I read it, NBC couldn't afford to lose its affiliate in Boston, one of the 10 largest markets in the U.S. The Boston station had all the leverage. And I wonder if other stations around the country won't try to pull the same stunt now...
The readers don't drive the news, the papers do...: That's silly. That's like saying that the reason shows like "American Idol" and "Dancing with the Stars" are so popular (and reality TV in general) is because the networks aren't giving us any other options -- or that the reason terrible sitcoms like "According to Jim" do well is because they don't viewers good sitcoms.
Well, they (the networks) try. They give us "Pushing Daisies" and "Arrestsed Development" and we don't watch them. So they get canceled and we get "Who wants to marry a ____________" instead.
In any media format, it's almost always the consumer's fault.
Paul Farhi: Yes. Time was, the networks could put on a test pattern and would draw 30 percent of the audience, but those days were a long, long time ago. There's too much competition now. TV is about as good a daily democracy/marketplace in action as there is...
Body equivalence chart: The National Lampoon Sunday newspaper parody (Dakron Republican-Democrat) back in the '70s did it best: the big, above-the-fold headline was about a local man gone missing; down on the bottom corner was the sidebar: Japan Destroyed. (Or words to that effect.)
Paul Farhi: Ah! Much, much better example. And exactly right: "Japan Destroyed" was the tiny sub-head under the "local" angle.
That was the Tony moment last night. : What happened? Did he die and come back to life? Time travel? What?
Paul Farhi: Spoiler alert (and maybe not since it's already been on TV, and under the rules of the Geneva TV Convention, it's not really a spoiler AFTER the fact): Tony singlehandedly sabotages the big plot to launch bioweapon-tipped missiles and then chases down a terrorists who escaped with said bioweapon--only to turn on the FBI and all the other good guys (he kills the FBI agent with the dyed hair). It's about the fourth reversal of just this season for Tony.
Lull in news: There isn't much to report currently, we'll get a CNN breaking news every time a boat gets hijacked now.
A few years ago we got alerts every time a child went missing.
Then there was the shark attacks of 2001.
Make a story out of whatever you can until the big story happens.
Paul Farhi: Yeah. These things kind of move in cycles, don't they?
Re: George Michael: Speaking of George Michael, have you heard if he has picked up a new gig yet?
Paul Farhi: Have not heard. I know he was trying to revive his Redskins panel show (with Riggo and Wilbon), but unclear if anything has come to fruition.
Washington, D.C.: Paul, I hope you don't ignore my question this week. I have a question about the sham/wow guy. Not about what he did, but about the ads themselves. I saw one last night for the slap/chop. Doesn't the ad company that created these send out messages to stations to stop running them when such a scandal comes out? Or is it that once the ads are sold, it is up to the station to run them when/how often they want? I thought the ad companies still retain control, as evidenced by sponsors pulling ads for things like the Osbournes "comedy" show. That was axed, right?
Paul Farhi: Yes, but sometimes (and MAYBE in this case, I dunno for sure) the scandal is the reason for keeping the ads on the air. Extra notoriety. And I'm not sure how much shame the Sham Wow and Slap Chop Corps. have in the first place, so maybe it's a moot point.
Mariyln Chambers memories: I'm really laid low by this news.
Being a tender 49, I was twelve and precocious when Deep Throat and BtGD -- and to a lesser extent the Devil in Miss Jones entered the mainstream consciousness, and the mainstream news -- and I was smitten. I didn't have many peers in 1972 and 1973 who followed "porn stars" -- no such term existed -- but I followed the news of Ms. Chambers's exploits closely. Her flirtation with the mainstream in Cronenberg's Rabid was hard to find in suburban theaters, and very difficult to find on the 1977 Google, but I kept up as best I could.
With the publicity surrounding her return to big-budget adult movies in Insatiable, I went down to a meet 'n' greet at a Washington D.C. porno house. It wasn't the Gayety, a venerable movie house that had fallen on (hee hee) hard times. But it was a large, legit theater that was one of the last to experiment with the 1970s trick of running adult movies as fare for moviegoers rather than strictly a dark room with no holds barred.
Ms. Chambers was radiant, but had no line of people looking for autographs. I timidly brought up Rabid and a rumor that she was writing music for porn flicks; I proudly discussed my "musical accomplishments" (a weathered twenty-year-old has a lot, you know), and she started babbling about recording a song that appeared in her movie, and how I had to go back in and listen to it during the next screening. We talked for about fifteen minutes; then something changed, a line formed, and she became a starlet.
My autographed "To Scott, all my love and hot kisses, Marilyn" 8x10 was proudly displayed for years in every office in which I worked; she was the only adult performer who could get the understanding "oh, yeah -- the Ivory Snow girl!" response.
Paul Farhi: That's kind of poignant. Vaguely pervy, but still poignant. Thanks. I think...
Paul Farhi: Folks, I'm heading for the hills, or back to my desk (whichever comes first), but thanks for another eclectic discussion. Tell you what: Let's do it again next week. Same time and channel. Hope the rest of your week is filled with adorable little pets and no sniper fire! As always, regards to all....Paul.
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