Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Being a Fan can be a Bummer

David Steinberg and Brian Williams
Being Brian Williams before Brian Williams is no achievement at all.

I really hope there is a reference out there that I missed, since this is such a cosmic bummer. It's like finding out Mickey Mantle corked his bat.  In this case, Sammy Sosa is a better comparison.

Comedian and Director David Steinberg has been falsely claiming, since at least 2002, to have been on the infamous Nixon's Enemies List.  That is the slang term for two similar lists, three if you count the list of McGovern staff and contributors:

David Steinberg even made the claim again in his 2013 documentary Quality Balls, and somehow he got 'reporter' Marc Ambinder to add that he was the only comedian on the list.  Bill Cosby and Dick Gregory might disagree, they are comedians who are actually on that list (the second version).

He is not on it.  He was never on it.  He is not on any version of it and never has been.

Steinberg's false claim is not even original, he is following in the hallowed footsteps of L. Ron Hubbard and the Church of Scientology.  It seems that humorous sermons are not their only point of coincidence.

Steinberg claims it as a badge of honor, his greatest achievement.  With actual achievements in directing episodes of Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Golden Girls, why bother making up something like being on the Nixon list?  What is it with that damn Nixon's Enemies List that turns the cream of Hollywood into sniveling, slimy fabricators, even when they are off stage?

This list, both the original and the expanded versions, have been published, and published, and published some more.  Daniel Schorr read the list on the air on CBS news, and discovered his own name was on it (#17).  That was in 1973, and the New York Times published both of the lists shortly thereafter.  They are in the Congressional Record too.  This was decades before Steinberg figuratively erased someone else and penciled in his own name.

In the 2002 interview, with the First Amendment Center, no less, he claimed that his (unnamed) cousin the lawyer found out for him that he was on the list.  He also claimed to be number twenty on the list.  Actually, that would be Mary McGrory.  If that was Steinberg's birth name, I take all of this back.

Via Wikimedia

John Norris, a biographer of McGrory, has weighed in on the topic.
To be fair, there is more than one list known as "Nixon's Enemies List."  The other one is longer, organized into categories.  The Wikipedia compilation is not the only version, there are several others like this one (second list on the page).  The Watertown Daily Times, and others, printed the copy UPI transmitted (PDF), on June 28, 1973 (PNG copy below too).  Unless Steinberg performed as Representative John Conyers, he is not #20 over there either.  He does not appear anywhere on that list.  Maybe David Steinberg just doesn't know many people who read much?

Even in 2002, if you were incapable of web searching, you could look it up for yourself in a library or just ask a librarian.  Maybe David's cousin the lawyer just made it up to make him feel good?  Possibly, but ...

In 2002 he claimed that Tony Ulasewicz was on TV during the Watergate hearings, testifying about "dirty tricks," and two FBI agents who had followed him around on tour were sitting behind Ulasewicz.

(Ulasewicz is the first portion of the clip)

In Steinberg's later versions of the tale, Ulasewicz was replaced with Donald Segretti.  I haven't found any video archives of his appearance before the Watergate committee.  He may have appeared on television and it would be nice to see if the people "sitting behind him" (in other versions, they are "standing behind him") are the same ones as in the Ulasewicz clip.  At this point, one cannot be sure that the people behind Ulasewicz are FBI either.  Not sure if that was the only switcheroo, but it would not surprise me if there were more versions.

One would think that over a decade later, when Steinberg was preparing his documentary, that someone would have fact-checked this.  Beyond that, it would have been nice if anybody who interviewed him had bothered to look and see if this claim was true.

Of course, I can forgive Gilbert Gottfried for not calling Steinberg on this one.  Gilbert is just a very, very funny guy.  Vanity Fair is a whole different story.

Now, a blast from the past from the late, great, Dick West, writer of "The Lighter Side" column:


David, why couldn't you be a good honest boy, like David Brenner or Jerry Seinfeld?

PS, the Steinberg story of Nixon's henchmen heckling his shows keeps changing too.  A simple Privacy Act Request to the FBI (not Dan Rather), by Steinberg could get him all of the reports of all of the agents who attended his shows on official business.  If any of that happened at all.

If that is too much trouble, Mr. Steinberg can just sign a form authorizing me, or anybody else to do it, since he the subject of those reports and is still a living person.

h/t to the delightful Jesse Walker for the Scientology link

Below, the other pages of the 'Nixon' list and cover memo, via Wikimedia.  Followed by the bigger list, via Fulton History.




The longer, more developed list:

PDF version at Fulton History

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Friday, June 26, 2015

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Will the Real Marion Delgado Please Stand Up?

"Marion Delgado" was a name the quaint folk in the Weathermen (Weatherwomen, Weatherpeople, Weather Underground) used to invoke every now and again.  For example, terrorist Jeff Jones invoked the name to kick off the Days of Rage riots in Chicago, 1969:
"Bringing the War Home" 2004
Here is another version:
"The War Within" 2005
Here too:
"The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage" By Todd Gitlin
They put Delgado in the Students for a Democratic Society newspaper, New Left Notes vol. 4, Number 29 August 29, 1969:

Without attribution or even a hint of the story's origins.

The caption reads: With a defiant smile, 5-year-old Marion Delgado shows how he placed a 25-pound concrete slab on the tracks and wrecked a passenger train.

The International Socialist, No. 14 December 1969, covered it like this on page four:
i.s. #14, December 1969
Possibly I am not the only person who had doubts of the authenticity of this Weather Saint, or maybe I am one of the few who paid attention, and had the time to waste in running it down.  So, here be the origin of Marion Delgado, 'Revolutionary:'
LIFE Jun 2, 1947, p, 40


Express is upset and five people are injured by a childish prank

     Five-year-old Marion Delgado lives close to the Western Pacific’s railroad tracks in Decoto, Calif. On May 20 Marion was trying to smash a concrete slab.  But it would not break.  The slab weighed 25 pounds.  Marion lugged it over to the tracks and bounced it on the rails, but it still would not break.  Then Marion had an idea. 
     At 11:10 a.m. the Feather River Express boomed into Decoto at 50 mph.  There was a crash.  The engine jumped the rails, tore up 300 feet of track, hit a switch and turned over.  The engineer and four other people were injured. 
     “Why did you do it, boy?”  said the police to Marion.  Marion shrugged, “I couldn't break that big rock by myself,” he said, “so I decided to let the train do it.”  Police, unable to punish 5-year-old Marion, could only hope that parents of equally ingenious children would keep them under control.
I have no idea what happened to Marion in later years.  He is about five years older than terrorist Jeff Jones, as Jones was born the same year as this prank derailment.

Update 4/12/2015:

Billy Ayers in Fugitive Days, his novel cloaked as a memoir, could not be outdone on this one.  Young Marion was transported in space and time to Italy and the late 1960s in a "hot off the AP wire" story.  Also, he erased the injured engineer and passengers from the scene (p.149):

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Billy Ayers Continues His Tour Of Lies In 2013

Haven't seen anybody else writing about this, so if it is not "news" to you, my apologies for not uncovering prior work earlier.

Billy Ayers was at it again at the Miami Book Fair, November 24, 2013, talking about his experience trying to speak at the University of Wyoming in 2010.  He stated repeatedly that "the tea party" tried to stop him from speaking and that they threatened to blow up the building where he would appear.  Perhaps he was going for irony there.  There was plenty of true wrong to go around with the administration of UW, like claiming there were threats of violence in connection to Ayers' scheduled appearance, but not bothering to contact the local police about them.

Of course, Professor Ayers never settles for the truth when he can make up a lie to go with it.  For example, he speaks of a woman named "Meg" who, according to Ayers, didn't know anything about him.  BTW, I will stick with Meg for the woman, since that is the only name Meghan Michelena, aka Meghan Lanker, aka Meghan Lanker-Simons has used consistently since she was charged with threatening her ex-boss with a gun in 2005.

Here she is in her own words in April, 2010:
Bringing Ayers 
Last September, Lanker heard from a graduate student friend that UW's Social Justice Research Center, a 2-year-old anonymously endowed institution, was planning to bring Ayers to campus in the spring to discuss education theory. 
Having read Ayers' memoirs in high school, Lanker was excited at the news.
"I'm honestly interested what the man has to say about education," she said. "He's the pre-eminent expert in the field, well respected, and it's an issue that I'm very interested in. Because I think that educational reform is a key piece of keeping people out of the criminal justice system." 
But many others weren't as thrilled by the news. When media reports came out about Ayers' visit, the SJRC and university administrators were bombarded with hundreds of phone calls and e-mails expressing outrage that UW would invite someone with Ayers' past to speak. Some of the calls threatened violence or cutting off funding to the university. 
On March 31, SJRC director Francisco Rios withdrew the invitation for Ayers to speak, citing safety concerns. 
When Lanker heard the news, she was -- in her words -- "pissed." 
She contacted Ayers, who readily agreed to come to UW later in the month and even offered to cover his travel expenses himself. 
For his speaking fee, Lanker hit the phones. She raised nearly $2,000 in 48 hours, all from individual Wyoming residents. 
"The reason that I decided to do something about it was because I didn't know if anybody else was, and this is something that I felt passionate about," she said. "I just felt like it was completely egregious the way that (UW administrators) were handling it." 
"I almost felt," she said, "like they were daring someone to do something about it." 
But when she told UW Provost Myron Allen of her plans, she soon received a phone call from Susan Weidel, the school's attorney, notifying her Ayers was banned from speaking on campus. UW still hasn't given a reason for its decision. 
She and Ayers sued a couple of days later.
Also, there is no mention of "tea party," "teaparty," "tea" or "party" in the article.  Other articles of the time are missing any tea party references too, including Professor Ayers own article in one of original Yippie Paul Krassner's favorite haunts, The Rag Blog.

I'm not sure if the tea party was mentioned before November 2013, and frankly I won't waste time looking for it.  Here is Ayers in his own words about the issue:
but you can if you like at this link)

If Meg, aka Meghan Michelena, aka Meghan Lanker, aka Meghan Lanker-Simons is not familiar to you, she made news earlier in 2013 by threatening herself with rape and plead no contest over one month prior to Ayers appearance at the book festival.

So, it seems the only people involved in this event who got their names in the papers, who have a history of terrorizing others with firearms and/or explosives are Billy and Meg.

With her own proven, convicted history of fabricating threats, it seems odd that a man of letters like Professor Ayers would continue pretending those threats came from a group that has no history of such actions.  Group used quite loosely here, since unlike the Weather Underground, one is in the tea party by their own assertions rather than approval by a Weather Bureau.

Then again, Ayers has his own proven history of fabrications.  Birds of a feather.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Puppy Would Have Worked In Reality

SPOILER ALERT: I do not believe in spoiler alerts.

"The Interview" is not exactly "Stripes" without Bill Murray, nor is it quite "Spies like Us" with Chevy Chase, however it is certainly in that set.  Either way it is a cute movie and worth the $5.99 online fee.  The short version: Two bumbling goofs take down a regime.

Don't let the strange descriptions floating around out there scare you.  Some radio show called the scene of Kim Jong-un's demise horrific, or gruesome, or some such.  It is more like the scene where all the Nazis died in "Raiders of the Lost Ark."  Kim's face flaps, melts and his body burns in slow motion.
"The Interview" certainly is not borrowed from the true story of any celebrity visiting a brutal dictator, like a Jack Nicholson/Chevy Chase/Oliver Stone/Harry Belafonte/Kevin Costner/Steven Spielberg visit to Fidel Castro, with Kim as a proxy.  Perhaps it is one of those Hollywood twists where it would be nice if what happened in the movie would work in reality.

In reality, the dictators schmooze their celebrity visitors ("honeydicking" in "The Interview"), it works, and the celebrities become animatronic marketing tools for the Hitlers, Stalins, and Maos of the 21st century.

In "The Interview," Kim (Randall Park) gives Dave Skylark (James Franco) a puppy (played by Seth Rogen's dog Zelda) right before they are to go on live television around the world.  It does not work and Skylark's line of questioning leads Kim to cry and poop his pants on international TV.

Apparently the puppy works in reality.
Zelda Miller Rogen
Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Thursday, December 18, 2014


This time to American theater owners (caution, auto start)

As previously blogged, back in the 1920s and '30s, theater owners had guts.  Chicago's independent movie houses, 150 strong, continued to show movies without knuckling under to the Kim Jong-un of their day, Thomas E. Maloy. Maloy was the boss of the Chicago projectionist union, which had rule that all theaters would hire only their union members and two of them were required in the projection booth.  That requirement was enforced with dynamite, i.e., if a theater did not follow Maloy's union rules, their theater blew up.

For some odd reason, most owners of the theaters and projectors did not see the need for two projectionists, nor did they find enough added value in the union card carrying projectionists to hire them.  At least 13 of their theaters were blown up in 1931 alone, ordered by a disgruntled union boss.

Rather than closing, the theater owners demanded that the police actually protect the property that the citizens were paying them to protect.  And in large part the police did just that.

Fast forward a few decades to the present and we have either a group of disgruntled employees of Japanese owned Sony, a pissy little nation boss, or a combination of both, who threatened to blow up movie theaters in the USA if they showed the film The Interview.  Movie theater chain after movie theater chain cancelled scheduled showings of the movie, without so much as a match lit in the vicinity of their movie houses.

In response to all of this, especially the chicken shit theater owners, Sony decided not to release the movie at all.

It seems like a few things have changed over the decades. The terrorizing thugs don't even need to bother buying dynamite anymore.

On a lighter note, here is the opening of my work in progress documentary for the book Time Bomber:

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Chicago Movie Theaters Bombed

Sony Pictures is under fire from a group calling itself "Guardians of Peace" or for the Twitter crowd, #GOP. The GoP is now threatening to physically attack movie theaters that show a particular film, The Interview. An interesting twist, that seems more and more unlikely as time passes, is the rumor that North Korea is behind the release of proprietary Sony data, as well as the threats to theaters.

Another theory is disgruntled employees, which sounds much more plausible and it has plenty of historic precedent. In the movie business, it has a very violent precedent that goes back to at least the 1920s. The book "The Perils of Movie Going: 1896-1950" highlights plenty of incidents.  Full disclosure: I have not read the book, it came up in my research and the index is quite thorough.

One string if incidents was the Movie Union War in late 1920s and early 1930s Chicago, waged by Theater Operators Union boss, Thomas E. Maloy. Numerous movie houses were attacked, with dynamite, in an effort by the movie projectionist union to have two projection operators on every shift. Below are but a few of the headlines:

"Bombs, Bullets, and Blackmail"
"Bombs Burst at Three Movie Theaters"
"Chicago Movie Houses Closed in Union War"

One can even purchase old file photos from newspapers.  This one captured the 13th theater bombed in 1931:

From Haymarket to the Movie House Union War, Chicago has endured the hellish marriage between labor unions and explosives. Later, that shifted when the unions dropped the bombs and political factions like the New Left picked them up. For example, the book and documentary I am working on, Time Bomber, about a 1971/72 bombing plot, had no labor component at all. Neither did the 1975 FALN bombings in The Loop.

With the new threats against theaters, probably by disgruntled employees, it seems the pendulum has swung back to its violent origins.

Opening credits and a tease for Time Bomber the documentary:

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ