23 Year Old Michael Jordan With David Letterman

Posted in David Letterman, Michael Jordan on June 16th, 2012 by Willie

I just tuned into the fabulous new documentary on the 1992 Dream Team, the magical group of Olympic All-Stars led by Michael Jordan.  If you grew up as a kid in the 90s like I did, Michael Jordan was the closest thing to experiencing Babe Ruth.  It didn’t matter what team you were a fan of, watching Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls dominate basketball was a thrill right out of a comic book.  Jordan played with passion, creativity, and inspiration, and he came to represent the icon of American achievement, proudly setting the bar for success higher and higher.  The thing I like most about Michael was that he never shrank from the spotlight and never felt embarrassed to be who he was.  Many icons of sports and popular culture exude a bitterness and resentment in the face of overwhelming media attention and praise, but Michael embraced it and owned it.  Criticism did grow around Jordan, concerning the colossal commercialization of his name and likeness, but I always felt that criticism was a bit wrong headed. While it was certainly true that Michael lent his name to anyone with a big enough paycheck, he never pretended that it wasn’t anything other than enjoying the spoils of money and fame.  His appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman when he was then just a 23 years old emerging phenomenon, shows Michael constructing this public identity, which was a cross between a crass walking commercial, and, somehow, an unpretentious everyman burning with the universal desire to be great.  Letterman, also young and spry, does his part in helping create the myth and legend, and the clip below is just a lot of fun.

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Twenty One, The Quiz Show Scandals

Posted in Quiz Show Scandal, Youtube Favs on November 7th, 2011 by Willie

A movie I always loved was Quiz Show, the 1994 film directed by acting legend Robert Redford.  The movie is about the infamous practice of game show rigging that went on in the 1950s, especially at NBC with their hit show “Twenty One.”  Proclaiming to audiences that the questions to the answers were kept in a secure bank vault, the reality was that the contestants were outright told the answers before the broadcast, and were also told when to take a dive when the audience grew tired seeing them win.  It was a stunning fraud perpetrated to keep rating high and sell the sponsor’s products, in this case Geritol, a “tired blood” supplement.  The movie focused on Columbia University teacher Charles Van Doren, a handsome, well bred, and well spoken intellectual, and Herbert Stempel, an unemployed everyman from Queens who was asked to take a dive.  Stempel went along with the fraud because he was promised a future on television which he never received.  Incensed by NBC kicking him out the door, Stempel blew the whistle on the whole charade, eventually getting the attention of federal prosecutors in Washington DC who helped blow the lid off the thing.  The movie is great because its a rich and sumptuous look at the glamorous side of late 50s New York City, precipitating the look and feel of shows like “Mad Men” and “Pan Am.”  What I have below is the actual episode of the show that the movie was based on, so you can see for yourself where reality differs from the movie.  The most striking thing about watching the actual Van Doren/Stempel contest is what amazing acting these guys did in the phoniest of situations.  They were just regular guys with no entertainment backgrounds asked to put on a show in front of 50 million people.  It’s truly remarkable.  I’m also including the trailer for Quiz Show just to entice you to watch in case you haven’t seen it.

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Bob Dylan, The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll

Posted in Bob Dylan, Youtube Favs on March 26th, 2011 by Willie

It’s kind of shame that it took 23 notches in my youtube countdown to get to Bob Dylan, one of my immortal heroes of music..and uhh..life.  The video I present to you is utterly fantastic.  It’s from the old Steve Allen Tonight Show in 1964.  Steve Allen gives Bob an lovely epic introduction to the United States, elevating him further from his cult singer status to the perennial icon that he is.  Bob is very shy, barely giving more then a one or two word answer to Steve’s easy questions.  It’s just a remarkably restrained interview on both sides with Steve eventually breaking out into Bob’s poetry, putting poor young Bob on the spot.  But it’s a beautiful moment.  Then Bob breaks into “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll,” one of his absolute best classic “fuck you rich people” tear jerkers.  At the end of the performance, you can see there is not a dry eye in the house, with Bob having cemented himself as America’s greatest poet, songwriter, and all around genius.  If you want to see how an artist can change the world, and how revolutions of the mind and heart are really made and won, then you have to look no further then this clip.  I love this, and you should too.  Enjoy.

UPDATE 10.20.13- The original clip is gone. Enjoy this substitute. (Willie)

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