Category: Entertainment


Murdering Women For Entertainment

In the last decade alone, movie-makers have raped, murdered and mutilated more women than all the serial killers combined. Worse yet, they went about it and continue to do so with the same sadistic enthusiasm as the monsters they pretend to revile. Directors and writers

The Life and Legacy of Paul de Kruif

It was the first day of the 2001 Key West Literary Seminar — an annual event that attracts hundreds of readers and writers to the southernmost town in the United States — and one of the panelists was observing that the whole enterprise of literary

Live–at a Mississippi Juke Joint Po’ Monkey’s place, located amid cotton fields two miles down a dirt road outside Merigold, MS, is perhaps one of the last old-style country jukes in the Delta. It’s been operated by tractor driver Willie “Po’ Monkey” Seeberry for more than 30 years in a turn-of-the-century sharecropper’s shack where Seeberry lives. The juke packs in customers every Thursday night to dance, drink beer, and eat fish, ribs and pork chop sandwiches prepared by his ex-sister-in-law, Irene Johnson. Just as in the boom days of the Delta, the shack is owned by Seeberry’s white employer who allows him to run the club out of his home for extra money and to provide a social outlet for locals. Po’ Monkeys Lounge draws in whites and blacks throughout the Delta who enjoy partying in the country, listening to good blues and eating good food.

Good Times Fall On Hard Times In Mississippi

“I believe I’ll get drunk, tear this barrel house down.” —Drunken Barrel House Blues, Memphis Minnie. The juke joints are dying. “We used to have big crowds, every Friday night especially, and check nights,” said James Alford, manager of Smitty’s Red Top Lounge in Clarksdale,

Elvis singing

No Happy Elvis Stories

MEMPHIS, Tenn.–The woman is an Elvis fan from Boston. She is in her mid-thirties, has dark hair, and is thin, in that pale, pinched way that comes with being nervous. At the moment she is listening to one of the many Memphis men who dyes

"I know he was a very religious person," said one fan at the Elvis convention, "but I’d like to know if he had a personal relationship with Jesus." Photo by Barry Grant

Religious Relics of Rock & Roll

MEMPHIS, Tenn.–They approach the grave in silence. A few yards from the gravesite they extinguish cigarettes in a foot-high bucket crammed with paper cups from MacDonalds, empty boxes of film, and Whattaburger wrappers. They leave a flower or a bouquet. They say a prayer. On

Business card saying Elvis Presley #1 fan

Idoling Elvis

MEMPHIS, Tenn.–In 1954 Elvis Presley came to be known as the King of Western Bop. He was the white boy who “sang black,” the revolutionary, rockabilly cat whose body movements originated from the wild contortions of Southern preachers. He was lusty and evangelical, a combination

Hundreds and often thousands of fans visit Elvis Presley’s grave each day. Barry Grant

Elvis is Watching Us: Studying an American Dream

MEMPHIS, Tenn.–There is a small black camera on the lawn of Graceland, where Elvis Aron Presley, King of Rock and Roll, once lived, then existed, and finally died. The camera points at Graceland’s green and white wrought iron gate. At one time it transmitted to

Richard Pryor in "Which Way Is Up?"

Black Humor: On the Real Side

By ‘jiving’ and ‘schucking,’…a man may avoid the undesirable consequences of his own misdemeanors…’ – Ulf Hannerz, Soulside 1 (NEW YORK) – In this passage Professor Hannerz is describing one of the central elements of black life style analyzed during his sociological study of a

Charley Ruggles & Stepin Fetchit in "His Exciting Night."

The Whole Cookie

LOS ANGELES – Fifty years ago Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry, a.k.a. Stepin Fetchit, reigned as the first and only black movie star. He had made his motion picture debut in the silent film “In Old Kentucky” (1927) playing opposite Carolynne Snowden; it was a

The Jeffersons

Writing in Black and White

(LOS ANGELES) – “More important than even the directors and producers, the writer is crucial to the success of black television shows,” says Cleavon Little. (Mr. Little, who starred in the Broadway hit “Purlie”, was also a featured performer in the film “Blazing Saddles” as

Honi Coles

That Vaudeville Style: A Conversation with Honi Coles

(NEW YORK CITY) – “When I came to New York in 1931,” recalls Honi Coles, “Harlem was completely different. You can’t visualize it. You can’t possibly visualize it. In the first place, there was little crime, I mean street crime. There was no thought of

Rappin' on the street

Rappin’ on the Street

(NEW YORK CITY) – Booker has been a barber for nearly 40 years. Although he is officially retired now, he still drops into the small barbershop off Northern Boulevard in Queens, where he last worked. If one of the three regular barbers is absent he

Bert Williams and George Walker in a cakewalk number.

Black Humor from Slavery to Stepin Fetchit

The Public Humor    Perhaps the most apt way to describe the public humor of black Americans prior to the mid-1930’s is to say that it was nearly always masked. Not only in the literal sense of grotesque, corked on blackface facades used in the

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Arledge on Arledge

This is, in a sense, a catch-up newsletter. I’ve heard many nice comments about my first two newsletters on Roone Arledge and television news as well as one persistent criticism: Why didn’t I quote Arledge more, give him his fair say. A couple of people


Counting Heads: TV Demographics

Unlike non-electronic media, television has no simple way of determining the number of viewers who watch a particular show. There are no tickets to count, coupons to clip or unsold magazines to return. And yet the industry’s raison d’etre is not to deliver a show

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Syndicated Television: The Other Side of the Wasteland

Like a Raggedy Ann with glitter in her hair, the workaday world of television syndication has a bright new look. Until recently the business of distributing television programs on a station by station basis has been the poor country cousin of network television, accepting its

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Network Censorship: Coming of Age in TV Land

Every once in a while something comes along that encapsulates the banality of so much network television like one of those tinfoil snow scenes set in a paperweight. It seems to me that just such an incident occurred when novelist Dan Wakefield quit the show

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Television News and Television Sports —A Profile of Roone Arledge (Part Two)

Last spring when Fred Pierce, announcing Arledge’s appointment as head of ABC News as well as ABC Sports, remarked that “both departments require instant transmission of current events with uncompromising integrity,” there was a fair amount of tittering in the network’s newsroom along with the