Saturday, December 31, 2005

And Now for Something Completely Different...Static

Has Anybody Noticed How Technically Flawed WCPN has Become Since the Move?

"Announcer: You probably noticed that I didn't say, 'And now for something completely different,' just now. This is simply because, I am unable to appear in the show this week. Sorry to interrupt."

Can we request that WCPN move back to the studios on Chester Ave? Since the move to Euclid Ave there is noise, long pauses, static, crackles, and fade outs. It would seem that moving to snobby Playhouse Square, the yuppies that walk by to watch radio?? in the new studios would not tolerate all that noise. I appreciate commercial free public radio, but all the smooth announcers (Baer, Babin, and Jablonski) have moved on so at least we could have a technically sound broadcast. I mean with the newbies at the station stumbling and free-falling through the news at least we should not have to put up with all the other noise. The worst new trend, however, is putting Plain Dealer columnists on the air. Just because you have an opinion that you put down on paper does not mean that you can host a radio show. Keep those guys and gals over on Superior Ave at Plain Dealer Press and Prognosticators Plaza. There is a skill to keeping a radio show moving and getting the information from a guest or caller in a brief but not insulting manner (see Neal Conan--Talk of the Nation). These Plain Dealer columnists force me to turn to the jarring commercial saturated land of Jerry Springer. I hate commercial radio. It is so distracting to talk for 12 minutes about Iraq and then listen to five minutes of appliances, bars, and cars.

Kit Jensen--you have big time homework for the new year: Fix the technical flaws at the new studio, hire a lot of new talent, and tell the PD columnists if they want to be on the radio call in like the rest of us. (If you feel bad for Feagler, put him in that glass studio on Euclid and tell him that he is podcasting all day, and see how long it takes for him to realize his mic. is not on. My guess is 8 months since his ego will be satisfied that people walk by all day and watch him as he talks and waves.)


Thursday, December 29, 2005

Thought I'd give our blogging friends the edge over those in the main stream media-- our press release a day early! I've been slacking on this here blog (which is shameful since I started it), but I promise to post more often. I fear Brian may run out of Monty Python lines sometime in the near future if I don't. Hope all are well, and Happy New Year! -Kevin

Colorful New Grapevine Hits Cleveland Streets

Press Release
For Immediate Release: December 29, 2005
For more information, Call 216/432-0540 or email

Just in time for the holidays, a beautiful new issue of The Homeless Grapevine is hitting Cleveland streets! Our latest issue moves forward into the new year by debuting our first full-color edition, but still focuses on those who have been left behind. Our front page features an interview with Lutheran Metro Ministries’ Mike Sering about the difficulties ex-offenders face when they are released. LMM is responsible for running 2100 Lakeside, the area’s largest homeless men’s shelter, and Sering is LMM’s Director of Shelter and Housing.

Our latest issue also details the exciting premiere of Cleveland’s affordable housing website, The website is already receiving around 1,000 visitors per day and is free for both landlords and potential tenants. At the unveiling, Marty Gelfand of Representative Kucinich’s office presented a resolution congratulating the agencies, county and city offices, and people involved.

Issue 74 also includes recommendations for Cleveland’s incoming mayor, Frank Jackson. The open letter from the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless asks Mayor-Elect Jackson to set reasonable shelter standards, establish a 24 hour drop-in center for homeless people, and calls for the Mayor-Elect to seek resignations from the senior staff of the Office of Homeless Services.

Readers of our previous issue might be disappointed to see less profanity within Issue 74's pages, but may express profane thoughts upon seeing how much money is spent by the County in our 2005 Continuum of Care Report. The Continuum tracks the federal dollars transferred to Cuyahoga County for the purpose of eliminating homelessness, and some of the numbers are astounding.

The latest edition of Northeast Ohio’s street newspaper also features the profile of a formerly homeless man who has lived on Cleveland’s streets for the majority of the past 25 years. His observations of the decline of manufacturing, dearth of affordable housing, and changing times are not to be missed! The Homeless Grapevine embraced this holiday season in characteristic fashion: with an Editorial discussing the overburdening of small charities by eager holiday volunteering.

As always, Cleveland’s Voice for Social Justice has much more, including original poetry, the results of our 2005 Reader’s Survey, original commentaries, photographs, and more! Pick up our vibrant, full-color issue at the West Side Market, the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless office, or from any licensed vendor.

And, now for something completely different... "How to Defend Yourself Against Fresh Fruit"

See the complete text of the skit here:

(All sigh.)

Sgt.: We haven't done them, have we? Right. Bananas. How to defend yourself
against a man armed with a banana. Now you, come at me with this
banana. Catch! Now, it's quite simple to defend yourself against a man
armed with a banana. First of all you force him to drop the banana;
then, second, you eat the banana, thus disarming him. You have now
rendered him 'elpless.
Palin: Suppose he's got a bunch.
Sgt.: Shut up.
Idle: Suppose he's got a pointed stick.
Sgt.: Shut up. Right now you, Mr Apricot.
Chapman: 'Arrison.
Sgt.: Sorry, Mr. 'Arrison. Come at me with that banana. Hold it like that,
that's it. Now attack me with it. Come on! Come on! Come at me!
Come at me then! (Shoots him.)
Chapman: Aaagh! (dies.)
Sgt.: Now, I eat the banana. (Does so.)
Palin: You shot him!
Jones: He's dead!
Idle: He's completely dead!
Sgt.: I have now eaten the banana. The deceased, Mr Apricot, is now 'elpless.
Palin: You shot him. You shot him dead.
Sgt.: Well, he was attacking me with a banana.
Jones: But you told him to.
Sgt.: Look, I'm only doing me job. I have to show you how to defend
yourselves against fresh fruit.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

No News In Cleveland???

"Brian's mother: What star sign is he?
Wise Man #2: Capricorn

Brian's Mother: Capricorn, eh? What are they like?

Wise Man #2: He is the son of God, our Messiah

Wise Man #1: The King of the Jews

Brian's Mother: And that's Capricorn, is it?
Wise Man #3: No, No that's just him.

Brian's Mother: Oh, I was gonna say, otherwise there'd be a lot of them."
(A little holiday Monty Python)

So, the Mayor issued nearly a press release a day in September and October 2005. She even issued four press releases on the days before the election in November. Since November 7th there were only two releases issued and both announce the holiday meals in Cleveland. So, there is nothing going on in Cleveland except that poor people need to know where to eat a holiday meal? Are there so many poor people in the City that this is the only business going on? Could the press office be considered a political office engaged in electioneering since the they practically shut down on the day after the election? Not even a note to the voters about her loss or a note about the amount of money brought in from the red light cameras? How about a release on the festive decorations in City Hall or some mention of the sweet deal offered to her supporters in the Fire Department union and how that was not political payback? Maybe the Mayor is auditioning for a job at United Way and can point to her experience in notifying the residents of the City where to get a holiday meal in her final days? Happy Holidays, Mayor. Good luck in your next job, and thanks for letting us know where to get a free meal.


Friday, December 23, 2005

What Happened to the Free Times?

This blog is dedicated to the Homeless Grapevine and to commenting on local media, so I was thinking what happened to the Cleveland Free Times? It looks nice, but there is no content to read. I always made sure to stop and pick up the Free Times for Roldo or Josh Greene or at least the small news/rumor items that were always interesting. Now, nothing. I do not look forward to picking up the paper. I miss Cindy Barber and Editor-in-Chief Lisa Chamberlain. I miss hearing the dirt on local politicians. I think that someone should be at every Cleveland City Council meeting or County meeting to get the inside scoop. I want some paper to publish those memos from stupid corporate radio stations. I want a paper that lists the golden parachutes offered by local companies. We all need a media outlet that will identify the hypocrisy of local politicians. The big question is: Can the print newspapers make a go of it in the age of the internet?

The blogs are great, but very few bloggers get paid to go to meetings, or to do actual investigations. Can the pornography and escort business sustain a paper to hire real reporters? With limited advertisement revenue, does competition improve the market or lead to a scroched earth with none of the paper's surviving?

I am sure that good content would drive the others out, and to the victor goes the spoils.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Should the Media Apologize for Bad Endorsements?

The Grapevine does not endorse candidates because of the sticky situation with our publisher and their non-profit status, but I have to ask: If a newspaper makes an endorsement that turns out to be boneheaded do they have an obligation to apologize for that editorial? In the last State of Ohio election the Cleveland Plain Dealer endorsed Governor Bob Taft in his re-election campaign. Since his victory we have seen scandal, condemnation by the Plain Dealer, and repeated failures from his administration. It seems that there is not a week that goes by that we do not hear from the Plain Dealer a story about how bad this administration functions in overseeing the state. So, with all this negative press about the Governor, I had to ask Doug Clifton, Plain Dealer editor, when he was going to issue an apology. Here is his response.

"While we certainly wish Taft had lived up to expectations, I don't think we owe an apology for the endorsement. Again, people are free to take our guidance or not. Certainly we offer it in good faith but can't guarantee everyone we endorse will be a success. Often we endorse the best of a bad lot. That wasn't the case in this race because Hagen was a good man. We just thought Taft would be more likely to get things done given his party affiliation and that of both the House and Senate. "--Doug Clifton December 13, 2005.

Tim Hagen was the Democrat running against Taft. I believe this is the standard response listed on page 842 of Journalism 101 textbook under the Chapter "What do you say to remain credible after endorsing Adolf Hitler/Richard Nixon (insert name here) in your editorials?" The explanation did not provide much clarity so my only reply (by popular demand) is:

Customer: This isn't an argument! It's just contradiction!
Professional Arguer: No, it isn't!
Customer: Yes it is!
Professional Arguer: No, no, no!
Customer: It is!
Professional Arguer: No, it isn't!
Customer: Yes it is! An argument is an intellectual process! It isn't just contradiction!
Professional Arguer: Look, if I'm to argue with you, I have to take up a contracitary position!
Customer: Yes, but it's not just saying "No it isn't!"
Professional Arguer: Yes, it is!
Customer: No, it isn't!


Saturday, December 10, 2005

To the Media: I will answer your Questions...

The President has refused to answer your questions. How can we allow him to get away with not answering questions to anyone? He is not a king, but he is certainly acting like there was divine intervention in the 2000 and 2004 elections. "Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme Executive Power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony."

So, I have decided to take one for the team and change my name to President George Bush in order to answer questions from any media outlet in the country. This would allow at least some balance in your stories. A typical story would read, "The United States President refused to answer questions, but President Bush said, 'We are going to be in Iraq for years and years because this administration very much is interested in nation building contrary to the rhetoric during the 2000 election campaign."

I would fairly and honestly answer questions in small bits of information perfect for print media quoting. I am terribly sorry that I do not look like the fun-loving vacation bound Texan for television. I am available for comment for late night deadlines or for those reporters who want to file their stories first thing in the morning in order to get into the bars or coffee shops to root out the injustice perpetrated by the CIA or Bill O'Reilly's list of enemies of the state. If you want an answer to your questions please e-mail me at Here is an example to prove that I am in fact qualified to answer questions from the U.S. Fourth Estate.

1. Sir, do you think that with your pledge to clean up government is in keeping with allowing Karl Rove to continue his duties while under this cloud of suspicion?
President Bush said: "This Karl Rove is a dangerous man as demonstrated by the invasion of a sovereign country like Iraq. I feel it is my duty to keep him in the White House. As the chief law enforcement officer in the country, I worry that Rove could commit any number of crimes if we let him loose in the United States. "

2. Which specific person within the administration first suggested that the United States invade Iraq?
President Bush said, "I was not really involved in the whole discussion, but I suspect that Cheney and Rummy were the architects of this nightmare. "

The real point is that our media has failed on the job of informing us. They have kept secrets from us, and have failed to investigate claims from the administration about homelessness, poverty, Katrina, Iraq, the economy, tax policy, election policy, education policy, terrorism, science, and the use of propaganda. It is astounding that our government has made people disappear from the face of the earth, and every paper in the country should assign reporters to investigate this abuse of power. Every paper in the country needs to stand up to authority and demand a response to these questions. While the Grapevine is a small homeless paper, this policy of disappeared people is the antithesis of everything American. Everyone needs to stand against this policy. Homeless people are largely forgotten by our society--an injustice of indifference, but a government that erases people from the planet is corrupt to its core. No holiday fun stories, no cute interviews by the media until we stop this policy.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Stupid Local Media Story for the Week

Channel 19 News is at it again with finishing another week with the title of Champion for passing the bizarre off as news with their urinal cake in the OJ story. Apparently, a professor bought an OJ from a local fast food restaurant in a western suburb of Cleveland, and was ready to take a big gulp while taking some medicine when he found a one of those pink cakes from the urinal to make it smell better floating in the top of his OJ. The smart ass reporter made what should have been a 20 second story into "an investigative report." He sent a secret camera in to buy an orange juice without the urinal cake. Went into the bathrooms to make the startling discovery that this fast food restaurant did not use urinal cakes.

The big problem was that a whole bunch of questions were never answered. While the reporter was busy investigating, real questions went unanswered. For example:

1. Do urinal cakes really float or is that just for OJ?
2. Is this a case of one fast food joint attempting to ruin the business of another?
3. Since no one would take a used urinal cake out, this was most likely a new cake. Is a new urinal cake really harmful?
4. Does a urinal cake turn the OJ a different color?
5. Why doesn't this fast food place use urinal cakes, anyway?
6. Since the last product tampering case turned out to be false, shouldn't the reporter have scrutinized the person who found the urinal cake?

Our own Jimmy Olsen could have done a much better job.