Thursday, December 04, 2008


It’s the Christmas season and if you’re truly into the spirit of the holiday season – you have visions of sugarplum fairies dancing in your head or you’re imaging the smiles on the faces of young children as they open their gifts from Santa on Christmas morning. The Christmas season means all of that to me – along with stealing a kiss under the mistletoe, watching “It’s A Wonderful Life” for the thousandth time, and humming some non-traditional music that you only hear at this time of the year.

You see – everyone associates songs like “Silent Night”, “Little Drummer Boy” and “Jingle Bells” with the holiday season – not me. Christmas isn’t Christmas until I hear “cha-cha-chia” drilled into my head along with moving images of some green weed growing out of a porcelain donkey – now that’s Christmas. And leave it to those Madison Avenue ad boys to actually convince us that someone we know and love would actually be thrilled to receive a Chia Pet as a gift during the holiday season.

It’s the holiday season and you can forget seeing the commercials for the glass globes that make it easy to water your plants or the CD that will help you to use a computer to buy worthless shit on E-Bay – the tv commercial landscape has changed. Now, it’s commercials for the Chia Pet and “clap on/clap off - The Clapper”. Over the next few weeks these commercials are going to seem like they’re on the air every hour of every day on any station that you turn to. CNN. They’ll air there. USA – you betcha - they need something to fill the commercial spots on “Law and Order”. Weather Channel – they’ll probably be sponsoring weather on the 8's. And, I wouldn’t be surprised if they even showed on some PBS station as a program underwriter. Why not – it’s the Christmas season – the most wonderful time of the year.

And to me - the Christmas season wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t see that cartoon of a Santa sliding down a hill on a Norelco electric shaver. Every year that I see that commercial I don’t want to rush into the bathroom and shave my beard with an electric shaver – hell no – I want to find an electric shaver big enough for me to hop on and slide down some snowy hill somewhere. Now that’s Christmas.

As I watch television these days - you can’t help not getting into that Christmas spirit...with the exception of Bing Crosby, Perry Como and Burl Ives – what’s more Christmas than a Chia Pet, The Clapper and a Norelco electric razor. Nothing. So, leave a plate of cookies and a glass of milk for Santa....he’s coming with his bag filled with all of the above to make your Christmas merry.

Friday, November 28, 2008

BAD TV: Rosie Live on NBC

Just when you think that TV isn't "the shithole" everyone says it is -- Rosie O'Donnell comes along and raises to bar of shitty television to a new level with a variety show special that she was hoping would become a weekly series. The variety show -- "Rosie Live" -- was NBC's gift to America on the night before Thanksgiving and let me assure you that this show was a bigger turkey than the NFL Detroit Lions game that CBS aired on Thanksgiving Day and you have got to be trying really hard to be shitter than the Detroit Lions.

I actually like Rosie O'Donnell -- which makes it hard for me to hate this variety special as much as I did -- but if you're thinking of trying to revive the variety show format -- don't present it like a shitty dinner theatre production of some tired ass Broadway play.

One of the problems that I found with "Rosie Live" was Rosie. All the guests on this show had to interact with Rosie in some way or another and the scripted interaction wasn't funny, it wasn't entertaining, and trust me when I say that not only was "Rosie Live" not enjoyable to watch -- it was gut-wrenching to see such talent wasted like this live on prime-time television.

The show started off with Liza Minelli and Rosie performing together and it was the first indication on how big of a train wreck this show was going to be. Liza's singing was all over the place and Rosie (I'll be gentle) of all of your talents -- singing is not one of your strong suits. Rosie -- you want to revive the variety show format -- you should of had Liza come out and perform her verison of Amy Winehouse's "Rehab". Now that's entertainment!

And then there was Alec Baldwin -- who along with Conan O'Brian -- must have been on the show as a favor to the suits at NBC...why else would either of these two people have wasted their Wednesday night to do this show? Conan appears from being a closed door as a surprise guest only to get hit in the face with a pie -- now that's top-notch comedy that's going to bring the variety show format back (or cause the TV audience to search around the TV dial for something more entertaining -- like watching somebody's bowel being disected).

Rosie even had Clay Aiken pop up on the show with a scripted bit that was "gay" and the sad thing is that they meant for it to be just that. And why oh why Rosie did you waste so much time interacting with everyone when you could have better used the time to expose some of the talent that you had -- such as have Harry Connick, Jr. peform a song instead of appearing to promoting a CD or you could have even had Gloria Estefan sing a song by herself -- it would have improved the quality of your show.

I found it hard to watch "Rosie Live" all the way through -- but I did and judging by the ratings that the show recieved -- I was one of the few people who did....which means that there's a good chance that we'll never see "Rosie Live" again on NBC. Who said that TV executives were heartless? Not me.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Memories of November 22, 1963

November 22, 1963.

It's one of those days in history that you knew exactly what you were doing when you heard the news. On that date in history, I was a nine year old boy just starring out the window of Mrs. McLaughlin's third grade class room at Lewis Elementary School on the east side of Flint, Michigan. Looking out the window it didn't look like anything was different that what I saw every other day that I looked out the window, but something was different and everyone in the class knew that something was wrong when Mrs. McLaughlin didn't crack open the Bible and read from it like she did every day of the week. (You got to remember that this was 1963 and this was long before teachers were restricted from reading the Bible to their students in a public school classroom.)

Somebody from the office talked to Mrs. McLaughlin at the classroom door and instead of her reading the Bible to us she just sat quietly behind her desk in front of the classroom. It wasn't until around 2:30 or so that Mrs. McLaughlin announced to the classroom that President Kennedy had been shot and we were going to be dismissed from school early. None of us kids in that third grade classroom really understood the implications of what had happened in Dallas, Texas that afternoon. The President had been shot and kids don't connect being shot with dying -- that's something we never really had to deal with before.

I lived about five blocks away from school and I thought that I'd just go home and sit in front of the TV set and watch cartoons just like I did most every day -- little did my child size mind realize that the news departments of all of the network TV stations would be doing wall-to-wall non-stop coverage of the events in Dallas and there would be no cartoons. My Mom (who had just gotten a divorce from my father just months before) was working at a laundromat some five or six blocks away from our home and wouldn't be home until 7:30 or so -- which normally would not have bothered me -- but watching all of this coverage on the TV about the assassination was starting to scare me. I was so scared I couldn't even get off the couch and I feared what might be waiting for me beyond the furnace grate on the floor in the corner of this reverse L-shape living room/dining room of the house the lived in.

When you're a nine old kid -- seeing your President get shot on television just didn't make any sense and your small mind can't comprehend why adults were feeling like they did -- but you knew that something serious had just happened.

And just like everyone can remember what they were doing on November 22, 1963 -- they can remember just where they were when they turned on their TV set and watched Jack Ruby kill President Kennedy's alleged killer Lee Harvey Oswald. When Ruby killed Oswald, my Mother and I were visiting our neighbor two houses from us. Our neighbor was a deeply religious woman with four kids (one of those kids was a retarded adult who was pretty much sheltered from the public) and for some strange reason -- I walked into their living room and was glued to their black and white television -- the same television that I had seen Arthur Godfrey on one night now showing Jack Ruby pulling out the gun and killing Oswald.

"Oh my God!" was being murmured nonstop by all of the adults in the house as they watched the events unfolding on television.

Those are some of the memories that I have of November 22, 1963 and usually I relive those moments every year when November 22 rolls around -- but for some reason this year November 22 came and went just like any other day. I don't know why -- but I kind of feel bad that I forgot to remember a day in a history that the world will never forget.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Daytime Television

Allow me to bitch and complain a little bit about daytime television. Having worked in the television business -- I am quite aware that what programming that is aired during this day part isn't exactly of high quality -- it's basically mindless brain candy that gives the stations some place to air their commercials. It's also the lowest cost day part in the entire broadcast schedule -- which is the reason that you see the endless commercials for lawyers (that you'd be a fool to let represent you in you were in serious legal troubles), the 1-800-AS SEEN ON TV products category and the home improvement category (the carpet cleaners, furniture companies and window companies). These companies can buy spots during the daytime hours for literally pennies and they end up buying them in bulk so you can pretty much recite these damn ads in your sleep.

It use to be that the daytime schedule was filled with game shows and old reruns -- now it's talk shows and judge shows -- with a sprinkling of shows that not only question the intelligence of the people who watch them, but they make you wonder about the people who appear on them. When you turn on "Maury" -- you know that someone is going to find out that the DNA tests shows that he's the daddy of his sister's baby; and you know that when you turn on "Jerry Springer" that some fat broad is going to show her tits and some toothless a-hole wearing a pair of torn jeans and a dirty wife beater t-shirt is going to deck his daddy who made love to his girlfriend who is actually his first cousin on his Momma's side of the family. Yup, this is the stuff that daytime TV is made of.

Let's talk about daytime talk shows. When I was growing up -- we had a variety of talk shows to choose from: Mike Douglas, Woody Woodbury, Phil Donahue, Merv Griffin, Steve Allen, Della Reese, David Frost, Barbara Walters, and even David Letterman did a daytime talk show for a little while. Today -- who do we have to choose from: There's Regis and Kelly, Ellen, Orpah, Bonnie Hunt, Tyra, Martha Stewart, Rachel Ray and there's even a talk show on Fox that gives a place for Geraldo to stop by and chat about legal opinions on a Friday morning.

If you watch these shows in daytime long enough -- you will find some similarities. Why is it that anytime these daytime talk shows feature a performer doing their hit song they have to show the hosts of the show either dancing or google-eying the performers doing the show live on the air? Hey -- I don't need some kind of certification from Orpah or Ellen that this song and that performer is good I can judge for myself.

Another one of my pet peeves: Can Rachel Ray talk to a guest on her show without having to look at a card to find out what question to ask? Hey Rachel -- I love you -- but you're not someone who's going to ask some serious questions most of the time you ask them what their latest project is and then ask them how important food is in their life -- do you really need to have a card in your hand with the question -- "Do you (or your significant other) cook?" Rach -- throw the damn card away and talk.
And dare I speak about "The View"? Joy Behar actually thinks that just because "The View" was quoted on in the New York Times this past election that played a part with some serious political discourse....pleeeeezzzzzeeeee! Every time they talked politics this past year it was the same old thing -- Joy was the Democrat and Elisabeth was the die-hard conservative voice who wouldn't get off the daily Republican talking points. It was boring and predictable and didn't even make for good TV. If they want to really do some interesting political discussions they should have tried to copy some of the old William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal style arguments from the old "Dick Cavett Show" that was some good TV.

Well, I could go on and bitch some more about daytime TV -- but I don't have the time -- I got to go watch Judge Judy yell at some jerk who hasn't paid child support and I hear that someone is going to win the 250 grand on the daytime edition of "Deal Or No Deal"

Friday, October 17, 2008

I Was Just Thinking

I was just thinking….

We’re a little more than two weeks away from electing a new President of the United States and if the polls are correct – it will be Barack Obama who will be sworn in on January 20, 2009. I’m kind of looking forward to that day, because you know that it’s going to drive the right wing fringe of this country absolutely nuts – no longer will they be content to have the name of Bill Clinton to throw around to explain what’s wrong with this country – they’ll now have the name of Barack Obama to add to the list. And just like Bill Clinton can’t shake Whitewater – Barack Obama will always have Bill Ayers as his boogeyman in the closet for the right to point at.

I was just thinking….

If the rumors are correct – tomorrow night – Sarah Palin, the Republican candidate for Vice-President of the United States will be making an appearance on NBC’s Saturday Night Live – and like about ten or so million people in this country – I’ll be watching. But, don’t you think it’s a little strange that Palin has agreed to appear on Saturday Night Live and come face-to-face with Palin impersonator Tina Fey, but she has yet to appear on such programs as “Meet the Press”, “Face The Nation”, or even “60 Minutes”?

Senator McCain told David Letterman on Thursday night that he has confidence in Sarah Palin and we could trust her to run the country should our country experience another nightmare like 9/11, but if she can’t face the press during her campaign run – what can we expect from her should she happen to be put into a 9/11-like situation? Yukking it up with Tina Fey is a lot easier than taking questions from the press (who represent the people) wanting to know what you would do – but maybe questions that would make you accountable for your actions are too much of a “gotcha” question, right Mrs. Palin?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I Got A Few Things I Want To Get Off My Mind

The Election: If you’re like me – you can’t wait for the presidential election to over with. Don’t you think that it’s a little strange how the McCain campaign has kept Sarah Palin away from doing interviews on such shows as “Face the Nation” and “Meet The Press” and then say that the press is bias against her? Well, if you don’t give her a chance to speak with media organizations that are going to ask her some tough questions how can you say that they are biased. Hey, Katie Couric didn’t ask Palin any real tough questions in that interview with her, but she sure did stumble and kind of looked like a beauty pageant contestant telling the judges that she loves kittens and wants to work for world peace. Let’s get real!

The Election #2: The news this last past Friday emanating from the McCain campaign was interesting. First there was the report from that bi-partisan committee in Alaska that said that Governor Palin abused her powers in firing the public service commissioner who wouldn’t fire her ex-brother-in-law. And while the McCain campaign tried to whitewash the conclusion of this report with some lame excuse – they also had to put out the fire at what happened at a McCain town hall.

It was sad watching Ol’ John having to back off on his smear campaign of trying to paint Barack Obama has a terrorist when one of the people in the audience said that they couldn’t trust Obama and another person called Obama “an Arab”. Hey, McCain when you stir up the voters with hatemongering it’s going to come back and bite you in the ass and this last past Friday – those two people in your town hall demonstrated how hate turns into bigotry and how lies about Obama only fueled the racism that still exists in this country.

Senator McCain -- You should fire the people in your campaign management who recommended that you take the low road smearing Obama with lies. When you agree to go out with them and go out and fuel the flames of racism with these lies it only shows the voters how you would deal with the problems this country faces should you get elected. But the odds are pretty good that you're going to be watching Senator Obama get sworn in on January 20th on television and one of the reasons why that is going to happen is because of the way you campaigned for the highest office in the land.

The Wall Street Mess: Hey, I know nothing about Wall Street and the stock market – which puts me right up there with all of the people who work on Wall Street – and I won’t even go into how screwed up this bailout package was on the American taxpayer – but I have noticed something interesting. Isn’t it strange that American corporations are going for a retro look for their packages when, to some, the economy feels like were heading for a depression.

For example: Notice how this innocent looking seventy-nine cent Snickers bar has a wrapper on it that reminds people of those days when they could buy a Snickers bar for a nickel?

I don’t know how you feel about these things – but I just had a few things I wanted to get off my mind.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

You Know You're From Flint

This entry was originally written on AOL Journals on March 27, 2008. Because AOL Journal is going to cease to exist after October 31, 2008...I thought that I would post it on my Google blog.

Thursday, March 27, 2008
Subject: You Know You're From Flint.....
Time: 12:43:29 AM EDT
Author: richafrostflint

In February, I received one of those “You Know You’re Flint” e-mails from one of my friends. I looked at the list and it brought back some memories – so, I decided to add a few of my own to the list….expanding on two in the original list and writing forty-three new “You Know You’re From Flint…” entries.

With the new entries written, I decided that I would send the list out to about fifteen friends in my address book. A few friends wrote back and commented on the list and added a couple of their own and I thought “that was fun.” Imagine my surprise about a month later when I find my expanded list on not one, but two separate blogs on the world-wide web.

Nobody gave me credit for my new “You’re Know..” entries – although Gordon Young at did say that my list “seemed remarkably well-researched” before he printed it. (Thanks for the compliment Gordon – let me say right now that you have one of the best Flint sites on the internet.)

So, without further ado – I’m going to print the original list that I received and the list that I wrote and please feel free to send any “You Know You’re From Flint….” memories.


...You demanded a "feathered hairdo" after 1985

....You think the Genesee Towers is a TAAAAAL building

...You have to go to Jolly O and Skip's before you end up at Bubba's

...You think that traffic on Miller Road is too heavy

...You know what a coney is

...Going away to college is a choice between Mott and U of M Flint

...Saginaw is "Up North"

...Your idea of culture is The Whiting Auditorium

...You've been to a Generals game

....You know a short cut between Robert T and Court

...You remember Chicago 21, Rush St. Wild Bill's or The Light

....You were an underage drinker at the Mikatam (And can remember those 10 for 1 drink prices)

...The Blue Hawaiian's are your favorite band

...You shopped at The Small Mall

...The vast majority of your family income came from "THE SHOP"

...You know what a "40" is

...You bought a record at Rock-A-Rola or Wyatt Earps (or at Hatfield's Records in downtown Flint, Bill Lamb's record store in the Northwest Shopping Center or visiting the record department in the mezzanine at Smith Bridgeman's)

...You participated in a cruise at The South Flint Plaza

...You know what an Eastsider is

...You have ever ordered fries with gravy at 3 am

...You know what a Boston Cooler is

...You have had a few too many at The Torch

...Your definition of rich is a Power's kid

...You refer to all paper bags as a "Hamady sack"

...You have heard Rosie Sing "Won't you come home Bill Bailey"

...You have ever been sledding at Mott Park or Swartz Creek

...You know someone who had to go to the School of Choice

...You were bussed to The Skill Center

...You have bought beer at Awad's

...You know Mt. Holly has "good powder"

...You spent the day after Prom at Cedar Point

...Your Friday night party was at Circle Drive

...You put vinegar on your Luigi's Pizza

...A gourmet meal is "two up to go"


...You remember when WFBE only aired instructional and educational programs such as "Polly Piano and Roger Rhythm" and "The News Of The Week" that you heard in elementary school.

...You remember getting your picture taken in the 4 for a quarter photo booth in the basement at Kresge's

...You remember attending a "Battle of the Bands" at 60-Second Pizza on Clio Road

...You remember that the jocks on WTAC were "The Good Guys" and WTRX was "The Home of the Jones Boys"

...You can remember those Sunday afternoon free concerts at Wilson Park -- where not only could you enjoy the music -- but there was the smell of baking bread at the Taystee bakery not too far away from the park

...You can remember when Channel 12 was the home for "Rae Dean and Friends" and "Mr. Magic" for the kids and "Michigan Polka Party" and "The Connie Dycus Show" for adults.

...You can remember seeing "Viva Las Vegas" at the Capital Theater, "A Hard Days Night" at the Palace Theater and "Deep Throat" at the Royal Theater

...You can remember getting your "first license"at Safetyville

...You can remember going to Kearsley Park to go swimming and for the 4th of July fireworks

...Your first savings account was at Citizens Bank and you started that account with the booklet that Citizens Bank gave kids to save their dimes in.

...You can remember going to Cook's Drug Store for a ten cent Chocolate Coke or Cherry Phosphate.

...You signed petitions against the antiballistic missile and the Vietnam War at Peace Watch on Kearsley Street.

...You can remember the cement Indian at the Trading Post on Franklin Street and Utah...

...You can remember the sign on the Miller Road Dairy on Corunna Road that read: "You can't beat our milk, but you can whip our cream."

...You can remember going to the Friday night movies at U of M and having to tolerate Michael Moore's speeches before the flicks

...You can remember "The Freedom Reader" (the alternative newspaper before Michael Moore's Flint Voice).

...You remember that man who worked the cash register at Halo Burger on Harrison Street shouting out your change as "one hundred and one dollars" when it was only $1.01.

...You remember such places as "The Beaver Trap" and "Titty City", but never knew anyone who went in those places

...Everyone knew someone who said that Bob Seger owned that big house in Grand Blanc and that they seen him there

...You can remember as a kid playing with the white light electric eye that opened the doors at the A&P store on Dort Hwy

...You knew that if you couldn't find what you were looking for at Yankee's -- you could find what you wanted at Arlen's

...You remember watching "Sesame Street" on Channel 12, because Flint didn't have a public television station

...You picked up the latest paperback, magazine or newspaper at Readmore on Saginaw Street.

...You remember getting your haircut at the Barber College when it was near the tracks in downtown Flint.

...One of the ways that you knew it was January was when the Shrine Circus came to IMA Auditorium

...The only bologna and hot dogs in your house had the Koegel label on them

...You didn't associate "The Colonel's" with Kentucky Fried Chicken or "The Varsity" with any school

...Your family didn't eat Thanksgiving dinner until everyone got back from the Northern/Central game at Atwood Stadium.

...There was nothing that could compare to a King Arthur pasty

...You can remember one or two items that you purchased at the Touch Boutique.

...Juvenile home was known as "The Pasadena Playhouse"

...the only place to go for ribs and sweet potato pie was Bob and Ethel's Rib Crib

...Weekend television on Channel 12 meant watching monster movies on "Creature Features" and scary movies with "Christopher Coffin"

...your generation's "Krispy Kreme" went by the name of "Dawn's Donuts"

...You avoided driving during certain hours of the day because of "shop traffic".

...if you lived on the east side -- you went to Aunt Nina's for a hamburger and a shake

...You remember Wild Bill's before it became L-L-T

...Halo Burger is and was the only place where you could order a cream ale with your burger and fries

...The best fish n' chips in town were at Third Avenue Fish n' Chips...

...The two most trusted sources for weather was either the Citizens Bank weather ball or Channel 12's John McMurray can remember a Hire's Root Beer Float (bottled by Buckler Beverage on Lapeer Road) or a ice cold bottle of M&S Red Pop or Orange Soda

...If you still remember the Paramount Potato Chip Slim Chipley jingle

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Flint Is More Than Just Coneys -- There's Also Big John's

Besides cars -- there's another thing that Flint, Michigan is known for around-the world -- a hot dog. Not just any hot dog -- a Koegel's hot dog on a steamed bun topped with a secret special recipe meat sauce, mustard and onions. If you were born anywhere other than Flint -- you just think of them as "hot dogs" -- but to someone from the town that I fondly refer to as "the mini-motor city" they're something more -- they're Coney Islands!

(Right about now you should be hearing trumpets blare. And if you close your eyes -- you might even see images of people who worship the coney bow their heads to show their respect to "the dog".)

Any one who has ever lived in Flint knows that the town has a lot more than just cars and coney islands. When it comes to good local eats that can't be beat -- there's Big John's Steak and Onion.

I have no scientific proof to back up this statement -- but I would venture to say that a good portion of us former Flint-ites have as big a love for a Big John's Steak and Onion as we have for a coney from Angelo's in it's heyday.

Why Big John's Steak and Onion? There are a lot of "sub shops" to choose from these days. There's that fat-ass bastard Jared's favorite "Subway", there's that talking baby's favorite sub shop "Quizno's", there's "Jimmy John's" and the list goes on and on -- but Big John's has been a part of the Flint scene a whole lot longer than these "Jimmy John's Come Latelys".

When you visit a Big John's Steak and Onion -- you not only get a quality steak sandwich -- but it's how they heap on the quantity that makes a Big John Steak and Onion what it is. Watch them make a sub at at Subway and you can see how Jared lost all that weight -- because they barely put enough meat on their subs for you to even taste it. At Big John's Steak and Onion -- they give you more meat and it's not portion controlled, pre-measured and arranged on the bun to make it look like it's more than what it really is.

When you order a steak and onion from Big John's -- you know you're getting your money's worth as you watch them pile on all of that steak on top of their flat top grill and cook it to perfection. You know just by watching them make your steak and onion that you're going to need a fork to eat all of the excess steak and onion that falls out of the bun and onto the wrapper on your table.

Personally, when I'm in Flint and I visit Big John's -- I order their barbecue steak and onion and there's chance (like the good ole days when I enjoyed a rib dinner from Bob and Ethel's Rib Crib) that I'm going to be wearing some of the sandwich on my shirt. It's not that I'm a pig -- it's just a sign that I'm enjoying some good food -- food that you can only get in my old hometown of Flint, Michigan.

So, all of you former Flint-ites -- the next time someone asks you about our coney islands -- let them know that as good as they might be -- a steak and onion from Big John's is also something we're pretty proud of.