Friday, 4 May 2012

If You Look for Trouble....

Norfolk, Virginia....is a rather odd place.  I've hinted in the past....that Virginia in general....is four separate states states.  There's the Arlington/Fairfax/Alexandria area....which is a metropolitan neighborhood of DC. There's Richmond by itself, which is some odd leftover of the Civil War.  There's the Shenandoah Valley region which is the heartland of the state.  Finally....you've got the coastal region....Norfolk.

This week, the story finally came out about the two reporters for the Virginian-Pilot newspaper....who were set upon by a black mob one evening after leaving a concert in Norfolk.  It was evening hours....a rock was thrown....the male reporter gets out to survey the damage, and starts to get beat up.  His female associate calls 9-11, and then she gets beat up.  The cops eventually arrive and clean up the mess.

Reaction by the newspaper itself?  Well....it never got mentioned.  It's around two weeks later....in some editorial piece....that the story is kind of told.

Fox News has dumped on the newspaper, and the local cops....mostly because this was a mob situation and shows a pretty sad state of affairs in Norfolk.

I sat and pondered over this.  First, you can list off 500 cities in America...asking the locals where to hang out and what neighborhoods to avoid, and they all have bad neighborhoods to avoid after dark.  Washington DC has vast neighborhoods, where even the cops avoid hanging out unless they get a call to react to.  This couple in Norfolk?  At 11PM....driving around town?  My guess is that they really don't know their bad neighborhoods.

The second observation here?  Newspapers really don't mean much.  When was the last time that the Virginian-Pilot Newspaper covered corruption within city hall or the police force?  When was the last time that they dug into the expense account of the mayor?  What you typically get is a picture on the front page of some miniature-pony with a kid, a couple of stories on car accidents, a construction project paid by the state, another woeful tale of bad Republicans or bad Democrats, and some slanted story on neighborhood improvements.  Folks have figured this game out, and subscriptions are spiraling downward.

The last observation....if you really want to drive at 11PM around bad neighborhoods in America....tote a shotgun.  If you have to get out and get confronted....let folks see the shotgun.  If they feel "lucky"....fine. I'm guessing most folks will just move along and decided that this isn't their lucky night.  The truth is....we'd all be better off just parking the car at 6PM, watching reruns of Gunsmoke, and going to bed at 9PM.  If you run around at 11PM at night in most towns....you simply are asking for trouble....sooner or later.

A 1945 Problem in 2012

A story got picked up by the AP yesterday....between the Defense Secretary (Panetta) and the four-star generals of the Pentagon....everyone is getting peppy about misconduct and lack of professionalism.

So there's various speeches, letters, and directives coming from the top toward the bottom.  The view at the top?  Deterioration.  Things are sliding and it bothers them greatly.

The evidence?  Well.....they point to divorces within the military ranks, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, suicides, and just plain stupid behavior.

The truth?  The Air Force had this flying squadron that they kept in Vietnam for most of the war.  Pilots and mechanics would rotate in and spend a year in Vietnam, then return to the "real" Air Force.  At the end of the war....they brought the whole unit back to the US (as I was told this story over two decades ago).  This was one of the most decorated units in existence at the time.  A couple of months after they brought the unit into the US....they did an inspection....the unit failed miserably.  Virtually everyone associated with the unit needed to be transferred out....just to get fresh prospectives into place.

I would suspect the Marine and Army problems are such, and in such proportion.....that just transferring everyone around....won't work.  The decade-old war business, has had it's toll.  Things aren't working like you'd think.  People are emotionally tired and misconduct/lack of professionalism is the least of their daily issues.

This expectation being drafted and handed down to unit commanders will likely find itself in a watered-down version of whatever the Pentagon dreams up.  Other than just picking out the problem folks and tossing them out (into the tens of thousands), there really isn't much else you can do to fix things.

Things were wonderful for the Pentagon in 1946.  As the war ended and they had tens of thousands of emotionally scarred GI's, alcoholics, and folks pumped up on misconduct.....they just opened up the door and handed out discharges left and right.  The Pentagon had this wonderful opportunity to clean house in 1946.  Their problems all went away and folks could get back to the regular job of just thinking about war.  Here in 2012....with this professional cadre of military folks....they aren't going away.  The Pentagon is stuck with them.  And I seriously doubt that they know what the solution should be.

The New Era of Sitcom's?

Netflex, and this week....the Amazon folks....have come out to hint that they are at a stage to produce their own shows....in particular.... sitcoms (situational comedies).

In the old days....a guy could come up with one great idea for a TV comedy, and then it went through fifteen different filters at some studio or network....to be be finally made.  Somehow, Mr Ed, Green Acres, and Gilligan's Island made it through the network process and were actually produced.  The curious thing is that countless other comedy ideas were not sold in the end.  In the 1960s and 1970s....you were left with only three networks and the comedy scale was strictly "1" (a loser) and "4" (a winner").

With both Netflex and Amazon hinting of a wide-open door....suddenly you've this potential situation where Russell Crowe might admit that he wouldn't mind a one-year contract for strictly eighteen episodes of himself playing a hopeless loser Harley Davidson mechanic in Idaho in comic situations.  Or you might even get two former Hollywood greats agreeing to do a forty-episode series on some bed-and-breakfast comedy set in the Hollywood of the 1930s.

Fawlty Towers, a British classic....is only made up of twelve episodes.  I realize most folks think there's twenty or thirty....but it's not.  There is always potential for a really great series to come about.....with a limited script, five-star acting, and done strictly for the comedy....not the cash.

For some reason....I think this idea by Netflex and Amazon will take off.  The networks?  Well....they might be shocked at what they threw away as stupid ideas....return.....and end up being made into seventy-five episodes.