Monday, July 23, 2007

Of Rupert and Petey

Busy week last week, and in the midst of everything I was too overwrought about the whole Rupert-Dow Jones saga to actually write anything. But the NY Times had a terrific piece on the 19th about the internal reaction (the editorial reaction, I should say; supposedly the ad sales crowd feels rather differently about things, sez AdAge). Among other things the offices featured this WSJ-style stippled illustration of Leslie Hill, one of the Bancroft family supposedly against the takeover. (She's a pilot.)

I'm so disheartened by this because of Murdoch's well-documented propensity to put a heavy hand on the wheel when it comes to opinion and language, and because of how his influence has built the horrible, vile, etc. channel known as Fox. Other than its world-changing animation -- The Simpsons and King of the Hill -- for which I do give Rupert great credit, the Fox offering is beyond (beneath?) abysmal. (Needless to say, Outfoxed rings vividly true, and is therefore markedly depressing.)

Meanwhile, Clark Hoyt, the Times' new ombudsman, wrote a great essay on Sunday about how we won't be reading nearly so much on the Sulzbergers in that august paper. To their credit, the Journalistas have been much more thorough and forthcoming in their reportage on the daunting developments they face than the Timesfolk have been on their own boardroom/shareholder dramas.

In another medium, I just saw Don Cheadle as Petey Greene ("Talk to Me"). Cheadle (as usual) was fantastic, playing a truth-telling rogue who electrified AM radio for 10 volatile years. The story is compelling. But as a Washingtonian, I wanted more local color (it was mostly shot in Toronto, natch) and more context about "official" white and black working-class D.C. That was sketched in, but without enough detail to satisfy me. (Of course, I was a suburban girl by the time Petey was on the scene; WOL and WOOK were black soul stations. As much as I loved soul music - the "Talk to Me" soundtrack is right on - I had mostly grown up listening to WWDC, WPGC, WEAM (and at night, further afield, WABC and WBZ.) Watching the movie I was gripped by sadness to see his fall after a remarkable rise, not to mention the sorrow that came from revisiting the 14th Street riots, which took place just after MLK Jr. was killed. That was such a grim time - especially between April 4 and June 5, when Bobby was shot. That two month period was wrenching.

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