Friday, October 22, 2021

Remembering Hugh Hefner by Richard Bann

REMEMBERING HUGH HEFNER He meant so much, to so many, for so long. “Fire...the wheel...Playboy.” I could say that to Hef, and he would know what I meant. We could speak in shorthand. “Glad that’s all cleared up,” I would turn and say to him after the generally meaningless, nonsensical new movies we’d see Sundays at the Playboy Mansion. There were hand gestures and signs, too, which few others understood. Like the “Shudder Club” greeting from Hef’s childhood, or the “Just the reverse” hand-swivel from Laurel & Hardy’s WRONG AGAIN. Plus also Our Gang’s “High Sign.” And Gary Cooper’s two-finger salute from WINGS. Hef used to give that one a lot. His friends got it. Hugh Hefner had the world's most amazing life. That's all. He had it going on, in a big way, for the longest time. Hard finding the words for this, at least not that mean as much as I would like them to, on a tough day. Anyway everyone already knows, or should know, everything about Hef, don’t they? He was a national icon in the public eye; he had no secrets, nothing to hide. He lived large. Clearly Hef was sybarite who sought personal pleasure to the nth degree, in high style, but he was also a workaholic and an intellectual giant. A dichotomy? No. There were two sides to Hef, in more ways than one. He worked hard, he played hard, and for all to see. He always said, “My life is an open book, with illustrations.” So in any kind of memorial, what can you say, what can you add about someone who caused a socio-sexual revolution and changed the culture? A prophet who changed the world, really. And who was so misjudged by the world, as though he had recreated his own private Sodom and Gomorrah right there in Holmby Hills. For starters, true, the version of "Hef" most people saw was his flamboyant public persona, the one who staged wild parties with plenty of plasticized pulchritude at Hollywood’s most notorious address. This characterization was the invention of a high school-age Hugh Hefner in response to being rejected by a young lady named Betty Conklin, whom he had a crush on. He lost her to another boy. When, later, in her 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, Betty Conklin – still Hef’s friend -- would attend all the big Playboy theme parties, adorned by hundreds of drop-dead gorgeous young girls dressed in dental floss, I’d tell her with some delight, “Look around here. You see these lovely young ladies who have obviously just patronized the Trashy Lingerie store on La Cienega? They’re all here tonight – every single one of them -- as mere surrogates for you! And why? Because Hef is still working out what happened between the two of you as teenagers.” That always tickled her. We carry our childhoods with his, and hidden inside the alter-ago of “Hef” was the shy teenager who had reinvented himself. Again, two sides to the man. Few really knew him, I mean the private Hugh Hefner, that boy he kept hidden. Those of us who did were lucky. We were so lucky. We were blessed, we were privileged. We became a family. We became his family. Besides his thoughtful and generous friendship, we truly enjoyed what can only be described as a modern day Hearst Castle-San Simeon existence (home of another controversial publisher), where he was the most gracious host, a Gatsby-like host. On the other side of “the boy who dreamed the dreams” were, as mentioned, those huge, wild, spectacular all night parties -- the Midsummer Night's Dream Party, Halloween, New Year's Eve, Valentine's Day, the Fourth of July, etc. Populated by celebrities, the hipster elite, killer Playmates and Playmate wannabes, they reflected Hef's interest in hedonism and debauchery. No question. And those parties were really something. I remember the time I met Donald and Ivanka Trump at the Midsummer’s party, who were admitted even though they failed to pass the mandatory dress code for pajamas and lingerie. The memories now are continuous and unending. After one particular Halloween party (with credit to Rich Correll), I said to Hef that in the entire history of mankind, there could never have been a better party, anywhere, at any time. Could there? No. Never. Where? I challenged Hef and others at the dinner table to name where and when in all of creation there could ever have been a party to rival what we had just survived – to the extent we had. Try to name one, I challenged the room. No one could. The silent response of everyone left Hef sitting there in his gunfighter black pajamas, with a big smile on his face, content to silently sip on his beloved Jack Daniels and Pepsi (never Coca Cola). I remember that day, too. There were also the lovely, old fashioned, sentimental, nostalgic and more intimate parties during the holidays -- Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving. Sitting at the immaculate formal dining room table on those nights, you felt as though you'd walked onto the set of an Irving Thalberg 1930’s big budget, class “A”-produced movie at M-G-M. The inner circle of friends, the regular habitués, this family – truly, we had won the lottery of all lotteries. Hef was always the smartest, the fastest person in the room, and I mean any room, anywhere, ever. His intellectual firepower could be staggering. He was also a man of introspection. His hearing was failing in recent times, which often made any kind of extended discussion difficult, but we used to have serious and meaningful conversations that taught me lot. Questions about beautiful Playmates? Sure. We covered that early on. Only he, however, could use the best pick-up line of all time, “Hello, I’m Hugh Hefner.” As for the beautiful young ladies one might meet at the Playboy Mansion, well, they may look pure as the driven snow, but as Hef warned, “Some have drifted.” Between his three shots at wedded bliss, he would quote his friend Woody Allen on the subject: “Marriage is the death of hope.” Now who could argue with that? I will say, however, and for the record, that Crystal Hefner made him a happily married man at last. I saw the evidence of this. Hef really did love Crystal. Playmate Anne Randall has long been happily married to one of Hef’s dearest and oldest friends, Dick Stewart. “One time we were out by the pool,” she remembered, “and Hef had all these beautiful girls around, and I said to him, ‘Do you know, Hef, do you ever suspect that these girls might be after you for your money?’ And he looked at me, and he laughed, and he said, ‘I don’t care why they are after me, just so that they’re after me!’” What else did I learn? I remember, for example, key conversations concerning evolutionary psychology, and one thing we shared was a keen interest in the central questions of life: who we are, how we got that way, what it means, and what we can do about it. In his case, as Hugh Marston Hefner, the boy who dreamed the dreams, again as mentioned, he reinvented himself as "Hef." That’s what he did about it. Not everyone can do that successfully, however. Cary Grant films were always prized at the Playboy Mansion. When they were over, though, how many of us left the property as Cary Grant? I mean besides the great Ray Anthony, who is still successfully trading on the resemblance! Something else we shared: Hef loved movies, and he particularly loved the time travel aspect of old movies, as I do. He reached the age of reason during the depths of the Great Depression, only to discover that he had just missed the Roaring 20’s as celebrated by Saint Paul’s F. Scott Fitzgerald in the THE GREAT GATSBY, a book which greatly influenced Hef. Having missed the party, he was always looking back to try and recreate the feeling of the era he read about as a boy, and longed to experience for himself. Growing up in the 1930’s, besides his interest in pulp magazines, pin-up art, comic books, and detective fiction (he would reprint Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes” stories in the early days of PLAYBOY), Hef spent probably too much of his time seeing movies in the darkness of the Montclair Theater in Chicago. That was the sacred place where he dreamed the dreams and fantasies which inspired his lifestyle and lead to the creation of PLAYBOY magazine. Up there writ large on the silver screen, he saw and heard musicals that stirred him, populated by three actresses in particular – “those wonderful blondes from my childhood,” he’d say -- who he fell in love with: Toby Wing, Grace Bradley (who married William Boyd, who was “Hopalong Cassidy”), and his most favorite, Alice Faye. Eventually he would meet them all, and I was there to watch it happen each time. In 1992, my friend Ed Hulse was the chair of our annual Cinecon film convention in Hollywood. He invited Alice Faye as a guest. I shared the news with Hef, who seldom left the sanctuary of Playboy Mansion West. But meeting Alice Faye was as special as it got for Hugh Hefner. With a full detail of armed security officers, and friend Chuck McCann, we piled into the limousine heading for the Roosevelt Hotel, where right outside one can find Hef’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Inside, Hef, at last, met Alice Faye. Each was thrilled; it was at once a love fest of mutual admiration. Hef behaved like the love struck schoolboy he still was inside. Then we screened one of her pictures for a packed house, followed by a question and answer session. “I was standing off to the side of the dais watching Hef,” Ed recalls. “He sat in the front row, hanging on her every word and looking for all the world like any other smitten fanboy.” I would rather stick steel-pointed needles in my temples than face the fact that Hugh Hefner was just interred at the small, discreet Westwood Memorial Park Cemetery, in the crypt right next to Marilyn Monroe. She was on the cover of the famous first issue of PLAYBOY, smiling and waving. Inside, her nude pictorial against a lush background of red velvet secured success for Hef’s start-up company in 1953. Yet he never, ever met her. Not once. He ran with a lot of Playmates of course, but not that many starlets and actresses. (That was Ray Anthony’s venue. Visit YouTube and search under his name along with “Marilyn Monroe.”) Rather, it was Keith Hefner, not Hugh Hefner, who knew Marilyn. They studied acting together in New York at the Actors Studio, under the auspices of Lee Strasberg, who was artistic director there. In 2006 Hef told THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, “I really feel in a fundamental way that American films, especially from the first half of the 20th century, are the best exponent of what we refer to as the American dream.” The films Hef saw in his youth shaped everything he did. CASABLANCA was his favorite, and he would run it for us every year on his birthday, April 9. We all knew it by heart. Everyone in attendance would show up dressed in period costume from the picture. The festive event was celebrated as “CASABLANCA Night.” One year, after Hef had donated yet another $1 million to the UCLA Film and Television Archive in order to support the cause of film preservation, I told Rob Stone as film curator there that a special way to thank him would be to arrange for projection of an original 35mm shimmering nitrate print on his birthday. Nothing compares with seeing a nitrate print, of a classic picture, projected on a silver screen, in a darkened theater, with a respectful audience. That’s all you want. No one anywhere today, however, without special clearance, could screen dangerous, flammable nitrate prints because they have the same chemical composition as gunpowder, and will burn under water. Nitrate fires in movie theaters are why the industry switched to safety film stock around 1950. So this event would be a once in a lifetime opportunity. We took a bus to the UCLA campus in nearby Westwood and the evening turned into a fantastic and unforgettable outing, though Rob remembers it as “one of the most nervous albeit gratifying days of my life.” Hef felt obliged to repay the debt he believed he owed motion pictures. So, starting with the “Sherlock Holmes” feature films, he spent millions financing film preservation at UCLA, Warner Bros., etc., funding academic chairs at USC, underwriting film documentaries, and in separate eras twice paying enormous sums to restore the Hollywood sign. Who does that? Who else in Hollywood gives back that way? And that much? What an example for everyone else. The best times at the Playboy Mansion were not the lavish parties, the big events. The best times were small gatherings for regular movie nights on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Sundays we’d see brand new, and mostly forgettable movies. The rest of the time, old movies, from all genres. Chuck McCann used to sing, “Fridays are better than Sundays.” He was right. But so-called “Manly Night” on Monday was best of all. Hef loved the romantic adventure of the Flash Gordon chapter play serials. We would see those on Mondays. He was partial to old mysteries and musicals, and any version of the “Frankenstein” saga. He liked the better Tarzan pictures (hence the Playboy Mansion was zoned as a zoo, with a wide array of exotic birds and animals all over the five-acre property). And he was partial to Mafia movies, especially THE GODFATHER, and its sequel. We looked at those almost as much as the Charlie Chan pictures: “Touch nothing….You are murderer….Thank you so much.” Twentieth Century-Fox was his favorite movie studio. Boris Karloff and Humphrey Bogart were his two favorite actors. Those never-dull Monday night get-togethers were guys only, and precious few of them. Wonderful fellowship, every time. Grand fun. There would be dinner first, during which classy Mel Torme, “The Velvet Fog,” would break into song or entertain us with show biz patter and stories he remembered in amazing detail. What a talent. Then we would nominate and vote on a selection of primarily Saturday Matinee-type pictures to screen that evening. Hef would conduct the voting. Poor Johnny Crawford would relentlessly nominate early sound musicals or obscure silent films that no one ever voted for. I once nominated (and we watched) the infamous TRIUMPH OF THE WILL, the greatest propaganda film of all time – except that it glorified Nazi Germany. Before the voting, and dead serious now, Ray Anthony inquired as a matter of information, “Who is the heavy in that?” As his dying wish, also dead serious, Don Adams extorted votes for a terrible Robert Mitchum movie called THE YAKUZA. Which died on the screen, and sure enough, shortly after, true to his word, so did Don. Following dinner, but before the movie selection, Robert Culp would toast the room: “Gentlemen, gentlemen, be of good cheer; for they are out there, and we are in here.” Afterwards, Ray Anthony would awake from his nap, there would be the usual lofty dialectic where Chuck McCann would answer questions no one was asking about projection equipment, and of course there would also be the usual teasing, insults, and chicanery. Manly stuff, you know. Plus the late, great Bob Ridgely would prove once more why he was the funniest human being any of us had ever seen or encountered. Cover all bets. Only recently I reminded Hef that he had once stated, and with some emphasis, “I miss Bob Ridgely more than most of the members of my own family.” Sadly the rest of us are left to miss them both, now. When one arrived at the massive gate way down the winding driveway lined with Redwood trees (the largest such grove in Southern California), and spoke to the famous White Rock hoping for admission to this miniature Versailles, this Shangri-La, this private oasis with a Gothic Tudor castle set high up on the hill, it was understood we all left our troubles outside. Right at the gate. Hef disliked conflict among his friends, and when he was between marriages, that included his disapproving of conflict among his posse of girl friends. Especially them. And much as we all loved Hef, he was less interested in you, than he was in your interest in him. First, last, and always, Hef was focused on Hef. So there was no whining and complaining about anything happening outside in the real world, outside those gates. You would speak to the white rock, tell your name, and a disembodied voice from on high would ask, “Come on up, and how are you today, Mr. Bann?” With a smile on my face, the answer never varied: “Fine, now that I’m here.” Any night at the legendary Playboy Mansion was guaranteed to be great. That place represented the living embodiment of PLAYBOY magazine, and it wasn’t part of 20th century mythology for nothing. The books and the stories about him said that from childhood on, Hef never talked on the phone, or at least intensely disliked using the phone. But I would write detailed screening notes for the Friday films, that he delivered out loud, and he would phone me all the time to discuss them. We both spent hours each week on this endeavor, just for fun. During office hours, his executive social secretary, Mary O’Connor, would place the call and say, “Hold for Hef.” Or late at night at any hour past midnight, he would call himself. I’d pick up the phone and he would say, “Little Dickie Bann? Hefner here.” When I failed to show up any evening, especially in the old days, he would phone my home right from the dinner table. Or if I arrived late, he or that trouble maker Ray Anthony would ask, “Where the hell have you been?” Answer was always the same: “If you insist upon knowing, I was in church all day, fasting and praying for the Godless heathens who come here.” Ray would then advise me to get some new material. The books and the stories also say Hef was an atheist. But I was careful to note the few, rare times he spoke of God as though he believed in him. I remember twice having long discussions with Hef and his brother Keith, on the subject. Their parents were quite religious, they were Methodists. Hef complained how he was raised in a Puritanical home. I failed to persuade them that in rejecting religion they might also be rejecting their parents who tried so hard to imbue them with their own deeply held religious values. No, even in their impressionable youths, Hef and Keith worshipped only at the altar of Hollywood make-believe inside the Montclair Theater. Of course I was never going to win any debate or argument with Hugh Hefner. For his 80th birthday party, I concluded my remarks at the podium with a warning from DESIGN FOR LIVING, as spoken by Miriam Hopkins as a running gag throughout the film, “Immorality may be nice, but it’s not worth the price of 100% virtue, and three square meals a day.” Hef laughed and applauded. As he got older, there were health concerns. Yet I never, once, ever heard either Hef or his brother complain, about anything. They were such positive people. Always upbeat, outgoing, cheerful. When Keith was dying of cancer, he never voiced a complaint. As Hef watched his only sibling pass, we never heard any kind of lament, or mourn, or complaint. I thought that was absolutely remarkable. Something else that will surprise many. Hef’s politics. Yes, he voted for Democrats. He was a First Amendment, civil libertarian to be sure. What is also true is that across all of his values, Hugh Hefner was in certain respects a conservative. His inner circle of friends was almost exclusively political conservatives. Sometimes he would come downstairs to dinner with gifts for us, maybe the new issue of PLAYBOY, maybe yet another Hugh Hefner biography, or some product or premium the company was promoting. I don’t collect autographs, but often he would sign these things to his friends. Most of the dedications are too personal to share, or too bawdy, but here is one example. When THE PLAYMATE BOOK was published in 1996, he wrote, “To Dick – I’ll send them by one bus load at a time! From your fearless leader – Hugh M. Hefner.” People just don't know – and propriety forbids me from sharing a lot of it -- but I can't begin to itemize all the reasons why so many of us loved this man, and why some of us were so indebted to this man. He was the kindest, the warmest. So generous, so thoughtful. For everything he gave and provided for his friends, he asked nothing in return. A great man, a self-made man, who lived a great life. Last May we screened a new biographical mini-series which Amazon produced on Hef at age 91, detailing his meteoric rise, his success as a media mogul, but also his efforts on behalf of First Amendment issues, women's rights, civil rights, race relations, how he fought against segregation, etc. When the ten-part series was over, the lights came up, I turned around and asked for his reaction. "I wish I could do it all over again," he said. "It's been a pretty good life." Documentaries on Hef showed the greatness of the man, his philanthropy, the varied humanitarian causes he supported, but you had to know him, personally, to see his relentless generosity, his kindness, his innocence, his shyness, his sincerity, his intense loyalty. Upon my introduction to him, in 1990, I remember that Mary O'Connor, who was his "office wife," really, said of her boss, "How many people could suddenly become a multi-millionaire public figure at age 27, and not at the same time turn into an asshole?" Overwhelmed by phone calls, and e-mails, there has been no time to read any press or media coverage of Hef's passing. I saw a few things briefly on Facebook. Leon Isaac Kennedy posted how Hef, long ago, used to put black entertainers on his TV programs, PLAYBOY’S PENTHOUSE and PLAYBOY AFTER DARK, despite protests from sponsors, especially in the South. Someone chimed in with a negative comment alleging that Hef and his magazine exploited women, and concluded with the charge that “He was no angel.” A beautiful Playmate, Jami Farrell, expressed a beautiful thought in response, arguing that women who actually knew Hugh Hefner would offer a dissenting opinion. She wrote, “No other man has done so much to elevate women. The adventures and memories, our little date in PLAYBOY history next to him – it gets you through a lot of rough spots in life. He brought acceptance to what others condemned: women’s sexual freedom, equality of races, homosexuals, on and on. Angels would do well to follow his lead.” Something else I saw -- I did start to read one tribute in THE BEVERLY HILLS COURIER, and then out of a decades-long habit, before I caught myself, I immediately thought, "Well, I have to clip and save this for Hef." Since childhood, Hef maintained personal scrapbooks documenting his life, thousands of them. “It is a means of coping with mortality,” he reasoned, “or saying, in effect, ‘I was here, and this is what I accomplished.’” I think he has worked on those scrapbooks every day since he was a kid. Well, the real Hugh Hefner, the one I knew, was always a kid at heart. Even at an early age, he knew he was going to do something important in life, and he wanted to save all the evidence of his journey. It was an activity he loved doing, because, once more, first, last and always, Hugh M. Hefner was interested in what “Hef” did. And he wanted his creation of “Hef” to leave lasting marks. Which he did, and how. . Hef always wanted to get hold of everything written and said about him, the good and the bad. He was never bothered by anyone's criticisms. He would laugh that distinctive high-pitched cackle and explain it only proved that he was still relevant in the culture. I was more upset and defensive about the negative press than he was! Which amused him. His first job was with ESQUIRE magazine. About a dozen years ago I hesitated at handing him a piece from ESQUIRE which alleged Hef’s “galloping senility.” He laughed at me! Did not bother him at all. But I wanted to pass out the pistols. “I am by nature a person who manages to make the best of things,” he would explain. “I am an optimist. I look for what is positive in a situation, and block out the rest.” This held true in his relationships as well, which he carefully explained to me only once, out at a club, trying to give advice, and I knew he was revealing something quite private. His thought was to always project the positive outcome he wanted to see in any given situation. Just as he would project whatever he wanted to see in a young lady he was attracted to, and at the same time willfully rejecting anything negative in the relationship. Just block it out. Something else that made me defensive on his behalf. When Viagra was introduced, David Letterman viciously joked that “When Hef dies, they may have difficulty closing the coffin.” That line went over so big with his audience that Letterman used it in his monologue over and over for months. I clipped an item in the NEW YORK POST about it, but hesitated handing the story to Hef. When finally I did so, he laughed as heartily as anyone. He willed the rest out of his mind, pushed it right out of his consciousness – a kind of visualization technique. Living well was the best revenge, he thought, and the narcissism in Hef loved that the public was focused on him, and for any reason whatsoever, good or bad. Right now, of course, the focus is sadly on Hef more than ever. Look at the media explosion surrounding his death. Processing the news, I couldn't be more stunned if North Korea dropped a hydrogen bomb on LAX. The never-ending party at Playboy Mansion West is finally over. I leave for the Lone Pine Film Festival in a couple days, up in the spectacular Eastern Sierra Mountains. Sometimes when I would walk into the mansion dining room wearing Lone Pine garb, friends including Hef would give me grief. “If it wasn’t for Lone Pine,” I would respond with mock indignation, “none of us would be here, including Hef!” In 1971 Hugh Hefner moved to Los Angeles and paid a little over $1 million to set the record for the largest single-family residential sale in the history of California. He consummated his transaction for the estate that would become the Playboy Mansion with industrialist Louis B. Statham, who was leaving to build his dream home…in Lone Pine. I was with the NFL’s Fred Dryer, who also starred in HUNTER, at the home of Kevin Burns, who produced THE GIRLS NEXT DOOR (and so many fine documentaries about PLAYBOY), when word came of Hef’s passing. Soon Kendra Wilkinson – who first gained fame on THE GIRLS NEXT DOOR -- phoned, and she came over, too. The four of us were there until midnight reminiscing, processing what the news meant to us. Between laughing and crying, we tried to make sense of this. Fred said to me, “You and I have now been given the task of finally completing Hef’s never-ending, serialized and leviathan ‘Playboy Philosophy’ in the magazine. It’s really a challenge, but I think we’re up to it.” Hef used to take Dexedrine as a stimulant in order to stay up for days endlessly cranking out installments of “The Playboy Philosophy” for the magazine. He would regularly hand his editors piles of pages. There was never any settled finish to it. Frequent Playboy party guest Bill Maher distilled the whole thing into one sentence: Do whatever makes you happy in life, as long as you don’t hurt anyone. During that evening, as we were commiserating, Kevin phoned Hef’s daughter, Christie, who was about to board a plane in Chicago. Christie has brainpower to rival her father’s. I always liked what Hef said about her when he put his daughter in charge of the business side of his company. “If she did not exist,” Hef said, “our public relations department would have to invent her.” That’s how perfect she was for Playboy. In just a couple months, I have lost three important mentors who greatly influenced my life – Saint Paul film critic and radio personality Bill Diehl; comedian Stan Laurel’s daughter, Lois; and Hugh Hefner, all around the 90-year mark. All severe blows for those of us who cared about them. A lesson learned, however, is that everything in life is a decision. We cannot always control what happens around us, but we can control how we react. Instead of focusing on what we have lost, it is far better to celebrate their lives, and be grateful for the opportunity we had, to, as Hef used to say, "Share the dream." The advice he always gave, to everyone, was “Hold onto your dreams.” He turned his adolescent dreams into reality, and was forever sharing them with his friends. Years ago, in a philosophical mood, Hef was reflecting, and said, “Life is so short. The only thing we really have, that’s really precious, is your time – is the life itself, the hours and the days. There is nothing I could urge anybody to do that would make more sense than to live your life every day at a time; really savor and enjoy it. I was always running like everyone else, we all do it. We think in terms of destination, objectives, accomplishments, etc. And the destination is what? Death. It’s a train trip, and the train is moving very fast. You look out the window, and you don’t see anything….You ought to get off the train, and walk around. “As wild as my dreams were when I was a kid, I could not have imagined the life that I was going to be living. I remain in touch with the boy who dreamed the dreams, and I love that kid. “The single driving force in my life has been looking for that perfect world, where the words to the songs are true, where you are given unquestioning, non-judgmental, total love. I’ve spent my life looking for that world…and it’s been a wonderful adventure.” Again, look at how lucky we were, and how grateful we should be now, to have been part of Hugh Hefner’s life, and in some small way to share in those dreams. Gratitude is the key to happiness. At nearly 96, Ray Anthony is the senior member of Hef's inner circle, and he has long preached a corollary, "Laughter is the best medicine." We should be guided accordingly. There were nights at the dinner table, or in the screening room, when our faces ached from the laughter. Hef was always having everything photographed, everything documented, for his voluminous scrapbooks. More than once he wanted Ray and me to pose for a picture, and each time he would say, “My two best friends.” In truth, his brother Keith was always his best friend. The last words I heard Hef speak, were on a Monday night -- the so-called "Manly Night," with his closest pals around him. After laughing all throughout a great John Barrymore and Carole Lombard comedy, TWENTIETH CENTURY, he waved good night to the seven or eight of us, and he said, leaving the room, "Love…you…all...." -- Richard W. Bann -

Monday, November 2, 2020

Will America Embrace or Reject Fascism in 2020? #ThomHartmann

 Will America Embrace or Reject Fascism in 2020?

Fascists build walls, like they did around East Germany. Donald Trump is building a new, unscalable wall around the White House today, and the Republican party has spent the past four years celebrating a wall on our southern border.

Fascists divide and imprison people based on ideology and race. Trump and the Republicans have put children in cages after tearing them away from their mothers, and built out a private for-profit prison system to hold refugees of color.

Fascists don’t believe in free and fair elections, and Donald Trump and the Republican party have spent years fighting to make it harder for Americans to vote and have their vote counted. Right now, they are launching hundreds of lawsuits and other efforts across our nation to prevent people from voting or to block already-cast votes from being counted.

Fascists support the power of very wealthy people and the corporations that make them rich; after all, the definition of fascism is “the merger of corporate and state interests.“ Trump and the Republican Party have shoveled over 3 trillion dollars to the wealthiest Americans, and work every day to gut protective regulations.

Fascists use threats and intimidation to get their way politically, and Trump and his Republican allies are openly encouraging the American Taliban to harass Democratic politicians and voters on our roads and highways, in our cities, and at our polling places.

Fascist use the power of government to corruptly reward their friends and twist the law to punish their enemies. Trump and the Republicans he’s put in charge of the Justice Department and DHS have openly pursued politically motivated investigations, while giving giant corporations a pass and trying to block prosecutions and convictions of Trump’s criminal cronies.

Fascist pervert the justice systems of their nations by packing their court systems with rightwing ideologues. Trump and the Republicans have spent four years packing our federal court system with often-openly-unqualified rightwing lawyers.

The world is watching, as the Republican Party has spent the last 20 years pushing America in an openly fascistic direction.

Last week, a group of more than 80 of America’s and the world’s top scholars and experts on authoritarianism and fascism wrote an open letter to the American public, saying, “We have seen all of these patterns in our study of the past, and we recognize the signs of a crisis of democracy... We need to turn away from the rule by entrenched elites and return to the rule of law. We must replace the politics of ‘internal enemies’ with a politics of adversaries in a healthy, democratic marketplace of ideas.”

They warn that “[I]f we don’t, we will indeed face dark days ahead.“

It’s a cliché to point out that after the Constitutional Convention in 1787 Ben Franklin said that they had created “a republic, if you can keep it,“ but he was right.


Thom Hartmann

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

God Bless our Veterans and the USPS!

 The next time your neighborhood USPS delivers your mail, please take a moment to thank him or her for their services. I just received my mail at 9:50pm and thankfully my address was the last on his route. He's finishing an 11 hr day and won't receive overtime because that inept, POS postmaster general deliberately made cuts within the USPS and is holding back the mail.

He actually apologized to me for not delivering yesterday and for being so late today. That saddened me right there. I gave him a fist bump and said, Thank you very much for your service and Please do not apologize for something you can't control. I never post anything political on FB, but this pissed me off.

Fyi, my postman served 8 yrs in Afghanistan.
God Bless our Veterans and the USPS!

Friday, September 18, 2020

Abortion here to Stay!

 if Abortion ever becomes illegal, i recommend All Mistresses dating Rich Married Political men, to have that baby and get paid -and All teens to get prego no matter what your rich parents say -lets see how long it takes for it to become legal again

Monday, September 7, 2020


Randi Rhodes Number-one ranked progressive radio talk show host, political commentator, entertainer, and writer. The Randi Rhodes Show was broadcast nationally on Air America Radio, and Premiere Radio Networks from 2004–2014. Rhodes represents aggressively independent media. The Miami Herald described her as "a chain-smoking bottle blonde, part Joan Rivers, part shock jock Howard Stern, and part Saturday Night Live’s ‘Coffee Talk’ Lady. But mostly, she's her rude, crude, loud, brazen, gleeful self." Rhodes and her show won numerous awards for journalism and broadcasting, including Radio Ink’s Most Influential Woman, Radio Ink’s Most Influential Women’s list (multiple years), TALKERS magazine’s Woman of the Year, and the Judy Jarvis Memorial Award for Contributions to the Talk Industry by a Woman.

Everyone knows Louis Dejoy is guilty of high crimes. Pass it on.

Friday, September 4, 2020

So, if "blue lives matter," why does Trump not call out right-wing extremists like boogaloo, white nationalists, and armed militias undertaking vigilante justice?

 So, if "blue lives matter," why does Trump not call out right-wing extremists like boogaloo, white nationalists, and armed militias undertaking vigilante justice?

Air Force Sgt Steven Carrillo used anti-police-brutality peaceful protests as a cover for his own right-wing anti-government criminal activity ... with deadly consequences for law-enforcement officers. From the LA Times:

"Carrillo is accused of spraying bullets across a guard shack May 29 in front of a federal courthouse in Oakland, killing 53-year-old David Patrick Underwood and wounding another official.

"A week after the shooting in Oakland, Carrillo allegedly ambushed sheriff’s deputies in Santa Cruz County who were responding to a report of a van containing firearms and bomb-making materials. Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, 38, was killed and several other law enforcement officials were wounded, according to authorities and court records."

The Trump administration, DOJ, and Congress have been repeatedly warned by homeland security specialists that the greatest threat to US national security comes from domestic terrorism, particularly from white nationalist groups. But now Trump fans the flames and gives his "blessing" and support to such groups, while ignoring the racial injustices that people of color continue to face, and against which there is rising national outrage.

Trump is not a "Law and Order" President; he is a "Chaos and Disorder" President. And apparently there is nothing he won't do to cheat his way into another four years in office.

Each of us has to vote like our life depends on it. Because it does.

Carol Tutzauer

This lovely Seaside small business is now caught in the crossfire. Shameful.

 Seaside Brewing Company



On August 8th a group of armed men and women staged a rally in Seaside, Oregon, directly across from our brewery and brewpub. This rally was political in nature, and many of the participants of this rally were openly carrying loaded AR-15 style assault weapons, sidearms, bats, swords, knives, etc. There was no counter rally or protest at this location. As the rally continued and the honking and noise and activity increased, many families became concerned for their safety and began leaving the area we had created outside in our parking lot, designed to provide a safer environment for people to eat outside with their families during a difficult pandemic summer at the coast. Many of these families remarked they would not be returning again to Seaside because of the assault rifles they were seeing paraded up and down the street. One of these men with an assault rifle in front of our brewery was actually arrested for shooting at protesters in Portland just days later.
As a result of these events, we felt deep concern for the safety of our staff and customers, and at the next city council meeting we voiced those concerns. We did not take a political stance. We believe everyone can believe what they will, and that includes us. We did however, take a stand that we do not think marching through the streets of a small family friendly coastal town with loaded assault rifles is a good idea. It is in fact, an awful idea. Families were terrified, and left. It was proposed by us, that we as a community begin a conversation to figure out how to prevent armed groups from marching in our streets with loaded assault weapons. We asked that the council help us find a way to keep our community safe, our police force and first responders safe, and that we do something quickly to keep the reputation of our small coastal town intact so that families could feel safe when they come here as well.
The next day the local paper wrote an article, detailing parts of that discussion at the council meeting, and almost immediately, the phone and internet threats began pouring in from this group and its supporters. An event was posted by this particular group from the rally threatening us and called for an open carry rally to take place at our brewery this upcoming Sunday in an obvious effort to intimidate, terrorize, and punish the brewery for speaking up for our community's safety and exercising our 1st Amendment rights to free speech. We now are forced to take to the internet and make sure people understand that WE ARE NOT HOSTING THIS EVENT. We contacted Facebook and reported that the event was not ours, but they responded by saying that though they regret that we may have been offended by this event listing us as the location for their rally, it didn't meet their standards for removal. Our response to Facebook will be coming later and it won't be pretty. We did not ask for these groups to come to our brewery or to target us. We didn't target them at the council meeting. We simply asked for help from the city council to help resolve what was CLEARLY becoming a serious problem in our community, namely loaded assault rifles around children and families.
So just in case anybody out there is confused what we are about, let us be clear. We are a community based business. We are an inclusive business. We love all our employees regardless of their race, sexual orientation, gender, or political affiliation. We are NOT ok with racism in any form. We do NOT promote or accept fascism in any form. We ARE conscientious allies of any conversation furthering any productive discussions surrounding racial equality, and reform of any system that does not provide that for every single person in our community. We do not know, or belong to, or speak for any Antifa group. We do not know, belong to, or speak for BLM. We are not gun rights advocates OR opponents of the 2nd amendment. However, we do NOT appreciate nor will we accept, or remain silent, or be intimidated or terrorized by groups with guns or other weapons in our community. We reject any characterizations to the contrary these groups may try to paint us with.
We brew beer, we smoke BBQ, we promote our amazing community, we love the beach, and we are excellent to each other. We don't know what this rally will look like on Sunday. We ask that everyone do everything they can to stay safe, and to avoid any confrontation with these groups who are clearly looking for a fight. We refuse to buy into the anger. As Americans, we have always had a rich history of spirited debate and dialogue with each other. It's part of who we are. We should be able to yell at each other, stand across the street and shout, get nose to nose, hug it out, argue with each other some more, and find a way to love each other at the end of it all, without making each other fear for our lives or safety. None of those things are possible when loaded assault rifles and other weapons are involved in that exchange. An exchange that helps define what we need to do to move the ball forward as a community, and helps strengthen and support the foundations of our democracy through conversation, and subsequently, understanding of each other. Let's keep the dialogue going. Let's leave the guns at home. Let's not hurt each other. And let's remember that community is all we have, and remember that the definition of community means ALL of us. All we want is for us to have a safe place where good people can gather and have a pint of really good beer and good food and be able to connect with each other. That's it. That is all. If you can get down with that, we can provide the space. If you can't, pick somewhere else to go, and let us drink our beer in peace.
Everybody take a breath. Everybody remember that we all need each other, especially right now at this point in our history as a nation, and that we all want the same thing... Safety and opportunity for our families, our friends, and ourselves. Don't let them divide us. Put the guns down. Grab a beer. Let's talk.

Jimmy Griffin
Seaside Brewery

17yr old kids - similar stories, different outcome - WHY? READ ON......

 Image may contain: one or more people and people standing

Carol Tutzauer

UPDATE: Author identified (Ryan Douglas). Thanks, Ryan, for the great words. Original link provided at end of this post.

“Y’all called Trayvon Martin a criminal and said he shouldn’t have fought back. Y’all said he shouldn’t have been out that his parent’s fucking neighborhood. Y’all called him a thug.

Y’all said Tamir Rice shouldn’t have been playing with a toy gun. Y’all said he shouldn’t have been at the park alone...forgetting that MOST of OUR childhoods were spent playing in various places without adult supervision.

Y’all said Ahmaud Arbery shouldn’t have been in that neighborhood, shouldn’t have been in the construction site. Y’all said he should have complied with the men who literally ran him down like a dog and murdered him in the street.

Y’all said Breonna Taylor shouldn’t have known the man that police were looking for, the same man they already had. Y’all said her boyfriend shouldn’t have fired shots after their door was busted down in the middle of the night with no indication who was coming into their house.

Y’all said Amber Guyger was justifiably scared when she went into the wrong apartment and murdered Botham Jean.

Y’all said George Floyd deserved to die for past crimes that he already served his sentences for.

Y’all said Philando Castile shouldn’t have had the gun that he legally purchased, carried, and informed the officer of when that officer told him to reach for his ID and then murdered him.

When the Central Park 5 maintained their innocence, y’all said they were obviously guilty. When the man who would become the President demanded they remain in jail AFTER they were exonerated, y’all applauded him.

Every time a black man, woman, or child dies at the hand of some bitch trigger happy cop or some asshole piece of shit white person, y’all will extrapolate, insinuate, and justify as much as you can why that person should be dead. Y’all will place the blame on the victim and exonerate the murderer.

But when a 17 year old kid crosses state lines with a weapon he is not legal to possess, intentionally places himself within the protest, shoots someone, runs away, and then shoots two more people who attempted to subdue him for shooting the first person, then walks calmly right by police, and goes back home to another state after taking someone’s life, y’all call him a hero. Y’all say he did nothing wrong. Y’all say it was self defense. Even though HE illegally crossed state lines with a weapon, even though HE intentionally went looking for trouble, even though HE fully intended to pull the trigger, y’all are willing to defend him.

Y’all never said he should have complied with the people chasing him, like you said about Ahmaud Arbery. Y’all never said he shouldn’t have been there, like you did about Tamir Rice and Trayvon Martin. Y’all never said he shouldn’t have had a gun, like you did about Philando Castile.

This is why we say Black Lives Matter. This is why we take to the street and demand accountability. We never said other lives didn’t also matter. We said our lives don’t matter to you. Because they don’t. Y’all prove that every day. Y’all reinforce it every time you defend a murderer. Y’all make it widely known that when the black life is lost, they somehow deserved it. Y’all are quick to invoke abortion, but you don’t even care about the black lives that are already here, standing right next to you, let alone the ones yet to be born into a society that applauds the murder of black lives.

All my life, I have had to watch black men and women be profiled, harassed, beaten, unjustly arrested/incarcerated, and murdered, much of it on live tv. I have had to listen to/see white people all around me justify the continuous murder of black lives at the hand of callous and cowardly white people, police and civilian alike. I have had to restrain myself when I’m told that we should just comply, because y’all refuse to see and understand that whether we are innocent or guilty, whether we comply or not, our lives are forfeit and we are condemned.

Our blackness is an automatic target from the day we are born. And yet we are regularly told how much America has changed. We are regularly told how racism isn’t that big a problem...while actively being subjected to it. We are regularly told, by people who have never experienced it, who have never been subjected to it, who have never had to fight against it, that it isn’t real. And then we are told to trust and respect the same people who display it against us.

We are supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. We are supposed to have the right to due process. But the repeated murders of unarmed black lives by police and the subsequent justification in the court of public opinion proves that we are not privy to those rights. Kyle Rittenhouse will live to see his trial. He will be protected. He will get adequate legal defense for the crimes he stands accused of. Eric Garner didn’t. George Floyd didn’t. Philando Castile didn’t. Sandra bland didn’t. So many others didn’t. Too many others didn’t. Many more wont.

If you have never had to discuss with the mother of your mixed child how sadly glad you are that your son has more of her physical features than your own, so that he will not have that target on his back in this society, then you have zero room to speak to me on racial issues.

I do not say this for debate. I will not debate it. I will not answer any ignorant ass questions demanding an explanation of my words or experiences. They are clear enough and if you cannot understand them, then you are part of the problem. I will not expend what little energy I have left repeatedly explaining the same things over and over again to people who only seek to discredit black lives.

We fought a whole civil war and had a whole civil rights movement and the sad fact of the matter is that this country is the same as it ever was. It just hides its true face better.”

Original post link:…

Sunday, August 30, 2020

“This is what I wore to work today. On my way to get a burrito before work, I was detained by the police.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, beard, shoes and indoor

 Jim Trainer

“This is what I wore to work today. On my way to get a burrito before work, I was detained by the police.

I noticed the police car in the public lot behind Centre Street. As I was walking away from my car, the cruiser followed me. I walked down Centre Street and was about to cross over to the burrito place and the officer got out of the car.

"Hey my man," he said.

He unsnapped the holster of his gun.

I took my hands out of my pockets.

"Yes?" I said.

"Where you coming from?"


Where's home?"


How'd you get here?"

"I drove."

He was next to me now. Two other police cars pulled up. I was standing in from of the bank across the street from the burrito place. I was going to get lunch before I taught my 1:30 class. There were cops all around me.

I said nothing. I looked at the officer who addressed me. He was white, stocky, bearded.

"You weren't over there, were you?" He pointed down Centre Street toward Hyde Square.

"No. I came from Dedham."

"What's your address?"

I told him.

"We had someone matching your description just try to break into a woman's house."

A second police officer stood next to me; white, tall, bearded. Two police cruisers passed and would continue to circle the block for the 35 minutes I was standing across the street from the burrito place.

"You fit the description," the officer said. "Black male, knit hat, puffy coat. Do you have identification."

"It's in my wallet. May I reach into my pocket and get my wallet?"


I handed him my license. I told him it did not have my current address. He walked over to a police car. The other cop, taller, wearing sunglasses, told me that I fit the description of someone who broke into a woman's house. Right down to the knit cap.

Barbara Sullivan made a knit cap for me. She knitted it in pinks and browns and blues and oranges and lime green. No one has a hat like this. It doesn't fit any description that anyone would have. I looked at the second cop. I clasped my hands in front of me to stop them from shaking.

"For the record," I said to the second cop, "I'm not a criminal. I'm a college professor." I was wearing my faculty ID around my neck, clearly visible with my photo.

"You fit the description so we just have to check it out." The first cop returned and handed me my license.

"We have the victim and we need her to take a look at you to see if you are the person."

It was at this moment that I knew that I was probably going to die. I am not being dramatic when I say this. I was not going to get into a police car. I was not going to present myself to some victim. I was not going let someone tell the cops that I was not guilty when I already told them that I had nothing to do with any robbery. I was not going to let them take me anywhere because if they did, the chance I was going to be accused of something I did not do rose exponentially. I knew this in my heart. I was not going anywhere with these cops and I was not going to let some white woman decide whether or not I was a criminal, especially after I told them that I was not a criminal. This meant that I was going to resist arrest. This meant that I was not going to let the police put their hands on me.

If you are wondering why people don't go with the police, I hope this explains it for you.

Something weird happens when you are on the street being detained by the police. People look at you like you are a criminal. The police are detaining you so clearly you must have done something, otherwise they wouldn't have you. No one made eye contact with me. I was hoping that someone I knew would walk down the street or come out of one of the shops or get off the 39 bus or come out of JP Licks and say to these cops, "That's Steve Locke. What the FUCK are you detaining him for?"

The cops decided that they would bring the victim to come view me on the street. The asked me to wait. I said nothing. I stood still.

"Thanks for cooperating," the second cop said. "This is probably nothing, but it's our job and you do fit the description. 5' 11", black male. One-hundred-and-sixty pounds, but you're a little more than that. Knit hat."

A little more than 160. Thanks for that, I thought.

An older white woman walked behind me and up to the second cop. She turned and looked at me and then back at him. "You guys sure are busy today."

I noticed a black woman further down the block. She was small and concerned. She was watching what was going on. I focused on her red coat. I slowed my breathing. I looked at her from time to time.

I thought: Don't leave, sister. Please don't leave.

The first cop said, "Where do you teach?"

"Massachusetts College of Art and Design." I tugged at the lanyard that had my ID.

"How long you been teaching there?"

"Thirteen years."

We stood in silence for about 10 more minutes.

An unmarked police car pulled up. The first cop went over to talk to the driver. The driver kept looking at me as the cop spoke to him. I looked directly at the driver. He got out of the car.

"I'm Detective Cardoza. I appreciate your cooperation."

I said nothing.

"I'm sure these officers told you what is going on?"

"They did."

"Where are you coming from?"

"From my home in Dedham."

"How did you get here?"

"I drove."

"Where is your car?"

"It's in the lot behind Bukhara." I pointed up Centre Street.

"Okay," the detective said. "We're going to let you go. Do you have a car key you can show me?"

"Yes," I said. "I'm going to reach into my pocket and pull out my car key."


I showed him the key to my car.

The cops thanked me for my cooperation. I nodded and turned to go.

"Sorry for screwing up your lunch break," the second cop said.

I walked back toward my car, away from the burrito place. I saw the woman in red.

"Thank you," I said to her. "Thank you for staying."

"Are you ok?" She said. Her small beautiful face was lined with concern.

"Not really. I'm really shook up. And I have to get to work."

"I knew something was wrong. I was watching the whole thing. The way they are treating us now, you have to watch them. "

"I'm so grateful you were there. I kept thinking to myself, 'Don't leave, sister.' May I give you a hug?"

"Yes," she said. She held me as I shook. "Are you sure you are ok?"

"No I'm not. I'm going to have a good cry in my car. I have to go teach."

"You're at MassArt. My friend is at MassArt."

"What's your name?" She told me. I realized we were Facebook friends. I told her this.

"I'll check in with you on Facebook," she said.

I put my head down and walked to my car.

My colleague was in our shared office and she was able to calm me down. I had about 45 minutes until my class began and I had to teach. I forgot the lesson I had planned. I forget the schedule. I couldn't think about how to do my job. I thought about the fact my word counted for nothing, they didn't believe that I wasn't a criminal. They had to find out. My word was not enough for them. My ID was not enough for them. My handmade one-of-a-kind knit hat was an object of suspicion. My Ralph Lauren quilted blazer was only a "puffy coat." That white woman could just walk up to a cop and talk about me like I was an object for regard. I wanted to go back and spit in their faces. The cops were probably deeply satisfied with how they handled the interaction, how they didn't escalate the situation, how they were respectful and polite.

I imagined sitting in the back of a police car while a white woman decides if I am a criminal or not. If I looked guilty being detained by the cops imagine how vile I become sitting in a cruiser? I knew I could not let that happen to me. I knew if that were to happen, I would be dead.

Nothing I am, nothing I do, nothing I have means anything because I fit the description.

I had to confess to my students that I was a bit out of it today and I asked them to bear with me. I had to teach.

After class I was supposed to go to the openings for First Friday. I went home.”
-Steve Locke

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Sheep in Wolfe Clothing - don`t buy the hype!

 Funny to see a fellow fetish producer who i called my friend for over 20years - told him my deepest/darkest/emotional/vulnerable troubles - now he having another tantrum online about his marriages/relationships/career woes - mirroring many of my own that i confided in him with - only for him to become a 'marriage meddler' - be a warrior for my troubled ex - to help my ex battle in divorce court against me - but before that meddle in my marriage and make things worse for me as i was trying hard to salvage my marriage --- this fetish producer who is claiming his honesty --- threatened my life in many way, he even posted violent videos, photos, posts of women being abused stating how sad if this happens to me, etc  - threatened my job, by contacting my boss to have me fired - he threatened my home, by contacting my property management to get me kicked out - threatened to get between me and Fetishcon by trying to get me to sell the domain - threatened my youtube and social media by flagging videos and bringing it to the attention of my soon to be ex husbands lawyer - creating MANY online accounts to bash me, bully me, threaten me, intimidate me, smearing my reputation - he recruited his friends to do all of the mentioned to me as well ----- i never warranted or expected this from him, i was blindside - he helped my ex-husband in his attempt to destroy me in all ways possible, physically, mentally, financially, forever ---- ALL IN SEALED DIVORCE DOCUMENTS AS PROOF FOREVER!! -  i did NOTHING to him but be his friend and introduce him to my then husband --- he still comes to my door --- he still attempts to hang out with my friends and neighbors --- he makes fun and is very condescending to women and other fetish producers, who he feels are below him -  i cry no tears for him -- i see right thru him - he is NOT honest, as he protest he is - he is what he calls others - a victim of himself -- projection - he don`t fool me - no wool over these eyes ever again - a sheep in 'Wolfe' clothing he is!