DEYAN RANKO BRASHICH was born in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia, and is an Op-Ed columnist for Connecticut's Litchfield County Times.  He writes the monthly Letter From America column for Romania’s Scrisul Romanesc, a literary magazine and is the Editor-at-Large for  The Country and Abroad, another literary/art magazine where he authors the Dispatch from Abroad column. He is a frequent contributor to Pecat, the Belgrade, Serbia weekly news magazine, Britić, a magazine published in the United Kingdom, Ekurd Daily, a multinational Kurdish news portal and Passport, a lifestyle quarterly. He resides in New York City and Washington, Connecticut.

 

 

Past Entries
Media
Wednesday
Mar282012

CANADA, LAND OF THE FREE, HOME OF THE BRAVE AND SEX

Why is Canada always one step ahead of us? Canucks have universal health care, we do not. Canadians can smoke pot to their heart’s content, we can’t. We send troops to do and die in Iraq, Canada refuses. We have same sex marriages in some states, not in others. For Canada this is a non-issue. We spend billions on jet planes to protect us from enemies who are riding donkeys or driving pick-ups. Canada refuses to do so. We spend millions enforcing prostitution laws, staging elaborate stings with hapless johns arrested, their names published in the local papers to shame and ridicule. Canada does not. Prostitution is legal in Canada, didn’t you know?

A Canadian court has just issued a ruling striking down most of Canada’s laws that hindered the free practice of the world’s oldest profession, prostitution. The New York Times, March 27, 2012. Well done Canada, about time.

Only in Nevada, in the middle of nowhere, can you find a legal prostitute or brothel in the United States. Why, one asks. Go to any city or town and you will find “massage parlors” and “spas” catering to the sex trade. They can be found in many suburban strip malls, pun intended. Open the Yellow Pages and you will be confronted by pages of ads for “escort services”. Craig’s List, AshleyMadison.com, the Village Voice’s “backpage.com”, “myrebook.com”, Facebook and untold others ply the internet peddling sex. Why deny it?

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Wednesday
Mar282012

REQUIEM FOR A ONCE CULTURAL HEAVYWEIGHT

 

Television is about to die, in its death throes overwhelmed by more electronic innovations and devices that you can shake a stick at, or click a remote at. In New York we have FiOS™, TiVo©, Netflix ™, Blu-Ray™, Qwikster©, Wirefly™ and God knows what else. Every day brings an announcement of something new, another alternative to TV, and another nail in TV’s coffin.

One can quibble about the exact dates of television’s birth and death. The exact dates aren’t that important. The dates that do matter are when television had a cultural impact, good or bad, and shaped society’s perception of itself. So I have arbitrarily decided that television’s lifespan to be 1950-2015. With that in mind, it is just and proper that that we start preparing the inevitable obituary for publication.

Television came hard on the heels of that earlier phenomenon the radio. Radio was two dimensional and try as it might it could never compete with three dimensional entertainment, the movies and the theatre. It had promise but perhaps the promise was still born with the advent of television. With just sound and imagination Orson Wells’ War of Worlds made history. Without pictures, with just sound and imagination the yarn he spun over the airways was as gripping and believable. But once television made the scene, radio was relegated to news, sports, music and the occasional talk show.

Initially television was elitist. The cost of the receiver, that big picture tube in the mahogany cabinet, was high. By the eve of the WW II there were only 22,000 licensed sets in all of Britain. In the early days Britain’s BBC had a lineup of shows that catered to the educated and the affluent. In the United States television stations were small stake gambles in local markets with little regulation. With the advent of national networks, NBC, CBS, ABC, television came into its golden age.

Money was no object; advertising dollars flowed to amuse the well do audience. Arthur Miller wrote as did Paddy Chayefsky. Marty, Network, The Bachelor Party were first broadcast on TV. John Frankenheimer directed Playhouse 90. Leonard Bernstein and Arturo Toscanini performed. Tchaikovsky’s ballets The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker aired, as did Cyrano de Bergerac. An opera specially composed for television, Amahl and the Night Visitors premiered.  

TV’s became affordable then cheap. Advertisers were no longer seeking to court the well to do, but the masses. Audience share became the name of the game. The age of the serial, westerns, situation comedies, police dramas and game shows had arrived. But do not underestimate their cultural impact. “Just the facts, ma’m” “Are we there yet?” “You have the right to remain silent” “How sweet it is” all became part of the American vernacular.

Now American broadcast television has been relegated to the dustbin once reserved for radio. Inane sport programs dominate as do reruns of once popular shows. Networks can no longer afford the budgets needed for innovative programing. That is now the domain of cable television and pay per view audiences. European television is following a like path with football a mainstay. Berlusconi has decreed that Italian programing is populated by his generously endowed mistresses and would be mistresses. Germany airs soft porn in the evenings. The beginning of the end.  Sic Transit Gloria Mundi. Requiem in Pace TV.

           

           

Friday
Mar232012

THE DRAFT IN TIMES OF PEACE AND WAR

The attendant horrors of war were brought home once again by the cold blooded murder of seventeen Afghan civilians by Staff Sergeant Robert Bales last week. The poor bastard was on his 1,195th day of his four long deployments in a war against an ill-defined enemy armed with improvised explosive devices doing its best to kill you. No wonder he snapped, but it wouldn’t have happened had we had reinstated the draft. 

When war was raging in Vietnam, I dodged the draft. Unlike George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, who gamed the system by finding safe harbor in the National Guard or using multiple questionable deferments, my dodge was based on the luck of the draw, the lottery. But I did not skate home totally scot free. I participated in a small way: I served as the Chairman of a local Selective Service Board so the burden and danger of service was always before me, while I safely sat the war out.

Once we “won” the Vietnam War, the draft fell victim to peace. In 1981 the Joint Chiefs of Staff convinced the President to reverse an earlier decision reinstituting the draft. The all-volunteer peacetime force was all that America needed in the absence of war. What a crock of shit. I invite you to access Timeline of United States Military Operations compiled by the Committee on Foreign Affairs @

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_United_States_military_operations#1980.E2.80.931989

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Thursday
Mar082012

ALL THEM FAMILY GUYS

"Boy, the way Glen Miller played, Songs that made the Hit Parade. Guys like us we had it made, Those were the days.
And you knew who you were then, Girls were girls and men were men, Mister we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again.
Didn't need no welfare state, Everybody pulled his weight. Gee, our old LaSalle ran great. Those were the days."

                                                                                              All in the Family      TV Sitcom 1971  

"It seems today, that all you see is violence in movies, and sex on T.V.
But where are those good old fashion values....On which we used to rely?
Lucky there’s a Family Guy! Lucky there’s a man who, positively can do, all the things that make us... laugh and cry! He's a Family Guy!"

                                                                                            Family Guy     TV Cartoon Sitcom 1999

Archie Bunker lived in Astoria, Queens, New York with his wife Edith, their daughter Gloria and the dumb Polack son-in-law Mike Stivic. Archie was the guy who espoused family values and derided the “welfare state”. He made fun of “Meathead”, his son in law who was struggling to finish college. “What a snob” is what Rick Santorum would have said, had he been around. Of course Mike’s “I just thank God I’m an atheist” ran afoul of Archie’s firmly held belief that “God don’t make no mistakes, that’s how He got to be God”. Archie had his take on the Obama health care of the day “Free treatment for VD. VD. Do you know what that means, Edith?” For him the Bill of Rights didn’t amount to a hill of beans, “Don’t bother the U.S. of A. Government with the Constitution” he said.  Minorities, that is everyone but him, were viewed with jaundiced eyes. “I’m gonna go into town and get me a good Jew lawyer. Because … I’m going to sue an ‘A-rab’...”                

Then along came Family Guy’s Peter and Lois Griffin living in Quahog, Rhode Island, a cartoon sitcom still enjoying re-runs, but, oh what a difference thirty years make. All that Archie believed was now fair game and in play. Nothing was sacred.

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Thursday
Mar012012

IT'S A CRIME BUT IS IT ART

If you haven’t noticed art is no longer just art, it never was; it’s a multi-million, multi-national business stretching from New York, to London, to St. Petersburg all the way to Tokyo, with a major stop in Dubai. As in any business where millions of Dollars and Euros are being thrown around like so much pocket change, greed and crime are bound to make the scene and prey on the both the cognoscenti and the rubes. “There is nothing more beautiful than a frog in flight, except for Greed” is something that Mark Twain would have said. A non sequitur that makes sense in the surreal world of art.

Today naked greed has brought on a criminal FBI investigation, charges of fraud and forgery which have unwittingly raised that age old question “What is Art?”

New York’s art industry, for that is what it is, is found on posh old money Madison Avenue nestled among museums and in SoHo [South of Houston Street] in the trendy Meat Packing District competing for Wall Street and dot.com new money. On 70th Street, just off Madison Avenue, around the corner from Fifth Avenue’s Frick Collection, sits an imposing Italian Renaissance Palazzo that until recently housed the Knoedler Gallery.

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