Crane's Corner: 7-28-21 The Lives of the Rich and Interviewed
The death of Jackie Mason, maybe the last of a generation of the so called Borscht Belt comics, brought to mind one funny story and triggered a celebrity headcount. Working on air since 1980, running into or interviewing celebrities is depending on one's point of view, one of the perks of the job or an occupational hazard, Sometimes the rich and famous were in the news, sometimes they were the news, but most of the time, they were pitching a book, hawking a product or otherwise looking to expand their place in the celebrity pecking order. In some cases I worked with them, or found myself sitting right next to them on an airplane.First, the Jackie Mason story. It was probably 15 years ago. We were taking in a Broadway show and went to pre pre-theatre dinner at Rene Pujol, one of the great NY restaurants, now closed. Mason and his entourage were at an adjoining table. I always try to give them their privacy, especially in a restaurant. My friend Bob did everything but throw a dinner roll at Mason, as if to say--”I know you. You’re famous”. Mason picked up on it and invited us to come over. As my friend babbled some of Mason’s well known lines, Mason said “Hold on here. What do you guys do?” As Bob was too starstruck to reply I told Mason I was a Correspondent for CBS News, a few seconds later Bob disclosed he was a Mortgage broker for a major bank. “Oh,” Mason shot back, ``one of you’s a liar and the other’s a thief.We all laughed, then left Mason for his dinner.Word of his passing at 93 got me thinking about that list of the well known. Bill Murray sat next to us in a restaurant and had us laughing through 3 courses. At a bar in Montauk NY Billy Joel asked us if we’d seen Paul Simon. 20 minutes after he left, Simon came in looking for the Piano Man. Alec Baldwin was a regular at the church we used to attend on Eastern Long Island. When he had his tax problems I got to interview Willie Nelson on his tour bus Honeysuckle Rose, which could have been called Willie’s Weed Ride. The smell was that thick.I sat next to actor EG Marshall, former Vice President Lloyd Bentsen and Baseball great Ralph Kiner. Before I had a chance to chat, all 3 were asleep before take off, although I think Bentsen was faking it. Lots of politicians were part of the job, I traveled with Bob Dole and Pat Buchanan and another White House wanna be named Jerry Brown. Ran into Jack Kemp at LaGuardia Airport, he was a mad man, running along with Bob Dole in a campaign Kemp knew was doomed to failure. Football’s Tiki Barber was a colleague at WCBS TV one off season, and there were interviews with Boomer Esiasson, and Mike Ditka, who was hawking Scott TP as the brand to use at Halftime of one Super Bowl. Keith Hernandez, Rusty Staub and Bud Harrelson came my way, a treat as a Mets fan. Sportscasters Vin Scully, Harry Kalas and Tim Mc Carver are on my good guys list. I got yelled at by two guys who made it part of their day to day routine--Tommy La Sorda and Bobby Knight. I spent a rain delay at Wrigley Field watching Jack Buck throw down Press Room Hot Dogs. During my rookie year in Chicago, I interviewed Bob Hope, Jesse Jackson, Bob Vila and an adult actress named Marilyn Chambers, the latter by request of an oversexed boss who caught her act at a local strip club. Diet Dr. Nathan Pritikin seemed to be miserable when I interviewed him and I guess he was. He killed himself a couple of months later. I found myself on a runway with Clint Eastwood early one morning in Monterey, as we waited for Pope John Paul. Eastwood, then Mayor of Carmel smiled when I asked him if he was doing an action film called Dirty Harry Meets The Pope.And there were plenty more over the years...more at www.edcranescorner.com/blog-page/
29 Jul 2021
Crane's Corner: 7-27-21 The Golden Fleece
From Gavin Newsom to Joe Biden, even back to Donald Trump, pandemic related stimulus, payroll protection and unemployment payouts have been so hefty most of us have forgotten how much the state and federal governments fleece us when pathogens from the Far East aren’t trying to kill us or our economy.I started to think about this a few weeks back, when the state of California invited me to pay $410 dollars for the privilege of legally driving a Subaru Outback for another 12 months. I’m getting fleeced on two counts. First, the fee is absurd and second, it’s my wife’s car and I only get to drive it when she needs gas, a car wash or if we’re traveling on roads she doesn’t care for and only on weekends.Now NY is no bargain, but when I last registered a car there it cost $32.50. 13 years later it’s up to $52, but that beats $410. Of course having registered the car I’ll need to put gasoline in from time to time. A gallon is now more or less 4 bucks per gallon. Of that, we were paying 80 cents in state and federal taxes and another 38 cents for assorted fees, a whopping 1.18 per gallon. Highest in the country.I don’t smoke but if I did I would try to buy my cigarettes out of state. In California, a pack is taxed at $2.87 per pack. Bad as that is, 20 states charge more. In Evanston Illinois, just north of Chicago the tax rate is $7.16 per pack, which might explain why convenience stores keep getting robbed.Got a job with a W2 paycheck? Here’s where it gets really ugly. For most of us, the federal tax bite is between 20 and 27 percent. Let’s call it 25 percent on average. Add the state tax bite of around 8 percent and the social security withholding of 6 point 2 percent. Add it up, you’re being taxed roughly 40 percent of your wages, which puts your buying and savings power at just 60 percent of what you earn. And when you do spend what's left, you’ll pay sales tax of between 7 and 9 percent. More for gas and tobacco. Your actual after tax earnings are down to about 50 percent. Depending on the skill of your CPA or your personal level of larceny, you may get some of it back. And of course when you invest any of your taxes to the max earnings, any money you make on stocks or bonds or bitcoin is also taxed.The Great California taxpayer revolt happened 42 years ago. Might be time for another one.
29 Jul 2021
Crane's Corner: 7-22-21 Ad Nausea
It’s a funny society we live in. Say the wrong word, express the wrong thought, deviate from the politically correct program and you could lose a friend or a job or a career. These cultural censors seem to be everywhere. But on television these days, it seems anything goes. Now if a program offends me--and it takes a lot to offend me, I’ll change the channel. I don’t have that option with commercials, because you never know what's coming. One Sunday morning, the TV was tuned to the Food Network, normally a pretty safe channel to watch while sitting down to breakfast. But what comes on a commercial featuring a bunch of women sitting on a commode, discussing what they do on a commode and how the process is helped along by some probiotic. Now, I suppose the company that makes the product does need to get the word out. But does it have to be so disgustingly obvious, and on a food show at breakfast time on a Sunday Morning. That’s just one of the culprits which I’ll file under T-M-I TV. There’s the commercial about the literal flow chart---mapping out for all of us...the appropriate tampon to use depending on what time of the month mother nature does what she does to women of a certain age. Isn’t this something they could figure out by privately reading the labels on the various boxes in the personal products aisle of Target or wherever women buy these products. Then there’s the annoying Charmin Bears scratching their bare behinds while advising us to enjoy the go. There’s a special razor for women with stubborn coarse hair in their most private areas and while you’re sitting down to dinner, they’re treating you to a close up of just how well it works. Last night, we were treated to some blonde guy in his boxer briefs suggestively riding a fake horse followed by a bunch of Plus Size ladies in bras and panties. Revenge of the non centerfolds. If commercials aren’t disgusting us they’re just inane, Like Granny shopping for a man online with her grandson.and that handsome dude..Granny swears he’s a 9--almost gets washed away by spilled soda pop..before a paper towel comes to the rescue. Or Eugene Levy knocking on his daughter’s door at 4AM...to tell her how to shop for a car..but settling for french toast… If they’re not turning our stomach, they’re insulting our intelligence. I’m not a prude or a censor but enough is enough. Subtle sales and good taste will prevail. That's the way it’s always been. Until now.
23 Jul 2021
Crane's Corner: 7-21-21 Newsom's a Nuisance
Unlike some people I know, and a growing number of Californians I have not been hell bent on recalling Gavin Newsom as Governor. He’s a show boat, he’s hopelessly liberal and yes during the pandemic he overstepped his authority with a 15 month state of emergency, which gave him the juice to make some really questionable decisions. Like closing schools, churches and small businesses to in theory halt the pandemic, while allowing grocery stores, big box stores, liquor stores and select businesses with lots of foot traffic to stay open, in theory spreading Co Vid. I wasn’t hell bent on recalling the Governor because the state is mega blue and the odds were that another left leaning idiot would take over, so why waste the energy? But no democrats have dared jump on the recall carousel and the odds of a recall measure passing, once extremely unlikely, are now unlikely but not impossible. As each day goes by Newsom is throwing money at some group of some program that is blatantly a suck up effort to buy the support of certain Californians, and that is irritating, What he did the other day was somewhere between stupid and dangerous.In announcing he would spend 12 billion more dollars on the seemingly endless pot of tax dollars on the seemingly unsolvable homeless problem in California, Newsom at news conference started babbling about the California dream, saying it’s not over, and that California is such a warm, caring place he invited homeless people from all over the country to come to California to be taken care of,This wasn’t one of these tiresome political sports wagers, where the Governor bets some Crabs and wine against 10 pounds of barbecue that the 49ers will beat the Kansas City Chiefs in The Big game. This is the Governors mouth and ego writing checks he can’t cash. It’s insane. For starters, California has arguably had the worst homeless problem of any state for years. An estimated 151 thousand on the streets of Sacramento, LA, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose. But you’ll find some in Roseville and Rancho and Stockton. And the numbers keep growing. So it’s ludicrous that California with 20 percent of the nation's homeless can adequately house and feed the other 80 percent, some 416 thousand.For starters, the cost of housing is among the biggest factors in why people become homeless, and California has the highest costs in the country and Newsom’s done little to change that except to extend a pandemic related rent moratorium that will only leave more people homeless when it expires. Inflation has hit California as hard as anywhere else in the country, squeezing the budgets of low and so called middle class wage earners, who have to choose between making the rent or buying groceries and living paycheck to paycheck and one big expense away from disaster.Charity begins at home, and if we can fix our massive homeless problem that would be huge, but until we do the idea of exacerbating the problem by importing the homeless is reckless and moronic. And yes, worthy of a recall.
22 Jul 2021
Most Popular Podcasts
Episode 7: House of Oliver's Matt Oliver shares pandemic experience...and more.
First it was the "Rebel Restaurant in Roseville" that wouldn't stay closed, risked fines and license challenges but stood by their beliefs that, done properly, dining in was safer than shopping at Costco or Home Depot. Today, now that things have opened up a bit, Matt Oliver, owner of House of Oliver's has doubled down on post pandemic food and entertainment experiences and opened his second location in Lincoln to a most unique community. Called Oliver's Brewhouse and Grill, it's an impressive facility to begin with but not without its' own pandemic stories, including a most unfortunate tragedy earlier in the year. Enjoy our discussion as Matt shares stories of support from both the community and the his own team, as well as the welcoming environment he's found in Lincoln. I think you'll agree, you'll want to make a trip out to a special place in a special town when you're done with this episode. For more information on Matt's restaurants, visit www.https://www.oliversbrewhouseandgrill.com or www.houseofoliver.com
22 Jul 2021
Crane's Corner: 7-20-21 Back to Basics
California is beautiful. Scoot down Highway 1, drive around Tahoe, even a trek through the farmlands of the central valley, seeing the black soil in contrast to the fresh green produce popping up to the surface can be spectacular. Then there are the lush vineyards of Napa, Sonoma, Amador and El Dorado. Our state is blessed by Mother Nature.But hold on a minute. Despite that embarrassment of agricultural riches many people are going hungry or getting food but the wrong kind. The term being used now is food insecurity. Farm to Fork is a nice slogan, but for thousands in the Sacramento Region alone--that connection isn’t being completed. The local hunger problem was bad in 2019. Since the Pandemic hit in 2020---is worsened. The Sacramento Food Bank, which distributes healthy food packages to 8 locations around the region, says it was feeding 150 thousand people a month before Co Vid came calling. Now the number has doubled to 300 thousand. According to The Sacramento Bee, food insecurity has not just been a problem for the homeless or the chronically jobless. People who have jobs--in some cases two income households, earn too much to qualify for California Fresh, the state's nutritional assistance program, but not enough when rent, fuel, transportation and other expenses are factored in. As we’ve talked about in this space and seen first hand, it’s only going to get worse with grocery and gasoline prices soaring and even used car prices prohibitive. A sudden medical or car repair bill only gets worse. Harried families who can’t get a good meal on the table each night often opt for fast food dinners, which offer too many of the wrong kind of calories and these days don’t offer a lot of bang for the buck as they once did. Fortunately many school children in poorer neighborhoods are entitled to a free lunch, usually their most nutritious meal of the day. But schools were shuttered for months during the pandemic making their nutrition needs from day to day less than 100 percent satisfied. It’s shocking that this is happening in the nation's breadbasket, but it’s happening all over the country. The non profit FEEDING AMERICA says 42 million Americans--and estimated 13 million of them under 18 will be hungry or undernourished on any given night in any given part of our country. It’s not a new problem, it’s a worsening problem and fixing it should be a priority. What can you do? Give to the Sacramento Food Bank or other similar charity. Donate what you can from your own pantry. If your home garden offers more than you and your family can consume. Share it. Bring it to your house of worship, a food bank or even to a neighbor who may be housebound or on tough times. Some stores offer a chance to donate directly to food centered charities or give you the option of rounding your purchase up to the next dollar, with the spare change going to help the hungry.Oh---if you’ve done it before--do it again….Cancelled by CO VID last year, Sacramento’s truly special RUN TO FEED THE HUNGRY will be back this Thanksgiving Day. The exercise will do us good. The giving will do even more.
21 Jul 2021
Crane's Corner: 7-15-21 The News Buffet
Grab a plate and dig in my friends. The Crane’s Corner Virtual News Buffet is open. Remember, news knows no hours and doesn’t wear a mask. Help yourself to whatever news intrigues you, and feel free to share it with your friends. It appears the race is on. By 2024, will Donald Trump be living again in a big White House in DC or at another large federal facility. Like CLUB FED Lewisburg, Lompoc or Leavenworth With his hair newly dyed in what I’ll call an Apricots in Autumn shade, he spoke for well over an hour to Texas conservatives at the BIG C Pac festival of all things right, bragging about what he did as President, what he’ll do if he runs and wins in ‘24, and like OJ Simpson vowing to find the real killers, The Donald he insists was robbed by a cabal of crooked democrats, rigged voting machines, and the general national election fix crafted by the democrats with the convenient pandemic chaos as the fuel that fanned that wildfire. No one’s proven any of it, and Trump is loath to admit that he lost the election because while millions on the right love him, some in the right, most in the center and all on the left rank him on the popularity charts somewhere between Adolf Hitler and Richard Nixon. The view here is that Trump did some good things. He all but castrated the fat guy with the bad hair cut in North Korea, bitch slapped Iran and stopped playing Daddy Warbucks to Nato and European Allies who knew Uncle Sam had their back against despots in other parts of the world. Trump’s enemy list should be topped by the name Donald Trump, whose ego compelled him to brag or insult daily in 160 characters until Twitter gave him a time out, right before the election.To his credit Trump got a covid vaccine to the world in less than a year, and was making progress on immigration issues, which have exploded since he left. But Trump’s political enemies are legion, and they’re hell bent on tearing down his business empire, His top finance guy has been nailed and the word is, he’ll sing to save his own skin and I doubt that a control freak like Trump knew pretty much what went on, legal or not. Would tax fraud or ethical violations be enough to send him to jail, Probably not, but the slightest felony conviction--even if it’s punished with a fine and probation makes it impossible to run in 24. And that may be good. Trump’s ego, his paranoia and his inability to talk about anything but his accomplishments, real or perceived, has worn a nation down. Others on the right, like Governor's De Santis, Abbot and Noem are dependable conservative but don’t carry the ego or personality baggage.Then again, in politics, you never know, People who screw up badly or have no direct experience are rewarded for things that would have them fired or sued in the real world.California’s Employment Development Department makes the DMV look like a Luxury Vacation destination run with the dependable efficiency of a high priced Swiss Watch. During the pandemic thousands of newly pink slipped workers routinely failed to get through to the EDD’s phone lines or even get their claims in play by trying to register online. But murderers, rapists, swindlers and drug addicts had no problem, pulling a jailhouse con that got them money for nothing….They ripped off more than a billion dollars. Easier than robbing a bank, less dangerous than kidnapping. The woman who didn’t prevent it and didn’t stop it was Cal Employment Secretary Julie Su...who ought to be sued for dereliction of duty and pain of suffering for rightful recipients still looking for their entitled checks. Oh Julie’s out of a job--but wasn’t fired. She was kicked upstairs, amazingly she's been confirmed as the U-S Deputy Secretary of Labor. So now the whole nation can share in her cluelessness.Also in the news, what do you get when you cross Facebook Engineers, Dr. Frankenstein... for the rest off the story in print, visit www.edcranescorner.com/blog-page/
15 Jul 2021
Crane's Corner: 7-14-21 Bribery on the Bayou
It was a hot, sticky September afternoon in New Orleans. I had time on my hands and dust on my shoes, so I decided to treat myself to a shoe shine. Working feverishly on my cordovan loafers, a chatty young guy who popped a question as he polished. “You got a five on ya?” Thinking he was short on change I nodded sure. “Ok, well got a five, against your Abe Lincoln, cause I bet I know where you got your shoes?”Ha, no way this polished gambler knew about The Bass Shoe outlet in Vermont, where I had bought them. “Ok, buddy you’re on”“You got your shoes, “ he cackled, “on your feet!”So long Mr. Lincoln. It was fun, good natured and the fellow turned my size 10’s into walking mirrors. It was typical of the pre Katrina vibe in New Orleans, and most of Louisiana, but it was ending that week as the popular 4 term Governor and Official State Rascal, Edwin Edwards announced he would not serve a fifth term as Governor. Even the pickpockets, petty thieves and hookers were despondent. A Convention of cheap, wary News Executives in town--and edwin edwards on his way out.Outside of Lousiana Republicans and a few prosecutors everybody loved Edwin Edwards, who helped a coalition of white, black and cajun working people, while he helped himself to as much of other people’s money and other people's wives and girlfriends over several decades. Every night was Fat Tuesday for the state's only Cajun born Governor, who had little formal education but a PHD in politicking and street smarts. Edwards, who never left home without a smile, a wicked sense of humor and a lust for--just about anything, died this week at 93. One of the few democrats who ever thought people could do just fine with severely limited government, he led the passage of a new state constitution that gave local cities and parishes, as the county type government is known, the independence to regulate themselves without getting the legislature involved. People loved it, but it came at a price. Edwards allowed all comers in the oil business to pollute the Bayou’s and Gulf Coast, an environmental clown show that would bring much pain to Cajun Country and several adjacent states with the BP Oil Spill of 2010.It all caught up with Edwards, who was convicted of taking bribes from anyone with a checkbook; hospitals, casinos, riverboat operators and others who needed his influence. Much of the dough reportedly fed a wicked gambling habit. Many politicians would be shamed behind bars. Edwards flourished, operating as the prisons chief librarian, helping fellow cons get their GED’s and a path to straight life. Upon his release he married his prison pen pal, fifty years younger, who bore him a son as he turned 87.Edwin Edwards legacy. Four terms as Governor. 4terms in Congress. 8 Years in Prison. 3 wives. 12 Grandchildren. 19 Great Grandchildren and too many one liners to count. Once he stopped short of calling him stupid, but noting it took him an hour and a half to watch 60 Minutes. Asked in another November if he would defeat American Nazi Davi Duke, Edwards told a reporter, certainly, unless he’s “caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy”Edwin Edwards. The Good, The Bad, and the Very Funny.
14 Jul 2021
Crane's Corner: 7-8-21 Post Pandemic Stress Syndrome
Yogi Berra was talking baseball when he uttered his famous “It ain’t over till it’s over” line, but he might as well have been talking about the pandemic. Less than half the U-S adult population has been vaccinated against Co Vid 19, the rate stands adjust under 48 percent, but for most of us, it seems like Co Vid’s in the rear view mirror. Or is it? Virulent new strains are allowing a Co Vid comeback, and in conservative states like Utah in the west and Mississippi in the south are seeing a sharp increase in Co Vid infections. Infectious disease experts say for now, the variants showing up in the U-S aren’t penetrating the protection shield offered by the vaccines, but then again, the experts haven’t dealt with anything quite like Co Vid 19--so what’s their expertise based on. Pfizer, seems to be hedging its bets, asking the FDA for approval of a Co Vid vaccine booster shot, for use as early as next month. Uh Oh. To quote Yogi---it’s deja vu all over again.This news may send folks driven nearly insane by the lockdowns, isolation and fear of getting sick...right over the edge, while drawing a smug I told ya so smirk from those are convinced the vaccine will make them grow a 5th limb, make their grandchildren sterile or wake up some morning with a terrifying urge to vote for a democrat.In California, the vaccine message has been so effective, officials have given the green light to get all the ferrets at zoos in San Francisco and L-A vaccinated, so now real weasels can join the human variety in giving the flight attendants an earful about having to wear a mask when flying Southwest. 15 months after fear of something worse than Co Vid---Co Vid lawsuits compelled corporate America to trade the cube farm for a home office, now home spoiled workers are being called back to the office--and many are close to soiling themselves at the very thought. One survey found 40 percent of companies aren’t just inviting employees back to the office--they’re demanding they come back or face termination. Others like banking giant Citigroup are trying the carrot instead of the stick, allowing hybrid arrangements that give employees a few days at home each week until they gradually re-adapt to office business as usual.The Washington Post reports a kind of reverse institutional syndrome has taken shape for some workers, like paroled inmates who can’t adjust to freedom and rob a bank to go back to three hots and a cot, life at home has made going back to an office down right scary. They find their space has been downsized, managers are scrutinizing return performance and animosity develops between the vaccinated and those who refused the shot. Some workers have simply quit then go back to the daily commute and 9-5 drudgery Others, spoiled by the fun of taking a zoom meeting in their flannel lounge pants and furry slippers are redefining business casual and not for the better.Post Pandemic Stress Syndrome. You might say it’s going viral.
12 Jul 2021
Crane's Corner: 7-7-21 Gas, Groceries and Gamesmanship
During the year of sheltering, hoarding and putting a lot of things off, I worked entirely from home--unlike my wife---a medical professional who had to be in the office or in some cases on-call at a patients home.I wasn’t Mrs. Doubtfire, but the domestic stuff---grocery shopping, strategic TP and Paper Towel offensives, some cooking and light cleaning fell to the guy who stayed home. For the most part we did fine--and over the past year, I’ve developed a pretty good idea of what things cost then--what they cost now..and how the folks who keep us supplied are gaming us. I don’t mean that to be critical---business people do what they have to do to stay in business. But so many of us were away from restaurants for weeks or months at a time, we might not have noticed how prices were raised. Even at your favorite casual joint, a couple of burgers, a round of drinks and a tip will set you back 50 or 60 bucks. Of course you could stay home---but grocery beef prices are insane, chicken’s getting up there and pork, the other white meat is starting to be priced like it’s extra fine...not basic swine. Bacon---the other day it was 8 bucks a pound. In California we’re blessed with abundant produce and the prices are fair but higher prices for basic commodities, flour, sugar and the like are already higher---You may not see it yet, but you will. Some of the bigger grocery chains saw the wholesale inflation coming. They've loaded up the warehouses, but when those stocks are depleted, we’ll be slammed by bread, cookie and bakery prices.Remember those 5 thousand Amazon boxes that brought you this and the other thing last year/ Well, there’s now a cardboard shortage---you can find it..but it’s more expensive. Which means---the boxes will still roll out of Amazon vans..and technically the shipping will still be free---Jeff Bezos and his Amazon army will just raise the price of what goes into the boxes.Now, you want to go frugal---skip dining out---cut down on beef bacon and stick to the fruits and veggies---and keep your fingers off the Amazon Ap---fine---but they’ll get ya at the gas pump. A gallon’s north of four bucks in California--that's a whopping 40 percent more than it was last July. We will feel the pain every time we fill up---but higher fuel is being paid by the trucks that bring us everything--and we’ll get the trickle down sucker punch. Finally--if all this makes you want to getaway...The airlines were paying less than a buck a gallon for jet fuel last summer--today--it’s 1.75. Last time prices for jet fuel went up so fast--2008 when the airlines evened things out by charging for everything on board but a Flight Attendant's smile.It’s a procession to recession. No longer do we worry about outliving our money. I’ll be happy if I have any left by Labor Day.
7 Jul 2021