Cranky Media Guy, Publisher, Author & Announcer
- 23rd June 2003
grew up in New York City; the Bronx to be exact. I
was always kind of a weirdo; among my idols was Alan
Abel, the famous media hoaxer (I met Alan and was
involved in some of his famous hoaxes when I was in
my late 20's and early 30's).
Dad gave me the notion that "reality" was
somewhat flexible, I think. One of my fondest memories
of him was the two of us sneaking into a trade show
for pet store owners in the New Yorker Hotel in Manhattan.
I assume I don't have to mention that we did not own
a pet store.
I was 13, I invented a fake "organization"
called the Society for the Removal of Old Cars from
the Back of Ten-Dollar Bills. The supposed purpose
of the group was to change the picture on the back
of ten spots so that people in other countries wouldn't
think that we were still riding around in Model T's
(bad for America's image, you know). I sent a note
about the group to a reporter at the New York Daily
News and a few weeks later, on April 25, 1965, he
mentioned me in his "teen" column in the
News' Sunday magazine. I was thrilled to find out
that you could make up something and get it covered
in the newspaper, just like "real" stuff.
have engaged in this sort of behavior on and off since
then. In fact, I just traveled to New York (from Oregon
where I'm now living) and managed to get myself on
two local TV news shows (and do six radio interviews
around the country and in Ireland) based on something
I dreamed up.
how and when did you adopt the name, Cranky Media
my brilliant wife made that name up. She suggested
it to me and I thought it was pretty apt and kind
of catchy, too, so I went with it.
are your qualifications?
are a LOT of things in life I'm not very good at,
but making up stuff that's kind of ridiculous if you
examine it but yet somehow still believable I seem
to have a talent for.
went to college, but didn't graduate. I had a strange
collegiate experience, actually. I went to Bronx Community
College for a while, but I didn't really like going
to class. Most of my friend were going to Fordham
University not very far away, so when I was done with
my classes for the day, I would go over to the Fordham
campus and hang out with them. Over time, I dropped
out of Bronx Community and hung around Fordham full-time.
I started joining clubs and activities and was pretty
well-known around the campus.
one point, I was doing some work at the radio station,
I was an editor for one of the newspapers and the
literary magazine and I did props for plays. I had
keys to two offices on opposite sides of the campus
and I was still not a student. Eventually, I enrolled
at the school, baffling the admissions people with
the list of references I was able to provide (I was
even in the yearbook for a couple of years when I
was a non-student). My student-hood didn't last long,
though (about three semesters); I liked being a non-student
better than actually matriculating.
I got married in the early 80's and moved to New Jersey,
with no real forethought at all, I ended up in radio.
I've worked at about a dozen or so radio stations,
most of the jobs lasting less than a year. I'm a terrible
DJ, but I'm a very interesting air personality, something
that American radio has--at best--minimal interest
in at the moment. About half of my presentation is
just plain ol' me and the other half is stuff designed
to challenge the audience's perception of what is
real. More professional radio people have been just
appalled by how I work; I use a LOT less pre-planning
than just about anyone else on the air. I just don't
have the mind for that kind of stuff AND I'm not afraid
of going on the air with little or nothing pre-planned.
I'm willing to open the mic and see what happens...which
scares the living shit out of a lot of management.
They much prefer predictable mediocrity to spontaneous
brilliance (or spectacular failure, which can be pretty
interesting to observe, too).
are your view on freedom of the press in the United
States, and indeed the world?
of the Press! Wow, what a great idea! We ought to
try that sometime. Seriously, I think the "state
of the art" when it comes to the press, at least
in the U.S. at the moment, is pretty pathetic. Most
Americans get the majority of their "information"
from TV news and I'm constantly shocked and appalled
by how much of TV news is fluff and/or government-approved
propaganda. I'm happy that children are reading, but
sheesh, enough with the friggin' Harry Potter promotional
stuff on the "news" already! As I mentioned,
I just came back from New York City where I managed
to get on not one, but TWO of the local TV news shows
with something wholly illusory, so I'm VERY familiar
with how phony the "news" is. No wonder
a majority of Americans think that Iraq was involved
in the World Trade Center attack.
are your aims and objectives?
I don't think anyone has ever asked me that question
before. If I was somehow instrumental in getting people
to open their eyes and question the "reality"
they routinely accept, I think I could die happy.
I can't think of anything bigger than that that I
could be involved in. On a personal level, it would
be nice if people found out about the things I've
done in the past (and will possibly do in the future),
like a "retrospective," I guess. A lot of
people know about individual things I've done, but
they don't realize that I was the force, if you will,
behind them. Hey, I've got a little ego, what can
many website visitors do you attract?
site is a little bit down on visitorship at the moment,
because I haven't updated it recently. We still do
hundreds of visitors a day, mostly due to the section
on my friend Tom's "dream girl" (crankymediaguy.com/tomsgirl.html).
Our best day ever, when that story broke, we got 13,653
hits--pretty good for a "Mom and Pop" site.
people visit the site, I think they might be interested
in the video on it with my friend, the late Andy Kaufman.
It's a long story, but I met him for the first time
at 10:15 PM on a Thursday night and was doing a live
TV show with him and his parents at 11:00. It may
be the only commercially-unreleased tape of Andy left
rewards has your profile given you?
I was actively updating the site on a regular basis,
I got a lot of email from people, mostly complimentary.
I'm thinking about getting back to doing that again,
actually. To be honest, it's been hard to have the
same sarcastic tone about current events since 9/11.
I've been a wee bit depressed about the way things
have gone in the U.S. since then. The amount of disinformation
disseminated by the government since then has been
WAY beyond anything I could have imagined; the manipulation
of the public has been disgusting and it's hard to
say anything funny and not merely bitter about that.
I've strayed a little bit from the question here.
The feedback I've gotten from the site has been great
and that's been a reward in itself.
are your current projects?
have an unusual mind. It's always working on projects,
many of them rather abstract in conception. I'm always
trying to come up with something that no one else
has ever thought of before which will catch on on
a national or international level and provide an income
for myself and my family so that I never have to work
in a "normal" job again. I've come close
on an occasion or two and, eternal optimist that I
am, I always think that I can grab the "brass
ring" the next time. Actually, just the other
morning, when I was trying to fall asleep, I came
up with an idea more absurd, perhaps, than anything
I have ever conceived of before. I'm sorry for being
vague, but I really need to keep it a secret until
I launch it. The weird thing about this particular
project is that it would require a lot of other people
to play along with the gag. If I can pull this one
off, it'll be a joke of surrealist proportions.
and how did you develop your wit and sense of humor?
mentioned my Dad earlier. I think I got my sense that
the world was kind of a big joke from him. He was
an appliance mechanic for Westinghouse and he hated
his job. That--and the fact that my parents fought
a lot--made growing up seem somewhat less than attractive.
If I'm a bit of a "Peter Pan," I think that's
the reason. As a result, I became more interested
in pretending to be various things as opposed to pursuing
an actual career path. If you can appear to be something--a
doctor, say (although I would never do that because
it would be unethical and dangerous to the "patients")
and everyone accepts you as one, how is that really
different from actually having studied to be one?
That's a fascinating question to me. Obviously, I
have a different way of looking at things from most
people and that's what has informed, as they say,
my sense of humor.ur
biggest supporters and detractors, and why?
wife, an authentic genius and the person who best
understands and accepts me, is my Number One supporter.
God bless her, she never thinks I'm crazy, even when
I propose some absurd project. I also have a number
of friends back in Pennsylvania (who I just got to
see for the first time in several years) who appreciate
what I do. I don't know if they always understand
my motivations, but they like to hear the stories
and laugh in the right places and that has some value.
Seriously, they may think I'm nuts but they like me
anyway (which is pretty much the definition of "friend,"
for detractors, well, I've run
afoul of a few radio management types who hired
me on the strength of what I had done in the past
but then didn't have the courage to let me find my
audience. Oh well, their loss, I guess. I've also
pissed off a few news organizations by exposing them
for the bogus "journalists" they are. One
I faked out about ten years ago I just fooled again
two weeks ago. I'm debating how to let them know they've
been had again. I'm sure they won't be asking to join
my fan club.
are some of the most irresponsible, and down right
"dirty" companies in America?
man, where to begin? The bigger they are, the creepier
they are, I think. The scales fell off my eyes about
American corporate business back in the 70's when
I got to do some work for one of the Fortune 500.
I was in the projection booth for their board room
where I got to essentially attend a few of their highest-level
meetings. I couldn't see them but I could hear every
word. Let's just say that everything you may have
ever suspected about Big Business is true. Just for
starters, all that rah-rah, yay America stuff is strictly
for domestic consumption. They'll package their product
in whatever way will work in whatever country they're
trying to sell it to. "Amoral" and "sleazy"
doesn't begin to cover it. Since you asked, though,
heard anything about Enron
bastards screwed every user of electricity in California
and the Feds can't seem to find the time to indict
any of them. They're too busy busting Cheech
Marin for selling bongs on the Internet (I'm
not endorsing drugs--I hate them--but come on! They
have time for that nonsense but none for the largest
corporate crooks in America?)
fact of the matter is that we currently have a fully-operational
fascist government (in the dictionary definition sense
of the word) in the U.S. There is NO discernible line
between government and Big Business in America at
the moment; they're one and the same. The same creepy
bastards are in control of both of them.
wrong with "call centers"? (if you have
the space and time to explain). **an operator one
said to me "we are just a call center you know",
and I replied, "yes, I know. I couldn't have
put it better myself"!
centers" are a symptom of 21st Century Corporate
Behavior. The whole idea is to pay as few people as
little as you can legally. They don't know anything
because training costs money and spending money on
anything that doesn't immediately return a profit
is against their religion. You may be interested to
know that the "pro-America" Republican party
has sent at least 50 of its fundraising telemarketer
jobs to India. The callers are given
American-sounding names to use because all
those good God-fearing Republicans out there wouldn't
like it if "Sanjay" was asking them to contribute
to the President's re-election fund. They even bullshit
are the worse crimes both America and Iraq have committed
a strange way, Iraq has provided a benefit to America
by giving us something to hate. We haven't had a good
"heel" (as they call villains in the professional
wrestling world) since the fall of the Soviet Union.
For reasons that may require a better intellect than
mine to figure out, we seem to need a focus for our
collective anger, like the Nazis needed the Jews.
misunderstand, I'm not saying that Hussein wasn't
a miserable S.O.B. He got that way in part, though,
because of the help the U.S. gave him. That makes
us worse in my view, because we're supposed to be
better than that. For all my cynicism, I really WANT
the United States to be the envy of the world, the
country that shows the rest of the world how democracy
can work and all that stuff they taught us in grammar
school. I want us to be Earth's Boy Scout and I feel
disappointed when we aren't. Right now, I think we
look pretty damn stupid and ugly to a lot of the rest
of the world and I think it's going to come back to
haunt us for years to come.
Europe starts to think that it can't count on us,
I suspect it will develop its own industries and stop
buying stuff from us. Since a major portion of our
economy depends on making crap and selling it to other
people, that doesn't bode well. In short, I think
we're screwed for the foreseeable future.
we heading towards World World III?
sure thought we were a few months back. Right now,
I'm not quite as sure. I do think the current economic
troubles in this country are going to get worse. The
Republicans live in this dream world where a handful
of enormously wealthy people and a nation of minimum
wager earners constitute a good economy. My worst
fear is that we're going to end up with something
like they have in South America or South Africa where
the rich live behind barricades with armed guards
and crime soars as jobs continue to disappear.
isn't World War III in the conventional conception,
but it isn't very pretty either.
needs to be done to ban spam and to protect children
from internet porn, and other net nasties?
Why should a Republican-controlled government want
to control spam? It's would-be entrepreneurs trying
to bullshit vast numbers of other people for personal
gain. Hell, that's pretty much their modus operandi.
for Internet porn, I think the "danger"
is exaggerated. Yes, there's a lot of creepy stuff
on line, but you have to go looking for it. It isn't
as if it's sitting on your desktop when you boot up.
It's certainly a good idea to keep younger kids from
viewing stuff they won't understand and which would
probably be disturbing to them but who's letting a
ten-year-old surf the 'net without supervision? What
kind of irresponsible parent does that?
think the real problem here is the puritanical notion
(which comes from religions that want to control people)
that seeing a uncovered tit will cause a child to
become a serial rapist or something in later life.
The funny part is that most Americans are aware that
the European attitude toward nudity and so forth is
considerably more casual than that in this country
yet we don't think of Europeans as being fundamentally
immoral. Amazing how we can disconnect like that,
adults got their hands on a Playboy or something like
that at least once when they were kids and they didn't
become social liabilities yet somehow we think that
if our kids see nudity, they're going to grab a Tec-9
and shoot up the high school cafeteria. What's up
the government doing enough?
what? As far as I'm concerned, they're doing way too
much about things they should leave alone and not
nearly enough about the things they legitimately should
be involved with.
there a New World Order? (not the wrestling version)
you should put it that way. When I tell people this,
they think I'm kidding or being ironic, but I honestly
think that geopolitics operates on exactly the same
principles as professional wrestling. As I said before,
I think that Iraq is functioning in the "heel"
role that the Soviet Union used to occupy (at least
from the point of view of the U.S.).
you're familiar with wrestling, you know that wrestlers
sometimes "turn" (go from good to bad or
vice versa). I think that countries operate in the
same way. What I see is that the former Soviet Union
is heading toward "face" (good guy) status
and the U.S. is slowly turning "heel". Ultimately,
I think the purpose is the same as in wrestling--to
provide a plot to entertain the "marks"
only question is who is the promoter, the person or
persons who develops the storyline?
your views on homosexuality in the church? ..and what
is God's (if you believe) view on this?
Well, I'm far from being convinced that there is a
God. If there IS one, I suspect He views homosexuality
the same way He views left-handedness--as something
that deviates from the norm, but ultimately isn't
a big deal. There is NO evidence for the notion that
a person "chooses" to be gay. It seems to
be a brain wiring thing. If we accept this, then we
have to ask why God would make a person that way only
to condemn them for something over which they have
no control. I'd like to think that someday we'll be
at the point where we view the notion that homosexuality
is evil or a "choice" the same way we now
view the idea that an epileptic is "demon-possessed".
many times does science have to refute silly religious
concepts like that before we stop taking religion
seriously on the subject of human nature?
it isn't exactly batting a thousand, you know?
is wrong with "Reality TV"?
have to start with the realization that it exists
not because it's good or the best use of the airtime.
It's there because it's CHEAP.
It's like what I said about "call centers"--it
exists because it's the cheapest way to produce something
that looks like programming. The insidious thing about
it is that because it's called "reality TV"
and it LOOKS real, people think it's an accurate representation
of something. It's totally fake, absolutely perfect
for post-9/11 America. I liked what Johnny Carson
said about Survivor. I'm paraphrasing, but he said
that people forget that besides the "cast",
there's also a crew, staying in a hotel on the other
side of the island. He said that he was in more danger
at his dinner table than the "survivors"
were on the island.
are you yet to accomplish in the internet space?
International fame and fortune. I'm still working
have you made a positive difference to the world?
eg - freedom of speech and free thought....
If I've made even a few people view things differently,
that's great. I'd like to make a LOT of people question
the nature of the world around them.
50 years from now, how would you like to be remembered?
if I'm remembered in ANY way in 50 years, I'd be thrilled.
If I can be remembered as someone who changed the
popular perception of how things work (and don't work),
I'd be ecstatic. If anything I did caused even one
person to become someone who changed the world for
the better, well, I don't think I could ask for anything
more than that.
that's a lot of questions I know. The more in depth
the answers, the better. Many Australian and international
media figures and political types visit my website,
and this is your big chance to to really stick it
to them. Thanks for your time, interest and goodwill.
will be visiting the US and UK on a working holiday
within a year or so, so if we progress satisfactory
we could potentially meet up for a beer and discuss
the shape of the world at that time.
bet! I don't drink, but I'd sure be happy to share
a pastrami sandwich and a Pepsi with you. Let me know
when you're going to be over here. By the way, I was
in Oz back in '88 and I loved it there, especially
Sydney. Great country and great people.
may also be interested in being a contributor to my
website. I delight in publishing things other "traditional"
media outlets won't touch.
the word. What kind of things are you looking for?
note: I'm looking for many things, and I'm sure glad
I found this guy. I'm looking for truth, justice and
the Media Man way : ) This guy kind of reminds me
of me. Questions everything, suspects everyone, especially
part 2 of the interview with Bob, conducted on the
5th July 2003.