Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The People V. OJ, Ron Goldman, Studs and Kathie Lee

Best line from last night's People V. OJ installment? Travolta/Shapiro casually asking the assembled members of the defense team: "Who thinks OJ did it?" 

"Oh oh oh ohhh I do Mr. Kotter!" 


Anyway, I liked this episode. I'm glad that the show is so blunt about how sympathetic the black women jurors were to Simpson. That's something that still makes me want to vomit. It was bad enough hearing men defend OJ, what with that bullshit sports star hero-worship complex a lot of them (even some members of the media) had going on at the time, but the thought of any woman--regardless of color--sticking up for OJ is totally inexcusable. Would these female jurors have found OJ so "charming" and "charismatic" if they were getting pummeled on a regular basis by this fuckstick? Inquiring minds want to know. 

It was also nice to see Kim and Fred Goldman acknowledged in this episode. As I mentioned before, I've always appreciated their tenacity and refusal to fade into the woodwork during and after the trial, and the way they've kept up the good fight for Ron. Maybe it's me, but I'm baffled by people who preach about "forgiveness" to victims (and families of victims) of violent crime. It's like, yeah, if a family goes on TV after a loved one has been murdered claiming that they forgive the perpetrator, that's all well and good and--if that's the way they really think--they are obviously more evolved than I am. But personally, if (God forbid) I were in their shoes, I'd be on every TV station screaming for justice and I wouldn't stop until they let me escort the murdering bastard to the gas chamber myself. Kim Goldman even wrote a book called Can't Forgive about the murders and her life after the trial, and she talked about Oprah interviewing her and saying something like, "Don't you think it's time to forgive OJ and move on?" (I couldn't find the exact quote), which really annoyed me. Seriously, Oprah? Go back to what you're good at: licking Beyonce's ass and quoting Maya Angelou and don't be pontificating about forgiveness to someone whose brother was callously slaughtered by a smirking psychopath. Oprah can't even talk about people fat-shaming her without getting all teary-eyed and verklempt, so don't even tell me she would be the model of grace and compassion if something similar happened to a loved one in her life. My point is, people have no business telling victims of violence how they should feel about it.  

On a lighter note, remember that show Studs? For you young 'uns, it was a late-night dating show from the early '90s where two guys and three girls would go on dates and then compare notes and hear what they had to say about each other. It was basically Love Connection with younger, better-looking contestants and more bad puns and cheesy innuendo. Studs was considered fairly racy at the time, but now it all seems very quaint and almost innocent compared to the reality shows of today. Anyhoo, it came out back in the day that Ron Goldman had been a contestant on Studs back in 1991, and someone unearthed the footage and posted it on YouTube (the title says 1992 but the copyright is 1991, so I'm going with that)....

Ron Goldman on "Studs"

....and although the clip is basically a big steaming pile of bad 1990's fashion and cringe-y sex jokes, I found it strangely entertaining. (And speaking of cringe-worthy, the Sam Kinison video for Wild Thing is inexplicably tacked-on at the end of the clip. While the song is kind of amusing, the video has NOT aged well, and I'm not just talking about the stupid dancing and big hair. It's all just so rape-y and gang-bang-y and it made me embarrassed for everyone involved).

My biggest memory of Studs is that Hitomi, my senior year ('91-'92) boarding school roommate, was morbidly fascinated by the show, and when she came home with me for October break we ended up watching it every night that it was on TV. We had some good laughs. I also remember something about how Kathie Lee Gifford was horrified by Studs and made a big stink, threatening to walk off when (Studs host) Mark De Carlo was scheduled to be a guest on that morning show she had with Regis. This was several years ago, back when Kathie Lee was all uber-Christian and loved to talk about how religious she was, something that I find interesting now that she's (allegedly) best buds with Kris Jenner, the woman who (allegedly probably) peddled that infamous sex tape of her daughter getting peed on by a D-list rapper to the media. I say interesting. but not surprising, since I'm never all that shocked when a self-righteous moralizer turns out to be a flaming hypocrite. Remember, I grew up in the '80s when Jimmy Swaggart was getting caught with hookers and that whole mess with Jim Bakker and Jessica Hahn (star of the Wild Thing video!) was going down. 

Anyway, Mark De Carlo did end up appearing on Regis and Kathie Lee after all, and here's what the Studs guy had to say about it:    
"Kathie Lee Gifford is a hypocritical, Bible-beating, insincere media whore. She invited me on her show specifically to insult me. I flew on a red-eye from Utah, where I was doing a charity event Christmas week, to appear on her show and she said I was propagating rampant immorality in America. And then the very next week she was kissing Hugh Grant’s ass. So who’s immoral there?” ---Mark DeCarlo 
To wrap it all up, here's a masterpiece from Everything Is Terrible featuring Mr. and Mrs. Gifford, because Kathie Lee totally deserves this.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

OJ Simpson, Paula Barbiedoll, Bolton Bits, and Kardashian Krap

I know I expressed misgivings about it in the last post, but they've (mostly) been laid to rest; I am really enjoying The People V. OJ Simpson. Now that I've seen the first two episodes, here are some unorganized notes on it: 

  • I love Travolta's portrayal of that preening, high-on-the-smell-of-his-own-farts douchebag Robert Shapiro. And it's not that I loathe Shapiro--I have no more distaste for Shapiro than I have for the rest of the whores that comprised OJ's defense team--but man, Travolta is killing it. I know a lot of people are complaining that Travolta is the "weak link" in the cast, but I vehemently disagree. He's a bit over-the-top, but that can be a good thing in the hands of the right actor. He's awesome at the subtle stuff, too; my favorite moment of last night's ep (the second of the miniseries) was the brief scene of Shapiro grooving to some smooth jazz Al Jarreau in his Merc. (To be fair, it is a bomb-ass song.)
  • I like what David Schwimmer is doing with Robert Kardashian, and it's interesting to see him in a role outside of Friends, but I have trouble with the whole "St. Kardashian" thing. I think the writers knew where they're going with that, however. It's like, you can pray all you want and tote that Bible around, dude, but it doesn't change the fact that you're best buds with an abusive, murderous psychopath. And I believe that he covered for that jackass after the murders, either knowingly or *wink*wink* "unknowingly." And then after the criminal trial, he expresses "doubts" about OJ's innocence? Oh thank you. Fat lot of good that did for the victims, dick. And while we're on the subject, can that one little jokey shot of the Kardashian kids watching their dad on TV please be the last time we see his spawn portrayed in this series? Because I don't like being reminded of their existence.
  • And as for Kris Kardashian/Jenner, Faye Resnick, and the rest of the Brentwood bitches? I know they think everyone is fascinated with that lot, but I couldn't give a shit about any of them. I hope their screen time is minimal, too. Seriously, if I wanted to know about that crew, I'd watch one of those stupid Real Housewives shows. 
  • And more Marcia Clark, please. I love Sarah Paulson's portrayal so far, and I absolutely want to hear more of her outrage at the cops and the system that turned a blind eye to OJ's years-long abuse of Nicole. Still disgusting. 
  • Hoping for some scenes with the Goldmans, who have been nowhere to be found so far. I like Fred and Kim Goldman and I appreciate how outspoken they've continued to be about keeping Ron's memory alive and their justified furor at how the whole mess was handled. They kept it real in a case and trial that was teeming with bullshit from the very start.

It's interesting to go back and read some of the articles that were written about the case at the time. This one details the timeline of events on the day of the murders, and boy is it illuminating. It starts out detailing what the victims and suspect did the morning of June 12, 1994: Ron Goldman played softball at a local park, Nicole Brown Simpson bought some toys for her kids, and OJ--shocker!--played golf and hung out at his country club. Early that afternoon, though, things got more interesting: 
2 p.m. - House guest Brian "Kato" Kaelin sees O.J. in the kitchen of Simpson's Rockingham estate. O.J. makes a series of calls to women, beginning with girlfriend Paula Barbieri. They fight over her request to attend Sydney's recital. Paula winds up flying to Las Vegas to spend time with singer Michael Bolton. During a call to Traci Adell, O.J. says he's unhappy. He also calls actress Jasmine Guy.

Okay, am I the only one morbidly fascinated by the fact that OJ's girlfriend ditched him that day to run off to Vegas with Michael Bolton? 

To be clear, I'm talking about this Michael Bolton....

....and not Michael "Mike" Bolton from Office Space

Wouldn't it be cool if she'd run off with Mike Bolton, though? 
Alas (being a fictional character), that wasn't an option. 

Isn't that just weirdly fitting, though? What a spot-on summation of all that was good and bad about the 1990's. The Good: Mike Judge's Office Space, a biting satire of the 1990's corporate culture. The Bad: Michael Bolton (the singer) representing (to quote Peter Gibbons, speaking about his boss) "ALL THAT IS SOULLESS AND WRONG"--a phrase that also perfectly epitomizes the Simpson murder case and that unholy abortion of a trial. 

As the timeline indicates, Paula Barbieri--D-list model and OJ's sometime girlfriend--took offense to OJ barring her from his daughter's dance recital that night, and (I like to imagine, anyway) screamed "Screw you OJ! I'm going to Vegas to be with Michael Bolton! Love is a wonderful thing!" Seriously though, at least with Michael Bolton you'd have a better chance of surviving the night, as he seems way less stabby than OJ. Come on, dude couldn't even take a pair of scissors to his mullet. That's a peace-loving man, right there. 

Also noteworthy but not as interesting: OJ later called Jasmine Guy (Whitley from A Different World!), whom I hope immediately slammed the phone down on his sketch ass. But we'll probably never know.

Fast-forwarding to the trial, another interesting detail concerning OJ and Paula's relationship saga came in the form of testimony from a witness for the defense, Carol Connors. And when you get a load of the soft-serve bullshit she was shoveling for the defense, it's no wonder they trotted this woman out on the first day of their testimony. 

Apparently, on the night before the murders, OJ and Paula were being lovey-dovey with each other at a fancy charity fundraiser, and--well--Connors testimony of their PDA is just soo special: 

"I happened to witness a very exquisite romantic moment that took place between the two of them," she testified. "And being a writer, I was able to compute it into my brain, and to understand it, and to wish that I had been lucky enough to be in a situation of what I had watched." 

Pictured: Conners and her facelift.

Even better? Said "exquisite romantic moment" was taking place while Simpson was stroking Barbieri's face with Natalie Cole singing "Unforgettable" onstage.*

True story: I had the same hair as Paula from 1989 - 1993. And I had a black dress like that, but mine was from Kohl's. (I'm guessing hers wasn't. Just a guess.)

FUN FACT, KIDS! According to Wikipedia, Carol Connors is a former porn actress (not that there's anything wrong with that) who is married to fellow porn actor Jack Birch, the father of mainstream actress Thora Birch. I've read a bit about Thora Birch and her fucked up parents. To be fair, I think it was this article explaining why Thora Birch seemed to disappear from Hollywood just when her star was on the rise (after making the excellent Ghost World, one of my favorite movies) and the author of the piece blames Porno Dad, who is also Thora's manager and who insists on being an on-set "advisor" during his daughter's sex scenes. Creepy enough for ya? So anyhoo, I guess that Carol Connors--Mama Birch--never experienced the sort of face-stroking Natalie Cole "Unforgettable" love that OJ and Paula Barbiedoll possessed, which I find hard to believe. Seriously, Mama Birch? There were no exquisite romantic moments that (being a writer) you were able to compute into your brain when you were with Thora Birch's Porno Dad? I'm shocked, I tell you. Shocked! Love is officially dead.   

If you want to witness Mama Birch's testimony, it starts at about the 1hr:02min mark in this video. You might want to have a barf bag handy. It's so cringe-inducing, even Johnnie Cochran was gagging.  

*OMG Natalie Cole! Speaking of the dearly departed. Let's all take a moment now to remember where we were when we heard the news of her death. Okay, I'm done. 

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

If it doesn't fit, you can suck my---well, you know.

Tonight, I plan to do something that I may well hate myself for in the morning. Yes, I'm going to watch the first installment of the new miniseries The People Vs. OJ Simpson.

I would say I'm watching it just for camp value, but that's not strictly true. I'd say it's partly for the camp value and hopefully some unintentional hilarity, but I would also add a dash of morbid curiosity and a heaping helping of nostalgia. I don't look fondly upon the OJ Simpson trial--I mean, who does?--but it kinda was one of those giant cultural events that anyone who lived through the 1990's remembers vividly and has very definite opinions about. It was probably like the Watergate of our generation, only even more ridiculous. 

The casting looks pretty spot on. I normally can't stand to see any reminder of that Kardashian family dung heap, but even I have to admit that David Schwimmer playing Robert Kardashian is an event not to be missed, especially since there's (apparently) a scene leading up to the infamous Bronco chase where OJ grabs a gun and locks himself in a bedroom at Kardashian's house, prompting Ross from Friends to shriek, "No OJ! That's where Kimmy sleeps!" 

Oh, the humanity!

Speaking of the Bronco chase, I have my own memories of that evening. My boyfriend and I were having "date night" and it was happening on an actual Friday, something I'd lobbied hard for, since Rick worked at a restaurant as a waiter and bartender and him getting a weekend night off was a once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence. It seems kind of funny then that the restaurant we chose for date night was the Provincial Kitchen--his place of employment--but Rick was well-loved there and we were good friends with all of the waitstaff, plus the watering hole downstairs was "our bar" (Johnny Whitaker's Broad Ripple Tavern--or "the BRT" as we regulars called it), so I guess it was just a natural choice at the time. 

Anyway, there we were enjoying our dinner at the Kitchen when this guy Mark--one of Rick's waiter friends--came running up from the bar downstairs to exclaim "You guys! OJ Simpson just took off in a white Mercedes down the LA freeway with a bunch of cops chasing him!" (Yeah, I know it was a white Bronco and not a white Mercedes, but that's what Mark said.) Rick and I were like, "Oh my God, no way!" and we grabbed our drinks and ran downstairs to watch the action unfold on the bar's big-screen TV, followed by about a dozen other patrons in the restaurant who had overheard Mark's announcement and wanted to see for themselves.

Of course, that was just the beginning of the hot mess express that turned into "the trial of the century"--five words that I would get extremely sick of hearing over the next year. 

Still, there was no avoiding it. Even today, I'm surprised at how much I remember. There was the Bronco chase with OJ and his buddy Al "You know who I am goddammit!" Cowlings at the wheel, then there were all the gory details of the murders of Ron-and-Nicole (it was always Ron-and-Nicole, not Nicole-and-Ron), along with the revelation that OJ Simpson--who I only knew as "Nordberg" from the Naked Gun movies--was a scary-ass wife beater. I even remember that dorky TV movie they rushed to make about OJ and his rage-y, abusive marriage to Nicole, a film directed by "Alan Smithee" (haaaaaa) featuring a then-unknown Terrence Howard. 

There was the cast of characters.... 

Kato "Wouldn't you be happy to see me?" Kaelin:  

"Hey OJ, pull my finger!"
Faye "wanna see my tits?" Resnick:

Thanks but no thanks, hon. 

The "Dream Team":

Ugh. You can just smell the giant cloud of Drakkar Noir wafting up from that crew.

This horseshit:

Fuck off Billy Bird, whoever you are.

And then there's this, which--okay--this made me laugh: 

Sure, I'm laughing about the key players involved in a terribly gruesome murder trial, but still, there's something kind of naive and almost (well, not quite) innocent about that point in time. It was pre-9/11, pre-Dubya, pre-all the awfulness that happened over the last two decades. There were no smartphones, no Facebook, none of the other obvious things that make the 1990's so glaringly different from the world of today. 

I guess it's just...I don't know...we were just all so young back then, weren't we?