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Saturday, March 17, 2012


Lá Fhéile Pádraig Shona!

Whew OK,a dear old friend kevin Barry mentioned Larry Kirwan to me today - Larry Kirwan Black 47 right?
Well there was a young Irish girl that worked at Saatchi & Saatchi with my wife Antoinette, must be late 80's when we lived on East 3rd Street in the East Village. Sinead who was a sweetheart from Cobh, used to mention she was in a band with her pal Mary (who possessed a balcony you could do Shakespeare from, if you follow my meaning) from Cork. Apparently they were the backup singers and tambourine bashers and more importantly Mary was keeping an eye on her boyfriend the drummer Tom Hamlin. She never mentioned the band's name until one Friday evening after work we were home relaxing having a few pops and all at once Sinead goes "Oops, I've got a gig, I had forgotten and I can't remember the address!"  Fortunately she recalled that it was to be in a small bar over near to Tompkins Square Park, a few short blocks away and I escorted her over and asked around until we found the correct door. I would see Black 47 occasionally when I stopped into Reilly's on my way back downtown.
One sunny morning a coule of years later I saw yer man Larry Kirwan plodding past our stoop looking much the worse for wear after a long hard night.

Now flash forward to the 21st century and my darling son Sean is living in Dublin and out in a bar having a few pops with his mates. Next to them a few hard looking characters one of which gives Sean the steely eyed stare and asks him who he is and where he's from. The fella hear's Sean's name and asks him where he got it and Sean explains that his oul fella is a New York Irish-American, and what's more drinks solely in Irish bars and puts money in the IRA donation tins.
This sweetens the other fella's complexion considerably and he now laughs & claps Sean on the back, turns around and drops his trousers far enough to reveal an IRA tattoo on his arse. After that, Sean and his mates' drinks were on him.

 Kevin mentioned his ancestors. Yeah BARRY would be from Cork wouldn't it? Like Tom Barry, the great republican, shame he sided with f*cking Dev though.

My oldest brother Jim and his son Brendan started up on the website "Geni" and we've been adding what we can find. Both my grandfathers were Irish and both my grandmothers were German.  My mother's father's name was William Doran and he was a teamster and was with Pershing when they went after Pancho Villa which were the first mechanised units in the US Army.  He went to Cuba next, and then to France where he saw action in the Ardennes and made Lieutenant (wartime). They lived on Grove Street in Greenwich Village when my mother was born and later moved to Brooklyn. Wild Bill Doran died in 1951 so I never got to meet him. Sean shares his same birthdate.

My father's father William Callum I did know. As to his origins or his father's when he died we found letters from his cousin in Armagh from 1921/22 or so. The name must have been McCallum at one time but I could never get a straight answer out of anyone on it. He worked for Otis elevator and had hands like hams, which he passed along to my father, and to me and to Sean.

As to Parnell, Kevin my friend, yes a great man, but who underestimated his own people's hypocrisy, and their conservative views and ways, which by the way, haven't changed all too much over the decades in my humble experience.
Those who think Parnell blew some terrific chance to change Ireland's course peacefully forget one important factor: The British would NEVER, ever ever, allow Ireland a peaceful, political separation, never. It was always going to take arms, and struggle and death, so it is with them and so it always was. I offer in proof the Malvinas, that story isn't finished yet, they've found oil there.  Ireland is where they began their empire, where they practised all that they ever did later around the globe- Jamaica, India, Kenya, China...

Friday, March 16, 2012

who are celtic gods?

Tuatha Dé Danaan
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuatha_D%C3%A9_Danann

It is God who suffered them, though He restrained them
they landed with horror, with lofty deed,
in their cloud of mighty combat of spectres,
upon a mountain of Conmaicne of Connacht.
Without distinction to discerning Ireland,
Without ships, a ruthless course
the truth was not known beneath the sky of stars,
whether they were of heaven or of earth

The Ulster cycle
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulster_Cycle

an Fhiannaíocht
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fenian_Cycle

Modern celtic gods bore names like Jimmie Johnstone who was also called "The Lord of the Wing", and Kenny Dalglish later called "King Kenny" and also George Best of Ulster who one might say was Best by Name, Best by Nature.


Once upon a time in the East, Village that is...







Back in 1993 when we lived in the East Village in NYC, I used to park our car in a lot in order to save my new BMW 325is from the inevitable dings, nicks, and scrapes (and tickets!) street parking would inevitably bring.
The lot I used was on First Street between 2nd Avenue and the Bowery and it had 4 enclosed aluminum garage spaces. One day I was picking up my car and there was a chap wrenching a Ducati 851 motorcycle with one of the garage doors open. Peeping in I noticed 3 sexy shapes n the darkness. Though extremely curious, I was in a bit of a hurry so left without further inquiry.
The next time I saw the chap he was under the hood of one of the sexy shapes now sitting exposed in the sunlight which turned out to be a silver Aston Martin DB6 drophead. I said hello and asked him about the Aston which he said was being sold soon, however he brought me into the garage and there, making up the other dark sexy shapes I had seen previously was a Maserati Ghibli and a DeTomaso Pantera. Now Panteras I was used to seeing growing up, besides I could never sit upright in them, being 6'2" and a lot of it in my torso. The Ghibli an altogether much rarer beast, was dark blue with a cream leather interior, sat on 4 flat Michelins but was complete and in very good nick from my vantage point and I have always had a soft spot for Maseratis- all of them.
The chap asked me if I was interested in making a deal on the Maser but in the interest of continuing in my current healthy marital and physical state, told him "no, thank you".
Soon after, all the cars and the chap were gone never to be seen again.


Saturday, March 10, 2012


Brian


You came second, I came third, middle.

So... you were always there 5 years older, cooler, locked in. You had the devil in your eye at times, your own sense of humour. My first day freshman year Brother Shannon (the one you almost gave a stroke to when you corrected him in history class) with a wry smile telling me "Ah yes, Brian, he was a special one." It wasn't until later when you were gone that I noticed the sadness that was always there in your eyes too.

Chicks dug you-you had your own style, interesting women appreciate that. Though you never looked completely comfortable in the tight collars and neckties that the times demanded. Years later, looking back at photos I realized we looked Irish, not like the English mods we imitated. The hair never laying quite-so always a wave or a curl out of place, necktie slightly askew, a bit rougher around the edges perhaps. More at home running through the woods like savages than posing for pictures all suited up.
I always appreciated  the way you didn't treat me like the idiot younger brother that I was, nor my friends either. So many of things I  value in life I got from you not from parents or teachers or friends. History, birds, reggae, cars, politics, science fiction- things to this day I love. I hope you would be proud to know that I tell people I am who I am because of you, especially when they wonder why I am interested in so many things. Sean is like that too, Brian.
I loved you for taking me to that concert at Wollman Rink in Central Park, (John Sebastian!?!) What I really loved was that you made me feel that you wanted to be there with me, not that you took me because none of your friends were around. Remember too, as we left the venue, there was guy with a stolen carton of LP's who worked for Island Records. It was Traffic's new release “John Barleycorn Must Die” and was selling them for a buck. I'll never forget that you turned to me and asked “Are these guys any good?” I said yes and you bought the record and became a fan. I was surprised firstly that you hadn't heard of Traffic already and absolutely stunned when you asked for my opinion and followed it. I can still remember like it was yesterday you bringing home the soundtrack to The Harder They Come after you had seen the film in New York. We played it until we wore it out, and its replacement too. I already had heard of Desmond Dekker but had noone to talk about it with until then. You gave me my introduction to Jamaican politics too- Manley, Bustamante, PNP, JLP.
I remember borrowing your jeans because they were flares and none of my friends had them and your SDS jacket with the red fist on the back-no one had one of those for sure!. The MG, the Austin Healey that you almost killed yourself in up in Maine, the yellow Fiat spider that you would turn up in and actually let me drive! I mean rugby, Brian? Who the heck was playing rugby in the US in 1970?

The way you could relate to any other person you encountered, complete strangers regardless of age or sex or colour or class I counted that for a lot in you. You could also tell an asshole to fuck off if it was needed, too, but I rarely ever saw you angry.

I remember you telling me about seeing Lightning Hopkins giving guitar tips to people backstage and urging me to do the same, and well, I did it. I saw Buddy Guy and Jr. Wells at the Bottom Line and waited until after their set went over and introduced myself and bought them each a drink at the bar, and they just chatted with me as if I was somebody too. Amazing. I recall being flattered when you told me to come down to Soho where you and Allen Ginsburg and others would meet with the latest Indian guru, the one that liked cognac (was it Remy or Hennessy?) and teach those hippies how to play guitar properly.
Mom and Dad couldn't deal with you Brian, you were too free. They were from a different time, a time where blending in and toeing the line was a goal in life. They loved you though, I am sure of that. They just couldn't fully understand or accept. I don't think our other brothers could either.

When Antoinette and I went to live in Jamaica, I wished you had come with us. Her family has a farm, way up in the Blue Mountains where the air is sweet. You would have been safe there, lived a clean, healthy life, gotten fit, learned new birds and seen ones you already knew that come for the winter's visit. I regret still not sending for you after we got settled.
After we returned o New York and were living at 23rd Street, and me having to go find you in the East Village, hoping, that you're ok. Finding you sad, we had lunch on St Marks Place. Did you know it was Mom asked me to look for you sometimes?
Weeks later on I brought you home for dinner, for a shower, for some cash, but I will always regret not making you stay. At least for a little while. I was worried what my new wife would say, though now I know her better and I know she loved you too. She still shakes her head when she remembers how you used to tickle her feet. I know now I should have made you stay. At least for a little while.
Because just as you left us all, Sean came. You would have loved him and he would have loved you. Like I do.

Sir Henry Morgan - Pirate or Patriot?
By Donald Callum


Arrrrrghhh! Shiver me timbers!

Everybody and his brother’s cousin knows that Henry Morgan was a pirate or more correctly, a privateer, but not many know he was a patriot too.
There were differences between pirates or buccaneers, and privateers. Pirates were “loose cannon” (pun intended), in that they owed allegiance only to themselves and their comrades and their looting and pillaging was done strictly for their own benefit.
Privateers were raiders, usually merchantmen that were given a guise of legality by a letters of marque, or, lettre de course, in French(giving us the word “corsair”). These documents were issued by governments to vessels allowing them to attack and capture enemy vessels and bring them before admiralty courts for condemnation and sale, thereby disrupting their enemies’ sea trade. This practice dated back to at least the 1500’s.
The word ‘buccaneer’ itself comes to us as an Anglicisation of the French use of a Taino word. Got that?
Please let me try to explain: The Tainos used wooden barbecues called “buccans” to smoke manatee meat on the beaches. These “buccans” became “boucans” (pronounced: boo-con) in French and those hunters in Hispaniola who practiced smoking beef and pork, were called “boucaniers”(boo-con-ee-ayr). When the Spanish chased them from what is now Haiti they fled to Tortuga and joined English, French and Dutch sailors attacking Spanish shipping through the Windward passage.
Now back to Morgan. Henry was descended from an old Welsh family of warriors called Morgan who owned estates around present-day Cardiff. He was born in
1635 in Llanrumney (in Welsh, Llanrhymny). Young Henry was said to be better with a lance than with a book so a life of action was early on indicated.
Henry did not reach the West Indies as an indentured servant as has been long-rumoured but was in fact a junior officer in Penn and Venables’ expedition sent by Cromwell to the Caribbean to damage the Spanish hegemony in the region.
This expedition was unsuccessful in capturing Havana in Cuba, and then Santo Domingo in Hispaniola. Fearful of the wrath of Cromwell the Lord Protector if they returned from this very expensive sortie with nothing to show, Penn and Venables attacked the lightly garrisoned island of Jamaica which having no gold, silver, or jewels was used as a provision depot for the returning Spanish treasure fleets.
By 1660 with the monarchy restored, Henry’s uncle was sent out to be the Governor of Jamaica. Henry who was still in Barbados followed his uncle to Jamaica where he was already famous from his exploits with Penn and Venables, married his uncle’s eldest daughter and two of her sisters married his closest friends.
Morgan apprenticed at sea one might say under Commodore Christopher Mings, sailing as one of his captains as they attacked and looted Santiago de Cuba, and a couple of years later in 1663 down the Mexican coast attacking Campeche’s two forts and coming away with 14 Spanish ships as prizes.
Hollywood glamourises pirate sea battles but the truth is these encounters were costly and therefore largely avoided. Most of Morgan and other buccaneers’ successes came on land. In 1663, Henry Morgan the leader of a small fleet of 6 ships that set sail to attack the Spanish Main and did not return until 18 months had past. Morgan must have possessed great leadership skills because time and again he rose to the head of joint efforts involving disparate individuals, possibility due to his background as a soldier. This expedition left Port Royal and headed to New Spain first to the Yucatan and down along the Central American coast landing at Frontera. Morgan’s force marched 50 miles to attack the town of Villahermosa only to find that after capturing and looting the town their own ships had been taken by the Spanish. This forced them to capture 2 Spanish ships
and several coastal canoes to carry them back against the currents to regroup at the Yucatan. They then set out again down the Central American coastline to what is now Nicaragua and again inland to surprise the wealthy town of Granada which was taken with the assistance of local Indian tribes. In 1668, Morgan sailed with ten vessels to Cow Island off the coast of Hispaniola (modern Haiti). Here the Oxford, a warship sent out for the defense of Jamaica by the British government, found the French privateer ship Le Cerf Volant. The British master of a ship from Virginia had accused the French vessel of piracy so the Cerf Volant was arrested and condemned as a prize by the Jamaica Court of Admiralty. After the Oxford was blown up (in an explosion said to have killed 250 people) while Morgan dined in the great cabin, the Cerf Volant ultimately became his flagship, under the new name of Satisfaction. After cruising east along the coast of Hispaniola and attacking coastal towns along the way, Morgan turned south to sail across the Caribbean again, making for Maracaibo in the Gulf of Venezuela. This he took, together with the more southerly town of Gibraltar. On their return journey, the privateers were bottled up at the lake of Maracaibo by several large Spanish warships and a reinforced fort. Morgan had to use great ingenuity to escape and doing so added to his treasure yet again. In 1670 he met off modern-day Haiti with his captains and with their 1800 men decided to attack Panama, the legendary city of the Indies. They landed at Chagres and had to fight their way through the jungle first before reaching the first of three fortifications. Remember this was attempted by the legendary Sir Francis Drake who failed miserably. Morgan succeeded in capturing Panama, during the siege the city caught fire and was burned to the ground. Morgan and his comrades returned to Port Royal with hundreds of slaves and chests of gold and silver and jewels. As happened often in Europe during the 17th century, politics had taken a turn back in England, attacking Spanish ships and cities became for a time an embarrassment for the English government and Henry Morgan and his protector, the Governor, were summoned home, but not punished. After three years
England’s attitude toward Spain again changed and once again Morgan was sent to relieve the threat against Jamaica. Morgan at the age of 45, returned as Lieutenant Governor organized the island’s defenses and survived political treachery, whilst expanding his estates and their value. He also still enjoyed the company of his former colleagues a bit too much in the rum bars of Port Royal and his once admirable physique became bloated and his pallor yellowed. Morgan was said to have been faithful to his wife from the day they were married, but they were never able to have children He died on the 25th of August 1688. For many decades, Henry Morgan’s name meant only the name of a romantic "pirate" of yore, but there are recent signs of a re-evaluation by scholars. As John Weston asserts Morgan is being looked at “as one of Britain's most successful military strategists and as a man with the leadership qualities of an Alexander. He gained the loyalty of the buccaneers, who followed him without question, and the respect of kings and princes”. P.S. As I finished putting this piece together, there came news reports in the media about an amazing discovery near the mouth of the Chagres River in Panama. It appears an archaeological team from Texas State University who had been researching Morgan’s lost ships for the Panamanian government, have retrieved 6 iron 17th century cannons from the wreck of a ship they feel might be Morgan’s flagship, the Satisfaction. There are crates and boxes within the perimeter of the remains of the ship’s hull and so it appears this episode of Caribbean History may soon have much new evidence to fill in the 300-year-old story. The company that sells Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum is helping to fund the research for publicity only as all artifacts will become the property of the government of Panama for display at the Patronato Panama Viejo.
http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/08/04/7245795-capt-morgans-lost-fleet-found
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-14391855

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Kenny Dalglish


Lower East Side Ruminations

It started off a place where I used to meet Brian, my peripatetic brother, to eat or to drink, then it became the place in which Brian lived, then our mom told us it was near where she was born, and it took on a new resonance altogether. Later it became the place where Brian died, and shortly after that it was the place that my family lived, where we made new friends, where our son attended school, where we were part of a true neighbourhood.
The Lower East Side, or the East Village, Alphabet City or Loisaida,  it was/is referred to by all these names. What you called it depended on when you came to know of it, or how you came to know of it or from where you viewed it-  inside or outside. It was the northern part of the Lower East Side to generations of immigrants- Irish, Italian, German, Jewish, Polish, Ukrainian, Puerto Rican and their descendents. A couple of their bath houses still exist, one on St Marks Place near where WH Auden lived.
New York City's first public housing was built in the 1930's on East Third Street at Avenue A and was declared open by Fiorello LaGuardia and Eleanor Roosevelt.

It became the East Village in the 1960's when the the 'real' Village, Greenwich Village, filled up and became expensive. As is usual it was gentrified by white artists, musicians and hippies looking for cheaper rents. While the gringos were now calling it by a different name, the Spanish-speakers had one, too. Loisaida became home to the generations of Puerto Ricans that emigrated to New York after WW II, settling there in the tenements and the housing projects mostly between Avenue A and the river, playing baseball and having cookouts in the narrow fingers of parks that grasped that southeastern part of Manhattan between the FDR Drive and the East River.
The later epithet Alphabet City, was what gringos called Loisaida in the late 70's and 80's when heroin was king. The name comes from the four avenues -A, B, C, & D- that lay east of First Avenue. In this period one could see curious lines of people leading into ostensibly abandoned tenement buildings on these streets and avenues, queueing up brazenly, impatiently, night and day, to score and shoot smack. I would see the little envelopes with brand names like "daze out", "black flag" or "poison" in the park or on the sidewalks.

Geographically it is a small place but it possessed a staggering diversity. It has always been a place on the fringe and OF the fringe. Immigrants, agitators, gangsters, communists, gays, anarchists, hippies, yippies, artists, punks, poets, Hare Krishna devotees all lived and felt free within its confines. Its northern boundary is East Fourteenth Street, its southern, East Houston Street. Bordered to the west by Broadway and to the east by the FDR Drive and East River.

It was always Greenwich Village or uptown Manhattan, the Upper East Side that had the cachet, the money, the style; the Lower East Side had life.

It is in fact a small urban village with only one proper park or green space, Tompkins Square Park. There weren't many tall buildings, so there was light, and there was air. You knew there was a river not-too-very-far-away.
Founded in 1850 and named for Daniel D. Tompkins (1774–1825), Vice President of the United States under President James Monroe and the Governor of New York (1807-1817) it has been at the center of the labor and socialist movements from its creation. 1857 saw food and job riots by immigrants, in 1863 there were Draft Riots that threatened anarchy to the entire City of New York, in the1874 Tompkins Square riots police brutally broke up a workers demonstration of thousands of people, and in 1877 the National Guard was called in to break up a crowd of 5,000 who had come to listen to Socialist and Communist speakers. Robert Moses changed the layout in the 1930s to its current state, mostly in an attempt to prevent further mass gatherings.
Still, in the 1960's there were anti-Viet Nam war demonstrations and in 1988 there was a riot by neighborhood residents against the police when they tried to remove the homeless that squatted in the park. I remember that one, I was there for that. Now it is a safe, clean, gentrified park, suitable for...well...the gentry. It has a formal dog area with water available. This in a park that had rank toilets and no functioning water fountains for humans for many years.
At the northeast corner of the park stands The Christodora, originally built and intended to assist women from lower economic classes at 145 Avenue B, was converted to luxury condos. I can remember sitting in my apartment at E. 3rd Street reading the New York Times Real Estate section and seeing the developer's ad in the New York Times. It was in the NY Times I saw a realtor when asked what longtime residents who could not afford the new gentrified neighborhood should do flippantly replied "They had better learn to swim", indicating that their time was up on the island of Manhattan and should swim away to the other boroughs.
Imagine, we thought at the time, million dollar apartments in the Lower East Side. Little did we know what was to come.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tompkins_Square_Park_Police_Riot_(1988)

The gentrification of the Christodora rankled. This building was a symbol. It sparked demonstrations in 1986 and it still looms over the northeast corner of the park. Iggy Pop has a flat there now. Just a couple of doors away is where Charlie Parker lived with his family at 151 Avenue B. A few doors further down at the corner of Ninth Street, the Irish Famine church, St Brigid's miraculously stands yet, having just escaped its own gentrification death sentence from the ArchDiocese of New York despite the vehement opposition to the Church's plan by the current and past residents and parishioners. This close escape is only and solely through the kindness of a wealthy philanthropist. My friend Jimmy and I stood one day almost in tears helpless as we watched workmen demolish (not remove) the stained glass windows of the church built in 1848 by the hands of those who had escaped the Potato Famine in their new home across the Atlantic.
Many of the cafes, shops, stores, bars and even gas stations that struggled through the tough times and that made this place precious are now gone. I mean I realize this is New York after all, things do change fast here. However what I object to is that they seem to have been replaced mostly by replicas of shops and restaurants from elsewhere. These new ones don't feel like they fit like the old ones. For instance, when my wife, son, and myself moved to East Third Street in April 1986 we had 2 neighborhood bakeries-one ON our block across the street and 3 doors down, the next just around the corner on First Avenue between 2nd and 3rd Streets. Both were gone within 2 years. One replaced by a bar that I never really liked much, the other by a restaurant favoured by Egyptian taxi drivers that I did like. The bakeries were not fancy or exotic. Just neighborhood bakeries where the woman who made the bread would smile at you and your kid when you came in and give you 10 rolls when you ordered a half dozen.
On that block ('our' block in my mind still) is Mary House, a refuge for elderly women (there was one who would bum cigarettes off me) provided by the Catholic Worker, a Socialist organization whose newspaper my family subscribed, and whose publishing offices were two blocks away on First Street.
3rd Street between First and Second Avenues was like the United Nations, then. There were Ukrainians, Puerto Ricans, African-Americans, Polish, Argentinians, West IndiansMexicans, Italians, Chinese, French. Quentin Crisp was our neighbor, and at the complete other end of the spectrum so was the NYC Chapter of the Hells Angels.
It is a prettier place now. Few if any lots left with abandoned hulks of wrecked cars, the weedily infested deserts with shards of glass embedded in the earth trod by generations to which this area was their first home any place in America. The city provides services now-the streets are cleaner for one. There are no more lines of drug addicts visible except maybe at the velvet rope of a lounge on a weekend night.
Now you see doormen wave down cabs for white people in Alphabet City.

.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Grant Green Sookie Sookie

MEDIA BITES
One often hears that things never change. Well, I think things do change...though rarely for the better. Take for example media and its role in today's society.
Today, the real power is money, not democratic politics. Multinational conglomerates have no national allegiances. This is really what globalisation is all about. It is less about "Free Trade" and more about no comeuppance. Look at a list of donors to US political campaigns and you will see donations made by the same individual or corporation to each of the opposing candidates in order to ensure influence whatever the outcome of the election. As to the electorate, apathy rules. This is how powerful business interests-those in real power like it. Numb your minds with hundreds of tv channels that broadcast empty entertainment while news and information is minimized or sterilized. Reality tv indeed!
The challenge to this voter apathy is where the 2008 US presidential election offers a change of the status quo. Barack Obama has galvanized support and generated real excitement around his candidacy that has not been seen for many years. If Obama wins it will remain to be seen how much real change one president can effect. Change in the current US political reality is dependent on the backing of the Congress and this means the Democrats must first have viable majorities in both Houses and secondly, they must have the political will to change the course set over the past 8 years by perhaps the most damaging, and corrupt US administration ever.
I grew up a child of the first tv generation in the US. Needless to say it was all broadcast television at the time. I lived in the New York City area so we had 7 (!) channels 2(CBS), 4(NBC), 5(local WNEW), 7(ABC), 9(local WOR), 11(local WPIX), 13(PBS) which was more than in many areas of the country at that time. From 6pm to 7:30pm if your tv was on, you HAD to watch news on any of the networks and even the local stations to some extent. News was important and was treated as such. There was another similar news report at 11pm to recap the day's events.
The owners of these networks and local stations were media companies, that is to say, independent companies whose business was television and radio and sometimes newspapers too, though there were laws in place which prevented any company from owning newspapers and television stations in one market. These laws, enacted to prevent any entity from being too influential, have been circumvented since Rupert Murdoch's assault on world media turned its attention to the US in the 1980's. 
The people who presented the news in those days while famous, were not "stars". They were newspeople, many with long distinguished print or radio journalism careers stemming from WWII coverage of the London blitz and the front lines. Most were disciples of Edward R Murrow. They were not pretty-boys. You got the news straight, as impartial as possible, and as quickly and accurately they could get it. The news divisions were separate from the entertainment divisions and would brook no interference from anyone. The companies they worked for were not owned by multi-national conglomerates replete with their own large sharp axes to grind like GE, Murdoch, VIACOM or Disney.
Over the past 8 years all of these modern major media outlets-New York Times, Washington Post, CBS, NBC, ABC, etc.-abrogated their Fourth Estate responsibility ( I wonder how many have heard of Thomas Carlyle or Edmund Burke) becoming active enablers of an illegal and immoral war and the serious encroachments on Constitutional and Human rights that followed. Their coverage of this important presidential campaign, again focusing on nonsense instead of the very important far-reaching issues that face the country and the world, does not give one much hope for any real change for the future. Remember, the media in this country helped make the case for the impeachment of a powerful president for a lot less serious offenses than this administration has been found guilty.
And what of PBS you might ask? Well, during this recent period the Public Broadcasting Stations were just about the only place one could hear dissenting or even questioning voices on television. As part of the Corporation for Public Broascasting, PBS depends on the US government for its operating budget plus donations from its viewers. Succeeding Republican administrations starting with Reagan have year after year slashed their budgets, forcing the stations to rely on more and longer fund-raising drives to bridge the gaps. The Bush administration went further appointing Ken Tomlinson to the CPB whose brief was to root out the left-leaning bias. Tomlinson was Reagan's head of Voice of America, and former editor of Reader's Digest, in other words a right wing activist for a long time. To illustrate how things have changed, when Nixon complained about PBS coverage of him and the Viet Nam war, the chairman of the CPB resigned in protest, and a Republican Representative from Texas led the national effort to stop the meddling. 
Imagine that happening today