New And Fresh: Famous Findlayians Page

image of Findlay Ohio Bicentennial logo

I wanted to do something to celebrate the bicentennial of my hometown Findlay, Ohio. I decided to totally redo my Famous Findlayian web page. I gutted it and rebuilt it with fresh css, a splash of color, replacing some images with better ones, a new masthead image, and a couple of new additions to the list. Check it out.

Here is an example of a new person added to my cyber hall-of-fame:

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SHOCKING” Why I still hate celebrity gossip shows

There have been complaints for years about blurring the line between “real” news and entertainment. The producers say people want entertainment news which includes celebrity gossip. Some of it is factual and can be “news” but a lot more is worthless except to fill up time. A series of incidents, over the years, led me to stop watching “entertainment news” shows all together.

It started with “A Current Affair” back in 1986. Where the grocery store tabloids started to be used as content on television. Then other respectable news shows about entertainment – like “Entertainment Tonight” – emulated that style.

Some starlet being arrested for DUI was “SHOCKING” or some actor’s mental problems were “EXCLUSIVELY” told on one of the shows. Then you had hosts who last worked as weather readers on some obscure TV station breathlessly interviewing a “friend” of a celebrity who had more “SHOCKING” personal problems… and on and on and on.

I was a long time viewer of “Entertainment Tonight” because of the actor interviews, coverage of upcoming movies, movie trailers, and hard news about the industry (news when it was factual and relevant).

Then that all changed.

The first incident was the death of actress Rebecca Schaeffer in 1989. A stalker had murdered the young television star. “Entertainment Tonight” (“ET”) did respectful stories about then unknown problem of stalking and how Schaeffer’s life was cut short. The series of stories lasted as long as the normal grieving process for those not blood relatives – about a week or so. They also did follow up stories as the criminal case of the killer went through the system.

Ten years later there were a series of incidents involving actor Brad Pitt and a stalker. A young woman kept getting arrested after breaking into his home. The last time she was caught in his house wearing some of his clothes. Luckily Pitt was not there at the time.

I expected the same type of factual reporting on “ET” as happened when Rebecca Schaeffer was killed. By this time “ET” had changed into a trashy tabloid type show but I was still “SHOCKED” when they cross promoted an “EXCLUSIVE” interview with Pitt’s stalker on the old Leeza Gibbon’s daytime talk show! Gibbon’s show was giving the criminal stalker an hour of air time to stroke her ego and tell the world how much as just had to be with the actor.

I threw up a little in my mouth. I changed the channel and have never watched “ET” or shows like it since.

Flash forward 10 more years and it seems much worse. “ET” is even more trashy and is joined with shows like “Extra” and “The Insider”. Not only do they still report breathlessly on the personal failings of celebrities, but they report on manufactured celebrities like the Kardasians and Paris Hilton among others. They now have “Z” list celebrities hosting the shows and interviewing their “colleagues” as if they have a psychology degree as if we should care how some one is dealing with obesity or whatever personal demon is lurking within them.

An argument can be made that a celebrity talking about something serious like drug addiction or domestic violence can lead us regular folks to get help or what not. I agree celebrities can shed light on serious topics of interest to the general public but it should be done in a appropriate setting with real experts or professionals interviewing them – not talking to some failed celebrity hosting a gossip show.

A recent topic on the “The Insider” and one on “Extra” reinforced my decision to not watch these trashy shows if at all possible (I need to change the channel quicker *sigh*).

The other day one of the “The Insider” “hosts” asked “Should John Edwards be wearing an orange jump suit?” Edwards is the former Presidential and 2004 VP candidate who got into a mess when it was revealed he had an affair with a staff member. The question asked was related to the fact that Edwards tried to cover-up the affair.

Covering up an affair is not criminal unless he had someone murdered or committed some other crime. In fact marital issues are and should be private personal matters for everyone including those in the public eye.

On “Extra” they had “EXCLUSIVE” video of actor Nick Nolte dumpster diving in an alley in Hollywood. The voice over breathlessly asked “Is Nick Nolte down and out for real?” playing on one of his most memorable film roles as a homeless man in the movie “Down and Out in Beverly Hills”. They also used the footage to once again bring up is now famous arrest for DUI some years back that produced a crazy looking mug shot of the actor with wild unwashed hair and a cheesy flower print shirt.

If one watched the full story then the fact was he had misplaced a bag with personal items in it and was looking for it as many of us do when we lose something. He was retracing his steps and checking trash bins in case someone had stolen it and dumped it. The final bit of video showed him finding the bag at a coffee shop down the street where he had left it on the counter by mistake.

I guess the factual headline “Actor looses bag” is less interesting then the made up one of “Is Nick Nolte down and out for real?”

Death, Narcissism, and Celebrity

This past week three famous people died. Two were film actors and the third was a person who was only famous because they had been on a reality TV show. I have never understood the general obsession people have with celebrities, especially the celebrities who are famous for nothing more than being one. I have known people and seen people who are so into themselves that they want to be famous but I have never understood why. What I do know is the obsession with celebrity is not healthy and not discriminating in this obsession is even worse. It can get plain silly at times.

I remember when I was kid delivering newspapers. On my route was this one house where they worshiped Elvis. There was every kind of Elvis item in the known universe both inside and outside the house. They also had a mini-alter in their car. I thought that was overdoing it.

This past week showed what happens when that house with the Elvis shrine gets blown up in the media.

Ron Silver and Natasha Richardson passed away. Silver was a good character actor who could move effortlessly between drama and comedy. Richardson came from a family of great actors in the UK and she carried on the family ability. Her passing was due to a tragic accident and I did feel bad for her family just as I did for Silver’s friends and family.

The third celebrity to pass away was well known in the UK for appearing on a reality TV show. She died from cancer which is never a good way to die since it is causes such pain and suffering. The reaction to her death, however was on par to the one when Silver and Richardson passed, which just didn’t seem right to me.

The prime minister said he was “deeply saddened” by the news.

“The whole country has admired her determination to provide a bright future for her children.

“She will be remembered fondly by all who knew her and her family can be extremely proud of the work she has done to raise awareness of cervical cancer, which will benefit thousands of women across the UK.”

PM leads tributes to Jade Goody

This was the same woman who caused a fire storm when she was on the reality show that made her famous by making nasty racist comments about another “player”. Yes, the woman’s death was tragic but the Prime Minister gave a statement? That’s like if President Obama gave a statement of condolences if the Naked Cowboy had passed away.

But Doug, what about the media frenzy when that guy landed the plane in the Hudson River.

You see, I think there is at least 3 levels of celebrity.

Level 1 are those people who pay their dues through some skill or job that is mainly for public consumption. For them fame comes to them for doing a good job. These people are actors, writers, sports figures etc…..

Level 2 are those people where they happen to be in the right time and right place and fame happens. They aren’t seeking it and after a period of time it fades. The pilot who landed in the Hudson is one of these people. The soldiers who raised the flag on Iwo Jima during World War II are others of this level.

Level 3 are people who have really nothing to offer in defense of their fame other than the media focusing on them for whatever reason. They haven’t worked and paid dues to earn it. They seek it out or play along with it or think they deserve it. Paris Hilton comes to mind as does the woman who died in the UK I mentioned earlier. Some other recent ones are a majority of the people who tried out for American Idol and won’t accept they have no real talent. Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher (aka Joe The Plumber) is another of this level.

There is nothing wrong with being famous per se. If you want it and work for it and it comes to you – great. If you take short cuts or think you deserve it then there is a problem. I think we have way too much of this media created celebrity.

I was one of four or five people who spoke at my high school graduation and in my speech I remember having a bit where I said you might see my picture on the back of a bestseller I write. At the time I did think I would write a bestseller and be famous. I have never thought that I deserved it and have not really worked hard enough to do it, so that idea is less likely to happen than it was twenty years ago when I made the statement.

Do we really need to spend time wondering if some level 3 celebrity is or is not on drugs or might be married or whatever happens to normal non-famous people.

If you think it is important then you may need to reconsider your priorities because as Bill Murray said in the film “Meatballs” – It just doesn’t matter.

It really doesn’t.

As I said I admired the work of Ron Silver and Natasha Richardson, but never once did I think their passing was on the same level as if one of my family had passed away.

That wouldn’t be healthy.

Reflections on President Ford

Former President Gerald Ford died on Tuesday. He was 93 years old.

I was but a wee lad in 1974 when I watched President Nixon announced he was resigning his office and that then VP Ford would be taking over. After the corruption of Nixon on the news every night, Ford was boring. Until he pardoned Nixon.

Even as a kid of 6, I knew it was a bone head move on his part to do it. Now many years later you have to wonder that if Ford wanted to “put Watergate and the Nixon presidency in the past”, then why did he not pardon everyone involved in the Watergate mess?

In an article in the Washington Post, by Bob Woodward, it was noted that on August 1, 1974, before Nixon resigned:

[Nixon’s chief of staff, Alexander M.] Haig presented Ford with six scenarios: Nixon could step aside temporarily under the 25th Amendment, he could just wait and delay the ongoing impeachment process, or he could try to settle for a formal censure. In addition, there were three pardon options. Nixon could pardon himself and resign. Or he could pardon the aides involved and then resign. Or Nixon could agree to leave in return for an agreement that the new President Ford would pardon him.

Closing the Chapter on Watergate Wasn’t Done Lightly

Ford claimed thereafter there was never a deal but one has to wonder if he would have signed a pardon if Haig hadn’t suggested it. It reminds me of those scenes in detective shows when they ask to see some file and the person tells them no but then leaves the file out while saying they need to go to the bathroom and they will be back in 5 minutes. The file clerk didn’t give the file to the detective but he knew what he was doing in leaving it out for the detective to look at.

I remember Ford’s time in office for the bad recession, unemployment, the gas crises, and the evacuation of Saigon. He also told New York city no when it asked for a bail out when it declared bankruptcy. And he had an obsession with the Swine Flu and making sure everyone was vaccinated against it – similar to the hype about the current Bird Flu.

In June of 1976, Ford stopped in Findlay to give a stump speech in front of the Elks club downtown (on the corner of Main Street and Lincoln St). A few thousand people showed up to his rally including me and my family. He was the President, so even if my Mom wasn’t going to vote for him, we still came out to see him.

Across the street from the Elks was the headquarters of Marathon Oil and I remember workers there were looking out and opening windows to hear the speech. Several police officers used a bullhorn and ordered the windows closed for security reasons.

The other interesting note about that rally was a few years later a picture from the event was used in the civics book I had in school. That was cool.

I will agree that President Ford was a nice guy but the pardon of Nixon will taint his short time in office in my book.

Update to Famous Findlayians

I just updated my “Famous Findlayians” page on my website. That is where I list some collected info on famous people who either were born, lived, or worked in my hometown Findlay, Ohio.

A couple of web visitors pointed out a few more people I failed to mention in the first edition. People like C.J. “Pappy” Hart who was one of the “fathers” of the sport of Drag racing and Howard T. Ricketts, who helped isolate the bacteria that causes Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

I also tweaked some of the photos I included on the page and updated some of the text. Looks like I will have to tweak the layout some more later.

“Famous Findlayians”