Saturday, November 15, 2014

Let's Talk About Bill Cosby and Hannibal Buress

Comedian Bill Cosby has been accused of being a rapist by comedian Hannibal Burress who openly accused Cosby of such at a live performance recently. 

These are serious allegations that Buress has made that are based on stories that have surfaced by multiple women, notably Barbara Bowman who has accused Cosby of drugging and raping her at various times over a period of years.

Bill Cosby

Hannibal Burress

Barbara Bowman
Here is the video of Hannibal Burris in performance accusing Cosby of being a rapist

Burris is quoted as saying:

“It’s even worse because Bill Cosby has the f----n’ smuggest old black man public persona that I hate. He gets on TV and says ‘Pull your pants up black people, I was on TV in the '80s! I can talk down to you because I had a successful sitcom!’ Yeah, but you rape women, Bill Cosby, so turn the crazy down a couple notches.”

Buress also went on to say “That s--t is upsetting, if you didn’t know about it ... when you leave here, Google 'Bill Cosby rape.' That s--t has more results than 'Hannibal Buress.'"

Apparently it offends Buress to the point where he says he hates 'smug old black men who have been on TV in the 80's' telling him what to do and how to act. 

I'm not sure what's so crazy about Bill Cosby telling young blacks to pull up their pants. Bill Cosby is talking about self respect and personal responsibility.

It's also not funny to outright accuse a man of rape, in fact it's downright slander unless Buress has proof that these allegations are in fact true. 

Googling Bill Cosby and rape proves nothing in a court of law.

I posted a link to a story on Facebook this morning which sparked a great conversation between myself and two of my friends who weighed in with terrific insight and opinions on the Cosby allegations.

The story which appeared as an op-ed piece in the Washington Post alleges that Cosby drugged and raped Ms. Bowman over several years from the time that she was an 18 year old up and coming star and Cosby was her mentor. Bowman also spoke to The Daily Mail in a long piece detailing her relationship with Cosby.

What my friends and I came away with after reading these pieces and discussing our thoughts in what turned out to be a great discussion was the obvious:

You just never know.

Now I'm not going to stick my head in the sand and say that Bill Cosby (or anyone for that matter) isn't capable of doing these horrendous deeds as alleged, but I do have my doubts.

It seems from reading all the stories (and I'm not going to get into all the details - please read them yourself and form your own opinions) that Mr. Cosby was likely not the most faithful husband in his marriage. This of course, is nothing new and certainly not anything worthy of scandal other than the obvious when it comes to anyone's marital indiscretions.

Being accused of drugging and raping multiple women over a period of years is an entirely different story. And when there are multiple accusations, it does lend itself to the old adage: 'Where there's smoke there's fire.'

That said, something with Ms. Bowman's stories just doesn't add up.

Barbara is certain she was drugged by Cosby. And she believes raped by him too.

'I know for sure he forced himself multiple times upon me and since he needed to create an environment in which I could not fight him, I can't in all honesty say that I recall penetration because at that time I was in a vacant state of mind, as I was often drugged and brainwashed.

'Whatever drug he gave me, didn't allow me to think clearly when it was over and done with. It didn't register that I should be panicking. It was like amnesia almost. It was like what a lobotomy would do to you. I couldn't even think clearly when I was awake. I was vacant.'

Read more:
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Also stated in the Daily Mail piece:

The following years marked success for Barbara. She starred in more than 30 national TV commercials, including ones for McDonalds, Miller Light and Holiday Inn. She also had guest spots on Saturday Night Live, One Life to Live, and All My Children. She eventually moved to Los Angeles and continued to excel in film and TV.

'But I never got the career that I was meant to have.'

Eventually a girlfriend convinced her to meet with a lawyer in 1987. 

 I never got the career I was meant to have
'He laughed me out of the office. He said I was delusional, ridiculous, making these stories up. No one believed me. I called Gloria Allred. No one would listen. They thought I was making up stuff to get money. I never asked for or was given a penny. That's not the point. But it shut me up. I didn't need one more authority figure to tell me I was full of s***.'

Read more:
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

"I never got the career I was meant to have."

As one of my Facebook friends put so well:

In the entertainment industry, there is no such thing as a "career you were meant to have." That's the bottom line. You get the career you get. If it were about TALENT, the Kardashians would never have a show, right? So, Bowman saying "they thought I was making this up to get money" is misleading. "The career she was meant to have" translates directly to money. I continue to go back to the sentiment that every woman who cries wolf adds cynicism to the mix when another woman really is raped. That is the real crime here.

I couldn't agree more. It's interesting to note that high profile attorney Gloria Allred declined to represent Bowman as she herself stated in the Daily Mail article,

This bio is from Allred's own website:

Fearless lawyer, feminist, activist, television and radio commentator, warrior, advocate, and winner – Gloria Allred is all of these things and more. Voted by her peers as one of the best lawyers in America, and described by TIME Magazine as "one of the nation's most effective advocates of family rights and feminist causes," Allred has devoted her career to fighting for civil rights across boundaries of gender, race, age, sexual orientation, and social class.

I would think that if there were enough ammo to go after Bill Cosby, Gloria Allred would have been all over it.

I also find Ms. Bowman's statement that she 'never got the career she was meant to have' very troubling.

As my friend pointed out, it smells of blackmail.

I honestly hope that all of this is untrue. Bill Cosby seems to have been a standup guy with a great reputation. And as a parent who suffered the loss of a child, is not immune to tragedy. 

If this proves to be untrue, then let's hope that false accusations such as these are given the proper treatment because it makes it much harder for real victims to get justice.

If this does prove to be true, then let's hope that Cosby gets what he deserves.

Mr. Cosby may indeed be a 'serial rapist' as alleged. The truth is we honestly never truly know who anyone is unless you are close to them and know them well enough to refute such allegations. This is especially true when it comes to celebrities, athletes, politicians, or anyone with notoriety, money and power.

You just don't know, but the more I think about this the story becomes more about Hannibal Buress coming out and flatly accusing Bill Cosby of rape than the story about Cosby and his accusers. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Many Faces of Nelson Van Alden

If you missed out on HBO's great series Boardwalk Empire I urge you to at least check out a couple of the Season 1 episodes where actor Michael Shannon was simply brilliant.

I'm not here to single out Shannon as the best of the series by a longshot. There were so many terrific performances over the five season lifespan of Boardwalk, especially by lead Steve Buscemi who I can't give enough credit to in his role as the show's central character Enos 'Nucky' Thompson.

You may have seen Shannon in movies such as Groundhog Day where he has a small role as a newlywed

Or in the Superman movies as the evil General Zod (I'm gonna admit, I haven't really seen any of these new Superman movies, but I'm sure Shannon was awesome)

I think it's safe to say that Shannon really got to spread his wings over the 5 seasons in Boardwalk. His character was more or less reduced to a sideshow after a while (no spoilers here) but was integral in the fabric of the story in its entirety. And rightfully so.

I believe that Van Alden may have been a character that the producers and writers may have originally considered disposable, but found Shannon's portrayal as the quirky, uptight and occasionally psychotic government agent to be indispensable.

In short, Michael Shannon (as were many others) perfectly cast.

One of the greatest uptight characters ever
In Season 1, Van Alden leads a raid to rain on Nucky's parade during a Prohibition era St. Patrick's Day dinner with many local dignitaries to show he's the new boss in town. Van Alden and his agents burst through the door and he instructs the agents to "shoot anyone who tries to flee."

And in his most inimitable way after arresting a patsy to show Nucky he's watching tells the remaining guests to "Leave the premises in an orderly fashion."

This is one of the many moments Van Alden provides throughout the series where he delivers a stoic and stiff line which is usually dripping in irony or sarcasm given the moment.

You can actually buy a tshirt of that line (albeit a pretty crappy one)

Nothing is better than his now famous line "This has not been well thought out" in one of the final episodes in Season 5. (again, no spoilers here)

Here's to Michael Shannon's portrayal of one of the great ironic characters, Nelson Van Alden

Friday, September 5, 2014

Why Market Basket Is a Win For Everyone

A few weeks ago, I wrote about boycotting Market Basket due to the firing of CEO Arthur T. Demoulas and others loyal to his side of the family in the decades long feud over the supermarket empire.

Well, the saga is finally over and best of all the good guys won.

Why are Arthur T. Demoulas and his staff the good guys?

Let me count the ways.

1. Success. With a 71 store regional chain valued at 4 billion dollars prior to the 6 week walkout/shutdown/boycott, Arthur T. Demoulas proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that a corporation can be profitable, generous, socially and economically responsible and reward its employees with bonuses, promotions and incentives.

Going forward, Market Basket and Arthur T. Demoulas should be a case study for business models. The grocery business is cutthroat and highly competitive with razor thin margins. Yet Mr. Demoulas has successfully demonstrated that all of these things can be part of the corporate culture without damaging the bottom line.

Witness the 300 million dollar payout Arthur S. Demoulas and his fellow board members voted themselves last year. In spite of Arthur T's objections, the shareholders saw fit to disburse that money among themselves.

There was plenty of $$ in the kitty.

2. Employee Loyalty. When have we ever witnessed 25,000 employees including management put their jobs and careers on the line together with such resolve?

My best guess would be never.

Without a union these brave men and women took a stand vowing not to work for anyone other than Arthur T. Demoulas. That cannot be faked, manufactured or manipulated. Many of Mr. Demoulas' employees have been with the company for 30+ years.

In fact, one employee, Jim Miamis has been with them for 70+ years!!! Mr. Miamis is 86 years old and still going.

There's even a 94 year old gentleman who works at one of the stores in New Hampshire, Arthur St. John. Mr. St. John started working there 22 years ago, which means he was hired when he was 72.

Arthur St. John. 94 years young!
That comes from one thing and one thing only:


And folks, loyalty is a two way street. You can't have one without the other. These workers and managers all proved beyond any doubt that the company is being run correctly and compassionately.

3. Customer Loyalty. Again, this is a two way street and Market Basket passes with flying colors. I have never witnessed anything like this where customers from a broad range of geographic locations and income levels, all stayed away for 6 weeks.

Market Basket's business plummeted 90% during this boycott.

The city where I live has many folks who rely on Market Basket for two main reasons:

1) Prices
2) Locations

We have about 8 stores in close proximity to my city. Quite a few customers in this area do not own transportation and do not make the kind of money to afford shopping at Market Basket's competition.

Yet they did.
We all did.

My wife and were amazed every time we passed a Market Basket and saw very few cars in the parking lot where there would normally be hundreds. In fact, we typically went shopping after 7:00 on Saturday nights (yep, we have no life!) to avoid the crowds. We've since switched to Wednesdays (thanks to advice from my son who used to work for competitor Hannaford's) which seems to be an even less busy time to shop.

Tens of thousands of customers showed up in support in multiple rallies over the summer organized by employees..

You won't see people coming to a rally by the thousands for Starbucks.

4. Vendor Loyalty. Yes, even Market Basket's vendors began to jump ship when it seemed like there was not going to be a resolution. But once the agreement was reached and the stores were getting ready to be stocked, these vendors showed even more loyalty by making deliveries directly to stores to help get them back up and running.

You won't see that too often either.

Here's a quote from one of the vendors from the above link in the Boston Globe:
Another vendor, Extra Virgin Foods of Watertown, said it has ended its relationship with the company to support other managers who were fired along with Demoulas.
Extra Virgin Foods sells $2 million in Greek foods to Market Basket each year, said owner Paul Hatziiliades. 
“They’re about 60 percent of our annual business.
“But I’m just not going to deal with those people,” he said of co-chief executives James Gooch and Felicia Thornton, who were hired to replace Demoulas.
And finally, the man himself.

5. Arthur T. Demoulas. Just listen to his speech when the agreement was reached:

This folks, is how a leader sounds and acts. (Unlike others who announce they don't have a strategy...)

My wife and I (yes, we shop together) went back to Market Basket this week and it felt amazing to be back. The stores aren't quite fully stocked as yet, but you can bet they will be back to 100% in about a week.

When we were leaving we saw this sign posted over each door at the entrances and exits

Here's a shot I took of another sign on the way out

How will this serve as a model to other corporations and businesses? Time will tell. Market Basket has been around for a long, long time and is a very well established business. However, in spite of nearly 40 years of family infighting and feuding, the company prospered and grew and was profitable.

Arthur T. Demoulas had to pay a reported 1.5 billion to buy out the rivals to take complete control which now puts debt into the picture. Debt that the company never had before.

However, given the fact that there was enough cash to take a $300 million dollar payout to the former shareholders, my guess is Market Basket will be just fine. In fact, Arthur T. announced recently that they are planning to go ahead with expansion plans for four stores that were in various stages of completion prior to the shutdown.

Why is a supermarket, a grocery store so important?

To us, it was an eye opening experience. We split our shopping between WalMart and Stop and Shop (the largest grocery chain in our region) and it showed us how well run Market Basket is compared to their competition. Now in fairness, WalMart is fairly new to the grocery game and they certainly aren't geared up to the amount of customers that they suddenly gained. And neither was Stop and Shop.

The first few weeks were a nightmare. WalMart's cash registers just aren't setup to handle large grocery orders. And they have bag carousels at the end of each register with no baggers. The cashiers have to do all the bagging. It was a slow painful process to say the least.

On the other hand, Stop and Shop was actually a worse experience. I understand that they had to be cautious buyers, wary of overstocking and hiring new help with the threat of Market Basket returning, but shopping there was in plain words just a bad experience.

First the prices are just astronomical compared to Market Basket. (And Market Basket also takes another 4% off your bill through this year!!) Secondly, the store just seemed confused the way it was laid  out.

Grocery stores these days all follow the same cookie cutter layout, produce in the front as you enter and the rest all laid out in what the latest marketing trends tell them.

To us, Stop and Shop was disorganized and over priced. Yes, part of the disorganization was due to the increase of customers, but they are the largest grocery chain in the area. They should have and could have been better prepared.

To answer the question why Market Basket is so important, you have to look at a bigger picture than just grocery shopping. As important as saving money is with regard to what we all spend each week, what Market Basket is is a place where people who work hard can be successful.

We've somehow gotten way off that track here in this country. We place a value on higher education, which of course, is important.

But not everyone goes to college.
Not everyone can afford to go to college.
Not everyone is cut out to go to college.
What about them?

Not too long ago you could get a job right out of (or during) high school and make a decent living. In fact, we ran into one of neighbors at Market Basket the other night who did just that. He got a job at a local distributor right out of school and still works there 35 years later. But he almost lost that job because that distributor just happens to be one of Market Basket's vendors and Market Basket is its largest customer. Our friend told us that there were employees who were in their 70's and 80's who were callously let go and aren't coming back.

Kids (and their parents) these days come out of college with tens (and in some cases) hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and many do not have any prospects to find a job in the fields where they studied.

Market Basket offers opportunities to those who work hard and those who excel.

Which brings me to the latest insanity about raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

That is not what entry level employment is all about. We hear the disingenuous "Nobody who works full time should be living in poverty" tripe.

You should not be trying to support a family or yourself with an entry level minimum wage job as a career.


What about those who aren't educated enough or lack skills?

Well, that's what ENTRY LEVEL means.

Learn some skills.
Get educated.
Work hard and advance.

But for goodness sake, please don't expect to be paid a "living wage" to stand behind a cash register or a drive through window at a fast food restaurant for the rest of your life.

That is insanity.

Aim higher.

That is what this country is all about. That is the basic principal of what democracy is. The freedom to become whatever it is you are capable of becoming.

You and you alone have that power.

Not the government, not laws that require employers to pay more money than what a skillset is worth.


This is why a story like Market Basket is important. And this is the lesson that we as Americans should take away from this:

True success is earned.
It is not entitled.
It is not taken and redistributed.
It is earned on every level.

What this all shows is that there can be balance between corporate profits, customer and employee satisfaction. And the funny thing is, it's not magic, it's not some bold new age strategy never seen before.

It's just common sense.
Arthur T. Demoulas walks the walk and talks the talk.

And that's the difference.

The word unprecedented hardly describes what happened here this summer.

Thank you Arthur T. Demoulas, thank you Market Basket employees and thank you Market Basket management and administration.

You have shown the world how to work and how to live.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Random Suff

I don't which surprises me more, the fact that there are (or were) actual Canadian punk bands or that someone wrote a song about former Boston Bruins goalie Gerry Cheevers. Warning, it's really bad...

Chorus: I feel like Gerry Cheevers (got stitchmarks on my heart)

I'm sure old Cheesie wasn't too impressed.

As my late great brother in law John LaPorte used to say: "Doggies are the cwaziest people".

This is one of the most insane websites I've ever seen. Apparently it tracks internet attacks worldwide in real time. Fascinating stuff.

34 More days until NHL hockey returns!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Amazing Story of Christopher Knight - A Tribe of One

Meet Christopher Knight.

Incredibly powerful story of a man who, for reasons he really didn't either understand or want to share, left society behind. In 1986 Knight drove his Subaru Brat as far as it would go into the Maine woods and wasn't discovered for nearly 30 years. Well worth the read.

The Daily Mail Online also has an update about Knight trying to follow court orders and assimilate back into society.