Civilized Discourse: An Interview with Steve Allen.

Steve Allen, founder of the Tonight Show, producer of Meeting of Minds, composer (This Could Be The Start of Something Big), reminds us of the virtues of civilized discourse. This interview was taped in the early 90s, but is very applicable today considering how critical thinking appears to be discouraged at every turn.

They Didn’t Forget

Victory Christian Academy was a girls home in Ramona, CA. Children were made to do construction work at the home. One died as a result. The women return to plant a tree in memory of their fallen school friend, and to share with others who have been victimized, harmed, or worse at some of these facilities.

The current proprietors of the property allowed the women to walk through the facilities and remember.

The teen behavioral modification industry is a billion dollar business, largely unregulated, leaving a trail of human wreckage in its wake. Some claim to have been helped through unlicensed boys and girls homes but a growing amount of survivors are stepping forward with their accounts.

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The Wisecrack Way (or: What Makes A Successful You Tube Channel?)

What did you do during the lockdown? I watched a lot of YouTubes and created two YouTube Channels. Since few things were open in Las Vegas, there wasn’t much do except to create and watch content. I created The Last Fundamentalist web series and tried to pump some steroids into my other channel Vegas Apocalypse. The great hope, of course, was that one of them might score a hit and get monetized! That didn’t happen.

I studied channels that did get monetized. They all looked pretty bland: young people sitting on a couch bitching for hours. Well, I can bitch on a couch, too! Boy, do I get bored easily by the sound of my own voice! The channels produced by YouTubers closer to my age centered around specific topics: how to dress over 50 to how to repair your car. Single topics. Niche topics.

Variety within a YouTube channel seems forbidden and toxic.

Wisecrack bucks that trend. This successful YouTube channel produces a number of web series with different subjects. There is Thug Notes, movie critiques like What Went Wrong With Suicide Squad?

Wisecrack was created by Jacob Saloman and Jared Bauer. This story from Tubefilter reveals how they met in college, came to California, and began exploring viral video. Their youtube channel became popular and attracted millions. They are now youtube millionaires and their videos are used in high schools and community colleges across the country.

Lloyd Kauffman (right) next to his creation, The Toxic Avenger

Lloyd Kauffman, the founder of Troma Entertainment, once described his motivation as being one that made ‘unsexy subjects sexy’. Kauffman addressed important issues of environmentalism and man’s contribution to pollution through movies like The Toxic Avenger and Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead.

Wisecrack does the same thing. The video, ‘Why Are Smart People So Dumb?’ addresses the rise of ‘thought leaders’ who amass great followings and dollars from Ted Talks, podcasts, and social media by pretending to be the contemporary extension of Voltaire and other 19th Century European thinkers. It illuminates the fact that society’s problems are so complex that it takes more than a ‘power pose’ or a ‘positive attitude’ to fix some of the problems we have in our country, and in our lives.

Sparky Sweets, P.H.D. analyzes Go Set A Watchman.

I was introduced to Wisecrack by way of Thug Notes. I finished Go Set a Watchmen by Harper Lee. The ending confused me. Was it suddenly ‘be kind to bigots, week?’ Since I’m practically a non stop watcher of YouTube, I entered ‘Go Set a Watchman’ in the search bar and came up with Thug Notes take on the book.

Sparky Sweets, PHD, commentary on Harper Lee’s novel was just what I needed to hear! This was a book Harper Lee did not want the public to see and, were it not for an assistant taking advantage of her for that ‘sweet sequel money’ as Dr. Sweets tells us, the book would never have seen the light of day.

I couldn’t get enough Thug Notes! I started out with books I had read and then branched off to those I’ll never get to spend the proper amount of time reading.

What Went Wrong with Billionaires?

There are timely short subjects on the theme ‘What went wrong?’.

Billionaires: What Went Wrong? explores just where billionaires came from.

Hint: government contracts.

Their video about anti-vaxxers is especially noteworthy because it explores the origins of vaccines and the often inhumane ways our military and founding fathers often did experiments on slaves. Consent was never required!

This understandably breeds a distrust in doctors. Snake oil salesmen, who exploit the mistakes and gullibility of the masses, exploit these terrible practices for something even worse. The illusion people are going to ‘take back your medical care’ and sock it to the medical establishment by buying from snake oil salesmen is a very lucrative one. There’s corruption on all sides, but ultimately, we must keep our wits about us and not fall for people who exploit our weaknesses.

This is a video I would love to share on Facebook, except for my paranoia that they would suspend my account for anything that has the word ‘covid’ in it. The bot is no respecter of context! Many of these diverse videos deserve to be seen. Share if you dare:

The uniqueness of Wisecrack is found in it’s variety.

There is a love for sharing as much information in the most entertaining way. Perhaps that is the common theme? I find that very appealing. YouTube ‘thought leaders’ emphasize that successful monetized channel is one centered on a niche theme. Sure, Thug Notes might be a book review show, but I am not sensing any main theme or niche topic from the bulk of the videos from Wisecrack.

Perhaps the secret of YouTube success isn’t to narrow in on a topic and stick with it until boredom do you part. Instead, be true to your attitude, but keep exploring the variety and keep breaking through the boundaries. Like they do at Wisecrack.

This is Paris – A Review

Watch This is Paris by clicking above link.

This is Paris is the work of a budding activist. The fact that it premiered on YouTube, a platform that people of all economic strata can access, alerts us to the fact that whatever the message is in this movie, the producers do have a message about unregulated teen rehabilitation centers that are rampant through the United States.

I was fascinated by the fact that Paris Hilton’s mother was a child model for Sears and Roebuck Catalogue, early 70s era. Paris was modeling around the same age. She never knew a life that wasn’t wealthy, private, and somewhat caged in.

We see the glamorous part in the beginning. She spends her time partying on the Sunset Strip, only to be taken advantage by a guy who videotapes their encounters together and releases it to the world. Joan Rivers, the late comedian, is seen poking fun at her troubles as if this were all a career choice approved by her parents.

Paris Hilton protests at Provo.

The parents aren’t quite how to control everything. They send her to the Provo Canyon School, an organization known for credible accounts of abuse. You can read about the Provo school from a variety of sites throughout the internet. The Hiltons decided to hire an escort service to take their daughter to the school. An ‘escort service’, for the uninitiated, are people whose job it is to transport a troubled teen from their homes to their future places of incarceration.

Paris is awakened at night and taken from her bed by two guys. She is pulled from the bedroom, put in a motorized vehicle, and away she goes to Provo! She is subject to moments of isolation, abuse, and labor.

When she got out of Provo, she starred in the series The Simple Life. Her screen persona seemed unfamiliar with physical labor, but that was an act. Those who were also incarcerated at Provo with Paris knew better.

Paris Hilton with Katherine McNamara and other survivors from Provo Canyon.

Now that she regained some independence, Paris reunited with former students of the Provo home. Katherine McNamara, who was with Paris in Provo, becomes the centerpiece that pulls this movie together. She describes not only the scope of the troubled teen industry, but what other survivors of this home experienced.

Paris Hilton Millstone Collection? Just a thought.

Paris vows to spend the rest of her days closing down schools like this, and to also achieve her dream of being a billionaire. Can one have justice for troubled teens and still make a billion? Perhaps a Paris Hilton Millstone Collection might do the trick? Just inscribe this biblical verse on the inner circle: “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Matt. 18:6“?

I’d buy it and I’m not even religious! That could probably sell well with the Paris Hilton brand with funds going to activism to either close down or regulate all troubled teen centers and children’s homes.

Paris Hilton made good on her activist vow since This is Paris. She protested outside her school. Testified before the Utah State Legislature about the harm such unlicensed places inflicted on teens and the need for accountability.

She also sells her image and merchandise in her role as an influencer. The movie does point out that Paris Hilton was the original influencer before the influencers existed. Let’s hope her influence pays off in the ultimate way: with regulation of the troubled teen industry.

Dwayne Walker is the author of ‘Our Pastor Molested Me, Now What?

Tiger Khan: Requiem for the Universal Man

Tiger Khan was poised for greatness. According to Jeff Archer, despite his in-ring shenanigans as a bad guy from India, he was a most humble and quiet human being. By 1998, he was the champion of the Pennsylvania Championship Wrestling organization. Rarely did someone his age wear the belt of a pro wrestling promotion. At age 25, Tiger had all the credentials to go to the top of his career.

He was found dead in his Anaheim apartment at age 33. This documentary features previously unseen footage of Tiger Khan and his parents being interviewed by Evan Ginzburg (associate producer, The Wrestler), and memories from the wrestling community (including Leapin’ Lanny Poffo). The footage of Tiger Khan in his apartment was shot during the production of the indie wrestling documentary, Wrestling Then and Now.

Tiger Khan, along with Killer Kowalski and Don ‘Dr. Death’ Arnold, appear in Wrestling Then and Now. Those three are no longer with us. Yet, we can still remember their presence through videos and photos on Instagram, YouTube, and a variety of social media. 

Tiger Khan: Requiem for The Universal Man is now streaming on Amazon Prime! 

Or, watch it now on YouTube!