Monthly Archives: July 2009

Because sometimes having fun is more….well, fun.

It’s Casual Friday again on the Swami, so I’m bunking off, shirking my duties, evading my commitments, and generally not showing up for work.

Oh, I know, I’m setting a bad example to the kids.

But you know what? They’re your kids, not mine. I’ll leave it to you to explain why a grown man who should be keeping up with his regular duties decides all of a sudden not to write anything readable or coherent, and instead heads off to the beach. It’s called parental responsibility, people.

Now, a word from our sponsor.

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Man boobs. This time it’s personal.

 Raw food update.

(I realize how many of you will read that first line, groan, and immediately leave the blog, but it’s important. To me anyway. Plus, since a few readers saw what I was doing and began a similar regime themselves, it’s important to them too.)

I’ve been on the raw food diet now for…I lost count somewhere along the way, but I believe it’s over three weeks, almost four. During that time, the following happened:

  1. I lost ten pounds. Not ten pounds I could afford to lose, I was already before-afterthin, but ten pounds nonetheless.  My neck is thinner, my shirts are hanging off me, I look good in a bikini again. Also, people are starting to comment adversely. “God, you’re so skinny!”
  2. My feet started aching. It’s painful to walk now, for some reason, though of course all the organs in the body have nerve endings in the feet, so it’s obviously related. Maybe my insides are screaming for help. Yes, that’s probably it.
  3. I started to feel really alive. Focused, athletic, strong, determined.
  4. My skin is fantastic. I had one or two minor break-outs while I was detoxing, and I got an ulcer on my tongue that was reeeeally painful. Otherwise, I’m developing a bit of a glow. And in a world looking for alternative sources of energy, that can’t be a bad thing.
  5. My food allergies have subsided. I put this down to the fact that I’m not eating the foods I’m allergic to. Duh.
  6. My man-boobs (I’m a B-cup), which developed years ago after I drank way too many lattes (containing hormones) and ate way too much acidic food (which does something to encourage estrogen, I believe) suddenly look even more ridiculous than they did before. [UPDATE: August 25th 2011]. The answer to man-boobs, I’m now discovering, is to cut out wheat initially, then do push-ups to tighten the skin. Lots and lots of push-ups. I started 10 days ago, doing 3 a day (which is all I could manage), then gradually increasing the number each morning. Already I’m doing 18 a day. And two people have commented that my moobs look significant smaller, as the muscles tighten, causing the skin to be pulled taut. Oh yes. But the core issue is about wheat. If you haven’t read the book Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis, you should. He puts enlarged breasts in men mainly down to the crap that’s in modern-day wheat.
  7. My senses are heightened. My sense of smell, for instance, is through the roof. Unfortunately, this makes normal food smell even better and more enticing than it really is, and I want some. NOW!
  8. Friends are avoiding me. In droves. The telephone never rings any more.  Apparently, I’m considered a real bore because I’m so enthusiastic about nutrition and they’re not, and every time I eat something live and raw and healthy it reminds them that what they’re eating is dead and slowly killing them. So? What’s wrong with that?
  9. I’m not being invited out to dinner or to dinner parties. dinnerPeople are anticipating that I’ll be an awkward guest and start picking and choosing what I’ll eat (and they’re not wrong), which ruins it for everyone. Our neighbors called up last night and invited my partner out to dinner. My name didn’t even come up.
  10. My partner makes his own food without consulting me and sits eating it, reading a magazine, hoping silently that I don’t bring up the subject of raw food, because if I mention one more time that what he’s putting in his mouth is dead he may lash out.
  11. I paid for an internet course on how to reduce the size of my moobs. The trick seems to be to increase the alkalinity of your diet and do weights to tighten the chest. I begin that next week. (MANBOOB UPDATE: Discovered that man boobs are caused by the consumption of wheat. Didn’t know that. It’s in a NY Times bestselling book called ‘Wheat Belly,’ which I wholewheatedly recommend.)
  12. Salads I used to eat in local restaurants now taste vile. This is because they use vegetables sprayed with pesticides and for the first time I can actually taste them.
  13. The food cravings won’t go away. Cake especially. But I’ve managed to talk some sense into myself before eating them, and avoided lapsing. However, cake, being sacred, will definitely be a part of my diet again in the future. It is the law.
  14. Most of the food I used to eat holds no allure or appeal any more. Pasta may smell good, but I have no desire whatsoever to put it in my mouth. And chicken….yeuw.
  15. feet15. Except for the soles of my feet, which hurt like hell, I feel terrific. My body has adapted quickly.
  16. 16. I’ve learned to “cook” raw meals at home that are really very exciting and delicious. Raw is not as dismal or eccentric as it at first sounds.
  17. Raw restaurants make better raw food than I could ever make myself. I should have learned that by now.
  18. I eat so much less food than I used to. When the food is raw, or in juice form, it is almost all nutrition, so you need less of it. Dead food, because it contains barely any nutrients at all, has to be consumed in bulk for the body to benefit. Afterwards, you’re soon hungry again and eating more. That’s why people put on weight. Eat healthy food and the pounds fall off you. Though not, I’m discovering, off your man-boobs, which obstinately remain the same size.
  19. L.A. has some fabulous raw food places, and the health food stores here have whole aisles dedicated to raw food. Only in California.
  20. owlI’m developing “raw food eyes”, according to some friends. This is the intense, glaring, pop-eyed expression that people on high nutrition diets get after a while. I promised I wouldn’t, but it’s unavoidable, apparently. Damn.
  21. I sometimes feel entirely separate from my physical body. Floaty, distant, totally at peace within. It’s like I’m just a high frequency spirit trapped inside a low frequency physical form. Oh, wait, that’s exactly what I am!
  22. I’m impatient and bad-tempered sometimes now. This is because raw food sharpens your nerve endings to a point and you can’t stand to be around fools any more. Clearly, I was extremely attractive to fools previously.
  23. Raw food is  Oh-my-god-Level expensive. I don’t know how much I’ve spent on food and ingredients for meals these past three or four weeks, but it’s still a small fortune. I’m out of pocket by hundreds of dollars. And that doesn’t even include the cost of the course on how to reduce my man-boobs.
  24. I stopped counting the days about a week ago. But since beginning this piece, I’ve now done a calculation of how long I’ve been raw, and it’s only 24 days. 76 left to go. Yike.

So there you go. The work continues. Sorry if that’s boring for the rest of you, but I’m genuinely shocked at what a worthwhile experiment this is. Clearly, we’re eating all the wrong stuff and our bodies hate it. We’re just not listening to what they’re telling us. Same way my partner and most of my friends no longer listen to me.

Raw Food Further Update

Completed 100-day raw food challenge mid-October. Lost 14lbs total, feel fantastic – beyond fantastic: calm, focused, present, centered; skin is translucent and clear.

On the downside: I look very skinny, have lost my ass completely; am considered a pain in other people’s asses at dinner parties where I actually can barely eat anything they serve; get ill if I try.

It’s very difficult after 100 days to reverse the good that’s been done to the body. Eat cooked food and you get stomach ache. What’s more, things you used to love eating you now can’t get down. Or at least you can get them down, but you can’t keep them down. Pasta looks disgusting, fries are unappealing, chocolate cake tastes like warmed-up snot; bacon smells of diarrhea; and chicken is positively the worst thing ever in the history of the world. No exaggeration.

All in all, extremely happy, then. It all came good. There were brief lapses, and I did have tea occasionally. Plus, I had to eat bread or crackers now and then as binder, otherwise, what with all the fruit and veg, I was developing BIG problems “downstairs”.  But that’s all. And therefore I declare this a massive, life-changing success.

Thank you and goodnight.

 Everything you read above, by the way, came about because Cash was researching a book about health and healing. After heading  down to Brazil on a meditation retreat, he came across groups of people living the raw food life and recovering from all kinds of diseases and physical ailments. That convinced him.

It’s available here.


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Ask your doctor if Purobutimansoprol Soothing Nighttime Formula, Cherry Flavor is right for you.

Recently, I admitted that, beyond a cursory glance here and there to keep up with the overall direction of everything, I don’t follow the news any more. I guess people were surprised to hear this. Things were said. Remarks made.

I, in turn, not surprisingly perhaps, was surprised by their surprise. Because why would I watch the news? Give me one convincing reason.

Ever since it ceased to be about facts and keeping the general public informed and became more about opinion, money, and ratings, the news, I would advocate, is actually not news at all, but a bunch of eye-catching trivialities dressed up as substance to distract you from what’s really going on. Here’s why.

But first: a word from our sponsor: Veridian Dynamics.

Anyway, back to the news thing.

For a start, TV companies are beholden entirely to their sponsors. When was the last time The Today Show, for instance, or the CBS Evening News or even one of the cable news shows did a scathing expose of the pharmaceutical industry and the damaging side-effects of all the dangerous drugs they sell? I’m feeling bold this morning, so I would venture to say NEVER. 


Oh, come on! You know why. Because the drugs companies have bought up every ad break they can get their hands on to advertise their evil products.

Haven’t you noticed? 90% of the ads on the morning shows end with the words, “Ask your doctor if Purobutimansoprol Soothing Nighttime Formula, Cherry Flavor is right for you,” or somesuch gibberish, followed by a blizzard of possible side-effects, read very fast, that must have been written on a roll of toilet paper, it goes on for so long – everything from dry mouth to renal distress to heart failure. Side-effects that viewers by the million seem happy to ignore. 

No network would ever dare risk offending one of its major sponsors. If they did, the sponsors would pull their ads and, with them, millions of dollars in revenue, and it’s all about money. So, as always, big pharma gets a free pass, with the result that:

  • the whole nation is hooked on drugs;
  • people are growing steadily sicker;
  • reporters who should be investigating this topic aren’t being allowed to; and
  • the culprits escape without a trace of blame.

By the way, our sponsor and mighty overlord Veridian Dynamics issued a great commercial recently.

The question is: if this blind-eye bias from the news shows is happening with the pharmaceutical industry, what other areas are not being discussed or looked into because scoundrels or criminals are buying up ad time?

I’m no doomist, but I’m beginnining to think we’re truly screwed. As individuals, we’re growing smaller and more insignificant every day. In the broader picture, our private concerns matter less to Washington than they ever did; our needs are considered irrelevant to anything the government is doing, or Wall Street, or the banks, or big corporations.

The GOP, for instance, has switched its focus entirely these days from advancing policies that might excite voters or working for a stronger America, to being the Party of No: working to undermine, attack, deride, and thwart the current administration in all its plans, while at the same time ardently fighting to protect the rights and profits of a battalion of powerful special interest groups and other lobbyists from whom they earn millions of persuasion-dollars each year. Why aren’t the news shows all over that?

Everywhere you look, the prime motivator now is simply money, success, having more, owning more, beating the other guy past the post. It’s not capitalism any longer, it’s naked greed unapologetically pursued, and it’s unhealthy. 

As is often said by Veridian Dynamics….

So when I catch a TV news broadcast, on whatever network, I don’t feel I’m watching a vehicle for the delivery of truth. All I see is a glossy product filled with color and graphics but short on facts. Carefully manufactured, heavily censored and crafted so as not to test, probe too deeply, or offend. A flash of bright lights dominated by the swiftness of the news cycle and, like a small, eager child, prone to being sidetracked or mesmerized by every fleeting, sensational bauble, no matter how insignificant or bogus. 

So why would I want to watch that?

Why would I want to watch Fox News, and see that prime ass and needless irritant Glenn Beck trying to keep the spotlight on him no matter what it takes? By accusing Obama of being a racist, for instance.

Why would I want to hear that MSNBC‘s David Shuster had a meltdown after shusterthe camera accidentally caught his bald spot, when in fact this story was entirely made up by a gossip columnist in one of Rupert Murdoch’s rags? Murdoch owns Fox, Fox hates MSNBC, so Murdoch’s other “news” arms feel entitled to undercut MSNBC wherever it can.

Why would I want to watch Lou Dobbs ignoring all the facts and continuing to push the fiction that President Obama wasn’t born in America? On CNN???

No, no, no, no, no.

There’s too much airtime to fill. Too many people trying to fill it. Too much irresponsible, immature, irrelevant crap they’re trying to fill it with. And it’s all done, not to keep us informed, but to line their own pockets.

That’s why I don’t watch news. And someday I’ll thank myself for it.

TV Swami – he say NO to news for the second time in a week.

Veridian Dynamics.

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Just what I love – a night of the long knives.

No Swami today. Sorry, guys.


Hey, I said I’m sorry! But I have things to do. One of which is to put up a bunch of audio features on my website so that you can listen to past reports I did for Marketplace.

I’m in the final throes, last legs, dying moments of my radio “career” right now. It won’t last much longer. So I thought it would be nice if fans of the pieces I made for public radio could track down archival material after I’m gone. This is my version of the George W. Bush Library, only in my case I’ve actually done things I can be proud of. 

NBC Universal TCA PartyHaving said that, if I were writing a blog post today it would be to celebrate Ben Silverman being ousted at NBC. As the guy who oversaw the unnecessary revivals of American Gladiators and Knight Rider, as well as cancelling one of the best dramas NBC ever had – Journeyman– plus being responsible for truly terrible shows like Parks and Recreation, My Own Worst Enemy, and the upcoming five-nights-a-week Jay Leno Show, a disaster in the making, he was long overdue for being fired. Although in PR Knight Riderterms, he’s not being fired at all, he’s found another job and is going to that, because firing him would suggest that whoever hired him in the first place had made a huge mistake, and that would never do.

Indeed, the guy who really should be fired is the guy who hired him – Jeff Zucker, the big cheese at NBC Universal, who began as a researcher for their Olympic coverage in the 80s and rose steadily through the ranks when maybe, perhaps, for the good of all concerned, he should have stayed a researcher. Zucker, in the mind of many critics, is responsible for NBC being at the bottom of the network pile right now and continuing to languish.

But will they junk him? Oh good grief, absolutely not. Once these people get their feet under the desk, however mediocre they are, their big-time friends protect them like they’re an endangered species. Zucker is going nowhere.

Besides, he’s not alone. TV executives make lousy decisions and waste millions of dollars all the time and are never held accountable. For example, my innovative and fascinating little TV travel show, which had a legion of loyal fans, was cancelled in 2006, to be replaced by a bland, toe-curlingly awkward sports show hosted by Drew Carey. Which sports show? What was the title? Answer: nobody has a clue. It pretty much tanked, leaving Carey to move on to The Price is Right

In those circumstances, wouldn’t you have fired the executive who made such a rubbish and ill-conceived move? (That and many more, I might add.) But no, it won’t happen. The bad decisions continue at these places. Or rather, they do, until one day the roster of catastrophes is so great that someone has to be blamed, and publicly. And that’s what’s happened at NBC. 

That’s why Silverman is out finally. For the record, here he is, praising Leno and saying how great the atrocious Parks and Recreation is going to be.

And here he is in a hotel room singing a made-up song very, very badly.

On that ground alone, I’d have fired his ass. They say he’s being replaced with a worthy substitute. Hopefully, it’s someone with vision and artistic credentials, someone who’s created great shows, understands writers, is bold and daring and willing to consider bright new innovative ideas….let me see now….

His name, apparently, is Jeff Gaspin.

Hang on, let’s take look a look at his background….oh, what a surprise – he’s an accountant!

So another four years of doldrums for NBC, then. Will these people never learn?


TV Swami – he say NO to NBC pretty much for the foreseeable future.

Buy Cash’s book, Naked in Dangerous Places, HERE.


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With friends like these, who needs enemas?

Here’s a British TV show about raw food.

I don’t agree with the skeptical (subtly appalled) tone, but the content seems about right. And while the documentary makers obviously want you to shun and ridicule these lunatics for behaving outside the norm, actually, I wish I lived closer to them that so we could be friends and do enemas together.

TV Swami – he say YES to raw food, and NO to people who mock him for eating it.


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News? Don’t talk to me about news. I mean it.

With the death of curmudgeonly Walter Cronkite last week, I notice that a poll has now nominated Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central’s Daily Show, to be the most trusted name in news. But of course. He’s the only one who doesn’t lie to us: he actually admits that what he’s doing is a put-on.

Unlike Fox News, for instance.

The day Fox changes its name to something more reflective of its content – Fox Propaganda, Unfair and Biased – is the day I might start watching it.

Not that I follow this stuff too closely. On the contrary, I try to avoid the news as much as possible. Same way I avoid sports, and performances by Sarah Brightman.

To me, it’s a no-brainer. Yet, apparently, not being plugged into the news cycle is quite a bold stand to take nowadays, viewed by many as the height of adult irresponsibility. Then again, who says my aim is to be a responsible adult? I might have other plans.

“But how do you know what’s going on,” friends ask me, “if you don’t watch or read the news?” To which I respond, “Why do I need to know what’s going on? If it’s that important, I’m sure someone will tell me. Otherwise, I’m happier not knowing.” To which they respond, usually, by sighing and walking off in exasperation. Because deep down they sense a real truth here, they just can’t go along with it: that the news makes you miserable, fearful, skeptical, unsettled, and ultimately stupid. Why fill your mind with that? Better to be ignorant and a free-thinker if it means being happy too.

Don’t forget, I’ve worked in newsrooms for years, both here and in Britain, and I was never impressed.

By the time what’s laughingly called “TV news” reaches the public attention, it has already been analyzed, filleted, filtered, censored, and neutralized to death by a stiff hierarchy of editors trying to shape it to a particular viewpoint or agenda. In the end, what you’re getting is not news, but someone’s interpretation of events, shaped in a way they’d prefer you to see it. You have to differentiate news from the truth. The two are very different.

For a long time, I’ve had the privilege of contributing to a wonderful public radio news show in the States.

When I joined years ago, it was a scrappy, crazed animal, with every edition a wild ride produced by a bunch of young maniacs in a dingy, claustrophobic bullpen at the University of Southern California.

Reporters and editors back then were opinionated, intellectual, and in some cases obnoxious firebrands who’d fight and hustle and drive everyone crazy in their efforts to get their stories on air. There was a real sense of fun and excitement and purpose to what we were doing, resulting in frequent tantrums and displays of indignation, born of sheer passion – a passion to package vital information in an interesting way and get it off the wires and out into the public arena where it belonged, asap.

Alas, that’s no longer the case. Walk into the show’s new, modern offices today, and that loud obnoxious vibrancy has gone. Sometimes you can barely hear yourself think for the blanket hush that fills the place. Morgues are more exciting.

The people working there – the ones I know anyway; it’s the same show, but the staff has multiplied, I can’t keep track – are still bright and intelligent, though in a different, more subdued way.  More noticeably, the open and free expression of passion has largely evaporated. The dismal climate of fear that rules our times has seen to that. Everyone’s too scared of losing their job to be too innovative, too loud, too outspoken, or to take risks. Result: instead of soaring majestically, setting our sights ever higher, we coast at a low altitude, hiding our light.

Additionally, the recruiting guys made the mistake, in my opinion, of hiring print people for key positions instead of radio people, something I would have discouraged. Inevitably, it’s a long, slow haul to get newspaper journalists to understand the potential of sound. They think  in words only. Lots and lots of words. Facts. Data. Statistics. The old way of presenting information. Which is why newspapers are dying. And radio is so much more than boring old print. Or should be.

Maybe I’m being too harsh. I love this program. Always have. It still manages to be a superior piece of radio, some of the best out there. Perhaps inevitably, with maturity, it’s simply settled in, turning a wild adolescent into the very creature it used to poke fun at: a slick, glossily produced, critics might say overly-edited, and very, very grown-up corporate enterprise. Examples:

  • When you’re given a piece to do in radio now, a computer sends you an email to tell you so. Years ago, people used to do that.  There was actual human contact. Imagine.
  • Also years ago, the topics we covered were beyond exciting (“Hey, d’you want to go train as a cosmonaut in Russia?” – was one of the most interesting questions I’ve ever been asked). Compare this to a recent subject I was given:  items placed in public storage, and what happens to them when they’re auctioned off. Yawn.
  • At the start, my pieces went out on air with the minimum of scrutiny. They were fun, light, irreverent, edgy, filled with raw, dangerous moments. The result was exciting: there were countless complaints from listeners, even a couple of death threats. Now, though, there’s none of that and I miss it.
  • A two-page “script” for a radio feature is analyzed word by word, line by line by an editor, the way scientists scrutinize test-tubes, always with a troubled look on his or her face, busily figuring out if it breaks the rules or causes offense on any level. Words are replaced, interview clips removed, new thoughts inserted.
  • During this autopsy, which can take up to an hour, the cadaver of originality is frequently picked apart wholesale before the script is shunted off to the next stage of the assembly line: the studio, to be recorded.
  • Now, once the piece has been recorded, that should be it, ideally. You’re done. But no. Later on, the report is picked apart a second time by someone higher in the editorial chain and often recorded again. Doubtless a good move from the “monitoring content at all times” standpoint, but artistically stifling, no matter how good the editor might be. And these people are good. Almost too good.

Anyway, you get the idea. I know what I’m talking about. I’ve worked at CNN too, and in British TV, therefore I’m able to bring a hands-on perspective to the topic of news shows. The news shows I refuse to watch.

And when I do watch, I see this same sad situation magnified a thousand times. Everything being filtered, censored, monitored, shaped and molded, then presented in a corporate, orchestrated way to achieve a certain effect, reach a specific demographic, and follow a party line set in stone by a commitee.

Well, that’s not for me.  Because I’m more convinced than ever now, after accidentally switching on a TV news show this past week.

Of course, I use the word “news” loosely, because the stories were outlandish and sensational, presumably to keep viewers outraged and watching. Airtime was being given to:

  • a pitiful movement challenging Barack Obama’s citizenship of America, a fictional dispute concocted by fanatics in an attempt to keep the conversation lowbrow and irrelevant, and to throw his popularity off-track, same way the Fox News-driven tea-bag campaign tried (Dick Cheney’s daughter was given a voice on this, for some reason)
  • Republican politicians trying to shoot down universal healthcare, not because it’s wrong for their constituents – quite the reverse – but because, a) they receive millions of dollars in pay-offs from the healthcare industry, and b) it’s a Democratic proposal and they can score cheap political points by defeating it:
  • police officers arresting a black guy for entering his own home, then feigning outrage when the President called them stupid for doing so;

…and so on and so on.

Seriously, people, I don’t need to know this stuff. It’s not doing me, or you, or the country, any good. So please don’t challenge me on this. You may enjoy being in the loop, but I don’t. I’m far happier just going about my life ignorant and distant and sane, untainted by other folks’ made-up nonsense. Unless it’s Jon Stewart’s made-up nonsense, in which case I’m right there, glued to the screen.

Read Cash’s book, Naked in Dangerous Places, HERE.


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Paula Abdul versus the skunks. Allegedly.

The fuss over Paula Abdul returning to American Idol (or not) brings back so many tragic memories for me, not to say some bitterness that I work at controlling but can’t, about what total weasels TV people are and the terrible way they behave towards one another. Even now, a full three years after my own TV show ended, it still makes my skin crawl.

Paula AbdulAccording to Abdul’s agent, she’s “hurt and angry” that Fox is playing hardball with her salary, indulging in powerplays, and refusing to negotiate. As a result she may not be back on the show next season. 

I couldn’t hear what else he said because of all the cheering. Most people, as far as I can tell, are probably with Fox on this one, they don’t want her back.

Currently, Paula receives $2.5m per year, which, given what she does and what a laughing stock she is, seems fair enough. But she wants more. How much more is the cause of all the debate. Estimates says it’s as high as $20m, and that’s why Fox is balking. Though more realistically, it’s probably a lot less – around the $5m mark. And that, if true, is also why Fox is balking.

Paula Abdul is not worth $5m a year on American Idol. Anyone with a TiVo who fastforwards through everything she says each week will tell you that.

simon cowellStill, Simon Cowell and Ryan Seacrest, both of whom are sitting pretty with substantial pay increases of their own and shouldn’t really care, are backing her and saying they are confident she’ll return for the ninth season. Auditions are already under way, a decision has to come soon. It’s all very touch and go.

However, this rather tacky public stand-0ff reminds me once again what a shark tank the TV world is. Riddled and rife with dishonesty, needless game-playing, and shenanigans, it’s a parallel universe to our own. A place where nobody can ever be straight about anything. Where everybody feels compelled to lie all the time, even – and especially – when they don’t need to. Where people stab you in the back, not because there’s any call for it, but because they’re presented with an opportunity to do so and can’t resist. And where you can never get a direct, up-front, word-of-honor answer to any question you ask, in case the reply – a simple, helpful, uncontaminated yes or no – somehow comes back to bite the various parties in the butt at some later date.

It’s a ghastly industry. Fun, but ghastly.

In television, you encounter some of the shiftiest, slimiest, slipperyest, most spineless individuals you’re ever likely to come across. Unless, that is, you venture into politics or the movie business, where I hear they’re wall to wall.

Worse, TV executives are geniuses of shameless deception. They wear sharp suits and have great dental work and hair and friendly personalities, and they’ve mastered the art of seeming genuine and honest and caring when in fact, behind the bared smile, lies a calculating shark mind turning constantly, figuring out all conceivable consequences of what’s about to be said and ensuring that it works to their own advantage, not yours.

An example of their shiftiness would be something I call “the Hollywood No.”

A Hollywood No happens when a spineless TV executive wants to say no to your request, inquiry, invitation, or proposal, but doesn’t have the balls. So instead he says nothing. There’s no call-back, no reply to your email, no letter in the post. Nothing. Just an ominous silence, from which you are meant to deduce, after a period of time lasting days or weeks, that your request, inquiry, invitation or proposal was turned down. In other words, the burden is placed on you to mentally refuse it yourself. The spineless TV executive had nothing to do with it, his  hands are clean.

It’s playing David Copperfield with the truth, and it sucks.

Oh, and if the two of you meet again at some point – you and him; executive and…er…executed, I guess you’d be – convention says that both sides must pretend that the Hollywood No never happened. Do not dwell in the past, goes the rule. Even if the past was about ten minutes ago. Move on, overlook any perceived slights, and don’t bring it up ever again. The transgressor must be allowed to get away with his crime. That’s just how it is.

It’s certainly considered very bad protocol to shake the executive’s hand the next time you see him and say, “Hey, you douche, how come you didn’t reply to my request, inquiry, invitation, or proposal?” Breaking the code of silence around the Hollywood No and reminding people what double-crossing skunks they are to their face can actually cost you friendships, jobs, and, in some cases, whole TV series. Trust me, I know.

It isn’t only the Paula Abdul crisis that brought this back to me, by the way. It was being emailed by that TV producer the other day (see HERE).

Our interaction was brief. A couple of lines each way, that’s all. But I was struck even then by what a slippery eel the guy seemed to be. I’d ask him a question, he’d reply within minutes with a statement that bore no relation to what I’d asked. I’d make a statement; in return he’d ask a question, again totally unrelated. Ducking and weaving, dodging and dancing. All so devious, so icky. I don’t know him at all, but I thought I could feel the gooey oiliness of his yellow character oozing from the monitor like parasitical Jell-O. There was nothing straightforward about our ‘conversation’, nothing direct or honest, nothing a real – ie. non-TV – person could get a grip on or hold him to. A typical TV executive, in other words. I have no doubt he’s very successful.

So, as much as I personally don’t want Paula Abdul back on American Idol,  I sympathize with her plight and must necessarily take her side. If Fox executives are anything like their scheming, lying counterparts all across the rest of the industry – and since it’s Fox after all, how can they not be? – then they’re playing this for sport, torturing her because they can, filling her days with uncertainty, false starts and Hollywood Nos, merely because…well,  they’re TV executives and that’s what they do.

I hope she wins.  Go Paula.

TV Swami – he say NO to Fox. And possibly “Go to hell”, but he not sure yet.

Read Cash’s book, Naked in Dangerous PlacesHERE.

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I feel the chill wind of cheapness, how about you?

Before you ask, no. I didn’t give in to temptation.  

And thanks to all those lovely people who wrote to me in various forms, supporting and encouraging me not to break my diet and eat the free cake being given away at Starbucks yesterday.You should be very proud of me for not lapsing.

starbucksI mean, I went to Starbucks, of course. How could I not? It was Free Cake Day, an occasion always worth celebrating. But I didn’t take part in the festivities. I just bought a bottle of water and sat there like a doofus on the sidelines, drinking it while I did some writing, the way I sometimes do.

But that was it.

That said, you know what’s odd? Not only was I not eating free cake, but nobody was.

I’ll pause for gasps.

Starbucks was empty and the cabinet  jam-packed with unsold cake. The staff looked quite depressed, I thought. Though not as depressed as the cake. It was like visiting an animal shelter. And as you know, I’m all heart. I wanted to gather up the stray and abandoned muffins and sad-looking croissants from the cabinet and put them in a place where they’d be safe and feel loved. My stomach was the first place that came to mind.   

There can only be two reasons for what I gather was a failed PR campaign.

a) Either promoting your special offer on Facebook doesn’t work, which is entirely possible. And something I can vouch for, actually. I put another couple of books up for auction on eBay the other day. No fuss. I didn’t promote the fact. I just mentioned it half-heartedly in passing on Facebook. And guess what! There’s been only one bid. ONE! I’m heartbroken. I’ll never do that again. Facebook as a promotional tool is dead to me. It’s rubbish. Tell your friends.   

Alternatively, b) the economy is so bad, and people such utter cheapskates, that, while they wanted free cake – of course, because cake is a staple, right? Nobody says no to cake – they didn’t want to pay for the coffee that went with it. Presumably these are the same folks who arrive at Disneyland eager to go on the rides, but who refuse to pay to get in. Or who see that a great book is up for auction on eBay and don’t bid for it. Bastards.

Anyway, Free Cake Day – which, fingers crossed, will happen annually and perhaps be made into a national holiday – came and went without incident. 

That means I’m still on the raw food diet, and feeling better than ever. Results after sixteen days are amazing: tons more energy, great skin, increased mental acuity (listeners to the BBC show last night will not have noticed this, sadly, since I was all over the place and appeared not to be able to concentrate on one thing for even two seconds), a few detox symptoms, but not many, and a tingly sensation in my legs, which may or may not be the onset of shingles.

Next challenge: an Italian restaurant Friday night with friends. There is nothing raw on the menu. NOTHING. Even the salads have cooked or processed stuff in them. Which means I may be faced with the ignominy and embarrassment of taking a packed lunch with me and nibbling at it while everyone else eats. Oh dear.   

In short, though: hurray for me. Only 84 days to go.

Buy Cash’s travel book, Naked in Dangerous Places,  HERE.

Watch Cash’s movie, Fast and Very Loose HERE.

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The Downfall of Mankind, Part 1: Free Cake.

starbucksSo here we are, then. The 21st has arrived. Free Cake Day at Starbucks. Every customer who buys a coffee before 10.30am is given a free cake.

Right now it’s 8.42am.

But I’m on a 100% raw food diet, which excludes cake in all its wondrous, tantalizing, artery-blocking forms. (Read previous post: HERE)

Yet, to play Devil’s advocate for a moment, the cake is free. Which surely renders void any diet currently under way.

Stabucks storePlus, God wouldn’t have inspired Starbucks to have a Free Cake Day if  we weren’t meant to take advantage of it, would he? After all, he’s a deity, not a diety. To turn your back on a free offer of this magnitude would be like looking a cake horse in mouth.

Or then again, maybe it’s a test. A test of my resolve. Of my commitment to cleansing my body of all past cakes.


The nearest Starbucks is ten minutes’ drive away. If I don’t move soon, then all the cake will be gone….

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A deluded underdog rises once more.

Weirdest thing. Over the weekend, somewhat inexplicably, my new travel book Naked in Dangerous Places got the wind behind it and began racing up the Amazon charts.

That’s an incredible development. For me it is, anyway. For you, probably less so.

But what’s even more incredi – oh, and by the way, thank you to all thoseGT people who bought it; you won’t be disappointed – but what’s even more incredible is that my previous travel book, Gullible’s Travels, the Adventures of a Bad Taste Tourist, did even better. For a while there, GT was fair rocketing along, picking up sales at every turn.

I was flabbergasted. And even now I have no idea what caused this outpouring of desire to own my work, I’m just glad it happened.

Publishers of course, have a real downer on Amazon. They’ll tell you, scornfully – and I’ve been told this many times – that the Amazon ranking is meaningless. That the company gives no rational accounting of how book sales are tallied, therefore it all seems pretty much random and can’t be trusted. That’s the corporate line.

naked book 2Well, fair enough. But if both your books – both – having languished a little of late in the low numbers (which I guess, by that token, means nothing either) suddenly take off like Derby thoroughbreds and careen up the chart past hundreds of thousands of competing works, then, call me deluded, but to me that says people are buying them.

One book without the other could be a freak happening. Together, though? Come on, publishers – who are you kidding?

Alas, by Sunday, the ranking had dipped, indicating that the feeding frenzy was over (or that sales were still fierce and the Amazon ranking really is meaningless). Still, a few more weekends like that and, who knows, I might even be tempted to write a third one!

Incidentally, remember a couple of weeks ago when I put three signed copies of Naked on Ebay? They were, I’m delighted to say, snapped up right away. But then afterwards I got complaints from people who either didn’t know about the auction or were outbid, saying they were really disappointed, and that won’t do.

So I’ve put two more books up there. (HERE and HERE)

If they sell, they sell; if they don’t, they don’t. But at least you have a chance to purchase a copy of what I guarantee is a very funny book, while also knowing that, unlike every other Naked book out there, this one will be dedicated specifically to you. I mean, that’s got to be worth something, right?


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