Tag Archives: Las Vegas

So long, Gary Coleman, small person with kidney problems, we will miss you.

I knew Gary Coleman. Briefly.

In 2003, the former child star of Diff’rent Strokes, who died today aged 42, of a fall, a knock on the head, and then an epidural hematoma (though not a stroke thankfully, which would have been the most horrible coincidence ever), was running as a gag candidate against Arnold Schwarzenegger for the governorship of California, and I was working for CNN as a reporter on my debut assignment.

The CNN editor told me to follow Coleman’s campaign with a camera as he doorstepped for votes. To be honest, I’d barely heard of the guy back then. Diff’rent Strokes was either never shown in Britain or, if it was, it was certainly never watched by more than about four people, because his stardom was a complete mystery. I must say, though, that this little guy surprised me. He was a celebrity marvel. That rare thing – a total has-been who, years later, still had the power to stop traffic. For the report, we put him out on Sunset Boulevard in a smart suit for a lark and there was chaos. Not the sitcom kind of chaos where hilarity ensues, but real mobbing-type fan chaos, the sort that causes car accidents and endangers lives.

The general public simply adored Gary Coleman. It’s just a fact. They’d followed his ups and downs, his bizarre erratic behavior, his arrests and public humiliations, his relentless bullying by the tabloid media, his sexless existence and strange moral values that seemed to preclude him from having any kind of fun, yet somehow they were able to see behind the facade, finding kinship in the string of hard knocks suffered by this tiny little boy-man who, despite a couple of kidney transplants that stunted his growth, and despite deciding to sue his own parents for misappropriating his TV fortune, had nevertheless faced the world with dignity and his head held high. Well, four feet high anyway, which is high enough.

Make no mistake, however, though physically diminutive, Coleman had the charisma and enthusiasm of a giant. I’m not kidding. It was a wonder to be in the presence of it.

In our sit-down interview, he was friendly and gushing. He had a keen brain and wonderful sense of humor. When he smiled, I honestly felt as if he liked me and wanted to be my friend. More than anything, though, he longed to be taken seriously, as an adult. Unfortunately, that couldn’t happen. His legacy as a child star and his stature as a tiny little person you wanted to treat as a collectible and stick in your top pocket simply stood in the way of that transition from famous kid to full-grown man, simply because, to the naked eye, he wasn’t one.

I remember emerging from the interview, after he’d left us, and telling people, “I’ve just met one of the most fantastic people EVER.” The crew loved him, the producer loved him, the people waiting outside the door loved him, the firemen who stopped their truck on Sunset Boulevard, blocking traffic for ten minutes, loved him. The whole thing was just an eye-opening experience.

But then I met him again about two months later, in Las Vegas. He was sitting in the lobby of a hotel playing with a Gameboy. So naturally, since we were such good TV friends, I walked straight up to him and introduced myself. Not that I needed to. I was the guy from CNN he’d had such a good time with – remember?

Well, he didn’t remember. Or if he did, he pretended not to. I was quite put out. He looked up, grunted something unintelligible, and, dismissing me with a menacing glare, went back to his Gameboy. Something at that point told me that this was the real Gary Coleman. In the limelight, fizzy, rambunctious, and fun. In private, a depressed, abused, miserable munchkin with major psychological issues. A man trapped in a kid’s body, yearning to break free, but unable to figure out an escape plan that worked. Until now.

Anyway, that all happened several years ago.

In the end, I never got beyond my debut CNN assignment. The debut assignment was also my swansong on the network. I was fired the next day. And Gary Coleman never got to be governor of California, although he did clock up an astonishing 14,000+ votes, coming in eighth, which is a fantastic achievement, and to my mind a grand testament to the star power of the one-time actor turned security guard who left us today.

TV Swami – he very sad to lose a friend. Albeit a television friend he only met twice.

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Total doofus gets slapped on TV.

At some point in the past I was a reporter. For a little while I waded in way over my head and attempted the whole live reporting thing that is now the staple of local news coverage on TV.

Needless to say, I was hopeless at it.

The first time alone should have been warning enough. 

On a cue from the director, I stepped out from behind a bush ready to speak, but as I did so I caught my finger on a thorn and let out a girly squeal. Then, as now, I was very caught up in my own comfort and wellbeing, and proceeded to complain bitterly and suck my finger throughout the whole piece.

Well, it hurt!

Another time, I was dispatched by a regional news show in Southern England called Coast to Coast (hosted by nano-talents Fred Dinenage and Fern Britton) to cover some kind of geriatric Elvis convention. Only, when I got there I found that nobody had turned up. Nobody at all. The whole event was a bust. 

But did that stop me?  Good grief no. I’m very resourceful in a crisis.

Because I was a freelance and only got paid a fee if I actually produced a piece, I produced one. I staged the Elvis event myself. Rigged it from beginning to end. Even going as far as to hijack an entire busload of ageing tourists off the street and force them to participate.

The resulting report was great, I thought. You’d never have known it was bogus. However, the show’s editor took an entirely different and surprising approach. For some bizarre reason he thought a news show should have integrity and be about actual news (soooo behind the times), therefore I was fired on the spot and the report pulled from the broadcast.

Unfortunately, they had nothing to replace it with. Which meant Fern and DinenageFred (pictured left) had to limp along with nothing. It was horrible. As I was escorted from the building, I glimpsed the broadcast on a TV in reception. F and F were busy gibbering about their vacations and where they planned to go that year, desperately trying to fill the unexpected three-minute gap that had just been sprung on them. I’m guessing it was the longest, most excruciating three minutes of their entire lives. Still, I felt no remorse.

Come to think of it, all the other times I ventured into TV news were rubbish too. In the end I realized that I would never cut it as a reporter.

That, though, was not until after I’d been recruited as “fresh on-air talent” by CNN. This was a few years ago and lasted only one day, after bosses CNNdiscovered that the report I’d put together didn’t contain a single fact. Not one. Instead, it was really more my opinion of things interpersed with pithy asides. Which apparently, is not what CNN’s about. Maybe this explains why it trails several points behind Fox News in the ratings each week. Because Fox News, as we know, isn’t news at all, it’s just people giving their opinion about things, interspersed with pithy asides. Once again, I was ahead of the curve. If only these dim executives would listen.

But anyway, dire experiences like that have equipped me well to appreciate  the horror – the horror, I tell you – of live TV when I see a news reporter struggling with unforeseen mishaps. Which is what happened to this poor guy, Steve Ryan. During a live report about Michael Jackson from the Vegas Strip, a drunken doofus emerges out of nowhere and tries to eclipse his act, eventually driving him to violence.

It manages to be both funny and tragic all at the same time. Enjoy.

TV Swami – he say YES to slapping doofuses.

www.cashpeters.com.

Also, follow me on Twitter, if you really must, @cashpeters

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No more hookers for my dentist. Not on my dime.

I went to bed last night feeling awfully guilty. I’d been watching Brian Williams’ splendid documentary about how Obama and his staff run the White House, and Obamasuddenly realized something important, not to say devastating.  That successful people, the movers and shakers, the elite power-brokers in this world, don’t sleep in late, watch a lot of TV, and take long naps, the way I would do if I’d just been elected President – they actually work.

Hard.

All day.  

Without bunking off to go buy deoderant at the store or download movies from iTunes or to Skype friends and chat. It was quite an eye-opener and a whole new world. When did people at the top become so industrious all of a sudden?

Anyway, today, as a result, I woke at 5.15 and, instead of doing what I usually do at that time – roll over and go back to sleep ’til 8.30 – I sprang out of bed and got going. (Now, of course, it’s 7.50 and I’m worn out. But I’m thinking to myself, “What would Obama do?” He’d stay awake and write his blog. So that’s what I’m doing.)

Also, one of my friends in England emailed me with a problem. She’s got toothache. Bad, multiple kind of toothache, all down one side of her mouth. Everything hurts. And even though she’s paying her dentist a fortune, he can’t seem to pinpoint the problem. 

Dentoskeptics might say, “But of course he can’t.”

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I don’t trust dentists any more than I  trust doctors.  We place way too much faith in their opinions and so-called expertise, in my view. And because we do, they exploit our goodwill and gullibility and  pressure us into using their services. 

My dentist, for example, spends a disproportionate part of his income on hookers in Vegas.  I know this for a fact. And Vegas hookers don’t come cheap. I know that for a fact too – don’t ask me how. But to afford that kind of quality lay, my dentist needs to work almost as hard as Obama does. Which means he needs to find lots of mouth problems to fix.

Four years ago, I broke one of my teeth. On the left side here at the bottom. (I’m pointing.) The thing snapped in half while I was eating almond ice cream. It was very alarming, and left a huge black hole. Naturally, my dentist looked at it and pulled a face. “That’s terrible,” he said. “It’s going to take a lot of work to put that right.”

A lot of work, eh? Hm.

This would consist of several stages over a period of a year: extract the tooth; sew up the gum; repair the jaw with a bone graft; insert a titanium bolt; and prepare and fit an implant.

Total cost: $5,000. At 2005 prices! That’s…hang on, let me calculate…. my lord, that’s about 4.8 blow-jobs I’d be paying for right there. 

Well, truth is, I was busy. So as a short-term measure, I told him to glue the broken half of the tooth back on for the time being, while I remortgaged my house. “You have three months,” he said, “before this gets serious and has to be treated, otherwise your jaw could snap.”

My jaw could snap????  

At first I panicked. Then I came to my senses. Maybe he’s wrong, I thought. He’s only a dentist, after all. Maybe there are other ways to deal with the problem. Holistic ways he’s not telling me about, because they’re cheap and he’d make no money from them.

So, with the help of a friend I set about researching this, looking for alternative treatments. And we were surprised. We discovered a whole bunch of stuff that we’d never heard of before, stuff I’ll share with you here. Maybe some of it will resonate and you’ll start exploring this for yourself. 

  • Stress factors. The nerves in your teeth are directly connected to the various organs of your body. (“Your knee-bone’s connected to your thigh-bone…” – remember? Most dentists and doctors have to learn the lyrics of that song before they’re allowed to practice.) Everything in the body’s interrelated. So if you’re having gum or tooth problems, then it might be because of stress, worry, or other internal issues elsewhere that you need to fix before you start playing with your teeth;
  • Killing bacteria. Decay and gum disease are caused by bacteria. So if you kill the bacteria, you kinda stop the decay dead in its tracks, right, and save the tooth? That makes sense to me. And…
  • …what kills bacteria? Oh, all manner of things: ordinary baking soda, coconut oil, grapefruit seed extract, vitamin E in castor oil (from a bottle, rubbed on at night); and a little spray called colloidal silver (microscopically tiny particles that penetrate the pores and act like a nuclear blast to germs). It was worth a try anyway. So I started using all these methods in rotation.
  • Proper cleaning. First off, I bought a Water PicWaterpicBefore I went to bed, I  filled the reservoir with warm water and, on alternate nights, put in ten drop of grapefruit seed extract or a tablespoon of baking soda, then flushed out my gums, aiming the jet around the broken tooth especially, so that the healing water could penetrate the pores.   
  • Change toothpastes. I discovered that ordinary commercial toothpaste contains glycerin. What glycerin does is form a strong coating around the teeth to protect them. So strong is it, that it takes around 22 brushings to scrub it off again. Which sounds good, but apparently germs getVicco trapped inside the coating, and these germs can cause tooth decay. Forgive me, but isn’t that the opposite of what you want? Suspecting a conspiracy within the dental industry to get more patients, I switched to Ayurvedic toothpaste, which is natural and doesn’t contain glycerin.  
  • Deal with emotional issues. Turns out that the tooth that snapped is directly related to the liver, and the liver is where your body stores residual anger. Seems that if you’re deeply angry about something, then the overflow could cause pain in the teeth and lead to root canals and decay. So I also started meditating and working on that.
  • Swishing. Then there was oil-pulling, or swishing. See my post the other day. That kept my teeth ultra-clean and made them whiter.

And that was it.

Sounds like a lot, right? I guess many people would rather just hand over $5,000, make a horny dentist very happy, and get it over with. But not me.

In actual fact, I rather enjoyed experimenting. It’s highly empowering. Especially since, when I returned to have an X-ray three months later, it turned out that there was no visible deterioration in the tooth. And when I went back three months after that, the tooth had actually started to heal. My dentist was stunned. “But how?” he gasped, concerned that he might not be getting a decent blow-job again for a while. “What are you doing to it?”

When I told him, he just laughed. Thought I was crazy and said so. Coconut oil? Baking soda? Conspiracy? Ayurvedic toothpaste? And even if they did work, then he was pretty confident that most people were too lazy to go through such a rigmarole. Which is probably true.

Long story short: I’ve continued this regime of mine for four years now and I’m still fine. Not only do I not have a wretched implant in my mouth, but it would seem that the two halves of the broken tooth have somehow fused back together, because they’re still in there, stronger and healthier than ever. Plus, and best of all, I saved five grand.

Of course, everyone’s different. One size doesn’t fit all, so you can’t just duplicate what I did; you have to find what works for you. But who knows, somewhere in among these wild discoveries might be the seed of something important that will undermine our reliance on these money-hungry professionals in  future and put the ball back in our court. 

It’s what President Obama would do, I feel sure, if he had acres of time on his hands and wasn’t running a country and appearing in TV documentaries.

 

The NBC White House doc gets five magic carpets out of five.

TV Swami – he say YES.

Not read the disclaimer at the top of the page yet? Please do.      

www.cashpeters.com

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Halloween comes early and starts a war

Nobody told me. 

Nobody stepped up and actually said in as many words that, when you start a blog, you have to keep adding to it all the time; you can’t expect people to enjoy yesterday’s entry sooooo much that they’re prepared to read it every day for the next week, and maybe even two weeks, while you get your strength back.

Oh really?

In light of this, it’s possible that blog-writing may suck. I haven’t quite decided.

Anyway, yesterday I was in Vegas. Drove there in the morning, stayed three hours, drove back again. You do things like that when you’re a corporate lapdog and have no mind of your own. Reason for trip: to record interviews at the annual Halloween expo, a tradeshow for manufacturers of inflatable pumpkins, large piles of skulls ($79.99 each wholesale), Obi Wan Kenobi hooded robes, werewolf mannequins that shake as if they’re going over a cattle grid, gay alien masks (the latest thing!), and, for some reason I can’t put a finger on, paper-plates with pictures of steam trains on them. I even lay in a coffin that, once the lid was shut, jerked and jumped around with all kinds of noises to stimulate the fun of being buried alive, confirming what I’d already suspected: that being buried alive gives you a horrendous five-Advil headache.

The result of this torture will appear on Marketplace’s PM show at some point. Dunno when exactly. Probably around Halloween. Call me psychic.  

It wasn’t a bad show. In fact, some of the stuff on sale was v. inventive. The motorbike made completely out of bones, with a skeleton driver, was especially good.  Useless, but good. All the same, I believe the Halloween Expo was less than a stellar attraction this year.

Almost everyone I met complained about the lack of traffic. Because of a poor economy and pesky daylight savings, customers had stayed away by the busload, they said. And sure enough, when I got there the Sands Convention & Expo Center was almost empty. Business was dead. 

But of course it was. It’s  a Halloween show. What did they expect?

Others were more bold. They claimed corporate greed was behind the lull. (Rest assured, this is going to die out rapidly in the coming months and years.  The revolution hasn’t even started yet, but the American people are back in the driver’s seat and the fat cats are going to get mown down in the rush for equality and fairness.) What had been an uber-successful event in previous years was, this time, split by the organizers into three separate trade shows, no doubt thinking they’d cover more bases that way and make more money. The result, however, according to traders on the floor at least, was that one of the shows was crowded and very successful, and the other two tanked. Not surprisingly, they seemed deeply unhappy about this.

I don’t know if this is true, by the way, that it was all due to greed. But let’s just say it was. Because reasoned argument on a Monday morning is hard! It was at least worth quizzing management about it, I thought. That’s only fair, right?

But so embarrassed were they, I guess, by the lack of attendees that they a) refused to put up a spokesman, b) wanted to know in advance what the questions were, and c) would only deliver their answers from head office by phone. By phone, though.

Needless to say, I wasn’t standing for that! Oh no. I’m not getting up at 5AM to go to their wretched horror show in Las Vegas, merely to be fobbed off with interviews by phone. Result: I put my foot down, we had an argument, and I won, as the guy who’s holding the microphone and gleefully recording every word of it generally does. In the end they spoke to me. By which time, I was so exhausted that I totally forgot to ask them about the attendance figures, and stuck to general stuff that I probably won’t even play on the radio.  Ho-hum.

Trade-shows, and arguments, are always exhausting. But this one especially so. Five hours later I got home tired. Very tired. So tired that I just wanted to flop down in front of the TV and watch something entertaining. 

Alas, that wasn’t to be. I ended up with Martin & Olly again, that silly new adventure travel program. (See Friday’s post.) Strangely, it’s not as uninteresting or as bloated as the clips on YouTube originally suggested, so maybe there’s hope for it yet. All shows need time to find their feet. Having said that, it was formulaic and boring enough to send me to bed an hour earlier than planned. Strikes me, the network may have come up with a useful and practical alternative to daylight savings time here. Air this show every night at 10PM. That’ll put the whole nation to sleep so much faster, and maybe even ensure higher attendance at next year’s Halloween expo.

TV Swami, he still say NO to M & O.

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