“Those were the days”

A friend and I were talking earlier this week, following the death of actress Jean Stapleton, and we both agreed that television pushed the limits more in the 1970s than today.  Let me clarify that – network television pushed the limits, cable being virtually non-existent.  With the wealth of cable channels available now, no matter what you want to watch, you can probably find it somewhere on the dial.  But back then you were pretty much stuck with the three major networks, plus PBS if you were lucky.  Of course, living in southern Ontario as I do, in addition to those, I also had access to the two major Canadian networks, CBC and CTV.  There was also CITY-TV in Toronto which, very late on Friday nights, would run what they called the “Baby Blue” movies – basically soft-core porn.

Interesting sidebar to the “Baby Blues”. I recall reading an article in one of the Toronto papers at the time that said on Friday nights it was common for people (read “men”) to drive to a place near the border with their television sets they could plug into the lighter socket in the car, and hope they could catch CITY’s signal across the lake. But, enough of CITY – they’ve become civilized now.

I said the major networks, and by that I mean the American networks.  Jean Stapleton, for those too young to remember, was one of the stars of “All in the Family”. The other star was Carroll O’Connor, who played Archie Bunker, a dyed-in-the-wool bigot.  Keep in mind this was the early ‘70s, therefore the show was quite controversial.  I won’t use any of the words he used, but think of all the derogatory and racist names used for other races, religions and nationalities and you’ve pretty much got Archie’s world view.  Can you honestly see any network trying to get a show like that on the air in today’s politically correct times?  Not a chance.

Then we had “The Jeffersons”.  George Jefferson can best be described as a black Archie Bunker, only living in a better part of town.  Again, I doubt there is a network that would even consider a show like that today.

One more show that caused quite a stir was “Soap”.  It was situation comedy  about the Tate family, but what ruffled the public’s feathers was the character played by Billy Crystal – an openly gay man.  As I wrote above – this was the ‘70s, and things like that weren’t part of the normal viewing schedule.  Now it is common to see gay or lesbian characters.  I must admit though that I’m waiting for the day a show has an openly trans person as a main character.

Today it is also quite common to see people jumping into bed with each other on network television – just watch the soap operas.   Back in the ‘70s though, such things just weren’t shown on television (CITY’s “Baby Blue” movies excepted). I can’t recall where I read this, but apparently the first network series to actually show a married couple in bed together wasn’t one of the more mature dramas, but that most apple pie of shows “The Brady Bunch”.  Again, a case of 1970s television pushing limits.

There are no doubt some will read this and think “yeah, but the world has progressed since then. Attitudes have changed”.  True, the world has progressed.. But it’s also become much tamer; much more afraid of causing offence and much less willing to take a chance.  As for attitudes, if they’ve changed so much, why is there such a furor in the US over equal marriage?

Enjoy your weekend and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Since Pickering Village is holding its annual jazzfest this weekend, and I can hear it all from my window, I guess it would be appropriate for me to sign on with:

Hep Cat.

What if he were your relative?

I just read an item on the CITYNews website.  Apparently a man who was assaulted on Valentine’s day has died.  This man was 83 years old.  Peel Regional Police have someone in custody, originally charged with aggravated assault and have said they will upgrade the charges.

At the time of writing, one person had commented on this item and I consider the comment offensive.  Here’s the comment, which was posted anonymously of course:

Come on, the guy was almost dead anyways at 83.  At best he had one or two years left before he would succumb to old age so the punishment should be no more than one or two years. I served 3 years for accidentally killing another man – it’s ridiculous. Besides, the Bible says that everyone should be given a second chance and let s/he who has not sinned cast the first stone.

Sorry to burst this idiot’s balloon, but there are octogenarians in my building who are more active than am I at age 68.  Age has nothing to do with this.  It doesn’t matter whether this gentlemen was 83 or 33.  What matters is someone else took his life and should pay for that act.  One thing I do find ridiculous is that the poster only served 3 years for a killing, even an accidental one.

As I asked in the title, what if this 83 year old gentleman were the father or grandfather of the person who posted this callous comment – would he still feel the same?  Or would he want the killer’s head on a stake?  This gentleman was someone’s father or grandfather, keep that in mind.  I’m sure they would be heartbroken to read this jerk’s comments, to see how disposable someone else considers their relative.


Bring him to justice – more media questions

On the 13th of August, the Toronto Police Service issued a Public Safety Alert for one George Flowers, aka “Mr Flowas”, wanted for aggravated sexual assault.  This man, according to that Alert, has been HIV positive since 1996, but never told his sexual partners.

You would think something like this might rate some attention from the media.  Except for one mention on CP24 which is a local all news television station, and one two inch single column item in a local paper, there was nothing.  Radio stations do have this on their news websites, some local, two on the Prairies that I saw, and CKNW, which is in New Wesminster B C.  As I have written before, I know people who dated this man, some of whom have since tested positive, so I’ve written several blogs on this man and the search for him.  When I started, I had thought my words would supplement the coverage in the mainstream media.  However, I had several people tell me I have been the only source of information on this matter.

Today, the Toronto Police Service issued a new Public Safety Alert, this time advising they had a Canada-wide warrant for his arrest on 11 charges of aggravated sexual assault. As I wrote earlier today in “Bring him to justice – a victim speaks”, Global Television Toronto spoke with one of his victims.  Here’s the link the item and interview: www.globaltoronto.com/hiv+positive+man+wanted+for+aggravated+sexual+assault+charges/6442727205/story.html.  Listen to this lady’s words as she describes how her life has been turned upside down by her positive diagnosis and the callous attitude George Flowers displayed when she told him.

I’ve checked the news sites again tonight.  In addition to the news radio sites, I find mention of this in the online editions of both The Toronto Sun and The Toronto Star, for print media and as well as the Global coverage, CITY TV, a local station and CP24 for television.

My question for the media, who now seem to be all gung-ho about covering this story, is this: Why weren’t you doing this back on August 13 when the first Alert was issued?  Why did it take the issuance of a Canada-wide warrant to get your attention?  The tag line on my site is “one lone voice calling in the wilderness”, and in the case of the search for George Flowers, for the past seven weeks, that’s what I’ve been.  I hope that after today, rather than a lone voice, I’m merely part of a chorus.

If you know George Flowers, aka “Mr Flowas”, please contact your local police service or CrimeStoppers.  Help get him off the streets.