Bette Nesmith Graham invented Liquid Paper™ and gave birth to the Monkees guitarist Michael Nesmith. Wow. Two very definitive pieces of Americana. Betsy Ross got nuffin’ on her.
It’s double-header Thursday once again (and, kiddies, these four-week intervals flying by so quickly are scaring the bejesus out of me — I mean, how the hell many of them do I have left?) My guest on Big Talk is DJ/KJ Darran Mosley. (Betcha didn’t know KJ stands for karaoke jockey.) He’s also lead singer for the Prince tribute band, Royalty, and self-decribed “old-school funkmasters,” the Dynamics.Tune in this afternoon to WFHB, 91.3 FM, for the interview. And any minute, my profile of him will appear in the Limestone Post.
As always, c’mon back here tomorrow AM for links to both the podcast and the written piece.
For years, I’d wondered whatever happened to the standup comedian Elayne Boosler. She was big back in the ’80s when standup was exploding. Everybody and her brother were trying to become the next Jerry Seinfeld, Bobcat Goldthwait, Richard Lewis, or Bill Hicks. Hell, a couple of entire cable channels devoted exclusively to comedy arose, thanks the the mania for standup.
At the time, I was studying improv under Del Close and Charna Halpern at Chicago’s then-named ImprovOlympic (now IO, thanks the the International Olympic Committee’s snarling trademark attorneys). The likes of Chris Farley, Mike Myers, Lili Taylor, Jeff Garlin, Tim Meadows, the brothers Bill and Joel Murray, Betty Thomas, Jon Favreau, and many others swirled around the Close/Halpern scene at the time. All my fellow students were agog and dreaming of making it big.
For my money, one of the funniest of the ’80s standups was Elayne Boosler. But, sadly for her, it was about 20 years too soon for the rest of America to embrace a female comic who simply told jokes. Women comedians had to have some other shtick. Boosler was neither overtly sexy or over-the-top anti-glamor. She simply told jokes But being funny, alone, wasn’t enough for America to embrace a woman comic. It’d take pioneers like Roseanne Barr and, later, Tine Fey, among others, to break down that barrier.
My favorite Boosler line was when she opened her act by saying, “I don’t have any kids — that I know of.” That was funny, but a little scary for Mom & Pop America. She was implying that, well, she just liked sport sex. We got over that hump, at last, by the late ’90s when it was learned that even wholesome-looking White House interns could want to give a blow job to the President of the United States.
It turns out Boosler’s still alive and still doing comedy in various forms. She squeezes in her stage and creative work with tons political activism these days, as she advocates for various liberal causes, reproductive rights, and animal rescue.
In a CNN op-ed the other day, Boosler took on a lot of people’s Get Out of Jail Free card these days — that is, the tired excuse that jerks employ after they’ve blurted out a racial epithet, smeared women, ridiculed the lame and the halt, or advocated the gunning down of whatever population group that annoys them on any particular day. “It was a joke,” they like to say. And we’re supposed to forgive them for their assholiness.
Uh-uh, says Boosler. Check it out.
More More Women
For years, too, back when I lived in Chi. and had to negotiate the Dante’s Circle of Hell madness that is O’Hare Airport, I’d always pass by Bessie Coleman Drive. It was the re-circulator route for cabbies or for people who’d missed their drop-off gate the first time around and had to go back to find the right one.
I always wondered, Who in the hell was Bessie Coleman?
Last night, thanks to a bout of insomnia, I binge-watched episodes of Last Week with John Oliver. Lo and behold, he mentions Bessie Coleman. Click on over to the specific episode to find out how he cites her (at the 21:38 mark).
Anyway, Bessie Coleman, it turns out, was the first African-American and Native American woman to hold a pilot’s license in this holy land. The Land-of-the-Free in the 1920s didn’t allow either African-American or Native American women to hold pilot’s licenses. Suffering that double-whammy, she was forced to learn to speak French and travel to Paris where she could earn an international pilot’s license. By such a hook and crook she was able to return to this country as a recognized aviator. Coleman went on to become a celebrated barnstorming stunt pilot.
I just thought you might like to know.