Podcast: Curb Your Enthusiasm Discussion

‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ has returned and with it begins a whole new season of antisocial awkwardness and insensitivity that only Larry David can deliver. Anthony Venutolo and Jack Lugo discuss the long-awaited season 9 premiere in which “Larry” must deal with an “un-fireable” assistant plus the fallout of having offended the Ayatollah as well as squirm his way out of new faux pas involving Richard Lewis’s dead parakeet and a lesbian wedding. Anthony and Jack discuss the cultural influence of Curb versus the comedy of Jerry Seinfeld. Anthony also has an interesting story to tell about Richard Lewis from his early newspaper days. So, grab yourself a drink and start lampin’ because you don’t want to miss this all new episode of The Pop Culture Juke Joint.  Click on the Youtube link below and if you enjoy us please subscribe via our podbean site. https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-ig5a2-75c38d

Podcast: Interview with Series Creator Billy Ray about The Last Tycoon

Set in Hollywood in 1936, ‘The Last Tycoon’ explores a pivotal time in American history. The Amazon original series, based on an unfinished novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, features a stellar cast and impeccable production values to tell a complex and compelling story set against the backdrop of a time when movie studios collaborated with Nazi Germany to censor their own films.

Anthony Venutolo and Jack Lugo speak to series creator, writer, and executive producer Billy Ray to talk about ‘The Last Tycoon’ and comment on the recent announcement from Amazon that they were cancelling the series after just 6 weeks. Billy Ray shares his thoughts on the relevance of this series to our world today and explains why it’s so important for these kinds of stories to be told. If you haven’t started watching The Last Tycoon, we highly recommend this incredible series. There is currently a petition to sign. If you search for the hashtag #SaveTheLastTycoon in Twitter you should find it easily. This series deserves a chance to continue and after listening to our conversation with Billy Ray, we hope you’ll agree with us on that as well.

Click on the Youtube link below for this fascinating discussion.

Twin Peaks Podcast Discussion

Grab a booth at the Double R, order up a slice of cherry pie, and prepare to drink a damn fine cup of coffee because we’re about to talk Showtime’s ‘Twin Peaks.’ In this episode of The Pop Culture Juke Joint, Jack Lugo and Zachary Towlen try to make some sense of what happened throughout the new season of ‘Twin Peaks’ as well as during the unsettling finale. David Lynch’s attempt to bring arthouse cinema to television has been met with both praise and frustration from fans of the series. Did it take too long for us to see the Dale Cooper we grew to love? What’s going on with Audrey, and why is David Bowie’s character a giant tea kettle? Jack and Zachary try to make sense of it all during their conversation. So sit back, settle in, and have a listen as we try to decipher 18 hours of David Lynch’s return to Twin Peaks and where this journey leaves fans of the show. Click on the Youtube link below.


Pop Culture Juke Joint Podcast: Dice on Showtime

The Diceman is back on Showtime for a second season of misadventures and irreverent vulgarity that only Andrew ‘Dice’ Clay himself could deliver. Anthony Venutolo and Jack Lugo couldn’t possibly be more overjoyed with the return of the comedic gem of series.

As we discuss the merits of Dice’s Showtime series, Anthony dives into his own personal history with Dice both as a fan and as a journalist. We also talk about the general format of this Curb-esque type comedic series and whether or not we’ve grown weary of them. This is a discussion you won’t want to miss. So get yourself a drink, sit back, and relax. We promise we won’t break your balls, but if you go see Dice at a club be warned… He just might break yours and that’s why we love him.  Click on the Youtube link below to check it out!


Podcast Discussion: Netflix Original Documentary Nobody Speak- Trials of the Free Press

This episode, Anthony Venutolo and Jack Lugo talk about the Netflix Original documentary “Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press.” The new documentary takes a close look at the lawsuit stemming from the Hulk Hogan sex tape and the ultimate downfall of Gawker Media including several individuals responsible for that publication.

There are also broader implications that go beyond the surface of this case that the documentary chooses to highlight with varying degrees of success. Anthony’s 20 year experience working in newsrooms as a writer and web editor lends him a unique insight into some of the events that drive this documentary as well as many of the current relevant topics involving the media today.

This may be a complex and, at times, divisive topic, but we hope you find our observations of interest nonetheless. Grab yourself a drink (perhaps make it a double) and listen as we discuss this controversial yet fascinating topic involving the media, the First Amendment, the right to privacy, and how all of these issues converge in our complex society today.

Editor’s note: Anthony was having temporary mic problems that should be fixed by the next episode.


The Leftovers Finale Discussion (SPOILERS)

In the latest episode of the Pop Culture Juke Joint podcast, Anthony Venutolo and I discuss the series finale of The Leftovers on HBO.  This was an incredibly brilliant series that explored the nature of belief and spirituality in quite an original way.  If you followed the show, please check out our discussion. We hope you enjoy it.  We do discuss some SPOILERS just to give a heads up.

Trump: Is It Racism or Political Strategy?

If you’ve been compelled react to the recent bigoted statements of Donald Trump via social media, congratulations you’ve just handed Trump the victory he’s seeking.  Trump is no more than a narcissistic billionaire with daddy issues desperate for publicity and attention. He wants us to all be talking about him and it doesn’t matter whether our opinions about his positions are positive or negative.  In fact, it can be argued that Trump ultimately benefits from those of us who express moral outrage at his pigheaded proclamations.  His most recent outrageous statement about banning all Muslims from entering the country is not only indicative of his own flawed and prejudiced ideology but also far more indicative of his megalomaniacal need to manipulate the media into letting him dictate the tone and content of our society’s political discourse on a national level.  Unfortunately, even journalists with the noblest intentions cannot help but to play into Trump’s hands because it’s impossible to cover Trump in the media without sensationalizing the coverage.  That is exactly how Trump wants it, and this is how he intends to win the Republican primary.

In reality, I don’t think Trump believes half the verbal manure that has been spouting from his mouth.  Sure, there may be a part of him that may agree with some of the racist, chauvinistic, xenophobic, and sexist statements inherent to the extreme right wing of the Republican Party, but I actually believe his sincerity when he denies being a racist. No racist ever believes he’s a racist.  What Trump is doing is very simple.  He’s pandering to racists by telling them what they want to hear. He’s doing what the Republican Party has been doing for decades.  They pander to their base because it’s the fundamentalist Christian lobbyist groups who fund their campaign and essentially bribe politicians and political candidates to say what the base of their constituents want to hear.   Republicans depend on the votes of poor, uneducated, white Christians to support their campaigns.

The Republican Party has been vastly co-opted by powerful lobbyist groups who want to dictate government policies based upon fundamentalist Christian beliefs.  As a result, we all lose because we have one political party controlled by extremists while the Democratic Party also suffers from its own internal shortcomings.  Rational fiscal conservatives cannot elect their candidates solely based upon their conservative economic vision.   They are forced to support candidates who must first pander to their base who dictate where the candidates must stand on broader social issues.  Hence, it’s difficult to find a Republican candidate who supports a woman’s right to choose. Even if they vaguely take a semi pro-choice position to appeal to female voters, they must emphatically stress their opposition to Planned Parenthood despite the fact that not one penny of federal funding to Planned Parenthood goes to fund abortions.  Instead, the organization performs cancer screenings, facilitates access to birth control, and helps to treat STIs (sexually transmitted infections).

What Trump is doing is in some ways politically ingenious from a strategic perspective.  He’s swooping in and clutching away the support of the more traditional candidates – candidates who would be sanctioned by the powerful Christian lobby groups – and appealing to the base of their constituents by pandering to them and dominating the tone and rhetoric of political discussion across all forms of media.  What this is doing is essentially stealing away thunder of the other Republican candidates and exposing the bigotry inherent to Republican Party politics.  Previously, the Republican Party preferred a brand of bigotry and chauvinism that was more covert.   When it comes to contending in general elections, it’s impossible to win without at least paying lip service to the notion of equality, liberty, and justice for all.  In the past it was enough for them to at least pretend as if Republican candidates cared about all its constituents even as they deployed deplorable practices such as disenfranchising minority voters with unfair voter ID laws while also gerrymandering district boarders to insure victory.  Now, Trump has forced (some might say bullied) the Republican Party into pressing forward with overt bigotry and chauvinism.  If you need to ask why, then you haven’t been paying attention to the media.   It all boils down to media coverage.  Trump must realize that what he’s saying is vile and wrong on every moral and ethical level, but he also knows that every racist, chauvinistic, bigoted statement garners massive attention and free coverage across every media platform.  That attention rallies his supporters who are the voters Republicans have traditionally depended upon due to their defiantly uneducated, uncultured, and prejudiced personal politics. Nevertheless, Trump knows that as long as he has their support, he can steal away enough votes to win himself the primary.

Republicans have a tough decision to make.  Do they defy their base constituents made up of poor uneducated white Christian voters by rejecting Trump or do they embrace the increasingly fascist ideology of the person currently dominating the polls?  In some ways, they are trapped in a conundrum of their own doing and I doubt traditional Republicans such as Dick Cheney and Paul Ryan, who both recently denounced Trump’s statement about Muslims, could do much to sway public opinion within the Republican Party away from Trump’s off the cuff reactionary sentiments.  This is a political party who had previously benefited from the poor essentially voting against their own self-interests based upon what was once covert prejudice and chauvinism.  Now that Trump has exposed the true underbelly of these attitudes is there a way for the Republican Party to go back?  Perhaps its time for the GOP to re-evaluate its stance on social issues and eschew the powerful fundamentalist Christian lobby groups who dictate their position on social issues.  Imagine how revolutionary it might be to see a Republican Party candidate who is progressive on social issues yet conservative when it comes to the economy. Wouldn’t that be something interesting? The American voters deserve to choose between candidates that they respect instead of casting their votes against a candidate with morally egregious social positions dictated by lobbyists.

The media will no doubt continue to relish in the frenzy of the Trump circus and it appears there is no return to the good ole days of the pre-Trump era of journalism when political scandals came and went in cycles.  Now it’s become all Trump all the time day in and day out.  This is exactly what Trump wants and this is exactly how he intends to win the Republican nomination.  Whether he does or not remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure.  Whenever Trump says something that riles you up and inspires you to denounce him, you’re probably feeding into the very frenzy he’s created.  The best thing to do is to keep in mind that Trump is only saying what the dregs of our society want to hear.  When we put it that way, maybe . . . just maybe . . . common sense will win out and the Republicans will get their act together and nominate a candidate that we might grudgingly respect even while tremendously disagreeing with the policy positions put forth by those Christian lobbyist groups, who are the true enemies of freedom by the way.