In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« Mystery Solved | Main | DVD Journal: "Tristram Shandy, A Cock and Bull Story" »

November 22, 2007

My Biggest Thanksgiving Peeve

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

[Non-American readers have my permission to skip this post because it's about today's Thanksgiving holiday, a secular celebration that has its roots in the earliest days of colonial settlement.]

This is no hit-piece on American history that some Howard Zinn-inspired writer might churn out. Nope, no complaints about injustices to "Native Americans." No rants about this annual exercise of over-eating -- wastefully pillaging the planet via depletion of everything within reach of obese, materialistic, mouth-breathing simpletons oblivious to the rest of the world's misfortunes.

Nope. No ritualistic dissing of the usual targets from me. My complaint is truly serious.

It has to do with New York's traditional Macy's parade. And how television ruined it -- for TV viewers, anyhow.

Once upon a time, perhaps in the mid-1950s (I forget exactly when), television coverage was simply of the parade itself: the bands, the floats, the huge balloons.

Then Show Biz crept in. Instead of showing only what spectators farther north on Broadway were seeing, the coverage tended to focus on Herald Square where singers, dancers and other entertainers from Broadway shows would sweep onto the street and do numbers from various productions. By the 1970s it got to the point that I thought that they might as well have skipped the actual parade and done the whole thing in a TV studio.

Since then the network showing the parade -- besides publicizing Broadway musical shows -- took to publicizing its own lineup of programs. Actors on one show or another are somewhat awkwardly introduced in order to generate hype.

The parade is on TV as I'm writing this. Since a Broadway stagehand strike is in progress this year, the stage content is down. So the audio I'm overhearing seems to be focusing on promoting the network's forthcoming offerings. And they had Mayor Bloomberg on and asked about his political plans.

I suppose they'll cut to the occasional balloon if they run out of other, more important things to flak.

Happy Thanksgiving.



posted by Donald at November 22, 2007



So far so good, but that's only half the problem. When the network isn't showing one showstopper or another the camera is fixed on the two jerks in the booth, it's bad enough to have to listen to their retarded color commentary, but to have to look at them too? That's just too much.

Posted by: Matt on November 22, 2007 10:55 PM

My wife and I were had similar issues with the parade, but we eventually turned it off due to the commercials. Two minutes of parade, then five minutes of commercials got out of hand. Fortunately, she remembered to DVR it since we planned to sleep in, but even with fast-forwarding through commercials it was still unwatchable.

Don't worry, in about five years, broadcasts of the parade will end when the ratings go down. They'll cancel it because "it's just not as popular as it was in the past". In other words, the blame will be with US for not wanting to watch the crap they've turned it into.

Posted by: Upstate Guy on November 23, 2007 9:51 AM

If you went back more than ten years and watched the coverage of almost any event, whether it was a holiday parade or sports event or you name it, the coverage was much less jumpy, less intrusive, less educational. The camera, without twitching around would just sit there and let you, the viewer, draw your own conclusions, or simply enjoy, without instruction. It relates to a big societal change. Maybe make that more than twenty years ago.

Posted by: ricpic on November 23, 2007 10:49 AM

Matt's comments are hilarious. The two retards in the booth...??? Accurate, but funny to see it stated out loud. And the real joke is the two retards in the booth always act like its the biggest honor they have ever received, hosting the Thanksgiving Day parade....and you think, it is???? You aren't pissed you have the stupid, schlocky, cold weather assignment while Tom Brokaw gets to sip sherry and eat hors d'oerves in front of the fire of his huge home????

Ricpic---yes, make that twenty years.

Posted by: annette on November 23, 2007 11:48 AM

It's funny that you should have written this because on Thursday morning I was also feeling pretty negative about the TV coverage of the parade (I turned it off after a few minutes), and I was wondering if I was just getting old and grouchy (. . . bah humbug . . etc.)! So it's something of a relief to see that others were thinking along pretty much the same lines (or, at least, I'm not the only person getting old and grouchy).

Some other thoughts:

Although I've been watching the parade off and on since the mid-1950s, my recollections regarding the specifics of the TV coverage over the years are somewhat fuzzy. It would be interesting, though, to actually analyze TV coverage of the parade over the years using kinescopes or videotapes (if anyone actually made them and/or kept them).

I do recall that at one point (in the early or mid 1990s?), it really bothered me to see that all the TV "chatter" was so minutely and obviously scripted and calculated -- and the delivery so lame. But more recently, the anchors seem to be more adept at delivering this kind of canned speech, so it hasn't bother me as much.

By the way, in some ways this focusing by TV on the performances being given in front of Macy's on Herald Square has an even greater negative effect on the parade in person -- especially for those viewing the parade toward the end of the parade route:

The last time I went to see the parade in person was in the mid-1980s and I made the mistake of trying to view it from about 38th St. Each time one of the performing acts was being shown on TV from in front of Macy's, this would stop the entire parade behind it. And my recollection is that all the parade marchers (even the bands) would then just stand still doing nothing -- which made the scene eerily quiet and awkward for both the marchers and the parade viewers.

This, combined with the foggy overcast skies that day, seemed to create a very somber and "downer" mood amongst the crowd, something like, "We came all the way down here for 'this'?" (But then again, maybe this was all in my imagination -- I went alone at the spur of the moment and didn't have anyone to compare notes with.)

The day was "capped" and encapsulated for me, though, by the following "Fellini-esque"(?) moment:

As the balloons were being emptied of helium on a side street before dispersing parade goers, I remember one loud-mouth homeless type "street character" ranting to the silent and (seemingly to me) somber crowd of onlookers something along the lines of, "How come we can waste all this helium when there are starving children in Harlem?"

P.S. -- It seems to me that they could avoid this problem (if it is indeed a problem and not just my imagination) if the performers performed in front of Macy's 34th St. facade, instead of in front of the Herald Square one. This way those portions of the parade not scheduled for extended TV viewing could continue to proceed down Broadway and then turn off on 33rd St. -- and thereby not hold up the rest of the parade. (Of course, this only solves the problem -- if it idoes solve the problem -- for those viewing the parade in person. It doesn't really help the TV viewer, though.)

Posted by: Benjamin Hemric on November 24, 2007 2:48 PM

My wife and I were had similar issues with the parade, but we eventually turned it off due to the commercials. Two minutes of parade, then five minutes of commercials got out of hand ... Don't worry, in about five years, broadcasts of the parade will end when the ratings go down. They'll cancel it because "it's just not as popular as it was in the past".

On the other hand, the already stratospheric ratings for NFL games just keep going up and up despite the fact that a televised game consists of an endless array of commercials for cars, beer, life insurance and limp-d*ck drugs, interspersed with bits and pieces of actual, you know, play.

Posted by: Peter on November 25, 2007 7:35 PM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?