The Blues

I was saddened by the news of the death of the brilliant Steven Bochco, co-creator of the best cop shows ever put on TV, Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue.

Hill Street Blues came out when I was still living in Johannesburg, and as US shows couldn’t be shown on South African TV because apartheid, my friendly local video store owner managed to get copies made in the US and smuggled into South Africa, where he transposed the episodes from NTSC into the PAL system.  He recommended the pilot show to me, and I was hooked in the first five minutes. I’d never seen anything like that show before — and I suspect not many had, even in America. I grew to love the characters and watched their antics fondly each week, waiting for the call from Jim to tell me he’d finished transposing the latest episode; he knew I loved the show and as my apartment was literally across the road from his store, I’d stop over on my way back from work, grab the VHS cassette from him and watch the thing twice before returning it to him the next morning.

I had a major crush on Assistant D.A. Joyce Davenport (Veronica Hamel), and loved the way that she and Captain Frank Furillo (Daniel J. Travanti) had this antagonistic professional relationship at the precinct while having a love affair in secret. I even loved Furillo’s awful ex-wife Fay (Barbara Bosson) and how she always caused trouble for him when she came storming into the station. And I could go on and on: the relationship between cowboy cop Renko and Black cop Washington, the grumpy Belker always getting interrupted at critical moments by phone calls from his mother, the silky psychopath SWAT commander Howard Hunter (James B. Sikking) and so on and so on. And like many, I mourned the real-life death of desk sergeant Phil Esterhaus (Michael Conrad), whose post-briefing “Let’s be careful out there” so often went unheeded, and so often with tragic consequences. I think the show went a little downhill after his passing.

You will understand how much I loved this show that I can still recall so many of the plot details now, some thirty years later.

Much less so was NYPD Blue, which was a grittier, more New York kind of show (as opposed to the still-rough-but-somehow-gentler Chicago South Side of HSB). Still, there were parallels: I had a huge crush on NYPD’s Assistant D.A. Sylvia Costas (Sharon Lawrence) — yes, two ADAs in two shows, go figure — but whereas HSB was mostly drama, NYPDB, made in a more permissive decade, threw in a healthy dose of sex between the characters, with actual nudity. That aside, though, whereas Hill Street Blues had been a truly ensemble show, NYPD Blue belonged lock, stock and barrel to the brilliant Dennis Franz as Det. Andy Sipowicz, whose loud, profane and irritable persona was all New York — still more remarkable when you consider that Franz was the archetypal Chicago cop. (His one-man stage show about cops in Chicago had the accolade of being the favorite stage show of actual Chicago cops, who nightly formed much of his theater audience.) There were other characters on NYPDB — good if not excellent ones — but Franz owned the place.

Anyway, as Readers other than of my own vintage won’t know what the hell I’m talking about here, I’m going to resort to pictures, first of ADA Joyce Davenport and then her New York counterpart, ADA Sylvia Costas.

Finally, here’s a totally-gratuitous pic of NYPDB‘s Det. Diane Russell (Kim Delaney), so everyone can see what I’ve been talking about:

R.I.P. Mr. Bochco, and thank you for the Blues.

“Sit, Ubu.”

About Time, Too

I’ve always enjoyed Taki Theodoracopulos’s pet online project, Taki’s Magazine.  I especially love the old Greek bastard’s own wicked articles, with all the name-dropping and gossip flavoring. Almost without exception too, the writers have been a type after my own heart: intelligent, educated, fearless and completely irreverent, they’re willing to tackle even the most fearsome of sacred cows.

Much less so were the morons who commented on the articles. Almost without exception, they were a bunch of ignorant assholes for whom no dire situation or event was not at least partially caused by the Jooos (especially, as Taki puts it, “(((the Rothschilds)))”) who are seated at the heart of the Great Jewish / Bilderberg / Katahdin /  Illuminati Conspiracy (or some bullshit like that).

So Taki finally got sick of all those commentators’ illiterate and malicious doggerel, and took out the Comments section. Now, if you want to make a comment, you have to send Taki’s Mag an email with your comment, and they’ll publish them later in the week IF they feel the comment is worthy. I suspect that only about 0.05% of the emails will ever see the light of day: good.

At last, I can wholeheartedly endorse Taki’s Magazine because it’s excellent. Even David Cole and Pat Buchanan don’t get up my nose that much anymore (mostly because I only read those of their posts which cover topics I’m interested in). Even if I don’t agree with the rest of the Taki’s Mag articles — or even just parts thereof — I read them anyway, because regardless of my opinion, they’re pretty compelling reading.

Hell, Joe Bob Briggs alone makes visiting the website a fine experience; but to be honest, you could say that about almost all the writers. And that’s something I cannot say about any other online (or even Dead Tree) publication.

Enjoy.

Words To The Wise

Not having been a frequent visitor to Lucky Gunner, I was unaware that they don’t just sell ammo — and in case there are others like me, allow me to introduce you to their excellent shooting-for-beginners series, Shooting 101. Then look at the next series (which is equally good): Start Shooting Better.

And the website is chock full of such articles. Prepare to spend quite some time getting through all of them.

There’s a German idiom “Immer werder lernen“, which roughly translated means “There always something to learn”. Such is the case with the two Lucky Gunner series — I’m kicking myself at discovering a couple of bad habits I’ve picked up over the years — and in this age of smaller “pocket” pistols, their “How To Shoot Small Pistols Better” is an absolute gem.

And Chris Baker gets off some memorable lines, e.g. when talking about shooting revolvers:

“What it comes down to is that the long double action trigger press forces the shooter to maintain correct technique 100% of the time in order to not completely suck.”

Here’s a gratuitous picture of a beautiful gun, just because. It’s a S&W Model 24 “Heritage”, chambered in .44 Special.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the range… to work on eliminating some of those bad habits I discovered. And to make sure that I don’t completely suck.