Browsing Tag

Donald Trump

Career Killers: “Witness” by Katy Perry

It’s strange to think that Katy Perry’s career as a major pop superstar could be over.

Between 2008 and 2016, Perry released three multi-platinum albums and amassed 18 Top 30 singles as a lead artist, including nine #1 hits. Her 2010 album, Teenage Dream, produced a record-tying 5 number one singles (only Michael Jackson’s Bad has managed to match that). She’s been credited with selling 143 million records worldwide, putting her ahead of Bruce Springsteen, Metallica, Lady Gaga, Adele, Britney Spears and many others.

That track record of sustained success should have protected her career from being completely derailed by one flop. And yet, plenty of critics and observers wrote her off after 2017’s Witness, with some even wondering if her decline marked the end of an era in pop music. Perry’s career choices since then have only seemed to confirm that her best days are behind her. In 2018, she went to the place where many music careers go when they’re on life support — the judge’s table at American Idol. Then, she did what a lot of over-the-hill pop stars do when they start to transition to being a nostalgic act: she announced a Las Vegas residency, which is scheduled to begin in December. Meanwhile, her 2020 album, Smile, landed without much fanfare and became her worst-selling record since her 2001 self-titled Christian music debut, when she was still known as Katy Hudson.

So what happened?

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Bush v. Gore: The Coin

In general, I try to avoid coins issued by private mints. They tend to have very little numismatic value and can even be of dubious legality. In fact, they aren’t legally “coins” since they aren’t issued by a government. Instead, they are often marketed as “rounds.”

But when the private Washington Mint released this silver round in 2000 amidst the uncertainty over who won that year’s Presidential election, I jumped at the chance to buy it. For one thing, I’ve always been a sucker for political-themed exonumia – especially Hard Times Tokens.

For another, this unique two-headed coin with a bust of Al Gore on one side and George W. Bush on the other with each man named as the 43rd President of the United States really captures just how bizarre that entire period was. Between the retracted concessions, hanging chads, organized “riots,” court battles and hand recounts, it seemed like every day provided a new twist and turn as we tried to determine just who had actually won Florida – and therefore the election.

Apparently, the Washington Mint had already been working on an inauguration medallion and had prepared busts of both Gore and Bush. Not knowing which one they would get to use, and inspired by a Tonight Show sketch shortly after Election Day about ways to determine the winner, the Mint got the idea to make the two-headed coin. They even sent two coins on Nov. 13 to Jay Leno to use for a possible skit. Ultimately, after another month, Gore conceded following the Supreme Court’s decision stopping Florida’s recount.

I figured the coin was relevant now since this is the first time since 2000 where one major-party candidate challenged the outcome of a Presidential race. This time, however, enough states have certified their returns to give one candidate a clear majority in the Electoral College, and there have been multiple lawsuits filed in several states instead of just Florida. Those lawsuits aren’t going well, though, which probably explains why there haven’t been any two-headed Joe Biden/Donald Trump coins.

A Penny By Any Other Name: The Controversial 1909 VDB Cent

Donald Trump likes to talk about how he puts his name on everything. Towers. Plazas. Defunct airlines. Mail order steaks. Made in China ties. Even the bottled water in his casinos and restaurants is branded with his name.

Trump’s branding instincts are so engrained that he even went so far as to chastise George Washington for not naming Mount Vernon, Mount Washington. 

“If he was smart, he would’ve put his name on it,” Trump said, according to Politico. “You’ve got to put your name on stuff or no one remembers you.” Apparently, Trump, who currently resides in Washington, D.C. and sleeps a stone’s throw from the Washington Monument, thinks George Washington is about to be written out of the history books because he didn’t think to start selling Washington Axes after cutting down that cherry tree.

Then again, maybe his restraint was because that kind vanity used to be frowned upon.

Take Victor David Brenner.

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“Am I Not a Woman & a Sister”: A Hard Times Token That Foreshadowed Even Harder Times Ahead. (UPDATED)

Andrew Jackson has been in the news a lot over these last few years.

First it was the Obama Administration’s decision in 2016 to replace Old Hickory on the $20 bill with Harriet Tubman.

Then came the 2016 election, when Donald Trump openly and repeatedly praised Jackson and expressed admiration for the controversial ex-President in a way that hasn’t been in vogue in decades. Trump has also gone out of his way to associate himself with Jackson, drawing parallels with his predecessor’s populism, combative nature, political inexperience and anti-establishment attitude. Trump has Jackson’s portrait in the Oval Office, has made a pilgrimage to the Hermitage and has even given Jackson credit for things that happened well after his death. Trump’s admiration for Jackson is such that his administration has refused to commit to replacing Jackson on the $20 with Tubman. 

And, like Jackson, Trump has had his problems with the country’s central bank.

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Is “The Devil’s Advocate” a Great Legal Film?

At the ABA Journal, our most popular web post of all time is our “Top 25 Greatest Legal Movies” feature from 2008. I haven’t seen the stats, but apparently, it’s number one by a country mile. Kind of like how The Matrix is, far and away, the best movie in its trilogy or how Alec Baldwin is, without question, the most talented actor in his family.

So, to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of our most popular feature of all time, the lead feature of this month’s issue is an updated look at the list of greatest legal movies. Some movies from the last decade to be included are Spotlight, The Post and Marshall, while movies like Legally Blonde, Primal Fear and Michael Clayton made the cut this time after missing out on the original list. Also, some movies from the original list dropped out, including Philadelphia, Presumed Innocent, Chicago, In the Name of the Father, and the Al Pacino tour-de-force And Justice for All.

All of this got me thinking about a different Pacino legal drama. The Devil’s Advocate (1997) may not be remembered as his greatest film (if we’re being honest, it’s probably not even in the top half of his filmography), but it’s a fun, creative take on lawyers, law firms and the legal profession.

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Depeche Mode – “Global Spirit Tour” at the United Center

Again, not so much a review as an observation. I enjoyed this show much more than the last Depeche Mode show I attended. The band sounded better and tighter (although that may have been because of the change of venue – Barclays Center had well-documented acoustics problems back then). Dave Gahan and Martin Gore sounded great, Peter Gordeno did a good job playing the “Alan Wilder” role on keyboards and background vocals and Christian Eigner was solid on drums. Fletch showed off some new dance moves, adding an awkward double Durst to his extensive repertoire (which includes the “Funky Cello” and the “Snack Break”). The band only did four songs off the new album, “Spirit” – the same number of songs they did from 1997’s “Ultra.” That’s too bad, because I actually like some of the songs off the new album, especially show-opener “Going Backwards.”

We’re going backwards
Turning back our history
Going backwards
Piling on the misery

We’re going backwards
Armed with new technology
Going backwards
To a caveman mentality

In fact, “Spirit” is quite political – especially when compared to the band’s last few albums. Maybe Trump, Brexit and everything else going on in the world inspired them. Or maybe it was being co-opted by the alt-right. Either way, it made for a great show!

U2 – “Experience and Innocence Tour” at the United Center

Not so much a review as an observation. I enjoyed Tuesday’s show a lot more than I thought I would. I actually preferred it to the Joshua Tree show I saw last year. The new album definitely grows on you and some of the songs sound much better live than on the record (especially “The Blackout” and “American Soul“). And it was cool hearing “Until the End of the World” (one of my favorite U2 songs), “Acrobat,” and the “Hollywood remix” version of “Desire” live.

While Bono and company mostly stuck to the prevalent themes on Songs of Experience, namely positivity and inclusiveness, it was nice to see the band mix it up with a healthy dose of cynicism by bringing back MacPhisto, Bono’s Zooropa-era alter ego. “I was in Charlottesville when the KKK sieg heiled together,” MacPhisto bragged during the intro to “Acrobat.” “Made damn sure the president’s hands were full with stormy weather. Ha! You get it? You can’t make this shit up.”

Nope. You certainly can’t.

Rudy (BOOK EXCERPT)

[T]here have been plenty of politicians who, at one time, called the venerated halls of Mudge “home.” In addition to [Richard] Nixon, [John] Mitchell, [Pat] Buchanan, [former NJ Governor Jim] Florio, and [former HUD Secretary Carla] Hills, several other prominent national figures have spent time at Mudge, including ex New York mayor John Lindsay, federal judge and DOJ official Harold Russell (“Ace”) Tyler Jr., former New York State Supreme Court justice William Lawless, former Dick Cheney aide I. Lewis (“Scooter”) Libby, and Manhattan federal district judge Jed Rakoff. More recently, in 2016, Democrat Tim Canova, a former Mudge Rose associate, unsuccessfully ran for US House of Representatives in Florida. Perhaps Mudge’s most prominent politico after Nixon, however, was a New Yorker who spent almost no time at the firm.

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How the Radical Movements of the 1960s Changed the Law and Challenged the Status Quo (Podcast).

I got the opportunity to host this month’s episode of “Asked and Answered.” I interviewed attorney and activist Paul Harris about his work stretching back to the 1960s. Harris, one of the radical “movement lawyers” featured in the cover story for the August issue of the ABA Journal, spoke about his work defending high-profile clients like Huey Newton, Leonard McNeil and others.