Jewish World Review Nov. 26, 2003 / 1 Kislev, 5764

Media Person

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FranksGiving | This year, Media Person had planned to skip his traditional retelling of the Story of the First Thanksgiving, but when word got around, a flood of congratulatory calls and e-mails arrived so MP decided to reinstate the Beloved Holiday Classic out of pure spite. Guess the discussion of The Stephen Glass Movie And Its Effects on 21st Century Political Journalism will have to wait a week.

Let us then, without any pause that might allow armed opposition to develop, return to that ever-troubled year of 1620 when, all mainstream historical novelists and their chief plagiarists agree, a group of Pilgrims, outraged by rumors that the King of England planned to legalize gay marriage so he could elope with his valet, sailed for the New World but took a wrong turn and instead ended up in America. Crashing into Plymouth Rock, they debarked, (though why they were barking in the first place no one knows) and then they got off the boat to begin their desperate struggle to learn to spell "Massachusetts." Only much later did they discover the word was Native Americanese for "Eurotrash, go home."

Food was scarce, the winter cruel and the club scene consisted mainly of hungry farmers beating beavers to death with bats or, possibly, the reverse. But the plucky Pilgrims survived, thanks to their deep religious convictions, which taught them that misery was the highest state of being. Adapting quickly to local customs, they learned to stay indoors during blizzards and to extend the community's meager food supply by catching as many fatal diseases as were available.

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Still, even the deceased Pilgrims were happier to be in New England than in Used England because here they had rights such as freedom of the press, which enabled them to have their clothes not just cleaned but ironed. Also, the American media were less biased, with their fair and balanced town criers who always made sure to give equal time to the town laughers.

Many American entrepreneurs were already working on developing the continent's entertainment media, though in the Pilgrim colony this consisted exclusively of the church network. One innovation found to be very good for business was mandatory attendance. Indeed, larger towns featured the Multipreach, offering simultaneous sermons from six pulpits, each manned by a religious fanatic with a different idea of which sin would get you to hell fastest.

Other regions had more frivolous entertainment fare. From the slightly depraved colony of New Amsterdam, came NYPD Blue Law, featuring two stern Dutch uncles two patroled the town on the Sabbath, sternly lecturing brazen hussies who showed too much ankle and libertines who looked.

Then there was Joe Plenty of Shillings, a reality show in which a wealthy merchant in want of a wife would exchange flirtatious correspondence with 25 comely maidens. But here's the great twist: the poor fellow does not know that 16 of them are witches and one a succubus!

On the very popular Queer Isle for the Strayed Guy, men caught blaspheming or drinking hard cider were banished to Roanoke Island, off Virginia, where they then all would mysteriously disappear.

Even the Native Americans had a successful show. Titled Everyone Loves Red Man , it portrayed a neighborhood in which Europeans treated Indians with dignity and respect. The Indian audience found this concept uproarious.

But there was more to life than entertainment, as the Pilgrims well knew, especially when starving to death. Swallowing his pride, though it contained scant nutritional value, the Pilgrims' leader, G. W. Bushford, appealed for succor to Massasoit, the great sachem of the Wampanoags. Unfortunately, he misread his cue cards and read the line as "I appeal to you, sucker." This left him little choice but to go to a rival chief, Wampanoag, the great massasoit of the Sachems.

Wampy immediately went on CNN (the Corn Niblet Network) and ordered his braves, as well as his cowards, to teach the Pilgrims The Ancient Lore of the Woods for Dummies. This included such essential survival skills as not skinning a bear until after you kill it and how to tell the difference between an apple and a fish.

Falling eagerly to work, the Pilgrims prospered and decided to invent a new holiday to celebrate. Thanksgiving narrowly beat out Veterans Day but only because there hadn't been any wars yet. The Indians were invited in the hope that they would bring a decent dessert but their skunk-cabbage strudel didn't go over that well.

Everyone agreed that the pre-dinner entertainer, Britishemigrant Spears, was a first-rate act, especially her sensuous writhing in the flames as she was put to death for lascivious witchery.

Today, many people believe that turkey was the main course at that glorious First Thanksgiving but this is a myth. In fact, hot dogs were the entrée if, for no other reason, to justify the ridiculous headline on this column.

JWR contributor Media Person -- a.k.a Lewis Grossberger -- is a columnist for Media Week. Comment by clicking here.


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02/19/03: Yanking the Franks
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© 2002, Lewis Grossberger