Friday, March 31, 2017

"Why People Believe Weird Things"

(Pseudoscience, Superstition, and other Confusions of our Time)
-by michael shermer
1997, 2002
Is it falsifiable?
If not, then it ain't science (or even scientific). It's speculation at best, and wishful thinking at worst. Between friends, such fare can be benign or even productive. Unfortunately, in troubled times our overactive imaginations too often take a turn into anti-scientific, anti-humanistic rubbish. Does religion foster attitudes of helplessness or self-loathing? Does belief in psychics prevent people from taking responsibility for themselves?  Do these and other unsubstantiated beliefs come between humanity and the one endeavor (science) that leads to true liberation? Michael tries to wrap his mind around the whys and wherefores of all our contemporary bogeymen and dead-end spiritual/intellectual streets.
He calls the ability to dream up wild ideas an evolutionary adaptation, at the heart of our talent for stunning technological and artistic wonders. If we weren't able to invest in off-beat notions more deeply than other animals, we would never have made bicycles or bassoons. But in an imbalanced world, this adaptation can be the noose around our neck. A greedy, violent, self-serving culture currently dominates our species, and studies reveal that the more unstable and fearful a society becomes, the greater the belief in magic (god is a concept by which we measure our pain, indeed).
But the greater question shermer tries to tackle is not why gus and norma normal believe in ghosts and numerology, but why genuinely smart people dine at the untestable trough too. There are long-term studies which show that non-believers are smarter than believers, and this writer himself has taken those results and (rather unapologetically) run with them. Not so fast, says shermer! Brilliant people can embrace hooey as well as, or better than, their dimmer compatriots. Some studies reveal that the relationship between intelligence and belief is orthogonal - in other words, no relationship at all (and with certain beliefs such as the new age movement, smarter people can be MORE susceptible). And smart people can be the devoutest of the devout because of the confirmation bias, our tendency to embrace evidence that substantiates previously existing attitudes (like my reaction to the "believers are dumber" studies), and screen out anything that fails to support us. Thus, a lifetime of small, successive seemingly rational assessments can lead to one grand whopper of irrational belief. And smarter people are better at rationalizing and defending their ideas, once they're invested.
But take heart! There's also evidence that even overly-credulous ninnies know they're being hoodwinked, at least subconsciously. When religious folk were asked to compare why they believe with why they thought others believed, they gave intellectual justifications for themselves, but emotional motivations for others. In other words, "I'm smart, but my idiot friends just need comfort and community".
Shermer, a well-traveled lecturer, debater, and founder of the Skeptics Society, also tackles creationism, near-death experiences, and Holocaust-denial (indeed, you might be advised to skip the chapters on that last one - to 2017 eyes, it's overkill). He delves into the 25 intellectual fallacies that lead people down blind alleys. With easygoing prose, he takes us on an occasionally infuriating but lovely ride.

Monday, March 27, 2017

sir paul's mop

Oh, paul.
What in holy hell happened to your hair??
I say this, mind you, in a world of comb-overs, weaves, implants, straightening, bottle blondes, reddish-brown asians, and whatever life form has taken residence on the donald's head.
A few years back, your hair suddenly appeared a deeper shade of brown than even when you were a twentysomething moptop.
Please, paul, we beg you...tell us it ain't so.
I know, i know, it's nobody's business but your own. Even if you wore seaweed tresses, it's YOUR head and anybody who don't like it can sod off.
Freedom of expression! Respect for one's elders!
If ever the personal were political, this is it. Have you truly thought about the message you're sending? I know you understand how horribly ageist this society is. Old people are marginalized, demeaned, or made invisible. It's there in most any magazine or movie...OLD IS UGLY. Some kind of "sickness" to be resisted and fought, tooth and nail, until that pathetic day when we finally croak and rid the world of something nobody was comfortable seeing anyway.
Not only that, but you're catering to the fear of death, and fear is something this world very much needs LESS.
And i've been "hitting the bottle" for a long time. Decades, one should think. But it's just so bald-facedly obvious now. It's gone on far too long to be just something some dim-witted female had you do, which you went along with because you wanted to get in her pants and who among us hasn't been there? I wore combat boots and plaid shirts for a few months when i was fourteen. It happens. Maybe you got in the habit, and had no idea how to stop once it occurred to you to do so.
But i know you believe in the notion that age is not to be avoided, but revered. And what about embracing yourself for who you are? Or the idea that older people might have a little wisdom to share...and even if they don't, they should still be venerated, because they've SURVIVED, and most young people have no idea how hard that actually is?
Understand, i'm not one of the haters. I've never once slagged you for what you're not. You're not lennon? No, and he's not YOU. I'm the only macca fan i know who has never even dumped on PRESS TO PLAY. It's one of your better works, and anyone who says otherwise can sit on it. "However Absurd", "Only Love Remains"...are you kidding? Achingly, brilliantly beautiful. "Angry", though a great tune, may be the most myopic, self-righteous thing you ever wrote..but i digress.
The point is, do you remember the album cover? The black and white of you and linda? Do you remember your hair? It was black and whitening, a metaphoric parallel of the photo itself. You looked beautiful, and seemed proud of it. THIS IS WHO WE ARE, the photo gently shouted, and it's fucking gorgeous. If you'll forgive just one more comparison to that lad from Menlove, am i the first person on the planet to realize that the PRESS cover was your TWO VIRGINS? More subtle, but just as politically powerful.
And now, it's hard to look at you. You've become some pathetic pitchman for every plastic "surgeon" or $100 wrinkle cream. You've become something to be explained and pitied. But unlike kenny rogers, it's not too late. Shave it off. Today. Now.
Go back to being a person the world needs.
I love you paul.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

dear amanda 6

Dear amanda,
Perhaps i should make this note only outward-directed support and love for who you are (the only tragic aspect of reaching such an elevated place of self-love as where you're headed, is the almost impossible task of finding others who can meet you on that level once you get there). But the initial impetus for this note was a little whimper from my own battered humanity, and perhaps i should honor that, as one of the reasons i walked away when i did was not wanting to set a horrible example in denying my own humanity, as i had done for your sake for so long. Not that i regret any of earn your trust, even a tiny bit, and know that nothing could possibly endanger that trust, denying my humanity was a small price to pay.
But part of the spiritual journey is embracing our humanity, so i ultimately despaired that my one bad example might start overshadowing all the good ones.
So here are the battered thoughts that popped into my head. Did i ever have a chance to throw eric under the bus? Sure. Did i ever have a chance to throw justin under the bus? Absolutely. And in both cases, i had profound selfish reasons for doing so. But i wouldn't do it...not just for nobility, but because it would have been self-defeating. If they were made miserable, you would be miserable, and so on to me...
But it's sad knowing that neither them nor you may ever thank me for not tossing them under said public transport. For fifteen years, i dedicated myself to selflessly loving you and anyone you brought into my life. And for my efforts, i got...tossed under you-know-what.
But it's okay. I always knew what i was getting into. I never expected that there would be personal rewards from loving you. Oh sure, i hoped. But never expected.
And ultimately, every second of self-sacrifice was worth it, when i remember those one or two fleeting moments when you showed me YOU, without (or very nearly without) any walls.
I won't send this note, as i've no reason to think it would be welcome. You've perhaps already turned me into something far less than what i was. That's understandable. We never see people as they are, but as WE are, and we spend our entire lives shaping our own personal mythologies, molding people and memories into the raw material of our personal narrative, continually creating and re-creating to serve our agenda.
But something very beautiful and elusive happened between us.
I'll always know that, and always be here.

love and love,

P.S. Is there something faintly pathetic about still harboring beautiful feelings for someone who treated you like you were dipped in shit for three years before you cried uncle? Maybe. It's fucked up, which is pretty much all humanity is capable of these days.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

all-time greatest TV theme songs

In this era of syndication, they've got an unfair earworm advantage over pop songs...but still, greatness must be acknowledged. The links are to the iconic versions when nothing else will do, but most take you to alternate or cover versions that might blow your little minds...
1) "Barney Miller"
-by jack elliott and allyn ferguson
-performed by chuck berghofer
Those opening bass notes, so iconic, indelible, funky, sublime...
2) "Cheers"
-by julian williams, gary portnoy, judy hart angelo
-performed by gary portnoy
Has there ever been a theme that more perfectly captured the essence of a show? But which version? The original? 200th episode extended? NBC 75th birthday? This one by foy vance may be better than any...
3) "Mission: Impossible"
-by lalo schifrin
Grinding, nasty, and...slinky? Somehow, yes.
4) "The Muppet Show"
-by sam pottle and jim henson
The greatest funvitation ever.
5) "The Pink Panther Show"
-by henry mancini
Has there ever been a theme song that almost overshadowed a show this big?
6) "Hill Street Blues"
-by mike post (featuring larry carlton)
How about an absolutely shimmery, funky version by rodney franklin?
7) "Star Trek"
-by alexander courage
Where, where, where did alexander come up with this? And since no musician ever soared higher than maynard ferguson... (but be warned, maynard's GALACTICA is possibly the worst sci fi cover ever).
8) "Peter Gunn"
-by henry mancini
No cover comes close.
9) "M*A*S*H"
-by johnny mandel, mike altman
Let's go with the movie version, which ups the poignancy.
10) "The Odd Couple"
-by neal hefti
Well, this is different...rearranged and performed by the composer almost fifty years later, featuring devyn rush.
11) "Batman"
-by neal hefti
Get a load of neal postcini.
12) "All in the Family"
-by charles strouse, lee adams
How about this cast salute to family viewing hour version? You'll thank me.
13) "Bonanza"
-by ray evans, jay livingston
An end-of-show version filmed for the pilot, and never aired. When you hear it, you'll understand why.
14) "The Beverly Hillbillies"
-by paul henning
-performed by jerry scoggins with flatt and scruggs
What, you thought i WOULDN'T pick the weird al version?
15) "The Greatest American Hero"
-by mike post
-performed by mike post with joey scarbury and larry carlton
The full studio version.
16) "Law & Order"
-by mike post
What, never heard the ukulele version?
17) "Scooby Doo"
-written by david mook, ben raleigh
-performed by larry marks or george a. robertson jr.
Both versions are worthy, but let's go with george:
18) "The Big Bang Theory"
-by barenaked ladies
The fuller, geekier version.
19) "Welcome Back, Kotter"
-by john sebastian
The fuller, harmonicalized version.
20) "It's Garry Shandling's Show"
-by joey carbone, alan zweibel, garry shandling
-performed by bill lynch
Wait...the singer didn't write it? Oh garry.
21) "The Rockford Files"
-by mike post, pete carpenter
Mike post...he's no mancini. Spaced-out synth, folky harmonica, rock god guitar...
21) "What's Happening!!"
-by henry mancini
Henry mancini...he's no mike post. The full mancini...slinkiest organ solo ever?

Thursday, March 16, 2017


The meadow looks the same...
But it's been gutted. There's no other word for it.
All the most powerful or funny pieces are gone. In data storage, or in my hands as i read them live.
A testament to...selfishness?
Up until now, my literary output has been free for the world to enjoy (or steal, i suppose). Maybe in five or ten years, i'll restore the meadow to its former glory. Bring back all the missing pieces, and the new ones deemed too brilliant for appearance here. In my personal life, i'm about to dive back into a large metropolitan pool, the kind where art can flourish and ripple on a larger scale. If you've been paying attention, you know i'm not convinced this is the best thing for my muse. Myriad are the compromises and corruptions of the marketplace, to say nothing of courting fame, so i'd like to hope that this isn't all just an ego play...i hope it's about maximizing my ability to reach people who are looking for glimmers of hope or comfort...being a voice of sanity in a world where rape and superstitious self-loathing have run amok...selling the hope that we may yet save our say nothing of the world.
It is those things, yes.
But i'm also bone-weary and unprotected in a society where self-interest is the only thing on which one can truly rely. Most of us are far too poor, battered, desensitized, afraid, or overwhelmed to care for others. We only know how to give when we "get". Can i make my way in THIS world, accrue some measure of physical comfort and security, solely on the products of my mind?
So is the naked meadow...plowed? Paved? Should i just pack it in until such a day as complete, free nakedidity may bloom again? Would it be only an exercise in necrophilia to persist? Yes, perhaps not, hopefully not, and hopefully no. But what's possibly left that's worth your attention? Nothing but reviews?? Even the damned poetry's gone! Well, there will still be pop culture commentaries, romantic memoirs, letters, the naked nurse, and occasional tastes of essay or rant or tale that don't measure up...or some that might be of highest quality but are too timely to be of lasting interest. And i may introduce some new regular feature, distilling and encapsulating the most naked experiences of life...the raw material that becomes the finished essays or tales. "Naked day"? "Naked time"?
And what of my output? You may have already noticed a shift - once, it was common for me to have a new posting every two or three days. Heck, who can forget that heady day in 2010 when i had THREE postings in one day?? Ah, youth. Now, i seem to be settling in at one every four days...and even that may drop, once my public speaking moves from occasional to regular.
I may give you a taste once in a while of the titles you're missing - some incentive to hear me perform in person, or find out whether i'm publishing in some more conventional sense, or self-publishing, or e-publishing, or communing with dolphins...for example, here are some recent pieces you won't be reading here.
-Pick-a-Path 2
-The Dastardly Drippy Dick!
-Song of the Unfucked
-Faeries and Feminists
-Carnaltruisticking Sexbomb
That last one may be testament to the possibility that i'm better at titles than content. But come on, what poem could ever measure up??
Mine, not yours? Not ours?
I'm out here on my own, the meadow ain't dead, and i love you all.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

"Rehab Reunion"

-bruce hornsby & the noisemakers
I'm not sure i've ever written a bad music review. It just feels so much more productive to acknowledge greatness, and pay mediocrity no mind. Yet there's a bit of a double standard there, as i'll occasionally indulge in a critical slam of some movie or show. Perhaps it's more easy and appropriate (and frankly, sometimes fun) to be disgusted with Hollywood. Couched in the idiom of a more pure universal language, there's an element of music that's harder to hate. And perhaps musical appreciation is ultimately more subjective?
But just as an honestly bad album is no sin, an honest bad review is nonesuch either. So i'll say that i've perhaps never been more disappointed in any album. After the middling LEVITATE, i was ready for a return to greatness. Please understand the love from whence this comes - it's fair to say that there's not a single living artist in whom i place greater anticipation, as hornsby well embodies the pop/jazz balance of my own tastes. When he's good he's lovely, and when he's great he's incomparable, with his mix of hypnotic composition, razor sharp lyrics, and singularly beautiful musicianship.
So what the hell happened? Perhaps it's just my own subjectivity roaring displeasure, as he didn't nail any of the elements that get me revving. Yet i'm almost inclined to start a "bruce is dead" conspiracy theory, as this album feels like a pale imitation of the man's work (when you find out that he DOESN'T PLAY PIANO on a single track, your alarm bells might go off too). I even did a web search for "hornsby hand injury", dreading the worst. But it goes deeper. "Hey Kafka" is the only track that's lyrically interesting...and that more for subject than substance. "Celestial Railroad" is the only track that's musically interesting, and that not nearly enough to offset the mildly insipid sentiment.
Sigh. Oh, halcyon days...

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

three wild moments

-directed and written by claude berri
-directed by stanley donen
-directed by jean-francois richet
My favorite french film has always been 1977's "Un moment d'agarement", a tender, poignantly funny look at a middle-aged man having an affair with his best friend's under-aged daughter. The backdrop is a beach holiday for two men and their teenagers. Pierre (jean-pierre marielle - URANUS, THE DA VINCI CODE) regrets the affair as soon as it happens, and tries to extricate himself from her declarations of love while coping with his friend's insistence that he help find the mystery cad who used and abandoned his daughter. The film is a gentle but so, so real look at human desire and hypocrisy. Its only weakness is (of course) patriarchal double standards, as we see an enraged father try to control and deny his daughter's sexuality...but all that is profoundly offset by the incredible humanity agnes sorral (THE OGRE, I LOVE YOU) invests into her part. Berri refuses to moralize - the lovers face each other in the final scene, and as the credits roll the audience has no idea where they will go.
1984's "Blame It On Rio" is one of the few Hollywood adaptations to shine as brightly as the original, because they didn't even try to capture the same flavor, instead creating something much more akin to a bedroom comedy, which hilariously follows the father and his miserable accomplice as they chase the "unknown" lech. Donen found the perfect writers (charlie peters and larry gelbart) and perfect cast, led by michael caine (ZULU, THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL) and joseph bologna (MY FAVORITE YEAR, JERSEY GIRL). Valerie harper (RHODA, VALERIE) plays caine's estranged wife, and demi moore (G.I. JANE, BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD DO AMERICA) his daughter - you can take the opportunity to smile or cry as you see the beautiful breasts nature gave demi, which would soon be mutilated by the surgeon's knife. Caine has never been better, and michelle johnson (GUNG HO, DEATH BECOMES HER) is also perfect as the smitten teen.
Perfect, but...johnson was also a sexbomb who was eighteen playing sixteen, which de-toothed the humanity and poignancy of the original. Soulless Hollywood strikes again! Which brings us to the 2015 re-remake, back in the hands of the french. Sadly, you might be justified in wondering whether french cinema now sucks as much as the yank stuff. The film stars vincent cassel (IRREVERSIBLE, BLACK SWAN) and lola le lann, who are wonderful...but once again we have a sexbomb teen playing a younger part, and on top of that, vincent looks so much like a movie star that the combination hijacks any deeper meaning, as the audience ends up just wanting these unrelateably handsome people to fuck already. You're a fine actor, vincent - you couldn't have grown a beer belly maybe? The ending also feels too easy, as laurent's own teen-angsty daughter forgets her outrage, and louna's father forgives his friend...which one might chalk up to a more enlightened european sensibility IF we hadn't spent an hour watching the man boil with homicidal rage toward the "despoiler". It all feels like such an opportunity lost. Couldn't we have tossed the patriarchal, sexually self-loathing overtones out the window? With apologies to THE READER and TADPOLE (but not many, as that fifteen year-old was twenty-three), isn't it long past time for a movie about a non-tragic affair between a teenage male and an over-forty woman?
Anyway, the first two would make a delectable double feature. One of the funniest, sweetest connections is the lightning strike at the exact same moment in each film. Wonderful.

Friday, March 3, 2017

"Hill Street Blues"

-created by stephen bochco and michael kozoll
Bates and coffey.
Hill and renko.
Davenport and furillo lip-locked at the end (or boink-blocked by that damn pager).
Hm...the show's greatest characterizations seem to come in twos. Except of course, the sgt. esterhaus roll call.
HILL STREET BLUES - one of the worst-previewed pilots ever picked up (it's not that test audiences hated it, but rather that their confused silence was thunderous). The lowest-rated show to ever not be canceled after its first season...just before taking in a record emmy haul and going on to seven seasons, with an influence that reverberates across television to this day.
The show broke much ground, but towers above all for the humanization of people whom we had only ever seen as two-dimensional functionaries living just to "get their guy". Suddenly, all the weaknesses and foibles of real people (ego, drugs, greed, lust, divorce...) were on conspicuous display. The show enjoyed an unprecedented level of independence from the studio - a case study in the proposition that if you leave writers and artists alone, something brilliant might happen.
And it all happened only because NBC's roster was so pathetic in 1981 that they had nothing with which to replace it.
It felt so real in part because of the production - the handheld camera work, the unprecedented density of interior background actors in continuous dynamic motion, the soft cuts - instead of going to commercial after some contrived climax, you often had silent fade-outs of people simply taking it in. The serial-episodic writing was new, with plot lines interwoven over the course of many episodes (and like life itself, things often didn't "resolve"). The bad guys, and the efforts to thwart them, were still there, but almost incidental. And even the bad guys got humanized.
Ultimately though, the brilliance of the show began and ended with the dialogue...and perhaps never in the history of television has it been more obvious on whose shoulders that rested, for when stephen bochco (L.A. LAW, NYPD BLUE) left, the final two seasons became so flat and unfamiliar it was jarring. The cast and talented writing staff soldiered on, but the results are almost painful. Aside from his humanistic insight, bochco employed a brilliant ironic touch - as one cast member described it, he had a way of "going sideways" when least expected.
The earliest episodes could be ridiculously unrealistic, as the writing style took a while to gel. But once they found their groove, they set a standard that's seldom been matched (the show's successors, even the good ones, usually feel too slick and "produced"). An episode guide is perhaps superfluous, because of the interwoven plots and a level of excellence that almost never deviated. So here then, a tribute to the characters, and the actors who made them real.
capt. frank furillo (144 episodes)
-daniel j. travanti (MILLENIUM, MISSING PERSONS)
Anchoring this bursting ensemble with sympathetic humanism wrapped in no-nonsense morality, travanti embodied the kind of leader we might wish really existed. Yet he also struggled with the demons of alcoholism and emotional repression. Never less than wonderful...and if you're looking for a reason to re-visit LOST IN SPACE, apparently he plays a space hippie.
officer/sgt. lucy bates (144)
Trying to maintain some dignity in a world that caters only to barbie dolls, betty was relentlessly real...and one of the few characters the writers didn't know how to write, early on. Her humor and goodness never dimmed, the respect of her male peers was never in question, and we never stopped rooting for her. She went on to a fine career as a director (PRIVATE PARTS, THE LATE SHIFT). Casting her instead of some runway refugee was the most credible choice the producers made.
officer bobby hill (144)
-michael warren (CITY OF ANGELS, PARIS)
Michael injected endless humility and dignity into hill, making him the other moral center of the show. Women wanted him, men wanted to be him. Not bad for a flatfoot.
officer andrew renko (144)
Haid rendered such sweet believability to the manchild renko, that we all fell in love with someone few of us might like in real life.
det. neal washington (144)
-taurean blacque (ROCKY II, SAVANNAH)
Taurean never once misplayed a scene, imbuing the smooth washington with full depth. His acceptance of his abrasive, damaged partner j.d. challenged us all to be so forgiving.
joyce davenport (144)
Her triumphs and tribulations as public defender made us all a bit disgusted with the system. She accomplished what few (if any) female television characters ever had...thriving in a man's world without sacrificing one ounce of femininity.
det. mick belker (144)
Giving depth to a character so over-the-top with the growling and biting, bruce endured and prevailed.
det. j.d. larue (144)
Kiel brought the ugly reality of a self-centered charmer to life - in essence, larue was han solo without the rosy lucas lenses. The real life parallels were a bit eerie, as kiel was a high-functioning alcoholic who was apparently never sober during the first couple seasons, but never again drunk after that.
sgt./lt. henry goldblume (144)
Joe brought hope and pathos to an idealistic, non-violent cop in the city's most violent precinct. Yet i'm not sure the writers ever knew exactly what to do with him.
lt./sgt./lt. howard hunter (144)
-james sikking (STAR TREK III, DOOGIE HOWSER M.D.)
HILL STREET's frank burns...and like larry linville, perhaps the greatest acting challenge and achievement of the show.
lt./capt. ray calletano (109)
-rene enriquez (BANANAS, HARRY AND TONTO)
A thread of chemistry without which the show's tapestry wouldn't have been so american. His promotion and semi-departure from the show (like the last two seasons in general) were clumsy at best.
officer joe coffey (104)
The friendship between coffey and bates gave us all just a little hope for humanity. He escaped the sinking ship after season retrospect, would that they had all thus gone. Is there any other iconic character from an iconic show who was there neither at the beginning, nor the end?
fay furillo (103)
-barbara bosson (HOOPERMAN, COP ROCK)
Barbara turned a shrill, thankless part into a reminder of the destructive inhumanity of marriage, and that in real life, problems don't just magically go away. Perhaps the writers were never quite able to do her fact, we didn't even notice when she disappeared in the sixth season. Yet the show would have been shallower without her, and her part might have been catastrophic in less capable hands.
leo schnitz (94)
Khaki officer schnitz plugged away with one or two lines per show, eventually injecting his own poignant humanity into a couple meatier storylines.
chief fletcher daniels (73)
John was irrepressibly oily as the political, self-serving chief.
sgt. phil esterhaus (71)
The erudite esterhaus was in many ways the heart of the show...michael's sudden death during season four was perhaps the most heartbreaking, resonant death of a series star that television has ever known. What does it say about how frightening this world is, that we so embraced this gruff, rock-solid man who just wanted us to be careful?
irwin bernstein (58)
-george wyner (SPACEBALLS, FLETCH 1-2)
Plugging away in a mostly thankless supporting district attorney role for years, george finally had a moment to shine (and show his naked humanity), in season seven's "Bald Ambition".
sgt. stan jablonski (54)
-robert prosky (THE NATURAL, GREMLINS 2)
An actor asked to do the impossible, replace michael conrad. Amazingly, he kind of pulled it off, as we took the stodgy stan to our hearts.
lt. norman buntz (44)
-dennis franz (BAY CITY BLUES, NYPD BLUE)
Plus five episodes as det. sal benedetto, and thirteen in the doomed spin-off BEVERLY HILLS BUNTZ. Talk about kissing your sister - you do a five-episode run as a scumbag cop in the glory years, and just as the show asks you to become a regular in a more interesting part, bochco up and leaves. Yet life is funny, as franz would ultimately go on to log more bochco hours than any actor ever. And as the hard-edged buntz, he outimpossibled prosky by almost making the last two seasons watchable.
officer robin tataglia (37)
-lisa sutton (THE BRADY BUNCH MOVIE, 28 DAYS)
The recurring robin, as mick's love and eventual mother to his child, was never less than perfect. It's a shame they didn't make her a regular.
jesus martinez (29)
-trinidad silva (THE JERK, UHF)
No other actor had as much pop-per-screen-second as this lazy-eyed, nobody's-fool gang leader.
attorney/judge alan wachtel (29)
As a no-nonsense judge or maladjusted lawyer wearing a dress on the advice of his therapist, jeffrey never missed a moment.
det. harry garibaldi (29)
Ken was impeccable as a law school-attending detective getting by on looks and charm, and bound for self-imploding mortality.
det. patsy mayo (26)
At once vulnerable and hard-bitten, mimi was poignant as dedicated detective or furillo flirtation.
sid thurston (25)
Pitch-perfect as two-cent hustler and snitch.
officer patrick flaherty (20)
-robert clohessy (OZ, BLUE BLOODS)
Through no fault of his own, robert was the poster child for the final two seasons...something you never expected to become regular, and never felt quite right.
officer tina russo (19)
Megan is surprisingly sexy to those who know only her later work, and quite compelling as an officer who has sex with a suspect while undercover, is raped while undercover, and only wants to use a fellow officer for sex. It's sad that another female character is defined almost solely by sex, but it also makes you long for what russo could have become in bochco's hands...
grace gardner (18)
Okay, if she's over forty, we'll accept a female character being defined by her sexuality. Rock on, grace.
officer ron garfield (9)
-mykelti williamson (BAY CITY BLUES, FORREST GUMP)
A fine turn as a rookie struggling to stay on the straight and narrow.
gina srignoli (8)
No actor on the show was ever this sexy and funny. And her sister played a hooker.
gene scapizzi (8)
Memorable neck, forgettable role.
sgt. jenkins (7)
-lawrence tierney (RESERVOIR DOGS, THE NAKED GUN)
Tierney is so iconic that every time he briefly appeared you wondered whether you were dreaming. And to him fell the final line of the series.
shamrock (7)
-david caruso (FIRST BLOOD, NYPD BLUE)
Perfectly memorable as a pugnacious, snot-nosed gang leader.
connie chapman (6)
-frances mcdormand (SHORTS CUTS, FARGO)
Perfectly discomfiting as a brittle, drug-addicted public defender.
ralph macafee (4)
He was actually more memorable in a one-off, as a bum who leads a gang rape of belker.
captain freedom (4)
As a would-be superhero who dons a costume, fights crime, and gets shot dead, no actor did more with less.
sandy valpariso (4)
She loved coffey, but couldn't get over her being raped. Joe, you're an idiot.
officer randall buttman (3)
No, he and linda's episodes don't overlap...but he's absolutely brilliant as an amoral rookie.
officer harris (3)
As a smirking, dirty cop, mark proved he could do drama as skillfully as comedy. Just loathesome.
derelict (3)
Delightful...even without captioning for the hearing impaired.
judge paul grogan (3)
Dandy donnelly.
kristen (3)
Yes, larue has sex with a catholic school teenager. Would this one make the air today?
Plus one-offs by tim robbins, don cheadle, scatman crothers, brent spiner, jonathan frakes, dwight schulz, james cromwell, armin shimerman, merritt butrick, michael richards, laurence fishburne, tim daly, forest whitaker, john ratzenberger, and joaquin phoenix.
Let's be careful out there.