Sunday, November 15, 2009


Some stunning commentary in the wake of USC's worst home loss ever.

Los Angeles (ground zero).

Today marked the end of the Pete Carroll era in L.A.

Let me say that again. On Saturday, November 14, 2009, on the floor of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, The Pete Carroll Era is over.

Just a few observations in the wake of USC's 55-21 emasculation at the hands of the Stanford Cardinal.

OBSERVATION #1: There's a (bunch of) new bully(s) in town.

USC, the bully on the block of college football since 2002, just got ass-whupped by a group of young men for whom pocket protectors are a frat party fashion accessory. While parity in the NCAA has reared its ugly head more and more often in recent years (just ask Notre Dame), not since the year 2000 have the Trojans had to look themselves in the mirror and see Steve Urkel staring back at them.

Once feared - always respected - on this day, in the waning minutes of this precursor of the end of the Mayan calendar, Stanford defensive back Richard Sherman (Compton Dominguez HS) looked into a sideline camera and uttered, "Fight on USC, fight on... look at your crowd leaving..." as he and a teammate mockingly made the Trojan's "fight on" victory gesture.

On this day, the bully went home with two black eyes, and a locker room full of badly bruised egos.

And after "bad" losses to former PAC 10 doormats Washington and Stanford, and new conference power Oregon (with UCLA two weeks away), the tagging is already on the wall.

OBSERVATION #2: That hot chick you took to the prom may turn out to be Rupaul in disguise.

At the height of what was once The Pete Carroll Era, the coach used to ask a rhetorical question of anyone who would listen, a rhetorical question (more often than even a Stanford math major could count) that went something like this: "Why would I want to go to the NFL (more on that in OBSERVATION #3) when I can recruit first-round draft choices at every position?"

Those days are over.

Move over All-World tailback Joe McKnight. Meet Academic All-America tailback Toby Gerhart. In 2006, Gerhart (Norco HS) turned down an offer from USC to play outside linebacker for the two-time BCS Champion Trojans. At the time, USC had pedigreed ball carriers piled up at the entrance to Howard Jones Field almost as high as the number of Heisman statues it has piled up inside Heritage Hall. And everyone knows the world of college football is littered with 18-year-olds who never lived up to all their hometown high school hype.

So Toby Gerhart heads to conference doormat Stanford and the rest is (Trojan) history.

As of tonight, Gerhart is 3rd in the nation in rushing yards, and 1st in number of academic units carried this semester by a running back who just left cleat marks on the backs of what used to be the best defense in college football. This semester, the USC reject carried as many Big Brain Academy course units - 21 - as the Little Men of Troy scored against the enormous frontal lobes of the Cardinal defense. And he looked a lot better doing it than an SC offense that can now boast of more All-America Football impersonators than Marilyn Monroe impersonators at Hollywood and Highland.

Joe McKnight, Allen Bradford, and all the rest of the cast at tailback have been exposed for the frauds they are. And for that matter, the entire offensive playbook since the days when old coordinator Norm Chow and the head coach ended their manly pissing contest, and Chow left for Nashville.

And Pete Carroll and all the rest of his recruiting staff have been exposed for a consistent, glaring inability to pick the right date for the prom.

OBSERVATION #3: That wasn’t just a debacle Pete. That was your Golden Ticket.

Pete Carroll has been waiting for this moment his entire life.

Since being better known as the last coach the New England Patriots will ever fire (because Bill Belichick will be the head coach until that pesky Mayan calendar runs out), Carroll was only Athletic Director Mike Garrett's fifth choice for the vacant head coaching position. Two National Championships later and the flood of persistent rumors about The Prince of the City taking another shot at NFL immortality would not stop coming. Coach Carroll was said to have turned down offer after offer, year after year. Rumor had it that he was just waiting for that one perfect opportunity, that one Golden Ticket - autonomy, authority, the final say - all the power he's enjoyed around University Park, but on the biggest stage. The next big offer will always be there. I mean, he is PETE CARROLL. But the next big reason to take it sometimes only comes along once, and this is it. The whole world (Pete's world) has spent the last 5 years playing catch-up with the USC football program.

Mission accomplished.

Because when Stanford hands you lemons, you take that phone call from the San Diego Chargers.

And no one will remember that you, your team, your school, your fans, and all your living room recruiting cred were blasted all to hell on one sun splashed Saturday Homecoming in November.

Grab that Golden Ticket and make your way as fast as you can (after you lose to that other USC, the University of South Carolina) in the Florida Citrus Bowl) down the 5 Freeway to San Diego, or LAX for a flight to Tennessee, or Cleveland, or... oh, who am I kidding, the Chargers are going to hand you the keys to Sea World, Qualcomm Stadium, and most of La Jolla when the clock strikes midnight on January 2nd, 2010.

And what about the once-mighty USC football program? Maybe after Pete Carroll is out of the way, this town might actually get the one thing it truly needs most…

A real live, honest-to-goodness, bottom-feeding, 2-14, NFL expansion franchise to numb the pain of the fading memories of the glory that once was.

C’mon Pete. All you have to do is grab that Golden Ticket...

Copyright © 2009 Bill Friday

Monday, November 9, 2009

Whispers... Believed

Lies... softly spoken. A poem... with disclaimer*.

Brains on the bathroom floor
Consciousness above me
Despair at life unlived
Responsibility relieved
Bucket made of bone
A sieve
Whispers of all doubt

This poem is a companion piece for the article "With This Muse You Lose", which first appeared on on March 28, 2007. This poem was written on March 21, 2009. Obviously, for the author, March is not a very good month.

* DISCLAIMER: Bill Friday does not endorse suicide as a "solution" to the problems of this life. This disclaimer should be read, and strongly taken into consideration (possibly with the counsel of a mental health professional).

Copyright © 2009 Bill Friday

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

ROXANA SABERI: The Face Of Citizen Journalism

Author's Note: The following article originally appeared on the website Several references herein refer to work by writers on that site, and the idea that the content and mission of BrooWaha and its contributors is, or is closely linked to, the concept of what has been referred to as "Citizen Journalism".

All editorial license taken in this article with regard to the mission and content of BrooWaha is mine.

Roxana Saberi is a Citizen Journalist.


On April 18th it was announced that a court of law found Roxana Saberi guilty of spying on the Iranian government. Tried, convicted, and sentenced in a matter of minutes, Saberi has already begun serving an eight-year sentence in the famed Evin House of Detention, a squalid, overcrowded containment and execution facility on the northern outskirts of the capital city of Tehran. Originally detained January 31st on a preliminary charge involving the "illegal purchase" of a bottle of wine, Saberi was subsequently charged with, "spying for foreigners... for America."

Beginning in 2003, after several years of work in small-market, radio and television news, Saberi began reporting from Iran as a credentialed journalist, freelancing for news agencies as diverse as the BBC, National Public Radio, and Fox News. During this time Saberi, born in the U.S. and raised in North Dakota, the daughter of a Japanese mother and an Iranian father, became a well known presence on the streets of her father's home country. Recognized as both a reporter and videographer, Saberi was often seen filming and interviewing, all while wearing a traditional head covering so as not to be in violations of local customs, or interpretations of Islamic law. Maintaining dual U.S and Iranian citizenship, Saberi wanted to show the world the real face of the Iranian people, not only through her journalistic efforts, but also through a book she intended to write from her experiences there.

Then in 2006, shortly after the election of the new President Mahmood Ahmadinejad, Roxana Saberi's Iranian press credential was revoked. Lacking a recognized credential (one of the hallmarks of Citizen Journalism), yet choosing to remain in Iran without the official permission of the government, for the next two years Saberi continued to file stories periodically, interviewing and filming, becoming the very expression of a Citizen Journalist: See the news... report the news. Then, in January of this year, the original "wine bottle" detainment, and later the official "charges". In the words of the Iranian deputy public prosecutor Hassan Haddad,

"Without press credentials and under the name of being
a reporter, [Saberi] was carrying out espionage activities,"
Haddad informed the Iranian Students News Agency. The same Hassan Haddad who, according to the organization Reporters Without Borders, was a known torturer in Evin Prison as far back as the 1980's.

In a country where Journalism is at best tolerated, and Citizen Journalism is prosecuted as "espionage", Roxana Saberi has become a pawn in a hostile game over the international rights of free speech. As appeals are made to the government of Iran through official and unofficial means, including those of her parents, and even President Barack Obama, who on Sunday said, "I am gravely concerned with her safety and well-being." Despite all that, the fact remains that an American journalist sits in a third-world prison, widely known as a place where many of its inmates do not live long enough to see freedom at the end of their sentence.

At the time of this writing, whether intended or not, Roxana Saberi has become the face of Citizen Journalism in America, as well as the world.

THE FACE OF CITIZEN JOURNALISM: What it must not become.

I have a blog. That's no secret. I've had this blog for almost two years, and have published items on everything from news, sports and entertainment, to commentaries and humor pieces. Pretty much anything that crosses my mind.

My blog is not Citizen Journalism. Not even close.

Most of you reading this also have blogs, many of which I have read. And most of those, despite your protests to the contrary, are not Citizen Journalism. And, regardless of what you believe about the site on which you are first reading this article, much of what is seen here, including this article, is not Citizen Journalism.


And while the work of many who have written on this site should be proudly counted as Citizen Journalism and is often superior to what can be found on other similar sites (no author's names here - everyone already knows who you are), much of what wishes to be defined as such is neither journalism, or even blogging. It more closely resembles a written transcript of the talk radio caller, shouting a badly constructed, spontaneous opinion into a cell phone, only to be drowned out by the host, then forgotten just as quickly as the next badly constructed caller opinion.

A few tips.

1. Citizen Journalism is not "news" you gleaned (uploaded, downloaded, copied, cut, or pasted) from another news source. At best, that would make it commentary. At worst, plagiarism. Ranting another person's rant, with or without proper credit, is not journalism at all. In the old days, that form of distribution of information was reserved for telephone conversations between disaffected housewives after a few too many nips of the cooking sherry. It may have been news, but it wasn't journalism.

2. Citizen Journalism is not propaganda. Rephrasing what you heard shouted by O'Reilly, or sneered by Olbermann, or even lovingly smirked by Chelsea Handler last night sometime between dinner and dental floss, is not journalism either. It wasn't journalism when they said it and it isn't journalism when you repeat their opinions as your own. Parroting the talking of partisan heads, no matter how much "you couldn't agree more", is not Citizen Journalism. It's Citizen Sloppy Seconds. Or Thirds.

3. Finally, Citizen Journalism is not a popularity contest (remember Roxana Saberi). True journalism is not about having your "friends" vote for your stories to "make a name for yourself". In its purest form, Citizen Journalism is finding the story right in front of you, and telling it. Popularity and self-promotion are more closely related to Tila Tequila than to Roxana Saberi.

Roxana Saberi is a Citizen Journalist. Are you? Do you want to be?

Start now.

Additional sources for this article include:

Copyright © 2009 Bill Friday

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Rod Blagojevich: The Fool Waha Interview

As always, Bill Friday did not, under any circumstances, at any time, for any reason, sit down with current (at the time of this writing) Illinois Governor Milorad Blagojevich.

Somewhere in the Cayman Islands.

[The Interviewer and his Subject sit in high-back, cane chairs in an open, plantation-style terrace. Bright, hot studio lighting causes the Subject to sweat great drops from underneath the wide swath of hair covering his forehead. A camera crew makes preparations for the videotaped interview.]

Bill Friday: Governor, we’re on in one minute. Is there anything need before we begin?

Blagojevich: I’m a little parched. A Mojito would be nice.

[Bill Friday turns to his Personal Assistant...]

Friday: Evie, could you bring the Governor a Mojito... with lots and lots of ice?

Evie: Anything for you. You know that.

[The Assistant leaves, in search of a Mojito... with lots and lots of ice...]

Blagojevich: Do I have time to comb my hair?

Friday: Governor, John Edwards didn’t comb his hair for me...

[The Personal Assistant returns with the Governor’s Mojito. He tosses the straw away and drinks deeply...]

Blagojevich: [Gestures with his hair toward the Personal Assistant...] So are the two of you…?

Friday: Oh, Evie? Long story. Love your shirt, by the way.

Blagojevich: Tommy Bahama. My wife loves palm trees.

Friday: Would you like to run through my questions again? We still have time if...

Blagojevich: Nah!!! I’m fine!

Friday: Really? Okay.

[The Interviewer looks past the camera, toward his Line Producer...]

Friday (cont’d): Sharlene, we’re ready!

Sharlene: Sounds good. Alright people! Let’s roll! IN FIVE... IN FOUR... THREE...

[The Producer counts down the last two seconds with the fingers on her right hand. She points to the Interviewer, indicating ACTION!]

Friday: Governor Rod Blagojevich, thank you for sitting down with me today...

Blagojevich: Not a problem, Bill. Not a problem. Hey, is this really gonna to be your first segment on the Webshow?

Friday: That’s the idea.

Blagojevich: Outstanding!

[The Subject takes another long drink from his Mojito. The ice rattles in the bottom of the glass.]

Friday: So Governor, why the Cayman Islands?

Blagojevich: Again, I have to credit my wife. You know she’s had a lot of free time lately, so she suggested we hop on a plane and check out the withdrawal capacity of the ATMs in the beautiful Cayman Islands. Also, with the outcome of that Kangaroo Court back in Springfield still up in the air, we both thought it was a good time to redeem our remaining frequent flyer miles, ya know… just in case. We’re even meeting Diane Sawyer later for cocktails. If you’d like to stay, she mentioned that she needs a plus-one for dinner.

[The Subject leans close to Friday]

Blagojevich: (cont’d) If you ask me, I think Greenspan is about to kick. The two of you would make quite a power couple in D.C.

Friday: Isn’t Greenspan married to Andrea Mitchell? [Toward off camera.] Evie, could you get the Governor another Mojito? Speaking of Diane Sawyer Governor, in the week leading up to your hearing, you appeared on no fewer than 10 television interviews over the course of 3 days – in each of them, you maintained your seemed to skirt the issue of your guilt…

Blagojevich: [Interrupting] Alleged guilt.

Friday: Fair enough – alleged guilt.

[The Assistant returns with the next Mojito.]

Evie: Your Mojito Governor.

Blagojevich: That’s not necessa...

Friday: Oh, I insist.

Blagojevich: Wellp... [Shrugs] okaaay.

[Again the Subject tosses the straw, and downs his Mojito in one, long series of gulps.]
Friday: So Governor, before the cameras started rolling, you told me...

Blagojevich: [Startled] Cameras? Where are the cameras?

Friday: They’re everywhere, Governor.

[The Subject takes a handkerchief from the pocket of his Tommy Bahama shirt and carefully wipes the sweat underneath the hair on his forehead.]

Friday (cont’d): So... how long have you enjoyed poetry?

[The Subject’s eyes light up at the word.]

Blagojevich: You know I consider myself a lifelong student of poetry?

Friday: Really?

Blagojevich: In particular, I enjoy the political romance poetry of a man named Dean Walker.

Friday: [Toward off camera.] Evie! I think I could use one too.

[The Assistant smiles a slow, knowing smile at the Interviewer as she leaves the set.]

Friday (cont'd): Sir, just last week, the Illinois State Legislature voted unanimously to impeach you. Yet during the proceedings, you chose not to testify on your own behalf. Why was that?

Blagojevich: [Rattling the ice in the bottom of the glass] Didn’t need to. I prefer to share my testimony here with you.

Friday: This isn’t a court of law.

Blagojevich: It’s better! This is the court of public opinion! If my own State Legislature won’t let me tell the facts of this case as I want them to be told, then f*** em! [Content edited for transcript.]. F*** em all! I’ll just call witnesses here!

[Friday looks around... leans forward.]

Friday: What witnesses?

Blagojevich: [Leans forward... winks.] They’re everywhere Bill.

[The Assistant returns with the Interviewer’s Mojito.]

Blagojevich (cont’d): Hey, can I get another one of those?

Friday: Uhh... here. Take mine.

[The Subject runs the glass along his hair-obscured brow. He then cradles the drink in both hands as he fumbles with the straw. Finally, he sucks the drink through the straw, finishing his latest Mojito in a long, ice-rattling finish.]

Blagojevich: Ahhh! They just don’t make these like this where I come from. Should it be getting warmer? Are you warm? I’m warm. It’s getting warm. Bill, are you warm?

Friday: On a lighter note, last week the sale of the Chicago Cubs, to lifelong Cubs fan Tom Ricketts, was approved by Major League Baseball. Most Cubs fans seemed to have wanted the team to go to multi-billionaire Mark Cuban instead. What happened?

Blagojevich: I guess Cuban didn’t realize what it takes to play ball in the State of Illinois. A guy with that kind of money should understand what it takes.

Friday: Are you saying...?

Blagojevich: What I’m saying is, for a lousy couple of mil, his chances to buy the Cubs would have been f***ing golden. If Cuban didn’t understand that, then f*** him!

[The Subject leans forward in his chair, resting his head in his hands.]

Friday: Governor, are you alright? Do we need to stop?

Blagojevich: Hmmm? Oh, I’m good. I’m good... [Drifting.] I’m very good...

[Long pause.]

Blagojevich (cont'd): Bill, can I read you a poem? I found it on-line. I believe it sums up the political climate in this great country of ours. I believe... believe... Bill, what is it I believe?

Friday: You believe in poetry Governor.

Blagojevich: In poetry. In a poem that is more timely today, than it was on the day it was written...

[The Subject pulls a folded cocktail napkin from the same shirt pocket.]

Blagojevich (cont’d): May I, Bill?

Friday: By all means, go ahead.

[He tips the near-empty drink up, and lets a cube of ice tumble into his mouth. He crunches the ice cube as he gazes into the sweating glass.]

Blagojevich: [Slurring his words.] What kind of Ho-me-toe... Toe-me-toe... Ho-me-moe... This shuuure is grrrreat ice! What kind of ice is this?

Friday: The special kind, Governor. The special kind. Governor…?

Blagojevich: Hmmm?

Friday: Would you like to read that poem now?

Blagojevich: I would, but I can’t feel face... or my legs…

[The Subject falls from his chair, onto the plush carpeting of the terrace.]

Friday: Looks like he’s all yours boys!

[From off-camera four large men, dressed in camouflage fatigues and wearing red berets, approach the Subject. The bind his hands and feet with large, plastic cable ties, and raise him to his feet. As they do this, another man – wearing a black suit and tie and black aviator sunglasses – approaches the Interviewer.]

Man in Black: Mr. Friday...

Friday: Good to see you again, J.

Man in Black: I see you were able to acquire the Package?

Friday: I almost feel guilty for collecting my usual fee. This was a lot easier than I thought it would be.

Man in Black: The Agency will be happy to pay it nonetheless. We've been trying to bag this one for the last couple of weeks. Kept himself in the public eye the whole time, until now. The extradition is done. Gitmo is waiting. And you sir are a great American.

Friday: As you keep reminding me. And I thought Gitmo was closing. [The Interviewer pauses.] I don’t suppose I’ll be allowed to use this for the Webshow?

Man in Black: [Scoffs.] As for Gitmo, you just keep reporting that. As for the interview, don't worry about that either. We'll be taking everything... again. [Laughs.] Just like your interview with Art Bell.

Friday: Funny. It’s always funny with you people. You’re a million laughs.

[Evie walks onto the set, and stands next to a great American.]

Man in Black: We let you keep her, didn’t we?

Friday: That was The Vatican.

Man in Black: Tomato - tomahto. [To the Berets] Let’s get this one back to the States.
Blagojevich: But what about my poem!!!?

[The Berets drag the Subject away.]

Blagojevich (cont’d): My poem!!! My... Ahhhghhh!!!

Friday: What about his wife?

Man in Black: Witness protection.

Friday: And me?

Man in Black: It might be best if you and Evie stayed here for a while.

[The assistant looks at the Interviewer and smiles.]

Friday: The things I do for my country.

Copyright © 2009 Bill Friday