Mad Magazine Is Shutting Down (UPDATED)

I just heard from a friend of mine who is in a Facebook group with a MAD writer that, after the next two issues, MAD will no longer be publishing original material.  Instead, it’ll publish reprinted material until it’s subscription responsibilities are fulfilled and then the magazine will cease publication.

Obviously, MAD isn’t the cultural force that it once was but it’s still an American institution.  In a time when even having a sense of humor can be a subversive act, MAD will be missed.

UPDATE: According to the representatives from DC, after the next two issues, MAD will cease publishing regular material and will instead by publishing reprinted material, as stated above.  However, the reprint issues will have new art commissioned for the covers and the special year-end issue will have original material.

Lee Iacocca For President?

The 1988 Presidential election was the first one that Joe Biden attempted to run in.  He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nominee for three months before he was caught plagiarizing Neil Kinnock and Bobby Kennedy and lying about his academic performance.  Biden subsequently dropped out of the race.

1988 was also the first election in which Donald Trump tested his viability as a presidential candidate.  He spent $94,801 (roughly $200,000 today) on advertisements calling for America to stay out of Central America, control spending, and negotiate with the Soviet Union on nuclear disarmament.  John F. Kerry was so impressed that he tried to talk Trump into switching parties.

Trump wasn’t the only businessman to flirt with a run in 1988.  Lee Iacocca, the president and CEO of Chrysler, was also a frequently mentioned Democratic candidate.  In the 1980s, Iacocca was all over television with commercials like these two:

You can see why some Democrats loved the idea of the guy running.  He was a businessman who came across like a plain-spoken, common Joe (to borrow a phrase from Joe Biden).  That he was a successful CEO would presumably counter the Democrats’s anti-business reputation.  At a time when Japan and Germany were openly mocking American workers, Iacocca said that American workers were capable of anything they put their mind to.

Lee Iacocca was serious enough about running for President that he wrote a campaign book, Talking Straight:

Talking Straight laid out Iacocca’s vague vision for what America had to do to be, to borrow another phrase, “great again.”  It’s platform was pro-business and socially liberal, the type of policies that would bring Bill Clinton to the White House in 1992 and keep him there in 1996.  Iacocca also said that he would create a cabinet-level Department of Communications and Tom Brokaw would be put in charge of it.

Ultimately, Iacocca didn’t run for President, though he came close to taking the plunge.  He was talked out of it by former House Speaker Tip O’Neill.  O’Neill said that there was no way that a TV personality with no elective experience would ever be President.

Iacocca would have one final chance to enter politics.  In 1991, Pennsylvania’s Governor Bob Casey (who would, himself, come close to running for President in 1996) offered to appoint Iacocca to the U.S. Senate.  Iacoccoa turned Casey down.  Instead, a respected but little-known academic named Harris Wofford was appointed to the seat.  Wofford was subsequently elected, in an upset victory, to a full term.  Wofford’s victory was an early sign that voters were dissatisfied with the Republican Party and it helped to convince a little-known governor of Arkansas to jump into the 1992 presidential race.  In fact, Bill Clinton was so impressed with Wofford’s campaign that he hired his campaign managers, Paul Begala and James Carville.  In the Senate, Wofford would go on to become of the first advocates for universal health care, an advocacy that would lead to Wofford losing his seat in 1994 but also to what eventually became Obamacare in 2009.  It can be argued that, by turning down that Senate seat, Lee Iacocca changed the course of American history.

Iacocca retired from Chrysler in 1992 and was a forgotten figure for several years.  He was brought back as the corporate spokesman in 2005 but he seemed out of place doing commercials for Snoop Dogg.

Lee Iacocca died yesterday, due to complications for Parkinson’s Disease.  He was 94 years old.

I’m Watching Metropolis on TCM

I’m watching Metropolis on TCM and it’s bringing back a lot of memories for me.

Metropolis was one of the first films that I ever fell in love with.  When I was growing, my parents owned a copy of Metropolis on VHS and I used to watch that tape over and over again.  The version that they owned was the 1984 restoration that was overseen by Giorgio Moroder and which featured an extremely 80s soundtrack.  I think the main reason they bought the movie was for the music but, even at a young age, I was obsessed with the look of the film: the high-rise towers, the underground machines, and Rotwang bringing the robot version of Maria to life in his laboratory.  Those images sparked my imagination.

When I was 12 or 13, I decided that I wanted to write comic books for a living.  I knew that I couldn’t draw but I figured it would be easy enough to plot and script 12 issues a year.  Hoping to become the youngest writer ever hired by Marvel comics, I even wrote a X-Men spec script in which Rogue got sucked into a time portal and ended up in the city of Metropolis and assumed the role of Maria.  It was a pretty bad script and I’m glad that I didn’t actually do anything crazy like try to send it to Marvel but I still had a great time writing it and imagining what would happen if I sold it.  I don’t know where that script is now but I think about it whenever I watch Metropolis.  

The last time I was in Baltimore, I asked my mother if she still had that old VHS copy of Giorgio Moroder Presents Metropolis.  It took her a while to remember what I was talking about and, once she did, she told me she wasn’t sure what had happened to it.  Over the years, it probably got misplaced.  For all I know, it might be sitting on a shelf in a Goodwill somewhere.

I just checked with Amazon and discovered that the Moroder version has been released on Blu-ray.  I’ll be ordering it as soon as I finish watching the original on TCM.


My First Post (and it’s only 4 years late)

This is a blog.  There are many like it but this one is mine.

Seeing as how I’ve had this site for four years now, I figured that I might as well finally do something with it.  I’m old enough that I can still remember when blogging was a big deal.  Today, of course, everyone’s on twitter or Instagram or they’ve got a podcast.  Kids today, man.  They’ve got no idea how excited we all were back in 2003 when we realized that literally anyone could start a site and share their thoughts with strangers.

The blog will deal with whatever I feel like talking about at the time.  There will probably be a lot of thoughts on politics, music, and movies.  I’ll be surprised if anyone other than my family and a few friends ever bothers to read it but that’s okay.  This is mostly just a place for me to vent and express myself.  Plus, my attempts to predict political and cultural trends have been proven to be incorrect 98% of the time.

Yes, Jedadiah Leland is a pen name.  My real name is Jeff.  Citizen Kane has always been my favorite movie and Jedediah Leland (played by Joseph Cotten) is my favorite character.  I also review movies, games, books, and music over at Through the Shattered Lens, where I’m fortunate enough to work with a host of other talented writers.

I’ll try to keep this site interesting and, considering the times in which we’re living, I’ll only have myself to blame if I fail.  I’ll also follow back anyone who chooses to follow this blog.

And now, Pop Politics is live.