At a time when rap music was being nearly universally castigated for its purveying of sordid lyrics and pro-madness messages, rapper Jam Master Jay stood out as a voice of moderation. Now he has been shot to death. The killing happened in a recording studio, of all places, in New York City. An investigation continues. Jam Master Jay is credited with bringing the sound of "turntable scratching," the movement of a record turntable by hand to make a small section of the recording play forward and backward, creating an interesting, repetitive sound. The New York Times says that a member of another rap group, Public Enemy, told the publication that the 37-year-old artist was on par with the Beatles for lovers of the musical genre. In many ways, Jam Master Jay was responsible for bringing rap out into the open and moving it to near-mainstream radio stations in some cities.
MELISSA GILBERT IN RURAL DRAMA AGAIN
Popular actress Melissa Gilbert, the president of the Screen Actors Guild has been tapped to star in a two-hour made-for-television movie to be called "Then Came Jones." She will star opposite actor Sean Patrick Flanery in an "old West" drama that will be aired on ABC. As reported in this column some time ago, Flanery's project will bring back to TV an "era of programming" that was the foundation of network television, from the days of "Gunsmoke" forward. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the director of the broadcast will be Kim Manners from "The X-Files." The role will mark Gilbert's first foray back into television since NBC's "Sweet Justice," in 1994. She first came to national prominence during his years in the cast of "Little House on the Prairie."
GEODESIC DOME CREATOR 'STAR' OF SHOW
Audiences in San Francisco are being treated to quite an experience, an actor portraying the controversial, fun-loving genius Dr. R. Buckminster Fuller. Ron Campbell is playing to rave reviews for his one-man show (always a type of production that requires great concentration from any actor). The two-hour play was written by D.W. Jacobs, who also directs it. During the various scenes, Campbell, as Fuller, talks to the audience in a series of "lectures" and then moves into other scenes. Fuller, famous for his self-supporting "geodesic" dome and myriad scientific projects under the name Dymaxion, is shown as far from a reclusive scientist, but an active, animated, "good guy" of the scientific world in the play.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE SEX PISTOLS
It has been 25 years since an avant garde irreverent British rock group called the Sex Pistols first hit the music world with its first album. More than the group's music, the title of the album sparked debate. It seems that was a slang British term for part of the male anatomy. But, in spite of the protestations of the conservative English music establishment -- which likely served as great, free publicity -- the album, according to published reports, shot to the top of the music charts. Everything about the album had been produced for shock value, from the cover to the content of the songs. By the way, it was Richard Branson and Virgin Records that helped distribute the group's first album.
POSTMISTRESS VOWS TO SAVE SLOGAN
During the past few years a wealthy Texan, retired chemical engineer Frank Williamson, has spent thousands of dollars printing posters that contain the phrase, "In God We Trust," on a red, white and blue background. He once gave one of the posters to the post office in Cut and Shoot, Texas. Eventually the postal service instructed the North Houston suburb's post office to take the poster down. Now, according to the Houston Chronicle, Postmistress Ida Miera is vowing to ignore the orders from Washington and leave the statement on her wall. Cut and Shoot would seem a great place to put up such a patriotic slogan, it was the tiny city in which the concept of the Lone Star State's flag was developed. Meanwhile, postal authorities continue to claim that the sign does not "fit within postal guidelines."
FORMER CEO'S RETIREMENT INCOME A WHOPPER
Court records show that even after John F. Welch Jr. left the post of CEO at General Electric, he continues to be handsomely rewarded for his services. The Wall Street Journal says that information, which has come out during his divorce action, shows that he clears about $1.41 million a month, after taxes -- listing himself as "retired" and "self-employed." During his 20 years at GE, he earned a reputation as one of the country's most respected CEOs and helped widen the scope of the company, bringing it from strength to strength on Wall Street. Now he serves as one of the best examples of a successful former CEO who is living the high life. The publication says that he is also a generous soul, spending more than $50,000 a month on gifts for friends.
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 450
Today's question is inspired by being nearly knocked out by the "fragrances" coming from the air freshener and candle aisle at a local store: "What is your favorite and most-used fragrance of air freshener or 'aromatherapy' spray? Additionally, what smells would you like to see bottled?" Put AIR in the subject line and send to firstname.lastname@example.org via the Internet.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 445 (TRAVEL)
Last week we asked if you had your holiday travel plans shored up yet. From a random dip into the e-mailbox here are, by percentages, your replies:
Already have tickets and are ready to go ... 65 percent
Still shopping for lower fares ... 25 percent
Staying home this time around ... 10 percent.
NEXT: Your favorite stars. GBA