Michael Calleri was, until recently, the film critic for the Niagara Falls Reporter. Last week, Roger Ebert published an eye-opening article that Calleri penned, explaining why his association with the Reporter had recently ended.
As recently as five years ago, the Reporter was not just a well-respected paper, but one that outperformed the Niagara Gazette in exposing crime, graft, and scandal in the Niagara Frontier. The paper underwent a deep change in 2008 as it began becoming the story, rather than reporting stories. Its publisher was pushed out and at least one reporter – Dave Staba – left and the entire operation became clouded in accusations and countercharges of journalistic and financial irresponsibility. That descent was further exacerbated by its founding editor’s alcoholism; he has since moved to California, gone to rehab, and rediscovered the joy of music.
The Reporter‘s transformation from a must-read into a trainwreck was completed when a new publisher acquired it a few years ago. Frank Parlato is no stranger to western New York political writing, nor to scandal. Former Buffalo-area columnist for the Buffalo Beat/Blue Dog and AltPress, Dick Kern, wrote numerous columns accusing Parlato of having run a massive house-flipping operation on Buffalo’s east side. Kern alleged that Parlato would buy dilapidated homes, make minor cosmetic improvements, engage in a bait-and-switch to a worse home, find lenders, and the new homeowners would be stuck with homes in need of serious repairs that they could ill afford.
Parlato, Illuzzi, Tony Farina, and Glenn Gramigna were like the four nebbishy horsemen of paid advertorial phony journalism in the late 90s and early aughts, and they’re still at it. Illuzzi’s dead, but the other three are still, to this day, writing for each other’s various ventures. More often than not, they’re merely parroting others’ talking points, acting as useful idiots for different politicians’ agendas. Parlato, however, has become the story in Niagara Falls with his constant antagonism with the state, city, and Seneca Nation over his recent ownership and operation of the depressing “One Niagara” flashcube building near the Rainbow Bridge; Hooker/Oxy’s former local offices. He ran into trouble with taxes, and then complained that he was being treated differently than the tax-free Senecas. He wasn’t holding the tax money in escrow in order to make a legal point; he just paid them whenever he felt like it.
Parlato’s opaque real estate experience aside, he now publishes and “edits” a weekly newspaper. In the short time Parlato has run the Niagara Falls Reporter, it has accelerated its descent into irrelevance; a shadow of its former muckracking self. For his part, Parlato holds archaic, shocking opinions about women in contemporary American society. To call it misogyny isn’t strong enough; it’s gynophobia. Calleri’s article highlights Parlato’s gynophobia, goes into some detail about Reporter founder Mike Hudson’s west coast whereabouts, and the paper’s slow devolution into an outlet for a group of people with money and hateful agendas.
Back in July, the Reporter made national news by publishing what amounted to hate speech by its “sports columnist” Lenny Palumbo.
I wrote about that episode here, and explained that, “[t]he ways in which the passage above is offensive are many, but to suggest that gays are not manly, or are emasculated; and to contrast the desirability of fighting versus homosexuality are idiotic and ignorant. Chances are, there are plenty of gay guys who could beat the living crap out of the author, so I fail to see the validity of the argument.“
“Since that paper got a new publisher with a regressive attitude towards women and who expounds on “manliness”, this sort of thing is to be expected.“
Expected, indeed. Calleri’s article details that Parlato began censoring his movie reviews; removing some, refusing to post new ones. Parlato explained why in a shocking email to Calleri (all [sic]).
Michael; I know you are committed to writing your reviews, and put a lot of effort into them. it is important for you to have the right publisher. i may not be it. i have a deep moral objection to publishing reviews of films that offend me. snow white and the huntsman is such a film. when my boys were young i would never have allowed them to go to such a film for i believe it would injure their developing manhood. if i would not let my own sons see it, why would i want to publish anything about it?
snow white and the huntsman is trash. moral garbage. a lot of fuzzy feminist thinking and pandering to creepy hollywood mores produced by metrosexual imbeciles.
I don’t want to publish reviews of films where women are alpha and men are beta.
where women are heroes and villains and men are just lesser versions or shadows of females.
i believe in manliness.
not even on the web would i want to attach my name to snow white and the huntsman except to deconstruct its moral rot and its appeal to unmanly perfidious creeps.
i’m not sure what headhunter has to offer either but of what I read about it it sounds kind of creepy and morally repugnant.
with all the publications in the world who glorify what i find offensive, it should not be hard for you to publish your reviews with any number of these.
they seem to like critiques from an artistic standpoint without a word about the moral turpitude seeping into the consciousness of young people who go to watch such things as snow white and get indoctrinated to the hollywood agenda of glorifying degenerate power women and promoting as natural the weakling, hyena -like men, cum eunuchs.
the male as lesser in courage strength and power than the female.
it may be ok for some but it is not my kind of manliness.
If you care to write reviews where men act like good strong men and have a heroic inspiring influence on young people to build up their character (if there are such movies being made) i will be glad to publish these.
i am not interested in supporting the reversing of traditional gender roles.
i don’t want to associate the Niagara Falls Reporter with the trash of Hollywood and their ilk.
it is my opinion that hollywood has robbed america of its manliness and made us a nation of eunuchs who lacking all manliness welcome in the coming police state.
now i realize that you have a relationship with the studios etc. and i would have been glad to have discussed this in person with you to help you segue into another relationship with a publication but inasmuch as we spent 50 minutes on the phone from paris i did not want to take up more of your time.
In short i don’t care to publish reviews of films that offend me.
if you care to condemn the filmmakers as the pandering weasels that they are…. true hyenas.
i would be interested in that….
Weird. Weirder still is that it’s an email that a newspaper publisher in western New York wrote to his film critic. But all the talk of eunuchs, weasels, hyena-men – “manliness“. That’s the central theme. Do you spend a whole lot of time worrying about your “manliness” or anyone else’s “manliness”? I don’t much consider whether society is friendly or antagonistic to “manliness”, and I’m not at all threatened by females or feminism.
Not so, Parlato. In fact, demanding that females be subservient to man is his very ethos.
A few years ago, I first became aware of a Parlato-run site called “Manmaking.com“. It went away for a time, but it’s back online now, with a bizarre image:
Click to enlarge
I have no idea what that’s supposed to mean.
But if you go into Archive.org’s waybackmachine, you can find what Parlato’s “Manmaking” site is really about. Parlato is a follower of a turn-of-the-last-century guru named Swami Vivekananda, who apparently wrote much about “manliness“, and who practiced a form of celibacy known as “brahmacharya“. This practice doesn’t just demand abstinence from sexual contact or activity; it more specifically prohibits any voluntary release of semen. Through mental discipline, the adherent is supposed to reach a state whereby he loses all sexual desire, and keeping his semen inside him is supposed to make him more spiritual or holy or some such nonsense.
Like his hero Vivekananda, Parlato has a “condescending” “contempt” for contemporary women. Whereas the Swami was upset at Hindu women’s lack of independence, Parlato has more specifically adopted the “ideal of the de-eroticized woman as a mother figure and [condemns] the sexual female as an ogre and an exteriorizing and fettering element – an impediment to the realization of the divine.”
On the front page of the former Manmaking.com is the following introductory passage (all [sic]):
Are you unmanly, cowardly, weak? This site may help you to be strong, to preserve the manly fire within, to look upward, to hold your breath, and gain strength, to go out into the world with absolute courage, to shut off that filthy television set which promotes effiminate behavior, to stop looking inordinately at the body of woman with greedy, weak and sickening lustful eyes and be a man, a giver of strength to one and all. Be chaste and come and rule nature, inner and outer.
Are you depressed, lacking in vigor, failing to succeed? Then stop your filthy habits at once. Stop groveling at the feet of woman. Banish this weakness of the knees. A brave man never bends the knees. Be celibate. Be chaste, and you’ll never be weak.
Parlato has a big problem with popular culture and the way in which it promotes “coward-dog” behavior over the “manly”. Here, Parlato compared song lyrics for their relative manliness. Some of the worst songs include “Honky Tonk Woman” by the Rolling Stones, James Brown’s “Sex Machine”, and especially the Kinks’ “Lola”. Parlato reprints some of the lyrics and then intersperses them with his own commentary. For instance,
In 1996, he did a similar “analysis” of Green Day lyrics in the pages of the Buffalo News. By contrast, decent lyrics include “Jingle Jangle Jingle” (the protagonist likes being single), “I Love You” by Cole Porter, “Volare” by Domenico Modugno, and a few songs by the Beatles and Elton John. The manliest man lyrics, however, include “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on my Head”, and that’s it. B.J. Thomas’ 1970 hit is the manliest song in existence because the protagonist won’t cry or something.
What is a man? The website merely contains two Schopenhauer quotes; one about women, one about fatherhood. On the issue of brahmacharya, Parlato explains why the voluntary release of seminal fluid is bad:
Continence is the essence of spiritual life. ‘Of all austerities, the practice of continence is supreme. He who practices it is verily a god, not a man.’ The illumined knowledge of Brahman comes naturally to a person who practices continence for thirty-two years. He who wastes this energy falls from the spiritual path and becomes dissipated.
A walk through the anachronistic depravity of Parlato’s manmaking site reveals why he rejected Calleri’s review of “Snow White and the Huntsman”. Women are to be subservient and controlled by men. Parlato rejects any notion of a strong female who isn’t controlled and “beta” to her “alpha” male. Permitting women to exercise their rights, their brains, and their individuality isn’t “courageous” or “manly”. The “hyena” reference in Parlato’s email to Calleri? Manmaking.com explains what that means. Following this link, Parlato tried to use animals at the Buffalo Zoo to construct a metaphor for his thinking. Parlato was impressed by the lions’ patriarchy:
So little time has passed when men were pridefully compared to lions. But what the eviscerators failed to note as they came mincingly to our town, and to our nation and told how we are diminished, our manly strength of little purpose, our values: to be less of courage, than lust, the metro-sexual’s effeminate ideal: to trade dignity and freedom for safety and comfort – as they tried to tame the wild, there is a place beyond where it cannot be so. Where it is never so: There is a home for heroes.
In answer to the lioness’s last stupendous roar, he but looked it seemed to the tip of his nose. This was after all a lion. Then he dropped his voice a full octave lower than her last and roared a lion’s roar that shook the night. Easily too it overwhelmed all the other roars before it and broke the stillness as if it was a bombshell exploding. The sound rustled through the trees, out into to the tame, and urban landscape — orderly, effete, dissipated — and called, “remember me? Remember?
At the Buffalo zoo at dusk, a lion roared lower and loudest, beyond what any lioness could have equaled.
And if it were the silent night, in places where lions run free, it would have echoed across the windswept veldt, down the rushing river, to be carried to the sea where all things merge. It would have been known to the wild: a lion is on the move tonight.
Nothing complete until the king had spoken, the lioness seemed satisfied with his final roar. She was now silence, herself. There was no more roaring – as if he had given the final satisfactory answer.
But the Hyenas – they are ruled by the females:
Earlier that day, I had seen hyenas in a pen where females rule. With final yelp they nip their weaker mates and bloody them. In the kingdom of the lion, there is no yelping. Nor does he tremble at noises.
In the silence, below the clouds, obscured by darkness, obscuring the silver, lonely stars, and obscured in turn by leaves of trees, whether maple or the banyan, spreading branches blended into night, satisfied, I turned to go.
Each is great unto himself, no doubt, yet to me, it is the lion. Never hyenas. Although gathering in packs around us, remember, it takes but one lion to stave them all off.
I shall meditate on the lion’s heart tonight.
Pro forma: Parlato is free, of course, to believe whatever he wants. Absent physical or mental abuse, he is free to think whatever he wants of women and feminism, however archaic or offensive. Indeed, he is free to run his newspaper however he wants and to print whatever he wants in there. Certainly the Constitution prohibits the government from in any way interfering with what he prints, but the community in western New York should know who’s printing what “news” in the Niagara Falls Reporter. His conceit is so strong, he runs a website called “Journalism101”, consisting mostly of paid full-page advertisements he took out in the Reporter to advance his agendas before he bought the paper outright.
Parlato has completely taken over the Reporter, and has even begun printing certain Vivekananda writings each week. His latest issue prints some hateful non-sequitur about Lady Gaga, complete with made-up “quotes” from the singer, and the author’s fixation on semen. It should hardly come as a surprise that Parlato’s cover story last week included interviews with three crack-addicted prostitutes – women who are mentally and physically dependent on substances; on men. Women who are at the lowest societal rung where, as Parlato believes, they belong.
Within Ebert’s article’s comments section, Parlato (apparently) assails Calleri:
I don’t know what any of this has to do with running a newspaper or journalism. It seems to me to be proselytization, using the Reporter‘s former good name and reputation as cover. Calleri’s revelations about Parlato and the Reporter may come as a shock to some. Unfortunately, Parlato’s gynophobia is nothing new, and deeply ingrained in his belief system. Now that he owns a newspaper, look forward to seeing him use it to proselytize against women, feminism, and “cowardly” “dog” men. He’s already begun.