Friday, December 7, 2012

Roseannearchy: Dispatches From The Nut Farm

This book is what would be an UPDATED biography from the now former "domestic goddess" of television to a farmer of macadamia nuts. From the original Real Housewife herself that set a precedence in Pop Culture, here is the story from the one & only herself, Roseanne Barr.

The first thing to amaze me in this book was the foreword written by Roseanne's first ex-husband, Bill Pentland. He starts w/ a mini-bio of his life w/ Roseanne to their lives as what would be seen on-screen in the series 'Roseanne'. (Roseanne's sister, Geraldine, would provide the basis for the character of Jackie and her love/hate relationship w/ Dan.) Roseanne would weave real details, stories, features, etc. from actual people she knew into stories of the "Connor family". The reason 'Roseanne' prevailed is because Roseanne Connor was Roseanne Barr.

One thing Roseanne points out is how the portrayal of her hometown of Utah was shown in the series 'Big Love'. It took her back to times when her little brother experienced homophobia and a 9 times broken nose. Much to his Mormon classmates. Roseanne's own grandmother migrated to the U.S. after being accepted to a music school. She encourage Roseanne to sing, dance, tell jokes & "perform". Her family loved it. Roseanne looked at show business as a way out of Salt Lake City.

Roseanne loved to watch Shirley Temple on TV and she idolized her. At the age of 6, Roseanne's parents moved closer to the Mormon culture and Roseanne loved it. Because there was ALOT of singing & dancing in it. Whenever Roseanne played w/ the neighborhood girls, Roseanne liked to play the part of someone in charge (Ex. - if they played school - she was the teacher, if they played hospital - she was a nurse. She was never student or patient).

At the age of 8, Roseanne began to sing ALOT to James Brown records, who began to replace Shirley Temple as her idol. Even though Roseanne thought she was a good singer & dancer, what really was her talent was being funny. Because she was the oldest daughter, Roseanne's mother put her in charge and to pick up the slack waiting for her dad to get home.

As a preteen girl, Roseanne wanted to dress as a twin to her Grandmother Bubbe Mary because she loved her clothes. Roseanne's other Grandmother Fanny was a role model for her and was the perfect antidote for the uptight, repressed, tradition bound woman she seen everywhere in Utah in the 1950s & '60s. Roseanne, at times, wished she was a boy due to never wanting to be a woman like her own mother. The type of woman who eats up what a guy says to her. She would feel bad for the man that always fall into the pretty trap in woman.

Roseanne was really upset when at age 12, her dream at stardom was happening in her face when her cousin, Debbie, a year older than her, was cast in a television commercial. It was from then on that Roseanne would undo the patriarchal system that "pretty means skinny". She was determined not to accept the status quo. She tells that 'A Tale Of Two Cities' is her favorite book w/ the first line of it her favorite part due to how moving it is and how the story was so perfectly told.

Because of her brilliance, the pinnacle of female power and sinister wisdom, the example that she is and leads is why Roseanne admires and respects CNN's Nancy Grace (As I personally do as well). In the 1970s, Roseanne's two sisters, Pearlie & Geraldine, went to live w/ their sister and her husband, Bill. They couldn't stand Salt Lake City anymore and they helped Roseanne w/ child care. Roseanne was able to get work as a cocktail waitress and a window dresser for a women's clothing store. While working as a cocktail waitress, one of Roseanne's customers, who thought she was funny, suggested that Roseanne try her and at comedy at a club that recently opened. As soon as Roseanne hears of it, she began to write a 5 minute act.

Roseanne stand-up
Roseanne signed up for open-mic night and killed. Her jokes didn't go over so well to a male audience, so Geraldine suggested for Roseanne to go w/ her to a Woman-to-Woman Book Center where Geraldine hung out. Those women loved her act. That led to more gigs. With all of the load that she carried at home and elsewhere, Roseanne was living too many lives, so she gave up the cocktail waitressing due to her additional waistline. Her weight gain made for her jokes to be funnier. After everyone else was fired from the bookstore, due to lesbian separatists running them out, Roseanne got to stay because they all loved Geraldine. Things could be fun and at times tense. The group was becoming a woman's movement. "Womanism" was what mattered most due to years of inner & outer struggle. Roseanne feels she's done her part & she's continuing to do so by voicing these truths at top volume.

Roseanne on Johnny Carson
In 1986, Roseanne stated something on 'The Tonight Show w/ Johnny Carson' that got a powerful woman in television, Marcy Carsey, interested in selling a show for her. The story was of a woman who lost her union job at a plastics factory, took a series of minimum wage jobs, opened & lost two businesses and her husband. At her lowest point, she begins to write about a woman who wins the lottery, buys the town's plastic factory and gives it to the townspeople. Sound familiar?

Roseanne then goes off on hilarious rants concerning certain subjects. From weight, to sex, to men, drugs, menopause and more. What's ALWAYS at the bottom of every rant?  A BIT OF TRUTH!! Roseanne recalls body issues at age 12, like other young ladies, gym class and showers. That certain event caused her to hate her mom, school, society & herself. Gym class made Roseanne a hater, as does everyone who has to endure it.

Roseanne talks openly & HONESTLY about the subculture on sex. It used to be a "hush hush" topic. Now it's ALWAYS the "word vomit" of conversation nowadays. The 90s were a decade that really changed Roseanne's life. She went from being a working class woman to being a multi-millionaire who played a working class woman. Roseanne gives/tells old stories about her former cast-mates from the series 'Roseanne'. She updates us in this book on cast-members. The shocker to me was reading about the death of Glenn Quinn, who played Roseanne's son-in-law, Mark Healy, who was taken by a drug overdose.

That was one thing and still to this day what I LOVED about the sitcom 'Roseanne'. While every other sitcom of the '90s had "rich people problems" or they had kids who were ungrateful for what they had having it made, Roseanne & Dan Connor raised and taught their children to be grateful. They were ones who GENUINELY worked for what they had and were GRATEFUL for it and it wasn't just handed to them on a silver platter like every other sitcom did w/ their children. Personally for me, that was one reason why I LOVED 'Roseanne', it was the one sitcom of my upbringing that I can fit in and relate to!

Roseanne and Ben Thomas
The pinnacle of Roseanne's childhood show-business dreams came at a chance for her and Geraldine to meet the ICONIC & LEGENDARY Sammy Davis, Jr. As well as other LEGENDARY GIANTS such as: Johnny Carson, Rodney Dangerfield, Phyllis Diller, Carol Burnett and so many others. When Roseanne had basically forced her third husband, Ben Thomas, to marry her on her now debunked talk show, it basically destroyed her marriage. Roseanne's youngest daughter, Jenny, was the first of her children to get married; marrying her brother's best friend from high school. Giving Roseanne four grandsons. She talks openly about the differential types of relationships in all of her children's lives, from her oldest, Jake, to her, at the time, teenage son, Buck.

Talk Show Roseanne
When Roseanne ended after 9 years, it was really tough for her. Roseanne was offered a 10TH season by ABC, but only if she took a pay cut. The next step in her career post 'Roseanne' was to interview people. The first interview she wanted and got was one w/ boxer Mike Tyson. Hanging out w/ him, Roseanne got to see the REAL Mike. Already being used to being hated in crowds, Roseanne received it again the night she showed support for Mike when he bit Holyfield's ear.

Roseanne reveals that she was there the night Tupac Shakur was shot after the fights. Roseanne tells of stories Tupac when he was a guest on her later night talk show. Because of the interview w/ Mike Tyson, Roseanne was offered her own talk show. Network execs were not happy w/ the ratings so it was replaced. It did and still does depress her at times. After that, Roseanne was cut from a David Spade film, Joe Dirt, playing his mom. The only person that Roseanne has ever met in Hollywood and would tell the truth about it was the late Heath Ledger.

The time came when Roseanne had to face her own demons; an addiction to marijuana. Thanks to the treatment for her addiction and the money from the 'Roseanne' show, Roseanne was able to blissfully retire from showbiz and more - except for her family and more! Roseanne does bring up a dark themed but TRUE point: Why is it when someone dies, those that weren't heard of for yearstreated you like shit or, owed you money all of a sudden show up at a funeral for that person singing your praises? Why show up now after the fact? To me: that would be like cashing in. What's in it for you now?

At a club in Minnesota, Roseanne met someone who later created 'The Daily Show' and they introduced her to another comic, Tom Arnold. He complimented Roseanne on her act. He seemed like he was in awe of her  and his flattery was on-going. Roseanne loved it. She never had so much positive attention from a man. They began talking and found each other funny. Roseanne didn't find out until later about Tom's cocaine addiction. He was the first guy friend she had that evolved into a best friend. Roseanne listened to Tom confess about his exes and his cheating and them paying for everything. After awhile, Tom was with Roseanne. She thought she could save him from his troubles.

Roseanne bought jokes from Tom. Later on Roseanne, she encouraged him to move to Los Angeles and write on the sitcom. Roseanne's ENTIRE family did NOT want her to divorce first husband, Bill Pentland to marry Tom. They didn't like Tom AT ALL, so she stopped talking to her family. When Tom arranged for Roseanne to sing in front of people who loved her at a Padres game in San Diego. Roseanne thought it would be the best day of her life. She practiced and knew the words. Roseanne recounts what she had to live that day. Roseanne's kids were shaking and traumatized as they flew back home to LA. After the GIANT backlash, Roseanne wanted to apologize right away but was told it would ruin her credibility as a comic. During that time of INSANITY, Roseanne and her kids were guarded by armed policemen, whom she is, still to this day, thankful to!

During a press interview that Tom did to explain her remorse for the way she sang the National Anthem, Tom said he would handle everything. Tom said something during the interview that made Roseanne assess the whole basis of their relationship that made it a lie. The interview worked: for Tom. They relocated to where Tom grew up in Iowa. When they were away, it was the best & worst of times. When Roseanne went back to work, there was no change in ratings of the series.

Shortly after the National Anthem scandal, Roseanne started to feel as though she was waking up from a bad nightmare. after the fallout from the Anthem, Roseanne sought to pick up the pieces by writing jokes for the sitcom. Aside from comedy, Roseanne saw her comedy career & sitcom Fighting On Behalf Of Working Class Mothers.

When Roseanne tried repeated attempts to contact her own family about things happening in her childhood, her family became somewhat bitter that Roseanne was unhappy and angry. After a year of letter writing about these things and no response from her family, Roseanne went to 'People' Magazine accusing her father of incest and other abuse which they denied. Roseanne has tried to make amends w/ her family. She realized she made a poor & terribly conceived decision that caused ALOT of pain and shame for her family. After the Anthem incident, Roseanne became Tom's pet project. They then had a Jewish wedding. In the last part of their marriage, as throwing a bone to them, someone offered Tom to read for a new movie, True Lies w/ Jamie Lee Curtis. Due to Tom's constant jokes, Roseanne had low self-esteem. Thanks to that, Roseanne had gotten major surgery to undo a tribal ligation, following that with every major surgery of every kind. During True Lies, after Tom Arnold discussed plans for Governor, Roseanne planned for a divorce from Tom. Roseanne had reached a point in the marriage; she was a prop in someone else's marriage - a codependency.

Roseanne told Tom after evidence supported Tom's cheating on her. When Roseanne went to Tom's office, she WENT OFF IN A FIT w/ assistants trembling. Security and police escorted Roseanne off the studio and forced her to contain herself. When Roseanne got to the lot of the show, she enlisted help to remove Tom's things. Shockingly it was Roseanne who was escorted off the lot where she made her show.

To unleash her demons, Roseanne went on a trip to Paris. While in Paris, reclaiming her anonymity and more, Roseanne fell in love w/ her big, blonde, Finnish bodyguard, Ben Thomas, who had helped Roseanne w/ her ruse and escape. She asked him if he would be the father of baby #5. He said yes. Ben accompanied Roseanne around from Europe to the Mediterranean and around the world. Ben & Roseanne danced and partied their way through her divorce and soul revival. In Florence was where she dropped another bomb on Tom Arnold by pay phone telling him she's filing for divorce.

This time in Roseanne's life was kind of ironic. Around this time was the O.J. Simpson double murder trial, the same rabbi that married Tom & Roseanne, converted Tom to Jewish, bar mitzvahed Roseanne's son, married Tom to his new wife and Roseanne married  and got pregnant by the guy Tom hired to drive Roseanne around and protect her, Ben Thomas.

Roseanne & Buck  (15-yrs-old)
Roseanne's getting pregnant for Buck by in vetro wasn't easy. She was 43 and sterile. She was pregnant after the first try. This was during a Thanksgiving break from filming 'Roseanne'. At the most crucial fourth week of pregnancy, Ben, w/ a broken leg in a cast, was bedridden next to his wife. Once she was pregnant w/ Buck, Roseanne was ordered to avoid stress. She was carefully driven to the set of the show and she delivered her lines in a chair or on the couch. That was all now worth it for who, at the time of this book, is now a 15-yr-old boy named Buck.

Roseanne & Tony Bennett
Roseanne states she was good at life when it was a story told through fictional characters that she could make do and say what she wanted. Her real life was scary w/ no control over it. Coming from a strange situation, Roseanne was able to learn to relax and more all thanks to deep meditation. When Roseanne got to sing w/ Gladys Knight on her talk show, she decided later on to sing again. Taking criticism for singing again after practicing, Roseanne did get ALOT better. She got to sing w/ Tony Bennett for 4 presidents. She practically sings everyday now. Singing for the joy of it.

Roseanne stated that the best part, looking back, was the leg of the journey before fame & fortune. It was breaking out that was the best. Roseanne states one thing she TRULY believes about women. "Why aren't women more angry?" Their worlds are going to shit. Most people are unaware of realizing what's really going on? Those who may be drugged on pills are silenced. If you get pissed off more and let it out, those pills or what ever it may be won't be needed.

Since this book's publication, Roseanne did return to TV for a short while in her now-cancelled reality series that was seen on Lifetime called 'Roseanne's Nuts'. The show featured Roseanne, her boyfriend Johnny Argent and, her eldest son, Jake Pentland as they lived on Roseanne's macadamia nut farm..


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