September 30, 2003
The Insiders' Insider
Not Reader Mail, but Representative Mail
As October approaches, we thought it fitting to do a "one year later" examination of the events leading up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in spring 2003. And what better lens through which to examine this than incriminating mail from elected representatives who signed off on the President's ability to pre-emptively go into the Middle East?Continue reading...
How we transgress now
According to the inimitable Choire Sicha at Gawker the merry pranksters at Vice have decided that the newest latest way to (pace, their Canadian roots) ˇpater le bourgeois is to do a fashion shoot featuring underage pregnant girls in "major label" clothing. How shocking! This could be their most attention-grabbing photo shoot since they did the exact same thing with mentally retarded adults earlier this year. What a coup.
Prediction time: by year's end, Vice will feature a gadget spread using amputees. Or, perhaps, a photo shoot "inspired by" (read: ripped off from) Romain Slocombe's City of Broken Dolls.
Yet another reason why MLB needs revenue sharing
Yes, it's painfully easy to rail against George Steinbrenner and his disdain for salary caps and smaller market baseball cities. But why should we exclusively scorn the Yankees' bossman?
It seems as though his uber-capitalist TV-revenue-seeking mindset has spread to his employees as well. Listen to NY's celebrated/overrated slugger Jason Giambi's pullquote contribution to a Washington Post article about the celebrated matchups in this particular baseball postseason:
Jason Giambi can see why there's so much enthusiasm.
"The teams that are in the postseason - the Cubbies always have great support. These playoffs should be great, a lot of TV viewers."
Maybe George's mouthpiece is anticipating a raise, what with all the exciting licensing revenue sure to come in this fall!
Unintentionally hilarious photo of the moment, Vol. 2
Following up on the post immediately below, meet one Joe M. Allbaugh, the former Director of FEMA. A predictably awful suggested headline may have been, "FEMA DECLARES HAIRLINE A FEDERAL DISASTER AREA", but that would have been tasteless. So instead, we'll simply let the image speak for itself, and lest you think we're picking on this poor chap in an unwarranted manner, take note of the following info snipped from the FEMA site:
"Mr. Allbaugh served as the National Campaign Manager for Bush-Cheney 2000 with responsibility and oversight for all activities related to the Bush election campaign. He had previously served as Campaign Manager for President Bush's first run for Texas governor."
See, the guy deserves it! Laugh away!
Overheard at a Bethesda Denny's
Joe M. Allbaugh: Damnit, man. Everyone and their mother is making money in Iraq and we're sitting here with our thumbs in our asses!
This is so easy
The World is Yours (for now)
As anyone who's ever watched an episide of Cribs knows, rappers love the rags-to-riches-to mountains of coke saga of Tony Montana. Heck, just this week mush-mouthed rapper and walking clay pigeon 50 Cent bought Mike Tyson's Montana-esque 18 bedroom mansion to live out his drug lord fantasies. Yep, rappers love Scarface! My question is, have any of them watched the film all the way to the end? The fall of the House of Montana (its foundation built on coke instead of sand) makes the Hammer Behind the Music seem positively uplifting.
Dummy on Board
"I saw this big SUV on my left, and the next thing I knew, he was trying to switch lanes, but we ended up colliding instead... He said: 'Didn't you see me? Why didn't you make room for me?" says Heidi Hong, the driver whose car he hit. "He seemed pretty angry, but there was no way it was my fault."
September 29, 2003
Super-spectacular unintentionally hilarious photo of the moment, vol. 1
The politics of spite
I don't want to know anything more than what the five-word headlines tell me about my White House's CIA leaks
What with the mini-hullabaloo about what may or may not be Karl Rove's pseudo-anonymous leak to Robert Novak in July about the positive identification of a CIA official (thereby violating federal law), the press is yet again in a flurry! A tizzy! Law-breaking administration officials -- scandal!
Well, rest assured this scandal will go the way of missing WMD's and budget deficits and under-funded education legislation. The President's press secretary, Scott McClellan, stated today that an investigation will ensue if the administration happens to come across any more information regarding the leaks. This information, of course, won't come from up on high, as this excerpted info indicates:
"Q (The President) does not know whether or not the classified information was divulged here, and he's only getting his information from the media?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, we don't know -- we don't have any information that's been brought to our attention beyond what we've seen in the media reports."
Well, if what Bush knows is confined to what appears in media coverage, it might help to take the President's news-gathering habits into account, as per last week's interview with Brit Hume from Fox News:
"HUME: How do you get your news?
BUSH: I get briefed by Andy Card and Condi in the morning. They come in and tell me...I glance at the headlines just to kind of a flavor for what's moving. I rarely read the stories, and get briefed by people who are probably read the news themselves."
How do you like those odds of there being an independent counsel to investigate this matter?
Step up to the plate, Jessica Simpson!
There has certainly been quite the spate of recent noteworthy deaths of late, and usually in pairs of sorts; 1940s anti-icons Edward Teller and Leni Riefenstahl; "entertainment johnnies" Cash and Ritter; and Ivy-League academic types George Plimpton and Edward Said (about whom you may want to read this surprisingly touching obit by the otherwise icy-demeanored Christopher Hitchens).
With the clock ticking as such, we'd like to wish 50 Cent and Nick Lachey's wife all the best!
I delivered George Plimpton a sandwich once. he was very polite
Following the death of Stanley Kubrick, we were treated to dozens of personal reminiscences by colleagues and acquaintances. At first, most were by close friends of the director, but after a little while, anyone with even the most tenuous connection to him got a dollar-a-word for their memories.
With the recent death of George Plimpton we can expect a repeat of this phenomenon. At first we'll get the Mailers, Taleses, and Remnicks of the lit world, but soon everyone who ever went to a Paris Review party or worked as an unpaid intern for the journal for two weeks before returning to Vassar will be speaking about their intimate journeys with George. That's the thing: every Ivy League graduate who ever wrote a poem or fancied himself a short story writer has gone to at least one Paris Review event or interviewed for a job there. Heck even people who met the guy one time are sharing their memories. Even the kid from the Intellevision commercial will probably have his say sooner or later.
September 26, 2003
New God of Sunshine
Since it opened in 2001, The Landmark Sunshine Theater has proved a nice addition to the city's downtown art house scene. Roomier than The Quad, better sound and sight lines than The Angelika (plus no rumbling subways), and with more widely-appealing selections than Film Forum, The Sunshine became the destination of choice to see stuff like Adaptation, Bowling for Columbine, and all your other required "indie" film texts.
Sadly, I can never go there again.
Why? It seems that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has just bought Landmark Cinemas. If Cuban (or "Cubes" as the perpetually frat-like superrich overgrown man boy likes to be called) isn't the most annoying zillionaire in America, he's damn near close. This is the guy who ran around like Richie Rich on a bender for the benefit of Esquire writer Mike Sager in April 2000's profile "Yeaahhhh Baabaabbyyy!" (Available to subscribers only.) (Quick highlight: "Cubes [is] wearing a T-shirt, upon which his girlfriend had scrawled, 'I want you to pin my legs back like a Safeway chicken.'") Just today, The New York Post quoted Cubes as saying, " "Every now and then I will catch myself and look around and just smile. Anyone who says it's a burden having this much money is a moron." Who's a moron, Cubes?
I'd rather sit in the coffin-like confines of the Angelika than give this guy another $10.
Mmmmm... Crab legs
It's official: Americans eat too fucking much. How fucking much? So fucking much that the C.O.O. of Red Lobster was let go because customers were ransacking the restaurant chain by getting seconds, thirds, and even fourths on the $22.95 "Endless Crab" dinner.
According to The New York Post, Darden Restaurants, Red Lobster's parent company, lost $3.3 million in first-quarter profits due to customers' bottomless stomachs. Luckily, Darden also owns The Olive Garden, home of bottomless pasta. (Incidentally, Darden also owns something called Smokey Bones; insert your own joke here.)
September 25, 2003
Building a Better Mousetrap
In this post-Inside.com world of media criticism, scoops are few and far between. Unless you're >Slate's ineffably muckraking media crit Jack Shafer!
Shafer, who lost the magazine's editorial stewardship to Jacob Weisberg when Michael Kinsley stepped down last year, has now posted two uber-niche media navelgazing pieces in consecutive weeks...starting with last week's ill-conceived, contrarian-for-contrarian's sake dismissal of "public" or "civil journalism" (which in and of itself isn't the obscenely I.F. Stone-centric idea that Shafer makes it out to be) and culminating with today's front-page featured article, The Rat of Baghdad - Who tattled on New York Times reporter John F. Burns to the Iraqi ministry of information?
Within, we get a sanctimonious dissection of one anonymous reporter's "outing" of the Times' John Burns and his criticism of Saddam Hussein to the tyrant himself. The issue? "(B)y performing his comparative literature review with the Iraqi ministry using Burns' copy, did the unnamed American correspondent end up taunting the ministry for allowing Burns to write so damagingly? Did the unnamed American correspondent's comparison draw an extra set of crosshairs on Burns' forehead and put him in even greater peril? Did the unnamed correspondent encourage the Iraqis to further play one foreign correspondent off the other?"
Wow, first Daniel Pearl, and then Jayson Blair, and then...Burnsgate! Let's hear it for (over-)reactionary New York-based self-absorption! Scoop on, Shafer!
We eagerly await the onslaught of frontpage media-crit controversies on the U.S. coalition's shooting death of Reuters cameraman Mazen Dana or the Army's cannon-fodder treatment of journalists in Baghdad's Palestine hotel or the American-led interim Iraqi government's banning of Arabic satellite television networks such as Al-Jazeera.
Wait. Maybe those stories already got their token half-day of coverage?
September 24, 2003
From Road Trip to Pink Slip
It didn't even last as long as his marriage to Drew Barrymore
According to The Post's Pulitzer Prize shortlisted TV scribe, Adam Buckman, the show "drew an average 889.000 viewers nightly" during its first weeks (emphasis on poor word choice, mine).
Who's your daddy?
"He has his father's eyes."- Rosemary's Baby
Funnily enough, that other classic spawn of Satan film, The Omen, was released by 20th Century FOX, a division of News Corporation.
It's Dr. Dean
George W. Bush's Awesome Mix tape
Better late than never, here are some highlights from President Bush's chat with Brit Hume on FOX Monday night with suggested songs for a roadtrip mix!
“I pray in bed, I pray in the Oval Office. I pray a lot. And just different—as the spirit moves me. And faith is an integral part of my life.' (Cue: Hammer, "Pray.")
September 23, 2003
How to tell Todd Barry and George W. Bush apart
Hint: one's funny on purpose.
It's something in the nose and lips, right? Sorry, Todd. You know, it could be worse. Warren Beatty was obsessed by the fact that he resembled the sitting President; try making love to Julie Christie while she's thinking of this guy.
September 22, 2003
"Synergy," circa 2003
File under: If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
It is with trepidation that I even enter the McSweeneys/Believer/"Snark Watch" fray--long is the list of (better) writers who've approached that three-headed dog only to be maimed and bloodied. For all I know, Ken Krimstein and Forest Aguirre are both Dave Eggers (Heck, Alice Munro might be, too), and this whole thing is just another hall-of-mirrors mindfuck that flies right over my head.
Or it's a sad case of Dave Eggers' posse being trapped in the Andes, eating each other one by one...
Where Imitation Meets Flattery
"When I hear about The Onion having imitators, I just think, 'Why? Do us one better. Think of something else that we haven't thought of.'" - Maria Schneider, staff writer, The Onion.
Disillusioned teens sue Woody Allen for deceiving them
Adam Sandler Fans Disappointed by Intelligent, Nuanced Performance
September 21, 2003
Remember the Neediest
What is the deal with The New York Times and The Bottom Line? Four articles in one week? This is the sort of "flood the zone" coverage we've come to expect from stories about poverty ("The Neediest" series comes to mind), not an aging nightclub in Greenwich Village and its rent problems with New York University. Maybe Bill Keller is a big rock fan.
The Bottom Line shares it's building with my old department at NYU, yet I never went there once. Anyway, here's a timeline of Times coverage (a Timesline, perhaps?):
Village Club May Face Swan Song Over Rent by Jim Dwyer, Sept. 15, 2003
For Younger Music Fans, a Club Is, Well, History by Michael Slackman, Sept. 16, 2003
At the Bottom Line, Holding Out Hope for a Lifeline by Robin Finn, Sept. 19, 2003
Can't Miss the Sag at the Bottom Line by Michael Brick, Sept. 21, 2003
September 20, 2003
Let's Go To The Movies
Cold Creek Manor is Straw Dogs for the second mortgage set. While Mike Figgis is no Peckinpah, when he takes a break from his difficult, experimental films, he makes a pretty good thriller. The sounds of crickets on a silent country night were never more ominous. Stephen Dorff and his six pack put in surprisingly good performances as the Max Cady of the Pabst Blue Ribbon set. (His character's name, Dale Massie, is even a mnemonic echo of Cady's.)Continue reading...
September 19, 2003
Fairness and Accuracy in Gossip Reporting
What does come as a surprise is the fact that Wolff's book is being published by HarperCollins which is owned by News Corp., owners of The Post. Strangely, the HarperCollins Web site has no mention of the book (which has been in the works since 2000) and Page Six felt no need to disclose the connection.
Luis Premieres Tonight on FOX
Good luck tonight, you handsome devil.
Luis, 8:30 PM EST on FOX.
Durst Video Ever
Talk about going from bad to Durst.
According to the Peabody Award winning journalists at MTV News, Halle Berry (who, according to reports, just completed her teary Academy Awards filibuster some two years after she stepped up to the podium at the Kodak Theater) appears in the new Limp Bizkit video. The video, a cover of The Who's "Behind Blue Eyes" (the Biz boyz couldn't prevail on Pete Townzhend to let them zpell eyez az they chooze) and is tied to the release of Halle's latest film, Gothika.
Actors have to do a lot of terrible things to help promote their films, but kissing Fred "EZ-Pass for the Playboy Mansion" Durst on the lips is surely one of the worst. What horrible crime could Berry have committed to deserve such treatment? Oh, yeah. I forgot.
[Link and images via Whatevs.org]
September 18, 2003
A Tale of Two Dicks
It's a rare and special news day when you can make two dick jokes without breaking a sweat.
Incidentally, if you're gonna go by 'Dick,' you might not want to resemble one so closely.
How to Make Love to Beautiful Young Women on Camera Even Though You're Pushing 60
Are you a brilliant but insecure comic genius with millions of fans? Do women think you're inexplicably sexy, yet you complain to friends and reporters that you're lonely? Did you star in a movie called The Lonely Guy? Do you want to make love to beautiful young women on camera even though you're pushing 60?
Short of changing your name to Woody Allen, here's how to achieve your goal in five simple steps.
Step 1. Write a book about a beautiful, shy, artistic young woman who works at Neiman Marcus and dates a wealthy older man.
Step 2. Adapt your own book for the screen.
Step 3. Executive Produce the film adaptation of your book.
Step. 4. Cast a formerly dewy ingenue as the beautiful, shy, artistic young woman.
Step 5. Cast yourself as the wealthy older man.
Congratulations: you are now making love to a beautiful young woman on camera even though you're pushing 60.
[Variety via Gothamist]
September 17, 2003
Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
Coming soon to your mailbox: Personally signed "I'm sorry for lying about the Iraq-9/11 connection" greeting cards from one very apologetic Texan.
Fallon Ever Upward
Since the Fallon siblings' book is all about pessimism, here's a Web site all about hating Jimmy Fallon.
An Open Letter to English Hooligans
Oi! Lissen 'ere, mates. You lot are doing a bang-up job taking the piss out of that sod David Blaine. Banging drums while he sleeps? Brilliant! Sending a remote controlled helicopter with a hamburger? Ace! Laser pointers? Jolly good!
Cheers, your friends in America.
PS. Here's your 'ow to: Hoolifan: Thirty Years of Hurt.
Exporting democracy, step by step
From the New York Times:
"HALDIYA, Iraq, Sept. 16 — Six people identifying themselves as Americans, and two others saying they are British, are being held prisoner in connection with guerrilla attacks in Iraq, a United States general said today.
Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who is in charge of prisoners in Iraq, provided no details on the men, except to say they are among 4,400 "security detainees," a category distinct from prisoners of war or common criminals. She said the "security detainees" were suspected of carrying out or planning attacks on American or other troops in Iraq, Agence France-Presse reported.
Her reference to the men, the first mention of possible Westerners among some 10,000 prisoners, was made during a tour of Abu Ghraib prison, where they are being held. American forces took over the prison, just west of Baghdad, which was notorious during the Saddam Hussein government."
Apparently, if there's one thing the U.S. has proven its skill at exporting, its the American reliance on the prison system. Well, that and socialized healthcare, which will be made available to many Iraqis shortly. "Single-payer healthcare," we suppose, must mean one U.S. taxpayer pays for another person to have healthcare, but only in a remote conquered nation. Go team!
September 16, 2003
"Start with Muhammad Ali spending 40 minutes discussing tooth decay. Add appearances by celebrity guest stars like Frank Sinatra and Richie Havens, a bunch of kids, and some truly wooden dialog straight out of a dental textbook. Throw in a song that doesn't make any sense. And if that isn't enough for you, top it off with narration by Howard Cosell."
Brush With Greatness
As the image above attests, Wes certainly can use a hairbrush. But I wonder, does that formulation mean that Scarlett Johansson is merely Jason Schwartzmann minus the all-over body hair and plus see-through panties? Shudder
Pennies From Heaven
File under: A Fool and His Money. Ripping a page out of the Yippie! handbook, misguided philanthropist-cum-moron Kevin Shelton shot $10,000 in two dollar bills from his "cash cannon" at a mall in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Six people were injured grabbing for the cash; one person broke an arm. "They were trampling all over me," 14 year-old Lashawnda Marin told the Washington Post. And that was just on the line for Mrs. Field's double fudge cookies. (High-O!)
Not a funny story, but the fact that the police spokesman quoted by the Post is named Bill Proffitt is pretty darn funny.
Make our "team" part of your "team"