November 26, 2003
Thanksgiving 2003: the Mourn of Plenty
[With apologies and admiration for George Lois.]
November 25, 2003
Those 70's Guys
From this week's New Yorker, 'Talk of the Town':
"Tobin grew up in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and still lives there, in a four-bedroom house on a quiet tree-lined street. Seventy-nine years old, he works most days at his law firm, a few minutes away." Times Warp by Alicia DeSantis
"Omar SharifCairo Fred to his friendshas played a bandit and a Catholic priest and Khalil Gibran and Tsar Nicholas II and the British agent Cedric, who gets trash-compacted in Top Secret! He is seventy-one." Cairo Fred by Dana Goodyear
Of course, this guy makes them all seem like pishers:
Commander in Chief of Pop
After all the discussion last month about President Bush's dismissal of the national news media as a "filter", rather than a conduit, for his "message", it's super-meta-blogging quiz time here at low culture: Between Michael Jackson and George W. Bush, guess which public figure had his media folks say this about his newly-launched blog (the obvious giveaways have been "blacked out"):
"...the Web site allows _____ to bypass the news media to deliver his side of the story to the public.
Bonus points go to whomever can guess which of these two public figures has been arrested at some point in his life (though I guess that doesn't really help to clarify anything).
Extra bonus points go to whomever can justify, or at least explain, the use of the scribbled crayon font in Bush's blog logo (see the actual graphic above).
*(Answer, if you really care about the previous quote: Michael Jackson.)
In a low culture breaking news exclusive, the Abercrombie & Fitch Quarterly, scandal sheet-cum-catalogue has been pulled from the countless college outfitters dotting our nation's malls. While these actions will deprive sporty-types of saucy interviews with Paris Hilton, requisite profiles of the O.C. cast, and all the homoerotica that's fit to print, the move represents a victory of sorts for New York Post columnist Michelle Malkin, Catholic League malcontent William Donohue and the countless National Coalitions that seek to protect people from themselves. Campuses everywhere are reeling.
Gregg Easterbook has found a new home for his football blog: NFL.com. Good thing, too, since it's been a few minutes since anyone mentioned his dumb ass. Too bad Radosh is so busy changing diapers, 'cause I'm sure he has what to say on this matter.
Good luck, Gregg: I'm sure you'll fuck this gig up, too.
Earlier thoughts on Gregg Easterbrook from low culture: What Easterbrook Could Learn from Rousseau
Ku Klutz Klan
Participant at KKK initiation wounded after shots fired into sky
Gregory Allen Freeman, 45, was charged with aggravated assault and reckless endangerment in the Saturday night incident that wounded Jeffery S. Murr, 24.
November 24, 2003
Day 2 Retractions (Round 4)
While we've already snidely covered the numerous instances wherein the U.S. military's documentation of events has moved from loudly inflammatory on day 1, to quietly inaccurate on day 2, we're proud to admit another entrant into low culture's "Regretful Press Release 2003" contest.
Day 1, November 23, 2003:
Three US soldiers were killed in northern Iraq on Sunday, including two in the heart of the city of Mosul who witnesses said had their throats slit.
Day 1, continued, November 23, 2003:
An Iraqi mob, most of them teenagers, dragged two bloodied soldiers from the car, threw them to the ground and pummeled their bodies with concrete blocks, according to witnesses, describing a burst of savagery reminiscent of that in Somalia a decade ago.
Day 2, November 24, 2003:
Military officials retracted a report today that two American soldiers had been slashed in their throats in an attack Sunday in the northern city of Mosul.
Until round 5 of the contest begins, we recommend Amazon.com's 317th-ranked bestseller, co-authored by Rick Bragg and Paul Wolfowitz.
What a difference a day makes
Won't you please remember the neediest and rent Hollywood Homicide this holiday weekend?
Seriously, though: despite what our 'friends' say, we here at low culture aren't complete fucking assholes. Please go to CityHarvest.org and make a donation this year.
Hey New York Magazine: Whaaaaaaaaaaaazuppp?!
"Got Beef?" Not a bad hed. Where'd they come up with that?
Hey, New York, next time try to Think Different, won't you?
November 23, 2003
The Dated Game
Were you aware that online dating is all the rage? If you missed last year's big story, this Sunday's New York Times Magazine is happy to provide all the anonymous profiles you need to understand "how Internet dating is re-engineering flirtation..." As if that's not exciting enough, in a low culture exclusive, we're previewing feature pieces from future issues of the Times Magazine.
Las Nuevas Sonidas: Why Ricky Martin represents a seismic shift in popular music.
Dave Eggers: Remember the name. This low-key moptop is about to revolutionize the publishing industry.
Swinging from a Star: Does swing dancing portend a sea change in the bar scene?
Napster This!: How one little computer program will profoundly change the music industry.
November 21, 2003
While todays New York Times op-ed page affords Nigel Hamilton the opportunity to less-than-methodically imagine a world in which JFK was never killed, somehow Hamilton managed to overlook the obvious impact Kennedys un-assassination would have on the entertainment industry. Well low culture is here to fill in the blanks, following in the Times' illegible footsteps.Continue reading...
A Ringer in the Crying Game
In yet another instance of old media stealing—stealing!—from new, this week's Entertainment Weekly picks up on the recent blogger trend of listing movies that make you cry with Cry Freedom: The 50 Greatest Tearjerkers. (Sorry, you need to subscribe to read it on the Web and get your weekly Jim Mullen fix.)
1st Annual (Ever?) Jonathan Ames Write-Alike Contest
In honor of Jonathan Ames' week-long diary of his trip to Club Med on McSweeneys.net, we here at low culture would like to announce our First Annual (Ever?) Jonathan Ames Write-Alike Contest.
Please use our comments area to post your entries. Extra points awarded for use of Yiddish, references to Scott Fitzgerald, detailed descriptions of bodily functions, and in-depth questioning of your sexuality. All entries not in the first-person will be automatically disqualified.
Winning entry will be printed out and hand delivered to Ames who lives two blocks away from me. (Or his mailbox: see nonexistant rules for further information.) All entries must be submitted...whenever. Must be 18 years or older to enter; only one winner per state, sorry Tennessee.
Dr. Dean's in Great Shape
I snoozed on this all week, but this comes from Wednesday's Times article,
Every day on the campaign trail, Howard Dean wears an unfashionable black belt that belonged to his younger brother Charlie, a silent memorial to the man who vanished while traveling the Mekong River 29 years ago... Dr. Dean has worn the black leather belt with the large, silver-rimmed holes for at least 20 years, and counts his brother's death as a watershed that made him more serious about his own future.
How many middle aged men can say they've been able to wear the same belt for 20 years? Oh, and it's a shame about his brother, too.
[Yes, I know that the belt on the left is brown with a brass buckle.]
To Know, Know, Know Nothing About Him is to Write, Write, Write about him (and we do)
Being a journalist is hard work. You have to pound the pavement in search of sources, burn the candle at both ends to write engaging sentences, and worst of all, you have to read the whole blurb on the dust jacket of a book for that deep, deep background.
Ask anyone writing about super producer-turned-alleged murderer, Phil Spector. This comes the back cover blurb of Mark Ribowsky's 1989 book He's A Rebel: Phil Spector, Rock and Roll's Legendary Producer: "Phil Spector created the 'wall of sound,' produced the Beatles' last record, persuaded the Ramones to go 'pop,' made the Righteous brothers sound respectable, and was a millionaire by age 21."
"As songwriter, guitarist and backup singer for the band, which hit the big time with To Know Him is to Love Him, he became a millionaire by the age of 21.
"'To Know Him Is to Love Him' and made him a millionaire by age 21."
"By the time he was 21, Spector was a millionaire."
" Spector was a millionaire by age 21, and his music career exploded after he came onto the music scene as a member of the band the Teddy Bears."
"Spector had started his career as a musician with a band called the Teddy Bears before embarking on a songwriting and production career that made him a millionaire by the age of 21."
"Spector was only 21 years old, and he was a millionaire."
"...the youngest record company head and a millionaire age 21, dubbed Tycoon of Teen."
"Spector got his start in the music business in 1958 as a songwriter, guitarist and backup singer for the Los Angeles group the Teddy Bears, which had a hit single with 'To Know Him is to Love Him' and made him a millionaire by age 21. "
Spector began promoting, producing and creating bands when he was in his teens, and was a millionaire by the time he was 21."
"Phil Spector, the legendary but reclusive American producer who invented the 'wall of sound', hit No. 1 with his very first single and was a millionaire by 21."
"By 21, Spector was a millionaire and a maverick dubbed the 'teen tycoon' by author Tom Wolfe."
I don't know, know, know about you, but I broke into a sweat just summarizing it.
Stupid Host Tricks
Remember when David Letterman was scary? Okay, not scary: mean. Even though he was always winking through it, he was at least being a little mean.
Well, no more. In yet another instance of the total Leno-ization of the culture (example: the President referencing David Blaine like a well-worn monologue joke), Letterman has lowered himself to just another Paris Hilton suitor. (Today's line forms behind, let's say, the guitarist from Stain'd.) According to the still Pulitzer Prize-free New York Post, Letterman made a desperate plea to the hotel heiress-cum-video jockey on his show last night:
"We'll talk about anything you want to talk about—if you have pets, we'll talk about your pets...If you want to talk about the sexual videotape, fine. If you don't, that's fine with me, too... We all know it's not your fault. It's your idiot boyfriend's fault, that's the problem. We'll set the record straight—it'll be a love fest... All I want to say to Paris is, 'You're being led down the wrong path. You come on this show, by God, we'll make you a hero."
A love fest? Isn't that what got Paris in so much trouble in the first place? Dave, we (still, for some reason) expect better from you.
November 20, 2003
Not Here, Not Now
The chump's stump speech
President Bush, despite his being a longtime proponent of repetitive mantras, really ought to look into hiring a new set of speechwriters, lest we have to endure, yet again, his uttering the following lines when asked about protests against his administration's policies.
November 20, 2003, on London's protesters:
"Freedom is beautiful," Bush said today, adding he was happy to be in a country where people were allowed to speak their minds freely. "All I know is that people in Baghdad weren't allowed to do this until recent history."
November 17, 2003, anticipating London's protesters:
"I am so pleased to be going to a country which says that people are allowed to express their mind. That's fantastic. Freedom is a beautiful thing," he told the Press Association.
May 21, 2003, on Berlin's protesters:
"That's good. That's democracy," Bush said of the protests. "See, I love to visit a place that is confident in her freedom, a place where people feel free to express themselves, because that's what I believe in."
February 15, 2003, on worldwide protests:
"The president views force as a last resort. He still hopes for a peaceful resolution and that is up to Saddam Hussein," White House spokeswoman Jeanie Mamo said. "The president is a strong advocate for freedom and democracy. And one of the democratic values that we hold dear is the right of people to peacefully assemble and express their views."
Have we reached saturation yet?
The politics of refurbishment
In keeping with this week's visit to the United Kingdom by President Bush, the British comedian- cum- scandal-artist -cum-filmmaker Chris Morris has re-posted his two "Bushwhacked" cut-and-paste parody collages of the President's 2002 and 2003 State of the Union addresses.
While these have circulated as audio files since, well, a few days after the initial speech(es) were made, those of us with "digital divide-less" broadband connections are now treated to the full audio-visual experience, which is a vast improvement on the nearly year-old MP3s.
To borrow a phrase that the papers seem so fond of citing, "nearly seven months since President Bush declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq," there's something quite perverse about seeing House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi grin wickedly at Bush's butchered announcement that "the American flag stands for...cutting out tongues...and rape."
And now, a little something for the film students...
Meet the Lefty Spice Girls
Among the 150,000 protesters who greeted President Bush in England this week were the members of The Lefty Spice Girls. On the left (naturally) we have Fiona (aka 'Anti-Globalization Spice'); in the middle is Johri (aka 'Stop War Now Spice'); and in the back is Alex M. ('Environmental Justice Spice'). Not pictured: Alex G. (aka, 'Workers' Rights Spice') and Miranda (aka, 'Legalize Marijuana Spice').
Tell me what you want, what you really, really want... If you want my future, correct your past/If you wanna get with me, end the slog real fast...
Sidebar: What is the deal with photographers only shooting pretty girls at protests and rallies? I mean, that has to be the oldest scam in the book: "Hey, why don't you give me your number and I'll give you a print of this. You know, I'm pals with the photo editor at the paper, I can definitely make your whole sign visible..."
Biting the Hand that Wanks you
The hard-hitting newsmen and women at CBS News in New York decided to follow last night's spankin' Victoria's Secret Fashion Show (Grambo review, TK) with a report on how unsanitary Victoria's Secret retail stores are. Here's a cringe-inducing sample of the report:
John, not his real name, is a disgruntled former employee of two Victoria's Secret stores. He came to us with the revolting allegation that it was store practice to take back used underwear and then resell it.
C for Comeback
Good news, Jayson Blair and Stephen Glass! If you wait long enough for the whole plagiarizing and fabricating thing to blow over (like, say 30 years), you'll be able to continue your brilliant careers. Right now you might not be able to eat lunch in this town, but lay low for a while and you'll be the toast of tinsel town just like Clifford Irving.
Clifford Irving? Who dat? Irving, a once promising writer, was at the center of the fake Howard Hughes biography scandal in the early 70s. After it was revealed he lied about being authorized to write the billionaire mogul's autobiography by the recluse himself, Irving was forced to return his $765,000 advance to McGraw Hill and spent some 14 months in prison for fraud. (The whole story is amusingly told by Orson Welles in F for Fake, an amazing—and amazingly weird—movie whose title amazingly never once came up during the Jayson Blair scandal.) Here's what Irving told 60 Minutes II when he looked back on his 15 minutes of infamy in 2000: "I was lying to everybody... I was on a train of lies. I couldn't jump off." (Gee, sounds like some other guys.)
Anyway, Irving reemerged as a fiction writer and one of his novels, Tom Mix and Pancho Villa (from 1982) has just been optioned with the screenplay to be written by classy A-list scripter Steven Zaillian. Of course, the movie sounds like a steaming turd, but that's beside the point. What was the point again? Oh, yeah. Hang in there Jayson and Stephen: redemption will be yours in a few decades.
Reports of Her Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated
Courtney, we really, really knew ye.
You know that totally narcissistic fantasy you have about being able to attend your own funeral and hear what everyone has to say about you? (You know, like this guy.) Well, the girl with the most cake gets to have that experience without all the messy details of dying first.
This week, The Stranger looks back at the life of Courtney Love from her musical legacy to her amazing Hollywood make-over. There's also a peak at new Loves and a celebrity humurist/eulogist to crack wise. (David Kamp wasn't free, so they got this dude.)
It's sad. She had so much to live for, but I guess she just couldn't live through this.*
November 19, 2003
Delusions of Commandeur
President Bush, who apparently reads People magazine just like the rest of us, is hip to B-level pop culture. According to Fox News, when the president was asked about the large-scale protests that greeted his arrival in England this week, he indicated his appreciation of the phenomenon by acknowledging that
"the last American to cause such a ruckus in the city was illusionist David Blaine, who recently spent 44 days in a self-imposed fast in an elevated plastic box above the Thames River. For the first few days, Blaine's box was pelted with food and the people jeered at him.
'A few might have been happy to provide similar arrangements for me," Bush said, adding that he was grateful to the Queen for interceding and allowing him to stay at Buckingham Palace."
Oh, and one other point about this article. While it's so, so passé to marvel at the amazingly limited worldview of Fox News and its audience, some of their antics continue to provide fresh opportunities for amazement. Such as today's headline (since relegated solely to an appearance on the front page) for this "Blaine-dropping" article: "Bush Gets Royal Treatment."
"Royal treatment" apparently no longer implies "pampering," "adoration" or a waitstaff tending to your every need. This new iteration somehow incorporates negative poll numbers indicating that a majority of British citizens were opposed to and inconvenienced by his visit, as well as managing to invoke the plans for nearly 100,000 protesters to march upon and topple a Saddam-esque effigy of the President in Trafalgar Square on Thursday.
TMI: LBJ, JFK, THC and CBS
Who knew trash-documentary producer Nick Broomfield was such a history buff? It just has to be the crazy and conspiratorial Broomfield who produced a documentary that aired on the History Channel last night entitled, "The Men Who Killed Kennedy: The Guilty Men," which alleges that Lyndon Johnson was somehow involved in the assassination of President Kennedy 40 years ago.
Wait, sorry. It turns out one "Nigel Turner" produced this edifying film for the History Channel, but LBJ's presidential foundation is pretty plum pissed off regardless of its origin. Apparently having learned nothing from the conservative task force that set out (and subsequently succeeded) in preventing this month's airing of CBS's "controversial" Reagan miniseries, Johnson's family members and former aides had the temerity to allow this thing to air!
According to an AP story, LBJ Foundation Chairman Tom Johnson stated, "We left the decision on editorial content and accuracy up to the History Channel." What a nimrod!
"He and Jack Valenti, another former Johnson staff member and current president of the Motion Picture Association of America, issued a joint statement on behalf of the Johnson family and others.
'Sadly, President Johnson and the staff members who are wrongly smeared by the conspiracy theorists are no longer alive to defend themselves,' the statement said. 'In televising this production, The History Channel has distorted history beyond recognition.'"
Tom Johnson, incidentally, is not related to the former president. He is, however, "a former president and CEO of CNN." This probably has nothing to do with the foundation's going after the A&E-owned History Channel.
That would be both crazy and conspiratorial.
A low culture exclusive: Michael Jackson Bombshell!
Breaking News: JACKSON FACES CHILD MOLESTATION CHARGES
Related: MICHAEL JACKSON IMPERSONATOR ACQUITTED OF MOLESTATION CHARGES
This isn't only about what you think it is, I swear
Hello, anglophiles and throne-watchers! Quick: what have you been missing out on here in the U.S. for the past six years? That's right, a visit by Prince Charles, the future King of England, who hasn't set foot on American soil since coming to New York in 1997.
While this may seem topical only due to President Bush's current visit to the United Kingdom, or maybe recent events in Massachusetts' judiciary, it has nothing to do with American intolerance of homosexuality. We think. The Prince of Wales, after all, isn't gay, for one thing (just check out the photo above: President Bush would never, in good conscience, shake hands with a gay bloke).
But he can shake hands with the "pro-Palestinian" Prince Charles. The Guardian quotes a source close to the issue as saying,
"It [concern over Charles travelling to the US] revolves around the perception that the Prince of Wales is fairly Arabist. He has, in American terms and international terms, fairly dodgy views on Israel.
"He thinks American policy on the Middle East is complete madness and he used to express that quite loudly to a lot of people, including ministers and various ambassadors."
The source added: "The system basically thinks that he is unsound on America and he has not really wanted to go anyway. He doesn't much like American culture."
It's just this "gay" thing we need to work on. And the Middle East, I guess.
Blind Man's Blurbs
Maybe the jokes on me here, but how can Knipfel be a film critic, since he's, like, blind? Knipfel is a decent writer, but, I mean, can he really be a film critic?
Reaching: Towards a New Hermeneutics of the Post-Structural Pachyderm
Michael Jackson: Is This Scary?
You know this kid is scared.
Unintentionally Hilarious Photo of the Moment, vol. 9
November 18, 2003
Bible Accuses Governer Schwarzenegger of inappropriate touching
Masthead and Commander
Just when it seemed that Friendster had blown its wad, soon to be reduced to pop-culture footnote, low culture has discovered yet another diversion to be plumbed from everyone's favorite community-based resource.
Simply take the byline of any article - magazine, newspaper, or otherwise - and perform a user search on Friendster. If that piece appeared in a media-centric publication based out of New York or L.A., the odds are good that its author is online. In general, the lower said writer appears on the masthead, the more likely he will appear on Friendster. And contributor photos are a boon - most of the writers for MTV's newest cultural debacle use the same picture for Spankin' New and Friendster.
And suddenly that fluff piece you just skimmed takes on an entirely new dimension.
And ladies? He's single…
November 17, 2003
Headless Prez in Topless Mag
Brace yourself for the most embarrassing interview by a G.O.P. politician to appear in a porn mag since Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared in Oui two decades ago...
Washington Post White House correspondent Dana Milbank, who's received some praise here before on at least a few occasions, has fallen a bit short with today's piece detailing President Bush's gift of an all-too-rare exclusive print interview with a Rupert Murdoch-owned topless tabloid in the UK.
The article's good enough, mind you, and does a good job of illustrating the fact that it's a bit hypocritical for this most Christian of presidents to be appearing in a paper that features nude women and Enquirer-type stories...it's just the headline that misses its mark. The Post goes with "Prez in Topless Tabloid," which, though theoretically meant to parody the headlines of the tabloid in question, comes off more like an Army Archerd-esque Variety lead.
Come on, Dana...be a little more adventurous! "Boobs, Bullies, and Bollocks: Bush meets Blair," for starters. Or "Dish n' Hips," perhaps. Or even the oh-so-blunt "Topless Girls--Featuring Bush!"
We here at low culture know you've got a sense of humor, Dana. Check out your closing paragraph:
After McClellan's bombshell at yesterday's briefing, this correspondent asked whether the other publications present would get Bush interviews if they ran nude photos. "I hope you're not talking about yourself," McClellan replied.
Sign O' The Times
Poor Marty Amis. His latest novel, Yellow Dog, has garnered the nastiest notices of an otherwise charmed career. The first, and loudest, of these reviews came from crap novelist Tibor Fischer, disemboweling Amis in a career-making piece for the Daily Telegraph. It's like your favourite uncle being caught in a school playground, masturbating, he soberly notes.
Could any novel really be "masturbating uncle" bad?
It's true, Amis walks into his typical traps. There are the hugely unfortunate sentences:
And, to Xan, this poem of boredom was like a douche of self-discovery.
Or even better:
for the first time in his life he was contemplating the human vulva with a sanity that knew no blindspots
There are too the rampant pontification and cheerless self-importance, but these failings have been forgivable in the past, even part of what makes Amis great. But lately it would appear that Amis is guilty of a sin even worse than plagiarizing ones own mediocre think-piece from Talk Magazine.
Mister Amis has become uncool enfant terrible grown ancien regime or further evidence of Sick Boys Unifying Theory of Life. Even the typically high-minded Walter Kirn accuses Amis of using tactics that might have raised eyebrows 50 years ago And in Amis universe, uncool is a capitol crime.
Evidence of Amis complete dissociation from contemporary culture has played out lately amid his spacy declarations concerning the internet. Confer Grandpa Amis recent nap on "Topic A with Tina Brown," in which he explains, Ive never looked at [the internet], because I dont know how to use a computer, here Tina politely chuckles, and Im often quite relieved that I cant.
Hardly a crime, but based on the evidence, perhaps it would be best for Amis to avoid including the transcripts of emails, or es as Amis labels them, in any future novels. Amis fictionalized e-mail exchanges feature lines more suggestive of a Prince song than any correspondence Ive ever received. Below are excerpts from "Yellow Dogs" "es" alongside some fakes. Can you separate the real crap from the fake?
& i no th@ if i ever find some1 2 spend the rest of my days with
y o y, clint, do people use 6 2 infl8 their own gr&iosity?
tell u l8r. just u w8 & c.
u should go @ it 40ssimo
& per4ms the usual r&y stunts with a lady-in-w8ing!
4 him, the sun shone out of my *
[Answer Key: They're all real.]
Spike Lee's attorneys, will you please do the right thing and sue these people?
Let's hope that the litigious Mr. Lee does the right thing and Spikes this in a court of law. Is The Jewish Journal finally getting their revenge on Lee for the allegedly anti-Semitic portrayal of Jews in Mo' Better Blues, or are they just idiots?
[Thanks Marc Weisblott!]
November 16, 2003
One of these men is the most powerful man in Hollywood. Two are chumps.
Let's set aside how offensive it is that the highly paid producers, studio heads, and chairmen of the entertainment conglomerates are using these ordinary working Joes to guilt us out of pirating movies. What I found really offensive was that one spot, the one with stuntman Manny Perry (far left), features clips from Enemy of the State (directed by A.O. Scott's namesake and doppelganger, Tony Scott). This movie was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, whom Entertainment Weekly recently deemed the most powerful man in Hollywood.
Should we really be taking advice on what's right and what's wrong from a guy whose former partner, the late Don Simpson, used to get off on beating up hookers and making them drink out of the toilet while he urinated in it? (You can read all about Simpson's fast times and early death in Charles Fleming's High Concept: Don Simpson and the Hollywood Culture of Excess.) Is Jerry Bruckheimer in any position to tell us how we're mistreating Hollywood's underlings? What's next, a commercial with Scott Rudin's assistants telling us we're making their lives a living hell? Maybe a spot with some Korean animators telling us how we're destroying Disney?
The Gold and Platinum Standard
In "Who's Smoking Now," an article on High Times Magazine's re-branding by John Leland in The Times 'Styles' section, Richard Stratton, the magazine's new publisher and editor-in-chief envisions the new magazine as "'an outlaw version of Vanity Fair,' with a dash of Wine Spectator and Cigar Aficionado... a magazine for epicurean libertarians who may or may not smoke marijuana."
Radar: "it'll be Spy meets Vanity Fair."
November 14, 2003
Breaking hearts and losing minds
That's the sound of a global sigh of relief, mind you, now that El Presidente has decreed that the U.S. will begin expediting the transition to Iraqi "self-rule". Apparently, the Iraqi people have been expressing interest in becoming "more involved in the governance of their country," according to President Bush in yesterday's remarks on the subject of the post-war transition of power.
Well, with that in mind, it's nice to know the United States has been victorious in the cliched "battle of hearts and minds" that Rumsfeld et al kept championing throughout the spring and summer. Just check out these editorial cartoons from the Arab press as collected by Al-Jazeera, the noted television news mouthpiece of the Arab world. The caption for the strip above, incidentally, is as follows: "You see! Democracy is good. Isn't it?"
Why, there's hardly any anti-American sentiment in sight.
This is what a dead soldier looks like
Today's New York Times has a good signed editorial by Andrew Rosenthal about hiding the soldiers who died or were injured in Iraq. After pointing out that the President (or anyone in his cabinet) hasn't attended any funerals for the dead or publicly addressed these slain soldiers' families, Rosenthal concludes:
The Bush administration hates comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam, and many are a stretch. But there is a lesson that this president seems not to have learned from Vietnam. You cannot hide casualties. Indeed, trying to do so probably does more to undermine public confidence than any display of a flag-draped coffin. And there is at least one direct parallel. Thirty-five years ago, at the height of the Vietnam War, the Pentagon took to shipping bodies into the United States in the dead of night to avoid news coverage.
If you're curious to see what real war fatalities look like, try to track down a copy of Ernst Friedrich's classic 1924 Passivist manifesto War Against War!. The 261 page book features hundreds of gruesome, heartbreaking photographs of soldiers killed and injured during the First World War along with an impassioned critique of war in general.
The Paris Review
This message is intended for FOX Entertainment President, Gail Berman, but you can read it, too.
And don't tell me there's a difference because Paris never got paid for her dirty work: Sarah Kozer got paid for her foot fetish films, yet she was still a finalist on Joe Millionaire. (As did Kozer's suitor, the similarly hotel-product-placement named Evan Marriott for his softcore early work.) So, Gail: these untalented white people can do porn and demi-porn and still appear on your air but Frenchie couldn't? Try explaining that to Bernie Mac at the FOX Christmas party this year.
Hilariously inappropriate denouements to otherwise serious news stories
Today's New York Times features an odd little piece in the "Washington" section of the paper entitled, "G.O.P. Leader Solicits Money for Charity Tied to Convention." The article, by one Michael Slackman, is a mildly infuriating examination of leading Congressional Republicans' tactics for working around the McCain-Feingold limitations on soft-money acquisition for campaign purposes, and has some informative anecdotes about the various methodologies that House majority leader Tom Delay and Senate majority leader (Dr.) Bill Frist have begun using to effectively channel campaign funds through the guise of charitable causes. For children, of course.
Not a "must-read" at all, save for the closing three paragraphs, in which the author goes off on a completely irrelevant (but laugh-out-loud funny) tangent about the outdatedness of the Republicans' fundraising terminology:
Whatever its ultimate virtues, the DeLay fund-raising brochure displays a certain out-of-date understanding of the New York scene.
The brochure, in which the size of donations are named for more or less exclusive neighborhoods, starts at the Upper East Side as the top $500,000 tier and it ends with Greenwich Village for $10,000, perhaps suggesting Mr. DeLay's people have not surveyed the recent asking prices of town houses in the downtown neighborhood. He also placed Midtown (at $50,000) above SoHo (at $25,000).
"Midtown would be a lot less expensive than SoHo or the Village," said Tory Masters, of Intrepid New Yorker, a relocation firm in Manhattan. "I don't know what they are talking about."
Looks like this Michael Slackman fellow undoubtedly has a pretty severe case of liberal bias.
"I'm Wes Clark, and I approve of this message."
Sidebar: The Onion was dead-on yet again with their headline from about two months ago, Outkast Accepted By All (not online).
"Do I look fat in this, mom?"
Why does Ronald McDonald hate your kid so much?
According to The Post, "The clothing line will consist of cotton tops and casual pants, not T-shirts emblazoned with the Golden Arches, Howard said. In fact, some of the clothes will only carry the McKids logo on the inside label."
Maybe they should just print targets all over it, because any kid caught wearing that crap will surely be pummeled by lunchtime. They might also succeed with WIDE LOAD printed on the back.
November 13, 2003
Who writes your material?
For as long as celebrity place-holder Carson Daly has been in the public eye, people have been comparing him to Dick Clark. It's practically an article of faith that Daly is the new Clark, so I was surprised to read Mr. Clark taking the words out of Daly's mouth in his interview with The Onion A.V. Club this week. Here's the quote the editors of the A.V. Club saw fit to pull for its cover:
As a storekeeper, you've got to learn what you're going to put on the shelves. That's always been my role, even when I was in my 20s. I was a storekeeper. It didn't reflect my personal tastes or my personal preferences. You just look at the audience, listen to what they want, and put it up there and see if they come in and buy it.
This is nearly identical to something Daly's been saying (and saying, and saying) for years:
Shopkeeper/bartender. What's the difference? I guess 'bartender' is more edgy, like naming your dog Stoli.
Master and Commander: The Far Right Side of the World
The story, by Mark Hosenball, Michael Isikoff, and Evan Thomas is so scary, I half wonder why Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker didn't run it on Halloween. Tales of Cheney's monomania on Iraq, his "free floating power base," his near-clinical paranoia, his incredible influence on the President and the direction of foreign policy, the fact that he's "far to the right politically," and the most frightening reference to Thomas Hobbes you will see all year add up to the thesis posited by Hosenball, Isikoff, and Thomas: Cheney is a "vice president who may be too powerful for his own good."
What they don't saybut what hangs over the pieceis the addition: He may be too powerful for our own good, too.
If you don't have time to read the Newsweek piecec'mon, you can print it out and read it on your ride homeat least read Maureen Dowd's summary from today's Times. You owe it yourself and to your country.
What's the Rush?
"Rush is chomping at the bit to get back on the air."— David Limbaugh on his drug addict brother.
It was my understanding that grinding your teeth with a side effect of meth, not Oxy. (That same link lists "incessant talking" as a side effect, so maybe I'm onto something.) Of course, you could fit my drug knowledge in a nickel bag and still have room left over for my knowledge of Physics and car maintanence.
Even more on cupcakes
First Gothamist told us that New York is a Cupcake Town. Then The Curiosity Guild introduced its cute (but totally inedible) crocheted cupcakes to the world.
Sidebar: For all you fans of glossy expertly-manufactured photos of glossy expertly-manufactured pop stars (that means you, Grambo), RS helpfully provides 88 (!) photos of Jessica Simpson, only one of which also features of Swiffer.
Don't Blame me, I voted for Gore
Author/playwright/historian/gadfly (and let's not forget—actor) Gore Vidal is back in America after decades abroad and he talked to The LA Weekly's Marc Cooper in a Q&A about his new book on the founding fathers. Here are some highlights from the interview (amusingly titled Uncensored Gore):
Enron was an eye-opener to naive lovers of modern capitalism. Our accounting brotherhood, in its entirety, turned out to be corrupt, on the take. With the government absolutely colluding with them and not giving a damn.
Bush's friend, old Kenny Lay, is still at large and could just as well start some new company tomorrow. If he hasn't already. No one is punished for squandering the people's money and their pension funds and for wrecking the economy.
So the corruption predicted by Franklin bears its terrible fruit. No one wants to do anything about it. It's not even a campaign issue. Once you have a business community that is so corrupt in a society whose business is business, then what you have is, indeed, despotism. It is the sort of authoritarian rule that the Bush people have given us. The USA PATRIOT Act is as despotic as anything Hitler came up with — even using much of the same language.
So much more to quote, here. But this may be the most salient question of all:
Well, nobody has ever wrecked the Bill of Rights as he has. Other presidents have dodged around it, but no president before this one has so put the Bill of Rights at risk. No one has proposed preemptive war before. And two countries in a row that have done no harm to us have been bombed.
Read all the Gore-y details at The LA Weekly
November 12, 2003
Obligatory Paris Hilton Sex Tape posting
Anyone notice the visual symmetry between the available stills and the cover of Limp Bizkit's new album Results May Vary? Plus, I hear both appeal to the lowest brow tastes of the lowest common denominator. (Whoring for some hits—now that's low, um, culture.)
November 11, 2003
New York's Amazing Feet
Submitted for your approval is the cover of The Nose, issue 26. For those who missed its briefbut greatrun, The Nose was a satirical news and entertainment magazine out of San Francisco. It was sort of like a West Coast version of SPY Magazine, or The Onion, were it more obsessed with conspiracies, porn, cable access shows, and comedians. There's really almost no legacy of The Nose on the Web, but you can check out founding editor Jack Boulware's book, Sex, American Style: An Illustrated Romp Through the Golden Age of Heterosexuality. Oh, and in case you're wondering: smushed under the pump of that amazon woman is the comedian Patton Oswalt, who also wrote the accompanying article about the "giant woman" fetish.
I'll leave it to other, more skilled writers to critique the actual article accompanying the New York cover.
November 10, 2003
Welfare Reform (not circa 1996)
Wow, those writers and editors at the New York Times really have a flair for irony, huh?
How else to explain today's solemn and daring exposé on the manner in which various companies have abused and manipulated public funds to obtain subsidies for various corporate endeavors, largely under the pretext of either retaining or luring jobs to the relevant locality? The Times' article features an illustrative anecdote about United Airlines' usage of subsidies from the state of Indiana to construct a $320 million aircraft maintenance center that has since been abandoned by the airline. Of course, the promise of jobs at this defunct plant has long been abandoned, too.
So, the Times' thesis is pretty clear: Corporate Welfare is Bad. Why, they've been on this issue for years and years, and have even got Op-Ed pieces from way back in 2002 asserting this very same point! Not just any Op-Ed, mind you, but one written by He Who Spoiled Florida for All of Us in 2000.
For what it's worth, if you search the Times' archive for relevant terms, like, say, "corporate welfare" and "New York Times," you most certainly will not find articles like this one in the June 17th, 2002 edition of the Village Voice documenting the Times' own political manipulation and abuse of public subsidies to construct a new office complex for the paper in the heart of the city.
As a consumer of New York media, however, I'm so very glad the city and state of New York was able to pony up the resources to allow us to keep the New York Times here in, well, New York. Because the absurd prospect of the New York Times' relocating to New Jersey or Pennsylvania wasn't absurd enough, I guess.
And United Airlines sure makes a better villain.
You're a lucky mother, Tucker
And now this: today brings news that bow tie-loving conservative commentator Tucker Carlson has been given a new show by PBS scheduled to air sometime in June 2004. According to reports (translation: press releases spun into articles), the still-untitled show will be "a lively discussion of the week's news stories from a wide range of perspectives." So, I'm guessing it's a lot like The Man Show meets This Week... with bow ties. I don't know about you, but I'm setting my TiVo now!
Anyone have any suggestions for titles? I was thinking Nip/Tucker or maybe Tucker MC's Call Me 'Sire' but both sort of suck. Little help? Anyone...
The Miramax Scared Shit List
Poor Elizabeth Wurtzel. According to an article by Thomas Vinciguerra in this week's Times Styles section, the chronically depressed, phantom blow-jobbing author of Prozac Nation finds the film version of her book sitting on a shelf at Miramax headquarters, and it might never see the light of day. The article attempts to tease out exactly why Miramax, the makers of such recent classics as The Battle of Shaker Heights, has not seen fit to release it. What exactly is so bad: the direction? the music? Christina Ricci's first topless scene? Then, we get this:
It seems that once again, Miramax, the baddest bad-ass mofos of the studio-indie world—possessors of uncompromising vision and considerable artistic ambition— are once again cowering in fear of some controversy. Here, for your edification and amusement is a partial list of films Miramax has canned, changed, and put on hold due to various controversies. Call it, The Miramax Scared Shit List:
So, Liz, you should feel like you're in good—or in some cases, mediocre—company in turnaround. Then again, you probably feel good about so little in this world, so you might as well just go on the way you have been.
Sidebar: Vinciguerra's article also offered us a fleeting example of the major difference between a big league film reviewer and a swatter in the minors. Check it out:
Advertisements for my Elf
Remember when Swingers came out and everyone was saying "Vegas, baby" and "You're so money"? It was like screenwriter and star, Jon Favreau and a bunch of his half-cool/half-dorky friends managed to revise the lingua franca through the sheer force of their giddy group love and determination. Swingers was also pretty funny: great riffs on the awkwardness of dating, answering machine etiquette, and the anxious "when will life begin" feeling of being in your mid-twenties. The film also contained some uncomfortably accurate insights into how envy, competition, and loathing factor into even the closest of friendships.
Fans of le savvy Favs were probably pretty surprised to hear that he'd chosen to direct Elf, a saccharine-sweet big budget holiday family film about a human raised by Elves who leaves the North Pole in search of his real father and the true meaning of Christmas. (If that description sounds like a joke, $32 million worth of ticket-buyers all laughed at it this weekend.) But watching both films, it's clear that Swingers and Elf aren't so different: you might even argue, they're the exact same movie.
Looking at Elf this way, it becomes clear that Favreau, despite glaring weaknesses such as his almost religious devotion to Syd Field-type screenplay rules, is a true auteur: he's also a very autobiographical filmmaker. Swingers (directed by Doug Liman), as everyone knows, tells the story of being an ambitious out-of-work actor, unlucky in love and life in Los Angeles. Made tells the story of two friends who've come up together but whose bond begins to fray when one of them (the grating Vince Vaughn) over-reaches in the ambition department and gets them in trouble with some rich, shady people. (Sounds a lot like Hollywood, right?) Elf fits comfortably in there because it's the classic family movie made by a new father. (Since Favreau appears to only be able to make films about the exact place he's at in life, let's hope he and his wife never divorce so we're spared his version of the Paul Masursky/Blake Edwards mid-life crisis comedy.)
Another reason for making Elf may have been the chance to cast people like James Caan and Faizon Love and enable Favreau to further cement his self-appointed role as the ambassador of old and young Hollywood. Week after week on his IFC show Dinner for Five, he plays out the fantasy that he sits (literally and metaphorically) at the head of a raucous inter-generational dinner party wherein he is both a veteran and and a wide-eyed student. (On a related note, Dinner is co-produced by Peter Billingsley, "Ralphie" from the great A Christmas Story, a holiday film that's still funny. And, no: he did not shoot his eye out.) But in the end, the main reason Jon Favreau made Elf goes all the way back to the beginning of his career in the public eye, and it's the most obvious reason of all: he knew it would be, like, money.
November 7, 2003
Fanboy and Zooey
Finally, the higher-ups at the New York Times have put a journalistic restraining order on film critic Elvis Mitchell and his unabashed adoration for Zooey Deschanel, a perpetually rising star who has appeared in films such as Almost Famous and David Gordon Green's elegiac All the Real Girls.
Poor, poor Elvis. The paper has given today's review of the new release Elf to A.O. Scott, so it appears as though readers will miss out on Mitchell's customarily superlative (and well-nigh stalker-esque) praise of Ms. Deschanel.
Here's a sampling of laudatory comments culled from the Mitchell/Deschanel archives:
Elvis reviewing The Good Girl by Miguel Arteta and Mike White:
"Ms. Deschanel, who alone is one of the best reasons to go to the movies these days, takes her few lines and sprinkles them through her scenes like fairy dust. This makes sense, because she's intensely pixilated -- a devil doll with a hunger for mischief."
Elvis reviewing The New Guy:
"The able cast also includes the protean young actress Zooey Deschanel, who has yet to give a bad performance in her brief career, as one of Diz's pals. (She and Mr. Qualls worked together in ''Big Trouble.'')...She's so good that you'll wonder if ''The New Guy'' will stay on her rˇsumˇ as she gets better work."
Elvis reviewing Abandon, the disastrously bad Katie Holmes flick:
"'Abandon' features another score by a winning young actress who seems incapable of making a wrong move. But it's not by the star of the picture. That notable performance comes from the capable Zooey Deschanel playing a supporting role as a pleasure seeker with a quick, unembarrassed smile and a way with a line that takes the sting out of an insult -- almost. She and several other actors almost rescue the meagerly plotted 'Abandon' -- a picture so moody that physicians might want to prescribe Prozac for it."
For all of Mitchell's praise of Ms. Deschanel, we're nonetheless concerned for her well-being. You may be able to take Zooey from Elvis, but you can't take Zooey from the Times' other hot-blooded males:
Here's fourth-tier critic Dave Kehr reviewing Manic:
"'For all of his uncontrollable inner violence, Lyle is attracted to the painfully shy, withdrawn Tracy (the superb Zooey Deschanel)...Ms. Deschanel, in a role filmed before her glowing work in ''The Good Girl'' and ''All the Real Girls,'' is particularly spontaneous, unaffected and emotionally direct."
Oh, and today's review of Elf by A.O. Scott? There's really no escaping the plaudits:
"Cutting through the sugar like a bracing dash of lemon juice is Zooey Deschanel, playing Jovie, an elf-for-hire at Gimbels, where Buddy stumbles into a job. Ms. Deschanel's extra-wide eyes and delicately pointy nose and chin give her face an elfin cast to begin with, and she is as plausible a love interest as a character as fundamentally sexless as Buddy could hope to have. He cheers her up, she calms him down, and together they manage to be sincere, cool and winningly goofy at the same time."
Fanboys abound! Bill Keller, please...bring Janet Maslin back.
Please Stand By
While I'm living without cable or internet access the way God and Bill McKibben intended, you should take time to visit some our Monheit, Jr.-approved links, below. See ya next week, and can someone please tape The Simpsons for me?
[Thanks to D.F. and L.S. for letting me use their house today. Also, you guys, you're like totally out of root beer and Pringles: if you could pick some up on your way home from work, that would be awesome.]
November 6, 2003
Why it's time to consider moving to San Francisco
Despite over-hyped phenomena such as "rocking the vote" and last year's 33-year-old Newark, New Jersey mayoral candidate Cory Booker, it's most certainly not an exciting time to be young and in love with politics.
Unless you live in the Bay Area, where San Francisco's mayoral race has been winnowed down to two candidates, Gavin Newsom, 36, and Matt Gonzalez, 38. From the Los Angeles Times:
"Newsom, a liberal Democrat by the standards of most other cities, has been cast by opponents here as a socialite "Republocrat." He is allied with billionaire Gordon Getty and lives in a multimillion-dollar mansion in Pacific Heights, one of the city's most expensive neighborhoods, with his wife, a prosecutor and CNN commentator who is a former lingerie model.
By contrast, Gonzalez, an arts aficionado and poetry buff, doesn't own a car and rents an apartment in the considerably less fashionable Western Addition neighborhood. Newsom's supporters portray Gonzalez as an ultra-left "cafe brat" whose support won't extend beyond the city's young hipsters."
In any other circumstance, anytime one encounters the word "hipster" in an article about politics, giant warning signs should go off in your head. I mean, it's one thing to write about "Deanie Babies" and "Liebermaniacs," but "hipsters"? Last I checked, Sarah Records was not a political party and The Rapture wasn't running for office on the DFA ticket (and just how many electoral votes are Greenpoint or Silverlake worth, anyway?).
Regardless...this election in "the City by the Bay" is a promising blip on the otherwise shameful map of Californian politics. I'll refrain from commenting on the "lingerie model" and "poetry buff" aspects of this mayoral race, but it's nonetheless heartening to have to choose between voting for a "liberal Democrat" and a Green party candidate with at least a fighting chance.
Then again, this is San Francisco, so I guess it's to be expected.
"The Reality You Have to Produce"
Remember that thick-necked, mouth-breathing jock who stuffed you in your locker every day in high school? Well, he's grown up to become the Secretary of Defense. According to the LA Weekly's eagle-eyed TV columnist, Brendan Bernhard, Donald Rumsfeld was spotted in the stands at the Freestyle World Championships Wrestling at Madison Square Garden. This is what Rummy said when asked by an ESPN2 interviewer if his experience as a wrestler "serve[s] you well in your work every day?":
“It does... First of all, the friendships, the discipline, the reality that you have to produce and make a contribution. So I feel very fortunate that I was able to wrestle for all those years."
Bernhard expresses just the right level of skepticism about that "reality that you have to produce" part.
Earlier: Here's Midge Decter, speaking to The New Yorker's Larissa MacFarquhar about her steamy crush on Rumsfeld: "The key to him is that he is a wrestler. A wrestler is a lone figure. He battles one on one, and he either wins or loses. There is only one man on the mat at the end of a wrestling match. It is no accident, as the communists used to say, that he wrestled.' That, and he can produce reality.
Nouveau or Ancien?
Even as he attempts to spin something new out of forms derived from nature, Patton acknowledges these architects' debts to the past by saying "But because of new materials and aesthetics, these influences are updating the effulgent, botanical shapes of Art Nouveau of a century ago and rethinking the biomorphic sci-fi boomerangs and kidney-shape coffee tables of the mid-20th century." (Italics, mine.)
But what about Berthold Lubetkin's penguin pool at the London Zoo, just a tube ride away from Ross Lovegrove's Notting Hill home office? According to one Web site:
"Lubetkin seems to have seen this building as an opportunity to creatively explore the possibilities of a new building material available in 1934—reinforced concrete. Having studied the habits of penguins he created a penguin enclosure and pool that provides an interesting environment for the penguins, a multiplicity of viewing angles for the spectator and a Modernist building of true clarity and style." (Italics, mine again.)
So, is it a new tendency? Let's let old man Wright have the final word: "Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain." Frank Lloyd Wright, 1869-1959
Finally, a film for the entire family
According to Kevin Roderick on yesterday's LAObserved, Mark Bowden's October Atlantic cover story on torture, The Dark Art of Interrogation, has been optioned by Jerry Weintraub the veteran producer of all three Karate Kid movies and the remake of Ocean's Eleven and its currently in-production sequel. "The idea is to do this as a character-driven, high-stakes, high-tension thriller that focuses on a mano-a-mano battle and test of the wills," according to Mark Vahradian, a top executive at Weintraub's company.
All manner of innovative cruelty is still commonplace, particularly in Central and South America, Africa, and the Middle East. Saddam Hussein's police force burned various marks into the foreheads of thieves and deserters, and routinely sliced tongues out of those whose words offended the state. In Sri Lanka prisoners are hung upside down and burned with hot irons. In China they are beaten with clubs and shocked with cattle prods. In India the police stick pins through the fingernails and fingers of prisoners. Maiming and physical abuse are legal in Somalia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Sudan, and other countries that practice sharia; the hands of thieves are lopped off, and women convicted of adultery may be stoned to death. Governments around the world continue to employ rape and mutilation, and to harm family members, including children, in order to extort confessions or information from those in captivity
I don't know about you, but I'm ready for this movie, like, now. It's got thrills, uplift, and moments of great comic relief. Oh, and if they're putting together a soundtrack, I know a little ditty from the Wu-Tang Clan that works. (Then again, if they really want a soundtrack that screams torture, they could get this guy to do what he did on The Hours.)
November 5, 2003
Different Strokes for Different (Network) Folks
When two seemingly unrelated phenomena occur at the same time, we call it a trend. Used to be three things, but among its many contributions to the culture, Entertainment Weekly lowered the bar to two phenomena.
Oscar winner Mel Gibson has teamed with ABC and Universal Network TV for a family comedy inspired by his life as a father of six boys.
Will the persecution ever stop!?!
Related: Mel Gibson's Jesus Christ Pose by Jessica Winter
"No Comment! Aww, heck. Who am I kidding? We always comment."
PARIS Hilton - who has already weathered the worldwide circulation of a graphic photo of her exiting a car minus her panties - is now starring in an amateur porno, a la Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee. The video, shot three years ago, features the hot-blooded hotel heiress and Shannen Doherty's husband, Rick Solomon, in a variety of X-rated activities. Doherty and Solomon split up after the tape was made, but have since reconciled. Hilton "keeps staring into the camera and trying to show her best side," said a source. "She knows she is being taped and [Solomon] keeps trying to get her into sex positions that are better for taping, if you know what I mean." An anonymous donor, who may be planning to sell the tape over the Internet, dropped off copies to media people. A rep for Hilton said: "This was something she did with Rick while they were dating, after he was no longer with Shannen, and it was something that was intended for their own personal use. This tape was never intended to be viewed by the public and it is in poor taste that someone has decided to release it."
If only Fleischer had been this honest. ("There are no W.M.D. The President said that for his own personal use...")
Blogmore Academy Class of 2003
November 4, 2003
God's Omnipotent Smite List (1st edition)
For a few weeks now, we've quietly had God working for us as an unpaid intern, and He has for the most part been occupying Himself with support-related tasks around the office, such as dusting Jean-Paul's various Edward Said and Ryan McGinness books, and helping Matt categorize his Us Weekly collection into the Bonnie Fuller and Janice Min eras (there is, in fact, a striking difference between the two reigns, He insists).
But events which have occurred over the past few days seem to have angered Him, such that He has been glowering around the workplace and approaching his assigned task of downloading Tracy Morgan MPGs with much less zeal than we have become accustomed to seeing in His endeavors. So, as a gesture of appreciation for all His hard work (not to mention creating us in His image!), we asked if He would care to voice his thoughts to the low culture readership. In a booming and thunderous voice that very likely disturbed our upstairs neighbors at Nerve.com, He subsequently presented us with what he called His "Smite List", which we have chosen to run in an edited form, despite His protests.
Thee Who Shalt be Smitten
1. CBS President Les Moonves, for not having the compunction to resist those who would claim to speak on My behalf, but who were in reality a small minority of vocal, churchgoing conservative right-wingers who threatened to boycott watching rewarding family programs such as "Survivor: Pearl Islands".
2. Iraqi Coalition Provisional Authority head, L. Paul Bremer, for imposing a ruthlessly unjust flat-tax system on his new American colony. I have been monitoring "conservative wet dreams" such as this for some time now, Paul, and don't think I don't know about that copy of Forbes magazine and the box of Kleenex situated next to your king-sized bed in Saddam Hussein's former palace in Baghdad.
3. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, for not yet adequately supporting the ascension of My very first openly gay bishop. While I am unsure whether I am technically on record as being for or against homosexuality, I would like to think that as a fair and just God, I shall come down on the side of tolerance for gays, just this once.
Beards on you, Gerhard!
When exactly did VICE become the new Brill's Content?
Younger readers of low culture might not remember Content, the sprightly, engaging, wildly popular magazine of media criticism from the friendliest suspenders aficionado since Mork came from Ork.
The VICE/Content overlap first occurred to me when Gavin McInnes wrote to Gawker to explain how The New York Times did him wrong in a Style section profile. His typically all-over-the-place prose was littered with the sort of righteous resentment found in many a Content piece:
Reading the new issue ("The Mistakes Issue"—is there any other kind?), I found several instances of meta-media critiques filling the spaces usually occupied by peans to butt-sex and video games. We get a response to a letter on the letters page that reads:
Then there's an extremely long (almost Brillsian length) article on "Scary" Perry Caravello that becomes a drawn-out examination of journalist-subject collusion and the anxiety of being "scooped" by Page Six. Then there's a fashion spread called Dear Anna Wintour: You Are Wrong that features plus-sized models.
Not really the sort of thing you'd expect from a magazine mostly read by 16 year-old skateboarders. Let's hope VICE doesn't go the way of Brill's Content, mostly because I can't stand the thought of Gavin writing a highly acclaimed book about 9/11 and going into the airport security business.
November 3, 2003
Like Fallin' Off a Log
It's been about two weeks since Amazon introduced its "Search Inside the Book" function, and already, we're witnessing a change in journalism. Take, for example, this unsigned New York Times Week in Review piece that wrote itself simply by going to Amazon and typing in Santa+Ana+winds.
Exclusive: Sydney runs the city
low culture put in a bid for the exclusive rights to Sean P. Diddy Comb's ING New York City Marathon diary, but we lost it to The New York Post, which apparently offered Diddy more exposure and lighter editing. In lieu of the hip-hop/fashion mogul, our correspondent MATT SLONIM took dictation for the marathon diary of Sydney Goldfarb, an importer-exporter from New York's Upper West Side who ran beside Diddy for 18 of the 26.2 miles of the marathon.
Make our "team" part of your "team"