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  February 27, 2004
When talking points collide

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As German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder met with President Bush at the White House today (both men presumably enduring the event with forced smiles and pseudo-affable buddy posturing), Number 43 let fly with a puzzling new iteration of one of his trademarked "Bushisms" as the two leaders discussed that whole war/crisis thing going on in the Middle East -- specifically, the potential for democracy to flourish in the region.

"Bush and Schroeder also talked about the Middle East, with Bush stressing the need to put democratic institutions in place 'that survive the whims of men and women.'

He didn't offer specifics about what that meant, but repeated his belief that democracy and freedom can help stem terrorism."

At the tail end, there, the AP's Jennifer Loven was thoughtful enough to remind readers of the confusing tenor of the President's remarks, but, in true objective journalistic fashion, neglected to take the opportunity to provide the most likely interpretation: his remarkable ability to stay on message all week long!

Of course, Bush seemed to have forgotten which event this was, and that he had already proposed his "marriage as a union of a man and woman" constitutional amendment earlier in the week, and that today's particular remarks should have instead featured the President making the usual hyperbolic proclamations about making the world safe again.

Presumably, even, for homos, though we can forgive Bush for mixing up his discussions of conservative minority-as-majority regimes.

Posted at 2:44 PM in a Grave fashion.
Slipped Right Through His Fingers

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Mike Tyson, London, July 21, 1989, Courtesy: The Ring Magazine. (From Boxer)

"Bankrupt boxer Mike Tyson is financially down for the count, saying things have gotten so bad that he's struggling just to put food on the table."
BROKE TYSON: I'LL FIGHT FOR FOOD, by Adam Miller, The New York Post, Feb. 27, 2004

Whenever I read about Mike Tyson's travails—rape convictions, ear-biting, arguments with reporters, acrimonious divorces, fist-fights in a Brooklyn hotel, facial tattoos, bankruptcy—I always think of the scene in Barbara Kopple's phenomenal, empathic 1993 documentary Fallen Champ in which Tyson, age 15, has a breakdown between bouts at the 1982 National Junior Olympics in Colorado and sobs to his trainer Teddy Atlas:

"It’s all right now… I’m Mike Tyson… everybody likes me, yes, everybody likes me… I’ve come a long way, I’m a fighter now, I’m Mike Tyson."

Just beneath the tabloid spectacle of Tyson's public decline is a very real tragedy. Unfortunately, Tyson is such an unsympathetic figure that it's hard to feel bad for the guy. Sadly, his story's gonna get a lot worse before it ends.

Posted at 9:18 AM in a Shallow fashion.
I disliked Big Fish, too, but I wouldn't call it 'crud' (Or 'Enthralling,' actually)

"Billy Crudup, who starred in Big Fish, has managed to make crud enthralling."

Unabashed Stars Break the Shackles of the Name Game, by Virginia (insert your own lame joke about my last name) Heffernan, The New York Times, Feb. 27, 2004.

Posted at 8:26 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  February 26, 2004
Absolutely Our Last Passion-Related Post (Today)

The early reviews are in:
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'Jews Killed Jesus' Sign Causing Controversy: Pastor Refuses To Remove Or Change Saying On Outdoor Marquee, ABC News, Denver

[Thanks, Krusty!]

Posted at 5:31 PM in a Shallow fashion.
We hates the U.N....NO! We loves the U.N.!

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from Reuters: Britain, Russia sweat as secret operations exposed

The British government was rocked by allegations by a former cabinet minister that it spied on United Nations chief Kofi Annan in the run-up to the Iraq war last year.

Posted at 5:22 PM in a Grave fashion.
"Huzzah," He Lied

How do you know a publicist is lying? His lips are moving.

Check out this hilariously deluded comment from Mel Gibson's PR man, Alan Nierob (whom we're told is "himself the child of Holocaust survivors"), in Sharon Waxman's New Film May Harm Gibson's Career (The New York Times, Feb. 26, 2004):

"I think Hollywood appreciates good art and will embrace the talent of a filmmaker."

C'mon, Alan! Even you can't believe that.

Posted at 3:29 PM in a Shallow fashion.
Lewis Black Can't Lose (Actually, he has. And he's still pissed.)

Lblack.jpgIf you thought Lewis Black was just that overly-caffeinated, disheveled comedian who does Back in Black on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, swing on by The LA Weekly to learn about his early career as a playwright. (In Love, Pissed, by David Shulman).

Like any writer, Black's got a little creation myth about the moment he was first prompted to put pen to paper. Like his comedy, it's half bitter, half funny as hell:

“I’d been living with an actress... And she went over and did a major motion picture in England. We’d been together three years, and now we were in Skid Mode. So she goes over there [England], and I don’t hear from her until she calls me up and tells me she’s met the man she’s going to marry. And I’m like, Are you out of your fucking mind? Because this is a girl without a mainstream romantic bone in her body. Less than a year later, she’s marrying the guy. All my friends went to the wedding. And I didn’t... I really loved her family. We got along really well, and I heard that all the family talked about at the wedding was me, and how they couldn’t believe she was marrying this other guy. So all I did was go, Wow — what if I had shown up? And that was really what the play became about.”

His lose is the audience's gain, I guess.

Black's show, One Slight Hitch, is playing now at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank.

Posted at 12:22 PM in a Shallow fashion.
S-I-T-C-O-M Men

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Method Man and Redman: The New Face of FOX?

The mainstreaming of Method Man and Redman continues with the announcement that the rappers will star in a new sitcom for FOX. (Fox Parties with Boyz N' the Gated Hood, Hollywood Reporter, Cynthia Littleton and Nellie Andreeva).

Setting aside for the moment the awful, dated headline, here's the story of the show's premise:

The untitled Method Man/Redman project, now in production in New Jersey, is one of the heat-seekers on Fox's comedy development slate this year... The project, described as a kind of edgier take on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" theme, was the brainchild of Method Man, the Wu-Tang Clan member who figured that his idea for a TV series couldn't be any worse than a lot of the stuff he has seen in primetime in recent years.

I'll withhold my judgment until I see it, mostly because Method Man is so fucking awesome. I still listen to Tical all the time and whenever I hear Meph's growling, blunt-smoking frogman voice on a Wu-Tang album or side project (his verse on Raekwon's "Ice Cream" is a classic), I marvel at just what an amazing MC he is.

Redman's pretty great, too: Dare Iz A Darkside is the rare CD that holds up ten years after its release. And Redman's sense of humor is evident in some of his more playful rhymes.

I've never seen How High, but I know from their videos and their short-lived Right Guard commercials that Method Man and Redman have great comic chemistry. (Maybe not the best taste in material, as a series of deodorant commercials suggests, but hey, they've got kids and college is expensive.)

It's also interesting to see how the mainstream uses—and is used—by edgy rappers. Snoop Dogg set the template for transforming a frightening rap persona into a cuddly pose. (Even your mom says "Fo' Shizzle" nowadays.) Ice Cube is following suit with Barbershop and Barbershop 2: Back in Business. By this time next year, Method Man and Redman may be trading small talk with Regis and Kelly: time will only tell.

It'll be interesting to see how this show is positioned by FOX. Can they make it into another Bernie Mac Show or will they drop the ball like they did with Cedric the Entertainer?

[via TV Tattle]

Posted at 10:45 AM in a Shallow fashion.
Kael, Kael, Spin, Spin

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Pauline Kael and Shane Black: The Beautiful and the Damned

Shane Black, the poster boy for overpaid Hollywood hacks, is set to write and direct his first film for producer Joel Silver. According to Done Deal, the specifics are as follows:
Title: Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang
Log line: A thief posing as an actor teams up with a tough-guy private eye and a frustrated actress. The three stumble upon a murder.
Writer: Shane Black
Agent: David Greenblatt at the Endeavor Agency
Buyer: Warner Bros. Pictures
Price: n/a
Genre: Action Comedy
Logged: 2/25/04
More: Joel Silver’s Silver Pictures will produce. Shane Black will make his feature directing debut. Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer and Michelle Monaghan will star.

Sounds like another classic Black film, fitting somewhere between The Last Boy Scout (a tough-guy private eye and a frustrated ex-quarterback try to solve a murder) and The Long Kiss Goodnight (a tough-broad former secret agent turned amnesiac mom and a frustrated detective try to solve the mystery of her past).

What bothers me is the title, which is boosted Pauline Kael's second book of movie reviews. Kael explained her title this way:

The words "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," which I saw on an Italian movie poster, are perhaps the briefest statement imaginable of the basic appeal of movies. This appeal is what attracts us, and ultimately what makes us despair when we begin to understand how seldom movies are more than this.
(From Spicy Quotes)

One of Hollywood's highest paid, most notoriously mediocre screenwriters lifting a title from the most respected film critic of all time? Not cool. Not even a little ironic.

Also, done, done, done, and done before.

Since she was smarter than I'll ever be, I'll give Pauline the last word, with this sideswipe at Black and Silver's Lethal Weapon, by way of complimenting Jonathan Demme:

"Sometimes movies which you would think would be big box-office successes just don't attract the wide audiences, either because of the way they're promoted or because the audience is just drawn to Terminator and Lethal Weapon and doesn't relate to the nuances of something like Married to the Mob or The Fabulous Baker Boys."
(Kael on Demme)

Posted at 8:54 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  February 25, 2004
Confidential to Dennis Miller: "Paki" is a racial slur

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Pre-commercial bumper on Dennis Miller, CNBC, Feb. 25, 2004.*

"'Paki' is an extreme racial slur used to refer to people of South Asian origin. It is a South Asian equivalent of the term 'Jap' or the 'N word.' President Bush apologized after using the word last year at a press conference."
(From, an open letter from the Asian American Journalists Association, March 4, 2003)

"Paki" is listed in The Racial Slur Database

To do: Send email to Dennis Miller to express your disapproval of racial slurs on television.


*Weird angle and TV screen-within-screen is the style of the bumper, not the screen shot

Posted at 10:08 PM in a Grave fashion.
Man on the Cross Street (Passion Survey #1)

We interviewed a completely random selection of movie goers exiting the 12PM screening of The Passion of the Christ at the Jerusalem Multiplex 16 to get their opinions on this controversial film.

"I found it hard to watch... for obvious reasons. What did I ever do to Mel Gibson?"
"Um, it didn't end that way. I came back, you know."
"Me? I don't really remember much of the film. I tried to buy a diet Coke before it started, and they were all charging $4.50, and I'm all, 'Fuck that!' and got this free cup of tap water instead, which I immediately turned into el vino and promptly got wasted off my ass, sitting in the back of the theater...Jerusalem in the hoooouuuuuse!"
"The third act...was excruciating. It was painful to watch, outright unbearable."
"I liked the first half hour. The rest reminded me of stuff I'd rather forget."
"I hate to quibble since he got so much right. But Roman Soldier #6 wasn't such a jerk to me. He actually gave me a stick of gum, which was nice."
"Pshaw! Like I ever knew a girl as hot as Monica Bellucci!"
"I didn't get to see the film...they had a 'No Pets' policy in the theater. They wanted me to sacrifice my lamb's movie going experience, and I said, 'No!...C'mon, he's not so baaaaaaaaaaaad.' Ha! Get it? I make jokes sometimes, you know."
Posted at 3:47 PM in a Satirical, Shallow fashion.
Mensch on the Street (Passion Survey #2)

We interviewed a completely random selection of movie goers exiting the 12PM screening of The Passion of the Christ in Brooklyn to get their opinions on this controversial film.

hasidic_01.gif "I didn't see it. I was here to see Welcome to Mooseport, which, incidentally, is a little anti-Semitic. But I still love Raymond!"
hasidic_02.gif "If I could say just one thing to Mr. Gibson, it would be 'Can you read my comedy script about a Hasidic Jewish crime fighter?' What? Someone already made that movie? Well, there goes my last six months."
hasidic_13.gif "I'm shocked. Disgusted. This place charges $4.50 for a small Diet Coke. I brought my four young children and it cost me $85 dollars. Very offensive. Very."
hasidic_05.gif "You'd think with everyone in Hollywood studying the Kabbalah, they'd be a little more sensitive. Mel should spend more time with Madonna and Paris Hilton: he might learn some wisdom and compassion. Ha! I'm joking. Some of us have senses of humor, you know."
hasidic_06.gif "Well, it was a lot less offensive to the Jews than the last Woody Allen film. Anything Else? I called it 'From Hunger'."
hasidic_07.gif "Yes, it was extremely anti-Semitic. But what movie is perfect, right?"
hasidic_09.gif "Critics need to lay off Mel Gibson. This was just one man's opinion. One man with $25 million to spend on production and another $25 million for promotions to tell it. Like I said, just one man and his opinion."
hasidic_16.gif "Loved it. Loved, loved, loved it! My name is Self-Hater I. Jewman, by the way."
Posted at 2:19 PM in a Satirical, Shallow fashion.
Talking Pod's Memo

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Johnny on the Spot: 9 PM, via satellite... 11PM, live and in the flesh

Right wing relaxed fit Beltway pundit, John Podhoretz made a comedians-turned-pundits bank shot by appearing on Dennis Miller's eponymous CNBC show and Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night. He managed to trade quips with both men without breaking a sweat or changing his flattering grey suit with matching blue shirt and yellow tie (in honor of the troops?).

What he didn't manage to do, however, was come up with enough material for both shows. While promoting his new book Bush Country (the title of which is a deliciously naughty mnemonic tautology), he dusted off a few choice chestnuts. Very few.

From, Dennis Miller, 9PM EST, Feb. 24, 2004:

Dennis Miller: Gimme three or four the most crazy liberal ideas about our President.

John Podhoretz: Well, I think I got eight of them in the book. One of them, of course, is that he's an idiot—which I think that anyone who believes by now is an idiot because he keeps de-pantsing people who underestimate him... The other is that he's a puppet of his dad, uh, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, the neo-conservatives—no one can decide who he's a puppet of because he's not a puppet, he's his own man... Liberals think that he's a religious fanatic... [They] say he's a cowboy... These are some of ways he's mischaracterized, misrepresented.

From, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, 11PM EST, Feb. 24, 2004:

John Podhoretz: I do believe that a lot of people who criticize the President do criticize him in a reckless and irresponsible and unfair fashion. As you mentioned, I go through the book, eight, what I call 'Crazy Liberal Ideas About Bush.' One that's he's a moron, one that he's a puppet, one that he's a religious fanatic, one that he's like Hitler, and so on...

Repeat it one more time, and Beetlejuice will appear!

Posted at 1:52 PM in a Grave fashion.
They Found It At the Movies

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Esquire, August 1970

"In his prerelease screenings, Mr. Gibson invited mostly conservative evangelical clergy. They in turn responded by reserving huge blocks of movie tickets for their congregations. When the film opens today, expect theaters around the country to be turned into temporary churches."
- Kenneth L. Woodward, Do You Recognize This Jesus?, The New York Times, Feb. 25, 2004

Posted at 12:46 PM in a Shallow fashion.
Other Recently Proposed Constitutional Amendments

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Dogs Constitutionally- recognized as better than cats

No more special treatment for Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate

Paul made the Constitutionally- recognized best Beatle

Infield Fly Rule unilaterally banned

Lefties to be forced to become righties, or be burned at the stake

Discussions about the weather in elevators no longer protected by First Amendment

Super intelligent robots, should they be invented, never to be endowed with human emotions under penalty of being unplugged

Posted at 8:24 AM in a Grave, Satirical fashion.
  February 24, 2004
About Face

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[Thanks, Dave, who waited two weeks for this joke.]

Posted at 3:04 PM in a Grave, Satirical fashion.
Co-opting the Friedman

friedman.jpgThe pissing contest between FOX 411 gossip columnist Roger Friedman and The New York Times' Hollywood reporter Sharon Waxman has spilled over into Cynthia Cotts' Press Clips column in this week's Village Voice.

To be honest, Friedman's doing most of the pissing, complaining that Waxman is boosting his exclusives without attribution. He complained to Times Public Editor, Daniel Okrent, who decided that Waxman had done nothing wrong.

Buried at the bottom of Cotts' story is this nugget:

Sometimes Friedman gets it right. But anyone who starts crowing about inaccurate and unethical reporting will eventually have the spotlight turned on himself. Other scribes express varying degrees of affection and pity for Friedman. One calls him "marginal, with delusions of grandeur"; another says he wants "to be respected."
[...]
The worst rap on Friedman is that he shills for Miramax, a charge he denies. He edited an Oscar supplement for Talk magazine in 2000, and Miramax backed the 2003 r&b documentary Only the Strong Survive, which Friedman co-produced. Colleagues say his column often repeats Miramax spin.

Reminds me of this passage from Peter Biskind's Down and Dirty Pictures:

"The most notorious example [of Harvey Weinstein manipulating the press] is Roger Friedman, who often uses his Internet gossip column, 411, to tout (and very occasionally knock) Miramax films. Says [former Miramax publicist Dennis] Higgins, 'There's no one in the pocket like Roger. It's almost, "Whaddya want him to write?" We [even] got him to say The Shipping News is great.'" (p. 410)

Perhaps fittingly, Waxman writes today about factual inaccuracies in Capturing the Friedmans.

Posted at 1:49 PM in a Shallow fashion.
Amending prior amendments (Amended)

As expected, President Bush (decked out in full white-male, closed-minded power-broking asshole regalia) came out in support of a constitutional amendment today which would aim to specifically ban same-sex marriages, ostensibly in an attempt to "prevent the meaning of marriage from being changed forever" after the occurrence of events in California, Massachusetts and New Mexico which have indicated that "a few judges and local authorities are presuming to change the most fundamental institution of civilization."

That fundamental institution, of course, is the ability of one man and one woman to marry. Historians familiar with the establishment of religion, the writing of the Magna Carta, the dawn of the Age of Enlightenment, and the onset of the American Revolution know this firsthand: these events were each based primarily upon the ability of men and women to wed, and were in no way grounded upon issues of individuality or self-respect or self-governance or human and civil rights. Right? Oh, I'm sorry, I was reading from the rightwing playbook there for a moment.

Back to that most fundamental of institutions, marriage...

Bush went on to explain, "Our government should respect every person and protect the institution of marriage. There is not a contradiction between these responsibilities."

Hmmm...let's take a look at the current Bill of Rights and the other extant amendments to the current United States Constitution. I think I see some of these potential "contradictions," to say the least, despite President Bush's reassuring words to the contrary...

Article IX. The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Article X. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Article XIV. Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

If, in some burst of mass hysteria and irrationality on the part of our legislative body, this proposed 28th Amendment is passed, we can hopefully look forward to the eventual and subsequent passage of Article XXIX, which, in the tradition of Article XXI, would state, "Section 1. The twenty-eighth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed."

At which point the U.S. Constitution will be nothing more than a cheapened document, comprised of little more than the expression of a series of conflicting values, borne of an "issues of the moment" ideology.

RELATED: Immigrating To Canada - Resources For Moving To Canada

Posted at 12:01 PM in a Grave fashion.
Doll (Private) Parts

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"With Karen's face obscured, it became hard to tell whether she was real or not."

Disclaimer: The link to this story is absolutely not safe for work! (Especially if you work at a toy store.)

Grant Stoddard, Nerve's jolly human guinea pig, makes love to a Real Doll in his "I Did it For Science" column month.

The photos are way disturbing, especially the fact that the doll looks so much like Britney Spears.

Can't they make a doll whose eyes close when it's horizontal, like those dolls kids play with?

Posted at 11:08 AM in a Shallow fashion.
Dirty Dancing: Rewrites

ddancing.jpgA riddle for the ages: How many screenwriters does it take to make a hit?

Apparently eight. Coming this Friday, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, written by:

1. Victoria Arch
2. Ronald Bass (writer of every movie, ever; cf. Tad Friend's "The Two-Billion Dollar Man," in Lost in Mongolia)
3. Jonathan Bernstein (former SPIN writer and author)
4. Mark Blackwell (former SPIN editor)
5. Pamela Gray
6. James Greer (former SPIN editor and author)
7. Christina Wayne (writer, Dominique Dunne - An American Tragedy: The E! True Hollywood Story)
8. Boaz Yakin (once promising writer/director of Fresh, more recently, director of Uptown Girls)

Can't you just see them all in one big room, laptops networked together, ideas flying left and right? Teamwork: it's a beautiful thing.

Of course, all of them combined couldn't come up with a line as quotable as "Nobody puts Baby in a corner!"

Posted at 9:42 AM in a Shallow fashion.
Collect 'Em All!

The New York Post's The Passion of The Christ Collector's Edition Covers:

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Related: Coming soon, Mad Max: Fury Road, to be produced by Mel Gibson's Icon Productions and released by 20th Century Fox.

Posted at 8:22 AM in a Shallow fashion.
Brett Ratner, Character Witness

Brett Ratner talking about Michael Jackson's underage accuser:

"[The boy] would sit in my director's chair. When I told him to get up, he'd tell me to go to hell... He used to tell me, 'Brett, I don't like the last shot' while he was watching us make the movie. He's telling me how to make my movie! He's more street smart than I was at that age. If someone tried to fondle him, he'd punch them in the face. He's an adult. I think the jury will see that." (From Roger Friedman's FOX 411 column, Feb. 24, 2004)

So the kid thought Ratner couldn't make a movie? He's obviously a child prodigy. From this point forth, I believe everything he has to say.

Posted at 7:45 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  February 23, 2004
There are two things wrong with this picture

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ANSWER KEY:

1. The bus in the center, presumably destroyed by a suicide bomber, much like yesterday's blast which killed 8 people and injured scores more.

2. The wall itself, a 24-foot-high concrete monstrosity subject to review by an international tribunal at the Hague today to debate the "legality" of the wall, a gargantuan construction which certainly plays no part in dehumanizing Palestinians, but instead provides security for Israelis and prevents suicide bomber attacks (See answer key item #1, step, and repeat).

Posted at 6:15 PM in a Grave fashion.
Drive, He Spanked

Driver nabbed while watching porn movie

ALBANY, N.Y., Feb 20 (Reuters) — Andre Gainey found out the hard way that in the state of New York it's illegal to drive while watching porn.

Police said the 35-year old man from Clifton Park, New York, was watching a adult movie called "Chocolate Foam" on Tuesday night while driving his Mercedes Benz in the town of Schenectady when he was spotted by an officer at a stop light...

[Courtesy of the brilliant Javier, who very rightly wondered why we needed to know the video's title.]

Posted at 6:03 PM in a Shallow fashion.
"Why Are You So Awesome?"

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Chris Farley and Martin Scorsese

Remember the old SNL skit where Chris Farley (R.I.P.) had his own talk show? If Chris had had a better vocabulary, it might've been a lot like this: The Business: Kevin Smith interviews Tom Cruise. (Arena, Feb. 2004)


[via GreenCine Daily]

Posted at 4:09 PM in a Shallow fashion.
Weather Report from Hell: Temperatures dipping below 0°

Holy fucking shit: Noam Chomsky wrote an Op-Ed in today's New York Times: A Wall as a Weapon.

Related: Pigs Fly; Lion Lays Down with Lamb.

Posted at 1:39 PM in a Grave fashion.
Another slow news week

fired.jpg"Since we know you're wondering, let the record show that every weirdly combed follicle you see is his. Trump swoops up his bangs to prove it. "I don't say my hair is my greatest strength in the world, but it's not terrible," he says, though perhaps it would look better if someone other than his girlfriend cut it," The World According to Trump, by Keith Naughton and Marc Peyser, Newsweek, Feb. 23, 2004

Related: "The numbers are stark and staggering. In the past three years, 232,400 jobs have been lost in the city. Every employment category except health care and teaching and educational services has taken a brutal hit... And the jobs could be gone forever," Where Have All The Jobs Gone?, by William Sherman, New York Daily News, Feb. 23, 2004.

Posted at 8:39 AM in a Shallow fashion.
Suggested themes to avoid at NYC's 2004 Republican National Convention

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Actual waste products

As Ed Gillespie, Karl Rove, et al prepare for this fall's upcoming Republican National Convention in Manhattan, we thought it wise to advise the party's pollsters to not have President Bush's chief economist N. Gregory Mankiw give one of his customarily rousing speeches about economic populism, which, in the past, have gone something like this:

Outsourcing jobs overseas is "probably a plus for the economy in the long run...outsourcing is just a new way of doing international trade. More things are tradable than were tradable in the past. And that's a good thing."

Perhaps Gillespie and Rove might consider having Pennsylvania State Legislator Frank LaGrotta speak:

"I wonder if George Bush believes this. I doubt it, I tell myself. George Bush is a 'compassionate conservative.'

Compassion: A feeling of empathy, concern, care...

Outsourcing: Treats working Americans like waste products of a Robin-Hood-in-reverse strategy to rob from the poor and give to the rich."

OK, scratch LaGrotta, too. Better to avoid the topic entirely and stick to "safe" themes, like recalling how close Madison Square Garden is to Ground Zero.

Posted at 12:08 AM in a Grave fashion.
  February 22, 2004
Uh-oh. Four more years! Four more years!

From the February 22, 2004 Washington Post:

Edwards, Kerry Were Barely Solvent Last Month

New campaign finance reports show that the two leading candidates for the Democratic nomination were barely solvent at the end of January heading into a prospective $50 million-plus ad blitz by President Bush.

Bush ended January with $104.4 million in the bank, nearly 100 times as much as the net balances of Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), the Democratic front-runner, and Sen. John Edwards (N.C.), Kerry's leading challenger for the nomination.

"We will never catch up," said Michael Meehan, Kerry's spokesman, noting that so far in February, Kerry had raised $5 million.

Posted at 6:18 PM in a Grave fashion.
We've Met Before, Right? You looked different then.

wiredzippies.jpg "'The Zippies Are Here,' declared the Indian weekly magazine Outlook. Zippies are this huge cohort of Indian youth who are the first to come of age since India shifted away from socialism and dived headfirst into global trade, the information revolution and turning itself into the world's service center." — Thomas L. Friedman, Meet the Zippies, The New York Times, Feb. 22, 2004.

"What we have here is a major player in the premillennial cultural meme pool, and a loose-knit movement of folks who aim to change the world—while having the best time of their lives. Cyber-crusties, techno-hippies, post-ravers—the British media have tried pinning various compound names to its members... But one name stands out, maybe because it was designed to. And for the moment it's sticking: zippies. It stands for Zen-inspired professional pagans..."Zippies!, by Jules Marshall, Wired, May 1994.

Related: Zippy the Pinhead

Posted at 5:16 PM in a Shallow fashion.
Spot Bush, R.I.P.

spotty.jpg

A Dog's Life Remembered: Spot Is Dead At Age 14

Posted at 11:03 AM in a Grave fashion.
  February 21, 2004
The big difference between foreign and American films

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Good Bye, Lenin! (2003)... The Battle of Shaker Heights (2003)

Posted at 11:56 AM in a Shallow fashion.
Jean Rouch, 1918-2004

rouch.jpgJean Rouch, an Ethnologist and Filmmaker, Dies at 86, by Alan Riding, The New York Times, Feb. 20, 2004:

"Jean Rouch, a French explorer, ethnologist and film director who played a significant role in forging the cinŽma-vŽritŽ style, died on Wednesday night in a car crash in the west central African nation of Niger, the French Embassy there said. He was 86.

"Mr. Rouch (pronounced roosh) was attending a film festival in Niger, where he first worked as a civil engineer more than 60 years ago. Reuters reported from Niamey, the Niger capital, that Mr. Rouch's wife, Jocylene Lamothe, the Niger filmmaker Moustapha Alassane and a Niger actor, DamourŽ Zika, were also injured in the accident."

I still remember how uncomfortable I felt watching Les Maîtres fous (The Mad Masters, 1955) in college. The images of Hauka priests undergoing spirit possession were terrifying but also sort of funny and strange. The film provoked a heated discussion: Was it racist? Was it anti-Colonialist?

The participants in the ritual were imitating—parodying, actually—the personalities of their colonial occupiers. According to Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell's Film History: An Introduction, "By day the cultists are dockers and cattle herders, but at the ritual, one becomes an army captain, another the governor, a third an elegant French lady. Rouch's doctoral thesis argued that in parodying their rulers, the Hauka release their feelings of imperialist oppression. 'The violent play,' the film's commentary warns, is only the reflection of our civilization.'"

This is very different from most depictions of Africa during that era in documentaries like Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi's Africa Addio (Goodbye, Africa, 1966), which I wrote about last year. Jacopetti and Prosperi used shock and terror to frame Africans: their sympathies are clearly not with their subjects or Africa.

Rouch was different. As Daniel Pinchbeck (Out of Africa, Art Forum International, Oct. 2000) writes:

"Les Maîtres fous has been called the greatest anticolonialist movie ever made, yet when Rouch first showed a silent version of it in Paris, Griaule, among others, asked that he destroy it. They feared the film would confirm every stereotype held by Westerners about 'savages.' In response to their criticisms, Rouch recorded a voice-over narration that adds humor and humanity to the spectacle. To this day, fearing misunderstandings, he does not allow the film to be shown to the general public unless he is in attendance. Perhaps because of such fears, his works are largely unavailable on videotape."

(A slightly more contemporary American analog would be Jennie Livingston's Paris is Burning (1990) in which gay African American and Latino men perform in voguing competitions by vamping down the runway parodying the businessmen and rich people the world will never let them be.)

Rouch is one of those influential filmmakers who's slipped through the cracks. His films—particularly Moi un noir (Me, a Black Man, 1959)—influenced the French New Wave and the cinŽma vŽritŽ movements. Unfortunately, his work is hard to come by outside of academic conferences, but perhaps they will find their way to DVD in the future.

Also worth seeing is Manthia Diawara's Rouch in Reverse, which takes on the filmmaker's work from an African's standpoint.

Posted at 11:00 AM in a Shallow fashion.
They're so cute when they're little

I know what you're thinking: How will you live without Sex and the City?

Better, probably. And with more laughs, too. But for those of you who can't get enough of SaTC and want more than the easy to swallow (har har) half-hour doses you get on cable, you can start waiting on line now for the big screen version. (As if each episode didn't already feel two hours long.)

In the meantime, print out these photos and place them in your wallet if you love the show so much.


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Sarah Jessica Parker on Square Pegs

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Cynthia Nixon in Little Darlings

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Kim Cattrall in Porky's

Not Pictured: Kristin Davis, who was born fully-grown.

Posted at 12:31 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  February 20, 2004
Pink: Road Warrior

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Pink kicks off her European tour... Wez kicks ass in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior

Posted at 10:44 AM in a Shallow fashion.
Lords of the Bling

jarule.jpgI'm just as surprised as you are that one of the most incisive critiques of hip hop capitalism would come from MAD Magazine, but it's a crazy world, right?

On newsstands this month, The Lords of the Bling movie poster. I was sad that there wasn't room for Farnsworth Bentley as Samwise Gamgee ("Mr. Diddy, look out for that giant spider!"), but it's pretty perfect as it is.

Related: Black Book has Jay-Z on the cover of it's special "Bourgeois" issue, also out this month. (Coincidentally, Hova's upcoming MTV books/Pocket Books memoir is also titled Black Book.)



Posted at 9:22 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  February 19, 2004
Slow News Week

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Posted at 5:06 PM in a Satirical, Shallow fashion.
2004 is shaping up to be a funny year

David Gest and Diana Ross may marry - reports

In related news: Writing Staff of Saturday Night Live Experiences Collective Spontaneous Orgasms During Idea Session

UPDATE: ROSS: I'M NOT GEST'S FIANCÉE, New York Post, Feb. 20, 2004. Sad.

Posted at 1:38 PM in a Shallow fashion.
A Billion Points of Light

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As seen in The New York Times: Billionaires for Bush. Finally, a charity I can support without feeling guilty.

[via Wonkette]

Posted at 11:37 AM in a Grave fashion.
The (Former) Sorcerer's Apprentice's Apprentice

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America, you're gonna love the little midget!

Michael Eisner's month just got a little worse, but every bad comedy writers' has just gotten better: Jeffrey Katzenberg may star in a Los Angeles-based version of The Apprentice for CBS.

That should bring some seriousness and dignity to DreamWorks after this week's release of Euro Trip.

Two words, Jeff: Project Greenlight.

[via TV Tattle]

Posted at 11:17 AM in a Shallow fashion.
Nailing the Marketing Plan

nail.jpg"Replicas of the nails used to hang Jesus on the cross have become the red-hot official merchandise linked to Mel Gibson's controversial new movie,The Passion of the Christ." — 'JESUS' NAIL SALE, by William Neuman, The New York Post, Feb. 19, 2004

Anyone remember the old Bill Hicks routine about how pissed off Jesus would be if He came back and saw all His followers wearing crucifixes? Like He wants to see one of those ever again.

This is probably the worst movie tie-in since the official Exorcist crucifixes or the Elephant Man pillowcases.

[Photo courtesy of The New York Post]

Posted at 9:30 AM in a Shallow fashion.
"Oh, Happenstance!"

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Newly chatty Billy Corgan tells all about the demise of Smashing
Pumpkins (photo Dec. 2, 2000)

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Clint Howard as Balok on Star Trek ("The Corbomite Maneuver," Nov. 1966)

Posted at 9:10 AM in a Shallow fashion.
But they did approve the use of "Wrinkled Crinkled Wadded Dollar Bill" for a national chain of strip clubs

Johnnycash.jpgJohnny Cash's Family Upset About Use Of His Song

LAUNCH Radio Networks

Johnny Cash (news)'s children are squelching an ad agency's idea to use the Man In Black's hit song, "Ring Of Fire," in a commercial for a hemorrhoid-relief product. A producer with Fort Lauderdale-based company Big Grin Productions approached one of the song's writers, Merle Kilgore, with the idea. According to reports, Kilgore thought the idea was funny, but it was no laughing matter once Cash's children got word. The song was co-written by the late June Carter Cash (news), and both Cash and Carter Cash's children are reportedly angry about the prospect.

Might we suggest?: Bruce Springsteen, "I'm on Fire"; The Beatles, "Fixing A Hole"; Dolly Parton, "I'm Burning"; Blue Öyster Cult, "I'm Burnin' For You"; Andy Dick, "Little Brown Ring"; Donna Summer, "Can't We Just Sit Down"; Van Morrison, "Brown Eyed Girl".

Posted at 8:27 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  February 18, 2004
Stupid like a FOX

'Mister Ed' gets a new voice

LOS ANGELES, California (Hollywood Reporter)—Sherman Hemsley of "The Jeffersons" fame is lending his voice to the title character in Fox's updated version of "Mister Ed."

Hemsley joins David Alan Basche, who was previously tapped to play Wilbur Post, and Sherilyn Fenn, tapped as Wilbur's wife.

"Mister Ed" is a remake of the 1960s talking-horse sitcom. This time around, the equine title character has an urban sensibility.

How "urban" can a show about a talking horse be? Is Mr. Ed one of those inner-city horses we see all the time nowadays?

And what the hell happened to Sherilyn Fenn? First she played Pacey's Mrs. Robinson-esque boss/stalker on Dawson's Creek and now she's playing opposite a horse? What did Audrey Horn do to deserve this? I almost regret having had a crush on her when I was 14.

[via TV Tattle]

Posted at 10:51 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  February 17, 2004
Irrefutable proof: The New York-Saddam Hussein connection

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Best Bets "Bush Doormat"... Mosaic floor pattern of Bush, Sr. at the Al-Rashid Hotel in Baghdad

[Best Bet via Wonkette]

Posted at 11:50 AM in a Grave fashion.
Billionaire Boys Club

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They're in the Money: The Maloofs and Mark Cuban

This was a great weekend for wealthy, overgrown man-boys in the media. Everywhere you looked, serious, august news organizations were indulging very spoiled, very rich men who've built their own Xanadus the same way boys build forts out of sofa cushions and bed sheets.

First up, The New York Times Magazine, which flatteringly profiled the fun-lovin' Maloof brothers. (The Flying Maloof Brothers by Hugo Lindgren—with photos by Tabitha Soren!) According to Lindgren:

To understand the Maloofs, you must first know who is who, and it's not always easy to keep them straight. The ones who are most relevant here are the four brothers. At 48 and 47 respectively, Joe and Gavin are the oldest, and they run the Sacramento Kings; even in middle age, they are as inseparable as when they were kids shoveling beer cans at their father's warehouse. George, 39, operates the Palms, and another brother, Phil, 36, is about to take over a new Maloof music venture with Interscope Records. None of the boys have ever married, and they lead lives that readers of any lad magazine must dream about -- an everyday mardi gras of cleavage, fast cars and front-row seats.

(That 'lad magazine' reference inadvertently echoes Julia Chaplin's A Night Out With: The Maloof Brothers; Boys and Their Toys from The Times 'Style' section last November when she said "If FHM or Maxim could invent their dream bachelor, he would no doubt be something like the Maloof brothers.")

What could be more fun than being a Maloof? They own a casino, a hot nightclub, a sports franchise, and—boo-yah!—they're friends with Britney Spears (despite the fact that they're all 15 or more years older than her).

What could be more fun than being a Maloof? Why, being Mark "Cubes" Cuban, of course! Cubes was profiled by Steve Kroft on 60 Minutes this weekend. (Self-Made Maverick). Here's the nut graph:

Now, at 45, he is living out his fantasy. And the best part of being a billionaire, he says, is shooting hoops with NBA stars in his own arena – even though a lot of people thought he was too goofy to be an NBA owner.

Too goofy? This is the man who had the brains and sensitivity to take the Kobe Bryant rape case seriously: "From a business perspective, it's great for the NBA. It's reality television. People love train-wreck television..." he told reporters back in August.

We like Gulfstream V-wreck television even better.

I thank god it wasn't Ed Bradley, my favorite 60 Minutes correspondent, sent to trail around behind the screeching, fine-paying owner of the Dallas Mavericks. Luckily, it was Kroft who played wiffle ball with Cubes in his gaudy McMansion's chandelier room (fun!), caught him mixing up the word "millions" and "dollars" (endearing!), and visited the converted industrial space that houses the Mavs operations office, which Cubes affectionately described this way: "It’s a sweatshop here and we’re proud of it... You can’t see the chains attached to their ankle[s]." (Witty!)

How disgruntled would you be if your boss said that about you just after appearing on TV in his private jet and mansion? I bet you'd think it was hilarious. (This is the most annoying segment from CBS News since Bob Simon played Waylon Smithers to Felix Dennis's Monty Burns on 60 Minutes II back in November.)

But the thing that grated the most about Kroft's Cuban profile was the subject's high-pitched, smug giggle, which punctuated every statement he made like a rimshot. (Presumably even that Kobe Bryant statement above.) After the fiftieth time hearing that laugh, I finally realized why its jingle, its cymbals' song sounded so familiar. It was the same sound heard by Nick Carraway in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby when he listened to Daisy Buchanan and concluded "Her voice is full of money." (But were her legs pinned back ceaselessly like a Safeway chicken?)

Spending so much time with the Maloofs and Cubes—men with bank accounts in the eight digits and emotional maturity in the singles—I was reminded of another Gatsby quote, one that sums up the 21st Century's billionaire playboys even as it speaks to the early 20th's:

"They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made."

I've got no beef with self-made men, but I wish they'd stop acting like boys and actually become men someday.

Posted at 10:22 AM in a Shallow fashion.
ADVENTURES IN THE SCREEN (ADAPTATION) TRADE

indykids.jpgGetting your article optioned by a film producer is the goal of any good journalist. Just ask New York Times Magazine writer (and frustrated blogger bugbear) Peter Landesman, whose article, The Girls Next Door has been optioned by Roland Emmerich. What, you didn't read Landesman's article? Doesn't matter, sucka: it's gonna be made into a movie. (Which you can also not see—but the ads will be everywhere!)

Here's the trick: make it easy—exceedingly easy—for the low level D-girls who read it to see the film as they read your article. Short of sub-heading your piece "It's Pretty in Pink meets Set It Off!," here are some simple tips for getting your article optioned, using Jim Windolf's great Raiders of the Lost Backyard, the story of three boys and their amazing quest to recreate Raiders of the Lost Ark shot-by-shot from this month's Vanity Fair:

Make your subjects 'types' (or better yet, stereotypes):
"On the surface the two boys were opposites: Chris [Stromopolos], whose parents had divorced when he was three, was a class clown; Eric [Zala] was a quiet, brainy kid who had never been paddled. But they shared that tendency to escape into fantasy."

Write a funny set-piece that jumps off the page and onto the screen:
"The two of them stayed up way past their bedtimes in Chris's room, constructing [a giant boulder] out of crisscrossed bamboo stalks from a nearby swamp and cardboard. It seemed almost as large as the original boulder in the original. Too bad they couldn't get it out the door."

Create some colorful atmosphere and supporting characters, maybe a role for Henry Gibson:
"The Zalas' big house remained in disrepair, its cracked plaster and peeling paint telling of its losing battle against the seaside elements. [Eric's mother] Mary put any extra cash toward maintaining the income-producing cottages in the backyard, home to a revolving cast of eccentric tenants."

Throw in some teenage romance for the girls:
"Chris and Angela [Rodriguez] took their places on the narrow bed [...] Chris, now 13, was jittery. This was going to be not only his first screen kiss but the first real kiss of life."

Show conflict, the better to create meatier roles:
"Chris admitted he had tried to steal Eric's girlfriend that time and Eric admitted he had hated Christ for years."

Make a cameo for a famous person who can also exec. produce the film:
"In February, Chris, Eric, and Jayson each received a letter from the director of Raiders of the Lost Ark himself..."

Toss in an uplifting ending that will make audiences cheer!:
"After the lights went up, Chris, Eric, and Jayson—all three truly shocked that the film they had made over their adolescent summer vacations had found a large audience of strangers—took the stage and basked in a standing ovation..."

It's Rushmore meets Waiting for Guffman! Too bad those Culkin boys are all old now.

Hey Hollywood, option this story now and let's see it next summer!

Posted at 8:26 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  February 16, 2004
Breaking: Insult Comic Dog Causes Civil War in Canada

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Bad Dog: Triumph the Insult Comic Dog poops on Canada

An Insolent Puppet Roils Canadian Politics by Clifford Krauss
The New York Times, Feb. 16, 2004

"[T]the seemingly harmless if crass remarks of a puppet created a blaze of protests on the floor of the House of Commons and became fodder for national politicians seeking to win QuŽbŽcois votes. Canada is in the midst of the biggest political scandal in more than a generation, but the foul-mouthed puppet was still front-page news and heavily covered on national television..."

Aren't Canadians supposed to be, like, comedic geniuses or something?

Posted at 10:17 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  February 14, 2004
Back, Again

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Oxford Univerity Press, Feb. 2004... F.S.G., Jan. 2003

See also: Snead, James A. "On Repetition in Black Culture", Black American Literature Forum 15/4 (1981): 146-54.

Related: Marcellus Wallace.

Posted at 6:20 PM in a Shallow fashion.
"What a great day in Druggachusetts!"

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Professor Ellis D. Trails asks Jonesy: "Is he cool?"

Reruns columnist Emily Nussbaum does a fine job breaking down the (lack of) appeal of Sid and Marty Krofft and their bizarre menagerie of anthropomorphic felt creatures in The Evil Geniuses of Kiddie Schlock in this week's Times 'Arts & Leisure' section.

Nussbaum calls the Kroffts "TV hucksters" (no argument there) and posits that:

They were making shows that kids could watch alone, while severely addled by Cap'n Crunch. In another league entirely from the witty Muppetry of "Sesame Street" or the gentle pleasures of Mr. Rogers and "The Magic Garden," the Kroffts dished up a swirl of psychedelia, vaudeville and cheesy production values that might be described as brown acid for the toddler soul.

Yep, that's pretty much it.

Part of me wishes she'd gone a bit further and delved into Sid and Marty's equally surreal lives, the failed theme park in Atlanta, the treehouses, the illnesses. (It was all covered in H.R. Pufnstuf and the Strange World of Sid and Marty Krofft: The E! True Hollywood Story.) Another part of me knows that these guys, and their dated, schlocky programs don't deserve it.

What did surprise me, though, was the omission of The Altered States of Druggachusettes, Mr. Show with Bob and David's dead-on parody of H.R. Pufnstuf's (not-quite) druggy subtext.

Written by Mr. Show's own evil genius, Dino Stamatopoulos (who also sang the skit's theme song) and actor-writer Jay Johnston, it's a wild journey through the looking glass, just after the looking glass was used to cut some really potent coke (to chase all the LSD and pot, naturally). It's also, in its own way, the true skeleton key to Sid and Marty Krofft's insane oeuvre, and well worth the cost of the Mr. Show season 3 DVD.

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"Hey, buddy. We're gonna take you over to the tent now, alright?"

(Sorta) Related: Mayor Bloomstak

Posted at 3:10 PM in a Shallow fashion.
  February 13, 2004
Why Are We (Still) In Vietnam?

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"Daddy, what's Vietnam?" A question a child might ask, but not a childish question.

I read the news today, oh boy, and it made me feel like I'd fallen through a wrinkle in time and wound up in 1972. Suddenly, it's like the last 30 years hadn't happened and the battle between the hippies and the pigs never ended.

Is this just another example of Baby Boomer self-absorption, or is there something more behind all this talk of who was and wasn't "in the shit" and the dubious influence of "Hanoi Jane" Fonda? Whatever it is, it's captured the hearts and minds of the Gratingest Generation more than the other issues we face in the Presidential election, namely national security, the crushing budget deficit, lack of jobs, AIDS, education, millions of Americans still living below the poverty line, guns, the evironment, corporate malfeasance, and... oh, a million other issues.

But everywhere you turn it's Vietnam. There hasn't been an orgy of Boomer self-love this bad since... well, since last week when everyone celebrated the fortieth anniversary of The Beatles appearing on Ed Sullivan.

Remember when this election was about us? The Deanie Babies? The inheritors of that aforementioned deficit? The kids working overtime in that MoveOn.org commercial? Forget it, man. It's all about campus turf wars from before we were born. Just look at this nugget buried in Jane Mayer's article on Haliburton, Contract Sport, in this week's New Yorker:

Around this time, in 1968, Dick Cheney arrived in Washington. He was a political-science graduate student who had won a congressional fellowship with Bill Steiger, a Republican from his home state of Wyoming. One of Cheney’s first assignments was to visit college campuses where antiwar protests were disrupting classes, and quietly assess the scene.

That disruption continues, but on the op-ed pages of papers from coast-to-coast.

Like Eminem, ecstasy, and Outkast, this election has been co-opted by our moms and dads and it's time for us to say, "Don't bogart it!"

Yes, Vietnam matters: one man's service followed by principled opposition means something and so does another man's avoidance of battle and subsequent insistance on sending thousands of others off to fight 30 years later. But these are not the main issues at hand here, and if we don't move on, we're going to get stuck in a quagmire, the likes of which we haven't seen since, well, Vietnam. Isn't it time the fighting stopped?

Posted at 5:20 PM in a Grave fashion.
Painted from Mammaries

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Well-Rounded: Potrait of the Artist as a Tit Man

Tomorrow's Valentine's Day. (What, you forgot? You must be that insensitive clod dating Bridget Harrison. There's always Duane Reade...)

Anyway, if you're a straight fella living in New York and you find yourself in that awkward first few weeks of a relationship and you're concerned about the significance of this Halmarkiest of holidays you've got some options. Here's one you probably hadn't considered: check out the John Currin exhibition at the Whitney, which is in its last two weeks. (The museum's open from 11-6 on Saturdays.)

If you're dating one of those high strung liberal arts college types, she'll have a ball with Currin's voluptuous grotesques (or are they grotesque voluptuaries? I never can tell): she'll also have fun seeing all the other women in the gallery slumping forward slightly, de-emphasizing their busts and shrinking from the male gaze. (If she's gettin' up there in the years, she'll also love his depiction of the elderly.) You'll have a great time staring at Currin's painstakingly-realized pin-ups and feeling the awkward sensation of seeing your basest male fantasies writ embarrassingly large. (If you prefer your base male fantasies writ smaller, check out the much less respectable Art Frahm collection over at Lileks.)

The nice thing is that entire show comes pre-ironized for everyone's protection. How can you take the images to heart when they're presented as retro-jokes, replete with descriptions that evoke naughty jokes in old issues of Playboy? Take the card next to Girl on a Hill (1995): "[Currin] longs for the golden-hewed grassy hilltops of Northern California." Now laugh together at the fact that everywhere you look are golden-hewed hills. Then you can laugh at the fact that a good portion of the pieces are held in private collections in Beverly Hills and in the WASP ghettos of Connecticut. (And if you're extra lucky, maybe you'll see a woman with crutches staring balefully at this image, like I did last month.)

This is fun! Mounds of it.

Of course, if your special lady is one of those uptight "feminists" who can't take a joke, well, you're in the wrong place, pal. You can expect to go home alone tonight, and—how can we put this delicately?—play air guitar to your Strokes CD. (The John Currin catalog only costs $50, but a copy of Juggs will run you, like, $7.) Happy Valentine's Day.

Sidebar: Speak Mammaries. Tits are big right now. Huge! First came Currin. Then Mary Louise Parker and the other stacked starlets at the Golden Globes, followed closely by Janet Jackson's tempest in a C-cup at the Super Bowl. Then there's the back-channel chatter among bloggers about one of our own that's crossed the line from ignorable to Orange-alert levels. (Guys, do we need to discuss the difference between fetishizing mostly-underage celebrities who are hidden behind publicists, handlers, and bodyguards and fetishizing a real live person who might find your repeated, and entirely unfunny references to her 'rack' off-putting and even frightening? A little respect and we won't have to resort to Antioch-like rules, okay?) Up next, A Dirty Shame, John Waters' next film starring Selma Blair as Caprice Stickles, a head-injury victim endowed with breasts the size of watermelons. It's only February and it's the best year Russ Meyer's had in a decade.

Posted at 12:01 PM in a Shallow fashion.
The Time of Their Time

Mother Jones a great timeline of George Bush and John Kerry's experiences in the 60's and 70's that shows each man's baby steps to the White House.

The cool, omniscient approach is like an outline for a John Dos Passos or Tom Wolfe novel about politics, class, changing social mores, and the military. Of course, since it's MoJo, there's some sly wit:

John Kerry George W. Bush
January 3, 1970: Kerry requests that he be discharged early from the Navy so that he can run for Congress in Massachusetts' Third District. The request is granted, and Kerry begins his first political campaign. June 1970: Bush joins the Guard's "Champagne Unit," where he flies with sons of Texas' elite.
February 1970: Kerry drops his bid for the Democratic nomination and supports Robert F. Drinan. Drinan, a staunch opponent of the war, wins the race and goes on to serve in Congress for ten years. November 3, 1970:George Bush Sr. loses Senate election to Lloyd Bentsen, whose son is also in the "Champagne Unit."
June 1970: Kerry joins Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and becomes one of the group's unofficial spokespeople. November 7, 1970: Bush is promoted to first lieutenant. Rejected by University of Texas School of Law.
April 23, 1971: Kerry helps to organize a huge anti-war protest outside Congress, earning a place on president Richard Nixon's "enemies' list." He joins a group of Vietnam veterans who throw medals and campaign ribbons over a fence in front of the Capitol. January 1971:The Texas Air National Guard begins testing for drugs during physicals.

And so on. Definitely worth a look, if only to wonder how this story will end.

[via The Morning News]

Posted at 10:48 AM in a Grave fashion.
Hotter than a venti americano

kinsley_newsweek.jpgIf you thought Seattle was full of flannel-clad aging grunge rockers and the sexiest person there is Michael Kinsley dressed as Gorton's fisherman (left), swing on by The Stranger's Web site for their annual Valentine's Day Seattle's Sex Bombs spread.

As expected in a city where coffee runs hot and cold out of the faucets, there's Sexiest Baristas (four of 'em), but there's also a Sexiest Republican who makes Ann Coulter look (even more) like a she-beast. (Equal Time Regulations stipulate that The Stranger show a Sexy Deniac, too.) Then there are the Sexiest Movie Theater Employees, who look like the girls from t.A.T.u., only they weren't cooked up in a post-Soviet lesbi-teen lab in Siberia. Sexiest Waiter? Someone out there wrote, "I'd like to lick Alfredo sauce off his ass-crack." Like 'em smart? Check out Sexiest Physics Majors. Sexiest Retail Clerk? Babe check, aisle nine!

You get the idea. Go check 'em all out for yourself. Flights to Seattle can be booked through your travel agent or online.

Posted at 8:07 AM in a Shallow fashion.
Bad Ideas are $3 Mil a Dozen

From The Onion A.V. Club interview with Joe Eszterhas by Nathan Rabin:

The Onion: In the book, you publish a letter you wrote concerning an unfilmed script, Male Pattern Baldness, which you say had the potential to 'force America to pay attention.' What did you mean by that, and what is Male Pattern Baldness about?

Joe Eszterhas: Male Pattern Baldness was about a guy who lives in the Midwest and works in a steel plant, who finds himself in a battle with all the precepts of political correctness. He's just an ordinary guy who goes up against all the sort of politically inspired and enforced social rules that we've looked at in the past 20 years. Everything goes to hell for him. He loses his wife as a result. He loses his son, and he has to take anger-management classes. Ultimately, he can't take it. The tone of the piece until now is comedic, it's dark, and it has a really striking comedic tone, to the point where Betty Thomas, who directs comedies, after reading it decided that she was going to make it. Suddenly, near the end of this piece, the comedic tone startlingly ends and he goes on a rampage and kills four or five of his workers and kills himself. The movie ends with an epilogue of irony. Betty's take and the studio's take when I sold the script was that it was very hard-hitting, and was certainly going to be very controversial. It proved to be so controversial, finally, in the studio's view, and also Betty's—she felt that it was an assault on political correctness—that they opted not to do the picture, and it's still up on the shelf. I do think that it would have startled some people, and I think it would have made us take a hard look at the effects of political correctness.

Posted at 7:38 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  February 12, 2004
Google News ♥s Troop Morale

So, you're hankering for more news articles about President Bush, and you enter some Google News search terms that you suppose will bring up likely hits. You know, all the current and past administration/media buzzwords such as "National Guard" and "terrorism" and "Al-Qaeda" and "Washington"...

Only, you get the following instead. Damned imperfect technology.

U.S. soldier arrested in Washington state for allegedly aiding al-Qaida

SEATTLE (AP) - A U.S. National Guardsman stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash. was arrested Thursday and charged by the army with trying to provide information to the al-Qaida terrorist network, a federal law-enforcement official said.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Spc. Ryan Anderson was charged with "aiding the enemy by wrongfully attempting to communicate and give intelligence to the al-Qaida terrorist network."

It was not immediately known what information Anderson allegedly provided.

Next time, I guess "Iraq" or "economy" or "Wasn't James Yee acquitted after his career was ruined?" will narrow the field a bit more.

Posted at 7:37 PM in a Grave fashion.
Amber Alert on CNBC tonight

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Sexual predator Scott Ritter is appearing tonight on Dennis Miller at 9PM EST on CNBC, raising the stakes on the trend Miller started by playing host to alleged serial groper-cum-"People's Governor", Arnold Schwarzenegger on his first show.

Why, just last week Miller was ranting about Carlie Bruscia's alleged killer, Joseph Smith, and saying he was a pathetic mistake of a human being. What does that make Ritter? A victim of an overzealous legal system? Just another guy who wandered into the wrong chatroom and offered candy to the wrong baby?

This is the first funny thing Dennis has done on that dead-air show.

Next week on Dennis Miller: Claus von Bülow on prescription drug reform.

Posted at 4:35 PM in a Shallow fashion.
The low culture interview: Stanley Bostitch Model B440 stapler

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Stanley Bostitch Model B440 Stapler, stapler

Continue reading...
Posted at 2:34 PM in a Satirical, Shallow fashion.
Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except EMI And My Monkey

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From MTV.com:

"A representative for EMI Records served the cease-and-desist orders to Danger Mouse and stores such as Fat Beats and hiphopsite.com. EMI Records controls the sound recordings for the Beatles on behalf of Capitol Records Inc. The publishing side of the Beatles' catalog is owned by Sony Music/ ATV Publishing, a venture between Sony Music and Michael Jackson.

(Earlier thoughts on The Grey Album...)

Posted at 11:36 AM in a Shallow, Soundproof fashion.
We got ideas

FashionAccomplished.jpgFrom Ad Age, Feb. 10, 2004:

OLD NAVY OPENS REVIEW FOR $130 MILLION ACCOUNT
First Time Gap Unit Seeks Outside Agency for Creative

"NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — Gap Inc.'s Old Navy unit has opened a search for its first-ever advertising agency to handle creative duties..."

Here are some whiteboard ideas you can have for free. The good stuff's gonna cost you at least $100 million:

° Made For Kids, By Kids!
° Cheap Clothes For Your Cheap Ass!
° Stylish, in a your dad-on-the-weekend sorta way.
° You were walking by, you need some socks—whoa, those pants are only $16!
° Every Girl Needs Ten Pairs of Flip-Flops!
° Hey Sailor, were those jeans on sale?
° We defy you not to buy this shirt in three colors: Dude, it's five fucking bucks!
° Perfect Last Minute Gifts For the Whole Family!
° Need One of those Ponchos in a Bag? You are in luck, my friend.
° We won't tell anyone you buy all your clothes here, cross our hearts.

Posted at 10:05 AM in a Shallow fashion.
Oh, so it'll be unfunny, unread, and contain at least one reference to The Beastie Boys

heeb4.jpg From today's Page Six:
"Heeb, the hip [sic.] quarterly dubbed 'The New Jew Review,' had used [publicist Susan] Blond to promote its launch in 2002. The magazine's new cover announces 'Back Off Braveheart' to tout a photo feature inside called 'Crimes of Passion.' Editor-in-chief Josh Neuman wasn't very forthcoming in describing the offensive photos: 'It's our interpretation of Jesus' final hours. It's what you'd expect from Heeb magazine."

Posted at 8:59 AM in a Shallow fashion.
Pseudo Imaginary Trend of the week: Fictional Characters Named after Fiction Writers

With tomorrow's release of Fifty First Dates, the Pseudo Imaginary Trend of fictional characters named after fiction writers finally comes into its own.

Since we here at low culture consider ourselves pseudo imaginary experts on the Pseudo Imaginary Trends (up your nose with a rubber hose, Entertainment Weekly—or Entertainment Weakly as we like to call it when we're feeling nasty!), we took it upon ourselves to point out the obligatory three recent(-ish) instances that form any Pseudo Imaginary Trend. Even one this pseudo and imaginary.

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Fifty First Dates' Henry Roth and Henry Roth

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Torque's Henry James and Henry James

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Sex and the City's Richard Wright and Richard Wright

Start with a ponderous "academic"-sounding quote from Harold Bloom and close with a tepid kicker ("What's next, Ashton Kutcher as 'John Updike'?") and send me my check, Rick.

It's tenuously hilarious! Except that it's not.

Posted at 8:33 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  February 11, 2004
Finally, a happy ending for David Gest

gest.jpg Bride and widow in single ceremony

NICE, France (AP)— Dressed in a demure black suit, a 35-year-old Frenchwoman has married her dead boyfriend, an exchange of vows that required authorization from President Jacques Chirac.

Under French law, Christelle Demichel became both bride and widow in the ceremony, which was performed Tuesday at Nice City Hall on the French Riviera.

[via the idiosyncratic mind of Sarah Weinman]

Posted at 5:32 PM in a Shallow fashion.
Bloggers: It's not funny

Disney Deaths.

Please refrain.

Posted at 5:15 PM in a Shallow fashion.
So...we're in agreement, then

bushnationalguard.jpgEditorial, San Diego Union-Tribune, February 11, 2004:

Meanwhile, the White House released pay records this week which also document the dates on which Bush was paid for National Guard duty. They provide further evidence that Bush did not shirk his obligations to the Guard between May 1972 and May 1973.

Of course, there are some die-hard Bush detractors who are unwilling to accept that the president did not go AWOL, that he was not a deserter. But the fair-minded can lay the controversy to rest once and for all.

Editorial, The Daily Iowan, February 11, 2004:

Amid accusations of being AWOL in the National Guard and lying to the American public about the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Bush remained as confusing and contradictory as always during the "Meet the Press" segment Sunday on NBC.

On Tuesday, White House officials released payroll records demonstrating that Bush in fact did get paid for his service in the Guard. However, spokesman Scott McClellan admitted that the records do not specifically show that the president reported for duty. Bush's response to reports of his first-lieutenant evaluation showing that the future leader had not been seen during 1972 is a simple, "They're just wrong."

Posted at 3:54 PM in a Grave fashion.
The 'S' in Harvard stands for 'Sex'

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Available now at Out of Town News

From The Harvard Crimson, Feb. 11, 2004:

After flipping through the pages of Squirm, a Vassar College erotica magazine, the Committee on College Life (CCL) voted to approve a student-run magazine that will feature nude pictures of Harvard undergraduates and articles about sexual issues at its meeting yesterday.

[via Romenesko]

Posted at 1:17 PM in a Satirical, Shallow fashion.
The Post's Widening Editorial Reach

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This month's NYP: Tempo's Enrique Iglesias spread. Very spread.

Um, when something isn't quite subliminal, what do you call it? Liminal? Really, really obvious? Gross?

Related: Fromunda.

Posted at 8:23 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  February 10, 2004
It's Over, It's Over, It's Over

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It's over, it's over, it's over, I won't look back,
Won't look back, my bridge has been crossed.
It's over, it's over, it's over, I'll walk away,
I'll stay away, cause my heart's been lost.
Losing is not a happy thing when the stakes are high,
Not when you lose your lover on a simple goodbye.

Frank Sinatra, "It's Over, It's Over, It's Over" (lyrics by Don Stanford & Matt Dennis, 1960)

Related: "Moonlight in Vermont"; "That's All"; "The Impossible Dream"; "Walk Away"; "Lonely Town"; "No One Cares"; "Here's to the Losers"; "Say It Isn't So"; "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning"; "The Hurt Doesn't Go Away"; "Goodbye, Lover, Goodbye"; "We'll Meet Again".

Posted at 10:23 PM in a Grave fashion.
Super Dave's Latest Stunt

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Who's that gravelly-voiced actor who plays the perpetually-in-a-funk Marty Funhouser on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm? Why, it's none other than Bob Einstein, aka, "Super" Dave Osborne, the world's greatest daredevil stuntman!

I distinctly remember his show from when I was a kid. At the time, I think I actually believed he was a real stuntman who just messed up a lot. You can buy a Super Dave video here.

Einstein's also the brother of Albert Brooks. Yes, the poor guy was born Albert Einstein. Parents and their high expectations: Sheesh!

Posted at 11:53 AM in a Shallow fashion.
Checkout "Dropout", Pre-Sellout

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When not busy geeking out to Pitchfork's coverage of all things indietronic, we're likely debating whether it was Hood or the Notwist who first inspired Radiohead's post-rock reinvention in 1999. Or maybe it's something along the lines of whether or not Basic Channel's music deserves a genre classification of its own, or the merits of declaring Philip Jeck as the ultimate electro-acoustic composer, or pronouncing L.A.'s Stones Throw to be the most underrated hip-hop label in operation today.

In other words, it's unlikely that we'd ever get behind a major-label record of any stripe. But here's some major-label-styled hype for you: it's only the second week of February, and already the leading contender for 2004's album of the year has been released. Available today on the racks of all sorts of record stores across the country, in outlets as diverse as Kim's and Amoeba to FYE and Sam Goody (and likely to sell just as well in each type of these aforementioned shops), Kanye West's College Dropout has been released on Jay-Z's Roc-A-Fella imprint, home to such musical all-stars as Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek, and, ummm, Samantha Ronson.

This would be considered "staying in the family", since the 26-year-old West is heretofore best known as the producer of some of Jay-Z's biggest hits off of 2001's The Blueprint. Relatively invisible up to this point, he's also spent the past two years becoming one of pop music's most likely hit-makers, engineering the hooks and beats for a remix of Britney Spears' collaboration with Madonna, Ludacris' "Stand Up" and Alicia Keys' "You Don't Know My Name", as well as the definitive summer anthem for 2003, Talib Kweli's "Get By", which I most recently heard played out at a New Year's Eve party thrown by members of Silverlake's indie-guitar-and-electronics scenesters.

That means crossover appeal.

Continue reading...
Posted at 10:54 AM in a Shallow, Soundproof fashion.
Neil Strauss: Renaissance Man

Author...Comedian... Ladies Man...Adult movie actor...*

What's next? I'm betting co-songwriter with The Matrix

* Not online despite aggressive Googling: Back-up 'funky robot' dancer for Beck (SPIN, circa 1996)... Jewel bedside interlocutor (Rolling Stone, circa 1998)...

Posted at 9:33 AM in a Shallow fashion.
Political Child's Pay

richie.jpg"It did not take Kaelynn Adams-Haack long to decide she wanted to support the re-election campaign of Representative Tammy Baldwin, Democrat of Wisconsin. The two met at a dinner party, talked for part of the evening and by the time Kaelynn left she had decided that she wanted to give the congresswoman a $1,000 contribution.
[...]
"'I knew not to give her too much and not to give her too little, so I gave her $1,000,' said Kaelynn, who is now 8 and says she hopes to make more donations in the future.'"
Too Young to Vote, Old Enough to Donate, by Glen Justice, The New York Times, Feb. 10, 2004

Adorable!

Posted at 8:44 AM in a Grave fashion.
Oh, you're such a martyr, Jim

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"It was uncomfortable up there on the cross. Very windy. I almost blew over." — Jim Caviezel quoted by Cindy Adams, The New York Post, Feb. 10, 2004

Posted at 8:09 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  February 9, 2004
Catch Me If You Care

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Catch That Kid Again: Something feels familiar... a little too familiar.

Catch That Kid snuck into theaters Friday with the stealth of an assassin. Usually, when a studio (in this case, 20th Century Fox) has a big budget action film, the add campaigns have all the subtlety of a SWAT team kicking in your door with guns drawn and screaming "Into the multiplex NOW, motherfucker!" I haven't seen a single commercial for Catch and I've read maybe one review. Perhaps the reason FOX is playing it so cool is that Catch That Kid already came out in 2002 and was a huge success.

Then again, that was in Denmark.

Catch That Kid is a remake of Klatretøsen (AKA, Catch That Girl), which won a handful of awards and delighted kids all over Europe with its Spy Kids-like tale of a tween bank heist. (Kids these days! First they're nicking comic books, then knocking off whole banks!)

Some studio could've simply dubbed Klatretøsen and released it in America. It might've been a minor hit in theaters and had a decent run on DVD, but that would've been too cheap an undertaking and would've cut too many middle men and women out the process. We're living in the startlingly barren Roy Lee era, where all it takes to be a "producer" is the reflexes to buy the American remake rights of successful foreign films and put together a deal with studios so bereft of talent and creativity, video games are considered primary texts to be treated with respect and care. (Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever is probably the nadir of this phenonenon, but definitely not the end. As long as there are Joseph Kahns and Brett Ratners, there will be films not worth seeing anytime soon.)

Of course, there have always been remakes of foreign films, but it was the exception, not the norm: Akira Kurosawa's Samurai film Shichinin no samurai (AKA, The Magnificent Seven) was remade as a Western starring the Mount Rushmore of machismo, Steve McQueen, Yul Brynner, and Charles Bronson six years later. But Catch is different, if only for the speed of the remake.

It took about eighteen months from the release of Klatretøsen to bring Americans Catch That Kid: that's about how long it takes a big company like FOX to develop and shoot a movie. Catch is directed by Bart Freundlich, the not quite respected indie director and husband of Julianne Moore. Since it's first big budget, Hollywood film, he dragged James LeGros (who appeared in his first two movies, The Myth of Fingerprints and The World Traveler) as a security blanket.

That "kid" in the title is Kristen Stewart, whom you may have seen as Jodie Foster's diabetic daughter in Panic Room. Stewart, at 14, is either too androgynous or not yet touched by the glamorizing brush of a stylist to arouse the, um, interests of the Web's various Humbert Humbert manquŽs, which is why I find it strange that the poster attempts to make her look like Jennifer Garner's Mini-Me. The key to Stewart's appeal in Panic Room and Cold Creek Manor was her diffident tomboy-ishness, especially in comparison to her grotesquely-fetishized under-18 peers in Hollywood. Stewart's like a young Jodie Foster, before that actress took a turn with Taxi Driver. It'll be interesting to see how her career develops in the next few years.

Catch That Kid ranked number 6 at the box office this week, which doesn't bode well for other Scandinavian films sure to be remade for the American market. Will the American version of Lilja 4-ever starring Hilary Duff and directed by Larry Clark still fly? Time will only tell.

Posted at 11:39 AM in a Shallow fashion.
We're also sick—sick!—of powerful women in Hollywood doing favors for their 19 years older, Oscar-winning boy toys

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Sherry and Bob: The casting couch strikes again.

A Director, Married to the Studio
by Sharon Waxman, The New York Times, Feb. 9, 2004:

When Variety published the news last week that the veteran director William Friedkin was attached to a new movie at Paramount Pictures, eyebrows went up in Hollywood. Not just because it is rare in the age-obsessed movie industry for a 69-year-old director to score a major studio assignment, but also because Mr. Friedkin would be making yet another movie at the studio where his wife, Sherry Lansing, is the chairwoman.

Since 1994 Mr. Friedkin, a celebrated director in the 1970's, has made four feature films, all at Paramount, three of them box office flops, one a financial disappointment.

So the choice of Mr. Friedkin to direct a big-budget movie about the Hollywood lawyer Sidney Korshak is sparking new talk of nepotism at a moment when the studio is in poor financial health.

The more salient question: Why would Sherry Lansing hand her husband such bad scripts like the ones for The Hunted, Rules of Engagement, Jade, and Blue Chips?

Posted at 9:17 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  February 8, 2004
Wait, where were you, Mr. President?

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President Bush in the Oval Office

From the transcript of Tim Russert's interview with President Bush on Meet the Press, Feb. 8, 2004:

"...I'm a war president. I make decisions here in the Oval Office in foreign policy matters with war on my mind... "

"...It's important for people to understand the context in which I made a decision here in the Oval Office..."

"...They're not going to develop that because right here in the Oval Office I sat down with Mr. Pachachi and Chalabi and al Hakim, people from different parts of the country that have made the firm commitment, that they want a constitution eventually written that recognizes minority rights and freedom of religion..."

"...I have shown the American people I can sit here in the Oval Office when times are tough and be steady and make good decisions, and I look forward to articulating what I want to do the next four years if I'm fortunate enough to be their president..."

Posted at 7:03 PM in a Grave fashion.
W.M.D. (Weapons of Maureen Dowd)

dowd_new.184.jpgIt's easy to criticize Maureen Dowd. She gets a lot of guff from the Right for being too liberal, and jabs from the Left for being too nasty. Pundits of all political stripes pretty much think she's superficial and too in love with her own references and puns.

Yes, her record is spotty (a Pulitzer one year, a series of columns about Barneys the next). Every time she gets up to bat, she's under a cloud: will she hit a homerun, or will mighty Maureen strike out? That's why when she knocks it out of the park, you gotta stand up and cheer.

This Sunday's column, Murder Most Fowl (Feb. 8, 2004) is a great achievement, both rhetorically, and stylistically. Dowd frequently errs too far on the side of style over substance, but writing about Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney this week, she marries (or at least civilly unionizes) the two impulses beautifully:

Now, with the White House looking untrustworthy and desperate; with the national security team flapping around and pointing fingers at each other and, of course, Bill Clinton; with even the placid Laura getting testy; and with Newsweek reporting that the Justice Department is reviewing whether Halliburton was involved in paying $180 million in kickbacks to get contracts in Nigeria at a time when Dick Cheney was chairman, anybody else would be sweating.

Not deadeye Dick. His heavy lids didn't blink when it turned out he'd blown up a half-century of American foreign policy alliances on a high-level hallucination.

Here he was, fresh from presenting a crystal dove to an obviously perplexed pope, stolidly waiting for the club's pheasant wranglers to shoo the doomed birds into his line of fire. He had killed only 70 or so the last time out. But this time he was convinced that the bird population could sustain more casualties. Quack and Awe.

"This is our due," Dick said. He fired a shot: BLAM!

That "BLAM!" (and "This is our due") is repeated throughout the column, like some angry/resentful incantation by an administration under siege. This is our world, our time, our choices, they seem to be saying. We want the world and we want it NOW!, as Jim Morrison, the deepest poet I read in eighth grade used to say. Dowd may be imagining the thoughts in Cheney's head while he hunts (domesticated) pheasants, but what emerges are the increasingly desperate—sad, even—rationalizations of a sitting duck who has no idea which way to run.

Dowd's no birdbrain: she knows Cheney's goose is cooked, and she's not afraid to crow about it.

Posted at 5:04 PM in a Grave fashion.
  February 7, 2004
Holden Caulfield, older and still bitter

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"Oh, [John Kerry] sometimes pretends that he doesn't care about our special interests. He puts on that callous populist facade. But deep down he cares. Maybe he cares too much. When he's out on the stump saying otherwise, he's just being a big old phony."
David Brooks, Kerry's Special Friends, The New York Times, Feb. 7, 2004

Posted at 11:02 PM in a Grave fashion.
Well, you can always rely on Amazon

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N.B.: Not to be mistaken with Philip Roth's Letting Go, which cannot ship before Valentine's Day.

Posted at 9:30 PM in a Shallow fashion.
Just in time for Black History Month

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(MOSTLY) WHITE PRIDE:Vanity Fair's "Hollywood 2004" cover. (Not pictured: Black Actresses)

While the cover may lack diversity (yes, I am aware that Salma Hayek and Lucy Lui Liu aren't white, but that and a token will get ya' a ride on the subway), the magazine is positively bursting (like a dried up cactus) with African Americans.

Aside from some ads that feature Black models (Naomi Campbell and Tyson Beckford are still workin' it after all these years!) or deeply-tanned white ones, there's Brett Brooks, the DJ at Fred Segal (and Winona Ryder's old roommate—he works at a deparment store, she loves department stores, together, they're a sitcom!) on page 192, Jamie Foxx done-up as Ray Charles on page 220, a caricature of Rudy Ray Moore, aka, Dolemite on page 332, Janet Jackson as Lena Horne on pages 322-323 (Black performers dressed as older Black performers= hot!), and Janet's beloved and besieged brother, Michael (save your jokes: Michael Jackson is Black), is featured in several photos (one even show's him wearing a trucker hat that appears to say "Black Man") accompanying Maureen Orth's examination of his child molestation charges beginning on page 384.

But by far, the part of the magazine that reflects the greatest diversity is Graydon Carter's editor's letter in which he lists the names of every U.S. armed forces member to die in Iraq. Of the 502 people listed, I'm betting a large percentage were African American.

Well, that's one way to slip some Black folks into the "mix."

Posted at 4:43 PM in a Shallow fashion.
  February 6, 2004
Whistlestop in the Village of the Damned

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"Beware the stare that will paralyze the will of the world."

Posted at 9:20 AM in a Grave fashion.
This world, it is so strange

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Posted at 9:07 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  February 5, 2004
When animals attack—Dennis Miller!

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Dennis Miller showing those lightning fast reflexes with Moe, the chimp, Feb. 4, 2004

Posted at 6:22 PM in a Shallow fashion.
Rummy Walks Like An... Well, you Know

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Susanna Hoffs and Donald Rumsfeld

Foreign types with the hookah pipes say
Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oh
Walk like an egyptian

Posted at 2:47 PM in a Shallow fashion.
Slouching towards Hollywood Babylon

interrupted.jpgThe publicist for Hollywood Interrupted: Insanity Chic in Babylon—the Case Against Celebrity deserves a raise for landing his or her clients, authors (and "veteran journalists" pace The Post) Mark Ebner and Andrew Breitbart in Page Six and Rush & Molloy today.

But perhaps pitching this book as a no-holds-barred slaughter of Hollywood sacred cows is a tad hyperbolic. Judging from the names bold-faced by the Page Six crew, the targets read more like slow-moving fish in a very small barrel: Robert Evans? Dude was a punchline before he was even a joke. Courtney Love? Any moron can squeeze a laugh out of her. Michael Ovitz? The guys who sell star maps on the side of the road have more juice in Hollywood than him nowadays. Heidi Fleiss? C'mon, fellas, try a little harder. It almost makes you respect the courage and conviction of Joe Eszterhas.

What I'm really looking forward to is the brave, bold chapter that eviscerates Michael Cimino: boy, is he too big for his britches, or what? And Joan Crawford: I hear she's like, a total bitch-on-wheels.

Kenneth Anger, watch your back!

Posted at 11:27 AM in a Shallow fashion.
We, too, regret having seen "Journeys with George"
"I wish I could take my children out into the rain, shrink them back to babies and start over. I loved being a mother."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), mother of NBC News producer Alexandra Pelosi, revealing in the March issue of Glamour magazine one of the "Five Things You Don't Know About Me."

Posted at 10:22 AM in a Grave fashion.
The Tanner Wars

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I had only the vaguest recollection of Tanner '88 before getting reacquainted with it this week on The Sundance Channel. (The series reruns Tuesdays at 9PM EST through April 13.) I've always been a great admirer of Robert Altman's films (I loved Popeye as a kid) and while I've never really gotten into Doonesbury (despite entreaties from several friends who've loved the strip for a decade), I had high hopes for the show. Even at its worst, I like the blurring of reality and fiction in film and TV (as readers of low culture's more boring content know, I even sorta liked K Street) and Tanner '88 is often cited as a forerunner of the genre.

I've read a bunch of reviews of Tanner '88 from Emily Nussbaum in The New York Times to Joy Press in The Village Voice, and "Dana Stevens" in Slate, but none of them pointed out the most interesting thing I saw in the first episode: the name Sidney Blumenthal in the credits as "political consultant."

Sid is the journalist-turned-Clinton Warrior-turned-pundit loved and hated in equal degree among Washington journalists and power brokers. Actually, who am I kidding? Sid is mostly hated.

He's clashed with Matt Drudge (admittedly not a hard thing to do: I'm sure even Matt's dry cleaner hates him, probably for all the egg yolk stains), he's fallen out big time with old pal Christopher Hitchens over whether or not he floated out the "Monica Lewinsky as stalker" story over lunch, and has in many ways lived up to the nasty nickname given to him by the Right: "Sid Vicious."

What Sid is, more than anything, is a Democratic berserker, especially in his current writing for Salon and The Guardian. (Should Sid succeed in helming a U.S. edition of The Guardian, we can expect some very muscular prose in defense of the Dems: Expect asses kicked and names taken weekly.)

That's why it's not entirely surprising to see Sid pop up as part of Jack Tanner's dream team in '88. Tanner (played by Michael Murphy) is the ultimate baby boomer wish-fulfillment candidate: handsome, modest, able to speak with equal passion about public service and his favorite Beatle (John, of course). He was a Democrat who would feel perfectly at home discussing policy in The New Republic and the impact of Woodstock in Rolling Stone. In other words: He's Bill Clinton.

I can't imagine how excited Sid must've been when Clinton emerged just a few years after Jack Tanner's "Presidential run" ended, but he must have felt that exhilarating, confusing mix of emotions we sometimes—too rarely!—feel when our dreams come true. All of Jack Tanner's speechifying, very human foibles, and striving for integrity were suddenly, thrillingly manifest in that smart, sincere, ever so slightly louche sax-playing Southern good ol' boy from a town called "Hope" (well, Hot Springs, actually).

It reminds me of the famous conversation between anchorman Tom Gurnick (William Hurt) and writer Aaron Altman (Albert Brooks) in Broadcast News:

Tom Grunnick: What do you do when your real life exceeds your dreams?
Aaron Altman: Keep it to yourself!

Posted at 9:38 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  February 4, 2004
Meatball, R.I.P.

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Meatball: One of a kind.

I've never been a big Adam Sandler fan, but I loved his dog, Meatball.

The photos and videos of Adam and Meat on Adamsandler.com used to be one of my favorite internet time wasters. They're a genuinely touching glimpse inside the human/companion animal relationship. The videos show Meatball as Adam's constant companion: a gently rapacious, deadpan presence on Sandler's film sets (he appeared on screen in Anger Management and Little Nicky), in his house, and even, in one clip, on an airplane. Meat loved food. Meat loved basketball. Meat loved kittens. Meat loved sleeping. Meat loved Adam most of all.

How can you not love Meatball's regal, ugly mug and his snorting, mucous-y breathing and lumbering gait? Meatball is such a beautiful, goofy, honorable mutt.

Meatball died the other day, and I'm sure Adam and his wife and friends are grieving deeply. The human-dog thing is some profound shit (just ask Harvard professor and dog lover Marge Garber) and, as a dog owner myself, I can't yet begin to imagine what it would be like to bury one. Even when I can't stand my dog—which is often—I still know that her need for me is total, and my reliance on her is deeper than I can articulate.

If you have some free time on your hands a good enough internet connection, I recommend you look at some of the great Meatball videos on the site. Some are completely ridiculous. Others are more serious. One was even directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and co-stars Luis Guzman. (Guzman staring-down Meatball with his goofily intense eyes and Meatball returning the stare is a small comic gem.) Meatball was born to be a star, not least of all because he attempts to literally chew the scenery in almost every clip.

Watch a few and I'm sure you'll become a Meat lover, too.

Posted at 7:46 PM in a Shallow fashion.
The Naked and the Dead

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Posted at 3:31 PM in a Grave fashion.
How to steal someone else's husband after 35 using what I learned editing the Harvard Business Review

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Suzy and Jack: Rich and beautiful. (Not necessarily in that order.)

Welch Makes Another Major Book Deal by Hugo Lindgren

Armed with a proposal that ran just two and a half pages, John F. Welch Jr., the former chairman of General Electric, sold the world rights yesterday for a how-to business manual to HarperCollins, a unit of the News Corporation, for an estimated $4 million.
[...]
Suzy Wetlaufer, Mr. Welch's fiancŽe and a former editor of The Harvard Business Review, will help him write the book. "We have a lot going on," Mr. Welch, 68, said. "We've got my greasy fingernails and her brains."

Doesn't this book already exists? Wasn't it called Find a Husband After 35 Using What I Learned at Harvard Business School. And it was written by Rachel Greenwald?

Posted at 3:09 PM in a Shallow fashion.
They also cut the full-frontal blow job from Chlo' Sevigny

Gibson to Delete a Scene in 'Passion' by Sharon Waxman
The New York Times, Feb. 4, 2004

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 3 — Mel Gibson, responding to focus groups as much as to protests by Jewish critics, has decided to delete a controversial scene about Jews from his film, "The Passion of the Christ," a close associate said today.

A scene in the film, in which the Jewish high priest Caiaphas calls down a kind of curse on the Jewish people by declaring of the Crucifixion, "His blood be on us and on our children," will not be in the movie's final version, said the Gibson associate, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

[Via LAObserved]

Posted at 11:07 AM in a Shallow fashion.
Kerry a tune

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John Kerry: Yep, you guessed it: he was "Born in the USA."

With John Kerry emerging from as the Democratic frontrunner, it's time to turn our attention to an important aspect of his campaign. Since we live in a country where a washed-up pop star's almost entirely obscured nipple being exposed by a soon-to-be washed-up pop star dominates the news cycle more than, say, the death of 20 year-old 3rd Squadron soldier on the same day in Haditha, Iraq (that's 527 Americans, if you're still keeping count), perhaps this is the most important aspect of the campaign.

John Kerry's campaign song.

The Clinton/Gore boomer-juggernaut did very well with Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop", using the ambiguously inspirational lyrics "Don't stop, thinking about tomorrow/ Don't stop, it'll soon be here,/ It'll be, better than before/ Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone" to good effect.

On the flipside, Al Gore went bust in 2000 with Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al", which makes some sense since that song's grumpy, middle aged tone is off-putting in the extreme. Who'd vote for someone who sings (metaphorically speaking):
"A man walks down the street
He says why am I soft in the middle now
Why am I soft in the middle
The rest of my life is so hard
[...]
Mr. Beerbelly Beerbelly
Get these mutts away from me
You know I don't find this stuff amusing anymore"

Neither did the voters, apparently.

Ross Perot failed when he ironically appropriated Patsy Cline's "Crazy", which just goes to prove that a good song is a candidate's key to victory. Here are some suggestions with notes and clarifications.

Continue reading...
Posted at 9:44 AM in a Grave fashion.
Art Directors of the World: Chris Rock is Not a Clown

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Drew Friedman's Observer illustration... Vanity Fair, 1998.

Please stop depicting him as such. Thank you.

Posted at 8:01 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  February 3, 2004
Before California Dies, It sees...

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How do you ward off evil Democrats and keep illegal immigrants at bay? Use a talisman, perhaps a magical ring the size of beetle... Not the insect, the car.

Posted at 4:05 PM in a Grave fashion.
Beeb Sky Beeb

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"Next time you hear the BBC bragging about how much superior the Brits are delivering the news rather than Americans who wear flags in their lapels, remember it was the Beeb caught lying."

Click here to view this wholly entertaining editorial snippet from a recent FOX News broadcast, featuring news host John Gibson waxing rhapsodic on last week's resignation by the BBC's director general Greg Dyke in the wake of Lord Hutton's report on editorial misconduct in the network's coverage of aspects of the British buildup to Iraq and, specifically, the network's usage of the now infamous "sexed up" terminology.

While editorials certainly occur with some restrained degree of frequency on a number of local news outlets across the country, and usually only in events of great compelling interest, can anyone recall having seen such an editorial stance having been adopted by news hosts on other national cable news networks, e.g. CNN and NWI? The one minute of airtime devoted to the BBC matter comes off as especially ironic, given the fact that the Hutton inquiry was largely a distinctly non-American issue; it's almost as though Gibson is gloating when he says above, "...remember it was the Beeb caught lying."

The operative word, of course, being "caught."

One thing's for sure; ITV and BSkyB would never have behaved in such a crass fashion.

(Previous–and very relevant–reflections on FOX News.)

Posted at 11:55 AM in a Grave fashion.
One Dimension, at most

"[Dimension] broke the glass ceiling. Instead of looking up at it and wondering, What goes on up there? they found out. [The Weinstein brothers] love money. It was, Oh my god, isn't this wonderful. And it came in so fast it was mind-altering."— Jack Foley, former VP of Distribution, Miramax as quoted by Peter Biskind in Down and Dirty Pictures, page 173)

They apparently also found the rock-bottom, and went right through it:

Title: Girls Gone Wild
Log line: A thirtysomething woman endures a horrible breakup with her boyfriend and decides to go a little wild on a vacation with two best friends.
Writer: Anya Kochoff
Agent: Endeavor
Buyer: Dimension Films
Price: n/a
Genre: Comedy
Logged: 2/2/04
More: Pitch. Anya Kochoff and Josie Rosen will produce.
(From Done Deal, Feb. 3, 2004)

Anyone care to guess the cast? Debra Messing, perhaps? Maybe Lea Remini? Or maybe Kari Wuhrer.

Posted at 10:31 AM in a Shallow fashion.
"What Me, Junkie?"

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Mad woman Courtney Love.... and MAD's Alfred E. Neuman.

Related: Check out how much MAD has changed (under editor John Ficarra) since you were ten. The 'usual gang of idiots' are carrying switchblades:
"A Variety Ad We'd Like to See..."
"If Norman Rockwell Depicted the 21st Century"
COPPA be damned: this isn't your kid's MAD.

Posted at 8:37 AM in a Shallow fashion.
I think they sell hoagies

From Roger Friedman's FOX 411 column, Feb. 3, 2004:

Of all the Super Bowl ads on Sunday, my favorite was the one for Monster.com. Kudos to the creators of it who used a little known piece of music from the early '80s called “I Dig You” by a group called Cult Hero. Until I heard it on Sunday I thought I was the only person in the world who knew this record ever existed. I don’t know what Monster.com is, but it must be smart…

Sidebar: Can any superfans confirm this Cult Hero/The Cure thing?

Posted at 7:45 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  February 2, 2004
Justin and Janet and Mick and Tina

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Sir Mick: "Let me help you with that, Tina, darling."

This is for all you kids who are excited about the fact that Justin Timberlake "accidentally" tore off Janet Jackson's costume during the half-time show at the Superbowl. I want to tell you it's already been done way the fuck back in 1985 by Mick Jagger and Tina Turner at Live Aid. Oh, and they pretended it was an accident, too.

But they did for all those starving kids in Africa, not for Viacom.

Posted at 2:16 PM in a Shallow fashion.
Zakk Moore: "surfer-Dell guy-meetsDude, Where's My Car?guy"

zakkmoore.jpgI gotta admit, I'm a total sucker for feature articles about nobodies who are on the cusp of becoming somebodies or just don't quite make it and remain, well, nobodies.

I could live a long and happy life If I never read another Vanity Fair cover story on Gwyneth Paltrow again, but it would be a depressing life if I could never read another article like Dave Gardetta's Desperately Seeking Spicoli in the new Los Angeles Magazine.

The story of aspiring actor Zakk Moore's journey from John Deere country (Quad Cities, Illinois) to minor "surfer dude" character actor in the town known for its love of John Deere trucker hats (Hollywood), Zakk's saga is the same one we've heard a million times before.

Will he wind up on VH1's Driven like Iowa's own Ashton Kutcher, or will he be the next Courtney Gains doing regional theater and straight-to-video? Only time will tell.

Continue reading...
Posted at 1:51 PM in a Shallow fashion.
Sympathy Letter: Owen Wilson

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Hansel contemplates: So what if the The Big Bounce Dere-licked balls?

"Owen Wilson's comic crime caper 'The Big Bounce' bombed with $3.3 million, finishing at No. 12 and averaging just $1,439 in 2,304 cinemas."— You Got Served wins box office

I guess he really is the minus man.

Posted at 12:19 PM in a Shallow fashion.
Grey on Grey

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Enough, now. Whether you're a writer for Rolling Stone, or a producer at MTV.com, or some ad-agency employee in Detroit, or, ultimately, Ben Greenman writing for the New Yorker, you really have to calm down a bit regarding your anticipatory coverage of one particular underground hip-hop release.

I've been patiently biting my tongue for the past month, now, after having received a copy of Danger Mouse's supposed magnum opus (the oft-celebrated, though not-yet-released, Grey Album, his mashup of the Beatles' White Album with Jay-Z's 2003 Black Album) over the December holidays, but, finally, it was Greenman's most recent "Talk of the Town" piece that pushed me to write this. If, after all the incendiary hype documented above, you've been eagerly awaiting the album's unofficial bootleg release sometime in the coming weeks, trust me, don't.

While a significant portion of Greenman's material seems to have been culled from the same press release as was featured in this week's Rolling Stone, the New Yorker piece nonetheless does a reasonable job of detailing the record's handful of tracks that do, in fact, have any listenable value. Notably, this includes Jay-Z's "99 Problems" laid over the Beatles' "Helter Skelter," as well as Danger Mouse's reconstruction of the Beatles' “Mother Nature’s Son.” Also appearing on the album, however, are a number of strong reworkings, including the album's opener, featuring a mŽlange of Jay-Z's vocals and the Beatles' delicate psychedelia. There's also a blend of the backing track from "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" dubbed under Jay-Z's lyrics, as well as a tasteful reworking of "Encore," one of the better tracks off of the Black Album. Except all this hype misses the bigger picture, that is to say, well, Jay-Z sucks.

Do yourself a favor: temper your expectations a bit, download the Grey Album from your favorite RIAA-antagonistic file-sharing service, listen to it a few times, enjoy it, even, and then go out and purchase Danger Mouse's much better 2003 full length album, DM & Jemini - Ghetto Pop Life, out on the UK-based Lex Records imprint. While a number of British publications called Ghetto Pop Life last year's best hip-hop record, they might very well be right (despite the British musical press' contentions that the Strokes are, in fact, good). Featuring sharp, crystalline production (as opposed to the tinny, vinyl-sourced White Album material), ample hooks, and lyrics that manage to be sharp, clever and yet fun all at once, the album hearkens back to early-90s era Tribe Called Quest or De La Soul material. Better yet, you can preview full-length tracks at Bleep.com.

You want retro-oriented hip-hop? It's 1993 all over again.

Posted at 11:11 AM in a Shallow, Soundproof fashion.
But they'll play obscure cable access shows like Late Show with David Letterman and Last Call with Carson Daly

spincover.jpgFrom The New York Post's On The Newsstand column:
"The fab four of the cover of Spin won't be playing Ed Sullivan anytime soon, or probably any talk show you know."

From Matador Records' Interpol Web site:
02/03/03 — The latest
In the wake of appearances on 'Late Nite With David Letterman' and 'Carson Daly Is On Daily' (ed note: Nils, please fact-check this program name, I don't want any of those TV booking people blackballing our bands for another 5 years again. I swear I'll kill myself if that happens), Interpol have another round of US touring scheduled to start in mid February. [ironic 'ed note,' theirs.]

From BBC News, Jan. 9, 2004:

"The Darkness' jump comes as they begin to promote the album in the US, with an appearance on David Letterman's chat show on CBS lined up for Friday."

Posted at 10:32 AM in a Shallow fashion.
  February 1, 2004
Ten Years Ago in SPY

Actually, more like 15 years ago...

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SPY, Nov. 1988.... U.S. News, Feb. 2, 2004

Posted at 6:44 PM in a Shallow fashion.
Make our "team" part of your "team"
jean-paul tremblayJean-Paul Tremblay written-ed, directed and co-produced a bunch of so-called "comedy" and "video" content, is notoriously competitive, and nonetheless settles for bottom-tier tokenism. Repped by John Herndon at Grape Dope Entertainment. Thrill jockey!
matt haberMatt Haber has written for The New York Times, Esquire, and The New York Observer. He is not allergic to pet dander and can do "ethnic" accents if the part calls for it. He is repped by Candy Addams at Entertainment 4-Every-1. Feeling special?
Guy Cimbalo is so cute! Yes, he is. Who's a cute little Guy? You are, you are! Guy's our very own star of stage and screen and is repped by Jeff Kwatinetz at The Firm. Rowr!
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