August 31, 2004
Conventionist: The Governator Speaks
From our perch in the upper balcony, Conventionist was able to get a strong feel for the enthusiasm with which California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's speech was greeted tonight - and this is in New York! Conventionist - while we don't generally get involved in political matters - is excited by the idea of the star of Kindergarten Cop taking the stage someday in the near future to run for national office.
And while his accent proved to be a handful to some of the delegates from the so-called "Red States", they still whooped and hollored as the star of Red Sonja spoke of his support for President Bush's getting re-elected.
(UPDATE: Gov. Schwarzenegger did not star in Red Sonja, that was Brigitte Nielsen. And readers have written in to tell us that there is an amendment preventing a foreign-born citizen from running for our nation's highest office. Conventionist still holds out hope that this can be worked out...are you listening, Mayor Bloomberg?)
Conventionist: The Nominations are IN
The Republican Party delegates, as expected, have made it official: President Bush is the party's official nominee for the election. While Conventionist shies away from political matters, as an unofficial rule, we still hope that the race for the White House will be as exciting as it was for us to see the congregation of delegates from Pennsylvania gleefully cheer as their votes were cast, which officially gave the President the count he needed.
Conventionist hasn't been this excited since our on-set visit to Aaron Sorkin's "West Wing", where we had the opportunity to have our photos taken with Allison Janney. (More photos available at BlueJake.)
Conventionist: Laura Bush and the Floor Report
As expected, Conventionist toured the floor in full force tonight, and, lo and behold, not a single panda was in sight. You can imagine Conventionist's disappointment at this unexpected development...but Laura Bush's keynote address more than made up for this lack of Grand Ol' Pandas.
Conventionist would like to think that, politics aside, all New Yorkers, and, for that matter, all Americans, would be able to rally behind what sounded like a real tour de force to these ears. And while some readers may have problems with Mrs. Bush's husband, it's important to bear in mind that she showed her true colors tonight, and they are red, white, and blue.
Also, Conventionist recommends that all delegates see Radio 4 perform tonight at the Knitting Factory. Doors open at 9:00pm.
RNC 2004: From the folks that brought you "Escape to New York"
"George W. Bush sees world terrorism for the evil that it is, and he will remain consistent to the purpose of defeating it while working to make us ever safer at home." Former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani at the RNC Convention, Monday, August 30, 2004.
Wow, the city's former mayor is so right:
"States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world." (January 29, 2002, The President's State of the Union Address)
"This is an evil man that we're dealing with, and I wouldn't put it past him to develop evil weapons to try to harm civilization as we know it." (November 6, 2001, Bush warns of potential 'evil weapons')
"Your government is alert. The governors and mayors are alert that evil folks still lurk out there. As I said yesterday, people have declared war on America and they have made a terrible mistake. My administration has a job to do and we're going to do it. We will rid the world of the evil-doers." (September 16, 2001, Bush vows to rid the world of 'evil-doers')
"The English translation is not as eloquent as the original Arabic, but let me quote from the Koran, itself: In the long run, evil in the extreme will be the end of those who do evil. For that they rejected the signs of Allah and held them up to ridicule. The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don't represent peace. They represent evil and war." (September 17, 2001, Remarks by the President at Islamic Center of Washington, D.C.)
August 27, 2004
The definitive hot new cover pose for September 2004 magazines
RNC 2004: NYC's first responders attend their dress rehearsal and take the opportunity to study the other stage props
Today's Times reveals some of the excellent bells and whistles we'll be witnessing when President Bush delivers his speech before literally many, many delegates in New York. (For the President, Special Setup Is Planned at Convention, by Michael Slackman.)
A very special president deserves an extra-special stage. (It goes without saying that if Mr. Bush had participated in this year's Olympics in Athens, it would've been a Special Olympics, indeed.) As the article points out, to create a sense of "special intimacy" (there's that word again!), a centrally-located in-the-round stage will be erected.
What other special theatrics are in store for the convention?
President Bush will descend on a harness from the rafters wearing 25-foot angel wings.
And, if that's not all, it's free bat day! Well, for the cops outside it is.
If It's Brown...
Dear Newspaper and Magazine Headline Writers,
We gotta talk (er, 'write,' whatever). I know I've made fun of you guys in the past, and I know that's totally uncool. I was, like, in a bad place then, guys. I was just lashing at you for problems I was having with myself. Can you forgive me?
But, listen up. You gotta stop using GALLO'S HUMOR as a headline for Brown Bunny reviews, okay? I'm talking to you, New York Post, and whoever the hell you are, Zap2it.com. And, this sort of hurts me to say it, but you too, New York Times Magazine: I loved you the most.
Oh, come on. Don't cry. Please, please. Stop. I'm not just here to criticize, I'm here to offer help. If Vincent Gallo ever convinces international financiers to fund another film for him, you can use these headlines, okay?
Earnest Gallo Whines
They might not be perfect, but who is, right? (Pobody's Nerfect!) I still think you guys are great. BFF?
August 26, 2004
Shul of Rock
According to ScriptSales, Tina Fey and her agency, Endeavor, have just sold Curly Oxide and Vic Thrill for mid-six against seven. (Which anyone who's seen Adaptation. knows is 'industry speak' for "I know industry speak.") The story of "[a] Hasidic Jew and a grizzled rock musician [who] form a band," was inspired by a report on NPR and will inevitably star Adrien Brody (in a furry hat) and Colin Firth (in a name tag, since no one knows who the fuck he is). And the best part? While delivering some scripts upstairs, we heard that Brett Ratner might direct it!
As that last sentence hinted, we just started our new day jobs in the mailroom of the mailroom at Endeavor. (We couldn't get into the mailroom proper without M.B.A.'s.) It's a little thing called workin' your way up the old fashioned way, by being abused, and humiliated - and urinated upon - for years. It's awesome, and a great use of our combined $245,000 educations. (How's that for a mid-six against seven, huh, boss?). And, we actually managed to scoop a copy of Curly Oxide and Vic Thrill's first-act outline from the main fax machine before Hector, one of the senior mailroom guys, busted us. We're gonna do our best to score the other two acts when Hector goes on his 3 PM Jamba Juice run, and, yes, that's Pacific Standard Time, for all of you who think anything of note happens in New York.
In the meantime, check out this exclusive Tina Fey comedic buzz...Continue reading...
Settings > Repeat > On
In today's excitingly fresh edition of the New York Times' Circuits section, reporter Rachel Dodes has put together a charming little piece about iPods and the way in which they've begun changing music fans' listening habits. In "Tunes, a Hard Drive and (Just Maybe) a Brain", she presents a cute anecdote about a Columbia University grad student who threw a delightful dinner party while entertaining his guests with music played in a random order from his library of digitized music files, only to have the partiers erupt into laughter when the Shuffle-Button-as-DJ transitioned from Guns N' Roses into Elton John, which was apparently quite embarrassing.
"Such are the perils of using Shuffle, a genre-defying option that has transformed the way people listen to their music in a digital age. The problem is, now that people are rigging up their iPods to stereos at home and in their cars, they may have to think twice about what they have casually added to their music library.
Well, it certainly hasn't heightened the risk that a not-so-long-forgotten article from the Times' family of newspapers might be repurposed by the parent company. Writing for the Boston Globe on April 7, 2004 - a whopping four months ago - writer Joseph P. Kahn entertained readers with his "iPod Shuffle revolutionizing listening habits", which, you guessed it, discusses iPods and the ways in which they've begun to change music fans' listening habits. Or, in his own words, since the "Circuits" section's editors felt a literal transcription to be unnecessary,
"Even more wondrous than its sophisticated technology, though, is how the iPods and their ilk are changing the way music is being experienced, or reexperienced, by all sorts of audiophiles in all sorts of settings, from health clubs and school cafeterias to malls and subway cars.
For what it's worth, we, too, are guilty of repurposing our own content, in the sense that we've already made light in the past of the Times' short institutional memory.
August 25, 2004
Doin' the Lynndie Hop
Swift Boat Veterans Against Borgnine
Is there even a market for televising women's sports? I mean, why would beer-swilling, loutish men ever want to watch these events?
"USA's Kerri Walsh, bottom, and teammate Misty May celebrate after beating Brazil in the gold medal beach volleyball finals during the 2004 Summer Olympic Games at Faliro Beach Volleyball Stadium in Athens, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2004. (AP Photo/Adam Butler)"
(Thanks to Jessica B.)
Your Ultimate Movie Guide for the Week of August 27
As Friday approaches, discriminating moviegoers across the nation (or at least in New York and Los Angeles, which technically spans the nation) will have to opt between some stellar choices when they head out to see some of the various new releases that the studios are unleashing this weekend. In the interest of simplicity, we've reduced the available films to a concise list of two, both of which will realistically be of keen interest to this site's loyal readers.
And just like that - SNAP! - this election is so totally over
From Remarks by the Vice President and Mrs. Cheney Followed by Question and Answer at a Town Hall Meeting, Davenport, Iowa, August 24, 2004:
QUESTION: We have a battle here on this land, as well. And I would like to know, sir, from your heart -- I don't want to know what your advisors say, or even what your top advisor thinks -- but I need to know what do you think about homosexual marriages.
August 24, 2004
Yes, that's the title they give to the runner-up in the race for "Mr. White House"
Stealth Bombing the Stage: 2004's Hottest New RNC Design Motif
With captions taken from original sources:
A brief summary of the 2004 Olympics thus far, from the perspective of someone who has not been following the Summer Games
1. The U.S. basketball team lost in the first round to Puerto Rico, which is apparently some sort of American colony. This was very humiliating.
2. The American softball team took the gold. Softball is played by women. I have no idea what is happening in the baseball realm.
3. I think I saw something about some tremors or an earthquake of sorts striking Athens. That, or I might have been having flashbacks to The Day After Tomorrow.
4. The newly-sovereign state of Iraq sent a team of soccer players to the games this year, alongside one swimmer. I like to imagine that this waterbound fellow is the ultimate Pixies fan and is known to pump himself up before meets by singing "Ride a tire, down the River Euphrates..." He has not stated for the record, however, his opinion on Trompe Le Monde, though I'm fairly sure he would agree that "Alec Eiffel" is a great track.
5. I miss Greg Louganis. That was a human interest story that I could really wrap my head around.
Election 2004: Your Handy Guide to the Issues that Matter Most at this Precise Moment in Time
FUN FACT #1: According to Reuters, mere hours ago, the American-led team of Iraqi security forces "moved to within 400 meters (yards) of a holy shrine in Najaf on Tuesday, just hours after the government warned Shi'ite rebels inside they would be killed if they did not surrender...An aide to radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said his Mehdi Army militia was ready to negotiate to end the fighting, which has killed hundreds, driven oil prices to record highs and touched off clashes in seven other cities."
FUN FACT #2: "Najaf" means "dry river." Of course, there's no way to maneuver "swift boats" in a so-called "dry river". What, then, do swift boats have to do with the important developments taking place in Najaf right this very moment? Oh, wait, wait, wait..."swift boats" have nothing whatsoever to do with Iraq, the U.S. economy, healthcare, the American class system, or other issues pertaining to a race for the presidency of the United States. Hell, swift boats don't even have anything to do with gay marriage or constitutional amendments.
It all finally makes sense! God bless you, American media! God bless us, everyone! This is Tiny Tim, signing off from Darfur.
August 23, 2004
Unintentionally Hilarious Photo of the Moment, Vol. 33
(Thanks to Michael.)
August 19, 2004
RNC Protests 2004: Two noble ideas that effectively cancel each other out
Blue New York: (from their website) "All New Yorkers should put blue in their windows. Simple as it may be, the image of an entire city blanketed in blue, building to building, window to window, will be the most powerful and poignant protest imaginable. Rather than flooding the streets with placards and bumper stickers, an image of New York draped in one single color will demonstrate to the world a clear message: we, as one city, want a change for our country."
Light Up the Sky: (by way of The Nation) "Milton Glaser, a longtime friend of The Nation and the designer behind the "I Heart NY" campaign, is back with a new idea: He proposes that New Yorkers welcome the GOP in August with a display of light." (More information, by way of the Village Voice:) "Glaser has organized a protest—one that requires no permit and can receive no complaints of crushing grass—called 'Light Up the Sky.' On August 30, from dusk to dawn, those who wish to participate can leave the lights on in their apartments and/or congregate in the streets with candles, flashlights, and glow sticks."
Oh Yeahhhh! I've fallen prey to outsourcing
August 18, 2004
David LaChapelle can go saturate himself
September approacheth! The all-important ninth month of the year, the introduction to the fall fashion season, when Vogue annually releases their most important issue ever, with all its concomitant power to make or break fashionistas everywhere. And now, here it is: the cover image for their much-anticipated September 2004 issue, and, hold on a minute and put away your excitement stick, because there are fucking models on the cover. Quelle surprise! I, personally, was at least hoping for a shake-up of sorts, maybe some Vanity Fair-esque "celebrities", but, alas, photographer Steven Meisel is notoriously stronger behind the camera when dealing with your everyday stellar-looking pretty faces than those who are famous for being famous.
Thankfully, we can bear verbal witness to Master Meisel in action due to the release of these exclusive, in-no-way-fictionalized on-set transcripts from the magazine's cover shoot. All 25 inches thereof.
"Daria, darling, move left more...more...more. Don't you worry about being obscured by the barcode. I hardly know who you are anyway, but you're lucky to be on the cover in any form, and we absolutely need to fit more of Gisele in the shot here. Yes, of course. Ms. Bundchen is our star! Yes, my angel. This is the September issue...a triple-gatefold, honies, and there are nine of you, and as I'm sure you're well aware, you calculus-laden vixens, you, we need an evenly divisible increment of nine, or three ladies per panel. Believe me, if I could chop one of you in half and do a two-paneled 4.5er, I would. But it's Lancome's mathematics, ladies! And, if anything, I'm quite nearly positive that Lancome is the guy who discovered the constant ratio of a circle's radius to its circumference. How many times does pi go into a triple gatefold September cover, I wonder?
And stylists! Stylists! Snap to attention. I need more pink! Rich, vibrant pink! Reds, reds, pinks, whites. Layer gorgeously, ladies, layer it. Shades of pink abound. Bathe in its glorious glow. Wrap yourselves, honies, wrap yourselves. Let these gowns absorb you, cherish you, encapsulate you...And stay on the tape line. Focus, ladies, focus. Gisele, put your mobile away. You can call that little man of yours when you are not on my clock. On, I say, as opposed to over, which is what he is.
Who is that colored woman? Liya? Get her out of the first panel. This is Vogue, not National Geographic. OK, I'm sorry, you're right. Sorry. Ha ha, I joke! But I am serious nonetheless. This is September, after all, when I am most prone to racist humor. But you ladies knew that already. Now, move her. No, Karolina, you're in the second panel. No, no, scoot over. Your agency and I agreed to this. I don't care what she told you. No, I DO NOT CARE about Sports Illustrated. I swear, honey, you need to look more passionate as you clutch Isabeli's arm. It's passion, that's all. Keywords: Desire. Sensuality. Fabric. Threadbare. Discomfit. Petulant. Oblique. Garage. I would hope that each of you can simply clutch a goddamned arm for a few minutes, and continue to look gloriously still and inanimate in the process. I'm a modern-day Vermeer.
Good gracious, where is Karen? Number nine? Anyone? Todd, go check her dressing room. Right now. Go, go, go. Gogogogogogo! Oh, she's still at Bing's pad, huh...Goddamn that rascal, I've had more of my shoots befouled by that man, directly or indirectly, than Gregory Crewdson's got issues with his F-stop! Ha, ha, ha! A little joke. September is also the month when I feel free to "dis" my photographic peers, because, yes, I am shooting Vogue magazine. All right, then, we'll put her in afterwards. How I abhor working digitally, but it's got to be done.
My, how you lot infuriate me. I'm Steven fucking Meisel, and I'm almost of the mind to subject you to a delicious Meisel-brand ass-raping, but alas, I've got another E! network taping to attend at 3 o'clock this afternoon. Bon-bon!"
RNC Protests 2004: The official outlet for NYC children who dislike Bush, globalization, and sticky candy
From "Just Keep It Peaceful, Protesters; New York Is Offering Discounts", the New York Times, August 18, 2004:
Law-abiding protesters will be given buttons that bear a fetching rendition of the Statue of Liberty holding a sign that reads, "peaceful political activists." Protesters can present the buttons at places like the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Sex, the PokŽmon Center store and such restaurants as Miss Mamie's Spoonbread Too and Applebee's to save some cash during their stay.
A "fetching rendition of the Statue of Liberty"? Try "patronizing" and "childlike" instead.
August 17, 2004
The underexploited art of positive self-affirmation
Though, admittedly, it is easier to hug yourself when you pull in 58 percent of the vote after facing a presidential recall initiative.
This guy's got the edgiest onstage routine since Paula Poundstone joked about endangering her adopted children
In today's Washington Post, Dana Milbank reflects on the re-emergence of that old staple of Campaign 2000, the "Bushism". And included in his anecdotal sampling (not to be confused with Jacob Weisberg's voluminous take on this phenomenon over at Slate) was the following rather strikingly non-humorous bit of insensitivity from a campaign event in Florida last week.
From Remarks by the President at "Ask President Bush" Event, Okaloosa-Walton College, Niceville, Florida, August 10, 2004:
But we've got some strong allies, staring with the Prime Minister of Iraq, Prime Minister Allawi. They tell me the story of him. He was in London, England. He was in exile from his country because Saddam hated him. He wakes up one night and an ax-wielding group of men tried to hatchet him to death, or ax him to death. I guess, you don't hatchet somebody with an ax. (Laughter.) And you don't ax them with a hatchet. (Laughter.) He wakes up, the glint of the blade coming at him, and he gets cut badly, escapes. The guy hit his wife who never recovered, really.
Reading the transcript, it's unclear whether he kept the crowd of rancorous Republicans "laughing" with some horribly asinine quip about an "axe wound that never healed." But one can imagine. And we do.
So, What Do You Do, Neil Strauss's Dirty Subtext?
Today, every unemployed New York freelancer's favorite website, Mediabistro (okay, second favorite after this), interviews renaissance man Neil Strauss about his latest as-told-to book, How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale, by New York Magazine zeitgeist girl Jenna Jameson.
Since the interview is sort of boring, I thought I'd help spice it up by selecting the hottest bits and excerpting them for you. So, herewith are the choice cuts sure to excite even the most passive reader:
Tongues wagging... hard time... deviant... comes... oral... atop... mouth... came... came together... comes... Judith Regan asked me if I wanted to do it... hanging out... How did you get her to open up... we were both totally shaken... She couldn't even sleep that night... very intense... stripper... pimps... get in touch with the female... told Jenna to tweak anything she wanted... David Laskin, took me... mature... Britney Spears... I got started so young... opened... climbing into bed with Jewel... tangled... I'm stuck... restrictive... fucking as an art...
This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours
Last week the literary-minded blog world (the mind reels) got bent out of shape by Leon Wieseltier's review of Checkpoint in the New York Times Sunday Book Review. This week, however, those same watchdogs seem to have missed a more legitimate target - the Times' apparent inability to distinguish fiction from non-.
This week's non-fiction Books in Brief section featured the presumably non-fiction title Borges' Travel, Hemingway's Garage. Per the Times, Mark Axelrod's book recounts some of literature's secret histories:
Axelrod reports on the philosophical quarrels between Leibniz and Newton that fueled the competition between dueling cookie franchises Choco Leibniz and Fig Newtons…
Rembrandt invented the toothpaste that bears his name not only to avoid financial crisis, but, according to Axelrod, because he was tired of painting portraits of unsmiling subjects afraid to display their bad teeth.
While the average cultural illiterate/Times editor might reasonably take Axelrod's stories for truth, perhaps the name of Axelrod's publisher - Fiction Collective Two - should have tipped someone off.
August 16, 2004
Seven ways to mend Open Water's open wounds
Since we consider ourselves humanitarians at heart, we're thoughtfully putting forth this helpful list of activities in which you may want to consider engaging, in lieu of seeing the recently-released hokum that is Open Water. Seriously. Any of these options serve as good, worthwhile alternatives. Hell, exhaust the list if you have to.
1. Bask outside near a neighbor's pool, or a city pool, or whatever. It hardly matters. Study the people flailing about in the water and try and pick out who you think might be the worst actors if you were to go into a career producing community theater workshops and needed to hire these people. While engaging in this impromptu casting session, it could be fucking raining or hailing and you'd still be better off.
2. Oh, and before you go to the pool, or beach, or whatever, take at least twenty to thirty minutes too long to get there, until you've bored your mates to death with some asinine and wholly irrelevant setup about how "you need your vacation time to escape this crazy job." Even if you're not on vacation, because remember, the only possible goal for this entire exercise is to annoy your audience, unless maybe you're merely padding the trip's length, in which case, it's still not OK, and you, my friend, are an asshole. And when you eventually arrive at the pool, sit around for a good while longer doing nothing more than engaging in some worthless exposition about how nice it is to not be working.
3. Stare at the pool longingly, and mull over the fact that maybe, just maybe, the water is well-heated, and if you were to slit your wrists and just lay there awhile, you might be put out of your misery.
4. Eh, fuck the pool. Throw a dinner/discussion party, and set the evening's topic to "Examples of Films Being Produced on DV Because They Don't Deserve a Real Film's Budget". If anyone brings up Anniversary Party as an example, come to its defense, and explain how you'd rather watch that film ten consecutive times than have to endure Open Water.
5. As dinner approaches, keep devising stalling tactics to fill up time. For instance, exclaim loudly that you think your leg is getting cramped. Oh, wait, look at that, that cleared up! Phew! Now, however, you're falling prey to motion sickness, even though you're seated at a table. Oh, that, too, passed. Wait! Hey, look, I think I saw a car drive by outside this window over here, oh, wait, it turned the corner and is gone now. Shit, I'm getting a cramp again. If your dinner guests start beating you about the face mercilessly, it's entirely forgivable because they clearly have some understanding of a bad narrative structure.
6. Think about that episode of Magnum, P.I. that was comprised solely of Tom Selleck being stranded in the ocean, having to tread water for hours on end while he endured a torrent of waves and other oceanic dangers for the duration of the entire episode. Make note that this particular episode of what would otherwise be bad network television comes off like fucking Antonioni or Kieslowski compared to Open Water.
When William was young, he had to stand in the sun for hours and walk three miles to school to do what you kids do today. Oh, he still does.
From Chavez Appears to Survive Referendum, the Washington Post, August 16, 2004:
The opposition also had to outpoll the millions of Chavez supporters who flocked to the polls Sunday, eager to retain a president who has used the country's soaring oil revenue to provide health, education and food programs for the nation's poor majority.
From Ignorance Is No Longer Bliss, Smartmoney.com, August 11, 2004:
Young voters have stayed away in droves in the past, despite high-profile attempts by the likes of Rock the Vote, founded in 1990, and others to drum up electoral interest. In 2000, just 36.1% of eligible voters ages 18 to 24 even bothered to cast ballots.
Bill O'Reilly, the most-reviled media figure on the New York Subway System
A Fox News ad at Rockefeller Center, located roughly one block from the network's studio and headquarters. Hume, Hannity, Van Susteren, and the other guys? Their visages were left unmarked. Maybe these acts of defacement just mean that O'Reilly is a bad boss?
No, scratch that. Witness poor Bill, seen here in detail from a number of ads from stations all over Manhattan. And yes, in case you're wondering, those rectangular shapes used to be swastikas on the guy's forehead.
And fallen idol Pete Rose? He's just like the river Styx. No, wait, maybe Icarus?
San Francisco Giants manager Felipe Alou, after yesterday's win over the Philadelphia Phillies kept his team in playoff contention, whips out his copy of Edith Hamilton and waxes rhapsodic on classic Greek mythology:
"The wild card is the purgatory of the lost," Alou said. "It's a place souls go and wait millions of years until redemption. We have had a tough time, but there was always the possibility of the wild card. There are so many teams in this purgatory."
August 13, 2004
August 12, 2004
Meta-Viral Farkesque Video Link of the Day for People in Their Twenties Who Read The New Republic
You Shall Know Our Inspiration!
"In You Shall Know Our Velocity!, his first novel, Eggers tells another story of loss and its aftermath. After their childhood friend Jack is killed in a highway accident, Will and Hand decide to fly around the world, giving away the windfall money Will has recently received. And while their travels take them from Chicago to Dakar, Morocco, Estonia, and Latvia, the real journey is an interior one, into Will's tormented consciousness. He can give away his money—and the occasions for doing so range from the hilarious to the awkward to the poignant—but the voices in his mind are another matter."— You Shall Know Our Velocity!, summarized on ReadingGroupGuides.com
"This is the story of three friends (Green, Lillard, Shepard) from the big city of Philadelphia who go canoeing together out in the woods and mountains of Washington State after the death of a friend, Billy. Billy was obsessed with going there to search for the unaccounted-for $194,200 out of the $200,000 that famed airliner highjacker D.B. Cooper parachuted with quite possibly to his death in 1971 $5,800 of his marked ransom loot was found in 1980. Canoeing down the Columbia River, the trio soon finds that their canoeing experience goes wrong..., both horribly and hilariously wrong, as the river turns dangerous, and they have encounters with the crazy mountain men (Burt Reynolds) plays who live near the river..." —Without a Paddle, summarized on us.imdb.com
Breaking: Jim McGreevey, Ruck Star
New Jersey Governor James McGreevey plays rugby.
Reading (deeply) between the lines
In CNN.com's reporting that "Cheney blasts Kerry over 'sensitive war' remark", the story opens with the following lead (emphasis ours):
Drawing derisive chuckles from the crowd, Vice President Dick Cheney Thursday blasted Sen. John Kerry for a remark the Democratic presidential candidate made last week about fighting a "more sensitive war on terror" if elected.
The White House's official transcript of the event, however, hardly makes mention of the 'derision' expressed in the audience's laughter, which is instead more succinctly conveyed as follows:
Senator Kerry has also said that if he were in charge he would fight a "more sensitive" war on terror. (Laughter.)
"Laughter"? What the fuck is that? Boring — and not derisive enough — is what it is. And if there's one thing that drives this devoted newsreader crazy, it's the posting of an incomplete and inaccurate transcript on the White House's website. With that in mind, we've taken it upon ourselves to provide you with the complete and unedited script of events as they ensued at the Dayton Convention Center during the Vice President's controversial speech.
[Heavily, heavily revised take on] VP's Remarks in Dayton, Ohio, Dayton Convention Center, August 12, 2004:
Senator Kerry has also said that if he were in charge he would fight a "more sensitive" war on terror. (The gathering of large white men starts snickering, a delicate trickle at first, until three men in the back of the room begin to guffaw, which in turn leads to the audience's eruption into a hooting, snorting catcall of scornful, disapproving laughter directed at that fucking pansy Senator Kerry. Can he be any more of a faggot?) America has been in too many wars for any of our wishes, but not a one of them was won by being sensitive. (A man in a navy-blue business suit yells out, "You're damn right!" and nearby members of the audience stand up to give him high-fives.) President Lincoln and General Grant did not wage sensitive warfare — nor did President Roosevelt, nor Generals Eisenhower and MacArthur. ("Those were real presidents...they kicked the terrorists asses!" barks out an overweight and undereducated woman. The entire audience laughs merrily, because they know that George Bush is a real man, and a real president, and wouldn't be caught having gay sex like that swishy Senator from Massachusetts.) A "sensitive war" will not destroy the evil men who killed 3,000 Americans and who seek the chemical, nuclear and biological weapons to kill hundreds of thousands more. The men who beheaded Daniel Pearl and Paul Johnson will not be impressed by our sensitivity. ("I'm heading down to Bath & Body Works to torch that fucking place! Who's with me?" queries a furious, bespectacled man.) As our opponents see it, the problem isn't the thugs and murderers that we face, but our attitude. Well, the American people know better. ("You tell those Democrats, Mr. Vice President, sir! I may not know how to read, but the USA is number one in my book!" intones a middle-aged man waving a copy of the Wall Street Journal in the air.) They know that we are in a fight to preserve our freedom and our way of life, and that we are on the side of rights and justice in this battle. Those who threaten us and kill innocents around the world do not need to be treated more sensitively. ("Let's go beat our bitch wives!" cries out a cadre of supporters in the middle of the crowd, and the audience collectively hollers back approvingly. Someone else adds, "And our mistresses too!") They need to be destroyed. (Applause, followed by a bearded man yelling out, "I'm going to go attack some black homosexuals!")
This picture is totally making all the rounds, and like Teenage Fanclub, we're bandwagonesque
Not that's there's anything wrong with it! It's not as if the President were, say, a cheerleader, too. Oh, our bad.
(Thanks to Michelle.)
In Pompano did Publa Porn, a Portly Pleasure-Dome Decree
I usually leave these sorts of high/low literary parodies to the professional, but something about this piece in The New York Times today made me think of a poem I read in high school. (Insert your own "deep romantic chasm" joke here, pervert.)
[Al Goldstein's] company, Milky Way Productions, home of Screw and his long-running cable show, "Midnight Blue," went into bankruptcy last year. His mansion in Pompano Beach, Fla., with the 11-foot statue of a raised middle finger out back, was sold in June to pay debts.
68 and Sleeping on Floor, Ex-Publisher Seeks Work, by Andy Newman, Aug. 12, 2004.
The saddest part is the photo, which doesn't appear online. Goldstein is literally half a man: he must've lost 200 pounds from his stately plump frame. It's like watching Orson Welles turn into Don Knotts in the end. Actually, maybe the "colossal wreck" of Al Goldstein reminds me of another high school-era poem.
August 11, 2004
Scott Peterson, the New Playboy Advisor?
Or at least a Maxim advice columnist. This guy has moves straight out of The Ladies Man:
"Peterson first took her to an intimate dinner at a fancy sushi bar, where he paid extra for a private room, she said. He then asked her to come back to his room at the Radisson Hotel so he could change. He wasn't wearing a wedding ring, Frey said.
"Once in the room, he suddenly produced a bottle of champagne and box of strawberries from his leather bag.
"'[He] put one [strawberry] in each of our glasses,' Frey said. 'I remember eating one. They were a little bit sour.'
"The pair then went to a karaoke bar, where they slow-danced, nuzzled affectionately and then shared a single, passionate kiss."
August 10, 2004
Fat Cats in the Hat
Finally, the big-ticket endorsements for President Bush are coming in. Or, is this Bush's endorsement of another successful nepotism baby? Well, either way, hats off to you!
Things to do in D.C. when your boss and colleagues are away
According to MSNBC News, Colin Powell will not be attending the Republican National Convention at the end of August.
What will he be doing instead?
-Washing his hair.
Civil Rights Now...It's Playtime!
In today's New York Times, writer Shaila K. Dewan examines a newfound impetus among white southerners to begrudgingly reflect on their communities' roles in the civil rights movement which occurred many decades earlier. Is this due to a changing of the guard? An effort by younger generations to atone for the sins of their parents? Nah, come on, you're entertaining some pretty feeble guesses there...the correct incentive is, of course, greed.
It has not been easy for communities to embrace a past laced with shame and violence. "Tourism has been forced on these places," said Jim Carrier, a writer from Montgomery, Ala., whose "Traveler's Guide to the Civil Rights Movement" was published by Harcourt in January. "It's not like they put out a sign one day and said, 'Come on down and see our civil rights history.' It's in response to people coming down here, lugging big history books, looking for these places."
As a result, a handful of various groups in these areas have been putting forth initiatives for museums, monuments, and such that pay tribute to the era's struggles and, oftentimes, to specific landmarks that played a prominent role in the movement, such as the bus stop where Rosa Parks famously held her ground.
Museum gift shops bring in a good business, of course, so we're not knocking their ambitions in that regard, but think of the piles upon piles of cash that could be brought in by a goddamned Six Flags Civil Rights Memorial Park!
Included in this hypothetical RFP for a Six Flags-themed entertainment and water park spectacular:
Special "sit-in"-themed lunch counters, where you can dine on the finest in period-correct malts, shakes, and fries, so long as you drink from the properly-labeled "Colored Only" fountains
I Have a Dreamland, modeled after Disney's giant EPCOT globe, wherein visitors are taken on a guided tour of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's notable exploits, culminating in a thrilling assassination outside a mock hotel
Ride the 'Back of the Bus'-coaster, the wild up and down ride to freedom! And remember, they say with roller coasters, the biggest thrills are always in the back!
Experience the exploits of actual walking and talking Animatronic White Racists...for the first time ever, you, too, can feel what it's like to be called a n*gger, or to have this term impolitely muttered under robotic breaths as you enter or leave the room
Oh, and don't forget the water park:
Enjoy our climate controlled wave pool for the Brown vs. the Surf Board Experience!
And don't forget to leave before getting your very own Fire Hose Blast! What a thrill!
"Man Who Would Be Woody" Has publicist who would be Rubenstein
Coming soon to JTV: Straight Frum My Heart, a new reality dating show hosted by Keith Black, future relationships columnist for HEEB, and inspiration for a posable action figure (with tefillan grip!) from McFarlane Toys.
You know Keith Black, the new Woody Allen, right? He's everywhere, except on Friday nights and Saturday mornings. He's even in the papers:
"As a neurotic, bespectacled, highly therapized Jewish filmmaker from New York, Keith Black has more than a few things in common with his idol Woody Allen—except for one.
THE MAN WHO WOULD BE WOODY, by Maureen Callahan, The New York Post, Aug. 10, 2004
Too bad his dream girl's taken.
Oh well, you certainly can't buy publicity like that, right?
[Links via Keith Black's website]
Harold and Kumar Go On Friendster
For those interested in learning more about America's greatest civil rights triumph since the march from Selma, aka Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, you might want to check out co-writer Jon Hurwitz's Friendster profile.
Among his nine testimonials, there is the Asian Harold who offers:
And then there's his
Is it possible that we have located the ur-Harold and Kumar? Could this prove the Rosetta Stone to unlocking the secrets of this milestone film? Yeah, whatever.
August 9, 2004
I Want My Oy TV
Hoping to Build Network for 'Nice Jewish Boyz', by Jacques Steinberg, The New York Times, Aug. 9, 2004
Some jokes are just too easy to make—even for us.
So, it's now official. After the embarrassing downfall of Jack Ryan a few months back, the Republican Party in the state of Illinois has finally found someone to step up the plate and face the seemingly-impossible task of running to defeat the Democratic Party's up-and-coming superstar Barack Obama (have you heard of this guy? He's handsome! And elegant! And, oh my god, black!) in the race for the state's open U.S. Senate seat. And who's his new opponent? Former Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes, who technically hails from Maryland, but, you know, these things are all relative as far as state representation at the federal level is concerned.
On NBC's "Meet the Press" yesterday, Illinois' very own conservative firebrand and current Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, clarified some of the lesser-known aspects of the just-concluded grueling selection process.
"I spent five weeks trying to find good people," said Mr. Hastert, who said he approached state legislators and the former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka and Gary Fencik, an Ivy Leaguer who was a hard-hitting safety.
Mike Ditka, a "hard-hitting safety", and an elderly broadcaster...what a way to winnow, I mean, win!
While we're still waiting for Tim Russert to release the full, unedited transcript of yesterday's NBC taping, an on-set source was nonetheless able to provide us with some additional details regarding Rep. Hastert's list of potential candidate recruits, each of whom sadly passed on the opportunity:
Shannen Doherty, who withdrew after an embarrassing sex scandal of her own, involving her former husband being fellated by Paris Hilton on videotape. Paris Hilton has very nice breasts.
Abigail Fleck, child prodigy/inventor of the "Makin' Bacon" healthy bacon preparation device. Regrettably, she is still a teenager and therefore ineligible for the seat.
Richard Jewell, exonerated Olympic Pavillion security guard, passed on it, opting instead to do the voice of Chauncy, the talking cat, on the new season of The Family Guy.
Eric "Butterbean" Esch, the boxer and American patriot. Esch decided to return to his prior vocation as an adjunct professor of prose composition at Harvard.
Hiroyuki Nishigaki, creator of the stress-relief via anus-constricting regimen, was ruled to be ineligible because of his repeated references to "malarkey."
Farnsworth Bentley, P.Diddy's former manservant accepted the role but changed his mind when he was forced to sign his real name on the application: Ira Silverman.
Dave Eggers, noted autobiographer and meta-novelist, who withdrew from consideration after being told that his high school classmate Vince Vaughn could not be appointed by a hypothetical Sen. Eggers to a position in his office, due to Mr. Vaughn's noted tendency to smooth talk the pants off thirty-something-aged female lobbyists, which would of course compromise the ethical integrity of an Eggers administration, which would be An Act of Extreme and Utter Contempt for the Hallowed Halls of Congress, and These Are Things Which We Do Not Do, for They Are Not Honorable, and I Have Been Orphaned
A Berg type film
Witness an emerging trend in Hollywood marketing: if your film in some way involves Peter Berg (perhaps best known as the actor-turned-Very Bad Director of Very Bad Things), we can be sure that the trailer's typographic design will feature a simple sans-serif font (in the vein of Helvetica Neue) partially obscured by blurry type in the background.
We'll wait to see Berg's imaginatively-titled Hip-Hop Cops in 2005 to see if the trailer adheres to the Good 'n Berg (Style) Bible.
August 8, 2004
Unintentionally Hilarious Photo of the Moment, Vol. 32
August 7, 2004
It's Raining Men!
Update, Aug. 8, 2004:
President Bush's most flattering, least-confrontational pose ever
As 'Wicker Park' approaches, we present this definitive and comprehensive list of good, quality films starring Josh Hartnett
August 6, 2004
I'm Academy Award-winning actor George C. Scott, and I'm reporting for duty
HOT Literary Accessory: Axes
Gloria Emerson, 1929-2004
Speaking of the fall of Saigon...
If female journalists were as lionized as their male counterparts, Gloria Emerson would've already gotten the full All The President's Men treatment by now. I see a young Ali MacGraw or Diane Keaton circa Looking For Mr. Goodbar, or, if it were made today, Parker Posey as the compassionate, fearless Vietnam war reporter for The New York Times who died this week.
Of course, we'll probably never see such a movie, since female journalists only get the biopic treatment if they're martyred or the "based on a true story" treatment if they're beautiful and tragic. Meanwhile, this asshole has a film about him, and this schmuck is about to, despite the fact that neither of them has half the talent, bravery, or impact as Emerson had.
Unlike those pishers, Emerson actually reported her stories, even going so far as to risk her life in war-zones like Vietnam and Gaza. But while Emerson's male colleagues seem to have had a jones for the danger, the rugged manhood and camaraderie in the theater of war, Emerson brought uncommon compassion to her reporting. As Craig R. Whitney's Times obit pointed out:
War as she wrote about it was not ennobling but debasing, a misery that inflicted physical suffering and psychic damage on civilians, children and soldiers on both sides.
Emerson wasn't merely the war's reporter, she was its conscience. She probably wouldn't say that about herself, but she almost did when she said:
Vietnam is just a confirmation of everything we feared might happen in life. And it has happened. You know, a lot of people in Vietnam—and I might be one of them—could be mourners as a profession. Morticians and mourners.
She was such an important figure of that era, Richard Avedon gave her the full icon treatment with one of his myth-making portraits, which caught her mid-word, mid-thought, and mid-smoke, looking very much the model of forthright intelligence and intense focus.
As it turns out, there sort of is a movie about Gloria Emerson, or, at the very least, a movie that features her in her prime. In the 1988 documentary Imagine: John Lennon, Emerson pops up in a hilariously confrontational interview with the ex-Beatle who was then embarking on his anti-war "give peace a chance"/bed-in phase. Emerson chastises Lennon for his attention-grabbing antics and his Rolls Royce, repeatedly calling him "my dear boy," and cutting him off again and again. Lennon, knowing he's up against his rhetorical better, can only roll his chewing gum in his hand, make jokes about "the moptops" and act like a petulant child.
The only other person who got up in John and Yoko's shit more in that film was cartoonist Al Capp, but he came off like a crotchety oldster, Bob Dylan's out-of-touch Mr. Jones, whereas Emerson came off like someone who told it like she saw it, and knew exactly whereof she spoke. She stole the scene in John Lennon's very own film. I guess she got her movie after all.
Gloria Emerson was 75.
No Way, Boss. Everyone likes you. 'Cause you're great!
Guys, you know when your girlfriend asks you if you she 'looks fat in this' and you have to be like, "No way! You look fantastic!" But sometimes she does kinda look fat in that and maybe a guy on the street will say something like "thick" as she passes and you have to be like, "That guy is insane! You do not look fat at all!" But you're sort of relieved that someone else got to say it and not you? (Gals, this is probably like when your boyfriend asks about his endowment and you have to spin like Ari Fleischer at Equinox.)
Anyway, that's what it must be like to review a film critical of your boss for the newspaper your boss owns and operates.
Poor Meghan Lehman drew the short straw and had to review Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism for The New York Post, while her colleague Lou Lumenick got to see Code 46. (Mysteriously, Outfoxed's website is down! Coincidence?... Probably.)
With a headline like FAIR AND BALANCED, THIS DOC'S NOT, you can kind of guess what the critic is going to say without even reading the review. Lehman's conclusion? "Unbalanced." But my favorite part is this little rah-rah nut graph towards the end:
Fox News Channel consistently beats CNN and MSNBC, yet Greenwald approaches not a single viewer to probe the reasons for its popularity, nor a single current employee.
Yay! (I'll leave it to this guy to confirm or refute that claim.)
Prattling, ranting, and shopping: these are things women do.
Thursday. Some say it's the new Friday, and Friday is the new Saturday, and so on and so forth, but I say Thursday is still yesterday.
Yesterday, my friends, was quite a day. From the FEMALE PERSPECTIVE, of course. You want the grit and gristle of womanhood? Here it comes:
What would give you insight? Um, how about a trip to that affordable mecca of disposable fashion, H&M? Yes! That's right: females like to shop. And when you're this particular female, you shop on a budget. The Swedish superstore is the solution! Retail therapy is a cheaper version of Klonopin, after all.
Unfortunately, H&M was doused in pink. Yep -- pink shirts, pink pants, pink fucking socks from floor to ceiling. Suffice to say, Peptowhatever is in.
Not that I have a problem with pink.
I just don't like looking like a precious, vomitous mess. At least not on Thursday. Instead, I bought a brown shirt. And I bought it to look "hot" for you "men" so I don't have to "buy" my "own drinks."
Until the pay scale is completely equal, this is how it will be. At least it's all out on the table.
August 5, 2004
This is not my beautiful wife
So, in some strange twist of fate, my internet "presence" has landed over here at the lovely low culture where, I suppose, I am expected to lend a female voice. Meanwhile, JP will be launching diatribes of undetermined nature over at my old and neglected site, The Blueprint.
Female voice. Interesting. Inevitably, such a directive will lead to talk of menstruation -- and I'm not sure I'm ready to confess to you all that I'm two weeks late.
That being said, I'll be here and there today but more present tomorrow, at which point I'll have a better understanding of what it means to be a woman, thanks to some handy lessons from Matt and JP.
Don't Abandon the Mission
Oh, no! Kerry's having a Fall of Saigon flashback!
Mann at Work
As everyone knows, Tom Cruise goes 'dark' in Michael Mann's Collateral tomorrow. Paradoxically, his hair went 'light' to do so. (Shades—light shades—of Leland Palmer?) Cruise plays Vincent, a hitman destined to be described by lazy critics as "cooly efficient," who dragoons Jamie Foxx's Max into being his wheelman during a long night of Los Angeles mayhem. Most of the hits appear to take place in LA's East Side, preventing Mann from bringing us any more death in Venice. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)
Cruise is the most dapper, put-together hitman you're likely to see this year. (Generally, it's a bad idea to wear $400 shoes when you're killing people for a living.) Violating Pat Kingsley's embargo against any and all innuendo around her star client, Mann described Cruise's character to Lynn Hirschberg in The New York Times Magazine as "rough trade in a good suit." Watch out for that word trade: in Mann's world, it's everything.
Having not seen it, I can't tell you if Cruise pulls it off. But I can tell you I have all the faith in the world in Collateral's actual cooly efficient hitman: Michael Mann. Mann is the auteur of professionalism, a focused, precise observer of focused, precise men at work. Think of Robert De Niro in Heat, reading metallurgy textbooks to further his knowledge of impact-resistant safes, or Will Smith as the most intuitive, innately intelligent sweet scientist in Ali.
I always think of the eighties when I see Michael Mann's films. Maybe it's because of Miami Vice (a show I watched so obsessively as a kid that I think I believed I'd grow up to wear white pants with espadrilles to work as an adult). You can practically hear the sax solo from Glen Frey's "You Belong to the City" as the actors—usually men, but sometimes the criminally under-employed Diane Venora—smolder in the foreground and neon lights blur behind them in Mann's films. (Mann used the song in Miami Vice, but it wouldn't be out of place in Collateral, especially the part that goes "Nobody knows where you're goin',/ Nobody cares where you've been/ 'Cause you belong to the city/ You belong to the night/ Livin' in a river of darkness/ Beneath the neon lights.") Even The Insider, which was about corporate intrigue and journalistic ethics, not crime and brutality, looked and felt like a fresh police procedural, another Mann against the world epic.
Nick James, who literally wrote the book on Mann's Heat, pointed out the visual rhyme between that movie's black suited gentlemen bank robbers and ur-eighties artist Robert Longo's Men in the Cities series of drawings. Men in suits; men in the zone.
It's not Longo I'm reminded of when watching Mann at work, it's another eighties icon of cold masculine artistry: Mike Tyson. Before he turned into a circus sideshow act, Tyson was also seen as a technician, a man who did his job with ruthless precision. As artist/writer Keith Piper tells it in his Step Into the Arena monograph, "The story of the latter half of the 1980's is the story of the ascendancy of the specialist, and within this ascendancy Tyson has come to represent the supreme professional." Kobena Mercer, an art theorist and sometime Piper collaborator went so far as to describe Tyson as "a Reaganite cyborg, a fighting machine indifferent to anything outside the corporeal elimination of his opponent." (Tyson himself called his sport "the hurt business," rationalizing his passionless brutality as a job in which he's "Getting hurt, giving hurt… I got [sic.] no illusions about boxing—none. This is a brutal business," according to Donald McRae in Dark Trade: Lost in Boxing.)
A 'brutal business.' Sounds a lot like Vincent's gig in Collateral. Perhaps by pairing this character with an actor of similarly focused, cobalt ambition (Cruise is nothing if not a Reaganite cyborg, an acting machine), Mann has finally found an on-screen embodiment of his aesthetic and r'aison d'etre.
Well, maybe that's the explanation for Cruise's gray blow-out.
Someone Got a New Publicist
"MICKEY [(page) sic.] Dolenz, the ex-Monkee now starring in 'Aida,' celebrating at Un Deux Trois with co-author Mark Bego on the second printing of 'I'm a Believer: My Life of Monkees, Music, and Madness.'"
–Page Six, 4/5/04
–Michael Musto, La Dolce Musto, 4/3/04
August 4, 2004
Dick Cheney, I See You!
Related (?): Is Cheney standing in a grassy knoll?
Karl Rove for the Day, Vol. 7
With restrictions on campaign 'soft-money' contributions, Bush and Cheney turn to crispy money—extra crispy if you prefer.
Yet Another iPod Parody
Actually, no. It's a highly stylized riot in South Korea.
If anything, this headline clarifies why Bill Keller left me chained to a bedpost in Chelsea last week
Appearing in the August 4, 2004 edition of the New York Times, as part of their sly, witty, and oh-so-blunt coverage of the trial of the soldiers responsible for the abuse of Iraqis held at Abu Ghraib prison last year:
Couldn't they have phrased this in some other fashion? Really, you know, just bump around a few clauses....it's that simple.
August 3, 2004
Teresa Heinz Kerry Watch (Unscripted AM Talk Radio Session)
...Aaaaand we're back. Boy, folks, we've got another Heinz attack. Senator Kerry...assuming you're capable of it, and I understand if you're not, since she controls the purse strings in your family...get that woman of yours to stop shooting her reckless mouth off! It's this sort of disrespect that she's been purveying lately that really cheapens this race for the White House and, I'm telling you, will cause you to lose the election this fall. Regular listeners of this show will recall that it was just last week that the billionaire ketchup heiress told a prominent and respected reporter to "shove it," totally unwarranted, I might add, and, it turns out, the woman-who-might-be-first-lady has done it again, folks.
Yesterday, at a campaign stop for her husband, Teresa lashed out at several people who had gathered to support our president. You know, a counter-measure of sorts, to combat all the attacks on Bush. These supporters were at this Kerry event, out demonstrating their right to free speech — it's called the first amendment, folks — and gently shouted some cheers of "Four more years! Four more years!" And Mrs. Heinz turned to the crowd, a bunch of Democrats, and said, "They want four more years of hell." And these Democrats in the crowd totally ate it up.
They're all Bush haters, but we knew that. Sen. Kerry added to the fray when he laughingly expressed support for his wife's anti-Christian insults, and called these protesters a bunch of "goons." Unbelievable, folks. Unbelievable. Do they not have God down there in Africa, where this woman's from?
Also, need I remind you, folks, I hate homosexuals.
Unintentionally Hilarious Photo of the Moment, vol. 31
DNC and Out in Beverly Hills
As any first year journalism student worth his or her Bartlett's knows, someone once said, "The job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." What's usually left off from that quote is the second part: "Attend lavish parties thrown by the comfortable, enjoy the free drinks and delicious appetizers, then stab your hosts in the back with the little stick on the chicken satay."
Take Eric Alterman's September Atlantic article, "The Hollywood Campaign." Alterman seems to have spent most of spring lingering on the periphery of every industry party in Bel Air, Malibu, and Beverly Hills, visiting the sets of shows like The West Wing, and generally acting like a quiet, very judgemental member of every lefty stars' entourage, taking notes between sips of vintage wines.
It certainly reads like a fun assignment, much better than William Langweische's last few reports for the magazine. But the east coast red meat-loving lefty's time among the west coast lotus eaters seems to have bred some contempt in Alterman, the liberal liberals love to hate. His piece, replete with one of those oh-so-Grosz Steven Brodner caricatures of stars like Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford, is one of the most condescending portraits of Hollywood values since Nick Nolte plunged into Richard Dreyfuss and Bette Midler's pool in Paul Mazursky's Down and Out in Beverly Hills.
The comparison to Mazursky's film is especially apt, since Alterman draws similarly broad and contemptuous portraits of the people he encountered out in La-La-Land. Here's Alterman on Laurie David, environmental activist and wife of Larry David:
A pretty, brassy Jewish girl from Merrick, Long Island, whose close friends describe her as "pushy," David is one of those people who carry energy as if it were a communicable disease.
So, she's a JAP? Not just that, a hypocritical JAP: "Laurie David, who dedicates herself to fighting for improved fuel-economy standards and reviles the owners of SUVs as terrorist enablers, gives herself a pass when it comes to chartering one of the most wasteful uses of fossil-based fuels imaginable: a private plane. (She's not just a limousine liberal; she's a Gulfstream liberal.) "
So, she's a hypocritical JAP? Add to that, cheap:
Before joining ACT's finance committee, David sought entrŽe with a donation of $100,000. A number of Hollywood activists think she is taking a larger than warranted role, given that her wealth would allow her to be far more generous. These people, none of whom are willing to be named, told me that David tried to get away with giving ACT a mere $10,000, but was told that ten times that amount would be the minimum for the role she planned to play.
I'm sure Laurie's famously press-averse husband (squirm through Scott Raab's Esquire profile or James Kaplan's New Yorker piece to see just how little he likes being interviewed) is pleased he granted Alterman all that face time now.
Here's Alterman's description of political consultant Marge Tabankin:
In a town known for its obsession with thinness, Tabankin looks not unlike a kinder, gentler Bella Abzug, with warm green eyes and an inviting smile.
Yes, but is she jolly? And does she wear muumuus, Eric?
It's not just women who come in for a bashing for their unpleasant adherence to ethnic stereotypes or their weight. Alterman has some things to say about Hollywood's liberal men, too. Take screenwriter/checkwriter Steve Bing, who gets the old compliment followed by insult treatment:
And then there is the dashing Steve Bing, who manages to maintain his boyish, almost adolescent good looks despite a few lines on his face and a head of closely cropped gray hair. A film producer and real-estate heir, he has been nicknamed "Bing Laden" and called a "spermicidal maniac" by London tabloids, owing to his various romantic entanglements. (When the actress Elizabeth Hurley announced that she was pregnant with Bing's child, he issued a news release claiming that she had chosen "to be a single mother" and stating that their relationship was a non-exclusive one. He began proceedings to force a DNA test, which resulted in his accepting responsibility for the child. Bing also sued the billionaire corporate raider Kirk Kerkorian for invasion of privacy after Kerkorian had an employee grab some dental floss out of Bing's garbage in an attempt to prove that Bing was the father of his ex-wife's daughter.)
Wait, did I drop my copy of The Atlantic and pick up Vanity Fair (circa July 2002)?
With its sprawling scope and condescending tone, Alterman's piece evokes another, far superior, critique of wealthy liberals: Tom Wolfe's oft-referenced (but, based on the references, little read) Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers. Both pieces portray the wealthy as guilty, eager to please, easily fleeced babies swaddled by all that money.
Yes, it's fun to mock these people (South Park made great sport of Rob Reiner last year and has also bashed Barbra and ripped Redford), but it's too facile, too laden with envy and aspiration to hit the mark. Here's what Alterman concludes about the incongruity of millionaires and billionaires feeling disenfranchised in Bush's America:
On occasions when I've mentioned such contradictions and blind spots to smart Hollywood fundraisers, the response has been not so much explanation or excuse as a plea for indulgence—as if one were, after all, dealing with children, children who are very good at sharing.
Harsh, to be sure. Hopefully these "children" will forgive their mean new friend Eric, who came to their parties, behaved politely, and then said such hurtful things about them in the schoolyard the next week. As any parent will tell you, some kids play nice, and others never will.
After fifteen pages of Alterman's letter from Los Angeles (homeboy should change his title from 'senior fellow at the Center for American Progress' to senior longfellow!), I was reminded of another famous quote about journalism that every first year student can recite by heart as well. It's from Janet Malcolm's The Journalist and the Murderer, and it's so succinct, so canonical, it should be written in calligraphy on every J-school diploma:
Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full himself to notice what is going on knows what he does is morally indefensible. He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people's vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse. Like the credulous widow who wakes up on day to find the charming young man and all her savings gone, so the consenting subject of a piece of nonfiction writing learns—when the article or book appears—his hard lesson. Journalists justify their treachery in various ways according to their temperaments. The more pompous talk about freedom of speech and 'the public's right to know'; the least talented talk about Art; the seemliest murmur about earning a living.
And let's not forget that delicious chicken satay. Mmmmmmm. Those are nice.
A brief reminder that yesterday's terror warnings were not politically motivated
Each of the following four photographs was taken on Monday, August 2nd, 2004, after the Department of Homeland Security issued an urgent alert late this weekend that certain financial institutions may have been targeted by al Qaeda.
On an unrelated note (and when we say that, it of course always means we're being predictably sarcastic), it turns out the documents which served as the source of these cautionary alerts date back four years or so.
From "Intel that sparked alert dates to 2000", Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 3rd, 2004:
At a news conference Monday, [Fran Townsend, the White House homeland security adviser] denied that political considerations affected the timing of the intelligence disclosures, which came the week after Democrats nominated John Kerry as their presidential candidate. "It had nothing to do with the Democratic National Convention," she said.
Young Men of Respect
First off, let me start by saying that I mean no disrespect by this post. I hope that the young Gotti boys—"The Hotti Gottis," as their website calls them—understand that this is a joke and don't get too upset. I watched your mom's show last night and thought it was great: like The Osbournes, but with fewer dogs and no satanic home decor. But you fellas reminded me of some brothers from another mother, and I just wanted to point it out.
August 2, 2004
An Open Epistle to One Night Shyamalan: 'Tis true, thine Village is but a mess, and rightly so
Ah, neighbor! Fear not that I shall spoil the contents of this tale, this Village, by Mr. M. Night Shyamalan, who is of the East Indian Colony descent. To spoil this particular collection of moving images would be to sully and tarnish what may, in other circumstances, be considered the very first adult-oriented dramatic work by Mr. Night (but, wait, shall I refer to him as Mr. Night? Or Mr. Shyamalan? Do tell....where has my Manual of Victorian Protocols and Civilised Behaviors gone?).
Alas, it's already been predestined that this work has been sullied and tarnished by prior hands...the hands, in fact, of The Village's very creator. For what was, during the course of its first two acts—and, dare I say, well into its third—a fairly well-tailored, though not strikingly philosophical, manifestation of an adult morality tale conveying the struggles of a responsible people moving towards the 20th century, rapidly descended into ill-suited pablum of the worst bearing. It's the twist, you see, that did this so. The twist. A common gimmick, a device of unscrupulous origins, better served by carnival barkers and those who peddle ill-advised medicinal herbs and the like (and others of such questionable ilk and lower standing).
A truly gifted story-teller should, nay, would know when not to wield such gimmickry. I put forth these opinions not because I believe that this or any other thing was so because I thought so, but only because I did think so and I want to be quite candid about all I thought and did. These were my thoughts about The Village. I thought I often observed besides how right our story's guide was in what he had said (and what he had drawn for us onscreen), and that the uncertainties and fears on my part, that he would behave as he had in the past, and undermine my newly-restored faith in his skills as a narrator, would cheapen this current work so...
And then, his twist. His cursed twist, brought forth unto his audience like a wanton harlot, ravaged by storytellers of lesser merits, and thrown to the pack of judicious scoundrels who perhaps feared having to sit through two hours (by my pocket watch) of well-considered ideological narrative.
I've imparted to his nature this bit of ill-gotten reliance on commonplace conventionality, and I thus entreat him to explain his motives. And I may render a new line of consideration, as well: Where were the Negroes amongst the townspeople of this Covington Village? Pray tell, why would this assembled gathering of families and individuals take flight from the ravages of urban life, with its concomitant looting and violence and savage rapes and murders aplenty, and not one of those hailing from this Philadelphia region of the Pennsylvanian state would not be of the peach-hued variety?
(In my many travels, I have heard the rhymes of that city's great Roots band, and they are not of the peach-hued variety.)
Who, then, goes into the woods and hides from "hordes of destruction" but those with fear and prejudice coarsing through their hearts? Why, White Supremacists, they might be called, and rightly so! And should the dusky-hued venture into such a town, would they not find themselves dangling from trees, cheeks bulging forth like overripened fruit? Strange fruit, indeed.
I ask of you, in the absence of modern lighting, do not flaming crosses illuminate a town such as this?
Mr. Shyamalan, you have some explaining to do. I should hope to receive your rejoinder, post marked with the utmost haste, delivered upon my doorstep and stamped with your signet within the fortnight.
If not, I can only conclude one thing: not only do twists you bring about, but you be twisted yourself.
It's uncanny how much her experience mirrors my last breakup
From "Suddenly single: Paris Hilton: Why I Split with Nick," an interview in the August 9, 2004 issue of Us:
"I was getting my makeup done [for a photo shoot for an upcoming cover of YM magazine], and it just hit me: I love Nick, but I need time alone. I called my psychic [L.A.-based Cipora Rekrut], and I asked her opinion. She thought I should be alone, and I agreed with her...I went straight to the Kabbalah Centre [in L.A.] and told everyone about the breakup and got a new [red string kabbalah] bracelet."
A Vast Literary Conspiracy
Jonathan Demme's updated version of The Manchurian Candidate opened to $20M at the box office this weekend. The film was preceded by much conspiracy-mongering about what sort of left-leaning hobbyhorse Demme and Paramount chief Sherry Lansing rode in on and if their film about the country's first "corporate owned V.P." bears any resemblance to anyone in real life.
Well, it turns out there is a covert agenda floated forth in The Manchurian Candidate, but it's not what you think: It's a vast conspiracy aimed at making freedom-loving American people do something we are constitutionally averse to do: read.
Demme's film is lousy with literary cameos. Check it out:
Walter Mosley (Bill Clinton's favorite author) plays a congressman
Of course, this being a Demme film, there are tons of other cameos from friends and colleagues: Roger Corman (also an author!) appears as a former president, a promotion from FBI Director in Demme's Silence of the Lambs. Artist/professor/fellow Lambs cameo-maker Jim Roche pops up, as do rocker Robyn Hitchcock, and the dude who plays Fuse TV's own presidential candidate, Haymish Fuse.
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