Present: Accomplished

The Boyz In Their Hoodz
Yes, he got a cake. A very, very nice one, too. But what about the prezzies for the Vice Prezie? What do you buy the man who has everything (including a democratic Iraq and a soon-to-be shrunken deficit)? How do you buy a present for a man who has given us all so very much?
We here at low culture agonized for weeks over what to give Vice President Dick Cheney for his birthday today.
It was hard, but we finally figured it out (with a little inspiration from someone who’s full of great ideas). We also got one for his bestest buddy, too!
Happy Birthday, Dick, wherever you are!


Smile, Birthday Boy!

Turn that frown upside down, Mr. Vice-President! You’re 63 years young today!
When you’re done with the cake, please pick up your gifts from David Kay, Paul O’Neill, and the Republican party at the White House gates.
(Thanks, Janelle.)


Fan Letter: Owen Wilson

Did Eli just say he was on mescaline? “I did indeed. Very much so.”
Our long, cold, Owen Wilson-less winter has finally ended: today, Owen hits the screen with The Big Bounce. Reviews indicate that the film is pretty lame, but everyone speaks highly of Owen, so that’s one reason to see it.
A remake of the 1969 Elmore Leonard-adapted piffle starring Ryan O’Neal, The Big Bounce boasts the sort of checkered parentage that births so many films these days. Directed by George Armitage, who started his career writing Gas-s-s, a druggy dollop of dreck for Roger Corman, but who’s gone on to direct some great, dark comedies like Miami Blues (which he adapted for the screen) and Grosse Pointe Blank, one of the best comedies of the 90s. (Miami Blues and Grosse Pointe Blank are both “daytime noirs”: mostly brightly lit comedies about conflicted, charismatic psychos.)
Big Bounce‘s other daddy is billionaire Hollywood hanger-on Steve Bing, who most recently wrote and produced the “slightly-better-than-a-stick-in-the-eye” comedy Kangaroo Jack, starring a rapping, CGI-‘roo and the fat kid from Stand by Me. As embarrassing as Kangaroo Jack is, Bing’s highest profile, biggest budget production so far has been Elizabeth Hurley‘s bastard child, Damian.
But forget all that: If we’re gonna see Big Bounce, we’re gonna see it for Owen. The Wonderful Wilson boys get a lot of press and love from fans: The ladies love Luke, the freaks sweat Andrew “Futureman”, but everyone’s gotta admit, Owen is the genius of the family.


“World Champions Sexy”

“Unbelievable Sexy!” Quicktime required
From the warped minds of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim comes the next European reality TV show to be optioned by Mark Burnett. Or maybe not. “Taste your own lips—you be the judge!”
When these guys are famous, you’ll say you linked to them when…
Sidebar: Other Tim & Eric movies.


A Real Live “Rapper”: Yours for only $129.99

“Oh my god! You bought me a rap singer!”
Another day, another Post assault on hip hop:
“The Post accompanied Dizzy on a mission to deliver a birthday greeting to Michelle Burkholder, a 26-year-old assistant shoe buyer for Saks.
“‘We always do special things for each other’s birthdays,’ said Stefanie Rogers, who’d hired Dizzy. ‘And this seemed like something totally different.’
“On arriving at Michelle’s office, Dizzy took off his jacket to reveal a huge silver crucifix, then launched into his rap:
This one goes out to Michelle Burkholder/ Back in Minnesota / Her momma used to scold her/ Now look where you’re at/ You’re a shoe buyer for Saks! . . .
And you look good Boo/ Sportin’ your Jimmy Choo shoes/ No one can do it quite like you do/ In them 7 jeans/ Struttin’ it up/ Flash a bling-bling/ Start shakin’ your stuff.”
“‘It was so funny,’ Burkholder said. ‘I kind of knew something was going to happen, but I had no idea it was going to be that.'”
For Diss & Dat
(yes, that’s the real headline), by Tom Sykes, The New York Post, Jan. 29, 2004
Buy your own hilarious rapper here: Rap-a-gram. (Available in “Pimp” and “Thug” models, as well!)


Insert your own Public Enemy Title Here

“The story, so far, of the Democratic primary is: Don’t believe the hype.”
—John Podhoretz, The Media Lose, The New York Post, Jan. 28, 2004
“Here’s a letter to the New York Post
The worst piece of paper on the east coast
Matter of fact the whole state’s forty cents
in New York City fifty cents elsewhere
It makes no goddamn sense at all
America’s oldest continuously published daily piece of bullshit
Here’s a letter to the New York Post
Ain’t worth the paper it’s printed on
Founded in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton
That is 190 years continuous of fucked up news”
—Public Enemy, “A Letter to the New York Post
Sidebar: I left out the headline, because I couldn’t decide between the following:
John Podhoretz: House of the Rising Son
John Podhoretz: Sophisticated Bitch
John Podhoretz: You’re Gonna Get Yours
John Podhoretz: Lost at Birth
John Podhoretz: Godd Complexx
John Podhoretz: Public Enemy no. 1


A Fool and His Money

“He broke the law by a multiple of forty.”
— Lowell Finley, on Governor Schwarzenegger’s $4.5 million campaign loan. (Schwarzenegger Calif. Campaign Loans Ruled Illegal)


Lorne Michaels’ New Hampshire

dean-hardball.jpgWhen Howard Dean appeared on “Hardball with Chris Matthews” last night alongside his wife, Judith Steinberg Dean, it seemed as though Matthews might very well have had Saturday Night Live’s Darrell Hammond serving as guest-host, judging by the frenetic tenor of the segment’s questions. There’s no way that questions this shallow could otherwise be accepted as having been asked on a so-called legitimate news program (For what it’s worth, neither Bill O’Reilly nor Larry King host legitimate news shows, at least by the time-tested standards of lobbying softballs to sympathetic guests. This is, after all, “Hardball”).
While it may be argued that when one interviews a presidential candidate alongside a potential future First Lady–a la Diane Sawyer’s similar session with Mr. and Mrs. Dean the other night on ABC–the questions should be more lighthearted and whimsical, this hasn’t been the practice (again, check out the transcripts of the Deans’ appearance on “PrimeTime Live”).
Some highlights of the appearance, in the “so absurd, this borders on Hammond-esque hilarity” category:

DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE HOWARD DEAN: I don’t know. I say what I think, is that a maverick? I guess I am.
MATTHEWS: (to Judith Steinberg Dean) What’s it like being married to a maverick? Because he is one.

Her response is rendered irrelevant, because you can already picture Matthews’ piercing visage seeking out her answer. After her demurring response, Matthews keeps up the absurdly base line of questions. You’d almost think he were interviewing George and Laura Bush with lines like these:

MATTHEWS: Do you ever say to him, “Why are you so gutsy? Why don’t you just go with the crowd on some of these things?”
STEINBERG DEAN: Absolutely not. He is who he is, he’s really really honest, you call it gutsy, I call it honest. I just think he says what he thinks.
MATTHEWS: Do you ever feel like your husband is being treated like a transfer student by the establishment? Like when you go to a new high school and everyone says “who’s this kid?”
STEINBERG DEAN: I think he is a bit of an outsider, but I think he’s very smart and people will hear what he has to say.
MATTHEWS: Do you ever say to him when you go to bed at night, “You should really cool it on that one?”
DEAN: She’s being modest, the answer is yes.

Governor Dean does get in one gentle swipe at the First-Lady-as-delicate-wallflower image, however:

MATTHEWS: The President runs the West Wing, which is the business of government, and the First Spouse runs the state dinners, travel with foreign dignitaries… a lot of business, the First Lady has a big staff. Are you open to playing that role? Are you happy about it?
DEAN STEINBERG: We haven’t really spoken specifically about what role I’d play, but I’d certainly have to do some of the ceremonial duties and I think I’d probably get a lot of help with the business.
MATTHEWS: You have to decide things like whether they have dinner outside with a bigger tent, or in the East room…
DEAN: No, she doesn’t have to decide that stuff. She has to show up, but she’s going to be practicing medicine most of the time. She is going to do some state dinners, but there are people you pay to do that stuff. You know, social hostesses and all that.

Here’s hoping this “invisible wife” motif works as a nice, centrist compromise between the past models of Hillary “vast, right-wing conspiracy” Clinton and Laura “I have no right brain, nor left brain” Bush.


It’s funny because it’s true!

Ahhh, ’tis January in an election year- and such a time of great merriment in our nation’s capital! Or so one might think after taking note of various politicos’ comments this weekend at Saturday’s Alfalfa Club dinner, an annual event at which so-called Washington insiders customarily crack wise about various Capitol Hill goings-on. What follows are some samples of this year’s notable jokes.
President Bush on Howard Dean:

“Boy, that speech in Iowa was something else,” Bush said, referring to Howard Dean’s field holler after placing third in the caucuses Monday. “Talk about shock and awe. Saddam Hussein felt so bad for Governor Dean that he offered him his hole.”

President Bush on John Kerry:

“Then we have Senator Kerry. I think Kerry’s position on the war in Iraq is politically brilliant. In New Hampshire yesterday, he stated he had voted for the war, adding that he was strongly opposed to it.”

Vernon Jordan, President Clinton’s former right-hand man, on President Bush:

“Mr. President, I feel like I’m at one of your Cabinet meetings — a blind man in a room full of deaf people. . . . let me take a moment, regardless of whether we are Christian, Jew or Muslim, and thank the Almighty, the one who controls our destiny as a nation — Karl Rove.”

Ok, we get it. Much like the annual speeches at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, the Alfalfa Club event is an opportunity to gently poke fun at national issues and figures. Both on and off the record, if you will.
Previous dinners, however, have featured a heavy dosage of self-reflexive humor, typified by a few of President Clinton’s choice snippets of years past:
Clinton on Clinton, 1997:

“We must find common ground. We are going to build that bridge to the 21st century — yadda, yadda, yadda.”

Clinton on Clinton, 2000:

”A year from now, I’ll have to watch someone else give this speech. And I will feel an onset of that rare affliction, unique to former presidents. AGDD: Attention-Getting Deficit Disorder.”

As far as the present administration is concerned, the only snippets of self-reflection I could find in this weekend’s public comments came courtesy of the notoriously reclusive Vice President Dick Cheney:

“Am I the evil genius in the corner that nobody ever sees come out of his hole?” he added. “It’s a nice way to operate, actually.”

Except these weren’t jocular comments presented at the Alfalfa Club dinner, but rather, remarks made to the press after Cheney’s appearance at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos. Ha!


The Daily Grinding Show

Miller, soon to grace the cover of VICE?
Finally! Tonight’s the night that the soulless pod person formerly known as Dennis Miller premieres with his new CNBC show and I couldn’t be more ambivalent about it. Part of me wants to see if this shaggy dog still has some bite, another part of me wants to see him put-down.
Miller was the ur-eighties hep cat comedian when I was growing up. His intelligent, wildly-associative riffs (or “rants,” as he came to call them) were oases of wit in a televisual landscape dotted with bad prop comics and even worse observational comedians standing in front of the exposed brick walls—firing squad style—of two-drink minimum comedy shitholes across the country.
While I’d like to believe that Miller was once a lefty, I know that’s not true. His politics, like his famously unruly hair, was all over the place. I recently caught Miller on an old episode of Late Night with David Letterman on Trio (which rebroadcasts Letterman’s juvenilia as “Classic Dave” every weeknight at 10PM EST) which disabused me of any fantasy that he was once a liberal. Dressed in a wide-shouldered black and gray checked jacket over a black button down (yes, I Love the Eighties), Miller went on a mini-rant about the Ayatollah Khomeini, replete with stereotypical “Indian” accent. (Hey, old Dennis: Khomeini was from Iran, where they have an entirely different accent you can mock for a cheap laugh.)
But what Miller had back then—despite difficulty pinning-down his exact politics—was an anti-authority attitude, an anger at the elites that dominated the eighties from Reagan to Boesky to Milken. Miller’s pre-9/11 outlook can be charitably described as anti-authoritarian/libertarian, but we all know that that’s changed. (For a better analysis of Miller’s conversion, check out Rick Chandler’s Miller’s Crossing over at The Black Table.)
Since Miller has jumped—swooned, actually—into bed with the G.O.P., he’s morphed into something like Lenny Bruce in reverse. Think about it: where Bruce shredded pieties and tore-down the hypocrisies of the 50s and early 60s, the new and improved Miller defends the status quo, and uses his comedic platform to bolster those in power. Forget speaking truth to power: Miller whispers sweet nothings in power’s ear and even writes jokes to come out its mouth from time to time. The shaggy mutt with the wily look in his eyes and the occasional fangs has become a lapdog, happy to roll over and have his tummy rubbed by the President.
Dennis Miller premieres tonight at 9PM EST on CNBC.
Sidebar: If you’re thinking CNBC is the network day traders watch between killing sprees, you’re wrong. It’s now the home of several comedy shows (intentional and otherwise) hosted by has-beens. Some dead drunk may have once said that there are no second acts in American life, but there are, and they’re on CNBC. How long ’till this guy has his own entertainment and politics show and tosses softballs to his cousin on-air?