We rewrite, you decide, Vol. 2

Regarding that whole “Mission Accomplished” fiasco of May 1, 2003, from “Bush speech anniversary draws scrutiny, commentary”,, April 30, 2004:

Bush defended the speech as he talked to reporters Friday during a Rose Garden appearance with Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin.
“A year ago, I did give the speech from the carrier saying that we had achieved an important objective, that we had accomplished a mission, which was the removal of Saddam Hussein,” Bush said.
“And as a result, there are no longer torture chambers or rape rooms or mass graves in Iraq. As a result, a friend of terror has been removed and now sits in a jail.

Regarding the broadcast of photos of American soldiers and contractors torturing Iraqi prisoners, from “Bush expresses ‘deep disgust’ at prison photos”,, April 30, 2004:

In the face of international outrage, President Bush said Friday that he was disgusted by photographs that apparently show American soldiers abusing detainees at a prison outside Baghdad.
“I share a deep disgust that those prisoners were treated the way they were treated,” Bush said. “Their treatment does not reflect the nature of the American people. That’s not the way we do things in America.”
“I didn’t like it one bit,” Bush added during an appearance in the White House Rose Garden with visiting Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin.

Not to belabor the completely blunt irony or anything, but both of the abovementioned remarks were made at the exact same appearance by the President this morning.


Fine, this just means 40 extra minutes of Jimmy Kimmel

koppel_thumbnail.jpgIn “Stations to Boycott ‘Nightline’s’ List of the Fallen”, the Washington Post is reporting that seven local ABC affiliates owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group have chosen not to air tonight’s episode of Ted Koppel’s nightly newsmagazine, which will be comprised solely of the anchor reading the names and displaying the photos of the 737 American troops who have perished thus far in Iraq.
In a statement on their website, the Sinclair Broadcast Group explains the “boycott” decision thusly:

Despite the denials by a spokeswoman for the show, the action appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq.
There is no organization that holds the members of our military and those soldiers who have sacrificed their lives in service of our country in higher regard than Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Likewise, there is no organization that holds the members of the free press and those journalists who have embedded themselves (and befriended subsequently-fallen troops in Iraq) in higher regard than we do here at low culture, so, in fitting tribute, we are hereby displaying the names and station ID’s of those affiliates that have “fallen” in the war on fair and accurate reporting.
WSYX, Columbus, Ohio
WEAR, Pensacola, Florida
WLOS, Asheville, North Carolina
WXLV, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
WGGB, Springfield, Massachusetts
KDNL, St. Louis, Missouri
WCHS, Charleston, West Virginia

Satirical Shallow

It’s Legally Blonde Meets the Bell Jar!

wurtzel.jpgThat Courtney Love of the lit world, Elizabeth Wurtzel tells Fox 411s Roger Friedman that she plans to attend Yale Law School come September. In a low culture exclusive, we have obtained Wurtzel’s successful application essay. Enjoy.
Question #10: Please add to this application whatever additional material you believe will enable admissions readers to make a fully informed judgment on your application. The admissions file readers especially welcome statements that enable them to understand the contribution your personal background would make to the student body at Yale Law School.
Extremely Personal Essay
by Elizabeth Wurtzel
The joke’s on me, but it’s gonna be okay
If I can just get through this lonesome day
It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright
It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright
“Lonesome Day” Bruce Springsteen

It’s been hard, I won’t deny it. And no, it’s not alright.
I must have been eleven, maybe twelve, possibly thirteen, when it struck me: I had never been molested, never raped, barely even made the object of a lascivious gaze. Indeed, I had been victimized by my own lack of victimization. Where was my victimhood? It was then that it struck me, at age eleven, maybe twelve, I would have to victimize myself.
It hasn’t been easy, I won’t deny it. I have suffered Job-like indignities in my relentless self-persecution.
I have survived dark nights of the soul when I forced myself to do drugs so that I might wake up the next morning suffering from the depression that excessive cocaine use often induces. Do you know what is like when you have to do an eight-ball of prime Colombian just to feel shitty? Really great at first, but then, not very good at all.
There were my desperate prayers for cancer. You cannot understand the compulsive, hopeful search for a lump until you’ve been there, standing in the shower, madly palpating each of your breasts as you murmur the word “melanoma.” I have been there.
It got to the point where I began spinning in circles for hours a day, if only to mimic the dizzy spells of a tertiary syphilitic.
I have been portrayed by Christina Ricci in a feature film that will never see the light of day. I mean, Christina Ricci? What about Scarlett Johansson or Kirsten Dunst or even Charlize Theron? No, Liz, we’re going to have you played by a fat, whiny actress who can’t even open a film. You can imagine what that’s done to my self-esteem.
But through the suicide attempts, accusations of plagiarism, and flagging book sales, I have relied on one certainty — my love of the law. Through all my whining, mewling, and caterwauls of privileged desperation, there has been only one constant — my desire to attend Yale University Law School.
Ultimately, I am a woman, a bitch, a lover, a sinner and a saint. Thank you India, thank you terror, thank you, thank you silence. Pity me, poke me, admit me to Yale, just don’t bother with goodbyes come morning. I can get through this lonesome day after all.
(N.B. I don’t recommend assigning me any roommates.)
[Matt, big ups for the heads up]


Today’s Journalism Lesson from the New York Post

Turning a press release into an article or caption is easy and fun. First, take a press release, say, for example, Gretchen Mol to Play the Title Role in Killer Films’ THE BALLAD OF BETTIE PAGE; Financed by HBO, Film is Directed by Mary Harron, and Written by Harron and Guinivere Turner (from March 31, 2004).
Now, using your mouse, select the portion of the text you want to use and select ‘Cut’ from your ‘File’ menu. (There is a shortcut for this, but we only recommend that seasoned writers attempt to use that.)
Using the example press release, select the following text:

The most successful pin-up model of the 1950s, Page’s legendary bondage photographs made her the target of a Senate investigation into pornography, and turned her into one of the first American sex icons.

You may also want to scroll down in the press release and copy this portion:

The cast also includes Lili Taylor (“Casa de los babys”), David Strathairn (“Twisted”), Jonathan M. Woodward (“Pipe Dream”), Cara Seymour (“Gangs of New York”), Tara Subkoff (“The Cell”) and Kevin Carroll (“The Secret Lives of Dentists”).

Open a text-editing document and select ‘Paste’ from the ‘File’ menu. Now comes the hard part: editing. You’ll want to add the name “Bettie Page” in that first sentence. You’ll also want to shorten the second paragraph a bit. Also, you might want to write your own topical hook in the beginning, since this press release is a bit old.
Congratulations, you have an article or caption. To see the fruits of your labor, check out GORGEOUS GRETCHEN A CONEY EYEFUL in today’s New York Post:

Actress Gretchen Mol dazzles yesterday as she struts her stuff while on location shooting “The Ballad of Bettie Page” in Coney Island.
In the film, the 31-year-old stunner plays the 1950s pinup girl whose legendary bondage photos made her the target of a Senate investigation into pornography.
Dubbed the “Girl with the Perfect Figure,” Page was one of America’s first sex sirens.
She graced the pages of hundreds of magazines, including Playboy.
The flick also stars Lili Taylor and David Strathairn.

Earlier: How to Write An Obituary Without Breaking a Sweat


How to revive flagging interest? Redesign!

By way of Josh Marshall’s Talking Points Memo, today’s Washington Post features a story about the dishearteningly negative reception the “new and improved” national flag has been given by Iraqi citizens, who question why it was changed in the first place, and even if that were necessary, why the new design lost the traditional Arab-affiliated colors of red, green, and black.
Oh, and this last point apparently didn’t help things much, either: Iraq’s new flag is in many ways a dead ringer for Israel’s flag.
According to the U.S.-appointed Governing Council, the new flag is the work of an Iraqi artist named Rifaat Chaderchi, and was selected from a pool of a whopping 30 entries.
Most aesthetes agree: worst product redesign since the old Brawny Man was reinvented as the new, de-gayed Brawny Man (who, incidentally, now looks suspiciously like an Israelite).


Dying Young

tobyYoung.jpgAlright, this posting is a few days late (in the blog world an eternity), but Toby Young’s Slate diary was too infuriating to go ignored. For those of you unaware, Slate’s diary is kind of like MTV’s Diary for old people who are nowhere near as famous, and Toby Young is a bald media gadfly who has made a name for himself by being obnoxious. Based on Young’s entries, however, he’s taking his trademarks – contrived spite and pseudo-impudence – up a notch.
There’s Monday’s diary in which Young very nearly asks Matt Damon and Ben Affleck to sue him. That’s because Young’s novel-in-progress, Starmageddon, actually uses the duo as characters! And from the sound of Young’s new novel, it’s pretty clear he’s designed the plot to hit as many media flashpoints as possible – the Holocaust, celebrity culture, post-Apocalyptic America, and right-wing demagoguery. Young is practically daring you to ignore this book.
And then Tuesday’s diary, in which Young offers this remarkable insight into L.A. (he’s been there a little over a week):

In the same way that other cities have been ravaged by certain drugs, L.A. is in the grip of a fame epidemic. Like cocaine, it used to be the drug of choice for a privileged few, but now it’s gone mainstream, often in a very adulterated form. The kind of notoriety that comes from appearing on a reality show, for instance, is the equivalent of crack.

Among other revelations Young dishes up: celebrities get big trailers; these celebrities also receive other big perks; Young used to live with Euan Rellie, aka Mr. Lucy Sykes (he also used to live with Sophie Dahl – presumably he didn’t find these apartments on Craig’s List).
Onto Wednesday’s diary entry and more juicy L.A. dirt! Apparently, people in Los Angeles like to drive S.U.V.’s. And somehow Young gets even more repellant – he and his wife honeymooned in Los Angeles.
Thursday’s entry – comparing L.A. restaurants with London restaurants – actually isn’t so bad, so let’s just ignore this one entirely.
I’m not sure what happens in Friday’s installment. I got through the first paragraph before the bile – the product of disgust and, yes, low-level envy – started to choke me.
Years ago, I met Mr. Young several times at MaryLou’s – insofar as you met anyone at MaryLou’s – and he seemed pleasant, if a bit self-promoting. Who would have thought the guy would get sober (relatively) and then turn into an asshole?


The old standby

kerry_stand.jpgIn response to a foolishly hypocritical (and, of course, highly manipulative, and, therefore, effective) media campaign of Republican party attacks on presumptive Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry’s record as a Vietnam War veteran, including Bush communications mastermind-cum-housewife-cum-communications mastermind Karen Hughes’ nonsensical “did he or didn’t he” questioning of Kerry’s disposal of military “ribbons” or “medals” after returning home in 1971, the war veteran came out with his swift boat’s fifty-caliber machine guns metaphorically blazing.
His weapon of choice? The declaration that “I’m not going to stand for it,” which, unfortunately, Senator Kerry seems to stand for all too often when it comes to defending his Vietnam war record.
April, 2004:

“This is a controversy that the Republicans are pushing,” Mr. Kerry said on “Good Morning America” on ABC. “The Republicans have spent $60 million in the last few weeks trying to attack me, and this comes from a president and a Republican Party that can’t even answer whether or not he showed up for duty in the National Guard. I’m not going to stand for it.

February, 2004:

“If they’re going to try to question my commitment to the defense of our country, then I’m going to fight back,” Kerry said at a February campaign event. “Because they did that to Max Cleland … and I’m not going to stand for it.

February, 2004:

“Defense of nation is exactly that. Yes, that’s exactly what they did. They put Osama bin Laden’s photograph up with Max Cleland Cleland and suggested he was weak–Max Cleland, weak–on the defense of our nation. Now here’s a man who left three of his limbs on the battlefield in Vietnam. To have someone who, you know, has never served suggest that someone who has is weak on defense is simply unacceptable, and I’m not going to stand for it.

And in the interest of the “equal time rule,” Bush, too, has been known to wield this same principled “stand” on occasion, including in his remarks on the creation of the Department of Homeland Security at the National Republican Senatorial Committee Annual Dinner.
September, 2002:

“Unfortunately, some senators — not all senators, but some senators — believe it is best to try to micromanage the process, believe the best way to secure the homeland is to have a thick book of regulations which will hamstring this administration and future administrations from dealing with an enemy that could care less about thick books of regulations. Unfortunately, some in the Senate — not all in the Senate — want to take away the power that all Presidents have had since Jimmy Carter. And I’m not going to stand for it.

Come on, guys, mix it up a bit.
“I will not tolerate that.” Or, “I gaze upon these mistruths, and I see that which battles honesty, and I do declare myself to be decidedly antagonistic towards this selfsame deception, such that I verily seek to destroy, nay, annihilate said behavior.” Or maybe just “I am so against this shit.”


The Right Address, Parents, Education, et al.

From the Times’ Sunday Styles:

And this week will bring the publication of “The Right Address,” by Carrie Karasyov and Jill Kargman. Their novel skewers a certain kind of woman found on the Upper East Side whose only ambition is to preside over benefit dinners (even if she goes to so many she cannot remember from night to night if she is at the Irritable Bowel Syndrome Ball or the Food Allergy Ball), and to have her tiny, shiny-face photograph appear in the party pages of any magazine.

# of photos of Carrie Karasyov, nee Doyle, featured in New York Social Diary: 14
# of photos of Jill Kargman, nee Kopelman, featured in New York Social Diary: 18
# of photos of Jill Kargman, nee Kopelman, featured in Wire Image: 4
While we could mutter at some length about how satire is traditionally used to skewer those more powerful than you, we will refrain from commenting on making fun of those who dare to aspire toward one’s own lofty perch.
[Oddly, Jill Kargman’s apartment was also featured in Sunday’s Real Estate section.]


Tru(deau) Life: I Want a Famous Face

Although some voices have deemed this week’s Doonesbury too violent for the comics page, others have praised its realistic (though cartoonish) depiction of wartime Iraq. But where discord is sown, low culture offers peace. What follows is a revised Doonesbury for the week of April 19-23, 2004, designed to appeal to more popular tastes and delicate, war-resistant sensibilities.
It’s sure to please everyone, and unlike the war itself, offend no one.
MONDAY’s revised strip (click thumbnails to enlarge):
TUESDAY’s revised strip:
WEDNESDAY’s revised strip:
THURSDAY’s revised strip:
FRIDAY’s revised strip:


Separated at Pitching Meeting

James Brown: Funny, times two.
Ah, Spring, when a young humor writer’s thoughts turn towards… James Brown? Don’t ask us why, but for whatever reason, The Godfather of Soul, the Hardest Working Man in Showbiz inspires some of April’s best humor writing.
Take for example, this item from this week’s Onion, Why Can’t This Family Ever Have A Funky Good Time by one “Tomi Rae Brown”:

Maceo! I said Maceo! Uh, Maceo! Don’t just keep saying “what,” boy. Go get that pecan pie out the kitchen. Take it into the living room. We gonna have a funky good time, and I don’t want you starting off before everyone. Bring the pie here. Right here. Everybody grab a piece—don’t be greedy now. We family, after all. There’s enough of this pie to go around. That’s right, y’all. Enough pie for all! Pecan pie! Mother-made pie! Good pie! Damn good!

Funny shit, right?
We were laughing so hard, we almost forgot about Papa’s Got a Brand New Play that ran in Spy Magazine back in April 1995. That was funny, too:

Steve: Oh Baby, Don’t You Weep. I Can’t Help It (I Just Do-Do-Do). (1964, 1965)
Caldonia: There Must Be a Reason — What Kind of Man … Keep On Doin’ What You’re Doin’? (1959, 1968, 1971)
Steve: Got No Excuse. I’m a Greedy Man. And I Do Just What I Want. [looks off wistfully into the distance] Sometimes That’s All There Is. (1965, 1971, 1960, 1980)
Caldonia: I’ll Never Let You Break My Heart Again. [she gets up, goes inside the house, and comes back out, carrying a suitcase.] I Won’t Be Back. (1972, 1964)
Steve: Baby Baby Baby. Hold It. [jumps to his feet and takes her arm.] You Don’t Have to Go. Stay with Me. I’ve Got to Change. I’ll Work It Out. Stop and Think It Over. (1964, 1961, 1962, 1981, 1963, 1968, 1965)
Caldonia: Tell Me What You’re Gonna Do. (1964)
Steve: I Need Your Love So Bad. [caresses her cheek.] I’ll Be Sweeter Tomorrow. (1975, 1969)

Yes, the Godfather giveth. And giveth. But only in April, apparently.