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.
John (school V.P., honor roll)… and Joseph (Gimme A Break, Blossom
Frank (honor roll, seventh in his class)… and Andrew (Jack Frost, Oliver Beene)
Carmine (honor roll)… and Matthew (Mrs. Doubtfire, The Hot Chick)
Whoa! I don’t know whose wallpaper I should download, the Gottis’ or the Lawrences’.


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

parishilton_nickcarter.jpgFrom “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

What’s that in Denzel Washington’s hand? Why, it’s a book.
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
Edwidge Danticat plays Rosie’s sister (seen in a photo)
Roy Blount, Jr. plays a pundit (who, along with actress/playwright Anna Deavere Smith, hip-hop pioneer Fab Five Freddy, monologist Reno, Def poet Beau Sia, and director Sidney Lumet seem to have fallen to the cutting-room floor)
E. Jean Carroll plays a reporter
Al Franken also plays a reporter
August Wilson appears (sort of) in a lingering shot of a Playbill for his show Jitney on Rosie’s wall.

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.
None dare call it conspiracy! We are through the looking glass, people. Who will stop the reverse vampires?