Hey, members of the rightwing cabal, chill out, my bible-totin’ brethren. The whole hullabaloo over the vice president’s visage being obscured by a giant black X on CNN’s broadcast of his speech to the AEI yesterday? We got all worked up about nothin’, man. It was merely a technical error, see?
Which is far, far better than an error in judgment.
President Bush rides with members of the Chinese Olympic cycling team on the Laoshan Olympic Mountain Bike Course in Beijing. (Charles Dharapak, Associated Press)
The Washington Post‘s headline writers illustrate the success of his trip as follows, and somehow manage to be both more and less pointed in their commentary: “Bush’s Asia Trip Meets Low Expectations” (Washington Post, November 21, 2005).
But you know what? We’re at least proud to say he is so totally beating those Chinamen! You show them who invented bicycling, George! And we’ll pretend it wasn’t the French or the Germans. And that no one can ever, ever, ever pass you on the bikepaths. Or tell you that you’re wrong. About anything at all.
And then there’s this, which, as always, is unrelated…from “House Approves Spending Reductions”, Washington Post, November 18, 2005:
The House narrowly approved a broad five-year budget plan early this morning that squeezes programs for the poor, for college students and for farmers, handing Republican leaders a hard-fought victory after weeks of resistance in GOP ranks.
No word yet on whether or not the Pointless-but-Pricey Trips Abroad Appropriations Bill (H.J.Res.27, H.R. 48) will be vetoed once it hits the president’s desk.
|People make the world go ’round.
Someone said that once, and while it’s not technically true—angular momentum as explained in the equation L=m*w*r2 makes the world go ’round—people are much more fascinating, especially when they pose for photographs.
Welcome to the annual low culture 50, a definitive look at people whose photos we could find. This year’s 50 run the gamut from cartoon characters to Presidents— and, no, that’s not a political statement, silly! This is a ‘shallow’ post: None of that gloomy guff here. This is meant to make you smile. And if you’re in The low culture 50, you really have a reason to smile!
|Paul McCartney||Wanda Sykes||Ann Curry|
|Robert Johnson (BET)||Robert Johnson (Blues)||Ed Helms|
|Richard Perle||Andre Agassi||Jerry Rice|
|bell hooks||Theo Epstein||Steven Soderbergh|
|Fredric Jameson||Carrie Underwood||Elvis Mitchell|
|Stuart Price (aka Jacques Lu Cont)||Martha Stewart||Curt Freese, Ph.D|
|Keira Knightley||Steve Case||Steve Jobs|
|Les Moonves||Harvey Mackay||Robert W. Fogel|
|Howard Dean||Aisha Tyler||Christine Taylor|
|Dave Foley||Leon Trotsky||Frank Perdue|
|Goran Visjnic||Grover Cleveland||Jean Baudrillard|
|Jeff Greenfield||Maggie Cheung||Jesse Oxfeld|
|Jonathan Lipnicki||Koko||Little Ronnie Howard|
|Mr. Hat||Nat Hentoff||Philip Michael Thomas|
|Quentin Tarantino||Rakim||Ringo Starr|
|Sho Kosugi||The Feral Kid from Mad Max 2: The Road
|Wilbur Wright||Woody Harrelson|
From “Texas Voters Approve Ban on Gay Marriage”, the Associated Press, November 9, 2005:
“Texans know that marriage is between a man and a woman, and children deserve both a mom and a dad. They don’t need a Ph.D. or a degree in anything else to teach them that,” said Kelly Shackelford, a leader Texans For Marriage, which favored the ban.
At Home in Oliver’s Macedonia and Woody’s London, the New York Times, November 6, 2005
Selected highlights from the Times’ Hollywood scribe Sharon Waxman’s interview/Q&A with actor Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, star of Woody Allen’s upcoming tennis thriller Match Point…
First up? The 28-year-old actor touches upon this whole “crisis in the Middle East” thing and its relationship to his filming Alexander with director Oliver Stone:
RHYS-MEYERS: You had 20 young male actors, as his main friends, and then 350 soldiers who’d recently pulled out of Basra and Tikrit – they were all actual soldiers. These guys were constantly living their life to the full, because when they were finished, they were being sent back to the Middle East.
WAXMAN: Let’s talk about “Match Point.”
OK, so the subject of Iraq doesn’t interest Waxman so much. Or, at least, an Irish actor’s take on Iraq. What about an Irish actor’s take on being, hmmm, an Irish actor?
WAXMAN: Are you very Irish?
RHYS-MEYERS: What’s very Irish?
WAXMAN: Are you attached to being Irish?
RHYS-MEYERS: Am I in touch with my roots? Yes, I am very Irish.
And with that matter settled, young Jonathan returned to his pensive brooding, coyly maneuvering his gaze about the room, pausing ever-so-briefly to flit his eyelashes…and looking anywhere, anywhere but at this cursed interviewer who had deigned to help him promote his most recent film.
U.S. President Bush speaks during a news conference with President Martin Torrijos at Casa Amarilla in Panama City, Panama. Monday, Nov. 7, 2005. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)
Residents of the Chorrilo neighborhood set tires alight during a protest against the visit of the US President George Bush in Panama City, Panama, Monday, Nov. 7, 2005. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
And half a world away…
A man attempts to extinguish a burning truck in Ramadi, Iraq, Monday, Nov. 7, 2005. According to eyewitnesses the driver of the truck died after being attacked by a US convoy that suspected him as a suicide truck bomb. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
RELATED: Withdrawal Plans or Withdrawal Pains? Bush, Iraq, and his elusive timetable: Iraq Options, TPM Cafe, November 7, 2005
Mayor Bloomberg’s ear-to-ear smile, as seen above? You can have that, at least, for free.
RELATED: Wrapping Up, Mayor and Ferrer Ask Voters to Ignore Polls, the New York Times, November 7, 2005
As Slate has been less-than-stellar about maintaining “The Breakfast Table,” a once-beloved feature that, regrettably, has since been allowed to languish, we asked the site’s editor Jacob Weisberg for permission to license it for our own usage, and he, of course, agreed, recognizing that low culture has always outshone his own tepidly downtrodden site in all the ways that matter, but most notably in the manner in which we’ve historically been very strong at using the format of two disparate-yet-complementary experts weighing in on the issues of the day. Also, he acknowledged how great we were with excessively long and unnecessarily verbose introductory sentences. He’s a good editor.
And with that, we introduce our two “Breakfast Table” panelists for this leisurely Friday afternoon; first, we have one Alex Pareene, a student of dramaturgical matters and working-class struggle, and Jean-Paul Tremblay, a self-employed and self-professed expert in theatrical composition and post-Jamesonian Marxism.
From: Jean-Paul Tremblay
To: Alex Pareene
Subject: Scooting out the door?
Friday, October 28, 2005, at 2:06 AM EST
I probably shouldn’t be starting our exchange yet, because it’s not yet dawn and I just got back from the loudest, most raucous fucking dress rehearsal ever, but I just got a hunch on the cab ride home from the theater that Libby’s going to go down today. I’ve traced this idea to a realization I had while watching my play’s lead actor limp around onstage in crutches, whereupon I saw that if the character had been unable to afford healthcare, we’d have had to reformat the setpieces such that the entire play was comprised of a conversation on a couch. Which’d be far more David Rabe than Luigi Pirandello, and you know how much I go for an early twentieth-century motif with my body of work. Anyways, the dude’s in crutches. And so is Libby, and Libby has money, and the crutches are his means of power…the money is the crutch. And the disability is his means of power. And if he’s indicted today, and goes down, it’ll totally be this unjust transfer of power. Why do I ingest so much ketamine when working with these dress rehearsals? I have to stop. It fucks with my mind and logistical reasoning.
From: Alex Pareene
To: Jean-Paul Tremblay
Subject: Puttin’ On the Fitz
Friday, October 28, 2005, at 10:25 AM EST
Pirandello, my friend, was an inspired reference — seeing Scooter Libby “go down,” as you put it, brought to mind nothing so much as Pirandello’s Enrico IV. Scooter, of course, is Berthold the valet. I see Cheney as the doctor and Judy Miller as Donna Matilda. The “mad” king is America itself, and today we learned that she is tired of wearing her mask.
“I just got a hunch,” you say. I keep coming back to those words. Hunches and crutches, those tired dramatic devices. The hunch, Richard III’s power, repugnant but impossibly attractive. The Neo-liberal hegemony fuctions in almost exactly the same fashion. And the crutch — not money, I think, but the classical liberal ideal of the social contract. It’s weakness, it’s bathos, the greatest enemy of neo-liberal society. I’ve been revising my musical revue of historical materialism (“Sing, Sang, Materialistische GeschichtsauffasSung!”), so my thoughts are a bit scattered at the moment, but I think the entire leak investigation can be read as a critique of the Annales school’s perversion of Marxist historiography. I’ll tell you what I mean by that as soon as I finish skimming the Wikipedia entry about them.
From: Jean-Paul Tremblay
To: Alex Pareene
Friday, October 28, 2005, at 4:04 PM EST
It’s really late in the afternoon, and I just woke up. Sorry about that. This is where the deconstructionist punster in me says, “Guess I missed ‘breakfast,’ huh?” And where you, the audience, groan.
Such audience participation is really what this whole Plame investigation was all about, I feel…with contributions from a range of professions as diverse as journalists and chiefs of staff. My theatrical production, premiering tonight, is derived from this participatory spirit, wherein I hope workers laboring within the coils of both Media and Government can unite to applaud the work of my crippled lead actor. Crippled by a staggering deficit, an astoundingly piss-poor educational system, and exposure to too much reality television.
In that vein, it’s good to know that the populace will be focusing on possible jail time for this Libby fellow. Which, perversely, could be a boon for all of academia…just think of what Antonio Gramsci produced while in prison. I’ve often thought about adapting his “Prison Notebooks” for the stage, but have consistently come up short in this regard. Whom would I cast as “Hegemony,” as you so briefly touch upon above? And in terms of undertaking such an adaptation, I never understood “hermeneutics” very much, to be honest.
I feel like such a sham. When people view my play tonight, they’re going to know how phony I am, and how much I’ve borrowed from the Italian master. “Six Characters in Search of an Author”? I feel like my rendition is more akin to “A Nobody in Search of Some Credibility.”
I hope you can make it. Coming by my show, I mean. I know you’ll “make it” in all the other ways that matter, kid. You’ve got talent. Me? I feel like I’m about to pull a Benjamin and shoot myself.