Commissioned by and produced for vanityfair.com, featuring noted monologist Mike Daisey, for starters. (No Graydon Carter whatsoever.)
After a long day of nervous waiting — complete with capricious salivating and nail-biting — by political pundits, the media and bloggers far and wide, “Plamegate” Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald, we have just learned, has returned from the federal courthouse with four, count ’em, four indictments in tow. And, suffice it to say, this goes straight to the very top of the U.S. government…
|White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley
A real wild card, the inclusion of Hadley in the mix…While he worked alongside Condoleezza Rice during the build-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, as well as during the White House’s planning stages in 2001 and 2002, few longtime observers of the Fitzgerald investigation had ever really pegged Hadley as having much to do with the leaking of Valerie Plame’s name to media sources. Though, according to documents, Hadley apparently played a heretofore unknown role in the subsequent cover-up, and has now been indicted for perjury.
|Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby
Libby, of course, had long been speculated to be one of the primary targets of the Fitzgerald investigation, so his indictment for perjury and obstruction of justice pertaining to the cover-up of the Wilson matter will come as no surprise to those who knew all along the degree to which he sought to protect his boss, Vice President Dick Cheney, from being tainted by the grand jury’s inquest. And, it seems, in sacrificing himself, he succeeded in saving his boss’ hide, as Cheney seems to have safely skirted through the investigation unharmed.
|Deputy chief of staff and top presidential political adviser Karl Rove
“Bush’s Brain”, as he’s been called time and again, was, alongside Libby, long determined to be one of the major architects of the White House smear campaign against Ambassador Joseph Wilson. So his indictment for perjury and obstruction of justice also comes as no surprise. Whether or not he will resign later today, and the damage such an action will do to Bush’s presidency, remains to be seen.
|White House executive chef Cristeta Comerford
Finally, the big gun…an indictment for criminal conspiracy in the effort to reveal the identity of an undercover CIA operative. Though Comerford was only recently hired by First Lady Laura Bush this past August — a mere two months ago — anonymous sources within the President’s staff have reported that the first female to ever serve as the White House’s executive chef had been a longtime problem for the administration. Starting with her efforts to discredit Joseph Wilson for making disparaging comments about the administration’s making a deceptively inaccurate link between Iraqi heads of state and the acquisition of Nigerian uranium, sources say that Comerford’s name has been revealed on transcripts from journalists Matthew Cooper and Walter Pincus as the primary source of the now infamous leak of Wilson’s wife’s identity. These sources also add that scribbled within Pincus’ notebook were numerous references to “yellow cake” and “flame”, which had erroneously been thought to reference Comerford’s pastry recipes and sautee methodology.
When asked for comment by reporters covering the case moments ago, Comerford was weeping and defiant as she made her way through the White House’s front gate, stammering, “I don’t know what’s going on…I don’t know what I did wrong! I did nothing wrong!”
Sources had no comment on her strongly-worded denials.
low Expectations: Jean-Paul Tremblay, left; Matt Haber (A/K/A, Guy Cimbalo), right. (The editors requested a photo of the creators of low culture to accompany this article and received this one.)
Walking down the streets of New York’s Greenwich Village, Jean-Paul Tremblay goes almost entirely unnoticed. Passersby young and old—and youngish and oldish, as well—walk by him, all but unaware that within their midst is a celebrity, albeit a celebrity of a wired, self-selecting, long tail-chasing, niche-y, early 21st century sort. Nobody knows that Tremblay, who is 29 but looks more like an undernourished 15 year-old street urchin in need of a haircut, a cup of soup, and a hug, is a bona fide celebrity of blogging: A blogebrity.
Then again, they may be walking by because he’s merely a B-List blogebrity.
As he walks the streets, occasionally fielding cell phone calls that make him groan theatrically, he stops for a moment to ponder the new issue of TIME Magazine on the newsstand. The cover shows Secretary of Defense Donald Rumseld wearing a Yankees cap, eating a banana, and listening to iPod. “In the old days, I’d probably run right home and Photoshop that shit and make a post out of it,” Tremblay says wearily.
“But now… I can’t even figure out the joke. I couldn’t even tell you where I’d begin.”
No matter how many bananas public officials consume in photos, Tremblay cannot bring himself to post about it. Call him a “no-blognik”: Lately, he feels he can’t bring himself to blog, which has resulted in a pitiable lack of posts on his site as well as a declining profile among fellow writers of free, ephemeral web content.
“Blogger fatigue is very real, and it very really affects real bloggers,” according to Dr. Owen Spielvogel, chair of the American Psychiatric Association’s gossip- and media-focused Loud Family Institute. “Anecdotal research indicates it affects 1 in 10 real bloggers in a real way. Really.”
I mention “blogger fatigue” to Tremblay as he glances at the cover of Time Out New York, which features Wayne Coyne of the band Flaming Lips also, inexplicably, eating a banana, wearing a Yankees cap, and listening to an iPod.
An autumnal breeze rustles the trees above us. I can almost see Tremblay’s eyes misting up.
In this low culture EXCLUSIVE, we asked this young student at Delisle Elementary School in Pass Christian, Miss., to share with us the note that was passed to President Bush this past Tuesday. In greater detail below:
RELATED: ‘You are the best governor ever’, Guardian NewsBlog, October 11, 2005
Ask Ben Kunkel
Today’s Salon features an insightful, probing piece by Rebecca Traister on the humdrum, sorry state of being a Modern American Woman, and the trouble with dating the contemporary early-adult American male – specifically, how today’s women are dissatisfied with this “new breed of man: a man of few interests and no passions; a man whose libido is reduced and whose sense of responsibility nonexistent. These men are commitment-phobic not just about love, but about life. They drink and take drugs, but even their hedonism lacks focus or joy. They exhibit no energy for anyone, any activity, profession or ideology.”
Traister sagely acknowledges that writers such as Candace Bushnell et al have explored this subject to death, and, as such, she seeks a new hook: What might Ben Kunkel, the author of Random House’s Indecision – this month’s literary hotcake amongst the city’s subway- and nightstand-reading set – have to contribute to this line of discussion? Of the author and his text’s protagonist, she asks, “After I finished Kunkel’s novel, I was curious about the man who had so precisely drawn a figure whose initial indifference is so painfully familiar. With Kunkel, I thought I might be able to have a safe, objective conversation about the kind of guy Dwight is as his story begins. How did we get a population of Dwights? Will they ever get better? Why do my friends and I continue to date them?”
But why limit Kunkel to a simple, one-track discussion on dating and relationships? We asked him, this literate, Harvard-trained man-about-town, to help our sullen readers with some of their sundry dilemmas. And boy, did he ever!
Welcome, then, to the first installment of our new, groundbreakingly opinionated, and most important, gentlemanly advice column.
ASK BEN KUNKEL
I recently left my wife of five years after – for lack of a better way of phrasing it – losing my passion for her. Not falling out of love, mind you…just losing that sense of passion that keeps people together. Lately, however, I have been regretting my decision, and want her back. The problem is, she has taken up reading all sorts of self-help books that seem to discourage exes from reuniting. What should I do?
It can be very difficult dealing with the repercussions of our actions, particularly when it comes to love and the causalities thereof. Do we love for the sake of loving, or do we love merely to stay afloat in this pool of the everyday, the human interactions that define our existence? Hannah Arendt hit it right on the head when she put forth that being female was akin to being imprisoned by one’s mind and morality, and that, no matter what we may do to attempt to break free, we – and, it may be said, all of humanity – will forever be subjected to a greater external framework, an ethical morass the likes of which no mere mortal can transcend. Which is why she encouraged her lover, Walter Benjamin, to take his own life. Ever the slattern, she then wound up fucking Heidegger over, too.
I recently moved into an elite co-op in Chelsea, and was thrilled to become a part of what felt like a second home, this tightly-knit community of likeminded, intellectually vibrant, book-reading wage-earners. But since settling in last month, I have learned my upstairs neighbor insists on playing his music far too loudly, and usually at moments when I am trying to sleep. I have thought of leaving notes on his door, but am uncertain of what this might do to upset the otherwise tranquil balance of our collective abode. Any ideas?
Noise, and music in particular, can be a source of great asymmetric tension. Historically, one may note, Theodor Adorno espoused nothing but the severest disdain for jazz music, or rather, what he termed “jazz music”, but which was, in fact, a series of sounds akin to “big band” music, henceforth confusing generations of Marxists and music critics alike. It was his literal reading of this cacophony, the simpleminded focus on aberrant rhythms and layered ideas, that confounded his aesthetic judgment, and led to a great deal of turmoil in his dealings with his onetime partner in the Frankfurt School, Max Horkheimer. Horkheimer really got down with the horns, the clarinet, the vibrato…all of which conveyed an intricate melding of joy and sadness and expedient physicality. This tapestry of the old and new, incidentally, can be found in the recent works of Radiohead.
Benjamin Kunkel grew up in Colorado. He has written for Dissent, The Nation, and the The New York Review of Books, and is a founding editor of n+1 magazine.
Tragedies Come in Threes
This post is dedicated to Jean-Paul Tremblay, who was found dead in his apartment beneath a stack of old Nation magazines, surrounded by anti-Bush paraphernalia. Now you’re Photoshopping with Jesus, sweet prince.
Bloggers, or ‘Web loggers,’ may not have invented April Fool’s Day (that would be Pope Gregory with his conversion to the eponymous Gregorian Calendar in 1582), but as with so many other things, they have taken credit for improving on it.
As the clock struck midnight on April first, several prominent bloggers created puckish, at times almost humorous, stabs at April Fool’s content. As you might expect, many were parodies of other websites and the conventions of the medium. “Bloggers are a world onto themselves,” said Jeff Jarvis, who runs the website Buzzmachine.com and who actually called this reporter himself assuming she’d be doing this story. “So, of course, they’d parody their world.”
Outrage! Jets Sold To Pakistan!
The already heated debate about the proposal for a new West Side stadium for the New York Jets has reached a new level of outrage and absurdity this week with the stunning news that the Jets are to be sold to Pakistan!
Now, I’m sure that the NFL would like to expand into Central Asia, but it seems like a losing proposition to try to impose, top-down, an American-style football regime in an area of the world that has had no experience with it. On the plus side, Gang Green’s color scheme matches the Pakistani flag rather nicely, so perhaps there’s hope after all.
[Thanks to Lamont Cranston for the tip!]
Today’s ‘Real Life Workplace’ interview is with Agent Jack Bristow, a thirty-five year veteran of the CIA. What sorts of challenges come from working in a high pressure environment where national security is a daily concern?
What’s the CIA like on the inside? Read on and find out.
low culture: Thanks for taking the time to talk to me, Agent Bristow.
Jack Bristow: It’s my pleasure, I’m sure. I am, however, a very busy man, so let’s get down to it.
low culture: Sure, sure. So, in case you don’t know, low culture is a careers website. We offer information for job hunters, employers, and the like. I’m interested in talking to you about your work.
Jack Bristow: Fine. But know that some things are classified.
low culture: Right. So, you work for the CIA, right?
Jack Bristow: Classified.
low culture: But you previously worked for an organization called SD-6, right?
Jack Bristow: Again, classified. I cannot answer these questions and if you persist in asking them, I’ll have to terminate this interview.
low culture: Got it. Okay, so, you, um, you work with your daughter, Sydney, right?
Jack Bristow: Yes, that’s true.
low culture: Your daughter is so hot.
Jack Bristow: Pardon me?
low culture: Nothing. So, is it difficult working so closely with a family member?
Jack Bristow: There are challenges inherent in any workplace. Ours is no different. People occasionally don’t get along, alliances and relationships shift or breakdown. These things happen.
low culture: Right, but, you had problems with your daughter for a long time, is that correct? Didn’t you kill her mom?
Jack Bristow: What? What sort of interview is this? I’m going to have to hang up now unless you refrain from such inappropriate personal questions.
low culture: Sorry, sorry. So, is it hard working with your daughter when she has to get dressed up in so many different outfits all the time? Does that weird you out?
Jack Bristow: Weird me out?
low culture: You know, do you ever see your daughter done up like a blond Swedish hooker or a Russian astrophysicist and you, like, get wood?
Jack Bristow: Now you listen to me…
low culture: Wait, wait. You misunderstand. I apologize: English is my second language. I’m French Canadian.
Jack Bristow: Really? I was born in Ontario.
low culture: No way! Did that make it hard to get high level CIA clearance?
Jack Bristow: That’s classified.
low culture: Oh, right, right. So, your daughter was dating a colleague. Is that strange?
Jack Bristow: Why so many questions about my daughter?
low culture: Have I been asking so many questions about your daughter?
Jack Bristow: Yes, in fact you have.
low culture: Oh, she’s just so super hot. What’s her email address?
Jack Bristow: Now you listen to me, this is the least professional interview I’ve ever been subjected to!
low culture: Alright, alright. Is it like yours? I assume it’s something like [email protected] Would that work?
Jack Bristow: This interview is over. I don’t even know how you got this number.
low culture: Can you just tell me one last thing? One last thing for all the job hunters, employers, and the like? Please?
Jack Bristow: Fine. One question.
low culture: What does she smell like?
Jack Bristow: Whom?
low culture: Your daughter, Sydney. I kind of imagine she smells like soap, but also a little bit of sweaty b.o.
Jack Bristow: What?
low culture: Clean, sporty girl b.o. like a field hockey player. Not gross b.o. like some sweaty freak.
Jack Bristow: Rest assured, you will be disappeared within 24 hours.
low culture: Hello? Sounds like you’re still on the line. Helllllo? Agent Bristow? Jack…? Sydney?
Related: If you have any information on Jack Bristow’s daughter (particularly photos), please email low culture. (Within 24 hours at the latest.)
Deaf, Dumb and Bald
Totally deaf human-person Marlee Matlin deserves to be given the hand gestures for enthusiastic applause and patronizing congratulation upon the news of her appointment to head a new, conservative imprint for Simon & Schuster. Despite Matlin’s complete inability to hear, and her limited ability to speak like a normal person, she has not only won a Special Academy Award but also managed to domesticate notorious pussy-hound James Carville. The two have become ubiquitous for their “opposites attract” romance: Carville is the classic Clinton-era liberal while Matlin is completely, defiantly deaf. They both starred in the cult classic K Street and have become poster children for people who have starred in K Street.
Because of Matlin’s handicapability, her as yet unnamed imprint will undoubtedly offer its conservative titles in Braille editions. And that presumptive breakthrough, shattering the conservative publishing industry’s notorious deaf-glass-ceiling, deserves enthusiastic, visually demonstrative applause.