Wednesday, June 30, 2010
If you haven't yet figured out that Christopher Hitchens is a walking disaster whose continued existence alone defies the laws of both God and science, you're obviously down at least two or three senses. You could rightly describe him as Falstaffian, if only Falstaff had been an insufferably miserable prick.
So with that in mind, it comes as no surprise that Hitchens has just been diagnosed with esophageal cancer -- which he'll now have to undergo chemotherapy to combat.
It also comes as no surprise that despite the insatiable gluttony for vices of every kind that likely landed him where he is right now, this is a goddamned tragedy. Why? Because pompous ass or not, Hitchens is one of the sharpest minds on the planet -- an unapologetic intellectual whose fearless contrarianism is as refreshing as it is infuriating.
Bottom line: It'd be a shame to lose him.
The world needs more people like Christopher Hitchens, not fewer.
Good luck, Hitch.
"I talked to the guys here at CNN and I told them I would like to end Larry King Live, the nightly show, this fall and CNN has graciously accepted, giving me more time for my wife and I to get to the kids' little league games."
-- Larry King, announcing that after 25 interminable years, he'll be mothballing his show (in the literal sense as opposed to the figurative) in the coming months
What say we pop this statement into the PR-speak and subtext-removing Universal Translator 3000 and see if we can figure out what Larry is really saying.
Just a few of the responses:
"I talked to Jon Klein and told him that I'm finally willing to stop being the 600-pound anvil chained around the neck of CNN's prime time lineup and he breathed a sigh of relief and, the minute I walked out of the office, picked up the phone, called a guy named Tony and told him that the 'accident' that was scheduled to happen next week to me was no longer necessary."
"To the 834 people nationwide still watching -- and those whose TVs were simply left on after they made the decision to go into the light -- it's been fun drinking the tears of CNN's upper management for the past six or so years, but now that I've banked enough to keep my household in the prescription drugs it's become accustomed to..."
"I looked around and thought, 'Funny... there's nobody else on-air in this building who looks like a cross between Andy Rooney and Reuben Tishkoff, Elliott Gould's character from the Ocean's movies.'"
"I have kids in little league. Can you freakin' believe that? What do you think about that, God and nature? Ya like gettin' nailed by the King, baby?"
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
"Lara Logan, come on down! You're the next guest on Hysterical Backstabbing Jealous Hackfest 2010!"
-- Matt Taibbi, in a scathing, must-read piece eviscerating Lara Logan for her comments on Sunday's Reliable Sources
In response to the Lara Logan Quote of the Day from yesterday: This came from a close friend of mine who's been in the cable news business for years and remains there today, therefore, I'll keep her identity anonymous. Suffice it to say, though, that I trust her implicitly -- and everything she says here, sent via e-mail, is a matter of public record.
I'm not one to judge, since I think journalism is an inherently amoral business, but it's an amusing factoid given the sanctimonious tone Logan takes when discussing her "personal life."
"Let’s not forget that Lara Logan was IMPREGNATED by a man she did a story on. I think it’s a nice little coda to your story. She reported on a married contractor, filming him both in Iraq and at his home in (I believe) Texas with his wife and young baby. The reason she was on maternity leave was because she gave HIM an all-access pass and apparently there were no ground rules, but a lot was laid down. This was while she was dating CNN’s war-star Michael Ware. Bottom Line: she wasn’t just figuratively blowing her interview subjects. And, while she may or may not be a half-way decent reporter (and I’m not exactly sold on her abilities so much as her producers'), let’s also not forget she started out at the Barbizon School of Journalism – she was a bathing suit model before she got her big break."
Monday, June 28, 2010
"Michael Hastings, if you believe him, says that there were no ground rules laid out. And, I mean, that just doesn't really make a lot of sense to me. I mean, I know these people. They never let their guard down like that. To me, something doesn't add up here. I just -- I don't believe it... What I find is the most telling thing about what Michael Hastings said in your interview is that he talked about his manner as pretending to build an illusion of trust and, you know, he's laid out there what his game is. That is exactly the kind of damaging type of attitude that makes it difficult for reporters who are genuine about what they do, who don't -- I don't go around in my personal life pretending to be one thing and then being something else. I mean, I find it egregious that anyone would do that in their professional life... And to be fair to the military, if they believe that a piece is balanced, they will let you back."
-- CBS Chief Foreign Correspondent Lara Logan on Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings during yesterday's Reliable Sources
Right. This from the woman whose network freely admits that it's covering Afghanistan less these days simply because its gorgeous star war correspondent (that would be Lara Logan) is on maternity leave. Yes, I'd certainly trust that kind of thinking and news judgment over a print reporter who's not being paid a bloody fortune and wasn't hired largely because little hearts dance over the heads of the execs in the CBS News adminisphere every time his face appears on television.
Oh, and Lara, the reason McChrystal and his people may have let their guard down is precisely because they've become so used to being slavishly blown by the establishment press. At this point, I have to imagine they naturally assume that nothing negative -- or newsworthy for that matter -- will ever be written or broadcast about them, so there's really no need to worry about censoring themselves anymore.
And who gave them that idea?
You did -- day after access-filled day.
Put it another way: Michael Hastings was asked to appear on Reliable Sources because he just broke a story of monumental importance and with almost incalculable impact. You were invited on because you're Lara Logan.
I'm not sure if this video is meant to be ironic -- make a statement about how Johnny Cash felt a kinship with the poor and downtrodden then spend the next two-and-a-half minutes cycling through images of the wealthy and occasionally undeserving -- but it's a damn good song, regardless.
Here's God's Gonna Cut You Down.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
"Look, I went into journalism to do journalism, not advertising. My views are critical but that shouldn't be mistaken for hostile. I'm just not a stenographer. There is a body of work that shows how I view these issues but that was hard-earned through experience, not something I learned going to a cocktail party on fucking K Street. That's what reporters are supposed to do -- report the story."
-- Michael Hastings, author of the incendiary piece on General Stanley McChrystal in Rolling Stone
Taylor Momsen of Gossip Girl fame now fancies herself a gutter punk princess. Needless to say, she's not -- but that doesn't mean this isn't a surprisingly decent song.
Here's her band -- The Pretty Reckless -- with Make Me Wanna Die.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
"At approximately 11:04 Eastern Standard Time, the American news media finally realized they kind of sucked."
-- Jon Stewart, mocking the media's condescending shock at the notion that Rolling Stone engaged in actual, God's-honest journalism in its now landmark piece on General Stanley McChrystal
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
"I have enormous respect and admiration for President Obama and his national security team, and for the civilian leaders and troops fighting this war and I remain committed to ensuring its successful outcome. I extend my sincerest apology for this profile. It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened."
-- General Stanley McChrystal, "clarifying" his position as stated in the most recent issue of Rolling Stone magazine
Chances are by now you've heard that McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has been summoned to the White House for a figurative ass-kicking following comments he made in an interview with Rolling Stone. In the article, he's painted as a consistent and vocal detractor of the Obama Administration's policy in Afghanistan, saying, among other things, that he feels abandoned by the man the White House chose to be his diplomatic partner in the region, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry. The piece also claims that McChrystal has seized control of the war "by never taking his eye off the real enemy: The wimps in the White House," and continues to push for a more hawkish approach to victory than, say, the route suggested by Vice President Joe Biden, whom McChrystal's aides publicly insult.
Needless to say, the right-wing feedback loop is about to be cranked up to 11; if you can't already predict the kind of commentary we're going to be inundated with over the next several days -- with the far-right incongruously lauding the work of that commie rag Rolling Stone for the first time in history -- you just haven't been paying attention over the last decade or so.
What interests me most about this, though, is how it's going to be yet another example of the Obama administration getting it from all sides. The right will demonize him for supposedly not listening to the generals on the ground and, one would imagine, refusing to dust off and nuke the entire site from orbit, just to be sure; the left has already spent the past several months beating him up for increasing troop levels in Afghanistan in the first place -- for ostensibly being too warmongering.
Back in December of last year, I wrote a piece for this site and the Huffington Post that caught me the usual amount of crap for supposedly being an Obama apologist. It was written in response to those on the left who somehow felt betrayed by the president's decision to militarily press forward in Afghanistan.
"Welcome to the Suck" (Originally Published, 12.1.09)
A show of hands -- who's really shocked that President Obama made the decision to commit 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan?
If you raised your hand, you're either incredibly naive or you weren't listening particularly closely during last year's presidential campaign. It's not so much what Obama said then as what he didn't say: He talked a lot about withdrawing from Iraq -- a war that was arrogant, unabashed folly from day one -- but to the best of my knowledge never mentioned pulling out of Afghanistan. Those on the left who are now gnashing their teeth at how cheated they feel -- how their dreams of a great progressive utopia have been sacrificed on the altar of Obama's attempts at centrism and the fruitless appeasement of his political enemies -- would be wise to remember all the times they conveniently held Afghanistan up as an example of a supposedly "just war" in an effort to contrast Bush's Iraq adventure as the ultimate "unjust war." As in: "Why aren't we focusing all our attention on Afghanistan, the Taliban and bin Laden, instead of wasting time, lives and money in Iraq? Huh? Huh?"
The fact is that Afghanistan, and by proxy Pakistan, remains the main front, if there is such a thing, in the war against the entity that attacked us on 9/11; it's where we should've been concentrating every ounce of our military and strategic effort all along, before we allowed a bunch of neo-con assholes bent on remaking the Middle East in our image -- or at least Halliburton's -- to distract us in Iraq. Afghanistan is an unfinished fight and, as much as it hurts beyond belief to say this, it's one that will result in a whole lot of American kids having died in vain if we don't at the very least attempt to tie it up in as respectable a bow as is possible in a place that exists at the ass end of the world.
Would it be nice to pull all the troops out and bring them home and would we all love to see that more than anything? Abso-fucking-lutely. Is it realistic, given not simply the fight we started there eight years ago -- the fight we had every right to start -- but the way we abandoned Afghanistan 25 years ago, silently intervening in that country's war against the Soviets then leaving it to pick up the pieces on its own in the aftermath? No, it isn't. It's common knowledge by this point that we helped to create Osama bin Laden and the Taliban through our arming of Afghanistan's mujahadeen in their holy war against the Soviet invaders. If you still subscribe to what Colin Powell once cynically referred to as the "Pottery Barn" rule of nation building -- "You break it, you bought it" -- then Afghanistan has been our war for almost three decades.
And that's something the conflict-addicted jerk-offs in the media need to remember before they giddily jump on what we're already seeing is a rapidly advancing meme in the wake of tonight's address by Obama: that with this escalation, Afghanistan is no longer Bush's war but "Obama's War."
That's horseshit. It was never really Bush's war, and it certainly isn't Obama's war; it's America's war. The Reagan administration was at one time as knee-deep in the impenetrable caves and valleys of Afghanistan as the Soviets were -- the difference being that the U.S. wasn't on the ground attempting to conquer the Afghans -- and because of its negligence post-Russian invasion, our tenuous erstwhile allies evolved to become our greatest threat in the Middle East and Asia, if not on the entire planet. Our decision to attack Afghanistan and attempt to drive out the enemies that we'd ironically created was the right one -- especially after 9/11. The eventual result of this conflict likely won't be a perfectly stable state, and it damn sure won't be one that's free of corruption, not with the Karzai government in charge. But if the Taliban really were allowed to regain a measure of legitimate control within the Afghan borders -- particularly with Pakistan being the bubbling cauldron of crazy that it is -- then we'd have spent the past eight years there for almost nothing.
As painful as it is to accept and as much as it seems antithetical to what many believe they were promised during the campaign, Obama knows this. He made a tough choice -- the least terrible one from a series of options that were all terrible in some form.
Let's just pray we really can push forward and get out with as few lives lost as possible.
Although that may be the naivest hope of all.
Monday, June 21, 2010
"How long am I going to work? How long am I going to live? That's the question. I will work until I drop, or until I lose my head. Until somebody tells me different, I'm not going to quit."
-- Andy Rooney
The problem, of course, is that as far as I can tell Rooney died about ten years ago. And don't even get me started about when he lost his head.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Friday, June 18, 2010
Since the USA just got robbed of its chance to enter the pantheon of the world's great football countries via the usual means, I think we may have to resort doing it the other way: Who's up for killing a ref -- and his family?
The Wall Street Journal: U.S. vs. Slovenia Ends in Controversial Tie/6.18.10
Adding: A minor but necessary adjustment to the Wikipedia entry for Koman Coulibaly, the referee who disallowed the winning U.S. goal (click to enlarge):
So I guess this means we can look forward to a giant, all-boy Bollywood dance number, followed by the heroin-addicted athletes entering the stadium to Iggy Pop's Lust for Life and ending with rage-infected zombies storming the place and ripping everyone to shreds.
USA Today: Directors Danny Boyle and Stephen Daldry to Oversee 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony in London/6.18.10
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Chances are by now you've all seen the above video. It was shot by a concerned citizen (as opposed to one member of a gathering and potentially threatening crowd) as a Seattle cop attempted to arrest a girl who, shall we say, wasn't going quietly. All of 30 seconds into the clip, you see the girl's friend step in and try stop the arrest by shoving the cop; he responds by clocking her in the face. As the punchee is, in fact, female, seventeen years old, and black -- oh, you can imagine the outraged cries of racism, sexism, police brutality, what-have-you.
And yet as I watch the video, just one thing comes to mind...
"The BP oil spill has been a daily reminder of our toxic relationship with decomposed dinosaurs. On just about every blog and every cable news show, we've watched in shock-horror as 75,000,000 gallons of oil spew from the top of the Deepwater Horizon's blowout preventer. We see it. We cringe. Some of us shout, 'Why, oh, why?!' Others curse Tony Hayward and BP. Maybe some of us curse President Obama or former President Bush. A clear majority of Americans are pissed off, and they're taking it out on everyone except themselves: the ones actually buying the oil."
-- Bob Cesca
I've made a point similar to this before, in the comment section, but Cesca's ability to sum it up far more articulately than I have the time to at the moment deserves a place on the main page here. The fact is that while BP is indeed a monolithic multi-national that will always put profit ahead of people, simply because that's the nature of the beast, the addict it's dealing to is us. We're the fat-and-happy assholes who demand that oil be cheap and plentiful; who wouldn't be able to fathom a world in which we couldn't get in our cars and go wherever we wanted whenever we wanted; who don't like to be told that driving a Suburban Assault Vehicle that sucks down a finite resource by the barrel and spits it out the other end as poison gas just might be irresponsible.
Look, I'm as guilty as anyone: I drive a Dodge 1500 pick-up and I couldn't muster much more than a shoulder-shrug at the demise of the Hummer last February (a fact which some thought should've cost me every drop of my Center-Left street cred). I get that people should be entitled to live their lives, for the most part, however they see fit; if they want to cart their litter of kids -- or an abnormally small penis -- around in a tank or some other gas-Hoovering monstrosity, so be it. But you have to accept the consequences of your actions -- and the consequences of a Plainview-esque, Milkshake-gulping greed for oil is that companies like BP will occasionally gang-bang your beaches and water supply raw and will inevitably bleed the planet dry. There's just no way around either of these realities. The only hope is for a major sea change -- no pun intended -- in the way we as Americans think. And since these days "sacrifice" is little more than a word -- one you'll find in the dictionary somewhere between "fuck" and "you" -- that's highly unlikely.
"I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday. I think it is a tragedy in the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown -- in this case a $20 billion shakedown... I'm only speaking for myself. I'm not speaking for anyone else, but I apologize."
-- Republican Representative Joe Barton of Texas (of course) on the successful push to make BP set up a $20 billion escrow account to pay out claims in the wake of the oil catastrophe
Here's an idea: Since I'm willing to bet that Texan Joe is a vocal proponent of our government's use of "enhanced interrogation techniques," as well as an ass-kissing Renfield to the vampires of Big Oil, what say we strap him down and waterboard him with a nice big bucket of this crap:
I remember one day, early in my career, when I ordered a graphic for a story we were doing about the death of actor Bob Crane. I asked for it to read "Crane Murder Mystery" -- with the words superimposed over an image of Crane's face. The finished product, however -- created by the teenagers in the art department and which ultimately wound up accidentally making it on-air -- featured the aforementioned cutline over a picture of a large construction crane.
This is funnier, and more depressing, than that.
(via Alert Reader Tariq)
Take artfully selected scenes from a deliberately provocative 2004 French film about a group of young girls being raised at an isolated boarding school, set it to a lovely and haunting piece of piano, cello and violin music written for another film that inspires either rabid devotion or glib dismissal -- Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain -- and what do you get?
Well, the result is something mesmerizing -- and strangely moving.
Here's Clint Mansell's The Last Man, lent to images from Innocence.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
"I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are
greedy companies or don't care, but that is not the case with BP.
We care about the small people."
-- BP Chairman Carl Henric-Svanberg
Wait a minute -- am I the only one who thinks this is a little suspicious? For weeks now, Tony Hayward has been the face of this disaster on the BP side -- everybody's favorite gaffe-prone punching bag. Now suddenly we're introduced to a new guy whose name sounds like he should be stroking a white cat while ordering the unnecessarily elaborate execution of James Bond.
What do you want to bet Mr. "Henric-Svanberg" makes a couple of more statements about how the people of the Gulf can go fuck themselves, sets an oil-soaked pelican on fire on national television, then is promptly "fired" by an outraged Tony Hayward -- who rides in on a white horse, Excaliber drawn, to vanquish the scourge in the name of decent people everywhere?
Throughout the history of this site, I've poked quite a bit of fun at Miley Cyrus; the fact that she was a tween icon, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Disney Company and the daughter of quite possibly the world's biggest douchebag always made her ripe for ridicule. But it's time I went ahead and copped to something: As Miley's gotten a little older, there's just no denying that she's become surprisingly hot.
The smoky voice, the long legs, the metric ton of great hair piled on top of that teenage head -- I'd be lying if I didn't admit that she's damn attractive.
But I say this with the knowledge that she's still jailbait -- and there's a reason why jailbait is called jailbait.
Maybe that idiot Perez Hilton doesn't understand this -- or maybe he's just so used to having his worthless, oversized ass inexplicably kissed by the media and has come to believe that his reputation as a mischievous firebrand somehow renders him invincible -- but he's now facing a wall of downward-rolling shit over his tweeting of an uncensored upskirt shot of Miley Cyrus getting out of a car, sans panties. I'll leave the head-shaking over the fact that Miley would be stupid enough to wander out of the house commando in the Age of the Paparazzi to another time; the most entertaining facet of this story is that while all Miley did was open her legs at an inopportune moment, Perez, né Mario Lavandeira, may have opened himself up to potential criminal charges. Miley may seem like any other celebrity in line for Perez's brand of juvenile mockery, but, once again, she's only 17 -- which means that posting pictures of her vagina technically counts as child pornography.
Perez is already playing dumb -- which isn't much of a stretch for him -- by claiming that he assumed Miley was, in fact, wearing undies in the picture. But anyone who's ever watched Chris Hansen grill some poor slob on national television knows that ignorance isn't much of a defense.
So has Perez finally backed himself into a corner he can't snark or slap-fight his way out of -- and will he eventually wind up on the receiving end of a Sisters-style laundry room rape at Shawshank?
Unlikely. In fact, I'll bet that in the long run this will just tack another 15 minutes onto his magically regenerating fame clock, and I'll bet he knows this full well.
But it's nice to dream.
I've actually posted this song before as an audio-only clip, but as it turns out the notoriously hermetic Silversun Pickups have finally gotten around to making a video for it -- and to be honest I could listen to this over and over and never get tired of it anyway.
One of the best damn songs of last year -- here's The Royal We.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Oh the bitter Boomer indignation this one drew in September of last year. And here I thought hippies were all about the Summer of Love.
"What a Long, Strange, Thoroughly Obnoxious Trip It's Been" (Originally Posted, 9.1.09)
I'll never forget it: On July 13th, 1985, folk legend Joan Baez walked onto the stage at Philadelphia's JFK Stadium -- site of the U.S. half of that day's massive Live Aid concert -- looked out over the crowd of rowdy kids, lifted up her voice as if she were a pastor at a revival and said triumphantly, "Children of the 80s, this is your Woodstock and it's long overdue."
I'll also never forget my reaction as I sat on a couch with my teenage friends, all of us watching the show live on MTV:
"Fuck off, hippie."
At first glance, my swift and admittedly crude dismissal of an icon of 1960s counter-culture might seem the product of my youth, immaturity and overall lack of ability at the time to appreciate the positive impact that Joan Baez and those like her had on the generation that followed them. You know something, though? I'm now almost 40, and although there are those who would tell you that my level of maturity remains that of a teenager, I gotta say -- I don't give any more of a crap about Joan Baez today than I did in 1985. Looking back on it, I still consider her little more than a silly, pompous 60s cliché.
It's standard operating procedure, practically a rite of passage, for each new generation to fiercely rebel against the one that preceded it -- regardless of the optimistic nonsense that Pepsi's highly paid ad agency would have you believe. But for anyone unlucky enough to follow those who came of age in the 1960s, defiance to some extent has felt all but impossible. This is because, quite frankly, the 60s marked a high point in the evolution of American society as a whole and set an inapproachable standard across so many aspects of our culture -- music, art, political activism, even the act of defiance itself -- and it did this despite being one of the most turbulent periods in our nation's history.
And how do we know this?
Because for 40-some-odd years, the fucking Baby Boomers have never stopped reminding us.
Never in the history of this country has there been a generation that's cast a longer shadow without really having done anything to earn it than the children of the 60s -- specifically the so-called Woodstock Generation. For the most part, they're thoroughly undeserving of the immortality they've pretentiously bequeathed to themselves. But for God's sake, don't ever say this to the True Believers in the Boomer-Woodstock nostalgia aesthetic; they'll immediately begin lecturing you on the seemingly self-perpetuating legacy of the 60s protest movement, the brilliance of Abbie Hoffman, and the philosophical importance of shitting outdoors in the mud while Canned Heat plays Going Up the Country somewhere at the other end of the farm.
In case you hadn't already noticed, all this free love for the era of free love has really been pegging the meters lately thanks to the 40th anniversary of what was known officially as the Woodstock Art and Music Festival ("Three Days of Peace, Music and a Complete Lack of Hygiene"). Yes, it was 40 years ago that a bunch of hippies descended on the tiny town of Bethel, New York to drop acid, whirl around in circles and make memories that would last not only their lifetime but everyone else's -- because it was just that important.
If you weren't able to be there for whatever reason (you were part of the oppressive establishment or, you know, hadn't been born yet) the Woodstock folks need you to understand that, dammit, you should wish you could have been.
Such is the real legacy of the 60s, as filtered through the haze of bong smoke still looked back on with fondness by many of those who were there: It introduced the most narcissistic, self-congratulatory, self-indulgent generation this country has ever seen. A group of people political satirist Christopher Buckley jokingly calls "The Un-greatest Generation."
But once again, don't tell them that. As far as they're concerned, they own the goddamned world -- and to some extent they do, and have since they first went from being counter-culture warriors to being shallow, shameless Wall Street capitalists in the 1980s. When Wavy Gravy gave way to Gordon Gekko. When the Baby Boomers ascended to a position of real power in America, it was almost a certainty that they would do what they'd done since the 60s: shove their values (which always came down to one thing: them), their culture, and their nostalgia for their own childhood down our collective throats, allowing the rest of us the opportunity to fully grasp and revel right along with them in what they already knew so well -- their lives ruled. It was this gargantuanly egocentric attitude that gave us the "Me Generation" during the 70s and went on to bankrupt parts of this country, both financially and morally, in the 80s and beyond. No wonder "my generation" (no pun intended), the so-called Gen-X, eventually decided that the only way to fight back was to abandon all that phony, ultimately self-serving conscientiousness and just not give a shit about anything.
But we never could escape the warm bath of encomium flowing from a media machine designed not just to chronicle but glorify the Boomers as they made their way through life -- from their self-reflective 30s (the tedious navel-gazing of Thirtysomething and The Big Chill), through their ascendency to their rightful place at the very pinnacle of American society (the too-much-is-never-enough Clinton presidency), now into their autumnal years (story upon story devoted to how they're "redefining" retirement -- bringing the same level of self-indulgence to it that they've brought to every other period in their lives). To drop a phrase from a generation that existed long before theirs, the more things change the more they stay the same.
The reality is that although the 1960s themselves were an extraordinary time and I'd never devalue some of the truly impressive accomplishments that took place during that era, it would be great if we'd all be allowed to, well, get over it. An adherence to the standards supposedly set in the 60s has at times done far more harm than good. Think the 60s protest movement -- the way in which people are encouraged to protest, highlighting individualism (making my point perfectly) -- really has any relevance to today's climate? You're out of your fucking mind. When what was called for in the lead-up to the war in Iraq -- what would've been truly effective -- was a show of strength through unity and, yes, conformity among activists, what we instead got was what we've always gotten since the 60s: a bunch of dumb-asses in face paint and colorful t-shirts acting like buffoons. Needless to say, this struck fear into the hearts of absolutely no one in the political and media establishment. All it proved was that those who were opposed to the impending war would never be able to get it together enough to make a successful stand against the people calling the shots.
So why did we engage in this thoroughly impotent form of activism? Because we'd been taught since birth that "this is how they did it in the 60s, man!" (regardless of the fact that it can easily be argued that the real reason for the Vietnam protests in the first place was that none of the hippies wanted to get stuck going to war -- 'cause, wow, bummer man).
Big fan of those ridiculous Jesse Jackson-led marches? Do those really accomplish a goddamned thing? Not quite. And yet we allow Jackson to continually hijack any real dialogue and chance at lasting understanding simply because he's a 60s icon -- one who's always at the ready to inject himself into any public fight simply because it will get him on TV (making my point yet again). Or how about this one: Think about how every political or cultural scandal since 1972 has ludicrously been dubbed "Something-or-Other-Gate" -- named for the Watergate break-in ordered by late-60s pariah Richard Nixon.
The 60s is the decade that just won't die.
Those who lived it have spent the last four decades looking down their noses at the rest of us and saying, "You're welcome."
Joan Baez's comment at Live Aid was more revealing about an entire mindset than even she probably realized. So much that's happened since the 1960s has been compared against the standard supposedly set in the 1960s. This is especially interesting when you consider something: Live Aid was actually about alleviating world hunger; what was Woodstock about? You guessed it -- them. They came up during a time when maybe being an individual could be perceived as a threat to the squares in the establishment -- but did that ethos have to continue throughout the rest of their lives, even well past the point that they actually became the establishment? Did the Woodstock generation ever really grow up?
Look, Dennis Hopper is now a card-carrying conservative. The last Kennedy brother is dead. American Express is now aiming retirement package commercials at you featuring a smiling, gray-haired couple saying, "Never trust anyone over 90!" -- officially making you a walking punchline. Taking Woodstock came in 9th at the box office over the weekend.
The trip's over. Will you please go away and leave us alone now?
Monday, June 14, 2010
Sunday, June 13, 2010
"It doesn't matter how you try to sell it to us, it doesn't matter how many celebrities you get, it doesn't matter how many bars open early, it doesn't matter how many beer commercials they run, we don't want the World Cup, we don't like the World Cup, we don't like soccer, we want nothing to do with it... I hate it so much, probably because the rest of the world likes it so much, and they riot over it, and they continually try to jam it down our throat."
-- Glenn Beck
Yup. And even if it weren't a spectacular sport, I'd probably love it specifically because provincial boobs like Beck hate it so much.
"Don't tease the panther."
-- Internet-meme-destined bit of wisdom from Glenn Beck's new novel, The Overton Window (because The Something Something, You Know, Like Robert Ludlum would've been too obvious)
This was always pretty much guaranteed; the metaphor is just too easy and obvious.
Newsweek: Blood in the Water: Some Say BP's Oil Spill Heralds the Apocalypse/6.4.10
The most disturbing little nugget relayed in this story comes just two lines in: "About 60 million white evangelicals live in America, and about one third of them believe that the world will end in their lifetime, according to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press."
(via Christian Nightmares)
Friday, June 11, 2010
Thursday, June 10, 2010
As my incomprehensibly busy streak continues -- and once again, I swear it won't last forever -- I'm doing what I can to keep some semblance of content appearing on this site regularly. So with that in mind, I'm bringing back a piece from last year on the eye-opening joys of keeping your penis safely tucked in your pants. Why do I do this? Because 23-year-old mistress/psycho-chick Brooke Hundley -- who you'll remember was one half of the duo that wrecked the career of sports anchor Steve Phillips (the other half being Phillips himself) -- is now suing ESPN for supposedly defaming her.
So what's the lesson again, folks?
"Reject the Cock" (Originally Published, 10.23.09)
"Anybody who believes that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach flunked geography."
-- Robert Byrne
All kinds of wonderfully interesting things happened to me following the brain surgery I underwent back in 2006. Because I had a very large portion of my pituitary gland removed along with the even larger tumor I had to have cut out of my head, I was rendered one giant, hormonal trainwreck in the months and even year or so following the operation. Although it was nightmarish at times -- you try figuring out where that fucking fruity smell is coming from while you're sitting through your dozenth hot flash of the day -- I have to admit that one by-product of the surgery's aftermath was nothing short of eye-opening.
For a good amount of time, I completely lost my sex drive.
As in completely.
It didn't mean I couldn't have sex -- just that I had no overwhelming desire to.
While this might sound like some Boschian hellscape for most men out there, I gotta say -- it was actually anything but. In fact, it was kind of nice, for the first time since puberty, to be mercifully free from the tyrannical rule of my own penis. Think about it: If you're a guy, how many times has your dick gotten you into serious trouble? Think about the money you've spent in pursuit of getting laid. Think about the compromising positions you've put yourself in; the number of girlfriends who've thrown drinks at you in public after discovering that you couldn't resist the two bisexual strippers the previous evening; that time you woke up in a strange house with a girl scout sash tied tightly around your scrotum, boxes of Samoa cookies scattered everywhere and the police threatening to bust down the door.*
Or how about this one: Your inability to keep yourself safely out of the pants of a 22-year-old psychopath who's now destroying your marriage and your career at ESPN.
By now you've likely heard the story of ESPN analyst Steve Phillips and his three-week affair with a young production assistant named Brooke Hundley. You're probably also familiar with the fact that Hundley's behavior in the wake of that affair has been, shall we say, "erratic." She wrote a rambling letter to Phillips's wife in which she detailed her relationship with Phillips, talked at length about the couple's children (a violation which, in my humble opinion, constitutes an acceptable defense for murder), and described a birthmark on her lover's crotch -- you know, just to prove that she'd actually been spending a lot of time where she claimed to be. Phillips's wife, Marni, dialed 911 right after the letter was dropped at her home by Hundley, claiming that Hundley had been harassing her family for some time -- making threatening calls and shouting hysterically, "We both can't have him," and posing as a 16-year-old on Facebook to reach out to her teenage boys -- and that she'd just driven her car into the family's house. If Steve and Marni Phillips's kids had a pet rabbit, that fucker would be soup by now.
But while there's no doubt that Brooke Hundley is one crazy little tart, it's Steve Phillips and his apparently still armed and fully operational penis that overwhelmingly contributed to the goddamned mess he's now in.
I've written before about not just men's but everyone's propensity to cheat on their spouses, and given the level of controversy that very personal piece spawned I see no need to revisit it in detail here. But it's still disconcerting as hell to think that no matter how old a guy gets -- Phillips is 46, David Letterman, who's own recent scandal, complete with sex tape, has put him in the spotlight, is 62 for God's sake -- his years of accrued wisdom and ostensible good sense will never apparently trump his hubris and sex drive. It would be nice to think that at some point in a man's life, even one who makes his living on television, judgment will finally override the desire for a cheap thrill that inevitably leads to a really undignified fall.
It would be nice to think it -- but it apparently just ain't so.
Years ago, my friends and I used to regularly warn each other of the dangers of "men made dumb by pussy." And for a little while, I got to stand outside myself and laugh at the absurdity of the endless pursuit of it -- and it was a revelation.
For the record, I eventually did get on the right kind of medication, my chemistry balanced out and my sex drive finally returned. I'm hoping, however, that the insight I gained during my time as a free, hormonally castrated man -- the time when sex seemed like nothing but a silly triviality -- stays with me and is powerful enough to counteract the biological drive that's been an albatross around the neck (to say nothing of the nether regions) of my kind since the beginning of time.
Although -- anybody know when Girl Scout cookie season starts again?
*I sometimes drink.
DXM: All Fall Down/8.10.08
DXM: Eliot Mess/3.12.08
If by some chance you've been following this site since the very beginning, you know that four years ago I devoted an obscene amount of copy to the 2006 World Cup. That's because if I loved soccer any more I'd probably qualify as a full-fledged hooligan.
Well, tomorrow the obsession begins again.
And here's something to get you in the mood -- a reminder of how and why football rules globally and why, occasionally, commercials really can reach the level of art.
I'm pretty sure I posted this once before, quite a while ago, but I woke up this morning just feeling like hearing it. Besides, if you don't own everything these guys have ever done -- you should.
Here's Doves, with the gorgeously cinematic Snowden.
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
One of the most curiously entertaining pastimes in the world of pop culture these days is listening to -- and occasionally engaging in -- the endless debate over whether Lady GaGa is a pioneering genius or a derivative hack (or perhaps a genius precisely because she is nothing more than a derivative hack).
Regardless, she's brought a kind of visual flair back to music performance and the medium of the music video that's been sorely missing for years -- and for that I give her credit. I said this last year, when I called Bad Romance one of the best singles of 2009: Love her or hate her, you can't deny her as a cultural force.
Case in point: Her new video, for Alejandro, was released just yesterday and in that time it's gotten almost three-and-a-half million views on YouTube. Katy Perry's already labeled it "blasphemous" and, at the very least, I think it can be said that GaGa pulls off "inexplicably sexy" better than just about anyone.
So is it brilliant, ridiculous, or not even worth raising an eyebrow over? Well, you decide.
Here's Lady GaGa's not-at-all-homoerotic new video -- Alejandro.
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
From the Onion:
"Massive Flow Of Bullshit Continues To Gush From BP Headquarters
LONDON — As the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico entered its eighth week Wednesday, fears continued to grow that the massive flow of bullshit still gushing from the headquarters of oil giant BP could prove catastrophic if nothing is done to contain it.
The toxic bullshit, which began to spew from the mouths of BP executives shortly after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in April, has completely devastated the Gulf region, delaying cleanup efforts, affecting thousands of jobs, and endangering the lives of all nearby wildlife."
Since the corruption trial of human punchline Rod Blagojevich is finally underway in Chicago, I figured I'd bring back this bit from January of last year.
"Game Over" (Originally Published, 1.30.09)
***VIA GAMESPONGE.COM: UNOFFICIAL WALKTHROUGH OF GRAND THEFT AUTO IV by @Deathstalker666***
***SECRET HIDDEN LEVEL: "DON'T SPARE THE ROD"***
This one's a bit tough, but it's hella-entertaining. After you've completed the construction site mission with a perfect score, you (Niko Bellic) will find yourself in a cutscene that takes place late at night by the docks. Dimitri Rascalov is there, looking to make a deal with you.
Dimitri (with thick Slavic accent): Well Niko, do you still want to kill me?
Niko (with equally thick accent): Do not tempt me, Rascalov. What do you want at this hour?
Dimitri: It seems your, eh, "special talents" have not gone unnoticed by those in very high places. I tell them you are uncontrollable but they do not care. They tell me they need someone like you -- someone, how you say, working below the radar -- to do a very special job for them. It is job that must never be traced back to the people who ordered it. You understand?
Niko: Yes, yes. I get it.
Dimitri hands you a manila envelope which you open, pulling out a photograph and examining the face on it.
Niko: I take it they want this man -- dealt with?
Dimitri: Ah, you're not as stupid as you look, Serb. His name is Blagojevich. A fellow countryman of yours -- which I suppose means that he's a sniveling rat that will be easy to kill.
Niko: Very funny, Rascalov.
Dimitri: This Blagojevich will be difficult to get to. He is a corrupt politician -- a governor -- who has barricaded himself inside his office downtown. Yesterday, some of our mysterious benefactors voted him out of office for his crimes, but of course, being a Serb, he is refusing to go quietly and is kicking and screaming like scared child. The people who hired us, who go only by code name "Donkey," want you to go in and, eh, "convince him" to leave. Oh yes, and this convincing should look like mob hit, you understand? You remember what your kind did to enemy troops during Balkans war? That is what you will do to Blagojevich, yes?
Niko: Yeah. I get it. But after I take care of this, I'm coming for you, Rascalov.
Dimitri: I will be waiting, Serbian scum.
Scene fades to black and you find yourself outside on the street. Jack a car and head downtown to Blagojevich's office. When you get there, police will be surrounding it, shouting to the governor on bullhorns, trying to get him to surrender. If you look up, you'll be able to see Blagojevich sticking his head out of a broken window on an upper floor. He's shouting obscenities down to the cops and throwing molotov cocktails at them. Make sure to duck the fireballs as you get out of the car and make your way around the back of the building. There you'll have to break a basement window and slide through it. If you walk to your left after getting into the basement, you'll find the elevator. Hit the button and head up to the 3rd floor. When the elevator door opens, you'll see a large sign behind a reception desk. It's trimmed in purple fur and reads "BIG ROD: GOV!" You should already be able to hear Blagojevich yelling from his office. Aside from that, the whole place should be empty except for the bodies of a couple of dead hookers. Just step around them.
Now, this is important: hide your weapon. If you come up on Blagojevich with a gun, he'll scurry away, shouting at you to "go fuck yourself, you fuckin' prick." It'll be easier if he just thinks you're a standard fellow Eastern European gangster. When you walk into Blagojevich's office, he'll have his back to you as he lights molotov cocktails and tosses them out the window and down onto the cops below. He's wearing a tracksuit, screaming and laughing, "Hey, you like that you fuckin' pansies! Think you can fuckin' take down Big Rod, you fuckin' motherfuckers? I'll fuckin' show you, pigs!" As you quietly approach him, be careful to avoid the smashed mirror ball on the office floor, since the crunch of glass under your feet will give you away. Finally, when you get right behind him, you'll get a cutscene:
Blagojevich (quickly turning around): What the -- who the fuck are you?
Niko: Just a friend. Take it easy.
Blagojevich (jumpy, but suddenly smiling): Hey, hey! Somebody from the old country, eh? Good to see you, pal. The boys send you to help get me outta this mess?
Niko: Eh, something like that.
Blagojevich: I knew it (laughing). I knew they wouldn't let a guy like me take the fall. They know I'm too valuable -- and they damn well know I'm no rat. (Turns back toward the open window and shouts) YA HEAR THAT?! I'M NO RAT, YOU FUCKS! (Tosses another molotov through the window)
Niko: My God, man. You need to sit down. Relax.
Blagojevich (pacing back and forth behind his desk): Yeah, yeah. You're right. It's just that this whole thing's been so fuckin' crazy, ya know? I mean, fuck -- alls I did was try to rip off the FDA, beat the shit out of guys who didn't back my legislation, hand over state jobs to anybody willing to write out a check to my seven-year-old daughter, and sell the new president's senate seat to the highest bidder. I mean, what the fuck?
Niko: They take their laws very seriously in this country.
Blagojevich: Too seriously, am I right? Eh? Hey, you want some blow?
Blagojevich sits down behind his desk and sticks his face into a mountain of cocaine, which he snorts loudly then comes up laughing. As he does this, he puts down the unlit molotov bottle in his hand. This gives you your opening. Pull your gun on him -- preferably the shotgun.
Blagojevich (suddenly standing up): Hey hey, what the fuck is this, amigo?
Niko: This is business.
Blagojevich: Wait a minute -- they sent you, didn't they? Cullerton, Reid, Pelosi -- all those assholes.
Niko: It doesn't matter who sent me. All that matters for you is that I am here.
Blagojevich (backing up with his hands raised): Oh come on, pal. Maybe we can do a deal. Ever thought about owning a Dunkin Donuts off the turnpike? Great business opportunity. Or wait! I know! A man of your stature belongs in public office. How'd you like to be a U.S. senator? Think of it -- Senator, uh, what the hell is your name?
Niko: Niko Bellic. Unfortunately for you, it's the name you're going to be taking to your grave, my friend.
Blagojevich: WHAT THE FUCK!? You can't kill me, you fuck! I'm the first black governor of Illinois, you filthy son of a bitch!
Pay close attention, because this is where Blagojevich will reach behind his back and pull a small pistol from his waistband. You'll have to duck the shot he fires while making sure not to shoot him in front of the window, because if you do he'll fall backward through the open window and you won't be able to do what Dimitri ordered you to. After Blagojevich fires at you, jump forward and grab his gold chains, only then do you blast him in the chest with the shotgun.
Blagojevich: Ugh, you, you, fuuuuuuck.
As Blagojevich dies, pull out your knife and scalp him, taking his abundant mane as proof you accomplished your mission, then you can toss him through the open window. When you do this, you'll get a cutscene of Blagojevich's limp body smashing onto the hood of a police car.
Now get the hell out of the office before the SWAT teams come storming up the stairwell. Take the elevator back downstairs and escape out the back. You'll then get a call on your cellphone. It's Dimitri.
Dimitri: A job well done, Serb.
Niko: How did you know?
Dimitri: 24-hour cable news. What a country.
Niko: Would you like to tell me what I'm supposed to do with all this hair? It's chafing my fingers.
Dimitri: Go to alley behind Ben's Chili Bowl franchise. Sunglassed men in black limousine will meet you there to pick it up and take it to their boss. By the way, he -- you know, the man in charge of "Donkey" -- had his people call us. He has message for you. He says he likes your style and wishes to send more work your way.
Niko: Oh yeah?
Dimitri: Yes. You know of man named "Limbaugh?"
The cutscene fades to black.
Monday, June 07, 2010
I have to admit that when I first heard the story of Debrahlee Lorenzana I couldn't help but be a little curious.
For those who haven't been paying attention, Lorenzana is the woman who's apparently so sexy she was fired for it. She claims that she lost her job at Citibank in New York because her bosses considered her looks a distraction. They supposedly banned her from wearing certain kinds of clothing -- a lengthy list which, according to her, even included turtlenecks -- but eventually realized that nothing could suppress her overwhelming hotness. And so, for the sake of salvaging their marriages and, one would imagine, the self-esteem of the average, non-Olympian women working in the office -- they finally just had to can her outright.
This morning, Lorenzana made the rounds on the morning news shows, with her predictably insufferable lawyer in tow (she's now suing Citibank) and of course I had to tune in, since I hadn't yet gazed upon this temptress with my own eyes.
I'm glad I did -- because it was comedy bloody gold.
Yeah, she's very pretty. No doubt about it.
And then -- she opens her mouth.
"I was down there a month ago, before most of these talking heads were even paying attention to the Gulf. A month ago I was meeting with fishermen down there, standing in the rain talking about what a potential crisis this could be. And I don't sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar, we talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick."
-- President Barack "Dolemite" Obama
So, at what point did Obama go from being Theo Huxtable to being Grandad from The Boondocks?
I still like and respect the guy, but this is silly posturing -- and it's beneath him. Although that said, it is pretty entertaining.
Saturday, June 05, 2010
Tomorrow morning, Inara goes back to New York -- but tonight there was this:
After watching some TV on the couch together, followed by a little collaboration on a coloring book that features cartoons of dogs (whenever Inara wants to do this, she gets the book, looks up and announces, "Draw puppy?") and a couple of bites of what she excitedly called a "yummy salad," I finally decided to put my daughter down for the night.
I picked Inara up, carried her into her room and set her gently in bed -- along with a cup of milk, her blanket and stuffed bunny -- then laid down next to her on the floor. I listened to her fidget for a few minutes, then from out of the darkness came a tiny voice.
Nothing. She didn't respond at all, just went back to sucking on her sippy cup.
A few moments later, there was the voice again, even quieter this time.
"Yes, honey. I'm here."
Even though she couldn't see it, I gave her a warm and reassuring smile -- one fueled by pure contentment.
Again a little later: "Daddy?"
"Yes, Inara. I'm still here. I'll always be here."
After a while, the voice grew smaller and smaller -- its entreaties further and further apart. But each time she called out for me, I answered, until she stopped altogether and the only sound left in the room was her steady breathing.
This is the best Saturday night I've had in years.
Friday, June 04, 2010
"Yeah, we waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. I'd do it again to save lives."
-- George W. Bush, during a speaking engagement in Grand Rapids, Michigan two days ago
I'm not sure what's more offensive: that Bush, like Cheney before him, glibly admits to what's essentially a war crime, or that -- as with all the other times this underachieving buffoon has played dress-up -- he tries to masculinely take possession of an act he'd never really have the balls to do outside of the fantasy world in his own pea brain. He says "I'd do it again" as if he were Jack Bauer, personally holding KSM's head under the water while demanding to know where the bomb is.
Obviously, if anybody deserved to suffer a little, it's Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. I'm by no means defending the guy; you could take his toes off one by one with piano wire and I wouldn't care. But in keeping with the Bush Administration's proud tradition of mind-boggling incompetence, the fact that we tortured the 9/11 mastermind -- and obviously a whole host of other prisoners -- was, at the very least, never kept quiet. Despite Bush's usual misguided and arrogant moral certitude, most people around the world don't look too fondly on states that willfully torture -- and by not only doing it but letting it get out there in the public forum, the lives of innocent Americans were put in danger, since you know damn well our enemies wouldn't take too kindly to our actions and would use our "enhanced interrogation techniques" as their "enhanced recruiting tool."
And yet Bush, now completely comfortable that he can fess up and not have to worry one bit about facing any serious personal repercussions, not only admits he ordered the Code Red, but boasts about it -- once again bringing the subject front-and-center and potentially putting our lives and the lives of our military serving abroad in the crosshairs. And the worst part about all of this is that he's doing it for purely egocentric reasons. It's just another case of Bush still, after all this time, trying to prove he's a tough-guy and not, in reality, daddy's little silver spoon-fed Ivy League pussy.
On the plus side, thanks, George, for once again handily answering this question.
Like the film genre it pays homage to, there's nothing the least bit subtle about this clip -- but that's more than okay.
And yes, despite the melodrama it bleeds from every note and frame, of course I can't help but have a special appreciation for this song and video right now. Must be the fact that Inara goes back to New York in a couple of days.
Here's an underappreciated favorite from the 80s: Asia's The Smile Has Left Your Eyes.
Thursday, June 03, 2010
Wednesday, June 02, 2010
From the cover of today's Wall Street Journal, for the story on the Supreme Court decision which changes the nature of the Miranda warning.
The man in the picture -- the guy holding the Miranda card? That's my father -- former Miami Police commander Ralph Page -- circa, 1976.
My guess? When she huffed, "Well, that's a relief -- now if we can just get rid of that WASP band," after learning of the death of Ronnie James Dio, that was all Al could take.
No one under the age of, say, 37, will get this joke, by the way.
The Huffington Post: Al and Tipper Gore Split/6.1.10