Monday, June 30, 2003
A Modest Proposal
As I sit here, typing away at this keyboard in little more than a mink stole and a pair of Calvin Klein boxer briefs, the great state of California is on the brink of financial disaster. (This is front page news for the Washington Post website, but curiously not for the LA Times, but I digress.)
California, you see, is facing a $38 billion budget shortfall. To illustrate how historically large that sum is, it's roughly half of the money the RIAA says it loses daily to the downloading of mp3s.
Many of you know that I am a fabulously overcompensated writer living somewhere in Hollywood. But most of the readers of this site do not know that I am also an economic visionary that recently solved fiscal crises in Argentina and Afghanistan. So I present a modest proposal for heading off California's financial disaster at the proverbial pass.
And it all starts with Ashton Kutcher.
Yes, I know he's over, done, finished, whatever. But it's precisely his overexposure that's going to steer the Golden State through its troubled times.
Starting immediately, we will hold a daily auction to win a date with Ashton on eBay. Each auction winner will get to spend a day with the Hollywood It-boy and impish host of Punk'd.
Here's how it works:
The state of California will file a 38-day budget extension as the auction racks up $1 billion in bids per day (a one-bil reserve price sounds reasonable and attainable). At the end of the 38 days, disaster will be averted and California will be restored to solvency.
An MTV camera crew will document each of the 38 dates, which will be run marathon-style throughout the month, preempting all other programming other than TRL. Ashton will keep an online journal during the marathon from which additional funds can be collected via a Paypal "Donate" button. Bonus auctions of the tank-tops and trucker hats he will inevitably wear on each date will go to pay government employees until the date-cycle is finished.
Kutcher gets to put his immense-yet-rapidly-fading popularity to positive, civic use. And 38 women and men (the one-time male model is gay-friendly!) from the ages of sixteen to sixty get a day they will never forget. Everyone wins.
California, your white knight is here, and he's wearing a puckishly-askew, mesh John Deere cap.
You can thank me in 38 days.
Friday, June 27, 2003
It is with great sadness that I note the irony of the passing of Strom Thurmond, 100-year-old fifty-term senator from South Carolina, on the same day as the Supreme Court sent the Texas sodomy laws to their judicial death. Thurmond, you see, was a great champion of the rights of homosexuals to engage in whatever sexual practices their hearts desired in the privacy of their own homes, as long as those homosexuals were not black.
In Thurmond's estimation, dark-skinned buggerers and oral aficionados (of any sexual orientation as he had no problems with breeders) could indulge their erotic inclinations, so long as these carnal unions took place in the hold of a mighty ship headed for Africa's western coast or the island nation of Haiti, where he reckoned they'd be better off with their own kind.
Thurmond's political beliefs came to have a profound, unexpected impact on his family life. His third son, Strom Quattro Thurmond, was born both homosexual and black. Thurmond quickly came to terms with his toddler's apparent sexual preferences. Despite Thurmond's eventual, politically galvanizing about-face on the issue of segregation, Quattro's skin color created a dilemma tearing at the fabric of his fatherly love. He often put the child in a rowboat on a pond on the grounds of his Raleigh plantation with instructions for the boy to "row his savage ass back to Nigeria." But at the end of each day at the pond, Thurmond would lift an exhausted Quattro from the rowboat and escort him to his bedroom in the servant's quarters at the far end of the estate. He'd tuck the boy in, wondering why God couldn't give him a light-skinned gay child. But his faith saw him through. He never did send Quattro back to Africa.
And Quattro never stopped loving his complicated father; he and his companion Quincy (a white man -- boys never do stop trying to please their daddies) were at Thurmond's bedside as he expired. Quattro and Quincy carried out Strom's last request, sending a box of Cohibas to Bob Hope's estate with a note stating simply, "You win."
Feeling a Draft Special
People in Los Angeles aren't supposed to care about sports, unless it's ten seconds to go in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, the Lakers are up by 42, and they're seated behind Jack Nicholson as the camera takes its 300th reaction shot of his bloated, leathery head.
But God help me, I care. At the risk of turning in my Hollywood Glitterati Bandwagon Fuck card, I bring to you my behind-the-scenes reportage of Thursday's NBA 2003 Draft.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers -- LeBron James
High-school phenom James is praised by scouts for already possessing an "NBA body," which entails having functioning genitalia suitable for creating a legion of bastard offspring.
2. Detroit Pistons -- Darko Milicic
Detroit decides they need Serbian 7-footer to shore up their frontcourt defense against ethnic cleansing.
3. Denver Nuggets -- Carmelo Anthony
Syracuse star and NCAA Tournament hero was named for popular candy bar, but his parents' tragic mispelling of his name led to childhood marred by taunting from chocoholic classmates.
4. Toronto Raptors -- Chris Bosh
The idea of basketball in Canada continues to be as mystifying as the idea of a vegan field trip to an Outback Steakhouse.
5. Miami Heat -- Dwayne Wade
Miami head coach Pat Riley hasn't had a threesome since last title with Showtime-era Lakers, and that involved a pre-HIV Magic Johnson and Dyan Cannon.
6. Los Angeles Clippers -- Chris Kaman
Clippers owner Donald Sterling recently placed second to Adolf Hitler in "Worst Owner in Pro Sports" poll.
7. Chicago Bulls -- Kirk Hinrich
Chicago has not fielded a professional basketball team since Michael Jordan's retirement in 1999, drafts white Iowan as "fuck you" to city's former basketball fans.
8. Milwaukee Bucks -- TJ Ford
The only way I will ever go to Milwaukee is as featured meat in Hilton sisters sandwich, sponsored by Miller Brewery.
9. New York Knicks -- Michael Sweetney
Given the tragic events of 9-11, I cannot make snarky comments at the expense of New York City. But Spike Lee retains his role as most annoying (and now litigious) courtside shitbag.
10. Washington Wizards -- Jarvis Hayes
Little known Washington rookie hazing ritual: first-years must drag Ted Kennedy's liquor cart and play part of Mary Jo Kopechne in Kennedy's annual recreation of Chappaquiddick tragedy.
11. Golden State Warriors -- Mikael Pietrus
French baller should be favorite of San Francisco Bay Area's large homosexual community.
12. Seattle Sonics -- Nick Collison
Unbeknowst to all 29 teams, Collison will be last white player to ever play in NBA. Yes, that includes Europeans.
13. Memphis Grizzlies -- Jesus Christ
Son of God has inexplicably gone undrafted for 2000 years, despite dying for world's sins, sixty-two inch vertical leap. Christians everywhere blame NBA Commissioner David Stern, a Jew, for NBA's longtime neglect of Christ.
Picks 14-29: Anyone selected with these picks are doomed to lives of local used car dealership/electronic store/Korean manicure parlor endorsements. At least one will die in a tragic swimming pool accident. And one player, suprisingly, will one day be named United States ambassdor to Singapore.
Thursday, June 26, 2003
Grilled Weiners for the Holiday--or--
Everyone Loves a Barbecue, Even a Weiner
I've never been much for holidays. Since my writing career's taken off, I haven't been in an office and benefited from a long weekend away from the tedium of stapler performance and Xerox jams. And holidays are quite obviously an invitation for amateur-hour clowns to sit in your backyard, poke at grilling meat with a huge fork, get drunk, vomit all over your second-hand patio furniture, and urinate on your highly-illegal lawn dart targets. I can piss in my own plastic rings while dangerous projectiles rain down around me, thank you very much.
That being said, I decided to have right-wing talk show host Michael Savage (né Weiner--kids, count along at home how many times you're going to see "Weiner" today!) for a little barbecue in honor of America's newest holiday, Appropriate Michael Savage's Name for Your Own Purposes Day. We chatted about current events, threw some burgers on the Coleman, and put back a twelve pack of Amstel Lights (hey, that's what he brought even though I specifically asked for Miller Genuine Draft, a holiday beer if there ever was one).
"You do realize that today may or may not be the worst day of your life."
"How so? It's my holiday! It's not too bad so far. Those burgers are going to be great."
"I don't know, I thought you might be a little upset that your name is going to be dragged across the internet. Some might say it's going to be appropriated over and over for people's personal purposes, and that seems to upset you."
"Who can think about all of that stuff when there are burgers to grill?"
Savage takes his place beside the barbecue, wafting the scent of browning meat towards his face. Even though we haven't eaten yet and there are already four burgers cooking, he unwraps four more and plops them down on the grill.
"Ready for some questions?"
"It's well-established you hate many minority groups. Do you hate Jews yet?"
"If you did a little research, you might have discovered that my given name is Michael Weiner and that I am, in fact, a Jew from the Bronx. Which gives me carte blanche to hate them if I so choose. I reserve the right to hate them in the future. You know, harangues about sending them all back to Israel, and turning The Holy Land into a parking lot. The whole bit."
"If you could get one million additional viewers for your foundering right-wing cable talk show by strangling a Jew, would you do it? I'll make it easy, it's a very liberal Jew you'd be strangling. You know, he could have been against the war, loves immigrants, whatever."
"Then what difference does it make that he's Jewish?"
"I'm trying to construct some kind of moral dilemma since you haven't officially turned on the Jews yet. You better push down that burger with the spatula."
He flattens a burger with the spatula, which hisses and bleeds juice over the coals.
"How many viewers would I get again?"
"A million. A million extra, so your viewership would be something like one million forty thousand."
He wags a finger at me, indicating I've been naughty, but still managing to keep an eye on his cooking duties.
"Cheap shot. Yeah, I'd strangle the little liberal. My show could really use the help, I can't even sniff the ass of WB ratings. You want me to flip this burger for you? It's getting a little brown."
"Sure. Speaking of which, we know how much you hate brown things, like my gardener, Manuel. You asked to see his green card on the way in. But he was born in Cleveland."
"We can't take any chances, now can we? I would have given him a three minute head start before I chased him down with my shotgun. I'm gonna use that on my show tomorrow. The Michael Savage Three Minute Immigrant Head Start Challenge. I'll play some tejano music, really let loose with the shotgun sound effects. Oh, man, that's good."
We're quiet for a minute, watching the grill, when I break the silence.
"When you used to hang out with Ginsberg, was there any cock play involved? And I must warn you, no matter what you say, I am going to replace it with innuendo that leaves the door open on the Ginsberg-cock-play-in-your-hippie-days question."
"It was an era of free love, which I've turned my back on in all its forms. Especially the cock play forms. If you imply that I am or was a homosexual because I am going to artlessly evade the cock play question by rearranging the meat on this grill, you'll be hearing from my attorneys."
By what I am sure was sheer coincidence, he throws three hot dogs on the grill, which is now a logjammed with sizzling meats.
"I was just asking. I thought it would be ironic given your hostility towards homosexuals. Would you mind melting some cheddar on one of those for me?"
"Not at all. This is going to be extra-yummy! I brought my own onions."
He tosses some onions onto the grill. Finally, he scoops up a cheeseburger with a spatula and deposits it in a bun. He hands it to me, smiling.
"You know, you've been surprisingly good-natured about these questions. You haven't turned purple once and taken a swing at me, or called me a pussy or anything."
"I love barbecues. And I'm really starting to like the idea of having my own holiday, even if I have to sue five thousand internet blog nerds once a year." He chokes a little on a bite of a hot dog, then composes himself. "I dunno, I guess that's why MSNBC has lawyers. On a totally unrelated note, you're not going to use the term cock play in your transcript, are you?"
"Of course not."
"Of course not. I mean, there really wasn't anything playful about it. Alan had a lot of anger."
"I didn't hear that."
"Of course you didn't, it's my holiday!"
Michael and I take a long swig from our Amstels, as I wonder what we're going to do with all the extra burgers once we're done with lawn darts.
Wednesday, June 25, 2003
Dept. of Deja Vu (Where Do the Diacritics Go?)
My Radiohead review is now available on Bob from Accounting. Click here or the image below to go there.
Longtime readers may remember that this "review" originally appeared in ths space last week, and may wish to scroll down. But I urge you to read it (again, if necessary) at Bob, because it's a pretty, pretty site (unlike the abject horror of web design offered by this blog**) and because you can buy things there (and I see none of the money).
[**Anyone willing to donate a less terrible template is invited to do so.]
Longtime readers should remember that last week I posted congratulations to Gawker for being named Entertainment Weekly's "It blog."
I also tried to launch an e-mail campaign to get EW to recognize this blog, which some have referred to as "The Greatest Blog in the World."
It seems that the magazine was deluged with demands to include me in the laurel-granting fun. An EW staffer (identifying herself only as "Gleesa Twartzbaumer") leaked the following scanned image to me, which she revealed was cut from the magazine moments before publication. She also mentioned that the puzzling inclusion of Salman Rushdie as "It Fatwa Target" was added from their archives to fill the layout hole created by my last-minute excision.
Oh well, better luck next year.
Tuesday, June 24, 2003
If You Must Know, Ford Called at 3:07 a.m.
Answering Machine: [beeps] You've reached the corporate offices of Bunsen Dot TV. Please leave a message and one of our customer care associates will return your call during regular business hours. [beeps]
[a pause, then another beep] Unless you are Jennifer Connelly, in which case you know what number to call, please stop toying with me, uh, I mean us. [beeps]
Harrison Ford: I know you're there. Who are you kidding? Pick up the phone.
Bunsen: Indy. What do you--
Ford: You know what. You still haven't seen Hollywood Homicide. And if you say neither has anyone in America, I'll end you.
Bunsen: I'd never say that. I haven't been to the movies in ages.
Ford: What about The Hulk?
Bunsen: Didn't you hear the answering machine message? She wouldn't speak to me until I saw that mess, in which she is radiant and brilliant.
Ford: This whole supernemesis thing really isn't going to work out if you aren't staying current on my work.
Bunsen: I was there for the shoot, wasn't that enough?
Bunsen: Well, are you staying current on my work?
Ford: Of course, and I'm not sure I approve of this whole Keanu thing.
Bunsen: He's just a drinking buddy. It's good that he's keeping you on your toes, though.
Ford: And what's up with not mentioning me crashing the Birthday Telephone Game Party?
Bunsen: You were drunk and sticking your finger in Boy George's face because you were convinced that he's sleeping with The Mophandle.
Ford: Don't call her that.
Bunsen: I'll make a deal with you. Lose that earring you got with your mid-life crisis helicopter, stop posing in People splayed out on the couch like an embroidered Home Sweet Home throw pillow, and I'll lay off the mophandle stuff.
Ford: If being your supernemesis is going to entail petty insults...
Bunsen: I can't exactly afford a big laser beam to slice you in half while I cackle, so the cheap shots are staying for now.
If I had a laser, maybe I'd slice your Russian accent out of K-19: The Widowmaker.
Ford: I'm going.
Bunsen: You're headed straight for the website to see if I posted that pic.
Monday, June 23, 2003
You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Bored Dept.
$62.6 million worth of American moviegoers turned out for this weekend's premiere of Ang Lee's big screen adaptation of The Hulk. Brimming over with hope from the pitch-perfect movie realization of Daredevil (in which I was so thoroughly convinced Ben Affleck was a vision-impaired attorney that I sent him a Braille application to Harvard Law School), I joined the masses in a celebration of all things swollen and green.
The Hulk, unfortunately, did little to diminish my affection for the khaki pants and fright wigs of Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno.
I know that it's bad form to review the movie that could have been instead of what's actually on the screen, but I've never been accused of being professional or fair. But as The Hulk dragged through its first third, I soon found myself mentally reediting the ponderous film into several smaller movies, each potentially more satisfying than the officially-sanctioned, blockbuster whole. There's a thirteen minute short comprised entirely of Jennifer Connelly in close up, furrowing her brow and talking about the scientific and psychological underpinnings of Bruce Banner's transformation into the monster. There's ten or so minutes of a wild-haired Nick Nolte's (crazy hair--it's not just for mug shots anymore) one-man show recreating the greatest hits of Charles Manson's biannual parole hearings. There's a five minute adult feature of Eric Bana's quivering, tortured face, showing just how silly men look at the moment of orgasm the last time they sleep with someone on the eve of a messy break-up. And, in what is perhaps the most dramatically charged of all the mini-movies, there's a face-off between Sam Elliott's five-star-general-who-spends-three-hours-a-day-on-mustache-maintenance and the aforementioned crazy-maned Nolte, wherein the leathery actors glare at one another and defiantly, throatily declare "The hell you will!" until one of them turns away, vanquished, exclaiming a defeated "Awww, hell!" No spoilers here on who's the first to blink.
Much has been made at how realistically the fifteen-foot, pneumatically-muscled green monster would be rendered by Universal's CGI artists. I can assure you the end result is impressive -- it's the most convincing, fifteen-foot, pneumatically-muscled green monster I've ever seen in a movie. The Hulk is no less believable a Hollywood creation than Michael Jackson's prosthetic nose or a Tom Cruise relationship. And the studio must have found some extra money in the effects budget, creating the most terrifying mutant poodle imaginable. You haven't known fear until your
wife's lap dog swells to five times its original size, completely ruining its expensively-manicured boutique poodle haircut and pedicure.
For all of The Hulk's shortcomings, at least I'll have the "Jennifer talks dirty science" movie in my head. It's going to be difficult not to get, ahem, swollen, every time I see a microscope or a rerun of Career Opportunities on HBO.
When Harry Met His Dark Places
Like millions of Americans, I lined up at my local bookseller Friday night to welcome the midnight arrival of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The 896-page tome is supposedly a darker look into the world of the young wizard's years at Hogwarts as Harry approaches the cusp of manhood.
Three years ago, giddy from the record-breaking sales of the series' fourth installment, JK Rowling had contacted me for suggestions on how she could achieve this more melancholy, adult tone -- after all, she'd only written four children's books before this one. She wanted to make sure that she wouldn't be pigeonholed as an edgeless kiddie writer once she concluded the series. I immediately messengered suggestions to her, but was dismayed to discover that JK decided to do things her (read: "the PG-13, Warner Brothers") way. She's really been impossible since getting within spitting distance of the Queen on England's women-with-money list.
Here are excerpts from my criminally ignored memo for a darker (and dare I say sexier) Potter:
--Hermione develops a severe cutting habit to draw Harry's attention and drown the pain of her unrequited crush on the pubescent wizard;
--Harry finally tires of his abuse and neglect at the hands of the Dursleys. his adoptive family, incinerating them with a firestarter spell when they refuse to celebrate his birthday, screaming "Don't you know who I am?"
--Professor Dumbledore sends Groundskeeper Hagrid on forced sabbatical from Hogwarts when it's discovered that he was holding "private wand lessons" in his cabin for Ron Weasley; Ron is awarded a full scholarship and a new Nimbus 3000 broom as a hush settlement;
--Professor McGonagall is faced with an ethical dilemma when she stumbled upon Harry rectally injecting performance enhancing drugs on the eve of the big Quidditch match against Slytherin house;
--Professor Snape becomes obsessed with devising a potion that to make him forget that his mother made him wear sundresses and saddle shoes until the age of 12;
--Bertie Bott introduces new "black tar heroin" and "Foxy" Every Flavor Beans;
-- Hopelessly underachieving wizard-in-training Neville Longbottom intentionally botches "Chokum Ejaculatorum," the autoerotic asphyxiation spell, after a clumsy pass at Hermione is rejected, leaving a note saying "Harry will never love you like I do." His body is discovered two weeks later by Nearly Headless Nick;
--Harry is thrown into a spiral of existential angst when he discovers that his parents were not slaughtered by evil Lord Voldemort. His mother passed slowly from early-onset Alzheimer's, becoming an unrecognizable shell of her former self. His father was stabbed in the neck while trying to break up a fight in line at the local McDonald's.
Friday, June 20, 2003
Uncharacteristic Bloggy Behavior
Congratulations to Gawker, which was apparently named Entertainment Weekly's "It Blog."
I feel horribly overlooked. But maybe this has something to do with the momentary "Biter" controversy?
If this site is indeed Gawker's soulblog, I should get a share of "It."
I recommend that everyone with access to the Internet immediately email Entertainment Weekly and tell them they got it half-right.
This is, after all, The Greatest Blog in the World.
This Friendster thing is really taking off. I still haven't figured out exactly what it's for, but here's a random sampling of the 658,345 people in my personal network and how they got there:
Harrison Ford: Bunsen supernemesis. I've gotten a little tired of the late-night voicemail messages every time the number of people in his personal network surpasses mine. I wind up logging on at 3am, asking his friendsters to be my friendsters, then call Ford to flush the toilet and hang up. Yes, our competitive sides have turned decidedly juvenile. Also, I've gotten tired of rejecting his testimonials asking why I haven't seen "Hollywood Homicide" yet.
Keanu Reeves: Suddenly my biggest fan and occasional drinking buddy. Still can't totally grasp that there are other weapons besides "Rock" in Scissors/Paper/Rock. We need some time apart after a turbulent week of zapping cocktail waitresses.
Winona Ryder: Sometimes they just never let go.
Kofi Annan: Who is this guy? I'm pretty sure I don't know any black people who aren't in movies.
Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, former Iraqi Information Minister: I really miss him. Keeps asking for introductions to Gisele and refuses to believe anything I write in this space. He's living in Corsica with Mandor, Uday Hussein's gay tiger.
Tom Arnold: Get real, would you? He's not in my Friendster network, but I did once see him eating Marshmallow Fluff straight from the jar at the Malibu Ralphs. Fuck you for thinking I'd consort with the C-list, or for even knowing who he is.
Donald Rumsfeld: Rummy didn't even send me a thank-you note for the rapid deployment and development of Total Fucking Victory, which immediately swung the momentum of the war in our favor after our troubled early campaign.
Calista Flockhart: Tiresome, constant entreaties complaining that Harrison is spending all of his time trying to outdo me on Friendster, and flipping the window to this site, constantly reloading the page until he sees his name. In all fairness, it usually doesn't take long.
The machine that's keeping Bob Hope somewhat alive: ignores my pleas to take a cigarette break and leave Bob's survival to Fate.
Ashton Kutcher: deleted from my Friendster network. I don't need the stink of Over infecting my friends list.
Thursday, June 19, 2003
Last Week's News Today
New stuff on Bob from Accounting -- the Lost Chapter of that Hillary Clinton book that's selling like the proverbial hotcakes. Go check it out. But you come back now, ya hear?
7 Days High and Dry: The Definitive Review of the New Radiohead Album
Now that's it's been a week since the release of Radiohead's latest album, Hail to the Thief, I can safely offer my review. To properly render a considered critique, I locked myself in my apartment with the new record, doing little else but give it one spin per day.
Day One: The first listen, sitting cross-legged on my sofa, eyes closed, just experiencing the music through a superior set of headphones. Initial reaction: this album is important, a watershed aural event, nothing short of a revolution in popular music. It picks up on the promise of OK Computer, delivers the goods that Kid A hinted at, and nearly makes me forget the sterling songcraft of The Bends. Amnesiac is now consigned to a fate as little more than a shiny coaster for my can of Pabst Blue Ribbon, banished to the corner of memory reserved for long-passed great aunts and advanced algebra.
I remove the headphones, knowing that I will return tomorrow to further experience the rapture a first listen merely hints at. I know that I will hardly sleep, but resist the temptation to fall asleep to Hail's beautiful lullaby. I need to come to Hail fresh in the morning, after a cup of Earl Grey.
Day Two: I am fully under Hail's spell. The second listen is full of the giddy delights of a first sexual experience, but with all of the fumbling, apologies, and awkward financial negotiations cut blissfully away. The album's myriad textures are slowly revealed. The loneliness in singer Thom Yorke's voice is a dirge like that of five thousand female Asian babies left exposed on the side of a mountain, knowing the beautiful alienation that only one utterly rejected by an ancient culture that is struggling in the depersonalization of the technological age can know.
I sob openly. The pizza delivery guy asks if there's anything he can do to help. He sits and listens to "There There," the album's ninth track with me, and embarrassed that he is also bawling, leaves me extra packets of ricotta cheese and a voucher for an order of free cinnamon sticks.
But I can't think of eating.
I go to bed hungry but not realizing it. I can only hear the haunting, electronic-but-somehow-tribal thump of "Backdrifts' " drums as I long for slumber. I forget that somewhere in my primitive brain I am vaguely annoyed that all of the tracks have parenthetical subtitles.
Day Four: Still haven't eaten. How could I when I have my fourth play of Hail awaiting me? I pop in the CD and the music rejuvenates me. This time it's voluptuous, brimming with a sexuality I hadn't grokked on the third listen. I can't quite make out what Yorke is singing in "2+2=5," but I am profoundly aroused. Hail ceases entirely to be music; it's the procreational struggle, the delicious tension that keeps singles bars overflowing with the nubile. I climax over and over, as if in the thrall of nymphomaniac Venezuelan beauty queens stranded on a tropical oasis with nothing but their carnal appetites. By the end of the tenth track, I fear that my relentless self-love is going to require surgical intervention.
But I am saved on the eleventh song, "A Punch Up at a Wedding," as I am certain John Lennon and a Pet Sounds-era Brain Wilson are briefly resurrected to hum along with a particularly winsome synth line. Then they are gone as quickly as they appeared, vanishing into the lilting ether of Yorke's fragile falsetto.
What a listen this fourth time around turns out to be. The word "important," which I'd so cavalierly thrown around on Day One, has lost all meaning. Perhaps as I try to sleep I'll conjure a better one.
Day Five: Jury duty. I'd totally forgotten. I go to the courthouse and sit around all day waiting my turn to be empanelled, then patiently explain I need to get home to listen to Hail, perhaps the greatest recording in the history of art-rock, or any other genre of music, as the ghettoization inherent in the "art-rock" label can surely not contain Hail's multitudes. An angry bailiff rolls his eyes and confiscates my CD player and a burned copy of the album.
I have to think on my feet to get back to Hail, so I earnestly tell the defense attorney that if his client is not a pure albino, I will have to deem him guilty, as only albinos are pure -- you can see their purity on the outside.
I am dismissed. The client, as it turns out, is a Latino gentleman accused of nonpayment of child support.
The fifth listen is like the fourth, only more so. My notes are incomprehensible; I can decipher only bite marks on my legal pad and, strangely, on a bottle of Lubriderm.
No food, fitful sleep.
Day Six: Something is wrong.
Backlash. I realize it instantly, but am powerless against it.
From two minutes into the first track, I am distressingly disinterested. I find myself fixated on the improperly solved titular equation of "2+2=5," and the parenthetical subtitles are driving me fucking batty. I am hyperaware of every dissonance interrupting the spaces where the hooks should be, where the songs should transition from meditations to juggernauts of harmony. Where the hell are the songs? What exactly are these Radiohead characters trying to prove without a single lyric I can sing in the shower, a melody I can whistle while mopping the kitchen floor, a drum line I can tap out on my coffee table?
I put in a copy of The Bends and cue up "Fake Plastic Trees," letting Radiohead Past and Present duke it out.
I break dishes and tug at my hair.
I divide my apartment in half with a roll of duct tape, firmly aligning myself with the new Bends fiefdom. It takes me three songs to realize that Hail has the side with the front door, the television, and the bathroom.
I don't know what I ever saw in Hail. It's overblown, pointlessly confrontational, no fun. It's a treatise, a journal presentation where a keg party should be.
I huddle up with The Bends and fall asleep with my ear pressed to its speaker.
Day Seven: I wake up to quiet. The duct tape border seems a little silly, as does the miniature Checkpoint Charlie I'd apparently set up in my sleep constructed from sofa cushions and shoe boxes. There's a cup of urine on the nightstand that I properly dispose of in the toilet, blowing past the manmade divisions that must have seemed reasonable yesterday.
I have a couple of slices of the pizza that's now unappetizingly stale, but I'm fucking starving.
I press play for the seventh spin of Hail.
You know, it's not bad. A little rock, a little electronica. Lame lyrics.
Six out of ten stars.
You know, no big whoop.
Wednesday, June 18, 2003
Reverse Kingmaking Dept.
It pains me to do so, but I must officially declare Ashton Kutcher over.
So done. Over it. Whatever, next.
It seems petty of me to use the starmaking machinery of this site to strip away the golden laurels that MTV deigned to place around his cornfed, pretty-boy brow. But it must be done. The non-stop reruns of Punk'd on the Erstwhile Music Channel were bad enough. The Rolling Stone cover, with his Kutcherian goodies on lascivious display, was more than enough, a thumb on the deli scale of incipient superstardom. He even got himself a piece of a restaurant and some sort of P. Diddy connection, harbingers of doom more ominous than a Leno monologue joke. He really just jumped out of the Biplane of Acceptable Celebrity without a parachute and is watching the Washed-Up Ground of Corey Feldman spin towards him at breakneck speed.
But this whole Demi Moore thing is really taking the Cult of Ashton about five steps too far. Tadpoling is a bad precedent to set for the pretty boys that will wash ashore in the wreckage of his It-Boy yacht party. Does he think that Josh Hartnett or Frankie Muniz (once he gets pubes) are going to want to date a rapidly-sagging Sharon Stone or Melanie Griffith once she gets tired of Antonio's philandering? It's a classic case of flavor-of-the-month hubris. Personally, I think Ashton is perfectly aware of what he's doing, setting up an epic Punk'ng of Heath Ledger and Tobey Maguire. He snatches up the surgically rebuilt, Pilates-and-hot-yoga toned Moore while he watches all the other pretty boys struggle for the old lady scraps, hoping that the Pffeifers and the Basingers trolling Hollywood hook them on their under-30-test fishing lines. AK has a good laugh, he learns how he stacks up against Bruce, and the rest of the world ridicules his imitators while decrying the double standards that have allowed naugahyde scarecrows like Garry Shandling to ever get laid.
Ashton, you're done. Your fan pages will soon be consigned to the Google cache. Please validate your valet parking slip for The Standard Downtown on your way out.
And I should make it perfectly clear that this declaration of Ashton's official over-ness has nothing to do with my failing relationship with Rue McClanahan, Golden Girl sexpot. As usual I was months ahead of the trend and did it bigger and better than everyone else.
It had nothing to do with (as has been widely reported) her meltdown during a recent performance in our sold-out run in "Love Letters" at the Kodak Theater. I just couldn't handle the animal carnality of her twice daily hot flashes, and our work was suffering.
I'm not getting any younger, you know.
Tuesday, June 17, 2003
Re: Ten Seconds Ago
Gawker Gets Into Bunsen's Head
Looks like there are just freakish similarities between Gawker and yours truly.
I relished the opportunity to whip out the little-utilized phrase "Biter" from my youth in New York, but it looks like it might not apply.
And while you're here, why not check out The Great Keanu Flap?
OK, take a quick dip into my archives for about ten seconds. Specifically, the end of the post detailing the stats from the first year of this spectacular enterprise. Don't close the new window.
Then click here to check out the first six months of accomplishments at Gawker.
That is all.
[Thanks to The Lexiphane for pointing this out.]
The Sequel's Never As Good...Reloaded
Another Monday night spent sitting in my favorite booth at the world-famous Viper Room -- you know, one of those booths where the booze arrives in buckets, free, because I am terribly important around Hollywood. Metal Shop, Los Angeles' second-most-popular 80's heavy metal tribute band, rocks away on the stage, as Niko, the drummer from the Velvet Curtain, my 80's heavy metal tribute band, claws his eyes out in rehab. This week he thinks he's a badger that can survive only on turkey jerky and 40-oz bottles of Old E.
Last week, Keanu's new band played the Viper Room. They've never had the pleasure of warming a room for The Curtain, but we're in talks to make it happen.
I'm dragging on a Rolling Rock and making eyes at a brunette I would be able to identify as Eliza Dushku if I hadn't been drinking for seventeen straight days when someone slides into the booth next to me. He's wearing a yellow trucker hat advertising an establishment called "Ted's Beaver Repair."
"Dude," he says.
I turn toward him.
"I knew I'd find you here. That's some fucked up shit you wrote about my band last week."
"I thought I acknowledged that as a band with a celebrity in it, I am required to cynically cut it down. Besides, you should see how I treat Harrison Ford, and he just flies helicopters."
A cute waitress pushes her way through the crowd to my booth and delivers a fresh bucket of beers. Rolling Rocks. I grab her arm before she can leave.
"Does this joint have a kitchen?"
"Nope," she says.
"A-fucking-ha!" says Keanu.
"Well, it used to. Downstairs, but they turned it into another bar," she says.
I let her go and smile at Keanu. He immediately holds a fist up to me.
"You wanna play 'Rock, Rock, Rock' for her?"
"It's 'Scissors, Paper, Rock,' dude."
"Whoa." He looks around the bar. No one's recognized him yet with the trucker cap pulled tight over his eyes. "Let's play anyway. She's fine."
I sigh. "Okay...once, twice, three...shoot!"
I put down the scissors. Keanu asks, "Dude, what's with the peace sign?"
Before I can answer, Keanu throws a rock. And then another. Then another.
Rock, rock, rock.
He slaps me on the shoulder and starts off toward our waitress, whom I should mention was never so cute as she was at this exact moment.
"This time, put a hot picture of me up, maybe one where I'm all damp?" he says over his shoulder. I nod. I can see that the waitress is already smiling.
Smiling at me. I'd bet her two buckets of Rolling Rocks that Keanu would sit in my booth, get all excited at the lack of a kitchen in the Viper Room, and then hit on her after playing Scissors, Paper, Rock.
She didn't believe me.
Maybe she'll do better next Monday, Keanu or no Keanu.
Monday, June 16, 2003
Sunday, June 15th was Father's Day. I was going to ruminate on the importance of the father-son bond, how generally having a positive male influence and a relatively stable family life made me into the ladykilling cad that I am today. I think that women sense that stability in me and are lulled into swooning over my favorite opening folly, "Don't I know you from somewhere? Like from my dreams from my very stable childhood, with a strong male role model, a father-figure role I will subconsciously fill for you, though in the context of a sexual relationship?" That's about all I have to say about that, other than thanks, Dad.
Saturday, June 14th was a different day entirely. On That Day in History (though, obviously, in varying years), the following notable people were born: "Uncle Tom's Cabin" author Harriet Beecher Stowe, "227" star Marla Gibbs, real estate supermogul Donald Trump, cross-dressing pop pioneer Boy George, former "Baywatch" beauty Yasmine Bleeth, and Teutonic tennis great Steffi Graf.
To celebrate this improbably fertile date for the birthing of historically important individuals, I invited all the birthday boys and girls to my Hollywood apartment for a game of "Telephone." For those of you unfamiliar with the game, I had the participants sit in a circle, then introduced a phrase to be quietly passed from one person to the next. By the time everyone's heard the message,the last person repeats the phrase out loud to the entire group. The phrase typically changes significantly from its original version. Birthday fun!
Bunsen: [whispering, introducing phrase]: "This phrase will be comically mangled by the time Yasmine says it."
Harriet Beecher Stowe: [whispering to Marla Gibbs]: This phrase will be cosmically mangled by the time Yasmine says it.
Marla Gibbs [whispering to Donald Trump]: This phrase will be cosmically strangled by the time Yasmine says it. [aloud to Harriet Beecher Stowe] I just loved "Uncle Tom's Cabin" when I was a girl!
Stowe: Thank you.
Steffi Graf: Is that just because you're black? [note: Marla Gibbs is African-American]
Gibbs: Of course not.
Donald Trump: Can I go now?
Bunsen: Yes, just go. Keep the game going.
Trump [whispering to Boy George]: This phrase will be cosmetically strangled by the time Yasmine says it, you Limey fruitcake.
Boy George: Excuse me?
Trump: Just play the game, would you?
Boy George [aloud to Yasmine Bleeth]: Donald Trump just told me that before this phrase reaches you, he will have already fucked you in the pooper in Bunsen's closet.
Yasmine Bleeth: What?!
Trump: I said no such thing!
Boy George: Also, he said you were a run-down crackwhore.
Trump: Stop it before I shove that feather boa up your ass! [to Yasmine]: Sweetie, baby, I never said that about you. You are a beautiful woman. And it's very well-documented that I am a lover of beautiful women.
Stowe: What's a crackwhore?
Gibbs: Why are you asking me? Because I'm black?
Stowe: I wasn't, I was asking everybody -- I mean, I know what a whore is, but crack --
Graf: So quick to play the race card, Marla.
Gibbs: It might not have been in the air if you hadn't shot me that Uncle Tom bit, Nazi.
Graf: Nazi? I'm married to Andre Agassi!
Bunsen: Agassi is Jewish?
Graf: Well, no, but he dated Barbra Streisand...
Bleeth [to Boy George]: What else did he say about me?
Boy George: That your ass got big since "Baywatch," but that it wasn't so hot to begin with. And he called me a Limey fruitcake.
Trump: I never said that!
[Bleeth dumps her drink underneath Trump's hairpiece and storms out of the apartment.]
Bleeth: Have fun fucking the Limey fruitcake, baldy!
Trump: This hair replacement system cost me ten grand! [to Boy George] And you're gonna pay for it!
Boy George: The hell I am, you ancient model fucker!
Trump: I've got to get this to a cleaner right away.
[Trump runs out of the apartment.]
Gibbs: I have an early audition, I have to go. [to Graf] See you later, Nazi.
[Gibbs leaves in a huff.]
Stowe: Uh, I have an audition too.
Bunsen: Come on, you've been dead for a hundred years.
Stowe: Yeah, I'm really late.
[Stowe exits, taking several books from a shelf by the door.]
Bunsen: Well, maybe now we can finish the game.
[On the couch, Graf and Boy George are making out.]
Bunsen: Hey, hey! George, you're gay!
Boy George: I wanted to see if I could taste Andre on her.
Graf: I was just doing the whole fluid German-transgressive sexuality thing.
[The door opens. It's Yasmine Bleeth.]
Bleeth: I forgot my purse.
Bunsen: Really now.
Bleeth [reaching for purse]: Yeah, it's right here.
Bunsen: Uh huh. You don't feel this thing here between us?
Bleeth: What thing?
Bunsen: You know, this aura of stability coming off me. The one that makes you feel safe around me, and yet incredibly turned on. The sexy father-figure.
Bleeth: Oh, I --
[The door opens again. It's Trump, holding the hairpiece in his hand, sheepishly covering the top of his bald pate.]
Trump: What's the hold-up?
Bleeth: Um, my dad was bald? And had a helicopter.
[Bleeth and Trump close the door behind them.]
[Graf is straddling Boy George on the couch as the continue to tongue-wrestle.]
Bunsen: [fake, exaggerated yawn] Well, I'm getting kind of tired. I think I'm gonna turn in.
[They ignore me.]
Bunsen: Oh, and the phrase was, "This phrase will be comically mangled by the time Yasmine says it."
[They ignore me.]
Bunsen: Happy Birthday
Friday, June 13, 2003
Dept. of Job
There are children starving in Africa.
Somewhere in Israel, buses are exploding and armies are retaliating and innocent people are getting blown to bits. Bereaved families are ululating.
I would trade places with any of them in a red hot minute.
My toilet is broken, my garbage disposal is not properly disposing of garbage.
What's the point of living an American life of luxury if these very conveniences afforded me by my citizenship in the world's lone hyperpower abandon me in my everyday existence? What am I supposed to do while I wait for the handyman to fix my disposal, discard half-eaten Big Macs and pasta remainders in the dry garbage?
Is it fair that I have to remove the top of my toilet tank and yank on the little plastic arm inside to flush away my human waste? I might as well have to slice myself open and squeeze my bladder to each time I feel like I need to evacuate the urine building up from a night of drinking sour apple martinis on the Sunset Strip.
Restless from my ordeal and utterly bored by the third consecutive Eddie Murphy movie on my digital HBO 5, I flipped back to a program on channels available to anyone with a television. I do this from time to time to keep up with the salt of the earth. The first commercial break featured an ad for one of those Christian charities where you can sponsor a Nicaraguan child for something like fifteen dollars a month, or two days' worth of frappuccinos. I wrote a check on the spot. The charity encourages you to write a personal note to the child. Normally you would wait until you receive your adopted child's profile to send a personalized missive, but I figured I have a knack for universal communication. The nuns could easily translate my elegant English into whatever devil tongue the adopt-an-urchins speak in Nicaragua.
In my note, I explained that Miguelito or Esperanza should use my sponsorship fee to learn a trade, like toilet or garbage disposal repair. Jobs for this sort of semiskilled labor are surely plentiful in America; I can't be the only one suffering the indignity of not being able to flush my commode with the silver handle or listening to the deafening silence of my disposal as I flip the switch that should send unseen blades whirring into what would have been leftovers if I believed in that sort of thing. Their acquisition of a trade would provide a twofold benefit: a career path for them in the Land of Opportunity and the alleviation of my suffering from being suddenly and tragically deprived of luxuries that make my extremely complicated lifestyle possible.
I sealed the envelope knowing that I had made some small corner of the world better while I silently suffered among the ruins of my American Dream.
Maybe their Dream would be better realized.
Charity really does give you a healthy dose of perspective.
But I still can't sleep because the channel guide on my cable box seems to have taken the night off, and I can't risk flipping to Nutty Professor 2. There's only so much one man can weather.
Thursday, June 12, 2003
Celebrities Smote by a Vindictive God
Veteran News Anchor David Brinkley dies at 82
Oscar Winner Gregory Peck slumbers eternal at 87
The famous are dropping like common houseflies at the end of their one-day adult lifespan.
This is a further illustration of why I avoid the limelight at all costs, choosing to manipulate the Hollywood machine largely from behind the scenes: if you fly too close to the Sun of Stardom with your Wax Wings of Fame, God will strike you down in the prime of your youth, at the height of your powers, in the midst of a hailstorm of mixed metpahor and cliché.
I give Bob Hope two more days.
Me, I'm going to live forever.
MTV is running some nonsense called "A Social History of Tattoos," in which a bunch of stupid kids talk about what their "body art" means to them. Most of them blathered on about how their little flowers or dolphins or intertwined roses reminded them about their first love or their mom dying of Hodgkin's or blah blah blah. None of them had the courage to admit that when they were sixteen (for most of them, probably a week ago) they rented Charlie's Angels and thought that they should get something like Drew got back when getting tattoos was relatively rare.
Nevertheless, this special got me to thinking about my own ink. Unlike these silly teenyboppers with their shopping mall, mass-produced tats, mine actually mean something. Here's my favorite three and how I came to have them etched on my body for all eternity, constant reminders of the Shakesperian-quality-drama-with-way-more-sex that is my life.
On my right arm, there's a reproduction of the album cover for Bon Jovi's "7800 Fahrenheit." A cherub floats delicately above the album art, unfurling a scroll proclaiming the apparent words of God: "BON JOVI SUX." I got this tattoo after getting dragged to a Bon Jovi show at the famous New Jersey venue Stone Pony by a girl named Stacey who insisted on spelling it Stacii, with a heart dotting the first "i." Captivated by her then very sexy, fashion-forward ten-inch bangs, I agreed to watch Jon and Richie rocking the Garden State stage. Afterwards, she was so busy talkig about Jon's purple scarf she wouldn't even let me feel her up. I dropped her off and immediately went to the local tattoo parlor, where the artist refused to let me get "Stacii's a fat whore," as it turns out the needleman was her second cousin. So I let my displeasure manifest over the cover of Bon Jovi's lackluster debut, and I displayed it proudly to all of my friends. Proudly, that is, until the following year's release of "Slippery When Wet," a record of unbridled genius. I know find myself constantly explaining how "7800 Fahrenheit" was the John the Baptist to the Jesus of "Slippery": stinky, unkempt, with chunks of grasshopper caught in its teeth, but nonetheless heralding the majesty that was soon to arrive. Stacii, from what I understand, remains a fat whore who never lets teenagers feel her up.
This may be getting personal, but I found a very understanding former female truck driver to etch my second tattoo: the words "Exit Only" inked onto the tip of my male member. You would think that those engaged in the medical profession would never mistake the small hole under these words for any sort of access point into the body (I consider the catheter a medically dubious instrument of torture and relic of the Inquisition), but I have a scarring experience involving a learning-disabled nurse-practitioner and the business end of a colonscopy camera that says differently. The pain from the application of the ink is utterly indescribable (think someone stepping on your balls as your parents are murdered in front of you), but roughly one-tenth of what I experienced as the nurse-practitioner insisted that this was "the right hole" and that "she was gonna make it fit, dammit." Since I got the tattoo, I've had no problems of this nature; I consider it money well spent.
I could talk about the various names of starlets that I've had inked and then inked over or transformed into the name of someone else, but that seems gratuitous. I can tell you that I've never had sexual relations with anyone named "Winonajessulia," or "Jennaferola" but I wind up explaining to the current It Girl that my parents had strange ideas about the naming of my sisters. They think it's cool that their name is going to go next to the symbolic representation of my brotherly dedication.
My latest tattoo is my favorite. It's a tic-tac-toe board on my lower back, depicting the unlikely triumph of the X's over O's. X's played by me, O's by Bunsen supernemesis Harrison Ford. My only comment is that Indy's strategic faculties are severly impaired after about ten shots of bourbon. As is my tolerance for pain. I hardly winced. I did however, hit my head on the bar as I woozily completed my victory lap. I had enough sense to have the tattoo guy ink "Bunsen:1, Harrison:0" above the board, and that's how the score will stand for eternity.
Or at least until Ford challenges me to a rematch on his home court.
Tuesday, June 10, 2003
The One and His Four Strings Dept.
So I accidentally saw Keanu Reeve's new band last night at the world-famous Viper Room (and infamous backdrop of River Phoenix's fatal overdose). (Is it possible to talk about the VR without mentioning that? They might as well have chiseled the chalk outline outside the smokers' entrance on Sunset.)
We were smuggled in through the kitchen, in a fashion similar to those dramatized in such movies as Goodfellas and Swingers, lacking only the shaky Steadicam chasing us weaving among chefs and busboys giving us a confused, yet hairy, eyeball. This is the preferred method of entry of the Hollywood in-crowd. Only an unconnected chump would go to the front door and tell the bouncer they're on the list, then stand there as he looks at his clipboard, asking how you spell your name, bending your driver's license while hunting around for your birthday and maybe saying that he knows someone from your hometown.
So in through the back door, and there I was, in front of the stage, inadvertently getting an earful of Keanu's new project. It was a feeling not dissimilar to walking into a bathroom at a crowded party and discovering that someone's getting blown in there, not two feet in front of you -- a flash of embarrassment, a few seconds of quizzical interest and open-mouthed staring, followed by a hasty retreat and some muttered apologies. Keanu, sporting a patchy beard and a painstakingly mussed garage-band hair-mop that his stylist must have spent hours on, lashed out at his bass like it a personal assistant who just dropped a conference call with Harvey Weinstein. As an actor-cum-rockstar, I am compelled by precedent to claim that his stylist "painstakingly mussed" his hair and clumsily compare his musical prowess to the abuse of a personal assistant. These are the Laws of Writing About an Actor's Just-Crappy-Enough-to-be-Onstage Rock Band.
Furthermore, I am bound to acerbically note that this band made me long for Dogstar, his previous musical effort, even though I am totally unfamiliar with their music. Or, in lieu of the musical rimshot, I can long for Little Buddha. (I will refrain from twisting quotes from his film work to disparage the band [i.e. "Whoa. I know Kung Fu" becomes "Whoa, I know...how to suck!"])
[Deleted: treatise on why rock-groupies are better than movie-groupies, and why movie stars will only enjoy the attention of movie-groupies despite being in a rock band, referencing various unlikely marriage of supermodels and actresses to rock-stars that look like white grapes mounted on a microphone stand.]
I must also speculate that Keanu took up the bass ("Dude's it's just four strings? How hard can it be?") because most four-piece rock outfits do not carry a dedicated triangle player and there is no way for an action star to look dangerous spanking his wrist with a tambourine.
After racing through seven or eight songs, Keanu's New Band left the stage. Weary from the furious mental note-taking of all of the details I would need to fulfill the obligations of Writing About an Actor's Just-Crappy-Enough-to-be-Onstage Rock Band, I flashed Keanu an overly-enthusiastic devil-horns. He acknowledged me with a simple nod, and a mouthed "Thanks, bro," as he pushed into the booth next to mine. It should be noted that Keanu and I once engaged in a heated best-of-three session of scissor/paper/rock for the rights to proposition a particularly stunning cocktail waitress at Skybar, which he won by throwing down three consecutive "rocks," (who does that? Where's the gamesmanship in that?) and so there's been a fragile, worthy-adversary vibe between us ever since.
After we settled in to watch the headlining band, Keanu sent me three bottles of Rolling Rock, delivered by the cutest waitress in the room, who placed them in front of me, saying, "Rock. Rock. Rock." I looked over to his booth and he looked away quickly, stifling a laugh.
You may have won this round, Keanu, but I am obligated to post an unflattering photograph and write that your new band sorta sucks.
Monday, June 09, 2003
It Takes a Village to Roll a Fine Cigar
Apparently our former First Lady, current Senator from the Great State of New York, and tireless champion of healthcare reform and haircuts that make a woman's face look like a moon on a bad water-retention day, has written a new book in which she talks about her time in the White House and her struggles with Bill's infidelity. If you hadn't heard, Bill received blowjobs from an intern while he was President. In addition, he would call politico buddies on the Red Phone while receiving these decidedly extramarital favors from said intern. Also, he engaged the intern in several sessions of "Hide the Cohiba" when the fellatio was starting to feel stale, perhaps to shake things up when he closed his eyes and remembered what it was like when Hillary used to do that for him, but I am not sure if cigar play is mentioned in the specific or the abstract in the book.
My sources inform me that there is no mention of the following, any of which might justify the $8 million that Ms. Clinton was paid: Crisco Twister games with Vince Foster; a weekly burlesque review starring George Stephanopolous in a sequined dog collar and French maid outfit; drunken doomsday scenario simulations in which Pentagon mainframes calculate the consequences of launching a small scale nuclear attack on a Fairfax, VA Hooters where Bill once propositioned a waitress named Sunny under pretense of ordering a plate of extra-hot chicken wings; using children lured to White House grounds for annual Easter Egg Hunt to reenact disastrous military incursion into Somalia; Bill's proffering of Lincoln Bedroom invitations to Pope for charity banquet campaigning for High Hefner's canonization as "Patron Saint of Tig 'Ol Bitties."
Instead, we get:
--intern blowjobs are upsetting to a wife, putting a strain on a marriage
--husband lied about intern blowjobs
My sources further say that Hillary Clinton writes that she sometimes had a hard time getting along with her mother-in-law.
Surely she hired the wrong ghostwriter.
I'm confident Bill won't make the same mistake. Any day now I expect that there will be a knock at the door, where my very own intern carrying a box of Cubans and a smile will arrive courtesy of my Presidential subject, because the first rule of my job is write what you know.
Thursday, June 05, 2003
Current Events Watch, Wherein I Tap the News Lightly on the Shoulder and Run Away
It looks as if the storied New York Times has been shaken to its very foundation, as Howell Raines and Gerald Boyd, two white men holding two of the highest positions of authority at the paper, resigned over the ongoing controversies touched off by the Jayson Blair incident.
OK, Boyd is black, but we didn't see color at the Times. My confusion is understandable.
When I was a summer intern there some years ago, the Times' colorblindness had so mucked up their liberal affirmative-action policy that I was hired to fulfill the "tan guy from the New York suburbs" quota, and allowed to fabricate obituaries to keep the death notice rates up. I quickly became untouchable; I was never reprimanded for factual inaccuracies. I often claimed datelines of "Funkytown" and "Jupiter," providing only "prove I wasn't there" as a justification, which was always accepted so that we could get back to the very important business of swigging from bottles of Jameson's at our desks.
As Raines (white) and Boyd (black) often stated, neither myself (white) nor Blair (black) were ever afforded special treatment because of our respective skin colors. Indeed, often we were made to engage in rounds of Indian (there were no Indians in the newsroom at the time) leg-wrestling in the bullpen. Raines (white) always bet on Blair (black), and Boyd (black) always bet on me (white). It was as equitable as a California divorce settlement.
Blair (black) and I (white) bonded over our golden-boy status. He regularly cut his coke on the vanity mirror I'd kept on my desk. I'd stop by his desk and talk about the Knicks, or about which secretaries in the typing pool (they still had a typing pool reserved exclusively for golden-boy use) we were zapping.
Raines often tried to badger us into joining him on his human-quarry hunting excursions to Bali, always offering Blair (black) the compound bow and me (white) the blowgun. I declined, but Blair (black) threw himself into the occasion with gusto. Raines (white) even mounted a young Polynesian (brownish) man's head above his desk, next to a picture of Blair (black), veins in his (black) forearm straining against the tension of the bow string.
Gerald Boyd (black), meanwhile, once threatened my job if I didn't sub as baritone in his barbershop quartet, The Sulzberger Surprises. Knowing that I'm at my best in the alto range, I declined, and never saw another byline in the Times. But it certainly had nothing to do with my (white) skin color, just my lack of bass pipes. I knew that my stint at the Times was over when Raines (white) left a Post-It on my desk, requesting that my "cracker, honkified ass" see him in his office, where he was waiting with a cardboard box full of my belongings, including the World's Greatest Boss plastic Oscar that I'd given to Boyd (black).
Blair (black), however, continued to rack up stories and human kills outside of the jurisdiction of the U.S. And we know where that got the paper.
Word on the down-low from the journalism grapevine has my friend Howell (white) snagging a supervisory editor gig at The Source and buddy Gerald (black) landing on his feet at Sparkly Caucasian Teen, the title of which he is changing to Sparkly Teen in his first act as editor.
And as for me (white), well, you get to read me here on an almost daily basis.
God bless The New York Times, on your behalf.
Wednesday, June 04, 2003
It's a Living Dept.
Today we dip into the mail bag.
I haven't heard from you in so long. It's like you just disappeared. Didn't you get the basket of ceramic angels, fancy crackers, and delightful, framed Anne Geddes photos of babies in baskets I sent you? You could have at least sent me a homemade thank-you card to let me know that my henpecked assistant, Miles, delivered it to you promptly.
I hope that blindfolding you and covering you in lingonberry tapenade before licking you clean didn't scare you away. It may have seemed forward following the interview for the profile you were writing for Desultory She-Entrepreneur, but as I recall, you seemed to enjoy it. And I'd spent all day grinding the capers. olives, and Sardinian anchovies in a mortar I'd picked up in an antique kitchenware shop in San Marino, not to mention laying the rice paper over my four-poster feather bed so that we wouldn't get any of the spread on my Malaysian goat-wool, 650-thread count sheets. Yes, you're worth a little mess, but try explaining that to me in the throes of an OCD attack when I'm trying to get protein stains out with a Barbie toothbrush.
If you haven't been following the news lately, I seem to have run afoul of the SEC. By the time you read this, I might already be indicted on totally unfounded charges of insider trading. I know that you don't believe in the stock market and instead prefer to invest your money bankrolling Russian robber barons, but some of us made a lot of money on Wall Street. Why can't the federal government just accept that high-powered friends sometimes talk business over a hot pan of coconut macaroons? And when I buy my stocks, I can't possibly remember which ones I discussed with a good friend who happens to be the ImClone CEO? Don't they have better things to do, like roust my three-hundred Mexican groundskeepers?
I don't expect anything to come of all this even after it's tied up in litigation for years, but if it does, and I wind up in some minimum-security resort with a liberal conjugal visit policy, I do hope you'll visit. Find enclosed the recipe for the lingonberry tapenade and a pastry brush, which should not be hard to smuggle in to wherever I'm staying. I'll still be a relatively young woman and I hear that confinement does magical things to one's libido. Who knows, all of this could be "a good thing."
Monday, June 02, 2003
In the wake of the FCC's relaxation of media ownership rules today, I sat down with FCC chairman (and son of Secretary of State Colin Powell) Michael Powell in his Washington, DC office for a chat.
Michael Powell: So.
Bunsen: I don't want to sound cynical here...
Powell: No, go ahead.
Bunsen: It might seem that by all this deregulation of media ownership standards, that you are trying to get in good with huge media conglomerated like Viacom and Vivendi and --
Powell: Aren't you the guy who fights with Harrison Ford and writes about zapping starlets and mimes and stuff?
Bunsen: Yes, but I'm about more than that.
Powell: You're trying to get into Janeane Garofalo's pants.
Bunsen: Are you trying to get into Steve Case's pants?
Powell: Of course not. This has nothing to do with pleasing corporations.
[The door to Powell's office bursts open. Rupert Murdoch storms in, wearing a pointy party hat, carrying a champagne flute and one of those noisemakers that clicks loudly when spun around. He walks over to Powell's desk, gives him a high-five, and leaves as quickly as he came.]
Bunsen: What was that about?
Powell: It's his daughter's birthday, I think. It's OK, he's a US citizen now.
Bunsen: Oh. Listen...
Powell: I'm all ears.
Bunsen: When you deregulated radio, it turned into utter, cookie-cutter, corporate-run crap. What's going to stop the same thing from happening with TV or newspapers or the Internet?
Powell: The radio is crap? What radio are you listening to?
[He turns on a stereo behind him. A song that I identify as Avril Lavigne blares out. Powell takes a small pill out of his pocket and swallows it.]
Bunsen: Is that ecstasy?
Powell: [washing it down with a glass of water, placing a finger across his lips] Shhhh. [He starts swaying to the music] Isn't this song great?
Bunsen: What if TV winds up like the radio?
Powell: TV pretty much sucks anyway.
Powell: Why should you have to flip around to find crap? Soon you can just turn on the TV and see a Will and Grace rerun any time of the day or night. Or Bill O'Reilly. Depending on if you're watching NBC 345 or Rupert NewsUltra.
Bunsen: My head hurts.
[Powell turns the music up even louder.]
Powell: [singing] Why's everything got to be so complicated?
[He dances over to me, chugging a bottle of water, swaying to the music.]
Powell: Don't worry, you'll be taken care of. [pauses] Can I have a hug? This is song is so totally great and I just need a hug.
Bunsen: OK, but only if I can have the vodka from that gift basket from Sumner Redstone.
Powell: You got yourself a deal, mister.