June 15, 2002


MOBSTERS LOVEKEEPIN' IT REAL: Steve Dunleavy, the New York Post's crotchety old drunk of a metro columnist, usually specializes in defending the indefensible (the Louima and Diallo cops, convicted Sotheby's swindler Alfred Taubman, Michael Skakel, etc.), and today's deitification of the late John Gotti is no exception. Dunleavy calls Gotti a "man of honor," one who "rose up from nothing" to be successful in business. Basically, Dunleavy is saying that it doesn't matter that Gotti killed, robbed, and maimed scores of people throughout his life, because in doing so he was, in hip-hop parlance, "keepin' it real." It's fascinating, and appalling, to see Dunleavy defending Gotti the same way black people often defend icons with criminal records such as Huey Newton and Tupac Shakur, especially since Dunleavy on a daily basis refers to criminals of color as "animals" and "monsters" and speaks constantly of the need to get "tough on crime." But since Gotti was a "gentleman," and wore thousand-dollar suits, it's all good.
Dunleavy also makes the ridiculous assertion that Gotti is somehow honorable because he never bilked investors out of money like the Enron executives did, which is kind of like giving Osama Bin Laden a medal just because he didn't kill as many people as Hitler.

BUT WILL THEY COVER THE BRANDEIS FOOTBALL TEAM?: Pat Buchanan has apparently become the first man ever to join forces in the same week with both Taki Theodorocoupolos and Bill Press. On the heels of yesterday's announcement that Pat and Taki are starting a new magazine, the astonishing news was reported today that Buchanan has agreed to join MSNBC as co-host of a new daytime talk show, along with fellow ex-"Crossfire" host Press. With this announcement MSNBC now has two major on-air personalities (Buchanan and Alan Keyes) who are to the right of any employee of "conservative" Fox News Channel. I'm not sure who I have more contempt for, Buchanan or Press, yet Pat has always been engaging on television and the show might be worthwhile to watch, as will the new crazy-left show on the network to be hosted by Phil Donahue (balancing out the crazy-right Keyes). MSNBC has also signed another one-right-one-left-both-insane duo, Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa and terrorist-defending lawyer Ron Kuby to do a simulcast of their highly entertaining NYC radio show, so perhaps now there'll be a reason to watch MSNBC other than Chris Matthews' show and Ashleigh Banfield's eyes.

TENACIOUS C: Speaking of new cable news shows, I saw a poster on the subway tonight for Connie Chung's new CNN show that almost made me laugh out loud: "Something Different in Prime Time: Tenacity." What? Has any TV news personality ever shown LESS tenacity than Connie Chung?

KERPLUNK!: Tomorrow's the big day: Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens will finally step into the batter's box in Shea Stadium against the Mets. Clemens, of course, hit Mets catcher Mike Piazza in the head during an August 2000 game, and then infamously threw a part of a broken bat at Piazza during Game 2 of the 2000 World Series. Since then Clemens has carefully dodged having to pitch (and bat) in interleague games in the Mets' park, but this time he will do so, and now there's all sorts of pressure on Mets starter Shawn Estes to hit Clemens when he comes to bat. There are a million sides to this: Clemens, in a game last week, hit Barry Bonds, which caused some to accuse him of attempting to draw a suspension in order to miss the Mets game. There are questions about whether Estes should be suspended if he hits Clemens, or whether Clemens should fight back if he's hit. Some say the Mets should bring in some scrub pitcher to pitch the first couple innings, hit Clemens, get ejected, and then be replaced by Estes. Or maybe Piazza himself should do the honors. The Mets fans will of course be out for blood, and for one afternoon Shea will turn into the Flesh Fair scene from "A.I." And if Clemens doesn't get hit, there'll likely be a riot.
I won't weigh in on the moral implications of the situation, except to share one thing: the other night ESPN flashed a fascinating statistic, which listed the five active starting pitchers with the most career hit batsmen. Clemens is #1, followed by Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, and Curt Schilling. In other words, the five best pitchers of the past five years. That would seem to indicate a few things: in order to be a dominant pitcher, one must know how to intimidate opposing batters. In order to intimidate batters, a pitcher must throw inside. And if he throws inside, he's going to hit some batters, which is why those five pitchers are at the top of the hit-batsmen list and, say, Nelson Figueroa is not. I have no idea whether or not Clemens' two previous assaults on Piazza were pre-meditated, but there's no doubt that psyching batters out by pitching inside is part of Clemens' makeup, as well as part of the reason he has dominated for as long as he has.
I could also make a joke about how tomorrow's events will culminate in the release of two years of repressed tension between Mike Piazza and another man, but this blog is way, way too highbrow for that.

AUSTIN TAPS OUT: Huge news from the world of "sports entertainment": "Stone Cold" Steve Austin has walked out of World Wrestling Entertainment, and according to announcer/exec Jim Ross, he won't be back. Austin, for the unitiated, came into the then-WWF in the mid-'90s and quickly became the most compelling character in its history, a beer-drinkin', hellraisin' son of a bitch who lived out the fantasy of every working-stiff WWF fan: he got to beat up his boss (Vince McMahon) on live TV, week after week. Austin has stayed near the top ever since, overcoming both a neck injury that kept him out of action for nearly a year and the emergence of The Rock, who became an even bigger media figure than Austin. With Austin gone and The Rock seemingly more committed to Hollywood than the ring, it's not looking too good for the WWE right now. Of course, only one man can save them now, and his name is Goldberg.

EM-TY ANALYSIS: I already shared a feeble-minded right-wing critique of Eminem's "The Eminem Show"; now here's an equally nonsensical rant by Richard Goldstein in the Village Voice. Goldstein, who always seems to think that an anti-gay Holocaust is right around the corner, compares Eminem to Wagner, likens the album to pornography, and comes up with the inane theory that the rapper's popularity somehow portends that society isn't "ready to let go of male supremacy." Please. In all, Goldstein demonstrates again and again that he has no understanding whatsoever of Em's music: he can't see it as fiction or as art, because Eminem must really hate gays and want to kill them, or else Goldstein doesn't get to be nearly as outraged. This analysis makes Goldstein no better than the right-wing idiots who are always railing against "explicit lyrics": since he doesn't understand the context, he forfeits any credibility in analyzing its meaning. I quote Dylan again: "Don't criticize what you can't understand."

EMBARASSING JESSE VENTURA QUOTE OF THE DAY: Recently unearthed thanks to a wrestling newsgroup: In the mid-'80s, when Ventura was announcing telecasts for the WWF alongside Vince McMahon, they did a storyline in which case Mr. T (yes, Mr. T) was whipped with a belt by bad-guy wrestlers Rowdy Roddy Piper and Cowboy Bob Orton. To which Ventura said "It tooks like 'Roots 2,' McMahon!" Ouch... that's even worse than "St. Paul was designed by drunken Irishmen" and "you haven't hunted until you've hunted man."

FINALLY...: The best music/video/electronics chain in the country, Best Buy, has opened its first store in Manhattan, and right down the street from my office (on 23rd St.) no less. Best selection, best prices... with the exception of $5 street bootlegs, the row of used music stores on St. Mark's Place, and free downloads, Best Buy is the best place in New York to get new music!

Posted by Stephen Silver at June 15, 2002 03:05 AM
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