Like most Democrats, I love John McCain, and have spent a lot of time over the last four years wishing he was president (not so much Al Gore though). He gave a very good speech last night, with lots of great stuff about the War on Terror, and the gratuitous shot at Fat Fat Fatty was merely gravy. My favorite part:
"Our enemies have made clear the danger they pose to our security and to the very essence of our culture - liberty.As for Rudy? I love the guy, and meeting him the other night was a thrill, but I’ve gotta say the speech was a disappointment. It had its flourishes, but it was way too long, and all over the map in terms of both theme and tone. Christopher Caldwell had the best take, in the Weekly Standard:
Only the most deluded of us could doubt the necessity of this war. Like all wars, this one will have its ups and downs.
But we must fight.
The sacrifices borne in our defense are not shared equally by all Americans.
But all Americans must share a resolve to see this war through to a just end."
“A magnificent 18-minute kernel of post--September 11 reminiscences, humor, anti-Kerry invective, and skillful courtship of the Jewish vote (by linking decades of terrorism against Israel to contemporary terrorism against America) was bloated into a 45-minute shaggy-dog story by Giuliani's own extemporizing. Some editor failed to stand up to him.”One other thing: the story Rudy told about, on 9/11, telling Bernard Kerik “thank God George Bush is president"? It just rang false for some reason, as I have trouble believing Rudy would take his time out from being a hero to say something like that. I myself was thinking about a lot of things that day, and presidential politics certainly wasn’t one of them- in fact, the implications of what Bush would do probably didn’t even enter my head in the first seven or eight hours after it all went down.
As of 4:00 this afternoon, the 2004 Republican platform- which was completed last Thursday and ratified yesterday- had not yet been posted to the RNC’s website, which still has the 2000 version. It was, however, posted- in its 92-page entirety (PDF link)- on the New York Times website this morning. So I don’t want to hear any of this “liberal bias” shit ever again, got it?
Another funny RNC.org factoid: On its front page, Bush’s name appears two times; Kerry’s name appears 20 times.
Not that I’m giving the NYT a pass today- they ran two very questionable op-eds: One by radio personality Katherine Lanpher, who was apparently considerably less emotionally mature about her Minnesota-to-Manhattan move in her 40s than I was when I did the same thing at 22; and another by Rigoberta Menchu, the former Nobel Peace Prize winner who I THOUGHT had been exposed as a total fraud years ago.
My old college paper, The Justice, makes its ’04-’05 debut today.
Also, anyone know of any current Brandeis students with blogs? All the ones I know graduated last year.
Blogger/ho Jessica Cutler just refuses to go away; now she’s appearing in Playboy. I always knew she was a moral and intellectual cretin, but until now I never realized until now just how uncute she was- she looks like an anorexic version of Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Oh- and she’s a Republican. That sort of pokes a hole in that “Jessica as feminist heroine” idea from that ridiculous Washington Post piece the other week.
A few of you have asked me why Ms. Cutler never seems to show up for Manhattan blog parties. First of all, it’s not really her crowd; seems she prefers the jetset/cokeslut scene. And besides, since she only blogged for a couple of weeks and was never particularly good at it, we don’t really consider her a part of the blog community.
"We are again engaged in a war that will define the future of humankind. Responding to attacks on our soil, America has led a coalition of countries against extremists who want to destroy our way of life and our values.Us Silvers think alike: Ron, like me, is a liberal, who wholeheartedly supports the war on Islamist terror not in spite of his liberalism, but rather because of it. Still though, if he’d busted out “His father is the district attorney!” mid-speech, it would’ve been the political moment of the year.
This is a war we did not seek.
This is a war waged against us.
This is a war to which we had to respond.
History shows that we are not imperialists . . . but we are fighters for freedom and democracy."
(For more, check out the web’s most comprehensive Ron Silver fansite.)
I was at work for most of the day, so anything major that happened on the streets I likely missed. But here’s what I did see:
People were chanting something incomprehensible on Seventh Ave. at around 6:30, I went up to a guy on the corner asking what the chant was, and he had no idea. Others, channeling Ludacris, chanted “Move Bush, Get Out The Way, Get Out The Way Bush, Get Out The Way.” Call it a sample, I guess.
MSNBC’s “Hardball,” as I may have mentioned, is broadcasting live from Herald Square, about two and a half blocks from my office, so I was able to watch it in person for about a half hour after work. Chris Matthews was there with panelists Christine Todd Whitman, Laura Ingraham, Howard Fineman, and Pat Buchanan, and I was also on hand for a Matthews interview with Elizabeth Dole. (I may have even been visible on TV; let me know if you saw me). Then, a few blocks away, I passed David Gergen on the street.
A few “Hardball” notes: Most of the crowd for the show was staunchly anti-Bush and booed every mention of his name. Ingraham is much, much better-looking in person than on TV; Whitman, alas, is not. And considering that Buchanan is the guy who almost single-handedly made me hate Republicans when I was 14, it was strange to see him in the flesh for the first time, during a Republican convention no less. Pat was on “Da Ali G Show” a few weeks ago; makes me wonder if the “Throw the Jew Down the Well” thing was his idea.
Meanwhile, this blog’s patron saint, Ron Silver,spoke tonight at the convention, even though he’s a social liberal, has been a Democrat for most of his life, and once played Alan Dershowitz in a movie. On the subject, Scott Galupo had this to say in the Washington Times:
The Republican entertainment lineup is even thinner in actors. The prize catch so far is Ron Silver, who may not even be the most popular middle-aged Jewish character actor named Ron. (He's neck and neck with Ron Leibman.)Galupo’s analysis, while astute, omits any consideration of Ron Rifkin, Ron Perlman, Ron Eldard, or Ron Jeremy.
“No wonder Zell Miller is now the keynoter for the Republicans. Here's a man who once proudly condemned LBJ for backing civil rights for African-Americans, while Bush's Republican grandfather stood up for decency. History has come full circle, hasn't it?”
This blog’s newest award, named after everyone’s favorite lunatic Republican spokesmodel, is for partisan political hacks who go on talk shows and spread unsubstantiated, slanderous rumors about their foes. Today’s nominee is House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who said the following on yesterday’s installment of Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace:
HASTERT: You know, I don't know where George Soros gets his money. I don't know where - if it comes overseas or from drug groups or where it comes from. And I ...If Hastert had a blog, I’m guessing this morning he’d be posting that “I never said Soros gets his money from drug cartels- and that caveman Chris Wallace knows it!”
WALLACE: Excuse me?
HASTERT: Well, that's what he's been for a number years - George Soros has been for legalizing drugs in this country. So, I mean, he's got a lot of ancillary interests out there.
WALLACE: You think he may be getting money from the drug cartel?
HASTERT: I'm saying I don't know where groups - could be people who support this type of thing. I'm saying we don't know. The fact is we don't know where this money comes from.
(Via Dan Kennedy)
Last week I finished Thomas Frank’s book “What’s the Matter With Kansas,” and while it was a fascinating examination of several too-neglected subjects- including what makes conservatives conservative and the “backlash” against the “liberal elite”- there were a few instances where it lost me, and I’m probably not the only one.
Frank, a native of a Kansas City suburb, discusses what made the Prairie State go red, and makes several astute observations about how conservatives have successfully wooed much of America by pointing to boogie men in the “liberal elite,” while the “conservative elite”- aka Wall Street and corporate America- gets a free pass despite doing much more damage to their interests. He also shares numerous funny anecdotes about Kansas politics over the years, most of which consist of crazy Christian conservatives running amok.
‘What’s The Matter’ is refreshing in that it’s not just another Bush-bashing book- Dubya is barely mentioned- but it’s nonetheless a bit too left-wing in places for my tastes. I’ll be nodding along with one of the chapters, that is until Frank tosses in a phrase such as “the borderline criminality of capitalism itself.” Not to mention Frank’s audacity in writing a book about how people in Kansas should vote when he hasn’t lived there in years, which seems to give truth to the conservative stereotype that blue-staters are always telling red-staters how to live. I would probably never write such a book about Minnesota’s political trends, but if I did it would be a lot nicer to my state than Frank’s is to his.
So “What’s the Matter With Kansas” is an interesting look at how political attitudes have shifted in recent decades- but if you’re a moderate, don’t expect to relate to all of it.
In news that would’ve made my year about five years ago but now I don’t really care that much about, Kevin Smith has announced a sequel to “Clerks.”
The no-budget 1994 comedy was a seminal film of my college years and one of the great underdog stories of ‘90s independent film, but with the exception of “Chasing Amy” every one of Smith’s films since has been worse than the last, and I didn’t even bother seeing “Jersey Girl" in the theater.
Even worse than that, the appeal of the original film was its lo-fi, black-and-white aesthetic; to give the sequel a more traditional look would be to detract from that almost irretrievably. Oh well, at least the title (“The Passion of the Clerks”) is clever.
I don’t have a whole lot to say about this Israeli spy scandal, except that we don’t know anything yet, and it’ll probably be awhile before we do. But one thing I have noticed in commentary on it, especially with the story breaking right before the convention, is one phrase: “the timing is suspicious.”
If you read blogs and/or listen a lot to political hacks of any stripe, this is a phrase you’re probably used to hearing. It accompanies every terror alert, every “gotcha” revelation about anyone's past, and just about every bit of news that comes out for any reason ever, especially in connection with the presidential campaign.
But here’s the problem: the timing with everything is always suspicious. With today’s 24-hour news cycle, so much information is being hurtled at us at all times that whenever other, more major information emerges, it can only make it look as though it’s connected to other events, even when it’s not. The worst instance of all was when Saddam Hussein was captured last December, and conspiracy theorists accused Bush of timing the capture for political advantage- as though mid-December were prime political season for an incumbent president unopposed in his primary.
Like for instance: If Osama Bin Laden were to be captured tomorrow, every opponent of President Bush would scream that “the timing is suspicious,” because we’re in the middle of the Republican convention. Had he been captured two weeks ago, it would’ve been “timed suspiciously” to build up momentum heading into the convention; were it to happen in two weeks, it would be to distract from the debates, etc. In fact, a theoretical Bin Laden capture at, really, anytime in the last three years could’ve been spun as a nefarious Bush plot- but since he hasn’t been captured, that’s been spun against Bush too.
But what if it happened in Kerry’s first week as president? Wouldn’t the timing be suspicious?
Behold the triumphant return of Tim Russert's Magic Slate. All set to gain even more notoriety, especially if there's another election deadlock.
On Saturday night I was able to attend the RNC “Media Welcome” party at Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle, and was able to rub elbows with numerous media and political luminaries while enjoying the finest food and drink from all over New York- good times. My first ten minutes in the door I ran into Larry King, Gov. Pataki, and finally Rudy Giuliani, whose hand I got to shake in one of the highlights of my year.
Later I saw Mayor Bloomberg, Don King (!), Wolf Blitzer (who was next to me at one of the food tables), and numerous other CNN personnel; as usual at these things the room was probably half PR people, but there were also literally dozens of people who I recognized as correspondents/talking heads, but whose names I couldn’t place.
When my sister was in town a few months ago she was in that very building and ran into Michael Moore; alas, Fat Fat Fatty was not on hand for the RNC event. But there was a THRONG wanting to interview Don King everywhere he went. Only in America.
Today’s “major protest” against President Bush, from what I saw of it, was much more Boston ’04 than Chicago ’68, with anarchists largely taking a backseat role and arrests few and far between. Spending the afternoon on the Central Park lawn, however, didn’t keep me from seeing more than my usual share of idiocy.
Longtime readers of this blog are perfectly aware by now that I’m not generally a fan of protesters, especially of the left-wing variety. During my time at Brandeis University I heard, at least once a day, the tiresome meme that “our generation is so apathetic/why can’t we be more like the ’60s?” Generational guilt and ‘60s fantasies drew many of my classmates out in support of several of the forgotten causes of the time- from Free Tibet to Free Mumia- yet self-righteousness forever remained Cause #1.
I took a walk this morning through Central Park and ended up at the Great Lawn, seeking to observe the day’s events. Activists had been fighting Mayor Bloomberg for months over whether they could hold a rally there and were denied a permit, although once protesters began showing up after the morning’s march cops seemingly took a laissez-faire attitude: there wasn’t a particularly large police presence, I saw no arrests, and if anyone was forcibly prevented from entering the park, I didn’t see it.
I should make clear that while the vast majority of the people I saw there were simply anti-Bush- and the amount of Kerry buttons I saw throughout the day could probably be counted on two hands- the place contained a smattering of out-and-out lunatics, from avowed Communists to anarchists to people in Maoist garb. The first people to show up, believe it or not, were a Libertarian group that included their party’s candidate for president, and the group tried leading the crowd in chants throughout the day, some (“Don’t Take Our Guns!”) less popular among crowd than others (“Bloomberg Sucks!”)
In the course of the afternoon I saw the following:
- A girl in a “Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade” t-shirt expressing relief that not very many “extremists” had shown up to the earlier march.
- A 60-ish guy in full American-flag paraphernalia who started arguments with everyone about Iraq; some heckled him, while others simply laughed, or made fun of his pants.
- A pair of older gentlemen yelling at each other about Israel and the Palestinians; when the pro-Israel guy shouted “never again! No more Holocausts!,” his opponent expressed solidarity in that his personal hero, Leon Trotsky, had been murdered by the Nazis. (He was actually killed by Stalin, but never mind; it’s never a true lefty protest unless old men are arguing about Trotsky).
- Numerous Nader-or-Kerry, Nader-or-Libertarian, and Nader-or-revolution fights.
- A girl, assigned to yell out of a makeshift megaphone for some socialist group I’d never heard of, called for a “Second Civil War” to free African-Americans from continuous slavery (their table was manned by about seven people, all white). In way over her head, she also called for “hands off China and Cuba,” and actually spoke the phrase “defend North Korea’s right to nuclear weapons.” No, I’m not kidding.
I don’t particularly like Bush and will not be voting for him this November, but this sort of “activism”- even the more tolerant, non-socialist kind- just rubs me the wrong way for some reason. Maybe it’s the self-righteousness, maybe it’s my complete lack of a counterculture sensibility, or maybe it’s that the primary issues that these people were hammering Bush on- the War on Terror and liberation of Iraq- are the two things I actually agree with him on. Anyway, much more on all this as the week goes on.
Over the weekend I accidentally deleted the past six weeks of comments for this blog; that’s what I get for trying to work my MT-Blacklist on an unfamiliar computer without my glasses on. Anyone know how to get those back? Because you know I want all 28 of those Matthews/Malkin bitchslaps on here for posterity.
Get ready for “The Tinkerbell Hilton Diaries,” which purports to be the “unauthorized autobiography” of Paris Hilton’s ubiquitous dog. It’s credited to “D. Resin,” who is none other than the proprietor of the very funny blog Dong Resin’s Joint, which I've read for a couple of years now. In fact, with the book Dong Resin becomes (I believe) the first blogger in history to parlay a single blog entry into a book deal.
So go buy the book- hopefully it’ll out-sell Paris’ own autobiography by a substantial margin.
Last night was another of those crazy NYC blogger confabs you've heard so much about, this time held at a West side hotspot called Fashion 40. Karol- who had been written up in the Wall Street Journal that very morning- was our host, and I was thrilled to meet both her and her sidekick/foil, Dawn, for the first time. Also nice to meet after reading them forever were Esther and Jessica, the latter of whom was with me at Brandeis for three years (although we'd never met). The occasion of the event? Welcoming a few RNC delegates, as well as a pair of very lovely visiting ladies: Candace, and Funnya. Lots of other faces, old and new.
Anyway, in her wrap-up of the evening Karol had this to say:
We got to the party a little after 9 and right away we ran into Steve Silver. Like the time when I met Joe Grossberg in DC, I was surprised that Steve was much better looking than the photo on his blog. Get a new pic, Steve, you're way cuter than you let on. :-)Aw, how nice. I have been meaning to do something about the picture- any of you photography-buff types out there feel like helping me out in that respect? (Miss Klein, I'm looking chiefly in your direction).
Meanwhile, with the RNC shitstorm about to begin, I'm heading out of town for about 24 hours, before returning to attend the Pataki/Bloomberg "Media Welcome" party Saturday night; I wasn't about to walk out of Penn Station during Sunday's "march." The convention-goers are starting to arrive, the news crews are everywhere, and "Hardball" has set up camp at 35th and Broadway, two blocks from my office. It should be some week.
Edvard Munch's "Scream" is stolen from a museum in Norway, making headlines worldwide- and an eyewitness, standing three feet away, is my friend Christina- visiting from New Jersey!
In a week of immense pride for the Jewish people, especially in the sports arena, I am thrilled to discover that this blog is the #1 Google search result for “Big Jew Koufax.”
Meanwhile, Gal Fridman has dedicated his Olympic gold medal to the 11 Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian terrorists during the 1972 games. This year Israel won two medals; in the half-century previous, they had won only four.
So suck on that, Iran!
“The most unsettling episode of the season, ‘Miss Adorable,’ features Punky trying to make Henry proud by winning a beauty pageant. An unnervingly creepy man hosts the pageant and sings ‘Thank Heaven For Little Girls’ in a sequin-covered dinner jacket and nut-hugger jeans while the contestants showcase their talents in a montage of leotards, tap-dancing, and baton-twirling. Punky’s favorite adjective could best describe this episode: ‘Miss Adorable’ is totally gross-a-roo. Unless, of course, you’re a pedophile.”- Laura Hibit, reviewing the “Punky Brewster” first-season DVD collection in New York Press.
News is apparently a bit slow in Danville, Kentucky, this week, because that town’s Advocate Messenger newspaper decided to profile a local actress who keeps several pet rats, and sometimes even carries them on her soldiers.
Yes, that’s all strange enough. But then read the rats’ names, and learn why this story is of pertinent interest to this blog:
The rats she has now not only distinguish themselves with tricks, such as jumping through an embroidery hoop, but they have fancy names. Whingybum Fisticuffs the Amazingly Incontinent has a hooded pattern on its skin. Merkin McGillicuddy is black and Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme is champagne colored.It’s bad enough that she named one of her rats after the Manson Family member who tried to assassinate Gerald Ford. But Merkin McGillicuddy?
The reporter’s explanation is even better:
Arleth explains that Whingybum means whiny butt in British. Merkin is a specific type of wig.Oh, it’s specific all right. Now I know why Ben Affleck once said “I try not to date actresses, because they’re all insane.”
If I were a reporter for that paper and got assigned a story like this, I might just have to start firebombing. Even if the story does have a merkin component. That alone, I'd say, edges it ahead of the one about my high school classmate who got profiled by NPR when he built a compost- with worms- in his LA apartment.
Even in it’s 25th-anniversary-of-ESPN feature on Chris Berman, Sports Illustrated couldn’t resist getting some digs in at the Deposed Worldwide Leader:
Berman says he'll know it's time to leave for the land he already owns on Maui when his references to the Rolling Stones fall dumbly on hip-hop ears. Already there are signs that ESPN is getting away from him a bit. He claims not to have seen an NBA game in 10 years, and at this year's major league All-Star Game, when SportsCenter led with the trade of Shaquille O'Neal to the Miami Heat instead of baseball, an open microphone caught Berman telling broadcast partner Harold Reynolds, "Now you know why I don't watch our show anymore."When SI commemorates ESPN’s 35th anniversary in 2014, will the signature profile be of Stephen A. Smith?
Meanwhile, because there wasn't enough poker on the network before, ESPN will soon begin broadcasting fictional poker- as the basis of a new dramatic series, “Tilt.” Can’t possibly be as horrible as “Playmakers,” but I still don’t have high hopes.
Then there’s the rumors that the Fox Sports will attempt to lure PTI’s Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon away from ESPN. Not sure how I feel about that, but considering that the item below that in the Detroit Free Press talks about how an ESPN.com Page 3 piece has named the University of Michigan and Magic Johnson as “two of the nation's top playa haters,” maybe TK and Wilbon should get out while they still can.
In case you didn’t notice, just about every male blogger in America (including yours truly) posted those quasi-lesbian volleyball celebration pictures yesterday. And while I’m more of a Natalie Coughlin man myself, I can tell you it was one of those moments that most men- and even some women- won’t soon forget.
But on the Olympic perversity scale, nothing compares to the weightlifting competition, in which the two segments are called- I’m not joking- “the snatch” and the “clean-and-jerk.” I watched the mens’ competition last night, while waiting in vain for the replay of the Gal Fridman sailing race, and as I fought back the urge to chuckle in memory of SNL’s “All-Drug Olympics” sketch, I heard the following phrases from the commentators. All delivered, I swear to you, in all seriousness:
- “He broke his own record in the clean-and-jerk”
- "The strongest so far in the snatch. He'll take 460 pounds into the clean-and-jerk"
- "The top snatch so far in the competition. assuming he's able to get it"
- "And the rug comes out from underneath him"
- "He's been perfect tonight, so far in the snatch"
- "He was second coming out of the snatch"
- "They call him the Giant"
You get the idea.
Michael Totten is driving cross-country and stopped in Minnesota today; here are some beautiful Wyoming and Idaho photos.
Also excellent is this, also from Michael, on the Swift boats thing:
"I haven't written about the Swift Boat Veterans controversy for a number of reasons. One, I hate the Vietnam War. Two, that war ended when I was three years old and we are in a different historical era twice removed. Three, I can't stand mudslinging politics on this level. Four, I don't have the patience to sift through the Andes of accumulated hack pieces to figure out who is and who isn't a liar. Five, although undecided voters make up the target audience, participating in the game is for partisans."I truly believe most people, especially those younger than 35, feel the way he does.
Jordan is finally off Blogspot and on to MT, and he's on a roll- he's been doing 2-3 posts a day, inverting his old one-every-week formula. Best is this, as our man forever refutes that whole "born-again virgin" idea.
History was made today in Athens when windsurfer Gal Fridman won Israel’s first-ever Olympic gold medal. Yes, from the entire team murdered during the Games to Olympic gold, all in just 32 years.
Finally, the world’s most notorious Israeli is no longer Golan Cipel.
Rick Reilly: “What Michael Phelps did tops Mark Spitz any day.”
Phelps can't match Spitz's moustache, but otherwise I agree.
Sunday’s Third Annual Length of Manhattan Walk was a big success, as we finished it in under seven hours for the first time ever. Our charity fundraising efforts are looking good as well, as contributions continue to trickle in; I’ll post the final total when it’s known.
No major celebrity sightings this year- unlike two years ago, when Alan Colmes turned up in a deli- although we did run into Triumph confidante Blackwolf the Dragon Master in Union Square, and also noticed the best-named business in New York: Praise the Lord Dental, in the West 120s. And yes, we also walked by the Merkin Concert Hall.
Meanwhile, thanks for the nice feedback on the Hoboken story. It felt good to finally break the “no personal stories on the blog” taboo, so perhaps there’ll be more of that to come.
The Republican National Convention comes to New York next Monday, just to give you an early warning before the topic engulfs this blog completely. I won’t be attending the convention live, but I’ll be working four blocks away from the venue for the entire week, as well as attending several media events, and will likely observe both conventioneers and protesters everywhere I go in the city.
As a committed left-of-center Democrat, I fully expect to be pissed off by the actions of the protesters that I witness first-hand, but then go home, watch the speeches by the actual politicians, and be pissed off even more. I know the demonstrators have some excessive stuff in store- everything from passing out fake maps to burning Bush and Cheney in effigy to accosting delegates at restaurants and at Broadway shows to breaking windows at Starbucks to starting a full-fledged riot. And while I’m sure they’ll all have tons of fun, I really hope they realize that not one of those actions will do a single thing to help get Bush out of office- in fact, they’re more likely to have exactly the opposite effect.
Reptilian GOP chairman Ed Gillespie has already stated, absurdly, that “the Democrats are going to have to be careful about not letting the protesters get out of hand,” as though the Stalinist-dominated infrastructure of the UFPAJ and International ANSWER has anything to do with the DNC at all. But the now-until-election-day Republican strategy- now that the Swiftie thing seems to be nearing the end of its run- will clearly be to run ads with protesters running around like idiots, most likely juxtaposed with 1970s-era Kerry testimony.
UPDATE: An NYT look at my new neighborhood: “Columbia's Expansion Plans Raise Fears of a '68 Rerun.” The piece refers to the student riot in 1968 that resulted from Columbia University's attempt to expand into Harlem; I guess you can just call this 1968 Rerun Week then- though at least Kerri Walsh and Misty May didn't do a Black Power salute from the medal stand.
Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and Myers are walking! With the presidential dog in tow! Does this mean Tarantino is propagandizing for the GOP now? More likely it’s Vincent Gallo.
As I’ve mentioned before, I still don’t have cable in my new apartment, so I’ve largely missed the last three weeks of cable news- which I estimate to have contained roughly 75 segments on the Swift Boat Vets, 65 segments on Laci Peterson, and 15 Fox News interviews with Illinois Senate “underdog” Alan Keyes. On Thursday night, having not brought a CD to the gym, I listened to “Hardball” while on the treadmill- Michelle Malkin was the guest, and you all know what happened next.
I blogged about the segment when I got home that night before I read any other analysis or the transcript, and wrote about Malkin’s response the following morning. In linking to the latter I sent a trackback to Malkin’s blog, leading at least 400 of her readers here that day alone- especially after her post was linked from Drudge, mentioned on Limbaugh, and discussed throughout the rest of the conservative echo chamber. I mostly found the whole thing amusing- especially some of the tortured, pretzel-like rationalizations people used to defend Malkin’s virtually indefensible position. But still, it’s a bit distracting to get through a work day when you’re getting hate-mail every 20 minutes.
A few comments on the matter; since it’s been five days, I don’t intend to address this topic again. All italicized passages are from actual comments I’ve received:
1. If I ever went on a national television talk show and the host misrepresented or misunderstood something that I said, I can tell you unequivocally that I would correct them- immediately- if only to set the record straight. I wouldn’t resist a single opportunity- much less ten of them- to answer a yes/no question about the misrepresentation, and I sure as hell wouldn’t wait until the next morning- on my blog- to correct it.
Malkin claims that she never said Kerry purposely wounded himself, and technically she’s correct- those words never came out of her mouth. But when confronted with the idea that she would make such a serious accusation- one totally unsupported by evidence- she not only refused to say “no,” but she claimed- falsely- that the Swift Boat Veterans had previously made that accusation themselves. They haven’t, in their book or anywhere else. And when asked to produce a witness to back up her point, she named two soldiers who are pro-Kerry.
The question Malkin or any of her supporters is yet to address is, if Matthews claimed she said something she didn’t, why didn’t she just say “no, that’s not what I believe”?
2. Was Matthews tough on Malkin? Absolutely- that’s why the show is called “Hardball.” But he barely raised his voice during the entire exchange, and his act of badgering a guest who refused to answer a simple yes-no question was no different from what Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity do to liberal guests every single night.
3. “Left-wing shill” Chris Matthews voted for George W. Bush in 2000- which by itself would disqualify him from any Democratic-shill gathering I know of- referred to Bill Clinton regularly as a “hick,” and has in recent months made regular practice of demolishing lefties from Michael Moore to Terry McAuliffe. In fact, the last time I saw him this angry at a guest was on election night in 2002, when he exploded at former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile after she made fun of Tom DeLay for being a former exterminator.
Matthews is a committed centrist who is one of the few remaining political analysts who calls issues and political races as he sees them, one who clearly loves the political process and possesses seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of American political history. That’s why his show remains the best one on cable television for political junkies.
4. Michelle Malkin was verbally ASSAULTED by Chris Matthews!
Michelle Malkin has built her entire career around the act of viciously attacking other people –whether it’s individuals or entire races or nationalities that she wants to toss into camps. Either she's an extremely hateful individual, or she merely plays one on TV.
Either way, I’m sorry if her feelings are hurt by Matthews who is, in the four years that I’ve been aware of Malkin, the first person I’ve ever seen actually challenge her. For someone who referred in print to Ana Marie Cox and Jessica Cutler as “vain, young, trash-mouthed skanks,” it’s refreshing to see that Malkin is all of a sudden demanding greater civility in public discourse.
5. When Kerry makes his Vietnam service a centerpiece of the convention and his campaign as a hole, I think it might be wise to give said service a proper vetting.
I absolutely agree. But give it a fair vetting. Not a Republican-funded vetting in which no one seems to be able to keep their story straight from what it was two years ago.
6. [Matthews] gave her ten chances to confirm or deny the truth of actions she didn't witness?
That’s a fabulous argument, that can really justify any public rumor-mongering of any kind. Even though there’s no evidence whatsoever that Kerry faked his injuries, and no one is even alleging it, how can Malkin say it didn’t happen? By that rationale, I should go on a talk show and say I heard that George W. Bush had sex with a monkey in 1974. After all, how do you know it’s not true? You weren’t there!
7. I think Matthews and Oberman [sic] have to be to of the most ill prepared[sic] and ill informed [sic] hosts on television.
Yes, that’s always bothered me about “Oberman”- that he’s “ill informed.”
8. George W. Bush could not have served in Vietnam even if he wanted to because of his father's involvement in the CIA
That’s a good one. Might be my favorite of all. If it were true, wouldn’t Bush have been screaming it from the mountaintops since at least ’99?
The Minnesota Twins are on a roll, winners of four straight (until losing tonight) who now hold an eight-game lead in the AL Central over the second place Cleveland “Baseball Team” Indians. The biggest reason why is starter Johan Santana, who has been baseball’s best pitcher since the All-Star break, going 7-0 with an ERA under 2, while giving up only 31 hits.
And in case you were wondering, it remains a mystery how a Venezuelan like Santana ended up with the uber-Scandinavian first name “Johan,” though the name is certainly apropos for Minnesota. I for one would love to see Johan, after retiring, return to his home country and wrest the presidency away from Hugo Chavez.
But on second thought, maybe Andres Galarraga should do it instead- he’s much closer to retirement, and I’m not quite sure Venezuela can wait that long.
UPDATE: Apparently Santana's under some pressure to run for office closer to home.
I finally watched the anti-Fox News documentary “Outfoxed” last night, and I pretty much agree with the conventional wisdom. The film essentially proves its point in the first ten minutes that Fox News has a conservative bias, but then overplays its hand, throwing in about 40 minutes of superfluous talking-head testimony. And worst of all, the production values are junior-high AV-club caliber- the music and graphics are laughable, and I think half of the actual Fox News footage was just grabbed off someone’s VCR.
The film is at its strongest when using the actual footage to show certain patterns of behavior by Fox, even if such patterns are obvious to anyone who’s ever watched the network for more than a half-hour (then again, many liberals have never seen it at all). But the commentators go too far numerous times, including more than one who throws out the dubious “media-consolidation-equals-the-old-Soviet-system” argument, and “Outfoxed” is the third film I’ve seen in the last two weeks (after “Manchurian Candidate” and “Harvard Man”) to feature an intrusive, out-of-nowhere cameo by Al Franken. This time Al tells the O’Reilly/Jeremy Glick story, using numerous jokes that I was hearing for the second or third or fourth time.
I’ve long posited that leftists will always accept bad art provided they agree with its politics; that explains Tony Kushner’s career, and Michael Moore’s. As well as the appeal of “Outfoxed,” in which –like “Fahrenheit 9/11”- most who have seen it are happy it’s out there, even though they realize that nothing in it ever convince anyone who was previously undecided, and even though the film looks as though it was directed by a tenth-grader.
"Your information is flawed because it came from a source I know to be aligned with the forces of darkness. I am able to parse the media and edit what I see for bias and spin, while you are a gullible sap who believes everything you see on the TV or read in that wholly discredited rag you just quoted.
You speak in cliches, slogans and sound bites. I speak in pithy phrases and time-tested words of wisdom. You call names, I tell it like it is. You are vulgar, I am colorful.
My candidate is a hero. Yours is a zero. One cannot compare the youthful hijinks of my guy with the youthful wantonness of yours. My guy makes mistakes, yours commits sins of the worst kind. And likes it. My guy was misquoted, or simply misspoke, while your guy was caught on tape saying exactly what I expected him to say."
When it comes to Hoboken for me, it all comes back to the waterfront.
Hoboken was the setting of the 1954 Hollywood classic “On the Waterfront”- which, by complete coincidence, happened to roar to life on my television the very first time I plugged it in after I moved to Hoboken in May of 2001.
Past Sinatra Drive is the Hudson River, and in between the two are two parks: Pier A Park and Sinatra Park. From those parks the whole of Manhattan island is visible- look right, and see the Bayonne Bridge that connects New Jersey to Staten Island; look left, and see the George Washington Bridge that connects New Jersey to Upper Manhattan. Look between, and see everything in between.
I don’t remember the first time I saw Pier A, but what I’m sure the first thing I noticed was the World Trade Center, the shadow of which on summer afternoons fell directly on the park- where I sat and read nearly Saturday of that summer.
That shadow would remain for the rest of my days in Hoboken, even long after the Trade Center itself was gone.
After three years, three jobs, three different sets of roommates in two apartments, and 30 pounds lost, regained, and lost again, I decamped from Hoboken at the end of July, returning to live in Manhattan. This is the story of my three years there, not so much an official history as a chronicle of my most powerful and enduring memories and critiques.
I arrived in Hoboken that May, fresh off a difficult breakup and even more difficult job loss, set to get my life back in order. The place seemed up my alley, after all- as it was the birthplace of two seminal American icons: baseball (the first game was played there in 1846), and Frank Sinatra (born in 1915).
I found an awesome apartment with two great roommates, and partied a lot that summer, despite being out of work during the depths of that year’s recession. When summer ended I resolved to get back into shape and part of that was resuming my long-forgotten jogging habit, especially since I had a stretch of beautiful riverfront to run along. I even named a target date for the start of my new workout regimen- September 1, 2001.
Away from the river, Hoboken consists mainly of three things: delis, bars, and realtors.
Traditionally an Italian working class town, Hoboken has retained much of its cultural tradition: There are many great Italian restaurants, as well as bakeries and delis -one, the greatly named Luca Brasi’s, makes the best mozzarella I’ve ever had; another was owned by my first landlords, and I would hand them my rent check while they made a sandwich. Various well-known Italian-American actors hang around town regularly, including Danny Aiello and numerous “Sopranos” cast members. And all of these places feature Frank Sinatra’s likeness prominently, including one restaurant, Leo’s, which features it exclusively.
And no, to answer the obvious question, I’m not sure exactly how much mob activity still goes on in the Hoboken- I’m sure there is some, and my old roommate was convinced that a barber shop we went to was mobbed-up. But I never did see any first-hand evidence one way or the other.
But Hoboken today consists of merely one ethnic group- yuppie. Indeed, when the Hoboken Reporter newspaper featured as its cover story one week last year a demographic history of the Mile Square City, its original headline- “Italians, Irish, Jews, Hispanics, And…” was completed in magic marker on the top copy of a stack in an ATM vestibule with the correct completion of the sentence: “yuppies.” There are, in fact, so many of them that the developers and realtors are in overdrive putting together new buildings; couples are often seen drooling over the photographs of such places in the realtors’ windows, a practice that Gawker’s Elizabeth Spiers dubbed “real estate porn.”
The Hoboken yuppie community is an almost entirely white mixture of NJGuido.com types and Wall Streeters with way too much money for their age (the old joke goes that Hoboken is like a college, where the fraternities are Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, etc.) Both camps seemed to produce a special breed of asshole previously thought unimaginable- just listen to their cell phone arguments about the Yankees, beer, and sharehouses. Or watch their bar fights from your living room across the street (as my roommate and I once did). Or listen to their barroom dialogue- walking down Washington Street one Wednesday night at around 6 PM I saw three frat-ish men amble out of the Mile Square bar, and heard one of them turn to the others and wistfully remark that, “you know, I should’ve offered that waitress $100 if she’d let me stick my tongue up her ass.”
And then there are the women. The type who would probably appreciate the above comment. Former Hoboken resident Sheila properly described “Hoboken bar girls” thus:
Hoboken is the kind of place where, on a Friday night, if you walk down Washington Street, you are bombarded with the mating rituals of early 20-somethings who are drunk. Girls who all look alike (like all the girls on "The Bachelor") strutting down the street in their regulation-black, all shrieking on their cell phones, saying things like, "Well, we waited for you at the Black Bear … where ARE you?" In grating voices, where everything, even statements of fact, come out as questions.
It continued all the way to the end: two days before I moved out, I was watching John Kerry’s convention acceptance speech with my friends when several of them were pulled away from the speech and onto the balcony for several minutes by the sight of a drunk girl across the street trying to parallel-park. The drama ended when she hit the car in front of her and then sped away.
That’s the problem with Hoboken: the ubiquitous bars create an extension-of-frat-days “social life,” but aside from the occasional Italian festivals, there’s really no neighborhood cultural life whatsoever. There’s the music landmark Maxwell’s, but not really a Hoboken musical “scene.” There is practically no artistic community or racial diversity or gay culture to speak of, and all there is of political activism is the machine-like, indictment-heavy Hudson County Democratic Organization. So much fun as I had, I never quite fit in with this scene- I’ve never been one to base my social life around “hitting the bars,” and I’m especially not keen on making friends that way.
After two years, I moved from my first apartment above an Italian deli to one above an Indian restaurant- the smell of which, I’m convinced to this day, bought me a $200 discount in rent. But 505 Washington was quite a place- transport the same apartment to Manhattan, and add a couple of zeroes to the rent price- and I was happy there, hosting numerous parties and living the quintessential Hoboken existence.
And perhaps best of all, the new place was merely two blocks away from the river, and in between stands the world’s greatest Little League field- one in which right field contains a large apartment building that resembles the warehouse at Baltimore’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and left field is the Hudson and Manhattan skyline. If Barry Bonds ever batted at that field, one of his home runs might strike the West Side Highway.
Living in Hoboken also helped me land a job, also in Hoboken, with a news service covering the energy industry- which is why, unlike most people I know, I had to work during the blackout. I often had to be in the office in the wee wee hours, leading to my often wandering the near-empty streets of the Mile Square city in the middle of the night. That job led to another job, in Manhattan, and that’s why I left- living in Hoboken had run its course, and I was ready to once again tackle Manhattan full-time.
Decades from now, long after I’ve forgotten everything else that’s written here, I’ll primarily remember Hoboken as the place where I spent September 11. Out of work at the time, I woke up at 9:00 to call the post office (my ’01 Bush tax rebate hadn’t arrived yet), and found the phone line dead. Then I somehow was able to log on to my e-mail, and had an e-mail from my friend Dena saying that two planes had hit the World Trade Center- where her mother worked- but that her mom was fine, as she’d taken the day off to go shopping for Passover.
After watching on TV for a few hours I went outside, where Hoboken was seemingly overrun with people; just about everyone in all the surrounding suburbs had assembled there to catch a ferry to the city- an instance that would be repeated, albeit under much less tragic circumstances, at the time of the blackout two years later. As smoke from the Towers drifted above us, I stopped into the bar Hennessey’s, where about 50 people sat silently watching CNN.
The pier was roped off with police tape for the next few days, but I finally went back to the river the following Friday, to see the unbelievable sight of the World Trade Center missing from the skyline, and all the lights off in Lower Manhattan. There were candles, flowers, and pictures of the missing all around the corner of Pier A, and a large American flag hung off the side.
I probably came back to that spot at least twice every week for the year after that. On weekend afternoons, or late at night, when I couldn’t sleep and felt like taking a walk or a jog. On every Fourth of July (where three different sets of fireworks, from different directions, are always visible), and on every 9/11 anniversary, to see the beautiful Towers in Light memorial. And on the day of the blackout in August 2003, when I saw a rare sight of the sun setting on a totally darkened Manhattan- and hoped (in vain, alas) that all the lights would come back on at once, which would have been the most amazing sight imaginable.
If you know me and visited me in Hoboken while I lived there, I probably took you to the Pier. LilB came to visit the weekend prior to September 11, where we sat outside at one of the restaurants near the PATH train and I pointed out the Towers from there. Indeed, we’ve since taken to calling the train “the PATH of the righteous man,” as it was indeed beset, on one side anyway, by the iniquities of the selfish and tyranny of evil men.
My last night in Hoboken, at about 4 in the morning- two hours before the movers were scheduled to arrive to carry my belongings to Manhattan- I took one last stroll along the pier. Smoking a cigar, I passed two men and a woman, standing in the corner that faced downtown Manhattan, where that huge flag used to be, and- as happens nearly every time I see people at that corner- they told their 9/11 story.
In this instance, the two men were construction workers, on the New Jersey side, who heard a plane passing overheard and noticed that is was flying kind of low, but didn’t notice at first. For as long as Pier A is standing, such conversations will surely continue.
There are lots of places in Hoboken that I’ll always remember from my time there- all the dinners with my friends and dates with women at Tutta Pasta and Leo’s Grandevous and the Frozen Monkey Cafe. The now-defunct bar Miss Kitty’s, which was so known for its beautiful women that my friend Peter once IM’d me on the Tuesday after a visit there to ask, “why aren’t you at Miss Kitty’s?” The great record store Tunes, the collapsing Clam Broth House, and the Starbucks with the smiling Puerto Rican girl whose name I never did gather the courage to ask.
But of all the important places, the pier was always my favorite place in Hoboken, which may be true even if a cataclysmic world event hadn’t taken place across it while I lived there. And it will continue to hold a place in my heart, even now that I’m living on the other side of it.
But though my new Manhattan apartment is only three blocks from Riverside Park and the very same Hudson River, I’m not quite sure I’ll develop quite the same affinity- after all, the view of New Jersey from New York isn’t nearly as breathtaking as the other way around.
A few things before I take off for the weekend and a 4-5 day mini-hiatus:
- This blog's hit count for the five months since I switched to Movable Type passed the 50,000 mark the other day- which surpassed the total number of hits I had in nearly two years on Blogspot. Thanks so much, everyone. And double thanks to those of you who stuck up for me today against the onslaught of Malkin's rampaging hordes.
- The Hoboken story is all but done and will be posted at some point over the weekend, so watch for that- and a couple of other writing projects are in the works as well. In the meantime, I'll be back Tuesday or Wednesday. Have a good weekend, everyone.
"I'm equal-opportunity on this. I dismissed the attacks on Bush and the National Guard. I dismissed and attacked Michael Moore for his hatchet job on Bush in Fahrenheit 9/11. And I dismiss these attacks-for-attacks'-sake on Kerry. Shut up already. Stop wasting my time. Stop sputtering. Stop yelling at me to care about something I don't care about. Stop treating me like I'm some sort of lying pondscum if I consider voting for one of the two candidates for President -- either of them. I'm a voter, not an accomplice.". -Jeff Jarvis, echoing my sentiments exactly. Once again, notice how pragmatic and even-keeled Jeff is, and partisan and mean-spirited his commenters are. And I know a thing or two about the latter, today especially.
Paul Lukas looks at Olympic uniforms in his latest Uni Watch column, using a headline that I like (“Silver Can Be Better Than Gold”), and echoing my call for the ultimate throwback craze: a return to all-nude Olympic competition. Because as you may have noticed, every other article during this Olympics has been about how hot all the female Olympians are.
Now that Bud Selig’s nonsensical contract extension is official, Jayson Stark has five suggestions for the Commish, in his remaining five years in office. I have five suggestions of my own:
1. Resign for “health reasons.”
2. Resign for “personal reasons.”
3. Resign for “Ricky Williams reasons.”
4. Resign for “Jim McGreevey reasons.”
A New Jersey man has come forward claiming that, like Jim McGreevey, he too had an affair with the world’s most infamous homeland security advisor/poet, Golan Cipel. So what if the man appears to be completely batshit-insane?
Golan got off to a good start yesterday in his quest to convince the world that he’s actually straight- returning to his native Israel and appearing in a widely circulated photograph with a cleavage-baring Israeli chick. But then he apparently blew it when the alleged lover, David Miller, appeared on last night’s local news, standing shirtless in the doorway of his home, screaming at reporters to go away.
Front-page stories, including interviews with Miller, appeared in both the Post and Daily News this morning, and both contained quite a few quotes that may tend to shed some doubts on the man’s credibility. Like when he told the NYDN that he refused to speak English because he “hates the United States.” Or when Miller, a doctor and sometime college professor, claimed that he’s a CIA man, who “takes pills doled out by the intelligence agency to make his skin darker so he can infiltrate unnamed groups” (funny, he looked pretty pale to me).
The Post version had Miller (now called “Michael David Miller”) claiming that he was “very active” in McGreevey’s campaign and donated large sums of money, although public records show none whatsoever; it also said Miller took turns speaking English, Spanish, Hungarian, and Hebrew, an example used by several bloggers as evidence that Miller is insane (because as we all know, crazy people like to shift languages indiscriminantly in mid-conversation).
I’m guessing both papers made the determination to put the story on their front pages as soon as they heard their was a lover, and decided to stick with it even though the guy turned out to be an out-and-out lunatic.
UPDATE: Miller has been arrested for, you guessed it, impersonating a federal agent. During his arraignment, his lawyer cautioned his client to not speak. Smart lawyer.
Goofy right-wing pundit Michelle Malkin, who you may recall accusing yours truly of “ad hominem attacks” a few weeks ago after I criticized her book, came up with a hell of an ad hominem of her own tonight- during a debate over the swift-boat book/ad, Malkin threw out the nugget that John Kerry had actually faked his Vietnam combat wounds.
This unleashed a torrent of righteous indignation from Chris Matthews, who had earlier grilled one of the involved veterans who did not mention the “self-inflicted wounds” charge, as apparently it originated in Malkin’s ass. Matthews accused Malkin of libel and gave her five chances to take the comment back, but she dug an even bigger hole, wondering why the “mainstream media” hadn’t ever asked Kerry whether or not his war wounds were legit. Yes, she really did say that.
I’ll post the transcript as soon as it’s available, but in the meantime Matthews had this to say on Hardblogger:
“Tonight on 'Hardball,' one of our guests pushed the idea that John Kerry had won his Purple Heart by deliberately shooting himself. The charge was without merit and baseless, as our guest under close questioning herself admitted.I generally try to stay above the fray of typical day-to-day campaign bullshit, and not get “outraged” by the prescribed DNC and RNC talking points, in which outrage is always the ultimate goal. But this “Swift Boat Veterans” thing is way beyond the pale: Kerry is a war hero who has saved people’s lives, and Bush is not. If the Bush campaign wishes to fight this election on the criteria of what the two men were doing in 1969/1970 –an absurd premise in any case- Bush will never win the argument. John McCain is right; the Republican-backed “Swift Boat” campaign is an embarrassment that should be pulled immediately.
We'll keep covering the political issues and will stand up against any attempt to broadcast misinformation.”
The “Hardball” argument lasted so long that Malkin didn’t get a chance to blurb her book- you know, the one where she advocates racial profiling,
Holocaust denial, and internment. At any rate, don’t expect to see Michelle Malkin on “Hardball” ever again.
UPDATE: Keith Olbermann:
"Michelle Malkin, the unfortunate and overmatched author of a self-loathing book that attempts to justify our World War II internment and robbery of Americans of Japanese heritage, became the harbinger of the next mucky smell of low tide. She raised the story— heretofore consigned largely to Robert Novak and everybody to his right— in that delightful, Teflon way of modern politics: ‘I’m not saying that John Kerry shot himself. But in the Swift Boat Veterans’ book, they ask whether or not his wounds were self-inflicted.’
If Ms. Malkin isn’t seen on television, or moving on her own power, in the next few days, it’s understandable. My colleague Mr. Matthews forced her to hang herself out to dry ten or eleven times (never prouder of you, Chris). He may have directed the momentum, but her wounds were ultimately, uh, self-inflicted."
UPDATE: Here's the transcript:
MALKIN: Well, yes. Why don‘t people ask him more specific questions about the shrapnel in his leg. They are legitimate questions about whether or not it was a self-inflicted wound.
MATTHEWS: What do you mean by self-inflicted? Are you saying he shot himself on purpose? Is that what you‘re saying?
MALKIN: Did you read the book...
MATTHEWS: I‘m asking a simple question. Are you saying that he shot himself on purpose.
MALKIN: I‘m saying some of these soldiers...
MATTHEWS: And I‘m asking [a] question.
MALKIN: And I‘m answering it.
MATTHEWS: Did he shoot himself on purpose.
MALKIN: Some of the soldiers have made allegations that these were self-inflicted wounds.
MATTHEWS: No one has ever accused him of shooting himself on purpose.
MALKIN: That these were self-inflicted wounds.
MATTHEWS: Your saying there are—he shot himself on purpose, that‘s a criminal act?
MALKIN: I‘m saying that I‘ve read the book and some of the...
MATTHEWS: I want an answer yes or no, Michelle.
MALKIN: Some of the veterans say...
MATTHEWS: No. No one has [ever] accused him of shooting himself on purpose.
MALKIN: Yes. Some of them say that.
MATTHEWS: Tell me where that...
MALKIN: Self-inflicted wounds—in February, 1969.
MATTHEWS: This is not a show for this kind of talk. Are you accusing him of shooting himself on purpose to avoid combat or to get credit?
MALKIN: I‘m saying that‘s what some of these...
MATTHEWS: Give me a name.
MALKIN: Patrick Runyan (ph) and William Zeldonaz (ph).
MATTHEWS: They said—Patrick Runyan...
MALKIN: These people have...
MATTHEWS: And they said he shot himself on purpose to avoid combat or take credit for a wound?
MALKIN: These people have cast a lot of doubt on whether or not...
MATTHEWS: That‘s cast a lot of doubt. That‘s complete nonsense.
MALKIN: Did you read the section in the book...
MATTHEWS: I want a statement from you on this program, say to me right, that you believe he shot himself to get credit for a [Purple] heart.
MALKIN: I‘m not sure. I‘m saying...
MATTHEWS: Why did you say?
MALKIN: I‘m talking about what‘s in the book.
MATTHEWS: What is in the book. Is there—is there a direct accusation in any book you‘ve ever read in your life that says John Kerry ever shot himself on purpose to get credit for a purple heart? On purpose?
MATTHEWS: On purpose? Yes or no, Michelle.
MALKIN: In the February 1969 -- in the February 1969 event.
MATTHEWS: Did he say on it purpose.
MALKIN: There are doubts about whether or not it was intense rifle fire or not. And I wish you would ask these questions of John Kerry instead of me.
MATTHEWS: I have never heard anyone say he shot himself on purpose. I haven‘t heard you say it.
MALKIN: Have you tried to ask—have you tried ask John Kerry these questions?
MATTHEWS: If he shot himself on purpose. No. I have not asked him that.
MALKIN: Don‘t you wonder?
MATTHEWS: No, I don‘t. It‘s never occurred to me.
UPDATE: Malkin tells her side of the story on her blog. First she calls Matthews a "caveman" because he dared to comment on her youthful appearance (in my universe, telling a woman that she looks younger than she is is a compliment, but apparently not on Planet Malkin).
Then she accuses Matthews of twisting her words, making it clear that "I DID NOT SAY HE SHOT HIMSELF ON PURPOSE." Yet, as you can see above, Matthews gave her about ten chances to say that she doesn't believe that libelous statement, and she could've made the whole thing go away if only she'd simply said "no, I don't believe he shot himself on purpose."
But she never did, because clearly she went on the show that night specifically to inject that particular "talking point." And besides, people in the Coulter/Malkin "controversy" school didn't get to where they are by ever backing off anything.
Later in the post, Malkin accuses Chris of being part of the liberal mainstream media- even though he often goes after lefties with the same ferociousness, and Matthews has even said that he voted for Bush in 2000. Good for Matthews for kicking Malkin off the set before she had a chance to flog her worthless book.
Malkin then closes the post by listing Matthews' phone number. How classy of her.
Daniel Radosh shows us the difference between Alan Keyes' old house, and his "new house."
"'Alien Vs. Predator' has no characters to speak of, just hunks of meat with names."- Matt Zoller Seitz, in New York Press.
My review of the great "Garden State" is online here.
On the occasion of the Baseball Hall of Fame’s plans to honor all the Jews who have played Major League Baseball, and in response to a reader request, I’ve decided to collect here the various nominees/winners of the Eckstein Award. Named for Angels shortstop David Eckstein, the award is given out in honor of athletes/celebrities whose names are Jewish, even though they’re not:
Yea, ‘cause I’m sure he had “no interest” in continuing. Just like he had “no interest” in taking over the job permanently, or in serving as “acting commissioner” for six years.
After extending the contract of the worst commissioner in the history of sports, the owners will then get to the business of once again not deciding where the Expos will play next year.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has long been one of my least-favorite politicians in America (though Pataki’s worse); this latest stunt only shows why:
For a limited time only, protestors at the upcoming GOP convention are eligible for discounts at hotels, restaurants, theaters and more, Mayor Bloomberg announced yesterday.And this comes just a few days after Da Mayor mistakenly referred to political protest as a “privilege.” Ugh. What’s to prevent not-so-peaceful activists from lying, and pretending to be peaceful? Are they going to listen to Bloomberg, when he’s clearly part of the Evil Capitalist Enemy of War-Profiteers? And how do they define “peaceful”? The protestors have all sorts of disinformation/sabotage plans that may not count as “violent,” but they’re certainly not peaceful either.
The city's "Welcome Peaceful Political Activists" promotion is designed to cash in on an estimated 200,000 demonstrators expected to descend on the city in two weeks to voice their opposition to President Bush…
"We want to make sure protesters feel welcome here and that they take advantage of all New York City has to offer . . . It's no fun to protest on an empty stomach," said the billionaire mayor.
Salon’s been running some great pieces by Michelle Goldberg (here and here) on the protestors’ plans. They’ve got some BAD SHIT in store, whether it’s trying to shut down the actual convention, accosting people in restaurants, or destroying the property of companies “involved in the Iraq reconstruction.” And of course, it’s clear any sort of mass conflagration at the convention will help Bush much more than hurt him, shades of Chicago in ’68.
Again, from the Simmons/Klosterman confab (by Chuck):
"Pedro Martinez is my favorite player in MLB, so I suppose I am a Red Sox fan; I just don't have that much invested in the franchise, and I hate Ben Affleck.”Take the same quote, substitute “John Kerry” for “Pedro Martinez”; “the Senate” for “MLB”; and “Democratic” for “Red Sox.” It still makes sense!
And yes, Simmons is right: “Singles” is an infinitely better movie than “Reality Bites.” How anyone can take the latter film seriously after reading Ebert’s review is beyond me. “Kicking and Screaming” is pretty good too.
"If Tiger Woods called a press conference and then (a.) retired from golf, (b.) said he was gay, (c.) made several casual anti-Semitic remarks, (d.) punched a female golf reporter in the face, and then (e.) refused to comment on any of these issues (to anyone) ever again ... that would be pretty shocking."-Chuck Klosterman, from his day-long chat with Bill Simmons on ESPN.com; that's actually the favorite at this point for Quote of the Year.
Klosterman was generally underwhelming throughout the chat- getting the Red Sox/Vikings fan dichotomy exactly wrong, while Simmons riffed brilliantly on the Olympic basketball team, 90210, gymnastics, and "The Real World." But then, out of nowhere, he pulled out the above masterpiece near the end, much like Kevin Millar starting the day 0-for-4 but then winning the game with a bottom-of-the-ninth grand slam.
Even more surprising- especially considering this and this- was a complete lack of Peter North references, although Simmons did make a joke about Australian swimmer Ian "Thorpedo" Thorpe belonging in "a running series from Vivid Video."
The Washington Post Magazine published a nauseatingly fawning profile of “DC Sex Blogger” Jessica Cutler over the weekend. It’s bad enough that April Witt’s piece pretends that this celebrity-for-three-days is an actual person of consequence, and that she gives us a play-by-play of the events that we otherwise could have just gotten from reading her blog.
Much worse than that, the Post piece sanitizes and glorifies the story of this woman who spent several months whoring herself to seemingly half of Washington, endlessly pointing out how smart and beautiful she is, and absurdly praising Cutler for “her audacious refusal to keep the pawing patriarchy's dirty secrets.”
I also love the pretentiousness: “Jessica Cutler put her dirty secrets on the Web – and raised a ton of questions about where America is headed.” It’ s a friggin’ sex blog! What’s next, an exegesis about how the geopolitical situation will be turned upside down by the writings of Steve The Mildly Unwell Bastard?
Of all the significant bloggers to emerge in the last few years, why give this one, who in her two-week blogging stint showed scarcely any talent whatsoever- a magazine article? Is it all an effort to promote her upcoming book -which no one will read- even though numerous, much more talented bloggers also have books coming out in the next year? Cutler also talks, in the article, about how she can’t seem to find a boyfriend or a job since the shit hit the fan with the blog. Aw, my heart bleeds for her.
”Reading the rest of the story, I came away with a worse opinion of Cutler than I already had. She's a shallow, vain, self-centered woman who is going to crash and burn at a very early age, book contract and Playboy money notwithstanding.”
Some ideas for McGreevey-inspired T-shirts:
“I Am A Gay American”
“I'm Not Gay, But My Governor Is”
“I Broke My Leg in Cape May Under Mysterious Circumstances, and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt”
“Ha Am Im Ha Golan”*
- I’ve been arguing this in the comments of various other blogs since Thursday, so I might as well say it here too: I see no reason why McGreevey should have to resign early, simply because he’s the one who chose to quit, and should therefore be allowed to dictate the terms of his own resignation himself. Unless the Republicans can come up with some smoking-gun impeachable offense in the next 30 days, but I somehow doubt they can.
- I was expecting to see McGreevey-gate on the covers of both newsweekies, but the scandal lost out to “Big Cats” on the Time side, and “When Fat Attacks” on Newsweek. Nice to see they have such important topics to cover, in the middle of both an election campaign and a war.
- And finally, I think it would be really hilarious if Dina Matos-McGreevey followed the Arianna Huffington career path, and suddenly became a radical political activist on the opposite side of the spectrum from her now-gay former husband.
*This is the message on the Hebrew bumper sticker below. All the rage during the Oslo process when Israel appeared set to return the Golan Heights to Syria, the sticker translates to "The People are with the Golan." McGreevey's alleged lover, you'll remember, is named Golan.
The five-year absence of Jews from the NBA may be about to end, because the Sacramento Kings have signed former USC forward David Bluthenthal to a contract. Bluthenthal, who is both Jewish and African-American, played for Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel last year, and would be the first Jewish player in the NBA since Danny Schayes retired following the 1999 season.
Last week I went to the Times Square Virgin Megastore and picked up the new “Best of Triumph The Insult Comic Dog" DVD; when I sat down to watch Conan’s bizarre infomercial parody/DVD-shilling episode last Thursday, Triumph was at that very store! I must’ve missed him by just a few hours.
Speaking of celebrities showing up at the Megastore, I saw that Jenna Jameson is doing a book-signing there tomorrow night- man, I wouldn’t want to see the clientele for that event.
As for the DVD itself, it’s great stuff, depicting just about every memorable Triumph appearance since the character’s ’97 introduction- it’s fun watching the evolution of Triumph, from the original one-joke premise to a character multi-faceted enough to sustain an entire album and DVD- even if he is a talking sock puppet/dog.
For instance, I’d forgotten how hilarious Triumph’s war with the Pets.com puppet was –in a press conference bit, the Dog was flanked by Lazaro Gonzales- though I was disappointed that the disc didn’t include Triumph’s comments at the Friar’s Club Roast of Rob Reiner: “Look at you! David Crosby thinks you’ve let yourself go!”
Brief reviews of a few films I’ve seen lately:
“Garden State”: This marvelous film is clearly destined for the Single Guy DVD Collection Pantheon. Funny and poignant, with plenty of New Jersey references and Jewish references to satisfy anyone inclined towards such things, “Garden State” also features Natalie Portman’s best performance as an adult- after seeing her consorting with Anakin and Jar Jar for the last few years, it’s easy to forget that Natalie was quite an actress, back when she was 15.
At any rate, “Garden State” is one of the best movies of the year, and I should have a full review posted here tomorrow.
“The Human Stain”: This weekend’s Netflix movie; I liked it a lot more than most people did. Yes, it was sort of all over the place, and it had a horrid performance by Nicole Kidman that reminded me of her similarly awful turn in “Eyes Wide Shut.” But the film was surprisingly poignant, especially in its second half, and I loved the weaving of the flashbacks with the present-day story.
“The Manchurian Candidate”: Jonathan Demme’s remake of the 1962 classic pretty much fails on every level- the production design sucks, there are unintentional laughs all over the place and at the worst moments, Denzel Washington’s performance owes less to Frank Sinatra’s in the original than to Mel Gibson’s in “Conspiracy Theory,” and worst of all, the point is hammered home repeatedly that, like every other movie this year, it’s Really About Bush. I wholeheartedly agree with Alan Wirzbicki’s contention, in TNR, that the film is “a Naderite yelp.”
And I say this as one of the few who actually liked Demme's "Charade" remake, "The Truth About Charlie." That said, I LOVED Meryl Streep in the Angela Lansbury role, played as a combination of Hillary Clinton, Karen Hughes, and Mephistopheles.
“Collateral”: Michael Mann’s latest thriller has a great, great first act (as shown in its trailer), but then just becomes more goofy and outlandish as it goes on- until the last half hour, which is so implausible that it makes “24” look like a paragon of cinematic realism.
You know how Jack Bauer has the magical ability to get in a car accident in one episode, a plane crash in the next, and got shot in the third, and walk away from all three as though nothing had happened? Apparently all the characters in “Collateral” have that power as well, and one of them can even spend ten minutes in a nightclub shooting people like Rambo, and then slip away without anyone noticing. “Collateral” is every bit as overrated as Mann's previous film, “Ali,” was underrated.
- I just wanted to thank everyone for reading the ‘Roll Call, though believe it or not it’s not actually complete: I’m planning to do one more installment sometime next week, for the five or six people I’ve added since it started.
- I get the sense "the truth is that I am a gay American" is about to become the most quoted/parodied catchphrase of the year, eclipsing both "I'm Rick James, bitch" and "you're fired." At any rate, I'll try to resist as much as possible in my writing here.
- No, I'm not going to the final Phish show; I didn't make it to Jonestown or Heaven's Gate, either.
- The Hoboken story- I’m about halfway done with it, and hopefully will finish this weekend and post it on Sunday or Monday. As for Manhattan- it’s great. I love living here.
- And speaking of which, The Third Annual Length of Manhattan Walk is Sunday, August 22, and will benefit the Fallen Patriot Fund. We welcome donations even if you can’t make the walk; e-mail me to find out how.
Today (8/12) marks the ten-year anniversary of the start of 1994-'95 baseball strike, which wiped out that year’s World Series and is generally considered the second-most calamitous event in baseball history (after the 1919 Black Sox scandal.)
In fact, there have been lots of shameful anniversaries in baseball this year: 85 years since the Black Sox, 30 since Ten-Cent Beer Night, 25 since Disco Demolition Night, 15 since the Pete Rose banishment, and 10 since the strike.
If there was anything that destroyed my innocense as a baseball fan, this was it; for that entire nine-month off-season I listened to people say "oh no, I don't miss baseball, and I'll never watch it when they come back," knowing that I DID miss it, and that I WOULD watch it when they came back.
I’ll put it this way: when I was a kid, the last day of camp was always August 12. Friends of mine have gotten married on August 12. I've dated women whose birthdays were August 12. Yet long after I forget all of those things, I will still remember that the '94 baseball strike started on August 12.
"Controversial" book critic Dale Peck has an absolutely dynamite piece in the New York Observer about Alan Ball, who both wrote “American Beauty” and created “Six Feet Under.” In it, Peck enumerates the flaws in the watchable-but-questionable film, and discusses how the HBO show has started to take on many of them. Then there’s this great observation:
“The project that followed ‘American Beauty,’ the HBO series ‘Six Feet Under,’ is essentially a character-by-character recreation of the movie’s key players. Its family is composed of figures culled from the three households in ‘American Beauty’: Allison Janney’s automaton housewife reappears in Frances Conroy’s Ruth Fisher; Kevin Spacey’s selfishly distant father shows up in Richard Jenkin’s Nathaniel Fisher; Wes Bentley’s drifter ’n’ dreamer has grown up to become Peter Krause’s Nate Fisher Jr.; Thora Birch’s ironic-but-wants-to-be-earnest teenager is the mirror image of Lauren Ambrose’s Claire Fisher; and the two Jims have moved into the main house in the form of Michael C. Hall’s David Fisher. Mr. Ball’s beloved plastic bag is back, too, this time filled by an endless series of corpses.”
The Reform movement of my youth, once again, throws Israel under the bus. I'm still not exactly sure who they want Israel to negotiate with.
In what may be the most shocking political moment of the decade (and there have been many), New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey announced today that he is gay, and that he is resigning effective in November. Jeff Jarvis, of course, couldn’t resist calling this the political version of the ‘Vito Surprise’ on “The Sopranos.”
As I’ve mentioned before, I worked on McGreevey’s election campaign in 2001; I never met him but did talk to him on the phone once, and never heard any gay rumors before today. I’m guessing those burly, tough Irish guys who made up much of the staff all of sudden don’t like him so much anymore.
Sure, it was wrong for McGreevey to be dishonest for all this time, to both voters and to his own wife- and since a former employee (who may or may not be the same man who was his lover) is allegedly suing him, perhaps he did indeed do something wrong. But I find it in a way admirable that he was able to stand up, tell the truth, and not blame anything on his political opponents.
Is this big enough news to get Sullivan out of the hammock? Not yet, apparently.
At any rate, apparently New Jersey can’t handle the strain of my no longer living there. I’m gone ten days, and the whole government collapses.
“’Checkpoint’ makes Michael Moore’s ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ look like a work of Jamesian subtlety and nuance.”-Jennifer Reese, reviewing Nicholson Baker’s Bush-assassination novel “Checkpoint” in Entertainment Weekly. First runner-up goes to Leon Wieseltier, whose Times review of “Checkpoint” began with the phrase “this scummy little book…”
The Twins have lost five straight games and are now only three ahead of Cleveland (Cleveland!) in the AL Central. So what does SI.com’s John Donovan write this morning’s column about?
This McSweeney’s piece is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read.
”TV comic Andy Dick went on a randy rampage at Suede early yesterday that ended after he burst into tears over the death of his friend Rick James and was thrown out of the Chelsea club by "Little Shop of Horrors" star Joey Fatone…
‘He was obviously obliterated,’ Plan B co-owner Josh Boyd told us. ‘He jumped on the back of Jason Battle, my co-owner, and kept trying to kiss him. Then he started getting violent and bitch-slapping people.’
Sounds like Andy was paying tribute to Rick James by having a James-style evening. What did the five fingers say to the face?
"I am not an ambitious single woman in her 20s. But here's what I've learned about them from 'Little Black Book': They're apparently needy, developmentally delayed pollywogs, with mental and emotional deficiencies that rule out employment anywhere except a very tolerant taco shack."
-Scott Brown, reviewing the latest vehicle that stars the odious Brittany Murphy, in Entertainment Weekly.
I thought I was all done with this whole Merkin thing, but I cannot ignore the demands of my audience.
- As it turns out, Merkin Valdez hasn’t always been who he says he is. It has often been the practice for major league ballplayers, especially those from foreign countries, to lie about their ages to appear younger- at least until the practice was kiboshed after 9/11 by immigration authorities, leading to the exposure of many players’ false ages. The Dominican-born Valdez not only lied about his age, but also his name- when he signed with the Braves organization in 1999, he was known as “Manuel Mateo,” having swapped names (and birthdays) with a friend. Because if your first name were a euphemism for “pubic wig,” you’d change your identity too.
- There’s that baseball urban legend about a player being traded for “$500 and a sack of baseballs.” In 2002, Russ Ortiz was traded from the Giants to the Braves for Damian Moss and a Merkin.
- Merkins make music too. There’s a grunge-rock band called The Merkins (based in Rockford, IL), and Pearl Jam released a two-song EP in 1995 called “Merkin Ball” (which I somehow don’t remember, even though they were one of my favorite bands at the time). And don’t forget about the Merkin Concert Hall at Lincoln Center.
- That “A List” gossip master list website defines a “merkin” as “a man who dates or marries a gay or bisexual woman so that the woman can pretend to be heterosexual,” sort of a male version of the female “beard.” It gives such examples of merkins as Bill Clinton, Hank Azaria, Paul Newman, and Lenny Kravitz. However, I can’t vouch for the accuracy of any of the rumors on that site, and as far as I know that definition of “merkin” was made up by its author.
- Sports Guy hasn’t addressed the topic yet, but it’s only a matter of time. I still can’t get over his reader’s contention that Michael J. Fox wore #42 in “Teen Wolf” as a tribute to Jackie Robinson, because “ he was the first werewolf to play organized, competitive basketball.”
Longtime blogger John Paul Pagano –a techie by profession- is a published author for (I believe) the first time, having gotten his persuasive “Ralph Nader’ And Anti-Semitism” piece into the new issue of The Jewish Press. Check it out.
UPDATE: More from John on the subject (from a few weeks ago, emphasis mine):
"Zionism is the 21st Century's Talmud. It's a merkin used by haters to disguise their real target: Jews. Like the Talmud, it's a symbol of negative Jewry, disingenuously held distinct from assimilative or normative Jewry, for whom the Leftist or Arab anti-Semite disclaims any hatred."
My lukewarm review of “I, Robot” is online here.
Knowing That I Work Four Blocks From MSG!:
1. Several thousand Republicans in town!
2. Several hundred rampaging anarchists who could either block the entrance to my building or blow it up!
3. Cops With Teargas!
4. Police and firemen who might be on strike!
Sounds like one long party, huh?
Memo to everyone involved: it’s absolutely impossible to begin a political argument with the phrase “wake up” without coming across as extremely condescending. That’s true whether you’re Daniel Carver, or Ted Rall.
Then again, it never helps anyone’s credibility to join a project that already involves Yoko Ono.
Which New Yorker had a worse time in a taxi yesterday- Met Tom Glavine, who got in an accident and lost his two front teeth? Or Mike Wallace who, bizarrely, was arrested after arguing with two taxi inspectors?
Then again, I’d rather have either of those things happen to me than go see the new Jimmy Fallon/Queen Latifah movie “Taxi”- he’s a cop who loses his license, so a cabbie has to drive him around? And they chase around a gang of hottie thieves? How can a movie be good if it borrows a large section of its plot from “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back”?
A few more notes on the first week of the Merkin Valdez Era:
- The Cardinals fan site Redbird Nation headlines its Valdez post “My Fellow Merkins,” while Only Baseball Matters calls him “Mercury” Merkin Valdez. I can’t wait for the inevitable Lee Greenwood parody, “I’m proud to be a Merkin, for at least I know I’m free.”
- On an alt.sports.baseball.sf-giants thread titled “The Giants Get Their Pubic Wig,” one poster comments that he “can't wait for that promotional give away day,” while another makes the obvious “Merkin on the mound” joke.
- When the Twins traded A.J. Pierzynski to the Giants after last season, they could conceivably have asked for Merkin in return, but instead picked up future All-Star closer Joe Nathan, as well as another Name Hall of Famer, Boof Bonser.
- I just realized- if Valdez ends up becoming a superstar pitcher (and he’s a top prospect, so it’s very possible), he’ll be a household name, and everyone will just assume that the pubic wig is named after him. It’ll put him right up there with Lou Gehrig and Tommy John.
- And finally, I have officially changed the name of my fantasy football team to “The U.S.S. Merkin Valdez.”
I put Bill O’Reilly and Paul Krugman about even on the unbalanced-political-hack scale; both are just crazy enough to dissent from their side on occasion, but that still doesn’t mean they’re respectable. The two men faced off on Tim Russert’s CNBC show last weekend (transcript here); here are some highlights:
Mr. O'REILLY: Look, the Iraq War was a big screw-up, all right? I think every clear-thinking person in the country knows it was.”
(O’REILLY): What I object to is the lying charges, the slander and defamation that comes out of the Krugman wing, if you want to call it, of the social landscape. And don't give me that. Who are you appearing with today in your book signing?
Prof. KRUGMAN: I...
Mr. O'REILLY:You're appearing with Stuart Smalley, the biggest character assassinator in the country.
Prof. KRUGMAN: Well ...(unintelligible) kill Fox News entirely. I mean, what the...
Mr. O'REILLY: Yeah, OK. Another cheap shot, by the way.
Prof. KRUGMAN: No, it isn't.
Mr. O'REILLY: Yes, it is.
Prof. KRUGMAN: No, it isn't.
Mr. O'REILLY: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, I gotta get this in.
RUSSERT: Wait, wait, wait, wait. Let me just.
Prof. KRUGMAN: Hey.
Mr. O'REILLY: Why don't I call the Ku Klux Klan?
Prof. KRUGMAN: Here we go. Here we go. Here we go.
Mr. O'REILLY: If you look at the Fox News commentators in prime time, starting with Hume and ending with Van Susteren, it comes right down the line, OK? Van Susteren is a liberal, Colmes is a liberal, Hannity is a conservative, I'm a traditionalist, Shepard Smith is really nothing and--you know, he's just in--a neutral guy, in the neutral zone, and Hume, I would say that he's slightly conservative, but certainly no bomb thrower. All right?
Prof. KRUGMAN: Unbelievable.
On Michael Moore:
Mr. O'REILLY: All right. You want to think he loves his country, you go (unintelligible).
Prof. KRUGMAN: And he loves the working pow--people of America, and if you could watch that...
Mr. O'REILLY: Hezbollah feels the same way that you do.
(O’REILLY): I can take tape of you, Tim Russert, over the last five years and I can make you look like anything I want you--to make you look like. And you know it. You know how it's done. I can make you look like a Communist. I can make you look like a fascist.
RUSSERT: Thank you, gentlemen, for a very interesting hour.
Mr. O'REILLY: Lively.
Prof. KRUGMAN: Exciting.
Mr. O'REILLY: Lively.
Prof. KRUGMAN: Exciting.
RUSSERT: Lively and spirited.
If my home suburb of St. Louis Park, Minnesota had an official city publicist, I’d have thought he had dictated this piece to a Star Tribune reporter. But however it originated, I was happy to see SLP get recognition for bequeathing four major celebrities –Thomas Friedman, Al Franken, and Joel and Ethan Coen- to the world within a few years in the ‘70s. And also nice to see some quotes from Mim Kagol, high school journalism teacher of Friedman, Jeremy, and myself.
The story also includes the shocking information that Al Franken grew up on West 25th Street- so did I!
Like Kane The Undertaker and MC Hammer before him, Jewish rap superstar 50 Shekel has dropped the “50” from his name and is now known as “Shekel.” The artist formerly known as 50 will release his debut album, “Wake Up Call” this fall, and has already launched both a record label and clothing line; the name change will likely help him avoid being sued and/or shot by 50 Cent.
Shekel has also renewed his search for a female sidekick, who he now likens to a “Jewish version of Fergie from Black-Eyed Peas.”
Bud Selig’s contract as commissioner of baseball will be extended three years, to 2009, pending a vote by baseball’s owners. This would make about as much sense as NBC extending Jay Leno until 2009- which also, by the way, has happened. And picking the tenth anniversary of the start of the baseball strike over which Bud presided to announce the extension is another nice touch.
Doug Pappas, the Baseball Prospectus writer who passed away earlier this year, used to run a “Countdown To the End of Selig’s Term” clock at the top of his Business of Baseball blog; Doug’s gotta be rolling in his grave right about now.
UPDATE: From the blogger known as El Lefty Malo:
"5 2/3 scoreless innings to start his career, a funky-ass delivery that looks like the mating dance of a waterfowl, and nothing over 85 mph. Plus he has the worst baseball name ever: Noah Lowry. We're talking bagels and artificial meat seasoning. We're talking soft-spoken non-profit public legal assistance intern. We're talking a nice boy who reads the Bible. He's no Merkin Valdez, a.k.a. Pubic-Wig Oil Tanker Guided by a Drunkard".
Choire Sicha is out as editor of Gawker.com, having accepted a job as “editorial director” of Nick Denton’s empire. The new editor is Jessica Coen, who I will now and forever refer to as “The Coen Sister.”
Speaking of New York media departures, Executive Editor and Andrew Sullivan nemesis Richard Goldstein has been sacked at the Village Voice, joining a growing list of recent VV departees that includes media columnist Cynthia Cotts, fanatical Israel-basher Alisa Solomon, and Adrien Brody’s mom, photographer Sylvia Plachy. I bashed Goldstein here often, but I always found his writing interesting, and he'll be missed.
And speaking of Coens, here’s an NYT treatment on the Cult of The Dude.
Rick James will be buried on Wednesday in Los Angeles. I’m wondering why James’ funeral isn’t being spread over the course of an entire week, with gavel-to-gavel network coverage, like Reagan’s was.
One more James note: LilB has a pet turtle who he named Rick James. Improbably, the turtle outlived the real Rick.
New York Post TV critic Phil Mushnick, whose politics have always been hard to decipher because he seems to hate everything in the world equally, revealed in Sunday’s column that he is a “30-year registered Democrat.” But before you jump up and accuse Mushnick of liberal bias, read the column, in which he thoroughly trashes the Democratic convention.
For years Mushnick has simultaneously used every anti-culture argument of the left (“offensive,” “racist,” “sexist,” “pandering to corporate interests”) and of the right (“immoral,” “smut”). I just assumed he was a nihilist.
“King Kong” star Fay Wray has died at the age of 96. ‘Twas Beauty killed the Beast, yet Beauty outlived the beast by more than seven decades. Though ironically, they both died on Fifth Avenue.
"If he had a whiff of Islam about him, we thought people would be afraid to challenge him."-One of the producers of the brilliant "Da Ali G Show," quoted in the profile of creator Sacha Baron Cohen in last month's Vanity Fair.
Also in the piece- a story about how Cohen, while filming a segment as Kazakh filmmaker Borat, was caught pretending to masturbate in a tent and threatened with arrest by Arizona state police, and STILL never broke character. The current SNL cast members, who can't get through a feeble-minded five-minute sketch without giggling, could stand to learn a thing or two from his example.
"Silver In Albany Sex Hubbub"- New York Post
I'm off to Philly for the weekend. Come back Sunday for that Hoboken story that I'm eventually going to sit down and write, as well as the final installment of the 'Roll Call.
I haven’t had cable all week, so I’ve had to imagine the cable-news debate on this week’s stories in my head instead of actually seeing it. I think I know the natural talking points well enough, by this point, that I’m “off book,” and don’t even need to watch.
Take this Alan Keyes story, for instance. The former ambassador and two-time presidential loser who briefly hosted a talk show on MSNBC is the Illinois Republicans’ latest choice to run for the U.S. Senate against new Democratic superstar Barack Obama. This, even though Keyes has never lived in Illinois at any point in his life, and would be moving there three months before election day just to run for office.
Now, my imagined conversation between two party flaks/hacks, on some unnamed talk show last night that I didn’t see but I’m sure took place:
DNC Flak/Hack: I am outraged! How can Alan Keyes run for the Senate in a state where he’s never even lived? This is just a cheap political ploy by the Republicans, which is so typical, considering Florida 2000, the California recall and…
RNC Flak/Hack: I am outraged by your outrage! It is amazing to me that the Democrats can complain about Alan Keyes running for the Senate, when your hero, Hillary Clinton, moved to New York just to run for the Senate herself! It is so typical of Democrats to be hypocritics, especially coming from the party of Al Gore, who tried to steal the election…
Alan Colmes: [Silent]
DNC Flak/Hack: I am outraged by your outrage at my outrage! You complained about Hillary in 2000, but now you’re just find with Keyes! You’re the hypocrite! And besides, Hillary Clinton moved to New York a year and a half before election day, not three months. And she also won a primary. And she was her party’s first choice, not their fifth or sixth- they didn’t just turn to her as the alternative to a guy who goes to sex clubs, or to a retired football coach who shills for erectile-dysfunction drugs…
RNC Flak/Hack: You’re just a racist- you don’t like Alan Keyes ‘cause he’s black. Just like all Democrats- don’t forget, Al Gore’s father voted against the Civil Rights Act…
DNC Flak/Hack: You’re a liar! Just like Bush!
Of course, that’s just my second-biggest pet peeve about this whole thing. The biggest? That just about every single news story has mentioned that Obama and Keyes are “two articulate black men." As Jeremy said, "Because, you know, most black men sound like Chewbacca."
- Last year the Chicago White Sox fell behind the Twins down the stretch, so they made two trades, on the same day, for veterans Carl Everett and Roberto Alomar- and subsequently fell even further behind and then lost the AL Central title to Minnesota. Everett and Alomar both left the team as free agents after last season.
Santayana said that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” White Sox general manager Ken Williams must not be much of a Santayana fan. Two weeks ago he traded more prospects to Montreal for Everett, and then yesterday he got Alomar back from Arizona for a player to be named later. I’m not so sure how it helps the six-games-back White Sox to have a crazy person like Everett or an over-the-hill Alomar (who is a future Hall of Famer, and always will be). But they wanted to repeat the pattern of trading prospects for the same two guys every year for the rest of the decade, I can’t say I’d object.
- As for the Twins, despite yesterday’s loss to Anaheim they continue to kick ass- the Justin Morneau era is off to a great start, as “Minny” has won eight of ten, and they now have the second-best record in the AL.
- The team with the best record in the league is, of course, the Yankees, and I went up to the Bronx yesterday afternoon to see them beat the A’s, 5-1.
Unfortunately, the “Moneyball” philosophy wasn’t working so well for Oakland, as they were scoreless for eight innings against Kevin Brown before Torre foolishly brought in Paul Quantrill to pitch the ninth. Still, a fun afternoon at the ballpark as expected rain never materialized; the upper deck behind home plate remains my favorite place to sit at any baseball game. And when the New Yankee Stadium is built, I’ll likely feel the same way.
- I got into a long discussion with my friends at the game yesterday about baseball uniforms. We noticed, first of all, that visible stirrup socks seem to have bitten the dust, and also that teams in the ‘80s who wore blue road uniforms (Twins, Royals, Blue Jays, etc.) almost all played their home games on artificial turf. I can’t seem to think of a correlation, other than the younger, less tradition-bound franchises were more likely embrace the stupid, short-lasting fads of the time, such as the blue unis, turf, round cookie-cutter stadiums, and mascots. For more, check out Uni Watch, the column by fashion critic Paul Lukas that used to appear in the Village Voice but has now migrated to ESPN.com.
- And finally, Gammons yesterday mentioned a new San Francisco Giants relief pitcher of whom I hadn’t yet heard: Merkin Valdez. Yes, his first name is Merkin. A Merkin and a Putz, both in one season.
“SportsCenter” this week is running “Old School Week,” a promotion in which they will bring back several ‘90s-era anchors (Craig Kilborn, Charley Steiner, etc.) to host individual episodes of the show. No Keith Olbermann or Rich Eisen, unfortunately, but unlike everything else ESPN has come up with in the last two years, I actually like the idea. Dan Shanoff this morning:
”The point was the shared experience: With a collective of friends in your dorm, frat house or Melrose-like apartment, and getting the day's highlights with the anchors, not from them..
Tech and stat innovations on the show have re-defined how sports are covered and consumed, but there's something to be said for the role that the unique anchor voices played in turning us all into SC nuts."
UPDATE: The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand:
As for Keith Olbermann's absence, Mark Shapiro, ESPN's head honcho, offered a fair response. Basically, Olbermann hasn't played nice in the sandbox.
"As the result of repeated criticism, we didn't want to bring him into the work place," Shapiro said. "The damage he could cause in one day in our newsroom could put us in damage control for two years.''
Last month on SportsCenter, Sean Salisbury said if you think Vinny Testaverde is going to start in Dallas, "You don't know anything about football." Quincy Carter was cut this week. Testaverde is No. 1 on the depth chart right now.
Because I guess I don’t hear enough Bush-bashing every day from my friends, family, co-workers, and everyone else I know, I decided to endure a bit more last night, attending a book signing at the Union Square Barnes & Noble with liberal stalwarts Al Franken and Paul Krugman.
I should be upfront: I’ve long been a fan of Franken’s, but I’ve never liked Krugman much at all. While Al has had a distinguished career in comedy for nearly 30 years and has the advantage of being from my home town, I find Krugman’s columns dry, repetitive and paranoid, although he’s by no means my least favorite Times columnist (that honor either goes to Maureen Dowd, or Frank Rich, who has written the exact same column- “here’s what the #1 movie was last week, and here’s why it proves all my notions about why Bush sucks”- every Saturday for two years).
Neither man did much to alter my impressions of him- Franken repeated a lot of lines from the book and his usual talk show appearances, except for a couple of new ones, namely “these people are lying assholes.” I get the impression that Franken wrote “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot” he was just having fun, but now he’s legitimately pissed off. More at Fox News than at Bush, but that’s understandable.
Franken’s nemesis Bill O’Reilly likes to lump Franken in with Michael Moore, just as he does with John Kerry, but that’s really inaccurate. While Franken may be a partisan Democrat with a vitriolic disposition, he’s no where near as left-wing as Moore. But if there’s a mile of sunlight between Franken and Fat Fat Fatty, there’s probably about three feet between the filmmaker and Krugman.
The Princeton professor, formerly a moderate who used to criticize the anti-globalization movement in the NYT’s pages, spent most of his remarks talking about how evil and scary the Bush Administration is, at one point alleging that everyone in every corner of the executive branch makes regular practice of lying with impunity. I talk to government people all the time for work, and while it may be true of a few, it’s laughable to suggest that all 15,000-or-so employees are all conspiring together. He also apparently believes every anti-Bush meme- discredited or not- from the past four years, and seemed to take as a given that the terror alert the other day was wholly fabricated.
All in all, Krugman seemed to not think those people (al-Qaeda) who are trying to kill us all are such a problem, as he only mentioned them once; the one he’s really afraid of is a president who may very well be out of office in five months.
As for the crowd, I’m reminded of this PJ O’Rourke line, from when he attended a Clinton speech last year:
"The members of the audience were slobs. They went to see a former President of the United States in their play-date clothes. They had almost all crossed the meridian of life. Some had sailed far beyond. But the men wore little-boy windbreakers and billow-seated wide-wale corduroys with inseams measured for Yao Ming, of the Houston Rockets. Their sweaters bore patterns that sheep might see on drugs. I counted only seven neckties, including Clinton's, the moderator's, and my own. The women all seemed to make their own jewelry. Some had donned the blowsy knits of the increasingly dowdy New Age. Others were mutton dressed as lamb."
Steven Spielberg has decided to delay production on his next film, “Vengeance,” which was to concern Israel’s response to the killing of eight athletes by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics. I really hope he eventually decides to make it- that’s the sort of thing that would clear at least a 9.0 on the historical Vengeance Scale.
And speaking of Mr. Simmons, he actually broke a story today. Though it looks like he may have held it for awhile so he could finish his column- it was announced as "breaking news," yet he just happened to have a response ready.
“Perhaps she should have taken a less inflammatory position, like, say, "In Defense of Internment: It's Not Like We Gassed Them." Oh, wait, that is her position.-Ana Marie goes off on the woman who once called her a “skank” in print; you’d do the same in her shoes, no? At any rate, I’m honored (along with AMC) to be in the exclusive fraternity of bloggers who have been slammed by Malkin this week for daring to criticize her venomous, hateful ahistorical book.
Rumors continue to abate that Shaquille O’Neal will be called to testify in the Kobe Bryant rape trial- if there is one, that is. But it’s little-known fact that this isn’t the first time Shaq has participated in a sex-crimes case involving a fellow basketball player.
In 1997 Courtney James, who was the starting power forward on that year’s University of Minnesota Final Four team, was arrested and charged with smacking his girlfriend with a phone book. During his trial it was alleged that James’ girlfriend had slept with six different NBA players, one of whom was O’Neal, and the fight in which he struck her had been precipitated by a phone message from Shaq himself. The message? “Yo it’s Shaq, I’ll call you back.”
One of the local radio stations got a hold of the recording and turned it into a rap remix; James was eventually convicted. Don’t expect either of those things to happen in Kobe’s case.
Rick James, RIP. The funniest comedy sketch of the past five years just got a little less funny- that is, if it’s ever broadcast again.
Only the good, indeed, die young. Case in point: Yasser Arafat turned 75 the other day.
My review of the middling "Dodgeball" is online here.
- The Masking Agents
- BALCO Bartokomas
- The Merovingians
- Urine Luck!
- The Wagers of Neuheisel
- Kobe Bryant's Accusers
- The Merkins
- Conte's Eleven
I myself am calling my entry "The Strike Team" this year, but that's only because "The Dreaded Rear Admirals" wouldn't fit on the entry form.
“Is Michelle Malkin ‘gutsy’ and ‘fearless’ and ‘courageous’?
Sure. The same way David Irving is ‘gutsy’ and ‘fearless’ and ‘courageous.’”
-Blogger David Neiwert. Honestly, it’s shocking to me that supposedly intelligent people, such as Glenn Reynolds, are reacting positively to this noxious book, as though it’s actually a legitimate question whether rounding innocent people up and throwing them into camps based on their race and national origin is ever, under any circumstances, an acceptable thing to do. (Eric Muller is reading the book- I guess so you don't have to- and blogging it over at Volokh).
Malkin, clearly, is following the Ann Coulter/’Treason” career path to pundit superstardom: Write a “controversial” book with a thesis that’s morally, politically, and historically indefensible; get invited on to talk shows; defame anyone who objects or disagrees as a "traitor"; and let the money roll in. But then, I don’t think even Ann has ever referred to a blogger’s innocuous, first-impression brush-off of one of her books as a “harsh ad hominem attack.”
Blog: An Unsealed Room
Blogger: Allison Kaplan Sommer
Have I Met Her?: No
Why He’s on the ‘Roll: This American in Israel (and new mom!) has lots of interesting things to say about "the situation" over there.
Best. Post. Ever.: Some words on what the intefada has done to Israeli society.
Blog: Virginia Postrel's Dynamist Blog
Blogger: Virginia Postrel
Have I Met Her?: No
Why She’s on the ‘Roll: The world's most beautiful libertarian, Virginia provides a humorous, very smart take on the issues of the day. She also writes occasionally for the Times on tech stuff; she's make a better op-ed columnist than William Safire, Paul Krugman, Nicholas Kristof, Frank Rich, or Maureen Dowd.
Best. Post. Ever.: Some advice for the aforementioned New York Times.
Blogger: Stephen Green
Have I Met Him?: No
Why He’s on the ‘Roll: An excellent political blogger with a fine appreciation for drink, hence his name; VP is another blog I've been reading literally for years.
Best. Post. Ever.: A passioned defense of pre-marital sex.
Blog: The Volokh Conspiracy
Blogger: Eugene Volokh, et. al
Location: California, mostly
Have I Met Him?: No
Why He’s on the ‘Roll: This great, law-professor-enchanced group blog always provides an intelligent, albeit right-leaning look at the news of the day. A favorite blog of my old professor Jerry Cohen, he told me last year.
Best. Post. Ever.: The story of a certain wiretapping case.
Blog: With Karate I'll Kick Your Ass (WKIKYA)
Blogger: Isaac (LilB)
Have I Met Him?: Yes
Why He’s on the ‘Roll: My old roommate and good friend from college, LilB started his blog the same week as mine, and covers just as eclectic a range of topics- "shit, doody, poop, and bukkake"- as I do. Other favorite topics: Phish, the Red Sox, Santorum, Brandeis girls, the law, and Jeter sucking.
Best. Post. Ever.: Some memorable drinking pictures.
Blogger: Ana Marie Cox
Location: Washington, DC
Have I Met Her?: No, but she e-mailed me once.
Why She’s on the ‘Roll: The most entertaining and popular blogger to emerge thus far in 2004, the telegenic Wonkette has parlayed the blog into an MTV gig, among other mainstream work. On the blog, she still covers such popular topics as "KerrySex," the Democratic nominee's bulge, a certain controversial intern, and (of course), assfucking.
Best. Post. Ever.: This now-legendary photo.
Blogger: Meryl Yourish
Location: Richmond, VA
Have I Met Her?: No
Why She’s on the ‘Roll: One of the more energetic Jewish bloggers, New Jersey native Meryl is always first on top of any anti-Semitic atrocity, at home or abroad. But mostly in France.
Best. Post. Ever.: Some "controversial statements," meant to get her delinked.
Blog: (Protocols of the) Yuppies of Zion
Bloggers: Scott "Doctor Suarez" Ganz; Brooke "Asparagirl" Schrierer
Location: Los Angeles
Have I Met Them?: Brooke yes, Scott no.
Why He’s on the ‘Roll: Two of the first bloggers I ever read (and still two of the best), Brooke and Scott are now married and living out west.
Best. Post. Ever.: Brooke's written some epics over the years, though my favorite is probably this eve-of-Iraq masterpiece asking "Real Women Don't Wage War?" As for Scott, he coined the nickname Fat Fat Fatty in his hilarious 2003 Oscar recap.
For that new Levi's commercial that uses Screamin' Jay Hawkins' version of "I Put a Spell on You"- do Jay's illegitimate children have to split the royalties 57 ways?
"'Shove it' still reverberating"- Washington Times, yesterday.
Talk about bending over backwards to keep a dead story alive. This would be like the Village Voice running a cover story, next month, called “Nation Still in Shock Over Cheney’s ‘Fuck You’”
Also, here's a debunking, once and forever, of the stupid “First and Fourth most liberal senators” meme. I've read ten different "Kerry's not liberal enough" articles since the convention; if he really were a raging lefty, there wouldn't have been more than five.
I haven't been following the Kobe Bryant case much lately- and how can you, when most media attention is being taken up by another good-looking white woman who was murdered by her husband- but the news yesterday was decidedly mixed.
First, a consensus seemed to emerge that the evidence against the Laker star was so weak and the doubts about his accuser so strong that that the case may not even go to trial. But yesterday afternoon, Sports Illustrated reported that a second accuser has come forward, who says Kobe once groped her at a party at Shaquille O’Neal’s house- opening up the possibility that Shaq could end up testifying against his ex-teammate/ex-friend.
I’m not sure what to make of all this, except that as soon as I get cable in my new apartment, I can’t wait for the 40 hours of analysis of the situation from Stephen A. Smith.
Here's a great interview with Robert Smigel in the Onion AV Club, including a detailed description of the genesis of the Triumph character.
Five questions, five answers, all right, in 12 hours. I have smart readers- much smarter than Michelle Malkin’s.
Here we go again:
1. “And the Man ruined the ozone, he's burning down the Amazon, and he kidnapped Shamu and put her in a chlorine tank!”
2. “I'm not capable of being fooled! Not even by a woman.”
3. “When young, we mourn for one woman... as we grow old, for women in general.”
4. “John Dillinger was killed behind that theater in a hale of FBI gunfire. And do you know who tipped them off? His fucking girlfriend. All he wanted to do was go to the movies.”
5. “One morning, over at Elizabeth's beach house, she asked me if I'd rather go water-skiing or lay out. And I realized that not only did I not want to answer THAT question, but I never wanted to answer another water-sports question, or see any of these people again for the rest of my life.”
"Godard's only musical is more relevant than ever. It shows how Irwin Winkler's abysmal 'De-Lovely' (very likely the worst movie this year) brings back the movie musical—and disgraces it... 'De-Lovely' is not only a reference to Cole Porter's song 'It's De-Lovely;' it's a warning—as in de-ceitful, de-crepit, de-fective, de-bilitate and de-fecation."
-Armond White, in New York Press. White already bashed "De-Lovely" once, but he tosses more bile out while reviewing another movie.
1. “Five foot ten, strongly built, about a hundred and eighty pounds; hair blonde, eyes pale blue. He'd be about thirty-five now. He said he lived in Philadelphia, but he may have lied.”
2. “Picture a girl who took a nosedive from the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.”
3. “I don't want more fuckin' pancakes, man. I want to go somewhere I can get a shot and a beer, and a steak, maybe. Hey, I know this place outside Brainerd where we can get laid.”
4. “I will drop-kick those fuckin' dogs if they come near me.”
5. “So they call me Concentration Camp Erhardt?”
Blog: Tainted Bill, aka Leaning Towards the Dark Side
Blogger: Bill McCabe
Location: New Jersey
Have I Met Him?: Yes
Why He’s On The ‘Roll: Bill, a Jersey born-and-bred Mets fan, shares my birthday; we’ve since become friends and he even dates a woman who I introduced him to.
Best. Post. Ever.: His review of “The Passion,” where he chastised people for bringing their babies to a late-night showing of the most violent film of all time.
Blog: The Talking Dog
Blogger: Seth Farber
Have I Met Him?: No
Why He’s On The ‘Roll: No, he’s not actually a dog, but Seth gets inclusion here anyway. Not only was he one of the first bloggers I didn’t know to link to me, but he also did this whole “’Roll Call” thing before I did (only, he called it “The Dog Run.”) Also, the etymology of his blog name comes from a version of the "Icky and Dicky" Joke, which was legend back in my NFTY days.
Best. Post. Ever.: His “Dog Run” description of my blog, of course.
Blog: Talking Points Memo
Blogger: Joshua Micah Marshall
Location: Washington, DC
Have I Met Him?: No, but I did once stand about three feet away at an Andrew Sullivan reading.
Why He’s On The ‘Roll: One of the best liberal political blogs out there, Josh’s sparkles with the wit and skill of a trained journalist. He also played an instrumental part in the fall of Trent Lott as Senate Majority Leader.
Best. Post. Ever.: The Lott thing.
Blog: The Minor Fall, The Major Lift
Location: Somewhere in New York
Have I Met Him?: Could be
Why He’s On The ‘Roll: The celebrated anonymous blogger attacks media and Hollywood with a vengeance- and he’s named after a lyric from a great Leonard Cohen song (though I prefer the Jeff Buckley version).
Best. Post. Ever.: Here he makes fun of that guy who started a blog about his quest to not masturbate for 40 days.
Blog: This Fish (Needs a Bicycle)
Location: New York
Have I Met Her?: Yes
Why She’s On The ‘Roll: I love Fish’s blog because she takes one of the most difficult-to-pull-off blog genres –the big city single-girl confessional- and does it flawlessly. It's never whiney, the prose is great, yet it’s not quite a comprehensive diary- Fish always leaves out just the right amount of information to keep you coming back the next day. And somehow I can relate to it, even as a straight male who can’t stand “Sex and the City.”
Best. Post. Ever.: An explanation of her dating philosophy.
Blog: Tim Blair
Blogger: Tim Blair
Location: Down Under
Have I Met Him?: No
Why He’s On The ‘Roll: This Australian, another one I’d love to have a drink with sometime, covers politics and other cultural stuff with a comedic eye.
Best. Post. Ever.: Tim joins a discussion of “office sports,” by describing his favorite, “Run Away From Gary.”
Blog: Tower of Hubris
Blogger: Christian Finnegan
Location: New York
Have I Met Him?: No
Why He’s On The ‘Roll: Christian is an up-and-coming comic who you’ve probably seen on both “Chappelle’s Show” and “Best Week Ever”; his blog preceded both but he’s still doing it anyway. And best of all, he dates this woman.
Best. Post. Ever.: What Your Favorite Movie Says About You.
Blog: Twins Geek
Blogger: John Bonnes
Have I Met Him?: Yes
Why He’s On The ‘Roll: The original Minnesota Twins blogger, John has given a wickedly funny take on the team for about two years, and this year he moved the blog over to the Star Tribune website. I had lunch with John in Minneapolis last summer, and he’s been kind enough to link over a couple times.
Best. Post. Ever.: An 850-word essay (complete with statistical tables) on the Twins' 2002 off-season signing to a minor-league contract of journeyman relief pitcher Mike Fetters.
Blog: Twisted Spinster
Blogger: Andrea Harris
Have I Met Her?: No
Why She’s On The ‘Roll: She has a whole Movable Type category called “Bitchslaps”- I love that.
Best. Post. Ever.: A “Lord of the Rings” post, one of a couple dozen in January.
(And speaking of blogs, I just wanted to thank Michelle Malkin for taking the time to link over here this morning. Should you see Michelle, please do let her know that I appreciate her support, and the 300 extra hits that came with it.)
” If [ESPN] The Magazine tried to trade me to SI while I was on my honeymoon, and the deal fell through ... well, I'd mail them a Polaroid of my middle finger every couple of weeks.”If I worked for ESPN the Magazine, I’d welcome a trade to SI. Wouldn’t everybody?
Don’t ask. Just go read Bat-Girl.
The Third Annual Length of Manhattan Walk is Sunday, August 22, and I am happy to announce that the charity we’ll be walking for is the Fallen Patriot Fund, which was set up by sports owner/businessman/blogger Mark Cuban in order to aide the families of soldiers who have died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Shoot me an e-mail if you’d like to participate and/or donate.
Here’s our newest over-the-top reactionary conservative book:
I guess it’s for the person on your gift list who’s turned off by the restrained, wishy-washy moderation of Ann Coulter.
Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, this blog’s official favorite dog, apparently made his presence felt at the DNC.
Alan Colmes was locked out of FleetCenter on Thursday night –apparently, even the Democrats realize how worthless he is- but thankfully, it was Triumph to the rescue:
``Thank God they just let the doormat back through the door,'' Triumph barked. ``Get in there and get your butt kicked by Sean Hannity!''
At any rate, Triumph has a new “Best of Triumph” DVD to promote. Can “Best of the Masturbating Bear” be far behind?
19 S’s. Here we go:
Blogger: Sasha Frere-Jones
Location: New York
Have I Met Him? : No
Why He’s On The Roll: A longtime writer for the Village Voice, Sasha (yes, he's a dude) recently became the New Yorker’s official music critic. The blog has music writing, along with some excellent photography.
Best. Post. Ever.: This, which is (I think) a parody of that Nigerian e-mail scam.
Blog: Sanity’s Edge
Have I Met Him? : No
Why He’s On The Roll: Another funny comedy blog from the Bloviating Inanities stable.
Best. Post. Ever.: His brilliant “how to blog” series from earlier this year, featuring such advice as “Coming soon: Blogroll Policy, Melodrama, Hiatus and Threatening to Quit.”
Blog: The Sardonic Subversive
Blogger: Matthew Sheren
Location: Canada/New Jersey
Have I Met Him? : No
Why He’s On The Roll: A New Jersey native who went to college in Montreal, Matt shares all sorts of keen insights on sports, politics, and the US/Canada divide.
Best. Post. Ever.: A tribute to the Sports Guy (see below).
Blog: Scott Keith’s Blog of Doom
Blogger: Scott Keith
Have I Met Him? : No
Why He’s On The Roll: Long a leader in the internet’s pro-wrestling community (and with several books on the subject to his credit), Scott has turned his attention to a blog, where he covers TV and other pop culture in addition to wrestling.
Best. Post. Ever.: A review of the most recent “24” season finale, and the comments are great too.
Blog: Scrolling Through the Madness
Blogger: Aaron Kardon
Location: New Jersey
Have I Met Him? : Yes
Why He’s On The Roll: My college pal Aaron started out on Blogspot a few months ago before switching over to something called “Mindsay”- it’s his fiance’s server, you see.
Best. Post. Ever. : Some analysis of that recent Scarsdale sex tape scandal, straight from a Scarsdale native.
Blog: Senor Sneer
Location: South Dakota (my mother’s home state)
Have I Met Him? : No
Why He’s On The Roll: Wes re-started his formerly-defunct blog just to join in the ‘Roll Call. That’s why.
Best. Post. Ever.: This one, I’d say, says it all.
Blog: The Seth Bulletin
Blogger: Seth D. Michaels
Location: Boston area
Have I Met Him? : Yes
Why He’s On The Roll: Another guy I went to Brandeis with, Seth D. was my colleague both on The Justice and the comedy troupe Boris’ Kitchen, where he once wrote a wicked Mamet parody called “Two Old White Men Argue.” Since college he’s become accomplished in both comedy and journalism.
Best. Post. Ever.: Seth doesn’t post much anymore, but when he does he’s got some very cogent political analysis from the left, such as this look at ‘Fahrenheit.’
Blog: Seth Speaks
Blogger: Seth Stohs
Have I Met Him? : No
Why He’s On The Roll: This Twins (and other other Minnesota sports) fan provides intricately detailed game recaps, as well as analysis of movies and TV shows.
Best. Post. Ever.: An exclusive Father’s Day message from Lew Ford’s dad.
Blog: Sheila A-Stray’s Redheaded Ramblings
Blogger: Sheila O’Malley
Location: Weehawken, NJ
Have I Met Her? : Yes
Why She’s On The Roll: At one point we were the only two bloggers in Hoboken, and while neither of us remain there we’ve since become real-life friends. And our ten-person field trip to opening night of “The Passion of the Christ” remains legendary.
Best. Post. Ever.: An exegesis on Hoboken bar girls (more on them later), which I’m probably linking to now for the fourth or fifth time.
Blog: Short Strange Trip
Have I Met Him? : No
Why He’s On The Roll: If for no other reason, because he helped set me up on MT, though Joe’s blog is still pretty good on its own merits.
Best. Post. Ever.: An Alanis Morrissette homage.
Blog: A Shot in the Dark
Have I Met Him? : No
Why He’s On The Roll: This right-leaning Minnesota blogger, who parlayed his blog success into an upstart radio network, also played a role in the exposure of the Plain Layne hoax (the author turned out to be a former co-worker of his).
Best. Post. Ever.: The Plain Layne thing
Blogger: Simone Koo
Location: New York (formerly DC)
Have I Met Her? : No
Why She’s On The Roll: This Georgetown grad interpolates smart economic analysis with gorgeous fashion photographs of herself. It’s an approach I wish more female bloggers would try.
Best. Post. Ever.: Another anti-Michael Moore post.
Blog: A Small Victory
Blogger: Michele Catallano
Location: Long Island
Have I Met Her? : No
Why She’s On The Roll: Generally considered one of the most influential bloggers in the 'sphere, Michele emerged post-9/11 as a powerful voice of emotion and anger, and has carried it all the way up to the present.
Best. Post. Ever.: A wonderful post about what really happened on 9/11.
Location: New York
Have I Met Her? : No
Why She’s On The Roll: Part of the coterie of NYC lady bloggers that’s well-represented here in the ‘Roll Call, Deb tells hilarious, very personal stories about the city, most of which involve her boyfriend Alex (hence the name). She also recommended Vinnie the Mover, making me quite glad, several months later, that I decided to read her that day.
Best. Post. Ever.: A subway story. ‘cause we’ve all been there.
Blog: Somatesthesia, aka Containdications and Love Songs
Have I Met Her? : Yes
Why She’s On The Roll: Another Brandeis contemporary of mine who I don’t remember ever meeting, med student Julia took the opposite life path as me, moving from the East Coast to the Midwest. She’s both openly gay, and openly a Nets fan.
Best. Post. Ever.: Not much lately, but I’m partial to this birthday post.
Blog: Something’s Always Wrong
Blogger: Jeremy Wahlman
Location: Brookline, Mass.
Have I Met Him? : Yes
Why He’s On The Roll: I’d say it’s because his blog was my idea. A friend of mine going back to high school, Jeremy followed pretty much the same career trajectory I did (grow up in Minnesota/write for the Echo/go to college in Boston/get job as ajournalist/lose job/start blog/get another job as a journalist), except now he edits hockey highlights for a living.
Best. Post. Ever.: The time when he took credit (accurately) for a piece by Michael Lewis in Sports Illustrated.
Blogger: Ben Fritz, Brendan Nyhan, etc.
Have I Met Them?: Now
Why They’re On the ‘Roll This excellent, totally nonpartisan site tackles- and debunks- political spin from all sides. If you’re like me and can’t stand bullshit whether it comes from Michael Moore or Michelle Malkin, this is the site for you.
Best. Post. Ever.: Their now-legendary takedown of “Bowling For Columbine.”
Blog: Sporadic Thoughts
Location: Waltham (until recently)
Have I Met Her?: No
Why She’s On the ‘Roll This blog has become even more sporadic since Dahlia graduated Brandeis in May, but she previously provided interesting analysis both of politics and the ‘deis scene, especially last fall’s near- race riot.
Best. Post. Ever.: Dahlia laughing at an “anti-hate” rally.
Blog: Sports Guy’s World (More Cowbell)
Blogger: Bill Simmons
Have I Met Him?: If only.
Why He’s On the ‘Roll The blogger-turned-columnist-turned-TV-writer has finally come full circle and has returned to writing a blog-like column for ESPN.com. Simmons gets the current generation of sports fans the way few others have- and when all is said and done, he may very well be remembered as the most influential sportswriter of his generation.
Best. Post. Ever.: There are so many dozens of classics to choose from, but I’ve gotta go with the column from the day after the Sox lost to the Yankees in last year’s ALCS. “If the Red Sox were a girl, you’d probably just break up with them” really boils the Simmons sensibility down into one sentence.
“Also, I think ESPN: The Magazine is a pretty terrible sports magazine, so I almost feel flattered to be called "smarmy" and "punchable" in its oversized, over-designed pages. If Rick Reilly dissed me in SI, of course, I'd cry my eyes out.”-Jeopardy champ Ken Jennings, who is right even though he’s bashing Bill Simmons. Because if you've won Jeopardy that many times in a row, you're not wrong about a whole lot.
I’m a Manhattanite once again, thanks to Vinnie the Mover and his excellent crew. I’ll be back tomorrow with the continuation of the ‘Roll Call, as well as a long, personal, totally-inconsistent-with-this-blog remembrance of my Hoboken years.
I generally liked it; not the best one of the convention (he comes in behind Obama, Clinton, and Edwards), but it had two or three good lines, and in it the senator did nothing that would cost him my vote. Still, Teresa looked to be heavily medicated during her husband’s speech- does she remind anyone of Karen from “Will & Grace”?
And speaking of inebriated women with too much money, I missed about five minutes of the speech because my friends were on the balcony, pointing/laughing at some drunken yuppie chick across the street who was trying to parallel-park.
All in all, a successful convention for the Democrats. I don’t expect to enjoy the RNC version quite as much, probably because of the risk I’ll have of getting tear-gassed on my way home from work.
New York blogger Stephanie Klein has hit the big-time, as she’s the subject of a profile/excerpt in the London newspaper The Independent, which calls her “the Internet Queen of Manhattan.” It means that Stephanie is sharing a publication with the infamous left-wing journalist Robert Fisk (he of “fisking”), though I’ve met Steph, and she’s considerably better-looking than Fisk.
The piece is likely to earn her all sorts of fans across the pond, and another commenter shares that “all these people have been finding my site by searching for you from that time I anaylzed your explanation of getting your ninny waxed.”
Another extremely honest blogger who often writes about “ninnies,” albeit using much more salacious terminology, is this man, who calls himself “Steve, the Mildly Unwell Bastard” (no, it’s not me). Like Slurm, this sex blog is highly addictive, I warn you, though for Steve’s sake I really hope he’s changing LOTS of identifying details. Some of the activities described therein (namely, schtupping one’s 17-year-old secretary) tend to be frowned upon by human resources personnel and law-enforcement authorities.
”She is Catwoman, even though she bears little resemblance to the Catwoman from the Batman universe. It's like naming a movie ‘Spider-Man’ because it's about a guy with eight legs who shoots silk out of his ass.”
Things to be happy about: Randy Johnson is not a Yankee. Nomar, if he had to leave Boston, at least landed with a marquee franchise with great fans who will appreciate him. And the Yankees and White Sox, two teams I’m hoping to see crash, exchanged undependable starting pitchers.
Thing to not be happy about: The only thing the Twins got for my favorite player on the team, Doug Mientkiewicz, was a low-level pitching prospect, and this after leaving him hanging for a whole week. Well, at least Doug got two hits in his last game with the team, before turning around and getting two more hits, against the Twins, in his Red Sox debut (how many people have done that, getting two multi-hit games for both teams in the same series?) At any rate, the Sox seem to be collecting former Minnesota first basemen: they’ve got three ex-Twins (Doug, David Ortiz, and David McCarty), as well as an ex-Saint (Kevin Millar).
As for Kris Benson, I was wondering how long it would take the New York tabs to notice his wife Anna, and the answer was “the next day.” The Daily News put her on the front page the day after the trade, and the Post followed today with an expose that revealed Kris and Anna’s penchant for public sex. Like the Reagan obits, these pieces were probably written months ago, you know, just in case Benson ever got traded to a New York team.
Feeling the way I do about Michael Moore, I read the following Sports Illustrated item about Iraq’s Olympic soccer team with interest:
"It was amazing the way the news flew through this city and how everyone felt a sense of pride," says Mounzer Fatfat, an American who has worked as a senior adviser on rebuilding sports in Iraq. "Iraqis love soccer, and the fact that this team fought its way into the Olympics was something everyone rallied around. For a few hours nothing else seemed to matter."
Aimee Plumley’s NYC Anti-Hipster Forum is back, this time drawing a sharp distinction between “political people” and “non-political people,” one that is, I believe, an even bigger chasm than the one between Democrats and Republicans.