From EW's Feb. 5 issue, in an article about why nobody has bothered to do another Fletch movie:
Gregord Mcdonald created the character of Irwin Maurice Fletcher while working as a journalist for The Boston Globe. The Harvard-educated Mcdonald joined the paper in 1966 and was given what sounds like the best job in the world -- or in journalism at least. "Go and have fun and write about it," his editor instructed him. "And if you end up cut and bleeding on the sidewalk, call the office." Over the next few years, Mcdonald reported from both sides of society's suddenly chasm-like generation gap, writing about John Wayne, war protesters, Vietnam vets, and On the Road author Jack Kerouac, with whom he went barhopping.
1. People used to get a paycheck for that? Shit, the '60s were a fuckin' fantasy land.
2. Which editor decided that EW readers need to be reminded who Jack Kerouac is?
Years ago we were happy to advance plenty of subscription money to Jane magazine, with the understanding that we'd accept the nifty rag into our home for several more years, even after Jane Pratt had turned it over to somebody who wasn't nearly as interesting. Then the Pratt-less Jane went away, and we started getting this piece of shit, because Condé Nast was, uh, kind enough to honor its obligations:
Fuck, what a shitty publication. I like looking at women's magazines. Media is media. But when I open this one, it feels like an endless sorority "friends" collage made by a batshit returning-adult student who still considers herself to be a hot, social co-ed. Except, y'know, it's not even interesting in an anthropological way. It's just batshit.
I think our Jane money is finally running out, though, because Condé Nast has been bombarding our mailbox with Glamour re-up offers. Fuck that.
Ditto for Maxim, which seems to be the replacement for Blender, another dead glossy that was absolutely the best in its small, increasingly irrelevant class -- and thus well worth the 10 bucks a year. I dunno how long Maxim is gonna keep showing up as a Blender proxy, but I keep thinking to myself: "This is slightly more useful than Glamour." And I probably think that way only because I'm a heterosexual dude. Still, though, shit is shit.
Arthur Magazine has shat on my money at least twice, because almost every time I've sent them a check, they've stopped publishing their punky-hippie rag soon after they got my cash. Good luck trying to squeeze a refund from those dudes, especially now that the print version has been killed dead. But enough sour grapes: They can keep the filthy lucre, because their new Web site is a little thin, and I'm a philanthropist at heart. For now, I'm finding the site more convenient than I ever expected. To wit: I routinely skipped the Bull Tongue column by Byron "I Will Always Be Cooler Than You" Coley and Thurston "I Will Always Be Cooler Than Byron Coley" Moore, because it was basically back-of-the-book fodder, even though both of those motherfuckers are seminal. But online, the reruns of that shit are short-attention-span gold, I tell ya.
A quasi-important, possibly unemployed mediaperson started The Daily Beast, which is -- oh no! -- as fusty and lame as Slate is, but it's newer, so that theoretically counts for something. The Daily Beast only lets black people write about hip-hop, unless the person writes short or writes about a Radiohead/Kayne mashup.
I think I'm tired of Ira Glass, but that doesn't mean I dislike him. And, funny enough, he kinda has a similar view of Rush Limbaugh:
“Rush is just an amazing radio performer,” says Ira Glass, a star of the younger generation of public-radio personalities. “Years ago, I used to listen in the car on my way to reporting gigs, and I’d notice that I disagreed with everything he was saying, yet I not only wanted to keep listening, I actually liked him. That is some chops. You can count on two hands the number of public figures in America who can pull that trick off.”
Glass compares Limbaugh to another exceptional free-form radio monologist, Howard Stern. “A lot of people dismiss them both as pandering and proselytizing and playing to the lowest common denominator, but I think that misses everything important about their shows,” he says. “They both think through their ideas in real time on the air, they both have a lot more warmth than they’re generally given credit for, they both created an entire radio aesthetic.” (NYT Magazine)
I think I'm tired of Stern, too.
And I know you think I'm lazy and lame for quoting last Sunday's magazine on a Thursday.
It's a circle of frickin' love around here, I tell ya.
That I love the City Paper's neighborhood map? I'd even argue that it's better (albeit more parochial) than the "stan" map that ran on the cover of the New Yorker a few years ago. (The CP's neighborhoods issue, as a whole, is a classic example of "workin' well with what you got when the bossman orders somethin' up.")
Hey all you bigtime rock 'n' roll social-networking whores: Are you just searchin' for equilibrium? (You know who you are.) Catching up on old New Yorkers, I came across this Oct. 9, 2006, passage from Milan Kundera:
... a man becomes famous when the number of people who know him is markedly greater than the number he knows. The recognition enjoyed by a great surgeon is not fame; he is admired not by a public but by his patients, by his colleagues. He lives in equilibrium. Fame is a disequilibrium. There are professions that drag it along behind them necessarily, unavoidably: politicians, supermodels, athletes, artists.
And thus, Myspace. Of course, my little half-baked corollary ignores the fact that most heavily networked superstars don't actually *know* all of their friended individuals. Still, I believe that somewhere, there's a pop god who just feels better knowing that he can call these folks Pals.
If you watched a lot of Channel 11 and Channel 9 when you were a kid -- that's WPIX-TV and WOR-TV to all you uncultured heathens who studied way too much -- then you know about Crazy Eddie. You may have googled him; I never did. A few months ago, when I got into a discussion about "the most obnoxious New Yorkers of the 1980s," his name came up pretty quickly after we dispensed with the usual suspects (Trump-Sharpton-Koch-Stern-Sliwa-Steinbrenner-etc.). Still, I didn't bother to do any research. So, y'know, thank you New York Times Magazine and your story about the tightness of the Syrian Jews in Brooklyn:
For many years, the most famous SY in the world was Eddie Antar, known professionally as Crazy Eddie. In the ’70s, he revolutionized the home electronics business and created an empire.
Nobody did retail theater better than Crazy Eddie. His souk-smart salesmen — many of them relatives and friends from the enclave — choreographed the shopping experience, waltzing the zboon (SY slang for “customer”) in well-rehearsed steps toward the be’aah, the sale. His ads (“His prices are insane!”) were commercial performance art. And when he was caught defrauding his investors for almost $100 million dollars and subsequently fled to Israel, Eddie provided an international drama that ended in extradition and prison.
The Crazy Eddie case became a cause célèbre, shattering longstanding community rules of silence and decorum. Eddie’s J-Dub wife, Diane, caught him in flagrante delicto with his mistress, who also happened to be a J-Dub named Diane, on the last day of December 1983 — a confrontation remembered among old-timers as the New Year’s Eve massacre. The massacre was a real bean-spiller, and it was followed by the testimony of Eddie’s first cousin (and partner and C.F.O.) Sam E. Antar on how the illegal schemes had been carried out. This gave the United States Attorney prosecuting the case, Michael Chertoff, (now the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security), more than enough to work with. Eddie went away for six years.
Unlike the late Toussie, however, Eddie Antar was not expelled from the community. In fact, both Sam and Eddie live in the enclave today. Sam has a simple explanation. “They don’t usually take back rats,” he told me. “But everybody in our community knew that Eddie was setting me up to take the fall, especially after he skipped out to Israel leaving me holding the bag. I had worked for the Antar family my whole life. But because of the betrayal factor, I haven’t been ostracized. There was no edict against me.” As for Eddie, he is still considered mi’shelanu, “one of us.” “He did his time,” Sam said. “He paid the price. That’s the way people see it.”
He paid the price. But his customers didn't. Antar wasn't in those TV commercials, though. It was a radio DJ, Jerry "Dr. Jerry" Carroll. Youtube:
This is one of those sentences that you read, and then you read it again, and you're like, "uh, so what are you really saying here?" And I don't mean the Jacques Lacan reference:
The experience of watching "Funny Games" is not unlike watching snuff-porn clips late at night in your bedroom, only to have your mother or Jacques Lacan switch the light on periodically without the slightest warning.
The sentence comes from John Wray's NYT mag article about Michael Haneke, director of "Caché." I dunno about you, but I'm going to assume that Wray actually watches a lot of snuff-porn clips in his bedroom, and that he hates to be interrupted while doing so.
Me? I'd be like, "come on in, Jacques, this evil, totally illegal and unequivocally immoral flick is like, totally awesome, and everybody should experience it, so when they read a bad metaphor or simile that uses the phrase 'snuff porn,' they'll know exactly what the writer is talking about."
Unless Wray means, y'know, fake snuff porn. But I'm not about to Google for some of that.
UPDATE: Wikipedia to the rescue.
This latest issue of EW has been on my coffee table for a few days now, and I've decided that it skeeves me out, in a way that few EW covers do, including this one. Does anybody really care about Kate Walsh, or do they feel obligated to care about her, because she was on a lame hospital show that treated the female viewing public like a giant pavlovian dog, and everybody with a vagina then slobbered accordingly, but now nobody wants to admit that the show actually blows, and so therefore they must paradoxically embrace the spinoff because rejecting it would possibly be a backhanded admission that "Gray's Anatomy" was some cheesy ol' TV bullshit?
I want to ignore her so badly, but there she is, lookin' kinda manly, with a vacant stare that says, "I'm so buying a new house with this dough."
Sometimes I just give her the finger.
When reading about apartment "stager" Jill Vegas, I couldn't help but think, those books don't belong to anyone. Sure, they belong to Vegas' business, but they'll probably never be read, unless the enterprise goes under and the furnishings are liquidated. And what is a book that will never be read? [Insert quip about a bad author here.]
So I say: Infiltrate staged apartments and liberate the books. Who's gonna notice, right?
Still catching up on all the shit I didn't read last year. Johnny Knoxville in Blender:
Whose idea was it to use The Minutemen's "Corona" as the Jackass theme?
That one was mine. I also suggested “Bastards of Young” by the Replacements and the Flaming Lips’ “Turn It On,” but the Minutemen song works great — just a few seconds of that guitar sound and you know something’s happening. Like when you hear the Jaws theme, when you hear this, it means “Here comes Pontius’s cock.”
OK, duh, newspaper and magazine sites still haven't figured out how to sell enough advertising. The real "duh," however, is the fundamental structure used to display the ads -- i.e. not the shape of the ads themselves, but the rigidity of news sites' overall layout. Take this massive piece about Pope Benedict XVI in the NYT mag, for instance. If you click through all 10 pages of the article, you're likely to see the Netflix and Porsche ads a couple of times, in the exact same spot on the page. It's easy to mentally edit them out, no matter how much animation they have. My brain knows to ignore them. In fact, I didn't know the ads were for Netflix or Porsche until I went back and consciously observed them.
In the print version (which I haven't seen, because we halted the papers for a couple of weekends), you'd probably follow the article over-and-around a varied layout of advertisements, all of which probably would appear only once in the magazine itself.
(Yes, I read the entire pope article.)
Anyway, I'd probably be more likely to look at those print ads, if only because of the element of soft surprise: The shapes and placements would be varied enough that my eye would be distracted on occasion. That rarely happens on the Web, except maybe when there's a Mac-vs.-PC commercial playing on a newspaper's home page. (And perhaps that's why it's such an effective campaign: The concept is easy to absorb in any format.)
Of course, there's an obvious reason why every page of that pope article -- and every other NYT mag cover story -- is laid out exactly the same on the Web: If you're running the New York Times site, it's too time-consuming and/or labor intensive to construct and maintain a separate layout for each page. So you're stuck with a template that permits a banner ad and a right-rail area with two other square-ish ads. I won't be clicking on any of that crap.
So, what's the solution? I say people with big brainz should develop some sort of layout-variation software that allows a highly automated site to alter its geometry from page to page without human effort. It wouldn't override stylesheets or other base-level design elements, just the layout. You could calibrate it to affect only multi-page articles, or only section fronts, or whatever.
It's almost necessary at this point: I'm completely turned off by animated Web ads, and I know I'm not alone. The second I see any motion, I think, "this is a hard sell, and I should ignore it." A good print ad -- a combination of an easily digestible image and a bit of mystery or artistry -- works so much better. It's not necessarily a distraction -- it's a pause in the content. So there ya have it: Varying the layout of a news site might eliminate the need for gimmicky, motion-packed ads. I'd be a good little consumer.
Get on it, people.
(I'm sure there's an academic paper on this topic somewhere. But you wouldn't read that, would you?)
So, did "The Sopranos" change television forever, or did "Twin Peaks" get there first? David Chase, via Peter Biskind in Vanity Fair:
"I didn't really watch much television until the first season of Twin Peaks, in 1990," [Chase] explains. "That was an eye-opener for me. There's mystery in everything David Lynch does. I don't mean, Who killed Laura Palmer? There's a whole other level of stuff going on, this sense of the mysterious, of the poetic, that you see in great painting, that you see in foreign films, that's way more than the sum of its parts. I didn't see that on television. I didn't see anybody even trying it."
I know I'm not the only knucklehead who regularly trumpets the impact of "TP," but it's probably time to give it the same "seminal work" cred that applies to all those ancient epics that populate comp-lit classes. Chase yaks a lot about Fellini, too, of course. But we're talkin' about TV here.
I'm not buying the argument that "300" is somehow a "surprise smash." EW makes it seem as though the film's box-office take is completely inexplicable. Uh, no. This one was bulletproof from the get-go, for obvious reasons. I don't even have to see it to know why.
On that note, here's the handy Pop Cesspool Guide To Whether Or Not A History-Based Action Movie Will Sell A Lot Of Tickets:
1. Is it about honor and glory and shit like that?
2. Lotsa people be gettin' killed and stuff?
3. Awesome slow-mo?
4. Can girlfriends be convinced that it's artistic and whatnot?
5. Is the history part just kinda incidental?
6. Would dudes wanna get smoked-up to see it?
If your movie hits all six hot-points, you're golden, bro.
Why are Entertainment Weekly's "members-only" marketing e-mails always written as if the recipient is a drooling 4th grader instead of a self-satisfied pop-culture nerd? To wit:
The Number 23, directed by Joel Schumacher, starring Jim Carry and Virginia Madsen, is in theaters on 2/23 and is a must see. This dark psychological thriller stars Jim Carrey as a man whose life unravels after he and his wife come into contact with the obscure book titled "The Number 23." As he reads the book, he becomes increasingly convinced that his life is based on the number 23 - and that the book is actually based on his life. He becomes obsessed and consumed with the book and the number 23 and begins to realize the book forecasts far graver consequences for his life than he could have imagined.
This film is based on the "23 Enigma" - the belief that all incidents and events are connected to the number 23.
"And that is why George Washington is considered a great president. The end."
The New York Times Magazine's Year in Ideas issue is one of the truly great on-the-toilet reads. Sometimes I am smarter than they are, however. Take the idea of "reverse graffiti." Yeah, I see the cleverness of Paul Curtis' street art. But at the same time, I'd argue that the first kid who scraped "WASH ME" on the back of a dirty white truck is probably the bigger genius.
At first, "Federer As Religious Experience" seems to be yet another highbrow, virtues-extolling sports feature by a famous essayist. Sure, the piece's writer, David Foster Wallace, is the thinky type, but despite all the literary mechanisms in his nonfiction stuff, he's an entertainer at heart, and entertainment is what mass-market sports writing should provide at all times. But this piece ultimately isn't about Roger Federer, or about entertaining you, gentle reader. It's about what gets Foster Wallace all horny.
On the surface, he constantly seems ready to fellate Federer, and the piece definitely is more outwardly and specifically loving than your standard sports-personality profile, which is usually written by an ethically conscious beat writer who doesn't want to seem too cozy with his subject. But Foster Wallace, who is no stranger to tennis (read portions of "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again"), is too smart to simply focus his man-love on a mere mortal. No, "Federer As Religious Experience" is really a giant blowjob of tennis itself, with descriptions of multi-shot rallies and elemental techniques that are equivalent to Penthouse Letters:
Imagine that you, a tennis player, are standing just behind your deuce corner’s baseline. A ball is served to your forehand — you pivot (or rotate) so that your side is to the ball’s incoming path and start to take your racket back for the forehand return. Keep visualizing up to where you’re about halfway into the stroke’s forward motion; the incoming ball is now just off your front hip, maybe six inches from point of impact. Consider some of the variables involved here. On the vertical plane, angling your racket face just a couple degrees forward or back will create topspin or slice, respectively; keeping it perpendicular will produce a flat, spinless drive. Horizontally, adjusting the racket face ever so slightly to the left or right, and hitting the ball maybe a millisecond early or late, will result in a cross-court versus down-the-line return. Further slight changes in the curves of your groundstroke’s motion and follow-through will help determine how high your return passes over the net, which, together with the speed at which you’re swinging (along with certain characteristics of the spin you impart), will affect how deep or shallow in the opponent’s court your return lands, how high it bounces, etc.
Throw some twigs-and-berries in there, some firm buttocks, a heaving DD rack and a hot mouth or two, and you're rollin'. And just in case you aren't paying attention, he drops this in at the end:
You should have seen, on the grounds’ outside courts, the variegated ballet that was this year’s Junior Wimbledon. Drop volleys and mixed spins, off-speed serves, gambits planned three shots ahead — all as well as the standard-issue grunts and booming balls.
I hate to snicker like a 12-year-old, but you kinda get the point. We all have our weak spots.
Many Brooklyn residents are seeking refuge from the
'hipster treadmill,' says one counselor.
'BROOK-ANON' PROGRAM TARGETS RECOVERING N.Y. HIPSTERS
NEW YORK (PCNN) -- A program modeled on 12-step recovery groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous is offering support services to weary Brooklyn hipsters.
The "Brook-Anon" program allows young, trendy borough dwellers the chance "to get off the hipster treadmill and reclaim their own identities," said Susan Murray-Keeler, a youth counselor and co-founder of the program. "We help them to confront the emptiness inside."
Like AA and NA, Brook-Anon asks members to share their experiences and make a series of commitments on the road to recovery. But the focus is not on substance abuse or spiritual growth, Murray-Keeler said. "We work a little bit more from the outside-in," she said. "We might start by asking a hipster to abandon a certain T-shirt line or groom themselves in a more traditional way."
About a dozen hipsters attended a BA meeting last week in a church basement. The introductions would be familiar to anyone who has observed a 12-step program.
"Hi, I'm Jill, and I'm a hipster," said a thin 24-year-old woman wearing a snug white tank top, well-worn jeans and chartreuse Pumas. "I can't stop trying to be cooler than everyone else. It was a struggle to dress plainly to come here tonight. I know it's unhealthy, but I'm afraid that if I leave Brooklyn, my life will be over."
The group leader, who asked not to be identified, responded with a comment about the relationship between consumer habits and hipsterism. "When is the last time you opened up a Land's End catalog?" he asked. The woman did not respond.
Few Brooklynites have actually completed the program, Murray-Keeler said. "It's so new, and these kids are so entrenched, but they know they need help," she said. "A few of them are almost ready to sponsor other people in the program, but it's slow going."
The problem, she said, is that other hipsters are often glad when their friends drop out of the lifestyle. Carson Agyar, a Brooklyn-based psychologist, agrees. When a person commits to Brook-Anon, the backlash is often strong, and it can be alarming, he said.
"Hipsters are a different breed. They're not supportive in any way," Agyar said. "If you're a hipster, and your friend doesn't want to be in the scene anymore, you're going to be pretty happy about it. It's one less hipster that you have to compete with."
The result is that people near the end of Brook-Anon's 12 steps often regress when they realize that most of their relationships were based merely on a shared appreciation for boutique consumer goods.
"I kept saying to myself, 'I loved these people, so why is it so easy to move on?'" said one 22-year-old man. "I dropped out of the program for awhile and really got hipsterish, just searching for an answer. But I never found one. I recommitted, and I've been clean three months now."
Murray-Keeler said the program might be extended to parts of Queens, as well as other cities.
Kevin Spacey's movie about Bobby Darin was so friggin' unwatchable that perhaps my respect for the NYT mag's year-end obit about Sandra Dee is a little inflated. Or maybe not -- on second thought, I'd say the piece comes correct in any context. Read up.
I'm too dumb to work for US Weekly. So, back to the grind I go. Now, where were we? Oh yeah, I'm really surprised that people lined up to vociferously defend the rap stilo of Chris Parnell. It's like vociferously defending the screen presence of Tim Kazurinsky.
Per the instructions of "Dave" in the comments section of the previous post, I have decided to pursue a career at US Weekly. I can't possibly get my portfolio together while writing for Pop Cesspool. Something had to give.
If US Weekly fails to hire me, I will start publishing Pop Cesspool again.
Damn, I should've never gone after Parnell.
Every month I get Spin (yeah, after all these years), and every month I gamely start reading Dave Eggers' column. I get about 10 words into it, and I give up. There's no anger and no higher thought process to it; my rejection is based purely on instinct.
I just figured out why: Eggers' music writing seems to ooze ambivalence. Maybe it's because his column directly follows Chuck Klosterman's, which is: a) usually funny, b) usually insightful, and c) usually the perfect length. Eggers writes long, he's not deft with the rock 'n' roll comedy, and he often buries the lead. I say this, perhaps, only because I can't recall any of his columns getting to the point or being funny right away. Granted, not all of the best humor pieces are instantly comical, and not all rock writing has to be funny (I'm guilty as charged). But Spin isn't a literary rag or an essay collection -- it's a rock joint that I read joyfully on the crapper, or when I come home drunk, or both. I want instant gratification, yo. Eggers' pieces totally deflate the magazine experience.
More importantly, my gut tells me that he's on the verge of no longer being much of a rock fan. Everybody has their own mid-youth crisis. His is like, boring.
Philly Mag on professional loudmouth Stephen A. Smith, who also happens to be one of the few good reasons to watch "Sportscenter" these days: "in college ... [Smith] wrote an editorial about how the school's basketball coach should retire, while [he] was playing on the basketball team" Smith on himself: "When you say, 'Stephen A., you don't know what the hell you're talking about, you're a shitty-ass columnist,' I choose to say, Fuck you too. I know what I am. I don't give a damn what you think about me." (via Romenesko)
Somebody should do a broad analysis that compares the flows of Jay-Z and the late Anthony Hecht. I can hear a little Jigga in this passage from Hecht's "Spring Break," which appeared on p. 61 of the 9/13/04 New Yorker. Hecht sets a scene of Daytona debauchery, then chucks the old folks at ya:
They are viewed by dry, bird-wristed, blue rinsed crones
With diamond rings and teeth of Klondike gold
Mounted on a frail armature of bones;
Their hatted husbands, once, perhaps, adored,
Now paunchy, rheumatoid, and feeling old,
Who joust at chess, assault at shuffleboard
Hove might throw this back at him:
I'm like Che Guevara with bling on, I'm complex
I never claimed to have wings on
Nigga I get my by-any-means on
Whenever there's a drought
Get your umbrellas out because that's when I brainstorm
The old guys might actually win the bling battle in this one — their cycles of drought and storm are over. The only by-any-meansing they're doing involves prescription hard-on drugs.
From "The Roach That Failed"
It wasn't until after the bait had been on the market for a few years that entomologists discovered why they worked so well: even if only 20 percent of an infestation fed on them, lethal doses would remain in their feces and carcasses, which would be fed upon by other roaches back in the cracks and narrow passages where they live.
Bold coolhunting prediction: As the insects become less and less of a nuisance, wistful urbanite hipsters will sport roach-logo T-shirts as a retro nod to times when cities were way buggier. Also, one day the Defend Brooklyn logo might be able to carry the image of a nonlethal weapon.
First they plugged "The Butterfly Effect," and now this:
Entertainment Weekly and Island Records celebrate the release of the LIONEL RICHIE album, "Just For You," in stores now!
Yes, and quite a few copies of that album will be staying in the stores.
I trade old magazines with a co-worker. He gets the out-of-date EWs, and I get a Rolling Stone or two. RS is total shite these days, of course, but once in awhile they score. I liked the one that had 50 rockers writing about 50 legends. About half of the pairings were cheesy or pointless (e.g. Eddie Vedder on The Who), but I particularly enjoyed these three: Steve Cropper on Otis Redding (the picture alone is awesome), Questlove on Prince (dig the micro-exegesis of "When Doves Cry") and Dave Grohl on Led Zeppelin (a little overdone, but there's a nice riff on John Bonham).
Keyboardist Sarah Stolfa, if you happened to enjoy The Delta 72. Her pictures of patrons at Philly bar McGlinchy's (where she bartends) just won the NYT mag's college-student photographer contest. Good stuff. The D72 pretty much hit its peak with The R&B Of Membership, back when everybody thought Gregg Foreman, Jon Spencer and Ian Svenonius should've had a retro-rock battle royale, just to cut the scenester tension a tad.
Maybe we should all be somewhat freaked out by the concept of micropayment -- it might be a decent way for creative people to make a buck from their smallest efforts, but where does that leave us in the long run? From the NYT Magazine:
In opposition to the cultural commons stands the "permission culture," an epithet the Copy Left uses to describe the world it fears our current copyright law is creating. Whereas you used to own the CD or book you purchased, in the permission culture it is more likely that you'll lease (or "license") a song, video or e-book, and even then only under restrictive conditions: read your e-book, but don't copy and paste any selections; listen to music on your MP3 player, but don't burn it onto a CD or transfer it to your stereo. The Copy Left sees innovations like iTunes, Apple's popular online music store, as the first step toward a society in which much of the cultural activity that we currently take for granted -- reading an encyclopedia in the public library, selling a geometry textbook to a friend, copying a song for a sibling -- will be rerouted through a system of micropayments in return for which the rights to ever smaller pieces of our culture are doled out. "Sooner or later," predicts Miriam Nisbet, the legislative counsel for the American Library Association, "you'll get to the point where you say, 'Well, I guess that 25 cents isn't too much to pay for this sentence,' and then there's no hope and no going back."
I like the fact that the media can simply label Larry Flynt as a pornographer. He is what he is. How many of us can say that? I mean, you can be a medical doctor, but have you earned the right to call yourself a healer? You might've given birth to a child, but are you a parent? You might play quarterback, but is that your title for life? And if you're a teacher, do your pupils actually learn anything? If you're Larry Flynt, though, there is no gray area: You make porn, and it is your calling.
What to read on the crapper: The latest issue of Wired, with thinkerman Rem Koolhaas as guest editor. I gave up on Wired about three years ago because at the tail end of the Web boom, it started to feel too much like a Silicon Valley business magazine. I grabbed the June offering in the airport last week because I wanted a little brain-candy that had nothing to do with entertainment. Lo and behold, Koolhaas brought a snazzy touch, especially to the pimped-up graphics in the "atlas" section. Seems as if the Koolhaas era is upon us, mediawise: I have a feeling that folks in Seattle will dig their library more than they ever expected. The Times Mag's design issue in general makes a good case for the importance of brainiac/hipster/oracles like ol' Rem.
May 21, 2003 at 20:49 | Permalink
Man, is it me, or is the Blender site a piece of crap? I wanted to link to the Dave Grohl interview, because it's kinda funny. But as you probably know by now, that link is broken. Try this link, and you get a pretty good example of "dummy" text. I don't really have a beef with the print mag itself -- it knows what it is, and it's always good for a few chuckles -- but those dudes need to get their online schitt in order.
April 23, 2003 at 15:42 | Permalink
I'm a big fan of the New York Times Magazine, because no other general-interest rag hits the mark every week in the same confident, intelligent way. Harper's, the New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, whatever -- they're just not as much fun to read. Check out the Dec. 16 issue if you need any evidence: The 2nd Annual "Year in Ideas" feature has provided me with hours of sublime toilet reading. I'll take partial credit for one of the 97 ideas selected for examination in the issue: Stench Warfare. Those who know me might think I'm facetiously referring to my own flatulence. Hardly. I willingly participated in one of the Stench Warfare studies at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, at the behest of of Herr Wook's lovely spouse, who has since moved on from her lab job to law school. Anyway, the test was one of the more harrowing experiences I've ever had in a clinical setting. It consisted of me sniffing vials of odorous chemicals and then describing my physical and mental reactions to a lab assistant. After every nasty-ass vial, I was allowed to huff a tube of something pleasant -- scents of lilac, cinnamon, etc. -- to clear my pallate. This is what I really remember, though: Criminally abusive essences of puke, feces, stinky feet, and a few other complex whiffs of ungodly stuff. For my troubles, I got $20, I think. I left the building and stumbled down Market Street with a potent headache. And who says I'm not patriotic?
December 18, 2002 at 17:32 | Permalink
Nobody ever really likes Spin magazine, but it serves a purpose: If you ignore the poorly chosen cover stories (they lost me at Alanis a few years ago) and the increasingly irrelevant album reviews, the rest of the mag is a decent compendium of just-on-the-fringe pop culture. Lately, though, it's starting to read more and more like Jane For Boys. That's good in some instances -- the stuff in the first third of the book is entertaining as hell -- but if I wanted to read Jane, I'd subscribe to that instead. But Katherine already does, and I read it, so the point is moot. I guess I have the greatest problem with the fact that the most interesting stuff in Spin really isn't about music at all -- the pieces might feature rock stars, or analyze the accoutrements of rock culture, but there's very little about rock tuneage and why it's something that can rearrange your head, not just your wardrobe. The escalation of Sia Michel to the mag's editorship probably won't change the current trend anytime soon. (June 2002's cover? Weezer. I like 'em, but why put 'em on the cover now?) I suppose one could analyze these comments as me just being chauvinistic, but I don't mean to imply that females can't produce a decent rock mag. I'm just saying that Jane is better at being Jane than Spin is, y'know? Maybe I'm just getting cranky & old. But if that were the case, would I enjoy reading the holier-than-thou dickhead-kidstuff of Pitchfork as much as I do?
June 07, 2002 at 17:43 | Permalink