Why this didn't happen sooner to Borat, I have no idea. (And update -- since some readers have asked what I mean by this, let me be explicit: It sucks that no one in this world has a sense of humor. Y'feel me?)
David Lynch has frightened the living hell out of me again. This time, though, his tool isn’t a crazed movie monster-man living behind a Hollywood dumpster. No, David Lynch is terrifying in real life. Possibly simple and a lot less interesting than any of us ever thought, or possibly maniacal and as up to no good as those on the good ship Sea Org. Or so his appearance at USC last night made clear.
David Lynch has started his own foundation dedicated to raising $7 billion so he can make transcendental meditation (TM) available for students, and help build in Washington, D.C. a university for world peace. Sounds pretty evil, right? Well, that’s the point. On the surface it sounds completely beautiful, if the work of a wackadoo -- something only a right-wing conservative would have the guts to criticize (God forbid there exist some sensible, conformity hating democrats who feel raped by any organization that tries to control their minds).
Surprise: There is nothing wrong with meditation, yoga, expanding
one’s consciousness, and promoting peace. There is nothing wrong with
emphasizing our global connections to each other (except for the fact that all that lack of hate will result in movies that bore us to death). And Lynch is clearly as right as ever, as he said to a hall full of cultish filmschool
followers: George Bush could stand to do a little meditation. For all of the
institutions we have erected to explicitly produce soldiers, we should devote some to creating peacemakers. Um, ok.
But David Lynch, and his colleagues, including this man and this man (and please visit the Web site for their Maharishi University of Management to listen to their unusually creepy podcasts), aren’t exactly going about their agenda the way qualitative yogis or emotionally mature and centered cultural leaders with smart political ideas should. No, the team--which is traveling around the country’s richest universities and hoodwinking students with bad neurological science to promote the TM practiced by the same Maharishi who both taught and swindled the Beatles (according to the Beatles!)--is using Lynch's already cultish following to build what seems like plans for a cult. A band of calm young meditators with money who will do (and fund) anything he wants. Like, for instance, sending Mssr. Hagelin (linked to above) to the White House as a devoted instrument of the Maharishi. I know that would never happen (and that it would still probably be an improvement), but still.
Last night’s event went like this: David Lynch, in all his black-suited glory, appeared with the caveat that he doesn’t like to speak in public (a fact that proved completely untrue as the night wore on), and then proceeded to solicit questions from the audience for a presentation that on paper should have been meticulously planned out. Well, guess what? It was meticulously planned out. People seemed to be stationed in the audience to ask the man specific questions (the first one, on his feeling about the “light in Los Angeles”).
He then went on to construct numerous circular sentences that didn’t answer specific questions about how to meditate, or why money is required to do so. Terms and phrases he threw out over and over without further clarification included: “diving in,” “pure consciousness,” “bliss consciousness,” “being,” etc. It was like speaking to my yoga teacher in Topanga Canyon. Which is fine. Bring on the creativity-enhancing Bodi Tree bliss. The problem, though, is that all this nonsense didn’t elucidate Lynch's intentions: it didn’t explain his exact plans for the $7 billion (why is meditation so expensive to provide?), or why he was organizing a presentation that felt like a first date at the Scientology Celebrity Center, or how he met these “scientists” (including Hagelin, the super-string theorist) he works with, or anything about ayurvedic medicine, or how he came to partner with all these other “doctors,” or, or. OR!
Lest we forget, the event was also obviously being filmed and photographed by people who could have been Lynch’s staff, smiling stage-bound onlookers who looked like they had focused on numerous audience members for large amounts of time as the man spoke (images of Ingmar Bergman's Magic Flute, in which audience shots cut from one to another, were impossible to ignore).
Was this all a stunt? Part of a forthcoming film? A giant performance art project Lynch will continue to perform until the purple box known as his life is closed for good?
The next segment of the evening nearly (just nearly) convinced me of that conjecture. I default to Aaron Swartz’s blog for a more detailed explanation of the “scientific” portion of the presentation, in which Hagelin described modern physics and jumped abruptly into how meditation can be used to keep stress and crime levels down (again, surprise). This before Dr. Fred Travis did an EEG on a “student’s” brain on stage – where this student came from wasn’t discussed, but the one doctor did note how he had been doing TM since the age of five (highly probable, no?). The point of the EEG was to show how brain waves calm down and align themselves during TM, but there was no way to prove 100% that an actual EEG was happening on stage, and there was obviously no true science to prove that the kid was doing TM.
More disappointing, Lynch wouldn’t really answer any questions about his films or filmmaking except for offering superficial comments--he did admit to being excited about creating a virtual-world video game, and he did flaunt bliss about new giant flatscreens with perfect resolution. But whenever someone asked a scientific question, he either deferred to his doctor friends or spoke in Vedic code. When asked what the monster-man behind the dumpster in Mulholland Drive symbolizes, he said very little. He explained how opening up his consciousness brings him ideas, which baits other ideas and strings them together. His belief about why film matters? It allows us to tell stories. His answer for why he includes so much disturbing matter in his films despite being a peace-loving TM devotee? If there's struggle, let it be in your films, not your life.
Is Lynch just an
ex-hippie who’s tired, as he said (and I paraphrase), of $7 billion going to the production of
three-and-a-half B1 bombers that can’t even protect us on a day like 9/11?
Is he just a yoga-toting Hollywood creative who got hooked on TM, and let the Maharishi's men
convince him it is his duty to change the world? Is he a live-action Abstract Illusionist who's laughing at us right now (doubtful)? Is he Ringo Starr?
Watch the show he’s
touring with from an appearance at Emerson College and decide for yourself. All I know
is that no one in last night’s audience (including me) had the guts to get up and
ask this man anything sensible, and the whole thing felt so violating I
couldn’t sleep last night. If Lynch is really just trying to spread relaxation
and peace among students who he worries are bound for lives devoid of
creativity and rife with tension and war-making and right-wing politics, then
fine. But why the cultish presentation? Why the secrets? Why the pseudoscience
to prove something everyone already knows about the benefits of meditating? Why
the pyramid-scheme-style manipulation? Why the desire for the princely sum of $7 billion if not for a plan to try to amass national power and build a society of followers?
And why ask for it from impressionable young people who attend ritzy colleges? What in God’s
name is going on here?! And why hasn't Katie Couric [editors note in December 06: This was written awhile ago], the Serious Journalist Du Jour interested in getting some Real Hard Facts about the country's kookiest religions, lined up an interview with Mr. Elephant Man? David Lynch Bliss Resources created after this initial post: Beliefnet interview: http://www.beliefnet.com/story/184/story_18457_1.html SF Chron: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/11/06/LVG9MFIG9L1.DTL&hw=David+Lynch&sn=001&sc=1000
Watch the show he’s touring with from an appearance at Emerson College and decide for yourself. All I know is that no one in last night’s audience (including me) had the guts to get up and ask this man anything sensible, and the whole thing felt so violating I couldn’t sleep last night. If Lynch is really just trying to spread relaxation and peace among students who he worries are bound for lives devoid of creativity and rife with tension and war-making and right-wing politics, then fine.
But why the cultish presentation? Why the secrets? Why the pseudoscience to prove something everyone already knows about the benefits of meditating? Why the pyramid-scheme-style manipulation? Why the desire for the princely sum of $7 billion if not for a plan to try to amass national power and build a society of followers? And why ask for it from impressionable young people who attend ritzy colleges? What in God’s name is going on here?! And why hasn't Katie Couric [editors note in December 06: This was written awhile ago], the Serious Journalist Du Jour interested in getting some Real Hard Facts about the country's kookiest religions, lined up an interview with Mr. Elephant Man?
David Lynch Bliss Resources created after this initial post:
Beliefnet interview: http://www.beliefnet.com/story/184/story_18457_1.html
SF Chron: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/11/06/LVG9MFIG9L1.DTL&hw=David+Lynch&sn=001&sc=1000
Posted on November 04, 2005 at 08:15 AM | Permalink
I don't know what's funnier: That, along with fellow displaced (and plenty of freaky) new Angelenos, I attended free Yom Kippur services at the Laugh Factory yesterday* -- only to emerge on Sunset and be told by a cop while crossing the street to stay put before a stunt car comes screeching around the corner. Or how about Jonathan Kiefer's newest Film Flaneur column: a hilarious open letter to movie industry marketeers.
*A sincere thanks to the club, actually: As you probably read in my Larry David post, there aren't too many other places for a casually observant Jew to rock the High Holidays for free.
Posted on October 14, 2005 at 06:51 AM | Permalink
Posted on September 23, 2005 at 09:11 AM | Permalink
Lesson No. 4678 in How to Option Your New Novel For Big Bucks and Then Some: Write a "complicated" multi-character narrative about Hollywood evils, and then go on the Huffington Post talking about how the book is utterly unfilmable and you never, ever, want to direct.
I had my Hollywood moment. It's not that I would turn down an opportunity to be adapted (there are a couple of stories by me optioned at the moment), but I don't need it. It's just icing on the cake. As I said in 1997, movies are a particularly good billboard for a book. Movies need fiction and literature more than vice versa, because literature is where most of the genuine takes place. I don't want more fame, power, or influence. I sort of get uncomfortable with that kind of thing. I just want to be able to keep writing.
Posted on September 14, 2005 at 08:30 AM | Permalink
From Maria Sharapova's revelatory blog, which should, I hasten to say, have been updated post-U.S. Open:
I also listen to my iPod all the time. I love music. The new Coldplay is sooo good. I can’t stop listening to that. Also, I’ve been into a lot of Dance and Club music. It keeps me moving. Sometimes I have to dance on the plane cause I can’t control myself.
What am I reading? Fashion magazines. Lots of them. All that I can get my hands on. After reading a good novel, it’s great to flip through magazines. As everyone knows I love fashion. I can’t get enough of it. It makes me want to go shopping. Doesn’t that sound fun?
Um, yes. But not as fun as reading her take on Tolstoy would be. That, not the new chicklit tome of the month, is what teenage Russian tennis stars built in Florida's Blonde Tennis Star Factory consider good novels, right? Let the gossip start here then. I'm breaking the NDA I signed with Sharapova Enterprises to leak to the world the luminary's newest media move: intellectual. Look for a 3,000 word Sharapova essay on Isaac Babel in an October issue of the The New York Review of Books. And remember, you didn't learn that here. Not unless you want a visit from Yuri and Slava.
Posted on September 13, 2005 at 08:37 AM | Permalink
It's been some time since we contributed an original O.C. political report, and even though it would please us at GS headquarters as much as the next Seth Cohen-wannabe to mock the oh-so-subtle "switch to Cingular" message present in the first ad campaign for Motorola's iTunes phone** (which conveniently ran during The O.C. premiere's first commercial break), we couldn't exactly let all of Josh Schwartz's hidden political messages go. So much has changed, after all, since Seth embodied the Bush presidency's feelings about people who make less than $100,000 a year by announcing to fresh-faced Summer: "I just can't be friends with you!"
Posted on September 08, 2005 at 09:03 PM | Permalink
It seems the Chicago joke(ste)r behind putmeonupdate.com -- an online campaign to win a guest spot on SNL's news minute -- has retooled his project. What awaits is anyone's guess. The question, though, is why? Has he taken a page out of the book of Andy Milonakis and decided that simply videoblogging as simply and stupidly as possible will get him on TV? Seems to work, no?
Posted on September 08, 2005 at 09:07 AM | Permalink
I accept that Dr. Phil exists, and thrives, in an America that can reelect the president it reelected (and don't tell me W.'s approval rating is down -- nothing's more American that electing someone who doesn't deserve it and then getting down on him when you refuse to take responsibility for your choice). And what's more Bush-like, after all, than suggesting a stick-it-out-and-learn-to-love-again-strategy to a loveless married couple of unadventurous scaredy cats that admits they only got together out of convenience in the first place. But what drives me batty about Dr. Phil--and I actually have stopped watching him to nurture my rage; I only ocassionally catch him now when a certain psych Ph.D. forces me to watch with her--is his son, Jay. Jay McGraw, author of books meant to mindfuck teens out of bullying, overeating, and just generally being "Bad," is the Youth Example: the oh-so-hip voice of reason that can speak to kids at their level about how to get through life in this terribly complicated, sense-bereft country that his parents have helped build, you know? The question is: What qualitative behavorial decision has Dr. Phil Jr. made now that we kids should follow? Why don't just get rich and famous off your dad's ability to manipulate red-state America. And don't just marry a Playboy playmate who's latest film appearance was a movie called "Nudity Required." Marry one of a set of identical triplet playmates who apparently don't mind "bad-touching" each other onscreen for money. Who says America's in trouble when you can write a book about child psychology without a Ph.D., ride the coattails of your celebrity father, and then buy yourself a shiny new girl-robot (with two anatomically identical backups to replace her if the first one, um, breaks) with which to indulge all your American Dream fantasies? That, my friends--not a feeling of "warmth" or "wholeness" or "community"--is what stopping the bullyin' and bingin' will get ya. So get on the train. Stop telling Jimmy and Johnny they're fat and stupid. Get writin'. Move to L.A. And by all means, when Hef invites you to the grotto for a little R&R after a gratis "motivation talk," do NOT say no.
Bonus *glassShallot game: Which one of these new toys is Jay's? (Answer below)
(Answer: Does it matter?)
Posted on August 31, 2005 at 09:29 AM | Permalink
The answer may be yes, I'm afraid. Confused? Unaware of the word "baxter"? I was too until recently, when I read my own Radar Magazine discussion about lame American presidents and why bad romantic comedies are good with Michael Showalter ("The State," "Wet Hot American Summer"). Find it on Radar's new Web site, or check the text after the jump.
Posted on August 23, 2005 at 09:20 AM | Permalink
I would be doing every *glassShallot reader a disservice by not linking to Dan Halpern's illuminating and deliciously funny profile of Kinky Friedman, a Jewish musician/cowboy/mystery writer from Texas making a run for--yep, you guessed it--governor.
Posted on August 20, 2005 at 09:00 AM | Permalink
According to the Futon Critic, "Criminal Minds," CBS's new Mandy Patinkin show--yes, I did, in fact just alert you to the fact that Mandy ("You Killed My Father") Patinkin will finally expand his repertoire from the touring company of AstraZeneca heartburn-pill TV ads--will, in fact, debut on September 22. And yes, that also means that Papa Can You Hear Me Patinkin will milk even further the increasingly evident bile-producing edge he flaunts in his tummyache ads. For his role in said primetime drama will be one of "lead mind-hunter." You see, apparently, as singing Jews age, they begin to look capable of making invasive explorations into dark depths--stomachs, brains, what have you. Which may account for why my gastroenterologist always appeared to be peering into the subconscious of a serial killer when he returned to me the results of various acid-reflux tests. The real lesson to be learned here? Let your bile work for you. Just because you used to make millions causing with your oh-so-tender voice nice Brooklyn moms to kvell doesn't mean you have to feel bad about your ability to turn that tenderness into the sheer, unadulterated world-hating for which only the role of a "mindhunter" on a "serious" CBS crime drama calls.
Posted on August 05, 2005 at 07:56 AM | Permalink
Posted on July 18, 2005 at 08:02 AM | Permalink
Posted on April 26, 2005 at 09:41 AM | Permalink
Confession: I often feel forgotten, lost -- and thirsty! -- in this world of custom celebrity branded beverages. It’s just so hard being an issue-driven indie film chick in this Krunk-juice-drinking boys club called Hollywood. So what if your dad made The Godfather? So what if James Cameron haunts your local Trader Joe’s in search of a deal on your family’s brand-name merlot? So what if you won an Oscar for a “sparse” (read: vacantly routine and already forgotten) coming-of-age screenplay that wouldn’t have been given the time of day if your dad, Bill Murray, Sonic Youth, and Wes Anderson hadn’t passed it around with rubber-stamp props. After a while plugging along, it takes some serious cajones to make it in this biz. And after a long day of dressing yourself to look unconcerned about clothes, taking meetings about taking meetings at Urth Caffe, and later joining Quentin down at Cinespace for a Russ Meyer retrospective before a late-night Silverlake patio party teeming with chevre-stuffed mushrooms, you need something to simultaneously take the edge off and remind you that you could do it ALL again. You need something that’s yours -- NOT Daddy’s! And so that’s why I’m proud to be releasing (releasing, inspiring - what's the difference?) Sofia Mini Blanc de Blancs. (No, it’s not a car. Though aren’t those little buggers cute?! Maybe I should get myself one. Nah, too commercial.) No, Sofia Mini is it’s own thing. It’s not wine, it’s not beer, it’s not Bartles and James (mmm, don’t tell anyone I like Bartles and James, ok?). Sofia Mini is the sparkling wine-product the underground, thinking girl wants. The bouquet? Pear, honeysuckle, passion fruit. The body? Apple, melon, tangerine. The finish? Lemon and honey (what else?). Sporting an expert Monterey-grape balance of 70% Pinot Blanc, 20% Sauvignon Blanc, and 10% Muscat Cannelli -- oh, and did I mention it's served cold in its own cute lil’ red bullet can? -- Sofia Mini is Independence. That’s why I branded it “a distinctive blend as unconventional as the woman who inspired it.” Mini -- and you can call it that too -- is for “the impromptu, impetuous, live passionately-for-the-moment kind of person. The kind of person who lives like there is no tomorrow!” Because, like, that’s the kinda woman I am, yo. I make personal, independent movies. I push the envelope. And I expect nothing less from what I drink. Touché, Spike!
Posted on April 19, 2005 at 05:26 PM | Permalink
Evany Thomas's "'80s [Music] Lineups That Read Like Tabloid Headlines" reminds me of what, on a good day, I might have done with my Refrigerator Poetry.
Posted on April 10, 2005 at 06:00 AM | Permalink
Tomorrow my review of Jonathan Lethem's "The Disappointment Artist" will run in the S.F. Chronicle Book Review. You can read it now by clicking on the above link. I just did, and I'm surprised, as I often am, to see a record of what I thought about a piece of cultural writing. In my review I hint at how Lethem really helps establish the personal culture essay as a pulsing, worthy form, and though the argument arrives in passing, I'd say it's the most important part of the thought process Lethem's book inspired in me. Where can you read personal culture essays anymore? You can read critical reviews written in a literary manner (oh, if I had just another $.50/word for the amount of times an editor had stricken my personal experiences from a piece about a work of art). You can certainly read personal essays about life experiences in all types in magazines (though even they are becoming more and more rare). But seldom now is it that you can find an essay about a writer interested in examining him or herself through the culture he or she consumes, studies, enjoys. The revelation makes me sad, for that's in part what I wanted to do with my writing from the get-go.
Posted on March 26, 2005 at 10:39 AM | Permalink
SELECTIONS FROM MY MANY NOTICES ACCORDING TO GOOGLE ONE YEAR AGO TODAY
Result # 6:
“New York photographic and installation artist Adam Baer creates "aperture-specific" constructions that attempt to visually splinter various atmospheres and reconstruct the shards in a conglomerate which unifies the disparate elements of space and narrative. Baer's creative process begins with the construction of a large, complex, labor and time-intensive "set" that takes months to complete. Actors are then cast to inhabit the set and play parts in an ambiguous drama. The scene is finally photographed with a large-format view camera at which point an illusion of convergence of the various atmospheres occurs. Baer's work results in large color photographs of bafflingly strange spaces in which laws of gravity are defied, architectural spaces confused, and our experiences of the physical world refuted.”
“Adam Baer, 21, of Hanover is traveling in fast company. The hard-throwing right hander is the youngest bowler on the list of the Top 25 league averages for the 2002-2003 season. Baer averaged 226 this past season, giving him the ninth highest average in York County. "I feel good about being on the Top 25 list," said Baer. "It's an honor to be on the same list with Rothenberger, Carbaugh and Smith. I grew up watching them and trying to learn from them." Baer explained his debut on the Top 25 list, saying, "I've been putting some things together the last couple years." Those things include becoming a better spare shooter and learning to control his emotions on the lanes. "I've practiced more on my spares and I started shooting them all straight," he said. "The mental part of my game was probably my weakest part. I used to get upset and let it bother me for a couple frames. Controlling my emotions was one of the hardest things for me to do." Although Baer has already established himself as a member of an elite group, his potential is seemingly unlimited.”
BAER - Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response. Definition: The brainstem auditory evoked response (BAER) test measures responses in brain waves that are stimulated by a clicking sound to evaluate the central auditory pathways of the brainstem. Why is the Test Performed? The test is performed to help diagnose nervous system abnormalities, hearing losses (especially in low-birth-weight newborns), and to assess neurological functions. Founder: Adam Baer, Ph.D., Chair, Neuroscience Dept., Whitchester College, Surrey, UK
“Princeville running back Adam Baer, the LTC's second-leading rusher, did nothing to hurt his status against the Geese. He rushed for 198 yards on 23 carries. He had 169 yards at the half. ‘He's a big part of our offense,’ said Princeville Coach Rollin Arnett. “He picks his holes well and he picks his cut-backs well.”
From “Orwell Bookshop: Bees” at www.k-2.com/Orwell
“Anybody with a serious interest in bees -- and by that I don't mean just honey bees and beekeeping, but the thousands of other species that provide the fundamental service of pollination in both natural and agricultural ecosystems -- must seriously consider getting this book. It will be an invaluable resource for both those studying insects and those studying plants, for plant conservation is intimately wrapped up with the survival of their pollinators. This is a magnum opus in both senses of the word. It is a big book, with over 900 pages, containing a wealth of information on bees. It is also a product of over half a century's research and learning by the world's foremost authority on bees, Adam Baer. His efforts, and those of the subsequent generations of researchers spawned from his lab at the Katonah College, have been the foundation of our current state of bee knowledge.”
From “Herald of Truth Obituaries - April, 1886” at http://www.mcusa-archives.org/MennObits/1886/
“On the 7th of March, in Washington Co., Md., Ida May, infant daughter of Abraham and Lizzie Martin, aged 4 months and 9 days. Buried on the 10th at Reiff's Meeting-house, where services were held by Adam Baer and Josiah Brewer from Mark 9:19: ‘Asleep in Jesus, blessed sleep, From which none ever wake to weep; A calm and undisturbed repose / Unbroken by the last of foes.’”
Posted on March 15, 2005 at 07:53 AM | Permalink
Multi-media cultural critiques that chart how culture or entertainment behaves differently on different platforms -- from iPods to plasma televisions and everything in between -- are what initially got me into technology. That's why this latest piece for Cargo -- about the best movies, SACDs, and DVD-As for your home theater -- was so natural for me to write. I got to discuss how cultural content influences and works with technology and vice versa. Granted I couldn't get very detailed, and I also picked some movies to appeal to a broad audience (although, I might also argue that in these formats they're more appealing). Still, I didn't compromise on audio or video quality -- and I tested nearly every surround-sound release. The point: that if you're into home theaters, confused by the aforementioned media formats, or just generally curious about new ways to enjoy (and hopefully deconstruct the meaning of) music and movies at home, you'll hopefuly find the roundup worth your time. Thanks for reading, as always.
[Image via Cargomag.com]
Posted on January 10, 2005 at 06:58 PM | Permalink
Lesson #47 in How to Run a Dog of a Webzine Yet Still Pull in Enough Undiscerning Readers To Stay Afloat: Publish an article about how this year's (um) "best" comedic attempts -- from "My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss" to "The Joe Schmo Show" -- actually showed respect for thinking adults. And I quote:
After years of turning to soggy, reheated "Saturday Night Live" sketches for our comic fix, after years of renting the same Monty Python movies and watching as shows like "In Living Color" and "Kids in the Hall" came and went, 2004 was the year that satire sank its razor-sharp teeth into a mainstream audience. Scathing, sophisticated humor seemed to spring up all over the place, from trusted old friends like "The Daily Show," "Doonesbury" and the Onion, to unexpected and bold new sources like "My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss" and "Team America." Suddenly nuanced, even odd humor is warmly embraced -- and not just by stoners and comedy enthusiasts who can recite the punch lines from every Mel Brooks movie ever made. From the bold and bizarre comic stylings of David Chappelle to the strange postmodern twists and turns of "The Joe Schmo Show," we were finally -- after what feels like a lifetime of Adam Sandler vehicles -- treated to comedy that wasn't targeted at an 8-year-old audience. But how did we go from fielding a steady flow of insipid comedies starring Tim Allen (who keeps hiring that man?) to watching Ali G quiz Pat Buchanan about whether or not Iraq has "BLTs"?
Now, I won't argue that Chapelle and Ali G are funny (brilliant, no, but yeah, they induce laughs). What I will say is that anyone who runs a piece about how extraordinary and adult-respecting this year's comedic entertainments have been is clearly just trying to win over the people who both produce and consume such mediocrity. Adam Sandler may be childish, his films low-brow and less than challenging, but if Salon doesn't think stuff of that caliber (or lower) didn't make up the majority of this year's entertainment fodder, than it deserves the financial problems it will endure forever.
Posted on December 23, 2004 at 01:45 PM | Permalink
We all love The Onion for its pre-Jon Stewart Conan-style satires of the mores that rule our fine nation's panpoly of satire-worthy current affairs. But most of the mystique of the Wisconson-bred laugh pamphlet has always rested squarely on just how damn hard it has been to permeate, drunkenly seduce, or even make eyes with from across the virtual room we call Comedywriterland. Hell, name me a snarky young satirist who hasn't cried tears into his Trader Joe's Vodka-of-the-Gods handle over the fact that he just can't seem to find a way to get those so-phisticated yucks with teary eyes induced by the boldness of their own humor to take one of his spoof ideas. Or to answer his e-mails. Or snail mails. Or smoke signals. Or suicidal IMs. (Thankfully I'm not speaking from personal experience; I shed tears over much more important bullshit like trying to get aging, unpopular New York literati to pull a string or two for me when their peers don't even respect them.) But I digress: The point is that the only sure way to predict the fall of The Onion is to notice the gradual loosening of its tight-knit web of irony sluts, and if this job ad on journalismjobs.com doesn't sing the message loud and clear, then I'm not a wannabe snark-god holding out for something better (or at least in a city other than Chicago). Vive le online job-seeking sites for pointing out growing holes in the culture!
[Sad postlude: The job ad only advertises a position on The Onion's somewhat serious entertainment page; humor-creating, it seems, is still topica reservata.]
Posted on December 20, 2004 at 06:56 PM | Permalink
We had to be the only people in the café talking cards. Across the room an aging “90210” alum dished on a “trite” new pilot. To her right, a rapper expressed confusion over green-tea lattes. Sitting outside the Hollywood hullaboo on the establishment’s quietly humble wood-planked side-deck, a casually dressed Dave Foley explained the finer points of “Texas Hold’em” between sips of a dark Mexican beer. Learn how you, too, can become the next host of a TV poker show from one of America's most underrated comedians. A N.Y. Sun Dave Foley interview continues below...
This week's mailbag is packed with the same concern: Why no "O.C." political report in response to last week's show? Well just as Josh Schwartz can let one of his writers flaunt the biggest homage to W. yet... Just as he can let this writer create the most asinine coincidence of issues in order to divert attention from the anemic quality of the second season's scripts -- making both "Wheeler" women (Ryan's new girlfriend and Caleb's bribe target) part of the same, surprise clan -- I can, uh, um, you see... OK, FINE, you're right: I have no right to find an excuse for not posting an O.C. political report. You got me! It's just that I was so affected, so influenced, by the arresting nature of last week's "values" episode, I began to believe we were in this coincidence for the right reasons. What, we weren't? Those Wheeler women seemed to be truly related to each other -- they do both sport reddish hair. Oh, my. And now we're giving them all our support, innocent to the smokescreen their cronies have unleashed to keep us quiet while they figure out how to pull all the details together, to make the reason we're there actually believable. Thank God for Iraq, no? I mean, without it we might not have decent primetime soaps written about chracters that, one year into their television lives, seem, in certain writers' hands, to have absolutely nowhere to go.
It must be nice to have created a huge body of work that people consistently consider hilarious because then it allows you the chance to grow old and phone it in. This -- and please, readers, understand that no one defends this true comic/literary genius and his recent films as much as me -- is the pass bestowed upon Woody Allen in this week's New Yorker. In a "Shouts & Murmurs" piece entitled "Surprise Rocks Disney Trial," Woody writes:
The Walt Disney Company shareholder suit over the severance package paid to departing president Michael Ovitz was jolted today by the testimony of an unexpected witness, who was questioned by counsel for the entertainment giant.
Counsel: Will the witness please state his name.
Witness: Mickey Mouse.
C: Please tell the court your occupation.
W: Animated rodent.
Fine, Woody thinks its hilarious to have Disney characters take the stand in an imaginary rendition of the oh-so-nationally-important Ovitz trial. But where's the narrative? What happens in this piece other than mentionings of pharmacological drugs and locales where rich, Hollywood people buy gargantuan homes? Isn't the most basic tenet of a New Yorker casual the fact that it should have some sort of beginning, middle, and end? Some sort of arc? No one's written humor is as funny and inspiring as Woody's from "Without Feathers," but you've got to wonder: How quickly would the New Yorker have rejected this piece if it had been submitted by a no-name writer struggling to break in?
Oh did the bipartisanship roar last night on our favorite exemplar of SoCal excess: A conniving but uneducated floozy found a way to run her "company" (company, nation, what's the difference) without having to actually learn anything about, you know, running a company. The young democrat actually learned he prefers punk doms over needy elephants, and the street kid with an increasingly right-wing tendency towards traditionalist "values" ended up falling for a mirror image of himself -- as if we couldn't already see these two hard luck cases studying their physics equations and eventually digging themselves out of the gutter so beautifully well that a vote for the W.'s of the world would only reinforce their own ideas about the so-called "American Dream." Fox, you are, like, so perceptive. Go, you!
1. it's almost as, um, mild as new york
2. every day is dressed-down-sunday -- that is until you realize your facial hair is just wild, not carefully ungroomed to appear wildly unshaven like the underemployed hipster gawking at your scruff from behind a copy of "interview" at the local indie bookstore
3. laid-back californians can relax in the organic goodness of one another at crunchy silverlake grocery lifestyle shops like trader joe's. until, for example, the pert soccer mom with the fake tan, juicy sweatsuit, and frozen fish tacos in hand, elbows you in the stomach in order to score a choice slot on the quickest-moving register line
4. the bustle of the a-train and the stress it induced for a week simply melts away when you realize you can't even get into your car to buy, gulp, car supplies in the neighboring development for fear of spending the afternoon in gridlock
5. eating high-fat late-night diner food isn't half as depressing when you're sitting across from certain upmarket film directors who, while they remind your friends of you, are about to realize their second majorly successful film starring bill murray
6. cell-phone reception? who needs cell-phone reception when you can simply send messages with smog-signals over the santa monica mountains
7. it's so heartwarming to see dolphins leap out of the water; knowing that the ocean pollution caused by malibu movie directors who didn't adequately provide for responsible sewage removal around their new hill-side mansions rarely even creeps into the back of my subconscious the animals are so glorious.
8. people read here... oh, they don't?
Turkey Recipes To Motivate Your Right-Wing Family Members To Ditch Thanksgiving Dinner:
Braised Turkey in a Penzoil reduction
Whiskas Choice Cuts with Turkey in Gravy
Old Spice Turkey
Giblet Smoothies with Turkey-powder boost
Virtual Reality Turkey
Turkey Jello Mold
Turkey Ice Sculpture
Turkey Dippin' Dots
"I Can Raise Money: Perhaps the most vital requirement for a
party chairman is the ability to fundraise. I have a plan to make
Democratic contributors feel more valued. I don't want to say too much,
but it involves free keychains.
I Can Appeal to the Evangelical Vote: Except for brief periods
in college, and the nights of February 16 to 18 of last year when I was
at a bachelor party, Jesus and I have always been on friendly terms. I
will demonstrate that the Democratic Party has the utmost respect for
crazy religious types.
I Am Internet Savvy: In the wake of Howard Dean's web-fueled
candidacy, political analysts were quick to point out the power of the
Internet as a campaign weapon. As chairman, I will utilize the web's
ability to energize and engage voters. I will do this by sending out
"I Can Raise Money: Perhaps the most vital requirement for a party chairman is the ability to fundraise. I have a plan to make Democratic contributors feel more valued. I don't want to say too much, but it involves free keychains.
I Can Appeal to the Evangelical Vote: Except for brief periods in college, and the nights of February 16 to 18 of last year when I was at a bachelor party, Jesus and I have always been on friendly terms. I will demonstrate that the Democratic Party has the utmost respect for crazy religious types.
I Am Internet Savvy: In the wake of Howard Dean's web-fueled
candidacy, political analysts were quick to point out the power of the
Internet as a campaign weapon. As chairman, I will utilize the web's
ability to energize and engage voters. I will do this by sending out
Think overblown rappers and male twentysomethings who blog are the only two populations obsessed with Scarface's Tony Montana? Check these corrollaries and tell me they don't get you thinking about the only U.S. President ever to come close to admitting that he doesn't believe in the neccesity of a thinking Secretary of State.
Tony Montana: "I always tell the truth. Even when I lie."
W.: "With the campaign over, Americans are expecting a bipartisan effort and results. I'll reach out to everyone who shares our goals."
Tony Montana: "In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the women."
W.: ""I think we're making progress. We understand where the power of this country lay. It lays in the hearts and souls of Americans. It must lay in our pocketbooks. It lays in the willingness for people to work hard. But as importantly, it lays in the fact that we've got citizens from all walks of life, all political parties, that are willing to say, I want to love my neighbor. "
Tony Montana: "Amigo, the only thing in this world that gives orders is balls. Balls. You got that?"
W.: "I don't think you give timelines to dictators."
Tony Montana: "This is paradise, I'm tellin' ya. This town like a great big pussy jus' waitin' to get fucked."
W.: "Iraq is no diversion. It is a place where civilization is taking a decisive stand against chaos and terror, we must not waver."
Tony Montana: ""Say 'ello to my little friend!"
W.: "The Secretary of State is America’s face to the world, and in Dr. Rice the world will see the strength, grace and decency of our country."
Posted on November 17, 2004 at 07:12 AM | Permalink
I read that among the 20 other super-easy questions included in your Human Resources aptitude test, you included the assignment, "Write a haiku describing possible methods for predicting search traffic seasonality." I think I'm the one for the job! Do you agree? Here's my entry. I'll be waiting by the phone.
Dream that W.
and warmaking will be good
for new IPOs
Thanks for your consideration,
A defeated reader writes with a strikingly unusual account of actually being a mistreated classical music writer! Apparently the publication he had been writing for disrespected him, trying to cheat him out of promised money, then asking him to work for free! This is really, really surprising to me: 1. because American loves classical music SO much, and 2) because as someone who spent many of his pre-blogging years covering the classical concert halls of this fine land, I was always from Day One treated like the A-list celebrity most classical music writers obviously become. Why the smirk? I'm serious. Dead. In fact only now that I've segued into pieces about the arcane -- pop culture, politics, travel, technology -- have I learned what a real struggling writer's life is like. I have trouble renewing my SoHo House membership, for instance. Diddy rarely calls now, if ever (sigh). Free dinners at Nobu: definitely on the descent. My last VH1 "Behind the Music" guestspot? I can't even remember what gratis Paul Smith suit I wore, it was so long ago. More disturbing, I can just about forget about book deals with the big publishers, much less optioning off a short piece for a sweet half-mil now that I do pop. I can barely get a P.R. rep to respond to my calls about profiling their clients! And to make matters ridiculously worse -- and I mean, Ridiculously Worse -- I still, ocassionally, get (choke) a classical assignment (once or twice a month, at best). I still get to roll with ballers. I still get a taste of the sweet life -- limos, Krystal, sex with The O.C.'s starlets. Just enough, you know, to remind me what I gave up for my art. Hell, it's getting so bad I can barely afford bling. My poor fingers, once easily bearing the weight of pink canary diamonds, now shiver and shake in the cold, naked and bare, unable to hoist a flimsy Metrocard. As if that's not enough, classical snobs like editors at Vanity Fair, Playboy, and Conde Nast Traveler can barely remember my name when I call. It's like I've been relegated to some sort of lifestyle jail where no one even cares to read me because the subjects I cover are so out-of-touch with readers, so utterly unprofitable, so hard to connect with. All I can hope is that maybe future generations of literary aesthetes will remember and celebrate my work when I'm gone. A meager pop-culture slave can dream.
It must truly get tiring following overgrown infants like Mike Ovitz all the way to hotspot Delaware, listening to Leno ramble about how he's not a right-wing robot, and translating cryptic e-mail from New York Times insiders leaking who's about to jump. And thank God. Because LA Weekly's prescient media wit Nikke Finke gets her column all to herself this week with a brilliant guide to how "how current series, midseason
replacements and next fall’s pilots will more 'accurately' reflect the
supposed religious and right-wing mood of America."
My favorite prediction:
"No Sex and the City: Four Seventh-day Adventist
gal pals live in Manhattan, earn millions on Wall Street, tithe to the
Republican Party and swoon over Ron Silver and Stephen Baldwin. The
star is Carrie, who has an on-again, off-again, relationship with the
adulterous Mr. Big, played by Rudolph Giuliani, until she finally
becomes his Trophy Wife No. 3."
Media moguls, hit the beach for Thanksgiving. We don't care about you when we claw over each other every Thursday to snag a peek at "Deadline Hollywood."