Monday, April 30, 2007

Follow Up on $400 Follow-Up Report

Dear Russ,

Thank you for bringing the Super Cuts "Style File" to my attention. It's a valuable research tool that has shed some much needed light on the John Edwards grooming mystery.

Though I appreciate the thoroughness of your research, I must disagree with your initial assessment. The "Tobias" is far too heavily winged to resemble Edwards' cut of choice. I believe his haircut to be a WASPier, buttoned-up, flattened, and heavily lacquered modification of the "Gilles."

Please reference the above photo and let me know what you think.

R2B2, P.I.

Friday, April 27, 2007

$400 Follow-Up Report

Following R2B2's recent post on the topic of how in the hell John Edward's haircut could possibly cost $400, there was speculation from one of our Anonymous friends regarding the allegation that the haircut was more Supercuts than Frederic Fekkai.

Now, I can't say for sure that if you walked into Supercuts and requested it, you would walk out looking anything like the above picture, but Supercuts does in fact offer what looks to me pretty much like an exact replica of the John Edwards 'do (don't). It's on their website, and it's trade name is Tobias.

So there it is, ladies, gentlemen, and Anonymous and hence genderless: John Edwards not only gets his hair cut at Supercuts, he also asks specifically for the Tobias.

Personally, I'm glad. I don't like to think of a politician raising campaign money and then spending $400 on a haircut. Plus, an expensive haircut takes time, and he needs to be working on his platform and taking care of his wife, not getting a head massage.

Nightmare!!! NOOOOOOOOOO!!!

OK...trying to remain calm...taking deep breaths...feeling horrible Hulk-like rage...OK...

One of my BIGGEST FUCKING pet peeves is the constant remaking of classic movies. It is a very, very bad idea 99.9% of the time. The original is ALWAYS better - on RARE occasion, the remake is quality, but ALMOST NEVER as good as or even better. Take for example Cape Fear. The remake was a good movie, but nothing compared to the original (mmm, Mitchum...). (aside: I don't know how I feel about The Departed versus Infernal Affairs. I really like both.). But the majority of the time, the resulting film is disatrous, horrible, insulting, and so on. It makes me literally sick to my stomach to think that there are millions of people out there who think that Get Carter is a really bad Stallone movie, Alfie is a really bad Jude Law movie, The Italian Job is a really bad whoever the fuck all those people were movie, Te Ladykillers (oh, Coen Brothers, Where Were Thou? A crack house??) is a really bad Tom Hanks movie...I could go on for days. Don't even get me started with the whole Americans-are-too-dumb-to-read-subtitles remakes. The Vanishing, every Japanese horror flick of the past few years...I could go on and on and fucking on here. I have a feeling I am preaching to the choir, though.

And now today's news: Turns out that Nicole Kidman has bought the rights to remake How to Marry a Millionaire (thanks to Michael K of for, as always, keeping me informed of such horrors). This is one of my favorite films - for those who have not seen it, it stars Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe, and Betty Grable as three young gals-about-town in NYC whose collective sole mission in life is to marry rich. So they pool all of their resources into renting a very swanky apartment, which they can barely afford to keep, so it's almost completely unfurnished. Marilyn Monroe is particularly excellent, playing a ditzy Marilyn Monroe-ish character who has terrible eyesight but refuses to wear her glasses and is always walking into things. I shudder to think who they would cast in this role. Perhaps Cameron Diaz or Drew Barrymore - they both supposedly do that goofy/clumsy/charming shit well, or so goes the conventional wisdom. Then again, Scarlett Johansson is shorthand for "curvy blonde" these days. Yeesh. Lauren Bacall is imperious and glamorous and fabulous as the smart one, the leader of the pack. I am quite sure this is the role our Nikki has in mind for herself. Betty Grable is the girl next door trying to be the big city girl, but she can't hide her true nature and winds up falling for a park ranger with no money. Again, I shudder to think...I can just see some prickwad producer thinking Lindsay Lohan's freckles=country girl/girl next door. Heaven help us.

As for the men...the only chubby & nerdy male actors working in Hollywood today that spring to mind to play Piggy, Marilyn's equally vision-impaired beau, would be Philip Seymour Hoffman or Jack Black. As for the debonaire rich-man in hiding who Lauren Bacall spurns only to find put he's a Rockefeller...I guess Clooney...sigh..I have no probelm with Clooney, but I have a major problem with this movie being remade. A) It's pathetic that all those overpaid chump stains in Holywood can't come up with a decent original idea to save their hides. Fassbinder lived to be 37 years old and made 42 completely original films and one adaptation (Querelle, which was based on a novel by Jean Genet) and did it all while whacked out of his mind on drugs. B) It may be cultural fascism on my part, but I believe that if Hollywood thinks these movies are so good that they need to be remade, people should be forced to see the original versions. Imagine if they put the marketing muster and dollars behind promoting a wide screen re-release of the original How to Marry a Millionaire. And a whole new generation fell in love with it. Now that would be cool.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Damn You, Google!

Google, I can't help but love you, but why've you gotta fuck with me? How do you know about my Asian eyes?!

And while we're at it, screw you too, Dr. Kwan.

A New York Story

I have been feeling rather nostalgic for good old NYC of late. I think it is largely the fault of R2B2s uncharacteristically satisfied post about NYC as spring flowers. NYC may be gentrifying into an indistinguishable Big Box store-spooted yuppie wasteland, but it still has - and hopefully still will always have - it's unique weirdos who cause uniquely weird situations (ref. Spanish Harlem guy below). What follows is one of my favorite NYC stories.

The scene: Meatpacking District, late summer, 1995. I had just returned from a summer abroad in Prague (ie, drinking 25 cent beer til I puked for 3 months) and had been reunited that very night with my semi-beau at the time (a man who looked so much like Gary Oldman that people would ask him for his autograph; a man who is now in jail). We had gone to some bar/club with my roommate, who had hooked up Kid from Kid n' Play (no, he did not hold one leg and jump over it with the other one, nor did he have the "Yo, Eraserhead" hairdo anymore - both much to my chagrin). She was all absorbed in his ugly ass so we decided to take a stroll and smoke a joint. So we're walking around, baked, and this stretch limo pulls over. The driver puts down the window and starts this whole story about how he had credit card fares all day, has no cash, and needed $5 for the toll back to Jersey. He said he would drive us around in the limo for 20 minutes, wherever we wanted to go, for $5. Needless to say, in we got. So he starts driving REAL SLOW. We ask him to speed up, he kind of does, then gets REAL SLOW again. He kept telling us to relax and enjoy ourselves. We really wanted to drive thru that tunnel where Park Ave South hits 42nd street (the old Met Life Building that Claes Oldenburg wanted to design to look like someone had dropped their giant eskimo pie in the street - wish they had gone for that). I don't know why - wait, I do - we were baked. Anyway, the slow driving thing is getting worse, and the suggestions as to how we should enjoy ourselves are getting more explicit. Finally the dude just pulls over and pops open a glove compartment FULL OF SEX TOYS. So....we excused ourselves and got out and headed back to the club (fortunately we had barely gotten any distance at all).

Here's the kicker: about one year later, I'm on another date, this time with this guy who had just got of jail (just to switch it up a little), and THE SAME LIMO PULLS OVER WITH THE SAME GUY TELLING THE SAME STORY ABOUT THE TOLLS!!!! So I flipped and was like "I know you!! Open you glove compartment!" and he peeled off!!!!!

Only in NY, folks, only in NY.

Four Hundred Dollars?

Today we debut a new feature on Zeitgeist-y, Unsolvable Mysteries, wherein we bravely ask the kinds of knotty questions that defy all logic. Questions so cryptic and unfathomable that they can only be described as... unsolvable.

So, today's question is: Could it really be possible that John Edwards spends $400 on those haircuts? Are we talking American dollars here? Or could it be pesetas or rubles or perhaps buttons or cigarettes?

Russ, whose observation skills are highly attuned, has been slamming Edwards' supremely cheesy haircuts since the last presidential election. She thinks he gets them at Supercuts, and I have to agree. It does look like their work.

So where's the money really going? I don't mean to imply any kind of criminal activity, but you have to wonder how it is that he shells out hundreds of dollars for haircuts that should have cost $25. Either he's laundering money through the Pink Sapphire, or he's a vain asshole with no sense of style (I guess that latter part holds true either way.)

That's his business if he wants to pay through the nose for a horrible haircut, but does this bode well for his commitment to fiscal responsibility? My vote's going to the person I can trust to make sound economic decisions, like choosing the $250 government toilet seat over the $653 one.

Anyway, please revel in the Unsolvable Mystery that is John Edwards' hair.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

There Is a Rose in Spanish Harlem

Have you ever ridden the subway with this guy? I've seen him a couple times riding the 4 into Brooklyn. He's got this super gravelly, robotic voice, like he's had a tracheotomy. He doesn't even collect donations. He just croons into the mike, like he's alone, without making eye contact with anyone on the train.

It's sight to behold, especially since most of the people on the train make no effort to hide their laughter. They're cracking up and pointing at him (unlike the guy sitting next to him in the photo who's trying to pretend nothing's happening).

I was giggling pretty hard myself, but trying to be discrete about it, when during the musical interlude, halfway through "There is a Rose in Spanish Harlem," he broke into a free form spoken word/rap bit about a romance with a "brown girl." The man I was standing next to, who practically had tears streaming down his cheeks, kept saying to me, "He likes you. He likes you!" I just shrugged and kept laughing as I was pretty sure that the this crazy guy was oblivious to my presence. Naturally, the commotion hit a fever pitch during the spoken word segment, and when a homeless woman got on the train and started giving her spiel for money, for some inexplicable reason everyone totally freaked out. They were hooting and cackling, but that guy didn't pay them any attention. He kept right on singing— a consummate professional!

Anyway, out of curiosity I looked up the words to the song. People criticize modern pop music for being raunchy, but at least they're to the point. These lyrics are downright nasty, albeit in an insidious manner. Enjoy!

There is a rose in Spanish Harlem
A red rose up in Spanish Harlem
It is a special one,
It's never seen the sun
It only comes out
When the moon is on the run
And all the stars are gleaming

It's growing in the street
Right up through the concrete
Soft and dreamin'

I found a rose in Spanish Harlem
A red rose up in Spanish Harlem
With eyes as black as coal
That look down in my soul
And starts a fire there
And then I lose control
I have to beg your pardon

I'm going to pick that rose
And watch her as she grows
In my garden

There is a rose in Spanish Harlem
A red rose up in Spanish Harlem
It is a special one,
It's never seen the sun
It only comes out
When the moon is on the run
And all the stars are gleaming
I'm going to pick that rose
And watch her as she grows
In my garden

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Dude, You Should Totally Do That!

I'm no entrepreneur, but I'd like to think that I can recognize a good business idea when I hear one.

I've had a few great brainstorms of my own. Circa 1999 I had the thought of opening Bill's Burgers, a fancy hamburger spot in Williamsburg ("fancy burgers for your fancy ass"). Now whenever I lay my eyes on a yuppie hamburger, I kick myself—hard—for missing out on that party (or should I say patty, har har) train. The yuppie ice cream truck, free-range/local/organic/human-grade cat food delivery service, and Goldman Sachs corporate sandwich cart are still in development phase. (I'm looking for business partners if anyone wants to float me, say, one or two million dollars.)

I was wandering around today, eavesdropping on people as I normally do, and heard a pretty novel idea. Three semi-adult frat boys were hashing out the details on an energy drink to be called Guido Juice. Containing seven essential amino acids (?), it would guarantee that you "get laid" that night or else you could get your money back. They turned the corner at University while I continued along 14th Street, so I missed out on some salient details. Would the drink be targeted toward men? And would it contain some kind of transformative substance that would make some asshole guido irresistible to the opposite sex? Or maybe it would be loaded with rohypnol and geared toward women? Anyway, those guys are fucking class A braniacs and I wish them all the best.

For all you non-NYCers, this is the sort of ridiculous stuff you constantly hear. Especially on an early spring day, like today, when people, buoyed by the warm temperature, are overstimulated, talk really loud, and wear unseasonable foot wear. Eavesdropping is definitely one of the most tantalizing aspects of life in NYC. Today alone I heard two construction workers tease a third who was planning to spend the afternoon at a baby shower, two security guards at Chelsea Market talk about what they do and don't like about cops, and, in my ghetto ass liquor store, a middle-aged man explaining the trials and tribulations of staying off the hooch to the Bacardi rep who was giving out (disgustingly warm) free samples. (Don't worry, he wasn't buying liquor, just lottery tickets).

But the highlight of my day involved a non verbal encounter: a huge muscle bound guy, totally oiled up, wearing a very loose fitting muscle shirt walking a tiny tiny miniature pinscher.

50 Days and Counting

I know I just put in an Earth Day plug for non-consumerism, but I am a Gemini. You know, twins? That means I'm inconsistent, superficial, and lazy.

Anyway, this post serves as a reminder—there are only about 50 days til my birthday. If you're wondering what could possibly please the woman who already has everything, check out my wishlist via my profile.

Happy shopping!

It's Earth Day!

Here's how I propose we celebrate Earth Day: not buy anything and stay home with the lights out. Call me a grinch, but I bet my carbon footprint is smaller than yours.

Just kidding. I'm not going to stay home, but I really am going to try not to buy anything.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Cool Artist of the Day: Raoul Hausmann

Viennese Dadaist. This is called "The Art Critic." I dig it. the critic is looking at work by Hausmann and doesn't seem to like it, which is funny. The little newspaper clipping reads "Raoul Hausmann, President of the sun, the moons, and the little earth." I can't make out the rest.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

R2B2 Proclaims "I am Not South Korean"

Here's me following the VA Tech shooting news yesterday: Please don't be Asian, please don’t Asian, please don't be Asian… Shit!

Asian Americans are a non-presence in American society, and I think it's because no one's scared of us. The two of you who took Asian American History 101 in college know that life wasn't always so sunny, but nowadays we're perceived as being less Fu Man Chu-ishly villainous, one positive result of our very useful and non-threatening mathematical skills. Anyway, the upshot is that no one pays us much attention. Then some crazy college student goes and "squeezes off" (to use the parlance of the Associate Press) rounds and rounds of bullets, killing 32 people.

The media has already started flapping about Seung-hui Cho's South Korean roots in Seoul, stalking his family, looking for clues to make sense of what happened. But, not so fast! Cho immigrated to America when he was 8, which means he spent his formative years in Virginia, whistling Dixie and soaking up our messed up hee haw American culture. South Korea (along with the rest of the world) has no history of school shootings and extremely few incidents of mass violence on this level. Plus private ownership of guns is illegal. So can we talk about the influence of American culture here? Anyone?

In the end, it won't matter whether Cho was born in Virginia or Seoul or Caracas, for that matter. Because everyone knows that all Asians all look alike, and America, especially in times of adversity, lumps East Asians—whether immigrants, born in the USA, Chinese, Japanese, Dirty Knees, whatever—together into a single faceless horde of others.

Clearly, what Cho did has nothing to do with any of us individuals living in that horde. But somehow we do feel responsible. Well, maybe not responsible, but personally connected in a way we should not be obligated to feel.

I'm having trouble dealing with the fact that he was Asian. Not just because this is the kind of crazy shit we like to think that only white people are capable of, not just because I worry about a backlash of racially motivated violence, but also because five years from now, when most of the details of the case are forgotten, everyone will still remember one thing: that gunman was Korean!

Quick, name me some famous Asian Americans!
Connie Chung
Harold, from Harold and Kumar. Not the character, but the actor in real life. What's his name…?
the coroner's assistant from Quincy
George "Mr. Sulu" Takei
William Hung
Wen Ho Lee
that guy who shot all of those kids at Virginia Tech

I'm not suggesting that people will associate Asian Americans with a propensity for mass murder, just that there's now one more negative association for a race that has so few to begin with, other than the stereotypes of being good at math, laundry, and piracy and substituting l's for r's in words like "fried rice."

Well, I, for one, am sick and tired of being part of this big lumpy mass of Asian Americanness. Taking a cue from our not so distant past*, I've made myself a little button that reads "I am not South Korean." I don't mean to alienate my South Korean brothers and sisters at their time in need, and I recognize that this may not be the most eloquent way to put my message across, but I think it says it all.

*In order to escape racially motivated violence during World War II, non-Japanese East Asians took to wearing buttons that read "I am not Japanese," "I am Philippino," etc. The heat was taken off those Asians living on the West Coast once they rounded up all of the Japanese and put them in internment camps, but I think they probably still wore their buttons just in case.

A Red-Letter Day!!! Hurrah!!! Jodorowsky Films on DVD!!!

I have just gone from irrevocably pissed off to beyond ecstatic in about 1.5 seconds. I just found out that one of my greatest desires is soon to be satisfied - I will soon own Alejandro Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain on DVD. This is possibly my absolute favorite film of all time - the only other contender is Luchino Visconti's The Damned (Russ has a flair for melodrama). For the past 11 years, I have watched a grainy VHS bootleg of this masterpiece with Cantonese subtitles, waiting all the while for the day when it would finally be given its due and committed to DVD. That day is coming, and it is May 1, when those fucking brilliant geniuses at the Criterion Collection will release "The Films of Alejabdro Jodorowsky", a three-movie box set including The Holy Mountain, El Topo, and Fando y Lis. Topo and Fando are both great...but the Holy Mountain...well, it's...holy...

For those who have not heard of Jodorowsky, he is a Chilean-born Ukrainian Jew and quite possibly the most amazing mad genius in the history of cinema. The Holy Mountain is an epic following the quest of the Jesuses of each of the 9 planets to attain immortaility by climbing said holy mountain, with an undercurrent of caustic commentary about colonialization, sexuality, and religion. It is very diffuclt to convey the spectacle of this film and it really must be experienced. For do you convey Jesus waking up in a room full of thousands upon thousands of replicas of himself, discovering they are made of bread, and eating them? A Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes that is the equivalent of shouting "fire" in a crowded theater - the bounty of bread and fish lead only to a greed-fuled pandemonium of violence among the poor. A re-enactment of the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs in which the Aztecs are lizards - dressed as Aztecs - and the Spaniards are frogs - dressed as conquistadores - arriving on mini-ships and invading a min-Aztec landscape? The Christs of the Nine Planets include a designer of religious themed-weapons and a guardian of a holy sanctuary of castrated penises. Jodorowsky himself is an alchemist who turns Christ's poo into gold. An Army parades with crucified skinned lambs. A wealth of physically disabled actors - Jodorwsky was known for his commitment to equal rights for the disabled and cast many disabled actors in his films. An old man who greets a bevvy of child prostitutes by removing his glass eye and lovingly clasping it into the hand of the youngest girl as tears run down his face.

This movie will blow your mind. I promise. See it!!! It is already available to be saved to Netflix for when it is released (May 1).

Starting the Day NICE and PISSED OFF

As a happy ranter, I always enjoy an opportunity to begin my day thoroughly pissed off (not as pissed off as, say, the guy I heard about on the traffic report this morning who was pulled over by the cops on his way to work, only to have a tanker truck plow into his pulled-over car. Now, that’s starting the day pissed off. The fine line between comedy and tragedy – if only the truck had hit the cop car.).

Anyway, I was granted such occasion this morning when I arrived at work (hence, already ripe for the pissing off), checked my e-mail, and was greeted by this, under the subject line “Keep It Going”:

“In Memoriam

Recently this past week, UK removed The Holocaust from its school curriculum because it "offended" the Moslem population which claims it never occurred.

This is a frightening portent of the fear that is gripping the world and how easily each country is giving into it.

It is now more than 60 years after the Second World War in Europe ended.

This e-mail is being sent as a memorial chain, in memory of the six million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians and 1,900 Catholic priests who were murdered, massacred, raped, burned, starved and humiliated with the German and Russia peoples looking the other way!

Now, more than ever, with Iran , among others, claiming the Holocaust to be "a myth," it is imperative to make sure the world never forgets

This e-mail is intended to reach 40 million people worldwide!

Join us and be a link in the memorial chain and help us distribute it around the world. “

As a suspicious and untrusting Jew, I promptly hit the trusty internet to see if this was in fact true. About three nanoseconds of research revealed that it was, in fact, untrue, and exactly the type of thing that really, really pisses me off. To use the Yiddish term, I “schreid Gewalt”, which in modern English basically means to go ballistic in a verbal manner, the manner in which we Jews most excel when going ballistic. Following is my response:

“This is blatantly untrue and based on a rumor that, due to its inflammatory nature, caught on like widlfire. If it were true, it would indeed be shocking and intolerable. As it is, it strikes me as exactly the type of thing people falsify and dramatize to incite further intolerance of a particular religious faith (in this case, Islam) and, hence, something no Jew should allow to stand.

Few Muslims are Jew-hating terrorists just as few Jews are Shylocks who secretly run the world. There's enough hate around without people buying every attempt to stir the pot. Think of the damage a rumor like this does to Muslim-Jewish relations, at a time when we need to be trying to fix things, not making them worse.

People, remember, there a lot of hatemongers out there who are always looking for a fight and would be happier to see us all dead rather than try to work out our differences. So please, question things like this. Let's try to stop the cycle of hate and violence, rather than perpetuating it. Isn't that the true lesson of the Holocaust?

Let's keep the truth going, not the hateful lies.”

I am of the general opinion that a lot of racism and anti-immigrant sentiment in this country is a result of “the man” putting the cat amongst the pigeons among the lower classes, so that the working white poor are too busy worrying about blacks and Mexicans to see that it's actually rich white corporate America that's schtupping them (shit, am I in a Jewish mood, or “Jewd”, today, or what? Since when do I say “schtupp”?) out of a fair shot? Well, it now occurs to me that it's the same rich white corporate America that fans the flames of Judeo-Muslim tensions to make sure we are all too busy hating each other to take control of our region’s natural resources (otherwise known as oil). Also, since most Americans side overwhelmingly with Jews over Muslims, the more that people are made to hate Muslims and see them as having influence and power and as Jew-haters, the more they will favor America keeping its fingers firmly entrenched in the Middle East’s pie, under the guise of protecting Israel and the rest of us from those crazy-assed power-mad Muslims.

Clearly my conspiracy-meter is off the chart today. But there seems to be some truth to this. I mean, it’s a fact that many supporters of Israel are evangelicals who really could care less about Jews and whose only basis for concern is a fast-approaching apocalypse, one result of which is that all Christ-less Jews will be hellbound…so is it too much to think that keeping Jews and Muslims at war is a great way to keep American control over the situation in the Middle east and, hence, oil???

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Russ's Collage du Who Knows What Jour

This a special day in the land of Russ's collages as Russ just found out that said collages will be exhibited as part of the Atlanta Biennial at the Atlanta Center for Contemporary Art. As a hobbyist and decidedly non-professional artist, Russ is pretty psyched and flattered by this. The curator wants a studio tour. Russ has no studio, but is happy to show the curator her old Tidy Cat litter boxes fully of old Us, Star, and Economist magazines, plus her glue stick and, if he is lucky, the stash of fragrant herbs that help to inspire her.

Russ mostly looks forward to cultivting the persona of a famous artist, ie publishing giant billboards of herself having sex with porn stars/members of the Italian Parliament, peeing on fireplaces at the Cider Tavern, and pushing her husband Bunches off the balcony.

Please Don't Ever Make One of These for Me

This is called a "Kitty Litter Cake." It's an actual, edible cake (to be eaten by humans, not cats - you are probably not confused, but I was), the making of which is one of Google's "how-tos" of the day. It is recommended as a gift for cat-lovers. Um, we love the CATS. We HATE the litter. Show me a purported cat-lover who is mostly in it for the litter and I will show you a very weird, and hopefully rare, beastiality-scat fetishist, NOT a cat lover.

Here is my recipe:

-Buy listed ingredients
-Make cake
-Throw up on cake because it looks so real
-Throw vomit-encrusted kitty litter cake away


-Buy listed ingredients
-Make cake
-Give to cat-loving friend
-Find new cat-loving friend, because the one you gave the cake to now thinks you are a gross moron

Japanese Mayor Killed By Monster

Oh man, I really thought I just read this. Turns out he was actually killed by a MOBSTER. It's still a good story (and yes, sad - I tend to be insensitve when there is anything remotely funny about someone's demise).

"TOKYO — The mayor of the Japanese city of Nagasaki was shot to death in a brazen attack Tuesday by an organized crime chief apparently enraged that the city refused to compensate him after his car was damaged at a public works construction site, police said.

The shooting was rare in a country where handguns are strictly banned and only five politicians are known to have been killed since World War II.

Mayor Iccho Ito, 61, was shot twice in the back at point-blank range outside a train station Tuesday evening, Nagasaki police official Rumi Tsujimoto said.

One of the bullets struck the mayor's heart and he went into cardiac arrest, according to Nagasaki University Hospital spokesman Kenzo Kusano. Ito died after emergency surgery, said Nagasaki prefectural police official Hirofumi Ito.

Tetsuya Shiroo, a senior member of Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan's largest organized crime syndicate, was wrestled to the ground by officers after the attack and arrested for attempted murder, police said.

He later admitted to shooting Ito with a handgun with the intent to kill, Nagasaki chief investigator Kazuki Umebayashi said at a news conference.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for a "rigorous investigation."

It was the second attack in the last 20 years against a mayor of Nagasaki, which was destroyed by a U.S. atomic bomb in 1945 and whose leaders have actively campaigned against militarism.

In 1990, Mayor Hitoshi Motoshima was shot and seriously wounded after saying that Japan's emperor, beloved by rightists, bore some responsibility for World War II.

Tuesday's attack appeared to involve a more trivial matter, however.

Shiroo reportedly clashed with Nagasaki city officials in 2003 after his car was damaged when he drove into a hole at a public works site. He tried unsuccessfully to get compensation from the city after his insurance company refused to pay up, according to Japanese broadcaster NHK.

Shiroo also sent a letter to broadcaster TV Asahi to protest recent money scandals linked to Ito, including hidden accounts and public works contracts, Kyodo reported."

R.I.P. Don Imus

Don't worry he's not really dead. He'll be back soon enough, probably with a show on Sirius, as Sparky points out. But let's all enjoy his going down in flames while we can.

As you may have noticed, Zeitgeist-y prefers to cover more important, underreported news (like this and this), but the Imus flap is seriously rubbing me the wrong way.

On principle I support any kind of earnest discussion on race in the mainstream press, mainly because it occurs so rarely. But the post-mortem commentary is starting to upset me more than his original remarks. And I'm talking about the coverage I get from my preferred media outlet: milquetoast public radio programming, not Fox or CNN or sensationalist TV news crap.

Let's automatically dismiss these opinions:
He's a good person who made a dumb mistake
He's really really really sorry
What about his charity? It helps black people!
What about freedom of speech?
and other such insightful commentary from people who just don't get it and never will.

By the by, isn't it infuriating how they deflect the heat right back at Al Sharpton? He's got baggage, that's for sure, but Imus' comments have nothing to do with Tawana Brawley or the Crown Heights Riot (said incidents are stuck to him in perpetuity). People fling all sorts of accusations at Sharpton, but most of the time, he just points out what's right under people's noses: racism!

And that's part of what ticks me off. Are we really talking about race or are we continuing to point fingers and tip toe around the issue?

CBS did not fire Imus to do the right thing. It took them over 10 days to can the fucker, and even after he was suspended, he was allowed to participate in that charity radiothon (what a guy). The only reason he was finally fired was because advertisers were fleeing left and right. Do you think CBS executives thought the comments were racist? Perhaps. Did they care? No!

More disturbing are some of the comments I've heard from the so-called liberal WNYC radio audience. So many (white) men called in to say that "nappy" is an unfortunate choice of word, but, really, it's just descriptive. The "ho" part is what got to them. And just as many (white) women said Imus' use of "ho" was unforgivable, an offense to women of all races. But can you separate the "nappy" from the "ho?" Put those two words together and it multiplies the effect of either on its own. Imus meant "nappy-headed ho" and that's exactly what he said.

I find it inconceivable that a grown man would use the word "ho" on a radio broadcast. But let's stay on topic—this is primarily about race. Those callers may mean no harm, but they are ignorant. In this post civil rights era, when whites have embraced hip hop, live amongst a black upper middle class, vote for Barack Obama, and see Ice Cube starring in a remake of an old Cary Grant chestnut, people forget that racism is still alive and kicking. Call me prejudiced, but I think it's just a little bit racist to pretend that racism doesn't exist.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Celebrate Earth Day with Deep Green Thoughts, Courtesy of Arnold Schwarzeneggar

Excellent tidbits from a speech by the Governator before the Council on Foreign Relations last week.

Topics addressed: bodybuilding, Kirk Douglas, biceps, prohibitionists, guilt, seesaws, muscles cars, Hummers, teary Native Americans, Michigan death threat, car acceleration, cell phones, Jacuzzies, the fringe, political penguins.

" I’m talking here today about the environment... And what is amazing about this is because three and a half years ago when I ran for governor I was followed around by environmental protestors with signs. You know, they didn’t like my Hummers, they didn’t like my SUVs or anything. As a matter of fact, they didn’t even believe when I talked about that I will protect the environment when I become governor. And now here we are, three and a half years later, I’m on the cover of Newsweek as one of the big environmentalists. So I say, only in America."

Now, I know this is a speech about the environment, but let me first talk about bodybuilding, which is another passion of mine. Because bodybuilding used to have a very sketchy image, as you know, and as a matter of fact there were a lot of people that were working out in the old days and they never admitted that they were working out because they didn’t want to be associated with that sport. As a matter of fact, a lot of the big Hollywood celebritiesClint Eastwood, Charles Bronson, Kirk Douglas—they all were working out with weights, but they never would publicly acknowledge it because they didn’t want to be associated with the gymnasiums that were like dungeons for weirdos, and for fanatics and so on.

So we knew that we had to change the image, and we did. We consciously changed the image. The book came out, Pumping Iron, and then the movie, the documentary of Pumping Iron came out. And then I started writing books on bodybuilding for men and for women, for children and all this, and started promoting and promoting. And eventually the image of bodybuilding changed so that now you literally could go anywhere in the world and you will find a gymnasium. As a matter of fact, you can go to any gymnasium and you will find ordinary people talking about their lats and their biceps and their abs and their body fat and all those kinds of things.

And so the reason why I’m mentioning this is because, like bodybuilders, environmentalists were also thought of as being kind of weird and strange and fanatics, the kind of serious tree huggers, as you know. Environmentalists were no fun. As a matter of fact, a lot of times you would think of those environmentalists as like prohibitionists at a fraternity party. But you know, someone showed me the other day a cartoon, a very funny one, that shows a salesman in a showroom talking to this couple. And he’s pointing at the car, and he says, “It runs on a conventional gasoline powered engine, and then when it senses a little guilt it switches over to battery power.”

And it’s very funny, but the strange thing about it is that there’s a lot of truth to that, because for too long the environmental movement has been powered by guilt. But I believe that that is about to switch over. It’s about to switch because it’s going to be powered not by guilt, but by something much more positive, by something much more dynamic, by something much more capable of bringing about real big change.

You know the kind of guilt that I am talking about, the smokestacks belching pollution that are powering our big screen TVs, or powering our Jacuzzis, or in my case, flying me around with private jets. Well, it is too bad that we can’t all live as simple lives as monks in Tibet, but you know something? It’s not going to happen.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I don’t think that any movement has ever made it, or has ever made much progress based on guilt, because guilt is passive, guilt is inhibiting, and guilt is defensive. You remember the commercial a number of years ago of the Native American that has seen what we have done to the environment, and then all of a sudden a tear runs down his cheek. Well, you know something? That approach did not work, it was disastrous. Successful movements are all built on passion, not on guilt.

Now, do I believe that what California does and the standards that we set will really solve global warming? No, of course not. What we are doing is applying leverage that at some point the whole environmental thing will tip. It’s like a seesaw. You walk up to it and then eventually it will tip down to the other side. California is so big, California is so powerful, that what we do has consequences. Now, even though when you look at a globe, California is just a little spot, but the kind of power of influence that we have on the rest of the world makes us look like a huge continent.

Now, there’s a billboard that is out in Michigan that accuses me of costing the car industry 85 billion dollars because of our carbon emission standards that we have set in California. The billboard says, “Arnold to Michigan: Drop dead.” But that’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is, “Arnold to Michigan: Get off your butt, join us.”

We have a car company that is called Tesla Motors. I don’t know if you all have heard of Tesla Motors. It’s a really sexy , it’s called the Tesla Roadster. It’s 100 percent electric. Now, I say to myself, why is it that the car company that has built their first car, and is new, is already building a car that has zero emissions, and Detroit cannot do it, so they’re falling behind? But that car, I test drove it. It goes from 0 to 60 in 4 seconds, it drives 130 miles an hour, and it goes 250 miles on a charge, and then it only takes 3 1/2 hours to recharge the car. It cost 100,000 dollars, this car, and it’s so popular it sold out immediately. And now the second version they’re building, the cost dropped down to 50,000 dollars. So it’s a huge, huge success story.

And economics can tell us where this is heading. It’s the same thing as with the cell phones. I remember 20 years ago I bought a cell phone—well, it was kind of a radio phone, really—it cost me 1,600 dollars. Then a few years later is was 1,200 dollars, then it was 700 dollars. I just bought my daughter a cell phone just recently. That cell phone cost less than 90 dollars. So the costs have come down, have dropped down so much, that now almost everyone owns a cell phone, and the same thing will happen with the environmental technologies on cars.

Some of you may have seen the cable TV show Pimp My Ride. Now, maybe not, but it’s a real cool show. What it does is, on this show, it takes old junk cars that you’re supposed to junk and destroy and get off the road, and make them into lowriders and into muscle cars. Now, my teenage son loves watching this show, he loves watching it every time. I watch it with him sometimes. As a matter of fact, I recently did a segment of the show that will air on Earth Day. And the reason why it will air on Earth Day is because we took this very cutting edge show that everyone loves, the young people love, and added something very environmentally hip to it. What we did was, we took a 1965 Impala and we made it into a lowrider, but not an ordinary lowrider. We dropped in an 800 horsepower engine that goes from 0 to 60 in 3 seconds. I mean, really very powerful.

That is what you have to do. You have to make things cool, you have to make things sexy and cutting edge. And so we don’t have to take away the cars from the people, the SUVs, the Hummers, and the muscle cars. No. That formula is a formula for failure. Instead, what we have to do is make those muscle cars and those SUVs and those Hummers more environmentally muscular. That is what we have to do. This is why now one of my Hummers runs on biofuel, and the other one of my Hummers runs on hydrogen fuel. Zero emissions on hydrogen fuel. And GM built that car for me. It’s, as a matter of fact, traveling around the world right now.

Now, the new environmental movement is not about guilt, it’s not about fringe, it’s not about being overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem. It is about mainstream momentum. Like I said, in bodybuilding, you have to change the image so it’s mainstream, so everyone wants to get involved in that movement.

Now, finally, let me say something about politics, what politics plays, and what a big part it plays in the tipping point. If you are against taking action on greenhouse gases and carbon emissions, your political base will melt away as surely as the polar icecaps, I can guarantee you that. You will become a political penguin on a smaller and small ice floe, drifting out to sea. Good-bye, my little friend.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Multiple Choice Quiz: Asshole, Stupid, or Just Plain Dumb?

It's quiz day on Zeitgeist-y!

Do you think human beings
a) are self absorbed (assholes)
b) are blissfully ignorant (stupid)
c) think big numbers suck (dumb)
d) all of the above (and then some)

Being a born cynic with below average skills in mathematics (dumb!), I've been pondering this question for some time. I caught a little nugget on the radio today that shed some light on the matter, an interview with Paul Slovic, University of Oregon professor and founder of Decision Research, a think tank of sorts with the mission statement of "helping individuals, industry, government, and society understand and cope with the complex and often risky decisions of modern life." They analyze the decision making process—why individuals choose to (or not) wear seat belts and societal opinions on broader sunny topics like global warming and nuclear technology.

The interview started on the subject of Darfur but Slovic also talked in more general terms about why we fail to intervene in large-scale humanitarian disasters. Basically, it comes down to the fact that people can't process big numbers. We should be shocked to hear about the hundreds of thousands killed in Darfur over the last few years, but numbers this big leave us feeling numb and disengaged. (As an aside, I wonder if a visual aid would help here, e.g., if you laid all of the dead end to end it would stretch halfway around the equator, or something like that? It works when they talk about penny minting or the number of chocolate chip cookies sold each year.)

Anyway, Slovic made the obvious point that humans readily respond to the plight of a single individual, or even a small group of people, rather than a needy, faceless horde. We need that emotional connection, with pictures and stories and narrative to motivate us into action. And here's where the media comes into play. We donated vast sums of money after the tsunami and Hurricane Katrina because CNN told us to, 24/7 for days and days on end. Or think back to Band Aid—all the more effective because of the celebrities. I could rant on and on about celebrity humanitarianism, but what can you say? People love their celebrities and their human interest sob stories, both subjects the backbone of the local 11:00 news. If people donate money because Sir Bono told them to, then at least they gave money. "I am Africa," ok, fine.

But Slovic's analysis continued, and here's where things get interesting. Decision Research collects opinion through "simulated experiments." In one study he asked people to pretend to be ministers (?!) in charge of allocating humanitarian aid to a Rwandan refugee camp based in Zaire. You could use your money to buy enough water to support 4,500 refugees. Would you give your money to a camp of 11,000 people or to a camp of 250,000? Respondents overwhelmingly opted to send aid to the smaller camp because, Slovic thinks, they looked at the percentage of people that could be helped, not the total number. Or, in his estimation, people mustered less emotion for the bigger camp of refugees with a population so mind numbingly large that it hindered their ability to decide to take action.

A study I read about on Decision Research's website is darker. In Slovic's words, "Donations to aid a starving 7-year-old child in Africa declined sharply when her image was accompanied by a statistical summary of the millions of needy children like her in other African countries."

I can kind of understand how difficult it is to wrap your head around a refugee camp of 250,000 people. But how is it that the factual information accompanying a picture of a starving child actually turns people off? Amazing!

I used to think that people were simply a) self-absorbed assholes and b) stupidly, blissfully, and willfully ignorant. Now I can assume that they are also c) dumb. You learn something new every day!

R.I.P. Kurt Vonnegut!

"If you can do a half-assed job of anything, you're a one-eyed man in a kingdom of the blind."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Quite Possibly the Stupidest Thing I have Ever Read, Ever

Jay Leno is probably somewhere on a top ten list of people I have given the least thought to in my lifetime. But my mother forwarded me this e-mail today with the subject "You are going to love this." Oh, how well she knows me. This is ostensibly a word from Jay Leno on the state of the USA. I can't account for its veracity. However, if it is true and he really said this, he is not only unfunny and large-chinned, but quite possibly the biggest jackass on earth. Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, Jay Leno:

The other day I was reading Newsweek magazine and came across some poll data I found rather hard to believe. It must be true given the source, right?

The Newsweek poll alleges that 67 percent of Americans are unhappy with the direction the country is headed and 69 percent of the country is unhappy with the performance of the president. In essence 2/3s of the citizenry just ain't happy and want a change.

So being the knuckle dragger I am, I started thinking, ''What we are so unhappy about?'' Is it that we have electricity and running water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Is our unhappiness the result of having air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter? Could it be that 95.4 percent of these unhappy folks have a job? Maybe it is the ability to walk into a grocery store at any time and see more food in moments than Darfur has seen in the last year?

Maybe it is the ability to drive from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean without having to present identification papers as we move through each state? Or possibly the hundreds of clean and safe motels we would find along the way that can provide temporary shelter? I guess having thousands of restaurants with varying cuisine from around the world is just not good enough. Or could it be that when we wreck our car, emergency workers
show up and provide services to help all and even send a helicopter to take you to the hospital.

Perhaps you are one of the 70 percent of Americans who own a home. You may be upset with knowing that in the unfortunate case of a fire, a group of trained firefighters will appear in moments and use top notch equipment to extinguish the flames thus saving you, your family and your belongings. Or if, while at home watching one of your many flat screen TVs, a burglar or prowler
intrudes, an officer equipped with a gun and a bullet-proof vest will come to defend you and your family against attack or loss. This all in the backdrop of a neighborhood free of bombs or militias raping and pillaging the residents. Neighborhoods where 90 percent of teenagers own cell phones and computers.

How about the complete religious, social and political freedoms we enjoy that are the envy of everyone in the world? Maybe that is what has 67 percent of you folks unhappy.

Fact is, we are the largest group of ungrateful, spoiled brats the world has ever seen. No wonder the world loves the U.S., yet has a great disdain for its citizens. They see us for what we are. The most blessed people in the world who do nothing but complain about what we don't have, and what we hate about the country instead of thanking the good Lord we live here.

I know, I know. What about the president who took us into war and has no plan to get us out? The president who has a measly 31 percent approval rating? Is this the same president who guided the nation in the dark days after 9/11? The president that cut taxes to bring an economy out of recession? Could this be the same guy who has been called every name in the book for succeeding in keeping all the spoiled ungrateful brats safe from terrorist attacks? The commander in chief of an all-volunteer army that is out there defending you and me?

Did you hear how bad the President is on the news > or talk show? Did this news affect you so much, make you so unhappy you couldn't take a look around for yourself and see all the good things and be glad? Think about it......are you upset at the President because he actually caused you personal pain OR is it because the "Media" told you he was failing to kiss your sorry ungrateful behind every day.

Make no mistake about it. The troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have volunteered to serve, and in many cases may have died for your freedom. There is currently no draft in this country. They didn't have to go. They are able to refuse to go and end up with either a ''general'' discharge, an ''other than honorable'' discharge or, worst case scenario, a 'dishonorable'' discharge after a few days in the brig.

So why then the flat-out discontentment in the minds of 69 percent of Americans? Say what you want but I blame it on the media. If it bleeds it leads and they specialize in bad news. Everybody will watch a car crash with blood and guts. How many will watch kids selling lemonade at the corner? The media knows this and media outlets are for-profit corporations. They offer what sells, and when criticized, try to defend their actions by "justifying" them in one way or another. Just ask why they tried to allow a murderer like O.J. Simpson to write a book about how he didn't kill his wife, but if he did he would have done it this way...Insane!

Stop buying the negativism you are fed everyday by the media. Shut off the TV, burn Newsweek, and use the New York Times for the bottom of your bird cage. Then start being grateful for all we have as a country. There is exponentially more good than bad.

We are among the most blessed people on Earth and should thank God several times a day, or at least be thankful and appreciative. "With hurricanes, tornados, fires out of control, mud slides, flooding, severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one end to another, and with the threat of bird flu and terrorist attacks, "Are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?"

Jay Leno

We Have Crime Here Too. It Just Involves More Fried Liver.

R2B2, I see your NYC crime escapades and raise you these Atlanta nuggets:

A CONYERS WOMAN said she bought an order of fried liver at a restaurant on Ponce de Leon Avenue. "Upon biting into one of the fried livers, a green fluid was ejected, and a long green stem was left in [the] liver," a police officer wrote. "[The woman] advised she vomited repeatedly and went to her doctor the following day. "[The woman] further advises [she] has kept the liver for our reference and has reported incident to KFChicken and the governing board for food restaurants."

A WOMAN WHO IS EIGHT MONTHS PREGNANT said she was at a party on Gun Club Road at about 2:30 a.m. She said another woman hit her in the face with a beer can. The pregnant woman, 22, had bruises on her cheek and arm, police noted. She only knew the alleged beer-tosser's first name. Police advised her to take out a warrant.

AN OFFICER TRACKED A 2007 PORSCHE going 62 mph in a 35 mph zone. He stopped the Porsche on Glen Iris Boulevard and talked with the driver, a 34-year-old man. The driver said, "No sir, I was not going 62 mph, I was breaking down!" He also said, "... it was trip time!" The man said he doesn't drive over the speed limit because he builds houses and abides by the law. Eventually, the man was arrested for DUI. The man said he had Andrew Young's number and he had something for the officer. The man also asked the officer to call Mayor Shirley Franklin for him, 'cause they are friends. He went to jail. The black 2007 Porsche was towed away.

AT AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL on Henry Thomas Drive, an administrator said a parent cursed and threatened two teachers in front of an entire kindergarten class. The parent used the words "motherfuckers" and "shit" and threatened to kick their ass, the teachers said. Apparently, he was upset because the teachers sent a note home about his daughter taking items from other kids that didn't belong to her. The parent, a 41-year-old man with a mustache, was charged with disorderly conduct and creating a disturbance in school.

Silly Cat Photos Starring Mimi

Here's Mimi watching Video Catnip, which is a 90 minute DVD of birds and squirrels chewing on seeds. The person who put it together—a genius—has to be making a fortune. It literally looks like someone put a camera on a tripod in a backyard, walked away, then slapped some clips together in the editing room. I mean, it's got lots of animals and all, but half the time they're not even making eye contact with the camera.

But I shouldn't complain too much about the quality. Mimi likes it alright, though she only pays attention for the first 20 minutes or so. I, on the other hand, can watch it forever. Sometimes you can hear what sounds like a lawnmower in the background. It's pretty surreal, especially against the African music coming from the apartment upstairs. And I love the chipmunks.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Crime Beat

Lately I've been squawking about how fancy and yuppified NYC has become. It's all true, of course, but I don't mean to suggest that fucked up shit isn't still going on left and right. I've been saving up some good crime beat clips from local newspapers, just for you. Enjoy!


Police nabbed a teenager who allegedly assaulted and threatened her father in their Crown Heights apartment. The incident began at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, when the victim, 48, found the bathroom of his Schenectady Avenue apartment near Prospect Place in filthy shape, sources said. He confronted his 19-year-old daughter, Ionie Nickle, and an argument ensued, cops said. Nickle allegedly kicked her father, scratched his neck and bit his arm. Nickle grabbed a kitchen knife, threatened to stab her father and knocked over a coffee table, cops said. Nickle was busted on assault, menacing and weapons charges.


Police are looking for the disgruntled customer who tried to torch a Preston Court car dealership near East 80th Street last week. Workers told police that on Saturday afternoon, March 31, the unidentified customer came to A1A Auto Sales claiming that the car he had purchased there wasn’t operating correctly and demanded a refund.After arguing with workers, the suspect ran off, claiming that he was going to return. Investigators were told that the customer returned a short time later, poured gasoline on the premises and struck a match. The gasoline was ignited, but workers quickly put the blaze out before the fire could spread to the building. Only some papers were destroyed, workers told police, adding that no one was hurt.


A store manager at a Kings Plaza store was punched in the face as he tried to stop an alleged shoplifter from spiriting off with a $12 pair of shoes, cops from the 63rd Precinct said. Workers said that they were going about their business at 2:30 p.m. on March 29 when they spotted 18-year-old Jenelle Hunte allegedly take a pair of shoes off a shelf and place them in one of her shopping bags. She then put the shopping bag atop her baby stroller and rolled out of the store, police alleged. The manager gave chase, calling at Hunte to stop several times and wait for security. When she finally did stop, she allegedly reeled back and punched the manager in the face, police were told. A cop patrolling the mall saw the fisticuffs and took Hunte into custody without incident, charging her with assault, menacing and robbery. No serious injuries were reported.


A thug was arrested for beating an acquaintance with a wooden mop handle in Crown Heights, authorities said yesterday. Shaking Fisher, 28, argued with the 44-year-old victim at Buffalo Avenue and Lincoln Place at 8 a.m. on Jan. 13, cops said. The dispute arose out of a $15 debt the victim owed Fisher, who allegedly struck him in the head and midsection, police said. Fisher then threatened to kill the victim's relatives and fled, sources said. The victim, who suffered minor injuries, picked Fisher out of a photo array, and cops busted Fisher Wednesday on charges of assault and menacing.


A 46-year-old Gravesend woman was arrested last week on charges that she tried to rob a United States Post Office letter carrier. Officials said that Ocello Marcello was charged with robbery when she allegedly fought with a letter carrier on the 1900 block of West 11th Street, then ran off with a bundle of mail. The letter carrier said that she was dropping off mail just after 2 p.m. on March 27 when Marcello allegedly confronted her, complaining about the quality of the carrier’s mail deliveries. As the two continued to argue, Marcello allegedly blocked the carrier’s cart. A short-lived fight over the cart ended with Marcello allegedly grabbing the bundle and fleeing into her home. Cops from the 62nd Precinct arrested Marcello after being called to the scene.

Chocolate Mary!

Check out this Easter nugget from Michigan's Citizen Patriot. Dang, I bet Chocolate Jesus is pissed!

Virgin Mary statuettes made of chocolate
Sunday, April 08, 2007

By Brad Flory

Nuns who appreciated good chocolate started one of Jackson's more unusual Easter traditions. Three decades ago, the sisters from St. Joseph orphanage convinced Gramer's Fine Candies Inc. to render the Virgin Mary in chocolate.

"At that time we sold (chocolate) crosses and spring lambs," said Jack Knapp, partner at Gramer's, which makes hand-dipped chocolates at 803 N. Waterloo St.

"Some of the nuns ... asked if we could make Virgin Marys, too, so they could take them back to their mother houses."

Gramer's bought a mold and each Easter since has produced 5-inch-tall standing figures of Mary.

Easter is the second-busiest holiday at Gramer's, behind Christmas. Secular figures like chocolate bunnies, eggs and chicks are the biggest seller for Easter but Gramer's also sells hundreds of religious-themed chocolates.

Chocolate crosses, which are not rare in the candy world, are sold along with large and small versions of both praying hands and the Last Supper. Virgin Mary figures cost $4.99 and come in milk chocolate, white chocolate and white chocolate colored aqua. They sold out last week.

Chocolate Marys were once sold in many cities, especially in ethnic neighborhoods that were heavily Catholic, Knapp said. Over time, they have become rare.

"No one in the commercial end of the business makes them because there is not enough volume," Knapp said.

Cindy Wicht, a candy-maker at Gramer's, said most buyers do not intend to eat chocolate Marys. "They use them for Easter decorations on the dining room table," Wicht said.

Linda Newman, another Gramer's employee, said, "A lot of people are buying them but they simply won't eat them, because of what they represent. "One lady said she is dipping it in wax. She's going to keep it year-round in the China cabinet."

Still, Gramer's is a candy company. It does not offer counsel about eating the chocolate.

"You can do what you want because you're buying it," said Gramer's employee Tanya Gibson. "But a lot of people won't eat it. They think it's sacrilegious to bite Mary's head off."

Is it wrong to eat a chocolate Mary?

"I cannot think of any reason why it would be sacrilegious," said the Rev. James Shaver of St. John Catholic Church. "But I don't think it should be in high demand as a pop-in-your-mouth sort of thing." Shaver compared a chocolate Madonna to candles of Mary that burn down. Both are fine if used without disrespect. "I guess I'd defer to nuns at the orphanage," Shaver said. "If they wanted candy of Mary, it must be a good thing."

Russ's Collage du Who Knows What Jour

Friday, April 6, 2007

Check Out This Amazing Tattoo

The top one. I am in awe at the extreme coolness of this tattoo. I don't know whose it is, but he/she is my new hero.

Silly Dog Picture Starring Russ's Parents' Neighbor's Dog

A Big Gay Victory?: The Chance to Spend $25K on a “Fairy Tale Wedding”

I am a huge proponent of equal rights for our nation’s many, many gay citizens and have long been both appalled and embarrassed by the shameful and pointless refusal to grant homosexuals equal rights. So needless to say, I was thrilled to hear this morning of a major victory for the rainbow coalition. Disneyland, a place perhaps more symbolic of America than any other, will now welcome the gay population with open arms, allowing them to emerge from behind closed doors so that they too may marry in public display of saccharine overspending in the Magic Kingdom.

So let me get this straight: A shocking number of Americans persist in the belief that homosexuality is a horrible, evil affliction curable by a stay at some sort of summer camp. Not even the most liberal of politicians will find some balls and openly embrace gay marriage. Homosexuals are legally unable to visit their sick or dying partners in the hospital, and when their partners do die, they face estate and inheritance issues that straight couples will never have to deal with. If a gay person falls in love with a foreigner, the only sure way that they can be guaranteed a life together is to defraud the government with a sham straight marriage. Clearly flaming celebrities persist in the belief that it is better to live a public lie than risk the damage that coming out would do to their careers, despite the fact that a) there are openly gay entertainers who are very successful and b) they are silently reinforcing the homophobia that they themselves so fear.

Michel Foucault (who was gay, and is my hero – the two are unrelated) had a theory that society deals with that which it finds most threatening and objectionable by absorbing it into the mainstream and neutering it. As usual, he has a point. When people say “But look at how much more accepted gays are today!”, what the fuck are they talking about? Sure, there are the aforementioned openly gay celebs and gay characters on tv shows. But think of the elision between the depiction of straight romance in the media and that of gay. Gay sex is neutered – if you judge by the mainstream media, people have nothing to fear from gays because they never fuck!! They hug a whole lot, though. Scary!

Foucault would fucking love this Disney shit. It is the ultimate realization of his theory. What bigger slap in the face is there than to say “You still can’t get married in 49 states and are constitutionally forever forbidden from doing so in at least 13, but you can go right ahead and, with our blessing, pump $25,000 into the corporate behemoth that is Disneyland for the chance to be greeted by a fanfare of dressed up idiots with trumpets as your horse-drawn carriage pulls up in front of Cinderella’s castle prior to your legally meaningless civil ceremony. Rest assured that much of the income this brings in will further line the pockets of the very people who donate massive amounts of money to the Republican party and support Bush’s constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.”

The saddest part of this is that there are probably oodles of gay couples with their AmExes out as we speak, dialing Mickey to book their nuptials. There is no greater evidence of the justification for gay equal rights than this – homosexuals are just as big of jackasses as the rest of us.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Separated at Birth

Silly Cat Picture Starring Orangello

Orangello loves all holidays, but Thanksgiving is his favorite. He says it's the family togetherness he loves, but we all know it's really the turkey.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

R2B2 is Poor Yellow Trash

Just the other day I was whining to Sparky about money, as I often do. The amount of time I spend complaining about money is inversely proportional to my bank balance, and since ye olde checking account is thinner than ever, I've been complaining quite a bit lately.

This day in particular, I was ranting about how I can never afford to take a nice vacation. By "nice," I mean something adult. Perhaps involving a white sands, a villa, or a Michelin-starred restaurant.

I'm totally exaggerating. I'd settle for a trip with a plane ticket costing more than $400. As opposed to the glorified long-weekend vacations I have planned for 2007 which 1) keep me chained to the Eastern seaboard; 2) were in part made possible with transport by Peter Pan Trailways; and 3) though incredibly cut rate, will still put me into debt. Not that I didn't have a lovely time, but note that my weekend in DC with Russ involved sharing a hotel room with her and her husband, Bunches—not that there's anything wrong with grown employed adults 30+ years of age sharing a hotel room in this manner!! Is there?!

Well, lo and behold, as part of their continuing research into NYC's disappearing middle class, the Drum Major Institute has released results of a survey that confirm what I long suspected: I'm poor!

Granted, "Saving Our Middle Class" is an opinion poll, and the results were tabulated from only about 100 responses from NYC civic leaders. But, as you know, beggars can't be choosers, so we'll take the survey results we can get.

The respondents were asked to define what they thought consituted a middle class standard of living. Most agreed that it entailed: holding a full-time job, sending kids to a high-quality public school, having health insurance, and saving for retirement. Many others added: owning a computer with internet access, after-school care for children, and the ability to take annual vacations. In terms of housing, middle class NYCers should be able to live alone or with family and pay less than 30% of their income toward rent.

And here are the income ranges they agreed upon to fit into the middle income bracket: Single person, $45,000-90,000; Family of 4, $75,000-135,000.

You do realize I'm half joking about my own level of poverty? I really and truly appreciate the fact that I can afford to go out to eat, buy chain store clothes made in Bangladesh, pay my student loans, pay rent on my hovel, and have broadband internet access. All these wonderful things, with only a moderate amount of credit card debt; and it's a figure I can say out loud without having to whisper in an embarassed tone.

But I have been thinking lately about ways to increase my economic viability. I believe in the American Dream! I want to be middle class!

So, these are the ideas that have been rolling around in my head. Let me know what you think.

1. Take my dad up on his offer to send me to finishing school with the goal of marrying a nobleman from a small European principality.
2. Take my dad up on his offer to fund a family business venture, an American-style bakery in inner Mongolia, to be run with my cousin (whom I've never met).
3. Take my dad up on his offer to partially fund graduate school: med school, law school, or business school. (My choice!)
4. Take my dad up on his offer to have me move back home; free room, board, and vehicle in exchange for cooking one meal a day.
4. Scratch off and mega millions.
5. Get hit by city bus and file law suit.
6. Move to a studio in Marine Park.

Sad that my dad's ideas seem better than mine...

Little Known Facts From Russ

I could not resist the urge to post another Easy Rider-specific fact. Toni Basil (of "Hey Mickey" fame) played Mary. She's one of the two hookers with whom Peter & Dennis (Wyatt & Billy, still) drop acid and go crazy in the necropolis in New Orleans.

Separated at Birth

Thanks to Sparky for suggesting we resuscitate this old chestnut.

Little Known Facts From Russ

We all know that Phil Spector had some really crazy Hair Bear hair, was a great producer, is definitely a horrific misogynist, and is likely a murderer of B-movie actresses. But how many know that he was also The Connection in Easy Rider? He's the guy Peter & Dennis (Wyatt & Billy) meet on the airport runway in the limo to sell coke.

Silly Cat Picture Starring Orangello

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Russ's Collage du Who Knows What Jour

The Nuremberg trial defendants in the dock. Please note the guards are various celebrity pets (Bit Bit, Tinkerbell, Sugarpie, Daisy, and Foxy Cleopatra) and Ryan Seacrest. Seacrest out!

Monday, April 2, 2007

Malfeasance at the BPL. Why am I Surprised?


You might recall from an earlier post that I had been banned from the Brooklyn Public Library due to $18 in overdue fines (not all my fault!), which, really, I had no intention of ever paying. Well, I had to use a computer program available on library computers, which necessitated that I get my card out of hock first. It turns out I actually owed a whopping $28 dollars in fines. But you can carry a $25 fine without penalty. There's the happy part of my library experience.

It's been years since I've actually been to the Central Branch, and they've since upgraded their computers. Now you have to sign up for a spot by swiping your card and entering a pin at one computer, then watching the progress of the queue on a second monitor. The system tracks everything via your library card barcode, so when you sit down at your assigned machine, you have to reswipe your card and enter your pin to log on. After that you have 30 minutes to use the computer before you get booted off. Technology! It's a pretty efficient system, but don't you miss the days where everything was a free for all, when you could cut the line and get away with it? I'm not just talking about the computer line at the library, if you know what I'm saying.

Anyway, I'll grant that what transpires next has something to do with my own nosiness (I'm nosy. So what—sue me.), not just the inherent weirdness of human beings.

I started click clacking away at my station, right next to a little boy, maybe 12 or 13, who was surfing the web. His mom kept coming back to check on him, trying to direct him to sites that would help him do his math homework, but when I glanced over at his screen, I saw that he was reading about Ron Jeremy!

That kid left after a few minutes only to be replaced by an older guy, maybe in his late 30s, who immediately proceeded to look at gay porn—photos and videos! I was tempted to leave straightaway, but he was quiet about it, and I had a lot of work still left to do. After a few minutes he reached into the plastic bag he had been carrying around and pulled out one of those dark privacy filters you can stick to monitors! My concentration was shot by that point—and I figured things were about to get hot and heavy—so I beat a hasty retreat.

Do you think this guy likes to look at porn in public? Or does he think the privacy screen hides the fact that he's doing something sketchy (when in fact it actually enhances it?!). Or perhaps he doesn't have internet access at home? I wouldn't have necessarily thought about the latter, but I noticed that it was mainly brown people using the library computers and white people sitting at tables with laptops. Not that that's a valid justification, but naturally you couldn't look at internet porn at home without an internet connection.

I forgot to mention that throughout all of this, there was a cop passing back and forth, which suggests that there's plenty of malfeasance afoot at the BPL on a regular basis.

Anyway, I noticed that the titles of the books I checked out are pretty funny when put together:

1. The Great Wall of New York
2. I Don't Know What I Want, But I Know It's Not This: A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding Gratifying Work
3. Indecision
4. Poor People

What a dork.