Friday, September 28, 2007

The Kingdom (of Dirty, Dirty Ay-Rabs)

To be fair, I have not seen this film and should not be making assumptions about it. However, a) that is no fun, b) I have heard quite a bit about this film from trusted (aka lefty) news outlets, and c) I know enough about Hollywood movies to be able to predict the entire plot arc and sum up all the major characters in most standard Hollywood fare, including this drivel. I mean, seen one, seen 99% of them. And yes, I adore Chris Cooper and Jason Bateman, but that doesn't mean I need to watch either of them take a shit, which I suspect is basically what I would be doing if I saw this movie. Jamie Foxx I could cheerfully slap. Jennifer Garner I could cheerfully...zzzzz...sorry, I fell asleep for a second there. Where was I? Oh, of note: for some bizarre reason, Anne Deavere Smith is in this movie. What the fuck? Is this some kind of joke? The again, she was on The West Wing (never seen it, but thanks to IMDB, I know she was in it). I'm going to chalk this up to research. But it's kind of like Cornel West being in Norbit 2.

Anyway, as you all know I like to say Michael Haneke's name every five seconds or more often, if possible. Conveneintly for me, his genius ass is relevant to this discussion. There was an excellent article about him in the Times magazine last Sunday. (note: I just had a truly harrowing Bad Georgia moment when I saw that Haneke will be personally introducing a screening of Funny Games on October 15 at MoMA. This would never, ever happen here, and I am having one of those "why am I living here?" moments). He said some stuff in this article that seems especially apt in light of the latest entry in propganadistic, jingoistic genre of Ay-rab-bashin, foreign policy-advancing American cinema that is The Kingdom. Here goes:

“Political manipulation is rampant in the American media,” Haneke told me over lunch in downtown Manhattan last winter. “It’s present in the movies too, of course. It’s everywhere. I teach filmmaking in Vienna, and I like to show my students ‘Triumph of the Will,’ by Leni Riefenstahl, then something by Sergei Eisenstein — ‘Battleship Potemkin,’ for example — and then ‘Air Force One,’ the movie in which Harrison Ford plays the U.S. president. Each of these films has a distinct political agenda, but all make use of exactly the same techniques, all have a common goal — the total manipulation of the viewer. What’s terrible about the Harrison Ford film, though, especially terrible, is that it represents itself as simple entertainment. The audience doesn’t realize there’s a message hidden there.” Haneke sat back and shook his head gravely.

(then further on in the article)

Haneke has his own theory for the divergent routes taken by Hollywood and Europe, one in which, perhaps not surprisingly, the darker side of German and Austrian history plays a central role. “At the beginning of the 20th century,” he told me, “when film began in Europe, storytelling of the kind still popular in Hollywood was every bit as popular here. Then the Nazis came, and the intellectuals — a great number of whom were Jewish — were either murdered or managed to escape to America and elsewhere. There were no intellectuals anymore — most of them were dead. Those who escaped to America were able to continue the storytelling approach to film — really a 19th-century tradition — with a clear conscience, since it hadn’t been tainted by fascism. But in the German-speaking world, and in most of the rest of Europe, that type of straightforward storytelling, which the Nazis had made such good use of, came to be viewed with distrust. The danger hidden in storytelling became clear — how easy it was to manipulate the crowd. As a result, film, and especially literature, began to examine itself. Storytelling, with all the tricks and ruses it requires, became gradually suspect. This was not the case in Hollywood.” At this point, Haneke asked politely whether I was following him, and I told him that I was. “I’m glad,” he said, apparently with genuine relief. “For Americans, this can sometimes be hard to accept.”

I love this guy. I really, really love him.

Bad Georgia: A Message to Congressman Tom Price

Tom Price is my Congressman, and he has voted "No" on the new SCHIP bill. I wrote this letter to him this morning. If you live in Congressman Price's district, I encourage you to do the same.

Congressman Price:

I forward petitions to you almost daily regarding one issue or the other, but I believe this is the first time I have written a personal message. I cannot stress enough how disappointed I am in your No vote regarding SCHIP. I am in receipt of your letter explaining your position, and while I truly appreciate your efforts to communicate with your constituents and keep us informed, your words have only made me even more appalled at your vote.

Although I am sure you have many constituents whose lives and the lives of their children are made better by PeachCare, I wonder if you have ever had a personal relationship with someone who struggles to make ends meet and must choose between such basics of daily life as rent, food, and their child’s healthcare. I wonder if you or anyone close to you has ever sat up all night in an emergency room with a sick child. Given your vote on SCHIP, I doubt you have.

I would like to tell you the story of a very good friend of mine. Like you, I am a relatively privileged Caucasian with a strong educational background. I grew up with a wonderful, supportive family and was given every opportunity in life. I grew up in the 30067 zip code and did not know anyone from a disadvantaged background until I left home for university. I know work at an Atlanta law firm, where I have forged a strong friendship with a young African-American woman who is a single mother with two children who benefit greatly from PeachCare. This young woman grew up with every possible obstacle to success that you can imagine. Her family was very poor; she had no father; alcoholism, drug abuse, and disease were rife. She was the victim of childhood sexual, physical and psychological abuse. She is very, very intelligent and a high school graduate, but was unable to attend college due to cost. Despite these remarkable odds, she has done everything “right” her whole life, according to what our society expects of its citizens. Her children were born in wedlock to the same father; he left her just over 3 years ago and she has raised her children alone since then. She drives over an hour each way every day to come to work, where she has truly transformed the department she runs single-handedly for a salary of around $25,000 per year. Last year, she was diagnosed with a serious, incurable illness, yet she has an almost stellar attendance record and is one of the most beloved and respected members of our staff. She has been told by her doctor that she could claim disability and hence government medical benefits for herself and her children, but she is proud and a good mother and wants to set a good example to her children by working hard. She also provides moral and some financial support to extended family members struggling with addiction, autism and long-term unemployment. Her husband seldom makes any child support payments. With her salary, she can barely make ends meet each month and constantly has maxed-out credit cards. Without PeachCare, she would be unable to provide health care for her children.

This young woman could easily have been the poster child for the anti-welfare movement – the disadvantaged “loser” who falls prey to (or opts for, depending on your belief) childhood pregnancy, unemployment, addiction, and a life of crime. But she has worked very, very hard her entire life to embody the American dream that anyone can make something of themselves.

The thought that a person like this may soon have the added enormous stress of night-long emergency room visits thanks to you and your cronies disgusts me. You claim that this new SCHIP incarnation is the first step on a slippery scope to government-funded single-payer healthcare and invoke the specter of socialism. Given that your top contributor is a private healthcare company (Resurgens Orthopaedic) and your number five contributor an insurance company (AFLAC), I find this stance to be very disingenuous. I am also sickened that a person whose voting record shows a consistent lack of support for family planning, abortion rights, and reproductive health care measures would vote against children’s health care. Sir, you embody the cliché of a selfish, privileged man who wants to tell women when and how they can reproduce yet denies them any assistance in the raising of their children while bolstering the interest of a greedy, corrupt, and thoroughly broken private health care system that will, I am quite sure, be the downfall of our society if it is to continue along its current course. I also feel that, given your votes on issues regarding separation of church and state, that you have an agenda concerning reproductive freedom that is informed by ideas that our Constitution clearly states have no place in American politics.

I do not think I have ever agreed with a single vote you have cast, but have generally respected you for your efforts to explain your position and supported your right to your beliefs in this free society. On this occasion, however, I must say that, frankly, I am completely disgusted by you and truly ashamed to have you represent me in our nation’s government. I wish that you and your cronies could be made to live for just one month with the circumstances that my friend and millions like her must endure throughout their lives, as I am quite sure that this would quickly change your vote on SCHIP. As this is an impossibility, all I can do is let you know how I, your constituent, feel.

Sir, I respectfully ask you to please reconsider your position on this incredibly important issue. Thank you very much for taking the time to read these heartfelt words.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

REALLY Bad Georgia: Let Me Just Say This Now

If Newt Gingrich runs for President and wins - which I hate to say I think he actually could, but then again I am negative about the '08 elections to the point of complete insanity and can no longer tell wehre being negative ends and not wanting to jinx it begins - I will, most likely, be writing this blog from jail (I bet the computer I will have access to there will be nicer than the one I have at work, and the IT people will probably be a lot smarter).

I have a particular hate for Newt Gingrich because he has been a part of my life longer than he has for most of you lucky stiffs. I grew up in what was, from 1990 on, Georgia's 6th District and Newt's undisputed kingdom of very rich, very loyal, very Republican, and very stupid idiots (yes, I said stupid idiots and I am aware that's redundant). Newt had been around a little before that but the 6th district hadn't been gerrymandered/DeLay'ed to his liking until '92.

Since it is probably no news at all to most people who read this (ie, R2B2, my parents, and the occasional Brazillian who tries to sell me a t-shirt - or at least, I think he/she is trying to sell me a t-shirt but my Portuguese is fair at best...okay, it's non-existent. Oh, wait, no it's not! Obrigado! Christiano Ronaldo! Mas que nada! Nem vem que nao tem!!) that Newt Gingrich really, really sucks, I will not harp on about it, but rather will attempt to entertain with a little story about growing up in the 6th district.

The year was 1992. I was a senior in high school. Newt Gingrich was running against a poor, doomed schlub of a lawyer called Tony Center (for a blast from the past, see this profile of the contest from the New York Times archive), who would wind up losing by a shockingly narrow margin - Newt took 57%; Center took 42% - at the time it was represented as a thorough trouncing, but it's actually kind of amazing given how red the district was and continues to be (current grade-A asswipe/Georgia Senator Johnny Isaakson was involved in local politics at this point and his equally unappealing son, Kevin, went to my high school).

Anyway, it was the week of the homecoming football game and, accordingly, Spirit Week, which meant that each day had a different theme, usually involving some kind of dressing-up, and always culminating in the cheerleaders dressing in football uniforms and the football players dressing in cheerleading uniforms. I remember one particularly Ogre-like fellow who wore a cheerleading skirt around each huge, fleshy thigh (note: I would, that following spring, do shots of Evan Williams with this guy in a hotel room in Panama City Beach. At the time, he was wearing swim trunks and had a Confederate flag tied around his neck like a cape, and Skynrd's "Simple Man" was playing. Oh, the irony-flooded memories! Spring Break '93!!). One of the themes was 80s day, when everyone got to come to school dressed all 80s (something most people just can't ever get enough of, as discussed here). Senior year was the year that most of us took US Government as our Social Studies class, and, as a part of our political education, Gingrich and Center held a debate at the school, with the entire senior class as their audience. It was awful. The 7-10 of us who identified as Democrats huddled together and fearfully, half-heartedly cheered poor Tony on as the remaining 590-ish students waved the Gingrich lawn signs they had yanked out of thier parents' yards that morning and whooped and hollered and drooled all over Newt. A contingent of very slutty girls went mental and screamed "baby killer!!" at Tony Center when the subject of baby killing - I mean, abortion - came up (again, irony, as I'm quite sure some of these girls were pregnant shortly thereafter and either had or could have used abortions. Irony was big at George Walton High School).

The best part about the whole affair (you mean none of that was the best part?!)was that the Atlanta news media was, naturally, on hand to document this and interview the student body (sans brain). Unfortunately, none of the news outlets bothered to explain that it was 80s day, so there we all were (well, not me), on the evening news, looking like we were in some kind of time warp, with dudes with pink sweaters tied around their necks, gummy bracelets galore, huge bangs, etc.

Walton High School had only been on the news two other times that I knew of prior to this. One time was when a Cambodian immigrant was found to have TB (Maddox Jolie! You scamp!) and we all had to be tested and all the popular girls pretended to be really traumatized by the little pricky test thing and screamed and fake-passed out and shit and one really big guy actually did pass out, and my test came up red and I was going to have to go to the CD fucking C but then it turned out it was all a big mistake; I don't recall why. The other time was a year or two before I started school there, when someone let a greased pig go on the football field during the homecoming game and our campus cop, a very disturbed Appalaichain-type Vietnam vet with what seemed to be a serious case of PTSD, was humiliated by falling flat on his face while trying to apprehend said slippery pig, and proceeded to take out his gun and shoot it in front of about 2,000 people, many of them children and fans of Charlotte's Web. He had a his gun taken away and, thereafter, had to stab, suffocate, garotte, strangle, or beat to death all greased pigs released onto the football field.

The school has been on the news since then but I'll save those bedtime stories for another time. In summation, if Newt Gingrich is a dick, and he made my school look out of style to the entire metro area.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Cool Twist on a Horrible Cliche

As previously ranted about, I despise unnecessary remakes of movies, and am essentially of the opinion that every remake is unnecessary, with few exceptions. What I hate the most about remakes (aside from the fact that they assume we are all dolts who can't watch stuff in black and white or read subtitles, and aside from the fact that the remake phenomeon is indicative of Hollywood's unwillingness/inability to make anything original other than a morning turd) is that they strip away the original intention of the director and assume that story is everything to a movie. They also seriously alter the original film by replacing actors who are relativley unknown, either by virtue of being foreign or by virtue of being from another era, with stars as familar to us as our own families. Okay, yes, granted, we can of course "know" these old/foreign actors, but the distance of geography or time adds something to a movie, making it easier to truly appreciate the stuff we don't appreciate when we watch a Hollywood blockbuster. As fine of an actor as some big Hollywood star may be (and I can't think of many I think are even particularly good), it is very difficult to tell because we know too much about them and their personas become inseparable from the role they are supposed to be playing. That's why it's called a "star vehicle." And it seems to be in the very nature of the remake that it routinely feature exactly these type of stars. I guess the kind of lazy-ass who wants to remake a movie is the kind of lazy-ass who doesn't want to think too much about casting, just making money.

So imagine my happy surprise today as I discovered that one of my favorite directors, Michael Haneke (previously glorified here), is remaking his own foreign language masterpiece, Funny Games, for an English-language audience. Oh man, this movie is so awesome, and so brutal, and probably wouldn't get remade by an American studio anyway because the brutality of it is so cerebral. It's about a home invasion in which two overprivileged little fuckers take a nice, normal family hostage at their vacation home and (spolier alert!) psychologically and physically torture them before killing all of them. Turns out they did the same with the neighbors, too. The conciet is not altogether unfamiliar, but what makes the movie so great is that Haneke isn't simply entertaining us by showing us a scary story - he's actually torturing the audience too. This is the most common thing you will hear about Haneke and it is spot-on, particularly in the case of Funny Games. It lulls you along with what should be really scary, harrowing fare but which is merely entertaining as you have seen something resembling it a hundred times before in horror movies and thrillers. Then, Haneke pulls the rug out from under you and makes you, the viewer, a part of the action. The killers start manipulating the actual film istelf, not just the story line, and even talk to the audience. All of a sudden you are chillingly aware of how numbed you have become to the horrific. How it's just popcorn to you, and it shouldn't be. It doesn't hurt that it's also a great movie, well acted and fantastically written and paced.

So yes, I am okay with this remake. The cast makes me more than okay with it. Tim Roth (where has he been? i have definitely missed him) plays the patriarch. Naomi Watts plays the matriarch. I didn't think much of her until I saw Mulholland Drive. She does fear and desperation better than most, I think, and she kind of looks like a real person. My favorite piece of casting, though, is Michael Pitt as the far more clever and sadistic of the two killers, the undisupted leader who often seems to be torturing his sidekick as much as his victims, and Brady Corbet as the slow, picked-on sidekick. I really like both of these young actors. Michael Pitt did the heartless privileged youth thing to perfection in Bully (another must-see - the best Larry Clark movie, if you ask me), and Brady Corbet did the easily-led loser sidekick to the ammoral sexy guy equally well in Mysterious Skin (another out of control awesome movie, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is amazing in him...).

Bring it on, Haneke! I would of course rather that you make another amazing original movie, but whatever. This I can live with.

Friday, September 21, 2007

KKK expose

It's been a while since we've dissected a little known fact here on Zeitgeist-y and I've got a live one to lay down on you today.

Here's a common misconception about the KKK. Though it's recognized today as the largest white power (saying white supremacist is so un-PC, isn't it?) group in the United States, the group actually began as a small nineteenth century company of craftsmen and potters who operated under the name of Kountry Kousin Krafts. (Try saying that three times in a row and you'll understand why they decided to go with the abbreviation!) For many happy and productive years the KKK produced ceramic figurines of ghosts, silver crosses, and watch fobs until one very deranged member of the family overpowered the gentle and soft-spoken artisans and took things in a very unexpected direction.

You can still see the tradition of fine craftsmanship and attention to detail at work at Ozark Crafts, whose ecommerce page links directly from the KKK's site.

OK, in all seriousness, I have to share with you some Klan speak I found posted on good old Wikipedia.

First off, if you suspect you're in mixed company, you can say "AYAK" ("Are you a Klansman?!). The other person will either respond "AKIA" ("A Klansman I Am!) or else run off in horror.

And check out some of these terms created William Simmons, the man credited with reviving the Klan in 1915. I have nothing to say about the monster, except to wonder if he might have been a space alien?
* Klabee: treasurers
* Kleagle: recruiter
* Klecktoken: initiation fee
* Kligrapp: secretary
* Klonvocation: gathering
* Kloran: ritual book
* Kloreroe: delegate
* Kludd: chaplain

Thursday, September 20, 2007

He Speaks So Well!!!

I encounter racism (well, I guess "witness" would be a better word than "encounter" - I "encounter" sexism and the occasional dollop of anti-semitism) much less than one might think I would, living in Atlanta. It's definitely there, but hardly more than in NYC, and definitely WAAAAAY less than in England. Most of the stuff that makes me squirm down here is directed at the Latino population, aka "the Mexicans."

There have, however, been one or two doozies, and naturally they occured where I (sadly) spend most of my time, the workplace. A few months ago, the receptionist buzed my desk to tell me a courier was there for me. I went up to the front desk, baffled as I was not expecting a courier, to find a tall, attractive black guy in his early 40s, wearing what was clearly business attire, complete with a motherfucking bluetooth wireless "hi, I'm on Star Trek and when I take this thing off I look like I had a skin graft because of the mark it leaves" earpiece-thingy. Um, yeah, he was a client. The receptionist knew she fucked up and at least had the decency and common sense to turn all kinds of beetroot color and get flustered and try to explain how she thought he was a courier because he had a file - hello, it's a law firm, show me a person who comes in here without some kind of file, fool.

So that was relatively mortifying. I also bore witness to an elevator conversation between an unknown older white dude and a business-clad younger black dude (you mean there is more than one!). They were chit chatting, small talk (strangers speak to each other in public here), and suddenly the white dude asks the black dude what he's doing in the building, does he work here, perhaps in maintenance? Yeah, jackass, he's taking out the trash in his Dockers and tassle loafers. That briefcase? That's where he puts the trash. Duh!! Everyone knows "The Mexicans" take out the trash!!

Fast forward to today. I witnessed the signing of a prenuptial agreement between a young black couple. They were both very attractive, so after we finished I went to rib my (black) co-worker who had declined to serve as the second witness, telling him how he missed out because the girl was cute. So then the attorney who did the prenup comes by and butts in and informs us that the guy is a doctor, a surgeon even, and he's so well spoken! At this point, I returned to my desk to put my head in my hands. I waited until the coast was clear and went back and asked my co-worker if he knew the guy was black the second the attorney described him as "well-spoken." Said co-worker proceeded to bend over double in hysterical, knowing laughter. Appalled glee and high fives were exchanged, in addition to extensive quoting of Chris Rock. I love Chris Rock. Following is the quote we referenced:

"Whenever Colin Powell is on the news, white people give him the same compliments: 'How do you feel about Colin Powell?', 'He speaks so well! He's so well spoken. I mean he really speaks so well!' Like that's a compliment, sh*t. 'He speaks so well' is not a compliment, okay? 'He speaks so well' is some sh*t you say about retarded people that can talk. What do you mean he speaks so well? He's a fuc*ing educated man! How the fu*k you expect him to sound, you dirty motherfuc*er? 'He speaks so well.' What are you talking about? What voice were you expecting to come out of his mouth? 'Imma drop me a bomb today', 'I be Pwez o dent!'.""

Bottom line, this is funny but scary. This dude had NO CLUE what a faux pas he made when he said what he said. And this is an educated Jew from New York. I feel like telling him that what he said is akin to saying "That Mr. Cohen! So nice! And so free with his money!"

A Little Bit of Dubai in Atlanta

I received a press release yesterday regarding winter activities in Atlanta. This little nugget caught my eye:

"Hotlanta will officially cool off on Nov. 10 with the grand opening of Snow Mountain, featuring 10 tubing runs and spots to create snowmen, snow angels and snowballs. Open every weekend through Jan. 27, the attraction’s state-of-the-art snow-making magic guarantees you more than 200 tons of fresh snow daily. And, with a moving sidewalk to lead you up the 400-foot tubing hill, you’ll want to go again and again." (my emphasis)

Hee hee. This reminds me of the indoor skiing they have in Dubai. I'm sure the only real difference here will be that people will have rat tails, peach tattoos, and Jesus t-shirts instead of Prada shoes, huge diamonds, and hijabs. The moving sidewalk is a hilarious testament to the laziness of the average Georgian. Yeah, when I picture that moving sidewalk loaded up with fat snowy hicks, I do want to go again and again - go pee in my pants laughing!

Obviously, I will be there with bells on. Stay tuned for photos of said snowy hicks.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Quiz time!

This one's a little tough, but try your best.

(cue Sesame Street song)
Three of these things belong together
Three of these things are kind of the same
Can you guess which one of these doesn't belong here?
Now it's time to play our game (time to play our game).

If you tagged sightless Stevie Wonder, who's been blind from birth, you are wrong! Babyface is also an incorrect response, even though he is the only one with a babyface. Anyone who chose Garth Brooks—the only one of the four wearing a hat—gets ten points.

Now what do these four actually have in common? Believe it or not, they are four of the singers that performed at the Dream Concert at Radio City Music Hall a couple nights ago to raise money for the building of the Martin Luther King Memorial in DC. The rest of the lineup included Aretha Franklin, Carlos Santana, and Joss Stone. Now, I'm not trying to say that there isn't room for a person of non-color at an event celebrating a great civil rights advocate. We're not talking Nation of Islam, here; MLK would've wanted whitey to represent. But if you're going to hire a token white man, why the fuck Garth Brooks?

Well, I do believe Google can shed some light on the manner. Do a search for "Garth Brooks" and "Civil Rights" you get Wikipedia page about Garth's 1990 song "The Dance."

The song is written with a double meaning both as a love song about the end of a passionate relationship and the lyrics also work to tell the story of someone dying because of something they believe in, or a moment of glory. Brooks illustrated this in the music video for the song.

The song's video shows several American icons and examples of people who died for a dream they had. These include archive footage of the following:

* Lane Frost - World Champion Bull rider, who was killed by a bull after riding it for a full eight seconds in the arena.
* Keith Whitley - Country singer who died after he became addicted to alcohol.
* Martin Luther King, Jr. - Baptist minister who is best known for his involvement in the American civil rights movement and was assassinated in 1968.
* The crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger, shortly before it exploded after its launch in 1986.
* John Fitzgerald Kennedy - President of the United States who was assassinated in 1963.
* John Wayne - Film actor best known for his roles in Westerns.

The song has since become an anthem. In 2001, after the death of Dale Earnhardt, Brooks was invited to an awards ceremony that was honouring him to play the song as a tribute. It is has also been played at funerals.

Aw, Garth... I'm really touched that that you put MLK in the same class as Lane Frost. Eight seconds in the ring with a bull? That's something alright!

Shout at the Casting Agent!!!

As a youth, I spent what seemed like an eternity but was probably more like one year being obsessed with Motley Crue - in my chronological pantheon they were the bridge between Duran Duran and Guns n' Roses (brief predicatble Poison dalliance before GNR, but we won't count that...can we not count that, please?). I started with Theatre of Pain but loved them enough to actually backtrack and get Shout at the Devil and Too Fast for Love - this was probably the first time I manifested any interest in what a band had done before I discovered them, so I guess it was kind of my first mature fandom experience. I remain a fan to this day, although my favorite has definitely switched from Tommy (idiot!) to Nikki (hot and witty!). I even finally realized my long-lost dream of seeing Crue perform live when they returned to Phillips Arena - Atlanta's answer to Madison Square Garden - to pick up where they had left off a year earlier when Vince Neil had broken his ankle during the 4th song while jumping off a riser. One for Razzle, I guess (in case you don't know, Razzle was the drummer of Finnish glam punk band Hanoi Rocks and was killed in a drunk driving accident one New Years Eve, with Vince behind the wheel. I had a cat named Razzle after him. Razzle the cat didn't fare much better in the end but Vince Neil stayed out of that one.).

A couple of years ago an autobiographical book called The Dirt came out, chronicling the crazy rock n'roll adventures of the Crue in attaempt to settle, for once and for all, the ongoing debate over just who is the world's hardest-partying rock band (claims to the throne have been made for Van Halen, Aerosmith, Zep, the Stones, and G n' R). These adventures include the aforementioned manslaughter, plus a couple of near-death drug overdoses (Nikki was actually declared dead on one occasion, but the paramedic was a huge Crue fan and insistd on giving him further adrenaline shots. Nikki escaped from the hospital, went home, and shot up. Rock n' fucking roll.), firey marriages to various celebrities (usually blonde TV stars, strippers, or mud wrestlers, although Nikki was married to Prince protege Vanity, who is now born-again), Vince'slawsuit of a chemical company after his daughter died of cancer caused by toxic dumping) and much inter-band strife, with various departures and retirns, punches in the face, slamming doors, etc.

Hollywood, in its continuing resistance to developning original story ideas, knew a good thing when it saw it and decided to adapt The Dirt into a major motion picture (what does that mean, exactly? I love that we still use that phrase - it's so old school, very studio system. My other favorite is "the motion picture event of the ___ [insert season]"). Since this adaptation was announced, much speculation has focused on casting. So far, there are no confirmations and scant "official" rumors ("official" meaning it's actually on IMDB) - three, in fact. The word is that Christopher Walken will play Ozzy Osbourne (this idea I like) and Val Kilmer will play David Lee Roth (this idea I do not like - yes, I will be in love with Chris Knight and Nick Rivers, but have you SEEN him lately? He actually makes the David Lee Roth of today look svelte, and I'm guessing they need an earlier incarnation of Dave for this movie). Finally, the Crue will be played by unknowns, but that's no fun as far as specualtion goes.

So the big question is, who will play the Crue??? Who?? I think about this alot. I don't LOVE any of my ideas thus far, but here goes: Vince Neil=Steve Zahn. Seriously, that's all I have. I was thinking Vince Vaughan as Tommy, but just being a tall idiot isn't good enough. Walken would actually make a good Mick Mars - remember how creepy Walken looked with long, greasy black hair in Search and Destroy? (he had just finished filming this and still had that hair when he came into the Whitney on my first day working there and TRIED TO PICK ME UP, succeeding in scaring the hell out of me). Nikki is the hardest because I love him so it really matters. Gina Gershon in drag would actually make a great Nikki, but people would say that's a rip off of Cate Blanchett playing Dylan (snore!).

Help me out here, people. Ideas?? Predictions? How cool would it be if all the wives played themselves?? I guess no-fun Vanity is out, but Larry Cahrles, who directed Borat is directing The Dirt, and he got Pammie for Borat, so who knows?????

Friday, September 14, 2007

Angry man with small penis issues the ultimate insult

Not sure what happened on the 4 train this morning but I had to listen to a man (wearing a pantyhose colored do rag!) go off on this woman. Presumably she said something to start it, but you never know. Here's the choicest portion of his 10 minute rant:

You thought I was looking at you? I wasn't fucking looking at you. You're just mad cause I ain't gonna holler at you. You're not very smart, are you? You ain't got no bread. And you don't have a good hairstyle.

It got more bizarre. At one point he said something about how she should pluck out his eyeballs and pay his rent.

Fuck these assholes who 1) holler at you and then 2) turn on you if you give them lip in return. In my younger years, before this hellhole city beat me down, I would tell them to you-know-what, and in return, I've been berated, called a skank, gotten racial slurs, listened to long tirades about how ugly I am, and was once even chased down a subway platform, by a redneck wearing an American flag bandanna. The weird part is that it's made me appreciate how polite the come-ons are in my neighborhood. They ask if they can talk to you. Or tell you to have a nice day. Or ask you to marry them. Tell you they have a good job and a car.

Life in the concrete jungle isn't pretty, girls.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Delon vs. Belmondo

This is the kind shit that keeps me up at night. I'm curious as to the consensus here. I think I am personally going with Belmondo on this one. I find him more charming and rugged, and I do like rugged. Plus the boxer's nose...I like that (see Javier Bardem, although please avoid seeing his tiny tiny penis at all costs; I guerantee it will fuck you up in the head. It's just not right!) Anyone who has seen Bunches knows I am a Belmondo girl.

However, the power of Alain Delon's sheer physical beauty in his youth (the above photo is from Rocco and His Brothers, an early neorealist Visconti flick which I highly reommend. Then again, I live and breath for Visconti so I am biased) is not a thing to be toyed with. My research on this subject led me to something rather odd - Alain Delon's MySpace page. This is just too weird for me. Picture if you will for a moment Alain Delon working on his MySpace page. See? I mean, we all know he is 5'10, athletic, and smokes and drinks. Caucasian is news to me. Just kidding. "Proud parent" is pushing it - didn't he deny his son with Nico and said son wound up a homeless junkie on Staten Island? Am I making this shit up? The best thing about his page, though, is the link to Sex, Drigs, Jews, and Rock'n'Roll, which is a tribute to Jewish songwriters. Maybe I should rethink this if he loves Jews. I'm no songwriter, but I did whip up a little number the other day about cat food, to the tune of Kool & the Gang's "Celebrate". (Cat-food-bration..come on...let's eat cat food...we're gonna eat some cat food tonight....bring your meows, and your begging too, I'm going open this bag and pour cat food out for you...etc).

Jean-Paul Belmondo does not appear to have a MySpace page, which restores some order to the universe.

This is turning into a bit of a rambling, shapeless post. I have too much time on my hands today - it's Rosh Hashannah and I work at a law firm, so there are no lawyers around.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

That Doesn't Make Any Sense

I'm starting a new category called "That doesn't make any sense", to be said the way that Johnnie Cochran said it in South Park (as in "Chewbacca is a Wookie. That doesn't make any sense."). The inspiration is this bizarre factoid I learned today - I.M. Pei is designing the NASCAR Musuem. Huh? Now, as an Atlanta resident, the NASCAR museum has been on my radar for some time since Atlanta was bidding to have the museum based here. Winston-Salem won, which I guess makes some kind of sense in terms of where NASCAR comes from or whatever (is Talladega Speedway there? We have the Georgia Motor Speedway here. David Cross wears a Georgia Motor Speedway t-shirt throughout most of the movie Run, Ronnie, Run. He's from here. It's a good movie.). Personally I think it's probably because they have even bigger hicks than we do. Anyway, obviosuly I could not have cared less whether Atlanta got a NASCAR museum or not, but I didn't for one nanosecond imagine that the project would get an amazing architect in his twilight years. Atlanta does not have many buildings by big-name architects (we have one Richard Meier, one Renzo Piano - and those two are the same place - plus two Michael Graves and one Philip Johnson; we are getting a David Chipperfield and a Santiago Calavatra - I am excited for the Calavatra; I fucking love him - he's one of the few I really love), so Pei would have been welcome as far as I'm concerned. I just can't imagine how that pitch meeting went. Did he pitch NASCAR or did NASCR pitch him? Is Pei a NASCAR fan? Did he shave a #3 into his back hair? So many questions!!!

Good Things, Bad Things

My thoughts are a little all over the place of late. I can't settle on a rant, so here are some random thoughts.


1. I am officially not an Obama fan. I didn't really care either way, but he really made an ass out of himself at the Daedalus I mean Petraeus thingy. Who didn't though, really? John Warner, that's who. God bless his red little heart. The rest of them are all grandstanding morons. Biden is so humorless - I am seriosuly going to send him a batch of my new fancy brownies I perfected over the weekend. My Edwards-ism is continuing, but I'm starting to think it's just because I don't have to hear him making an ass out of himself from the Senate floor every day.

2. I am very, very unhappy with this turn of events in Robert Downey, Jr.'s hair. Anyone who knows me knows that my love for RDJ knows no bounds, but this shit has got to go. The only thing that is making up for it right now is the picture of Ryan Gosling with a beard that I just saw. No, an actual beard, not the usual kind guys in Hollywood have. I love beards. I spent most of last Saturday night going on about needing a mountain man with long hair and a beard (theoretically of course; I have Bunches and he looks best without long hair and a beard - the long hair needs to be not Irish and ten different colors) and how he should be as close to Billy Crudup in Almost Famous as possible, but with a beard. Now I think he can just be a Ryan Gosling with a beard and that would be just fine.

3. Orangello, and to a lesser extent Sophia, has fleas. It sucks. It sucks for him mostly, but it's driving me crazy too. He is so unhappy. They are disgusting, and so hard to get rid of. I just learned that the little black specks they leave all over him are dried blood passed as feces. Oh man.


4. Someone wants to buy one of my collages, which kind of makes me a professional artist I guess? Cool, because "professional idiot" did not look good on my biz cards.

5. 30 Rock is seriously the funniest show since Arrested Development. I am particularly fond of Tracy Morgan (pictured), although you gotta love Kenneth the Page. If you have not seen it, go and get season 1 on dvd. I watched the whole thing in about 2 days. Did I mention those brownies yet? Yeah, make some of those before you watch.

6. I can't think of anything else. I am not talking about Britney Spears! Shit, I just talked about Britney Spears!!!!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Will R2B2 submit to the Rolling Stones?

Russ has been pressuring me to submit to the Rolling Stones. It's going to take a lot of really really good tunes for me to forgive them Honky Tonk Woman. And Mick Jagger? Blech.

Little known fact--did you know that Jagger was slated to co-star in Fitzcaraldo? They actually shot most of the movie then it went on hold and he eventually had to bow out to go on tour. He was to play the semi-retarded assistant to Jason Robards in the lead role. Robards caught some kind of fungus and had to go back to the states at which point Herzog tried to recruit Jack Nicholson. Which would have been pretty amazing, but nothing beats Klaus.

Anyway, I got my 21-song "R2B2 Will Submit to the Rolling Stones" CD in the mail. I think Russ might be shooting herself in the foot with footnotes that say things like "Beggars Banquet is hands-down the greatest album ever recorded, ever, in the history of all time, since time began." But I'll try to keep an open mind.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Hippie, frat boy, farmer

I helped my friend HJE's non-profit at Farm Aid and got a free ticket in return. Can you say freak scene? The demographic was: 2% farmer; 23% New Jersey redneck, many of whom were sporting concert t-shirts from years past; 20% hippie hipster, wearing horrible vegan footwear but dressed like hipsters from the ankles up; and, last but not least, 55% frat boy. (Black people: 2, Asian people: 2, including yours truly; Latinos: just watching. Oh, and two midgets on crutches!)

I've spent most of my life in the pursuit of avoiding frat boys (no team sports; attending lesbian dominated women's college; living in New York City) and to find myself surrounded by them for a full 10 hours was a major shock to the system. Though I did learn some fascinating things! Who would've thought they could be so complex?

1) When push comes to shove, frat boys will pay lots of money for beer. They all got totally wasted on $7 Heinekins, a far cry from the usual Bud Lite party ball.

2) Frat boys will pay $50 to attend an event all about peace and love and veggies but will not hesitate to fist fight while there. I know I live a sheltered existence, but I haven't seen someone throw a punch in a good ten years. Good thing they were so wasted that they practically missed each other.

3) Frat boys will shamelessly dance and sing along to painfully horrible acoustic slow jams about breakups and lost love. Especially while standing around in a circle passing a joint. Ain't that sweet?

4) Frat boys love flexing intellectual muscle. It's all about the problem solving!
>Frat boy 1: Dude, how much money do you think people spent on weed for this thing?
>Frat boy 2: Shit. There are thousands of people here!
>Frat boy 3: I bet there's a pound of weed here.
>Frat boy 1: Are you kidding? There's way more than that. We went through an ounce already.

Aah, the future leaders of America.

Overall the day was pretty fun. Organic corndogs fortified me against all the music that was making my ears bleed (am I the only person who thought Counting Crows broke up in 1998?). But it was totally worth it to hear Neil Young's gently proselytizing song intros, especially the rambling aside about the sinister disappearance of the blackbirds who used to live in his backyard.

R2B2 is a juvenile delinquent

Sorry to Russ and our 5 (4?) loyal readers for my sporadic posts as of late. Things have been a little nutty, especially at work, which, as you can imagine, is the absolute best place for blogging.

Rest assured, I spent all last week (angrily) taking notes...

Monday: PMS chocolate bars embarrass a whole new generation of feminists
Having grown up in the waning years of FDS and Summer's Eve, my generation has no tolerance for products marketed toward women's "problems." You know, like when "Aunt Flow" comes to visit, nudge, nudge. This PMS bar is even more unbearable what with its hippie cum yuppie undertones. For the record, my understanding is that chocolate really doesn't have that many health benefits since it's so highly processed, anti-oxidants (flavonoids) are basically non-existent in finished products. So boycott that chocolate flavored toothpaste that's scheduled to hit shelves any day now.

Tuesday: Gravel SO crazee!
File under now-that-there's-Gravel-you-can-no-longer-make-fun-of-
R2B2-for-voting-for-Kucinich. If you haven't seen this yet, check it out for an awesomely awkward 2 minutes and 51 seconds. I love how you keep thinking it's going to end, especially at the two-minute mark, but it keeps going and going and going. So existential!

Wednesday: Taxi strrrike!
My inner schadenfreude is loving that the taxi strike is coinciding with fashion week. You can picture all of the anorexics tottering along in their stilettos--along the cobblestoned streets of the Meat Packing district, no less! Um, have you heard about this crazy invention? It's this weird underground tunnel? And they run this metal tube through it using, um, electricity? And you can get inside the tube (!) and it will take you from the Narciso Rodriguez runway show to the Prada after party! No joke!

Thursday: R2B2 confirms suspicion that people are meant to eat lots and lots of carbs
R2B2, in the throes of yet another experimental diet sans wheat, soy, dairy, sugar, and a long list of other excellent foodstuffs, finds herself in an even hungrier state than earlier this year. God damnit.

Friday: More Asian American malfeasance

Hill's taking some heat for refusing to divest contributions from the felonious Chinese American businessman Norman Hsu. Sneaky Chinese crook! But us yeller fellers are forced to bathe in the glory of any news we can get. At least there haven't been any recalls on Chinese imports in the past 48 hours.

Campaign Watch '08: The View from Down Here

I'm only going to comment on how Georgia is handling the '08 election when something out of the ordinary catches my eye - in other words, when there seems to be some break in the hegemony. Only problem is, I'm not seeing a hegemony here. The lack of a decent Republican candidate is felt especially down here, where it doesn't take much more than the image of an elephant in an Uncle Sam hat and a passing reference to "The Silent Scream" to ignite voters. I was expecting my reliable bumper sticker polls to have established a couple of favorites down here by now, but I actually cannot think of a single Republican bumper sticker I have seen thus far. People here seem more excited about W than any of the candidates. Yeah, it's THAT conservative here. Poeple take very seriously the idea of supporting your leader - if he's in charge, he MUST be good. They are also quite possibly the only people on earth still very excited at the prospect of having a beer with the Pres, I guarantee it. Loyalty to Bush (aka "patriotism") seems to be trumping any commitment to a specific candidate.

With one notable exception: Ron Paul. Ron is known for his small but vocal (and growing) cheering section, which seems to be out in full force in Atlanta. It's bizarre. I have seen probably ten bumper stickers, roughly ten people canvasing cars, and a poster for a benefit show at a rock club. This isn't much, but it's huge compared to the apparent apathy towards the rest of the republican candidates.

As far as Democrats go, again, it's mostly anti-Bush stickers or message-specific stickers as opposed to actual candidate support stickers. I guess I have seen the most stickers and t-shirts for Obama, but it's not overwhelming. The Ron Paul thing is really the only interesting thing I have noticed thus far. Do with this information what you will. I personally am hoping that Ron's growing popularity will mean I can stop explaining who he is to Bunches. For some reason he seems incapable of retaining this information. Perhaps he is onto something. Most of will probably have forgotten by December 2008 anyway.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

I'll Have Sex on Your Grave, Next Time You Die

Okay, it's official: I have television. Bunches finally convinced me that we should get basic cable on the grounds that we could have both it and internet access for $20 less per month than we are currently paying At&T for internet and a phone line which we don't use. Although I am no R2B2 when it comes to loving a bargain, this was too good to pass up. So today when I get home this evil little monster will be waiting there, ready to pollute my brain and turn me into one of those idiots who knows that Dancing With the Stars isn't slang for getting really, really fucked up, and watches Good Morning America instead of listening to Morning Edition.

Being a semi-optimist, or at least a semi-realist, I am accepting this new development and trying to make the most of it by remebering all the good things tv has brought me. Two of my most favorite tv moments ever came courtesy of Maury Povich.

The first was an episode in which wild, trashy teens were confronted by their distraught (and equally trashy) parents and a typically livid, disapproving (and, again, equally trashy) audience. One wild teen in particular came under fire for professing to have had sex on tombstones. A lady in the audience took the mic from Maury and berated her for this disrespectful behavior, to which the girl had THE BEST comeback EVER: (in a Southern accent, please) "Fuck you! I'll have sex on your grave, next time you die!!!!"

Number two: Maury, again. This time the topic was "Are You My Baby's Daddy?", one of Maury's favorite topics because he gets to pretend to care about women while making them look and feel like total sluts. So there's this very angry woman claiming that an equally angry man is the father of her baby. He is denying this on the usual grounds (only did it once, she slept with everyone in town and the next town too, the baby doesn't even look like him, etc.) and the woman interrupts and yells "If you ain't my baby's daddy, how come you bought him a brand new Timberland outift to come on Maury?!!" To underscore the point, the camera cuts to the green room, specifically to a very cute 18 month old (who looks exactly like the angry guy, btw) porpped up on the green room couch and decked out in head to toe Timberland to the point where he can't even move his poor little arms and legs and looking tres confused. Indeed, madam! Excellent question! A zinger! Who needs a paternity test? Man wants a kid to look sharp on Maury, must be his kid. Logic at work!

I have also enjoyed many other fine moments of my life thanks to tv. MTV started on August 1, 1981, my first birthday, and I started watching it pretty much the same day. My entire vernacualr is shaped by the cliches of early 80s videos. I can't see a courtroom without picturing the witness box morphing into members of Judas Priest or Sammy Hagar's bands and jumping to Rob Halford or Sammy's defense. I can't take my glasses of and let my hair fall out of a bun without thinking of the transformation scenes in Goody Two Shoes, Blinded Me With Science, or Legs. My entire concept of British colonialism is defined by Dura Duran videos.

I'm a stoner, so you know I'll be happy to have South Park, Family Guy, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and Robot Chicken back. TV does have some good serious shows too, stuff that I get on dvd, like The Shield and Nip/Tuck. I hear 30 Rock is good. I love House. I'm a sucker for a Law & Order franchise, especially now that I hear Coco is guesting on SUV (I know, SVU) with Ice-T. Love him, too. I'm curious about that new show with the ad men in the 60s. I'm wondering if we get Logo, the gay channel (no, not Spike, the other gay channel). They have good videos and you know I like gay people. The Food Channel has its merits. And I can stop bugging my Mom to Tivo Wide Angle and Frontline that I will never come over and watch. I wonder if we will have IFC or Sundance, or both? What about that Turner movie channel with all the goof old movies? Or is that AMC?

And I have heard the siren call of Joe Millionaire, America's Next Top Model, and...well, actaully, that's it. But the best part is that, while I am quite the smarty-pants when it comes to current events, I have pretty much no idea what people in the news look or sound like. I only hear their voices on NPR, which means I only hear certain voices, and I read stuff like the New Yorker and The New Republic that are scant on photos. TV can change this for me. I am also looking at it as a chance to know thy enemy, or whatever. I find the two seconds of Fox News that I catch whenever I enter pretty any public space with a tv to be harrowing, but educational. Who knew so many white women were missing and so many pedophiles on the run???

Okay, mostly, I will admit it - I am dying to see Britney Spears slip on a pile of blow pop wrappers at the VMAs this Sunday. So there.


I have been stricken these past four days by an awful case of what I was calling Muppet Mouth (as in, the inside of my mouth looked like the inside of a muppet's mouth, and i sounded like Frank Oz - more like Frank Oz administering the spy test in Spies Like Us than Frank Oz as Kermit, but whatever). My doctor called it strep throat (no fun at all, doctors). Anyway, point is, I am now full of antibiotics and back.