Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Your own personal Deep Throat

Wasn't it a little deflating to learn that W. Mark Felt is Deep Throat?

I'm a nerd about Nixon, down to his congressional races against Jerry Voorhis and Helen Gahagan Douglas -- the bitchinest California races this side of Lords of Dogtown. The Deep Throat mystery has never interested me much, but I hoped for an O. Henry-type ending, with Deep Throat played by Al Haig (as John Dean and others have concluded), Pat Buchanan (as speculated by Joshua Michael Marshall), or maybe dark horse candidate Diane Sawyer (I chalk that one up to undersexed news-and-porn junkies).

What if it had been William Rehnquist or Gerald Ford? I would have emulated Lords of Dogtown actor Emile Hirsch by shouting, "Punk rock, bro!" and eating Chinese food.

But no. Instead of The Usual Suspects, the ending to this one is more like The Village. I guess that's life. Still, I'm enjoying the moment. Mark Felt, you did a good deed for your country, even if the truth disrupted the fever dreams of one Nixon-obsessed, coleslaw-loving hayseed.

Valarie vs. Rush: This time, it's personal

Though she's too smart and classy to deserve any association with Cole Slaw Blog, I briefly note that Valarie Kaur has this article on Salon.com rebutting certain criticisms made by Messrs. Limbaugh and O'Reilly. It involves a student drama about Abu Ghraib, and the wild fun that ensues when commentators lambast a production without having seen it.

For earlier remarks on a documentary in production by Valarie and her rabblerousing associate Sharat, click here.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Fake U2, dangerous four-year-olds, and more: Memorial Weekend roundup

  • The wizards at Improv Everywhere cooked up a great stunt wherein they staged a phony U2 concert on a rooftop across from Madison Square Garden. The Times covers it here.
  • Caught the HBO adaptation of Richard Russo's Empire Falls in between drunken escapades. A little hamhanded, and the narrator gave the movie the feel of a Smucker's ad. Helen Hunt overacted and made her character unlikeable. All in all, though, it was a watchable, appealing movie, if nothing special. I liked the book when it came out, but it hasn't resonated with me over time.
  • Blog pin-up Brian has coined the phrase "Hamptons filter" to describe the city over Memorial Day weekend. Everyplace seemed less congested and obnoxious than on a typical weekend night. It was a nice 72 hours for drinking and lounging.
  • Brother Spinachdip photographed an epic piece of graffiti close to the Williamsburg Bridge. "Neckface" is a prolific tagger who seems to have become a lower Manhattan folk hero. At my former workplace, two of my co-workers were nicknamed Neckface, for reasons that never were clear.
  • Enjoy that rarity of rarities: a great David Brooks column.
  • More Times love: the paper's series on class in America has been excellent.
  • Llamas are the new stem cells.
  • While at Prospect Park, a crazed four-year-old saw me walking with two friends. She looked me in the eye, yelled, then came plowing over. She tried to smack my crotch, but missed, hitting me in the thigh instead. In Joey Lawrence fashion, I yelled, "Whoa!" Crazy four-year-old.

Sunday Stylin': better late than never

In this week's desperately pathetic attempt to fill space gain advertising revenue, we learn that people are interested in sex, "moisturizing is the answer," and the mediocre young actor Emile Hirsch is frickin' cool.

More Sex, Less Joy. In this stunning expose, writer Ruth Le Ferla learns that people like sex. Some people will even buy books about it. Also, people today are raunchier than in the past, and want their sex books raunchier, too.

These books include terrible advice:
"Try going through each others' wardrobes; why not see what you'd look like in each other's clothes," suggests Paul Scott, the author of "Mind-Blowing Sex." Then there are certain calisthenics for the mouth that seem to require as much practice as learning to play the oboe.
Paul Scott, you're an idiot, and if anyone is desperate enough to take this advice, their lives are probably ruined. Either a middle-aged dude dressed in his wife/girlfriend's bra/thong/panties and loved it, or did so and lost his self-respect forever. He's ruined either way. On the other hand, Alex Kuczynski's boyfriend would get to wear a lot of scarves.

As far as the "oboe" reference, that just sounds like the product of La Ferla's overactive imagination. Keep your phallic fantasies to yourself, lady.

A Title That's Not as Boss as It Looks. Mid-level executives with meaningless jobs get overinflated job titles to compensate for their existential ennui.

Well, that's the Cole Slaw Blog take on it. Patrick McGeehan is more preoccupied with the bureaucratic confusion that ensues than he is with the J. Alfred Prufrock implications. But, whatever. It's tough to be interesting when your keyboard burps up 20 column inches about workplace vanities.

'But I Neeeeeeed It!' She Suggested. First, the headline. There are seven e's in need. If I were one of the production editors at the Times and the proper spelling simply would not suffice, I would have stretched it out to four e's, five max. But seven e's? That's just a showing off.

The young Alex Kuczynskis and Stephanie Rosenblooms of the world want lots and lots of material goods, only they're not scarves and sneakers, but iPods and $400 camera phones. The snotty kids bitch and whine until their craven parents acquiesce. Some mentally disturbed 18 year old in Illinios ran up a $600 cell phone bill and had to get a job at the carwash to pay it off. Many parents are drawing strict lines:
No sooner had Mr. Silvers's teenage daughter worn him down for a cellphone, he said, than his 12-year-old twin sons started "heavily panting" for them. He told them to wait, for now. Next year they will be teenagers. Mr. Silvers can already see the writing on the wall.
I feel like a curmudgeon, bitching about the kids these days, but the truth is, I was a curmudgeon when I was 14, so I'm entitled. The great thing about being a curmudgeon is you call bullshit when you see it. I dig my iPod, but if my hypothetical teenager started acting like an asshole about it, he'd get a Wham! CD and a boot to the ass.

This article is the half-witted cousin of some real reporting in the news section, which explores the class implications of consumer purchasing, including these same high-end gadgets. The Times's stories in its series on class in America have often resembled Styles section stories, except that they're written with insight, clarity, and intelligence. How the Times can publish both the class series and these Styles section atrocities is a mystery. Bill Keller needs a therapist.

Now You See It, Now You Wonder Just What 'It' Is. Something tells me that David Colman's bid to land in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations is doomed. "Magic is like beauty: without an audience it is just a trick of the light."

How true. I can't tell you how many times I've had that exact thought, but lacked the skills to articulate it clearly. But ... yes. Magic without an audience is indeed just a trick of the light. Deep.

More deep thoughts:
Even when she says moisturizing is the answer, as she did in a 1995 artwork bearing those words, she wants you to wonder, Well, is it?
I vote a hearty "no." But David Colman is easily provoked when he's talking about Sylvie Fleury, a lady who creates "proto-capitalist art" for the masses. She lives in a Swiss villa that once belonged to an 18th Century magician. Colman and Fleury take us on a tour that includes medieval half-assery, which proves, if nothing else, that the Styles section doesn't have a monopoly on inanity.
The piece, with a metal dragon-head base, recalls in a cheerfully cheesy way the griffin-infested early Dark Ages heyday of scrying, or crystal gazing, before Christian doctrine declared the practice a no-no. The balls became popular again with quasi-scientific diversions like phrenology in the late 19th century, about the time the Gypsy fortuneteller joined the Hall of Everlasting Stereotypes.
See, he's witty. The Hall of Everlasting Stereotypes? The "griffin-infested early Dark Ages"? Bravo, David Colman, bravo.

Emile Hirsch: Rolling with the Big Dogs
. I think I can speak for Flop when I say that both proprietors of Cole Slaw Blog are extremely excited about the new movie Lords of Dogtown. It's hard to wrap your mind around it, the prospect of a movie about skaters that manages to be both hip and edgy, with a slammin' soundtrack to boot. Hopefully there will be a Sum 41 song. So flippin' sweet, I can't wait.

Until the much-anticipated day (Friday) when Lords of Dogtown premieres and the work absentee rate becomes a nationwide epidemic, we can only learn from 20-year-old Emile Hirsch, a hip dude who wears Revenge of the Sith gear and eats Chinese food. Cool!

When Hirsch and friends see a bus ad for Dogtown, they pump their fists and yell, "Check it!" Hey! Cool! Very cool! (Full disclosure: When I was 12, I went barhopping with Jessica Tandy when Driving Miss Daisy came out, and she did the same thing.)

"In Dogtown," Mr. Hirsch said, "skateboards are like bikes to the Chinese." Dude, that's frickin' extremely cool. Yeah!

Later, Hirsch gets on a skateboard and yells, "Punk rock, bro!" while skating. Cool, cool, coooooool. Hooray!

I don't know if you can imagine this, but when I read that, I ran back and forth in my apartment, screaming, "Punk rock, bro!", Times-reader style. Damn you, Emile Hirsch, and damn you, Lords of Dogtown. Now I'm so pumped and excited for Lords of Dogtown that I can't finish my Sunday Styles roundup. Time to go outside and spread the word.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Thursday Stylin': Journalism is dead

In today's desperately pathetic attempt to fill space and gain advertising revenue, The New York Times gives us audiobook snobbery, gym patrons who can't play nice and an epic poem about Helmut Lang. Also, Alex Kuczynski learns to love outlet malls ... as long as they're upscale.

But the Times is not alone in its affront to journalism today. Newspapers in Detroit apparently sold their front pages as ad space, and more and more advertisers are yanking ads when they don't like the news. Maybe this Stylin' brand of inoffensive content is the next step for journalism. Of course, this strikes us as roughly similar to calling seppuku the next logical step for the Samurai. (Or, as my co-blogger asserts, Ninjas.) Let's see what decadence looks like this week ...

Mark It Down, and They Will Come

This week's Critical Shopper takes place at an outlet mall upstate, but don't worry -- it's upscale! Alex Kuczynski is initially skeptical of the concept, but her need for sensible wedge heels wins out. Still it's not only an outlet mall, it's also not located in any district in which the packing of meat once took place. So the count is 0-2 from the get-go.
Why waste two and a half hours of my life traveling there and back from Manhattan? On my deathbed I would like to be able to say I read Pushkin in the original Russian, not that I spent 12,458 hours in the pursuit of shopping.
But Boris Godunov can wait. There's stuff to buy! After learning where our intrepid correspondent parked and a brief lesson in "mall taxonomy" we're off!
There was Barneys, Celine, Loro Piana, Etro, Versace, Gucci. Generally speaking outlets offer discounts on overstocked merchandise or goods that are a season or two old. When you're talking Judith Leiber minaudières or Loro Piana cashmere blankets, a season behind is a concept without meaning. Other items, like last year's Prada raffia linen pumps, are so identifiable by season they become worthless - to a certain consumer; you know who you are - after two wearings.
Oh, how true this is. There are purely theoretical particles that are longer-lived than the in-style window for those Prada pumps. By the way, in case you were wondering what a minaudière is (we sure as hell were):
The minaudière, a staple of the socialite wardrobe, is comically expensive on Madison Avenue. (It gets its name, by the way, from the French verb minauder, to smirk or to act smugly.) Here a novelty minaudière in the shape of a koala bear was $2,500, rather than its original $3,600. A clutch in alligator was $1,200, rather than $3,680.
Such bargains! But wait, there's more! Kuczynski also finds "destiny" in a $975 dress. Also piled into the cart: a $339 handbag, two more dresses (price not given) and a denim jacket which we are informed was "practically free." Unfortunately, this is not a particularly helpful piece of information coming from someone who makes $975 impulse buys.

But there's no time to ponder this. There's still the issue of those sensible wedges. And I'm happy to inform everyone that there's a happy coda to this bit of retail porn. Our shopper found her sensible wedges ... and "at $110, they were about 75 percent off retail. Consumer nirvana."

Yes, it is. Thank you, New York Times!

Loud, Proud, Unabridged: It Is Too Reading!


Some people like to listen to audiobooks instead of reading them, but take umbrage when people suggest they didn't read the book. Well, guess what? If you listened to the book, you didn't read it. Don't call me an oppressor because you couldn't be bothered to buy a $5 copy of Dubliners. Are people who listen to books familiar with the work? Sure. Can they talk about them with other people? Probably, assuming they weren't like this guy:
David Lipsky, another New York writer and frequent dog walker, said he often "shuffles" music on his iPod, and has similarly come to enjoy jumping among chapters of, say, James Joyce, Martin Amis and Al Franken as he circles the block.
Summary judgement: Listening to a book is almost like reading it, unless you start talking about Portrait of Rush Limbaugh as a Young Man and Big, Fat Idiot. Also, people will find any reason to perceive a slight.

Decline and Fall of Helmut Lang

Apparently, there once was a man who stood astride the fashion world like a mighty Colossus. He begat "prestige denim" and the custom of charging $200 or more for jeans. He gave us designer T-shirts. And "so powerful was his creative leadership that when he said he would show his collections in Manhattan ahead of European rivals, most American designers followed suit, and New York Fashion Week was permanently rescheduled."

The mind reels. Anyway, now things aren't so hot for Helmut. Honestly, my eyes glazed over after that. I'm sure he's doing OK. He certainly seems as if he'll be fine. And if someday he croaks and allows a snowglobe with a miniature fashion show inside to fall from his hand, we will feel as bad for him as we can feel for someone who was wildy successful and brought the world $200 jeans and fashion T-shirts.

I'll turn this treadmill around!

Another insight from the Stylin' section, where nothing is too obvious to be an 18-inch story. Apparently, people are inconsiderate, sometimes even at the gym. This article was a compendium of behavior that irritates Cole Slaw Blog, both at the gym and elsewhere. Thankfully for all concerned, I can't afford to work out at Sports Club/LA or Equinox, so my habit of wearing gym clothes more than one day in a row won't offend Stylin' section readers. Of course, so will my habit of not going to the gym, but I digress.

Online Shopper: Bargain Hunters Stalk the Bluefly

I was going to say this is notable because it's not as stupid and obvious as most Online Shopper articles. But, well, any "news" article about shopping online is necessarily going to be pretty obvious and boring. Apparently some people have discovered that they need to be aggressive about checking this one website for updates. And they tend to find what they want. Take heed, Stylin' nation. Those Marc Jacobs jeans won't buy themselves while you're taking a long lunch at Cipriani downtown.

In other Stylin' news, the kids at New York's High School of Fashion Industries put on the best high school fashion show the Stylin' Section has ever seen, there are lots of different kinds of nuthuggers to buy and pretty ladies like long hair, even when they're over 30.

Also, Stephanie Rosenbloom graces us with more news from the world of retail. There are some stores in the Hamptons, and if you were debating that trip to Italy, here's something to put you over the top: A Fendi store housed in a 16th century palace. Thanks, Stephanie Rosenbloom!

P.S.: To whoever it was at The New York Times who googled the lovely Stephanie Rosenbloom's name and found our humble world wide weblog, welcome. We abhor the Stylin' Section and all it stands for, but we welcome you as readers, and seek to offer coleslaw and a better way of life.

Happy Memorial Day

I'm taking a posting hiatus for the Memorial Day weekend. I hope to use this sabbatical to work on a little one-act play about what happens when Times styles writers Stephanie Rosenbloom and Alex Kuczynski get on the phone to talk about boys (namely, Flop and myself) and insipid materialism. In the interim, I wish you all a fun-filled weekend that includes at least one night of boozing 'til dawn, and a Monday in which you exercise good citizenship by reading the Gettysberg Address or FDR's post D-Day fireside chat. If you're too lazy to read, you can listen to FDR here.

Hell, who am I kidding. Drink lots of water and remember: greasy food goes well with a hangover. And don't torture yourself, counting down the seconds until Dogtown is released. We're all in this together.

The Lost finale

Just made it through tonight's episode of Lost on Tivo. I've been watching since the premiere. Every week I'm nervous that a show so delicately balanced will trip on itself, the way 24 does once a season. Goddamn, they've pulled it off perfectly. Somehow, the cast and writers have managed to hold together the delicate, risky premise without descending into camp or self-parody. Not since Twin Peaks has a network series managed such sustained tension and a dark, complicated narrative.

Tonight's show produced blow after blow of creepy, credible story lines and climaxes -- the baby theft, Locke's near-fatal plunge, the bit character inevitably blowing himself up, the lost rudder, the smoke apparitions in the woods, Charlie's apparent heroin relapse, the radar blips, Walt's kidnapping and the raft's immolation, Hurley notice the fatal numbers followed by the explosion at the hatch. If there was an anticlimax, it was the final shot of the broken ladder descending into the ground, but with a show like Lost, much like with Twin Peaks, the pleasure isn't in the answers but the riddles. Meanwhile, it manages to keep its characters believable and interesting. Doesn't miss a beat. This show's writers must have the toughest job in TV, but manage to score almost every time.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

... and counting

For those looking for our usual brand of goofy antics, I apologize in advance. I promise to tone down the serious shit soon. But "Nightline" is going to dedicate use its Memorial Day show to read the name of each U.S. serviceman and woman killed in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past year.

Of course, the reason I feel compelled to write about this is that I want to know why every time someone proposes memorializing the ever-increasing number of U.S. servicemen and women who are dying in Iraq, it's immediately denounced as political. I understand that the right wing feels the need to push back against anything that makes their excellent Iraqi adventure look bad (Note: Facts are biased) but eventually, you're not going to be able to change the subject every time it comes up. And until then, it just looks petty to object to honoring someone who was willing to sacrifice something you were not.

Maybe this just pisses me off because the last war that turned into a morass like this is still somewhat of a touchy subject in our family. My father's cousin was killed in Vietnam, as did his best friend from high school. It's been well over 30 years, and it still hurts. He probably will all his life. And I can't imagine it's going to be much different for people who were close with the 1,800 and counting Americans who are no longer with us.

And yet, all we keep hearing is that things are going fine and that daring to remember the sacrifice people have made is somehow political and cynical. Bullshit. Being aware of the cost is an excellent way to make sure that we take a bit more care the next time we have a choice to go to war.

Note: Credit to the Sinclair Broadcast Group. Last year, the company yanked Nightline from its ABC affiliates when the show decided to read the names. This year, the company (a staunch Republican supporter) will air the show. Of course, they use the fig leaf that it's OK this year because it's Memorial Day. Whatever gets them through the night, I guess.

Don't count your cabbage before it's slaw: my own rejoinder

My esteemed colleague's rejoinder makes an assumption I'd like to knock down before I get on with the subtance of my reply. I reject charracterization as another crazed left-wing blogger. I'm not a Julie, demanding that all ride our mini choppers straight into the murky waters of the marina. I just want something that will actually help keep as many extremist judges as possible out of our courts. This isn't it yet.

My objection to the Senate compromise is not and never has been that it represents a sellout of some hardcore ideals. My problem is, instead, with hailing the compromise as a resounding success. At best, I'm skeptical, while my co-blogger is admonishing us all not to look Trojan Horses in the mouth.

I've made the argument before why I think this compromise is on shaky ground and I won't revisit it here. However, as I've said before, if the Republican leadership can't find a way to strongarm or weasel their way into what they want it'll be a first. Crimenotes, I hope you're right and I'm wrong. Based on the evidence we have before us, I can't conclude that this is so. We're not in Pasadena yet.

Still life with coleslaw

A reminder of what unites us all.

slaw

Got this last night as a complimentary sidedish with my takeout order from Clinton Street Baking Company.

The compromise is a win: my rejoinder to Flop

Dude, when you think your team is going to end up in the Motor City Bowl, you don't bitch because they go to the Rose Bowl and not the national championship game.

So you don't like it that 7 moderate Republicans are going to have a role in brokering nominee decisions? Who do you prefer -- them, or Bill Frist? In an ideal world, every nominee would be in the mold of Stephen Reinhardt, but that's not going to happen, just like the Democrats' aren't going to be able to continue their filibuster tactic for the indefinite future. Either cast your lot with Republicans like Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins (who are essentially conservative Democrats), Lindsay Graham (who once described himself as a closet Democrat, or something to that effect), Lincoln Chafee (the archetypical RINO), John McCain (who needs no introduction) and John Warner (who is too serious a person to fuck up the Senate for Bill Frist's presidential ambitions), or go for broke, hope that your bridge-burning tactics don't alienate these people, and risk losing all of your ideal platonic outcomes, as well as the Senate and the courts in the process.

But Flop and other absolutists on the left-wing blogs want to burn the village in order to save it. Apparently, they'd prefer an outcome where the Senate rules are changed, the fiibuster is eliminated, and every one of Bush's nominees passes the Senate with 50 votes. Why? Because some of these Republicans may be susceptible to pressure and can't be trusted. Bullshit. They're all susceptible to pressure on every issue -- welcome to Poli Sci 140. If any of these seven Republicans flip that easily, they lose face and credibility with their colleagues, the press, and the small percentage of their constituents who gives a shit about this issue. It's basic game theory. If they opt not to cooperate and it works out, they may be rewarded; but if they opt not to cooperate and fuck up, they face retribution. Plus, they didn't broker this deal out of charity. There was something known as "self interest" involved.

To the absolutists, though, there's no such thing as a partial win. They'd rather lose everything than cede a few inches. Sure, you've screwed yourself, the Senate, and the courts, but what's that matter when you've taken a "position of principle"? That might be cool when it's 3 a.m. and time for a lively session of Policy Roundtable at Dempsey's Pub, but it's no way to run a fuckin' country.

A dissent

My colleague, crimenotes, has argued that the 14 Senators who averted a showdown over the use of judicial filibusters have served the Senate and the courts well. That is undeniably true for the moment, but how long can the centrists hold? To appropriate my fellow blog owner/operator's analogy of the Cuban Missile Crisis, it's as if Cuba has been blockaded, but is still bristling with warheads. Additionally, the compromise has already cost the Democrats the use of the filibuster on a large number of repugnant nominees.

By agreeing to stand down and not block judges like Janice Rogers Brown, the Democrats have cleared a path for any future nominees with her views. As my fellow side-dish aficionado has rightly noted, her views are rather hostile to citizens in general.

Furthermore, this compromise is only as good as the backbone of the weakest one or two Republican signatories. As Josh Marshall has noted, the whole nucular option crap was all about untrammeled power, not just winning on these nominees. The nature of the compromise is such that there's nothing preventing Majority Leader Bill Frist from trying again to strip the Democratic minority of its ability to filibuster judicial nominees.

Now, it's true that perhaps part of the appeal for this compromise is that it sends a signal to the White House and Frist that a future nominee to the Supreme Court must be more moderate. This would be a stronger argument if the Republican leadership had ever shown any ability to moderate its extremist behavior. Now that the Republicans' frothing base is so incensed by this compromise, such behavior seems even more unlikely in the future.

Instead, I foresee some arm-twisting in the futures of the Republican Senators who joined the compromise. Republicans who oppose the White House on important issues have a way of reconsidering. Consider the case of Michigan Rep. Nick Smith's vote on the Medicare bill as well as the more recent occurence in which George Voinovich brought the nomination of John Bolton (as UN ambassador) to a screeching halt, then went ahead and agreed to vote for Bolton before voting against him.

In fact, if this report is to be believed, Frist may already be turning up the heat. Now, I would like to believe that the consciences of these Senators will prevent their Republican colleagues from finding a way to carry out their putsch. But if the leadership and White House truly are stymied here, this would be a ringing triumph for common sense and fairness, as well as democracy. It would also be a surprise.

For these reasons, I must respectfully dissent. Flop, J.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Yea or nay, class! YEA or NAY!

Cole Slaw Blog is now two months old. Apparently we've been popular in Europe this week. Bienvenue and bienvenutti! To the citizens of Cole Slaw Nation at home and abroad who may not be following us closely, it's time for our monthly review, which, in honor of Ralph Williams, we call the Yea/Nay list. Let's skip the rubrics for now and get straight to the rundown.

Yea: The Hold Steady; Arrested Development; Andy Sands; the Yea/Nay list; the wonkish Inferno II; resourceful flight attendants; Rosario's pizza; brunch; filibusters;jicama; Mr. Mom; Freakonomics; Allan Seager; retarded Rosie O'Donnell; stepping on rats.

Nay: Rodney Rothman; Etros; Alex Kuczynski, the uninvestigative reporter; midget slaughter; Alex Kuczynski, the scarf-coveting, manipulative girlfriend; McDonald's commercials; Iowa House Speaker Chris Rants; the 616; Chanel at the Met; coochie couture; cloture.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Inferno II parallels outcome of Senate compromise

It's been a highly active day of posting, and time to sum it up CrimeNotes style. Here's the latest comparison of how the Real World/Road Rules Inferno II eerily parallels the latest news on judicial nominations.

I'm probably not the first to notice this, but Julie bears a striking resemblance to James Dobson, only she's saner and smarter. For instance, they're both known to be sexually conservative, they both wear religion on their sleeves, and, as Julie puts it, they're both into "battling evil." Sounding much like Sen. Ken Salazar, (D-Colo.), Tonya observes that, like Dobson, Julie is "crazy in the head."

It's going to be Julie against Tonyar in the Inferno. This week's challenge -- not unlike brokering a filibuster compromise -- looks exceedingly difficult. Ride a little motorbike down a small dock without wrecking the bike or hitting the water. "I'm going to go balls to the walls [sic]," says Tonya, sounding like Ken Salazar brokering the filibuster compromise.

The contest is underway. Much like Bill Frist's guidance of the GOP, Abram sends his minibike into the drink. He's soaked. Miz snatches defeat from the jaws of victory and plows into the water. Like Michael McConnell with funky hair, Landon speeds across the finish line. A gay, wacky version of William Pryor redux, Dan struggles, but makes it across the finish line. Rachel (Henry Saad) can't navigate the course, so she gets disqualified.

But Julie is going for broke. Yeah, James Dobson, yeah. Come hell or high water, she's taking the straight and narrow route, the one that sunk Abram before her. And like her hypothetical counterpart, she drops like a brick.

Now we've got Tonya and Julie going to the Inferno. Julie's T-shirt reads "Jesus is Real." Tonya displays irrational exuberance when they learn that the match involves ripping patches off the other person's gym suit. "They will rip each other's eyes out if they have to," Veronica says. "She's staring at me like I am the devil," Tonya says of Julie. "Julie, you are a dirty girl, we love it," Landon/Michael McConnell shrieks amid the scrum.

They count the patches. Tonya has snagged 23 patches, and Julie took 22. An exceedingly close fight, but Julie has to go.

"She went in there like a bad-ass bitch and whupped some ass," Derrick says. He's talking about Tonya, but switch the gender, and you'd think he was talking about Senator Salazar. And Julie, like James Dobson, is gone, out of the contest, consigned to irrelevance.

My geek flag flies

Cole Slaw Blog's Manhattan branch is thrilled with the news that the Senate has reached a compromise on the judicial filibuster. I've been fixated with this issue for months, and have lost much workplace productivity because of it. Indeed, the compromise means to me what the new Star Wars movie means to Flop, blog perv Danielle, and others. Both halves of the so-called Group of 14 have served the courts and the Senate well. My only beef is that the most troubling nominee -- Janice Rogers Brown -- will likely pass through the whole Senate. At various speaking engagements, Brown has made hugely inflammatory remarks, and is the only nominee that the fictional Senator CrimeNotes (D-Cole Slaw Nation) would have gone to the mats to stop. She essentially is on the record for supporting a pre-New Deal, Lochner-era jurisprudence. "Outside the mainstream" is a polite way of describing her principles.

Even so, her approval may be a small price to pay in averting the domestic political equivalent of the Cuban Missile Crisis. And I was thrilled watching the press conference of the 14 senators, even the ones I don't like. If George Lucas (or Sharat) makes a movie about this, I'll see you in line.

Monday roundup

A bunch of short, stupid things that don't really warrant their own posts.

I don't like Mondays
The Boomtown Rats still exist! I think. I'll be honest, I didn't read the site too closely. But as someone who invariably gets that song stuck in his head a couple Tuesdays a year (yes, Tuesdays) I thought I should mention it.

Traitor Tots
Turns out the guy who "invented" Freedom Fries might be regretting it. Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), a lot of whose constituents have been getting killed in Iraq, is now apparently against the war.

But Jones now says we went to war "with no justification." He has challenged the Bush administration, quizzing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other presidential advisers in public hearings. He has lined the hallway outside his office with "the faces of the fallen."
Cole Slaw Blog welcomes you, Rep. Jones. You're inviting a shitstorm upon your head. You will be told you hate America, you will be told that if your constituents were ever to hear, they'd be disheartened. In short, you're going to get a new perspective on a lot of the simple-minded bullshit your colleagues have been dealing in for years. We don't envy you, but Cole Slaw Blog admires your conscience and your ability to be honest with yourself. We'd totally send you some of our Sedition Slaw, but the Capitol Police would probably just intercept it, and incorrectly assume that it was some sort of anthrax-based side dish.

If they should bar wars ...
I attended a screening of Star Wars (Episode III): Revenge of the Sith on Sunday with a friend. It was at her request, although I was moderately intrigued at the prospect of experiencing it on the big screen. I am far from a Star Wars geek, but I've seen five of the six "episodes" now. And this one was at least better than the previous one. As usual, it's a big, overdone mess in a lot of ways, and a lot of scenes that should have been heartbreaking were merely bummers in between special effects and fight scenes, but it was a perfectly enjoyable time, and the score, as always, was great.

The ending was great, too. I can't wait for the next one to come out!

It's only rock n' roll but I like it

Just to add to my co-blogger's review of the recent The Hold Steady show, I went into the concert completely blind. Or, um, deaf. I had heard nothing but great things about them, but for a number of reasons, did not listen to them before attending. My first impression: Rocking is apparently much harder than it looks. How else to explain why so few can do it well, let alone as well as The Hold Steady. Everything else there is to say on them has probably been covered by Crimenotes.

As promised

Well, sleeping on it has provided some clarity. My story is neither particularly profound nor filled with sweeping implications. Basically, it was me at my random, Kramerian best.

Over the past couple weeks, I've been talking with a guy who works at the deli near my office. He's in this country to become a pharmacist. Or, more accurately, he's been in this country to become an American pharmacist. He's already a pharmacist back home in Egypt. He's smart and goofy, and clearly feeling the strain a bit, as any of you would if you had to work in a 24-hour deli in Alexandria, Egypt, despite your professional credentials. (I did see him once help a bus driver select the right kind of cold medicine once.)

Anyway, he's leaving this week to return to Egypt and his fiancee. His visa is up. He's hoping to be able to come back and complete the tests he needs to be a certified pharmacist here. He pointed out that U.S. immigration authorities aren't exactly rolling out the red carpet for young men from Arab nations.

Anyway, the reason I didn't want to write about this last night is not because of some emotional burden, but because I didn't want to sound like either Carrie Bradshaw or Thomas Friedman, both people who generally make me roll my eyes. In fact, as I typed this, a commercial for Sex and the City just came on.

And despite our seeming embrace of such silly bullshit, people are still willing to come here and work long mind-numbing hours ringing a cash register while they get their professional certification settled. All the time dealing with immigration obstacles, small-minded idiots who favor racial profiling and the general agita of living in New York city on whatever one takes home working at a 24-hour deli.

Personally, I can't imagine doing it.

A bit too on-the-nose

I should say that I'm not exactly comfortable coming in the door and immediately writing about my evening. It sounds too much like something Carrie from Sex and the City would do after a long night of guzzling semen and appletinis. So suffice it to say that my night has been eventful, and that if I can find a way to talk about it later without sounding too full of hokum or bullshit, I will.

If, upon reflection, I don't feel like talking about it, you all have my apologies. As a peace offering, I offer this cautionary tale about a clapping monkey.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Shuddering

I am now speculating that the President may not be a total moron. Is it possible that he plays stupid for a domestic audience the way Nixon played crazy for diplomatic consumption? Probably not, but it makes you wonder.

Sunday Stylin': Girls hate jokes

In today's desperately pathetic attempt to fill space and gain advertising revenue, we learn that women have ruined jokes, celebrities shape their personal lives for PR advantages, and the Times further indicates that it may be selling its reportorial soul to one of its advertisers. Also, thanks to the dude who e-mailed us about what an "Etro" is. To be honest, the question was rhetorical and we don't really care, but it's nice to have an engaged readership.

Still Striking a Pose.
All about "voguing" and the drag queen community. Way, way, way outside of my demographic and pay range, and I'm too P.C. to touch this piece, other than to note that Guy Trebay likes to overwrite: "And not even a churl could keep from being charmed by the House of Cavalli, a posse of refrigerator-size men who swept into the Westin ballroom near midnight wearing demure French twists and dresses of diaphanous chiffon that had to have been cut from acre-sized bolts."

It's the most smashtastic, startling, excellent, exciting example of overusing numerous adjectives and some considered aliteration this side of My Name is Charlotte Simmons. Also, this article will work wonders on the Times's self-destructive ambitions of appealing to the exurbs and hinterlands.

Seriously, the Joke is Dead. Warren St. John is all about the ha-has. After introducing us to Rodney Rothman, he's moved on to another comedic failure -- jokes. Jokes have been replaced by observational humor. Why has this happened? It may be due to chicks: "Theories abound: the atomic bomb, A.D.D., the Internet, even the feminization of American culture, have all been cited as possible causes." (emphasis added) St. John proceeds to talk about how ladies don't like jokes, and we all have senses of humor like girls. Also, young people are too insecure and self-conscious to tell jokes.

St. John obviously does not remember Minnie Driver's character in Good Will Hunting, who tells a raunchy joke. And Cole Slaw Blog knows very few self-conscious young people -- that pretty much goes against the purpose of this site's existence, as well as our own as individuals.

Regardless, this article reminds of a story that I heard the other day. A cup of coleslaw walks into a bar. "Pardon me," says a pretty lady, "but it looks like you're made with fresh cabbage." "I am indeed," said the cup of coleslaw, "but have you seen my carrot?"

I Love You With All My Hype. People are skeptical about the veracity of the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes romance. The article explores how a bunch of famous actors have faked romances for P.R. purposes. This article is long, boring, and lacks insight. Leave it to Sunday Styles to overintellectualize nonsense:
"If you co-mingle external reality and fantasy, fantasy loses," he said, citing the relentless stories about Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck preceding the release of their movie "Gigli," which flopped.
S'wounds! This one will be remembered come Pulitzer season.

630 Symbols of Infinity. I did not want to write about this one. I initially blurbed it. But in our continuing effort to point out the Times's irrelevance in hopes of saving it, we make sacrifices. One of them is parsing this article.

Frenchman Lucien Pellat-Finet more than likes diamonds. He loves them. According to the article, he "still feels kinship everlasting with the tough little carbon crystals."

The writing gets worse. The following may be an all-time low in the Times's once-vaunted history. Yes, the paper that published the Pentagon Papers and the Vietnam dispatches of Neil Sheehan is reduced to this:
Sure, they're tough and everything, a perfect 10 on the Mohs scale and the signifier (in jewel-ese) of eternal love. But what with a recent fashion joy ride courtesy of two words - bling bling - ice may soon find itself likened to more ephemeral delights: sex, fame, InStyle magazine. Beautiful tonight, but will you still sparkle in the morning?
Diamonds are later compared to catnip, and when the French dude saw 50 Cent wearing a diamond bracelet, he decided to one-up him. If you've given any thought to how the Sixties generation went wrong, here's a hint.
Fabulous as it is (and as much as Mr. Pellat-Finet likes to blast club music as he drives his pickup truck through the streets of Miami, where he has an apartment), the bracelet is for him a throwback to his hippie roots.
Oh, fuck.

Paul Haggis: Happy Hours. The Times describes the 52-year-old screenwriter of Million Dollar Baby and director of the new movie Crash as an "it boy." This is condescending to the subject of the article, and reflects poorly on the creativity of writer Monica Corcoran. Haggis and friends meet regularly to discuss a range of interesting issues; this is something that the Styles section should try. Haggis sounds awesome, but this article is not.

In other Styles news, a person can purchase used clothes and wear them, office life can be banal and romance is difficult, and some people in LA serve burgers. Children bring doormen and/or a parent's same-sex partner to school open houses. In Boston, there is a bar that sounds like every bad bar in New York, only worse.

The Times also continues to shill for Chanel through its editorial content. Flop has documented the phenomenon here and here. The theory that the Times is overemphasizing this company for pecuniary gain is building momentum. I imagine the Styles editors sitting in their weekly meeting, scratching their heads, and struggling to devise a new angle to shine attention on this favored advertiser. Okay, so maybe that's not the case, but when the paper hypes the same corporate entity week after week, you start to wonder.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Concert Review: The Hold Steady

Bands, not blogs. -- Craig Finn*

Pardon me for starting this off on a pompous note, but the last few weeks have not been kind to a lot of us. Between the filibuster fight, the nutjob crusade against Newsweek, weaponizing space, Iraq's descent into civil war, Kansas's war on science -- goddamn it man, it hurts to get out of bed in the morning, and Auckland sounds better by the day.

I went to The Hold Steady concert tonight more pissed and frazzled than usual, having spent much the day thinking about how we're all fucked. But nothing could have been better. The Hold Steady is the real deal. They're into the canon, man. They've singlehandedly channeled the history of rock. I don't know if they're conscious about it or whether it's a product of the anxiety of influence, but either way, every kick-ass band you've loved in your life breaks out in their music. My short list includes Crazy Horse, the E. Street Band, Skynyrd, Eric Burdon, CCR, the golden-age Stones, the Clash, and most of the bands in the Dazed and Confused soundtrack.** I've also read comparisons to .38 Special, Billy Joel, Aerosmith, and Cheap Trick.

That's a big trip to toss out, but to double the stakes, their lyrics are exactly of this moment in American history. Most of their songs are stories set in the metropolitan underbellies of the Upper Midwest, the kinds of places where Cole Slaw Blog grew up: suburban Minneapolis, Shaker Heights, Michigan City, Chicago. There are abandoned malls, a storefront church, camps down by the banks of the Mississippi River, and presumably fictional place called Penetration Park. (Even small towns in the Midwest have a version of Penetration Park.) As briefly mentioned in an earlier post, the songs are accounts of fucked-up love, drug addiction, sudden bursts of violence. It's the end of the night and everybody's gotten too messed up, having done something bad but not exactly clear as to what. The songs also are filled with religious imagery, everything from Adam and Eve through the Four Horesmen. Everyone's burned out, paradise is lost -- a real soft girl is having real hard times.

Maybe it's a personal thing, but the intense, smart, ultimately playful lyrics, combined with the guitar and/or sax riffs that draw from every song you grew up with, it's an overwhelming thing. I listen to these songs and think to myself, goddamn, New York has a reputation for being rough, but it's not remotely as Darwinian and life-and-death as most of the Midwest.

So yeah, I came to tonight's show at the Bowery Ballroom with a crazy set of expectations, which were satisfied. In the main set, they played straight through their new album Separation Sunday. The encore was four songs from their first album, The Hold Steady Almost Killed Me. Flop and I made our ways down toward the front of the stage as the show moved on. I increasingly behaved like a crazed 16-year-old. The Hold Steady is an almost-perfect sing-along band for a jackass like myself, because the lead singer Craig Finn does not have a pretty voice. He sort of shouts out the lyrics. I'd never sing along with U2, but anyone can shout the lyrics to "Stevie Nix" without being embarrassed. From the first words of "Hornets! Hornets!" (spoken loudly, not sung -- "She said always remember never to trust me. She said that the first night that she met me.") I was in a blur.

It looked like Finn was having the time of his life. From my spot about four lines back from the stage, it looked like he was mouthing the words, "I love you so much," to the crowd during the final song. At times he was so giddy he couldn't contain himself, pulling back from the microphone to bounce around the stage, then spitting his lyrics out into the crowd. His grin was huge. He had a rockstar persona but something about it was very humble and approachable.

The dude's got every reason to be thrilled. The band has been getting euphoric press, and every word of it is deserved. Finn looks like the junior partner in the tax department of a law firm. You could imagine him dating your awkward older cousin. Instead of worrying that the press is going to fuck with his head, it instead feels like a reward given to an authentic artist who's earned his due. The best thing that could happen to American music would be for The Hold Steady to have a video in rotation on MTV and a Rolling Stone cover. In comparison, every good band that's alive and kicking sounds neutered, whitewashed, and timid. If it turns out that this country as we know it is doomed, we've got a kick-ass band playing out the good-bye party.

*If the proprietors of Cole Slaw Blog had any musical talent, we'd follow the advice. But until Cole Slaw Nation achieves statehood, we're stuck with this blog. We'd much rather be a band, but it would sound like a developmentally disabled, jugband version of Need New Body, with smashed beer bottles.

**Is this an over the top list? Maybe I'll think so with the passage of time but for now I'm sticking with it.

Final note: To top it off, on the walk home, I stepped on a live rat scurrying down the sidewalk on Clinton between Rivington and Stanton. Was I even rattled or disturbed by this? No -- I was so happy from the show that I barely noticed.

Update: Click here for a collection of beautifully photographed images from the night.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Thursday Stylin': Alex Kuczynski is displeased


In today's desperately pathetic attempt to fill space and gain advertising revenue, the New York Times takes time out from real journalism to bring us "hard-core color," another first-person tale from Alex Kuczynski, and the unsurprising observation that when the worlds of fashion and celebrities collide, fickleness occurs.


Note: Special thanks go to Nichelle, of the Nichelle Newsletter, who appears to share Cole Slaw Blog's utter disgust and contempt for the Sept. 10 silliness of the Stylin' Section. Nichelle, you rule.

Crayola Colors, but Kept Inside the Lines:

Whoa, colors are like, totally hot. Men are buying brightly colored clothes and "snapping up $200 Etros by the half-dozen." Again with the freakin Etros. Will someone please fill in Cole Slaw Blog as to what the fuck an Etro is? I assume it's an expensive shirt. (Paging Crunk Raconteur ... Crunk Raconteur to the comments section please.) I assume it's also the sort of thing one wears when one wants to impress the people who write for the Stylin' section.

Anyway, the rest of the article continues apace, backing up its topic sentence "Colors are so hot, they're cool, much in the manner of the sorely missed McDLT" with facts. For example, Andre 3,000 wears lots of colors, as do other rappers. Also, brightly colored shirts sell well. And country-club chich is back in, anyway. In conclusion, we can see that colors truly are so hot that they're cool, much in the manner of a delicious McDLT sandwich.

Snark aside, I would be remiss if I didn't highlight this passage.
But this spring, in the eternal game of one-upmanship known as fashion, the look has been taken to a new extreme. Solidly colored pants, sweaters and blazers - in tangerine, lemon, viridian, magenta, royal blue - have raised the stakes, and some men are, to retailers' surprise, taking the bet.
See, this is totally true. Because I met my co-blogger for dinner tonight. He was wearing a navy blue golf shirt, but I was wearing ... a black one. Awwwww snap! I showed him.

Sneakers Try to Live Up to the Nostalgia:

Our favorite pseudo-reporter, Alex Kuczynski has visited the new Adidas store, and found it wanting. In her role as the Stylin' section's "Critical Shopper," Kuczynski's apparent assignment is to visit new and noteworthy retail outlets and make the story all about her, while using quotes only from people whose real names aren't used. (Does anyone else find it odd that she never mentions anyone by name, if at all. Her stories are replete with faceless clerks, waiters and Russian women.)

Anyway, Kuczynski's chief complaint (and one imagines it to be a common one among readers of the Stylin' Section) is that "[t]here is no sense of sumptuous variety and endless choice and so no consequent desire to run through the aisles giddily piling your arms high with tracksuits."

Like the dogged shoe-leather reporter that she is, however, Kuczynski managed to make it through the rest of her visit, dutifully reporting that Stella McCartney's line of designer workout wear can be found there. She also survived a brush with nylon shorts.

Next!: Apparently, the world of high fashion endorsements is a capricious bitch. Cole Slaw Blog is not surprised. Sarah Jessica Parker got fired as the Gap spokeswoman, but not becuase she's 40. In an unrelated development, Gap has hired Joss Stone, an 18 year old who will sing a Ray Charles song in an upcoming ad. Of course, she's probably not long for the ads, either, because the fashion industry is notoriously fickle and all about chasing the next big thing. Um, this doesn't even qualify as news in the Stylin' Section.

I was expecting this article to be trash. With the headline "Enjoy It, Julia, While It Lasts," I was primed for some silly, Stylin' section bullshit about who's the next great conventional beauty whom no one you know actually is attracted to. Instead, however, it was an interesting muse by a professor of art history about why people tend to find actresses with exaggerated features like Julia Roberts' extra-wide mouth or Angelina Jolie's lips so alluring. A mostly light article, yet it isn't trying to be anything more.

That said, I'm going to take the opportunity to point out famouse people I find heart-stoppingly beautiful before returning to the shallow end.

In other Stylin' news: Stephanie Rosenbloom duly informs us all that one can purchase grainy soap that wasn't tested on animals, along with "everyday indulgences" like a Dead Sea mud mask and sorbet gel. Also, she manages to work in a gratuitous reference to Coco Chanel. Thanks, Stephanie Rosenbloom! (I swear, Stylin' Section writers. must get bonuses for any Chanel reference they can slip past the copy desk.)

Some sisters have become fashion designers. If only Mallory Keaton hadn't been held back by the tomboyish Jennifer and her republican brother, Alex. (And that pothead Skippy). This could have been her. Well, that and she's not a real person.

This week's online shopper quests, Ahab-like, for the perfect white T-shirt.

There's also some out-of-place stories this week. One about a dude who's preparing to run an ultramarathon across Death Valley. Another is an uncommonly sweet story about older divorced couples caring for each other in their later years. How this will sell ads, I don't know. I'll consider it an outlier in the Stylin' Section for now. But if they begin to show a heart, I don't know what I'm going to do. Well, there's always Alex Kuczynski.

Cole Slaw Blog celebrity sighting, Vol. 3: Bono

Walking home after work, I decided to stop off at Rosario's to grab a couple of slices. About a block away, I notice a large throng of people. "Oh shit," I think to myself, "is there another Lindsay Lohan shoot going on?" I'm pissed, and worry that I won't be able to cross the street to Rosario's because some lame-ass film shoot has the road blocked.

With "Little Hoodrat Friend" blasting from my iPod, I nonchalantly walk past the cops and officials. This works well. Being oblivious, I once walked through a Law & Order shoot, literally brushing shoulders with Jerry Orbach et al. as they walked by. If you can combine the right mix of looking clueless and annoyed (something I pull of well in my natural state) you seem to be able to walk through any line of cops, especially if you're wearing a tie. Relieved to get inside of Rosario's, a charismatic homeless man asks me who's outside. I tell him I have no idea.

Turns out, it was Bono. He stepped out of a car on the southwest corner of Orchard and Stanton. The throng across the street is overjoyed. Bono pauses for pictures and autographs. Sal, Rosario's proprietor, runs outside and puts his arm around Bono. Bono plays nice. I stare out the window until my two slices are ready. As I walk home, Bono's car stops at the intersection, and I dart past. Some chicks outside of Arlene's Grocery discuss Sal's stunt. And as I write this post, I am enjoying my first slice.

For whatever it's worth, it looked like Bono might have been filming something at The Slipper Room.

Can o' porn

The Ivy League kids who are known to Cole Slaw Blog are by and large a good lot. They rarely even bandy about a term like "state school," considered a perjorative amongst many creeping-vine kids. Of course, there are reasons why a state school might be considered inferior, among them funding, and the necessarily large class sizes. One thing, however, that as far as Cole Slaw Blog knows has never been an issue with publicly funded colleges and universities, is ideology.

While this is unlikely to change in the short term, what about down the road? We already know that most university professors are on the shit list (or is it hit list?) of a sizeable amount of right-wing rubes.

And now let's take Iowa House Speaker Chris Rants, whose knickers are in a knot because a grad student at the University of Iowa is offering a one-time course examining pornography in popular culture. This of course, will not do, and now the aptly named Rants is rattling his flaccid little saber, cautioning that he might not see his way to a $40 million inscrease in funding for the university.

"Do they know that we're not done with their budget yet?" Rants, R-Sioux City, said. "I'm pretty sure we don't need to increase state funding by $40 million to teach critical pornography studies."

Well, Rants, maybe you should pay some goddamn attention. The instructor, Jay Clarkson pointed out to the Associated Press that the course is not about viewing or enjoying pornography, which means they probably won't have "Lesbian Spank Inferno" in the syllabus. The course aims to consider how pornography has moved into popular culture, according to a report in The Associated Press. As Clarkson pointed out: "We will certainly be talking and reading critics who are against pornography."

Yes, but don't let the facts get in the way of stirring up the rubes, Mr. Speaker. Sadly, the majority of people who hear about this won't learn about it by reading the article, but instead by word of mouth. In which case, it's likely to sound as if the University of Iowa is teaching a class in which students watch porn. On the taxpayers' dime. Cole Slaw Nation is smart enough to see where this particular line of dimestore demagoguery goes.

Considering that the Republicans have the media on the run, and judges in their sights, Cole Slaw Blog wonders if threatening state schools that don't toe the lines drawn by Republican-led legislatures is the next sickening step.

A qualified thanks to Rupert Murdoch

Arrested Development is officially renewed for a third season. Sweet Jesus, the world may yet be a just and righteous place.

Naturally, the remainder of the schedule appears to be utter crap.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Side dish

Still at work on a big-ass Newsweek post. By the time it's over, the story will be old and the post will be book length. In the interim, here's some news of the world, Cole Slaw style.
  • Pressure's off, lads. Turns out that the pretty ladies don't need orgasms in the first place.
  • At first I was troubled, confused, yet entertained (in a conscientious way) by breaking news of a lion killing 28 Cambodian midgets in a battle of the species. My co-blogger convinced me it was a hoax. His theory is now confirmed (available only via Google cache). Click on the second link for a very funny account of how an inside joke spun out of control.
  • Blog perv Danielle, my pal Katie, and others I know are psyched about the new Star Wars movie, going at 3:30 a.m. and whatnot. I was into Star Wars until I turned 11, then stopped giving a shit and gave myself to Dante. Now I'm more the Turkish Wizard of Oz type. Danielle, send pictures of your Princess Leia get-up so we can post them here.
  • Flop and I will be in attendance at tomorrow night's Hold Steady concert. If you yell, "Cole Slaw!" between sets, we'll monkey clap.
  • I've loved this season of 24. I'm currently watching Monday's episode on Tivo, and it's terrible. Did they swap scripts with Judging Amy this week? What crap!
  • We've been enjoying seeing how strangers have been finding this site. In addition to the kind referrals by Nichelle and Spinachdip, an awful lot of people are looking for information on Brad's wedgie and 28-year-old comedic burnout Rodney Rothman. We'd love to see Brad and Rodney in a grudge match with 40 midgets, that's for fuckin' sure.

An update on Andy Sands

We previously noted the antics of a guerrilla reviewer on Amazon by the name of Andy Sands. Sands continues to spread his wisdom throughout the site, but in the following review of the Bible, he outdoes himself.
I found this book to be a bit too long and at times quite boring too. It is far from being a page turner so if you are thinking of taking this on holiday as your beach book, stick with something like John Grisham or perhaps buy the new Harry Potter. I thought the plot was rather too far fetched and I found my willing suspension of disbelief was tested on more than one occassion. I did like the character of Jesus though as he did magic tricks. I also liked the part where he came back as a zombie. The author obviously has an agenda so beware, he keeps slipping in some pretty "out there" and quite frankly misogynistic, homophobic and racist ideas.

Verdict: not for everybody.
Amen. But he does not exempt the world's leading atheist and one of my favorite writers, Richard Dawkins. Here's his review of The Selfish Gene.
The youths I work with are clearly rife with this gene. It explains a lot. They let their phones ring and ring. They offer my services to ladies. For shame.
Andy Sands, if you're out there and reading, you're hired.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The poor man's Maxim

Cole Slaw Blog is hard at work on an uncharacteristically serious post about the Newsweek debacle and the executive branch's desecration of the Constitution. In the interim, corporate bankruptcy and pension fund crises precipitate stripping. Nice work, CNN.

Kama Sutra for Dummies

If you're John Doe, you've had a shitty few years, and it doesn't even have to do with the Bush Administration.

The case of Doe v. Moe is a lawsuit over "negligent sexual intercourse." During a string of apparently vigorous acts of love, Doe's then-girlfriend, Mary Moe, made her move, and missed. The Appeals Court of Massachusetts explains it best:
The defendant's body was secured in this position by the interlocking of her legs and the plaintiff's legs. At some point, the defendant unilaterally decided to unlock her legs and place her feet on either side of the plaintiff's abdomen for the purpose of increasing her stimulation. When the defendant changed her position, she did not think about the possibility of injury to the plaintiff. Shortly after taking this new position, the defendant landed awkwardly on the plaintiff, thereby causing him to suffer a penile fracture.

Long story short, Doe endured a lot of pain, and needed immediate surgery. His sexual dysfunction persists to this day, and can't be treated by therapy or medication. This lawsuit arose, and the Massachusetts courts were left trying to figure out whether there's such thing as a reasonable standard of care during consensual sex.

They concluded that such a standard is unworkable, although it would have been funny to see them try to establish one. That would have been some sweet activist judging -- the Massachusetts Appeals Court's coitus handbook.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Arrested Development: not dead yet

There's a vaguely worded report on some E! gossip site indicating that Arrested Development will be back for a third season. Not much to go by, and the final say is supposed to come out next week. If true, a third season will almost, but not quite, compensate for Fox's news division.

ABB on presidential biking

The great blogger ABB (or, as I like to think of her, the future Mrs. CrimeNotes) goes on a beautiful tirade about the slap-in-the-face quality of the president's Maryland bike ride during last week's plane-over-D.C. scare:
Hey asshole! You wanted this job. You fucking lied and sold your soul for it. Gerald Ford got some slack for falling and looking like shit. But you! Yeah, you Scooter! You need to take this shit a little more serious. Fuck it, a lot more serious. You have about 2000 to-dos and, as one of your bosses, I expect more. Give me some Bill Clinton bags under the eyes and a little haggardness. Fake it, motherfucker! Because when you go out and bike in the middle of a war it pisses me the fuck off!

And that is why I love her. Gail Collins and the Times op-ed page, please take note.

Also, Rude Pundit is in great form today, albeit less vulgar than usual. I had CNN's Crossfire on TV as I was heading out the door for Saturday night socializing, and freaked when Bob Novak compared the Democratic handling of judicial nominees to the Holocaust. Rude Pundit gives the rundown.

Concert Review: British Sea Power

Official blog pin-up Brian and I went to Bowery Ballroom tonight for what turned out to be an evening of art rock. I grabbed the tickets to see British Sea Power, whose second album Open Season I previously implied would have been at home on a John Hughes soundtrack (in a good way).

Well, it didn't turn out exactly as planned. BSP rocked out pretty tough, much more guitar-driven and hard edged than I expected. Still, I liked it. Most of their performance contrasted starkly with "It Happened on an Oily Stage" and "Please Stand Up," but if given a choice, my tastes tend to favor loud guitars and loud voices. On the other hand, the lead singer sounded hoarse and pretty rough for most of the set. The drummer/keyboardist also made the unfortunate choice of wearing a construction worker hat for the last song, which made him look like an outcast from the Village People.

Blog pin-up Brian did not share my generally favorable reaction. They lost him halfway through. To my surprise, we both liked opening act Feist. I didn't expect her to be my proverbial cup of tea. But she had a great voice, played with the crowd very well, and is a pretty lady to boot. I think I love her. She's a little too sweet-sounding for me to purchase her stuff, but as a live performer, she was kind of sublime. It was an endearing and polished performance.

Follow-up note: Downtown music aficionado Central Village attended the Saturday night show and has some different conclusions as to BSP. Apparently the Saturday show was less rambunctious, and the lead singer's voice was in better shape.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

A very special episode of Sunday Stylin'

This is our popular, twice-weekly installment wherein my co-blogger and I mock the styles sections of the New York Times. I'm on duty today, but even with a wealth of material, my heart's not in it. The reason is, elsewhere in the paper, the Times has inaugurated what, by all appearances, will be an extremely thoughtful and nuanced series on social mobility and class in America. Income inequality is on the rise, and the shift from strict classlines as been replaced by a meritocracy that's largely a proxy for the old Victorian rigidity.

Two semi-serious points before getting to this week's salvos. First, it's not easy to read this article and then go on a barrage making fun of the style section's celebration of the upper class. Doesn't seem so funny right now. Second, this goes back to my post that triggered our Styles roundup. The Times embarrasses itself by publishing its twice-weekly valedictories of conspicuous consumption alongside serious reporting. Even moreso when the Styles section unwittingly lauds some deadly serious problems.

With this dissonance duly noted, on to the bile:

A Tale of Diamonds and Mud: It's not easy being an ultra-rich San Francisco socialite. Your stepson, who has a receding hairline and works at McSweeney's, has written a tell-all memoir that spills the beans about your love of jewels. In an attempt to defend your dignity, you note that the tell-all will aid in your puppy's housebreaking. "Little Twinkle is going to tinkle on this," you say.

Scatological matters preoccupy your extended family. Your stepson (he of the receding hairline) claims that he uttered, "The glory of it all," at the time he mastered potty training. Meanwhile, assorted ex-husbands and ex-wives intermarry. Danielle Steele becomes somebody's wife. You can only call your prodigal stepson a faggot and pin on a few $200,000 brooches. On the other hand, you don't wear robes, and already own a dishwasher.

For Baby, All You Knead is Love. All the trendy rich ladies in New York like to massage their babies. The practice has its roots in East Asian baby handling techniques. A new industry has sprouted up, based on baby massage oil and baby massage classes.

Remember that stuff at the top of this post?
Indian milking is one technique in the latest must-do for the sort of parent who can spot an $800 Xplory stroller at 40 paces. "You have to get a car seat, you have to do baby massage," said Debra Teramo of Manhattan, mother of 1-year-old Ethan.
So yeah, that stuff at the top of the post that I wrote? The prosecution rests.

In other news, a bunch of ladies like to roller derby in the Bronx; one bad-ass lawyer writes books about Shakespeare and eats lunch at his house; and a lady has ideas about weddings. For those of you who are shallow, rejoice, because laser hair removal procedures have dropped in price. Wes Anderson's brother likes books, bars, and cursing. (Me too!)

Looking to indulge a lame and spoiled graduate? Buy her Cartier stationery or a $195 Prada beauty kit.

Hopefully, by Thursday's post, the obnoxious mojo will be back, complete with thorough, righteous mockery of Alex Kuczynski and her gang of idiots. For now, I advise you to read the enterprise reporting of Janny Scott and David Leonhardt, then lightly peruse a few of the aforementioned articles. Read it, and weep.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Why we love New York: reason No. 83

Today on the R train, Cole Slaw Blog noticed an older man dressed in a brown, tweed, three-piece suit, a cape and a nametag reading: "Hans Christian Andersen" in capital letters.

Denmark's most famous author (1805-1875) had white hair and a white mustache. He was speaking with a lanky youth next to him. I overheard him say, in accented English that he knew many people from the youth's country. (CSB did not overhear specifically which country it was, and does not wish to guess at the thoughts of strangers, a la Alex Kuczynski.)

The two then chatted amiably for the next several minutes. Then the man fetched his cane, arranged his cape about him and exited at the Lexington Avenue stop.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Wild horses on West 14th

Jennifer 8. Lee (who, amazingly, has so far escaped the ire of this site) reports breaking news about a pair of horses who got loose in the Meatpacking District, running at full gallop with the flow of traffic. The horses were carrying a stagecoach advertising some kind of Shania Twain perfume, which I can only assume smells like horse. A white van bumped the stagecoach, the stagecoach tipped, and the protagonists of this story, Princess and Hero, bolted.

As shown in a recent Deadwood episode, the consequences of a loosened horse can be dire. No reports of any Meatpacking District denizens being trampled in the chaos.

The day was saved when a quickthinking construction worker reined in Princess, and some cops on an antiterrorism drill snagged Hero. I'm glad that both horses are safe, and hope that they enjoyed West 14th more than I do.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Pimpin' for a good cause

We're all in our twenties and most of us aren't raking in the big bucks. Nevertheless, I humbly encourage you to consider throwing a couple dollars to our friends Sharat Raju and Valarie Kaur for their documentary in progress, Divided We Fall, which depicts America's Sikh, Muslim, and Arab communities in the aftermath of 9/11. Now that American Made has dominated the film festival circuit the way USC dominates the A.P. rankings, Sharat is pursuing a new project. The funds will, among other things, help him shoot some updated footage.

Perhaps collectively, our readership of dozens can hit a tally in the three figures. After reviewing the above links, click here to do the right thing and donate a small percentage of your beer fund.

Thursday miscellany

  • The big scare in D.C. yesterday turned out to be a non-story. Putting aside Bush-bashing inclinations, the bigger story is that the president was out of the White House at the time because he was riding his bike in Maryland, for exercise. Sweet Jesus, what kind of adult gets to take off a Wednesday morning to go bike riding? Bike riding. I don't like to go out to lunch in case the shit goes down, and homeboy, leader of the free world, is out bike riding.
  • The proprietors of Cole Slaw Blog are pleased to announce that official ne'er-do-well Yachnin will visit New York in June. She'll be slamming beers and kicking asses. Expect a bliss of sarcasm and evil.
  • In other news from the D.C. region, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), age 50, tells William Pryor, age 43, that he would be proud to have Pryor for a son. I foresee a Thursday Styles feature, followed by a sitcom deal.
  • Brother Spinachdip took the words out of my mouth (or the letters out of my anticipated post) with his critique of the promising Huffington Post. She's assembled some excellent talent, but placed them on a site that's so busy it's hard to concentrate. I appreciate Arianna's work, and the two of us underwent our political conversions simultaneously. Here's hoping she polishes it up a bit.
  • The Apprentice must be put out of its misery. Why I watch, I do not know.
  • The Hold Steady's album "Separation Sunday" gets better with every listen. It's been a couple years since I've been so enamored with an album, and that was a record from the '70s. "Silly rabbit, tripping is for teenagers, murder is for murderers, and hard drugs are for bartenders." I'll save the highlights for an upcoming essay. As Flop would say, it's smashtastic.

Thursday Stylin': Big boobs are overrated

In today's desperately pathetic attempt to fill space and gain advertising revenue, the Stylin' section scrapes up whatever it can, giving us internets, shuttlecocks and designer kitties.

Fashion Refigured: Oh, the tribulations of being shallow and obsessed with one's appearance. Apparently, women with breast implants have a hard time finding clothes that fit properly. Apparently, it's a regular fucking Sophie's Choice deciding between enhanced boobs or high fashion. Cole Slaw Blog struggles to empathize.

Also, we offer this paragraph as evidence of society's fucked-up expectations for women.

Such is life for shoppers who have faced the double-edge scalpel of plastic surgery, which has allowed hundreds of thousands of American women to have the cleavage they deem ideal, though they no longer fit the svelte silhouette dictated by many fashion houses.

It's bullshit like this that makes Cole Slaw Blog humbly thankful to be male.

What's Up, Pussycat? Whoa!: Leave it to the Stylin' section to report on the hottest trend in pets: Designer kitties! They're semi-wild and illegal!

Before we continue with our snark, we would like to point out what a total piece of shit this headline is. Anyway, where were we? Oh yes, trendy pets.

Apparently, it also takes a special breed to own one of these crosses between an African wildcat and a regular house cat. Namely, one must be a total, empty-headed idiot.

The cats in this story cost somewhere north of $4,000 each. They eat shrimp cocktail and steak frites, and sleep on burberry beds. Cole Slaw Blog recognizes that it's a free country, and we're certainly not about to tell people that they can't spend tens of thousands on dumbass semi-wild animals that make one feel cutting-edge.

Of course, what with it being a free country and all, we're also going to hate on these people all we like.

"If I have to move to New Jersey to keep these cats, I will," said their owner, a 29-year-old hedge fund analyst who equates life in downtown Manhattan with life itself. "That's how much I love them," she said, speaking only on the condition of anonymity.

If I were this much of a dipshit, I wouldn't want to be publicly identified, either. Who are these people?

Crazy 'Bout a Sharp-Dressed Man: More materialism on parade from Alex Kuczynski. This time, our heroine is doing it up at Bergdorf Goodman's men's store, snapping up $1,800 suits for her hubby, throwing around the brand names and mingling with the little people.

She scoffs when a salesperson offers to drop off some $345 shirts after they've been altered, and asks the waiter at the store's cafe if his shirt is Etro. Turns out, the salesman came through on his promise and the waiter's shirt was from the Gap. The lowest price quoted in the article is $250 for white jeans. What? Cole Slaw Blog might wear white jeans if you paid us $250. A

And here I felt like a big man when I hit a $150 exacta at the OTB today.

The Pretty Pit Stop: Borrowing Blush Without Blushing: Some people retouch their makeup with the samples at cosmetics counters. And ... well, that's pretty much all this article is, tales of people who do this. Maybe next week, people who are feeling peckish hit up the free samples at Whole Foods. Thanks, Stephanie Rosenbloom!

I should note that I did shit like this at a department-store cologne counter when I was in eighth grade and a bunch of us were about to meet some girls for a movie at Westgate mall.

Online Trainers Keep Their Distance: Oh, those crazy internets. Is there anything we can't do over the web? Now, there are personal trainers who coach clients over the 'net. But yo, it's probably not as effective, because they're not there and stuff. On the other hand, it's better than no personal trainer.

And there are some personal trainers who disapprove of online trainers altogether.

This story is so obvious, I can't believe Stephanie Rosenbloom didn't write it. That said: Thanks, Elizabeth Weil!

Oy.

Hello, Birdie, Bye-Bye, Net: Calling all racquet-sports enthusiasts! It's a new game, called Speedminton. And the only time it will ever be written about is when a paper is just scraping the bottom of the barrel to fill its pages.

On the plus side, the word shuttlecock is used frequently.

In other stylin' news, H&M is collaborating with Stella McCartney, too much water is bad for you and Stephanie Rosenbloom notes that stores are open.

Is it just us, or is the Stylin' Section starting to wheeze now that they're twice a week? I mean, the section has always been about useless shit, but the past two have felt even more pointless and stupid than usual. Maybe it's just us.

Satisfying your filibuster needs

As made clear here, here and here, I'm a tad fixated with judicial nominations and the filibuster rule. Salon has posted a straightforward guide to the recent history of judicial appointments and how the current controversy took shape.

My subscription to Salon lapsed last month, but its content in the past couple of weeks seems to have taken an uptick.

Cole Slaw Blog celebrity sighting*

First things first: Neither of Cole Slaw Blog's proprietors actually saw the celebrity in question, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. He was espied by Official Blog Pinup Brian, while I waited in the back of Old Town, nursing a pint.

I was sitting there, happily sipping and wondering if the yuppie-ish dude next to me with his hair done like that one dude on Real World/Road Rules II went to work that way or stopped off at home to gel it when Brian arrived, gestured toward the door and announced "Dude, Mike Bloomberg is here."

Hizzoner, however, went to the upstairs dining room before I could lay eyes on him and Brian and I proceeded to have drinks.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

A better way

I was about to go Zell Miller on the Times and essentially challenge it to a duel. That would have made the same publication the direct or indirect target of four out of the last five posts, and while we're clearly obsessed, Cole Slaw Blog doesn't want to act like a know-it-all.

Instead, I present you with this.

What it's like to report in Iraq

Eschaton links to this article from the Courier Journal in Louisville, Kentucky. It's a first-person account of reporting on the war, concluding with damning questions about how the government has twisted truth and transparency to self-serving ends. Exceptional stuff, and sad that the Times doesn't have the nerve to publish pieces like this. Probably scared someone will think that the paper has a "liberal bias."

Harvard still sucks

The kids at Harvard lack originality. Therefore, they are ripping off the Princeton mock filibuster, which I previously discussed here. Goddamn, I don't want to be tough and cynical on the college kids, but I guess I'm more of a march-in-the-street, sit-in-at-the-president's-office type. It's not an effective protest to have some guy standing in front of a building reading from Shakespeare. That will only freak out the Harvard kids and mislead them into thinking that there's going to be an exam.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

What doesn't sell in Peoria

Apparently, The New York Times has had a bit of a credibility problem lately. Making shit up does that to you. But the Times is also very concerned about that pernicious liberal bias you've probably heard about. Their solution? Well, for one thing, they've got a committee on the case, and they've produced a report:

In part because the Times's editorial page is clearly liberal, the news pages do need to make more effort not to seem monolithic. Both inside and outside the paper, some people feel that we are missing stories because our staff lacks diversity in viewpoints, intellectual grounding, and individual backgrounds. We should look for all manner of diversity. We should seek talented journalists who happen to have military experience, who know rural America first hand, who are at home in different faiths."


Pardon Cole Slaw Blog, but isn't trying "not to seem monolithic" basically another way to say that the Times will make sure to avoid looking liberal? I think we already have several papers and cable channels that do this.

Read that first sentence again and see what it's saying. Because the edit page is liberal, the Times intends to make sure it's articles don't appear to be that way, too.

What happens when the facts happen to favor the liberal point of view? Will they just ignore them? This would help their credibility problem much in the way that one could fix their car's annoying rattle by giving the keys to this cat.

The Times' effort to ensure a greater background in viewpoints certainly seems reasonably worthy, in a rather obvious sort of way.

Of course, in speaking of that greater diversity, the report cites rural America and different faiths as areas for improvement. These sound to Cole Slaw Blog like the kind of things one would assume appeal to people in places like the "middle of the country." Or even "exurbs and hinterland" as the report so charmingly refers to the kind of places where Cole Slaw Blog's owner-operators were born and raised.

Perhaps the Times is worried that the rest of the country thinks of it as the kind of paper that doesn't care about the things they care about. The kind of paper that is out-of-touch, obsessed with silly, frivolous things, and not interested in the concerns of "real America."

But I don't know who they'd have to blame for that.

To which CrimeNotes adds: This sounds like the opening gambit for the paper to backslide even further into its identity crisis. What the hell happened to hard news? This isn't just a CNN-type bid to dumb down its coverage, but a move to further the paper's features-driven mania. If it wants to be a better paper, it would put a fire in the belly of its Washington staff and recommit itself to serious international coverage. Fortunately, as the Times becomes a debauched backwater, we still have Great Britain.