Thursday, June 30, 2005

Thursday Stylin': tasteful as ever

In this week's desperately pathetic attempt to fill space and gain advertising revenue, The New York Times writes about teen oral sex parties, investigates the scent of Alan Cumming and Alex Kuczynski files from the Hamptons, where she brings us urban chic _ Hamptons style.

Are These Parties for Real?

What in the name of Brassica oleracea is going on? Leave it to the Stylin' section to limn all trends spurious. Based on one paperback novel and a lot of talk in those high school halls, The New York Times sees fit to inform us about something that might be happening, although no one can say. To wit: Oral sex parties at which girls wear different colored lipstick and dudes try to collect as many colors as possible on their units. Because in high school, dudes love showing each other their wangs.

Let's leave aside the issue of taste for the moment. (Although I wonder if Bill Keller didn't spit out his Mueslix when he saw this.)

This is appalling journalism. A trend story should ideally have facts to support the claims. But apparently, not even Friendster could produce the raw material for this story. Nevertheless, it must have made it over that low Stylin' bar, because here it is.
Certainly, almost any sexual practice that can be imagined stands a good chance of having been tried somewhere, sometime. But many sex researchers and adolescent-health professionals say that rainbow parties are not a big part of
teenage sexual behavior.

Here's the only part of the story that uses anything other than naked assertion to support the story's premise.
Still, an informal survey of teenagers found that most of those aged 13 to 16 knew what rainbow parties were, believe they take place and hear of them through the school gossip mill. "I think it's completely gross, but there's a girl in my class and everybody says she's been to one," said the girl, a 13-year-old from New York. "I heard two guys talk about her."

Does this count as independent verification? (Don't answer that, Judy Miller). Of course it doesn't. Any halfway competent journalist would have seen this as a non-story. The only reason to write this is to titillate and maybe to garner some coveted "most-emailed" status.

Just to clarify one thing: Unlike most of the people sputtering over this non-phenomenon, Cole Slaw Blog objects soley to the bad taste and insipid values that underlie the decision to run a story like this. It reminds me of the sort of thing that got Bob Somerby into awesomely high dudgeon during the campaign.

I just can't wait until the Stylin' section tackles the trend of A-list actors who misappropriate gerbils, as well as this season's hottest sex trend: The Nolita Steamer!

Addendum: Also, I love that the second most-emailed story according to the Times right now is Thomas Friedman's column entitled "The End of the Rainbow."

The Sweet Smell of Celebrity

If there were a Stylin' Section drinking game, this would totally prompt a granddaddy social. You've got your trendspotting, your product placement and your celebrity fawning all in one. Hope you brought the Natty, bro.

It appears that Alan Cumming has his own scent. Which puts him right up there with Britney and J-Lo. Of course, it's mostly a colossal joke. Which is actually pretty damn funny.

Honestly, more actors should have their own scents. I'd definitely buy Hot Becky in a bottle for a girlfriend.

I hope they can work this into the Entourage plot: Johnny Drama could have his own camp scent, and as is his wont, be the last one in on the joke. Or better yet, when Crimenotes and I make it big we can have Cole Slaw Blog: The Scent. It would be Cabbagey and peppery, with a definite carrot note, along with an undercurrent of creme fraiche. Also available in jicama and new red cabbage, for slaw as real as the streets.

Or would everything fall apart when Gheorghe Muresan's lawyers threatened copyright infringement?

Outfitting the Hamptons, Après Puffy.

Oh, Alex. You're back. We missed our shopping trips with you. We also missed your daft, myopic worldview and trainwreck articles.

In this week's Critical Shopper, Alex pays a visit to a Hamptons retail outlet called Blue & Cream and is immediately rendered dizzy by the irony. Because, although it's an expensive boutique aimed at crackers with high cheekbones, it's named for ... a rap song! By someone who was in Wu-Tang Clan!

And to think, it's only been 85 years or so that white people have been liking black music.

Reclamation is a recurring theme in rap: black rappers taking the ultimate uncool white man's accessory - in this case a clumsy gum-soled shoe - and transforming it into urban chic. In turn Jeff Goldstein and Kira Cohen, a former Hamptons nightclub promoter and his fashionista former girlfriend, use the nostalgic vernacular of rap to sell clothes. It's a derivative symbiosis that will have sociologists scratching their heads for decades.

Yeah, this is basically the hottest field in the social sciences. It's gettting so you can't get a grant to study anything else nowadays.

You also can't get good help these days. Alex sniffed at the level of service and drew a couple more dubious assertions before wrapping up with what has become a curiously favorite pastime of hers: Reporting via the eavesdrop.

I sat for an hour, unobserved and undisturbed, listening to the soundtrack (Spandau Ballet, Sugar Hill Gang, Flock of Seagulls) and visitors' conversations. The topics were limited: money, fashion, the Hamptons, hangovers. (To be fair, it was a weekend.)

Did you see all those Maybachs in town this week? Dope. We were at Tavern last night. Where were you? This is my friend Mitch, the one I told you about. He's a stylist. Is this totally boom or what?

For the record, the words dope and boom were uttered by white people.

You can almost see her shaking her head, wondering how such a thing came to pass. I mean, one certainly doesn't overhear such words at Bergdorf's. Oh, Alex, never change, sweets. Never change.

Are Men Ready for the 5-Step, 10-Minute Shave?

Some guys like taking more time and care when they shave. There are many products available to apply to one's skin before, during and after the act of shaving. Five helpful photos show a model applying five different products. This is the kind of innocuous advertorial content that probably shouldn't bother me, but does. Why is this in a newspaper again? Service journalism? I'm skeptical.

That said, I should also disclose: I've done this before. And you know what, it felt pretty damn good. Of course, I got my excess shaving products as gifts. On balance, I'd rather have a good sandwich.

I can't speak for my co-blogger, but it all might be a bit much for him. We're talking about someone who considers hand towels a touch rococo.

In other Stylin' news, more beards! But this time, with pretty ladies! Also, the weekly "Open for Business" feature, often written by Stephanie Rosenbloom, bears no byline. Stephanie, if that was you, we totally applaud the self-respect.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Shark bites

I don't know about you, but I can't get enough shark news. I suppose it beats hearing about missing white women or celebrity trials, but seriously. Can we just spend some time on substance, please?

The only way I'll acknowledge that all this sharky news is worthwhile is if all this encourages the makers of Shark Bites brand fruity snacks to put their fine product back on the market. Then we'll be in business.

And I'll make a batch of these for Crimenotes, who is an avid angler.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Law slaw: notes on recent Supreme Court rulings

For reasons that are a little baffling to me, a decent number of general interest blogs have been posting on recent Supreme Court opinions, and some of the left-wing political blogs I'm visiting are borderline hysterical. I love the law, I think about it even when I don't have to. It's good to see so much public interest in what the Supreme Court is doing, but a lot of these rulings are small potatoes that don't depart from well-accepted precedent. They'll change very few lives. Don't believe the hype.

With that premise in mind, I'm going to take a shot at some low-key legal punditry, and break down some of the big, recent cases. I was a little bit inspired by the ongoing discussion at Slate, which features some excellent constitutional scholars and goes into great, provocative detail. I highly recommend it.

The Ten Commandments Cases. One ruling holds that Texas can display a mock-up of the Ten Commandments in outdoor public space because it's in a historical context; the other holds that a Kentucky courthouse can't display the Ten Commandments on a stand-alone basis.

Cases about such displays are the backwater of First Amendment law, right up there with what kind of striptease is expressive and what kind of striptease appeals to prurient interests. The reason is, they're incredibly fact specific. I'm a hardcore atheist: if I saw the Ten Commandments posted next to an excerpt of the Justinian Code, the Bill of Rights, and the Magna Carta, I wouldn't give a shit. If a massive stone tablet were posted behind a judge while she made a death penalty ruling, I'd be appalled. It's context, bitches. Government can't conscript you into being a vehicle for a religious belief (which is why I think "under God" should be found unconstitutional) but the First Amendment doesn't protect you from feeling squeamish (which is why a creche or a menorah in the town square doesn't bother me).

One of the aforementioned Slate postings quotes from the blog of Wisconsin law professor Ann Althouse, which pretty much summed up my feelings:
These are inconsequential displays, which is why they'll be approved if they are approved and why it won't make much difference if they are taken down either. ... Still, they are too much for the extreme secularists and just the beginning of what extremists on the other side would like to see. The Court needs to draw a good line that fends off both extremes.
They split the difference enough for me to sleep at night.

I haven't read this opinion, but from news reports, my understanding is that this ruling doesn't ban filesharing, it just leaves it up to juries to determine whether a given filesharing program is set up in a fashion that invites copyright infringement. For example, if you market your filesharing program by saying, "Why pay $10 for an album on iTunes when we'll give it to you for free?", you're probably encouraging copyright infringement. Or at least it would be up to a jury to decide if you are.

As stated, I haven't read the opinion so I can't say for sure. From my understanding, the worst that it does is foreclose blatant illegality on the internet.

The Connecticut Takings Clause case. The most interesting case by far. The Takings Clause is as interesting as public religious display cases are lame.

Essentially, the Fifth Amendment's Takings Clause says that government can take private property so long as it pays "just compensation" and the property is taken for public use. This issue is a powderkeg for the extreme right. For the free market types, it's a much bigger deal than a lame Ten Commandments display. It is linked to a theory that's been labeled "the Constitution in exile." Right-wing lawyers believe that an absolute right to private property should be paramount, thus eviscerating environmental law, land-use law, and, essentially, any kind of zoning. They believe that the Constitution has been "exiled" since the New Deal, and conservative University of Chicago professor Richard Epstein believes that a liberal interpretation of the Takings Clause is the bugaboo behind that exile.

The facts of the recent Supreme Court ruling are sympathetic, and unless you understand the scope of what the right wants to do, you're going to be inclined to think the Supreme Court gave a greenlight to municipal corruption and big business plutocrats. A city in Connecticut condemned large tracts of a thriving residential neighborhood, tossing out the residents for a massive property handover to private corporations. This sucks. I get pissed about fancy restaurants taking over my street, and I'd be furious if the Lower East Side were razed to make way for a few Wal Marts. The Supreme Court essentially ruled that a city validly exercises power under the Takings Clause when it condemns a viable neighborhood to make way for corporate interests.

Although the specific facts of this ruling make the outcome hard to swallow, the alternative was worse. In essence, if the Court came out the other way, the implication would be that environmental laws and historical preservation efforts constituted a taking of private property and should be nullified. The idea is this: private property would be made sancrosanct over almost all other governmental interests, and a governmental entity couldn't take property or limit its development without an extremely compelling justification. If the government can't bulldoze a house to make way for Pfizer offices, they also couldn't prevent someone from bulldozing a protected wetland to build luxury condos.

What makes the Takings Clause so tricky is that the Supreme Court has devised a series of balancing tests and bright-line tests that leave these issues somewhat open-ended. The facts made this a hard case, but a lot of the left-wingers who were furious with the ruling apparently didn't understand that it was a small piece of a much larger jurisprudential struggle.

Aren't you sorry you didn't go to law school?

Monday, June 27, 2005


Much as with the last heatwave, the current weather seems to be zapping my slaw-related inspiration. This is highly embarrassing in light of Flop's flurry of activity, but I've overcome worse humiliation. Despite being groggy and hot, I'm still trying to make the most out of life. A few recent interests:

The White Stripes, Get Behind Me Satan. I thought Elephant and White Blood Cells were fine, but neither one kept me up all night. Get Behind Me Satan is pretty fantastic. "My Doorbell" and "Take, Take, Take" sound like they could be on Led Zeppelin IV. Dig the steel drums on "The Nurse" and the other songs' twangy feel. I'm not sure why this album comes together so well, but it does.

Sleater-Kinney, The Woods. Hello, ladies. I love you. I'm sure that one night soon, while drunk, I will shout, "Land, ho!" in a high pitched, immaculate warble.

Matt Taibbi, Spanking the Donkey. Only halfway through this book, but already it's my favorite election book since Richard Ben Cramer's What It Takes. Taibbi is a hard-left liberal who hates the Republicans but is bitterly disappointed by the Democrats. During the 2004 election, he picked up where Hunter Thompson left off, shrooming before covering the Democratic primary debate at Pace University, fuming against John Kerry, and swooning for Dennis Kucinich. He also eviscerates the personalities and lifestyles of the major reporters who cover elections -- if you have an opinion about Jodi Wilogren and cried yourself to sleep the night that Kerry won the Iowa caucuses, this book confirms all of your worst nihilist fears.

The Andy Milonakis Show. I randomly caught this on MTV last night. It's like Tom Green's old show, minus the raunchy sensibilities and public humiliation. A chunky Manhattan adolescent runs roughshod through the streets, acting like an ass in front of old people, frightening deliverymen, rapping, and showering in mustard. It's completely adolescent and over-the-top, yet I love it.

New Pornographers. I made a 90 minute trek on Saturday from Yankee Stadium to Prospect Park to catch The New Pornographers play Celebrate Brooklyn. Like their new album, the performance by Stars made me sleepy (not in a bad way) but the Pornographers sounded pretty good, Neko Case's absence notwithstanding. I didn't get a good handle on their new stuff, except the title track for the upcoming album Twin Cinema, which rocks.

The HBO comedies. There's some kind of tragic, meta humor going on in The Comeback, where Lisa Kudrow plays an actress on a lousy show who's humiliated by her surroundings. It's sad that she willingly plays a character who gets dogshit in her hair. Entourage -- even worse. I hope this series ends with Eric as a bond trader, Johnny Drama a gym teacher, Turtle a cabdriver, and Vince with a fatal case of crabs. So much overwriting, so much bad acting, such little payoff. It plays like an inside joke, only there's nothing inside and the jokes have no punchline. Cracks about Star Jones being fat and Lara Flynn Boyle being skinny? A cameo by Paulie Shore? It's worse than a Jay Leno monologue acted out before your eyes.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Zombie slaw: a review of Land of the Dead

Some people got Revenge of the Sith. Others got a new Coldplay album. The release I've been looking forward to is Land of the Dead.

Love zombies, can't get enough of them, ever since I was nine or ten and saw the original Night of the Living Dead on UHF on a Friday night. I didn't understand the subtext at the time (the black protaganist beats back the zombies only to get killed by what essentially was a lynch mob) and wasn't very scared, but I loved it anyway.

Land of the Dead is the horror movie to see if you like zombies and listen to Air America. Dennis Hopper plays an oligarch named Kaufman, who assembles a walled-off community of elites in a luxury apartment tower. The rest of the city is comprised of serfs who talk about revolution. On the outside of the city (protected by rivers on all sides) everything is zombie.

The settings for the other George Romero zombie movies are a little non-descript. In Land of the Dead, the city reminded me of Bartertown in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, especially when the residents wager on a cage match where two zombies vie for human prey. The setting is well-imagined and vivid -- if a zombie/human showdown can be described as "credible," Land of the Dead fits the bill.

John Leguizamo plays a sort of bootlegger named Cholo. He scavanges outlying areas for booze, cigars and essentials, and brings them to Kaufman. When Kaufman (for presumably racist and class-based reasons) refuses to admit him into the swank residential community, Cholo attempts to extort him, and assembles the means to attack the building. Meanwhile, Riley, the jaded protaganist, is assigned by Kaufman to prevent Cholo from attacking the city.

The movie has a lot of contemporary political digs and does not give a favorable view of the wealthy. (One climactic moment involves dollar bills raining down next to a gas pump.) Fifty years ago, it would have garnered accusations of communist sympathy. But in the end, it's a kick-ass zombie movie that includes several dozen new, completely over-the-top ways of showing heads erupt, limbs severed, and guts splatter. Gross? Indeed. If you don't like to see the vivid mutilation of zombies and their victims, join the Zombie Preservation Society. Otherwise, I offer an enthusiatic recommendation.

Someday I hope to come back as a zombie, but please don't get scared. I won't be a flesh-eating zombie, I'll just dance like the zombies in the "Thriller" video, and (inspired by the people at Dead Guy) open a brewery with zombie-named beers. While I'm on a zombie kick, I also recommend the blog Zombie Eat Brains, which Flop kindly brought to my attention. It's a general-interest blog that uses zombies as an excuse for writing about other stuff.

Sunday Stylin': on schedule and boring as hell

In this week's desperately pathetic attempt to fill space and gain advertising revenue, The New York Times conducts a fourth-grade science experiement, chills with a real, live British Earl at an exclusive party hosted by a diamond cartel and writes about poker.

Shivering for Luxury.

With apologies to Mrs. Caylor for jacking her lab-report guidelines.

1.) Purpose.
A recent experiment in which a reporter visited various commercial corners of Manhattan with a high-grade thermometer found that almost without fail, the more ritzy the establishment is trying to be, the colder the air-conditioning is kept.

2.) Procedure.

For the experiment a pair of professional-grade Mannix HDT303K digital thermometers were used. The temperature was measured as close to the center of each establishment as possible, away from any vents, moving air or doors. When the thermometers' readings differed (never by more than 0.4 degrees), the two were averaged. The reporter did not announce his presence as one but entered each place of business as a normal customer would.

3.) Data & Observations.

Bergdorf Goodman, 68.3 degrees; Bloomingdale's, 70.8; Macy's 73.1; Club Monaco, 74.0; the Original Levi's Store, 76.8; Old Navy 80.3.


Lower-end stores tend to be more frugal. The 88-cent shoelaces at National Wholesale Liquidators on Broadway near Houston Street were curled up in 76.6-degree air, while half a block away, an $11.95 frosted soap pump at Crate & Barrel sat in a comparatively frosty climate of 70.9.


Restaurants were slight exceptions to the luxury-is-always-colder rule. In Greenwich Village, EJ's Luncheonette, at 68.7, was almost exactly the same temperature as Café Boulud, but both were much colder than a McDonald's in Chelsea (72.0).


For some, cold air is not about luxury but about what's natural and necessary. Thus the coldest place tested was the penguin observing room at the Central Park Zoo: 67.2

4.) Analysis.

This article was a total piece of shit. And to boot, author Allen Salkin tried to make people (and possibly himself) feel like it was more important than it was by finding a Henry Miller quote on air conditioning. My question: Is there now a searchable Bartlett's, or was this Googled? I shouldn't come down on Salkin too hard, the ability to stretch an article out to that length is harder than it looks. It's a tool every daily journalist needs, but doesn't particularly take pride in. From now on whenever I feel like I need to pump up one of my blog entries, I'm totally going to turn to penguins. Awk! Awk!

I suspect they're running short on ideas over at Stylin' Central, but hey, when air conditioning fronts your section, what's not a story idea?

Regardless, Bill Keller's going to have to change that "All the News That's Fit to Print" slogan before it becomes actionable.

Social Diary: Influencers Are Forever.

The Stylin' Section's embedded correspondent files a report from a lavish and exclusive party hosted by everyone's favorite diamond cartel, DeBeers. The company that has brought us all those charming ads best parodied in the Family Guy gag when the commcercial ends with the tagline "Diamonds: She'll Pretty Much Have To."

The article begins with that bizarre tic of The New York Times and freshman college-paper reporters, the quote lede:

"INTRIGUE: 9," Rufus Albemarle said on Tuesday evening, as he surveyed and rated a room full of elegant strangers who were suavely disporting themselves at nosebleed altitude 79 floors above New York.

Albemarle, a real, live British Earl is rating the party on its intrigue, decor and purpose. He's one of the Influencers, as the article terms them. Apparently, DeBeers wants to be a household name in 10 years. Well, thanks to all those commercials (I remember seeing them during football games as a kid), as well as people's generallly heightened awareness of conflict diamonds, I'm sure DeBeers is a reasonably household name as it is. But apparently, they're getting into retail or some shit. Huzzah for vertical monopolies!

Anyway, this article is supposedly about how important these Influencers are, but we never learn why or how that might be true, except by learning of all the details of this party. It's porn for Stylin' aficionados.

Social Diarist Guy Trebay recounts all the inside-baseball details that went into the party. Right down to the peas and carrots, as well as the brand name party planner, "who appeared as if out of nowhere three years back to hijack the plum social assignments on which the florist Robert Isabell used to have a lock."

Oh, him.

The next couple paragraphs are this kind of entre nous aside about this party planner, David Monn's background, including the time he brought some rats into the Met. (Not on purpose.)

Not that I really give a shit about the super-rich, but this is just another opportunity to provide actual insight derailed by drooling over brand names. Oh, Stylin' Section, you do not belong in an actual newspaper. Can someone spin this off into The New York Times Company's own version of Lucky magazine or something?

The Boy King Has Left the Table.

The story of poker wunderkind Stu Ungar. I don't think there's a single brand name in this story, there's no dubious trend being declared, and no one's getting a post-pilates, shower-gel handjob. So why is it in the Styles section? If I wanted to get all A-Kucz on things and make it all about Flop, I'd say they were throwing me a curve, but that's not it. My only guess is that there was nowhere else to put this story, and poker's sort of trendy. Also, as noted previously, they're kind of hurting for material this week.

Misery Loves Fried Chicken, Too.

A guy and another dude he knows bond over their heartbreak. An alternately laughable and slightly sad story, I didn't hate it. It's got some strange parts, though.

The author clearly has internalized him some Nick Hornby.

Food, work, correspondence, even the Three Stooges: all lose their luster. The big picture fades, as minor details assume gargantuan proportions. CD's will suddenly beckon to be rearranged, from alphabetical to reverse chronological order and back again. I simply have no choice.

The only real consolation is found in pop music: Leonard Cohen, Elvis Costello, the Smiths: a never ending cycle of misery and heartache providing grist for our mill of self-pity. Pop music has the amazing ability to make you feel depressed and hopeful at the same time: depressed that you identify with the sentiment and hopeful because someone feels more miserable than you.

Anyway, there's not much more to say. It's altogether a rather goofy tale, offputting at times, and just kind of strange. Basically, they see Cast Away together, and while Tom Hanks' character befriends a volleyball, the author turned his buddy into anthropomorphized sporting equipment. Just strange.

Also, when was Cast Away in theaters? It's been like years, right?

Where the Girls Are.

One last thing. Meow Mix, the excellently named lesbian bar on Houston Street which closed some time ago, has been reborn, if only in spirit. The new place is called "Cattyshack" which is an even better name. The article mentions a (vain) promoter connected with the bar which makes me think that I have no desire whatsoever to go to this place.

It's too bad, I was hoping I could walk in and see a lesbian version of Carl Spackler and Ty Webb playing Golden Tee. Or even a butchy Judge Smails, complete with brass buttons and jaunty cap. Instead, this place sounds more likely to feature a mischeivous, audioanimatronic beaver.


I'm watching a truly incredible moment in sports. I set my DVR to record the Confederations Cup (think World Cup warmup) semifinal between Germany and Brazil. But the previous game on Fox Soccer Channel was the denoument of a game at the Under-20 World Championships. Nigeria and the Netherlands were tied after overtime ("extra time") and so went to penalty kicks. When a match goes to penalties, each team takes five, and whoever has more at the end wins.

Unless it's still tied. In that case, it goes to sudden death. Nigeria and the Netherlands went 12 rounds (five is the usual) of penalty kicks before Nigeria's Taye Taiwo
finally made one following a Dutch miss, giving Nigeria a 10-9 advantage on penalties. (The game was a 1-1 draw).

I mention all this as a way of noting that during anything this ridiculous, any American TV broadcaster would have been bellowing, hooting, hollering, and generally just irritating the shit out of me. Furthermore, *anyone who made a penalty kick would have been lauded as if he'd just put Grendel's head on a pike.

During this game, the announcer (I have no idea who he was) kept his wits about him and actually allowed the rather incredible events unfolding before him to speak for themselves, without feeling the need to muse on the nature of the game or relate anecdotes about one of the coaches. At one point, after a particularly staggering kick, he simply said "extraordinary!"

Indeed. I'd say that American sportscasters could shut up and take a lesson, but Vin Scully is widely hailed as the dean of play-by-play men, and yet everyone with a mike in front of them sounds as if they're trying to be the next Chris Berman instead.

*Assuming he was already "known" to be "clutch," played for a major team, or any such nonsense.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Thursday Stylin': bile backlog

In this week's desperately pathetic attempt to fill space and gain advertising revenue, The New York Times shows rare good taste, along with its usual complement of materialistic vapidity. And yes, I know it's Saturday morning already.

Fat, O.K.? And Having a Blast.

Our comrade-in-blogs, Stephanie Rosenbloom gained her reputation here for writing painfully obvious non-articles about such topics as people wanting sneakers that fit and where to purchase sorbet gel.

But this article is different. It's informative, sympathetic without being empathetic, and without that Stylin' Section cutesy that makes Cat Fancy look like Reuters. Also, there's not a trace of bemusement, snark or incredulity. Stephanie's bigfoot national writer colleagues could stand to learn a thing or two from this article, which nicely outlines the many different leisure options for seriously overweight people. In summary, there's everything from Vegas fetes and scuba lessons to bowling nights and personal training. She even includes some nice details, such as the fact that falling is a common concern among obese people.

In all honesty, I have to say ... thanks, Stephanie Rosenbloom. This is the best article I've ever read in the Stylin' Section. Of course, if Stephanie has a piece about $48 bath beads or Chanel noseplugs for swimming in the Hamptons, I'll be sorely disappointed. Not that I'm holding my breath.

Sophia? Is That You Behind the Shades?

Oy. Again with the cutesy. It's like reading really bad sportswriting, but about freaking sunglasses. Apparently, celebs like big sunglasses, so now everyone else does. And the Stylin' Section is there to cover that trend, complete with awkward, forced writing like:

The eyewear equivalent of bling, they compete for status with the fashionably oversize handbags toted by the likes of Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Richie and come in more styles than Baskin-Robbins has flavors.

The rest of the article proceeds apace. Trend is limned, people in the street are interviewed. But there's one more quote we have to point out. A retailer mentioned that the big-glasses trend is just getting warmed up because "they make you look hoboish in a rich way."

Awesome. I can't wait to see the Olsen twins hopping freights. Then Hobo-chic will be totally in! And then we'll read about it in the Stylin' section: Louis Vuitton will come out with a line of bindles. Clubs will add Thunderbird to their bottle service! Alex Kuczynski will write about boxcars and make it all about her!

Add That Youthful Glow, but Watch the Wattage.

Apaprently, there's ground up shiny stuff in some makeup. And if you apply too much, you look, as one person interviewed for this utterly pointless article said, "like a disco ball."

So the key then, would be not too little or too much, but just enough. All the News that's Fit to Print, indeed.

Grown-Up Boys' Wear for Bar or Barricades.

Wow, it just doesn't feel right, a Critical Shopper piece without Alex Kuczynski. But I suppose it doesn't take much to smack around a story that lauds a store called Nom de Guerre where one can purchase a $1,600 sweatshirt lined with rabbit fur.

It's got all the touches to appeal to 20-something males, right down to the unmarked, below-street-level location. And this week's critical shopper, Penelope Green, has learned well from her self-absorbed Jedi Mistress. She, too, can inject random friends and acquaintances into the story.

Such artful casualness, my friend Dan mused, seems geared to a man intent on modeling himself after a Brad Pitt type who has been styled for a visit to Starbucks. "You know, the hair is wet and tousled, so he can be 'caught' by the paparazzi," Dan said. "Or maybe it's what you wear in the front row of a Lakers game."

We'll let the reader decide. Here's some of the other things one can purchase at Nom de Guerre.

Paper-thin Rogan flip-flops nearby are even more archly casual, almost disposable, in a black-on-brown print over hemp soles, $110. Military jackets in navy and white pinstripes or a tigery black-and-gray camouflage pattern, carrying Nom de Guerre's own label, are $325. Lavender gingham button-down shirts, also by Nom de Guerre, classic and fitted, are $210 and $195.

Naturally, the Times finds the store charming and even "pleasantly subversive" due in part to its underground location. Personally, I'm just relieved there were no offhanded WMD references in this article.

I'd also like to note that the headline to the Times' article makes a reference to "barricades." I'm pretty sure that if it ever came down to it, the people who shop at this place wouldn't be doing any barricade-manning. You'd think a paper that just did a series on class distinctions would realize this.

The Twinkle of an Eyelash, With a Blink of Mink.

Eyelash bars! Where you can get fake eyelashes made out of fur. No, seriously.

I can't wait until the Wall Street Journal's version of this is up and running, and I can totally fucking lose my respect for that paper, too.

Friday, June 24, 2005

This aggression will not stand

We believe that ballplayers everywhere have the right to keep and wear cabbage.

We stand by Park Myung-Hwan and ask that the Korean Baseball Association extend to him the cabbage-based rights enjoyed by American ballplayers since New Yorkers drank Rheingold unironically.

Karl Rove's insurgency

(Cole Slaw power, activate! I hope Flop doesn't mind that I commandeer the top of his post, but if you live in NYC, you have no excuse to not contact Bloomberg and call on him to condemn this outrage in the strongest terms possible. If he won't resign from the GOP, he should at least stand up for his city. It will affect the likelihood of me voting for him, and it should for you, too. Contact info here. -CrimeNotes)

My co-blogger has covered the (quite proper) indignation and outrage to the recent remarks of Karl Rove. But I've been doing a lot of reading, and even a little thinking about his comments, which, while inflammatory, clearly had a deeper purpose.

I mean don't get me wrong, Karl Rove certainly may go fuck himself. I'm one of those liberals, and I probably don't need to tell you that my first impulse when terroists attacked my city was not to get Dr. Frasier Crane on the horn. Far from it. In fact, I'd like to note that while the president was running to Louisiana and Nebraska, I was here in New York, hoping my friends weren't dead.

But forget about that for now. This is classic Rove. I think that he's hoping that by throwing some red meat to the base he can prevent some defections on the war. Republicans are starting to come around on the Iraq issue, but if there's one thing that will keep them from peeling away, it's some more good, old-fashioned demonization of liberals. Even some perfectly reasonable (and dare I say, liberal) friends shy away from the term. To my way of thinking* Rove is basically reminding Republicans how cool kids do and do not think. It's straight out of the kickball diamond.

In a similar vein, I wonder if Rove and Bush like asking Bill Frist if he's got plans to go to the screening of Gaylord, Say No on the mall next week?

But I digress. Now that it's Rove saying this and not one of his puppets is intriguing. It reminds me of that turning-point scene in so many movies when the bad guy leaves his underground lair to do what his incompetent subordinates couldn't. This is Darth Vader cranking up his TIE-fighter or Dr. Evil capturing his own sharks and mounting laser beams on them himself.

It's also possible that he's doing it because now that Sen. Durbin has been appropriately cowed he can just reply that Democrats sure weren't outraged when Durbin said something similar. Of course, it's not like that at all. But Rove, in his genius, knows that reporters on deadline don't have the time for extensive critical thinking, and therefore will swallow the false equivalency without question. It's classic hornswoggling, and I'm sick of watching professional journalists fall for it.

* I should note, that much of my thinking on Rove's motives here is informed by my reading of this post, by Billmon at This Modern World. I'm going to go so far as to call that required reading for anyone still interested or incensed by this.

The best poetry reading none of you punks, especially you, Crimenotes, would attend

While I missed out on Crimenotes' rawkin' good evening, I was lucky enough last night to attend the poetry reading of a good friend who happens to be uncommonly talented.

Especially not after the reading, which served as a reminder why poetry is best experienced when read aloud. I forgot how much I enjoy that sort of thing. And yes, I speak from experience. Although my adventures in poesy these days are limited to the repurposing of John Denver songs and bawdy tales of plummy vacation spots, I do speak with some authority on the subject. I won a poetry contest some years back, utterly obliterating at least five or six other 15-year olds and taking home a coveted hat from the rain-soaked awards ceremony at the zoo. I also perform a widely acclaimed Yeats reading at Crimenotes' annual St. Patrick's day celebrations.

My credentials thus established, I hope I won't damage my friend's reputation and credibility too much to say that her work was, in a word, luminous. For those who missed out, she'll be reading at a bookshop in Brooklyn next month. And though I can't speak for her, I also imagine she'll at least be the equal of Nic Armstrong and his larcenous crew as far as post-performance socializing is concerned.

The best live rock show none of you punks would attend

Talk about ending a day on a high note. After spending the evening stewing about the biggest breakdown in political rhetoric since the likes of Preston Brooks and an infamous Wisconsin senator, I headed out to Mercury Lounge to see Nic Armstrong & The Thieves.

I've listened to their album "The Greatest White Liar" at least a dozen time. It accurately has been described as derivative of early work by The Kinks and The Beatles -- not in terms of originality so much as influence. Very good stuff, enough to deserve some enthusiasm but maybe not quite enough to make me giddy.

But live, they were tremendous. The early British Invasion analogies were misplaced -- they felt more in the tradition of Cream and The Animals, the stuff your parents rocked out to when you weren't even a gleam in their eyes, and the stuff that played on classic rock radio when you were in high school driving out to the keg party and the bonfire. There also was a little touch of The Ramones and The Clash, or maybe The Libertines, with enough guitar antics to prevent them from sounding like a late sixties cover band. The band came out and mingled with the crowd afterward; making smalltalk with Nic and John the drummer, I was a little dumbstruck, like William Miller in Almost Famous.

In any event, it's late for a schoolnight, I'm drunk, I'm tired, and not sufficiently articulate to do them or their performance justice. To those of you who got last minute e-mails from me about this show, I say, with much love, that you're very sorry you missed it, even if you don't realize it now. So, you know, just suck it up and get their album. You can thank me later.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Policy Roundtable (with a complimentary aperitif of piss and vinegar)

Thanks again, Dick Durbin.

As soon as Durbin found a handywipe to clean off the human waste that McCarthyite demagogues were dumping on him for a week, Karl Rove announced to a crowd of right-wing donors that only Republicans understand 9/11. The White House has since endorsed this view. Understandably, the families of September 11 victims are unhappy. Because, really, if you lost your wife or your dad in one of the most gruesome tragedies in American history, knowing that a presidential adviser hauls around her or his legacy as a political trophy does not comport with traditional ideas of mourning.

Choice Rove commments: "Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.'' Conservatives, he said, ''saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war.''

Not a single fucking person called for indictments, therapy, or understanding, literal or metaphorical. As Mike Malloy often asks, what does it take for millions of us to take to the streets and demand the resignation of this regime?

Here is what we have learned this week: criticize torture and you hate America. Explicitly claim dead terrorism victims as your political sled dogs, and get a pat on the back from the White House.

In the latest, painfully ironic twist, the "outrage" of Democratic senators sounds completely neutered. You'd think that Rove's comments would be enough for the Democrats to (as Tessio or Clemenza might say) go to the metaphorical mattresses. Sadly, you live in an alternative universe. As the AP reports (via the Times):
New York Sen. Charles Schumer said Rove ''took something that is virtually sacred to New Yorkers'' -- the tragedy of the Sept. 11 attacks -- ''and politicized it for political, opportunistic purposes.''
Dude, you just made a statement of fact, not a counterargument. When a political thug accuses you of coddling terrorists and, essentially, not respecting the loss of life at the World Trade Center, a sniffle mixed with a whiff of muted indignation doesn't do the trick. Instead, you end up looking like the sensitive, mealymouthed caricature that was part of the initial slander. You make yourselves a pack of weak sisters.

The Congressional Democrats are getting ripped to shreds by a great white shark. When a shark tears off your leg and eats a bunch of swimmers, you don't appeal to its sense of decency. You haul out Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and a crazy ship captain, and take the fight to the shark.

But Dick Durbin is scared to stand up to torture because it angers neo-McCarthyites. And the Senate caucus presents Karl Rove with a revised edition of Everything I Need to Know I Learned In Kindergartenand 90 pursed lips. And the rhetorical excess on the right snowballs, building from McCarthyism to fascism. And the Democrats break out in twitters and hives when Sean Hannity says something mean about them. And no one in public life has the courage to speak against this. Not even future senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

At least there's Yeats, and, on a really bad day like today, Barry McGuire.

Thursday miscellany

  • On, Emily Bazelon has an essay about liberal affection for William Rehnquist. I think it's hard for non-lawyers to fully appreciate how attached practitioners become to certain justices and judges, even if you disagree with them. The press covers judicial nominations the way they cover the rest of Congress but based on my experience, the legal profession doesn't think of it that way. I'll be pretty sad when Rehnquist steps down.
  • Pistons play Game 7 tonight. I'll be at a concert and maybe a poetry reading, so to compensate, I'm silently rooting at my desk at this very moment. And, uh, Go Blue!
  • One of my favorite bands, The New Pornographers, is not only going to play at generally annoying Webster Hall in October, but now A.C. Newman is comparing his group to the dreaded and unlistenable Fiery Furnaces. Brian the Pinup surely is displeased. I'm looking forward to the Saturday night show at Prospect Park even if Neko can't make it.
  • Would Joe Biden be a good president? I've been thinking about it since his interview on Charlie Rose a couple nights ago. When he talks about Iraq, I feel like he's the only person in government who understands what's going on and has a prescriptive vision for American policy. On the other hand, he voted for bankruptcy reform, and I think his instincts on domestic policy suck.
  • Like a mute Damien in The Omen III, Evil Girl waits and lurks. If I were Jerry McGuire, I'd be screaming into the phone, "Show me the evil!"
  • Interspecies seduction yields high comedy.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Michiganders in exile

Those who have left the state of Michigan (and the west side, no less) should check out the recent posts of Chris Kula, whose recent trip home took him to the Woodland Mall food court and prompted some reflections on Bob Seger. He also thinks that Mitch Albom should write ad copy for a douche company.

I hope someone brought his contacts

So Dick Durbin has apologized for telling the truth about Guantanamo Bay. He dared speak out about the immorality of denying basic human rights to fellow human beings, and he got slapped around by Republicans and a compliant media.

I think Piggy's glasses just got broken.

Crimenotes adds: Thanks to Flop for picking up on this one and keeping it straightforward. I was going to post on the matter, and it was going to be an all-out, over-the-top call to man the barricades. Durbin was a victim of McCarthyism, plain and simple, and he folded under pressure. This is a shameful moment that should haunt him for the rest of the career. By acquiescing to the worst kind of propaganda, he's established a presumption that anyone in Congress who speaks up against torture and thuggery is anti-American. This post musters up the proper outrage, but fails to point out the damage that Durbin has done to his institution and to dissenting voices. On a lesser note, Durbin pulled out the rug from under a lot of his supporters. The gratification of hearing someone call the torturers to the table has not only been negated -- the very principle behind his remarks is now undermined. And it's this kind of shit that makes me think that the Democratic Party is doomed, and not worthy of anyone's support.

Jump to conclusions

I was looking across the vast expanse of the office in which I ply my non-blogging trade recently, and was struck with one of those sudden fits of familiarity. Not deja vu, but the thing when your subconscious alerts you that you've just seen something noteworthy. A double-take confirmed it. One of my co-workers is a dead ringer for Tom Smykowski, the character in Office Space who gets a settlement from an auto accident and uses his windfall to realize his dream of inventing a game called "Jump to Conclusions" in which players jump onto a mat labeled "conclusions."

Anyway, dude was a dead ringer.

On a related note, we're in development talks for Cole Slaw Blog: Vice City. It should be available for the XBox and PS2 this fall. I can't give too much away, but think of it as SimCity meets Grand Theft Auto. But with blogging.

I'm a genius

No, seriously. According to the Sunday crossword "3-D word hunt" in the most recent NYT magazine. It's a long story, but I found 40* five-letter words in a three-dimensional grid of nine letters layered on nine more. You have to see the actual puzzle itself to know what I'm talking about. But 40 words is "genuis-level." A truly terrifying prospect, for those of you who know me. Even worse, if I'm such a genius, how come I leave my cell phone unplugged? Or miss my subway stop (as I did yesterday)? Huh? Why am I still at my crappy job? Oh, Will Shortz, if only you knew what it's like to be me ...a genius (you said so yourself!) with the puzzles, yet a drooling moron when it comes to everyday life.

* More if I could count "choad," "poper" or "stets" among my haul.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Made from the best stuff on Earth

To Flop's sadness, Snapple has yet to devise a gooseberry-jicama tea. But they just did something almost as good -- caused fruit juice mayhem to spill all over Union Square. (The debacle is well documented by the authoritative New York site, Gothamist.) It was a marketing effort gone haywire, and I can only hope that candidates from The Apprentice were responsible. If so, they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law; if not, this was pretty funny.

More photos here. This picture conveys the enormity of the doomed popsicle.

Addendum from Flop:
Just wanted to point out this chirpy press release. It, uh, leaves out a few key details.

Monday, June 20, 2005

You know what's great? Gooseberries.

Every time I walk past a TV tuned to the Larry King show, I always have to stop and stare. I'm transfixed and I don't know why. I know he's a huge name, and he's usually interviewing someone who's a major "get." I also heard he had a legendary column in USA Today, in which he just wrote down stuff that just appeared in his head. Wow. I'd sure like to get paid for that, because if there's one thing I can do well, it's run my fool mouth about useless, useless shit.

For example. I just got some gooseberries from FreshDirect. (Yes, we have FreshDirect in Queens.) You know what gooseberries are? All kinds of tart. I think these things would make great jelly or preserves, but right now, they're all about the tart. And they look funny, too. They've got the little remnants of the flower on one end and a tiny stem at the other, making them look like miniature punchballs of tart. You remember those, right? (I know HRHQ2K5 does.) Anyway, just taking the gooseberries out of my fridge made me think of all that you've just read.

In an effort to become the nation's next super interviewer, and to marry six times or whatever, here are some random thoughts ... to expand upon the gooseberries theme.

Good seats.
Am I the only one who loves that little spot on the R-train cars? You know, the one where you can sit facing forward or backward, but you can put your knee up on the side of the seats in front of you? As much as I like those, I think I dislike sitting sidesaddle (as you have to on basically every other line now). Especially on the older E-trains, where if you cross your ankle over your knee while you're reading, you run the risk of toppling over when the driver hits the brakes. Where's Steve Dunne and his Supertrain when you need him? ... You'd think the ESPN producers get Cole Slaw Blog on their blackberries. They just put up a graphic for longest World Series droughts. The only way it gets worse than being an Indians fan is if you're a Cubs or White Sox fan. Of course, they might have had something to take their minds off the pain recently. Or maybe this guy. ... I'm not hungry now, but I know I'm going to be soon. I wonder what I should have? I've got some egg salad. You know what else is great? Egg salad and bacon on white bread. Lunch of champions. ... I realized the other day that my friend's dog from when we were in high school was just like Millhouse on The Simpsons. Don't ask me how a dog is like a cartoon character. Just trust me on this one. ... I'm thinking of switching jobs. But I can't decide if I should do something that feels responsible, like moving and taking a promotion or do something random, like moving to another country for a while. ... Two-run homer, Travis Hafner. Do I think this is anything more than a tease? No. Can I look away? No. Am I going to live-blog a baseball game? Definitely not. I'll let you know what happens though. ... Man, these gooseberries sure are tart. ... If my co-blogger were to make a straight-kinda gay-definitely gay chart, like the one the Stylin Section did, I'm pretty sure he'd put bathroom hand towels in the "kinda gay" section. Maybe it'd be "Hand drying apparatus: Straight: Jeans. Kinda Gay: Hand towels. Definitely Gay: Cabana boy removes thong, hands it to you." ... Victor Martinez just homered off Keith Foulke. It's 9-8 now in the eighth. Why can't I just believe? ... I really need to purchase the Arrested Development DVDs. That's such a great show. The more I think about The Comeback, the more I think it's going to disappoint. I'm saving Sunday's episode, which will probably be make-or-break for me. Also, please nobody ruin Entourage for me. ... A friend went to a wedding in California this weekend. She said it was a little cold. You know that means it was perfect, if you're a guy. Cute girls always are cold. They need heat rocks, like Jub-Jub or something. ... Jhonny Peralta just doubled to make it 10-9. Yes, the Indians gave up a leadoff homer in the top of the 9th. Of course they did. Grady Sizemore just lined out to right. Yes, lined out to right field. Down to their last out, it's all up to Coco Crisp. ... And he flies out to center. 10-9 loss. ... Fuckin' gooseberries.

It really never stops

I've known for most of my life that to be a Cleveland fan is to know heartbreak. Our disasters are well known. The Drive. The Fumble. Jose Mesa.

But it's worse than that. I can't even turn on a game or think about Cleveland teams without having to think about all of this the second something bad happens. Case in point, just moments ago, it occurred to me that the Indians, winners of nine in a row, would probably be on TV right now, because they're playing the Red Sox. Sure enough, I put on the Deuce, and we were live from the Jake. Cleveland up 1-0 in the fourth.

Of course, before I could even get up and fetch a beverage Manny Ramirez hit a three-run homer. Yes, the same Manny Ramirez who was signed by the Indians and who made a career for himself mashing in the same lineup as Jim Thome, Los Hermanos Alomar and others. A few minutes later, as I began typing, ESPN shows a much younger Manny homering at the Jake in a Tribe uniform. Of course they did.

I'm sure there are sports fans from other cities who could handle watching a rough moment or two from one of their sports teams without thinking about all this, but I promise, none of them support Cleveland teams.

The one-eyed man is king

Reflecting a complete lack of self-awareness, an article in the Times's Business Section has the gall to question whether The Wall Street Journal will dilute its brand by offering a new Saturday lifestyle section. Here's the key sentence:
The Journal is betting that it can fluff up its editorial mix, capture the attention of its well-heeled readers and their families and attract consumer advertisers - all without cannibalizing its weekday editions and, more important, without diluting one of the most recognized and sharply defined franchises in all of journalism.
Say what?

This concern about editorial identity comes from the same New York Times that recently ran an article about men jerking each other off in locker rooms. At least 15-20% of Cole Slaw Blog's purpose is to argue that the Times is ruining itself by appealing to its readers' basest instincts, and twice a week we back up that theory with a battery of evidence. But apparently the Business Section (which I think is quite good) is unfamiliar with the other parts of the paper.

Here's another near-perfect quote:
"What I wonder is if the decision to pursue the Saturday edition isn't a tacit acknowledgement that their core franchise is challenged, that the base business is less attractive than it used to be," said Peter Appert, a media analyst at Goldman Sachs (where the client roster includes both Dow Jones and The New York Times Company).
Pete, you could knock me over with a feather.

Kind of like what would happen if a once-renowned authority on national and international news began to channel the editorial spirits of Sassy, Maxim, US Weekly, People, The Advocate, The National Enquirer, High Times and The Robb Report. Or, you know, something like that.

*Huge thanks to blog pinup Brian for bringing this to my attention, and to the Queen of 2005 ("Q2K5") who read this article and thought, "Cole Slaw Blog."

A matter of principle

I was perusing the Vows section of The New York Times yesterday, basically checking to see if any working-class people get married (not as far as the Times can tell, it would seem) and a thought occurred to me: Does the Stylin' section actually confirm the Saturday weddings it prints? Having a rudimentary knowledge of how a newspaper works, it seemed to me that this section would go to press at the very latest on Saturday afternoon, if not sooner. Having staffers at the weddings, ready to dictate a breaking lede struck me as unlikely.

But there below the high cheekbones and toothy grins there's a disclaimer: "These reports are based on information from the couples or their families, as verified by the Styles staff. This section went to press on Friday and the families were asked to notify the Times ... if any last-minute change required a correction in Section 1."

If the section goes to print on Friday, but someone gets left at the altar on Satuday, what does the Times do, go back into the section and reprint it? Would there be time? Call me crazy, but I can't imagine there's a lot of wiggle room in the press run on a Saturday afternoon or evening. And I can't imagine someone telling the international editor "No, you can't chase this edition to update that story on the earthquake in New Guinea, a bride ran out on a wedding in Darien and we've got to replate Sunday Styles."

But maybe I'm missing the forest for the trees here. Assuming that it'd be technically possible to keep from inaccurately printing that a couple wed, why go the trouble?

Wouldn't it just be wiser and easier to print that a couple was to have been married the previous day? Seems to me it'd prevent a Mitch Albom situation from occurring in case the first thing on the mind of an abandoned bride or groom isn't to call the Times and yell "Stop the Presses!"

Of course, maybe the reason to print the nuptials as a fait accompli, even on Friday night is that it looks better. Having to write that Gregory and Alexandra "were to have been married" is a whole lot more awkward than writing that they were, even if it's less accurate. In other words: Stylin' over substance.

I should be pissed off by this fundamental, but ultimately minor, breach of journalistic integrity. But honestly, I'm not even surprised.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Sunday Stylin': The David Colman edition

In this week's desperately pathetic attempt to fills space and build advertising revenue, the Styles Section gives us two articles by David Colman. After Thursday's fiasco, I'm happy to see the Styles Section return to its specialty: the recklessly shallow. Or, to try out a little pretentious metaphor, Styles-style, Sunday Styles increasingly seems like Daisy Buchanan, while Thursday Styles is Benjy Compson.

Gay or Straight? Hard to Tell. This article is sort of offensive, if you're predisposed to getting pissed off at generalizations levied toward large groups of people. The premise is that gay dudes used to dress nice, but now they don't dress as nice, whereas more straight dudes are dressing better. Uh-huh. David Colman writes:
Well, how about that guy you see in the locker room, changing out of his Prada lace-ups, Hugo Boss flat-front pants and Paul Smith dress shirt and cuff links into a muscle T-shirt and Adidas soccer shorts. Does he wear that wedding ring because he was married in New York - or in Massachusetts?
This shit is meant to be cute, but it gets obnoxious pretty quickly. The article lists behavioral and sartorial attributes that used to trigger people's "gaydar," and observes that gay dudes and straight dudes increasingly resist easy stereotyping. This might be interesting/enlightening if handled well, but David Colman uses the article to make the alleged phenomenon sound like a Frasier plot. Obviously, Colman cares more about wordplay and enforcing stereotypes than writing an informative article. I'd muster more indignation if I gave a shit.

Anyway, as of about 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, this is the second-most e-mailed article on the Times website, which probably means that there will be plenty more articles like this.

Just Step on the Gas and Say Om. This is David Colman's other contribution to American journalism, and it's about a Belgian guy who likes to mow his lawn. We learn late in the article that the Belgian guy is "one of fashion's most cerebral designers" (I should have guessed) and, predictably, Colman overwrites the shit out of a mundane subject. This salvages nothing. Key example:
For Mr. van Noten mowing is a kind of meditation, complete with its own lotus position (seated upright, hands on wheel), New Age soundtrack (the infernal racket that drowns out all other noise) and aromatherapy (the smell of new-mown grass mixed with trace notes of motor oil and engine exhaust). "It's not artistic," he noted. "You don't have to think about what you're doing very much."
Translation: a Belgian guy is calm while he mows his lawn.

Ball in Flight and Other Jock Art. Judging from the headline and the recent behavior of the Styles Section writers, you might expect this to be an article about kinetic testicles and the trendy straps that support them. Good guess, but wrong.

Warren St. John writes about how more artists are influenced by sports. I like a few sports, and I like a little art, but nothing in the article catches my interest, and it actually makes me a little concerned, because sports don't need to be overintellectualized any more than they already are. The Navarre era and Michigan's kicking game are bad enough without being memorialized in a fresco.

Special thanks to St. John for again writing a Styles Section article that doesn't piss me off.

Who's That Lady in the Bedroom, Daddy? The woes of a divorced man who must explain his new conquests to the children. Cringe-inducing for a dad? Perhaps. But not as uncomfortable as it will be when the kids read this paragraph a few years from now:
My bed is a vast California king made of Swedish memory foam developed by NASA. Both my son and daughter were conceived on this space-age polymer, and their first pushes from the womb took place here before the urgency of the situation hurried us to the hospital.
The "vast California king" and "Swedish memory foam" make the whole thing sound dirty and pretentious at the same time -- just the way the Styles Section likes it. Sizzle sizzle, ladies ... sizzle, sizzle.

Sherif May Like It. A bar named Kush used to be on Orchard Street, and is now on Chrystie Street. If I'm not mistaken, Kush was a bar you could go to smoke after the cigarette ban went into effect; based on the article, it's now an extremely lame lounge.

This article is theoretically about Kush. Mostly, it's undisciplined rambling by an undisciplined writer, who may have just finished reading Naked Lunch and smoking opium before he wrote this article. How else to explain the following? "Outside, on the improbable boulevard of trees that is Chrystie Street, more like a street in Tangier than on the Lower East Side, a cavalcade of off-duty police officers went by on motorcycles."

I walk down Chrystie Street at least twice every weekday. It has no resemblence to Tangier, fuckhead.

Then comes this gem: "If you visit Kush's casbah, try Mr. Harriott's martini, a cold glass of milky tea with chai spices and vanilla vodka in it. It's a kind of plate-of-cookies cocktail that might have a hash brownie in mind."

I have no objection to hash brownies, or even to giving them out as Father's Day presents. I do have an objection to a showy reference to hash brownies in The New York Times, a publication that has enough content problems without a Styles Section nerd trying to make himself sound like a pothead. The Times mentioning hash brownies is about as credible as your elderly great aunt asking you about the new 50 Cent album. Stop it, assholes.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

More flan

Fans of the show Seinfeld remember an episode in which the super-shallow Jerry had to learn to show emotions because a girlfriend (played by Lori Laughlin) is puzzled by the indifference with which he greeted everything that didn't directly affect him, as well as most things that did. In one memorable scene, she tries to get him to be angry, only he can't manage it at first. Eventually, though, he gets tired of her bullshit, and when she tries to get him to return to a restaurant he dislikes, he snaps, declaring: "Well, I don't think more flan is the answer!"

Following up on my earlier post, this is what more Americans need. They need to finally be fed up with the way the Bush administration is trying to metaphorically take them to La Caridad again with more lies about the meaning of "fixed" in Britain, and similar plausible-deniability gambits. And yes, I know I'm coming dangerously close to mixing a metaphor.

It could be worse!

I've been saying for years that the American prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is a disgrace. Originally, my intemperate e-mails were met with indifference or quiet acknowledgement from my friends, who I suspect were embarrased for me. It wasn't that they didn't agree, it was just that I worked myself up into such high dudgeon that there was no way to follow up on my bile.

Even my Republican friends acknowledged that it was not exactly in keeping with American ideals (or the Constitution) to imprison people without due process. Of course, they're bad Republicans. Because if they were good Republicans, they'd have defended the practice because, hey, we're not committing genocide or anything! We're not the worst!

At least, that's been the line Republicans have bandied about lately. Which, in and of itself is pretty low. But check out this to see just how low we can go when attempting to justify this unquestionably immoral policy. Normally I don't like just saying "check this out" about something on another blog. But in this case, I'll make an exception. Especially because the alternative is an overlong rant about how far too many of our fellow Americans can't be bothered to be ashamed of our country's policies of torture and indefinite imprisonment.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Sick-day diary

I'm out of commission due to what feels like a really bad cold, but, in light of recent weather, may actually be malaria/yellow fever. This is my second sick day ever, and it sucks. (Also, if you're reading this and I had weekend plans with you, they're canceled.)

To ease the pain, I'm going to update this post throughout the day with a little bitching about TV shows.
  • 6 a.m.-7 a.m.: Wake up early for illness-related reasons. Can't get back to sleep. Watch Mama's Family on TBS. Mama's Family doesn't seem as funny as it did when I was a kid. Some plotline involves kinky sex between Ken Berry and Dorothy Lyman, the former dressed like a bull and the latter like a matador. Yuck.
  • 7 a.m.-7:05 p.m.: I haven't watched the Today show since high school. Back then, the first half-hour was hard news, followed by silly features, which is acceptable. Today, their fucking lead story was the Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes engagement! What the fuck? And then there was all of this shit about earthquakes in California and how a few goods fell off grocery shelves, but no one was injured, and then they yellowed up the story by asking whether the "Big One" was next. All in five minutes. Fuck that show. It made the Styles sections look like The Economist. I guess that the key difference is we all can afford to lose the Today show, but not the Times.
  • 9:30 a.m.-10:00 a.m.: Jerry Springer's program on "Air America" is lousy. He has a voice made for print, and nothing original to say. That's what you deserve, "Air America," for moving Rachel Maddow to 5 a.m. and underutilizing Chuck D. (More on this in a future post.)
  • 10 a.m.-11:00 a.m.: Man, that show Dawson's Creek was a piece of work. I didn't know Katie Holmes was on it -- I always thought Wonder Boys was her big break, but I guess not. She was quite the pretty lady before she became corrupted by that lunatic Tom Cruise. (His behavior is killing my interest in War of the Worlds.) Now, back to Dawson's Creek: This show's lighting, music, editing, and dialogue appear to be heavily influenced by tampon commercials. Tampon commercials begat Dawson's Creek the way that The Aeneid begat The Divine Comedy. Now for the Aeneid/Dawson's hook: there is a lot of Dido music on the Dawson's Creek episode I'm watching. Later, the naked guy from The Dreamers makes a cameo appearance, and the lead character, Patrick Fartleby, watches The Last Picture Show, which is an excellent movie indeed. A doughfaced character named Pacey has been Frenching Katie Holmes, which upsets Fartleby. Suck it up, Pat.
  • 11 a.m-11:30 a.m.: Bob Barker is timeless.
  • 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.: Nap.
  • 1:30 p.m.-2:45 p.m.: Cancel plans with a friend I haven't seen in a year. Buy and consume Alka Seltzer. I hate taking medicine, but Alka Seltzer helps.
  • Ever think about how, for a pretty obscure name, Rosemary is used in a lot of songs? There's that Interpol song; "Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes"; "Scarborough Fair." I'm leaving out others. Please contribute in the comments.
  • 5:30-7 p.m.: Nap.
  • Finally finished reading Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States.
  • Watched Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban on Tivo, and it was tremendous. Never read the books but the movies make me happy.
  • As of 8:45 p.m., I'm feeling much better, though I won't be heading out tonight (or doing any boozing tomorrow night, either). Hopefully I can salvage part of the weekend, as well as spend a little time in the office to catch up on what I missed today. Thanks for reading and for the e-mails and comments. They eased by grouchiness.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Thursday Stylin': Don't let all that cocaine mar your hairstyling integrity

In this week's desperately pathetic attempt to fill space and build ad revenue, The New York Times completely implodes. It has never been worse. If you want pearl-laden hair cream slapped on your face, your body covered with chocolate, your rugby players homoerotic, and your masturbation acts to happen in a locker room, the Times is the paper for you. Read to the end for an ass-whupping jeremiad, profane Cotton Mather style.

Rise. Fall. Rinse. Repeat. A former coke addict, who once smeared pearl-infested haircream onto the faces of unwilling models, is back and better than ever. That's Oribe Canales for you. In case you've been living under a haircare-neglected rock, Mr. Canales is the Arnold Schwarzenegger of hair care. He once ran a Fifth Avenue salon -- "a gilded $3 million shrine to glamour modeled after a Venetian palazzo." (An aside: glamour? Is the Times catering to British readers?) Mr. Canales is described thusly: "You would have to go the whole length of the place past the chandeliers and the sweeping drapes, and there at the end of it all was this attractive biker-looking person in black leather and jewelry with studs."

But he couldn't handle the pressure in New York, so he became a cokehead and a drunk. He was yet to hit rock bottom:
"I was in a terrible period of my career," Oribe said. Marc Jacobs "would say, 'Just throw this barrette in the model's hair and let it hang,' " he recalled. A devotee of the glossy, fastidiously maintained Rita Hayworth manes of the late 1940's and 50's, Oribe was shocked."A barrette is supposed to pull back the hair and show the face," he said. He was equally stunned when during a shoot for Calvin Klein someone noticed a pimple on the model. " 'It's genius, let's leave it,' someone said," Oribe remembered with a roll of his eyes.
Yeah, life sucks. When the grunge era ascended, Mr. Oribe futilely raged against the dying of the light. Dethroned at the hair salon, he opened a barbershop in Miami. Then, J. Lo helped revitalize his career, as he gave her the image of a "glamorous plutocrat." Now he's glad to be away from New York, because people here are disloyal.

Going to the Therapist En Route to the Altar. A New Hampshire teacher went through second thoughts about marrying his girlfriend, and as punishment, the girlfriend made him promise to forego his "frat-boy activities." Also, she forced him to enter couple's therapy. Clearly, this is the North Korea of relationships, with the New Hampshire girlfriend cast as Kim Jong Il. She sucks.

But not to the Styles section. This is just another cutesy, cutesy anecdote at the start of another cutesy, cutesy story! Emasculated guys are going to "couple's therapy" with their girlfriends! Aw, cuuuuuuute!

Any girl who'd want to date me needs a little therapy of her own, but I'd never force her into it. Seems to me like unmarried couples who need joint therapy are either doomed or insane. This would be a massive, Time Square-style neon sign to run away as fast as possible.

Lastly, the article is of primary interest to the rich/frivolous and the very, very, very neurotic.

Your Cake and Slather It on, Too. People cover themselves in chocolate for skin-care purposes. Joanne Chen may yet be the next Alex Kuczynski. She likes hyperbole: "Chocolate boutiques have cropped up, Starbucks-like, on every corner." Dude -- not in my allegedly hip neighborhood. The Times factcheckers are failures.

Ladies, what I'm saying is, if you want to date me, I'll eat your chocolate-based makeup straight out of the bottle, then refuse to enter therapy.

Has anyone seen the great Talking Heads movie True Stories? It's one of my favorites. In it, there is an anti-commercial commercial for the song "Love For Sale," in which humans are dipped in chocolate. David Byrne, 20 years ahead of the curve. True Stories doesn't have anything else to do with this article, but it's a lot more enjoybale than the Styles section.

A Scrum of Stripes Refined for the Street. Most. Homoerotic. Article. Yet. In a piece about rugby's influence on pop culture, David Colman uses the following words in a single paragraph: "sex," "sex symbols flaunting tan good looks," "six-pack abs," "boyish fly half," "hero," "bare-chested," and "being really fruity." There's also a bunch of stuff about pictures of naked rugby players.

I don't know how Bill Keller lives with himself, knowing that bullshit like this is in his publication.

Everything You Need but the Sunshine. After last week's all-out descent into madness, Alex Kuczynski is back to her norm: ordinary-grade USDA-approved insanity. Of course, the first paragraph is all about herself. She hits some golf balls, then bloviates about golf's "psycho-sociological" role in American life. The first five paragraphs are all about Alex. Then she goes shopping for golf clubs. I doubt anyone looking to buy golf clubs gives a shit about what Alex thinks, just as I doubt that anyone shopping for Etros shirts gives a shit what Phil Mickelson thinks.

Locker Room Trysts Bedevil Health Clubs. I've saved the worst for last. No way to be delicate: it's an article about dudes jerking each other off in health club locker rooms.

QUESTION: What in the sam fuck is the New York Times doing???

Motherfuck and goddamn! There's the obvious issue of good taste. Second, the article acknowledges that there's no news hook here. It says that this is nothing new, and there's no way of knowing whether such behavior is more prevalent now than in the past. Apparently, it was just time for an article about dudes jerking each other off in locker rooms. Up next: celebrity assfuckings in the alleys of the Meatpacking District, and oral sex tips from tranny hookers in the West 30s.

Understatement alert: "To some members, such behavior is offensive and detracts from their enjoyment of the gym."

Gee, do ya think? You mean, some delicate motherfuckers find that it "detracts from their enjoyment of the gym" when dudes are jerking each other off in public? Are you fucking kidding? You mean, the way some people think that their cases of mad cow disease detract from their enjoyment of a quarter pounder? If I ever walked in on shit like that, I'd be drafting the motherfucking class action complaint against New York Sports Club.

Unbelievably, this article ends with a quote from a puppet. Really. It really, really does. The Times quotes a puppet on the subject of locker room masturbation: "Oh, yes, these steam rooms are wonderful," his puppet Oglesby boasted in a Manhattan bar a few months ago. "I even hear they have a workout room upstairs."

I should be hesitant, throwing around the name Neil Sheehan and mentioning the Pentagon Papers. I've done it before. I'll do it again. There was a time, years before I was born, when the Times performed some of the most important work of any institution in America. It is now a screaming fiasco that quotes puppets on the subject of men jerking off in locker rooms. If I hadn't already done it two years ago, this would be the night that I canceled my subscription.

A theory on Stephanie Rosenbloom's "blogs"

Times Styles section writer Stephanie Rosenbloom has gotten a little tough love from Cole Slaw Blog, so naturally, we were interested when she announced in the Times that she would be starting a blog of her own. Blog megasites TypePad and Blogger each have sites featuring Stephanie Rosenbloom, respectively available here and here. They were created with a little lead time ahead of Stephanie's article in the Times, prompting me to think that they were created by the one and only.

Yet both blogs remain content-free and under construction.

My theory? Steph isn't going to post. She created these sites to avoid becoming the next AdNags.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Sites to read when you should be working

The heat of the past couple weeks diluted my interest in life, but other bloggers have been more inspired. Looking to procrastinate at work? Here are some suggestions.
  • One of my college friends is dipping a toe into the blogospheric waters off of Zug Island. He's taking Phyllis Schlafly and the Eagle Forum to task. Check out his post on the organization's Hitlerian terminology and another on a recent list of "harmful books."
  • Chris Kula's name has surfaced in some other sites that I read. After a little googling as to why his name sounded so goddamn familiar, it seems possible that the Cole Slaw Bloggers indirectly supplied him with beers when he was underage and we were upperclassmen. He recently posted a very funny photoessay on Coney Island.
  • Spinachdip has had a series of terrific posts about his travels to Japan: they're funny, generous, and observant.
  • Met this dude recently via occasional Cole Slaw Blog commentor Evil One. He had some amazing stories about what's happening in Iraq. I just ordered his book off of Amazon. Buy it here.
  • Slacktivist is one of the most interesting blogs around. It includes ongoing, line-by-line critiques of the Left Behind series and other critical dispatches about the dark religiosity of the alleged culture wars. Consistently smart and provocative stuff on subjects that are pretty foreign to me.
  • Last, but certainly not least, ABB posted a thoughtful, very original analysis about the parallels between that missing tourist in Aruba and the Senate lynching apology. She also describes the origins of her sharklike nature. ABB is the best.

Why HBO's comedies need more assholes

For a few brief weeks in 1999, Fox aired TV's greatest dark comedy. Action was a tough, cynical, raunchy show about an action-adventure movie producer named Peter Dragon. Peter Dragon was an amoral asshole: completely cynical, vulgar, and funny as hell. He picked up a prostitute (played by the fantastic Ileana Douglas) and made her vice-president of his production company. The lead actor of his new movie was a young Hollywood dreamboat struggling with drug addiction, and when a hot female starlet gained weight, Dragon forced her into liposuction. The show was brutal but very funny. These characters were unsparingly harsh, but because they were smart and witty, they weren't unlikeable. They acknowledged their amorality in a Darwinian business, and did their best to out-asshole the other assholes.

Action was short lived, but its episodes frequently air on Comedy Central. I love you, Tivo.

Robert Altman's 1992 movie The Player is one of my favorite movies. I've probably seen it 20 times. Tim Robbins's character Griffin Dunne greenlights proposed studio projects. After he begins to receive threatening postcards, he stalks a writer that he previously spurned, and ends up murdering him in an alley outside of a karaoke bar. Griffin Dunne is a smoothe, cynical son of a bitch, but like Action, The Player places him in a dog-eat-dog world. Dunne is a bad guy, but so is everyone around him. The one pure character, Bonnie, suffers for her trust. Griffin schemes his way through a murder investigation and office politics, and there's a sense that Griffin would prefer prison over losing face to his rival Larry Levy.

There is a reason why The Player and Action work so well. People in the motion picture industry are not relatable. Both make the film industry look glamorous and miserable at the same time. Shit, you don't have to be Joe Lieberman to look down on the kind of people who endorse Lords of Dogtown as a business proposition.

This is, I think, the fatal problem in HBO's two comedies, Entourage and The Comeback. They romanticize the movie business the way Fox News romanticizes private Social Security accounts. Entourage clearly wants to seduce you with its fantasy vision of young dudes with limitless resources. The problem is, I don't end up liking these characters so much as I resent them. This show would like to be Sex and The City for fellas; it's more like a Cribs episode. Plus, the four main characters are not interesting. Eric is the only one who's sympathetic, but I always end up wondering why he puts up with Vince. Turtle is an obnoxious mess; Johnny Drama has some funny moments but his narcissism is more uncomfortable and painful than funny. Vince, the up-and-coming actor heading up the eponymous entourage, hasn't had an interesting moment in the history of the series. He mostly seems vacuous and listless.

Jeremy Piven's character Ari, however, comes straight out of the Action tradition. He makes the show worth watching. Two minutes of Ari are more interesting and entertaining than the show's primary focus on a quartet of flatscreen-TV-buying halfwits. A show about Ari would be like Curb Your Enthusiasm, but more acidic.

After two episodes, The Comeback feels like an exercise in sadism. Lisa Kudrow's character ambles from one humiliating situation to another; she's like an overeager, insecure high schooler who badly wants to be part of the in-crowd but always ends up embarrassed. I've seen fewer than 10 episodes of Friends, but I've always liked Lisa Kudrow. Her character is a little dim but ultimately sympathetic. Viewing her travails is more painful than it is funny. The purpose of the show so far seems to be making her look like a fool. Once you understand that, every gag is visible five steps in advance.

Add to these two shows the regrettable Unscripted, which, like Entourage, functioned under the misconception that the headaches of attractive, young actors are interesting.

There is an obvious explanation as to why Action and The Player are great and why the HBO shows fail. The HBO comedies suffer from asshole deficits. In an amoral industry, you better make the amorality entertaining. Action and The Player let you into the heads of smooth operators: you root for them and strategize alongside them. In Entourage, the entertainment industry is either boring or envy-inducing; in The Comeback, it's just sad. Neither show is interesting. Both need Al fuckin' Swearingen to step in and whup some cocksuckers.