Monday, November 29, 2004

Soul Of An Artest

We have been offline for a while, taking in the savage beast that is Detroit, home of Ultraviolence and Garage Rock. It is also the home of sooooper-slow innernet. We confine our "surfing" to the LAN at work, or the mercies of Roadrunner from Time Warner. So when we actually confront internet that matches the ludicrous scenes from adverts for DSL, we tend to throw up our hands and go for a bracing walk instead.

We did spent a listless Saturday in the confines of the Somerset Collection, cruising around the posh north end in preference to the crowded but more richly beshopped south end. We'll confess that after the mauling we suffered at the hands of Harbour City in Hong Kong, we have somewhat cooled on the Mecha-Mall. And we are no closer to relatives gift-nirvana, aside from a self-purchased Pistons T-Shirt, bought largely to scare the overly refined Knicks fans that infest the Apple.

But we digress. The main point of this little post (interrupted for a couple of hours while we entertain an excitable Chilean road-builder on the phone) is to point out how close to the Detroit rock aristocracy we are. Very proud were Gringcorp and cute companion when we stumbled upon a massive White Stripes Thanksgiving show last year at the Masonic Temple Theater. After browsing through Mojam, which is very patchy, and Detroit Citysearch, which is fuller, but very badly organised, we hit upon The Kills, a band we have enjoyed from time to time, including at Southpaw.

We played pool to the sounds of The All Night Push, who had a very polite keyboardist who wore a suit and looked like a slightly better-fed Johnny Depp. We liked them alot - the singer is one of nature's crooners, and they probably like the Kinks. Blanche, which followed, seemed like a Detroit in-joke. Charismatic lead singer plays enthusiastic but not very compelling rockabillly/bluegrass. But they did bring out the scenesters, for who should materialise in the crowd at the Magic Stick, a bowling alley/pizza joint/pool hall/rock toilet, than Jack N' Meg themselves. Jack was less pale and better fed than normal, looking more like a young Ozzy Osbourne than he has any right to. But he didn't beat anyone down, even the fuzzy-haired kid in the lacrosse T-Shirt, who most probably whispered something very non-scene in his ear. No sign of Renee, though, who was probably elsewhere pimping that rancid corpse of a Briget Jones movie.

We also think we saw three members of the Dirtbombs playing pool in the corner, but we're fairly positive that you have less than any interest in that little factoid.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

USS Nooyawkseeday!

Yup, we are treating the greatest city on earth as a mere aircraft carrier right now, a bustling, amazing stopover between Hong Kong and Detroit. So much to say about Hong Kong, little of it that complimentary. We spent far too long being very efficiently, soullessly and relentlessly hustled to be any very charitable about that intoxicating, but irritating, bazaar. In a sense the lounge chanteuse crooning out Billy Joel's finest was the only person take us away from it all, so we just sat there with a San Miguel, rocking out to the bar tunes, and smiling and clapping. No suits to buy, no 100% electronics mark-ups, 500% attempted taxi mark-ups, no suit-pimps, just bliss. We smiled, clapped, and muched some strange crisp-like structures. Not even a tip-jar, though we might have obliged them if there had been.

We think that Hong Kong is content to sell itself as this soulless consumer paradise, if only because anything else might keep you out of the malls for too long. We encountered this when we tried to go anywhere more rural than the Peak, which, you will notice if you follow the link, is all aboout looking at the city. "Why do you want to go to Aberdeen [charming fishing port]. Nothing to do. Lamma Island [beautiful walks]? Impossible to reach." Except, we found out, far too late, every hour from the ferry terminal. A city with that little pride in its context, one with no intellectual or aesthetic hinterland, will never be a world city. Fun? Yeah, but then so's Atlantic City.

Which is why we're looking forward to Detroit, the home of our rather cute companion, this Thanksgiving. Even the suburbs have a backstory, even if it's not hugely edifying. We're unlikely to get as lucky as we did with the White Stripes last year. this year it is more likely to be The Kills, about whom we are moderately enthusiastic, at the Magic Stick, or maybe Badly Drawn Boy at St Andrews Hall. We'd dearly like to go see Fu Manchu at the State Theater, but think they may be dumped into the "too metal for crows" bin by cutesome companion.

We should also mention that we devoured Dead Air, the last from Ian Banks, on the plane. It was OK, as long as you haven't read Complicity, the book that explains why Gringcorp exists. Dead Air is Complicity with the names changed. Talented Scottish media type stumbles upon horrible violent gangster doings, aided by drink, drugs, and his own wayward libido. Some good indie references. Not the best way for his US publishers to drag Banks out of his Sci-Fi ghetto, we have to admit.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Did We Already Use The Dylan Line? Ya-Huh, We Think So.

Still, we can always rely on the song New York State Of Mind, which was used as a bit of light relief from the otherwise somewhat oppressive onslaught of Canto-Pop. Billy Joel, friend of frazzled homesick travellers everywhere. We think it is time to go home. Love that new spending bill, kids...

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Creesmas at Harbour City

Creesmas at Harbour City
Originally uploaded by Gringcorp.
It is just like the Slade foretold. We have learned that the lights are on on Fifth Avenue, which is really unforgiveable given that Thanksgiving still looms as a confusingly similar festival with effects on the turkey population to rival any so-called soltice.

In Hong Kong it is perfectly reasonable to put up the decorations early, if only to get 'em into the malls that much quicker. And Harbour City is the beast of them all. Bigger than the Somerset Collection, and busier than the Houston Galleria, all other malls should crawl off to the Ukraine and die in the face of Harbour City. We barely made it out alive.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

The Axis Of Hardcore

The links between Brixton, where Gringcorp was spawned, and Brooklyn, where Gringcorp may one day spawn, have been well established. Such luminaries as Freq Nasty have pointed out the links between the two. What we're talking about are vibrant, multi-ethnic communities separated from established global city centres by a bit of water. And a bit of a yuppie infestation problem.

We've only been plonked down here at the Marco Polo for half an hour. But the water, the lack of pretensions, the beckoning skyscrapers.... Kowloon is the new Brooklyn.

Pictures from the roof, we suspect, are sub rock pig. Sorry in advance. Maybe some Star Ferry instead

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Agga-New, New, New

But where did we get those excellent dry martinis that produced the photographic effects? Why, the lobby of the Fullerton Hotel, the biggest old boutique hotel we've ever been to. Featuring actual violinists playing from an alcove, just like in Coming To America, only real. It did have the fine cocktails, the high ceiings, and the gentle haze of tab smoke we always associate with a fancy joint. It was also full of check-shirted limey bankers sort of half looking to pick up local secretaries.

We have also been mighty amused by the Republicans' whole obedience to Tom DeLay thing. Standard Republican procedure was that it was bad for business if you were led by someone under felony indictment, so by and large you stepped down. But not in an age when felony indictments are apparently devious political manoeuvres, and stories of poor Texan businessmen being shaken down by The Hammer be damned. "We're not changing the rules because we like being led by a crook, or because we're all hopelessly in hock to his PAC. It's because we reeelly hate partisanship." Spiro T. Agnew must be weeping at the unfairness of it all.

Count Rockular

Originally uploaded by Gringcorp.
A lot of people ask us, "so, so-called Gringcorp, with your so-called jet-trash lifestyle and so-called cosmopolitan airs. Why are you such a rock pig?" And we reply, "because this is the view from our swimming pool, and we've had so many exquisite martinis we can't even shoot the pictchah properly."


Tuesday, November 16, 2004


The craziest rapper since Bushwick Bill is no more. As MSNBC reports, Ol' Dirty Bastard died yesterday at the tender age of 35. May we suggest you do a couple of googles of this gentleman's inspired lunacy, and then maybe play the Enter The Wu-Tang at top volume, paying attention to the "WU-TANG CLAN AIN'T NUTHIN' TA F*** WITH" and extended red-hot poker torture scene. Cos unless one of G-Unit wigs out spectacularly, and Flava Flav gets out of his panto phase, we may be short on hip hop dementia for a while.

Ringing The Changi

We pity you poor unfortunates, hovering by your "innernet" to get a fresh Gumby-zilla. Well, you almost got your wish 12 hour ago, when Gringcorp decided that we would test the envelope of the new economy by checking our internet from the queue for a taxi at Changi airport, here in good old Singapore. And don't say, why don't you just use a Blackberry? The whole point is to look foolish and uncomfortable cradling an entire laptop while shuffling through the queue-stilts.

So, what a convoluted way of establishing where we are and what incorrigible jet-trash we are, non? Do we have any first impressions? Well it really is that clean, and very spacious, at least the bits we have been driving through, and blessed with many mini-malls. The difference with chile is that there seems to be little point getting uptight over the brands and whatnot. This is the point about Singapore. the security, after the pleasantly docile gatemasters of Toronto, strikes me as vigorous on a par with New York, if a tad more stupid.

But the search for old colonial furniture and shopping will have to wait, I fear. It is now midnight, our body clock thinks we are in Kansas, or maybe Guam. Only massive quantities of cough syrup, or maybe noodles, can get us back on track. We are, after all, missing our normal pacifier horribly.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Elastic trickery

Yeah, take that Tereeza Heinz Kerry, you tot-poisoning harpy!. The Scunthorpe Telegraph, protector of the weak and cute, tells it like it is. A sharp-eyed mum prevents certain poisoning.

She said: "I always buy Heinz baby food when I go to Morrisons and I've bought that type loads of times because its McKenzie's favourite. I had put the contents of the tin in a bowl and into the microwave to warm it up and I thought at the time I could smell burning rubber.

So, she managed to narrow it down to tampering, or maybe the underground speedway next door.

And the Penny Dreadful slightly redeems itself with this effort, although it's still not hugely charitable.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Damned Liza

While we're feeling generous, can we maybe shed a tear for Liza Minelli? Judy Garland's daughter is now in the same zone as her friend Michael Jackson. To whit, a place where there is no act so outlandish that you cannot accuse them of it. As her impecunious former bodyguard has evidently recognised. Forced sex and battery? Yup. A new low after the allegations from top wearing-shades-inside-and-being-a-little-light-in-the-loafers-celebrity-husband David Gest. But still, can an addled, demented chanteuse get a break?

Hey Ho The Brain Is Dead

We're actually referring the the Penny Dreadful, here, which thinks that unrestrained gloating would be the best way to react to the death of Yasser Arafat. We don't have the time or the constitution to go into the details of Arafat's complicity in recent violence or the sincerity of his acceptance of the Israeli state.

But how retarded to you have to be to say "he won't be missed" to the most prominent Arab to accept Israel's existence? Do they have a line on a horde of progressive social democrats holed up at Ramallah waiting to be unleashed? Maybe Murdoch's minions think that it'll just take one more bout of wishful thinking to take us to the neoconservative utopia for which they yearn.

Still, what the hell, Yasser Arafat, the man Clive James once named man and woman of the year, rest in peace. You probably need it.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Wicked Child!

Damn, we were going to go back to concentrating on the day job, and then this ambitiously wrong-headed opus from George Monbiot in the Guardian comes winging over. George we have a sneaking admiration for, since he gets to live in Oxford, and he's one of the more coherent opponents of of the private finance initiative a truly bizarre way of buillding new government buildings that has never really been criticised properly, mostly because the alternative, raising taxes, can't be sold as easily.

But (quelle surprise) we digress. We were looking at George's above-linked article, which suggests that George W. Bush represents the rise of a new puritanism. It's a nice idea, given the heavy religious overtones, moralistic posturing and blinkered fundamentalism we see in elements of the current adminstration. But Puritans are well known for having a social conscience, so Monbiot, who, we must admit, is well-read, has to monkey with the timeline.

The link between the rise of protestanntism and capitalism has been made many times before, starting with Max Weber's Protestant Ethic, which says that protestantism, and particularly Calvinism, enabled its adherents to make money safe in the comfort of an accommodating religious ethic. RH Tawney, admiringly quoted by Monbiot, is also part of this school. The usual way of debunking this theory is by noting that Catholics, given the right circumstances, can also turn a bob or two.

Another criticism, and this is more problematic for Monbiot's theory, is that the high point of puritan religious feeling was probably reached during the 1580-1650 period. But it is only after this period that protestant capitalism really took off. Or, to put it another way, the Bostonians made a pretty good living, but the boys from new York and Philly made a bunch more money. If true, Monbiot's theory might be truly depressing - that there is a real cohesion been the money right and the religious right. But we don't think there is, and history suggests it's hard to keep together, whatever Tawney dug up.

Size Matters

I know it's not polite to call the president an eedjit, but everyone seems to sort of know it anyway. So when he strings together a sentence with the grammar more or less in place it isn't just snotty people like Gringcorp, who the British state spent thousand of pounds educating, who are pleasantly surprised. His people are as well. It's like Sam won back the Dakota-child all over again, or something. Ya know, us elitists got lucky that he slightly, although not emphatically, flipped his wig at the debates, but people still didn't think any the worse of him.

So, now we have people complaining strenuously that it's not fair to call three million more votes a landslide. True, in absolute terms. But we often think in relative terms, and relative to 2000 in Florida, Bush might as well be carried down Pennsylvania with flowers in his hair accompanied by war elephants, and hordes of breathless peasants. So, my dear Joshua and others (yes, we know, we promised to cut down on the leftist blogs), might I suggest less of the complaining that the conventional wisdom is horribly skewed? And maybe a bit more time working out how to turn the terms of political debate into a version of the Cabelvision anti-stadium ads. Do you favor reform of social security? Then you must hate old people. You senior-hating scum.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Let Us High Unto The Cardigan Shoppe

Yeees, we did just sound like our grandparents, there, didn't we? But we do think that a complete and utter misunderstanding of the other side is part of the "two nations" problem facing the US. Not that there should be any inference that the bombing of New York would be a positive. I seem to remember that people were very supportive of us just after 9-11, but the foreigners took umbrage at what they saw as the Republican adminstration using it as "political capital".

The second concerns why the heartland should remain so apparently resentful, afraid or just plain full of contempt for liberal northeasterners, when it was these "elites" that formed the first frontline in the war on terrorism. Ya know, the ones that did get bombed and killed but weren't soldiers. Or, to put it another way, how did New York squander its political capital while the Republicans kept theirs? It's one of those paradoxical elements of the re-election that hasn't received much attention.

Part of it may be that Bush people did feel that terrorism was important, and wanted their man to handle it, but that if you were going to try and cleanse a part of the US, then a bit full of culture, gay people and other alternative cultures was a fairly good place to start. Call this a variation of the Falwell/Robertson "god's punishment" theory (the link is a conservative site that is meant to exonerate them, but doesn't get very far).

Another might be that the Republicans were able to claim to be standing by the honest god-fearing New Yorkers (where were they? Staten Island?), while at the same time having a large and convenient chorus of weird latte-drinking crusties outside MSG and in front of the cameras every evening. Cake. Eat. It. The theory might explain the Republicans' apparently suicidal urge to hold the convention in NYC, but at the same time their willingness to play up the threat of violence.

And then they're gifted with vignettes like this AP story, from the Brooklyn Papers:

The announcement came over the loudspeakers at the Park Slope Food Co-op shortly before noon: Sen. John Kerry was conceding. People looked at each other, stricken over the soymilk and organic vegetables. Pilates instructor Rachel Priebe ran weeping from the store.

That's one very sneaky AP reporter we've got there.

We have a theory that a return of the draft might be a good way to stop people wigging out like that, as well as bring people together, but are not sure that the cost in lives and disruption would justify it. More important the northeasterners, hell, the educated people from the army we've met, do not seem to have much respect for George Bush's base. And we'd feel hypocritical calling for something to which we would not be subject.

One last point. Al Qaeda is often translated as "the base". Several commentators have noted that in his recent video appearance, Osama sported robes, rather than his customary fatigues. So we have a terroriist leader trying to expand his base, while the president embraces and ever-narrower section of his base.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

No, Not That Sort Of Evacuation

We have a pet theory we've been developing. It goes something like this. During the two world wars, the British and Germans pretty much indiscriminately bombed eachother's cities. Indeed, the Queen is still on the spot to apologise for what the Brits did to Dresden. There were, broadly speaking only two positive outcomes to the horrendous bombardment suffered on both sides. Number one, the fact that the local fast food joints were bombed out of existence meant that diets significantly improved. The second was that large numbers of young people were bussed out of the country, ostensibly for their own safety, to stay with rural families. They also picked up a modicum of respect for the other's way of life.

We can't help but thing that the US could do with such an exchange now.

Friday, November 05, 2004

From This Eerie

...the lame Canada-centric puns are unleashed. Cower! So sooner had we had turned our backs on this business center computer that a story about a sharp spike in calls to Canadian immigration attorneys appeared on one of the local channels (no googling, so no links, either today). We would counsel against urbanites that need any great intellectual stimulus from pursuing emigration too seriously. That item was number three on the news. Number one was the approval of a new bicycle helmet law.

We were unfortunately not able to divine where the goths, rude boys, teddy boys, hipster scum and independent waifs are to be found in this fair city. We did the rock pig in our own special way - Scarface style! Well, we're fairly certain that if Scarface had been in Toronto he would have gone for a swim in a half-in, half-outdoor pool (think of the energy streaming out into the night air) while INXS, M.A.R.R.S., the Power Station and Duran Duran boomed out, the Canadian National tower was clearly visible while we did out backstroke. And then Michelle Pfeiffer sauntered down stairs and blew a rail off the lifeguard's chair.

We followed that up with a fine steak and a bloodbath.

Today, Gringcorp will mostly be accompanied on our rounds by a shorter collegue. So "Say hello to my little fren'" Boom boom!

Thursday, November 04, 2004

CN This Thursday

Mmmm, well we've mostly calmed down, and joined the mingling hordes of ultra-liberal asylum-seekers on the morning flight to Toronto. Actually they were entirely bankers, aside from a couple with the quietest baby in the world. Respeck. We think it was drugs, actually.

We have seen little of the city so far, although we can report that the downtown is relatively unsucky, and that we are drenched. But googling from this hotel computer seems a tad convoluted, so we shall keep this brief.

In response to those considerate readers that posted comments - thanks. But less of the personal details. We know we started it, but as we all know from Pump Up The Volume it started with a bit of Blackjack gum and ended up with backyard nakedness. So you're warned.

Marty-watch. On a "Get Your Man Checked" billboard above Flatbush Avenue, with his wife. She looked like Barbara Streisand. SpookyVision!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Last To Leave

Thought we'd continue the Arlo headlines today, and add our own tuppence worth to the whole catblogging movement. Kevin Drum has put one up today, even though it is not a Friday, the traditional Day Of The Cat. We'd have followed suit, only we find ourselves catless. Gringcorp's cat of eighteen years, Archie, passed away today. He'd been around since Reagan, although he was more accurately a kitten of Thatcher, on account of being a limey cat, and all that. R.I.P.

More tunes to shake off the "we just re-elected a crackbaby" blues, and we think that the last songs from Ted Leo albums work pretty good. Last night, after the Arlo was done, we played The Crane Takes Flight from Hearts Of Oak "dont you let you tell you that you're wrong". Quite.

Then "our friend in online advertising" (I think he's demanding anonymity these days. And why not?) sent us this link to an MP3 blog that quotes from the last song from his latest album, Shake The Streets. The song, Walking To Do, is just the sort of fatalism that liberals need right now, while they ponder making their name palatable again.

The first album, The Tyranny Of Distance, doesn't quite follow the rule - here it's the first song, Biomusicology, that'll soothe your soul.

Ted and Archie, Gringcorp's all-time heroes.

Tomorrow, we promise, back to gratuitous Marty Markowitz abuse (It speaks! The horror!). And maybe we will follow this little slapper as he cruises Tijuana looking for casual sex.

Reasonably There

That was what it came down to in the end. Slumped on the sofa with the sound off on the telly, watching the hideous talking heads babble about provisional ballots while Arlo Guthrie's Last Train In The Station played on the stereo. The song worked, since while the melody is very maudlin, the lyrics have this strange fatalistic quality. And fatalism we have in spades. Collecting our thoughts on the subway (the party rocked, probably a little too much) this morning, we were still trying to put a good face on it. Vast numbers of Americans prefer this loathsome, simplistic, panderer to a slightly wordy war hero from Massachusetts.

Those evangelicals were there. In spades. They had cars, got to the polls, didn't have trouble with the ballots. Voted in nice tidy exurban polling stations.

And they get another four years to mess it up. And we have another four years of explaining the attachment of our hosts to this funny little man.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Need Some Air

Oh yesh indeedy. This little ditty from Urge Overkill's insane Exit The Dragon album popped into my head this morning (ignore the babblings of Mr. Mundy in the linked review. He will be up against the wall come January 9th for two reasons - working for Jan Wenner (if indeed he still is) and writing that piece of trash).

We had decided to accompany our companion to PS 282 to vote (yes, that's right! Hang around outside to discover Gringcorp's secret identity! Just like Pump Up The Volume, only with less of the swearing and faux-onanism). And mighty packed it was too. We had thought that we might pose as a UN-sanctioned poll observer, but it seemed like the greatest danger was the Slopers trying to kill each other, rather than the moustachioed thugs of stolen election lore. So we waited outside.

The humbing thing, and the reason why we're very proud of you if you could vote and did, is that we probably had more of an effect on the good of humanity by accompanying our beloved to the polling station in New York City than sending off for an absentee ballot in the most closely-fought marginal seat in all of the "United" "Kingdon".

Go Kerry!

P.S. We think that our companion, having voted the straight democratic ticket, might have let in some of Clarence Norman's judge picks. If you can do the research, take a look at the Working Families party's endorsements. They're almost socialists, and the WFP is, of course, home to Tish.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Vote The Slayer Ticket

We never really got round to doing the Redneck Rock N' Roll Review. We did have a grand unified theory that said that Florida's Zeke (whose Death Valley disk from back in 2001 we bought yesterday), the Gotohells, from St Petersburg, FL, and Supersuckers, from Arizona, were the more authentic voice of Southern rage. The supporting evidence was that their shows were more fun, their outlook more nihilistic, and their politics were more straightforward than the complex self-pitying creed of Lynyrd Skynyrd and their heirs in the Drive By Truckers.

But it would mostly have been a list of links to Amazon, interspersed with a few observations like "makes you want to chop your neighbor's head off. That good." And it wouldn't have advanced the cause of human understanding much. Which is not to say that the next couple of paragraphs will, just that we feel a little more effort is required.

We suspect that in the next few days, after we say goodbye to Atrios, Joshua and Markos, as we basically hope we will be able to, we can go back to yelling about the uniform land use review process and the best places to buy mandolines in Boerum Hill. But we might not. And we might not have the heart to laugh at the President much longer. And he might not have the heart to be nice to foreigners, even the white ones, much longer.

We can't vote, and while we probably have enough readers to keep a couple of hands occupied counting, we probably don't have enough readers from outside New York and the UK to keep any one of a non-existent unicorn's non-existent hands occupied. Unless just after we post this someone hugely indecisive in New Mexico, having just finished dinner, decides to surf Blogger a few minutes waiting for the Seinfeld reruns to start.

But, even if you're in New york, think of those little ratty metallers from the South, some of them probably reasonably popular (i.e., not black metal, they don't count), that decided to march to a different drum, and knew that playing the goddamn unclean Orange Bear in NY and having to pay for the privilege was probably better than sitting around at home and waiting for the options dwindle to the army or the department of corrections.

So for those whose temperament takes them against the grain of some truly crappy cultures, go out the hell and vote. Ignore the bit of the ballot that lists Clarence Norman's corrupt judicial All-Stars. Just vote for Kerry because he's not an idiot, and beccause you've finally realised that that's the bar for being president. He tells me that people who write music reviews this bad will get drafted super quick. True fact.

Anyway we've got a party to plan.

Suck My Phonezapper

Bow down before our might, New York State Deputies Association, Inc, and your feeble attempt to raise cash from us. Non-charitable you may be, non-PAC you may be, exempt from the do-not-call legislation you may be. In fact, your squalid little outfit may feel that its fundraising stooges, Midwest Publishing, have every right to call Gringcorp at home.

But you are weak. If you cannot listen to rant from Gringcorp about not being a citizen, not being able to vote, but paying taxes, and how all this violates the principles of the constitution, then how will you solicit all that cash from the diminishing band of people crazy enough to have a home phone? We were halfway through our diatribe when we realised that the shark who had called us up had been replaced by a dial tone. That's right, a telemarketer had hung up on us. Lightweights.

The Pathetic Wolfes

So, Tom Wolfe hauls his bony behind out of his Upper East Side apartment to do the press for his new novel. So we get Wolfe in the Observer, the Guardian and the New York Times, the last of which features a picture designed to scare the children, or any of those horrid hypocritical liberals who think that he's on their side. About as scary as we got all weekend, truth be told.

The differences in approach are striking, with the New York Times mostly fixating on what an amazingly amazing man he is, and his feuds with the Mailers and Updikes. We get loving descriptions of his digs, and a few prurient glances at US college life, which is what he has decided to depict in his latest book.

But the left-leaning British sister papers decide that Wolfe's apartment would be a reliable place to take the pulse of the US on the eve of this Momentous Event. At which point, Wolfe sort of morphs into 1994-vintage Newt Gingrich. He rails against the chattering classes and the Upper East Side elite. He bitches about Tina Brown trying to convert the help at her dinner parties. Three decades on from Radical Chic, where Wolfe rather impressively skewered rich people adopting left-wing causes, he's still mining the same seam. Like Mugger with a sense of humour, or something.

If he'd acknowledged that the exquisite apartment, the frequent plugs from Jan Wenner, the New York Papers lapping up his every word, the rich friends, and the easy publicity were nasty manifestations of being the paid stooge of the people he sets out to skewer it would be fine and dandy, but Wolfe seems to feel that the sales of the Bonfire Of the Vanities have made him connect with, and serve, a wider audience than the one he seems to despise so much. Tom, we love your stuff, but we prefer our brick-chuckers with much better credentials.

Back In The Sandpit

This from the Observer on Sunday, a story about sinister goings-on at the LaRouche organisation in Germany. Lyndon, apparently, has a German offshoot, the Schiller Institute, which has, according to the Observer, far right and anti-semitic overtones. But it was opposing the Iraq war, which may have brought this 22-year old Jewish boy, Jeremiah Duggan, to its conference. Jeremiah died after being run over, having strayed out onto the Autobahn.

We have spent a couple of posts exploring the views of LaRouche, who we have dismissed as a harmless, indeed occasionally perceptive, crank. We found it hard to take seriously anyone who dislikes Brits that much. But then we have not heard his outfit during our googling described as a "a shadowy cult led by a convicted fraudster with virulent anti-Semitic views, as the Observer does. But we are prepared to admit that the "conferences", the rambling newsletters, the conspiracy theories might add up to a cult. It's just hard to square the crazies handing out leaflets in Union Square to a group that may have contributed to a young man's death.

But we woud like reiterate a point made by Jack Shafer in Slate a few weeks back: LaRouche apparently provides the speaker of the house of Representatives with his oppo research.

Coming up, Redneck Rock N Roll Review...