Monday, February 28, 2005

Eine Kleine Riffmusik

Yes, we have been a bit light in the posting, but the day job has been even more vile than normal. We did finally jump into the same green-tinted cultural pool as the rest of you, taking in both the Gates and the Oscars. The Gates were fun - we think - in the way the eurotrash creators hoped. They don't really work when cropped by a viewfiinder, or even viewed from above. But ambling around, taking them in, watching them arrayed like cavalry on the ridges, that was a fine thing to do. We were even presented with an ACTUAL piece of the fabric that they used on the Gates. We will add it to our surreptitiously dislodged piece of Berlin Wall and denture molds in a creepy darkened shoebox.

The Oscars, now they sucked. just ghastly from start to finish. Any show bookended by Star Jones and a kick in the teeth to Marty Scorcese should be banned everywhere but Albania, where they find the humor in the darnedest places. Like Norman Wisdom. What the hell does Ms. S have to make to get these senile, sentimental fools to give him an award? Complex, (reasonably) well-acted evocations of Hollywood's golden age? Check. A good quarter of the best New York movies? Check. Does a child have to die or something for him to get an award? Don Cheadle robbed, Chris Rock funny but really at the wrong show, and Beyonce everywhere. It was like Phil collins was the producer.

We think that one of the limeys, who cleaned up in the technical Oscars but blew every single acting shot, said "bollocks" on air, which would have been nice, but we were busy making toad-in-the-hole right then. Thanks the lord for gin.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Joy, Spam, Spam And Spam

Nicest spam we've ever received, in one of our multifarious accounts:

Call out Gouranga be happy!!!
Gouranga Gouranga Gouranga ....
That which brings the highest happiness!!

Multiple exclamation marks. Always a sign of minor lunacy.

Friday, February 25, 2005


According to the Guardian, South Africa's utility, Eskom, wants to bring power to the world via a $50 billion run of river hydroelectric facility and related transmission programme from Congo to Europe. This is marginally more stupid than TransGas paying $700 million in exchange for lobbying help on a New York power station, if only because of the sums involved.

It's been very neatly presented, do doubt about it. The Guardian, playing up the stereotype, focused on the environmental aspect. And was duly rewarded with a story about how this project will rely on run-of river technology, which is much less disruptive than building a dam. The logic is definitely there, since Congo has few foreign export earners that cannot be stolen or destroyed, and the Inga rapids, on the Congo River, are a great resource.

There's even a quote from the CEO:

Only between five and 10% of Africa's population has access to electricity. That we consider lamentable in a continent that is abundant in energy sources.

Ho-hum. We would direct the attention of Eskom to events in Uganda, where AES once planned a ginormous hydroelectric plant at Bujagalli Falls, and subsequently bailed. The International Rivers Network issued a VERY tough-sounding press release at the time, which threatened to smack up Eskom if it even thought about looking at the project.

We're not sure how a $50 billion project, even twice the size of the Three Gorges, is going to find any takers. Three Gorges spent decades trying to find external finance for its project. It ultimately waited until China had developed a liquid stock market, and asked the local investors "do you care about flooding local communities, or 10% return a year?" They got the money, between $25 billion and $75 billion, depending on who you talk to. South Africa lacks the resources, indeed all of Africa lacks the resources, to fund the project.

Development banks max out at maybe $5 billion. Commercial banks will need insurance against anything happening in Congo, and against anything happening along the entire route of the project, which takes in Sudan and the CAR. But the kernel, we'll grant them, is there. A rehabilitation project, using the existing units, and the South Africans buying the power, that might work. The idea of linking up a number of desperately poor countries has also been tried before in Central America. The promoters? AES.

Ohmigod. I Will Never Wash this Post Again

Yes, while we were rocking Peperoncinio last night, we had a VIP pop up in our comments. All thanks to the beauty of Technorati, which lets cranks and perverts try and work out who else is making the link between Camilla and Marty Markowitz. What with resources on Lebanon being farily thin on the ground, looking for Lebanon brings in few goodies.

So, who should grace us, goes our whois-powered guess, than the Instapundit himself? The Instapundit is the Eddy Merckx of the conservative blogosphere, slightly shaggy-looking and possessed of some very peculiar fans. He did not bless us with an Instalanche, but left a short and deft rebuttal. Anyway, he is now our favourite rightist blogger, much better than Powerline, who produce a very poor show for a blog named after a late-period Husker Du song.

Still, the comment gives us the crux of the neoconservative argument, which rests on the assumption that there is something new and ahistorical at work in many oppressed societies. Thaat would be a shame, since we still think comparative history is a valuable thing to bring to political analysis, provided it doesn't rely too much on pat Vietnam/Iraq comparisons. But it's had a hard knock from the rise of analytical modelling, which has squeezed the artistry in history to a very narrow corner, and has allowed some very, um, bold assumptions to take root in poltical analysis.

First do no harm, we're going to grumble, before we note he seems to have liked our fatuous Orange Revolution comparison as a lede to one of his recent posts. With a little excerpt showing that all the varied ethnicities are indeed linking arms in the face of the Syrian brutes. Bless. Back to metal and restaurants, we guess.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Mo Money

We never did a particularly good job of following the baseball, possibly because we're of limey stock, or maybe because the Mets disappeared down the toilet with some aplomb before we got properly into this.

But we always remember the players we heartily dislike, and we can tell you that Mo Vaughn is the prince of Mets players we have disliked, with Todd Zeile as his gormless grand vizier. Getting the pubescent Long Island monkeyclowns up in the gods booing is not, we will own, difficult. But in volume, Mo Vaughn sent them to ever greater heights during the 2002 season.

There is something in the diligent soul of the people of Nassau and Suffolk County that revolved at what they witnessed. this aging slugger with an obviously ropey knee collecting a gigantic paycheck from their beloved Amazins and producing ninguno. The contract kept paying while he was injured.

Now, Mo does have his defenders, but more representative is, we think, one Rally Monkey, a fan of Mo's pre-Mets team, the Angels. Here you shall find many crudely Photoshopped pictures of Mo dressed as a woman.

But we digress, because we wanted to bring to your attention this item from Gothamist, which notes that Mo now wants to spend Mets fans' hard-earned cash on becoming a slum-lord. Sorry, improver of low income housing.

Mo's company, Omni, gets to take over some run-down apartments in the Bronx, courtesy of a $28.6 million loan from HUD. Which carries very little risk. Yuh-huh, Mo has discovered two ways to rake it in for very little effort at all.

Rage Against The Medication

Lindsay Lohan's dad is a very sick manic depressive. Trust us. Paxil is a start, but until he starts talking to some serious therapists, and stops talking to the gossipists, he won't get better.

Sturdy Wrists

We never have been fortunate enough to visit Lebanon, although our birth-givers were lucky enough to travel there as the guests of a Saudi businessman (about which, more, never!). We have only the most tenuous links to the region, although one of our antecedents once boasted of putting down a food riot in Tel Aviv on horseback in the 1940s, an event that strangely failed to gain renown in the annals of cavalry history. But we watched a lot of telly in the 80s, as we have previously attested.

And the memories keep coming back whenever we read the Instapundit and co calling the situation in Lebanon "interesting". Mr. Reynolds is a measured man, but we cannot help but think that the assumption on the right is that all of the agitating by "the Lebanese" against occupation by Syria is leading up to a repeat of the Orange revolution in Ukraine, or the fall of Milosevic in Serbia. But not the Intifada, no that would a different, bad type of people power.

See, Lebanon has ethnically-based kinks, and strange irrational rivalries to match anything that Israel/Palestine and Iraq have produced. Indeed, in the roll-call of Fiendishly Intractable Problems that cropped up on British telly in the 80s, Lebanon was frequently above the Intifada and below Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland got quieter as soon as both sides realised that they did not have the insane bloodlust necessary to derail development, peace, and a sideline in drug-running. Same probably went for Yanukovych's and Milosevic's gangster crew as well.

Now, how much do Hezbollah enjoy blowing themselves up in the service of spurious causes? Plenty. How much do the Syrians like holding on to verdant Mediterranean real estate? Plenty. This is not to say that there aren't a bunch of smart young, neoconservative followers ready to keep the Lebanese recovery alive, just that there are still plenty of nutters with Semtex tooling around in the interior. As someone with at least 800% more of a clue about this notes here, as part of a genuinely hopeful post:

When Lebanon’s many sectarian leaders do try to organize and channel the new sentiment and popular expectations toward their own ends, solidarity will be sorely challenged.

Yes, all this sounds like an apology for the occupation, a sense that, as one commenter on the above post says, Lebanon is "democratically immature". Not at all, but we share Henry Kissinger's grudging respect for Austria-Hungary, a barely benign agglomeration of warring ethnicities. Take away the brutes, and life sometimes gets short.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

You Can Lead A Horsey Type To Water...

...and then watch her jump right in, struggle around trying to stay afloat, and then flop ashore under the watching gaze of the UK's media. We must admit that Charles and Camilla is an epic 33-year love story to rival the English Patient, or maybe Black Beauty. There is no other way to explain their unalloyed willingness to expose their love-life to the pitiless scrutiny of the tabloid press. Only Marty Markowitz seems to embrace looking foolish as eagerly.

What the latest kerfuffle over Prince Charles' wedding to Camilla shows is that the Royal family will forever need to keep providing fodder for that nasty gang of hacks and knaves that is the royal corps of "constitutional" historians. Given that the UK is currently without a constitution, one would think that this profession would be as useful as the architectural dancers or the chocolate fire protectors of lore.

Indeed, the death of Dianna, and the descent of at least one of her children into tabloid hell had led us to hope that such bow-tied buffoons would vanish whence they came, replaced by the 3am girls and simple-looking telly reporters. But no, David Starkey an awesomely good historian twenty years ago, and Vernon Bogdanor trot out to glaze significance upon a middle-aged man doing right by his mistress.

Constitutional history in the US is much more fun. For starters, there's a constituion to study, and writers to examine, and motives to question. Constitutional law is, according to some cute associates of ours, rather boring, but if you get turned on by seeing Antonin Scalia as batman, I'm sure you'd disagree. You get try and work out whether Madison rocked to firearms, and whether the founders just loved keeping slaves or regretfully had to accede to the socio-economic realities of the South.

"It has gone from a smooth operation to a fuss and now a farce," sez David Starkey. Now where's my cheque?

No, David, as dear Lord Falconer (mate of Tony Blair though he may be) pointed out, the sum effect of all the successive marriage acts is that a middle-aged man can do right by his mistress whenever the hell he likes. But dredging up obsolete legislation from 1836 seems like the right response to the stench of royalty. Like wearing ridiculous clothes.

Likewise the issue of whether the "public", that is hordes of excitable overweight women in gigantic fluffy union jack hats, is allowed to attend the wedding to the wedding. The public is allowed to get as near to the wedding as they like before coming up against a policeman in a yellow jacket, who says that you can't get any nearer to the wedding than Slough without having nineteen people swear you're not a terrorist. And whinge to the Daily Mail later.

Likewise the Queen's non-appearance. She's as bored of the whole mess as we are, but just has to think harder about an excuse.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Lah-Lah-Lahdahn. It's The New Style

It's now 7pm, and we're accutely aware that we're on the hook for some hot sweaty stadium blogging. We had considerable enthusiasm for the project this morning, but our ardour faded as soon as we sat down in front of a list of infrastructure projects that we were meant to enthuse about. And then we read a typically droll offering from Dahlia Lithwick on the New London case in front of the Supreme Court.

The case concerns eminent domain, the process by which government condemns and buys land that it wants to put towards public use. The idea is that you can have Old Man Withers in the way of a freeway that everyone will use. If Old Man Withers wants to stop the freeway being built he can just dress up as a ghost and scare away the workers like everyone else.

But if they just want to use his land to build, say, a massive, stupid and ill-conceived stadium, or, in New London, a mall, they have to pretend that the tax revenue, or making the town prettier, also qualifies as public use. The key word, apparently, is blighted. We won't anticipate the case, or even try and apply the reasoning to the stadium they want to build over Freddy's (nice jazz and knitting night Sunday, by the way, chaps). But could we please note that even the ass-clowns at the Times realise that the neighborhood is on the up.

Kudos, by the way, to the guys at DDDB, the anti-Ratner stadium folks, for realising how starved for news NY1 was going to be on President's Day. So we got their own segment with them standing outside City Hall getting cross about the stadium. Also featuring Tish! and DDDB's luxuriously-priced lawyer, Norman Siegel. Problem was, NY1 had the intern doing sound, so we could barely make out what he had to say.

Even more interestingly, because it touches on our work, is the latest spoiler offer for the Westside stadium site. from someone else that hates Bloomberg and wants to embarrass the MTA. This outfit is TransGas, which wants to built a power project in Williamsburg and has offered $700 million for the West Side site, $100 million more than Cablevision, and $600 million more than the NY Jets, without quite explaining want it wants to do there.

As this Times article gets close to nailing, the bid is pure spite. Adam Victor, the developer, wants the MTA to sign a power purchase agreement for the 1100 megawatt plant's output, far more than it likely needs. $700 million will sink the economics of any power project, and make it impossible for the plant to raise money, as any banker will tell you. In fact , asking a transportation agency to intervene in developing a power project sounds at best cheeky, and at worst foolish.

Gotta love the guy's chutzpah, though, since it's given him a chance to talk about the Greenpoint power plant he wants to build. He says that the plant will be super-multi-colored and produce so little pollution it will barely affect the hipsters' consumption. He says that the Newtown Creek alternative site, is not pretty enough. But the Greenpoint site has its opponents, including Patti Smith!

But we love the fact that the MTA bidding process has descended into a venal little farce not unlike the California recall. We anticipate, as Gothamist does, all sorts of demented proposals from now on. Including a home for the "New Jersey Nets", with any luck.

Final NY1 moment. Top anchor drollster Pat Kiernan is interviewing chunky general assignment reporter and comedy turn standby Roger Clark about the Olympics, which has occasioned all of these stadium proposals. Towards the end, Pat starts singing the hideously annoying Olympic theme from the ads, like the music coming up under the oscar speeches that go on to long. He just sits there smiling and humming while Roger stumbles towards the end of his report. Very peculiar.

Tony Blair wants a good kicking

We very rarely pinch a headline from a linked article, but this one is rather good. According to Andrew Rawnsley, Tony Blair, whether as a novel political strategy, or because he's seen the Passion a few times too many, apparently relishes being abused by suburban mothers about their poor local services.

We think this might just be spin on a couple of nasty confrontations, but it may be that he's starting to enjoy it. Either that, or the political wizards have decided that it plays well among men, who may feel that they have received an undeserved toungue-lashing now and then.

Edith Piaf, There She Was Crooning

Awesomely intransigent performance from Ken Livingstone there. He's got Tony Blair, he's got Lord Janner, he's got the entire press on his back. And he regrets nothing. He refuses to apologise for comparing a Daily Mail reporter to a concentration camp guard, but says that he did not mean to cause ofence to holocaust survivors.

And then does exactly what he always does when asked to apologise, launch into a lengthy description of exactly what the Evening Standard and Daily Mail's ties to fascism are. We have to say, we are very impressed that the little newt-fancier still wants to take on Associated Newspapers. One day, this bizarre and inept little crusade will get the respect it deserves.

More transatlantic froideur. Former intoxicant and methodist George W. Bush does not want Charles and Camilla to stay at the White House when they are in the US because they are "too high church". George Bush is said to object to the future leader of the Church of England's dangerous interest in incense and a less austere religion.

Either that, or he figures that throwing a less attractive and popular woman than Diana out of the House, on the grounds that she's divorced, might score him some points. You decide.

Should we promise you some more stadium witterings? Yuh-huh!

Monday, February 21, 2005


...we will need to be finding someone new to rip off now. For St Hunter is dead, and has single-handedly overloaded the servers of the Aspen Times. Probably his least significant legacy, but a key one, given how much wailing and gnashing his passing has inspired at the blogs. Funny, abusive and righteous are hard acts to combine, and to entertain while cobbling your notes together is what every journalist dream of.

But we need to make a few corrections. Read the Hells Angels book today, and you'll be struck by how straight it's written, at least to start with. The screaming, careering mess of Fear And Loathing... came later. And he was rather fond of recycling stories, especially the Nixon ones. And he was a mess. And he wasn't very nice to women.

And, and, and...he was flipping angry at right-winng nutjobs, could not be destroyed by pharmaceutical means, and was our companion while the lovely happy sixties, all turned to sh*t. But he decided that a bullet in the brain was better than a couple of decades of eating avocadoes. What use is a flair for documenting the Inner Pimp, in politics or in sports, when all of the pimps' wares are fully on display?

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Ukes Of Fury

It's not often that we are administered a stern beating in the arena of obscure and whimsical musotica. So, when we announce to our colleagues that we are "going to Barbes to check out some phat hawaiian steel string guitare music, with loads of ukeleles", we're not really looking for a response. But one of them snaps right back "I've already got a favorite ukelele band, they're called Ukes Of Hazzard, and they do a kick-ass cover of Sweet Child Of Mine on the harp". Speechlessness does not come naturally to us, but it seemed like the only reasonable response, in the circumstances.

We decided that it was time for some jaunty and rarified thrills last night, but things got off to an inauspicious start at Loki Lounge, which is famous locallly for enduring a renovation where NOTHING changed. Belleville did the normal excellent chicken thing, and then we rolled our well-fed derrieres to Barbes. Where The Moonlighters had already started.

We first caught the Moonllighters at the Mercury Lounge supporting this Tex-Mex model/singer type creature with a fat sweaty backing band called Patricia Vonne, and Edith Frost, who would be justifiably angry if called a low-rent Kristin Hersh. They were not very metal at all, but very soothing, and they had cred because at the time they had Henry Bogdan, formerly of hardcore heroes Helmet, on steel string geetar. We followed them for a few months, Williamsburg, even Manhattan, you name it.

Bogdan's gone, replaced by a very nice gentleman called Mike, but the jazzy 20s and 30's songs, as well as a few old-time union and protest songs, are still there. But they seem a bit more sedate than formerly, the occupants of a ppleasant, and comfortable, rut. According to Carla Murray, the very charming guitarist, and half of the amazing harmonising with Bliss Baxter, they're available for weddings. And corporate events. But we had drunk too much wine. And so to bed.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Fade It Hack

Crikey, another busy day, where we will refrain from writing to much, except to urge you to read the latest post at the mighty detroitblog, which has a deserved place in our Links section. Here, the author breaks into the holy grail of Detroit's abandoned buildings, and finds it to be only barely abandoned.

But we do have something to crow about, namely our perfect record of celeb spotting at the Tribeca Grill. We have been there three times before, largely because it is the nearest joint to Citigroup's investment banking HQ. and on those occasions we caught Ron Howard, Harvey Weinstein, and, yes, Bobby hanging out.

Today was not looking good, we must confess, but then along came a chap with a curly cord coming out of his ear. He loitered around in the ante-room, while we conjured up images of all sorts of famous politicians. Hopefully not Chuck, since he's a tad played out.

But no! It was top craggy but balding law enforcement official Ray Kelly! Accepting the judgement of the Tripartite Commission on where drugs could be sold! Or just having lunch, we suppose. We informed our dining companion, who lives in a glue-filled cave, that the police commissioner was at the next table. "But he doesn't have a moustache!" wailed the little junkie. If only our profiteroles were fashioned from Nyquil, we think.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Like Abu Ghraib, Only For Publishers

Sorry, too busy to write something properly, but read this if you have a moment. Richard Desmond, now publisher of the Daily Express, a rival to the Daily Mail, but at the time a pornographer, once told a mafia soldier that he was "stupid and common", during a dispute over advertising for mafia-run sex lines. So the next time one of Desmond's executives visits New York, he's abducted and tortured using a taser in the rude bits. Nice. All this is retold in the courts in Brooklyn, you betcha.


Well, it's the International Petroleum Exchange, rather than Euronext/LIFFE. But we won't let such details get in the way of a crude Tupac reference.

Greenpeace protestors invaded the IPE yesterday to celebrate the Kyoto Protocol's coming into effect. According to the Times, however, they were unprepared for the ultraviolence that followed.

You see, some traders in the UK still like to drink BOOZE at lunch. And they do not like environmentalists, or anyone else that went to university, to be honest. So marching in and setting off rape alarms and all manner of hullaballloo at a time when oil prices are going through the roof is not likely to be received that well by the oil traders. Here's the Times:

“We bit off more than we could chew. They were just Cockney barrow boy spivs. Total thugs,” one protester said, rubbing his bruised skull. “I’ve never seen anyone less amenable to listening to our point of view.”

Another said: “I took on a Texan Swat team at Esso last year and they were angels compared with this lot.” Behind him, on the balcony of the pub opposite the IPE, a bleary-eyed trader, pint in hand, yelled: “Sod off, Swampy.”

"Swampy" is a reference to a briefly famous environmental protester from 1997 who used to live in trees. Anyway, don't mess with traders, especially when they're drunk. Or trading. Or both.

All this via, we must confesss, Instapundit.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

More Baron Besmirching

After our quite shocking attempt to drag the good name of Silas Greenback through the mud by comparing him to Bob Novak, we now move to the unholy Olympic ruckus, which is paralysing two perfectly good cities, and London (badum-chah!), and soiling the best intentions of Baron Coubertin. London, Paris and New York are competing to host the 2012 fiasco.

New York has been threatening to build stadiums (see endless posts passim), and Mayor Mike has been flitting between literal and metaphorical shovels. Dan Doctoroff, the "Olympic' deputy mayor has a kind of Albert Brooks authority, and certainly looks like business.

And then there's Paris, where the mayor is certainly deadly powerful, and seems to have positioned the city as the effortless natural choice for 2012. The website looks rather adorable, and the Parisian mayors understand that the dirty construction planning is best handled in private. We have to say that the Parisians are looking handy...

Which brings us to London, the city we abandoned, the city that shuts at 11.30, the city with an alluring combination of low, ugly and low ugly buildings. They have a reasonably professional website, but it seems to largely be an attempt to enthuse Londoners about the bid. But, as a slew of reports have indicated, London seems wobbly.

We could partly blame the fact that it seems to be central government, rather than city government, that is driving the bid. The London website, for instance, is plastered with Tony Blair's simpering visage. And london's mayor, Ken Livingstone does not enjoy anywhere near the powers of his rivals. But we can hardly be sympathetic when Ken spends much of his time engaging in squabbles with the Evening Standard, and calling its Jewish reporters concentration camp guards. We are very fond of the row, mostly because whenever anyone asks Ken about what he said to the reporter he launches into a rant about how the owners of the Standard, Associated Newspapers, are a gang of Nazi-lovers. Which everyone then prints. Except for the Daily Mail, which is the paper that Ken hates more than the Standard.

Anyway, the fact that Tony now has to step in shows us what a shambles the whole thing has been. The Olympic chaps are in London this month, enjoying all of the free drugs and sex that the organisers can provide, before moving on to New York, before the Gates close.

[Update: from today's Guardian.

London's bid committee hopes they will be impressed with its plans to stage many events at world-famous venues including Wimbledon, Wembley and Lord's.

To paraphrase, London expects the Olympics, in much the same way it does for finance, tourism, and culture, to rely upon ancient infrastructure and past glories (yes, we know that Wembley is new). Expects Olympic chaps to be impressed by its unwillingness to bankrupt itself.]

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Evil/Whimsy Nexus

So, we've been idly following the latest in the Valerie Plame affair, in which, for some reason, reporters for left/centrist news organisations have to go to jail for not helping prosecutors find out who leaked the secret identity of a CIA agent to a right-wing reporter. For some reason they don't want to ask the right-wing reporter directly

We'd like to provide some take on the latest developments, but the whimsy-bots have taken over our cortex. All we can think of is how much Bob Novak, the disgusting hack at the ceter of the whole thing, looks like top UK 80s cartoon villain Baron Silas Greenback.

Using the power of other people's bandwidth, you decide...

New Un-Jacked Pity

Back from the clutches of Cutesome, but with little to report. We are heartened that Slate agrees that the Grammys were ghastly, and it was interesting to note that Ray Charles walked off with so many awards for what most critics think was very poor work by his standards. Ooops, excuse us, that was very poorly phrased, what we meant to say was the corpse of Ray Charles was pelted with ill-earned encomiums by the mawkish and critically paralysed pirates of the RIAA.

We'll pass on to those of you spared a deluge of blog posts (damn you Shrook, damn you to hell!) the latest sex from DC. Fake Republican White House reporter Jeff Gannon may have been hustling previous to his career as a newshound. We shall use the semi-pro media as the link. It's very saucy, and makes us wonder of whether there are all sorts of closeted types making anti-gay policy in the White House.

We have to be careful, since this is starting to remind us of the Sun's rather distasteful campaign from seven years back to expose the "gay mafia" running Britain. The assumption seems to be that because this time the cabal is right-wing, it's OK. Which is a pity, because it enables all the proper journalists to be Even-Handed and Objective, and all the other virtues that make the Times the psychic cup of cocoa it is today.

Still, you can get the sordid shots here. Doubt he does the "imprisoning thing" as well as Cutesome, but there you go.

Monday, February 14, 2005

The Prettiest Hostage-Taker In Christendom

Guest blogger: Cutesome Companion:
Gringcorp has been taken hostage by Cutesome Companion. We will not release Gringcorp to the world, or allow any further posts, until you (and you know who YOU are) give us the stuff we need, the stuff we crave, the stuff our veins live for. Gumby Fresh is over unless you produce. You know where we are; and we know where you are. So bring us the stuff.

Readers might think this is a joke, readers may believe this to be a game. But You know Cutesome Companion, and you know how serious we are. Only you can save Gumby Fresh. We've been waiting a while and won't be waiting much longer.

Happy Valentine's Day. Show love for Gringcorp and Gumby Fresh. Don't let the dream (or the blogger) die. The gnomes are coming to get Gringcorp soon, and then it will all be over.

Why, These Are Neenjas, Bond-san!

A grand line from top Bond film You Only Live Twice, one of rare attempts by top children's author Roald Dahl to do a script, and the first Bond film to depart substantially from the novels by Bond creator Ian Fleming. Interestingly enough, Fleming loved the ninjas, and was way ahead of his time, since ninjas did not really become that fresh until they appeared on the mighty Commodore 64.

Probably for the best that we did follow through on a whimsical desire to live blog of the Grammys, since we were much too busy hurling oscenities at J-Lo, Tim Graw (who was looking rather, er Butch), Maroon 5, Los Lonely Boys, Everyone Who Was Pimping A Film, Usher and Joss Stone. They couldn't hear, obviously, because they were on the telly, but we hope that Green Day felt the love. Moreover, can we please extend much love to Motorhead (No! Umlauts! For You!), who won their first Grammy. Bless. That said they were one of 107 lucky winners, so we're not going to campaign for a knighthood or anything.

Oy vey. Much work to be done. But Happy Valentine's day, Cutesome.

P.S. Fresh Nine Inch Nails here! We are as excited as a tipsy Goth.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Send Them Upstairs

We are, it must always be stressed, living in a city where politeness and an accommodating attitude is at a premium. It's also a city that is so expensive you'd barely wish penury upon your worst enemy. We are, in short,, aware that wishing the loss of one's job is a Very Bad thing to do.

So, we noticed (but cannot link to) the story on NY1 regarding an accelerated program of token booth closures on the subway. Too bad, we thought, that there would be fewer people to keep an eye out for straphangers.

And then we had an "episode" with the token booth operator at the Seventh Avenue subway stop. To descend into a whinge for a moment, we have an unlimited pass, and had to duck out again when we dropped something. Usually, and it has happened before, we explain our predicament, and they'll let us back in.

Not this bloated, lard-addled jobsworth. Nyuh-huh. She positively reveled in watching us stand around aimlessly for 15 minutes until our card would work again. The device, which prevents people from selling swipes of an unlimited card, is eminently reasonable. But then so is letting someone in who obviously not selling swipes.

Standing around for 15 minutes at least let us confirm that she is genuinely evil to everyone that calls for her assistance, and not just people wearing yellow T-shirts. Just doing her job, we note, but having enormous fun into the bargain.

And so, we won't wish redundancy on the gloating, evil old happypotomus. That's just not cricket. Let us just say should the rules say that she needs to be thrown out onto the street as a result of cutbacks, possibly with the loss of her pension and cake allowance, we will be able to stand there, allow a self-satisfied smile to creep across our face, and note that that is just the way it goes.

But, yes, we know it probably won't happen. The revolting old municipally-employed macaroni-dumpster performs a necessary function. How else might the otherwise blissfully pleasant Slopers summon the requisite levels of anger and nastiness to survive on Manhattan?

We would have taken a picture, but it is forbidden, and might have damaged the camera. Harharhar.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Ban This Sick Sofa Rage Now

Mass carnage descends upon a London IKEA, as reported in that renowned Fascist house organ the London Evening Standard, but via the Cutesome Wire.

Thousands of rampaging sofa fiends caused a riot at the opening of IKEA's largest ever store in England. Five hospitalised. They were lured there by promises of cheap furniture. As Cutesome notes, do we want these scenes repeated in tranquil Red Hook?

[Update: Kevin Drum is mystified as to why your Guardian hack would be so upset at the poor service at IKEA. Well Kevin, that's the upside to being a nation of shopkeepers. You know how it's done properly.]

[Extra update: Gawker completely steals our, and Cutesome's, sh*t.]

Dolan Fights!

Ohourword this West Side Stadium story is getting good. According to Sports Illustrated the NFL will not be holding the college draft at Madison Square Garden because of the opposition that the owners, Cablevision's Dolan family, have expressed towards a new stadium for the NY Jets. So far, so smackdown, and you can read our story here, or get the "elite" media take here.

And then we're slumped in front of NY1 this morning, and what should be blaring during the commercial break but the most sinsiter anti-Cablevision attack ad - paid for by the NY Jets - we have yet seen. It barely mentioned the offer of $600 million that Cablevision has put forward to the MTA for the site of the Jets' stadium.

Instead it crowed about the money that Cablevision has lost on its satellite TV venture, Voom, questioned the strategic direction of the company, and claimed that the money paid out to the Dolan family managers is higher than the industry median. Forgot to mention that customer service sucks, but then maybe they're (only marginally more) lucky Time Warner customers. The ad also says that "analysts" say that the new stadium isn't that much of a threat to MSG and Radio City, which did sort of give the game away, but also threw into relief the unremitting nastiness of the ad, as if to tip off the viewer that the attack wasn't entirely unprovoked.

Still pretty horrible, though. Top work, NY Jets, you're making us a little bit more sorry for the Dolans.

Still, on a day when fake news people are all over the newspapers, and fake bloggers are telling you to go read fake-bylined fanzine articles such duplicity seems very natural. Now can we please have some "Brooklyn" Nets attacks ads soon?

Coming up, like, WHEN-EV-UH, the SS thing, plus maybe some light indie rock relief. Depends on time and contractual fanzine obligations.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Eat My Fanzine Hell

We should have got this out of our system at least ten years ago, but we have made our debut as a fanzine writer. Using one of our many aliases, we can be found at Sugarzine, a web-based fanzine that features articles and photos and stuff. Can't say we're too familiar with their work, but we're certain it isn't a hate site or GOP front. Anyway, we were being largely pleasant about Razorlight, and you can read it here.

In Orange Veritas

Great news for all of you excited about Mr. Robert Kilroy-Silk's new political party fashioned entirely out of xenophobes, Veritas. It now has a website. It also has, you will notice, a branch in Bolton, far from the lying, thieving, metropolitans. It's also pretty far from most of the immigrants. But there are plenty of Asian families to fulminate against, and BNP votes to chase. Onwards and upwards, orange one.

They Do Come In Every Color

Originally uploaded by Gringcorp.
Reference to some particularly vile lyrics from a Dogg Pound song on the Natural Born Killers soundtrack. A phrase of two words - second one is "blockers".

A lot of Slopers wonder how the "Brooklyn" Nets stadium and ginormous white elephant office complex might affect them. Most of them assume that being very mobile yuppies they will have relocated to Westchester by the time anyone gets their sh*t together. Or that it will be sufficiently far away for them to continue going to organic restaurants and meddling with their school board unmolested.

Consider, then, this view from the Seventh Avenue B/Q stop. Think that there will be no more hassles than the charming panhandler after it gets built? Nyuh-huh. That big-ass skyscraper on the right is a pathetic harbinger indeed. Tish is rather fond of rapping "don't block the clock", a reference to that almost pornographic structure you see in the background, the Williamsburg Savings Bank c(l)ock tower. The bank, now owned by our friends at HSBC is a charming structure, whose interior, we are damn near certain, featured in Catch Me If You Can. We have heard from a few drain-cleaner smokers of our acquaintance that it might be turned into luxury condos, but this seems unlikely, given Ratner's plans to swamp the area.

We know that at present Flatbush Avenue, the bustling boulevard you see in the foreground, should better be known by its Swami handle, "Concrete River Coursing With A Thousand Retarded Steel Fish", at least some of its length, might be best served by starting over. But to imagine oneself insulated? Pure insanity my friends.

Coming up: We are sure you are fascinated by Gringcorp's thoughts on Social Security. Well prepare yourselves instead for a miasma of cackling at how other people can always be persuaded to pay for the bombs that delight us so...

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Fresh Beastliness

Or cutting your nose off to spite your face, or being a dog-in-the-manger, as Gringcorp's birth-giver once put it.

But Cablevision still keeps giving us reasons not to hate it. It has offered the MTA $600 million for the railyards where the Jets want to build a stadium. They're claiming that the land would be ripe for property development. We still think that this means maintaining the monopoly position of Cablevision's Madison Square Garden is worth a fairly similar amount.

Almost atones for the recent jazz-nasty Anna Levin ads that MSG is now producing. The mighty Daily News has more.

OK gentlemen, cross your legs now, unless you already picked this up from Gawker. This from Wales, the home of Rugby and idiocy. A man got so drunk that he turned himself into a eunuch. Anyone who says Brits can handle their drink is now officially a liar...

[Stadium update: According to the Times the MTA is considering the Cablevision offer, but in true Dolan style, there are one or two strings attached...]

Monday, February 07, 2005

Aimless Hindquarters Sniffing

Did anything exciting happen this weekend? We sincerely hope not, since we decided to Not Look At A Computer the whole weekend, and have become so net news-dependent that we cannot absorb news from television-based sources. We did try to look at Capital Gang on Saturday night, but found Bob Novak's leering wizened visage very difficult to follow.

Anyway, we found that Beltway ranting was not helping the Veuve-Clicquot go down at all. And when the champers was done, there was little to do but hustle down to Blue Ribbon Brooklyn and get toasted.

Best advice from the luxuriously quiffed bartender to a new father: "Get batteries. Lots of batteries. A, B, C, D, the lot. None of that baby equipment takes regular sizes." We were chatting about childs because the stork brought a little bundle of joy into the world, in the form of Mini-Mig-Hell. Mini-Mig-Hell is a Secret Blog Name, much like Gringcorp, but we are sure that the parents, who are serious Brooklyn art-rock celebrities, would value the anonymity. Anyway, welcome to the world Mini-Mig-Hell, it's awesome, except for the limeys. Hot damn the limeys suck.

But we watched the Superbowl, obviously, although we spent a sufficient amount of time shuffling between parties to avoid overexposure to the Aryan Youth face of Tom Brady (wow, St Hunter called it pretty well!). In fact we had reversed our long-running love of the Patriots, partly, in true limey fashion, after they got too successful, but also on the back of all that Bush-pimping the Pats quarterback got in. We know we shouldn't be mixing the two up, and leftist bloggers from all over seem to be able to compartmentalize quite nicely, but we find it difficult.

Or maybe we just don't like football. Because we discovered a demented bit of counter-programming in the form of Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl. Nine hours of puppies playing on this miniature football field, complete with instant replay, a "bowl-cam" and a guy who comes on every fifteen minutes to administer a penalty. With noodling porn-movie music in the background. It was very bowdlerized, since the two things puppies most like to do are poop and hump, and there was nary a frame of anything untoward, just hours and hours of romping, interspersed with occasional adverts. Now we know what all the skagheads were doing during the Eagles' beating.

Friday, February 04, 2005

The Way Out Is Thru

See, in the future everyone will be introducing stories about privatization using Nine Inch Nails songs (to digress a moment, there will be new NIN album out soon. Always interesting, never quite gripping).

We can get away with this nasty, brutish pun, because we wish to draw your attention to the front page story of New York Newday, conveyed to us via the dulcet tones of Pat Kiernan on NY1:

Hey you, wanna buy a bridge?,

screams the headline, in a riff on the old joke about selling the Brooklyn Bridge, although the bridge in question is the Tappan Zee one located upstate. The Pataki administration, bored of selling their principles, loyalties, and warm soft bodies, has now decided to move on to transport infrastructures, and the Thruway has some tempting assets. Under the latest plan, the state would be looking to transfer the Tappan Zee, and its tolls, to the private sector under a long-term lease, in exchange for improvemments to the structure and lots of lovely money.

Every few years, a transportation official suggests it, and rather like social security reform it gets bogged down in endless mathematical squuabbling over the "cost" of the sale. Since 95% of the population cannot get their heads around how their pensions work, asking them to take a position on the elimination of life-cycle maintenance costs, and the present value of improvements to a structure, not to mention the avoided cost of delays to construction, is highly unlikely.

Hell, we write about this, and even we can't give you an answer about whether it's a good idea. But the arrangement, often referred to as a Public Private Partnership (PPP), because it's so warm and fuzzy, can raise a bunch of money. As the Chicagoist noted late last year, the city of Chicago raised $1.8 billion from selling its Skyway to a consortium of Macquarie of Australia and Cintra of Spain. Macquarie is now talking to the Thruway about taking over the bridge.

We suspect that this little tale has a while to run, and that cutting a deal with the craven Pataki will be a tad more difficult than cutting one with chicago's Mayor Daley, who has done what the hell he likes ever since his Daddy helped JFK win the presidency in 1960.

It won't be helped by suggesting that the same thing would be suitable for the second avenue subway. While the long-suffering denizens of London have indeed been enduring just such an arrangement on their , er, beloved, Tube the process is hideously complicated. Getting it past the sort of politician that spouts the nonsense below will be nigh on impossible:

"They give Donald Trump the Second Avenue subway," said Assemb. Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester). "He builds it. How do you think he pays back his bank? He raises fares."

Unfortunately, though, our little friend, and, it must be noted, no friend of Pataki, has a point. To get the big bucks for your asset, you'll have to let your "partner" raise fares, at least by a little. They can do it on the Skyway, and they'll want to do it on most of the prime assets. They may also have a bit of an aversion to heavily unionised workers, although they are a tad more flexible than in days gone by.

Note to private road operators: hire Libby as a consultant now.


Thursday, February 03, 2005


So, while the State Of The Union address was raging we were mostly cooking up some pasta (not, we must confess from scratch), reading a book about the Ptomelies (the book report is about 100 pages away), and learning how to use syndicated content. Not to put the mighty Gumby Fresh on Atom, although five minutes on google has convinced us it is very feasible, but how to get a measure of control over all these blogs we keep checking.

So we downloaded Shrook, and we'll see if we'll pay for it, since it does seem to deliver Instapundit and Kos (see how broadminded the foreigner is!) au'omatically. Whether we achive even the slightest productivity saving is too early to tell.

But we caught the last paragraph (we'll link to page seven of the Times transcript, even though it will soon be dust in the wind) of the speech by Mr. Bush. We are glad we did not catch more, because for the entire thing that man's head would have been framed by the ugliest men alive - Cheney and Hastert.

We're still puzzling over this line:

The fall of imperial communism was only a dream, until one day it was accomplished.

Why the adjective "imperial", for starters? When would a Republican need to modify Communism? Communism is always bad, even when it is the only well-behaved secular party in all of Iraq, right? Is George now happy with Communists that keep themselves to themselves? We hear the ghost of Ronald Reagan and the sprawl of Henry Kissinger on the phone to the White House right now. "But those Communists are the only ones its easy to get rid of, George!"

We know that George is alive to the legacy of Reagan, because in this very sentence he regurgitates the myth, even at the expense of the fair English language, that Ronnie defeated Communism. We need to stress here: Communism fell, note the instransitive verb, and could not be accomplished. In fact, there are only 28 mentions on all of the web for the phrase "fall was accomplished". Doesn't happen, not even MBAs can do it. Massive mismanagement and an arms race can cause a fall, massive deficits likewise. But falls are not accomplished, unlike, er, missions. They take place.

Oh well, enough pedantry, no point raging incoherently about a teleprompter. We'll leave you with news that the Kinkstah is running for governor of Texas. Hooray!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Rants From A Small Island

OK, I think we've got a perfect illustration of the problem of living on a small island right here, and it has nothing to do with Bill Bryson's enormous fat hairy cornflake. Third place on the Guardian's capacious website was a story about Robert Kilroy-Silk, the former Labour politician and talk-show host and probable racist.

Kilroy performed a trick at the last European elections, where he won big for the UK Independence, by proving that famous people can be xenophobes too. He then threw a quite gigantic hissy fit and left the UKIP just as it was making real progress in its goal of forcing the UK out of the European Union by allying with all the EU rejectionist parties from elsewhere in Europe in the European parliament, while drawing salaries from the EU and eating croissants.

But Kilroy was probably just continuing his march rightwards, deciding that a narrow anti-EU focus would never satisfy his insatiable hatred of immigrants, which was what got him sacked from the BBC in the first place. Kilroy's new party is called Veritas, which means "truth", and which, we dare say, is meant to draw attention to all the lies the "normal" politicans are telling, but which really sounds like an unused name for a Blairite think-tank.

Anyway, according to the Guardian Kilroy became amusingly incoherent, as he strived to attain the purple-faced spluttering indignation of the Daily Mail-reader in the street. Essentially he thinks there is this special organic substance called "Britishness" which comes from within and has not been made up by the Hanoverians or Victorians in any way, and which must be protected from people with darker skins.

We've been here before, of course, and it only seems novel because the British insist that they are immune to fascism and racism. And indeed, most of the far-right parties usually thrive on the subconscious feeling amongst BNP voters and their ideological kin that they cannot be bad people, as the success of the ludicrous Cabbie manifesto demonstrates.

We're sure that in due course Kilroy will fizzle out without even so much as an Oswald Mosley moment. Maybe he will one day wake up and realise that by then his only real friends are extreme metal musicians. But for the time being, the man has been given a podium to spout this nonsense at the cameras rather than the front of a cab. If the media are going to collude with politicans in preventing the public from hearing the voices of the pig-ignorant men in the street, can they please not make an exception for their orange-faced spiritual leader, slow news day or no.