Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Cut Down On Your Pork Life

A brief message for the good people who've come here looking for evidence of whether Thyrin ATC works. You'll probably have read this from Consumer Health Digest, which doesn't to us look like particularly impartial and sound material.

But we should stress that we have absolutely no time for any diet supplements whatsoever. This stems in part from our belief, upon which we've expounded earlier, that making up ailments is the first step in any snake oil salesman's repertory. And yes, as a professional victim of Hashimoto's disease we're rather wary of encouraging amateurs in their delusions.

But we doubt that a mysterious combination of minerals can boost one's thyroid function. If you think it's low, ask your doctor to check for thyroid function, and if necessary you can take a prescription hormone supplement. If you're not insured, our sympathies. This stuff is all free in the Old Country. But we certainly haven't seen any side effects in our seventeen years of taking the hormone.

We can see the attraction of the thyroid gland to supplement manufacturers, since it has a hazy effect upon metabolism, and is fairly hard to regulate. A perfect little insecurity to play upon. But our advice is get a blood test or go for a goddamn run. Or try the magic gut-shrinking pills from Relacore. Only three magic beans for a month's supply.

On the other hand, we also suggest a Technorati search, which is where any blogger daft enough to try Thyrin is likely to show up.

Anyway, that's quite enough personal information for one day. Coming up, why we gave up Gothamist for lent.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

MoDo Doesn't Expect The Spanish Inquisition

Maureen Dowd writes something very silly in her Times column today. Wishing to berate the Vatican for its slow response to the poorly-sourced airport novel The DaVinci Code, MoDo says, in her awesomely sarcastic way:

But when you think of the history of the Catholic Church, the Vatican is acting with lightning speed. It took the church more than 350 years to reverse its condemnation of Galileo. The Vatican only began an inquisition of the 16th-century Inquisition in 1998.

So, what MoDo is doing here is conflating the Catholic church's willingness to confront its past mistakes, which is poor, and leaves it moving very slowly, and its willingness to take on perceived threats to its authority. Which is fast and brutal. You could check with the non-Catholics of Spain in the 17th century, only there weren't any after the Inquisitors had been round. Pick a heretic, any heretic, watch him (usually him) burn. With alacrity. Jumping down Galileo's throat before he could say "Heliocentric".

These guys don't mess around. They can't afford to, when Catholicism's place in the religious marketplace depends on it being right. This isn't to say that the Roman catholic church is nice, or even right. Just that it couldn't see the point in taking on a book that makes the Day of the Jackal look like the Spiritual Exercises. Their bad, but it's not like Dan Brown has any new religion on offer, except for the "Buy books that make Robert Ludlum turn in his grave" cult.

Ask Monty Python. They knew the score:

Blowing Rails

We submitted our name to the dark nyc bloggers organisation back when we were young bushy-tailed and enthusiastic. In fact, we submitted it twice, one for each station we use, which should give you a reasonable lock on our position. Our excuse is we got caught up in the hysteria of September 2004, and they took a while to get us approved. Anyway, given that they've given us almost as much traffic as searches for Scunthorpe-based boy bands, Prince Harry's girlfriends and Thyrin ATC it's probably best if we add them to our sparse links section.

[Oh, and we have been successful in purchasing our dream phone, courtesy of Ebay. We would point you to the auction and seller, but he knows our real identity...]

No, Meester Bond, We Are Going To Harlem

Yes, we know it has been a few days, but we have been slightly busy. But we shall make up with a culture bomb flecked with moments of high drama and weirdness. The lack of posting is a factor of the volume of culture imbibed, and is also a factor of the home office being occupied. So, with this guest in tow, we unleash the cultchah.

First, the hop-skip to the Brooklyn Museum, which is doing one of the first comprehensive Basquiat shows ever. Basquiat has drifted through our consciousness as a hip-hop pioneer, and for the extraordinary scene in his movie where he creates art on the table in a diner with food, but without using any kind of plate at all. Which just shows that he hadn't graduated to ice cream, in our humble opinion. That'll learn you to Create On the Plate every time.

The art? The same space (roughly), inhabited by Jackson Pollock, one where you can delight in the formlessness, aware that you have to do much more of the interpreting, maybe losing a philistine, or the less patient, on the way. Do we have to talk about it? Can we not talk about how he was Brooklyn-born (one of the reasons we like to count the Bronx out of the birthplace of rap arguments), a junior member of the very same museum? How he maintained a level of skag consumption that would have felled a Ray Charles?

We'll take it from the curator that he was a skilled master of composition, and assume our eyes just can't be led. We did like the sprawling wordy meditations on wide themes, with words to the front. Our favourite work was probably Jawbone Of An Ass, if only for the exuberant name-checks of generals from the Punic Wars. We settled, merch-wise for Eyes And Eggs, because, and we appreciate we might have the cart before the horse here. we think that it reminds us of what Ralph Steadman might have done with less distinguished, and less unpleasant, subjects, had he a bit more compassion. Which is odd, because Basquiat's more text-heavy paitings reminded us of Steadman collaborator Hunter S Thompson's epigramatic tics. Eyes And Eggs is also one of his most straightforward compositions.

You've probably forgotten the mention of the Punic Wars, which is a pity, because it's a wicked-ass segue into the fun of the evening, a performance of Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? featuring Kathleen Turner. Set in fictional New Carthage, ya see. Poor George (Bill Irwin, married to Turner's Martha) self-deprecatingly dates his youth to the Punic Wars. Organised around a series of notional elephants in the room (OK, we're reaching). Anyway, our failing here is almost the opposite of our troubles taking in Basquiat - we're far more impressed by the artistry, the zingers, the banter, the lurid interplay, than in working out why they behave in this monstrous fashion. Yes, we know that the game is to be played, but also to explain why the game is being played. We can't help but think that badminton would have saved them. Special props to the kids, David Harbour as Nick and Mireille Enos as Honey, who don't have anywhere near as good lines (actually, Honey has some fun ones, almost as charming a drunk as we are). Kathleen Turner received many claps, which isn't surprsing since she was almmost as evil as her character in Serial Mom

So, we spill out onto Broadway, miss the Hersheys store being open, and witness a fire above Ruby Foo's (mysteriously absent from the news this morning), and clamber with two companions (one of the Cutesome genus) into an innocuous-looking minivan yellow taxi.

And stumble across the most cranky and sleep-deprived loon ever to gain a hack's license. We're a bit vague on the law covering using the internet to accuse cab drivers of crimes, so we shall refrain from putting his number up here. Besides, we're still a little bit frightened. And may want to see his ass up on a charge. So we'll call him Al, because that was all we could see of his license card.

Al doesn't want to go to Brooklyn. We know, it sucks, but we'd hardly asked him to go to Carnarsie, and we usually tip reasonably well. He doesn't want to take the Manhattan Bridge. We understand, the double parking outside Junior's is awful. What we're looking for is a coherent justification for him scooping up the 4-buck premium for taking the FDR, a longer, but swifter route, much prized by Brooklyn-bound cabbies. Not "the bridge is closed" (it never is - the cockroaches will use it to flee Long Island when the Rapture is upon us). Certainly not a screaming fit saying we can't order him to take a stupid route, and that we should just get another cab. We'd love to, but it's 10.45 in Times Square, and this monkeyclown is gold dust.

He makes a last-ditch attempt to persuade us to get out, swerving wildly onto 42nd, throwing us forward in our seats, and disturbing the cabbie coming up 42nd in the other direction. Starts screaming that it was an honest mistake. We think of asking whether he would consider letting us out gratis. But decide that this is exciting. Which thereafter it isn't, aside from a bit of joshing to get on to the mighty Ari Halberstam offramp from the FDR to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Al takes the directions to the Slope reasonably well, maybe hoping that we will forget about the earlier nutjob episode. We don't, we're getting dropped off round the corner. We pay him, give him a buck, easily within the insulting range. He starts to explain that there was no way he was going to take second avenue to the Manhattan Bridge. We replied that we didn't tell him to take any route, and we didn't like the whole nearly-crashing to make an obscure anti-Brooklyn point. At which point he locks the doors on us. We've seen this in Bond movies. Don't have a PPK, or a lead shoe. So we start shouting, at which point he gets out, pretends that the child-lock acts a bit funny, and lets us out, which given how fifth avenue in Brooklyn now has a bustling cafe scene even at 11.30, he has little choice but to do. We bid him good night, even wishing him to sleep well, by mentioning his license number repeatedly.

That's craziness for you - some of us realise that that playing crazy and being crazy are hard to separate. But even fewer of us can turn it off once its started. Selah. Next week will be rather light. There's a new dawn coming in niche financial publishing, trust us.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Nok Nok Nok-ing On Heaven's Door

We are currently attempting to break our Ebay virginity, although we have been hatefully busy today as well, trust us. It's just we've fallen in love with a Nokia phone.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Strange Gildings

This morning, Union Square has been turned into some kind of rodeo arena, complete with real hay, and real defecating horses, and huge long trailers shaped like space-cigars. Women's Entertainment seemed to be in some way involved. Must say, though, that clambering around steaming piles of horse manure was the least we needed after the subway fire this morning that turned the Seventh Avenue subway station into the Fall of Saigon. For the sake of accuracy, we must stress that it was the 2,3,4, and 5 lines that were interrupted. The Q train was just flooded with pitiful refugees.

We must, as ever, thank NY1 for the heads-up, as well as for springing for a new wardrobe for Dalton Ross, who has gone from being dressed like one of the pool-players at Alibi, to being got up like his namesake, top limey film reviewer and Russ Meyer fan Jonathan Ross. Sparkly.

Read in this month's New York magazine about the dark contradiction at the heart of the Cablevision cable TV empire, in the form of the father-son Dolan team. Do we think that the article made us understand why they oppose the stadium? No, it made us more than a little angry that a spoiled brat, an ex-substance abuser that uses musicians that work for his entertainment venues to be his own backing band, who is in the habit of throwing tantrums at management, could have been the recipient of our monthly cable check for the 12 months we lived in Prospect Heights. The fact that the real suckers are the good people of Greenwich and the tonier parts of Long Island that lie under the thumb of Cablevision, and pay for the extras (we didn't) is of little comfort.

Plus, if you can still read it, the Times piece about limeys that live in Park Slope is obviously required reading. Here's the choice quote:

Instead, Brits here, who are drawn by love as much as work - many have American spouses - want that oldest immigrant dream of all, to assimilate, raise their children as Americans, and lead the quiet life.

That and the fact that your British multinational these days offers too little money to its peons for them live anywhere but a cupboard in the East Village, or over the bridge. We love Brooklyn, and contrary to the Times' whimsy-peddler Ben Gibberd, have frequently, and messily, rocked out without going anywhere near the Manhattan Bridge. True about the Cutesome angle, though. The Dean of Limeyblogging has spoken.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Doom, Gloom And Tomb

So, the new Nine Inch Nails single, The Hand That Feeds is out now, and "has begun airplay on radio stations worldwide". Of course, we have been spurned in our quest for tickets for our former idols, so what follows is a nasty, incoherent, piece of polemic, rather than a reasoned and objective review.

But it's not very exciting, to be honest, sounding like nothing so much as an old Filter record. An awkward conclusion, since, as you can read from the linked reviews at Amazon, Filter were widely regarded as Nine Inch Nails clones. But Filter took one part of the NIN formula, and concentrated on it exclusively, and it was the treated screaming over 4/4 beat wirth crunchy guitars bit. NIN, as we've tirelessly insisted, can be excused the slightly gauche and over-the-top lyrical content by virtue of how inventivve they are musically. The niche instruments, peculiar keys, strange shifts in timing, and textured sounds. Clever.

And then Mr. Reznor comes out with a song that sounds like Republica fronted by a slightly grumpy bloke. And the video, despite some slightly clever shifts in camera angle, lacks tortured monkeys, murder, and the rest of the weird and wonderful elements we've come to love from NIN videos. And he's looking old. Pray the rest of the album is more interesting and that this is the unit shifter that Nirvana foretold.

We will allow that the new stuff is much more snappy, and that a less bloated ouevre will make for a less bloated live show than the one we saw in Brixton six years back. But we're unlikely to be able to confirm this, since the tickets have all been bought by lazy monkeyclowns in the heartland looking to diversify their revenue out of spamming.

A quick note about the Terri Schiavo case. Vile though it is to watch DeLay and sundry other far-right organisations make hay out of this tussle, we urge you to take a look at what Nat Hentoff wrote about it in the Village Voice a few years back. We don't agree with all of it, but we note that some very impassioned disabled rights advocates have also been following the case closely, and worry that withdrawing feeding is very difficult to apply in a clear and compassionate fashion.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Fortress Blogland

Partial answer to how the INS views blogs, via Wonkette:

'You can't make a living from blogging. Stop lying and tell me why you're really here.'

We'll have to assume the answer to our last question, as to whether an I-Visa might be forthcoming, is "get lost, you Monster Munch-stuffed unwashed mass."

Friday, March 18, 2005

Wan Two Free Four?

So, it looks like we might have found something to enjoy about Hong Kong, at last. The Wan Chai Computer Centre is the temple of tech that makes your average Circuit City look like a pitiful shed full of half-bright underinformed salesmen. Which we dare say it is, but the WCCC is a warrenlike collection of small electronic stores that encourages comparison-shopping and dealmaking. We were ostensibly there to buy a replacement firewire cable for our iPod, but the pospect of buying a 1GB flash drive the size of my little finger proved to be too alluring. This gentleman does not seem to have liked the experience, and he's probably right that if you don't know what you want you will probably get something peculiar, but the sheer number of shiny things was very intoxicating, and we wished we had known of it last time we were here, because we got rather badly stung on some portable speakers on Nathan Road in Kowloon.

But we performed our functions todaay with relative ease, despite our hotel being 30 minute's walk from the nearest subway. This on top of one of those epic, aimless, bacchanalian rambles, that managed to take in the party spots of Central, Wan Chai, Lan Kwai Fong, and Western. Along the way we heard many fine Filipino-staffed cover bands play Two Princes, playeed unwitting wing man for an amoroous anime voiceover artist, and ended up in front of a bok choi and pork shack at 5.30 in the morning with a psychotically drunk rugby player/farmer from New Zealand. Which is god's way of telling you to go to sleep.

Bah, it'll still be good to get back. Tomorrow night we rock Prospect Heights.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Sevens The Tragic Number

Take the same grimy, intimidating and barely functioning Hong Kong we've all grown to know and love, add in a hotel in the far west of the city, off of public transport, and then fill to the brim with rugby players. Yeah, that nasty. Wish us luck.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Insane NY1 Tidbits

NY1 has decided to send a correspondent to Jerusalem to follow mayor Mike as he represents the US at the opening of a Holocaust museum. Mr. Bloomberg sounds much less nasal and much more aw-shucks, than normal. "Live updates" following later today.

Save The Plaza has packed more pitiful shots of children that will miss the Plaza hotel than you'd think possible. Pity The Children! Not the Plaza! Although the tea is rather fine.

Ads for rather shady-looking diet-loss supplement Thyrin ATC. We'd like to discuss the merits of this quack potion, which is a "thyroid-specific adjunct", that might help us lose weight, but it has not bothered to put any FAQ up. Needless to say, and as a slightly overweight person with lowered thyroid function, we are overjoyed at the prospect of the desperate and lazy non-thyroid suffers crowding out us desperate and lazy thyroid sufferers from doctor's clinics.

Off to Hong Kong today. More pictures and despair to follow.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Fight The Power That Never Ends

Tim Brown, the awesomely intemperate Kentucky native that was into E-zines before anyone else, and is editor-in-chief of the Last Word, has a self-published book, The Fight That Never Ends, available for purchase. We will not at this stage be buying a copy, although we are sure it will be a rollicking read. If you hate school uniforms, and got beaten up at school.

Plus it gave us the second tenuous Public Enemy reference in one day. Yeah!

Court Can We Get A Witness

The Public Enemy reference, kids, is for a post defending the ways of lawyers. Lawyers are, as we know, absolutely awesome, particularly one of them. Lives with us, and all that. And we've noticed the tendency of conservatives to use the opposition of lawyers as a perfectly good argument for a proposition, which is plenty lazy, but dovetails neatly with some people's prejudices.

A prime example here is this post from Todd Zywicki, which the Instapundit feels obliged to hold up as one of the few cogent defences of the bankruptcy reform bill. In it, todd essentially says that the Bill might have its backers at the credit card companies, but that the bankruptcy law lobby is actively opposed to the Bill and has been expending furious amounts of capital to ballance out the credit industry's influence. Now Todd doesn't dredge up any examples of this, but he says that:

Because fewer bankruptcy filings means less money in lawyers' pockets

We were blearily swigging coffee this morning, and were cheered by the appearance of Annika Pergament, whose introduction "I'm Annika Pergament" at the start of the Fortune Business report, convinced us for nigh on three years that she was called Monica. Anyway, Annika was giving us a little precis of the Bill,, which was a good idea since we haven't really got a more detailed idea of what it does than outraged reactions.

Annika seemed to be saying that one's relationship to median income levels determines which route you can take to file, but that even under the more onerous regime you still went in front of a judge and got a repayment schedule, and we''re assuming you still get an element of relief. But we're also assuming that there's plenty of work here for lawyers, and that only if you believe that there are legions of frivolous filings will there be less. Those that are left would seem to fairly lucrative.

What annoys us are that we imagined that maintaining very intrusive personal information on potential borrowers was required to help credit card companies make these decisions, and that they understood and could price the relevant risks into credit card accounts. We were very frustrated by the inability of large financial instituions, particularly those with whom we'd had dealings on another continent, to grant us credit shortly after we'd arrived. But we understood that credit checks were a part of how they ran their business.

But if credit card companies decide to enlist the government to manage their non-performing loan exposures, we have to ask whether all thiis information is necessary. We would probably go further than Mr. Drum in reforming identity/information regulation, and institute an extremely high bar for companies seeking information of this nature.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Memorandum Of Underwhelming

Perhaps the most unfortgivable aspect of this four-day drinking jag has been our lack of attention to the wider world. So while we were putting the finishing touches to the World's Worst Pub Crawl (the block between O'Connor's and Freddy's) we finally remembered something about a stadium. Probably the extremely handsome posters for the Harr-A-Thon to benefit the folks at Develop Don't Destroy.

The event that should have penetrated our alcoholic haze was the announcement of a memorandum of understanding between the city and Mr. Ratner about building a new stadium over my neighborhood. Suggest that you go to DDDB to get an idea of all of the juicy incentives that the city and state will be flinging at the project.

There will be the cash subsidies, there will be the use of emminent domain, there will be property tax holidays, and there will be the use of tax exempt bonds. This last is an interesting angle, one we have a track record in following.The city has handed the project over to the Empire State Development Corporation for the purposes of permitting the monstrosity, and to make sure is is pursued in the hacktacular manner of the hacktacular state government machinery. As far as we can tell, the development might be eligible for Liberty Bonds, which have had a chequered history, and might not be allowed for private projects.

But the bonds won't have a government guarantee, so Mr. Ratner will have to find a way to enhance the underlying economics of the project. We hope, at least, that potential bond buyers will be a little sceptical of Ratner's ability to create viable freestanding projects. This is the point where get to mention the futuristic, but awful, Metrotech Center and the awful, but not very pleasant, Atlantic Center. We can tell that the bonds will not be guaranteed by the non-profit holding company that the public authorities will use to own the site. And there's been a growing recognition amongst investors that stadium projects are not always solid prospects. Now it would probably be best if this thing did not get to the financing stage, but we do hope that Ratner's slew of dreadful developments might become a hurdle to raising the necessary cash.

In other news, Eliot Spitzer endorses the Brooklyn arena. Some commentators are outraged that Spitzer, who likes campaign contributions as much as any other politican, and who doesn't have to worry about antagonising the Dolans, like he does on the West Side Stadium, might be taking this position. We say that unless much broader swathes of Brooklyn opinion swing against the stadium, he'll be happy to take this line, and most Democrats will join suit.

Saturday, March 12, 2005


Hey DJ!
Originally uploaded by Gringcorp.
It's not big, it's not clever, and it's been running our life since Wednesday. So much so that we have not even been taking in any music. But we must say that we'd have been curious about why the Morricone Youth decided that they wanted to play the suite of corporate apartments that is the Flatotel. Ooops, scratch that, we're confusing it with another set up - the Flatotel is currently claiming to be a boutique operation.

Morricone Youth's name is quite delightful, and just a little bit smug, hipster soundtrack music with a little nod to Sonic Youth's hugely self-indulgent Madonna cover album. But playing in hotels? Artists should, in our humble opinion, be more selective about their audience, although such music/lodging tomfoolery can most certainly benefit the owners. We have thoroughly tired of one colleague's praise for the Maritime Hotel.

So why, then, were we to be found at 1.30am in the Tribeca Grand, goosing tourists, drinking gin, and taking pictures of a very annoyed-looking DJ who wasn't Tricia Romano? The long answer involves a search for post-9/11 coherence, and the site of the legendary Baby Doll Lounge, taking in various loisada establishments and the limey bartender at South's. The short answer is that we were drunk. And we'll do it all over again. Stay nimble.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

We Come To Eat Your Young

So, do we think that limeys enrich the media of the US? The New York Post seems not to think so, even though their editor is a UK tabloid alumnus. Yes, we know that the Post and, indeed Gawker are both refering to UK-sourced calumny-mongers rather than incredibly cerebral financial hacks, but we still think that the Penny Dreadful should at least stop making nasty visa comments.

Did get us thinking, though, about the current controversy over how a blogger can get White House press credentials. The answer is that they can. But has any blogger been insane enough to ask the USCIS for an I-Type media visa yet?

Schrecklich Schwein

The Jets' owner Woody Johnson just cropped up on NY1 calling New York City "a nasty place to do business". We imagine here that by "business" Mr. Johnson means "shaking down municipal authorities for below-market real estate prices by convincing them that my building is an essential public work". Which is certainly different to the other business in the City, which consists of using markets to buy and sell things.

Pat Kiernan just informed us he's got a cameo in the new movie set at the UN, the Interpreter. Anyway, damned if this is turning into a liveblog, and a low-impact day job session beckons.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Opera Isn't Over Till Knebworth Gets Referenced

We're bored, we're grumpy, we just came out of a nasty bout of the day job, and maybe the cold we're nursing is screwing with our cortex. In any case, it's time to disagree with the Instapundit again. Which is a tad unfair because Glenn appears to be wearing the red-and-white cape of the Master of Levantine Whimsy today.

Resplendent on his site is a skinny young lady standing out of a crowd of Hezbollah supporters, sporting the enthusiasm, and dress sense, of an early-80's Genesis fan.

But it is fascinating how slowly the leftier blogs took to the story, sniffing around, taking stock of the process. We wouldn't call it grudging, but it's possible that they shared our ancient assumptions that the place was a nasty little tinderbox.

And, of course, now we have Mr Drum, who we would probably eat after Glenn if crashed in the Andes (although we mean no disrespect by this comparison) with some polling data from Lebanon. And it mostly says that paranoia is a many-splendoured thing, and that the Druze really are as cuddly as they first appear.

We don't quite buy the superior numbers of the Muslim demonstration, since if there's one thing that political parties with paramilitary wings are good at it's getting people to go where you tell them. But can we admit that calling one set of demonstrators the thwarted will of the entire Lebanese people when the other side have more bodies and more guns might cause you some trouble?

Monday, March 07, 2005

Unleash The Monkeyclowns

We are very impressed by the ability of the current administration to turn the lives and prosperity of millions of people worldwide into exercises in obscure debating points. The contraception/abortion stance at the UN womens' conferences? So far, so sophomoric. And in this latest "IN... YOUR... FACE!" piece of insanity, Bush realises that appointing the former puppeteer of a dirty war in Central America as ambassador to the UN did not make the point that the UN is, ya know irrelevant, well enough. So he brings in this gentleman:

"If the U.N. Secretariat Building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference."


Sunday, March 06, 2005

New Wein In Old Bottles

We have to say that the Weinstein brothers, of Miramax fame and overheated Times profile, are a rather comical pair. The brothers, former rock promoters, would have had their asses kicked by top Led Zep manager Peter Grant for even attempting such a lame goon squad act. But then we have no desire to make a movie, ever.

In Hollywood, as Get Shorty pointed out, they lapped that act up. The Weinstein's genius, the tantrums, the half-assed vendettas, the manipulations, seemed to lie in careering across the line that separated commerce from thuggery. Note, we do not say commerce and art. But having read the lumpy and somewhat unruly collection of "Harvey yelled at me" anecdotes that is Peter Biskind's Down and Dirty Pictures we reckon that independent film appealed to the Weinsteins mean streak because of its abundance of sensitive souls and cheap product, rather than to their artistic leanings.

Do we think that the Weinsteins kicked off the commercialisation of independent film? Nope, we think they borrowed it. Their rule lasted about as long as the Five families lacked interest. The tantrums, the endless butchery of meandering directors' cuts, were the only way to run your distributor if Daddy wasn't around. As soon as they brought Daddy back in, they were doomed.

In other media, Gawker manfully faces down Fred Durst's lawsuit over the filthy video that they hosted for a while. Little did Durst's briefs realise that top force for humanity and decency on the internet Felix Salmon had prevailed upon them to take it down. Take that Sidekick filth-mongers everywhere!

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Incandescent Wibble Rage

Our apologies for not posting yesterday, we were busy at the day job and being incandescent with rage. Our biggest beef lies with the scumbags that have decided that scalping Nine Inch Nails tickets over the internet somehow represents a decent and honourable way to earna living. Needless to say, we didn't get them, and paying 300 "sheets" to the scumbags seems a tad steep.

We cheered up for a while, thanks to the tempura-fired chicken sushi at Geido, and an invitation to speak a Columbia Business School (are they mental? We had to brag).

And then we stretched out in front of the majesty that is Martha, Inc based on the hatchet job by Post business writer Christopher Byron. Mr. B did not write the screenplay WE PRAY. Cybil Shepherd, as Martha, decides that making a camp classic in the vein of her late lamented sitcom might be the only way out. The truncated runtime, inexplicable references, decision that all investment bankers have to be British, and clunky dialogue all made us decide to follow Lifetime much more carefully. But it did neatly highlight the entire Martha dichotomy: was she this greedy, shouty, thread-count obsessing haridan, or a giggly, warm-hearted woman? why couldn't she be both? Clumsy jump-cutting made the choice very apparent.

Then to Bill Maher, who featured Ward Churchill, a professor of ethnic studies who was decided to make the point that a society's elite can sometimes be seen to be complicit in its failings, by noting that the workers (to use his distinction, the white-collar ones) in the World Trade Center were "little Eichmanns".

When pressed on this point, Churchill noted that Eichmann was in charge of the timetables of genocide, and that many of capitalism's worker bees facilitate misery elsewhere (Gringcorp writes abour refineries and hydroelectric dams, so will stay silent here). But the distinction is tenuous, since if you want to play up the banality of evil, you don't reference its posterchild.

Watching Maher drag these conclusions out of Churchill was painful to watch, although we lack the umbrage of Jeff Jarvis. We couldn't help but think that he was a tad too inarticulate to be making such provocative points, or indeed that his poor delivery might be the reason for his predicament. We can't help but agree with top Gumby Fresh commenter the Instapundit that he probably wasn't good enough to get tenure.

The most awkward moment was when the brother of one of the 9/11 victims came on to talk about how idiotic he thought Churchill's point was, but how we had to have this discussion, and how Churchill shouldn't be hounded out of public life. He looked pretty upset, but managed to articulate the fairly simple "the guys at Cantor Fitzgerald were good people" point in a very subdued fashion. Made it difficult for Churchill to say "there are plenty of people you'd like to have a beer with that make bad things possible," although he could have.

Still if you're relying for an aggrieved relative to be reasonable and articulate when a tenured professor can barely get a a sentence out you've got a sordid little debate, make no mistake.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Devilry Social

We promised ages ago to give you our definitive take on social security, and could give you our potted take on how it is impossible to make scads of money by putting it in stocks or how there's a reason why so many banks are increasing the resources they put into money management (it's the fees, silly).

But one thing about the whole debate strikes as very weird, and we'll get to it in a round about way. Via the English experience. About the same time as the US, the UK introduced National Insurance, and you still pay a national insurance element in your paycheck. In fact, we still do. And there's still a vague correllation between putting money into the system and the amount of money you're able to claim, or more precisely the ability to claim some benefits. But there is very little talk of a trust fund, and little of the actuarial gloss that the performance attracts.

There are still a huge number of problems with the UK pension system, but National Insurance is no longer really considered a ringfenced, separate entity. It's considered a government obligation, and national insurance obligations as part of general taxation revenue, in practice, if not in principle. And the reason this is considered unremarkable is that the redistributive effects of National Insurance are well understood.

In the fight over social security, liberals have been very disciplined. They usually characterise the conservative case as an irrational hatred of the New Deal in all of its forms. The normally evil Chris Suellentrop hits upon a good point when he says that the basis of the liberal attachment to social security is that they like its redistributive effects. He's being grossly unfair by not pointing out that they might also have a visceral dislike of old people dying in poverty. And by not saying that the republicans' basic interest in private accounts is that it would be a slightly more regressive system that would allow high earners to keep more off their money.

All thefightingover the system seems to stem from an unwillingness to stick up for the idea of rich people giving up some of their income to make sure poor people don't become the victims of misfortune or fecklessless. Not sure why, because we're not hideously rich, but it seems that we had a go at ignoring vast disparities in wealth, and then stopped it when bloodshed or massive class upheaval threatened. Maybe better munitions technology makes this less likely, but we would rather not be around to find out.

Coming tomorrow: Syrians, can't you just, like stop fighting? Wouldn't that be awesome?

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Santa After The Ninetieth Sherry...

..is not a pretty sight. And neither is the patron sain of solid unpretentious cooking, the Olympian Delia Smith. Delia, as well as being a fine maker of toad-in-the-hole, and the nearest England has to imprisoned minx Martha Stewart, also owns a football club, Norwich City.

Pace the Guardian, Delia may have had a couple of fine ales in the directors box, and decided to use Carrow Road like her own karaoke bar. Blaring out half-formed exhortations before she realised how silly she sounded. Imagine Martha saying this and you've pretty much got it:

This is a message for possibly the best supporters in the world. We need a 12th man here. Where are you? Where are you? Let's be 'avin you. Come on!"

Excellent. Celebrity chef lunacy on the scale of Paris Hilton beckons. We will never look at a sunday roast the same way again.

Duck And Carruthers

Several of you (well several, if we separate conscious and subconscious minds) have expressed concern for the safety of Scunthorpe megastar Grant Harvey, member of Tiida, and currently residing in 50 Cent's stable. 50, as all clued-in residents of NYC will know, was involved in a hot lead fracas outside Hot 97's offices (flaccid NYT here, semi-rocksteady Allhiphop.com here and proud Gumby Fresh hyah!).

To the best of our knowledge, Mr. Harvey, largely a soul sideline for the lisping lothario, was not involved in the events surrounding the shooting. And neither were any of the people standing by the shooting victim, 50, or the staff of Hot 97. In fact they were all on their way to Myers of Keswick to score some rare Monster Munch. Anyone that says otherwise is a liar, and apparently savors the taste of cold, hard sidewalk.

But we'd say that for all his Lincolnshire survival skillz, being in 50's crew is not a steady or relaxing occupation. And 50 loves to fight with everyone. Even the ones with guns. Which is just in-SAYNE. People with guns is why no-one starts fights in New York bars. More importantly, 50 seems to be so preoccupied with breathing life into the careers of abysmal rappers that he has neglected to provide Tiida with a decent web site. Which is why a google search produces so few results.

In fact 50's concern for his protege is so scant, that we might even begin to suspect that the thing was all a desperate career-boosting hoax by a pair of middling soul journeymen. Still the episode i's by far Gumby Fresh's top referring search term. So we'll flog it till the glue factory beckons.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Prim-er Beef

Actually, forget the 50/The Game hip-hop feud, check out the liberal slugfest between the guy who's guest blogging on Talking Points Memo and Eschaton's Atrios. They say it's over Joe Lieberman, but there seems to be something more visceral behind it than than a Connecticut centrist could ever inspire. Like they duelled over a woman at military college.

It's Wah!

Ok, we are starting to get a tad worried about the publicity to which 50 Cent exposes himself, not to mention the hot, flying lead. We seem to remember he had promised to take an ex-chicken processor from Scunthorpe under his wing, protect him from the vagaries of the music business. But here 50 is, conveniently close to a hail of bullets at the Danger Central that is the studios of Hot 97.

We suggest you get a flavour of the beef at the article linked above. But we have spoken to one of our sources, and the young man causing all the trouble, who goes by the frankly terrible moniker of The Game is apparently "a complete b*tch, and Dr Dre had to beg 50 to rescue his record." Having listened to the shambles that is "Candy Shop" (and watched its, er, sweet video), we are genuinely terrified that an a capella version of Game's work might one day hit the shops.

Anyway, there is a terrible squabbling amongst the talentless no-marks that make up 50's crew. Think of it as like the aftermath of the death of Alexander the Great, only Alexander's still alive, and wandering around a mansion pawing models, and the nearest thing to a Ptolemy is Lloyd Banks.

The accursed Nine Inch Nails servers are overloaded.

Don't Drink The Water

We have been steering clear of the Times recently, often because we lack the time to hunt down the idiocies that lurk in the Metro and Style sections, or to rake over whatever Bumiller or Nagourney have been drooling this week. Plus we don't like linking to their registered users only site, since we'd hate to think that having a password to a site was a prerequisite for reading Gumby Fresh, which tries to be more holistic, inclusive and catholic in its approach than the Gray Lady.

But we have a bit of time on our hands, and were perusing the business travel section where we stumbled on this nugget. In theory, it's a fun idea, if not a hugely original one. Like, what do those reeelly famous chefs eat when they're not cooking? Like, bet it's twinkies dipped in caviar, or something.

So, we get a crudely bolted together survey of whichever celebrity chefs will stoop to plug their restaurants in front of the jet-trash expense account set. And it's awfully reassuring to know that Thomas Keller loves In-N-Out Burger, or that most of them seem to subsist on oatmeal.

Wolfgang Puck, though, cannot even be that game. Wolfgang, see, doesn't like to let go. So, no wine for him at lunch. And no processed sugars or saturated fats for him either:

"For a sure bet, Mr. Puck's simple advice is to dine in the best upscale restaurants, which are easy to find by consulting restaurant guides, Web sites and food magazines."

That's right, Wolfgang's secret chef tip for eating on the road is to pick up a Zagats and pick the best one you can. Or, go to this excellent website! Why thank you, swami. We suppose we shoud be thankful he refrained from plugging his mall franchise.

We much prefer what Anthony Bourdain, nutter author of Kitchen Confidential had to say on civilian culinary life:

What I want to eat is home cooking, somebody's - anybody's - mother's or grandmother's food. A simple pasta pomodoro made with love, a clumsily thrown-together tuna casserole, roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, all of this is pure exotica to me,

We bear this in mind every time we mentalise a kitchen range.