BEST NEW TREND IN ADVERTISING
“YOU’RE A LOSER AND YOUR DREAMS AMOUNT TO NOTHING”
Just don’t do it. Some ad spots we took note of during that fortnight
of athletic superlativism we call the Olympics:
— Eight-year-old black boy plays a lone game of hoops in the driveway.
He is determined. He is focused. He can’t shoot for shit. After tossing up a few bricks and barely
skimming the rim he returns to his laptop to watch footage of Stephon Marbury or some such player
driving past several defenders for a reverse slam dunk. Inspired anew, he returns to the court.
He dribbles. He drives. He still can’t shoot for shit. Poor little boy, so young and talentless.
— En route to shooting the rapids, a quartet of thirtysomething
males talks tough as they commandeer their kayak-laden SUV through backwoods terrain. Their bragging
crescendos as they reach the river’s edge. Glancing at the rapids, however, their puffery peters
out. The leader utters some let’s-not-and-say-we-did drivel; others agree. They retreat to their
SUV and beat it home. These are not men. These are sissy bitches.
— Out on the ocean on her longboard, an attractive, pre-menopausal
brunette—presumably a hot little fuck when she was younger—waits patiently for
a wave. Meanwhile, a voiceover delivers crusty 90s-era empowerment cant: You always rise to
the challenge. You believe your best years are ahead of you. A beat later, she’s walking up the
beach, surfboard under her arm, looking smug as all hell. Placing the board upright in the sand next
to several others, she steps away and then cringes in embarrassment as they all come tumbling down
like dominos. Think you’re hip? Get a clue, grandma.
Dreams of heroism and achievement are so last century. Knowing this,
the ad guys figure they’ll curry a little favor by not bullshitting you. Whether hawking high-speed
DSL, the new Lincoln Navigator or cholesterol-reducing Lipitor, the humor in these spots and others
like them proceeds from the premise that you really aren’t as great as you think you are. Not by a long
shot, buddy. Keep an eye out for humiliation and failure. It’s today’s unique selling proposition.
BEST NEWSPAPER WAR
AMNEW YORK VS. METRO
Please dispose of properly. Not since the Post and the News
tried to convince an uncaring public that they weren’t interchangeable have two dailies battled
so fervently for readers who just couldn’t give a fuck.
We already have six major dailies: the New York Times, the Wall
Street Journal, the Daily News, the New York Post, Newsday and the
Sun. For the many gaps left by these half-dozen dinosaurs—say, in cultural and political
coverage—we have three major weeklies: us, the Village Voice and the New York
Observer. For whatever gaps are still left, Al Gore gave us the internet.
Which is the key to this latest media war. According to most media analysts
over the age of 50, the precious 21-to-34 demographic is abandoning newsprint in favor of online
news. In a desperate bid to stop the readership hemorrhage, major newspaper chains are launching
youth-market free dailies. In Chicago, there are two: the Chicago Tribune’s RedEye and
the Sun Times’ Red Streak.
This past year, New York’s news landscape breathed deeply to let squeeze
in a pair of its own free dailies: amNew York and Metro. Both are funded by the deep
pockets of a larger news chain, and both are seeking those golden 21-to-34-year-old eyeballs.
Both are thin newspapers filled with wire-service reports, infographics and large pull-quotes;
they’re meant to be read in the course of a subway ride, then discarded.
amNew York‘s primary investor is Tribune Company, which counts
Newsday and Hoy among its local properties, and several newspapers and dozens
of television stations in the larger stable. Its publisher is fiftysomething Russel Pergament,
who was quoted in the Times as saying, “People used to think that in order to be important,
a newspaper has to be thick. But the thicker the paper is, the less likely it is to be read.”
By that measure, Pergament’s venture is a runaway success. His newspaper
isn’t very thick, and it’s far from being important. It is, in fact, an embarrassment, the worst
piece of newsprint shit this city may have ever seen. The writing—when not culled from the
wires—would give the worst hack cause to celebrate his talent; and the art direction is non-existent,
making it the ugliest paper this side of the Post. We’d hate to blame Pergament alone, however:
Tribune is a faceless behemoth, precisely the wrong kind of company to appeal to younger
adults who, if you believe those over-50 media analysts, barely even know how to read.
In the other corner, there’s the New York Metro, the latest addition
to the internationally known family of dailies published by Metro International, S.A. Our Metro
boasts three dozen siblings in such places as Paris, Seoul, Athens and Santiago, Chile, with domestic
sisters residing in Boston and Philadelphia.
Though Metro is faring worse in terms of advertising sales—or
so it would seem from a casual inspection of the two papers—it’s by far the superior product.
Perhaps it’s the international pedigree, or actually having an art director who knows what he’s
doing. Either way, Metro is a pleasure to read.
Sure, it has flaws. The cheeky branding of each section (“Stuff,” “Voices,”
“Essentials”) is cloying and amateurish, and they had the bad sense to partner with TimeOut
for their listings. A disclaimer on the op-ed page claims that “Metro has no official opinions,”
which is fine and good—a pretense of editorial objectivity is still laudable—but
such ham-fisted declarations smack of immature idealism spouted by a stoned collegiate editorial
board. We’d guess they’re desperately afraid of political classification, which can alienate
But Metro‘s biggest problem isn’t editorial. The distribution
is horrible. amNew York may be a company filled with junior-varsity rejects, but their
circulation is aces. The street hawkers push copies into everyone’s face, and the boxes are always
stocked. Whenever we seek out a copy of Metro—and we do seek it out—we find
the boxes stuffed either with old issues or, on more than one occasion, trash from the street.
We’d like to wish both papers well, but it’s against our professional
instincts. Instead, we urge improvements. To our wannabe peers at amNew York: Good luck
spit-shining your hunk of dogshit. To Metro: Can we get our copies delivered?
BEST SPAM HEADERS (NO SEX)
“Abolish your bills the Christian way”
“why did you tell everybody i had aids?”
BEST SPAM HEADERS (SEX)
“pump your girlfriend with semen!”
“Sex that hurts – Stretch Till they Squeal!!!”
“drill your girlfriend’s asshole to the max! intrinsic”
“swap some anus tonight”
LOYALTY DAY, MAY 1
May Day, May Day. At first, it all seemed like just another lame internet
The Congress, by Public Law 85-529, as amended, has designated May
1 of each year as “Loyalty Day”… a day of celebration and reaffirming our allegiance to our
Nation. NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby
proclaim May 1, 2004, as Loyalty Day. I call upon all the people of the United States to join in support
of this national observance. I also call upon government officials to display the flag of the United
States on all government buildings on Loyalty Day.
On May 1?
The purpose of the holiday, went the internet gag, was to “encourage
citizens to demonstrate their commitment to our country by supporting our military, serving each
other, and teaching our young people about our history and values.”
Then came the punchline: It was real.
Loyalty Day will soon be appearing on a 2005 calendar near you. According
to the presidential proclamation that announced its birth, Loyalty Day is meant to provide an opportunity
for increased activity for the newly minted “USA Freedom Corps.”
What’s next? A mandatory citizen’s guidebook titled Famous and
Cherished Sayings of George W. Bush? Wait—we take that joke back. The last time we made
a joke about “what’s next,” we got Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Healthy Forests Initiative.
BEST REASON NOT
TO GO TO IRAQ
We’re going to Disneyland. Yugoslavian joke from the late 90s: What
will Yugoslavia be called in 10 years? Answer: Belgrade.
If the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was the Incredible Shrinking
Post-Communist State, Iraq is the Incredible Shrinking Liberated Country. NGO workers and contractors
aren’t just getting bags thrown over their heads along empty stretches of highway outside Fallujah
anymore. They’re getting kidnapped in broad daylight in upscale neighborhoods in Baghdad while
their supposed bodyguards sit on the couch and eat Ramen, watch CNN and pretend not to notice. And
you thought it was hard finding good help on the Upper East Side.
Whatever adventure itch may lure us to Afghanistan or Pakistan in the
coming year, Iraq got crossed off the list on the day Nick Berg supplanted Paris Hilton as the hot
download. Of all the ways to spend the last few seconds of life, getting your head hacked off like
a cow is the most horrifying for us to think about. We’d rather be drawn and quartered, even if it took
five times as long. We’d rather get the water treatment, bees, bamboo needles, multiple gunshot
wounds, rocket through the windshield—just don’t push us onto our knees and start reciting
the Koran while we wait for that first blow, that two-inch spine-crushing wound that won’t sever
enough nerves to blunt the pain between our ears as the blood spills out our neck.
But the worst thing about getting your head chopped off is the oxygen
that often keeps the brain functioning even after your noggin has been completely severed from
the body. Humans can’t run around like chickens, but we can think. Before finally banning the guillotine,
the French documented this with hundreds of examples. There is even one story about a Jacobin during
the Terror who, when his executioner held up his head by the hair, managed to mouth a slogan as he hung
there. Literally a talking head.
Who knows if Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his boys will succeed in driving
all the infidels out of Iraq, but with the beheading videos, they kept us out. We’ll see y’all on Space
BEST TERROR TARGETS
THE NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE
Just tip us off first. We’re not saying “Blow the fuckers up.” We’re
just saying that Citibank’s parent company Citigroup is the largest banking conglomerate in the
world. They’ve transcended national boundaries, and they’re not on “our” side: Citigroup was
implicated and fined by the Treasury Department in 2003 for financial connections and “dealing
in property” with groups like al Qaeda and Hamas. They also made shady money propping up WorldCom
and Enron through the bankruptcies that devastated the companies’ U.S. workers.
So then, they’re on “their” side? Not quite: Citi is the number-one investor
in fossil fuel development and has major defense investments as well, meaning they’re a major war
profiteer in the Middle East, which explains why they’ve become a target of Arab rage. Other standing
allegations include investment in ecologically unsound oil drilling and rainforest mining,
“predatory lending” in low-income urban areas and investment scandals connected to CEO Sanford
They’re also major proponents of global outsourcing and the temporary
workforce, dragging down American working conditions and underpaying foreign labor while top
execs pull eight-digit salaries. Adding insult to injury, their current “Live Richly” promotional
campaign touts their attentiveness to the needs of the middle-class worker, encouraging the good
living and material comforts that will supposedly come from dealing with their institution. Except
that like any other multinational investment bank (see also “JP Morgan-Chase”), they could care
less about accounts holding anything less than five grand, nickel-and-diming low-end customers
to death with custodial fees to make sure your money will inevitably become theirs.
Citi have sold their corporate soul to Mammon and will do just about anything
to keep money flowing straight to the top.
As for the New York Stock Exchange, where do we start? How can we finish?
Stock speculation at the turn of the last century led to a little economic bust historians like to
call the Great Depression. Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped the Feds from handing the economic
reins over to a gang of glorified bookies. The stock market has brought us the dubious joys of junk
bonds, S&L scandals, bursting tech bubbles, insider trading, 401Ks and other contemporary
horrors, though its real legacy is culpability in promoting the single most dangerous assumption
of American capitalism: the need for constant, unrestrained growth.
In order to stay profitable on the Big Board, traded companies must constantly
expand business; when they plateau, the real fun begins. Companies either engage in a Russian roulette
of book-cooking or mergers and acquisitions, creating artificial expansion, downsizing the
workforce and hoping the bottom doesn’t fall out when earnings don’t increase. Or, they become
branded behemoths like McDonald’s, Nike, Citi, muscling into foreign markets and spreading so-called
“American” culture where, frankly, it looks like it’s not wanted.
NYSE, landmark that it may be, is not just encouraging irresponsible
business practices; it’s legitimizing them. The stock market and investment banks work arm-in-arm
creating suicidal global business conditions that unsustainably consume world resources and
ensure we really won’t all get along.
Wait, maybe we are saying go ahead and blow the fuckers up. While
you’re at it, take out all the major credit-card companies—Fight Club-style—and
reduce consumer debt to zero. We know we’ll most likely end up eating rats in an urban free-fire zone
if these bulwarks of American capitalism take it on the chin, but when the smoke clears in a couple
of decades, and someone’s figured out how to get that whole Star Trek future utopia business
underway, we’re sure mankind will thank you.
BEST LOCATION FOR A NEW POWER PLANT
How about a windmill farm? We are not unaware of the desperate, growing
need for electrical power on this scepter’d isle of ours, nor are we insensitive to the notorious
form of civic shirking known as NIMBY. It is for the sake of some rendering of something resembling
civic justice and virtue that we hereby call for the construction of a nuclear power plant at Ground
The financial industry in this town draws more energy than Broadway
and the barrio combined. The market has always supported nuclear power, promoted its safety
and efficiency. Surely the Grand Wazoos of Wall Street wouldn’t object to a little unusual architecture
in their midst in exchange for never having to worry about a blackout in Manhattan again. What’s
more, its presence would justify the creation of a fully automated air-sea-land defense construction
the likes of which the world has never seen.
How better to memorialize the hapless victims of that terrible Tuesday
than the certainty that the trains will run on time, the beer will be cold and the lights will always
shine on the Great White Way? What better tribute to those who gave their lives for commerce, than
the surety of the continuity of commerce in this, the city they all loved best?
Face it, Libeskind’s Freedom Tower looks like something an eight-year-old
retarded child from Quebec might draw. If we don’t have the balls to rebuild the towers themselves,
the least we can do is build something we actually need. No endless pointy mediocrity dangling into
the sky at the behest of our reptilian, anencephalic mayor and his inbred constituency will grant
us benediction or absolution when some Nimrod clone of Homer Simpson drops his crack pipe into the
grid somewhere in Ohio, shutting down NASDAQ, the NYSE and every house of domination from John Street
Tribeca residents may be comforted by Henry Kissinger’s oft-quoted
observation that “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.”
“YOUR CHILDREN ARE WHAT YOU EAT… Dr. Denise Lamothe encourages parents to help their children
by helping themselves.”
BEST PAGE SIX
SEPT. 14, 2004
They all look alike. “[I]t wasn’t Jam Master Jay the other night at
Crobar. It was loud and dark and our intrepid reporter has trouble distinguishing among Grandmaster
Flash, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Fab Five Freddy and Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Jam Master was murdered two years ago,
and we apologize to his family…”
Not imagining that anyone could be so fucking stupid, we assumed the
correction was some sort of inside-Page-Six joke. Then we dug up the original item, dated Sept.
11: “At the Maxim party at Crobar, Jeremy Piven, Paris Hilton, Simon Rex, Bijou Phillips and Jam
Master J gathered to watch Avril Lavigne and Public Enemy perform.”
Avril’s still alive, right? Right??!
THE NEW YORK TIMES
Bonfire of the vanity papers. Having anticipated that life in Manhattan
during the Republican National Convention would be about as unpleasant as it turned out to be, we
scheduled our vacation for late August and early September. Thus we avoided being swept up by overzealous
police and held for two or three days on some West Side pier.
But late summer nights, chilly in northeastern Pennsylvania, are harbingers
of the coming fall, so we planned a useful experiment for our stay in the Delaware Water Gap. One of
us had recently reread Edwin O’Connor’s valentine to machine politics, The Last Hurrah.
In the novel, the protagonist, Frank Skeffington, while evading reporters’ questions about his
candidacy for re-election, mentions possible retirement, “far from the madding crowd.” He says
to one reporter, “…during the winter months, I would…take the paper which you represent,”
explaining that “…I have found from long experience that your paper burns very well. Makes
grand kindling. I don’t imagine, by the way, that most people are aware of that. If they were, your
paper’s very small circulation might be substantially increased.” Thus inspired, we brought
numerous copies of the New York dailies to test as kindling. We added charm to our evenings by building
Some papers were nearly useless. Despite its heated editorials, the
New York Post doesn’t do much for a fire. Apparently, Murdoch uses the cheapest possible
newsprint. It doesn’t burn so much as oxidize, slowly turning black without ever really igniting.
The Daily News was only a marginal improvement. And The New York Sun proved a flash
in the pan, vanishing in a puff of smoke before our logs and pine shavings could ignite.
But The New York Times—that’s the paper for us. It enkindled
quickly, burned slowly, and invariably fueled a solid, long-lasting fire. We’ve renewed our subscription.
BEST GLOSSED-OVER NEWS STORY
THE CRIME RATE ISN’T DROPPING
Short-term memory loss. We’ve been hearing it since Giuliani was
in office: The crime rate is dropping dramatically across the board! On the streets, in the subways,
in the parks, in all five boroughs, the statistics for every conceivable type of crime are falling.
They’re the lowest they’ve been in 20 years! In 30 years! The last we heard, the crime rate in New York
City was as low as it had been since 1916 or thereabouts.
Then late last May, both the Daily News and the Post reported
that the crime rates were falling because the NYPD was fudging the numbers. Some crimes weren’t
being reported at all, and others were being downgraded to lesser crimes in the reports, just to
ensure that those statistics for major felonies stayed down.
Even crime victims were reporting how difficult it was to even report
a crime. One man in Chelsea who had his wrist broken in a gay-bashing incident said the cops who responded
to his 911 call wouldn’t even take his statement, and that he had to make several visits to the local
precinct before the assault was even logged.
But after the News and the Post ran those stories, little
more was said about it in the mainstream press. What did we hear instead? Hey! Guess what! The crime
rate has taken another dramatic tumble!
Start with the MTA. One out of every one thousand Americans works
for the City of New York. If that doesn’t frighten you, it should. They have very elaborate iron-clad
agreements, these people, guaranteeing them things like weeks of vacation time, personal leave,
paid sick days and pensions guaranteed by the taxpaying public gauged at the rate of 50 percent of
their final year’s salary, allowing for overtime. They are notorious for racking up extraordinary
overtime hours in the final year of service.
Bureaucracies, once created, never seem to obsolesce themselves.
Like the Taxi & Limousine Commission or the godforsaken abortion we know as the Port Authority,
they fail at the completion of their assigned tasks yet proceed to plunder and loot the public on
the premise that more money will solve the problem.
Our annual education budget in this city exceeds that of the entire country
of France. The School Construction Authority (SCA) consumes the guido share of that budget. Custodians
can be had for far less than $80,000-plus per year; contracts can be voided. Ask the airlines how
to do it. Ask Wal-Mart.
Under the leadership of Peter Kalikow, the MTA has proven itself completely
inept, and has demonstrated nothing but contempt for the public in its refusal to open their books
to public perusal. Where are the consequences for their horrible choices?
Estimates vary slightly, but the NYPD seems to be somewhere between
the eighth and tenth largest army in the world. Feel safe yet?
Next year’s city budget proposal exceeds $47 billion. Wrap
your head around that. It’s more or less .01 percent of the GDP of the entire world, according to the
It wasn’t always this way, and it doesn’t have to be.
TO BUY THE SUN
COL ALLEN’S RUINED THE POST
The Sun also rises. There’s nothing sadder than seeing people who
still think that the New York Post is some kind of right-wing newspaper. Yes, the editorial
page is certainly conservative. There’s also the Post‘s Deborah Orin, who consistently
comes up with scoops because she’s allowed to write articles that leftist editors ban from other
newspapers. Otherwise, the Post relies on Associated Press reports that often include
a healthy liberal slant.
There’s also a big leftist leaning running rampant throughout the rest
of the paper—most hilariously in film critic Lou Lumenick’s desperate pandering to Hollywood.
The book section is also a real embarrassment. Fortunately, conservatives aren’t missing out
on much while giving up on the Post. Editor-in-chief Col Allen has turned the entire newspaper
into a real disaster.
That idiotic front page proclaiming the Kerry/Gephardt ticket wasn’t
just bad journalism. It was also lazy Old Journalism, since the internet was already hot on the Kerry/Edwards
announcement while the Post was still setting the hot type. Allen’s also continually bungled
the Post sensibility. Consider the recent Tuesday, August 17 headline: “Popcorn Kills
Tot.” That wasn’t just a big, splashy headline. It was big, splashy and insensitive in a way that
we’d have never seen in the old, better Post. The paper was lucky enough to survive Pete Hamill’s
short-lived reign. Looks like the luck’s run out.
He really wasn’t joking. From his bully pulpit a few years before
September 11, 2001, Mayor Giuliani publicly announced that the Board of Education building at
110 Livingston St. should be “blown up.” When startled reporters asked him about this statement,
he repeated himself.
Thousands of people are being detained indefinitely this very moment
for saying things far less reckless, only they have no access to lawyers or due process. Fortunately
for Rudy, he’s pals with those who arrest anyone else for similar threatening speech. And they let
him off the hook.
Clearly, his idea of blowing up public buildings was heard loud and clear.
Tell us again: How did this guy become the hero of 9/11?
THE METROCARD FLOAT
A penny saved. Ever stop to think what happens to the tens of millions
of dollars the MTA collects in advance from people buying weekly or monthly MetroCards? Does any
of that money go into interest-bearing accounts? Dear MTA, how many millions are you earning off
the sorry-ass straphangers who have no choice but to patronize your miserable subway?
BEST ONGOING NYU VS. COMMUNITY SPAT
SHUTTING DOWN THE BOTTOM LINE
There’s a fateful name for you. Anyone who didn’t already know that
New York University administrators were douchebags for demolishing the Poe house on W. 4th St.
should hate the country’s largest private university for shutting down the Bottom Line. Despite
having hosted some of the most important and noted folk and rock singers back in the day, and despite
putting up a good fight, the Bottom Line was shut down by NYU’s formidable team of lawyers.
NYU insisted that the Bottom Line was behind on its rent, leaving the
landlord—one of the city’s largest private-property owners, by the way—no other
choice than to turn this Greenwich Village musical landmark into yet more classroom space. We’re
not quite sure how the Bottom Line was draining the bank account of a school that charges $40,000
per year per student, but we’ll leave that to people who know how to do math.
The space, incidentally, has been vacant since the January 24, 2004
BEST BREAKING OF
A FEDERAL LAW BY
SOMEONE IN THE
THE PLAME LEAK
Those cuffs tight enough for you, Karl? It’s a two-bit tale of revenge
that doubles neatly as a 10-bit metaphor for the Cheney-Rove White House. The outline is already
the stuff of early-21st-century lore: Africa expert and seasoned diplomat Joseph Wilson was sent
to Niger to investigate an Italian-British intelligence story about Iraqi efforts to purchase
“yellowcake” uranium. The documents turned out to be fakes—fakes so bad that they wouldn’t
have gotten Saddam Hussein a beer at a Rangers game without another form of ID. Wilson returned to
Washington and dutifully reported this to the CIA. But this information somehow didn’t filter
up to the White House, and the Niger documents resurfaced in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address.
Instead of using the forgeries as an example of bad intelligence, however,
Bush somberly described them as a terrifying sign that time was running out on Iraq. When Wilson
penned a Times op-ed alerting the public to the fact that they had been lied to, the administration
began to distance itself from the now-famous “16 words” in the State of the Union. The Niger docs
quickly became shorthand for missing WMD and much else.
But why lick wounds and spin when you can get even? A message also had to
be sent to others thinking about contradicting anything the administration said. And so syndicated
columnist Robert Novak (the same Robert Novak whom Karl Rove has used in the past for similar black-ops)
let it be known in his July 14, 2003, column that Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, was an undercover
CIA agent—ruining her intelligence career, putting her in possible danger and letting
the world know that somebody in the White House was cocky enough to break a little federal law known
as the Intelligence Identity Protection Act of 1982.
That cockiness began to shrink a bit in October when the Justice Department
opened a probe into the leak. A few months later, Bush and Cheney have hired private legal counsel
and the nation waits for the DOJ to wrap up its investigation, which may or may not be after November
2. Most major players in the White House have already answered before a federal grand jury, opening
up the possibility of somebody high up in the White House—Rove, Cheney, possibly even the
president himself—getting nailed to a cross of perjury.
Meantime, all we can do is sit back and watch re-runs of The Untouchables,
mindful that it was tax evasion that brought down Al Capone.
BEST PAGE SIX DESCRIPTION OF
A CLUMSY JUNKIE
RYAN NOEL, “FALLEN SOLDIER”
Dopes on dope on dope. On June 28, the electroclash world suffered
a loss in the form of overdosed guitarist Ryan Noel of A.R.E. Weapons, reducing the world’s pool
of talented electroclash musicians by exactly zero. Leave it to Page Six to further the idiotic
romanticization of a dead junkie with the following sentence: “The band will pay tribute to their
fallen comrade during their show at B.B. King’s Blues Club on July 13.” Worse yet, the item’s title
was a straight-faced “Fallen Soldier.”
On the subject of Jack Kilbrittney. In mid-July, Jack Fuller was
charged with the murder of 16-year-old Brittney Gregory of Brick Township, NJ. Outside the courthouse
after the arraignment, 30-year-old Stan Kilmartin, a self-described friend of Fuller’s, offered
the following character assessment to a New York Times reporter:
“What does [Fuller] do? Truthfully? He robs drug dealers. He’s a thief,
but I wouldn’t describe him as a pedophile or rapist.”
When we get picked up for whatever it is we’re doing wrong, someone give
this guy a call. Thanks.
BEST PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
ERNEST DESIRE THE CLOWN
AKA MIKE FANDAL, 212-794-2866
Ernest goes to the White House. Mike Fandal recently declared his
intent to run for president, and the best thing he has over Bush and Kerry is that he admits to being
a clown. “People terrified of clowns will have to face their fears,” he says.
A former NYC cop turned professional clown, Fandal also holds the uncontested
world record for long-distance running with a plunger on his head. (Careful readers will remember
him as the plunger-headed performer who had to change his act after Abner Louima was sodomized in
a police bathroom with a similar toilet tool.) Fandal also promises to bring balloons and laughs
to all of America, and to make terrorists laugh so hard they will not attack. Failing that, maybe
he can cream them with custard pies.
“How the hell did George W. Bush get the FDNY union to endorse him? Don’t they
know how anti-labor he is?”
“Yeah, but drunk drivers tend to stick together.”
BEST PLACE TO GET BUSINESS CARDS YOU’LL NEVER USE
A MEDIABISTRO PARTY
What an asshole. “Who do you write for?” A Mediabistro party conversation
that starts like this always ends with a prompt exchange of business cards, followed by the phony
“Nice t’meet you.”
No profession can boast as many career whores as the media world. And
there’s no better forum to brush elbows with like-minded ladder-climbers than a Mediabistro party.
The website has established itself as a mainstream source of media news, workshops and job opportunities,
not to mention a social outlet for journalists starving for friends, contacts, dates, or more likely
MB’s parties are usually monthly affairs at overpriced bars with no
discounted drinks. Attendees are a strange mix of interns and editors, freelancers and photographers,
all with the same purpose: to network. Most of the guys are dressed in a sports coat over a crumply
button-down shirt with no tie (standard male journalist’s outfit). Women are dressed like publicists,
knowing that the room is filled with broke journalists who can’t buy them drinks, but just may give
them their next break.
Then there’re the hosts in Hawaiian leis and the in-house photog who
snaps pictures that pop up on the website a few days later.
In the right mood, we enjoy media get-togethers, particularly when
free, or even discounted, drinks are in the picture. But we learned quickly Mediabistro parties
are a complete waste. Try talking about something other than the media and you will be met with cold
stares and frustrated glances. Everyone fidgets and looks at their watch, or shoulder-gazes behind
you, seeking out someone more important.
When that happens, the best remedy is to whip out your business card,
flash a smile and say, “Nice t’meet you.” Then go find the nearest bridge.
BEST EVIL GENIUS
Mark of the Beast. As an ambitious super-nerd during the Nixon years,
Karl Rove’s greatest dream was to become chairman of the College Republicans. When opportunity
knocked, he sank a knife into the back of a mentor who was ahead of him in line for the job. As an up-and-coming
Texas campaign strategist in the mid-80s, he bugged his own office and blamed the opposition to
distract the media from that week’s gubernatorial debates, in which his man was widely expected
to get pummeled.
On and on it went in the shadows of Texas politics until 2000, when Rove,
now a grandmaster in the art of political black-ops, employed a ninja’s arsenal in the South Carolina
Republican primary. Rove was faced with an opponent of obvious integrity who spent more time in
a POW camp than Rove’s candidate had spent out of his Houston condo’s pool. What to do? What else:
grease the ground with slime. Vicious slurs were made on call-in talk shows and in calls to voters’
homes, slanderous flyers appeared in the parking lots of churches and supermarkets, whispers
were dispersed at rallies like anthrax spores. By the time it was all over, John McCain might as well
have been Louis Farrakhan with a third trimester fetus raised to his lips.
When four years later another decorated veteran entered Rove’s cage,
the plan of attack was ready and waiting. But instead of poisonous blow-darts and hallways full
of razor-edged jax, Rove pulled out the heavy munitions—this time more commando than ninja.
The explosion from the mine Rove detonated under Kerry’s war record created enough sea foam to once
again obscure the fact that Bush was a soda-cracker chicken hawk who never got closer to Vietnam
than the tennis courts at the U.S. embassy compound in Beijing where his daddy worked.
The details of these campaigns and numerous others are all documented
in the book (now a minor motion picture) Bush’s Brain, by longtime Texas journos James Moore
and Wayne Slater. As the authors make clear, you can love Karl Rove or hate him, but none of his political
opponents can afford to underestimate him. He is to be feared and respected first and second. There
is little time for animosity. He fights hard, smart and dirty, like a rabid, cornered weasel. And
goddamn if the deformed little motherfucker doesn’t win.
BEST REASON TO LICENSE JOURNALISTS
Win Joel Stein’s prose. Joel Stein should be a blogger who gets four
hits a month, not a salaried staffer for a major newsweekly. Stein’s smarmy picture and particular
prose no doubt appeal to Time‘s over-the-hill readers who like their coverage of current
events safe and predictable, their puns cute and their writers inoffensive.
On Dr. Atkins’ death: “Even before the fat fracas ignited a war of facts,
it had already dragged New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg into the lardy mix”;
On pitching a show to VH1: “I have seen the ratings, and I am tiny in Canada”;
On Republican rockers: “The reason my tour was looking weak may have
been my lack of respect within the Southern rock community ever since I cut my mullet.”
More than his work, Stein’s self-promotion machine is among the industry’s
most disgusting. His website looks like it’s designed to appeal to Teen Beat readers, and
features a zany biography, writing samples and…photos: There’s lil’ Joel when he was just
four years old, shirtless Joel in the Bahamas and Joel “attacked by [his] sister’s dolls in the basement.”
Is it possible that someone has finally deposed Spin‘s Chuck
Klosterman as the nation’s most horrific pop journo?
BEST STAFF EXODUS
And they’re still bloated. It has been a summer of blood at the Village
Voice. The erstwhile alterna-rag founded in 1955 has been leading staff to the guillotine.
Richard Goldstein (executive editor), Cynthia Cotts (“Press Clips” columnist) and Matt Haber
(online editor) are the latest to rest their necks on the ink-stained chopping block. The suits
call it restructuring. We call it a midlife crisis.
Management is the mouth-breathing, bald man who buys the latest apple-red
ragtop to attract plastic breasts 20 years his junior; the editorial staff is the jilted wife whose
years of loyalty mean diddlysquat. In other words, upstairs’ bottom-liners are tripping over
their walkers trying to lure a younger readership into neo-hip fads like flash mobs, burlesque
The aforementioned souls were far from the first victims of Village
Voice Media’s Reign of Terror. That honor is reserved for editorial content. What with porn reviews
and rehashed Bush-bashing, their weekly lineup has Us Weekly‘s nutritional content.
It’s little wonder Cotts bolted.
BEST MOVE BY
THE VILLAGE VOICE
On the other hand… Something had to be done. There’s the bottom
line to consider, you know, and Richard Goldstein must’ve been pulling serious coin. The veteran
writer/editor had long ago become a true embarrassment. Consider his “Kerry’s Pecker” column
of June 7th, 2004, in which the dotty and dated journalist opined that “Kerry has to overcome the
assumption that he’s pussy-whipped, since he comes from the party of feminism. It hardly helps
that his wife isn’t willing to walk three steps behind her husband.”
The ditching of Goldstein will also be welcomed by many openly gay writers
who’ve had to live down Goldstein’s insights such as, “Butch blue is Bush’s color, in suits or jeans.”
Goldstein went out in a truly sad manner, too, trying to handle the Voice‘s “Press Clips”
column and actually writing that Michael Moore “allow[ed] himself to be interrogated by George
Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week.”
Yeah, we’re sure Moore was really sweating out that interview. The Voice
will have to fire a lot more writers before it can be taken seriously again, but we’ll gladly concede
that getting rid of Goldstein is a step in the right direction. Don’t worry about the poor, unemployed
writer, either. Downtown Express has probably already made an offer.
BEST PATH TO INSTANT ASSHOLE STATUS
Third time’s the harm. The formula to climbing the media ladder used
to be indentured servitude: internship leads to editorial assistant translates to 150-word trend
pieces about pooper-scoopers. It’s a dream countless fresh-from-j-schoolers buy into lock,
stock and glossy print. Then came the little blog that could: Gawker.com. Thanks to publisher Nick
Denton’s deft purchase of Google ads, Gawker quickly became the go-to cheat sheet for media gossip
To summarize Gawker’s daily postings:
1. Anna Wintour’s a bitch!
2. The New York Times is stuffy!
3. Famous people walk past us!
4. Soho House rocks!
5. No, wait, Soho House sucks!
6. We’re drunk!
In its first incarnation, Gawker’s Page Six regurgitations were delivered
with sass and even a few deft adjectives. In less than a year, New York picked up Elizabeth
Spiers and offered her a plum—if invisible—position on a culturally relevant—if
actually irrelevant—magazine. Next up was Choire Sicha, who developed an avid following
with his daily musings about all the cock he’d suck if only he could fight his hangover. His writing
was atrocious, so it’s no surprise that the Observer fell for his pitches.
Now, the reins are in the hands of the unknown Jessica Coen, a blogger
who has so far downplayed the gay quotient by playing up her tits. In true Gawker form, she makes repeated
funnies about booze and dead horse Vincent Gallo.
Way to rock the status quo, Coen. We’ll see you at BlackBook in
BEST EXAMPLE OF A POL BARING HIS FANGS
GROVER NORQUIST IN EL MUNDO
The Greediest Generation. The World According to Grover: “Each
year, two million people who fought in the Second World War and lived through the Great Depression
die. This generation has been an exception in American history, because it has defended anti-American
policies. They are the base of the Democratic Party. And they are dying.”
BEST REAL FAKE NAME IN A POST ARTICLE
Dingle, very. Not since that spate of Heywood Jablomés ran
through the press a few years back have we chuckled so much at such an obviously fake name. Or so we
We were ready to slag on the Post‘s Jason Carpenter for being
gullible enough to quote a man calling himself “Cornelius Dingle.” In a March 1 article, “Dingle”
refused to lament the switch from token to MetroCard on the Roosevelt Island tram. “Kick the tokens
out,” the 33-year-old commuter said, “I’m glad they’re gone.”
We’ve been known to jump the gun before, so we turned to the desk-hack’s
favorite fact-checking tool and actually got a google hit for Mr. Dingle. As reported by our friends
at Roosevelt Island’s Main Street WIRE, Cornelius Dingle was one of 76 recipients of a certificate
of appreciation for helping during the 2003 blackout.
Damn you, Dingle!
We’d like to apologize to Jason Carpenter for doubting his professionalism.
It’s still a cool name, isn’t it?
BEST AD CAMPAIGN FOR COMPLETELY SHAMING YOU AS OWNER OF THE PRODUCT
Aw, c’mon, we just like a bargain. People made fun of us for choosing
the budget-conscious cellphone service that is Cingular, but the service is good enough and we
really like the rollover plan. Then came the ads in which Cingular customers are characterized
as seeking out budget haircuts and meticulously demanding their change, and we were like, we
don’t need to advertise the fact that we’re cheap fucks. We can be cheap fucks on our own. With
or without your middling service.
BEST EXAMPLE OF GEORGE W. BUSH DROWNING
CAPTURED ON FILM
DEFINING “TRIBAL SOVEREIGNTY” ON C-SPAN
How ’bout them evildoers? On Aug. 6, 2004, a reporter from the Seattle
Post-Intelligencer asked President Bush to comment on the relationship between tribal
sovereignty and the federal center in the 21st century. With the Sudan making headlines around
the world, it was a legitimate question.
Bush panicked. As the audience guffawed, this is what the president
dribbled out before calling on someone else:
“Tribal sovereignty means that, it’s sovereign. You’re a—you’ve
been given sovereignty, and you’re viewed as a sovereign entity. And, therefore, the relationship
between the federal government and tribes is one between sovereign entities.”