Me? It's the drawings. GO.
There is a book coming out April 5, based upon the @FakeAPStylebook Twitter.
I have a bunch of material in it. Roger Ebert wrote the forward. It does not just consist of repeated jokes from the Twitter feed; there is a ton of new material in much longer than 140-character chunks.
There are many ways to pre-order it, at this link right here.
It's very interesting reading and I was constantly struck by how bizarre it was to me that people could get into this and not find it strange at all.
Then, I started thinking about their cultivation (or, should I say- cult-ivation? HAR) of celebrity members, letting them act as the frontmen, while there are other layers to the pyramid doing grunt work to keep the whole shiny volcano alien operation going, year after year. It's a brilliant strategy- putting forth this wall of success and fame, using that to sell the whole operation.
But- it seems that, every time I find out someone is in Scientology, I feel disappointed. But why? Any other religion or belief- it seems as though it wouldn't matter quite as much. The end work is what matters- film, music, writing, whatever. That COS label, though, for me, casts this odd retroactive pall over their whole body of work. I guess a prime example for me is Beck. Used to enjoy the heck out of his stuff, but once he went back in there, I just have no interest. Does that make me some sort of bigot, in an odd way? I don't know the guy, I'll never meet him- I'm just a consumer of the work he produces.
Is it the work? Is there something about film and music- creative products- because they elicit such an emotional response, we feel more of a personal bond than should realistically be there? Then, you feel as though some old friend has gone a little nuts and it colors your whole response to everything they do.
What do you guys think? Should the artists' work just speak for itself, with no consideration that they avidly believe the words of a hack pulp sci-fi writer? Or, can it not be separated?
$10 million to probably not influence people much in the direction to actually buy a car.
I liked it- but mainly because it did some great branding of Detroit as this aggressive survivor, willing to take anything thrown at it. I liked it because of nostalgia for my home state and for its only large city. The ad resonated with me because of the guilt I feel for leaving the state, for wanting to go back, but not sure I'd be able to find a way to make it work. Sadness for what's happening back there and hope that it can be somehow turned around or transformed into something smaller.
That's a lot of emotions for an ad, but they're all wrapped up in my own experiences and memories and the millions of other people watching those beautiful, tough two minutes of downtown Detroit aren't really going to give a whit. The point of the ad, ostensibly, was to sell cars. That's the point of advertising.
Maybe GM could write off the $10 million as a tax-deductible contribution to the Pure Michigan campaign.
If you saw it, what did you think? Particularly, folks who have no connection to Michigan, whatsoever?
By which, I mean- Which films have had you walking out of the theater a little pissed off, wondering how they got made? After seeing them on the Digital-Video-Disc, you took it out and just shook your head? You and a like-minded person working them over for days afterward, worrying the bad movie bone, dissecting each poor decision.
And I'm not saying something that just had you shaking your head in bemusement, but had you actually feeling as though you'd been took or conned by even watching the damn thing? I'm talking real, irrational hostility, here.
MY LIST, OFF OF THE TOP OF MY HEAD:
(though there may be others)
- Summer of Sam
- Donnie Darko
- The Bone Collector
- Love, Actually
- Requiem for a Dream
Now, you. GO, IF YOU ARE STILL OVER HERE ON THE SINKING LIVEJOURNAL SHIP AND DO NOT ONLY READ RUSSIAN.
It's been how long? Man.
Okay. First off, I'm still reading things over here regularly. But for posting, I've mainly been doing that over at rjwhite.tumblr.com.
So, new things? Over there. Also, the Wasted Words podcast and a few other places. The City Desk? Not so much.
Anything I do will be posted at that tumblr-matic thing. So, yeah. Thanks.
On the Wasted Words front-
Show 49 featured special guest lord_whimsy. We all talked about insults of old, how folks absorb music and the gangs of New York. HERE IT IS
The new one, NUMBER 50 (!), was just finished last evening. Philadelphia magazine's Victor Fiorillo stopped by to discuss his Oscar's Tavern/Maker's Mark story and Deke Zibinski came around for another informative "Ask the Bartender" segment. THAT ONE, IT IS HERE.
On the twitter, I have been contributing to the Fake AP Stylebook feed, which has "blown up," as the kids say, over the last couple of weeks.
Right now, while working, I am listening to the CBC WireTap show/podcast (showcast?) which is really rather very funny.
So- how's by you?
It was still on the side burner, until recently, I inadvertantly sold a photo-graph to a national magazine (more on this later in the month, hopefully). I could either take the scratch, hide it away in my house for the September bank holiday (Wha? Really, conspiracy people?) or use it to get one of these newfangled devices.
I went with the PS3, for the following reasons:
- The capacity, size and power consumption of the recently-released PS3 Slim
- Inclusion of WiFi (It's an extra cost for the adapter on the XBox, or I'd have had to reworked the way I have the internet hooked up in my house)
- BluRay player (So the device can be enjoyed by the entire household. A surprisingly adjustable Netflix plan now has BluRay discs coming at the same cost as before)
- Don't need to buy gift cards every few months to use multiplayer capacity
- The RROD on the XBox (Yes, I know they've made great strides, but it's still out there- an inherent design flaw with which Microsoft still released the thing)
- Easily swappable hard drive, just in case
- No complaints with the venerable old PS2 (traded for a bottle of wine with tawdryjones) over the years
Now- the main downside is that there are many folks I know who have the other system, so I can't join them to shoot each other in the face. But, I'm happy with my purchase. It was crazy- last night, I was on a fake video game rooftop shooting and trapping ghosts with people from who the heck knows where and the other night, I was stealthily taking down goons in Arkham Asylum. I AM IN THE FUTURE. Though, it took me three days of being annoyed with the short USB controller cable before I finally realized that the controller is wireless. I AM ALSO CONFUSED BY THE FUTURE, APPARENTLY.
Also- non technologically, I am reading the book Nixonland and it is fascinating and wonderful and depressing.
- listening to:Belle and Sebastian - Le Pastie De La Bourgeoisie
Now- the stop is on 34th St., just a couple blocks west of Macy's, near MSG/Penn Station, etc - basically, in the heart of things. There was a pretty good crowd waiting to go back to Phila. (why? no idea.) and I heard an old gentleman ask a middle-aged woman if a certain building was the Sears Tower. Now- seems silly, but if you hadn't ever been to Chicago or New York and were oldish, you might just not know, you know? She tells him it isn't, then just sort of asks what building it is.
OKAY - Given the location that I have relayed to you. If you can imagine that corner- right at the Tick-Tock Diner, just down the street from the Hotel New Yorker, if you turn and face due east, the one building dominating your view, a few blocks down, is the Empire State Building. Which is why I said-
"Oh, that's the Empire State Building."
To which the middle-aged woman replies-
"No, I don't think so."
"Yes, it is."
"No, let me ask [a person nearby], she's a New Yorker... oh, it is the Empire State Building!"
The same woman ended up across the aisle from us and would not stop talking the whole trip. We got into some heavy traffic and she just kept asking what was going on. I leaned a bit and saw a sign on the side of the road that said 'Delays - Construction.' So, I said, just to try and get her to shut up-
"There's a sign- says 'Construction.'"
"This time of night? No."
"Well, I just read a sign that had the word 'construction' and repeated it."
She ended up getting off at the Cherry Hill, NJ stop, WHICH DID NOT SURPRISE ME IN THE LEAST.
Craig Gaines stopped by to discuss a bar that may not have been serving what they said they were here in Phila. Also, a woman who drunk drove a horse. It's all there, in an episode we like to call-
Hey- want to know a great way to get yourself pumped on the way to work in the morning? Ride a bus in the rain, listen to Ornette Coleman and read Catcher In the Rye. ENERGY CITY, MAN.
Listen, won't you?
:: Up until 1961, members of the police department’s vice squad would receive a $1 bonus for every piece of “lascivious material printed of an immoral and/or titilating nature seized and destroyed,” thanks to the wealthy morals of one James L. Roosevelt. The $900,000 trust was endowed in 1956. Due to the extra pay involved, the squad was very zealous in its enforcement activities (in one memorable raid, city newsstands were even stripped of copies of National Geographic), exhausting the fund in only five years. In the last 48 years, such material has been easy to find around town.
There you go. Monday.
There was also a new photo piece about private cops on Friday.
With the high school being a half-hour away, there was not a lot of dispute with my parents about my driving at sixteen. When I was legal to drive, I was commuting, no question. For a brief time, I carpooled (gave rides to) this girl from the next town over, who had also attended the parochial elementary school. One day, our high school had some sort of half day in-service deal and I was going to drop her off at home, when she had the idea to visit the public school in her town, who had a full day. I figured, sure, why not, seeing as I knew a bunch of folks there too, having attended the small catholic school in the same city and hadn't seen some of them in quite some time.
So- we stop by her house- she wanted to change before going over there. Now- this is the point where, in some sort of movie, this would become something. Instead, it was more the something where I remembered that, at the time A&E was running episodes of early 80s Late Night With David Letterman in the afternoons and she had cable and I was instead annoyed that she didn't take long to get ready, so I couldn't see the entire show that they did from their offices because the studio was too warm. Oh well.
We drive over to the high school- it's around lunch time. It is awkward. She is wearing normal clothes. I am in dress code (no jeans, no t-shirts, no sneakers) and feeling out of place and also realizing that, well, sometimes high schools do not like random visitors (even before Columbine and 9/11, when we all changed and as a nation. Together. Remember that? Yes.). We went to the cafeteria, she found her friends. I found a few of the people I'd not seen in years. One of them- the first thing he said was- "Dude. Your hair is messed up." He was right, of course- it was this strange early 90s mushroom/afro deal, but still, this guy had been one of my best friends a few years before and this was a bit off-putting, you can't go home again and all that. The bell rings, everyone goes off, including the person I'd come there with, who'd just gone off to someone's class and I was just kind of standing there. No idea what to do. Wandered the halls for a bit, until some teacher or assistant something or other asked who I was and what I was doing. I got flustered and nervous and apologized and just left and drove home.
I never saw that entire Late Night episode, which was the most annoying thing about the whole deal. I think Terri Garr ended up taking a shower in Letterman's office, but I'm not sure. I heard she has MS now, or something.
In the comments, number 56-
[In photo number] 17, That's some shoddy looking workmanship around the thruster nozzles. I hope the next generation Moon gear has a better fit and finish....
Seriously, internet- STOP. PLEASE.
1) Awhile back, I took the bus to work and stopped in the Au Bon Pain between the stop and my office to pick up a coffee and bagel with swiss/tomato. It cost $3.50. This will be relevant soon.
Down the block, I stopped into a FedEx/Kinko's to pick up a couple of photo mailing envelopes. Found them, took them to the counter and this kind of middle-aged salesman guy was there, seemed disappointed that I wasn't also ordering a huge print run of something. He rang me up, then saw the cup of coffee and bag of bagel. He said, "Au Bon Pain? You must be pulling down a good salary to go there!"
I sort of mumbled something about the breakfast prices not being too bad, got my envelopes and left.
2) Yesterday, I had to go to a store to film something for work before going to the office. It was this place right off of Rittenhouse Square, I had time to stop into a cafe a couple of storefronts down. I went up to the counter, stood behind this guy who was standing at the register. Then, this woman, who I can only describe as "Ann Arbor-esque" comes up to the counter and leans against it the other way. Just as I'm wondering whether or not that's where the line goes and she looks at me awkwardly, the coffee-making dude smiles and greets her, and I realize she's probably a regular. Of course, he takes her order first, so I go over behind her instead.
Lady: Oh- sorry, I didn't know-
Me: Well, I didn't know there was a different way to line up. (knowing that she totally used her regular-ness for cuts)
Lady: Well, I didn't know what you were doing, you were just standing there-
Me: I thought I was in line, but oh well. Of course- he decided to go with you first, anyway.
Lady: (smirks, and in this really shitty way, looks me up and down) What are you, an attorney?
Me: (a little thrown) What... uh... no?
I was wearing khakis, a blue and white striped shirt and carrying a video-camera bag, with my usual messenger deal. I wasn't carrying any law books or set of scales.
I thought for a split second of answering her that, no, I'm actually in public relations, kind of, but realized that would probably have been worse.
I had meant to make note of it when it came around, but completely missed it. One week ago today marks the tenth anniversary of the death of Mark Sandman, frontman for Morphine. I remember exactly where I was when I heard, in my bedroom in an odd apartment in Ann Arbor, listening to WCBN. I cried a bit when I heard the news and of course, spent the evening listening to Morphine albums over and over.
It wasn't just the music- the music was amazing, that whole mixture of drums, sax (2 at once?!?) and that weird bass, with those lyrics- the beat poerty-esque riffs thrown in, amongst words that just put you in some dark bar at 3am or someone's apartment hanging out after that same bar had closed, with that weird light on the pavement outside after it's been raining since eight- that kind of thing. It was also that the band had sort of been the anchor of one of the best weekends of my life.
I wasn't- and still am not, to a certain extent- what you'd call a well-traveled person by the time I got to college. In 1996, I was working on a sitcom for a student tele-vision group at Michigan State. The group had a couple of shows nominated for awards at this national conference, in Providence, RI, so a bunch of us loaded up a couple of rented vans and headed out there. It was the first time I'd even been out of the tri-state area around Michigan, so definitely my first visit to the east coast. We hit Boston first and I loved it- actual urban denisty, buildings and parks that had been around for ages- an actual, honest-to-god city. My having to drive a van out of the city at rush hour didn't even dim my enthusiasm about it. We got to Providence late-ish and most of us were just going to just hang out in our rooms, watching tv or whatever, but Shaun McNally asked the front desk folks who was playing nearby. Turns out, there was this band called Morphine, playing at Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel (in a different location now), a club downtown. I was kind of not feeling like it, he insisted we all go and so we did.
We were a few blocks away- walking at night through Providence's downtown, I loved it- walking the streets of an old, dark city, going to some club- very hayseed-in-the-big (Providence?)-city, but hey, it was my first time. It's always exciting your first time. Then, once we got there, I one of the best live shows I've ever seen, largely because I'd never heard of these guys before and was completely blown away by them. Every song, every note, just amazing. We walked around some more afterward, hit a bar, then back to the hotel. The following night, after the banquet and award show (hosted by Jeffrey Ross, oddly enough), everyone was hanging out in one of our hotel rooms and I just decided to head out for a walk on my own. It was about ten or eleven and I kind of had no idea where I was going, exactly, just wandering over near where we'd been the night before, a few areas I'd seen during the day with bars and junk, just loving it- loving walking around this old city. There was a line at this pizza place, I grabbed a slice and that's kind of when I decided that I really, really loved this- a city. An old, east coast, dense city, with the buildings and alleys and litter and the river and the crime and the mob and everything else.
That's what kind of led to today, to a certain extent- to starting The City Desk, to falling in love with someone who wanted to live in the same type of place, to living in Philadelphia... it was a pretty damn important weekend (ended by cutting my wrist badly on a big rock overlooking the Atlantic Ocean near Newport), thirteen years ago and Morphine looms large in the middle of it all. Oddly enough, though, I haven't been back up to Providence since going there again in 1997.
Back in 2000, they released Bootleg Detroit, from a stop on the tour for the same album. I should check to see if the exact November 8, 1996 show is on any of the torrent sites.
I saw them one more time- 1998, at a Horde Festival stop in some Pine-Knob-type place in Northern Indiana.
On July 3, 1999, he died onstage while playing- a heart attack at age 46. It's a horrible, horrible shame that we'll never get to hear more of his amazing music, but he leaves a nice legacy- a music education fund continues in honor of him and an intersection in Cambridge, MA was named after him. If you have some of their stuff- give a listen today. If not, here's a video of a great live version of "Cure for Pain."
So, thank you, Mark Sandman, for having existed.
In celebration, over on the Twitter (rj_white, if you are inclined to add), I have been posting True Canada Facts.
:: Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney is the estranged father of popular American actors Dermot Mulroney and Jenna Maroney.
:: There is a lounge in the CN Tower in which the speaking of English is prohibited, the Les Français Lèvent le Haut Salon
:: In addition to founding Manitoba, Louis Riel also invented the modern claw hammer.
:: The early CBC broadcast network originally included stations in MI and WIS until a series of bloody skirmishes in 1952.
:: Canadian TV comedy team Wayne & Shuster were the originators of the old "give 'em 20" school of comedy.
:: Admission to the Lesser Houses of Parliament is half-price on Thursdays. The regular Houses of Parliament are full-price.
:: National Post cartoonist chipzdarsky is actually an alias for American humor artist Jim Davis.
:: Hockey legend Don Cherry's collars are constructed in a facility in an industrial park outside of Winnipeg.
:: All Tim Hortons are connected by a network of pneumatic tubes. Through these, coffee flows from a massive central silo.
:: All Canadian schoolchildren can recite the capitals of all 50 US states, plus their Governors and Lt. Governors.
- listening to:Charles Mingus - Remember Rockefeller At Attica
Friday Facts: Charlie’s Angels Lunchboxes, Roadside Cabbage, Fake Squid
So- at what other 70s licensed properties could that ordinance have been aimed?
Guest panelist Aaron Bleyart joins us to discuss our President-in-Chief appearing all over late night comedy programs of late. THERE ARE EVEN EMBEDDED VIDEOCLIPS, for your home-judging.
Wasted Words Show 40 - All Wheat, No Chaff
So, there it is. Listen away, chumps.
- listening to:David Allan Coe - You Never Even Called Me By My Name
The Brothel Five Levels Below the Street
It's back because of a couple of conversations over the last month or so- one over email, one in person and this article from yesterday's Times that kind of made me feel a bit ashamed at dropping the thing.
So, we'll see how this goes.
These folks alternately fascinate me and creep me out a bit. On the first page, the main subject of the story is casually mentioned as a 911 Truther and various conspiracies (and zombies) are presented in a po-faced (to borrow a favorite term of calamityjon's) manner as perfectly reasonable reasons to start stockin' up them guns and MREs.
All very peculiar. Are these people reasonable and others are naive? Or, are they nuts and on the fringe, except for those who are clearly profiting from the unease of these times in which we live?
At any rate, it helpfully informs us about a local firm offering a course for $550. They will kidnap you in Phila.'s Chinatown as part of a class that "provides leading-edge skills to civilians who live and work in challenging urban environments or in urban centers that may destabilize during a crisis."
Listen: Show 36 - Beam Me Up
Also, Olivia ditches us for a bit to watch tele-vision and we discuss the best indicator that a haircut is needed, why we drink on some holidays and not others, your favorite words and those times in life where the rules just do not work. Plus, a very special Word of the Week.
Wasted Words, won't you?
1) The "Hipster Grifter" was arrested in Philadelphia. A guy in a band takes credit on the City Paper Web log and people get angry. I wade through the comments for your sins, over at Get Off The Internet.
2) Dateline: Silver Age is a very fun weblog that posts scans of insane newspaper headlines from insane old comics. Today's is one I sent in, with a joke in the alt-text. Go and look and then keep going and looking at the whole site.
Also, my right shoe is way squeaky today because there's the beginning of a hole in the heel and I feel kind of shabby, so I should maybe go and look for a new shoe or two, huh?
:: Sometimes, while walking to work, I get bored and start trying to remember what I was doing five or ten years ago. This morning, I remembered, for the first time in awhile, one of the most ill-conceived media ventures in which I was a party.
There used to be (maybe still is, I have no idea) this annual event at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, called the Naked Mile. Basically, there'd be this night in late April, close to the end of the semester when large groups of students would run from one end of campus to the other while naked. The name of the event sums it up pretty well. In the spring of 1999, I was working for mlive.com, which was the online component of eight daily Michigan newspapers, including the Ann Arbor News. We were based in downtown Ann Arbor, mere blocks away from campus. Our editor-in-chief at the time convinced the folks who owned the site and the papers to purchase a special url ,for which we would produce an entirely separate Web site highlighting the event.
Highlighting meant going out and taking photos of these naked college students, then posting them on the Web.
I had to research and write a history of the event, so there'd be some sort informational component, but the rest of it was pretty much just photos of naked people. The night of, the entire production staff- graphics, producers, editors- were pressed into service, stationed at spots along the route, standing with spectators, snapping away. I have not, and in all likelihood never will, see that many naked people in one place in my life ever again. It was crazy and the whole thing felt a little odd. Once it was all over, it was back to the office to get the site up- downloading the photos from the cameras, adding wacky little cartoon things to cover up people's special areas (as small as we could get away with) and constructing the photo galleries.
The person I was dating at the time was one of the photographers and I had her take one pic of me near the Michigan Union behind some guy, making a wacky face and pointing to someone's butt. The photo was actually on the homepage of the site for a few hours, until the Conde' Nast/Advance Internet folks felt it was too silly. On a site that was basically just there for people to look at naked college students. Right.
Of course, it got spectacular traffic. It also earned reproach for the Ann Arbor News from Editor and Publisher magazine and other industry sources, though they didn't have a hand in it, due to the way the whole paper/Web site relationship was set up. They weren't happy with what had happened and it kind of damaged their reputation a bit, as it did ours with them. People automatically blamed them, too and I distinctly remember one commenter on the forum for the special site (a forum? really? man, that was asking for trouble) calling us a bunch of "Conde' Nasties."
The site is long gone, the photos- who knows? I'm sure someone, somewhere has the originals- I have a couple of guesses. The parent company, though they distanced themselves from the whole affair, definitely learned quite a bit from it, as their site for the Times-Picayune had several "Mardi Gras cams," which were consistently popular for many years, until Katrina seemed to make actual news and information more of a popular selling tool for their online properties. Of course, mlive.com also had the popular "Beach Cam" a couple of years after the Naked Mile site, which featured a user-controllable and zoomable camera mounted at a beach on the west coast of Michigan. Ostensibly, it was to allow people to enjoy Lake Michigan from the comfort of their offices. That one also did really well. I had to go through the user galleries and edit out the most offensive entries. Had to do a lot of editing, there.
"The Daily Chronicle Classifieds - No one's been killed because of them since 1976."
"We'll sell your boat and no one will stab you- GUARANTEED. Craig's-List can't make that same promise."
"Alternative Weekly adult personals - Erotic loners, no psychos."
"The Smyrna Times classifieds - Because the internet is full of murder."
Seriously- it's a very traditional workplace sitcom, but they bend things into being cartoonish and goofy just enough that it works as a goof on the format. Plus, the whole little mythology they've built up with Sheinhardt Wig Co. and 30 Rockefeller Center, the showbizzy stuff in the background of scenes (a nice pickup from 'behind the scenes sketches at SNL- always a showgirl and someone in an animal costume), recurring gags- it all just works and works well. There was this scene last week- just a brilliant little way of presenting the passage of an entire day- just with a closeup on Tina Fey, as the lighting changes behind her and she's handed various props and all of a sudden- 12 hours gone- just really creative and well done.
It's a shame it's got bad ratings on a 10th place network, so it's likely not going to be around a heck of a lot longer. I hope I'm wrong, but who knows?
Though, the Phil Spector joke last night- that was a little rough.
:: Picked up Bowl of Cherries by Millard Kaufman this weekend. He is 92, it is his first novel (published last year), he wrote the classic screenplay Bad Day at Black Rock and the thing is a delight. It is strange and fun and well, here is the brief description-
Kicked out of Yale at age 14, Judd Breslau falls in with Phillips Chatterton, a bathrobe-wearing Egyptologist working out of a dilapidated home laboratory. There, young Valerie Chatterton quickly leads Breslau away from his research and into, in order: the attic, a Colorado equestrian ranch, a porn studio beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, and a jail cell in southern Iraq, where we find him awaiting his own execution while the war rages on in the north. Written by a 90-year-old debut novelist who's also an ex-Marine, a two-time Oscar nominee, and one of the co-creators of Mr. Magoo, Bowl of Cherries rivals the liveliest comic novels for sheer gleeful inventiveness. This is a book of astounding breadth and sharp consequence, containing all the joy, derangement, terror, and doubt of adolescence and everything after.Yes, it is as awesome as that all sounds. Get it if you can.
- listening to: (Classical WETA 90.9 FM - Washington D.C.)