Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Brett Ratner's Travolta and Olivia Newton John Tapes

Imagine, for a moment, my blogger mellows, that you are Brett Ratner, auteur du cinema, cineaste, man-toy of celebrity Jehovah's Witness Serena Williams (and, ancillary question -- do Witnesses actually "put out"?). Interestingly enough, Ratner was Serena's first kiss, which The Corsair finds kind of sweet.

You are a part of a swishy social set of young Hollywood Lions, and you, true believer, are a swell guy -- all the magazines say so. But you grew up worshipping the Gods of Old Hollywood, and, so your language is often peppered with names -- names of the Yesteryear, they drop from your lips, spilling like celluloid off the reel, so that what was once considered pretentious is just commonplace Tinseltown chatter, only just a little bit dated. That is how Brett Ratner's namedropping sounds in his interview with Jimmy Jellinek for the brand new October/November 2004 Complex Magazine (which, apropos of absolutely nothing, has an extremely hott photo of a newly blonde, leggy Rosario Dawson -- not Eve -- in a red dress and black panties on the cover *The Corsair shudders*):

"Ratner sits in the executive area of the Universal Commissary, where the latest Atkins-friendly offerings are available. He talks about his $3.5 million mansion while stabbing a piece of chicken with his fork. 'It's under renovation,' he says with a touch of excitement. 'Ingrid Bergman used to own it, later the director of Grease installed a crazy 70s disco. I have secret tapes of Travolta and Olivia Newton-John partying."

And while The Corsair would love to see that 70s decadence, Ratner's next lines are quite interesting.

"During the renovations, Ratner has moved in with his Hollywood hero, Robert Evans, the legendary former coke snorting, starlet banging creator of The Godfather, Love Story and subject of the award winning The Kid Stays In The Picture. At 74, Evans has mellowed but still enjoys being the center of attention. 'He runs a kind of salon for young Hollywood,' says Ratner, whose learned much at the producer's knee. 'My favorite Evansism is never go to a doctor whose plants are dead.'"

The Corsair's favorite Evansism is shower promptly after you pay the hooker for pissing in your hair.

Ed Note: The Corsair is taking a few days off. No blog Thursday or Friday. Remember:It's not that I'm pushing you away from me, I'm just pulling me closer to me. Be back soon.

Cheers, R.

A Little of the Old In and Out

In: David Patrick Columbia. The New York Social Diary has a thoughtful piece on the rise and fall of Lord and Lady Black of Crossharbour. The piece is interesting and fresh in that it is a critique of The Blacks that comes from within their same rarefied social set, which reads, in part:

"During his ascent, Mr. Lord Black made sure to surround himself with social relationships that could adorn his board of directors while he was adorning his wife and his halls of living and leisure using the dough provided by the company treasury and approved of by his 'distinguished' board of directors, who were often considered by their peers to be 'brilliant,' in case you?re wondering what passes for brilliant in this set. No one seemed to mind at least partly because we live in an age where the rich getting richer by helping themselves to the company larder has become commonplace, and even, to some people?s way of thinking, legitimate."

Out: Geoffrey Beene. The Corsair doesn't mean to suggest here that Beene is somehow outre, rather "Out" here means merely that he has shuffled off the mortal coil and designs now for a More Elire Clientele. An interesting note, though: Beene studied pre-med at Tulane:

"Beene's gowns have been worn by aristocrats, socialites, movie stars and other devoted fans. "Beene was born in Haynesville and credited the study of medicine as the greatest influence in his career. Anatomical studies, which prompted Beene to sketch gowns when he became bored, also contributed to his ability to create geometric cuts to embrace the body.

"'Clothing should glorify, not vulgarize, the body,' Beene said in a 1996 interview with The Times-Picayune."

RIP, Geoffrey Beene.

In: George Clooney's Hair. I know I spent sleepless nights worried about it. Can I be honest? I've been concerned about Clooney's hair since he played George on The Facts of Life. Is he getting enough conditioner? Are split ends a possibility? Does he need to protect his hair when he goes swimming at Lake Como in Italy? These are the sort of questions that dance through my fevered mind late at night.

But George Clooney -- mirabile dictu -- is feeling good about his hair, and, in the end, doesn't that, by the by, make us all feel a little bit safer about the overall geopolitical situation? No? I'm being shallow?

Clooney told the Mirror (link via ananova):

"I love my grey hair. I actually think my face has more of an edge and a lot more character than it did when I was in my early 30s. So I think I can have 20 more good years as an actor, if that's what I want and if the public aren't fed up with me."

But what about the hair, George Clooney, could you expand and amplify on the subject of your hair?

It's all about the Clooney hair.

Out: Kimora, Self proclaimed "Fly Bitch (Averted Gaze)."

Okay, you found us out (The Corsair offers up his wrists for hand cuffing) we are not the biggest fans in the world of Kimora Simmons. Your honor(The Corsair shouts, righteously), we plead guilty -- guilty! -- to playa hating in the first degree! Cuff 'em, and stuff 'em, sarg!

But, surely -- and don't call us Shirley -- there is nothing wrong with Kimora Simmons that a stiff right cross to the jaw couldn't amend.

In today's Rush and Molloy:

"They may be serving Meow Mix at Kimora Lee Simmons' talk show, 'Life and Style,' this morning. "Simmons' husband, Russell, who's made his fortune with Def Jam records and Phat Farm clothing, thinks the show - carried locally on WLNY/Ch. 55 - would be much better served if his wife was more prominently featured.

"In giving Kimora her props, the rap mogul mildly dissed her co-stars - comic Lynne Koplitz, E!'s Jules Asner and former NBC correspondent Cynthia Garrett.

"'The other girls, they're okay,' Simmons told us yesterday. 'but they need to make the show more about Kimora.

"'She's so funny. She's like Cameron Diaz. She's a clown. They need to show that or the show isn't going to work.'"

A clown like what, to amuse us? Is that what she's here for Russell, to amuse us? And: Cameron Diaz? WTF, Russell -- W-T-Fuck?! Russell (The Corsair pulls out an antique pipe, loads in top drawer tobacco, pours himself a glass of dry sherry matter-of-factly and says), Russell, you're fabled hustling skillz are in decline, old chap, better to get out of the game on top, what-what.

Cameron Motherfucking Diaz he compares Kimora to. Get a load of that freak. (The Corsair points to a hapless, manorexic Russell Simmons). Highly implausible comparison there, Big Russ: A better comparison for Kimora -- Pain-in-Diaz.

In: Registering to Vote! Please register to vote guys, I don't care if you vote Democrat or Republican -- just register. Be a part of this. You do not want to look back 4 years down the line and realize you were on the sidelines. And, finally, if you don't vote, if you don't register, you forfeit the right to criticize the political system.

Check out Kottke's site for the answers to all your questions(Link via my beautiful, socially conscious blog wife, Miu Von Furstenberg)

Out: Bill Mahar, Cock Blocker. According to strategist Frank Luntz, who told Washington Post Style (link via Wonkette), about his most embarrassing moment:

"That time at the Playboy Mansion when Bill Maher told me in front of a gaggle of journalists and a few Playmates that I asked stupid questions. I didn't get a date that night. Then again, most of the women were topless, so it wasn't a complete loss."

Why is Bill Mahar always at the Playboy Mansion. Oh, right, stupid question: they invite him. My bad. "

Kobe Versus Shaq, Part IV

Why don't these two cats just rent out a boxing ring, invite the press, hire a ref, get regulation gloves and quit (air quotes) "jooking" each other, as they say north of 125th street in Manhattan.

Recently, Shaq took their little contretemps to the unforgiving gritty urban music world, according to MSNBC (link via eagle-eyed Tom at TheMediaDrop):

"Miami Heat center Shaquille O'Neal, on a new rap CD he is making in collaboration with DJ Vlad, takes some shots at former Los Angeles Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant, ESPN reported.

"On the song 'You Not The Fightin' Type,' part of the new CD 'Hot In Here Part Five,' O'Neal calls out Cincinnati-based radio disc jockey DJ Skillz and sings, 'Even with wings you never as fly as me ... you remind me of Kobe Bryant trying to be as high as me ... but you can't ... even if you get me traded ... wherever I'm at, I'm Puffy; you Mase and you're still hated.'"

The Corsair has never heard a flow so flavor deficient as the above.

Anyhoo: Shaq, being a sensitive New Age guy, often takes his frustrations out in poesis, no fisticuffs for he, why, can we forget his own contemplative meditations on Fathers and Sons, "Biological Didn't Bother. (Averted Gaze)"

Anyhoo, evidently, it seems, Kobe is the fighting type as, Kobe Bean countered, according to the NY Daily News:

"Hours after Kobe Bryant was accused of rape, he reportedly told cops that his Los Angeles Lakers teammate Shaquille O'Neal had paid women up to $1 million to keep 'situations like this' quiet.

"Bryant's Shaq attack came July 2, 2003, in a conversation he had with Colorado cops soon after a 19-year-old hotel worker accused the star guard of assaulting her, the Los Angeles Times reported last night.

"... Bryant stated he should have done what Shaq does. Bryant stated that Shaq would pay his women not to say anything. He stated Shaq has paid up to a million dollars already for situations like this."

But the most interesting item to come out of the transcripts is the release of Kobe's cell phone number, 310-946-6046.

Shaq may want to buy a copy of The Enquirer, which says:

"Kobe Bryant's wife Vanessa exploded in rage after learning her husband had a secret mistress - and then stormed out of their house, taking their 20-month-old daughter.

"Stunned by another betrayal from her husband, Vanessa fled with little Natalia to her mother's home.

"The dramatic blowup occurred just hours after the leak of a 57-page police report prepared by Eagle County (Colo.) detectives in which Kobe admits hed regularly had extramarital sex in New York with a girl named Michelle.

"And The ENQUIRER has learned exclusively that Kobe's secret affair with Michelle, a beautiful Latin girl, who works in a sports business, has been going on for at least two years!"

Kobe, apparently, likes his women like The Corsair like his dead languages: Latin!


The story concludes:

"After fleeing her house Friday, September 17, Vanessa returned for a few hours Sunday evening - then left again for her mother's around midnight.

"'It was her third night sleeping at her mother's since the police document was leaked,' said the close source."

Minnie Driver: Heiress Alt-Country Singer

The 3AM Girls note that as far as UK sales go, that whole Minnie Driver, country singer thingie with the whole trailer park angle ... it maybe wasn't such a hott idea:

"WE hope Minnie Driver isn't planning to give up the day job any time soon.

"Everything I've Got In My Pocket, the actress's debut single, is currently at number 37 in the mid-week chart, after selling a measly 546 copies.

"A music biz insider said: 'I don't think many people are aware that Minnie is trying to make the switch from film to music, and if they are they're certainly not buying into it. It'll be a miracle if she makes the top 30 - it's a total disaster.'

"Earlier this year Minnie signed a �1million deal with music giant EMI. Talk about money down the drain."

The street release date in the US is October 5th. The Corsair cannot wait for his copy. The Corsair is always on the lookout for a good cosy for his "evening constitutional" (wink-wink-- AKA, The Cutty Sark).

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

The Jack Daniels Swing Voter?

A Note to either the Bush or Kerry Camp:

Page Six of the Post writes today:

"JACK Daniel's has sparked outrage among serious drinkers by unceremoniously lowering the proof of its famous Tennessee Whiskey from 86 to 80. The change which means the hooch has 3 percent less alcohol has riled those still smarting from the 'betrayal' of 15 years ago when the company lowered the strength of its 90-proof, 138-year-old original recipe, to 86 proof."

Security Moms? (The Corsair softly chuckles at the naivete of the question) So last week, my blogger mellow, try again. Nascar Dads? (Averted Gaze) Pure drivel. Never underestimate the importance of (The Corsair's eyes sparkle) "Jack Daniels" to the electorate, those merry shitfaced few, that band of brothers, those who proudly give Jim Beam drinkers the stinkface. Jack is Americana, and in an election year, as a precursor to the debates, someone ought to make it an issue and take advantage of this opportunity.

Jack Daniels is suffused with a certain raw American mystique. Any Presidential candidate would love to borrow some of that amber glory when campaigning through the heartland. Vast swaths of the American electorate actually make pilgrimages to the distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee, ogling the enormous vats of bubbling mash and the towering charcoal-filtration tanks, to make company with Gentleman Jack. Jack Daniels is a cult, an iconic brand, and -- mirabile dictu -- it just happens to be smack dab center in very valuable electoral real estate, Lynyrd Skynrd land that Bush would like to keep, and Kerry might want to steal.

Granted, the President may have a harder time making this woody scented outback adult beverage an issue useful to his campaign, as he is now a tea totaler, a Christian man, but as he is the good ole boy of the campaign, his words would probably have greater effect on the private company's decision process, quite possibly, making Jack Daniels rethink their plan to lower the proof.

Senator Kerry would have an uphill battle as well. He doesn't look like the type who would have a shot of Jack. Bush does. Kerry strikes me as a single malt kind of guy. Hell, Bush prolly ordered it by the bottle at some country and western joint back in the day, then proceeded to play Hank Williams and Patsy Kline on the jukebox.

But how cool would an appeal for Jack Daniels to leave it's proofing status quo ante be at the debates at the University of Miami? The students would immediately appreciate it, and, surely, so will bars across the country -- from dives in working class West Virginia, Knoxville and Kentucky to the East Village and Embassy Row in DC -- bars where the debates will almost certainly be playing on the tube and watched with great attention.

Will one of you guys jocularly mention that you think the distillery should keep the proof as is is, say, "Doris Kearns Goodwin mentions Lyndon Johnson" (wonkette's line)?

Just a thought, this humble appeal to the Jack Daniels voter.
Most Embarrassing UN General Assembly Handshake

As any clever international photographer covering the United Nations General Assembly beat knows, you must be alert at all times. Blinking, yawning or sneezing are verboten. At any moment, any second, a world leader may slip, sloughing off their deeply ingrained political etiquette -- forgetting themselves -- and falling into the communal spirit of international bonhomie that the UN offers, a place where all statesmen are brothers, where everybody knows your name, no matter how corrupt or despotic their regime.

Last week's General Assembly session had it's share of fireworks. A number of politically embarrassing photographs were taken, among them, the above handclasp between tyrannical despot Robert Mugabe, and British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw.

Reuters writes of the diplomatic incident:

"Straw said he had not expected to see Mugabe -- whom advisers say he had never met before.

"'Because it was quite dark in that corner I was being pushed towards shaking hands with somebody just as a matter of courtesy and then it transpired it was President Mugabe,' said Straw who last month swapped his spectacles for contact lenses.

"He said the serious disagreement between Zimbabwe and Britain should not permit discourteous or rude behavior."

There are also -- okay, I am a diplomacy geek -- photos of Iraqi President Alawi shaking hands with Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, so writes the Israeli National News:

"Earlier this week, Minister Shalom and Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Alawi, seated side by side due to alphabetized assigned seats at the United Nations, shook hands and chatted with each other. The Hezbollah terror organization was outraged by the incident, accusing the new Iraqi leader of disgracing Iraq and offending all Arabs and Muslims.'[It] is a sign of one of the most dangerous goals of the American war on Iraq, yanking Iraq from its place in the Arab and Muslim worlds and sticking it in the U.S.-Zionist political cosmos,' said the Hezbollah statement, Reuters reported.

"'This unacceptable handshake is at once a true insult to the Iraqi people, their history, culture and Islamic and national commitment; and flagrant scorn for the suffering of Palestinian people [sic] and the sentiments of Arabs and Muslims.'Asked about Iraq before the General Assembly meeting, Shalom told reporters, 'We would like not to be the only democracy in the Middle East. We would love for Iraq to join us, and after that the rest of the countries in the Middle East. It would bring more stability to the region and more stability to the entire world.' Alawi said this past July that Iraq would make no moves to normalize relations with Israel before the other Arab nations do so as part of a comprehensive Middle East peace treaty."

Who would have thought handshakes could so destabilize the global order?

Most underreported UN story: Brazil, India, Japan and Germany have formed a small clique called the Gang of 4 to pressure the UN to grant them permanent seats on the Security Council. They used to be called the Coffee Club, because they served uncommonly good coffee at their meetings. True story.

A Little of the Old In and Out

In: Vanity Fair Oscar Party. Graydon Carter speaks with Fashionweekdaily on his infamous party:

"Carter revealed that he fell into the role of Oscar nights most coveted party thrower by accident, after an innocent dinner at Mortons in Beverly Hills with Steve Tisch. 'Id just as soon be at home in bed, eating Chinese food and screaming at all the actors like everyone else is doing' cracked Carter. 'But this party just grew and grew.'

"Vanity Fairs exclusive party also gave the stars something to get excited about. 'There was a period when the actors werent even coming to the Oscars,' the editor-in-chief recalled. 'They thought it was boring and old, like an old-folks home. But then they learned how to dress up.'

Wait a second, hold up -- at what point in time did actors stop coming to the Oscars? Is this some super-secret mysterious Seventh Room Knowledge? I must have missed that one.

Out: Dolly Parton's Double D Breasts. Ananova reports that the country music icon's double D breasts will soon go the way of the dodo:

"Dolly first had silicone implants in her 20s, and again in her 30s, before needing a reduction ten years later when 'they started dragging on the floor.'

"The 58-year-old, who says even support bras cut into her shoulders, said: 'My boobs are killing me - and I don't know if I can stand the pain any longer.'

"Doctors have told the star her chest needs to be dramatically shrunk to prevent permanent damage to her back and shoulders. "The singer added: 'My boobs have been a trademark for me - but I've paid one hell of a price.'"

Well, you know, as Anthony Michael-Hall said so wisely beyond his years in Weird Science, more than a mouthful and you risk permanent tongue sprain.

In: Imran Khan, Class Act. It can't be easy seeing tabloid reports of your stunning wife, of whom you have only recently separated with, the mother of your children, canoodling on Mediterranean beaches with Hugh Grant -- that lucky goddamn bastard -- but Imran Khan is exercising Zen-like tranquility and a graceful nobility in the face of his reality:

"In his first interview since the divorce, Khan told Hello! magazine that he had been distressed by rumours about the timing of his wife's relationship with (Hugh) Grant.

"'Let me categorically state that there was no infidelity in our marriage of nine years,' Khan was quoted as saying. "It hurts when you hear these insinuations. 'No marriage could have ended in such an amicable way if a third party had been involved.' Khan said he had given his blessing to the relationship between Jemima, 30, and Grant, 43. 'Jemima is obviously a very attractive woman and I knew she would meet someone new and find a new life,' he said."

Good man.

And, also In, Vindicated, Michael Musto. Last week's outings by mainstream media and blogs of Congressman David Dreier and Cynthia Nixon only prove how hypocritical the press was back in the day, says Musto in his Web Extra:

"What about the media outing of CYNTHIA NIXON, so unabashedly carried out in both the Daily News and the Post? Some of the same columnists who are now either breaking that story or jumping on it used to crucify the likes of me and outing pioneer Michelangelo Signorile for routinely announcing the gay sexuality of celebrities. But years of whittling down at prejudices have made gayness more reportable, especially since the entertainment landscape now includes positive out gay images, making queers more visible and appealing to the masses. (Sex and the City itself, interestingly enough, helped contribute to that phenomenon.)"

Freaky Stylee: Red Hot Chili Pepper Rehab Sex

From Anthony Kiedis, Scar Tissue:

"When you go to rehab, you end up meeting people from dozens of walks of life, all races, different financial realities, different religious backgrounds, but you end up loving all of them and seeing yourself in all of them. There was a female basketball player who couldn't stop smoking crack, a Brazilian businessman, a doctor, and a black SWAT team cop who busted people to get drugs.

"I settled in and it wasn't that bad. I stopped hating and just started being ... Ione (Sky) came to visit, and we broke the rules and had conjugal visits in the bathroom, which meant the world to me. I was so in need of love and affection."
The Corsair's Note to Republican Readers

On yesterday's blog, I gave some advice to Kerry on how to win the debates. One of my Republican readers had this to say:

"As a Bush supporter, I can only thank you for your suggestions for Kerry - especially your suggestion that he try to goad W into losing his temper. It's not that you're wrong - he does have a bitch of a temper, I've heard - but you're dreaming if you think he's going to be undisciplined enough to lose it, especially over (please) the Saudi royal family. Good luck. You're a bright guy and I enjoy your blog, but if this is the best you can do, Kerry's cooked."

I responded:

"My Republican Friend: Awww. I really debated on this one, being so political yesterday. I know there are quite a few Republicans who read this blog -- and I thank you guys -- but sometimes I get the bug to travel beyond the Paris Hilton porno beat, you know? And while there are many, many issues I am pretty conservative: like education, zero tolerance for dictators, and my overall aesthetic taste, I hope you don't hold the advice-for-Kerry-on-winning-the-debate thingie against me. Not for too long, anyway -- Democrat, Republican, Naderite, I don't disciminate -- I want all your eyeballs on this blog. Well, maybe against the Naderites. I promose to try to be more even handed in my coverage in the future. Cheers, Ron"

Monday, September 27, 2004

Prelude to the Debates: Bush Versus Kerry

All the talking heads this Sunday were chatting about the upcoming debates, saturating The Corsair's Cutty Sark addled mind with all manner of political arcana, so that, overflowing, he feels the need to vent. So, let's begin: George Stephanopoulos was particularly interesting -- although he is not always -- because of his history as a veteran of Democratic War Rooms.

How fascinating it was to watch George's barely controlled impish grin, in full flower, that dark gleam about the Greek eyes, as he chewed the fat with RNC political advisor and former K-Street cast member, Stuart Stevens. When The Steph noted that Newsweek polls show more people think Kerry will lose the debate, amoral trickster that he is, Stevens quickly concocted naught else but utter bullshit about how he "thinks" (wink wink) Bush, his own man, will not do so well (This, dear reader, is known in Washington spin, as "lowered expectations). Stephanopoulos was gleaming as if he were beholding the wily craft of the Greek God Hephaistos at work.

And The Steph lashed out -- like an effervescent mountain wind blast from Athos, suffused with the unsettling trill bleatings in a minor key of black Alpine sheep -- at (wink wink) Senator John Kerry's oratorical (Averted Gaze) shortcomings (exaggerated cough suggesting feigned detatchment), wondering aloud if, come the debate, the Massachusetts challenger will, "go off into the rhetorical wilderness," with his "filament-like language." Unholy images of flying buttresses of hot air were summoned by the uncommonly poetic The Steph yesterday.

Stephanopoulos has a point. Senator Kerry's largest fault, to date, is his inability to connect with swing voters who, economically speaking, should be firmly in his camp on this late date. Instead, like the suddenly-popular virgin at the last dance of the year, Kerry appears to be unable to close the deal with the popular cheerleader. Why is that?

Kerry's inability to establish himself among swing state Catholics, latinos, veterans and "Security Moms (married women)" fundamentally arises from -- my opinion -- a chief character flaw, and, quite frankly, it is the same psychological malady of Al Gore's, is The Ozymandias Curse, which appears to afflict, ironically (aren't the Repubs supposed to have unlawful ambition in their heart?), Democrats from Upper Middle Class preppy backgrounds disproportionately:

"I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert.
Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed,
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains.
Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."

Ozymandias-Percy Bysshe Shelley1792-1822

Kerry has rehearsed being Presidential all his life, and it shows. The image of Kerry is so saturated with a Gilbert Stuart patina, that, on occasions, The Corsair actually notices trompe l'oeil cracks about the Kerry brow. Kerry is, very nearly, a perfect caricature of what a President should look and sound like from the point of view of a precocious kid from Andover with a hankering for Colonial American history -- the statesman with the sober, sagging face, the lofty self-important subordinate clauses leading into clumsy laugh-lines for the garrisoned troops along the Delaware. But it appears to The Slim Jim Munching Set as not unlike that extinct American cultural artifact, the Colonial American parson ("Who among us does not like Nascar").
Meanwhile, in stark contrast, the Republican Machine, with Karl Rove at the helm, is so well lubricated, so smooth, so in touch with the Nascar dad, the internet savvy, the soccer mom -- with, in fine, Americana. Like Kerry, Karl Rove appears to have been planning a Presidential run all his life, but, unlike Kerry -- and this is key, keemo sabe -- Rove is behind the scenes, in the shadows -- where such ambitions, perhaps, ultimately belong -- while the hapless, fresh-faced Dubya, who always appears to have planned his runs impromptu, rubs shoulders, unselfconsciously, with The Common Man.

A Moderate heavy convention inoculated the hesitant Swing State voter against Streptococcus Ultra-Right -- a charge, no doubt, the Left would like to have made against the Administration -- giving the Bushies a seemingly Teflon veneer. Like I said: Karl Rove, Smooth Operator.

Add the fact that Dubya is just a good ole boy, jocular, tossing throwaway laugh lines like there was no tomorrow (Dubya must have picked up the appropriate vernacular of the hungry man during the Lost Years, his West Texas State Bar Crawl Tour, Circa, 1976)

Dick Morris makes an interesting -- although, of course, characteristically caustic -- comment on the dilemma Kerry faces on this first foreign policy debate:

"... Since the only common denominator of (Kerry) backers is their animosity toward Bush, the Massachusetts Democrat is stuck waging a negative campaign that wears out his welcome with swing voters.

"This problem largely stems from the fact that Kerrys candidacy came of age in March and April, the worst months for Bushs war in Iraq. With maximum American casualties during the horrific months of early spring, Kerry sought to cast himself as having been misled into backing the war and disappointed in its progress.

"But all that unites his supporters is their agreement with that negative critique of the past. As for the future, they are split down the middle, with half wanting to stress bringing the troops home as fast as possible and a bit more than a third, according to the latest Fox News poll, wanting America to stay long enough to finish the job."

George Bush's rhetorical style involves simple talk, emphasizing key concepts, mostly emphasizing issues of Manliness and Christianity, like "stand," and, laughably, "will not falter," but often tailored Rove-like to the occasion, like, at his UN speech, when he, in his speech halts at unlikely throwaways like "Sergio Vieira de Mello," and "Aung San Su-Chi." Like conservatives lose sleep over those two humanitarians.

As a Gemini, and thus a man concerned with rhetoric and media and communication, I'd like to offer some advice, much of it covered by the Talking Heads on Sunday, to Team Kerry:

1) Sharp, crisp lines and sentences -- short, declarative sentences, nothing labyrinthine; eschew the labarynthine. Speak in topic sentences, Kerry, please.

2) Attack on The Saudi Royals. The Administration is very weak on this issue, it is personal with the Bushies, which leads me to:

3) Bush has a temper. Play with it. Only one who has a mighty will can suppress their temper. The Corsair does not believe that The President is such a man. Keep on the Saudi Royals, a legitimate target, as the debate is on foreign policy, and that famed Dubya temper might flame on.

4) Do not attempt humor in any instance, Kerry, it will not work, you are not funny; instead, go after the jocular; mention the Roy Jones, Jr. knockout, or the NFL game, or Survivor, something pop culture, but not too funny, like Avril kicking someone in the box or the Britney nups.

That's my advice right now.

Finally, George Bush will not use a "riser" under his podium. This is an interesting development, because, at his August 2001 physical, the President was 6 feet tall (some say he's 5'11), while Senator Kerry is 6 feet 4 inches.

Will they play with camera angles? I wonder.

I'm sure all those cosmetic things have been worked out by their respective teams.

Oh, yeah, and John Edwards does indeed have "pretty hair like a pont."
Biden Versus Holbrooke: Quien Es Mas Macho

It looks like a Foggy Bottom Smackdown is blowing our way, and you might have to duck for cover, as leaks -- "not for attribution," of course -- are the traditional weaponry of statesmen-wannabe's in our endlessly fascinating democratic pageant.

Granted, of course, that Kerry wins the Presidency is not a foregone conclusion at this point, but already NBC Correspondent and connoisseur of power, Andrea Mitchell, on the Chris Matthews Show's "Tell Me Something I Don't Know" segment, speculates -- either Senator Joe Biden or Richard Holbrooke will be Kerry's pick at Foggy Bottom.

Of Holbrooke, who so perfectly cultivates the inevitable air of his ascendant regency at Foggy Bottom -- The Corsair just likes saying "Foggy Bottom", Nicholas Von Hoffman wrote in Spy in May 90:

"To interview Holbrooke is to learn the etiquette of media-government relations as they are observed in Washington. Some statements are on background, some are not for attribution. Some are deep background, others are deeper background, and a few are uttered on a swallow and forget basis."

Smooth. Biden also, for his part, has stepped up his weighty foreign policy speeches.

Holbrooke, who was an early supporter of Kerry, has, of late, been indispensable in giving Kerry some borrowed glory on the Eastern Seaboard, as, recently reported, according to the Herald Tribune:

"(Kerry) stayed up late Sunday night with aides at his home in Beacon Hill, rewriting - and rearguing - major passages of his latest Iraq speech, a ritual that aides say occurs even with routine remarks.'He attacks the material, he questions things, he tries to get it right,' said Richard Holbrooke, the former UN ambassador and an adviser to Kerry.

"During a recent conversation about Iraq, Holbrooke recounted, Kerry 'interrupts me and he says, Have you read Peter Galbraith's article in The New York Review of Books? You've got to read that. It's very important.'"

And, on last week's Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace:

"The former United Nations (UN) ambassador indicated that it was a huge mistake to star a war in Iraq without first bringing the situation in Afghanistan under control. He also insinuated that the administration of US President George W. Bush lacked a coherent strategy in Iraq.

"About the situation in Afghanistan, Wallace asked Holbrook, 'What would Kerry do differently? Is Afghanistan unfinished?'

"'Without question,' responded Holbrooke. 'Osama bin Laden is not captured. Al Qaeda is threatening to attack by the end of the year. Afghanistan is not in good shape."

"Holbrooke then talked about the deteriorating situation in Iraq. 'Strategically and politically, the situation in Iraq is worse than it ever was in Vietnam,' Kerry's advisor said.

"Continued Holbrooke, 'While it was possible to walk along the streets in Vietnam during the war, it is not possible in Iraq. Therefore, the regional danger posed by Iraq is much greater.'

Score on Ass Kissing: 8 out of 10
Comments: Nice, but the NYRB is already firmly in the Kerry camp. Anyone who reads the IHT or NYRB has been a Kerry bitch fro the get-go. And comparing Iraq to Vietnam is a bit premature, The Corsair thinks.

Senator Biden, however, a little more rough about the edges, is a champ at infighting and brown nosing, as he showed us with startling effect on his own Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace:

"BIDEN: I find the way the opposition is dealing with (Kerry criticism of Iraqi President Allawi) is really, really dangerous. They're telling everybody that basically if Kerry becomes president of the United States, he's not going to stick with Iraq.

"I personally was authorized by Kerry in front of all my colleagues to say the first thing in a private meeting, I said, 'Mr. President, you know me.' And he said, 'Yes, I do.' I said, 'I guarantee you that John Kerry as president ? you will continue to have the full support of the United States of America in order to be able to establish a representative republic.' He said, 'Thank you, and I know it.'

And, later:

"WALLACE: Would he wait until the Iraqi ? excuse me, sir. Would he wait until the Iraqi troops are trained? What specifically would he do in these so-called no-go zones?

"BIDEN: John Kerry would have listened to his Marines at the time when in fact they said we should have finished the job then. John Kerry will listen to his military on the ground. John Kerry will listen to the people who know, not the politicians in the White House."

Ass Kissing Points: 10 out of a possible 10.
Comments: Quien es mas Macho? Senator Joe Biden, that's who.

A Little of the Old In and Out

In: Money in Politics. In ye olden days, it was the large corporations -- and, of course, the investment bankers on Wall Street, the Silicon Valley execs and Hollywood -- that prowled K Street with unsigned checkbooks at the ready in search of eager and available pols. Now, interestingly enough, TheHill has two stories today on smaller donations, and how they are making their mark on the political landscape of the Left, one:

"Something New, the DNC committee charged with this initiative, held its first event at Acropolis nightclub in Washington in June 2003. The group has held eight subsequent events and raised $1.7 million � which is barely a sliver of the $202 million raised by the DNC overall.

"But while its financial stake has been relatively small this cycle, the group has tapped into an eager network of young supporters with more disposable income than their parents� generation. And these political neophytes are eager to get involved.'These are people who have never been asked' to give money, said Justin Paschal, an aide to DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe, who founded Something New. 'We are taking the party to them.'�

And, two, on the deleterious effects of smaller donations on the insurgent Nader campaign (The Corsair softly chuckles):

"Ralph Nader, the independent presidential candidate, is raising far less money this year than he did in 2000, and his campaign is spending more than it is taking in. That could make it difficult for him to remain visible on the homestretch of the race to the White House.The campaign�s Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings for August show that Nader had raised less than half the money he had amassed in the same period in 2000.

The candidate spent more money in August than was donated to his campaign, leaving the Nader for President 2004 committee with less than $10,000 cash on hand on Aug. 31. His general-election committee had $56,000 cash on hand. At the same point in 2000, Nader had more than $500,000 in reserve."

The Corsair takes a long slow sip of Chateau Margeaux with a twinkle in his eyes.

Out: Tommy Hilfiger. Although The Corsair is not in the habit of giving any stock advice out, now might be -- or might not be -- a good time to load up on Hilfiger shares, whch are down, as, according to Reuters:

"Shares of Tommy Hilfiger Corp. (NYSE:TOM - news) fell as much as 26 percent on Monday after a federal grand jury subpoenaed documents on commissions paid to a foreign subsidiary of the clothing maker.

"The investigation focuses on whether the commission rate was appropriate, the company said in a news release late on Friday.

"'We expect Tommy Hilfiger shares to ... remain under pressure until more clarity on the investigation is available,' Noelle Grainger, analyst at J.P. Morgan Securities, said in a research note. Grainger rates the stock 'underweight.'

"Analysts said that since the investigation focuses on payments between a U.S. and non-U.S. subsidiary, the focus may be whether Tommy Hilfiger was reaping an unfair tax benefit.

"A Tommy Hilfiger spokeswoman declined comment."

"... The stock, which was the biggest loser in percentage terms on the NYSE, hit a 14-month low of $9.75 earlier in the session."

On Hilfiger, according to the snarky and eternally interesting Geofrey Deeny of FashionwireDaily, who wrote, archly, during Fashion Week:

"On Thursday evening, Tommy Hilfiger received a standing ovation in a packed Bryant Park tent led by a rat pack of hip hop giants and hot movie stars, as the Europeans in the audience shook their heads with wonder. That's not to say the collection was in anyway a bad one, just that it was utterly formulaic and devoid of fashion news.

"In a word, the Hilfiger 2005 spring-summer collection reminded one of the sort of fashion one would expect to see in trade fairs like CPD in Frankfurt or the old Sehm in Paris. Take the opening look, a navy and white sailor's knit tube dress worn by Naomi Campbell. It was an admirable, though essentially prosaic passage, yet the crowd reacted as if they were witnessing the second coming of Coco Chanel."

"... It's notable that ever since Hilfiger's financial backers Lawrence Stroll and Silas Chou began spreading their luxury bets by buying control of the house of Michael Kors and the historic UK brand Asprey, Tommy has steadily moved his signature line up-market. Where previously his shows focused on New England, this season they looked to Portofino, Monaco and Capri."

P Diddy's rarified view from inside the Bryant Park tents was different, as he told the Miami Herald at the time, "'That was Tommy at his best,' said Combs, who isn't holding a preview of his spring 2005 collection this year." Then again, when does Diddy insult anyone who might become a future business ally?

In: The Kobe Transcripts. TheSmokingGun has posted the Kobe transcripts, unedited. This is the cross examination of Detective Winters, who interviewed the alleged victim the morning after. Draw your own conclusions as to whether this was a set up or not. An interesting aside, though: the police took down Kobe's data -- his address, drivers license, social secutrity number -- which are all redacted in the documents (the detectives said they would not give that information out), but the document actually releases his cell phone number -- which the detectives never actually preambled by saying that they would not give it out. Is that how legealese works?

Out: Leo DiCaprio, Dumped. According to

"BRAZILIAN bombshell Gisele Bundchen has reportedly dumped Hollywood heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio because she is fed up waiting for the Gangs of New York star to pop to the question.

"Gisele, 24, who has been dating 26-year-old Leo for four years, left the couple's Los Angeles home and flew to New York where she is being 'comforted' by Pearl Harbour actor Josh Hartnett, The Sun reports today.

"'It�s definitely over. Gisele got fed up waiting for Leo to pop the question. She loves him but no longer sees him as the man she will marry,' a source told the British tabloid.

"'The whole experience has been traumatic,' the source said.

"The South American beauty apparently became 'very close' to Josh after meeting him at a party thrown by hip designer Marc Jacobs in New York."

In: Topic A With Tina Brown. The Corsair is so easy to impress, as he loves pub-li-city (as's Mr. Mickey says) any way he can get it. Tina Brown read his snarky little email on air, and that, to be frank, was kind of cool. The Corsair likes publicity, all you media readers out there -- it makes us feel all tingly and self-important.
Kevin Costner's Waterworld Wedding

49 year old former A-Lister Kevin Costner wed 30 year old handbag designer Christine Baumgarten in an open air ceremony with nearly 300 guests, including boldfacers like Bruce Willis, Oprah Winfrey, Tim Allen and Alexander helmer Oliver Stone. "Baumgartner's gown was designed by Monique Lhuillier," writes USA Today, "(and) the groom wore Ralph Lauren."

Kevin Costner's favorite song, Rolling Stones' Brown Sugar started up as soon as the nups were completed. Baumgartner arrived in a green Chevy pick up, according to Megastar, as Costner showed up on a horse drawn wagon.

ThisisLondon writes:

"Around the wall of the reception marquee were black- and- white portraits of the happy couple fishing, riding horses and playing golf.

Which harkens back to Costner's Tin Cup, also about golfing. How Hollywood.


"There were still photographs from Costner's latest western film Open Range and a disco featured his collection of 70s records, many of which were hits before his bride was born."


Let's hope this marriage fares better than Waterworld, which was considered a domestic flop, making a Total US Gross of $88,246,220 on a Production Budget of $175 million.

According to Hello! Magazine:

" ... Once the enamoured pair had made their vows ... The Waterworld star then showed off his boating skills, by taking his new bride for a romantic ride in a kayak."

ThisisLondon writes:

"Costner was previously married to Cindy Silva, mother of three of his four children. The 16-year marriage began to unravel when she caught him cheating with a married Hula dancer in Hawaii while filming his box office flop, Waterworld."

Earlier this month, according to The New York Post, "Costner took Christine out for a champagne picnic in the canoe � and it began to sink.

"'Christine began using her champagne flute to bail out water while Kevin rowed furiously for land,' a source told Ireland Online. "

The Corsair wishes Kevin better luck this time.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

A Little of the Old In and Out

In: Nice Day for a ... Faux Wedding. (see above) TheSmokinggun has the faux wedding documents of Britney and Federline, and, if I were at People Magazine, I would be too happy of having spent 7 figures to cover, essentlially, a media dog and pony show (with chickenfingers ... mustn't forget the chickenfingers) :

"We've all been there before: You're itching to get hitched, but negotiations with your beloved over the prenuptial agreement have snagged. But since you really, really want to get married, you bring in the lawyers to write up a legal agreement regarding your planned 'faux' marriage and 'alleged' wedding ceremony. That's the predicament lovebirds Britney Spears and Kevin Federline faced earlier this month as they planned their glorious union. With no prenup in place, the couple signed the below agreement--first obtained this week by Us Weekly--regarding their September 18 'wedding,' agreeing that their blessed union would not be legally valid until the pair later finalized details of Federline's dowry."

In Uganda, where I was born, it is not uncommon for dowry's -- in the rural areas of the country -- to be paid in cattle. That information is a porpos of nothing -- I just thought I'd throw it out there and see if it marinades.

Out: Fabian Basabe. This man would attend the opening of an envelope; he's that bad about being seen, and, yet, what -- pray tell -- does he actually do?

Why do we know his name? Many moons ago, Howard Stern invented a party game he called The Jenna Dewan Game. Dewan, you'll remember, was the back-up dancer who dated Justin Timberlake, and thus, voila, was famous. To this day, many will know her name, but not, say, Aaron Burr, or Homer, or Miles Davis. Famous, Madame Dewan, for who no actual contribution to society, but merely whom she dated. So, asked Stern, wanting to get the game going, who else's name do you know who have done essentially nothing? The Corsair would like to answer that by raising his hand, making knowing Arnold Horshack-like noises, and saying, in a martini-dry voice and a simultaneous Averted Gaze, "Fabian Basabe."

In: Pop Culture. While Yale is examining, pondering really, the cultural impact of Michael Jackson, well, I can't help but be skeptical as to why. The Corsair wonders if all those social science-lit big brains made anything out of these dubious (Averted Gaze) lyrics from "Ben":

"Ben, most people would turn you away/ I don't listen to a word they say/ They don't see you as I do/ I wish they would try to I'm sure they'd think again /If they had a friend like Ben"

Please enlighten us, Harold Bloom, he of the dougey hands.

Out: Network Sitcoms Enamoured of the Fat Guy-Hot Chick Scenario. Rick Martin of the Old Gray Lady tomorrow muses on this subject:

"AS a former television critic, I'm no longer required by law to spot fall-season trends, but some are too disturbing to ignore. Like how all family sitcoms � virtually all sitcoms now � are about a fat guy with a hot wife.

"From CBS, the network of 'The King of Queens' and 'Still Standing' comes 'Listen Up,' the new Jason Alexander show, and 'Center of the Universe,' starring John Goodman's jowls. ABC, home of 'According to Jim,' (as in Belushi) has a new comedy called 'Rodney,' with a country comic named Rodney Carrington, who's not exactly fat but definitely stocky. Fox has no new fat-guy offerings, but 'The Bernie Mac Show' and 'Quintuplets,' with Andy Richter, are both back. Not to mention Homer Simpson. Speaking of porked-out cartoon dads, the hefty hero of Fox's uncanceled animated series 'Family Guy' will return to the network next spring."

"... Whose fantasy of the American family is this: men's, women's or both? And does it bear any resemblance to reality?"

Great questions both.

Neo Virtue is the New Black

Does the new resurgence in celebrities getting back to their spiritual-religious roots suggest a conservative victory in 2004?

Virtuous behavior is back in style again as conservative George Bush leads in the polls, Jesus Christ recently did great box office (and DVD sales) and may be up for Best picture and Best Actor, and this trend has metastasized just in time for Yom Kippur, perhaps the most important holiday of the Jewish Year -- Who would have thunk it?

I mean, was virtue ever "cool?" Wasn't "in" supposed to be a shortned "sin?"

Wasn't Britney supposed to be the virginal schoolgirl, and XTina the 'ho? And, thus, wasn't XTina gently conceding the fact that she wasn't as pretty as Britney, not as "popular," by the fact that she acted the slut, that she was willing to go farther to compete on an even playing field?

The pendulum swings, however, my friends, as it always does in the entertainment/fashion/ media nexus -- and none too soon for our Geminian-one-half-prurient tastes (says The Corsair with laughing eyes). The slutwear thing has apparently run it's course, as Godfrey Deeny, senior fashion critic at Fashion Wire Daily -- at least for now (and, how sexy would the revelation be, dear reader, without the conceal?), and the pseudovirginal, the religious -- whether the Yom Kippur flavor for the Beasties, or Madonna's recharging her batteries in the Holy Land, and the modest is "in." It's like "the last days"! Even the people you would least expect to be religious are embracing "virtue."

Now, Our Christina has reinvented herself as a born again virgin, a queen of that genre, of sorts, even going so far as: 1) to play an animated jellyfish in her next video, 2) promoting voter awareness among the young, and, 3) according to FemaleFirst, promoting virginity:

"Raunchy singer Christina Aguilera is to front a documentary encouraging teenagers to remain virgins.

"The 'Dirrty' singer, who is famed for her sexy outfits and steamy stage shows, has interviewed a group of teenagers who have vowed to stay virgins until their wedding night for MTV's 'Sex, Votes and Higher Power'.

"The star returned to her home city of Pittsburgh to speak to the group, who are part of the movement Silver Ring Thing, about the importance of not having pre-marital sex."

So, here's to neo-virtue, fueled, in part, by Yom Kippur; and here, to your right, Christina Aguilera, noe-virtue's saintly poster girl.

In stark contrast to all that neo-virtue going on, a slew of projects in sympathy with the Devil are out now, including one very strange memoir by Red Hot Chili Pepper frontman Anthony Kiedis called Scar Tissue, in which he cops to an astonishing amount of crimes, everything from dining and dashing on meals in LA, to shooting Persian heroin, to, most disturbingly, sleeping with underage women -- on more than one occasion.

Although I have only read 200 pages, this book recounts an incident after a concert in which a female dolled up like Marilyn Monroe sang "Happy Birthday" breathily to him as he took a shower as a precursor to romance. Frankly, that image seems a little off to me, but, I suppose, to Kiedis, it was par for the course. The two then ended up traveling and trysting together through several states. At one point the girl finally confesses to Kiedis that her father is the "chief of police" of New Orleans, and that he would be chasing the band down looking for her.

Why? Well, here's the kicker: she tells him she is 14 years old!

After that stunner, taken aback, Kiedis shockingly admits to having had goodbye sex with her once more before returning her home -- What the fuck?! He admits this, proudly, in his memoirs!

As if that isn't bad enough, he later admits to a romance with actress and daughter of 60's pop star Donovan, one Ione Sky, after the Chili Peppers became famous, when she was 15, a few days shy of her Sweet 16, where, in front of guests, she announced that they were boyfriend-girlfriend. I don't know what the age of consent in California is, but 15?

Of course, this sort of disgusting behavior is not uncommon in the world of rock, which simultaneously worships and appeals to underage youth. Courtney Love recently made the startling revelation on The Howard Stern Show that she had sex with creepy rocker/carnivorous activist Ted Nugent when she was 12!!! Ted Nugent never called back Page Six to deny the story.

And, speaking of Page Six, today, on Dave Navarro's new book, more decadence:

"... Navarro's co-author, Neil Strauss, writes that he realized Navarro, who was heavily addicted to drugs (and prostitutes) at the time, never thought he'd still be alive when the book was published.

"... On (an) occasion, Navarro had a date with a woman who came to his house before they went out for the evening. The doorbell rang soon after she arrived; she answered it to find 'a very dolled-up prostitute with stiletto heels and a garter belt hanging from the bottom of her skirt,' Strauss writes.

"The woman, a former Heidi Fleiss escort, held a bag full of hooker clothes in one hand and doggie biscuits in the other.' Then 'she proceeded to sit on the couch, pull a crack pipe out of her purse and light it.'"

" ... Then there was the time Leif Garrett came over at 6:30 a.m. to fix a curtain rod in exchange for drugs ..."

Always the Leif Garrett cameo in these stories.

It should be noted that both Kiedis and Navarro have embraces a "neo-virtuous" lifestyle, Kiedis is drug free now, and Navarro is married and cleaned up.

Taiwan to Sir Elton: It's All Good

After a rather odd media event on Wednesday, on the heels of the Cat Steven's deportment, Sir Elton John went, well, a little batshit on Taiwanese reporters, says MSNBC:

"Elton John warmed up his vocal cords for a concert in Taiwan by telling photographers they were a bunch of 'rude, vile pigs.'

"The media ambushed the rock star after he arrived by private plane Thursday shortly after midnight at Taipei?s Chiang Kai-shek International Airport. John was angry that police allegedly didn?t properly restrain the pack and protect him 'from the ensuing chaos,' said a statement issued by the 57-year-old singer.

"ETTV cable news showed footage of John, dressed in a royal blue track suit and matching sunglasses, berating the photographers and TV crews as he cleared immigration. The fuming star also was shown clenching his teeth and muttering expletives as he stood with his arms crossed tightly across his chest.

?'Rude vile pigs,' shouted John, who performed later in Taipei. 'Do you know what that means? Rude vile pigs. That?s what all of you are.'

"One of the photographers shouted back, 'Why don?t you get out of Taiwan?'

"John answered, 'We?d love to get out of Taiwan if it?s full of people like you. Pig! Pig!'"

But, apparently all things are forgiven if you are Sir Elton. The New Zealand City News reviewed his performance thusly:

"Elton turned the air as blue as his ill-fitting track suit when journalists mobbed him, calling them 'vile pigs'.However, his tone was more moderate as he chatted to fans during a sell-out concert, saying there was a 'little incident at the airport but none of it was directed at the Taiwanese people.'"

He then proceeded to charm the pants off the Taiwanese -- figuratively, says the Taipei Times:

"Then we were all treated to a helluva rock-and-roll show that demonstrated why Elton John has been drawing audiences for longer than many of his fans have been alive.

"He took his place behind the piano and ripped into Bennie and the Jets, Levon, Daniel and Philadelphia Freedom, warming up a crowd that sat in a steady drizzle.

"Next he worked through a lengthy jam of Rocket Man complete with a Far Eastern Air jetliner flying meters overhead to land at Songshan Airport. It was a magic moment that couldn't have been timed better and it earned John his first standing ovation. He thanked the crowd and all that business at the airport was forgotten."

So, the Taiwan loves Sir Elton, now, if only we could get Kazakhstan to love Borat, maybe there would be a chance at World Peace.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Corsair Indie Interview: Kamal Ahmed

Whatever happened to Kamal Ahmed, the fun loving, dusky half of that crazy, freewheeling 90s duo, The Jerky Boys? Among other things, Kamal directed and wrote the kick ass indie film, God Has a Rap Sheet, which won Best Feature at the New York International & Independent Film & Video Festival in 2002, and is out on DVD today, September 24th.

Kamal is good peoples, and thoroughly New York, as he was born and raised in Astoria, Queens, and is the son of a Bangladeshi father and Trinidadian mother. Buy it, it's righteous.

The Corsair: DVD Talk said of God Has a Rap Sheet, "I've always said the best films are the ones that really spark conversation afterwards, and this is a prime candidate for such a description." Did you go into this with a desire to provoke questions in mind?

Kamal: Well Ron, It's not like I said -- "I want to do a movie with controversial overtones." But I pretty much knew it would happen.

The Corsair: Pulitzer Prize and Emmy winner John Ford Noonan, who plays the homeless man who claims to be God in God Has a Rap Sheet, is currently in Bellevue Hospital. How did you find him?

Kamal: I met John Ford Noonan in my old neighborhood in Hell's Kitchen. We became friends when he knew I was a sports fan.

The Corsair: When did you first decide you wanted to direct?

Kamal: I first got the directing bug, when I found a super 8 camera in my closet when I was 8 or 9. It was my mother's camera. I never actually shot anything, but I fantasized about shooting something for the next couple of years.

The Corsair: What was it like when you heard the Jerky Boys were nominated for a Grammy back in the day?

Kamal: When I heard about the Jerky boys being nominated in1994, I was kind of expecting it, because of the fact that we sold so many CD's in 1993. It was a drag that we didn't win, because I thought our first two albums were classics.

The Corsair: Your father started Little India. Will you thank him for me? I've had many encounters with deliciousness there.

Kamal: My father opened the first Indian restaurant in late 1968. It did well back then because it was down the block from the old Fillmore East rock club. Back in those days, Indian culture was real big with Hippies, so the restaurant was always packed.

The Corsair: You're currently in production for a hip-hop horror movie entitled "Rapturious", what's that like?

Kamal: The film I am working on now is a horror project called "Rapturious." There about 7 types of films I want to make- Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi, Comedy, Film Noir, Action, and (this one has it all).
A Little of the Old In and Out

(Special love and thanks to The Brazillian Muse for the pic)

In: Jamie Lee Curtis Versus Ana Nicole Smith: Hisss. Apparently, backstage at The View, Jamie Lee Curtis, Baroness Haden-Guest, had words with the former head fryer at Jims Krispy Fried Chicken (Averted Gaze), Anna Nicole Smith. This from the San Fransisco Examiner:

"Quote for the day

"'You do your thing and I'll do my thing, honey!'

"-- Jamie Lee Curtis disses Anna Nicole Smith backstage at a taping of 'The View'"

Out: DMX, who is giving even gangstas a bad name. Reading a DMX rap sheet is an exhausting experience. I mean, how much crime can a person commit before it gets old? Not nearly enough, according to this report from the Daily Dish:

"The hip-hop star appeared in a Queens, N.Y., court to answer charges relating to his arrest following an altercation in the John F. Kennedy Airport parking lot, in which DMX allegedly put flashing lights on his sports utility vehicle, chased a man through the lot, crashed through a toll both and attempted to assault him, over a parking space.

"When police searched DMX's vehicle, they found a billy club, a small amount of crack and Depakote, a drug prescribed for people who are bipolar, reports Web site
And while the case has been rescheduled for October 13, a woman from Maryland showed up at the court to hit the rapper, real name Earl Simmons, with a paternity suit.

"According to Monique Wayne, 24, DMX has acknowledged he is the father of her 5-month-old son, which he even helped name, but he has not provided her with any child support.
The child was conceived during a one-night stand after Wayne met the rapper in a nightclub in Washington, DC, last year."

I'm exhausted just reading that.

In: Sandra Bulloch's Getting Married. According to Star:

"According to a source close to Jesse (James), the 35-year-old motorcycle mechanic and star of Discovery Channel's Monster Garage popped the question during the couple's Hawaiian vacation in late July, which coincided with Sandra's 40th birthday (July 26). Another source revealed that the couple is currently deciding between two diamond engagement rings at Neil Lane Jewelry in L.A. "

All together now, people, say it loud, and say it proud: -- "Who cares!"

Out: Britney's Drug Dealer. According to that significant cultural artifact, The National Enquirer, "Britney has done the drug Ecstasy and smokes marijuana."


"'I know firsthand!' (link via Stereogum) the source -- who passed a polygraph test -- told The ENQUIRER in an exclusive interview."

Whatever the fuck happened to a little business-client discretion, people? Sheesh.

In: Dan Rather, Tears of a Clown. According to Lloyd Grove, Barbara "If You Were A Tree" Walters had some kind words for CBS Mannequin Dan Rather at her 20/20 signoff:

"As the audience applauded - including CBS network chairman and Viacom Co-president Leslie Moonves and CBS News President Andrew Heyward - Rather's eyes appeared to well up.

"'He looked pretty choked up,' one witness told me."

(Ed Note: Rather always looks choked up, not unlike a stuffed turkey.)

"But Rather, through his spokeswoman, denied there were tears: 'Dan was there in support of Barbara and was deeply appreciative of her words of support and everything she said,' Kim Akhtar E-mailed me."

Silly Lowdown, mediabots don't cry.

Out: Robert Downey Junior, Singer. According to Ananova:

"Robert Downey Jr is to carve out a new career as a singer after signing a recording contract with Sony Classical.

"His first album, including eight of his own compositions, is already scheduled for release in November, reports Billboard.

"'Robert is a brilliantly gifted songwriter who writes lyrics that are wise and moving,' says Sony Classical president Peter Gelb.

"'His burnished, smokey voice is an expressive and touching medium for the songs that he has written.'"

Yeah, cracksmokey, I'll bet.

"Downey sings and plays piano on the album which also contains two covers, Charlie Chaplin's Smile and Yes's Your Move."

In: Register to Vote. Ten Days Left, people. If you have not already registered to vote, please do so. This is the most important election of our lives, with a clear course for the direction that you want this country to go in. This blog will still be here when you get back.

Well, he's got that musician drug and rehab thing down pat, at least.
Japan's Imperial Household's Good PR Caper

In a rare public appearance after several months of seclusion after having a nervous breakdown of sorts, Japanese Crown Princess Masako appeared in public as the palace released home videos of her two-year-old daughter, Aiko. This rare peek behind "The Chrysanthemum Throne" is a calculated maneuver towards the importance of publicity, something that, one could argue, until recently, royals never really had to worry about.

The Japanese Imperial Family is rarely covered due to conservative press opinion in Japan of matters royal. The American press is not so conservative. Recently, however, there has been a "quiet crisis" -- how very Japanese Zen, no? -- as Japan Media Review reports:

" ... in recent months the royal household has been getting a bit more publicity than it's used to -- and unusually bad publicity at that. The popular Crown Princess Masako, under pressure to bear an heir to the Chrysanthemum Throne, has not been seen in public for months and reportedly suffered a nervous breakdown. In May her husband, Crown Prince Naruhito, stunned the press and public by using a routine press conference to allocate blame for his wife's illness and make a thinly veiled attack on Imperial Household Agency bureaucrats."

"The Japanese Imperial family is undergoing a quiet crisis. In the short-term it seems likely that the rules will have to be changed to allow the couple's only daughter Aiko to one day become empress. A long-term problem is that, if not actively disliked, more and more the Imperial family is simply ignored. Some commentators believe that public indifference to the Imperial family is the result of its growing irrelevance to modern Japan. They say it needs to find a new role for itself before the Japanese public loses interest completely. "

Unfortunaltely, Japan clings to an archaic code whereas women are not allowed to succede to the throne, and thus, Reuters reports, the stress of Crown Princess Masako:

"Royal watchers say much of the stress comes from pressure on her to produce a male heir and from moves to prevent her from acting as a sort of 'royal envoy' overseas.
"Aiko is the couple's only child and laws prohibit female succession. No boys have been born into the imperial family since Akishino, Naruhito's younger brother, in 1965. Both of Akishino's children are girls.

"Before this month, Masako had not left the palace since late April, when she returned from a month at her parents' vacation house in the resort town of Karuizawa, northwest of Tokyo. On the same day as the royal family arrived in Nasu, the Imperial Household Agency released pictures and home videos of Masako's two-year-old daughter.

"One video, aired on television, showed Aiko looking at a picture book and talking out loud as her father captured the scene on video.

"'Are you ready yet? Not yet,' Aiko said, repeating a verse used by children in Japan when they play hide and seek.

"Other video footage showed Aiko, wearing a light-blue dress, playing a harp with Masako, and the two of them dancing."
On David Dreier: Outed

Here is my response to Pencopal's well argued thoughts on my David Dreier blog posting yesterday:


I think you make a strong point and if you came away from my blog with mixed feelings, I want to clear things up.

I believe now that what I did wrong, in certainly the first few drafts of this post, was take the issue on in a snarky manner -- which is how I deal with 90 percent-plus of the pop cultural information here -- the outing of David Dreier and my comments upon that issue should have been dealt with in a more serious manner. The Bob Dylan lyrics were overmuch (taken off as of yesterday). The Hallelujah at the end in praise of this new era of bloggers outing hypocrites has since been taken out. I regret that the speed of the story and my better judgment were overmatched by the desire to make a splash. Another day's hindsight and less of a hangover works wonders in clearing up one's perspective.

Usually, my morning drafts are rougher hewn (I imagine one of those is what you read), and, around 4pm, when I've had a chance to smooth everything out, things look more finished, and the wheat is somewhat serparated from the chaff. And sometimes they just suck.

It is a fragile thing, this tactic of outing to expose hypocrisy. Is it possible to ever get back a modicum of what we once deemed private life in politics once that particular genie were to be let out of the proverbial bottle? And then what happens to the public discourse in this already acrimonious age? I think your post on my post (how meta is that, pencopal?) is important because we are on the brink of something big here -- bloggers as driving the news cycle in the last few weeks of the campaign. Our ethics do have to be on overdrive, even snarky little bloggers like moi. Frankly, I would not have outed him myself, had I been given the info via email, on the grounds that it may be the end of his political career as Dreier represents a conservative California district, and I don't want to be the ruin of a man -- even if he is a self-hating hypocrite who denies civil rights to a people -- I am snarky about people, but, I hope, never ruinous; I see my blog as having reported on the outing after the fact rather than doing the actual deed -- a small but significant distinction, in my mind.

I wouldn't do an outing, but, if it is done for a cause I believe in -- i.e. exposing the hypocrisy and anti gay agenda of a pol -- I would certainly blog my opinions on it after it went public. Now -- someone might say -- but isn't that the same as outing, especially if someone learned about Dreier's sexuality and his hypocrisy from my site, instead of, say, Wonkette, or the LA Weekly?
I'd say no, on the grounds that once something becomes part of the cultural exchange, becomes public, it's fair game to be chatted about, and, quite frankly, the primary reason I would never out someone who is politically hypocritical is that I could not in all honesty look myself in the mirror and take responsibility for the consequences that that act might entail. Talking about an already revealed fact and the act of revealing that fact are two different kettles of fish entirely (to me atleast), and I'm okay with being on one side and not the other.

Thanks for getting me thinking on this, pencopal, I feel very journalist now; I'll have you know that I'm now having a unique Romenesko Moment. There are so many "I's" in this post and no "The Corsair's," and my ego, quite frankly, was needing the boost (The Corsair puffs his chest out and holds his head up high) -- and the "I" key on my keyboard was screaming for attention, even if it meant being as exciting as a C-Span "Ethics in Journalism Forum" at 3AM, I appreciated the opportunity to show that I am more than just a pop cultural idiot savant.

I need alert readers to keep me on the up-and-up, protect me from getting to wrapped up in myself and going over to the Dark Side of the Blog. Now, I'm woozy. Let's get back to the pop cultural snark, before my head explodes.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

David Dreier: Outed

If you didn't already know, the brains behind Ahrnold's successful Governor's race, the moderate Republican DavidDreier has been outed. His abysmal voting record on gay issues was the main cause of the revelations that have rocked Georgetown. You will remember Dreier , he's the well-groomed and powerful California Congressman that appears frequently on Chris Matthews, and brokers powerful deals behind the scenes in the United States Congress, the world's Most Aristocratic Club. The Corsair has been suspicious of Drier ever since that Apple Martini Party during the Republican Convention in New York -- but never mind. So, what's the big deal, he's gay, so what?

Well, this: Drier has amassed in his 12 terms a voting record on gay civil rights, despite being in a very powerful position within the Republican Party, and despite being gay himself. That hypocricy was too much to let go: how does a gay man with unprecedented power consistently vote against the civil rights of gay Americans? And now the blogosphere is amplifying on the story. Writes Doug Ireland in the LA Weekly:

"The powerful 12-term congressman � chairman of the House Rules Committee, chairman of the California Republican House delegation, co-chairman of Californians for Bush, chairman of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger�s transition team � is in the cross hairs of Mike Rogers and his Web site, whose outing campaign has already forced one GOP congressman out of politics. Representative Ed Schrock, a reactionary from Virginia, ended his re-election campaign last month after Rogers put on his Web site an audiotape of Schrock trolling for tricks on a gay chat line."

Editor's Note: "MAJOR GOP Staffer to be outed later today!" Winds of change are sweeping the Georgian Neoclassical buildings of Washington. Blogs have finally arrived.

"Now, Rogers � a former development director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force � has given Dreier the 'Roy Cohn Award, in recognition of 24 years of working against gay and lesbian rights while living as a gay man yourself.' He is pummeling Dreier with almost daily revelations as a response to the GOP�s anti-gay crusade for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages.

"Rogers� campaign against Dreier got a major boost when it was taken up by Raw Story, the hot new liberal gadfly newsblog. Raw Story � which is edited out of Cambridge, Massachusetts, by 23-year-old John Byrne, who is also gay � last week published an interview with Dreier�s Democratic opponent in 1998 and 2000, Dr. Janice Nelson, who said she was aware during her 2000 campaign that Dreier was living with his chief of staff, Brad Smith. 'Brad was like an invisible presence,' she said. 'They really have the routine down slick.'�

Wonkette writes:

"Dreier represents a very conservative district, and has repeatedly taken anti-gay positions -- and not just your standard Federal Marriage Amendment-type stuff. According to the Weekly, he even voted against 'the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program designed to give shelter to the impoverished sick, and against funding for the federal ADAP program that furnishes the poor with the AIDS meds they need to stay alive.' Oh, the irony."

The rest of the story here.

I Can't Believe You Asked That

The Corsair is a little bit slow on the uptake, so he has just got around to an interesting book called I Can't Believe You Asked That, by Philip J. Milano, which distills the very best of On the subject of Race and Culture and Ethnicity, this book brings up some interesting "Fuck-if-I-know" questions that are inadvertently pretty funny, for example, Christopher L, a 25 year old "White and Latino" male, asks, "Why are most black people afraid of the woods?"

Or, from Melody, 34, white, "Why do Italians use their hands so much when they speak?" And this little chestnut from Naomi, 20, a black female, who asks, "Why do a lot of people of Asian descent own black hair care product stores? What do they know about black people's hair?"

To all of the above, I say, crisply, "Fuck if I know." Also, from a grown man who calls himself "Toast (Averted Gaze)," 24, white, "Why do black people eat so much cheese doodles and drink grape soda?"

Oh no "Toast" didn't ...

J. Wu, 18, Asian-American, asks the time old question, "I've always wondered why it seems the majority of older Spanish/ Mexican men gawk at females who walk by and even call out to them with lewd gestures and whistles."

I'm not sure if that's relegated to Spanish/Mexican men. Were they construction workers? That would explain a lot, J. Wu.

Anonymous, 30, asks, "I work for an older, wealthy Jewish woman. I am taken aback when she walks into our office and begins criticizing everything. I've been told this trait is typical of Jewish women. Is there any truth to this"

Don't hate the playa, Anonymous, hate the game.

NP, 35, African-American asks, "How do white people feel about the phrase 'White Trash'?"

J. Cooke, 43, white, asks, "What is the origin and significance in Hispanic culture of weeping until one passes out after the death of a loved one?"

Fuck if I know, J. Cooke.

Laurie. S, 48, a bisexual females asks, "I'm in a relationship with a Vietnamese man who says he loses his 'essence' when having an orgasm. He also believes too much sex makes a man age. Is this true of the whole Vietnamese culture?"

Fuck if I know, Laurie. S.

Finally, Julie, a 22 year old white female asks, "What does it mean when an American calls someone a 'French Whore?'"

Read all of this and more in the book, I Can't Believe You Asked That?