Sunday, September 27, 2009

Advertising, Like Most Things, Used to Be So Much Easier

  • In the 1930s, Alex Osborn, with BBDO, made them an ad campaign, in which was included the following slogan: "The season's best."
  • The 1940s featured a magazine advertising campaign with actress Lizabeth Scott as the face, next to the slogan "RC tastes best, says Lizabeth Scott".
  • In the 1960s, Royal Crown Cola did an ad campaign featuring two birds, made by Jim Henson
  • Nancy Sinatra was featured in two Royal Crown Cola commercials in her one hour special called "Movin' with Nancy" featuring various singers in November 1967. She sang "it's a mad, mad, mad Cola... RC the one with the mad, mad taste!...RC! "
  • Royal Crown was the official sponsor of New York Mets during the 1960s, 70s and 80s. A television commercial in the New York area featured Tom Seaver, New York Mets pitcher, and his wife, Nancy, dancing on top of a dugout at Shea Stadium and singing about RC Cola... "the mad, mad, mad, mad Cola! RC, the one with the mad, mad taste! RC, RC, RC, RC...." (Commercial fades out).
  • In the mid 1970s, Royal Crown ran an advertising campaign called "Me & My RC", the most famous of which featured actress Sharon Stone delivering pizza on a skateboard. Others featured people in a variety of scenic outdoor locations. The jingle, sung by Louise Mandrell, went "Me and my RC! Me and my RC!..What's good enough for anyone else, ain't good enough for me."
  • RC was introduced to Israel in 1995 with the slogan "RC: Just like in America!"

What happened? Now it's all that complicated shit, like "Drink Coke." I yearn for the simpler times, when doctors prescribed cigarettes, wars made sense, and no meant yes.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ah, the Dulcet Sounds of a Whining Loser...

The irritatingly out-of-touch, pandering schmucks behind network television series are up in arms over what they feel is unfair treatment:

Cable shows are winning all the Emmys!

Although they admit the cable shows are better, these overpaid network whingers, who are increasingly and unnervingly incapable of selecting shows they like for more than ten episodes, are of the opinion that network and cable shows shouldn't be judged the same way because they are "apples and oranges" due to the fact that cable shows don't have to create as many episodes as network series 'have to' and their busier schedule allows them less time to focus on their stories and results in their TV shows sucking and getting canceled.

“David Chase in his time off could conceive and write a full season of ‘The Sopranos...We can’t go about our business that way,” Ms. Jacobs noted. “As soon as we finish shooting one season in May, we have to start talking about the new season and get ready to start writing.” In addition to the production schedules cable shows sometimes make use of swearing and nudity, elements that create publicity but are generally not available to network series.
Wait a minute--swearing and nudity are being used by cable shows to create publicity? That's news to me--I thought they were being used to make television shows more realistic since, to paraphrase Boogie Nights' Jack Horner: "There's swearing and nudity in life, baby." If they also happen to make watching these shows more enjoyable for more perverted reasons, so be it, but Mad Men and Breaking Bad--the two best and most-lauded shows on television, airing on AMC--do not have any more nudity than your average network show.

Interesting the network representatives failed to bring up the fact that the cable shows of which they are jealous are all dramas with fabulous character development that keeps you guessing as to who is bad, who is good, and why, while network dramas still rely on the outdated, easy-to-follow-while-reading-the-paper 'good guys are in the army, bad guys are terrorists' model.

As for comedies, the networks seem to forget they have perennial hardware collector 30 Rock in their stable, although the only reason that show wins so many awards is that there is no real competition; I would argue there haven't been any good cable comedies since the British Office aired on BBC America, save perhaps Always Sunny in Philadelphia, on FX, but I haven't seen enough of it to know for sure. Neither, apparently, has anybody else. Most network comedies are virtually plotless 22-minute episodes of predictable and tired one-liners, parroted out by stock actors playing tired stereotypes that never develop as characters.
Case study in brief: British Office vs. American Office

The British one is one hour long, awesomely funny, rings true, featured heart-rending and hilarious character arcs, and never outstayed its welcome--only 14 episodes were ever made. It was so good that it won an Emmy for Best Comedy Series while broadcast on cable channel BBC America, a channel just about nobody watches.

The American version has so far aired 101 episodes, at least 14 of which focused on how (un)funny it is that Dwight lives on a farm. Like 30 Rock, it occasionally pulls down an award due to the dearth of worthy challengers, but it does occasionally hit the right note and makes me laugh. Sadly, though, it is more often boring, predictable, and stunted due to its 22 minute length. How long do they expect us to laugh at the same characters doing the same things? Why does a show need to go on until everybody hates it? Why can't they exit gracefully, like Gervais & Co. always do?
The bottom line is that people watch cable shows on TV and DVD because...wait for it...THEY ARE REALLY GOOD.

The networks like to bitch and moan about the fact that their audience numbers are higher per episode than any cable show, as if quantity warrants an award for quality--should the Best Picture Oscar go to Transformers 3 this year? Let me hear ya say, "No!"--but this is not only little more than a sneaky way to hint that there is some kind of intellectual snobbery going on, teabagger-style, but also misleading. They conveniently forget to consider how many people watch cable shows on DVD, even years after they aired (is anybody renting back seasons of King of Queens at your local Blockbuster? Thought not.).

Since I don't have access to detailed DVD sales/rental stats, let me instead give you a rough estimate: way more people have watched Mad Men on DVD than have watched any network show on the air this past season. Way more. That is why there is so much press about it, so many people are buzzing about it, so many awards are thrown at it--everybody is watching it at some point and everybody is loving it.

By the same token, Arrested Development was a huge hit among the same people who love Sopranos and Mad Men. Unfortunately, it aired on a network and when not enough people watch a show on-air, they pull the plug no matter what. In a rare move, the only reason it was brought back for a third season was because of surprisingly impressive sales of DVDs. Rather than taking advantage of this popularity, maybe by negotiating a bigger cut of DVD revenue to offset underwhelming ad revenue, they pulled the plug on the show mid-season when the broadcast numbers weren't where they would have liked them.

They replaced it with a string of awful shows that attracted even fewer viewers and refused to let the creators take the show to a different network, not wanting to be made to look like idiots if it matured into the next Seinfeld (which took quite awhile, and a lot of patience, to develop into a hit) and won multiple Emmys. Ah, the network way is glorious.

Good job, geniuses--abort what was easily your best show since the Simpsons and then bitch when other channels leave their fantastic shows on the air, start up new ones, and rack up the Emmys, advertising revenue, licensing revenue, and DVD revenue--all by spending less money per episode than the networks do.

Here's a good suggestion that I hope they take me up on, since the networks seem to need my help desperately:

If, by their own admission, a shorter season results in better storytelling, which attracts better writers, and results in shows that people actually like, can't this be turned into a profitable revelation? Can't the networks--who, one would assume 'control their own destiny'--simply...change their schedules? Can't they turn their existing and future series into 13-episode seasons and create enough of them to run for a year on their one measly channel, filling any gaps with reruns that will actually be watched because they will actually be good?

It's not like their current tactics are that successful; as it stands, they cancel many new shows after only 6-10 episodes and immediately give the time slot to a mid-season replacement. Instead of trying to write one shitty 26-episode season of a show, then changing their mind midway through because "the ratings aren't there," why not just make both shows anyway, each with a shorter 13-episode season, and see what happens?

It ain't rocket science, assholes--it's entertainment. Stop trying to find or recreate some magical formula--make good television, however the fuck you need to do it, whoever else you need to pay to do it, and put it on the air in shorter, higher-quality seasons.

Now quit your bitching or I'll stuff a dirty sock down your throat while swearing at you and showing my butt, on one of those sexy cable channels that are so popular these days for some reason...


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sweet Valley Barbie

You've patiently waited your entire life for this moment, stuck for what has seemed like forever in a state of perma-tween-ness, despite your encroaching crow's feet, expanding web of spider veins, oceans of cellulite, Ann Taylor shopping sprees, the fact that you still live with your mom...and now you shall be rewarded with two of your three wishes coming true, dearie, both arriving at a theater near you sometime in the next couple years:

1. Everybody's favorite annoying bitch, Diablo Cody, has an Earth-shattering idea she simply must bring to life--the ghost-written 152 book series Sweet Valley High--and the studios were tripping over each other to help her do it on their dime, despite the fact that she doesn't even own the rights yet, both she and her manager demanded to be attached as producers, her latest movie (Jennifer's Body) only made $8.6 million in its opening weekend, and her and Evilberg's TV series, The United States of Tara, still sucks.
Predicted Worldwide Gross: $152 billion for the entire series (provided the Sweet Valley High twins are turned into sexy vampires, of course)

2. Universal won the derby for the Sweet Valley Vamps, but rather than rest on its engorged laurels, they went right back out to the mall and picked up the movie rights to Barbie from Mattel. Cracka, what? Now THAT is going to be an awful movie. Can you imagine how shitty the animation is going to be, how annoying the voice will be? What is she going to do? Shop, get her nails done, battle anorexia, and fall in and out and back in love with Ken again? Boring!
Predicted Worldwide Gross: $9 billion for the 9-part series, provided Barbie at some point becomes a vampire

What can I say, baby? When a studio makes an uninspired, market-pandering decision to remanufacture exhausted, woefully-uninventive shit instead of creating indelible, original art, they really go for it. As for your third wish...sorry, toots--Patrick Swayze died the other day. No take-backs.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Unspoken Evil In the Housing Market, Country

(photo courtesy Sally Ryan/New York Times)

The New York Times printed an article today about the house next door to that of the Obamas (pictured above) being put on the market recently. It was an interesting article for many reasons, but hidden amidst the facts and figures is a phenomenon that is sadly not getting enough attention:

Very few people I know--college educated, with jobs--can afford to buy a house, regardless of record-low mortgage rates and falling home prices. Some of them have settled for overpriced condos, some have moved into farm country and face ridiculous commutes, most are prepared to stay in rental apartments far longer than previous generations ever did.

This is not healthy for our country, as we are now firmly on the path to becoming a two-class nation--working-poor renters and fabulously-wealthy landlords, the modern-day equivalent of ever-toiling serfs and their wealthy land-owning lords.

For Your Consideration:

The year is 1973. The house next to the Obamas, a beautiful 17-room mansion on the south side of Chicago, sells to a young couple for $35,000. The median household income for that year was $12,051; assuming they were average, the house cost 3 times their annual salary.

The year is now 2009. In 36 years, their house is now worth in the neighborhood of $1-3 million--an increase of between 28 and 85 times the original purchase price and a fabulously lucrative investment. In 2006 (the last year figures are available), the median household income was $58,407; the same house would now cost the new owner 17-51 times their annual salary.

[Also, keep in mind that the inflated 2006 figure reflects double-breadwinning households, which was not common in 1974, so the difference is even greater than it appears.]

And you wonder why so many people took out bad loans? They felt they deserved to live in a house, as hard-working, gainfully-employed couples--and they were right--but the market was such that there was actually no way they could afford to pay for one. Between greedy real estate developers, corrupt politicians, predatory bankers, insatiable real estate trusts, real estate speculation, and bidding wars, prices became artificially, unsustainably high. Wannabe homeowners forced their hand and they lost. Big time.

The Man: 9,941,994, Men: 0.

Meanwhile, the bleeding doesn't stop there, of course.

Real wages (adjusted for inflation) have remained stagnant since 1974, despite enormous increases in productivity and work hours. In other words, while costs have risen dramatically, you are making the same amount--or, in most cases, less--than your father did in 1974, when gas was $0.55 a gallon and a beer at a ballpark cost ten cents. A beer at a recent LA Dodger game set me back $12, or 1/12 of my daily take-home pay.

In the last 36 years, health care costs have skyrocketed, retirement benefits have dwindled or disappeared, and the cost of a private university education has gone from $10,000 a year to $32,000 a year (for public universities, costs have increased 37% in the last 10 years alone).

How are we supposed to live like this? How are intelligent people who have a soul--and, therefore, did not become shady bankers, selfish corporate executives, or lawyers--supposed to afford to buy a house somewhere that could be classified as 'non-bumblefuck?'
Homeowners’ equity fell to 41.4 percent of the total value of household real estate at the end of the first quarter of 2009. This percentage has decreased sharply since the end of 2005. It first fell below 50 in the fourth quarter of 2007 – marking the first time that homeowners’ mortgage debts exceeded their equity in their homes since 1945, when the Fed’s data begins.
There you have it, folks--sixty-four years of 'progress' has resulted in a net-loss of equity. Thank you, corporate America, for shipping all the wealth not in your own pockets overseas.

Are we reaching a point where intelligent, rational people are going to start moving off the grid in droves and repopulate depressed rural areas in their quest for an affordable house? Will we all have to live in factories abandoned by 'patriotic' corporations who moved all their non-executive jobs to China? Where will all these newly-rural people work? How far will they have to drive to shop somewhere that isn't evil-incarnate WalMart? How are they supposed to afford to send their children to school?

Or, since everyone has a college degree these days (thanks, University of Phoenix!) and a diploma doesn't even guarantee a job at Starbucks, will people eventually stop sending their children to college?

I know that sounds crazy, or at least illogical, but if we look at the matter honestly, and perform a simple cost/benefit analysis, at some point the costs will outweigh the benefits. Who wants to graduate college $100,000 in debt, with an ever-dwindling prospect of gainful employment and the looming fear that they will need to locate another $750,000 just to buy a house in the city they grew up in?

It wasn't even 100 years ago that most intelligent, productive people got their education in the real world, unable to afford a college education. They got menial or entry-level jobs and worked their way up from there.

However, what with unemployed PhDs fighting each other over janitorial jobs these days, another, more exotic option is becoming increasingly enticing, and probably as useful:

Formerly an option only for wealthy members of the aristocracy, these days a high-school graduate could choose--instead of going to college--to live, frugally, in a string of major European cities over a four year period, immersing him/herself in language, culture, and the arts. This would not only provide a well-rounded liberal arts education and--shockingly, but truthfully--be cheaper than attending a 4-year American college, but it also comes with free, top-o-the-line health care! Invent a time machine and sign me up!

Time to dust off your Grand Tour brochures, travel agents!
(If the Internet didn't kill you all slowly...)

You may think this is all a joke. You may think these ideas are radical, ridiculous, and ill-informed. You may be right, you may be wrong, but the way I see it, this is the very real, human side of the matter, one that is rarely discussed in the media, or over the dinner table.

The exorbitant cost of a comfortable, quality life in the United States these days--now more unattainable than ever--is the dubious result of three main factors:

1. Decades of unnecessary, harmful real estate speculation by wealthy American freelance speculators, deep-pocketed real estate trusts, investment organizations, and corporations.
2. The insatiable hunger for profit that defines the modern corporation.
3. The fact that our government has failed to act on behalf of its less-moneyed-yet-vastly-more-numerous constituents, failed to step in with laws/oversight/restrictions, and is therefore complicit in allowing the situation to spiral out of control.

For all their blustery talk about America being the richest and most powerful nation on Earth, the rich and greedy oligopoly has created a country its own hard-working citizens can barely afford to live in.

What, may I ask, is the benefit of that, aside from the pieces of silver lining their pockets?


Monday, September 21, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

Spike Jonze has been working on his latest movie, Where the Wild Things Are, since 2003. At this point, I've heard so many rumors about how bad it is, how awesome it is, that it's dead, that it's alive, the movie has taken shape in my mind as some sort of impossible, mythical task, with Jonze as Sisyphus.

I expected to forget all about Spike Jonze, gradually, as he edited and re-edited, shot and re-shot the movie behind closely-guarded doors, and slowly grow old. One day in my silver-fox old age, I would randomly hear about his passing, curiously read through the obituary, and hear tale of his "unfinished masterpiece," which some tearful friend or family member, of course, will say "probably killed him, sucked the life right out of him."

At this point, the similarities to Charlie Kaufman's directorial effort, Synecdoche, New York--about a director whose last play is a life-consuming spiral into the depths of his own mind--are startling, if also, thankfully, a bit premature.

You see, after numerous script difficulties, technical problems, battles with studio executives, cost over-runs, re-shoots, and rumors...Where the Wild Things Are is finally set to be released October 16, 2009--six years after Jonze signed onto the project.

Curious how Warner Brothers is approaching the marketing of this potentially mind-blowing/sleep-inducing art film that has almost no plot and actually made kids cry in a test screening? Dig into this:
Where the Wild Things Are seems sure to appeal to the sensibilities of a certain cohort of urban young adults — the type who read comic-book novels and wear skateboard sneakers; who might concur with a note I saw one day scrawled on a legal pad in Jonze’s office: “There is no difference between childhood and adulthood.”

Finding an audience beyond that demographic, though, may well pose a challenge to Warner’s marketing department, which is trying to position the movie as a family-friendly film for kids of all ages. They have adopted a broad-based strategy to lure children into the theater, buying advertising on Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network. They’ll also be making a special effort to reach what one executive described to me as “hip, tastemaker” kids: Ugg will be selling a special “Where the Wild Things Are” kids’ boot, and Urban Outfitters has a collection of “Where the Wild Things Are” T-shirts and shadow puppets. [emphasis mine]

Uggs, overpriced Urban Outfitter T-shirts, and shadow puppets? That's the extent of their guerilla advertising operation? Uggs? Really? The only I could think of more stupid than that would be shadow puppets.

Damn, those marketing dogs over at Warner Brothers are clueless. Just because some 12 year-old girl's wearing stopped-being-cool-years-ago boots with the title of a weird kids' movie stamped on them does not make anybody want to go see that movie. Some dorky kid playing with shadow puppets by himself in his room is not going to convince anyone to see that movie. People will go see the movie if it looks good.

What some people fail to understand, despite the fact that they are often well-paid professionals who studied marketing in college, is that name recognition and appeal are two very different things.

Commercials, newspaper ads, billboards, bus-shelters, decal-wrapped train cars, entire buildings painted like a poster, napkins at Starbucks, battery-operated toothbrushes shaped like the marketing machines would rather spend $100 million to bully cultural weaklings into seeing a movie than spend that money to make the movie better, or to make three other movies that might be worth making, might earn them a dark-horse hit.

If the film business is a gamble--and it most certainly is--then you're better off throwing as many darts as you can at that board, rather than one really expensive one with a high risk of hitting the box office public like a big turd in the face.

But what do I know? I'm just a mook. See you at the theater. Maybe.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

A turd by any other name would smell as shitty

Bernie Madoff does Lebanon!

Sort of:

The money disappeared, judicial authorities say, in a billion-dollar pyramid scheme that has riveted [Lebanon]. Its mastermind, a businessman named Salah Ezzedine, was charged with fraud on Saturday and is being called the “Lebanese Bernie Madoff" in local newspapers. Bankers say it is the biggest fraud of its kind this country has ever seen.

But the dollar figures have drawn less attention here than Mr. Ezzedine’s close links with Hezbollah, the militant Shiite movement. Many of the investors — mostly Shiites living in Beirut and southern villages like this one — say those party links were the reason they chose to risk their hard-earned savings with a man who offered 40 and 50 percent profits but never showed any paperwork.


The important thing to note here is that the bold and embarrassing financial crimes of Bernie Madoff and Salah Ezzedine share at least two fundamental similarities:

1. Victims risked money they couldn't afford to lose, greedy for the suspiciously high rates of return they were promised (40-50%? Come on, Lebanon...). This violates the first rule of gambling--never bet what you can't afford to lose. I feel no remorse for these victims who lost everything. They were stupid and greedy and paid the price. Lesson learned. Maybe instead of going on vacation this year, or eating, they can instead read through their religious text of choice and fill their stomachs with the fruit of divine wisdom.

2. Victims took it on faith--literally--that everything was kosher, that their money was safe because they invested it with an affable man who shared their religious beliefs.

I hope at least a few of the victims of both schemers take this as a sign that maybe faith isn't all it's cracked up to be. Religion offers no shelter from evil--indeed, religions shelter far more evil than they repel.

With that in mind, it is a sad truth that religion and politics are inescapably entwined. Religion is the opiate of the people, as Karl Marx wisely wrote. It is one of the major sources of power for the ruling class and enables it to dominate the political playing field despite being woefully outnumbered by the downtrodden. I would argue religion is the most powerful political weapon there is, the more-realistic equivalent of mass hypnosis.

If the people are cowed into obeying their ministers, be it out of fear or respect, and the ministers are in the pocket of the ruling party, then the rulers control the people. Those minorities whose beliefs stray from the party line are generally ignored until they are perceived as a threat, as an organization that might one day decide to put their own king in power, burn down parliament and instigate riots, or even just take control of the purse strings.

Pagans are burned at the stake, Christians are fed to lions, Jews are loaded into ovens, Muslims are wrongfully imprisoned, tortured, and killed in unnecessary wars...why?

Control. If you do not belong to the ruling religion and you are numerous, you are a dangerous faction operating outside of their control and you must be eliminated.

These days, fear among the ruling class is so pervasive that even irreligious intellectuals are being persecuted in the fashion of dangerously-popular religious minorities. These intellectuals, as always, are not drinking the Kool Aid--they are aware of all the bullshit that goes on in our government, all the bullshit corporations are able to get away with, and how deliberately misleading political leaders and corporate media are. They spread politically dangerous information, organize themselves into collectives and prepare to inform ignorant people of the truth by peacefully protesting corrupt political agendas, only to be either preemptively detained or immediately swarmed by riot police on-site and wrongfully imprisoned for days on end, with no charges brought, freed only when the G8/IMF/RNC gathering is over.

Yes, ruling fatcats, 'tis best to keep the people ignorant, fat, and gullible--but we know it is that double-edged sword of gullibility that is your Achilles heel, hence your too-strict control of information and free speech, hence our frequent attempts to inform.

Bringing it back to religion for a minute, it is important to note that Karl Marx was not the first to compare religion to opium, though he was certainly the most direct. Check out the following passage from the Marquis de Sade's 1797 novel, L'Histoire de Juliette:

Though nature lavishes much upon your people, their circumstances are strait. But this is not the effect of their laziness; this general paralysis has its source in your policy which, from maintaining the people in dependence, shuts them out from wealth; their ills are thus rendered beyond remedy, and the political state is in a situation no less grave than the civil government, since it must seek its strength in its very weakness. Your apprehension, Ferdinand, lest someone discover the things I have been telling you leads you to exile arts and talents from your realm. You fear the powerful eye of genius, that is why you encourage ignorance. This opium you feed your people, so that, drugged, they do not feel their hurts, inflicted by you. And that is why where you reign no establishments are to be found giving great men to the homeland; the rewards due knowledge are unknown here, and as there is neither honor nor profit in being wise, nobody seeks after wisdom.

I have studied your civil laws, they are good, but poorly enforced, and as a result they sink into ever further decay. And the consequences thereof? A man prefers to live amidst their corruption rather than plead for their reform, because he fears, and with reason, that this reform will engender infinitely more abuses than it will do away with; things are left as they are.

Left as they are, indeed. Sound eerily familiar to the situation we see today?

A Democratic majority in the California legislature can't pass a budget because the Republican minority refuses to cooperate, refuses to raise any taxes, and, unlike any other state in the country, a 2/3 majority is required to pass a budget.

When do 2/3 of politicians agree on anything other than going to war for no reason, lest they be scalped by illiterate, drunken Southern idiots?

Meanwhile, U.S. Senators are acting like children and doing everything they can to block change for the better, in the health care realm and every other realm you can imagine. Their plan is clearly to prevent ANY legislation from taking place, in order to claim in the next election that "Democrats are pussies who didn't do anything with a sitting President and a Congressional majority. Vote for me because I believe in God, I think your sons should die on foreign soil somewhere so my oil stocks will skyrocket, I will increase spending while cutting taxes, and I believe in God, dontcha know..."

Meanwhile, they are being picked off one-by-one in bigamist/nymphomaniac/pederast sex scandals, each more sordid than the one before. Praise Jesus!

Even OBAMA had to pretend to be religious in order to become president. Everyone I know cringed when he referred to God in one of his speeches (I can't remember which one, but it was in the heat of the race, when he clearly needed the stupid vote to carry him into office) because we viewed him as one of us--the first President in recent memory who is smart and capable and has no regard for the control-mechanism-bullshit that is religion.

Was he just posing? Was he serious? Were we wrong? We would all like to think we wouldn't, couldn't, pander to the masses as he did, but it's impossible to say. None of us have been so close to the presidency we could taste it. You know what they say about power, motherfucker--it corrupts.

The only fact available to us here is that the stupid people in America--who far outnumber the intelligent ones, obviously, sadly--will not vote for a President who is smart enough to realize religion is little more than a island of comfort in a sea of unanswered questions about our existence, little more than a tool of control exerted over weak minds, because not only does the fear of the unknown scare them nearly to death, but it would mean that they were wrong and dumb and have been wasting a lot of time in church.

As the Marquis said far more eloquently, all these people want to do is operate humbly, peacefully, within a system they never even care to understand--that is why they are so easily manipulated and why the world is the way it is these days.

Some day soon--hopefully in my lifetime, so I can have the pleasure of watching Rome burn--activist intellectuals will realize revolt is the only answer and act accordingly. Remember: we outnumber the people in charge!

Will we win? You never know. We can certainly give 'em a good fight, but we might wind up needing a meteor on our side, just to make sure of things. It'll be hard for any surviving enemies to care about interest rates, environmental raping, and corporate tax subsidies when Wall Street is rubble and a war-painted, pipe-smoking professor is bringing a sledgehammer down on their nuts.


Are You So Old You Should You Have Your Driver's License Revoked?

Then Lexus is the automobile manufacturer for you!

A car with a talking GPS that you can pre-program 200 destinations into online? I mean, a car your grandson can program 200 destinations into online? Wait a minute--the voice tells you where to go and if you still can't figure it out, an actual person will come on the line, politely neglect to tell you how stupid you are, and tell you how to get there in a loud, measured voice?

My crystal ball is getting cloudy. You know what that means...uh-oh, here we go...

I hear a deafening conversation taking place in the front seat of a pesky, dented, diaper-scented Cadillac about to be replaced by a Lexus with EnformTM eDestinationTM technology:
"Where does Mabel live?"
"I thought YOU knew!"
"Ask the car."

Nothing happens.

"I told you so."
"Well, maybe we should get one of those Lexuses. The Joneses have one and it does whatever they tell it to do."

Three hours later, they arrive at Mabel's house only two miles away.

Three weeks later, they trade in the Cadillac for a Lexus and promptly drive off a bridge when the calm voice at the helm says to continue straight ahead...
Thank you, Lexus!


Eight-year-olds, dude.

I may be behind the times--or off my memory meds again--but check out what I just found while in a Marquis de Sade internet k-hole:

Wow. Nice. I love it when a silver-haired old pervert says LOL and uses 'your' incorrectly. It's a real turn on--makes me wanna go down to the junior high, get some kids drunk, and fuck some unsuspecting ass! Woo! Hypocritical Republican Roman Catholics rule!

In case you were curious, I found the above article while reading this gem.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Will the Real Jay Leno Please Stand Up?

It's unfortunate that Kanye West's first public appearance post-VMA-blunder happened to be an already-scheduled appearance on Jay Leno's new, for lack of a better word, show. Has that guy ever given a good interview?

I can think of about 10,000 people I'd rather hear coax a worthless apology (either you got class or you don't) out of Chicago's most arrogant rapper. Letterman? Conan? Jon Stewart? My mailman?

I would rather see Kanye interviewed by somebody impersonating Leno than by Leno himself. What does that say about a fella?

I'll tell ya what it says--it says that fella is broke. Not financially, of course, since he continues to make millions due to his traction with the Alzheimer's set, but charisma-wise, intelligence-wise, humor-wise--broke.

But you probably already know all this.

What you may not know, however, is how morally broke Jay Leno is. Read on...

The guy pulls down over $25 million a year and loves cars. He has anywhere from 50-100 of them, plus almost as many motorcycles. He keeps them in an airplane hangar he adorably refers to as his 'garage' and employs 3-5 full-time mechanics to keep his fleet running smoothly.

Bottom line: When Jay Leno sees a car he wants, he buys it.

Unless that car is a rarity worth $1.2 million and the 90-something owner not only suffers from dementia, but also has no intention of selling him the car.

In that instance, Mr. Leno will simply conspire to swindle the old man out of the car, with the eager assistance of the manager of the Manhattan garage where the car was stored for fifty years.

The story goes like this:

A 1931 Duesenberg, but not the one in question

Jay had been trying to buy the car for years. He stored some cars in the same Manhattan garage in which the other rich guy stored some of his. Every time he walked past it, he wanted it even more...but the old prick wouldn't sell!

Conveniently, the owner of the 1931 Duesenberg, an heir to the Macy's fortune (of course), was unknowingly behind on his payments, so one day the garage manager sent a letter of warning that said if he did not pay his bill, the car would be auctioned off.

The owner promptly sent a check for $20,000 and the garage manager sneakily credited the money to some other cars held in a different garage owned by the same company. He then auctioned off the car to the only invited bidder, Jay Leno, who paid a relatively meager $180,000 for the automotive gem--over $1 million less than it was worth.

The old man never realized what happened and quickly kicked the bucket. Once his heirs swooped in and discovered part of their expected inheritance missing, all hell broke loose. They found out about the sham auction and immediately sued Jay Leno, the manager of the garage, and the company that owns the garage.

Three days later, the manager of the garage drove out to his summer home, parked his pick-up truck in the driveway, and put a bullet in his brain.

Guilt's a bitch.

Unless you're Jay Leno, that is. In his world, nothing has changed. Doritos for breakfast, Doritos for lunch, tool out to Burbank in a million-dollar car your employees refurbished for you, read a bad monologue your writers wrote for you, poorly interview two guests, laugh at your own jokes more than anyone else ever does, jerk-off in the shower, cry about how you have no friends, sleep, repeat.

He probably doesn't even remember anything about the entire affair, Bush-White-House-style. He probably never even thought he was in the wrong, figured the car belonged to him because he could figure out a way to get it, to game the system.

I'm sure his lawyers will postpone the trial for years, then appeal for still more years, and finally have his accountant cut a check for some small settlement to the only heir still hanging on for the fight, American-justice-style.

Welcome to the world of the megarich assholes, Jay! You and Kanye will get along splendidly.

Don't believe me? Read this. I couldn't find the original article I read last year, but this explains enough...


Words to Live By

"And if there's anything I can do to help Taylor in the future or help anyone, I want to live this thing. It's hard sometimes, so."
--Kanye West

I'm sure by now you have all heard about Kanye West grabbing the microphone from some tween-wet-dream country singer and intimating that Beyonce should have won the award instead, so I will shy away from the facts of the matter and get right to the giblets:

Kanye has always been arrogant--I once watched him exit a custom gull-wing Mercedes sports car, walk the red carpet as his friend inched the car alongside him, then climb back behind the wheel and leave the party--and I doubt he has many friends aside from the eternally-wandering ghost of his deceased mother, but what exactly got into him Sunday night and made him unleash his inner asshole on the national stage like that?

Who's to say, really, but it might have been Hennessey:
West's appearance on Monday's prime-time premiere of "The Jay Leno Show" capped a 24-hour period that began Sunday evening with him strolling down the red carpet at New York's Radio City Music Hall while gulping from a bottle of Cognac.
Wow. I would respect that bottle-toting move if it hadn't resulted in such classlessness. Ballsy. I don't even think ole Jack would have tried that one in his heyday...

But any man who "[wants] to live this thing" needs to find a way to move on, to turn the tide back in your favor. As such, Kanye has since apologized several times, in multiple media, and for the most part blames it all on the death of his mother two years ago and not taking enough time off work (no mention of the cognac or his congenital prickishness). Classy once more.

The entertainment industry being the way it is, however, I'm sure it won't be long before the country darling takes him up on his vague, mumbling offer to "help [her] in the future or help anyone."

Methinks we should prepare to be bombarded in a fortnight's time by a nursery-rhyme-caliber country song about Twittering a cute boy, backed by some random beats Kanye steals from Daft Punk. Heal me, clueless music industry! Heal me! LOL!


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Postapocalypse Now?

I realize it's no surprise to those of us 'in the know,' since we know everything, wink, wink, but for the rest of y'all, recognize:

A depressed relic of a mining community in Bumble, Kansas, is little more than a gasping ghost town full of toxic poor people crying for help. There is no work. There is nothing to do. Everybody in town wants to go anywhere else. The Earth may as well be salted.

Don't believe me? Peep this:

The Mayor of Treece

This is what the Mayor of Treece, Kansas, has to say:
Mayor Bill Blunk sees no reason for sugar-coating his opinion when asked to describe this town.

“It’s dead,” he said. “Wasted land.”

Almost anywhere else on the map, such bluntness could cost a politician re-election. But not here. Mr. Blunk has the near-unanimous support of the population, 140 people or so, who are perhaps singular among residents of municipalities in that they all want out of theirs.

“I’d be happy to go as anyone,” said Randall Barr, a retired sand company worker. “You can’t do anything with this land. What good is it?”

“My father was one of the last miners,” Glenda Powell said. “He died of cancer, and so did my mom — bad lungs. This has always been home, and I don’t know where we’d go, just a place where we can breathe.”


What the fuck? Is this the dust bowl? What year is this? Is the reanimated corpse of John Steinbeck crouching in the weeds over there, gleefully jotting notes for Grapes of Wrath 2: A Zombie Tale? Is this all part of some twisted, evil-mastermind/New-York-art gallery-director's plan to amass a treasure trove of fresh, achingly expressive black+white portraits of poor people to sell to rich people for a blushing profit?

But what shall become of the babbittry? Where are their Republican saviors on white horses, sworn to protect the rights of poor people everywhere to be poor enough and dumb enough to trust them implicitly and never revolt, but never so poor that they might organize and try something drastic?

It not being an election year, I suppose those jowly heroes are just too busy accepting bribes, lying with each breath, contaminating the environment, cheating on their wives and constituents, being hypocritical, and childishly impeding necessary change to care too much about 140 unemployed Kansans in a state they always win anyway.

The great Strom Thurmond's protege, GOP Congressman Joe Wilson

The people of Treece (which just sounds like some city-state in a Greek tragedy, doesn't it?) have naught to do but sit idly on their dilapidated porches chewing inedible objects, unsure of how to respond to the neglect:
What the F?! Never saw this horseshit coming. Thankfully, I'm in a position where, despite the fact that I am destitute and living in a veritable fire swamp, I can easily ignore it all, watch NASCAR, and somehow still pack on the pounds. It is even easier than I thought to turn a deaf ear to that small voice in the back of my stunted brain, shouting into the wind, 'wait--why aren't they doing anything, those capable, loving, God-fearing-when-convenient men and women in charge? They promised to look after me if I voted for them! Can't they get out here and kiss some babies, airlift in some powdered milk, distribute free toaster ovens, pose for a few triumphant photos, and make me feel less unhappy/guilty/greedy/fat?'
Well, come on, little voices in the back of the brains of Treecians--stop asking for so much. Let us give those tireless public servants the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it's not their fault. Maybe the Republicans could devote a few minutes of their time to defend the common man if that pesky colored fella wasn't wasting all their time trying to help the little man in the health care game, forcing them to fight tooth and nail for the sake of their obscenely wealthy, fearful financial base...

Which brings me to my point--perhaps without realizing it, we are living in a post-apocalyptic world, populated with near-neanderthals and ruled by untrustworthy, blood-sucking, survivalist assholes. Maybe it was a slow burn and we didn't even feel it, but here we are, suddenly realizing we just got off a ride, our minds reeling post-involuntary-extraction from the Matrix.

What the fuck is going on? How did we get here? After untold centuries of incessant labor, how is it we are not all able to finally just chill out, sleep in, spend our afternoons sitting in cafes philosophizing as our money effortlessly multiplies, and go home to write a hit play, then watch it in the national theater next week with our old college buddies and begin a torrid affair with the blossoming prima donna?

Why have we allowed ourselves to arrive at a point in time where I would rather live in the past than the future? When was the last time so many intelligent people felt this way? During the Plague? Why have we created a world inhabited by more sandwich artists than real artists?

Word to all you ostriches out there: shit sucks and it is not getting better. It's every man for himself. Primal shit. You want my advice, get yourself a piece of land, a tent, a couple hundred Bic lighters, some Cheetos, and an arsenal that would make Dick Cheney blush. When you see three flares in the night sky, it's time to storm the Bastille. It's the only way to enact any real change, for better or worse. Trust me.

Hey--before you go, I'll trade you 42 shiny things for that one little can of soup and that jerk mag in your backpack. Deal?