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The Public Blogging of Pomosexuality, Homotextuality, Homophobiaphilia, and Drear Theory (aka Career Theory) [aka Gay4Pay]. We also read the Corner and OpJournal so the right buttock will be punished as well.
All comments subject to publication. Or dismissal. Or Both.
The three most interesting things I learned in the last 24 hours:
1) Last week, for the first time ever, all the top ten places on the American pop charts were held by black artists. I'm pretty sure this has been true of the top 5 many times, but top 10 dominance has been a long time coming. There is a top 40 and a mule joke in this somewhere, but framing it in a way that is anything less than phenomenally offensive has so far defeated me.
3) A system of copy protection can be a thing of beauty and a work of art itself, if the minds that dominate the industry devising the protection scheme are more creative than those of, say, music and movie industry executives. And the United States Congress. Not a high hurdle, to be sure. It's called the Jack Valenti test. Or alternately (and internationally) the Jack Lang test. ( Incidentally, why was it that the man in charge of shrink wrapping the entire French culture for so many years preferred the anglo nick to the froglo one? And why is more not made of the spooky echo that bounces between M. Jack Lang and M(Fritz Lang)? And fuck, now I have to add a parenthectical 4th most interesting thing I learned today. Where does M. Jack Lang sit in the French national assembly? Numéro de la place occupée dans l'hémicycle : 441 )
New York's Gay City Newsfront page eye candy last week was buff circuit boy Paul "Boom Boom Boom Let's Go Back to My Room" Wolfowitz.
"Why?", you ask.
I don't know why. The Gay City News doesn't know why either. Wolfowitz was interviewed on stage at the New School as part of the New Yorker magazine festival. And for some reason the GCN made their coverage of the event the week's lead story.
Why does the New Yorker have a festival? Why was Paul Wolfowitz interviewed in public as part of it? What other magazines have festivals that no one is inviting you to? What incongruous guests are part of those? Again, good questions. And again, no one knows the answers.
The Gay City News, as usual, humiliates all gay Americans, and first year English students everywhere no matter their sexual orientation, with the article's title:
BIG BAD WOLFOWITZ
Why not DANCES WITH WOLFOWITZ as long as we're being completely lame. Or HOUR OF THE WOLFOWITZ for the art house quadriplegics. HOUR AND A HALF OF THE WOLFOWITZ would even have conveyed some actual information about the event, while eliciting the same zero chuckles.
The article itself was so non-gay that I was thinking it must be like one of those legendary After Dark profiles of some gay dude who everyone knew was gay cubed, though the subject never comes up in the profile. So I'm thinking Wolfowitz must be gay himself, that's the hook. Cool. The Corner's gonna be so pissed.
There was even an After Darkish crypto-homo moment early on, to heighten the effect:
Sharply dressed plainclothes security officers, with closely cropped hair and speaking into electronic communications devices, lined the wings of the stage.
This is as close as the Gay City News has ever gotten to an erotically charged sentence. Electronic communication devices is a stroke of genius, too. Stroked out genius.
The deeper I read, though, the clearer it became that GCN was just doing the all-news-is-gay-news thing. They did manage to ID one of the protestors in the audience as gay about 5/6ths of the way through the article. His name is James Wagner. He is 62 years old and he held up a sign (dear gods and demons of all religions, save me from that fate) that read "Like Goebbels and Lord Haw Haw". Always count on the gay guy for the camp reference.
Mr. Wagner also provides the only heartfelt laugh in the piece, though it comes at the expense of his restless, continuing-education spirituality:
"I find it inconceivable that we have to be here today to confront this man,” Wagner said, as the audience filed out of the auditorium. “I find this auditorium to be hallowed space and he has defiled it."
I've always thought of the New School more as hollow space, so James and I are only a typo away from total agreement. And once more that dead-hand-of-genius stylin': The audience filed out of the defiled lecture hall.
The Gay City News--gay, lesbian and trans-gendered New York's weekly reminder that the esthetic impulse is stillborn in many gay, lesbian and trans-gendered people, too.
Before we put another arcade slug into the peep show mind of our new favorite Corner loiterer, Mr. Tim Graham, we should give Tim his drag name. Again, I've fallen far behind on this project, and it hardly seems fair to give Tim his name when so many others at the Corner have been so patient, so long. Tim has proven himself a prodigy though, so he jumps to the head of the conga line. It doesn't hurt that he's so easy to re-christen.
Honey Graham, the limelight is all yours.
Honey's got a very sticky moral sense. It seems especially stuck on Howard Stern. Excerpts from two recent posts:
But "who cares about sex?" (I'd start with "God.") That's a complete cultural surrender of a sentence. In reference to other posts today (as in: Jonah's on Sullivan), objections to Clinton were not based on "sex panic," but on the notion that Clinton always treated public office like a Howard Stern would: as a goldmine of sexual opportunity more than a public trust.
You can’t prefer rogues to straw-man “saints” and then expect “honesty” as a strong point, unless of course, you expect to elect a Howard Stern-type character, who’s honestly horny and adulterous and doesn’t care who knows.
There are many things interesting about these two quotes, and the mind that produced them, but I'll point to only a few. The first quote is a full bore libel, the second, by itself, is probably just borderline libelous (it's that Howard Stern-type character escape hatch that saves Honey Graham's cracker ass somewhat). Though the second quote added to the first would make any case against Graham much stronger. I'm no great fan of libel suits, so I don't think Stern would be wise to peruse Graham with one (Stern's fame is a great obstacle to success here in any case), but its amazing to me that such an open and carefree libel causes no stir among the punctilious culture cons gathered together where the walls meet.
Graham is typical of culture cons is banishing complexity from the sexual moral universe. Stern's sexual life, which is probably more of an open book than that of any other living public figure, can be charted pretty easily:
Very horny, very occasionally laid teenager.
Meets his wife-to-be at the age of 20, monogamously coupled with her for the next 25 years
Separated and divorced after 23 years of faithful marriage. Three children.
A second bachelorhood of a couple years duration. Sex with the celebrated and the unknown.
Currently in a 3 year monogamous (though unmarried) relationship.
What this chart leaves out, and what apparently gets all of Tim Graham's attention, is that Stern has been a scabrous public performer specializing in sex jokes all his adult life. So while adultery is nowhere in evidence, all sorts of other sexual shenanigans are abundant and on the public record (in books, tapes, a movie, radio, TV). Naked women, from midgets to amazons, were certainly more a part of Stern's workaday world then they would be over at the National Review (I'm guessing. Hoping. Praying.) But he would go home to his wife, as he now goes home to his girlfriend, when the show was over.
One of keys to the appeal of Stern's persona has always been the contrast between the public provocateur and private square. I don't blame Graham for not understanding this if he really hasn't been paying attention, but people who don't pay attention are well advised not to make libelous statements springing from their confident inattentiveness.
Conservatives have a painful time fitting the reality of Stern's kind of public raillery and private devotion (and it's hardly rare) into their skulls. So painful a time they mostly fail at it. It's what makes them such suckers for the appearance of propriety. If your public life follows form in all the major ways (and any major dude will tell you what they are), you are presumed with conviction to carry that into your private life. Likewise, the publicly unconventional must certainly be even more perverse in their private lives. It's this failure in imagination that so predictably leads to laughs aplenty for the rest of us down the line. Part of me never wants the conservatives to change, part of me is afraid that if they didn't have this failure of imagination they wouldn't have any imagination at all.
But I also hate to see my fellow human beings suffer, and suffer they do-- in a classic way. In order to forestall the small but lingering discomfort of cognitive dissonance arising from discordant public/private behaviors, the conservatives set themselves up perfectly for the more excruciating pain of catastrophic revelation. So I'll clue them into something. The apparently conventional lead private lives ranging from the most square to the most polyhedral, and the publicly unconventional lead private lives ranging from the most avant garde to the most derriere.
And so we return to Mr. Graham. In the same 48 hours or so that he was serially libeling Stern, we also find this post:
FEELS GOOD TRASHING RUSH? [Tim Graham]
Brent Baker reports Katie Couric joked about the National Enquirer allegations of a Rush Limbaugh drug habit on Leno's show Monday night. The co-host of NBC's Today offered this spiel:
When I do the Today show out here I get up at 2am because out here you have to be up and ready to go at 4 because it's 7 in the east. So I was getting a little tired, but I feel actually good because I flew out here and Rush Limbaugh sat next to me on the plane. He gave me some vitamins." She then spun her head to flip her hair as she smiled and yelped: "Whaa! It feels good!"
Gee, Tim, feels good trashing Howard? Couric's joke is as bad as you'd expect from her, but it's got your straight-faced libels beat from any ethical standpoint. Couric is at least extrapolating from allegations Limbaugh has not himself denied. It's more interesting to me that Limbaugh's free fall has generated so little public ridicule. People are, so far, being generous to Limbaugh in his private failure. While you blandly smear someone in his private fidelity.
But Limbaugh, the conservative spokesmodel, never looked or talked like a drug addict. While Stern, the libertarian monogamist, made a spectacle of comic depravity.
Don't you hate when that happens?
Doesn't it make your head positively want to pop off your neck?
My favorite kind of news story. A reporter is smart enough to dig one foot deeper below the headlines than the rest of his ground-cover foraging and surface-scratching tribe. One foot down, that's where the essential questions and concerns germinate.
Where was the pepper spray? What are the insurance implications? Why do the Canadians only get the birds, but the Niagarans and Chinese get the tigers, too? What's the real reason, Amazing Frewin?
But even a reporter with a sharper shovel than most is stopped by the bedrock. That's when we get out the yankee jackhammer and go Charles Ives one better, and two twistier:
The unraised question: What is the basic animal-training gay magician problem?
The unraised question answered: No sons to pass the act on to.
Perhaps this is the argument-clincher for gay marriage, adoption and parenthood by whatever means.
(*The Globe and Mails' epithet for the magical brotherhood reminds me of my favorite invocation of a professional community. An explosives expert was testifying at the Move Commission inquiry in Philadelphia as an independent board tried to discover exactly what chain of events led a metropolitan American police department to bomb a city neighborhood, burning it to the ground. The expert began one of his answers with a scene-setting status-establisher along these lines, "We in the bombing community...")
Virginia Postrel linked an informative Slate piece on ballot design--as it is and as it could be. The best bit is the brilliantly obvious point (i.e. so blindingly apparent you don't see it) that it is better to otherwise maintain alphabetical order when cycling through candidate name order from voting district to district (in order to limit the top of the ballot bonus vote effect), instead of the current practice of creating a new alphabetical order by lottery and then using that random alphabetical jumble as your starting point.
But then there's the paragraph that reminds you that sometimes it's a good thing bureaucracies are so rule bound and innovation averse. Slate presented the ballot design problem to a few freelance designers. Two of the three examples of the work Slate displays are indeed improvements over the one official Cali ballot that accompanies the article. Oh, but that third makeover:
Hugh Dubberly, an interaction designer in San Francisco, simplified the type treatments, arrows, and boxes in his proposed Ballot B and also moved the column in which voters mark their choice to the left side of the page next to the candidate names, arguing that their proximity would minimize voting errors. He also proposed a somewhat radical solution to the 133-name-crunch problem by only printing the names of the serious candidates—the ones who'd participated in the final debate.
Yes, that would be a somewhat radical solution. Throw 128 candidates off the ballot. Certainly solves the clutter problem, and Hugh's ballot is a hymn to soothing whitespace. Eliminate the messy (but essential) details and call it interaction design. Simplify the type treatments, and simplify the hell out of democracy while you're at it.
Speaking of simplified types, here's Hugh's: Technocratic soul wrapped in hipper than average clothes. Cool graphics on the walls, too.
I don't know when Northwest Airlines got the logo makeover and corporate botox injection, I only just noticed it in a commercial. Niggas With Attitude had a short ride and that ride ended over a decade ago, but the memory of it, and the further careers of the riders themselves still cast a pretty big pop culture shadow. So what exactly was Northwest Airlines thinking when it rebranded itself with an acronym that isn't properly the right one and that is already so widely associated with the original rap gangstas? Won't pretty much everyone under 30 assume it must be Dr. Dre's private 747 pulling up to the gate when they see the Northwest Airliner taxiing in with the giant NWA logo on the side?
Maybe it's a northwest coast thing.
Or maybe it's anti-terrorism disinformation. They're trying to make terrorist plotters believe that this is the flight crew they'll be dealing with.
Ice Cube is a great name for an air steward, afterall.
I declare my love, openly and without shame, for Antoine Yates, explorer and mapper of new realms of wonder. That ferocious roar you hear is the sound of onrushing imagination tearing a whole through the walls of popular reality.
A world of only Antoines might be unlivable. A world with no Antoines would most certainly be.
(Sure, you've already seen the headlines, but have you really read the story?)