Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Been There, Seen That

Okay, technically this was a New York Times story that might not have merited front page status. But it was a summer Saturday, and really, how many pieces can we read about that unending war, huh? Anyways, Women Have Seen It All on Subway, Unwillingly was right there below the fold, and the gist of the story was that virtually every woman in New York has gotten flashed in the subways at one point or another. And I, being part of that demographic* (*there is no need to make rude remarks about the size of my chest here, thank you), very much concur with the article's thesis.

Reader* (*Mom), this is my story:

Several years ago I worked on a sitcom that filmed at Kaufman-Astoria Studios in lovely downtown Astoria, Queens. Though many of you decry the crappy state of sitcoms, feeling that a computer could generate funnier lines of dialogue in binary code than most TV writers come up with, let me assure you that it's not for lack of hours spent trying. In fact, we'd often sit in the writers' room from 10 AM to 2 AM (five days in a row) in order to produce 22 minutes of television. So, okay, the point of this was that we were in the midst of one of those horrendously late night work weeks.

I think I'd been at the studio till 3:30 or 4:00 the previous night, and so we're told we don't have to come in till 11:00 the next morning. After a few hours of sleep, I hop on the G train around 10:00 AM the following day, well past the rush hour crowd (especially for those doing a reverse commute into Queens). But I'm so exhausted, I don't realize/don't care that I'm the only person on the train except for a homeless guy who's sleeping at the other end of the car.

I take out my New York Times (ironically enough) and start reading the Metro section--something properly lurid, if memory serves--and I just zone out my surroundings. Well, I start to zone back in when I feel the top of my paper start to rustle. Slowly I look to see what's causing this and sure enough, I'm now eyeball to eyeball with the homeless guy's gigantic member. He's placed it on the top of my newspaper as if he's offering it as a hand towel. What do I do? What do I do in the face of a potentially mental flasher?

I start to laugh. Something about the fact that this guy was presenting his penis to me swaddled in the New York Times just struck me as very funny. I mean the New York Post, sure. But the Times? Seemed a little fancy.

Well, apparently my girlish giggle elicited from the man the type of response he was trying to get from me. His eyes widened, his face turned red and he ran out of the subway car in shock as soon as the doors opened.

So though Saturday's NYT story seemed to suggest that subway flashing was just a fact of life here in Gotham, and really there was nothing to do about it, I'd like to offer my experience as a counterpoint. Ladies, since the subway system here is pretty much like theater in motion, I suggest next time you get flashed, you just sit back, giggle and enjoy the show!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Curly Is Here!

Granted, I’ve been feeling pretty peevish this week. For instance yesterday I gratuitously bashed Dan Rather like a Teletubby piñata at the Republican National Convention. (I apologize, Mr. Rather, I blame the humidity and the impossible search for fairly priced housing in Manhattan--more on that another day). But I’d be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity to call out this, the dumbest of stupid advertising campaigns in recent memory, after it popped up on my computer screen this afternoon (despite my pop up blocker. Damn you, Earthlink!)

CURLY IS HERE? This is supposed to entice us to buy an airline ticket? Curly? The poor man’s Carrot Top? Curly? The pasty-armed Hawaiian shirt-wearing hermaphrodite? Curly, the eyebrow-less wonder? Curly, the midget whose stunted lower body is almost entirely obscured by grass?

The fuck? If Curly is here, I want off the island!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A Rather Long Goodbye

Call me unsentimental, hard-nosed, head strong, a cool customer or a tough nut (my mother's fave term of endearment for me), but I think Dan Rather should be doing a dance of joy that he lasted 44 years at CBS instead of boo-hoo-hooing his way off the stage and into the crisply pixellated sunset of HDTV. In a story in today's New York Times , Rather sounds distinctly pissed at his former employers: "My departure before the term of my contract represents CBS's final acknowledgement... that they had not lived up to their obligation to allow me to do substantive work there." That's right, I have no doubt that the honcho's at CBS had the septuagenarian emptying trash pails, answering telephones and leading tours around the newsroom while fighting off the unwelcome handsy advances of senior newsmen.

Give me a break, Grandpa! You've had your job--a great job, an exciting job, an important job where someone did your make-up for you every single day(!)--for 44 years. Forty four years! That's two score and four for anyone who keeps score. How many of us folks in the media today think we'll be able to hold on to a job for that long? And if you do, A) I need your contact info and B) I need the number of your dealer.

Yeah, I suppose one could say, "But Robin, the man has faithfully served our nation for four decades, doesn't he at least deserve a dignified goodbye like that 4 hour "We Love You Katie" Today Show type thingy?" And before snickering at the state of hagiography we bestow upon our camera puppets, I might remind you to briefly pause to recall the whole "oops, turns out I made up evidence and reported it as fact," Bush skipping out of National Guard Duty business. See some felt that Rather really should have bowed out at that point. Me being one of the some. (Look, no secret Dubya weaseled his way out of service, but forging documents to prove the point is unseemly any way you slice it.) Let's say, though, that you didn't think the issue of journalistic integrity was terribly important. Say you thought to yourself, "Good Lord, this man has been on the front lines of more hurricanes, war zones and Puerto Rican Day Parades than anyone should ever have to endure. He should get a pass on fudging facts regarding the President considering the President fudges facts all the time--and the commandant's fact-fudging drags our country into a deadly protacted war with no exit strategy--let's just give Danny-boy a pass on this one." Sure, I'll give you that, especially since a multitude of other broadcasters have been given passes (Hello Rush, you illegal drug abuser! How's it hanging with you and the sexual harassment stuff, O'Reilley?)

Still, rather than bemoaning the fact that he's being sent to the glue factory, I think he should be thrilled it didn't happen a lot sooner. But ultimately I think I know why Mr. Rather seems so down... No one wrote him a torch song sign off to sing. Oh, Connie... Journalistic integrity, where hast thou gone?

...actually, Jay has some ideas on this subject today, too, so hop on over to the McSweeney's site to read what he has to say.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

In Praise of Hall

Big news today, people! Beeeeeg news. No, I’m not talking about the quickie Prez Bush gave the soon-to-be assassinated Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki in Baghdad yesterday, sneaking in and out of the country under cloak of darkness in a manner more befitting a discreet whore than the “leader” of the free world. I’m not referring to the fact that Rove wriggled out of yet another indictment, pinning all Plame on a Muppet named Scooter. (Seriously, how many souls can Rove have to sell to the devil? You gotta figure even Lucifer is getting suspicious of the dude at this point… unless, of course, he is Lucifer, which has always been the viewpoint of this editorial page.)

Nope, I’m talking something far more grandiose and important to the soul of our nation (assuming we still have one): the appointment of Donald Hall , the man at the right who looks suspiciously like the actor Rip Torn, to the position of.... wait for it… Poet Laureate! “Well wait a second,” you’re thinking to yourself. “First Scott McClellan, now this? What’s this shake up supposed to prove? Besides, I thought Maya Angelou was doing a fine job.” And I’ll be forced to remind you that no, Angelou was never actually the head cheese PL, she was just an honoree at Oprah’s Legends Ball, which, arguably was a lot better for sales.

But let’s for a moment forget that you have no idea who Hall will be replacing. (Hint: it’s not Jewel, even if she has outsold Walt Whitman.) And let’s put aside the fact that the only poem you can remember start to finish deals with the Mudville Nine. What’s newsy about this particular appointment is that Donald Hall is a poet and a hater!

Just like Renée, he’s on record as being critical of the Religious Right’s influence on the government (so apparently he doesn’t get out much, either.) He’s called out members of Bush I’s administration for being art-bashing bullies. Hall recently said that if he sees a violation of the First Amendment, he’ll speak up about it – that’s right, he’ll probably dash off an angry sonnet or add a spiteful extra syllable to a haiku. Regarding the rest of the new job, he’s also quoted as saying, “I have a terrible miscellany of thoughts.” And, since as with most utterances of poets I have no idea what that means, I’ll just let those words speak for themselves.

Still, Mr. Hall looks to set an important agenda for himself: “I’d like to encourage NPR to pay more attention to poetry.” A noble goal indeed, and I wish him well on that! Now if he can first get Americans to pay more attention to NPR than say, Nascar, he’ll be off to the races.

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