Thursday, June 30, 2005

Same Old Jersey

I've recently accepted a reporting job at The Home News Tribune in lovely East Brunswick, N.J.

I know, I know. You can sense my excitement. This is the last place on Earth I wanted to live. But a bird in the hand is better than taking two for a tango or some such thing. So as my days as a New Yorker are numbered, I figured I'd offer this brief little snippet from a much longer snip, extolling the proud New Jerseyite lineage.

Yes. I am attempting a self-fulfilling prophecy through positive thinking. Does this ever work?

As Jed twisted his Explorer along the winding of the Delaware Water Gap--Port Authority of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, adopt-a-highway stretches sponsored by New Jersey Kiwanis, The Greek Revival and General Ironics, Inc.--he emerges through the tollbooth with his customary middle fingered salute to the sign that greets all those who enter Pennsylvania from points east. In stately font and grandiose manner, tagged with the current governor's signature, is the greeting: "Welcome to Pennsylvania; America Starts Here."

Jed has long since abandoned attempts to explain this colossal display of sheer stupidity. It can't even be called hubris, really. What? Pennsylvania: Home of the Amish, the Quakers, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the non-New Yorkers? What possible reason could they exclude the eastern seaboard when describing this country? God bless America from sea to shining...Pennsylvania?

He can recall an argument with Graham over the ramifications of this sign--a challenge really, to name one noteworthy American who proudly advertises Pennsylvania as his home state. Rocky Balboa doesn't count, he told his portly, ill-kempt Pennsylvanian amigo. Non-fictional characters only, please. The stumpy kid stumped, Jed first mentioned the sad fact that the imbecile comic Bob Sagat hails from Graham's hometown of Abbington, and this effectively ended Pennsylvania's offensive.

The Jersey list, of course, is anchored by the almighty Bruce Springsteen--Messiah of Rock And Roll, without whom The Bee-Gees might have taken over the world with a legion of trendy-dressing goons armed with hypnotic strobe lights and feathered hair. He alone, argued Jed, would make his case.

But wait, there's more and this group included Jack Nicholson, Frank Sinatra, Danny DeVito, Grover Cleveland, Allen Ginsberg, Lauryn Hill, Thomas Edison, Bon Jovi (O.K. One point for the bad guys), Whitney Houston, Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, James Cagney, Norman Mailer, Walt Whitman, Jerry Lewis (That's two against), Joe Pesci, Meryl Streep, Admiral William "Bull" Halsey, Jr., Bruce Willis, Eddie Murphy, Patti Smith, and every player on the 1995, 2000 and 2003 Stanley Cup Champion New Jersey Devils (those who haven't moved, retired, or been traded).

Then there is Lucky Lindy, of whom Jersey was proud enough to execute an innocent man for his benefit. How many states are that committed? The list is long and distinguished. Jed was forced to stop when Graham stumbled away in search of more beer.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Burning Up For Your Love

John Scalzi knows something about freedom and flags that our divisive, opportunistic and illogical Congress can't seem to fathom. You know what? I'd actually support a flag-burning amendment to the Constitution if there were a corollary allowing you to burn one when and only if a member of Congress wraps himself in the thing. Morons.

Love the principle, not the artifact. Money quote: "Real Americans don't take away the freedoms of other Americans. "

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Designer Intelligence

An open letter to the Kansas School Board.

Best Movies By State

Blogger Steve Silver lists the best movies set in each of the 50 states. Lots of room for argument here. Which is the point of lists.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Holy Great Movie, Batman!

Finally, a real Batman movie.

Oh, I loved Adam West in the 60's movie and TV show. Especially Cesar Romero as The Joker, cackling like Michael Jackson at Chuck E. Cheese's and sporting a mustache under his clown makeup.

And Tim Burton got a few things absolutely right in his original Batman from 1989: The dark, dirty, surreal Gotham; the bat suit; the batmobile; Alfred. But the tone was over-the-top, a comic-y take on a superhero without the emotional weight or even a real plot. Nicholson shamelessly mugged and stole the movie from the ill-cast Michael Keaton -- an even bigger crime than his character's attempt to poison the entire city. The name of the film was Batman, after all.

I will not speak of Joel "Bat Nipples" Schumacher.

So here comes Christopher Nolan, getting every last detail almost perfect. By focusing on Bruce Wayne's emotional trauma, crippling fears, obsession with revenge and his sense of justice, we finally get a fully fleshed character behind the cowl. Some might argue that the film wastes too much time with Bruce's Far East exploration of the criminal mind and his training at the hands of The League of Shadows. But this is time well spent in a movie that promises with its title to reveal how Batman Begins.

It was always a running joke among nerds like me, trying to figure out what happened to the contractors who designed the bat cave or the technicians responsible for all his cool equipment. And finally, we have a movie that goes a long way to reveal all of this in believable detail, introducing a new character and enlisting Alfred as a more hands-on partner. If it wouldn't have stretched an already long movie out to unprofitable lengths, I could have watched even more of the evolution of this kind of stuff and Batman's crime-fighting learning curve.

As it is, though, this movie finally shows a Batman as Batman should be: a figure striking fear into scumbags, who works from the shadows and chills criminals to their bones with a ferocious appearance and all-business growl of a voice. And finally, a Batman who originated in DC's Detective Comics actually behaving like a detective. His relationship with a young (and eventually police commissioner) Jim Gordon is the stuff of giddy dreams. None of this story had ever been satisfactorily told before, and unlike Lucas's childish, sappy and illogical prequels, this Batman origin fulfills the promise of an aging geek's imagination.

Perhaps my biggest gripe (and you know there had to be one) is the fight choreography. Everything is shot up close and with quick cuts, likely because the bat suit just doesn't allow for a lot of agility or acrobatics. And maybe you can buy the excuse that the style of fighting Batman employs is the up-close-and-dirty kind. Certainly, these scenes are preferable to a CG-rendered Batman as in the Spider-Man movies. But while the wire work and fight choreography of Hong Kong Kung Fu pictures and the balletic brawls of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Kill Bill and The House of Flying Daggers have raised the bar of what constitutes an artistic achievement in fighting, Batman goes for a lot of muddled flying fists, kicks and blocks.

Oh, well. All still amazingly satisfying, though perhaps Batman Begins appeals most to the hard-core geek audience. Like me. With any luck, this will almost erase the memory of Schumacher's neon Gotham and (shudder) Alicia Silverstone squeezed into tights.

Top 10 Comic Book Films

  1. Superman
  2. Spider-Man 2
  3. Spider-Man
  4. Batman Begins
  5. Superman 2
  6. Sin City
  7. X-Men 2: X-Men United
  8. X-Men
  9. Batman
  10. American Splendor

Honorable Mention: Flash Gordon, Hellboy, Men in Black, Ghost World

Edited 6/23, 4:35 PM because I'm an idiot.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Schoolgirl, Really Ugly, Embarrassed by Post

Slow News Day: The Post decides to humiliate an 11-year-old girl to sell papers

Anyone catch this story from Friday's Post? Apparently, this girl's parents want their kid's school to recall all 200 yearbooks because they printed the wrong picture. Her mother said, "For the rest of her life, she's going to have to be ashamed of that horrible picture."

Um. Michelle Maihepat of South Ozone Park? You think maybe printing it on the front page of oh, maybe 480,000 papers might be a little more embarrassing for your little girl?

Listen, I'm not a partisan in the New York tabloid wars. Not really. I read The Post for their addictive, Chicken Little sports coverage. And it's silly fun how their news coverage serves as Rupert Murdoch's conservative pulpit in America. But this has to be the dumbest, most exploitive piece of barbed fluff I've ever read.

Which wasn't alleviated by the makeover they paid for and printed in today's paper. The poor little girl still looks about as attractive as Herve Vellaichaize after a few too many mojitos.

Hey, now. I can write that because my 14 stoned daily readers don't really compare to the circulation of the New York Post. Not yet, anyway. And we here at Rolling Bones know, if anything, there's nothing funnier than Herve Vellaichaize in a prom dress.

Zee Post! Zee Post!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Special Delivery

Today's front page story of the D. News reported by D. Bones

How do you get a humble, media shy hero to cooperate with your paper? Bribe him with $1,000 and Yankees tickets. A good man, and a good story.

Friday, June 17, 2005

The Danger of Interviewing While Black

Law-abiding black men fare no better than white ex-cons when it comes to interviewing for jobs in the city, according to a study released yesterday. So before you go on that next interview, make sure that you've got a freshly pressed suit, extra copies of your resume, brightly shined shoes and white skin.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

WTC Pensions

Using 10 ceremonial pens, Gov. Pataki signed a bill making it easier for workers at Ground Zero to apply for disability pensions. This intrepid reporter was on the scene with his own pen and a tape recorder.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Boob Tube

When people get together and talk about the latest happenings on "The O.C." or "Two and a Half Men" (although, I imagine, not getting together with the expressed purpose of discussing these shows), I remain quiet. When asked, I tell people truthfully that I don't watch sitcoms and can hardly stand the latest trend in nighttime soaps.

But I'm not one of those television doomsayers who decry the vast wasteland of programming and pine for the days of "The Twighlight Zone," "Hill Street Blues" or whatever. Which isn't to say that it isn't a vast wasteland.

My cable package features some 500 channels of varying pay levels--many of which offer 24-hour programming. If 90 percent of this programming resembles hairy clumps of elephant crap, well, that leaves a lot of good stuff out there if you know where to look.

My DVR might be a good place to start:

"Penn & Teller Bullshit!" on Showtime -- Watch Penn and Teller debunk the war on drugs, second hand smoke, recycling, PETA, college, circumcision, bottled water, hypnosis and family values. Almost foolproof arguments delivered with biting wit and scathing contempt for self-proclaimed "experts" who are often emasculated on camera. If you can't stand John Stossel's smarmy manipulation of the facts or ever wanted someone to vanquish any guilt over your failure to embrace recycling, this is the show for you.

"Charlie Rose" on PBS -- Yeah, he can be as sycophantic as Larry King when talking to actors or Nobel Prize winners. Yeah, he can expound forever about the craft of acting like James Lipton. Yeah, he can't even crack a simple joke without clubbing it to death first. But there is no other destination on TV for an hour-long conversation of substance with people worthy of that attention. It was on Charlie Rose I first saw an actual interview with screenwriter Charlie Kaufman. It was Charlie Rose who helped confirm that an hour spent with Carson Daly is an hour of your life, lost and erased-- never to return again. It's on Charlie Rose where you can see Sean Penn reminisce about Marlon Brando, obscured in cigarette smoke like he's on "The Joe Franklin Show" in 1956. Or where I learned how sublty seductive that communist dirtbag Noam Chomsky can be. Indispensable television.

"Dinner for Five" on IFC -- Simple concept. Like "Politically Incorrect" with food and without the politics. Watch Burt Reynolds tell stories punctuated by Richard Lewis's cracks. See Carrie Fisher tell a story about tripping on acid in 1978 with John Belushi at Disneyland. Watch Kevin Smith bullshit with George Carlin. It's hit or miss, depending on the guests. Just like any dinner party.

"Ebert & Roeper" on ABC -- Agree or not with their opinions, but this is still the best written and delivered film review show of all time. Smart, witty and often humble. And they don't always stick to the big releases, providing lots of good ideas for DVD purchases and rentals.

"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" on Comedy Central -- Nothing I can say about this show that hasn't been beaten to death by the mainstream media's uniform praise. Simply could not have survived the election without this one.

"Family Guy" on Fox -- It's back and maybe not as great as ever. But you must show some respect for the show that left "The Simpsons" in the dust long ago and last week aired a show in which baby Stewie hung from Annika Sorenstam's scrotum sack. No, seriously.

"Pardon the Interruption" on ESPN -- The quickest, most easy-going, wittiest and enjoyable sports discussion show on TV or radio. PTI's Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon make "Mike and the Mad Dog" look even more like "Blow Hard and the Retard." I never understood sports talk radio and shows about know-it-all hosts shouting down and hanging up on call-in losers griping about home team coaching decisions. Kornheiser and Wilbon keep things fast and light, kibbutzing back and forth like an old married couple or a Borscht Belt comedy team. It doesn't even matter that neither of them knows the first thing about hockey. Unlike Mike Francessa and Chris Russo, they don't pretend anything.

IFC, Sundance, Trio, Turner Classic Movies, HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, Starz and Fox Movie Channel -- Even overlooking the expensive pay channels that come with five sub-channels each in a package along with my internet connection, these other channels kick ass. This year alone, I've been able to see dozens of classic movies I hadn't gotten around to seeing: The Big Sleep, Double Indemnity, Ben Hur, The Evil Dead, Seven Samurai, Boxcar Bertha, Being There, Bridge Over the River Kwai, Das Boot, Do the Right Thing, Raising Victor Vargas, Some Like it Hot and The Station Agent. And more where that came from, all unedited and constantly replenished. Peruse these channels with your DVR guide, cross-reference with my film list and enjoy.

Let us not neglect "South Park," which is still razor sharp, timely and consistently outrageous. Evidence: In an episode from this season, Mr. Garrison's boy-toy Mr. Slave takes Paris Hilton and deposits her in his ass to prove a point. Need you ask what this point might be?

I'm also a big fan of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim show "Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law," a surreal courtroom drama populated by Hanna Barbara characters. A dead-before-its-time Adult Swim show is "Home Movies", the squiggle-vision misadventures of a trio of prepubescent filmmakers, which you can catch on DVD.

If it ever reappears, "Cheap Seats" on ESPN features twin wry comedians Randy and Jason Sklar cracking wise a la "Mystery Science Theater 3000" at ABC/Disney's b-roll properties like 1970s "Wide World of Sports" shows about board breaking and cheerleading competitions. Hilarious.

"30 Days" on FX looks promissing, with Super Size Me director Morgan Spurlock indulging in different social science experiments like trying to live for a month on minimum wage and having a Christian move in with Muslims. Good times socially conscious fun.

I'll also be happily watching "Six Feet Under" kill itself off after five seasons. A great, daring, uneven show. May it die as it lived.

And if you missed the E! News Michael Jackson trial reenactments, man, I just feel sorry for you. Too much fun. Forget the Jay Leno and Chris Tucker impersonators and the Michael vanilla pudding-face stand-in. The real show came during commentary segments with Jackson shills (rightfully) lambasting the prosecution. Phil Spector can hardly hope to be this entertaining.

Then there are those shows that won't be back for a bit, but can mostly be caught On Demand in the meantime: "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Chappelle's Show," "Inside the NFL," "The Sopranos," "Deadwood," "Real Time with Bill Maher," and "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel."

Summer is a good time to catch up on stuff in repeats you might have missed. I'm picking up "House" on Fox, which stars a lovable bastard doctor solving medical mysteries and isn't even as cheesy as that sounds. Solid writing of a complex, entertaining character in medical stories that don't get bogged down in the soapy drama that has destroyed "ER" since the 4th season.

But I must warn anyone who who might be tempted to spend 20-something wasted hours with ABC's "Lost." I knew exactly what I was getting into this fall, but stuck it out as an exercise in self-abuse. "Lost" is "Land of the Lost" meets "Giligan's Island" meets "Survivor" meets "24" meets "The X-Files." And like "The X-Files," "Lost" thrives on the tension created by seemingly intricate plot secrets that CAN'T EVER BE REVEALED OR THE SHOW IS OVER. So you get a season of writer's writing themselves into corners and then moving on to write themselves into another corner. Why, oh, why can't networks agree that a great premise, like the survivors of a plane crash on a creepy island told more-or-less in a compressed time-frame, should only exist for a season or two? Like "24" or that girl you know from high school, shows like this can only tease and never pay off.

Let her play with herself, I say. There is too much good on TV to bother.

Puerto Rican Day Pounding

From today's Daily News (in the Brooklyn section you don't get in Manhattan), a story about la policia beating down Puerto Ricans after the parade. No, they are not pinatas. And that's a Mexican thing, you bigots.

Monday, June 13, 2005

He Beat It!

Well, I can't say I'm surprised. After watching the very entertaining E! reenactments of the Michael Jackson molestation trial over the last few months, it was clear that no jury would convict him based on accusations from a family of loony grifters.

This family was helmed by an insane mother and a jerkoff father who, like so many parents, sold their children to Michael Jackson for baubles and vacations. They simply weren't believable. The mother had a history of perjury and false claims. They had a track record of targeting celebrities for money and favors. She used her child's cancer as a cash calf. Her testimony in this trial was fantasy embellished by fairy tales.

Which isn't to say that Michael Jackson is not a child molestor. Based on the substantial, verified evidence supplied by numerous believable individuals, he is almost certainly a pedophile. If not in action, than inclination. But the prosecution placed too much faith in this family and their certifiable mom, overreaching with a charge of false imprisonment and flubbing the trial in countless ways (trust me, I watched a lot of the E! coverage).

So this is a great day for Michael Jackson, perhaps justice for a scumbag family (punishing the boy for the sins of the mother who cried wolf even if the boy was molested), and a warning to prospective parents in California: Michael Jackson is like a freaky, fragile, flaking sculpture without a nose; you can look, but don't touch.

I Want You Back: When Michael Jackson would find himself attractive...

Bad Poetry

Written in 1993 in a depressed state somewhere between half-altertness and dream. New York, I think.


A hovering incompetence.
Drivel to the sap of
Warn witness.
Feed the urge to purge
The gray-green drones
Of yesterday’s sick head.
A tender spasm leaves
Personal stains—
And reminds the gorgeous
That despite the love,
There live the pains.

Weak knowledge belies
The quiver that frets and
Under no mask can he utter
The sound of degenerate
Goofiness that flutters
And dies…
An immediate connection trolls
The stream of
Thoughts that rip and double-team
Down the pit of fallen hopes that
grip the rope that
ties the dream.

Enter the crude:
A sloshing glunk-glunking.
Drain the tube to lube the
Prickly friction
Of grinding years.
A sweating heart seeks a harmless tool,
And without a care (’cause
Fair is fair)
Knows that an empty beat
Knocks out a fool.

Sweet, simple sustain
Lulls and drifts—
Unfallen rain.
With the swollen clouds of
Unvanquished verve
He seeks a nerve for thoughts
To drain
Away from grief and self-contemptuous
Like melting a leaf to
Drown the thief
In a pool of fire.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Screw the story about his grades--just look at this picture; any wonder the dude lost?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Please, No Moe

Must...make...more money with an inferior product...

Apparently, the long-discussed "Simpson's" movie is in pre-production. Can't you good people just let this family die with dignity? I want to keep my fond memories of the first 9 seasons. Have you no shame?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Errol & Inka

A brief excerpt from an unfinished (and unfinishable) novel that obliquely addresses my feelings on the recent Supreme Court Medical Marijuana decision. Errol Jordan, a 7-year-old aspiring labor lawyer, has a run-in with drug-using friends of Inka Popinski, a buxom ex-gymnast and comparative literature major at Cornell University.

Left alone with the dry-eyed, but less-than-cheerful child genius of the moment, Inka helped him pull off his tie and waited for him to say something.

"Those guys use drugs," Errol said. "And you're friends with them? Do you use drugs?" That wasn't the question she wanted to hear.

"Listen, why don't you talk to your parents about this. I'm really not the right person to ask."

"I'm not asking them. I'm asking you."

"It's's just that you're really too young for me to answer you honestly. You know, I didn't know drugs from Oscar the Grouch when I was your age, and I was more than happy being young and ignorant. That's the beauty of childhood."

"But I bet you didn't have a functioning knowledge of quantum mechanics and cosmological physics when you were my age, either. And I don't know any Oscar Groucho Marx or anyone. That's a cop-out."

"No, but—"

"But nothing. I'm asking you to look past my age, and just talk to me like another person. Is that so much to ask? Why won't anyone talk to me about the important stuff?"

The image of young Mozart in a sex-Ed class shot into her head with the sudden juxtaposition of an MTV edit.

"O.K. Fine. What do you want to know?"

"Do you take drugs?"

"Listen. Drugs are just chemicals, right? Anything that effects your body chemistry can be considered a drug, right? Medicine is a drug. Certain foods are a drug. Do you agree?"

"Sure. But medicine and food aren't illegal and don't generally kill people."

"Hold on a second. Do you want to talk about politics or realities? Drugs weren't always illegal. Most were here long before there were any laws or anything that might be called civilization. Just because something is illegal doesn't make it evil. Recently, alcohol was illegal for awhile, and that was declared by an amendment to the Constitution. While Congress was waiting to ratify the retraction of that amendment, did alcohol suddenly become less evil? Laws are laws, and some are good and some suck, all are enacted by the most deceitful people on earth, and I'm not really interested in having a political discussion. I'm decidedly apolitical by nature."

"But if you break the law—"

"If you break laws that don't hurt anyone but yourself, are you a criminal Technically anyone who has homosexual sex in some states is committing a crime, but is it a crime against humanity? No. The crime against humanity is the law enacted by the state barring these types of activities that have no victims. But I don't want to talk about politics. Do you know what marijuana is?"

"It is one of several products of the cannabis sativa plant, a narcotic whose active ingredient tetrahydorcannabinol has—"

"Hold on. You said it's a plant, right?"


"So if it grows on the planet, if it is in fact a weed that would grow wildly if man and his laws didn't intervene, whose to stop me or anyone from drying it and lighting it on fire. If you were to light that clump of grass you're holding, and breathe in the smoke, should I stop you?"

"It might make me sick."

"Ah, but if you smoke some other plant, and it makes you feel pretty damn good, what is the difference. Your happiness?"

"Well, what does it feel like?"

Inka could see herself answering this question for the benefit of the court reporter some day, while the judge cuts her off and lambastes her with a gavel's tone of voice, "You told him WHAT?"

"Now, this is tricky for me to describe because I believe that it is impossible to speak as an authority on any topic without direct personal experience with what you're talking about. Who is the Pope to be talking about sex? And that's particularly true when you talk about physical states and emotions. And I would not recommend you trying anything, because like we've already established, you're too young, and certain people aren't ready for certain experiences. My mother is fifty-two years-old and if she got high, I suppose she'd flip out a little. Not because of the weed, mind you, but because of her personal reaction to it. No substance is truly evil. It's just some stuff on this planet. Some stuff can kill you, some can make you sick, some can make you feel O.K., and some great. I wouldn't eat a spare tire or smoke tuna fish, but if I did, I could only blame myself and not the tire. O.K.?"

"But what does it feel like?"

Persistent little bugger, she thought.

"O.K. Did you ever spin around in circles in a big open space like your backyard and stare at the sky and then stop suddenly and feel all dizzy and giddy and maybe a little sick?"

"I can't tell you if I've participated in this specific activity, but the sensation seems familiar. Perhaps I have."

"Well, it's kinda like that although different. You know, there just might be a natural human tendency to experience different states of mind. I can remember spinning all over the place when I was a little girl, and I never equated it with being high. Go figure."

"Do you get high often?"

The kid, obviously, was not programmed to ever give in.

"In college, we have the luxury of time to both accomplish, explore, and languish in states of altered consciousness. You know, I'd like to continue this conversation, but I'm late for a class. If you got some time, you can come along and sit in. I think you'll find the lecture strangely appropriate, and certainly eye-opening. What do you say?"

An extended hand was all the leverage Errol needed, and he removed a clump of hair that was sticking to his forehead with a concentrated upward blow.

Ding Dong, The Stadium's Dead

With any luck State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's no-vote on state financing of the Jets West Side stadium should sink the project faster than Chad Pennington's gimpy arm will sink the Jets' playoff chances this year.

About friggin' time.

My father has owned Jets season tickets since 1966 when they were the New York Titans. He watched nascent murderer O.J. Simpson rush for 2,000 yards against them in the snow of Shea Stadium in 1973. He'd grease the ticket-takers $5 so I could sit on his lap at games there when I was 4 years old. We were at the last game in that stadium (a loss) when fans almost tore it apart. We followed them to Giants Stadium in 1983 for that first game (a loss) and I've probably seen upwards of 120 games there since.

Any Jet fan will tell you how demoralizing it is to be tenants in a building with the name of another, usually better local team glowing in red and blue. It's one of those sports absurdities that can hardly be stomached, no matter how much green and white bunting they drape the place with for Jets home games.

In a perfect world, the Jets would have their own stadium. In no world is a stadium in Manhattan perfect.

Setting aside for a moment the impropriety of New Yorkers partially funding a stadium for a billionaire and his sports team when almost every other aspect of city finances cries out for this money, the proposed (hopefully dead) stadium screws the fans.

Football fans tailgate. Grilling, drinking, tossing footballs, blasting music, soaking up the sun, huddling around fires. Tailgating is one of those things that makes football different from most other sports. Sunday is the day for truly devout families to shun church and dedicate their time and effort to make a full day of NFL worship. The party atmosphere will vanish if the stadium sits in midtown Manhattan. Jet owner Woody Johnson envisions cars parked in New Jersey to tailgate with ferry service taking them to the stadium. As though all Jets fans come from New Jersey.

And can anyone imagine what traffic will be like when fans flood out at 4 or 8 PM after another agonizing Jets loss? Even if 75 percent of those attending took some form of public transportation (not likely, considering how far folks will need to travel from Jersey, Queens, Westchester and Long Island), the glut of pedestrians, cars and buses would turn the West Side Highway, 10th, 9th and likely 8th Avenues into parking lots. Returning to the city from Jets games on game days from six miles away in New Jersey often presents a traffic nightmare. And if everyone were already in New York fighting to get out for a good night's sleep before returning to work on Monday? Show me a civil engineer who thinks this is a good idea and I'll show you a dude with Mike Bloomberg's ass hairs caught in his teeth.

And who will these Jets fans be? Not the same blue-collar, bitter, violent, lovable drunks that currently bat around inflatable sex dolls and burn giveaway hats at Jets games. Woody Johnson, who is still in debt after purchasing the team for $635 million in 2000, faces a growing price tag on his dead dream stadium, balooning beyond $2 billion. And although Jets president Jay Cross continues to huck and jive, the team will certainly need to charge season ticket holders thousands of dollars in personal seat licenses for the "right" to fork over more thousands on ticket prices they will certainly raise to the retractable roof.

Add to this financial hurdle the fact that the new stadium would feature 14,000 fewer seats than Giants Stadium, and it's clear that this eyesore on the Hudson will price out the average fan and host a crowd of corporate cronies and button-down jerks like those who can still endure Knicks games.

But Silver hit on the biggest travesty of this boondoggle. Why should the city and state of New York pay $300 million each to finance a private stadium when city teachers have worked for two years and city cops have worked six years without a contract. The NYPD is the most highly trained and worst paid major city police force in the country. They actually have to pay for their uniforms. Cops in Westchester and Long Island get almost double the pay for a fraction of the work and risk. The city transit agency projects deficits that could rise to $1 billion in a few years, while the 100-year-old subway system rots and much-needed projects (like the pipe dream 2nd Avenue subway) languish without funding. But Woody Johnson needs a new stadium?

And Silver's constituency in Lower Manhattan clearly sees the city's biggest hole, literally, in the dormant World Trade Center site. And the Olympics that New York will never get and no New Yorker I've ever spoken to actually wants? How about first healing the biggest, still raw wound the city and the country has ever suffered.

If every local team itching for a new home had its way, the year 2010 would see the Jets playing on the West Side Rail Yards, the Giants in a new stadium in the Meadowlands, the Nets in a new arena in Brooklyn, the Devils in a new arena in Newark, the Yankees in a new stadium in The Bronx and the Mets in a new stadium in Queens. That's six new buildings in five years. Right now, it looks like the Devils (remember hockey?) and the Nets have the best shot.

Wouldn't it make sense for the Jets and Giants to share a stadium in New Jersey? As a Jet fan, I wouldn't care, as long as it isn't New Giants Stadium or some such travesty, and they sell the naming rights to some egotistical corporation. Call it Preparation-H Stadium for all I care.

In fact, that would be my first preference. This whole process has been a real pain in the ass.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Hey, Jew

Take a sad song, make it better and join the folks over at, started by Jeffrey Goldberg and David Segal. Lots of curiosities, although I'm not convinced, as they claim, that Pink is Jewish. That party she wanted to get started never struck me as a bat mitzvah.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

The Dorks of Losertown

I think it was Janeane Garofolo who once asked the immortal question: Has any skateboarder, anywhere, since the beginning of time ever landed a trick?

I ponder this mystery in anticipation of the latest incarnation of the self-important mythologizing of schoolyard bozos on wheels, the Stacy Peralta-penned flick Lords of Dogtown, a film I will not actively see.

"Actively" implies that when it makes its cable rounds -- as with Peralta's watchable self-important mythologizing of schoolyard bozos on wheels, the documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys -- there's almost nothing I won't watch as opposed to actually doing something productive.

Only in Hollywood would the thirst for dollars among wayward youth necessitate a fictionalizing of a perfectly serviceable documentary just so Heath Ledger can intone a California stoner drawl.

Personally, I don't get it. The whole skateboarding thing, I mean. Other than kids who skin their knees and fall on their heads skating down cement stairways during their own uneventful after-school hours -- when not huffing gas, snorting glue and listening to Good Charlotte on their iPods, I imagine -- who else cares about this crap? Of course there are those same kids who never actually grew up, like the excreable Bam Margera, who pretends to torment his family for the pleasure of emotionally retarded MTV viewers on "Viva La Bam" and who apparently banged Jessica Simpson.

But even if these little sk8tr boyz were lovable pillars of virtue, I couldn't help but be underwhelmed by their supposed skills. Both Peralta films immortalize the moment when skateboarding "legends" descended into empty swimming pools and -- inspired by the fabulous gods of eh -- ramped up the edges and (whoa, dude!) broke the bounds of earth for approximately .2345 seconds of flight. The witnesses to this seminal moment in their sport strike a tone of holy moley reverence, as though discussing Neil Armstrong, Lance Armstrong, Louis Armstrong or the guy who invented Arm & Hammer baking soda.

It's because of people like this that they continue to make Vans sneakers and Fred Durst owns a fleet of cars.

Seriously, people. Is there anything less exciting than the tricks performed by skateboarders? It's as though you're watching a documentary about a revolutionary new spelunking technique or the moment that changed needlepoint forever.

Real stoners were too lazy to skateboard anyway.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Oddness of Everything

It's rare that I agree with anything I've read by George Will, but his recent piece in Newsweek, "The Oddness of Everything" hits the nail on the head: what's killing political and social discourse in this country and the world is a blind "excess of certitude." Simply, religious zealots and ideologues are so sure of themselves, there is no place for the wonder of just how little we do know. And when you look at the very big and the very small, as Will does in this excellent little column, it's hard to be sure of anything other than the stupidity of people so comfortable in their knowledge.

Big Time News from Louisiana

Here's a story that ran in last week's Courier in Houma, La., as part of my interview process. Bigger than Deep Throat, more powerful than a tall building full of Lewinskys.

Sign on with the screename: and password: junky.

Deep Throat Uncovered: But why wait so long after Linda Lovelace's death?