Friday, October 31, 2003 RECRIMINATIONS, ACCUSATIONS, AND RESIGNATIONS: After a week and a half of controversy, charges, and countercharges, the October 28, 2003, issue of The Justice finally came out today, October 31. Apropos that it would finally come out on Halloween, as it's been awhile since Brandeis has seen such horrors.
[Once again, if you don't care about any of this, click here to read about "Curb Your Enthusiasm," Halloween in Hoboken, and Manny Ramirez's contract, among other subjects.]
The issue, perhaps the most controversial in the paper's 54-year history, contains three news articles, two staff editorials, two resignation letters, and 23 letters to the editor- all in response to a single paragraph of a single column by a single writer. This week's issue will go down as the eternal chronicle of what may be the biggest on-campus brouhaha at Brandeis University since the end of the Vietnam War.
One by one, here are my takes on each news and opinion article; I'll blog about the letters sometime over the weekend:
-The front page features a nearly 3,500 word chronology of the events; the two authors (who are not members of the Editorial Board) almost certainly studied the New York Times' similar Jayson Blair mea culpa, and do an admirable job telling the story in a lively and evenhanded way.
Interestingly, the article refers to "a long history of racist comments in [Passner's] columns," specifically mentioning a column from September in which the writer used several Holocaust references in order to belittle baseball commissioner Bud Selig. The question must then be raised (again, a la Jayson Blair): why were all the warning signs ignored, and why was Passner allowed to continue writing for the Justice, much less hand in his columns minutes before the paper went to press?
-The front-page BBSO letter - subject of Monday night's dusk-to-dawn dispute- calls for "reconciliation," while also containing a threat to "turn this university upside down" if they don't get what they want. What does that mean? While every single Justice editorial unequivocally condemned the Passner comments, is the BBSO prepared to apologize for threats of physical violence against Stephen Heyman (and other editors) had he not resigned?
There's no question that just as last spring's Iraq protestors acted out of a long-held desire to re-enact Brandeis' anti-Vietnam demonstrations, the BBSO members are positioning themselves as the heirs to the "Malcolm X University" students who took over Ford Hall for several days in 1969; indeed, the student center that housed both the Thursday forum and the Justice's office are in the building that was built on the former site of Ford Hall.
I believe that both last year's antiwar protestors and this year's BBSO were largely encouraged and pushed in that direction by a certain element of activist faculty members who practice political correctness as a fundamentalist religion, and for years have intruded in campus politics accordingly. For these people, it is now and forever 1969; they're merely using the scandal to advance an agenda that's been in place since before Daniel Passner was born.
-The next front-page story deals with the near-riot that occurred last Monday, after Justice/BBSO negotiations had broken down over the paper's refusal to accede to all of the demands, and the BBSO thus sought- with the 100% backing of the university administration- to do nothing less than infringe on the paper's First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and of the press. Most chilling quote:
"[Dean] Jean Eddy coerced us into not printing. She said that it's the best for the Brandeis community," Associate Editor Igor Pedan '05 said. "She wanted to appease BBSO so that Brandeis' image in supporting diversity doesn't falter. She said that they were the injured party so we should succumb to them."
Yet the administrators sent out their PR man to lie to the Boston Globe. How admirable.
-The editors contribute two editorials (included as one in the web version)- one, an apology, and the other, a defense against the horrible accusations to which they've been subjected. Both are reasonably well-argued, but I have to question the placement, on the website at least, of the defense above the apology. What, did the webmaster resign too?
-On the editorial page are two letters of resignation, by erstwhile EIC Stephen Heyman and by Yana Litovsky, the Features Editor who served as a powerful, free-thinking voice for her entire time on the paper, and was especially outspoken at the time of the "Men's Room" incident.
Heyman's letter is 100% defense and 0% apology, but that's understandable, considering that, as someone who had a promising career as editor-in-chief cut off at the knees just weeks into his tenure for next to no fault of his own, and had to deal with threats of violence to boot, he probably got hosed worse in this thing than anyone else.
Litovsky also goes the next-to-no-remorse route, and her piece is a gem. The money graf:
We, however, have not been treated as journalists, but rather as muses for social justice. In addition to our anger at ourselves and at the issue at hand - not a journalistic error, but racism - we have absorbed and internalized the anger of our peers, and we have been forced to concede to demands far beyond our call of duty. Insofar as the demands have contorted our journalistic standards and duties, we have let the student body step on our necks to reach new heights of social action...Sacrificing the editor-in-chief is a punitive measure, devoid of reason and potency. By sabotaging the Justice as a vital dissemination of student opinion, it is a gratuitous, ineffective and detrimental gesture.
To turn the Passner affair into a microcosm of American race relations is nothing short of absurd, for the simple reason that the appearance of Passner's column in the paper was a mistake. Racism is more than a mistake- it is a sickness, a virus, and it is evil. A bunch of college students trying to put together a newspaper are not sick, are not evil, and are certainly not the heirs to Jim Crow.
-The 23 letters to the editor the Justice received (I predicted 25) in regards to the Passner matter have been posted online as a PDF; I've only skimmed them thus far, but I saw one great point made that I'll address right now, from a letter by student Paul Kandel:
Had the article said, "the only thing Joseph Lieberman has a Ph.D in starts with a K and rhymes with 'hike,'" I would have been furious. I may have been mad enough to make generalized comments about the responsible parties, even if I knew nothing about them. I may have even been angry enough to walk out of a forum designed to heal and show that I would not listen.
But I would've been wrong.
Exactly. I couldn't have said that better myself.
-The Justice's first major mistake in the post-Passner era? A truly dreadful feature headline: "Bulimia Festers in the Student Body" -Passner's blog is no longer online; I guess taking it off is the closest thing he's given to a comment since this all started.
-And finally, if there's one overarching theme that I've seen in the letters, blog entries, and elsewhere, it was a sense of horror and gloom that came from 10 days of a campus virtually at war, when it appeared possible that Brandeis might devolve at any moment into full-fledged racial violence. So what did Brandeis president Jehuda Reinharz tell the Daily News Tribune on Thursday, when asked about the situation? He was "pleased" at how the "community" has responded!
The discussions in the past few days that have occurred across campus have heightened awareness of the many issues involved and moved our community to a better understanding of the divisiveness and pain the expressions in The Justice caused.
So after doing his part to fan the flames by sending out a campus-wide e-mail the day after the column appeared which falsely implied that the Justice editors had fully endorsed Passner's sentiments (without first interviewing them), Jehuda now thinks the whole affair, which brought the campus to the brink of a riot, was in the end a good thing! To think I once had respect for Reinharz- what a spineless, duplicitous bastard.
-Thanks again to everyone who's been reading my thoughts on this all week, I appreciate the nice comments. And I'll be back up at my alma mater for a visit next month, for the first time in way too long.
A CONFESSION: I've been debating whether or not to share this, but what the hell: Passner's column was not, believe or not, the first time a Tigger/[n-word] pun has appeared on the pages of the Justice. The previous time, yours truly was responsible- albeit in a very different context, and with very different (which is to say, no) consequences.
When I was Arts Editor in 2000, "The Tigger Movie" was released, and we ran a review of it in the Arts section, accompanied by a photo of the "cheerful scamp." Being in the habit at the time of amusing myself by running funny photo captions that referenced music and movies, and seeking to pay tribute to the seminal '80s rap group N.W.A., I gave the photo the caption "Tiggers With Attitudes." Shortly before, I believe, I had seen the VH1 "Behind the Music" special on the group, on which the show's ubiquitous, ofay narrator used the word "niggaz" several times.
It ran, not a single person noticed or even said a word, there were no calls for my resignation, and I didn't think of it again until two days ago. There, I feel better now having that off my chest…
HAPPY HALLOWEEN: And as Larry David says, just because it's Halloween it "doesn't give people the right to use the holiday for their own selfish needs, and to go around to people's homes and bilk them out of candy."
Halloween in Hoboken is quite a sight- children in costume trolling for candy on the same streets where the NJGuidos and black-clad sorority chicks normally troll for... other things. Of course, the twain did indeed meet earlier this evening, as the hottie barmaids stood in front of the Black Bear and handed out candy to the little Batmans and fairy princesses.
Best costume? An eight-year-old white kid dressed as Ricky Williams, complete with fake dreadlocks and a Williams jersey.
MILLER TIME: Dennis Miller, it was announced today, will host a new political talk show on CNBC. I endorse the idea, because the despite the comic's tack to the right he does know comedy and politics the way few others do. As long as he promises not to run for the Senate...
SOMEBODY'S GETTING MARRIED…: The Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt of blogging couples, "Asparagirl" Brooke Schreier and "Captain" Scott Ganz, will walk down the aisle this weekend in Manhattan, in what is undoubtedly the biggest wedding in the history of the Blogosphere. And rumor has it they'll be a starting a new blog together, upon returning from their honeymoon. A hearty "mazel tov" to both!
ALL THE FOOTBALL, NONE OF THE ANTI-SEMITISM: It's the Homage to TMQ contest, at FootballOutsiders.com! And Easterbrook himself even makes a cameo or two.
And this guy has transcribed and archived all of the TMQ columns from the last year that ESPN deleted. No cheerleader pictures, though :(.
SITCOM CHARACTER QUOTE OF THE DAY: "If you took all the porn off the internet, there'd only be one website left in the world: BringBackThePorn.com" –John C. McGinley, "Scrubs," last night. Great actor, great quote, great show.
ALCS FALLOUT, CONT'D: Don Zimmer will reportedly take over as bench coach for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays who, like his previous employer, are an AL East team that is run from Tampa, Florida. Meanwhile, Grady Little interviewed today for the manager's job with the Baltimore Orioles. Just what Grady needs- 9 games a year at Fenway!
Meanwhile, Manny Ramirez has cleared waivers and his rights have reverted to the Boston Red Sox. But don't believe the hype that Ramirez and his contract are "untradeable"- he's a $100 million player who's still good. Last year the Rockies were able to trade, to the Braves, the contract of a $100 million player (Mike Hampton) who wasn't still good, and even got a third team (the Marlins) to facilitate the deal. Considering what happened with the Marlins this year, don't be so sure another team won't step up and see their own self-interest in helping to spin Manny out of Boston…
SPORTS GUY QUOTE OF THE DAY: The Simmons Plan for the NBA: "When I'm commissioner of the league, my first act of business- right after A.) forcing every team to have cheerleaders; B.) instituting the "mega-assist" stat for passes that lead directly to dunks or layups; C.) making the coaches wear uniforms on the bench; and D.) buying David Stern's 1984 mustache off eBay and sticking it on my upper lip -- will be merging Miami, Atlanta, Toronto, New Jersey and the Clippers, then relocating them to Vegas. Think about it: Every problem in the NBA would be solved: overexpansion, talent dilution, dwindling fan bases, ghastly uniforms, and most importantly, the lack of a team in Vegas."
Thursday, October 30, 2003 IN THE GLOBE: The Boston Globe covers the Justice thing again, adding little new stuff besides a quote from Brandeis flack Dennis Nealon, who stated that the paper was delayed because the editors "decided to take their time and look at this, to give students enough time to have input, and not rush an issue out while things are evolving." Which would have been nice, except that it's not what happened. Wonderful- the administration has now resorted to bald-faced lying.
Current Brandeis senior Dahlia has more. And here's a blog by "SuzieMoozie," a Brandeis student coming at things from a more anti-Justice angle.
DOING THE WAIVE: The Boston Red Sox did something interesting today- they placed their best offensive player, Manny Ramirez, on irrevocable waivers. This does not mean Ramirez is a free agent, but rather that every team in the rest of the league will have a chance to claim him from the Red Sox, without compensation to Boston.
Notice I didn't say "for free." That's because Ramirez, baseball's second highest-paid player, is still owed $100 million over the next five years, and any team that claimed him would be on the hook for that amount. If this were football the Sox could just cut him and take a hit of a couple mil, but in baseball all contracts are guaranteed, meaning that in order to move Ramirez, the Sox will have to move his contract too.
There are a few strange dynamics at work here- Manny obviously wants to play for the Yankees, so the Red Sox have essentially dared George Steinbrenner to take a shot (he's already said no). Therefore, Ramirez will likely pass through waivers, and then the Bosox will spend the rest of the offseason trying to trade him.
My theory? The Sox are trying to unload the second highest-paid player because they really covet the highest paid player. Yes, they want A-Rod, and are willing to give up Nomar Garciaparra to get him. Jimmy Fallon won't like it, but perhaps the rest of RSN will. But whether the Rangers are ready to give up on Alex Rodriguez three years into his ten-year, $252 million contract is another matter entirely.
And in other baseball news, the players' union is once again making noises about bringing a collusion case against Selig and the owners. Uh oh- I knew labor peace couldn't last long.
"THE DAMAGE IS MORE EXTENSIVE THAN FIRST REPORTED": Campus Press Notes has a comprehensive chronology up of the Passner affair that quotes a source on the paper, and tells us a lot that we didn't know already. Like that threats were made to physically stop the production of the paper. And The Justice is now essentially crippled, as just about everyone who knew how to put the paper together has now resigned. Yikes.
SOCIAL JUSTICE: I guess today was the day the Passner story really broke through in the Blogosphere, with Romenesko and others taking notice; could a certain professor be far behind? Anyway, thanks and welcome to everyone who's found this site through Google searches on the subject or however other means; traffic's been insanely high the last few days so I guess quite a few people are searching around for news on what's going on up at Brandeis...
(And if you don't care at all about this and you'd rather read about other stuff, feel free to click down to the next post, or through to the next blog as it were. Last week it was baseball, this week it's this; I can already tell you next week I'll be blogging every day about the Strokes.)
I thought I'd take this opportunity to clarify a few things I've said previously, in response to a couple of the e-mails I've gotten on the subject in the last two days. I want to preface by saying that like anyone else, I come into the situation with my own opinions and personal prejudices, and I don't pretend to speak for anyone other than myself.
And no, I'm not at Brandeis right now. But then I wasn't in Iraq either, and that didn't stop me from blogging about it:
-First of all, I want to make clear that I have not and do not in any way seek to minimize the hatefulness of what Passner wrote, and am in no way urging the African-Americans at Brandeis to "get over it" or "not make such a big deal." Clearly, they have more than a legitimate grievance, and as someone who is not black I don't feel as though it's my place to tell them how they should or should not react to blatantly racist material appearing in the student newspaper.
-At the same time, I certainly feel as though certain people who don't deserve it are being tarred with the racism brush- and even the justifiable anger of Brandeis' black community doesn't make such a tarring fair.
I guess as a former staffer for the paper, I feel a natural identification with the Justice editors, who made a horrible mistake but are now collectively being accused of doing much worse. There are likely people on the current Justice Editorial Board who have wanted to pursue journalism careers for their entire lives, and now may have to abandon that dream because their names will forever be associated with a racially charged scandal- even though most of them had nothing personally to do with the mistake.
Three years out of Brandeis, I right now have a semi-successful professional career as a journalist. Had I not gained experience from having been a writer and editor on the Justice I probably wouldn't have that career, and I can't help but think that if when I was on the board one of the other editors had let a column like Passner's slip into the paper, my name would've been dragged into it, and as a result I may have had to find myself a new career before I even finished college.
Yes, the Justice editors made a horrible, horrible mistake. But nobody likes being the subject of the vitriol of an entire campus, or being subjected to non-negotiable demands, or being told by university higher-ups that their recent editor-in-chief election is nullified because they can't publish until that editor quits... just something to keep in mind.
-So the entire brain trust of a newspaper has been brought down by their failure to prevent the journalistic malpractice of a single lunatic writer. But something tells me Dan Passner won't get a book deal like Jayson Blair did.
-It's been said that Brandeis is a powderkeg where racial tension is bound to flare up at least once every few years. That may be because it's a campus where roughly half the student body has five background factors in common (say it with me: white/Jewish/suburban/upper-middle-class/liberal), and has very little experience sharing time or space with anyone who doesn't fit most or all of those criteria. I'm not about to blame the tension on affirmative action (which I support) or diversity (which I also support, though the implementation could use some work.) What I do have a problem with is with the rise of a certain form of doctrinaire, political correctness-based identity politics (practically invented by Brandeis' own Herbert Marcuse, and today mostly advanced by white professors and some white students) that, coupled with ever-present '60s nostalgia, has galvanized the Brandeis left before, during, and since my time there. Indeed, if the student body has it hard-wired into their heads from the start that every institution under the sun is intrinsically racist, is it any wonder that the raving of a singular nut like Passner gets mistaken for a widespread racist conspiracy?
-When I was on the Justice the paper was primarily accused of two sins: incompetance, and excessive toadying to the adminstration. Both were preferable to racism, of course; the former charge is likely to come back stronger than ever, but with some administration members now no longer even talking to the Justice, we may finally have seen the last of the latter.
-Another story: my senior year I went with a few of my co-editors to a college journalism conference in New York. We got to meet Martin Sheen; it was lots of fun. But I remember in particular that several of the other people that we met at the conference were there representing Midwestern bible colleges, which legislated such draconian, "Footloose"/John Ashcroft-like rules as "no dancing allowed." And when these intrepid young journalists would try to get gutsy and run pro-dancing editorials in their paper, the administrators would of course step in and quash publication. "Lucky us," we all thought, "our administrators would never do that!"
Should've known- last weekend the Brandeis administration, proving once again that the ubiquitous Brandeis buzzword "social justice" can be stretched to justify just about anything, unilaterally declared that The Justice- the Independent Student Newspaper of Brandeis University- could not publish until their newly elected editor-in-chief resigned, and until the paper agreed to push publication back three days. Why would they do such a thing? Fear of bad publicity, of course, if not of a potential race riot. Whether it's stuff like this, the bowing towards the false PC idol, or the gravy train of athletics, college presidents and other adminstrators have proven to be some of the most loathsome, good-for-nothing people in America.
-At any rate, it is my hope that order and peace can be restored up in Waltham, and the sooner the better. I end with one more question: This entire brouhaha began as a result of Passner's racist attack on Cubs manager Dusty Baker. Does Baker himself have any idea that this is going on?
Wednesday, October 29, 2003 TREMENDOUS UPSIDE POTENTIAL, VOL. 1: Part I of Sports Guy's gargantuan three-part NBA preview appeared on ESPN.com today, with more to follow. I'm with him until he picks the T-Wolves 7th in the West. 7th? Anyway, tune in tomorrow for Part 2, featuring the West contenders, and a whole summer's worth of Doug Christie jokes!
HOWARD DEAN OUTS HIMSELF...: As a metrosexual. Like a bad Maureen Dowd column come to life...
Does this mean Dean's entire campaign is a front for the Crab People?
BIG TIME, NOW: Romenesko has picked up the Passner story, so by the end of the day the nation's entire media elite will know about it. Jim links to the latest account by the Newton Daily News Tribune. News from the story- five staffers have now resigned, the column went unedited because Passner submitted it late Monday night (at least 36 hours after deadline), and the sports editor never even read it; deposed editor-in-chief Stephen Heyman is also interviewed, and calls Passner's quote "an abortion of journalistic ethics."
Also, according to the Campus Press Notes blog, a call to the Justice office yields a message that says "The administration won't let us print unless the editor-in-chief resigns." Proving once again that some of the most gutless, spineless, morally bankrupt people in America are senior university administrators.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Maureen Dowd -- that catty, third-rate, wannabe sorority queen. She's such an empty vessel. One pleasure of reading the New York Times online is that I never have to see anything written by Maureen Dowd! I ignore her hypertext like spam for penis extenders." -Camille Paglia, Salon.com. Read the whole interview, there's some great stuff about the Democrats, Rush Limbaugh, and that "parasite" Terry McAuliffe.
Tuesday, October 28, 2003 PASSNER'S BLOG: It's sparse, but he does have one. Check out the first comment to the first post- it's priceless, especially in light of what we know now.
BASEBALL BASEBALL BASEBALL: Thomas Boswell in the Washington Post makes a convincing case that 2003 was the best baseball postseason in history. All that, and the Yankees lost too!
NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE: The Boston Globe is on the story, and reports that the editor in chief- who likely wrote for the paper for years and just took over as EIC this week- has resigned as well. In addition, due to demands from the BBSO to put a statement in the paper, the publication of the new issue has been delayed until Friday. Some are also calling for the paper to be shut down, which is the usual campus anti-First Amendment hooey; as someone who wrote for that paper for four years, was a columnist for three, and an editor for one, I'll certainly have something to say about that.
I'm not planning to blog much more about this, because it appears to be (or at least, should be) a dead issue. But one observation- I really think these protestors need to put things in perspective: two weeks ago a Brandeis student, Mary Jagoda, was tragically killed in a kayaking accident off of Cape Cod. Isn't the death of one of their classmates something that's much more worthy of these peoples' attention and anger than something someone wrote in a silly newspaper column?
(Speaking of Mary, her family has requested that donations in her memory be made to the Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund, as her older brother Jake was a Cantor employee who perished in the 9/11 attacks. Contact the fund at this e-mail address for more information on how to contribute.)
NBA '03: THREE PREDICTIONS: 1. The Spurs will repeat as champions
2. The Timberwolves will finally get out of the first round, and
3. Kobe Bryant will not play for the Lakers this year.
Monday, October 27, 2003 DON'T SEE 'CRUEL': My review of "Intolerable Cruelty," the worst film the Coen Brothers have ever made, is online at IOFilm.com.
JUSTICE SCANDAL UPDATE: There've been lots of developments in the Daniel Passner controversy up at my alma mater Brandeis; here's a brief roundup. For those coming to this newly, here's my original post, here's the account from a local paper in Framingham, and here's JawsBlog, who gets all the e-mails first, and is if you ask me the blogosphere's primary authority on the matter.
-Passner has resigned from the Justice, as has the paper's sports editor; the editor-in-chief Stephen Heyman, who had the wonderful luck of the major scandal erupting in this first issue at the helm, will likely escape unscathed. Passner has also stepped down from his position in the Student Union Senate.
-According to the Framingham MetroWest Daily News' version of events, the offending remark "was highlighted in red by a copy editor in training but never fixed," and the paper will now adopt a new system that ensures three editors read every bit of copy.
Funny- I was a Justice editor just three years ago, and our system at the time assured that every word of copy was read by the editor-in-chief, section editor, section editor's assistants, and usually one or two associate (former section) editors. Mistakes got by, of course, but never any racial slurs. For something as egregious as what Passner wrote to pass by without anyone even noting it aloud is perplexing, to say the least. Then again it's been alleged, in comments below and elsewhere, that the editors don't much like Passner and purposely hung him out to dry by including the quote, but I of course have no way of knowing the veracity of that.
-The Justice Editorial Board flubbed the ball big time, of course, but I think this battle is similar to the ones we used to have when the arts section would forget to review plays- the Justice editors (and writers) are not professional journalists, and therefore don't believe that they have to conduct themselves in that regard. They should of course strive for professionalism in their work, but that doesn’t mean they do.
-I received an e-mail this afternoon from the student, Passner's friend, to whom the quote was attributed. He says that he was "grossly misquoted," his quotes were taken out of context, and that he was "as surprised as anyone to see my name associated with such an abhorrent statement." Assuming that's true, I think he's got a pretty good libel case against his (presumably now-former) friend.
-I was sort of hoping that this incident could serve as a chance for the Brandeis campus to have a productive dialogue about race relations, and in some way encourage the school's different ethnic groups to get along. After all, I'd imagine there aren't many white students who agree with/approve of use of the n-word.
If only… ever since Tuesday the Brandeis left has been in its usual hysterical mode, once again proving that at Brandeis, '60s fantasies trump all else. At a forum hosted by the Justice editors in which the student body was essentially given free reign to slam them at will, the Black Student Organization (BBSO) staged a walkout at the beginning (not the middle, or end), the beginning of the forum. Then, the head of the Intercultural Center (ICC), the school's identity-politics umbrella organization, announced that he and his organization will no longer supply quotes to The Justice; university administrator Rick Sawyer, who from dealing with in the past I assumed was a sane, level-headed guy, has taken a similar pledge.
This makes little sense- since the publication of Passner's column, the paper has apologized, accepted the resignations of both Passner and the sports editor, hosted the forum, and agreed to run a front-page apology. In other words, it sounds to me like they've done everything right, and that they truly want to build bridges with the school's minority organizations (at least one editor was brought to tears during the forum). But the ICC -angry that the apology will only "begin" on the front page and continue elsewhere- has decided to ignore those overtures for no reason other than to be self-righteous; and besides, who ever heard of a source boycotting a newspaper for political reasons? Doesn't this hurt the ICC more than it helps?
- There's an interesting lesson here, that's just as true of Fox News Channel hosts as it is of campus activists: there's nothing more fun than outrage, or the pretense of outrage. Brandeis' activists have had the same reaction to Dan Passner calling Dusty Baker the n-word that Bill O'Reilly had to that death row inmate who wanted the government to pay for his sex change- outrage, but at the same time a perverse sense of both opportunity and superiority at the chance to take on such an off-the-charts, almost stereotypical enemy- as well as use it to push a pre-existing agenda. Some activists will attempt to portray the Passner incident as "a dark day in Brandeis history"- bullshit. To them, it's Christmas in October.
-The Justice's next issue comes out tomorrow- I'd put the over/under on Passner-related letters at around 25.
-And lastly, one line from the Student Union Senate's letter to the community just about made me fall off my chair:
In addition to supporting concerned students, the Student Union will continue to support both the Union Senate Diversity Committee and the "Creating Awareness: One Thought at a Time" diversity initiative launched earlier this month.
One thought at a time? One thought at a time? Anyone else get a bit of an Orwellian chill when a university's student government specifically endorses the concept of thought police?
BABES OF THE BLOGOSPHERE: Outside the Beltway has posted a listing of the Blogosphere's leading megababes. I'm not about to share my own personal rankings, but I will say that more often than not, I've been pleasantly surprised by the attractiveness of female bloggers I've had the priviledge of meeting.
(Found via one such babe, Sheila O'Malley).
"I SCREWED UP SO BAD EVEN THE FOOTBALL GODS WERE MAD AT ME": Gregg Easterbrook has posted a message to his fans at FootballOutsiders.com; that site is also running a "Homage to TMQ contest." Easterbook says that he's in negotiations to bring back the TMQ column elsewhere- and will participate in the contest too.
Stephen I. Weiss has an excellent synopsis of the whole Easterbrook flap over at Jewsweek- I'm with him until the part where he calls Meryl Yourish a "screaming hysteric."
"HEATHERS" COMES TO NYU?: There have been three suicides in the first two months of the school year at New York University, all caused by jumps from campus buildings (two of them from the same balcony), and all under mysterious circumstances. Where have we heard that before? I can just see some hippie professor nattering on about how "suicide is a choice!"
Then again, what do you expect from a school that houses the Kevorkian Center?
TALK ABOUT "THE PASSION": One question about this Jesus-gets-struck-by-lightning story that I haven't seen brought up at all: much was made of Mel Gibson screening his "Passion" movie about two months ago for a group of critics/sycophants, including right-wing Jews Dennis Prager and Michael Medved. That was supposed to be a "rough cut"; but now, months later, actor Jim Caviezel was struck by lightning while on the set. That's right- on the set. What does that mean? It means Gibson is still filming. If a nearly-finished version earned the supposed seal of approval of "the Jews," and that was supposed to put the controversy to bed, then what is Gibson doing filming more footage- and presumably still making changes- all these months later?
HOW WE KNOW THE STUPID TRUCKER HAT FAD IS OVER: On "Punk'd" last night, Ashton Kutcher didn’t wear one. He wore like four different hats in different segments, but alas there was a no mesh to be found. Take that, hipster jag-offs.
And speaking of MTV shows that revolve around people being humiliated- what ever happened to "Dude, This Sucks"? Some of you may recall a flap from the spring of 2001, when two girls sued MTV after they were "sprayed with human feces" by a duo of men called "the Shower Rangers" during a taping of a new show called "Dude, This Sucks." The show never aired; after the two girls hired lawyer/ cable news fixture/ big-haired monstrosity Gloria Allred, she likely found some way to put the kibosh on the show.
Can we get Gloria to do the same to "The Abrams Report"? If not, maybe the Shower Rangers can…
Sunday, October 26, 2003 MARLINS IN SIX: Congratulations to the 2003 World Champion Florida Marlins, who defeated the Yankees in six games Saturday night to win the second world championship in the franchise's 11-year history (and in just their second winning season.) I watched the final game of the postseason the way I did the first- in the bleachers. Not the real ones, but fake ones set up to approximate the Stadium in Rockefeller Center, where the game played on a giant screen, and after the loss I had to hear the lamentations of Yankee fans who have now gone three whole years without a world championship. Honestly, my heart just bleeds for them.
It's been said that Florida manager Jack McKeon may now retire; If the Marlins insist on continuing to employ a septuagenarian skipper, I hear Don Zimmer might be looking for a job.
Normally in this situation I would call up people I know to congratulate them on their team winnng, as I would if the champion had been the Red Sox, Cubs, or even the Yankees. But the thing is, I don't know a single Florida Marlins fan; until I hear otherwise (and until they draw more than a 50% crowd to a regular season game), I'll just assume such creatures are mythical.
EVERY DAY I SEARCH THE BOOKS: Amazon.com this week announced a new feature of their website that will be taking up a whole lot of my time- Search Inside the Book is a search of every word of every book ever written- or, at least, in Amazon's database. Like Google and Lexis-Nexus put together, only better. Can't hardly wait.
SCREENWRITER QUOTE OF THE DAY: From a New Yorker article by Tad Friend about credit disputes between big-name and not-so-big-name screenwriters:
Paul Rudnick, who wrote uncredited dialogue for "The First Wives Club," among other films, was once asked to make a script more "cunty." He declined.
Friday, October 24, 2003 WALTHAM'S GREGG EASTERBROOK: An Easterbrook-like brainfart by a sports columnist in the latest issue of the campus newspaper has caused yet another PC to-do at my alma mater Brandeis- but this time, for once in my life, I'm on the side of the PC zealots.
At the end of a not particularly strong column arguing that Chicago Cubs manager Dusty Baker cost his team the NLCS with his boneheaded moves (does that mean Bartman is off the hook?), Justice sports columnist Dan Passner had this to say about Baker:
As I often like to do, I will end with a quote. This one comes from noted campus civil rights activist [student's name]. I cannot endorse it, but I find it fitting. In response to the praise being heaped on the skills of Dusty Baker, [student] responded, "The only thing Baker has a Ph.D. in is something that starts with an N and rhymes with Tigger, the cheerful scamp who stole all of our hearts in the Winnie the Pooh series."
Let's quickly go through all the things that are wrong with that statement, and the column itself:
1. I'm all for being "edgy" and "controversial," and when I was a Justice editor I often bemoaned the paper's "first hurt no one's feelings" ethos. But on campus or not, in print or not, using (or in this case, eluding to) the "n-word" to refer to a black person is absolutely beyond the pale- you don't do it, period. Shame on Passner for writing it, shame on his friend for saying it, and shame on the Justice for running it.
2. Not only that, but the "joke" doesn't even make any sense. He has a "Ph. D. in [the n-word]?" What the hell does that mean? Is it some sort of new spin on Stuart Scott's "Ph. D: playa hatin' degree" line?
3. I don't know what the Justice was thinking here- did they not know the shitstorm this would cause? The current editors probably think it's "censorship" to edit out a controversial statement by one of their writers, apparently never having heard of "editorial judgment." If they bow to the inevitable pressure and fire Passner from his column gig, I won't object for a second.
4. If the author "doesn’t endorse" calling a man by the ugliest racial slur in the English language, how can he "find it fitting"? And why did he bother to include it in his column?
5. On top of all that, Passner's whole column is wrong- Baker is in fact one of the best managers in baseball, a man who took the Giants to the World Series in 2002, stepped down, and then managed the perennially underachieving Cubs to their best season in decades. The column is also chock-full of errors and other offensive and pretty questionable statements- Baker and Kenny Lofton "go together like Amos and Andy?" "Dusty seems as smart as Jessica Simpson, and his breasts seem to sag more?" Does he want to make fun of Dusty's kid while he's at it?
Passner also acts as though the acquisitions by the Cubs of Lofton, Randall Simon and Aramis Ramirez were failures, when in fact those three players helped the Cubs win a tight pennant race, as well as upset Atlanta in the first round. Passner seems to hate Baker to the degree that he has to make stuff up to support his opinions; indeed, he's just as wrong about Baker as Limbaugh was about McNabb.
The reaction from Brandeis' left, of course, has been so loud as to nearly be audible in Hoboken. A all-school "town meeting" was held Thursday night with the entire Justice Editorial Board; the requisite candlelight vigil can't be far behind.
According to an e-mail obtained by JawsBlog, one campus activist is somehow under the impression that Dusty Baker holds a doctorate from an Ivy League university (having made his major league debut at age 19, played 19 years in the majors, and managed for 11 more, it's hard to tell when he would've had time to earn such a degree.) The e-mail also brings up and attacks as racist an incident during this year's orientation week, when a hypnotist who was performing on campus asked a student under hypnosis to "speak Chinese," after which said student said "ching chang chong." Yes, you heard that right- under hypnosis. This comes two years after "The Mens' Room Incident" in November of 2001, when a couple of guys on a campus radio show made some ill-advised ethnic jokes about Asians, and it caused more anger among many 'deis students than did certain other world events that were occurring at that particular period in history. With the Passner Affair now in full swing, we're obviously going to hear that Brandeis is "institutionally" racist, which is about as true as the post-TMQ accusation that The New Republic is anti-Semitic.
If anything, the PC lunacy that has enveloped my alma mater and other colleges for the past few years has had the effect of the Boy Who Cried Wolf- if everything under the sun is called racist, it takes away a lot of the sting on the rare occasion that something truly, blatently, racist- like Passner's attack on Dusty Baker- really does occur. My fellow Brandeisians would be wise to keep this in mind.
(Josh Wiznitzer has been on this story like glue; check out his blog for more.)
HEADLINE OF THE YEAR NOMINEE: "Actor Playing Jesus Struck by Lightning." Listen up, Mel Gibson: God's trying to tell you something. Of course, I'm looking forward to seeing Mel find a way to blame this one on the Jews; after all, we control the weather now too.
AND IN BETTER BRANDEIS NEWS…: Kanan Makiya, a professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at Brandeis who was a leading Iraqi dissident for more than 20 years, recently returned from several months in Iraq and spoke at Brandeis about how his country is faring following the fall of Saddam; I really wish I could've been there. Now that's just about the best reason I've ever heard for a professor taking a leave of absence- because he was returning to his country after it was liberated. 3:38 PM
"STRAIGHT GIRLS DRESSED UP IN SLUT OUTFITS, PRETENDING TO BE LESBIANS:" Now they're mad at Beyonce, because she said she "never would've done something like" the lesbian kiss shared by Madonna, Britney, and Christina at the VMAs. Not wanting to make out with Kelly and Michelle or whoever else on national TV somehow makes The Bootylicious One a homophobe? Please. Sheila O'Malley takes this down much better than I ever could.
I'm sure most or all of Beyonce's makeup people and backup dancers are gay. And besides, she dates Jay-Z, about whom Nas famously said "H-to-the-IzzO, M-to-the-IzzO." So if that's true, Beyonce's not gay, but her boyfriend is.
RILEY BAILS: Deciding two days before the season that "the time is right," Pat Riley has stepped down as coach of the Miami Heat, where he'll be replaced by Stan Van Gundy, brother of the man who replaced Riley (albeit indirectly) with the Knicks. The winner of four championships with the Lakers in the '80s will stay on as GM and team president.
Riley apparently looked at his lineup featuring "prize" free agent forward Lamar Odom and decided it was time to call it a career; his resignation hopefully brings us closer to the inevitable biopic starring Michael Douglas as Riley.
GRADY MAY BAIL: Embattled Red Sox manager Grady Little said Thursday that he's "not sure" if he wants to return to the Red Sox next season; expect he and the team to part ways on Monday. It's sort of sad really; Little is by all accounts a good man who knows what he's doing and took the team the furthest it had gotten in nearly two decades. But some people clearly aren't cut out for the viciousness of the fans and media along the Boston/New York/Philly corridor, and Little appears to be one of those people. Therefore, I nominate him to be the first-ever manager of the Washington Expos.
1900-2003: Severing one of the final remaining links to the political leadership of pre-Communist China, Madame Chiang Kai-shek died today at the age of 105. Are there any famous centurians left in America?
IT'S THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT?: A solar flare is expected to strike Earth later today, as the already thin line between real life and Michael Bay's filmography grows fuzzier by the day.
Clearly, what we all need right now is an internationally renowned aerospace and astronomy expert to help explain this all for us. Say, what's Gregg Easterbrook up to this week?
Wednesday, October 22, 2003 STEPHEN SILVER'S BLOG SALUTES RON SILVER:
-Because he's played both Alan Dershowitz and Robert Shapiro in different movies, but never Johnnie Cochran.
-Because of his politics: an unabashed liberal, he nonetheless defends America at every turn, including the time at a conference in Switzerland that he shouted at an EU bureaucrat that "America is not an imperialist country, and you know it!"
-Because in playing a porn baron on the new show "Skin," he joins the starlet Cheyenne Silver and the legendary Long Dong Silver in the pantheon of pornographers who share my last name.
-Because like Long Dong, he may someday figure in the fate of a US Supreme Court nominee.
-Because he starred in the movie "Enemies: A Love Story," which was co-written by uber-blogger Roger L. Simon.
-Because his father's name was Irving Silver; my father's name is Alan Irving Silver.
-Because he's "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" come to life: Before turning to acting, he considered doing intelligence work.
-Because HIS FATHER IS THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY
-Because he's a much better actor than Bob Balaban, Oliver Platt or Ron Rifkin.
-Because he's the subject of this, the definitive Ron Silver fansite on the web.
-Because I'm not related to him, but damn I wish I was.
BIRD IS THE WORD: Some of you may remember a flap last July in which Sue Bird, the young player for the WNBA's Seattle Storm, made a wager with local radio personality Mitch Levy which stipulated that if her assist-to-turnover ratio for the season were above 2-1, the WNBA-bashing Levy would buy season tickets to the Storm's games. But if the ratio went below that number, Levy would be allowed to spank Bird on the air, while she proclaimed "harder, daddy, harder!"
Under pressure from the league and its fans, Bird canceled the bet before the season began, but I'm happy to report that Bird would've won it with flying colors, finishing with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.01, good for 6th in the league (this was, alas, my first-ever time searching the WNBA's statistics page). In fact, now that Levy is no longer on the hook for purchasing season tickets, I suppose everyone wins, aside from horny WNBA fans of both genders who were looking forward to hearing Bird get spanked live on the air.
Bird, who is NOT Larry Bird's illegitimate daughter (though he does have one), is also probably the second most attractive American female athlete, after Marion Jones. Yet for some reason I've been getting pornographic Google searches for the past year looking for her much-less-comely former UConn teammate Diana Taurasi. Why is that?
THE "I HATE 'TOINE CLUB" IS CLOSED: Severing one of the final links to the Celtics-practice-at-Brandeis Era (1994-1999), the team on Monday traded Antoine Walker to the Dallas Mavericks in a five-player deal that nets the Celtics Raef LaFrentz. The trade gives Boston something they never had even in the Bird/McHale era (a slow, white center), and ensures that my boy Mark Cuban will have so many scorers and so little defense that the Mavs will be playing a lot of 150-130 games this year.
But more importantly, it ends Walker's often combative period in Boston, where he made multiple All-Star teams but also often struggled, especially under his former Kentucky coach Rick "Negativity Sucks" Pitino. Some friends of mine were so mad at Walker back in the day that they put up a sign-up sheet in their apartment for the "I Hate 'Toine Club."
ELLIOTT SMITH: 1969-2003: Singer-songwriter Elliott Smith, best known for contributing several songs to the "Good Will Hunting" soundtrack, died today at the age of 34, in an apparent suicide.
Most earily of all? In the 2001 movie "The Royal Tenenbaums," Smith's song "Needle in the Hay" plays while Luke Wilson's character slits his wrists.
WORLD SERIES UPDATE: The Yankees won Game 3 to take a 2-1 series lead. I dozed off in the 8th inning, to give myself a 2-1 series deficit in my quixotic quest to stay awake through at least four of the seven games.
Read Gleeman though- he's been kickass lately, especially in ripping Fox's piss-poor coverage.
HOORAY FOR THE ADL: I don't often praise the Anti-Defamation League, a generally self-righteous outfit that pushed for the Marc Rich pardon, among other misdeeds. But their chairman Glen Tobias is right on today in slamming Paul Krugman for his ridiculous Tuesday column, which essentially excused the "Jews rule the world" comments from the Prime Minister of Malaysia because American policy "made him do it."
Tuesday, October 21, 2003 INTERNET TERROR: Several major blogs were knocked offline for several hours today, supposedly by Islamist cyberterrorists. Don't give me any of that "revolutionary" nonsense- computer hackers are evil, evil people, with no usefulness other than terrorizing, defrauding, and/or inconviencing innocent people. Especially when the hackers may have Al-Qaeda ties.
You've often come to the aid of many a sick, demented fetishist, which has inspired me, a 23-year-old overweight, brown-skinned dude who has never gotten laid, or for that matter even achieved the least intimacy with a lady, sexy or otherwise, to beg your help in locating some kindly lady who might be willing, so to speak, to ignore a poor psychologically castrated fellow's faults and instruct him in the ways of physical love. To be fair, I should say that I'm not a perfect retard, as I did attend a bullshit Ivy League institution, I'm actively pursuing plans to obtain a professional degree, I do have a decent sense of humor, which, unfortunately, is sorely unapparent in this message, and I do not like to eat my own shit.
So please, Dan, if it is within your power as Hero of the Perverse to provide this craven bastard with an introduction to a gentle muse aged 19-35, please, please do. Interested ladies can write me at my e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Porn Really Is a Poor Unholy Substitute
Did you flunk basic composition at that bullshit Ivy League school you attended, or are you on a mission to rehabilitate the run-on sentence? Christ, PRIAPUS (nice acronym, by the way, very Ivy League), there is a period on your keyboard for a reason. After good personal hygiene and a left-leaning voting record, nothing turns on the ladies like concision. If you speak the way you write, PRIAPUS, how can any woman who wants to fuck you possibly tell you if you never pause to take a breath?
I'm happy to print your e-mail address--there it is--but I wouldn't waste much time sitting at home by the computer if I were you. With a creepy e-mail address like "email@example.com," you're probably not going to get a lot of mail from my female readers. So why not bite the bullet and see a whore?
THE CONDI RUMOR: Richard Blow has an article on TomPaine.com this week (picked up by Page Six and other places) asking a provocative question that had previously only been discussed in whispers: is Condoleeza Rice a lesbian?
The occasion of the piece is, oddly enough, a comic strip. An installment last week of Aaron McGruder's radical but periodically funny "Boondocks" strip had the teenaged characters suggesting that someone find the unmarried Rice a boyfriend, so that the nation's first black and first female National Security Advisor would thus not be "so hell-bent on destroying the world."
More than one hundred newspapers, including the Washington Post, declined to run the strip, mostly citing what Blow calls "idea that a woman just needs to get schtupped to be happy." But from the Post's decision, and also citing "Washington scuttlebutt," Blow infers that perhaps there's something about Rice's sexuality that the Post knows but isn't sharing.
I have no idea if Rice actually is gay; it is of course nobody's business other than her own. Bloggers such as Andrew Sullivan and Asparagirl have raised the subject before but I've gotta think that if it there were any hard evidence of such a thing, Michelangelo Signorile or someone like him would've exposed it by now. Now that Blow, a former George magazine editor who wrote a controversial bio of JFK, Jr., has brought the subject into the forefront, perhaps now the Bush Administration will have to answer questions about it- and we know they're just dying to.
FEAR THE MULLET, AND ARTICLES ABOUT IT: The Star Tribune Variety section, showing once again that it's always late to the party on every fashion/cultural trend imaginable, this week ran a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette piece on the mullet fad- only about six years after said fad began. (The New York Times Styles and Arts & Leisure sections, by contrast, usually only miss things by 1-2 years).
Even worse, the piece is merely a vaguely re-worded version of the great MulletsGalore.com website, and (horrors) doesn't even mention Johnny Damon.
(Found via my sister's away message).
BOOM BOOM, LET ME HEAR YA SAY PEDRO, PEDRO!: Welcome those of you visiting from BaseballPrimer; I believe you're looking for this.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Bush told his senior aides Tuesday that he 'didn't want to see any stories' quoting unnamed administration officials in the media anymore, and that if he did, there would be consequences, said a senior administration official who asked that his name not be used." -The Philadephia Inquirer, via Howard Kurtz. The Onion wishes they could come up with humor of this caliber on any type of regular basis.
Monday, October 20, 2003 THE EASTERBROOK MEDIA BLACKOUT: While L'Affair Easterbrook is just about the only thing bloggers are talking about today, a Google News search for TMQ's name shows no news stories whatsoever about his firing (Instapundit noticed this too). There's also still no acknowledgement anywhere on ESPN.com that the column no longer exists; perhaps there will be tomorrow when his thousands of readers log on hoping for their TMQ fix.
In fact, the only hits on Google for any mention of Easterbrook's firing are for the transcripts of two chat sessions, both on the Washington Post website, in which readers brought the subject up- and, since both readers are from "Richmond, Va," I'm guessing they're the same person.
In a Media Backtalk chat, Howard Kurtz takes the mealy-mouthed approach, while in The Chat House, Tony Kornheiser has this to say:
I have no idea who Gregg Easterbrook is. I think there are far too many Web sites now including this Web site. I think you people who spend more than 1 hr a day looking at Web sites should be transformed into giant bugs and crows should fly over and eat you. Are you happy now?
Since Tony Kornheiser and Gregg Easterbrook have both been working journalists in Washington for the better part of 25 years, and (until yesterday) shared a common employer, I really hope Tony is kidding, or is at least shielding his real thoughts so as to not draw the ire of Mr. Eisner.
YANKEES-MARLINS GAME 2 UPDATE: Last night I got home in the bottom of the 4th, watched a half inning, fell asleep on my couch, and then was woken up by a post-game interview with Andy Pettite. In case you haven't noticed, I really don't give a shit about this World Series.
Just four months 'til pitchers and catchers report...
MORE FROM OUR CHARMING ANTI-ZIONIST FRIENDS AT RUTGERS: This guy tried to film the rally, but was met with threats and intimidation. Big surprise, huh?
THE FOOTBALL GODS CHORTLED: So much for that Gregg Easterbrook scandal being "over"- TMQ has been fired from ESPN.com.
If you ask me, this sucks. Unlike Rush Limbaugh, Easterbrook has both apologized and backed off of what he said. Also unlike Limbaugh, Easterbrook has been fired for comments that weren't made in his ESPN column or anywhere else under the auspices of ESPN- he made them in his blog on the website of The New Republic- a publication which has not fired him from his position as senior editor. Even blogger Roger L. Simon (linked above), perhaps Easterbrook's harshest critic, disapproves of the firing.
And even more classlessly, ESPN has removed TMQ's entire column archive from ESPN.com's Page 2- while including no explanation or statement whatsoever. I remember the same network keeping Keith Olbermann's column archive online for at least two years after his acrimonious departure.
Of course, the biggest reason for the firing is likely that Gregg specifically insulted Michael Eisner, CEO of Disney,which owns ABC, which owns ESPN; the order probably didn't come from Eisner directly, but rather from a bit of preemptive ass-kissing but corporate middle-managers. So hopefully Easterbrook will take the column back to its previous home, Slate; he'd just better not make fun of Bill Gates too viciously.
In the meantime, I'm gonna miss the megababes. That, and the Flaming Thumbtacks.
Friday, October 17, 2003 WARNING: If you don't give a hoot about the Yankees or Red Sox or sports in general, click here to proceed directly to my non-baseball thoughts for the day.
"MARTINEZ PITCHED TO FIVE BATTERS IN THE EIGHTH": Rarely does that one line in the boxscore say so much. The Boston Red Sox, like the Chicago Cubs the night before, held a three-run lead with six outs to go before advancing to the World Series. And like the Cubs, and you, and I, the Sox will be watching said Series from their living rooms. To paraphrase Jim Mora, "they gave 'em the game away! They gave 'em the friggin' game!"
The Red Sox were leading 4-2 but Pedro Martinez looked shaky in the 7th, despite escaping with the lead. Sox manager Grady Little, surprisingly, brought Pedro back out to pitch the 8th. And… you know, if you care, you already know the story and I don't need to repeat it. As Jim Caple said, "this is a decision that will haunt Boston fans until even after the Big Dig is complete."
WHAT IT ALL MEANS: Make no mistake about it- the Aaron Boone homer in the 11th goes in the all-time pantheon of horrible Red Sox moments, and is unquestionably the most calamitous event to befall the franchise since that error by what's-his-name back in '86 (and like that game at Shea, the final score was New York 6, Boston 5.)
But, and not to trot out the "wait 'til next year" cliché, but this was merely Year One of Theo Epstein, Year One of Bill James, Year Two of the Henry/Werner/Lucchino ownership group, and Year Two of Grady Little (there may not be a Year 3.) When the new owners took over they declared war on the Yankees, and made it clear that they were building a team meant to knock off the Bronx Bombers as well as Reverse the Curse. They may not have succeeded this year, but losing in the 11th inning of Game 7 is more of an accomplishment than getting crushed in five games, like they did in the '99 ALCS against those same Yankees. In just about every measurable way, the franchise is moving in the right direction.
So my condolences to Isaac, Sheila, and Ben, and other blogging Sox fans; I certainly know how it feels to have my team eliminated by the Yankees this year. And (what the hell) congrats to blogging Yankee fans Paul, Michele, and whomever else.
SALT IN THE WOUND: That was a real nice touch, Fox, putting the picture of a winking Babe Ruth on the screen as the broadcast ended. Might as well have had a still photo of Clemens giving the finger to Boston. Or Byung-Yung Kim, for that matter.
The New York Post, meanwhile, has taken to calling the Sox ace "Punk Pedro," which joins "The Bloviator," "Hot-blooded Hotel Heiress," "Doyenne/Diva of Domesticity," "Techno Titan," and "Portly Prince of Porn" in the pantheon of classic Post nicknames. (Bonus points for anyone who can identify who each one refers to).
Speaking of the Post- in some editions, they actually published the "Yankees lost" editorial! This would be like the President accidentally making a "we lost the war" speech after they loaded the wrong one in the TelePromTer.
"IF THE RED SOX WERE A GIRL, YOU WOULD PROBABLY JUST BREAK UP WITH THEM:" Sports Guy (of course) in rare form, on one of the worst days of his life.
THE NEXT EPISODE: So now that the two teams that have gone a combined 180 years without winning a championship have both been eliminated, we're left with a World Series between… the Yankees, who last won it all three years ago, and the Marlins, who were world champions six years ago but bring back just one (1) player from that 1997 team, Jeff Conine.
It's tempting to root for Florida as the small-market underdog, but keep two things in mind: during the season, and for the last few years, the Marlins have been as well known for their perpetually near-empty stadium as anything else. And there are likely more fans of the Yankees in the state of Florida than there are fans of the Marlins (I haven't seen raw numbers, but I'm waiting for Florida to roll around on Sports Illustrated's "Sports in America" survey for confirmation). Hell, the owner of the Yankees even lives in Florida- while the owner of the Marlins ("art dealer" Jeffrey Loria) lives in New York.
The Yankees will probably the win the Series and championship #27, but don’t count the Marlins out- they also looked considerably inferior to both the Giants and Cubs on paper, and we all know what happened there. There's only one given for this series: very very low TV ratings, undoing the good done work done by probably the best LCS round in baseball history. So at least Commissioner Dickhead will suffer at least a little this postseason.
At any rate, now that the Yanks and Marlins are playing, Don Zimmer can pick on someone his own age- namely, 72-year-old Florida skipper Jack McKeon.
AND NOW FOR SOME SOX-FAN LEVITY: It's Peter Gammons, on Friendster! "Peter" even wrote me a testimonial, comparing me to "Stephen" (actually Stephan) Jenkins of Third Eye Blind and saying we should "jam sometime" with Barry Zito.
SECOND GRADE DEMOCRATS: No, sorry, they're the College Democrats. But it can be hard to tell sometimes…
Ashley Bell, an LSU law student who is the national president of the College Democrats of America, recently penned a borderline-illiterate screed about the current Louisiana governors' race that, in addition to being full of miss-spellings, run-on sentences, and Communist-like capitalizations of "Party," also erroneously referred to Louisiana GOP gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal as "Arab-American," and spoke of "the Republicans token attempt to mend bridges long burnt with the Arab American community."
Problem is, Jindal is in fact an Indian-American. Made aware of this, Bell sent out an apology three days later, which read:
In a recent email describing the Republican Nominee in Louisiana Bobby Jindal, I used what local news has termed Arab American - But in Fact Indian American is the politically correct terminology.
Now despite all the teaching about diversity that universities mandate these days, Mr. Bell is apparently unaware that "Arab" and "Indian" are not only not the same thing, but are also practically mutually exclusive. Not to mention that he thinks his error was not factual but rather politically incorrect- a greater sin in the PC college cosmos, of course. Is he so ignorant that he actually thinks that people from India are Arabs- or that those in the Arab world are Indian? Guess they all "look the same," huh?
This person is the national leader of the College Democrats? He's almost as embarrassing as Terry McAuliffe, the national leader of the real Democrats.
A LITTLE RESPECT: Josh Chavetz at OxBlog has a great post on how people tend to turn into idiots when they argue about politics. Yes, smart people on both sides are capable of having intelligent, reasoned opinions- which may be news to anyone whose idea of grasping the political zeitgeist is watching "Hannity & Colmes."
ESOTERIC WEBSITE OF THE DAY: One of my favorites: it's the Dead People Server! Ever wonder if a specific celebrity is dead or alive? This is the definitive place to look.
Thursday, October 16, 2003 I JUST WANT YOUR EXTRA TIME, AND YOUR… CONVERSION: Prince, who is Formerly Known as an Artist, had an Anne Heche moment the other day, knocking on the door of a family in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, in order to spread the gospel of the Jehovah's Witnesses. The problem? The family was Jewish, and Prince happened to arrive on their doorstep on Yom Kippur.
The bright side? Those rumors of Prince leaving Minnesota seem to have been greatly exaggerated. Then again, do we even want him anymore?
CURSE REVERSAL WATCH: ALCS Game 6: Red Sox 9, Yankees 6 (Series tied, 3-3)
NLCS Game 7: Marlins 9, Cubs 6 (FLA wins series, 4-3)
Magic Number for Red Sox-Cubs World Series: Forever 2
THERE IS NO JOY IN WRIGLEYVILLE: Honestly, I don't remember the last time I was as upset about the outcome of a sporting event that didn't involve a Minnesota team as I was at last night's loss by the Cubs against the Marlins. I mean, the stars were aligned- a 3-1 series lead, and then two home games started by Prior and Wood? And they blow that???
I'm not worried about the Cubs fans- they're used to it, and besides, this story will be off the Chicago radar by Halloween (whereas Boston fans are still crying about the Buckner incident 17 years later). What's horrible is that in this postseason the Cubs have truly become "America's team"- already possessing a fan base as large as any team in the country, the Cubs seemed to have about 90% of America rooting for them to win it all. (I hate to admit it, but the majority of the country really doesn’t care all that much about Yankees-Sox.) This is why Fox put the NLCS in prime time nearly every day that there was a conflict, and why the Fox Sports announcers rooted for the Cubs with the sort of partisan fervor that their cousins in the News division normally reserve for the Republicans.
Then there's the case of Mr. Steve Bartman of Chicago, the gentleman mentioned below who "cost the Cubs Game 6." First of all, no he didn't- the ball he interfered with was the second out, not the third, and he's not the one who gave up all those earned runs. Secondly, how can you not root for a guy named "Bartman"? Brings us back to that old "Simpsons" song "Do the Bartman"- and if Mancow Muller or one of the other Chicago shock jocks doesn’t put out a remix/parody in the next week, I'll be shocked.
But the guy I feel bad for this point is an old friend of mine who I ran into for the first time in about ten years the other week. He's a Chicago native and Cubs fan and his last name is- Bratman. Let's hope he doesn't get confused with Bartman by any angry Superfans.
HE'S SO LUCKY, HE'S A STAR: The New York Post on Wednesday referred to Marlins centerfielder Juan Pierre as "Lucky Pierre." As I'm guessing the author/headline writer is aware, but the editor probably isn't, "Lucky Pierre" has another, rather salacious meaning. Though as the centerfielder, I suppose Pierre technically is "the middle guy in the threesome" of Marlins outfielders.
BOSTON WINS GAME 6 IN NEW YORK: But in the ALCS, Boston kept the chances of at least one curse dying this year, winning Game 6 9-8 in order to force a dream Game 7 that will pit Clemens against Pedro once again tonight at Yankee Stadium. The game was such a huge deal in New York that when the Staten Island Ferry crashed and killed 11 people about an hour before the first pitch, most New Yorkers were too distracted by the series to notice.
But hey, Nomar's out of his slump, and the Sox bullpen is actually doing well for what seems like the first time all year- the Red Sox may just pull this thing out yet. Not to jinx them or anything…
WFAN PREDICTS THE FUTURE: The night of Game 1 of the ALCS, a WFAN host laid out a scenario in which the Red Sox would beat the Yankees, the Marlins would beat the Cubs, and then the Marlins would defeat Boston in the World Series. That way, it's the worst of all possible worlds: the Yankees once again fail to advance, the Red Sox again fail to break the curse, the Cubs again fail to make the Series, the network gets a low-rated matchup, and a team owned by the man who abandoned the Montreal Expos into oblivion gets a championship. Of all the predictions I've heard, that's one of the few that remains a possibility.
Wednesday, October 15, 2003 SAY IT AIN'T SO, TMQ!: A well-known political commentator who's semi-employed by ESPN has made some controversial comments that may be construed as offensive by a certain minority group. Rush Limbaugh? Nope, this time it's Tuesday Morning Quarterback Gregg Easterbrook, who is being accused of anti-Semitism for comments he's made on his New Republic blog.
In the midst of an evisceration of "Kill Bill" and Quentin Tarantino in general, TMQ has this to say:
Set aside what it says about Hollywood that today even Disney thinks what the public needs is ever-more-graphic depictions of killing the innocent as cool amusement. Disney's CEO, Michael Eisner, is Jewish; the chief of Miramax, Harvey Weinstein, is Jewish. Yes, there are plenty of Christian and other Hollywood executives who worship money above all else, promoting for profit the adulation of violence. Does that make it right for Jewish executives to worship money above all else, by promoting for profit the adulation of violence? Recent European history alone ought to cause Jewish executives to experience second thoughts about glorifying the killing of the helpless as a fun lifestyle choice.
Just like with Limbaugh, my judgment is "no" on the anti-Semitism count and "yes" on the charges of being both stupid and completely wrong. But unlike with Limbaugh, who I've never had that much respect for in the first place, Gregg Easterbrook is legitimately a genius, and one with pretty strong grasp on politics, sports, and pop culture, so I can't help but be disappointed that something like this would come from him.
First of all, and maybe it's 'cause he has kids, but Easterbrook seems to be on a "movie violence is always bad" kick, one with which I totally disagree- he could make all the same arguments about "The Godfather" or "The Sopranos" (minus the Holocaust stuff and substituting "Italian" for "Jewish") and would be just as wrong. Secondly, while TMQ doesn't share whether or not he's actually seen the new QT film, but if he did he completely misunderstood it: "Kill Bill" has nothing whatsoever to do with "killing the innocent"- it's a revenge tale, about a women getting back at the people who tried to kill her, put her in a coma, and ended her pregnancy. Cartoonish as the violence in the movie is, it's not "meaningless," and is in fact consistent with a dramatic tradition that goes back at least to Shakespeare.
As for the Jewish charge? Easterbrook here is playing with ancient stereotypes that go back nearly a century but are clearly no longer true- Hollywood hasn't been "run by the Jewish moguls" since multinational conglomerates bought all the studios in the mid-'80s. It's a mystery why he singles out Weinstein and/or Eisner; that every Jew in Hollywood is bound because of the Holocaust to never use violence in any of their movies, I can think of a lot of great movies and a lot of great careers that never would've happened. But then again, the sort of violence in Tarantino's movies is based on that of samurai, kung-fu, gangster, blaxploitation, and other genres- none of which have anything to do with the killing of innocents, and have even less to do with the Holocaust. And the "worship money above all else" part? That's just gratuitous.
Then again, I've heard most of these arguments made against Spielberg for as long as I can remember; is that what Gregg really means?
I sincerely hope that Easterbrook will see the error of his ways and go back to talking about things that he actually knows about, and I really hope ESPN doesn't buckle down from the pressure and fire him from his TMQ gig. But come on Gregg- you're better than this!
AND NOW FOR THE MOST RIDICULOUS O'REILLY QUOTE OF THE DAY: "There's no question the USA is moving toward a secular, quasi-socialistic society based on the western European model." -Bill O'Reilly, in last night's "talking points memo." If Mr. O had spent one minute studying the Bush Administration's economic policies in the last three years, he'd surely know that his statement hasn't been true since Lyndon Johnson was president, and it's probably less true today than at any time in the last 30 years. Seriously, how could anyone look at the last year or so of history and think "American society is becoming more like Europe"?
UPDATE: Apparently, "Not enough Colmes Fans near New York City can make it, so this month's Meetup is cancelled." Too bad. Guess we'll instead have to make do with the Human Straw Man's new book, which includes such chapter titles as "Jesus Was a Liberal," "Bill Clinton: Our Greatest President," and (I swear) "OJ Was Innocent."
SEAN HANNITY, MANEATER: An Amazon review: "It's also curious how little mention there is here of Sean Hannity, Colmes conservative co-host, who so dominates their shared talk show that a Colmes book feels a bit like a John Oates solo album." Hannity & Colmes as Hall & Oates- how did i miss that all these years?
WHO WAS THAT (UN)MASKED MAN?:
We don't know his name yet, but we should by the end of the day- just like with Kobe's accuser, someone who knows him will leak it to the internet sometime this afternoon. Regardless, he's certain to live in Chicago infamy for the rest of his days. But then again, if he'd done the same in New York, he'd likely be dead already.
Oh yea, and the Sox/Cubs magic number is still 3. Possibly permanently.
THE ONION GETS IT WRONG AGAIN: "Who would have thought that a bad Austrian artist who's obsessed with the human physical ideal could assemble such a rabid political following?" -From their goofy "man on the street" feature, about Gov. Schwarzenegger. Because aside from the lack of support for mass murder, ethnic cleansing, concentration camps, book burning, religious oppression, and any sort of physical resemblance whatsoever, Arnold Schwarzenegger is just like Hitler! (Via Jeremy, whose version of the joke was better anyway).
MERKIN-TILE EXCHANGE: Some of you may be familiar with the rather bizarre cultural artifact known as the "merkin." But apparently not everyone is- in research for a story I'm working on I came across a New York performance space with quite an interesting name: the Merkin Concert Hall. Not a lot of performance venues named after stuff that's defined in the Urban Dictionary; what's next, the Cleveland Steamer Theater?
THE RIGHT EMBRACES SODOMY, PART I: The Weekly Standard ran a cover story last week about the Democratic presidential candidates ganging up on frontrunner Howard Dean, giving it this cover:
Yes I know, it's supposed to be a wrestling match motif. But at first glance this illustration makes it look as though Joseph Lieberman is forcing himself upon Howard Dean, while Dick Gephardt holds him down and Wesley Clark watches. I don't know where Kerry is, but I guess he can be thankful he wasn't included.
An innocent mistake? Or a passive-aggressive commentary that the Standard considers Democratic presidential candidates to be on par with wrestlers, if not gay orgy participants? Adding insult to insult, "Howard Dean" looks more like Rush Limbaugh than the "Good" Doctor.
THE RIGHT EMBRACES SODOMY, PART II: The Wall Street Journal op-ed page on Tuesday ran an opinion piece by former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Amir Ibrahim on why "Islam Must Reform, Or Be Left Behind." It's not until the end that we discover Ibrahim is currently incarcerated in Malaysia- on sodomy charges. Now those charges are likely trumped up, but regardless- seems the WSJ has taken the lead from the Supreme Court and adopted a more inclusive attitude towards those who practice such things.
Tuesday, October 14, 2003 I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU FROG AND TIMBERLAKE: Supplying further evidence that Jim Henson's children were stupid enough to either let the Kermit the Frog character fall into the public domain or sell him off without anyone finding out, "Saturday Night Live" this week featured yet another really disturbing bit involving our favorite talking frog that- like Conan O'Brien's "Vomiting Kermit" bit- emanated from 30 Rockefeller Plaza.
Towards the end of yet another middling episode Saturday, SNL ran a sketch that purported to be a duet of "The Rainbow Connection" between Kermit himself and the evening's guest host, Justin Timberlake. It started out as a normal version of the song, that is until Justin stepped on the Frog's "toe," leading to a scuffle between the two in which Kermit's table was knocked over, revealing SNL cast member Will Forte holding the Kermit puppet- which was, I believe, the first time in the 30-odd-year history of the character that Kermit has been "outed" as a puppet.
Then, just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, Forte-in-Kermit's-voice calls the former 'NSyncer a "douchebag," then they make up and finish the song, with Forte-as-Kermit actually singing the line, "the lovers, the douchebags, and me." I was under the impression that Kermit was a children's character- I'm not sure what NBC paid for the rights to perform that sketch, but it better have been a lot.
After the infamous Weezer video and Vomiting Kermit, we've now got the sorry hat trick complete, with Douchebag Kermit. They weren't allowed to do the Snoop Dogg duet, but somehow all three of those things are okay? I think maybe we've got some John Henry Williams types in the Henson family…
CURSE REVERSAL WATCH: ALCS Game 4: Red Sox 3, Yankees 2 (Series tied, 2-2, Game 5 Tuesday 4:00 PM)
NLCS: Idle Monday (CHC leads series 3-2, Game 6 Tuesday 7:00 PM)
Magic Number for Red Sox-Cubs World Series: 3
Red Sox win Game 4 on home runs and the dominant knuckleball (?) of Tim Wakefield; you can always tell whether or not the Yankees or winning or losing by the sounds emanating from local bars, or from the mouths of headphone-clad treadmill runners at the gym.
Speaking of which, David Brooks rules. Applying his "comic sociology" formula to Yanks-Sox, he out-writes Krugman for the fifth Tuesday in a row; at least PK actually goes a whole column without mentioning Dubya for the first time probably since before the war. In Afghanistan, I mean.
Anyway, the result means that regardless of the outcome of Game 5, the series will definitely head back to New York for a Game 6 on Wednesday. And we all know how much the Boston fans love Game 6s in New York!
"THE BODY" LETS HIMSELF GO: I caught the second episode of Jesse Ventura's new MSNBC show last Saturday, and I take back anything I ever said about there being any possibility this show will ever be a hit- it won't. The once-sharp Ventura has devolved into a parody of himself (if, as an ex-wrestler, that were even possible), and is being paid $2 million this year for a show that's clearly being buried- it's on at 7:00 on Saturday night, and even though I watch at least an hour of MSNBC per day, I've never seen a single commercial for it.
Ventura, imitating Bill O'Reilly with the all the hostility but none of the wit, talks about boring issues with boring people, and on last week's show committed the double faux pas of wearing a shirt/jacket combo that featured exposed chest hair (yikes), not to mention that the shirt was a Chicago Cubs jersey. Not only was this a dis to the Twins on the week of their elimination, after Jesse already spent four years blocking their new stadium, but Ventura's show aired just as that day's Cubs playoff game was beginning, all but signaling Ventura's handful of remaining viewers to click over to the game.
The other strange thing about Ventura's show and recent commentaries elsewhere on the network has been his vehement opposition to the California recall, as well as to the candidacy of his old co-star Arnold Schwarzenegger. Now perhaps, as someone who's been a governor who most of the state hates, Arnold identified on some level with Gray Davis. But as a longtime good-government populist, wouldn't the recall be right up his alley? And more importantly, did he and longtime friend Ah-nuld have a falling out at some point that we don't know about? Maybe the Governator got too close to Jesse's wife or daughter or something…
So what's the over-under on Jesse lasting on the network? Are we talking Savage-on-MSNBC short, Limbaugh-on-ESPN short, or Chevy-Chase-on-Fox short?
HEADLINE OF THE YEAR NOMINEE: "BATTERED KERRY IS LEFT A BEATEN MAN" (New York Post, 10/13). It's in reference to Giants QB Kerry Collins, but don't be surprised if you see the same headline, in the same paper, the day after the New Hampshire primary.