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Archives: November 2005

LAT in 90 seconds

- How to get an interview with Paris Hilton.

- Hypercompetitors: rhymes with ‘superpredators‘, thus paving the way for a hip-hop song about possibly-imagined social ills.

- Speaking of hip-hop: it’s getting more political.

- Speaking of politics: MORE voter initiatives? I love California.

Paper comes to LA

If you’ve never read Paper, the NYC lifestyle/culture magazine, imagine Vanity Fair if it had no actual feature content and was targeted only to people who live below 14th Street in Manhattan. Scared yet? Well, Paper is coming to Los Angeles to produce a special issue on the ‘Tribes of LA’ and throw lots of parties. Reports WWD:

Kim Hastreiter, who shares the title editor and publisher of Paper with partner David Hershkovitz, said the idea grew out of the magazine’s five-year-old Paper Project series, started as an antidote to the sameness of New York Fashion Week. Extending the series to Los Angeles was a natural idea, she said, not just because of the city’s influence on American and global culture, but because, in her view, L.A. needs Paper. “People don’t really mix together in L.A. as they do in New York,” she said. “I guess it’s the car culture. People tend to be ghettoized. The surfers don’t hang out with the fashion people, and the hip-hop people don’t hang out with the gays. So whenever we go out there, we like to mix it up.”

I’ve read Paper and from what I can tell, the magazine’s idea of ‘mixing it up’ is running party photos of 28-year-old trust-funded Bennington grads drinking with trust-funded 31-year-old Vassar grads. Looking forward to the LA events.

Dennis Kucinich: Save Scheer

Newspaper editorial pages make suggestions about policy-making all the time. So I guess it’s fair play when policy-makers make suggestions to newspapers about how to run their editorial pages. But it still gives me a slightly creepy feeling. Case in point, Congressman / 2004 Democratic presidential primary candidate Dennis Kucinich has Huffington-posted an open letter to LAT publisher Jeffrey Johnson, urging him to reconsider the dismissal of Robert Scheer. It’s signed not only by Kucinich but by twenty-three other Democratic house members, including several Californians. Text apres le jump.

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“Wot’s the matter with being sexy?”: More New Yorker Number-Crunching

My Sexist New Yorker.pngRuth Davis Konigsberg, you’ve got company: the ladies at Miss Grace’s Salon are giving the kids from Math Club a run for their money and crunching New Yorker bylines somethin’ fierce. The result? Grace founder and author Elizabeth Merrick counted up all the New Yorker articles in 2004 (702) and logged how many of them were written by women (147), or 21%. See pretty chart above. Merrick does note, happily, that the fiction odds have vastly improved since editor Deborah Treisman has come aboard: a whopping 43% of fiction authors were women in 2004.

A quick peek at today’s New Yorker reveals similar stats: a big feature by Margaret Talbot and a TOTT by Scooter Libby literary expert Lauren Collins, a poem by Elizabeth Bishop and – yay! – fiction by Canadian Alice Munro; 4 out of 21. Otherwise it’s all Hershy and Hertzbergish, Paumgartenesque, Denby-riffic and McGrath-tastic. Which of course are all wonderful things, but the mag might just McCall for a few more chicks, especially those who are so skilled in elegant wordplay. I’m just sayin’.

Remedial Math [Miss Grace's Salon]

Pitch it, ladies, your time has come! [FishbowlNY]

New York taps into the Zeitgeist

poster.jpgThis week’s New York magazine is sure to turn a lot of heads, with a breathless cover profile of alleged Hallowe’en rapist Peter Braunstein and an in-depth piece trumpeting the current network “anchor wars” (not to be confused with the “morning show wars” cover story of June 6, 2005). Both are hot topics: Braunstein has been at large for almost a month, leading to all sorts of shrill headlines across the covers of the Post and the News, and Vanessa Grigoriadis‘s cover piece capitalizes on that (right down to adopting the “fire fiend” moniker from the NYP), purporting to enter Braunstein’s head as he watched his eventual victim stride around the office in manolos, taunting him with her cool unattainability, his mind spinning a million fantasies, plotting, planning… I have no idea if things unfolded that way in the W Mag offices or in Braunstein’s head, which means neither can Grigoriadis, who is going off basically the same information that has been emerging over the past month, plus many, many adjectives. It’s one way to approach it, the fictionalized, hypothesized fill-in-the-blanks version (“It was the shoes that always got him,” and “He had a crippling insecurity and an enormous sense of his own intellect, and was possessed of a desire to court the most powerful New York women and an equal, and then overwhelming, need to destroy them”) — but in truth I’d be more interested to read a profile that says “this is what we know, and why” than “this is what we know, plus all sorts of stuff that we’re imagining.” There’s obvious work behind the piece, and the story is compelling on its own merit; Adam Moss, we doubt David Remnick would ever feel the need to tart it up with starry-eyed homage to “Fashion Girls.” We’re just sayin’.

The “anchor wars” piece by David Blum-not-Frum takes a thorough look at the players jockeying for position in the shifting new network world order, sifting through the rumors (Katie Couric thinking of taking over at CBS? Charles Gibson being held back from World News Tonight for the sake of Diane Sawyer‘s morning ambitions?). It’s a juicy, newsy romp (and gives us an extra reason to mull over Bob Woodruff‘s lunch with Susan Zarinsky at Michael’s last Wednesday, hmmm?), though he cites the reason that Anderson Cooper‘s “having it rough” lately is that he’s down to “only three or four fawning media profiles a week” as opposed to slipping ratings. Either way, it’s rife with the rumor and speculation that has made anchor-watching the sport of the past year as Rather, Brokaw, Jennings and Koppel have left the anchor chair. Niggling point: we reported that Walter Cronkite was married back on Tuesday, Nov. 15, but Blum’s piece says they’re dating. Come on, New York, don’t forget to read your Fishbowl!

Extra Zeitgeist-tapping bonus points: The happy intersection of showtunes and Canada in the article on bonuses at Goldman Sachs, written by Canadian Duff McDonald with the following headline: “Please Sir, I Want Some More.” Yes, sticklers, we know Dickens didn’t imagine it to music, but still.

The Fire Fiend and the Fashion Girls [New York]
Anchor Roulette [New York]

p.s. “I want our magazine covers to be posters.” Ew. Hopefully not this one, you don’t.

Thanksgiving Round-Up: What You Missed While You Were In A Four-Day Food Coma

  • We tend to give Rebecca Traister a lot of credit…but this time we think she’s giving Jennifer Aniston a little too much. [Salon]
  • Drudge oughta read TVNewser, take two: Last week we noted that our cathode-ray-addled brother at TVNewser had beaten Drugde on the “CNN X’s out Dick Cheney” story; this week we note the same as Drudge posts Thursday’s TVNewser news today. News you can use, all right!
  • Er, we don’t even know what to say about this. Except that you totally want Canada on your side during an intergalactic war. [Yahoo! News]
  • And if you believe that, I’ve got a bridge in Brookl– er, never mind. What next? Swampland in Florida? Nigerian bank account? TimesSelect? [NYT]
  • “Does it matter that David Ludwig — the 18-year-old alleged killer of his 14-year-old girlfriend’s parents — was a huge fan of hardcore Christian rock?” That question was posed by Daniel Radosh in Salon, but the real question seems to be “does understanding Christian rock matter?” and the answer seems to be “yes.” Radosh leaves the question of Ludwig’s fandom up in the air on Salon, but addresses it on his own blog: “I’ll be interested to see how the media studiously avoids trying to make any connection between Ludwig’s pathology and his “obsession” with Pillar and Audio Adrenaline. Not that I think there is one. I’m sure there isn’t. But imagine if his passions were Grand Theft Auto and Green Day. James Dobson would be issuing a press release as we speak.” O Creed, look what you hath wrought. [, Salon]
  • They say that I have the best ass below 14th street, dammit! Slate runs a boldly-headlined interview with Sarah Schulman, aka “The lesbian writer Rent ripped off.” The interview then goes on to not at all indicate how this was achieved, nor gives the reader any proof that the assertion is anything more than an allegation (and “hey, it’s right there in the book” doesn’t cut it). I read the article three times trying to figure out exactly what her specific beef was with Rent; I couldn’t. Fishbowl would be happy to consider that Rent is the “epitome” of the “massive misrepresentation” of “AIDS, gay people, and urban gentrification in mainstream entertainment and media” if only Schulman — or Slate — would actually explain how. Bring it on, folks. No day like today. [Slate]

    Disclaimer: I’m a huge fan of Rent. I am also a huge fan of specifics.

  • Lunch at Michael’s: “There Are No Specials Today” Edition

    Sorry we’re two days late on your weekly Michael’s fix, but the anticipation just makes it sweeter. Besides, the Wednesday before the most-travellingest day of the year does not for a booming lunch business make; indeed, Michael’s had a lonely, muted feel Wednesday in a half-empty room; even Michael Wolff could have gotten a table. They were clearly not gunning for a huge crowd, either; our waiter opened with a greeting followed by the blunt “There are no specials today.” Okay, then. Nonetheless, there were still some media luminaries to be seen (and all sorts of look-alikes, which kind of counts), plus pithy commentary on what people were wearing and eating, or what kind of famous people they kind of looked like.

    Vamanos, muchachas! Let the parade of Cobb Salads begin.

    Table 1: Crack photojournalist Harry Benson of Vanity Fair, Life, and about a zillion other places – check out some of his amazing photos from all over the world (and, indeed, modern history) here. Beatles, Reagans, Kennedys, Astaires, Clintons and John Wayne Bobbit (yes, that guy). Also: Diane Sawyer with long hair here, sporting a positively Katie Couric-like grin.

    Table 11: Snowy-bearded Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, who we can safely assume will not be shopping today.

    Table 12: A very attractive man who I instantly recognized as someone who had to be on network news. Straight out of central casting. Turned out he’s just that: Bob Woodruff of ABC news, anchor of “World News Tonight Saturday.” He was with Susan Zarinsky, who I believe is still with CBS and on whom the Holly Hunter character in “Broadcast News” was based (but presumably not the Holly Hunter character in “The Piano”).

    Table 18: Liz Smith, beaming as she walked into the restaurant, looking suntanned, perfectly-coiffed and resplendent in an orange blazer with just a hint of coral. She dined with a man who looked like James Cromwell (Ruth’s husband on “Six Feet Under,” inter alia) and a blonde woman who we couldn’t really see. Didn’t catch their order but for dessert Liz had some sort of yummy-looking chocolate cake-type thing and her companions each had mango sorbet. Forgot to check if they ate their rolls.

    Table 17: Men’s Health editor David Zinczenko with MH spinoff Best Life editor Stephen Perrine (and not, for a change, with former Men’s Journal EIC Michael Caruso). Zinczenko had the abs-friendly salmon, but we were heartened to see him raise a cookie to us in greeting. Aw. Even the abs need a treat now and again.

    Table 6: The look-alike table to end all look-alike tables. Dead ringer for Fred Willard (“wha’ happened?“), with a man who certain diners who shall remain nameless suggested was “a young Stanley Bing” and a woman in a black beret who actually kind of looked like the woman in the beret hanging on the wall by Table 4 (not an actual woman).

    Table 15: Our table! Fishbowl had the pleasure of dining as the guest of Table 15 habitu&#233 David Hirshey of HarperCollins/soccer-scoring fame, plus ESPN Books editor Michael Solomon, who both looked dashing in tweedy blazers, plus me, Rachel Sklar. Hirshey and I each had the Cobb Salad, and I was a little devastated to see that they’d changed it – what happened to the creamy mix of deliciousness featuring big chunks of egg white? (Note: egg white is abs-friendly). This concoction was leafier and less pleasing to Fisbhowl’s refined palate. Michael, if you’re reading this, please revert. Thanks. Luckily, Solomon ordered a chicken dish accompanied by fries, and he let us eat off his plate. For dessert we enjoyed some Proust-friendly madeleines. Stephen Perrine, please don’t be mad at us.

    Additional sightings: Apparently Ron Perleman was there at some point, but we missed him.

    More random look-alikes: A cheerfully-smiling blonde woman in a purply woolen blazer who closely resembled Meredith Baxter Birney of “Family Ties”; a silver-haired man striding out from the back room whom we thought for a moment might be Anderson Cooper. The hair wasn’t silver enough though.

    On the way out we looked at pictures of Loreal‘s adorable new baby Sophia, who is as cute a lil’ Thanksgiving pumpkin as anything. Upshot: Babies are cute, madeleines are delicious, and Cobb salads are best left alone. See you next week!

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    Supply your own “heck of a job” punchline

    We’re in the middle of prepping “Lunch at Michael’s” but in the meantime, a little Thanksgiving irony for you: FEMA’s Michael Brown is starting a consulting firm on disaster preparedness.

    Here’s the part that almost makes you feel for him a little: “My wife, children and my grandchild still love me. My parents are still proud of me.” Until you remember this: “Restaurants are getting busy…we need time to eat in leisure, dammit!” and “Sir, you might want to try rolling up your sleeves to so it looks like you’re actually working” and “Can I quit now?” Then, you know, there’s not much sympathy.

    Brown to start emergency planning consulting business [CNN]

    It’s The Most Shoppingest Day Of The Year!

    Today is “Black Friday,” the cheerfully-monikered kickoff to the holiday shopping seasons and, retailers hope, the biggest shopping day of the year. Or not. Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and enjoy the day whether you’re bargain-hunting or boycotting!

    Also, in unrelated news pertaining to blog synchronicity, “The Golden Girls” DVD set is featured in the linked Daily News article, apropos of nothing actually in the article. A sign – Bea Arthur really is all-powerful!

    Big bargains for shoppers [NYDN]
    “Buy Nothing” Day [Wired]

    French: WRONG!!!!!*

    Zell Miller, Right.jpgThis was almost my new favorite parody until I realized that it wasn’t a parody: an honest-to-goodness song called “Bush Was Right” all about celebrating the vindicated wisdom of the Commander-in-Chief.

    It’s by a very earnest, very right-wing duo out of Nashville, “The Right Brothers” (clever, right?) and apparently they’re campaigning to get the video on TRL. It’s done in a We-Didn’t Start-The-Fire sort of way (which we obviously can appreciate) with a bridge that really would have been worthy of top satirists…again, if only it actually were a parody. Ah well. Accidental genius still kind of counts.

    Here’s a little sample to crack you up — and it should, regardless of your stripes — and here’s Keith Olbermann‘s take on a possible video, courtesy of Crooks & Liars. This, by the way, is not new news (&#224 la stove-top stuffing) but is nonetheless worthy of sharing. Give a listen. You can’t be working all that hard today.

    *Zell Miller: Right.