Category Archives: Grotesqueries

Car Chase

I was at the laundromat just now and had the opportunity to watch a live car chase on television. A guy in an SUV (what else?) was driving very scarily around trucks, into cars, into pedestrians (apparently) and across median strips. The driver then flew down small streets in small neighborhoods in Jersey City, New Jersey as a few bright white cop cars followed in tow. My heart pounded while I watched the inanity because I feared for a poor inadvertant kid crossing the street to get a misplaced soccer ball. In truth, I worried that I would be the inadvertant witness to a live death on television.
The whole thing came to a slightly riotous end as one policecar smashed into the tail of the SUV as it slowed and forced the driver into a driveway, whereupon the driver ran and was overrun by a swarm of police. The helicopter that filmed this escapade focused on the maelstrom from above. (I looked for a link but there are no stories posted yet — the chase ended at 5:07 p.m.) Time to go for a walk.


Boy, CBS sure isn’t doing politically well these days, between its so obviously intentional breast revelation and its refusal to air moving ads supported by MoveOn. (I wrote about these ads earlier.) It serves the execs at CBS right, with its refusal to air “The Reagans,” starring James Brolin as the former President, and the company’s terrible programming generally.

The Good and The Bad

Listening to the stunning voice of Beth Gibbons, lead singer of phenom-band Portishead, on her new album called Out of Season, I’m also reading Arianna Huffington’s piece in Salon called America’s Final Wakeup Call.
First, the good. Gibbons, while no longer straining to sound more passionate than she already is, has put together with former Talk Talk (you read that correctly) bassist Paul Webb, aka Rustin Mann. Their album together is alternative rock put to blues with a huge and haunting dose of 1920s-era musical nostalgia and references to a more choral moment. Most impressive are the backing vocals which make a soft heart ache.
Next, the bad. Huffington reviews former CEO of Alcoa’s incredible revelations about the Bush administration in the new book The Price of Loyalty by Ron Suskind. It turns out that you don’t need a progressive voice to note how fanatical Bush, who is again revealed to truly be a Cheney puppet, and his friends are. I actually think I could stomach the book itself.
Is there a relationship between the new album and book? No.


I had the good fortunate of catching the first
The Simple Life
on Fox tonight.
My curiosity about the show focuses on the issue of cynicism and ignorance and I really wonder which of the two parties is framed as the more “ignorant” or “cynical.” The obvious, or intended, option is that Paris and Nicole are born into the privilege of skeptical assurance based on a life of certainty and self-awareness. But it can be easily argued that the family on the farm (whose names I cannot identify right now) were also born into a kind of cynical self-righteousness that’s every bit as silly and dark as that of their guests.
Ignorance knows no class boundaries, but in the end, of course, I wonder if I’m the dupe. The funniest line in the show was when Paris thought that Wal-Mart maybe sold “walls.”


I took my daughter in to get her flu shot today. Apparently she was one of the last people in New York that can get one right now because of what the nurse described as a “kind of panic.” Then I see this article in today’s Times titled How Not to Pick a Flu Vaccine and while I’m reading it, the doctor’s office calls to cancel my appointment for my flu shot tomorrow.
I’m not so aghast as I am disgusted. If there was ever a real need for biological deterrants, wouldn’t influenza, which kills 36,000 people per year even today, be a very clear focus of government and the pharmaceutical industry? What does the Department of Homeland Security and the Centers for Disease Control do for a living?


When I lived in Troy, in upstate New York, I went to the local Wal-Mart often and always felt sleazoid about it, as if I was hurting someone with every “low price” item I chose. I was cognizant that the land that once stood where the ware-box is was once gorgeous farmland. I also knew that the nice, older gentleman who greeted me at the door was a retiree who looked kind of out of place, yet he seemed happy.
The cover story in this month’s Fast Company, called The Wal-Mart You Don’t Know, puts the truth to my uncomfort. While the low prices I admired were quite nice, the economic impact of Wal-Mart’s global pricing strategy is overwhelming. Some stats: almost 10% of all Chinese exports go to Wal-Mart. 12% of the economic gains in the late 1990s “can be traced to Wal-Mart” according to McKinsey. None of this is, in and of itself, terrible. But, in its desire to own world commerce, the company has essentially driven all retail production to factories where labor is hardly an issue to be reckoned with. Moreover, manufacturers like Levi Strauss, one of my favorite brands, is now selling its cheap-o Signature line there, killing its more quality-driven labels, and putting all of its factories across the border. What does all this mean? My guess is that Levi Strauss will be out of business in 5 years. And so will all of its employees, here and abroad. The race to the bottom only goes one way.

The Sprint

Today I received my first email ever from Sprint PCS President Len Lauer that reiterated how happy the company is to have me as a customer. The headline was “Your loyalty is appreciated.” I do appreciate the nicely designed email newsletter that went out to all of its customers today and the facts the email enumerated. They are, for instance, building 1700 new cell towers this year — where I don’t know but probably not in NYC where I live and work.
I also appreciate the fact that they are offering better customer service. And mostly I appreciate that Sprint is the first to line up for my valued loyalty, which on November 24, 2003, will be splintered into a newly traded commodity.


Here is a random series of thoughts that will make sense if I let them:
I just slipped on a small, rubber frog. I bought a new product today called “Miii Milanos” by Pepperidge Farm, but I ended up eating more of them than I would have if I bought regular Milanos. Michael Jackson’s initials are “M.J.” I’m watching the Bachelor choose his wife now; we all know it’s going to be Kelly Jo and that his parents are liars. I had a headache all day today but managed to come up with some really nice designs for a client. My daughter spilled chocolate milk in the bathtub which was kind of beautiful. The rain is coming down hard and they killed another big tree for Rockefeller Center.