Yay! It’s that time of year again. Time to take stock of the year behind us. Time to celebrate the best and brightest our culture and society have had to offer in the most recent calendar year.
Yeah, but fuck that. Here’s 10 things that have to go, in no particular order.
Springsteen is to middle-class white people as Jay-Z is to inner-city black people. He’s the reason the revolution never happened. He is the conduit by which legitimate rage and fear and despair was channeled into T-shirt sales. He is the soothing balm slathered on the guilty consciences of David Brooks and Chris Christie and Barack Obama. He is, as Leon Wieseltier described him in the New Republic, “the least dangerous man in America.” I’m no revolutionary, and I believe that stupid people generally get what they deserve, but bad songs are bad songs. Springsteen didn’t always write bad songs. He started writing bad songs right about the time that goopy Southern drawl appeared in his voice and he started doing that gospel shouting thing from the top of Roy Bittan’s piano. Somewhere between 1988 and 1992. (Some would date Springsteen’s sell-by date to 1984-85, but that doesn’t allow for Tunnel Of Love.)
Anyway, listen to “Racing in the Street.” Then listen to “Shackled and Drawn.” Both are protest songs, of a sort. The first is written and performed by someone recognizable as a real person. The second is written and performed by a well-meaning fathead who clips song ideas from the pages of a copy of Mother Jones on the waiting room table in his therapist’s office. Springsteen is reputed to be a big fan of Elvis Presley. He is said, by those close to him, to have learned much from watching Presley’s decline and fall. He has, to his great credit, never become Elvis Presley. Instead, he’s become Colonel Parker, anthemizing his fans’ grievances and re-packaging them in $75 Super Deluxe Editions.
Hungry Hungry Hippos: The Movie
This is a real thing. Hasbro has entered into a partnership with a film production company called Emmett/Furia to develop Hungry Hungry Hippos into a feature movie, along the lines of Battleship. There was a time in this country when smart people cynically sold stupid things to stupid people. Harry Cohn, Louis B. Mayer, Samuel Goldwyn. Whip-smart, unscrupulous Jews who got their start selling tin-plated utensils and tomato seeds from the backs of wagons. That golden age is over now. Today’s Hollywood executives grew up with GameBoy and Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles and PC caches full of porn jpegs. They’re not selling Hungry Hungry Hippos: The Movie to people because they have nothing but contempt for the hapless consumers who make them rich. They’re selling Hungry Hungry Hippos: The Movie to consumers because they genuinely believe Hungry Hungry Hippos is a good thing. Continue reading →
The holidays are upon us again and we’re abuzz with Yuletide spirit here at the EZED. When December rolls around, we like nothing better than sliding a turkey/stuffing/mashed potato TV dinner into the microwave, popping open a 40-oz bottle of Miller High Life, and warming up the old VCR for a long night of nostalgic seasonal classics. Let’s see what’s in the Christmas queue!
Black Christmas (1974)
Whoa, hey, don’t go in the attic, little Cindy-Lou Who! The original “The calls are coming from inside the house!” movie, predating When A Stranger Calls by five years, Black Christmas makes the most of the fact that a sorority house is a pretty lonely place to be on Christmas Eve. There are plenty of evocative shots of departing revelers, abandoned campus greens, and long empty hallways here, as the approach of the holiday is marked by a deeper and deeper silence. And the ringing of the phone. The weird, unhinged quality of the obscene phone calls is what most people remember (grunts, animal shrieks, taunts, and the sound of a little girl crying), but Margot Kidder’s performance, as she drinks herself silly, makes inappropriate remarks, and stumbles around while her few remaining sorority sisters meet gruesome ends, is fun, too. Avoid the recent remake.
The Ice Harvest
Based on Scott Phillips’ terrific crime noir novel, this one stars John Cusack as a mob lawyer who just can’t seem to get out of town on Christmas Eve with the $2 million he’s embezzled from his cold-blooded clients. The delight here is in watching Charlie Arglist (Cusack) drive around and around snowbound Wichita, Kansas, fucking over and being fucked over by his shady companions. The Ice Harvest also includes one of Yuletide cinema’s most wince-inducing scenes: the one in which Arglist buys gifts for his estranged kids ($1.49 shrink-wrapped plastic junk from a 24-hour bodega) in the small hours of Christmas Day, as part of an ill-conceived plan to gain access to his ex-wife’s house. Oh, and another one: Christmas Eve at Wichita’s most dismal titty bar. Continue reading →
So it turns out that there are two kinds of vampire squids.
There’s the vampire squid that “is wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money,” and there’s the vampire squid that does the same thing while also taunting you with outright lies and insults.
Henry J. Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs and former US Secretary of the Treasury, is the second kind of vampire squid. His Eminence stepped down from the clouds briefly to speak with the the NY Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin about the real cause of our now double-dipping Great Recession. His take?
“Many of the Western democracies — including the U.S. — have a problem that voters want benefits they don’t want to pay for,” Mr. Paulson said.
So this is what it has come to: The NFL now has a plan on the table for an 8-game season. If the current labor impasse lingers through the summer, the plan is to start an 8-game season in mid-November with jury-rigged rosters and unprepared players. Woo-hoo! Are you ready for some football?
Meanwhile, the NFL owners, who instituted the current lockout in an effort to claw back $1 billion or so in revenues off the top of the now-expired Collective Bargaining Agreement with the players, now find themselves in the comical position of suing the players for dissolving their own union, the NFLPA. Continue reading →
A funny thing happened this week in the midst of America’s 10 Year War to Bring Democracy to the Middle East. Inhabitants of an actual Middle Eastern dictatorship took to the streets, yearning to breathe free and all that stuff.
In Egypt, which has been ruled under “Emergency Law” since 1967, no one runs against President Hosni Mubarak, the rule of law is what Mubarak says it is, the Egyptian “parliament” exists to do Mubarak’s bidding, all media is state controlled, and the government has the right to arrest anyone it wishes to, for any period of time, for virtually no reason. Continue reading →
Some day, maybe we’ll all be as smart as the Swiss.
In 2003, four cities made the shortlist with their bids to host the 2010 Winter Olympics. Salzburg, Austria; Bern, Switzerland; Vancouver, British Columbia, and PyeongChang, South Korea. At the last minute, however, Bern pulled out of the bidding when the results of a public referendum revealed that the citizens of Bern were adamantly opposed to hosting the Winter Olympics. Continue reading →
We’re not much for political chatter here at the EZED, but sometimes we have to put on our Voting Hat and make our way to the polls.
The race for the governor’s office in New Jersey has been especially depressing this year, as the two major-party candidates have scarcely shown any interest in going the usual route—deploring ever-rising property taxes and promising to cut the state budget by rooting out “waste” and “greed,” while painting the other guy as a profligate spender. Instead, Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine has been running ads that feature thinly veiled references to his opponent’s obesity, while Republican Chris Christie has countered by stating emphatically that he is, in fact, fat, and that his fondness for doughnuts somehow links him more closely to the Average Joes of New Jersey. Continue reading →