Archive for ‘politics’

March 31, 2011

The Charlie Sheen School of Babysitting (for Venture Capitalists and Log Cabin Republicans)

Before you dismiss Charlie Sheen’s idea of living with porn stars who take turns babysitting  the children as entirely tasteless, ponder this.

They see a doctor every month and get lab work that someone else pays for. Sort of like working at Walmart. What’s more wholesome and all American than working for Walmart?

You think Sam Walton and family became the richest in the world because they paid for health benefits and respected women? Winning!

Additionally, if you have infants, the girls don’t mind having strangers spill stuff all over them and they’re really good at cleaning up.

In other news, the first Republican to file for a 2012 presidential run is a gay activist. He says he’s Republican because he favors small government.

An ex-boyfriend says he’s a Republican because he can’t stay out of other people’s bedrooms.

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March 22, 2011

There’s an App for That, Jolene?

Apple has again come under fire for approving an iPhone app that promises to cure homosexuality.

Yes, you read that correctly.

By the time you read this, Apple will have probably come to its senses and removed the idiotic app from the iTunes store.

If there really is a  market for apps on human sexuality, and there is, I would suggest that this would be a great time for The Kinsey Institute to issue an app of the Kinsey Scale.

The research has been around since 1948, for God’s sake. I think it’s about time it moves into the 21st century with its own app.

Until that happens, perhaps everyone should take a listen to The White Stripes essential cover of the Dolly Parton classic “Jolene.”

Why? Because  hearing Jack White beseech in his trademark wail “Jolene, Jolene I’m begging of you please don’t take my man” will give you the essence of Kinsey’s work: how complicated and multidimensional human sexuality really is.

And there ain’t no cure for that.

Related post: There’s an App for That, Maggie!

March 14, 2011

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann to visit Chinatown

Michele Bachmann (R-MN) to visit Chinatown.  Will announce US support efforts for tsunami victims.

Will urge all Americans to  stand strong with the people of  our WWII ally. To cite importance of tea trade on the Founding Fathers and the role of  Hiroshima in the development of renewable energy.

March 5, 2011

Lady Gaga wears Haider Ackermann on the cover of Vogue (Rachel Zoe wears out her welcome at the Academy Awards)


Yes, the backroom deals in the world of high fashion make trading derivatives on Wall Street look like a silly game for the eTrade baby. Let me explain.

Haider Ackermann is the best designer you’ve probably never heard of. He’s the Colombian born, Belgian trained designer that Karl Lagerfeld favors to take over at  the helm of Chanel. Tilda Swinton has already made a splash on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival in his clothes. He is most certainly  on the very short list of designers to replace John Galliano at Dior.   Speculation will surely be running rampant today at the  showing of his Fall 2011 collection in Paris.

One of the most astounding missteps made by Rachel Zoe at the Academy Awards –apart from arranging the  gluttonous onstage costume changes–  was excluding Haider from her repetoire of gowns for Anne Hathaway. Ackermann is where fashion is headed and it would have said a lot for Ms. Zoe to be ahead of the curve. And ahead of the curve is where she sorely needs to be as it was recently documented that Ms. Zoe copied a dress she styled for Teen Vogue a few years back and passed it off as her own in her  laughably derivative debut runway collection. (All hail the next Tory Burch!)

So who needed to see the tiresome Oscar de la Renta (Raf Simons rip off) dress? The retro Vivienne Westwood ? The mothballed “archival” Valentino? The obligatory Tom Ford?

Not I.

Given that  Cartier paid Ms. Hathaway $750,000 dollars to wear its jewelry at the Academy Awards this year, you’d think she could afford to pay Ms. Zoe to do her homework.

At this point you have to feel a bit sorry for James Franco. Did he at least get a free “I’m with shady” t shirt for his hosting duties? Now at least we have a plausible explanation as to why Ms. Hathaway was over the moon onstage while Mr. Franco was under a rock.

Then again, perhaps it is Gwyneth Paltrow who should be complaining the loudest, not I. Louis Vuitton only paid her  $500,000 to wear its earrings and broach  on the red carpet. (Unfortunately, it occurred to no one to pay her not to sing.)  So the next time Tim Gunn interviews Valentino with Ms. Hathaway on the red carpet he can stop pretending he doesn’t know what “archival” means (DUDE, who are you kidding? Were you on the faculty at Parsons or at Carson’s?) and start asking “who are you wearing and how much were you paid?”

Kind of makes  one want to gag, right?

At any rate, it is thrilling to finally see (the all too often exurb oriented cover of American) Vogue make me go gaga.


Click here to see the entire  Spring  2011 Haider Ackermann on Style.com

March 4, 2011

“The Disposable Woman” by Anna Holmes

“Gold diggers,” “prostitutes” and “sluts” are just some of the epithets lobbed at the women Mr. Sheen has chosen to spend his time with. Andy Cohen, a senior executive at Bravo and a TV star in his own right, referred to the actor’s current companions, Natalie Kenly and Bree Olson, as “whores” on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program on Tuesday. Arianna Huffington sarcastically tweeted that Mr. Sheen’s girlfriends “symbolize modesty, loyalty and good taste.” Mr. Sheen’s own nickname for Ms. Kenly and Ms. Olson — “the goddesses” — is in its own way indicative of their perceived interchangeability and disposability.

It’s these sorts of explicit and implicit value judgments that underscore our contempt for women who are assumed to be trading on their sexuality. A woman’s active embrace of the fame monster or participation in the sex industry, we seem to say, means that she compromises her right not to be assaulted, let alone humiliated, insulted or degraded; it’s part of the deal. The promise of a modern Cinderella ending — attention, fame, the love and savings account of a rich man — is always the assumed goal.

Read the entire essay in the New York Times here.

February 26, 2011

The Sociology of Fame: Concealing and Revealing (or Thus Spoke Gaga)

In a 2007 interview with GQ magazine  to promote “The Bourne Ultimatum,” Matt Damon came clean about why he’s such a notoriously difficult interview subject, as far as his personal life is concerned.

“The better the actor, the less you know about his life. I mean, nobody’s better than De Niro, and you don’t know anything about him, right? Look at Meryl. We don’t know sh*t about Meryl. Look at Clint. And Jack. And Brando. Marlon Brando—who f*ing knows, right?”

That certainly explains why  at the peak of her fame Sharon Stone was  incessantly forthcoming.

On a fundamental level, as an artist, you want the quality of your work to speak for  itself but in the tabloid culture we live in there is constant demand for personal details. Some entertainers know how to conceal themselves despite that demand while others mete out  revelatory dribs and drabs as it suits their career arc or affects their their bank account. (A few years ago, during the press junket to launch her new talk show, Jane Pauley revealed she was bipolar. Recently, Tyler Perry revealed on “Oprah” that he had been molested as a child while promoting his latest film “For Colored Girls.” Senator Scott Brown reveals similar abuse in his new book, timed to coincide with his re election campaign.)

Still  others openly court that demand. We are now witnessing the advent of  “reality stardom”, in which  the otherwise talentless  (housewives, baby mamas, Kardashians, New Jersey hooligans, et al) become famous precisely for divulging every sordid pathological detail of their private lives.

If you’re interested in managing your image, it’s essential that you understand in which one of the three paradigms you operate.

That of course assumes that only those paradigms I’ve outlines are the only ones which exist. Might there be more? In a recent interview with “60 Minutes” Lady Gaga details to Anderson Cooper her personal image paradigm:

“As part of my mastering the Art of fame, part of it is getting people to pay attention to what you want them to pay attention to and not pay attention to what you don’t want them to pay attention to–the Sociology of fame: how to maintain a certain privacy without feeling like you are withholding anything from your fans.

My philosophy is that if I am open [with my fans] about everything yet art direct every moment of my life, I can maintain a certain form of privacy–in a way I maintain a certain soulfulness that I have yet to give.”

In other words, art is not an end product separate from the artist’s personal life. Art is a means by which one  manipulates the balancing act between revealing and concealing.

She says her music is about “self empowerment and self acceptance”  though she admits the creation of Lady Gaga in all her guises came about because she felt disconnected and disenfranchised  and bullied as Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta.

Lady Gaga, as she presents herself, teeters between being the product of the warm and fuzzy philosophy of  “Oprah” and the cold calculation of Nietzsche, though from the outside looking in, the scales tip heavily toward Nietzsche.

While there is an element of sexuality to Gaga, it’s by no means conventional or even appealing. (She’s often referred to by men as “butterface”–as in everything about her is desirable but her face.) Sexuality is unmistakably present and potent in her work but it is  also fraught with danger, usually mixed up in some trajectory of birth and death. Most recently, she arrived at the Grammys in a Hussein Chalayan plexiglass egg from which she later emerged on stage dressed in Mugler to sing “Born this way.” Later in the week she appeared dressed as a condom on “Good Morning America” to promote AIDS awareness.

Credit: Jason Merrit/Getty Images

Unlike Madonna, who used her sexuality to manipulate the male gaze on her way to superstardom, Gaga’s interest is in mining our cultural interest in the “decay of the superstar. Isn’t that the age that we live in that we want to see people who have it all lose it all? It’s dramatic. It’s a movie.” Madonna’s ability to reinvent herself was a  patent career move, whereas Gaga’s creation is at once both more revelatory and more disturbing as it depends on the abandonment of Stephani–a career move perhaps but one with a decidedly psychiatric component–or a healthy dose of poker face deception.

Her fame, deception and all, can be seen as the revenge of the nerd (Stefani), something she shares in common  with the other world famous 20something seeking to empower everyone, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, as portrayed in “The Social Network.”

The reality of course is that most of us don’t have the luxury of art directing our lives, certainly in the extreme way Gaga does it.

But there are lessons to be learned here and it would seem that Michelle Obama has done just that. The First Lady is widely lauded for her sense of personal style. Most people are blithely unaware of the amount of time, money and human resources that go into creating and maintaining that image.

The First Lady’s image is as art directed  as Gaga’s. Her sense of style, as it has evolved with the expert oversight of the luxury retailer Ikram Goldberg, consists mainly of pieces of clothing which individually cost more than most people’s mortgage. Yet the First Lady’s style is in no way seen in  to be  extravagant. As a matter of fact, most women will tell you that her style is eminently approachable and affordable. How does this happen?

When Mrs. Obama dresses specifically for  mass media appearances–talk shows, magazine covers–she is always careful to wear an outfit that the masses can easily find and afford. Best leave the couture for events which get far less attention. It’s a strategy which started with her appearance on “The View”  before the election in a White House Black Market dress, and continued with various J Crew ensembles for other talk shows. As First Lady she donned a $395 Tracy Reese dress for the cover of People magazine and just a few weeks back, clearly mindful of the sad economic times, donned a dress from H+M on “The Today Show.” (The way she accessorized the dress, however, made it  painfully clear that Ms. Goldberg is no longer officially involved in styling Mrs. Obama.)

Of course, the studied choice and the complicit PR machine from both the White House and H+M meant that the dress sold out in a matter of hours.

The more  important takeaway from this story is that  every woman who bought that dress ($34.95) felt that she had just acquired the exact style of Michelle Obama (priceless).

Watch the entire “60 Minutes”  Lady Gaga interview HERE.

Lady Gaga appears in concert at the United Center February 28.

February 24, 2011

Born this way? Get thee to a cosmetic surgeon.

Ethnic Differences Emerge in Plastic Surgery

Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times

“When a patient comes in from a certain ethnic background and of a certain age, we know what they’re going to be looking for,” said Dr. Kaveh Alizadeh, the president of Long Island Plastic Surgical Group, which has three clinics in the city. “We are sort of amateur sociologists.”

Read the entire article here.

February 22, 2011

Congressman:Turn Off The Dark (or What a Wicked Web We Weave)


Note to the producers of Spider-man: Turn Off The Dark

How disheartening it must be for you to have put on a $65 million dollar musical and have the critics universally trash it. “As directed by Julie Taymor, who wrote the show’s book with Glen Berger, and featuring songs by U2’s Bono and the Edge, “Spider-Man” is not only the most expensive musical ever to hit Broadway; it may also rank among the worst,” wrote Ben Brantley.

I mean, the people responsible for the film versions managed to turn them into one of the most lucrative movie franchises of all time, but you came up with something which Peter Marks of  The Washington Post noted:

“The 8-year-old boys in the audience might be able to key on the Cirque du Soleil-style stunts on wires and video-game graphic elements, and probably not worry too much that Spider-Man is a tangle of disjointed concepts, scenes and musical sequences that suggests its more appropriate home would be off a highway in Orlando. Come to think of it, the optimal audience might be non-English-speaking.” 

It must also be disheartening to learn that for all the similar pre-production skepticism that accompanied  the premiere of “Anna Nicole”–yes, as in tabloid trainwreck Smith–  in London, “it proved a weirdly inspired work, an engrossing, outrageous, entertaining and, ultimately, deeply moving new opera,”  according to Anthony Tommasini in The New York Times. “This was an improbable triumph for Covent Garden.”

Clearly you need some help and I’m here to help. Scrap the incoherent everything and start from scratch. I propose to you:

CONGRESSMAN

Turn Off The Dark

It’s the story of New York congressman Chris Lee, a 46 year old married father( pictured, left)  and his  web alter ego lobbyist Chris Lee, a divorced  and buff 39 year old (pictured, right).

Lobbyist Chris fights his arch nemesis unprepossesing, mendacity prone CL Man by sending shirtless photos of himself to a woman  on Craigslist who implores in song: “Will someone prove to me not all CL men look like toads?”

By day congressman Chris is a family man and one of the 50 richest members of Congress. The lobbyist Chris fancies himself a “fit, fun and classy guy” who promises “not to disappoint.”  By night lobbyist Chris battles CL Man who frustrates his mission to meet only  the hot gullible women without access to Google  and who populate the  “women seeking men” ads on the web.  Cue the production number  “She was not as advertised,”  a lament in which lobbyist Chris details the pain caused him by dishonest damsels who got caught in his web.

Meanwhile, in a flashback sequence, congressman Chris, on the campaign trail, lectures teenagers against the dangers of using the web and social media inappropriately: “responding to what may seem like a friendly e-mail or an appealing marketing offer can have serious consequences. Private information and images can so easily be transmitted to friends and strangers alike.”

It turns out to be prescient advice. Cue the dancing algorithms which fly atop the audience in high tech harnesses.

Clearly, at the heart of the story is the  how  this man–and by implication all of us– can use social media to create  any number of new realities, the search for the meaning of it all– or just a cheap thrill–  just an engine search away. What is identity, authenticity and privacy in the vast darkness of the new frontier of the web?

The production will also feature the Queen of reality television Kim Kardashian, about whom Lynn Hirschberg has written “can’t sing, act, or dance but she’s found the role of a lifetime playing herself.” (Tony nomination anyone?)

Ms. Kardashian will appear in a parallel storyline in which she plays a vixen who  continuously complains that she doesn’t want to be famous for taking off her clothes but just can’t stop herself from doing exactly that at every opportunity. Her character will be known as “The Lying Queen.”

And since you still don’t have a showstopping number to end the show, no need to further humiliate Bono and The Edge to come up with yet another listless one. They’ve already written the perfect song long ago. It begins:

I have climbed highest mountains
I have run through the fields
Only to be with you
Only to be with you
I have run
I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls
These city walls
Only to be with you

But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for
But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

January 21, 2011

Guess Hu’s Coming to Dinner

Alexander McQueen gown from Resort 2011 Collection. Image from Style.com

In case you missed it, see the version custom made for Mrs. Obama here.

March 28, 2010

Cialis in Wonderland

I had plenty of time to contemplate the change because the doctor was running an hour behind schedule.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the  walls of the waiting room were no longer painted an antisceptic grey. They were now a calming warm sandy neutral.

It may be the case that it  seemed like an aesthetic improvement to my eye, simply because  I was there out of concern for my blood pressure, about which, to jump ahead, I had good reason to be concerned.

The walls of the examination room into which the nurse escorted me were also newly painted.  Oh, and look, the wallpaper border, finally, had been  mercifully removed. The changes were calming and welcome, no doubt about it. I was feeling a wee bit better already, despite the wait.

That feeling didn’t last long.

After the nurse made some small talk, took my vitals and left me to wait some more, it was hard not to miss the other change in my doctor’s office since my long overdue visit. The paper that covers the examination table was now covered with the Cialis logo.

“Cialis,” yes, the magic little orange pill that, as the extensive pamphlet on the desk next to the chair in which I was sitting put it, “is indicated for the treatment of erectile dysfunction.”

One pill, “36 hour Cialis is the only ED tablet that’s clinically proven to both work fast, in as little as 30 minutes for some men, and work up to 36 hours.”

The other pill, “Cialis for daily use is clinically, proven low-dose tablet for ED you take every day so you can be ready anytime the moment is right.”

No pressure, guy trapped in examining room alone with reading material. And try not to think of your high blood pressure which, you soon will be told,  is most likely caused by your stressful family life– which in turn might leave little time or desire to “anticipate sexual activity.”

I’m almost sure there was no music being piped overhead but I’m quite sure I had   the urge to sing along with ” target=”_self”>Toby Keith:
I ain’t as good as I once was
I got a few years on me now
But there was a time, back in my prime
When I could really lay it down
And if you need some love tonight
Then I might have just enough
I ain’t as good as I once was
But I’m as good once as I ever was

My doctor’s office, I thought, would be a reasonable place to expect that nothing, let alone my masculinity, would be marketed to me. But there it was staring me in the face: Madison Avenue and Wall Street  pre-emptively looking out for the little big man’s exile on Main Street.

I certainly didn’t need a visit to the doctor’s office to be reminded that advertisers,  have uncovered the sudden dereliction of  American masculinity and have quite benevolently made it their mission to help restore it.

It’s their gift–with purchase, of course–to me and to men anywhere near a television, computer or magazine.

Apparently, the ladies think I  stink at being a man. “Smell like a man, man,” warns Old Spice. “Anything is possible when your man smells like a man and not like a lady.”

Old Spice advertisement
– Watch more Videos at Vodpod.

And I don’t even know what it takes to be  a man, anyway. “Wash like a man, feel like man,” promises Gillette with it’s “Odor Shield” shower gel.

I don’t dress like one. “Wear the pants,” insists Dockers.

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I kowtow for money and romance. I don’t stand up for myself. No matter, though. I am what I drive. Dodge Charger is “Man’s last stand.”

And if all else fails, Calvin Klein X underwear assures me I can prove to you that I’m a man. Wanna see?

Mark your spot and  dummy up.

“Smart may have the brains, but stupid has the balls. Be stupid,” advises the current Diesel campaign ad.

Who knew I was too smart for my own good? That’s probably why my blood pressure is high.

This downward economy  has disproportionately affected male workers. We now have  an educational system where girls  get the best grades and most of the college degrees. And we live in a culture where it’s not unusual that dad may likely stay home with the kids while mom is the primary breadwinner.

Madison Avenue is betting that my masculinity is vulnerably bluefaced and fair game for the bottom line. “I see you,” it tells me not so naively.  Hop aboard  sexism and homophobia. This is a whole new world.

Which brings me back to Cialis and to the pamphlet which, as you might imagine, now has me by the balls.

“In the rare event of an erection lasting more than 4 hours, seek immediate medical attention to avoid long-term injury.” Well, I probably wont be able to afford to see the doctor again, what with all the new purchases I have to make to be a real man.

I’ll just think of Liz Cheney. That should take care of the problem immediately.

“The most common side effects with Cialis were headaches and upset stomach.” Good to know that.  Suppose I ignored the warning  to “not drink alcohol in excess” and suddenly found myself on top of Glenn Beck.

Good to know that the cause of head spinning nausea might not be entirely his fault.