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August 2005 Archives

August 31, 2005

Baghdad Trampling

It's hard for many of us to imagine how a crowd could become so out of control that it could trample over 800 people, or what such an enormous crowd even looks like.

This photo of the shoes and other debris littering the street after the crowd was dispersed and the bodies were cleared this morning adds some perspective.

Baghdad street after trampling

That such a large-scale horror happened over rumors that there was a suicide bomber in the crowd also demonstrates how insecure Iraqis still feel on their own streets.

Robot-on-the-Spot: Kool Keith/Ultramagnetic MC's Reunion

Last night, Amy and I endured an incredibly long wait and some terrible opening acts and witnessed something neither of us thought we would live to see: the live, on-stage reunion of Kool Keith and his Ultramagnetic ex-cohorts, most notably Ced Gee. Can you even believe it.

Sure they only did about six songs (about one song per hour of waiting, it turned out), and the old-school C-list all-stars that crowded on stage with them obscured some of the best views, but it was clear that Keith was happy to be back performing in New York, even if the small crowd wasn't exactly hopping and he didn't always seem to notice that Ced was up there with him.

Keith's on-stage banter was easily as entertaining as his musical performance, and if you've ever wondered if he's as crazy -- like, clinically -- as people always say he is, his disjointed and sporadic but somehow peppy rambling left no doubt. You never had a sense of what he was going to say next, as when everyone else on stage was talking about how O.G. they were and how fake everyone else is, and Keith comes out with, "Those motherfuckers go home over the George Washington Bridge to New Jersey and pet their white poodles." 10 second pause. "They pet their white poodles."

You get the impression that as much as Ced and their manager and everybody else would love to get back in the studio and cut another record with Keith, he would be impossible to work with. Keith is the pilot of his own spaceship, and we were just lucky to be there as he flew past.

Photos of varying quality
Video of Keith performing Blue Flowers*

*Crappy Nokia format. Sorry. Quicktime should play it. Transcode it and send it back to us, if you want.

August 29, 2005

VMAs: Some Future Host Suggestions

Puffy Diddy hosts VMAs

I only made it through about 30 minutes of the VMAs last night, catching a couple of awards (The Killers, Kelly Clarkson) and Puffy Diddy standing around being wooden and almost completely uninteresting, before the Mariah Carey performance (which was inexplicably being broadcast from a different venue in Miami) came on and I turned that crap off.

MTV has taken a few different approaches in selecting the host of the VMAs over the past few years: actor Jimmy Fallon mugging through the 2002 awards, comedian Chris Rock as perhaps the best host ever in 2003 (especially when he called Good Charlotte "mediocre Green Day" right after their performance,) and no host at all last year. Choosing Puffy for this year probably sounded like a good idea, but it seems the most notable thing he did all night was that he suggested there be a white carpet leading up to the theater instead of a red one. For such a huge celebrity, Puffy has very little charm, and these days carries himself more like the businessman he's become instead of the artist (or whatever) he once was.

So I have a few suggestions for future VMA hosts. Unless you can get Chris Rock again, I think the host should be a big figure in music, someone with a lot of charisma, and someone who has a chance of doing something funny or unscripted. And it should be someone who has been very popular in their genre, which doesn't necessarily have to be be hip-hop.

None of these suggestions would ever be remotely considered by MTV, but man, they would be a riot to watch hosting an awards show.

  • Willie Nelson
  • Shania Twain
  • Ice Cube
  • Daddy Yankee (next year, after he's taken over the world)
  • Tommy Lee
  • Missy Elliott
  • David Lee Roth
  • Eminem
  • Keith Richards
  • Queen Latifah

OK, OK, I know these people are mostly too old and the youth of today don't want to see Willie Nelson twanging and shuffling all over the stage in his braids. But here's a more serious suggestion: Andre Benjamin. He's a major star, he's crossed over into movies, and he can probably make a few good jokes onstage instead of relying on numerous outfit changes (Puffy had three in the first half-hour) to carry the show.

Or if you want a completely weird show, MTV could go with the craziest man in show business, R. Kelly, who walked the white carpet in an "I'm Rick James, Bitch" t-shirt.

crazy R. Kelly

This outfit choice involves so many confusing layers of mental instability and sexual criminality that it's hard to know if R. Kelly is cleverly/disturbingly parodying his own reputation as an insane child molester or if he just thinks he's showing his support for Chappelle's Show. Then he did an obviously lip-synched abridged version of his urban opera of freakishness, "Trapped in the Closet." Brilliant or crazy?

You can add any suggestions about the future of the VMAs in the comments.

August 26, 2005

Bad Summer for Customer Service

So, first it was the couple at a New Jersey restaurant who found the words "Jew Couple" written on their check. A few days later, LaChania Govan received a Comcast cable bill addressed to "Bitch Dog," and a People's Energy customer found bills for "Jeffery Scrotum Bag Barnes" in his mailbox.

Then, this week, grocery store owner Sami Habbas received a credit card solicitation which began, "Dear Palestinian Bomber..." Even worse, when Habbas, a naturalized U.S. citizen, called JP Morgan Chase to complain: "The operators always said, 'Yes, Mr. Palestinian Bomber, how can we help you?' "

People, I know it's been a long, hot summer, but what is going on here? Maybe it's time to take stock and stop cutting corners on staff. It looks to me like the cost-effectiveness of hiring disgruntled part-timers to do data entry for minimum wage plus outsourcing your call centers overseas is undermined by the media attention and disgruntled customers that it causes.

August 25, 2005

Love and Kisses for Chávez

As Chávez was getting ready to depart from Cuba the other day, Fidel Castro appeared to be so overwhelmed with emotion that he couldn't restrain himself from making kissy-faces all over the place.

Fidel kissy face

Fidel kissy face with Chavez

Fidel kissy face and Chavez

Either that, or he's just jealous of the love that Chávez shares with Chirac...

Chavez with Chirac

...and Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson.

Chavez with Patterson

That dashing rogue Chávez, so hot right now! He should send a thank you note to Pat Robertson.

August 24, 2005

Google Talk and Eva Moskowitz

Since I still can't decide which of the Democratic mayoral candidates to vote for in the primary next month, I'm focusing instead on the Manhattan Borough President race. And, as a tie-in to the launch of Google Talk, here is the first Google Talk conversation between ADM and Amy, which regards one of the candidates.

ADM: hello???
Amy: what do you want.
ADM: what do you mean what do i want. i'm writing to see if it [Google Talk] worked or not.
Amy: I know. I was being wry. It worked! Thanks.
ADM: ok bye
Amy: Did you see the Eva Moskowitz for Borough President flyer in the mail? You can see straight down her shirt in one of the pictures. I mean, come on, Eva! Button it up.
ADM: that's like the christmas card episode of seinfeld.
Amy: I know. It's not as bad as a nipple, but you can see that hollow middle-aged woman inter-breast cavity thing. It's sort of gross.
ADM: it's not as good as a nipple either.
Amy: ok bye
ADM: ok bye

Here is the flyer photo of Eva Moskowitz that maybe isn't the one I would have selected if I were running for public office.

But I still like her; here's her campaign site.

Numbers don't lie, unless you delete them

When you're trying to eradicate any sense of objective truth in this country, a good government office to influence is the supposedly independent Bureau of Justice Statistics, whose impartial studies about crime patterns and police actions help inform policy.

A study mandated by Congress to investigate patterns in traffic stops and racial profiling by police uncovered some unsavory but not surprising results: while white, Latino, and black drivers are all pulled over at about the same rate (about 9%), black and Latino drivers or their vehicles are searched a lot more often than white drivers are, and force is used more often against non-white drivers. A graphic showing the stats is here.

But when the press release about these findings was being prepared, the political supervisor of the office, Tracy Henke, sent the report back to the head of the Bureau with some suggested edits. "The references in the draft to higher rates of searches and use of force for blacks and Hispanics were crossed out by hand, with a notation in the margin that read, 'Do we need this?' A note affixed to the edited draft, which the officials said was written by Ms. Henke, read 'Make the changes,' and it was signed 'Tracy.'"

The director of the Bureau refused to take out the offending statistics, and six weeks later was told he was being replaced as director after 23 years on the job, and was urged to resign. NY Times story about the study and its controversial editing is here.

The news release was never issued, and the report was posted unannounced on the Justice Department's website along with all their millions of other reports [link sometimes doesn't work--high traffic, or more censorship?] The Times say they did a search of news sources about the study, and found nothing.

So thanks, New York Times, for drawing attention to the statistical evidence that racial profiling goes on in this country. Now we can go back to distrusting our government and all authority figures again.

MSNBC: Bringing you the most current news....from 1989

MSNBC rock news

August 22, 2005

Who's Older?™: 2005 Summer Tour Edition

In conjunction with Emily's quiz on current events below, we're demanding that you reach deep inside yourselves and push your pop culture minds to the limit. We know it's still summer and taking tests is painful, but remember the immortal words of Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse: Pain don't hurt. You can do it.

Today's Who's Older?™ examines two sensations of the music industry who have inspired slavish, fanatical devotion in their fans, and are currently touring the world, grinding their pelvises and humping mic stands/piano benches to the screams of adoring masses in stadiums everywhere.

We're talking about Vince Neil of Mötley Crüe and Tori Amos. These two stars have more in common than you might think: they both got their start in metal, though Tori's first band Y Kant Tori Read was less successful than the Too Fast For Love album. Vince Neil and his band are notorious for their love of drugs, whether it's a half-pound of cocaine or Jack Daniel's injected into their veins, and Tori was inspired to write "Father Lucifer" while tripping on peyote. Both were devastated by the loss of children (Vince's daughter Skylar died of cancer, Tori had a miscarriage that provided fodder for most of an album.) Both have written illuminating but sort of self-indulgent books about their careers and their demons (The Crüe's magnificent but probably made-up The Dirt, and Tori's Piece by Piece.) And they both like to perform covers live (The Crüe are doing "Anarchy in the UK" on this tour, and Tori recently did "Can't Get You Out of My Head" at a show in Melbourne when Kylie was diagnosed with breast cancer.)

But: they are not the same age.