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March 2008 Archives

March 26, 2008

LA Times completely duped by Tupac fan/forger

James Sabatino

The Smoking Gun totally busted the LA Times today over last week's story about the Tupac shooting that implicated Puff Daddy. Turns out the FBI documents that formed the basis of the story were fabricated.

And here's the best part: the guy who forged the FBI documents is James Sabatino (above), a known con man and rap fan who has been trying for years to, as the Smoking Gun puts it, "insinuate himself, after the fact, in a series of important hip-hop events, from Shakur's shooting to the murder of The Notorious B.I.G." In the forged documents he created, Sabatino actually named himself as one of the New York hip-hop figures who lured Tupac to the site of the shooting.

I love it.

This isn't the first time Sabatino has made up connections to famous rappers. According to the Smoking Gun, he had "created a fantasy world in which he managed hip-hop luminaries, conducted business with Combs, Shakur, Busta Rhymes, and The Notorious B.I.G., and even served as Combs's trusted emissary to Death Row Records boss Marion "Suge" Knight during the outset of hostilities in the bloody East Coast-West Coast rap feud." He's currently in federal prison for some other crime.

Wired has good coverage of the many misspellings, typos, and other inaccuracies littered all over the fake FBI documents. And the NY Times is continuously updating their story, providing lots of details about LA Times journalist Chuck Philips (Pulitzer Prize winner!) and excerpts from interviews he's given since the article came out last week in which he gushes about how exciting it was for him to get such fabulous FBI reports--"like frosting on the cake." Philips notes that he had mysteriously never heard of James Sabatino in all the paper's years of reporting on the Tupac case, but insists, "he definitely knew these guys."

The LA Times has started to investigate their gigantic screw-up.

At the time the article came out, Puffy called the allegations "beyond ridiculous", which still seems to be true.

Another great bit from the Smoking Gun piece about Sabatino's other attempts to pass himself off as a hip-hop bigshot:

Sabatino has frequently claimed to have managed a number of leading hip-hop acts, including Notorious B.I.G., Lords of the Underground, and Heavy D and the Boyz. Du Kelly, a member of Lords of the Underground, described Sabatino as a "scam artist" who briefly tried to befriend the group's manager. Kelly said that he recalled Sabatino as a "short, Caucasian, little chubby fat guy" whose "father was supposed to be Mafia or something." He added that Sabatino also tried to get near the Wu-Tang Clan, "but I heard they beat him up."

March 25, 2008

More fake news on CNN

CNN Headline News

Eager to join the already crowded joke-news arena, along with "The Daily Show", "Colbert", VH1's "Best Week Ever", Weekend Update on "SNL", and Fox News' "1/2 Hour News Hour", CNN Headline News is launching its own comedy show, "Not Just Another Cable News Show", a title that defines failed irony.

It's also a reference to HBO's "Not Necessarily the News", which was itself a remake of the UK sketch comedy show "Not the Nine O'Clock News", a show that featured a young Rowan Atkinson and Clive Anderson. But maybe CNN is assuming that the trend-setting 16 year-old market that watches Headline News for hours on end won't know those old shows.

"Not Just Another Cable News Show" will feature commentary by Huffington Post's Rachel Sklar, Ana Marie Cox (who recently defined her current not-as-funny journalistic role with Time.com as "the more feature-y, bloggy, scene-driven stuff"--ugh) and self-effacing, sometimes funny LA Times columnist Joel Stein.

March 21, 2008

Get Harold Perrineau some therapy

Michael does quite pull the trigger on Lost

My feelings about Harold Perrineau, who plays the desperate and easily manipulated father Michael on "Lost", have changed a lot over the years. I loved him as Mercutio in drag in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet. But then his horrible narration-for-the-blind dialogue in the Matrix movies drove me up the wall.

After last night's episode of "Lost", and the four (four!) suicide attempts he had to go through in character, I just want to send him to get some trauma counseling and maybe a foot massage.

In other "Lost" news, the teaser for the next episode revealed whether or not baby Aaron counts as one of the Oceanic 6 (he does), so in one sense we know the complete list of who makes it off the island. Except we still don't know whose funeral Jack went to earlier this season, and we saw good old not-dead-yet, gay-on-vacation Tom magically back on the mainland in a flashback last night. So anything is possible.

March 18, 2008

Who's eating Cheetos™?

Bathtub full of Cheetos

Seth Stevenson over at Slate has done a good analysis of the new Cheetos ads that feature a newly sinister Chester the Cheetah, voiced by someone who sounds just like Peter O'Toole, urging Cheetos snackers to use their food as mischief implements.

Some of them are funny, especially the cubicle menacer one, and those shots of Chester massaging the languid flight attendant's shoulders are really hilarious.

But here's something strange: what inspired Cheetos to launch this new adult-oriented ad campaign on cable channels is that they found out, to their surprise, that 60% of Cheetos eaters are adults. They had always assumed that kids eat more Cheetos, hence the cartoony Chester character and the elementary-level design of their website.

I'm surprised it's not MORE than 60%. Frito-Lay, who makes Cheetos, apparently forgot that most of the world is made up of adults, and we love our orange snack foods, too. Kids are more likely to focus on candy in their gas station shopping trips, I think, leaving us adults to make up most of the Cheeto, Combo, and Cheez-It salty/cheesy snack market.

A partner at the ad agency that created the ads says that adults who eat Cheetos are somehow transgressive: "You're supposed to be eating arugula dip, but you have a nonconforming desire" to eat junk food. Huh? Has he looked at the size of the butts populating America lately? Eating bags of Cheetos looks pretty mainstream to me. Also, "arugula dip"? Maybe he meant artichoke dip. Either way, Frito-Lay has been missing their primary demographic all along: grown-ups wallowing in extended adolescence, stoners, and Jared Leto.

Stevenson says that the ads are memorable enough to make him more likely to buy Cheetos in the future, "next time I'm drunk and in a convenience store."

March 17, 2008

Increasingly cynical state looks forward to non-sleazeball leader

David Patterson, our new governor

After what feels like the fastest political scandal in history, David Patterson is getting sworn in as our new governor today, and will be taking on a state government full of corruption, ineptitude, and mutual partisan loathing. Plus we're in the midst of a tempestuous budget season and a recession.

Actually, Albany is like that pretty much all the time. We've gotten so used to corrupt politics in our state that having a competent, non-combative, upstanding guy in power feels like a radical new approach to government. If Patterson can just avoid swearing at/threatening Assembly members and stay out of any federal criminal investigations, he'll probably be heralded as a success.

A couple of interesting reports on how he's dealing with his new leadership position today. The Post reports that he's getting irritated with state officials, lobbyists, and fake Barack Obama assistants all claiming that they have special access to him. Patterson has just won the political lottery, so he should get ready to hear from a lot of long-lost friends coming out of the woodwork.

The Times says that Gov. Jodi Rell of Connecticut, another surprise governor who replaced an ousted criminal, sent Patterson a care package of Pepto-Bismol, Excedrin, and a Magic 8 ball. She says she wanted to "provide him with a few laughs" by suggesting that his new job will cause him physical pain--haha!

One last thing about the Spitzer scandal: I wonder if the Times checked out any other high-level politicians in the state when they first noticed that an FBI public corruption unit was involved in the prostitution ring investigation. I wonder who else they considered as the significant public figure before figuring out it was Spitzer?

Bloomberg? Ew! Would have been a much bigger shock, also would have dispelled rumors that he's gay that I don't think are based on anything but never seem to go away.

Schumer? He loves the media (As Bob Dole said: "The most dangerous place in Washington is between Charles Schumer and a camera") and is probably smart enough about his image to not commit such a salacious and easily traceable crime. He's also been impressively restrained in his comments about Spitzer, who he's never liked.

Cuomo? He was already involved in a sex scandal in which he was the one getting screwed over, so maybe political sex scandals are a lightning strikes once kind of thing. Unless you're Bill Clinton.

As it turned out, the Times journalists couldn't have written a tidier morality play. They're so pleased with their reporting in this area that the paper did a lengthy profile of three more expensive prostitutes in yesterday's paper. That's a lot of whores for the Times.

March 12, 2008

Hollywood heralds the death of yet another street art form

Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo

Here's something Hollywood has a long history of doing: latching on to an informal variety of art or performance that was originated by poor people living in big cities, then sucking all the life out of it through a series of big, commercial movies that feature a sanitized version of the original performance/art form.

In 1980: Can't Stop the Music (disco) and Xanadu (disco roller skating).

In 1984: Breakin' and Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo (breakdancing). These two movies came out only 7 months apart, which says a lot about their production values, and shows how well the producers predicted that the first movie would swiftly obliterate whatever coolness breakdancing still had.

Now it seems like young star Channing Tatum is making a career out of these kinds of movies. The guy is the star of Step Up and appears in Step Up 2 The Streets.

(I am guessing that at one time there were young city kids who actually engaged in some form of street dancing, which is different from step dancing, right? Kids in my hometown were metal fans, so I'm out of my element.)

Channing Tatum is also the star of Dito Montiel's upcoming Fighting, about underground street fighting. And now he's going to star in Parkour, about an undercover cop who enters the shadowy world of underground street gymnastics. [tx T-Rock for developing this theory.]

By the time Parkour gets released in 2009, it will be 5 years after the French District 13 came out. Parkour probably stopped being cool around 2006, sometime after that one scene in Casino Royale and the Madonna video. Even the Times did their characteristically late trend-watch piece last June. If those weren't enough to make parkour uncool, this should do it.

Channing Tatum is the perfect prefab famous actor name. If I start acting, I think I'm going to use Hepburn Dakota.

March 11, 2008

The more we learn, the duller it gets

Eliot Spitzer scandal

I was on the road yesterday, so got 100% of my information about the Spitzer scandal from text messages from friends who were at work. The first vague message I got--"Eliot Spitzer in prostitution ring"-- was by far the most interesting part of the story.

Whoa!, I thought. This is big news! Was he getting paid off to look the other way about something he uncovered in his Attorney General days? Why would someone as rich as he is need to make extra money by renting out girls, or getting hush money? Or, wait, is Eliot Spitzer involved in human trafficking? Maybe it's an international syndicate! Maybe he was trading Colombian children for guns for FARC!

Then I eventually got more specific text messages, and figured out that Spitzer was just some regular asshole who was going to hookers. Yawn. Sure, it's shameful, but receiving further confirmation that Eliot Spitzer is a self-righteous jerk who thinks he can get away with treating people like crap is hardly a surprise.

It also serves as a reminder to all us Democrats that we're not shielded from this kind of thing. Our elected officials can pose around all high and mighty about bringing ethics and morals to Washington/Albany/Spokane while secretly engaging in exactly the kind of behavior they claim to be fighting, just like the most family-values Republican can.

The Times offers an overview of the mess Spitzer had already made of his first year in office, as well as a psychological profile ("reckless"). And a good piece from Clyde Haberman on how building a career based on moralizing from on high means you've got an extra long way to fall when you screw up this bad.

However boring this scandal is, I guess he'll probably resign, because now he's "lost the respect" of New Yorkers--something he'd already been doing pretty well for the past year all on his own.

March 10, 2008

Remember when we didn't endorse Eliot Spitzer?

I'm so so sorry. Sorry I got caught.

You heard it here first: Amy's Robot wanted Suozzi (disclosure: he's related to one of us).

And poor Silda looks so, so miserable in that picture.

March 4, 2008



The first movie I'm really excited about in 2008 is Doomsday [official site], the new movie by Neil Marshall. This is the same guy who did The Descent from 2006, one of the coolest movies I've seen in years.

Marshall likes to create tough female characters who fight through really dangerous situations with guts and brawn. They're also smokin' hot. He uses only two of the Descent posse in Doomsday, but also brings in Bob Hoskins, Malcolm McDowell, and Rhona Mitra (from "The Practice") as the primary ass-kicker.

I don't know much about the story except what's in the trailer, but more or less: a deadly virus has been quarantined in the northern-most part of the UK--there's a wall cutting off the island at around Newcastle, and all the infected people are kept to the north of it. Then years later something happens, the virus starts infecting people again, and Rhona Mitra has to go up to Scotland to try to find a cure among the abandoned people up there who have devolved into heavily-tattooed lawless metal fans, swarming all over Glasgow and setting things on fire.

Overall, it looks like a combination of Escape From New York, Mad Max, and that opening rave scene from Blade.

If it weren't written and directed by Neil Marshall, this movie could be in danger of hokeyness, but I think he does great stuff. It comes out March 14.

Putting the "Hell" in Hell's Kitchen

Bourbon Street bar in Hell's Kitchen

From the late '90's until about 2005, Hell's Kitchen was the up-and-coming neighborhood that had a bunch of good local restaurants, some ancient and appealingly crumbling bars, and the barber shop, wholesale greengrocer, and shoe repair shop that had been there since the LaGuardia administration.

Now, it seems like it's segued directly from up-and-coming to a horrific combination of yuppie-fied wine bars and mass-produced tourist garbage, with an overpriced baby clothes store or two thrown in.

For example: What's that new construction going up on West 46th?

Bourbon Street bar

It's Bourbon Street Bar and Grille, which looks like it's part of a college-town nightlife franchise that already has branches in places like Flint, Michigan and Schenectady.

There's already something called Bourbon St NYC on the UWS that looks pretty bad (though I can't entirely reject 50 cent Coors Light), but the logo is different, so I guess this is some other, pre-theater-oriented Bourbon Street.

The bright side: maybe Bourbon Street will bring a critical mass of recent grads to puke up turquoise fishbowls all over the Restaurant Row sidewalk, which will halt the flow of tourists that's been trickling farther west to 9th Avenue.

March 3, 2008

Female President idea returns to world of hour-long dramas and sci-fi movies

Condi Rice and Nancy Pelosi

There's a pretty good chance that Hillary Clinton is going to stay stuck as America's First Serious Female Presidential Contender, never quite making it to First Female President. I think she's made it easier for whoever decides to run in future elections, even if she ultimately loses. There are other great women in politics who don't have all the baggage that comes with Hillary, and today the Times looks at who might be the first woman president, for real this time.

They like Kathleen Sebelius, governor of Kansas and recent feature of O Magazine, and also Janet Napolitano, governor of Arizona. Both of these are good choices--they're popular second term Democratic governors in red states, and have strong fiscal backgrounds, and both have endorsed Obama.

I guess it's a good bet that speculation about Condi won't go away, though if she ever ran, she would be facing a country still pissed off from when we suddenly realized sometime in 2005 that we all totally hate our president. She'll always have to answer for Iraq.

What's surprising is that the Times didn't mention Nancy Pelosi, who is the highest-ranking woman in US history. I think Pelosi is smart, aggressive, and knows what she's doing, even though the Democratic Congress has been so disappointing. She's fought for a lot of good policies like raising minimum wage, and lots of other ones that got defeated, and she voted against the Iraq war. She'd be a pretty good candidate if she can get Congress to stand up to Bush more often. She also raised 5 kids while working her way up in California politics.

For now, maybe all we're going to get is another 4 years with Presidents Leslie McCloud, Mackenzie Allen, and Laura Roslin.

Watch Tina Fey's great "Bitch Is the New Black" political speech on SNL's Weekend Update from a week ago.

About March 2008

This page contains all entries posted to Amy's Robot in March 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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