Archive for December, 2008

Caroline Kennedy And Her, You Know, Problems

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

Caroline Kennedy

New Yorkers have always had an interesting relationship with Senator Hillary Clinton. We weren’t quite sure what to make of it when she moved into our state apparently for the sole purpose of running for one of our senate seats, and we really didn’t know what to do with her during the now famous race against Rick Lazio. We do know now - on the eve of 2009 - that for the mostpart, we like Senator Clinton, and that she has done an admirable job in her role. She is battle-hardened enough to satisfy even the gruffest of City dwellers, yet thoughtful enough to be genuine. We wish her well as a member of President Obama’s cabinet.

With Senator Clinton soon to leave the legislative branch, Gov. Patterson has to perform a Constitutionally-mandated duty of choosing the much-discussed newbie. This is an awe-inspiring and worthy task, uh isn’t that right, “Governor F-Word”? One prospective name that seems to be circulating is that of a certain Ms. Kennedy - daughter of the last Obama. While Kennedy certainly meets the legal requirements to become a U.S. Senator, I have to wonder if she is up to the task of being one of New York’s crucial legislators.

New Yorkers (like me since birth) strongly dislike non-authentic types. We don’t do bullshit. If you aren’t going to talk straight, we wish you’d get out of our way. There are millions of people in our state and surely someone will give us what we need. That said, when Ms. Kennedy gave an interview to the New York Times, she repeated the phrase “you know” an astounding 142 times. One hundred and forty two! I mean… Palin may have been a public catastrophe, but she has to be cackling now.

Ms. Kennedy, we don’t know. We want to know what qualifies you to be in the Senate as opposed to, say, a public servant at a lower level. We want to know why the interest to become a political figure? All of the sudden? Why after 50 years of “leave me alone and let me raise my children in peace”-iness. Mostly though, we want to know why you don’t deserve comparisons to our dear friend from Alaska, who was ridiculed even by those who did not doubt her.

Objectively speaking, Mrs. Palin has infinitely more political experience than La Kennedy. Palin has been elected to municipal office and statewide office, no small feats, and was (still is) widely lampooned as “not experienced enough” for a shot at Washington. If she lacks experience, what does Ms. Kennedy have besides the President-Elect’s vote to escape this double-standardized criticism?

Look, Caroline (can we call you Caroline?)-we like Teddy. He’s a good man We loved your Uncle Robert. We adored your dad, and because we, like she, epitomized New York, we were beyond infatuated with your mother. We want to like you. But we’re smart and see through the noise.

Please give us something of substance. And add a decent public speaking course to your resume. Or your argument stops at “Gee, my name is Kennedy… you know?”

Trends for the Long-Awaited New Year

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

First people stop buying books as Wii, DVR, and Hulu make it too easy to do eye exercises. Prez Obama sinks a cool billion into life support for the publishing doofuses. Taxpayers take to the street to protest; then the hullabaloo makes people realize Barnes & Noble is in fact a bookstore, not a coffee shop.

Empty bookstore.

People learn Target and Macy’s basically sell the same stuff and stop paying attention to their advertising. Macy’s becomes “Walmart without dog food and toilet paper.”

A movie opens quietly that touches people’s hearts and yet has no celebrities. What occurs is this: Wes Anderson changes his name to something obscure and recruits actors via YouTube auditions. They shoot the feel-good movie of the year in Prospect Park, and it grosses more than a billion. But alas, the goodwill is ruined by the studio’s DVD-release hype.

The City of New York bans store chains from opening more than one location in any neighborhood. As 7-Elevens invade the territory reserved for the grimy neighborhood bodega, third-termer Michael Bloomberg proclaims that every city block ought to have at least one store where it’s fine for locals to sit outside on milk crates and drink $2 Snapple out of paper bags . Subsequently, taxes rise. I heart NY.


The post-millennial Saturday Evening Post announces that it is merging with Playboy, and suddenly Martha and O’s magazines are in big trouble. The new mag publishes things people want to read and engenders brand loyalty in its readers by being authentic and dirty. The printed word is the new black.

Someone not named Donnie Deutsch takes over the 10 p.m. spot on CNBC and does interviews with people who have something to say that isn’t a prepared statement by flacks. Jeff Zucker for once gets a night’s sleep.

The iPhone is given away with boxes of Tide detergent. Steve Jobs takes to the stage at MacWorld and proclaims that Tide is all he ever uses on his closetful of black turtlenecks and jeans because, “like Apple, Tide is a noun, and I like nouns.” The iPhone is priced down to $9.99, and Americans begin to make all their spending money selling ideas via the App Store.


After the calamitous failure of several self-help biz books, we start noting how much cheaper it is to enact someone else’s great idea — and pretend it’s ours. The ‘09 way to live a saner and more successful existence is by, you guessed it, jumping on the bandwagon in order to forgo sitting at the reins trying to blaze the trail ourselves.

All remaining reality TV gigs, “One Tree Hill” and the ridiculously skinny “90210″ are banned by the feds because a CDC study proves they are in fact not guilty pleasures at all but instantly kill brain cells upon viewing. The ACLU challenges the move as a violation of free speech, or at least a bad use of pee breaks. The liberals win, and a Fox reality show is quickly constructed. Its title: “ACLU-Ville.”


Those bass-ackward Kenneth Cole HELP ads inspire jobless executives to hawk $500 loafers on New York’s Canal Street. In a similar story, “My Super Sweet 16″ is canceled because no one is able to afford to pay for parties that huge and absurd anymore. Rational people rejoice. 2009 is heralded as a banner year!

Resolve to Be Pessimistic: An Eager Lesson for 2009

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

The year we just lived through saw unparalleled amounts of optimism. Despite the worst economic recession since the early 1990s, record gas prices, high unemployment, incompetent leadership, and so much more direness, America came out of the woodwork to vote in November on a belief that happy days can be here again

Man Bites Dog: Newspapers Outlive Themselves, Are Bizarrely Unaware

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

News came on Friday that the Old Grey Lady is starting an Instant Op-Ed feature online. This new technology will “allow the paper’s Web site to post immediate expert viewpoints on breaking news,” said Editorial Page Editor Andrew Rosenthal.


Thank you, New York Times.

Golly, imagine. I can get Maureen Dowd’s opinion on something before tomorrow’s paper comes out! I can even, gasp, comment on what she wrote! Paul Krugman can tell me what to think of economic news in the middle of the day!

As one editor reaching put it: “This could be a forum for one of those people to express themselves in a more extended way.”

Well. We are witnessing harnessing of the awe-inspiring power of the Internet…yeah, if this were 2001.

Oh, my Times. What you’ve created is called a weblog - or a blog. These have been around for several years. They’ve been scooping you for probably the last few. Your own paper has blogs that are starters. The guys over in Sports run an awesome baseball blog appropriately called “Bats.” There’s “Bits” with several of our well-informed friends writing on tech-smart topics far and wide. This blogging is not a new concept, friend.

As an imbiber of the Times since my days in small pants, I have to wonder and I need to worry. Are they unaware that blogs exist, or are they hoping we don’t know blogs exist? Or, most interestingly, are they calling their blog “Instant Op-Ed” in order to make their so-called experts seem like more than mere bloggers?

This is problematic because - everyone take notes - there are smart people in the world who write blogs without needing the validation of being called an “expert.” A guy named Duncan Black, who holds a Ph.D in Economics writes a fabulous political blog that merits reading daily. A lawyer/veteran from El Salvador has with a single hand organized the entire left into electoral victory with the power of HTML. Heck, the trombone player for our local Philharmonic just started a blog that The Times even wrote about last week. Heavy sigh.

The point is that the New York Times may have officially jumped over the ship, sailed over the shark and run over my admiration. Not only has its Op-Ed department not embraced the technology that has existed for years, they apparently are so hung up on the concept of “expert” that they fail to understand that anyone with a blog tendency is, can be, and should assert themselves with their expertise.

The old-fashioned Op-Ed is dead now. Freely ask anyone with Wordpress capabilities if you think not.

…For more like this, see the book (or, even better: buy it) “2011: Trendspotting.”

Good News Is Out: Bad

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

Bad news is the new good news. Jump on the bandwagon.

Bad news is absolutely everywhere. It is unavoidable. The economy is in shambles, 50 million Americans are without health insurance, unemployment is on the rise in numbers that scare even me, and 43 out of 50 states are now operating on a budget deficit. Meanwhile, some enterprising projects have figured out how to keep their heads above water and even prosper in some cases despite experiencing these bleakest of times by making the (now official) recession seem almost cool.

Kind of.

A great example of the general mopiness of society today is found on television. Maury Povich, the veteran host whose syndicated

Music Industry Grows Up: An Online Parable

Friday, December 12th, 2008

Has the music industry figured out how to use the Internet, as kids say,

Buy the Book - 2011

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