Monday, February 25, 2008

Your cash is good at the bar

Cole Slaw Blog comes to an end with this post. Thanks to everyone who read, linked, commented and otherwise supported the project.

There are no major life changes prompting this. Neither of us is moving or getting married or having a kid (that we know of). Neither of us is taking the 20th Century Limited to Chicago with Eva Marie Saint, especially because she's 83 now and was a bucket of trouble in the first place. We didn't even make a decision to retire and focus on condiments. We just decided a few months ago that we'd put it away before it before it gets stale -- spoiled slaw is a botulism risk and nobody wants that.

We're no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that one cole slaw blog doesn't amount to a head of cabbage in this crazy world. Someday you'll understand that. Now, now ... here's looking at you, kids.

-- CrimeNotes and Flop

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Presidents day

In the United States, we’ve somehow decided that only presidents are worthy of a place of honor on the currency. Even bad, war-loving presidents are on the money. Now that we as a nation seem to have a bit of a public-relations problem, maybe it's time to rethink this.

Our decision-making on this issue -- and it’s ours, as Congress controls this stuff -- has been nothing but lamebrained. The combination of institutional inertia, having other priorities, and a lack of critical thinking has made us a nation that appears to venerate authority and the occasional mythological figure.

For example, we honor on the utterly ubiquitous $20 bill, Andrew Jackson, a man who, until about 2003 or so, was the front-runner in the “Worst President Ever” horse-race. He enjoyed killing Indians and forcibly removing them from land white Americans wanted for its gold. He also campaigned against those silly, foppish Eastern Elites, thus paving the way for a broad-base of voters who make their decisions based on “common sense” which is just another way of saying “whatever pretty much everyone else thinks is cool.” So George W. Bush is kind of Andy Jackson's fault, but that's for another time.

The next denomination up is Ulysses S. Grant, who, like Jackson, was a better military officer than a president. He presided over a bunch of scandals and disasters on Wall Street, and generally seemed to be an anti-semite. He did nothing truly positive of note, and yet there he is on the $50 bill. Nice.

The $100 and $10 get non-presidents, and deserving ones. The single, fiver and even the $2 bill all get presidents who appear previously on coinage, and they deserve their twin-billing. No one disputes the worthiness of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson for the honor of appearing on American currency, and you won't hear that argument from me, even if I'd like to see some space cleared up for worthy candidates.

And don't get me started on the whole dollar coin mess. First we solved a problem that no one had -- pockets not jingly enough with change, billfolds stuffed too fat with singles. The result was a handsome, attractive failure. A gold-colored dollar that, despite an advertising blitz encouraging Americans to use the new currency (Americans, do you enjoy goods and services? Tired of digging clams all day to barter? Use money!)

Either because the first one-dollar coin in about 20 years was such a unique sight, or because Americans actually thought the dollar was made out of gold, no one spent the suckers (although I distinctly remember being amused by plunking down four of them for a beer in a dive bar once in 2000). America's first attempt to honor a non-white, non-male, actual person was a failure.

Naturally, the minority woman was blamed. The solution: more white dudes. Yes, now every single freaking president will be on a similarly shaped coin. On the back will be an image of another fictional female, the Statue of Liberty, along with a “$1” mark so the illiterate masses would no longer be confused by the words “One” and “Dollar.”

It’s as if no American has ever made any significan contributions to the humanities, the arts, or science. I realize that if Chaz Darwin were a Yank, there’d be no way that GOP congressmen (and the adorably contrarian Blue Dogs!) would allow him to appear on good old American coinage. But in Britain, he gets the £10 note. Which, thanks in part to the doings of our current president (coming to the dollar coin in 2017!) is worth about the same as a $20 bill. On which we honor ... Andrew Jackson. Sigh. I guess in a world where Ronald Reagan's name graces an airport, George W. Bush's mug might as well smirk back at you from the heads side.

If only the United States had produced some, you know, good scientists. Or artists. Or writers. Or musicians. Or great people of any sort besides Warren G. Harding, Chester A. Arthur and Rutherford B. Hayes. Oh, would that it were.

But alas, Franklin Pierce’s contributions to the United States and the lives of every American must clearly outweigh those of any writer. What can Walt Whitman’s mere words do against the Kansas-Nebraska Act?

Sure, Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, but William Henry Harrison’s administration, which was about as long as his inaugural address, clearly had more of an impact on the world.

And let’s not even imagine the “controversy” that would erupt when someone decides that Martin Luther King might someday deserve to join the pantheon of faces on American currency. Sure he kind of saved us from ourselves, but if you think Republicans would let him on the $50 or something without getting Ronald Reagan onto something, then you’re not watching what I’m watching.

And even if these arguments don't sway you, there's this: There's going to be two Grover Cleveland coins.

I realize there are more pressing issues, and there’s even more pressing issues on which our national policy is even more dunderheaded. (Airline security, for example, seems like it’s run by the kids from the slow math group in my fourth-grade class, but with more flailing and spazzing out.) But hey, it’s Presidents Day. If there’s a better time to advocate for restoring dignity and honor to those presidents worthy to be on the money, I can’t think of it.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Cole Slaw Bible study: The bad twin

Happy Sunday, brothers and sisters.

I'm at an age when friends have started having babies. Several of the kids are cute, even. Acknowledging that makes me weak, I know, but I've always loved dogs, so it's not that far of a stretch. Babies are like dogs with higher yield potential and less long-term loyalty: compare a twelve-year-old dog to a twelve-year-old kid, and it's clear who loves you more. There are trade-offs in life.

My point is this: dogs are cute and hairy but babies are cute and not hairy. I would not like to be around a hairy baby, but Rebekah didn't have that choice. She had twin babies, and Esau exited first. He "came out red, all over like an hairy garment." Yikes! But Esau also sounds like a little baby Ewok. Cute!

You'd think that given what we've learned from the Bible so far, Ewok would get hammered one night and burn all his body hair in an Everclear accident, and then get nursed back to health by banging his eight underage sisters. This is not the case! I'm 30 chapters into Genesis, and Ewok is the first character who's not a complete dick, including God.

Ewok's problem is his asshole brother, Jacob, and in the Bible's backward logic, I think it's Jacob who's the hero.

Ewok is a stand-up guy. He's his father's favorite. He hunts and provides food for the whole family, doesn't have drunk sex fiascoes, and commits no incest. Meanwhile, Jacob is his mother's favorite and doesn't do a thing. He sits in a goddamn tent, and is "a plain man." When he talks to his mom, he says, "Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man." Swift observation, Abercrombie. Somehow, Abercrombie's bragging about lack of body hair persuades his mother to go in on a swindle wherein Abercrombie covers himself in goat furs in order to trick Dad into thinking that he's Ewok. Hence, Dad gives Abercrombie a special blessing instead of Ewok, which sends Abercrombie off on a binge of the Bible's two favorite pastimes: farming and incest-based polygamy. Abercrombie leaves for a neighboring tribe. Once there, Abercrombie first marries his cousin, and then he marries her sister, and then he bangs several of their maids. Along the way, he fathers an entire minion.

Meanwhile, Abercrombie hoards his father-in-law's livestock -- sheep and cattle and whatnot. His brothers-in-law are angry that their first cousin is banging their sisters and impregnating the entire support staff and making off with all the goats and cattle and whatnot, so a rebellion happens, Abercrombie and company are evicted, and his in-laws' lives go back to normal. Abercrombie's justification seems to be that God wants him to steal all the livestock, which is the kind of thinking that got us into the whole Iraq mess in the first place.

Abercrombie, his multiple wives and concubines, his several dozen children and his fleet of livestock are cavorting away from his in-laws when Abercrombie hears an erroneous rumor that Ewok has raised an army against him. Abercrombie decides to bribe Ewok by giving him animals. But instead of kicking his ass for dressing up in goat furs and stealing their dad's magic blessing, Ewok hugs his brother. All is forgiven! Ewok is a good dude, a guy who's probably been happy just to hunt and hang out with his family, and it turns out that all he wanted was to see his dick brother again.

You'd think that this would be the end of the story. You'd be wrong. Abercrombie's kids turn out to be violent assholes (shocking, I know) and what happens next is a Last House on the Left-style revenge porn centering on rape, trickery and sore penises. And that, my brothers and sisters, will be the topic of our next session together.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Paradise Hotel has to feel the ridge

When reality TV was young and uncorrupted, Fox aired an ingenious show called Paradise Hotel. It was the genre at its peak, back before VH1 turned reality TV into contests over whether C.C. Deville would bang the white methadone addict or the black methadone addict and every other show involved retards seeking home improvement.

Paradise Hotel made it up as it went along, in an earnest, dramatic, straightforward way. Its characters were attractive alcoholics who wept and brawled. Salon's Heather Havrilesky made a study out of it. Here, she summarizes a typical Paradise Hotel moment:
Remember, kids, there's no prize, at least not one that they've announced. Amy is ripping Keith a new asshole simply because this is paradise, and she's staying at at the most exclusive hotel in the world, and never, not in a million years, did she imagine that Zack would be cast out of paradise ... forever.

But then, Amy is concerned only with the here and now, and remains unaware of the show's obvious mind-blowing cultural significance and the stigma it carries. Keith, on the other hand, seems to sense just how doomed the inhabitants of paradise are. Unfortunately, he only manages to blurt out that they're acting like a bunch of 2-year-olds before he settles into a dumbfounded silence.

The original Paradise Hotel turned on the drama that inhered in a man called Dave, who Ms. Havrilesky describes as "a moderately intelligent, mildly unattractive man, [cast] into the pits of moron hell." While the other characters passed out drunk, screamed and wept and hooked up in shoddily built cabanas, Dave quietly plotted their undoing. Pasty, slightly chunky, hatchet-faced Dave was the Guy Fawkes of Paradise Hotel. His ultimate downfall was the greatest plot line in the history of reality TV.

Paradise Hotel is back! And in an extraordinary development, it seems to equal the original.

This is due in part to the casting of Ryan, who's been categorized as "the surfer" despite being from New Jersey. Ryan is just 25 but due to his badly sun-damages skin, he looks at least 10 years older. He's dumber than a standard poodle and looks and acts like he's going through heroin withdrawal. This is attractive to the women of Paradise Hotel.

On the late-night TV-MA version that airs on Fox Reality, things turn blue. Ryan ferries Chelsea into the bungalow he ostensibly shares with Lauren, and we see a naked Ryan with his privates blurred. An obscured camera angle follows and the dialog summarizes a handjob gone wrong.
Ryan: Feel the ridge?
Chelsea: Yes.
Ryan: It gets better as it gets harder.
Chelsea: Yes, okay.
Ryan: No, you need to feel it as it gets harder. ... No, you didn't get it, you didn't feel the ridge. You have to feel the ridge.
Chelsea: ... Yes I did. It's ... nice.
She walks out on the handjob, and later Ryan finds himself on a date with Tanya. Tanya reminds you of a girl who cried a lot in high school, and not the kind of crying that comes because she's sweet and insecure and maltreated, but the kind of crying that comes because the back-up cornerback wouldn't hook up with her despite her new nosejob and the fact that her dad just bought her an Audi. She's not particularly nice, not particularly pretty, and has a sense of entitlement that runs deep.

Ryan thinks that they have a lot in common, which sounds about right. "Tanya's a cool girl. She's got the party thing going on. A lot of fun." Tanya says, "I'm like, I sometimes make out with my friends and people, but me, I like really don't need alcohol to make out with people." Through his glassy-eyed, heroin-withdrawal morass, Ryan observes, "Tanya's been mentioning how she loves to make out, hook up and stuff. I'm definitely into that kind of thing."

What helps put this show over the top is the editing and production values. It's portrayed as a serious morality play, a story where values and integrity are at stake. Ridges are felt and drunken fights begin and everyone has the most intense night of their lives. It's good to be back in Paradise.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Indy films

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was the first moderately grown-up movie I saw in theaters, and even though it's everyone else's least-favorite installment, it's the one I like most: the antic Shanghai sequence, the heart-yanking ritual, chilled monkey brains, the bugs, the chase on the mine carts, and the denouement on the rope bridge. It has the most bang for your buck, a dark sense of humor and the action sequences are tense and original.

Like good and decent people everywhere, I've been excited for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, even though the title sounds like a He-Man adventure. I feel a set up for disappointment. The three most recent Star Wars movies were epic failures. They undercut the affection I used to have for the original series. George Lucas has lost his way and while Steven Spielberg has gotten better with age, he's no longer good at fun.

The new Indiana Jones trailer is on YouTube.

I read last month's Vanity Fair article about the production.* The link has spoilers, probably more than you want. When I finished reading, I was not pleased. I'd like to hope that the story comes together and what we're about to have is a return to glory, but like other returns to glory, outlook not so good. Watch the trailer closely and you'll see a quick shot that reveals the name of a city in the American southwest. You can draw your own inferences without knowing much. I want the best, but I'm skeptical. I'll be happy to be wrong.

*I've never subscribed to Vanity Fair or Rolling Stone, but I receive both magazines in the mail. Not sure why. They embody everything I detest. I guess they need to inflate subscription numbers for ad sales and I fit into a key demographic.


Every day, but most especially on Valentine's Day, I love the anonymous people who read this site, as well as our many googlers looking for cole slaw recipes and the sex-fetish guidance erroneously implied by this site's vulgar metaphors.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Permanent smile

Editor's note: I'd normally delete this post, except that it's emblematic of a new trend: Come home late drunk, donate to the Obama campaign, and spend two hours combing YouTube and C-SPAN for Obama speeches. I stayed up until 6 a.m. last night doing this stuff. It beats buying a bunch of Whitesnake on iTunes.

Every time I watch him I can't get the grin off my face, but it makes me so happy that I don't even care.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

My fundraising appeal

Dear Friend,

One of the things I'm most proud of about our journey is not the amount of money I've spent, but the things I've spent it on.

Together, we have been on an unprecedented pace to break cigarette-smoking precedents, which in some bodegas is shattering price records at more than $8 a pack. I have not been drinking enough lately, but I hope that changes. We must take back the neighborhood one bar at a time. And just this past Thursday, I made another visit to the Strand Annex and purchased four new books.

The old adage rings true: If CrimeNotes can't drink it, smoke it or read it, he doesn't care. Yet we face new challenges in the weeks and months ahead. Never before has there been a PlayStation 3, with all of the dangers and opportunities that it entails, specifically including Grand Theft Auto IV. Never before has there been a clothing purchase that accounted for appearance and comfort, not merely necessity. And never before has there been serious consideration of purchasing Guitar Hero III in order to entertain visitors.

Never before has tradition combined with progress so seamlessly to build change.

So many people are ready to join, and your first donation of 2008 could be what helps me take the next step. My movement cannot continue without your generosity. Please consider attending the following events. I am counting on you to expand my hope.

Cigarettes with CrimeNotes at Waspwood Manor

Date: Sunday, February 17
Time: 3 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Location: Waspwood Manor - The CrimeNotes Residence
New York, NY
Contribution: $500 per person
RSVP: Space is limited. Cannot guarantee spots after February 17.

CrimeNotes Live! Evening with CrimeNotes
Date: Wednesday, February 21
Time: 11 p.m. - 1 a.m.
Location: East Village, tbd
New York, NY
Ticket Levels: General Admission - $200 (limited availability), Preferred Seating - $400
Host Committee - Raise or Contribute $5,000

Drinking and Shouting with CrimeNotes at Waspwood Manor
Date: Saturday, February 23
Time: 8:00 p.m. - 3 a.m.
Location: Waspwood Manor - The CrimeNotes Residence
New York, NY
Contribution: $6,000 -- recreation funds only
RSVP: Space is VERY LIMITED. We cannot guarantee spots after March 15.
Cereal may be served.

Surrogate Fundraising Events

Coffee and Conversation with Sasquatch
Date: Friday, Feb. 29
Time: Noon - 2 p.m.
Location: Throatchop Alley
Between Castrato St. and Avenue Soreballz
Washington, D.C.
Contribution: You will do exactly as you are told.

Various Things I Do By Supper: Selected Stories and Anecdotes from Flop

Date: Saturday, February 16
Time: Noon - 5 a.m.
Location: Bungalow 8
515 W. 27th St.
New York, NY
Contribution: $10 per person; Vice-Chair - $108; *Chair - $12,000
*Recreation fund only. Includes CrimeNotes Live! event with CrimeNotes on Wednesday, February 21.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

I always was the sharpest pencil in the drawer

In a recent dream, I found myself in my old elementary school, completing a crossword on a single sheet of paper. It was photocopied, not mimeographed, so you could tell it was kind of special. I was late, and an annoying girl I never really cared for had gotten there early, and had been at it a while.

I like crosswords, and I'm pretty good at them, so I dived right in. I don't remember a lot of the answers, but I was happy to share clues. I remember entering one of the across answers, the clue to which must have been the name of Hungary in its native language, because I filled in "MAGYARORSZAG" with no small amount of satisfaction. The really strange bit was, instead of my usual implement, a Pilot roller pen, I was using a colored pencil.

It was a pale peach color. Possibly the ill-advised "flesh" color, although I'm not sure of the brand. All I know is that it wasn't a Berol Prismacolor, which we all know was the Caddy of colored pencils back in school. And it was dull, I was just smearing letters on the page.

I went over to the sharpener mounted on the wall by the coatroom and had a flood of nostalgia. "No matter how much money I donate to this school," I announced as I came back to my seat, admiring the perfect, oddly carved-looking point on my peachy pale pencil.

"No matter how much money I give, no matter how nice the new facilities, the new gym, all the books, everything. No matter what other accoutrements we have, I'm not giving a cent for new pencil sharpener."

Someone must have looked at me funny, because I continued:

"Do you see those things? They were built to last. They were built during the war. Materials were scarce, and things had to last. Not like now, where you're supposed to use stuff for a while, and they buy some more."

No one seemed to share my enthusiasm, so I got back to work. It was around this time that annoying girl announced "Done!"

A couple others seemed nearly there as well. I bent back to my task, about two-thirds of the way through the puzzle. It slowly began to dawn upon me that this was actually a competition. And I wasn't going to win.

"Sixty seconds," my old teacher announced.

I stared at the clues, Everything swam. I put my perfectly sharpened pencil to the page, but nothing happened.

"Time's up."

I crumpled my paper in mock angst, pretending so I could cover how pissed I really was. How could I lose to these people? I was in a higher math group for Christ's sake. And now, as an adult, I was going to have to correct my sheet (in royal blue colored pencil)? Oh, this sucked. This sucked big time. And the only recognizeable person in this dream was one of the most annoying people in my grade school. Where was the girl I had the crush on? She was in my math group, and if she beat me in a crossword puzzle contest, I would have been embarrassed, but at least she was someone I respected. And thought about like, all the time.


And I don't know what I was thinking: Those pencil sharpeners were the worst. The teachers had to bring in electric ones.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Post-Super Tuesday hangover cure

Got buried in the middle of a liveblog packed with Huckabee-friendly Lawrence Welk singers. Thought it deserved a moment in the spotlight.