ONLY AN YSL SWEATER SIZED XXXXL WOULD BE BIG ENOUGH TO COVER KANYE WEST’S BIG, BROKEN HEART

Say what you will about his singing (awful) or the emotional maturity he exhibits on his new album, 808s and Heartbreak (appropriate for a fifteen-year-old’s impassioned Facebook Note), you have got to hand it to my man — Kanye’s new look is very fresh:

My friend, Gregg, told me I should be nicer to Kanye West because he’s clearly still recovering from cataract surgery.

MAVRICKS

Rather than continue to make myself angry wondering how so many people are willing to (enthusiastically, passionately) ignore reality…rather than hurt the property value on this website by writing one thousand vitriolic and inexpertly informed words on the subject…rather than cynically pray that someone with a possibly loving family and a somewhat significant civic responsibility is discovered to have aborted a child from an extra-marital affair, or that the former mayor of my city gets Cloverfielded…I think today I’ll just post some very childish images:

OK. That’ll do, pig.

THE INTERNET IS SUCH A DRAMA QUEEN

I was just reading a story linked by the esteemed website, Gothamist.com, about the new IKEA in Brooklyn. IKEA has been offering a free shuttle bus between the store (which is located in the somewhat hard-to-reach neighborhood of Red Hook) and a few more convenient Brooklyn subway stops. Apparently, after just a few days of service the shuttle is already being taken advantage of by many of the city’s commuters who have been using this free, comparatively posh transportation to bypass a $2 public bus ride. That is pretty awesome.

Even more awesome is the fact that, according to Gothamist, many of those freeloaders are homeless folks looking to catch a free ride to the methadone clinic. This begs the question: If you are so good at finding a hustle, why are you so bad at having a home and/or teeth? I’m sure the homeless consider this bitter irony each time they hop aboard the IKEA express and heroin-nap all the way to their clinic. (There was one comment on the post that really made me laugh, where a person compared the class disparity on these IKEA shuttles to a Weegee photograph of two aristocratic women being ogled by a crazy-eyed homeless lady. Because, you know, IKEA has always been considered the premier self-assembly furniture destination for the discriminatingly wealthy.)

I’ve often thought there are a lot of public services not being addressed in this city. For example, after visiting the Hamptons and seeing the relatively carefree attitude most of the summer residents have with regards to their home security and personal safety, one could make a fortune offering a low-priced shuttle bus for thieves without cars. Each Friday morning, the B&E Jitney would transport individuals from high-crime neighborhoods directly to Amagansett, where it would leave them to frolic among the many unlocked summer rental homes and convertible cars parked curbside. Tickets would be one-way, based on the assumption that most of the passengers would be able to procure return transportation from one of the many beach parking lots or unattended driveways and garages.

I realize that is only one example, but that’s because I really only had one example. Sorry about that.

COME ON, GUYS – VOLUME 314

Although I’m on a somewhat restrictive diet these days (no more dulce de leche I.V. drip), my paper-thin willpower is no match for the new Häagen-Dazs flavor, “fleur de sel caramel.” There’s been a lot of fleur de sel hoopla these days, and I approve of all of it. Sweet and salty is a no-brainer, as far as I’m concerned. My friend, Allison, first disgusted me and then converted me when I saw her dump a package of M&Ms into a bucket of movie popcorn. When she did that I covered my head, afraid of angering my god. I became one of the Skull Island natives in King Kong when they first experienced the beautiful madness of White Man’s new-fangled transistor radio. Since eating that first buttered “M”, though, I was all in.

The Fleur De Sel Caramel ice cream does not disappoint, either. What does disappoint, however, is the Häagen-Dazs website promoting their new line of “reserve” flavors, designed for the more discriminating ice cream eaters shopping at their neighborhood Value-Mart. Besides describing the various flavors–Amazon Valley Chocolate, Hawaiian Lehua Honey & Sweet Cream–as if they’d been discovered on an archeological dig, the site embarrassingly lists “food and wine pairings” for each flavor. Here’s an example, from Toasted Coconut Sesame Brittle:

“Serve a scoop atop a banana leaf for the perfect ending to a Thai dinner.”

And for wine? You probably guessed it already, but:

“A sweet German dessert wine such as Trocken Beren Auslese.”

Come on, guys. That’s just showing off, isn’t it? How many people are filling their shopping carts with pre-packed pints of mass-produced ice cream (manufactured by the Dreyers corporation, by the way–a company whose slogan is “Give ‘em the good stuff!”), and then wheeling over to the supermarket’s stockboy to find out where they keep their sweet dessert wines and banana leaves. It’s such a stretch, particularly when the HD suggests one pair their Pomegranate & Dark Chocolate ice cream bar with a “fresh mint garnish.” I guess I could just take a bite out of this ice cream bar on a stick, hold the bite of ice cream in my mouth as I delicately place a fresh mint leaf on the exposed pomegranate ice cream, and then spit my mouthful back on to the bar, making it whole again, but that strikes me as inconvenient. Also inconvenient: asking a 7-11 clerk if he has any fresh mint behind the register, next to the trucker speed, Skoal Bandits, and naked lady cigarette lighters.

As you read through the flavor descriptions, the food pairings get more and more ludicrous, mentioning gorgonzola cheese, or a raspberry balsamic vinaigrette reduction. It even suggests eating Fleur De Sel Caramel ice cream out of the just-spent oyster shell. COME ON, GUYS.

I think I know what happened here. The company’s advertising agency received the creative brief for these new reserve flavors which HD would like to position as being slightly more exclusive than their core brand flavors. There was probably some kind of mention in the brief that the brand’s “aspirational” qualities have been diluted by “clutter” in the category of artisanal-style ice cream, and by the fact that HG has become so ubiquitous that people no longer associate it with driving a Delorean or wearing polo boots and eating mustard with real, fancy mustard grains in it.

Enter: Häagen-Dazs Reserve. The suggested pairings are bullshit. We know it, and HD knows it. No one honestly expects people to eat store-bought ice cream out of a cashed Bluepoint oyster shell. It’s just meant to create a tantalizing fog of rich person fantasy that tastefully obscures the fact that this is a 2000-calorie tub of ice cream loaded with industrial salt and factory-cut caramel fudge nuggets, and that the average consumer (me) is probably going to pair it with some frostbitten chicken taquitos from Trader Joe’s, a Diet Coke, a DVR’d episode of Top Chef, and three tablespoons of existential misery. Either way, that’s good eatin’.

ART HISTORY KNOWLEDGE GAP

As of today GAP is offering a new line of artist-designed t-shirts, in honor of this year’s Whitney Biennial show. The hook is, all of the famous artists who designed these t-shirts were at one time Biennial artists themselves. Hear that, 2008 Biennial artists? Some day, if you really make it, you might get to design a t-shirt for GAP. (Also, I have just about had it with The Gap wanting us to call it GAP. Why so special, The Gap?)

Because I strictly adhere to all of the expectations placed on my demographic, I first learned of this The Gap (icy burn!) promotion via the back cover of this week’s New Yorker Magazine. (The New Yorker? What is it with everyone?) The issue’s back cover was devoted to a full-page ad featuring Chuck Close, the Professor Xavier of New York’s art world, wearing a self-designed The Gap t-shirt. I am a big fan of both Chuck Close and cotton, so I decided right away I was gonna buy that joint. And while I was at it, I bought the Barbara Kruger design, too, because she GETS IT. I did not purchase the Kenny Scharf-designed t-shirt but I do appreciate that he’s using this The Gap partnership to help raise awareness for growing epidemic of cowboys with AIDS:

It’s rare that The Gap does anything I’d consider interesting or cool–they are the only store I can think of that would sell Relaxed Fit Skinny Jeans–but I was genuinely impressed with this particular partnership. They’re promoting the arts, and promoting good design. (Not you, Scharf.) It would just be a little cooler if they actually knew a bit more about art or the artists, as evidenced in their description of this pretty famous Chuck Close painting:

Here’s how they describe the painting:

Hey, guess what, The Gap? That is actually a portrait of Philip Glass, someone Close has painted more than twenty times in the last forty years. That is probably why all of those paintings are titled, “Phil,” instead of “self-portrait” or “Chuck” or “Me” or “What Has Two Thumbs And Loves Large-Scale Polaroids, Grids, And Philip Glass? THIS GUY.” Oh, The Gap, I hope you have insurance because I just burned your website to the ground.*

*Says the person who is so pretentious he sees no problem busting The Gap’s online copywriter on the depth of his knowledge of modern art history.

FUNNY BECAUSE IT’S TRUE

New York Comic-Con 2008 is officially over. In keeping with a tradition I’ve held since the very first NY Comic-Con, I opted not to attend. For those who do choose to attend, however, there are many joys to experience at Comic-Con–purchasing a comic book while being crushed in by 100,000 other people; getting your photograph taken with the guy who played Greedo; receiving a free Iron Man movie poster with your convention badge, then carrying the rolled-up poster around all day and, after finally coming to terms with the fact that you are never going to hang this Iron Man movie poster in your apartment or anywhere else, depositing it among the thousands of other Iron Man movie posters in one of the trash cans at the convention center exit. But for die-hard comic fans who look forward to this convention as a way to relax and show their true colors, perhaps no joy is greater than being asked to appear on-camera by one of the hundreds of correspondents attending the convention in the hopes of pointing a camera at a chubby IT professional in Darth Maul make-up, with sarcastically hilarious results.

For every three diehard comic book and sci-fi fans, there was probably at least one person with a microphone hoping to produce a local news story, late-night comedy remote piece or barely-credentialed Web video, frantically searching the convention floor for the most outlandishly dressed or most socially awkward attendee to interview/tease. For those of us who did not attend this convention, we can at least enjoy the experience of watching a very smug person pretending to be interested in Comic-Con while scarcely able to suppress his very fresh “virgin” and “living in your parents’ basement” jokes long enough to lull his interviewees into their false sense of security. Sorry, Comic-Convention attendees! If you didn’t want to get made fun of, maybe you shouldn’t have attended a convention that was ostensibly designed to let you indulge and celebrate your slightly fringe subculture amongst other like-minded fans in a safe, semi-private environment.

As editors work overtime, I will wake up each morning bright and early, eager to see one of the many wonderful videos of someone coaxing two Star Wars-obsessed attendees into a toy light saber duel as he stands back and gives that very essential “get a load of these queers” wink to the camera, just so we all know that he does not condone these nerdy shenanigans. Seriously, what is it with those nerds, right? Do they think they’re real Jedis or what? Sometimes, if the interviewer is really interested in making his Comic-Con video really soar in quality, he will go the extra mile and throw himself into the mix for a good laugh, taking light saber to hand to join the fight, as his eyes ask the camera person, “Holy crap are you getting all this?” This kind of dedication to expertly mocking one’s interview subject really lets us, the audience, know “I am not too scared to appear as if I am actually friends with these people for a few minutes but stay tuned for the part where I act extra over-the-top, because that is my signal to you that I am above all of this and as soon as the camera is turned off I will probably go somewhere and do pretty cool stuff like drive a sports car, or see a live band or get a bunch of ass.”

So thank you, journalists, for your intrepid and mocking coverage of Comic-Con. It’s comforting to know that, yet another year, someone (i.e. all 200 of you) had the uniquely great thought that, “Hey, I’ll bet if I went to Comic-Con I could find a ton of nerds dressed all crazy. That might be something someone would want to see.” And thank you even more, for following through on that instinct and bringing a news crew to Comic-Con over the weekend, then pointing your camera at someone wearing an painstakingly handmade Ghostbusters costume so the rest of us can laugh, shake our heads, and say, “yeah, man, those guys are certainly not cool like me. Case closed.” You really exposed the shit out of that one. See you in a few months, at the Celebrity Impersonator Convention.

ROOM FOR COMPROMISE

Sean Combs aka P. Diddy aka One of Hip-Hop Entertainment’s Most Distinguished Black Nerds* has decided it’s time to make himself culturally relevant again. After it became clear that no one else was feeling his very calculated “Making of the Band” catchphrase, Diddy took matters into his own jewel-encrusted hands by tapping Sean John clothing to create a special line “NO BITCHASSNESS” t-shirts. As you can probably imagine, they’re as beautiful as they are subtle:

Of course, he’s already taken some heat for these shirts, mostly from people who exhibit unusually high levels of bitchassness. Like the “Stop Snitchin’” campaign, a lot of cultural critics will probably find this kind of message irresponsible and sort of intolerant. And sure, that controversy might buy Diddy a few extra minutes of screen time on FOX News’ “Red Eye” or a small piece of real estate in the front of Entertainment Weekly, but he has to remember he’s no longer a street-level player. These days he’s a national treasure and his words strike at the very heart of our young ones. I guess what I’m saying is, Diddy, if you’re listening–maybe you’ve been spending the day surfing the Web over fellow-black-nerd Kanye West’s shoulder and, after arguing about which Coach leather toilet seat Kanye should link up on his own blog today, you were all “I wonder if that bitchassness over at tremble.com has been updated in this calendar year”–I know you don’t like to do things half way, but maybe you need to chill your zero tolerance policy on the subject of bitchassness. You’re going to make kids cry. Lots of kids. Kids who might have otherwise auditioned for “Making of the Band,” giving you one more great season of black teens with neck tattoos, cursing and fighting until their pants fall down.

Please, Diddy, don’t hurt them before they can hurt themselves and each other. Consider a path of greater understanding:

I know you’re an uncompromising genius–everyone knows how hard you killed it on the Godzilla soundtrack, man–but sometimes compromise is just what you need to spread your message. Spoonful of sugar, Hamburger.

*(hip-hop’s other distinguished black nerds include: Prince Paul, DJ Premier, MC Serch, Ludacris, Talib Kweli, Jay-Z and hip-hop’s original black nerd, Russell Simmons. ironically, the members of N*E*R*D are not nerds.)

BACK TO BACK TO BACK TO BACK TO BACK TO BACK EPISODES

Dear American Airlines,

Not everybody loves Raymond, so please cut the shit.

I have never seen this show anywhere but on American Airline flights and, based only on my personal experience, I guess each episode of Everybody Loves Raymond is about four and a half hours long. There is just no other way to explain falling asleep to the sound of Peter Boyle screaming at Ray Romano and then waking up hours later, in another global hemisphere, to the sound of Ray Romano ordering Peter Boyle out of his kitchen nook.

MAKE LIKE A TREE AND LEAVE NOTHING TO THE IMAGINATION

This evening I found something interesting while trawling my favorite message board. (I suppose the correct term here would be “trawling” but this was a message board for fans of troll dolls and it’s kind of an inside joke among us Holy Trawlers. Yes, we call ourselves Holy Trawlers. I realize that probably seems confusing.) Someone had posted a review of the new RAMBO film and here’s what he had to say: “RAMBO was great.”

First of all, SPOILER ALERT! Also, you are an idiot…OR A GENIUS. Because, in a way, wouldn’t it almost be wasteful to back up an opinion of a movie like RAMBO with 1000 well-considered words full of supporting arguments, critical insight, and style? Chances are, no one put that kind of attention into making the movie RAMBO. It is likely that the two hardest working people involved in that film were the guy whose job it was to fill condoms with Caro syrup and food coloring, and the needle whose job it was to fill Sylvester Stallone’s ass cheeks with human growth hormone. (Snap! [spoken in old asian guy voice] “Levin wins…BURN-ALITY!”)

It would be perfectly fine if, instead of having to fill a few column inches with a thoughtful review of RAMBO or MEET THE SPARTANS or TYLER PERRY PRESENTS TYLER PERRY’S ‘GOD DON’T RAISE NO FOOLS’, critics like A.O. Scott could just write something pithy like “awesome!” or “stank” or “{ETERNAL FART NOISE}” and then allow themselves more time to review movies that people actually might talk about when they walk out of the theater. That way people could accurately quote reviewers’ assessments of films back to friends and blind dates as if they are their own opinions, and do it in a way that seems more honest.

[Update: for anyone else who thinks they’re game to write a RAMBO review, THIS IS HOW IT’S DONE. P.S. least convincing movie review handle ever.]

IMITATION IS THE SINCEREST FORM OF STEALING

Not to brag, but I’ve recently been plagiarized. Actually, this has happened to me plenty of times before but it’s usually the work of some 3-hits-per-day blogger (and yes I’m talking to you, Metafilter!) who has decided to cut and paste something I’ve published on this site or elsewhere on the web, and just added a little “check out what I just thought of in this very moment” intro before it.

In this instance, it was a slightly better-known source: The Times of London. One of their stringers put together a list, aimed at the ‘dating set’, called 50 Reasons Why You’re Still Single, which borrows generously and very specifically from a list I co-authored for RADAR Magazine a while back, called “100 Reasons Why You’re Still Single.” (I’ve written about that list here, and included all the items I wrote that made or missed the cut in RADAR.) One of the other RADAR writers was nice enough to point out the instance of plagiarism and, at first, I wasn’t especially concerned. Those lists we do for RADAR are goofy and I took the act of plagiarism about as seriously as I took the lists themselves.

Then I remembered that this writer actually got paid to steal our jokes, and by a much higher profile publication than RADAR. (Well, to be fair, Cesarean Sluts Magazine has a higher profile than RADAR. But still!) Upon realizing this, I was all, “I’LL DRINK HER MILKSHAKE!! I’LL DRINK IT UP!!!” But not in the good way; I mean that in the bad, “street” kind of way, like on The Wire. While I wait for other string-pullers to make sure this “journalist” (burn!) is promptly taken down, all the way to Chinatown, it’s nice to know that other sites linking to the Times London article have at least had the decency to acknowledge this list was largely swiped from RADAR Magazine. In any case, Camilla Long, I’m waving the shame finger at you! As a writer for the Tatler, how does it feel to be tat(t)led on, Miss Long??? (super value burn!)

Oh, and speaking of those RADAR lists, if you pick up the current issue of the magazine and flip the back page, you will find yet another RADAR 100, and it’s all about the ways we’re trying to save the environment…WITH CRAZINESS! And, if you live in the UK, I guess you can read Camilla Long’s identical list in the Times, with all references to “elevators” changed to “lifts.” (snap! crackle! burn!)

[Update: the offending list has been removed without apology, but the story of its plagiarism has been covered by The Guardian UK and, more depressingly, New York Magazine’s “Daily Intelligencer.” From reading the comments on the NYMag piece, it seems their editors ‘borrowed’ the facts supplied to them by a writer who must have pitched the story in an email, then made up the story surrounding those facts all by themselves while attributing them to the writer. It’s a crazy world when a journalist has to use the comments section on his own story to voice a complaint about the ineptitude and unprofessionalism of his editors. The NYMag thing was especially interesting to me because, just as Camilla Long apparently took submissions from friends and published them without any further examination, in reporting on the story NYMag kind of did the same thing. I can say this because they seem to have gone out of their way to make fun of RADAR in the piece by including this really long and not especially pointed scenario where RADAR’s editors conceived their original list together on cocktail napkins. If they’d actually done any work they would have known that piece was not written by RADAR’s editors. Maybe NYMag assumed the byline on our list was just a formality, because that is a practice to which they’re so accustomed in their own day-to-day work. (NYMag, ask Camilla if you can borrow her bucket of sand because you’ve been burned…a smidge!)]

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