YOU WILL BE FIRED*

That is my message to the critic from the the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper, assigned to review P.T. Anderson’s incredible film, There Will Be Blood. After spending several column inches imagining a world where Daniel Day-Lewis literally wrestles an Oscar from George Clooney and Emile Hirsch (what is he, Kanye West?), he buttons up his review with the following solemn oath:

“I’d give blood to see the movie again!”

First of all, slow down. Has this movie taught you nothing about capitalism and the art of the deal? You don’t start a negotiation this way. We’re talking about blood, buddy. How about revising your opening gambit to something more acceptable, like:

“I’d pay $12 to see the movie again!”

I’m not going to tell you I have an “in” with the film industry, but put that offer on the table and There Will Be Blood might just take it without going through a second or third round of negotiations. I’m serious; it could be that easy. Play it cool and for $12 you just might win yourself a chance to see the movie again, with all your blood inside you.

In the event you weren’t serious about your offer and you were just making a “blood” related pun about how much you enjoyed this film, I have to say this movie might deserve a bit more. A lot of people worked very hard on this film, for many years. I read Daniel Day-Lewis was so committed to his character work he built a time machine (by hand!) to take him and the film crew back to 1898, just so they could shoot the movie in real time. So the least you could do is spend an extra 15 minutes writing your review and reserve that wordplay for lighter fare like Enchanted (“It will cast its spell on you!”), where puns planted in a movie review are perfectly acceptable. I think it’s only fair to expect a movie as carefully considered and visionary as There Will Be Blood be reviewed in kind. Because, come on—I’d give blood to see the movie again? What’s wrong? Did your editor reject your original sound bite: “Oil wells that ends well!”?

I realize this is probably falling on deaf ears because I just did a search on the Dail Mail web site and found some of this writer’s other reviews. They’re pretty flip for such serious films:

Into the Wild
“I was into Emile Hirsch’s wild performance as a free spirit who freezes and starves to death. Don’t get left out in the cold on this one!”

No Country for Old Men
“…No Country for Old Men will prove to be some country for gold men…named OSCAR!”

Zodiac
“Killer performances all around. Zodiac’s horoscope should read, ‘I see an Oscar in your future!’”

Atonement
“I must confess, Atonement is one of the year’s best. Say your prayers, other Best Picture nominees.”

Judgment at Nuremburg
“The judgment at Hollywood is in, and the Oscar court finds you guilty…of being powerfully good. With Judgment in the mix, it’s going to be a master race to the Best Picture award this year!”

Apocalypse Now
“Smells like victory. America might have lost the Vietnam War, but it will surely win the war on ‘most Oscar wins’ this year. Academy Now! “

Do The Right Thing
“Do the right thing by seeing this movie! Even if black and white people can’t get along in America, now at least black and gold people can…assuming one of those gold people is an OSCAR! After this year’s Academy Awards, I can guarantee there will be a picture of a brother on the wall…the wall for Best Directors! I would allow a black person to throw a garbage can through my window while screaming ‘hate!!’ like it was some kind of student film exercise, just to see the movie again! “

The Accused
“Tilt! Foster’s performance is nothing short of penetrating. For The Accused, I think it’s safe to say ‘no’ means ‘Oscar’! I would allow myself to be raped several times to see the movie again.”

*With respect and apologies to the late, great Walter Monheit

I’M JUST SAYING

Sure, Mike Huckabee has been gaining a lot of momentum as a Republican candidate for President. And why not? He’s well-spoken. He’s straight-forward. He doesn’t have a lot of corporate special interest groups in his pockets. He believes people with AIDS should be sent to a special AIDS island where they can’t bite us. He doesn’t believe in evolution and thinks the world is exactly as old as Jesus. What’s not to like, right?

Well, how about this? Ever since Huckabee’s dramatic weight loss (by the way, we get it. you’re not a fatty anymore. if we all agree on that point, will you please stop hurting our eyes and sex drive with all those videos of you in free-flowing jogging shorts?), he has started to look like the sniveling, craven fictional President from the televison show ’24′–Charles Logan. I can’t be the only one who sees this. Internet genie, I wish for Google-based evidence!

Whenever I see Mike Huckabee these days, when I’m not thinking about his pale, ashen legs poking out through the generous cut of his jogging shorts’ leg holes, I can’t help but think of him locking his cuckoo-bananas wife in the Lincoln bedroom the minute she goes off her meds, only to have his wife stab him and make love to their secret service guy many years later. (Again, I realize Mrs. Logan was living in a very upscale, private home for people with mental problems, and that comes with certain freedoms that normal institutions do not provide–things like shoelaces, belts, leave-in conditioner, etc. But did they really need to provide her with her own kitchen, full of gigantic, unsupervised knives? Come on, hippies. It’s OK to crack the whip just a little bit. The woman is insane, after all.)

All I’m asking is, do you want to bring that kind of drawn-out and implausible drama to the White House? Neither do I.

SERIOUSLY, YOU ARE RUINING HALLOWEEN

First of all, New York City, thank you for all your beyond-the-call-of-duty weirdness and nudity last night. Halloween is always special here. I got a really late start last night, as I was up against a strict writing deadline on All Hallow’s Eve. (Thanks for that, whatever the Halloween version of Scrooge is!) Still, at 11:15pm the uptown 1 train did not disappoint with its volume of nonchalant insanity. Special props should be awarded to:

  • Puerto Rican Edward Scissorhands (Why are Hispanic teenage boys so moody? And why is their moodiness almost always expressed by dressing like The Crow?)
  • Heavyset teenaged girl smashed into train car, asking her friends, “was that the same guy who tried to put his finger in my butthole?” as if someone trying to put his finger in your butthole is a curious matter, rather than a felonious or emotionally-scarring one. Girl Power!
  • The three nearly naked young ladies–sized small, medium and xtra-large–waiting together on the subway platform at 27th Street. Good luck, ladies. I’ll catch up with you later, when the last few hours of your lives are fictionalized on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (Or, if you’re really unlucky, amateurishly re-enacted on FOX-TV’s “Amazingly Dead and Raped Teenagers.”)
  • The crazy not-American couple not wearing costumes at the costume party last night, and who may or may not have been Belgian (as some people insisted) but were more than likely Portugese or maybe even Brazilian. Remember when you came up to me and my girlfriend, grabbed us both, and screamed, “We love it we love it we love it–WHAT ARE YOU?” Man, you were NUTS. The best kind of nuts.
  • The two ladies dressed as female American Gladiators, Ice and Zapp. You were both totally on your game. Nice one.
  • Guy dressed as a vending machine, trying to hail a cab on lower Broadway. Thank you for providing the kind of quiet urban poignancy that people really love to blog about. Tip of the hat!

And, sorry to end on a sour note, but I’d like to call a moratorium on this costume:

Seriously, cut that out. Buying an afro wig, then wearing sunglasses and a fake (or worse, real) gold chain and telling everyone you’re “a 70s porn star,” just doesn’t cut it anymore. You’re not a 70s porn star. You’re a weird fabrication and possibly the most unimaginative person in the room. That’s just not a costume. It’s more of a “douche teaser”–something to let you know the person wearing it is not the best. At all. 70s porn star costume, you are in the PENALTY BOX. Now take a seat next to that guy dressed in a pimp costume that came in a plastic bag and fits nicely over a Banana Republic dress shirt and chinos. YOU ARE RUINING HALLOWEEN.

WHERE THE COREYS WENT WRONG (A 478-PART SERIES)

After watching the first episode of A&E’s The Two Coreys, I knew I would never watch it again. I realize that’s a very easy statement to make, and probably (hopefully) one that many other viewers have made and will honor. However, my reasons were very particular. It wasn’t because the show is being packaged like a sitcom, when it is much more obviously a “sad-com.” It wasn’t because of how obviously staged and awkwardly resolved every conflict is in the show. (The premiere episode included the following three scenes in quick succession, without any development between them: A) Corey Haim is feeling “messed up” and decides he needs to step outside Corey Feldman’s house and “take a walk”; B) Corey Feldman and his wife, Susie, sit on their couch together and wonder, out loud, if Corey Haim is going to be OK because he seemed “messed up”; C) Corey Haim, who has no job and probably not much money, returns from his walk with an expensive vase in a Tiffany’s box—a very-belated wedding present for Feldman and his wife. Really? Corey Feldman’s mansion is right around the corner from Tiffany’s? Haim just walked a few blocks to Tiffany’s? And dropped several thousand dollars on, of all things, a sort of tasteful crystal vase? That’s how Corey Haim’s mind works? Wouldn’t it have been a bit more believable if he’d returned with a gift card for Armani Exchange or Jamba Juice?) And it wasn’t because all the shots of the Coreys shade-tippin’ in leather jackets upset my delicate stomach.

I had to stop watching the show out of a very personal frustration, after realizing the producers had squandered an opportunity to create the best celebrity reality show in television history. I mean this sincerely. I’ll explain.

At the beginning of the first episode, the Coreys are invited to attend a special 20th anniversary screening of their masterwork, The Lost Boys. Forget that the screening was obviously manufactured by the show’s producers, and was held in what looked like a Boy’s Club auditorium in Schenectady, NY. Or that, at one point, Feldman explained to an audience member that he would consider doing a sequel to The Lost Boys “only if it were done right” i.e. with a camera that wasn’t built from a cardboard toilet paper roll taped to an empty box of Crunch n’ Munch, and painted black. The most salient piece of information to come out of that screening was a suggestion, from one of the Coreys, that they write the sequel to The Lost Boys themselves.

When I heard that, I was riveted. I thought, “Oh, that’s pretty smart. The whole arc of this show will be the Coreys (and the third, less handsome, less formerly drug-addicted Frog Brother) hammering out a script for The Lost Boys 2, and trying to sell it as their comeback film.” The best and most realistic scene in the premiere episode of The Two Coreys was watching them sitting around Feldman’s kitchen table, spitballing the plot of The Lost Boys 2. Haim following up his meandering, unfocused idea about “limited psychic vampire powers” with the statement, “Wait. I have one more totally awesome idea,” showed so much promise. Imagine a whole season of that.

Now, take the “revelatory” scene at the end of the episode where Feldman confesses that Lost Boys 2 is actually in the works, as a straight-to-DVD feature, and that he’s been asked to cameo—but Haim hasn’t!!—and pretend it never happened. It was a cheap device anyway, greedily played for a brief moment of tears, but it represented very short-term thinking on the part of the show’s producers. WHAT IF…Corey Feldman hadn’t known about Lost Boys 2, either? It would be very easy to keep that information from him. What if neither of them knew? And the entire season of the show was devoted to the two Coreys brainstorming, scripting, calling former friends to lock down casting, and then pitching LOST BOYS 2? And then, in the final episode, the producers shoot a scene where the Coreys are at a Blockbuster video and see, on the new releases shelf right next to Leprechaun in Tha Hood 3: The Glimmering, a copy of the straight-to-DVD film, Lost Boys 2? While the Coreys have just spent 13 episodes writing and pitching their own version of it, calling in favors, burning bridges, getting into arguments, hinging all their hope on the new script—the film already existed as some junky DVD with a bunch of soap opera actors and hip-hop artist, The Game? The mind reels.

I don’t wish any additional harm to befall either of the Coreys, but it would have been so easy to keep those guys in the dark. Their combined commitment to fantasy is so rich and enormous that it blots out any real sense of reality. They wouldn’t conduct research. They’d just plow forward with their script in total ignorance, and it would have been amazing. Like Windy City Heat, with somewhat known actors, instead of a shrieking homeless man. Instead, though, A&E has decided to follow the absolutely winning box office smash formula of You, Me and Dupree and, as a result, American TV viewers have lost something very, very precious.

WHY WE DON’T NEED GAWKER

I’m sorry, Gawker. You have had some lovely moments, but the Internet doesn’t need you anymore. Same thing goes for you, TMZ. And you, PerezHilton. (Actually, the Internet never really needed you.) And every other half-catty, half-fawning media monument to celebrity gossip. Whatever void in popular culture into which you were heaping your 1,000-word posts and two-page layouts dedicated to showing how celebrities are “just like us” has been filled, permanently and perfectly, by this: Planethiltron.com.

I am not overstating a fact when I say that the best of this site is by far more elegant and nuanced and gracefully to-the-point than anything I’ve seen in any other celebrity-obsessed publication, broadcast or work of art. (Nice try, Jeffrey Koons!) Nice work, Planethiltron. And everyone else, your work here is done.

LOOKING GOOD, AMERICA

In case you’re wondering about that photograph, it’s a screenshot from last night’s Republican Presidential Candidate debates. Candidates for President of the United States. Of America. Twelve of them, to be exact. Why are those three candidates raising their hands, as indicated in this photograph? Because they were asked by the moderator, “Is there anyone here who does not believe in evolution?” And apparently Senator Sam Brownback, Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Representative Tom Tancredo do not believe in evolution. They are in our government, and they think man was created by Jesus Dustâ„¢ or molded from divine Play-Doh found in God’s toy chest. See you in the White House, gentlemen!

To make it worse, here are some other questions asked of the panel that received an identical response from these three candidates:

“Do any among you believe one can contract AIDS from watching ‘Will & Grace’ in high-definition?”

“Anyone here afraid of werewolves?”

“Who still asks for Christmas presents in his prayers?”

“I am thinking of throwing incendiary devices at a Planned Parenthood after this debate, and I’ll need some experienced help in making Molotov Cocktails. Any volunteers?”

“I don’t suppose there are any candidates who think Jews are actually prehistoric lizards who control a more powerful, parallel government?”

“Holy crap. OK, I know I’m going out on a limb here, but is there anyone up there who still thinks cancer is caused by goblins living inside your organs? Don’t say anything, but you can raise your hands while I look down at my notes.”

HOW TO FINALLY ADMIT THE CRUCIFIXION WAS SOOO 33 A.D

Over the last two days, I have been questioned almost incessantly about the new issue of TimeOut NY, because it features a a cover story on “The New Super Jews.” While I am not specifically called out as a Super Jew – “should have studied your Torah portion harder, bitch,” was the message my synagogue’s cantor left on my answering machine – I guess people felt they could poll me as a representative of the tribe, hoping I would be able to tell them what it was like to finally be regarded as cool. As cool as pan-Asian cuisine or Red Hook, as cool as taco trucks and mukluks.

Honestly, at first it felt funny but it quickly started feeling shitty. When I think about how much backlash Williamsburg and moustaches have received on Craig’s List, I can’t help wondering if Jews are next. Is reducing a rich, ancient culture to a fleeting slot on some weekly’s hot list (including an endorsement by the always-reliable Courtney Love, who claimed “Jews are cooler than fucking Billy Corgan and forgetting where I left my baby.”) going to do anything for Jewish people? Or will it give anti-semites a convenient way to sublimate their hatred as just a harmless reaction to media-appointed hipness? I can see people rushing to their blogs, furiously deleting their negative opinions about Rick Moody, just to be the first to trash the new hot Jews. Am I going to start suffering entries like, “I guess it’s easy to announce your trendy new status when you OWN THE MAGAZINE!!! And the media! And RGB color!! And the original Gutenberg press!! And the Orlando Magic!!!” and “I guess if you want to be cool now, you just have to parody shit with Yiddish, huh, Jews?? Oh wait. Check it out, I’m a Jewish MC and my name is “Slim Schvitzy.” Aw yeah. Dr. Dreidel. MC Schmegegge. I’m in Run Daled-M-C and I’m about to drop my new album Raisin’ Bagel. YOU ABOUT TO GET MORE LIFTED THAN THE BRIDE AND GROOM DURING THE HORAH. FOR 8 MILES AND 8 DAYS I’LL LIGGITY-LIGHT YOU UP LIKE A MENORAH. MOTHERFUCKERS WANT TO BITE MY HAFTORAH, THEY BETTER RECOGNIZE! SUKKAH MCs KEEP YOUR SHIT CORRECT OR I’LL BEAT YOU LIKE A LULAV AND GET GLATT ON YOUR ASS, FULL-BLAST, THEN STOMP YOU HARDER THAN A WEDDING GLASS. I’LL SPIT L’CHIAM WHILE I’M WATCHING YOU DYING!!!!

Or will the attention swing the other way? Will there circumcisions on St. Mark’s Place? A Cadillac Ark? A copycat Exodus? Will they have to excise that part of the Bible so dumb Nebraska teens won’t wander in the desert for 40 years without Powerade, just to be cool? Will I be fetishized like silk panties or Asians? There are so many exciting questions this new article raises. In fact, I was so moved by the piece that I actually did something I rarely bother to do: I wrote a letter to the editor of TimeOut. Don’t know if they’ll publish it but at least we can have it for ourselves:

Just read the “New Super Jews” issue of TimeOut NY and I have to say, as a representative NY Jew, I think it’s adorable that your publication considers Jewish people the new Williamsburg. There’s nothing quite as gratifying as discovering your several thousand-year old culture is finally doing something cool enough to make ink alongside stories about “Yoga for Dudes” and guys who pop boners when they imagine themselves strutting around in low-rise jeans. In your face, Hitler!

Very much looking forward to your upcoming issue about how black people are doing hip and interesting things, too.

Shalom (that’s our hip, secret word for “later!”),
todd levin

I can’t wait until I get rounded up…FOR THE V.I.P. ROOM!!!

THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS

OK. I didn’t want it to come to this. I really didn’t. I am a very busy man. This month alone, I am opening three Quizno’s sandwich shops in Brooklyn and Queens, so I hardly have time to discuss past dalliances and present beefs. Unfortunately, some people make that impossible.

Today, Christian Finnegan posted a very authentic-looking photograph of me in what seems to be an old Bob Fosse production. Fine. It’s true. We all have a past, and it only hurts us when we deny it. Vin Diesel grew up with liberal Jewish parents in the West Village. Peter Jennings never completed the fourth grade. Kissinger was a shoe-freak. And, briefly, in college, I experimented with modern and jazz dance. I made a lot of great friends back then and I’m still in touch with many of the dancers, costumers, and choreographers from my college days. They were good days! Sadly, I’ve lost many of them to Billy Joel musicals and Mohegan Sun revues, but whenever I’m in the theater district I still receive an excellent discount on glitter.

There is almost no reason to be ashamed of the past, if only because it is forever linked to one’s present character. In fact, even Christian has a past he’s had some difficulty escaping. (for pretty obvious reasons) I’m sure many of you have seen the classy graphic treatment at the top of his site. But, after a quick scan through his images folder, I found something interesting. “Drivel!” is surely a very funny (and accurate) thing for Christian’s choppy little head to pronounce to his readers, but it’s a bit noncommittal. It seems the original image planned for his site was a bit more outspoken. Meet the real Christian Finnegan. Only God can judge him now. (thankfully, god is jewish.)

See you at the Gershwin tomorrow night.

TREMBLE ROLLS ON 24″ SPINNERS; FINNEGAN ROLLS ON DEODORANT

Everyone knows me as a very religious man. Therefore, it’s not so unusual for me to pray nightly for Christian Finnegan to be raped. And, because I have a close relationship with the man upstairs – you may recall that we met at an Internet café in ’98, updating our web sites side by side, and we’ve rolled together tighter than a Philly blunt ever since – I can expect a prayer answer rate of 99.3%. I’m just saying…

As you may have heard, via Star and Buc Wild’s morning show on HOT 97 in NYC, or Blog This! magazine, this site has been involved in an ongoing online beef with Finnegan’s “Tower of Hubris.” (and honestly, i can’t think of a more fitting name for that site, with the possible exception of “Who Farted?”) Would I like to see this beef end? Of course. It’s taken too many lives already. Word.com. Feedmag.com. Stim.com. Suck.com. Spiv.com. Flooz.com. Biggie.com. Tupac.edu. What happened to all these sites? Natural causes? Or the direct result of Finnegan’s psychotic scramble for online power?

Today, Finnegan has taken what started as a cheap, though partially true, joke about my mother, and turned it into a series of specious personal attacks. Worse still, I woke up this morning to find that my iPod had been stabbed. Will it ever end?

Finnegan spits vitriol on his site with regards to our beef, but before you rush to judgment here are some facts:

FACT: On today’s entry, Christian compares my fans to Bulgarians at a Michael Jackson concert. This is because Christian is racist.

FACT: Yesterday, Christian claimed he is “not a fan of hip-hop” but likes the “wackier” stuff like Kool Keith. Making a statement like this is akin to saying, “I’m not a fan of rock and roll but I really like that Weird Al Yankovic” or “I’m not a fan of black people but I know the name of one of those guys – I think we learned it in school. Was it Fred Sanford?” or “I’m a racist.” (see above)

FACT: Today Christian claimed I live my life in imaginary quotation marks. He neglected to mention that those quotation marks are made of imaginary solid platinum, and are lined with imaginary mink fur. He also neglected to mention that he lives inside quotation marks as well, right next door to the words “bi-curious”. (in fact, he just moved there from his old neighborhood, “not fair! you can’t strike out in kickball!!”)

FACT: tremble.com has been down since 1998, and was an old-school tilde account before that. Tower of Hubris has been around for slightly less time than Sisqo’s “Dragon” clothing collection, and has even fewer supporters.

FACT: I was on the “Increase.com the Peace.com: Repairing the Blogger vs. Diaryland Schism” panel at last year’s Web DevCon. Halfway through my slide presentation, three shots were fired from the back of the lecture hall. I was uninjured, thanks to my kevlar smoking jacket, but one of the bullets grazed that “I Kiss You” guy, and his sunglasses were knocked from his face. Fortunately, the sunglasses were also unharmed, thanks to the sunglass strap, donated by Micron Computers, one of the sponsors of the conference. Christian Finnegan was unreachable for questioning, but later claimed he was doing a stand-up comedy “road gig” at the time. An investigation is pending, but I’m still pretty sure even cursory detective work will prove that there is no such comedy club called “The Hee Spot.” Nice try, Finnegan. Or should I call you “Attempted Murderer-egan?” OK, I won’t. But only because it’s a very cumbersome name.

FACT: It’s true that I have several “ironic” t-shirts, but it is also true that Christian Finnegan has a very unironic vagina.

FACT: Finally, Finnegan claims that I have a more powerful readership, but he has all the cred. I ask you, does this look like a credible man?

head is actual size

Check out that face. The caricature on my home page is more flattering. I haven’t seen image quality that poor since the R. Kelly urination sex video. (i received a copy from christian’s mom, who was the key grip on that production.) Dude, what happened to that picture? It’s more blurry and pixilated than a Mafia rat’s face in a 60 Minutes interview. How are you supposed to represent without PhotoShop skills? That’s the first order of the online streets.

Finnegan, you chain-snatching, beef-starting, 80s pop culture-adoring hater – when are you going to squash this nonsense? You’re attacking me. You’re attacking my readers. (who, as you can see from your rocked comments boards, know how to defend themselves.) You’re attacking American values. When will you recognize that my site is more phat than triple-cream and more popular than triple-platinum; you’re still trying to make it to double-plastic. Let’s end this now. If I have to spill another shot of Moxie soda in memory of my dead online homies, I’m going to short out my keyboard.

SENSITIVE THUGS, Y’ALL NEED HUGS

What the online community finally needs: an online beef. Enough of this cordial “congratulations to us!” attitude. Squash that “best gay/lesbian/bi-friendly blog, canada” web award b.s. Just in time for The Drama King Kay Slay’s official label debut, my friend Christian has opened up a web beef with me on his site. Check out his May 5th entry. Then please contribute to the entry’s “comments” and show him you have to give respect to get respect.

(i’m going to shoot him in his face at the Source Awards. shh. don’t tell!)

I wish more web sites would do this, but in a more organized fashion. Take someone else’s entry and then write an entry based on it, tearing it apart with witty, unpredictable talent and natural game. I wish…

Homepage photo: Lindsey Byrnes
Site design & code: Erik Frick