Monthly Archives: January 2007

Rollo Tomasi at the Scooter Libby Trial


“Would you be willing to plant corroborating evidence on a suspect you know to be guilty?” –Dudley, LA Confidential

Ari Fleischer testified on Monday that at his first meeting with Scooter Libby, at a restaurant in July 2003, the first thing they talked about was football. This struck me as either strange or a lie—if two senior administration officials needed to sniff each other’s non-intellectual credentials to establish trust, then why not baseball, something at least in season? But it all made sense after I heard they were talking about the Miami Dolphins. This was code, Miami being a homing beacon for American perversions of political power. (Since it’s topical to my earlier arguments on Florida’s phallomorphism: Dolphins? Are these surrogates in some pre-teen girl’s fantasy? Why not Miami Unicorns? Miami Magic Wands?)

Fleischer then described how Libby communicated Valerie Plame’s CIA identity: “He said it was hush-hush, on the Q.T. and that most people didn’t know it.”

Which is to say, in his desire to get across it was an enticing secret, Libby fell back on quoting the gossip reporter from the opening lines of L.A. Confidential:

Hudgens: “Remember, dear readers, you heard it here first, off the record, on the Q.T., and very Hush-Hush.”

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Everything’s coming up Moses

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Well. It seems that my long-held, but largely never followed-through on, plan for a major museum retrospective on the accomplishments of Robert Moses has finally been usurped and staged by, of all things, professionals.

The first fruits of this bi-borough spring of Moses extravaganza is the new wealth of Robert Moses iconography that has appeared on the Internet in connection with these museums’ “Watch out, they’re ignoring Robert Caro” marketing angle, and that is now available for the surfing desk potato’s enjoyment.

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H.H. W.H., 88


Howard Hunt, the clue that set Woodstein off on the, er, chase for the White House connection to the Watergate break in, has died. In Miami.

THE ADDRESS BOOK. Beside the name “Howard E. Hunt” is the
notation “W.House.” Now, BACHINSKI hurriedly opens the other
book to the letter “H” and there is the same name, “Howard
E. Hunt” and beside it, the letters, “W.H.”

COP (V.O.)
What’d you find?

Beats me. These notebooks belonged
to Cuban guys?

COP (V.O.)

It’s gotta mean either White House
or whore house, one or the other.

We HOLD on the HUNT name, and the address notations. Then–

That’s from Goldman’s screenplay. You’ll remember that in the movie Woodward got this info from over the phone. This shows that the truth was still evolving at that time. The Times obituary states that only one of the burglars’ notebooks, not the movie’s two, had Howard Hunt’s contact info. But one notebook has less gotcha, there isn’t the same narrative oomph in following all the notebooks’ leads. One improvement of the script: the “whore house” slur. It conjures the illicit sexual undercurrent also suggested by the Deep Throat name.

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Morrissey, representations of in contemporary art


I snuck over at lunch on Thursday to check out Ryan McGinley’s photographs of Morrissey fans, Irregular Regulars. What hits you first is the way the audience in the photos is bathed in the maxed-out colors that pour over from the stage. In a sort of LSD-synaesthesia effect, the colors seem to show us how the music overwhelms them, how these fans are experiencing a transcendent-ecstatic moment. In some of the photos, you almost sense they’re experiencing the moment of transcendence before destruction. Check out this girl, she looks like the Nazi in Indiana Jones right before the ark melts his face off:


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Lived in Bars

I got wind of this Cat Power video after it was on so many best of the year lists. It’s sweet and I like it, but I’m not sure I want to like it. It breathes life back into the shopworn beauty-in-old-people’s-faces aesthetic, but at this late stage, shouldn’t we be sending that genre out to pasture? Taking it out behind the barn for an old yeller moment? The pain in the wrinkles trick isn’t emotion anymore, it’s cheap sentimentalism, a visual shortcut just like to the overuse of strings in weak ballads.

Yes, this time the people in the video are drunks, and that helps, and that guy in the house is William Eggleston. But much of it treads on territory already claimed as far back as Joan Osbourne’s day. Which is not to say there are no formal differences between Lived in Bars and What If God Was One of Us: the man in angel wings plays a trumpet in Cat Power’s video, in Joan Osbourne’s it’s a woman in the angel wings riding a skateboard. But the videos make the messages feel more similar, meaning Cat Power runs a dangerously close line to the pablum generated by the Oprah-American Idol complex. Every lonely life is precious.

Pitchfork: Top 25 Music Videos of 2006

Notes on the Keys, part one

“Maybe I needed to return to Florida. Because it had always been my staging area. A place to collect my thoughts, and to gird my loins, for combat with the island of Manhattan.” –Kelsey Grammar, So Far

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Just got back from the Florida Keys, where Katie and I went camping for New Years. Because Delta’s ingeniously dickish new plan for getting out of bankruptcy is randomly bumping up departure times without notifying the passengers, we spent all of Saturday hopscotching our way down the East Coast’s airports. The usual airport limbo sensation was worsened by looping stock footage of Saddam Hussein gleering down at us in every lounge. There will certainly be TV news in hell. While trying to buy a magazine, I caught Andrew Card reminding an anchor, “We shouldn’t celebrate the death of Saddam Hussein, so much as we should celebrate the new life of the Iraqi people,” because clearly the former would be in poor taste.

It was a weekend of high profile deaths, and this psyched me up for what would surely be the highly anticipated bucket kicking of Fidel Castro on New Years Eve. History would shine its light on my vacation group, putting us smack down in downtown Key West at the precise moment that the Cuban people put his Adidas-wearing mortal frame on a boat and send it north to Florida. And we would be there, at America’s contentious southernmost point, as thousands of Cuban exiles, Republican hardliners, Floridian drag queens, Hemingway acolytes, and cruise ship passengers would pour out into the street, lighting up cigars and drinking mojitos, for the Orgy of Freedom celebration, as a makeshift conch shell some businessman stuck on the side of a bar drops at midnight to ring in 2007. There was no way Castro could make it another day. This, here, was historical determinism at work.

But Castro’s ghost never showed. Seems people down in Cuba live to be 115, on average. It’s the magic combination of rum, cigars, diesel cars and lack of economic opportunity. We may have Castro to kick around for another 30 years. But I’ll get back to the Castro thing.

It is hardly original (though surprisingly entrepreneurial) to claim that, when positing the American body politic as an organic living creature, Florida would be its penis. (Or, per Maude Lebowski, America’s “dick or his rod or his Johnson.”) Hardly original, but I still think it would be fun to really hammer the analogy into the ground.

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