Wednesday, September 6, 2006

If you’ve been following this column with any regularity at all, then we imagine you can picture us pretty accurately: two bald yet notably virile men glistening with up-to-date cultural consciousness, simultaneously watching four video screens that are tapped into a satellite network of both mainstream and marginal entertainment, listening to obscure podcasts, perusing the hottest “blogs” and YouTubing in a smaller corner window—all while reflexively turning away the namby-pamby advice of our pollsters and media consultants and being served dim sum on the naked bellies of our harem of no-longer virginal Indonesian female mathematicians. Pretty accurate, actually—though we have to note that the mathematicians are also damn good at playing strip backgammon.

dietmtndewribbon(forweb).jpgYou’d be wrong, however, to think that we simply recline all day on our imported gold-silk futon, pleasuring ourselves to reruns of Nip/Tuck and brushing the Cheeto dust off our hands if it gets too thick. Not entirely true. We are men of range and searching intellectual interest. We are men with an active sense of the real world, even if we find that real world horrifying, scandalous and insufficiently stocked with Diet Code Red Mountain Dew. No: we are men with up-to-the-minute opinions about fashion, literature and intellectual property law.

The proof is right here in what we are finding unsettling this month—stuff that one must actually encounter in real life (with several exceptions because, you know, there is some TV in “real life,”—right?). We are large; we contain multitudes.

lifeisgoodshirt(forweb).jpgThe “Life Is Good” T-Shirt
You have seen this, certainly—a high quality, “yarn-dyed” T-shirt in a Martha’s Vineyard-y faded orange or blue, with a little post-Haring cartoon smiley face guy engaged in a sport that you are to imagine the wearer has a particular affinity for, with the affirmation in a smarty-pants script just beneath it, “Life Is Good.” Also available in hats, socks, and doubtless boxer shorts and other intimate apparel.

We have nothing against T-shirts with messages on them 1. But what troubles us primarily about the shirt at hand is that the person who wears it rarely seems to believe the sentiment it expresses, but rather to have donned it in an effort to will himself into believing as much. Which makes it a true affirmation in the high 80s self-help sense—“I’m good enough, I’m smart enough”—but still not the sort of thing appropriate for a T-shirt with a smirking little Schmoo-man too busy golfing to come mow my fucking lawn.

Gentle “Life Is Good”-shirt-wearing populace: it (i.e., life) is not (i.e., good)! Not in any deep and abiding sense, and your grimace betrays your knowledge of same. Life may be rich and interesting and layered with the utterly fascinating prospect of what it’s like to find yourself thinking about your root canal at the same time that you discover and old but remarkable well-preserved Cool Ranch Dorito in your couch cushions—a typical day, we suppose for most Americans—but “good” is plainly an oversimplification that glosses over even the our most nacho cheese-flavored pleasures. We recommend to you instead the T-shirt made by a private acquaintance of ours from our callow youth; rendered in black (like our hearts), it shares the following irrefutable sentiment: “Knowledge is Power. Power Corrupts. Study Hard. Be Evil.” Take off that smarmy noblesse oblige $25 pima cotton bullshit and assume the position like the rest of us.

pauly_shore_weasin(forweb).jpgOther Cats Weezing Our Juice2
Just to show we are in fact Equal Opportunity Decriers [see D.M.T. Print Edition (not yet in bookstores but soon to be so courtesy of the good people at Yankee Pot Roast who are finally standing clear of This Internet Business for a while, stopping with the twenty-something text messaging, and actually making something that can be held in your hand other than your dingus) where we lovingly caress The Daily Show line by line], we refer here to that smarmy youth on the Comedy Central weekday opus who enjoys a place at The Right Hand of God as their “trend spotter.” O.K.: Our beef isn’t really that he is doing our shtick; we know everyone else is ripping us off3, and we suppose imitation is the sincerest etcetera, especially when it’s by the bug-eyed no-sleep, Harvard Lampoon veteran TV comedy writers who we know have us bookmarked and check us hourly to see if we have something, ANYTHING, for them to lift and milk and call their own in the Monday morning marathon writer’s meeting. We actually feel kind of sorry for those guys.

dailyshow_cast_of(forweb).jpgNo, the problem is that he’s playing it (gasp) for laughs, channeling that proprietary T.D.S. smirk into cultural-tea-leaf-reading instead of defusing the currently baleful national situation, and we are a little insulted. This is serious business, boyo who has wronged us4. Not that we don’t like to have a little laugh at ourselves as well, but, like Donald Fagen and Walter Becker5, we enjoy laughing with you just about to the point when you reveal yourself as really not getting it in the first place, at which time our wrath is unsheathed. And, vaguely ethnic Princeton boy, you Do Not Seem To Get It. Look—the core problem is that you are not that funny. We DO want to see a LOT more of that “resident expert” guy. And NEVER see what’s-his-name Black again, whose grouchy kvetch-o-rama does to T.D.S. what a rain delay does to a nice day at Wrigley Field. Samantha Bee, on the other hand, can pretty much write her own ticket. She’s like a big scoop of vanilla ice cream with two cherries on top.6 7

Pants-Off Dance-Off
There is nothing at ALL Disquieting about P.O.D.O.—currently in heavy rotation on “Fuse TV,” which apparently aspires to be MTV’s kid sister who didn’t go to college and is still buying Winstons for underage kids at the Cruzers—but we feel the need to express our misgiving that it didn’t happen sooner, and that more television doesn’t feature regular people in their underwear (we also imagine we have expressed this sentiment previously, so achingly do we feel it, but our cross-referencing department is shorthanded today—we are, in fact, neglecting the end matter). shipmates_reality_tv(forweb.jpgIn its bracingly frank embrace of what we REALLY want television to show us, it resembles most of all the seminal “Shipmates”8, that brilliant link between Love Connection and Survivor: Kalamazoo that we all so sorely miss9.

infinitejestcoverimage(forw.jpgContemporary Monsters of Fiction Writing Toss-Off “Late Books” That Are Better Than Anything Really Should Be on This Forsaken Planet
We now decry the fact, simply, that David Foster Wallace, Jonathan Franzen, and Michael Chabon have defiantly refused to create any new, full-length works to satisfy our desire so ardently piqued by their previous Magna Opi (Infinite Jest, The Corrections, Wonder Boys —although The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay was so good we give it an extra two years of Hip Shelf Life, not least because we saw a hot chick reading it on the bus last week10. And in our frustration at this situation, one of us picked up just such a late-career toss-off by an Acknowledged Literary Monster (specifically, The Plot Against America, by Philip Roth) and was summarily blown away. Damn, that’s a good book. Really. Until one of the aforementioned young Turks gets off something longer than a travelogue essay11, we hereby authorize even bleeding-edge types like yourselves to begin rereading the back catalogs of actual grownup authors like Mr. Roth, Salman Rushdie, E.L. Doctorow, and—gulp—John Updike12. If you can squeeze it in around your New Yorker, Blender, and Stuff reading load, which remain compulsory13.

nip-tuck-050927(forweb).jpgOh: and none of this “reading” kerfuffle may interfere with your Nip/Tuck obligations. Presumably you have been boning up on your back story like we all have from 11 p.m.–2 a.m. on Saturday nights this summer. The long wait is finally over. September 5th on FX, baby! Bring the Kink!

Next Edition: The Shocking Disquietude of Modern Technology, particularly cell phones which—let’s face it—just don’t work nearly often enough.

1 dizzyforpres(forweb).jpgWe also learned in our youth, and learned well, that T-shirts are not the place to affirm one's worth but rather to CREATE it by allying oneself with specific cultural entities by maneuvering to stand in the blowback of cool emanating therefrom. Thus the sartorial success of several such shirts in our own private chiffarobes: "Dizzy for President," our Rush T-shirt with the Dalmatian on it from 1982's Signals tour, the precious faded black Zildjian cymbal shirt. Some of these are so crumbling that they are no longer worn, but are rather wrapped in acid-free paper for the next generation.

2 Forgive us, reader, but we are compelled to cite this title as a reference to Pauly Shore's seminal early-90s character "The Weasel" as popularized on MTV and, especially, his magnum opus Encino Man, which boosted lesser thespian Brendan Frasier as the titular "Man" into Oscar nods and carnal contact with Rachel Wiesz while only hastening Pauly's eventual status as second or third string on The Surreal Life, in case Bridget Nielsen gets a pimple or something. Among our people, such a citation would be gratuitous, even insulting; sad fact is, we just don't know who you are anymore, so lost are we in the demographic cross-marketing eddy that is 2006.

3chelseahandler_wow(forweb).jpgHerein, witness--submitted to the creative staff of The Chelsea Handler Show (broadcast on E!) by your humble authors and co-executive producers of D.M.T.:

Dear writers:
We love your show. Chelsea is just the sort of brazen pop goddess we like to think sucks down our column "Disquieting Modern Trends" (at Yankee Pot Roast) like a Red Bull Popsicle.

So we were THRILLED to see our work prominently featured in a recent episode! Namely, our "Eva Longoria: Overexposed" bit, which was used as a "Celebrity Jumble" on an episode we saw last week (you'll find it in our "Back to Basics" edition of December 2005, thoughtfully archived by the good people of Y.P.R. here.

We love that we are inspiring high-end L.A. writer-types like yourselves. It only confirms that we live smack on the cusp of the zeitgeist, as befits our documented status as C-List Blogebrities. At any moment, we are sure those cats at The Colbert Report are going to ring our Treos and fly us in for some high-level back-and-forth over Chinese food.

But I imagine they will credit us. Next time, maybe you'll do the same?

Go Chelsea!

Will and Ed

4 We don't know if you got that one either, but we can't slow down the whole class right now.

5We couldn't begin to summarize such masterful work; see for yourself here.

6Jon, it's not about you. Who can find good help these days? We are all short staffed. Still waiting for that call. I mean really, we could wail on that "Trends" thing. We'll even get tummy tucks if that's what Comedy Central is requiring of the on-air talent these days. It's not dignified of us to beg you, but we assume you won't mind the case of single-malt we just had FedExed to your trailer ...

7We think this is a reference to the Christian Slater vehicle True Romance, but frankly it's all starting to swim together a little at this point.

8Sing we now of Shipmates! Although we still catch reruns once in a while at 3 a.m. on WOR, a review is probably in order. Shipmates functioned in the absence of any of the current rules and gimmicks that constrain the genre (buses where competing women behave cattily toward each other, labyrinthine rules about when and how anyone gets "voted off" or otherwise Given The Carnal Congress Heisman). On Shipmates, the formula could have been (we imagine, was) fully developed on the back of a daiquiri-soaked coaster: put two strangers on a three-day low-rent booze cruise, vaguely commission them to consider screwing each other, and film them at all times. The result is irrefutably both hilarious and hot, at least to bottom feeders like us. With irresistible logic and compelling simplicity, Shipmates set the pace. We salute you, Shipmates. Scha-wing.

9chuck_Woolery_undaunted(for.jpgA word here about Chuck Woolery, the gargantuan-headed host of Love Connection for all its 11 glorious years. Woolery was also the original host of Wheel of Fortune, was in a band called Avant-Garde, and had his career nurtured by the one and only Merv Griffin--a giant both in the talk-show and game-show worlds. We can only say that Mr. Woolery--married four times and with his own line of motorized fishing lures--is a role model for us all. His vapid smirk and easygoing charm have sustained him in a lucrative career that he explicitly knows could not exist in a better, healthier society. In the reality show devoted to his own existence, Chuck Woolery: Naturally Stoned, we discovered a man of uniquely American self-regard, self-consciousness, and media exploitation. We say: our hats are off to you, O Chuck Woolery. Shine on and on and on, you crazy Lingo-hosting genius. We have instructed our team of Filipino sculptors to begin work on your likeness in the center of D.M.T. Plaza, pronto.

10Clearly we should take notes--really, how may hot chicks read the D.M.T.? O.K., new contest: if you are a hot chick who loves the D.M.T.--or, really, even a female regardless of your Caliente Factor who digs our prose--please, drop us a line. We would like to contest our Demography Team's insensitive assertion that our work is "puerile to a level that makes Cracked look like The Economist," and that "no woman would ever be caught downwind of such bald display of middle-aged sexual anxiety and warmed-over late-90s hipness." We think more highly of you, ladies, believing that our particular mix appeals to anyone old enough to turn off the ratings blocker on their digital cable. Thank you.

11D.F.W.: Wait! Don't blacklist us! We love the essays too, to distraction! "Big Red Son" is now on all our syllabi! (Which was a hard case to make for the middle school class, the department head raised an eyebrow.) We just want more nutrition, something a little more filling!

12See our forthcoming inspirational text, Everything I Needed to Learn about Teenage Lust and Howling Despair I Learned from the John Updike Story "A & P."

13StuffCoverLarge(forweb).jpgThe Stuff thing is a joke. Don't read Stuff--heaven knows we don't, but we understand it to be a shopping magazine for men, a sort of précis of all the fashionable and interesting gadgets marketed to the 20-something gentleman that he doesn't have time to actually track down. Sort of like Playboy, but without the fiction. We venture, young gentleman, that if you don't know what to buy yet perhaps you are not really a man at all, and Pottery Barn and Pier One are not pouring their money down the drain by sending you a glossy catalog every other week. You don't need to buy a magazine to shop like a man! We offer these guidelines to any young swains who are confused: (1) Hard Target Searches only. "Pants" is good. Also, "All Cotton Shirt for Work." "Shoes That Look A Little Hipper Than What We Presently Wear But Not Like Those Of Our Students and Children." (2) Speed of the essence. 20 minutes top from Initial Engagement to Acquisition. This pace clears the cobwebs of deliberation that hobble so many of our sisters in their retail pursuits. (3) Food Court. If you can still find an Orange Julius, so much the better. Otherwise, get a Smoothie. Vitamins!

Wedding Weekend ... Sha La La La I realize that you come to Yankee Pot Roast not to hear about our daily lives, which involve day jobs and other such nonsense. Instead you seek us out, or stumble across us, to get a daily dose of humor...
Nick's Guff
Aileen Gallagher Up in the Guff Spot [Editor's Note: This installment of Guff is brought to you by the lovely and talented former Black Table editor, Aileen Gallagher.]

It only takes a sentence to get out of babysitting for life.

Two acquaintances of mine are recent fathers. One joined the club about a month ago and another a few years ago. Both of these men are writers and I see them around at parties and readings and bars.

It was after a reading that I repelled them. I’ll allow for the fact that I’d been drinking for a while and otherwise might have kept this observation to myself. But I was right, as you’ll see.

Continue reading... here.
Better Buy a Bea. They're Buttah! Do you love Bea Arthur--the idea of her, the curliness of her mop, her vapid approach to both comedy and life? Then wear your heart on your chest with these first runs. The first non-CafePressed Bea Arthur T-shirts are...

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.


RSD | RSS I | RSS II | Atøm | Spanish

Support Submit
From the Y.P.aRchives
Fun, Fickle Fiction (for Free!)
Fact, Opinion, Essay, & Review
Spectacular Features, Calendrical Happenings, Media Gadflies
Poetry & Lyric
Advice, How To, & Self-Help
Semi-Frequent Columns
Letter from the Editors
Disquieting Modern Trends
Interviews with Interviewers
One-Question Interviews
The Book Club
Media Gadflies
Calendrical Happenings
Correspondence (Letters To and Letters From) Letters from Y.P.R. Letters to Y.P.R. Birthday Cards to Celebrities Pop Stars in Hotel Rooms Shreek of the Week of the Day Polish Facts: An Antidote to the Polish Joke The Y.P.aRt Gallery Illustrious Illustration Photography Photomontage Graphic Design Logo Gallery What's Up with That? Fuit Salad Nick's Guff Vermont Girl The M_methicist Daily Garfield Digest New & Noteworthy Contributors' Notes Et Cetera, Et Cetera, Et Cetera The Y.P.aRchives

This journal is powered by Movable Typo 4.01.

Y.P.R. & Co.