Archive for August, 2006

Paris Hilton

Monday, August 28th, 2006

Paris Hilton in Diapers

During the summer of 1982, I worked as a lifeguard at the Rye Town Hilton in Westchester County. Hotel guests were mostly a mix of business travelers, relocating families, and elderly Manhattan escapees. I spent my days lugging and positioning lounge chairs for old men with bad backs, and waiting for a chance to blow my whistle. Finally, I witnessed a violation of the clearly
posted pool rules — one far more disturbing than running on the pool deck or taking two bounces on the diving board: a bikini-clad blonde stood in waist-deep water holding a baby in diapers. Immediately, I blew my whistle and barked, “No diapers in the pool!” Unfazed, she turned and said, “I’m Kathy Hilton. Does that make a difference?” Unfortunately, it did. In her arms was little Paris. —Adriana Gardella

The Blogosphere’s Neutral Ground?

Monday, August 28th, 2006

Trailing only about a month behind, the Washington Post took a look today at how civilians in Lebanon and Israel used their blogs during the recent fighting. It’s obviously a little late to the party, but it is worth reading. I especially liked the writer’s take on why blogs became the outlet and refuge that they did:

The Lebanese government forbids its citizens contact with Israelis. But keeping a lid on the Internet is a bit like trying to shovel sand with a sieve. And in the midst of war, scouring online for views from the other side has been one way for Lebanese and Israelis to alleviate the terrible sense of the impotence of standing by as their countries bled. Thousands of people, often posting in English, seem compelled to try to make some sense of the chaos — or, through personal narratives, to help debunk stereotypes and misperceptions.

The Continuing Saga of Lonelygirl15

Monday, August 28th, 2006

So you all remember Lonelygirl15? Of course you do.

Well, see, here’s the thing - Lonelygirl15’s videos are good. Like, really good. Like, some people think, too good for your average homeschooled girl to do on her own, especially given her subject matter, which might well be boring in the hands of someone less skilled.

So people are asking questions. Is Lonelygirl15 the next J.T. LeRoy? Jon Fine seems to think so; Virginia Heffernan, who is perhaps slightly obsessed with the topic, is coming around to the skeptic’s side. Even the forum on fan site is dominated by the “is she or isn’t she?” question - and the “isn’t she” side seems to be winning.

As for me, I don’t know what I think - though I do know I want her to be real. I do think this is coming to a head, though, and I’m interested to see what happens, either way.

Going Graphic With 9/11

Monday, August 28th, 2006

It won’t be long until the last chapter of Shooting War is here (ETA is Thursday). Until then, we see that others find this storytelling form a good one to explore. Like our friends at that scrappy little site called Slate, which is presenting a chapter a day of Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón’s The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation. It’s brilliant. SlateGraphic

And then there’s Liberality For All, a nasty bit of graphic novel business that envisions the dystopian future in which “a Leftist dominated nightmare where there is only one justified type of war…the war against Conservatives and their ideals.” Our friend Paul Riekhoff, who tipped us off to Liberality For All, calls it “the anti-Shooting War.” Yet just as we give voice to those who believe the government caused 9/11, when a story’s presented in a novel way, we’ll let you know, whether we like it or not.

Time-Lapse Storytelling

Saturday, August 26th, 2006

The patterns we make as we get on with our lives reveal a lot about us, often inadvertently. This was certainly true for the AOL users whose search histories were made public recently.

Occasionally, if we look at these patterns from the right angle, a kind of beauty emerges alongside (or maybe deep within) the information.

One of the most striking examples I’ve seen of this recently is a work by Aaron Koblin, an MFA graduate of the Department of Design|Media Arts at UCLA, called Flight Patterns. It’s a hypnotically gorgeous visualization of air traffic over the U.S., based on data from the FAA.

To see it in action, click on the image below.

Flight Patterns

Katrina Comes Calling

Friday, August 25th, 2006

The August 29 anniversary of Katrina is nearly here and media small and large are offering overviews of all kinds, often eyeing New Orleans from a wide lens. At SMITH we’ll be doing what we always do: unearthing and offering the little guy perspective. One way of looking at New Orleans comes via artist and writer Josh Neufeld (author of the genius The Vagabonds, contributor to American Splendor and member of online comix collective ACT-I-VATE) whose book Katrina Came Calling, details his time as a Red Cross volunteer in hurricane-ravaged Mississippi. katrina_sm.jpg

Josh self-published this book himself (and sells it for $7 from the link above) and it’s a great, indie, timely, smart, and personal perspective from the Big Easy. He writes:

In October 2005, shortly after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, I served a three-week stint as a Red Cross volunteer in Biloxi/Gulfport, Mississippi. Taken from my online journal and illustrated with photographs, Katrina Came Calling is an intimate look at my reaction to the hurricane; signing up for Red Cross training; getting deployed; the conditions in the Gulf; working with the survivors; a visit to New Orleans; Port-a-Potties; my co-workers; issues of race, religion, and regional background; returning home; and much more. Being a public forum, my blog was read and commented on by people from all over the spectrum: not only by my friends, associates, and regular readers, but by other Red Crossers past and present, and by Biloxi-area survivors and former residents. Many of those comments (and my responses to them) are included in Katrina Came Calling, a unique marriage of print and the ongoing conversation of the Internet.

Backstreet’s Back, Alright

Friday, August 25th, 2006

So regular readers of this blog may already know that I have a bit of an obsession with the two people I thought were called the “Chinese Backstreet Boys.” Turns out - nobody tells me anything - that they’re actually the “Back Dorm Boys,” and that they’re a cult sensation in China, which once again proves that, as a nation, China has excellent taste. (Exhibit A is, of course, the fried meat dumpling, in my mind mankind’s single greatest culinary invention. For God’s sake, the best my people ever came up with was gefilte fish — and have you ever smelled that stuff?)

Anyway, Wikipedia has - surprise, surprise - quite a bit of information on these two; they’ve apparently just graduated from art school and have signed a deal to be spokespeople for Motorola in China. And here, for your viewing pleasure, is their latest video.

Kevin Kline

Friday, August 25th, 2006

Riding in the Car With Kevin Kline
By Caroline Waxler

Almost two years ago when the issue of stem cell research was the new JonBenet before JonBenet 2.0 became the new Iraq, I went to an event to raise money for the cause. Kevin Kline, the main draw of the party, was the featured speaker. Stem cell research was his issue apparently; he’d been educating audiences about it everywhere he could.

The party, held in a loft in Murray Hill, was fun. Typical Manhattan political fundraiser. Lots of thirtysomethings looking for love and/or new jobs and/or new clients before hitting the next party of the night where they will look for love and/or new jobs and/or new clients.

But I digress. Back to Kevin Kline.

So, after Kevin gave his talk — very moving, by the way — my friend’s friend, who was thinking of starting a consulting business matching up celebs with causes, cornered him about potential future projects. They were talking for a while and the party began winding down. Not ready to call it a night — we were planning to go on to another party (political, too) on Central Park South — and went over to tell our friend that we were ready to split. Kevin was very nice and surprisingly offered to give us a ride uptown. A lift in Manhattan! From a celebrity! Yes, thank you.

KK, as I began calling him in my head, had parked his car in a lot around the corner. Ever the gentleman, he went down to get the car, as we stood on the sidewalk. And, just as we were feeling weird waiting for our celebrity chauffeur, up comes KK in his SUV. Throughout the ride, he was very charming, making small talk with us about our jobs and making self-deprecating comments about himself.

Since he was running late to his own dinner party at his apartment — I imagined Phoebe Cates, arms crossed, waiting for him in an apron—he asked politely if we didn’t mind getting off at Madison and 59th. Not at all.

And, off he zipped uptown.

Sex Stories We Don’t Tell

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

Sex stories. Now man, there have to be so many sex stories that go untold. I’m talking honest, real sex — everything from the tender moments to the horrific horror stories. These stories are “private.” They’re “just between us.” “I don’t kiss and tell,” people say. I know in conversations with your best friends or new lovers or whatever, you might get into the details. The nasty details, the laughable details, the my mind was freak’n blown details — still though, people hold back. And yes, I’m aware of all the erotica sites, but in terms of real people talking about real sex (and not selling a $15 a month subscription or some kind of product) and putting their names on the dotted line, they’re just isn’t that much out there, even in this day of the anything goes internet. (and before the internet, what was there — Little Birds by Anais Nin and Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller?)

One person who does put it all out there is Rachel Kramer Bussel — who, among many other things, writes the Lusty Lady column for the Village Voice. I was thinking about this one column she wrote about having hot sex with a porn director, and in particular, this exchange:

“The sex was rough, intense, and powerful, the kind that may be routine for him but made me convulse–and squirt. I was overwhelmed. I asked, ‘What are you doing to me?’

‘Fucking you the way you should be fucked,’ he said truthfully.”

Now that seemed very honest, and sort of ridiculous, and very real, because, come on, it’s frenzied sex talk. But my point here is, Rachel put it down on paper and it was published in the Village Voice with her name on the byline.

I asked her how she felt when she wrote that column, and how she factors in the fact that her words are going to be published and out there for all to see. Here’s her response:

Shooting War Art

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

Due to popular demand for his art, especially the good work we’ve been happy to showcase here, Shooting War artist Dan Goldman has opened up an online shop. He sends this note:
Your Loving SHOOTING WAR Artist here with a very exciting announcement:

I’ve just created the magical online shopping adjunct to my website, shopdotdangoldmandotnet. For starters, I’ve got really beautiful limited-edition prints from SHOOTING WAR and “Kelly” (and my new post-SHOOTING WAR jam 718 too).

All prints are digitally output onto rough burlap using archival-quality inks and are hand-signed, stamped and numbered to limited runs of 50. They’re also priced for everyone, not just the rich kids.

Click my goofy aqua face to enter the shop and thanks again for enjoying all our work.”

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