Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Man” was an accomplished performer. When his star was on the rise his dossier included amazing feats, like parallel-parking a Concorde SST, teaching Ghandi how to cook rice pilaf, and arm-wrestling a flea with a pair of tweezers.
Outstanding stuff, but what’s most interesting about the ad was not him so much, but why all the hotties dripping around him like burst tubes of K-Y Jelly had no voice in the commercial narrative.
Hold on, let me guess! After 50+ years struggling for equality women finally cracked the glass ceiling, to bag prized roles as concubine mutes fawning over a decommissioned soldier-of-fortune afflicted with an ambivalent partiality for tepid lager and curvilinear babes on the prowl for easy wallet. That it?
But wait, isn’t this 2015, the age of enlightenment, where interesting men seek out like-minded women to match wit and intellect? Or did we relapse into a neo-dark age, where males are hard-wired to hog the spotlight, and females are herded into galleries to swoon admiringly at troglodytes with no detectable endowments except bulging packages set on auto-pulsate.
Or maybe I read too much in the commercial. Maybe Dos Equis only wanted to sell beer, while promoting the message that an interesting man should never be upstaged by a woman, moreso if her last name is suffixed with “PhD”. Because in Dos Equis’ view, women are merely subservient ornaments, and based on their deafening silence they're happy carrying the message. Anyway, girls gotta pay bills, too, right?
Long time ago, Virginia Slims marketed a cigarette to women with the pitch “You’ve come a long way, baby.” Dos Equis begs to differ – you’re back to the starting block.
Okay, now I get it. Now I’ll shut up.
Adam Richman, star of “Man vs. Food,” earned notoriety for devouring titanic quantities of edibles at eateries throughout the US. After 3 years of suicide by a 1,000 mouthfuls, Richman had enough and turned the page.
Good for him. During his tenure with Man-v-Food, his weight rode a roller coaster. Most likely Food Network compensated him well for the abuse, so at least he could walk away with the economic freedom to pursue sensible choices.
Good for the US too. If we’re in the throes of an obesity epidemic, the popularity of extreme shows like Man-v-Food sends a mixed message. Are we serious about combating manic munching or not?
In Richman’s case, money made the difference. It let him remodel his waistline and remedy his psyche. But what about the less fortunate? Where do they go for nutritional advice and good eating habits? Do we kick 'em to the curb of the free market, where Count Chocola and his crew of sugar-saturated gang-bangers and super-sized Mac-whatevers jockey for consumer wallets? Is that where we send them?
Here’s a better idea: send for Michelle.
She’s the go-to girl for the ABC’s of sustainable grazing. Under her stewardship, the national vegetable garden has flourished and yielded a blue-ribbon harvest. Hers is the indisputable voice for healthful eating and living, tirelessly extolling the benefits.
Tirelessly, that is, when she’s not “sneaking out” to Five Guys for a fiesta of bacon cheeseburgers and upsized fries. Remember – to build strong bodies, do what she says, not what she does.
Lunch time! Daily special is the “Agrigento Pastiche,” a scrumptious medley of roasted peppers, mushrooms, artichokes and mixed greens, with a mouth-watering order of mixed messages on the side.
In the Spring of ‘09, shortly after Dubya saddled up and rode off to Crawford, a band of scrappy Somalis in a motorboat set out to test the new guy in the White House.
The pirates’ target was the MV Maersk Alabama, a US cargo ship steaming along the African coast. Their goal was to extort lotsa moola.
The heavily-armed thugs knew Dubya would respond to terrorism by kicking fanny a dozen ways to Sunday, but they didn’t know what the new guy would do. Perhaps since Barry’s last name rhymed with Osama, he’d sympathize, roll-over and make nice. They tossed the dice and for several suspense-filled days, drama simmered on coastal waters. On day three, crackerjack Navy Seal snipers skewered three of the pirates and the party was over.
Euphoria erupted. The Seals were commended, Obama gave himself a high-5, and Capt. Jack Phillips got a movie with Tom Hanks in the lead. Everyone feasted at a banquet of sumptuous hoopla for jobs well-done.
Everyone except Hillary. As Secretary-of-State, her role in ending the pirates’ caper was critical, yet not chronicled. A fearless innovator and master planner, Ms. Clinton crafted a scheme daring in content and precise in delivery.
In the vaults of the pre-fog bloggery is a page from the cookbook of the thug-buster herself. So, listen up, thugs and presidential contenders: the Somalia experience shows Hillary’s got the stuff to mix it up on campaign trails or pirate-infested waters.
What? The Benghazi debacle? That was one of Hillary’s flops, an impromptu recipe of volatile ingredients that exploded on the serving cart. And the fact that American lives were lost? Accidents happen. Foodies call this “uncomestible” – unfit for consumption – just what we’d expect from a future Commander-in-Chef whose words are hard-to-swallow.
“Mama said there’ll be days like this,
There’ll be days like this Mama said.
Mama said Mama said.”
(The Shirelles, 1961)
Indeed! But Mama didn’t have a clue about today.
It didn’t start that way. In fact, just the opposite. Let’s back up 7 hours:
The first jolt of java barely completed its morning rounds, when an idea came to me for a quick label (a “short-handle”?) for “Ka-BOOM!” Since the content of this blog combines writing (“Post”) with a cartoon (“Toon”), it made sence to call it a "Post-Toon.” Of course!
Yes! I liked that! Then the pace kicked up another notch. An idea for a post that had been floating around in my head this past week, vaguely defined, suddenly began to consolidate. The pieces started falling into place. BOO-yah!
Now, it’s at moments like this when an idea begins to actualize that things can go awry. Experience says to move quietly and with measured purpose. Otherwise, tenuous ideas tend to frighten easily and go POOF!
I. Did. No. Such. Thing. I was jazzed from the hot rush of new ideas and my nerves were jitter-bugging with fresh java. My bearings dissolved, my acuity severely compromised and I got giddy. A second jolt of java completed its rounds, exacerbating the effects of an already volatile cocktail of mental and muddle, and giddy got me.
At moments like this when giddy gets out-of-hand and takes command, experience says to move quickly to a different endeavor. Kick-boxing, Line-Dancing, Deep-dish pizzas, whatever. Anything’s better than watching tenuous ideas go Ka-BLOOEY!
You think I listened? You kidding? Fortified with a third cup of java, I raced upstairs to the workroom, jumping eight stairs at a time, fevered mind jamming with ‘toon-jabber, nerves jangling like a five-alarm bell at Engine Company Ten, body jerking and twitching. I can do this! Three hours flat, start-to-finish! Slam-flippin-dunk!
Skip ahead 7 hours – present moment. A landscape of digital mayhem stares at me from the desktop where ‘toons are made. From the looks of it, this is the kill-shop where ‘toons are maimed. Wha’ happen? How could so good an idea go so bad?
Wrong exit? That tenth cup of java? Bad 'toon idea? Mama never said.
imitates life. Life imitates art. When the trajectory of art imitating life aligns
with the arc of life imitating art, what results is a confirmation of the sameness
of everything under the sun, with subtle variations as we'll see.
So it is that advertising, first cousin to art, brings us actor Stephen Dorff, pitch-man for Blu electronic cigarettes. Blu’s hook is faux-smoke, with a dose of swagger and without offensive odor. It’s an edgy, chip-on-the-shoulder campaign exhorting gullible young men with the message that the objects of their swagger, i.e. hot young women, are swayed by the audacity of swagger, moreso when accompanied by streams of odorless smoke aimed into their faces. Nice touch, Blu.
Dorff nails the role, and, curiously, turns in an outstanding imitation of a down-on-his-luck bag-man agonizing over a career so mired in mud that the only way to pay rent is to pimp for purveyors of black lung disease. But maybe he’s not acting. Maybe he’s thinking how’s he’s gonna ream his agent a new garbage chute for landing him the gig.No matter, because Dorff’s tortured demeanor screams vulnerability, and nothing sets a young babe’s heart a-flutter quite like the countenance of an angst-ridden baller with a 2-day stubble who clouds her vision with EPA-approved levels of smog. Wow! Maybe Blu is onto something! Vulnerability lures, but it’s swagger that sells. Just ask the ladies.
And so it is that politics, life’s bastard progeny, produces an actor of another sort, O-Barry-O, who after five years squatting in the White House while learning how to chip out of a sand-trap on the taxpayers’ tab, has yet to grasp the concept of a live mic.
Last week at the conclusion of an economic conference, with an open mic nearby, the Divot-maker told an African dignitary that he stopped smoking 5 years earlier because Michelle “scared” him into quitting.
But wait! The First Lady’s fright-capacity didn’t have the cranking amps to scare Barry straight, because he’s still slave to nicotine. Now he chews Nicorette gum. Tons of it, based on maintenance logs of the cleaning staff who scrape big sticky wads of the stuff from beneath the big desk in the Oval Office.
Memo to the Chief: You’re still a nicotine addict, ya bonehead! The delivery system you use – cigarettes, hookahs, snuff, or chewing gum – is irrelevant, and failure to note the distinction makes you a dope in denial, and pretending to be otherwise makes you, well, a dope in denial.
Make no mistake, though, the prez is master of the game. When he’s in dope-on-a-rope mode he’s untouchable and laser-focused like a Ninja. His adversaries can’t formulate strategy because they can’t fathom the phenomenal calculus of opportunities available to only dopes like him.
No matter, because Obama’s Ninja demeanor is ultimately a mask to conceal screams of vulnerability – his inner wussy – and nothing sets a-flutter the heart of a meddling smotherer, than the pathetic stutter of a Ninja blubberer in the gutter of another utter. Now we’re onto something. Swagger lures, but it’s wussy that sells. Just ask the First Lady.
Budget negotiations qualify as adversity. In this drama, the adversarial characters are Congress and the President. While they differ in name and style, both are suited-up for battle in gear made from similar character material.
Congress likes money, lots of money, and burns through it with the pace of a counterfeiter rushing to stay a step ahead of the feds. The President likes money, too. He spends it with the frenzy of a foodie with an open line of credit at stuff-your-face buffet.
The short bio for these characters reads as follows: Congress thrives on pork, while Obama sates his inner porker. If government has a system of checks-and-balances, it doesn't work here – both characters are out-of-control gluttons.
The economy is wobbly, revenues have slowed and the federal budget is fated to explode. Yet it doesn’t occur to these gluttons to tighten their belts and reduce consumption. Washington is called the “Beltway” for good reason; it wears its belt on the last notch. Role model characters? You bet!
The trademark of a leader is doing, not jawing. Strong leaders never command constituents to carry out orders they personally ignore. Deeds reflect the character of someone to follow and respect.
During times of adversity, a nation needs strong leaders. Where do we find someone to fill the bill? From whom do we draw inspiration? Congress? Too risky. Or maybe the house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?
If the fat guy in the cartoon resembles the skinny guy in the White House, it’s not a coincidence – the comparison is paradoxical and intentional. It’s paradoxical, because Skinny WH Guy will never get fat and he can eat all the junk he wants. It’s intentional, merely to point out that as the nation’s Hypocrite-in-Chief, he can snort barrels of baked brie, while we graze on bushels of raw spinach. What a character!
If the budget war copies the same strategy as the war on obesity, Skinny WH Guy shows how to win. Last month in Iowa, he made a pilgrimage to his favorite eatery, Ross Restaurant, where he ordered four “Magic Mountains,” the house specialty – “…grilled Texas toast topped with loose steamed hamburger meat, piled high with a choice of French fries or hash browns, homemade cheddar cheese sauce, as well as two Volcanoes, which is the Magic Mountain with the addition of a scoop of 5-alarm meat chili and onions on top.”
Worth noting: the restaurant is a 24-hour operation, an ideal command post for a leader to showcase his non-stop subservience to hypocrisy. How's that for a character with "character?" Positively entertaining.
Every culture has a method for measuring success. The stock market rises and falls with the hemline. In the ‘60’s when the mini-skirt barely concealed women's upper thighs, the Dow Jones Industrials got regular peeks at a chorus line of steamy summer cuts. In the ‘70’s the maxi-skirt dropped to the ankles and hid a sulking DJIA and an economic funk that was the trademark of Jimmy Carter’s 4-year experiment with incompetence.
Popular culture measures success by raising the bar of excellence to lower and lower depths. These days, entertainment splashes around in a subterranean vat of lurid vulgarity where the applause-meter is set to respond only to F-bombs, simulations of sexual congress between primates, and anything that extols the virtues of farts and fecal matter.
The downward spiral of popular taste is pioneered by Sarah Silverman, a faux comedienne who excavated a career from the lower colon of banality by imitating a turd. Or listen to the Grammy-winning song “F-ck You” a witty ditty performed by a 3rd-tier gargler named “Cee Lo Green,” frequently mistaken for “See Mo’ Green,” not far wrong considering his "song" had 30 million hits on YouTube.
“Hits,” as you probably know, is 21st century buzz for saying a performer laughs all the way to the bank while others calm their stomachs with Tums. Art is a reflection of the culture that burps it up. One reason heart-burns like these gain in popularity is because the majority of pop culture consumers think style means class. Well, there you go. Urp!
Earlier this year a young lady peeled off her panties for a vid-cam and plopped her bootay into a gooey cake. The video was a stupefying visual of dimpled flesh squirming in chocolate mousse, topped with a game-ending – ta-DAH! – fart. If hits on YouTube is a criteria, then performance art saw its finest entry, ever. The girl’s act can still be seen on CakeFarts.com, but it got 20 million hits before it was banned on YouTube.
Fashion editor John Malloy wrote a column called “Dress for Success,” where he stated the highway to fame was paved with a natty wardrobe. OLD school alert! The NEW school yardstick is the Yiddish word “dreck,” code-word for cheap, worthless, trash, or more to the point, shit. Dreck for success Yo! C’mon! We know you want it! 15 million hits of fame is yours for the drecking.
Vincent Van Gouda, artist & critic
Wang Tzao, an immigrant to
One morning in the middle of crowded Broadway, he fired up his grill to prepare breakfast. The spicy smell caught the attention of a police officer who rushed to investigate.
“Who are you and what’re you doing?” the policeman asked.
“Wang wokking,” the Chinaman replied.
“Well you’re under arrest, bud, we got laws against that!”
Fortunately for Wang, the officer failed to read his Miranda rights. Next day at the arraignment the judge noted the omission. The case was tossed out and lucky Wang wokked free.
A synagogue hosted a culinary fund-raiser. The dessert competition was judged by Molly Fishbein, Esther Rosen and Dora Katz.
Hundreds of pastries and liquid concoctions lined the social hall. Two entries were sensational. One was a three-layer chocolate torte soaked in cherry liqueur and topped with pistachio shavings and mint cream rosettes. The other was a light aromatic herbal beverage distilled from the wax-drippings of a nine-stem Hannukah candelabra.
The gooey decadence of the torte engaged Molly and Esther's palates while Dora was enchanted by the delicate bouquet of the steaming beverage.
The women deliberated then put it to a vote. The torte took first prize because it received Molly and Esther's two votes thereby forming the majority. Dora's choice came in second since her vote was, unfortunately, the "Menorah tea."