"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 6 January 2000. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Hit & Run CCIX



With the big millennial milk

carton now past its expiration

date, it's important to look

back at the things that mattered

to us the most. If only there

were any! According to the

former Kenneth Gorelick, for

instance, our glorious century

is a series of familiar sound

bites, sandwiched between his

music and our (supposed)

collective memory. In the

G-man's "Auld Lang Syne

(Millennium Mix)," from his

album Nothing but a G Thing,

such unforgettable phrases as

"Oh, the humanity!"; "Mr.

Gorbachev, tear down this wall!";

and "I did not have sexual

relations with that woman."

follow one another like cows on

a stun line, soothed by the

hirsute musician's mellow

stylings. But what do these

vacuum-packed little cadavers

have to do with anybody's

memory? As history, not much.

But for the generations of

Americans raised on Time-Life

Books (or, more likely,

commercials for Time-Life

Books), a summary snippet is

more than a reminder of history;

it is history, or the next best

thing. Still, you would think

all that canned heat would

deserve better than an

elevator-music score. The least

the 20th century deserves is a

spirited John Williams score, or

a "Stairway to Heaven"–style

rock opera. Something with

punch. But maybe it's for the

best; incidental scoring is

still better than a grand theme

song like "Deutschland

Über Alles."



Was it pure coincidence that so

many celebrities shuffled off in

the very last month of the

millennium? Some of those we

lost, in descending order of

importance, were Gene Rayburn,

Curtis Mayfield, Hank Snow, Rick

Danko, Madeline Kahn, Clayton

Moore, Shirley Hemphill, and

Joseph Heller. George Harrison

was lucky to escape with only a

stab wound. Apparently, it

doesn't pay to hold on to this

mortal coil too tightly. Boris

Yeltsin wisely offered up a

professional sacrifice to the

grim reaper and made it into

the new year just in time for

free shots. (Meanwhile, Bob Hope

has expressed, well, the hope of

lasting into the 22nd century.)

Although the news of these

expirations has come to us

through carefully worded press

releases, few — if any — news

stories have included pictures

of the bodies. Is it possible

that the recently deceased are

alive and well and living in an

Arizona hideout, waiting to see

what Y2K brings? The dearly

departed comprise two legends of

country (Snow and Danko), two

sardonic wits (Heller and

Rayburn), two consummate

comediennes (Kahn and Hemphill),

and two crusaders for justice

(Moore and Mayfield). Like minds

flock together, and who is to

say that this synod of the

forgotten could not remake a

better America from the ashes

than the lunatic fringe, which

stands to inherit the earth?



The stream of angry email that

continues to arrive in response

to Suck's editorial about last

month's World Trade Organization

disturbances shows both an

unsettling uniformity of tone

and a convenient tendency toward

the dismissive, conveying a

flippant "If you don't like it

move to Cuba, Pinko." But one

subgenre of response deserves

further comment: the one

criticizing us for assuming, on

the grounds that Disney's

Tarzan remains France's top box

office draw, that that nation's

moviegoers are not averse to

enjoying American-made

entertainment. We apologize for

imagining that audiences decide

for themselves how to spend

their money and honestly admit

we did not know that Delta Force

commandos are even now

paragliding into foreign

countries, rousting honest

citizens out of their beds and

forcing them at gunpoint to

support Hollywood's rotten

products. Frankly, the whole

controversy over France's

embattled film industry has

always seemed a bit puzzling,

and we suspect the situation

might be helped if the

Republic's auteurs would just

make movies about more

crowd-pleasing topics than drag

queen funerals and the dreary

copulations of bored

schoolteachers. It turns out the

situation is even worse than we

thought. To wit, France's top 10

movies of the Christmas season,

as compiled by the daily

Le Figaro:

1. Tarzan
2. Le fin des temps (End of Days)
3. Le monde ne suffit pas (The World Is Not Enough)
4. Ou presque (Just Married)(Runaway Bride)
5. Himalaya, l'enfance d'un chef
6. American Pie (American Pie)
7. Le fils du français
8. La bûche
9. Dans la peau de John Malkovich (Being John Malkovich)
10. Un mari idéal (An Ideal Husband)


Clearly, French audiences are

trying to show some patriotism,

but they're being betrayed at

both the commercial and artistic

levels. The national cinema

controversy has always carried a

vague assumption that France is

still churning out Truffauts and

Godards with regularity, or at

least that it is producing

movies that are in any way

distinguishable from our own.

Sadly, La bûche, an

Emmanuelle Béart

Christmas vehicle, which one

Suckster had the misfortune to

sit through during an otherwise

excellent Air France flight, is

as banal an effort as anything

Nora Ephron could have concocted

for Meg Ryan (look for Gary

Marshall to direct the remake

any day now). In what may be a

fatal insult, it turns out that

the one recent French-language

film of real artistic merit

— the feel-bad schlepic

Rosetta — was actually made

by Belgians. Take a hint from

The Blair Witch Project,

which, incidentally, made diddly

squat (ou presque) in France.

The problem isn't insufficient

budgets or lack of protective

tariffs. It's that since Marc

Caro went to Hollywood (to

direct the finest of the Alien

sequels), 90 percent of French

cinematic product has been

pure merde.



Speaking of hate mail: It's a

none-too-well-kept secret that

the Web's most useful

application (not counting porn)

is verbal abuse. The best abuse,

of course, comes from verbally

challenged emailers who know

that since they didn't pay

anything to read your stuff,

they're free to can the Mr. Nice

Guy routine. And while we're

proud of our own collection of

semi-literate email

vituperation, our hats are off

to "Myth Buster" Mike Fumento,

whose Hate Mail page ranks among

the finest we've seen online.

The aptly named Fumento has set

himself the impressive, if not

admirable, goal of being the

most irritating human being on

the planet, and he follows a

shrewd principle: If you're

going to be an asshole, be a

really meticulous asshole. His

writings dissect, in thorough,

well-sourced detail, various

public "myths" — of

heterosexual AIDS, of Gulf War

Syndrome, of domestic abuse,

etc. We take no stand on these

various controversies, but the

controversialist deserves some

praise. A sloppy commentator

might class Fumento as a

right-wing or libertarian nut;

but like all good troublemakers,

he defies easy categorization.

We're nonplussed to find there's

a Mike Fumento Web ring, but as

his articles — replete with

tales of editors, military

officials, and think-tank goons

telling the author to fuck off

and die — can attest,

Fumento is a man who relishes

his enemies. Like any diabolical

genius worth his salt, he knows

the elegance of simplicity:

Publish unexpurgated (but

painstakingly sic'd) angry reader

mail decorated with the

hoariest of all animated GIFs

(you know the culprits: the

yapping skull, the vampire in

the window, the lunging dragon).

Then write hilarious, diagnostic

responses (decorated with an

image of the sun, presumably to

represent the light the author

is bringing into the world).

Dress it all in an oddly

pre-postmodern conviction that

you alone have access to The

Truth, and anybody who disagrees

is an idiot or an

imbecile or both. Fumento's

willingness to get down in the

mud with his enemies actually

strikes us as more efficient

than our own attitude of

Olympian disdain (which you can

be sure we're as bored with as

you are). We're also hoping Suck

readers may come up with newer

and better forms of hate mail.

(Just so you know: "You suck,"

"You guys really do Suck," and

"Ordinarily I like your page but

today's just sucked" no longer

cut it.) But for the time being,

the Myth Buster enjoys top

honors. Keep those cards and

letters coming.

courtesy of theSucksters