"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 31 August 2000. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Hit & Run 8.31.00



For a medium jointly ruled by one-click shopping and one-hand sex, the Web has been oddly puritan in its reluctance to combine the two in any form more luxuriant than a QuickTime movie. Masturbation is a constant theme online — ranging in explicitness from the ego-auto-pleasure of weblogs to the eros-auto-pleasure of Jackin' World. But until now, nobody had really taken the situation in hand, as it were, and created a product that truly fills a need.

Or fills something, anyway. If the Spankie is the Internet's killer app, at least it's only a little death. Basically a tube sock that you never, ever have to put on your foot, the Spankie can only be snapped up by those who fear mixing fluids and sensitive electronic equipment. It's the Platonic e-commerce ideal: Abundant supply actually creates more demand.

And for all those who claim that the only way to make money on the Internet is with porn, let this be a lesson. You can also make money cleaning up the mess afterwards.


For football fans in the Wolverine State, there's no spectacle more heartwarming than watching the Midland High School Chemics take to the sward against their archrivals the Midland Dow Chargers. No matter who wins on the brine-rich field, both teams know that ultimately everybody's working for the same company: Dow Chemical, maker of Ambitrol industrial coolants, linear low-density polyethylene resins, and seven-legged frogs. Last week, the company named by Fortune as one of 1993's "environmental champions" proved that its commitment to personal growth and a healthy corporate culture extends beyond the gridiron and into the workplace, firing approximately 40 employees at its plant near Houston for exchanging "off-color jokes, nude pictures and photos of car wrecks" via email. According to the Associated Press, this isn't the first time Dow has taken such action: A few weeks ago, the company canned 50 e-ffenders at its Midland headquarters. Finally, a company with the guts to stand up to all the jokesters who spend the bulk of their work days constipating co-workers' in-boxes with content so dismal even Mike Barnicle wouldn't steal it. As for the histrionic union official who termed the Dow firings a "witch hunt," well, isn't the whole point of a union to protect workers' rights? And shouldn't Dow employees have the right to protection from industrial Judi Dench porn and linear low-density Joe Lieberman circumcision cracks? We applaud Dow for its courageous stand, and look forward to future firings.


The new concert film The Original Kings of Comedy, showcases the bargain comical stylings of D.L. Hughley, Steve Harvey, Bernie Mac and Cedric the Entertainer; but its sharpest insight into the state of contemporary laffdom comes during the interview segment, as Bernie Mac pleads to the camera that he just wants a series, even on the WB. "Please white people, gimme a chance" Mac begs, promising not to say anything to offend The Man. In the year 2000, Mac is flattering himself if he really believes a black comedian could say anything to piss white people off so much that he couldn't get a series. Richard Pryor got rich trying to infuriate white people, only to find Whitey was too busy signing him to movie, TV, and album deals to kick him off the payroll. In theory, it may still be possible to be a dangerous black man when Public Enemy goes platinum and the new Shaft draws lines of white folks eager to see black men talk back. But we're betting Mac's whining and difficulty with the networks might have more to do with the fact that his filmed monologue is dominated by wacky anecdotes about beating his kids and observational humor explaining how, as a 42-year-old man, he can't get it up anymore. That is, any imaginable Mac-com would be a series about a middle-aged, impotent, obnoxious dad — and Tim Allen already did that.


At a recent wedding we had the extremely mixed pleasure of hearing a song called "Who Let the Dogs Out" by the Baha Men. The song is sprinting up U.S. pop charts, and the video is a favorite among Nickelodeon viewers, who have voted for it over chronic faves 'N Sync and Britney Spears. A mixture of Bahamian music called "junkanoo," a pop sensibility, and dog-barks that punctuate a catchy-as-rabies chorus, the song is exotica domesticated. Brand spanking new as the song's style may seem, it turns out that these hot young Caribbean talents actually passed through puberty some time ago. Baha Men are men, not just Boyz II Men-type-men (graybeard group founder Isaiah Taylor turned 50 last year), and their new hit is more proof of the power of weird songs to make overnight sensations out of not-so-newcomers like Bobby McFerrin and Chumbawumba. As if that's not enough, these old guys from the Bahamas are feminists. Talk about your pop anomalies. Songwriter Anslem Douglas told the New York Times that he wrote "Who Let the Dogs Out" as a way for women to respond to sexist advances from men — the "dogs" referred to in the song title. Deficient in such trendy-type pop star features as aerobics-style dance moves, Baby T's and cross-promotional deals with Burger King, the band makes for an odd fit in the American pop landscape. Does the success of "Who Let the Dogs Out" signal some sort of flea-change for pop music? Could it be that teen wunderkinds Christina Aguilera and the Backstreet Boys are on the way out? Will the Next Big Thing be feminist junkanoo songs performed by paunchy middle-aged men of color who are fond of animals? Or is the truth more sinister and less complex? Is "Who Let the Dogs Out" merely the latest in a string of summertime novelty hits such as "Macarena" and "Achey Breaky Heart," songs that achieve instantaneous popularity because anyone can sing or dance along with them? And because they can be played with impunity at gatherings ranging from weddings to barbecues to wakes, thus simulating some semblance of communal feeling among the divorcees, changelings and polygamists who haunt such gatherings?

We're going with the junkanoo-dog-music-trend theory.


On Monday, cable televison station TV Land and the Port Authority Bus Terminal proudly unveiled a statue honoring the fictional character Ralph Kramden as a symbol of the New York city transit system. By naming the Jackie Gleason Honeymooners role "America's Most Famous Bus Driver," television and transit officials gave the nod to hometown favorite Kramden over such potential candidates as Sandra Bullock, Neal Cassady, and the 1955 Montgomery Alabama city transit staff. The Kramden statue joins such prominent fictional character/place memorials as Philadelphia's Rocky Balboa statue and the suite of items celebrating the eventual birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk, not to mention the inevitable World War II memorial featuring Cleveland stage theater veteran Tom Hanks. Whether the Financial District's Raccoon Lodge bar will demand a simulated Gleason of its own remains an open question, but considering The Honeymooners' generally bleak picture of domestic life — in particular the frequency with which Ralph used to threaten bodily injury to Alice — one of the Big Apple's many shelters for battered women might consider marking its nondescript front door with another statue of the Bensonhurst bully. Indeed, the childless Kramdens may have received a more lasting mass-transit tribute late Monday evening, when an abandoned newborn was discovered at a 14th street subway station.

courtesy of the Sucksters