"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 3 October 1996. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Hit & Run LIV



The web is a powerful solvent, to

paraphrase Santayana, who

marveled at the way American

life's combination of greed and

optimism can neutralize the

toughest idea - good or bad.

Indeed, you'd have to stumble

upon a convention of

Prozac-dosed Anthony Robbins

converts to find a site so at

once expectant and avaricious as

the rehauled AltaVista site.

Proudly proclaiming "over 9

million impressions per month,"

the software company has

completely reversed the bait and

switch it used to pull on the

luckless travelers who slipped a

digit when typing "digital".

They have, in fact, added a lure

of a different sort, as they now

sell ad banners. Among the

coconspirators stocking the pond

is c|net, the notorious

domain-name freeloaders behind

search.com. We'd applaud

AltaVista's savvy, but we're too

busy tinkering with our own site




As if it weren't confusing enough

for would-be alternaboppers, now

they must struggle with high

culture gone hi-fi. Or, at

least, that's how the PR reps

are spinning the motivitation

behind the suspect title choice

for Weezer's new album,

"Pinkerton." The album went on

sale last week, but was pulled

on Wednesday, after the

Encino-based security firm

Pinkerton Inc. obtained a

temporary restraining order

against the recording's sales,

saying that the band was trying

to capitalize on the company's

reputation. Pinkerton is seeking

$2 million in damages and a

court order barring sales or

advertising of the "Pinkerton"

album. A Geffen spokesman said,

however, that the album was

named after a character in

Puccini's opera "Madame

Butterfly," and was merely a

case of Weezer singer Rivers

Cuomo "paying homage to an

inspiration, and hoping to

enlighten a few fans in the

process." One might hope they're

enlightened too much, as they

might realize the real

bait-and-switch in this case has

to do with Weezer's talent.

Here's hoping they get a clue.



The Economist recently rolled out

the shocking news that Johnny

Can't Read, predicting menfolk

will take the back seat in a new

economy dominated by

estrogen-rich executives. But

who cares if the fellas can't

spell postcollegiate; what our

boys really need isn't higher

education - it's hire learning.

Just in time for the 100th

anniversary of automotive mass

production, Baron Schools Inc. -

a sleek new brand of for-profit

high school emphasizing job

skills - is getting a test drive

in Detroit. Baron reverses

polarity on the concept of the

magnet school: instead of

turbocharging the system with

top-of-the-line teaching, the

company fires up the bottom of

the academic barrel, luring

dropouts across district lines

by juicing the pupils with $900

a year. While critics are

repulsed by this "educational

piracy," there's no doubt it's

attracting students - and

injecting the Motor City with a

newfound enthusiasm for

arithmetic. Time may still prove

Chris Whittle to be the Preston

Tucker of the digital age.



With the same regularity of a

geriatric presidential candidate

without press aides or

Metamucil, a new Mondo 2000 has

hit the newsstands, dubbed the

"Indian Summer 1996" issue for

the few advertisers that bought

into Queen Mu's promise of a

mid-year release. While little

of No. 15's editorial content

actually cries out for analysis

- at least, not of the critical

variety - the promise of the new

remains ever-alluring. Mondo's

"Coming Soon" page not only

promos a piece on "Lunch Hour

Aphrodisiacs" - evidently for

those who just don't know how to

quit - but also "Absolutely

Nothing on Cool Web Sites."

Whether through choice or

necessity - given both Mondo's

erratic publishing schedule, and

the ongoing threats from our

favorite New Media moguls to

"shut that loss-leader down,"

today's cool URL is tomorrow's

"404 - Not Found" - we can just

be thankful Mondo didn't choose

to ride the I-way bandwagon to

fiscal solvency. If only more

print pubs would keep the URLs

where they belong: at the end of

TV spots for Toyota. After all,

that sort of tight editorial

control gives Mondo all the more

pages to devote to what it does

best - fashion spreads.

courtesy of the Sucksters