"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 30 January 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Hit & Run LXIX



Rioting Albanian stockholders? We

agree with the government - they

should've known better - though

President Sali Berisha may have

been ill-advised in encouraging

his country's neophyte

quote.commies one way or

another. What's hard to

understand is how the turmoil

has come to be described as a

revolt against "Ponzi schemes" -

after all, what's capitalism but

a pyramid scheme where the

losers die, with any luck,

before they go broke? Our only

problem with Ponzi schemes is Ponzi.

And if our favorite pyramids are

only as good as their top

bricks, well, perhaps Berisha

could've simply advised his

countrymen to avoid blockheads,

buy bitheads, and short




Today, the leading edge of the

holy scimitar parting fools from

their money is wielded at the

Nuremberg-style rallies of

groups like the Promise Keepers

(for men only) and Women of

Faith (strong enough for a man,

but made for a woman), groups

whose very slogans - including

"Christ: The Real Thing" and

"His Pain, Your Gain" - suggest

the invisible hand of a

half-clever religious-right

media machine. A recent Women of

Faith gathering in Cincinnati,

however, received a write-up in

the New York Times this week

which rather missed the point,

we thought, emphasizing as it

did the way our collective

"longing for transcendent

meaning and deep public distrust

of established authority" was

producing mass movements

"outside the control of

traditional denominations and

religious leaders." Um, yes, but

what about the $49 ticket price?

What about the bookstalls filled

with Barbara Johnson's Splashes

of Joy in the Cesspools of Life,

or Patsy Clairmont's Normal is

Just a Setting on Your Dryer?

What is so hard to understand

here? Say it with us, everyone:

Who needs the tax-exempt status

of a "traditional denomination"

when your only goal is to ascend

to a higher class?



The hefty tome, with its implicit

promise of depth and

objectivity, is the worst format

for Camille Paglia's particular

brand of preening, scattershot

didacticism - savvy careerist

that she is, Paglia's been

trying to escape it ever since

Sexual Personae first

established her as the Thinking

Person's Howard Stern. Alas, the

rumored talk show never quite

developed, and in the end, that

was probably for the better:

Actually having to rub (and

occasionally, throw) elbows with

the trailer-park sleaze she

loves to write about would have

quickly exposed the horribly

mannered nature of her

appreciation for that breed.

Ultimately, Paglia hit upon a

better vehicle for her

particular talents: the advice

column. It's superficial, it's

sensational, and yet since it

involves the written word, it

still retains a faint patina of

intellectualism. And since

Paglia's been well known as a

proponent of simulation - from

drag queens to Madonna, she's

always argued that there's

plenty that's even better than

the real thing - well, perhaps

it's appropriate that the column

appears in Salon, which can now

add Spy (who last published

Paglia's advice column in 1994)

to their growing list of print




Just because the game's over

doesn't mean that the fat lady's

last note isn't still

reverberating throughout the

stadium. And that song she's

singing? Well, it sounds a

little like "Play That Funky

Music," as Intel's MMX bit was

one of the few Superbowl-placed

ads that wasn't as forgettable

as Jim McMahon, or as slow as

the Patsy defense. But if the ad

was quick, it was also sly - by

deleting the chorus' coda of

"white boy," Intel avoided

highlighting whatever liberal

guilt was aroused by the sight

of poor Bob Dole being forced by

Visa to actually use that pen of

his. Other winners of what

almost everyone recognizes as

the real Superbowl championship

are harder to discern:

Budweiser's decision to drop the

frogs from programming that

might be watched by children

left them with a spot only a

mentally challenged (but

presumably of age) individual

would enjoy, and Auto-by-Tel's

sub-Putterman animation made the

web-based service look like a

clunky and confusing waste of

time (so much for trying the

"truth in advertising"

approach). If forced to vote, we

at Suck would have to support

the folks at Holiday Inn, whose

gender-bender curve ball was

called "juvenile and

self-indulgent" by Ad Age... We

knew there was something about

it that reminded us of


courtesy of the Sucksters


The Sucksters