"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 13 February 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Hit & Run LXXI



To the media junkie, blood and

guts are boring, sexcapades

somewhat soporific; the only

thrill left is exposing the guts

(and private parts) of the body

electric. That's why we don't

mind it when magazines try to

pass off masturbation as

self-examination - it's a peek

inside the locker room to see

how we measure up (besides,

hairy palms make casting the

first stone kind of difficult).

The past week has offered up

particularly hardcore metamedia,

what with New York's "How to

Make a Best Seller" ("it's

conceivable that this article

could do something to affect the

very phenomenon it set out to

observe"), Wired's surprisingly

open advocation to "Push!" push

media ("HotWired... ha[s] push

media... running right now") and

Details' even more graphic

opening spread (which we'd like

even more if they hadn't ripped

it off so blatantly from the

noted exhibitionists at Might).

Leave it to Matador Records'

spunky ¡Escandalo!,

though, to put this kind of

press-porn into perspective. In

an article autopsying media kits

(including a revealing quiz -

hint: crack isn't the digerati's

only drug of choice), it's noted

that "the blurring of

advertising with editorial" such

as in "promo pubs like

Escandalo" "could be a book in

itself." Better call our agent.



Former President of Ecuador

Abdala Bucaram (aka "El Loco")

had been in office only since

August when the Ecuadorean

Congress, fed up with his

mythomaniacal antics and the

poor economy, tried to boot him

out of office. His response was

Walker meets Nixon: He

barricaded himself in the

National Palace only to emerge

Saturday night to deliver an

"incoherent, frenzied speech"

calling on provincial governors

to secede from Ecuador and his

supporters "to take to the

streets." Later, informed that

the Ecuadorean military also no

longer recognized him as

president, he piped down and

helped clear the way for his

vice president, Rosalia Arteaga,

to assume control (who has now

ceded power to Fabian Alarcon).

A pol who sang, danced and did

stand-up, he also cut a CD that

offered a now widely accepted

self-definition: "A Crazy Man

Who Loves." Possessed of a

perverse notion of national

pride, he once invited

Ecuadorean Lorena Bobbitt to the

National Palace for lunch. Yet

the craziest move of all has

been neglected in the coverage

of his displacement: This

January he reversed his position

and decided to endorse claims

brought by attorneys on behalf

of Ecuadorean Indians for

environmental ruin and health

hazards - claims now being heard

in New York courts. Given that

the defendants are U.S.-owned

oil companies, it may have been

one curious diplomatic move too

many. Surely, the days are short

until the CIA's complicity is

revealed, shorter still until

he's approached for the rights

to his life story. Expect a film

version at Sundance reel soon.



Who are those sour souls, one

wonders, whose days are not

brightened by news from the

nation's computer-parts pushers,

pyramid-schemers, and multilevel

vitamin merchants? Don't they

realize junk email lets you

enjoy one of the all-time great

inventions of American marketing

- without the environmental

guilt? Twenty years from now,

some Hollywood hagiographer will

no doubt portray corpulent

capitalist Sanford Wallace as

the Larry Flynt of his times,

battling monopolistic service

providers and proscriptive

privacy zealots to retain the

small businessperson's right to

free (and heavily discounted)

speech. At the moment, however,

he hasn't even rated his own

trading card. Instead, he gets

lawsuits. It's easy to see

what's got AOL so litigious:

With headlines like "How To Trap

Customers In Your Web Site Until

They Buy!", Cyber Promotions'

junk email is easily the most

entertaining content on that

moribund service. But what's

CompuServe's beef? As one of the

few service providers still

charging by the hour, and in

dire need of revenue, you'd

think they'd encourage anything

that keeps users online longer.



Already a fixture in WebTV

employee living rooms

everywhere, the set-top box is

poised to capture yet another

underexploited market: the hotel

room. Last week, the company

announced a partnership with On

Command, the world's leading

supplier of overpriced hotel

room pay-per-view movies; the

two companies will now bring

email and the web to

high-powered businesspeople who

haven't yet mastered the

intricacies of laptop and modem.

But what about all those

travelers who never leave home

without their PowerBook? Is

there any reason for them to use

the service? Well, maybe. Horny

executives, freed from office

censorship and tattletale

coworkers (not to mention their

keyboard) would undoubtedly jump

at the chance to sample some

innocuously line-itemed

entertainment services on the

company expense account. ("Oh,

that WebTV charge for $75? That

was just a videogame.")

Unfortunately, WebTV's inability

to download the proprietary

software most seamy-SeeMe

services use precludes such

potentially profitable revenue



[Smell U]

The post-password era is nigh

upon us: According to The Wall

Street Journal, Oracle is set to

introduce a fingerprint-reading

computer-security device at the

low, low price of just $500. The

pitch on "biometric

authentication" (as the

participating marketing geniuses

prefer to call it) is that it's

"the ultimate in security

because it doesn't depend on

what you know, but what you are" -

a hominid provider of

fleshy-digit patterns, to judge

by the carefully chosen

sound-bite grammar. And when the

hackers clear the epidermal

hurdle, as they inevitably will,

well, there are still vast

tracts of highly personal space

left. Vocal and retinal

recognizers have long been

touted; now, the Journal

promises, perspiracy is just

around the corner, since

"researchers believe everyone

has an olfactory aura that is as

unique as their fingerprint."

All the best hackers do, anyway.

courtesy of the Sucksters


The Sucksters