"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 20 March 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Hit & Run LXXVI


[Wacky Taxi]

Cabbies bear a taxing burden of

presumed authenticity: Every

slumming drunk who parks his

sloppy ass in a hack's back seat

expects his own private

Bogosian up front - cracking

jokes, disseminating detailed

critiques of all the local

hookers, tossing in the

occasional poignant pearl of

streetwise wisdom. And for what?

A lousy dollar tip and some

slurred sentiments of fake

common-man solidarity upon

departure: "All right, buddy,

you have a good night, you

hear?" So can you really blame

the long-suffering hacks in

London who said yes when

Siemens, a German

telecommunications company,

offered to sponsor their

performances if they simply

slipped in a little soft sell

for Siemens' mobile phones?

Frankly, we think it's a

wonderful trend, and we look

forward to it spreading to other

realms: the bartender who

casually pitches Anacin, mailmen

who talk up the latest issue of

Vanity Fair, homeless people

(whose authenticity is

unsurpassed) extolling the

virtues of Calvin Klein. In the

sponsored life, everyone gets a

piece of the action.



For the kid who refuses to share,

"mass customization" is a

year-round Christmas. In the

crabbed tradition of My Own

Storybooks, but with a high-tech

frisson, a vast array of

"personalized" gifts allows

half-pint narcissists to make

the journey from K to 8 while

interacting only with their own

simulacra. Junior can choose

from mindless Videos Starring

Your Child, on-the-fly songs

that insert Baby's name, inane choose-

your-own games, and revenant dolls

that would frighten Dr. Moreau,

all of them teaching the valuable

lesson: "You are truly alone in the

universe." The Web, where bogus

customization is the rule,

brings the personal touch that

much closer; cloning only

sweetens the solipsistic pot.

And since it's no longer

strictly necessary for adults to

put away childish things, you

can easily customize your way

into a lifetime of

only-childhood. Of course,

buying customization off the

rack is an admission that, left

to your own devices, you'd have

a hard time personalizing your

yearbook memories; but as long

as it has your name on it, who

cares? This is the age of

Michael Bloomberg, Donald Trump,

even Dave Thomas of Wendy's. All

things are vanity plates.



The real reason we can apply

economies of scale to the

individual is that we all want

the same things. Literary vanity

plates (and videos and games)

are really no more than

elaborate Mad Libs, and it's no

surprise that information can be

massaged along with ego - n.b.

the recent spurt in "customized

news services." (Look no further

than Rupert Murdoch's interest

in PointCast for a hint that the

next iteration of ambient

information may just be the

ability to insert yourself into

the headlines - or, perhaps more

profitably, into Neve Campbell.)

Obviously, the automation of

information delivery begs the

automation of information

creation. Still, when AP

reported yesterday that the

Internet Financial Network Inc.

will next month launch a

service, Instant News, that

sifts through Securities and

Exchange Commission documents

and compiles brief news items

without the aid of journalistic

perspective or insight, we were

hardly surprised. That's been

going on for months. Hell, between the

rote sarcasm of Politically

Incorrect and the cultural

bus-catching of Salon, we're on

the way to automated information

analysis. If only we could get

automated information




As everybody now knows, ABC is

waging a month-long "March

against Drugs" willfully

clueless enough to make Sonny

Bono's 1969 film Marijuana look

like a Dead show. But amid all

the ominous statistics and

anguished boomers, alert viewers

of last week's 20-20 discovered

an even more horrific threat:

latex intolerance. According to

America's fourth or fifth

favorite news magazine show,

we're in grave danger of

allergies to a material almost

universally associated with good

times and surgery. Pot only

gives you the munchies; a latex

allergy can turn you into a

drooling nincompoop. Quite

frightening, but when Barbara

Walters asked her correspondent,

"Couldn't we just ban latex?" it

wasn't hard to see ABC's angle:

no ecstasy, no latex, no

nothing. By the time Michael

Eisner gets finished with us,

we'll have been stripped down to

the level of the Bronze Age, and

only Disney will be there to

re-equip us. It's time to draw a

line in the sand. They can have

my latex when they pry it from

my cold, dead schvantz.

courtesy of the Sucksters

Fish Image
The Fish

[Netscape Inbox Direct]

Barrel Image

The Barrel
[Predictions by Suck]

Gun Image
The Gun

Fish Teaser

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