"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 19 June 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Hit & Run LXXXIX


[This is a picture of Tiger.  You know what he looks like, so, it's probably better that you surf without images.]

With an instinctive understanding

of the brand-management game

that even a grizzled Young &

Rubicam account executive would

envy, and a single-minded focus

rivaled only by Michael

Jordan's, superhuman promotional

device Tiger Woods continues to

maintain his thrilling streak of

endorsement deals. April brought

news of Tiger Woods golf shoes,

Tiger Woods golf clubs, Tiger

Woods golf apparel, and Tiger

Woods luxury watches. In May,

the indefatigable Woods showed

no let-up, inking a five-year,

US$13 million sponsorship deal

with American Express. June

features a twist - not an

endorsement per se, but actually

the revelation of a new talent: Golf

Digest has announced that Woods

will serve as one of the

magazine's editors for the next

three years, contributing a

series of how-to articles. While

Woods' writing experience is

presumably limited to filling

out score cards, his signature

is well-polished from signing

thousands of autographs, and the

Tiger Woods byline is all that

Golf Digest is really buying. If

Tiger's handlers can keep their

charge from quoting himself,

à la his scandalous GQ

interview, the column should be

a great success.


[This is a 'recycled' image.]

You know a magazine article's in

trouble when it forgets how

sinister the Happy Face icon is. Wired's

"Long Boom" cover piece predicts

the rise of a venture-capitalist

gestalt that will wrap all

fissiparous elements -

revanchists, nuclear terrorists,

pouty nature bunnies, and all -

into its sloppy Irish bear hug,

and like other studies of the

New Optimism, this one has

caught the disease it's trying

to diagnose, with complications

due to inner childishness.

Futurism has become so soft,

addled, and crying-for-its-mommy

that its own future now seems in

doubt. Futurists themselves

aren't to blame - it's hardly

the only place where you'll find

cloying, belaboring-the-obvious

drivel; and if you want

resistance-is-futile business

prop, just read a Thomas L.

Friedman column. No, what we

need is a new breed of futurists

with what Madeleine Albright, in

a career-making wisecrack,

called "cojones." Our first

nominee for the job is Nolanda

Hill, broadcasting entrepreneur

and mistress of the late Ron

Brown. In a recent New Yorker

profile, the feisty Texan proved

her acumen with a quote that,

though it was made almost three

decades ago, is McLuhan-

like in its acuity, brevity, and

forehead-slapping obviousness:

"Television is going to change  
the world; it's got everything  
you need - sight, sound, motion,
and stupid white men."          


[The Onion is a fantastic publication.  Their graphics are so-so.  This is one of them.]

Sounding not unlike a character

we used to run into on the

playground way back when, Al

Gore's been giving us

nightmares. In a speech last

week at a conference on

"character building," Gore

commented covertly on the

McVeigh case: "You have these

militias and you have people

wearing T-shirts that quote John

Wilkes Booth - 'Sic semper

tyrannis' - on a wanted poster

of Abraham Lincoln. In 1997?

Hellooo?" Well, duh. But the

really scary thing here wasn't

Gore's uncanny impersonation of

a schoolyard scold, rather,

we've been kept up nights by the

dark force to which he ascribed

responsibility for both the

Oklahoma bombing and McVeigh's

questionable fashion choices:

"extreme individualism." Sounds

like trouble, whatever it is.

The laudably unobtrusive vice

president was typically vague in

describing the threat, so it

could be anything: a national

menace or the next Mountain Dew

campaign. Or both? In any case,

we've been alerted, so we'll

keep an eye out for these

excessively unique people,

stoning them as is appropriate.


[DFW is a soooooper genius.  Just look at the size of that grant.  Size matters.]

Stoning, of course, might be

exactly what some of these

so-called "individuals" might

have in mind. Indeed, if you're

looking for examples of

dangerously innovative minds,

you could do worse than to scan

the recently announced list of

MacArthur award (aka "genius

grant") winners, at least of few

of whom are undoubtedly familiar

with the business end of a pipe,

and we're not talking bombs.

Necessarily. Case in point: the

long haired, obsessive,

brilliant, and perhaps most

alarmingly individual of the

group, ex-dope-fiend David

Foster Wallace, who accepted the

$230,000 award with notable

paranoia. "I still think this

could all be a cruel joke," he told the

Washington Post, "in which case,

I'll get you all back." What

form his revenge might take is

unclear, but we fear the worst:

He'll throw the book at us.


[Howard Rheingold has a fine selction of shirts, and is a spokesperson for Kinkos.]

A mind may be a terrible thing to

waste, though not quite as

terrible as a credit line, if

recent actions by Electric Minds

sugardaddy Softbank are any

indication. In the few days

following the announcement of

Softbank's funding withdrawal,

Minds founder Howard Rheingold's

SOS thread has become the

fastest-growing in the site's

history - an instant

clearinghouse for bailout

schemes, migration trajectories,

and apocalyptic handholding.

Sadly, with 6,000 registered and

2,000 active users, Electric

Minds is just small enough to

prompt this sort of crisis and

just large enough to make any

of the proposed

auto-bootstrap-style solutions

prohibitively complicated.

Hopefully, high-flung notions of

networked organization pan out

in this instance, as Electric

Minds (unlike many other notable

online failures of late) has

distinguished itself as

something fairly unique,

essential, and occasionally

great - a free, simple, clean,

and easy discussion area. What

we've never understood was the

rationale behind deciding

against plastering advertising

throughout the site. After all,

the only content provider who's

succeeded in staying exclusively

on the giving end of the gift

economy unscathed is Santa

Claus. And we hear Masayoshi

Son's considering pulling his

funding, too, unless that

Coca-Cola sponsorship gets


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