"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 6 November 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Hit & Run CVII


[famous hairpieces]

The '80s almost slipped back

into being last month, but

diligent middle managers caught

the incipient renascence of the

Me Decade just in time to

strangle it in its FAO Schwartz

crib. Civilization - such as it

is - is saved. Have a drink to

celebrate. The story of our near

miss with an atavistic tidal

wave played out in two New York

newspapers, the Times and The

Wall Street Journal, with the

Journal having what would have

to be described as "way more

fun" with the whole thing - even

if the Times got to start it.

Philip G. Potter, a 25-year-old

analyst for Morgan Stanley,

grandly told the Gray Lady that

he was an "über-consumer" with a

taste for US$800 suits and

single-malt scotch. He added

that he couldn't imagine riding

the - gasp! - subway, that

breeding ground of

proletarianism and other tragic

diseases. Best part: Philip had

to work in Manhattan, where he

could be down the hall from the

big bosses; he did, after all,

have a golden ladder to burn his

way up. The Times profile on

this "Wall Street Wizard" ran on

19 October; according to the

Journal, the smug little bastard

"handed in his resignation,"

nudge nudge, on 20 October.

Turns out Morgan Stanley doesn't

like it when employees wave

their big swinging dicks out in

public, where the clients can

see; their code of employee

conduct requires discretion. No

one tried to reach Tom Wolfe for



[burt reynolds - good;ted danson - okay ]

Television networks have long

used the lowly public service

announcement as a way to leverage

star power beyond the confines

of content: When Party of Five's

Bailey pipes up about the

dangers of drinking, he's not

just striking a blow against

child alcohol abuse, he's

driving home a character and

brand name. And while the more

recent expansion of the

definition of "public service"

to include such hot-button

issues as shaking babies opens

up some entertaining

possibilities for Mad About

You, most major networks have

stuck to trying to convince the

public to stay away from sex and

drugs - you know, TV's

competition. So imagine our

surprise when the nightly surf

showed one of MTV's own, pitching

... the newspaper. Wouldn't

that, you know, interfere with

our TV watching? Perhaps Tabitha

Soren's just doing some kind of

bizarre community service

penitence for her part in

corrupting the literacy of

American youth. The

VJ-turned-ABD is already at

Stanford studying "the

transformation of storytelling";

you'd think she's paid her dues.

Then again, perhaps she's also

earning a little on the side:

Improbably, Soren's reading

material prominently features

Hoboken rockers Yo La Tengo

above the fold. No doubt

industry powerhouse Matador

Records is behind the placement.

We're not averse to alternative

revenue streams ourselves (or at

least some good-old-fashioned

friend-rock), but such plugs

should at least sustain a

modicum of believability ...

'cuz, come on, someone from MTV

reading the music section?


[are there any women with bald spots?]

We all know that Tabitha's "The

Loneliest Monk" spoonerism is

probably just wishful apocrypha

(Bubba's favorite bop is

horizontal). The comely newsbot

has actually proven her

journalistic pretentions the

old-fashioned way: She married

one. Though in her salad days

Soren was linked with several

delectable indie rock dishes,

she's recently reserved a table

for two with the man who made a

mint by being the publishing

flavor of the moment, Michael

Lewis. Observers of the nuptials

were said to be struck by how

"each side was impressed by the

other's celebrities." If the

match of video-clip bumper and

New Republic stumper seems odd,

remember that throughout his

career, Lewis has specialized in

being the above-average

man-on-the-scene, providing a

WASP's-eye-view of the

Zeitgeist. This tactic has not

always been particularly

successful: His 1994 essay "The

Sheer Force of Female Beauty"

turned on how it hurt his

feelings when other men stared

at the ass of his then-wife,

referred to almost solely as

"the Bloomingdale model" -

wonder why they got divorced.

Since then, Lewis has learned,

perhaps, to focus on a Zeitgeist

a little less close to home. Or

at least not in it. His column

for Slate (What, a TNR writer at

Slate?) takes advantage of his

new wife's geographic

relocation, but - thankfully -

not of his wife. "The

Millionerds" seems an attempt to

cover Silicon Valley using both

the financial savvy he evinced

in Liar's Poker and his ability

to ferret out the goofiness of

power-seekers he proved with The

Campaign Trail. Really, though,

it's the latest case of editors

confusing investments with

interest, because while the

profits and losses of tech

companies hold our attention,

the men behind them rarely do.

(That Lewis inaugurated the

stint by describing the sili-CEO

in contrast to William Whyte's

stodgy - and soporific -

Organization Man seems

prophetic.) We have no doubt

that Lewis has a book deal in

his future with this series;

maybe he can put to use the

title rumored to have graced the

manuscript of Campaign Trail:



[ewwww, i surely cant even imagine it. think fran drescher, no hair...  ]

Determined to convince America

that waiting for TV to load is

good, WebTV has eschewed its

own third-wave advertising

models for an old-fashioned

television spot that shows a

young couple surfing for dirt on

a corrupt politician. The

civic-minded couch potatoes end

up putting the shameful evidence

into an email, and sending it to

"everybody" they "know." Imagine

how that email must read: "After

stealing Neimann-Marcus' cookie

recipe and covering up the

Navy's downing of Flight 800,

Senator Richpigge signed his own

name to a Kurt Vonnegut speech

and loosed the deadly Good

Times virus on an unsuspecting

Internet." Or maybe not - the ad

takes pains to show the couple

only surfing The Washington

Post and other specimens of way

old journalism. Which raises the

obvious question: What did you

need the fucking Web for in the

first place? We frequently pose

that koan to our audience of

dozens, but it's nice to see

WebTV alerting the rest of America

to the Internet's open secret:

The Web in its middle age is

both original and good, but

what's good is not original, and

what's original is not good.

courtesy of the Sucksters