"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 15 January 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Hit & Run CXIV


[ever wonder what became of that long lost friend?]

In a bold and visionary

announcement, The New York

Times told prospective

advertisers that they would be

able to buy more ads. The

reason? The Future. The new

"Circuits" section, laden with

four punchy, reeking colors, is

designed to report "with wit and

verve ... every Thursday on the

countless ways that technology

affects our lives, both on the

job and at home. If it has a

chip in it, Circuits will report

on it...." Our use of

technology, as New

Yorker-christened Next Wave

thinker Karl Marx opined, sets

the stage for the conditions of

our lives and therefore for our

big fat ideas, so it's certainly

appropriate to talk about it

once a week. But as those in

cultural studies like to ask:

Why this? Why now? Was the

Times marketing department

struck by the importance of

chips after reading that Intel's

Andy Grove was Time's man of the

year because he invented the

transistor, or, um, at least was

one of the guys who sort of

helped improve it into a

microchip and one of the

countless number who capitalized

on it and (closer to home) the main

guy who got brand recognition for it -

recognition for having achieved

recognition? (The joke being

that all of this would have

happened in exactly the same way

whether or not one uniquely bold

and visionary CEO or another

ended up doing it - that way,

Grove, as the replaceable poster

child for individuality,

actually stands in for his own

generic nature.) Nevertheless,

these truths we hold to be

self-evident: 1) Tech brands

advertise a lot so as to achieve

recognition, and 2) chip-bearing

gizmos are important -

technology being the bona fide

El Niño of contemporary

cultural change. And so the

Times recognizes these facts,

which amount to the proverbial

good thing when you see it, with

a new section. And, in turn,

Suck recognizes the Times,

pausing briefly only to wonder

whether the microchips on our

shoulders will earn us placement

above the fold, below the fold,

or face-down in the gutter.


[is it worth while to track them down?]

If American culture is truly the

deep-fried peanut butter and

banana sandwich it's cracked up

to be, it wasn't until last week

that we realized Suck could be

anything more than a cream soda

chaser. We came not to praise

Chris Farley but to bury his

vast carcass. No sooner had our

eulogy appeared, though, than

fat acceptance kicked into high

gear. In US News & World

Report's reassuring cover story,

Robert Pritikin launched a

Freudian pigout against his

father's legacy, Jacques Pepin

asserted that carbohydrates are

the real enemy, and the New

England Journal of Medicine was

quoted as warning, "The cure for

obesity may be worse than the


Surgeon-General-for-Life C.

Everett Koop sniped at the NEJM's

"complacency in the face of this

growing epidemic," but that

didn't stop a Martinez,

California, judge from sparing

Marlene Corrigan felony child

abuse charges - despite the

sinister, Seven-like conditions

(covered with feces, urine,

bedsores, and takeout boxes)

under which Corrigan's

13-year-old, 680-pound daughter

died. But the Rubenesque

Bacchanal really got under way

late in the week, with reports

that Roseanne's divorce from

endospouse number three Ben

Thomas was prompted by Thomas'

unquenchable lust for the

mercurial grande dame.

Meanwhile, anecdotal evidence

suggests the US debut of the

misshapen Teletubbies is more

eagerly anticipated than the

mostly (though not entirely)

cellulite-free Spice World.

While we wait around, watching

and weighing the possibilities,

we're sure we're approaching a

tipping point. The only question

is how hard it'll fall, and on



[will you both have changed so much that you no longer have anything in common?]

An authentic fiberglass copy of

a Titanic lifeboat used in the

sinking scenes of the James

Cameron epic. US$25,000. (It's

not seaworthy.) Knit cotton

shirt and corduroy pants outfit

with suspenders worn by Leonardo

DiCaprio playing Jack Dawson.

US$9,000. (There's only one.)

Once content to pillage the

history books for its

nostalgia-fed catalog copy, J.

Peterman is now selling real

pieces of the fabricated past -

actual period costumes and

genuine reproductions of

historical artifacts from the

set of Titanic, complete with a

certificate of authenticity from

the Twentieth Century Fox

archivist. Sales have gone so

well - most items have already

sold out - that J. Peterman

plans to introduce more

movie-based memorabilia,

including copies of props (the

originals are long gone) from

Out of Africa, and clothing from

the Avengers. Of course, unlike Titanic or Out

of Africa, the Avengers has no

basis in historical fact, but

the turtleneck is a timeless

classic, especially after it's

been worn by Uma Thurman.


[or you will find new ground?]

While stone-hearted misanthropes

may dismiss Internet romance as

the pathetic simulacra of

endomorphs, agoraphobes, and the

unhappily married, who else

would fail to be moved by the

following tale of

technology-aided ardor? Last

Sunday, a 22-year-old Southern

California chat room Casanova,

despondent over a rebuke from

his Australian-based online

paramour, was presumably

spilling his guts in a chat room

to any female-identifying

presence willing to offer

sympathetic emoticons in

response. But when one woman

interpreted his talk of suicide

as an actual threat rather than

the usual online pick-up banter,

she called the authorities.

Because the man had, in the

course of his lamentations,

promised to log off from this

vale of tears for good should

any officers try to come to his

aid, the police were reluctant

to approach his house. Instead,

they decided to intervene

virtually. Posing as yet another

digital lonely-heart, a female

dispatcher, under the guidance

of a police supervisor, began

speaking with a mercurial

amoroso; the dispatcher was

apparently so beguiling, the man

completely forgot his mordant

preoccupation with the

Australian click-teaser, and

agreed to meet his newfound love

for coffee at a local all-night

restaurant. Which is where the

cops stepped in, of course, and

hauled the passionate cyberswain

off for three days of

psychological evaluation,

supervision, and no Internet


courtesy of the Sucksters