"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 14 April 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Face Value


[Mark O'Meara is The Man]

Last week in Argentina, Meredith

Brooks took it on the chin. The

rock star best known for her

perky homemaker's anthem "Bitch"

had the unsavory job of warming

up for the Rolling Stones on the

South American leg of their

Babylon tour. And while she

deserves some kind of award for

simply surviving a brush with

terminal irrelevance and

geriatric pathos, our Lilith

Fair liege went above and beyond

the call of duty. Indeed, her

record label is hailing her as a

"national hero." This was the

natural result of getting pelted

with bottles, trash, and at

least one dirt clod by angry and

impatient Stones fans. Brooks

had the extraordinary pluck to

quit the tour after just two

such stonings, decrying the

violence, and landing her

black-eyed face on four national

newspapers. Any PR flack can

tell you that bad publicity -

like bad luck - is much better

than no publicity at all. And

the porn industry has had this

strange truism figured out for a

long time: The money shot is the

one that hits you right between

the eyes.


Courtney Love knows a thing or

two about facials. With her new

record in the can, numerous film

projects on the board, and a

credit line equal to the sum of

her ego plus her free time, she

voluntarily had her face

rearranged. Last month, our

pernicious friends at Details

magazine had the cojones to

publish before and after photos

of the redoubtable media Medea -

and there can be little doubt

about the elective violence done

to Love's countenance. Now The

New Yorker has done the

finishing work. Last week's

issue features a 10-page Richard

Avedon spread that makes the

surgically augmented Courtney

look like a call-girl on crank

(as opposed to a mall-girl on

smack, her former persona). The

only thing more compelling than

the assertiveness of her nipples

is trying to figure out who paid

whom for this Tina Brown/Versace



[Ireland's teenage rugby players take on the world - and win]

In any case, who are we to

question Courtney's manifest

makeover? Indeed,

self-reinvention is at least as

American as paying taxes and

littering. And the American

cosmetics industry is a monument

to the premise that the place to

start a revolution isn't so much

in your head as on it.


That said, you've gotta give

credit to certain branches of

our government bureaucracy for

keeping up with these scrutable

trends. The US Mint certainly

recognizes the value of the old

nip-and-tuck. Last week they

announced the arrival of the new

$20 bill. After successfully

rearranging Ben Franklin and

Ulysses Grant, they're taking

Andrew Jackson to the cutting

board. And like Courtney's and

Meredith's "handlers," they seem

to believe that the slightly

bloated, off-center, asymetric

look is modish. While our dead

presidents have always been cute

in a school-girlish kind of way,

they've simply not kept up their

good looks against the

fashionable denominations of our

European rivals. Even Canada has

better looking dough. It's no

consolation at all that the

stuff isn't worth anything.


So it's refreshing to see that at

least one branch of government

is spending money to make money.

On the other hand, NASA - the

measuring stick of all public

spending since Sputnik - is

certainly having its fair share

of problems.


[Lara Croft reveals all. The world's favourite virtual sex symbol gives her first ever interview - and reveals her Irish roots]

There's no more important dialog

concerning the value of

appearances than the controversy

surrounding "The Face on Mars."

A series of photos from the Mars

Global Observer streamed in from

outer space last week. Being the

first up-close-and-personal

shots of The Face since Viking

first took its mug 20 years ago,

the new pictures seem to

indicate nothing. Aside from the

provocative question of why the

Jet Propulsion Laboratory

(presumably a semi-serious

scientific facility) ever

decided to indulge this

X-philic strain of silliness in

the first place (which is

tantamount to proving

conclusively that there is, in

fact, no cheese on the surface

of the moon), who can doubt the

power of a face, even if it's

nothing more than a collective

delusion? Indeed, people have

been seeing the face of Jesus or

his Holy Mom in clouds and

dirty laundry for centuries. For

its part, NASA tried to stymie

any protests of foul play,

government conspiracy, and

info-manipulation by claiming to

"put the raw data out there so

that anybody can process it

anyway they want." Ha ha ha.

Good one, fellas. That's been

precisely the problem all along.


No, "just letting it all hang

out" will never do. We won't

tolerate it in our celebrities,

and we won't tolerate it in our

government agencies. We pay

serious bucks to see what we

want to see. "Seek and ye shall

find" was never a serious tenet

of faith, so much as a solemn

rule of free-market capitalism,

and the simple '80s ejaculation

"In Your Face!" was its

converse. In these heady

reconstructed times, putting

your best foot forward has more

to do with what's going on, as

Frank Zappa once said, at the

other end of you.

courtesy of E. L. Skinner