"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 3 September 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Hit & Run CXLVII


[on the bus today i overheard two old ladies talking
about their frined who was sent email by her daughter, 

We've been waiting all week for

somebody to call the

Yeltsin-Clinton summit the "Why

Don't We Get Drunk and Screw

Tour '98," but so far the

chattering classes have relied

on palsied variations of the

"Two Crippled Leaders" theme.

References to the "collapse" of

the Russian economy are a little

more puzzling, however. With

Russian businesses doing 73

percent of their transactions in

barter even before the ruble

washout and with an economy in

which, in the words of last

year's Karpov commission,

"prices are charged which no one

pays in cash; where no one pays

anything on time; where wages

are declared and not paid; and

so on," it's hard to see just

what was there to collapse.

Indeed, that description of the

Bear's fiscal crisis suggests

Russia is uniquely poised to

solve its problems by going

public as a Web-based company.

More serious news is coming from

up north, with indications that

the Canuck loonie is heading

into free fall. It's an odd but

telling koan: Russia's flyspeck

system goes from bad to worse,

and the world panics. Canada's

NAFTA economy tanks, and

everybody snores. Not to push

the analogy too far, but this

casts some doubt on the

excogerati's seemingly unanimous

opinion that the best thing for

the West to do right now is let

the Russians fend for

themselves. We've been ignoring

the Canadians for over 200 years,

and they still haven't gone



[but couldn't pick up the mail without her brothers assistance
woman one said

Every day is a holiday, if

you're a Northwest Airlines

pilot. When it comes to

generating sympathy from the

public, the only thing going for

the NWAALPA is what meager

charity it can muster from its

strike's proximity to Labor Day.

Then again, Americans have

traditionally used the holiday

not to celebrate work but to

celebrate a long weekend away

from it, rendered simple by

strong drink. Meanwhile,

management at the

Minneapolis-based carrier has

been working overtime to asperse

the union, mocking their

abundantly mockable rejection of

US$150,000 average annual

salaries for just 14 days of

work per month. Still, the

full-page ads NWA (not to be

confused with Niggaz with

Attitudes) has purchased in The

New York Times, USA Today, the

Star Tribune, and other papers

are just a tad hypocritical. In

their daily "Message to

Northwest Customers," for

instance, executives warn that

the strike has already cost

America $500 million - but

they're not saying how much of

that has been used to buy

newspaper ads (they each cost

$100,000 a day). We feel obliged

to point out, though, that the

real human cost of this tragedy

is incalculable: Northwest is

the only major airline that

serves Henry Weinhard's beer.


[on the phone bills by just sending a note out.  
and the information you can find! i'ts amazing...

Of all the mortifications of the

flesh to which J. D. Salinger

subjected young Joyce Maynard

during their April Fool's/New

Year's Eve romance, he seems to

have spared her the one

humiliation members of the

insuperable Salinger cult

usually take on willingly -

having to pretend she really,

really liked Nine Stories or

Raise High the Roof Beam

Carpenters and Seymour: An

Introduction. Still, it's hard

to see why the tireless

homespinner's tell-all book At

Home in the World has instigated

such a critic's pile-on. The New

Yorker's Daphne Merkin calls it

a "misjudged," "grasping"

attempt to sell the

laurel-riding Flycatcher in the

Rye down the river. Time's

Elizabeth Gleick compares the

book's details to "so much slag

on a heap." The New York Times

is damning the book with

silence. Even Amazon couldn't

muster a nice-sounding review.

(In their rush to condemn the

book, none of these brainiacs

have noticed a far more serious

offense than any betrayal of

pillow-talk secrets - Maynard

misattributes Sir Philip

Sidney's The Bargain to

Shakespeare). But even if we

weren't in open awe of Maynard's

self-promotional genius, we'd be

suspicious of these critics'

pans just on common-sense

grounds. In a chilling

demonstration that men and women

will never understand each

other, Merkin claims not to

comprehend what the shriveled

old mountebank saw in the perky

teeny-bopper. And amazingly, all

the critics seem mystified that

anybody would be interested in

such details as Salinger's

homeopathic cures and Birds Eye

peas diet. Of course, that's

exactly the kind of detail we

want: the fetishization of the

recluse's lifestyle that has

allowed Salinger to maintain his

mystique through a long career

of sitting on his ass, pursuing

imagined foes, and reducing

devoted fans to Pupkinesque

pleading. By comparison,

Maynard's promise of heartfelt

bulletin-board posts and

poppyseed cake recipes seems

downright benign. Go, Joyce, go!


[it made me want to smile.]

A healthy interest in sports

would seem to be a good vaccine

against Internet depression

sickness, but we still have

reason to worry about the health

of the Toms River "Beast from

the East" that won the Little

League World Series Saturday -

and it's not just this New

Jersey city's higher-than-normal

juvenile cancer rate.

Specifically, these kids are

awfully small. Ball o' fire

fielder Joey Francheschini,

we're told, weighs in at a

paltry 65 pounds. This kind of

pint-sized pluck might work for

the under-12 set, but with the

anabolically enhanced Mark

McGwire muscling his way toward

baseball immortality, the Garden

State pipsqueaks really ought to

consider the variety of

performance boosters on the

market today and the alternative

outcomes they might have


Steroids: Far East
team hospitalized after
bench-clearing brawl.

Cocaine (solid form):
Far East team murdered
during bench-clearing

Cocaine (powder form):
American team breaks up due to
creative differences.

Tetrahydrocannabinol: American
team sets simultaneous world
records for shortest game of
All-Star Baseball '99, Nintendo
64, longest run of giggles.

Methamphetamine: American team
realizes the crushing boredom of
the Nation's Pastime, moves on
to newly formed 7-Eleven
Parking Lot Skate League.


[ i'm sure aol or ibm will co-opt my
little vision and turn it into a commercial.
or we will.]

Speaking of drug-abuse tragedies

real and imagined, ever since we

learned in May that Keith

Richards had fallen and broken

several bones while standing on

a ladder and reaching for a book

in the library of his

Connecticut home, we've been

quietly placing wagers with our

bookie on a nagging issue: What

book was he reaching for? Since

Keith wouldn't return any of our

calls, we had to wait for the

latest issue of Guitar World

magazine, in which the

world-renowned Stone reveals

that he was laid low by a

Leonardo da Vinci book on

anatomy. While it's good to see

Keith's respect for the masters

hasn't dwindled since his sour

experience with Chuck Berry, the

news was pretty unwelcome to us.

We had already put our show,

place, and win bets,

respectively, on Robert G.

Mayer's Embalming: History,

Theory, & Practice, Ann Morrow

Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea,

and volume one of Edward

Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the

Roman Empire - the last one with

its pages hollowed out in the

shape of a syringe.

courtesy of the Sucksters