"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 1 October 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Hit & Run CLI


[today jason is learning all about the life of a suck column]

Salman Rushdie's career as a

free man seems to be drawing to

a close after less than a week.

This week's announcement by

three Iranian clerics - that the

decade-old death sentence

against the socially challenged

Satanic Verses author has not

actually been lifted - is based,

as was the original edict, on

fairly questionable theology.

"The irrevocability of the late

[Ayatollah Khomeini's] edict is

a fact," said foreign ministry

spokesman Mahmoud Mohammedi;

other high-ranking clerics have

long argued that any fatwa is

nullified when the imam who

issues it dies (as Khomeini did

to great acclaim shortly after

passing sentence on the British

blasphemer). Lost in this


metaphysical debate is the

glaring fact that to date no one

has ever actually read Rushdie's

ponderous book. Meanwhile,

Rushdie says there is "no way in

hell" Verses will be removed

from remainder bins and adds he

is keeping busy with the

long-awaited follow-up title,

Buddha, that Big Fat Son of a



[it's really pretty boring, but you all know that]

The Snorri, a modern-day

replica of a Viking knarr, made

landfall at L'Anse aux Meadows,

Canada a few days ago,

completing a Kon-Tiki-style

reenactment of Leif Ericsson's

voyage to the new world. The

historic import of this

three-month excuse to drink

Tuborg Gold and get away from

the wives was not lost on the

Snorri's sole sponsor,

landlocked Lands' End, Inc.,

which tracked the voyage through

a fairly impressive and

informative Web site. As the

Snorri's arrival managed only a

three-paragraph news bounce,

placement impact appears

negligible. But the project was

part of Lands' End's goal to

"build that relationship with a

customer," said apparently Norse

company spokesman Thane Ryland.

A new report from the

Organization for Economic

Cooperation and Development

concludes that e-commerce's

future is more bleak than

previously estimated, so it may

be a smart move for the

direct-mail giant to try to

restore content to its e-throne.

(We're also grateful to Lands'

End for giving a place to Mutual

of Omaha strongman Jim Fowler.)

Whether or not that relationship

with the customer will be

consummated with an actual

purchase, at least people will

learn something about the

Vikings. They were the guys who

wore horns and marled-cobble

cloth V-necks.


[the best part is these silly alt tags]

It may truly be time to admit

that the economy is going from

penthouse to shithouse in a big

hurry. Tuesday's effort to

stroke the Street with a modest

interest-rate cut met with

limited success. The fact that

the Dow closed down 28.32 after

the announcement suggests that

the Federal Reserve's

Objectivist-in-Chief may be

losing his hypnotic sway over

the untermenschen. More

disturbing still is the news

that Coca-Cola's earnings and

volume growth for the second

half of the year have slowed to

a noncarbonated trickle. A hit

on Coke - which sells itself to

investors as a rock-solid

company whose "fundamental

human" purpose of "quenching

thirst" renders it impervious to

market swings - can reasonably

be seen as a blow to

civilization. If you can't trust

the company that managed Santa's

career to bring home the goods,

who can you trust?


[do you'all really read these or not?]

We have a pick - PDC Innovative

Industries. According to an

email we keep getting, PDCI

manufactures "Hypo-Sterile

2000," a device which renders

medical contaminants harmless;

the company foresees "almost

limitless demand in the

marketplace." Spokesman

Mike Hiler said in a phone

interview yesterday that the

company did not generate the

spam, contending that it is the

work of some nefarious "computer

genius" who eludes all attempts

at capture. Nevertheless,

the numbers in this spam are

intriguing: According to


shares in PDCI, currently

trading at 25 cents per, are

projected to go up to $2.25 - a

900% increase in your

investment! Frustratingly,

stockadvisor doesn't say when

the price run-up will come, but

checking our trash folder we

find copies of the same message

going back several months, with

both the quarter ask price and

the $2.25 target remarkably

unchanged. And we're figuring,

if it's been down this long,

this baby's gonna get hot any

day now!


[well, i'll keep writting em if you read them]

Goldman, Sachs missed PDCI's

initial public offering - which

may be the only IPO Goldman

hasn't underwritten in several

years. With the glaring

exception, of course, of its

own. The investment superbank's

abandonment of the effort to

take itself public spells more

bad news for the financial

markets - and for the kind of

big-swindle IPOs Goldman has

specialized in lately. But what

we're concerned about is the

liquidity nonevent's impact on

America's rich people. The

company's New York Stock

Exchange flirtation was

that rarest of gems: a financial

scheme designed unabashedly to

produce elephantine shitloads of

money for a cadre of demigods,

without even a hint of the usual

palaver about making the company

more competitive. That the deal

fell through shows a pretty

feeble will to power on the part

of Goldman, Sachs' 190 partners.

And we're even more discouraged

by the news that last month's

market creeps pulled some 30 of

America's billionaires down to

the ionosphere of mere

millionairehood. We're firm

believers in disposable income,

and, frankly, we don't want to

live in a world without insanely

rich people buying solid gold

underpants and sweaters for



[thank you jason for sitting in today. everybody say it together 'thank you jason'.  very good.]

As these continuing failures of

God and Mammon pile up, we turn

for solace to Country.

Rotini-haired actress Jane

Krakowski, who plays the

underanimated secretary on Ally

McBeal, earned the patriotic ire

of a stadium full of San

Francisco 49ers fans on Sunday

with her jazzy rendition of the

national anthem. As good

Americans, we're

constitutionally opposed to any

rendition of the "Star Spangled

Banner" that doesn't feature

Marine brass bands and

accompanying Mount Suribachi

photos. But the one act of

national desecration we were

actually looking forward to

appears to have been called off.

The pilot of UPN's Civil War

sitcom, The Secret Life of

Desmond Pfieffer, was scheduled

to feature, if we read the press

materials correctly, a nympho

Mary Todd Lincoln, various

over-the-top slavery jokes, and

a scene in which Honest Abe

makes a pass at his Bensonesque

butler. The inevitable

controversy has left the network

in the position of

simultaneously trying to produce

a hit and keep the show out of

the spotlight. Although UPN has

generally proven more skilled at

the latter than the former, it

has decided to postpone the

especially racy pilot episode.

Which may be just as well. This

art-vs.-life race to bring

maximum outrage to the Oval

Office has gone too far. Next

thing you know, some wag will be

doing a wacky Mount Rushmore


courtesy of the Sucksters