"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 16 November 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.
All the Rage


last time we spoke, bishop had gone to the vet. turns out he had an infection in his spine that cleared up well with antibiotics.  

Last Wednesday, as the bond

market slumbered, the Fox

Entertainment Group kindly

accepted a $3 billion vote of

confidence from an exuberant

Wall Street electorate. While

the soak-the-rich escapades of

Titanic and power anorexia of Ally

McBeal might have set the strong

leadership stance necessary for

this monumental buy-in (the

third-largest IPO ever), more

honest observers looked instead

to the Fox TV network's sweeps

breakthrough the week prior.

World's Most Shocking Moments:

Caught on Tape, the bittersweet

symphony of courtroom bitch

slaps, parliamentary melees, and

highway patrol hi-jinks had aired

two Thursdays earlier. It

charted as Fox's highest-rated,

nonbaseball Thursday special

ever, beating for the first time

NBC's 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. comedies in

the male 18 to 49 demographic.

(Perhaps not coincidentally,

this is the online trading

community's demographic, as



Predictably, a nation of

back-page columnists placed the

show on its collective shit

list, as unmoved by the repeated

slow-motion footage of a drunk

perp running head first into a

steel cabinet as they

perennially find themselves by

Jerry Springer's daily ballet of

open-handed retribution. But no

amount of concerned clucking and

"world's worst television"

cracks, in particular from paid

media professionals, could

negate the mounting evidence

that, for those who know how to

frame others, crime always pays.


[he's recovered fully and is even, get this, learning how to fetch in the park!

"Criminal aggression," as Iraqi

Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz

would have it, is the current

ratings winner on and off the

networks. The questions on

everybody's minds, of course,

are how much smarter the bombs

will be this time around and,

more important, whether the

missile-mounted, video-camera

units will finally be able to

beam a crisp, color signal back

to all the World's Worst

Explosion enthusiasts at home.

Certainly, our leaders in

Washington could do worse than

to follow their pageant of sex

bombs with more literal ones.

But then, that's the biggest

difference between sex and

violence: Sex rarely takes place

in front of liquor store, bank

surveillance, or police cruiser

dashboard cameras; it's hard to

zoom from network news

helicopters, and it still makes

network programmers' palms

sweat. In the name of decency,

they refuse to show, they only



[maybe it's the senoir dog food, but he seems better than before he got sick.

But who wants to be forced to

imagine horrible things - even

sloppy, presidential sex - when

they can see the horror with

their own eyes? Is Bill Gates'

grainy visage hair-raising

enough to arrest the wandering

eye? Sure, he may evoke the

troubled loner exterior of

Jeffrey Dahmer in his rocking,

tousled, deposition videotape

appearance and accrue

Manson-like iconic meaning as

the human face for all the

world's ills, but it's difficult

to imagine him killing a man

with his bare hands. A weepy

serial killer walking into a

police station with a

Glad-bagged severed breast in

his pocket, an archeological

bonanza under John Wayne Gacy's

clown shack, a 20th year

anniversary re-examination of

the Kool-Aid fields of Guyana:

These things play to the eye and

mind far more viscerally than a

pasty monopolist's evil plots.

Put another way, few of us can

put ourselves in the mind-set of

the country's richest tycoon,

yet who among us has not once or

twice considered dressing like a

clown and knocking off a few



[it seemed he enjoyed our saturday of photography with santa and dog washing. such a good dog when being washed.

Still, Gates may yet find

himself with a cameo role on

Fox's Busted on the Job #3

(another ratings winner for Fox,

in spite of the fact that it

features no crazed gunmen in

wheelchairs or head-busting

Chief Wiggums). So far the

Microsoft trial's evidence

download has been limited to

such tame tele-topics as email

and half-remembered

conversations, but who knows

what backstairs hanky-panky may

yet show up on the security

cameras at the Gates dream



More to the point, Chairman Bill

may finally be persuaded to

unbundle browser and OS by the

fear of having his mug shot seen

by millions on the pages of the

Internet's most provocative new

portal, APB Online. From

interactive maps of the Ramsey

estate to a multimedia serial-

killer atlas, APB is dedicated

to making the streets of America

safer by keeping obsessively

troubled minds squarely in front

of their monitors. It's all

crime, all the time, and you

might as well tune in to it

before it tunes in to you.


If breaking stories of

wheelchair moms endangering

their children via unbuckled lap

rides doesn't prompt a click

firestorm, there's no doubting

the upside potential in APB's

live, police-scanner RealAudio

feeds for major cities. San

Jose, San Francisco, and New

York are first, but your

hometown is sure to be added

just as soon as you prove that

you deserve it. (Criminal

underachievers can turn to


PoliceScanner.com or any number of

alternate venues for live, local,

law-breaking lines.) "Old man

walking down middle of Folsom,"

"one pit bull chewing on another

dog": There's just no stopping

the flow of useful neighborhood

color coming from the APB love



APB, like Fox, no doubt,

"believes that if the American

people have a better

understanding of the system,

they will be able to improve

it." And where APB really gets

it right is in its squad

car-like motto: "to inform and

serve." But APB's real-time

smorgasbord of wayward lunatics

and animal attacks is still no

match for reality TV's

cherry-picked mayhem. Last

Thursday, Fox pulled another

ratings heist with the double

header of World's Wildest Police

Videos (wet-road wipeouts and

prison breaks in Denmark

narrated by retired Lt. Sheriff

John Bunnell) and When Good Pets

Go Bad (rabid pit bulls gnawing

the flesh off of screaming

elderly women, college faculty

being trampled by an enraged

moose) that made rival offerings

like Diagnosis Murder and the

funny dog on Frasier seem

impossibly square by comparison.

Fox has even dispensed with the

tame language of "ratings

sweeps," giving its latest

viewer-raid the more criminally

evocative title "November Rush."

And the name fits. Until truly

interactive TV allows you to

pick your own police chase

routes or choose the winners in

bank shootouts, the best fix is

still available on Fox's amateur

video perp walk. As viewers,

broadcasters, and investors

alike have learned by now, to

inform is to serve, and service

this good should probably be

illegal in several states.

courtesy of Duke of URL

[Purchase the Suck Book here]