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


[that link to the ira glass story is amazing.]

Just when we think we've got

this whole television thing

figured out, somebody throws us

for a loop. Case in point is the

success of the WB Netlet, a

phenomenon we at Suck HQ assumed

we had down pat. We chalked up

the wild success of Dawson's

Creek to Jen and Joey's sly

updating of the Betty-Veronica

rivalry, with Dawson as an

Archie for the '90s. The inquest

into Felicity's breathy angst

has already finished its season and

gone into reruns. Even the

puzzling popularity of Buffy

makes sense because, well,

people will take any old crap.

So how do we explain that WB's

real ratings champ, its first

show to put a hurtin' to the

networks, is, in fact, none of

the above but the

barely discussed

Spelling/Vincent family dramedy

7th Heaven? "Yeah, Dawson's Creek and

Felicity are the shows people

tend to write about," says WB

publicist Pamela Morrison, "but

7th Heaven is actually our

Number One show, with a 4.9

rating for the season and an 8

share." Though the show performs

the often-overlooked trick of

attracting an audience, exposes

yet another comely starlet, and

provides gainful employment to

Tales of the Gold Monkey

mandroid Steven Collins, its

stylistic MO of steering a

course through the narrow

straits between The Brady Bunch and

Eight is Enough apparently

doesn't provide much material

for the paid bullshit artists

who try to pass off TV viewing

as sociological research. That's

probably why it doesn't get

written about very often and why

the sophistries of couch-bound

not-so-young Turks are as easy

to ignore as the oregano joints

that fuel our ardent



[full of spite and famous cartoonists and betrayal.]

Poor Barnes & Noble can't get a

break. The company's bookstore

dominance seems only to have

overshadowed its presence on the

Web. (Last week, a CNBC

correspondent attributed B&N's

dragging stock price to the fact

that it "is still selling books

in stores.") Its user-friendly

blend of fine coffees and

pompous "book minute" radio

spots has not touched the flinty

hearts of indie-store diehards.

Even after its purchase of

Amazon's main supplier, B&N is

still valued at a fraction of

the market value of Earth's

Largest Bookstore. But perhaps

most damning, for all its

alleged depredations of

America's cultural heritage,

"Starbooks" can't even excite a

decent protest. Last week our

mailboxes began filling up with

invitations to join a Barnes &

Noble protest. The combination

of the protest's organizers

("Negativland, the estate of

Terry Southern, Alt-X/Black Ice,

the AK Press, the Church of the

SubGenius, and others"), its

unstirring anthem, and the

simple fact that the planned

protest consisted of having

malcontents don paper bag hoods

and browse B&N shelves led us to

suspect this thing would never

get off the ground. As it

happened, the appointed protest

hour found us in San Francisco's

flagship superstore - and there

wasn't a protester in sight. A

few quick calls to B&N outlets

around the Bay Area indicated

that Barnes & Noble Bag Day

generated about as much

excitement as a special edition

of Booknotes. Protest organizer

"Ray" claims mayhem did erupt at

stores in Beantown; Austin,

Texas; and Australia - which is

impressive, given that Barnes &

Noble doesn't have any stores

Down Under, according to a

spokeswoman. Our diagnosis: This

event resulted in a truly

depressing combination of

sagging Q ratings for

Negativland, Bob, and Superstore

Supervillainy in general. But

hell, think how the Unknown

Comic must be feeling these



[who would have thought we'd get play for those]

Nu? It began as just another

lame attempt at waxing literary,

but when a scribe from Time

magazine penned the phrase "much

of the heavy baggage that

readers will schlep across the

bridge into the 21st century," Time

managing editor Walter Isaacson

got offended. He wasn't sickened

by the tired, Clintonian bridge

rhetoric nor the clunky,

college-newspapery prose.

Isaacson's Irish was raised by

the language of the sons of

Isaac. He decreed that Time

reporters should, from now on,

avoid words like "schlep." "It's

not some crusade I'm on," he

told The Washington Post.

"Yiddish words like 'schlep' are

not as common out of New York as

they are in New York." Whether

or not Isaacson believes that

gentiles - a superstitious folk

given to cannibalism and ancestor

worship - would really be

spooked by such cabalistic mumbo

jumbo as "tochus," "schnorrer,"

and "call me pisher," his

condescension is sadly mingled

with the kind of self-hating

self-censorship that led Brandon

Tartikoff to label Seinfeld "too

Jewish." More importantly,

Isaacson is dismissing different

languages' ability to capture

complex concepts endemic to

their cultures. Even if the

Eskimos don't have more than

1,000 different words for

"snow," could anybody but the

hot-blooded Italians have given

us vendetta or la dolce vita?

Only the Arabs with their love

of intrigue could have

contributed both assassin and

algebra to the lexicon. Who else

but the French could create joie

de vivre or cherchez la femme?

Phat and muthafucka could have

only come from the 'hood.

Yiddish is a language replete

with words for insulting and

complaining: "Schlep" is only

one of the more recognizable

examples. Frankly, seeing

Isaacson struggle with a whole

genre of verboten words fills us

with both Schadenfreude and

ennui and hints at a whole new

definition for putzhead.


[dumb SuckEGGs?]

Then again, maybe Isaacson was

just trying to increase Time's

circulation in the inner cities.

According to poll results

released last week by the

Anti-Defamation League, blacks

are nearly four times as likely

as whites to hold strong

anti-Semitic views. The survey,

which asked participants to rate

such statements as "Jews have

too much power" and "Jews have

too much influence over the

American news media," found 34

percent of black Americans to be

"most anti-Semitic," compared

with only 9 percent of whites.

In a stunningly unexpected

conclusion, ADL national

director Abraham Foxman blamed

the fiery rhetoric of Nation of

Islam leader Louis Farrakhan,

who when last heard from was

spouting some stuff about "nine"

and "19" that was far more

likely to provoke bad math

scores than Kristallnacht. You

might as well argue that

antipathy between blacks and

Jews stems from the scandalous

neglect of Sammy during the

recent wave of Rat Pack

nostalgia. Or you might say this

is a case of the media ignoring

the good news. After all, zero

percent of Americans believe

blacks have too much power or

influence over the media, which

by the ADL's logic should

indicate that racism has finally

been wiped out in the United

States. So where are the

celebrations? We prefer to

accent positive developments

like Adam Allen's top-notch

Sanford and Son tribute site,

which unites people of all

creeds and colors in honor of

the comedic stylings of Redd

Foxx and LaWanda Page and the

benign guidance of mensch Norman

Lear. At the same time, the

official Grady site offers a detailed

history of Whitman Mayo's

appearance on the Conan O'Brian

Show, the epochal meeting of the

favorite son of Watts and

history's whitest man. This is

small stuff, perhaps, but it's

out of such humble tiles that

the American mosaic is built. In

other news, the probability that

you will encounter idiotic poll

results at least once a week

remains steady at 100 percent.


[certainly not all our readers who hated them.]

Finally, we've learned a lesson:

Don't fuck with Ira Glass. Sure,

we'd been hearing for some time

that Glass could be lethal

rather than just lethally dull.

And frankly, the fulsome praise

heaped on the boss by his

underlings ("I'll think, Ira,

Ira, Ira, Ira," contributing

editor Sarah Vowell purred to

the Chicago Tribune) always

reminded us of unctuous

apparatchiks reporting a

successful five-year plan. But

it wasn't until we made the

mistake of awarding him a Suck

Evil Genius Grant that we really

experienced Ira's Stalinist will

to power. Although the most

scabrous assertion in our EGG

was that the Chicago superstar

was "handsome," Ira immediately

dispatched his agents to let us

know that our tribute had left

him, well, not angry but hurt.

So moving was this tale of the

lonely titan's sensitivity that

the judge of the EGG in question

(a compassionate soul whom we

employ to lend Suck its "human"

element) took the unprecedented

step of sending the 10,000 Watt

Wunderkind a self-abasing email.

Which, of course, is just what

Ira wanted: hard evidence of his

own power to make all rivals

truckle, evidence which he could

then turn over to a reporter for

the Chicago Reader with that

flourish that says "I am Ira

Glass, Hear me roar!" We've seen

this method before: the show

trial, the forced confession,

the public humiliation, and

finally the midnight

disappearance. For now we're

just grateful Ira stopped at

embarrassing our correspondent

and relieved that we narrowcast

at a safe distance from his

Windy City Kremlin. But we

suspect he won't be happy until

we turn up with ice picks in our


courtesy of Sucksters