"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 28 December 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.
The New Vice Principle


[while you read this, rockstar and i are 30,000 feet above the earth, we're spending our new years at his family reunion in hawaii

Heidi Fleiss stepped out from

behind bars, recently, and found

out the condition that sent

her there had - kind of

predictably - gone unchanged:

The men in her halfway house all

wanted to get horizontal,

pronto. But the woman who once

shipped US$53,000 worth of

temporary girlfriends to Charlie

Sheen in 12 short months

turns out to have picked up a

new set of business ethics

during her two-year visit to

Club Fed; not only was the

'90s-style Mrs. Jenning not

selling, she asked to be

returned to prison in order to

escape a four-month stay in one

of the all-time great seller's

markets. She got her wish,

although she did squeeze in a

quick trip to a Beverly Hills

salon for a quick restyling

before reclaiming a cell at

LA's chic Metropolitan

Detention Center.


It has not been a good year for



There were even some questions,

in '98, about which vices were

still vices - or whether some of

them had ever been vices to

begin with. While a British

tabloid screamed about a scary

"gay mafia" purported to be

secretly running that nation's

government - and the religious

right worked its usual

hysterics back in the states,

warning that Florida was in for

terrorist bombings and

hurricanes after Orlando

sponsored a "gay days" festival

- the once-forbidden love took a

bolus of vanilla when one-term

Republican wonder Michael

Huffington came out to his old

friend David Brock. The formerly

vicious right-winger (a vice in

itself and tellingly left

behind) wrote up the really

less-than-exciting revelation

for Esquire. "I know now,"

Huffington dangerously revealed,

"that my sexuality is part of

who I am."


[most of his family lives there and spends the week cooking up a storm i intend to spend most of my time snokeling, eating , and kicking back ]

Things were equally mild over on

the dope front. And the year

started out with such promise,

too, as gubernatorial candidate

Gray Davis told Californians

that it was time to get serious

about the war on drugs. "We

really don't have a war on

drugs," the Democratic

lieutenant governor explained.

"All we have is an occasional

skirmish. When you go to war,

you voluntarily give up some

rights." Then Davis beat his

law-and-order Republican

opponent in the general

election, and his


public-schools proposal, having

served its purpose, disappeared

into the black hole where

campaign rhetoric goes when

politicians get down to the

business of governing. The dope

menace, for a few shining

moments the life of the party,

found itself back in the corner.


And the company in that corner

was pretty sad. Over the summer,

Pennsylvania cops busted a

cocaine distribution ring that

had purportedly been moving

major quantities of Jay

McInerney's muse from a

motorcycle gang called the

Pagans to their fellow ...

Amish. A state police sergeant

struggled to put things in

context for the news media:

"Bikes and buggies," he

explained. "It's a rather

strange combination."


[he said it would take me at least a day to understand what everyone is saying the pidgen is so thick]

In the '80s, doing cocaine

could conceivably put you in a

Manhattan bathroom stall with a

gaggle of terrible novelists and

a B-list runway model of some

sort; in 1998, snorting blow put

you in the same company as



button-eschewing Old Order

Amish - and no one but a

political candidate could work

up the energy to even pretend to

find your behavior disturbing.

Bolivian marching powder:



Combining vices and taking them

to the heartland, schlock-rocker

(and purported surgically

altered autofellator)

Marilyn Manson played Kansas

this year. The show sold out;

nothing interesting happened.

"The crowd," reported concert

venue spokesman Breck Kincaid,

"was actually pretty mellow."

Imagine listening attentively to

a Marilyn Manson concert. What's

with these kids today?


[ they think we're silly city slickers anyway ]

Our hopes were raised briefly in

November when Wisconsin cops

swarmed down on a tiny goth

clique at a small-town high

school. For a brief, shining

moment, it seemed like a

dangerous thread had slipped

back into the social fabric; the

authorities announced that they

had acted to prevent a

well-planned schoolyard shooting

spree, having been tipped off in

advance. Except that the

black-clad, angst-ridden,

death-obsessed goth outsiders

were just kidding. They were

even a bit irritated to be taken

seriously; one gave an

interview, with his mother

present, to explain that his

666 tattoo was, like, artistic

and stuff. "We're not violent,"

he said. "We're laid back."


And mom agreed. Marilyn Manson,

she explained, "is like this

generation's Beatles." Which

would seem to make everybody

else this generation's Turtles.


A few Reader's Digest

charter-subscribers still

managed to feel apparently

genuine concern about the moral

condition of the sleepy American

society, but none had anywhere

near the feel for this sort of

thing that the Reagan-era Jerry

Falwell had once displayed.

Mamie Eisenhower impersonator

Florence King, for example,

dared to share her vision of the

future in the pages of the

creaking National Review:


I have a dream. Suppose we wake
up on New Year's Day 2000 and
find out that the computers
are right - it really is 1900....

At a rock concert
celebrating the brave new
century a heavy metal artiste
tries to sing "Punchin' Out My
Ho" but a strange thing
happens: each time he tries to
pronounce "ho" it comes out
"lady of the evening." He
gives up and launches into "My
Black Leather Bitch," only to
find himself singing
"Sunbonnet Sue." Next he tries
his award-winning nineties
pimp song, "Sent my Ho to Sell
Her Bootie," but it turns into
"Sending Nellie Home." He
can't understand it; all the
songs he used to know have
been wiped out of his memory
and replaced with a whole new



Which suggests that there would

be no problems at all if the

computers at the National

Review really were to end up

thinking it was 1900 again. Dare

to dream, Flo, dare to dream.


The rest of us, meanwhile, are

stuck with reality. And assuming

that next year doesn't get a

little more interesting, that's

too bad.

courtesy of Ambrose Beers