"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 18 February 1999. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Hit & Run CLXVI


[of course, some great folly occured on that silly holiday]

Amazon.com's dirty secret is

out. A Manhattan-based political

consultant confessed to the

Associated Press: "I wrote

a review that I made up out of

thin air." Seized by a burst of

Joycean wordplay, the clever

consultant wrote that Monica

Lewinsky's book "blew me away."

But his extra-literate hi-jinks

are nothing new. Online

pranksters have submitted fake

reviews about a variety of

titles (some of which are worthy

of The Happy Dumpling to Be Who

Talks and Solves Agricultural



Red Hat Linux Unleashed

"I am

well-known around town for

sporting any of a variety of red

hats, and I am always on the

lookout for anything dealing

with red hats"


Erma Bombeck's tome

"a convincing

argument for

government-sponsored mass

sterilization programs"


A collection of Peanuts


"ignores the fact that

people like me are forced to eat



Wantonly ignoring Amazon's

stifling guidelines, which urge

critics to "focus your comments

on the book's content," the

pranksters grokked the filtering

scheme, which apparently scans

for profanity - but not content.

"They cannot be reading these,"

one Usenet poster noted. "I have

too much faith in humanity to

think a sentient being is

actually approving these reviews

before they are posted." Then

again, we never figured out how

the cretinous goons we went to

school with could compose such

brilliant limericks to scrawl on

the toilet stalls, so it all

evens out.


[besides my bowling a 109, not great but pretty good for me

Speaking of restroom poetry

contests, the most fragrant new

fallout from Christopher

Hitchens' self-imposed

Sidneygate has been a flash

point in the Anglo-Irish Cold

War Hitchens has long waged

against The Nation colleague

Alexander Cockburn. In his

latest gas bomb, Cockburn

accuses his arch-enemy of being

a drunk and then Falwells him

with references to Hitchens'

attempts to kiss men on the

lips. Those who are nostalgic

for the glory days of lefty

intellectual feuds had been

hoping for such a cat fight at

the increasingly leaden Nation -

a barricade of catnip to hold

the doughy revolutionaries

together until, in Churchill's

phrase, "those who had been half

awake were half ready." But

really, if Cockburn wants to

pick a fight, he could do better

than this. With his Tartan

background and Hibernian

upbringing, Cockburn is no

stranger to a night on the

tiles, and his innuendoes sound

odd coming from a man who has

written in Grand Street about

his own experiences in drag. The

truth is the feisty columnists

have more in common than they

know, especially the fact that

both of their last names make us

giggle like schoolgirls.


[rockstar had an anaphylactic reaction to something we ate]

In its 98-year history, the

Nobel Peace Prize has found its

way into more grubby paws than a

well-worn copy of Celebrity

Sleuth. Past recipients have

included failed head busters

(Mikhail Gorbachev, 1990), a

woman for whom a railroad cannon

was named (Baroness Bertha von

Suttner, 1905), a woman who may

or may not be what she says

(Rigoberta Menchú, 1992), people

who don't keep the peace (UN

Peacekeeping Forces, 1988), and loutish

war criminals (Henry Kissinger,

1973). So it's encouraging to

see that this year, we may be on

track to give the olive branch

to a man who actually deserves

it. Sure the Iraqis or anybody

who needs medicine in Khartoum

might object to President

Clinton's nomination. But no

fair-minded American can deny

that Clinton's gift for

Porky's-level farce has brought

us together and made us feel

good about ourselves in a way we

haven't seen since Apollo 11.

And there may be another factor

giving him the inside track.

Like some 98 percent of all

Americans, the president

occasionally claims to be

"one-sixteenth Cherokee," so he

may be able to pass himself off

as a downtrodden Indian in the

Menchu mold.


[he was clammy and kept steaming up which ever side of the car he was sitting on]

On the front lines of

consciousness raising, things

aren't so rosy. 24 Hour Fitness,

a San Francisco health club,

recently pushed the outer

waistband of dark, edgy

advertising with a series of

billboards depicting a space

alien and the caption, "When

they come, they'll eat the fat

ones first." Not surprisingly,

many Bay Area chubbies,

including Suck favorite

Marilyn Wann, had a hard time

digesting the message and staged

a protest with signs reading,

"Bite my Fat Alien Butt," "I'm

yummy," and "Eat me!" Not to

play one-upmanship in this

perpetually offended city, but

this effort was pretty soft in

the midsection compared with the

worldwide shows of support Kurds

have been demonstrating for

their captured leader Abdullah

Ocalan. Recognizing that Turkey

- which almost went to war to

get a piece of Ocalan last fall

- probably won't respond to the

soft sell, Kurds have set

astounding new examples of

uncivil disobedience. In Athens,

one Ocalan supporter, in a

possible nod to Kissinger's

Vietnam Peace Prize, made his

feelings known with a well-timed

self-immolation. Presumably the

aliens or the Turks will find

his flesh stringy and overdone.


[i woke up every hour and sked him if he was alive until 
about 4am he said he felt better and could breathe again]

Finally, we're counting our

blessings at having Slate back

as a regular

get-what-you-pay-for Web

magazine. After all the

grumbling about how Michael

Kinsley's period of exile during

Monicagate would sink the

publication, it's good to see

the forecastle still manned by

most of the same

none-the-worse-for-wear gasbags.

But while Slate now hikes up its

skirt to reveal a juicy bit of

archival thigh, the couple of

fine past articles we're allowed

to see just make us impatient

for the day when Slate gives up

the fig leaf of the

subscribers-only Compost.

Charging for archived articles

remains as bad a business plan

as ever (better to follow Suck's

example and just keep the

archive unusable and thus

off-limits to everybody). But if

Kinsley really wants to

kick-start his return to the

Web, he'll coax a few of those

genteel correspondents into a

Hitchens-Cockburn feud. Maybe

Chatterbox can decide he really

hates Culturebox or something

like that. However they do it,

we want to see Kinsley himself

in Everlast trunks and gloves,

swinging, biting, and generally

pissing off the competition once


courtesy of the Sucksters


[Purchase the Suck Book here]