"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 27 May 1999. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Hit & Run CLXXX



The horrors of high school

violence have finally been

brought into our living rooms.

Fresh from the high-

blood-pressure conniptions

caused by the kibosh of Buffy's

season finale (a programming

decision that, based on a

synopsis of the episode, sounds

distinctly like an improvement)

and a renewed campaign to put

out Jerry Springer's trash, we

have the highly unwelcome news

that the Fox network will off

World's Wildest Police Videos

and several other stirring

reality shows. "We've seen some

dramatic changes in the

country's attitudes toward

violence over the last couple of

weeks," Fox entertainment

president Doug Herzog announced,

surprising Iraqi radar

technicians and Serb utility

workers. Admittedly, we've long

held the belief that crime pays,

but it's a little difficult to

see how the cancellation of

Guinness World Records: Prime

Time will stem the nonexistent

tide of teen violence. Last time

we watched the show, the

highlight was a story of a

teenager who survived a .357

blast to the head and, after

having his cashew-shaped skull

rebuilt to something resembling

a traditional pate shape, earned

the honors (uncontested, we'd

imagine) for World's Most

Extensive Cranial Reconstruction

Surgery. Any misguided youths

hoping to top that record would

be encouraged to take a bullet

rather than fire one.



If we seem sanguine about the

loss of some favorite TV

violence, it's because we've

already found a replacement

object for our morbid

fascination. While Rosie

O'Donnell's crusading program is

scheduled too early in the day

for its sedative effects to work

on school-aged consumers, its

evil twin, The Roseanne Show,

offers some of the most

compulsive binge-and-purge

viewing in recent TV memory.

Recent displays in the gallery

include a week at the Playboy

Mansion (during which the She

Devil star lounged in a deck

chair, drinking martinis and

trying to pay attention to her

guests), an all-lesbian

entertainment feature, and a

special episode in which

Roseanne brought in Kosher Sex

author Rabbi Shmuley Boteach to

pimp out her daughters for a

triple date of horrors. Like any

horrific accident, this one may

lose something in the reportage,

but when you're there watching

it, it's impossible to look away.



After a brief lull, the battle

about the "best" book cultists

is on again. Thirteen L. Ron

Hubbard titles leaped into

ratings for the century's top

100 works of nonfiction - and

then vanished 7 May. The online

vote, which accompanies picks

by Random House's Modern

Library, continued to create odd

bedfellows Tuesday when

Hubbard's Dianetics crept back

onto the charts with 113 votes,

while detractors voted a Hubbard

exposé 15 slots higher.

"Vote early, vote often," one

Hubbard critic posted in

alt.religion.scientology. "See

if we can beat that stupid Ayn

Rand cult." Poll-stuffers

catapulted Ayn Rand's miserable

manifestos into four of the

final list's top 10 slots, and

Hubbard's books claimed three.

"Surprisingly, like some

municipal election in a

Louisiana back-water hamlet,

there was no limit on the amount

of times a single individual

could vote," one Web observer noted.

( Protest votes for "Anything

Not Written" by Ayn Rand were

discarded.) This time around,

the Modern Library is at least

requiring voters to provide

valid email addresses before

opining, though nine nonfiction

Rand titles still clung to the

charts until Modern Library

staffers invoked a

one-book-per-author rule. (How

to Suppress Women's Writing is

now climbing the charts.) Too

little diversity was one of many

criticisms lobbed at the panel's

earlier selections. But sharp

readers who think they

recognize an obvious publicity

stunt might want to

think again about the respective

powers of Scientology versus

Objectivism - or, to put names,

to our pain - Tom and Nicole

versus Alan Greenspan.



While he managed to be "The

President of the United States"

like nobody else in this half of

the century, Ronald Reagan

always bore the scorn of

naysayers who were unhappy to

have the nation led by an actor.

Those people should have looked

ahead. In the end, there's

nothing very funny about

Governor Ventura - or even watchable,

as is evidenced by the 58th-place

Nielsen body slam given to

The Jesse Ventura Story. Owen

Hart has been preempted from

wrestling his way into elective

office in Ottawa, but we're

betting on a political career in

the not-too-distant future for

Motor City Madman Ted Nugent,

whose column in the Detroit News

has attracted a loyal readership

- as well as sour-grapes

sniping from the putative rival Free

Press (we'll support anything

the Nuge tries as long as he

keeps his name on delicious beef

jerky products). Meanwhile,

Alice Cooper drummer Neil Smith,

like Bill Clinton before him,

has a burgeoning career in real

estate. Clinton's vice-grip

sense of fun in many ways

provides the political model for

idiot-savants like Ventura and

the Shine guy - a point that

may explain why George Bush Jr.

isn't going out of his way to

quash rumors that he's a

table-dancing coke fiend.

Meanwhile, former Doobie

Brothers guitarist Jeff "Skunk"

Baxter is mulling a run for

Harvard-dweeb Brad Sherman's

seat in the California House of

Representatives. For the record,

Baxter, a college dropout, who

according to the defunct rock

magazine Creem, got his nickname

from an unlucky person on whom

he once accidentally urinated,

supports the National Rifle

Association and the ballistic

missile defense system.

And, presumably, doobies.



During the Cold War, we always

assumed the backwards "R" in

Toys "R" Us was a secret Commie

signal, indicating the

Soviet-style shopping experience

the store offered. So it may be

a last victory of the free

market that the house that

Geoffrey built plans to relaunch

its new and improved online,

interactive, e-commerce portal

community sometime this quarter,

in an effort to stem the

market-cap schoolyard beating

it's been getting at the hands

of eToys. Toys "R" Us saw its

operating income sink from

US$844 million to $281 million

in the last fiscal year, but new

toysrus.com head Bob Moog is

setting out to prove what an "an

incredible advantage" the

combination of online and

offline assets can be.

Unfortunately, an element that

TheStreet.com reporter George

Mannes identifies as central to

that advantage - a near lock on

toy manufacturers - has become a

new source of pain for the

Paramus, New Jersey-based

company. Settling an antitrust

case yesterday, Toys "R" Us

agreed to pay $27 million for

using its leverage with toy

makers to limit the number of

Barbie Dream Houses being

supplied to rival warehouses

and price clubs. In an apparent

nod to its financial woes,

the company was allowed to

pony up its debt to society in

"cash and toys."

courtesy of the Sucksters


[Purchase the Suck Book here]