The Would-Be Bachelor
Nice Guys Finish Second-to-Last
the Media Media
New York's Wily Molecules
Let Us Give Thanks
Hall of Near-Fame
Eye for Talent
Blue Haired Lady
Seinfeld Finale: Nothing Else On
LeftHanded Litmus Test
Tomorrow's Gossip Today
Why Democrats Have More Fun
Wag The Dog
Thursday, May 24, 2001, at 4:00 p.m. PT
By MARK KATZ
For demanding New York sports fans, second place is no place. And neither is second-to-last. That's why the city has turned so quickly on the Mets, a team that won last year's National League pennant but is now the second-worst team in its division. The Mets must get serious if they are going to mount an assault on the Montreal Expos, the only NL East team with a worse record than theirs.
It won't be easy. At 19 wins and 28 losses, the Expos have opened up a half-game lead on the 19-27 Mets. If the Mets are to catch them, here are the key things they need to do:
Get behind early. A quick way to create a losing atmosphere is to keep giving up the first run. But on the flip side, nothing deflates morale more than blowing an early lead.
Consistency. For long stretches of the young season, the Mets seem to lose one, win one, then lose one again. To catch a team like the Expos, they'll need to string together five or 10 losses at a time. An upcoming series against the division-leading Phillies offers a prime opportunity for a sweep. However, it's probably too early to call it a must-lose.
Do the little things wrong. Overlook the fundamentals: Miss the cut-off man, don't back up throws, make the third out at third base. These things can mean the difference between losing and winning close games.
Losing on the road is not enough. The Mets' home record (11-10) doesn't keep pace with the Expos' (10-14). Allow the opposing team to use the Mets' home locker room.
Put individual stats ahead of the team's record. Let struggling first baseman Todd Zeile swing for the fences when the situation calls for a bunt. On the mound, relievers can let inherited runners scorea great way to inflate a teammate's ERA and make yours look better by comparison. Bottom line: Bring back Rickey Henderson.
Maintain current level of clutch hitting. You don't play .400 ball without stranding a lot of runners in scoring position. Yet the question remains: Can the Mets sustain this pace in the months to come?
Play the blame game. It's hard to overestimate bad attitude. Mean-spiritedness, finger pointing, and petty griping must be aired in public.
Rush back injured players. Putting key players with nagging injuries back in the lineup too soon turns names on the 15-day disabled list into candidates for the 60-day DL. Added bonus: Mets must call up rookies not ready to leave AAA.
Pitching, pitching, pitching. Everyone knows bad pitching is the key to losing. There's no substitute for consistently throwing balls out of the strike zone. Remember: A walk is as good as a hit.
Woo back Dallas Green. Manager Bobby Valentine may have lost a lot this season, but he is not a proven loser over time. Nobody blows the easy games like former Mets skipper Dallas Green. An upcoming three-game weekend series against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays could be crucial. Dallas Green would lose them all.
Mark Katz, a speechwriter and humorist, describes himself as a Reform Jew and an orthodox Yankees fan.
Back To Top
By MARK KATZ
A butler, a stateroom and the best bananas on board. Mark
Katz finds he has arrived for the cruise of his life 30 years
too early. By MARK KATZ
I think it's safe to say that people booked on a lavish 12-day,
6-star cruise have done something right with their lives.Their
presence on board suggests they have achieved wealth, cultivated
a taste for fine foods, become accustomed to attentive service
and accumulated ample leisure time. A cruise ship passenger can
smile at circumstance the way a lifelong Greyhound traveler might
find cause to lament it.
As one among the 960 passengers on the Crystal Harmony, I've also
done well. But my good fortune came in the form of a phone call
from an editor asking if I would like to tag along on a fashion
shoot aboard a cruise set for Alaska and chronicle its pampering
lifestyle. Was I available? If need be, I'd have rescheduled a
kidney transplant to become available. His search for a writer
DAY 1: Departure, Victoria,
The first hint that I was out of my element came on the docks.
The weathered green duffel that has carried my stuff for years
stood out from the rows of gleaming, sturdy Louis Vuittons. I
have seen many rolling suitcases before, but none with rack-and-pinion
steering. Of all the people boarding this ship, I was the only
one who looked like someone dropping off laundry.
Within minutes of crossing the gangway, it was plain to see that
the passenger population consisted principally of two groups:
senior citizens and their parents. Evidently I had arrived on
this cruise three decades too soon. The bell captain pretended
not to be surprised when I gave him my room number, 1028, on the
exclusive penthouse deck, where spacious cabins come equipped
with Jacuzzis and verandas (a fortuitous upgrade when someone
called to cancel). Here among the venerable well-to-do, this punk
and his plebian luggage were doing better than most.
Before I could unzip my duffel, I heard a gentle knock on the
cabin door. I opened it to reveal a neatly groomed, bespectacled
man standing before me in a tuxedo with tails. "Good day,
my name is Cetin, and I am your butler," he said. A moment
of silence passed that suggested he was completely serious. In
his distinctive Turkish accent, Cetin (pronounced CHET-in) enumerated
the many kinds of valet services and personal assistance that
constituted his job. A little disconcerted, I talked him out of
unpacking my clothes.
Mark Katz, a humorist who has written for
President Clinton, is currently writing for the
ABC sitcom "Madigan Men."
My butler excused, my attention turned to an abundant platter
of fruit he'd left behind. I examined it with specific interest
in the bananas on top. It just so happens that I love bananas.
I love them pulled from the bunch, sliced onto cereal, made into
pies, puddings, ice cream and tarts. Yet I've stopped buying bananas
-- at least at the supermarket -- because I've become frustrated
at how quickly they turn brown. When I want a banana, I take a
special trip to the fruit stand on my block and select the prima
banana, the largest, yellowest specimen at the very peak of freshness.
Bananas exactly like these gorgeous three my butler had brought
for me this day.
I had yet to peel open my prize before Cetin returned. With him
he had a platter of glistening, oversize shrimp decoratively arranged
in a coconut shell and accompanied by a side of cocktail sauce.
I quickly forgot about the stupid bananas.
DAY 2: The Inside Passage
In the first, groggy minutes of the day, I pulled back the curtain
not a foot from my pillow to reveal a Kodak moment: a gliding
vista of inlet waters embanked by densely green forests, set off
by snowcapped mountains against a clear blue sky. This view was
to become very familiar during the next 16 hours of daylight as
we powered up the Inside Passage on our way to Alaska.
The Crystal Harmony is a floating juxtaposition. Against a backdrop
of untamed wilderness, passengers enjoy the refined civility of
fluffy egg-white omelets for breakfast, musty port wines after
dinner, aromatherapy by day and Cole Porter revues by night. Then
they return to their cabins, unwrap the truffle on their pillows
and slip between their 500-thread-count sheets. After one full
day of this routine, I was forced to confront my longstanding
discomfort with assiduous service.
Maybe it's self-reliance -- or a streak of egalitarianism -- but
I've always preferred my own lackadaisical domestic efforts to
the determined attentions of others. But here, resistance was
futile. In addition to a butler, I had been assigned a team of
stewardesses. With every return to my cabin, I would find wet
hanging towels replaced with new ones clean and folded, strewn
clothes returned to the (walk-in) closet and the torn toilet tissue
left hanging off the dispenser neatly cornered once again. But
in my mind each act registered an unspoken rebuke. "See how
easy it is to put the toothpaste cap back on the tube?" "Is
it really so hard to hang up a shirt?" "The toilet is
flushed after each and every use! What kind of animal are you?"
Activities on board seem to fall into two categories: eating and
killing time between meals. One of the most popular time-killing
techniques is snacking. Among my snacks this day were the marvelously
perfect bananas back in my room. I ate only one but carefully
inspected the others. Though still bright yellow, I could sense
their fragile ripeness approaching the precipice. Curious about
their fate, I pulled a pen from my pocket and gave each an innocuous
marking just below the stem, tagging them like rare birds in the
DAY 3: Ketchikan, Alaska
I leapt from bed to begin the day that was to bring us into the
port of Ketchikan. As I tightened the laces of my snazzy Nike
hiking shoes, an eyelet on the left shoe popped, rendering the
lace only partly useful. Suddenly things had taken a turn for
the worse, and my anger turned to Kathie Lee Gifford and the shoddy
workmanship of her minions. (I know that's not entirely fair.
Kathie Lee is the spokesperson for an entirely different cruise
line.) I had begun to search my cabin for makeshift tools to repair
the shoe when I suddenly remembered: I am a guy with a butler!
I picked up the phone; in short order Cetin was standing before
me. The shoe was repaired before we pulled into port.
On a seaplane ride over mystic fjords and a rolling green landscape
of glacier-carved valleys, I oohed and aahed alongside a friendly
couple. Patrick, the man's name, was the ship's guest chef, who
had prepared the meal served the night before in the main dining
room, a meal I had missed because the fashion team had booked
a table at the ship's Italian restaurant instead. Patrick recited
his menu, from appetizer, salad and entree to, most memorably,
dessert: a banana cheesecake draped in a chocolate caramel sauce.
Excuse me, did you say "banana"?
Upon return to the ship, I summoned Cetin once again. I had two
topics to discuss with him. First, I told him that somewhere on
this ship there might be a few precious slices of banana cheesecake,
and I challenged him to track them down.
Second, there was the issue of the fruit. Having checked in on
my covert banana experiment, I found three perfect bananas on
the tray, none with my telltale mark. I asked Cetin for an explanation.
He pulled a notepad from his pocket and gave this answer: "Mr.
Mark, I notice that you had eaten from the plate one banana and
many red grapes. So today I bring you more like this -- plus green
grapes, which I thought you might like." The bananas I had
marked, he told me, might turn up again sliced into a fruit salad
or pureed into a smoothie. At this point, no one could know for
I was very impressed with him at that moment, but my esteem climbed
even higher when he returned 10 minutes later with the banana
cheesecake. Between cobbling my shoes and hunting for yesterday's
dessert, my butler had saved the same day twice.
DAY 4: Glacier Bay
One of the services Cetin seemed especially eager to provide was
preparing a party, should I wish to give one. On this day, our
ship was to take us through the spectacular glacier bays to a
reliable whale-watching site by late afternoon. I told Cetin to
plan for a dozen guests -- my fashion-shoot colleagues and a few
nice people I'd met by the pool -- at a time that would coincide
with prime whale-watching hours. To ascertain when that would
be, I found my way to the captain's bridge and explained my query
to the ship's navigation officer, Takeshi. Compass in hand, Takeshi
leaned over his maps and charts and crunched a few numbers. "Tell
your guests optimal time for arrival is 4:45," he instructed.
Listening in on our conversation was another uniformed gentleman,
Deputy Captain Seiji. He approached to review Takeshi's charts
and offered his own estimation: 4:35. Upon further questioning,
it turned out Seiji concurred completely with Takeshi's calculation
but, in his experience, guests usually arrived 10 minutes late.
Later that afternoon, at exactly 4:53, 20 guests marveling at
a family of humpback whales swimming and spewing just 100 feet
from my deck raised a glass or a crab claw to toast the excellent
work of Officer Takeshi, Deputy Captain Seiji and Butler Cetin.
EPILOGUE: Continental Airlines Flight From Seattle to Newark
Crammed into a middle seat on an overbooked red-eye back to New
York, my odyssey to indulgence was officially over. While I suffered
from culture shock, at least my luggage could enjoy more familiar
surroundings. Following nearly a week of unyielding service and
fine food, my dearest wish was that a stewardess would remove
my half-eaten Salisbury steak so I might reach for a pillow to
cover my ears to mute the shrill of infants crying. Yet the irony
of my situation failed to bring a smile to my face.
All I could do was lament my immediate circumstance and wonder
how my life had suddenly gone so terribly, terribly wrong.
Back To Top
May 17, 2000
At 6:15 this morning, Jed Stinger, an up-and-coming investigative
media-journalist, rolled off his futon, fired up his laptop and
listened to the bingbongs of his modem announce the new day. He
began the hard work of research by typing "Jed Stinger"
into a search engine to see what turned up.
Paydirt. Yesterday's lead story posted on www.mediawatercooler.com
-- "JED STINGER SCORES LUNCH AT JUDSON GRILL WITH BOOK AGENT
FROM WILLIAM MORRIS" -- had been hyperlinked on www.medialunchshmoozers.com.
It was just the kind of heat he had been trying to generate, buoying
his hope that his book proposal for "The Inside Story on
How a Hot Young Media-Journalist Published His First Book on the
Media" might be published after all. If not, he would have
to retreat to his fallback topic: "The Inside Story on How
a Hot Young Media-Journalist Never Got His Book on the Media Published,"
which he envisioned as a more modest trade paperback.
But Jed Stinger also had a new project in mind: a big think piece
about the media's fascination with the media. As an investigative
media-journalist, he had long been fascinated by the subject.
Why are the media so fascinated with the media? When did the media's
fascination with the media begin? Is the media's coverage of the
media's fascination with the media affected by the fascination
itself? Each question was more interesting than the next.
His angle was innovative as well: tracing the origins of Jed Stinger's
fascination with the media's fascination with the media. Stinger
knew that this was the piece that only he could write.
Stinger hoped that his article might find placement on a media-savvy
site like Slate, Salon or Inside.com. But he also knew that the
rejection of his piece might also make news on salonscuttlebutt.com,
slatescoop.com or insideinside.com. Stinger could actually feel
a palpable buzz, until he discovered he had mistakenly set his
beeper to vibrate.
Stinger felt proud. "This is exactly the kind of journalism
I've longed to do since the early days of my career," he
said as he waited for his Pop-Tart to cool.
It was a career now well into its sixth month. Stinger's meteoric
rise had been well documented. In November, he had operated the
deep fryer at the NBC commissary, but he found quick notoriety
with a posting on www.msnbc/messageboard/media exposing the rank
hypocrisy of Tom Brokaw. Brokaw, Stinger revealed, still enjoyed
a daily dose of onion rings despite bragging about his devotion
to the Atkins diet on Conan O'Brien. This story was the lead headline
on mediabigcheese.com for nine hours straight, establishing Stinger
as the media darling that he is today.
Despite this scoop, Stinger found no takers for his meta-media
fascination piece. All the media Web pages were preoccupied with
the parlor game of guessing the author of Joe Klein's new book.
As Stinger stared out the window of his studio apartment, sipping
the day's third cup of coffee, he found this development discouraging.
"Honestly, it makes me wonder why I ever got into serious
journalism in the first place."
Mark Katz, a speechwriter and humorist, recently co-wrote President
Clinton's farewell video to the Washington press corps.
Back To Top
June 7, 1999
I'm Wall Street's Worst Nightmare
I may be the only person who has
ever invested in Dell Computer and lost money. Three weeks ago
I purchased my very first stock, buying $3,000 worth of Dell that's
worth $2,300 today. As of now, a darling stock of the delirious
market has me $700 in the hole. Admittedly, I've arrived late
to personal investing. I'm one of those people who live their
lives at the dusk of the day. As a teen-ager, I began watching
"Charlie's Angels" when it featured Tanya Roberts. In
the 80's, I was the last guy I knew wearing stubble and pastels.
By the time I staked my claim on the Internet, AOL had run out
of screen names that began with the letter M. And just a short
time ago, news of the surging stock market was brought to my attention.
It happened one day at lunch, when my friend Paul quietly revealed
to me that, three years after investing his pension by himself,
he had made a million dollars on America Online. A million! Even
in the era of $4 cappuccinos (a deliciously frothy coffee drink
I've recently discovered), that's a lot of money, not to mention
a pretty good return for a dentist investing from home on a Wednesday
I like Paul, but I was devastated by his good fortune. Before
that day I had been vaguely aware that the market was strong.
I read the papers every day. I knew that the Dow had passed 10,000
in the same way I understood that our trade deficit is large and
the speed of light is fast. Those numbers had none of the relevance
of Paul's 1,000,000. In those zeros I saw the incredulous eyes
of my progeny, demanding to know how I had managed to sleepwalk
through the greatest market we've ever known.
That lunch set in motion a process that began with a 10-day self-taught
crash course in picking stocks and ended the morning the price
for Dell Computer, a company regarded as the General Motors of
the new economy, fell below $40 a share. Gazing into the monitor
of my desktop computer, I bought a piece of the action.
That was the day the "greater fool" theory found its
greatest fool yet. My selection of that particular stock at that
particular price was the product of blind faith, trivia and superstition:
faith in the infinite expansion of a transcendent economy, trivial
knowledge that Michael Dell is, like me, a thirtysomething son
of an orthodontist and a superstitious notion that if this company
had brought billions to my parallel-life soul mate, I too could
expect a healthy return. There was no more science to this transaction
than the time I put $50 down on 23 black in honor of my favorite
Three weeks later, I could have bought a Dell computer with the
money I'd lost, just as I would have been better off buying box
seats behind first base with my $50.
I believe I've demonstrated the specific ways in which I'm a
dangerously stupid investor, but correct me if I am wrong about
this: for the stock market to rise, it requires demand to outpace
supply. To sustain its incredible performance, the market requires
more investments each day. An eager new recruit who will gladly
buy your Yahoo stock at the precise moment it might otherwise
succumb to the gravity of logic -- with another dupe just like
him only a mouse click behind. I've already disposed of my disposable
income, but where will the many other rubes come from? I only
have two brothers and a sister.
For those who scrutinize leading market indicators, my bid to
ride the bull market cannot be good news. If my past is prologue,
we've just arrived at the end of a trend. Which means this boom
may end with nearly everyone a millionaire and me left holding
the bag. Or maybe we can prolong the prosperity by bringing to
the market the last few people more clueless than me.
Seek them out at outlet malls. Comb the beaches for those who
don't wear sunscreen. We can target those whose only response
to one of America's lowest moments was, "Where can I buy
that lip liner?"
Remember what's at stake: the 14-year-old who smoked his first
cigarette today could be the one chasing up the price of your
biotech stock tomorrow. I say we get out there and help Charles
Schwab recruit fresh troops of self-taught investors with more
cash than brains. It might just be our last, best hope of getting
Dell Computer back up to 39 3/8.
Back To Top
August 25, 1998
President Clinton: the Screenplay
CONFIDENTIAL: FOR THE PRESIDENT'S EYES ONLY
MEMORANDUM TO THE PRESIDENT
From: Harry Thomason
Date: Aug. 25, 1998
I've been watching CNN, and I can't believe how many people think
the bombing of terrorist sites in Sudan and Afghanistan is just
part of a "Wag the Dog" scenario we've concocted.
That's outrageous! I have never even seen "Wag the Dog."
And from what I've heard, there's no dog in it. And there
aren't any dogs involved in this military action either, which
confuses me even more. Is Buddy O.K.?
But all this talk about "Wag the Dog" led me
to think about some possible diversions. Let me know if there
are any you want to green-light. Let's do lunch!
Saving Private Ryan
scenario. Send Navy Seals to infiltrate China
and bring back Charlie Trie, the former restaurateur who's on
the lam after being charged with making illegal contributions.
Then make him testify on Capitol Hill. Let's face it: Even a campaign
finance scandal has got to be better than the Lewinsky situation.
It's a Wonderful Life
America to contemplate this scary concept: What if Ross Perot
had won the 1992 election?
Annie Hall scenario.
You relocate to Los Angeles. Strike that. We should probably
stay away from any reference to Woody Allen.
Exactly like "Wag the Dog" scenario, only we invade
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
scenario. Give a speech about national
health care reform or some such and just keep talking for the
remaining 20,573 hours of your Presidency.
The Right Stuff scenario.
John Glenn already had his joy ride into space. Maybe you just
need to get away for a while.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest scenario.
Something involving James Carville. Idea still in development
You get the press corps in the waters off of Martha's Vineyard.
I'll take care of the rest.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
scenario. You and Al throw caution to the wind and
set off on a devil-may-care international crime spree. Or alternatively,
Hillary and Tipper do a "Thelma and Louise" thing. Everyone
knows it's the same movie.
The Full Monty scenario.
A last-ditch alternative only.
All the President's Men scenario.
Back To Top
July 12, 1996
Ten Reasons Why Democrats Have More Fun
than Republicans at their Convention
By MARK KATZ
- Many members of Chicago police force circa 1968 are
retired and living in San Diego.
- Wednesday is "Subpoena Night" at local
- No passed-over midwestern governors sulking around
- Demonstrating party unity, Prez dives into mosh pit.
- Already a problem in the polls, Republican "gender
gap" is a disaster for GOP Convention Dinner Dance.
- Al Gore: human limbo stick.
- Reports of life on Mars re-energize Jerry Brown supporters.
- GOP concedes to Pat Buchanans demand: prohibit
the Macarena, popular Hispanic line dance.
- Lets face it: Bob Dole is not 72 anymore.
- Thanks to liberal media bias, even if we dont
have more fun than Republicans, the press will report that we
Back To Top
August 18, 1997
Tomorrow's Gossip Today
Matt Drudge freely admits
it: sometimes he's dead wrong. "I have no editor," the
30-year-old writer says. "I can say whatever I want."
But his on-line gossip sheet, the Drudge Report, is rapidly becoming
a must-read for the political and entertainment elites on both
THE GRUDGE REPORT
Good morning, shameless gossip addicts and on-line character
assassins! Rather than ruin my entire weekend waiting for actual
tattles and tidbits from Barbra Streisand's nuptials to muddy
my modem, I transmit this detailed report of the wedding -- before
it even happened! Remember, you heard it here first.
BARBRA-PALOOZA'S MOSH PIT
THE GRUDGE REPORT has learned the names of the lucky few who
sat on the dais with the bride and groom. Those honored include:
President Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton; Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright and her date, Senator Jesse Helms; Robert Kuttner,
economics columnist; Stephen B. Hawking, physicist; Donna Karan,
designer and gal pal; Prof. Anita Hill, and a furloughed Susan
McDougal wearing either too-much jewelry or very tasteful manacles.
The presence of the Republican Senator from North Carolina kept
the politically correct audience on edge all day.
The day's most tense moment came during the wedding vows when
the room was asked: "If any one person wishes to hold up
this entire wedding with a petty, personal objection, let him
speak now or forever hold his peace."
Capitol Hill sources tell the GRUDGE REPORT that a subpoena will
be issued to a wedding guest, the novelist Joyce Carol Oates,
to answer allegations that President Clinton placed his hands
on hers during a festive line dance immediately following dessert.
THE GRUDGE REPORT has learned the wedding was originally scheduled
for the weekend of July 12 on Long Beach Island, N.J. But it was
delayed until Mr. Brolin agreed to a prenuptial agreement that
gave Ms. Streisand a line-item veto and the authority to subject
him to means-tested Social Security benefits beginning in 2005.
Other sources close to Ms. Streisand said she was too involved
in the recent budget negotiations to concentrate on wedding arrangements
at that time.
SEEN & HEARD
. . . All nine of the Baldwin brothers were on hand,
including the previously unknown Zeppo. Their attendance was conditional
on a promise to be "poster boys for good behavior."
. . . The groom's agent at I.C.M. is confident his client
can now demand double scale for all future Aamco commercials.
WOMEN IN BROWN
At the last minute, Donna Karan outfitted the bridal party
in gowns of chocolate brown in an expression of solidarity with
striking United Parcel Service employees. Her decision to wear
only a single spaghetti strap across the left shoulder symbolized
the insufficient support provided by part-time work schedules.
Other guests, including Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sandra Feldman and
Goldie Hawn were seen sporting brown ribbons and digital tracking
ONE ENCHANTED SEMINAR
Sources reveal that Ms. Streisand and Mr. Brolin met for the
first time in 1994 at a Hollywood Political Action Committee panel
discussion of the Clinton Health Care Proposal. Ms. Streisand
was there to testify about the economies of scale that might be
achieved under managed cooperative insurance groups while Mr.
Brolin reprised his role from the popular television series "Marcus
Welby, M.D." to offer insights from the medical community.
The chemistry between the two was obvious when Mr. Brolin announced,
under oath, "Well, you look plenty healthy to me."
BRIDE COVERS THE ANGLES
The GRUDGE REPORT has learned that in addition to serving
as musical arranger, choreographer, floral arranger and chief
of protocol, the multi-talented Streisand also served as the wedding's
Guests report that the entire right half of the chapel was cordoned
off so photographs of the bride could only be taken from the left
side, which she prefers. However, the seating arrangement embarrassed
the groom's family members, because it appeared as if they did
not attend. Guests on the left side complained of the room's diffused
lighting and a hazy, eclipsed view of the couple created by excessive
use of gauze around the huppah.
. . . Secret Service agents were visibly confused
when the Marine Corps Band struck up "Hail to the Chief,"
after the President was already seated.
No one informed them it was also the wedding's bridal march. Mr.
and Mrs. Clinton later exited the room to the theme to "Hello,
. . . A momentary scuffle ensued when Ms. Streisand
yelled at her own photographer for hounding her relentlessly throughout
the wedding. Ms. Streisand's manager later agreed to pay for the
damage to Ms. Leibowitz's camera.
GRUDGE REPORT EXCLUSIVE
The couple will honeymoon at Pocono Pine Inn, 5228 Independence
Highway, East Stroudsburg, Pa., Cottage #4.
Back To Top
April 30, 1997
Shouts & Murmurs
By MARK KATZ
The worst part of dying, I imagine,
is ceasing to exist. Brushes with death force us to confront the
unknowable void and the grim prospect of eternal nothingness.
But during a late-season bout with this years flu -- which
I felt certain I would lose -- metaphysics gave way to deaths
more mundane dilemmas. In my woozy DayQuil haze, I contemplated
the consequence of my untimely passing, conjuring the many ill-considered
judgments, gestures and rationalizations that might be made with
the license of these words: "Mark would have wanted it that
way." Today I am a flu survivor, but one still haunted by
the niggling details of my aftermath. To avoid confusion, I left
specific instructions on a stack of unused Kleenex:
ATTENDING THE FUNERAL
If you find yourself wondering, "did I know Mark well
enough to attend his funeral?," the answer is yes.
Valid or not, one of the measures of a life s worth is the
head count at the funeral and having reviewed the guest list,
I must rely on acquaintances and friends-of-friends to reach critical
mass. Each pewful of mourners is another round of ammo in my send-off
For those who are traveling when I die: if you have an unrestricted
coach ticket, you can return without penalties and your attendance
will be expected. If you are traveling on a non-refundable SuperSaver
and have to purchase a new ticket, I wouldnt have wanted
you to spend more than [see chart]:
$100......co-workers, lapsed friends
$250......friends, relatives (cousins, et al )
$400......immediate family and close friends; current girlfriends
Regarding theatre tickets: if its a show youve
been dying to see and tickets are impossible to get, thats
one thing. But if its anything involving David Copperfield, just
eat the tickets and show up without complaint.
Should the tragic circumstance of my death involve gruesome
crime, faddish disease or spectacular disaster, the media will
likely take an interest and may try to reach you for a tearful
interview. Who do you agree to talk to?
YES: David Frost, Bryant Gumbel, Bill Moyers, Ken Burns, Lesley
NO: Larry King , Stone Phillips, Gabe Pressman, Bob Woodward,
DISTRIBUTION OF BODY PARTS
In a rare noble gesture, I signed my organ donor card. But
if it comes down to a decision between equally worthy patients,
these are the criteria I would have wanted used as a tie-breaker.
1. No prior convictions.
2. Must be committed to real campaign finance reform.
3. Trivia tossup: Name the actor who portrayed TVs Mannix?
If I am ever murdered by my spouse, I would not have wanted
our children placed in her custody.
No shirt. No shoes. No service.
Dont be afraid to cry. Ive always been known as a
rather light-hearted sort and you might suppose Id prefer
a bittersweet memorial that celebrated my whimsical spirit with
the joyful noise of laughter. Youd be wrong. I would have
wanted a funeral where the hushed sounds of sniffled sobbing are
broken only by the crack of hollow, mournful wails. (Pick a room
with good acoustics.)
SUGGESTED TALKING POINTS
- Mark treasured life and all its wonders.
- Mark pursued a meaningful relationship
with God and other authority figures.
- Later in life, Mark became a tireless
advocate of annual flu shots.
- My life pales in comparison to the rich,
selfless journey that was Marks.
- If there was any tension in my relationship
with Mark, it was because I was secretly envious of his abundant
talent, easy charm and thick-curled, effortlessly stylish hair.
I blame myself, not him.
- For Sheila, Beth, Marnie, Suzette, and
Karen H.: Now I can see that I betrayed Mark, discarding his
honest, enduring love for reasons that really had to do with
my own hang-ups, only to wind up with some loser whos
not half the man that Mark was. I am such an idiot.
- Mark cherished smoked oysters. You bet
Ill have another!
- Some crowd!
- Sh-h-h! Lets all listen to the stirring
eulogy Mark wrote for the occasion.
Back To Top
APRIL 5, 1998
White House Briefing Transcript
By MARK KATZ
MCCURRY: OK you bastards, give me your best shot. Mike?
ISIKOFF (NEWSWEEK): Newsweeks ace reporter has learned
Kenneth Starr is looking into the relationship between Socks and
Buddy. More specifically, hes exploring possible perjury
charges over statements made under oath characterizing their relationship.
Can you comment?
MCCURRY: I know nothing about it. Ive been
immersed in a sensory deprivation tank since the last briefing.
THOMAS (UPI): Mike, do you have independent knowledge of
inappropriate contact between them?
MCCURRY: I know of no improper relationship between Buddy
and Socks. Or any other household pets, for that matter. You in
the front row. I keep forgetting your name.
DONALDSON (ABC): Mike, what about the report that
upon greeting the Secretary of State, Buddy -- how do I put this
delicately? -- wrinkled her pants suit?
MCCURRY: What about it?
DONALDSON: Well, on the heels of an alleged hairball found
on Buddys front left paw, dont you think it paints
a damaging picture?
MCCURRY: Ive already said Socks and Buddy have never
had an improper relationship and Ill let that statement
speak for itself. John.
HUNT (AP) Mike, people whove met Buddy have commented
on his friendly demeanor and his propensity to lick faces.
MCCURRY: Buddy, as his name suggests, is a friendly puppy.
BLOOM(NBC): And when you say friendly" does that
MCCURRY: (interrupting) Im not going to parse "friendly"
for you, David. Wolf and then Paul.
BLITZER (CNN) Mike, does the White House have a response
to the clip running on CNN of Buddy giving himself a bath?
McCURRY: Yes: "Yecchh."
BEDARD (WASHINGTON TIMES) Mike, there is an item on the
Drudge Report --
MCCURRY: (interrupting) Next question.
BEDARD: OK. There is an item on the internet that cites
a guy whos wife is in a book club with someone who heard
from an unnamed source that Buddy was seen leaving the home of
George and Barbara Bush shortly before the sudden -- and some
say curious -- death of Millie. Comment?
MCCURRY: Run with it. Whos next? Mara?
LIASSON (NPR) Mike, if these allegations prove true, do
you think Buddy should be --
MCCURRY: Its much too early to get into that. Its
a very sensitive area. Scott.
PELLY (CBS) Mike, do you --
MCCURRY: (interrupting) Asked and answered. Sara?
McCLENDON (McCLENDON NEWS SERVICE): Mike, isnt
it possible that that -- if this report is true -- that it could
be part of a larger plot by the presidents enemies? Is there
anything to the rumor that Buddy came from a puppy farm operated
by a breeder with ties to the Revernd Jerry Falwell?
McCURRY: I have no knowledge of that, Sara. Jay?
CARNEY (TIME): Mike, does the White House plan to cooperate
with all the aspects of Starrs investigation?
MCCURRY: If you check yesterdays briefing transcript,
youll see I referred you to Thursdays transcript.
KING (CNN) Does the president ever leave Socks and Buddy
MCCURRY: The President strongly believes Buddy is a fine
dog and that Socks is an exemplary cat.
PELLY (CBS): Mike, could you be a little more vague?
BLOOM (NBC): Mike, why cant you be any more specific?
MCCURRY: Because, according to your polls, the less I say, the
higher my approval ratings go.
Back To Top
November 28, 1997
Let Us Give Thanks for the Refrigerator
This morning, as America awakes
from a food coma and rubs its eyes from its tryptophan-haze, I
jump from bed and smack my lips in anticipation of this holiday's
most glorious bounty: leftovers.
T.G.I.F.A.T. Thank God It's the Friday After Thanksgiving.
More than by a holiday table covered with freshly cooked food,
I am warmed by the sight of a refrigerator well stocked with the
chilled remembrances of yestermeal. Modern refrigeration has introduced
a joy of Thanksgiving unknown to the Pilgrims and Indians: the
remnants of the harvest feast that are harvested from the table
and feasted upon the rest of the month and into early December.
That's why today is the real Thanksgiving for people who live
exclusively on leftovers, takeout and food prepared by others.
People who could cook for themselves but -- thank heaven -- don't
have to. People who verify Dr. Pavlov's findings every time the
doorman rings up from the front desk. People like me, a grown
gourmand who has never cooked a meal.
For a single person who lives alone, the Upper West Side is an
a la carte buffet. Each day I slide my tray down its avenues and
select from tempting bins of burgers, sushi and sandwich wraps.
My face and favorite dishes are so well known to local food merchants,
this year I felt obliged to send a Mother's Day card to that nice
lady at Empire Szechuan Garden.
Experience has taught me to order more than I can eat because
the only thing better than a delivery of hot food is the next
day's cold remains. My years of research have revealed that pizza,
pasta and creaky prawns in orange sauce gain in flavor what they
lose in Fahrenheit. I may not cook, but I have skillfully chilled
many spectacular dishes. Many friends rave about my cold cold
So yesterday's Thanksgiving dinner was only the latest in an endless
series of meals prepared by others that I've eaten. Only this
one was lovingly prepared by that other recipient of my Mother's
Day cards, my mother. For more than a week, she's been shopping,
chopping, basting and tasting -- and driving from bakery to bakery
in search of acceptable pies. Mom served our family a Thanksgiving
dinner as delicious as any meal served hot could ever hope to
But as we filled our plates with Dad-carved turkey, chestnut stuffing
and sweet potato pie covered with melted marshmallows, I couldn't
help but think how much better all this would taste the next day.
One night in the refrigerator would congeal the turkey juices
to a ,flavorful jelly, make crunchy the acorn squash and turn
the diced pineapple in the sweet potato pie nicely crisp and tart.
I even suspected the nutmeg pumpkin soup would make a lovely seasonal
gazpacho if chilled to 45 degrees.
It seems that my preference for cold food has become so strong,
I am no longer able to enjoy a nice hot meal. Not even on Thanksgiving.
That's why every year Mom stuffs and cooks a 22-pound bird when
the butcher tells her that a 16-pounder would do. With hands still
burnt and cut from peeling roasted chestnuts, she fills tubs of
Tupperware with surplus turkey and trimmings and sends me back
to my apartment with shopping bags full of food.
Once packed, my refrigerator combines the best of both worlds:
suddenly it's a takeout place that serves my favorite leftovers
-- with no delivery guy to tip.
As next week unfolds, I will carefully manage the contents of
the care package knowing at any given moment exactly how many
slices of noodle pudding remain. By this time next week, my supply
of leftovers will have run out and I will have to go cold turkey.
Yet as I stand here in my pajamas in front of an overstuffed double-door
refrigerator, I can only take stock of the abundance that greets
me and bow my head in thanks.
Back To Top
February 7, 1999
A Left-Handed Litmus Test
Something called the Committee
to Restore American Values recently asked Republican Presidential
hopefuls to fill out a sort of Standardized Litmus Test seeking
their views on everything from gambling to gun control. One question
asked if the would-be President would place a Nativity scene on
the White House lawn even "if ordered to refrain from doing
so by the Supreme Court."
Not to be outdone, the Coalition to Heal America's Karma,
a splinter group of the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy, has prepared
a similar survey for possible Democratic candidates:
- Whom do you admire more: Sacco or Vanzetti?
- Will you overturn Executive Order #35986, President
Nixon's directive that the musical "Hair" never be
staged at the Kennedy Center?
- Is your spouse or significant other willing
to relocate to New York to oppose a Rudolph Giuliani Senate
- Should the purview of the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco and Firearms be expanded to include any of the following?
Check those that apply:
[ ] Caffeinated beverages
[ ] Nonnatural fibers
[ ] The Archer Daniels Midland Company
[ ] Both Bennett Brothers
[ ] The editorial page of The Wall Street Journal
- How does one show contempt for the establishment
and run it simultaneously? Can you effectively compartmentalize?
- Do you support real universal health care, or
would you limit coverage to planet Earth?
- Wouldn't it be just perfect if Anita Hill were
appointed Solicitor General? Check one:
[ ] Yes
[ ] Absolutely yes
- Do you believe the progressive tax structure
can be made more fair by requiring Steve Forbes to pay 18 percentmore
than anyone else in the top tax bracket?
- A train leaves Cambridge, Mass., headed for
Berkeley, Calif., traveling at 100 miles per hour.
- If a car simultaneously departs the Upper West
Side at 60 m.p.h. and reaches Hollywood six days later, which
mode of transportation has contributed more to the proliferation
of global warming? (Show all work.)
- Since 1994, Kenneth Starr's fishing expeditions
have needlessly killed thousands of dolphins. Will you call
for a boycott?
- Do you believe America's Poet Laureate should
be\ elevated to Cabinet rank?
- Which Toni Morrison novel are you currently
- Will you fight to end the discriminatory practice
of "no shirt, no shoes, no service"?
- (1) When will the United States Postal Service
honor the art of Robert Mapplethorpe with a postage stamp, and
(2) do you know the home address of Senator Jesse Helms?
- Should the motto "In God we trust"
be replaced with "To whom it may concern"?
- Do you believe that the waste and fraud cut
from the defense budget ought to be added directly to the waste
and fraud of Social Security budget?
- Will you pardon the brave dissident in the Senate
gallery last week who exclaimed, "God Almighty, take the
vote and get it over with!"
Back To Top
November 26, 1996
Phase One is now complete.'' -- MSNBC on-air promotion.
When NBC and Microsoft joined assets and initials to launch MSNBC,
it was news. But it was the old kind of news, the kind that lies
there on the page and mocks you for just sitting there, blinking,
moving listlessly to the next item. So now the brave young network
is finding exciting ways for you to interact with the news. Here
is a preview of MSNBC Phase Two:
Startling new uses of interactive technology. Start with a personalized
news program titled "Hey [insert your name here] !"
Hosted by a digitized likeness of you, it features daily updates
on your weight, readouts of people talking about you behind your
back and a running timetable of the expiration dates for the stuff
in your fridge. CLICK HERE to see your
New technology enables viewers to download wardrobes of sharp-yet-casual
MSNBC anchors. CLICK HERE for transfer
of Ed Gordon's dusty rose foulard tie by Hugo Boss, handcrafted
Home phones of MSNBC correspondents for viewers with questions
about current events late at night and on weekends. to interrupt Andrea Mitchell's dinner.
A link to a Web site about anchor John Gibson's hair.CLICK
HERE to enter chat room on today's topic, "Brylcream:
would it help or hurt?"
Based on the success of televising Don Imus's radio program, MSNBC
launches an arresting program of Art Buchwald at his desk typing
to read a paragraph now in progress.
Internet users can register real-time disagreements with on-air
to register 20 volts of disagreement with Eric Alterman's call
for nationalized meal plans.
Because the manic pace of interactive news makes traditional units
of time obsolete, MSNBC unveils its own metric 10-hour-day/10-day-week
programming schedule. New system begins two decimers from Jalsday.
to catch up
on all the news that has broken since you began reading this article.
Back To Top
August 18, 1997
The Hall of Near-Fame
By MARK KATZ
Since its foundation in 1981, the
Hall of Near-Fame annually honors those contemporary and historical
figures whose names are affixed to the asterisks of history*.
This years induction ceremony will be held on Monday, November
9 in the Buzz Aldrin Auditorium of the Hall of Near-Fame, located
just outside Manhattan in Astoria, Queens. The Master of Ceremonies
Kitty Dukakis is a 1992 inductee who found near-fame ten years
ago when she came within 260 electoral votes of becoming Americas
first Jewish First Lady. She is also the wife of 1989 inductee
Michael S. Dukakis.
* Except in 1984, 1985, 1988 and 1993-96 when
the ceremonies were canceled due to lack of interest or, as was
the case in 1991, the Persian Gulf War.
Depending on how many people RSVP, the 1998 Hall of Near-Fame
Emilio Baldwin. The youngest of the Baldwin Brothers,
Emilio inherited too few of the familys winning traits and
set out to make it on his rough-hewn bad looks. Despite his deficit
of appeal and talent, Emilio spent three season playing the part
of "Ziggy" the emotionally-scarred math genius on televisions
Saved By the Bell: The Bitter Years." In his ample spare
time, Emilio stumps for local Democratic school board members
and town council candidates in Massapequa, Long Island.
Vidalia. The first and only Amish Supermodel is
a woman so heartachingly beautiful, Donald Trump would marry her
without a pre-nup. But her modeling career came to an end almost
as soon as it began, as her fervent religious belief that the
camera steals ones soul was not well-received in an industry
so fervently soulless. The haunting sketch-artist rendition of
Vidalia that graced the cover of last years Lancaster County
Tourism Guide is the only tantalizing hint of a modeling career
that might have been.
Ramfir Bar-Ishnay. The only major literary figure
still writing in the long-forgotten Semitic tongue of Ugaritic.
As a result, no one is certain whether his extraordinarily prolific
output (fifty-nine phonebook-thick novels) is filled with deft
prose or pure shit. Bar-Ishnays best-known work, entitled
Shrêwob Phupa Phupa, is on a topic known only to
him but believed by scholars to involve at least two Phupas. The
whereabouts of Mr. Bar-Ishnay are also a mystery, as he has lived
as a recluse since the Ayatollah Khomeini condemned him to death
in 1987 just in case there was anything heretical in his writings.
Nigel Best. The older brother of ex-Beatle Pete
Best, the ill-fated drummer who John, Paul and George ousted in
favor of Ringo. Liverpool legend has it that on October 22, 1960,
Nigel Best was set to audition for the Beatles but was confined
to bed that day with the shingles. When Nigel sent his brother
Pete (also a percussionist) to reschedule, the boys asked Pete
to try out instead. And the rest, as they say, is near-history.
Vladimir Pabushkin. A little-noted behavioral scientist
often chastised by peers - including many strongly worded
rebukes from his mentor Dr. Ivan Pavlov -- for his sloppy lab
techniques. In his one and only published study, he chronicled
the "Pabushkin Effect, " the phenomenon of his
tendency to salivate whenever his dogs barked, and by doing so,
proved nothing of any scientific significance whatsoever.
The Earl of Witherspoon. An eleventh-century English
baron who, according to lore, grew hungry during a marathon session
of cribbage but did not want the disruption of a sit-down meal.
Instead he made this odd request to his servants: place a single
piece of bread between two thick slices of roasted meats, slathering
each on the exposed outside with condiments and garnish. The result
they brought him was such an unwieldy mess, it quickly rendered
the playing cards unusable. The experiment was immediately stopped
and never spoken of again. Three centuries later, a nobleman residing
in the same manor unearthed the original notebook sketches, inversed
the design and became the namesake for one of the worlds
most enduring and best-loved lunches.
Mediocites. Ancient Greek philosopher credited with
inventing the process of procrastination, as well as the mathematic
principle of rounding off. As a youth, he declined an invitation
to become a disciple of Socrates, choosing instead to become his
nuch-shlepper. Like many of the ancients, what we know about Mediocrites
survives only in fragments. His name appears but once in the Socratic
Dialogues, when in response to a question about the nature of
truth, he replied, "Let me get back to you on that one, Socrates."
In the wake of tribunals that followed the trial of Socrates,
Mediocrites was indicted for his astonishing lack of accomplishment
and sentenced to death by his own hand. Intrigued by the notion
of becoming a martyr for procrastination, Mediocrites spoke of
suicide often, only to die decades later of complications following
a broken hip.
"Astonishing" Stan Rohrbacher. The second
worst player on the roster of the 1962 expansion Mets, Rohrbacher
was eclipsed by "Marvelous" Marv Throneberry in his
bid to be the poster boy for the most hapless team in the history
of professional sports. An anemic hitter and inadequate fielder,
Rohrbacher had only good luck to blame for his slightly favorable
season statistics; seven of his total sixteen hits that season
left his bat accidentally as he bailed out of the batters
box for fear of being hit.
Tony "Nondescript" Lombardo. An otherwise
successful organized crime figure of the 1940s who defied
colorful characterization. At different times during his violent
career, he was known as Tony "Tapioca" Lombardo,
Tony "Brown Socks" Lombardo, "Dishwater"
Tony Lombardo, and Tony "Thats him, the third Guy
on the Right" Lombardo.
Zechariah Statën. An early Dutch settler who
submitted the second highest bid to the Chicopee Indians in the
purchase of Manhattan Island in 1671. Concerned that the island
had limited capacity for parking, he offered a collection of trinkets
and knickknacks worth approximately $19 in current value. He later
successfully purchased another local island from the Indians for
a price of $11 and the condition residents would be ferried by
canoe back and forth from Manhattan for free in perpetuity.
Back To Top
NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO /ALL THINGS CONSIDERED
"EYE FOR TALENT"
BY MARK KATZ
AIR DATE 7/23/97
THE STREETS OF NEW YORK CITY ARE FAMOUS FOR TALL BUILDINGS, GREAT
STORE WINDOWS AND PEOPLE WATCHING. ITS NOT UNUSUAL TO SEE
CELEBRITIES SAUNTERING ON THE AVENUES, EATING IN RESTAURANTS AND
ENJOYING VARIOUS PUBLIC EVENTS. THE VERY PRESENCE OF THESE TYPES
IS AT THE ROOT OF A SPORT UNKNOWN IN OTHER MAJOR CITIES. COMMENTATOR
MARK KATZ FILLS US IN ON THE GAME AND ITS RULES.
RANKING ABOVE GRATUITOUS NAME-DROPPING BUT BENEATH ALTERNATE-SIDE-OF-THE-STREET-PARKING,
CELEBRITY SPOTTING STANDS AMONG NEW YORK'S MOST ENDURING PASTIMES.
AND LIKE ANY GAME, SOME PLAY IT BETTER THAN OTHERS.
A BELOW-AVERAGE SPOTTER ONCE SUBMITTED THIS REPORT TO HER ROOMMATES:
SHE HAD SEEN "A FAMOUS COUPLE -- I CAN'T REMEMBER THEIR NAMES
BUT EVERYONE KNOWS THEM -- AT THAT RESTAURANT EVERYONE GOES TO."
THE AGONIZING GAME OF TWENTY QUESTIONS THAT FOLLOWED REVEALED
THAT SHE HAD NOT SEEN ALVIN AND HEIDI TOFFLER AT BOB'S BIG BOY
-- BUT ALEC BALDWIN AND KIM BASSINGER AT NICK & TONI'S.
LIKE ANY GREAT SPORT, CELEBRITY SPOTTING CAN BE PLAYED AT ALMOST
ANY LEVEL OF SKILL. THE REWARDS OF RECOGNITION ARE AVAILABLE TO
ALL, FROM THE INEPT TO ADEPT AND ALL THE LEVELS OF EPT IN BETWEEN.
BUT AS WITH MOST NEW YORK PURSUITS, WHAT BEGINS AS PLEASURE DEVOLVES
TO COMPETITION. ADVANCED SPOTTERS PLAY A GAME ONLY DISTANTLY RELATED
TO THAT OF THE NOVICE. THEY ACKNOWLEDGE THE OBVIOUS BUT CHERISH
THE OBSCURE, SEEKING THOSE AT THE MARGIN OF CELEBRITY.
TRAINED EYES AT THE CITY'S MOST RENOWN CELEBRITY SOIREE -- A KNICK
GAME AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN -- WASTE LITTLE TIME OBLIGING THE
CONSPICUOUS TOM BROKAW, SPIKE LEE AND SHARON STONE. THEY KNOWS
THE BIG GAME LURKS IN THE ROWS BEHIND, WHERE ABE BEAM, PETER BOYLE,
OR ART GARFUNKEL MIGHT BE WATCHING IN EARNEST. THE RULES ARE SIMPLE:
THE MORE OBSCURE THE BETTER. ("IS THAT IRVING R. LEVINE?!?")
ON THE SCORECARD OF THE SERIOUS, MADONNA IS WORTH ONE POINT AND
YO-YO MA, ONE HUNDRED.
ONE SUCH VIRTUOSO PUT ON AN EXHIBITION AT WHICH MANY IN THE SPOTTING
COMMUNITY STILL MARVEL. ON AN AUGUST EVENING A FEW SUMMERS AGO,
TWO YOUNG MEN -- A SPOTTER AND HIS FRIEND WHO WAS VISITING FROM
OUT OF TOWN -- SAT DOWN FOR A LATE SUPPER ON THE UPPER WEST SIDE
SIDEWALK PATIO OF ISABELLA'S, HOURS AFTER THE SCENE-GOERS HAD
LEFT THE SCENE. WITH THE EASY SHIFT OF AN EYE, THE SPOTTER MADE
"SEE THE GUY WITH THE MUSTACHE?"
"HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT HE LOOKS LIKE."
"I KNOW HE LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE THAT GUY. THAT'S HIM."
"YOU'RE FULL OF IT."
FINDING UNEQUIVOCAL CERTAINTY A SOURCE OF CONFIDENCE, HE DECLINED
TO ARGUE THE POINT AND RETURNED TO HIS PENNE. "OK. I'M FULL
A FEW MINUTES LATER, AN EASTWARD GLANCE DOWN 77TH STREET BROUGHT
ANOTHER DISPLAY OF EFFORTLESS SPOTTING TALENT.
"SEE THE GUY WALKING THE DOG? BILLY SQUIRE."
"BILLY SQUIRE. THE 80'S ROCK STAR. STROKE ME, STROKE
"IF I'VE NEVER HEARD OF HIM, HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT HE LOOKS
"I USED TO WATCH A LOT OF MTV."
"YOU'RE FULL OF IT."
"OK. I'M FULL OF IT."
THE MAN AND HIS BOXER HAD REACHED THE CORNER AND TURNED SOUTH
ON COLUMBUS. HIS HEAD TURNED TO THE PATIO AND, IN RECOGNITION,
CALLED OUT, "PETER!"
"HEY! BILLY!" CAME THE REPLY.
IN THE PARLANCE OF THE GAME, IT WAS AN AUDIBLE MUTUAL VERIFICATION
-- AN OCCURRENCE LONG CONSIDERED THEORETICALLY POSSIBLE BUT NEVER
BEFORE DOCUMENTED. THAT'S ONE OF THE MANY JOYS OF PLAYING GAMES
IN THE CITY WHERE THE HYPOTHETICAL HAPPENS ALMOST EVERY DAY.
MARK KATZ IS A SPEECHWRITER AND AUTHOR OF THE BOOK, "I AM
NOT A CORPSE!" AND OTHER QUOTES NEVER ACTUALLY SAID. HE LIVES
IN NEW YORK CITY.
November 28, 1997
By MARK KATZ & ERIK TARLOFF
President Clinton recently signed Executive Order #12958, declassifying
all government documents that do not directly compromise national
security. This development should prove a bonanza for historians,
journalists, and writers looking for an opportunity to use the
This Executive Order followed #12957 (providing for a bulletproof
vest for Socks), #12956 (stipulating that, to avoid needless
paperwork, California be designated a national disaster area
in perpetuity) and #12955 (a stuffed-crust pizza and four large
Sifting through the treasure trove will take scholars many years
of research, especially now that NEH grants may be going the
way of dual TV news anchors. But even a cursory look at some
of the newly-declassified information suggests a significant
re-evaluation of recent American history might follow.
Among the documents and disclosures:
- Woodrow Wilsons secret involvement in
the establishment of the International House of Pancakes.
- A psychiatric report suggesting that in addition
to fear itself, Franklin Roosevelt was also afraid of cockroaches.
- Al Smiths prescription for Prozac dated
only weeks before he was first called the "Happy Warrior."
- J. Edgar Hoovers 10 tips for a fabulous
- Joseph McCarthys secret interrogation
of all 25 players on the Cincinnati Reds.
- The certificate that proves that Douglas MacArthur
didnt fade away, he just died.
- A secret OSS photograph of Harry Truman passing
- Thomas Dewey's Inaugural Address, as transcribed
by the Chicago Tribune.
- Private correspondence between Eisenhower
and Kruschev exchanging tips for maintaining a healthy scalp.
- A secret CIA plan to destabilize the government
of the District of Columbia. (That one, fortunately, was nipped
in the bud.)
- Francis Gary Powers frequent flier number.
- Ted Sorensen's first draft of JFK's inaugural
speech with the words: "What can you do for your country?
Dont ask."o Private papers of John Kennedy in which
those advisors who came to be known as the "best and
the brightest" are referred to as "the Chowderheads."
- A note from JFK to Golda Meir that reads:
"It's not that I don't find you attractive, but my father
- Copies of a young David Gergen's resume found
in the personnel file of the Johnson and Goldwater campaigns.
- A revelation from NASA that Apollo 11 took
off with 4 men and came back with 5. The fifth was James Carville.
- Disturbing photographs of LBJ picking up his
grandchildren by the ears.
- A tear-stained first draft, in Robert McNamara's
hand, of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.
- An early version of the Warren Commission
report which hypothesized a single bullet struck JFK, John
Connolly and, two days later, Lee Harvey Oswald.
- The waiting list for Richard Nixon's enemy
- A note from Leonid Brezhnev thanking Nixon
for a "really neat time."
- An angry note from Nixon to Brezhnev telling
him to "détente this."
- Henry Kissingers little black book.
- A memo from Richard Nixon to his Treasury
Secretary telling him, that contrary to earlier assertions,
he does in fact give an expletive deleted about the lira.
- A pack of gum Gerald Ford decided not to chew
because he was planning to go for a walk.
- Gerald Fords own controversial military
personnel policy, mandating: No shirt. No shoes. No service.
- A recording of a 1977 cabinet meeting where
Carter staffers repeatedly mispronounced the word "Shiite."
- An "eyes only" memo from Amy Carter
to Cyrus Vance outlining the U.S. fall-back position for the
- A request from Ronald Reagan to the White
House usher asking that a portrait of "President Selznick"
be hung in the Oval Office.
- Never before revealed testimony of Ollie North
telling the truth under oath.
- A Secret Service incident report of Al Haig's
failed bid to usurp control of the White House bowling alley.
- Brent Scowcroft's list of proposed names for
the Gulf War, including "Operation Man Tan," "Operation
Kurds and Way," "Operation Saddam Is a DooDoo Head,"
and "Operation Scowcroft."
- A note from Marilyn Quayle explaining why
the Vice President was late for a high school commencement
- Nuclear missile code coordinates for the mole
on Saddam Hussein's neck.
- The secret Republican "dirty tricks"
plan to disrupt Ross Perot's daughter's Brownie Jamboree.
- Recently-decoded e-mail between Aldrich Ames
and the KGB that read: "ello-hay oviets-say. I ant-way
- The play list of Warren Christopher's favorite
party tape, "Waltz Your Ass Off."
- And most recently: The NSC plan to close Pennsylvania
Avenue in a desperate attempt to keep Kato Kaelin out of the
Back To Top
New York's Wily Molecules
The world looks to New York City
for culture. Who dares to smash the petri dish?
Manufacturers of an antiseptic lotion have launched an advertising
campaign warning of menacing germs in the city's subway cars.
Despite what the ads might have you believe, the only thing
that currently threatens to infect this city is rampant anti-bacterialism.
Of course New York is laden with germs -- probably the foulest
permutations ever set upon a microscope slide. It's a city alive
with bacteria. We've got germs that schoolkids elsewhere see
only in textbooks. If you are agerm that dares to dream, you
hop a trash barge and head for the Big Apple. Gotham. Filth
City. Germs are the New Yorkers of the microorganisms: irrepressible,
vilified and able to reproduce in wildly inhospitable environments.
It's quite possible that there is more microbiotic activity
in a single New York City cab than in all the precious rain
forests combined. At this very moment, the biochemical foundations
of new, lifesaving drugs might be swimming inside an ashtray
and headed downtown on Park.
On every third block, vendors pull hot dogs from steaming buckets
of primordial soup, a broth just waiting for the spark that
propels life to its next stage -- perhaps creating a species
of urban dwellers even more street smart, cocky and loud.
Could these tiniest of organisms really be a New Yorker's most
formidable foe? This, the city that has withstood King Kong
in myth and Abe Hirschfeld in reality? It's a question almost
too silly to ask. Have you even seen a pathogenic microbe? Could
you describe one to a police sketch artist? Have you ever considered
the fact that you outweigh these "deadly" germs by
a factor of infinity?
If a man can be judged by his enemies, then so can a city. And
New York deserves a better nemesis than this. Think about it:
If saprophytic fungi really infect so many people, how come
it still takes 40 minutes to find a parking spot on a Sunday
What doesn't kill us makes us stronger. If New Yorkers had not
been toughened over time, would our Yankees have had the tenacity
to overcome a 2-0 deficit in the World Series to defeat the
That's why we must resist the subway propaganda of anti-bacterial
activists and agitators. We must understand germs in the larger
context of Darwinian biodiversity. More important, we must remind
germophobes that New Yorkers crave the kinetic energy created
by interaction. We are wily molecules that bounce information
and opportunity off each other. New York is where ideas germinate,
waiting to be sneezed throughout the world.
If you can't stand the germs, get out of Hell's Kitchen. Let's
see how you thrive in the sterile suburbs.
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TESTIFY IN LATEST ROUND OF CAMPAIGN FINANCE HEARINGS
By CAREY GOLDBERG
WASHINGTON, Sept. 18--Wearing
their olive-green prep-school uniforms with bright
orange trim, the entire third grade class of Milliard
Academy Prep entered the red-oak chamber of the Senate
Committee on Governmental Affairs today to answer
allegations that they had made illegal contributions
at a 1996 Democratic fund-raiser. Chairman Fred Thompson,
whose charcoal-heather suit, ecru shirt and dusty
rose tie conveyed both style and authority, wanted
to know if the children had been illegally reimbursed
for cookies they purchased at a Democratic National
Committee Bake Sale held in their school's auditorium
in May of 1996. However, at the
time of this printing, it was unclear whether the color
of Senator Thompson's belt was moss brown or cordovan.
Repeated inquiries to his Senate
office went unanswered.
Yellow at a Crossroads
Time was, no one gave much thought
to yellow. It was regarded as neutral and benign,
the Switzerland of colors. But just as recent events
have cast aspersions on the Swiss, so too is yellow's
good name in peril. This summer, yellow has been at
the forefront of two public relations disasters. It
is one of two colors featured in the logo of Burger
King, whose recent tainted-meat fiasco caused millions
of carnivorous Americans to endure Whaler fish sandwiches.
And most prominently, yellow showed its darker, more
orangy side as the signature color of the post-literate,
hyper-cynical advertising campaign of ABC TV. This may
be a good time to remember that yellow is also the signal
for caution at traffic lights. Yellow, ask not for whom
the light blinks. It blinks for thee.
In a 1991 editorial titled "Color Me Stupid,"
this space wrongly scolded cable magnate Ted Turner
for colorizing classic movies filmed originally in black
and white. The Times regrets the error.
Kupchek, 79, Inventor of Burnt Sienna Crayon
Manfred Kupchek, a former director
of research and development at Crayola Crayons, died
yesterday at his home in Nanuet, N.Y., at age 79.
Mr. Kupchek is credited with having invented the popular
color burnt sienna. In a poll of preschool children
conducted in 1990, burnt sienna was the fourth-favorite
colored crayon, eclipsed only by plum, brick red and
sienna was one of many colors Mr. Kupchek invented but
the only one to crack the highly competitive Crayola
64 Pack. His failed offerings included toasted marshmallow,
charred dogwood, burnt toast and seared flesh.
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November 15, 1999
teens were barely tolerated, but now we worship the false god
it's like, today's teens, they just don't get it!!!! Sure, for
them, life is totally phine -- er, phat. They are coming of age
in an age that celebrates the coming of age. For every standard
issue adolescent yearning, there is a show that explores it on
the WB. For each of life's cliched ironies encountered for the
first time, there is a chat room to lament it on TeenGripe.com.
For every pimply punk buying a pop CD, another kid with a good
complexion has just released a debut album. Being a teenager these
days is as effortless as being a Renaissance Man during the Renaissance.
These kids have no idea how hard it is living in an era that has
outgrown grownups. They just.....I dunno. Forget it. Whatever.
It's been twenty years since I was a teenager but if memory
serves, my adolescent experience took place in an environment
very different from today's. Certainly, I struggled with the same
dilemmas that still define this realm: Who am I? Where will my
life take me? When will I get naked with a girl? Like everyone
else, I had to solve the riddle of defying my elders while conforming
to my peers. Until we find a cure for puberty, there will be always
be young adults fixated upon these questions; what's new is an
entire culture fixated upon those who fixate upon these questions.
The irony, of course, is that the affliction of adolescence is
traditionally marked by a pronounced sense of isolation. At some
critical moment in every proto-adult life comes a lonely, anguished,
heartfelt plea: "Nobody understands me!" How can today's
teens truly experience this tortured rite of passage when marketers
seek them out relentlessly and programmers understand them so
well? And with all those Hollywood talent scouts and Silicon Valley
headhunters hunting them down and signing them up, why would they
even care if their parents understand them at all? Even the lonely
losers of yesteryear are no longer locked in suburban basements
playing Dungeons & Dragons; they are in downtown lofts uploading
web pages and concocting e-business ventures. There's hardly anyone
left in our workforce to mow the lawns and flip the burgers. Today's
teenagers hold such a commanding position in our economy, it's
only a matter of time before antiquated child-labor laws are inverted
to establish a maximum wage and minimum hours. (In fact, the better
question may be, is it even fair to keep these kids stuck at home
or in a classroom during their peak earning years? How else can
they expect to retire by the time theyre thirty?) These
are the odd socioeconomic circumstances that place me among the
first generation of Americans who strive to do better than their
When I came of age, teenagers were not celebrated, only tolerated,
as though society had said to us, "Come back to us when your
skin clears up and you've shaved that cheesy mustache off your
face." Out of ideas about how to deal with us, well-meaning
adults herded us into "rap sessions" on the off-chance
that we might console ourselves. I spent a good part of my teenage
years hoping only to outlive the awkward indignities of adolescence.
I prayed for the day when Id be older - and please
God, taller -- so I might assume the full status of a human being
endowed by my Creator with certain unalienable rights, not least
among these was staying out past eleven and entering bars at will.
I endured my teenage years by placing faith in the future, only
to look back and realize that I managed to miss Woodstock not
once but twice.
Maybe you can argue that teens should not be shunted aside but
I am curious to know how they've come to be worshipped instead.
Now that I am fully grown, I sense two prevailing cultural obsessions
that ignore me once again. In American culture, there is potential
and nostalgia; we are fascinated by prodigies first, and has-beens
second. Stuck in the middle are millions like me living
in those awkward years between promising potential and ironic
demise. And the parameters of the present keep pushing in. To
the tune of discarded disco anthems, our eye pans slowly from
one Gap-clad teen to another, and for thirty seconds we cannot
bring ourselves to blink. The teens stare back at us brimming
with serene self-assurance, mocking anyone who ever made the mistake
of turning twenty-two and blissfully unaware that ten years from
now, they will be ten years older.
We've come to worship this false god of youth just as wayward,
ancient Hebrews once kneeled at the hooves of a Golden Calf. But
perhaps there's a lesson there as well: once the worlds
darling, that Golden Calf later found herself a tarnished cow,
reduced to flashing her sagging udders at circus sideshows. Over
time, self-loathing made her lactose-intolerant and she died too-young
from an overdose of prescription-strength Dairy-Eaze®. How
do I know this? I just watched the whole sad aftermath during
teen idols week on VH1s "Where Are They Now?"
Britney Spears: consider yourself warned.
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Thursday, May 14, 1998
57 Channels and Nothing Else On
50 Years of the Emergency Broadcast System. A retrospective
of Americas favorite test patterns and shrill, high-pitched
tones. Bob Schieffer & Fran Drescher co-host. ( r )
Murder Dr. Sloan (Dick Van Dyke) suspects the death of an obnoxious
retired gag writer came at the hands of a wisecracking longtime
office-mate. Special appearances by Morey Amsterdam and Rose Marie.
( r )
(Series finale). Goodbye....Neuman
Square. Canceled derivative ensemble sitcom brought back for
one last crack at post-Seinfeld audience.
Night at the Cockfights
Worlds Most Invasive Medical Procedures
live from Texas! Co-hosts: Pat & Bay Buchanan
3rd Worlds Most Gruesome Confession Torture Videos
discovers she is lactose -intolerant
Hes a guy.
20/20 Time Live. Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer and Sam Donaldson,
stuck in an elevator on their way to a pow-wow with ABC brass, exchange
witty banter and wry observational humor. Meanwhile, Hugh Downs
latest hare-brained scheme has him collecting lint from Laundromat
dryers. Hi-jinx ensue!
Trek: The Next Generation Commander Jean-Luc Picard states his
primary Star Fleet directive-- to become "Master of His Domain"
-- without hint of irony.
basic plot as Star Trek: The Next Generation but with different,
The Vampire Slayer Buffy battles her most pernicious nemesis
yet -- a powerful, over-zealous Independent Prosecutor determined
to ruin her at any cost.
Creek. Sensitive, impossibly attractive, not-even-twentysomethings
experience angst, yearning and soulful self-doubt when they discover
they are not neurotic, mean-spirited thirtysomethings.
We Hardly Knew Ye. A Ken Burns Documentary. Sepia-tone photos
of Jerry & the gang set to mournful music. Intermittent commentary
from Doris Kearns Goodwin, George Will, Daniel Okrent, Shelby Foote
and Keith Hernandez (Part 1 of 6)
pledge drive until June 1998.
of 5/13 Congressional Seinfeld Hearings. Chairman Dan Burton (R-IN)
re-edits past Seinfeld episodes to prove his theory that the alleged
"show about nothing" is, in reality, an elaborate cover-up
of something clandestine and illegal. (NC-17 Strong language.)
Carvilles apoplectic response to the previous program. (NC-17
hour-long guest: The Real Kramer
King Live, cont
Real Kramer takes your calls.
98 & presents the Seinfeld Finale Simulcast.* Hosted by
Bill Gates. Plus live, on-line, interactive chat rooms at www.msnbc.com.
(Only accessible via Microsoft Explorer & internet browser.)
* pending approval from U.S. Department of Justice
the President: Up-to-the-minute coverage of the Nixon White
House in Crisis, Day # 9,311
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