With the advent of cheap digital technology, the "self-shot," is a recent phenomena. If you have a Myspace or Facebook account you've seen them in bunches. Each gender has their own twist, but the ubiquitous outstretched arm remains a constant. Self pics are favored by hot chicks in revealing clothes, and chubby ones craftily using concealing angles. The male variety is most often a flexing toolbag, who rightfully belongs here. The trend is a curious one, certainly spurned by the proliferation of digital cameras, it is also undoubtedly tied to narcissism and sexuality in our culture. Is it art? Self-expression? Or 21st century flirting? Either way, certain issues remain a concern for lawmakers and parents alike. Snap away America, beauty is fleeting.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
The beautiful Jeri Ryan seen above had a role on Star Trek, but more importantly she was once married to Jack Ryan. Ryan was a Goldman Sachs genius with an MBA and JD from Harvard. He cashed out and eventually ran for Illinois Senate in 2004. Unfortunately for him, his divorce records from 1998 contained seedy stories of a sexual deviant. In March of 2004 he handily won the Illinois Senate Republican Primary and looked to be a formidable opponent with deep pockets. On June 21, a court order unsealed the divorce files and Ryan's campaign was sunk.
In a bind, with little time to spare, the Illinois Republican Party turned to Mike Ditka. The former coach of the Super Bowl Shufflers was an immensely popular figure in Chicago, a local businessman, and conservative minded. Ditka mulled over, but declined the offer, leaving Alan Keyes as the last minute fill-in.
So should Obama send a little thank you card to Ms. Ryan and Ditka? In June of 2004, Barack Obama was not the juggernaut he is today. Coming off a failed bid for a seat in the House of Representatives in 2000, Obama was the clear Democratic favorite, but a relatively untested newb. He faced Ryan, a rising star himself in Illinois politics, and the reality that the Senate seat had been vacated by a Republican. Once Ryan had shot himself in the foot, he still had a hurdle to clear. One may scoff at Senator Ditka, but in a country where Jessie "The Body" Ventura, and The Terminator are governors, name recognition goes a long way in popular elections. Obama would not be in the position he is today without the platform of a Senate seat. Everyone needs some breaks along the way, let's be thanks Obama got his fortuitously, and not from the Ole' Boy's Network.
The proclamation seen above, "World's Highest Standard of Living," might have been true for those in the car, but certainly not the men and women standing below. The photo was taken by Margaret Bourke, a lady who captured the Depression era across the South with stunning clarity. No matter your race, today the U.S. can only claim 12th in latest Human Development Index by the United Nations. Why 12th? For one, Nordic countries with their evenly distributed economy and healthy diets tend to dominate these type of rankings. However, it is a problem of our own creation that hampers our standard of the living the most. The U.S. has the widest rich-poor gap amongst the relatively stable, and developed countries. Call it socialist, but it's time to take a hard look at pay scales. You cannot dictate what society values, that is why the #1 NFL draft pick gets $30 million up front, while a teacher would only earn $30,000 after years of service. But you can require some reduction in the income disparity between the executives and laborers of companies that benefit from public investment. Regulations have been needed to reign capitalism in before, the laissez-faire approach of Reaganomics is no longer sufficient.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Hillary Andrews is mad, and she won't take it anymore. The juicy details are still sealed, but The Smoking Gun has some titillating tidbits.
The cable news set has to be a sexual harassment nightmare. Mix total dweebs who were President of the Audio/Visual Club in elementary school, with uptight, Type-A, hotties and you get two tickets to the gun show.
Pictured above is "Billy Beer," brewed by former President Jimmy Carter's younger brother. In 1977, as Jimmy Carter was victorious in his unlikely Presidential campaign, the press began to get wind of his odd younger brother. Boorish and outlandish, Billy Carter soon gained considerable attention. Capitalizing on his spotlight, Billy brewed his own short-lived lager. After failing as a brewer and facing IRS fines, the sitting President's younger brother did something that, in retrospect is shocking.
Credit Billy for his sense of timing, shrewdly aware that he had only four years to capitalize on his older brother's office, his desperation became apparent. In 3 visits to Libya for negotiations, Billy and a group of business friends could have a chosen a less controversial destination than a North African, socialist, Muslim country. Not exactly like buying a flat in London, Billy registered as a foreign agent and received a $220,000 loan. Senate hearings came and went without any major fanfare and eventually the story floated away.
As Roger and Billy have shown, siblings, while never important, can shed some light on the candidate. Obama, McCain, and Hillary each have siblings, some average Johns and Janes, some peculiar.
Barak Obama: half sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, nothing particularly insighful.
Hillary Clinton: two younger brothers, Tony and Hugh Rodham. Hugh, received a questionable payment of $400,000 for legal services rendered in relation to Bill Clinton's federal pardons. The transaction did not break any laws, but was certainly unethical under the Rules of Professionalism for attorneys. In the spirit of Billy, in 1999, Hugh and brother Tony Rodham entered into a $118 million venture to grow and export hazelnuts from the Republic of Georgia. Turns out their hazelnut man was a political opponent of the sitting President of Georgia, a U.S. buddy. Not exactly in the Muammar al-Gaddafi league, but odd still. Youngest brother Tony has found himself the most trouble, questionable pardon badgering, fights, and back child support.
John McCain: older sister Sandy, younger brother Joe. Sandy is a breast cancer survivor, something her brother takes seriously. Joe is a dinner theatre actor, who is rumored to have made a passionate, yet ominous speech in 2002.
Pete Rose was banished from baseball for life in 1989 by then commissioner, Bart Giamatti. Rose was widely believed to have bet on Reds games during his time as manager. Denying such claims, Rose remained ineligible for the Hall of Fame as baseball's most famous pariah since Shoeless Joe Jackson. After being repeatedly rebuffed in his attempts at reinstatement, Rose finally came clean in 2004. Rose fessed up to betting on the Reds, but never against them. Despite his tardy admission, Rose remains banned. One wonders what really spurned him to come clean in 2004. Rose has made no secret of his desire to manage again, and more significantly, of his desire to be in the Hall of Fame, a place he deserves to be based on statistics alone.
Maybe Charlie Hustle foresaw the current steroid saga and believed if he could clean his name first, perhaps his actions would seem tamer in due time. As a baseball insider all his life, Rose was certainly aware of the juicing in the game. He also would have been wise to the brewing storm that was certain to rain unsavory headlines on papers coast to coast. Always a calculating man, Rose knew that his sins were of a different era. By coming clean before steroids reached the front page, Rose benefits from presentism that renders his crimes forgettable, until the next Ken Burns epic. This will unlikely save his Hall candidacy, writers and fans are more offended by dishonesty than suspicious biceps.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Today the Democrats of Indiana and North Carolina will cast their votes for their party's candidate this fall. While most expect Obama to take N.C., and Hillary to narrowly take Indiana, there have been too many surprises along the way to count one's chicks yet. If Obama manages to win both states, the race would effectively be over. A decisive victory in Indiana for Hillary would go a long way towards showing the super delegates she is the stronger representative in the national election.
Obama clearly has the momentum, the money, the media idolatry, and most importantly the charisma. Imagining an Obama victory, and its impact on the Democratic Party is easy. The money will continue pile up as people get caught up in the historic feel to his campaign. Obama will roll off a string of stirring speeches and embark on a series of sit-down interviews to open up about his life. Hopefully, he will pick a steady hand for his V.P. to settle the nerves of all those Midwestern farmers he typecast.
Imagining a Hillary victory, and its impact on the Democratic Party raises different concerns. Certainly financing and organization would not be issues, as Hillary has all the quantifiable tools. What she doesn't have is the intangibles. The general like-ability of Obama, his pop culture appeal, and his bandwagon supporters. Much like Tiger Woods brought people into golf who were never before golf fans, Obama has done the same for politics. One reality of this luxury for the P.G.A., is that when Tiger doesn't play, T.V. ratings plummet. If Hillary were to win, and Obama doesn't end up as her V.P., one has to wonder what would happen to his bandwagon supporters. Would they vote for Hillary? Resent Hillary for her attacks on Obama and vote for McCain? Or simply lose interest and not vote at all?
Today First Lady Laura Bush made a rare public statement with political overtones. The First Lady has used her platform to promote education or women's health, yet remained quiet on wider ranging issues. Today Mrs. Bush called for Burma to accept U.S. aid after suffering catastrophic damage from a cyclone over the weekend. Under military control since 1962, the Burmese suffer from an oppressive, corrupt, and brutal junta.
This is an impressive and commendable moment in Laura Bush's tenure as First Lady. She has been quietly supportive despite an unprecedented number of personal attacks on the President in the last 8 years. Today she used her "bully pulpit" to call for an indisputable good. Rarely does one consider a First Lady to have any sort of "bully pulpit," however, the current public opinion of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue leaves her as the only affable face. Mrs. Bush is the only figure in the White House with a positive approval rating and has only days before her daughter's wedding in Crawford. Hopefully the Burmese will relent to western aid, this will at least ease disaster, but do little for a country with so many problems. According to the CIA Factbook, Burma is the world's second largest producer of illicit opium, a source country for sex trafficking, and generally a horrible place to live. Haiti is better. A sad story of colonialism, Haiti was the first Black republic to declare its independence in 1804, yet has seen nothing but turmoil for 204 years establishing it as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Tough choice, I'd take Haiti, at least with a boat you can get to a decent country.
On May 5, 1862, General Ignacio Zaragoza stops the French Army led by Napoleon Bonaparte. The future resident of Elba came to collect debts owed by the Mexican government. For all those anti-Francophiles, Cinco de Maya should be a day to toast their cause célèbre.
A slight problem has emerged of late for my beloved high school alma mater. You see, we are the Cougars, for years known as a sleek, swift, and strong feline. Lately, it seems that the word, "cougar" has taken on a new meaning. These elder statesmen of the singles pool do have the cunning and ferocity of their namesake, therefore I cannot protest the appropriateness of this definitional usurping. In good spirit, here are some of my favorite cougars.
Schlitz Beer was founded in the 1850's by Joseph Schlitz of Milwaukee. For the next 120 years, Schlitz Brewery grew into the beer of the American working man. It's well known slogan, "The Beer that made Milwaukee famous," tied in well with its blue collar appeal.
In 1963, Schlitz Brewing introduced Schlitz Malt Liquor in 8-ounce cans bearing the stylized image of a bull. Initially targeted to the yuppie set, Schlitz had to recast their brand once it failed to take hold.
By the mid 70's the marketing schemes were clearly defined, Schlitz Beer was for the American man, the man that reads Playboy, sails, and lives in a 2 story Colonial with a picket fence. Whereas Schlitz Malt Liquor would be aimed at African-Americans.
Northwestern High School in Liberty City, Miami, Florida is one of the best football teams in the country year in, year out. They are known as "The Bulls," and their logo closely resembles Schlitz's Malt Liquor Bull.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Previously discussed in light of Barbara Walter's admission, journalist-politician trysts test the strains of each profession's ethics. A particularly glaring example of this tension occurred last year, when Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa admitted to an affair with Telemundo anchor Mirthala Salinas. The affair not only showed Mr. Villaraigosa's infidelity, but also tainted the luster of the first Latino-American to hold the title of L.A. Mayor. Salinas' actions add another bow to the quiver of those aiming at the ivory tower of corporate media.
When one thinks of the individual who has most influenced popular culture in the last 20+ years, many names come to mind. Music producers like Dr. Dre and P. Diddy shaped the sound of hip hop and opened it to the suburban masses. Pop stars from Madonna to Britney Spears set trends in fashion, style, and attitude. Actors Tom Cruise and Mel Gibson have moved from starring in blockbusters to calling the shots. Yet none of these individuals have a mullet like Billy Ray Cyrus.
That must be the reason for his sustained, yet unexplainable pop culture success for 2 decades. Billy Ray's country music career was highlighted by "Achy Breaky Heart", a honky tonk anthem that America couldn't get enough of in 1992. In large part due to the widespread appeal of "Achy Breaky Heart," line dancing saw a meteoric rise in popularity. Equally inexplicable, mullets, aka, business in the front, party in the back, also saw an early 90's resurgence. One would think that Cyrus and his Kentucky waterfall would slip quietly into VH-1 oblivion. Able to do what others had failed at previously, Billy Ray emerged post millenium as his pop culture alter-ego. Once redder than NASCAR, the new Billy Ray is none other than a metrosexual.
Since 2006 Billy Ray has been co-starring on the Disney show, "Hannah Montana," with his daughter Miley as the title character. The show has been a runaway success and subsequent concert touring has been SRO only. Miley's career is red-hot with her singing and acting package making her the next pop tween turd. Billy Ray has truly conquered both abysses of American culture, country music and teen pop. When the history books characterize American music, and culture in general, for the last 20 years, you can blame Billy Ray.
Saturday, May 3, 2008
"Wingman" is a term that denotes the role one undertakes to assist a friend in the quest of the opposite sex. It is widely believed the term gained pop culture traction from 1986's "Top Gun." Which erstwhile ladies man would you prefer to wing?
Ty Webb would lead you to the cougar den, but just as likely slip out the back with a fox while you sit with this.
B.C., Before Corningstone, Ron Burgundy was a team player and would never leave a wingman hanging. In fact, Ol' Ron might even pull the midnight switcheroo if you aren't satisfied.
Ted Danson would be a tough call. Plenty of booze, likely on the cheap, but a real likelihood of settling for Kirstie Alley after sitting with Norm and Cliff for hours.
The news this week that Roger Clemens began a relationship with country music singer Mindy McMcready when she was 15 is disturbing. Rocket sure does keep blowing 'em away; Mitchell Report, Senate Hearings, McCready, Daly's wife. Takes the luster off of winning this award.
Even more horrifying was the news that Karl Malone fathered a child with a 13 year old while he was a sophomore in college. One of the best power forwards in NBA history is certainly bigger, stronger, and faster than a 13 year old. And we thought politicians were the horny goats with creepy sexual pasts.
Friday, May 2, 2008
When one thinks of ridiculously hot weather girls, usually the mind wanders to the beauties of Latin news. Jackie Guerrido "¡Despierta América!" from Univision has been the gold standard lately. However, Sky News based in the United Kingdom has demonstrated that British weather girls can be caliente, even while reporting on another day of cloudy rain. Lisa Burke and Lucy Versamy of Sky News close the gap on Latin hottie domination in weather reporting.