Entries from January 2009 ↓

Have Our Weary Feet Come to the Place for Which Our Fathers Sighed?

The Nation inaugural cover

The cover of The Nation magazine‘s February 2 edition, above, depicting the inauguration of Barack Obama as it would take place were America, and not God alone, truly just.

Go to The Nation‘s specially prepared key for the identities of all persons portrayed.

Art by John Mavroudis.

Press Start.

[insert “Super Mario theme” here]

[via thisisbandit.com]

Pimp My Rolling Presidential Fortress.

Barack Obama presidential limo

Barack Obama and the First Lady will be transported the 2-mile distance down Pennsylvania Ave. tomorrow, as part of the inaugural procession, in the dashing black vehicle, above.

The new presidential whip fulfills a processional tradition of escorting the new leader of the free world in a new, secure ride. The car was fashioned by a grateful Cadillac, which, as part of GM, was sure able to use the work.

“Cadillac is honored to serve and renew this great tradition,” said GM spokeswoman Joanne K. Krell. “And it is entirely appropriate that an American president has at his service a great American vehicle.”

But though it’s a Cadillac, the car is “not a direct extension of any single model,” Krell added.

“The presidential vehicle is built to precise and special specifications, undergoes extreme testing and development, and also incorporates many of the top aspects of Cadillac’s ‘regular’ cars — such as signature design, hand-cut-and-sewn interiors, etc.”

Presidential inaugural limo, side view

Asked about what special protective elements have been built into the vehicle, shown here from the side, in order to safeguard what has been, without doubt, the most threatened President-elect in American history, Krell replied,

“I am really  prohibited from actually talking about the safety features of the car.”

In a press release, Nicholas Trotta, assistant Secret Service director for the Office of Protective Operations, was no more illuminating.

“Although many of the vehicle’s security enhancements cannot be discussed, it is safe to say that this car’s security and coded communications systems make it the most technologically advanced protection vehicle in the world.”

Of course, as everybody knows, retirees like to talk, and Joe Funk, a retired Secret Service agent who, during part of his time with the Service, drove President Clinton, is no exception. According to CNN, he thinks

Obama should expect two seemingly contradictory feelings when riding in the presidential limousine. …

“I think he will be surprised about how when he’s in the limo, it’s a cocoon,” Funk said. “The everyday noises will be gone, and he will be totally isolated in this protective envelope.”

“At the same time, I think he will be surprised at the communication capabilities, how the phones, the satellites, the Internet — everything is at his fingertips,” he said. “So at one end, you are totally removed from society. The other side of the coin is that he can have any communications worldwide at a moment’s touch.”

Maximum clarity on the Service’s safety concerns, though, arrived in the person of Ken Lucci, CEO of Ambassador Limousine Inc., which owns two presidential transports from Reagan’s administration.

“The limousines of yesteryear were designed just well enough to provide protection to get the president out of the situation. In today’s case, they [the Secret Service] expect a prolonged attack, and they expect an attack that is a lot more violent than [with] a weapon you can hold in you hand.”

“It literally is a rolling bunker,” he says. “It just happens to have wheels on it.”


The Year of Living Sexually.

2008 calendar

Charlotte, NC public relations consultant Charla Muller had a problem.

Her husband, Brad, was about to turn 40, and she needed to appropriately commemorate the date. She wanted to give him something unique and original, something that nobody else would think of giving him, “something so dramatic and different that Brad would never ever pause to remember what I gave him for his fortieth birthday.”

She thought, and thought, and strategized, and when she finally told her husband what she wanted to give him, “he literally fell over”:

Sex. Every Day. For a Year.

Her story of their experience, 365 Nights: A Memoir of Intimacy, tells how gettin’ it on every 24 hours “transformed a marriage.” But as opposed to being a diary of Charla and Brad’s technique, “it’s a book about the ups and downs of married life, trying to have it all (and failing) and figuring out how to get back to the basics of a grounded, faith-based marriage,” Charla says on her web site.

Charla Muller is the guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, January 16, at 2 pm ET.

Slingshot Hip-Hop artFollowing my conversation with Charla, I’ll also be talking with Jackie Salloum, director of the documentary Slingshot Hip-Hop, right, and Ora Wise, education director / associate producer of the project.

The film covers the resistance against Israeli occupation in Palestine as it is waged intellectually by hip-hop artists in the region. Some may recall that I wrote about Jackie’s film and the Palestinian hip-hop scene, back in the March 2008 edition of VIBE magazine, and here, on MEDIA ASSASSIN. As well, I subsequently spoke about these subjects on WNYC Radio’s Soundcheck program, with host John Schaefer.

Given the logarithmic escalation over the past three weeks of the ongoing atrocities in the region, I’m thrilled to have these brave activists on my program.

You can hear their ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

The New Blackface of Fashion.

i-D Magazine goes all out

Freelance writer, novelist, and screenwriter Erica Kennedy‘s Facebook group, Feminista’s Advertising Hall of Fame (or Lame?), documents the “best and worst examples of commercial advertising.” In fact, this winner, above, isn’t an ad, as American Apparel rushed to make clear, shortly after the page ran in i-D Magazine back in 2007, but part of that publication’s own outré fashion pages. (You’ve gotta be offensive if a scummy advertiser of half-naked immigrant women like AA doesn’t want anything to do with your editorial.)

Readers who recall my quasi-crusade against VOGUE’s foul LeBron James / Gisele Bundchen cover almost a year ago aren’t surprised at the way racist imagery continues to be subsumed into white High Style, and neither am I. However, upon sight of this photo, I have to admit to a flash of weariness. Like, the need to create this stuff never dies, does it?

West Virginia, You Slaw Me.

West Virgina Slaw Map

I feel your pain: You’re driving through the glorious Mountain State of West Virginia, and you ask yourself: If I stop for a hot dog, will they offer slaw as a topping, or look at me funny if I ask for it?

Wonder no longer: Thanks to the people at Strange Maps blog, this color-coded display will tell you what hot dog joints (HDJ) in which counties offer slaw, usually offer slaw, or don’t offer it at all. Apparently, if you’re a slaw-lover, it’s best to stay in the central, pastel green part of the state, while avoiding the extreme red north and northeast counties of Hancock, Brooke, Jefferson, Berkeley, and the like.

If you’re not from West Virginny, though, right now you’re probably thinking, Slaw? You mean, cole slaw? On a hot dog?

No jokes, folks. According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, there’s a definite and longstanding

Southern preference for coleslaw as a hot dog topping (imaginatively dubbed ‘dragged through the garden’). This also happens to be an essential ingredient of the West Virginia Hot Dog (WVHD), as described by wvhotdogs.com: “A true WVHD is a heavenly creation that begins with a wiener on a bun. Add mustard, a chili-like sauce and top it off with coleslaw and chopped onions (…) Different parts of West Virginia have variations on the theme but the common elements are sweet, creamy coleslaw and chili. Anything else is just not a true WVHD!”

Gettin’ hungry just reading it. Road trip, anybody?

Calm Down, Ladies. There’s Plenty of This Guy to Go Around.

Fanboys teaser one-sheet

40 Year Old Virgin posterIt’s 1998. A group of hardcore Star Wars devotees plot a road trip to George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch headquarters, hoping to steal a print of the soon-to-be-released Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. Hilarity ensues.

That’s the plot of Fanboys, out February 2009. More than the movie, however, I’m drawn to the one-sheet design by The Refinery, above, parodying Crew Creative‘s now famous poster for Steve Carell’s The 40-Year-Old Virgin, right. Fanboys, apparently, relate.

Trash Saved from the Ruins.

Pepsi, “Archaeology”

Pepsi sure ran whole hog with their “Choice of a New Generation” campaign, back in the ’80s. But nothing demonstrates the level at which they were feeling themselves more than this award-winning, 1985 commercial, “Archaeology,” directed by ad great Joe Pytka.

Take a gander at it: Nearly 25 years later, the payoff is still one of the best disses ever in corporate marketing. (Plus, the shuttle, departing overhead, is pure visual magic, the cherry on top, the ping! in the overture.) It would be some sweet writing if I could end this paragraph’s first sentence by saying, “…and a blow from which Coca-Cola never recovered.” In truth, Coke still kicks Pepsi’s behind up and down the street.

Australia: A Massive Watermass Surrounded By Land.

Australia As A Puddle

The always interesting Strange Maps blog posted the above pic, “Australia As A Puddle,” the day they found a name for one of their longstanding addictions: Cartocacoethes, or “the compulsion to see maps everywhere.”

Eyes Up Here.

Heidi Montag checks her melons

Blessed, or cursed, with a bustline out of proportion to her diminutive frame, author Susan Seligson joined the “Lemons? Make Lemonade!” brigade and wrote a book about America’s fascination with breasts.

Maxi Mounds shows of her breastsStacked: A 32DDD Reports from the Front chronicles the writer’s travels everywhere from the offices of a plastic surgeon specializing in breast enhancement, to New York’s best bra shop, to a Las Vegas convention of exotic dancers. There, Seligson waits to meet the cantilevered Maxi Mounds, right, whose 42M brassiere cups each hold one 20-pound ta-ta stuffed to capacity with polypropylene string.

Susan Seligson is the guest today on a repeat edition of my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, January 9, at 2 pm ET.

We’re also joined in the conversation by photographer Jordan Matter, whose “Uncovered” project depicts New York City women in public places—at street crossings, on park benches, by bridges—completely topless. He photographed Susan for “Uncovered,” and she documents the experience in Stacked.

You can hear their ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.