RATHER NOT: For the “journalistic coup of the year,” the interview of Saddam Hussein by Dan Rather sure didn’t make a lot of news. Due to the ground rules of the interview (much as with an Iraqi election, Saddam’s camp essentially controlled every aspect of the process, including the tapes), Rather was able to ask virtually no tough questions and wasn’t able to challenge any of Hussein’s ludicrous assertions, from his insistance that he was “elected,” to his argument that Iraq wasn’t “defeated” in the first Gulf War, but rather chose “voluntarily” to withdraw from Kuwait.
I’m not sure if the problem was Rather’s timidity, the Iraqi restrictions, or the editing of the tape, but more time was given to Saddam’s DOA idea of a “debate” with President Bush than to discussion of gassings-of-the-Kurds or of weapons of mass destruction, and a five-minute tangent was broadcast in which the dictator interrupted his translator for disrespecting the first President Bush by failing to refer to him as “Mr. Bush.” Rather did not mention until a later on-camera narration that Saddam himself was much more disrespectful of Bush, Sr., himself, when he tried to kill him in 1993.
Just as in Rather’s previous interview with Saddam in 1990, the sitdown was a “huge get” that will ultimately prove worthless from both a journalistic and historical standpoint. And I bet it loses in the ratings to “I’m a Celebrity- Get Me Out of Here!”- it certainly won’t out-rate the Robert Blake interview that aired later that night.
CHARLES FOSTER KANE AND HIS SISTER, MEG: Normally, Roger Ebert’s Sunday “Movie Answer Man” column is the last place to look for inside info about neo-garage rock. But that’s what I got this week, when Ebert answered a letter from a reader who recently watched “Citizen Kane” with his two children, when he noticed something strange:
“Whereupon everyone bursts into a song, ‘There is a man, a certain man … ,’ after a few lines, my kids were mouthing the words. I was incredulous until they told me these were the lyrics to a song by the White Stripes, ‘The Union Forever,’ on the hit album ‘White Blood Cells.’ While the tune is utterly different, the lyrics are exactly those in the film and they are bracketed by other significant lines from the “Kane” script.
Lines from ‘Kane’ make up the entire bridge section of the song:
“There is a man/a certain man/and for the poor you may be sure/that he’ll do all he can/who is this one?/who’s favourite son?/just by his action has the traction/magnets on the run/who likes to smoke/enjoys a joke/and wouldn’t get a bit/upset if he were really broke/with wealth and fame/he’s still the same/I’ll bet you five you’re not alive/If you don’t know his name”
The song appears in its entirety to be a homage to ‘Kane’; singer Jack White even says “I’m C.F.K.” in its first verse. Now, since the Stripes gave themselves sole songwriting credit for the song, they may soon be in trouble with Warner Bros. (which owns the rights to ‘Kane’), as well as the writers’ guild, and the estates of Herman J. Mankiewicz and Orson Welles.
Funny, I thought I knew quite a bit about The Greatest Film of All Time from my Film Studies days- but I’ve been listening to that Stripes album for almost two years, and I somehow never noticed until now. Even more strangely, the letter writer, Phil Freshman, is (like me) from St. Louis Park, MN.
LIBERAL MEDIA DEATHWATCH: Phil Donahue’s show has been canceled; could Salon be far behind?
IT’S THE END OF ‘THE WORLD’: In a story that, for the first time ever, has led Gawker to link to 411wrestling.com, World Wrestling Entertainment has decided to close its Times Square restaurant/nightclub, The World. The club, while indicative of the wrestling group’s rise in demographic status in the late ’90s, managed to lose $18 million in less than three years of operation.
I went to The World (previously known as “WWF New York”) a few times, and always enjoyed both the food and the atmosphere- sort of a wrestling fan’s theme park during the week, while on weekends The World became a vibrant nightclub with next to no references to wrestling at all. During my one visit to the nightclub incarnation in the summer of 2001, I ran into the legendary Howard Stern character Hank the Drunken Angry Dwarf, mere weeks before his death.
The closing is indicative of the falling popularity of wrestling, and shows once again that WWF/E has been utterly incapable of any type of successful business endeavors outside of wrestling (see also, “No Holds Barred,” the World Bodybuilding Federation, the XFL, etc.). And it also tells us something about the decline of Disneyfied Times Square, which in recent months has also seen the shuttering of the 42nd St. HMV record store, the food court next to the AMC Empire cinema, and numerous other businesses. It’s only a matter of time before the hookers and peepshows return…
FISKING, NOT FISTING: WKIKYA has a memorable response to The Justice’s review of the recent performance of “The Vagina Monologues” at our alma mater, Brandeis.
POLL POSITION: Just another few days left to vote!
KG: MVP?: The Minnesota Timberwolves have been on an absolute tear lately, and there’s even talk now that All-Star Game MVP Kevin Garnett could be a candidate for MVP of the league. And in Monday’s victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, KG showed just how valuable he is.
On top of his league-leading 47th double-double of the year, Garnett pulled off a hilariously effective move at the game’s end: With the Wolves ahead by 3 points with two seconds left and the Bucks out of timeouts, Garnett was able to sneak up behind Bucks coach George Karl as Karl designed a last-second play, and as a result, knew exactly where the play was going and caught the pass from Gary Payton, thus ensuring a Minnesota victory.
Despite injuries to key players Wally Szczerbriak and Terrell Brandon, everything has gone right for the T-Wolves on the court this year, with Garnett’s career year, and surprisingly effective performances by players like Troy Hudson, Kendall Gill, and Rasho Nesterovic. After losing six consecutive first-round playoff series, the Wolves this year are actually in position to gain home-court advantage in the first round, and should gain an advantage from the new rules that expand Round 1 to seven games. If the Twins can win their first playoff series since 1991, I don’t see why the Wolves can’t win their first since 1989…