Monthly Archives: April 2004

The “Nightline” Broadcast

Assuming it doesn’t conflict with the T-Wolves’ playoff victory, I plan to watch tonight’s much-publicized “Nightline,” which will feature a reading of the names of every American soldier killed in Iraq.
The broadcast has been roundly attacked by the conservative side of the blogosphere pretty much since it was announced, though I can’t figure out why; the main arguments seem to be that the show has a hidden agenda to undermine the war, that Ted Koppel is a radical leftist who seeks to exploit the war for partisan political gain, and that the whole enterprise is a big stunt aimed at the first night of sweeps month. One owner of stations has even refused to air it.
As someone who did (and continues to) support the war in Iraq and who hasn’t watched “Nightline” in at least a year, my retort to those three arguments is, “bullshit,” “bullshit,” and “bullshit.” First of all, if it were “Nightline”‘s agenda to undermine the war effort, don’t they have other tools at their disposal? Such as, say, throwing up pictures of blood, severed limbs, and other such wartime horrors? A listing of names accompanied by American flags and music isn’t exactly the sort of material that’s likely to ratchet up anti-American feelings.
As for Koppel, is he a liberal? Most likely. Did he oppose the war in Iraq? I would imagine he probably did. But come on- we’re not dealing with Noam Chomsky here. Koppel is one of the most respected journalists in the country, and in more than 30 years I don’t think any reputable source has ever questioned his honesty or his integrity. Unless you’re of the mind that being a liberal signifies a lack of both. If anyone in television news has the gravitas to pull off such a move, it’s Ted Koppel.
And thirdly, anyone who calls tonight’s broadcast a “sweeps stunt” clearly knows nothing about how sweeps work. The four sweeps periods are when the networks are measured for ratings and demographics as to set advertising rates for the following three months. Is one night of “Nightline,” on a Friday, really going to have that big an effect on that 30-day average, and thus on ABC’s bottom line? I’d imagine that ABC’s television brass, if they hadn’t just been fired, would be more concerned with the upcoming series finale of “The Practice.”
As I said, I’m planning to watch the show, and if it turns out I was way off I’ll say so. But if there’s some reason why it’s inherently wrong for ABC to commemorate the dead, then I’d love to hear it.

Daniel Boorstin, RIP

The noted historian and social theorist Daniel Boorstin passed away in late February, though a DC memorial service the other night is the first I’d heard of his death. That the inevitable, probably-sooner-rather-than-later passing of Courtney Love will receive exponentially more attention than Boorstin’s own death is indicative of how right Boorstin was.
Boorstin spent 12 years as Librarian of Congress, but I’ll always know him as the author of the 1961 book “The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America.” He defined a “pseudo-event” as something that is “planted primarily (not always exclusively) for the immediate purpose of being reported or reproduced.”
Considering America today seems to consist of more pseudo-events than events- whether we’re talking about politics, sports, television, pop culture, or just about anything else- Boorstin showed a prescience about the future reminiscent of Marshal McLuhan’s. He will be greatly missed.

Quote of the Day

Who But Lileks:

“At the college paper we lived in a warm capacious womb, dogpaddling in the amniotic fluid of our unexamined assumptions, writing sentences as bad as this one and thinking ourselves quite clever. These things we knew: Soviet influence in Central America could be blunted by a complete withdrawal of American support; Ronald Reagan was indifferent to the possibility of nuclear war; Europeans were wise rational Vulcans to our crass carnivorous Earthlings, except for isolated throwback horrors like Margaret Thatcher. All new weapons systems were boondoggles that wouldn’t work and would never be needed, and served as penis substitutes for Jack D. Ripper-type generals who probably went home and poured lighter fluid on toy soldiers, lit them with a Zippo and cackled maniacally. A nuclear freeze was the first step to a safer world, because if everyone had 10,237 ICBMs instead of 10,238 we might be less inclined to use them. The Soviets were our enemy only because we thought they were, which forced them to act like our enemy. Soldiers were brainwashed killbots or gung-ho rapist killbots who signed up only because Reagan had personally shuttered the doors of the local steel mill, depriving them of jobs. Of all wars in human history, Vietnam was the most typical. Higher taxes on the rich resulted in fewer poor people. The inexplicable mulishness of big business was the only thing that held back widespread adoption of solar power.
The world outside the campus was crass and stupid and run by the people who went to frats and sororities. Say no more.”

I think I outgrew that attitude by the end of high school, but that’s just me. In 7th grade I was probably 95% liberal, and by the end of high school I’d say about 85% (some of my classmates I’d put around 120%). I gradually dropped throughout college until I was about 70% at the end. Around 9/11 I reached my all-time liberal low of 60%, but now I’d say I’m back up to 75.

A Creative Superstar Creates Runs

Red Sox second baseman and sabermetric fave Mark Bellhorn is off to a great start this year, leading the American League in walks. I recently saw his picture and noticed that he looked sort of familiar. Actually, if he were to take off his hat and grow his sideburns a little, Bellhorn would look quite a bit like this guy:

Who himself, in turn, was always a dead ringer, I thought, for this man:

Yes, Miller Lite’s Swedish-produced “Dick, Creative Superstar” really was one of my favorite ad campaigns of all time, a whole lot more witty than those stupid Budweiser frogs. Who knows why it didn’t catch on- but here’s a Dick fansite.
This Has Been a Miller Time Presentation By Thank You For Your Time.

1. Grab the nearest CD
2. Put it in your CD-Player (or start your mp3-player, I-tunes, etc.).
3. Skip to Song 3 (or load the 3rd song in your 3rd playlist)
4. Post the first verse in your journal along with these instructions.
Don’t name the band, nor the album-title.
God, what a mess, on the ladder of success
Where you take one step and miss the whole first rung
Dreams unfulfilled, graduate unskilled
It beats pickin’ cotton and waitin’ to be forgotten

The Best Minds of My Generation

Had drinks last night in Manhattan with Sheila, Bill, and Jim Moran at Bellevue on 40th St.- which is a legitimate heavy-metal dive bar where the tattoos and cowboy hats are worn unironically- don’t give me any of this Coyote Ugly/Village Idiot “wacker” crap.
It’s the sort of bar where, as Sheila relayed, the two TVs once simultaneously played a “Ron Jeremy-era” hardcore porn film, and a biopic of Evel Knievel. But really, any time in the last 20 years could safely be called “the Ron Jeremy era”; this would be like referring to a baseball game as being from “the Rickey Henderson Era.”
Anyway, great to hang out with some friends and fellow bloggers; we of course spent four hours discussing sports, politics, movies, and whether the bar had anything to do with Allen Ginsburg’s “from park to pad to bar to Bellevue.”