Friday, November 16, 2007

Freestyle Friday

NO MOBS--NO CONFUSIONS--NO TUMULTS

Let's begin today with the often-crapulous "thoughts" of our fellow citizens.

In metro, one of our free papers here in NYC, there's a daily feature called "Today's debate" where some schmuck with a camera accosts three people on the street and asks them whatever shallow question is in the air at that moment. One such burning issue recently in the news is the preponderance of so-called hate crimes. Metro's roving reporter, or inquiring photographers, as they used to be called back in the day when every newspaper had one, posed the question this way:

"Why do you think hate crimes are up 20% in the City this year?"

The first person, a woman, responded thusly: "Not enough work, problems in the job market." Okay, I thought to myself, I can see that. I once took a sociology class at Hunter College called "The Economic Roots of Violence" or something like that, so I'm not averse to that mode of thinking.

But the second guy -- one Billy Amzallag, 49, a self-described business analyst from Brooklyn -- got even more specific: "Unemployment, rising real estate," he opined. "The job market is very tight." Wow! So I can't afford a house so let me hang a noose on someone's door or paint a swastika on the local synagogue. Damn mortgage rates! I'll teach you to adjust the prime rate, you Scalawag!
Earlier this week another raging debate played itself out in the pages of metro: "If the Writers Strike continues, what TV show would you miss most, and why?" The first two answers were nondescript, but the third one was a real winner. Juan Carlos Vargas, a 25-year-old architect from Long Island, showed off his solid grasp of pop culture by mentioning a show that has been off the air since May of 2006: "I'll miss Will & Grace because I really like Karen Walker." Way to turn the page there, Juan. Given that kind of superficiality, we'll be expecting big things from you in that whole building design thing, provided you eventually get past obsessing over a fictional television character.

It's amazing how these "Man in the Street" features always manage to find the three most uninformed human beings walking among us on any given day. But for sheer volume of uninformed, misguided and just plain batshit thought processes, sports talk radio is the forum of choice. After the Cowboys beat the Giants 31-20 last Sunday, New York fans demonstrated their complete command of the obvious, as demonstrated by the guy who called up WFAN the other morning with this trenchant nugget: "If you take away the first Romo TD when he crossed the line of scrimmage, and all the other Giant mistakes, it's a different game." Craig Carton rightly laughed the guy off the air, saying, Sure, if you take away all the TDs one team scores and eliminate all the mistakes, bad plays and penalties of the other team, guess what -- the outcome of a given game may indeed be altered in a substantial fashion. And if you took away some pertinent anatomy from your uncle, he'd be your aunt instead.

Speaking of Carton, he's half of the new morning team along with Boomer Eiasion that replaced Don Imus. At first I had written off the show because of advance word about Carton being sort of a typical morning zoo kind of radio personality, but you know what: he's not that bad, knows a lot about sports, and comes off as pretty sharp and witty. It's actually not as unlistenable as you might have expected. I still find myself switching between WFAN, ESPN and Air America in the morning before I leave the house. Years ago I listened religiously to music while getting ready for work, mostly WFUV, but my listening patterns have changed over the years. Just thought I'd share that with you while I was on the subject...

...and Speaking of Sports, I am not one of those spoiled Yankees fans who are Alex Rodriguez haters. In fact, I am smart enough to realize that this guy is one of the all-time greats in the history of the game. Not only that, but I also don't believe in booing a guy as long as he hustles and doesn't come up short in the effort department. But all that said, I do have to trot out one gigantic NEVERTHELESS when it comes to A-Rod returning to the Yanks with a big new contract.

Like most fans, I had already mentally turned the page and come to terms with an Alex Rodriguezless New York Yankees ball club next year. The way I figured it, we could NOT win a playoff series again next year WITHOUT him, just like we DIDN'T win one WITH him this year, thank you very much. It's kind of like after someone breaks up with you. At first it's tough, but once you've made up your mind to turn the corner and get your self-esteem back, the last thing you want is that person back in your life. Yet here comes Alex back into the fold.

Someone floated the theory that A-Rod is suddenly in a big hurry to get signed before the Mitchell Report on steroid use becomes public and his name gets mentioned prominently as a player who has used illegal performance-enhancing substances a la home run king Barry Bonds. That would serve the Yankees right for reneging their pledge to cut ties with A-Rod once he chose to opt out of his original contract. I know it bothered team captain Derek Jeter, who made recent comments to that effect. But Jeter may have more important things on his plate right now than taking jabs at his former BFF given news that New York State is seeking to collect millions of dollars in back taxes against him.

Another good Office episode last night with a conflicted Michael giving testimony in a deposition relating to Jan's lawsuit against Dunder-Mifflin. Have you noticed the commercials being run week after week during that time slot by companies like Career Builder and Monster are increasingly being geared toward the legions of dissatisfied, unfulfilled office drones and cubicle serfs that apparently make up the show's demographic? Makes sense...

I've watched the Caveman show on ABC almost every week since it debuted about six weeks ago, and after initially dismissing it as hideously unfunny, I have to be fair and admit that it's starting to grow on me like, well, the hair on a prehistoric man's arms. Is it just me or is this a burgeoning trend? Probably just a result of me not having cable television...
One popular series I've somehow managed to avoid up till now are the 40 or so different permutations of Law & Order spread over 40 or so different channels and time slots. But lately I've been regularly watching the Law & Order: Criminal Intent reruns being shown on Channel 9 at 11:00 in the New York area featuring the guy from Full Metal Jacket, Vincent D'Onofrio, and that blond woman (Kathryn Erbe) who plays the other detective. It's no Kojak, of course, but what is? Yet as far as the police procedural genre goes, it's pretty good: with believable plots, top-notch acting, and clever writing. D'Onofrio is excellent as the constantly fidgeting, intuitive cop who tries to get under the skin of suspects in the attempt to get them to slip up, and has a good understated chemistry with Erbe.

There was one episode on recently that I really liked concerning the murder of a college professor. One suspect, a grad student, was writing his dissertation on Bob Dylan's Desolation Row, which is a sure-fire way to keep me interested, as lyrics from that epic song on Highway 61 Revisited were being cleverly bandied about and woven into the storyline.

Saw something on the subway the other day that I had never seen in all my decades of riding the rails: An Asian woman reaching into her pocketbook and handing out two big corn on the cobs (or is "corns on the cob") to her young daughters, who proceeded to devour them with a ravenous glee. For some reason it really tickled me to see that.

I could go on, but I think you get the point...

5 comments:

Serge A. Storms said...

Did I read "prestidgous" and "UPenn" in the same sentence? It's not like we're talking Harvard here.

You're right though, the "Man on the Street" usually ends up being whatever non-sober mouthbreather they happen to find. (See: The Onion's American Voices.)

I'm unaware of the events in your city, so I don't know the nature of these "hate crimes", but i'd imagine that the actual number of crimes hasn't gone up so much as the number of people reporting them.

I agree with you on the Criminal Intent. It's the only one of the flood of Law and Orders I watch, and I'm pretty sure the only channel showing new episodes is USA.

Anonymous said...

I REALLY ENJOY THIS. DON'T STOP WRITING. I HAVE TO TYPE IN CAPS BECAUSE I FEEL LIKE IT.

ANYWAYS, YOUR WRITING MAKES A LOT OF SENSE WHICH IS HARD TO FATHOM CONSIDERING THE MILLIONS OF UNREADABLE BLOGS ON THE INTERNET.

MY CAPS LOCK DOESN'T HELP READING THIS, BUT I TRY NOT TO HELP WHEN I DON'T HAVE TO.

GOMER PYLE IS AWESOME ON LAW AND ORDER.
I ENJOY THE ONES WITH JERRY ORBACH THE MOST.

WHEN WILL YOU WRITE ABOUT THE RACIAL/SOCIAL THEMES DISCUSSED IN THAT SITCOM THAT HOLDS A SPECIAL PLACE IN MY HEART, "PERFECT STRANGERS"?

ANY NUGGETS OF KNOWLEDGE THAT CAN BE EXPOUNDED ON BALKI AND LARRY'S LIFE AS ELIGIBLE BACHELORS TRYING TO MAKE A GOOD LIFE IN CHICAGO?

AND WHAT ABOUT THE CAREER OF SUZANNE SOMERS POST-THREES COMPANY?

AND WHERE DO YOU LIST THE DEBUT OF "AMERICAN GLADIATORS" AS FAR AS THE MOST MEMORABLE MOMENTS IN TELEVISION?

I CAN ONLY ASK...

SEE YA WEDNESDAY,
CAPS LOCK TANVIR

jimithegreek said...

OK, first Kathryn Elbe is a baberama! the man on the street's are always lame in every newspaper. Cant get into boomer & carton, especially since imus will be back in a couple of weeks. i cant believe you ara actually watching the caveman show!

cowboys - packers should be a doozy!

Anonymous said...

very useful post. I would love to follow you on twitter.

The Warden said...

Thanks, anon, but at present I'm not a Twitterer. I've been called a twit, but I think that's something different.