In October of 2008, You Learned:
HAVE A SCARY HAPPY HALLOWEEN (OH, TODD, YOU DID IT AGAIN!).
I would just like to take this moment to wish everyone a perfectly great Halloween and, in case I don't get to see you tonight, let me tell you right now how much I love your Mad Men costume. Great suit! Great skinny tie! And wait a second, is that a part in your hair? Kudos on your attention to detail. The drink in your hand was also a nice touch at this holiday party with an open bar. Thanks for doing your part to keep away the ghouls.
(I just hope I'm the only one at the party tonight dressed as this.)
BURYING THE LEDE.
As you may have heard already, another in-the-works plot against Barack Obama's life was foiled. (Hey cops, where were you when Jessica Tandy was murdered?) We've already seen the photo of a spooky skinhead teenager with a Swastika tattoo and Kevlar vest, brandishing a rifle, because it's been thoughtfully published by every single news source in America, including Backstage Magazine. I realize when this kind of image rears its head, our news media has a responsibility to publish it--preferably in color, as large as possible, and beneath a headline written in that type face that looks like the letters are dripping vampire blood--but I can't help but think there's something really irresponsible about the way this story was run.
I'm not talking about the fact that this is the sort of incendiary news that
could make some on-the-fence voters think twice about voting for a Presidential candidate they worry might be targeted for assassination. Or the possibility that this kind of story could give other, less creative types a similar idea. No, I just think it was incredibly irresponsible of our national news media to sit for several days on this important detail from the story:
"Both individuals stated that they would dress in all-white tuxedos and wear top hats during the assassination attempt..."
WHITE TUXEDOS AND TOP HATS??!!?? Why wasn't this mentioned the moment this story broke? Why wasn't this the headline in every single article, and the intro in every single TV news package? So many possibilities. The mind reels:
- WOULD-BE ASSASSINS PLANNED TO GO OUT 'IN STYLE'
- HEIL HALSTON!
- BAD GUYS WEAR WHITE
- DRESSED TO KILL
- A WHITE POWER TIE AFFAIR
- (FLAK) JACKET REQUIRED
- ASSASSINATION PLOT? FANCY THAT!
- TOP HATS, TAILS, AND A HIGH-POWERED RIFLE
- DOOMSDAY DANDIES
- PROM KING KILLERS (alternately, DOMINICAN WEDDING ATTENDANT KILLERS)
- DO YOU HAVE ANY GREY POUPON AND BULLETS?
- TWO JACKASSES SMOKE WEED AND ACTUALLY TALK ABOUT WEARING TOP HATS TO KILL PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
Everything you need to know about that story--the psychology of the criminals, the level of planning that went into this plot, the likelihood of its success--is right there in that statement. (from The L.A. Times) And, as if you now needed more proof that these guys were probably not going to get around to pulling off their idiotic killing spree, how about this? According to this article, the teens were also planning on wearing their white tuxedos and top hats while driving very fast in their car (presumably on the same road as Barack Obama?) and then shooting at Senator Obama from their car windows. In top hats. While blasting Taco's "Puttin' On The Ritz" from their car stereo. (OK, I made up that last part. OR DID I?)
Also, it's possible this incident might have raised some local suspicion:
On Oct. 22, the men bought food, rope and two ski masks from a Wal-Mart in Brownsville, Tenn.
(Fellas, every criminal worth his salt knows if you're going to buy a pair of ski masks and rope, split up. One guy buys the rope, another guy buys the ski masks. You don't want to send both of those items down the Wal-Mart conveyor belt at the same time. It's like buying condoms and chloroform. At least throw some stuff in there to get them off the scent, like Twizzlers or a duck call. Truly a bush league mistake.)
This is one of those rare instances where I wish the would-be perpetrators had just a tiny bit more time to work on their assassination plot before being caught. I'm not suggesting they should have kicked off their crime spree. I just wish they'd had time to rent their tuxedos and top hats and taken a few photos. Besides being just fantastic, I think it would give the American public a more accurate understanding of exactly how viable this assassination threat was if, instead of seeing a giant photo of a muscular skinhead in a bulletproof vest, we saw this:
CANINE COSTUME RECAP.
Last weekend was the 10th annual Great Pupkin Dog Costume Contest in Fort Greene Park, in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn. It is an honored tradition and, while I have attended previous Great Pupkin competitions, I was unfortunately unable to take part in the contest's Aluminum anniversary event, as my presence was needed couchside, attending to the vitamin C needs of my convalescent wife. (Yes, WIFE.) If, like me, you missed the competition, here's a quick recap of all the dog costumes on display:
- housefly (bee costume painted black)
- dog wearing women's underpants
- bee arthur (bee costume with grey haired wig)
- eric bee and rakim (rakim missing)
- Ashley Todd (pretty popular costume this year)
- invisible bee
Well done, everyone.
And a personal and private message to the owner of the pot-bellied pig living in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. If you are not the owner of the pot-bellied pig living in Fort Greene, I would kindly ask that you stop reading right now and use these next few minutes making calls for Barack Obama in states that are only partially racist. Thanks.
OK, now that it's just you and me, pot-bellied pig owner, listen. The Great Pupkin is for dogs. More specifically, it is for dogs dressed as bees and caterpillars and sometimes Yoda. Don't you think, what with being a pot-bellied pig in the middle of Brooklyn and all, that you are already receiving your fair share of attention on a day to day basis? Perhaps, one might argue, even enough attention that you might see an event like The Great Pupkin advertised in your neighborhood and say to yourself, "Maybe me and the pot-bellied pig should sit this one out?" APPARENTLY NOT!
Have you no sense of shame, pot-bellied pig owner? Let the dogs have their day! What next? Are you going to start walking your pot-bellied pig around town with a python draped around its neck, and a parrot perched on its shoulder? (And yes, you're too late: I've already registered snakeandparrotpigwars.com)
If you don't mind me asking, what breed of pig is that, exactly? Oh wait, let me guess: an Attention Hog. No need to high-five me. A simple thoughtful nod will do.
COMEDY CENTRAL AT CRASH MANSION.
I will make this short and sweet. I am performing in Comedy Central's new "live at Crash Mansion" comedy series, this upcoming Monday, October 6th. It's a very fun lineup, and I'm providing the details right here:
“COMEDY CENTRAL AT CRASH MANSION” is a bi-weekly variety show featuring stand-up, sketch, musical acts, digital shorts and more.
This week, comedian Liam McEneaney hosts:
- Nate Bargatze
- Michelle Buteau
- Mike Drucker
- Todd Levin
- Anthony Jeselnik
at CRASH MANSION
199 Bowery (@ Spring St.)
New York, NY 10002
Monday, October 6th
FOR RESERVATIONS, CALL: 212-982-0740
PRE-COGNITIVELY LIVE BLOGGING THE VP DEBATE.
Today, at VanityFair.com, you'll find a piece I wrote for them about live blogging the VP debates a full day before they happen.
I only hope my work for the magazine's web site will guarantee me a much-coveted invitation to the exclusive Vanity Fair after-party for the 2009 Webby Awards.
CALLING B.S. ON YOUR "ART".
Commuters traversing the Lexington Passage of Grand Central Station are serenaded daily by a rotating lineup of musicians. It's not typical busker fare--folkie spiders who haven't bothered to download the tabulations for any music recorded after Neil Young's After the Gold Rush; Guatemalans with cheap woodwind instruments miraculously worsening the love theme from Titanic which I guess must be the Guatemalan national anthem; three ancient black guys harmonizing to "Under the Boardwalk"; a crazy lady shuffling through your train car in plastic bag shoes, and singing church songs at the top of her papery lungs.
Instead, as you weave and strong-arm your way through the train station to be the first in line for whatever, your selfish quest for efficiency might be accompanied by some bluegrass music or a pretty cello solo bouncing off the tiled walls. If you aren't too wrapped up in your Blackberry (Crackberry is more like it!) you might even pause for a moment and think about how lucky you are to live/work/txt in here.
I usually get to hear whatever musical selections the Metro North Railroad Endowment for the Arts has decided to schedule because the performers are stationed directly across the corridor from the spot where I procure espresso, tea and muffinery. So, if you're listening MNREA, please believe me when I say you really need to fire the guy who plays along to Johnny Cash CDs.
I'm not sure if it was some kind of committee oversight or a flawed but well-meaning initiative to introduce elderly musicians into the busker rotation, but this guy is a total dud. He doesn't have the fire! I watched him for about ten minutes, during which he sat on a low stool looking bored, while a Johnny Cash CD played from a small, trebly boombox. He wasn't even singing along! Occasionally, usually when a large crowd of people happened to be passing by, he would give the guitar one feeble strum or burp out an off-key attempt at the tail end of a verse--"...him diiiiie." Other than that, nothing. Just a fat guy in a cowboy hat, listening to music very loudly in a public space. Under normal conditions, he would be fined for creating a public nuisance. Here, however, he was an "artist."
I did feel it was important to try and understand this guy, even as I prayed for his dismissal. Whenever I see him perform, it's late afternoon; that perfect 3:48pm moment that drags you, bored, from your office chair to get a coffee you don't need. Maybe the old, fat cowboy treats his job as most people treat theirs. When he punches in, he's playing those Johnny Cash songs, and singing with even more conviction than Mr. Cash himself. Maybe he's even turning the backing track way down because, hell, he doesn't need it. But this is a day job and, well, people often get distracted at work. Most drift over to Facebook, or start instant messaging their pals. Maybe they're sifting through the latest online pet videos. By the end of the day, their productivity has slowed down so much they only have work documents on their computer so they can quickly alt-tab to them when a superior walks by. Really, this is not that much different than the Johnny Cash sing-along artist giving a half-assed show of musicianship when a large group passes. Then it's back to business as usual: the business of doing very little and counting down the hours until yoga class.