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Poking Fun at Politics, the Press & Pop Culture
Baratunde R. Thurston
Kingly Companion Media, LLC Cambridge MA
Better Than Crying: Poking Fun at Politics, the Press & Pop Culture Copyright © 2004, by Baratunde R. Thurston. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For information, address: Kingly Companion Media, LLC 955 Massachusetts Ave, PMB #207 Cambridge MA 02139 firstname.lastname@example.org (877) 859-9394 First Edition Book Interior designed by Opus1 Design, Los Angeles, CA Cover design by Husani Barnwell Back cover photo by Bob Keene/Keenevision.com ISBN 0-9746762-1-7 Printed in the United States of America
This book is dedicated to my mother, who always taught me to take note of the contradictions.
I’d like to thank so many people for helping me with this first book: My mother and sister for supporting me, believing in me, challenging me and pushing me. My editors, without whom this book would be a mere collection of insane ramblings. Thanks to you guys, it’s a funny, mostly-grammatically correct collection of insane ramblings. So thanks Dolyta, Seph, Eli, Joel, Vlad, John, Poonam, Mawi and Rishi. Thanks to Husani for the hot cover and Pam for the interior design. Thanks also to the Boston and Cambridge comedy scene; the U.S. Constitution, for guaranteeing certain inalienable rights and the Bush Administration for trying to alienate them; Fox News for making comedy that much easier; and thank you Mieka for the inspiration. I continue to take fate day by day.
…a man has two ways out in life — laughing or crying. There’s more hope in laughing.
in his first autobiography Nigger
Table of Discontents
Introduction .................................................................. 11 Chapter 1: Media-crity .................................................. 15 Fox Introduces Terrorist Series............................................. 16 Fox Announces New White House Show ............................... 16 NBC Launches Dateline Action Figures................................ 17 MTV Shoots New Reality Series........................................... 17 The Ten O’Clock News, A Remix ......................................... 19 Fox Keeps it Real............................................................... 23 Is 911 a Joke in Your Town? ............................................... 26 Researchers Discover Bullets Kill Mice.................................. 27 New Study Attacks Studies.................................................. 28 MTV “Cribs” Needs Diapers for O-Town............................... 30 “Cradles” – A Transcript .................................................... 32 Olympic Profiles in Courage................................................ 43 Chapter 2: Foreign Objects ........................................... 47 General Wiranto Releases Love Song CD .............................. 49 Israeli Rocket Attack Accidentally Kills German .................... 51 Good Country, Bad Country............................................... 53 White House Insists Arafat “Do More” from Pile of Rubble ...... 55 Alabamans Repeal Interracial Marriage Ban........................ 57 Chapter 3: Domestic Violence.......................................59 An Interview with John Ashcroft.......................................... 61 Cheney Undergoes Resurrective Surgery ................................ 66 Bush Appoints Romulan to UN Post, Cites Diversity .............. 69
The H.C.I.C. (Head Corpse in Charge) ................................ 71 Private Schools Institute Early Admissions Policy ................... 73 Police Search for Black Male ............................................... 75 Massachusetts Election: The Real Debate .............................. 77 Chapter 4: Download This ............................................83 Online Crap No Longer Exciting ......................................... 84 Response to Spam Email #1 ................................................ 86 IBM Unveils New Quote-Unquote Job Status......................... 89 Microsoft is Dead .............................................................. 91 Response to Spam Email #2 ................................................ 93 An Inspirational Chain Email ............................................ 97 Chapter 5: Straight from the Soap Box ....................... 103 On Why It’s Not Your Afro................................................ 104 On Booty Dancing........................................................... 106 On The Real Star Wars.................................................... 108 On The Real Star Wars, An Apology.................................. 110 On Celebrating Black History ........................................... 111 About The Author........................................................ 115
Welcome to Better Than Crying: Poking Fun at Politics the Press, & Pop Culture. You’re in for quite a ride. As the title implies, this book is funny. Really funny. I’m talking knee-slapping-onDef-Comedy-Jam funny. I’m talking George-W.-Bush-gettinginto-Yale-based-on-his-intellect funny. I’m talking Fox-News-wereport-you-decide funny. People sometimes ask me, “Baratunde, why comedy? Why do you try to make people laugh?” To each one of them I offer the same answer: I’m looking for the fastest way to squander my education. I have chosen to write this book because I can, because I think a lot of people will find it both amusing and educational and because, if Ann Coulter can write a book, why not me? If you don’t know who Ann Coulter is, consider yourself lucky. Before you get too invested in and comfortable with Better Than Crying, I need to administer a brief test which will ensure that this book is right for you and that you are right for it. Please read the sentence below out loud. When a black person robs a white person, that’s technically not a crime. It’s involuntary reparations. Now, check one of the following. This sentence makes me think: a) Hmm, interesting. b) Now that’s funny. c) Jesus Christ! d) This is why black people shouldn’t be allowed to read.
Better Than Crying If you answered a) or b), good work! There is hope for you yet. Keep reading, and enjoy the show. If, on the other hand, you answered c) or d), please put the book down. Now, step away slowly and continue to vote Republican. Phew. Now that we’ve gotten rid of those losers, hi! I’m Baratunde. Welcome to my book. Better than Crying is a collection of satirical news stories, jokes, essays and other silliness created to tickle your funny bone and assault your belief system. Most of the following pages were selected from my email publication NewsPhlash: All the News That’s Fit to Twist, which has existed in some form or other since 1996. You can subscribe to my NewsPhlash email list via my website at www.baratunde.com. Here are some final tidbits to help you through the next 100 pages or so: 1. The book consists primarily, but not exclusively, of letters. These letters are often combined into words, which, when strung together, form phrases and, occasionally, sentences. It is these sentences which contain thoughts and ideas meant to enter your brain. 2. The book is written in English. If you cannot read English, please put this book down now, as it is unlikely to make much sense to you. 3. If you purchased this book with a credit card, you probably will regret it. Thanks to new anti-terror technologies, you can expect to be added to a list of un-American Americans and visited by an official from the Office of Fatherland Security. Sorry about that. Sincerely,
Baratunde Rafiq Thurston
Chapter 1: Media-crity
NEWSPAPERS, RADIO, MAGAZINES AND television. They’re all full of lies, and you can’t believe a word they say. Soon all these outlets will be owned by a copyright-protected rodent or an Australian, neither of whom seem to age. It will be called something like “OmniMediaCom.” You’ll go to a special kiosk and have information and entertainment messages transferred directly into your consciousness. Until that day, you’ve got to deal with me. I am a voracious consumer of media. In fact, my humor writing crusade began out of frustration that my friends didn’t follow the news. In high school, I would keep a single earphone constantly tuned to NPR for those moments when classes got too boring. And today, my best friend is my TiVo. It’s the only thing that truly understands me. This chapter takes a deep look at America’s shallow media industry, from so-called “reality” TV to so-called “news” programming.
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Fox Introduces Terrorist Series
11 SEPT. 2002 — Fox News has announced it will be airing a new bi-daily series dubbed Excuse Me Mr. Terrorist, Have You Tried This Yet? Each show will feature five heretofore unfathomed potential terrorist assaults on U.S. targets. The first show includes potential attacks on the Hoover Dam, Times Square and Denver’s Shady Creek High School.
“We will interview engineers, show blueprints and test explosives to determine just how vulnerable this country is to terrorist attack,” said show host Brit Hume. According to Fox News spokesperson Iva Noe Morales, the show was created, “to offer hope to the families of September 11th victims, and show them that so much worse is possible.”
Fox Announces New White House Show
28 FEB. 2001 — Executives at Fox Television have decided to launch a new television series to rival The West Wing on NBC. My So-Called Presidency will chronicle the illegitimate presidency of George W. Bush. The season premiere is set to debut on Malcolm X’s birthday for “maximum minority offense.”
NBC to Launch Dateline Action Figures
28 FEB. 2001 — In an effort to maximize the impact of a powerful brand name by minimizing its respect in the public eye, NBC News will be releasing action figures based on its news magazine show, Dateline. “Now, every man woman and child in America, and
around the world, will have the opportunity to manipulate the news like their favorite heroes, Stone Phillips and Jane Pauley,” said NBC PR Whore and Vietnamese Division Head Shai Sti Phuc. “We have all wanted to see Phillips and Pauley get it on. Now we can!”
MTV Shoots New Reality Series
28 FEB. 2001 — Riding on the success of such hits as The Real World, Making the Band, Making the Video and Making Mad Money, MTV has begun shooting its latest soon-to-be-hit: Making the Baby.
“From the condom’s point-of-sale to the fallopian tubes to the placenta, you’ll feel like you were being born again,” said Viacom head honcho and Latino Exploitation VP Enit Forda Dinero.
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Actress Jennifer Aniston says her Hollywood heart-throb husband Brad Pitt is a “goofball” who wants to have seven children. Brad Pitt said Jennifer Aniston was a “skank” who couldn’t keep her mouth shut.
The creators of Transformers, the human-like robots able to change into a variety of objects, are planning a live-action movie. The role of Megatron, head of the evil Decepticon forces, will be played by Dick Cheney.
According to the New York Times, several drug makers are claiming that their baby formulas can increase IQ and improve eyesight. Unfortunately for the Times, they have yet to produce a formula which can spot a fake news story.
The Ten O’Clock News, A Remix
Originally published in The Harvard Crimson, May 4, 1999 Aired May 4, 1999 2200 ET JIM JAMES, WSEL ANCHOR: Welcome to the 10 o’clock news on WSEL, your number one network for news you can use. I’m Jim James. At the top of our program we bring you this late-breaking story sponsored by Coors Light. It’s the right beer now. JANE LUSH, WSEL WAR CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Jim. This is Jane Lush reporting. I’m standing in what is perhaps the most dangerous location on the planet right now. Many correspondents have set up shop on the roof of Iraqi military headquarters, a 200-story X-shaped building made of neon glow-in-the-dark playing cards. Rumor has it that this building is a U.S. bombing target, but that hasn’t stopped us journalists from making s’mores and drinking Coors up here. To date, much of the reporting on Iraq has focused on the negative: weapons of mass destruction, human rights violations and the sad consequences of sanctions. But there’s happy time in Iraq too, especially when Coors Light is involved.
Better Than Crying Take this group of drunken Iraqis right here. These guys are happy campers thanks to Coors. This is Jane Lush. WSEL. Live from Iraq. JAMES: Thanks, Jane. You think you can bring back one of those Persian rugs? My wife really loves those. [Laughs] We now go to our weather report sponsored by the National Association of Umbrella Manufacturers. YULA GREE, WSEL WEATHER REPORTER: Thanks Jim, This is Yula Gree here with WSEL weather. I lost my satellite image printouts, but I’m willing to bet it will rain tonight. As a matter of fact, I did bet it would rain. You might even say, if it doesn’t rain, I’m a dead man. I forecast rain tonight, tomorrow and forever, so make sure to pack your umbrellas, folks. Back to you Jim. JAMES: Merci Yula. We now take you to our health report, brought to you by Crest toothpaste. According to the newly released report, Crest Rules!, Crest-users have fulﬁlling relationships, hold lucrative jobs and discover true
Media-crity happiness by age 30. On the other hand, according to the study, people who don’t use Crest suffer from low self-esteem, loneliness and eyeball cancer. That’s all Jim. Back to you. JAMES: You were wonderful last night, Lesley. [Winks] And now it’s time for the WSEL tech report brought to you by Microsoft. “If we don’t rule the world, who will?” SCOTT FREE, WSEL TECH CORRESPONDENT: Howdy folks, I’m Scott Free, your WSEL tech guru. Since last week’s release of Windows Two Billion, many people have complained about the exploding computer problem. This is where PCs with Windows Two Billion self-destruct upon shutdown. I’ve been covering technology for a long time, and I can tell you that there’s nothing to worry about. It is standard in all new software releases that there are going to be some problems. Microsoft says it’s aware of the issue and will be selling body armor on its Web site. That’s all for your tech report. Back to you Jim…
Better Than Crying JAMES: Sure thing Scott. That was a fascinating story, wasn’t it? Now let’s move on to our government report, made possible by the campaign ﬁnance system. KIM GRAFT, WSEL GOVERNMENT CORRESPONDENT Kim Graft here reporting from the pocket of the Bigger Business Bureau. The government today issued a warning to all Americans about the dangers of voting and involvement in local affairs. Concurrently, ofﬁcials announced plans to build the new solid gold Crest Coliseum in the Florida Everglades. The project will be ﬁnanced by sweatshop labor from orphanages. The government also issued a health report in conjunction with Crest Corporation ﬁnding that merely thinking about campaign ﬁnance reform can cause your teeth to fall out of your face. This is Kim Graft. WSEL. JAMES: Thanks, Kim. Unfortunately, we must interrupt this program for a commercial break. But stay tuned for more news you can use.
Fox Keeps it Real
4 MARCH 2002 — The barrel of ideas fueling Fox TV’s programming decisions is running so low that executives find themselves negotiating directly with the Prince of Darkness for ratings-boosting gimmicks. At least that’s what a panel of media observers determined at this weekend’s Boston-based seminar: What the Hell is Fox Smoking?: An assessment of the moral decline in American television entertainment. What prompted the panel’s conclusion was Fox’s Friday announcement of Celebrity Boxing. Set to air Wednesday March 13, the show will feature a slugfest between figure skating fiasco, Tonya Harding, and Paula Jones, an Arkansas woman who accused Bill Clinton of unwanted sexual advances in 1991. Fox has brought to American TV screens such enlightening and public interest programming as Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?, When Animals Attack, When
Good Pets Go Bad, Temptation Island, Temptation Island 2, World’s Scariest Police Chases, Police Videos and The Chamber. The network has repeatedly been criticized for airing programs that celebrate pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed and sloth. However, Fox claims that its programming is consistent with the wishes of America’s founding fathers. “The Bill of Rights allows the American people to view what they want,” exclaimed Fox President and Australian Rupert Murdoch at a press conference this past Saturday. “And Fox plans on telling them what that is and giving it to them, no matter how inappropriate it may seem to enemies of free expression.” At that same conference, Fox revealed some of the fights it has on tap including:
George W. Bush vs. Al Gore (rematch); Biggie Smalls vs. Tupac Shakur; Nat Turner vs. Joseph Travis (rematch); Bugs Bunny vs. The Roadrunner; Jesus vs.
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Mohammed; David vs. Goliath (rematch); Snoopy vs. Marmaduke; Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva vs. Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost (Tag Team)
When Cops Attack
Rodney King was nothing compared to the brutality captured by When Cops Attack. Hosted by former LAPD officer Lawrence Powell, WCA takes you inside the corrupt and bloody world of law enforcement. You’ll see what drives all cops – city, state, university and Wal-Mart – to use excessive force. After watching, you’ll want to find your own way to violate the civil rights of others.
Dates for the proposed bouts have not yet been set; however, Fox did surprise conference attendees when it unveiled three of its shows set to air next season:
The Sound Booth
Modeled after the wildly successful quiz show The Chamber, The Sound Booth adds a few twists. Contestants are required to answer a series of questions while being forced to listen to increasingly bad music. The questions are designed to be paradoxical, with no correct answers possible. Examples include: “What date was George W. Bush elected president?” or “What is the best song on O-Town’s debut album?” The easier questions are set to tracks from Britney Spears, while advanced levels subject contestants to surround sound amplification of Celine Dion and Enya.
Ten African-American families will be transported to a cotton plantation on an island off the coast of Southern Virginia. There, they will undergo a rigorous test of their strength, character and resilience. Deprived of basic comforts, separated from each other, and forced to harvest the “white gold,” only one of the contestants will walk away with the grand prize: freedom.
MTV refused to air a rap video whose lyrics demanded the release of Mumia Abu Jamal from prison. The artist was Public Enemy. The song was called Give The Peeps What They Need. Apparently what the “peeps” needed was MTV’s number one video whose lyrics celebrate the right of a drunken rapper to drive over his female fans with his tour bus because they find him sexually attractive and financially well-off. The artist: Ludacris. The song: Move Bitch Get Out The Way.
The world’s five largest music companies and the three largest music retailers will pay $143 million to settle a CD price fixing case. The suit alleged that the defendants artificially inflated the price of CDs between 1995 and 2000, violating federal and state anti-trust laws. In related news: KaZaA.
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Is 911 a Joke in Your Town?
17 OCT. 2001 — Following September 11, the U.S. television media offered up several catchy titles to help citizens understand and deal with the tragedy:
Attack on America America Under Attack America Attacked by Attackers America Kicked in the Nuts After the Attack America Rising America United America Getting a Hard On America’s New War America Strikes Back America’s Can of Whoop-Ass America’s Long Schlong America Gets Ill America: That’s My Dawg America vs. The Brown People Good vs. Evil Anthrax Scare Anthrax Threat Threat of Anthrax Everyone Has Anthrax Anthrax is Going to Get You Don’t Have Anthrax? You Will! Now that’s what I call penetrating news coverage!
Researchers Discover Bullets Kill Mice
Suggest Possible Implications for Humans
14 MAY 2002 — Researchers at Harvard Medical School have discovered that, when exposed to high-velocity bullets, mice end up dead or severely injured. The report, which appears in the latest issue of Science, could have drastic implications for humans. The study found that serious injury was likely only when bullets interacted with mice at extremely high velocities. “Our lab results indicate that merely throwing bullets at mice was more likely to result in fear and annoyance rather than death,” wrote head researcher, Dr. Noah N. Syte. “We had to use firearms to really jumpstart the reaction.”
The study could have farreaching implications for humans and the ways in which they interact with bullets, but researchers avoided drawing any direct conclusions from their study. “We’d like to stress that as of now, we have only performed the tests on mice, which we all know differ significantly from humans in physiological and other dimensions,” commented Dr. Syte. The government-funded research group has plans to run phase two of the test, human trials, in South Central Los Angeles, the South Side of Chicago and Southeast Washington, D.C. as soon as possible.
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New Study Attacks Studies
31 MARCH 2002 — People who listen to reports of research study findings are more likely to suffer from poor eyesight, hypochondria and lack of independent thought, a new study says. The study, released by the University of Michigan’s National Institute of Research Studies, warns that overexposure to study results is having a detrimental effect on society. “We found that adults who listened to news reports of ’the latest study’ are more likely to offer unsolicited medical advice to family members and live in general fear of the world,”
said Michigan University’s Jura Gana Dyovic. Dyovic presented a list of recent studies he considers the most dangerous and noninsightful including: • Plastic not yet safe for young children to ingest • All-Big-Mac diet fails to stimulate weight loss • Owners of large SUVs possess significantly smaller testicles than average drivers and are more likely to experience high blood pressure • Whites with black friends more comfortable making racial generalizations
A wild boar wrecked a German couple’s nap when it broke into their house, leapt into bed with them, nipped the man and fled. Bad Boy Records is reportedly in talks with the boar to ink a recording contract.
The Supreme Court has ruled that states can post pictures of child sex offenders on websites. The Court pointed to www.rkelly.com as a precedent.
A British animal rights group said on Friday it had uncovered “horrific” experiments being carried out on hundreds of monkeys at Cambridge University as part of medical research into brain diseases. Hoping to determine monkeys’ capacity for monotony, researcher subjected them to seven continuous days of Kylie Minogue’s, Can’t Get You Out of My Head.
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MTV “Cribs”Needs Diapers for O-Town
21 JAN. 2002 — How many of you have watched MTV’s Cribs, a show in which the possessions, status and wealth of entertainers are flaunted before the economically disenfranchised masses like an Enron executive’s summer home before former employees’ worthless stock option certificates? I know I have. Few things make me feel better than the chance to watch a group of pseudo-talented yahoos prance around a mansion that everyone in the world knows belongs to their label... except them. For those who may not watch TRL, or ABC, or listen to popular radio, good for you, but you may have missed a chance to understand exactly what O-Town is. As most Americans with the ability to interpret aural input as meaningful sound know, the music industry is in a state of advanced decay. The three Bs — “Boy Bands and Britney” — capture the hearts and minds of our nation’s youth, reducing them to a state somewhere between cottage cheese and skunky beer. This decaying trend has been underway for some time, but in silence. There has been an unspoken agreement that “They” will find, release and market “crappy music” while “We” will tolerate, listen to and buy it. In such an equilibrium has the world existed for at least 20 years (since the release of Kenny G’s self titled album in 1982). For 20 years, though, “They” at least maintained that their “artists” were “real musicians” with “talent.” Have I used enough “quotation marks?” However, 2000 witnessed an escalation of tension as well as audacity in the record label-drone relationship. During this year, all pretenses were abandoned as MTV and NSync/ Backstreet creator Lou Pearlman launched Making the Band. This was a reality TV show in which O-Town was literally manufactured from crap. After screening piles of poop from all 50 states, Pearlman found a magic combination in the five members of O-Town. With this show, the music industry basically took off its gloves and said to us:
Media-crity “Dear revenue sources, we know what you want. You want meaningless lyrics. You want synthesized instruments. You want overproduced beats. You want over-marketed sensation. In short, you want what we tell you to want.” Gone were the obligatory comments about “hard work” and “talent,” replaced instead by a frightening level of honesty which revealed the oft-cited “man” as just that, some fat dude with clout making people famous and himself rich. The sad thing is that it worked. People bought it, literally. O-Town’s debut single, Liquid Dreams, was a song about wet dreams which topped the singles charts. The group’s self-titled album hit the Billboard 200 at #5 and lasted over 45 weeks on the chart despite conclusive studies linking its contents to cattle mutilations and the death of joy. Now the little punks and their mansion have been featured on Cribs, a show on the same network that created them. So now you know who O-Town is. After the group’s fascinating showing on MTV, we at NewsPhlash decided to pay our own visit to the famous five for our new show Cradles. Let’s see how things went down.
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“Cradles” – A Transcript
EXT. OUTSIDE THE O-TOWN MANSION We zoom in on a large, beige, Californiastyle mansion with four-car garage, full basketball court and double wooden doors. Opening the doors from the inside we see TREVOR PENICK of O-TOWN, the latest sad entry into the increasingly talent-bankrupt ledger of boy bands. Trevor is black, which allows him to function as the group’s implicit ghetto pass while being light-skinned enough not to threaten the mass market demographic. TREVOR Yo yo yo, it’s MTV. NPTV Actually, we’re with NPTV. It’s a new network. TREVOR Awww, word? Well, we’re a new band made up entirely of vocalists! Wanna tour? INT. FOYER OF THE MANSION Group member ERIK MICHAEL ESTRADA lounges on the stairs eating a burrito and holding a copy of Guerilla Warfare by Che Guevara. The book is upside down. Erik speaks with a strong Puerto Rican accent though his mother is Italian, and he was raised in New York. Erik fulﬁlls
Media-crity the necessary “not black, not white” racial quotient of the 21st Century Boy Band. As an alleged Latino, he actually covers the entire “other” racial category of the U.S. Census. He is often given to ﬁts of speaking in Spanish, which the other group members ignore. ERIK Hola. Que pasa, ese? Is this, like, another TV show touring our house, homes? Yo man, let’s make this shit quick cause I got this morena en mi sala knowhatI’msayin? Erik directs the ﬁlm crew upstairs to his “barrio.” INT. ERIK’S ROOM The room appears too orderly for a 22 year old male, especially for this one who looks 15. His desk features the latest copy of the book What’s Happening to My Body? while the most prominent item is clearly the full wall mural of an American ﬂag behind the bed. ERIK So, I was like, “Yo painters. Hermanos. I need a big ass American ﬂag on my wall! I don’t care what it costs yo! Just do that shit, man. Do that shit.” CUT TO: SEPTEMBER 12, 2001 INT. J RECORDS HEADQUARTERS - OFFICE OF CLIVE DAVIS
Better Than Crying Clive is the legendary industry ﬁgure who signed O-Town. Clive is having a strategy meeting with some of his key advisors on how to react to the terrorist attacks of the previous day. DAVIS We’re gonna need up-to-the-minute patriotism angles after this World Trade Center shit. What can we use? LACKEY #1 We could re-title Busta Rhymes’s latest single Break Ya Arab Neck? DAVIS You’re ﬁred. LACKEY #2 How about O-Town? They’re pretty multicultural looking in a Benetton sort of way. Maybe they could symbolize racial harmony or something? DAVIS I like where this is going. Isn’t there a Mexican in that group named Enrique or something? LACKEY #2 Erik. And he’s more Italian than Mexican, but— DAVIS Whatever. Get the little Chicano to have a huge ﬂag in his bedroom. We own the goddamned house don’t we? Hell, paint the house red, white and blue.
Media-crity Paint the Spanish kid red, white and blue. Whatever it takes. CUT BACK TO: PRESENT DAY INT. O-TOWN MANSION. ERIK’S BEDROOM ERIK Yeah, I just love everything that ﬂag stands for –- like freedom and peace and stuff. Heading toward the bed, we see a large, adult-sized crib, above which twirl small models of the Pentagon, a piñata, an “I LUV NY” heart... ERIK And this, this is where the magic happens. All the ladies know what I’m talking about. You ready to check out Trevor’s room? He’s just down the hall. INT. TREVOR’S ROOM Posters of Magic Johnson and Tiger Woods grace the walls. Trevor is clearly into sports ﬁgures. His desk features a solid gold sculpture of a partially eaten watermelon and fried chicken drumstick. Like Erik’s, Trevor’s room is too neat to be natural. TREVOR Yo, NPTV in the muphuckin’ hizouse! Yo this is my pad up in here, up in here. As you can see, I love basketball. It’s my favorite sport. You dribble the ball up and down the court.
Better Than Crying NPTV That’s nice. You understand basketball. TREVOR Hells yeah. I was born and raised a Lakers fan. I love golf too. Tiger is my Negro. Yo, check this. Trevor gestures toward his bed. TREVOR This is where the magic happens. NPTV Word? TREVOR To ya mutha! You ready to check out the white boys’ rooms? INT. HALLWAY We head toward the next bedroom where DAN waits. Dan is the eldest member of the “band.” At 45 years old, and with a rumored two kids and a wife, he acts as the role model for the younger members. INT. DAN’S ROOM Dan’s tastes are all Hip Hop and R&B. In the background, Jay-Z is waxing ineloquent about Girls, Girls, Girls while Joe’s glistening body graces the wall above Dan’s bed. DAN Yo, NPTV in the muphuckin’ hizouse! Yo this is my pad up in here, up in here. As you can see, I love basketball. It’s
Media-crity my favorite sport. You dribble the ball up and down the court. NPTV I think those are Trevor’s lines. DAN Huh? But my contract say— I mean, I love basketball too. What, only black guys can love ball now? Yo whatever. I love all the old school R&B shit. Like Usher and Jill Scott and Fat Boy Sl— Um, the FAT BOYS! NPTV I doubt Usher would consider himself “old school.” DAN Yo word. True. But fa-real. Dan gestures toward his bed. DAN This is where the magic happens? Enough about my crib. You should see Ashley’s spot. INT. ASHLEY’S ROOM ASHLEY is the heart-throb member of the group — the Justin Timberlake, if you will. While Erik (the almost-Latino) provides enough sexual preference and ethnic ambiguity to keep the group looking diverse, Ashley is the tender white man designed for tender white women.
Better Than Crying He comes complete with a sense of heart throb duties and features including but not limited to: blond hair, blue eyes, charm and a soft voice. He often speaks affectionately about “the guys” as if he feels some sort of responsibility for them. Ashley has also been charged with extending (some might say creating) artistic credibility for the group by talking up their “writing.” His room is, of course, decorated with the only reasonable symbol for the man who has it all and the responsibility to keep it together: Superman insignia. ASHLEY Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved Superman. Call me a sensitive, caring angel from above, but there’s still a cute little boy behind this cute little boy face that loves the idea of a hero. That’s what me and the guys try to be for our fans: heroes. NPTV Okay, I’ll play along. This is supposed to be a tour of the house J Records uses to hold you, but I see you want to discuss substantive things so go ahead. You’re a big boy now. You’re on TV. How do you think you’re a “hero?” ASHLEY Well, um, yeah. I was just saying that me and the guys. We like to write? I
Media-crity mean, and people don’t see that you know? NPTV Do you think they don’t see it because your label won’t release such cr—nevermind. That’s a low blow. Tell me about your bed. It looks interesting. ASHLEY Oh, that. Well that’s where the magic happens. NPTV Of course it is. Good boy. Good Ashley. Can I see Jacob’s room? INT. JACOB’S ROOM JACOB, the ﬁfth member, is the group’s rebel without a cause, except that his cause is quite clearly deﬁned: the making of money. So revolutionary. So worthy. So noble. Jacob is like Ashley’s alter ego: also white, but with a decidedly rugged individualist sort of attitude. He has dread locks, but does not try to talk Ebonics. His room is actually in the guest house, symbolizing his need to be “away” from “the guys.” It also may symbolize their need to avoid his “lice.” With his collects supposed merely a walls adorned by the guitars he with Clive Davis’s money, we are to understand that this man is not pretty face with a focus-group-
Better Than Crying approved winning smile. No, this man is different. Jacob is... shhh, an artist. JACOB Let me tell you a story. When we moved into this house, all the guys drew straws for the master bedroom, except one. Me. Jacob Underwood is a loner, a drifter, a nomadic hunter-gatherer. But “the bush” for me is no African desert. No. My bush is the entire art form commonly referred to as music. NPTV I see. JACOB I’ve been playing piano since conception. My mother shoved a microscopic piano into her uterus for me to practice on so I wouldn’t waste time. I’ve been to Julliard as well as the Empire State Building AND the Washington Monument. How many people can say that? NPTV Not many, other than a few million tourists. Jacob gesturing toward the bed… JACOB Oh, and this is where the magic happens.
Media-crity VOICEOVER Thank you for tuning in to another episode of NPTV’s CRADLES where we take a look inside the immature, prepubescent world of popular music. Next time on CRADLES: Crawﬁsh, gumbo, chitlins, collard greens and hip hop. All dirty. All South. All this and more is on the menu at Master P’s latest venture: Toofy’s Diner. We’ll stop by Toofy’s and see if there’s really no limit to the bastardization of hip hop culture. See you next week!
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According to a recent survey, mothers are more likely than fathers to care for sick children at the expense of their careers. The reason? Men are bastards.
Canadian researchers have concluded that neither men nor women are inherently better at finding unknown destinations, but instead, approach the problem differently. Researchers confirmed, however, that in cases where there is a disagreement between men and women, women are always right.
Olympic Profiles in Courage
17 FEB. 2002 — After viewing NPTV’s spectacular entertainment program Cradles, which featured never-before-seen footage of the rising boy band O-Town, the networks have invited us to cover this year’s Olympic Games. Rather than provide video coverage of events, sports analysis and other boring things you don’t care to see, NPTV has decided to be truly original and bring you some of the amazing life stories of the individuals participating in the Games. It’s a little something we like to call God Himself Couldn’t Have Written This. So sit back, relax and enjoy the impossible. Name: Yevgeny Krispykremakov Birthplace: Somewhere in the Himalayas Events: Men’s Super-G Downhill, Men’s Slalom, Men’s Ski Jump Yevgeny Krispykremakov is not your average world class athlete, but that’s part of what makes him one of the best. You see, Yevgeny was raised by a pack of wild wolves in the Himalayan Mountains. For the first 10 years of his life, “Krispy” as his wolf family calls him, had no human contact. He hunted with the wolves, slept with the wolves and yes, he even danced with the wolves. There’s a rumor floating around Chechnya that Krispy even sired a litter of wolfmen during his crazier days. It was this wolf life, walking around on all fours, which gave Krispy his low center of gravity and made him the envy of the competitive downhill skiing world. On his 11th birthday, Krispy could no longer be satisfied living on the lamb, so to speak. After his adoptive father and uncle were poached by fur traders, Krispy decided that he would leave the pack behind and search for his real, human, parents. In order to keep up with his wolf family on hunts, Krispy had devised a primitive form of what we in the civilized world call skis. And it was on these “skis” that Krispy set out on June 3, 1905. For 80 years Krispy skied from mountain to mountain in search of his roots. He evaded many a hunter who sought the legendary wolf-man. He survived the concentration camps at Auschwitz as well as both atomic bombs in Nagasaki and Hiro43
Better Than Crying shima. When he wasn’t enduring the worst suffering inflicted by man this century, Krispy was busy clearing mine fields in half a dozen war-torn countries around the world. Then, on June 3, 1985, exactly 80 years after he began his search, Krispy was discovered by famed Russian wrestling and downhill ski instructor Boris Adonikov. Although Adonikov was not Krispy’s father, the Russian treated the aged wolf man as if he were a long lost son. The then-120 year old Adonikov took Krispy under his wing and taught him everything he knew or didn’t know about skiing and wrestling. Krispy was soon winning every major skiing and wrestling competition he entered. He was named Athlete of the Century by Sports Illustrated and even considered moving to the States to play professional basketball. Krispy was destined for the top. But God, it seems, had other plans. On December 13, 1987, as he and father-figure Adonikov were rescuing abandoned wolf-pups from a frozen-over Lake Ladoga, tragedy struck. A group of American exchange students, heavily intoxicated with Smirnoff Ice, killed Adonikov with an intercontinental ballistic missile – an intercontinental ballistic missile intended for Krispykremakov. Wracked by guilt, shame, sorrow, loss, fatigue, despair and diarrhea, Yevgeny Krispykremakov vowed never to ski again. He sold his skis and moved out of his cardboard box under the Blue Bridge in St. Petersburg. His neighbors were crushed. Neighbor Idonna Givadamavic: “I can’t really say I miss him. He was this smelly old man who howled a lot. He did try to sell me some skis once, but I declined when I realized they were just meter sticks he had stolen from the local grade school and glued together. I reported him to the police. I hope he got help.” But help was nowhere near Krispy’s postal code. He spent his days crying and his nights crying even louder. When he wasn’t crying, he was drinking or whoring himself for a few kopeks at the local mine. Yevgeny Krispykremakov was living in Hell. What Kremakov didn’t know, and what defies all credibility, plausibility and possibility is that Hell was just warming up. The mid-1980s was not a good time to be a geriatric wolf44
Media-crity man from the Himalayas, and Krispy soon discovered that his fellow humans were none too happy about his existence. As he crawled toward the homeless shelter from another lonely night turning tricks, a group of drunken American exchange students shot Yevgeny in the leg... with none other than an intercontinental ballistic missile – the same intercontinental ballistic missile that killed Coach and Almost-Father Adonikov. Fate had stabbed Krispy in the back with a rusted knife and twisted it. Because of a loophole in his healthcare policy, Krispykremakov’s HMO denied him the reconstructive bionic surgery he needed to repair his leg. Left with nowhere to turn for medical assistance, Krispy amputated his own infected right leg... at the hip... with a Swiss army knife. At 100 years old, with no family, no skis and only one leg, Yevgeny Krispykremakov had given up on life, but fortunately for the world of international downhill skiing, life had not given up on Yevgeny. One Tuesday evening in January 1991, as Krispykremakov was wallowing in his own waste, a newborn baby drifted down the sewage canal where he lay. Krispy could not allow this innocent baby to die. On that day, he resolved to raise this baby boy, to be a father to this child that he himself had always wanted. He named the child Alexei Bornin Crapakov, which in English, roughly translates to “Alexei born in feces.” Little Crapakov became Yevgeny’s new raison-d’etre. He cut way back on the drinking and the whoring, turning his attention instead to improving the plight of children worldwide born in sewage canals. He founded the world renowned Center for Children Born in Human Waste, and has dedicated 99 percent of his energy toward making it a success. With the other one percent of his energy, Yevgeny learned to ski again in order to honor the life of Boris Adonikov. For the past eleven years, Yevgeny, inspired by little Crapakov, has practiced his unique one-legged skiing in the Caucus Mountains. He returns today a changed man. Ninety-seven years after leaving the wolf pack, Yevgeny Krispykremakov aims for the gold in Salt Lake City. God himself couldn’t have written this.
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Chapter 2: Foreign Objects
IT’S ME AGAIN. I’M GLAD TO SEE YOU HAVEN’T BURIED this book yet. I’ll now turn my attention outward. Believe it or not, there are places beyond the borders of United States of America where actual people live. These places are called “countries,” and they have strange names like “East Timor” and “India” and “Alabama.” They also have strange customs and not a few of them believe in the concept of sovereignty and self-determination. To this I say: whatever. I have been to four of these “countries” in my life. I traveled to Los Mochis, Mexico by train and dined on Chinese food. I visited Dakar, Senegal, where I also found Chinese food. For one week, I frolicked in Paris, France and had the occasion to consume you-know-what: Chinese food. Even in Montreal, Canada, I could not escape the Chinese food. If you ask me, we need to spend less time focusing on Iraq, and point our guns toward China. While you wait for the U.S. Defense Department to catch up to my thinking, let’s take a look at some other interesting areas of the world.
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Pakistani Presi-General Pervez Musharraf imposed 29 constitutional amendments that expand his control of the country he took over in a 1999 coup. Opposition leaders have assailed the move and vowed to fight, unaware that one of the amendments outlaws opposition.
Russia and Georgia have agreed to set up joint patrols on their common border, after months of mounting tension over rebel activity in the area. The two nations decided on the border strategy after seeing how well the policy has worked for India and Pakistan in the disputed Kashmir region.
The Vatican has drafted a policy that could ban gays from the priesthood. In response, homosexuals have drafted a policy that could ban priests from the gayhood.
Lawmakers have dissolved the troubled Balkan federation of Yugoslavia and created a new troubled Balkan federation named Serbia-Montenegro.
General Wiranto to Release Love Song CD
23 OCT. 2000 — What do you do if you are a war criminal, responsible for the deaths of hundreds, having nearly destroyed the hope of democracy in your country? Obviously, you record a CD of love songs, throw an extravagant release party and vow to give the profits to refugees. Such is the case in East Timor which nearly descended into complete chaos last year after a U.N.-brokered vote for independence triggered a military rampage. General Wiranto, the military chief responsible for the violence, has recorded a 10-
track set on his debut album, For You My Indonesia. He is raising money for conflict victims around the country. “I sing my song. I get the profit. I give this profit to refugees,” said the general. The general seems to have struck a chord with murderous militiamen across the globe. He is reportedly in talks with Slobodan Milosevic to record the former president’s album, tentatively titled To All the Serbs I Loved Before (Those Goddamned Albanian Whores Arrived and Needed to be Purged in Order to Cleanse our Tainted Blood and Make it Pure Again).
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Scientists have found that almost all euro banknotes circulating in Germany contain traces of cocaine. This explains the increase in reports of Germans who attempt to freebase the new currency.
An Australian teenager who went missing in 1998 and was declared murdered by a serial killer turned up alive yesterday, having spent five years hiding out in her boyfriend’s house. When her father was asked how he felt to have his daughter back, he said, “I’m gonna kill her.”
Italian mayor Marta Casiraghi has advised wives upset at their husbands’ wandering eyes to get sexier. The mayor explained, “I’d advise the wives to play their rival at her own game: make themselves more beautiful.” Men worldwide have started a campaign to elect Casiraghi president of the Earth.
After three simultaneous attacks on foreign compounds in Saudi Arabia, the government there acknowledged that security gaps remain. When asked how large those gaps were, a Saudi minister responded, “About the size of Saudi Arabia.”
Israeli Rocket Attack Accidentally Kills German
17 NOV. 2000 — In the seventh week of the 40th year of Arab-Israeli conflict, the number of dead Palestinians hovers near 230, and just this morning, in another rocket attack, the Israelis killed a German resident of the West Bank. Israeli officials were quick to deny any intention in killing the German.
“The last thing we want to do is harm Germans,” said Israeli spokesperson Aik’l Hermonz. “We are specifically targeting Palestinian rock-throwers with our missile attacks and regret any harm done to the German people, against whom we bear no grudge.”
Saudi Arabia has denied that a car bomb, which killed a German citizen in the capital, was a terrorist act. The kingdom’s intelligence chief blamed the attack on “illegal traders” and insisted that foreigners were safe from terror attacks. In related news, “Al-Qaeda” has officially changed its name to “illegal traders.”
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Indonesia’s defense minister blamed Al-Qaeda for the massive bomb attack that killed more than 180 people at a Bali nightclub. The U.S. has vowed to help investigators prove that Saddam Hussein was responsible.
U.S. intelligence officials believe that four nations have hidden supplies of the smallpox virus. At the same time 190 nations believe the U.S. has hidden supplies of everything else.
After Cuba was re-elected to the UN human rights body, the U.S. said it was like “putting Al Capone in charge of bank security” or John Poindexter in charge of citizen information or John Ashcroft in charge of defending the Constitution: simply insane.
As part of his War on Terror, George W. Bush has demanded that European leaders cut off all funding to Hamas. In response, several leaders have demanded Bush cut funding to the CIA, Defense Department and his re-election campaign.
Good Country, Bad Country
3 FEB. 2002 — Rather than maintaining any modicum of tact, diplomacy or class, Commander in Thief G. W. Bush this week labeled Iran, Iraq and North Korea an “axis of evil” and warned the world that America was coming to get them. “I’m comin’ to get ya. I’m comin’ to get ya. Spittin’ out lyrics, homey I’m wit ya,” rhymed fake-president Bush. Bush’s comments, made during his first State of the Union Address, have caused quite a stir internationally with U.S. allies asking outright, “Did your entire country lose a bet.” Since the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center last fall, Resident Bush has enjoyed undeserved praise for his post-September 11th actions as he has increasingly has
cast the world in terms of good and evil. Some have argued that the president has let this praise get to his head. “He is a fool. A simple, drunken fool,” said respected revolutionaire Rafiq Jones, Jr. “He’s like a little rhesus monkey hyped up on smack let loose with a whole nation to run.” Whether or not the Texas rancher has engaged in illicit drug use, he certainly put many in the U.S. and abroad on alert with his statements. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice sought to address concerns that Bush had effectively declared war on three nations. “I think what’s important to note is that not once during his speech did the president openly butcher the national language,” said Rice.
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The Canadian government official who referred to George W. Bush as a “moron” resigned yesterday. Bush offered his condolences to the state of Canadia.
After agreeing to UN inspections, Iraq must meet more Bush administration demands in order to avoid further military action. The latest condition calls for Saddam Hussein to strip down to his boxers and eat a pork hotdog, while hopping on one leg and singing God Bless America.
U.S. forces are staging war games in Qatar dubbed “Operation: Internal Look.” The purpose: to test a command center that could direct an eventual conflict in Iraq. After the simulation, the U.S. plans to launch “Operation: Sucker Punch.” The purpose: to launch an attack on Iraq while pretending to read the country’s 12,000 page arms declaration.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said yesterday that firing by Iraqi forces at U.S. and British war planes in the “no-fly” zone did not breach a new UN resolution. The U.S. then informed Annan that Saddam Hussein called his mother a “ho.” Annan is reviewing the evidence.
White House Insists Arafat “Do More” from Pile of Rubble
31 MARCH 2002 — White House Occupant George W. Bush today urged Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat to do more to control terror attacks against Israelis, even with the limited mobility offered by recent Israeli attacks on Arafat’s headquarters. “Listen. He needs to freakhe needs to speak out. I know they had a- a radio station was destroyed, but when I was a kid in Texas, we played ’telephone’; he could do that, one Palestinian at a time” suggested the child-king. “The United States- my daddy is- I am- look now,
Texas is really disappointed in Mr. Arafat. We understand that he has only about five guards left, but he should use those guards to smoke out Hamas and other terrorist groups,” Bush added. “If Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum could save the entire planet from alien destruction on the 4th of July, surely Chairman Arafat can do more.” Baby Bush also called for increased participation in the peace process from neighboring Arab states including Iran, Syria, Babylon, Nubia and Mesopotamia.
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The Bush administration has promised that humanitarian aid will flow swiftly into Southern Iraq. To speed up the process, the military will be strapping food and clean water to the sides of Tomahawk cruise missiles.
Russia complained to the U.S. that the bombing in Iraq has come dangerously close to Russia’s Baghdad embassy. Moscow said that the bombing is making it much more difficult to sell weapons to Saddam Hussein.
U.S. Vice President Tony Blair insisted that Iraq be governed by Iraqis after the war. He added, “And by Iraqis, I mean Halliburton.”
U.S. military officials announced that they have yet to find any banned weapons in Iraq. A military spokesperson promised to locate the weapons just as soon as he had a chance to plant them.
Alabamans Repeal Ban on Interracial Marriage
Law Overturned by Whopping 60 Percent!
17 NOV. 2000 — In a strong show of the new enlightened South, the good citizens of Alabama have voted to remove the miscegenation law from the state constitution. Section 102 had read: “The legislature shall never pass any law to authorize or legalize any marriage between any white person and a Negro, or a descendant of a Negro.” Although the law has been unenforceable since 1967,
when the Supreme Court struck down state laws forbidding interracial marriages, many saw this as a symbolic vote declaring that Alabama had changed. Sixty percent of voters wanted to have the law removed, proving once and for all that Alabamans are beyond the race issue. We can all feel comfortable walking the roads of Alabama now that only forty percent think it should be illegal for whites and blacks to marry.
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The U.S. military moved to strip Baghdad’s self-appointed administrator of his authority and warned factions not to take advantage of the confusion and political void by trying to grab power. It’s too bad we didn’t have this “military” during the 2000 presidential election.
In response to a Palestinian rocket attack, Israel has divided the Gaza Strip into three separate security zones and restricted Palestinian travel to only allow bowel movements.
Hamas leader Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi survived a seven-missile Israeli helicopter attack aimed at his car in the Gaza Strip. After escaping with only shrapnel wounds, al-Rantissi said, “Who are the chosen people now, biatch?”
CHAPTER 3: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
A H, FINALLY WE GET TO A DISCUSSION OF A MERICA HERSELF. There is so much to love here – from the amber waves of grain to the fruited plains (mmmm, fruited) to our obsession with celebrity shoplifters. We are indeed a great nation. The democratic experiment is going exactly according to plan. In 1864, 1% of the wealth in this country lay in the hands of African-Americans. Nearly 140 years later, that figure is basically unchanged. Americans watch four hours of television each day, and of those eligible to vote in presidential elections, only half choose to do so. Yes, progress indeed. Oh, and how could I forget: Dubya. Growing up, we were all told that anyone could grow up to be president. This guy proves it. Please, just read the chapter, before it becomes illegal.
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According to a recent study, two-thirds of Americans believe that George W. Bush is doing a great job running the country. The other one-third can read.
The White House and Congress are considering a short term $100 million tax cut. The nation’s wealthiest Americans have not yet decided how they will use the money.
The U.S. Congress has decided to call French fries “freedom fries” in the Capitol cafeteria. In response, certain French eateries are calling American cheese “Imperial cheese.”
Federal officials announced they were beginning a two-year, $23 million investigation into how and why the twin towers and a third skyscraper collapsed in raging fires on September 11. The same officials also announced the opening of a threeyear, $34 million investigation into how one becomes a federal official.
An Interview with John Ashcroft
30 Oct. 2001 — NewsPhlash has pulled some serious gubment strings to bring you the following exclusive interview with Attorney General John Ashcroft. The AG has been in the headlines a lot lately, particularly over his warnings to the American public about possible terrorist attacks. In his interview with NP, Ashcroft discusses the potential terrorist threats and the recent passage of the USA Patriot Act by both houses of Congress. NP: Attorney General Ashcroft. Thank you very much for taking time out of your busy schedule undermining the Constitution to talk with us here at NewsPhlash. AG: Not a problem BartholomewNP: It’s Baratunde. AG: Oh I apologize, Barrington NP: Baratunde. AG: Certainly, Bart . NP: Ba-ra-tun-de. AG: Sure, Kunta. The point is that I welcome the opportunity to speak with the press so the American people can stay informed. NP: Well I’m glad you brought that up OG Ashcroft. In recent weeks you’ve been on national television twice with warnings about “possible terrorist attacks somewhere in the U.S.” What’s the deal? AG: The FBI has received credible information on a potential threat, and we thought it would be fun to see what happened if we told everyone. Off the record, I put my money on mass suicide, but the boys back at the Bureau generally think looting will win out.
Better Than Crying NP: Well let’s focus on the “credibility” angle. Can you give us some idea as to what the source was? AG: Oh, sure. Fox News. NP: Fox News? That’s your source? AG: Yes. They have a great formula: they report, and I decide. They’re the number one cable news channel. Just the other day they were talking about the terrorist threat potential posed by the nation’s squirrels. You can’t expect us to be everywhere all the time, but Fox is, 24 hours a day, all around the world. If they don’t know, no one does. NP: Squirrels? AG: Oh sure. Big ones, little ones and especially the black squirrels. Those little nigglets can’t be trusted. This one time, in JackBooted Thug Training Camp, a black squirrel broke into the latrine and, well, it’s not appropriate for your readers. NP: Do you think black squirrels could have played a part in the September 11 suicide bombings? AG: I wouldn’t rule it out. They’re evil, and they hate us because we’re good. You’re either with U.S. or you’re with the black squirrels. NP: Do you mind if I call you Chicken Little? AG: Not at all. NP: So, Chicken, what exactly should Americans look out for while they’re on high alert? AG: Well, Shaka, I can’t say exactly. For starters, they should report any suicide bombers they see to local authorities. They should also avoid anthrax, botulism, smallpox and other biochemical warfare agents. Plutonium. They should also avoid plutonium, and, let’s see. Oh yeah. Hijacked planes. Deﬁnitely, without a doubt, stay off the hijacked planes. A recent government study found that the survival rate for passengers on a plane hijacked by suicide bombers was zero percent.
Domestic Violence NP: And we should avoid black squirrels too? AG: Most deﬁnitely. No black squirrels for anyone. Sorry kids. NP: Chicken, tell me this, just between us. Where is Dick Cheney really? He’s dead isn’t he? AG: Oh, okay. You got me. Dick Cheney’s in a crypt at Arlington National Cemetery. Been there since `77. It’s amazing what a little smoke and mirrors can do to fool the country. Of course, by smoke, I mean marijuana. And by mirrors, I mean “puppet media.” NP: Let’s change subjects slightly. Since the September 11 attacks Congress has passed the USA Patriot Act which grants new powers to law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Could you discuss some of the more important provisions and how you think that will help win the War on Terrorism? AG: Absolutely. As you know, Jiggaboo, the law enforcement and intelligence communities have practically had their hands tied since the introduction of the Bill of Rights in 1791. That’s 210 years without any effective national security. Last week all that ended with the USA Patriot Act. First we – I mean, Congress – repealed the First, Third, Fourth and Seventh Amendments. NP: And what do those amendments provide? AG: Well the ﬁrst is freedom of religion, speech and the press, among other things. NP: Wait, that’s practically the embodiment of America. How could you repeal the First Amendment? AG: It’s simple really: Islam. Islam is an evil religion. We must smoke out the Mohammedans in this country. NP: As you well know, Mr. Ashcroft, Muslims dislike being referred to as Mohammedans. More importantly, doesn’t this contradict your own public statements? I’ve heard you on the radio making public service announcements urging Americans not to attack Muslims, Arabs and Sikhs. AG: I lied. What? So sue me. I’m the Attorney General. You going to sic the FBI on me?
Better Than Crying NP: Good point. Would you continue with the other rights that have been revoked? AG: Gladly. Amendment Three prohibits quartering soldiers in people’s homes. We just can’t afford that anymore. We need soldiers at the ready all across the country for homeland security, so we’ll be deploying 2 million servicemen and women to live with average Americans throughout the War on Terrorism. In order to maintain the integrity of the program, we can’t tell families if there’s a serviceman designated to live with them. It’s a surprise! NP: Mr. Ashcroft, you keep saying “we.” You’re not in charge of the military, though. AG: You’d be right if it were September 10th, but as of September 11th, I’m actually running this America thing now. To continue, we got rid of the unreasonable search and seizure rights and the right to trial by jury. We must be relentless and ruthless in the face of terrorism, which is why we reinstituted slavery. NP: You what? AG: Don’t worry, Toby. Not for your people; for the Mohammedarkies. We’re making them work on pork plantations. It’s the other white meat. NP: You mean pig farms. AG: Yes, but it’s nastier and more religiously offensive if we call them “pork plantations.” NP: I see. Excuse me Attorney General, but I read the USA Patriot Act and didn’t come across any of the provisions you mentioned here. How do you explain that? AG: Simple, boy. Invisible ink. Pretty sneaky, huh? You can’t be too careful with the Evil One at large. NP: Well, I want to thank you for your time again. Is there anything else you’d like to say to the American people? AG: Three things. One, don’t get hijacked. Two, be berry berry careful cause something bad could happen somewhere at any time. Three, stay away from black squirrels. Thank you.
FBI Director Robert Mueller plans to create a new team in Washington to centralize terrorism fighting. Mueller is also expected to notify terrorists of the change so they can centralize terrorism planning through Washington as well.
Today, Senator John Edwards is expected to distance himself from the administration with a speech in which he accuses President Bush of conducting a foreign policy of “arrogance without purpose” that is marked by “gratuitous unilateralism.” After his speech, Edwards plans to slip in the shower and accidentally hang himself. The pending tragedy will be a grave loss for the U.S. Congress.
A report issued by the World Trade Center’s leaseholder has concluded that the twin towers did not collapse because of flaws in their structural design. Instead, the document cites “Saddam Hussein” as the likely cause.
The U.S. government lowered its terrorist threat level to yellow, also known as “please go outside and buy something, anything, perhaps a congressman would do? The economy needs you!”
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Cheney Undergoes Resurrective Surgery
9 MARCH 2001 — Acting President Dick Cheney was released from the morgue this week after undergoing extensive “resurrective” surgery for yet another fatal heart attack. This is the fourth time Cheney has died, according to morgue records. Cheney has long battled with death but remains committed to staying alive “no matter what plans God may have in store,” said the VP’s assistant Mary Matalin. “Presi- um, Vice President Cheney was hospitalized for a minor case of life stoppage, but it has not affected his dedication to his nation or his job performance,” Matalin stated in a press release. Cheney underwent his operation at Mt. Hades Army Medical Laboratories in the Arizona desert. Head of Surgery Dr. Igor Frankenstein issued this brief statement: “He’s alive. He’s alive.” Several doctors, however, have complained that repeated resurrective surgery can have adverse effects on a corpse including bone decay,
rotten flesh and dumbass political ideology. “What Dr. Frankenstein and others are doing is evil, even for Republicans,” said Solouno Vida, president of the National Association for the Death of Dead People. “I thought they had learned their lesson with Strom Thurmond.” Vida was referring to Harvard Medical School research which indicates that Thurmond died in 1977 after discovering that his great great great great aunt was oneeighth black by marriage. The American Medical Association has strictly forbidden resurrective surgery since it was discovered that Supreme Court Jester Clarence Thomas was actually a Mississippi slave named Shuk Niles Jive who died 200 years ago when an angry slave mob bitch-slapped him to death for opposing emancipation. Thomas’s behavior on the bench has long confounded African-Americans, who have accused the Jester of having a
Domestic Violence slave mentality. Now it seems those attacks were warranted. Resident Bush had only this to say about his number one: “Take my tax plan, which is really a refund cause the American people deserve it. Now think about life. Don’t you think Dick Cheney deserves some kind of a refund.” Cheney himself was not available for comment.
According to the Defense Department, the controversial Total Information Awareness data-scouring program will have privacy safeguards built in. Officials would not say what sort of safeguards, citing privacy concerns.
The creation of the Homeland Security Department almost failed due to Democratic objections about too many pro-business initiatives embedded in the bill. Republicans have promised to revisit these issues next year, after we’ve all forgotten about them.
Albany Police arrested a man at a mall for wearing a Tshirt “Give Peace a Chance.” Another man in the same mall who wore a T-shirt saying “Undermine domestic civil liberties while pursuing an imperialist foreign policy” was given a lifetime supply of ExxonMobile gasoline.
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Protestors in San Francisco staged a “vomit in” earlier this week, in order to show how the war in Iraq makes them “sick.” What’s next? A “shit in” to prove how much war stinks?
A Providence, RI homeless man pleaded guilty to threatening to blow up the nation’s oldest synagogue. Joseph Nixon, 24, now faces up to 10 years of food, clothing and shelter in a New England prison.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said he will do more to increase the number of minority-owned businesses that receive city contracts, such as encouraging those businesses to move to places like New York, DC or Atlanta which have actual minorities living there.
Airport officials in Hot Springs, Arkansas say a herd of about 11 deer pose a safety hazard and may be shot. The officials later clarified that by “deer” they meant “Mexicans.”
The Supreme Court has ruled that a six-by-four foot display of the Ten Commandments at the Kentucky state capitol violates church-state separation. The monument will be replaced by a giant statue of Ronald McDonald.
Bush Appoints Romulan to UN Post, Cites Diversity
4 JAN. 2001 — Supreme Court-Appointed President George W. Bush has announced his latest administrative appointment. S’Task Rihannsu Tomalak, a Romulan, has been designated as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Citing a commitment to diversity, Tomalak’s experience in intergalactic conflict and a desire to get the nation to move beyond the fact that he wasn’t actually elected, Bush said he was proud of his choice. “It’s high time a president appointed a Romulan, not because he’s Romulan, not to fulfill some Romulan quota, but because he’s qualified, he’s a team player and he has a spaceship with cloaking powers,” said Bush in a prepared statement. “Romulans believe in upholding honor through respect for oneself and others,” said the president-notreally-elect. “So do I. These ’people’ are more American than Americans.” Baby Bush was, of course, referring to the undeniable
similarities between Romulan and American history. Like most Americans, Romulans are descended from ancestors who emigrated from their motherland. Splitting off from the Vulcans in a more than 100 ship-year space journey, the emigrants settled on what became known as the planets Romulus and Remus. According to Bush aides, his record is perfectly suited to a position as U.S. representative to the UN. During his career, Tomalak, named for the father of his race, led squadrons of Romulan ships into battle against peaceful and culturally superior races. With the Romulans as the chief instigator of violence in the universe, Tomalak led the Romulan effort to boycott overdue payments to the United Galaxies, while simultaneously controlling the diplomatic body’s agenda. “Tomalak has been indebted to humans, especially Americans, since his colleague, Centurion Pahrat, was saved by a human,” said
Better Than Crying Tomalak’s spokesromulan. “He is confident that he is the ’man’ for this job, a job only a Romulan could handle.” Beyond the self-serving congratulations of Bush and Tomalak however, the appointment has its critics – chief among them, Reverend Jesse Jackson. “An alien is this Tomalak. His breath does smell of Similac,” said the man-designated-by-the-media-as-theonly-voice-of-black-America. “The you-in requires a hu-man. The you-in requires a hu-man...” Other critics point out the fact that Tomalak refuses to speak in any language other than his native tongue. Bugene Urdick, author of The Ugly Romulan,” has started a movement called “Cloak and Dagger” to stop Tomalak’s appointment. “What is he going to say in a meeting with Tony Blair when Blair complains of feeling lonely without Clinton around? ’Veherr’?” asked a heated Urdick. Veherr, indeed.
A federal judge ruled that Boston’s school assignment policy does not discriminate against whites. However, a group of white parents plans to protest with signs proclaiming, “The world is not enough. We also need Dorchester High.”
Here Comes the H.C.I.C. (Head Corpse in Charge)
3 FEB. 2002 — In an astonishingly direct manner, this past week U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney refused to hand over to the General Accounting Office White House documents possibly related to the Enron bankruptcy. “I ain’t gotta give up nothin. Now what are you gonna do?” taunted the miracle of modern medicine. Speaking from his crypt at the Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington, Cheney argued that the White House was not subject to demands from the GAO “because.” For its part, the GAO argues that it has a right to view papers documenting meetings between Enron executives and the White House during the formulation of President Bush’s energy policy. The GAO is investigating the possibility that administration officials knew about the company’s troubles before its catastrophic bankruptcy last December. It is also looking into just how much influence Enron may have had on the administration’s agenda. Congressional Democrats point to the White House’s
new “Enron Room” as well as a hallway statue of former Enron CEO Kenneth Lay performing fellatio on President Bush, as signs that an investigation may be warranted. “When you have Fortune 500 companies openly giving head to politicians, you know it’s time for campaign finance reform,” said House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt. The White House, however, considers itself exempt from almost any form of oversight due to the unique method with which Bush assumed power. During a special press conference White House Spokesperson Ari Fleischer clarified Cheney’s position. “Let’s not kid ourselves. Congress is arguing that ’the people’ have a right to know what goes on in the White House. But ’the people’ did not elect President Bush,” Fleischer admitted. “The only ’people’ who have a right to these documents are the five justices of the Supreme Court who placed Bush in office, and trust me – they’ve already approved the policy.”
Better Than Crying
A shortage of snow in Alaska may lead to greater risk of wildfires this spring, according to experts. The White House has offered a solution: cut down all the trees. According to spokesman Ari Fleischer, “Trees can’t burn if they don’t exist.”
Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s daughter was found with 0.2 grams of crack cocaine at a state drug rehab center. The Republican governor was notably silent on the subject of mandatory minimum sentencing.
The recent arrival of more than 200 Haitians to Florida’s shores has brought to light the disparity in treatment offered Haitian immigrants versus those from Cuba. Haitians are normally detained and returned to their country, but due to the Damn You Fidel Act, Cuban immigrants receive automatic amnesty, job training and GOP membership upon arrival.
Georgia high school football player James Martin was suspended for kissing his girlfriend on the forehead. The Union Grove high school prohibits “physical contact between students that is deemed inappropriate.” When he returns, Martin can look forward to future football games where tackling, head-butting and ass-patting are encouraged.
Private Schools to Institute Early Admissions Policy
14 MAY 2002 — Private Montessori schools in the U.S. have announced plans to institute an early admissions policy due to the intense competition for elementary school slots. Now parents who want their children educated by non-certified college grads can apply as early as the third trimester. According to the American Association of Schools that can Afford Arts Programs, there are too many qualified students applying for a finite number of openings. “For every available desk, we have ten outstanding two-year-olds who have distinguished themselves in the worlds of finger painting, puppet shows and peek-aboo,” said AASAAP Chairperson Margaret Liston. “We simply have to start looking earlier.” The groundbreaking announcement extends to the grade school level admissions policies generally practiced by competitive colleges and universities.
Ivy League schools have long been suspected of reserving slots for the children of political leaders, wealthy donors and European descendants, and observers fear that the same will happen to private schools. “This is an outrage,” exclaimed a random passerby on the street. “I don’t even know what’s so great about private school except that my kid can’t have access to it without me greasing some palms.” The most recent indication of just how tough admissions have become was the accusation last year that the Illuminati Day School in Washington, D.C. attempted to improve its athletic standing by recruiting children whose only qualification was their ability to play house. The school settled the charges out of court, but the event has tainted a system once seen as completely merit-based.
Better Than Crying
The nation’s pediatricians are experiencing shortages of childhood vaccines for measles, diphtheria and other ailments. The doctors say parents are fearful that the shortages could cause permanent side effects — effects such as measles, diphtheria and other ailments.
Earnings at McDonald’s fell for the seventh time in eight quarters. The company cited “increasing costs of marketing heart disease” as the primary reason for the decline.
CTI Corporation has successfully created “neuticles,” replacement testicles for dogs, cats, horses and bulls that have been neutered. “The replication is astonishing,” said Gregg A. Miller, inventor and company president. “Authentic – clear down to feel – as natural as nature intended. Now I can fondle Sparky’s balls like before I had them cut off.”
George W. Bush this week gave a speech on corporate responsibility.
Police Search for Black Male
22 OCT. 2002 — Local police are looking for a black man whom they say spent his Saturday reading a book, cleaning his apartment and adjusting his financial plans. The man, whose identity is unknown, is being referred to as “John Dawg” by law enforcement officials. “As far as we know, John Dawg has been engaged in unsuspicious activity for at least three years,” said Police Chief James Hall. Dawg is believed to be from a city on the East coast of the U.S. He probably has a white collar job and may even hold the door open for women entering a building. “The violent thugs get all the media attention, but there are literally millions of men like our John Dawg,” said Hall. “They work hard, don’t cause trouble and try to im-
prove their communities, but beneath the surface lurks an insidious hatred for America and its freedoms.” Citizens are advised not to be fooled by Dawg’s use of proper English, possession of an Ivy League degree or white girlfriend. These are all a ruse designed to disarm white Americans, according to authorities. Police urge anyone who spots Dawg to go to the authorities first. Any leads should be reported to a special telephone hotline at 877BAD-NIGA. Of course, seeking to arrest an individual yet to do anything wrong has raised civil liberties concerns, but Chief Hall has an answer for those critics: “Sure he hasn’t killed anyone yet, but he will. They always do.”
Better Than Crying
Kmart has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy and announced several restructuring plans -- top on the list is the company’s plan to boost sales by renaming itself “WalMart.”
The Dial soap company agreed to pay a $10 million sexual harassment settlement on behalf of women workers at its Illinois plant. Company officials argued that its “soapy wet t-shirt contest” was implemented merely to boost morale.
A man and woman kidnapped their own sleeping children from their grandmother’s Florida home by slamming a car through the wall. General Motors is reportedly hoping to use the couple in its newest H2 Hummer ads.
Airlines say they may stop carrying pets altogether if the government makes them report the number of pets who die, are injured or are lost in transport. According to an airline spokesman: “If the government knew how bad we were with animals, they might not let us fly people.”
Massachusetts Election: The Real Debate
1 NOV. 2002 — Approximately 99.99% of the world’s popula-
tion does not live in the state of Massachusetts, which is a shame because that means most of the world missed out on one hell of a governor’s race in 2002. The ballot featured ﬁve candidates: • Mitt Romney, a corporate insider representing the Republican Party • Shannon O’Brien, a political insider representing the Democratic Party • Carla Howell, Libertarian Party • Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party • Barbara Johnson, Independent Fortunately for the 6.27 billion people outside the Commonwealth, we at NewsPhlash had the opportunity to hold a private question and answer session with all ﬁve candidates. Let’s see what they had to say on key issues affecting the state. NP: How would you improve on anti-terror security measures in Massachusetts? ROMNEY: In case you didn’t know, I was in charge of the Salt Lake City Olympics and helped provide security. If I can successfully secure the largest city in Utah, I’m sure I can handle the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. O’BRIEN: I’d ﬁnd an existing law that I helped co-sponsor and talk about it on television so terrorists would know that Massachusetts is tough on crime. HOWELL: I’d give every man woman and child a gun and free bullets.
Better Than Crying STEIN: Strengthen defense of nuclear power plants and improve public health infrastructure. JOHNSON: I’m sure there are more capable people than me who can answer this question. NP: Healthcare is a big issue. What would you do about it? ROMNEY: I have a lot of very important friends, you know, people in high places? I could make a few phone calls and solve this healthcare crisis over a round of golf. O’BRIEN: I would take advantage of the Section 15104QrZ.1900 of the Federal Medical Providership Regulatory Act of 1956. HOWELL: The Nazis had universal healthcare, and look what it did for the Jews. Do you like Nazis? STEIN: [With no campaign contributions from special interests, Jill Stein could not afford to answer this question.] JOHNSON: Train and hire more nurses to address the shortage; buy drugs in bulk to defray costs. Common sense really. NP: What would you do to improve the Massachusetts economy? ROMNEY: Well you could say I know a lot about business. In fact, you could say I’ve helped create several businesses. You might even say I’m a silly rich bastard who is so good at business that I could afford to buy my way to the corner ofﬁce. So believe me when I say I know what’s good for the Massachusetts economy. O’BRIEN: I would make a political appointment.
Domestic Violence HOWELL: The Nazis believed in economy. They were quite efﬁcient. Is that what you want? STEIN: I will work towards economic growth that provides prosperity for ordinary people, not just CEOs. I will do this by implementing a Job Creation Tax Credit for new jobs that provide living wages, investing in education and health care to enhance workforce productivity, giving tax breaks to ordinary people, and making Massachusetts a leader in the renewable energy revolution. JOHNSON: If alcohol is legal and taxed, marijuana should be as well. If we let non-violent criminals out of jail, we could save $107 million in costs. How ‘bout them apples? NP: Many critics have accused your campaigns of overlooking the interests and needs of the minority community in Massachusetts. How do you answer that charge, and what would you do to ensure that all of Massachusetts’s citizens will have a voice? ROMNEY: Who? O’BRIEN: I believe black people should be allowed to vote, and I encourage them to vote for me. HOWELL: Let’s give black people guns. That way, they can defend themselves against all the crime in their neighborhoods. STEIN: There is a large disparity in health care quality afforded to whites versus non-whites. I would investigate the causes of this and work to improve the quality of care available to ethnic minorities. JOHNSON: Listen, I’m not gonna pretend to understand things I don’t, but I know lots of black people are getting screwed by this drug war. Let’s end that.
Better Than Crying NP: What would you do about the problem of illegal drugs? ROMNEY: Illegal drugs are a scourge on our community. O’BRIEN: Whatever my website says I would do. HOWELL: Nazis were against drugs. Are you a Nazi? STEIN: Drugs are a symptom of systemic problems. I would attempt to ﬁx the system with the integration of jobs, education, affordable housing, health care and social services, to give people real opportunities, not prison sentences. JOHNSON: Smoke them. All of them. NP: Finally, a different sort of question. Where do you see yourself in ﬁve years? ROMNEY: Taking the ﬁfth in an SEC investigation of one of my companies. O’BRIEN: In my second term. HOWELL: Cleaning my gun. STEIN: Helping people. JOHNSON: Keeping my answers short.
Coca Cola reported lower sales and blamed the late placement of the Easter holiday, a traditionally high soda-consuming time. In response, the company plans to unveil a new marketing campaign: “What would Jesus do? Drink Coke.”
Political pollsters are finding it harder to conduct surveys since more people can avoid them due to increased use of answering machines, caller ID and cell phones. The trend has forced some adventurous politicians to develop their own beliefs.
George W. Bush reached out to Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan by inviting senior Islamic officials to his Crawford, TX ranch for a good old fashioned afternoon pork roast.
EPA Director Christine Todd Whitman has resigned. Whitman cited the Bush administration’s proposal to increase river pollution as her final reason for stepping down. The administration had argued that more pollution would produce “super smart anti-terror salmon” capable of locating weapons of mass destruction.
Better Than Crying
Senator Joe Biden said he has not ruled out joining the field of Democratic presidential candidates, proving once and for all that a clown car can never have too many clowns.
George W. Bush kicked off a record-breaking political fundraising drive with a $2,000 per head dinner. On the menu were mini hamburgers, nachos and the U.S. Constitution.
George W. Bush has broken his own fundraising record this quarter, raising just over $34 million. When asked what he plans to do with the money, Bush said he would swim in it.
Explaining why a suicide bombing campaign in America would fail, Harvard terrorism expert Jessica Stern said, “we don’t have an internal population as angry as the Palestinians... nor are we occupying land.” Unfortunately, no Native Americans were available to offer a rebuttal.
Chapter 4: Download This
WHERE WOULD WE BE WITHOUT THE INFORMATION technology revolution? Probably somewhere around 1982. But besides 20 years of social devolution, the tech era has brought conveniences. For example, I can now send an email to the cell phone company while I’m on hold with them, waiting to complain about dropped calls. That’s multi-tasking. Don’t forget the language! We’ve gotten great language out of our ride on the information superhighway. Take the term “downloading” as an example. The music industry is up in arms over college kids “downloading” music files, which is just a euphemism for stealing. “Downloading” doesn’t sound so bad, but wait until real criminals catch on. “Officer, officer, I swear – I was just downloading that purse.” We do indeed live in a brave new world, and nothing reveals this better than the hype surrounding technology in general and the Internet in particular. I hold a special place on my hit list for spammers and even former friends who fill my inbox with the most deceptive messages I’ve seen since, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” Let’s take a look at the news and emails that power our information economy.
Better Than Crying
Online Crap No Longer Exciting
31 MARCH 2002 — Years after starting a website titled “Cool Site of the Day,” founder Glenn Davis has abandoned the project and returned to what he describes as “living a normal friggin’ life.” During the mid 1990s, the Internet became notorious for quirky, unique websites that offered original themes and outright bizarre content. But according to Davis, we were all incredibly lame. “If you stop to really consider what I thought was cool, someone should have put a bullet in my head a long time ago,” ranted Davis. Davis is not alone in his condescending attitude toward web trends of the past. A former self-described Internet God who went by the online alias “Gee-chilles,” Shawn Johnson can’t believe the life he used to live. “What we thought was quirky, unique, original and bizarre was really just a rancid, steaming pile of manure,” commented Johnson. Both Davis and Johnson are referring to sites such as DormLobbyCam.com, CoffeeCam.com,
SodaMachineCam.com and AssCrackCam.com that took the web by storm. “During the mid 1990s, we all had this mistaken belief that everyone should have the right to express themselves online. We thought it would be good for society and even democracy to expand the realm of ideas being exchanged, rather than having that power concentrated in the hands of a few,” said Davis. “We were wrong.” Addressing what many observers today see as an increasingly consolidated media landscape online and off, neither Davis nor Johnson had much in the way of protest. “It’s much better and a lot easier to go to an AOL-Time Warner web property than it is to try and find something original,” said Johnson. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s still bad, but I feel like I’m a part of something larger now when I practice online Quidditch at www.harrypotter.com, you know? Something bigger than me.”
The Pope this week announced “a big new theme for this year: ‘The Internet -- a new forum for proclaiming the Gospel.’” The Pope followed this announcement by declaring that the church would also now recognize that the Earth was round, and that the Vatican will be upgrading its telecom network from carrier pigeons to telephones.
This month the National Security Agency celebrates 50 years of electronic spying. Americans wishing to congratulate the NSA can send birthday wishes via email, fax, or telephone to anyone. They’re listening.
Better Than Crying
Response to Spam Email #1 Subj: Date: From: To: Re: Your Awesome Offer! 8/6/2003 15:25 AM Eastern Daylight Time baratunde thurston email@example.com
On Sunday May 11, you wrote: > Hey, > thanks for the email.. long time. > The site i was telling you about is where you apply > and lenders and banks actually compete against each other > for your loan. The winner is awarded to the lender who > can provide the lowest rate and lowest repayment. > The money i’m saving on my repayments is being used > to ﬁnance my new car. I am so glad I took a few minutes > to use this service. :) > here’s the url ; > http://www.wuyi-best.com/2/index.asp?RefID=198478 > Talk to you soon, > Mike Bridges > > Sorry if this email caused you inconvenience. > to stop me sending you more please go here. > http://gethelpu.com/Auto/index.htm Oh My GOD, Mike. Thank heavens you wrote! First of all, you are so welcome for the email. It HAS been a long time -- all the years between now and the Big Bang-- since we last corresponded. I’ve missed you a lot, dude. In fact, I didn’t even remember you existed until this email you sent me. This website you speak of sounds ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE. I’ve never heard of such a thing -- lenders AND banks actually competing for my business??? It’s too good to
Download This be true! I had a bad situation a while back where I could have used this site. My cousin, Pookie, needed to post bail, but the judge set it at $500,000. Can you believe that??? Half a million dollars, and all the man did was blow up ONE school. I mean, I thought this was America. Anyway, my family didn’t have the money, and we couldn’t ﬁnd a bank to loan it to us, so we had to rely on “non-traditional” ﬁnancing from Big Tony. Man, was THAT a mistake or what? Big Tony and his crew wanted guarantees that we’d have the money back within a week PLUS 50% interest. That was like a MILLION dollars, but we had to get Pookie out of that jail, so we did it. Needless to say, we couldn’t meet Big Tony’s ridiculous terms, so a week later, he and his crew came into our house, killed my whole family and broke both my legs! I think Pookie would have been better off in jail, but you know what they say: hindsight is 20/20!! Anyway, with this slick website you told me about, I can only wonder how things might have turned out differently if there was some bank competing against Big Tony and his crew. Would one of these banks have come to my family’s defense when Tony’s henchmen smashed our back door and ripped Regina’s tongue out? If they wanted our business like you promise, then I’m sure they would. Wow, Mike. If you had written me, like two weeks earlier, my family might be alive today. Oh well, I guess it’s good to know for next time though. Since you’ve shared this awesome information with me, remind me to tell you about this great herbal remedy I heard about. It will change your life! Ok buddy, take care. Your friend forever, Baratunde
Better Than Crying
The U.S. has accused Syria of harboring terrorists and conspiring to produce weapons of mass destruction. It seems that someone at the Defense Department has discovered the search-and-replace feature in Microsoft Word.
The U.S. Senate voted in favor of reorganizing several federal agencies into a centralized department of homeland security. The move will involve the largest government use of Microsoft PowerPoint ever.
A judge ruled that ISPs are required to ID customers the recording industry holds responsible for downloading music files onto their computers. In response, consumer advocates will sue to make record labels ID the individuals responsible for Nellyville.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE —
IBM UNVEILS NEW QUOTE-UNQUOTE JOB STATUS
9 Jan. 2001 In an effort to streamline its operations and reduce social security taxes, IBM has announced that it will implement a drastic restructuring of its workforce. The initiative, code-named Quote-Unquote, will replace at least 20 percent of U.S. factory positions with Guatemalan volunteers experiencing tough times. “The Guatemalan people have suffered through a tragic 36-year civil war,” said IBM CEO Louis Gerstner, Jr. “They deserve a little compassion from IBM while they get themselves back on their feet.” The move by such an industry veteran is being hailed as a revolutionary and necessary step if IBM wishes to remain competitive. The program will be run as follows: • “Sweeps” will be made of the Guatemalan-Mexican border by IBM in search of the neediest Guatemalans; • Quote-Unquote volunteers will be provided with housing and occasional spending money; • In exchange the Quote-Unquote illegal immigrants will build hard drives, microprocessors and other computer components; • The Guatemalans may also provide baby-sitting and home-cleaning services to IBM executives as an expression of gratitude; and • IBM shall extend this offer to each needy Guatemalan for a term not to exceed two years. IBM’s initiative is just the latest in a trend gaining momentum throughout American business. So-called “Compassion-
Better Than Crying ate Exploitation” has found a home in the farthest reaches of corporate America. Ford’s “Helping Hondurans through Hope” and Shell’s “A Nigerian a Day Keeps the IRS Away” have both boosted the companies’ share prices and improved the firms’ long-term earnings forecasts. Compassionate Exploitation is not without opposition, however. Fringe groups like the Labor Activism and Mobilization Organization (L.A.M.O) have voiced significant criticism of the watered-down form of slavery. “This is bullshit,” said the group’s founder, a bitterly diminutive Robert Reich, who is rumored to know absolutely nothing about anything relevant. About IBM IBM is a global leader in Communications, Technology and Compassionate Exploitation Solutions. All press inquiries should be directed to: Yono Caro IBM Press Liaison 914-936-1234 firstname.lastname@example.org IBM currently has openings only for Guatemalans, but will soon be extending the program. Any Third World immigrant interested in IBM’s Quote-Unquote program should send us an email at: email@example.com IBM is an E“E”OC Company. ###
Microsoft is Dead
10 APRIL 2001 — In a stunning consequence of an overbroad statement to the press, Microsoft Windows XP, due out by year’s end, will not support itself. The realization came after the company announced today that it would not support USB 2.0, an extension to the popular peripheral connectivity standard. The new version would have offered connection speeds comparable to that of rival technology, FireWire. In announcing its USB dis, a company press representative stated, “USB 2.0 support will not be included in Windows XP. Microsoft will not ship support for a standard that they can’t guarantee a great user experience on.” This statement escaped the eyes of most readers, but not young Glen Willis of Mansfield, Ohio. “See, they already can’t guarantee a great experience
8-Year-Old Discovers Microsoft Won’t Support Windows in XP Release; Decision Creates Insurmountable Philosophical Paradox for Software Giant
on Windows. Then they said they wouldn’t support what they can’t guarantee. That’s cool how I figured that out,” said the eight year old.
A Death Sentence
According to the American Philosophical Association, the sentence in question applies to all Microsoft products released in all possible worlds past, present and future. “Any reasonable person examining this statement can come to no other conclusion but that the company known as Microsoft has logically and semantically ceased to exist,” said group president, Dr. Rafiq Jones, Jr. The sentence has been cited by APA members as proof that philosophy does have a practical application after all. David Boies, honorary member of the APA, said in a statement, “Told you I’d win. I always win, eventually.”
Better Than Crying
A Dark World without Windows
With so much of the world dependent on Windows, news of its imminent expiration has had a global impact. Members attending a Linux open-source convention in Menlo Park, Calif. set a record for largest ever group orgasm upon receiving the news. Meanwhile, Wall Street was the site of history’s largest ever group suicide outside the state of Texas as thousands of investment bankers leapt from skyscrapers to their deaths. “So much for a soft landing,” quipped Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan. The usually cryptic economist minced no words when describing the impact on the world’s economies. “Capitalism is officially closed for business.” Yet, while many lamented the event’s complete and categorical destruction of wealth, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison claimed the event as a personal validation that his outlandish babble was in fact,
just babble and not outlandish at all. “For years I have told you that Microsoft is a preposterous company. In three weeks no one will even use a computer again. Trust me, networked Styrofoam cups are the future of technology,” said Ellison. Hardest hit by the software maker’s demise, though, are antivirus companies that have made millions trying in vain to protect Microsoft technology from computer viruses. “These companies have thrived in recent years as hackers launched a barrage of attacks on the MS Outlook email client,” wrote market research analyst P. R. Hoar. Supporting Hoar’s claims is the immediate disbanding of every hacker group in Russia. “Without Windows around who wants to write virus?” asked a frustrated hacker who went by the name ’Wind0Br8ker’. “Imagine you’re God and suddenly the Devil stops doing evil stuff. What do you do then, retire to Florida?”
Response to Spam Email #2 Subj: Date: From: To: Re: Good Men Are Hard To Find 5/16/2003 15:25 AM Eastern Daylight Time baratunde thurston firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally published in ModernHumorist.com July 1, 2003 On Friday May 16, you wrote: > Russian Mail Order Brides > > Tired of Dating Spoiled American Women? > > Russian Women are Unspoiled, Devoted and Grateful! > (Browse the FREE Pictures THEY Sent In!) > > We’ll Post Your FREE Ad on Our Russian Site. > Let Women Come To You For A Change. > To Whom It May Concern, I was trying to decide which method I’d use to enlarge my penis in order to satisfy these ungrateful American women, when I happened upon your unique offer. A Russian mail order bride sounds like just the thing, and I’m especially interested because they are unspoiled. Before submitting my order, however, I’d like you to address a few concerns I have about your shipping methods. I once had a bad experience with a mail-order pie company based in Cleveland – a town in one of our American states known as Ohio. The company advertised the pies as “fresh” (a.k.a. “unspoiled“). However, by the time I received my package the pie was anything but. What should have been
Better Than Crying an enjoyable apple pie sent me to the hospital with the most horrible intestinal cramps I’ve ever experienced. It is that experience which has taught me to be wary of ordering any perishable goods via the mail, no matter how good the offer sounds. This brings us back to the Russian brides and my questions for you: 1. What shipping company and packaging type will you be using? It would seem to me that guaranteed Next Business Morning from FedEx would be your preferred method in some sort of crate with lots of soft material inside -- maybe bubble wrap? I have to tell you, the Cleveland company tried to save money by using the Donkey Direct, and I absolutely refuse to accept Donkey Direct shipments after that experience. They just wrapped the pie in old newspapers and put it in a cardboard box. I can’t imagine that old newspapers would preserve the freshness of a Russian woman. 2. How will I know if the Russian bride is spoiled or not? The easiest for me would be if she came with a “use by” date -- that way I could be absolutely sure she wasn’t spoiled. Some products, like milk, come with a “sell by” date, which is somewhat helpful. Even if you purchased the item by that date, though, you wouldn’t know how long it was good for without a firm “use by” date. I know I get nervous with milk about three days past the “sell by” date. Then I start smelling the milk constantly to see if I can detect spoilage. Assuming you only employ a “sell by” date, what sort of smell does a spoiled Russian bride emit? With uncertain milk, I’ll sometimes let the dog try some and see if he gets sick. Would that work with a Russian bride? 3. In the unfortunate event that the Russian bride is indeed spoiled, what is your return policy? Will I have to pay for return shipping? Again, I’ve learned from that pie experience to be clear about the return policy. Let’s say there’s some sort of delay in shipment so that the bride arrives after the “use by”
Download This date. Clearly, I wouldn’t want to accept her. Will you pay for her speedy return to Russia? That pie company offered no such return option, so I just tossed the remaining spoiled pie in my compost heap. In America, we have laws against doing that sort of thing with humans. It seems to me that your company should assume responsibility for disposing of any spoiled brides. 4. If I partake of the Russian bride, and she is spoiled, and I end up with painful intestinal cramps, what is your liability? I can only assume you’ve got small print somewhere which indemnifies you against any health insurance claims due to use of a spoiled bride. Still, I’d like to know the precise terms of that liability. All in all, I’m very excited about the prospect of an unspoiled Russian bride delivered directly to my door, but I hope you can understand my hesitation. I’ve just been burned too many times before. Sincerely looking forward to doing business, \baratunde rafiq thurston
Better Than Crying
Reuters reports that U.S. sales of video game hardware, software and accessories rose 10 percent in 2002, resulting in an industry record. The key driver of this growth, according to experts, is Americans’ desire to kill.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said record companies should be allowed to remotely destroy the computers of those who download music illegally. While extreme, the measure might find support if citizens were allowed to remotely bitch slap senators who try to undermine the Constitution.
An Inspirational Chain Email Subj: Date: From: To: Fw: Pass On This Wonderful Message 5/16/2003 15:25 AM Eastern Daylight Time baratunde thurston email@example.com
You all should really check out the following message. It’s long but so true and so INSPIRATIONAL!!!!! \brt > -----Original Message----> From: Jennifer Ramirez [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] > Sent: Sunday, September 12, 2010 4:42 PM > To: People With Nothing Better to Do; > Subject: FW: Pass on this wonderful message!!!!!!!!!!!!! > > > > -----Original Message----> > From: Jim Stoyanovich [mailto:2muchfreeTIME007@msn .com] > > Sent: Sunday, February 16, 2003 4:42 PM > > To: Anyone Who Will Listen; > > Subject: Pass on this wonderful message!!!!!!!!!!!!! >> >> > > > -----Original Message----> > > From: Claire Doyle [mailto:boyamigullible2221@yahoo. com] > > > Sent: Thursday, June 10, 1999 4:40 PM > > > To: Friends Whose Time I Don’t Respect; > > > Subject: FW: you gotta read this! >>> >>> > > > -----Original Message----> > > From: C Dog [mailto:email@example.com] > > > To: Undisclosed Recipients;
Better Than Crying > > > Subject: you gotta read this! >>> During one foggy day, as Raymond walked down his street yet again (a judicial order prevented him from traveling farther), a thought occurred to him: what if people could create food by merely planting seeds, watering them, and reaping what they sow? But the 35-year-old Raymond knew that the world of 1994 was not ready for such a dramatic change. After all, look what happened just two years prior when Raymond suggested that the city council install a red, yellow and green signal light system at intersections. They laughed. They laughed, and then they beat him, and then they laughed some more. Raymond knew that most people were set in their ways, and he would have a hard time convincing them to change. However, Raymond also knew that if he believed enough, his dream would come true. *** At the same time that Raymond was having his earthshattering idea, a little girl was having the greatest thought her little brain had ever known: what if there could be peace on earth, and as a bonus, goodwill toward men? It was a thought so revolutionary, so original, little Jessica almost felt bad for thinking it. At the tender age of seven, she didn’t know how to realize her lofty vision except to get a puppy and take great care of it. Jessica skipped into the nearest pet store and set her innocent little eyes on the saddest bag of bones she’d ever seen. “How much for that one?” she asked the owner, pointing to a cage marked “Scooter.” “Fifteen thousand dollars,” said the owner, with obvious satisfaction. “That’s a lot of money, sir. I only have $5,” she offered. “Sorry,” said the owner. “The offer is final. Fifteen thousand
Download This or get outta my store.” But then, a funny thing happened. Jessica told the owner her dream – her dream of peace on earth and as a bonus, goodwill toward men. The owner was so moved by the eloquent speech from this seven year old girl, that he lowered his price to five thousand dollars. He then gestured toward a mangy, rabid tomcat. “You can pay off the rest by licking Mr. Tigger’s balls every day for the next two years,” he said between tears of joy. “You just have to promise that nothing bad will happen to Scooter, or it’ll be Tigger ball-licking for the rest of your life. “Peace on earth indeed,” he sobbed. Little Jessica readily agreed, but as she contemplated her good fortune in making progress toward her dream, Brian struggled through another day. *** Brian was the worst football player on his high school team – the absolute worst. Every year during homecoming, the school would take a large “Brian” mannequin, set it at the 50 yard line, douse it in gasoline and use it to fuel their bonfire. How they hated him so. And they would taunt him: Brian, Brian what a dork Let’s poke him with a big pitch fork or Whenever you think you’re not good enough Just walk up to Brian and give him a shove He won’t talk back, sure won’t fight He’s the world’s biggest pussy all right. But even though he lacked basic hand-eye coordination, rudimentary motor skills and the ability to adjust future decisions based on past experiences (often called learning), Brian had heart. Every day he went to practice, and every day
Better Than Crying he hustled. His father backed him one hundred percent and showed up at every game, even though Brian never played once. “You’ll never be anything,” his father would say between large swigs of lukewarm Zima. Brian would mistake these abuses for affection and always responded, “I love you too Daddy.” When he got to college, Brian earned a walk-on spot on the team. Although Brian was terrible, the coach thought to keep him around as a reminder to the team of what they would become if they failed to apply themselves. As in high school, Brian never missed a practice. But one day during his senior year, an owl flew into the locker room and delivered Brian a letter which changed his life. His father had a cold. Brian was devastated. His father might not be able to make it to the next game and see Brian warming the bench. His voice might not be strong enough to say, as he often did, “You’re the biggest mistake of my life.” Brian asked the coach if he could miss practice. “Who are you, and where did you get that uniform?” the coach asked. For two weeks, Brian lay in his bed crying, unable to accept his father’s condition. He was lost to the world. Then, during the third week of Brian’s sorrow, the football team was losing badly in its match against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The game was part of a special program pitting Division 3 colleges against NFL teams. Everything was going wrong. The opposing team played as if it had just won the Super Bowl. Then, quietly, a player came onto the field and approached the coach. It was Brian. “Coach, you gotta let me play. Please,” he pleaded. “Somebody, get security,” demanded the coach. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” Brian threatened as he held a gun to the coach’s back. Magically, Brian found himself in the game, and before long people in the crowd could not believe their eyes. The world’s biggest loser could play. He passed, he ran, he caught, he
Download This blocked, he tackled, he kicked and he returned punts. He even patched the field between downs. Soon the game was tied, and with a last-minute interception, Brian ran in the game-winning touchdown. After the stands emptied of the cheering crowds, the coach asked: “How did you do that kid? You were a nobody.” “I free-based cocaine,” Brian said, smiling. “Now I am somebody.” Still high, Brian got behind the wheel of his Geo Metro and sped toward his father’s house. Sadly, cocaine and compact cars don’t mix well. It happened suddenly. Brian approached an intersection, and since the city had failed to install a signal light, he raced through it. At just that moment, a little girl named Jessica was taking her new dog, Scooter, for his first walk. The dog broke away from Jessica and ran into the street. Scooter never saw it coming. Death was instantaneous. Brian faced no jail time for killing Scooter, but after he came down from his high, his father disowned him, and the school burned him in effigy to celebrate his expulsion. Because of her agreement with the pet store owner about taking care of Scooter, Jessica would have to lick Mr. Tigger’s balls for the rest of her life. And the city council, upon discovering that a signal light might have saved a dog’s life, showed up at Raymond’s house and beat him. Then they laughed at him. Then they beat him some more. Moral: Let this story be a lesson to anyone with a dream that hard work and faith will ultimately pay off! *** PLEASE FORWARD THIS MESSAGE TO 24.6 PEOPLE YOU KNOW WHO HAVE EVER WANTED ANYTHING. IF YOU FAIL TO SEND THIS MESSAGE, YOU, YOUR FAMILY AND YOUR DESCENDANTS FOR 24.6 GENERATIONS WILL SUFFER HORRIFICALLY PAINFUL GENITAL WARTS -- THE LIKES OF WHICH HAVE NEVER BEEN EXPERIENCED BEFORE..
Straight from the Soap Box
Chapter 5: Straight from the Soap Box
CONGRATULATIONS. YOU’VE MADE IT THIS FAR. By now, I know some of you are thinking: “Baratunde, tell us what you really think. Your subtle use of irony has thus far succeeded in concealing your true opinions. We want to know the real you.” Okay. You win. This final chapter features no fake news, no momentary news jokes, neither fancy fonts nor pretentious script formatting. It’s just me, straight from the soap box.
Better Than Crying
On Why It’s Not Your Afro
Originally published in The Harvard Crimson May 2, 1998 To All White People: Stay away from my hair. For the first 12 years of my life, I rarely had to “deal” with my hair except getting it cut and occasionally combing it. I lived in the predominantly black and Latino Mt. Pleasant area of Washington, D.C., and attended what was basically a black elementary school. We did not see anything strange about our hair. But, in 1989, the year the Berlin wall came crashing down, so did my world of stress-free hair existence. It was then that I enrolled in the predominantly white Sidwell Friends School. “Is that your real hair?” “That is so cool!” “Can I touch it?” For those of you keeping score at home, the answers are “yes,” “great” and an emphatic, go-tell-it-on-the-mountains “NO !” These are just some of the ignorant comments I’ve gotten about my unique brand of head covering, and it’s hardly the worst. Apparently, there had not been too many black men in Sidwell’s history, and those who were kept their heads almost shaven (I understand why now). I was a novelty: a black man with more than a centimeter of hair on his head. However, after six years at Sidwell, I had the populace trained. People knew to keep their grubby little fingers away from my cranium. I had seen the foul bathroom hygiene, and did not want unclean appendages all up in my space. Coming to Harvard, I’ve had to do it all over again, and the problem is worse than ever. Now I have an afro or a sport cornrows (they’re kind of like braids for those who don’t know). I cannot count the number of times people I do not know come up to me and touch my hair, saying something dumb like, “Wow.” “Wow?”
Straight from the Soap Box Don’t get me wrong. I can understand that there is something different about my hair and this leads people to want to learn more about it. But I am not in a petting zoo, and I refuse to pretend that I am so that white students can find out how it feels to run their fingers through a head of black hair. I can even understand that other people are not so offended by the act, but I will explain why things are different in my case: 1. This may be a little-known fact, but during slavery in the U.S., masters and overseers would rub the heads of their male slaves for “good luck.” I am not a slave, and no one here is my master. 2. As I alluded to above, people have foul bathroom habits. I have seen people use the bathroom and leave without washing their hands, and I don’t care what you say; it’s disgusting. You may have the right to be nasty, but you do not have the right to dirty my clean coif. 3. It’s a matter of personal space violation for me. You can shake my hand or fondly caress my shoulder (acceptable forms of greeting in the West), but the hair is sacred. How many of your white friends do you greet by scruffing their heads? 4. It’s either condescending or passionate, neither of which applies to most of the people with whom I interact. Headrubbing is reserved for moments between proud fathers and their Little-League-playing rugrats or intimate moments between lovers. Needless to say, none among you is my father, and I currently have no lover (but that’s a separate editorial). 5. I said so. So the next time you feel the need to reach out and touch some black person’s head, make this world a better place, and keep your hands to yourself.
Better Than Crying
On Booty Dancing
31 Dec. 2000 As you prepare to dive headlong into a new year, I realize that many of you will spend this evening in some questionable setting getting your so-called “groove” on. With champagne in one hand and some article of clothing in the other, many of you will be patronizing the fashionable and ultra-expensive New Year’s Eve parties. Those among you with rhythm will hit the dance floor. Those without rhythm will also hit the dance floor, though perhaps in a more literal sense. It is the subject of dancing that I wish to discuss. I specifically wish to address one particular form of dancing: The Booty Dance. Named after the Washington, DC area females of Negroid and Puerto Rican persuasion who are credited with its invention, booty dance is really the essence of dance. It combines all the key elements of any worthy dance form: rhythm, sensuality and of course perspiration. But what many outsiders don’t realize and insiders fail to acknowledge is that booty dancing is a very complex art form divided into three primary schools with countless subgroups. The first school of Booty Dance, I have dubbed LCD for “least common denominator.” This is the most basic style, accessible to white people and the elderly alike. Nothing more than a glorified two step, LCD style is the foundation for some of the more advanced schools of Booty Dance. In chaperoned Catholic school dance environments, it is the form least likely to result in calls to “leave room for the Holy Spirit.” The second school of Booty Dance has a regional basis and is one I have dubbed The Reggae School, because Caribbean people have a style that’s all their own. Clear signs that the Reggae School is in effect include a special hip roll known as “wining.” The Reggae School is also the only style of booty dance that can include accessory equipment. The lightweight members of the school opt for a simple wifebeater, but the more serious contenders approach the dance floor replete with straw hat and sugar cane. It’s the third and final school of Booty Dance that deserves the most attention. Legendary as the most risqué form of
Straight from the Soap Box Booty Dance (and having been completely outlawed at Catholic schools) is what I have dubbed The Freak-Nasty School. Freak-Nasty booty dance is really a whole new level, more akin to dancenography (dance + pornography). To best explain the Freak-Nasty school, I have developed a Top 10 list. If you find yourself engaged in any of the following activities, you are a member of the Freak-Nasty School. 10) 9) 8) 7) 6) 5) 4) 3) 2) 1) If furniture is involved; If only one leg is on the ground; If your ass is above your head; If a circle has developed around you; If three or more people chant “go” followed by your name or the name of your dance partner; If your face is in your partner’s crotch; If you are slapping your partner’s buttocks; If you can see the ceiling without bending your neck; If you are freaked by so many people that you are not visible to others more than two feet away; And in at number one: If you are having sex on the dance ﬂoor, you belong to the Freak Nasty School of Booty Dance.
Better Than Crying
ON THE Real Star Wars
31 Aug. 2001 By now the citizens of this great land are aware that its Department of Defense successfully tested a proposed missile defense system over the Pacific Ocean. While various species of endangered whale were reportedly miffed at the molten meteor’s descent into their childrens’ daycare facility just outside the Kwajalein Atoll, the human response to the test victory has been overwhelmingly positive. “Yeehaw!” said Texas. However, a superficial glance by even the most intellectually challenged of four-year-olds has revealed that the test was dun dun dunh – rigged ! According to Pentagon officials and documents, the “test missile” was fitted with a global positioning satellite beacon that broadcast its location to every Tom, Dick and Hussein within a light year of Earth orbit. Let me clarify for those of you not used to state-sponsored shenanigans. We’ve been had. Still having difficulty? Here’s an analogy: Let’s say you’re, oh just reaching here, an angry, psychologically traumatized, Harvard-educated black militiaman bent on showing up at and bombing the world headquarters of, let’s say, Abercrombie and Biatch – the veritable epicenter of all that is wrong with life and culture in this country. Rather than stealthily plot your attack for months as an undercover khaki, the DoD thinks you’re more likely to announce the time and date of your attack and give a minuteby-minute over-the-air broadcast of your position. Abercrombie’s headquarters are in New Albany, Ohio, but, being a recluse, you don’t know much about the big city and live somewhere like Boston (suspend for a moment your disbelief in a black man actually living in Boston). So you get in your red, black and green Hummer blasting a fusion of gangsta rap and Marilyn Manson with a loudspeaker system that says, “I’m going to bomb Abercrombie! I’m traveling 65 miles per hour on Interstate 90! I have to pee and will get off at Exit 3 for 4 minutes and 53 seconds before I resume my loud, antiAbercrombie death march.”
Straight from the Soap Box See, when I write it, you think it’s absurd, but when it’s the department of Defense, you say “Wow, we can stop terrorism with a missile shield.” Ergo, you’ve been had. QED
Better Than Crying
On The Real Star Wars, An Apology
3 Sept. 2001 It has come to my attention that you received a message dated August 31 on the subject of the U.S.’s missile defense test. The statements, purportedly authored by me, were riddled with rather questionable content. It appears that the message was sent in an attempt to portray myself and this publication as some sort of crazy, anti-establishment bullhorn. I can only offer the sincerest of apologies to those good citizens among you who were frightened by both the style and substance of the offending literature. Please, do not be frightened. Everything is OK. It is okay to watch television. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration has a recommended dietary allowance of at least 4 hours a day to maintain a healthy capitalist attitude. (For immigrants and children under 12, the FDA recommends 6 hours daily) It is okay to shop at Abercrombie. It is okay to agree with George W. Bush. It is okay to mobilize troops in order to protect national interests such as Saudi oil and Kuwaiti gold. It is okay to vote. It is okay to drive a Ford Excursion. It is okay to pay your taxes. Everything is O-TAY. You should feel safe knowing that I have taken triple precautions against any such unauthorized access and use of my computer system in the future. Clearly, any individual who preaches such a sermon of anger is crying out for help.*
*They made me write this. Don’t believe it. Run while you can. Get out! It’s too late for me but not too late to save yourself!
Straight from the Soap Box
Celebrating Black History
29 Jan. 2003 A lot of people don’t really know what to do when Black History Month rolls around, especially if they are not black. For me, the options are clear: be proud of my race. As I’ve learned in over a quarter century of life in modern America, the best way to feel good about oneself is to put others down. So I’ll be spending the shortest month of the year downplaying the achievements of all non-black Americans. It’ll be fun. However, that leaves open the question: What do you do during black history month if you’re not black? Fortunately, I have a solution for you people as well. (And when I say “you people,” I mean it in “that” way). Here is my Guide to Celebrating Black History Month for Those Who Aren’t Black. There are 10 things you can do to show that you value the contributions of African Americans to this great country of ours. Ready? 1. Read The Autobiography of Malcolm X Better yet, watch the movie. That book is really long. The basic story involves a young man who goes through many life challenges, finds himself and gets killed as his message begins to really spread. The moral of the story: you cannot make a difference! 2. Invite a black friend over for dinner Whenever it’s not Black History Month, I get sad. It’s not because I miss the festivals or the television specials or even the Coca Cola commercials featuring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Although, if there’s one thing he stood for, it was for our right to consume high fructose corn syrup. Free at last! No, I get sad because February is the one month when my white friends invite me over for dinner. It’s their way of saying, “Sorry for the 400 years of free labor and institutionalized racism. Our bad.”
Better Than Crying What better way to apologize than to invite Baratunde over for take-out KFC and Kool-Aid? I don’t even mind being the token dinner guest. I just don’t know what to do for food the other 11 months of the year. 3. Get a black friend I’m a busy man. I can’t be the black friend for all of nonBlack America. So it would behoove you to get your own. If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being blackfriendless, locate a large group of black people in a poorly lit urban alley. They should be wearing the same colors (it’s a sign of unity). Run up to the group and scream, “I WANNA BE YOUR FRIEND!” They will welcome you with open arms. 4. Once you have a black friend, appreciate him! As a black person, I can honestly say I don’t feel all that appreciated in America sometimes. Maybe it has to do with the state-sponsored assassination of so many of our leaders. You could go a long way toward healing the racial divide if you simply said something like, “Leroi, Madame CJ Walker invented the straightening comb. Now let’s go fight the power!” It helps if your friend’s name is Leroi; just a tip. 5. Watch BET I know it’s not owned by a black person any more, but this Viacom cable channel still stands for Black Entertainment Television. For your February purposes, the “E” in BET also stands for “education,” because you will learn much about black people while watching it. Primarily, you will learn that black people are a very musical people. Through the magical storytelling power of song, you will learn of the great challenges facing the black community, such as what type and how many pairs of shoes to procure. (The answer: Nike Air Force Ones and two pair). 6. If you own a retail store, put pictures of black people on the wall
Straight from the Soap Box Anyone who’s seen Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing knows that if there’s one thing which will activate the dormant riot gene in an African American, it’s the absence of their peers on the walls of a neighborhood retail establishment, especially a pizza shop. And if that pizza shop is owned by those I-talians, well, fuggetaboutit. 7. Don’t be racist This one can be a struggle for many, and it’s understandable. Racism is everywhere. It comes naturally. But it’s considered to be “offensive” if you are racist toward black people during Black History Month. If nothing else, it shows a lack of discipline. If you’re serious about hating black people, prove it by delaying that hate for four short weeks. Think of it as a vacation from racism, or “vacacism.” On March 1, you’ll return to peak racist form, charged up and ready to marginalize. 8. Know the key people Sure, there have been lots of unsung heroes in the history of Africans in America, but they’re unsung for a reason. To appear knowledgeable, you only need to know a few : the sung ones! These include: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, W.E.B. DuBois, Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglass, Langston Hughes and maybe Thurgood Marshall. When in doubt, see if there’s ever been a feature-length film about the person or a t-shirt sold using their image. If the answer to both of these questions is no, move on. I know I told you there would be 10 things to do in this guide, but I’m pretty tired after all this typing. I bet you readers are exhausted too. On the plus side, now you only need to do two per week, and it won’t adversely affect your life’s delicate schedule! That’s all for now. I guess I’ll see you guys at dinner.
About The Author
Baratunde’s mother claims the first thing he did when he was born was urinate all over the doctors. The second thing he did was laugh. “I imagine that was my way of making an entrance. I wasn’t just born. I arrived,” he says. Raised in Washington D.C. and educated in public and private schools, Baratunde eventually found his funny bone during college. Majoring in philosophy at Harvard gave him the chance to ponder life’s important questions such as: what if hypochondria were caused by a brain tumor? Clearly, it was money well-spent. While in college, Baratunde launched his satirical electronic publication, NewsPhlash, which serves as the foundation for Better Than Crying. Readers have described NewsPhlash using such phrases as: “Wicked, mad funny,” “This should be sent to SNL,” “Still crying with laughter,” and “I must start making plans to commit you.” Along with writing, Baratunde started doing standup comedy in April 2002, and in just over a year, he’s established himself as a fresh, new voice. His material covers a wide range of topics, from life as a child raised on health food to the future of technology jargon to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He’s a regular at The Comedy Studio in Cambridge, Mass. and the New York Comedy Club in Manhattan, and in November 2002, HBO selected him as a finalist in the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival Talent Search. It took some doing, but fortunately for audiences, Baratunde not only knows how to make them laugh, he’s also learned the proper place to urinate. Keep up with Baratunde at www.baratunde.com and make sure to join the email list for late-breaking comedy.
Baratunde On Stage
Like what you’ve read here? Then you’ll definitely want to see Baratunde live. He performs throughout the U.S. His credits include: • National finalist in the HBO 2002 Comedy Arts Festival Talent Search • Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Saturday Night Live and BET Comic View* What critics are saying: “The funniest human. EVER.” - Close Friend “Better than Carrot Top!” - Any Idiot “He’s Black.” - Subway operator Baratunde would be a great addition to your club, college or company pork roast entertainment roster. For booking info, please visit www.baratunde.com or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org *are all shows that Baratunde watches.
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