take THIS, Pat Buchanan

DVD magazine Wholphin has posted a short movie to their website featuring a group of guys playing beach volleyball over the border fence between southern California and Mexico.
Check it out.


West L.A. Fadeaway

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip has a few problems.

I am willing to grant that many of these may be my problems. The West Wing approached moments of greatness, as a major network television series, which were exceeded only by Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So, granted, unfair baggage.

Pilot episodes are granted significant leeway. A new show must distill the charisma of the cast, the hook of the plot and the tone of the entire series into one perfect episode. It's Herculean, and mythical Greeks comprise an astonishingly small percentage of the entertaiment industry.

Studio 60's pilot was very successful. People we like to watch were portraying the elite of a mysterious, controversial world, and the show snapped along with creative wit. Most of the necessary exposition was done cleverly (unlike on Smith, which is a less engaging version of Thief) and that which wasn't can be forgiven on Pilot grounds. Amanda Peet's performance was weak, but I envy nobody who encounters Aaron Sorkin's pages for the first time. The "Out Christian" character had potential, but also threatened to reveal itself as a fallout shelter necessitated by Studio 60's attention to religious America. And, yeah, they got me with the slick transition to the opening title. So very well!

How disappointing, then, to tune in eagerly to the next episode to discover that all the information from the pilot was recapitulated not ONCE, as substitute for a "last week on Studio 60" montage, but continuously. The audience is reminded of every character's history and interrelationships as well as the plot points leading to the current state of affairs.

Our introduction to the gritty details of live television production sank into a Dead Sea of didactic flowcharting, which may have bottomed out with Timothy Busfield's character literally listing all the departments under his control.

The prevalent tone was of such high drama that it strained to breaking the show's emotional credibility.

It bothers me that the creative team behind Studio 60 seems to think they must pack an entire season's worth of Big Moments into 42 minutes. Are they worried the show won't last? The Internet Movie Database suggests to me that the first season will only be six episodes long, so that may be revealing. I do believe that limited series are the most successful television format for storytelling, but that doesn't mean it's always going to be employed artfully.

One survival strategy may be the choice to set the show in the "real world". As such it can incorporate and refer to an infinite list of people, ideas and products with which its audience can identify.

This is an ideal vehicle for marketing, if one chooses to use it and is skilled enough to make it all ring true. That duty would likely fall to Hermes, I think. Shout-outs to the Internet Crowd are cute, too.

I hope to be proven wrong, because we desperately do need shows that deliver on the promise of talking honestly about our society. Studio 60's second episode was largely about cracking (possibly, I suppose we find out next week) under the cultural pressure, but nobody wants to watch a bad show about a bad show. I'm crossing my fingers.

Meanwhile, Fox News (you remember them)Horroris launching a preemptive strike against the "Armitage threatened to destroy my country" story coming from Pervez Musharraf by attempting to blame ex-President Clinton for al-Qaeda.

That al-Qaeda was, in fact, summoned into the American imagination by Clinton's FBI is not the angle here so much as the less-supportable "Bubba plum fergot to tell us!" shrug. Somebody still believes that Condoleeza Rice has enough credibility (poor thing) to tell the New York Post Clinton is a liarpants, too. This is probably the part of the job General Powell warned her about over dinner. One wonders how bad things have to get before a President pro tempore of the Senate gets hung out to dry.

And finally, on a personal note, I found out today that I did not get the job I desired at TokyoPop.



Two things offended me between my house and the train today.

A Fox News Hummer. Of course. A death machine for the death merchants. What the hell else would those bastards use? I desperately wished I had a paint pen with me so I could have scrawled something witty like "LIARS" on their shiny black paint job. Alas.

This sign is posted on the temporary pedestrian walkway on the south side of the Triboro Bridge. Note that the sign gives zero indication on whose authority photography has been banned. Thank you, but I will photograph any publicly funded and maintained piece of infrastructure I like.



Five years ago today:

looking downtown
Looking downtown along the West Side Highway from approximately Houston St.

A firehouse in the West Village.

Probably the first I saw of what would be many such posters.

You R Alive.
I R Indeed. A wall in the West Village.

At the corner in front of the Exxon Station, Caton Ave. at Coney Island Ave. 9/12/01.