Witness a handsomely be-bow-tied gentleman paddling a Loon Works Allegro to the dulcet strains of Lady in Red:
I love it when the music kicks in. Makes you realize it really was necessary to drag a P.A. out to the woods for this event. When I showed this to Ronni, she noted that "it's really hard, what he's doing."
Did she harbor a secret desire to join the elite ranks of freestyle canoeers? I asked.
"No, but we need to appreciate the artistry," she said. "It is a genuine form of expression."
I'm really enjoying this story about an elusive garden flower thief who has roamed undetected through a particularly floral neighborhood with impunity for more than a decade:
“He does this every year, starting with the peonies,” said Marcia Stein, one of the flower thief’s victims, who lost a bunch of blooms this month. “Last year, he stole all of my peonies.”
Gardeners say the suspect has expensive taste. He ignores lesser flowers in favor of pricier blooms. (At Johnson’s Florist and Garden Center in Cleveland Park, peonies sell for $8.99 a stem.)
And when he steals them, he’s not gentle: He rips the blooms right out of the ground.
For years, the gardeners kept quiet, fearful that publicity would encourage more thefts. The Newark Street Garden, with 220 plots, is one of the biggest community gardens in the District, and the gardeners know it’s an attractive target for thieves in search of many crops. So, they installed elaborate fencing to protect their flowers. They laid elaborate traps in their plots. Some installed locks. A few years ago, a group even held a series of early morning stakeouts.
Am I the only one who's glad that Recipe Redux was replaced by Look and Riffs and all that? I now turn to Riffs right away, curious to see whose fleeting, desultory thoughts might have been successfully woven into a nice little essay. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. When it does, it's very satisfying, as is the case with Carina Chocano's revisitation of the early 90's cultural deathmatch between the gender politics of Thelma and Louise and Pretty Woman. If you read Chocano's reviews in the LA Times (before her layoff, emblematic of the editorial misguidance of our paper, left us with one fewer sharp critic), you'll have a sense of her sympathies about these two movies, but there's a nice twist in the kicker:
For the few years after the release of “Thelma and Louise,” the culture seemed unusually and (in hindsight) unbelievably receptive to the plaintive howls of a generation of girls who, as I did, felt exiled from the culture. Within a few more years, though, the whole thing would be supplanted by a far more chipper, more palatable, more profitable version of itself. It’s now nearly impossible to imagine a time, not so long ago, when popular culture was more interested in cool girls than hot girls — or a cultural moment in which girls could become iconic for airing their grievances and not simply their dirty laundry. As it turned out, it was a quick traverse from “revolution grrrl-style now” to “girl power,” as Riot Grrrls gave way to Spice Girls and the dominant pop-culture narrative about femininity went the way of “Sex and the City.” And Carrie Bradshaw (among others) stands pretty clearly as a descendant of Vivian, not of Thelma or Louise.
Ultimately, “Pretty Woman” wasn’t a love story; it was a money story. Its logic depended on a disconnect between character and narrative, between image and meaning, between money and value, and that made it not cluelessly traditional but thoroughly postmodern. Revisiting “Thelma and Louise” recently, I was struck by how dated it seemed, how much a product of its time. And “Pretty Woman,” it turns out, wasn’t a throwback at all. It was the future.
That was one of the aspects of Athena, and the one venerated in marble atop the Acropolis. That is unrelated to, but occured to me becayse of this drawing, which I like (and is part of a show opening tomorrow in town):
Edward Smith, who lives with his current "girlfriend" – a white Volkswagen Beetle named Vanilla, insisted that he was not "sick" and had no desire to change his ways.
"I appreciate beauty and I go a little bit beyond appreciating the beauty of a car only to the point of what I feel is an expression of love," he said.
"Maybe I'm a little bit off the wall but when I see movies like Herbie and Knight Rider, where cars become loveable, huggable characters it's just wonderful.
"I'm a romantic. I write poetry about cars, I sing to them and talk to them just like a girlfriend. I know what's in my heart and I have no desire to change."
He added: "I'm not sick and I don't want to hurt anyone, cars are just my preference."
Mr Smith, 57, first had sex with a car at the age of 15, and claims he has never been attracted to women or men.
But his wandering eye has spread beyond cars to other vehicles. He says that his most intense sexual experience was "making love" to the helicopter from 1980s TV hit Airwolf.
As well as Vanilla, he regularly spends time with his other vehicles – a 1973 Opal GT, named Cinnamon, and 1993 Ford Ranger Splash, named Ginger.
Before Vanilla, he had a five-year relationship with Victoria, a 1969 VW Beetle he bought from a family of Jehovah's Witnesses.
But he confesses that many of the cars he has had sex with have belonged to strangers or car showrooms.
His last relationship with a woman was 12 years ago - and he could not bring himself to consummate it, although he did have sex with girls in his younger days.
Mr Smith, from Washington state in the US, kept quiet about his secret fetish for years, but agreed to be interviewed as part of a channel Five documentary into “mechaphilia”. He is shown meeting other enthusiasts at a rally in California
Talking about how his unusual passion developed, Mr Smith said: "It's something that grew as a part of me when I was a kid and I could not shake it.
"I just loved cute cars right from the beginning, but over the years it got stronger once I got into my teenage years and was my first having sexual urges.
"When I turned 13 and the famous Corvette Stingray came about, that car was pure sex and just an incredible machine. I wanted it.
"I didn't fully understand it myself except that I know I'm not hurting anyone and I do not intend to."
He added: "There are moments way out in the middle of nowhere when I see a little car parked and I swear it needs loving.
"There have been certain cars that attracted me and I would wait until night time, creep up to them and just hug and kiss them.
"As far as women go, they never really interested me much. And I'm not gay.”
Mr Smith is now part of a global community of more than 500 “car lovers” brought together by internet forums.
The Zombie Zeitgeist A full scale movement is on the lurch. But why the best zombie movie ever made a video game?
Believer interview with Mark Allen Digital artist and awesome gallerist Mark Allen talks about Tekken Torture Tournament and other projects where people were wired to machines and did strange things in public.
Believer interview with Marjane Satrapi Enlightening Q & A with the Persian cartoonist, memoirist, quick conversationalist in which she declares: “THE WORLD IS NOT ABOUT BATMAN AND ROBIN FIGHTING THE JOKER; THINGS ARE MORE COMPLICATED THAN THAT.”
Yeti Researcher Yet another 100-page issue of the world's top academic journal devoted scholarship about the Yeti, Bigfoot, Sasqatch, and other mystery primates worldwide. For researchers and lay audiences alike, the latest YR features a history of Sasquatch sightings in southern California, an update on the wily orang pendek of Sumatra, and a new look into Teddy Roosevelt's obsession with bagging a Bigfoot. As Editor-in-Chief, I promise you won't be disappointed.
Panda PowerPoint! I guess I don't mind being "the entertainment" when it's at Mark Allen's second annual Holiday Fry-B-Que. Presented: preliminary findings from my ongoing research into the most charismatic megafauna of all: Giant Pandas.
McSweeny's Presents: The World, Explained | Dec 9, 2006 For those who missed it, there will be more. World, Explained is going strong! Money was raised, laughs were had, and for those paying attention, small amounts of useful information about things like the aurora borealis were transmitted. Plus: Michael Cera = lovably funny. And Nick Diamonds' renditions of Dumb Dog and Hanging Tough are still in my head. As is that horribly catchy Fresh Step jam.
Jest Fest at Skylight Books Somehow I wound up hosting the 10th anniversary jubilee for Infinite Jest at Skylight Books. Because who doesn't love a jubilee, right? Despite being delirious with Hepatitis A (that's the mild, non-lethal kind; I'm not at risk for Hep B since I always go the needle share and choose clean-looking prostitutes), I managed to not mis-pronounce anyone's name and make an erudite joke and poke gentle fun at Michael Silverblatt.
McSweeny's Presents: The World, Explained | June 10, 2006 Number Three! Last one was sold out so we moved to a slightly larger theater. Andy Richter hosted, and his opening exegesis of CSI: Miami warmed the people up right. Evany Thomas presented her very scientific findings on the Secret Language of Sleep; Starlee Kine bared her neuroses to the world (or at least the 300 people in the audience); Josh Davis showed video of his 135-lb self sumo wrestling a 550-lb opera singer from San Bernardino; and Davy Rothbart closed it out with some Found Magazine magic. Grant Lee Phillips, Sam Shelton and Zooey Deschanel provided the music punctuation! I can still hear their rendition of We Are the Champions.
McSweeny's Presents: The World, Explained | Feb 11, 2006 The second in our series of precision comedy and fact-based entertainment extravaganzas benefiting 826LA. Patton Oswalt was kind enough to host, and Jon Brion joined in on the piano and guitar as thematic accompaniment. Presenters included: David Rees, Michael Colton, John Hodgman (along with his hirsuit troubadour, Jonathan Coulton), and me. Plus: a fashion show of exciting multi-user garmentry.
Little Gray Book Lecture at Galapagos How to Observe President's Day. Jonathan Coulton's technical wizardry has made this entire show available online. The summary from PRX: Sarah Vowell, John Hodgman and Joshuah Bearman on Presidents' Day, along with a fifteen-piece marching band and a new song about all forty-three presidents. My contribution? Yes, from Yeti Researcher. Again. Actually that was the first one. So I have only five stories!
July 25: TJ to LA -- A Night McSweeney's Readings I was honored to be part of a strange triptych along with Salvador Plascencia and Josh Kun. Sponsored, somehow, by La Ciudad magazine, we all packed into Beyond Baroque with no air conditions. 150 people showed at 7 o'clock on a Friday evening, which we took as a good sign of something. Sal held up and anxiously discussed drawings from his novel, Josh delivered an essay on the Dr. Moreau of Tijuana, and my shtick (again) was Pac Man and metaphysics, this time with fun slides.
October 8th: Skylight Books w/Stephen Elliott Fun times were had by all. Someone in the audience actually mistook me for an expert on the psychology human character. We ate shrimp cocktail and drank cheap wine and laughed at Bush and celebrated the certainty of right besting wrong in American democracy. A lot of good that did.