Writer Paul Auster spoke to a cultural gathering in Madrid this week and called U.S. foreign and domestic policies "stupid," saying, "In the long run I don't think the American people are going to be asleep the way they are right now. I think eventually they are going to wake up." Watch out, Paul, they may start banning your books in Texas. (International Herald Tribune)
"The Hulk" could be the movie of the summer, since it captures that all-American feeling of wanting to smash things that hurt you. The madder the Hulk gets, the stronger he becomes -- which is handy. But the other reason he may be the hero of the moment is nicely explained by Washington Post writer Joel Achenbach: "The Hulk actually likes himself. He's the last uncomplicated man. Leave it to [Bruce Banner] to be moody and wistful and self-absorbed and all those things that the modern cringing male has become. The Hulk knows who and what he is. As far as the Hulk is concerned, his only anger management problem is that sometimes he forgets to write up a Things to Smash list." (Washington Post)
The idea that former V.P. Al Gore is seeking backers to finance the launch of a liberal cable TV news channel to challenge the Fox Newses of the world is a good one, according to Eric Alterman, author of "What Liberal Media? The Truth About Bias and the News." Says Alterman, "Since the election, liberals like myself have grown more fond of Gore ... but not, for goodness sakes, as a talk-show host." What he said. (I Want Media)
Maybe the lawmakers on Capitol Hill need a vacation. The latest "sex scandal" up there involves a bare midriff that got all kinds of panties in a bunch. Washington Post reporter Juliet Eilperin was in the speaker's lobby taking notes when -- horror of horrors! -- her sweater rode up a bit allowing Dennis Hastert's aide Jerry Gallegos to glimpse her navel. He was so shocked that he told her to change clothes, but gallantly offered her his tie to use as a belt in the meantime. For two days after, reporters were given rules for proper attire -- perhaps including the tie-as-belt option? (Washingtonian)
And now, for a bit of gossip about that hot editor whose name is on everyone's lips right now, Harold Ross, late of the New Yorker. It was said of him: "He was an unread man. Well, he'd read Mark Twain's 'Life on the Mississippi' and several other books he told me about -- medical books -- and he took the Encyclopedia Brittanica to the bathroom with him. I think he was about up to H when he died. But still his effect on writers was considerable. When you first met him you couldn't believe he was the editor of The New Yorker and afterwards you couldn't believe that anyone else could have been." That, from James Thurber talking to George Plimpton in 1955. Just liked it; thought you might too. (The Paris Review)
-- Karen Croft
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President Bush's father, ex-President Bush, is keeping a "shit list" of people he believes are being unkind to his son. (Look out, Paul Begala and Dixie Chicks: You're on it.) Also a list of people he likes. But it seems, judging from the following exchange in the current issue of Texas Monthly, that George Sr. might want to keep a list of his lists, too.
Texas Monthly: Has the press been fair, in your mind, to this president?
Bush: I think he's gotten pretty good press. There are certain exceptions to the rule, but I think it's been pretty good. Where it's not, it's predictable-that so-and-so's writing that. You don't expect Paul Begala to worship George W. Bush. So I just tune him out now. He was a fairly engaging person back in the old days, but he's off my list. As are the Dixie Chicks, which may surprise you.
Texas Monthly: I want to ask you about that, Mr. President, since you brought it up. There are people who would argue and have argued that the Dixie Chicks flap is an instance of somebody exercising a right that we were fighting to ensure for the Iraqi people.
Bush: I think you can make that argument. The problem with the Dixie Chicks, as I understand it, is that they were out in front of an anti-war audience in England. They're young kids, and they got carried away. There's a tendency at political gatherings to jump out ahead of the hounds. That's what I think. And now they regret that, because they used to say pleasant things about the governor of Texas, as I understand it. They couldn't have reversed that much based on Iraq; they're not foreign-policy experts. I think, and maybe this is too kind, they just got carried away and told the audience what it wanted to hear. Hey, right on!
Texas Monthly: Could they get back on your list?
Bush: They're on my shit list. Which list are you talking about?
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Also likely on George H.W. Bush's list (the shitty one): John Kerry. Kerry's taking aim at the man he hopes to unseat as POTUS. "He misled every one of us," Kerry told a New Hampshire crowd yesterday, addressing the WMD-in-Iraq issue. "That's one reason why I'm running to be president of the United States ... I will not let him off the hook throughout this campaign with respect to America's credibility and credibility to me because if he lied he lied to me personally."
Not on each other's shit lists after all: Bill Clinton and Rudy Giuliani. Disproving advance reports that they planned to steer clear of each other at a charity lunch yesterday, the former pols shook hands and posed for photographs together. "We had a nice chat. We shook hands. I even gave him a hug," Giuliani told the New York Daily News. "The President and I have different politics, but I respect him and I think it's terrific that he comes to something like this." Clinton's spokesman heartwarmingly commented that his boss "enjoyed visiting with [Giuliani] today."
Not getting along as well these days: Pamela Anderson and Kid Rock. Reports are rampant that the two fiancés might actually be former fiancés. He's been touring without her and she's been sighted without her engagement ring. What's more, she's been issuing not-so-cryptic comments like these: "The word that best describes me now is 'free.' That's all I will say. I'm a mom, and that's where my life is at," and "Assume what you want about a wedding ... I'm here with family and friends. That might be a hint." Well, she's never been much for subtlety.
Reports of Harry Potter leaks abound. But what's got J.K. Rowling really pissed is all that fretting about her turning kids on to the occult: "I think that's utter garbage," Rowling tells Katie Couric in an upcoming TV interview. "I absolutely do not believe in the occult, practice the occult. I've never ... I've met literally thousands of children now. Not one of them has said you've really turned me on to the occult. Now, I'm convinced that if that's what my books were doing, I would by now have met one child who would have come up to me, covered in pentagrams and said, 'Can we go and sacrifice a goat later together?'"
Dave Eggers has not sent his last name off to slaughter. A "correction" posted on Eggers' McSweeney's Web site refutes recent reports that the author is pulling a Cher and changing his moniker to, simply, "Dave," starting with the paperback version of his book "You Shall Know Our Velocity." So how did the whole mononame biz get started in the first place? According to the Web site, "Some catalogs put out by Vintage, the book's paperback publisher, featured a mockup book jacket that was somehow missing the author's last name. This was a production mistake, and one that was quickly corrected."
-- Amy Reiter