Pop culture


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If you thought Tyra’s hamsters and their histrionics were entertaining, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

There’s a lot of evidence of the awesomeness of Australia’s Next Top Model, but I think last week’s commercial for a feminine-hygiene product, which involved the model’s hosting a 30-second spot while holding a large stuffed beaver (“I was surprised how many girls didn’t know what a beaver was” … “I thought the link between the product and the beaver was pretty clear”), speaks for itself:

Sepia Mutiny chronicles the outrage of the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti concerning Mike Myers’ upcoming film The Love Guru. The organization provides a helpful table explaining exactly how you’ll be punished if you take in the flick:

Act

Demerit

Means

Making the movie, ‘The Love Guru’

30 units

2nd region of Hell for 1000 years
Watching it for entertainment without knowing the spiritual science/significance

2 units

Nether region (Bhuvaloka) for 100 yrs
Watching it for entertainment even after knowing the spiritual science/ significance

5 units

1st region of Hell for 100 yrs
Being a seeker of God/on the spiritual path, knowing about the Movie, but doing nothing to stop it

5 units

1st region of Hell for 100 yrs

… but instead I’m watching what could supplant Gossip Girl as The. Most. Important. Television. Show. Of. Our. Time!: Farmer Wants a Wife (tagline: “Wanted: A woman who is smart, beautiful, and ready for some plowing” — ba dum ching!). Just like The Bachelor, only with ten times the pig feces. AWWWEESOME.

Love me, love my home state: a T-shirt homage to the greatness of Oregon (via this).

Bonus props to Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, a band I like (in addition to its name-checking of everyone’s favorite former president of Russia) because they have a song called “Oregon Girl.” In my deluded little T-centric world, I like to think that my old non-Oregon boyfriends think of me fondly when they hear it, a small tear perhaps escaping as they reminisce.

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From the New York Times: “A Women’s Mariachi Band Sings Its Way Across Traditional Male Turf.

Liveblogging the newest season of Gordon Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen: “The only thing I’m going to lose to a woman is an ironing contest!”

Damn those women and their ironing skills. And their ovaries. And their ability to parse the idiotic ins and outs of gender stereotypes expressed on aggressively uninteresting reality TV shows.

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Totally digging Modern Mechanix, a blog that aggregates retro visions of the future, such as this article about ostrich racing.

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79 years of posters for Best Picture winners. Fabulous repository of images, from 1927-28’s Wings to 2006’s The Departed. Tuning in tonight?

Bonus: Link to a blog that presents a graphic of posters for this year’s best picture nominees: Juno, Atonement, No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, and Michael Clayton.

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In honor of my discovery of Steal This Wiki (based on Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book), I present a bit of culture-jamming from the mean (har har) streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn — the above picture is of homemade stickers with slogans such as “We are rapacious developers” pasted onto a real estate company’s plate-glass storefront etched with “plain-folks” platitudes so unfriendly bohemians begin to bond with the nouveau riche couples snapping up million-dollar condos in post-industrial playland.

Bonus: I love public art, even if (or particularly when!) it’s a bit rough around the edges, as evidenced by this street scene from N. 6th —

Despicable? Even if it’s just a PR stunt or a viral promotion — or maybe because I suspect it falls into one of the aforementioned categories — the blog of “90-day Jane” makes me want to vomit. It literally makes my stomach churn. After I read it for the first time, I lay on the floor of my bathroom, letting the freezing tile chill my cheek.

What am I talking about? Well, in the words of the blog’s author, “I am going to kill myself in 90 days. What else should i say? This blog is not a cry for help or even to get attention. It’s simply a public record of my last 90 days in existence. I’m not depressed and nothing extremely horrible has lead me to this decision. But, does it really have to? I mean, as an atheist I feel life has no greater purpose. My generation has had no great depression, no great war and our biggest obstacle is beating Halo 3. So, if I feel like saying “game over”, why can’t I? Anyway, I hope you enjoy my thoughts as the clock runs out. Also, if blogspot takes this down before i’m gone just go to http://www.90dayjane.com. Please don’t attempt to “help” me. If you want to truly help, please send me ideas on how to do the deed. thx-Jane.”

There are a lot — A LOT — of things wrong with this fatalistic diatribe. But what bothers me the most is that someone thinks it’s funny, or important, or snarkily cool, to promote him or herself by chronicling the last days of his or her existence. For anyone who has seriously contemplated suicide, looked over the edge and stepped back … or, better, as someone who has done so … I hope that in these last 90 days, someone gives you a reason to see another day. I’m an atheist too, and at times, I do feel like saying game over. And I boil in my discontent, I piss and moan and stay in bed for days at a time. And then I get up and keep on going.

Like you, I keep a blog; maybe you’re already reading my last day. Maybe I have 60 days left. Maybe I have 50 more years. But the point is, I’m muddling through. I try to be honest with myself. But I don’t, whatever I do, use my mental health as a bargaining chip — a hook.

And while I’m going here … I know Britney Spears has made herself a target, but must we really cogitate all day on her mental health? Back in my day, what went on between you and your doctor, what you were prescribed, was a private matter. Maybe she’s bipolar. Maybe she’s under too much pressure. Maybe everyone around her is so motivated by the almighty dollar that they’ll sell her down the river so someone will print salacious details of her breakdown.

Or should we all just gather in the glow of VH1’s Celebrity Rehab, feeling better about ourselves for finding some way to avoid falling into a spiral of drugs and sex and neardeath-almostdeath lives, allowing it all become something that happens to other people?

I keep trying to “find” Long Island City, but unlike most NYC neighborhoods, it doesn’t suffice to just jump off at the nearest subway stop and roam. Or it does, but what you find is not what you expect to find. That is, instead of hipsters, I took in sights of gritty urbanity on a two-mile urban hike through LIC’s industrial stretch, from the Hunter’s Point 7 stop to the Socrates Sculpture Park, far down the vast stretch of Vernon Boulevard.

Which is not to say my meandering was entirely unenjoyable. In addition to documenting a lot of excellent graffiti, I happened upon the Taxi Depot, which, among other things, supplies olde tyme cabs (as in the picture above) to the film industry. If not for the van parked in front of it, the cab would have transported me back in time, I think.


Photo of Flanders’ Big Duck, licensed under Creative Commons by Mr. Guybrarian on Flickr

Well, no, I don’t. But I have just invested a ZipCard, so I can now reserve a car, pick it up in Astoria or Flushing, and tool around for 180 miles at a relatively low cost.

All of which has inspired me to revisit the great American pasttime of idly driving to take in wacky roadside attractions. Roadside America has state-by-state listings of popular spots; I’m thinking heading out to the Secret Caverns in Cobleskill, NY, for a touch of crazy hippie culture (although, on second glance, it seems that the caverns may not open until April). Then again, I could also try and spot the Big Duck in Flanders (which I suppose would be hard to miss, seeing as it’s 20 or 30 feet tall), the 48-foot Marian shrine in Stony Point, or the two-story outhouse in Phelps.

Environment be damned. I’m ready for the open road.

Other resources for American tourist kitsch:
Wikipedia’s list of the world’s largest roadside attractions; alternative list of the world’s largest attractions
Roadside Fans
Roadside Tourist
The American Roadside
Route 40 roadside attractions
Budget Travel’s jaw-dropping roadside attractions
30-minute NPR story on roadside attractions

Final photo posting from Florida; these are from Bradenton’s Red Barn flea market.

In addition to the crazy-awesome barnside mural, we saw huckster tactics aimed at those fearing a recession ….


(Sign reads “Depressed by the recession/Relax with a good book or C/D”)

… as well as inappropriate black-face magnets for the bargain price of $1 (I suppose that while we red-blooded Americans fear the fall of the almighty dollar, we’re always game for a bit of insensitive racial politicking).

HBO is premiering In Treatment tonight, but for my money, pop culture best explored psychiatry in Comedy Central’s Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist. Early reviews aren’t promising — here’s a slice of Slate’s take:

Adapted from an Israeli drama titled BeTipul, In Treatment (HBO, weeknights at 9:30 p.m. ET) follows Paul Weston, a psychotherapist played by Gabriel Byrne with the kind of conviction that can only come from an actor faced with ambitious hogwash. The show’s controlling gimmick dictates that it will air nightly for the next nine weeks, with Paul keeping regular appointments with the same patients each night of the week, except for Fridays, when he goes to see Dianne Wiest’s Dr. Toll, the Kupferberg to his Melfi. His nonadventures straddle the realms of the scarcely credible and the incredibly boring.

Another recent show exploiting the fragile mental state of fellow man is Celebrity Rehab. Must we, really, ogle people going through withdrawal? Is it really so fascinating to listen to their stories of broken homes, broken lives, and feed into their vainglorious attempts for one more shot at fame, succeeding only in pandering to the lowest common denominator?

 

Tonight’s episode of The Amazing Race season 12 million (or whatever) is set in Mumbai, India. Moments of zen?

“Seeing Vyxsin twisting, turning, and contorting her body is always a highlight for me, and I think it was a highlight for the instructor as well” (Kynt, token goth, during a “speed bump” obstacle that involved them emulating a series of asanas, because yoga is all about tawdriness, titillation, and ogling supple young women)

“Follow the music to the bridegroom? Do we give it to the elephant?” (Token hot blond, looking to deliver a garland of flowers she just made)

“You know, I think this guy just wanted a free ride” (Racer — more, racer with race-induced hernia! — conned into allowing a young man to ride atop his bicycle load of gas cylinders under the aegis of getting directions from a local)

 “We’ve gotta find someone who speaks English!” (Token hot blond, again, who seems unaware that there are approximately 100 million English-language speakers in the subconty, the great majority of which are in metropolises like Mumbai)

Also? Obligatory India marvels: Man in a turban! Crazy traffic! Bollywood! Yoga! People dancing! Wedding! (Check, check, check, check, check, check, and check!) What could be more mystical and exciting?

Personally, I wish they had made them ride the local trains. My favorite picture of all time? Graffiti on one of the cars. Witness perfection:

Slow trains sucks!