Archive for November, 2010


by Audrey Garrett

I’m thinking of Dallas, Texas.  Right around Elm St.

I haven’t forgotten that rogue factions in the government killed an elected official.

I hope you haven’t either.

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It never seems to fail; whenever I visit a fast food shop, whether it be Subway, Wendy’s or…actually, those are the only two I visit these days, I can’t help but notice (to be honest, I intentionally observe) a disturbing trend; as each punter approaches the counter, to place their order, the unfortunate sad sack, designated with the task of taking food orders, greets them with what appears to be a genuine smile, and cheerfully inquires, “Hi, what can I get for you today?” The punter, with seemingly dead eyes and a palpable moronic expression on their face, neanderthalically (my new favourite made-up adjective!) responds with either:

“Uh…gimme uh…a number five with extra bacon, extra pickles, extra mustard and extra cheese….” or:

“Footlong , oven-roast chicken, honey oat bread.” or:

“I want a Biggie-Baconator with a large Frosty.” Or, my personal favourite:

“I need a…..” or “I’ll do a…”

Yes indeed, the current American way, to order a fast food lunch, is to inform the hapless (yet endearing) cashier, that you either “need” two five-piece orders of chicken nuggets, in the way that you need an emergency blood transfusion, or that you want to “do” a footlong of chicken teriyaki on wheat, which causes the casual observer (i.e. Me) to wonder, “Is this person actually telling the cashier they want to fuck a footlong….of chicken teriyaki?” I’m waiting for the glorious moment, when I hear the order taker nonchalantly respond, “Well sir, if you insist on fucking your sandwich, the condoms are next to the straws, at the condiment station off to your left. Please be discrete.”

At any rate, these common statements for announcing food orders, are a stark (and very sad) indication, of the rapid eradication, of America’s manners and articulation.  And the question gets begged (in the tone of little Oliver asking, “Please sir, can I have some more?”); “How did these frat-boy inspired phrasings, ever so crudely penetrate the English lexicon, of what used to be, proper ways of issuing responses, when asked what one would like to eat, when visiting a restaurant?”

The answer, from everything I’ve seen and heard, is quite straightforward; John Scopes was spot on; we definitely evolved from monkeys. But somewhere along the way, we took a detour, that took us back into the Caveman Era, where the most emphatic way, to show one’s pleasure toward what they were eating, was to grunt. The current generation of Homo-sapiens, have merely dressed it up, by incorporating, “gimme,” “I want” and “I’ll do a,” into this old-fashioned response mechanism.

In my own melancholy estimation, the days of hearing “please,” “thank you,” “may I have,” and “could I kindly have,” have, for the most part, gone the way of Lehman Brothers, late fines at Blockbuster and the Mickey Mouse ice cream head. Our diva-like sense of entitlement (as in, because I’m a paying customer, I can demand my food however I wish) has swallowed our sense of propriety whole, and the only trace of it, is found in the nasty burp we emit, after we’ve thoroughly chewed it (with mouth open, whilst we talk loudly) and sent it toward the asshole of our outright rudeness, where it will be promptly shit out, only to repeat the cycle, once again.

Indeed, John Scopes is rolling in his grave.

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Over the past decade, I’ve developed a very deep infatuation with England, and practically everything that relates to it. In addition, I’ve cultivated an equally potent interest in Berkshire, one of its southern counties. And within that, my focus has settled on a town called Reading.

Whilst Berkshire has generated a multitude, of iconic individuals, from Jane Austen to Ricky Gervais to Kate Winslet to Princess-in-Waiting Kate Middleton, Reading, in particular, has produced a new icon-to-be, in the form of one Anna Louise Batchelor, or “Porridge Lady,” as she’s commonly referred to, thanks to her voracious passion for the quintessential British breakfast food.

Ms. Batchelor, who spent her formative years in London and re-located to Reading, has procured something akin to a cult following, among the health-conscious foodie demographic, since winning the Speciality Porridge Trophy, at last year’s Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship, held in the village of Carrbridge in Scotland. For those not familiar with porridge-related lingo, a spurtle is a wooden stirring stick commonly used in the making of oatmeal. In a recent interview, Ms. Batchelor proudly stated, “I was really chuffed, last year, ’cause I put a lot of work into it. I’d really spent a year developing the recipe. It really meant a lot to me to win it.”

A resident of East Reading, Ms. Batchelor, in addition to being a fervent porridge enthusiast, is a prominent organic/sustainable food activist and environmentalist. She is actively involved in the worldwide Slow Food Campaign, the Real Bread Campaign, and is effusively diligent, in her support of local farmers markets and organic food shops around the county. What makes Ms. Batchelor as special, as her Speciality trophy, is her dedication to her English heritage. She constantly makes an effort to highlight the best of Britain’s homegrown food.

If this weren’t enough, in between regularly writing food-related columns for the Reading Evening Post (the town’s local newspaper), she’s also on a mission, to curb the disturbing increase, in obesity, among the youth of England. She has become quite outspoken, on the issues of improving the quality and variety of school lunches, becoming more physically active, and of course, raising awareness about the long-term health benefits, of her favourite natural ingredient: oats.

Here’s to you Anna, and everything you do, to help make the world a healthier place.

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“control your house and you know how to treat other women better”

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As an anonymous graffiti artist and self-described “freelance skateboarder,” Neck Face, whose true identity, much like Banksy, is virtually unknown, has a style and repertoire that has been described as “naive and scratchy, with a palpable hint of juvenile delinquency.”

Mr. Face, who was born in Stockton, California in 1984, began his prolific career, by tagging public mailboxes and newsstands in and around Stockton, San Francisco and Los Angeles. It was after spending years doing this, that Mr. Face decided it was time to follow in the pretentious footsteps, of his fellow d-bag art school friends; so, he left his prominent position, as a graveyard shift stocker at a local Wal-Mart, cold-called Creative Artists Agency, procured representation, and began pimping his work, at major galleries in L.A., San Fran and NYC.

Mr. Face’s most notable “project,” is his sentimental defacing, of a long since abandoned fashion boutique, called “My Old Lady,” located in NYC’s upper crust Chelsea district (see image above). The drawing was promptly removed soon after.

His other prominent accomplishment, in addition to defacing a large promo billboard, for 2005’s “Batman Begins”, (see top image) is a brief cameo in Banksy’s brilliant documentary “Exit Through the Gift Shop”. Mr. Face has said he plans to use the royalties, from the film, to put toward his next fill up at the gas station (he allegedly drives an old school Volvo, but this theory has never been properly substantiated).

When asked about any upcoming projects, Mr. Face’s response is not so much modest, as it is painfully nonchalant, “Fuck man, I have a hard enough time getting up before Noon. I don’t even know what I’m doing twenty minutes from now.”

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A long time ago, in a land far, far away (okay, it was 1988 and the setting was Los Angeles) a cinematic phenomenon was born, care of one Keenen Ivory Wayans, the mastermind behind the serial sketch comedy “In Living Colour.”

The aforementioned phenomenon, would be none other than “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka.” Inspired by such 1970’s blaxploitation epics as “Shaft,” “Kentucky Fried Movie,” and “The Human Tornado,” “Sucka” takes the path those films campily cultivated, and proceeds to turn it upside down, inside out and around and around (much like what a Denny’s Grand Slam breakfast does to your stomach).

Utilizing the talents of his brother Damon, as well as well future “ILC” cast member Tommy Davidson, Keenen Ivory, in a diligent effort to show the viewer he’s not fucking around (even though he really is), enlists such legendary blaxploitation actors as Fred Williamson, Isaac Hayes and Richard Roundtree. To top it off, he introduces a very young (and very scrawny) Chris Rock, who shines in his notoriously hilarious, “I just want one rib!” scene.

What makes the movie an exceptionally fine piece of underground cult cinema, beyond the bare bones budget, the bawdily over-the-top script and action sequences, and the badass cast, is the equally badass soundtrack, featuring the classic KRS-ONE cut, “Jack of Spades,” which references Wayans’ lead character, whom he plays.

As for the story, consider this write-up the “teaser.” “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka” is very much like “The Matrix” (only a HELL of a lot better!); you cannot simply be told what it is, you must experience it for yourself.


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“Sticky Fingers” by the Rolling Stones is the last album that really mattered.


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As a journalist who is well on his way to developing his own unique style of gonzojournalism, contributing editor at Rolling Stone magazine, Matt Taibbi, speaks for so many of us when he responds to David Gergen’s thoughts about JEB BUSH being a “viable candidate” for the presidential election in 2012 (RS 1118, “National Affairs,” pgs. 43-46).

Mr. Gergen: …He’s (Jeb Bush) one of the few people I know who could bridge the various factions within the party (GOP) and hold people together.  So I’m putting my money on Jeb Bush as a potential star who might emerge and unite the party.

Taibbi: Whew.  I was already depressed this morning, but thinking about another Bush as the better-case scenario in an either/or political future makes me want to douse myself with kerosene and jump into a blast furnace.


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"The Mona Lisa"

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In addition to afternoon tea, fierce football club rivalries, Burberry coats and signature black cabs, it can be said that England is also famous for its black comedies (no cream or sugar necessary). “Keeping Mum” is yet another prime example, reinforcing this notion with wicked wit and devilish charm.

As inspired and original as fellow British classics “Death At A Funeral” and “Shaun of the Dead,” “Keeping Mum” centers around the idiosyncratic (yet oddly normal) Goodfellow family. Walter (a fantastically nuanced Rowan Atkinson, of “Blackadder” fame), the father and vicar of the local church), is so singularly obsessed with his work, he’s utterly aloof to the needs of his frustrated homemaker wife (Kristin Scott Thomas (“I’ve Loved You So Long”), playing decidedly against type, in a delightfully comical role), who decides to have her needs met, via an empty friends-with-benefits fling, with her sleazy, nymphomaniac golf instructor (a very amusing yet bizarrely cast Patrick Swayze). Adding to this combustible mixture, is Walter’s sexually precocious, well-meaning daughter Holly (Tamsin Egerton) and his proper, effusively polite son Peter (Toby Parkes) who gets regular ass-thrashings at his primary school, care of the class bullies.

Enter one Grace Hawkins (a brilliant Maggie Smith (the “Harry Potter” films, “Ladies in Lavender”)), the family’s new housekeeper. She arrives with a heart of gold and a storage chest full of ominous secrets. As she acclimates herself to the Goodfellows’ way of life, she takes it upon herself, straightaway, to change their lives, one by one. As Shakespeare might have said, “Let thy most off-the-walleth of humour beginneth.”

“Mum,” whilst being a very satisfying, comedic romp, is yet another fine example of independent British cinema. Although the cast is chock full of marquee English actors and actresses, each performance is thoroughly believable, enabling the audience to actually give a toss about how the surprise ending affects the family and Grace.

Whilst the title is actually meant as a clever turn of phrase, it brilliantly implies the kind of clever comedy the viewer will be anticipating, right from the start.

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