» The Substance of Style

Ed Driscoll

The Substance of Style

Manolo, the world’s first superstar shoeblogger finally comes clean as H.D. Miller, chair of the Department of History, Politics and Philosophy at Lipscomb University in Nashville:

In April of 2002, I launched a political rant blog under the title “Travelling Shoes”, a blog that lasted three years, was widely read, and has since thankfully disappeared from the internet, taking with it opinions about politics that I would like to forget I ever held. After that, my history as a writer took a surreal turn, and in October of 2004 I became one of the first fashion bloggers, a pseudonymous figure cited in the press as both one the funniest things on the internet, and a model of how fashion blogging was changing commerce. I did very well from that venture, well enough to quit being an academic and move to Argentina for a year. Unfortunately, that year was 2008, the year of the economic crash. By early 2009 advertising had dried up and my business was in trouble, and so I moved back to the States and went back to work in the real world, back to the academy.

I met H.D. around 2008 when he was still deep undercover as Manolo; it was a brilliant strategy, creating a niche for himself as a pioneer in the then-new world of fashion blogging (which is now ubiquitous, with loads of one-person fashion blogs and photo-oriented Tumblr sites, and established publications adding blogs to their Websites after initially sneering at the notion in the early naughts). And simultaneously, a way to completely depoliticize a blog by establishing a new identity, along with the outrageously affected tone of the European panache that was the shoe-blogging style of the Manolo.

Has the Manolo persona been retired? If so I will miss him. Perhaps I will wear the shoes of the blue suede in his honor today.

Adventures in the Skin Trade

April 6th, 2015 - 7:00 pm
NY: Solving Kids' Cancer Annual Spring Celebration

Dr. Fredric Brandt, at fundraiser held at 583 Park Avenue, NYC in May of 2014. (Photo by Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan/Sipa USA) (Sipa via AP Images)

When you begin to deconstruct the above photo in light of today’s headlines, it yields a multitude of insights into a left-leaning celebrity culture gone horribly wrong.

Currently making the rounds at the New York Post’s Page Six celebrity gossip section, and the often equally gossipy London Daily Mail, is a cautionary tale of the limits of wealth, medical experimentation, pop culture narcissism, and arguably satire as well. “Famed dermatologist to the stars hanged himself aged 65 at his Miami mansion after being left ‘devastated’ by comparisons to Martin Short’s doctor character in the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” Short’s Netflix series, the Daily Mail reported yesterday:

Cosmetic surgeon Dr Fredric Brandt hanged himself on Sunday at his Miami mansion.

Miami Herald columnist Lesley Abravanel told Daily Mail Online exclusively that sources close to Dr Brandt said he had hanged himself.

The City of Miami Police Department confirmed that Dr Brandt’s death was a suicide by hanging on Monday.

Abravanel said Brandt, 65, was ‘devastated’ recently over rumors comparing him to a character on the Netflix show, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

The London Telegraph adds that Brandt “was an American dermatologist known as ‘the Baron of Botox’ who owed his exhaustive knowledge of fillers to repeated experiments on himself”:

Working out of clinics in Manhattan and Miami, Brandt pioneered a look that has been dubbed the “New New Face”, attributed to the likes of Madonna and Demi Moore. A carefully calibrated regime of Botox, collagen and Restylane injections created a plump, youthful appearance that disparaging beauty critics likened to a baby’s. Brandt specialised in a procedure called the “Y-lift”, which involved the injection of filler into the area just below the cheekbones.

* * * * * * *

After graduating from Rutgers University in New Brunswick in 1971, Brandt went on to Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia, where he toyed with various specialities before settling on dermatology. He completed his residency at the University of Miami in 1981 and set up his private practice there, branching out to a New York office in 1998. Eight years later he expanded the Florida clinic to include the Dermatology Research Institute, which currently has more than 200 patients involved in clinical studies of muscle relaxants and dermal fillers.

Brandt’s “celeb clients included Madonna, Kelly Ripa and Stephanie Seymour,” MSN reports, along with Allure magazine editor in chief Linda Wells and many others.

“Brandt also admittedly used himself as a guinea pig,” Yahoo notes:

 “I’ve been kind of a pioneer in pushing the limits to see how things work and what the look would be,” Dr. Brandt told the New York Times. “Would I change anything I’ve done? I might not have used as much Botox, because you don’t want to look quite as frozen.”

Occasionally, expensive plastic surgery, diet, and an intense exercise regimen can produce amazing results. Christie Brinkley, at age 61, looks fantastic. But far more often, we’ve all seen the photos of Hollywood actresses “of a certain age” with waxworks skin and collagen-stuffed lips who more closely resemble Janice, the lead singer for the Muppets’ Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem rock group, than actually anything remotely human. And more recently, Bruce Jenner has made all of the gossip sites, as he seems to determined to transform himself from aging Olympic superstar to the second coming of Michael Jackson to…well, who knows where his surgical experiments will ultimately lead?

Or as the New York Times noted last year in its profile of Brandt:

To visit La Grenouille, Le Cirque, the Four Seasons or the Core club, or to travel the benefit circuit in New York and Los Angeles, is undoubtedly to encounter a Brandt creation, a person whose skin is smooth and yet not freakishly taut, whose cheeks possess the firm curvature of a wheel of Edam, whose unblemished flesh calls to mind a Jumeau bisque doll, a baby’s bottom or, perhaps, Madonna.

* * * * * * *

Over a recent lunch of grilled salmon and sparkling water at La Lunchonette in Chelsea, Dr. Brandt remarked that his goal was to “restore a face to harmony.” As strong winter sunlight streamed through a window, he instinctively moved to the shadows, shielding his pale skin. “I approach each face with a visual perception, an artistic perception and a medical perception,” he said.

When Garren Defazio, the hairdresser who gave Farrah Fawcett her wings, cropped Victoria Beckham’s hair into a pixie and turned Madonna into a blonde, first saw Dr. Brandt 14 years ago, it was because, as he explained by phone from London, when you are surrounded all day by a mirror or cameras, there is a certain business imperative to look fresh.

“Fred wants everyone to be fresh,” Mr. Defazio said. “You’ve got to remember that he’s perfecting his patients. That’s his fantasy, himself.”

Back in 2011, Adam Carolla had a brilliant metaphor for the current state of plastic surgery. In one of his podcasts, he described the technique, along with Botox and other surgical/medical techniques, as currently going through the same experimental phase as digital special effects went through in 1990s Hollywood, i.e., some outstanding examples when it all works, and plenty of weirdness when it doesn’t. Like CGI in Hollywood, there’s no doubt, in the coming decades, plastic surgery and its spin-offs will become even more seamless and difficult to detect — and even more ubiquitous.

But in the meantime, the quest for eternal youth, combined with, as Diana West dubbed it in 2007, The Death of the Grown-Up, continues to produce some head-shaking results, even amongst those who perform the procedures on celebrities, and should have enough sense to know that they’re going too far.

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As Always, Life Imitates Arthur C. Clarke

March 25th, 2015 - 7:29 pm


“DAWN OF THE DIGITAL ACTOR — STUDIOS SCAN BODIES,” the headline atop the Drudge Report screamed this morning, linking to this Hollywood Reporter article on Fast & Furious 7, and the filmmakers’ efforts to digitally replace star Paul Walker, who died (in grimly ironic fashion, alas) in a sports car accident midway during the production of the film:

No actor is indispensable. That is the blunt lesson from the fact that Universal Pictures was able to complete its April 3 tentpole, Furious 7, following star Paul Walker’s death in a November 2013 car accident about halfway through the shoot. Beyond saying that brothers Cody and Caleb stood in for Walker and that director James Wan culled footage of Walker from the earlier films, Universal declines to discuss which tricks were employed to breathe life into Walker’s character. But sources say Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital was asked to complete the sensitive and arduous task of reanimating Walker for Furious 7, and its cutting-edge work points toward a future where most actors can be re-created seam­lessly if needed. (The company declined to com­ment on its specific contributions.)

Read on in the Hollywood Reporter for additional examples of Hollywood reanimating deceased actors. One man who wouldn’t be at all surprised at these techniques is the late Arthur C. Clarke, as we’ll explore right after the digital page break.

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Answering the Important Questions

March 24th, 2015 - 3:04 pm

Who’s that hot ad girl?

“It’s like Snopes.com. But for the hot girls in commercials!”, Jonathan Last of the Weekly Standard writes. “Incredibly problematic, of course. That should go without saying,” he adds. “But also, kind of awesome.”

You might want to research those opinions yourself, in depth.

The Cult of Hillary

March 9th, 2015 - 12:33 pm

“As recently as 1992, the Democratic nominee could be the little-known governor of a tiny state, but today only celebrities need apply. The party of government can’t very well make the case, as Republicans might, that their leader is simply the more competent manager of bureaucratic institutions. Democrats have to make the very idea of governance romantic, transformational, inspirational, even millennial,” Kyle Smith writes in the New York Post in “The cult of Hillary: Dems stumble unquestioningly into 2016:”

The real reason Hillary commands such tribal loyalty is that she is, apart from the non-candidate Elizabeth Warren, the only political “celebrity” available, and Democrats are obsessed with star quality. Republicans are currently debating the merits of competent, proven leaders like Scott Walker, John Kasich and Mike Pence, who stand little to no chance of being recognized by the average waitress, much less attracting adoring throngs when they walk down the street.

As Moe Lane notes at Red State, “The Democrats are now noticing that they ate all their seed corn:”

This is an entertaining bit of not-quite-contained panic:

…Hillary Clinton towers over the putative Democratic field as no non-incumbent party candidate has in recent memory, leading every rival by 40 points or more.

In 1988, Bob Dole was available for Republicans who didn’t fancy George Bush Snr. And if they didn’t want George Jnr in 2000, there was JohnMcCain. Ditto on the Democratic side. Al Gore from the outset was heavy favourite, but Bill Bradley, senator from New Jersey, gave him a decent run for his money. But in 2016, it’s Hillary or nothing for Democrats – and that’s why the fuss over the emails sends shivers down their spine.

Never has a party been so invested in a single candidate.

Admittedly, it’s from the UK Independent; hence, my use of the word ‘panic.’ This is, of course, not a new problem for the Democrats (although they hadn’t realized that there was a problem until quite recently).  But the reason why I’m bringing it up this time is that all of this is due to a lot of patient, careful effort in federal and state races across the country, from 2009 onward.  The Democratic cupboard is bare because the Republican grassroots decided to empty it ahead of time. The numerous state legislative and gubernatorial advances we’ve seen since then are a direct result of our strategy.

Plus note this conclusion from Smith:

If there is one ship’s captain Hillary does resemble it’s the skipper of the Apollo, the converted troop transport that puttered around the Mediterranean in the 1970s. At the helm, L. Ron Hubbard demanded total unthinking allegiance, treated his bedazzled Scientology followers more harshly than an admiral treats the lowliest swabby and punished real or perceived infractions without mercy.

But don’t take my word for it: Even David Axelrod has noticed the scary zealotry of the Church of Hillarology.

“There’s this cult of personality growing up [around her], and that’s dangerous,” Axelrod has said. “She’s going to have to correct that when she’s a candidate.”

“Correct that”? When she’s a candidate she is going to positively revel in it.

But a cult of personality requires distance and a bit of mystery and intrigue to sustain — as Virginia Postrel wrote in her 2013 book, The Power of Glamour. That’s one reason why Democrats running for president initially tend to be relatively unknown in the public sphere, making it far easier to bathe them in the glowing, mythic light of change and shape their image to suit the (often media manufactured) crisis of the day. Hillary’s star power is built around somebody who’s been on TV near continuously since 1992.

And despite claims from her acolytes (shortly before her missing email scandal began) that Hillary “has enlisted a Coca-Cola marketing whiz to help brand her expected presidential campaign,” so far, her team just can’t quite seem to get the details right. The Obama iconography — the fascistic “Hope” poster, the O-shaped red, white & blue merging into a sunrise logo, the (anti-Hillary) 1984 mash-up video, this is powerful Madison Avenue meets Mussolini stuff. Of course, it would eventually become camp by the summer of 2008 — the infamous Styrofoam columns, and then kitsch, by the time the Obama action figure rolled off the assembly line. But good luck marketing that last item with Hillary’s visage, as this hilarious video at Power Line illustrates. And that “Ready for Hillary” logo? I doubt the ghosts of Saul Bass and Raymond Loewy are losing much sleep over this example of commercial design.

And then there was yesterday’s gaffe-tastic misstep:

Update: “Carville to MSNBC: Let’s face it, you and the Times are in the tank for the right on this Hillary e-mail thing,” Allahpundit writes at Hot Air, noting “the mega-shillery for Hillary by Davis, Carville, and Brock:”

Don’t the Clintons have any Democrats willing to carry their water who aren’t retreads from 20 years ago? One of the reasons the media’s losing patience with them is that they’ve been hearing the same crap from these same three guys literally for decades. Surely there must be someone who wasn’t in politics in the 1990s who’s equally willing to fall on a grenade for Hillary. Note to Team Clinton: If you don’t want Hillary being called “old news,” find some surrogates who aren’t themselves old news.

Who’s up for another decade of quality TV time with Bill and Hillary and their screaming sclerotic media surrogates? Feel the excitement! Live the grooming tips!


Good news! “KFC Now Has A Coffee Cup You Can Eat,” reports BuzzFeed (who better to break this story?) Bad news — it’s only available in England right now:

This edible coffee cup was invented in a partnership with food scientists at The Robin Collective to coincide with the launch of KFC’s Seattle’s Best Coffee across its UK branches. The cup itself is made of biscuit, which has been wrapped in sugar paper and then lined with a layer of white chocolate, which melts over time, softening the biscuit enough to melt in your mouth.

On top of that delicious blend, a spokesperson for The Robin Collective told the Telegraph that the cups are also infused with a selection of “mood improving aromas,” like ‘coconut sun cream,’ ‘freshly cut grass’ and ‘wild flowers,’ which “evoke the positive memories we associate with warm weather, sunshine and summer holidays.”

Of course it does. The only charitable explanation given the involvement of companies with the names Kentucky Fried Chicken and Seattle’s Best Coffee is that perhaps they’re merely working out the product’s kinks out of town before it debuts in America. I will be charitable and assume that’s the case.

Because America is waiting, as David Byrne and Brian Eno would say.

Fear and Loathing at the Nanny Bowl

February 2nd, 2015 - 11:01 am


What were they thinking last night?

After then-NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle invented the Super Bowl in the mid-1960s, the contours of the game slowly evolved over the years: the games themselves were often blow-outs (QED, such snooze fests as Super Bowl XX with the Bears and Patriots, and Super Bowl XXVII with the Cowboys and Bills), but the ads were lots of fun. With first cable and then the World Wide Web increasingly fracturing mass media, the Super Bowl is the only national sports event decided in one night; and outside of presidential elections, the one recurring media event an increasingly fractured America still shares. So starting with one of the first Super Bowl-only ads, the legendary Ridley Scott-directed 1984-inspired Apple advertisement to launch the Macintosh, Madison Avenue ad reps began to use the platform to have fun. Ad reps created brilliant demo reels for themselves, and buzz for the clients’ products, which sometimes, with a little luck, even translated into increased sales.

That formula began to grate a bit in the postmodern naughts, as a formula began to evolve that featured men as the butts of jokes, part of a larger trend in the media overculture that Glenn Reynolds and others were first commenting on well over a decade ago. But those seem like pretty carefree days compared to what we witnessed last night.

Despite having two of the least-liked teams in the NFL, the game itself on the field was quite watchable, the fourth quarter as good as any in the Super Bowl, with a nail-biting final two minutes, culminating in “The worst play call in Super Bowl history” by Pete Carroll, who will soon be hiring Michael Moore and Oliver Stone to determine why the play really failed. Thank God the on-field action was so compelling, because the ads were so unpalatable. By my rough count, there were at least two ads featuring people with no legs, one with a missing father, one with misogynistic anti-male crack from comedienne Sarah Silverman, and one ad bullying a ten year old boy because he said someone “plays like a girl.” (The horror.) And perhaps most infamously based on comments on Twitter and even the London Daily Mail, one dead ten year old boy, thanks to Nationwide. (And if you don’t approve of this understandable media gruel, you’re an Internet “hater” — says Coca-Cola?)

What were their ad reps thinking last night?

A friend of mine watching the game at my house last night, a fellow member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy bivouacked behind enemy lines in Deep Blue Socialist California, dubbed it “The Nanny Bowl.” He’s definitely on to something. As journalist Kevin P. Craver tweeted to me last night, “I fell into an alternate universe in which the party that loses the November election gets to write the Super Bowl ads.”

Rush Limbaugh has been talking for years about how hard the left has been trying to undermine football. Between the thuggish players making regular appearances on the crime blotter and domestic violence counseling sessions, Tom Brady pimping “Earth Hour” Al Gore-style from his zillion dollar mansion, the rumors of cheating by the Pats, the on-screen politicized halftime rants by Bob Costas and other socialist justice warriors, the veteran players who’ve transformed themselves into victims, and the offseason psychodramas of the SJW print sportswriters, the train wrecks are no longer reserved for the on-field collisions, but now overshadow the game itself.

I’m hoping last night was as much of a one-off anomaly, sort of the like the 2000 Super Bowl loaded with dot.com related ads just as the first iteration of the World Web was about to go bust later that year and the next. Last year, the New York Times, house organ of the SJWs, asked, “Is It Immoral to Watch the Super Bowl?” Perhaps with that sentiment in mind, the SJWs may have finally found a way to kill interest in the NFL, by making its final game of the season utterly unwatchable.

If such ads also wreck the reputations, and hence the sales of the companies who paid for them, hey, so much the better from their perspective.

Update: “Warren Sapp Arrested For Soliciting Prostitute” this morning, according to TMZ. “Sapp was in Phoenix covering the Super Bowl for the NFL Network.”

And you thought your hangover was bad today.

More: “Over 17 Thousand People Want NBC’s NASCAR Commercial Pulled” over its joke regarding gluten. (Insert nanny state scold Sandra Fluke tut-tutting “That’s Not Funny” here. Not to mention the clip of the Jimmy Kimmel Show asking its core bobo viewers, “What is Gluten?”)  But the ad features actor Nick Offerman playing his Ron Swanson character from the NBC series Parks & Recreation, a character specifically designed to mock conservatives and libertarians, in much the same fashion that actor Stephen Colbert was playing a character parodying Fox News host Bill O’Reilly. So it’s fun indeed to watch NBC be devoured by the PC left it spent the last 20 years courting.

Besides, why is global warming-obsessed NBC in bed with NASCAR anyhow? Don’t they know, as their own deep thinking leftwing philosopher Chris Hayes noted in 2013, such a sponsorship is equivalent to slavery?

Related: “The modern left’s ideology is one big Nationwide ad. Submit to our practices or your kids will die. Only our mandated health insurance will treat your Bain cancer or protect you from global warming,” Stephen Miller writes at his Wilderness blog on last night’s debacle. At least during the Depression, Hollywood and Madison Avenue managed to be cheerful when dishing out the pro-Democrat propaganda.

Meanwhile at MSNBC, “Lefty Sports Reporter Calls NFL ‘Brain Damage For Profit,’” as spotted by NewsBusters. Unlike Fox News and to a lesser extent CNN, since MSNBC rarely has a guest on whose opinion differs from the host interviewing him, it can be safely assumed that Melissa Harris-Perry agrees with her guest. As with Hayes and NASCAR, what’s stopping her from putting her money where her guest’s mouth is, and marching down the hall to the Comcast boardroom and demanding that (a) NBC immediately cancel Sunday Night Football and (b) Comcast no longer show any football — pro, college or high school? C’mon MSNBC, show some spine — stick it to the man!

The Abolition of Private Life

January 22nd, 2015 - 12:01 pm

As Kevin D. Williamson writes on this year’s current crop of nihilistic protestors, “They’re coming for your Denver omelet.” And your highway, and your business:

Sensible people would tell these pathetic bullies to mind their own business, but minding your business — and Google’s business — is literally Jesse Jackson’s business. (Literally, Mr. Vice President.) It’s what he does and how he eats. And it’s the Left’s best growth industry: Build nothing, create nothing, nurture nothing, and then shut down I-93 until you get your way, whether that means money in pocket, which is what the Castro protesters and Jesse Jackson are after, or whether that simply means luxuriating in the addictive pleasure of moral preening, which is what idiot white college kids in New York are after. The latter requires an audience, thus the Occupy a Denver Omelet movement.

What’s hilarious is that the protesters themselves are getting a lesson in why private life matters. When an enterprising WBZ-TV reporter, Ken MacLeod, started tracking down the Boston protesters who shut down the freeway and found them at their homes — often their parents’ homes, mansions in Brookline — he was accused of “harassment,” told “I need you to leave our property immediately,” etc. Which is to say, the protesters, having inserted themselves into public affairs, wished to enjoy the courtesy that they refused to extend to those who hadn’t inserted themselves into public affairs. When it comes to dopey Trustafarians, there’s more that’s tangled than their hair.

Speaking of protests and food, as Ace’s co-blogger Drew McCoy tweets, “awful but necessary,” linking to this Denver Eater (a spinoff publication of far left Vox.com, alas) article titled “Cake Shop Faces Legal Action For Refusing to Make Anti LGBT Cake:”

The man came in and began ordering a cake. After he found an image of a Bible-shaped cake to his liking, he showed the bakery employees the message he wanted displayed on the cake, the gist of which is hateful toward the gay community. Uncomfortable with the incident, owner Marjorie Silva offered to make the Bible-shaped cake and sell to the customer a decorating bag so he can complete whatever message he wanted himself. He immediately threatened legal action and left. He returned twice and had to be “excused” by the owner’s brother the last time. The man filed a discrimination complaint Colorado’s Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA).

In a nation of over 300 million people that doesn’t lack for bakeries, in a simpler time, one would simply shop for the baker who would be happy to print whatever message the customer wants. Who wants to buy a custom-made product obviously made under duress? Especially food — who’d want to risk eating a cake made in protest after it was complete? But if one group is legally forced to create products against their wishes, it’s understandable that they’d want to use the left’s Saul Alinsky-inspired tactics for a little pushback. After all, as Ol’ Saul said nearly half a century ago, “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” Evidently he didn’t realize how quickly the far left would emerge as the default bourgeois class in many parts of America, and conversely, religious conservatives the radical fringe position, at least as far as the law is concerned. Speaking of which, there are still more cakes waiting to be baked in the bakery wars:


Just print up a Charlie Hebdo cover, ask for it on the cake, and tell ‘em your having a “Stand With Charlie” party. Though you might want to rent a P.O. box first so as not to give out your home address…

Which brings us back to the conclusion of Kevin D. Williamson’s article:

During the Civil Rights Movement — the real one, not the ersatz one led today by Jesse Jackson et al. — politics did genuinely intersect with brunch. On one side of the issue were people who argued that the social situation of African Americans at the time was so dire and so oppressive that invasive federal action was necessary. On the other side were well-intentioned conservatives such as Barry Goldwater and any number of writers for this magazine, who argued that if the reach of Washington were extended into every mom-and-pop diner in the country, it would constitute a step toward the abolition of private life, that the natural and inevitable extension of the principle at work would ensure that rather than being treated as private property, businesses reclassified as “public accommodations” would be treated more like public property, that the greasy snout of politics eventually would stick itself into every last precinct of what had been considered the sphere of privacy beyond the public sector.

As it turns out, both sides were right.

Or to put it another way, as one approaches peak socialism, increasingly, “The only person who is still a private individual..is somebody who is asleep,” to coin a phrase.

More Good News from the Times

January 6th, 2015 - 6:02 pm

The Times, which over the years has railed against air conditioning, refrigeration, toilet paper, consumerism, brunch, the automobile, and the entire Midwest should be pretty thrilled about an increasing amount of American acreage returning to their feral state, right?

Besides, less malls means more room for golf courses, right?

Update: Forget malls. “Why do liberals hate highways?”

It’s a safe bet that the further to the left a city or state is, the more it punishes motorists. (See also: Manhattan, Seattle, California, etc.)

“Hey GQ, can’t find any crazy Democrats? Here are 16,” courtesy of Kyle Smith of the New York Post, and frequent PJM contributor:

In a survey of the “Craziest Politicians of 2014,” GQ had difficulty locating any Democrats. Seventeen out of 20 on the list were Republicans, with the only liberals being Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson and America’s reigning nabob of nuttiness, Joe Biden.

In a note appended to the story, GQ defensively said it wasn’t guilty of “standard liberal-media bias,” it just couldn’t find any loony Democrats to speak of.

Let’s give GQ a little help, shall we? Here are 16 more Democrats for the list of the most cra-cra political figures.

In addition to the assortment of leftwing lunatics that Kyle spots, if Conde Nast-published GQ was actually serious about finding crazy Democrats, it need only venture down the halls of its parent company’s office at One World Trade Center:

Yes, it’s Anna Wintour, maximum editrix of GQ’s sister publication Vogue, definitive One Percenter, winner of our first Duranty Award for her love of Syrian totalitarian Asma al-Assad, that “Rose in the Desert,” as Wintour’s magazine dubbed her, and terrorizer of her staff, as can be seen in the must-see 2008 documentary, The September Issue. And as Rush noted in response to Wintour’s exquisitely tone-deaf 2012 campaign ad for Mr. Obama spotlighted in the above clip:

WINTOUR:  These two wonderful women and I are hosting a dinner, along with the president, in New York City to benefit the Obama campaign on June the 14th.  It will be a fantastic evening, and you can join us.  We’re saving the two best seats for you, but you have to enter to win.  You can enter right now by going to BarackObama.com/NewYorkNight.  Sarah Jessica and I both have our own reasons for supporting President Obama, and we want to hear yours, so please join us.

RUSH:  Right.

WINTOUR:  But just don’t be late.

RUSH:  Two of you.  Two of you who Anna Wintour wouldn’t give the time of day to if she saw you on the street. In fact, you’d get fired if you looked at her. She’d send the cops after you if you looked at her.  She’s not on the street.  She leaves the building, gets in the car, goes where she’s going. This is such a divorce from reality.  So they’re having this big dinner party for you, two people.  You go to this website, you register, you make a donation, you could get chosen to have dinner so that Obama and Michelle and Anna Wintour and Sarah Jessica Parker can find out what you think.  (interruption) All right, all right, all right, I’m glad you did this.

The staff on the other side of the glass are telling me they don’t know who Anna Wintour is.  They know who Anna Wintour is.  You’re telling me you don’t know who she is?  Well, that picture, I mean she looks like the Beatles out of the sixties, Helmet Head, little Bobby. You really don’t know who she is?  Well, now, I’m a little embarrassed that I do, then.  She’s the editor of Vogue magazine.  Well, that’s why I said it’s a magazine for elites.  It’s a fashion magazine.  Very few people actually read it.  It’s one of these things, the right people read it.  But I guarantee you, whoever’s gonna end up having dinner at her house, this whole thing is a fraud.  Anna Wintour doesn’t want to meet these people.  She’s not interested in what they think.  Neither is Obama or Michelle or Sarah Jessica.

Not a coincidence that David Letterman’s band played “Here Come the Sun King” during this tense segment in 2009 of Wintour plugging The September Issue:

In Soviet America, Bourgeois Shocks You!

October 27th, 2014 - 3:48 pm

Having just come back from a routine Kaiser visit in the Bay Area, in which I was greeted by a chubby distaff receptionist with more tattoos on her arms than Brian Setzer and multiple facial piercings, this recent post by David Thompson on the rapidly growing demand for surgical procedures to remove such disastrous life choices as large visible tattoos and enormous “flesh tunnel” stretched ear lobes certainly hits home:

And this chap here, he’s upset too:

Until you know that person, you have no right to criticise, judge or alter the life chances for them. Those who make decisions about the future of others based only on appearance, are themselves the shallowest of people, and do not deserve to have such a position of influence.

You see, he should be free to deform his anatomy into eye-catchingly unattractive shapes, thereby announcing his heroic radicalism and disdain for bourgeois norms, entirely without consequence. But you mustn’t be free to run your business without him, regardless of whatever message he’s chosen to send via the medium of disfigured earlobes. No bad decision that he makes must ever “alter his life chances” because… well, obviously, it’s all your fault.

But it works both ways: if you’re going to visibly mutilate yourself for the purpose of what the French dubbed épater le bourgeois almost a century and a half ago, you’ve explicitly removed yourself from societal norms by thumbing — and/or piercing — your nose at them. Phrases such as “not judging a book by its cover,” courtesy, and tolerance towards diversity are also all commonly held bourgeois values, which you’ve renounced with a bullhorn. Why shouldn’t you expect society to return the favor?

In “The Media Bubble, Redskins Edition,” Sonny Bunch of the Washington Free Beacon squares the circle:

And, as I’ve noted here, there is a growing annoyance with the entertainment press—sports, film, video game writers—for being not only out of step with their readership but also frequently ignoring their subjects altogether in favor of opining on topics that are either implicitly or explicitly political in nature. I remain convinced that roughly 80 percent of the angst over #GamerGate relates to a similar notion: issues of ethics aside, gamers were tired of being told how horribly sexist and racist they were for playing games and engaging with gamer culture. As a result, they finally snapped. Similarly, I get the sense that sports fans are pretty sick and tired of being lectured on issues that are either entirely unrelated to sports (say, gun control) or, at best, marginally related to sports (the level of political correctness of a team name). You can see some of that frustration in the following data points, which track the answer to the question “Should the Redskins change their name, or not”:

Sonny links to a chart that notes:

              Should        Should Not

1992         7%                 89%

2013        11%                79%

2014       14%                83%

As he concludes:

What’s fascinating to me is the fact that, despite a near-unanimous chorus from the sports media over the last 18 months or so on the evils of the Redskins brand, “should not [change the name]” is +4 from 2013 to 2014 while “should [change the name]” is only +3. Considering that “should not” already had the support of almost four in five respondents, any uptick would have been surprising. But “should not” out-gaining “should” is downright shocking, and suggests to me that Americans, by nature a reactionary lot, are just about tired of all this silliness, thanks.

I wouldn’t name a new sports team the Redskins in 2014, just as I doubt anyone would start organizations named the United Negro College Fund or the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, as all three names have been dated by time and changing linguistic attitudes. But all three names connote often proud traditions and have hugely loyal bases of support. Not to mention — aren’t there far bigger issues in the world to fixate on than the name of an organization? (Back in July, responding to the MSM’s collective Alinsky-style panty-twist over the Redskins, Dennis Prager wrote, “Those who do not confront the greatest evils will confront much lesser evils or simply manufacture alleged evils that they then confront.”) Or as John Nolte notes at Big Journalism:

1. The common sense of the American people who understand that team names are meant to be compliments, not insults. As an example, no one has named their football team “The MSNBC Jerk-Offs.”

2. The American people understand that this obsession isn’t based on principal but rather a mainstream media that is looking for a — if you’ll pardon the expression — scalp. This is a power play, a game among insufferable elites to prove to themselves they still have power with a senseless notch in the “win” column.

Which also ties this post back to Sonny Bunch’s Beacon column, which concluded with Bunch asking, “I guess the only question is this: How long until there’s a #GamerGate for sports?”

Faster, please.

Of course, another question arises at the intersection of #GamerGate and the Redskins. Both high tech and the NFL take the support of conservatives and non-leftist fans for granted, rarely if ever paying positive lip service to them, for fear of stirring up the often fatal PC hornest’s nest. (See also: firing of Firefox’s Brendan Eich for supporting traditional marriage, the NFL rejecting Rush Limbaugh from team ownership thanks in part to a falsified Wikipedia quote, and numerous other PC scalps). When will that begin to change?


Lionel Hutz Lives!

October 20th, 2014 - 3:22 pm

“Is Tito ’s Handmade Vodka really handmade? Would it taste any less good if it weren’t anymore?”

But in the summer of 2013, Forbes published “The Troubling Success Of Tito’s Handmade Vodka.” As its author Meghan Casserly explains, “Tito’s has exploded from a 16-gallon pot still in 1997 to a 26-acre operation that produced 850,000 cases last year, up 46 percent from 2011, pulling in an estimated $85 million in revenue.” She also describes “massive buildings containing ten floor-to-ceiling stills and bottling 500 cases an hour.”

So it was inevitable: On Sept. 15, lawyers representing Gary Hofmann in California filed a class-action lawsuit, alleging that Tito’s “manufactured, marketed, and/or sold . . . ‘Tito’s Handmade’ Vodka to the California general public with the false representation that the Vodka was ‘handmade’ when, in actuality, the Vodka is made via a highly-mechanized process that is devoid of human hands.”

This is why Americans can’t have nice things. Or as Lionel Hutz told Homer when the notorious cartoon trencherman was kicked out of an all-you-can-eat restaurant for taking them at their word, “Mr. Simpson, this is the most blatant case of false advertising since my suit against the movie The Neverending Story!”

Backward Ran the Progress, Until Reeled the Mind

October 20th, 2014 - 10:52 am

High art, circa 1622:

High art, circa 2014:

As someone joked in response on Twitter, “You misspelled that last word.”

Heh. Naturally, if you’re offended, the artist says it’s your fault:

“At first, I found the anal plug had a similar form to Brancusi’s sculptures,” he explained. “Afterwards, I realized it resembled a Christmas tree, but it is an abstract work. People can be offended if they want to think of it as a plug, but for me it is more of an abstraction.”

How retrogressive and reactionary.

And in the process of running a 1000-word article titled “Brunch Is for Jerks,” demonstrates that everyone at the Gray Lady has far too much time on their hands:

For me, having a child — and perhaps the introspection that comes with turning 40 — made me realize what most vexes me about brunch: Once the domain of Easter Sunday, it has become a twice-weekly symbol of our culture’s increasing desire to reject adulthood. It’s about throwing out not only the established schedule but also the social conventions of our parents’ generation. It’s about reveling in the naughtiness of waking up late, having cocktails at breakfast and eggs all day. It’s the mealtime equivalent of a Jeff Koons sculpture.

In neighborhoods like mine, where everyone seems to be from somewhere else, people are increasingly alienated from their extended and nuclear families.

Families? Oh, you mean those people whom prominent Timesman David Carr would dub “The Dance of the Low-Sloping Foreheads,” and whom Times columnist Ta-Nehisi Coates would consider racist. I bet they consume far too much air conditioning, refrigeration and toilet paper, to boot.

“Alas, the time of the most despicable man is coming,” Friedrich Nietzsche warned in 1885′s Also sprach Zarathustra, “he that is no longer able to despise himself. Behold, I show you the last man.”

His source was the New York Times. 

Related: “An old friend with little use for it describes the Hive as, ‘Hell with good restaurants.’”

—Former PJM editor Gerard Van der Leun on why he left New York, found via Maggie’s Farm.


I’ve looked at corporatism from both sides now.

Corporatism is the socialist fusion of Big Government and Big Business, working strong-arm and arm, one mode clearing a path for the other, and neither side losing much sleep over what the customer wants, until the preference cascade kicks in and begins to snowball, and everyone eventually wakes up to reality with a raging hangover. In its pre-breakup day, think of Lily Tomlin’s Ernestine the Bell Telephone operator smugly blustering, “We don’t care. We don’t have to. We’re the Phone Company.” Or today, the handlers of Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Barack and Michelle Obama screwing journalists. Or the disastrous late period products of General Motors, even before they became for several years under the Obama administration, Government Motors.

The Pontiac Aztek, in production at GM from 2001 and 2005, was sort of the equivalent of East Germany’s Trabant — both cars were designed by committee and were so bad they became goofy pop culture icons (the Trabant via the rock group U2, the Aztek via Breaking Bad). In a series of vignettes at Car & Driver, Bob Lutz, the chairman of GM during the period when it hit all the icebergs and sank into the abyss of Government Motors explains how the disastrous Aztek came to be:

I kind of got hired [as GM's vice chairman of product development] because of the Aztek. I was getting an award, and [then-GM chairman] Rick Wagoner introduced me and took a couple of funny digs. When I gave my speech, I said, “It’s curious that the man who oversaw the Aztek would comment on my failures.” It brought the house down. When I apologized later, he said, “Ah, I was expecting it. We’re disappointed in the Aztek. I’d enjoy hearing what you think we’re doing wrong.” After three conversations, he offered me a job.

* * * * * * *

A bad car happens in stages. The Aztek concept car was a much leaner vehicle. Decent proportions. It got everybody excited. At the time, GM was criticized for never doing anything new, never taking a chance. So Wagoner and the automotive strategy board decreed that henceforth, 40 percent of all new GM products would be “innovative.” That started a trend toward setting internal goals that meant nothing to the customer. Everything that looked reasonably radical got green-lit.

* * * * * * *

These things require a culture of complete acquiescence and intimidation, led by a strong dictatorial individual who wants it that way.

* * * * * * *

The guy in charge of product development was Don Hackworth, an old-school guy from the tradition of shouts, browbeating, and by-God-I-want-it-done. He said, “Look. We’ve all made up our minds that the Aztek is gonna be a winner. It’s gonna astound the world. I don’t want any negative comments about this vehicle. None. Anybody who has bad opinions about it, I want them off the team.” As if the public is gonna give a sh** about team spirit. Obviously, the industry is trying to get away from that approach.

That last paragraph is highly indicative of the other side of corporatism, isn’t it? As Megan McArdle wrote last November (ironically at Bloomberg.com, the “unexpectedly!” Website that often serves as a corporatism cheerleader for the Obama administration) during the rollout of Obamacare, the Pontiac Aztek of health insurance:

When the tech geeks raised concerns about their ability to deliver the website on time, they are reported to have been told “Failure is not an option.” Unfortunately, this is what happens when you say “failure is not an option”: You don’t develop backup plans, which means that your failure may turn into a disaster.

In the years before it became Government Motors, while its unions were busy devouring their host, GM was dubbed “a health-care provider that makes cars as an industrial by-product.” No wonder it and the equally feckless Obama administration were made for each other.

Making Sense of #GamerGate

October 2nd, 2014 - 1:00 pm

“I’m a political writer and I don’t pretend to be more than a casual gamer,” Ashten Whited writes at Pocket Full of Liberty, which puts her one up on me. As I’ve said before, I largely retired from videogames when I unplugged my ColecoVision — there are only so many hours in the day. (Though I do have a product review up at the PJ Lifestyle blog this week that hints at the hobby that I also use my computer for.)

“However, I find GamerGate remarkable. I know people express antipathy to bringing politics into GamerGate, and I don’t seek to hijack it, but hear me out: GamerGate is already about politics,” Whited notes. Which is true — the left views everything through a political lens; after all, it’s been their stated opinion for decades that “the personal is political” (is personal, to complete the Mobius loop):

’Gamers’ are over,” social justice charioteer Leigh Alexander pronounced smugly.

Mainstream videogames do not cater to feminists’ tastes. That does not mean that women are being “marginalized,” it means they are not the target consumer demographic, as they freely admit when they declare male-oriented games unappealing. Despite this, gamers placate feminists like Anita Sarkeesian who hold gaming culture in disdain and view escapism that is male in nature, such as Call of Duty or rescuing Princess Peach, as a problem that must be eliminated under their magnanimous direction. Feminists especially hold male sexuality in contempt, and are fussily ruffled by voluptuous, pixelated vixens that titillate the “male gaze.”

Radical (read: contemporary) feminists define the problem as men. Thus fantasies of male heroism are slated to be wiped from public consumption. Male chivalry is dead; women are the new white knights. Today’s third wave feminists (or “Third Wave Frustrationists,” as cleverly coined by Milo Yiannopoulos) kvetch the tired refrain, “Feminism is about equality!” It is a transparent Trojan Horse. These feminists are intolerant of masculinity, and their movement is about having power over men. They do not recognize healthy interdependence between the sexes, instead seeing a power struggle. They seek to feminize men and in doing so, masculinize themselves— and they are succeeding, through targeting boys. In public schools, boys are falling increasingly behind in performance, according to scholar Christina Hoff Sommers. In psychiatrists’ offices, young boys are overdiagnosed with ADHD and autism and are “medicated” for being “rambunctious” (i.e. behaviorally modified to fit the prevailing PC norm for how little boys should behave). This ideology is about subjugation, through wheedling, subtle manipulation and emotionally blackmailing rhetoric like “if you’re not a feminist, you’re a misogynist.”

In short, feminism in the West has assumed the features of an authoritarian movement.

But then authoritarianism was in the bloodstream of feminism long before Nolan Bushnell ever set paddle to Pong.

However, according to Jasyn Jones, who blogs at the tastefully named Website “Daddy Warpig’s House of Geekery” (I love it), the “’Gamers’ are over” manifesto has had some very interesting pushback:

You can read a bit of it there on the image, and the rest of it here, but it said (in essence) “Gamers are dead, and good riddance!” After all, gamers are “obtuse shitslingers” whose “only main [sic] cultural signposts” are “Have money. Have women. Get a gun and then a bigger gun.” In short, abuse. And pretty vitriolic and one-sided abuse.

And that same day, in a coincidence so outrageous it staggers the imagination, this happened:

Click over to Jones’ post to see a fascinating example of what appears to be Journolist-style collusion behind the scenes to advance the “gamers are over” narrative, which dovetails into Milo Yiannopoulos’ series of posts at Breitbart London on the videogame journalism industry’s own Journolist scandal. Followed by the aforementioned Leigh Alexander personally insulting her readers on Twitter. As Jones writes, “This isn’t just insulting your customers wholesale, it’s insulting them retail. Personally. One by one. In alphabetical order, for all I know:”

The odd thing is, most gaming media figures have joined her. But there’s a problem, and it’s one I can’t solve: what’s their end game? What do they think they’re accomplishing by insulting the people who provide them with paychecks?

As I see it:

Attack customers -> they leave. No customers, no clicks. No clicks, no ads. No ads, no money. No money, no site.

Is it really all that complicated? You don’t punch your customers in the face repeatedly, and expect them to remain your customers. Doing so anyway is a recipe for bankruptcy. (And is sheer lunacy.)

See also: implosion of MSM organizations that go full-on into social justice warrior mode and insult their customers. By the time the Washington Post was sold to Jeff Bezos last year, as John Nolte noted at Big Journalism, it had lost 87 percent of its value from the prior decade. (Along similar lines, Mark Steyn compared Bezos $250 million acquisition fee last year of one of the most legendary newspapers in the world to the much less influential Worcester Telegram & Gazette in Massachusetts being sold in 1999 for $295 million.) Prior to Bezos’ acquisition, the Post famously unloaded Newsweek for a dollar after its foray into hard left politics caused it to shed most of its readership.

Similarly, the New York Times has been hemorrhaging money since the Howell Raines era; arguably, only Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim’s financial backing has allowed the Sulzberger family to maintain ownership, but only at the cost of cutting 7.5 percent of its staff (on top of other employee cuts in recent years). And as we noted last night, MSNBC is getting their clocks cleaned in the ratings department; “MSNBC: Best Demo Night In Two Weeks Is ‘Lockup’ Marathon,” Big Journalism reported on Monday.

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News You Can Use

October 1st, 2014 - 6:37 pm

“Do you drink a glass of wine with dinner every night? That puts you in the top 30 percent of American adults in terms of per-capita alcohol consumption. If you drink two glasses, that would put you in the top 20 percent,” according to the Washington Post, which sounds like it might be headed into JuiceVox territory, despite Jeff Bezos’ best efforts:

But in order to break into the top 10 percent of American drinkers, you would need to drink more than two bottles of wine with every dinner. And you’d still be below-average among those top 10 percenters.

The top 10 percent of American drinkers — 24 million adults over age 18 — consume, on average, 74 alcoholic drinks per week. That works out to a little more than four-and-a-half 750 ml bottles of Jack Daniels, 18 bottles of wine, or three 24-can cases of beer. In one week.

Or, if you prefer, 10 drinks per day.

Steve Green and his titanium-coated liver really need to up their game.

(Via Maggie’s Farm.)

And Now a Word From Our Sponsor

September 26th, 2014 - 5:56 pm

Believe it or not, I watched this commercial while wearing a pair of Sennheiser earphones – the HD 280 Pro model which I’ve owned for years and use for recording, not the swinging Teutonic reprobate “Urbanite” pictured above.

Even so, I think I need a shower.

(Via AoS.)

Asking the Important Questions

September 16th, 2014 - 11:55 am

Are video games sexist? Christina Hoff Sommers takes on the social[ist] justice warriors who, as she says, “wants the male video game culture to die.” It’s also a good introduction to #Gamergate, if you’re still trying to make sense of it all.

Of course, as we’ve noted in our previous post on the topic of #Gamergate, what’s going on the video game journalism industry is the same thing that’s going on in every facet of journalism, where objectivity is discarded and replaced with open leftwing advocacy and “concernocrats,” aka “hipsters with degrees in cultural studies.”

Related: “It didn’t used to be this way. ESPN used to be a sports network that covered sports and wasn’t a delivery system for the social and political message of the day. But, that’s what it’s become.”

Because  the left sees the need to begin “reprogramming the way we raise men.”

Oh swell, time for the left to create their latest model of “The New Man.” What could go wrong?