Friday, February 20, 2004

CUT IT OUT: We interrupt our regular Dead Wrestler of the Month feature for something far more pathetic, if that's possible. Uncle Grambo, this one's for you.

Remeber 1980s WWF star Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake, host of "The Barbershop" and notorious for asphyxiating his opponents, then cutting off their hair? Have you wondered what happened to him?

Last week, the Boston Herald caught up with him, more or less, in a manner of speaking:
Beefcake - these days Edward Leslie, 46, of Winchester - voluntarily checked into a treatment program Monday, according to a source, after cocaine he admitted was his created an anthrax scare at the MBTA's Downtown Crossing subway station.

Sources said the man who acquired his stage name for hacking off the hair of his enemies in the ring had been working there part time as a fare collector - a job that pays $25,000 a year. . . .

The MBTA confirmed yesterday they have an employee named Edward Leslie, but would not say if he was the one they suspended without pay after cocaine turned up Sunday afternoon on the counter of a Downtown Crossing fare booth, prompting an emergency hazmat response.

Although the subway station was evacuated, MBTA Deputy Police Chief Thomas McCarthy said the fare collector - who he also would not identify - spared commuters further inconvenience by coming clean and dispelling terrorism fears.

At least there's still one former wrestler we can still look up to.
IF YOU SPELL MY NAME WRONG, I'D REALLY APPRECIATE IT: The best article I've read all week? The NYT's Howard Kaplan introduces us to a reluctant Ira Glustein, a shatnes tester in his late fifties who has never, ever (well, almost) eaten in a restaurant in his life.

But why?
"It was never discussed in the family," [Glustein] said. "No one spoke about it. But it was an obvious thing not to do. I guess the reason is -- and I feel this way very strongly myself: Let's say you walked in one end and you had to eat on the other end and there were people at every single table and you walked until you got to your spot.

"What do you do along the way? Are you only going to look at the floor, the ceiling, the wall, or people's faces? Obviously you would peer into other people's plates. Just a quick glance. But if someone sets his eyes on my plate, I can't eat it anymore. Therefore I'm going to stay out of public eating."

Hey, that's just one more table at Shopsin's for the rest of us.
BRING BACK OUR GIRL: First off, thanks to those of you who've visited made contributions to the Hoeffel for Senate campaign over the past few days or even just visited the website. The poll numbers are good, and the time between now and November will be full of excitement.

I hadn't updated the blog until now because, quite frankly, making a direct transition from blogging about Glorious Senate Campaign to Man, Can You Believe That Fox Dating Show With The Little People? felt a little abrupt.

So, instead, let's just note a few items, and then normal blogging will resume soon enough.
ITEM! Let's face it -- despite an historically bad group of eight on American Idol this week, we nevertheless are living in a golden season for reality tv. Between Top Model's imminent Camille expulsion (with a likely final showdown between Yoanna and April), The Apprentice's and Survivor's weekly backstabbing and Average Joe 2's . . . okay, total guilty pleasure, and it's a dumb show, but still a pleasure, well, we live in interesting times. And that's leaving out all the stuff I'm not watching that others are, like Newlyweds, Surreal Life and The Bachelorette.

And even better: Nashville Star 2 debuts March 6.

ITEM! All hail the TiVolator!

ITEM! We (and Matt) called it weeks ago: The Hollywood Apprentice is coming.

ITEM! Let me make my prediction: Carrie doesn't choose Aleksander, who is in many ways her mirror image -- narcissistic, the hub of a large social network outsiders could hardly penetrate, speaking a cultural language difficult to decipher and, did I mention, narcissistic?

But she can't choose Big either. If the series wants to demonstrate that Carrie has learned anything since season one, episode one, she can't just run back into Big's arms again at the slightest hint of a possible-but-Big-is-Big-and-men-don't-change deathbed conversion to fidelity. At the very least, we don't know yet how reformed he is, if at all. Anyone can give the speech; it's harder to live it. Fact is, when Miranda commanded to Big, "Bring back our girl!", it was for the friends' sake much more than his.

So, in the cliche you've been fearing, Carrie chooses Carrie, her old life, old city, old apartment, old friends, and love will come down the road, maybe, but as long as she's got her friends, her laptop and her New York, life's okay. It's all about the sisterhood, and that's what the series has always been all about.

ITEM! Okay, with that out of my system, to The Littlest Groom, which Jen and I watched Monday night with mouths fully agape.

Now if you've been following this blog for a bit, you know that I'm not really a fan of reality dating shows. I just find them phony, because no one can really find love within the artificial cocoon of a televised dating paradise.

What these shows are really about is humiliation, about seeing people's heart's broken while we enjoy it at home -- it's that great Simpsons line where Bart says to Lisa, apropos of her dumping Ralph on the Krusty show, "Watch this, Lis. You can actually pinpoint the second when his heart rips in half" -- and the only show I've enjoyed was the one that acknowledged its own complicity and essentially trashy nature -- Joe Millionaire.

So when the humiliation is applied to a community already the butt of too many jokes, it stinks extra. For Glen Foster, the "star" of the show, this isn't the first time he's exploited his dimunitive status for personal fame -- 76ers fans remember him well as "Li'l G", the hip-hop loving midget who handed out balloons and excited the crowd along with Thugz Bunny, the official team mascot. (And, yes, I know his real name is Hip-Hop, but I like mine better.) Basically, a Mini-Me with "street attitude," and it always made me uncomfortable.

Forget about the serious tone the show ostensibly takes. It's exploitation, plain and simple. Whether or not Foster and the ladies have a right to exploit themselves for fame, we can choose not to become complicit in the exploitation by choosing not to watch. That is our right, and it's the only way to prevent FOX from going further downhill ("But what our bachelorettes don't know is . . . . he's actually homeless!").

That is, of course, unless there's nothing better on.

Monday, February 16, 2004

LEAVING LAW'S WAGES: I am thrilled to announce that last week I joined the staff of the Joe Hoeffel for U.S. Senate campaign. Our mission: defeat the Republican incumbent, Arlen Specter, who has held onto the seat for the past twenty-four years while consistently putting his own interests ahead of those of Pennsylvania's families, children and seniors. It's time for a change.

It has also been time for a change for me. For some time, I have been looking for a setting where I could take the skills I've developed as an attorney and apply them towards something that excited me more than the work which I had been doing. This campaign is that place, and I am excited to be working with such a wonderful, talented team.

This is a Democratic state -- our governor is a Democrat, our largest cities are run by Democrats, and we voted Democratic in the last three Presidential elections. It's about time our Senate delegation reflected these trends, and the polling suggests that as more voters learn who Joe Hoeffel is, we will. Arlen Specter is vulnerable, and we can beat him.

Now, that's me. What does this mean for you?

This blog will continue -- I offered to take it down, but I was told that was not necessary. However, you will see no further talk of politics from me because this campaign needs to speak with one voice. Moreover, (and in boldface, to be absolutely clear) nothing you will see on this blog in the future, and nothing that you have already seen on this blog has been authorized by or represents the views of the Joe Hoeffel for U.S. Senate campaign. Any effort to impute any views expressed here to Congressman Hoeffel or the campaign is just plain wrong.

Finally, there's something you can do here. As I've said before, the thing I most admire about the Dean campaign is the way that it encouraged people to speak through their pocketbooks, convincing people who otherwise had never given money to a political campaign that the most effective way to bolster a campaign early on was with financial contributions. Early money, as the saying goes, is like yeast -- it demonstrates the strong grassroots support behind a candidate, confirms that the race will be contested vigorously, and leads to more money coming in.

Arlen Specter already has raised a $9.2M war chest. We need one of our own. If you want to defeat Specter and send a strong, electable Pennsylvania Democrat to the Senate, please consider making a contribution to the campaign, and add $0.72 to the total so they'll know it's from my readers. No amount is too small.

Thanks for your time, and wish us luck. This is going to be a lot of fun.