Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A Laughing Matter

"I'm more of a ... strawberry swirl kind of guy, really."

The Colbert Report may be just a spin-off of a show that itself claims to have only a cult following, but they and their sister show always do a remarkable job of attracting provocative, entertaining guests for their interviews. Last night, Stephen Colbert had on disgraced and embattled ex-FEMA director Michael Brown, who proceded to deliver one of the more intriguing interviews I've ever seen from someone whose livelihood depends on success in the public sphere.

You would think that someone who has become the face of one of the greatest natural disasters in U.S. history would be in a relatively somber frame of mind these days, but Brown couldn't have come across as more relaxed. He sparred with Colbert, laughed again and again, and threw in as many of his own jokes as possible. It was as if he really didn't give a damn at all about the sequence of events that led to him losing his job and being denounced as the epitome of the heartlessness and ineptitude of the Bush administration. He did everything from joke about how he has no problem saying everything was Chertoff's fault to describe the kind of margarita he would have had in the infamous email where Brown tells another FEMA staffer that he would "rather be drinking a margarita and walking his dog than be here right now" in the middle of the Katrina relief effort.

We all got the sense that Brown did a pretty crappy job and didn't seem to care that thousands of people died on his watch, but boy, he really didn't! He might as well have been Russell Crowe sitting next to Letterman and joking about his little cell phone "mishap." The media's presentation of Brown's actions during the Katrina episode, however, weren't just a celebrity "oops"; they were a political disaster that has had major ramifications for the way Federal aid and government readiness in the face of tragedy are handled.

I don't, for one, really think that Brown was fairly skewered for his role in the Katrina disaster, and maybe this was his way of showing that he doesn't really believe he should be held up to the public scrutiny in the way he has, but this whole interview was pretty bizarre. And damn funny.

Sunday, March 26, 2006


Some quick hits from a session of lazy Sunday pontification:

I think I will never again pick BC to go deep in the NCAA tournament.

I think "Independence Day" is just one of those movies that, when it randomly comes on HBO at 11 o'clock in the morning and you start watching because nothing else is on, you really have no way to escape watching the entire thing.

I think when "50 First Dates" comes on immediately afterward, you had better find a way to escape watching the entire thing.

I think I didn't spend nearly enough time doing research for my fantasy baseball draft.

I think the arrival of baseball's Opening Day in less than 2 weeks is going to make me very, very happy.

I think that every time I go out in Adams Morgan, I feel a little bit older.

I think that as soon as Barry Bonds passes Babe Ruth on the all-time home run list, baseball is going to be in a lot of trouble.

I think I still need to be patient with the new season of the Sopranos, but I'm having difficulty seeing where they're going with all of this.

I think 7 career seasons of adult kickball is something I won't be putting on my resume.

I think that everytime Apple announces a new upgrade or version of its iPod, modern culture dies a little bit more.

I think that I'm always going to be interested in the newest version of the iPod that Apple unveils.

I think Bill Maher just might "get it" more than any other talking head in the business right now.

I think that if they were just willing to look at how every other major city in the country runs its subway operations, Metro would see just what a crappy job they're doing.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Sixteen Candles Down the Drain

Keep smiling, JJ.

By now, I've joined the legions of NCAA fans whose brackets have been shredded to pieces and can at least enjoy this weekend's games for what they are without any financial interests involved. In my case, my picks were so bad that I actually stopped looking at my bracket at the end of Round 1. In fact, I officially declared my bracket dead after Texas A&M's romp over Syracuse, whom I had confidently declared would ride the wave of a strong Big East run. Whoops.

Amazingly, I still have almost half of the Sweet Sixteen left, and all of my Final Four teams. But none of them are sleepers that could give me some unique points, meaning I have little chance to break out of the cellar, where I currently reside in both of my pools. All I have left is finding out whether BC can finally break free from the Al Skinner Effect to make it to the Final Four (as I've predicted), and how long it takes before LSU fans finally make J.J. cry.

Street Cred

There's a general feeling around here that DC is just one big college campus. Everyone is from everywhere but the current locale, the keggers are just as prolific, and "what do you do?" is the new "what is your major?" We even have the extra-curricular junkies who yell in your ear and try to stuff informational pieces of paper into your hands as you walk by them downtown. On the surface, they seem harmless enough. But getting past them is not as easy as you think.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate what the minions of Greenpeace, City Year, and the Lyndon LaRouche cult strive to accomplish in this world, but I have a few issues with their methods. The general rule of selling something to someone, be it a three-in-one blender or a utopian vision, is that people don't like to be asked directly. If you have something worth looking at, simple advertising with a sign and bullhorn should be enough. I obviously know you're there, and if I'm interested I'll come up to you. Walking up to me, blocking my path, and forcing a clipboard in front of me simply doesn't go a long way in turning me into an interested customer.

Having gone to a rather liberal college with a well-known reputation for activist go-getters, I am fortunate to have the experience necessary to deal with aggressive street pushers. Everyday on my way to the student post office, I managed to deftly weave in and out of people trying to get me to sign up for the poetry journal or buy tickets to the New Zealand interpretative dance recital. Many of these ideas were great, mind you, and I took many up on their offers -- but at my own discretion. If I weren't interested, I would swiftly shoot past them, mumbling something to myself that let them think that I wasn't quite right, and not worth of pushing the issue with.

The same strategy works equally well with the street activists of DC. If you feel bad about walking past them, a friend of mine put it this way: they're really just stepping on the turf of the homeless. They've basically adopted their tactics and are now competing with them directly for your money and attention. Do you really want to steal from their market share?

A Personal Challenge

So, this is the moment you've all been waiting for. We're up, we're live, we're ready to go. This is in response to all of you who pushed and pulled for me to finally put up a blog of my own after I stalked all of yours for months. I don't know that I'm even ready yet to put up a manifesto, but I will say that I will do my best to post as often as possible, with timely, interesting pieces on the world around me. Yes, I'm another twenty-something living in a major U.S. city who thinks he knows everything -- so basically, nothing establishes this blog as being original or unique in any way. But I'll do my best to keep you coming back for more. Maybe I'll offer some free beer or something.

My first real post coming later...