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Friday Buzzkills: Karma, it comes and goes

It’s been a week filled with comeback stories, miraculous landings, and merciful endings, and as the weekend approaches we’ve entered that final countdown toward a dawning of an era of smug good feelings. Yes, as the maestro William Joel once opined, we’re truly floating on a river of dreams—but chances are you’ve been too enraptured by our nation’s thrilling new voyage to notice that we’re still floating in the same stagnant waters infested with bottom-feeders, threatened at every turn by economic whirlpools and, um, tragic tributaries flowing into brooks babbling with nonsense. Grab hold of the oars and let’s paddle up the never-ending shit creek that is Friday Buzzkills. Don’t forget your towel.

- Strange as it sounds, not everyone got the message that we’re supposed to be all about brotherhood and bear hugs these days: Street crime still rages on, and not even increasingly irrelevant hip-hop stars are safe, as evidenced by this week’s assault and robbery on Bone Thugs-N-Harmony syllable sodomizer Bizzy Bone. The rapper with one of the saddest backgrounds in music—a history that includes being abducted and sexually abused as a child, plus a self-imposed stint of sleeping in bus stations in a quest to “find himself”—was recently jumped in L.A. by several men who saw him at the crossroads, then brutally beat and choked him before stealing his money and jewelry (most likely leaving him lonely). The sad, ironic twist in all this is that the lead suspect in the investigation is a member of the anti-gang intervention program Unity One, which was designed to reduce inner-city violence. Guess he was off the clock. Seriously, we can’t wait until Obama’s inauguration speech, when our new President finally beams a ray of pure love from his heart, Care Bear-style, and everybody’s guns and knives turn into periwinkles and marshmallows. Won’t that be nice?


- Unfortunately, Obama’s redemption song will come far too late to save his diehard fan Boy George, who made headlines last year both for reviving his singing career with the Obama-inspired single “Yes We Can” and for wrongly imprisoning Norwegian male prostitute Audun Carlsen. (For some reason, the latter story got far more play.) This week, George arrived in court sporting a massive head tattoo, presumably already prepared for the inevitable shower room showdowns he’ll have during his just handed-down 15-month jail sentence, a prison term that far exceeds the norm for the old “handcuffing a guy to a wall because you think he hacked into your computer after a cocaine-fueled photo shoot, then beating him with a chain as he flees naked into the street” oopsy that we all find ourselves in from time to time. Actually, we’re not sure if this counts as sad news or not—considering George clearly has no problem with either restraints or a little roughhousing, this might be just another long, lost weekend for him—but it was certainly a watershed moment for painfully obvious puns, as seemingly no one could resist the oh-so-clever allusions to the handful of Culture Club songs that everyone remembers: CNN went with the classic “Karma caught up with Boy George” lede, while apparently even the prosecuting attorney (“accidentally”) asked the jury of George’s assault on Carlsen, “Did he really have to hurt him?” Well played, everyone. Of course, we might have gone with “Dangerous Man, “ Crime Time, “Mistake No. 3,” or even “White Boys Can’t Control It,” but that would probably reveal too much about our record collections.

- While the length of the sentence is a tad harsh, we’ve really become so inured to the innate moral rot of fallen ’80s stars that not even Boy George brandishing a box of dildos is enough to shock us. Similarly, we were hardly surprised to learn this week that velvet-robed raisin Hugh Hefner is old and tired and not as interested in sex as he used to be. This stunning revelation came courtesy of Girl Next Door defector Kendra Wilkinson, who used a recent Us Weekly interview to put the cold kibosh on all of those hot men-of-advanced-age-a-trois fantasies you’ve been warming yourself with by admitting that boyfriend/benefactor Hugh Hefner barely had the energy to stay upright, let alone fuel her Electra complex with any actual icky intercourse. No doubt between fits of snorts and giggles, Wilkinson brayed:

“I had to have sex every now and then, so I had to kind of sneak it. Besides the nights we went out, I only saw Hef, like, once a day walking through the halls to his office. There were never solo dates. The most we kind of say to each other is, 'I love you,' 'Love you too,' 'I hope you have a good day,' 'Did you have a good day?'"… Bridget told me that she's been faithful all these years, and I was like, 'How the hell can you do that?' I had to have [sex] so I could feel my age, like a healthy human being."

Life at the Mansion was "way more strict than my life has ever been," according to Wilkinson. Staff members would keep track of when she, Marquardt and fellow girlfriend Holly Madison left and returned to the Mansion in a book, Wilkinson says - and Hefner would pour over it every morning, which made her "insane." Spending holidays away from the Mansion were also big no-nos, Wilkinson says, and the girlfriends received a $1,000 allowance once a week.


Yes, what could be healthier than getting your carnal kicks from itinerant athletes and C-list stars while your 82-year-old “Papa” sees to all your non-sexual needs and monitors your every move, his squad of clucking assistants keeping you cooped up like just another bosomy peacock as your life takes on the patina of some pornographic version of A Doll’s House? After all, isn’t that every little girl’s dream?

- You may also file this under “Things That No Longer Have The Capacity To Surprise Us”: The endless indignity that is the life of Verne “Mini Me” Troyer—which only appeared to reach its apex last year after the world’s most disturbing sex tape surfaced, followed by embarrassing revelations involving “reaching sticks” and the far more humiliating release of The Love Guru—continues apace, with the diminutive actor recently volunteering for Celebrity Big Brother in Britain, a country that really knows how to treat its fallen stars like the human punchlines they are. If you thought VH1 had the market cornered on hastening D-lister suicide, we humbly submit a recent episode during which the housemates were forced to complete a “children’s toy” challenge for no other reason than the British are a right bunch of bastards. While apparently-not-dead rapper Coolio rolled with his homie, Scottish Socialist Party figure Tommy Sheridan, through a real car wash while dressed as toy automobiles (during which they “stood looking sad and resigned as they were showered in soap suds and dirty water”), the producers really reserved their God-fingers to put the karmic smackdown on Troyer, who was forced to dress up as a teddy bear and eat a whole pot of honey. Why do people want to be famous again?


Oh, right: Because they’re artists, with a vision they’re aching to share with the world. Of course, part of realizing that vision means getting it in front of an audience, and before that can happen you’ll have to dance with those devils who work in the publicity department—and according to this eminently depressing New Yorker profile, more often than not it means ripping your art’s guts out and stuffing it with enough shiny tinsel to attract the attention of you, the mouth-breathing public who only wants to see things it already knows it likes. What's that? Think your tastes are so esoteric they can’t possibly be pinned down? Oh ho! Take a look at how the studios totally have you pegged:

The collective wisdom is that young males like explosions, blood, cars flying through the air, pratfalls, poop jokes, “you’re so gay” banter, and sex—but not romance. Young women like friendship, pop music, fashion, sarcasm, sensitive boys who think with their hearts, and romance—but not sex (though they like to hear the naughty girl telling her friends about it). They go to horror films as much as young men, but they hate gore; you lure them by having the ingénue take her time walking down the dark hall.

Older women like feel-good films and Nicholas Sparks-style weepies: they are the core audience for stories of doomed love and triumphs of the human spirit. They enjoy seeing an older woman having her pick of men; they hate seeing a child in danger. Particularly once they reach thirty, these women are the most “review-sensitive”: a chorus of critical praise for a movie aimed at older women can increase the opening weekend’s gross by five million dollars. In other words, older women are discriminating, which is why so few films are made for them. Older men like darker films, classic genres such as Westerns and war movies, men protecting their homes, and men behaving like idiots.”


Among the other cold, hard facts glinting beneath the waves of bullshit spouted by various studio heads: Being “relatable” is more important than being “original;” good marketing means making an African-American actor face the other way in the Stomp The Yard ads to make his race “indeterminate,” and scrubbing the “-Men” from the X-Men poster so as not to “exclude half your audience;” and trailers for chick flicks won’t see the light of day until they hit upon that one moment that “tugs on the ovary” (actual quote) to get those dizzy dames to wake up and say, “Wow, she’s a single gal trying to make it just like me.” Overall it’s one of the more dishearteningly candid looks at how your bloodless sausage gets made—then chewed up and shit out the other end—and you probably owe it to yourself to read the whole thing, if only to confirm any lingering suspicions that there’s anything about modern entertainment that isn’t wholly calculated and spiritless. Poop joke!

- Because he entered into his career during the rise of abstract expressionism, Andrew Wyeth was a polarizing figure in the art world, creating starkly realistic paintings with rural settings that dared to be sentimental (to quote a common insult lobbed at his work) while all of his contemporaries dabbled in splatters and amorphous shapes. His most famous piece was undoubtedly “Christina’s World,” a dark and slightly disturbing portrait of a young paraplegic girl dragging herself across a field in Maine. While Wyeth saw her as a dignified figure, as the New York Times points out, “It was dignity of a particularly dour, hardened, misanthropic sort, to which Wyeth throughout his career seemed to gravitate.” The painting became an unlikely icon, inspiring homage and reference in everything from The Simpsons to MAD Magazine to Forrest Gump over the years, and it still draws a considerable crowd at New York’s Museum Of Modern Art. Wyeth’s work has also been said to have inspired the bleak production design of films like The Ring and The Village, and his paintings even turned up in unusual places like the panels Peanuts and the background of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Wyeth died today at the age of 91.


- Unless you’re unusually diligent about studying liner notes, the name Gary Kurfirst most likely doesn’t ring any bells. Nevertheless, the music business veteran had a hand in a staggering number of epochal happenings, beginning with his founding of the New York Rock Festival (headlined by Janis Joplin, Jim Hendrix, The Who, and The Doors) when he was only 20. Later he became a manager with one of the keenest eyes in the industry, shepherding the careers of the Ramones, Talking Heads, Blondie, The B-52s, the Eurythmics, and Jane’s Addiction to name a few, in addition to being the first to bring Peter Tosh and Bob Marley’s music to America through his work with Island Records and producing the Talking Heads films Stop Making Sense and True Stories. Kurfirst died this week while on vacation in the Bahamas; he was 61 years old.

Have a super weekend!


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