The human race has always embraced living on the edge, whether that means bravely staring down a hurricane that promises "certain death" and summing it all up with a "Pfft…Ain't nothin' we ain't seen before" (high-five, my Texan brethren!); tempting fate by activating a machine that will, best-case scenario, create a couple of tiny, Earth-swallowing black holes, or worst-case, provide entry for the ancient armies of the Planet Nibiru to come back and "do battle with God;" or seriously considering electing a vice president who views the Iraq War as a divine mission handed down from on-high–and who would even support picking a fight with Russia if they looked at us crossways–all because they "tell it like it is" (even when it isn't) and–bonus!–has a history-making vagina. Hooray for dangerously unqualified vaginas! And unearned cockiness! Put them together and we're all fucked. Anyway, we freely admit that science and politics aren't really our bag around here; we're far more interested in amusing ourselves to death than actually facing our impending doom on any sort of substantive level. With that in mind, let's switch on the Friday Buzzkills collider and smash some relatively insignificant, yet no less worrisome protons.
- Speaking of dangerously unqualified, news broke this week that Lauren Conrad–The Hills star, tabloid fixture, and living argument for just surrendering to our Nibiruan overlords and embracing humanity's future as colon cleaners to our ascended betters right fucking now–has decided it's high time she stops being famous for doing absolutely nothing and starts being known for being a horrible writer. This week Conrad inked a three-book deal with Harper Collins to begin work on a young adult fiction series called L.A. Candy, the "behind-the scenes story of a young girl who moves to L.A. and unexpectedly becomes the star of a reality television show." (Where does she get her ideas?) Hear that, all you floundering F. Scotts whining, "Print is dead!" and "Nobody reads anymore"? Judging by this–and the fact that Tori Spelling's memoir is topping the New York Times bestseller list–our love affair with the written word is still burning like a herpes sore, thanks very much. You're just jealous you didn't think of being born into wealth so you could one day use your status to manipulate your way into a publishing deal first. And after all, we're living in the age of the overshare; clearly the only "characters" we want to read about (besides wizards and androgynous vampires, apparently) are thinly fictionalized versions of ourselves, except with better hair and clothes and lots more money. Time to wise up and say goodbye to the Great American Novel and embrace the Great American Navel-Gaze. (P.S. Those spreadsheets aren't going to update themselves. Close this window and get back to work.)
- These days, the entrepreneurial spirit is being passed around the socialite set like a Greek shipping heir, and this week it was also caught swapping spit and horrible, horrible ideas with former O.C. star and current sworn-enemy-of-lupus Mischa Barton as she announced her intentions to put her questionable aesthetics to good use crafting "designer headbands." Barton will join forces with noted designer Stacey Lapidus, bringing her considerable experience modeling this season's stupidest accessory to creating her own "bejeweled and feather-adorned" versions that will range anywhere from $40 to $200. Take that, hippies! We've stolen your precious protest music and turned it into watered-down indie-folk; we've taken your easy riders and turned them into staunch Republicans; and now we've taken your anti-fashion statements, Bedazzled the bejeezus out of them, and put them on the forehead of every spoiled rich girl on the planet. Time to put on your Crosby, Stills, & Nash records, and have yourself a good cry.
- It's too bad Gary Coleman doesn't have any clout in the fashion industry; let's face it, the guy could certainly use a break these days, and there's always enough bottom-feeders in the world of pop culture who would gladly snap up a "Gary Coleman Signature Canadian Tuxedo With Matching Crocs" just for conversation's sake. Unfortunately, the guy who will never, ever appear in a news story more than two sentences away from the words "Diff'rent Strokes" keeps living out his Job-like existence without any relief in sight, taking degrading cameo work wherever he can find it and popping up in embarrassing news stories, like this week's report that he ran over a man with his truck outside a Utah bowling alley, allegedly because he was angry at being photographed. Both Coleman and the victim of the accident, Colt Rushton, have declined to speak with police thus far–presumably, Colton's just waiting for the opportunity to let Judge Judy settle it (something Coleman probably wouldn't object to, if this is any indication)–but with or without a conviction, isn't Coleman already in prison, condemned to a lifetime of being Gary Coleman? Oh…Think that's being a tad hyperbolic? Gaze ye upon the despairing face of the dead man walking (and laughing unnervingly):
- Many black-as-sackcloth moons ago, we laughed at Gary Coleman's attempt to offload his Saturn sad-mobile (with complimentary autograph!), but this week we've been forced to put that into perspective against another, far ickier auction: New Jersey businessman Henry Vacarro placed Michael Jackson's size-28 Calvin Klein briefs up for bid on eBay with a reserve price of $1 million earlier this week, part of a grab-bag of embarrassing items he obtained in a bankruptcy case that reportedly also included a half-used bottle of skin bleaching cream and a handwritten note explaining why he wanted an annulment from Lisa Marie Presley. The underwear–gathered as evidence in 2003 as part of the unsuccessful child-molestation lawsuit against Jackson–allegedly comes still-wrapped in an evidence bag sealed with police tape, and presumably contain enough Jackson DNA to clone an entire army of little Kings of Pop, provided you can find a willing surrogate. Of course, considering eBay's strict policy against selling used underwear, we're betting that this is one of those "Wacko Jacko" stories that got circulated without anyone bothering to question its veracity…But seriously, how fucked up does your image have to be that not one of your publicists bothers to step forward and deny something like this? Why is Friday Buzzkills doing your work for you, Team Jackson?
- Granted, as skeletons in your closet go, having some New Jersey mook claim to be selling off your DNA-streaked underwear is shrugged off fairly easily–especially compared to this other skin-crawling secret having to do with one of the other kings of pop: Philip Norman's forthcoming biography John Lennon: The Life makes the unseemly accusation that Lennon fantasized about having sex with his mother–and in fact came pretty damn close, according to an audio diary (reportedly recorded a year before his death) which a friend of Norman's leaked to the press to counter the outrage of Beatles fans. On the tape–which you can listen to by clicking here–Lennon is heard to say:
"I was just remembering the time I had my hand on my mother's tit in 1 Blomfield Road. It was when I was about 14. I took a day off school, I was always doing that and hanging out in her house. We were lying on the bed and I was thinking 'I wonder if I should do anything else?' It was a strange moment, because I actually had the hots for some rather lower class female who lived on the other side of the road…I always think that I should have done it. Presuming she would have allowed it."
Kind of puts a whole new spin on the lyrics, "Mother, you had me / But I never had you," no?
- And speaking of embarrassing tapes, we present this video of Raspberries founder and "Hungry Eyes" singer Eric Carmen getting arrested for his second DUI in a year (kudos!) with no comment, other than a long, drawn-out sigh—and an expression of pure astonishment that no enterprising YouTuber has yet compiled a photo montage of Carmen sitting dejectedly in the back of a squad car soundtracked to his hit "All By Myself."
- Before she died this week at the age of 98, Anita Page was one of the last surviving adults to have started her motion-picture career in silent films, and was the last living attendee of the very first Academy Awards in 1929. After getting her start as an extra in 1924, Page broke out in films like Our Dancing Daughters (opposite Joan Crawford) and The Broadway Melody, big hits that allowed her to transition smoothly into talkies, not an easy feat for many silent-era stars. In her heyday, she played the leading lady to big men like Lon Chaney, Buster Keaton, and Clark Gable (with whom she was romantically involved), and at the height of her popularity reportedly was second only to Betty Grable in the amount of fan mail she received–including numerous marriage proposals from Benito Mussolini. She surprised everyone when she announced her retirement at the age 23, disappearing from film for more than 60 years; she later told a biographer that her career truly ended when she was forced out by studio head Louis B. Mayer for refusing to grant sexual favors to producer Irving Thalberg. Page returned to acting in the '90s in a series of B-movie horrors; her last, Frankenstein Rising, is due later this year.
- The blustering force that is conservative talk radio may not have existed were it not for L.A.'s George Putnam, a fixture of early television news who launched a second career as an opinionated radio host. Putnam was the face of KTLA's news broadcast in the '60s and '70s before being replaced by Hal Fishman–a move that caused Putnam to call Fishman a back-stabber for decades–but rebounded with the popular conservative chat show "Talk Back," which was still on the air at the time of Putnam's death, making him one of the few active radio hosts who were older than the medium itself. Although Putnam was an ardent conservative and noted forebear to Rush Limbaugh and his ilk, he did make one remarkable concession to changing sociopolitical climes: Though he had once narrated a film called Perversion For Profit (financed by S&L; asshole Charles Keating) in which he stated that homosexuals were perverts and misfits, he later recanted in the 1980s, saying he now believed that gays were born that way and that even he had many gay friends. (One more strange pop-culture side note: Ted Knight often claimed that he based his Mary Tyler Moore Show character "Ted Baxter" character on Putnam.) Putnam died today at 94.
- Working with her husband Bill, choreographer Jacqui Landrum constructed many elaborate dance numbers for films ranging from Great Balls Of Fire! to The Doors to The Singing Detective–and received an Emmy nomination for her work on Moonlighting–but her greatest work unquestionably came in service of The Coen Brothers, with whom she collaborated on four different films, including Barton Fink, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and The Man Who Wasn't There. Perhaps her crowning achievement: The Busby Berkeley-esque "Gutterballs" sequence that provides the surreal centerpiece for The Big Lebowski. Landrum died of cancer this week at the age of 64.
- An astoundingly prolific French composer whose work encompassed styles ranging from electronic to worldbeat to rock and classical, Hector Zazou was a favorite collaborator of artists whose own musical interests crisscrossed geographical and genre boundaries. Among the many stars who contributed vocals to his solo albums were Björk, John Cale, Suzanne Vega, and Siouxsie Sioux, while he also found time to produce material with Nico, Peter Gabriel, Brian Eno, and Ryuichi Sakamoto to name but a few. Releasing albums steadily since 1976, Zazou's most recent was this year's Corps Electriques, while In The House Of Mirrors (recorded several months ago in India) is due for release "immininently." Zazou died this week at the age of 60.
Have a super weekend!