|THE BLACK LIST: WE'RE IN A FEDORA ... AND NOTHING ELSE.|
|By The Black Table|
We here at The Black Table are reporters, journalists, newspeople, if you will. When we were kids, we imagined this as an endlessly exciting occupation. We figured we would be staking out shady characters, being the voice for the voiceless, defenders of the little guy, hopping from one assignment to another with a pocket notebook and a little fedora with PRESS written on an index card stuck in the brim. We would talk fast, rat-a-tat-tat, and we would meet glamorous people and tell glorious stories of hope, vision and freedom.
Now that we're out doing this job in the real world, we realize that really all a reporter does is wait next to the phone. About two hours ago, we received a phone call from a "source," which is journalist-speak for "someone we finally talked the public relations person into letting us talk to." We spoke for about five minutes, and then they said they had another call and would call right back. We are still waiting next to the phone. We even sometimes pick up the phone and say, "Hello? Hi?" just in case, you know, the dial is broken. This is the reverse equivalent of dialing the first six digits of that girl in homeroom's number and then hanging up before dialing the seventh. We're still waiting. Hello? Hi?
And this is for a story about mutual funds that you don't care about, we don't care about and the source doesn't care about. The good news is that we're still wearing a fedora. Only a fedora.
Anyway, enough internal angst. This week's Black List has 10 entries; a steady number these days, but one we'd like to raise. So give us your rants and raves in the little box on the right, and you will be one of us, a famous reporter on the beat, with your sterling byline glittering through someone's anonymous computer screen. That's good. Really.
ME NOT BEING ZACH BRAFF: I can't hate, I can only congratulate. Here's a kid from South Orange, N.J., who toils away as an unassuming sitcom actor, only to come out with perhaps the only Jersey-based film not to degenerate into a big smell joke, B-level mob flick or a dick-and-fart Kevin Smith film. He nails what post-college life is like for a lot of us who end up back here on our own and gets to make out with Natalie Portman while doing it! Plus, he gets to ask Coldplay and The Shins to contribute songs to his soundtrack and get giddy as a schoolboy on his blog when they say yes. You brilliant fuckface! He's everything I've aspired to be, and a reminder of everything I'm not. He's told a Jersey story as I'd only dreamt it, making me
feel less Braff and more Large. You have a Taylor Ham sandwich beer on me whenever you want it, along with my eternal envy. D- -- Jason Notte
THE OLYMPIC GAMES: I'm sick of people bitching about the Olympics, whining that doped up athletes playing pseudo-sports on tape-delay are pointless -- they're the same assholes who watch every single inning of a late-May baseball game, light-years before the games truly matter. But the Olympics? These Games matter -- just not here, where ratings are already down 11 percent from the 2000 Games. In a world that is increasingly divided, the Games are the one time every two years that so many nations truly come together and look at each other, up close. And while it don't mean shit to arrogant self-absorbed Americans, thousands of Iraqis cried in the stands as their soccer team, once humiliated and brutalized by Uday Hussein, beat Costa Rica 2-0 on Sunday to move into the quarterfinals. You have two weeks to start paying attention. B+ -- Eric Gillin
PORTER GOSS, NOMINEE FOR DIRECTOR OF THE CIA: Goss is a former undercover CIA operative-turned-Congressman, which is good, because what this administration really needs is more old white men with secrets. Some people think the only reason President Bush gave him the nod is to score points with voters in Florida (the state Goss represents). Of course, picking Goss to be CIA top dog might not go over well in Florida if he got the phone call from Bush seconds before casting the winning vote for the "Save the Orphans from Drowning" bill, causing him to yell "Wooo! Gossy's hit the big time!" and charge out of the building. Like Rumsfeld (whom he resembles strongly), he squints even though he has glasses on, an expression which past experience has taught me means, "Well, y'know, I just plain feel like killing something." D -- Peter Haas
THE IMPENDING RETURN OF RICK ANKIEL: The story of St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Rick Ankiel is so sad it defies comprehension. This is a guy who was genetically blessed, a lefthander with a 95-mph-plus fastball and a 12-to-6 curveball that makes major league hitters urinate themselves. Unfortunately, genetics also dealt him his father, a money-grubbing, drug dealer hanger-on who never had anything to do with his son's life until he made the major leagues. And then, after Ankiel's astounding rookie year at the age of 21, in 2000, came Ankiel's highest-profile meltdown: an absurd five wild pitches in one inning against the Mets in the National League Championship Series. Ankiel's mental struggles pushed him into minor league limbo for years, in addition to dealing with the death of Darryl Kile, his mentor with the Cardinals, until last year, when he finally had his head on straight and appeared ready for a return to the team, a wonderfully inspirational story-that is, until he blew out his elbow and required season-ending surgery. But don't look now: Ankiel is back and blazing through the minors again (he hasn't even walked a batter yet), and is scheduled to return to St. Louis at the beginning of September. Ankiel has packed a lifetime of heartache and suffering into his 25 years, and if he can make it all the way back this time, this nice kid, the one with the million-dollar arm and enough mental anguish to level any of us, it will be more heart-warming than any pre-packaged NBC Olympics storylines. If ever there were anyone worth rooting for, it's him. A -- Will Leitch
GETTING ROBBED: They didn't take my beloved collection of Edward Gorey-illustrated paperbacks. They didn't take any of my CDs or my 10-year-old stereo. They didn't take my jewelry, my turntable, my Prozac or my bank statements. They did take my bike, my irritating housemates' laptops and their stereo. I have mixed feelings. Yes, getting robbed sucks. But they took hardly any of MY stuff, and my bike only had one brake and needed air in the tires anyway. Plus the thieves "came in through the bathroom window." Every time I say that I giggle. It's a freaking Beatles song! C -- Katie
WENDY'S: My favorite political pic from last week featured the Kerrys and the Edwards sharing a meal celebrating the Edwards' wedding anniversary. Apparently, pretty boy John Edwards, millionaire ambulance chaser that he is, and his perfectly ordinary wife kick it proletariat every year and dine at Wendy's in honor of their getting hitched. Perfectly lovely. (Don't eat the chili at Wendy's though, it's the day old hamburger meat. Otherwise, inhale those grease shingles.) But did anyone spy Teresa Heinz Kerry's expression towards her meal? She looked like what I imagine Marie Antoinette looked like when she saw the guillotine in the distance. I eat Wendy's because it's cheap, and they eat it because I eat it. Those Dems have to work a little harder to relate to me. Like the Bush Administration, for example. They run the budget the way I run my budget, only instead of borrowing money from China and Japan, I borrow money from Discover Card. And while Discover Card can destroy my credit and call me late at night, we can always tell Japan to fuck themselves. (And China, well, hell, CHINA! The Last Great Exploitable Frontier For U.S. Robber Barons! We'll pay them back! FOR SHIT WE WILL!) Sigh. I like Wendy's. Square hamburgers. There is no more perfect shape in nature than the square. B -- John DeVore
QUITTING YOUR JOB TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL: The congratulations and well-wishes forced upon you by your co-workers in the last few days before you leave work to go to back to college are a complete sham. All the meaningless platitudes are a coping mechanism, a thin layer of gloss over the fact that you're abandoning them to their miserable enterprise while you go to find yourself a better life. So you'll do your last two weeks like an honest professional should, numbly eating tasteless cake from a Styrofoam plate in the middle of the staff area for your "party." Perhaps Gladys from Accounting will swing by with a giant novelty card full of boilerplate sentiment; that would be grand. And then when it's all over and you've moved on, you will find it very easy to forget entirely about that floor of people with dead souls where you used to hang out. B- -- Steve Young
PULL-DOWN SUBWAY SEATS: SMACK!! goes the plastic subway seat as it retracts. The jolting cacophony invites everyone to stare at you, the Asshole, for standing up. I mean, what were you thinking, Asshole, standing up like that? You just caused everyone in this car to switch from passive cow to self-defensive crab-in-a-barrel. Is this, finally, what the Code Yellow is all about? Is it a suicide bomber? A fight? Is it the crazy dude holding the cane on the platform a minute ago? No, no, worse, it's a disgruntled prick who has decided, suddenly, at 3:15 in the afternoon to bust a 9mm cap in your helmet ... "and then turn the gun on himself," the Daily News would invariably report. Fucking-a, this is the last thing you'll hear before asphyxiating on the blood in your trachea: "This is the last stop on this train. Everyone, please leave the train." Oh, no, wait, it's just Asshole. He stood up. Yo, that seat's reserved for the disabled, Bitch. D- -- keith h.
MY VOLKSWAGEN: The Germans used to have a reputation for "efficiency" and "engineering." Now I know that it should be "efficiency" at "engineering" your money away from you. Any modifications or additions I want to make to my VW Bug require the computer to be reprogrammed, which, you guessed it, can only be done at the dealer. Even then, if you should show up with non-VW, aftermarket stuff, they might claim they can't work with it and insist you buy overpriced VW stuff. None of this would be worth it if I didn't love the design of my German-engineered yuppiescum car, so I guess I have it coming. B -- Rich Thomas
PEOPLE I'VE SLEPT WITH SLEEPING WITH OTHER PEOPLE I'VE SLEPT WITH: Jealousy rears its head in ways I could never have reasonably expected. My best friend, with whom I used to get drunk and cheat on my ex, is suddenly dating my coworker, whom I got drunk and slept with after a hard night of clubbing. This tells me that my circle of friends is totally inbred. It tells me that I need to make new friends, friends who won't sleep with each other. Mostly, it tells me that maybe I ought to not drink quite so much. D -- J Ritterbusch
Each and every week, Black Table readers like you write the Black List and get absolutely nothing in return. Ain't that some shit.