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  INCOMING! JULY 12, 2004.  


If you're in New York City and, for some strange reason, are reading this before 5:35 a.m., pull on your fuzzy bunny slippers and get


yourself outside pronto so you can catch one of only two sunrises a year visible from any street in Manhattan's grid. Every May 28 and July 12 (three weeks in either direction from the summer solstice), the tilt of the earth's axis, its position in orbit, and some other elements of eighth-grade earth science line up just so, and the sun's arc slices perfectly across the east-west streets, allowing a rare ground-level view of the sunrise and sunset. The rest of the year, it's gray and gloomy because the sun's intersections with the horizon are obstructed by everything everywhere in every direction. Trust me, chicks really dig guys who are into semiannual helio-metropolitan phenomena.

Assuming you've missed dawn, you can still catch it at dusk (E.T.A.: 8:28 p.m.). If you turn around,


stand on your head and look in a mirror, it'll feel like you're watching sunrise.

Of course, if you're standing in the street gazing Jersey-ward at dusk, you're missing the premiere of Hal Sparks and Michael Ian Black waxing philosophically about how when Dylan McKay wore two days' stubble and squinted a lot, you knew he was in "bad-boy" mode: on the bottle and itching to go ride his bike down by the Mexico border to blow off some steam. It might be two whole episodes before he comes back… Hey, look Vanilla Ice is doing the Macarena! And he's wearing slap bracelets! Are those Pogs in his pockets?

That's right: "I Love the 90s" starts tonight on VH-1, with two episodes airing each night this week and a marathon every single weekend hereafter. You'll probably catch the episode "1997" 174 times before you die.



Today is the 27th anniversary of the N.Y.C. blackout of 1977 -- 25 hours of looting, riots, arson, disorder and the omnipresent infection of a serial killer's malice, all of which you'll fondly remember if you're


older than your early thirties or if you've caught the middle few hours of Summer of Sam on HBO. People didn't really seem to enjoy that blackout, but that might just have been Spike Lee's directing. However, last summer's blackout was a pretty good time for almost everybody across eight states. Just like Powerball. It was a welcome surprise; a much-needed and well-deserved spontaneous vacation when everyone was a little orange-alert-level jittery; a thrilling commotion with no actual casualties, like a surprise fire drill during a social-studies exam; it was something to talk about for weeks afterward, and probably, forever: "Where were you when…"

We should do this every summer: a day unshackled from our jobs, unplugged from the hypnotizing allure of TV and the Internet, released of pretty much all responsibilities, and free only to meet new strangers or strange neighbors, racing the onset of spoilage by cooking and consuming all


our perishables in impromptu block parties.

Look folks, we don't get another day off from work until Labor Day, and my boss won't let me use Neptunalia or Tisha B'av as a floating holiday. If we all crank up our air conditioners and leave 'em on henceforth, we can blow the power by the end of the week. I've already printed 500 "Blackout 2004!" T-shirts. They glow in the dark. Oh, yes, they do.



Why is it that everybody is honorarily Irish on St. Patrick's Day, but nobody wants to be French on Bastille Day? (Not even French people!) Or, for that matter, why doesn't anybody want to be Iraqi on


Iraqi National Day, which is also today? At least, it was today until two weeks ago, when America bestowed sovereignty upon Iraq two days early, thenceforth establishing June 28 as the new Iraqi Independence Day, and, in effect, nullifying today.

It's likely that the Iraqi street will reject the national holiday forced upon them by the Great Satan and instead cling to their homespun holiday, which commemorates the day in 1958 when Abdul Karim Qassim deposed the royal family and became president. In 1959, he survived an assassination attempt by a gang of hotheads that included slaphappy young Saddam Hussein. Ol' Qassim was then deposed in 1963 by Abdul Salam Arif. And then he got himself shot and killed in Baghdad. And then the Ba'ath party took over, and then Saddam did his thing, and then we went to war and then we went to war again and then here we are, bestowing independence upon Iraq, again. The circle of life. That's why it's customary to eat round foods on Iraqi Day. Like bagels and bialys.

Meanwhile, over in France, at the exact same



moment that Abdul Karim Qassim was kicking sultanic ass, the filthy peasants of Paris stormed the Bastille and let loose the imprisoned enemies of King Louis XVI as an act of defiance. Anticlimactically, there were only seven prisoners to be freed. And one of them was the Marquis de Sade, the perverted pansy who served as prototype for Larry Flynt. So France's big stupid holiday celebrates a totally ineffective rebellion with a swishy, inbred freak for a hero. The storming of the Bastille is symbolic only because it's the sole act of foolhardy American-style braggadocio in the land of, well, cheese-eating surrender monkeys.

July 14: What a great day for axes of evil and weasel.



"Kippers for breakfast, Aunt Helga? Is it St. Swithins Day already?"
"'Tis," replied Aunt Helga.

Today, when you Tourrettically spout a random, context-less non-


sequitor from a decade-old episode of "The Simpsons," you can impress your remaining friends and colleagues by following up with a supplemental tidbit of geeky esoterica: Today actually is the day to honor the 9th-century English bishop of Winchester who did absolutely nothing notable other than guest-star in an arcane meteorological proverb that's insubstantial and almost always incorrect.

St. Swithins day if it dost rain, for 40 days 'twill remain.


St. Swithins day if thou be fair, for 40 days 'twill rain nae more.

It rhymes if you pretend you're from the old country.

Apple growers traditionally pray for rain on St. Swithins day, while normal people just hope it's sunny without caring enough to bother God about it. Either way, make sure you've got a fiver to give the disposable-umbrella salesman that spontaneously appears at subway stops as the first raindrop hits the pavement.

There's some boring legend (or "backstory," if you're developing a screenplay) about the bishop's deathbed request for outdoor burial instead of eternity in a drafty mausoleum so "the sweet rain of heaven" could make mud of his dirt. Cut to 100 years later, and some stupid monks decide to dig up his grave and move the remains into a shrine they built but apparently forgot to dedicate to anyone. It rained angry dead-bishop tears that day, July 15, 971, and probably a few days afterward, but the storm would eventually be inflated to a mighty 40 days and 40 nights by the unreliable memories of crotchety old-timers recounting their tales of back-in-the-day to the disaffected youth born just before the turn of that millennium. And thus an insipid proverb was born.

By the way, if any Hollywood D-girls are reading this, I've got a screenplay called Swish It Like Swithins. It's The Perfect Storm meets Weekend at Bernie's. Picture Sam Elliott as the corpse of St. Swithins and Lindsay Lohan as Brenda.



I, Robot opens today, and it will likely suck so hard that Asimov's bones will reverse the direction in which they've been rolling since Bicentennial Man. Still, the Fresh Prince knows how to work a big-


budget summer sci-fi C.G.I. demonstration -- the combined grosses of ID4, MiB, MiB II and Bad Boys surpass one's ability to count. Also opening today is Hilary Duff's psychological action-thriller, A Cinderella Story, which is sure to delight 11-year-old girls and creepy unemployed men in their 30s who go to half-price matinees alone, smuggling a Ziploc of home-popped popcorn down their pants because the concession stand doesn't discount its prices in proportion to the box office, despite my letter-writing campaign.

I've said too much.



Anyway, today's crappy premieres might be worth attending because, according to some rumors that have got all the Internet's cinéphile nerds atwitter, today is probably the debut of the one-minute teaser trailer for 2005's Batman Begins, and the odds of its being attached to I, Robot over Cinderella are 900 billion to one. Seriously, though, check out this bitchin' new Batmobile: Kickass.


Josh Abraham is an editor at Yankee Pot Roast.


INCOMING! runs every Monday on The Black Table. Writers will be rotated, and if you're interested in contributing one, email Will Leitch at