Harry asks in the comments below why I haven’t said anything about Richard Cohen’s incredibly stupid column earlier this week:

and nancy, your silence on richard cohen’s snit about colbert fills the room. you’ve run some of cohen’s columns when he made some sense, but not to call him out for that one seems like you’re covering for him when you shouldn’t.

Covering for him? Uh, no. I just thought the column wasn’t worthy of much other than the Randy Jackson take: “Dawg, not your best performance. You were pitchy and all over the place, and you never really got it together.” Also, I’m sick of this story. Very few people seemed to say what finally occured to me, reading about it: That Colbert’s audience was ostensibly the people in the room, but his real audience was the people watching clips on the web and e-mailing the best lines to all their friends. All this talk about whether he was rude to this or that constituency sitting in the room with him overlooks this, because he knew he was really talking to the folks at home. It’s the reason the press covers commencement speeches and others that, on paper, don’t seem all that important.

If Colbert had done what the Cohens of the world said he should have done — told some stupid jokes at his own expense, been polite and respectful to the leader of the free world, etc. — he’d still be a guy with a relatively low national profile and a show on Comedy Central. Now? He’s New York Times boy. Not a bad night’s work.

(And thanks to The Poor Man for unearthing a Mel Brooks quote I hadn’t heard before: Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die. I will consider this when I’m enduring Kate’s new preferred dinner-hour television. Last year it was “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!,” this year it’s “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” the comedy stylings of which consist of some poor slob either cartwheeling over some handlebars to fall on his head, or else slipping off a narrow rail/rope to rack up the family jewels big-time.)

Actually, today I’m wondering what it must be like to be one of Earl Woods’ other three children. I understand that they had the famous half-brother, and I really don’t know what his relationship with them was, after he left his first family behind and made a second stab at things, but when you find yourself lumped in as a last-graf afterthought, man, that’s gotta hurt.

Watch Nance Grow Old in Real Time, Chapter XXXIX: A couple weeks ago the NYT magazine featured a profile of Dov Charney, the alleged genius behind American Apparel, evidently some sort of cotton-jersey version of The Gap. You can find any number of these stories out there, all of which do some version of a tap dance around the fact Charney is, um, fond of his dick. Evidently he likes to handle the merchandise in front of reporters. (As a reporter myself I’ve seen this happen on a metaphorical level many times. In the literal flesh, though, no.)

But that’s not the story here. If a guy sells good T-shirts, I’ll forgive him anything, even that. I’m a T-shirt gal, and as summer lines up behind spring, of course I’m in the market. So when yesterday’s errands had me in Royal Oak, and I passed the distinctive Helvetica sign of an American Apparel shop, I swerved to the side to check it out. I was looking to fact-check the veracity of this claim in the NYT article:

He began a fixation that continues to this day on what he calls American commodity manufacturing: clothing items and other goods that defy fashion and stand outside of seasonal requirements, things that are simple, well made and possessed of such innate organic style that they become iconic: Levi’s 501’s, Sperry Top-Sider deck shoes, Russell Athletic heather-gray T-shirts.

Well. I own two of the three items on that list, and let me just say, American Apparel, you’re no Levi’s 501s. The line at center stage at the moment is something called “sheer cotton,” which is another word for “cheap” where I come from. I owned a sheer cotton T-shirt a few years ago; I bought it mail-order from Eddie Bauer, and it marked my final estrangement from that once-worthy brand. It was so sheer I couldn’t wear it to work without a jacket, and inspired my new rule about white T-shirts: I pull the fabric over my wrist, and if I can read my watch through it, it goes back on the rack.

Some of the styles were OK, but please — a few of the T-shirts had necklines with a raw edge. Raw, like you’d cut the finished one off with scissors, like in “Flashdance.” No, thanks.

I realize, being approximately two decades past A.A.’s target market, this will not cause anyone to lose sleep at night. I just hate to see young people, who have fewer disposable dollars than anyone, paying $18 for a shirt they can read their watches through.

I liked the amateur-porny-type photos on the wall, though. I’m not that old.

After I left I was lured, by the nose, into the place next door, billing itself as an “eco-luxury” store — organic cotton this, all-natural that. They were going out of business, selling down to the walls, and if there’s one thing that can get me through the door it’s a giant sign reading 50-70 PERCENT OFF. The pleasantly scented botanical skin products were only the hook.

I swiftly discovered that a $100 shower curtain marked down by half is still a $50 shower curtain, and honestly, I don’t care if it’s woven of natural hemp. But there was a nice chair there, lightly used, that looked close to what we want for our family room. A price tag dangled sadly from its back. Won’t Alan be pleased when I tell him I found our chair in an upscale-hippie den of hemp! I reached for it with trembling fingers. Twenty-two HUNDRED dollars. For a chair.

Not only am I too old for the world, I’m too poor.

Posted at 9:41 am in Popculch, Same ol' same ol' |

21 responses to “Shopping.”

  1. 4dbirds said on May 5, 2006 at 9:52 am

    I hope Earl Woods was a good father to his other three children. Did he spend one on one time with them? Was he just a child support payment each month? In the few interviews I’ve seen of Earl Woods, I don’t think I ever heard him mention his other children.

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  2. brian stouder said on May 5, 2006 at 10:33 am

    With regard to the mis-directed priorities of youth (and we can add a nasal “nowadays” to that phrase!) I was taken aback (about 30 years aback, at that) by this article from the Sac Bee, about a thing called Top 8 which resides in

    an excerpt –

    “To some teenagers, the Top 8 has become a social ranking system, like a Who’s Who of their school. And even though most admit that it’s a little petty and a little pathetic, they also agree that one’s status on the Top 8 definitely matters.

    “It’s kind of funny how it’s become such a huge deal in teen culture right now,” says 14-year-old Hail Ketchum, a freshman at St. Francis High School in Sacramento. “It’s like kindergarten: ‘She didn’t invite me to her birthday party!’ ”
    It’s a way of visualizing an idea that’s never more clear than in high school: You are who you hang out with. And although cliques have always existed, the Top 8 has created a way of seeing exactly which ones you’re in – and which ones you’re not.


    “Most often, the Top 8 provides users with a way to acknowledge their inner circle of friends. “It’s kind of an honor to be in someone’s Top 8,” Hail says. Like all forms of social interaction, comes with its own etiquette. An unspoken MySpace rule is the Top 8 reciprocation. “If they put you in their Top 8, they expect you to put them in your Top 8,” says Keith McCann, an 18-year-old senior at Independence High School in Roseville. Failure to reciprocate can lead to hurt feelings, constant questioning and endlessly checking friends’ profiles. “I’ll find myself looking at other people’s Top 8 and be, like, ‘I’m not on theirs?’ ” says Tycee Macredes, a 17-year-old senior at Capital Christian High School in Sacramento.

    The Web site has given teenagers a way to send very clear messages to one another about their friendship status, since publicly rejecting someone can be accomplished by simply removing someone from their place on the Top 8. “If you get mad at someone, maybe you take them out for a while,” Hail says.

    As a father, all I can say is – Oh my!

    Thinking back to those days, I would have been obsessive/compulsive about such a social tracking device

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  3. Danny said on May 5, 2006 at 10:50 am

    Thinking back to those days, I would have been obsessive/compulsive about such a social tracking device

    Yeeessh! As Jimmy Durante might say, what a revoltin’ development. As if kids don’t have enough to worry about, which reminds me of something:

    Can someone explain to me how kids nowadays have GPA’s in excess of 4.0? Did school systems just change the scale to go to 5.0 (that would be soooo spinal-tap of them) or are they adding extra points for AP credits?

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  4. Laura said on May 5, 2006 at 11:15 am

    The 5.0 GPA are used as the top scale for AP classes. And myspace (I have a myspace blogger in my very home) is too funny! So many of these kids fail to grasp that their ‘inner thoughts’ are now seen all around the world. Some of them get very bitchy, too. It’s kinda tough to deny a grudge when it can be accessed by anyone and archived for all time.

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  5. nancy said on May 5, 2006 at 11:20 am

    It’s the latter, Danny, as Laura points out. AP classes are worth extra. I don’t know if you can go all the way up to 5.0, but you can definitely get 4.0-plus.

    In FW, I think they allowed a grade of A-plus, which also carried extra oomph.

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  6. Claire said on May 5, 2006 at 12:13 pm

    As for American Apparel, that guy really creeps me out. I read several articles about him about two years ago, just before he was opening stores in places outside of LA. I like the fact that he pays his garment workers a living wage, I don’t like his inappropriate sexual behavior. I also don’t like the fact that his tees aren’t great for women with boobs larger than a b-cup, but I just don’t like tight shirts.

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  7. mary said on May 5, 2006 at 2:21 pm

    I have found that men’s rayon blend shirts made by Jockey are pretty wonderful. And cheap. I’m tall so they fit me without the bare midriff look (so attractive on 53 year old women who have had two kids) and the fabric feels wonderful.

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  8. Danny said on May 5, 2006 at 2:32 pm

    Off-Topic: Can any of you suggest essential Three Dog Night for me? The way I normally work it (for bands that I do not want to own the com0plete catalogue), I get a best of studio compilation and a best live album. The problem I am having here is that 3DN has several of each of these album types from which to choose.

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  9. alex said on May 5, 2006 at 4:45 pm

    Not at home right now, Danny, but I bought a compilation a few years ago that I thought was absolutely the best. In fact “Pieces of April” has been rattling around in my head the last couple of days, I suspect because I’m surprised on these mornings in May to see how incredibly long-lasting my tulips are this year. Must be the horseshit I heaped on the beds plus the calm weather.

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  10. alex said on May 5, 2006 at 9:20 pm

    Okay, Danny, it’s The Best of 3 Dog Night by MCA, billed as a double-record set on one disc, copyright 1982. When I went out looking for a good set, I asked my friend Michael who’s a music collector/junkie extraordinaire. (He also used to give me his discount at the stores he managed.) This was his recommendation and I think there’s only one song it lacked that I really wanted (which was fewer absent than on any other album at the time. At this point don’t even remember what it was.) This has twenty songs.

    I bought it for my personal faves Easy to Be Hard, Family of Man, Old Fashioned Love Song, Mama Told Me, Shambala, Never Been to Spain, Pieces of April, Liar, Out in the Country, Eli’s Coming and One Man Band. Oh–and One. One is the loneliest number you can ever do.

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  11. Maureen said on May 6, 2006 at 12:32 am

    From the just askin’ department… What was so incredibly stupid about the Cohen column? I am essentially an anarchist when it comes to political matters. I don’t get the vapors if someone criticizes a politician even though I am SO past that. I read the column – I just don’t see what was stupid about it. I really don’t understand the use of that adjective. Care to explain?

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  12. nancy said on May 6, 2006 at 9:30 am

    OK, I’ll take a stab:

    It was stupid because it took an entirely subjective reaction — Richard Cohen didn’t think it was funny — and attempted to make an academic case against it. Obviously, funny is in the eye of the beholder, and if you want to say, “It didn’t make me laugh,” that’s one thing. But he’s saying, “It shouldn’t have made you laugh, and here’s why.”

    Colbert was not just a failure as a comedian but rude. Rude is not the same as brash. It is not the same as brassy. It is not the same as gutsy or thinking outside the box. Rudeness means taking advantage of the other person’s sense of decorum or tradition or civility that keeps that other person from striking back or, worse, rising in a huff and leaving. The other night, that person was George W. Bush.

    Huh? Comedy has a long, long history — it may be THE history of comedy, in fact — of “taking advantage of the other person’s sense of decorum or tradition or civility.” Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, Sam Kinison. They all make you want to either strike back or rise in a huff and leave. But you don’t, and you release the tension by laughing.

    He goes on to say Colbert “made jokes about Bush’s approval rating, which hovers in the middle 30s,” as though that’s a horrible thing (it isn’t), and ignores the fact BUSH HIMSELF made the same joke earlier in the evening.

    He referred to the recent staff changes at the White House, chiding the media for supposedly repeating the cliche “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic” when he would have put it differently: “This administration is not sinking. This administration is soaring. If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg.” A mixed metaphor, and lame as can be.

    Huh? A mixed metaphor? It’s an absurd metaphor. It takes the sinking/soaring cliche and transferes to to another large ship that came to a tragic end. I don’t think it’s so lame. I laughed. But maybe I’m a bad person.

    The sort of stuff that would get you punched in a bar can be said on a dais with impunity. This is why Colbert was more than rude. He was a bully.

    Again, has Cohen watched any standup in the past 30 years? Or did he stop with Bill Cosby, pre-“I Spy”?

    I could go on, but you get the idea. Cohen didn’t like it — fair enough. But trying to make his readers who did like it feel bad or guilty or rude or insulting? Not fair. And once again, I think someone buried the lead:

    … and he took a shot at the news corps for purportedly being nothing more than stenographers recording what the Bush White House said.

    Uh, yeah. Sometimes the truth hurts.

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  13. brian stouder said on May 6, 2006 at 10:50 am

    “and he took a shot at the news corps for purportedly being nothing more than stenographers recording what the Bush White House said.”

    ‘Uh, yeah. Sometimes the truth hurts.’

    Uh, well – the truth ain’t nearly as painful as when the ‘stenographers’ start making stuff up – like the CBS News/Mapes/Rather phoney documents! (by way of saying, calling the White House press corps a bunch of ‘stenographers’ would actually be a step up for them, and a slander on stenographers everywhere!)

    But leaving that aside – give Cohen a point for being even-handed, ’cause I betcha he wrote the same column after Don Imus took a turn at the microphone when President Clinton was in office. The only mistake Imus made, and that Colbert avoided – was that the I-man didn’t ‘get’ the basic truth that Nance already pointed out: The audience isn’t the assembled hackery in the hall – but the C-SPAN/internet/opposition punditocracy. Imus had genuine rivulets of flop sweat rolling off his pronounced brows; he was quite funny, but odd to watch – like watching MASH without the laugh-track

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  14. MarkH said on May 6, 2006 at 10:55 am

    Nicely done, Nance. Still, it’s the long way around the barn just to say, “Richard didn’t get it”. And him of all people, really…

    It’s like he doesn’t get the tradition of the correspondents’ dinner. Anything and everything goes with reporters vs. administration, against each other, against themselves. Usually it’s benign, but every so often someone gives it a nasty or dumb turn. Anyone remember Don Imus’ performance in front of a stone-faced Bill and Hillary about 10 years ago at this event? It was particularly vicious, and really classic Imus pushing the envelope. Not being a Clinton fan, it didn’t bother me either way, but he really skewered them.

    I think Colbert’s (and to a certain extent, Jon Stewart’s) schtick does get less funny as time goes on. It has all crossed the truth barrier, regarding Bush, especially, therefore it’s not so much funny as sad. Bush is in a bad position and the public is increasingly getting it. Humor as anti-climactic? It is all in the beholder.

    By the way, I found it interesting in Colbert’s profile on “60 Minutes” that he is not spoofing Bill O’Reilly so much as other stuffed-shirt correspondents. While there are heavy doses of O’Reillyisms and attitude, he stated he is really doing Stone Phillips.

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  15. Danny said on May 6, 2006 at 12:18 pm

    Alex, thanks so much. I will give that one a try. You know, Easy to be Hard was also one of my favs. I didn’t realize until I started looking at 3DN’s discography that they did that one. My first exposure to that song was in Hair (the movie version with Treat Williams) and I think that someone other than 3DN performed it (as with most of the songs for the soundtrack).

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  16. alex said on May 6, 2006 at 1:58 pm

    Danny, that whole album conjures up fantastic memories of times and places. It’s also one of the few that gets almost universally applauded by people of all ages when I play it. Another is a Blood, Sweat and Tears compilation I picked up. These bands were truly original and daring in a way that few are today.

    BTW, I went and saw 3DN when they performed here maybe two years ago now. They were down to two-part harmony — one of the guys is unfortunately lost to drug addiction, or so I read somewhere — but they still sounded fantastic. Few acts as old as theirs can carry it off so well.

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  17. harry near indy said on May 7, 2006 at 1:32 am

    danny, i have this recommendation for a live three dog night album. they recorded one where they played at the forum (not in los angeles but in inglewood), and had a great version of the band song chest fever. that’s all i remember of it now. i don’t even know if it’s out on cd.

    and nancy, i’m trying to think of a reply. i’ll get back with you on that.

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  18. ashley said on May 7, 2006 at 11:56 am

    According to the WaPo story, Earl Woods wanted Tiger “to be a good person”.

    Too bad he utterly and completely failed.

    Like how Tiger “took time off to be with his father”, when he was actually racing cars and bungee jumping.

    And how the piece of shit (sorry, NIKE shit) couldn’t show up in New Orleans for the golf tournament there.

    Remeber that Buick commercial where he was driving around the French Quarter? Well, he wasn’t. All CGI. He’s probably afraid of being around black people, probably never been to New Orleans.

    Why doesn’t he just change his name to Nike, and cut the bullshit. He should have been in New Orleans as an ambassador of his sport. Well, he’s an ambassador of greed, an ambassador of all that’s wrong with golf. Fuck off and die, Eldrick. Maybe they’ll bury you in a Nike-logo’d casket.

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  19. Danny said on May 7, 2006 at 1:44 pm

    Wow, Ashley. You are not gifted in understatement. Hee Hee.

    Maybe they’ll bury you in a Nike-logo’d casket.

    Glad I was not drinking anything when I read that! 🙂

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  20. Danny said on May 7, 2006 at 1:47 pm

    Harry, thanks. About how long ago was that and were they with a symphony? Because I see some recent live stuff where they were with symphonies. I’m actually thinking thtat their material would not go well with a symphonic treatment, but I could be wrong.

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  21. harry near indy said on May 7, 2006 at 8:08 pm

    danny, the concert was in the late ’60s, when they were big. it was the three singers, and their backing group — a guitarist, drummer, bass player and organist.

    iirc, it was on the dunhill label, which was a subsidiary of abc. dunhill, btw, was the label of the mamas and the papas.

    i think universal music has the rights to their recordings now. as for a reissue, i don’t know about that or how to get it.

    i enjoyed them, even though they aren’t as rock and roll as, say, the who or the rolling stones. they’re a solid representation of the groups and bands who make up the playlists of those radio stations with the solid gold format, like the four seasons or motown.

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