Bare knuckles.

The rest of the world’s eyes are locked on the future, i.e. the throwdown last night on CNN between Obama and Clinton. But the real chuckle for me, this morning, came from yesterday’s news, i.e. Rudy Giuliani, via the NYT. Is he still running for president? Is he still employing that super-crafty tortoise/hare strategy? Because I wonder how this might play in Florida, the land of losers looking for a second chance, old people with the accumulated wisdom of a million lifetimes, hustling sharpies, clamorous immigrants and, of course, O.J. Simpson:

In August 1997, James Schillaci, a rough-hewn chauffeur from the Bronx, dialed Mayor Giuliani’s radio program on WABC-AM to complain about a red-light sting run by the police near the Bronx Zoo. When the call yielded no results, Mr. Schillaci turned to The Daily News, which then ran a photo of the red light and this front page headline: “GOTCHA!”

That morning, police officers appeared on Mr. Schillaci’s doorstep. What are you going to do, Mr. Schillaci asked, arrest me? He was joking, but the officers were not.

They slapped on handcuffs and took him to court on a 13-year-old traffic warrant. A judge threw out the charge. A police spokeswoman later read Mr. Schillaci’s decades-old criminal rap sheet to a reporter for The Daily News, a move of questionable legality because the state restricts how such information is released. She said, falsely, that he had been convicted of sodomy.

Then Mr. Giuliani took up the cudgel.

“Mr. Schillaci was posing as an altruistic whistle-blower,” the mayor told reporters at the time. “Maybe he’s dishonest enough to lie about police officers.”

Mr. Schillaci suffered an emotional breakdown, was briefly hospitalized and later received a $290,000 legal settlement from the city.

The rest of the story suggests that a person would have a better chance of surviving after calling Tony Soprano a faggot pussy in front of his children. Is this a great country, or what?

(Hang on. I have to take out the trash. A new trash hauler arrived in the neighborhood Jan. 1, and their schedule is still a mystery.)

Nothing like a little chore to get your mind off whatever you were writing about before. Oh, right — political payback. For another point of view — on Clinton, not Giuliani, for you forward-thinkers — I can’t say it better than Roy, so read him.

Well, I met my deadline, sorta. A combined 3,000 words of opuses (opii?) are out the door. Someday we’ll have to get some of you other old-skool contract workers in here to talk about the pre-internet days, when making a deadline meant learning the schedule of your local FedEx office. I once white-knuckled it with J.C. while we traveled through the back streets of his Atlanta neighborhood, cornering on two wheels in his Honda to deliver a bunch of slides, or disks, or something, to the people who could absolutely, positively have it there overnight. I work only with words, but remember meeting freelance deadlines with 5-inch floppies, faxes and other 20th-century technology, and it seemed impossibly sophisticated.

Just last year I had a noon deadline for another big chunk of prose, finished it at 11:58 a.m., IM’d my editor and delivered the MS by dragging it onto his chat icon in my buddy list. The file transfer was complete at 12 noon exactly. I hope to live long enough to file via Vulcan mind meld someday.

Deadline is a drug, though. When it’s done right, it’s better than sex:

Seriously, where else does a woman say to a man “BobbyBobbyBobbyBobbyBobby?” Note, also, that the clip is 84 seconds long, and Joan Cusack says, “In 84 seconds?!?”

And now it’s the last day of a four-day weekend. Grosse Pointe tacked an in-service day onto the King holiday. The motto of this district should be, “Accommodating the ski-vacation plans of the affluent family since Henry Ford was a pup.”

No bloggage for you today, alas. At some point in the next 24 hours I’ll get my Wireblogging up to date, but there’s certainly other stuff to enjoy over at The New Package. I’ll be back later, perhaps.

Posted at 9:56 am in Current events |

30 responses to “Bare knuckles.”

  1. john c said on January 22, 2008 at 10:22 am

    My one foray into the world of foreign correspondence was three weeks in Ireland and Northern Ireland for the run-up to the 1998 peace referendum. I travelled with a photographer. And every day she had to find someone to develop her film, and then someone with the AP equipment to transmit the images electronically. This was easy in Dublin and Belfast, of course. We just used the big papers. At other times, though, we had noirish hand-offs in tiny little villages. There was at least one time when she gave her film to a guy on a bike. All I needed to transmit was a modern phone line. This was not readily available everywhere we stayed. I filed one story from a 17th century wine cellar (it’s where the Longueville House kept their fax machine.) Now, I’m quite sure, reporters file in seconds from their blackberrys.
    Loved the clip, by the way. Albert Brooks’ “I buried the lead” monologue is a great moment in that flick as well.

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  2. Dorothy said on January 22, 2008 at 10:31 am

    Don’t even need to click on the link – I’d know that scene from “Broadcast News” anywhere!

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  3. virgotex said on January 22, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Nice segue between Tony Soprano and trash hauling.

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  4. Julie Robinson said on January 22, 2008 at 10:42 am

    OMG, I had an outfit almost like Joan Cusack’s, down to the white pantyhose. What were we thinking?

    My Dad was a photographer and journalist who worked mostly in radio. But he always took photos and we had a darkroom in the basement. He used to charge a local company $50 a roll to develop slides overnight. Pure gravy. They thought they were getting a good deal and probably would have paid more. Of course, they eventually went out of business, partly because they never controlled spending.

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  5. nancy said on January 22, 2008 at 11:13 am

    John C., remember the Xerox telecopier? Hunter Thompson filed his 1972 campaign coverage via that device, called it the “mojo wire.” We had one in the newsroom in Columbus, and it always seemed to be receiving something, but I never knew what. It transmitted at the blistering pace of seven minutes per page.

    Oh, and Vince tells a pretty good story about covering the legislature for TV in Kansas, where they transferred tape by hanging out at a toll-booth plaza and asking random drivers if they’d deliver it to the station. Because this was the honest heartland, in his whole stretch there, they only lost one tape.

    And Julie, I don’t think women ever have to apologize for out-of-date fashion. Everybody makes fun of the ’70s, but I’d like to see the hands of every man who thought Sharon Stone wasn’t a stone fox in those Pucci jumpsuits in “Casino.” Yeah, thought so. If it looked good at the time, no regrets. (Said the woman who once had a curly perm, horn-rim aviator glasses and jeans tucked into Frye boots with fold-over leg warmers. What was I thinking? That I looked good.)

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  6. Sue said on January 22, 2008 at 11:40 am

    Of course you looked good, Nancy! And so did Julie. And so did I. I wanted to look just like Mary Richards. And once I got over mourning the loss of bellbottoms, I came to like those tight, tight (non-designer) jeans. Today’s young whippersnappers are going to cringe in twenty years as they see pictures of themselves with bra straps and butt cracks showing, Abercrombie and Fitch plastered all over everything. Then they will notice that their hand-sized tattoos are migrating like a glacier along their middle-age spread. And their kids will laugh at them. So goes the world.

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  7. john c said on January 22, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    What Nancy said. Never apologize for fashion choices that looked good at the time. Think of the young gals of today. Looking at an old pic in, say, 2020, they’ll think: “Why did I get Bacardi bat tattooed on my arm?” Only instead of having a sheepish grin, like we do when we look at our bad hair and funky clothes, they will be looking at … that Bacardi bat tatooed on their arm.

    And Nancy .. I also remember the Radio Shack TR-80, I think it was called. We called them Trash 80s. I remember they took a long time to catch up to my typing, and that the screen only had room for about three lines of type. And they also had those phone couplers to send stories.

    Oh and I remember darkrooms. Being a happily married middle aged man I will leave it at that. I’ll just say that when you put a group of young men and women in their 20s together working long hours for little pay, often late into the night when all the grown-ups have gone home, the occasional pair will emerge from a darkroom “properly tussled” as my friend Dave used to say.

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  8. Cathy D. said on January 22, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    TRS-80s. Used 8-inch floppy drives. The one I worked on had four bays for them. No hard drive.

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  9. Julie Robinson said on January 22, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    The scary thing is that I could still achieve that hairstyle just by growing it out. Frizzy curly perm is what the good Lord gave me.

    I spent a fair amount of time with my Dad in the darkroom, but not like John c said. Watching him experiment with photo exposure techniques and the magical moment the pictures came to life in the chemical trays was endlessly fascinating. Will today’s youth reminisce about watching Mom & Dad manipulate Photoshop?

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  10. beb said on January 22, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    When you say deadlines are like sex does that mean you roll over and fall asleep two milliseconds after hitting “Send?”

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  11. Jeff said on January 22, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Or the Commodore PET with the external drive that was basically a cassette tape player . . . and it was portable!

    And while i have no tattoos, my herniated discs are migrating across their vertebrae as fast as that Bacardi bat, and i blame those PETs and TRaSh 80s and Compaq cinder blocks in no small part.

    Julie, did your dad have one of those tabletop darkrooms where two gasketed sleeves on either side let you strip the rolls and mount them on the developing reels, before you dropped the loaded reel in the chemical shaker? I thought i was learning a skill i’d use forever, and i haven’t done it since 1993.

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  12. Dorothy said on January 22, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    My dad had a darkroom, too, but he didn’t do his own slides. That’s what Wonday Film Service in Wilkinsburg was for. I still remember how great that place smelled when he’d hand me a $10 and ask me to pick up his order when I was headed to the library. If I close my eyes I can still see the glass display cases and the great, oversized pictures (smiling baby! gorgeous mountainside! boat in the water!) up on the walls, and of course I’ll never forget that great smell!

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  13. Julie Robinson said on January 22, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Oh yes, the cocktail shaker. It was all so wonderfully chemically-laden. I shudder to think where those ended up, since we were on a well. Such innocent times–we also had a burning barrel, which was a great outlet for any budding pyromaniacs. Playing in chemicals, playing with flames, and yet it seemed idyllic at the time.

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  14. Peter said on January 22, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    Dorothy, that was a great smell, but can anything beat the smell from a mimeograph? When I was in grade school and they handed out tests, I would just take that baby to my nose and breath it in! Oh yeah!

    Our school had a very old nun who ran the machine, and instead of using a counter would say a prayer – a Hail Mary was good for so many copies, an Our Father for a few more, but sometimes the fumes got to her and she’d crank out a ream by mistake.

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  15. Julie Robinson said on January 22, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    They should make it into a perfume. Creative names, anyone?

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  16. Danny said on January 22, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    “Industrial Accident”

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  17. 4dbirds said on January 22, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    Frye boots will never go out of style.

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  18. Kirk said on January 22, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    “Multiple Choice”

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  19. Danny said on January 22, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Funny, Kirk!

    How about, “Copy Girl.”

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  20. Dorothy said on January 22, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    Ahh yes, the purple mimeograph ink and it’s wonderful odor! Wonder if they make air fresheners for cars out of that?

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  21. john c said on January 22, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    btw … Eric Zorn has an interesting take on the Obama-Clinton dust-up. Go to the Chicago Tribune website and you can find him. Essentially he says – and shows, with the transcripts – that the Clintons are lying about Barak’s statements on reagan.

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  22. alex said on January 22, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    I used to love the mimeograph smell. Old photostat machines spat out some weird-smelling stuff as well. Always made my eyes burn, though.

    And I miss the darkroom. I could lose all sense of time in there, forget that I hadn’t eaten in days. People always thought I had hematomas inside my fingernails but it was just from not wearing rubber gloves when dipping into the chemicals.

    Best olfactory reminiscence: When I went to Eastern Europe in 1991 after the fall of the Berlin wall. Leaded gasoline vapors everywhere — the kind that blurred your view of anything greater than twenty feet away — and oh the smell. Mixed of course with eau de pork lard emanating from eateries.

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  23. joodyb said on January 22, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    What about ‘Sal Mimeo’?

    Fryes are very much back in style, or at least they were.

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  24. michaelj said on January 22, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    Is it possible that anybody didn’t see Reggie Jackson cheat like a bastard by sticking his ass in the way, in the outfield, in the 1977 World Series? He cheated his ass off. Game over. If you cheat, you win. That’d be the Yankee’s way.

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  25. michaelj said on January 22, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    All holding, all the time. That would be the Pats. Some of us actually played football. What’s going on here is strange.

    What I think is Pat’s japped on Robert Edwards. He was franchise running back, and they bailed when he got hurt. They claimed they’d stand behind him. They stabbed him in the back.

    The Pat’s are revolting.

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  26. michaelj said on January 23, 2008 at 12:47 am

    So Rudy’s an unmitigated thug and a creep. He thinks Bernie Kerik will keep us safe. Hucksterbee thinks we should alter the Constitution to make it more like what, I don’t know, Kit Marlowe thought it ought to be like. Who wrote the King James, you dumbass?

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  27. michaelj said on January 23, 2008 at 7:14 am

    Who let the dog’s out. It takes a village of idiots to consider what the GOP has to offer.

    When five minutes of moderately contentious debate causes the NYT to call it a racial catfight when the other hour and 55 minutes dealt with issues, Ko,,issar Karl would seem to have won. But, you know, John McCain has a black lovechild, and the Southern strategy isn’t the foundation of Republican politics, and Hucksterbee didn’t talkabout the battle flag in glowing terms.
    I live in South Carolina, and this flag crap pisses me off big time. Who’s this born-again jagoff to come down here and try to start some crap up he knows nothing about? He thinks he’s Ron Raygun, and my whole state is Neshoba County, Missippii. Heritage? Try the actual Stars and Bars, instead of the Battle flag ya’ll let be coopted by skinheads and hoodlums. These people are racist numbnuts, and that seems to characterise Republican voters in general, along with their full slate of pretzeldential hopefuls.

    Clinton, Obama, Edwards, Kucinich. Damn sight better than the wackjobs and dangerous little Mussolinis the Republican Party proposes.

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  28. Danny said on January 23, 2008 at 11:46 am

    As a conservative, I agree with everything you wrote except that there is no way that Edwards or Kucinich are better.

    And the best I can say about Clinton is at least it’ll be fun watching her screw everything up even further. It’s a given things are going to get worse. Might as well let the pendulum swing back and it be on her watch. “Pendulumn swing” is actually a bit of hyperbole because probably most are seeing that there isn’t a dime bit of difference between the two parties at this point.

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  29. beb said on January 23, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    I hate to be pedantic but…..

    Mimeograph is an oil based stenciling process. What most people are remembering is the spirit duplicator, or ditto machine, It was called a spirit duplicatpr because it used mineral spirits to dissolve a fractor of a waxy impression from the master and transfer it to the paper. The only difference between sniffing ditto fluid and sniffing airplane cement was that you couldn’t buy airplane cement in gallon containers.

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  30. Danny said on January 23, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    The only difference between sniffing ditto fluid and sniffing airplane cement was that you couldn’t buy airplane cement in gallon containers.

    Which explains a lot of our fond remeniscences.

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