Tag Archives: GQ

Why and who we forgive…

This passage from a recent GQ piece by Andrew Corsello raises compelling issues.

… I am a separating kind of guy. To me, Jefferson’s slave-owning and -impregnating tarnishes him, but not the Declaration. Eliot’s anti-Semitism bothers me but doesn’t inform my reading of “Four Quartets.” These separations have always brought a vague assurance that I was being intellectually steely and that anyone who insisted otherwise was soppy, lazy, even dishonest—willingly viewing the world through lenses tinted with personal politics.

And yet… Though I won’t be boycotting Woody Allen fılms, when a friend asked how I’d respond if Michael Vick or Richie Incognito were traded to my beloved Denver Broncos, I realized: I’d flip. And yell: “We can’t allow that taint in our locker room!”

Yeah, I know.

Know what? Corsello continues for another few hundred words but he never addresses the larger issue. Why is he able to view Thomas Jefferson as a visionary rather than simply a slave-owning rapist (slaves cannot give consent, so don’t even start)? Why is treating human beings like dogs more historically tolerable than treating dogs like, well, how the U.S. military treats it soldiers?

And this is not just about whether you can laugh at Annie Hall. It speaks to who and why we extend our empathy. This goes to our criminal justice system (we saw just a peek of it with George Zimmerman and Marissa Alexander). This sadly occurs in our own schools (believe me, from experience). It speaks to the collective ability of the mainstream to separate certain people from the mistakes while viewing others only as their mistakes.

This requires soul-searching not shoulder-shrugging.

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Posted by on April 23, 2014 in Pop Life


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The Famous Celebrity Interview…

The only Famous Celebrity Interview you’ll ever need to read.

I am a writer who specializes in Famous Celebrity interviews. You are not interested in me but this feature will be in first person anyway. Famous Celebrity has agreed to meet me someplace in New York or Los Angeles that Famous Celebrity’s publicist believes will further the illusion of Famous Celebrity’s normality. Famous Celebrity is late, so I will share with you how I occupy my time while waiting for Famous Celebrity.

If we are meeting at a restaurant, I will describe it in every hip detail. If we are someplace else, I will make obvious comments about the people around me. You are not interested in this but I believe it adds color to my Famous Celebrity interview.

Famous Celebrity eventually arrives with an excuse intended to further underscore Famous Celebrity’s normality. If we are in New York, Famous Celebrity had trouble getting a cab or better yet was stuck on the subway with a sick passenger. If we are in L.A., Famous Celebrity was stuck in traffic. See, Famous Celebrity takes NYC public transportation or drives Famous Celebrity’s own car in L.A. If Famous Celebrity doesn’t do this, it’s because Famous Celebrity’s oppressive fame has robbed Famous Celebrity of the pleasures of sitting next to a strange person on the subway who smells lke urine or not moving for hours in rush-hour traffic.

Here is where I describe what Famous Celebrity looks like, even though Famous Celebrity is famous so you probably already know. Famous Celebrity is dressed casually so my description will serve as a counterpoint to the pictures by Famous Celebrity Photographer that accompany the article. If Famous Celebrity is female, the sexy photos of her wearing barely nothing will seem especially ironic as Famous Celebrity will make a point of commenting on how she is actually quite shy and does not feel sexy. My description of Famous Celebrity will include quotes from other articles about Famous Celebrity. My only original contribution is to state that these quotes are both true and yet not true.

If we are at a restaurant, Famous Celebrity orders a meal, which I describe in every possible Food Network detail because it is news to you that Famous Celebrity survives by consuming calories to replace the ones that Famous Celebrity expends during the course of the day. I also describe what I’m eating because I am part of this story.

A fan approaches Famous Celebrity and Famous Celebrity is quite gracious. I believe this is how Famous Celebrity always is because I can’t imagine Famous Celebrity’s behavior altering due to the presence of a writer for a national magazine. Famous Celebrity makes a living performing for people but I know that Famous Celebrity is the real deal during our meeting because Famous Celebrity could never fool me, a journalist.

If we are in New York, Famous Celebrity tells me how at home Famous Celebrity feels in the city. Famous Celebrity is not in New York often but has an apartment here in a trendy neighborhood. Famous Celebrity offers to take me on a tour of Famous Celebrity’s favorite spots in the neighborhood. If we are in Los Angeles, Famous Celebrity takes me on a drive in Famous Celebrity’s very expensive car. If Famous Celebrity is male, the car is possibly one that he collects and restored. If Famous Celebrity is female, she will have trouble finding things in the car, which I will find adorable. If Famous Celebrity is of the opposite sex, Famous Celebrity makes me feel as if we’re on a date. If Famous Celebrity is the same sex, Famous Celebrity makes me feel like we’re buddies. If Famous Celebrity is gay, Famous Celebrity does not talk about it.

At some point, I pull out my tape recorder or notebook, depending on how retro I am. I also mention that I’m doing this so that you remember that I’m a reporter. It’s possible you forgot when I described getting a mani-pedi with Famous Celebrity or sampling local beers at Famous Celebrity’s favorite microbrewery.

I then get tough with Famous Celebrity — I am a journalist, after all — and inquire about Famous Celebrity’s Famous Celebrity Scandal. Famous Celebrity is pensive, caught off guard by my probing questions, but recovers in time to repeat what Famous Celebrity carefully rehearsed with Famous Celebrity’s publicist.

“What people don’t understand,” Famous Celebrity says, “is that the situation is far more complicated than the media makes it out to be.”

Although I am part of the media, I know that Famous Celebrity does not consider me part of the media that Famous Celebrity dislikes. I know this because Famous Celebrity and I are on a date or are buddies hanging out together.

Famous Celebrity does not enjoy the celebrity culture. Famous Celebrity’s famous celebrity friends, who I also interview and who Famous Celebrity refers to by their first names, tell me how not a part of that culture Famous Celebrity is. Famous Celebrity just wants to do Famous Celebrity’s job. Although these interviews are technically part of that job, Famous Celebrity wants to just do Famous Celebrity’s job without the interviews, as the lunches at fancy NY restaurants and drives down the California coastline at sunset are as tedious as your job’s Monday morning budget meetings are for you. We joke a bit about some of the dumb things Famous Celebrity has been asked in previous interviews. I know that I’ve not asked Famous Celebrity anything that Famous Celebrity will later joke about with another writer.

I realize the whole point of the interview is to promote Famous Celebrity’s current project. However, writing this interview like a short story is what separates me from the guys who work in advertising. I am a creative person, just like Famous Celebrity. During our date or time hanging out, we discuss creative things and I believe Famous Celebrity gets me and gets that I get Famous Celebrity.

Famous Celebrity feels a bit trapped in the business and after Famous Celebrity’s next high-paying project, Famous Celebrity will take some time off — maybe start a family because that’s something people can only really do when not working. If Famous Celebrity already has a family, Famous Celebrity will comment on how being a parent has changed Famous Celebrity.

Famous Celebrity might also run for political office or do some work for the U.N. because Famous Celebrity has opinions that are similar to yours but are also unique because Famous Celebrity is famous and has met the president.

After our time together has ended, Famous Celebrity contacts me a few days later to clarify a point Famous Celebrity had made. It is especially cool if Famous Celebrity calls because Famous Celebrity remembered the ingredient in a recipe Famous Celebrity and I had discussed. I like including this part because it reinforces that Famous Celebrity has my phone number.

Sometimes Famous Celebrity contacts me to ask that I not print an offhand comment Famous Celebrity made. The statement has no news value and I probably wouldn’t have included it anyway. However, now I must because Famous Celebrity asked me to remove it and I am a journalist.


Posted by on December 27, 2011 in Pop Life, Social Commentary


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Recurring Feature: Herman Cain says more things that don’t make sense…

I neglected to include this gem in my previous piece on Herman Cain’s recent GQ interview:

CAIN:… I grew up in the South during the civil rights movement. The Democrats co-opted the credit for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But if you go back and look at the history, a larger percentage of Republicans voted for that than did Democrats. But a Democrat president signed it, so they co-opted credit for having passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

This would make sense if you ignored history — just as Godfather’s Pizza would be the best in the country if you excluded pizzas from New York, Chicago, and California. Oh, and Domino’s, Little Caesars, Pizza Hut, and DiGiorno.

From the actual Congressional vote:

Of the 420 members who voted, 290 supported the civil rights bill and 130 opposed it. Republicans favored the bill 138 to 34; Democrats supported it 152-96. It is interesting to note that Democrats from northern states voted overwhelmingly for the bill, 141 to 4, while Democrats from southern states voted overwhelmingly against the bill, 92 to 11.

It is also disingenuous for Cain to compare the Republicans of the 1960s to the Tea-Party-co-opted far-right group of today. The Rockefeller Republicans are no more. Much of this was due to Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” of 1968 — “efforts to use race as a wedge issue — on matters such as desegregation and busing — to appeal to white southern voters,” for which then-Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman actually apologized.

“By the ’70s and into the ’80s and ’90s, the Democratic Party solidified its gains in the African American community, and we Republicans did not effectively reach out,” Mehlman says in his prepared text. “Some Republicans gave up on winning the African American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization. I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong.”

To borrow from the Godfather of Soul, the Godfather of Pizza insists on “talking loud and saying nothing.”

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Posted by on November 14, 2011 in Political Theatre


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It’s Official: Herman Cain Is a Jerk…

Presidential candidate Herman Cain apparently confused GQ with Maxim given his comments in a recent interview with the men’s magazine.

Chris Heath: What can you tell about a man by the type of pizza that he likes?

Herman Cain: [repeats the question aloud, then pauses for a long moment] The more toppings a man has on his pizza, I believe the more manly he is.

Chris Heath: Why is that?

Herman Cain: Because the more manly man is not afraid of abundance. [laughs]

Devin Gordon: Is that purely a meat question?

Herman Cain: A manly man don’t want it piled high with vegetables! He would call that a sissy pizza.

According to Cain, a manly man also hasn’t had a bowel movement since 1978. I might not question the motives of someone else who used the word “sissy” in the 21st Century but I’m less inclined to do so in Cain’s case, given his statements on gays.

(By the way, this Piers Morgan interview with Cain makes me smile wider than Marilyn in “Bus Stop.”)

Chris Heath: Why do you think that most black Americans traditionally vote Democrat?

Herman Cain: The reason is because many of them are discouraged to even consider an idea or a candidate that’s not Democrat. They are brainwashed to not consider an alternative idea if they perceive you as a Republican.

Chris Heath: Who’s doing the brainwashing?

Herman Cain: The Democrats.

If Democrats are capable of brainwashing on this scale, then how did they lose the House in 2010? Why haven’t they conquered Poland? Is Cain’s plan to woo the black vote to state that we are feeble-minded buffoons who Democrats have manipulated for almost 50 years? That makes as much sense as selecting “Move Bitch (Get Out the Way)” as your wedding song.

Could Cain consider for a moment that Republican policies — not just on civil rights but on social programs that would disproportionately impact minorities — might play some factor in the party’s inability to effectively reach black voters? Or perhaps blacks don’t enjoy ads like this:

Or this:

Once done insulting blacks, Cain stated that if fellow candidate Michele Bachmann was an ice-cream flavor, she’d be “tutti-frutti.” Classy.

Devin Gordon: Do you think that there is a greater tendency among the Muslim faith for … extremism?

Herman Cain: That would be a judgment call that I’m probably not qualified to make, because I can’t speak on behalf of the entire Muslim community. I have talked with Muslims that are peaceful Muslims. And I have had one very well known Muslim voice say to me directly that a majority of Muslims share the extremist views.

Chris Heath: A majority?

Herman Cain: Yes, a majority.

Devin Gordon: Do you think he’s right?

Herman Cain: Yes, because that’s his community. That’s his community. I can’t tell you his name, but he is a very prominent voice in the Muslim community, and he said that.

Chris Heath: I just find that hard to believe.

Herman Cain: I find it hard to believe.

Chris Heath: But you’re believing it?

Herman Cain: Yes, because of the respect that I have for this individual. Because when he told me this, he said he wouldn’t want to be quoted or identified as having said that.

Alan Richman: Are you talking about the Muslim community in America? Or the world?

Herman Cain: America. America.

This is the sort of thing that makes me wish Rachel Maddow was right and the Cain campaign is just a “performance art project.”

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Posted by on November 14, 2011 in Political Theatre


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Recurring Feature (at least until I tire of it): “What’s the point of this?”…

Recurring Feature (at least until I tire of it): “What’s the point of this?”…

Community’s Alison Brie and Gillian Jacobs’s Lesbian Lingerie Shoot for GQ: Movies + TV: GQ.

So, a male writer and a male photographer get together at GQ and ask two professional actresses to dress up in lingerie and simulate a fantasy lesbian scene. What’s the point of this?

A) The actresses are associated with a provocative, boundary-pushing project (e.g. something on Showtime that costs viewers roughly $5 per utterance of the word “fuck” and $10 per appearance of a bare breast).

No, the actresses are from the NBC TV show “Community,” which I have not seen but I presume is not about lipstick lesbians in poses that would make porn stars… well, perhaps not blush but maybe express some degree of confusion. I don’t have any adult film stars on my cell phone favorites, but I’m not sure even they could explain Jacobs’s intent with whatever she’s holding in her left hand (hairbrush? mirror?). Also, is she tugging on Brie’s bra in order to remove it or to prepare to mount her and play naughty jockey?

(This is GQ’s comedy issue. Mila Kunis appears on the cover barely clothed. The men featured in this issue are dressed in attire suitable for a trip to the grocery store without a resulting arrest for solicitation.)

B) The actresses are in fact modeling lingerie (apparently from the Dr. Frank-N-Furter collection).

No, this is not a lingerie ad.

C) There is no point.

There is, however, an accompanying video on the GQ site. The url refers to it as a “lesbian video” but the scene would be at home in conventional straight porn.

I would normally upload a related image with this piece, but instead I will use this photo of two men kissing, which strikes me as more appropriately GQ. The suits are nice.

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Posted by on July 17, 2011 in Pop Life


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