Mitt Romney: U.S. Senate Hopeful, U.S. Senate Huckster (2)

Second in what we expect will be an endless series

In his three-day-old journey to become the junior – at 70! – senator from Utah, Mitt Romney (R-Wherever) has already solidified his bid to represent the merchandising wing of the Republican Party.

Yesterday the hardworking staff noted Romney’s bumper sticker pitch. Now comes Mitt’s t-shirt position.

Once again we ask: Isn’t this a bit lowbrow, Mitt?

Surely you can afford to take the high road – especially since you’d be the second politician in U.S. history to serve as the governor of one state and the senator from another.

Then again, given the current political climate, bring on the travel mugs (and remember good old Seamus).

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Mitt Romney: U.S. Senate Hopeful, U.S. Senate Huckster

Well, that didn’t take long.

Yesterday Mitt Romney (R-Wherever) threw his top hat into the Utah Senate race with this tweet.

And, apparently, to sell some merchandise, because about five minutes later this email landed in the hardworking staff’s inbox.

(To be sure graf goes here)

To be sure, that sort of pitch is campaign business as usual and perfectly in keeping with Romney’s announcement that “[if] you give me this opportunity, I will owe the Senate seat to no one but the people of Utah. No donor, no corporation will own my campaign or bias my vote.”

That’s great, but c’mon, Mitt – do you really need ten bucks from schlubs like us to fuel your all-but-inevitable victory? The cost of this race would be lunch money to you. Why not do something truly radical and zip-zone those stickers to every Utah resident on your own dime?

That would totally “serve Utahns”- which is quite possibly the most awkward state designation ever.

And that, you have to adMitt, is just so Romney.

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David St. Hubbins Was Way Out Front the Current Curling Craze

If you splendid readers have any doubts that curling is all the rage among Olympic sports, this Kansas City Star piece by Pete Granthoff should quell them.

Mr. T loves watching Olympic curling. ‘You heard me, curling Fool!’

Like clockwork, the sport of curling gets its moment in the spotlight every four years . . .

For example: Mr. T, the star of “Rocky III” and “The A-Team” tweeted about the sport.


We pity the person who tries to top that.

But Jason Gay’s column in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal actually does, as he extols curling outfits.

You probably watch curling for the feats of athleticism, but I watch it for the style, and curling has had a surprisingly large number of style highlights. The Norwegian curling team has revolutionized party pants. Team USA curler Matt Hamilton’s mustache could basically be the Wisconsin state flag.

But the OAR curling outfits are slick. Black and white, slim cut, with the OAR circle logo over the left breast—it’s reminiscent of early Helmut Lang, or Hedi Slimane’s influential run at Dior Homme. Yes, you’re reading an article in the sports section, but stay with me. It’s conspicuously good clothing—you’d wear this stuff. I, on the other hand, would probably have to stop eating pizza for a year.

Then again, nothing tops ESPN’s classic spot featuring Spinal Tap’s immortal David St. Hubbins creating theme music for SportsCenter.



Let’s all go bloody curling, indeed.

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Where in the World Is Janet Langhart? Back on Tour with Anne Frank & Emmett Till

The hardworking staff is certain you splendid readers remember Janet Langhart  (currently Janet Langhart Cohen), whose Boston resumé includes a 1981 stint on WCVB’s “Five All Night” with Matt Siegel – and a bonus Robin Young cameo (at 3:57).



Fast-forward to the other week and here’s Langhart Cohen in the New York Times.

As it happens, the play isn’t new – only the ad is.

Here’s Morgan Freeman touting the play six years ago.



Lots more Frank & Till material here.

No big message here – just thought you’d be interested to know that Janet Langhart Cohen is back in, well, play.

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Dead Blogging ‘Georgia O’Keeffe’ at Peabody Essex Museum

Well the Missus and I trundled up to Salem the other day to catch Georgia O’Keeffe: Art, Image, Style at the Peabody Essex Museum and, say, it was swell.

(Full disclosure: Neither of us is all that crazy about O’Keeffe’s skull ‘n’ bones New Mexico paintings. We much prefer her earlier work, as exhibited in the 2009 Circles of Influence show at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute.)

Regardless . . .

Georgia O’Keeffe: Art, Image, Style is the first exhibition to explore the art, image and personal style of one of America’s most iconic artists. O’Keeffe’s understated and carefully designed garments, many never before exhibited, are presented alongside photographs and her paintings, illuminating O’Keeffe’s unified modernist aesthetic and distinctive self-styling. For more than 70 years, O’Keeffe shaped her public persona, defied labels and carved out a truly progressive, independent life in order to create her art. Her aesthetic legacy — compact masses, organic silhouettes, minimal ornamentation, and restrained color palettes — continues to capture the popular imagination and inspire leading designers and tastemakers of our day.

As for O’Keefe’s earlier work, the exhibit has some excellent examples. Representative sample:

Georgia O’Keefe: Art, Image, Style runs through April 1. Well worth the trip.

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Sacklers Buy More ‘Adulgences’ for Triggering the Opioid Crisis

As the hardtsking staff has previously noted, there’s ample evidence that the fabulously wealthy Sackler family, which unleashed OxyContin on an unsuspecting American public, played a key role in the country’s current opioid crisis.

And yet . . .

Their pharmaceutical company, Purdue Pharma, continues to run full-page newspaper ads – like this one in yesterday’s New York Times – pretending to give a damn.

As Christopher Glazek wrote in his recent Esquire piece, “By any assessment, the family’s leaders have pulled off three of the great marketing triumphs of the modern era: The first is selling OxyContin; the second is promoting the Sackler name; and the third is ensuring that, as far as the public is aware, the first and the second have nothing to do with one another.”

(To be sure graf goes here)

To be sure, the Sackler family has experienced some blowback lately, most notably from photographer Nan Goldin, a recovering opioid addict.

Whether that can outweigh the millions of dollars Purdue Pharma is spending on full-page ads in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal is anyone’s guess.

Just keep in mind: The untold millions of indulgences the Roman Catholic Church sold during medieval times resulted in 1) spectacular cathedrals all across Europe, and 2) the Protestant Reformation.

We, however, lack faith that Purdue’s adulgences will result in any kind of reform.

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Strange Adfellows for Net Neutrality: AT&T and . . . Burger King?

As the rumpus over the fate of net neutrality continues, it’s not just 21 states and the District of Columbia pushing back against the FCC decision to neuter neutrality. It’s also advertisers.

Exhibit AT&T: This full-page ad that’s been running in major U.S. newspapers from the Washington Post to the New York Times.

Nuts ‘n’ bolts graf:

Congressional action is needed to establish an “Internet Bill of Rights” that applies to all internet companies and guarantees neutrality, transparency, openness, non-discrimination and privacy protection for all internet users.

There are two schools of thought about AT&T’s campaign.

First up: Deven Coldewey at TechCrunch says “AT&T’s ‘Internet Bill of Rights’ idea is just a power play against Google and Facebook.”

This is a clever play by AT&T aimed not at protecting users, but kneecapping edge providers like Facebook and Google. It’s like the fox calling for a henhouse bill of rights.

Full disclosure: The headscratching staff has no idea what that means. But this might help.

[W]hat really gets [AT&T’s] goat is the runaway success of edge providers — that is to say, internet companies like Facebook, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and so on. The idea that these major companies, which handle all this personal data and are so critical to users of the web, have escaped serious regulation while ISPs are closely watched, this rankles the latter group to their core.

Got it.

Then there’s Rhett Jones at Gizmodo.

AT&T Is Full of Shit With Its Full-Page Net Neutrality Ads

Big telecom companies spent millions of dollars lobbying against the net neutrality protections that keep the web free and open. Since their victory, they all seem to want to reinstate net neutrality—on their own terms. On Wednesday, AT&T threw its weight behind legislation for an “Internet Bill of Rights” with full-page ads in major newspapers, and it’s adding a twist to the usual talking points.

Following the repeal of Title II protections for the internet by the FCC in December, there’s been a public outcry that hasn’t gone unnoticed by lawmakers and telecoms. AT&T is just the latest company to flamboyantly proclaim that it loves net neutrality, despite the fact that the Sunlight Foundation reported it tied as the top spender trying to kill the regulations.

Okay, so maybe that’s just one school of thought.

Meanwhile, Burger King is running a net neutrality campaign that’s full of . . . what?

Karlene Lukovitz at MediaPost provides the background.

BK exposed some real, unsuspecting customers at one of its locations to a staged scenario in which they were told that they would have to pay different prices for a Whopper based on how quickly the burger was given to them (the “MBPS,” or “Making Burgers Per Second” speed).

A “slow MBPS Whopper” cost $4.99, a “fast” one cost $12.99, and a “hyperfast” one cost a whopping $25.99.

The spot:


As for why a fast-food chain would weigh in on a potential slow-feed internet, Fernando Machado, BK’s global chief marketing officer, said this.

The repeal of net neutrality is a hot topic in America, but it can be difficult to understand. We believe the internet should be like Burger King restaurants, a place that doesn’t prioritize and welcomes everyone.

Hot and juicy, yeah?

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Donald Trump’s Hooded Father Got Busted at a 1927 Klan Riot

From our Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree desk

As the world wonders whether the president of the United Staes is a racist, the hardworking staff was reminded of Adam Hochschild’s piece in the New York Review of Books last month, which analyzed The Second Coming of the KKK: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the American Political Tradition by Linda Gordon and Ku Klux Kulture: America and the Klan in the 1920s by Felix Harcourt.

In particular, this last paragraph.

[Gordon] ends her book by writing, “The Klannish spirit—fearful, angry, gullible to sensationalist falsehoods, in thrall to demagogic leaders and abusive language, hostile to science and intellectuals, committed to the dream that everyone can be a success in business if they only try—lives on.” One intriguing episode links the Klan of ninety years ago to us now. On Memorial Day 1927, a march of some one thousand Klansmen through the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, New York, turned into a brawl with the police. Several people wearing Klan hoods, either marching in the parade or sympathizers cheering from the sidelines, were charged with disorderly conduct, and one with “refusing to disperse.” Although the charge against the latter was later dropped, his name was mentioned in several newspaper accounts of the fracas. Beneath the hood was Fred Trump, the father of Donald.*

About that asterisk:

Mike Pearl’s Vice piece stated that “Newspaper clips obtained by VICE suggest the Republican frontrunner’s father may have worn the robe and hood of a Klansman in 1927.”

But is less certain, saying “A 1927 New York Times article about KKK arrests mentioned Donald Trump’s father Fred, but the reporting was vague and inconclusive.”

That fifth graf below looks pretty conclusive to us.

The Snopes piece has Trump the Younger denying that the family ever lived on Devonshire Road, but that denial – wait for it – is not true.

(To be sure graf goes here)

To be sure, most of this was chewed over during the 2016 presidential campaign, although it never seemed to get very far up on the radar screen.

So we thought now was a good time to remind everyone.


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WSJ and NYT Agree: John Lithgow Totally Gets Ring Lardner

For years now, the hardworking staff has expressed not fulsome (which means “effusive, excessive, or insincere praise”) but full-throated admiration for the work of Ring Lardner, who is either a minor major 20th century American writer or a major minor 20th century American writer, depending on how you hold him up to the light.

Regardless, John Lithgow’s current one-man Broadway production, Stories by Heart, revolves around two short stories, one of them by Lardner, along with Lithgow’s reminiscences of his father, who read the stories to him as a child.

First up is Lardner’s “Haircut,” as Jesse Green’s New York Times review notes.

Let Me Tell You A Story

Check, check,” goes the razor. “Scha, scha, scha,” goes the strop.

But there is no razor; there is no strop.

The only thing making noise onstage during John Lithgow’s “Stories by Heart,” which opened Thursday evening at the American Airlines Theater, is Mr. Lithgow himself. Reciting Ring Lardner’s 1925 short story “Haircut,” set in a small-town barbershop in the Midwest, he brings an anthropologist’s specificity (and a Foley artist’s ingenuity) to every swoop of the apron and slap of the pomade that accompanies the main character’s monologue.

Green goes on to say, “the two stories that Mr. Lithgow recites — “Haircut” in the first act and P. G. Wodehouse’s “Uncle Fred Flits By” in the second — are superb, outlandish and, in very different ways, hair-raising.” He further describes the former as “a scathing indictment of good-old-boy-ism: the barely civilized tradition of men playing tricks on one another and arranging nasty traps (including marriage) for women.”

That’s all in the Lardner, but Mr. Lithgow adds another emotional channel by showing us how the barber, himself a good old boy, is implicated in the nastiness he pretends only to describe. An astonishing collection of laughs — whinnies, giggles, squeals, snorts, heaves — gradually colors the narrative, until this seemingly harmless man becomes, in effect, not just a witness to savagery, but also an accessory.

Over at the Wall Street Journal, theater critic Terry Teachout says this about Lithgow’s rendition of the Lardner story.

Mr. Lithgow is a paradox, a serious actor with a funny face whose energy is comic. Hence he was born to perform “Haircut,” a cinder-black vignette of small-town life told by a deceptively cheerful barber who is in truth a walking pustule of malice. Lardner’s once-celebrated short stories are no longer widely read, but watching Mr. Lithgow bring “Haircut” to suppurating life made me want to run right out and hunt down a copy of his “How to Write Short Stories—With Samples.”

(We’re lucky enough to have a 1924 version of that cleverly named collection, which, if memory serves us, was the worst-selling book of Ring Lardner’s publishing career.)

As it happens, Lardner also wrote The Big Town: How I and the Mrs. Go to New York to See Life and Get Katie a Husband.

Nice to see he’s made it back.

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We Time’s-Upped Lena Dunham Way Before The Sisters Did

Lena (Bad News) Dunham opened the family-sized can of worms when she posted this on Instagram.

That led to this rebuttal, as chronicled by Paper’s Beatrice Hazlehurst.


Reese Witherspoon, Amy Poehler, Emma Stone, Michelle Williams, Brie Larson, Rashida Jones, Tracy Ellis Ross, Meryl Streep, Rosario Dawson, America Ferrera and… Lena Dunham?

Despite Dunham’s claim that a sexual assault accusation against a Girls writer made by an actress-of-color was false, the actress and director posed with the most powerful women in Hollywood determined to end the sexual harassment of women in the workplace. Ah, you’ve got to love it.

The photo in question sparked almost immediate backlash in the comments after it was posted by Thor: Ragnarok actress Tessa Thompson, leading Thompson to address the claims before she deleted the picture from her account altogether. Dunham has kept the image, but disabled comments.

The whole deleted/disabled thing is a bit head-spinning, but one thing is clear: The hardtsking staff was on Dunham like Brown on Williamson a week ago.

We noted that she was conspicuously absent from the full-page ad Time’s Up ran in the New York Times last week.

Here’s where Dunham fell into the gap.

Under normal circumstances, you couldn’t have kept Lena Dunham off that list at gunpoint. But as James Wolcott pointed out in Vanity Fair last month, she’s become a gaffe machine, “tone-deaf and pampered, a by-product of cushy white privilege.”

For now, at least, her time’s up.

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