MEDIA MASH: A Compilation of Media Musings
Boulder Internet Radio BonanzaThe Internet radio experiment from Working Assets, the long distance phone company, is getting interesting. On its station, KWAB in Boulder, Co., and its Web site, radioforchange.com, you can listen to the infamous Bob Harris (www.bobharris.com), who is the morning drive host, as well as Austin rabble-rouser Jim Hightower. Laura Flanders, a former FAIR staffer and Pacifica radio personality, has added her charming English accent and smart take on the world's events to the mix. This might make the Masher charge up the Real Audio, which has been lying dormant on his laptop since the WTO Seattle party.To generate some major buzz, the Boulder station will donate $100,000 this spring -- $10,000 per week between March 1 and May 31 -- to celebrate nonprofits in the Boulder area. Hey, this is real money. Local people are nominating Boulder nonprofit organizations. Beginning this week, on Tuesday at 4:10 pm and on Thursday at 7:10 am, the hosts will randomly pick two possible recipients as well as broadcast the names of the people who nominated them. Whichever organization calls the station first and confirms their nomination will receive $5k. Cool. This will certainly have this listener's ears glued to the radio or the computer.When Bad Things Happen to Good ComicsThe Masher's favorite political comic -- many feel the best in the U.S. -- and certainly one of the hardest working, had a mini Waterloo recently and needs all our sympathy. And for that matter so does Rudy Reba, his less known comic pal who does telemarketing in Newport News, Va. to make a living.Reba was on ABC's "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" and his pal Will Durst was his "life line," i.e., Reba could call him in a jam. So when Regis asked: Who produced the Michael Jackson music video 'Bad': Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg or John Landis? Reba called Durst. Durst quickly answered it was Landis. Opps. It actually was Scorsese. Landis made the Jackson video "Thriller." Because of Durst's mistaken answer, his friend lost (are you sitting down?) half a million dollars.We hope this tragic moment passes fast for Will and Reba. Anyone with a big heart should send Reba a donation. Meanwhile, Durst is breaking new ground as a comic/pundit. His "Citizen Durst," created with the Oakland-based Working Group production company, is getting raves for its short takes on what the big media is missing, covering the candidates and not the people. As most PBS watchers know, Durst is the host of the very smart and watchable Livelyhood series, which covers work issues with humor and panache. Keep your eyes open for Durst's next PBS segment, "Night Shift."Judi Barri RevisitedThe Masher usually steers clear of Alex Cockburn for karmic reasons. However exceptions can be made. Cockburn's deconstruction of the still-unprosecuted bombing involving Earth First activist Judi Barri and the journalist obsessed by the case, Anderson Valley Advocate publisher Bruce Anderson, is a fascinating read in the current New York Press. Cockburn argues that the bomb which blew up in Barri's car was planted by her ex-husband, Mike Sweeney, a former Maoist activist set on revenge -- and was not, as the FBI believed, a mistaken blast from Barri's arsenal. The story's unfolding is all about media. Steven Talbot (brother of Salon's David) gets plaudits for his relentless digging in an early public broadcasting documentary on the case. Flatland, a zine published by Jim Martin in the same area as the Anderson Valley Advocate (the California north coast), has reported on secret government files that came out last year. And of course there is Anderson, who has covered the case since Barri emerged from her car severely injured in 1990. (Barri died of cancer a few years ago.)Of the many clouds hanging over this story, the most bizarre is the behavior of the FBI, which has never questioned Sweeney, despite many allegations of his bomb-making prowess and the motivations he may have had for committing the crime. Cockburn seems to agree with Anderson that Sweeney might be the man, despite denials from Sweeney. This makes Anderson's tiny local paper, which boasts a mini cult of national readers, a groundbreaker and Anderson a crusading publisher to watch. Lately, he's been traveling all over northern California to meet with potential witnesses and plans a symbolic indictment of Sweeney, where he will reenact the placement of the bomb in Barri's car.Semi-regular Sex in the Media ReportThe Masher trudges forward with the heavy responsibility of reporting and honoring the always rich vein of sex in the media. For this week's awards:The Let's Top Salon Award for Sexiest Editorial Content goes to this month's issue of Talk magazine for raising the breast bar. Talk has published photos of several beauties topless, including Jade Jagger, in the provocative pose of the year, and the eye-breaking Laetitia Casta, who appears all-naked, in an article on Patrick Demarchelier, one of today's most branded high sex/high fashion models.The Worst Debut of a Sex Magazine Aimed at Young Men's Groins goes to the U.S. version of FHM. This entry in the Maxim/Details/Gear genre mirrors the completely tasteless English version. Now the U.S. has a version of its very own. FHM appeals to the grossest common denominator ... but oddly none of the women in the mag are topless. The Most Tasteless Ad Imaginable of the Month goes to Sky Vodka for its man in suit towering over woman lying on beach with silicon mountain breasts. Man holds two large martini glasses corresponding to the breasts. This ad is big in San Francisco and the Masher sincerely hopes greedy dot.comers aren't persuaded by its silicon sexuality. Hopefully, women will also not think it's something to emulate. What is Sky Vodka thinking?One of the Sexiest Ads in History Award goes to Dior, the formerly staid European couture house, which has come forward with the hottest lipstick lesbian make-out depiction ever seen in mainstream mags. (The Masher got confirmations of this from everyone in his office.)Hooters and Door KnobsThe Masher finds it interesting that Dan Savage and Amy Alkon -- the two alternative press writers getting the most national attention -- are sex columnists. For a couple of weeks, Savage became outlaw journalist number one when he wrote in Salon about his attempts to give the flu to rabidly anti-gay Gary Bauer and his staff by licking door knobs at Bauer's campaign headquarters during that turkey's rather dimwitted and short-lived presidential run. Until that point, Savage has been best known for his in-your-face sex column in The Stranger, Seattle's feisty altie paper.Putting her best breasts forward, Savage's highly heterosexual counterpart, Amy "Ask the Advice Goddess" Alkon (www.advicegoddess.com), whose column is read in 70 papers nationwide, has garnered a bunch of recent publicity and seems prepared to give Savage a run on the promotional front. Alkon took out a $2,375 ad in the editorial pages of the Los Angeles Times, seeking "a tall, evolved man of character who thinks for a living and cares about making a difference in the world." She offered herself as "a successful syndicated writer girl: Large hooters, high IQ, with modern ideas about relationships." Needless to say, the L.A. Times at first balked at the use of the term Hooters. But the persistent and sharp-tongued Alkon mau-maued them into printing the ad in full, despite executives' arguments that the paper had "standards." Catherine Seipp quotes Alkon in Media Week as saying: "I told them I'm a single woman in L.A. and I can't get a boyfriend because the L.A. Times is anti L O V E ." After the Staples Center fiasco, the Los Angeles Times may be a little confused about the lines between its editorial and advertising operations.