Saturday, November 25, 2006

James Baker Wants To Spank Baby Bush

James Baker sat in a large dark red leather arm chair next to a fireplace that contained three logs. There was no fire going in the hearth as it was sixty-two degrees outside, and Baker thought it would be a waste of good lumber to burn the wood just for effect, even though it was Thanksgiving. Timothy, Baker’s grandchild of two years old, was playing with a Thomas The Tank Engine metal train that was hand-me-down from Timothy’s older brother. Baker could smell the aroma of the turkey cooking in the kitchen, and there was chattering of activity throughout the house, Baker’s kids, grand-kids, daughters and sons in laws, his own siblings and their spouses and kids. The house was an orchestra of family, the sounds as delicious as the meal being prepared. Baker was feeling content at having arrived in his mid seventies with a solid record of public and private achievements. Though he never thought of himself in these terms, the media and many had described him as a statesman. Baker thought this amusing given that his primary operating principal was honesty and humility, two attributes he considered lessons to be learned early on. And yet, the world seemed to have drifted into a morass of dishonesty and arrogance. And this, Baker knew, to be the case of the White House as well. Baker uttered these thoughts to his wife, and privately communicated the concern to his old friend George Herbert Walker Bush, the father of the sitting president. But he was circumspect about revealing too much. Though honesty was a governing principal, that did not justify communicating with a blunt instrument. Tact was part of the humility of life, that special place where one reserves the possibility that there was another point of view, a different legitimate perspective. Tact permitted others to open up, and such was the start of true communication.

So herein lied Baker’s problem. The truth, the honest truth was that Iraq was an enterprise that was now lost. Baker had no opinion whether the enterprise could have been a success if conducted differently. But he did know this: America could not stay in Iraq, and the sooner America withdrew, the better it would be for his country. But how to communicate this to President Bush in a manner that it would be heard. How much tact should Baker employ? And this was an important question because a mistake at this stage in Baker’s life might just define his whole life. Look what happened to Donald Rumsfeld, thought Baker. It no longer mattered that Donald Rumsfeld had a long history of service to his country, a long and distinguished career. That was now all forgotten, and not likely to be the part of his legacy that had any volume.

James Baker watched Timothy push the toy train on the plush rug. What kind of life would Timothy have? What kind of world had he left Timothy? Baker suddenly found himself getting angry. It felt like all the work of diplomacy he had done, all the work to erect an ethos of international discussion had been destroyed in just six years of Bush’s presidency. This was not just a matter of personal pride. This was a matter that affected Timothy, his two-year old grandson. James Baker adjusted his back in the chair and rubbed his neck. Tact. Was this a time for tact? Or was this a time for blunt language? Maybe Baker could get away with bluntness since it was bluntness that no one expected of him. Baker smelled the stench of incivility to the world’s discourse as he also enjoyed the aromas coming from the kitchen. Timothy and Thanksgiving. As he watched Timothy push the toy train o the plush rug without tracks, he wondered if the train had a set of toy tracks. Trains need tracks. And he would have to get this train on the right track.

Judith Regan Proposes Book Deal To OJ Simpson

Orenthal James Simpson sat in the polished black wood chair with fat arm rests and a green and black madras patterned cushion that was affixed to the seat. The chair presented itself as heavy, but when OJ sat in the chair and slid it a few inches to sit, the wood seemed to be hollow. OJ thought “Pottery Barn.” It was typical for corporations to buy stuff that looked good from a distance, but when up close the quality was suspect. He did not expect that of ReganBooks. Judith Regan sat in a similar chair with a higher back behind a black wood desk. The whole office seemed to have been ordered from a Pottery Barn catalog. This was the influence of Rupert Murdoch whose company owned ReganBooks. Murdoch was know to be cheap with anything that smelled of executive excess.

“Thanks for agreeing to meet with me,” said Judith Regan.

“Sure. It’s not like I am so busy,” said OJ with a smile. This had become the usual response from OJ when someone asked he was up to. He had decided that just to get through the day he woul dhave to have a sense of humor, self-humor, about his situation.

“You turn sixty next year,” said Judith.

OK, thought OJ. So she googled me. But it was still creepy.

“Yes. You got it,” said OJ.

“And I think you should start thinking about the written legacy you wish to leave,” said Judith as she tapped the end of a fat Mont Blanc fountain pen, an item that was not ordered from Pottery Barn.

“There’s already too much of a written legacy. I do not need more,” said OJ.

“May I make a proposition?” asked Judith.

“I used to get a proposition a day right after my acquittal. Now it is down to a proposition a month,” said OJ. He actually was amused by this fact, and smiled when he said it. OJ felt that everything was a gift after the acquittal, and so he was enjoying life.

“That is my point. When the propositions stop completely, you will have lost your opportunity to tell your story,” said Judith Regan.

“I told my story,” said OJ. OK, so he hadn’t really told his story. He told a story, but not the story. And it was not like anyone would believe him anyway. So why bother. The story he told stuck, at least with the jury, and so he was best to leave it at that.

“OJ, listen to me, you have a story to tell, and quite frankly I am not interested in you telling me or the public anything except for a hypothetical,” said Judith.

“A hypothetical?” said OJ.

“What if you did kill Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Brown, hypothetically speaking, of course. How would it have happened, or under what circumstances could it have happened at all. That is what I am interested in,” said Judith.

This woman was nuts, thought OJ. She wanted OJ to get drunk with the guys at a bar and laugh off a few “what ifs” about killing his wife. It seemed to OJ that Judith Regan was trying to throw more dirt into his grave.

“It sounds crazy,” said OJ.

Judith had picked up on a certain “wink” to the audience from OJ, as if he knew he had gotten away with murder, literally, and that he felt lucky and was going to not let anything bother him.

“Clearly you have come to terms with what has happened to you. That is evidence of a man who can sleep at night, a man whose conscious is clear. Given your contented sense of self, I would think that it would be a clear statement of pride to discuss a hypothetical circumstance where you could kill your wife, and it may very well be that you conclude that no such circumstance exists,” said Judith Regan with the sober determination of a college professor.

OJ slept just fine at night, more due to medication than a clear conscious.

“My conscious is clear,” said OJ.

“Think about how the media has ripped you of your pride. I know you may not think about this, but pride and honor are the last pillars that keep us standing. The media has struggled to de-construct you, removing your human foundation. You must re-build. You must regain your pride and your honor. And you must do it with a bold statement,” said Judith.

“De-construct? Human foundation? I am trying to….”

“Yes. Sorry. I get pedantic,” said Judith.

“Pedantic?” asked OJ.

“The point is I can have someone write the book, your record of pride and honor, and you can work with our writer to restore your manhood,” said Judith.

“My manhood is fine,” said OJ.

“Of course. No question. But the media has a way of changing your legacy, stripping you of something that you have, though no one knows it,” said Judith.

She’s got that right, thought OJ.

“Do I get money for this project?” asked OJ. Money was really the only issue remaining for OJ. Everyone wanted a piece of him. He was allowed to keep some money he made as it came in, but the civil judgments, the lawyer fees, the huge financial fallout from the criminal and civil trials had decimated his net worth. Indeed, OJ had no net worth.

“Of course there is money involved,” said Judith. Judith knew that OJ endured a constant financial strain, and money was usually the drug that got most people to agree to anything, even if it was for an outlandish proposal.

“I’ll think about it,” said OJ. That was also a standard response. It was celebrity speak for “yes” let’s proceed, but I have an out whenever I feel like it.

“Absolutely. But I will have my writer contact you. set up a meeting. Start the process. See if it goes anywhere. No cost to you,” said Judith.

“No cost to me? I thought I was getting paid?” said OJ.

“Actually, I will be glad to give you a retainer to meet with the writer for, let’s say, seven five-hour sessions. How about a two thousand per session,” offered Judith.

“How about three thousand, and I’d like you to pay a third party,” said OJ.

“Deal,” said Judith.

“This ain’t going to go anywhere, you know. It smells bad,” said OJ.

“We’ll make it smell good,” said Judith. She did not know whether to believe her own shit, but she at least got OJ to accept the idea and do the first step. One step at a time. That’s the way it worked.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Lindsay Lohan Envies Britney Spears And Oxycontin

Lindsay Morgan Lohan opened her small leather bag by sliding the fat metal zipper from end to end. The sound of the club was supposed to be music, dance music, but it no longer was landing on her ears that way. It was more like a hammer coming down on her forehead. She was alone in the back sitting on a plush booth behind a table. Paris Hilton and Britney Spears were dancing with what must have been a hundred patrons, Paris attracting the most attention as usual. Britney, though piggishly fat and soft, was dancing with better moves than Paris, but she seemed to be more of a quaint curiosity than Paris. Britney had a cigarette dangling from her matronly fat lips as she danced from the memory of some concert choreography. But paris gyrated falsely with her eyes closed, as if she was feeling the heat of her own glow.

Paris and Britney would be irritating to Lindsay except for the fact that Lindsay was not feeling well. This was starting to happen more and more lately. The Vicodin pills that Lindsay was downing daily were starting to become a fixture in her life. And Lindsay had told herself that when she clubbed, she would avoid drinking if she was popping Vicodin. But the fact was that Lindsay was clubbing daily, or more accurately nightly. And tonight she had several glasses of white wine and three Vicodin pills in rapid succession, the mixture sloshing her brain around, making the room dizzy and the music a jackhammer.

When Lindsay opened her leather bag she spied the following: a Blackberry cell phone, a Motorola Razr cell phone, a vile of Vicodin, a pack of Merit Light cigarettes, a solid gold cigarette lighter, three marijuana joints, a purple ultra fine point Sharpie, a palm-size leather notebook which contained phone numbers, emails and other private information, and a set of keys. The nanosecond after she opened the bag, Lindsay forgot what she was rummaging for. Was it for a cigarette? A joint? Did she want to check her email? Make a phone call? She picked up the vial of Vicodin which did not have her name on it. It was the name of a friend who seemed to have an unlimited supply, and gave her dozens of vials that she kept at home in her closet in a wood box behind a pair of cowboy boots. The vial was half filled. These were the strong Vicodin pills, the heavy dose ones. The label said “Take One Every Twelve Hours As Needed.” She had already popped three in the last two hours and she knew that if she popped oned more, she would feel better for about an hour before feeling bad again. But in that hour, she could get home, take some sleeping pills and maybe sleep it off till tomorrow.

“Hey, Lindsay, you want to dance?” asked Britney Spears, startling Lindsay. Lindsay clumsily held her hand over the vial betraying that she was hiding something.

“Not really,” said Lindsay. Britney still had the lit cigarette at the corner of her mouth, with smoke shooting from her nostrils and puffs forming with each word she spoke. She looked disgusting, thought Lindsay who was confident that she smoked a cigarette with more grace than Britney Spears.

“What you got there?” asked Britney, referring to Lindsay’s cupped hand covering the vial of Vicodin.

“Tylenol,” said Lindsay.

“Yeah. Is it like strong Tylenot, if you know what I mean,” said Britney with a smile.

Lindsay hated nosey bitches, and it was none of Britney fucking business what she was doing and what she was taking.

“I have back pain,” said Lindsay.

“Yeah. I had that too. I love having back pain because then I can get Oxycontin. Is that what that is? Oxycontin?” asked Britney.

Damn. Britney can get Oxycontin, thought Lindsay. I mean Vicodin was cool and fun, but the one time Lindsay had Oxycontin it was one of the best nights she ever had. But her friend told her that it is impossible to get, and if caught with the stuff, it was seriously bad news.

“You can get Oxycontin?” asked Lindsay.

“Yeah. So what’s that?” asked Britney.

“Vicodin,” said Lindsay.

“Yeah, I guess you were right. That is like Tylenol,” said Britney as she backed up with a shuffle, to the music, and slowly turned with her hips and arms moving to the music, disappearing into the crowd.
Fuck Britney Spears. She was trash but Britney Spears had made millions with her stupid music and her stupid songs, and had now gotten fat and sloppy, looking like she was living in a trailer park with her two stupid kids. But she had one thing that Lindsay did not have. She had access to Oxycontin. Lindsay tossed the vial of Vicodin back into her bag, pulled out a Merit cigarette and lit it, taking a deep drag, inhaling the smoke so deep it filled every air sack of her lungs. Lindsay remembered that she had to be on the set tomorrow, and it was already 1:30 in the morning, which meant she had to be on the set in five hours. Shit. She picked up her Blackberry to call her manager. The Merit cigarette dangled from her mouth. She was going to tell her manager that she was not feeling well and would be at the set by noon. Yeah. By noon. She started to relax and decided to pop another Vicodin as soon as she got off the phone with her manager.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Mike Bloomberg And Ray Kelly Meet With Al Sharpton

Michael Bloomberg sat in theoak wood desk chair that has scratches and scuff marks from years of mayoral lounging. The desk was also large, oak, heavy, standing in place as if it hadn’t been moved in a century. Bloomberg never bothered to make New York City’s Mayor’s Offcie hi own. He did not consider it his own, anyway. There were times when Bloomberg missed the private world of commerce and business, where one could spend money lavishly and be blunt in one’s discourse. But here he was, presideing over one of the largest and most important citys in the world, the top manager, the spokesperson for a myriad of constituencies, a pandemonium of competing social, racial, cultural and financial interests, a city where the poor and the rich walk the same pavements, and shop at the same grocery stores, and buy coffee at the same Greek delis. It astounded Bloomberg that New York had not imploded from all the exploding quilts that patch the neighborhood landscape.

“Do we really have to meet with that asshole?” said Raymond W. Kelly, New York City’s Police Commisioner as he sat alone with the Mayor.

“Is there a reason why you think we shouldn’t?” said Bloomberg.

“Tawana Brawley,” said Kelly.

“That’s history,” said Bloomberg.

“He’s an opportunist,” said Kelly.

“And we are not?” asked Bloomberg rhetorically.

“I feel like I have to take a shower after I am with him,” said Kelly.

“Oh stop it, Ray. Sharpton is a colorful guy. Entertaining. And whether we like it or not, he has grabbed the stage for a major constituency in this town. If they listen to him, I have to listen to him,” said Bloomberg.

Bloomberg actually liked Al Sharpton. Sharpton was a straight shooter and was very clear about what he was all about. The public face of Sharpton was not the same man that Bloomberg had come to know in private meetings with him. This was not so different from the hundreds of business people he had dealt with. Indeed, he had known Wall Street to be particularly populated by charlatans and pretenders. But sometimes you had to deal with them, and sometimes they held the strings. Quite frankly, from Bloomberg’s perspective, the Wall Streeter’s were boring. Sharpton was anything but. And that mattered.

“You feel like you can trust him? You feel comfortable with Al Sharpton?” asked Kelly.

“Tell me again about the fifty gunshots fired by our police officers. Give it to me in a few words. The Reverend will be here any moment,” said Bloomberg. This was a management tool Bloomberg had used often. The essence of things could be described in a few words. And it was the essence of things that seemed to matter even more in politics than in business.

At that moment, the door flew open and in walked the Reverend Al Sharpton.

The door opened to the Mayor’s office and in walked Al Sharpton. Mayor Mike Bloomberg stood immediately. Ray Kelly was slower to stand. Bloomberg offered his hand, which Sharpton took.

“Hello, Mayor,” said Sharpton. Sharton did not wait to be offered a chair. He sat in the chair next to Kelly’s. Bloomberg sat. Kelly sat.

“How are you Mr. Kelly?” asked Sharpton.

“Fine, thank you,” said Kelly.

“Fine? How can you be fine under these circumstances. Your guys plowed a bucketload of bullets into an innocent man. A black man. So you tell me, how can you be fine?” said Sharpton.

“I meant I was personally physically, OK,” said Kelly. The second he said it, Kelly knew it didn’t sound right.

“Physically OK? I would be sick to my stomach. In fact, I am sick to my stomach. How can I be feeling sick and you feeling OK?” said Sharpton.

Bloomberg killed a smile that started to form. Sharpton knew how to grab the conversation.

“I think we all feel sick about what happened,” said Bloomberg.

“So what are we going to do about this mess that you have gotten yourselves in?” said Sharpton.

Kelly hated that Sharpton presumed that somehow he was part of the government, as if he was charged with the high purpose of public office, almost as if this was one of his offices.

“The offices are on administrative leave, Al, and they have turned in their guns,” said Bloomberg.

“That means they are still getting paid, and they have desk jobs. Sounds like a promotion,” said Sharpton.

“I can assure you it is not a promotion,” said Kelly.

“It’s a slap on the wrist,” said Sharpton without turning to look at Kelly.

“You don;t know the facts, Mr. Sharpton. We were staking that club out. Drugs. Prostitution. Money laundering. They rented the place out as a cover. There was a bachelor party going on. The kids who got shot were like human shields. Those bastards used their patorns as human shields,” said the Police Commisioner. Kelly was irritated. Police were not never allowed to fuck up. And when they did, their lives were often ruined.

Al Sharpton addressed the Mayor. “Your Police Commisioner says that the African American community of this great City of New York are the human shields for crime. And so what is he saying, that African Americans can be killed to fight crime? Cause if that is what he saying, I’d like to tell that to the media,” said Sharpton.

“I am sure that is not what the Police Commissioner is saying,” said Bloomberg.

“I did not suggest that,” said Kelly.

“It sure sounds like you did. One of those Freudian slipperoos, if you ask me,” said Sharpton.

“Look, we have to deal with this swiftly and aggresively,” said Mayor Bloomberg.

“I’ll say, cause your Police Commissioner has handed me a golden opportunity. It don’t matter how you play this music, it comes out the same. Fifty bullets at two unarmed innocent black men. That’s music man that only plays one way. And anyway you hear it, it makes the New York City finest seem like the worstest,” said Sharpton, not blinikng an eye on his misuse of the English language.

“Al, our interests are the same. We need to find out what happened, discipline the officers for what they did, and try to start the healing,” said Bloomberg feeling like he was on the Oprah show.

“You ain’t going to heal sqat without my participation,” said Sharpton.

“Of course. We need you, Al. We need you to be part of the process,” said the Mayor.

“Hey, Mr. Mr. Mayor, I know you’re playing me. You think I don’t know when you are playing me. And that is OK. It’s OK with me. You play me all you want. Just as long as you know I will be playing you. And maybe, if you are lucky, you will come out smelling like roses. But any way this plays out, I will be OK. This is my game you have entered. This is my game,” said Sharpton.

“Yes, yes, I know. And it is my desire to make us all do justice and try to prevent this from happening again,” said Bloomberg.

“So are we ready to meet the media? ‘Cause I’m ready. And don't take it personally if I don't smile with you Mayor and look like we’re friends. ‘Cause I ain’t gong to smile. This ain’t time for smiling,” said Sharpton as he rose from his chair.

“I understand completely,” said Bloomberg as he stood. Kelly did not stand.

“See you gentlemen downstairs. And Mr. Kelly, don’t look so sour. Feel as fine as you said you do,” said Sharpton as he walked out of the office.

“I hate that sonofabitch,” said Kelly.

“We are all running the city together, Ray,” said Bloomberg. “We are all running the city together.”