"Chronicling the Life of Dan Eisler Since 1998"
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Ex Austin Dispatches
  No. 7 
August 1999
An alien world? Or a typical Arizona lawn in the summertime? Only the Old Phoenicians know for sure.
The Crashing '90s claimed another casualty.1 Original episodes of "Mystery Science Theater 3000" ceased transmitting the first weekend of this month.2

The Sci-Fi Channel declined to renew MST3K's contract this year for reasons not fully fully fathomed in official explanations.3

In earlier years, I'd've decried this as a cultural travesty. However, MST3K hasn't been at its peak since Trace Beaulieu, a.k.a. "Dr. Clayton Forrester," and the voice of Crow T. Robot, left the show.4 His departure coincided with the show's move from Comedy Central to Sci-Fi, when the show narrowed its selection of bad, bad movies to lampoon strictly to the science fiction/fantasy genre.5 Too bad. Some of MST's finest moments happened trashing '40s oaters, '50s juvie6 dramas, '60s biker celluloid and '70s cops shows, particularly with Beaulieu and Frank Conniff ("TV's Frank") on the writing staff. (They now write for prime time broadcast network fare. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.)7

But like Jerry Seinfeld, MST3K's fountainheads apparently know when to quit.8

That's more than I can say for newspapers, which are hemorrhaging money from their own Internet efforts. First, the labor pool of rookie journalists is drying up for newspapers.9 Hence, newspaper Web editions can't get beyond a certain level because the talent won't work for chump change. And even if they were, they don't have the background to do the newspaper stuff needs doing the right way, according to a similar piece in a recent Utne Reader.10 Meanwhile, online advertising is a huge loss so far, which means a paper's Web classifieds cost it money while more people are forsaking smudgy print subscriptions to read online for free.11 Looks like I got out in time.

Also, MST's end would've impacted me more if I'd watched the last two seasons. As Ex Austin Dispatches readers know, I've been moving around a lot, and buying a new TV and waiting all day for the cable guy to show isn't a top priority. I probably spend more time following the first "lady"'s Senate "campaign" -- and I don't even live in New York.12

My New York correspondent, however, reports:

She's nuts. New Yorkers like her, but not LIKE like her. Her most
likley [sic] challenger is Rudy Guiliani [sic] whose most notable accomplishment,
according to the New York Times, is proving that this ungovernable
city is governable. His style of governing is running the city like [a]
tin pot dictator, cracking down on things like jaywalking, bulldozing
homeless camps, and not standing up to the police when they abuse
their powers. The cops in this town are just the other side of
criminal, which is usually the case anyway, and you're really only
safe if  you're white. Hillary's apparent stength [sic] will be in wooing
upstate voters, hence the effort she's making to get votes up there.
She has not as yet spent a considerable amount of campaign time in
the city. Watch for the first family to do an all-New York vacation
this month, starting off in the Hamptons (as if the traffic weren't
already bad enough, now we have to contend with his fleet of armoured [sic]
Chevy Blazers) and in the [Finger Lakes] region. But Guiliani [sic] doesn't
have the constituency upstate that you might think. He's openly
feuded with George Pataki, a popular governor whos [sic] also had his own
aspirations for higher office, and could conceivably get the nod as
Bush Jr.'s running mate.

My call: its [sic] even money either way, even though the polls show
Guiliani [sic] up by 6 points. Polls at this point are meanlingless [sic].

I'm gonna write in Al Goldstein, publisher of Screw magazine, simply
because I can.13

Which leads me to the real travesty of late: Hillary Clinton leaking to New York papers her "kinship" to Jews because her maternal grandmother married one after she divorced and packed off Hillary's mom.14

As faux identity, this is reverse Martha Stewart: ambitious New Jersey Polack15 sharks her way to the top on Wall Street16 and then gets even richer suckering17 the soccer moms18 -- the direct descendants (and I do mean descend) of H.L. Mencken's "booboisie"19 -- with a bogus country estate WASP lifestyle20 that should've been consigned permanently to Merchant-Ivory21 productions. Get in the kitchen, Mizz Unindicted Co-conspirator,22 and make a strudel. Then we'll see about your bona fides.

By contrast, Steve Forbes is looking better all the time. He may be an old-money WASP with a personality stiffer than Al Goldstein's lower extremity, but he is what he is.23 Also, his speeches and writings and the thrust of Forbes magazineand sister publications, reveal the subtlest, most sophisticated understanding (rivaling Harry Browne)24 of how the world works and why,25 and consequently a deep appreciation for the entrepreneurs26 -- such as New Jersey polacks who shark their way to the top and sell the soccer moms on the kind of WASP fantasy people like Forbes eschew. But it's a good thing.27

Interestingly enough, there's a great article about Giuliani's failed 1989 mayoral bid by longtime New York denizen Murray Rothbard,28 in the November 1989 Liberty. Rothbard wrote one of Giuliani's problems was he wasn't a "real Italian" (i.e., a Catholic from the Mezzogiorno)29 in the minds of his would-be constituents. Instead, he's a dour northerner.30

Not to be confused with the Great White North,31 which should be called the Great White Noise, if its radio formats are any guide. The Canadian cultural bureaucrats -- Pat Buchanan without the Irish temper -- are supposed to maintain distinct Canadian culture on the airwaves. What emerges? The same crap formats south of the border (down Buffalo way).32 Though in fairness, the "country"33 only has 100-odd bitcasters (radio stations transmitting over the Internet),34 and the bureaucrats, unlike the president's lawyers, lack the imagination to defend what doesn't exist.35 They can't even offer their own version of MST.

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1 Young, Carl. "The Crashing '90's." [sic.] Online posting. 25 Jul. 1999. “Defining the 1990’s” discussion thread. 1 May 1999. Fourth Turning. <http://www.fourthturning.com/cgi-local/netforum/cultureandvalues/a.cgi/34--44.5.0>.
2 Nelson, Mike. “Mystie Memories.” TV Guide 7 Aug. 1999: 2-3.
3 Rosenbaum, Ron. “Barry Diller's Defining Moment: Will He Save ‘MST3K’?” NYO 15 March 1999: 39.
4 Rohan, Virginia. “ 'MST3K' Is Dropping Off Our Radar Screen.” Bergen (N.J.) Record 6 Aug. 1999: Y1.
5 Susman, Gary. “Found in Space.” BP 13 March 1997, online ed.
6 Green, Jonathon. The Dictionary of Contemporary Slang. Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.: Stein & Day, 1985: 157.
7 Hilty, Wyn. “’MST3K’s Legacy Will Live On.” OCW 6 Aug. 1999, online ed.
8 Tracy, Kathleen. Jerry Seinfeld: The Entire Domain. Secaucus, N.J.: Birch Lane Press, 1998: 192-201, 224-236.
9 Marks, Alexandra. "Hyperlinked To the Future of Journalism." CSM 3 Aug. 1999: 3; Rosenberg, Scott. "Should Journalists and IPOs Mix?" Salon 27 July 1999. <http://www.salon.com/tech/col/rose/1999/07/27/ipo_journalists/index.html>.
10 Larson, Elizabeth. "Online and Under Pressure." UR Jan/Feb. 1999: 93-95.
11 Duetschman, Alan. “The Last Best Hope for Web Zines.” GQ Sep. 1998: 225-226+; Kawasaki, Guy. "Why Newspapers Are in Trouble." Forbes 9 Feb. 1998: 102; Kroll, Luisa, Julie Pitta and Daniel Lyons. "World Weary Web." Ibid. 28 Dec. 1998: 98; Lyons. "Desperate.com." Ibid. 22 March 1999: 50.
12 Clinton still hasn't formally declared her candidacy as of Nov. 17: Fink, Mitchell, and Joel Siegel. "Hil Won't Let Slips Stop Run: Pals." NYDN 17 Nov. 1999: 37.
13 Hesseldahl, Arik. "Re: Inquiring Minds Want to Know." E-mail to Dan Eisler, 6 Aug. 1999.
14 Gitell, Seth. "Meet Hillary Clinton's Grandmother, Della Rosenberg — The Feisty Wife of a Yiddish-Speaking  Jewish Immigrant." The Forward 6 Aug. 1999: 1.
15American Heritage Dictionary, 2nd College ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1991: 958; Oppenheimer, Jerry. Martha Stewart — Just Desserts : The Unauthorized Biography. New York City: William Morrow & Co., 1997: 6-15.
16 Oppenheimer, ibid.: 117-120.
17 Fussell, Paul. Class: A Guide Through the American Status System. New York City: Simon and Schuster, 1983: passim.; Fussell. BAD, or The Dumbing of America. New York City: Summit Books, 1991: passim.
    For an update of Fussell's Class, see Brooks, David. Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There. New York City: Simon and Schuster, 2000. For a corrective to Brooks, see McCloskey, Donald. "Bourgeois Blues." Reason May 1993: 47-51.
18 Blake, Nina, and Wendy Bryan. "Station Wagons." Retro Hell, 210, and passim.; Higgs, Robert. "Bill Clinton, Welfare Dad." Liberty Mar. 1997: 10-11; Ponnaru, Ramesh. "Femme Fatale." NR 31 Dec. 1998: 29-30.
19 Mencken, H.L. The American Language, 4th ed. 1936. Rpt. New York City: Alfred A. Knopf, 1970: 560n1; OED, II, 391.
20 Fussell, Class, passim; Fussell, BAD, passim; Oppenheimer, op. cit., passim.
21 Ash, John. "Stick It Up Howard's End." GQ Aug. 1994: 43; Clarke, Gerald, and Liz Nickson, "View from Prospero's Island." Time 12 Jan. 1987: 70.
22 Eisler, Kim. "Democrats Warn Starr: Better Steer Clear of Senate Race." The Washingtonian. Nov. 1999: 16. The author is no known relation: Eisler, K. "Re: Family Connection?" E-mail to D. Eisler 2 Mar. 2001.
23 Judis, John B. “Capitalist Tool.” GQ July 1999: 134-141+; Ponnuru, Ramesh. “Forbes ASAP.” NR 7 Dec. 1998: 40+.
24 Browne, Harry. Why Government Doesn’t Work. New York City: St. Martin’s Press, 1995.
25 [Bradford, R.W.] “The ‘Liberty’ Interview: Ed Crane.” Liberty Dec. 1990: 54-64.
26 Postrel, Virginia I., and Charles B. Oliver. “Capitalist Tool II: An Interview with Malcom S. Forbes Jr.” Reason May 1991: 36-39.
27Fearon, Peter. Hamptons Babylon: Life Among the Super-Rich on America’s Riviera. Secaucus, N.J.: Birch Lane Press, 1998: 248-250; Fussell, Class, passim; Fussell, BAD, passim; Oppenheimer, op. cit., 354 and passim.
28 Bradford et al. “Murray N. Rothbard 1926-1995” Liberty March 1995: 23-40.
29 Rothbard, Murray N. “Loathing the Fear in New York, New York.” Liberty Nov. 1989: 29-32; New Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th ed. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., 1998: VIII, 86-87.
30 Rothbard, op. cit.
31 Opler, Lorne. "Greetings from the Great White North." AC 26 Nov. 1999: 38-39.
32 Chamish, Barry. “The Suicide of Canadian Culture.” Liberty May 1991: 43-44; Frum, David. Dead Right. New York City: Basic Books, 1994: Ch. 6; Judis. "Taking Pat Buchanan Seriously. Seriously." GQ Dec. 1995: 230-237+; Postrel. The Future and Its Enemies: The Growing Conflict Over Creativity, Enterprise and Progress. New York City: The Free Press, 1998: 7, 21; Reid, Scott J. "Hope for a Troubled Land." Liberty May 1991: 61-62; Reid. "The Unraveling of Canada." Liberty Sep. 1991: 39-42+.
33 Reid, op. cit.; Tessman, Kent. "From the Front: Culture up North?" The Exchange Winter 1993/94: 10-11.
34 The figure, as of Aug. 21, 1999, is from The MIT List of Radio Stations on the Internet. <http://wmbr.mit.edu/stations/usc-bc.html>.
35 Taylor, Stuart. "Clinton's Crisis: The Most Thoughtful Book Yet." National Journal 21 Aug. 1999: 2408.