Sunday, December 2, 2007


Yesterday I picked up a copy of the business section from the November 19th New York Times that had been left in the bathroom. I was surprised to find the section dominated by media-related stories. Maybe this would not be so surprising to someone who reads the business section regularly. Of the four stories on the front page, one dealt with the coinciding strikes by Broadway stagehands and Hollywood screenwriters; one with the launch of an internet television network; one with a maverick film producer; and the last with the recent, media-magnetic OPEC conference.

I realize that blogs often serve as little more than personalized news digests, so I'll resist, for a moment, reviewing what I read there. The tiles in our bathroom are made to resemble marble, but close inspection reveals that their marble pattern consists of a grid of tiny dots, like a Lichtenstein painting. I don't think I've seen marble-print tiles anywhere else. Turning a few pages into the business section, I found stories of not just of media, but of media doubling media, directing media, and misquoting media:

One article explained that women's book clubs, long an insulated form of media ignored by the larger world of publishing, are now being recognized as powerful trend-setters in the book industry. One woman, who heads ten book groups and lives in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, now acts as a sort of informal marketing liaison between several publishing company and the powerful inner circles of suburban women's book discussion groups.
An entry from the increasingly ubiquitous Wikipedia, another Times article explained, was reproduced, word for word, in a recent book on oil in the Middle East by strangely named author George Orwel. The entry dealt with the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. Copyright infringement was not an issue with the open-source wiki page, and the author of the entry was not concerned by the borrowing.

The already ubiquitous Paris Hilton was recently credited, by the Associated Press, with raising awareness for the suffering of drunken, rancorous elephants in northeastern India. It turns out that attribution was fallacious, though the plight of the elephants is not: the animals really do go on drunken rampages after getting into farmers' rice beer, but the story about Hilton was constructed around a manufactured quotation in a British tabloid called The Daily Star. It made it to an entertainment news website, then was picked up by an Indian AP correspondent. Earlier this year, the A.P. broke a moratorium on Hilton coverage when she was jailed for drunk driving.

Our marble-print tiles, intended to be slightly classy, instead make the bathroom look cheap. I imagined our faux-marble was supposed to mimic some specific marble variety, with a specific pattern, from a specific location: Chinese cream jade? Mexican Rosa Aurora? Solker Kristallmor, from Austria? Comparisons with online marble indexes instead led me to conclude that our tiles originated in the imagination of a faux-marble designer somewhere, or maybe a committee of designers, charged with creating a pattern that satisfied some Platonic ideal of veined pink marble, without actually resembling any existing specimen.
One (genuine) quotation from the Times story on the unconventional film producer might be clarifying here : A venerable MC once advised the filmmaker, who was planning a biopic about a then up-and-coming rapper, not to "clown out our world." The producer has profitably followed that advice ever since.


LeonDavis said...

You write this for fun? It seems kind of dry. Perhaps I'll start a blog to fill in what yours is lacking. Also to spout information from my brain lobes of course. I have nothing better to do at home except for watch movies, run, and make fun of dad (and mom). I won't be able to run in 2 days though. I was thinking of learning guitar. I wonder if you'll read this comment.

LeonDavis said...

There I did it. Now you read it.