Re: Recent bit recommendations:

Rohit Khare (
Tue, 27 Aug 96 01:26:39 -0400 (I Find Karma) wrote on 02:19:31 Fri, 23 Aug 96:

> PUNK MELODIC: Goldfinger - Goldfinger The best punk album to come out this
> year. These guys really know how to write a fast, loud, crunchy 2-minute
> melody.

The first single -- "in your room"? -- does show off these qualities. I'll
have to investigate this one.

> POP MELODIC: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - She's the One Tom Petty still
> hasn't lost it, and he makes hummable pop tunes so effortlessly that you
> wonder if you could do it yourself.

Well, on a first listen, only "Walls" leapt out at me as a keeper. But, hey,
that's measured against Petty; the whole disc is better than most...

> POP ANGRY-YOUNG-FEMALE: Ani Difranco - Dilate Forget Alanis Morrissette; she
> may CLAIM to be angry, but her music is mostly upbeat and happy. You get no
> such mixed messages here. When she's mad, she doesn't sugar coat it.

The video is *such* a riot, trapped inside a tv set... something out of a
Harlan Ellison story: I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream.

> ALTERNATIVE COUNTRY: Lyle Lovett - The Road to Ensenada A very cool album,
> definitely his best. I now see what Julia Roberts saw in the guy. He's
> brilliant.

Just got this last night. Excellent. Of course, now I'm worried about what
precisely you see in him, Adamn...

> > California:
> Bill Maher's book on the best lines from his Comedy Central show _Politically
> Incorrect_ has quite a few decent slams on California, OJ, and the ironies of
> living in the 90s.

Looks entertaining, but a little pricey. Wait for the remainder stacks on
this one...

> > New York:
> Candace Bushnell's _Sex and the City_ is a nice little read about how much NY
> is like LA's reputation: all the guys want to date models, and all the gals
> want to land a multibillionnaire. She's really frank with her sex talk, so if
> you don't like that sort of thing, stay away.

Oh my god...

I bought this last night to read on the flight back from D.C. It's actually
not too explicit (maybe an 8 -- below _You'll Never Work In This Town Again_,
to be sure). It is *extremely* explicit, though, about the moral rot of modern
mating rituals. My god, the black heart of darkness which is the NYC yuppie
single scene! Enough to have scared me completely out of this business
entirely forevermore. The horror! The horror!

[these (randomly selected) quotes are in page order and generally get worse]
[they made for good touch typing exercise]
[I've left out the snide commentary, on the assumption that there are many
FoRKees better armed to do battle here...]

> "I don't know how anyone makes relationships work in this
> town. It's really hard. All the temptations. Going out.
> Drinks. Drugs. Other people. You want to have fun. And
> if you're a couple, what are you going to do? Sit in your
> little box of an apartment and stare at each other? When
> you're alone, it's easier," she saif a little wistfully.
> "You can do what you want. You don't have to go home."

> Skipper is twenty-five and personifies the Gen X dogged
> disbelief in Love. "I just don't believe I'll meet the
> right person and get maried"
> "The world is more fucked up now than it was twenty-five
> years ago I feel pissed off the be born in this generation
> when all these things are happending to me. Money, AIDS,
> and relationships, the're all connected. Most people my
> age don't belive they'll have a secure job. When you're
> afraid of the financtial future, you don't want to make
> a commitment.

> "The thing that drives me crazy," said the artist, "is
> when I see a woman in tartan skirts and high knee socks.
> I can't work all day"

Personally, I have a soft spot for neckties, too...

> [about a visit to La Trapeze, a sex club] We had to sign
> cards saying that we'd abide by the rules of safe sex.
> We got temporary membership cards, which reminded us no
> prostitution, no cameras, and no recording devices were
> allowed inside.
> While I was expecting steamy sex, the first thing we saw
> were steaming tables -- i.e. the aforementioned hot and
> cold buffet.

> [43 year old "serial dater"] "He took me to a dinner at
> his parent's house on like the third date... It was just
> me and his parents and the butler. The next day, I
> remember I was sitting on his bed, and he was showing me
> home movies of him as a kid. He was begging me to marry
> him. He was saying, 'See, I can be a serious guy.' And
> then he ordered some cheesy Chinese food. I thought,
> Marry you? What, are you smoking something?"
> "It's like, excuse me, are you boken? Let's get
> intimate"..."He's the emotional Mayflower.. he gets women
> from point A to point B. You arrive at Plymouth Rock
> feeling enormously better.

> Everyone knows the rules -- but no one wants to talk
> about them. The reslt is that New York has bred a
> particular type of single woman -- smart, attractive,
> successful, and... never married.
> What if you're forty and pretty and you're a television
> producer or have you're own PR company, but you still
> live in a studio and sleep on a foldout couch -- the
> nineties equivalent of Mary Tyler Moore? Except, unlike
> Mary Tyler Moore, you've actually gone to bed with all
> those guys instead of demurely kicking them out at 12:02
> AM? What happens to those women?
> There are thousands, maybe tens of thousands of women
> like this in the city. They travel, they pay taxes,
> they'll spend four hundred dollars on a pair of Manolo
> Blahnik strappy sandals.

> Even women who are A's and A-'s can miss out. The problem
> is, in New York, people self-select down to smaller and
> smaller groups. You're dealing with a crowd of people
> who are enormously privileged and their standards are
> incredibly high.
> Peter has a woman friend, forty-one. She'd always gone out with
> extremely sexy guys and just had a good time. Then, she
> went out with a guy who was twenty and was mercilessly
> mocked. Then she went out with another sexy guy her age,
> and he left her, and suddenly she couldn't get any more
> dates. She had a complete physical breakdown and had to
> move back to Iowa to live with her mother. This is beyond
> every woman's worst nightmare, and it's not a story that
> makes men feel bad.

> [the mid-thirties power flip] "When you're a young guy
> in your twenties and early thirties, women are controlling
> the relationships," Roger explained. "By the time you
> get to be an eligible man in youre late thirties, you
> feel like you're being devoured by women." In other words,
> suddenly the guy has all the power. It can happen
> overnight.

> Back to Peter, who was working himself into a frenzy over
> Alec Baldwin. "The peoble is expectations. Older women
> don't want to settle for what's still available. They
> can't find guys who are cool and vital, so they say screw
> it-- I'd rather be alone... I feel sorry for the lose
> guys who these women won't look at. What they want is
> Alec Baldwin. There isn't one woman in New York who hasn't
> turned down ten wonderful, loving guys because they were
> too fat or they weren't powerful enough or they weren't
> rich enough or indifferent enough. But these really sexy
> guys the women are holding out for are interested in girls
> in their mid-twenties."
> By now, Peter was practically screaming. "Why don't those
> women marry a fat guy? Why don't they marry a big, fat
> tub of lard!?"
> I asked that very question to Charlotte. "I'll tell you
> why," she said. "I've gone out with some of those
> guys--the ones who are short, fat, and ugly--and it
> doesn't make any difference. They're just as
> unappreciative and self-centered as the good-looking
> ones." She herself has recentely turned down a date with
> a beautifully elegible recently divorced
> forty-one-year-old banker because his unmentionable was
> too small.

> Modelizers are a particular breed. They're a step beyond
> womanizers, who will sleeep woth just about anything in
> a skirt. Modelizers are obsessed more with women but with
> models. They love them for their beauty and hate them
> for everyhting else... Modelizers inhabit a sort of
> parallel universe, with its own planets (Nobu, Bowery
> Bar, Tabac, Flowers, Tunnel, Expo, Metropolis) and
> satellites (the various apartments, many near Union
> Square, that the big modeling agencies rent for the
> models) and goddesses (Linda, Naomi, Christy, Elle,
> Bridget).
> Welcome to their world. It's not pretty.

> "To get the models, you have to be rich, really
> good-looking, and/or in the arts," says [25 yr old]
> Barkley. He's sitting in his junior loft in SoHo, which
> is paid for by his parents, as are all the rest of his
> expenses, his father being a coat-hanger magnate in
> Minneapolis. That's good for Barkley, because being a
> modelizer isn't cheap--there are deinks ar clubs, dinners,
> cab exprenses from one club to another, and drugs--mostly
> marijuana, but occasionally heroin and cocaine. It also
> takes time--lots of time. Barkley's parents think he's
> painting, but he's too busiy spending his days organizing
> his nights with models.

> If you're lucky (or unlucky, depending on how you look
> at it), you might one day run into a certain type of
> woman in New York. Like a constantly migration, brightly
> colored bird, she's always on the go. And not in the
> mundane, Folofax-filled way This woman travels from
> onternational hotspot to another. And when she gets tired
> of the party season in London, when she's had enough of
> skiing in Aspen or Gstaad, when she's sick of all-night
> parties in South America, she might come back to roost
> -- temporarily, mind you-- in New York.
> On a rainly afternoon in January, a woman we'll call
> Amalita Amalfi arrived at Kennedy International Airport
> from London. She was wearing the white fake-fur Gucci
> coat, black leather pants custom-made at New York Leather
> ("the're the last pair they made in this leather -- I
> had to fight with Elle Macpherson over them," she said),
> and sunglasses. She had ten T. Anthony bags, and tshe
> looked like a movie star. The only thing missing was the
> limo, but she took care of that by prevailing upon a
> wealthy-looking businessman to hep her with her bags. He
> couldn't resist--as virtually no men are able to resist
> Amalita--and before he knew what had hit him, he, AMalita,
> and the then T. Anthony bags were traveling towards the
> city in his company-paid-for-limousine.

[Later, we meet Amalita between men -- in a $500 a month apartment with her
daughter over cold pizza. It's a tough life...]

> Four women met at an Upper East Side restaurant to discuss
> what it's like to be an extremely beautiful young woman
> in New York City. About what it's like to be sought after,
> paid for, bothered, envied, misunderstood, and just plain
> gorgeous--all before the age of twenty-five.
> "I'm not a bitch, but most of the girls in New York are
> just idiots. Airheads. They can't even carry on a
> conversations. They don't know which fork to use. They
> don't know how to tip the maid at someone's country
> house."

> "A couple of years ago, I said, 'I've been screwed over
> too many times.' So I decided to take a guy's virginity
> and then leave him. I was bad, but on the other hand, he
> was twenty-one, which is probably too old to be a virgin,
> so he deserved it. I was as sweet as I could be, and then
> I never talked to him again."

> The Bone [a male underwear model] cares about the way he
> looks. "I change my clothes about five times a day," he
> says. "Who doesn't look in the mirror about a hundred
> times before they go out? I go back and forth between
> the two mirrors in my apartment like I'm going to look
> different in each one. It's like, yeah, I look good in
> this mirror, let me see if I look as good in the other.
> Doesn't everyone do that?"

> "The next morning, I woke up and I felt at ease. Very
> relazed. I'd been feeling tormented for some time, and,
> with Libby, I sudenly felt peaceful. It was the first
> honest emotional connection I'd had in a while. So I
> immediately panicked and had to leave"

> "Every man secretly hates pretty girls because they're
> the ones who rejected him in high school"

> There are worse things than being thirty-five, single,
> and female in New York. Like: being twenty-five, single,
> and female in New York.
> It's a rite of passage few women would want to repeat.
> It's about sleeping with the wrong men, wearing the wrong
> clothes, having the wrong roommate, saying the wrong thing,
> being ignored, getting fired, not being taken seriously,
> and generally being treated like shit. But it's necessary

> ... Cici found him rubbing up against a sixteen-year old
> model who had just come to town. "You're disgusting!"
> she screamed.
> "Oh, *come on*," he said. "You've got to let me live out
> my fantasies. I have a fantasy of being with a sixteen
> year old." He grinned, and you could see that his teeth
> needed to be rebonded.

> When Trudie for back to Manhattan, she dug out all her
> old Filofaxes and called every man she'd ever met in
> Manhattan. "Yes, every one of them: all the guys I'd
> passed over, who I'd thought were dweebs, nerds, losers,
> didn't have enough hair."
> "My husband's name was on the list -- he was the last
> one," Trudie said. "I remember thinking, If he doesn't
> work out, I don't know what I'm going to do."

> One time, when Barry's eyes were wandering, I hit him
> over the head so hard he nearly fell off his chair. I
> told him, 'Put your tongue back in your mouth and tail
> between your legs and finish your dinner.'

> "Topless dancers all sleep with each other because they
> hate men."
> "Yeah, well," the Girl said, "the men are all losers."
> "The ones you know. The ones who go into the club," Carrie
> said.
> "Is there any other kind?" the Girl asked.

> "After all, it's women who decide if a man is desirable
> or undesirable."

> On Christmas Eve, Dudley officially asked me to marry
> him, with an eight-carat ring, in front of my whole
> family. There was always something a little bit nasty
> about him, and in typical Dudley dashion, he squished
> the ring into a Godiva choclate and then handed me the
> box. 'Here's you're Christmas present,' he said. 'Better
> start eating.'
> "'I don't want choclates now,' I said, giving him the
> sort of dirt look that usually shuts hum up.
> "'I think you do,', he said, somewhat menacingly, so I
> began eating. My family watched, in horror. I could have
> chipped a tooth, or worse, choked. Still, I said yes.

> "Excuse me," he said, "but who decorated the interior of
> your jet?"
> Milo glared at him.
> "No, I mean it," Stanford said. "I'm thinking of buying
> a private jet [as an engagement present], and I want to
> be sure to get the right decorator."

> "The only thing that's left is work," said Robert,
> forty-two, an editor. "You've got so much to do, who has
> time to be romantic?"

Take-home life lesson: having one can be very hazardous to your health -- and
fatal for your checkbook.

Candace Bushnell gets bonus points for being described onthe book jacket as
"Joan Didionesque"

Oh, and there are other New York books on my list:

- Muncipal Bondage, or One Man's Anxiety-Producing Adventures in the
Big City by Henry Alford. A set of "comic investigations" into the lives of
clutter consultants, passing the dog grooming test, hiring topless maids, and

- 1939 World's Fair by David Gelertner. I have all the rest of the
Yale CS prof's books, but this one is a bit different: it's a historical novel
of the '39 fair and all its potential utopia. It's a wry commentary on what
technology can and cannot deliver, I suppose.

> > History of Technology:
> I recommend the book _Plastic: The Making of a Synthetic Century_ by Stephen
> Fenichell. Admittedly, I read it in the bookstore and didn't buy it, but I'm
> not nearly the bitmonger that Rohit is. Light textbookish reading that
> continually refers to pop culture as to why plastic became so ubiquitous.

Oh, this looks EXCELLENT. I bought it on the theory that any
history-of-technology book endorsed by Douglas Copland of Gen X fame must be
something else... and it is!

Now, it's probably unfair to bury it here in the middle of this long thread,
but this is the appropriate point to discuss _Out Of Control_ by Kevin Kelly,
of Wired Fame. I'll do a longer article some other time detailing some of its
key insights (and I'm sure some of you FoRKers have already read it), but all
I'll say here is that it may have changed my life. I've been harboring the
insight that distributed systems must learn from biology, so I picked up this
book for its emphasis on "the new biology" : evolution, cybernetics, complex
systems, swarm behavior. It has been a complete success: I am astonished by
the range and aptness of his examples in proving how much we have to learn in
marrying the domain of the born and the made. At the same time, this book
should be the subject of how-to lessons for book editors everywhere: it's
repetitive and understructured. The short, episodic structure makes it perfect
for interrupted readings, though.

> > Design:
> I'm gonna put Tom Clancy's new novel _Executive Honor_ in here even though
> I've only read about 50 pages of it. It shows how even though he has a simple
> formula for books -- carry on multiple action-packed threads, and describe
> technology to the very last detail -- he can still make them compelling
> reads. Would that I had a day to chew on the 875 pages therein!

Would that Archetypes had taken off... Design Patterns for fiction! Oh, wait,
most OO application designs *are* fiction... hmm...

Book that doesn't fit anywhere: Inside the Harvard Business School. Yes,
trite, but it was $3.99. About as much as *I*'d ever pay again for a Harvard
education... :-)

> > Movies:
> Escape from LA is a total ripoff of Escape from NY. I liked the basketball
> scene, and Peter Fonda was cool, but the part of the president's daughter was
> totally miscast, and Snake doesn't get nearly enough interesting things to
> do.

This was the perfect film to go see *in* LA, though. Wonderful stuff, that
basketball scene: "Snake Plisken, you may have survived New York. You may have
survived Cleveland. But this is L. A. and this town can fuckin' kill
*anybody*!!" Theater audience: "L.A., L.A., L.A...."

Rohit Khare -- World Wide Web Consortium -- Technical Staff
w: 617/253-5884  --   f: 617/258-5999   --  h: 617/491-5030
NE43-354,  MIT LCS,  545 Tech Square,  Cambridge,  MA 02139