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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us.

We will miss him terribly.

photo by lindsay beyerstein


LowerManhattanite: "WAAAAAAAH!"

That's right..."Cry, BABY!"

Last summer, I found myself flying home to NY from L..A.. Beat to all hell I was, after finishing up a marathon three days of shooting--and a last shoot day, several A HREF=> martini celebration--for a video short I was working on. I'd had very little sleep in those previous three days, and was looking forward to grabbing a few hours of much-needed in-flight shuteye. I was practically salivating over the idea of getting those few hours of late night Z's--comfy clothes already on, soft leather driving shoes...and when they called my row to be seated,I smiled delirioiusly at the thought that I would soon be snuggled in my exit row seat, tripping off to the merry land of nod.

But lo, that somnambulistic fantasy was not to be.

Stowing my luggage above my began. A wail, a squall, a from-the-seventh-circle-of-hell keen of pain and soul-deep upset rom a small child way up front in the plane. It had treble. It had rasp. It had the heft of million jangled nerve endings all being plucked at once like the bass strings in a Philip Glass piece. A really f*cking looooong Philip Glass piece. From buckle-in at Burbank, to thirty minutes before touchdown near Philly, the child screamed like a James Brown end-of-record ad-lib on continuous loop. It was torturous--not just for me, but certainly for everyone onboard. 'Cause just when the sound would abate, giving everyone thirty seconds-to-one minute's hope that it was all over, it would start again, from deep in the child's gut, up his gullet and out of his little 200 watt megaphone mouth.


All the Goddamned way home. Popped a Tylenol P.M. and a mini-bottle of Tanqueray, but it was no use. The screams continued unabated, knifing through my man-made fog to obscure 'em. I rationalized it as the child's possibly being colicky, or worse yet, ear-infected at 30,000 feet in a pressurized cabin. Poor kid. It didn't make me feel any better, but at least I could get through the flight knowing that the cause of the child's upset had to be something simply unbearable and beyond his control as a baby.

After what seemed like an eternity, we taxi-ed up to the gate, lights flickering on in the cabin and people moving to get their luggage from above, and then thankfully, off the plane. As I exited, there stood the flight attendant, wanly smiling for a moment at each passenger who trudged past, then, her face tightening back into a scowl, with a large vein in the center of her head, rising like Nessie from the Lochs. The screaming child had made her flight rough, too. I casually remarked to her, "Rough flight, huh?". She sighed. "Poor little guy probably had an ear infection or something." I continued, as the line slowed. "That's rough on a baby on a plane."

As I walked by, she said flatly, "He wasn't sick. It was a rattle. They goofed up and packed it in the checked luggage, and his parents said he can't sleep without it. Soooo..."

I blinked in amazement and anger. "You're kidding me. He cried like that for five hours, over a rattle?"

"A rattle.", she droned, as if it had happened a thousand times.

The cab ride only heightened my anger, as the sun rose and my fatigue morphed into a bone-weary, cotton-mouthed, death-on-a-stick funk.

"A rattle? All that crying over a f*cking rattle? Five hours?" I was a mess for two days after that flight, and I've never forgotten how sh*tty it was, and what a drain it was on me and probably everyone else onboard.

And then, I checked those Goddamned internets in the last recently--and I heard that screaming baby--screaming over some bullsh*t, all over again.

This via Crooks & Liars:

"There is a whole world that a certain segment of conservatives live in that actually does not touch on reality at all. A world where museums can be built to show dinosaurs roaming the earth with humans. Where online encyclopedia entries must reflect a conservative world view. Where presidential candidates still have a shot after denying evolution.

This conservative world's newest target is YouTube. That's right. Apparently, cats playing the piano and homemade videos of soap stars and Harry Potter Characters to the soundtrack of the latest pop love song are too…shall we say… liberally biased:
The popular video-sharing Web site first debuted "Hillary 1984," which compared Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. to a Orwellian dictator, then-Sen. George Allen's career-altering "macaca" moment and the "I Feel Pretty" video that chided former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards' good looks. But YouTube, which is owned by Google, has also been a favorite target of conservatives, who accuse the site of a liberal bias. Railing against YouTube, two Republican White House veterans have launched QubeTV as a conservative alternative. "The 2008 campaign will be dominated by video and in particular by user-generated video," says QubeTV founder Charlie Gerow, a former aide in the Ronald Reagan White House.

"There are a vast array of young conservative activists and operatives out there armed with cell phones or hand-helds that are going to capture the next 'macaca' moment or John Kerry bad joke and put them on Qube TV," says Gerow, whose Pennsylvania strategic media firm, Quantum Communications, created the Web site.
Gerow insists YouTube banned a video by conservative blogger Michelle Malkin about radical Islamists.

Oh, baby. No, seriously...I literally f*cking mean, OH BABY!

I'm not 100% certain if it was Atrios who coined the phrase "Whiny-*ssed-Titty-Baby", but if he did, then sweet chocolate Jesus, this kinda sh*t is truly an Ultra-Atrios-ian example of the damned thing writ pimpled-Limbaugh-*ss large. The, get it rght...the stuck-pig wail from the right is that YouTube somehow has a "liberal" bias. In spite of the fact that in the C&L posting, it notes that the site has the Edwards "I Feel Pretty" bullsh*t, the anti-Hillary 1984 ad, and 25 of the hyper-bigot Malkin's stiff-legged, cue-carded, silly putty-faced spazz-outs available for all to see and vomit-sully their keyboards over.

Not to mention a truly liberal-leaning gem like this one.

Now, I actually stumbled across that little tidbit during a search months ago for Tex Avery cartoons for the kids to watch, as they were fascinated by a Turner Classic Movies block of Droopy cartoons one weekend and wanted to see more. The bit is patently f*cking offensive. It's racist. Yet, I understand why it was there. YouTube is basically a repository for video history, and somebody who was into "completism" opted to upload that bit so one could see the kind of stuff cartoons routinely used for cheap laughs mid-last century. And I have no f*cking problem with it being there. It's clearly, again--racist and ill-liberal in every sense of the word, yet...there it sits--for cartoon completists to peruse, for progressive purists to gnash their teeth over, and for your typical racist wingnut to get a woody (or a splinter--take your choice) and further ruin his computer screen to. You Tube is chock full of videos to stoke the inner fires of even the most pavement-scar knuckled freepers out there--replete with racist, backward, and hateful commentary from those who appreciate rough, cyber-ugliness. It actually is pretty damned egalitarian...unless... you're d*cking around with certain copyrighted material created by litigious entities, <>or...if your piece is particularly coarse in terms of celebrating death of individuals, or is meant as incendiary propaganda of a violent nature.

Which it seems the two videos of Malkin's easily fell under the rubric of. In the case of the Duke Nukem-esque "Hadji Girl" video, well...Chuck Manson revenge fantasies set to music by a member of the military in the theater of war would pretty much be red-flagged, especially as it hit while the nation was coming to grips with the then-new horrors of Abu Gharaib and Haditha. Needless to say, during wartime, a difficult and conflicted wartime, where atrocities were being unearthed, a certain sensitivity was being observed. And rightfully so, considering the potential for needlessly putting innocent soldiers in harm's way with Malkin's brand of gung-ho, let's kill all the ragheads bullsh*t. Her dog-yapping about her precious Akon video being flagged was about the record company using its copyright allowances to block her from trashing their product while broadcasting it. What can be said here except...well, tough sh*t Shelly-kins! Next time, why not plink out the jam in question with those mad keyboard "skills" of yours that make Nixon's hock-fisted ivory-torturing look like Art-f*cking-Tatum. And would you please...sing the offending lyrics, too, as you're big girl, and evidently don't have much of a problem with using the coarse language you so vociferously deride. (And I'm sure that it's just a chuckle-worthy coincidence that this nova-hot pop star she's so f*cking obsessed over happens to not only be Black, but hot-dammit!, a Black African emigré--the first of whom to do so well on the charts. How...perfect for her. :) )

But still, in spite of the wall of bullsh*t YouTube has actually allowed the little, glass-constitutioned shrew to build, brick-by-Father Coughlin-oven-fired brick, the baby wails of "Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Pooooooooooooooooor..." come, with that annoying gulp for air in between words, and then...a ragged, Pavarotti-on-crystal meth "C" shriek of, "Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e!", rings forth--scaring children, and causing dogs' ears to bleed spontaneously. What could have so upset this child to make that sort of noise, when it appears the whole world is her botulism-swollen, little oyster?

While you're figuring that one out, guess what? From eight seats behind you, another diaper-wetter's exercising his glass-busting pipes. Meet James Lileks, ya'll--of the so-perfectly-named, it-hurts-my-heart "Bleat" blog--a pants-soiling, post 9-11 rightie's wet dream of a talking-point megaphone. It seems that Mr. Lileks, also has a paying gig at the much-maligned by the right, Minneapolis Tribune, as a daily columnist. He writes something called "The Quirk"--a compendium of daily navel-gazing and tedium that would make Fargo's banal Marge Gundersson eat her f*cking service revolver--twice, if you read her more than a day's worth. The issue at hand is a simple one: the paper, under attack from the likes of jackleg, wingnut Perry Masons Hugh ('C-Cup") Hewitt and the PowerLine gang, has been sold--and finds itself in supa-dupa cost-cutting mode.

But they didn't fire Lileks. They just shifted him from writing about his addictions to Pepto Bismol, and Target, and the ersatz-Bombeck-ian ruminations on the consistency of his child's bowel movements, to doing actual reportage of local events in the Minneapolis area. Yes, gone will be the days of cashing a check for his mundane, space-filler natterings. He would now have to actually abuse a little shoe leather instead of wearing his precious Dearfoams™ down padding from the chair to the fridge for beef jerky refills and back. If you haven't guessed, this has upset him, almost as much as the day I figure he screwed up and accidentally flushed his robe belt down the crapper. He has called on his blogospheric flying monkey pals to write to the paper they never pay to read, but expend maximum effort tearing down and excoriate it for daring to remove him from the aforementioned fridge-to-chair beat he doggedly covers like a pajama-ed, housebound Seymour Hersh.

Now, let's be clear--his column and his blog are two entirely different things. The column is for local Minnesotans to read and chuckle at, roll into sharpened cones, dip in mucilage, harden, and jab their eyes out with. The "Bleat" is for Depends™-filling, brown people-hating, dead-enders who see hidden Bin Laden messages in ABC Family Channel repeats of 1993's "Aladdin". Two entirely different clienteles. One pays--ostensibly, not enough, because the paper is financially strapped (in no small thanks to the non-stop assaults by Lileks' friends over the last few years), while the other is free of charge to myopic f*cks the world over. Yet, said myopic f*cks are absolutely aghast that the paper would dare re-assign their patron saint of bed-wettery. And Lileks himself is selfishly-to-the-nth-degree upset at the move--when you consider that "The Strib" was also outright laying off over 130 of his fellow staffers.

Get it? He keeps a job, but it now will be a different one--for the same pay (92K!) --involving more "real" work, while his co-horts get to ice-fish for this Thanksgiving's dinner because they lost their gigs--and he, and his wingnut f*ck-buddies are in an uproar because his uniquely banal voice as a columnist will be stilled. Heaven for -f*cking-fend! Ol' "D-Cup" Hewitt actually had the gall (as in gall bladder, where bile is produced) to compare Lileks' reassignment with the hypothetical of The New Yorker reassigning E.B. White to restaurant reviews.

I'll wait while you Windex your screen.

Done? Good. Apparently, the whackdoodle right hemisphere of "Blogworld" is so upset at the move that they've undertaken a massive "get-out-the-astroturf" movement to save Lileks' column--which, did I say, very few must read, because a newspaper in trouble probably wouldn't kill a known revenue generator--especially a supremely innocuous and utterly piffle-filled one as that? I didn't say that? Oops! Well, I fixed it, okay?

But still, the babies wail--from the front of the plane and the back--screaming over...well, bullsh*t, like the leather-lunged tot I was vexed by. Waaaaah! Waaaaah! Waaaaah! Over a f*cking rattle. You've heard it before. Yet, there's something deliciously different with this recent squalling. It's a shade beyond the "War On Christmas", and "Ward Churchill is the Great Satan" yelping we mocked before. This is born of something diffferent. You see, the GWOC (Great War on Xmas) and Churchill-shrieks were the result of simple, garden-variety teeth-gnashing for attention. The super-snits from the right on YouTube and Lileks are the direct results of a change in the wind, of someone--mom and dad/the world in general for once saying..."no."

These are people for whom the word "no" had been Venusian-speak for way too long. They hadn't heard it, ever. This word..."no.""

"No, we will not run your race-baiting little video.""

"No, we will not let you run roughshod over our newspaper's bottom line"

"No, you will not escape jail for repeatedly violating your probation from your DUI conviction".

Oh, yes...not only are we going there, but we're gonna camp out and live off the surrounding flora and fauna awhile.

The pundit-class right, ladies and gents--spoiled hot-milk-in-August rotten like their poster child, Paris Hilton. Like her, just dumb as f*ck. Like her, somehow considered worth a damn in spite of it. And just like her, shocked I tell you...f*cking shocked when at some point, they are called on their bullsh*t. Squealing like pigs, bleating like sheep.

"How the hell can this be happening to me ? ME! I'M SPECIAL, DAMMIT!"

And it's a laugh every time you see it. The Deltas vs. the Omegas. The Omegas freaked.

The Nerds vs. the Jocks. The Jocks spazzed out.

Laura Ingalls vs. Nellie Olesen. Nellie bitching, wailing and tantrum-ing to beat the band..

Ooh, wait! That gives me an i-dea!


There they are folks---your pundit class right. Gone...from G.O.P., to the *N.O.P..

*(N.O.P. = "Nellie Olesen Party.)

- posted by LowerManhattanite