PRINT September 1995


Mim Udovitch's Real Life Rock

Mim Udovitch is a New York-based writer who contributes regularly to The Village Voice, Details, Rolling Stone, and the New York Times Book Review.

  1. MADONNA: “I’m Not Sorry”/NINE INCH NAILS: “Closer”

    Not that these two works don’t have a lot to recommend them on the credit side of the balance sheet, but MTV adds to each an extra dollop of pleasure owing to a debit: the chorus of Madonna’s ode to self contains the word shit, and Trent Reznor’s hymn to otherness the word fuck, with the result that the video versions repeatedly render their respective key lines as “I’m not your bitch, don’t hang your [smash sound] on me,” and “I want to [ ] you like an animal.” No, [ ] you.


    Vixen. As you may have read on the Internet, in Allure, or in the New York Review of Books (just kidding on that last one), Vamp by Chanel is the nail polish of the moment. Perhaps you’ve seen it adorning the digits of Madonna, various supermodels, and all the women who work at Condé Nast—it’s a very, very dark red, near black, and it’s sold out almost everywhere in Manhattan. People have been begging for it, according to a Chanel salesman at Barney’s. Vixen is also hard to find, but it’s considerably cheaper, and looks almost exactly the same. Plus it has a better name.

  3. L.A.P.D.

    Hugh Grant’s mug shot. Like the Nine Months ads said, the comedy event of the
    summer. Like my colleague Kim France pointed out, the guy just can’t take a bad picture.


    Nixon stamps. And this guy can’t take a good one. Where most of the postal service’s works of art in the age of mechanical reproduction tend to lose the blemishes, this rendition of our most recently deceased former president shows him with a gloss of sweat on his brow, a five-o’clock shadow on his cheek, and a look of fear in his eyes that accords strangely with his say-cheese smile. Anecdotal evidence suggests these stamps aren’t selling well, but for my money that’s a lot of art for 32 cents.


    The NBA’s bad boy has led the league in rebounds for four years, dated Madonna, dyed an AIDS ribbon into the back of his head, told Sports Illustrated that he thinks about sleeping with men, appeared on talk shows in pseudodrag, and in general done everything humanly possible to drive adherents of the macho code of conduct commonly thought requisite in his milieu completely nuts. I don’t care if he doesn’t show up for practice, he’s the greatest performance artist in America.


    One of the NBA’s good guys. I identify with him because I too have won a championship at every level except the pros. Well, maybe that’s not why. But where most other centers thank the lord for a victory, Patrick thanks his wife. I think that's sweet.


    diet pink lemonade. I found a bottle of this at the deli near my house in the spring. It was sweet, but not too sweet; tart, but not too tart; pink, but not too pink, if there is such a thing as too pink. Then it was gone, never to return to the refrigerated case. Was I the victim of some cruel test-marketing run? Do I have to write to Wendy the Snapple Lady for beverage guidance? Was it just a dream?


    The patriarchal leading man of Tanqueray’s ubiquitous print ads is not only a shameless rip-off of the work of collage artist and all-around genius Stephen Kroninger. He is not only, owing to his placement in “naughty” situations such as a drag club, a cabaret, and a dinner party rife with suggestion, an insult to one’s own social life. He is not only an embodiment of consumer capitalism’s appropriation of the margin’s attack on the center. He is physically repulsive, a sort of aging Oliver North in a girdle, and the ads insistently harp on his imaginary but nonetheless nausea-inducing below-the-waist aspects. My hatred for him knows no bounds.


    The star of these TV commercials first appeared on the end of a dock, fishing with his father at sunset. As sentimental music swelled, he sidled over to Pop, and said, “Dad . . . there’s something I want to tell you. It’s just that . . . you're my dad. And I love you, man,” “Forget it, Johnny, ” says Dad, “You’re not getting my Bud Light.” This is an unflinching portrait, in 30 seconds, of the emotional insincerity and heartless manipulation that characterize the way alcoholics actually are. Nice for a beer ad.


    History (Sony). Strange as Jackson is, the booklet accompanying this double CD is stranger still. Nestled among the testimonials from Elizabeth Taylor (“Michael is highly intelligent, shrewd, intuitive, understanding, sympathetic, and generous to almost a fault of himself”), Steven Spielberg (“Michael has a heightened sensitivity for the crying needs of this world”), and Dominic Ciscio, age seven (“Dear President Clinton, Please make guns be against the law. Make there be no pollution. Make countres stop fighting. Make there be lower taxas. Stop the reporters from bothering Michael Jackson”), are some of the most alarming depictions of children this side of Henry Darger. One, “Little Susie,” shows a five- or six-year-old girl, or possibly the corpse of one, with glowing gauze bandage at her wrists and around her eyes and chin. Another shows a child backed into a corner, head thrown back and screaming, wearing a white undershirt and underpants tellingly touched with pink shadows at the crotch and nipples. A third, the pencil self-portrait of the child Michael huddled, again, in a corner, makes such a pathetic contrast to the beautiful child he actually was that it’s enough to make you sorry you were ever complicit in whatever it is he gets out of whatever the hell game he’s playing. Doesn’t make me wanna scream though.