PRINT January 1996


Jeff Weinstein’s Real Life Rock

Jeff Weinstein is a writer based in New York.

  1. Egg Theft

    “Genes are, at least in my opinion, not that important.” So claims Dr. Ricardo H. Asch, whose fertility clinic at the University of California, Irvine, is accused of harvesting fertilizable ova from patients without their consent and implanting them in other women: kidnapping the Right-to-Life way. If true, this deserves the Top Ten triple imprimatur for medical hubris, criminal inevitability, and talk-show potential. The good doctor, by the way, has apparently planted himself safely in another country.

  2. Schiap Bug Collar

    At “A Slice [rather, a sliver] of Schiaparelli,” the Brooklyn Museum, through March 24. Along with Schiap’s shoe chapeau, this 1938 collar, a Perspex snap-fastened necklace overrun with life-size, tinted-metal beetles and flies, is supposed to be the accessory that best ties fashion to art via Surrealism. What it actually does demonstrate is how quiet, even insignificant, this media-hatched object looks now. The designer’s creativity is better found in her deliberate move from boutique to couture. She quickly figured that only from an exclusive peak could she peddle her perfume—Shocking—to Macy’s masses. Obviously there was no turning back.

  3. Dirt and Worms

    This great new supermarket treat for kids (“Eeeeew!”) is supplemented with irony. How did Duncan Hines get chocolate-cake mix to come out of the oven looking like particulate crumbs of rich dark earth? Easy, that’s what additives are for. The slimy jelly worms were also a snap. But was Dunc’s R&D aware, somewhere in its uncollective unconscious, that dirt and worms—real fertile dirt, real roiling worms—are exactly what agribusiness in all its rapacious forms is erasing, perhaps permanently, from the Earth?

  4. Mark Christopher

    Alkali, Iowa (Forefront Films). In this year of particularly ham-handed filmmaking, Mark Christopher’s 17-minute narrative study (with Mary Beth Hurt and J. D. Cerna) offers the pungency absent from all mainstream and most independent film. Story: a young gay farmer unearths his absent father’s secret life. Rarely has economy of scale and time captured such a quantity of tone. This is because the film taps the core of gay liberation: that finding the truth about the past equals telling the truth about the present. A similar feature is forthcoming.

  5. AOL Haiku

    Unlike Echo or the Well, the most elite and self-selective of computer network servers, the profusely advertised America Online (see 6) has the advantage of attracting the middle-class cross-section that defines what’s left of a “public.” To everyone’s surprise, the most radical shape this democracy-by-computer takes is the so-called Member’s Chat Room. Anyone can name a room (up to 19 letters and spaces), and anyone (up to 23 people) can stroll or scroll into that room if its name is successful in lassoing his or her arcane sexual, political, or personal jones. At the end of the cyber day (which never really ends), scores of spent chat-room names lie waiting for the lucky voyeur reader. Why lucky? Because mandatory brevity in the service of ultraspecific desire results, as it always has, in poetry:

    Barber shop female
    Vampires in Florida
    Do dog over phone

    Corporate dungeon
    Wife out hurry, Sickcyber
    Doll-sized man, Son peeks

    Racist white women
    My aunt’s milk, Pagan teahouse
    Hermaphrodite room

  6. AOL TV Spots

    So how do you get the hermaphrodite next door to subscribe to America Online and not to Prodigy or H&R Block’s CompuServe? Hire TBWA Chiat/Day to create an atmosphere of national, though sexless, naughtiness. Farmer Jones argues with a “fella in Washington” in the NAFTA chat room, then blows out the computer screen with his shotgun. A salaryman sits at his station, looking like he’s working, but “thanks to America Online, I’m really just goofing off”—or really just jerking off, as AOL habitués of course know. At his boss’ $2.95 an hour, too.

  7. Mobile ATMs

    When they claim green-backs are on their way out, ask them what Fleet Bank’s ATM in a truck is doing at a cash-hungry event near you. Sure we’re on the info frontier—John Ford’s. This is our stagecoach. Stick ’em up.

  8. 1996 Bodies, Male

    A period’s significant fashion consists not only of the clothes a body carries, but of the ideal body itself. So, men, after these eons of shoulders and abs, the very latest word from the urban-gym-slash-meat-market is svelte. Oh, the relief! Lean, not mean; stamina, not strength. Gym money becomes low-interest investment, and successful males will look supple and flexible, like snakes. The next step? Painless pec reduction. In-line ambling. Buns of Meal.

  9. 1996 Bodies, Female

    Where are women’s bodies going? If this year’s spring lines are any indication, they are spliced: Ann-Margret top, Amber Valletta bottom, making it possible for almost everyone concerned to be half in style—or half out. Preferred tops? Fringed bolero, cabana car coat. Preferred fabrics? Silk shantung, Daisy Mae tablecloth prints. Preferred hues? Acid pastels, cool blues. If you can’t smoke, you’ll at least be able to light up those cigarette pants. Who are you? Audrey Hepburn and Dame Edna, in shifts.

  10. Naive Quote

    Munich dealer Charlotte Zander, explaining in the November 1995 art & auction how the Yugoslav government and other dealers have pushed naive artists into kitschy and profitable mass production: “I don’t fault the artists. . . . After all, can you blame a Croatian farmer for wanting a BMW or Mercedes?”