Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Six Questions, No Answers

1. Why did someone with a flair for penmanship spray-paint POOP! in black letters---with the exclamation point---on the front of the spanking-new John P. McGovern-Stella Link Branch Library on Stella Link Boulevard in southwest Houston?

2. Why did the Y we’ve belonged to for 17 years suddenly install mirrors on the walls of the area housing the weight machines? Is there no escape from Self (or even Not-Self) anymore?

3. Why did the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd recently write (in a column we read in the Houston Chronicle) that Iraq could turn into a haven for terrorists “that will make the old Afghanistan look like Cipriani’s”? And what or who is Cipriani’s? And why should we have to go to Google to decipher a column in a general-interest newspaper? Is this Cipriani’s the chain of swank restaurants with outposts in New York and London (most likely), or the pizza parlor by the same name in Chicago (highly unlikely), or maybe it’s the home of the kid (now old person, if still extant) who lived up the street from us on North Arlington Drive in the early 1960s (probably not; come to think of it, his name was Cypriano). And doesn’t equating a “terrorist haven” with something called “Cipriani’s” reveal the columnist to be strangely tone-deaf (to be polite)?

4. How come the Houston Chronicle sells the cover of its weekly TV guide to advertisers, but doesn’t provide a disclaimer noting that those covers are indeed advertisements, although it does provide such a disclaimer over the inside “stories” that these covers promote, technically making these “stories” advertisements and not stories in the traditionally accepted journalistic sense of the word “story,” although they are indeed referred to as “stories” in the indexes on the covers? And why are the shows that are so promoted usually not really “shows” in the traditionally accepted television sense of the word “shows,” but rather infomercials for local health care providers that employ present and past local TV news personalities to give them a veneer of journalistic credibility?

5. Tryin’ to make it real: Compared to what?

6. RE: Question 5, When will Dave Chappelle return to TV? We were a little late to the Comedy Central phenomenon that had 12-year-old boys across the country growling “I’m Rick James, bitch” a couple of years ago, but we became quick converts to The Way of Chappelle. Yes, some of it was dumb, unfunny and in atrociously bad taste (even to us), but the man was definitely willing to take a risk, unlike most everybody else on TV (outside of those responsible for The Sopranos, Deadwood, Curb Your Enthusiasm, South Park and The Simpsons, still, on occasion …. That’s it). Much of it, though, was just too damn funny, and some of it bordered on brilliant: Where else could you see anything smarter, including on the above five parenthetically mentioned shows, as Chappelle’s “When Keepin' It Real Goes Wrong” routine (“Keepin' It Real” no longer being an exclusively African-American priority, if it ever was---in fact, we’ve read that Thomas Sowell has detected a pronounced hereditary strain of keeping-it-real-ism in the early Scots-Irish settlers to this country) or those bits with Eddie Murphy’s brother, especially the one about playing basketball at Prince’s house? Being introduced to Chappelle while monitoring our teenager’s viewing habits was like randomly stumbling across SNL back in ’75: Where did that come from? Of course, it made perfect sense when we learned that Chappelle is a professor’s son who has a farm in Ohio or someplace like that and is a convert to Islam. So Dave, come back---we know you’ve got a lot to live up to, but even second-rate Chappelle is better than no Chappelle.

Correction Corner: In the August 10, 2005 posting on Slampo’s Place, or maybe it was August 11, we misstated the model year of a vehicle in which a group of teenagers we referred to as “Slampo & Co.” traveled in the summer of 1972 in an unsuccessful effort to see the Rolling Stones at Hofheinz Pavillion in Houston. The vehicle that made this trip was a 1960 Ford Falcon, not a 1964 Ford Falcon. Slampo’s Place regrets the error.

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