Homo homini rodentius est

What’s wrong with this picture?

Maya Angelou and The Olsen Twins
Culture Shock Union Square Barnes & Noble bookstore, New York City, October 25, 2008.

Monkey’s paw tossed into flames; Radar Magazine returns to its grave

Radar Magazine RIP
“Get down and stay down!”

It isn’t often a Halloween story involves a zombie announcing, “Feh!” turning around in its tracks and shambling back to the crypt whence it came. But that’s exactly the holiday tale that [Gawker] and [HuffPo] were relaying today when they announced that, yet again, Radar Magazine has lost its funding and will be shuttered.

I’ve [had] [fun] in the past tossing brickbats at Radar “The Little Magazine that Couldn’t” and its endless soap opera of being wooed by investors only to suffer unrequited funding, but there was a bigger story here beyond the questionable need for yet another celebrity-obsessed rag in an era up to its eyes in such tripe. It was a tragic… no, make that poignant — no, leave it tragic… tale of a promising young magazine editor caught at the turning of the tide in the publishing industry. Maer Roshan grew up worshiping Spy and Interview and Vanity Fair and wanted — so very much — to create something that would join those illustrious titles in the pantheon of magazine history. Alas, time and tide (and technology) wait for no man’s dreams of glory and Roshan, who I don’t think ever really got the internet, found the hallowed ground he sought crumbling under his feet as the online earthquake destroyed old print business models. It must sting that the only surviving part of the Radar opus will be the radaronline.com website which will be purchased by AMI, publishers of Star and the National Enquirer.

It was rumored back in 2006 when Roshan was shopping the magazine around to investors for its second iteration that he had been offered the job of editor at the revamped Star. Roshan, seeking a loftier roost, turned that opportunity down and it went to Bonnie Fuller, instead. Now AMI picks up the only valuable part of Radar — the website — for a song. Irony’s a bitch, huh?

Boomtown goes bust

Empty Storefronts in Greenwich Village
Another one bites the dust: Empty storefronts are multiplying in the neighborhood.

While pundits and economists quibble about whether the recession has actually gotten underway, yet, I was presented with stunning evidence of how it will look this morning as I walked through Greenwich Village. On the short walk up Bleeker Street from Christopher to Magnolia Bakery on 11th Street I counted 12 empty storefronts. Twelve. In what is perhaps the most sought-after residential area of Manhattan. I’ve never seen anything like that in the 24 years I’ve lived in the city.

It was obvious what has happened: during the go-go run up of the real estate boom greedy landlords ran out established neighborhood businesses by hiking leases to astronomical levels and now, with the boom over and credit locked up by a paralyzed financial system, they can’t fill the spaces. I have, of course, not a scintilla of sympathy for the landlords — they get what they deserve. But I regret that a neighborhood’s identity was gutted by their greed. Perhaps, if the recession is long enough and deep enough, it will create an opportunity for small businesses that are truly needed by residents to return. Less flash, more utility. We’re covered for designer dress shops, thank you — but a hardware store sure would be nice.

Yahoo! Historical Stock Prices

Yahoo! historical stock price
Yahoo! closing price (adjusted for splits and dividends) on September 21, 2001

Armchair stock analysts are making hay over the fact that Yahoo!’s stock price is again hovering around the point where Microsoft made it’s unsolicited bid for the company earlier in the year. Much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth. But things have been worse. Back in 2001, the double whammy of the Web 1.0 stock bubble bursting along with 9/11 drove them to a closing price of $8.68 ($4.34, adjusted) on September 21 of that year. Relax, people — comparatively speaking these are the good times! It can get so much worse.

Dark Knight reviewed: Heath Ledger “mad-crazy-blazing brilliant”

All images © 2008 Warner Brothers Pictures
Click thumbnails to enlarge.

Last night Warner Brothers began press previews of The Dark Knight and today the first reviews started appearing. Writing in [Rolling Stone], Peter Travers gives the 2 and a half hour epic 3.5 stars and goes into superlative overdrive, ending a glowing review by saying, “the haunting and visionary Dark Knight soars on the wings of untamed imagination. It’s full of surprises you don’t see coming. And just try to get it out of your dreams.” Elsewhere, he likens Christopher Nolan’s film to the Godfather Part 2 and A Clockwork Orange — other classics that redefined a genre.

He calls out Christian Bale and Heath Ledger for special mention — Bale’s Batman, driven by an almost mad obsession with crime and vengeance, mirrors his antagonist and struggles to overcome his own strange impulses as much as his enemy. Travers invokes Pacino’s Michael Corleone in describing Bale’s performance for its multi-layered complexity. As for Ledger, Travers writes that he could be the first posthumous Oscar winner since Peter Finch won for Network. It would only be justice, considering how he was robbed for Brokeback Mountain.

MTV [reviews] the movie against 6 “Key Superhero-Movie Factors”, including “Wow”, “Cheese” and “Darkness”. It comes out well on all and they end the review by saying, “It’s the best “Batman” movie ever made, hands down.”

Advance business on the movie is already heading toward Spiderman 3 levels. Better buy your tickets now — with 3 weeks until the July 18 release, Wired is [reporting] that early shows are selling out. I already have mine. 😉

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