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Gawker Deathwatch, Vive La Revolution!

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As a native of Hungary, Nick Denton is surely familiar with what [can happen] when people feel abused and taken advantage of by a heavy-handed autocratic leader. Alas, as the cliché goes, those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it. There’s a nice little rebellion underway right now within the Gawker Media empire — but, unlike the aborted rebellions of Soviet times, in this case the iron curtain is more like a venetian blind open to the world allowing all kinds of messy details to leak into public view. First there was the recent unlovely [public mutiny] of three of the flagship site’s writers and now, to start off the year on a bloody path, Paul Boutin has [posted] on Valleywag an internal memo that details the editorial changes underway at Gawker and the new pay structure that will accompany those changes. The leak is intended as a snarky backhand to Denton’s stated intention of transforming the Gawker sites into “newsier” destinations for more readers, where pageviews trump the value of any particular writer. But in providing the memo, Boutin has inadvertently (?) allowed anyone looking in a view into their business — from estimation of writers’ incomes to advertising strategies…

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Review: There Will Be Blood

There Will Be Blood
There Will Be Boredom Daniel Day-Lewis and Dillon Freasier take taciturn turns in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 158 minute near-miss epic.

The critics are falling all over themselves expressing praise for There Will Be Blood, Paul Anderson’s tale of California roughnecks in the early years of the 20th century oil industry — likening it to Citizen Kane as an epic portrayal of grand themes with larger-than-life characters — but their ardor seems to me a bit forced, evidence more of a longing for qualities that the film promises than an accurate acknowledgment of the film’s lost potential. With few exceptions — most notably Stephanie Zacharek of Salon — it’s clear that the critics want this to be a great movie, just as Anderson clearly wanted to create one: there is a telling aside in an interview with Daniel Day-Lewis in the New York Observer in which he discloses, “Paul thought we were making a blockbuster. I thought we were making a film that would have us sort of drummed out of town with bell, book and candle.” It’s neither a blockbuster nor an abomination and I think it’s more than a bit ironic that Anderson chose to shoot the film in Marfa, Texas — the location that George Stevens used for Giant. In both cases, an ambitious director tried to leverage the vast Western landscape as a suitable canvas for stories meant to depict great American themes and both missed their mark with stories that couldn’t quite fill the frame.

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Diary of a Rat 2008 Predictions

Diary of a Rat 2008 Predictions

This year, Naseem Nicholas Taleb made a big deal out of his “black swan” theory that basically says many important events cannot be predicted. To this I say, balderdash. Balderdash, I say! All it takes to predict the future accurately is a talent for [stating the obvious]. The real challenge is in predicting the unlikely event — in other words, looking at a pile of eggs and knowing which one will hatch a black swan. In this spirit of adventure, I offer my predictions for 2008…

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Christmisc.

Hair and eyeliner against hunger…

In 1984, Band Aid was the first big music celebrity benefit dealie. The musical question is a bit rhetorical (no, they probably don’t know it’s Christmas… in sub-Saharan Africa), but their hearts were in the right place. Worth viewing for Boy George, Marilyn(!) and a pre-trainwreck George Michael alone.

And if you’re in neither a nostalgic nor an altruistic mood this Christmas, well there’s always [this].

Have a Merry.

Glamour and gore at the turn of the century

“Why, I’ll just die of AIDS if I don’t score those Onitsuka Tigers!”

The Meatpacking district in Manhattan used to be a rough industrial zone between the Village and Chelsea where animal carcasses shipped in from the Midwest and beyond were butchered and dressed for restaurants throughout the city. At night, when the factories closed, the area became a shadowy haunt for cruising gays and other sexual renegades who plied their trade on the streets and in the many sex clubs tucked away into its dark corners. Over the past 10 years the area has been targeted by relentlessly voracious developers and has become, inexplicably, a trendy hot spot. The few remaining meat processing plants in the neighborhood sit cheek by jowl with fashion boutiques for Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen. A posh bistro resides in the space formerly occupied by an S&M club. Butchers in gore-encrusted white coats give the glad eye to passing stick figures on their way from one overpriced boutique to another and on hot summer days the stench of blood putrefying in the gutter mixes with the scent of designer perfume to create a uniquely noisome aroma that is — more than anything I can think of — a symbol of life in Manhattan at the turn of the century.

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