Friday, April 07, 2006

Or what are we, as a society, doing wrong to deserve a television show like Wilmer Valderrama's Yo Momma?

"Hi, my name is Wilmer and I like hair gel."

Showgirls, Baywatch, Maxim magazine. Add Yo Momma to the list of history's cultural low-points. Except Wilmer Valderrama's newest show for MTV will never have the same societal impact as the other do. Hopefully, it will be cancelled in a few weeks. "Yo Momma" is as asinine and juvenile as a "yo momma" joke. And not in a good way. In fact, the new show is insulting to creative people worldwide and while the former music channel's standards are admittedly not high, there has to be a cap for offensive stupidity.

The premise is very simple: Valderrama, famous for both his role as Fez on the sitcom That 70's Show and for dating misbehaved minors, scours California for local trash-talkers to eventually pit the two finalists against each other for a rooftop show-down. Then the "spontaneous" and mostly average jokes are flung in the air like blunted verbal daggers followed by over-the-top crowd reactions (you can almost feel the intern holding up the cue card reading "LAUGH NOW!"). It doesn't take much to inspire Valderrama himself to run euphoric circles around the roof in response to an obviously bland zinger; in fact, this is when the talentless hack conjures up the best acting of his career.

But it's not the concept behind the show that's so truly offensive--that being said, airing a half-hour of two random people with no previous shared history to simply insult each other is pretty vitriolic--but rather, it's the concept of power being given to the fleet of no-talent personalities. Valderrama was probably given cart-blanche for the show because his name is a draw, like Jessica Simpson, who has been on the cover of more magazines for essentially doing nothing more than getting divorced. But why recognize the Miami native with his own non-substantive show? Is it because he has a strong dating track record including Ashlee Simpson, Lindsey Lohan, and Mandy Moore? Or maybe he's featured on a regular basis in weekly tabloids, as well, consistently appearing on the pop culture radar? Or perhaps his best-friend Ashton Kutcher's clout (which is really clout borrowed from his wife Demi Moore) is more powerful at MTV than we think? Nevertheless, we celebrate Valderrama's existence because the recklessness of his private life feeds our thirst for celebrity gossip. And if the following two examples don't prove my point, I'm not sure if anything will; Nicole Ritchie has written a book. Paris Hilton is recording an album.

In a profile from the April 3rd The New York Times Valderrama said, "I'm really focusing on the next chapter of my life. I've got to keep growing as an entertainer, keep challenging myself."

It's unfortunate that Valderrama sees Yo Momma as "challenging himself." I just hope he's not banking on that Oscar nomination for his role in the upcoming movie version of CHiPs.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


When the broker leaves his home to show apartments, he never comes fully dressed.

Bring Back Sincerity: Thank you so much for joining us tonight, Real Estate Broker. I know your schedule must be very full so...
Real Estate Broker: For you? Honest, I would always make time for you. Not so for other people but you're special. Seriously.
BBS: Wow. Thank you for your kind words.
REB: Now, I could tell you what you want to hear but I won't. I say the truth and I know this is a great interview. You won't find an interview like this anywhere in the world. This is a truly amazing opportunity. Truly.
BBS: Ha ha. Okay shall we begin the interview?
REB: I am absolutely ready. I have an appointment in twenty minutes but the next one thousand and two hundred seconds are special. Not like that other appointment. I feel it. There's a vibe here. In my gut.
BBS: When did you start working as a real estate broker in New York?
REB: Well, I can answer that question with two answers...actually, let me answer it with two answers converted into a three-part answer. So really it's two answers but the answers are so impressive that there's room to turn it into three answers. My first answer is that I simply love people. I want to do good things for them. I want to find them a great, affordable place. It's all I want. The broker's fee is incidental. I feel like I could do this job for free. Secondly, I get great exercise. I love walking around New York from place to place with people I hardly know spending sometimes hours showing off exciting and new places. I also happen to be a very big fan of gentrification. I think it is so in right now.
BBS: Do you enjoy the hustle of being a broker?
REB: I am going to answer this question now. Do you know why?
BBS: Why?
REB: Because if I wait a few more minutes this question may be gone. Crazy, I know. But if I hesitate in answering your terrific, well-researched question then I may never have the chance to answer it. Period. That's how these things work. It's there one minute, and gone the next. I always answer good questions right away because, frankly, I hate to say it, someone may answer it instead of me. And then I would live the rest of my life regreting that I didn't answer that question...
BBS: Where are you from?
REB: Where do you want me to be from?
BBS: When you list an apartment, would you consider the small maid's room as a full bedroom?
REB: Sure. I know a lot of very short people who would consider that room ideal. There are little people who don't need a ton of space and that's perfect for them. In fact, not considering that a real bedroom may even be offensive to those small people. Have you considered that?
BBS: Brokers have a very bad reputation. People say they're shady. They're dishonest and the only interests they have is their own. Can you address that?
REB: This is the first I'm hearing of that. And to be honest, I can't even imagine where that reputation would even come from.
BBS: Can we do a word-association now?
REB: Absolutely.
BBS: Okay, here we go. Low-income family.
REB: I wish I had something to show you but I don', wait, you said "word association" not "role playing," right?
BBS: Yes, please. Now, Harlem.
REB: Upper Upper West Side.
BBS: Walk-up.
REB: Excercise-conduscive.
BBS: Affordable.
REB: Impossible.
BBS: Speaking of; what do you think will happen to all the people who can't afford living in New York City anymore?
REB: Well, I could always show them some lovely apartments in Albany, which is actually now known as North Manhattan. Or as we say, NoMa.
BBS: Our time has run out. Broker, I want to thank you for coming and speaking with Bring Back Sincerity.
REB: My pleasure. Seriously. Here's my card. Call me if you ever need a place to live. I am the best in the business. Do not waste your time with anyone else. No one else.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Last night, I had the good fortune of attending one of the five historic Gorillaz shows happening at Harlem's Apollo Theater (for a short summary/review, see Jane). When I got to the venue, I went immediately to the press check-in and picked up my tickets from the publicist. Shana and I were then escorted (fancy!) to our seats, which, I assumed, was a section reserved for press.

Moments later, a brown-haired, bespectacled girl sat next to me and, assumingly, her boyfriend, bearded and stoic, sat next to her. Initially, they didn't speak much. He opened a bag of snacks that he had snuck into the theater (shame on you for not sharing!) and thereafter picked up his phone to have a conversation. Shana and I were sitting there since 8:00 PM (as instructed) and it was already 8:40 and I was getting antsy. And when I get antsy, I make conversation with random strangers.

"So, I'm assuming you guys are press too..." I said to Glasses on my right.

She smiled, shrugged and then pointed to Beard on her right.

"Oh, cool. What does he write for?" Which I too have been asked over and over again but never have I been given this response.

"You’ll have to ask him. He's pretty private about that stuff."

And then I replay the question in my head over-and-over again. Maybe she misheard my question. Or maybe Beard is really embarrassed about the publication he writes for? Maybe he writes for Quilt Magazine and feels revealing this information would make him small in my eyes. I would tell him it's okay. As long as it pays, it's all-good. And besides, I'm sure it has a high readership. People like quilts.

I'm persistent, so I persist. Beard is still on the phone, so I try Glasses again. At this point, I don't even care who he writes for. It's the principle. Withholding information is so fourth grade and my stubbornness is, umm, admittedly third grade.

"So, are you going to tell me yet? Or is it really a big secret?" I ask half-jokingly.

"I'll have to ask him," she says again with an apologizing look in her eyes. So I think, maybe she's just his arm candy and doesn't really know. Or maybe he beats her at night for talking too much in public. I want to say to her, it's okay to leave him. You are better than that. There are people who can help you. Just take that first step. Go now. Run when the lights do down!

Beard finally gets off the phone and she leans over and begins to talk while pointing to me. They exchange whispers to one another. Beard isn't looking amenable to the information leak. I feel like I should slide a suitcase of money his way to tempt him in exchange for what he knows. I can make you rich. I can make you very, very rich. I look around me to see if I was followed.

She sits back and says nothing. All of a sudden, I no longer exist. Glasses cuts off all communication like Iraq during peace talks. I start convincing myself that I don't care anymore but eventually, I accept the fact that I'm kinda annoyed. Unless this guy is the editor-in-chief of the New York Times, and I don't think he is, this is all pretty silly.

I tell Shana about our exchange. She laughs and says, "Maybe he doesn't like Jews." I consider that. I know some people that don't like Jews. Sometimes, I don't blame them. But I also consider that maybe he's a top-secret agent hiding out at a Gorillaz show. Maybe there is a team of trained government killers looking for him as we speak and the last place they would look for him was at the Apollo Theater. How sly of cunning.

I get up to the bathroom and run into a friend of mine, and we're making small talk and he says ever so casually, "I see you're sitting next to the Brooklyn Vegan guy."

For those not familiar, Brooklyn Vegan is not a guide to vegetarian restaurants in Brooklyn. It is, essentially, a compilation of links featuring upcoming indie rock shows and streams of upcoming releases. It will not save lives. It is not a secret weapon. It is not the New York Times. Heck, it rarely has content.

I am bummed. That's the big secret? The dude sitting next to me is a blogger? How very anti-climactic. I feel let down like I was watching M. Night's The Village all over again. Had Glasses just told me, I would have said, "cool" and leaned back into my seat and thought, eh, I never check that website any way. But why would they not tell me? Was it because Beard knew I had meatballs for dinner and that truly offended his vegan sensibilities? Was it because of my secureness in realizing that I too was merely a blogger in this crazy mixed-up world but felt free about revealing it to those who asked? Was it because he was embarrassed about his chosen URL? We would have regaled in the hilarity of our unfortunate website names (I mean, "Bring Back Sincerity"? If anyone could understand...). Another round of drinks for the two bloggers with silly blog names, bartender!

At the end of the night, after the show, I leaned over to Glasses and said with great, childish satisfaction, "I'll be sure to check out that Vegan website of his tomorrow for a review." But what I really wanted to say was, it's just a blog, dude.