NPF: SICK BURNAGE

Two things.

1. I enjoyed reading the Guardian's back-handed insult of an obituary to Jesse Helms. Although it was restrained – more condescending and glib than mean – it reminded me of some others I've enjoyed, including The New York Times' scathing obituary of John C. Breckenridge (warning: contains old-timey 1860s-speak) or H.L. Mencken's over-the-top vituperative send-off of William Jennings Bryan. Though written 70 years ago, it could be cut-and-pasted for Helms today:

Bryan was a vulgar and common man, a cad undiluted. He was ignorant, bigoted, self-seeking, blatant and dishonest. His career brought him into contact with the first men of his time; he preferred the company of rustic ignoramuses. It was hard to believe, watching him at Dayton, that he had traveled, that he had been received in civilized societies, that he had been a high officer of state. He seemed only a poor clod like those around him, deluded by a childish theology, full of an almost pathological hatred of all learning, all human dignity, all beauty, all fine and noble things. He was a peasant come home to the dung-pile.

This Helms-inspired trip down memory lane reminded me of just how much I enjoy a vicious, scathing piece of journalism, some deserving person or thing being ripped to shreds. Outside of the obituary page, my favorite example has to be Matt Taibbi's review of Thomas Friedman's The World Is Flat (read it. seriously, read it.)

On an ideological level, Friedman's new book is the worst, most boring kind of middlebrow horseshit. If its literary peculiarities could somehow be removed from the equation, The World Is Flat would appear as no more than an unusually long pamphlet replete with the kind of plug-filled, free-trader leg-humping that passes for thought in this country. It is a tale of a man who walks 10 feet in front of his house armed with a late-model Blackberry and comes back home five minutes later to gush to his wife that hospitals now use the internet to outsource the reading of CAT scans.

Let's keep this theme going: what are your favorite examples? Nasty book reviews, movie reviews, music reviews, obituaries, restaurant critics….anything. Help me out here.

2. Hold on, I have to go step in front of a speeding train because this band and this band not only exist but, with 100,000+ myspace friends apiece, are about 1082820865 times more popular than mine. (make sure your speakers are turned on! wouldn't want to miss the good stuff!) Seriously, fuck it. I'm just going to start a "band" of rapping clowns. It will be 1780s-themed and called Articlez of Krunkfederation. Unless you have a better idea (note: all suggestions must incorporate the word "krunk.")

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12 Responses to “NPF: SICK BURNAGE”

  1. Chris Says:

    Option A: Jump off cliff
    Option B: Continue living with the knowledge that I may hear music like that again.

  2. Heqit Says:

    This isn't something I found, but Sars at Tomato Nation had a very enjoyable link to/discussion of Walter Kirn's takedown of James Frey recently:
    http://tomatonation.com/?p=2443

  3. mike Says:

    brokeNCYDE has some really sharp sneakers – who is in charge of making sure the sneakers of each of the members of tremfu co-ordinates well with their preselected image? Someone should take ownership of that responsibility.

    Speaking of 1780s-themed, there was a band who played at Mike and Mollys a few times where they were the ghosts of revolutionary war soldiers who rocked.

    http://www.ubl.com/artists/bang76/
    http://bang76.com/

  4. Brandon Says:

    Mencken's dispatches from the Scopes trial were priceless. It's hard to imagine a nationally sindicated journalist getting away with that kind of irreverance towards the "common folk" today.

    On the subject of obituaries, I remember Christopher Hitchens wrote a lovely piece in the wake of Reagan's passing, "The Stupidity of Ronald Reagan."

    Regarding reviews, we have a copy at home of a collection of Ebert's most hated movie reviews. Most of them are easy targets, but there are a few reviews of largely critically acclaimed films, as well.

  5. pmayo Says:

    Last year Colin McGinn reviewed Ted Honderich's book On Consciousness. It was spleen-alicious. Here' the opening salvo:

    This book runs the full gamut from the mediocre to the ludicrous to the merely bad. It is painful to read, poorly thought out, and uninformed. It is also radically inconsistent.

    It gets better from there: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~uctytho/McGinnReview.html

  6. beau Says:

    i am remided of a reviewer that used to own my hometown's streetpress. he'd do a 'short' and 'long' review of each cd. one of my favorites went along the lines of – "short review- shit. Long review – complete shit". you can probably extrapolate the state of Brisbane's music scene from these words.

  7. Nan Says:

    Historically, Cuvier did quite a slice and dice number when LaMarck died back in 1829. He succeeded in such a thorough trashing that LaMarck's reputation never has recovered. Granted, it took Cuvier several years to write the essay, but once he did it turned into the final word on LaMarck for a long, long time.

    And, speaking of obits speaking the truth about the dead, this morning C-Span made the mistake of taking phone calls on the subject of the recently deceased Tony Snow. Lots and lots of "condolences to his family, but the man was a political hack." Can we assume Helms now has a press agent in Hell, or does Snow's personal affability get him off the hook for being a front man for so much failed policy, not to mention his role in turning Faux News into the thriving cesspool it is?

  8. vghoul Says:

    1. Bless you for linking to that Taibbi v. Friedman piece. My father got me the book he's eviscerating there for Christmas and I've still yet to understand what he found in any way worthwhile about it. Glut of demented starry-eyed nonsense, except they're not even real stars. Stinks of the same shit as the BEAD.

    2. I remember reading a review of Pop Will Eat Itself's "Dos Dedos Mis Amigos" record about 12 years ago that read simply "Itself itsn't the only thing this pop eats," but I can't recall where.

    3. "Krunkstravaganza?"

  9. Hater Lover Says:

    I read an excellent and scathing review of Cormac McCarthy's "No Country for Old Men" not long ago. I think it was on Editor & Publisher; I tried to find it to link to it, but alas. In essence, it called McCarthy out for lazing about on his laurels while writing an almost unreadable so-called novel. Special attention was given to his extensive use of italics (which, having been paid peanuts to edit a number of vanity press pieces'o'crap, is a common device used by amateurish aspiring authors who know next to nothing about how to actually get published, let alone write), as well as a number of glaring inaccuracies, anachronisms, et cetera.
    Band Names: Krunker Hill, Benjamin Krunklin and Congress Krunkadelic, Krunkstitutional Democacy, and (Ups to my boy Dave Hume, late 18th C. Uber-Pimp): Hume's Krunk, A Krunkuiry Concerning Human Krunkderstanding, The Missing Shade of Krunk, Dialogues Krunkcerning Natural Religion.

  10. Sanderson Says:

    Thanks! Love your blog ;)

  11. Seligman Says:

    great sharing! thanks.