Subscriber Services Weather

Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

This has really been bugging me

I'm not a parent yet, most of you know. But I think I have a little good sense.

So think about these rhetorical questions, these scenarios: First, you have a teenage daughter.

BTW, this is a long post. So I hope you have a few minutes to read.

Anyway, let's say your hypothetical daughter is 15. God forbid she's an irresponsible child, but let's say like many teens she's sexually active. Conceding that it is a given you would be angry to find out that your daughter is engaging in sexual activity, how old would the boy have to be for his age to make you angry too?

If he was also 15 would it enrage you that he was engaging in sexual activity with your 15-year-old daughter? What about if he was 16? Seventeen?

My snap judgment upon hearing about the criminal case of Genarlow Wilson was that (A) I too would be angry, period, to find my teen daughter was having sex, and (B) my go-bananas point would come if the boy was older than 17.

Don't ask me why. I guess I figured that at 17 the boy would also be a minor. So they'd both still technically be kids.

Last hypothetical: Flip the script, and imagine that it's your 15-year-old son we're talking about and the 17-year-old girl who's crushing on him. Or your child is the 17-year-old.

OK, enough meditating and cryptic talk. A couple of weeks ago I was driving back to the office from an interview, doing my usual AM talk radio channel surfing. And I came across a show where the host was talking about a young Georgia man named Genarlow Wilson.

I was doing a little homework earlier this evening and inadvertently stumbled across a story on the Web reminding me about Wilson.

A few years ago at a reportedly wild New Year's Eve party in Douglasville, GA, then 17-year-old Genarlow Wilson and five buddies engaged in sex acts with two 15-year-old girls. There was lots of booze being consumed and pot being smoked by some of the guys and one of the two girls. The second girl later told police she didn't drink or smoke anything that night. The sex acts were even videotaped. None of these kids was up for saint child of the year.

Girl number one, the one who did drink and smoke, awoke on New Year's Day in the hotel room where the party took place and she was naked, except for socks. She called her mother in a panic. Mom picked daughter up, took her home, and told her to bathe right away 'cause she reeked of booze and weed. Daughter complied but then broke down and told mom she thought the guys at the party might have raped her. Mom and daughter went to the local police and filed a report.

Police went to the hotel where Genarlow Wilson, the other guys, and girl number two (and some other kids) were still sleeping off their wild night.

Cutting to the chase, several of the guys told investigators they'd had consensual sexual intercourse with girl number one, the girl who called her mom. Wilson told investigators he'd received oral sex from girl number two. And girl number two reiterated to investigators that she drank nothing, smoke nothing and had no intention of pressing charges against any of the guys, because she had willingly (and reportedly eagerly, according to the videotape) performed on the guys.

The guys faced a variety of charges, including rape and child molestation. Five of them had been in trouble with the law before. One of them had even faced other sex charges and had a pending case at the time of the New Year's Eve party. The five who had been in trouble before copped pleas for lighter sentences. Wilson, the only one with a clean record (as well as a 3.2 GPA and multiple scholarship offers, etc.), refused to accept a deal.

His logic: he was 17, she was 15, and they both wanted to do what they did. Witness testimony and the videotape would clear him, he thought. So he'd be OK with the jury.

It wasn't OK. Aside from all their behavior being dumb, irresponsible, dangerous, etc., in Georgia having oral sex with a person under the age of 16 constitutes Aggravated Child Molestation. It carries a mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison and the lifelong label of sex offender. Ironically, actual intercourse with a teen under 16 carries less mandatory jail time in Georgia.

Wilson was charged with rape and child molestation. A jury acquitted him of raping girl number one, with whom he had allegedly engaged in intercourse. However, in accordance with Georgia law Wilson was convicted of Aggravated Child Molestation for the oral sex with girl number two. He got the 10 years. During his trial, down the hall in another courtroom a 27-year-old female high school teacher was convicted of having a sexual relationship with a male student. He was 17. The teacher got three years probation and just 90 days in jail.

Wilson has been in prison now for two years, with many more to go. The Georgia legislature has since altered the applicable law. Had he been convicted after the alteration Wilson would have faced a max of 12 months in jail.

It's important to note that the guys and girls told investigators that they really hadn't considered each other's ages 'cause they were all classmates, under 18, etc. In other words they figured as long as everyone was willing what they were doing was OK, 'cause they were all peers.

Am I the only one bothered by this guy serving a 10-year prison term for having consensual oral sex with a teen who was two years his junior at the time? Or did none of you, as 17 or 18-year-old high school seniors, even do "things" with classmates who were two or three years younger than you?

Oral sex. 15, 17. 10 years. Maybe I'm getting soft, but that seems harsh.

Labels: , , , ,

You can't make this stuff up

I just noticed that the church on the corner of my block - the other end of the block, away from my house - is setting up for their annual festival/carnival thingy. It usually lasts a weekend.

Usually in the afternoons the church pumps instrumental (piano) versions of old-school gospel hymns over its sound system. You can hear 'em blocks away. It's a pleasant enough sound.

Last year this time though I was awakened from my bed on a Saturday morning to the strains of Highway to Hell. I got up shook the cobwebs out, and walked outside to see where the music was coming from.

It was blasting from the church festival. Go figure. This year they'll probably kick things off with Lucifer Loves You.

Labels: , ,

Monday, February 26, 2007

A little bed-time reading

Here's a cached link from Google of my most recent article - ran in Sunday's paper. The direct link was broken. I think that has something to do with the Miami Herald Web site being a little out of sorts right now due to a heavy duty maintenance overhaul.

Anywho, it's nothing fancy. Just a short profile of a husband and wife as part of our new series on long-lasting love and how different couples found each other and fell for one another.

Click here if you're curious.

Labels: , ,

Only in Miami

What's wrong with this picture? No prank. I snapped it Saturday morning, while running around with my bros-in-law.


Attention parents, I need to know something

First, my disclaimer: I swear I'm not clowning. I have nothing but respect and admiration for any and all responsible parents.

But Mrs. B and I are working on creating the next generation of James or Jill (that's Mrs. B). So I have to know from you parents, particularly those parents of children under the age of 3, do you base all your decisions on what to do on the status of your kids?

What I mean by status is whether they're hungry or full, how long till their next meal, whether they're wide awake or sleepy or likely to become sleepy anytime soon, whether something entertaining or relaxing will interest them as much or more than you or whether it's something only you would enjoy as an adult.

I watched with great interest my brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law all last week and over the weekend with their kids. They're all great parents. Very attentive, etc.

But I noticed, as much as they all love being parents (of a couple of 2-year-olds, an 8-month-old, and a 7-year-old), they are literally hamstrung depending on the kids' status.

There is no just waking up and going to the mall. There is waking up and deciding whether or not the mall is viable based on when the baby's is next likely to nap.

There is no just waking up and going to the beach, or the museum, or the zoo (substitute wherever you might take your kids here). There is waking up and deciding whether you go to the beach for one hour or four, to the museum for one hour or two, and so on and so forth, depending on when the kids are likely to want to sleep/eat/poop.

Again, I'm impressed as hell with how my bros and sis's-in-law handle their business. Still, I'm guessing I'm a little naive. I always figured regardless of whether you were at the mall or the park or the museum or the grocery, or wherever, you just toss kids in strollers and if they hafta poop they can do it in the stroller (not literally in the stroller, but you know what I mean), if they have to eat they can eat in the stroller, if they have to sleep...

But is this what I have to look forward to, my life being put on a round-the-clock schedule based on what my infants-to-toddlers want/need? I mean I understand over night sleep being an issue. You have to get them in a pattern and stick with it, right? But everything, round-the-clock?

Very disturbing. I think I'll just adopt an 18-year-old with a job, maybe.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Live from the Burnettiquette Hall of Justice

See what hanging out with family will do to ya? Normally I don't even like throwing water balloons, unless it's at hippies and litterbugs. But somehow this morning I found myself a few miles from Burnettiquette World Headquarters at a gun range, scratching my head and popping off a (very, very legal) small arms arsenal at little paper guys with targets on their chests.

Me and the .38 revolver.

Me, Osama, and the Colt .357. Sorry, that was the extent of our anti-terror budget. But it's better than the slingshot I started with.

Next week, I'm going after Bambi. Just kidding. I don't eat cute animals.

Labels: , ,

Friday, February 23, 2007

Ask James Anything Friday

I hope I'm not the only one who believes in "Better late than never," 'cause even though i's evening, it is still Friday, and this is our second installment of ask me whatever the heck you want...ANYTHING!

If you read the previous post, I'm still co-hosting visiting in-laws and will be till Saturday evening.

Please, give me your questions, and I'll start answering them tomorrow (maybe tonight when everyone falls asleep), and I'll answer through Monday morning, when we start this game over again.

One More Day/Act of War

So I'm co-hosting my in-laws for one more day. They're headed back up north Saturday night and I'll be back to my regular schedule.

In the mean time, I am washing my eyes out with soap, harsh soap.

Just a short while ago I got home from Hollywood Beach (just north of Miami, for you northerners) where I witnessed an unforgivable act of foreign aggression: humongous old Canadian guys in Speedos.

They were everywhere. They were sproutin' out of the sand like palm trees. I consider that sort of misappropriation of loin cloth to be tantamount to firing a shot over your enemy's bow.

Why, men, must you wear garments that only hot, skinny women should wear? It ain't right.

And least anyone accuse me of being anti-Great White North - I'm not, though I admit I did enjoy South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut - you should know that if these guys had been fat, old, American men in Speedos, I'd have posted about an unforgivable act of domestic terrorism.

Put your dang pants or normal man-shorts on guys. No one other than your wife or the widow in the condo next door to you wants to see your goody bag or even an outline of it.

OK, I'm off to do the final barbecue.

Peace and hair grease till tomorrow.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Today's most misplaced anger award...

goes to the woman I saw this morning run down an up escalator, and then about three feet from the bottom take a face dive.

It looked like it hurt, but I'm sorry. I had to laugh. It wasn't funny that she'd fallen and scraped her elbows - and possibly her knees under her trousers.

What was funny was how she reacted. On her hands and knees at the bottom of the escalator, she swore for about 30 seconds. Then she stood up and began hitting the hand rail, that moving hand rail, and cursing at it. Finally, when a man who was actually taking the down escalator down (and for some strange reason he didn't fall) helped her steady herself, she began slapping at his hands and cursing him too.

See, the trick to avoiding the humiliation is pretending you don't care. I guarantee you if that had been a guy he would have gotten up slowly, wearing a poker face. And he would have carefully and deliberately dusted himself off, before walking off casually as though falling down (or up) the wrong-direction escalator was part of his normal routine.

I have to go now. I need to go drive north in the southbound lanes of I-95. I dare anyone to tell me it'll make traffic look any different than it usually does.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, February 19, 2007

The worse part about being called out

Greetings from Burnettiquette World Headquarters, right next door to the Legion of Doom, in Sunny - today, anyway - Miamish, FL.

I apologize again for being absent the past few days. I've been trying to be a good host to my family-through-marriage.

So their visit has been nice so far. It's been chilly down here. I know, I know. We'll get no sympathy from those of you who live north of the Mason-Dixon Line. But seriously, when you're accustomed to it being 75 - 80 degrees every day, and then it drops down to the low 60s or low 50s even (high 30s/low 40s at night) then it feels like it's 10 below.

There was one hitch though. When my mom-in-law was just getting settled to the vacation house they rented at the beach, she got a call from the property manager telling her that there was a problem. The contract my mom-in-law and brother-in-law had signed was dated for last week. However, the tons of emails they'd exchanged with the property manager said they wanted the house for this week. She agreed. They signed the contract and faxed it back. The deal was done.

So here they find themselves late Saturday afternoon being told another family would be showing up any time and they had to vacate the property right away or else.

The property manager even sent two sheriff's deputies to the house to emphasize that she wanted my fam-in-law out of there.

So you have a house full of seven adults and a couple of tired babies with nowhere to go. They could've all come and stayed at Burnettiquette World Headquarters. But it would've been like a refugee camp.

Now, here's the rub: Everybody erred. You always read the fine print on a contract before you sign it - even if the details have been verbally agreed upon. We all know that. No one needs reminding. It's like saying "I told you so." Who wants to hear it? By the time it becomes relevant, who actually needs to hear it? But my brother-in-law called the property manager last week and asked if everything was OK for this week. She said yes. Saturday afternoon she explained that away by saying she was in her car when he called and didn't think to confirm it later by actually looking up the contract.

But instead of giving a "soft answer," as per the Biblical reference, or expressing some empathy, she immediately told my mother-in-law that it wasn't her problem, she wanted everyone out right away, and good luck, 'cause she had no help or advice to offer.

She kept saying over and over and over that never mind what she agreed to in the emails, she had a signed contract in her hand and couldn't care less where they went or how they got there, as long as they got out of her house.

And so everyone blew up.

So here's the deal: If you have to tell someone they were wrong, don't be snarky about it. If you have to break some bad news to them don't be flippant about it. I shouldn't say this, but I suppose an "acceptable" exception would be when you're responding in kind to a jerk.

Several hours later, when things had calmed down, and we had shared a few laughs with the sheriff's deputies the property manager sent out, and we had found a new vacation home for my fam-in-law to rent, my mom-in-law and brother-in-law said the situation would have been easier to handle if the manager had been nicer about it.

Maybe if she'd said "I'm sorry, you did sign the contract for last week. So my hands are tied as far as this property goes. But based on all our correspondence, I could've read it over and called you to verify those dates. So I wasn't as thorough as I should've been either. But what's done is done. Let's both work the phones, and we'll find something comparable for you, also near the beach and make the rest of your vacation as smooth as possible. I'm sorry all around that things worked out this way."

Instead she was mean and condescending about it.

I ain't preaching folks, but it is true: A soft answer really does turn away wrath.

Gotta run. I think I'm doing something touristy this afternoon.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, February 18, 2007

I'm alive!

In case anyone wondered, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth.

I've just been entertaining in-laws.

I'll post tonight and come to visit everyone I can (by way of blog - no worries, I won't show up at your front doors).

Peace and hair grease.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, February 16, 2007

Not alone

See, even people more veteran than me in the news biz say enough's enough: Off Message.

BTW, I'm thinking we should do "Ask James Anything" every other Friday. Don't wanna do too much of a good thing...unless, of course, a significant number of you have questions today.

Unless/until I hear otherwise though, we're gonna skip it today for regular posts and come back w/it next week.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Why politicians bite so much

Let's turn our imaginations on high for a moment.

Remember what we used to say as kids when we lost a foot race to another kid wearing new Nikes or Pro-Keds? "His shoes made him run fast." It wasn't that he was a fast kid, who happened to have new shoes. It was the shoes that gave him the speed, we thought.

OK, now try this one on: Let's say that I have detected a pattern of single family homes catching fire in the ABC neighborhood. Not every home in the area catches fire. But among those that do, the result of the fires has been that each flaming house was doused with water, which caused severe water damage to each property.

Do you (A) demand an investigation into why houses in the ABC neighborhood are suffering so much water damage? Or do you (B) demand to know what all the damaged houses have in common that causes them to catch fire, and why it is that some houses in the burn zone are unscathed?

Please, please, please tell me your answer is "B." But sadly, if your answer was "A" you are not alone.

A few weeks ago in my former home state of Wisconsin, Gov. Jim Doyle formed a panel to study and investigate why so many state prison inmates are black and why the numbers are disproportionately high to the state's black population.

I'm not naive. I know that this country has had a history of unbalanced sentencing for criminal behavior. I know that there are people in jail today in some places who might have gotten probation for certain offenses if they'd been sentenced in other places. One need only turn to New York City in the mid- to late 1980s to see how crack or rock cocaine dealers were sentenced to lengthy, mandatory prison sentences, while powder cocaine dealers were sentenced to significantly lighter punishments. I know that the criminal justice system has treated black males more harshly in many places than white males who commit the same crimes.

It's not a felony matter. But I remember in college being pulled over by a cop (a black cop, not that it matters) who ordered me to pull what he said were illegal custom tint panels off my tail lights and headlights. I later fought it and won, 'cause like I'd tried to tell him my tint panels had been made to state specs and were very much legal. Anyway, I cut my fingers to shreds pulling those things off my lights. But my alternative at the moment, the cop said, was to leave the panels on and he'd have my truck towed. Fast-forward a couple of weeks. On the same strip of road I'm riding in the passenger seat of a buddy whose vehicle has illegal limo-tinted windows - so dark, it's like they're painted black. After scolding my buddy for the tint, the officer sent us on our way.

The answer, folks, is not to lighten one group's punishment to even things out. If Fred got away with murder, and Joe got 20 to life for murder, don't let Joe go. Give Fred 20 to life and put him in the cell next door to Joe.

But another answer lies in what we study and investigate about the commission of crime. Sure sentencing disparities bother me. But it bothers me even more that so many young guys are doing things that get them locked up in the first place.

I'm sure Gov. Doyle means well with his panel studying sentencing disparities. But I'd much rather see a panel studying why so many young men test the criminal waters at an early age, what are they missing at home, who and what are influencing them as children, what value systems are they being instilled with? I want a related panel to study the kid in a depressed neighborhood who doesn't do crime, and instead gets good grades and goes to college.

I want to see fewer young men end up in gated communities. But it's even more important that before they even get inside we make sure they and their parents have AND use the tools they need to develop a strong sense of right and wrong and good and bad and to be productive and stay on the right side of the law.

OK, I'm done. That's my grandfatherly rant for the day.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I think they did the right thing

I hate hypotheticals. I use 'em, 'cause sometimes there's no other polite way to exemplify a scenario you want to critique.

Otherwise, I think it bites when people get on soap boxes and say what they would have done in a particular situation. Conveniently, we'll never know, now, will we?

So I'm thrilled - not in a ghoulish sort of way - when something interesting (good or bad) happens and gives us a real incident to comment on.

For the past few weeks I've been thinking about this story. Thanks to my guy Drew for posting the link on his blog back when this first went down. But if you don't want to click the link here's the abbreviated version:

Mom, dad, and 3-year-old daughter board an AirTran plane in Orlando, Fla., to fly home to Boston. But the 3-year-old loses it on the plane. It depends on who you ask, but it sounds as though the 3-year-old didn't just cry and squirm. According to the article, she refused to take her seat, she was climbing under the seats, and she was hitting her parents.

There is a federal aviation rule that says children 2 and older must be strapped in before takeoff. Then again, I'm sure there's a rule that says everyone on a plane, adults and crew included, must be strapped in before takeoff.

Still, the flight had already been delayed 15 minutes at this point. So the flight crew made the decision to kick the family off the plane for the disruption.

The parents complained that they weren't even given time to console and calm their daughter, and get her into her seat belt.

The airline's position was how much longer should the other passengers have had to wait for the girl to get calm or for her parents to gain control?

The family was reimbursed the full cost of their tickets and given vouchers for free fare anywhere (that airline flies) on a later trip. And they were put on a flight home the next day. But they said they'd never fly AirTran again.

My first reaction was good riddance. Planes are uncomfortable enough and often late enough without an uncontrollable child holding them up even more.

My second reaction was it really didn't seem like the flight crew gave these parents much time to get their child in check.

So give a little credence to both sides, and I'm going to give the airline a slight edge.

I know the kid was a toddler, and I know we all have stories about how we would never have acted up like that 'cause our parents would've beaten us like orphans. But I'm not so sure it's that black and white when you're dealing with kids that age. I imagine no matter how well trained a kid is, when they're that young sometimes they're just gonna misbehave.

Still, I side - just barely - with the airline.

What do you think?

Labels: , , ,

tomorrow morning

I've got a couple of good items for you guys. But today was a long day (I'm sure it was for all of us). Between training, and trying to wrap up my next article, my brain is fried.

Next up for me is a feature about a very unique medical doctor who uses some old-fashioned techniques to diagnose patients with heart problems. Here's the catch: his accuracy rate for diagnosing folks using old-school practices is A+, compared to the sometimes sketchy accuracy rate of high-priced analytical machines and computers. This guy is an M.D. version of Sherlock Holmes and a CSI.

Anyway I have to sleep. I'll post in the morning 'cause I want your insights on a national parenting/child behavior story.

Peace and hair grease.


Monday, February 12, 2007

I keep falling for this

I am starting to realize that I'm a retail real estate sucker.

Retail real estate is what I call that precious square of space in front of a shelf or rack of goods, the spot where you stand so you can get the best view of whatever it is you're thinking about buying.

No one ever wants to give up that space 'cause then you can't sift through what you need as easily. You have to strain your neck or wait for other folks to get out of your way.

Anyway, I have gotten into the bad habit lately of giving up that territory way too easily.

It started innocently enough. Someone walks up and stands conspicuously close to you, so you assume they want to pass you in a narrow aisle. So you step aside to make room, and in the good old days they'd walk by. Or - also in the good old days - they'd approach, see you were looking at something they wanted, and they'd walk back the way they came and browse something else on another aisle until you were done.

Well, lately I've noticed that when I step out of the way to let people pass, they're not passing. Instead they're stepping into the prime spot that I only vacated 'cause I thought they wanted to pass by.

The first time it happened, my jaw dropped, but I let it slide 'cause I figured the person just misinterpreted my gesture to mean I was getting out of their way.

But then it happened over and over and over. There is only one common denominator: the people I'm moving for are senior citizens.

It could be coincidence. But I think subconsciously I'm intimidated by their age. Who wants to stand in the way of someone who looks like their grandmother or -father? So I move, hoping that they'll walk on by and won't take advantage of my kindness. But lately they do...take advantage.

It happened again over the weekend. I was at a store, browsing. An old guy came up and crowded me like we were old friends or more. I took the hint stepped to one side, away from the item I was studying and he jumped right into my space without so much as a blink.

When I grow another set - since I apparently lost my first set in a department store some months back - I'm gonna either start ignoring the prime retail real estate thieves and just deal with them crowding me, or I'm gonna acknowledge them but tell them they're too close, or if I move and they jump in I'm gonna call 'em out and politely explain that I wasn't done browsing. I only moved 'cause I thought they wanted to get by.

We'll see how that works out.

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Random bits of this and that

I have to confess that I've spent little time on the blog this weekend. Between yard work, house cleaning (in-laws visiting in a week), and wrapping up another section of my non-fiction book, I've been swamped.

Right now I'm stretched out like Gumby in "my" chair, with a cold Presidente next to me, my dog laying at my feet, and a South Park re-run on - the one about Chef's salty chocolate "cookies."

I'm not experiencing any deep thoughts and that feels good. In fact, the heaviest thing on my mind is how to get the faint poop smell off of my hands. No worries, no "accidents." I just decided to use a new hippie fertilizer on my lawn that's comprised of just a smidgen of the usual chemicals and mostly of "natural" ingredients. That's what the giant bag said. Of course, I didn't think about what the natural ingredients might be before I spread hands full of the stuff over the barren parts of my lawn. I swear it's like the chemicals caused the natural stuff to bond to my hands. If my 20th hand-washing hasn't worked by morning I may try tomato juice. It supposedly works for skunks.

My biggest quandary is whether to wear jeans and a blazer or a suit to work tomorrow. I don't want any crap from the straight guys. Fellas, there ain't no shame in dressing to the nines. Just make it look like you, not like something you pulled piece for piece off a mannequin.

Along the lines of my sleepless monkey beard night from last week, the funniest thing I saw in the Sunday comics today was this "Opus" strip.

I have a relatively new neighbor with kids, three I think, and they look to be between the ages of five and maybe 11. A couple of nights a week - sometimes on week (school) nights - they're up really late, playing outside. I'm talking after 11 p.m. late. Otherwise they appear to be healthy, happy kids. It's none of my business, I know. But the late nights bug me.

Proof that stardom in the entertainment world is just one random discovery away from all highly talented people: 19-year-old Robyn Troup, an unknown Houstonian who was chosen to perform with Justin Timberlake at the Grammy's tonight for the "My Grammy Moment" promo gimmick. She was good. I was impressed anyway. Who needs eight or 10 weeks on American Idol when you can get put on blast, as the kids say, in a matter of minutes on national television?

I was doing some Googling earlier, looking for a copy of an old article of mine that I couldn't find in the online archives of my old newspaper, and I stumbled across the one incident I'm aware of in which I was ever sort of ripped off. I suppose I could be flattered. You know that whole thing about imitation and flattery. But I wasn't flattered then. This time I laughed when I saw the article. But several years ago I was really annoyed. Here's the deal. Most newspapers (and TV and radio stations for that matter) buy into news wire services by which articles from other papers are placed on the wire and made available to everyone else for a fee. So if you write a story whose scope goes beyond the city where you live it's not uncommon for another newspaper in another city to buy your article and run it in their paper too. I won't deny it's a very cool feeling to get a call or an email from a friend in say Dallas, or D.C. or Chicago, or Denver, because they picked up their home town paper and saw a story with your name on it. Sometimes when papers buy your story they'll localize it. They'll have one of their reporters do a local interview for a local angle and add a sentence or a paragraph or two to make the story fit their area better. And that's all normal. Usually when that happens your name still runs at the top of the article along with the name of your newspaper, so people know who did the heavy lifting and where they did it. That's called the byline, if you didn't know. And the paper that bought reprinting rights to the story will add their reporter's name in italics at the end of the story and say something like Daily Globe Staff Writer John Doe contributed to this article. That's called a tag line. So anyway the story in question was one I did in the spring about three or four years ago. It was a look at dating and mating rituals of the perpetually single. It was funny, I think. I questioned relationship experts and then had three local singles tell me their worst dating experience. And I had the experts analyze each adventure. A couple of months later a friend in another big Midwestern city emailed me to say they saw my article. Yes, I was tickled. So I went to the Web site of that city's newspaper. And there was my story...but with a few changes. My three dating nightmares had been replaced with three singles from that city. It amounted to about 1/5th of the total length of the article. Otherwise, it was word for word what I had written, down to the jokes and anecdotes from the experts. Their reporter even used the expert analysis from my three daters verbatim. Here's the kicker: at the top of the story there were two bylines, one for their reporter who had changed a very small fraction of my story followed by my byline - the suggestion being I had written "less" of the story, when I had actually written pretty much all of it. One of my bosses called that paper and confronted one of their bosses. They gave a lame, stammering excuse for the deceptive shared byline. What a rip. That's OK. They know who they are and how they handled my material. It's all good.

OK, I'm done rambling. BTW, "Ask James Anything" was a blast. So we'll do it again next Friday if you guys are up for it. But give me some tougher questions next time ;-)

Till tomorrow, I'm outta here like Don Cornelius.

Peace and hair grease, my friends.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, February 09, 2007

Ask James Anything

I'm trying to write some news, and therefore I have no nuggets of inspiration or exhortations or culture critiques to share on this blog right now.

But I will answer questions. If folks respond and have fun with it, I'll do this once a week. Not to say my opinion on anything but the price of beans in China counts for anything. And I'm no J. Carson. I don't have any answers in hermetically sealed envelopes.

But seriously, ask me anything about pretty much anything: the news biz, the differences in newspaper, TV, and radio reporting, me, politics, music, movies, romance, how to get the girl/guy of your dreams, sports, loserdom, geekdom, nerddom, how I stay so pretty, the weather. You name it. Almost no topic is off limits. And if you stumble across the one or two off-limits topics, I'll gently remind you, and we'll all happily move on.

OK, so fire away. I'll even take jokey joke questions. And if I don't know the answer, I'll find it.

Don't embarrass me now. I don't want to look at this blog when I get home from work and see I only got one question. I've told my overlords that you guys are reading this thing. Prove me right, or else they'll beat me, banish me to reporting celebutant news, and make me eat sewer rats. Tell a friend. Or this will be the first and last Ask James Anything Friday.

I'll answer the questions. But otherwise I have to work on my book tonight. So there probably won't be another new post till tomorrow morning. Till then, peace and hair grease.

***UPDATE*** You guys who read me regularly know I'm not uptight or afraid of any topic. So I don't want anyone discouraged from asking a question out of hyper-PC fear. Ask away, and if your question is too "naughty" for a PG-13 blog I'll just say so in my reply. No big deal. The only off-limits questions, really, are about Mrs. B, unless you're asking about her health. And in that case I'll save you the trouble: she's doing well and recovering nicely.

Also, I'll save you the trouble on this: Yes, I am the father of Anna Nicole's baby.


Thursday, February 08, 2007

An Open Letter to Extra, ET, Access Hollywood, Inside Edition, E! Entertainment Network, and MTV, among others

Dear Entertainment News Networks,

For the past six or seven years you have led the charge in perpetuating the hype surrounding the invention of the "celebutant."

You have glorified people with no inner glory. You have elevated to hero and heroine and star status people whose only original contributions to Earth were the steaming half-pound they left in the toilet each day and sucking away good breathing air that the rest of us could have used.

You have, like a sidewalk pharmacist, peddled the cheap high of quick glimpses into lavish living, knowing full well that the desperate and sad and even the genuinely ambitious among us would soak it all up like a collective crack head looking for that last crumb to cook, cut, and smoke.

You saw that the empress had no clothes, and you praised her wardrobe anyway.

And now, the queen of this wag-the-dog kingdom you created has shown a huge sign of tarnish. In this day and age where nothing done outside the confines of your own home is ever truly a secret, your queen has been caught on tape uttering most foul language about ethnic minorities and gay people - essentially "groups" of people who hadn't done anything to offend her, certainly nothing that warranted the language she used.

For years she periodically denied harboring the hateful feelings behind the language she used on the most recently "released" video. But she's been "outed." The tape, like statistics - thank you Mark Twain, doesn't lie.

So I ask, Mighty Networks, are you all talk? Or are you sincere about reporting "real" celebrity news?

Think hard before you answer. Because if your answer is the latter, that means the "right" thing to do is stop telling us stories about her. Stop reporting when she has an underwear malfunction. Stop telling us when her tiny dog escapes Hollywood and flees to South L.A. for some peace and quiet. Stop telling us when she doesn't show up for $1 million public appearances at nightclubs whose owners hope to cash in on her infamy. Stop telling us when she's overheard making light of some immoral or amoral behavior. Until she publicly apologizes for her behavior and her recorded bigoted language, and demonstrates a socially redeeming quality without first being advised to do so by a publicist, just stop talking about Paris Hilton.

Sincerely Yours,

CC: Nicole Ritchie (don't forget Nicole, your dad belongs to one of the groups she spoke so harshly of), Publishing Houses, Hamburger Joints, Fragrance Makers, Fashion Designers, Owners of About-to-Open Nightclubs, Animal Shelters that approve her for adoption, and every shameful mother who took her pre-teen daughter to one of Ms. Hilton's book signings or public appearances for an autograph

Labels: ,

Nothing left to say

There've been so many jokes about Anna Nicole Smith over the past few months - past 15 years, really, the death of her son notwithstanding, that there's no room for a joke right now.

May she rest in peace, finally.


Who comes up with this stuff?

Honestly, who here has heard of "iPod oblivion?" And I mean heard of it before the last day or two.

I'm gonna bet no one, 'cause it's another made up "ailment" or "bad" mental, or psyche condition created by knuckleheads who feel a need to explain away temporary stupidity on medical-like terms - sorta like road rage, computer rage, and air rage, to name a few. So anywhere you get angry these days that location gets a formal rage label. And you have a criminal defense. Or any stupid thing you do gets a formal label, so you can write off your behavior as not being your fault.

According to the New York Daily News "iO" is "the zoned-out state of the earbud-wearing generation."

Anyway, I'm ranting 'cause a state legislator in New York wants to pass law that makes it a ticketable offense to listen to your iPod or use other electronic hand-held stuff like cell phones and PDAs while walking across a street.

Pedestrians caught using this stuff while crossing a street would be subject to $100 fines.

Now, I'm all for restricting people on cell phones while driving in certain areas, like school zones and the strip of road in front of the emergency room entrance at a hospital. Or at least make folks be on head sets in certain zones so they can keep both hands on the wheel and both eyes on the road.

But restrictions while walking? That's a little too Big Brotherish for me.

Anyone who's smart enough to use any one of the gadgets mentioned is smart enough to not get hit by a car.

And if anyone is dumb enough to step into traffic and not look both ways, well, isn't that just evidence of some kind of natural selection?

Labels: , , , ,

Curse the insomnia!

I'm up late and my back hurts.

I'd love to be asleep right now, but I made the mistake about an hour ago of paging through The Dilbert Principle. And in one of the panels - one in which Dilbert was wasting time while "working" at home - he asks this question: why don't monkeys grow beards?

I dozed off. But that stupid question haunts me. I can't get it out of my head, and I can't find a believable answer to it. But I know I won't sleep well tonight until I do.

So far all I've found is that monkeys do have beards but they're very light and thin 'cause monkeys don't shave, and that monkeys don't grow beards 'cause unlike humans they didn't evolve directly from water creatures. Thanks for nothing, Google.

I don't believe either explanation.

Stupid Google. Stupid monkey beards.


Labels: ,

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Cowboy Code: Chapter Eight (I think) - The acceptable second look

So with all this talk about being sprung and what not, I thought I'd offer the latest chapter of The Cowboy Code: the unofficial guide to man behavior and motivation. And let me preface this by saying I'm not doing this 'cause I'm in the dog house. I don't believe in dog houses, except for real, literal canines. But if I did believe in 'em, I'm not in one. Mrs. B and I are just fine, and we keep it that way in part because I have no problem sharing with her the sacred contents of The Cowboy Code. It is the grown-up version of The Chictionary, a guide I lived by in college.

That being said, in a couple of earlier posts I've briefly mentioned guys looking at other women in public. Usually it came up 'cause we saw some other guy doing it and not even trying to hide it, and we got a laugh out of that. Naturally, those situations led to me being asked if I ever look.

My answer was that yes, all straight men look at other women. I didn't say we all lust after other women - apples and oranges. But we do all look. And any straight man who says he never looks is a liar, and his pants are on fire. And if your trousers are "burning" you need to see a doctor, because you've probably been doing more than looking.

But the look has different incarnations, one good, one bad:
  • The innocent look - You are, for example, standing in the mall staring straight ahead, zoning out as you wait for your wife (or girlfriend, etc.) to finish browsing a rack of clothing, and suddenly another woman walks across your line of sight. Instinctively you focus and you look. It could have been a juggling chimp or an elephant on a unicycle crossing your line of sight. You look, because something interesting caught your eye. It doesn't matter whether you like or dislike what you see, whether you find the other woman attractive or not. It matters that you don't put much thought into it and that the look does not turn into a stare.
  • The heat seeker - You are, for example, standing in the mall waiting for your wife to finish browsing the same rack of clothing and you take advantage of the "opportunity" by swiveling your neck like a periscope, hoping to catch a glimpse of whatever is in your range. You do this, because you know your wife (or girlfriend, etc.) is not paying attention and you can get away with it. Tsk, tsk.

So here's the deal ladies: The problem is not the look, because we all know the first look can be innocent. As I explained to the missus, who I'm certain thinks I'm insane, the problem is the second look and, more importantly, why that second look is taken.

If, for example, the second look is taken 'cause a guy is so wowed by the other woman that he has to see more, more, more, that is a bad second look. It usually turns into staring and ogling. Most guys with sense are smart enough to not take that second look.

However, there is an acceptable second look. Let's say a guy is heading down the sidewalk and he looks up in time to see a what he believes to be a pretty woman walk past him in the same direction. He catches up to her, because she stops or slows down.

Ladies, he is going to take a second look when he catches up to her: but it will be aimed at her face. It's not necessarily 'cause he's trying to flirt or can't control himself. He will look at her face, because he wants to know if what he saw walking away was the complete deal. He will be tortured (for a few minutes, anyway) if he doesn't find out whether she's attractive all-around, or whether just from the neck down.

If you see your man taking this type of second look, ladies, don't be too upset with him. Asking him to not do it is like asking him to stop reading on page 299 of a 300 page book.

But guys don't you take advantage of this acceptable second look either. All looks should be limited to a glance. A glance means a split second. Anything longer than that and you have some 'splainin' to do.

Thank me ladies. It's not often you'll get a peek inside The Cowboy Code. Like "sprung," this one's on the house.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A public service announcement: Sprung

According to, one of the many definitions of "sprung" is a material (like wood, for example) that has become warped, bent, or cracked.

Ironically, for all intents and purposes the definition of sprung I'm accustomed to is the same, except the warped, cracked thing is human. says to be "sprung" is to be obsessed with something or to get sexually arroused. I'd submit that it's both of those things combined.

And now for a more practical example: Astronaut Lisa Nowak, who drove 900 miles yesterday from Houston, Tex., to Orlando, Fla., wearing adult diapers so that she wouldn't have to stop for pee breaks, in order to confront (with weapons) Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman, a fellow astronaut, over Shipman's alleged relationship with a third astronaut, U.S. Navy Cmdr. William Oefelein. Both women were hooking up with Oefelein, apparently. And Nowak seemed to be out to eliminate her competition for the commander's affections.

Here's the rub in this triangle: Nowak is married and has three children, and she allegedly told investigators that her relationship with Oefelein was more than a friendship but less than romantic. Let's be blunt. That means it was sexual.

So, my friends, you understand that Nowak was sprung. Not to be crass, but Oefelein apparently put the voodoo on her, so much so that she lost her mind...which, by the way, is what I'd argue if I was her defense attorney. Attempted murder charges are no joke. Write this one in your notebooks. And if you weren't already using "sprung" in this context, feel free to do so. It's on the house. Remember, no physical interaction is so good that you should get sprung over it. And if you do, the person who sprung ya should be bottling and selling it.

If you're interested in a more complete version of this story here's one.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, February 05, 2007

Code words

I was driving back to the office this afternoon, following an interview and I turned to AM Radio and came across the Radio Factor, Bill O'Reilly's syndicated chat show.

Before any of you who lean left give me crap, you should know I also listen to Al Franken's show and probably will continue to do so as long as the few remaining squirrels powering the treadmill that runs Air America continue to be fed.

Anywho, O'Reilly started an interesting discussion that made me wonder how widespread his surprise was.

Here's the deal: By now we've all heard how Democratic Sen. Joe Biden stuck both feet in his mouth last week when he opined that fellow Dem Sen. Barack Obama is "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice looking guy."

Biden's comments, which he says were innocent and complimentary, were met with with harsh criticism by pundits and some media-appointed black leaders who wanted to know what he meant by "clean" and why Obama's speaking ability, hygiene, and appearance, warranted that sort of compliment.

So fast-forward a couple of days. In an interview with Fox News Channel host Neil Cavuto, Pres. Bush was asked what he thought of Obama. He too complimented the senator for seeming to be a nice capable guy. And while the president suggested Obama had a long way to go in terms of gaining enough experience to qualify himself for the White House, he added "He’s an attractive guy. He’s articulate. I’ve been impressed with him when I’ve seen him in person."

So back to O'Reilly. He said he was surprised that anyone would take offense at the "articulate" comments. O'Reilly did say that he understood the criticisms of Biden's "clean" comments. But he said he would bet that most white people would also be baffled as to why the articulate thing might be annoying. A compliment of being articulate and attractive should be appreciated, O'Reilly said.

For the record, I am paraphrasing O'Reilly, not quoting him exactly, 'cause I was not recording his radio show. No one is gonna accuse me later of twisting his or anyone else's words.

Now, if you've read this blog for even a week you know I'm not hyper-sensitive about discussions and debates on race and culture. I'm just the opposite, actually. You also know I don't believe in out of control political correctness.

But this topic fascinates me, 'cause I understand the criticisms. I completely understand them.

You have to understand that this one is not necessarily a racial issue. It's a matter of people not wanting to be condescended to.

I've gotten both those compliments dozens, maybe even hundreds of times from white people (usually elderly)...especially the one about how good looking I am ;-)

And I didn't always take offense. It's about context.

If you know me, then you don't need to tell me I'm articulate. I'll assume you think as highly of me as I deserve. If you're a potential employer or someone about to interview me for say a media outlet and you call my associates and ask about me in preparation and they tell you, among other things, that I'm articulate it's all good. They're just trying to give you a well-rounded feel for who/how I am.

But if you're a stranger and you tell me I'm articulate or tell other people how clean I am, I'm sorry, but I just have to wonder why. And I can't help but wonder if you'd feel the need to say the same things to me if I were a well-spoken, clean young white man.The history behind this comes from mass media portrayals of black folks back in the day as inarticulate boobs who all sounded like Mush Mouth from The Fat Albert Show. So yes, some of us ruffle when people we don't know tell us "You speak so well!" or "You are so clean cut!"

Those aren't bad words. They are compliments, taken at face value. But can you understand why I would in turn ask myself "Well, how did you expect me to sound, stupid, maybe?" or why I might ask myself "How did you expect me to look, dirty, and unkempt?"

Finally, I'll leave you with this anecdote: When I was in college, I was blessed with a tough, but great job that allowed me to pay for most of my college bills out of pocket. If you've read this blog before you know that I was a civilian aircraft machinist on the Naval Air Station in Norfolk, Va. When I was 19 I bought myself a new pick-up truck - maroon Nissan Hardbody. I thought I was the coolest cat around. But that's another story. Anyway, the car salesman told me I should consider investing some of my money more aggressively than I could with a regular bank account. Naturally, he recommended his wife, an investment advisor with a big, well-known firm. After weeks of phone conversations with his wife, I finally agreed to meet her in person at her downtown office. So I skipped class one morning and drove to her office building, wearing my best suit at the time, a $600 Hugo Boss number, my best shoes, best watch, etc. When I got off the elevator on her floor, a young white man stepped off the elevator behind me. He was wearing laborer's clothing and was covered in enough grease to suggest that he was some kind of mechanic too. The receptionist looked us both over and though he stood behind me, she looked around me to ask the other guy if she could help him first. I wasn't having it and corrected her. She pouted, but complied and alerted my financial advisor that I was waiting in the lobby. A minute or so later the woman - the car salesman's wife - came to the lobby. She looked me over. Then she studied the other guy. Finally she extended her hand to him and said "James, nice to meet you!" He was a little confused, understandably. So I stood up and told her "Actually, I'm James." She turned beet red, stammered a minute, and explained what till that point had been an innocent error with "I'm so sorry. It's just on the phone you sounded so, so..."


Labels: , , , ,

Punk Love

I said I'd post a link to my article on photographer Susie Horgan and her book Punk Love, about the early days of the Washington DC punk scene. So here it is. Included are interviews with punk icons Ian MacKaye and Henry Rollins and a slide show of some of Horgan's pictures. The slide show didn't work on my work computer. Let me know if you have the same problem. I'll alert our online folks. Either way, enjoy.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Two Minute Warning

So today's the big day. I can't tell you how happy I am that Super Bowl ZZZ is finally here.

Some of you are gonna give me crap, 'cause you think I'm being facetious or melodramatic. But I swear it has been an exhausting week. I've had to do more parties than I did New Year's weekend.

But it's over. Now I can lay on the couch on the porch, sip suds, enjoy a good stogie, watch the half time commercials, and just do little else.

First though, my final thoughts:
  • Mark Wahlberg is a classy guy. In the few minutes I got to chat with him Friday night, he was all about his charitable foundation that raises scholarship money for needy youth to attend college. Whereas other celebs I chatted up were all about what they were wearing and how cool it was to have a little limelight.
  • Vince Papale, the guy Wahlberg portrays in Invincible, a true story about an Average Joe who gets a shot at playing in the NFL, is even nicer. At one party I attended, Papale stood out for his attitude. He was just thrilled to be alive. He was running around introducing people to his son and daughter - cute kids. He was grateful that Wahlberg did him justice in the film. He was just having fun.
  • The funniest comedians are the ones who tell stories, not jokes. Actor, stand-up, and former MTV VJ Bll Bellamy put on a pretty good show at B.E.D. nightclub in South Beach Friday night, and it occured to me that he might've told one joke. The rest were stories about his childhood, his upbringing, good and bad scenes from the old neighborhood. So it's understandable why comedian Rick Reynold's "Only the truth is funny" routine was so successful back in the day.
  • Finally, in praising the Colts' amazing offense, let's not forget that you also have to stop the other team from scoring in order to win. That's why I'm bucking the pro analysts and picking Da Bears to take it this evening.

That's all for me, folks. I'll pick things up after the game.

Labels: ,

Friday, February 02, 2007

Random Thoughts and "Awards" from the NFL Experience

So I just got home from the VH-1 Presents Pepsi Smash Super Bowl Bash, a concert at the NFL Experience zone at Dolphin Stadium. I don't want to tell too much about the show, 'cause I don't want to pre-empt my own reporting (which'll appear in Saturday's Herald as part of our daily all-points coverage of Bowl-related events).

But I did observe some interesting behaviors and here are my thoughts and made-up awards for what I saw:
  • Biggest Pet Peeve - the way print reporters sometimes get dissed by publicists/managers/agents, etc., at celeb/special events. We sometimes literally and often practically get trampled to make room for TV cameras and TV reporters. I realize we're a visual society with an ever-shortening attention span. So some people would rather watch than read some of their news. But plenty of broadcast media wouldn't make it without print news to analyze and fall back on for in-depth reporting. Even at an entertainment event like this, a couple of the TV "reporters" have to turn periodically to their producers to find out what question to ask next. I'm gonna try that with my editor. "Um, boss, can I have someone to assist me when I go out to report a story? Someone who can stand next to me and tell me what to say or ask in case I didn't do my homework prior to the event?" I'm not holding my breath. Then again, I've got too much pride in my work to go out like that in public.
  • Dumbest Question - Whoever said there was no such thing as a dumb question should have been there tonight. Picture this: It's hot as all get out 'cause there's no circulation in the backstage media tent. The smells of sweat, butt, and overpriced cologne and perfume are pervasive. We've all waited a little longer than we were told to expect for our first group interview, with Fergie, the singing member of the Black-Eyed Peas. So we're anxious. When she arrives, about a half dozen questions are blurted at her, and she answers in good fun. Her publicist then jumps in and says "one last question." That meant one more question for the whole lot of us, not one more question per reporter. So as several of us open our mouths to speak - no doubt to ask about singing or dancing, things she actually does for a living - one local TV reporter who will go unnamed beats everyone else to the jump and with OUR very last question tells Fergie "Your fans would like to know how (or why, I forget) you're so Fergalicious." Are you kidding me? WE have one last question, and that's what you want to know? You, my "colleague," should be sitting in an audience at MTV, so you can ask the next big presidential candidate whether he or she wears boxers or briefs, or granny bloomers, or T-backs. You know who you are, tsk tsk. And you wonder, pretty as I am, why I went into newspapers. When I'm rich and famous, the first TV reporter to ask me why I'm so Jameselicious will get back-handed.
  • Nicest Celeb - Nicest one in attendance at this event, anyway. Like I said, Fergie had a solid sense of humor and took the questions - good and bad - in stride. But the coolest act came from John Legend. After putting on an energetic show he comes back stage to do interviews...but only with TV folks. According to Legend's bodyguard, his publicist, who didn't grace us with her presence, had pre-determined who could interview him. No print media outlets are on the list. I tell the very, very large bodyguard that the print-less interview list is foul and that we scribes should be given equal access for a number of reasons. To his credit, Legend's bodyguard thinks about my reasons for a moment, approaches the boss, whispers something to him, listens to a response, and then comes back to me and says Legend will speak with me. He's gracious in his answers, says "thank you" for the print folks' interest in interviewing him, and is almost apologetic over the fact that we initially got the cold shoulder. He could've said he was exhausted, waved us off and gone on his way. He stayed. He talked. John Legend earns points from me.
  • Nicest Surprise - Chicago-based rapper/poet Common makes an unexpected appearance and performs a little.
  • Funniest Sight - An elderly female event volunteer, who was at least 70 if she was a day old (unless she learned to calculate age from Jack Benny), dancing with a group of surprised (that she's shaking her booty at them) 20-somethings to Kanye West performing "Touch the Sky." She is apparently from Michigan, 'cause even better than the dancing, while she busts her moves the woman raises the roof and shouts "Detroit, what?" and "Detroit!" and "Detroit's in the house!"
  • Most "Only in Miami" Moment - Several scantily clad young ladies walk past the position where I am posted up with another reporter toward the end of the concert. I think nothing of it at first. But they keep strolling back and forth. Then one of them comes by with an angry looking young man following close behind. He isn't a boyfriend. He doesn't have that kind of carriage. After I consult with the other reporter it dawns on us that the young women are "working" and the young man is their "manager!" What's even crazier is several law enforcement officers standing nearby notice the night workers too. The other reporter asks them "so I take it you guys aren't vice?" The officers shake their heads no, and disregard the ladies and their boss. How nervy is that, to not only be on the stroll, but to do it within a few feet of the law? Only in Miami. But like my uncle used to say "(Ladies of the night) have to eat too."
  • Most Pimpish Shoes - Kanye West's leopard print and tiger striped Nikes with a red swoosh.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, February 01, 2007

You reap what you sow

Tyra Banks is not fat. There, I said it.

It's no great revelation. And it has zero significance to the betterment of the world. But there is something badly wrong with our image(s) of size when she gets labeled as fat because of a bad camera angle in a tabloid. She's gained weight. So what. What makes models so super anyway?

That being said, I know I'm not the only one who finds some irony in the fact that Banks is on the fat defensive, and she has made a habit of cutting thicker women out of her show "America's Next Top Model" over the past several years - not because they didn't have potential as models, but because they were just a little too hefty.

Every winner of that show so far has been rail thin...not that there's anything wrong with that. And while Banks has a panel of judges, she is the judge.

Maybe there was no malice involved in keeping bigger women from making it to the finals on that show - or making it on the show, period.

But Banks sowed seeds of perpetuating that skinny model image and now she's reaping the backlash 'cause she no longer meets the standard for perfection that she helped set on that show.

Labels: , ,