If you like your sleaziness to be brazen and bold -- if you have nothing but contempt for hypocrites who cloak their seedy grubbiness behind a sheen of self-righteousness -- you gotta love everyone's local Favorite Sweeps Month Station, Channel 2.
At KPRC, they make no pretense of hiding their undying efforts to show close-ups of every silicone-laden breast in Houston behind such subterfuges as investigations into vice officers' overspending of tax money at gentlemen's bars. At KPRC, when sweeps month hits, it's time for tits, and they make no bones about it.
We thought they had shot their load with the investigative piece into a mother-daughter team getting breast implants. We thought they might be pushing it when they followed that up with their "Bigger Breasts with a Pill?" package.
But all that was a mere overture to the station's pièce de résistance of groveling with gonzagas. We speak, of course, of the epic May 21 effort labeled "A Day in the Life of an Adult Dancer."
Standing amid the grinding dancers in Caligula XXI (the club got a nice on-air plug), reporter Joe Vazquez promoted his piece with this tease: "Most people's only contact with a topless dancer might be in a club like this, but my assignment was to go outside the club and see what a dancer's daily routine is like. Coming up next."
Huh? "Most people's only contact with a topless dancer might be in a club like this"? We guess Channel 2 really knows its viewers.
The report, when delivered, stinted on none of its outstanding promise. It opened with (of course) a shot of the gals' locker room before moving right to a close-up of jiggling mammaries. We heard one dancer say that away from the club, "We are just like everybody else."
Cut to a dancer feeding her tiny baby (by bottle -- apparently KPRC has some standards). We got a shot of "Sinomen" in her living room, chatting with Vazquez as she wore studiously unflamboyant hair and (of course) glasses.
"Most dancers," Vazquez intoned, "are single moms like 18-year-old Jersey, who wants to go to college one day." Ah, but of course. We're surprised that Vazquez couldn't find one of those dancers who's going for her master's in business administration.
We were treated to shots of Sinomen shopping for allegedly sexy outfits that, sadly, we were told, she could not afford.
But whatever you do, don't get the wrong idea about these hardworking single moms so diligently pursuing college degrees, or at least thinking about it.
"All of the dancers we talked to," Vazquez said in his wrap-up, without specifying numbers, "said they are keeping it legal while keeping backbreaking schedules."
Thus reassured, Channel 2's viewers could head off for sleep with visions of something dancing in their heads.
Vazquez is taking a six-month-long sabbatical from the station to roam Europe and, rumor has it, sit out a noncompete clause before heading to another station here. We couldn't imagine a better send-off from the bosses at KPRC than getting this depressing assignment.
Remember all that vandalism that members of the Clinton administration engaged in as they handed over the White House to the decent, honorable, God-fearing Bush folks? The Visigoth-like devastation wreaked upon the sacred vault of American hopes and dreams at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? The Keith Moon-esque trashing of Air Force One?
You remember it if you're a Houston Chronicle reader. The paper did two full stories on the scandal, the first headlined "White House Mum on Office Damage: New Administration Says It Doesn't Plan to Seek Charges."
Two days later the editorial page offered its two cents. "Vandalism: Immature Clinton Administration Staffers Took Revenge," the headline read. "In an exhibition of behavior more worthy of immature adolescents," the editors harrumphed, "Clinton loyalists ripped the letter W from dozens of keyboards [and] broke glass desk tops, glued filing cabinets together with super glue, mislabeled telephone lines, wrote graffiti on walls and placed pornographic pictures in fax machines."
At the time, we thought it was pretty funny: mislabeled telephone lines? porno (gasp!) pictures in the fax machines? But there was no laughing at the Chron: "Unfortunately, such trashy behavior and disrespect for the White House comes as little surprise. Sad that what was supposed to have been 'the most ethical administration in history' ends up as the gang that couldn't loot straight," the editorial said. (It also solemnly informed us that "W, of course, is the middle initial of the new president, often popularly referred to as 'Dubya.' " Somehow it didn't inform us that the "president" is the head of the executive branch of our "government," which sits in Washington, D.C.)
As things turned out, an independent government agency, investigating at the request of a right-wing nut, U.S. Representative Bob Barr, has found that there was, essentially, no such vandalism.
Then again, you knew that. Unless, of course, you're a Houston Chronicle reader. News of the exoneration of the Clintonites, first reported in the Kansas City Star, was relegated to the Washington nuggets column of the May 20 paper. Buried in the paper, the item was also buried in the column, which was headlined "Former Texas Sen. Bentsen Lauded by Loyal Admirers."
If that head wasn't enough to turn away any readers, the Bentsen item was followed by "Concerns About NASA Lure Officials to Capitol," which was followed by "Rising Gasoline Prices Cause Tempers to Soar," which was followed by "L.A. Mayoral Candidate Gets Houston Support," which was followed by "Bush Looks Toward Texas for Rail Administrator." Finally, at the end of that Bataan Death March of eye-glazingly dull items, appeared a few paragraphs headlined "White House Plunder Rumors Found to Be False."
The editorial page is expected to weigh in any day with its apology. In Bizarro World, at least.
The elite circles of the New York media seemingly have a jones for The Houston Post. That paper's been dead for six years, but news of its demise apparently hasn't reached the Big Apple.
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First was The New York Times, which, in a recent reporter's obit, noted the dearly departed had won the Post's "only Pulitzer [Prize] thus far."
Then, on May 23, NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw was on CNN's Larry King Live, plugging the 324th book in his Greatest Generation series. (We think this one had something to do with Recipes of the Greatest Generation.)
A caller asked about Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. "He has freely acknowledged [his guilt] on many, many occasions," Brokaw said. "In fact, he has written letters to The Houston Post."
And he's damned pissed they haven't been published "thus far," we're guessing.