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Hominy Murder Update: Westbrook in Court

On July 19, Roy Westbrook walked into the Hominy Diner, pulled a Glock and shot waitress Rebecca Clements dead. The early accounts of the Oklahoma shooting were enigmatic; later came the clarifying details — it was all a real-estate dispute.

Last week, a judge in Pawhuska ordered Westbrook to undergo a mental evaluation. According to the AP account in the Shawnee News-Star, Westbrook told the judge that "the term 'first-degree murder' didn't make sense to him." Westbrook also testified that "he received Social Security disability and had a third-grade reading level."

Last year, Westbrook was named Hominy Citizen of the Year and honored by the local chamber of commerce and the weekly paper, the Hominy News Progress, for his efforts in improving a local park.

Posted on October 30, 2005, in Cross Country. Hominy Murder.

Sentence of the Week

Tom Ford in the November W: "My butt is naturally hairless, by the way."

Said appropos of the issue's centerfold, which shows a naked Tom Ford cavorting with two clothed ladies in the sack. The boys at have chosen not to post that picture, or the others from the over-the-top Ford fashion spread, staring the designer in each and every photo. But some kind citizen in the East has come to our rescue. The centerforld is here; the other photos start here.

Posted on October 30, 2005, in Heavy Rotation.

links for 2005-10-29

Posted on October 28, 2005, in Delicious links.

My Kind of Convergence

This is what the blogosphere sounds like when its described by one of the greats of the magazine era, not one of the cool geeks who are building it and, for the most part, populating it so far.

Out of the delirium of Judiana (Gawker’s coinage), a paradigm shift? Out of the welter and whirlwind of exegesis of intelligence leaks comes … redesigned intelligence? An epistemological extreme makeover? [snip]

I think the recent total frenzy of Judiana—the Talmudic, blogospheric analysis of the entire spectrum of speculation, rumor, conjecture in the Plame case and its Judy Miller subplot that has consumed so many of us—may mark the moment when the way we process information has changed in some deeper fundamental way that transcends this particular media colonoscopy, transcends media consciousness and suggests some deep internal realignment of the prefrontal lobes.

What I mean is that whatever the Plame special prosecutor decides—and I write before any indictments have been filed—I believe the escalating online delirium of Judiana and Plame blame-game analysis will be remembered as the moment when more than the media changed. The very nature of literacy, perhaps even the shape and texture of consciousness changed, the way Virginia Woolf declared human character changed in 1910. All that transformative stuff McLuhan predicted might actually come true, although not in a way he had foreseen. It’s no longer about how the Web is changing us, although the Web is a factor. It’s not merely about cyber-connectivity. It’s about internal neural connections and configurations; it’s really about the way the brain may be changing. The way the blogosphere has become a new hemisphere of the brain. Now there’s right brain, left brain and blog brain.

This is Ron Rosembaum in The New York Observer. His colum this week is a minor classic, recounting his breakthrough moment of realization, when he finally grokked the "brain-altering role of the Web."

Rosenbaum should have been down with the internet from the beginning, given his love of meta-meta-ness (comments on comments on comments), his gift for teasing out relationships between apparently unrelated items, his trafficking in obscure niches of wildly original alternative analysis — all things the internet enables in a way big way. He even wrote the celebrated article "Secrets of the LIttle Blue Box" in Esquire in 1971 about phone phreaks, the proto-hackers who could manipulate the telephone network by mimicking system tones (Wikipedia: phreaking).

But at first he didn't get it. In 1999, as he quotes himself in his column, he wrote that "the only unequivocal beneficiaries of wired culture" will be "neo-Nazi pinheads … child pornographers and Bill Gates."

This, even as late as 1999, was pretty much the way the NY magazine intellegentisa felt about the web. And appropriately enough Rosenbaum's put-down was pubilshed in Slate, a web site, sorry, "magazine," whose primary mission has been to make the internet seem safe for people who went to Harvard.

I suspect Rosenbaum's been coming around for awhile. I recall but can't point to (literally, his older pieces are behind an archive paywall) previous columns where he's noted things in passing that he could only have noted had he been spending significant time online, previous columns where he's dropped hints that his regard for the web had changed. He may even have been more explicit at some point, and I missed it.

If only Rosenbaum would take the next step and blog. He's a natural for the medium, but I think that about a number of writers who should be online and aren't (case in point). Still, it's great to have him writing columns like this one. I've bounced back and forth between the NY media world and the online world, and the two worlds seem very close to me, but the Venn diagram of the actual overlap is too small.

Even if Rosenbaum is finally on board, the Observer still has some catching up to do. Rosembaum's column is free online until some point next week, I'm guessing late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning, after which it goes behind the paywall. So run don't walk, read Rosenbaum now, and save the $2.95 it will cost you after that.

Posted on October 27, 2005, in Web Stuff.

Mary's Barbecue


Of the three places that were my barbecue rotation when I was in college in Nashville, only Mary's Old Fashioned Pit Bar-B-Cue is still open.

Jimmy Coursey's was out by the racetrack/fairgrounds/rollercoaster. The place had two plain rooms, good pork and if, on occasion, you showed up in groomsman attire with a covey of bridesmaids and wedding guests, and a number of bottles of champagne that the groom's little sister had swiped from the reception and cached in your daddy's big-ass maroon Lincoln, no one really objected. Jimmy Coursey's was always third on my list of barbecue places, but it was a fond number three.

Charlie Nickens was just west of downtown, close to the river, in an industrial/warehouse district. I'm sure the neighborhood had seen better days, or at least more populous ones. Nickens proudly soldiered on. I always had pulled pork sandwiched between two cornbread pancakes with slaw and, probably, beans, but I don't remember beans. If I had desert it was lemon ice-box pie. As good as the food was the promise offered on the restaurant's large sign out front, which contained a Holiday-Inn style section for changing messages. Beneath the elaborately styled Charlie Nickens logo came the sentence in small plain letters: "We never close." For my four years in Nashville, the letters never changed.

Mary's is not far from where Nickens was, up Jefferson Street a few blocks past the farmer's market. Mary's serves all the standard barbecues: pulled pork, ribs and chicken. Here I almost always got the white-meat chicken sandwich with extra hot sauce. The counter man or woman would dunk a cooked chicken breast — bone still in — in a vat of sauce, then place it still dripping between two pieces of white bread, wrap it up in paper and seal it with a toothpick.

For a long time Mary's was strictly drive-in. You could eat standing in the parking lot or take your food elsewhere. Mary's has a dining room now, two freshly sheetrocked and tiled rooms with plastic booths, tables and chairs that somehow feel new and abandoned at the same time. Customers stream in steadily and line up to place their orders, then mostly take their food away, as before. The barbecue is still good, but last weekend I passed on the chicken sandwich and instead had a pulled pork sandwich, which Mary's now serves a la Nickens, between two cornbread pancakes. Maybe they always did and I just didn't notice. The cornbread was good but sweeter than I like.

Posted on October 18, 2005, in Heavy Rotation.

Isn't Blogging Another Way Not to Get Rich?

You'd think a guy who's written books about rodents, New Jersey swampland and Native American fishing rituals wouldn't have to be so obvious as to write a book called How Not to Get Rich. Still, it's nice to read a how-to book and be able to trust that the author really knows what he's talking about.

As good as Robert Sullivan's bona fides are for non-wealth formation, they might be improved if he were also a blogger. But he isn't. He insists on writing only for money. Which isn't exactly a how-to-get-rich strategy, but it lacks the unrich-zeness of writing for free.

Robert is a natural blogger. Or would be if he would only listen to me and sign up at Typepad already. (Trust me, I've tried.) Check out the opening of his chapter on "How to Spend the Bulk of Your Leisure Time If You Are Not Going to Get Rich, Probably Ever":

You read. You read for pleasure. Nor constantly; you want to see your friends and get outside once in a while and so on, but you want to do a lot of reading. Perhaps it sounds too simple, but reading is an important strategy in the pursuit of a lifestyle that is, monetarily speaking, not that well off.

See where I'm going with this? Just change read and reading to . . . :

You blog. You blog for pleasure. Nor constantly; you want to see your friends and get outside once in a while and so on, but you want to do a lot of blogging. Perhaps it sounds too simple, but blogging is an important strategy in the pursuit of a lifestyle that is, monetarily speaking, not that well off.

Doesn't that make perfect sense? I'm not arguing that Robert is a Web 2.0 guy (hell, he's not really even a Web 1.0 guy, though he did manage to install a wireless network in his new apartment). But he sure is a long-tail guy (please review book subjects, above), and he belongs on the web. I promise to keep trying.

Posted on October 03, 2005, in Heavy Rotation.