Glam Or Spam: Special Election Edition

We're still taking votes on this week's regular Glam or Spam, but, by popular demand, here's a special edition. What about Michelle Obama's red-and-black Narciso Rodriguez dress?


More opinions herehere, here, and here. (I'm still waiting for Robin Givhan to weigh in.) The reviews for the usually impeccably attired future first lady aren't good. The dress is the sort of thing I'd love on the rack, but it doesn't flatter her figure. And I don't like the shoes, or at least the way she stands in them. What do you think? Tell us in the comments.

UPDATE: The NYT's Ruth La Ferla on the dress, with a photo of the way it looked on the runway--it was clearly designed for a skinny model--and a slide show of Michelle Obama's style.

RIP: Rockie Gardiner, Astrologer

Long time LA Weekly astrologer, Rockie Gardiner, died on Halloween at 11:11 am.  Talk about your transits!

Gardiner was a must-read for just about everyone who picked up alt-press papers.  A native New Yorker, she moved to LA in 1966, and  was  said to have dated Jim Morrison,  who  wrote LA Woman about her.   She lived in Valley Glen, worked from home, and had a special passion for Super Bowl Sunday. (She was a Sag, of course.)

As an astrologer, she predicted Ronald Reagan would die in office and that Jesse Jackson would be a Vice-Presidential candidate. Never mind--we're not keeping score.  Her horoscopes were fun to read, and if your week didn't look promising, things would get better soon.  Even non-believers noticed when Rockie said Mercury was retrograde.   She'll be missed.

As her column often said:

Rockie is soaking up atmosphere and astrological insight.

Update: Her son, Jeremy Gardiner, wrote an obit in the Weekly.

You Can't Hide Your Lyin' Eyes: Irish True Crime Trial

Article-1082916-02582543000005DC-346_224x372 Ireland is enjoying a a criminal trial that's  right out of film noir.  Sharon Collins wanted to get rid of her boyfriend and his sons, in order to inherit the family business, worth some €60m.  So, she sat down at the keyboard, typed in Hitmanforhire and found Tony Luciano, aka Essam Eid, an Egyptian-born poker dealer who was up for some fast cash.  She wired him a down payment and he flew from Vegas to Ireland.

Emails were recovered between [email protected] and [email protected] during which a contract was agreed to kill Mr. Howard and his two sons for €66,000.

Eid ended up trying to make a deal with his intended target, and that's what got him arrested.  You just can't trust some people--especially those you meet online.

Honestly--don't these people have any sense? Who picks such an email addy? And is Yahoo! complicit in allowing such a moniker?  And is Hitman for Hire like Yelp? Are there consumer ratings?

Of course, Howard, the poor dumb sap, is pleading for mercy for his Sharon.  Collins, who's facing six years in prison, has other plans:

It has been reported that Collins has secured the help of a Los Angeles-based literary agent, after she told Ireland's director of public prosecutions: "I'll write a book yet".

S&M Voter Appeal


Here's Jessica Alba in a David LaChappelle-directed ad for, an ostensibly nonpartisan campaign to encourage people 18 to 29 to vote. (I say "ostensibly" because it's funded by big-shot liberal activist Norman Lear and—call me crazy—doesn't seem aimed at potential McCain voters).
"If you don't register and vote and make a difference, and hopefully change the bad things that are happening in our country, you are essentially just binding and muzzling yourself," Alba told People.

What's less glamorous: the bondage imagery or the dingbat diction?

TSA Screeners Get New Uniforms; All Else Remains The Same

Spinning_jeremy_tn With a startling want of tact, yesterday the Transportation Security Administration unveiled their new uniforms.  (Insert obligatory lipstick/pig quip here.) The Chicago Tribune explains:

The goal is to give screeners a more professional appearance and establish a greater air of authority, in an effort to command respect from travelers.

Amy Alkon is skeptical. Personally, I think that while clothes maketh the man, the man (or rather The Man) had better be able to back it up. While working for A Current Affair, I got pulled out of line on a regular basis. My least favorite encounter was the Salt Lake City granny who hand-inspected my La Perla underwire bra--while I was wearing it. Traveling with a press pass and a Fox News ID card, I felt that somehow I'd be the least likely terrorist on the flight, but she explained that she had to consider the possibility while waving through multiple wives in prairie skirts and a woman in a burqua. Point taken--or maybe she just really loved lingerie.

The TSA site show off the new duds with a virtual model named Spinning Jeremy, who's equipped with a high-quality tie. I feel safer already.

Sarah Palin Style: MSM Floods The Zone


Please let this end soon. The media's fascination, horrified and other, with Sarah Palin's clothing, hair, eyewear, and shoes, is fast approaching not just sensory overload, but overcurrent.

Jodi Kantor in the NYT:

The governor, thin to begin with, began an elaborate game of fashion-assisted camouflage. When Vogue photographed her, five months pregnant, for a profile in January, she hid in a big green parka.

Because who wears a parka in Alaska in January? Omigod. When was the last time you saw someone visibly knocked up in Vogue?

Lauren Beckham Falcone on her hair  in the Boston Herald:

“It’s about 20 years out of date,” said Boston stylist Mario Russo of the Alaska governor’s ’do. “Which goes to show how off she might be on current events.”

Because the outside of your head indicates the inside. Or vice versa. Or something.  And Boston is all about hair.

Elizabeth Snead in the distastefully named Dish Rag at the LAT:

Let's hope pregnant teenage daughters aren't the next big craze Sarah inspires.

The commenters, unusual for the LAT, seem to think this is a cheap shot.

The London Times fashion team weighs in:

Remember those Utopian Donna Karan ads in olden times featuring a glamorous woman being sworn in ’neath the stars ’n’ stripes? SP does.

Oooh--I remember those. Donna must be freaking out. Who dreamed anyone would take those seriously?

And in a simile that's the ultimate compliment for any woman, AdAge quotes Harvard's John Quelch:

McCain has put a red Chevy Camaro in the garage next to his truck.

Thanks honey--do these rims make me look fat?

The Future Is A Windmill



Sleek, pristine, and elegantly modern, the blades of an advanced windmill turn in an unseen wind. Windmills have become the glamorous new symbol of clean energy and, like a stylized atom or rocket ship in the 1950s, of a hopeful future made possible by technological progress. As far as I know they haven't yet shown up in upholstery textiles or restaurant decor (give it time), but images of windmills are everywhere in this season's ads, political and otherwise. Obama has them. McCain has them. Boone Pickens has them. GE has them. An ad promoting Minnesota in the new issue of Fortune has them. Bank of America ATMs have them, promoting paperless online banking. Even Turkish Honda Civic ads have them.

These images epitomize grace, one of the essential components of glamour. The blades appear to turn effortlessly, generating energy without waste. They look as autonomous as a bird in flight. Everyone, including me, leaves out the massive power lines required to carry the electricity some place where it will be useful. These are glamorized images.



Like all glamour, these images create an illusion. The grubby details of wind energy aren't as pristine as the pictures. Generating and transmitting electricity is a complicated business, requiring unglamorous, behind-the-scenes labor and expertise--not to mention huge structures that the neighbors may not like. Even wind-energy promoter Boone Pickens admits that a wind farm isn't self-sufficient as a power source: "You've got to supplement it with a gas-fired or coal-fired source so whoever buys it gets continuous 24-7 generation."

Glamour is a "magic light" that distorts perceptions. Its allure depends on obscuring some details and heightening others. Experience and close examination tend to destroy glamour, often replacing it not with sober realism but something far more negative. Once disillusioned, the once-enchanted audience can become excessively cynical, unwilling to see anything good in what it once idealized. It's dangerous to depend too much on glamour. Just ask the nuclear power industry.

[Click photos to see larger versions.]

Clark Rockefeller Vs. The DuPont Twins: Friend Or Faux?

The curious case of Clark Rockefeller, aka Christian Gerhartsreiter,  is a  textbook example of evil  impersonation.  He's also the living embodiment of the locker-room motto--"Go big or go home".  If you're going to assume an identity, might as well assume a biggie.  (He's got a certain family resemblance, as the NY Post pointed out.)

A former German exchange student, Clark made a few missteps of style while hanging around old-money Cornish, New Hampshire--ostentatious wheels,  name dropping--but he had a better- than-expected art collection, and that's always useful.  Previously,  he'd resided  in a San Marino, CA guest house  where police are preparing to unleash ground-penetrating radar in hopes of finding traces of his former landlords, who haven't been seen since 1985.  He moved away shortly thereafter.

He's got the opportunistic knack of meeting  the right people. Turning up in Montana,  he adopted a mutt from the local shelter--where  Maggie McGuane, daughter of novelist Thomas McGuane and actress Margot Kidder,  was volunteering.  Where's Fluffy now

And long story short,  he's in custody for kidnapping his daughter off a  Boston street.  What a tangled web, etc. 

But not all fakes are so malicious.Twins

Back in the disco era, the DuPont Twins were everywhere they should have been, all the time.  Tall, blond and sweetly 17, they left their catering jobs in Connecticut (working for some woman named Martha) and hit  New York  just in time to meet Andy Warhol.  To be fair, Robert and Richard Lasko only decided on DuPont after getting advice from  Holly Woodlawn, who told them they needed a famous name.  Well, if anyone should know.....

So, they made the scene and just about everyone around ( they did drugs and Andy) and had a lot of fun.  No doubt some naifs took them to be real DuPonts, but they weren't trying to fool anyone.   Any day now, the twins are supposed to be played by Zac Efron.

Radar rounds up other impersonators, but of course, no one can really be sure how many are out there.

Horror Or Humor?

Beyond the ordinary factors that give the Democrats an advantage this year, Barack Obama's glamour poses a huge problem for the McCain campaign. To destroy glamour, you have to change perceptions. You can try sober realism. But that lacks emotional punch. To strike at glamour's emotional core, horror and ridicule work better. Instead of telling the audience to ignore its desires and be rational, they replace desire with dread or derision. What was once inspirational becomes terrible or absurd.

McCain's "The One" attack ad (now in a new Denver convention version, above) is clearly an attempt to strip some of the glamour off Obama. That much is indisputable. Pundits are now arguing about whether the ad's imagery is intended as satire (the ridicule strategy) or as a veiled attempt to paint Obama as the Antichrist (the horror strategy). If you're a cool cosmopolitan character, it's hard to object to satire, even when directed at your favorite political figure. Irony is too much a part of your cultural milieu. Hence the appeal of the horror narrative: The ad isn't mocking Obama for messianic excess. It's literally portraying him as not just any old false messiah but the Antichrist.

What's interesting about this dispute is that it can't be resolved simply by looking at the ad. The interpretation is entirely in the audience's mind. The words and imagery that make Obama look ridiculously messianic are the same words and imagery that make him look like he's usurping the real Messiah's role. There's no way an ad meant to spoof him could avoid the charge of playing to fundamentalist fears. Do you find those words and images silly or scary? It depends on your cultural assumptions.

Though I'm not exactly a fan, I find it hard to believe that John McCain, a man whose humor is a major part of his persona and who clearly thinks Obama is a wet-behind-the-ears pretender, intended anything other than satire. The ad seems like obvious mockery. But it's impossible to disprove that someone in the campaign wanted a "dog whistle" to scare fundamentalists. Like glamour, humor is in the audience's mind. And the people who look at the ad and cry, "Antichrist" see only horror in the Republican base, imagining the worst. Hat tip: Megan McArdle