Slick Dick

Dick Morris pipes up, the Bishops come to town and I-70 gets no respect

Dick Morris is a great big pussycat.

Double entendres aside, the ex-Clinton image shaper's most poignant feline trait may be that he's a nine-lifer. No matter the scandal, Dick bounces back every time. Nothing -- not shameless political fluidity nor blabbing top-secret White House gossip to a high-priced call girl -- can keep the Dick-man down.

Flying high from his prominent gigs at right-wing shockmeister media outlets FOX News and the New York Post, Morris is back on the book-tour circuit, making a June 26 pit stop at the Ladue Barnes & Noble to promote his latest, Off With Their Heads, a screed that takes dead critical aim at (among others) the New York Times, the Clintons and the French. En route to a Big Apple book-signing, Morris submitted himself to an Unreal interrogation:

Unreal:Your shredding of theNYT seems prescient in light of the Jayson Blair scandal. If FOX News were to hire Blair and Howell Raines to co-host a show, what would the show be called, other thanPolish Wedding?

Dick Morris: It would be Not Necessarily the News.

Which would you rather do: Watch paint dry or listen to a Dick Gephardt stump speech?

I used to use Al Gore, now I use Ambien, but I'm considering getting off the pill and going to Gephardt instead. Y'know how Bob Dole went into erectile-dysfunction ads? Once Gephardt leaves office, he could promote Ambien sleeping medication.

Would you rather hang out with: a) Bill Bennett at a casino; b) Teddy Kennedy, circa 1985, at an open bar; or c) Bill Clinton at a strip club eating popcorn chicken and sipping cherry Cokes?

There should be a d) -- b and c together. Teddy Kennedy and Chris Dodd invited a waitress to be part of a human sandwich between the two of them back in the '80s. I assume in Dodd's case, he'd be a slice of toast. Kennedy would be the club roll -- the hero. And she'd be the meat in the middle. These aren't like the normal questions I get.

If you were a general manager for a baseball team and President Clinton was an opposing GM, would you trade Sherry Rowlands straight-up for Monica Lewinsky, or would Bubba have to throw in another intern, Hillary or Gennifer Flowers to sweeten the deal?

I think I'll pass on that question.

Sound Off

With last week's settlement in the antitrust lawsuit against the music industry came the startling news that the defendants -- Sony, EMI, Warner-Elektra-Atlantic, Universal and Bertelsmann -- will have to distribute 5.6 million free CDs to America's schools and libraries to make amends for their price-fixing ways.

The idea of a roomful of lawyers bickering over which albums go to which educational institutions -- "Christina's first album is acceptable compensation for elementary schools, but the slutty new CD is only for reform schools and the U.S. Naval Academy" -- is amusing, but it also got us thinking: What recordings should absolutely become part of the educational curriculum?

How about this canon, for starters:

The Germs, GI: Smart kids can learn creative stupidity as an acceptable means to an end.

The Stooges, Funhouse: Stupid kids can learn creative stupidity as an acceptable means to an end.

Peter Brötzmann, Machine Gun: Kids can learn to focus rage into articulate, beautiful purpose.

The Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots: Kids can learn that articulate compassion is just as powerful as articulate rage.

Jonathan Richman, Rock'N'Roll with the Modern Lovers: Kids can learn that none of it means anything if you don't have ice cream.

Road Rage

Over the past few years, several West County highway interchanges have been gussied up thanks to a variety of funding sources, including tax-increment financing and federal and state dollars. However, when sixteen bridges on Interstate 70 from downtown St. Louis to the city limits were replaced over roughly the same period, the beautification committee must have been out to lunch. Instead of West County-style landscaping, the city bridges got chain link fences, concrete slopes and bare concrete piers.

The disparity didn't escape the notice of the East-West Gateway Coordinating Council, which worked with then-U.S. Senator Jean Carnahan to earmark $5 million for the Missouri Department of Transportation to spruce up I-70. Part of the facelift, begun in March, involved brick façades for the bridge piers. Trouble is, the façades only cover the frontsof the piers; the 100,000 drivers who ply the highway each day can clearly see the metal straps that hold the false fronts in place.

"The 'shin guards' are not what we expected, nor is it what is acceptable here," complains state Representative Yaphett El-Amin (D-North St. Louis). "We expect the same commitment from MoDOT to do a quality project in the city as when they design highways in the county."

Not so fast, warns MoDOT spokeswoman Linda Wilson. "We still have to figure out how to get this done, what's the time frame, what's the cost and how do we get the money," says Wilson, adding that the upgrade could cost $500,000.

"If public facilities in an affluent community are going to look better than in a poor community despite the fact that it's the same agency responsible for both, that to me is not right," retorts East-West Gateway Coordinating Council executive director Les Sterman. "Our concern is that all areas of the region be treated equitably by our public agencies regardless of where they are located and how wealthy they are."

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