On the upside 


The new great depression is nigh. Hovering somewhat daftly between the claustrophobic rant of The Nails' classic "88 Lines About 44 Women" and the smack-toothed howl of Jim Carroll's "People Who Died," most of my friends -- including those friends who aren't really friends but acquaintances seemingly closer than friends, decorating the downward-spiral pages of the mainstream press -- are sliding down the invisible, lubricated wall of imminent failure. We all seem to be falling down like Martika's "Toy Soldiers" (Step by step/ Heart to heart/ Left right left/ We all fall down like toy soldiers.) Even I held a box cutter in my hand this week without a box in sight. And no, it wasn't to trim my nails.

Why are we slipping? Because we don't like us ... and nobody else does, either.

How? Because we stopped giving a damn somewhere around the time that our parents told us that our ages should match the first two digits of our yearly income.

Step by step/ Heart to heart/ We all fall down ... whatever. Oh, don't pretend you don't remember Martika.

So, in the spirit of such calculable failure, I'm choosing to offer some hopeful bits for your reading enjoyment. Not because they're true -- not by any means. But because if I stare at my own personal failure one more time, it's going to turn into a deranged homeless person and kick my pearly white ass. Well, it's not that pearly.

In short, besides raindrops on roses and whiskers on football players, these are a few of my favorite things:

• The third-place yelp: "We're going to Jersey, we're going to Tanzania, we're going to Bali ... then I'm gonna roll my sleeve up ... and then we're going to Washington to take over the presidency! WOOOOOHEEEEEE! (insert own creative phoneticizing here). Now I, for one, am deeply in love with Howard Dean, especially after seeing the topless pictures from his college days on the Internet last week, but one more faggy outburst like that and I'll be sidling up next to cute bowl-cut Edwards, putting on my best first-lady pink Chanel, and calling myself something like Morgan Fairchild. (I always loved Morgan Fairchild.) Still, it should be said that we ought to prefer somebody willing to grow a little sweat ring whilst primal screaming to the Valium-droll of a man with an obviously small penis. They don't call him Bush for nothing.

• The Bennifer blowout: Just as Bonnie Fuller's Star magazine was set to downsize its tabloid-trash size to the more reputable glossy format of her former magazine trash, US Weekly, the news breaks. There is no more Bennifer. And although people stopped caring about the talentless twosome shortly before the "Gigli" stumble, the ad space they brought in was enough to feed a whole world of little girls to the point of having J. Lo-size bottoms. I always thought they should have called the whole thing "Jenufleck" anyway, like genuflect, geddit? But I'm not always that funny.

• Those awful Osbournes: Never funny were the Osbournes, who for some reason were able to bank millions on cleaning up their innumerable dogs' poop rather than cleaning up their teeth. Well, now, as if you didn't already know enough about the fat son, the mall-punk daughter, the perky, plastic-poised mom, or the wobbly, has-been father, you can catch up with dreaded eaters of bat heads in their loving autobiography: "Ordinary People: Our Story."

If I remember correctly, isn't "Ordinary People" that extremely depressing teen-angst movie from my extremely depressing teen-angst period? Wasn't Mary Tyler Moore in it, starring as Sharon Osbourne? I'm so confused. Anyway, the book promises, among other things: In their own words (and we all know how colorful those can be), the five members of the notorious Osbourne clan tell the amazing story of the first family of rock. Ozzy talks about his first beer, his legendary career, and why he's the only sane member of the Osbourne family.

Sharon explains the root of her shopaholic nature, the ups and downs of being married to Ozzy, and what it's like to battle cancer and host a talk show.

Aimee reveals why she opted out of MTV's "The Osbournes," why she thinks her mother's in denial, and why her father destroyed himself with drugs (or why she's the smart one).

Kelly offers cutting thoughts on sibling relationships and growing up Osbourne as well as on life as a fledgling rock star (or how her career is a failure).

Jack shares stories about life without privacy ("What's privacy?") and his stint in rehab -- and claims he's the only sane one in the family (not saying much). Riveting. A more poignant tome might explain to the world why they just don't go away. Far away. Like Jersey, or Tanzania?

• VH1's "Bands Reunited:" Too bad Martika's not a band, because I would simply die if VH1's "Bands Reunited" could reunite her. Taking the place of Rich Girls as my new favorite show, this little ironic twist of televised treachery is enough to make me never work and possibly take up a gig as an underpaid cultural columnist. Oh, wait.

Anyway, the schtick goes like this. VH1 pretends, like the "Queer Eye" guys (right down to the forced-running-down-the-street bits), to ambush former members of formerly notable '80s bands, and has them autograph a record and reunite for a poorly rehearsed one-off performance. People cry, lawyers laugh and usually the whole thing goes off looking pretty tragic. Most are now graphic designers -- who isn't? -- or lounge acts, so they jump at the chance at recreating their grandiosity. Except Romeo Void, Berlin, Klymaxx and Frankie Goes to Hollywood really weren't ever THAT big. It would be like watching a Nickelback or Three Doors Down reunion 10 years from now.

But the fun is watching just how sad life really becomes when the hair dye fades and the waistlines bolster. But, hell, they're still alive, right? Are you still depressed? Thought so.


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