back to the Black Table
  INCOMING! AUGUST 23, 2004.  


This week gets off to a jaunty start in Germany, with pre-trial hearings of four US soldiers facing court martial over mistreatment of prisoners in Abu Ghraib. We hope, perhaps naively, that the defense


will not take a page from the Kobe people's playbook and insinuate that the alleged victims cowered from snarling dogs on their own mere hours before and after the incidents in question. Rather, testimony should no doubt turn -- as it has in recent pre-trial hearings for America's favorite bad girl, not-so-private Lynndie England -- to the alleged involvement of higher-ups. Now if only they could come up with some Polaroids of Rumsfeld looking the other way.

If you'd like to hear the national anthem without cringing, flip over to NBC, where the Olympics, and gratuitous mentions of Greek-derived words in English ("hubris," say), continue. Our pick: women's wrestling, making its debut this year as an Olympic sport. (It's a development I've supported ever since the experience of watching my high school boyfriend repeatedly get his ass kicked on the mat gave me, on behalf of my entire gender, that sneaking "anything you can do, I can


do better" feeling.) Several of the U.S. women wrestled on their high schools' boys' teams; several of their opponents have yet to get over being beaten by the girl.

There's also "dressage" today, and we think two medals should be given to every winner: one to the human for skill, and one to the horse for forbearance. After all, our four-legged friends are the ones forced to spend the entire Games glaring enviously at their counterparts in other events who get to take more than three goddamn mincing steps at a time.



Great news for the City That Never Sleeps With Anyone Without Risk of Scandal! Today marks the grand opening of the first Krispy Kreme Doughnuts store in Washington D.C. Interestingly, on this day in


1814, British troops invaded the city and burned down the White House. Coincidence, or carb-spiracy? In any case, perhaps it's a positive move for a company currently reeling from the days-ago departure (under less than sweet circumstances) of its COO and pointing a sticky finger at the Atkins people for its dropping stock value. Which is funny, because it's not like all the diets before Atkins recommended Krispy Kremes (approximately 690,984 Weight Watchers points each).

Hot Doughnuts Now! It's Olympic women's beach volleyball! And with a side of scandal! Didja catch those funny thingies on the backs of two of the Norwegian players? Did you think they were marks from Mama Gwyneth's new favorite celebtherapy, "cupping" (kind of like acupuncture, only with hot glass)? Turns out those gizmos were contraceptive patches, worn by the ladies on behalf of their sponsor … their boyfriends. (Ha, ha, no, silly, the athletes are sponsored by the patch company.) Problem is, there's a ban on advertising during the Games, so the players have removed, or at least


relocated, the offending patches. As for the ban on international women's access to birth control and family planning information, that has something to do with the Bush administration.



Viva La Tomatina! The madre of all food fights takes place today in Spain. Every year, participants gather in the town square of Bunyols


(in Valencia) to hurl tomatoes at one another -- which, according to the rules, must be squished first so they hurt less. (Could they somehow apply this safety measure to the Running of the Bulls?) The origin of this festival, steeped in rich lore, is traced variously to an old tale of people throwing tomatoes at a bad musician, and to an old tale of people throwing tomatoes at a guy in a parade. If you ask me, we should borrow this tradition. Specifically, we should hold it in the winter, so we can do away with those shitty pink out-of-season tomatoes. Or to protest those gorgeous red ones that cost $4 in January and taste shitty anyway. Just saying.

Hot Tomatoes Now! Over in Athens, it's men's Greco-Roman wrestling, considered the uber-proto-ancient-Olympic sport. Here's what I'd like to see: Since they're in Greece anyway, why not have them wrestle actual Romans? While we're at it, they should do it the way they did in 708 BC, with oiled bodies fighting on sand.

Again, just saying.





Tomorrow you can treat us like shit, but today, today is Women's Equality Day. At the behest of millinery marvel Bella Abzug (D-N.Y.), Congress dedicated the day in 1971 to commemorate the 1920


passage of the 19th amendment, which granted women the right to vote, and granted pollsters the right to invent monikers like "Soccer Mom."

Troublingly, though, we live in a time when -- word is -- single women are not so inspired to vote at all, which is truly strange considering the choice is between the new guy with the excellent wife and four more years of the Handmaid's Tale. Is it because single women aren't old enough to remember their moms sitting at home glumly while Father went off to vote? Is it because they'll be too busy giggling and sipping Cosmos … on Tuesday morning? Or … is it because pollsters are trying to get out the she-vote by saying things like, "Pretend it's a hair appointment you wouldn't miss!" Or because candidates aren't talking about how their tax proposals will affect anyone but "families?" Families are great and all, but come on. If the campaigns make single women feel just about as terrific and included as they do at a baby shower, then no freaking wonder. Oops, you got me



Well! It's a fine day to question the merits of women's rhythmic gymnastics, the Olympics' version of Cirque du Soleil (which is Greek for "People can bend that way?"). Honestly, I love that one with the ribbon. Anyone who thinks all this stuff with hoops and balls is "not a real sport" should shut the fuck up and try curling. Maybe by the time you've mastered that -- and trust me, balancing on a ball, on your head, is even harder -- Commenting from Your Recliner will be a medal event.



Oh yeah, and that other guy! Today marks the start of the Reform Party Convention in Dallas, scheduled for the few days when all the Republicans would be away. It's unclear whether this party's


presidential nominee will be able to attend; since he's been unable to qualify for the ballot in many states, he may still be off somewhere, petition in hand, doing door-to-door canvassing. Meanwhile, irritated Dems have mustered legal challenges to these ballot petitions in states from Pennsylvania to Oregon. Says Mr. Nader's spokesman, Kevin Zeese: "Where are the battles? Everywhere. It doesn't matter if it's a swing state or a safe state. The Democrats are doing their best to harass us everywhere. Their goal is to divert our resources and bleed our campaign." Now there's something he and the Dems agree on.

Back over on NBC, please take a moment to marvel at anyone, ever, who even considers doing the modern pentathlon ("pent-"-- is Greek for "triathlons are for pussies"). The five events include horse jumping, shooting, fencing, swimming and getting to midtown during the Republican Convention.



Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel Miss Media..


INCOMING! runs every Monday on The Black Table.