A profile of Phoenix Jones, real-life superhero.
Monday, August 8
By 2006, S&P was making its own study of such loans' performance. It singled out 639,981 loans made in 2002 to see if its benign assumptions had held up. They hadn't. Loans with piggybacks were 43% more likely to default than other loans, S&P found. In April 2006, S&P said it would raise by July the amount of collateral underwriters must include in many new mortgage portfolios. For instance, S&P could require that mortgage pools have extra loans in them, since it now expected a larger number to go bad. Still, S&P didn't lower its ratings on existing securities, saying it had to further monitor the performance of loans backing them. It thus helped the market for these loans hold up through the end of 2006.
The writer travels with his father to Iceland and Greenland:
It usually takes a week of traveling with Ed Tower before I’m seized by the tantrum-pitching impulse and can barely resist the urge to punch myself again and again in the face.
Sunday, August 7
As a teenager, Trey Smith snuck into the cash- and porn-filled home vault of his friend’s father. Fifteen years later, he told the story from prison.
A profile of an up-and-coming director:
Well, according to Woody, his ascent has been a series of painful falls. Success hasn't changed him, Allen insists: he's still a schlemiel. "I'm afraid of the dark and suspicious of the light," he says. "I have an intense desire to return to the womb—anybody's." Ineptitude, Woody goes on, is a family curse.
"Hi," she said on the telephone, a week after the announcement. "This is Toni, your Nobelette. Are you ready for Stockholm?" Well, since she asked, why not? I left town for Greek light, German sausage, Russian soul, French sauce, Spanish bull, Zen jokes, the Heart of Darkness and the Blood of the Lamb. Toni Morrison's butter cakes and baby ghosts, her blade of blackbirds and her graveyard loves, her Not Doctor Street and No Mercy Hospital and all those maple syrup men "with the long-distance eyes" are a whole lot more transfiguring. Where else but Stockholm, even if she does seem to have been promiscuous with her invitations. I mean, she asked Bill Clinton, too, whose inaugural she had attended, and with whom she was intimate at a White House dinner party in March. (He told Toni's agent, Amanda "Binky" Urban, that he really wanted to go but... they wouldn't let him.) Salman Rushdie might also have gone except that the Swedish Academy declined officially to endorse him in his martyrdom, after which gutlessness three of the obligatory eighteen academicians resigned in protest, and can't be replaced, because you must die in your Stockholm saddle.
Saturday, August 6
SHRIVER: Regarding your Playboy exposé, I know you've discussed this a great deal, but I'd like to ask you this: You've said that you were glad you did it. What role do you think that exposé played in your early career and the notoriety you've achieved? Is there a similar exposé that someone could do today--something that would be as shocking? STEINEM: It took me a very long time to be glad. At first, it was such a gigantic mistake from a career point of view that I really regretted it. I'd just begun to be taken seriously as a freelance writer, but after the Playboy article, I mostly got requests to go underground in some other semi-sexual way. It was so bad that I returned an advance to turn the Playboy article into a paperback, even though I had to borrow the money. Even now, people ask why I was a Bunny, Right-Wingers still describe me only as a former Bunny, and you're still asking me about it-almost a half-century later. But feminism did make me realize that I was glad I did it--because I identified with all the women who ended up an underpaid waitress in too-high heels and a costume that was too tight to breathe in. Most were just trying to make a living and had no other way of doing it. I'd made up a background as a secretary, and the woman who interviewed me asked, "Honey, if you can type, why would you want to work here?" In the sense that we're all identified too much by our outsides instead of our insides and are mostly in underpaid service jobs, I realized we're all Bunnies--so yes, I'm glad I did it. If a writer wants to do a similar exposé now, there's no shortage of stories that need telling. For instance, go as a pregnant woman into so-called crisis pregnancy centers and record what you're told to scare or force you not to choose an abortion-including harassing you, calling your family or employer. Or pretend to be a woman with a criminal record and see how difficult it is to get a job. Or use a homeless center as an address and see what happens in your life. Or work at an ordinary service job in the pink-collar ghetto, as Barbara Ehrenreich did in Nickel and Dimed. But be warned that if you're a woman journalist and you choose an underground job that's related to sex or looks, you may find it hard to shake the very thing you were exposing.
Friday, August 5
Jerry Lewis has had a spectacular sex life. On the road, of course, girls were everywhere—in his dressing room, back at his hotel. But even at home, when he was directing a film, sometimes he'd get to the set early for "a little hump," just to get the day started right. Joseph Levitch, as he was named upon his birth in Newark, New Jersey, had his first sexual experience seventy-three years ago, when he was 12. It was backstage at a club where his father, a singer and dancer who called himself Danny Lewis, was performing. The temptress was a twentysomething stripper named Trudine who lured the boy into her dressing room. "Whatever we did, I remember it took only a minute," Lewis recalls fondly. "She was a piece of work. She danced with a snake." He married his first wife, Patti, a singer with Jimmy Dorsey's band, when he was 19. They'd met after he dropped out of high school to go on the road, starting at the bottom in burlesque houses where comics took the stage in between strippers. These were the kinds of dives that were patronized by "guys in the front with the newspapers in their laps and the trench coats—a tough room, but you had to do it."
The failure of MTV’s Staten Island-based reality show and the fate of its cast members:
While Bridge & Tunnel hangs in programming purgatory, the DeBartolis are hamstrung by Draconian network contracts that reportedly don't allow them to have agents or managers or even talk about any of this publicly for five years. So while JWoww shills her own black bronzer line and Snooki slams into Italian police cars for $100,000 an episode, Gabriella and Brianna have been working respectively as a secretary and a pizza-order girl in Staten Island. The papers they signed as passports off Staten Island are effectively keeping them there.