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Sep. 30 2009 — 2:58 pm | 18 views | 1 recommendations | 1 comment

Rent-a-Friend (Japanese Style)


Image by tenaciousme via Flickr

In Japan, part of the aesthetic is minimalism, or what they’d describe as “beauty with subtraction.” Socially it’s possible that this core cultural value has been taken too  literally. Japan has, unfortunately, a high suicide rate. Nobody apparently has any friends. And the productive people with idle time just come up with bizarre inventions like a “noodle-eaters hair guard.” Perhaps that’s why an enterprising young Japanese man by the name of Ryuichi Ichinokawa saw this schism in his culture as an opportunity. Need a best man at y0ur wedding? Or how about an underwhelming co-worker who’ll make you look good? Just rent one, baby!

Ichinokawa’s agancy, Hagemashi Tai [I Want to Cheer You Up] , was launched a few years ago. And he’s not alone:

The number of rent-a-friend agencies in Japan has doubled to about 10 in the past eight years. The best known, Office Agent, has 1,000 people on its books.

In recent months demand has surged for bogus bosses among men who have lost their jobs; for colleagues among contract employees who never stay in the same job long enough to make friends, and from divorcees and lovelorn singletons.”

Ichinokawa’s agents charge a modest 15,000 yen (£100) to turn up at a wedding party, but extra if they are asked to make a speech or to sing karaoke.

The interesting thing is that Ichinokawa is so devoted to his work he even once pretended to be someone’s husband.

If only they posted that job on Craigslist. I’d have jumped all over it (as long as it’s not for a divorcee from Beverly Hills).

I apologize in advance to my wife. But she knows I have career issues.

Sep. 17 2009 — 6:39 pm | 34 views | 1 recommendations | 0 comments

Gridiron Girls

Assorted lingerie styles

Image via Wikipedia

Can’t you just feel the excitement about the upcoming lingerie football season? It’s palpable. It’s  almost like an impending rapture. What will happen to the luddites in the NFL? I’ll tell you….they’re obsolete, baby! Who wants to see a bunch of men in tight pants run up and down a field. I’d rather watch an ear operation on TV.

The big question this year is who’s going to take it all? The Dallas Desire or the Seattle Mist? I’ve got all my fantasy marbles on the new Denver squad called the Dream (could’ve been a better name like the “Mile-High Clubbers”), where 20 finely-accomplished athletes have made it to the team from a field of 100.

And if you’re skeptical just hear this:

“Participants say even though they play in their underwear, they are athletes and work to stay in shape and be in prime condition to play football.”

So let them play in their underwear for chrissakes! I don’t see the problem. I play badminton in the nude all the time. It’s a personal choice. And if these athletes want to play unencumbered it probably improves their game. I think my only criticism is that there’s no oil slick on the field. And that they play on a 50 yard field, not 100.  I feel like that’s sexist.  I’m filled with vitriol just thinking about that.

These are women that play for the love of the game. This is not some fake charade. They play tackle too.

“Look at me, look at my bruises and how beat-up I am,” Melissa Mikkelson, 21, a 5-foot-7, 111-pound rookie center from Dallas told the Denver Daily News . “We scrimmage, we run drills, we do it all.”

The Denver Dream better do it all this year–the is one job they just can’t blow.

Jul. 23 2009 — 2:59 am | 5 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments


There are lots of things I wish I had an app for. Like a memory eraser would be nice. A waitress from Reno comes to mind. Or an app that would not only find Bin Laden, but make him agnostic. That would be cool. How about an app that gets Obama’s health care bill through Congress? The point is, don’t fire off any unnecessary neurons, just create an app that does it for you. Don’t think or relate to people. Just immerse yourself in the existential void of your iPhone, surely you’ll find an answer or a pleasant distraction.

I get it. Human beings need all the help they can get before Armageddon hits in 2012. But seriously can’t we just take a small breather from the matrix? Apparently this app-frenzy knows no bounds. You can now actually score weed with your iPhone–albeit, legally. A new app called “Cannabis” created by AJNAG.com does just that. Glaucoma weighing you down? Just pull out your Jesus phone and find the nearest medical marijuana shop. Because when you need to take the edge off, you don’t have time to dilly-dally with traffic to get home and smoke your stash. You need weed now for f__ks sake! It’s a frickin’ emergency!

Not only can you find the nearest “pharmacy” with Cannabis, should you find yourself in an imbroglio with with a sheriff, you can even use the app to find a marijuana-sympathetic lawyer. Yay!

What’s next? The prostitute app? The vicodin app?

I’m drowning in utility. Help.

Jul. 15 2009 — 2:06 am | 1 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Vote Now: Michael Jackson in Butter

Michael Jackson, cropped from :Image:Michael J...

Image via Wikipedia

Butter can be used for a lot of purposes (note: Last Tango in Paris), but not as a tool for an homage to the King of Pop. That, unfortunately, is exactly what’s being proposed at the Iowa State Fair. Iowans are a progressive bunch–passing gay marriage and all–but they are not immune to a robust debate on forbidden subject matter, especially when it comes to the state’s formidable band of butter sculptors. In fact, there hasn’t been this much controversy on artistic license in the Hawkeye state since 1999, when another butter sculptor (note: how cool would that be to have on your business card–”butter sculptor”? Almost as good as “certified moyle”), by the name of Duffy Lyon, carved out “The Last Supper” in buttery glory.   

The proposal is to display the Michael Jackson in his classic moonwalk move. And this is irking some Jackson fans. The sculpture would somehow be featured in conjunction with another butter sculpture of Neil Armstrong landing on the moon…i guess to celebrate the 40th anniversary. Jackson loyalists need not worry. Iowans are very democratic. They’d never decide something unilaterally like Texas. So they’re putting it to a vote. Through July 16th, you can actually vote online here to have an impact on this highly important issue of our time. 
You know, the more I think about it, why shouldn’t we feel free to pay an homage in butter. It’s not like Jackson is Jesus. In fact, it’s likely he was the most opposite thing of Jesus: a pedophile-ish type who was socially alienated and couldn’t really relate to grown ups. Maybe butter is apt. After all, it will melt. And do we really need to pay more tribute? My hometown, Los Angeles, is nearly bankrupt and they found some way to pay 4 million for the king’s funeral (but scoffed when they had to cough it up for the Lakers). Feh.
But if you’re a true fan and you don’t want to travel to Iowa to see the masterpiece you could take matters into your own hands:  

Jul. 2 2009 — 3:03 am | 8 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment

Tragic 9-1-1 Bloopers

Old phone operator console

Image by Marcin Wichary via Flickr

9-1-1 calls used to be for life and death. Now, they’re for Chicken McNuggets. Forget infanticide, murder and larceny. Forget real problems like global warming and Sarah Palin. A real emergency is when you pay for a burger and fries with a 10-spot and you don’t get the right change. Aggghhhhh! The injustice of it all! It makes you want to assemble in the streets of North Tehran.

You wonder what goes through some people’s heads. Just last week in Clackamas, Ore., 23-year-old Jeremy Lloyd Martin apparently had such an overdeveloped sense of injustice that he repeatedly called 9-1-1 to complain that the golden arches shortchanged him by a whopping $8! Eventually, they sent an officer to arrest him. Here’s the astonishing audio:

Jeremy Lloyd Martin Calls 9-1-1

I’d like to think compassionately that maybe the man was disturbed. He was not. He was functional. Everyone can snap temporarily about something. And for some, that trigger is even the most minor injustice. This only convinces me cognitive behavioral therapy should be mandatory in this country.

It also reminds me of another nitwit, Latreasa Goodman, who complained about her McDonald’s not having her Chicken McNuggets. Another astonishing call:

Chicken McNugget Freakazoid

But wait. It’s so American. Shortly after she’s arrested, she actually goes on the air to defend herself — if you can understand what she’s saying ( sounds something like “ana sana wana can my own hand”):

Her Incomprehensible Defense

I get that people need to vent. That’s why I propose The National Kvetching Hotline. We could staff the the hotline with white-collar criminals like Madoff and make them listen to the most maddening minutia. It’s a win-win for everyone. No precious wasted civic resources would have to be spared on these putzes. My plan B proposal would be to take a perpetrator’s cell phone away for a year, much like you would with a drunk driver’s car. And my nuclear option would be to make them actually work at McDonald’s for life. That would be cruel, baby!

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    About Me

    If you are consoled by absurd--whether it's auctioning off virginity or adding cocaine alkaloids to Red Bull--you're in the right place. We can't have hope without knowing our contradictions. It's lonely being a gadfly. I'm currently a Sr. Editor at the Los Angeles Times Magazine and I've written for numerous publications (from travel, to personal essays, to entertainment) including the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Rolling Stone and the now defunct, but missed, New York Sun.

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    Contributor Since: May 2009