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Poetic Justice, The Rise and Fall of Velvet Elvis, Who Stomped Moby?

The Rise and Fall of Velvet Elvis

It's tough to find a decent velvet Elvis these days, sighs Sam Quinones.

Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Quinones offers an engaging history of the much-derided practice of painting on velvet, from its modern development in the 1930s by "debauched" American expatriate Edgar Leeteg to its popularization by Mexican street painters.  The craft reached its dubious pinnacle in the 1970s, when fluorescent images of nudes, clowns, unicorns and tigers graced the walls of lava lamp-equipped swingers' havens around the world. 

"If the 1970s were the most embarrassing years of the 20th century, then Tijuana was its Florence," writes Quinones, but by the late 1980s, the Mexican border city's kitsch Renaissance was over.  "The art supply store that once sold 200 hundred-yard rolls of velvet a month now barely sells two..." writes Quinones.  "In the entire city of Tijuana, more than one million strong, only a few still regularly brush the King's fleshy cheeks and pillowy lips onto velvet."    

Could velvet be making a comeback?  "Artists from Mexico, as well as Anglo artists from Los Angeles, are ironically reclaiming the art of black velvet painting..." notes radio program The Osgood File.  "[M]any contemporary artists...enjoy the 'low-brow' kitsch appeal of velvet."


Who Stomped Moby?

"[R]egarding the 3 guys who attacked me tonight, i'm not angry," writes Moby.  "[N]ot to sound weird or wimpy, but i'm a pacifist and i believe in forgiveness."

Moby, the outspoken electronic rock musician who found mainstream success with his 1999 album "Play," was punched and sprayed with Mace by two men outside a Boston nightclub last Wednesday night, reports Christopher Muther in the Boston Globe.  The unknown assailants may have been inspired by recent threats against Moby by rapper/actor Eminem.   

In the daily journal he maintains on his own Web site, Moby says he's not interested in revenge, but he would like an explanation.  "if one or more of the people who attacked me tonight happen to be reading this, i'd be really curious to know why you attacked me," writes the uppercase-phobic technopop star.  "you could anonymously sign on to the boards and describe the attack from your perspective. i'm honestly very curious." 

Who's next -- the Olsen twins?  Moby is only the latest target of Eminem's verbal abuse, writes Richard Roeper in the Chicago Sun-Times.  

REM's 1994 pop hit "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" was inspired by another notable celebrity beating.


Poetic Justice

A Pennsylvania Supreme Court judge's penchant for poetry isn't going over so well with his colleagues.

"[A]n opinion that expresses itself in rhyme reflects poorly on the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania," wrote Chief Justice Stephen A. Zappala in response to Justice J. Michael Eakin's recent written dissent to a court ruling.  Eakin's opinion -- in a case that involved a fake engagement ring -- consisted of seven quatrains and one footnote, writes Adam Liptak in The New York Times.  It begins: "A groom must expect matrimonial pandemonium/When his spouse finds he's given her cubic zirconium." 

Believe it or not, there's an established tradition of judgments written in wince-inducing verse, says Liptak.  A judge who sentenced a prostitute to probation with a ruling that began "On January 30th, 1974, this lass agreed to work as a whore," earned himself a censure from the Kansas Supreme Court. 


Short Takes

Trouble in Beatleland
Paul McCartney wants his name credited first on Beatles songs he wrote without John Lennon, reports Geoff Boucher in the Los Angeles Times.

"A Dirty and Cursed Burlesque"
The government of North Korea doesn't appreciate being cast as the villain in the new James Bond movie, writes Jenny Booth in the UK Telegraph.

A Tone Like Old Leather
Michael Anthony bemoans a dreadful "Three Tenors" performance, in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Making Singers Sick
San Francisco's Board of Supervisors has decided not to ban stage fog, notes Jay Nordlinger in the Wall Street Journal.

Mating Filmmaker and Material
Critic Elvis Mitchell lauds director Peter Jackson's second "Lord of the Rings" film, in The New York Times.

Bush Backordered
A George W. Bush doll that repeats presidential malapropisms is an unexpected hit, reports the AP's Erica Werner.

Guitarist and Gourmet
Alan Niester remembers former Lovin' Spoonful guitarist Zal Yanovsky, who died Friday at the age of 57, in Canada's The Globe and Mail.

My Kingdom for a Blackwing 602
Writers and cartoonists are hoarding supplies of an out-of-production pencil, says Boston Globe columnist Alex Beam.

Farewell to a Favorite
A beloved Upper East Side bookstore is closing its doors after 30 years, reports Dinitia Smith in The New York Times.

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