By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
It’s already a month into the Dubya era, but the rabid Internet right can’t seem to let go of their old political chew toy, Bill Clinton. A case in point is a posting by Los Angeles attorney Brian Buckley that is making the rounds of political junkies’ e-mailboxes. Buckley is the nephew of conservative icon William F. Buckley Jr. and general counsel for FreeRepublic.com, a cyberspace rallying ground for the hard right and all things anti-Clinton (including some truly bizarre threads crowing with unrestrained joy over the former president’s skin-cancer diagnosis). Buckley is one of the so-called “freepers” who led the call to arms to boycott Clinton’s $100K appearance at a Morgan, Stanley get-together this winter.
Posting on January 25 under his FreeRepublic screen name “Clarity,” Buckley said, “Why be so easy on the Clintons? Even after they are dead, I say we stuff their bodies, fix them in some kind of preservative and display them at county fairs across the nation, on a rotating basis where the citizenry can have fun putting cow dung on them (remember that’s ‘art’). If that’s not in good taste, their bodies should be flattened thin as possible, again fixed in some kind of preservative and hoisted up a flag pole to flap in the wind.”
As a Brentwood-based attorney, isn’t Buckley worried his extremist tone could be bad for business? Apparently not.
“I know what’s going to come out in your newspaper,” says the lawyer. “You’ve done hit pieces on us before, and I don’t care what you say.”
Buckley explains that his post was a send-up of a fellow freeper’s earlier, “obsessive and bizarre” post about the Clintons. “Someone put up this crazy post about hounding them to death, and my reply was merely Swiftian satire,” he says. ‘‘If my post is taken out of that context, of course it looks crazy.” Having unearthed the FreeRepublic thread in question, it seems to OffBeat that Mr. Buckley is doing a bit of verbal tap-dancing not unlike that of his nemesis, Clinton. The post that prompted Buckley’s diatribe reads as follows: “Clinton not only must spend the rest of his days in jail, but everything he stood for and championed must be thoroughly repudiated, discredited, and disgraced . . . He must never be given a moment’s peace from the continuing judges’ gavels as long as he roams the earth . . . The long legal knives of conservatives must be sharpened against Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, and they and their gang must be victimized by the legal system in a manner that will make all conservatives proud.” Satire is a tricky business, but surely a truly Swiftian take would have been to suggest the Clintons’ canonization, or naming an airport after them, like their patron saint, Reagan. But as a lackey of the Liberal Media, what would OffBeat know? —Johnny Angel
Denise Rich’s Spirit Muses
As federal authorities began investigating whether Democratic fund-raiser Denise Rich bought her ex-husband’s pardon, OffBeat found ourselves intrigued by the media’s oft-repeated description of the New York socialite as a songwriter. Rich, of course, is the former wife of fugitive financier Marc Rich, whose last-minute pardon by Clinton set off a political firestorm. Living in L.A., we’re used to “creative” titles like songwriter being bandied about with little substance. Lo and behold, this is no society dame scribbling a few lyrics. Rich is the composer of 400 songs, including “The Next American Hero” for the 1988 Olympics, Sister Sledge’s hit “Frankie” (1985), and “Don’t Waste Your Time,” a duet by Mary J. Blige and Aretha Franklin (1988), as well as compositions for Donna Summer, Marc Anthony and Diana Ross.
On her Web site, Richsong.com, Rich writes that she penned her first lyrics in the bathroom; she calls these her “bathroom tapes.” The BMI Web site says that Rich took up songwriting at the same time she first came to prominence as a Manhattan socialite and wife of a billionaire commodities trader, “originally as a method of addressing her troubled marriage.”
“Frankie” was written after a dream she had on a plane heading for Europe. The song is about a summer romance between a 12-year-old girl and 15-year-old boy that went sour when he dumped her for another (presumably prepubescent?) girl. “Oh, how you brought me down (down down); all I did was runnin’ around (around).” Years later, Rich attacked a similar topic with “Don’t Waste Your Time” for Blige and Franklin. “He’s got a sweetie on the side; stop making truth out of his lies.”
Rich attributes her musical success to the occult. “I think a lot of my ideas come from maybe my past lives,” she writes. “Maybe it’s a spiritual connection to people who have passed on. I know I get ideas from them.” If that’s true, maybe she needs to talk again with the spirit who told her to get mixed up in her ex’s affairs.
Rich still has a thing for controversial rich guys. Her new beau is rumored to be Herbert Black, a Montreal millionaire who most recently made the news by winning a ‘‘substantial amount of money’’ as part of a settlement of the Sotheby/Christie’s commission-fixing case. Herbert is also known as the “David” who took on the “Goliath” Sumitomo Corp. in a deal that sent the worldwide price of copper over the edge. The Japanese commodity giant ended up losing billions, while Black made a clear profit of over $75 million. Black also was involved in a bitter divorce battle with his second wife, Veeda Gilanshah of New York. The Iranian-born Gilanshah married Black in June 1990. Their divorce dispute began in 1992.
Around the same time, according to an article in the Montreal Gazette, Black was sued by American landscape architects Cummin & Associates Inc., which claimed in court documents in 1993 that Black had failed to pay $151,516 for work on his homes, including his country estate at Lac Brule, north of Montreal. That matter was reportedly settled out of court.
Black modestly describes his financial position as “comfortable.” Not that the accomplished Rich needs help, the spirit muses willing. But it’s always nice to have someone in your corner when the feds come knocking. Preferably a multimillionaire. —Christine Pelisek
Born to Squat?
If an irresistible celebrity meets an immovable cyber-squatter, who gives? In the case of Bruce Springsteen vs. Jeff Burgar and the Bruce Springsteen Club, decided on February 7, the alleged cyber-squatter prevailed against pop icon Springsteen. The dispute involved the rights to the Internet domain brucespringsteen.com. Burgar registered it way back in ’96; Springsteen, or perhaps more accurately, Sony Music decided they wanted it in November of 2000 — the date a complaint was filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
WIPO is the Geneva-based branch of the United Nations that finds itself at the center of hundreds of disputes involving cyber-squatting — the dubious practice of registering a Web domain bearing similarity to an existing trademark or personality in order to profit off misdirected Web traffic or a resale. Many thought it was unfair to call Burgar a squatter. In the years since registering the address brucespringsteen.com, the Canadian Web developer hadn’t tried to profit from the name or traffic, choosing instead to post a simple fan site. Two of the three WIPO panelists agreed, finding against Springsteen. The third panelist dissented on all points.
The Boss must have fans in Geneva, as it is rare that a WIPO panel consists of more than one arbiter. It’s also rare for any complainant — typically a corporation or celebrity — to lose a domain dispute. Recent celebrity victories include madonna.com and juliaroberts.com. It didn’t help that Sony Music already holds at least two Springsteen-related domains, brucespringsteen.net and brucespringsteen.org. The former is a hastily produced press release leading to an equally spare page hawking DVDs. The latter address remains undeveloped, without even a splash page. Burgar is now the center of a heated bulletin-board debate, with some calling him a modern-day David and other Bruce fans condemning him as a poor sport or even a Travis Bickel.
Other WIPO cases pending include aol-girls.com, genesimmonsco.com, gayebay.com and josieandthepussycats.net. Four guesses who the plaintiffs are. Given the rising number of domain disputes, OffBeat wonders how long before porn site whitehouse.com comes before a WIPO panel. If it does, who will win? —Bill Smith
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