NY Mirror

Richard Linklater's 'Waking Life'—that animated epic in which people rant about the merits of sleepwalking through life versus wakewalking through sleep—is like being trapped at a book party, but way more fun, and you must believe me on that. At an Evelyn Lounge celebration for the film, its object of blather, Wiley Wiggins, told me he didn't get bored listening to all the spewing, "but what was frustrating was not being able to talk back!" I guess the audience is allowed to do so, though; Linklater told me it's OK to roll your eyes at some of the vivacious viewpoints. "It's a lot of contradictions," he said. "I don't mind people laughing at people. The whole thing's a joke. These people are animated and taking themselves seriously." A self-effacing director? I must have been dreaming.

On waking, I learned that another American auteur, John Waters, has good reason to feel pleased with himself. His riotously ahead-of-their-time Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble have come out in a double-disc DVD set, and everything's alright with my sick little world again. The director told me by phone that in the flicks' new versions, "They look better than they ever looked. But don't worry—they still look bad!"

What really looks rotten is the current anthrax situation, which Waters and I—and everyone else—were suitably fixated about, with gloves and snorkels on. I feel that whoever the demented spreaders are, they certainly have an accurate view of the hierarchy of American media—they went after the Enquirer first and NBC second. Waters wondered if it's "beyond possibility that the Enquirer would have bought that anthrax. If they wanted to get the top story, they could have actually stopped Bin Laden from spreading anthrax by intercepting it." But there are other (equally kooky) theories as to how the tabs were touched. As Patricia Hearst told Waters, "Who wouldn't have done it? Every celebrity would have done it." Corey Haim?

By the way, don't doubt Waters on wartime issues; his movie Pecker predated all those Times editorials by ending with the title character's father saying, "To the end of irony!" (I'm not sure it's really over, though, with newspaper headlines like, "U.S. Drops Bombs, Food.") But back to the anthrax—can you believe the hilarious advice we're getting from all those "experts" who emit wisdom on a myriad of cable channels? For example, what do we do if anthrax is wafted into our atmosphere? "Close your windows," one dweeb advised with a straight face. And what if some terrorists drive up and start randomly shooting? "Duck for cover," offered another Einstein. I'm ducking from Fox News.

I also loved the tabloid rep who went on TV and reassured everyone that you can't get anthrax from reading his rag, adding, "Some people will believe anything!" Yeah, like the fact that Hillary Clinton is dating a space alien.

More credibly, my sources say that GE, which owns NBC, hires news workers as independent contractors—a common practice—which means those folks don't get sick time or health insurance. So if you work in the newsroom and test positive for anthrax, you're probably on your own, baby!

Meanwhile, am I alone in doubting the trillions who are suddenly claiming they know someone who was told by a dark-skinned person, "I can't explain why, but don't go to work at the World Trade Center on September 11"? Please—a few years ago, these same know-it-alls were close friends with the nurse who had those gerbil X-rays.

And don't you love the way everyone's frantically packing up their butt rodents and fleeing to the suburbs? Honey, I'd rather die here than live there! Even more scarily, can you believe that the original Bin Laden, Hitler, has been outed in some crackpot book? The author must have seen The Producers one too many times. What's most irritating is that all the media outlets who won't allow outing as a form of celebrating living gay artists are chomping at the bit for this one.

While I'm at it, let me counter the folks who are urging us to stop whining about gay rights because everything but the war must go on the back burner at a time like this (as if gay rights got top priority before). Well, sorry, but I feel that now, more than ever, we must assert what makes our great country different from the tyrannies we're fighting against. There's no "right time" to shut up about freedom—and now that gays have been deemed integral to the heroic forefront of recent events, it's all the more appropriate, especially since some of the rights we've been fighting for (giving blood and joining the armed forces) would help the war effort!

My divine right (if we can get superficial again) was to catch the très faithful revival of A Chorus Line at the Paper Mill in New Jersey and realize that the show, about people competing for Broadway roles by submitting to a sadistic psychodrama, was the original Survivor. What's more, it's the polar opposite of 42nd Street, since it centers on a star begging for a part in the chorus! How different—I loved it!

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