Issue #23/48, September 24 - October 8, 1998

Feature Story

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Crisis Mathematics
Crime Opportunities Page


The Beatings Go On
by Mark Ames

On a Tuesday afternoon in December, 1985, Michael Bass, dressed in an elegant black and white striped prison outfit with his blow-dried black hair sweeping around a shiny patch of bald scalp, was sworn into his hearing at the Federal Court building in Los Angeles, saying that he continued to be guided by his AWOL partner, Sol Spiegler, who had fled to Israel to escape prosecution.

"Michael Bass, 28, who already was serving a two-year sentence for mail fraud in an unrelated case, pleaded guilty Friday to the 1980 electronics scheme," reads a UPI article, dated December 10th, 1985. "U.S. District Judge A. Andrew Hauk immediately sentenced Bass to two years in prison, with seven months of the sentence to be served concurrently with his current prison term. Bass also was ordered to pay a $20,000 fine and restitution estimated at more than $1 million to Sony, Samsung, Tatung, Magnavox and other electronics makers whose merchandise was sold in South America."

And so begins the roller-coaster adventures of Moscow's most colorful expat personality as he transformed from a prisoner to boxing promoter to disastrous charity organizer and finally into a live ammo human target for a washed-up '80s teen film star, before mysteriously resurfacing in Moscow. Here, he has ridden a similarly wild and dangerous roller coaster, one that seems always on the verge of tipping. He all but disappeared last year after his massive failure as ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky's PR man, and just this month, Bass made a bizarre comeback as the publisher of Moscow's newest, weirdest publication, Metropolitan. It has been a ride flush with the anguish over Sonny Bono's death, and driven by the deluded opportunities that Sonny's death might offer.


Look, don't ask us why Sonny Bono, who died last year during a high-speed game of chicken with a reckless pine tree, has anything to do with Moscow, Russia, or the economic crisis. Or why he warranted a lead in Bass's debut Moscow publication.

A rational answer assumes that we're dealing with a rational publisher working within the rules of the game, in which basic audience-considerations come into play.

Bass just doesn't fit the mold. Maybe that explains our unceasing interest-nay, our borderline admiration-for a creature so resilient to scandal and failure that he makes Clinton and Nixon look like glass-jaw amateurs, a creature who shows an uncanny ability to grow his tail and limbs back no matter how many times they get torn off.

Raging Bass

Most eXile readers know Bass as the larva-headed American who, in a best-selling book called You'll Never Make Love In This Town Again, was accused of kidnapping, beating, and trying to sell a 17-year-old American girl to a rich Arab in Paris; or as the guy who threatened eXile editor Matt Taibbi with a trip to the ice house on a pair of broken knees shortly after we reprinted that book's Bass chapter last spring; or finally, as the Zhirinovsky PR tool who appeared on our September 25th cover looking like a bloodied Conehead after he headbutted a glass of whiskey during a dangerous game of glass hacky sack with a very large Georgian man.

What you don't know is how Bass became the Basshole that he is. With the help of a Lexus-Nexus search conducted by our eXile researchers, we have been able to patch together a reliable history of Michael Bass. The information comes from articles run by nearly every leading American news organization, from The New York Times to UPI, and it reads like something between a Coen Brothers script and The National Enquirer. And yet... it's all true.

Let's return to 1985, to exciting, innocent Reagan-era America: a time of excess, greed, and Ratt.

And for Michael Bass, a time to sit in jail and think long and hard about where his mail fraud scheme went wrong.

Quoting further from the UPI article, "Bass and his alleged partner in the scheme, Sol Spiegler, 44, were indicted in May on charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, and wire fraud. Spiegler fled to Israel, where he since has been arrested and is awaiting extradition to stand trial on the charges, said Assistant U.S. Attorney David Katz.

"Katz said the two men used each other, under false names, as credit references to gain a high credit rating for their firm, United Toner Development Corp.

"They then used their good credit to order thousands of televisions and other electronics equipment through the company, he said.

"Bass and Spiegler never paid for the merchandise and shipped the stockpiled goods to Venezuela through Miami and the Caribbean island of Antigua, Katz said. Prosecutors do not know how much the sets sold for.

"Bass already was in prison for duping Western Union telex customers out of $100,000 by sending them authentic-looking bills for services they obtained from Western Union, Katz said."

Not like there wasn't a silver lining to this messy tale. According to a later UPI press release dated February 24th, 1986, Bass was shown more leniency than his buddy-in-crime for the fraud scheme.

"Sol Spiegler, 44, was extradited from Israel to New York last week and brought to Los Angeles by FBI agents. Spiegler, formerly of Beverly Hills, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge David Kenyon, who scheduled sentencing for March 24. Spiegler faces a maximum prison term of 10 years and $11,000 in fines."

Michael, however, was given a lighter sentence, reflecting the judge's hope that he could still make a positive contribution to society.

Bass slipped off the Nexus-Lexus radar screen for the next two years, much of that time spent at Lompoc Federal Penitentiary, only to reappear, Zelig-like, at the very center of America's sporting world.

It was an unprecedented coup: as if Bass stormed straight out of prison and into the tent of world lightweight boxing champ Julio Cesar Chavez, stealing him away from uber-promoter Don King.

In a November 5, 1988 Los Angeles Times article entitled "L.A. Agency Says Chavez Will Leave Don King," Michael proved that in America, people can bounce back from adversity:

"Michael Bass, who said he is a Los Angeles adviser to Chavez, said Triad will represent the boxer in commercial endorsements and entertainment opportunities, and will advise him on his boxing career.

"'Chavez is a free agent,' Bass said. 'His contract with King is not valid. He wants to be in complete charge of his career now, and he feels that under King he wasn't.'"

Michael's claim on Chavez was rooted not just in crass money-grubbing, but social justice.

"Bass, who said Triad is negotiating for a major soft-drink endorsement deal for Chavez, said the King-Chavez contract is invalid on several points.

"'Just to name one, the contract is in English,' he said. 'Julio is (only now) learning English.'"

Now as far as we're concerned, it doesn't mean caca-cita whether or not Bass spoke Spanish, or Chavez understood a word of Bass's spiel. What impressed us was this: Bass didn't take it lying down (at least not after Lompoc). No way, Jose. Instead, he went straight to the toughest, most gullible, promising cash cow, ingratiated himself, and took on the boxing industry's Darth Vader.

eXholes, the next time you feel sorry for yourself because of this financial crisis, think about how you'd feel if you had a criminal record and an aching case of hems as Bass did? Shit, you'd probably sink overnight into a welfare-grubbing, low-self-esteemed crack-head. Not Michael.

In a November 8th, 1988 New York Times article, "Chavez Has Plans to Spar With King," Bass is quoted as accusing the black boxing don of conning the Latino boxing champ out of a whopping $4,700. Now it's important to remember that multi-gillionaire Don King only considered deals in the seven or eight-figures, so the thought that he'd waste his time pinching a few thou from one of boxing's biggest stars is absurd. Not necessarily strategically wrong if you're an outcast like Bass trying to break in, but absurd in the world of facts.

Amazingly, Bass, by virtue of his quote-space in the big press, seemed to be on his way towards swiping one of the world's greatest boxers away from Don King, potentially establishing himself as a serious rival.

And then the shit hit the ventilyator. In a November 12 article in The LA Times, Earl Gustkey wrote, "Michael Bass, who spent much of last week getting the word out to boxing writers that he, and not Don King, would promote Chavez's bouts in the future, neglected to point out one item. It seems he served 13 months at the Lompoc Federal Penitentiary in 1983 and 1984, after conviction on eight counts of mail fraud."

Whoa, daddy! He's down for the count!

Most of us would have tossed in the towel and gone running to mommy. Not Michael. According to a series of articles published in both the LA and NY Times, Bass kept pressing his claim on the champion boxer's hide. In a Newsday article printed February 19th, 1989, Wallace Matthews announced Bass's retreat from the boxing promotions world. "Back in October, a wheeler-dealer named Michael Bass thought he had fallen into a gold mine. Julio Cesar Chavez, the WBA and WBC lightweight champion, he of the 62-0 record and limitless potential, had become disenchanted with promoter Don King. [...] 'I must admit, King impresses me,' Bass said. 'I'm absolutely surprised, no, startled, that he can pull this off.'" Well, we're absolutely fuck-me-with-a-copper-wire shocked that Bass could have pulled this off.

And yet, the surprises are only beginning, folks.

In an unrelated incident, our Nexus/Lexus search mistakenly fed us a UPI article dated March 27, 1989, dateline Carson City, Nevada: "The [parole] board also announced it has denied the application of Michael Bass, 25, serving a life term on murder in connection with the shooting of a milkman in Las Vegas." That, we were relieved to learn, was a different Michael Bass.


As the battle over ownership of Chavez's hide intensified, Michael diversified his portfolio. He focused on his strengths: an uncanny ability to get taken seriously by the press, to befriend washed-up Hollywood figures, a penchant for dubious charitable work, and predictably disastrous conclusions to every scheme.

Amazing at it seems, Bass next appears as the central figure in a glitzy $500-a-plate Oscar party bash in Beverly Hills. According to a March 29, 1989 LA Times piece, the fundraiser was intended to benefit a Ted Turner charity, and it drew the likes of Robert Mitchum, Milton Berle, and Berle's illegitimate son, Billy Berle, who will figure big as the Abbot to Bass's Costello, the Mumbley to Bass's Dastardly Dalton.

While Bass continued to man the flank in his war with Don King, managing for several months to be labeled by the press as Julio Cesar Chavez's "personal advisor," he advanced fearlessly on the Hollywood front.

According to a March 30th, 1990 piece in The Daily Telegraph, their Oscar party-hopping journalist wrote, "My evening ends badly with a rugger scrum at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, where the Oscar party that is supposed to rival the long-established Governors Ball is taking place-or rather not taking place; due to
appalling ill-preparation. Two small-time producers, Michael Bass and Bill Berle, have erected a $75,000 tent on Sunset Boulevard for the occasion, but neglected to obtain a permit, so guests have been redirected to a ballroom too small to accommodate all the invitees and still comply with fire regulations."

Bass's Oscar flop also figured in an AIDS charity scandal uncovered in a November 2, 1990, LA Times article, "Charity Reaches For Stars-Critics Say It Falls Short". The article details how an AIDS charity, Athletes and Entertainers, bilked hundreds of thousands of dollars out of scores of celebrities, including Elton John-money that was raised on behalf of 7-year-old AIDS poster-boy Ryan White. Little Ryan symbolized America's coming to terms with HIV as something more than just God's revenge on faggots, junkies, and the poor. Somehow Athletes and Entertainers hooked Ryan before the other charities, and held him out as money-bait. Most of the hundreds of thousands collected on Ryan's behalf mysteriously disappeared.

Guess whose name appears on the list of suspects of Ryan White's charity pickpockets? That's right: Bass again. His disastrous 1990 Oscar party was intended to raise money for the lil' tyke, but instead... well, we'll just quote for you.

"The [Athletes and Entertainers] fortunes took another dive in March of this year, when it sponsored an Academy Awards night benefit. The event drew former President and Mrs. Reagan and grossed a reported $40,000, but suffered from a series of mishaps that further damaged the charity's credibility and resulted in widespread acrimony.

"[...] People who attended the gala said several of the advertised celebrities failed to make appearances. Fire marshals subsequently shut the party down at about 11 p.m. because of severe overcrowding. [Executive Director Elise] Kim said Athletes and Entertainers had nothing to do with organizing the benefit, which was put on by Berle/Bass Productions. Co-owner Michael Bass said Kim was at least partially responsible for the event's problems. He said Athletes and Entertainers failed to follow through on its commitments to book certain entertainment and print a program, among other things.

"Bass said Milton Berle, one of the main supporters of the event in large part because of the participation of his son, Bill, was angry at the charity. "'Milton was fuming,' he said. 'They were completely irresponsible. It was not a happy occasion.'

"The event would mark White's last public appearance."

You read that last line right. Ryan White, who drew the attention and sympathies of the Reagans, Michael Jackson, Elton John, and the nation, spent the last spunky night of his squirrel-length 7-year life... at a scandal-plagued Michael Bass flop. Not only was Ryan's last party a total wash, but the proceeds intended to help nurse him to health... vanished!

Somehow, you have to admire that.

Bass In The U.S.S.R.!

The following year, things started turning real ugly-like. Bass was hit with a string of low-comedy knock-downs, which cumulated in his mysterious flight from America.

First, he conceded defeat in his battle against Don King over the rights to exploit Julio Cesar Chavez. In a January 21st, 1991 Washington Post article, Bass was forced to publicly deny that he had been physically hiding Chavez from King, saying, "How do you hide a world champion?" In fact, according to the article, he did help to hide Chavez, who eventually broke free to sign a $30 million contract. Bass threatened to file a lawsuit.

Meantime, capitalizing on his partnership with Billy Berle, Bass leveraged the old man's name to climb back up the ranks of Hollywood's food chain. Eventually, he hit on something big. Russia.

Dubbed "Toyskis For Totskys," the new Bass charity was designed to collect toys from rich celebrities, then distribute them to needy Muscovites through a Moscow-based Russian businessman named Michael Litwack. The guest list for the first "Toyskis for Totskys" charity dinner was impressive for its solid B-level names: Kirstie Alley, Jeff and Lloyd Bridges, Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, and Spago chef Wolfgang Puck. Bass was at the peak of his post-Lompoc life.

Thousands of toys were collected, and yet.... yep, you guessed it... none of them ever made it to Russia.

In typical '90s American journalism practice, so long as Bass was able to haul in an impressive list of celebs, the articles about him made no mention of his dark past. However, when a follow-up Toyskis For Totskys event devolved into Bassian scandal, reporters suddenly discovered a villain.

According to a February 13th, 1992 LA Times article by reporter Robert Welkos, Bass sent out falsified invitations to top stars bearing Jack Lemmon's name and signature. The invitations, signed by the Academy Award-winning actor (which he later vehemently denounced as fraud), asked numerous A-level stars to attend Bass's latest dinner party, which he claimed would feature none other than President Boris Yeltsin.

"But right away," Welkos wrote, "[Art] Buchwald wondered if he was being made the butt of a joke. Why would Lemmon spell the columnist's name Art Buckwald? Why was Buchwald's address wrong on the stationery?"

Since Bass is both a dyslexic and a convicted fraud, it's hardly comes as a surprise that the fake letter was full of spelling errors. But Bass made two even larger blunders.

First, "Lemmon" mentioned Paramount pictures President Brandon Tartikoff, whose studio Buchwald was suing; and secondly, why would "Lemmon" invite Buchwald to a party hosted by Eddie Murphy, whose film Coming To America was the subject of Buchwald's suit.

"'I smelled a rat there,' Buchwald recalled. 'Tartikoff had announced that he wouldn't give me $1 for my lawsuit... and I thought if Eddie Murphy was the host, he would give me a table somewhere in the back in the kitchen.'"

To his credit, Bass wasn't satisfied with mere fake Jack Lemmon letters. The idea that Boris Yeltsin, who had just taken control of the world's largest nuclear power and was fighting to implement one of the most radical national transformations in the history of man, would take the time to fly out to California to attend Michael Bass's Oscar party caused nothing short of a sensation.

"When Oscar officials called Elizabeth Taylor to see if she would attend the ceremony, the actress begged off saying she was going instead to Jack Lemmon's tribute to Boris Yeltsin. Officials were dumbstruck. A party for Boris Yeltsin?"

Besides Yeltsin and Jack Lemmon, Bass reportedly used the names of Kim Basinger and Eddie Murphy to lure other top names to his party. It backfired. Lemmon was reportedly fuming mad, while Murphy's people simply refused to acknowledge Bass's existence.

"Controversy seems to dog Bass," Welkos wrote. "He became embroiled in a dispute with promoter Don King over who controlled Chavez, and Bass said one of King's men got so angry with him after a press conference that he tried to throw him off a balcony of the Bel-Age Hotel.

"In the mid-1980s, he was convicted of mail fraud and served 3 months [sic] of an 18-month sentence in Lompoc Federal Penitentiary.

"'I certainly did time,' he said.

"Bass drives around town in a white Rolls-Royce. He lives at his parents' house ('I come from a lot of family money. My dad gives me a check each week.') and is married to a 23-year-old Russian model named Irina."

Furthermore, the article detailed how money raised at Bass charity parties had a way of disappearing. Lauren McMahon, executive director of the charity group El Rescate, entrusted Bass to throw a fund-raising party for her organization. It was a disaster that, reading back now, offers up some great comedy. "While half of the crowd consisted of people concerned with Central American political and social causes, Bass showed up with Hollywood hangers-on," the LA Times article went.

"'There were a lot of bimbos there,'" [she] said.

"Lauren McMahon, who at the time was El Rescate's executive director, said her group made $20,000 to $25,000 from the event. With 1,000 people attending at $500 a head, she said, they expected much more.

"McMahon said she discovered that one of Bass' partners had gone all over town passing out complimentary tickets and that Bass 'invited a significant number of models' to the fund-raiser."

While we can't help but salute Bass for destroying the self-esteem of a few rich, humorless, left wing womyn with his posse of bimbos, it's hard to understand how he could fuck up his hard-earned rep in a scheme so clearly doomed to blow up in his face.

The next day, The Daily Mail printed an article about the Bass-Yeltsin soiree: "The big names were all billed to attend an Oscar-night charity party on March 30, at which the Russian leader would supposedly receive a humanitarian award from Lemmon. Tickets worth L55,000 have been sold, and Elizabeth Taylor even turned down an invitation to the genuine Academy Awards ceremony to attend.

"But partygoers discovered yesterday that they may have been fooled." On Oscar night, the scam crumbled. According to The LA Times, "the [Russian] ambassador's staff was also concerned at recent news reports that one of the original promoters of the Yeltsin event - Michael Bass of Los Angeles - had served time in federal prison for mail fraud and that two nonprofit groups had complained that Bass' previous Oscar night parties failed to raise the charitable funds he promised."

When it came to party-time, instead of Yeltsin, Eddie Murphy, and Elizabeth Taylor, the "stars" in Bass's tent included Weird Al Yankovic, Sybil Danning, and Cesar Romero-the kind of depressing C-list of saggy human kitsch that only John Waters could appreciate.

The Bass Pack

Here's a nostalgia quiz for you. Who remembers the pair of pin-up brat pack wannabes known as the "Two Coreys"? Sit down, Bobby B., we know you know. Krazy Kevin is also disqualified. Anyone else?

Here's the answer: Coreys Feldman and Haim, who first made their names in the mid-80s unscary vampire hit, The Lost Boys. Later, their careers went the way of parachute pants, crashing into undignified loserdom several times over before waking up with a new roommate: Michael Bass.

In late December, 1992, it was announced that "teen heartthrob Corey Haim and Hollywood promoter/manager Michael Bass have become partners in a lease/option, Bass said, of a Hancock Park house valued in public records at about $1.35 million.

"[...] Haim's five-bedroom, nearly 7,000-square-foot home, built in 1922, will be a great place for his family, who lives in Canada, to visit, Bass said, 'but we rushed to get this deal so we could hold our 'Toyskis for Totskis' party here this year.'"

Less than two months later, tempers between the partners flared in a slapstick stick-up that got Bass's name back in the papers.

February 8, 1993

Actor Corey Haim has been charged with wielding a replica of a handgun in a threatening manner, a misdemeanor, in a dispute with his business manager, police said.

Haim, 21, was shooting at targets with his BB gun Friday at the home he and his mother share with his manager, Michael Bass. Bass called police and reported Haim was threatening him, said Tim Stinson, Haim's publicist. Stinson said Haim has tried to fire Bass, but Bass wouldn't accept the firing. Haim's friend and fellow actor Corey Feldman posted bail, police said.

In a Newsday article on the same day, Bass offered this choice quote: "'I certainly wish it never happened,' Bass says. 'It's sad to have spent so much time on [Corey's] career and then have him try to self-destruct and destroy the people around him.' Bass, however, maintains that Haim is under contract to him for another 18 months."

It was a tough break for Bass. He got tossed out of Corey's house, meaning it was back to mommy's; he threatened to sue, but didn't. But he wasn't down. In classic comeback kid style, Bass pulled himself up off the canvas, leaned on the ropes, and readied himself for another beating.

Bassadise Lost

With the collapse of the toy and AIDS charity schemes, Bass took aim at the lucrative poetry market.

Now hold on a second, it's not as crazy as it sounds. While most idiots only saw poetry as a means of artistic expression, Bass recognized in poetry a pliable Julio Cesar Chavez, a sober Corey Haim, a solvent, immortal Ryan White. And the funny thing is, Bass was right. Poetry was the big new thing for pretentious airheads in early 90's Los Angeles-all of LA county was swept up in poetry fever. And where there's excitement, there's money to be made.

"The world of Hollywood will join the world of poetry this Labor Day Weekend in San Francisco when 'The World of Poetry' hosts the largest gathering of professional poets in the world at their Eighth Annual Convention," ran a September 3rd, 1992 Business Wire. The attendees turned out to be who's-zoomin'-who list of ossified sitcom residue collectively responsible for lowering America's mean IQ by some 40 points: "Over a dozen poetry-loving personalities such as Milton Berle, Shirley Jones, Norman Fell, Bernie Koppel and Ted Lange (the doc and Isaac the bartender from Love Boat), Darin & Kathy McGavin, Gary Coleman (Different Strokes), Fred Willard (Fernwood Tonight & D.C. Follies), [...] will recite their poetry at this Michael Bass Production."

The scene is so bizarre you'd probably hiss if you saw it on film: Gary Coleman, Mr. Roper, and Mrs. Partridge squaring off in a poetry slam, MC'd by Michael Bass. But it happened. It's da truf, mang.

Still wondering why we can't let this guy alone? He's better than art!

Now, let's fast-forward to the predictable outcome of Bass's last big-time move.

"With promises of $50,000 in prizes, three days of workshops and a star-studded gala - celebrating the 85th birthday of comedian Milton Berle - the poetry convention in Beverly Hills drew would-be poets from around the country," began a July 10, 1993 article in The LA Times, "Poets Curse, Things Go From Bad To Verse."

"But the Poetry Academy gathering over the July 4th weekend also has drawn a federal inquiry amid complaints that the promoters failed to deliver the prizes, judge the poetry or even provide all the scheduled meals. The organizers, in turn, claim the convention - which cost several hundred participants up to $495 each - was undermined by infiltrators from a rival poetry group that is staging its own convention next month in Washington. "Tempers flared. Voices were raised. One poet said she was hit by another, an elderly woman, as she tried to serve box lunches brought in from a deli after a planned barbecue fell through.

"'I got punched at the Beverly Hilton Hotel by one of the poets who was so hungry,' complained Charlotte Fantry of North Bergen, N.J.

"Now the U.S. Secret Service, working with police in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, is investigating whether the organizers of the convention defrauded the poets.

"'There was never going to be $50,000 in prize money,'" said Secret Service Agent Steve Stanford, whose agency got involved because of possible credit card fraud.

"At the center of the controversy is Michael Bass, a well-known party promoter and friend of many celebrities."

Before commenting, we want to repeat one priceless line from above: "One poet said she was hit by another, an elderly woman." Okay, one last time. Drum roll, maestro! "One poet said she was hit by another, an elderly woman."

If Bass has something to offer the world, this is it: setting elderly female poets against each other in a fight to the death over lunch boxes. Only Bass could have taken man's most sacred, ancient literary art form and turned it into a geriatric Hungry Duck-style brawl ending with a Secret Service investigation into fraud and embezzlement.

After Bass's run-in with the Secret Service he disappeared from the Nexus/Lexus radar, reappearing only in a 1995 Moscow Times article about-by now, you guessed it-a disastrous Bass-sponsored party. This time, Bass brought his act to Moscow's Golden Palace casino, where he sold pricey tickets for a dinner with Diana Ross.

"When Ross failed to appear at a party held in her honor, love was the last word on anybody's lips," wrote the Times.

"Posing with a teeth-clenched smile in front of an elaborate firework display that flashed the words 'Welcome Diana Ross,' Michael Bass, who was expecting Ross' presence to promote his new casino, the 'Fashion Planet' was less than amused, threatening legal action to the tune of $5 million.

"'This is bullshit,' he said, 'There's no excuse.'"

Of course it was bullshit. That's what's so beautiful. Ross never agreed to come. There was never a deal. To this very day, our offices get calls from disgruntled eXpats who got reamed by Bass on the Diana Ross dinner.

What we love most is not just that we don't have what it takes to engage in such harebrained, low-tech schemes, preferring instead the more effete, affected world of printed word-although that's part of it.

What's most impressive about Bass is his reckless, doomed-from-the-start strategy, which often helps to raise him to the very heights of Society, and never fails to drop him back into the shit below, leaving him a bloody mess. For Bass, no move was too big, too daunting. Which is why Metropolitan, his newest trick, makes sense. Sure it has absolutely no market; sure it sucks llama shite; sure it's gonna close in failure, leaving a crater of bitterness in its wake. But for now, at least, he's back in the spotlight, and good for him. That's what he does. He's an entrepreneurial daredevil. Imagine Evel Knievel as a dyslexic publisher-pimp. Imagine this Knievel soaring hopelessly across the Columbia River every day, every year, getting the shit stomped out of him, kidnapped, threatened, bloodied, a fugitive on the run, smeared in newsprint on two continents... Heck, the real Evie's sounding pretty wussy-like in comparison, isn't he?

Now that the chips are down for most of us, the question is, will anyone have the guts to brush off failure and make an even bolder attempt for the very heights of power, sex and fame the way Michael will? Or are you going to seek the safest, most heavily-padded path down to earth, like ordinary fucking people. Say what you will about Michael, he's definitely not ordinary fucking people. Sure he's bad-good people by definition don't leave a lasting impression, and Bass has.

When this article comes out, I expect Bass to be tracking me hard, hot on my heels. Frankly, I wouldn't have thought about writing this piece if he didn't harass me last week with phone calls offering to buy our newspaper or hire me out.

No matter how violent his reaction to this piece, I'll always be amazed by this larger than life character. The Great Ryan White Swindle, the Corey Haim BB gun assault, the mud-wrestling grandma-poets... you can't buy that shit anywhere. The mind can't even invent it.

So here's to you, Michael, an eXile tribute to a truly legendary eXhole.

Gratitude to our anonymous Nexus/Lexus hound for much of the background to this story. You know who you are.