Book by Julie Salamon. Julie Salamon decided to write a book charting the development of a film – from the moment the idea is okayed by the studio until the premiere. Using her Hollywood contacts, she managed to get to sit in on a really exciting project – a big vehicle for A-list stars, with a big director, based on one of the most popular novels of recent times.

That novel was Bonfire Of The Vanities.

From the first chapter it’s clear that the project is doomed to failure. The book charts the surreal descent into chaos, cataloguing the insanity, stupidity, greed, blindness and utter vanity that led to Brian De Palma’s Bonfire Of The Vanities being recognised as one of the worst films ever. There are several moments of hilarity, such as the obsessive second unit director who spends a week camped on the tarmac of JFK, waiting to get a three-second shot of a plane landing. And of course the wonderful part where Melanie Griffith shoots the exterior scenes and then refuses to shoot the interior scenes until she’s allowed get breast implants, which leads to some, er, inconsistencies in the actual movie.

The title comes from Hollywood slang, meaning something which is a dead cert to be a box-office smash. So The Matrix 2 is the devil's candy, for instance, while Meet Joe Black 2 isn't

ISBN: 0385308248

<insert sin or substance of your choice>

"'Frank: Those mommies were totally hitting on us.'
Burt: 'It's the devil's candy, boys. Trust me, say goodbye.'"
    - Stick It

"I once lost an angel when a bad girl was handy
I've always had a sweet tooth
For the devil's candy"

    - Gary Allen

Google the phrase. Most references on the first page or two of your hand-won search results refer to the book by Julie Salamon documenting the filming of Bonfire of the Vanities. The phrase is apparently Hollywood slang for a film bound to be a box-office success, a usage I never heard before, once again proving that E2 has enormous use in educating this simple boy from England in the slick cultural ways of the West Coast, if not the US as a whole.

Other search results talk about cocaine, crack, nicotine and even high-fructose corn syrup; in fact anything connected to a debauched and decadent lifestyle, most especially one steeped in what the speaker considers to be SIN. I hear the voices of television evangelists, past headmasters and teachers. They wax eloquent about how <insert substance/activity> will assist in your inevitable decline into doom, death, godlessness or the everlasting fires of damnation. Sooner or later you will regret your choices, usually too late to change the outcome, and you will have to watch as the dread consequences of your sybaritic ways catch up with you, leaving you a wrecked excuse for humanity, helplessly shitting yourself either literally or figuratively. Death or despair awaits you, clearly - there's the real Devil's Candy, that draws you in, eats you up and spits you out.

In my callow youth, there wasn't much I had to avoid. The world was a simpler place then, and as long as I refrained from masturbation (the consequences of which were blindness), cigarettes (cancer) and homosexuality (eternal damnation) i was going to be pretty safe. Too much television might give me square eyes (doubtful in the extreme) and too much sugar would rot my teeth (although sugar was still scarce when I was a wee lad, so this wasn't a big problem back then). As I grew up I discovered other vices, among them The Demon Drink, girls, the Internet. All of these I have, at one time or another, allowed to take precedence over my life to some degree, and I have doubtless sown the seeds of damnation in some way, either by offending some deity or sowing destructive physical seed (I have dreadful teeth, for example).

Crisp Invasion

Rather like General Jack D. Ripper in the film Dr. Strangelove, obsessing about Mankind's "precious bodily fluids", I rather have a thing about junk food. I should expand on this a little - it's not just MacDonalds-style fast food but the seemingly endless racks of over-packaged shite that I see in modern supermarkets. Two things seem to have happened in parallel. One was the development of the dread television, the other was the rise of the Marketing Department. The simple foods of yore were replaced by gaudy manufactured dross. Let me give you two examples.

At one time there were crisps (forgive me, Americans, by this I mean "potato chips"), and they came in two flavours, plain and salted; and when I say "salted", I mean that the packet of crips had a teeny twist of blue paper containing salt, that one sprinkled into the bag to suit one's taste. This led to some interesting results - the number of bags of salt varied for me between zero to (on one wonderful occasion) three. There was one boy at school who claimed to have had a packet containing nothing but bags of salt and only one crisp. He was either snubbed or lionised, depending on one's credulity.

When I was about six, the rot set in, as I noticed other flavours invading the shelves. First there was a salt and vinegar flavour, then a cheese and onion. The first insidious trickle became a flood, and the once-simple task of buying crisps became a major undertaking, as roast beef, bacon, chicken and for pity's sake, prawn cocktail flavours hit the shelves. Nowadays the yuppie revolution demands organic wine vinegar and sea salt, aged cheddar cheese and chives and goodness knows what else. I have a packet of "Builder's Breakfast" flavour somewhere lying around, a gift from a parcel of Britnoders; I haven't yet had the courage to open them.

As a result of this attack on my food and my senses, I generally avoid the snack aisle when shopping, unless specifically instructed to buy a particular thing (usually for the imp/buddah's lunch). This isn't to say that I don't enjoy the odd snack (I'm partial to beer nuts and pretzels), but I've come to believe that we are literally spoiled for choice. Spoiled by choice, too.

How do you spoil water?

Let me count the ways. In the days before there was an awareness of the germ theory of disease we'd deposit all our bodily wastes and general refuse in the rivers, and that did a pretty good, frequently deadly job of ruining perfectly good, clean water, rendering it too dangerous to drink. So much of a problem was this that many of the saintly priests of old suggested that people drink beer instead. In these enlightened days, of course, we have whole industrial plants dedicated to cleaning both the human effluent before it hits our water supplies, and the water itself before it gets to our taps. This is a great leap forward in the development of a healthy population, one to be heartily applauded. Nevertheless, we are clearly not happy with Adam's Ale in its natural state - for whatever bloody unfathomable reason, there are people who believe that water is not healthy enough.

This is the point where I fling up my hands in despair. For as if plain bottled water weren't enough of a waste of resources (many cities, in fact, have banned or restricted sales to reduce plastic waste), now the clever marketeers have developed yet another way of enhancing our food in such a way that we're overloaded with choice. I'm not talking about soda pop here, the Coca-Colonialist cans of sugar-water that pack the shelves (nor the 32-ounce servings I've seen for sale in many petrol stations around the US). I'm talking about water with hints of fruit flavour, I'm talking "Vitamin Water", with added vitamins (like we don't get enough in our breakfast cereal).

With hint-o-this and hint-o-that we're eating and drinking and generally consuming our way daily closer to filling all the available landfill, using all the available raw materials and fuel, polluting earth water and air, the precious and precarious thing that is Planet Earth. That is the real Devil's Candy.

Glowing Fish says re The Devil's Candy: The introduction of so many extra potato chip flavors has a lot to do with the spread of marijuana smoking.
Men's Health, on cocaine
Cowboy Lyrics
Article on crystal meth
Wikipedia on crisp flavours
Seattle bans bottled water
Of course, it's also a cocktail

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