aj hammer redux

Back in October, shortly after I’d arrived in Japan, I made a throwaway reference to A.J. Hammer, former video introducer to the world. (The complete reference: “P.S. A.J. Hammer, ex-VJ on VH1, now has the job of introducing movies on Northwest flights. Not sure if that’s a promotion or not.”)
For the last two months, I’ve been surprised how many people have found this site by searching for “aj hammer” at Google or elsewhere. I had no idea the man was so, um, popular.
Anyway, someone left a snippy comment on that months-old entry today:
FYI, AJ Hammer is the personality used by Northwest to introduce their features (it is not “his job”). Mr. Hammer has been on FOX TV for the past 18 months as well as “Hollywood at Large” on Court TV and NBC. Northwest is a side project much as American Airlines in-flight is a side project for the members of Good Morning America. Northwest Airlines is an industry award-winner for its in-flight entertainment.
Jon Mycka, @In Flight

Thanks, Jon Mycka, for clearing that up. I was under the mistaken impression that someone paid money to perform a task could be described as “having the job” to do so. I see now that I was mistaken: clearly he is introducing The Score to an audience of disgruntled passengers as an act of charity, his small way of contributing to the larger, grail-like cause that is Northwest In-Flight Entertainment. Perhaps a better way of phrasing it might be: “A.J. Hammer, ex-VJ on VH1, now has the honor of introducing movies on Northwest flights.”
And it was clearly inaccurate of me to suggest, however subtly, that the career of “Mr. Hammer” might have taken the proverbial eight-foot dive in a five-foot pool. You are right, Jon Mycka: he does work for Fox and Court TV.
Sure, the Fox job might not be a network job — it’s a job at WNYW, the New York Fox affiliate. And sure, his job there (if one may call it “a job”) is host of the “A.J.’s Beat” segment on WNYW’s morning show, “Good Day New York,” a job apparently so insignificant it doesn’t merit a mention on the show’s “personalities” page, or anywhere else on its site.
And yes, his Court TV gig may just be as Hollywood at Large‘s “contributing host.” Which would mean he’s not quite as big a star as the show’s “celebrity/hostWendy L. Walsh, whoever she is. I’m sure she doesn’t even get out of bed for less than $10,000; it’s natural for Mr. Hammer to accept second billing on this unwatched show behind such a tsunami-force celeb. (Ms. Walsh is apparently such a convincing ringer for a legitimate journalist that she’s played one in the movies at least five times. Who could forget her stunning turn as “Reporter Outside Courtroom” in The Cable Guy?)
I’m sure that, in sum, those are all steps up, careerwise, from hosting a bunch of big shows on a popular cable network. And you even skipped many of most noteworthy post-VH1 accomplishments, such as his role as “celebrity spokesperson for the nationwide media tour of Milton Bradley’s new Planet Hollywood: The Game.” And when I learned, from his Court TV bio, that Mr. Hammer’s “picture is featured in the coffee table book Heartthrob, A Hundred Years of Beautiful Men,” I knew that this was not a man to be trifled with. Please accept my heartfelt apologies, Jon Mycka, if I have impugned your airline, your sterling history of in-flight entertainment, or your liege, Mr. Hammer.
(Oh, and by the way: your airline sucks. Worst in America, by a fairly wide margin.)
Interesting AJ Hammer factoid: until he achieved stardom at a NYC radio station, he was known on the radio as AJ Goldberg (presumably his real name). He made the switch in October 1990. MC Hammer’s Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em was released in Feburary 1990. This likely means that AJ Hammer chose his name because he thought there was some magic in the two-initials-plus-“hammer” motif. Why he has not gone the route of his namesake (namely, bankruptcy and a name reduction to just “Hammer”) is unclear.

7 thoughts on “aj hammer redux”

  1. I hope I’m never on the wrong end of a crabwalk. I’d have to cry.
    Give ’em hell Josh. Was it the visit to Rayne that instilled all this fire and vinegar in you?

  2. Northwest the worst airline? Hmm… I don’t know. Continent is down there somewhere. Of course, I don’t live in the mid-west, so my experience with them is limited to hearing how bad they are (which, actually, isn’t that much of a limitation. I mean, they’ve got to suck to warrant all the angst they ellicit!).

  3. I’ve always liked Continental. And American’s never bothered me.
    But I spent three years living not far from their Detroit hub, and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen as much bad customer service. Business travelers seem to agree, as does this guy. And here’s a piece from Forbes (headline: “Northworst?”)
    You need to register to read it (free), but here’s the lead:
    NEW YORK – IS NORTHWEST AIRLINES trying to win some kind of dubious achievement award? The St. Paul, Minn.-based carrier has the worst on- time performance and the highest frequency of customer complaints this year among the ten major carriers, according to the Department of Transportation. Last year wasn’t much better: Northwest ranked second to worst in both categories. The airline hasn’t won any prizes for handling luggage either, with two consecutive years of performing near the bottom. Shortly after takeoff from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport last month, the tail engine cover of a Northwest Airlines DC-10 broke apart, falling onto a farmer’s field below. Okay, Northwest is probably just as safe as any other airline, but the embarrassing incident just plays into the hands of those angry Midwesterners who don’t like the service or the fares and have taken to calling the company “Northworst.” A bitter, two- week pilot strike in September not only cost the airline $630 million but also did nothing to improve its lousy reputation. Workers didn’t show up for jobs so planes would be delayed. Flights were canceled for ludicrous reasons such as a burned-out bulb on a passenger reading light.

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