Martin Luther King Day - How Do LF.net Readers Observe It?
Khunrum writes: Lazy. I get out of bed, check my E mail, read Luke Ford.net, E mail you an observation, have another bowl of Raisin Bran and go back to bed for a nap.
Helpful writes: As a public employee I suspect that I am the only one with a paid day off. I slept in and will putter around the house and work on my class's progress reports. I wonder if the significance of MLK is being lost. When I tell my fourth graders that I was alive during the time when blacks had to ride in the back of the bus or had separate water fountains they look at me strangely. I console myself with the fact that there's been a lot of racial progress in my 40 years. Just look at Mr. Marcus.
JMT writes: Downloaded a bootleg copy of Women of Color 4 while waiting for Mr. Davis to call regarding Super Bowl tickets.
PS - Now that thousands, or at least a couple dozens, of marginally employed writers and show business hangers-on are reading the site, how much longer are you going to wait before you "drop" all of your old Advisory Committee friends?
Tiffany Stone Blazes The Way
A bright interesting writer, Tiffany Stone blazes new trails on www.moviepoopshoot.com. The week after she did "Day in the Life of a Script Reader," Pete Dewolfe did the same thing on the site from a Screenwriter's perspective. Then Tiffany did a "Gone Hollywood" list and the next day Patrick Storck's "Gone Indie" list was posted. To add insult to injury, the editor posted reader's emails praising these copy-cats.
I Get Links
My link from Instapundit doubled my traffic Sunday to 1700 hits and on Monday to 2600. I've received more hits from my Cathy Seipp stuff than anything else I've published on lukeford.net. And they've come from the journalistic elite.
Matt Welch wrote: "Interesting Layne E-mail to Luke Ford…. : Who has, in many respects, the best L.A. media site going."
Marc W. replied to Matt: Now, if Luke started posting *my* emails to him, your opinion wouldn't be so favorable, trust me ...
LaExaminer.com wrote: "Online scribe Ford, who is becoming the go-to guy for profiles of hard-nosed female LA reporters, turns his one-of-a-kind gaze onto LA Weekly entertainment-biz reporter Nikki Finke today."
XXX reports on the Golden Globes: "Brother" is a gay term for former lover. Is that what is going on in the Nicholas Cage - Richard Gere thing?
David Poland replies: Cage played Gere's younger brother in The Cotton Club.... XXX is an ignorant gutter-mind going for the cheapest answers.
Cecile du Bois writes: In response to David Poland, he is completely right, XXX just wants the attention as an excuse to express himself through foul language that, in some circumstances, not even a rapper like Eminem could even express, although I must say, Eminem is much smarter than XXX when it comes to cleverness and etc. Richard Gere is not gay. He is just not dandy and "out there" like when Pierce Brosnan called for a horizontal scene with Halle Berry. Gere is at least 50, has a sense of family, whereas such actors like Brosnan and Di Caprio don't, but they're still great actors.
Amalek on the Road to Damascus
Chaim Amalek writes from the upper West Side in Manhattan: Driven by impulses both base and sublime, I continued my quest to find a new spiritual home today. In the past, I have examined various belief systems to replace the failed world of Judaism, including Bolshevism, Breatharianism, and Black Israelitism (but they didn't want me). Today, looking for the right Christian community to join, I attended church services at my local Unitarian Universalist congregation.
First, the good news. The services were short, about 75 minutes long, and entirely in english. And the music was way better than anything you are apt to hear in any shul, too. The pews were full, at about 80% capacity, which is vastly higher than you will see in the average jewish temple. And (notwithstanding all the P.C. babble, more about which later), there were almost no shvartzes about, which meant that all the good white liberals like me in attendance could feel safe and warm and secure in our moral superiority.
But not all the news was good. Although there were lots of women there, I didn't see any of the slutty types you see from time to time in reform and conservative jewish temples, scratching their crotches. But I could be wrong on that, and will withold judgement for now.
On the spiritual front, there simply wasn't any. Almost no mention of God, heaven, hell, retribution, killing one's enemies, sexual sin or even the intimation of the existence of lust. A quick perusal of their prayer book suggested the expurgation of God from their liturgy (their 23rd Psalm begins "You are my shephard", which doesn't quite have the kick of "The Lord is my shephard"). And the women looked frigid. I swear, I think you would need a blow-torch to thaw some of them out.
Finally, and most disturbing, I was amazed at how nakedly political the whole thing was. This is just before the holiday set aside to mark the birth of Martin Luther King Jr., so I appreciate that the issue of race would be mentioned. But that was not enough for these people. Nooooooo, they had to drone on and on about the duty of liberals, the wonders of multiculturalism, and basically the entire liberal left platform, from affirmative action to Fair Play for Iraq. This seemed more like a meeting of the democratic party, circa 1972, than an opportunity for people to get close to the Lord. I found more spirituality in a viewing of "Lord of the Rings" than I got here.
But some of the women there were cute, and there is something really stimulating about the likes of me being amongst the likes of them, so perhaps I will go to a few more of their meetings to see what develops. Perhaps like Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus, I will change.
PS If there are any God-fearing Christians among the Hollywood readers of Lukeford.net - which I doubt - please provide me with suggestions as to which Church to try next.
Andrew writes: Why doesn’t Chaim try a messianic Jewish congregation? I’m not talking about the Jews for Jesus-types, I’m talking about the kind who are thoroughly Jewish—they keep Torah, Shabbat, kosher, etc.—but believe Yeshua is the Meshiach. Of course, if you saw Yeshua or Shaul (Paul) back in the first century of the modern era, they’d look exactly like Orthodox Jews to you, so the messianic movement shouldn’t be too surprising. After all, Christianity was originally considered just another sect of Judaism (like the Zealots, the Essenes, the Sadducees, or the Pharisees), and it’s the gentiles who, after Constantine, twisted Christianity to be Jew-excluding and anti-Semitic. I suggest reading David H. Stern, author/translator of The Jewish New Testament, Complete Jewish Bible, Messianic Jewish Manifesto, and perhaps most interestingly, Surfing Guide to Southern California.
Khunrum writes: I suggest Chaim check out the Pentecostal Church. I really don't know too much about them except the women never cut their hair. The congregation "talks in tongues" when the spirit enters their bodies. They babble incoherently, writhe on the floor, (drool leaking out of their mouths), doing the horizontal hully gully. If nothing else our boy might get some aerobic exercise whilst he prays. Most Pentecostals I've met were dimwitted individuals incapable of much original thought. Hey, the idea is not spiritual fulfillment but to find Chaim some of that excellent Christian --------. I say it is worth a try. Go with God Chaim. He might get you ----.
Win writes: Check out Jack Hayford's Church of the Way in Van Nuys. How about New Ground in West Hollywood. Barry Taylor is a talented musician, painter and teacher who is the leader of the creative team behind New Ground, an alternative worship gathering in Los Angeles, CA. Barry is also an adjunct professor on popular culture and theology for Fuller Theological Seminary. How about Dr. Fred K.C. Price at Crenshaw Christian Centre - faithdome.org. Check out this site at Fuller, fuller.edu.
Richard Riordan Mocks Up Weekly Tabloid
LaExaminer.com reports: The LA Business Journal today breaks news about the long-awaited Richard Riordan newspaper project: It will be a free weekly tabloid, it will be called the Los Angeles Examiner, a 50-page mockup issue is scheduled to be printed next week, and the target start-up is this summer (early June, actually). "Contributors to the prototype include comedian Billy Crystal, producer Lynda Obst and former New Times Los Angeles columnist Jill Stewart, said Tim DeRoche, a former Riordan aide who is heading up the project," the LABJ reported. There are quotes from DeRoche, Riordan, Ken Layne, and several industry analysts. As for the site you are reading, "It is not clear what will happen to the LAExaminer.com Web site, which Layne founded with Matt Welch, also a member of The Examiner's editorial staff. 'Most likely we will continue LAExaminer.com for what it is,' Layne said."
Ken Layne wrote me 1/1/03: Besides being a terrific writer and one of the smartest, funniest people I know, Cathy [Seipp] is a fantastic schemer. She and Amy Alkon pretty much decided to elevate Welch and me from nobody Web writers to LA media fixtures.
Let me explain: We started LAExaminer.com long before anyone around town knew who we were. I mean, we had some friends at the LA Daily News and LA Business Journal and we knew Bob Scheer (his son worked with us in Prague), and Bob got us hired at USC's Online Journalism Review. (All three of us were eventually pushed out.) I had a bit of a cult readership from Tabloid.net (97-99) and had plenty of solid journalism experience, but nothing sexy. When you're a free-lancer in LA, you can go years without knowing people in your trade. You work at home, you don't necessarily hang out with media people. Everything's phone and e-mail.
Cathy and Amy pulled some sort of coup at the LA Press Club. They started these monthly parties a few years back, and I suppose the intent was to get free-lancers out of the house and get staffers to actually socialize instead of racing home to Thousand Oaks or wherever when the work day ended. I don't know how Cathy found us. Probably googling herself. Like most writers, she's likes to read about herself online. So we got invited to these things, LA Examiner got more notice, then Sept. 11 happened and Welch & I sort of stormed the market with our individual sites. (Andrew Sullivan called us "previous unknowns" or something in a Times of London piece. We're like, "Previous unknown to *you,* ya damned snob.")
Suddenly, we're semi-famous. James Wolcott of Vanity Fair wrote this crazy thing for Business 2.0 on Web logs, and half the piece was about me and Welch and how L.A. was a hotbed of blogging. Mark Steyn quotes us, John Leo mentions us, James Lileks and Virginia Postrel hype us on their sites, Nick Denton writes about us in the Guardian, I get a column on FoxNews.com, Welch gets a National Post column, and this sort of scene creates itself. (Glenn Reynolds is a huge factor here. Like Cathy, he knows everybody everywhere, and he's a very smart and generous guy.) It was great, because it finally felt like we were breaking down the Ivy League Curtain. You know, we work our asses off, and we're always broke and maybe we got a link on Romenesko every six months. It wears you down. So it was terrific fun to get some notice and be part of this gang of online troublemakers.
(Weirdly, when people finally noticed our work, they were mostly conservatives or libertarians. I always thought I was a liberal -- an old-school anti-communist pro-civil-rights liberal. Turns out most people consider me a neo-con or libertarian. Who woulda thunk it? I believe Cathy is somehow responsible for this, too.)
But in L.A., it's silent. Because of LAExaminer.com, the LAT wouldn't touch us, even though they're very aware of us. (Cathy would later prove this by interviewing LAT features editor John Montorio, who admitted he reads me, Welch and L.A. Examiner. And when the LAT finally did a blogging feature, a year after the important papers had covered it to death, not a single L.A. blog was featured. The story did, however, talk a lot about USC's Online Journalism Review, where we were the star writers before being dumped in September 2001. Incredible.) The rest of the L.A. media is just clueless.
She had already started inviting us to these press parties, and early last year she and Amy forced the issue by throwing a whole party for the L.A. blogging people. They even let me pick the place: Casita del Campo, two blocks from my house. (You were at that party, if I recall. I was drunk out of my skull.) And meanwhile she's writing this epic for the American Journalism Review on the blogging phenomenon ("Online Uprising"). It's still the best story on the subject.
Magically, between the planning of this party and the actual event, Dick Riordan calls us. (He was actually at the Casita party for a couple hours, before the crowd appeared.) He wants to start a paper, and for some reason he wants us involved. New Times had just broken the local-media silence with a very nice story by Tony Ortega, and Riordan had just lost the primary. I don't know this for sure, but I'm betting Cathy convinced Rick Barrs to assign that story.
We work with Riordan for months, and it finally becomes apparent he's not going to make any decision in the foreseeable future. I'm broke as usual. Cathy finds out Barrs is looking for a new managing editor (Jack Cheevers was moving to the San Francisco paper) and a staff writer. She sells Barrs on the idea of hiring me and Welch. I exchange some e-mails with Barrs and give him a year commitment, and it looks like I'm going to have a job at the one L.A. paper I respect. Fantastic. That night, New Times exec Mike Lacey comes to town and fires everybody and shuts down the paper. (Tony Ortega told me he thought the meeting would include an announcement that I was joining the staff. Ho ho!)
Back to zero. But Riordan was now being encouraged to fill the market hole by finally get this paper going -- by various people, including some of his friends from New Times LA. And I got the call to come to work on this thing. And now we're finishing up the long-promised prototype, and of course the first writer on my list was Cathy. You see, L.A. Examiner was directly inspired by her LAT-bashing column in Buzz Magazine. A lot of people think we were inspired by Romenesko or SmarterTimes or whatever. I like those sites, but what I really wanted was a replacement for the Buzz media column.
In your interview with Cathy's ex, there is talk of her manipulation skills. In my experience, it is the most benevolent manipulation. I wouldn't want to be on her bad side, but I don't really think that's possible. We've never even discussed politics. If you're not a pompous fraud and your world view is flexible enough to accommodate reality, you won't get any trouble from Seipp.
The biggest crime is that she isn't writing a local column. I hope to fix that situation.
Why Are My Motives So Impure?
Why can't I be like David "Hot Butt" Poland, and write simply out of a love of film and a desire to help people and promote excellence?
Why am I not devoted to good journalism like David Shaw and Tim Rutten?
Why don't I break big stories like Anita Busch?
Why do I come from such a nasty, angry, hate-filled place?
Why am I so insecure?
Why do I get joy out of hurting people?
Why do I look at shicksas as sexual objects? Why do I use a derogatory term like shicksa?
[JRob writes: By defining yourself as an orthodox jew, shicksas become automatically "forbidden" and "taboo." Hence, their appeal. The obvious solution is to not limit yourself to arbitrarily erected barriers of religiously mandated proper behavior in order to appease your imaginary friend. Then, you'll either just enjoy being attracted to shicksas, or they will lose their appeal because they are no longer forbidden.]
Why am I endlessly replaying the humiliations of grade school and trying to gain revenge on the cool people?
Why did I use my first book as an excuse to explore my deepest darkest desires?
Why do I promote Stephen Fried's book as a way of getting back at righteous rabbis who correctly booted me out of their shuls?
[JRob wites: Your being booted out was only correct according to their narrow, biased, and intolerant viewpoint. You view yourself as a moral man with a desire to be among them, and they disagreed with your morals. In the end (and deep down) you disagree with their assessment of you, and feel a need to cause them to feel discarded and rejected as well. You pass by the obvious solution of finding a religious community that matches your psyche. Or, better yet, just dumping the religious nonsense altogether and living a rational, reasonable life.]
Is not my constant bashing of homosexuals a blatant give-away about my own demons?
[JRob writes: No. Everybody is funny, silly, and weird in one way or another. Gays are strange ducks as a group. So are heterosexuals. Don't give into political correctness. Homosexuals do weird, funny things and remarking upon them is only natural to anyone with a sense of humor or irony.]
Why do I make so many insensitive racial remarks? Is it my white convict heritage? My own insecurity of coming from slave stock? My guilt at what my people did to the aboriginees?
[JRob writes: No. Jesus Howard Christ, quit over-analyzing! See above, but replace "gay" and "homosexual" with whatever race you're talking about. EVERYBODY JUST QUIT WHINING AND JUST START LAUGHING TOGETHER.]
I was a struggling actor 1994-95. During those struggling auditioning years, I vowed I'd write a book on producers, on all those powerful people who wouldn't hire me as an actor.
Unable to play nice with others, I returned to writing in the fall of 1995. Six years later, I began in earnest my book on producers.
Problem is, I find most producers I interview boring.
During the process of researching and writing about producers, I've found myself more interested in the entertainment journalists and other writers I've met along my way. I joined the LA Press Club nine months ago (due to Jill Stewart's urging) which has been good for my social life. I tend to be a recluse.
Anyway, over the past six months, I've had a lot of fun writing about writers. I find I enjoy it more than interviewing producers, let alone directors/actors/agents/politicians/athletes.
So that's where I'm been going with this site.
I've found most journalists, like most producers, don't answer my requests for interviews, so I decided I will just start accumulating info on them and publishing it on my site, and eventually they will get in touch with me and we'll work things out. Some of them I'll become friendly with, and some of them will scream and threaten lawyers...
So I'm bumbling along, singing a song, and that's how I got to meet you. I hope that doesn't sound stalkerish or creepy or blackmailish. But I'm developed friendships and working relationships with other journos and they read my site and keep me in line if I'm wrong or cruel.
Yeah, many people are scared to death of me, or imagine I am some huge ogre, when really I'm just an insecure attention addict who can be had for the equivalent of a 10c cup of coffee. I enjoy, too much, infuriating people. I'm afraid the Oscars and most of the entertainment industry bore me to tears, I'm not cut out for writing about it like David Poland, Jeff Wells, Harry Knowles and company do. I don't care about movies, and certainly not TV. I care about smart people who can express themselves.
May God bless you in all of your legitimate endeavors. Remember, there is a lifeguard on duty.
If You're Gay, UJ
I found that nugget in the latest cover story of the Jewish Journal by Religion Editor Julie Gruenbaum Fax. She writes about the Conservative movement's split over ordaining avowed homosexuals. Fax doesn't quote any Conservative rabbis who speak out forcefully against the Biblical sin.
The leaders of the movement to accept homosexuality are at the University of Judaism, Rabbis Elliot Dorff and Bradley Shavit Artson.
Fax writes: "UJ has developed a reputation as the school to go to if one is either gay or cares deeply about such issues."
From my time at UJ, seeing female rabbinical students wearing pants, kipot [male head coverings], tefillin and tzitzit, I can attest there's a strong lesbian atmosphere (not that there's anything wrong with that).
The article lists off the sad stories of various lesbian Conservative rabbis like Benay Lappe and J.B. Sacks-Rosen who've been oppressed by the unfeeling patriarchy of traditional Conservative Judaism.
"If anybody wants to go to school at JTS [Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, the main place where Conservative rabbis are made], they have to live very closeted lives that are very self-demeaning," said Rabbi J.B. Sacks-Rosen, one of only a few openly gay Conservative rabbis... "Those who don't want to live in those terrible ways go to L.A., where everyone knows who is gay but officially won't admit to it."
One Southern California rabbi, “Rabbi C,” who said she realized she was a lesbian in her last year of the ordination program at UJ, was able to graduate UJ.
“There was enormous struggle and enormous tension, because there was this sense that being a rabbi is about acting with integrity and I found myself in a place where I wasn’t supposed to be, where by the rules they didn’t want to ordain me, and yet I had already invested years of my life, not to mention thousands of dollars in this, and I loved it and I was good at it,” she said.
She told numerous colleagues and faculty members, but officially kept the information from the dean until after ordination. During the job interview process, she also kept the information quiet, but she did tell the head rabbi where she was hired before she started work. He suggested that she let the congregants get to know her before she revealed herself.
“It’s a soul-deadening experience to live your life in the closet, especially when you are trying to do spiritual work,” she said. “When you are constantly editing yourself, withholding pieces of your core identity and who you are, you are building a wall around your heart.”
Another Conservative Rabbi Complains About Author Stephen Fried's New Book
In an otherwise complimentary review, Rabbi Gerald L. Zelizer of Conservative Congregation Neve Shalom, in Metuchen, New Jersey, writes in the 12/30/02 Jerusalem Report magazine:
Fried's attempt to tell this story might have made an important contribution to the literature about rabbis and congregations. Unfortunately, his book is so encumbered by raw gossip and the unnecessary disclosure of confidential details about Wolpes possible successors and colleagues, that the author sabotages his worthwhile objectives.
Was it necessary, for example, to use the name of one leading candidate, who declined the job because Har Zion brought painful reminders to his wife of her late fathers congregation, which treated her mother callously after her fathers sudden death? What was gained by naming another rabbi dismissed from his congregation, who began a period of study and reflection, in order to be a more effective pulpit presenter--and who never even applied for the Har Zion position? Or another who left a large West Coast synagogue because he became involved with a congregant while still married to his estranged wife? (None of these rabbis signed waivers to allow the publication of this confidential information, all say they were embarrassed, and one even objected to the author.)
In contrast, when describing the bar mitzvah of the child of a synagogue macher, an event that was sullied by an ugly public divorce, Fried utilizes pseudonyms in order to protect reputations. Why wasnt a similar courtesy extended to the many rabbis whom he depicted? This degree of raw tale-bearing would have been better placed in the gossip columns of the New York Post or Yediot Aharonot.
Luke asks: Since when do writers need to get permission from their subjects to reveal unfavorable personal information?
Cecile du Bois writes: He is very ambitious, of what I have heard and I certainly think so too. He came from New York with little knowledge of Hollywood, married, had two kids (who are a bit sheltered in my opinion) and directed the critically acclaimed The Contender. I saw him at Christmas parties, and in my mind I can see him no differently than Colin Firth (at a Christmas party wearing a thick green sweater with a reindeer) in Bridget Jones Diary. But that is only a cloudy memory, and Rod is a good guy although I have not seen any movies under his name since The Contender yet, or any big movies. Since Lurie was Mother's friend, I have always been interested in him. I wished to see his movie, but of course since I was only nine or ten at the time and Lurie himself strongly advised my mother not to take me to see it, I never got the chance. But now as I look back, no offense Rod, there are other movies I would rather see, although his movie has to be good. I think if Rod lessened up on his kids from the last time I saw him, and had more focus towards directing another feature, he would have greater success, just a thought.
Maybe Rod Lurie's Kids Aren't Too Sheltered?
Cathy Seipp writes: Miss du Bois might consider that Rod Lurie's very charming children are a few years younger than she is, and naturally require more supervision. So I would not necessarily say they are "too sheltered," even if they're not familiar with Buffy or the National Review etc. Naturally it's frustrating when adults burst in when you're (for instance) regaling assorted wide-eyed tots with a particularly grisly Christmas ghost story, but a sense of perspective is always good to keep in mind.
Cecile du Bois replies: In response to Cathy Seipp: She is absolutely right. I either drank too much vodka, or someone blew air into my head, sorry Rod. Mom, you're right.
A Pleasant Chat With Jim Goad
Jim: "What happened to her?"
Luke: "I believe she got married."
Jim: "I had letters from her. I wrote her that I had a dream about her that she was really homely but it didn't matter. I never heard from her after that.
"She used to go out with this really Frankenstinian character up here, Steve Schultz. He looks closer to the Frankenstein monster than any human being I've ever come across. He's an insufferable anarchist book-peddler."
Luke: "I was in Oregon in September 2001 for the first time in my life and I loved it."
Jim: "Every major calamity that has ever befallen me has happened here but it's still eminently livable."
Luke: "It's beautiful."
Jim: "Yeah. It's been the Bermuda Triangle for me but otherwise... I've lived in Oregon for nine years. Two years [in prison] in Salem and the rest in Portland."
Luke: "The state seems overwhelmingly white."
Jim: "Portland is the whitest metropolitan area in the United States."
Luke: "I hear it was voted the number one city in the country to raise kids."
Jim: "Well, raise white kids, I guess."
Luke: "I didn't see graffiti or filth."
Jim: "There's none of that. The place I worked was in the most urban part of Portland [and it was clean]... I'm a big aficionado of bad slums. There's nothing on the West Coast that compares to Portland. We're sheltered.
"I think the state was founded by the Ku Klux Klan shortly after the Civil War . It was an all-white state when it started.
"I was physically attacked by anti-Nazi skinheads for wearing an iron cross [German fascist symbol with ancient roots]. That's where the action is - the radical violent anti-racists. They're called SHARPs - Skin Heads Against Racial Prejudice. They argue that the skinhead movement was founded in the late sixties in England by a black guy. I don't care whether it was or not. An asshole is an asshole. These guys attacked me and they wound up getting more than they bargained for."
Luke: "When was this?"
Jim: "I'm not going to get specific about it. I don't want to alert the authorities."
Luke: "Do you get in many fights still?"
Jim: "Not really. I have a reputation of being a loose cannon and a bit nuts and people don't want to disturb that. It's been years since I hit anyone first. I went to prison [for two years for beating his girlfriend Anne to a pulp while his wife Debbie was dying of cancer] for hitting back."
Luke: "Why were you wearing an iron cross?"
Jim: "Maybe it resonates with something in my genetic memory. I like the way it looks. When they said, 'What's with the iron cross?' I said, 'It's a white thing, why don't you hit me.'"
Luke: "Were they white guys?"
Jim: "Of course. The whitest of the white. Apparently they have one black member somewhere that they like to trot to parties to prove that they are not racist.
"It baffled me because I'm there bleeding and arguing with them about grammar. 'I don't know why you had to attack me. Why don't you debate me? I'll spot any of you 40 IQ points and still out-argue you.' They replied, 'Hey dumbass, 'out-argue' is not a word.' I screamed, 'It's a hyphenate,' with blood streaming down my face."
Luke: "Do you have other Nazi paraphernalia that you are into?"
Jim: "I wouldn't classify an iron cross as Nazi paraphernalia. Apparently it has a history like a swastika, which is an ancient Sanskrit symbol. I don't know much about [the iron cross] except that I like the way it looks and that it shows I suffer no guilt for being of European extraction."
Luke: "Would you ever insult someone simply on the basis of their race?"
Jim: "They give you so many reasons to insult them otherwise you never really have to get to that point. I tend not to hold accidents of birth against people. I am much more attuned to willful decisions people make than skin color or genitalia. How do they deal with you one on one? How ethical are they?
"I laugh at how prisoners scapegoat sex offenders, particularly child molesters. A significant proportion of those guys [convicted for sex crimes] have done nothing. I was with a guy in the kitchen, cutting carrots to prepare the veggie trays. He'd been there for nine years. He was a convicted child molester. He said he was going home after nine years. My ex-wife's sister finally came forward and said my ex-wife had made it all up to get back at me for a bitter divorce. The girl who put me in prison [Anne Ryan] accused me of rape three weeks before all this went down. She used to beg me to rape her. I'm the guy who did the rape issue of Answer Me. No one would've believed me. I could've gone away for eight years on that alone."
Jim Goad writes alt.recovery.catholicism 12/19/02: "Although I went to Catholic school for 12 years, I'm new to this group... I've been assigned a feature article for a national magazine [Hustler] on the subject of sexually abusive nuns. Any stories, comments, and leads would be greatly appreciated. If you don't want to post publicly, feel free to e-mail me."
Theresa Reed responds: " Hi, Jim. How nice of you to visit."
Jim replies: "You mean you're STILL recovering? Sheesh! Sorry about firing you from that writing gig. And sorry you never got that job at that national mag I'm writing for now."
Theresa responds: "Don't be [sorry]. Besides, I'm not sure canceling a column is the same as "firing" someone. Which job was that? Didn't realize I was ever trying to get a job with Hustler."
Luke: "Do you know about porn's trade magazine, Adult Video News?"
Jim: "I know about them. One of the writers in the stable that I inherited at Exotic Magazine writes video reviews for them and she's real proud of it."
Luke: "Sounds like Theresa Reed aka Darklady [who weighs about 250 pounds]."
Jim: "She casts a giant shadow wherever she walks. I toyed with all the writers I inherited and fired them one at a time and then wrote about firing them and why I fired them. She was the primary architect of this whole sex-positive literary movement up here. I've never understood why you have to be positive about sex. I think you're programmed to enjoy it. After I fired her, I wrote that I was not sex-negative, just negative about sex with Darklady.
"A local competitor hired her to write a response piece. I haven't seen that. I got some cordial emails from her recently, which baffled me. She's an obsessive type. If you slight her, she'll never forget about it. "Her claim to fame is that she once had lunch with Larry Flynt and that she was unbearable to deal with after that. That she was telling everybody how lucky they were to have her there when she could just go off and work for Flynt. Apparently he never offered her a job.
"Sex for cash is inherently dishonest. People have to pretend. Once you put money into it, the laws of natural attraction are gone. I understand that it exists for people who have no skills and they need a paycheck. It's all the window-dressing and the dummying it up with perfume that I find nauseating. "I'm speaking as the person who did the rape issue of [the zine] Answer Me and went to prison for domestic violence and has been blamed for White House shootings and neo-Nazi suicides, but I felt so much above [the sex industry] all that. It was just so tacky and dumb and shallow. After a certain point in adolescence, consuming pornography is really sad.
"It baffled me how people [in the sex industry] would come close to killing one another, then if they could find a common enemy, they'd patch up everything. I'd never seen that happen in any other kind of sub-community. I just wondered how they could sleep at night knowing that everyone around them could not be trusted. It takes a certain breed and I am not that breed.
"We had a guy, John Voge, who jumped ship for another clone stripclub guide that came into town with a lot of money. He was so cut out for the industry. He was insanely shallow, vain, and really thought Portland needed another queen of tattooed strippers every year. He had a lot of rock star pretensions. I wanted to call him John Bon Jovi."
Luke: "I've read you have a fetish for Jewish girls. What's up with that?"
Jim: "Oh yeah. This goes back to the seventies when I would salivate over Carol Kane [Andy Kaufman's bushy-haired wife on Taxi] or Madeline Kahn. I can't explain my fetish."
Luke: "How do you feel about Jews as a people?"
Jim: "You've got to love the Jews. As I said in The Redneck Manifesto, 'I'm no fan of white supremacy. Everyone knows the chinks and the Jews are superior.' You've got to love any tribe that consistently outpaces whitey by 15-points on standardized IQ tests."
Luke: "Normally people hate people who excel them."
Jim: "I try to let it rub off. Jealousy is one of the lowest things humans are capable of. I admire the Jews and the chinks. It trips people up because it's a racist notion but it's not a supremacist notion so they are not sure what to make of it. I don't believe in equality but I don't believe my group is the best."
Luke: "Do you believe in the book The Bell Curve and its intelligence rankings for different races?"
Jim: "I've never seen anything that adequately refutes it. From my experience, Asians and Jews are amazing. I did an article for Playboy about 13 years ago about Vietnamese gangs in Orange County. Wow. I knew that I would never be able to put a raft out of popsicle sticks together and go over there and have a Lexus within two years.
"It makes sense that leaders would foment the idea that people are equal because it quells unrest. If they just came out with genetic spreadsheets that quantify genetic inequities there'd be rioting in the streets.
"Apparently blacks in America have a higher standard of living than blacks anywhere on the planet, which doesn't bode well for any argument that they are kept down here."
Luke: "Do you think the average black is as intelligent as the average white?"
Jim: "No. I'm sure there are exceptions. I'm sure there are blacks who are smarter than I am. I think there's mountains of anecdotal and quasi-scientific evidence out there that would bolster that view."
Luke: "How do you feel about the horde of Mexicans crossing the border?"
Jim laughs. "A horde of Mexicans? You can approach that from a number of angles. Do they have aboriginal rights to most of the South West [United States]? Probably if you believe in aboriginal rights. I'm sure employers of unskilled labor are happy about it. I think the United States is becoming increasingly balkanized and I doubt there will be a United States in 50 years.
"Nations tend to come together and stay together based on ideas and the ideas are almost always farcical, but they need strong ideas to keep them together. I don't think America has an identity at this point. I think increased percentages of nonwhite Europeans, or of populations that weren't here 50 years ago, is going to complicate matters. I can't see how it would help. A lot of people who champion such things live in all-white neighborhoods and don't have to deal with the underside of such a phenomenon.
"I noted in The Redneck Manifesto that the neighborhood I lived in Portland, which is the white-trashiest neighborhood in the entire city, is the only place you will see whites and blacks together in bars. "I said in an interview that I used to dislike Mexicans but in prison I came to respect their solidarity and views on women. That's always the biggest joke - when the white male gets nailed for misogyny, do you have any working knowledge of any other culture on the planet? Name one that is less misogynic than white males. The Asians, blacks, Hispanics are atrocious if you find such things atrocious."
Luke: "Do you think different ethnic groups can ever live together in peace?"
Jim: "Did they in [ancient] Rome? One of the reasons I split with leftism. They encouraged us not to deny sexual instincts, which I agree with. But to my dismay, leftists deny that people are tribal. That's hard-wired into them. Even at the height of my PCness, and I'd be watching a basketball game, and feel a surge when the white guy made a basket, in spite of my better wishes. I think everyone is that way. A lot of the problems these days are because whites are denied any identity except a guilt rap.
"I remember being in Berlin in 1985 at a youth hostel and seeing this painting on a wall of Dresden. There were two women. One was starting a 'Sieg Heil' [Nazi salute] and the other one was rushing over to stop her. I wondered what the painter was trying to say with that. From what I gather, Germany was humiliated after World War I and denied any identity and along came Hitler. I'm concerned what will happen when white people in America decide they don't really need to feel guilty any more. I think the sort of identity that will come will be frightening.
"More than any one incident, it was interviewing Tom Metzger, leader of the White Aryan Resistance in the late eighties, when I was as pro-black as they come... I said to him, 'You're not big on equality.' He said, 'No, and neither is anyone in power. When they say all men are created equal, I laugh, because no one in power believes that.' That shifted everything. Someone who I did not expect to be enlightened about anything completely altered my view of reality.
"If you look at who's spreading racial tolerance, it's the Ford Foundation, all these billionaires. They feel superior to everyone. What vested interest would they have? To keep a placid cooperative workpool?
"Asians and Jews tend to be the most exclusive and to frown the most on intermarriage. They don't seem to be floundering.
"Probably my next big project is an encyclopedia of race. I may have entirely different views after I research everything I'm curious about."
Luke: "Are you still shut out of mainstream journalism opportunities?"
Jim: "I don't know. I guess. I've never really aspired for that kind of acceptance. The Redneck Manifesto got published by accident. A black guy, Darius James, was a fan of mine who heard I was writing an essay, 'White Niggers Have Feelings Too'. He encouraged me to turn it into a book proposal, which I did. I did had a two-book deal with Simon & Schuster and walked away from the second book.
"The contract said the first book would be Redneck Manifesto and the second book would be a graphics-intensive encyclopedia of white trash. When I gave them my outline for Redneck Manifesto, the last chapter was about going into the backwoods for a few weeks and getting oral testimony from all the bubbas and unsung peckerwoods. My editor said he liked that idea enough to make it into the second book. So I poured all my white trash research into the first one. Then the time came around to talk about the second book. They wanted the encyclopedia. I said I'd said everything I wanted to say about white trash in the first book. I proposed a racial encyclopedia, which they shot down. I proposed a novel about a cop in Beaverton, Oregon, who's driven insane by the fact that there's no crime there. They shot that down. So I walked.
"I realize I sound self-righteous. It's one of those character-traits that I wish I didn't have. But there's this retarded obeying-the-muse thing that seems to do me more harm than good. I can't really write something that I am not sincere about."
Luke: "Have you ever taken psychotherapy?"
Jim: "They threw shrinks at me from early on. I think a lot of therapists get into it for kinky reasons. They like the power they have over their patients. I'm definitely morally opposed to psycho-pharmaceuticals. I tend to agree with [Unabomber] Ted Kazinski that they make you tolerate situations that billions of years of evolution have wired you to be intolerant of.
"I've rarely found a therapist who I thought was as bright as I am. It bears all the trapping of a folk religion. They are priests. I'm suspicious of placing that much power into someone else's hands. I found one or two that were insightful but either I beat up my landlord and had to move out of New York or some other situation where I stopped seeing them.
"Instinctually, a child seeks to please his parents. By being self-destructive, I took a lot of heat off my parents. They didn't know what to do with me. I was a lot smarter than they were. Dad was a plumber and Mom was a housewife. If I had risen above that, it would've shamed them."
Luke: "Have you soured on marriage?"
Jim: "Debbie [Jim's late wife] was the girl I loved. Seeing her dying devastated me. Part of my mind cracked and plunged head long into sick behavior. I've been with a Jewish girl the past nine months that I'm fond of. She's eleven years younger. They're all younger.
"When I first got out of prison, I started raiding this bitter divorcee' bar in Portland because I figured nobody would know who I was, and I pretended to be Jim Stockton from Salem, a paper salesman just passing through, and have one-night stands. You realize the face goes first. A lot of 50-year-olds have intact bodies and tend to be warmer than younger chicks. Older women don't tend to be afflicted with the borderline personality disorders and the psychological pitfalls that befall a lot of younger women these days.
"I can't tell you how many women wanted to explain to me upon my release how not all women are the way my ex was. A lot of them tended to be turned on that I never apologized [for beating his girlfriend Anne] and that I was entirely justified in what I did and the injustice was in having to go away for it. I saved that girl from going to jail so many times [by not reporting her to the police for violating a restraining order]. In the scheme of things, I don't think getting beaten-up is as bad as getting put away."
Luke: "Did you figure out why you got into such a self-destructive relationship with Anne?"
Jim: "I remember reading an article that Spin did when I was in jail... The woman who introduced me to my wife said "a lot of parents beat their kids because they can't help it, but I think his parents had a conscious desire to destroy him as a person." My parents had a miserable marriage. They were Catholic. I came along 13 years after my nearest sibling. I insured that they'd be around for at least another 18-years together. I bore a lot of the brunt of their misery. Somewhere along the line, my ideas of love and destruction were fused."
Luke: "Do you believe in God?"
Jim: "I believe there has to be something. I'm a megalomaniac but not so bad that I think I have a pipeline to the divine. I tend to think that God is sadistic and that he puts us here for his own amusement.
"My ideas about what is ethical and how they differ from society at large come from comparing Mom against Dad, who was raging and violent and a drunk but he didn't try to hide it. After Dad died, Mom didn't have another man for ten years until she married his brother. I used to tell my aunt all the shit my parents would pull and she'd say I was hallucinating. Then my Mom bragged to my aunt that when her new husband was showering, he fell down and cracked his pelvis. He was pulling himself by his elbows across the floor, screaming for her help, and she bragged to my aunt that she pretended she was asleep. That sort of detached aggression troubles me.
"That's how I justify myself vis-à-vis the girl who sent me to prison. She was openly violent and aggressive but she could also conscience calling the cops and putting someone away that she claimed to love when she knew that she was a willing combatant.
"The reason rats are all hated in prison is that rats are all guilty of something. Convicts don't hate the old granny who's robbed and calls the cops. They hate the petty drug-user who turns his dealer in or the crime partner who turns against his partner."
Luke: "Do you hate rats?"
Jim: "I hate anyone who tries to force his guilt on someone else. Guilt projection and slaying of the scapegoat tends to be the way of the world. That's the ultimate in immorality as I define it."
Luke: "How do you feel about cops?"
Jim: "For the most part, they're dumb-asses doing their job. I marveled in prison at the guards. Their people-skills were incredible. All the lying and pestering they would have to deal with. There's no way I could've done as good a job. I always argued with anarchists about cops. Cops are just hired dogs, they're not pulling any strings."
Luke: "Where do you get your moral code from?"
Jim: "From what harmed me and what didn't. I know what it is like to be beaten up. I also know what it is like to be locked up. Nobody gets outraged about that. If anyone had known what a moral dilemma I had at the time - a crazy woman dying of cancer [Debbie] and a crazy stripper [Anne Ryan]. I didn't want anyone to die. My social skills are abysmal. I didn't handle it well. As far as intent, I probably had better intentions than either of them. I couldn't send that girl [Anne] to prison. I considered that immoral. I could lose my temper and hit someone, but to put them away, no."
Debbie died in August 2000 after more than three years of cancer.
Luke: "So what are your plans for the next few years?"
Jim: "I'm doing a lot of freelance [writing] right now but I hope to find something I can do aside from write. I've always hated to write. I'd rather do radio or something easier and more rewarding. I did a show here for 13 weeks with a guy I met in prison. He was a member of SHARP and then had a change of heart when he went to prison when he realized that no one respects a non-racist in prison. Radio is the easiest thing on earth. I don't know how anyone with a radio job could find a reason to complain about anything. It was KGUY - guy talk with guys talking about guy things. Sports Nuts and Greaseman [syndicated shows].
"We did an episode called 'Celebrating the Jew' right before we got canned. The station went country and told us that was the reason they were letting us go. But they didn't go country on weekends.
"We were apologizing for the Holocaust. We learned in prison that those sort of decisions were called thinking errors. We came to the conclusion that Hitler was afflicted with a whole series of thinking errors that led up to his catastrophic acts and maybe if he had taken one of these six-week 'cage your rage' classes they forced us to take, world history might have been significantly altered."
Luke: "How do you think society should deal with the Jews?"
Jim laughs: "One of my favorite articles was called, 'Judge Orders Hitler To Undergo Therapy After Crazed Fuhrer Goes Berserk In Court.' I said that when Hitler first moved to Portland, he got into trouble immediately with a local newspaper for saying that the Jews run everything. And the city's Jewish mayor, Jewish chief of police and Jewish head of the Chamber of Commerce demanded an apology. "How do you deal with the Jews? You learn from them, I suppose. I would think there's nothing but a wealth of information there."
Luke: "Don't you think they're too pushy?"
Jim laughs: "No. The Jews I run across, self pity tends to be a prominent character component. Carrying the weight of the world. My wife was one of them."
Luke: "Did you ever contemplate converting to Judaism?"
Jim: "As a stunt. I was going to do a fifth issue of Answer Me about race, and I was going to convert to Judaism, in the way that Seinfeld did so he could tell jokes.
"Any monotheistic religion is years behind any religion the East came up with. Apparently monotheism is one the building blocks of modern society. I think the Hindus, Buddhists and Dhaoists are all light years ahead of Western religion."
Luke: "If they are light years ahead of us, why don't you go live with them?"
Jim: "They probably wouldn't accept me. I've got a big nose and I smell more than they do. They probably don't want any white people in their neighborhood. Moving costs are always a consideration.
"One main objection I have with Asian culture is that they don't tend to be big on individuality. A personality-type such as me would do even worse over there."
Luke: "What should we do about the Saracen menace?"
Jim chuckles: "I think conversion [to Islam] is the only option. They are ahead of us on the gender curve. They know how to deal with the female problem. The most visited page on my site is the 'Muslim Girls Turn Me On' article. One of my favorite lines was, 'I was looking for a sultry Saudi siren, or a classy Pakistani lassy with a sassy chassis.'"
Luke: "What about the Muslim terrorists assaulting our country on 9/11?"
Jim: "I'm pissed at them for taking the focus off of domestic terrorism, which was very exciting. I remember when the Oklahoma City bombing happened, everyone immediately thought it was at the hands of Arabs. Wait a second. There are Americans so disgruntled that they blow things up? That was an exciting idea."
Luke: "Did you get anything out of those cage your rage things?"
Jim: "They guided us through brain neurology and this idea that no matter how impulsive your acts seem, there's always this split-second window of decision making and you should try to extend the split-second as long as possible. I used to go on the net and post like a maniac whenever anyone would slight me. I self-imposed a 24-hour rule. If I was still upset after 24 hours, then go ahead. But I was never upset after 24 hours.
"At Oregon State Penitentiary, a burly guy with a long gray ponytail and a long gray beard walks in and says, 'Hello, my name is Bob. I'm from Canada and I like to kill people. And I'll be your guide for this anger management class.' Maybe you know a little something about anger, Bob. He was a murderer with no fondness for the system but I think they realized that he could be more persuasive than some sheltered woman from Beaverton, Oregon telling us about anger."
Luke: "What did you mean when you said people who aren't racists aren't respected in the penitentiary?"
Jim: "The first few days in jail, I was puzzled at the sight of white power guys playing cards with blacks. You don't see these guys outside of prison. You don't see guys with '100% peckerwood' tattooed on their throat down at the mall. You don't see 'white' on one tricep and 'pride' on the other at the gas station. Every black guy who was in my cell said he respected nazis and no one else because they presume everyone is tribal and everyone is a racist. They know where they stand with the nazis. They're not going to stab them in the back. They will stab them while looking at them, which is preferable. Oregon is a strange case because it is so white. The peckerwoods run the prisons. They're about 60% of the prison population, with the rest Mexicans, blacks and the occasional lapsed Asian and Jew. If it was any closer, there probably would be more trouble but because of the overwhelming white quotient, a weird peace was attained."
Luke: "What's a peckerwood?"
Jim: "A Southern pejorative term for a low-class white that's been reclaimed by hardcore white convicts. 'He's a solid peckerwood' is about as high a compliment as you are going to get in prison. That means there is a white guy who does his own time and doesn't get anyone else in trouble for what he does and someone you can probably count on to have your back in a fight.
"The peckerwoods took to me for some reason. I was this weird writer-guy and I expected a lot of hassles. There was one guy who looked like Otto von Bismark. Chiseled out of granite. In his fifties. Busted for something speed related, which all the white guys were in for except me. I got in a fight in the minimal security and they rolled both of us up. I told [Otto] I was gone. He kissed me on the head like the godfather. There was a guy named Snake, who'd done 15 years in California. He had '100% Peckerwood' on his throat. He was the most charismatic individual I've ever run across in my life. Everyone, black and white, respected him and he could probably do damage to anyone who didn't. He could sniff out people's bullshit faster than anyone I know and then either make you laugh about it or walk away with your tail between your legs. Snake took to me. We would walk the yard. He said people are afraid of me because I figured out their game but they are more afraid of you because you can put it on paper. I'm a paranoid obsessive type as it is. I was always worried about something. I'd talk to Snake and he would usually calm me down.
"I had the same scenario in county jail with a Blood [gang member] named Marquise. We had great conversations. You have the greatest conversations of your life in there because there's nothing else to do.
"The US is incarcerating ten times as many people as ten years ago, which results in a dilution of the hardcore convict pool. They will give you new criminal charges for crimes you commit in prison. If you assault somebody, you might face a felony charge. Plus, many of these guys are really doped up on state-sponsored medication. Most of them are in there on drug charges and then the state virtually crams drugs down their throat.
"For two months in county jail, I tried the only psycho-tropic medication I ever will try - Paxil. That was horrifying. I awoke in the middle of the night to the sounds of screams, only to realize they were inside my head. I've never had auditory hallucinations before or since, despite a long pedigree of drug use."
Luke: "How have you learned to handle your critics?"
Jim: "Opinions don't bother me but, like anybody, I'm bothered if they're wrong about facts or my alleged motives. I was called mercenary. You've got to be kidding. I never make any wise financial or career decisions. Money is obviously not my motivation. I find that people who will take potshots like that rarely, if ever, like to be confronted about it. That was one thing that impressed me about Darklady. She was willing to talk about a few things via email, which is rare. That's been the biggest frustration for me throughout every scandal I've been involved with.
"In the obscenity trial [of two Seattle bookstores that sold the rape issue of Jim's zine, Answer Me], both the defense and the prosecution were way off the mark trying to figure out what it was I wanted to say. I was not allowed to explain myself because [the defense] didn't think it would reflect too well."
Luke: "Which people who've written about you have infuriated you the most?"
Jim: "That was way back in the zine days. I was not above threatening to kill people for a negative review. Usually it takes the form of accusing me of insincerity or mercenary motivations or something so off the mark that I'm astonished. What I do now is passive-aggressively email them grammatical corrections, just to make them scratch their heads. 'Well, he's a woman-beating maniac but he knows Strunk & White's Elements of Style better than I do.' That completely upends their world."
Luke: "How have you liked becoming a media figure?"
Jim: "I'm not somebody who patronizes pop media much. I've seen few Hollywood movies. I relished the attention for a while during zinedom's golden era.
"I think we all know what is wrong with us. The question is - Do you have the bravery to confront it?
"My mother hated my father while he was alive and then he died and he became a saint. If you invest 40 years in something, you better not come clean and admit it was all a waste or you will have a psychological breakdown."
Luke: "Does growing older scare you?"
Jim: "Hell yes. I said in Sh-- Magnet [Goad's memoir] that the only obscenity is my own mortality. Everything else is fair game. It's horrible. Give me $2000, it's going straight to plastic surgery. I had hair transplants and a nose job when I was in my early twenties."
Luke: "Do you think that's manly?"
Jim chuckles: "I guess it's not considered manly to be obsessed with your looks. I guess not. In the animal kingdom, male creatures are extraordinarily vain."
Jim has no kids. "The way I fawn over animals is embarrassing to everyone but me. I suppose I have the instincts to take care of something small and cute."
Luke: "Is that because relationships with animals are tension free?"
Jim: "Probably. And they don't understand what you're saying. Part of being human is having guilt. That's one of the things I tried to figure out in Sh-- Magnet. Does guilt make you better or worse than animals? Animals live without guilt and they all seem innocent. Doesn't the Eden myth say that the knowledge of good and evil is what caused problems? To live on the sociopathic plane, the amoral, that seems the purest way to live. The world that animals inhabit. What's wrong is what gets in the way of their food supply.
"Fundamentally, I think that's how humans define right and wrong too. Whatever threatens you is evil and whatever validates your idea of who you are is going to be considered good. It's laughably relative. I don't think there are any universals there."
Luke: "If your favorite pet and a stranger were drowning, who would you save first?"
Jim breaks in. "Definitely the pet because I know the stranger is guilty of something. The suffering of other humans is neither here nor there for me. Schopenhauer said that every tear we cry is really for ourselves. Empathy is our way of projecting ourselves into a person's plight and feeling bad for ourselves. There are few selfless acts."
Luke: "What is it you most want?"
Jim: "It's a fatal flaw, but to be understood. I doubt it will ever happen. I'd like three or four people I could explain myself to without having them walk away scratching their heads. That's my idea of nirvana."
Luke: "You want other people to understand that you are not a bad guy?"
Jim: "It has nothing to do with bad. I wish I was what they think I am - an unfeeling monster. That sounds like a treat. You don't have to deal with misery or self-doubt. The agony I dealt with during my whole prison situation was, 'Jesus Christ, I could've put her away.' I didn't do it, I still couldn't do it, and this is what happens. Where I'm coming from is much more complex. "I don't want races to be unequal. I don't want women to be skilled at the art of manipulation. I want everyone to get along but it's just not that way. I write about it out of some Tourettes-like compulsion to speak what I think is the truth, no matter what the consequences."
Luke: "Tell me about your friends?"
Jim: "I don't think they can be categorized. I've found an initial dislike or altercation tends to pave the way for a good long friendship. I've had a lot of friendships with males I got into fist fights with. There's no male-bonding experience like a fist fight."
Luke: "How would your closest friends describe you?"
Jim: "Intense, uncompromising, honest to my own detriment, paranoid, obsessive. The guy (Shawn Tejaratchi) who did my cover for Sh-- Magnet and handled my affairs while I was in prison says I'm the most sensitive guy he's ever met."
Luke: "What are the most common things your friends say to you?"
Jim: "They think I obsess about right and wrong. The writer I identified with in prison was Dostoevsky. Like me, he was diagnosed as mildly epileptic. Someone wrote to me in prison that one of the classic diagnoses for epileptics is an obsession with guilt. Reading Dosoevsky's Notes From The Underground, I was amazed how his thought patterns mirrored mine. On one page he was saying the most sociopathic things you could imagine and the next page he was in church praying for redemption. I wish I was this monstrous asshole. More often than not, I'm frustrated and outraged that people don't see the bigger picture. As I say in Redneck Manifesto - If you say you're ethnically sensitive, why is every other word out of your mouth, 'hillbilly, cracker, white trash'? If racism is wrong because it is wrong to feel better than other people, then why are you shitting on these West Virginian coal miners who statistically are more likely to die than soldiers on the battlefield.
"With Sh-- Magnet, a lot of it was about gender. I grew up having the shit kicked out of me by nuns and then came into a cultural climate that has a presumption of female innocence about everything. The article I am doing for Hustler is about sexually abusive nuns. There have been many of them, far more egregious than what priests are alleged to have done. Raping kids with sticks to get the devil out of them and forcing them to eat shit. Apparently these charges have credence because the Church settled a bunch of these cases.
"I see a bigger picture. You are not better because you are a black woman. You're a human being. You are just as bad as I am. That's egalitarian. These people who claim to be anti-sexist and anti-racist are sexist and racist. I don't see equality in intellectual aptitude but everybody is prone to be an asshole. That's the only equality I know of."
Luke: "Why are you obsessed with right and wrong if you don't believe in right and wrong?"
Jim: "That's a good question. There have been times in my life when I've been able to live like an animal. If I could pinpoint something, it's probably faulty neurological wiring. There's probably a pharmaceutical out there that would nip [Jim's guilt] in the bud."
Luke: "What's your favorite movie?"
Jim: "Five Easy Pieces about chronic underachiever Jack Nicholson.
"When I was a kid in Clifton Heights, a Philadelphia suburb, they were grooming me to be president. When I was in first grade, they were calling me up to answer questions that sixth graders couldn't answer. They had incredibly high expectations for me and I found a way to spike them."
Luke: "Who's they?"
Jim: "The nuns and priests and my parents. I was in Roman Catholic school through twelfth grade, then I studied journalism at Temple University. I probably got a better education at Catholic school than I would've at public school but I learned to distrust people in authority telling me what was good. These were the same people who were knocking me around. I doubt that any of them are aware that I write books.
"I remember once bitching about my childhood to my aunt. She brought up a couple of things that put me in check. Maybe I didn't have it that bad?
"My first mainstream journalistic assignment was a feature for Playboy in 1989. I called up somebody who taunted me in high school and told him to go down to the 7-11 and pick up Playboy, and while he's jerking off to one of the naked chicks, I hope he accidentally turns the page and sees my picture. Because I'm in Playboy and he's still in Clifton Heights, Pennsylvania. I think he just hung up.
"The day the AP story about sellers of my zine being prosecuted for obscenity, I had 55 messages on my voicemail from all kinds of media people wanting to talk to me about it. I didn't talk to anybody because it wasn't me being prosecuted. It was these milquetoast newsstand owners up in Washington. I was entirely ignorant of obscenity law. I've got a big mouth. I could've said something that seemed fine to me and it could've hurt them.
"I told this local journalist Jim Redden (son of a judge) that, and recorded it, and he went in his biweekly paper and said I didn't care what happened to them, I was only trying to save my own ass, which was diametrically opposite of what I'd told him. We planned to go down there with a gun, but we didn't bring the gun. We went down just to intimidate him. I finally saw Jim Redden and he's this hunched-over little George Carlin-lookalike washup. My shoulders slumped. I thought, Jesus Christ, man, you're getting upset about him?
"When I took my plea bargain, he wrote an article called 'Goad wimps out.' As if years in prison were penile inches and if I had taken it to trial and gone for 15, instead of the two that I plea bargained... He mangled a few of the things that I told him. When I had the radio show, it was called Let's Fight. The premise was that I was going to call up anyone who'd ever said anything stupid about me and fight with them on the air. He declined.
"Nothing that humans do surprises me but the way they tend to cover it up is what repels me."
Nikki Finke, born around 1953, is a controversial and opinionated journalist.
With great clips and resume, Finke writes well and has terrific sources. She's been known to butt heads with her editors in her aggressive pursuit of the story.
Since June 2002, she's had a column (DeadlineHollywood.com) in the LA Weekly.
Finke has a broad journalism background. She worked for the Associated Press for five years, Newsweek for four years, The Los Angeles Times for four years, the New York Observer for three years and New York Magazine for three years.
Nikki served as a foreign correspondent in Moscow and London. She reported from Washington D.C.. She's covered wars and political campaigns and the shenanigans of Hollywood executives.
Since the late eighties, Finke's specialized in the entertainment business.
I've heard many stories and criticisms of Finke, including:
* She's headstrong and difficult.
* Nikki is independently wealthy and does not need to write for the money.
* Nikki works from home, mainly by phone, and has times when she doesn't get out much because of health problems.
* An editor told me he didn't hire her because he feared she wouldn't turn in her copy on time without a lot of hand holding.
* "Finke owes her career to the Gay Mafia," says a studio executive. Whatever that means. It's a fun quote.
* She's an attention-seeking hotshot (though she never uses the word "I" in her articles, keeps the focus on her work and not herself, and refused all interviews regarding her lawsuit with Disney and the New York Post).
* She's litigious (though she's only once filed suit, and once, in 1993, had a lawyer write a threatening letter on her behalf).
A beautiful young woman, Finke was a "Jewish American Princess" says one journalist who knew her in the 1980s and was dazzled by her.
JAP is not an accurate term to describe Finke. She comes from more of a "society family" than a Jewish one. She went to snooty private schools all her young life, made her debut at the International Debutante Ball in New York City, graduated from Wellesley in a three-year accelerated program, and was married (announcement appearing in the New York Times) to an international businessman she'd known since childhood... Unlike the stereotypical JAP, Finke isn't materialistic, didn't take her husband to the cleaners in the divorce, and works hard.
Cathy Seipp described Nikki Finke in a 1993 Buzz magazine piece as "semi-sane," prompting a humorous letter to the editor by Finke.
Finke hosted a radio show from 1995-98 on the entertainment industry on Santa Monica public radio station KCRW. She had such guests as New York Times Hollywood reporter Bernard Weinraub, as well as screenwriters, producers, directors, musicians, authors, studio moguls, network honchos...
Burned out on entertainment journalism, Finke left New York magazine in 2000. She could see the handwriting on the wall: that none of these publications wanted anyone to write truthfully about entertainment.
Finke decided she wanted to become an editor somewhere and she interviewed at several large newspapers. But then the recession hit journalism - newspapers are the first to feel recessions because their classified ads are bellweathers -- and all the jobs dried up. It was across the board and it was horrible. This was early 2001.
Nikki decided not to leave LA and instead took an offer to become the executive editor of the Los Angeles Downtown News and expand it. Her plans were written up in a gushing 8/27/01 LA Times article.
Nikki dreamed of a kind of New York Observer filled with politics and business and culture. Everyone was excited. Finke took the job. There wasn't much money. It was hard work but she loved it. And then 9/11 hit and Nikki realized LADN could not fulfill her dreams for it.
According to Finke's lawsuit, she approached the New York Post with a scoop about Vivendi about to buy back Barry Diller's entertainment assets. (Stupid Edgar Bronfman Jr had sold them to Diller.) Her articles made a big splash, and the Post business section offered her the staff job of chief entertainment and media business reporter in New York. Finke and the newspaper arranged for her to stay in LA and have a contract covering showbiz. After she got more scoops, the Post again offered her a staff position.
Then suddenly she was fired by the Post in February 2002 after, according to Finke's lawsuit, Disney executives wanted Finke's head on a platter for her articles on Disney and its Winnie the Pooh royalties lawsuit.
Ron writes www.laexaminer.com 11/21/02: "Within the inner circles of magazine and print journalism, many a disparaging story about Finke has been circulated/continues to circulate. But that probably has more to do with the way her fearlessness and dedication expose the lazy work ethic of other scribes, rather than with her admittedly larger-than-life...personality. Her kindred spirit is the filmmaker Michael Moore, but whereas he is all about "Roger & Me," she in many ways is all about "Michael & Me" (as in either Michael Ovitz or Michael Eisner.) She is to entertainment journalism what Moore is to political commentary, calling a David Spade a David Spade. Opinionated, entertaining, sometimes questionable. Keep it up, Ms. Finke."
Gina Piccalo writes in The Los Angeles Times: Few people outside downtown Los Angeles know of the area's weekly newspaper, a free publication that reads like the hometown gazette for the nation's second-most populous city.
Within the knot of freeways that encircles this part of the city, however, the Los Angeles Downtown News is a must-read for many commuters who snap up the 47,000 copies that hit sidewalk and high-rise lobby news racks each Monday.
Now, the Downtown News is poised to become a more sophisticated journal, one that reaches beyond the shadows of skyscrapers. Veteran journalist Nikki Finke--who has spent more than a decade covering Hollywood for publications such as the New York Observer and New York magazine--was hired last month as executive editor. Her goal, she said, is to make the Downtown News "an intellectual repository" and "unique voice" for Los Angeles.
In addition to hiring Finke, 47, who answered an ad in an online publication, Downtown News founder, editor and publisher Sue Laris has introduced a newsier design and expanded distribution to Glendale, Pasadena, Koreatown, Hollywood and Larchmont Village. "It is clear we are at the start of what we hope will be a real expansion," Finke said. From a tiny building on West 1st Street on the outskirts of downtown, Finke oversees a 17-member staff. She edits copy, assigns stories and writes some herself. It's a far more modest role than the ones Finke has had with higher-profile publications. But, she said, the new job is giving her more room to be creative and independent.
"She brings a great deal of talent to the job," said Laris by e-mail, "and we are excited to see what she can do."
USC journalism professor Bryce Nelson praised the paper as well-reported and tenacious, even as it sits in the backyard of The Los Angeles Times. With a "hotshot writer" such as Finke on board, he said, "It promises that the paper will make even more of a splash."
Laris was a public school teacher and her then-husband Jim Laris worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1972 when they decided to start their own community newspaper. They targeted downtown because there weren't any other weeklies there at the time. When the couple divorced in 1979, Laris bought her husband's share of the business. Over the years, the newspaper's folksy approach and loyal advertisers sustained it while others succumbed to diminishing readership and the high cost of newsprint. Today, the Downtown News operates on a $1.7 million annual budget.
The newspaper has historically focused on business and development. Finke, a feature writer for The Times in the late 1980s, wants to boost coverage of City Hall, the Los Angeles Police Department and the arts. Finke expects to hire two more full-time reporters and expand her list of freelancers by calling in favors from friends she described as "name writers." She also hopes to contribute her own "big-impact stories a couple times a year," she said. "I'm not reinventing the wheel here. I just want to put out a good paper."
Luke says: It was the New York Post statement that they had a number of problems with the accuracy of her reporting that caused Nikki to file suit. There were no retractions, clarifications or corrections by the Post to any of Finke's stories, which may be why she's winning her legal battle at every turn.
Finke served as West Coast editor and Hollywood business columnist for both the New York Observer and New York Magazine. These jobs were eliminated after Nikki left. She was never replaced.
David Poland writes on www.TheHotButton.com 8/16/02 about Nikki Finke's columns in the LA Weekly.
Sam Freedman Interview
Samuel Freedman is a professor of journalism at Columbia and author of the year 2000 book Jew vs Jew.
Luke asks: 1 - State of Jewish journalism. I think it is generally lacklustre and boring and dull and Fried's book is a rare example of compelling nonfiction narrative about American Judaism. Do you agree? What do you think? Why is most writing by Jewish Jews about living Jewish lives so dull?
Sam Freedman: I don't buy your sweeping generalization at all. Think of recent books like Stephen Bloom's Postville, Nicholas Dawidoff's The Catcher Was a Spy, Lis Harris's Holy Days, Bruce Feiler's Walking the Bible. I think there's actually been quite a lot of vivid, incisive writing on Jewish lives by Jewish writers.
2 - What were the most common criticisms you received on your book? Did you get accused of lashon hara? I saw it get sterling reviews. I enjoyed it. Fried punctured some ballons, IMHO. Rabbis aren't used to being treated as public figures and they're not used to controlling their own image and so this Fried book upset the grandeur they want for their image?
Sam Freedman: The most common criticism I got was from secular Jews who objected to my depiction of secular/cultural/ethnic Jewishness as being in a state of deterioration and decline. I don't recall anyone bringing up the lashon hara issue. Actually, I got a fair amount of positive feedback about having found a way to be fair to people in different ideological and theological camps.
3 - There seems to be something about Jewish communal life that tends to stifle good writing? (As someone who's been kicked out of four orthodox shuls for my transgressive writing, I admit I am bringing my own baggage to this.) I pick up most Jewish papers (with the exception of the Forward) and want to hurl, because they are so dull and pompous and read like church bulletins - let's go to Sarah's bake sale Sunday.... They don't reflect the love and hate and angst that I experience leading an orthodox life.
Sam Freedman: Again, your premise is so sweeping that I can't accept it. It's true that many Jewish community newspapers struggle with the tug-of-war between being journalists and being communal organs (especially for papers owned by the local Jewish Federation). But actually I think the quality of these papers has improved dramatically since I was a teenager in the 60s and 70s and they published mostly press releases. Certainly, the Forward has set a standard for bold reporting. But look at what Gary Rosenblatt has done at the New York Jewish Week -- he broke the story of sexual harassment by Rabbi Lanner of the OU.
4 - I thought Fried's book was very similar to Wilkes AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE but Stephen did not see the resemblance. Big difference, Fried told me, Wilkes wasn't Jewish. I don't think that matters. Non-Jews such as Wilkes can do a super job revealing Jewish life, in some ways, can do it better. Agree or disagree?
Sam Freedman: Having written one of my own books about a black church, I absolutely believe an outsider -- if he/she does diligent, thorough research -- and do as good a job as an insider. But I haven't read Wilkes' book.
It's Difficult To Hook Up At Holocaust Events
Amalek: Consider this argument: 1. Jewish survival requires jews (particularly jewish women) to mate, to breed.