New Times Columnist Marnye Oppenheim Dies
From LaExaminer.com: "Marnye Oppenheim, the former "Bite Me" columnist for New Times LA, passed away in Phoenix this morning. "Marnye endured a legacy of health issues," New Times Executive Editor Michael Lacey wrote in a memo to his Phoenix staff. "As some of you know, she had a seizure in the office recently. Without putting too fine a point on it, Rick Barrs' quick action to clear an air passage saved her life. This morning, another seizure struck, and good fortune failed all of us." Oppenheim was an active member of the LA Press Club, and helped spark the organization's impressive revival in recent years. "[W]e who worked closely with her -- particularly Barrs and Tony Ortega, who were her colleagues in Los Angeles -- now have a devastating hole in our lives," Lacey wrote. "She was a kindred spirit, one of us." Our condolences to Rick and Tony and Jill Stewart, and everyone else who knew Oppenheim."
Luke Thompson writes LaExaminer.com: I feel similarly inadequate. The last photo I have of Marnye can also be seen on my front page at www.lytrules.com. I've been staring at it for hours on end, hoping this will all sink in somehow...one thing I didn't write is that if it weren't for Marnye, I probably would never have been encouraged to dye my hair. I realize that sounds absolutely trivial, but those who know me know it's not. She left this world a better place than when she entered it, and I guess that's something we all ultimately aspire to.
Dan Reines writes LaExaminer.com:: "marnye was one of the sweetest people i ever knew. bawdy and ballsy and vulgar and tough and funny, but when you got past all that (even as fun as all that was), she was nothing but sweetness. luke, you said it well on your site: tell the angels to run. i'm told there may be some kind of wake in los angeles. i hope so."
Emmanuelle writes: "Condolences to Rick and the lucky people you knew her. I was a fan of her writing and of her persona and always wanted to meet her: thought this time would come at this month's press club party. Her departure is very sad."
The Raven writes: "Marnye and I corresponded briefly over the past month or so, based on some of my comments here. Last week she said she was setting some negative things aside, and I responded: Whatever you do, just keep being you! She wrote back late Monday night to recommend this week’s Bite Me, saying I had to read it because it was so funny it made her laugh, and she never laughed at her own work."
Bill Holdship writes: "Everyone loved Marnye. I heard "stories" before I went to work at New Times but Marnye was the first person I dealt with there (she called me to set up my job interview with Rick and Andy Vandevoorde) and she acted as my buffer, basically protecting me (and advising me), from that day forward. Friendships seem so fleeting (and at times fickle) in this city, but Marnye always kept in touch after I left the paper and after she left the city, signing every e-mail MacGyver."Just call me MacGyver!" she joked one day in the office (referring to the TV character) after she devised a unique method, using a yardstick and masking tape, to retrieve a bunch of CDs that had fallen behind my desk and couldn't be reached. It was well beyond the call of duty. But so was going to fight for me on numerous occasions when I couldn't get my way with the powers-that-were. There were so many instances where I'd go to her and ask "Does New Times...?" and she'd reply: "No, but I'll do it for you." I loved her dearly. I got my final MacGyver e-mail from her last weekend and was responding just as I heard this horrible news. It seems like such a lame cliche to say the good die young but I'm reminded of when George Harrison died and someone wrote "George Harrison is dead and Fred Durst is procreating; where's the justice in that?" There's so much evil -- and so many evil people -- in this world and yet someone as good and decent as Marnye was dies at the age of 32. My good Catholic mom still likes to say that "everything happens for a reason," but something like this leads me to doubt it. I feel like I've been hit with a ton of bricks. This is just terrible and so unfair."
From my 4/22/03 archive:
Marnyeoppenheim@aol.com (columnist for New Times Phoenix) wrote to The Raven (who was trying to defend her against poster Alex Proctor), on LaExaminer.com: "another anonymous cowardly fuck, i see. why don't u put ur real name on what u write. at least we do that."
The Raven writes: Dear Marnye: A super-irony is: I enjoyed Bite Me [a column in the now defunct New Times Los Angeles free weekly]. You turned a good phrase and told a good joke. I like and respect the work of Mr. Barrs. I have nothing against either of you. I was so entertained by your letters to Mr. Ford, I thought everyone should get the same chance to enjoy them that I did. Perhaps you thought "delirious tirade" was insulting. But one of the most important novelists of the last century was Celine. Every one of his books was an extended delirious tirade. Take it as a compliment, if you like. But I stand by my description of what you wrote to Mr. Ford. It was a delirious tirade, but it was wildly entertaining and I thought many people would like it as much as I did. Really, I thought I was giving "Alex Proctor" a chance to know you better. Really. I swear.
I used to post on LA Examiner with my real name, but then I grew alarmed by the hatred and contempt of journalists expressed so often on the site. And you may have noted that some who post seem mentally unstable, and some of them seem very angry. I decided that one of them might use my name one day to make libelous comments. Why risk this headache by posting comments in defense of journalists -- such as you and Mr. Barrs -- on a site where they are hated, if I can post anonymously, as many people do, make my point, and not have to worry about an insane angry person misappropriating my name and damaging my reputation?
And Marnye, even if I used my real name, what would it mean to you? You asked: Alex Proctor? Who are you?
Alex Proctor is the suspect in the threats against Anita Busch. I believe it is unlikely that it is the same Alex Proctor -- and given that this "Alex Proctor" also discussed Mr. Barrs coverage of the Anita Busch story in the same string of comments on LA Examiner before insulting you, I'm suspecting it's one of the journalists involved in the Proctor/Busch story. And not the real Alex Proctor. This, in fact, Marnye, confirms my suspicion that an LA Examiner reader might misappropriate my name if it suits him or her.
And if I had used my real name, you could still ask: Joe Shmoe, who are you? (Kind of like Chevy Chase: "I'm Marnye Oppenheim and you're not.")
If you had an issue with my use of "delirious tirade," you could have begged to differ, politely. But instead you chose to use insults and profanity. What are you saying about yourself? You might try this: Close your eyes and picture the darkness and hate within yourself as a mass. Picture it shrinking into a lump. Picture it leaving your body and floating away.
There. Doesn't that feel better? You may not believe this, but I swear I mean it: Fondest regards. I really did enjoy your work. Keep on doing what you do. I love you for it. I swear. Even for calling me a cowardly fuck. I love you for it, I swear, I swear.
"Why does Marnye Oppenheim always refer to Rick Barrs as some sort of genius; i.e., "brilliant" and "unique"? Is she related to Mr. Barrs? Does she work as his assistant? Is she related and his assistant? Or does she just like to crawl on her knees when anyone mentions his name?" Posted by: alex Proctor on April 8, 2003 05:52 PM
"alex proctor? who are you?" Posted by: Marnye Oppenheim on April 8, 2003 09:00 PM
"Ms. Oppenheim writes a column called "Bite Me." She was in L.A., and is now in Arizona with Mr. Barrs. As I've mentioned before: For a really, really good time you should check out Luke Ford's site for delirious tirades from Barrs and Oppenheim in response to Mr. Ford's claim that all was not well in Arizona." Posted by: The Raven on April 9, 2003 06:32 PM
(See Marnye, there's really nothing nasty in there ... see?)
Alex Proctor writes 4/4/03 to LaExaminer.com: "Ed Rampell trying to get some cred on the back of Rick Barrs is a joke. Barrs had a lot of "stringers," "researchers," et all chasing news for him. Some of them were good, a lot were clueless. (remember when Barrs TWICE missed the facts on the Anita Busch-fish story? The "reporter" who gave Barrs the bad info didn't have the brains to call anyone beside the dolts who doubted Busch's true claims, and Barrs was too cranked up on whatever to insist for some real journalistic fact-checking.) Barrs WAS the Finger, for better or worse. It's pretty sad when the only train Rampell can hitch himself too was a gossip columnist for a defunct alternative weekly."
Marnye Oppenheim writes to LaExaminer.com: "A loud RIGHT ON to Dan Reines for his comment about being credited when he wrote the Finger. I wrote four or five of them fingers too and was always credited "as told to Marnye Oppenheim." Few people were capable of doing the column in Rick's brilliant and unique style. Dan, myself, Tony Ortega and Glenn Gaslin are the only four I can recall. All were credited because they wrote the column. Rick rewrote the "finger tippers" because it was necessary. I do recall an uncharacteristic outburst from Rick when Ed Rampell turned in some sludge reporting that was worthless, forcing Rick to gather the info himself at the last minute. I watched him work on the column for two plus days a week for years, working in the cubicle near his office. I never saw Ed Rampell once in the entire time I worked at New Times. Enough said."
From my 3/16/03 archive:
I heard the other day that former Los Angeles New Times editor Rick Barrs had an insurrection on his hands in Phoenix, where Barrs moved as editor after Michael Lacey shut down the LANT. The Phoenix staff, I heard, didn't like Barrs preoccupation with raunch, dirty talk and obscenities and they avoid him at public events. Rick has never had this happen to him before. He's always been liked by his reporters. He doesn't know what to do. He can't cure his dirty mind.
Rick Barrs replies: "come on luke, where do u get ur so-called information? inssurrection? well, that would be interesting. brang it! would i care if it were true? no. but it's simply not accurate. and over salacious material (there's always been a smattering of that in every new times paper. remember, we did a story on ur porn-purveying limey ass once upon a time. there goes *my* foul mouth again.). duh, couldn't u at least take a look at the phoenix new times web site to see if i've been a nasty boy in print? (fact is, i'm kicking myself for being so god-damn nice here -- so far.) oh, maybe ur referring to the story a staff writer did on phoenix's lesbian burlesque troupe, which wouldn't have raised an eyebrow in l.a. even here in the desert, nobody made a peep about it, except a couple of homophobic businesses in town that wanted our news racks removed. thing is, every new times staffer worth her or his paycheck swells with pride whenever we piss off tight-ass idiots (pun intended). around here, only a fool would go to the wall over such. see, whether we shock the public with investigative reporting on corrupt politicians etc., or do it by exposing a city's pop-cultural underbelly, this is a good thing for readers. also, this is the news *business*; our experience in l.a. aside, we tend to make money when people read the paper. (hey, i'm giving u a couple of *actual facts* to use in ur follow-up about how u've caused this stuck pig to really squeal). words to the obviously unwise: stop immitating the accuracy-challenged gnat drudge; he's an idiot savant, only without the savant part. best, rick"
Marnye Oppenheim writes: "Bite Me is a columnist who used to write for LA New Times. Bite Me now writes that same column in Phoenix, Arizona for the Phoenix New Times. Bite Me is also a back-up copy editor at the Phoenix New Times. She is in the office every day. She has been out in public with Rick Barrs, editor-in-chief of Phoenix New Times and former editor-in-chief and Finger scribe at LA New Times. Not only do the Phoenix New Times writers allow themselves to be seen in public with Rick Barrs but Bite Me can attest that she spent this past Friday night boozing it up with the art director and Rick Barrs in the privacy of her home. We stayed up til 4 a.m. Bite Me had to kick the art director out when she wanted to go to bed.
"These people at Phoenix NT are thrilled to have the extraordinary Rick Barrs at the helm of the paper. He's already made his mark here. Circulation is up 25,000 papers a week and return rates are almost nil. The covers are amazing. The ad people cheer when he walks through. They're selling more ads than ever. Two weeks ago they added 10 pages to the paper. He's the best thing that they've seen here in years. Michael Lacey, co-owner of the New Times chain wanted Rick to come here because of his stellar ability to make magic. He did it in L.A. He's doing it here in Phoenix. So Bite Me wants to tell you, Luke Ford, that whoever is telling you about an insurrection is full of shit. That couldn't be further from the truth. But then again, now that I've had the sincere displeasure of looking at your pathetic website, I see that you regularly write piles of smegma and pass them off as journalism. You are a loser not worthy of writing Rick's name. Bite Me (a.k.a. Marnye Oppenheim)"
Jewish Commentator Dennis Prager Talks To Muslim Commentator Amir Taheri
I arrive at Nessah (Nessah.org) at 142 South Rexford Drive, Beverly Hills at 7PM. The crowd builds to about 500 people.
I'm surrounded by nubile female UCLA Persian Jewesses. I love Persian women. They are shapely, well-dressed, demure, educated, and perfumed. I'm soaked in Star Jasmine perfume, which helps me concentrate on the words of the learned speakers.
One girl says she loves Prager's voice. She's become a Republican. A college guy says she is only the second Jewish coed he's met who's a Republican.
Prager begins by praising the Persian community for being so wonderful. For picking up moving over here, learning the language, making a ton of money, building big synagogues, raising families and integrating into American society.
DP says Iran will never recover from the loss of its Jews. As the Bible says, those who bless Israel will be blessed and those who curse Israel will be cursed. America has blessed the Jews and been blessed by them. In Iran, the opposite.
Cultural Muslim Amir Taheri points out that Iran never persecuted or segregated its Jews.
Amir inquired about the radical Israel-hating English Jewish coed Rebecca Steinfeld Prager had on his show today in the second hour. "Was she ugly?" Prager says she was pretty but her values were so ugly, he had a hard time looking at her.
Amir is no representative Muslim. He's like the Douglas Rushkoff of the Muslims. If all Muslims adopted his religious practice, like if all Jews adopted Rushkoff's ideas, there would cease to be Islam and Judaism. Amir does not hold by Islam's tenets.
Taheri said he is first an Iranian. If the religion of Iran had been Buddhist, he'd be Buddhist today. He views himself as a product of Iranian culture - including the Jewish, Zoroastrian and Islamic strands.
Prager said that's depressing. It seems that all the tolerant Muslims are the secular Muslims. Amir rejected the term secular though it fits him. A lot of people don't like to be labeled accurately.
Amir discusses the Islamic reward of 72 virgins. Prager says he's American and therefore virginity is not important to him. DP gives that line a lot.
Prager doesn't see any reason for optimism for the moral health of Islam. Amir saw many reasons but how much credibility does he have to pronounce on this when he doesn't hold by his religion?
DP quoted a 19th Century British observer who said that a reformed Islam would mean the end of Islam. Prager couldn't agree or disagree with that.
Amir listed off all these wonderfully tolerant Islamic countries and regimes and blamed nasty Islamic regimes on ethnic tensions, marxism, etc...
Amir wondered why so many Americans hate America. He named Lewis Lapham (editor of Harpers Magazine) and Democratic Senator Joe Biden who says Bush stole the 2000 election.
DP says many American intellectuals are alienated. They are not rooted in Americanism nor in Christianity. Thus they hate those who are rooted in Western traditions.
Amiri says the late Shah was the best possible ruler for Iran at the time and that he executed only 312 people, while the Ayatollah Khomeini executed tens of thousands of people when he took power (competing religious leaders, communists, liberals).
DP concluded: He has a hobby of collecting good people and Amiri is one of them.
DP says Jews are not haters. You don't go to pro-Israel rallies and find people calling for the death of anyone.
When Prager made his documentary in Israel last year, he couldn't find an Israeli to say he hated Arabs.
Prager went to a 10,000-plus demonstration for Israel on Wilshire Blvd in Westwood last year and he spoke to a policeman who said the demonstration was much more peaceful than pro-Palestinian demonstrations.
DP wished there would be more Muslims like Amir.
Sgil46: the Jayon Blair problem is the Howl (pun intended) problem -- bigtime.
Sgil46: I told you years ago to make note of Savage. He's moved the permissible envelope forward for the rest of talkradio.
Marc W. In Bad Way
Toronto freelance writer Marc W. writes on his blog: "IF YOU'VE BEEN WAITING to tell me how great I am, now would be a good time. Better if you did it privately. However, not if we've already interfaced, please, as that would just be an embarrassment for the both of us. The presumption, in such a scenario, would be that I can't be all that revolting. Yet, the fact that I already know you might not be doing enough for me at the moment. It must be reassurance I'm not getting enough of, given how my anxiety seems to have reached a complex crescendo that is almost definitely not "work" related, and is more likely being triggered by factors I haven't quite sorted out. The way I see it, I'm sparing y'all an onslaught of visceral unsettledness by posting this therapeutic plea. Thank you for indulging me, me, me."
Khunrum writes: I advised Marc a long time a go to stop writing like Robert Christgau from the Village Voice. I can't understand what either one of them is trying to say. Keep it simple. Naturally I would like to help. What would you suggest? A pep talk?
Luke says: Maybe Marc should start offering himself as an escort around the Toronto Jewish scene.
Khunrum replies: Luke displays the sensitivity we've come to expect. Ya gotta love Luke. He is the type of guy to volunteer for the suicide hotline. He gets a distraught caller who is ready to leave this "vale of tears'. Luke agrees with the guy that indeed his life is pretty f--ked up and advises him to jump.
Robert writes: The entry was rather cryptic. What's up, Marc? We love you. Share your burden with us. If it's just generic depression that affects you might I suggest lithium and Orthodox Judaism? It's done wonders for Luke.
Luke has professional insight here. He regularly cavorts with workers and has seen Marc's "wedding tackle" during the infamous West Hollywood public pee bust. Luke's inner-pimp has been stirred by young Marc.
Khunrum writes: What a classic pick up line. "Look, an ally, we can pee down there" ....Pee Wee Herman could not have done better.
I'm Available For Escorting With Jews And Goyim
May 15-19, I will be offering an incall special in West LA. Normally I do not offer incall, nor do I offer it at $400 for the hour (on the Sabbath it is free). This is a way for me to get to know Lukeford.net readers, and say thanks for the warm welcome I've received thus far in the Orthodox Los Angeles Jewish community.
My "escorting" refers to specially guided tours of the local Jewish community, with stops for tea at the homes of some of my favorite Orthodox rabbis.
I should have new pics on my site by the weekend, not only of myself, but of my exotic and beautiful roommate, Chaim Amalek.
For my first 40 customers, I'll throw in a script consultation, a devar Torah, and a massage for just $250.
I'm trying to raise money to put myself through psycho-therapy, which will be a blessing to the world.
Amy Alkon, advice goddess, writes: An admirable thing to raise funds for. Suggest you check out REBT.org -- really smart stuff. Rational approach to solving emotional problems. Started by Albert Ellis, now 90 still "all there," and then some. His idea, taken from Epictetus, one of the stoics, is, essentially: change the irrational way you're thinking, and you'll change the way you feel. For a budget bite of Ellis, check out his book "A Guide To Rational Living."
I'm very impressed (but not surprised)! I actually know Ellis and took him to lunch in Santa Monica when he was here. He was just kind enough to let me use something he said about me at our lunch (but which he improved upon via mail) for a recent Creators syndicate mailing: "I have spoken and corresponded with Amy Alkon and find her to be saner than most of the therapists I know." Wow, huh!? Made my day, week, month, year. If you read my stuff, you'll note that his philosophy is among the underpinnings, along with evolutionary psychology. I go to conferences in ev psych along with my good friend Nando Pelusi, who's an Ellis-trained therapist, and leads the Friday night sessions at the Institute when Ellis isn't there. Have you, in your reading, gotten to the Albert Ellis Reader? There's a great piece in there about Ellis speaking at a conference. He swears profusely, all the time. (Typical Ellis: "Fuck you? No, UNfuck you...fucking's a GOOD thing!") Anyway, the text of everyone who speaks at the conference is usually published, but because they were all prissy about Ellis swearing, they refused to publish ANY of it! You probably know about this -- but there are great $5 Ellis workshops on Friday night at the Institute (in Manhattan), where you get to go watch Ellis do therapy on some irrational person in front of a huge audience. He's deaf as two posts, but as I mentioned before, "all there," and then some, even at age 90!
Further proof that journalistic integrity begins and ends with Luke Ford
Khunrum writes: Jayson Blair, former New York Times reporter who resigned recently after he was accused of falsifying information, was on the network news last night. He was a freelancer for the Boston Globe recently, and a review of 85 stories written by him suggest a pattern of falsification. He lied in stories for both papers. Another big story was on 60 minutes last Sunday about Stephen Glass who was a reporter for the New Republic. He admitted he lied about every story he did for 5 years there, making up people, facts, events, etc. He did it for the adulation.
Dean Wakefield - The Jayson Blair of LA Times, SF Chronicle
In the 6/30/96 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle, assistant book review editor Dean Wakefield plagiarized 12 paragraphs from Jim Sleeper's Washington Post 6/2/96 review of the same book - Marshall Frady's "Jesse: The Life and Pilgrimage of Jesse Jackson."
Yale Professor Jim Sleeper writes: "Luke, I wish I knew where [Dean] Wakefield is now. I do feel a little sorry for him, and since no one ever conclusively proved plagiarism, I didn't use his name in the Courant column. The problem there, as at the NYT, was definitely his editor, Patricia Holt, who ran the books section. It was she who really spared no effort to cover for him by blaming herself for having mixed and matched parts of my review with parts of a draft of his, all while he was on vacation. It's not beyond the realm of possibility, but even if so, it speaks to a lot of dereliction and incompetence on all sides. And that, too, they protected. Thanks for raising the question of what happened to him. If you find out, would you let me know?"
Nearly seven years ago, the editor of The Washington Post Book World phoned to ask if I knew how 12 paragraphs from my June 2, 1996, Post review of Marshall Frady's "Jesse: The Life and Pilgrimage of Jesse Jackson" had wound up a few weeks later in the San Francisco Chronicle under another reviewer's [Dean Wakefield] byline.
I was mystified. The Chronicle's reviewer was that paper's deputy opinion page editor. Trying to imagine the heist, I pictured an overeager 26-year-old, in way over his head, writing desperately on deadline.
A more convoluted explanation came from the Chronicle's books editor: Its reviewer had downloaded my Post review to study it but had gone on vacation without finishing his own. The editor, searching for his review, had mistaken some of my paragraphs (mysteriously shorn of my byline and the Post's headline) for his and pasted them in.
That sounds like some of the explanations we're hearing from New York Times editors about the work of Jayson Blair, a young black reporter who cut a devastating swath of mendacity through the newspaper of record before resigning.
When I called the "author" [Dean Wakefield] of the Chronicle review for his account, he stunned me: "As an African American, I would never `lift' a story, because we are already under the cloud of Janet Cooke," he said, referring to The Washington Post reporter who had fabricated her Pulitzer Prize-winning tale of a young boy on heroin. Recovering my voice, I said simply, "I really don't care what race you are." He insisted that his editor's story of a mix-up was true and promised to send me his original version. It never came. And he remained at his post for several more years.
Luke says: I did a search on the Wall Street Journal Publications Library and found Dean Wakefield's review in the San Francisco Chronicle. At the beginning of Wakefield's plagiarized article is this note:
"Because of an editing error, the Book Review's June 30 review of "Jesse: The Life and Pilgrimage of Jesse Jackson" by Marshall Frady carried some paragraphs from the review of the same book that appeared in the Washington Post. The problem occurred when a wire-service version of the Post review was placed in the wrong computer file and inadvertently spliced into The Chronicle review. Our apologies to the Washington Post and its reviewer, Jim Sleeper."
Jim Sleeper writes: "Luke, that's quite a compendium. Thanks. But I have news for you and your readers, which should be checked out immediately: The review by Dean Wakefield which you've linked, and which I assume is the one in their online archive, is not the one that actually ran. The one that actually ran was much longer and had twelve paragraphs from my original Washington Post review. I would hate to think that someone has doctored the review that actually ran, but if they did, they are in big trouble, and you have stumbled upon another cover-up. I have, in my possession, on paper only, of course, a fax of the actual SF Chronicle that ran, exactly as it appeared in the printed edition which everyone read, graphics and all. It is nothing like the review you have linked. Where did you get it?"
Salon.com reports in 1996: When writers are accused of plagiarism these days, they often plead innocent on the grounds of an electronic mishap: A file of their own notes was inadvertently confused with a file of notes taken from other sources.
According to Wakefield, the resemblance between the two reviews is a case of "electronic error." While working on his review of "Jesse," he says, he called up a copy of Sleeper's earlier review and downloaded it into his files in order to read it and "make sure I was doing justice to Frady's book."
Wakefield, who recently came to the Chronicle from the editorial pages of the Los Angeles Times, says he had not reviewed many books in the past and wanted to read Sleeper's review more for form than content, "just to see how good reviews are done." Wakefield says he did write and submit an entirely original review of Frady's book, but that Sleeper's words were mingled with his own in the editing process.
Patricia Holt, the Chronicle's book review editor, did not return telephone calls last week. But in a letter faxed to Sleeper, which he made available to Salon, Holt wrote that she and Wakefield "are both guilty of an incredibly tangled and embarrassing series of blunders that resulted in the sabotage of our own review process." She also notes that "in my 14 years as Book Editor, nothing like this has ever happened."
According to Holt's rambling, three and one-half page letter, the error occurred when she became worried that Wakefield -- who was apparently out of town -- would miss his deadline on the review.
Chaotic as newspaper editing can be, the incident does raise a number of questions. Why did Wakefield remove Sleeper's byline (and all Washington Post references) from the Post's review? Why didn't Holt have an inkling that these two dissimilar reviews were not the work of the same writer? Why didn't Wakefield read the final (combined) version of the review that Holt sent him for his approval? And didn't Wakefield even bother to read his piece once it had appeared in print as a Book Review cover story?
Sleeper also added: "Even knowing as I do how newspapers work and how pressured such work can be, I find your account believable only as an account of gross malfeasance. I don't see how your proposed 'Correction' can say simply that my work ended up in the 'wrong' file and not that the problem involved a failure on both your parts to properly check the work."
From Washington Post 8/12/96:
So how was a plagiarist like Dean Wakefield treated by his employer, the San Francisco Chronicle? He was promoted to Op/Ed editor. Story: "About Race" started in January [1995?] with a poll published in the Chronicle, examining race relations in the Bay Area. On its Op-Ed page, editor Dean Wakefield asked readers to participate. "We want to hear from religious leaders, educators and just plain folks who are dealing with the issue of race on a daily basis," he wrote. "We want honest views and comments that will help all Bay Area residents understand race and how we can deal with it -- and each other -- better."
According to this 7/29/02 article about a bomb threat at the LA Times, there was a "Dean Wakefield" working as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. Same guy? An email to such a name at the LA Times bounced back.
Jim Sleeper was a columnist at The New York Daily News. He is the author of "Liberal Racism" (Viking Press, 1997), and a lecturer in political science at Yale University.
Where is Dean Wakefield today? What happened to his editor Patricia Holt who mounted that turgid defense?
Good article on Salon.com on such plagiarists as Dean Wakefield, Deepak Chopra, novelist/editor Jay Parini, Ruth Shalit, David Leavitt, Julio Iglesias, Jay McInerney, Jacob Epstein, Alex Haley, D.M. Thomas, Julian Barnes, Alexander Theroux, Elizabeth Wurtzel (fired from the Dallas Morning News for plagiarism), NYT's Fox Butterfield, Nina Totenberg, Martin Luther King...
Sgil46: I think your analogy is a bit of a stretch because Howell Raines is, due to his hubris, the real problem. Editors at the NYSlimes KNEW about this years ago. And the extension they gave blair because of Howl's ego was unmatched by anyone anywhere. So bad that now blair can claim what he did was intentional. To catch the bastards at the Times one would presume. Right! Some will buy it.
Sgil46: Whatever, the Slimes is blaming blair ENTIRELY -- as if he fooled them all the time. And some will believe that too.
Dennis Prager Goes to Stanford
Why am I not surprised by his response? DP's predictable. He could've written this identical column without ever going to Stanford.
This problem, of professors never having had to live in the real world or work with adults, should not be underestimated. I recall interviewing on my radio show years ago a professor who had uncovered data showing that male high school and college teachers were the group least likely to remarry after divorce. Living and working around so many young and attractive women makes it very tough to commit to one adult woman.
It is no reflection on anyone at Stanford -- everyone I met was unfailingly polite -- to say that I felt it necessary every day to drive off campus to breathe the air of the real world outside the campus. But for those who love such a cocoon, it is no wonder that much of the outside world (especially the middle class world) is often regarded with fear and contempt. No wonder many professors do not know how to write in language accessible to that world. Many of them literally can't speak to the rest of us.
It is worth noting who brought me to Stanford: a combination of conservative and Jewish groups -- the Hoover Institution, a unique island of non-leftist thought at a major university, Stanford Republicans and a number of Jewish groups, most particularly Chabad at Stanford (the university's major Jewish group, the Hillel Foundation, deemed me too conservative to co-sponsor).
I went to the Stanford Chabad House off campus after my lecture to meet with students, among them three representatives of the College Republicans. Only in America does one find Christians from the Bible Belt utterly unself-consciously mingling with a Hasidic rabbi.
Judaism vs Abortion
Dave Deutsch writes: Just saw that you mention on your site that Judaism opposes abortion. It's a little more complex than that.
According to Jewish law, abortion is allowed in certain circumstances--life of the mother in danger, and, in some cases, perhaps even emotional well being (rape, for example).
In cases where it's allowed, it's allowed up until the point where the baby's head comes out--no problem with late-term abortion.
According to Rambam, the status of the fetus/baby until the head actually comes out is as a rodef, and just was with any pursuer, you are allowed and obligated to strike first to save your life. The flip side, of course, is that decisions on whether or not abortion is permissible in a given circumstance is not up to the mother, but to a beys din.
I even recall that a few years back, efforts to create an alliance between various conservative Christian groups and Agudas Yisroel on the issue of abortion fell apart over just this issue; the Christians wanted to push for a complete ban, while aguda had to object because it's allowable in certain circumstances.
By the way, have you been following the chillul hashem of Israel's new Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi? If you haven't, look into it (do a search on JPost.com for Metzger). You get kicked out of shul's, and this guy gets made chief rabbi. Maybe you should make aliya.
Cathy's Sexy World
Cathy Seipp writes on her blog: "Oh, dear. Cecile was shocked (but, natch, thrilled) to see that Luke Ford linked her kindergarten "I Kissed a Girl" memory today, and I was thinking of asking him to take it down, but she insisted, "Mom! It's some of my best writing!" Well, I suppose that's true. Especially the part about "fishy lips." It made me remember my annoyance with the whole lesbian-experimentaion thing when I was her age and at summer camp. I grew up in dullsville Orange County, and the camp (Isomata in Idylwild) was my first encounter with jaded Beverly Hills and Hollywood girls, many of whom weren't yet ready to deal with big strong messy boys and so spent a lot of time being cloyingly Janis Ian-like with each other. To me, it seemed like a lot of pointless diddling, plus just an ill-disguised twist on regular old brainless boy-craziness to boot. I was more interested in kissing one of the (male) camp counselors in the woods, who was 21, and I was, um, 15."
Working Her Way Through Orthodox Day School
Cecile du Bois writes: Luke says I should work my way through Orthodox day school... What could I do to make $20k annually in my spare time?
I think I should be happy with the nice school I am in now, no matter how many liberals and gentiles are around me. Besides, I have a very close Korean friend, and Mom wants me to study French and Korean. At Shalhevet High school they would just have Jews, Jews and more Jews. I'd like to study Talmud and the Midrash, but I could do that in college. I am flattered that Ford thinks I could qualify, but I would feel repressed in that environment.
Khunrum writes: Cathy and Cecile are a great addition to the Luke Ford family. Mom is a certified neurotic and the kid is well on her way. What's with the Korean language studies? Does Cathy want an introduction to Kim Jong-il ?
Visiting Luke's Hovel
Pretty Jewish Girl (PJG) remembers her recent visit to my hovel:
PJG: “Luke, I wish you could just put aside your humor for a few moments. You seem to hide behind it. Can't you be "real" for just a few moments? You keep shoving your WOOD into my leg, but how can you expect me to want to do anything to it when you make no effort to be endearing? I do not want to jump your bones and swallow you when you are talking in your Austin Powers voice. Do you not realize how unattractive that is? How childish?”
Luke: “That scares me.”
PJG: “What scares you? To be yourself? To be "real"? What is your problem?”
Luke: “Argh, it's the intimacy. Intimacy scares me.”
PJG: “Typical man. Is your WOOD gone now?”
Luke: “It is! It is! Amazing!”
PJG: “I love it - I now know how to get rid of the WOOD. Just say "INTIMACY!"”
Luke: “Yes - it works! Look - it's completely gone!”
PJG: “Yes it is. Let's get something straight - you don't get what you if I don't get what I want. I want to be with a "real" man - even if it just cheap meaningless sex. I can't be attracted to you like this. You don't even attempt to touch me in a way that a woman wants to be touched. Ick. You have potential, Luke. I can see it in a quick glimpse in your eyes. But that isn't enough. You have no desire to make me feel good - you are selfish. You just want me to service you. I don't think so - it is you who should be servicing me. Intimacy? What an excuse - a wimpy excuse. I didn't ask for intimacy - I asked for you to be real. If you want to equate the two - fine. You will never experience having me again though - unless you get me drunk and take advantage of me.”
Luke: The WOOD is back! Do me Baby! Nice Rack!
PJG: “Argh!!!! Time for me to go. Luke - get off of me. Luke! I am not comfortable in this semi-headstand. LLLLUUUUKKKKKEEEEE!!!!! Get off of me!”
Luke: “Oh Baby!!!! Feel my WOOD!!!”
Fighting The Filth
During my years writing on Hollywood, I became appalled by what I found there. Here was a pestilence, a moral pestilence, with which the public was being infected. It was worse than the Black Plague of long ago. And in what mighty doses this poison was manufactured and distributed. Naturally, the lower the moral and intellectual level of such an author of artistic products the more inexhaustible his fecundity. Sometimes it went so far that one of these fellows, acting like a sewage pump, would shoot his filth directly in the face of other members of the human race.
I read Mein Kampf and I'm strangely fascinated. NJG writes: "I told you that you and Hitler were similar! I am not bothered by your anti-Semitism. I know it's the reason you keep the Sabbath. Even in religion you have two opposing views. You really don't like Jews, I think, so you overcompensate and date them and fetishize them. I think you like/love Jews and also hate/abhor them. Also with your Christian background I am sure you heard that we killed Jesus. I bet in your past, and with your history, you were probably mean to the few Jewish kids you knew when you were a child. Growing up, you probably were ashamed of being that way, and due to your illness, identified with the oppressed, in this case the Jews. You renounced your Christian past and became Jewish by listening to Dennis Prager.
"You took to Judaism like a zealot, pushing aside your feeling that Jews killed Christ. Again, due to your attraction to extremism, you became extremely Jewish. Even going so far as to condemn Jews that don't practice Judaism in the way you do as being heretics. But it all stems from your own extreme personality Luke. You are pushing aside the anti-Semitic feelings by being overzealous. Underneath is a Jew-hating gay man."
We Are The Master Race
Chaim Amalek explains: "God chose the Jews to be the MasterRace of mankind. However, He soon realized that this had cruel consequences for the less intelligent goyim of creation, so to protect them from the depredations of the Jews while still providing free will to one and all, he gave the Jews the Torah (both written and oral) by which they might be fenced in. Rest assured that those Jews who today live on the Torah Corral (like Chaim Amalek) are no threat to the gentle gentiles of the world. It is the secular liberal Jew, with his notions of Marxism, tolerance of the sodomite and the transgendered, creator both of socialism and feminism, who is the mortal enemy of the gentile world. I say this in the hope that when you goyim awake from your deep moral stupor (an increasingly unlikely event) and begin dealing with the Jew problem in your midst, you will leave me alone. I hope this clears everything up."
Khunrum writes: "Is Luke a Jew? A real Jew? Evidently he believes he is. He wears his yarmulke and reads the Torah. If I wear a feathered headdress, bang a drum, shake a rattle and do a passable version of the rain dance does that make me a Cherokee Native American? I read Dear Abby the other day about a woman who was marrying a Jewish guy. She was reluctant to take his last name for fear of any discrimination she may face. Who ever heard of a Jew named Luke Ford? It is preposterous. Luke if you are serious about being a Jew you will change your name to Luke Lipshitz. Don't go half way my friend. Dive in and be a real Jew. Feel the pain."
Luke says: In Orthodox life, I use the name Levi Ben Avraham.
Khunrum writes: "Too orthodox sounding. People who use a middle name come off as pretentious to me. "Hello, I'm Montgomery Stevens Radclift and you?.... "Luke Lipshitz"...I like Luke Lipshitz much better. You could run a successful garment business with a name like that."
Luke Gets Mail
XXX writes: I didn't realize when we were speaking that day that it was "on the record" and now I am kicking myself for telling you the things that I did tell you. First-and though not foremost-bares mentioning-the fact that I outted myself with my age. Although everyone and anyone who hires me knows my true age-my fans and those who go to my website do not. It's part of playing the character of -----. The character is 26-almost 27-and I pass for that-so why spoil it -right? I didn't intend for that to be public knowledge.
Secondly, the big thing that concerns me is the fact that I outted myself as being jewish. It is not a thing I hide within my inner circle or within the industry-as a matter of fact-I'm pretty vocal about it-but, I was raised in the south and prejudice is alive and well and still living there! The club I mentioned in XXX is a place I enjoyed going to until I found out about the whole white supremacy thing that is near there-then I was uncomfortable-but, knew as long as I didn't say anything I'd fare okay. Now I know it isn't a place that I should really care about returning to-in light of the fact that it is home for such nasty outright biggotry-but, I did have a great time there and made a ton of money. Also, somewhere underneath it all-it kind of gives me a rise to know that when they are tipping me that they are tipping someone that they hate to the core. Someone-who due to their ignorance-they would rather see dead than ruining the aryan bullshit race that they hold so dear. It's almost like a joke to me-like "HA-you just gave your money to a jew!" I also know that they aren't all that way and would still like to return there and to other southern towns (where they treat me very well) Sooooo if you would pleeeese remove this interview I'd be sooo greatful!
Thank You Senator Santorum
Orthodox Rabbi Avi Shafran writes: What Mr. Santorum did, put more accurately, was place homosexual and incestuous activities on the same plane, and in that he had that Sabbath's Torah-reading in his support. That weekly portion, Acharei Mot, contains a long list of forbidden unions (which list comprises as well the Torah reading for the afternoon of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year). The roster includes incestuous, bestial, and homosexual unions.
It is considered gauche these days, if not worse, to associate the latter category in any way with the former ones. But it cannot be denied that the Torah, the source of what the world has come to call morality, does precisely that. Both incestuous and homosexual unions are prohibited equally, and in no uncertain terms.
That gay groups are politically influential and gay characters are regularly featured in mass media makes it all the more important for us all to hear occasional reminders of the fact that there is a less fleeting -- in fact timeless -- source for our moral code, and that it does not allow for picking and choosing.
Do Jews Have Sex During Menstruation?
Kendra Jade calls me from Washington D.C.. “It's almost that time of the month, Luke, so my boobs get sore. Do Jews have sex when they're having their period?”
Luke: "It says not to in the Torah."
Kendra: "It says don't f--- while you're on the rag?"
Luke: "Yes, that is it exactly."
Kendra: "Do Jews believe in birth control?"
Luke: "Religious Jews rarely use it."
Kendra: "Do Jews believe in abortions?"
Luke: "Judaism doesn't."
Kendra: "Do they believe in sex before marriage?"
Luke: "Judaism holds that the place for sex is within heterosexual marriage."
Kendra: "What other kinds of stuff do Jewish people think?"
Luke: "Judaism is more a way of life, a system of action to make a better world."
Kendra: "Do Jewish people worship a Buddha?"
Luke: "No, there are very strong laws in Judaism against creating images of God. We believe in one God."
Kendra: "What does He look like?"
Luke: "He has no physical form."
Kendra: "Cool. So what do Jewish people think of Marilyn Manson?"
Luke: "Most religious Jews would appalled by him. The Torah says, I set before you this day a choice between life and death. Choose life. Marilyn Manson took his name from a serial murderer, as did each member of his band. Judaism opposes the glorification of murder.
"Jewish law provides a sophisticated database of choices between life and death. And it pushes people to choose life. That's why you don't have sex when the woman is menstruating. The blood represents death and sex and sperm represent life. You don't mix the two. Just like you don't mix milk with meat. Meat represents death. Milk life. No cheeseburgers."
Kendra: "Wow, that's kinda nifty. So, are you appalled by Marilyn Manson?"
Luke: "Yes. By anything that glorifies death."
Kendra: "Don't you think he does it for reasons that you do - to be outrageous and to get attention."
Luke: "I agree. I am appalled by many of the things I've done."
I was Kissed By A Girl
Cathy Seipp's 14-year old daughter "Cecile du Bois" provides the details of her hot girl-on-girl action: Daddy doesn't understand me. For one thing, when I tried to tell him of how an eleven year old girl french kissed me when I was only six or so, he just said it was "playground acts". Mom said that it was inappropriate for her to touch me that way, and that she was disturbed. I still have nightmares of her fishy lips...Gak! It started out that I liked a boy my age in the first grade that evolved into an elemantary psychodrama of daily torture until my lucky liberation because of some miraculous asthama attack, and a stupid ruthless teacher that allowed me to go to my current private school. When I told "Jay" that I never kissed before, when she asked me if I wanted to learn how. I thought that she meant by kissing our hands, and such. But no. She led me to the girls bathroom where there was horrible smelly powder soap, and she kissed me. My mother was looking for me, but luckily she didn't see it happen. And a few years later, I was pushed against a wall on the playground and was kissed by a boy and he was my age! But I think that I don't like lapdogish boys who have something eerie about them.
My first "boyfriend" of last summer turned out to be BI. I met him at a dance, and in unison, we asked each other why we weren't dancing. That struck a deep one hour conversation--the longest I ever talked to a boy, and the next day in Art, we just talked and hung out. But, as my big blogger mouth is, the whole camp soon knew. I told my close friend, but my blushing and dazed eyes of "wanting to write ASAP" just gave it away. Everyone soon knew. And before you knew it, the next day, "he asked me out". I said yes, because we weren't going anywhere and he was interesting. But that was before he was BI. Two days later, he confessed that he was bisexual at the beach, but that night he did not defend himself against his horny friend, so we kind of lost interest. The next day, while I was brushing my hair, his big sister came in and told me that he was waiting outside for me. I knew what he wanted to do, but from all the Teen crap I read, I wanted to be feminist and do the dirty work. I waited for him to leave, and did my best to ignore him. He even attempted to talk to me by blocking me from a trusted friend. So, I wrote him a civil sweet letter, and you know, he never wrote back. I guess this kind of tale gets told a lot. Maybe when the girl kissed me, she cursed me. Or I have some odd complex. Whatever it is, I always meet lapdogs or Bis. Well, not always...
In the notes at the back of his new book, Reefer Madness, Eric Schlosser writes: "Luke Ford has a chapter on the Cosa Nostra in A History of X: 100 Years of Sex in Film. Ford's reporting is vivid and entertaining and not always accurate."
My New Therapist
I mistakenly park a mile away at 12:50PM for my 1PM appointment. I'm dressed my best. My new therp likes to videotape her sessions (with the patient's permission and I'm down for it). I wear my one nice black suit, my black dress shoes and a black tie. I run and arrive sweaty and out of breath.
Ten minutes into the session she has my respect. She wonders why I smile and laugh when I relate painful things. I guess I do it to make the anger and bile that comes out of me easier for other to accept.
My new therapist is unlike any I've ever had. She's constantly challenging. That's terrific but she keeps boring in on me to show her what my rage is, my anger, my sadness. She wants me to access the anger and rage I felt when I was beaten as a kid. I can summon up nothing but sadness and passivity.
When I can't do what she asks, when I feel uncomfortable and under pressure, I start twirling my hair.
I'm unbelievably disassociated from my emotions. I describe them like a journalist describing a third party. She tries to jolt me out of my journalistic third-personness.
Funny. I don't often write like a dispassionate objective traditional journalist but in therapy I find it hard to be human and drop the journalistic/observer pose, which allows me to observe rather than participate.
She bores in deeper and we realize that the source of much of my anger, which I still carry around with me and informs much of my writing, is not who I thought it was.
We cycle through people I hate (including Michael Aushenker) and I speak to them about my angry feelings. She keeps having me speak to people as though they were in the room next to me. She wants me to transfer my anger about them to her. To show her my tears. To let her in.
Wow. Three hours this lasted. Session one. Stay tuned.
I just got my medical tests back. I have high cholesterol. I scored 257 and you are supposed to be under 200.
Cecile du Bois writes: I emailed a stupid email about some family members to several people, who forwarded to more people, thus causing more damage. Of course, even though I said my amends the damage still lasts. When I'm seventy-nine, and withering away of depression and nostalgia, the sins will still stick themselves like leeches to my pale wrinkly skin and suck the goodness out of me. Then, my once blue eyes will turn into a yellow-green and will sink back into their sockets, weary of human life. My hair, once dyed auburn red shall pale into a gray and fall out completely. I will die, and liberate myself into the merciless sky...but when I'm seventy-nine.
Conservative Hypocrites vs Liberal Hypocrites
On his nationally syndicated radio show, Dennis Prager spoke on the Bill Bennett gambling controversy: Only conservatives can be hypocrites because only conservatives argue for standards of personal behavior. Do a search for "liberal hypocrite" on the internet and search for "conservative hypocrite."
I did that search on Yahoo and found 87 results for the term "liberal hypocrite" and 16 results for "conservative hypocrite."
On Google, I found 129 results for "liberal hypocrite" and 29 for "conservative hypocrite."
Cridland writes Matt Welch: Ford is a neat guy to have on Prager's case, because his affection for the broadcaster doesn't seem to interfere with frank appraisal. Impetus for the cited item can be found at this link, found on Ford's site several weeks ago.
It seems Ford is giving Prager a taste of his own googly medicine.
Ford's page would be a daily read if only he'd do more page layout. But tenses and voices fly around like fruit in a blender and it gets very difficult to understand.
I post to Jewschoool.com: If [Douglas] Rushkoff and company protest at Rushkoff being labeled an atheist, he has only himself to blame. I tried to ask him about this and he tried to slip away. I had to define some elementary terms [for him] like theist - belief in a personal God. After much work, we finally agreed that Rushkoff was no theist. An atheist is an a - theist. Rushkoff is an atheist. He is not as theist. It's not rocket science. What's interesting is how he tries to squirm away from telling the truth - that he does not believe in Judaism and any of its foundational beliefs as articulated by Maimonidies and company.
Rushkoff does not believe in the God of Judaism, he consequently can not believe in the divinity of the sacred texts of Judaism. He has as much to say about Judaism as porn star Jenna Jameson. No, he has less to say, because she believes in a personal God.
Mo1 replies: Damn..that's a pretty vicious personal attack. The sodomite a better Jew than the scholar? Don't be so dramatic. Perhaps he didn't want to answer your question because you're a nasty person looking for fodder to lambaste him with.
I just don't think Douglas believes in the G*d that we project as being the G*d of the bible. Believing in Spinoza G*d or an impersonal infinite everything doesn't mean you're an atheist...It means you don't believe the mythology that G*d is sitting there tallying up brownie points, or interfering in your life. If you believe you are one with the infinite everything, you might come to recognize that you are the master of your own destiny--that you are G*d, and that, so long as you're conscious, you can affect change according to your will. This isn't entirely incompatible with Judaism, and is more like a Chasidus approach than anything else.
Likewise, not beliving in the "sacred divinity" of all texts doesn't mean that you can't derive great value from them. I just spent five weeks in a class at HUC in which our professor aimed to show us that, archeologically speaking, the Torah is like Reader's Digest of the ancient Middle East, and that more hands have touched it than Jenna's privates.
...and dude, I can't believe you called my mom a moron on her blog. You're sooooo in for it.
I respond to Jeanette Friedman on Jewschool.com: You're a moron. Rushkoff does not hold by Maimonidies creed of the 13 essential beliefs of Judaism. I asked Rushkoff in person if he was a theist. He did not want to answer the question for obvious reasons. He asked me to define this elementary term. When we finally got down to it, when I finally pushed him to the wall, he admitted that he did not believe in a personal God and that he was not a theist. What is the state of someone who is without morality? Amoral. Someone who is not a theist? Atheist. Sheesh, this is elementary. It's fascinating how you and Rushkoff squirm and lie and twist to get away from this elementary truth. Doesn't say much for your cause, which if Jews adopted it en masse, would result in the end of Judaism, as Rushkoff admitted in his interview with Rosenblatt.
Jeannette Friedman responds: Excuse me Mr Ford. Do I know you? Did I call you names? What is the Torah about? Is it about calling people names like moron and idiot? How about liar? You call me a liar. Interesting Have we ever talked? Do you know what I do with my life and where I come from? Do you have a clue about the frum community I was a part of while I was growing up? A frum community you seem to fit right into, with the hate that emanates from your post. Well, Mr. Ford, whoever you are, I suggest you get yourself a solid Torah education and stop playing word games. Check out a fella by the name of Hillel. He reduced it to a soundbite. So don't do anything to me you don't want me to do to you. Just because God made you different from me, doesn't give you the right to call me names. Furthermore, since I am a woman, let's go according to your rules. I don't need to be tied to a clock or go running to shul every five minutes because I am directly connected to Hashem. Men aren't. Furthermore, the bris with Avraham is very, very clear. The reason for it is that men need to be reminded, everytime they go to the bathroom, that they have to be menschlech. Obviously you need a more serious reminder.
Luke responds: Interesting Jeanette that you don't answer the principle point of my post. The word "theist" has a simple definition. Rushkoff says he is not one. Therefore, he is an "a theist." You guys hate definitions for some reason. Why do you flee from honestly reporting your beliefs and why do you castigate those who call Rushkoff for what he is? Doesn't make him or you bad if you choose to not be a theist. Just own your values.
Dennis Prager argues against anti-Zionism
Asserting that the United States is currently experiencing an ideological civil war, conservative and controversial radio talk-show host Dennis Prager spoke to a standing-room-only crowd last night.
His lecture, entitled “The Pathology of Anti-Americanism and Anti-Zionism,” analyzed the causes of sentiment against the United States and Israel.
Prager began his lecture by addressing what he called the illogical nature of anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiment. “Of all the groups in the world, the most hated seem to be Americans and Jews,” he said. “It needs to be explained.”
Prager pointed out that after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the European world as well as American intellectuals responded by wondering what the United States did wrong to deserve the aggression it received. “We live in an upside-down world,” he said.
Prager described Israel as a tiny country — the size of New Jersey — that is one of the most developed, and one of the most self-critical, in the world. “The largest Israeli demonstration in Israeli history was made against itself,” Prager noted. “The two most hated countries are the ones with the most vociferous self-hatred,” he said.
Prager then turned his attention to Israel which, he said, consumes Arab life. He also spoke about the refusal to recognize the legitimacy of an Israeli state. “There is no acknowledgment, none, that Jews have claims to the Middle East,” he said. “The new leader of the Palestinian Authority wrote a book denying the Holocaust. An entire world of lies in the Arab world has been built about Jews.
“To know the Arab-Israeli dispute takes 60 seconds,” he continued. “The Jews overwhelmingly believe that the Palestinians have a right to Palestine; it is not the same the other way around.”
Anti-Zionism is intrinsically related to anti-Semitism for Prager. He asked why the existence of Pakistan or Panama have never been in question, although they were also carved out of previously-existing countries.
“Of all the states on Earth, every one of which was created in bloodshed, only one has its existence constantly challenged,” he said. “And then we wonder why people equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.”
Prager pointed to Tuesday’s Israel Independence Day celebration and the accompanying protests by advocates for Palestinians as an example of the injustice that Israel faces. “Can you imagine if we had a July 4 celebration but there was a counter demonstration showing how many British were killed in 1776?” he asked. “One side wants the other dead and not the other way around. The head of Hamas often says, ‘We love death more than the Israelis love life.’ ”
Prager then tackled the issue of anti-Americanism, identifying two groups that are primarily responsible for its spread: the Arab world and the European left. “The United States is the obstacle to the spread of leftist ideas and Islam,” he said. “The world will be dominated in your lifetime by one of three ideologies: Islam, leftism-socialism, like in Europe, or Americanism.
“[In Europe] a person should be taken care of from cradle to grave . . . . They resent us for capitalism,” he added.
Another source of European resentment is that the United States is the most religious of the world’s industrialized nations, while Europe is relatively secular, Prager said. “That’s America: God and liberty,” he added. Prager went on to describe what he called the the United States’ “civil war.”
The ideological battle in the United States is between European elements and traditionally American elements. All colleges, he asserted, represent the European influence. “For all intents and purposes, you are living in Europe,” he proclaimed. “Go 100 miles south and you start to enter the U.S.”
He described leftism as a product of modern alienation. “What the left has created is a huge body of people alienated from national, religious and even sexual identities,” he said.
“You are to be utterly unrooted. “There isn’t right or wrong,” he added. “You’re not rooted even there in a moral foundation.”
Prager concluded by emphasizing the divide between Americans and “European leftists.”
“There are two separate Americas,” he said. “Who we agree with and who wins will determine how our children will live.”
Students at the talk said they appreciated Prager’s unique perspective.
“He challenged many of the thoughts so frequently voiced at Stanford,” said junior Megan Richer.
“At Stanford we’re never exposed to speakers like this,” commented junior and Hollywood actor Ben Savage. “His views and people who share his views are drowned out on college campuses.”
Said senior Jake Gardener, “I came in here very critical and very skeptical, but I agree with the underlying themes he was talking about. Maybe he takes them to an extreme, but in the end a lot of what he said resonated with me.”
From May 8, 2003 report:
“This is one of the great days in world history, one of the most optimistic in human history,” Prager said.
Not everyone in White Plaza yesterday agreed with Prager’s assertion. “We feel like when they celebrate Israel’s independence, they are missing the point, because it’s not independence, its creating a country over someone else’s country,” said a protester who wished to remain anonymous. “Any celebration should be joined by remembering what came before the Palestinians were driven out of their homes.”
Response to the protest was varied. “I was pretty upset that there were people who don’t believe in my country’s right to exist and that they came out when we were not making a statement about anything — just celebrating our version of the Fourth of July,” said freshman Nitzan Ackner, who was born in Israel. Amrani, however, made it clear in his speech that he was not bothered by the demonstration.
“I am not upset to see their [Palestinian] flag,” he declared to cheers from the crowd. “Their colors and ours can and should live together . . . .They are not going to secede Israel because Israel is a reality and it is not going away.”
Prager seconded Amrani’s sentiments. “There is a difference in our two demonstrations — ours has not a hint of hate,” he said. “They [the pro-Palestinian movement] want us destroyed. There is not any hate felt here, no ‘anti’-feelings. On the other side, it is steeped in hatred —of Israel, of Jews.”
Several other developments contributed to the erosion of the rabbis' status. One was the society-wide assault on authority, of which many rabbis were simultaneously victims and initiators (3). Catering to the newly modish disdain for formality, rabbis refashioned themselves, trading in their suits for leisure wear, abandoning the tide "Rabbi Cohen" for "Rabbi Bob," and dropping formal sermons in favor of free-flowing discussion that might include an exchange of views with congregants. More critically still, many relinquished their roles as authorities in matters of Jewish religious law; to quote Daniel Jeremy Silver again, by the mid-1980's, rabbis were making "a virtue of being nonjudgmental."
The decades-long erosion of authority, and of authority figures, in American culture at large has translated into an all-out assault upon "hierarchy" within the synagogue. As I noted earlier, the assault has been led partly from within. Thus, David Teutsch, the former president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, warned his colleagues several years ago to avoid "maximiz[ing] the more dramatic, awe-inspiring aspect of their role...rather than the more consultative, personal aspect."
Feminists have fueled this deprecation of "hierarchical" models of leadership, in some cases seeking to substitute a new and distinctly "female" approach to the rabbinate. "Women's center of focus is on people rather than principles," writes one female Reconstructionist rabbi approvingly; their goal is not "to move up, to be alone at the top, but rather... to connect with others, to be together at the center." Others are less sure about this--"some of us [women] are nurturing, others are not," as one puts it--but quite a few seem to agree that the very exercise of religious authority borders on the psychopathological. Here is the feminist critic Rachel Adler: "The congregation agrees to invest the rabbi with unqualified, unique power and knowledge. The rabbi agrees to impersonate the ideal parent of childhood fantasy, who nurtures selflessly and magically ensures safety and well-being. The pact offers the rabbi a grandiose and inflated self-image. It gives the congregation an amulet to ward off personal and communal evil."
And so forth. The same anti-clerical spirit, informed by the same vastly inflated estimate of the rabbi's "unqualified, unique power," inhabits other sectors of the Jewish world as well. One journalist, for instance, and has asserted that today's rabbis are at "war" with the Jews they serve and has issued a call to arms under the tide, "Taking on Our Rabbis." The past president of the World Jewish Congress, Edgar Bronfman, has urged any congregation dissatisfied with its rabbi's teachings to rise up and "fire the rabbi and get one who will do its bidding." One would hardly know from any of this that the days of the rabbi as orator and high priest are long gone, orthat, when it comes to congregants' religious practice, most rabbis are, if anything, accommodating to a fault.
The Journal of Philosophy and Thongs Comes West
From LAWeekly.com: Heeb, the magazine of hip Jewish culture, is lucky to have made it to a third issue. Judging by the reams of press the magazine’s first issues generated in early 2002, the magazine itself, and particularly its title — a misspelled variant of the racial slur — were hugely controversial. Its debut received sizable mentions in publications ranging from The New York Times to The Source. Its founders made an appearance on Howard Stern.
Public interest, of course, was far less widespread than the press reception indicates. Heeb — like Giant Robot, Grand Royal and James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake — is one of those publications: widely talked about, little read, minimally funded and difficult to find in your friendly neighborhood bookstore. Still, its target audience (young, hip, left-leaning Jews) greets new issues like, well, the Second Coming. What other magazine would mix a roundtable discussion on the alliance between Bush and Zionist Jews with a photo spread titled “Sexy Exotic Sassy Brainy Hairy Busty Big-Boned Lusty Jewess”?
Last Tuesday Heeb intended to take Los Angeles by storm with a party at the Hollywood dance club Deep, a venue known for appearances by Baywatch cast members, not observant Jews. Tuesday also happened to be Holocaust Remembrance Day. Joshua Neuman, one of the magazine’s founding editors (music) and its new publisher, told me that this was a coincidence, though such mixing of the sacred, the profane and slutted-up clubgoers is exactly what the magazine is going for.
The Gifts of the Jews
I went to a screening of this new PBS documentary series at the Museum of Tolerance Thursday night, 5/8.
The average age of the crowd was 50. Fewer than 10% of the men wore yarmulkes and most of the women wore pants, indicating that it was an overwhelmingly secular crowd. Religious Jews don't go to TV for their religion.
There's a myth fostered by the secular Jewish-controlled news media that religious Jewish events like tonight's overflow with hot-looking young single women. This is not true. But admission was free.
Rabbi Ari Hier, a charming, erudite, gracious red-head, served as moderator for the evening's discussion. First came a 55-minute segment of the show about the growth of rabbinic Judaism. It came from the perspective of modern scholarship and for a Jew, it had a disturbingly Christian perspective on our history. For one thing, it used the terms AD (in the year of our Lord) and BC (Before Christ), which are of course totally repellant to non-Christians, particularly Jews, and scholars, who prefer the terms CE (Common Era) and BCE (Before Common Era).
Then the show insisted that Christianity was an authentic part of Judaism for centuries. This is utter rot. I asked the third question of the night to the panel (author Johnathan Kirsch, Orthodox Rabbi Daniel Korobkin of Yavneh Academy) and show producer .
Luke: "It creeped me out when the show claimed Christianity was an authentic part of Judaism for centuries when any Jew who knows his tradition knows how anti-thetical all the foundational beliefs of Christianity are to the Jew. We Jews are appalled by:
* God demanding human sacrifice for salvation
* That man could become God
* That in Adam's sin, all humanity forever is damned to hell.
"These beliefs are anathema to Jews..."
Show producer Carl Byker interrupts me to stress how Jewish Christianity is. Kirsch joins in with the irrelevant point that the founders of Christianity were Jews (so were the founders of Marxism, Communism, Socialism, the labor movement, feminism, the student protest movement in the US in the 1960s, the peace and environmental movements, that does not make any of these movements part of Judaism). Kirsch claims there is no such thing as authentic Judaism and anything Jews feel like doing become an integral part of Judaism. And that Jewish history shows the glory of tolerance.
Jewish history shows no such thing. The fanatics, the extremists, the non-compromisers have always won out in Jewish history. Moses imposed his religion on the rebellious ex-slaves, the uncompromising north of Judah survived while the compromising ten tribes to the south assimilated, the fervent Pharisees created Rabbinic Judaism while all other Jewish sects from two thousand years ago disappeared.
Rabbi Korobkin joins in. Christianity and Judaism are very similar even in some of the points I raised. Judaism has notions of original sin. Yeah Rabbi K, but not that we are all damned to hell for the mistake of one man. Not that kind of Doctrine of Original Sin.
I believe that all the scholars about Christianity on the show were not Jewish. Most of the commentators on the show were scholars of history except for Kirsch (a popular author), Rabbi Perry Netter of Beth Am (pulpit rabbi) and Rabbi Elliot Dorf (UJ professor of Jewish ethics).
Neither Kirsch nor Byker are religious Jews and they don't wear yarmulkes.
At the conclusion of the evening, 9:15PM, we had an excellent desert reception with lots of fruit, cookies, coffee, tea and soda.
I chat with Deborah, who went to Culver City High School with Johnathan Kirsch and hasn't seen him since. She hopes he'll come out. He doesn't. They were in a high school play together. During a love scene, she fell off the stage and that ended her acting career.
Only The Moral Leader is Qualified To Judge - Is this the Lukeford.net Unkind Jew of the Month?
For years I've been harassed by Jewish Journal reporter Michael Aushenker. When he spots me talking to an attractive woman, he frequently steps up and either tries to humiliate me in front of the woman or he goes behind my back and starts trashing me.
In 1998, I had a private talk with him about this unfortunate tendency of his and he agreed to desist in exchange for me not telling women he wrote for the Jewish Journal. I kept my word but he did not keep his.
I took a date to the 3/19/03 LA Press Club party at the Le Meridien on La Cienega. When we went our separate ways in the room, Aushenker went up to her and said: "You've got to watch out for Luke Ford. He writes porn."
A few years ago, Aushenker published a series of porno comics, including 1991's "Porno Stories." He published the comic book "Bound and Gagged."
Aghast writes: "This behavior is so highschool. Is he some religious kook? Have you asked him why he does this? Break the ice. Ask him over for a friendly lunch and a double [date]."
Jews and Comedy - Luke's First Nightmare In Months
I went to an evening on Jews and Comedy at the University of Judaism Wednesday. I walk in and a blonde asks me, "I googled your name and do you know what came up?"
Luke: "Yes. I sold the domain name lukeford.com in August of 2001 and have had no responsibility for its content since."
Blonde: "Did that hurt you in Jewish life?"
Luke: "Yeah, I got thrown out of four synagogues over it."
Blonde: "Did it repair relationships after you sold lukeford.com?"
Luke: "Nope. Not one healed. Not one shul let me back in."
About 50 people show up for the panel discussion featuring writers Jenni Konner, Ali Rushfeld, Josh Lieb and Seth Rogen. Adam Gilad moderates. They keep us in stitches most of the night.
The panelists say they and their peers never try to inject Jewish themes, values and rituals into their work. They only ask if if it is funny. Several audience members say Hollywood should do more to educate people about Judaism. A funny remark considering that probably nobody in the room was Jewishly learned or observant.
The panelists trashed executives for buying stupid shows and turning down good shows. A couple of people gave me the evil eye for taping the panel and a couple of people reproved me for doing it without permission.
Josh Lieb, formerly of Harvard Lampoon, was the most vicious and bitter, remarking that various enemies of his would be better off dead. He trashed Sandy Grushow, head of Fox TV.
I fall asleep listening to the Phillip Roth novel "I Married A Communist." In the early morning, I have my first nightmare in months. I dreamed I was over at my parents apartment in my neighborhood (in reality they live in Australia)... They came in and said they were doing an intervention and checking me into a mental hospital against my will... I argued with them and then eventually walked home... So I felt very angry in my dream but it wasn't a total nightmare as I ended up back at my place...prepared to resist.
I guess several people put limits on me over the past week and my nightmare was probably related to my fear of loss of freedom.
Alexander the Poet writes: Luke: Where the hell (sorry for cursing), do you find these panel discussions? Is there a site you look at for them? I can't find squat in New Jersey. Oh wait, are most of them held in colleges/universities?
Luke replies: "You gotta participate in Jewish life and you get clued into these things, I find them in the Jewish Journal, I'm also on most every Jewish mailing list in town... There's a lot of richness in your tradition my friend... Dive into it..."
ATP writes: Luke: Thanks. I'll start looking in my neck of the woods. Thing is, being a "poet", I never have any interest in attending poetry festivals or anything "poetry- specific" because I feel that most "poets" aren't really poets but storytellers.
I guess I come from an old school thought where poems must have structure and form, whether they're haiku, limericks, or verse. This new freestyle stuff ain't poetry in my view. Comedians tends to receive me better than poets do. I guess with the style I write and all.
I basically would like to attend panels on fiction, literature, media morality. If they're Jewish, so be it. I just want to feel enriched and noble. Attending these types of functions will make up for my gift of not being able to finish reading books once I start them. I don't know what it is but I just lose all interest during the process. Maybe I'm more of a magazine person or newspaper person?
Girlfriend 4.0 - What Would The Torah Say About This?
Dave Deutsch writes: Certainly, the Torah would say that any tool that could be used to help you find your bashert could be used, but…
There's a story that a Roman noblewoman asked a rabbi what God's been up to since the six days of creation. The Rabbi replayed that He's been making shidduchim. "Well," thought the noblewoman, "how hard could that be?" and went about pairing up all her slaves, thinking that she was as good as God. Within a few days, however, they were bickering and fighting and constantly at each other's throats, and she realized that making shidduchim is a hell of a lot harder than it seems.
So from this we learn that you can take the most rational and logical approach to making matches as you want, but the Torah still accepts the value of the erotic frisson you get from accidentally spying a hot chick bathing on the rooftop. If it's going to be, it's going to be--even if it means sending her husband off to die in battle.
Luke got this in my email yesterday.
GirlFriend 4.0 is the ultimate tool for getting laid! GirlFriend 4.0 is a personal virtual robot that works hard to manage your love life while you're busy doing other things.
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Just set up GirlFriend 4.0, check your GirlFriend 4.0 Agent once a day, apply as directed, and start cashing in brownie points.
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Using GirlFriend 4.0's "Indexes" you can calculate out the average cost per date, how well she performs compared to other girls, and how her stats stack up, so that you can determine whether or not she's worth it. GirlFriend 4.0 is the ultimate tool for getting laid!
GirlFriend 4.0 is a personal virtual robot that works hard to manage your love life while you're busy doing other things.
Here are some of the things that GirlFriend 4.0 will do for you: Never forget her dress size, birthday, or favorite flower again! By using "GirlFriend" you can track a girl's general information (Name, Address, Phone, Birth Date, Email, etc.), her Description, Profession, Likes/Dislikes, Favorites, Hobbies, Personality, Hookup Ablity, Baggage and much, much more! There are over 100 fields, selections, and ratings you can use to fully describe your babe's every action/reaction, nicety/nuance. You can even add her picture!
Come up with creative dates ideas, and remember every detail! The "Date Generator" will generate ideas for you based on a girl's hobbies and interests. But you might not have enough cash to go out every night of the week with a different girl. This is where the "Date Generator" really shines. It can generate creative and fun date ideas for you based on the dollar range you select! Additionally GirlFriend 4.0 helps you schedule and prepare for the date with the “Date Scheduler” feature as well as track what happened during the date in the "Date Log." Is she worth it? Using GirlFriend 4.0's "Indexes" you can calculate out the average cost per date, how well she performs compared to other girls, and how her stats stack up, so that you can determine whether or not she's worth it.