People Magazine Inundated With Pro-Demi Letters
Actress Demi Moore, 40 years old, dates a 25-year old guy. And the women writing in to People magazine are kvelling over it. Dennis Prager says this is motivated by hatred of men's proclivities for younger women and the desire of older women to believe that they are sexy. Older women and younger men goes against male and female nature. It's hard to believe that Demi's romance will lead to marriage. It's cutesy.
Advantages to it - they will both die at about the same time. It keeps the woman feeling youthful. But most women prefer a man they can look up to.
A 35-year old surfing instructor calls in. He has hooked up with a 52-year woman who loves to surf.
Prager interviewed two women who wrote in to People praising Demi. One was 47 year old and one was 57 year old. Each thought they were hot stuff and they admitted that their primary passion for writing People was anger at society condoning men dating much younger women. It's an anger at reality - that men fall in love with their eyes. Two women were naive, thinking that older men dating younger women was a singularly American phenomenon.
Alexander the Poet writes:
Amy Klein Packs Them In
Over 100 people (normal crowd is about 30) packed the room as Klein, who always has a haunting sadness in her eyes, and Rabbi Yitzhok Adlerstein spoke about objective journalism vs personal narrative.
Amy wrote a well-received article about her adventures on Jdate.com a few weeks ago, published in the Jewish Journal and Moment magazine. She wrote the piece for Moment, because she didn't want it to affect her Los Angeles search for a husband. Then she allowed her editor, Rob Eshman, talk her into putting it in the Journal.
I suffer from moderate paranoia. I walk up to tonight's program imagining that all sorts of embarrassing and horrible things are about to happen to me (I've come to see myself in Orthodox life as a combination of pariah and contagion) but it goes swimmingly.
I've seen Amy at about 30 different functions, mostly Jewish, and we've exchanged a total of about ten sentences. Yet I have this weird stalkerish fixation with writing about her on my website (never unkindly). Why was I not invited to her birthday party Saturday?
A week ago on this site, I threatened to bonk Amy on the head with a heavy book on Jewish culture and drag her back to my Aboriginee-style hovel and make her mine. I figure that tonight there are enough people around that she won't feel threatened by me. My only weapon this evening is a slim volume on Kaballa scholar Gersom Scholem by David Biale. I could only land a frail chick with a whack from this book. Amy's more substantial. Nothing less than a Talmudic tractate will knock her out.
I've communicated with Rabbi Adlerstein since 1991, when I was confined to my bed by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I wrote the good rabbi a letter and he called me back and gave me hope and cheered me to no end. It would be about the most exciting thing to happen to me all week to get a call from the rabbi.
Rabbi Adlerstein is the principle spokesman for Los Angeles Orthodoxy and its best local apologist. He belongs to Aguda Yisrael, which means he's a tad to the right within Orthodoxy. When he speaks to an Orthodox group, he prefers that men and women sit separately.
In 1991, I didn't know these nuances as I was just beginning my journey to Judaism. I lived in Newcastle, 40-minutes above Sacramento, in an isolated part of the Sierra Nevada foothills.
Rabbi Adlerstein advised me to buy a modem and computer and get on the Internet and find friends. He was right. He also advised me to try various bio-chemical solutions to my illness, which I did, and eventually returned to living a normal life, in no small part thanks to him and Dennis Prager, who gave the same advice.
Project Next Step (PNS) used to be aimed at people in their 20s and 30s. Now it is projected at people in their 30s and 40s. I'd say the average age of tonight's crowd was between 45-50.
Friday Night Live at Temple Sinai in Westwood is aimed at the 20-39 age group yet at least 25% of the crowd is over 40, which I bitterly resent.
I attribute the large crowd at tonight's event (PNS has had famous actors, directors, writers, producers, etc and never packed in as many people) due to the strong feelings in the Jewish community about its principle paper - the Jewish Journal (JJ). Criticisms range all over the place. If the cliche is true that if you are getting attacked from all sides, then you are doing something right, the JJ is doing something right.
As I walk in, I find a seat at the very back and look around the room. I spot my friends Alex and Tom, psychologists. I carry my chair over my head to the other side of the room. We have to move this stolid dark-looking Israeli female doctor to fit me in.
Five minutes later, she turns friendly. Doc went to high school with Amy Klein - at the Yeshiva of Flatbush, a scandalously modern Orthodox day school where boys and girls share the identical curriculum and there is no uniform (instead a fashion war, abetted by some of the rabbis who encourage the girls to look stylish).
Tonight's program is billed: "Is the personal printable? Journalists who tell all."
The promised Yemenite buffet has been demolished by 8:05PM.
There's a whisper in the room that Amy wants us to sit in a circle.
PNS coordinator Sarah begins the evening. She says Amy Klein got her her job.
Amy sits with the rabbi at the front of the room. She's dressed in black. I've only once seen her in a skirt and that was at an Orthodox synagogue on the Sabbath. According to Jewish Law, women are forbidden from wearing pants in public (though there are Orthodox rabbis who dissent from this). She uses minimal make-up. She's a straight forward, no nonsense, what you see is what you get, surprisingly shy woman.
She says she's more comfortable writing than speaking. It's true. When you see her socially, she keeps to herself and to people she already knows.
Amy says she doesn't believe in objective journalism. No human being is capable of complete objectivity. What journalists should strive for is balance.
I find this discussion tiresome and I fear the evening is going to be a complete bore.
Then Amy gets personal and my interests perks up. She was the humor editor of her elementary school yearbook and she wrote what she thought was a funny send-up of her history teacher. He did not find it amusing. Amy found the experience so traumatizing, she abandoned journalism until college.
Klein wrote for the Jerusalem Post (centrist to right-wing) for seven years. She found that her personal stories got the most response. The only negative response came from her family who didn't like the way they were portrayed.
"When I came to the JJ, I was supposed to write the singles column. But I was also supposed to write news stories and we realized it would be hard to have credibility writing about Israel...etc and also writing about my dating life."
So she chose the editorial side over the personal.
I find I can't get through most of Amy's (or Rob Eshman's) non-personal columns because they are too pious.
I find I can't get through any pious story by a secular person. The JJ has way too much secular leftist piety - stuff about being kind to gays, that Jews are one people, we should take better care of the environment, we should talk through our differences, we need to be more innovative with Judaism to attract the young people...
Amy says she got such an enormous response to her JDate article that she wondered why should the paper write on serious topics.
Then Rabbi Adlerstein gave a response. As usual, he tried to show how Jewish Law was superior to secular law. Rabbi Adlerstein stated that unless a journalist was objective, he shouldn't report a story. Objective journalists shouldn't taint themselves with writing personal pieces.
Then the evening opened up to comments and questions. This was a problem because it got boring fast. The first string of people started to file out quickly.
Everybody thinks he can write a book, host a talkshow and edit a newspaper. It seemed like everyone in the crowd had opinions on the news media, most of them far afield from tonight's topic. As is usual in such group discussions, I didn't hear anything I hadn't already thought through myself.
One man, dressed casually and not wearing a yarmulke, was incredibly obnoxious: "Torah is the manual for my life. There's a ton of garbage out there, like the Jewish Journal, that I don't care for."
This guy made Torah stink. He acted like an oaf but wrapped himself in religion. He left soon after his ugly diatribe.
What's funny is that his sentiments largely reflects Rabbi Adlerstein's view, though the rabbi would never been so boorish in expressing them. Rabbi Adlerstein's long despised the Jewish Journal. I've heard him say that you can read it in the bathroom. The question is whether you can read it outside of the bathroom.
Rabbi Adlerstein is the consummate gentleman and a good host, so he does not voice these sentiments tonight.
Rabbi Adlerstein sounds hip. He's from the German Jewish tradition of proudly embracing the culture of one's host country (without violating Jewish Law). He can talk about baseball and deliver bar jokes. But when you get down to it, this guy's life is all about Torah and observing God's commandments, and he thinks that's the way for any Jew (though you need to earn a living, raise a family, stay healthy physically and psychologically).
Amy Klein is one tough chick because the crowd gets passionate. They're dying to give their opinions on the Jewish Journal and on her article.
One guy says that every time he reads Teresa Strasser, he wants to kill her.
I've seen the exhaustion and fatigue of dealing with whining Jews written across Amy's face at LA Press Club get togethers at various bars. Tonight she is again a punching bag. I'm not sure I could handle things as calmly as she is.
I'm about the 25th person to make a comment. I'd sworn to myself tonight to stay quiet but I can't help myself. I make a point I've made repeatedly on this site and posted on the Jewish Journal forum. Why doesn't the news side of the JJ use some of riveting techniques of the new journalism to make their stories more interesting? Techniques such as multiple points of view, status details, realistic dialogue, scene by scene construction.
After about 40 people speak, it's time for the summing up.
Rabbi Adlerstein backs away from his earlier comments. He says the horse has already fled the barn. Haven't you heard about blogs where people get very personal? His favorites include unbrokenglass.com (Jewish dating horror stories), Hasidic Rebel... Rabbi Adlerstein blasts a guy who wrote on Jewish weddings two weeks ago in the Los Angeles Times but won't answer his emails. Rabbi Adlerstein says the LAT's reader rep allows the reporters to hide from public criticism.
There's one Orthodox reporter at the LAT.
Amy's final word. She dealt with my appeal for the use of the new journalism by saying she yearned for the days of objective journalism, rather than today when you have such partisan news channels as Fox and CNN. She agreed that the JJ has to jazz up its news reporting though to attract more readers by using more of the techniques I described. She mentioned the "new rabbis" cover story of a month ago [LF says: read it and you will see you get no vivid sense of the rabbis profiled] as an example of a story that could've been made more compelling.
Klein said the JJ didn't have guys writing about dating because she can't find any who can do it articulately.
Why is this? It's largely our culture. If a man wrote the identical article Amy did about JDate, he'd look like a cad. In 21st Century America, it's fine to bash men and evaluate male weaknesses in detail, but you can't do the same to women. Almost all sex columnists in college papers are women for this reason. If it were men talking about their sexual experiences, they would seem boorish.
Also, men complain less and are less sensitive. If a man were to write about women the way the female columnists of the JJ write about men, he'd be lynched. Men usually just take it when they're abused and ridiculed. Women complain more. They have higher barriers of sensitivity. They are more likely to go ape over a slight. You can't josh with women. You can't tease a woman.
Look at the differing receptions to the book Cad: Confessions of a Toxic Bachelor by Rick Marin, and Candace Bushnell's Sex in the City work and her many female imitators. When men talk about their relationships and sex lives, they're scorned. When women do it, they're applauded for their bravery.
Amy says she's offered many of the men she's dated the chance to write about their dating experiences for the JJ.
I doubt the JJ is going to publish any accounts by men of disappointing dating experiences with Amy.
One guy in Amy's JDate article complained he was unfairly depicted. Another guy, who Klein claimed had blown her off, had not intended such, and they're going to give things a second try.
Klein says her father was the first person to see her JDate article because she wrote about him. He thought it was fine.
A secular lefty, Amy says she couldn't date a hardcore Republican.
It speaks well of the JJ that it constantly puts itself into the community. Klein and Eshman and others on the paper are constantly participating in dialogues like this and they genuinely seem to listen.
Then they go back to their headquarters and produce another excruciatingly dull issue filled with sanitized writing. Nice people. Dull paper. There are worse things.
Amalek Speaks To Women
Chaim Amalek writes:
Check Out WGA
WGA webmaster Ross Johson writes LA Observed: "[A writer] should check out www.wga.org on three accounts: the business tax story, which was put together by our crack legal team after the city of l.a. went totally wild on freelance writers(?); our series on depression, which affects a lot of writers (to paraphrase Joe Heller; if you're an L.a. journo who didn't get depressed over freelance writing, you'd be insane); and our upcoming July 2 story on Roger Simon (plus, we got screenplays from nick Kazan, et al to download)."
Stupid Credit Card Companies
I was at Ralphs the other day and my Bank One credit card was refused. Sunday, I went to fill up my tank and my Bank One and my MBNA card were refused (for good reason it turns out later, one was my fault, one was faulty striping on back of card). And I have a zero balance on all my cards.
So I was listening to Dennis Prager on his nationally syndicated show today, and he relayed ridiculous examples of VISA screwing him over. One, because he made two $1:83 Internet charges, which automatically triggered the cancellation of his card, causing him great inconvenience. VISA does not alert you when they do this. I've had this type of thing happen to me.
Another VISA card was cancelled on Prager's son David, who was in Rome, and had lost his ticket to Tel Aviv. Why was it cancelled? Because David spent more that day on the card than normal.
What Should I Drink?
I keep going to bars to mingle with writers and I do not know what to do drink. I don't want anything with alcohol or caffeine. I don't want juices. In Australia, I'd drink lemon-lime bitters. What do I order here?
Eric Hilf writes: Ice tea. Or iced tea. Whatever. Plain, no sugar. A little lemon maybe. Not so much ice. It's great.
My Favorite Blog
Michael writes: I can’t really pick a favorite blog, but if someone held a Commodore 64 to my head and threatened to LOAD “CHOPLIFTER” I would probably blurt out Luke Ford. I met him briefly after the AFI event back in the day, where he impressed me with the way he integrates his religious beliefs into his daily life, his recognition of the differences between the sacred and the profane and their respective requirements, and of course his casual relationship with insanity.
But mostly, I read Luke Ford because he’s the only person I’ve ever read who is as self-centered as I am. Also, we seem to hold similar opinions about a lot of things, up to and including general competence. When recently asked what he really thinks about blogs, Luke responded, “I say that most practitioners of everything, from therapy to blogging, are inept.” I really need to send him some email or something.
Wake For Marnye Oppenheim
My only direct experience with the late Marnye was an angry email from her about six months ago.
Saturday night, 6/28/03, I went to a wake for her at the Coronet pub on La Cienega Blvd. About eight months ago, I went to the same pub to mourn the closing of New Times Los Angeles and send its editor Rick Barrs off to Phoenix New Times.
Tonight I walk in and immediately see strapping New Times film critic Luke Thompson and Rick Barrs, who appears to still be in mourning.
He says he returned to work a week ago. I wonder why he took six weeks off to mourn Marnye's death? It turns out they've been romantically involved for years, had one year off, and got back together again two months before she died.
Marnye had many health problems including Chrones. I had a girlfriend with that. It doesn't kill you, not quickly anyway.
I ask Rick if he's been sitting shiva. He doesn't understand the term (the Jewish way of mourning).
Rick says he's not Jewish and Marnye was not Jewish. With a name like Oppenheim?
There's a computer playing rotating pics of Marnye. There's a ton of free food - strawberries, sushi, salad. LA Press Club officials (President Ted Johnson, board member Diana Ljungaeus) sit behind the food.
Jill Stewart holds court. She's a social butterfly and remembers names. Her live-in boyfriend of 20 years, Norm, stands off to the side. He's quiet, philosophical, possibly misanthropic. He retired from his law practice about 15 years and has been writing out an esoteric philosophy ever since, compiling 600 pages of a treatise and 6000 pages of notes. He has no plans to publish any of this, not even after his demise.
Norm, from a Norwegian family, explains that his philosophy rejects names and labels to better experience the fullness of people.
Ross Johnson talks to Los Angeles Times features writer David Ferrell, author of the new book Screwball.
Ross Johnson gets stuck into me: "You described Dave Robb as looking like a Vietnamese refugee. That was not accurate. Dave Robb is always dressed well. He also stands 6'2". He's not the doddering old man you portrayed."
* Dave Robb has a book contract to analyze Hollywood and the military.
* New Times Los Angeles lost $23 for its parent company. Michael Lacey and his partner each invested a million dollars of their own money to keep it going. When bankers refused to lend any more money to the franchise, NT had to shut down.
* Why did Voice Media pay New Times $10 million to shut down? Why didn't they just let it die on its own? It's not as though the LA Weekly has profited from the demise of NTLA. They are not picking up any more ads. Is there a three-to-five year plan to sell the LA Weekly or Voice Media?
* City Beat and its franchise papers like Valley Beat pays only $500 for a cover story and $15 per film review. Southland Publishing, primarily a printing operation, has deep pockets.
Highlight of my evening - hanging out front with Ross Johnson, Rick Barrs, Joe Donnelly.
Amy Alkon, dressed impeccably as always and with her hair back, has had two glasses of wine and seems drunk. She gets stuck into Joe Donnelly, LA Weekly assistant editor. She rips the LA Weekly for not carrying her column and for being Stalinist in its editorial slant. Joe says there's more editorial freedom and latitude at the LA Weekly than there was at New Times LA (where he worked for seven months).
Donnelly "is out of central casting for an LA alt editor," says Ross.
Joe says the LA Weekly gets a lot of criticism for being rightist, that Features editor Marc Cooper is often called neoconservative, and that the news editor is centrist. Donnelly says the Weekly investigated the anti-Iraq War peace groups.
Joe Donnelly seems like such a cool guy I'll have to give the Weekly a second look. I stopped reading it for six years. I enjoy Nikki Finke's columns.
Amy Alkon tells a story about appearing on KPFK when Marc Cooper ran the show. She mentioned the term "rectal thermometer" and Cooper apparently turned many shades of red, which seems to me an appropriate reaction.
Michael Collins, investigative reporter, is toasted. He's a happy drunk. He comes outside and puts his arms around me and Amy Alkon. He assumes I'm her boyfriend.
Michael believes that most of the great issues confronting us are environmental. Collins has become known for his investigative reporting on the damage big corporations do to the environment. His writing partner is also his girlfriend - Sharon McKenna, former editor of the Ventura County version of LA City Beat.
How much power does the LA Press Club have to batter publishers who screw over writers? Can its newsletter do harm? Do LA Press Club board members have real power? Does the LAPC matter or is it just a social organization?
Tiffany Stone flags down Dave Carpenter. She recognized him from an abortive publishing venture years ago.
Dave asks me how I know Marnye. I said I got an email from her, that's all.
"Who are you?" he asks.
"Luke Ford. I operate a website about the media."
David: "Oh, you're Luke Ford. Marnye talked about you for six months. What nerve you had to write about Rick. You don't look like your column. I pictured a big fat old angry guy."
Everybody says that. That my columns reads like it was written by a big fat old angry guy.
I receive this comments from a big fat old angry guy:
Lunch With Cathy Seipp
I ask Cathy to lunch. She replies: "Do you like the Farmer's Market? I mean the real one, 3rd and Fairfax. Is that where Dave Poland sent back the pie? Anyway, they have some good new places there -- I like Loteria, which is Mexican, kind of in the middle."
I say fine and meet her there at noon, Friday, 6/27. The place feels like a Third World bazaar. I'm surprised not to see slabs of meat hanging in the sun with flies buzzing around them, and parents selling their children into prostitution (well, that does go on in Hollywood).
Maybe I'm just depressed by the Supreme Court's awful rulings this week - that race-based admissions policies at universities are ok, and that there is a constitutional right to engage in homosexual sodomy.
I'm not an advocate of sodomy laws. I don't oppose them either. I think, with Dennis Prager, that states should have the right to set up their own moral communities.
Fearing the sanitation, I order chips and guacamole and a fruity drink. Cathy, who brought a Weekly Standard with her, and I are done in 40-minutes. The place is crowded. I describe the people as proletariat. Cathy says they are nice middle class folks. They dress like slobs.
Cathy tells me to get off my race horse and stop inquiring about Los Angeles Times managing editor Dean Baquet. "I know where you're going with that. You're going to say that the only reason nobody has anything negative to say about him is because he's black."
Luke: "Not true. Gerald Boyd, managing editor of The New York Times, was black and he got widely trashed. I'm just curious why all the adoring coverage of Baquet without any specifics? Why Seth Mnookin picked him as the leading candidate to run the NYT? All these bouqets tossed Baquet's way, yet nobody has ever mentioned a single thing he's accomplished aside from being liked."
Amy Alkon and her girly writers group meet her regularly. Ross Johnson eats here.
I'm deeply grateful for my writing gigs that pay my bills. Cathy has paid hers from freelance writing for 20 years but has been so accomplished, she risks pricing herself out of the market (why Salon dropped her in 1998 without giving her any of those valuable Salon stock options).
Cathy thinks that because I earn some nice coin these days and can buy her two tacos and a limeade, I should buy myself a new used car.
Cathy and I argue over modesty - I'm for it, she's moderate. She says women dressing in shorts shows our society is not a repressive Muslim one.
I say: Aren't there more noble ways to flaunt our freedoms, such as by studying Torah, than dressing like a hooker?
None of my loud protestations of virtue win me points in Orthodox life where true modesty prevails, so that those who are not qualified to speak out on moral issues, like myself, don't.
I tell Cathy that only one woman has ever managed to open the passenger door on my vehicle from the inside. Seipp takes it as a challenge. She gets in my van, pulls the handle, puts her elbow into it, and the door opens easily. Repeat.
I ought to use this line of, "Only one woman has ever been able to...," more often.
Cathy walks two hours a day.
Cathy and her friend Debbie went to see a 1930s movie the other day that I supposedly would love because it's filled with offense racial stereotypes. What kind of loutish Aussie male do they think I am?
XXX writes: "Has your crush on Cathy Seipp been revived? If she could open that damn door in your van then she's more manly than I am."
Friend says: "Do you have a clue what it takes to pique his [famous man] interest enought to respond to my emails?"
Luke: "Write some insight into him, personalize it, he loves to hear thoughtful comments about himself."
Winner Cathy Seipp Tired Of Dealing With Losers
Cathy Seipp writes on her blog: "It was an especially good party too. Except for the part where this pesky buttonholer saw me laughing from across the room, decided for some reason that I was laughing at him, and informed me hotly that I evidently had no idea of his extremely important status in society. Yeesh. How do I get into these things? I suppose it's partly my fault, because I should find a more subtle way of extracting party barnicles from the hulls of hapless guests than cheerily announcing, "Time for you to go mingle now!""
Luke Thompson's Triumph
Luke Ford writes Luke T: "It verges on the impossible for me to take any man seriously who had your brightly dyed hair. I can relate to you better when you have natural hair. Real men don't dye their hair or wear jewelry etc, that's for women and homos. Orthodox Jewish Law, for instance, forbids men from dying their hair gharish colors and from wearing jewelry. This is what chicks and poofters do, and thus is strictly forbidden to the Jewish man."
I discussed the existence of God with Rand Simberg for about 20-minutes Wednesday night. God seems to me the most natural subject in the world to discuss at a party.
I taped much of the conversation but I didn't press record or something and none of it came out.
Rand Simberg writes a blog largely about space. He dreams about space. He longs for space. Space is Rand's substitute religion.
Here are my recollections of our discussion:
Luke: "Why don't you believe in God?"
Randy: "I see no rational basis for doing so."
Luke: "What created the universe?"
Rand: "I don't know."
Luke: "I believe I have an answer - God. Yet you think that having no idea of what created the universe is more rational than positing God."
I believe that intelligence created intelligence.
Rand asks on his blog: "Who created that intelligence?"
Luke answers: "Sheesh, what a five-year old response. If anything created God, it wouldn't be God. God by definition is eternal and uncreated. You may ask, who defines God? Well, the Jewish people brought the idea of God into the world - a God that was non-corporeal, eternal, personal and morally demanding."
Rand talks about his belief in the transcendent but when I pin him down, he has no belief in anything beyond the material. His transcendence, like his ethics, like the meaning he sees in his life, is all made up. His meanings and ethics are the equivalent of characters in a novel - invented by the author. Yet Rand and Amy Alkon and Toby Young believe this made-up approach is so much more rational than following an objective transcendent moral code (once you grant God gave the Bible), proved to work over millenia, rooted in an eternal Creator who has an interest in how his creation treats each other. I'm real sure Rand's Moral Code has just as much wisdom as the works of 3000 years of Jewish tradition.
Rand Simberg writes on his blog:
Luke says: Once you make the leap of faith that God gave the Bible and the ongoing Jewish tradition (the foundational beliefs of the Jewish people and of Orthodox Judaism), then you have a transcendent objective moral code. Everyone has to make a leap of faith to some moral code, it's just that the Jewish one has been tested longer over time and shown to be superior to all other moral codes. My proof? The success of the Jews despite great persecution. They are more educated, more charitable with one another, have less crime and drunkenness, child abuse and other nasty things than followers of other codes. Read the book Why the Jews?
I happen to be a convert to Judaism because in my readings and travels, I saw that it was superior to the alternatives. In fact, it's the only religion that begins to make some rational sense.
On his blog, Rand gives a detailed and beautiful description of the Figueroa Hotel but fails to tackle the burning question of why the people who served us snacks (I did not eat one because they weren't kosher) were so short (and swarthy)?
Randy emails: "I'm sure the Torah has an answer, if one searches deeply enough. Why were we so tall?"
LA Press Club's Best Party Ever
My friends Emmanuelle Richard, Amy Alkon and Cathy Seipp hosted an awesome party for author Denise Hamilton at the Figueroa Hotel downtown.
Calm on the surface, these parties are savage affairs where the cool people flee the losers all night and seek refuge with their own kind.
You could argue that all parties where there are cool and successful and attractive people as well as losers (physically, socially, monetarily, emotionally) are savage. True. But there's an extra degree of savageness to LAPC events because the LAPC is such a big tent. Almost anyone can join and attend the parties. Therefore, you get lots more losers at LAPC events than at exclusive parties where losers are kept out.
I like to spend my time talking to winners like Mickey Kaus, Cathy Seipp, and Denise Hamilton. Most of the group wants to talk to winners and to avoid the losers who clutch and bore and suck the life out of you.
Blogging, like every activity under the sun, has its elites and its losers. Elites generally don't like to hang out with losers. This holds true for Orthodox Jewish communities to Marxist ones.
Now, I like to think of myself as a good person. Therefore, I am willing to spend up to a third of my time talking to losers (I even go out of my way to talk to people who are alone and sad), but I must admit I grow testy after a few minutes and yearn to get away to talk to people better than me (some of whom look at me as a loser).
I'm an elitist. I don't like to listen to people who aren't smart and I don't like sharing myself with them. I do think it is important to obey the social niceties. I only jettison them when I'm around smart confident people who might get a brief kick out of it when I go into my bumbling Luke mode.
Rand Simberg writes: "I have to wonder. Was I a loser on whom he was taking pity, or a winner to whom he was sucking up? I'm not sure my fragile ego will survive the answer. But, he did whip out his tape recorder on me once or twice, so I must have said something worth preserving, if only to mock later. He tried to convert me to Orthodox Judaism, or at least ethical monotheism. I wasn't buying. At least not last night. I'll stick with ethical naturalism for now."
XXX writes: "The "l.a. blogger gang" is extremely cliqueish and probably intimidating for a lesser talent to try and suck up to them at this point."
Khunrum writes: "A loser in the true Hollywood tradition would be a person whose last few films have tanked...is no longer on the A~B~or C lists. An author who is not selling. An actress with no work, whatever. Who decides a "winner" blogger? Do you compare "site hits" per day? Or is it a thing where you know who is cool and who is not?"
Luke says: "Quality, fame, hits. Mickey Kaus gets paid to blog fulltime and only produces a couple of paragraphs a day. Andrew Sullivan gets paid by considerable donations. Instapundit is throughout the media.
"You guys seem to have a real condescending dismissive attitude towards blogs. They are just a communications technology like the printing press or TV."
Chaim Amalek writes:
I began my evening with 5:30PM dinner at the Milky Way, hosted by Steven Spielberg's Mom.
Then, with XXX, I arrive outside the Figueroa shortly before 7PM. There's street parking. Amy Alkon and her boyfriend pull up in front of me. I jump out and hug Amy and chat. XXX is left stranded in my van. It's difficult to open the passenger door from the inside unless you are an Amazon.
I finally turn around and spot my friend, locked inside, gesturing wildly.
We walk in and start our evening of stimulating conversations with film critic Luke Thompson, Cathy Seipp, Matt Welch, Emmanuelle, Anne Beatts.
When Cathy was 18 years old, she interviewed Anne and her writing partner Deanne Stillman (Titters: The First Collection of Humor by Women) at the Chatteau Marmont on Sunset Bl.
Journalist David Finnigan horrifies Anne, a leftist, when he mentions that his cousin is a conservative member of parliament in Canada, where Anne went to college (McGill) and converted to Judaism.
I'm so burned out on hearing about the purported Riordan paper, I didn't even ask about it.
I coin the phrase "Santa Barbara Mafia" to denote the group of journalists who worked on that school's newspaper, the best in the nation at the time according to Amy: Tony Pierce, Matt Welch, Heesun Wee, the creator of Nerve.
Tony Pierce: "She used to wear super-tight jeans and miniskirts to work and then she'd cross her legs."
Amy protests: "They weren't mini-skirts. They were power skirts (down to the knees)."
Tony: "With a bottle of red in one hand, a bone in the other hand.
"She dated the sports editor secretly behind our backs.
"I did acid in the newsroom once and it freaked me out.
"We're still banging each other. Half the people who worked together are either married or were married or are dating or were dating."
Amy: "I think you are wrong. Chris and Jenny are separated. Matt married Emmanuelle. Ken [Layne] married Laura.
"Heesun is not attached. She's just moved back to LA. Her last job was at Business Week. Dow Jones before that. LA Daily News before that. Whenever she walked in the newsroom, everyone would go, 'Heesun.' She was the 'Norm' [Cheers TV show character] of the newsroom."
Matt Welch comes over with some of his Santa Barbara friends. I start yelling lies at them and babbling incoherently to try to provoke a reaction that will take up several column inches in my column. They laugh at me.
I think that they are the sinister spawn of Jews and black people - Italian gangsters. My evidence? None, nor do I need any. I have the right to be satirical and plagiaristic don't I?
I hear that TV anchor Laura Diaz was particularly insufferable and longwinded at Saturday night's LA Press Club awards. Amy Alkon walked out. Laura had her parents rise and then extended her hands and gave them patronizing clap.
Alkon met Dean Baquet, Los Angeles Times managing editor, and told him she was banned from the Times. She invited him to tonight's event. He was polite enough to email her that he couldn't make it. At the New York Times, Baquet had a reputation for not returning emails and phone calls.
I grill many savvy journalists tonight about what is so wonderful about Baquet and none can point to a single quality aside from his "niceness." Seipp and Mickey Kaus say it is a decidedly improved paper over the past three years (approaching New York Times-level quality). Mickey says it is not nearly as much fun to read as when it was bad.
Alkon went up to the table of sickly-sweet LAT's writer Sonia Nazario (Enrique's Journey) and told her how wonderful it was that her colleague Miller had won a Pulitzer Prize. Amy did not mention Sonia's Pulitzer.
I ask about that much ballyhooed Wall Street Journal investigation of The New York Times and how nothing has been published except a couple of entertaining stories the day after editor Howell Raines and his managing editor Gerald Boyd resigned. I guess the WSJ didn't have much.
I wondered why Seth Mnookin, Newsweek media critic, had to include several nauseating liberal pieties in almost every other story. I'm told that's Newsweek. It's editor is an insufferably pompous liberal loser. Read his Diary section in Slate from a few months ago. Aside from a few excellent reporters like Michaek Isikoff, Newsweek bends over backwards to avoid offending anyone, thus killing or delaying key stories, like the Clinton-Lewinsky-grand jury story broken by Matt Drudge.
I learn that before the Writers Guild debate a few weeks ago, Robert Scheer refused initially to come out when he learned David Horowitz was on the panel. And Horowitz initially refused to come out when he learned that someone who'd insulted him in the past [Franklin Pierson?] was on the panel. The right-wing screenwriter did not want to be introduced as a Republican, which he was. Moderator Jill Stewart eventually soothed everyone.
Cathy Seipp introduces me to Ruth Shalit, her dress down to her knees (she was famous in Washington D.C. for her charm, short skirts and catchy writing), and her journalist boyfriend Robinson (ABCNews.com). Ruth is a freelance journalist. She's working on a novel. Cathy tells Ruth I have a thing for female Jewish journalists.
Ruth's younger sister Wendy Shalit is not married and does not have a boyfriend. She's studying Torah in an Orthodox seminary in Israel.
I hear New Republic writer Wendy Cottle is a blonde babe.
I spend much of the evening chatting with Foxnews columnist Rand Simberg.
I meet Jenn Tripp, a new publicist in town from Denver, and cartoonist Donna L. Barstow.
The only photos that Tony chooses to steal for his blog come from Reuters, according to Pierce.
Forbes has had two sharp rounds of layoffs and the staff thinks the editor-in-chief is weak.
Emmanuelle is a happy drunk. She wears a knockout red and white dress that violates all the Torah's prohibitions against immodesty.
Jill Stewart joins my conversation with Mickey Kaus, who recently suggested in his popular Slate column that radical centrist Jill Stewart run for governor of California.
Jill: "If nominated, I will not run.
"I would be a vicious crazy woman if elected."
Mickey: "You might get elected on the basis of the pictures on your website, which are pretty hot."
Jill laughs. "I was told I needed to change those. They were too little Bo Peep."
Mickey spots my tape recorder: "Why is there a tape recorder here?"
Jill: "He tape records everything. Sometimes he secretly tape records."
Luke defiant: "I never secretly tape record anything."
I learn that Lloyd Grove likes to hide his notepad by his knees when going about Washington D.C. parties so he can get the best scoop for his Washington Post gossip column.
The best editor in LA now works in public relations, or, more specifically, crisis management. Allan Mayer, former editor of Buzz magazine, has made lucrative job offers to several of his former journalists. At least one has accused him of selling his soul to the devil. That's how hardcore journalists view publicists - as paid liars.
I ask Kevin Roderick (LA Observed) and Mickey Kaus who are the Torah Jews in the Los Angeles news media.
Mickey: "What's a Torah Jew?"
Luke: "Someone who obeys Jewish Law regarding the Sabbath, holidays, diet, etc..."
Kevin shrugs his shoulders. "I don't know. That's their private life."
A Torah Jew takes his religion into the public square. He doesn't confine it to his private life.
Mickey Kaus is freaked out by the big bulge I get in my pants when I talk to him. It's my tape recorder.
I ask him his opinion of a particular journalist.
Mickey: "Everyone I know is wonderful and a good American."
If the Jewish people disappeared because of Mickey's failure to reproduce with a Jewish woman, would he feel bad about it? Would he question his extreme securalism? Would it send him to study the Talmud? Does he feel any responsibility to the white race?
Why have all interviews of prestigious journalist Mickey Kaus failed to address these important questions? Why the wall of silence about Mickey's lack of belief in the Master of the Universe?
Which of his jobs have had the most sex appeal?
What does he love and hate about LAPC parties?
How does he handle losers who try to glomp on to him?
Who are the ten hottest-looking female journalists?
How does he feel about the browning of California?
Was his relationship with Ann Coulter entirely platonic?
If he owned a jewelry shop, and a black man wanted to come in, would Mickey buzz him through? Would he be more likely to let in the white man?
Is interracial love and marriage good? Why?
Does it anger you that blacks can call each other n--ger but you can't?
Is it wrong to use the yiddish terms schwartze and shicksa?
A few days ago, an ant bit my eye, which swelled to what I thought was alarming proportions. Nobody has noticed it. I suffer alone.
10:20PM. I'm ready to leave. Cathy and Jill fake-fight over Jill's failure to RSVP for Cathy's girls breakfast. Cathy says people who have irritated her have been taken off the list.
Only women and superior gentlemen like Eugene Volokh worry about saying goodbye. I get the hots to leave, find XXX, and off we go.
Chaim Amalek writes: "You should be a gossip columnist. You write in that faggoty way of gossip columnists, too. I think you may be metrosexual. How many of the bloggers in attendance were Mexican or Negro?"
Luke says: About 1% of the crowd.
Chaim writes: "Lester Maddox (former governor of Alabama who passed on the other day) would've had a good time there, had he not been dying. Face it, in the way in which you choose to live your lives, you white Los Angelenos, especially you white members of the chattering classes, are, racially speaking, a pretty exclusive bunch. Why can't you be more welcoming of diversity? More Mexicans for you."
Fred Nek writes: "If Jesus was a blogger, do you suppose there would be a lot of parables in his blog? I have a theory: In any social endeavor in LA, be it blogging, bridge, cricket or Tiddly Winks, the first instinct of one and all is to set up a social pecking order and ostracize the uncool. (Of course, the main difference is that in Silicon Valley, the first instinct of one and all is to ostracize the cool.)"
I ask a friend if I can print a negative comment I received about him. He replies: "I think you should pray... then meditate... then contemplate... then consider the source of that letter and what that guy stands for... and then consider what i've done for you over the years... then consider what he's done for you and humanity in general... then think about what printing s--- like that might mean... then make your own decision."
I Visit The American Jewish Press Association Convention
I slipped into the AJPA.org conference Wednesday afternoon to find my new friend Sue Fishkoff, author of The Rebbe's Army.
I read the book a couple of months ago and enjoyed it, though it was too gentle for my taste. Sue writes in her introduction that she wasn't looking to hunt down scandals about her subjects.
I meet Fishkoff at 2:55, right before the 15-minute freelancer convention. She barely had time to greet me before we were barrelled over by members of the Jewish press eager to get a free book.
Sue's publisher Random House hopes that they go back to their publications, review the book, and increase sales.
Most people don't realize that most author's earnings from a book are not affected by its sales. Most authors get an advance and a book would have to sell an exceptional number of copies before they will see more money.
So this isn't putting any money in Sue's pocket. In fact, she's losing money, because she paid out of her own pocket for the trip and for the table and for the convention.
I sit beside her and I look around for a TIGHT agenda and a BIG pair of insights. I try to understand how these people turn out such dull, insipid and uninspiring journalism. The only Jewish paper worth a damn is the Forward, which is independent of the damn Jewish Federations, who try to smother independent journalism.
The Northern California Jewish Bulletin (turning into a monthly magazine) and The Jewish Week of New York are Federation papers and probably the only two worth a damn. The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, though officially not a Federation paper, is anything but an independent voice. It occassionally published good stuff, such as by Joel Kotkin (Rob Eshman, Amy Klein are good at times).
Which Jewish publication journalist do you look forward to reading? Gary Rosenblatt at The Week is at the top of my short list.
I look around at the conference attendees and recognize many of them and their publications. But there's no one I'm dying to talk to because there's no one here who's done anything worth getting excited about.
As I observe the crowd grabbing at freebies for 15-minutes, I realize these aren't the sharpest knives in the Jewish drawer. Not with the way they slobber for a free book to save themselves $25.
I'm feeling all haughty and judgmental when organizer Natasha Rosenstock (the only person aside from Sue who greets me all afternoon, damn unfriendly bunch) says hi. I tell her my name and that I'm a friend of Sue and that I'm here to give her emotional support. Officially, I should not be here. This is a conference that Jews are paying $300-500 each to attend and I've snuck in for free. How Jewish is that?
Khunrum writes: "Very Jewish...very everything. Why pay for something when you can get in free? Years ago a buddy and I went to see Ram Das. They wanted twenty bucks. We found an open side door and walked in without paying. Das is basically a boring Jewish~Hindu gas-bag. I would have felt cheated had I paid."
Natasha says I'm welcome to help myself to the snacks. She welcomes me to the conference. She has a good sense of humor. I ask her if people crowd around her in bars when she mentions her role with the AJPA.
Sue feels like she's getting barrelled over. She appears exhausted. She paints on a big plastic smile. I tell her she missed her calling. She should be a used car salesman. She leaps away from me and back to her desk and I fear I've wrecked a budding friendship.
I must remember that one cannot josh with women.
At 3:15PM, the attendees are herded like sheep by Natasha and company into the panels in rooms next door. Sharp people are usually ornery and don't like being herded. Many of the attendees are old men who appear on their last legs. Others appear to be housewives whose experience with journalism doesn't extend beyond publishing bake sale schedules. I could be wrong. These could be the future Hemingways and Tom Wolfes of our time.
It reminds me of a conference of church bulletin writers. What a wild thing that would be.
Just thing, there are hundreds of people working on Jewish publications represented at the conference, living lives around this crap, on advancing up the chain of mediocrity, and impressing their friends with photos of Joey at his Bar Mitvah. The most read parts of Jewish papers are the pictures of kids getting Bar Mitzvahed, and of oldies attending dull testimonial dinners for Sam and Sarah Feinsmith, who've attended this synagogue for 40 years and always paid their dues on time.
The conference agenda, to put it charitably, is uninspiring and unchallenging, aimed at a complacent and dull group. Nobody wants to shake things up by examing such questions as:
* The tension between good journalism and good relations with my friends, community and people who pay me.
* How to battle your Federation censors.
* How does one develop the courage to write the truth about people who can hurt you? What are some rare examples of this in Federation papers, like Gary Rosenblatt's investigations into rabbinical corruption.
I chat with Sue until 3:50 then run to my car to avoid a ticket.
From ajpa.org: "Founded in 1944 as a voluntary not-for-profit professional association for the English-language Jewish press in North America, the AJPA represents more than 150 newspapers, magazines, individual journalists and affiliated organizations throughout the United States and Canada."
Dennis Prager Visits A Nude Beach
Dennis Prager spent a week in Europe. On a beach in Greece, he was surprised that half the women were topless. He talked to three of them and found none of them were from Greece. Greek women are more conservative.
Khunrum writes: "Research eh! Or did he want to get a bit closer to some fine bare titties? That old pervert."
Dennis said he was careful to look them in the eye.
DP says nudity is not sexual. The women were more sexy with their tops on.
Design writes: "Sure, thats why I always ask my girlfriend to keep her top when we have sex!"
DP says: The women aren't going topless to be erotic. They are doing to it becaues they want to feel uninhibited.
Public nudity makes us more like animals. Clothing gives dignity to the human being. Public nudity is degrading.
If there's no issue with a topless beach, what's the issue with a bottomless beach? What's the big deal? Why should something be covered?
DP says he is opposed to topless beaches, not primarily out of sexual modesty, but out of human modesty and human dignity.
DP was asked what if his wife wanted to go topless on this beach. How would he react? DP said he would want to take her pulse. He says his wife has a stronger sense of propriety than he does.
Dennis was impressed by all the priests and nuns in Rome. People wearing religious garb amongst secularists has a powerful affect on society. American nuns who've gone native have made a dumb choice. Undoubtedly some of the religious people wearing religious garb were jerks, but the overall affect was positive. It elevates society.
In Thailand, many young men become monks for a year or two. If this society did that, have its young people devote themselves to a celibate holy year, studying your sacred scriptures, it would transform society. Just as nude beaches have their impact.
Mutt writes: You are too much Luke. Of all the people in all of the world, all the celebrities in Hollywood available for you to stalk, you pick some middle aged pedantic radio bore. oh well......i guess that's what makes you the screwball I like.
Matt Drudge Overcomes His Homosexuality Through Meditation?
Jake Terrell writes on alt.gossip.celebrities: What people have suspected for years, Matt Drudge confirmed recently in that he is seeking to heal his sexual brokeness by becoming ex-gay through Roy Master's Christian meditation excercise.
PAGLIA: You have no religious affiliation?
DRUDGE: You could probably call me a new-age Jew. I'm really into meditation. I have been meditating since I was five years old. I love reading Jesus. I am open to a lot of different things. Again, it's a formula for my personal self that I've come up with. I don't go to shul, I don't go to church every Sunday. But the older I get, the closer I feel to a creator.
PAGLIA: What do you mean by meditating?
DRUDGE: I do exercises every day to clear my mind. Third-eye stuff.
PAGLIA: Transcendental meditation? Where did you learn it?
DRUDGE: I'm self-taught.
Jake writes: To anyone who had been involved with Roy Masters and the Foundation of Human Understanding, what Matt is describing in his cryptic fashion is clearly the exercise developed by Roy. Roy used to be a frequent guest on Matt's FOXNews TV show and has clearly influenced him to overcome his same-sex desires. If Drudge could only have the courage to be more open and honest about this, it might help publicize and garner respect for the other ex-gay ministries out there. We wish him success in his transformation and joint venture with Mr. Masters, Michael Savage, and TRN [Talk Radio Network?].
Ken writes: [T]he presentation of the Daniel Pearl award to Michael Kelly's widow was the one worthwhile moment of the whole night. Sadly, the tasteful and heartbreaking remembrance of Kelly's life and work was sandwiched between hours of the usual bullshit: B-list actors, TeeVee talking heads, Best Vons Insert, etc. And for all the money you pay to go to these things, not a drop of booze is free. A reasonable person would figure all those fees -- plus the "please consider my article" fees -- just to sit there for nine hours and eat rubber chicken would at least result in a "complimentary" bottle of wine on the table. The gift bags sucked, too, except for the free haircut from the fancy guy, which our wives will like. (And what's with the DVD of "The Pianist"? Does anybody want to own that thing? Hey honey, let's get high and watch the gloomy Holocaust movie and then make sweet love on the couch. Jesus.) Also, the Steve Lopez award has some sweet comments attached: "His talent is really a lost art. This type of writing is what this nation needs more of." Indeed.
A Question For My Many Female Readers
I often go out with women who complain that their feet hurt. I reply sympathetically, "Why would you choose to wear shoes that hurt your feet?" They reply that the shoes look good and that all good looking shoes hurt and make it difficult to walk more than a few yards. Is this true? They also point out that a true gentleman would not make his lady walk a mile to save on parking. Instead, he would drop her off at the destination.
As a man, I find it impossible to sympathize with a woman's sore feet when she consistently chooses to wear shoes that hurt her feet. Are there no attractive female shoes that are comfortable? I go to Orthodox shuls on the Sabbath. According to Orthodox Judaism, one may not drive on the Sabbath. So all the women in shul have walked a mile or two or more to get to shul and that far again home. These women are dressed to the nines in shul. I know that some of them walk in tennies, carry their nice shoes in a bag, and slip them on as they slip into shul.
XXX writes: "Haha..I see I made your site. Heels that are thicker are easier to walk in--like platforms. Small heels still hurt. Maybe you would like to buy me some comfortable/stylish walking heels? That' always an option. You can't complain about how much they cost, though."
Rebecca writes: Hi luke! Well there is a simple answer for your question: It depends on shoe's heel! If a person feel confident about her height and wears short heel shoes, it won't hurt, but high heels will hurt if you walk alot with them!
A Cry For Social Justice, AMALEK-Style
Chaim Amalek writes: If there is one form of affirmative action that I favor, it is for ugly people. Beautiful people get all the breaks in life. We ugly folk are left to struggle on our own. Fcku you, pretty people!
I would tax beautiful people at higher rates than ugly people. Of course, these rates would vary inversely with age and be amenable to modification via plastic surgery. Poorly trained plastic surgeons (perhaps the beneficiaries of old-style affirmative action programs) would stand to clean up on this. Also, to the extent that the Internal Revenue Service evaluators are racist white men, this system would favor black people and central Americans over young Nordic women. This would do more to "level" the playing field than all the bulls--- affirmative action programs the liberals yak about. (And remember what I said - affirmative action is a dagger aimed at the heart of international Jewery. The Golden Age is ending, and an uncertain Silver Age is taking its place.)