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The Thrill Of Victory

I've been out of sorts all day. I've gained 20 pounds and my feet hurt. They're tearing down the lightpole outside my hovel. Bill Parcells is leading his Dallas Cowboys into New York to play the Giants. I struggle to contain my emotions, drowning them this afternoon in a large Sunrise from Coffee Bean with whipped cream, a large Chocolate Malt with whipped cream from Starbucks with a large Tazo Passion Lemonade (no whipped cream because it wasn't offered).

Home at 4:30PM, I watched the minutes count down until the 6PM kickoff. Then my emotions fall to the ground with Dallas's bad start, then soar as the Cowboys pour it on through the first three quarters. Then the Cowboys defense collapses again and with 11 seconds left, the Giants kick a field goal to apparently win the game 32-29.

Dejected, I turn off my TV at 9:30PM. I pick up my book on writing a memoir. I read a page. My telephone rings. A friend calling. He's going to gloat over the defeat of the Cowboys.

Fred, exultant: "What a finish."

Luke: "What a way to lose. Heartbreaking."

Fred: "No. We're headed to overtime."

Headed to overtime? Holy hell! I buzz on the TV. True. Giants kicked out of bounds. Cowboys got the ball at their own 40 with 11 seconds.

Quincy Carter throws 26 yards to Antonio Bryant who runs out of bounds. Then Dallas kicks a 52-yard field goal to send the game into overtime where Dallas eventually prevails 35-32.

I'm spent. A wet rag. The last time I felt this drained was when I was thrown out of a syngogue.

Why must I identify so intensely with a football team with such a weak pass rush?

Where Does Luke Stand?

Chaim Amalek writes: Why have you been silent on the J-Lo Ben situation? You write more about bloggers (who, by the way, ought to be called WOGGers) than about genuine celebrities, even though it is in the life trajectory of JLo that one sees critical lessons for the modern woman.

Do you know what "blogger" is derived from? From "Web Log." The more natural acronym for this then should be WeblOG, or WOG. Your blogger friends are really a bunch of stinky WOGS that don't even know it. You have my permission and blessing to begin the metamorphosis of all bloggers into WOGS, which is what these white people are.

Do you know why Jlo isn't heading to the alter now? Because she hit the wall. She looks like a thirty something Mexican woman. She should be cleaning hotel rooms.

The Ultimate Mickey Kaus Interview

On 8/1/03, I email Mickey Kaus for an interview. He replies sure, but he's jammed for a week. A week later, I email him to schedule the interview. No reply. A couple of weeks later, I try again. No reply. A couple of weeks later, I try again. No reply.

Sunday, September 14, I drive to his seaside condo and knock on the door. After a few minutes he answers. I'm shocked.

Mickey Kaus, who I assumed was a thoroughly secular intellectual, is a closeted Orthodox Jew and a devout follower of the Mussar (19th Century ethics) movement.

His appearance is awesome. He is graced with beauty, but it is wisdom and fear of God that lights up his pure face. When he is sunk in thoughts of Torah or Mussar, his body seems to leave its physical state, and his face burns like a torch. At such times he looks like an angel of God and people fear to approach him. Whoever does not see it with his own eyes cannot imagine it. He never allows an artist to draw his face.

Kaus has grown a short beard and has sidelocks down to his cheeks. A black satin yarmulke sits on his head and an embroidered white and blue prayer shawl nestles on his shoulders. He wears not one, but two pairs of tefillin (Rashi and Rabbenu Tam). He's embarrassed that I've caught him wearing Rabbenu Tam tefillin, which is only put on by extremely pious Jews.

He motions with his finger for me to stay silent while he finishes his prayers in perfect Hebrew. He concludes with two extra Psalms for the state of Israel. "Out of the depths, I cry to you, oh Lord."

Mickey: "Shalom aleichem."

Luke: "Aleichem shalom."

Mickey: "What do you want?"

Luke: "To interview you?"

Mickey: "I'm not interested."

Luke: "I thought you were a man of your word."

Mickey: "I am."

Luke, producing a piece of paper: "Here's a copy of your email sent August first saying you'd do this interview."

Mickey scrutinizes the paper. "You're right. I must live up to my word. Give me a few minutes to get ready and we'll go have some breakfast. Come in."

I walk inside and I see an entire bookshelf filled with volumes of the Talmud. Mickey takes off his holy vestments and disappears into the bathroom.

This is an aspect of Reb Kaus that RJ Smith entirely misses in his Los Angeles Magazine profile.

Mickey never stops learning. Even in bed, in the midst of raptures, his learning can still be heard. When he comes out of the bathroom, his face is marked by the strain of restraining himself from Torah thoughts. The moment he completes the blessing for relieving himself, his thoughts pour out like a mighty river from which a dam has been removed.

"I know I have the mental capacity of a thousand bloggers," says Kaus, "but because of that, my obligation to serve God is also that of a thousand bloggers.

I spot works of Kaballah (Jewish mysticism) on his shelf and ask Mickey about them. He denies knowing anything. But I have it on good authority from two independent sources that he has studied Kaballah in private with Madonna and Roseanne Barr.

We walk towards Main Street in Santa Monica. "An ignorant person with a bad character is like an unarmed robber," says Reb Kaus. "But a learned person with a blog is a robber fully armed."

Mickey says a famous Hollywood screenwriter once turned to him with the following question: He had only one free hour a day to learn. What should he study? Kaus said, "Spend the hour blogging, and you will discover many more free hours during the day."

We come to a cafe and sit in the sun. I order a bran muffin and a large hot chocolate. Mickey refuses everything, including a glass of water. He does not trust the kashrut (kosher level). When the waitress lets her hand rest momentarily on his shoulder, Mickey flinches. Not even RJ Smith knows that Mickey is shomer negilla (does not touch the opposite sex).

When politeness forces him to drink a little something out of a glass not kosher, Mickey does so, but then steps into the bathroom and sicks it up.

Mickey looks down at his shirt, which has a small tear. "For the last ten minutes, I've been embarrassed about what people must think of me because of my scruffiness. Then I imagined how great and bitter must be my shame in this world if I fail to live up to God's Torah."

It's impossible to have three sentences of conversation or stride four yards with Mickey without him sticking in Torah.

Luke: "What's the secret to your blogging success?"

Mickey: "To blog with fervor, melodies and motions are necessary to bring out the soul's inner potential."

Mickey sways back and forth, gripping the table, humming an Eastern European melody, to show me how he writes his blog.

"Learning blogging with fervor is an art like music, which arouses and brings out spiritual potential. Just as a singer gesticulates to draw out the music, so does a person learning blogging with fervor gesticulate to draw out his soul."

I ask Mickey about the young woman who accompanied him on his recent cross-country drive.

"She's a 19-year old junior at UCLA, art history major. We got separate rooms the whole way. One day we stopped in Salt Lake City and I spent the entire night learning the saying of our Sages: 'Jealousy, desire, and honor take a man out of the world.'"

Luke: "Looking back on the Howell Raines affair?"

Mickey: "Whoever cannot control his desires and his anger should go to a wilderness."

Reb Kaus likes to stay up late, frequently not sleeping at all. He paces back and forth, sunk in thought and occupied with Torah, until an insight flashes through his mind and he rushes to his computer to update his Slate.com blog.

Slate editor Jacob Weisberg once stayed with Mickey. Curious as to what Mickey did all night, he listened through the wall.

Just a few days before, Kaus had written on his blog: "I know that nothing helps cut the tension around the kf offices like a vigorous gangbang."

But it was not the sounds of debauchery (which Mickey only allows to his non-Jewish employees as a concession to human weakness, like dental insurance) that greeted Weisberg's ears but the sound of Kaus learning Torah all night, repeating in frightful, hushed tones, "He who does not learn deserves death."

Mickey: "Enough about me, how are you doing?"

Luke: "I've not been sleeping. I'm on new medication. It's driving me crazy."

"On the contrary," objects Reb Kaus. "You are very fortunate. You can stay up all night learning Torah with no disturbances. How lucky you are!"

Chastened, I bite into my bran muffin and sip on my hot chocolate and look out at the girls roller-skating by in their bikinis.

So careful is Reb Kaus to honor others, he always addresses me with the formal you in Yiddish to develop my self-esteem. Our entire conversation has taken place in Yiddish and not in Hebrew, because the latter tongue is too sacred.

A Green party activist yells insults at Mickey while we speak. Reb Kaus continues calmly with his points. Finally the activist stomps away. When Reb Kaus is satisfied that he has made himself perfectly clear to me, he runs after the activist, and with his handkerchief, mops the sweat from the man's brow, saying gently and affectionately, "Very well, you're angry at me. But you are perspiring. How can you go out into the day like that and endanger your health?"

The activist is deeply touched and vows to become a regular reader of Kaus Files.

Emmanuelle Richard writes: Luke, if I were Mickey, I would probably call one of my friends of Gold's Gym to knock on your door! This thing is insane!

Putting Out?

Over my Sabbath lunch, a woman talked about sitting at a cafe with Orthodox high school students. This woman claims she could tell by the way some of the girls sat, which ones were putting out.


I pack books, clothes and protein bars into my van and drive north up the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). I have no destination. I just want to get away from my life.

As the miles go by, I release the major ways I've projected myself to the world. Desmond Ford's son. Journalist. Atheistic Communist. Convert to Judaism. Actor. Hot Matt Drudge. Then beneath my layers of attention-seeking, I probe for my true self.

I stop in Monterey for the evening and walk through the fog around the Convention Center. Twenty years ago, the summer before my tenth grade entry into public school, my father held a series of evangelical meetings here. For a few days, I kept a toothpick in my mouth and I imagined I was cool. I wasn't. I ended up alone, sitting on the fence, looking at others.

Now I sit on the same concrete retaining wall I rested on then and I wonder why so little has changed for me. Then as now I can't reconcile my contradictory drives to stand out and to fit in.

I cross the Golden Gate Bridge Thursday afternoon and head north on the PCH. It's a twisted lonely road with spectacular views. I have no radio in my van, but I have one in my head, and the songs it plays from the late seventies and early eighties tell me I'm coming home.

Just before sunset, I navigate down the steep one-lane road to the Albion Field Station, run by the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Here in sixth grade, shortly after my arrival from Australia, I was first kissed by girls. I screamed loudly that I didn't want to be touched but that only egged them on. Wrestling me to the floor, they piled on and flooded me with warm, wet, perfumed intimations of the wonderful things a boy and girl could do together when grownups weren't around, when community wasn't looking, when love wasn't fleeting, when life wasn't ebbing.

I park by the bay and walk up the gravel road beside the familiar wood cabins. I expect a door to fling open any time and an old friend to run out and embrace me. "Welcome home." But everything is still. I see and hear nobody.

I look into the woods and my eyes follow ancients paths I explored 24 years ago with girls, when we hid from our teachers and exchanged forbidden words, glances and caresses. I realize I've followed those paths all my life, seeking meaning in what lies deep in the forest, hidden in the cave, tucked away in the corner, protected by savage animals.

So I found that treasure and brought it into the sunlight and saw it turn to dross and I concluded what? That my teachers and parents were right - that society and individuals need limits. That woods are dark and enchanting places, but not everyone who enters them comes out alive.

I keep walking up the path my father never trod. Each cabin could stand for a few years of my life. There I am throwing manure in Manchester, England, at age 5, blazing trails in the Australian bush at 8, running across the Golden Gate Bridge in my third marathon at 12, watching my father's ejection from the Church at 14, strangled by the football team for a controversial story at 16, winning scholastic honors at 21, lying in a haze of CFS at 24, conversion to Judaism at 26, trudging down Sunset Blvd with my modeling portfolio at 29...

I reach the end of the cabins. I stare at the ordinary buildings so extraordinary to me and I wonder why nothing happens. I wanna yell, "Tell them Luke Ford's here."

As the minutes tick by, no savior arrives. I feel like a trespasser.

I turn around and walk through the silence to the dock. Watching the sun set over the ocean, smelling the wood smoke from home fires, I wonder if it hasn't all been a big mistake. All the major decisions of my life seem pointless. Here I am, alone again, my conclusions trite, my life ebbing away with the tide.

I drive to Vancouver to stay with a girl, and then wind my way home, past the fleshpots of San Francisco, racing for my hovel on September 11. A couple of weeks later at the Orthodox synagogue ---- -----, Yom Kippur comes and Yom Kippur goes, but there's no forgiveness for my sins. Bowing to his board, the rabbi asks me to stay away.

I try other shuls in my neighborhood but the word has gone out about me - I am a dirty goy who only wants to learn Torah so that he can write bad things about Jews.

Then, thank God, I find a home - a warm, rambunctious Chabad (the most welcoming of the various Hasidic sects) shul filled with serious Jews.

I pray with them every Sabbath for a couple of months. On November 10, a burly Australian, who asked me to lift the Torah last week, waves me outside. Several beefy black-hatted guys surround me.

"This clearly is not the place for you to pray," he says. "Good luck to you."

I stare in shock at my friends and they look right through me.

"We don't have to make a scene," he says. "We can keep this quiet."

I turn around and walk home, passing streams of black-clad Orthodox Jews going the other way.

I run into a friend, who sends his wife and children on ahead so he can talk privately with me.

"Levi," he says. "This Orthodox rabbi told me horrible things about you. What's going on?"

I take five minutes to explain. My friend listens closely and then gives me some advice: "You should go to Chabad. They will never throw you out."

I nod my head and walk on alone.

Darnell writes: Well, at least I hope that YOU are receiving more warmth from the Juden, now that you have more money.

That '50s Feelin'

Cathy Seipp writes: And this led to a nice Donna Reedy/Ward Cleavery chat about life's disappointments but nevertheless we must go on and do our best. NFP [Not For Publication]

Luke asks: Who the hell are Donna Reedy/Ward Cleavery?

Cathy replies: You got a big hole in basic pop culture knowledge. Ward Cleaver was the Dad on Leave It To Beaver and Donna Reed was the Mom on the Donna Reed show. Everyone -- and I mean EVERYONE -- would normally get this.

Luke replies: Everyone over the age of 45...no insult intended here. Those of us the in the observant community don't know about such goyisha nonsense.

Cathy replies: Yeah? Well, I know someone in the observant community who's getting a big kick in the ass next time I see him for that over 45 comment. FYI: Pretty much everyone 10 and older knows about Ward Cleaver and Donna Reed. It's known as...the M-A-G-I-C of R-E-R-U-N-S, on this special appliance we earthlings call T-V, you ignorant Martian.

Luke replies: You take TV. I'll take G-d. G-d's people have always been persecuted.

Cathy's daughter Cecile du Bois writes: My friends and I were arguing about the 50's. A boy, obsessed with the box jacket look rebutted that my outfit of pants that were too low cut and the Treacher shirt were not 50's--obviously. I joked that I love corsets. He challenged me asking me to run around the track in a corset. I told him that I would only do that if he ran around in long underwear and a box jacket. The 50's remind me too much of June Cleaver. And even I, who is saturated with many reruns occasionally gets confused about Donna v. June Cleaver. TV watchers get persecuted by nature: they're couch potatoes and will die sooner. Jews who don't exercise and just eat and pray will also be overweight and TV watchers will be made fun of for watching teen shows. And you now have another job to do: watch tv.

That '70s Feelin'

When I write about my life in the late 1970s, early '80s, I put on my one rock CD - Elton John's Greatest Hits. Your song.

Who's More Easy Going? Men Or Women?

In his happiness hour September 12, Dennis Prager discussed the importance of being easy going with life's little misfortunes like a flat tire or losing a wallet. I lost a wallet a year ago and it took me about nine months (due to constant DMV screwups) to make things right. Dennis wondered if it was possible to develop a more easy going nature?

All the callers were male. Why? I suspect because men suffer more from the emotional turbulence of women in personal matters and hence have thought more about the importance of an easy going nature. Author C.S. Lewis points out that if your kid broke the window of a neighbor, you'd rather deal with the man of the house than the woman.

The book Authentic Happiness says women tend to be twice as happy and twice as depressed as men.

Why Christianity Grows, and Judaism Falls

I read this ad for Temple Isaiah in the latest Jewish Journal: "If you let us know ahead of time, we'll make sure someone personally greets you and makes you feel welcome."

In other words, unless you make special arrangements at most synagogues, you will be ignored until you've been coming regularly for six months.

Also in the lastest Jewish Journal, Political Science professor Alan Fisher says that while Jews who join churches cite their friendliness as a leading reason, most synagogues give newcomers the cold shoulder. "I cannot being to enumerate all the Shabbat morning (and Friday night) services I have attended where not one single person greeted me. The list includes at least 16 of the major synagogues in Los Angeles County - of all streams. Nor is it just Los Angeles."

How's The Light In New York City?

Heather MacDonald writes: It's been clear and white, sharply defining shadow and light, but you have to look hard to find it between the brick apartment buildings.

Joy Turns To Fear

I walk to evening prayers (mincha maariv) and spot a friend from shul driving by. He teaches karate during the summer and at Temple Beth Am during the school year.

Next comes Rabbi Yitzhok Adlerstein. When I recover from my surprise, I smile and wave. He smiles and waves.

I feel gratitude, joy, then later shame and fear.

I love good people but I hate it when I realize I don't measure up to joining them.

I pray. I see my rabbi and the neck he stuck out for me. I feel afraid.

A new Jewish year begins in three weeks. Time to repent.

Who's The Whore?

It's so hard to tell these days when even female lawyers dress like prostitutes. It used to be you could spot at a glance or a listen what someone's social status was (or at least you could in jolly old England).

So I'm walking down La Cienega Blvd near Guthrie and I spot three separate drunks sprawled against various walls, surrounded by broken liquor bottles. I support a return to prohibition.

To be plainer, to quote a couple of great British politicians, "I support votes for women, chastity for men, and sobriety for all."

The other day, I was driving down La Cienega Blvd, near Guthrie, trying to think about this week's Torah portion, when I spotted a long pair of shapely tanned female legs. On top of them was a white miniskirt barely covering white panties, a brief white top, and a fresh young blonde female face. She was holding hands with a brutish businessman-type about twice her age. They turned suddenly and entered a motel.

Now I want to know: Is she his wife? His daughter? His girlfriend? His whore?

I live in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood so I'm not used to discussing such worldly matters. I fit in here like ham with eggs. I like to go for frequent walks because they are wholesome activities that can discharge the drives that frequenly plague a spirited young man like myself.

As I stride about in my Klondike Klodhoppers, listening to Dennis Prager on the radio through my walkman, I frequently spot a tall pale bleached-blonde woman in her thirties walking to no good purpose. She does not appear to be an organic part of my neighborhood. She looks like a whore. She walks quietly but with purpose and engages in no conversation with neighbors. She gets in and out of the cars of various gentlemen and appears to engage in acts of negotiation with them. Is she a whore?

I don't like whores in my back yard.

Robert writes: I was just reading about a book on "whores" at Amazon.com --- and then I turn to your blog . . . . Have a look at what I'm talking about. I read the "Look Inside!" of said book and I have to agree with the following [Athens] reader-review -- it captures my basic assessment.

Sex-Ploytation: How Women Use Their Bodies to Extort Money from Men

From the Publisher: "The central thesis of the book--that women are nothing but prostitutes preying on the hard work and sexual vulnerability of men--has hit the target dead on. It's all true, every guy knows it--but you're not supposed to say this stuff!"

A reader from Los Angeles writes: Of course it's true women use their bodies to get money from men. What else are men good for besides their wallets? Love? I have a dog. Companionship? I have friends. The best part is, you get the most out of a guy when he THINKS he's going to get sex, so you can string him along until he wises up and then ditch him for the next sucker. You'd think most guys would have bought a clue by now, but even this book won't help. They'll still fork out cash just to have a girl look at them. Of course I won't be able to play this game once I get too old, but then that's what alimony is for.

A reader from Athens, Georgia, writes Amazon.com:

1. If a man acts like a jerk, he is a jerk. Except if he has a lot of money; then women consider him a "challenge".

2. Women are not interested in finding a true loving partner; they are only interested in finding a free ride through life, financed by a man.

3. Women are raised to essentially use their bodies as a bargaining tool.

This is risky stuff to put in print, and although Fitzgerald is not a very skilled writer, I feel this book is important because someone has to fire a salvo in retaliation for years and years of books and TV shows which claim men are the ones doing everything wrong.

A reader from San Diego, CA, writes: The central premise of the book is that women are dishonest prostitutes, and that dating and marriage is nothing but legalized prostitution - with men paying for and suppporting women in exchange for sex. We all know that the only thing we really want from women is sex, but, once again, we're afraid to say that in mixed company for fear that we will lose access to sex. The author is right when he says that you'll feel much more in control if you vow to never pay for sex again. Or at least, if you are going to pay for it, do it with a real prostitute. The sex will probably be more fun, there will be less emotional brain damage involved and it will be considerably cheaper than what a wife costs.

Luke Ford says: I do not share the boorishness of many of the above comments. I only publish them to draw attention to the plight of women in a sexist patriarchal capitalistic society that holds them down and rapes them. Intercourse is only rape with longing glances. I believe women should be placed on a pedastal, in a hall of fame.

'Don't Write About That On Your Blog'

Fortified by a big bowl of cheerios, two mangoes and some soy milk, I arrived a mile from the 18th Street Artists at 6:45PM Wednesday 9/10/03 and parked. For ten minutes in my van, I read a book on happiness by an Orthodox rabbi. Then I walked to the LA Weekly party, fearing there were going to be publicists with bouncers who'd have lists and I would not be on them.

There was no need to fear. I was welcomed in by organizers who wanted my contact info so they could invite me to future parties.

For most of the night, those around me said, after relating something juicy, "Don't Write About That On Your Blog! It would cost me income/career/friends/job."

Most of the crowd is dressed like slobs. I figure it is because most of them are from Santa Monica, and such lefties take it on as a religious value to dress like a slob. As for me, I'm wearing my black jeans and the same wild blue shirt I wore to an art opening Thursday night, where I also saw Amy Alkon and her boyfriend Greg and Cathy Seipp.

I tease Cathy that she wore the same dress Monday night (a projection of my own guilt at repeating clothes). I'm set straight.

Cathy, Elana Roston (Calendar editor at the late New Times Los Angeles), her friend Ethan (formerly of ojr.org), Bruce (copy editor at NTLA) and his lovely wife Sharon, and company share stories of the late Marnye Oppenheim and how she had a fabulous figure and loved to get naked.

Cathy: "I like a girl who likes to get naked."

I am religiously and morally appalled at these sentiments and do my best to stamp them out. During a time of moral confusion, I must stand up and speak.

Nobody listens.

I hear an unpleasant anecdote about see New Times editor Rick Barrs naked in a hot tub.

I hear speculation about looking at (Irish red-nosed drunk) Michael Lacey, owner of New Times, naked.

Matt Welch arrives and he keeps kissing his wife Emmanuelle Richard. "One time with tongue for Luke," says Matt.

He's on salary at reason while Brian Doherty writes a book on Burning Man.

We discuss holding an LA Press Club after party in my van this month. We'll drive around and pray to God we don't crash.

Cathy: "If the van's rockin', don't come knockin'."

I hear an unpleasant anecdote about a 400-pound man and his male lover.

Elana: "Cathy, are you homophobic?"

Cathy: "No, I'm fat phobic."

Elana tells me not to write about her.

The food and drink is good. Cathy has two glasses of white wine and chips and dip and more Mexican food. She's as happy as a German in Paris with the freebies. I don't eat or drink anything because I don't trust the kashrut.

Cathy claims her lizard tattoo on her arm is a temporary one, and I'd be inclined to believe if she didn't also claim that her tongue and ------- piercings were also temporary, and "protests against the stifling of dissent by Attorney General John Ashcroft."

I don't see any LA Weekly people except for cartoonist Robbie Conal. He gives a long speech and shows his loathsome cartoons (Nicaraguan Sandinistas and Castro-supporters would love them). Lefties all around keep shushing us so Conal can show and tell about more of his rude cartoons. Conal sells and signs tons of books with repulsive drawings of Republicans.

Amy Alkon writes Cecile du Bois: "Luke just fantasizes about RUNNING a Jewish nunnery, then testing his charges to see if they can be lead into temptation. Wait, maybe I shouldn't give him any ideas. I can already hear him deciding it's a noble cause."

I don't know why your wife called me

Hispanic Comcast repair man on a roof outside my door at 2:53PM, yelling on the phone: "I don't know why your wife called me. How did she get my number? Homie, how did you get my number? Jerry, is it my problem she calls me for your brother? I got nothing to do with your lady. You deal with your own problems. I have my own f---king problems with my old lady. Don't be starting with me like that. Talk to me like a man. That's your wife. You stay with your wife. I've got my own life to live."

Employee gets off the phone and talks to his fellow employee: "This is my ex-roommate. I used to date his wife. He's tripping man."

Boring Old Tim Rutten So Wrong He's Interesting

Dennis Prager described today's LA Times Tim Rutten's article as "surpassingly ignorant, wrong about everything...moronic...dumb... The type of article I'd hand out to demonstrate the shallowness of liberal thought."

Dennis points out:

* How does Rutten substantiate his claim that fewer than 25% of listeners to conservative talkshow hosts are women? I believe Tim Rutten told a lie. [Marty Kaplan has no idea where Rutten comes up with this stuff.] Rutten just hates the right wing so much he lies.

* Folks like Rutten and the leftist media are angry that there's a segment of the media, talkradio, that they cannot control, and people who have educations at leftist journalism schools (virtually all journalism programs are leftist).

* More men read newspapers than women.

* I bet my audience is half men, half women. I base that on my callers, emailers, letter writers, and the audiences where I speak.

* As for this gender gap. The news media harped on Reagen about it, but women ended up voting for him. This gap divides among married women and single women. Married women, particularly married women with kids, vote Republican. Single women, particularly single women with kids, vote Democratic. Single women, who don't have a man to look after them, look to the government to look after them.

* I bet the proportion of women reading The Nation, America's premiere leftwing weekly, is smaller than that of women listening to radio talkshows.

Rutten writes: That doesn't surprise media scholar [former Democratic party speechwriter] Martin Kaplan, who directs the Norman Lear Center at USC's Annenberg School of Communications. He suggests that "the anthropology of talk radio explains its predominately male audience. After all, when you listen to one of these shows, it's all about screaming and chest thumping — sort of like what you see in those studies of the great apes. Think of the host as the silverback: He screams and thumps his chest, and the listeners call in to emulate him.

"That's not a mating call," Kaplan says wryly, "it's a macho dominance game. In that sense, talk radio is no longer much different than the sports call-in shows, which use knowledgeability of the game as a kind of male bonding ritual."

Dennis interviews Marty Kaplan, who he's known a long time and Dennis says is a good guy.

Dennis asked him for talkshow hosts screamers and chest thumpers:

Dennis: No.

Hugh Hewitt: Sometimes.

Michael Medved: Yes.

Sean Hannity: Yes.

Larry Elder: Yes.

Laura Ingraham: Yes.

Dennis: I'd agree that Michael Savage and Ann Coulter are chest thumpers. Not Laura Ingraham. I haven't heard Rush Limbaugh in years. Having a point of view does not make you a chest thumper.

Marty says that Phil Donahue is not a chest thumper. Maureen Dowd can be. Paul Krugman can be. Joe Conason can be.

Dennis: "I don't hear these [conservative hosts] guys as screamers."

Marty: "We have different thresholds of androgens and estrogens. When I listen [various conservative hosts], why are they screaming at me? They only say we're in this together and bad guys stay out."

Dennis: "I am not an entertainer. I am not here to entertain. I am to inform and change minds but I have to do it that entertains."

Marty: I don't see the difference. The people who pay your salary have as their primary purpose selling eardrums to advertisers.

[It so happens that Prager's employers are a Christian organization with an ideological agenda.]

Marty: I think all forms of discourse are being appropriated by entertainment, be it politics, journalism, education. That's irrespective of the content. That's true of The Los Angeles Times.

Dennis: If you draw no distinction between a comic book and the LA Times, the concept is useless.

Marty: If you can ask what do they have in common, opera and World Wrestling Federation, it will be illuminating.

Dennis: I don't agree.

Rutten writes: "First, of course, there's the fact that much of Schwarzenegger's recent celebrity is built around his career as a star in ultraviolent action films, whose audience overwhelmingly consists of young men. These are the sorts of movies most women forbid their younger children to watch on cable and scold their adolescent sons for renting."

Dennis says: There's nothing wrong with Terminator movies. They are cartoonish fantasies. Any woman who scolds her adolescent son for renting them is a fool. I like movies where bad guys get shot. I had my children watching The Lone Ranger at age six. But I bet Tim Rutten shares these negative feelings about Terminator movies while he probably has no problem with handing out condoms to kids in public schools.

LF says: Most talkradio hosts are not Conservative, they are not liberal. Many hosts like Howard Stern, Larry Elder, are libertarian. Tom Leykis is liberal.

On LA Observed, host Kevin Roderick describes today's Rutten column as "stimulating" because it agrees with Roderick's perceptions. Kevin has long written against the inaccuracies of talkradio.

Luke posts to LA Observed: Marty Kaplan is a moron. There's plenty of thoughtful non-screaming AM talk radio like Dennis Prager, Larry Elder, Hugh Hewitt, Michael Medved. Michael Parks of the USC journalism program told David Horowitz that there is not one Republican on the faculty, nor will there ever be, as any new hires have to be approved by the current faculty, who are all on the political left. Journalism programs normally lean left. As does Rutten and the LA Times.

As for AM talk radio being friendly to Arnold, I know that Dennis Prager has been openly skeptical from the beginning. The reason that talk radio leans right is that talk radio hosts have to defend their ideas. Liberalism is felt-through, not thought-through to quote Prager. Liberalism only thrives in arenas where its proponents do not have to defend themselves, as in the news media and academia.

Rachel writes LA Observed: Why do we keep hearing from Marty? Yes, he was a speech writer--for the most boring guy in the history of American politics. His track record at Disney wasn't anything to brag about, either. Talk about failing upwards. but the LATimes has his number on speed-dial, and he's quoted at least once a week.

I Was The Fifth Wiggle

Dave Deutsch writes: Luke Ford's hidden past comes to light in an upcoming episode of VH1's Behind the Music! Luke was the Fifth Wiggle!

That's right, children's tv stars The Wiggles are the most important Aussie cultural import since Yahoo Serious' brief career brought the curtain down on America's 1980's infatuation with all things down under. What many many people don't know, however, is that the fab four used to be a fab five, before they jettisoned founding member and creative force Luke Ford.

According to Greg Wiggle: "We were all supposed to bring something special to the table. I was the cute one, Jeff was the silly one, and so on. Luke was the smart one, and he really made it work. A lot of our early hits were his work--nobody could write a song about sunshine happy days like him. He really provided a depth and insight that other kids groups didn't have."

That same introspection, however, would prove to be Luke's downfall--and he almost took the Wiggles with him. "Things took a turn for the worse once he got into the Jewish thing. Don't get me wrong, I'm not antireligious or antiJewish--don't confuse me with Mel Gibson. But we were a kids group, mate, and suddenly, instead of singing about sharing and cleaning up, he wants to do numbers about angry gods smiting the Amalekites. It was creepy. And he almost destroyed the group. This one time we were playing a party for the kid of a bigshot in the music industry, and Luke breaks into this rant about the evils of Progressive Judaism. We had a lot of explaining to do after that."

Still, their devotion to Luke kept him in the band, for a little while longer. But when Luke became obsessed with Australia's immigration policy, they couldn't turn a blind eye any longer.

As Greg Wiggle explains: "Suddenly, he was like the spokesman for "White Australia." We were playing at a park in Melbourne, and he suddenly announces to the crowd that "all Chinese and Malays should get out of the park, and out of Australia." That was it. We bounced him from the group. He was bitter, but what could we do? That's when he got into the porn..."

To find out what happened next, watch VH1 Behind the Music--The Wiggles

John Connolly's Coming To Town

Emmitt writes: He's coming to town. You don't know me, asshole, and you don't want to know me. But your s--- is solid, and from what I know of the piece that Connolly has cooking on Arnold Schwarzenegger, it's gonna be over for Arnold. Don't you have some kind of beef with Connolly? Aren't you a good Republican? Well, spread the word Connolly is coming. I heard him on a cell phone. HE's gonna have lunch with a madame on Weds (Heidi Fleiss?) and on Thursday he's gonna have lunch at Orso with somebody named Johnson, and I think he's gonna see Anita Busch. I want ziplocked mouths when Connolly is in town. Tell your people to shut the f--- up. You do me right, Ford, and I'll pay you back later.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's Campaign Spokesman Is My Old Friend Rob Stutzman

Rob and I worked on The Hillmen Messenger, the Placer High School student newspaper in 1983-84. He succeeded me as editor. When I last caught up with him (1991), he had gained about 40 pounds, was married with kids, and wrote conservative op/ed pieces for the Sacramento Union while working for a right-wing thinktank. He's an evangelical Christian.

Stutzman kept up many of the changes I brought to the paper. He was a more sane and more wholesome editor than I was. He's more of a team player and his personality is more even-keel than mine. He's a better employee and a much better spokesman.

I remember Rob, Chris and I went to a journalism workshop at St. Mary's in the San Francisco Bay Area for a week. One day, we took a field trip into town. I led Chris, and one other guy, but not Rob, down Broadway Street in search of sexual entertainment. I was given the knickname "Romeo." It was the first time I saw on film the real thing. But I didn't even get a hug from any of the girls at the camp.

JMT writes Luke: How do you stand on this recall business, anyway? I was going to vote against the recall, on the grounds that it's really nothing more than a hijack of a lawful election, but I'm so incensed that Davis just signed the bill that lets illegal aliens get drivers licenses that I think I'll vote pro-recall. Not sure which candidate to vote for though; probably Ueberroth.

Luke says: I support the recall as a legitimate tool for partisan politics. I loathe the Democrats (without loathing Governor Davis any more than any other Democrat). I blame the Democrats for California's problems rather than Governor Davis. I welcome the opportunity to place a Republican in the Governor's mansion without any illusion that will do a lot to fix the state's problems as long as voters select a Democratic house and senate. I will reluctantly support Arnold Schwarzenegger. I think he's a nominal Republican, like Richard Riordan. I prefer a Tom McClintock or even Peter Ueberroth, who's dropping out.

Sex and Judaism

Cecile du Bois writes: Dear Jewish World, Why is it that most of the girls on my retreat weren't interested in Judaism but instead liked to fantasize about guys "pulling out" of them and flavored condoms. Why is it that the only way to lure Jewish youth to be involved is with progressive kindergarten games? Is it because I'm a geek? Are Jews culturally sexual? Is it acceptable for them normally to be obsessed with the opposite sex and hook up with each other, even if they're the same sex? But on the other hand, I did have a fab time at the retreat with a fellow new friend who is like me except more religious. We discussed heatily the differences between observant and religious and Jewish and secular.

Luke says: American Judaism does not live in a vacuum, particularly not the Reform branch to which you belong. American culture is satured with sex as entertainment, sexual pleasure as an important value in itself. Ergo, it is best for you to go to an Orthodox day school and lead an Orthodox life because we're truer to the Torah and consequently less sex obsessed.

Has Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez Killed The LA Times Latino Initiative?

I attended the Media Bistro party at Santo Coyote, a near restaurant and bar at 9010 Melrose Blvd. About 50 media professionals showed up.

Nicole Dorsey, West Coast editor of Fitness magazine, served as host. She wore a blue miniskirt and had long brown legs.

I saw a familiar face - Arlene. I met an eccentric character in a hat, a beard and an ever-present and frequently drained beer, Rick, who hosts a show Saturdays on KPFK called Cyberworld.

I talk about Alisa Valdes-Rodridguez - a terrific writer and a lousy journalist, prone to fabricating things and throwing temper tantrums. Before she went to the LA Times, she applied at the Orange County Register. The Register called her former employer, the Boston Globe, and found out she was an unreliable reporter and an unpleasant person.

Alisa went to the Times, where she was a handful. She stirred up trouble with Woody Harrelson in a humorous portrait of him in Cuba. Woody repeatedly called the LA Times Calendar editor, wearing him out. Woody claimed that Alisa did a hatchet job on him because he wasn't attracted to her. The editor wearily agreed.

After Alisa flamed out, some perceive the Times as diminishing its commitment to affirmative action and to covering latino issues. The Times dropped a latino columnist and replaced him with Steve Lopez.

Kevin Thomas, the Times second-tier movie reviewer, deserves his own profile. He's loud and obnoxious, prone to throwing temper tantrums, and folks at the Times can't stand him.

I hear David Shaw ran up a $20,000 expense account on one lengthy profile of a wine baron.

I spot the ex-wives of Jerry Lazar talking to each other - Cathy Seipp and Rochelle Levy.

"Anything juicy?" I ask. There's silence.

Jerry Lazar has a story in an old issue of Oui magazine.

I would've liked to have overheard that conversation.

Cathy said goodbye and left at 8:45PM.

I hear Gil Cates, who runs the Oscars show, repeatedly called Calendar editor John Montorio, who kept putting him off. John eventually invited Gil to a party but ignored him. Gil finally realized that John didn't recognize him.

John is derided at the party as a second class hack who failed at the NY Times. He's derided for being so polite.

Brian writes LA Observed:

Kevin, this event also appears to have been more stealth than usual. A number of mediabistro.com L.A. party regulars who usually are on top of the local social calendar had no idea about it.

As far as no PR flacks at the party, perhaps the renewed success of the LA Press Club events has created some heat about mediabistro's perceived lower rung crowd. Although I am told publicists are often among the more talkative attendees parked at the cash bar.

The second person I spoke to at Santa Coyote was the restaurant's publicist. Even though I despise the profession as the enemy of good journalism, I find publicists generally about the nicest group around. I noticed a lot of brochure writers among the MB crowd.

Just Show Up

Throughout my life, I've been asked to stay away from certain events.

Chaim Amalek writes: I suggest that you just show up. Your mission in your kehilla is to mix things up, just like Jesus did in his. By the way, how many shrinks have you had in your life?

Luke: Five to ten, give or take a few.

Luke & Kevin On Blogging

Matt Welch writes for the Columbia Journalism Review.

Kevin Roderick writes on LA Observed: Writing for an audience that is not primarily other bloggers, and some who don't visit many websites of any kind, I get a lot of questions about the form and its origins.

I reply: Kevin, as I read your first few sentences, fury arose in my breast at your self-righteousness and drove me to my keyboard. Then I realized you were fair. Your website does distinguish itself from other blogs by its quality and commitment to journalism. As Matt says, 90% of them are crap, and that includes mine at times. Cheers.

Kevin replies: What's self-righteous about saying that most people who come here don't blog, and that many of them ask me what blogs are? Seems like a straight recitation of the facts, and a good set-up for why Matt's story would help them.

Luke replies: You weren't self righteous, Kevin, you were only fair and accurate. "Blogger" is not a term of repute. Hence, all those who can be called "blogger" are insecure and quick to take offense at those who also blog yet appear to be above the typical blogging crowd (i.e., not primarily writing for other bloggers). Most of the time when someone such as myself throws out "self righteous" as opprobrium it means that the object of my wrath holds to higher standards than I do, and that I know this, and that I resent this.

Sex in the City - Substitute For Wit?

Heather MacDonald writes: Saw my first dose of Sex and the City last night on video. Clever writing, but horribly explicit sexually, which I always think is a substitute for wit.

The NYT has the most pathetic op-ed today on the show Can't they EVER do anythying against type--do they HAVE to run a piece complaining that it isn't feminist enough, and I'm sure they ran the same piece three years ago.

Dances With Heather MacDonald

Heather the Atheist writes me after reading a book review (Alan Wolfe's "The Transformation of American Religion" (Free Press, 309 pages, $26)) in the Wall Street Journal: "I think burning infidels at the stake is a pretty good test of the vitality of a religion. I so enjoyed the spectacle of all these white Episcopalians suddehnly dumping the revolutionary vanguard of People of Third World Color without a qualm in favor of white gays (referred to in the review). I thought, according to liberals like the Episcoplains, that Western whites were the source of all "bigotry" in the world? On what ground can these liberal white Anglicans shut out the opinions of noble oppressed Africans? That we are ethically more advanced? Less "prejudiced"? Let's hope they remember the moment the next time they're setting up a conference on De-Colonializing and De-Racinating the Silenced Other in the Discourse of Difference and Power."

From the review:

Mr. Wolfe argues that over the past few decades "strong versions of faith" have been "tamed" by the individualism, materialism and narcissism of American culture. Protestantism, Catholicism and Judaism have all become "more personalized and individualistic, less doctrinal and devotional." Denominational loyalties have withered away under an epidemic of religion-switching, and both the dogma of sin and the practice of proselytizing have been slain by the shibboleth of "nonjudgmentalism."

"American faith has met American culture," Mr. Wolfe writes, "and American culture has triumphed." In fact, the triumph is so complete that the time is soon coming when Christians and Jews will share more with secular Americans than with their co-religionists in Africa and Asia. (Witness the fallout over the recent decision by the leaders of the Episcopal Church to elect their first gay bishop.)

As students of the jeremiad will recognize, this is the point in the sermon where the preacher is supposed to take up the mantle of the prophet, forecasting heaven-sent doom unless his fellow citizens get right with God. But when it comes to the capitulation of religion to culture, Mr. Wolfe is curious, not angry, and certainly not fearful of divine wrath to come. Indeed, he believes that the taming of religious zealotry may actually be a blessing in disguise.

Adam Parfrey Inspires The Idiots

I went to the Blum & Poe art gallery opening Thursday night at 2754 S. La Cienega Blvd. Famed designer Gregory Poe's brother co-owns the place. I ran into my friends Amy Alkon and boyfriend Greg, Debbie Gendel and husband Morgan. Then Cathy Seipp and Adam Parfrey arrived. I brought them drinks of ice water. Cathy wanted wine.

I ask Adam about his albums where he used mongoloid children to sing backup. He says one of the albums, by the group The 'Tards (particularly the song 'I am just like you'), inspired the Lars Von Trier movie The Idiots. Adam says he gets emails from Lars wanting permission to use Adam's book Death Scenes in a movie.

The gallery was filled with arty people. I did not recognize any of them.

My group went to dinner afterwards at The Brazilian Cafe on Venice Blvd. I tried to park on a side street. There was no space. I noticed an old couch taking up space on the street beside a fire hydrant. I parked, blocking traffic, flung the couch on to the grass, and parked by the fire hydrant.

We walked to the restaurant. I got the guilts and saw I could park on the other side of Venice Blvd.

Everyone ate meat but my friend and I who sipped mango juice. A lifelong vegetarian, I asked the group if they ever consider eating their pets. I couldn't quite get the question out with a straight-face and burst into hysterical laughter.

I learn that Cathy Seipp rises at 6:30AM every weekday to cook breakfast for her 14-year old daughter and drive her 15-minutes to school.

Cathy suggests I rename my spiritual bootcamp "Why I am great and you suck."

Cathy says she's tried transcendental meditation but does not find it satisfying because it is not intellectual enough.

If she had been fully honest, Miss Seipp would've then listed off a dozen other physical activities (that most people get great enjoyment from) that she does not engage in because they are not intellectual enough.

Books are for losers, say Chaim Amalek and Darnel Dolomite. Let's get down and boogie!

I'm trying to pull my pelvis in and adopt proper posture so I don't look like I am pregnant and my friends don't rag on me about my 15-pound weight gain over the past three months. Bio-chemical solutions have their side effects.

Darkly attractive mystery writer Denise Hamilton brought over her home-baked apple pie Friday morning to the Seipp residence and the two old friends enjoyed a moment in the backyard a la American Pie.

Robert Appalled By Girls Kissing

Robert, a PhD student in political philosophy at Claremont, writes Laura Ingraham:

Dear Laura,

Your recollection of the more or less well-behaved ways in which girls interacted with boys certainly rings true for me -- that is, even for me, a male, now 32, looking back on his childhood.

One can only contemplate with astonishment at how children, merely fifteen to twenty years behind me, have been served nothing (and I do mean _no thing_) less than nihilistic propaganda. (Describing it as lewd and libertine wouldn't be quite generous!). I never remotely encountered this as a child. And I grew up in wacked-out liberal westside Los Angeles.

This dichotomy between what today's youth must endure and what I experienced as a child really hit home about five or six years ago. This, when I took in the movie _Kids_, a repulsive, so-called "real world" look at upper-middle class youth culture in New York City (where I also happened to be living at the time).

Little surprise that no other than Ms. arbiter of priapic, dionysian virtue -- Madonna -- was herself, if my memory serves correctly, one of the producers of the film. However, I do recall quite accurately that Madonna vocally and vociferously defended the movie during the premier.

A description of a real-life scene I witnessed two weeks ago offers a near perfect allegory -- and sad witness -- to what you describe in your E-Blast. An ordinary sunny Friday afernoon, I was sitting at Peet's Coffee at Santa Monica's charming & affluent Montana Avenue. Into the cafe walk two very striking, very pretty girls who couldn't have been a day older than sixteen years of age -- in fact, I thought they were certainly younger than this and was surprised to see them a few minutes later in a Mercedes sedan, one of them behind the wheel.

They essentially looked like more or less typical all American, prep-school sort of grirls --- very pretty with straight, naturally honey-blonde hair, athletic physiques, tan, wearing sweat-pant shorts (one was wearing the now ever popular sweat-shorts with the word "Juicy" over the -- ahem -- backside) -- basically they could have stepped out of a J-Crew catologue. Two years later and one could well imagine them doing, say, field-hockey at Middlebury College (my alma mater). But I dare say, that's not all they would be "doing."

My gaze followed them -- naturally enough! -- leaving the cafe, capuccinos in hand. I also noticed that as they strolled up the sidewalk -- a sidewalk next to the cafe whose floor-to-ceiling windows give an uninterrupted view -- they held each other's hand. They then kissed each other, walked a little further, stopped again. Now facing each other, kissed again. Now, one put her arm around the neck and back of the head of the other -- and they go at it. I'm talking French kissing. I couldn't believe it. I'm not making this up.

Of course, my "lower nature" was in awe of this and couldn't help but find it titillating. But I also know this this is totally wrong, morally, what they were doing -- whether in public or private, it doesn't matter. This is all part of the massive sexual confusion that kids today work under. When homo-sexuality is promulgated as just another "life-style," the distinction between the sexes then becomes essentially _arbitrary_. And I can now see -- it's readily apparent -- what people mean when they say that same-sex marriage will have the effect of diluting the meaning -- let alone the occurence -- of marriage between man and woman.

Dave Deutsch replies: "Wait a minute, this Robert could imagine these two girls playing field hockey at Middlebury, but he's surprised that they're kissing one another? Not exactly the most perceptive observer of American culture, is he?"

Robert replies: "Mr. Deutsch, I'll hazard to say, has no idea of the connection, nor of the distinction, between "culture" and "civilization." Where does "culture" even come from? (Hint -- it's ultimately an emanation of the sort of laws a polity has -- law shapes "culture" {customs, mores, habits, convention, and most importantly, _politics_}to the same extent, in the same way as, nature imposes form upon matter). Also, why wouldn't -- or why _shouldn't_ -- any person be "surprised" by two attractive, young girls French-kissing each other publicly in a setting such as I described? (I'm hardly "surprised" by two girls kissing in porno flicks I've seen, back in the day . . . ). And what on earth does this have to do with not being a fair "observer" of contemporary American culture? What, that their outward, physical appearance resembles the typical Midd kid? (Which, yes, their appearance did). That I somehow "confuse" bisexuality and Middlebury students?? (What a crazy idea that would be). I think Mr. Deutsch hasn't a blessed clue as to what he's talking about."

Dave Deutsch replies: Uh, yeah, or perhaps I was noting the irony of his statement, insofar as girl's field hockey teams at liberal New England liberal arts colleges are exactly the sorts of places where one might expect to find stereotypical college lesbians. Thus, it was (apparently, unintentionally) amusing that he would contrast the seeming wholesomeness of the field hockey team at Middlebury with the "nihilism," (I believe that he used the word in this context, but I may be wrong, as he wrongly used the word "fair" in discussing my description of his powers of observation) suggested by the spectacle of the two girls kissing. Let's flip the genders, and it’s the equivalent of being surprised that "two clean cut, muscular young men--they could have been Marines--suddenly began kissing." There's nothing wrong with being surprised at two girls who don't happen to be participants in an erotic fantasy kissing--if it happened all the time, it wouldn't figure so heavily in erotic fantasies. There is something comical about saying two girls look like collegiate lesbian stereotypes, and then being surprised that they kiss.

I would agree with him that I lack a certain clarity regarding culture, given the way he defines it. I would say (and, for what its worth, my dictionary supports me) that culture forms the type of laws a polity has, and not the other way around. Culture is everything we do; it is the way we work, play, eat, sleep, screw, and legislate. He may choose to disagree with me, but I think he'll have to at least grant me that his definition is hardly universal.

Law follows culture, not the other way around. American culture is essentially hedonistic, and the history of American law demonstrates the slow but steady victory of that hedonism in the face of efforts to legislate it. Although some cultural forces in American which oppose hedonism have periodic victories (the 18th Amendment), the majority of the evidence points to the defeat of those forces, as blue laws fall, as courts accept the legitimacy of explicit sexuality and violence in the media, as the 20th Amendment overturned the 18th, as the Supreme Court declares same-sex relations to be constitutionally protected, and so on. People still do drugs, despite the laws against it. Our culture is permissive, and our laws have followed suit. This may be one of those stupid interdisciplinary arguments that can have no winner because we're arguing different points. But while Mr. Robert may bring some abstract philosophical notions regarding culture and law, I, keen student of history that I pretend to be, must bring in the details of history to maintain my façade.

At any rate, please thank Mr. (and I hope, eventually Dr.) Robert for engaging me in intellectual intercourse. Narcissistic as I am, even I periodically tire of intellectual masturbation.

Good thing we're clear now on the field hockey thing (you see, Luke, it is possible to have a disagreement with somebody that doesn't end in excommunication or threats of bodily harm). Perhaps you should have informed him of your policy of publishing any scrap of writing that crosses your path.

As far as laws and law making goes, I was on the verge of agreeing, but I must qualify. They may be the expression of what a civilization considers to be good, but ultimately, they are only the reflection of the civilization itself, which in turn is merely composed of individuals. Men who loathe injustice and seek the welfare of their fellow man will produce just laws, men who seek only their own welfare will produce unjust laws. Ultimately, the laws themselves are less important than the culture that inspires them. The highest expression of what is good in a civilization (though not necessarily what it considers to be good ), is that it makes good men, not good laws.

Where did I ever agree to the central principle underlying "If there is no standard higher than the ideal of society, then we are totally unable to take a critical distance from that ideal." I'm not a moral relativist; I'm a Torah Jew. There most definitely is a standard higher than the ideal of society, and that is God's laws. When did I say that "principles are justified by the fact that they are accepted by society?" That's wholly contrary to my view on the world, and I don't even know what I could have said that would have led him to believe otherwise. When I speak of "good men," I am speaking of "goodness" in terms of what God deems goodness (or, to be more intellectually honest, what I fervently believe God deems goodness). I say many stupid things, and I don't mind being corrected for them, but I never rejected natural law, nor took those other positions that he imputed to me.

Cathy Seipp writes: "Dave Deutsch rules, Handsome Bob drools."

Spiritual Bootcamp With Your Moral Leader

The Days of Awe are almost upon us. Is your soul feeling ragged? Could you use some spiritual exercise? We have the cure! LF.net presents SPIRITUAL BOOTCAMP, led by “YourMoralLeader.com.”

What better way to face those long days in synagogue than with a clear focus and a new attitude? Join Luke in his hovel as he guides us in the search for inner transformation by weaving together Torah, Internet parables, adult fables and stories from his life. It can change your life!

Luke is the author of a highly acclaimed book on film history and is beloved throughout LAObserved.com. He is the spiritual leader of the Los Angeles Press Club and director of Makor Or, a center for Jewish Meditation. Wednesday, September 17, 2003 7:00pm. Stay after the program for refreshments to bring in a sweet new year. For more information, or to RSVP, Email Luke. The price of admission depends on the supplicant.

The Fire Commissioner Khunrum writes about Luke's hovel: "Occupation by more than two persons is a hazard and strictly forbidden. "

Also planned, a spiritual field trip to catch the movie The Holy Land, which I have not seen: "He's a young rabbinical student restless to learn about the real world. On the advice of his slightly demented teacher, Mendy visits a brothel in Tel Aviv so he can be rid of his "madness" and return to his studies. There he meets Sasha, a 19-year-old Russian prostitute, whose dire situation and immense beauty captivate him. But Mendy's world really opens up when he discovers Mike's Place, a real-life magnet for the lost souls who flock to Jerusalem."

Chaim Amalek writes: Coming from you . . . this is sooooooo gay. Why not include instead sidebars based on Tales of the Goanim [great rabbis], a cartoon that runs in the weekly Jewish Press? Think out of the box, Luke. If you are serious about doing this book, include unconventional features like cartoons to illustrate certain key features. The tone should be more "Private Parts" by Howard Stern than something by Henry Kissinger.

Another Plodding Article From R.J. Smith

Month after month, I plough through the media articles by R.J. Smith in Los Angeles Magazine, hoping to learning something. I almost never do. Smith never breaks stories, uncovers new facts, or delivers insights. He does compose easy-to-read clip jobs with a handful of sneers at the right thrown in most months. This week he serves up LA Times editor John Carroll who's supposedly a good guy at a good newspaper. Yawn.

Los Angeles Magazine is a 99% dull read with an occasional brilliant moment thrown in by Amy Wallace.

Wednesdays With Lukey

Mark Cridland writes: Interesting morning for your site. Prager's propensity for Elmer Gantry-ish panic over public depictions of sexual border-crossing clashes badly with the head-in-sand housewife you describe two kilobytes later.

I've enjoyed the Prager show for ten years. But Prager's pomposity is not an incidental part of his nature, nor a forgiveable ying to the yang of his wisdom. It's a gaping, snaggle-toothed maw in his appreciation of the human heart. People who don't listen to him as carefully as you (and I) do can feel it right away, and are rightfully dismissive of him.

Your friend Holly was... allowed to enter adulthood with some pathetically childish ideas about masculine nature. Last week on TV, Madonna and Britney gave naive teen girls something to talk about the next day at high school. And you can bet those girls heard the guys on the football team talking about it too. Those girls will realize it in a sub-verbal way: The Boys don't feel the same way we do about this stuff!

This is not the best possible method for spreading sexual sophistication, but some people are so cold that we should take it where we find it. MTV is more vulgar than naive, and naivete is the greater evil.

I've listened to a lot more Prager radio than Madonna music, but last week the Vulgarians far outscored the Elevated in delivering insight.

Britney Spears, Madonna, Destroy Western Civilization

Dennis Prager admits he lost his cool while talking with a listener about MTV. Prager says that channel is destructive.

At the MTV awards, Madonna and Britney Spears had open-mouth kisses, both in rehearsal and on stage.

Whatever society says is cool, people will do. Sexual orientation may be fixed but sexual behavior is not. We're polymorphouse perverse. When heterosexual men are in prison or on ships, they will often have homosexual sex.

Because society says homosexuality is cool, Britney Spears, a heterosexual, will share a lesbian kiss with Madonna, a bisexual. Now millions of girls who watch her will do the same.

I've always said Britney Spears is awful for this country. Even when she said she was a virgin, I said I'd much rather her sleep around privately and dress decently.

On private sexual matters, I have libertarian views. On public sexual matters, I have conservative views.

There's no doubt that homosexual behavior is increasing among heterosexuals. Especially women. Women want tenderness, caresses, and love.

Men fantasize about two women getting it on but women rarely fantasize about two men getting it on.

Jerusalem Bombing - Serenity Amidst Pain

Novelist Yoram Kaniuk writes: I've been thinking about this since the day the bus exploded in Jerusalem. The bus was packed with Haredim. Most of the casualties - the dead and the wounded, some of them critically - were Haredim or their children. If this type of tragedy had happened to secular Israelis, messianic Jews, members of the Chabad movement or Mizrahi Haredim, their cries of grief would have immediately sought out the guilty parties: the government, the bus company, the lack of security guards. And, of course, the usual cries of "Death to the Arabs" and the terrible and justified anger against the human agent that brought the tragedy down upon them. But the Ashkenazi Haredim do not hold anyone to blame.

Boobs vs Moshiach - What's My Priority?

RabbiAriel770: Levi put this in perspective. I just did two searches on google thru your site. One for word moshiach returns 13 results and another for word ....boobs returns 12 results. This is very wrong. I think it needs to be corrected asap. The word "sex" is mentioned ... 521 times 40 times more often then word Moshiach. The word porn 246 times. Rebbe 33 times. On the other hand Torah is mentioned 262 times which is not bad but still twice less often than sex.

Darnel Dolomite Is Not Frightened Of White Missy Cathy Seipp

Darnel Dolomite, a man of color, writes Cathy Seipp's blog: Never mind this chazerai about dating or cats or blogging. The big news out there is that Norman Podhoretz's seminal essay "My Negro Problem - and Ours" is available for all to read on lukeford.net. And read it you should! Props to Mister Ford for posting this hard to find essay. You never know what interesting thing he will do next.

Cathy replies: Mr. Dolomite, have you met Mr. Ford? You sound remarkably like him and I believe you would have a lot in common.

Darnel Dolomite responds: Miss Seipp, I have never met Mister Ford (Mustafa Pford, as we call him) and I am not he. In fact, I'm a brother from Brownsville -old school- who can dig where this Norman is coming from. Back in the day, we used to beat his kind like a drum. Then, when the teachers called a strike in their attempt to shame us, we taught them a thing or two about OUR problems. So I'm not your friend Luke. On the other hand, I often wonder if he hasn't made you up. For all I know, Luke just pretends to have friends like you to make friends with real folk. (How's that working out, bro?) [Cathy, if this is Luke, do you think any less of me?]

Boy, Are Some Women Naive

I don't believe that most secular women have a clue about male sexuality. I think religious women are wiser, because religion educates women about male nature (that the primary interest of any man in an attractive woman is sleeping with her).

I was chatting with secular Holly, a wife and mother of four.

Luke: "Does it bother you if your husband lusts after other women?"

Holly: "No, because I know he doesn't."

I fall off my chair. How could a woman be so naive about her man?

Luke, incredulous: "You know he does not lust after other women?"

Holly: "I know he doesn't."

Luke: "If he does not, then he is the only man on the planet."

Holly: "No. Lusting after other women. What's your definition?"

Luke: "He wants to have sex with them."

Holly: "No."

Luke: "Wow."

Holly: "We might be the only couple in the world, but I'm ok with that. I don't lust after other men."

As though men and women have similar sexual orientations (men lust for variety, women lust for intimacy with one man).

According to the old saw: A woman seeks one man to satisfy her many needs while a man seeks many women to satisfy his one need.

One thing Holly said is very true.

Luke: "How old were you when you first had sex?"

Holly: "I was 14. It was too early. I was looking for love in all the wrong places. When you're not given strong parental guidance and strong parental love and encouragement, you go looking for that in other areas."

Girls, Doll Yourselves Up

Now I love women as much, if not more, than the next guy. I go into graphic detail on my website about their looks.

It's just that I like my women in their place.

Tuesday evening, I drove to shul to get closer to God, not women. I walk to the Beit Midrash, where we normally say Mincha Maariv (afternoon and evening prayers). And as I got closer, a stream of chubby and plain women, largely dressed in sweats and lacking make-up, poured towards me. I gasped for breath and clung to the side of my shul. Then I noticed the small sign that said Mincha Maariv would be in the sanctuary Tuesday evenings to make room for Weight Watchers.

Which brings me to the discussion on Media News of working moms in journalism.

Here's Cathy Seipp's take:

One of the Romenesko letter writers complained that attractive women are treated better than unattractive ones in the newsroom. News flash: So are attractive men, who get away with just loads of crap. So are attractive people...EVERYWHERE...not only in newsrooms. We can't all be supermodels but that doesn't mean we're entitled to schlump around like lumpy grumps and expect people to look forward to having us around. So lose the weight and put on some lipstick! My mother used to say approvingly, whenever she spotted some plain but stylish woman: "She really does a lot with herself!" (And if she noticed someone with an unfortunate outfit: "She has NO BUSINESS wearing that with her figure/at her age/with that short waist/etc.") I guess that's kind of a '50s attitude but perhaps also a useful one, and well worth reviving, if you want to make life a little easier for yourself.

Luke/Darnel/Harvey the Big Pink Rabbit/Whoever: No, I don't think less of you, but I did almost order a ham sandwich at the Famers Mkt today in your honor. Hope you still respect me! Question: if Chaim Amalek and Darnel Dolomite got into a thumb-wrestling contest, who'd win? P.S. Hope you've recovered from the trauma of encountering all those makeupless, sweatpant-clad women at your shul...

Luke Ford is the Midge Dector of the 21st Century

Chaim Amalek writes: "Kudos to Luke for posting a link to Norman Podhoretz's famous 1963 essay, "My Negro Problem - and Ours". What a great idea! This essay has been otherwise unavailable on the web (except for a price, naturally) until this morning. Be sure to read it, before the limitations of the First Amendment become too obvious."

Fred Nek writes: Podhoretz is a nut. I can see immediately why Chaim liked this essay. If Dr. Pierce's group posted a synopsis of this piece on his website, I would react by saying, "oh, come on. Nobody advocates miscegenation as the solution to America's racial problems." Now I would say, "Oh, come on--the folks in this camp are few and far between." Well, Chaim, do you agree with this guy? Should all racial and ethnic groups cease to exist and simply miscegenate?

Chaim writes: There actually is a group here in New York that advocates the elimination, not of the black race, but of white racial identity and cohesion. It puts out a magazine called "Race Traitor". I've been to one of their meetings, at which a certain rotund gentleman stood up to urge the obliteration of the white race through miscegenation. The audience didn't seem to know how to react to this suggestion (these were hard-core white lefties, who favored obliteration through "education" and "political action").

The value of the article is not in its advocacy of miscegenation (which does have some novelty value), but in the visceral honesty with which it addresses certain topics that are even more taboo today than they were when the essay was written forty years ago.

(Luke, don't let this opportunity pass you by! Post notices across USENET that you gone done it and posted the essay.)

Fred writes: Visceral honesty? Come on. The author assiduously avoids the magic question.

In any honest rational discussion of a problem, one generally asks: "What is the cause of this problem?" Well? What is the cause?

Podhoretz identifies at least one part of the problem as arising out of the fact that blacks and whites behaved differently. He basically says that blacks tended to act more criminally and less academically, and at least from his standpoint, that was the origin of his biases. He then advocates eliminating the distinction between blacks and whites by miscegenation. That implies that there is something about black behavior that is substandard and cannot be corrected by any other way.

Could it be that he thinks that blacks inherently exhibit these behavior patterns, and they cannot be corrected in any other way than by altering the gene pool?

I think that a great deal of amusement can be generated by going to meetings of far out political groups, and passionately advocating completely bizarre solutions to the problems that they rail against. Maybe going to a socialist nut group, standing up in the middle of their meetings, and demanding that we do away with money. Any other ideas?

Norman Podhoretz: My Negro Problem And Ours

Yetzer 'Izzy' Hora: Have you begun to use your camera to photograph Christian girls in their shame?

Luke: no

Yetzer 'Izzy' Hora: Here is how you can be a hero: one of the most important documents of neoconservatism is nowhere to be found on the internet.
Yetzer 'Izzy' Hora: "My Negro Problem - and Ours" by Norman Podhoretz, published in the Feb. issue of commentary magazine and reprinted in Paul Berman's "Blacks and Jews", as well as "The essential neoconservative reader" by Gerson

Yetzer 'Izzy' Hora: But the only electronic form on the internet is one available for $2 from commentary mag. If you posted it, all manner of important intellectual would go to your web site to read it.
Yetzer 'Izzy' Hora: And even if their jewish lawyers made you take it down, just think of the free pr you would get until then, and all for just two dollars!
Luke: but it would be theft
Yetzer 'Izzy' Hora: You would be a hero to the blog community
Yetzer 'Izzy' Hora: No more so than 99% of the rest of your web site.
Yetzer 'Izzy' Hora: Even posting it for a small time would win you the admiration of countless smart people and their camp followers. L

Yetzer 'Izzy' Hora: It is much sought after on the web. I know, I've looked there and on USENET
Yetzer 'Izzy' Hora: He wrote a followup piece in 2003, but it's the original one that is sought after, the one where he talks about how he is uncomfortable about the Negro because when he was a kid, they would beat the crap out of him all the time
Yetzer 'Izzy' Hora: Same sentiment you hear from Howard Stern.
Yetzer 'Izzy' Hora: This will makeyou more of a hero, and a talked about man, than anything else you have posted on lukeford.net.
Yetzer 'Izzy' Hora: Be sure to tell your blogger friends that they can read this essay on your website. You will become the most buzzed about man of the internet

Yetzer 'Izzy' Hora: Don't you want to be the center of buzz amongst the cognitive elite of LA? Yetzer 'Izzy' Hora: I promise that even here in New York, attention will be paid to the FIRST man to post that essay on the web for all to see it!
Yetzer 'Izzy' Hora: You will be to intellectual jews what Napster was to slack-jawed slackers downloading their stupid pop tunes.

Yetzer 'Izzy' Hora: Now KEEP that link up there, WRITE about it, let the bloggers know what you did, that while THEY write about their cats and the stupid parties they go to that I would too if I got an invite but I never do, that YOU were exploring the roots of neoconservatism.
YOU want to know if Palestinian children are being oppressed today because Norman Podhoretz was oppressed by negro children 60 years ago.
Even Jim Goad will be proud of you for making this important work available to the masses. But please, get it scanned in and proofed!

What makes this essay especially fascinating is that it dates from just before the explosion of black crime/race riots of the 60's.

Journalism Memoirs

Matt Welch suggests: If You Have Lemons, Make Lemonade Warren Hinckle

Mid-Century Journey William Shirer

Paris Herald: The World's Greatest Newspaper Al Laney

The Last Editor Jim Bellows

California Editor Thomas M. Storke (you probably wouldn't like it -- stuffy memoir from editor/publisher of the Santa Barbara News-Press from the first half of 20th century; really good for a flavor of California history)

Fear & Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 Hunter S. Thompson especially when read with Boys on the Bus Timothy Crouse (Thompson is the master of using first-person, autobiographical writing to tell stories much larger than memoir. (He's also a master of language, and of the period '62-74). Crouse was tagging along, documenting how the press covered the '72 presidential campaign. Fantastic stuff)

Travels With Myself and Another Martha Gellhorn

(I forget the name of the book, but it's a haunting Vietnam war memoir) Jon Swain

You should e-mail Howard Owens (howardowens.com) -- he's a journalist, and has a terrific collection of journalism memoirs. Tell him what you want it for, etc., and he'll help you out.

My Friend Bob Blogs

Walking home from shul, my friend Bob Goldfarb told me he was starting a blog. It's on ArtsJournal.com. Here's an excerpt:

The mass media have trouble when it comes to reporting on religious issues. For one thing, few daily journalists have the necessary preparation--they work in a profession that places a premium on being able to jump from the state house to a war zone to the culture desk, and has less regard for in-depth immersion in a specialized area like religion. For another, editors see a secular point of view as the equivalent of a nonpartisan stance in politics--it’s the implicit point of reference in any discussion of the subject.

Moxie Cover Story

In the latest issue of Black Book Magazine, Moxie writes the cover story - an interview with Scarlett Johansson from Ghost World.

Luke Rants

Cathy Seipp writes:

I was sitting in the Farmer's Market this afternoon with my friend Gregory Poe, drinking an iced latte, and, since lunch with Luke was over, I may as well admit I had my feet up on a chair. (Feet up on chairs are among Luke's 5,000-odd pet peeves.)

A girl walked by with her pants cut so low I could swear I saw a bit of pubic hair, but maybe it was just a shadow. I made a mental note in case I ever start writing for women's mags again: Pubic-hair-revealing-pants -- a definite Glamour Don't.

Three fat, sour-looking women dumped themselves down at the table next to us. One demanded to take the chair occupied by my feet.

Luke replies: I told the Farmers Market was full of reprobates with the manners of Calcutta street people. You insist it is swell. I'd like to eat at a real restaurant. You want a place (Kokomos) where you admit that the quality of the food has been going steadily downhill. I'd like to go to a real restaurant where they serve you.

In my two experiences of Kokomos with Cathy, the service was good and the food tasted like rubber, including that famous Tofu scramble. Elizabeth Spiers is sometimes right.

So you hang around slimeballs. Then you do something slimey, you put your grody feet on a chair someone will want to sit on. How would you like it for people to put their shoes, probably covered with dog feces, on the chair you're going to sit in?

So it is a bunch of bad mannered people acting badly in the third world shuk called Farmers Market on 3rd and Fairfax. Where's a confused 80-year old driver when you need one?

Lulu writes Cathy Seipp: Much as I'd hate to put myself on Luke's side, I do think Farmer's Market is Ground Zero for the insane, or at least the undermedicated. Is there a shuttle between 3rd street Prom. and the Market?

Cathy writes: Oh, Luke, you're always trying to get on my good side. Lay off the party manners and relax!

Cecile du Bois writes:

Just like Mom's father (my grandfather) eh? He goes off into that rant mode sometimes, but he needs a blog. Not to disgust you, but the health rating on Kokomos is a B, whereas there are better restaurants in the Farmer Market with nonrubbery food and better service...like Du Pars, and Monsieur Marcel. It isn't a "Third World shuk" on weekdays, only on the weekends like Labor Day weekend. Unless you've tried better food than Kokomo, which you probably haven't because of kashrute and your strict diet, you really can't complain with reason. Why not invite Spiers to start a group blog with you called, "Fussbudget.com"? That'd be a laugh--your various peeves shared into a daily diary.

Luke writes to Larry Stammer, the horrible religion reporter of the LA Times: "Why do you never dig into the people you write about? You did a fluff job on [radical Reform] Rabbi Gann. There are so many other angles to look at him with that are not so flattering. You seem to give a free ride to lefties like Gann and the homosexual crowd."

Does anybody have the scoop on Larry Stammer? Why is he such a bad reporter?

Living A Year Of Kaddish

Friday afternoon, I cleaned up, fiddled with a new gadget, showered and walked to synagogue wearing my black suit. I felt in a mood of levity, profanity and hilarity.

I carried with me Ari Goldman's new book, Living aYear of Kaddish. From the first page I was hooked and my mood changed to the join of pain. I completely identified with the protagonist who'd just lost his father (mine is still living in Australia). Ari's Dad was distant, mocking and disaproving of Ari's choice of profession - journalism.

Ari has sought father figures all his life, as have I. He writes:

I befriended teachers, rabbis, and mentors who reminded me of him [father]. Once, speaking to an unhappily married male friend, Shira [Ari's wife] referred to "Ari's obsessive attachment" to older men. She mentioned my accountant, my cello teacher, my favorite editor, my favorite rabbi, my literary agent - all of them in their sixties, like my dad. The friend made a sudden and unexpected pass at her. When she rebuffed him, he said, "But Ari's having all these affairs with older men." He missed the point. My attachment was strictly familial.

Coming home from shul, I ate my Shabbat dinner alone and then settled down to finish the book in 90-minutes. I felt on the edge of tears the whole way. On the second to last page, they broke.

This is a beautiful moving book. Ari's best book yet. He describes his struggles with Orthodox Jews who condemn him for his secular journalism.

A couple of Ari's friends and fellow profs (Samuel G. Freedman and Stephen Fried) at the Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism contribute blurbs to the back cover.

Ari's first book had its moments. His second book was too predictable. The fresh parts were enjoyable.

Questions I must ask Ari:

What did you love and what did you hate about writing this book?
Have you had people challenge you - oh what makes your life so special?
How's your Judaism changing over the years?
How did you change over the course of the book?
How does one react to one's coreligionists who despise you?
Do you ever consider that your Orthodox haters are more authentic to the Jewish tradition than you?
What do you think about Dr Laura leaving Orthodox Judaism?
Have you read Lauren Winner's book?
Have you considered that a portion of Orthodoxy, your portion, has moved leftward, countenancing things Orthodox would never countenance? Trembling Before God, et al, role of women...
The situation with your daughter turning 13 and going over the mehitza. Orthodox is Orthodoxy and your feelings don't matter.
What are your thoughts on YU's new direction?
What do you think of Rabbi Avi Weiss's new yeshiva?
What do you think of the trend of therapeutic religion, whereby clergy become therapists and the whole religion is configured by individuals to serve them, rather than them serving their religion?
Does being a father help heal the wounds of not having as fulfilling a relationship with one's father as one would like?
What did it do for you to see that happy picture of your parents together?

Ari's book is far superior to Leon Wieseltier's book Kaddish, where he spends 70% of the content going off on arcane histories of the Kaddish prayer. There's no famous writer more in need of editing than Leon.

Adam Parfrey's Party

Feral House publisher Adam Parfrey throws a great party at his Silverlake pad Thursday night.

There is lots of food and drink on hand for the revelers.

Parfrey lives in an amazing multi-level complex created by a crazy man who used old boats for the materials.

Many of the guests expect Parfrey to be a freak due to the freakish nature of the books he publishes. Not true. He is the perfect host.

I feel one thing is missing from the gathering however - mongoloid children singing backup, just as they do in many of Adam's albums. Mongoloids at a party really liven things up.

The guests are writers, publishers, music industry folks and weirdos who appear to have stepped right out of Adam's books.

Dian Hanson, famous creator of such porn magazines as Leg World, walks up to me. She's tall, slender and beautiful, apparently in her late forties.

Dian: "Hi, I'm Dian Hanson."

That's a familiar name I thought. It took me a minute to place her.

Dian: "I can't say it is a pleasure to meet you because everyone I know in the business hates you."

I take that as a compliment though I don't think it is meant that way.

Since her beloved publisher George McVeety died, Dian's old company has been taken over by the New York Genovese crime family. She's since moved to Los Angeles where she oversees the publishing of various porn books. Do these books subsidize the publishing company as a whole? No, it is the other way round, she says. Because there's so much free porn on the Internet, people are loathe to buy $40 coffee table porn books.

Dian evinces zero interest in anything I have to say. She says that after 25 years in the industry, she feels entitled to say that porn stars are boring.

Luke: "Surely that's too broad of a generalization. Would you say that all lawyers are boring?"

Dian: "Yes. Lawyers are boring."

What she found interesting was calibrating her magazines to meet the perverse fetishtic desires of her males readers. She says Leg World had a far more sophisticated audience than Jugs magazine. Leg World readers were using computers back in the 1980s to write in with their desires.

Dian described my New York journalist friend Mark Kramer as an "asshole," perhaps because he wrote she had cellulite, which she admits she did.

I meet author Jim Goad for the first time (though we've talked on the phone and traded email for a year). He dresses like someone out of a 1950s high school. Jim seeks a more wholesome image.

I also talk to Matt Welch, Emmanuelle Richard, Amy Alkon and her boyfriend Greg, Cathy Seipp, Tom Christy from the LA Weekly, Tina from Doug Limont's production company, Ruth Shalit and her fiance Rob, and Richard Metzger, who's turned his Disinfo creation into a publisher house (it was a show on Britain's Channel 4 network for two years).

I stand outside chatting with Cathy. It's dark except for a blinding light when you look towards the door. I see two breasts marching towards me. I feel like Woody Allen in the movie Everything You've Always Wanted To Know About Breasts.

I see nothing but an intimidating bosom and it is headed straight for me. Finally, an imposing frame blocks the blinding light and I see that the bosom is attached to Amy Alkon. She's the only member of the LA Press Club I would dare writing about in this manner.

I wonder if as many as 25% of the crowd recognizes the huge painting of the late Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in the livingroom.

Josef Stalin murdered about 40 million.

The Sex Life Of Political Candidates

Kevin Roderick writes on LAobserved.com: "Now that the 1977 Oui story has been revived, there's a lot of commentary, mostly from Arnold friendlies, that a candidate's wild past sex life and drug use has become irrelevant. I hope so, but call me skeptical it would hold true for a future candidate who isn't also a movie star with a good chance to return a certain party to power. [And male.] If the Democrats are smart, they'll get as many Republicans as possible on the record saying that times have changed and it's now off-limits to delve into a candidate's past of orgies, being serviced by groupies and pot smoking."

Luke says: There will never be a time when a political candidate's past sex life and drug use is of no interest to the general public, and hence the media. How much interest will depend on the mores of the times, the personality of the candidate and his values.

Arnold never claims continence or other conservative values. Because conservatives by definition hold to standards in personal behavior (often religious standards like the Ten Commandments, or just traditional ones, such as heterosexual marriage and monogamous commitment), they will always be more vulnerable to attack. It's hard for a liberal to be attacked as a hypocrite for his personal sexual behavior because modern day liberalism holds to few if any standards in this area outside of legality.

Interview with Luke Ford

Cecile du Bois writes: Luke Ford, who usually profiles media figures such as directors, journalists and producers, agreed to an interview last night.

1. What was your favorite part of your childhood?

"It was eighth grade when I lived in Pacific Union College. I lived in the Napa Valley and my parents were in Washington DC and I got to stay with friends and I had a normal six months of school."

2. If you could take back one humbling event, what would it be?

"I was 15 years old and in love for the first time. I was swimming in the pool with my girlfriend. This little black boy was swimming underwater near us. I frolicked in delirious happiness with Rainy. Then the black boy surfaced and asked me loudly, "Why is your p---- sticking up like a lance?"

"My girlfriend squealed and swam away. I dunked the kid hard."

3. What was your life like fifteen years ago?

"It was 1988, August 27. I was staying with my girlfriend at her UCLA apartment sick with chronic fatigue syndrome on my way to Australia to live with my brother and sister…It was a hard time of my life."

4. What is your favorite food? If you had to eat one unkosher meal, what would it be and why? [He’s a fuss budget]

(laughs) "…My favorite food is Mexican. Probably tostadas with avocado, cheese and sour cream."

5. What is your biggest fear in life?

"Being ignored."

6. What do you plan to do when you are 75 years old?

"I plan on being involved with my Orthodox synagogue, listening to classical music and taking herbal supplements."

7. Out of all the objects you own, which is your favorite?

"My computer--without a doubt!"

Cathy Seipp writes:

Luke did answer Question No. 2 by email, about his most humbling moment, because it took him a while to think of a PG-rated anecdote. Considering what he thought of, I wonder what an X-rated one would be? It does shed a rather Freudian light on Luke's racial obsessions, though. He doesn't like to go to certain areas of town not because he's afraid of being mugged, but because he fears that small black children might point at his nether regions and announce...