Rabbi David Wolpe Speaks About His Seizure
A couple of weeks ago, after a speech, charismatic Temple Sinai Rabbi David Wolpe suffered a seizure. He spoke after services at Sinai Saturday morning. He said he had a brain lesion and he will undergo surgery in the next couple of weeks. After that, he will take time off work to recuperate.
Luke Ford on Recognizing Gay Anglican Archbishop in US - A Recursive Journey of Truth
Where does Luke Ford stand on this potentially schismatic event? Should practicing homosexuals be permitted to hold such high office? Where do the Hollywood Juden stand on this issue, given the intense hostility from the African Church to such anal shenanigans? And most importantly to your uncounted readers, where does Luke Ford stand? I'm not sure. Maybe I should ask Chaim Amalek.
Luke consults his Bible and reads that homosexuality is an abomination. Luke sides with his Bible. Any religion that takes the Bible seriously must not allow openly practicing homosexuals to hold high office.
Fred writes: It's interesting that western Christianity (at least the liberal mainstream Protestant version) is willing to go completely against the bible in deciding what is right and what is wrong. My original thought was that this is unprecedented. A direct and unambiguous order from God being dismissed as outdated.
Then it occured to me that there is one other time during the history of Christianity when this happened--when Christianity itself formed, and it was decided that commandments about eating pork, etc. could simply be ignored as having been superseded. What think you?
Bored Out Of My Mind
Archivists, librarians, and Los Angeles history buffs would've been in hog heaven Sunday afternoon at the Skylight bookstore on 1818 N. Vermont Avenue.
Driving from the west side brought back bad memories of when I worked as a temp at the Roman Catholic hospital on Vermont. The Catholic administrators were kind to me, the Filipino nurses were flirtatious and I had one budding romance with a Persian dietician but working as a secretary did not agree with me. I was born to write.
I asked the accountant sitting next to me in shul on Shabbos if he felt he was born to be an accountant. He said no.
I find the ethnic diversity bewildering as I drive east and at times frightening. But Vermont Blvd north of Sunset is a lovely place, filled with good looking young people.
I was loathe to leave my computer where I monitored the progress of the Dallas vs Washington football game but I told Cathy Seipp I'd be there at 4PM. I arrived 15-minutes late, and for the first time, she'd beaten me.
I sat beside her and a few minutes later her ex-husband Jerry breezed in with their daughter Cecile du Bois.
From the program notes: "Glendale College Prof Mike Eberts sets foot in Griffith Park almost every day of the year, and his landmark "Griffith Park: A Centennial History" reveals a complex and fascinating story, using the park as a mirror for understanding Los Angeles. Journalist Kevin Roderick chronicled his hometown and one of the nation's most well-known but misunderstood regions, in "The San Fernando Valley: America's Suburb." For "Holy Land: A Suburban Memoir," his powerful and poetic book about growing up in Southern California (notably, Lakewood, where he still lives) in the 1950s, DJ Waldie is the recipient of an NEA fellowship in Creative Nonfiction, the William Allen White Memorial Medal, the California Book Award and a Whiting Writers Award."
So I sit and listen to the distinguished panel. Mike Eberts's professorial manner reminds me of a Community College teacher, which he is. Kevin Roderick just radiates kindliness. He seems infinitely patient. He always thinks before he speaks. He almost always returns my emails. Mr Avuncular. Mr. Los Angeles Times. Mr Responsible Journalist. He's the opposite of Cathy and me.
Kevin, who lives in the Valley, gives DJ a ride home to Lakewood.
Roderick reminds me of the 19th Century Victorian Gentleman that Tom Wolfe writes about as the embodiment of establishment American journalist.
DJ is charismatic, fiery, colorful, and intense. Still, my mind wanders. The questions from the moderator are prosaic. How did you research your books? Kevin says he read everything he could on the topic. Big surprise. Mike says the same. Waldie, who considered becoming a Roman Catholic priest and is still obviously a man of God, says his book was more personal and lyrical rather than journalistic. He sees in Lakewood a metaphor for the body of Christ. Who doesn't? That's always the first thing that strikes me when I think of Lakewood (working class community at the bottom of LA county). Jesus Christ.
It's broadening for me to learn that land other than Israel can seem holy to the goyim.
DJ says his book was an argument. Kevin says his was journalism. Mike says his was an argument about land planning.
I get the feeling that all of Los Angeles would turn to porn without government oppression. That's a reason I am not libertarian.
The panelists say that LA newspapers until the 1960s were frequently racist and untrustworthy. The LA Times, in particular, liked to blame heinous crimes on homosexual communists of color.
Cathy asks a question - how can you know if a murder or suicide has occurred in your house? Kevin suggests Google as well as a search system on www.lapl.org.
I find it hard to keep my concentration on much of the panel discussion - all these elementary matters of research and how one uses computers to advance the process. I force myself to sit still when I want to wander around the store. Most of the topics discussed strike me as esoteric and only on occasion does something grab me.
Yet last Saturday night I was talking with Jill Stewart about the shameful paucity of book on Los Angeles.
Steve Smith found it all so fascinating: "Each of the panelists had written books about the neighborhoods they had grown up in, and provided fascinating tips on researching and developing leads into the study of local history. More importantly, they approach their subjects without resorting to cliches and stereotypes; there is much more to Los Angeles (meaning the region, not the city) than Hollywood, and although Chinatown is a great movie, it's worthless history."
How did you find the discussion of elementary research techniques fascinating? I could barely stay awake through most of the discussion.
Steve Smith writes Cecile: "It was a pleasure meeting you at the Skylight. BTW, who was that strange man you were with talking into a dictaphone afterwards?"
Cathy Seipp writes:
After the discussion, Cathy introduces me to her DJ, who she knows from Buzz magazine. Waldie also writes for the LA Times, particularly the Book Review and the Opinion section. I asked for the last book he reviewed. It was on solitude. DJ lives in the home he grew up in. He's lived alone for over 20 years, since his father's death in 1982. DJ wears his father's Fordham College ring.
I ask him when he last punched somebody. He says eighth grade.
Because of an eye problem, DJ has never had a drivers license. The MTA strike severely limits his mobility. He works as Public Information Officer for Lakewood. I ask him if that gives him the power to arrest us. He says no.
Does his experience of Orange County resemble the TV show OC? No.
DJ and Cathy grew up a dozen miles from each other.
Waldie and Seipp find my questions surreal.
I think the panel would've benefitted from some of my surreal questions, such as:
* Do you believe in God?
* Have you ever had sex with a black woman?
* Have you always been faithful to your wife?
* What's it like to be a Gentile?
That should've livened things up.
We could've played truth or dare.
* What's the shortest time between you meeting someone and ending up together?
* Have you had lustful thoughts about someone of the same sex?
* How many partners have you had?
* Have you ever been with a student or fellow journalist?
* Have you ever had an STD?
* Do you think you're good in bed?
* Do you have less respect for women who genuinely love sex?
* What's the dirtiest thing a girl's ever wanted you to do that you refused?
* Has a girl ever thought your lack of wood was her fault and been upset by it?
* Describe the most physically unattractive woman with whom you've ever been intimate (or wanted to be), despite objectively realising that she would not be desirable in the eyes of most people.
* Have you ever "shared" someone you genuinely cared about, in a threesome or other swinging-type activities? If not, would you?
* But when you say "girlfriend," do you mean someone you were in a committed and monogomous relationship with, or just someone you were having fun with?
* Would you respect a woman who sent you naked photos over the Internet?
* If you met a a nice girl, a virgin, beautiful and lovely and clever and just the one you've been after...would you stay with her even if she refused to have sex with you until you were married? Or would you run away from someone so good anyway?
* How could you respect a girl who told you her bra size on the internet? "Hi, I'm a 40F, don't you think highly of me as a human being?"
* Can you tell me about the first time you had intimate contact with a girl? What happened?
* Do you enjoy flat(tish) girls as much? I have always thought that, if I was going to be with a woman, she'd have to be very generously proportioned up top.
* Have you ever paid for sex? Would you?
The panelists almost shed tears over the destruction by time of Los Angeles historical records. I'm unable to summon up their sense of loss.
Independent book stores strike me as such economically desperate ventures. I feel a sadness when I walk into them, compared to the almighty Borders and Barnes & Nobles chains. And book readings and panel discussions are similarly sad affairs. I remember the one talk I was asked to give on my first book - a dozen people showed. Today's event attracts about 50.
The money I earned on my book compared to the time I invested works out to be about 5c an hour.
I follow Cathy Seipp home for a dinner of pizza (prepared in front of me by Cathy so I can make sure she doesn't use any ingredients I do not like), salad (spoiled by the oil and vinegar dressing) and rhubard pie. The three of us talk until 9:30PM. Cecile says her mom reminds her of Betty Davis, I of Cary Grant and she reminds herself of Shirley Temple.
I sing some of my favorite Air Supply songs from the late '70s while Cathy plays Australian folk singer Ralph Harris on the stereo.
Standing up to go to the bathroom after my eight cups of water, I spot a survey of world religions book under Cathy's heater. It symbolizes the place of religion in the Seipp household - to keep the heater from squeaking.
I tell Cathy that I believe that Nicholas Vance is Chaim Amalek, who Cathy thinks is me. Cathy is ticked. She finds Amalek repulsive but Vance kind, sympathetic, sensitive and learned. Shame they are all the same person.
I tell Cathy her dog Linda looks mangy. Her cat is 17 years old. Her grandfather is out chasing women, God bless him.
I hear Mickey Kaus, the great Mickey Kaus who I read and admired as a teenager and ever since, wonders how I can be so accurate with my reporting of parties if I don't carry a taperecorder around. On a handful of occasions, I've taken a tape recorder with me into a party and made notes aloud (never have I taped people secretly at a party). Usually, I leave the tape recorder in my car, and as soon as I get in after a party, I start putting down on the recorder, as I drive home, my memories of the party. Usually I carry pen and paper with me everywhere, and if something is particularly important, I make notes on the spot (often in the bathroom or a corner).
I stopped taking my tape recorder to parties because it whigged out too many people. I've also promised folks like Kaus that everything they say to me at parties is off the record. I've generally pulled back on my party reportage to let those around me feel more free. I can spot private folks like David Finnigan immediately and just know they don't want to be reported on at a party. Others, like Jill Stewart, are more care free and fancy foot.
I knew about the Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller story three days before it hit the news in the UCLA Daily Bruin but I held back on reporting it at the request of an acquaintance renewed at a party.
Cathy wants me to take home an extra piece of pie. No. I'm trying to lead a life of renunciation to coutnerbalance my past excesses. Best not to have that extra piece of pie, not literally or figuratively.
Cecile du Bois writes on her blog:
Cathy Seipp's sister Michelle gushes over me: "Oh, that charming malcontent, Luke Ford! What will that wonderful man say or do next? And he drives a van. Just like a rock star. Who likes ABBA. You know, the last time you spent this much time with a guy who drove a van that horrible you were in high school. What's the matter, wasn't John Wayne Gacy available?"
Luke Ford Must Submit To Me #2
Cathy Seipp writes: "OK, I know you didn't ask for my two cents, but I'm giving it anway: As someone who's worked with a lot of editors -- bad and good -- over the years, I can tell that Dave Deutsch is a very good editor, and he's not even charging you, so please listen to his suggestions and cut that thing down to 1200 words. (He's completely wrong about "Lost In Translation," though. It's a good film and I think you'd like it.)"
Dave Deutsch writes: Luke, have you ever read E.P. Thompson, or Herbert Gutman, on the topic of skilled workers in the early industrial revolution? Heartbreaking stuff. Here you have these artisans whose identity was inextricably linked with their status as master craftsmen, who set their own hours, came and went as they placed, took whatever breaks they wanted, and were respected figures in the community. Then come the factories, and they need to take jobs on the line, one cog in the machine, punching a clock, showing up on time, leaving on time, no more beer breaks in the middle of the day, and no more status. It is from this group that the Luddites arose.
Luke, right now, you are in the same position. You have been doing good work, but you've been doing your work. Now, I'm afraid, it is time to put down your tools, and take your place on the line. I need a 1200 word essay. What you sent was 4600 words of musings and memoir. This will not do. You are working for HeebCorp., now Ford, and you have two choices. You may become a Luddite, and simply throw your wrench in the works. Or you may accept that there is virtue in the act of labor itself, in making something beautiful and functional, even if it is not entirely of your design.
You need to write me an essay. I'm not trying to be patronizing--you have been writing longer than I have been editing, and I think I've made clear that I enjoy your work. But there is a difference between what you do on the website, which is essentially whatever you want, and what we need from you for the back page of the magazine. I have spent a considerable part of the last five and half years grading essays, and I will tell you what I tell my students. The secret to good writing is the same, no matter whether it is a story or historical research paper or screenplay: Figure out what story you want to tell, and tell it. Go from point A to point Z without too many detours, but don't be afraid to stop periodically to check out sights of local interest or to appreciate the view.
You have this really interesting and funny story to tell--your journey through the world of LA synagogues, orthodox and otherwise. Tell me that story. It should be a running, coherent narrative. Parts of what you showed me are usable, parts aren't. Your writings about your love life are a continuous source of amusement for me, but they don't fit into this framework, which should be about your efforts as a hexagonal peg (a square doesn't have enough facets to describe you) in a round hole. That story has a lot--it has humor, pathos, questions of Jewish identity and community--it is really fascinating stuff, and you really have a chance to reach all those other Australian convert/degenerates out there, who feel that they have no voice. I want you to perform, Ford, not for me, or for you, but for them. Please see the attached comments for specifics, and let me know if you have any more questions. I'm happy to read whatever you write (which I already do, anyway), so don't be bashful. Your story is one in six million, Luke, make it a good one.
Alright, you’ve got a lot of stuff, but I’m going to need to use all my editing skills, finely honed after correcting the papers of semi-literate teenagers for the past 5 and half years. You need some sort of framework. After a punchy intro, I would suggest, first of all, that the story should essentially be linear, starting with your first shul, and moving through your various travails until you get where you are today, where ever that is. You’ve got to have some sort of growth, or lesson. Again, it should be funny inside the framework, but there should be something we can get from it. To a great extent, this is the story of your efforts to find a place to belong, and the joke, of course, is that you are you, with all that entails.
For your intro, I’d go with the Chabad story, because it’s short, and makes the point pretty clearly: Here is a guy who does not belong. It is 19__. At Chabad, my religious home two months, a burly Australian 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 turn around and walk home, passing streams of black-clad Orthodox Jews going the other way. I run into a friend, "Levi," he says. " What's going on?" I take five minutes to explain, not mentioning the name of the shul. My friend listens and then gives me some advice: "You should go to Chabad. They will never throw you out."
Begin with a positive evaluation of that statement, referring in one sentence to Chabad’s view on outreach, citing assorted cretinous magnates and celebrities that Chabad lauds, and the Aleph Institute, a Chabad run outreach group for Jews in prison. So what puts you beyond the pale, when Chabad rabbis will daven with convicted felons?
Granted, you are hardly normative--go into your personal background quickly, hitting only the major points—son of Adventist heretic, ger, whatever other idiosyncratic morsels you can think of—then hit them with “the Matt Drudge of the ---- industry”. More on that later.
You don’t need to explain the reasons for the conversion, but go into your explorations of synagogues, what you wanted, what you found. I think your line about Sfat is great, but to make that poignant, you need to set up the anomie that you experienced beforehand. I don’t know enough about your road to circumcision, so I don’t know what brand names you taste-tested before settling on Judaism Classic, but clearly you spend time in the Reform and Conservative hot-spots.
Again, this isn’t about your conversion, so I don’t need you to talk about why you dumped those brands, but you should talk about your feelings in those shuls—here you are, a believer in the divinity and immutability of the Torah, and you’re hanging out at the Stephen Wise Free Temple. Work it, honey.
I’m not sure when you began the ---- thing, but put in where it belongs in the chronological narrative. Don’t give too much—maybe make a joke about how if Heeb readers feel slighted, they should direct their ire towards Heeb and demand a full-length piece on you (a demand, I’m sure, you’ve heard from many of your dates).
Now you’ve got this other problem. You’ve started to daven in Orthodox shuls, where you feel perhaps closer to God, but still, it is a much more closed and homogenous setting then before (maybe I’m wrong, I’m just guessing). But now you’ve got this deep, dark secret, and start going through the shuls you were kicked out of. Maybe go through all six, giving the length of time you were there, and the details of your exile. Give extra time to the tefillin episode, hitting on the main points—finally found a place, they trusted you to open up, bought you tefillin, and then comes the crash. If you’ve never read it, read Kipling’s poem “Danny Deever.”
Through these episodes, you have to address somewhat your own feelings about things, that you aren’t happy with yourself, and then, whenever you hit rock bottom, you make the break, and do teshuva. Then discuss where you are today, with the various shuls you go to, and what lessons, if any, you, or the reader, should derive from this.
A few points to consider:
Make sure you make it clear that for you, shul was more than just a once a week affair. You went more or less daily, and attended shiurim. And also, I don’t know if this is true, but I have to imagine that for you, the shul community was more important than to most, since, lacking a frum family, other friends, and so forth, the shul had to have been a big part of your connection to am yisroel, if not hashem. If that’s true, make sure it comes through.
One of the interesting things about you, on that subject, is that your synagogue attendance is so much more diverse than the vast majority of orthodox jews. Like I’ve said, reading your memoirs, I’m less jarred by the “---- reporter in the Orthodox shul” aspect than the “orthodox Jew in the reform temple” aspect. This piece is about belonging, so you have to really address these issues. What do you get out of the respective shuls you go to? What do you find lacking?
Finally, just an idea, but you might want to look at your story as being a metaphor for the historic Jewish condition—rejected, wandering from place to place, finding a place of refuge but never knowing when it will come to an end. Maybe the end result of all this is that, in a bizarre way, your constant rejection has done what no amount of acceptance could do—make you feel like a real Jew. That might not be how you feel, but I think it’s a great conceptual framework, and gives you a great closing. Anyway, let me know what you think of this stuff, and show me whatever you write.
Oh, and completely unrelated but whatever you do, DON’T SEE LOST IN TRANSLATION. An awful, cheap, rip-off of a film, that promises much and delivers nothing.
Jewish Porn Scandal At Milken High School
From The Los Angeles Times 11/1/03:
Three high school students — a sophomore girl and two junior boys — have been expelled from an exclusive preparatory school in the Sepulveda Pass for allegedly making a sexually explicit video and distributing it on school grounds.
The trio made the video last spring, when the girl was still a freshman, said Rennie Wrubel, head of Milken Community High School, which is affiliated with the Stephen S. Wise Temple. She said none of the three had records of disciplinary problems.
Parents and officials did not know that the video existed until one student told his parents about seeing a copy of it 10 days ago, Wrubel said.
Wrubel, who did not release the students' names or ages, said two of the students in the video seemed not to know that the recording would be shown to anyone outside a close circle of friends. "They thought they were just doing it for fun," Wrubel said. "And then it showed up in school."
Wrubel said she worried that the students were simply mimicking what they see on television, without the benefit of an adult understanding of what effect their actions might have on their dignity.
Hollywood Interrupted - Got OxyContin?
hillbilly heroin (HIL.bil.ee hayr.oh.in) n. Slang nickname for the prescription painkiller OxyContin, which is said to produce an effect similar to heroin.
The new book by Mark Ebner and Andrew Breitbart (Matt Drudge's assistant, Republican, married, good guy) is due in January from John Wiley & Sons: "Hollywood Interrupted: Meltdowns, Flameouts & Insanity Chic in Babylon"
The title is a riff on the Winona film Girl, Interrupted.
Mark Ebner says there will be a billboard for the book on the Sunset Strip near Tower Records: "Got Oxycontin?"
From Amazon.com: "The executives and agents in Hollywood may think that the business of Hollywood is about making movies, TV, and music that will make profits. But today, everybody knows that the real business of Hollywood is about stars behaving badly. Hollywood Interrupted is a sometimes frightening, occasionally sad, and frequently hysterical odyssey into the darkest realms of showbiz pathology, the endless stream of meltdowns and flameouts, and the inexplicable behavior on the part of film, TV, and music personalities. Hollywood Interrupted takes readers on a surreal field trip into the amoral belly of the entertainment industry, and tries to diagnose the numerous diseases it will most certainly find there. Each chapter delivers a meticulously researched, interview-infused, attitude heavy dispatch—which analyzes and deconstructs the myths created by the celebrities themselves. From the two-dimensional Calista Flockhart and poet-bully Russell Crowe to Glitter road kill Mariah Carey, Hollywood Interrupted is the inside story of Hollywood's misbehaving stars and presents the mind-altered behavior of the most reality-challenged celebrities from all walks of life, and every genre. Entertaining and engaging, this book dishes the dirt on the movie mavens, sitcom screwballs, and musical misfits who view being on medication, under house arrest, in rehab, or on deathwatch as just part of the job."
Do You Want To Be Happy?
Dennis Prager says many people do not want to be happy.
If you don't do everything you can to be happy, you are selfish. You are immoral. You are dragging down those around you. If you don't work to get happier, people should leave you.
You should try therapy, medication, whatever... Unhappiness is often a plea for attention. There are far better ways to this end.
A religious person who's unhappy makes God and religion look bad.
If you are poor yet refuse to work, I won't give you charity. If you are unhappy, and refuse to work on it, I won't be charitable towards your unhappiness.
Watching TV to cure unhappiness is like eating donuts to cure obesity.
Luke Ford Must Submit To Me
Dave Deutsch writes: Okay, yidl, it's time to talk tachlis. I am the new Humor Editor of ----, and thus, I have been assigned to force you to submit to me. I need you to write about 1200 words on your travails in finding a shul. You've got a lot of great stuff. Obviously I want the expulsions and having your epaulets, sorry, phylacteries, cut off. But also, you should deal with the more basic problems in trying to find a fit--as an ex-ubergoy surrounded by Jews, as a frum Jew attending, as you often do, reform temples. I know that after being master of your domain for so long, it will be difficult to submit to a stern, dominating father figure like me, but I promise to be kind. At any rate, I'd like it some time next week if that's possible. shabbos ends early, so you'll have time tomorrow night. Feel free if you have any questions, comments or concerns to email. I'll save my usual urbane observations for another time, Ford, this is business, not pleasure.
Luke asks: So is this article supposed to be funny?
Dave replies: It doesn't have to be. Do you have the magazine, it's the last page, "Amen." I think it should have humor (I'd hate to see you take your expulsions too seriously), but you may also put in some actual feelings about things. In short, I think it should be a serious piece of work, but a funny serious piece of work. I don't think that means it has to be schticky; I think you have enough available that's just funny in and of itself ("If I'd been Luke Ford the sabbath-violator, or Luke Ford the intermarry-er, or Luke Ford the slumlord or tobacco executive..."), so just tell your story in your own inimitable style. Look, aside from humor, you are a fairly rare bird, so make it work for you.
I've come up with a new word--"ambigayous," to refer to men whose sexuality is ambiguous. It isn't the same as metrosexual, since ambigayity isn't dependent upon doing anything in particular--you don't need to get manicures or facials, you just have to leave people wondering. Try and push it.
Luke's Significant Social Strides
I went 30 emails with a woman before offering to show her my circumsicion, though it was only four emails before I mentioned pressing buttons, probing, going deep, having the stamina of a 15 year old boy...
On the down side, my right eye twitches. It gets like that when I work too much.
In this corner, standing over 6' tall and weighing in at 250 pounds, from Miami, Florida, is the biggest toughest darkest white daily movie columnist on the web - David Poland - the non-Torah Jew.
And in this corner, from the great state of Ohio, the happiest man at E!, Anderson Jones (6'1" and 230 goyisha black pounds).
Are you ready to rumble in a Torahdic way? This promises to be a shanda for de goyim.
Thursday morning David Poland wrote me two paragraphs about my reaction to Mark Glaser piece on online entertainment journalism for www.ojr.org. David included this: "I am more concerned that Glaser has allowed one of the web's least professional entertainment journalists to spew about the standards of others. That is rather disturbing."
I think David refers to movie columnist Anderson Jones of E! I emailed David if this was the case, and he replied, "No comment."
I've known David for 18-months and I never remember him referring to Anderson Jones. But by reading Mark Glaser's story, I can only conclude David is talking about Anderson Jones.
Then I read a letter by Anderson Jones to OJR.org, and I can only conclude he's writing about David Poland.
I emailed Anderson Jones about all this and he replies:
I push Anderson again and got this:
Who is Anderson Jones? There's a cool picture of him on the ojr.org site.
During college, Anderson founded an award-winning magazine for Ohio's college population. Then he joined the features department of the Detroit Free Press.
Next Anderson moved on to the Philadelphia Inquirer and ran the Rough-Cut website for TNT for four years before leaving for E! Online in September 1999.
Anderson Jones writes freelance articles for various magazines. He published a book about men in longterm relationships - Men Together from Running Press.
David Poland responds:
David Poland writes on Hot Button:
Tuesday afternoon in North Hollywood, I sit opposite my buddy Kurt. I notice him pull out a bag of green and start stuffing it into a little wooden box.
The sun, a red Mars-like ball, sinks in the smoky horizon.
I'm mystified when Mr. Lockwood dumps some oregano into what looks like a cigarette. There's no accounting for taste.
Woman was reportedly kicked during provocation after Dershowitz event
By Adam Foxman DAILY BRUIN CONTRIBUTOR firstname.lastname@example.org
University police detectives have completed an investigation of an alleged assault by Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, the director of UCLA Hillel and a prominent leader in the local Jewish community.
The reported incident took place Oct. 21, after a presentation by Alan Dershowitz in Royce Hall. Police reports state that Seidler-Feller allegedly kicked and grabbed the wrist of freelance journalist Rachel Neuwirth.
At a point during the incident, Neuwirth called Seidler-Feller a "capo," eyewitnesses said. "Capo" is a derogatory term for Jews who were forced to work with Nazis inside death camps during the Holocaust.
"Rabbi Seidler-Feller has offered an apology for a regretful incident that did occur partially because of hateful language that described him as a Nazi collaborator," said Donald Etra, Seidler-Feller's attorney. "(Seidler-Feller) has extended a hand of friendship and reconciliation," he said.
Neuwirth's attorney, Robert Esensten, said his client only used the epithet after she was allegedly assaulted. He added, "Even if she made that comment prior to, there could be no words that could justify what he did."
After he left the Dershowitz presentation, Seidler-Feller spoke with a small group of demonstrators protesting at the event, said David Hakimfar, a fourth-year history student.
Neuwirth – a freelance journalist who has been published in the Israel National News and Front Page magazine – said she heard Seidler-Feller discuss an upcoming event with Sari Nusseibeh, president of Al Quds University and Palestinian Authority Commissioner for Jerusalem.
She said she then approached Seidler-Feller, alleging that Nusseibeh helped direct missile attacks into Israel during the first Persian Gulf War. Esensten said Seidler-Feller then physically confronted Neuwirth, after which she called him a "capo."
Neuwirth reported to police that her wrist was grabbed, and that she was kicked. Esensten said one of the actions preceded the insult, but he did not specify which one.
Seidler-Feller and Neuwirth were eventually pulled apart by nearby students, Hakimfar said. Hakimfar said he helped separate Seidler-Feller and Neuwirth, and added that Seidler-Feller "landed at least one kick" before he and Neuwirth were separated.
In addition to any potential criminal charges the city could file, Esensten said Neuwirth intends to bring a civil lawsuit against Seidler-Feller.
Britain's Tory Party Goes Poof
Why is homosexuality so prevalent among the leadership of Britain's purportedly conservative party? A LF.net correspondent in London reports: "The joke the last couple of days [is] that IDS [Ian Duncan Smith] would be hard pressed to find his needed "straight majority" in the party at the best of times."
Supposedly the previous leader of the party, the married William Hague, was quite chummy with homosexual columnist Andrew Sullivan at Oxford.
Thoughts On Halloween
Stimulated by Dennis Prager.
* As America becomes more secular, Halloween gets bigger.
* Holidays need rituals to absorb people. Fourth of July is dying because there are few rituals while Halloween has plenty.
* The infantilizing of America. More adults want to act like children.
If you want to relieve stress, I say there's nothing like strapping on tefillin and davening Shacharit (morning prayers) to ease your troubled mind. Or a study of sacred text with friends of the same sex. Studying with friends of the opposite sex can lead to immorality.
Bad Entertainment Journalism #2
Mark Glaser writes for www.ojr.org: "Consider the source. These are three words to live by when you read any entertainment or celebrity "news." And when you get that juicy tidbit online, you'll want to consider the source even longer and harder."
No. It depends on the source, not on whether it is online or offline. The New York Times online is as likely to check its facts as The New York Times offline. It doesn't matter whether the publication is online or offline.
There are plenty of scurrilous offline publications and plenty of reliable online publications. Mark writes for a thoughtful and dependable online source. That OJR.org is online does not make it any less reliable.
Mark writes: "I decided to break online tradition and actually call Crowe's publicist and studio to confirm the rumor."
Two comments. One. Online journalists are as likely to call people to confirm facts as offline journalists. I think Glaser is really taking another swipe here at bloggers, who he clearly despises. Mark, get a clue. Most bloggers don't pretend to be journalists. And the term "journalist" is a smug and pompous one, like much of Mark's writing.
Two. Glaser suggests that talking to a publicist and a studio is the way to get the truth. That's hilarious. Publicists are paid liars. Studios lie routinely. Publicists and studios are no more reliable sources of truth than the most scurrilous online gossipmongers.
There's this notion in establishment journalism, of which Glaser is a part, that if you talk to the subject of a story, you've gotten the truth.
I don't know what kind of obtuse student of human nature and naive Hollywood reporter you have to be to believe that talking to the subject of a negative report, or the subject's employer or publicist, is the way to get the truth.
Mark, people lie routinely. People don't see themselves. People are not accurate sources of information about themselves and neither are their representatives. Big deal you called the publicist. Tough work that. You want a Pulitzer (along with such all such awards, it's meaningless (the only people who find meaning in such things are people leading meaningless lives such as the late Stalin-loving magnate Hammer), if not a mark of shame)?
Mark writes: "[David] Poland says things could change with more accountability for Net scribes. "If we are to be taken seriously as journalists, we need to do what journalists do," he told me. "We need to have strong relationships with studio publicists."
One's work will determine whether one is taken seriously. If online scribes do important work, they will be taken seriously. You don't have to suck up to publicists to be taken seriously. In fact, the opposite is true.
"Strong relationships with studio publicists" means selling your reporting soul to the devil. The only people who should have strong relationships with publicists are whores like the trades and the LA Times, whose showbiz reporting is essentially trade reporting, and reads, about 50% of the time, like it is written by publicists.
Mark writes: "The quality journalism sites, such as Slate and Salon, have very little Hollywood content."
This is bizarre and wrong all round. There's little journalism on Slate.com. It is a pundit site. About the only time Slate.com breaks a story is when blogger Mickey Kaus does it. Salon is tabloid journalism, which Mark despises. And Salon does plenty of entertainment coverage. So you are completely wrong from every angle on that claim, Mark.
David Poland writes Luke:
Luke replies: Total outsider? Pal, any "total outsider" can become a total insider if he uncovers a powerful enough story. This "total outsider" was enough of an insider that with virtually no Hollywood experience, I secured interviews with 100 Hollywood producers, including several A-list players. On my "outsider" website, I've produced a more comprehensive look at Hollywood producers than has ever been done. I've also compiled more profiles of entertainment journalists than has ever been done.
I'm an outsider in that I am not a part of the Hollywood establishment media like yourself, and I don't buy into its secular socially-liberal mindset. My concerns are on a higher realm than earthly power and fleeting physical satisfactions.
Anderson Jones from E! writes: "Dear Luke: With regard to your Bad Entertainment Journalism #2 column and subsequent letter to the editor, as it were. David Poland calling someone unprofessional? Now I've heard everything."
Maligned Reporter Nikki Finke Comes Through Again
As I go about journalist gatherings, I hear endless bashing of Nikki Finke.
I've written some vicious things about her myself before coming to my senses and erasing them.
Nikki Finke is a great reporter and a great writer.
Disclaimer: She's to the left of me politically. I've never met the woman. She's never done me any favors. I owe her nothing.
In this week's LA Weekly, she produces another absorbing column. She's just racking up scoop after scoop. I love it that the LA Weekly is jumping into the Internet age with updates when they happen, not just stuff for the weekly paper.
I read Nikki this week and I wish I could be this good. I understand hating her for being so good. I understand jealousy.
Nikki has a gift for getting the inside information and the telling anecdote. I think she's better at this than anyone writing on entertainment.
My yarmulke's off to you Nikki, and I pull out my fringes as well and wave them around. And I'll drink a glass of wine and say "L'Chaim."
I'm acquainted with Sharon Waxman and am a huge fan. I think she'll be a huge addition to the New York Times. Couldn't happen to a better girl.
Let's Have A Ball For Aids
When I was a kid, when someone got a sexually transmitted disease, he was ashamed. Now such people are celebrated and balls are held in their honor.
I had a tough day. Tons of transcribing, phone ringing off the hook... I'm trying to piece together a deadly dangerous story.
At 7:30PM, I logged off my computer and drove to what turned out to be The World's Worst Jewish Singles Event at Club Lunaria (service was horribly rude) on Santa Monica Blvd. In the middle of it, a group of amateurs got up and belted out pop tunes to raise money for their participation in an AIDS marathon in New Orleans.
Now, I to want to do my part to prevent the transmission of AIDS: Guys, don't let other men f--- you up the ass. Women, don't sleep with men who let other men f--- them up the ass. And junkies, don't trade needles.
Needless to say, I didn't donate to the band. I'd already spent $20 for appetizers, a glass of ice tea and awkward conversation with guys.
(AUDIO LINK: As Tom Wolfe points out in his novel A MAN IN FULL, a few years ago people were ashamed to have caught sexually transmitted diseases. There weren't balls for gonorrhea. Now we regard those who catch these diseases as martyrs on the altars of coldhearted Republican governments.)
A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe. Copyright © 1998 by Tom Wolfe. All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Farrar Straus and Giroux, New York. [http://www.fsbassociates.com/fsg]
"Did you say . . . a ball for AIDS? A . . . BALL FOR AIDS?"
As the former First Lady of Georgia, Lenore was an old hand at dinner table conversation who had dealt with practically every peculiarity known to that endeavor, but she seemed genuinely nonplussed by this one. She cocked her head defensively.
"I've heard a balls for AIDS," cried Billy, "but this is the fust time I ever knowed anybody that actually went to one!" One came out wuh-uhn; two syllables; in South Georgia, Billy's speech became even more Down Home than Charlie's. The key to his low humor was that he started laughing even before the first words left his mouth, and his laughter swept you along like a wave, no matter what he was actually saying. "I was born at the wrong damn time, Lenore! Hell" - Hale - "when I was growing up, if you got a venereal" - vernerl - "disease, it was a stigma!" Already he was looking away from Lenore Knox and toward the men at the table, as if rallying his troops for a salvo of male laughter. "If you got syphilis or the clap, it was a dis-grace!" His eyes sought out Governor Knox's-the old Governor didn't know what to do, since his wife seemed to be the butt of the joke-and then they sought out Howell Hendrick's and Judge Opey McCorkle's and Herb Richman's and Charlie's and Ted Nashford's and Slim Tucker's. Charlie and Judge McCorkle were already laughing, because they were pushovers for Billy's brand of humor when he went on these dinner table jags of his. "I can remember plenty a fellows with vernerl diseases, but I don't remember anybody throwin' parties for'm!" exclaimed Billy, bursting with mirth. "I don't remember any DANCES! I don't remember any LET'S RAP FOR CLAP nights! Or LET'S RIFF FOR SYPH!"
"Or LET'S HOP FOR HERPES!" volunteered Judge Opey McCorkle, who was laughing so hard he could hardly get the words out.
"Or LET'S GO GREET THE SPIROCHETES!" contributed Charlie who was now in the same paroxysmal condition.
"Or LET'S GO ROAR FOR THE CHANCRE SORES!" exclaimed Billy Bass.
"Or LET'S PAY OUR DUES TO THE PUSTULAR OOZE!" exclaimed the judge.
"Or LET'S GO HUG A DYIN' BUGGER!" cried Billy, who was gasping for breath and weeping with laughter at the same time. "Now--now if you get AIDS, you're some kinda saint!-and they give banquets for you! Everbuddy goes dancin'!"
"Glory ME-I got da HIV!" sang out the judge, who had his mouth open, his eyes wide, and both hands flopping in the air up by his ears, as if he were a minstrel performer. This started Billy and Charlie laughing even harder.
"They never used to give lepers banquets for being LEPERS!" shouted Billy. "They put BELLS around their necks so people could hear'em coming and stay OUTTA THEIR WAY! Maybe they could do that with all these characters with AIDS!"
Women say size matters, yet they use pocket rockets.
Heather MacDonald - The Hottest Scholar At The Manhattan Institute
Heather MacDonald writes me:
Chaim writes: "Heather is the most precise writer ever to grace your web pages. If only she would dedicate herself to frustrating the designs of Pataki/Liebeskind."
Bad Entertainment Journalism
From LA Observed: Richard Horgan makes a persuasive case that the London-based World Entertainment News Network is commandeering celebrity news and gossip without crediting the right sources, and he argues in his weekly FilmStew column that the popular Internet Movie Database is tainted by its association with the news service.
Richard Horgan from Film Stew writes:
Luke Stood Up - Never Again
Southern philosopher Mike writes: "good luck on yer date tonight bro. leave yer bible and yer moralizing home. take her out and enjoy her as a person. enjoy the food, the fellowship and all that. be less aware of Luke and more aware of her and even you might do alright."
So I have a date for 9PM for dinner. I arrive at the restaurant at 9PM (which is already four hours past my normal dinner time). No date. I wait until 9:15PM. Then I walk across the street to my van. I sit in my van and stew for a couple of minutes and then I drive home. There's a message from my date left at 7:41PM asking if we can meet earlier, say 8:30PM.
I call my date on her cell phone. She's on her way to the restaurant. She asks me if she should turn around and go home. I say yes. As we Jews say, "Never again."
Most things I am easy going about. Theft of my time is not one of them. Usually I put up with that from women. I'm getting more crotchety in my old age.
I love Persians but they sure don't love me. I don't think I've ever dated one more than twice.
Dildo SalesLady of Ludlow advises Luke: "Why not give black women a spin? A hand in a shvartze's bush is worth twenty Persians who'll stand you up, or something like that."
I heard Rabbi Michael Broyde speak Sunday morning that one could not sue or take someone to a Beit Din (Jewish Law Court) for not showing up on a date or other romantic disappointments. It's like calling a taxi and then taking another one that arrives first. Uncertainty is built into the equation of romance and taxis in our culture.
Today I read the novel, About a Boy by Nick Hornby. I figured I should copy the example of the protagonist and hit on single mothers. But the last time I did that, she showed late twice for dinner, and then cancelled at the last minute our third date because of a commitment to her son.
Cathy writes: "[Persian ways include:] extremely late dinner times and always, always, always running late."
Jack writes: "The other thing about Persians is loud talking on cell phones, yakking during shul and at the movies, cutting in line, etc. Plus of course the latelness. They are lovely, warm, family-oriented hospitable people but maybe their habits and yours don't jibe."
Jackie writes from England, where they also have the Internet:
Great Jaime Presley Profile In Oct 20 New Yorker
Chaim writes: She got famous (although this is not mentioned in the article) for telling the rich jew howard stern that "he got slapped with a yarmulke", meaning, as a prototypically jewish looking man (much like myself), he is too ugly to get hot shiksas, but for his wealth. She's my latest hero.
This would be a good header on either web site: "Which Jewish Men have been 'Slapped by a Yarmulke'"? You can list me first. Then say that I am looking for dates on upcoming trips to Las Vegas and LA. Only clean shiksas may apply.
Nancy Rommelman writes: "After reading the NYer piece, I cannot for the life of me figure out why Presley's not already a superstar, as she's clearly got the chops: slavish flattery (Brittany! Reese! I'm over here!), general cuntiness--oh, sorry, irritability--and more respect for her car than her craft. Did she ever explain why she couldn't look at her audition dialogue until 1 a.m.? Something about designing fur-lined underwear?"
The Lesson of Luke Ford
Luke says: One correction. I rarely go to parties with a tape recorder, and if I ever tape people, I do it out in the open, right in front of their faces, with their presumed permission.
Attractive women, however, are permitted to search me for where I might've hidden the microphone.
My mom writes: "Dear me Luke: He thinks you've been reporting gossip not facts. Maybe the Enquirer would give you a job?
"Now I would love to hear Anthony Lane, who or whom I adore, on Luke Ford's journalism. First, one of the producers in your book has to do the film on your life. I want Meryl Streep to be me."
Raids Catch 300 Illegal Workers, 2300 Eddie's Kids
Mark Kernes writes for AVN:
As I go about society, I am often shocked by how badly the retarded are treated.
Los Angeles Fires' Arson Suspect A White Male Driving Dodge Van
Sound like anyone we know?
Gorgeous shiksas on local TV news keep talking about the fires ravishing Southern California. I've got a fire inside of me that wants to ravish news-reading shiksas. Why doesn't that get any coverage? These women embody a more dangerous form of anti-Semitism than anything Gregg Easterbrook has written. Why must they tempt me so? Why can't I feel the same pull towards homely overweight Orthodox spinsters?
Chaim Amalek writes Luke:
Mike Albo writes: "TV's making me crazy. Gotta stop watching it, or at least leaving it on while I'm trying to get stuff done. Some commercial just came on and I thought it was a promo for the new season of Joe Millionaire. You know, the one with the broke-ass cowboy? But this cowpoke was dressed way gay. Sort of like that guy from the Village People. And he was going on and on about being "curious." If the viewers were curious, there was a number to call. I finally got it. It was an ad for a gay sex line. Okay, whatever. However you want to spend your money guess. What I don't get is what a guy who has leanings in that direction has to be curious about. I mean, he has all the equipment, right? What's the mystery? Chicks, they're the mystery. Get a clue."
Stopping By A Church On A Sunny Afternoon
Listening to a Stephen Ambrose history book on the American military, I walk by a church early Monday afternoon. A big black woman of 50 years of age accosts me, talking excitedly.
"Do you know another church around here? I need help. My 12-year old daughter and I got kicked out of our motel because we couldn't pay the $45 a night. I need a voucher or something. Anything you can do to help would be appreciated."
She shows me her two broken twisted fingers, which she can't afford to get set straight.
I don't have any money on me but I suggest she walk up Pico Blvd and hit on the various shuls. She says she's already done that, including a Jewish mortuary, to no good effect.
Then an eccentric blonde woman from my shul walks up. The black woman cheers up. The blonde has already helped her in various ways. Now the blonde gives the black woman a copy of the Zohar, a 12th Century work of Jewish mysticism. It is all in Hebrew. She's following a crank suggestion of the Kaballah Center, "Scientology done Jewish," says an acquaintance.
"I don't have any money," says the blonde, "but I will give you this. Here. Look at the Hebrew letters. Just scan them and meditate on them and good things will happen. Everything comes from above."
The blonde walks off, pointing to Heaven.
I suggest the black woman walk farther west on Pico, to the posher shuls, and stand outside from 4:30PM on, just before afternoon prayers. Catch the Jews coming and going from their mitzvahs.
As for me, I don't give her a penny. Nor do I make it to shul tonight.
The woods are rich and deep, but I have miles to go before I sleep. And miles to go before I sleep.
I just sent in my $100 annual dues. One woman I know, a cantor at Stephen S Wise temple, got married through this group.
Idiots Running Air Traffic Control
Listening to the Dennis Prager radio show today, I learn that the reason one of the nation's three biggest aiports, LAX, has been down for days is that the air traffic control center in San Diego is threatened by fires. This center controls air traffic into and out of Southern California.
The FAA decided several years ago to consolidate all air traffic controls centers into one in San Diego. So who are the idiots responsible for this decision? Who are the idiots who can't protect one building in SD? The whole country is disrupted because one building is threatened?
Idiots are running the show and their heads should roll.
Burt Kearns Tabloid Baby
I read this book as soon as it came out. I found it compelling and brave.
I called Burt Kearns July 2, 2003, at his Frozen Television production office to talk about his 1999 book Tabloid Baby. In October 2003, he took the transcript and edited it protect the innocent, clarify misconceptions, elaborate on what he said off the cuff and avoid lawsuits.
Burt: "I paid the price for writing that book. I had to sell my Porsche because of it. Things dried up after that."
Luke: "When Mark Ebner wrote his expose on the Gay Mafia for Spy Magazine, he didn't get any calls for script work for two years."
Burt: "It wasn’t any Gay Mafia. It was the Tabloid Television Mafia and the Network News Mafia. I broke the code of Omerta when I wrote the memoir and paid the price. People within the tabloid world had thin skins and they put the hit out on me when it came to publicising it. People who were my friends closed the door and had doors closed on me. The network news people didn’t like me exposing their tabloid roots. I went to New York City. I was booked on the network morning shows, Dateline, etc. The week I was in New York, everything got cancelled. (everything but the Fox News Channel, interestingly). It was an eye-opener to see how thin-skinned are people who've spent ten years of their lives making other people's lives miserable. When you turned the spotlight on them, they scattered."
Luke: "What about that guy who had problems with Fox?"
Burt: "Stuart Goldman. I’d just come on board a Current Affair in New York and he was a freelancer in the LA office.. It was sad what happened to Goldman, but he was stealing stories. He put up a nice cover story that he was researching the industry for an expose. I cover it in the book. When he left the LA office, he took a password with him and he got into our computers. He was taking stories out of files and selling them to tabloids and other shows. When Fox and the Feds did that sting on him, it went overboard. They found a gun in his house. They threw the book at him. He went through hell.
"A guy I work with now, J.B. Blunck, was one of the creators of A Current Affair. He invented the triangle logo and the ka-chung sound effect. Pop culture symbols.
[Email: "The creator of the "ka-chung" sound is none other than Robert Kinkel, not J.B. Blunck."]
"J.B. honcho'd that whole sting operation to find out who was stealing stories out of the Fox computer. They put a fake story into the computer-- that Ron Reagan Jr. had a gay lover in South Central named Tyrone. And they put a sting phone number in the story file. When the phone call was made, they brought Fox cameras in and they arrested Goldman and everybody popped champagne bottles and had a great celebration that they had finally caught the thief. And the phone rings from Barry Diller, who was running Fox Television. He said, 'Who in the world came up with the idea of saying that Ron Reagan Jr. had a gay lover?' "As it turned out, Diller had been negotiating with the Reagans to do a TV special, which then went down the drain. Diller was like Edgar Kennedy in the Little Rascal shows. 'D’oh! What are they doing now?'
"William Knoedelseder (my co-producer on the Bravo documentary “All The Presidents’ Movies”) is working on an authorized biography of his longtime friend Barry Diller. At the time I was at A Current Affair, Knoedelseder was one of Diller's guys, working on the show Personalities.
"I don’t think there’s any Gay Mafia. But back in the early Nineties, Barry Diller was trying to get Fox Television off the ground, the success of A Current Affair was financing the new network, and we were having fun going after celebrities who Diller was friends with. He hated the show for any number of reasons. Back then, when the supposed Velvet Mafia triumverate was Diller, manager Sandy Gallin and David Geffen, gay rights groups were protesting the comedian Andrew Dice Clay for his anti-gay hate humour. Well, Gallin was Clay’s manager, Geffen put out Clay’s records and Diller released Clay’s movie. So what was the agenda?
“It’s the publicists who were gaining the power. Remember how Don Henley of the Eagles was arrested for statutory rape? Remember when that little groupie passed out in the hot tub at the party? I believe he copped some sort of plea. I went to the Internet to find the story and it was nowhere. I went through about 27 levels of Don Henley research on Google and Yahoo before I found a half mention of it. That's the kind of stuff the Hollywood power brokers erase. They can control that.
"When Barry Diller got married, everyone in the media took it at face value. At least they covered it without a smirk. Only my friend Neal Travis, who died last year, did a common sense column about it. ‘Here's why he's getting married. He's putting his affairs together. He wants to have heirs. This woman has been a great friend of his for a long time.’ The best of tabloid cuts through the bull and talks common sense."
Luke: "So your career and financials took a hit from the book?"
Burt: "It did. I started writing the book in 1996. We'd burned a lot of bridges with tabloid television. I had cast my lot with these guys. Peter Brennan, my mentor, went off on his own. I thought, 'Where do I go now?' So I started writing the book. It was a combination of my story—a mainstream television news producer goes on a wild adventure, and a detailed history of the rise and fall of tabloid television. I approached the tabloid television revolution the same way Spielberg took on World War 2—through the stories of the grunts on the front lines. How their decisions, actions and infighting made it a hit—then killed it. Of course, it was very hot in New York when we first sent out the proposal. David Vigliano was the agent. (note: Vigliano recently repped and sold Jayson Blair’s memoirs). And then it went totally cold. I was told it was because a woman named Anthea Disney was running Harper Collins."
Luke: "You trashed her in the book."
Burt: "I didn't trash her. I just told what happened. Anthea Disney ran A Current Affair in the early Nineties. I simply wrote about her role. It’s documented, historic fact. Maybe she wasn’t proud of it. She put the chill on the book in New York.. I think she told her friends in the New York publishing world, 'That this is bulls---. This book isn't true.'
"My attorney had a lot of publishing contacts and we finally got it published out of Nashville. It did well in the major cities, but they didn't know how to promote it because of the media blackout on it."
Luke: "Yeah, I never read anything about the book."
Burt: "The reviews it did get, in places like Melboure and Sydney and Singapore, were really good. TV Guide did a great pre-review but then it closed down. The book industry is a different business than what I'd been involved in. It's difficult to get a book out there if you’re not with one of the major publishers. St. Martins was going to go with the book but didn't.
"There's also a snobbery in publishing about the subject matter. I was producing a pilot for Miramax and Miramax/Talk Books was close to going with it, but I had a contract ready with the Nashville publisher and I couldn’t want to wait. We ran out of time.
"I did a self-financed tour around the country. New York. L.A. Philly. Atlanta. Nashville. Chicago. Minneapolis. San Francisco. Seattle. Portland. Vegas. San Diego. Palm Springs. I sold a book in every city."
Luke: "But when you came back and tried to work in your field, you felt after-effects from the book?"
Burt: "Definitely. The people that I worked with were protecting their own asses in their new careers. I haven’t heard from Gordon Elliott since. He ducked and covered. And now he’s the new Campbell’s Soup kid. Good for him. He left the past behind. But a lot of people very close to me, who helped me write the parts of the book they were in, told others in the industry that it was bullsh--. I can mention Diane Dimond and Gerald Rivera. I had cleaned up stuff about them for selfish reasons. They were doing a show on MSNBC and I wanted to get on their show to promote the book. I made sure everything I wrote was nice about Diane Dimond. But there was one little mention about Steve Dunleavy beating her—and the rest of the world-- on a story. She took that very personally and got me banned from MSNBC. She left a cursing phone message on my publicist’s answering machine. It was hysterical! I got her going by telling her I was going to release it to the media. And Geraldo, who the book was dedicated to, wouldn’t have anything to do with it at all. Never deigned to say a word. Because they all went legit.
"My book showed that just as with tabloids and legit newspapers, there isn't this big gulf between tabloid TV and the mainstream news media. Guys at 60 Minutes used to funnel us stories that they couldn't cover. Mike Wallace's stepson is Eames Yates, the great tabloid reporter (Hard Copy, HBO documentaries). Don Hewitt's daughter worked at A Current Affair and married one of the cameramen. Someone would say, 'Harry Reasoner died after he fell down the stairs. We think he was pushed. You ought to look into it. Because we can't.'
"Right now we're working with Ruddy/Morgan on turning Tabloid Baby into a TV series. We're fictionalizing the characters and bringing it up to the new century with this group of misfits and making it a black comedy."
Kearns has been married for seven years and has two kids, aged seven and two.
Luke: "Have you mellowed?"
Burt: "Yeah, man. I don't go to bars anymore. I'm home every night. I wake up early and go fishing with Sam."
Luke: "How did you capture such amazing detail in your book? Were you taking notes?"
Burt: "I was taking notes with a book in mind from the minute I walked into the A Current Affair office. I kept notes throughout the entire period, clipped out articles, kept memos. When I went back to write it, I found I had a complete daily journal from my first year at A Current Affair. When I went there from WNBC News, people counseled me to do so. Jeff Madrick, who did the biography of Ivan Boesky, was one of my journalist friends. He said, 'Keep notes. If you go into a meeting, as soon as you get out, write down the color of the socks. Remember those sort of details.' I did that. Steve Dunleavy would tell a joke in a bar and I'd write it on a cocktail napkin. They'd all laugh and say, 'Stop this.' I'd put the cocktail napkin in my pocket and find it two days later."
Luke: "I didn't read any negative reviews of your book. Am I missing something?"
Burt: "The lefty hippies at the LA Weekly did a snarky review of it. I had interviewed [LA Weekly media critic] Charles Rappleye for a Court TV documentary on the Ramparts scandal. He gave my book to his ex-wife to review."
Gale Holland writes in the 9/16/00 edition:
Burt: "I got a lot of publicity in England for my saying I wanted to put a hit on the ex-husband (comedian Jim Davidson) of my wife. That made all the headlines in Britain. 'TV Producer: I Put A Hit On Jim. I Wanted Him Dead.' They took a sentence from page 428 and a sentence from page 431 and put them both together. I wrote it carefully to make it clear that I was considering in a drunken rage to break his knees and my friends said, 'No, you can't do that.' But the British tabs made it seem like I actually hired hitmen, which was great. Hilarious.
"My wife now is writing a book for England about her career there, because Alison was a famous newscaster there and became more famous in the tabloids when she married this guy for about a year and got involved in a lot of controversy."
Luke: "Do people kid you about writing another book and being afraid to talk to you?"
Burt: “In the months after the book came out, people I'd work with would say, 'I don't want to say this. I don't want to get in the next book.' Now, I don't hear that much anymore.
"Steve Dunleavy was the best [help in promoting Kearns’ book]. When the word first got out that I was writing this book, there was a particular story that Dunleavy did not want told because he thought it would get him deported—or worse. Dunleavy sent out word that he was going to kill me, literally, for writing this. I flew to New York and I had a consigliere meeting with him at an Italian bar on 47th Street. I told him, 'That's not in the book.' And he said, 'I've heard it is in the book and I will kill you.' I left him drunk at the bar.
“Shortly before the book came out, I had to go back to New York to meet all the sales people at the Mayflower Hotel. I was to give a pep talk about the book. I put out the word to a lot of the tabloid people, from Maury Povich to Eames Yates, asking them to come to the Mayflower at lunchtime and pop your head in and say hi to these folks and let them know the book's coming out. At 10:30AM, I got a call from Dunleavy, who was waiting downstairs in the bar. He was dressed to the nines. He had no idea what I had written but he’d come to support me and gave a speech to the salespeople. When I read the book’s intro to Dunleavy, he cried. He spent the day with us. When the book came out, he wrote an article in the New York Post about it, saying ordinarily he would sue a guy for writing this stuff about him, but he can't because it is all true. He helped me unbelievably through this.
"Rafael Abramovitz, who I hadn't seen in years, hadn't read the book, didn't like what I wrote, but helped us out. Maury Povich, Eames Yates, Neal Travis helped from the beginning."
Luke: "How could Rafael not like what you wrote if he didn't read the book?"
Burt: "He’d heard about it. I’d spoken to him about what I was writing. He didn't like the idea that I would write about it at all. He claimed he didn’t read it. Knowing Rafael, he plopped down in his bathroom, read the whole thing, looking for his name on every page.
“So now I produce documentaries and television shows and my company’s moving into feature films. Everything we do is the same as when I was at A Current Affair. We look for good stories and we try to tell them well. And that was the key to the success. When they stopped telling stories and started running one-minute flashy bits and bites about celebrities, it was over. Just look at any of the shows today. Access. ET. Inside. Extra. They insist on being irrelevant. That way they don’t offend anything but intelligence. It’s a shame. The real tabloid television is being done by the network morning shows and newsmagazines. A lot of the producers were schooled on the tabloid shows. Katie Couric is the Maury Povich of the new millennium. Read the book, you’ll see where the bodies are buried.
‘Tabloid Baby’s alive and well. We have a website, tabloidbaby.com, where every week we list the stories we’d cover if we were doing a series. It’s a resource that tabloids and newsmagazines use. The secret is that none of the stories are from the “tabloids.” They’re from mainstream newspapers from around the world. That’s where we got our stories when we were kings."
David Finnigan, Cecile du Bois Discuss Blogging
From the site of Cecile du Bois:
David Finnigan doesn't keep a blog because it is writing for free and he is afraid that people may steal his notes from his blog for their own purposes. But he remarked upon that it is beneficial at my age to blog since--who would care to obsessively print out all my entries--other than my mom? The conversation started when I saw him reading the latest NY Mag, about XXX Porn exploitation. Since I had also read the cover story...(I whisked it off the kitchen table as soon as it arrived), I was interested in hearing his thoughts. He remarked that the mag was full of hypocrisy as they have prostitution ads in their back pages and yet denounce porn in their article. Actually, they do a fairly balanced piece on porn, saying that internet porn can be addictive since its easily accessible and can ruin relationships by the unfair portrayal of women.
I used a weak comparison of blogs and porn to further the discussion. Like blogs, a man can easily be allured into obsessive compulsion by constantly checking out his favorite sites--whether porn or blogs. Both are pleasing--he likes to see if his fave blog is updated yet since it always cheers him up and he bases his life opinions on it, or if his fave porn site has new features so he can get an erotic feel of the day--plus get new ideas for bed with his homely girlfriend. Porn ruins men's expectation of women. If they're looked at too much, men will expect their girls to be as good in bed which is utterly pathetic. I can see for people with disabilities or social ungraces, porn is their equivalent of a wife, but it can ruin a man's life. That's when David Finnigan started mentioning on how blogs are not solid writings.
My dad has a similar point (from his Master's in journalism from Columbia University, the best journalism school in the US), blogs are not great works of journalistic merit. David pointed on how they're unedited. Bloggers write whatever the hell they want without a rough copy first. And its competitive, because after a party, the partygoers like to see what another has posted. And unless they're quicker than lightning, hits will go down. I guess David's right. Unless I have a professional job on the side--say as a journalist, I'm not really a true writer yet. Anybody can blog--even a monkey if he learns the keyboard well. But it takes talent to get hits. There are thousands of unnoticed bloggers out there--who write all about themselves and or their beloved pets. OF course they have talent, but until they reach out and truly blog, reading other people's blogs, commenting on posts, and professing linky-love, they're doomed as just another obscure blogger. Bloggers can start their business from their wrbsites. They can make new friends and eternal friends.
I began thinking of the essence of blogging long before I blogged. I am always excited in converting people to "bloggerism". But one question I consequently fail to ask myself is: "Are they a good writer? Are they interesting? Will anybody care about them?". My friend Julia's older brother Tim and I were chatting in the dining room. Hearing that he writes a personal narrative, I got excited, attempting to set him a blog account immediately. "But what is the point of blogging?" he defended. "Uh--to meet other people. To improve your writing, yourself by other people's opinions.." I brought in Luke Ford to clarify the meaning of blogging. Luke Ford explained it ten times better than I did. "Is there a thesis to every essay, or entry you write?" he inquired. "Yeah, usually I have a point." I replied. He actually works and writes on his personal narrative--with thesis and all.
Luke says: Blogging is another form of writing. Anyone who says blogging is [fill in the blank] is an idiot. It's just a form of communication. It's quality depends on the one who crafts it. There's good blog writing and bad blog writing, just like there's good blog journalism and bad, just like there is good newspaper journalism and bad, good magazine journalism and bad.
I get a kick out of those pompous souls who say they won't write for free. I guarantee you they write a lot for free. They write emails and letters for free, some lengthy. I guarantee you they write articles that don't see print, article and book proposals that are never economically rewarded, and scripts that never sell. If you only write for the money, then you are a prostitute. If you take no inherent joy in writing, then you're an idiot for making writing your career, because there are far better ways to make money.
The Only Virgins I Meet Are Persian
Why wasn't Jesus Christ born in Los Angeles? Because they couldn't find three wisemen and a virgin.
The only Jewish women I meet older than 25 who claim to be virgins are Persian. Are these gorgeous women, say 26 or 31, telling me the truth? I guess virginity is highly prized in such traditional cultures.
About 90% of the unmarried Persian women I meet live with their family.
Another point. If you meet a girl, and you want to see her again, don't do what I often do - "Here's my card. Why don't you drop me a line or give me a call sometime?" That doesn't work nearly as well as having her phone number. I'm speaking from bitter experience here. I've cried a river of tears.
Dan Wakefield - What's The Hullabaloo About?
Dan Wakefield is a giant in the field of personal journalism. He writes numerous books about himself and about the spiritual journey. I've read four of them in the past month, culminating in Returning. And I don't know what the fuss is about. He's an average writer, far from compelling. I've found few well-constructed scenes in his work, and no drama. He's not exactly a page-turner nor a deep thinker. He is easy to read, with liberal universalistic values, and few affectations.
Another overrated book I suffered through in shul on Shabbos - The Bible.
Just kidding. Today I Am A Boy by David Hays, the Broadway set-builder.