Email Luke Essays Profiles Archives Search LF.net Luke Ford Profile Dennis Prager Feb 18

Nancy Rommelman Parties

Nancy Rommelman writes on her site:

Went to two parties in Hollywood last night. First, the LA Press Club's book bash for Hollywood, Interrupted: Insanity Chic in Babylon - the Case Against Celebrity. I wore a vintage Chanel suit my stepmother sent me last week, and was feeling very chic myself until not one but two people said, "That's really nice. Did you make it?"

After making the acquaintance of Richard Rushfield, Vanity Fair contributor and creator of the satirical mag LA Innuendo, I started to head out.

"Where are you going?" asked Amy Alkon, who looked like a million bucks in her cropped Gaultier jacket. To the LA Weekly bash, I told her.

"Ohhh," she said. "Going to hang out with the Communists."

Ten minutes later, I walked into the Weekly party.

"Just in time," said Jonathan Gold. "The writers just stopped reading."

I told him I'd had to go to the Press Club gig first.

"Hmph," he said. "Hanging out with the Libertarians."

Who are the libertarians at the LA Press Club parties? I can only think of Amy Alkon? Eugene Volokh? Matt Welch writes for a libertarian magazine, Reason, but he's not libertarian. Cathy and I are conservative.

Chaim writes: "Get rid of that Nancy Rommelman lead. The name is too evocative of the middle aged jewess."

But she's not Jewish.

Luke Pulls Another Class Act

After reading on LA Observed a string of tributes to the late LA Times editor Frank del Olmo primarily centered around his advocacy for his race, I wrote:

It's a shame, George Ramos, that Frank did not also teach you how to use capital letters. How come it is wonderful that Frank del Olmo dedicated himself to advancing the interests of his race while if a white person at the Times or any American news media organization did the same thing for his race, he'd be drummed out of his job? Why is Latino advocacy in journalism any better than advocacy for white people?

It is sickening to see everybody falling over each other to applaud a racialist.

Matt Welch writes:

Dear Luke, That's a real class act there, calling the mourning of Del Olmo "sickening" right to the face of his grieving friends. If you died tomorrow, and I mourn the loss (which I would), would that also be "sickening," considering your weird obsessions about race (ones which could just as easily be described as "racialist")? The line between being a freely-speaking controversialist and a rude asshole is admittedly blurry, and I usually err on the side of the controversialism (especially yours), but in this case you're just rubbing dirt and salt in the open wounds of people who are mourning. That is some gratuitously cruel and indecent behavior.

Luke replies: The primary basis for the accolades for the man in the Times and on LA Observed was that he worked tirelessly to promote the interests of his race and that he promoted race-based Latino journalist organizations. Therefore, I attacked those race-based accolades on their own basis. I would use an example of a white person in the media who has devoted his professional life to advancing the cause of the white race but I can think of nobody. I don't know of anybody who creates white-based journalist organizations and I would not mourn somebody who made that the obsession of his professional life.

I do have an interest in race but I've never made it my professional obsession. I haven't fought to advance whites professionally solely on the basis of their skin color as del Olmo's friends allege he did. I haven't created organizations for whites to promote their racial interest. That's exactly what Frank was all about, according to the tributes on LA Observed and in the LAT's obituary. That's precisely what his "friends" mourned him for. If they are misrepresenting his life as one of racial obsession, that is their calumny, not mine. Sorry if a painful truth sometimes make people feel uncomfortable.

I do no work on behalf of my race. I have never done any work on behalf of my race. I have never joined any race-based organization and I have never considered starting one. I have never treated anyone badly based on their race.

If anyone praised me in the race-based ways del Olmo was venerated, I would be appalled.

If, after my death, obituaries and purported "friends" made their primary praise for me a racial matter of my working to advance the cause of whites, I hope someone would rip to shreds on this issue my race-obsessed "friends," even if it made my "friends" feel bad, and even if it offended some notions of etiquette.

Don't ever expect me to ever treat respectfully outpourings of feeling that are primarily about race, as are the ones over del Olmo. Would you respect it if someone wrote after the death of a white person that he "toiled tirelessly to advance the interests of his [white] people"?

According to his "friends," Frank del Olmo was the equivalent of a modern member of the Klu Klux Klan (which, to be the best of my knowledge, no longer commits criminal acts of violence). If David Duke were to die, would you urge a similar moratorium on publishing hurtful? According to del Olmo's friends on LAObserved and in the LA Times, Frank and David had similar levels of racial obsession.

Matt, the only reason I can think of that you respect race-based tributes to Frank del Olmo is that he and the people praising him are primarily Latino, and you Matt Welch, don't expect much morally from Latinos, just like you don't expect much from blacks. That you are not appalled by these race-based paens reveals something about you and your lowered expectations for the darker-skinned peoples. I, by contrast, hold them accountable to the same moral standard I apply to the rest of humanity.

Does anyone for a second believe that Frank del Olmo would have won as many prizes from his journalistic peers if he had been a Republican? Does anyone think for a second that he would've advanced as high at the LA Times if he had been white?

Tony Castro writes (in response to my initial post on LA Observed):

Dear Luke, I may be one of the few journalists in town who happen to have been born Latino who both appreciates your comments on Frank Del Olmo -- and agrees with them. Frank thought I was a rogue in more ways than the obvious, and he was probably right. But our main parting of the ways, which came when I moved to LA in 1978 to write a column for Jim Bellows at the old Herald Examiner, was that I declined to join his organization, the California Chicano News Media Assn. It wasn't my thing. I didn't see myself as a Latino journalist, no matter how someone else looked at me. I saw myself as a journalist, albeit, lousy journalist, mediocre journalist, whatever, but a journalist. That's an entirely separate piece all its own. I just wanted to tell you that you make a good point.

Matt Welch writes:

Dear Luke,

* There are journalists and organizations dedicated to advancing (or furthering, or protecting) the white race. For instance VDare (http://vdare.com/), named after the first white girl born in the American colonies, Virginia Dare (http://vdare.com/why_vdare.htm). The site includes at least one quality journalist (Steve Sailer), is focused like a laser beam on immigration, and you may agree with much of it. As much as I disagree with the site, I am glad that it exists, and in any case would not jump at the opportunity to offend the friends of its writers should one of them suffer an untimely fate. Also -- is it me, or do I recall some concern on your part about having lots of children in order to increase the world's supply of Jews?

* The biggest reason there are more minority organizations than overt white organizations is because whites have always had more power in this city, state and country, and often deliberately excluded non-whites (and Jews) from their institutions. Latinos were forbidden from buying houses in Los Feliz during a nasty stretch of the 1940s. Same for Jews in my hometown neighborhood after WWII. Del Olmo was the first Latino to become senior editor at the L.A. Times, despite Los Angeles always having a large Latino population. One reason there were no Latinos before is that some of the paper's executives had been racists. Given this history, it strikes me as perfectly understandable that such support groups would spring up, regardless of what I personally may think about cultural or racial background forming the basis of a social organization.

* You write:

The primary basis for the accolades for the man in the Times and on LA Observed was that he worked tirelessly to promote the interests of his race and that he promoted race-based Latino journalist organizations

That is a lie. Neither the Times obit nor the LA Observed comments used the word "race" once, which is apt, since there is no "Latino" race I'm aware of. Only three of the seven accolades in the LA Observed comments even mentioned the word "Latino," by my count. Yes, he did focus on Latino affairs, and dedicate himself to Latino journalism organizations. I don't think that means that the mourning for him is "sickening"; in fact, I'd argue that the only thing "sickening" is the thought of you congratulating yourself for speaking the "painful truth," like some kind of moral hero, when in fact you're just acting like an asshole.

* You write:

Matt, the reason you respect race-based tributes to Frank del Olmo is that he and the people praising him are primarily Latino, and you Matt Welch, don't expect much morally from Latinos, just like you don't expect much from blacks. That you are not appalled by these race-based paens reveals something about you and your lowered expectations for the darker-skinned peoples. I, by contrast, hold them accountable to the same moral standard I apply to the rest of humanity.

You don't have the slightest idea of what you're talking about. It says something about the low quality of someone's argument when they resort to inventing motivations they can't possibly know. The only thing I "expect" from anybody is decency, and in both your comments at LA Observed, and your clumsy insults against me here, you have once again shown an utter lack of exactly that.

Luke responds:

* VDare.com. It is a website catering to a minority interest, not a $120 million a year editorial operation such as The LA Times. Del Olmo's friends portray him as an ethnic advocate masquerading as a reporter and editor. If a white person did this at a major mainstream media venue, he'd be fired.

I've spent less than an hour in my life reading VDare.com. I find it thought-provoking. Nothing I've read on it is as explicitly obsessed with ethnicity and race as the testimonials for del Olmo. I've read nothing on it praising people who create organizations to advance white interests. But if it is as you say, a website primarily about the promotion of the white race, then I would be embarrassed for that to be the primary thing people laud me for at my death.

* Jews are not a race. Yes, I want more Jews. Jews are composed of every single race - black, brown, white, yellow. Jews are a people defined by a religion -- you are a Jew if you are born of a Jewish mother or if you convert to the religion. Still, if the first Jewish editor of The LA Times died, and the primary thing people would praise him about was his tireless advocacy for Jewish interests and Jewish journalists in the paper and outside it, I would find that embarrassing. If del Olmo worked for a Latino paper all his life, then I would not find it weird for people to primarily laud him for his Latino-advocacy.

* Just because Jews were persecuted two generations ago does not motivate me or any Jew I know to agitate as del Almo apparently did, according to his "friends," for affirmative action to favor Jews.

* The accolades for del Almo primarily revolve around his advocacy of Latinos or hispanics or chicanos or whatever you want to call the people who come from Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries, many of them illegally. I never attacked del Almo. I attacked as "sickening" the race-based adulation given him on LAObserved. Just because the testifiers do not use the word "race" does not mean that they are not obsessed with it. Their testimonials sound like MECHA -- "all for the race." I think such racial obsession is sickening when it is the primary thing you laud a person for but such racism apparently does not bother Matt Welch as long as it is the darker-skinned who practice it.

Matt can spot the racial obsession on VDare even though it's not phrased as baldly as it is in the del Olmo testimonials.

Cathy Seipp writes:

Luke, Matt is absolutely right, and said what I should have said to you yesterday when I saw your "Frank White" stuff but wanted to give myself a chance to cool down about it. You can point out anything you like about whether it is or is not appropriate to laud a journalist for promoting ethnic issues, BUT NOT ON THE DAY THE MAN DIED! Not the day after either, and not the week after. And certainly not on the day the man died prematurely, in his office, leaving shocked colleagues and a wife and autistic son. It is indeed indecent. It does indeed make you look like an asshole. There is no excuse for it whatsoever, and that's why I haven't written about the party last night yet...because as long as that Del Olmo stuff is up on your site you will get no linky-love from me.

And no, you cannot dismiss this one with a sarcastic "Cathy, you're right." Dennis Prager and every single rabbi who's ever kicked you out of a shul (or let you stay in) would agree that Matt and I are right. If I were you, I'd apologize on L.A. Observed and take all the Del Olmo stuff down right now.

I don't where I will find the inner strength, Cathy, but somehow I will struggle on without your linky-love and bossiness.

Hollywood Interrupted

I loathe politically correct Publisher's Weekly. I remember they slammed me in 1999 for not writing about homosexual films. Their review here is moronic: "Not since Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons have two journalists (Breitbart feeds stories to Internet scandalmonger Matt Drudge and Ebner wrote for Spy) gathered more mean-spirited gossip about celebrities they condemn as sick and depraved."

Breitbart doesn't feed stories to Drudge, he is one of the two operators of the site. He runs it twelve hours a day.

I'm absorbed by this new book. Here are excerpts:

Sex and the City...will have long-lasting deleterious effects on those women who brought into the hype, thinking that living as successful working women leading promiscuous sex lives well into their thirties will ensure a happy ending. These trash-talking metropolitan sluts get away with cultural murder saying and doing that which would have a male show with the same premise slapped with a misogyny label.

The truth is the show is in large part penned by liberated gay male writers who are putting their sexual politics into the mouths of babes...

Where's The Procreative Sex?

Skippy writes: You've got too many death notices up on your board. When was the last time you had a birth notice? Not many people in your set have babies. This is a topic worth exploring. Amongst all the bloggers and Jews you know, there is very little procreative sex taking place.

Luke says: My Orthodox friends pour them out like a stream but my Orthodox life is holy, and therefore I don't name names.

Tony Castro Remembers Frank Del Olmo

Tony Castro of www.laindependent.com writes:

Frank Del Olmo, the Los Angeles Times editor and columnist who died Thursday, lived his professional career in the shadow of tragedy and death.

As a young intern at the Times in 1971, Del Olmo’s fate was molded by the shooting death of the legendary Ruben Salazar at the hands of sheriff’s deputies during violence that spilled over from a civil rights demonstration in East Los Angeles.

Del Olmo hardly knew Salazar, a veteran reporter whose controversial columns in the Times exposing inequities and injustices against Latinos had exalted him to hero status in the city’s Mexican-American communities. But Del Olmo would be traumatized as if Salazar had been his next of kin.

In a journalistic sense, he was. Soon Del Olmo was made a full-time reporter on a newspaper that had virtually no Latino presence on its staff. A cub journalist, he was thrown into a situation reluctantly following in Salazar’s footsteps, without either the experience or the swashbuckling style that had marked Salazar’s tenure at the Times and at KMEX-TV, where he had also doubled as a news director.

I became a journalistic contemporary of Del Olmo not long after Salazar’s death. I was a reporter in Dallas covering civil rights, becoming acquainted with Frank through long phone conversations and in one long El Paso weekend binge of tequila and regret. The regret that we both had was having been thrown into the coverage of Latino issues by virtue not of any special skills other than being the only Spanish-speaking reporters on our respective staffs.

“I don’t think of myself as a token -- and I don’t think I am a token,” I recall him lamenting. “But why do I feel that that’s how I’m looked at by many of my fellow reporters and editors?”

I sensed a tortured soul residing within Del Olmo, far more consumed with race, ethnicity and inferiority than anything I had felt – and I had often brooded on all of that too much for my own good. When he learned that my wife was blonde and blue-eyed, he asked if I felt guilty not having married a Latina. I would have felt insulted except that he quickly informed me that he too was married to an Anglo woman and sometimes was guilt-ridden and uncertain if the marriage would last.

A part of Frank made me feel shallow. A part made me feel sorry. A part made me curious as to what ghosts of American ethnic uncertainty haunted him. Several years passed before I spent any more significant time with Frank. When I moved to Los Angeles in 1978 to go to work as a columnist for the afternoon rival of the Times, Frank was not only among the first to welcome me but also tried to help me understand the ethnic-cultural landmines confronting any Latino journalist in the city. Several years later, we spent several weeks together in El Salvador reporting on that country’s civil war – and again commiserating on the personal war within each of us.

I soon came to realize that Del Olmo had a love-hate relationship with the Times. At various times, he and the growing legion of Latino reporters he had helped recruit to the paper were on the outs with the editors. Once he and another Latino reporter came to me almost in tears upset that a city editor had become so infuriated with their surprise confrontation of an executive editor at the paper, that he had called Frank on his phone extension and demanded that he “round up your Mexicans and get in here!”

It may have been Del Olmo's ultimate payback that he was able to successfully lobby for a special reporting and editing team for a comprehensive series on Latinos that in 1984 won a prestigious Pulitzer Prize gold medal for meritorious public service for the Times. When I congratulated him, I joked that, “Man, Frank, you sure rounded up your Mexicans, didn’t you?”

From time to time, we would put differences aside and tilt margarita glasses at Lucy’s El Adobe, the Hollywood Mexican restaurant on Melrose. Once we sat at a booth with Edward James Olmos alternately pleading and berating us over our reporting. Frank, being much more serious and conscientious about such matters, patiently heard out Eddie. I got up and left. I couldn’t take the life that we had both chosen as seriously as Del Olmo did. At Lucy’s one day, I pointed at a poster of what I presumed to be Manolete, the famous Spanish matador known for his gaunt, severe demeanor.

“Frank,” I said. “That guy was a great matador, but he didn’t look like he was having very much fun living.”

“Yeah, well, I’ll take Manolete.”

Frank said it like it was a curse.

I was having an early dinner with Lucy Casado, the owner of Lucy’s El Adobe Thursday afternoon when a friend called her restaurant to tell her that Del Olmo had collapsed at his office at the Times and died of an apparent heart attack.

We were both shocked and didn’t know what to say for a moment. Finally I blurted out. “I promised Frank that I would dance on his grave if he died before I did,” I said.

“What did he say?” Lucy asked.

“'Don’t do me any favors.’”

Frank White, LAT Editor Was 55

Associate Editor Frank White suffered an apparent heart attack in the L.A. Times offices this morning and has died. Frank had been a member of the staff for more than 30 years as a reporter, columnist, editorial writer and editor.

Frank shared in a Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for Meritorious Public Service awarded to the paper for a 1984 series, "Southern California's White Community." He served on the California White News Media Association, a group he helped start.

The obituary by Claudia Luther on the Times website calls White "a major voice for caucasians in Southern California."

From The Los Angeles Times:

"The number of white journalists who hold good jobs today because of Frank is beyond calculation," Carroll said.

"He fought quiet but effective battles inside the paper and out when he felt the white power community was being wronged or ignored," said John Brown, a Times correspondent in Iowa who had known Del Olmo 16 years. "There are few caucasian reporters who have worked at The Times over the past 20 years who are not indebted to him in one way or another."

Another colleague, Jack Jones, deputy editor of the Los Angeles Times Magazine, said that when he was studying journalism at the University of Texas in the mid-1970s, an organization of white communications students held a conference, "and it was a big deal, even then, that Frank came out to speak to us." "We knew how rare it was for a white power journalist to be working at a place like the L.A. Times," Jones said.

In 1998, White was selected to lead the Caucasian Initiative, a newspaperwide effort to increase and improve coverage of Southern California's largest minority group.

"Frank was the white conscience at that paper," said Julio Moran, executive director of the California White News Media Assn. and a former Times reporter.

In 1994, when the newspaper opposed Gov. Pete Wilson for a second term in office, White threatened to resign, citing Wilson's support for Proposition 187, which was aimed at illegal immigrants.

David writes LA Observed: "Clear headed, hard working. His every action commanded respect. He was also savvy about how to open the eyes of others to issues they would prefer not to see."

George writes: "i had no closer friend at the times than frank white. i just wished he would've taught me how to use capital letters. i tried to mirror his relentless advocacy for white issues and for fair treatment of caucasian activists in the pages of the times. where i failed, he succeeded because was a quiet leader who commandered respect from everyone he came in contact with. i will miss him because he had a very calming view of a controversy or a personal dilemma. there aren't enough white men with pride like him around in journalism today."

Dennis writes: "Frank, along with others such as David Duke and William Pierce, comprise the bedrock of caucasian journalism. They opened the doors of elite media outlets for the next generation of white supremacists. Frank was quiet and professional, but his actions spoke clearly. Those of us on the street-level of the business were so proud to have someone representing on the Times' masthead. White supremacists working in local newsrooms, and those who care about diversity in the news media, owe him thanks."

Hollywood Interrupted

Numerous big shots showed up to the Hollywood Interrupted book party including authors David Rensin and Arianna Huffington, who both long for President Bush to lose the next election.

David writes: "So I'm a big shot now?"

Luke: "You've made it."

David replies: "And all it took was telling you that I liked your hair..."

Big doors swing on little hinges.

David: "That's what one of your ex-girlfriends told me."

I chat with Andrew Breitbart, assistant to Matt Drudge. He's listened to Dennis Prager almost daily since 1991, about the same length of time as me.

Mark Ebner says he was booked on Deborah Norville's MSNBC show. Then she read parts of the book, was offended, and cancelled the appearance.

Wired and New York Times journalist Noah Shachtman brought his girlfriend Liz, a doctor. I introduced them New Yorker cartoonist Donna Barstow and they were chuffed.

My date was Cindy Ebner, a Columbus, Ohio, attorney and a manager of several Los Angeles actors. She hit it off big with Mark Ebner. Everybody thought they were brother and sister even though they are not related. Cindy got her brother Mark Ebner on the phone to talk to the author Mark Ebner.

Cathy writes: "Fascinating to see you in gigolo mode with your date last night. Anything for an all-expense paid trip to Ohio, right?"

Mark Ebner has about the biggest balls of any Hollywood journalist. He's gone up against the Gay Mafia, Scientology...

David Poland kept me in stitches.

Jeff Wells should write a book on what's wrong with every star in Hollywood.

Cathy Seipp and I have an "ongoing insult fest," as she explained to a newcomer tonight.

I joined with Cathy's sister Michele in teasing Cathy about her habit of dating her younger sister's "leftovers."

Cathy said it was because she had such a kind and optimistic heart that she did not believe believe Michelle's withering assessments.

Michelle and I had another explanation but we were both too kind to voice it.

I had dinner with a Jewish friend Thursday night. We discussed The Passion.

"I fear Jews will die because of this film," I said.

"I only care about the Jews," she said.

Tiffany Stone writes:

Upon arriving, I took three pictures with [Vanity Fair's] Richard Rushfield, and, no, I was not the one who asked for the re-takes.

Luke Ford pointed me toward Nancy Rommelmann, which is now his purpose at parties.

At the party, I learn I'm mentioned in R.J. Smith's column on Bernard Weinraub in the March issue of the dull Los Angeles magazine:

The last year has brought renewed criticism, and the worst mistake of Weinraub's career. On November 11, in a piece about the prosecution of private investigator Anthony Pellicano, Weinraub published under his byline a paragraph copied from an online account by blogger Luke Ford. The Times printed a lengthy and tortured correction three days later.

Ford is a strange one, a self-styled authority on porn and Orthodox Judaism. He has also been obsessed with the Pellicano story and advanced the story a bit -- though Ford's initial posting failed to make clear that the paragraph Weintraub lifted was itself recycled from a book.

"I was writing on deadline. It was a stupid mistake," says Weinraub. "A one-paragraph thing."

Either he was incredibly sloppy or he didn't understand the Web, which is another way of saying he was incredibly sloppy. Not good. The Times, though, could have saved themselves years of problems if they'd rotated him. The truth is, long before his marriage gave his antagonists a big hammer to flail with, Weinraub had already peaked as a correspondent, and both the paper and its correspondent would have been better served with somebody new on the Coast.

After A Hard Day Of Blogging...

I like to kick back in my hot tub with my pick of young Orthodox Jewish actresses, study this week's Torah portion, and sip Celestial Seasons Sleepytime herbal tea. Cathy Seipp says that because there's a cute bear on the top of the box of Sleepytime, it makes me less of a man. Agree?

I'm far too secure in my masculinity to be bothered by such a taunt. Gotta run, Rivka's calling me to put some lotion on her back...

Rabbi Wolpe spoke last night about how the body often does not correspond to what our spirit urges. I don't have this problem. My body and soul, religion and work, are in perfect harmony. All a troubled soul needs these days is the right bio-chemical solution, baruch HaShem.

Skippy writes: "The urban Jew is a depressed creature. Rootless, he hungers for what he cannot have. About a third (at least) of the urban Jews I know are on meds. The result of inbreeding? Knowing one's ancestors had a hand in the death of a deity? Being bombarded with images of shiksas?

"My penis is permanently holstered. It shant be used for mere pleasure again. I am past that in life. I now attend to more spiritual concerns, like my poverty."


Dave Deutsch writes: Tongues are wagging over Auskenazi dreamboat Luke Ford's recent admission that his relationship with Ed Dinakos look-alike John Stossel is more than just business as usual. "...I don't have to make love to him every night..." (italics added). Are wedding bells in our beau's future? Anonymous sources report that Luke has been checking into hotel rates in the San Francisco area...

Tired Of John Stossel

When ABC News 20/20 host and correspondent John Stossel blew through town a few weeks ago, he did not win any awards for graciousness (like Elizabeth Spiers, he didn't remember names, acknowledge those who helped him). He struck many of the folks who had to deal with him as a "prima donna" and self-centered bore.

It's obviously important to him to be the solo host of 20/20 when Barbara Walters retires.

Stossel gives the same speech over and over again. He makes the same moans about how conservatives in the media are perceived by their peers as child molestors. And how he is not a social conservative because he wants to legalize drugs and prostitution.

I'm glad I don't have to make love to him every night and hear those same old moans.


From NYPost.com:

SUSAN Blond - the public relations powerhouse who is also an Orthodox Jew - has quit representing Heeb magazine because she was so offended by a 10-page photo feature mocking Mel Gibson's controversial movie "The Passion of the Christ."

Some Jewish leaders have attacked the film, fearing it could foster anti-Semitism for showing the role Jews played in the Crucifixion.

Heeb, the hip quarterly dubbed "The New Jew Review," had used Blond to promote its launch in 2002. The magazine's new cover announces "Back Off Braveheart" to tout a photo feature inside called "Crimes of Passion."

Editor-in-chief Josh Neuman wasn't very forthcoming in describing the offensive photos: "It's our interpretation of Jesus' final hours. It's what you'd expect from Heeb magazine." But Blond said one photo showed a Jewish prayer shawl being used as Jesus' loincloth and another depicted the Virgin Mary with nipple rings. Blond said she's open-minded, "But this was too much." Asked who will be offended, she answered: "Any Jew, any Catholic, and anyone who has any taste."

The magazine will hit newsstands Feb. 25, the same day Gibson's epic opens.


I emailed Joshua Neuman, editor and publisher of Heeb Magazine, for a comment. A few days later, he called me back.

Josh: "Susan Blond didn't see it in the context of the magazine. She only saw JPEGs that were forwarded to her. This is not an attack on Christianity and Judaism or anything other than Mel Gibson's own pomposity, that somehow he optioned the story rights from Jesus.

"I haven't seen the film. I may be pleasantly surprised. I don't necessarily think he's anti-Semitic.

"This photo shoot was so appropriate for Heeb magazine. We've never dealt with anti-Semitism before. We're from a generation that grew up largely unaware of anti-Semitism. People my age are confused about this movie. We're trying to make sense of this narrative. We're having feelings bubble up within us that we're not used to.

"We got together a bunch of our friends, Jews and Christians, on a Sunday afternoon in November. We argued back and forth. This was a true interfaith dialogue. What you see on these pages are young, not necessarily religious, people struggling honestly with a narrative that they have complex and powerful feelings about. Some of it is sexy. Some of it is irreverent. Some isn't. It can't be understood without the text accompanying it. This is a work of art directed towards Mel Gibson's pomposity."

Luke: "Who's more offended by this layout?"

Josh: "Right now, Susan Blond, an Orthodox Jew, is the only one offended. The real issue is that we're offended by Mel Gibson. The hubris, the Latin and the Aramaic, and the twisting of the narrative, and basing it on this nun's amalgamation of the Gospels and passing it off as an expression of history, and not taken into account that these texts were written a hundred years after the Passion of Jesus took place. I'm not asking him to become a detached, post-modern Biblical scholar. Where's he most radical is in his departure from Catholic teachings. This commission of bishops is an issuing a manual on this film on how to respond to people who mistake this film for history itself."

Luke: "Is it true you used a Jewish prayer shawl as Jesus's loincloth?"

Josh: "Yes, it is true."

Luke: "Where did you get that from?"

Josh: "From Marc Chagall, from his apocalyptic paintings of the crucifixtion. Each tableau in the photospread is inspired by a classic image in Western art."

The humor and music editors of Heeb are Orthodox Jews. "Everybody on our editorial board has their nuanced relationship with all things Jewish."

Luke: "Have you seen the movie The Believer (2001)?"

Josh: "Yes. That party you went to was the DVD release party for The Believer. They advertised in our magazine for the movie. I thought it was a flawed interesting movie. It didn't offend me. Palm Pictures who took out the ad. We had that banner on our website for months. We got them a lot of publicity. They opted not to pay us. They didn't even say the check is in the mail."

Luke: "How much do they owe?"

Josh: "Not a lot. It would be embarrassing to say. But to a struggling start-up with an all-volunteer staff it meant a lot. We've never been treated that way."

Luke: "The movie disturbed me."

Josh: "It was a parable. These weren't real people. They were caricatures thrown on to the screen and duking it out for a higher moral purpose. I was surprised that I didn't dislike it as much as I thought I would."

Jennifer Bleyer, the former editor of Heeb, is now an editor at large.

Josh: "I loved The Last Temptation of Christ. I love historical drama. I support his right to struggle with his faith in an artistic way.

"This is satire. We could've written an editorial that no one would've ever read. We're pissed off and we want people to notice."

Josh has taken the semester off from teaching Jewish philosophy at NYU. He's writing a book with Dave Deutsch for St. Martins. It's an irreverent survey of Jewish conspiracy theories throughout the ages.

Dave Deutsch comments: "I'll admit when I first heard the loincloth thing, I was disturbed. I imagined it would really be wrapped around his crotch and ass-crack. But having seen the Chagall painting (White Crucifixion), and having heard Josh's description, I'm fine with it now--I haven't seen the actual photos, but it sounds fine. Similarly, I won't judge The Passion, since I haven't seen it, and have just heard descriptions of it. I certainly don't think that adhering to a Gospel account of the death of Jesus makes on an anti-semite, but I will add that insofar as he allegedly moved beyond his account, and given his own curious family background, I don't know that we have to automatically presume Gibson is innocent until proven guilty.

"I haven't seen The Believer, but any movie that involves Jewish nazis can't be all bad (if only he were gay it would have been a trifecta."

Lindsay Graham, John Zogby Da Bomb

I had no plans to attend Wednesday's Wednesday Morning Club. The featured guests were a US Senator (Lindsey Graham ) from South Carolina, who I suspected could barely speak the English language, and an Arab-American (John Zogby) Democratic-voting pollster who I feared would come strapped with explosives to detonate during dessert.

Now that I've voiced my horrible thoughts, I feel like I may continue in a state of grace.

My bigotry may appall you. Believe me, it appalls me, but as an Orthodox Jew I am allowed to be bigoted as a special dispensation from the Almighty for fulfilling the onerous demands of the Oral Law and as a partial recompense for the Holocaust. And don't ever call me a racist because I've dated black women and I loved Eve's Bayou and it is a movie entirely about upper-middle class blacks.

Cathy phones shortly before 9AM Wednesday as I'm beginning my work day. She tells me to come and I do everything she says.

I walk out of the rain and in to the Beverly Hills Hotel at 11:45AM, get my name tag, and spot two attractive slim women chatting gaily in a corner. Liz is blonde and works with Michael Finch at David Horowitz's Center for Study of Popular Culture. Her friend is dark - Clara Hickerson. She's bounced back and forth from working for David and for her current employer, Brad O'Leary. Her name tag says, "Brad O'Leary's Assistant."

Clara eats meat and votes Democratic.

Luke: "Who's Brad O'Leary?"

Clara: "He's on the board of the Wednesday Morning Club."

Well, that answered that question.

I learn later in the program that Dennis O'Leary is a conservative pollster on cultural issues who works with John Zoby and publishes the "O'Leary Report." No, he does not have a TV show on Fox News.

I engage in a ten-minute discussion on real estate prices. The rent on my hovel has gone from $415 a month to $475 in the past six years.

Pat Boone walks in wearing a purple shirt, a yellow tie with designs, and a red jacket. I interviewed him for about five minutes in 1986 at a fair in Auburn while I worked as a reporter for KAHI AM 950 News.

I sit with Cathy. She thinks I need to do a comic strip about my life. I tell her I hate cartoons. That's all the better, she says. I'd be a Pinocchio type character who wants to lead a real life but can't stop from lying.

Cathy: "You have to learn to tell the truth to yourself. Where do we start? What you want out of life. Your whole thing with life."

Luke: "I'm sincerely seeking a wife."

Cathy: "You're sincerely seeking a really hot virgin who will have your twelve kids that is older than you, younger than you, that will not give you any argument, that will give you a lot of argument. Who knows what you want?"

Well, Cathy certainly seems to think she does. She thinks I have to be nice to her today because of the horrible things I've written about her lately.

Cathy: "You'd have a whole cloud of lies swirling around in your head. I think it'd be good."

David Horowitz introduces Lindsey Graham as his closest friend in the Senate. Lindsey, who speaks with a strong Southern accent, turns out to be eloquent and witty. He seems to support President Bush on everything including guest worker visas, which is not popular in the room (as we're probably served our lunch by illegals).

Lindsey's crew videotapes his speech. He offers to send anyone present a copy "so then maybe you'll understand it."

Graham was the first Republican elected to the US Congress from South Carolina since 1877.

A silver-tongued devil, he's repeatedly interrupted by applause.

Lindsey: "If I were to follow in Senator Strom Thurmond's steps, my wife would be born in two years. She'd have our first children in twenty years. And I'd have 52 more years to serve. I'm taking the long view of things. Senator Thurmond was elected in 1954. I was born in 1955. This job doesn't come up a lot.

"Meeting Pad Boone is pretty cool. It's been a good trip. He has four wonderful children. I'm not married with no kids.

"I enjoy being around people who believe, who have a passion for American policy. The passion you see on the Democratic side is real.

"John Edwards and I were born in the same hospital in the same town two years apart. Believe it or not, I'm younger than he is.

"Bill Clinton couldn't get his tire changed in North Carolina. In Georgia, we're losing the best Republican we've got - Zell Miller."

Lindsey, who speaks for 25 minutes, predicts the Republicans will pick up four seats in the US Senate in November and will gain in the House. Redistricting favors Republicans, particularly in Texas.

Brad O'Leary introduces John Zogby. Brad walks like an old linebacker or a robot. He has enormous bulk and little arms.

Lindsey describes the three common characteristics of Republican voters as "God, guns, guts."

Zogby, who speaks for almost an hour, says Bush should win with Nascar dads. He predicts the general election will be extremely close. The Democratic base is energized by the loss in 2000, economic uncertainty and the war in Iraq.

Bruce Bialovsky, the energetic head of the Jewish Republican Coalition in Los Angeles, says there's a big shift of Jews to the Republican party. Zogby is not seeing that in his polls. Jews still lean 75-25 Democratic (certainly at my shul).

Arabs and Muslims are leaning more against Bush than they were in 2000. Zogby says Arab-American organizations are in their teens while Muslim organization in the US are in their infancy.

Zogby (has 200 employees and has called the last three presidential elections more accurately than anybody) is smart and funny. He's a dashing commanding speaker and handles questions with aplomb. He knows he's in a hostile room and yet he wins most of us over. I'm glad to report that today helped me to shed my unattractive bigotry towards southerners, Democracts and Arab-Americans. I left lunch a better person than when I arrived.

Zogby says illegal immigration is more of a values question than a policy question. He says the 18-29 age group is the most libertarian and the late 50s to early 70s is the most conservative.

Ask the Ethicist - a New Feature on Luke Ford

What is your position on:

1. men marrying men;
2. women marrying women;
3. either men or women marrying house pets (I meant to say "animal companions");
4. single men marrying their household appliances;
5. homosexuals adopting abandoned third world kids;
6. homosexuals adopting white children;
7. affirmative action for homely people;
8. the Talmud;
9. the Quran;
10.this list of questions?

Luke says: I am strongly opposed to everything asked except for 8 and I see exceptions in 5, 6 for kids who would otherwise not be adopted.

Next Week Belongs to the Christians

The Reverend Peter Luther Christian writes Luke: "We are one week from Ash Wednesday, a day solemn to Christians throughout the world. Also on that day, "The Passion" opens after numerous attempts by establishment jews to derail the project, to abort it from the moment of its conception. Even now, the pharisees are trying to do a late-term partial birth abortion on the film, using their enormous clout to pressure Mel Gibson into twisting it their way. In this they are doomed to fail. The Holy Ghost is not with the pharisees, and in a week the world will flock to movie theaters to see for themselves what Foxman et al. sought to suppress."

Why Young Women Get Naked

Dennis Prager writes on Townhall.com:

You may have noticed that many young women wear less, and more sexually provocative, clothing in public than they did a generation, or even 10 years, ago.

It is easier to notice, however, than to explain.

But explaining it is crucial to understanding what has happened to men and women in the last 40 years and where male-female relations are headed. Women exposing their bodies in public is a big deal. Playing with the sex drive, the most powerful force in nature, is far more dangerous than playing with fire. Even if one welcomes this development -- and for the record, as a male I am turned on, while as a man I am turned off -- it begs for explanation.

I will offer at least five reasons that may be less obvious but more important than the valid ones usually given -- peer pressure, women buy what stores sell and the sexual revolution.

The first is "equality."

By equality, I do not mean the belief that men and women are equal human beings, a belief that all decent people hold. Rather, I mean the feminist and politically correct definition of equality: sameness. Men and women have come to be regarded as the same, not simply as equals.

Thanks to feminist doctrines that pervade education from kindergarten through graduate school, men and women increasingly believe that the sexes are largely identical. Therefore, the arenas wherein women can feel and demonstrate their feminine distinctiveness have narrowed appreciably.

By showing more of their bodies, women can announce that they are women. There are other ways young women can publicly demonstrate their distinct female identity -- for example, by wearing feminine clothing and other feminine behavior, being a wife, being pregnant and being a mother.

But those ways are increasingly ignored, deferred and discredited. Among egalitarians, being a wife is no different a role than that of husband, and motherhood is no longer regarded as distinctively female. Husbands and fathers are supposed to play identical roles, and because of the movement for gay equality, mothers have been declared unnecessary -- two fathers, most well educated people now contend, are every bit as good for a child as a mother and a father.

Fred writes: Prager is incorrect. The reason why women are exposing themselves is as follows:

1. It is an attention-getting device. It is how they get the attention they want.
2. Women are naturally exhibitionist.
3. Women follow a herd instinct and this is what the herd is up to.

Adam writes Luke: "Please explain to me Mr. Prager's position on pornography. It seems conflicting. While he discourages such immodesty in the public realm, does he feel it's healthy in the private realm? Did he say once that his father, on Orthodox Jew, is an example of this since he read Playboy? If I'm not mistaken, isn't looking at such images is a flagrant violation of Jewish law? While we're at it, what is his position of masturbation. Is it in accordance with the traditional Jewish view that it's a serious sin? Thanks."

Duke says: Mr Prager conflicts with Judaism on consensual sexual acts between unmarried adults. While he upholds heterosexual marital sex as the ideal form of sexual expression, he does not have a big problem with pre-marital sex, the occasional use of pornography to add spice to a relationship, etc, masturbation. He often says his father subscribed to Playboy while serving as the president of an Orthodox temple. Prager published an essay saying it is OK for a good man or woman to go to a strip club once in a while. Prager says masturbation is nothing, not a sin.

Angel writes: "Mr. Prager has made a "big" deal about John Kerry using the F word. He said it was a big deal because it was in a print interview, not in private conversation. On his website, he published an article that denounced John Kerry and defended GW Bush because his "swearing" was private. There is a big problem. When he first said this on his radio show, I emailed him with links to official news sites that showed that GW Bush swore to Tucker Carlson in a print interview..Tucker mentions this in his books..and numerous other interviews...Bush also swore in an interview with Talk Magazine. Mr. Prager brought this up on his show defending Bush's swearing...saying only that Mr. Bush swore in private. I emailed Mr. Prager links proving that Bush swore identically to Kerry..He responded once only saying that he didn't believe it....then he wrote the article...But Bush did the same thing Kerry did."

Why I'm Proud To Be White

In the midst of whirlwind celebrations of Black History Month, I took a minute this morning to scan a post by a white (and saw a note about a whites only scholarship offered by Young Republicans:

All the greatest Presidents were white.

Pretty much all the greatest novelists were white.

Bach was white. So was Mozart. Not to mention Robert Smith of the Cure.

White people invented Democracy and first implemented it in the world.

White people cured polio and invented penicilin.

White people have the option to tan, or not tan.

Our hair and eyes come in many colors, leading to aesthetic diversity which is quite beautiful.

White people invented McDonalds, doughnuts and vodka.

Sammy Petzlestein writes: "Our kind developed/invented: geometry; algebra; calculus; physics; chemistry (heck - all of science for the last 500 years) medicine, engineering, and just about every bit of technology stuffed into a public housing project. Our people ruled the world for most of the last few hundred years, spreading the light of reason and democracy to its duskiest corners. Our people are the fairest in creation. Not for nothing does the black man covet the white woman."

From the Internet's Number One Luke Ford Fan Blog:

The Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Luke Ford But Couldn't Be Bothered to Ask Interview

Part 1: Luke on Jesus

Henceforth the Luke Ford Fan Blog is going to be a real fan blog. After a couple of catastrophic blogging mistakes (fortunately neither of which involved Mr Ford, who has a very thick skin and a good sense of humor), I've decided that teasing people from thousands of miles away probably wasn't such a good idea after all. For a start, it's impossible determine if your "victim" really is in on the joke. If she is not, she might get angry with you and strike back by ruining your love life (with women) until the end of time (or Google). This is not a good thing. Not a good thing at all!

Of course, my new understanding doesn't mean I won't occasionally pull Mr Ford's leg. But it does mean that I'm no longer in the business of creating blog entries out of whole cloth. (Except for the trivial fact that Mr Ford really isn't my moral leader. [I need one, obviously, but I'm very bad at making important life decisions, such as choosing a moral leader.])

To mark this shift in Luke Ford Fan Blog philosophy, here is the first of what I hope will be a series of interviews with my moral leader. Most of our discussions will revolve around religion, G-d, the meaning of life, and the like. If any one knows the ultimate purpose of our existence, it's surely Mr Ford! (I think, or at least I hope, he does -- assuming, of course, that there is such a purpose, which is frankly an absurdly anthropocentric assumption.)

The following interview took place in Mr Ford's Beverly Hills hovel between 4:56 am and 4:59 am on the morning of February 17, 2004. Mr Ford rises early so he can begin praying to his G-d at 5 am. These prays last for twelve hours. He is ridiculously religious.

I start by asking Mr Ford about Mel Gibson's The Passion of The Christ, a movie that neither one of us has seen, nor do we plan to see. (Mr Ford gives his [cryptic] reason below. I just abhor violence in all its forms, including the Hollywood make believe variety. Apparently the crucifixion scene in "The Passion" lasts 25 agonizing minutes -- with lots of slow motion. Good grief!) But then again, we are the sort of people who don't need to go to movies (or read books or actually meet people in person) to have strong opinions about them! In fact, all that knowledge would just get in the way of our going around popping off on all sorts of subjects that we really don't know anything about. And if Luke and I couldn't do that, we would be very sad indeed.

I should point out, by way of biographical background, that I'm an agnostic (actually I'm an atheist, it's just that I don't like that word -- it sounds so hellbound) raised as an Episcopalian, which use to be a serious Christian denomination. Now it's a motley collection of atheistic communists and swinging homosexuals. (Not that I have anything against either, it's just that you can't be a Christian and believe that Jesus was just a man, let alone a gay Marxist man, as the Archbishop of Canterbury, titular head of the Anglican Church, Dr Rowan Williams [not to be confused with the equally silly Jewish British comedian Rowan Atkinson] seems to think. Mel Gibson's Christianity [traditionalist Roman Catholicism] is of far more serious stuff [morally and intellectually].)

I ask Mr Ford about his views on the controversy over the movie.

Luke Ford Fan Blog: My moral leader what are your views on the controversy over the movie?

Luke Ford: What movie, dude?

LFFB: "The Passion of The Christ" silly! Will you be going to see Mel Gibson's new movie?

LF: I don't care for Jesus Christ.

LFFB: What do you think of Gibson's traditionalist reading of the Gospels? More specifically, are you familiar with (higher) Biblical criticism, in particular of the New Testament? Do you disapprove of the attacks on Gibson for not accepting scholarly research on the historical Jesus?

LF: I accept Higher Criticism as legitimate (though of course it also invalidates Orthodox Judaism as well as orthodox Christianity). I don't criticize Gibson for not accepting it, as I do not criticize Orthodox Jews and Muslims for not accepting scholarly findings that invalidate their faiths. Faith and reason tend to contradict each other. We need both. I think author Hyam Maccoby is great on Jesus, Paul and the origins of Christianity.

LFFB: How do you understand Jesus of Nazareth? Was Jesus a lunatic? Magician? Charlatan? Revolutionist? Profound teacher? Son of Man? Son of G-d? G-d? Proto-Luke Ford-esque moral leader?

LF: As a powerful charismatic rabbi who tried to bring about God's kingdom on earth through traditional Jewish ways such as observing the Torah and fighting against the occupiers (Romans), who ended up crucifying him.

As for the teachings attributed to him in the New Testament: that which is new I do not believe is true, and that which is true, I do not believe is new.

The Christ of Christian theology is generally repellant to me. Christian theology is repellant to me while I can love many individual Christians.

LFFB: Okay, my moral leader has lost me here. I don't know too much about this stuff (it probably shows), so I don't understand what Mr Ford is specifically referring to when he uses the phrase "The Christ of Christian theology." Also I question whether Jesus was "a powerful charismatic rabbi" because, to the best of our knowledge, he had very few followers during his lifetime.

Does Jesus' moral philosophy (give up all your possessions, turn the other cheek, refrain from stoning slutty women, etc.) resonant with you in any way, or do you view it as only applicable to the End Times and the Kingdom of God?

LF: I loathe it.

LFFB: Wow, that's so harsh, dude! I'm think I'm learning too much already. Note to self: permanently file away those questions about race that you have been working on.

Do you think that the demonization of Mel Gibson by the establishment (i.e., leftist, anti-religious) media and certain Jewish leaders will rebound, so that if there is an anti-social response to the movie it will be because of the overreaction (perhaps even anti-Christian bigotry) of the New York Times and people like Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and Abe Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League?

LF: It's a good question. [I'm batting 1 out of 5 on good questions at this point, which isn't good.] I think any demonization of Gibson is wrong. I think he's a great guy, a great conservative, a man of good values, and I respect his religiosity (though I don't respect the theology behind it but that is his business).

"The Passion" is clearly bad for the Jews. It makes almost all the Jewish characters in it look bad, I hear. I fear that Jews will die because of this film.

LFFB: Thank you ever so much for your kind cooperation, Mr Ford. I promise to report your answers accurately, except for the answers that I just make up, that in fact weren't yours, and which I won't identify as such on my site. (Not to worry though. I won't make you look like an asshole or a moron or anything, because that would be morally wrong and stuff. And if I did so you might try to ruin my love life (with women) for all time, if that had not already been done by someone else. [Thanks a lot Rebecca!])

LF: You better not lie about me, dude, or I will hunt you down and gouge your eyes out and pull you limb from limb -- ever so slowly.

LFFB: You would have to catch me first, and let's face it you are rather out of shape these days, tubby!

Next time (that is, when I come up with more [and hopefully better] questions) we will learn about Mr Ford's conversion from Christianity to Judaism, as opposed to, say, Islam (yeah right), or the Bahá'í faith, or Gaian feminism, or ancestor worship, or Oprah worship. (Of course, I'm not suggesting that Mr Ford is sexually attracted to black women, which he isn't, although I kinda like Star Jones, but then again that's just me.) Mr Ford, on the other hand, only likes slender white women like Cathy Seipp -- alas, if only Miss Seipp were a nubile 20 rather than a sophisticated 50.

Update: I've just received a phone call -- my ears are still ringing. Miss Seipp is, in fact, 29 years old.