How To Balance Your Life
For ten years, I've been going to Rabbi David Wolpe lectures, thrilled by his eloquence.
I've read his books and I've long hoped that one day he'd read my writings.
I now think he might.
Thursday night, April 22, we had our longest chat ever. It lasted five minutes.
The first time I ever spoke to Rabbi Wolpe was after his lecture on his God book. I made a public challenge about how Conservative Judaism has led the way in removing God from Jewish life. I tried to list off a number of Conservative rabbis such as Harold Kushner, Mordecai Kaplan and Harold Schulweis, who I believed were atheists. Rabbi Wolpe shushed me, insisting I was speaking lashon hara (gossip).
Afterwards, during his book signing, I made a pest of myself inquiring about his views on the passages in the Torah condemning homosexual behavior. Rabbi Wolpe said he believed the authors of those passages were homophobic. I went so far out of my mind that I could only come down to earth by scoffing five desserts and hitting aggressively on chicks.
From my March 2003 update:
Rabbi David Wolpe created the Friday Night Live program, my favorite night of the month (yes, I know I lead a dreary life).
Last night we discussed the dull state of Jewish journalism. I plugged my interview with Stephen Fried, author of The New Rabbi, a book on David's rabbi father Gerald. I said it was the best work of Jewish journalism in my memory.
"Did you tell Stephen that?" Rabbi Wolpe asked. I have.
With few exceptions, Conservative rabbis have marched lockstep in decrying the book, with the type of rigid unthinking uniformity that would make Stalin proud. None could me give me a cogent answer as to why rabbis who go on TV to give their opinions and frequently court publicity should be treated as private citizens while we hold all other public figures to some account for their behavior.
Here's the program note:
"In conjunction with USC Hillel, ATID is sponsoring a dessert reception for graduate students and young professionals, featuring Rabbi David Wolpe. Join Rabbi Wolpe for a discussion of how to balance all that life throws at us--school, career, social life, family obligations--and how to make Judaism a part of that balance. Meet graduate students and young professionals from throughout the Los Angeles-area. Century Plaza Hotel. Café Mystique."
The best way I've found over the years of grabbing Rabbi Wolpe's attention in a crowded room is to carry a book and to appear as though you are deeply pondering some difficult passage. He usually comes over and inquires what you're reading. Tonight it was Jeffrey Myers' superb Privileged Moments: Encounters With Writers.
Rabbi Wolpe asks where I published. I tell him about my blog at www.MoralLeader.com. He smiles.
It's a cold night and we're outside.
He begins his talk: "I asked for heat lamps and it looks like what they are about to bring out are lamps."
I turn around and there's a Mexican with a lamp but no heat.
Where Luke Grew Up
I just walked down my street under a cascade of purple jacaranda blossoms. It feels like Avondale. The college yearbook at Avondale was called The Jacaranda. The conclusion of the excellent 1988 Meryl Streep movie A Cry in the Dark (about family friends Michael and Lindy Chamberlain) took place there.
Meditations On Community
I’ve long sought a secure personal identity through ties to a community but I’ve done it in ways that have guaranteed I will not achieve what I tell myself I want. Therefore, I must now embrace the life I’ve chosen and lie down in my van in peace. I am a writer and as such I’m condemned to live in exile as long as I am authentic to my craft. My insights into life are too keen, my heart is too pure, and my intentions are too noble, to ever be accepted by the unthinking masses. I am part of the vanguard of the proletariat, the intellectual elite, onward Christian soldiers, Maccabean revolutionaries, doomed to a life of Sisyphean efforts to rouse the bourgeoisie from their moral slumber. I should not expect thanks.
Over a year ago, I watched Sunset Boulevard. Tonight I watched Breakfast at Tiffanys.
I feel that my art is confined by my need to make a living. I could produce so much finer stuff if I had some old bag paying my way, the type of lady who'd let me run after the grad students in my spare time, study the sacred texts, and keep my holy days. I'd like to make every day a holy day where I do not touch money nor soil my hands with work.
Cathy Seipp writes:
Am I sure I am not the Defamer? Or is it Carly Milne, who worked with Nick Denton on Fleshbot?
David Poland writes Luke: "I know you're not the defamer... You can't write that short."
Luke Joins Learned Elders Of Zion
I'll be guest blogging on Protocols starting May 12. I'll finally join the cognitive Jewish elite taking over the blogosphere. "Those who sow in tears will reap in joy."
Reading that essay by Eric Adler, I'd have to disagree with most of what Heeb magazine has published. Yet I like many of the individuals with the magazine such as Jennifer Bleyer, Joshua Neuman and Dave Deutsch.
One can enjoy the company of those with whom one disagrees much more than one enjoys the company of those with whom one agrees. I don't particularly enjoy gatherings of Republicans, for instance. I generally prefer the company of fellow writers.
I know which group of Jews over the past few years has stayed with me and which group has rejected me. I guess I dance today with the ones who brung me.
'Would You Like Balls In Your Drink?'
My attitude to modernity resembles that of Evelyn Waugh (as does my prose). Cathy Seipp writes:
Jackie writes: ""Solid black balls"? Surely Cathy knows how threatening you would find this creature. But dalmatians are notorious for having health problems, and need a lot of TLC and looking-after. In the absence of a wife, this might be just the life partner you need."
The Sweet Smell Of Success
Cathy Seipp writes:
Maximus Pontifex writes Cathy:
Here are ten more that I love, and need to be added to your special list:
1. Christmas In July
I spoke by phone to producer Michael Z. Gordon August 16, 2002.
Michael: "I've been in the music business almost my entire [adult] life. I was working on a couple of projects such as Pulp Fiction. Through Pulp Fiction, I made some contacts that led me to [producer] David Glasser. He was raising money for the movie The Devil and Daniel Webster. I represent an investment group and we decided to put some money into the movie. It became a two-picture deal with Narc. We were mainly in it for The Devil and Daniel Webster but it turns out that Narc may be the one that saves us on this thing. We've had many problems on Devil but with Narc, you couldn't ask for more.
"We've completed principle photography on Devil. We've finished a producer's cut. Alec Baldwin was the director. His first film. He had taken on much more than he could handle. It was nothing but problem after problem. He walked off the set in the middle of shooting to take his family to Hawaii for two weeks. Then he filed a lawsuit against David Glasser to get some director's money supposedly owed him. Meanwhile, Alec had invested a sizable amount of money in the film. It was like cutting off your nose to spite your face. There were some other sordid details that held up the film.
"Now we're looking for a domestic distributor."
Luke: "You've got many big stars. Alec Baldwin, Dan Akroyd, Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Love Hewett, Kim Cattrall."
Michael: "It's a $30 million independent production. It really isn't a bad movie."
Luke: "What was your role on the project?"
Michael: "Anybody who put in money got to be a producer. We came in during principle photography to salvage the thing when it looked like it would go over to the bonding company. I knew somebody who put a million dollars into the film. It still wasn't enough. The film was like a big black hole that kept eating everything up that we put into it. It took a year to edit the thing. It took Baldwin months to finish his cut. Then it took months for us to do a producer's cut."
Luke: "The director's cut wasn't commercial?"
Michael: "It had a lot of problems."
Luke: "And Narc?"
Michael: "Whoever puts in money gets to be a producer. There are 17 producers on Narc. He who puts in the most money wins. David Glasser did everything he could to get these pictures done. I didn't give much credence to Narc at first. Devil was such a big film with such big names. Narc didn't seem to be in the same league.
"Tom Cruise saw the film Narc and liked it so much he went to Paramount, who bought the domestic rights on his behalf. He became the executive producer."
Luke: "You've been in the music business most of your life."
Michael: "I've written and produced music for movies, TV and commercials. I wrote my first song when I was 20 and it was a hit called, "Surfer's Stomp". I wrote many hits including, "Out of Limits." I toured as leader of the Marketts and The Routers. My first movie was with the Routers in "Surf Party" and second was with the Marketts in, "The Name of The Game is Kill". I have produced music for movies such as "Pulp Fiction", "Angels In the Endzone", "From The Earth To The Moon" and for such commercials as The National Car Rental Commercial "Let's Go!" and more."
Luke: "And what has been your principle contribution to Devil and Narc?"
Michael: "Financial. Keeping these projects afloat."
Luke: "Have you put your own money into them?"
Michael: "Yes, unfortunately. Well, I shouldn't say that. At first it looked bleak but now it looks better."
Luke: "And you are credited as a producer on the movie Angels in the Endzone. What was your role?"
Michael: "I did the music."
Luke: "And you're credited as a producer on From the Earth to the Moon. You did music as well?"
Luke: "What do you envision for your movie producing career from here?"
Michael: "To be honest, I'm thinking about just getting out of the business soon when I have all my commitments fulfilled. I went to the doctor after a year and a half of this and my blood pressure was through the roof. And my cholesterol was sky high. He said, 'What happened to you?' I said, 'I'm in the movie business. That will do it every time.' A lot of sleepless nights, like you can't believe. You can't believe what people tell you. They'll say anything and it doesn't come through when you're counting on it.
"We were involved with a picture called Northfork, with a great cast including Nick Nolte, Daryl Hannah, James Wood, Peter Coyote. They were filming in Montana. I'm waiting for a wire to go through so they can continue the principle photography. And the wire never came through. I don't know if this sort of things happens just to me."
Luke: "Other people have told me similar stories."
Michael: "That's comforting. I have to tell you that it is an exciting business."
Luke: "Exciting like cancer."
Michael: "I wanted to graduate into films from music. I thought this would be a great opportunity. In a sense it has been. I've gotten a lot of offers and a lot of projects sent my way.
"I'm not 20 anymore. I've got a family. I just discussed this last night with my wife. They want me to go to Europe for six weeks for another film. I said I didn't know if I could do that. I have two boys, aged six and nine. This is my second marriage. On my first one, I was a raving lunatic for 20 years. This time round, I'm much more settled. I enjoy being home and working around the house.
"I've sold two scripts but neither have been made."
Luke: "Did you visit the set of Daniel Webster?"
Michael: "One time. It was trying to plug holes to keep the ship from sinking. It wasn't a question of whether the shoot was going well..."
Luke: "I've always wondered why people invest in movies."
Michael: "It's a terrible investment. Terrible. The difference between me and 99% of investors is that the money I put in personally was in the form of a loan backed up by personal guarantees and collateral. My wife is a conservative person and she wouldn't talk to me for the first six weeks after I first loaned the money..."
Luke: "Yet you still couldn't sleep and your blood pressure went way up."
Michael: "After we did more due diligence, it was frightening to look at the whole situation. I had to do some drastic measures to make sure that I got my money back."
Luke: "I thought the music business was a rough business."
Michael: "This is terrible. I come from a conservative background, despite being in the music business. It just blows my mind that people get away with this. But I'm taking it easier now. I'm on blood pressure medication and at least my blood pressure is normal now."
Luke: "Didn't you know about Alec Baldwin's reputation as a troublemaker?"
Michael: "I didn't. To be a director, you have to be a people person to get the most out of your cast and crew. He is the most anti-social person I've met in my life. He had a disagreement with the editor and he decked him."
To Cecile du Bois On Her Birthday - My Sternest Regards
Dave Deutsch, Heeb Magazine Humor Editor, Dreams Of Luke
My Final Words With Edgar J. Scherick
7/15/02, at the bedside of the Jew who converted to Roman Catholicism in 2000 under the influence of his devoted Filipino nurse:
Edgar: "How's world Judaism?"
Luke: "Things have been better in Israel lately. We have Tishu'Bav Wednesday night, when we mourn the destruction of the two temples."
Edgar: "I may vacillate in my religion, but I've always been proud of my heritage. I have the blood of heroes in my veins."
Luke: "I've met this genius rabbi at shul who studies ten pages of Talmud a day. That's unheard of."
Edgar: "That's tricky stuff. It never says exactly what it means."
Luke: "It's the most difficult material I've ever studied."
Five months later, he was dead.
I call Marty Beckerman April 20, 2004, about his new book Generation S.L.U.T.
Marty: "Did you have a good Passover?"
Luke: "Yes. How about you?"
Marty: "I didn't really celebrate it this year. Some years I do. I always do Yom Kippur out of guilt."
Luke: "Did you have an Orthodox Jewish roommate for a year?"
Marty: "Are you typing or recording?"
Luke: "I'm recording."
Marty: "That's cool. I probably shouldn't talk about him. That's libel. Let's just say our lives weren't Heaven that year. Sometimes I would pin bacon to the door so he couldn't come in."
Luke: "What are you planning to do after graduation?"
Marty: "I'm trying to find a magazine gig, a book deal."
Luke: "Where are you politically?"
Marty: "I'm libertarian. I've drifted more to the right in the past couple of years."
Luke: "Did you really take a prostitute to your Senior Ball and introduce her to your parents?"
Marty: "That was all true.
"Did you enjoy the book?"
Luke: "Yeah, yeah, yeah."
Marty: "Cool. Thanks.
"[Both parents are Jewish.] My mom was really nervous about [meeting the whore]. I get my sense of humor from my dad. One of his favorite things to do in high school was to fill a decongestant bottle with [bleep] and then go speak to police officers... My mom is from a town in Arkansas where the most exciting thing that happened every year was a turtle race down Main St. I grew up in Alaska. My dad was an optometrist with the public health service. It's like the Army where they can tell you where to move. I guess he pissed off one of his bosses and got sent to the frozen north."
Luke: "Do you get impatient with dumb people?"
Marty: "Sometimes. Everyone thinks they're good, right? They think that what they're doing is right, for whatever reason. I don't believe anyone thinks he's evil or stupid."
Luke: "Was the repulsive rich kid author character in your novel named Trevor coming from your dark side?"
Marty: "I think I was more making a statement about young authors. Not that I know any young authors who rape young girls by the dozen and hand out drugs at parties to knock people out... The comment was more about how we can get away with anything in this country if you are a celebrity. I was never the teen author the girls wanted to f--- in high school. I was the teen author girls wouldn't call back in high school."
Luke: "How many interviews have you done in the past three months?"
Marty: "A s--- load. I came off badly in Salon. I won't say the [female] reporter was vindictive or didn't like me. I don't think she captured my sense of humor. I think she misinterpreted me as anti-sex. I'm getting better at it. I've developed these little soundbytes that go over well. But the message of my book is not soundbyte friendly. I'm not in the abstinence camp. The aspect of the female liberation movement that was freedom from monogamy and how that's trickled down to 12, 13, 14 year old girls. I'm questioning that. With a lot of far left types, you are not allowed to question anything about the movement of the 1960s and sexual liberation and the womens' movement.
"The reaction I expected to get from the book was that Christians would hate it. Fundamentalists would be all over me because I have graphic sex scenes and violence and drugs and profanity and s---. But they really haven't had anything negative to say about the book. I've found conservatives like it. Most of the hate mail I get is from the womens liberation types."
Luke: "Have you learned anything about reporters?"
Marty: "I try to do all my interviews on tape now. I've noticed that they can kinda get it right when they're writing it down but they're going to make up some of it. Most of the time that's harmless but some of the time it makes me look like an idiot."
Luke: "What percentage of the time do you think they are emotionally invested in making you look like an idiot?"
Marty: "Not very much. It's more when they come in with their own preconception of what the book is. I think the Salon reporter was a feminist who thought the book was misogynist and chauvinist and white heterosexual member of the patriarchy keeping down women and minorities across the globe. I'm not getting trashed by the media. It's more the blogger types. Everything I've heard from anyone under 21 is enormously positive. Kids love the book. The Gen X snooty literary crowd in NY that hates anything that's not pretentious poetic s---... Normal people like the book and that's who I wrote it for. I didn't write it to gain literary credibility. I didn't write it to be popular with the LiveJournal set. I wrote it to entertain and provoke thought."
Luke: "Did your mother read it?"
Marty: "No, she's going to need to be pumped up with some Thorazine before she lays a finger on it. My dad enjoyed it. He wishes I would've done more innuendo than flat out..."
Luke: "You mean like the rape scene where she was passed out..."
Marty: "That's one of the criticisms I get. Did you really need to depict things the way they are? Yeah. What would be the point of watering it down and just alluding to things. I'd say a majority of young Americans are seeing sex as this anonymous, violent, detached, emotionless, soulless activity.
"Once the [post Janet Jackson boob] crackdown hit, MTV got nervous about promoting this book. No radio station would interview me. They all said we would've loved to have done this a year ago but now we're too scared of something slipping on the air and people complaining. It's a tough time to be an independent thinker."
Luke: "Jealousy. Few writers have published a book..."
Marty: "I get a lot of that. Especially the blogger crowd. You wrote a book about sex. Anybody can publish a book about sex. MTV probably gave him two million dollars. A lot of these guys are in their thirties and they've wanted to be writers since they were younger than I am now. A lot of young writers get publishing contracts by whoring themselves to the top. I started writing at 15 and I self-published my first book. I paid my dues. I built myself from the ground up by working really hard. My [last] book contract paid for one semester of college. I'm looking for a job now. I'm not swimming through my vault of gold coins.
"I think when I meet people, they have a different impression of me than when they read me in interviews or read my writing. I play a character in my writing, like Neal Pollack does. I'm a polarizing writer. I can't do anything about that except try to be a nice guy to people who are assholes to me."
Luke: "Has your writing cost you friends?"
Marty: "Sometimes. Not in a while. I went through a dark couple of years after high school where a lot of my friends became addicted to drugs and became self mutilators. That's when I started writing the book. I wrote the book as therapy. A lot of people criticize me for ripping off Brett Easton Ellis. I never even read Brett Easton Ellis until I was 75% through this book. I think he's a genius who's never written a good book. He writes great scenes but criticizes superficiality with superficiality. I try to give my characters more soul.
"Girlfriends usually want to change me. The one I've got now, today is our seven month anniversary, is great because she doesn't try to change me. Sometimes I push it too far with her. She gets my sense of humor. The last couple of girls I dated were on a mission to turn me into a feminist. I've been known to write about my own sex life in graphic detail. People are really sensitive to being written about, even if you portray them well. If you give them any shades of gray, if you depict them doing any things they don't like to think of themselves as doing. It's not that they get offended but really hurt. Sometimes I'm reckless. It's not worth losing a friend over a column. I've done that before.
"I've had three or four serious girlfriends in my life.
"I'm not being that funny tonight. In some forums, it's fine to make rape jokes and it is fine to make women jokes. In other forums, I have to watch it."
Luke: "When a woman says no, does she always mean no?"
Marty laughs nervously. "I think I answered that by email."
Luke: "I think you shied away from it."
Marty: "That's the territory where you've got to walk on eggshells. Unless they are screaming no and slapping... I like vanilla sex. I'm not too exciting in bed."
Luke: "A boy and girl, nineteen years of age, are alone in a room, naked and lying on top of each other and making out. She says no softly as he tries to go all the way. Does she definitely mean no?"
Marty: "There's an art of persuasion and seduction. If she says no right before he puts it in her, I guess that's..."
Luke: "He puts it in anyway and she keeps saying no softly while he pumps."
Marty: "Ahh, if she's not fighting back. There has to be some kind of physical conflict unless he's got a knife to her throat. That's the f---ing way to do it."
Beckerman complains that some of his teachers grade on beliefs rather than scholarship. "I had one feminist professor who told the class that there should be affirmative action to ensure that half of Congress is female because half of America is female. I challenged her. She replied, 'You don't know what you're talking about, young man. Sit down.' Sorry that I like the idea of democracy. Maybe we should legislate the gender and race of all our leaders. You're not allowed to disagree with a lot of these people. It's a speech code violation if you disagree with them."
Luke: "Do you think the average black graduate of your university does as much work as the average white graduate?"
Marty, who comes from Alaska, about the whitest state around: "I don't know. I might know if I had any black friends."
Luke: "What do you think of affirmative action on the basis of race?"
Marty: "I don't agree with it. Maybe I would accept it for class. I don't see the need to put your race on your application."
Luke: "Do you think the average black person is as smart as the average Asian?"
Marty gives his nervous laugh. "I guess stereotypes have to come from somewhere."
Luke: "Do you think the average Asian thinks the average black person is as smart as he is?"
Marty: "I have one Asian friend. Asians are my favorite minority group."
Luke: "Mine too."
Marty: "I like their outlook on life. They have the same thing going on as a lot of Jews, where the parents base their love on grades.
"WASP culture is so much more pronounced on the East Coast. They say, 'My parents call me once every few weeks. I don't really like them.' The point of the family on the East Coast is to destroy one another.
"Jewish families may be more neurotic but more closeknit. WASP families are quiet. They don't talk about things so much. Social status with WASPS is about keeping up appearances more than getting a good education and a high paying job. There's no attention span here. They have two minute conversations instead of two hour conversations. At the same time, the kids here have more ambition.
"I started majoring in journalism but I switched over to media and society. The sociological side of journalism. How the media affects society. Every journalist I ever spoke to said to not go to journalism school. I went to j-school, paying $30,000 a year, to sit in a room and be taught Associated Press style.
"I think I pissed off the administration. You'd think they'd promote the fact that they have a published author in their lit department at age 21. The subject matter. That I talked about the frat boys and criticized aspects of the school. When I do a signing at the book store, the manager says, 'The guys from the administration said we shouldn't be letting you do this.' I put up posters for the book and they get taken down. I ask the lit department to send out an email to their students about the book and they say they were told to stay away from this kind of content."
Luke: "Is there any expose you are going to write about the school when you graduate?"
Marty: "No. This kid Ben Shapiro, 20, is writing this book called Brainwashed, about UCLA and its liberal professors who grade on beliefs rather than academics.
"The girls are f---ing disgusting. Playboy voted us one of the ugliest campuses in America. Then you go to Georgetown and the women are Olympic goddesses. My girlfriend is pretty good. I like her anus."
Luke: "I'm sure she will be pleased to hear that.
"What are the books that most influenced your life?"
Marty: "The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I had the honor of doing a reading with him in New York over Spring Break. His book was published by MTV and that was one of the main ways I justified signing with them. Some of my fans called me a sellout for aligning myself with MTV. Well, I wasn't paid enough money to sell out. I lost a couple of nights of sleep over MTV culture. It's about a semi-autistic kid who can't control any emotional responses. It made me want to write a book that affected people as deeply.
"The difference between my first book, Death to all Cheerleaders, and Generation S.L.U.T., was that Death was just a collection of my humor columns. I was going for something deeper with Generation.
"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas gave me a new outlook on what you can do with writing. He is my old hash buddy. It is so extreme but there's this powerful message underneath that. He is the first humor writer I saw who had a lot more to say than just Dave Barry, who's the guy who made me want to be a writer. I got a chance to meet him. I've done well to meet my heroes in the past couple of years."
Marty names off some punk musicians he's met. He wants to meet Paul McCartney.
"I love movies but none have affected my life. Another book I loved is Brave New World. I don't think I've ever listened to an album, put it down, and thought, 'I am a different person now.' I don't think I've ever put a book down and said, 'This changes everything.'"
Luke thinks, "Dennis Prager's Nine Questions People About Judaism forever changed my life."
Luke asks: "Any writers you hate?"
He laughs. "I hate some feminist chic lit."
Luke: "Prozac Nation?"
Marty: "That was terrible. Two to three hundred pages of people bitching how horrible it is to be white and rich. I hated Nick McDonald. He's 19 now. He's at Harvard. His book was called Twelve and it was a piece of s---. He got it published because his godfather was the president of Atlantic books. I wrote a review of it for New York Press. He met my ex-girlfriend at one point and he told her, 'He's such a [blinking] asshole.
"Gen X grew up with so much political correctness, so scared of offending anyone, that instead of biting, scathing humor, we got Dave Eggers, David Sedaris, Janeane Garrafolo, who don't push the boundaries. They just make fun of everyday life things. Irony got boring. I think what broke that for good was [the TV show] Southpark. It killed PC for good in the hearts and minds of the common American."
Luke: "Do you think people with AIDS should be tattooed so they don't spread the virus to the unsuspecting?"
Marty starts preaching in a sarcastic tone: "I think people with AIDS should go to hell. That's why God created the AIDS virus. To send the faggots to hell."
Luke, joking: "That's what I wanted [to hear].
"Do you find one man putting his penis in another man's buttocks aesthetically pleasing?"
Marty laughs hard. "No, I find it revolting. I've seen gay porn in passing. Seventy five gigabytes on my computer. I think everyone goes through that little period of doubt when they are 14, 15, and can't get a girl to go out with them. They think, 'Something's wrong with me. Maybe I'm gay.' I'm pretty sure I'm not gay at this point."
Luke: "Do you think a man should be allowed to marry a man?"
Marty: "That's a tough one. Honestly, I don't give a s---."
Luke: "How would you feel about someone with Hepatitis C preparing your food?"
Marty: "I guess that would be bad. I guess I'd like healthy people preparing my food. By healthy, I mean Caucasian."
Luke: "Do you like Monty Python?"
Marty: "I never got it.
"I'm going to this big pro-abortion rally this weekend in D.C.. Called the March for Womens' Lives. I'm going to write a column entitled, 'Bitch Nation: My Visit To The March For Turning Human Babies Into Scrambled Eggs.' I'm pro-choice but those people deserve a kick anyway.
"All young writers want to be famous. I want to write books that are going to keep people loyal, like Hunter Thompson. Maybe he hasn't written a great book since 1976. He could show up to any one of his fan's houses and live there for a year and the fan wouldn't complain. I want to be one of those writers people are dedicated to. I want to write something that good.
"My friend Ned Vizzini had his memoirs from high school published when he was 19. He's got a huge fan base compared to mine. He speaks at high schools and conventions. He's flown everywhere. He's going to outsell me and be a more famous writer.
"I'm nervous that I am going to become like Thompson, or McCartney or Bukowski, and turn 50 and just lose it."
Donna writes: "Luke, Ok, I guess everyone else is too calm and controlled and mature to react to your writings, but blogs are still new to me and I get emotional, and someone should say something. This slut guy is boring and juvenile and a showoff. Just because he can talk about sex graphically and in detail doesn't mean he's interesting, you know. All of us could do that, but we choose not to. But the got me part is saying he liked a particular part of his girlfriend's anatomy...was he drunk? That is something an eight year old would say. And it puts a picture in my mind that I don't want there, so I'm mad at both of you. I don't know why you don't use your hyphens here on words like this, and the reference to rape, too -- or just hyphen out the whole interview, that's a good boy. People are more critical than not on blogs, but I think your writing is hysterical and also thought-provoking. So when something like this pops up like a pop-up, I hate it. I sell cartoons regularly to Penthouse, but wouldn't sell for anything to Hustler. This slut guy doesn't have boundaries, just ego. Where is Chaim Amalek when I need him?"
Repeatedly Scheduling Lunch Six Weeks In Advance
I have a platonic female friend who leads a busy life and repeatedly schedules lunch with me six weeks to two months in advance. This eldest child then often needs to reschedule. As a spontaneous youngest child, I think this is weird and I recently put my foot down and said I would not schedule any lunches with her more than a week in advance (even though her company is excellent and we get drunk and blow the shofar together, if you know what I mean). What say you? I can see scheduling special events, such as Bar Mitvahs etc, in advance, but a casual meal?
I think it is a high status claim to be constantly busy and to need to schedule such casual things way in advance. It is not in keeping with the egalitarian Maoist Cultural Revolution I'm leading, a complete re-evaluation of the way we relate to each other and to literature based on open-heated fulsome encounters and back massages.
Cathy writes: "I would feel that I was being told to take a hike and I would probably quit wasting my time."
In a Pillow's Stitches, The Clue to Forgiveness
Go North, Not-So-Young Man
I saw my bio-feedback guy Tuesday morning. He worked extensively on my liver. "You've got a lot of anger in there. And we just released a lot of anger last week."
"I've been angry the last five days," I said. But now I feel calm.
I'm preparing to drive north, lean and mean, to see my friend Joe in Rocklin, and, on the way, to win the hearts and minds of the people, to live among the peasants and eat their food (so long as it is organic and without yucky vegetables and salad dressing) to launch a Maoist-style cultural revolution wherein a thousand flowers of self criticism will bloom, returning the Internet to the glory it once knew in 1998-2000.
I wonder if Vancouver Kendra will be as hospitable as she was in early September 2001.
I'm feeling surly lately and been telling chicks and employers to take hikes.
In past moods like this, I've published my nastiest material.
Helpful writes: "How about sendin' a resume to Sixty Minutes? You have the fashion sense of Morley Safer and all of Andy Rooney's sex appeal."
I Did It All For A Hug From Dennis Prager
I've doodled out a treatment for a movie about my life.
Heather Mac Donald's Secret Previews raves: "A fable for our time. Heart-breaking yet uplifting. You'll cry, you'll laugh, you'll study your Torah!"
Cindi writes: "Luke, Can you tell me where this is going? Where do i stand? What is happening with you? Hope you are okay. That is my biggest worry. We are both a bit on the psychotic side. LOL"
Khunrum writes: "This is nothing less than riveting stuff Luke even though I am already familiar with this particular story...If/when it comes to ..... I promise to spend the 50 bucks to have cable TV installed...BTW...Who do you suggest play Luke Ford? Fred Nek has been taking acting lessons."
Joseph Joyrides writes [edited by Luke for his family audience]:
Big Sunday Is Mitzvah Day, But Where Are The Orthodox?
Thousands of people from dozens of synagogues and other groups around Los Angeles will work together May 2nd to improve our community. Only one Orthodox synagogue is participating -- Bnai David.
As a professor at the Reform seminary in Cincinnatti said in the 1930s -- "There are two types of Reform rabbis -- those who believe Judaism is social justice and those who can read Hebrew."
In other words, Jews that can read Hebrew tend not to devote themselves to the wider community but rather concentrate their efforts on their own Orthodox community.
We Hate It When Our Friends Become SuccessfulIn a recent column, Dennis Prager argued that the world has gone mad:
I feel that I am living in a world that is morally sick. Good is called bad, and bad is called "militant," "victimized," "misunderstood" and "the product of hopelessness," but rarely bad. Only those who fight the bad are called bad.More evidence of our mixed-up world came to light this week. Luke Ford has been named Los Angeles's 10th best blogger. Even more shocking, Luke is now the subject of a major research study at Stanford University into Internet celebrityhood. If his friends thought Luke was difficult to put up with last week, just imagine how unbearably obnoxious he must be this week. I feel especially sorry for Cathy Seipp and Cecile DuBois who inexplicably didn't make the top ten list, and won't be hearing the end of it over the days, weeks, months, and years to come.
Just think of what this means. There are 3 million bloggers in the United States. Probably about 500,000 of those are based in California, and perhaps half of those in Los Angeles. Luke is apparently superior to 249,990 of his fellow LA bloggers. To put it differently, Luke is more profound, charming, witty, insightful, and amusing than 99.996% of all Los Angeles bloggers.
As a public service, I thought I would try to deflate Luke's head a few inches. I've been far too kind to him lately. It's time Luke got fisked.
When I stopped blogging Luke for a couple of months, I also quite happily stopped reading his website. But a few weeks ago I noticed that there really wasn't much going on in the blogosphere. Cathy Seipp is focusing her energies on making the transition to radio, television, and, eventually, motion pictures. Cecile DuBois has gone mostly non-political, not to mention undergoing a curious metamorphosis into a cat. Jackie D. is on an extended hiatus and has left behind a thoroughly garish web page that I have thoughtfully reported to the appropriate Internet authorities as an aesthetical transgression. With some free blog reading time, I thought I would go slumming and see what the Internet's premier vanity blogger has been up to.
One entry that I found particularly compelling was Luke's recollection of a year he spent in Australia as a young man, before his present middle age and physical decay:
I spent the year after high school in Gladstone, Australia, with my older brother Paul. I met these twin brunette 16-year old sisters (LeeAnne and Rachel) who worked 100 yards up the street from my brother's office.If I were the type of person capable of feeling empathy for anyone other than myself, I may well have cried after reading this story. But I can't. So I didn't.
Next I read another one of Luke's reminiscences of the good old days, this one titled "I Was a Jewish Gigolo," which began: "There was a time when the demand for my writing talents was not as immense as it is today."
Luke goes on to chronicle his days as a toyboy:
Sometimes, a rich woman, after taking me to several temples, would ask me to spend the night. Sometimes a silly old fool would lose her head and I'd get new clothes, a car, and a wrist watch. One of my gigolo pals married a woman old enough to be his mother but she gave him a Mercedes and money to gamble with. I was not so fortunate. Just a few all-expenses paid trips to the Upper West Side in Manhattan.When the ravages of time began to catch up with Luke, he had to pack it in. But fortunately "I'd been honing my writing abilities so I was able to successfully transition to the position of Moral Leader, where I stand today without peer."
After spending a few moments thinking about Luke banging the elderly for nickels it finally hit me: Luke Ford is a big fat liar. No, not about selling his body, or even about being a Moral Leader. Rather it occurred to me that Luke's "Drive" story is pure fiction. It's too emotionally rich and symmetrically perfect to be true. Let's look at it more closely:
I spent the year after high school in Gladstone, Australia, with my older brother Paul. I met these twin brunette 16-year old sisters (LeeAnne and Rachel) who worked 100 yards up the street from my brother's office.I believe that Luke does occasionally return to Australia, if only to brush up on his Australian accent. Luke clearly likes to trade on his foreign "otherness" to woo American women. The names LeeAnne and Rachel sound plausible. Luke was smart enough not to give his love interests porn names like Porsche and Mercedes, although, as an inside joke, maybe he should have named one of them Holden.
I fell in love with Rachel.Luke sees a 16-year old girl and falls immediately in love. This passes the smell test.
One long weekend, my brother went away. I had his car to myself.Here we have the introduction of the car, the reoccurring theme of the story.
I could not work up the courage to ask Rachel out.Plausible. After all, consider the legal ramifications of a grown man trying to date a young girl.
I saw Rachel and a friend walking out [of] a school play. I was overwhelmed with emotion. Scared, I crossed to the other side of the street.Ran? More like skipped.
It was a ten minute drive. The radio played "Drive." We loved it.This is where the story begins to fall apart. Everybody knows that pretty boy Luke Ford lies about his age. Astute reader OTB observers: "Luke is several years older than his driver's license indicates. Way back in the day, when he was serious about acting, he was advised to fib a bit about his age, and has ever since ... now that he has crossed into his fifth decade (no, that does not mean he's 50), he's doing his forties: viagra, hair dye, propecia, dieting that just doesn't take, younger and younger girlfriends, minoxidil, and reading glasses." To be true, therefore, Luke's story would've had to have taken place in the 1970s, yet the song "Drive" by the Cars didn't come out until 1984.
The next week, I called Rachel to ask her out that night. She wasn't in. I talked to LeeAnne and asked her out.The story regains some plausibility here. Luke is revealed as a smarmy, two-timing playboy.
I was last in Gladstone in 2000. I asked about the twins. They'd married. One of them died in a car accident. My brother didn't know which one.Paul's car. The Cars. "Drive." A car accident. See the pattern. Good storytelling, but in all probability bad history.
A few weeks later, I visited my parents' home for the last time. They were selling it and moving back to Australia. In my box of stuff was the gum wrapper with Rachel's phone number scrawled on it.Luke doesn't just need attention. He's desperate for sympathy, too. It's not difficult to appreciate what was going through Horrid Boy's mind as he composed the above lines: "I will make up a story that includes keeping a gum wrapper of a lost love for twenty-five years to show my little army of Internet girlfriends what a romantic, compassionate, and sensitive soul that I am. Each one will then write to me and ask 'What can I do for you my sweet love?'"
Who's going to drive you home tonight?Luke's story ends predictably enough with another friggin' car reference. We all know about Luke's favorite musical artists. He constantly writes about Air Supply, Abba, Peter Allen, and the Village People but never the Cars. Ric Ocaseck is far too masculine for Luke's musical tastes. No, I don't believe any of it.
Luke Ford’s Failed TV Shows
Dave Deutsch writes:
I Just Found Someone's Panties In My Underwear Drawer
They must've gotten mixed up in my last trip to the laundry. They're black and enticing. Too bad it is the closest I've been to a woman in many a year.
Are Gentile Girls, Without The Sanctifying Power Of Judaic Conversion, Hors d'Oeuvres On My Meal Of Life?
A shiksa told me today she didn't want to be my hors d'oeuvre.
Christopher Hitchens, Martin Amis Party At W
My life has improved since Cathy Seipp entered it and started introducing me to great gatherings and great people such as Heather Mac Donald.
Tonight she picked me up before 10PM and we drove to the W hotel in Westwood for the party thrown by the Atlantic magazine. Cathy's due for some writing assignments from them.
We spend much of the night chatting with its literary editor Ben Schwarz. Steve Wasserman, LA Times book editor, joins our conversation. Ben and Steve rave about a great book review by Jim Sleeper.
When they were '60s radicals, David Horowitz and Steve Wasserman would go down to the basement together and smoke dope from a bong.
Ben says it is hard to find good female writers who are right-wing. (Cathy agrees.) He regards Ann Coulter as not serious.
Ben stands about 5'7". He says Tom Wolfe's book A MAN IN FULL was "silly and bloated." I was about to deck him when I remembered Cathy's admonition that I had to behave tonight so she could write for The Atlantic and mix with a better class of people than her Penthouse compadres (she may not have phrased it exactly like that).
I spot a woman who I believe is NY Times Hollywood correspondent Sharon Waxman. As I make my way over to her, I realize it is actress Annette Benning. She's with her husband Warren Beatty. I stop.
Christopher Hitchens is bigger and younger than I expected. He had a public dialogue with Martin Amis tonight at UCLA. The moderator was writer Mona Simpson who got horrible reviews for her wooden work.
Hitch talked about the revival of piracy. There was the film Pirates of the Carribbean. There was Paul McCartney marrying a woman with one leg.
I don't care for the work of Hitchens and Amis and other atheistic leftists. They talked a great deal in their dialogue about religion, which neither of them have practiced as adults. It's like listening to a couple of old whores talk about chastity. I'm sure they could have some provocative intellectual insights but what's the point?
As Judaism is a people as well as a religion, and a religion primarily directed towards behavior rather than belief, I find that Jewish atheists (such as Eric Fromm and his book You Shall Be As Gods) tend to have more thoughtful insights into religion than goyim (exception, Ernest van den Haag).
A statuesque blonde tries to get by but Cathy's big ass blocks her. I move but there's still not room.
"Move, Cathy," I say kindly, "so this lady can get by. And stop eating so many desserts."
Cathy and I spend most of the night talking with Berit Campion from Idaho. A product of Andover, Dartmouth (English), UCLA (Masters degree in film), she's an aspiring screenwriter and an associate producer of documentaries. She's poised, funny, and fun.
She does not believe in screenwriting rules. She does not believe that movies require three acts.
She does not work as a screenwriter. I wonder if there's a connection?
XXX writes: "I don't know why you guys don't take me places! Berit Campion is a granddaughter of a stinking rich Colorado mining family. She's from Ketchum where the Kerry's have a monster house. You should have asked her about Kerry."
It was either me or you. I think Cathy made the right choice of who to take to make her look good.
XXX replies: "Or she took you to look even more fabulous--that whole Demi Moore thing."
Our concerns with Berit were not of this world.
It's no wonder that Berit tips more than I do. She tips 15-20% while I stick to 10-15%.
I wonder if Berit would be willing to embrace the HaKodesh Barchu (the Holy One, Blessed be He, Master of the Universe)?
While pondering such lofty matters, I devour a chocolate cake and three enormous chocolate-covered strawberries.
Cathy and I are rarely intimidated but tonight we feel small compared to the high level of the crowd. We initiate conversations with almost no one.
Midnight, we leave with an inferiority complex, glad not to have made any foupes.
We see Berit chat with Hitch. "I would never have had the confidence to introduce myself at her age," says Cathy, who still doesn't have that chutzpah at her present age.
Cathy drives in a plodding careful fashion. I keep nudging her that the light is green, that we can go faster. It is not easy for me to be driven by a woman. Cathy was right. We should've taken my van.
We wonder how Tiffany Stone would've written up this party. Normally I have no interest in people in their twenties except to sleep with them. I find many kids cute but I tend to find young people annoying unless they are particularly smart, funny, religious or courteous.
Cathy agrees with me and a recent unauthorized biographer of Warren Beatty that womanizers tend to be good with kids. We have an impish sense of fun, a badness and lack of maturity that kids enjoy.
Cathy Seipp writes:
OTB writes Cathy: "I'm not one to spread idle gossip, and please keep this on the Q.T., but Luke is several years older than his driver's license indicates. Way back in the day, when he was serious about acting, he was advised to fib a bit about his age, and has ever since. You're still older than Luke, but not by much.
"Luke "did his twenties" in his thirties. But now that he has crossed into his fifth decade (no, that does not mean he's 50), he's doing his forties: viagra, hair dye, propecia, dieting that just doesn't take, younger and younger girlfriends, minoxidil, and reading glasses. Just take him to a strange and dark restaurant with a hard to read menu and see what he does. (I was with him in temple when he attempted reading the commentaries of Rashi, which are printed with a very tiny type, and it wasn't a pretty sight. But we are all vain, are we not?)"