Sunday, July 3, 2005

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I Heart Huckabees

What was all the fuss about? I just watched this DVD for the first time and it was neither funny, intriguing or insightful. There's no depth here. If anything, this movie reiterated to me the meaninglessness of life without God.

I agree with this review:

It's hard to criticize a movie like "I Heart Huckabees". Obviously the makers were going for something different, something that's not necessarily for a mainstream audience and will probably get misunderstood by a lot of people. Something in the tradition of "Rushmore" and "Ghost World". Cool, I'm fine with that. The problem is, although "I Heart Huckabees" comes up with lots of weird, but intriguing dialog, it completely forgets to add an interesting storyline. It's not enough to have a bunch of characters endlessly throwing thoughts at each other. The movie gets pretty exhausting after about 20 minutes and you find yourself peeking at your watch every 10 minutes. On the plus side, the cast is great. Johnathan Schwartzmann, Isabelle Huppert, Dustin Hoffmann, Jude Law, Naomi Watts and Lily Tomlin, all in one movie is really a treat. The direction is solid with some interesting visual effects thrown in and, as I stated before, the whole script is really striving to be original. But for all it's wackiness and supposed depth there's very little to take away from the movie, but a few bewildered laughs. In the end, "I Heart Huckabees" biggest flaw is that it fails at what should be a movie's premium goal: keeping the viewer interested

Words Don't Come Easy To Me

How can I find a way to make you see?

I reveal my heart to you. Hope you believe it 'cause it's true.

Time To Close The Deal

Helpful suggests:

Time to close the deal. First, horsdevours at your local Costco (their free samples are delicious!) Then off to r karaoke (smuggle in your own drinks and snacks) where you serenade her with a nice Air Supply Medley. Then back to the hovel for a romantic poetry reading from Kendra's tome and then a rice milk / roofie nite cap!

Chaim Amalek writes:

You know how to close the deal, Luke - listen to Rabbi Gadol and take this vulnerable shiksa to your local Holocaust Museum to witness the abuse Jews have suffered at the hands of gentiles. That way, she will be of a mind to prove to you that she is different than all the others, that she would not have divulged the location of your secret annex to the gentiles looking to kill you. There is no better place to prepare a shiksa for a Jewish man than your local Museum of Tolerance. (And isn't that REALLY why these places have been built?)

PS It is not too late for you to run an ad on JDate and try to meet a nice forty year old Jewish lawyer, is it?

Chaim continues:

There are lots of fat 40 ish females out there waiting and hoping for you to fail with the 24 year old so that you will come crawling to them, a defeated man. Which you will be, eventually, if you continue to fail to close the deal with one of these perfectly nice and plausible young women you seen to have. You have had more than enough decent candidates for marriage - which is what I am talking about - for you to have married by now. And that won't last forever.

At some point, they will come to regard the prospect of dating a man like you just too creepy to contemplate, given your age and poverty. So I ask you, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? No flip answers, please. So that your friends can further confront you on your failure to take a stand by proposing. You have had now plenty of opportunities. You have a hot young tall smart shiksa, which is what most Jewish men want, of course. Or do you want to go to Jewish singles events for the rest of your life like all the other losers out there, pretending to be a youth while all around you dusky third world people are breeding prodigiously?

I want to lie down.

But first you need to post this chastisement. Fate, God, Providence has been very good to you, female-wise. You need to close the deal and be a man. Or doom awaits you.

Heeb Magazine's Hollywood Stories

About 200 people jammed Three Clubs at 1123 North Vine Street in Hollywood on Tuesday, June 21.

The first performer was novelist Stephen Glass, the protagonist of the movie Shattered Glass. He describes how he was warned in seventh grade Hebrew school about dating non-Jewish women. In public school, he was warned about venereal disease. In Hebrew school, shiksas.

"In Hebrew school, they took all the conspiracy theories about Jews and invoked them about Gentiles. They principally relied on the [myth] that Gentiles controlled the media...put out images of the shiksa [as the ultimate love object] and that Jews would end up dating shiksas, marrying shiksas, having non-Jewish babies, and soon there will be no Jews and Hitler's work will be finished.

"I was always wary of conspiracy theories, except for the one I would tell."

Stephen lives in Los Angeles with another novelist-lawyer -- Julie Hilden:

Julie Hilden grew up in Hawaii, went to high school in New Jersey, and now lives in Los Angeles, where she is beginning a career in screenwriting.

Julie is a graduate of Harvard College, Yale Law School and Cornell University's M.F.A. program.

Her memoir, The Bad Daughter, was published by Algonquin Books in 1998.

Julie writes a column on First Amendment law:

Are Accounts of Consensual Sex a Violation of Privacy Rights? The Lawsuit Against the Blogger "Washingtonienne"

Can Bloggers Invoke the Journalist's Privilege to Protect Confidential Sources Who Leak Trade Secrets?

Stephen describes his highschool relationship with Heather, a 6'0 platinum blonde who went to another school and therefore "had no idea of the depths of uncoolness she was reaching into."

Glass stuck Good Morning Vietnam tape in the VCR, returned to the couch, and suddenly she was all over him. "She did not want to steal our children and give them over to Christ. She merely wanted to embrace me. My parents liked her."

Then she went away to summer camp and afterwards she wanted nothing to do with Stephen. "She refused to process with me." Heather fell in love with a guy named Roy in "Ten Commandments class."

Lori Gottlieb was next. Never married, she's in her late 30s. "This is what I did after I broke up with my boyfriend last summer.... I decided I'd cut out the middleman and sign up a sperm bank. There was no sperm bank that was the equivalent of JDate, say JSpunk or JSperm..."

She had several coffee dates with a Harvard graduate. She wanted his sperm delivered directly to her ovum.

Lori says that "What a person does in his private life is his own business" is a Gentile attitude.

Gottlieb is a few weeks pregnant with a baby boy.

Director Jonathan Baruch Kesselman takes the stage. "To relax you should imagine your audience naked. And I've got you two people in front of me." He points to an old couple.

A Chat About Frank del Olmo With Former LAT's Reporter Ken Reich

I call Ken at 11pm Wednesday. He was just falling asleep at the Days Inn in Burns, Oregon. He's on an 84-day driving trip to Alaska and the Canadian Arctic.

Luke: "What do you think was Frank's main contribution to journalism?"

Ken: "Getting the Associate Editorship and having a column at The Times. That was his biggest success."

Luke: "What was he best at? Was he a great journalist? A great editor? A great columnist?"

Ken: "He was not a great journalist but he had determination. He made himself important at The Times because he was the only Latino in his position. He attended a great many meetings. He was a plodder more than a brilliant polemicist. Because he was first in things and because there was a great deal of feelings among Hispanics that he was perhaps more important than he was at the paper, he was able to accomplish some things.

"The best thing Frank ever did as a journalist was opposing the [LAT's 1994] endorsement of [Governor Pete] Wilson. Are you acquainted with that?"

Luke: "I'm acquainted with that, but it's something outside of journalism, isn't it?"

Ken: "No. It was done at the paper. He staged a rebellion. He threatened to quit. They finally did something for him that they had never done for anybody else -- give him the right to write an editorial disagreeing with the editorial that they had written. And they gave him the Associate Editorship besides. This is not Michael Kinsley who's willing to run all sorts of contradictory editorials time after time and give outsiders a chance to write. [What Frank did] had never been done before.

"At the time of the endorsement of Nixon over McGovern [in 1972], they had run a letter from some staffers disagreeing.

"Frank disagreed eloquently. I think this was definitely a journalistic endeavor."

Luke: "You just don't think of journalism being political partisan?"

Ken: "I heard [USC professor Dr. Felix] Gutierrez speak the other night. He said that the First Amendment looks forward to impartial journalism. The First Amendment was nothing of the kind. The First Amendment looks forward to advocacy journalism. That's the reason there is a First Amendment. I think Frank was certainly within First Amendment traditions when he took a position. This is bunk when you say that journalists are not supposed to take sides. [When the First Amendment was created], it was always expected that journalists would express their opinion. That's why there was a First Amendment, so people could freely express their opinion."

Luke: "You say Frank was not a brilliant columnist, yet you criticize [members of The Los Angeles Times] for not showing up to his book."

Ken: "I was criticizing the indifference of the white reporters and editors about Hispanics and other minorities at The Times. The whole battle for diversity at The Times has been waged by very few people in the Hispanic community and the Black community. Even when The Times had a diversity committee, which I was a member of, it was noted by its failure to take a solid position in favor of diversity. It's a tradition around there that its largely white staff does not care much what happens to the minorities. The same could be said of women at The Times, though women have now achieved a great deal.

"When I first went to work downtown, there was only one woman in the City room (Dorothy Townsend). The women got their positions by rebelling, not by anybody giving them anything. There's a long tradition around the paper about not caring."

Luke: "When did this change? Shelby Coffee was famous for his commitment to diversity."

Ken: "Yes, it changed more under Shelby than it did under Bill Thomas, though Thomas did hire the first Black staffers. I don't think it's an entirely satisfactory situation today. The Times is not filled with black and brown reporters."

Luke: "How important is it that The Times be filled with black and brown reporters and what proportion should they be?"

Ken: "I'm not an advocate of a quota system. I think The Times should have a more substantial contingent of minority reporters and more promotions. Even though Dean Baquet is managing editor and a black man is almost a coincidence due to his talents. It's not that there's any great movement afoot to promote blacks. You have Janet Clayton [former Op/Ed editor] head of Metro but the City room is not filled with blacks. The blacks like Tyla Rivera and Jocelyn Stewart aren't given good assignments.

"Often, the most outstanding reporters to come out of the Metpro (Minority Editorial Training Program) program, have gone on elsewhere. Some have succeeded within the paper -- Hector Tobar, Henry Chu."

Luke: "Is there a hostile work environment to minorities at The LA Times?"

Ken: "It's more a sin of omission. This is not a Southern jury that decides to get together and not convict a killer of civil rights advocates. It's more that they don't really care."

Luke: "What's more important? Racial diversity or ideological diversity?"

Ken says racial balance. "I don't think there's a great deal of ideological diversity [at The LAT] either. At the end, I was one of the few conservatives on the staff.

"When I went downtown [to the Times headquarters on Spring Street] in 1967, I was the only person interested in covering the anti-war movement. That's why I got the Eugene McCarthy campaign post. I was the only one interested in police brutality stories.

"There's a lot of pack journalism. Reporters who say newspapermen are not liberals are protesting too much.

"[It's not enough] to simply have people who happen to be black or brown in skin color, because The Times had a whole succession of black reporters who never uttered a peep about racial issues. They were accepted as black reporters because they weren't strong in pursuing black ideals."

Luke: "What are black ideals?"

Ken: "By that I mean identification with the black community. When the black community was more concentrated in South-East LA, we had black reporters (Bill Drummond, Richardson), and Baquet now in Santa Monica... I wouldn't say Baquet is interested in the Black community. Sometimes Baquet takes what would be identified as a Black position. But he didn't get ahead that way. You could say at The New York Times that Howell Raines was more interested in the Black community than any of the black reporters (except for Earl Caldwell)."

Luke: "Frank seemed to be the Latino that The LA Times trotted out to all sorts of events."

Ken: "Yes. Not only was he personable and a good representative, but he wanted to do it.

"The same thing is true of Jewish reporters. A lot of Jews at The LA Times don't like to be thought of as Jewish. There's almost a self-hating Jew. Take Op/Ed page Editor Nick Goldberg. He's anxious to be right in the middle of the Arab-Israeli conflict. There are a lot of minority reporters who feel they've gotten ahead by not being strong advocates of their minority.

"I come from a situation like that in my family. My father [Herman Reich] was only the third Jew to make Admiral rank in the U.S. Navy. Rickover was the second. All three graduated from the [Annapolis] academy. My father was not a strong advocate of Judaism within the Navy. My son is in the Navy now.

"The Times had a lot of Jewish reporters. Mrs. Chandler was responsible for opening up links between the Protestant and Jewish communities in raising Westside money for downtown goals. When Otis Chandler became publisher, one of the ways it changed is that it opened up to the Jewish community. It was no coincidence that The Times had as political writers me, Bill Boyarsky, Carl Brainberg, Bob Shogun. We were all Jews.

"The Chandlers had a good attitude towards the Jewish community. Now, because of Israel, there are strains between the Jewish community and the downtown Times establishment.

"I'm not religious. The first congregation I joined was when my mother died last year. I liked the rabbi who presided over my mother's service. I've always been more politically Jewish than religiously Jewish."

Luke: "I go to a lot of journalist gatherings and one of the things often brought up about Frank del Olmo was that he wasn't any great shakes as a journalist?"

Ken won't comment about that on the record.

Ken: "I do believe that a good journalist can express opinions. I followed as a political writer a much different policy than my colleagues who would never discuss their political views. I'd respond to anybody who asked who I had voted for for president."

Ken's been a registered Republican for about the last 30 years (with the exception of three years when his daughter Cathy worked for Democratic senator Diane Feinstein).

"My father, grandfather and great-grandfather were always Republicans. In fact, my great-grandfather who came here from Romania in 1888, said within the family that Republicanism was synonymous with Americanism."

Luke: "What would be your guess about the percentage of Republicans among reporters and editors at The LA Times?"

Ken: "I'd guess it would be small.

"I don't think it would be a bad thing for the Republicans to exert a little control over public radio and television."

Luke: "Tony Castro writes on your blog that Frank del Olmo's significance lay not in breaking stories but in 'pressing Affirmative Action and diversity at the Times'."

Ken: "I don't disagree. A lot of the progress that The Times made on Latino questions was as much Frank Sotomayor's doing as Frank del Olmo's.

"Many of the more successful Latino writers do not work for The LA Times.

"Jack White worked for Time magazine on black affairs. I wanted to hire Jack White but Jack was entirely too outspoken for Bill Thomas's taste. That was not the type of minority reporter The LA Times wanted to hire. They wanted to hire people who seemed like carbon copies of the white reporters they had. You used the term, 'Wore good clothes.'

"Black columnist Sandy Banks was interested in everything but the black community. But she just looked good, which was one reason she advanced at The Times."

Our conversation wanders.

Ken: "To the extent that I admired Frank, it was because he did let people know where he stood, and as a result, he accomplished certain things. Was he a distinguished journalist? Well, I wasn't either. I empathized with him."

Luke: "Many of us feel uneasy about celebrating an ethnic activist at a general interest newspaper?"

Ken: "Remember that The Times for many years had over 1,000 editorial staff members. Having a few activists in that group is a good thing. It would've been good to have Jack White around the paper. He would've brought to the paper some empathy with the black community, which, for a long time, our black reporters didn't have."

April Book Sales

5 -- The Producers: Profiles In Frustration
3 -- Yesterday's News Tomorrow: Inside American Jewish Journalism

Angels on the Fairway, Here Is My Request

A man writes:

I have read your web site for sometime now, and this is the first time I have ever wanted to email you, but I thought I should set the record straight. I have attended this event a couple of times, and whoever said it is a F--K Fest is absolutely correct.

Yes, we all pay a lot of money to attend this event, but the extra curricular activity is amazing to say the least. Yes, the woman are very beautiful, and yes they are for sale. I spent many thousands of for some amazing ladies, where else can you get this caliber of lady to F--K you?

Some bring their boyfriends to protect them so they will not be approached. But is a free-for-all sex party! This woman Simone is full of shit of she says it is not! She knows it is and so do all the paying customers!

This event is a place where we men can get away from our ladies, wives, girlfriends etc, and get some good old top quality pussy, what is wrong with that? As for where the money goes, that is something maybe someone should look into! But, who gives a sh--, we got the pussy we went there for!

Andrew Breitbart Leaves For

He left about three weeks ago but nobody has noted it. Andrew's returned to the same deal he's had for years with Matt.

I read the for a couple of days, but quickly agreed with Nikki Finke's first day evaluation that it was a flop, and stopped reading it. I remember reading Andrew's early Q&A with Cathy Seipp when he was still running and I didn't find him convincing in his attempted enthusiasm for the project.

I guess Andrew wanted to be able to look himself in the mirror, and rid himself of disposable income.

I asked Breitbart for comment. He replied: "I think it boiled down to this: mustache notwithstanding, I think John Bolton is a pretty swell guy. And, for the life of me, I can't fit all three of my kids into a Prius. Lord knows I tried."

So why did Andrew leave He certainly made more money there than he does for Drudge. Andrew seemed to be spinning out of Drudge's orbit since Andrew co-wrote Hollywood, Interrupted with Mark Ebner and Drudge never got behind the book.

Andrew has been friends with Matt Drudge and Arianna Huffington for about a decade. Breitbart worked as a research assistant for Arianna circa 1995-98. He stayed friends with her after that.

Breitbart is right-wing, as is Drudge, while Huffington is left-wing. Andrew certainly knew Arianna was left-wing, so why would he leave her over ideological differences? I guess Andrew's vision for the did not match Arianna's and that's why they split.

Matt Drudge appears to dislike I wonder why Matt took Andrew back?

I don't think Andrew is going to be revealing the full story on this for a while, if ever.

I hear Kelly Hartog is no longer with the Jewish Journal. She was their religion correspondent for a few weeks.

Ross Johnson Launches His Blog

He writes:

In June of 2002, a Temple City man named Daniel Patterson, who had been hooked up with a couple of reputed Russian mob figures, met with Alexander Proctor.(of course, the Russian mafiya is one slippery term used to describe some Russians and Armenians living in Southern Cal.) Patterson and his Russian friends had been caught by the FBI doing a precious metals scam in Pasadena (they said they were scientists at JPL and needed gold bullion for there experiments!) Proctor had a rap sheet for burglary (he would bug a jewelry store, and rob it when he heard on the wire taps that the owner was gonna be away.)

According to Proctor's former attorney, Tony Brooklier, Proctor had picked up some extra change over the years using his electronics skills working for the private eye known as Anthony Pellicano.

The meeting with Patterson and Proctor would change many lives. Remember that butterfly who flapped his wings in Thailand?

Ross writes me:

Thanks for the link, Mr. Ford. We've always known that Russell Crowe was going to play you in the movie. It's just too bad that it took so damn long for me to get around to writing the whole story about Mr. Seagal. They wanted to cast Bruce Willis as me three years ago. By the time I get this baby done Memento style (the blog narrative will read from back to front, of course) they'll be talking Richard Dreyfus for yours truly. (William Bendix is dead, from what I hear).


When I was young, the thing I hated most about journalism was squelching my own opinion. As I age, I more enjoy the freedom of doing interviews and reporting while keeping my views to myself. It allows me to be more open to what my subjects say while feeling little need to defend my own views.

That's my feeling after my Wednesday night interview with Ken Reich, former LA Times reporter, about Frank del Olmo.

I disagreed with Ken's posts about the need for racial diversity at the Times but as an interviewer I left myself in the background and simply sought out Ken's point of view. And not only was I better for that approach, you the reader will be better for it once you read my transcript.

Ethelle The Porn Star

I was all excited reading this diary of a porn star who was a fan of my writing. But now I've found out that this "porn star" is the underage daughter of a friend of mine. This girl was just creating a fictional blog for fun. So now I feel creepy, as though I am a bad influence on the impressionable.

Rodney Rothman Flops

He was a timid dull speaker (though many other people found him engaging). I tried to liven things up by asking if he'd had any geriatric sex, but it was to no available. He said that was the most frequently asked question he's received on his media tour.

An L.A. Press Club party celebrating the publication of L.A. TV writer Rodney Rothman's new book "Early Bird: A Memoir of Premature Retirement," which recounts how former David Letterman head writer Rothman decided to move to a Florida retirement community at age 28.... just because he could. Publishers Weekly says: "He infiltrates the social hierarchy of the "pool group," eats dinner at the local early-bird specials and joins a shuffleboard club."

Dull and Mediocre

Ira Stoll is Managing Editor and Vice President of The New York Sun. He has served as Washington correspondent and Managing Editor of the Forward and as North American Editor of The Jerusalem Post.

He was one of the people I approached for an interview for my book but he could never be bothered to respond to me.

He writes in the June 2005 issue of Shma magazine, which is devoted to Jewish journalism (and this is his entire review):

Dull and mediocre are two words often used to describe Jewish journalism. The complaint is made repeatedly and recently in a self-published book by Luke Ford. Mr. Ford, the son of a Christian evangelist, is best known for a website that graphically chronicles the pornography industry. What standing he has as a critic of Jewish journalism is not exactly clear to me, but his book, Yesterday's News Tomorrow, (iUniverse, 2004) includes transcripts of interviews he conducted with the editor of The Jewish Week of New York, Gary Rosenblatt; with the editor of the Forward, J.J. Goldberg; with the editor of the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, Rob Eshman; with a professor of journalism at Columbia University, Ari Goldman; and with a few dozen other figures in the world of "Jewish journalism."

In defense of the Jewish journalists, it has to be said that much of American journalism is also dull and mediocre. And it is not only Jewish journalism that falls into the category of dull and mediocre; one of the complaints about American Jewish communal life -- from religious school classes to Shabbat services -- is that it is dull and mediocre.

What's more, as Jews in their second and third and fourth generations in American have integrated into the American mainstream, so have Jewish journalists and Jewish journalism. William Safire's regular interviews with Ariel Sharon for The New York Times op-ed page, often timed to appear on the eve of Jewish holidays, are good Jewish journalism, perhaps better than anything appearing in papers marketed exclusively to a Jewish audience. Jeffrey Goldberg's coverage in The New Yorker magazine of Islamic terrorists in South America and Jewish settlers in Gaza was important Jewish journalism, as is Jacob Gershman's coverage in The New York Sun of the furor over antisemitism in the Middle East studies department at Columbia University. I wrote a story for the Wall Street Journal about shenanigans at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Critics of Jewish journalism miss the point when they fail to take into account the fertile nature of this broader field.

In that context, is there still a place and a need for a Jewish press that is aimed primarily at a Jewish audience? Some of the bulletin board and internal discussion functions once carried out by that press can now be filled by email lists. Certain communities, such as the fervently Orthodox or ardently pro-Israel, will have needs that can be filled only by specialty publications like the daily newspaper Hamodia or the weekly Jewish Press of Brooklyn. Some stories on the internal battles of Jewish organizations are of so little interest to non-Jewish readers that were it not for Jewish publications, the news of the disputes might never be put on the record. But what good is Jewish journalism for non-Orthodox, non-professional, non-semi-professional Jews?

Some Jewish philanthropists and charities who also believe Jewish journalism is valuable subsidize Jewish newspapers and wire services. Sometimes the subsidies reduce the level of liveliness, aggressiveness, and independence. (Ford's book includes what he claims is a copy of an April 7, 1997 memo from leaders of the UJA-Federation of New York to the editor of The Jewish Week in which lay leaders propose "one UJA-Federation cover story per month in all editions" and stipulate that the "UJA-Federation will continue to make its donor list available to The Jewish Week for subscriptions so long as The Jewish Week provides UJA-Federation with the regular 'presence' it needs.") The argument in favor of the subsidies is the claim that in their absence Jewish journalism would die or decline in quality.

Most journalists, and even many publishers, aren't in it for the money; if they were, they'd have gone into far more lucrative fields. Most journalists I know are drawn to the work because they are interested in good stories. The story of the Jews and their God is one of the greatest in human history. It can't honestly be assessed as either dull or mediocre. My own faith is that some way or another it will inspire storytellers to do it justice, as it has now for thousands of years.

Is it just me, or is Ira phoning this in? It reads like he's half-asleep and relying on clichés.

He seems like a supercilious man, eager to dismiss those he believes are below him socially. Though he's only in his early thirties, he already reads like he's clapped out.

The last paragraph strikes me as particularly lackluster. I'm not at all sure that many journalists would make more money if they went into other fields. Many journalists I know, including myself, are not suited for any other type of work. Besides, what motives them to work as journalists is hardly relevant to assessing the quality of their work. Just as many people are motivated by good motives to do bad work as there are people motivated by bad motives who do good work. As for telling the story of Jews and their God which has supposedly gone on for thousands of years, Jews stopped writing history, essentially, for the first 1700 years of the Common Era.

I love Ira's cheap dismissals, such as: "What standing he has as a critic of Jewish journalism is not exactly clear to me..." Either Ira is lying in this sentence or he didn't read the book. If he read the book, then it is clear that I, depending on his opinion, either have no standing, some standing or considerable standing to criticize Jewish journalism. The book speaks for itself and provides all the information dear old Ira needs to assess my standing.

My book does not contain "transcripts." It contains carefully edited interviews. The difference between a transcript and my book would be obvious to most readers with an IQ above room temperature.

Another definition of "stick-in-the-mud" (aside from Ira Stoll) is: "a person who is stolid and unimaginative, content with his lot and unprepared to make an effort to improve it."

Chaim Amalek writes about the The New York Sun: "It's a great paper, given its meager reasources. I read it a few times a week. But for its budget it may well be the most literate paper in America."

Marsha Plafkin writes:

Dear Mr. Stoll,

I have read your smug assessment of Luke Ford's book, "Yesterday's News Tomorrow".

To begin, I was taken aback by your reference to Luke's father. Jewish law forbids mentioning convert status and attempting to denigrate another based on knowledge regarding a person's background.

Regarding the attempt to defend Jewish journalism vis a vis poor American journalism -- why don't you address the issue instead? Why don't you read J.J. Goldberg's own statements, for example? Or was the unstated purpose of your article to malign Luke's character under the guise of critiquing his book?

So you purport to speak to the American Jewish community about journalism in its midst by avoiding real information and instead attacking the writer. Ad homenum is not generally regarded among critical thinkers. Socrates and Aristotle considered personal attacks the "lesser man's" form of argument.

Requiem For Anita Busch

Nikki Finke writes:

Busch also made enemies of almost every reporter who tried to write about her during this time by threatening libel suits and demanding top-to-bottom corrections. Then again, the high-strung journalist tended to come undone whenever anyone turned the tables and wrote about her. She was known as a wonderful friend to have, and a terrible foe; the only problem was that, somewhere during her career, the line blurred and she became increasingly combative. One of her biggest bête noires was early blogger Luke Ford, whose scathing online portrait of “rageaholic Anita” drove her to near-batty behavior.


Again and again, the rap on Anita was that she didn’t play well with others, and complaints about her behavior from inside and outside the media mounted. A lot of this was just Anita being, well, Anita. Typical is this anecdote from a new employee at Variety who on his first day tried to introduce himself. “I didn’t know she was on the phone. I walk up to her and say, ‘Hi, I’m . . . ’ And just as I’m about to say my name, she starts shouting, ‘Oh yeah? Well, fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you.’ Every time she says ‘Fuck you,’ she is slamming her headset on the desk. She flings it away and it breaks into 20 pieces. She puts her hand out and says, ‘Hi, I’m Anita.’”

But What Is The Black Man Into?

White liberals have Scientology, Kabbalah Centre, Landmark Forum, Moonies, Hare Krishnas.

Chaim Amalek writes: "These are all white liberal cults. For the really interesting stuff, consider the ones that the Black Man is into: Nation of Islam, Black Israelites, Black Hebrews."

Robert writes: "So we all agree there is no shortage of spiritually depeleted, cash flush losers seeking a guy with simple clear cut answers to life's problems. Luke, why not set up such a group and charge $500 a weekend for such drivel. You could call it "The Fleecing.""

Khunrum writes: "I did date a Branch Librarian once. Nice girl. Didn't put out though."

Fred writes: "Probably because she thought you were just checking her out."

Angels On The Fairway

A source writes:

Have you ever heard of Angels on the Fairway? Check it out! This company headed by a lady Simone Sheffield is doing a yearly party which is a F--K FEST!

She arranges for a few hundred ladies models, hookers, playmates etc to go free of charge to Cabo San Lucas and charges thousands of dollars to the men to attend the event.

The event is a so called "charity" which gives money to domestic violence programs etc. I have done some background and have been unable to find where this company has ever given money to anything.

My point, last year a friend attended this event, free of charge they provided her all the transportation, food, drinks etc. But she was expected to take care of a man, in other words f--k him, when she refused, she was flown home!

Companies like this should be exposed! Don't you think, they are getting away with this because it is in Mexico, most of the ladies know what is expected of them but some don't! This lady and her so called charity company is profiting off prostitution, and telling people that money is given to a charity! Bull!

Organizer Simone Sheffield responds to me about this:

that is NOT our event nor would that ever happen at our event. your lady or man is a liar. check your sources. they are not being truthful with you. they are no doubt someone i have refused entry to. we have NEVER nor would we ever send a model home for such a ridiculous allegation. this is not the same event. i suggest you check your event facts.... perhaps events in Vegas or those by trashy lingerie. such activities might be more up their alley. BUT NOT OURS. i leave for Mexico soon and will not reply to emails until my return in a week. there is nothing else to discuss.

I got this report from a model who went to this event last year:

First thank you, no one will listen to the problem here, many girls get into a situation that they can not get out of...

I first heard about the Angels On the Fairway from another model, she said I could make some good money just by being there. The company provided the air, lodging,meals everything, all I had to do was show up. She said she had been propositioned many times but turned them down.

Anyway, last year I showed up and right of the bat I was asked to f--k this guy. I said no way, I am here for the fun. I was told that the fun was to take care of the customers and don't ask questions.

When I said no again, It was then that a man named Phil came over and talked to me. He said, "If you don't take care of our customers you will be asked to leave. You're not a famous model nor are you a celebrity, so you have to do what we tell you. This is Mexico and you can get in a lot of trouble here."

I was scared out of my mind, I didn't want to f--k this old man, nor did I want to get into any trouble so I faked that I was very ill, and they sent me home!

I asked Simone Sheffield about this. She replied:

absolutely NOT. this is a real charity event. you can take this TRUTH from the horses mouth or continue to play this game. I WILL STAND BEHIND THIS EVENT 100%. give me your address.. i would prefer if my attorney can contact you directly about these allegations.

send me the name of the person that sent you this pack of outright lies. i will sue them in the blink of an eye. we have a long history of our donations - LONG ! i will have my attorney contact you and your friend directly. send their info urgently. i will handle this person legally and not via false emails. this must be some loser i refused to attend the event.


I told Sheffield I would not reveal my sources.

A source writes: "This lady Simone is a wack job, I called her and she went off on me. Said she is sick and tired of people accusing her of pimping. I asked for a list of the charities that she has given money to and she hung up on me."

Amber writes:

Hi, Luke!! I'm a former (mainstream) model who has worked as a Trashy Girl for Trashy Lingerie (both here in Los Angeles as well as at their parties in Vegas at the Palms).

I find Ms. Sheffield's comments that "i suggest you check your event facts.... perhaps events in Vegas or those by trashy lingerie. such activities might be more up their alley," incredibly offensive!

Nothing of that nature goes on there. . . except entertaining, bringing out that A-List party vibe The Palms is known for. Prior to Trashy Lingerie providing the models for these events, the girls were from Playboy.

Ms. Sheffield should really think before she opens her big (and obviously painfully uninformed) mouth!!! She wants to accuse others of slander? What makes her think that Mary (owner of Trashy) won't have her ass in a sling???

Additionally, those events are sponsored by the Palms (i.e. The Maloof Family). . . I wonder what George (Maloof) would think of her comments?

I can empathize with her feelings (particularly if Angels is legitimate), but to call names in that manner?? Unprofessional. . . not to mention an excellent way to bring legal action against herself.

Trashy is a widely respected company, outfitting everyone from Paris Hilton to scores of Playmates to Drew Barrymore. Take it from one who's actually been there!

A person writes Simone:

I am an independent reporter for the Porn industry and the exploitation of woman. It has been reported to me that your Angels on the Fairway is a place where rich men can go and get laid. I have heard this from several of your past and present models, that have attended or will attend your event. I have interviewed several of your male paying guests and they have confirmed what the models have said.

I would be interested in learning more about what charities you are donating monies to, if you would be so kind as to provide contact names and number for verification, that would help my investigation greatly.

These are of course allegations on the parts of the models and paying customers, but I must tell you I have interviewed many of your clients, and allegations make since.

I have even seen a video tape of several encounters, I do not know if the actual place was the hotel where you having your event, but the video was showing many of your models performing sexual acts on paying customers.

What happens between consenting adults is not under your control, but since your saying your giving monies to a charity which involves Domestic violence, it is ironic that this behavior is allegedly going on.

I look forward to your reply, and thank you in advance for your concern and help. Also if possible I would like to attend the event, I can arrange for my own transportation and pay your required fee. Please advise me ASAP, I can get a flight to Cabo on Wed.

Source continues: "This is a powerful Black Lady, I never could get any answers? I tried to get in touch with Tommy Lee about the event, as he has attended before, but his manager said no comment? What does that tell you?

"This topic is a difficult one that lies at the crossroads of feminism, morals, pleasure, gender inequality, exploitation and male violence. The difficulty in discussing it is compounded by the large degree of diversity and stratification of experiences within prostitution: from straight and gay prostitutes on the street to elite escort services. The range of experiences increases again if we explore sex work, which takes into account exotic dancing, the adult movie industry and an increasing number of people who run an adult-oriented website that features themselves. Further, the level of exploitation in sex work should be compared and contrasted with a variety of exploitative, meaningless and alienating work produced by a technologically advanced, consumption oriented capitalist society. The question is thus not whether sex work is exploitative, but how does it compare with being a waitress, working in a factory or a McDonalds - perhaps even a graduate assistant?"

Here's the press release on the event:

January 22, 2005, Hollywood, CA - Due to overwhelming response, the 5th Annual Angels on The Fairway Celebrity Golf Open & Party will once again feature 200 of the world's most beautiful women hosting the 4 day event to be held June 23rd - June 26th in beautiful Los Cabos, Mexico.

The Angels on The Fairway Golf Tournament will be held at The Cabo Real Golf Course Designed by Golfing legend Robert Trent Jones II located in Los Cabos, Mexico.

Our stay is hosted by The Crown Plaza Los Cabos - a 5-Star Resort. Celebrities and sports stars participating in this event will include Rock superstars Tommy Lee and Meatloaf, basketball greats Julius Erving and Clyde Drexler, Actress Traci Bingham, Fashion Models and Playboy Playmates. [A Beer company] and [a Los Angeles FM station] will sponsor the four-day benefit event.

Our Bikini and Lingerie Fashion Shows will raise funds for The Laura Dester Children Shelter, a non-profit organization serving its community.

Brian Bartolo, Internet Sales Manager KZLA-FM / KPWR-FM [Power 106 FM], denies that his station is a sponsor of the above event (even though the press release listing the station as a sponsor went out January 22, 2005 (without apparent protest from Power 106) and has been published on for months).

Corona Beer, contrary to the press release, also says they are not a sponsor.

Ken Reich Writes: 'Turnout of Times People At Del Olmo Book Event Is Shamefully Low'

I couldn't help but remember Shelby Coffey, former Times editor now living in the Washington, D.C. area. He truly believed in diversity and worked hard for it in his years at the Times. He definitely would have been there had he still been editor.

Manuel Valencia, the veteran Los Angeles PR man, told me that 300 people in all had been invited to last night's event, and about 100 RSVPd. Only about 50 showed up, a mostly Latino crowd, few Anglos in evidence. Valencia did not have the precise number of Times people invited by del Olmo's widow, Magdalena-Beltran del Olmo, a co-editor with Sotomayor, of the book, "Frank del Olmo, Commentaries on His Times." But he said he believed it was very substantial. It certainly was scores.

My own profile of Frank del Olmo.

Tony Castro writes Ken Reich:

Ken, Frank's passing was truly sad, and we all mourned. But Luke Ford and a few other non-Latinos who have commented on Frank's death have raised a good point -- what big stories did Frank break? Or was his significance, as some have suggested, more having to do with pressing Affirmative Action and diversity at the Times? Over the past year or so, I have heard from a number of reporters and editors at the Times who privately have shared those concerns, all resembling a backlash similar to what we have seen in universities and other institutions to individuals whose role has been perceived as having been symbols for diversity instead of strong examples of substance. All that said, Frank at worst deserved a better symbolic show of hands from his former colleagues.

Nauseating Coverage Of Warren Wilson's Retirement

Warren Wilson was an unethical and crappy reporter for KTLA Channel 5 for more 21-years. Yet he only gets glowing send-offs. Here's the LA Times story (no mention of the numerous scandals associated with Wilson's work):

Warren Wilson, a veteran reporter who is perhaps best known for helping to surrender 22 wanted fugitives to police, has retired and plans on writing a book about his experience as a pioneering African American journalist in Los Angeles.

His retirement comes a year after he filed a discrimination complaint with KTLA, alleging that he was being paid less than younger, white reporters and was not given high-profile stories that allow reporters longer live shots and more exposure.

Wilson was one of the first African American journalists who went on the air in Los Angeles, joining KNBC in the late 1960s, a few years after the Watts riots. Other black journalists began appearing on television in the early 1970s and '80s, including the late Larry McCormick, an anchor for KTLA, and former KTTV Fox anchor Tony Cox.

Newsrooms first began to hire black reporters during the 1965 Watts riots, Cox said. He and Wilson were often sent to cover the same dangerous, late-night crime stories. "We were competitors and yet were compatriots," Cox said. "We had to compete for stories, yet we knew we had a common experience in terms of being in newsrooms that were often hostile toward us."

At his first job interview for a reporting position at KNXT (now KCBS), Wilson says the news director turned him down, claiming that the lighting and cameras wouldn't facilitate a black man interviewing a white person on television.

And here's ex-Times reporter Ken Reich:

For a long time, Wilson once told me, he wasn't encouraged to speak spontaneously on the air. Nearly everything he said had to be scripted in advance before the filming began. Then, one day, it was a breaking news story. He had to be spontaneous, and he did a hell of a good job. Then, his editors realized that Wilson was good on his feet, and a load was lifted from his mind.

This is not an untypical story, because the truth of it is that "minority reporters" at both the Times and on L.A. radio and television are indeed too often treated differently. They are stereotyped and perhaps kept from the promotions they deserve.

We can't forget either that when the Watts Riot erupted in the city in 1965, the L.A. Times had to use an advertising salesman, Robert Richardson, to help cover it, because the Times had no black reporter, and that when Martin Luther King, Jr., arrived in Los Angeles on his first visit, the only white person in the greeting party was the late County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn.

Wilson used to push to get payoffs for referring people he met through his job as a reporter to particular lawyers. He was repeatedly disciplined for this at KTLA. I suspect that if Wilson wasn't black, he would've been fired.

There are plenty of terrific black reporters and Latino reporters and reporters of every race. Why do we have to celebrate mediocrity just because someone has a darker shade of skin?

Ten Commandments

From an email: The real reason that we can't have the Ten Commandments in a Courthouse is that you cannot post "Thou Shalt Not Steal," "Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery" and "Thou Shall Not Lie" in a building full of lawyers, judges and politicians! It creates a hostile work environment.

The Gentile Pornographer Who Studied Kabbalah

He uses the Zohar as a backdrop for some of his photo sets.

I interview Donny by phone June 19, 2005.

His father was an Assembly of God (fast-growing strict fundamentalist form of evangelical Christianity) pastor.

Donny, born in 1973 (he has a younger brother who used to work for Donny): "I went to all the church services and I tried to go along with it but something didn't seem right.

"I went to a summer camp where boys and girls had to swim separately [it's the same for most parts of Orthodox Judaism]. The boys would have to swim in jeans and a full shirt. Girls would have to swim in full dresses."

Luke: "Were you allowed to watch television?"

Donny: "No. I didn't have a TV [until her moved in with his aunt at age 17].

"My parents became Christians when I was five [to try to save their marriage, they eventually divorced when Donny was 26]. My dad studied to become a pastor [that began when Donny was seven]. They kept getting deeper into it.

"I grew up all over California because my dad was a pastor, he was moved from church to church.

"I don't have bad feelings towards my parents. They did the best they could. I have bad feelings towards church people who caused problems when I was growing up. They would cause petty problems because they wanted to run things and my dad wouldn't let them run the church how they wanted. They'd say my dad wasn't Pentecostal enough.

"Pastors get paid from tithing. One family controlled the church's books. They tried to underreport how much tithing came in and tried to starve him out. Some people would claim we were having teenage girls over to our house. None of it was true. Nobody ever came over to our house."

Luke: "Did you form any close childhood friendships with Christians that persist to this day?"

Donovan: "No. My parents were so mistrusting of other people that they wouldn't let us go spend the night with people in the church. They thought the people would let us watch TV or listen to music. Most of our acquaintances were family members."

Luke: "Did your parents get into religion because they were hurting or screwed up?"

Donovan: "Yes. They were about to get divorced. They said, we've tried everything else. Now let's try God. Then they just got deeper and deeper. We went to holy roller churches where people shake on the ground."

Luke: "Did your parents have a good marriage?"

Donovan: "No. They were fighting all the time."

Luke: "Even after they turned to God?"

Donovan: "Yes."

Luke: "What was the main bone of contention?"

Donovan: "My mother is really stubborn and she would like to be more hard-nosed than my dad was. She thought he needed to be stricter with people. That he let certain congregation members get away with too much. My dad was more laid-back.

"They'd be fighting over whether or not my brother and I respected her enough and all that kind of crap. He would stick up for us. She'd throw fits over him not sticking up for his wife. Every so often, she'd leave for a couple of days and make him beg for to come back."

Luke: "Were you glad when they divorced?"

Donovan: "I was happy for my dad even though he was really sad about it. My mom's hard to live with."

Luke: "What did your parents and your religion teach you about masturbation?"

Donovan: "They mentioned some verse in the Bible that you're not supposed to spill your seed on the ground. Masturbation was wrong. They didn't say that sex was only for procreation."

Luke: "When did you lose your virginity?"

Donovan: "Not until I was 20, and it wasn't even to her. It was to a girl I'd met in Orlando. She found out I was a virgin, so she kept trying and trying until I finally gave in.

"My future wife and I were still dating at the time. I called her and got to the part about kissing the other girl and that's all she wanted to hear. We were broken up for a while.

"I got married when I was 22. We got divorced in 2000 after six years of marriage."

Though married to a good Christian Assembly of God wife, Donovan began work in the pornography industry in 1996, while he was still going to church regularly. He kept it from his wife for four years until the Phoenix Forum in early 2000 when he called her and told her the truth. She promptly divorced him. It was either God's way or the highway.

"I got my first computer in 1996. I started surfing the newsgroups. I started seeing brands on there like ATK,, etc. I started emailing some of those sites and asked them where they purchased their photos."

Luke: "How did your wife feel about you working in the pornography industry?"

Donovan: "She didn't know. We thought we were deeply in debt at this time. We had about $8,000 in debt. One day I said to her, 'I know a way to get us out of debt. What do you think if I photograph some girls for some adult websites?' She freaked out at even the thought of me considering that. Little did she know that I was already starting to do it. I just kept it from her. I started up a computing consulting business as a front.

"She was just as religious as my parents had been. We fought over stupid things. If I wanted to watch a movie that was rated R, she would get mad at me for not being the spiritual leader of the house. That I wanted to watch such a movie showed that my head wasn't there. We fought about the spiritual stuff."

Luke: "Where were you religiously [Assembly of God] then?"

Donovan: "Off and on, I'd try really hard. It would fluctuate. I'd go from shooting porn to going to church on Sundays and raising my hands and trying to get into to going to Bible study Wednesday 6am with the men's group."

Luke: "Did you have many friends in the church?"

Donovan: "They claim to be your friends but they're quick to backstab you if they don't think it's right."

Luke: "In retrospect, you don't think they were good friends?"

Donovan: "No. They probably thought they were. They're the kind of people who will turn their back on you if you're failing and you're not willing to come in and cry and beg forgiveness. They don't think your heart is in the right place. They believe in that verse in the Bible -- 'Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers.'"

Luke: "Do you believe in God?"

Donovan: "I believe that what everybody refers to as God is actually energy that holds everything together."

Luke: "God's not done with you yet."

Donovan: "I think that's a bunch of bulls---. It's just people trying to create some hope for themselves that their lives are going to get better because God hasn't finished with them yet.

"There's no way I'll ever go back to [Christianity]. It's all bulls---. There's no supreme being watching out over everybody."

Luke: "How does it work being a parent and a pornographer?"

Donovan: "It's been ok. On my days with my son, I don't do any business. I don't even take phone calls. On the days when my ex has him, I do all my business.

"At first she didn't want to take money from me. But she had no choice because she wasn't working. She was a stay-at-home mom. Finally, I convinced her, in her terms, that while I may make the money in a way she thinks is evil, she can do good with it by staying home with her son and raising him.

"I have a fiancee now who helps me with the business. On days that I'm going over to get him, she checks to make sure that everything is clean."

Luke: "How does your ex-wife feel about your profession?"

Donovan: "She still hates it."

Luke: "How did she find out?"

Donovan: "When I went to my first Desert Forum (CCBill throws it), I called her and told her. She thought I was doing computer consulting with Gary Kremen on 'But that's not the area he focuses on. He also owns I shoot naked girls.'

"She just blew up and that was it."

Luke: "Pornography ended your marriage."

Donovan: "Yes, it did. For sure. It was a relief, though, to tell her."

Luke: "If you had not worked in pornography, would you guys still be together?"

Donovan: "If I had been a good Christian boy, we would've. Not fought my feelings that there was something wrong with Christianity.

"Porn has allowed me to do a lot of traveling and meet a lot of different people. I was a hardcore Republican for several years while doing porn. At the last election, I voted for Kerry."

Luke: "Have you found that pornography isolates you from others?"

Donovan: "At first I let it get me down. Now I'm proud. Every where I go, when people ask me what I do, I tell them.

"It blows most people away when you are so outfront with it. Some people want to discuss the issue. I always ask them if they want to discuss it logically or emotionally. They always say logically. Usually women don't want to talk about it. Usually they want their man to do the talking for them.

"I'll ask the man if he's ever watched pornography. Of course he'll say yes. I'll say, then we don't have anything to discuss. You're in this as much as me. You're the demand and I'm the supply. If they're logical as they've agreed to be, then there's no argument to that.

"I was walking around with AaronM (industry photographer) today. He was shocked how many people walked up to me. In the camera store, they know what I do. He said, I couldn't deal with everybody knowing what I do."

Luke: "How does being a pastor's son continue to affect you?"

Donovan: "It opens up a lot of conversations. It puts at ease at a lot of the new models I get. I'm the only guy in town doing what I do. Most of the girls I photograph have never done any work before. When I bring that I'm a preacher's son, they say, whoa, how did that happen? It works to my advantage. The first thought in a new model's mind is that someone is going to find out and tell mom and dad. I can tell them that I've had to face all the things they're worried about."

Luke: "What does your mother say to you?"

Donovan: "She doesn't like it. She doesn't want me to tell her boyfriend. My dad is a retired pastor. When people from his congregation email him about how he can let me do what I do for a living, he usually replies that they should keep their mouths shut. As a pastor, he had to counsel people like them who were addicted to porn. Such people have no place to talk.

"He's not happy with the choice I made for a profession but he's proud of me as a person."

Luke: "Has he asked you for a free log-in?"

Donovan: "No. He did ask me to see photos I photographed who he knew.

"My brother thinks it is the coolest thing in the world. He's a laborer. He tried working for me for a while but I wouldn't let him around the girls because he wasn't professional. He was trying to f--- 'em all. He got bored with the office work I had him doing.

"Male friends think it's cool. Female friends start to roll their eyes until I have a conversation with them and ask them questions that make them think. Then they come to accept it."

Luke: "When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?"

Donovan: "An airline pilot. I accomplished almost every goal I set growing up. They usually had to do with academics.

"One thing that annoys me about the adult industry is that people don't think they have to be professional. I've slipped numerous times but there's also a professional way to make up for that."

Luke: "How would you feel if your son grew up to want to work in pornography?"

Donovan: "If he wanted to work with me or run my business, I'd first make him aware of the reactions he would get from the rest of his religious family. And if he still wanted to do it, I'd definitely guide him. I wouldn't want him to be talent.

"I welcome when someone comes after me. I think of it as a challenge. I have yet to have someone convince me that what I'm doing is wrong."

Luke: "Did you know what you were getting yourself in for?"

Donovan: "When I started, I didn't have a clue. If I had, I would've never started. Given what I know now, I would've started. At the beginning, I was blown away because I had lived a sheltered life. The first time I went to Internext, the stuff that was going on there, I felt sick to my stomach. Some of the sites that were out there such as I'd never been exposed to that. I just felt that it was disgusting.

"Over time, that view changed. Now some of that stuff interests me and I also have respect for other people and what interests them. As long as they are not causing harm, there's nothing wrong in what they're doing. I've become less judgmental."

Luke: "Have you become jaded?"

Donovan: "Yes, I've become jaded. There has to be a lot more to interest me."

Luke: "Is there anything good in Christianity?"

Donovan: "To be honest, I hate Christians because of their hypocrisy and how they shun people who aren't doing what they think is right."

Luke: "Yet, much of what you are is a product of Christianity."

Donovan: "I don't know if when you were a kid, you were told that Santa Claus existed. Then you found out he didn't. That's how I felt about Christianity. All the stuff I was taught was bulls---. There's a keen sense of disappointment.

"I have to be honest with you. I have been studying Kabbalah."

He places the emphasis on the first syllable.

Donovan: "Stuff from the Kabbalah Centre in LA. I've also asked rabbis what they think of it. Of course they think that most of it is bulls---.

"You eat the meat and you spit out the boons. You take what you want from it."

Luke: "Would one of the attractive parts of the Kabbalah Centre be that it doesn't make any demands on you?"

Donovan: "Definitely."

Luke: "How much money have you spent on the Kabbalah Centre?"

Donovan: "About a thousand dollars. I don't buy their water and I don't wear their red strings. I have one but I don't wear it. I don't swallow what they say hook, line and sinker."

Luke: "What have you gained from it?"

Donovan: "A reassurance from another major group that what I'm doing isn't wrong. They agree with that. It would take too long to tell you what I get from it."

Luke: "Give it a go."

Donovan: "They have a CD series about what they believe - The Power Of Kabbalah. A lot of what they taught made perfect sense to me. They teach that God is nothing that people can ever comprehend. It's more of an energy and a light that holds everything together. When they talk about Satan, they're not talking about a physical being either. It's negativity. There's positivity and negativity and it's all part of yourself.

"I love to ask Christians to explain Hosea 13:16."

It reads: "Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up."

Donovan: "I say to them, how can you justify killing babies? Why would I want to serve a God who wants to go in there and rip up kids?"

Luke: "You've never gotten a good answer to that?"

Donovan: "No. That's not a verse they teach in the churches."

Luke: "Do you think it would've been good if someone would've done that to Adolf Hitler's mother?"

Donovan: "No. Adolf Hitler's mother couldn't be responsible for what he did."

Luke: "By killing her and Adolf, we would've saved 50 million lives."

Donovan: "But how could you know in advance? I don't even believe in the death penalty."

Donovan writes on an industry chatboard January 4, 2005:

I've recently begun studying Kabbalah because I find it fascinating. The part I like most about it is where it points out that several areas of the Bible were incorrectly translated. The original text the Bible came from was mostly Hebrew and Aramaic. There are so many words that don't translate to English, as well as idioms that can't be correctly translated.

When some of the mistakes from the Bible were pointed out to me I lost most of my anger towards Christians. They are basically reading a "dumbed down" version of the original and trying their best to figure out what it means. By "dumbed down" I mean they don't have the full story. The authors of the Bible did not really believe God punished (nor blessed) anyone. They actually believe that man excercises true free will on earth.

Let's take Electricity as an example of the no punishment or blessing thing: If you stick your finger in a light socket and get shocked, would you say the light socket is punishing you? Likewise, if you plug in a lamp to the light socket and it lights up a room, would you say the electricity is blessing you? Of course not. In the first case you did not know how to properly use the power of the electricity. In the latter case, you harnessed the power of the electricity by using a machine (the lamp) that was built to use the electricity's power in a proper way.

The authors of the Bible, when reading what they actually wrote, felt the same way. They felt God is not an actual being (it's just easier to describe this power as a being) but that he is the creative force and power that formed the world and is still the energy that holds everything together. He doesn't punish, nor reward. Humans just suffer because they do not know how to properly use the power available to them. The bad (and good) that happens is a result of cause and effect. Just like in physics: "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction". Some cause and effect is separated by time so we don't always see the "cause" for things. Sometimes something bad happens in your life that seems to come from nowhere, but if you were to step back and look at your life and could remove the time barriers you might see what the cause was for the bad situation (or good situation) you are currently facing.

And the original authors of the Bible didn't believe in a literal hell either. They were just trying to use examples that people of the time could understand to prove their points. You have to remember that most people were not educated at that time. Those who take the Bible to be completely literal are fools.

Some of the stuff Kabbalists teach makes me scratch my head, but a large majority of it makes a LOT of sense. I've also learned that several famous scientists/scholars, etc studied it. Men such as Plato, Newton and Thomas Edison.

Some of the things that are talked about thousands of years ago are now reality and called "science". But at that time the people couldn't comprehend WTF Kabbalists were talking about and labeled them as "mystics".

Imagine trying to explain cell phones to the religious a few hundred years ago... and then imagine pulling out a cell phone and letting them talk to someone. They'd label you an evil person, or witch, and burn you at the stake.

ADL_JD writes:

This is a very complicated subject and really there are no original authors of the Bible as people would have one believe. It is true that the original stories of the Bible (the Torah) were in Hebrew. But the books that are knows as the Torah today were brought to Judea by Ezra from Babylon after the Babylonians were conquered by the Persians. Ezra, and his scribes, must have changed quite a lot about the text, added stories, etc because there are so many Babylonian influences in the "Original Torah." Take one of the most prominent - the Epic of Gilgamesh - which is so closely related to the story of Noah that it is obviously copied from the Babylonians and inserted into the Old testament. (BTW - where the Aramaic comes in is that was the language of the Babylonians. So, when the Jews were released from Babylon so many of them spoke Aramaic that it changed the language forever... then came Greek after).

Donovan writes:

Here is what one Jewish site has to say about Jesus:

Messiah : The Criteria

Judge for yourself:
Did Jesus fulfill ALL these criteria?

The Jewish tradition of "The Messiah" has its foundation in numerous biblical references, and understands "The Messiah" to be a human being - without any overtone of deity or divinity - who will bring about certain changes in the world and fulfill certain criteria before he can be acknowledged as "The Messiah".

First of all, he must be Jewish - " may appoint a king over you, whom the L-rd your G-d shall choose: one from among your brethren shall you set as king over you." (Deuteronomy 17:15)

He must be a member of the tribe of Judah - "The staff shall not depart from Judah, nor the scepter from between his feet..." (Genesis 49:10)

To be a member of the tribe of Judah, the person must have a biological father who is a member of the tribe of Judah.

He must be a direct male descendant of King David and King Solomon, his son - "And when your days (David) are fulfilled, and you shall sleep with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who shall issue from your bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will make firm the throne of his kingdom forever..." (2 Samuel 7:12 - 13)

The genealogy of the New Testament is inconsistent. While it gives two accounts of the genealogy of Joseph, it states clearly that he is not the biological father of Jesus. One of the genealogies is through Nathan and not Solomon altogether!

He must gather the Jewish people from exile and return them to Israel -"And he shall set up a banner for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth." (Isaiah 11:12)

Are all Jews living in Israel? Have all Jews EVER lived in Israel since the time of Jesus?

He must rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem - "...and I will set my sanctuary in their midst forever and my tabernacle shall be with them.." (Ezekiel 37:26 - 27)

At last check, there is NO Temple in Jerusalem. And worse, it was shortly after Jesus died that the Temple was DESTROYED! Just the opposite of this prophecy!

He will rule at a time of worldwide peace - "...they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore." (Micah 4:3)

Have you seen a newspaper lately? Are we living in a state of complete world peace? Has there ever been peace since the time of Jesus?


He will rule at a time when the Jewish people will observe G-d's commandments - "My servant David shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall follow My ordinances and be careful to observe My statutes." (Ezekiel 37:24)

The Torah is the Jewish guide to life, and its commandments are the ones referred to here. Do all Jews observe all the commandments? Christianity, in fact, often discourages observance of the commandments in Torah, in complete opposition to this prophecy.

He will rule at a time when all people will come to acknowledge and serve one G-d - "And it shall come to pass that from one new moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, says the L-rd" (Isaiah 66:23)

there are still millions if not billions of people in the world today who adhere to paganistic and polytheistic religions. It is clear that we have not yet seen this period of human history unfold.

All of these criteria are best stated in the book of Ezekiel Chapter 37 verses 24-28:

And David my servant shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall also follow My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Yaakov my servant, in which your fathers have dwelt and they shall dwell there, they and their children, and their children's children forever; and my servant David shall be their prince forever. Moreover, I will make a covenant of peace with them, it shall be an everlasting covenant with them, which I will give them; and I will multiply them and I will set my sanctuary in the midst of them forevermore. And my tabernacle shall be with them: and I will be their G-d and they will be my people. Then the nations shall know that I am the L-rd who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary will be in the midst of them forevermore.

If an individual fails to fulfill even one of these conditions, then he cannot be "The Messiah." A careful analysis of these criteria shows us that to date, no one has fulfilled every condition.

Certainly NOT Jesus.

ADL_JD posts:

I have been studying a lot of the history of the Jews around the time of Jesus. The thing that really sticks out to me is that the TIME was ripe for the Messiah. The Jews had first seen the Greek invasions and then the Romans. They were feeling really repressed.

One of the most fascinating elements were that there were a group of Gentiles called "God-fearers." There were people that believed in the Hebrew God but did not want to follow their strict dietary laws or be circumcised (who would - you have these great Greeks that came through with all their culture, food, and excesses). So, these people weren't Jewish but they believed in one God and the God of the Jews.

So, what do you think happened when Paul (In my eyes really the one responsible for Christianity) comes along speaking their language, telling them don't worry about circumcision or Kosher food - you can be one of us without that. The flocks came.

Again, the times were right!

brand0n writes: "Selling porn on the net = sure fire way to avoid heaven. We are all damned. No reason to study anything."

Jayeff writes:

One of the fundamental differences between Judaism and Christianity is that Christians believe in personal salvation, while Jews do not. For Jews there is no personal resurrection (therefore nor personal hell) and one's relationship with G-d is as a member of a people and not as an individual. The Jewish view is consistent with the universal power concept expressed in the original post in this thread: not surprising, since there is a Kabbalah derived from the teachings of the Torah (others are derived from Greek Orthodox writings and other sources). Another is that for Jews, their religion is less a faith than a part of their being.

But the most obvious difference between Jews and Christians is that only Christians accept Christ as the Messiah. However, between his transformation from Jewish preacher to part of the Christian Trinity, both he and his teachings underwent several changes.

The first is that as a Jew, if Jesus had spoken about personal salvation, he would have found it near impossible to communicate with an audience which had been steeped for thousands of years in a contrary belief. Sure enough, there is nothing any of the New Testament, spoken by Jesus himself, which so much as hints at this concept.

St. Paul is mainly responsible for the shape that Christianity took and therefore to a large extent for how we perceive Christ himself. Whatever the truths of Christ's life, it is certain that Christians have a very different image of him than the Jews of the time - even those who approved of his teachings - would have had. We often forget that Paul, in order to promote the new religion to Greeks and Romans, had to spin Christianity so that it would appeal to people who already had their own panoply of gods and beliefs that were not only contrary to the beliefs of the Jews, but contrary to each other. Which of course means that since Christians cannot ignore the existence of the Old Testament, we have therefore placed our own interpretations on it, so that it can link to the New Testament without too much strain.

Donovan writes:

I need to tell you about a call I had today with a man from the Kabbalah Center in LA. A few weeks ago I emailed him and told him all about what I do for a living. Today he called and said that he's been thinking about some of the things I told him and the questions I asked him. Contrary to what I thought he'd say, he assured me that he does not want me to stop my involvement in this business. He said that what we do on the physical level is really of very little importance. What is important is what is inside of us. Example: do we like to help others, do we share with them and help them in time of need, etc.

Those who know me are aware that I do indeed share quite a bit with others. I love helping people in many ways. My brother, friends, family, complete strangers, etc.

Kabbalistic teachings do not condemn. I love that about them. This teacher is saying that in his opinion, if I use this business to help others I am still bringing light into the world. That is good to hear, because I've always thought that I use this business for good in many ways. I've given thousands and thousands of dollars to every day people in need.

Of course, I could always share more. There are always more people who can be helped, but it sure as hell is refreshing to hear someone "spiritual" say that I should feel no condemnation for owning an "adult" business. I wish more religious people could see things this way.

Donovan tells me June 19: "Kabbalah is older than the written Bible. The literal Kabbalah was the spoken Torah. There was a reason why the rabbis had to be 40 years old and married to study it. Most people at that time were uneducated and the literal Kabbalah was trying to tell us how things work.

"In the Bible, there's a story about the prophet Elijah going into a village. The woman and her husband hadn't had any kids. They made a room for him in their home so when he came into town, he had a place to stay.

"He told them you are going to have a son. He was blessing them for their kindness. The son ends up dying and the lady ran to Elijah and said, how come my son died? It would've been better if I had never had him to begin with. Elijah sent his servant and said don't talk to anybody along the way.

"Elijah has to come back and lie on the kid and brings him back to life.

"The Kabbalah teaches that it's not that there's some God up there who wants things done a certain way to entertain him, but every person has an energy inside of them, and God is part of everything.

"The reason that the servant shouldn't have talked to anybody on the way home was so that their negativity doesn't affect his energy.

"He's saying that you have the ability to channel within yourself a healing into this person's body.

"That's what I like about Kabbalah -- we're all joined together by this life force, energy, light or whatever you want to call it that allows us to do things that we normally couldn't do. Look at some of the weird things that have happened over the course of history. They're like miracles but they're not."

Donny bought the Kabbalah Centre's expensive Zohar set in Hebrew and English. He says that was "a waste of money. It sits on my shelf and collects dust. We use it as a photo backdrop.

"It's a little deeper than I want to get.

"I've bought a lot of other books about Judaism. Judaism For Dummies.

"When I first discovered Kabbalah, I had a ton of questions and I'd shoot them off to any rabbi who would answer me. I had a few who talked to me on the telephone. The founder's son talked to me for a while. Once he found out that I didn't have a background in Judaism, he was still helpful, but not as much as at first. When I first contacted him, he thought I was a fallen Jew."

Luke: "How do you feel about Jews not seeking converts?"

Donny: "I think that's a good thing."

He writes: This is an interesting belief system. It's recently received a lot of attention because Madonna has been studying it and has also introduced Demi Moore, Britney Spears, and other celebrities to it. I ordered some of their books, as I love reading about the religious beliefs of others. I made contact with one of the counselors at the Kabbalah Center and asked what he thinks of my involvement in the adult entertainment industry. Here's what he said:

What we do in the physical world is not as important as what is in our consiousness. Use the Zohar double this week. Ask the Light to show you what your next level of giving will be. Of sharing. I want you to feel very good in what you are doing. It is not the problem. What we do on the physical is not the problem. Do not fall into feelings of guilt. Just think one thing: how can I be more sharing, effecting change.