'I'm Off My Meds!'
I charge into the LA Press Club at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 11, 2006, find Matt Welch in a natty suit and tie studying silently, jam my tape recorder into his face and bellow into his ear, "I'm off my meds!"
He turns to me and smiles. "Hi Luke."
Matt claims he's seen only two issues. "At the front of the magazine," says Matt, "they have these terrible graphic jokes."
Luke: "A lot of them are racial. Just plain racist."
Matt: "I haven't seen that. It's harder core than I'm able to enjoy in my pornography. But as those jokes intersected with politics, I found them amusing and useful by juxtaposing and occasionally disgusting sexual acts with political issues and personalities of the day, it treated politics with the seriousness and perhaps accuracy that it deserves."
I email journalists I know, beginning with Reason magazine's Editor Nick Gillespie, because he's the most indulgent of my antics:
Nick replies: "Luke, interesting interview (as always). I'm afraid I haven't read Hustler in something like 15 or 20 or more years, so I can't comment on the job Allan MacDonell did with it. He sounded pretty sharp, though I disagree with his admiration for Lewis Lapham."
The other indulgent Editor I know is Rob Eshman of the Jewish Journal. He responds to the same question: "Huh?"
A certain female journalist at a certain ethnic/religious weekly claims she's never read Hustler.
I don't know if I can trust her journalism now.
Jack Shafer of Slate.com Press Box replies:
Why this Chinese wall of silence?
Why can't we have an adult discussion of Hustler magazine in this greedy uptight society?
Welch says he has special glasses to adjust to his oddly-shaped face.
I tell Matt that he looks like Billie Jean King who grew up a block away from Matt in middle class Long Beach.
Adam Parfrey (Feral House) wonders if Matt and Billie were extracted from the womb by the same tongs.
I'd like to get Matt fired from the Times so I won't feel inferior to him anymore.
I use Emmanuelle Richard's phone to call Cathy Seipp but she's taking a bath and won't deign to speak with me.
I'll show her. I lean over and tell a man that Adam was Cathy Seipp's first boyfriend. The man gives me a disgusted look and says that's too much information.
Ben Sullivan notices and appreciates that I've lost 20 pounds (from not taking my lithium).
I tell a leftie that John and Ken at KFI radio have an impact on the electorate because they articulate and give direction to to what were previously unformed emotions. I often listen to the radio or read an article and say, "Yes, that's it!" Someone has crystalized my thinking and given me impetus to do something.
"This set-up is so like Insider the Actor's Studio," says Edina who charms most of the audience.
The conversation is carried on at a high level that makes me feel comparatively dirty. How can I think impure thoughts about girls when Muslims are dying in the streets protesting blasphemous cartoons?
Luke Y. Thompson wears a t-shirt that pictures a man fornicating with a dog.
I tell him I can't set him up on dates because of his proclivity for tattoos, piercings, colored hair and obscene t-shirts.
"I didn't realize that the crowd you hang out with had such lofty standards," says Luke. He notes I also color my hair.
Yeah, but I'm more subtle. My hair looks natural, thick and alive, pulsating with my manliness.
Nathan Nance writes me: "Luke Y. Thompson is my personal hero and fave movie critic. I'm glad to see he garnered a mention from the L.A. Press Club event."
Brian Doherty exceeds my expectations. He takes the least time and makes the best points. Why doesn't Europe get rid of its blasphemy laws, hate laws, etc?
Eddie Tarbash, the whore's best friend, says his mother survived Auschwitz yet he wants to rescue Holocaust-denier David Irving from an Austrian jail where he's incarcerated for the crime of denying that six million European Jews were murdered during WWII.
Tarbash looks like the quintessential Jewish nerd -- he's short with bad eyesight and a paunch. His eyes blink rapidly and his face twitches constantly while on stage. He's hyper-intellectual and hyper-verbal.
Sartorial Splendor award goes to Eddie. Matt gets an honorable mention. Edina's OK. Brian's as rumpled and ratty as you'd expect from someone at that pot-smoking dog-f---ing filthy rag Reason.
A man who runs an organization to turn Iranians secular gives a long disjointed speech at the end (I clap and yell my approval at its conclusion), "which is a marvellous note to end on," says Matt Welch.
"Let such people blog!" I scream when asked my opinion of that last speaker. "When people are that socially inept, that inconsiderate of their audience, that unable to get to the point, let them blog!"
"But would you read their blog?"
I tell Diana of the LA Press Club that they can auction me off for dinner (but not to a cannibal or a homosexual predator).
I badger the COO of the Center For Inquiry-West about his lack of a sex life. What kind of star power does his COO title carry at bars? He says he doesn't go to bars but we suspect we know the answer to my question.
So what's the point of doing something if you don't get Heaven or chicks?
I demand to know why he's not screwing around on his wife (she lives in Illinois). He's an atheist, he has the whole building to himself, he can offer to show girls a bust of Steve Allen, enlargements of his publication's covers, or his etchings of David Hume, yet he's as chaste as a monk.
Tim Rutten (from The Los Angeles Times) replies: