Best of Manhattan 2002: Media & Politics

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John Gotti

You Talkin’ to U.S.?
We were traveling in Europe when the King of New York bit it last June. Needless
to say, we weren’t disappointed by the European reaction to his death.
The Europress managed to turn Gotti into an American icon on the level of Elvis
and Marilyn–and the thuggish archetypal counterpart of today’s U.S.
corporate malefactors. Yes, there were the usual tumbling assortments of cultural
cliche and artifact–the Guardian went for The Sopranos and
The Godfather, Le Monde plumped for Scorsese. (Germany’s
Spiegel even mined The Smoking Gun.) Hell, Gotti’s death
was big news in Belgrade’s newspapers and magazines–and that city
teems with a mob violence reminiscent of Chicago in the 1930s. Let’s just
say that the Dapper Don would’ve been proud of the international impact
that he had at the final curtain.

Best Put-Down Of Rock

Michael Corcoran and Robert
Wilonsky Austin American-StatesmanMarch 14, 2002

To Be Read While Hottubbing
with Marilyn Manson.
Poking fun at rock critics is like hand-grenading fish
in a barrel–and it’s so much fun it’s irresistible. Last March,
as hundreds of "rock scribes" descended on Austin, TX, for the SXSW
music festival, the Austin American-Statesman’s Michael Corcoran
and Robert Wilonsky offered an hilarious guide to rock critic foibles with the
hed "‘Yes, you are a groupie’ and 35 more things every rock critic
should know." Among the items on the list:

Writing for
isn’t the same as writing for
Rolling Stone.

But then, these days
writing for
Rolling Stone isn’t the same as writing for Rolling

• Your band stinks.

• Lester Bangs is dead.
What’s your excuse?

• Three…of the most
frightening words ever: "Robert Christgau protege."

• Let’s see if
you can write a concert review without using any of these words: pulsating,
pounding, post-(something).

• Greil Marcus has
earned the right to not make sense. You haven’t.

• Having Courtney Love
hit on you during an interview is as special as a free coffee refill.

• Three things you
know nothing about: dance music, hip-hop and jazz.

• Re: the Strokes.
Make up your mind already.

Best Cartoonist

Ward Sutton

It’s No "Mr.
Wiggles," But…
Not surprisingly, given his print vehicle, Ward Sutton’s
politics are on the same page as faux-populist Michael Moore’s and just
a smidgen to the right of the hysterical Ted Rall’s. But let’s be
fair: Locating an illustrator who doesn’t think George W. Bush is a brain-dead
cowboy is harder than finding a high-school graduate who can name at least 30
of this country’s 50 states.

Sutton was given a full
page in the Voice’s Sept. 11 issue and it was by far the most poignant
piece that tabloid has published in 2002. The "cartoon," headlined
"Visitors," shows a hopeless man on a top floor of the World Trade
Center a year ago asking the question, "Can anyone out there see me? Anyone?"
In quick succession, a number of people appear in the haunting panels.

An amateur photographer
says: "I can see you! I just took a photo and if you look at it closely
you can see that towel that you’re waving. I’m right down there…
On my roof… Still in my pajamas. I can see the whole thing. I’ll show
the photo to people for the rest of my life. It’s an amazing shot."

A soldier: "I can see
you. Your death will motivate me to kill others."

Bruce Springsteen: "I
can see you. Your story will inspire songs that will launch my career comeback."

John Ashcroft: "I can
see you. The fear your fate will induce will allow me to limit civil liberties

An ambulance chaser: "I
can see you. Your worth. And it’s a lot more than the piddly $1.6 million
the government will offer in compensation! Don’t worry. I’ll fight
to get your survivors a sizable, respectable settlement."

And Osama bin Laden: "I
can see you. Right now…on television. I can see you. And I’m laughing."

As we said, Sutton’s
worldview is scripted by the likes of Susan Sontag, but this single page in
the Voice was more valuable than all the mawkish television programming
provided by self-congratulatory, pampered talking heads that fouled the airwaves
on Sept. 11, 2002.

Best Rapist

David Mills, Village
, Aug. 13, 2002

It Wasn’t Your Fault,
David Mills’ Village Voice review of a collection of June
Jordan essays in the Aug. 13 issue was certainly laudatory–until Mills
got carried away with showing his love for the sisterhood:

Jordan’s personal ferocity
and rectitude compel me to doff my critic’s cap and break my own decade-long
silence about a violent act that I committed. A women I loved hurt me with incessant
barbs of "Leos have thicker dicks." She even joked about it as we
made love. I vomited repeatedly, had nightmares about these men. Following an
argument one evening, we fooled around. After I entered here, she asked me to
stop. I didn’t. Jordan’s eponymous essay "Some of Us Did Not
Die" intimates that, because living is not a given, we owe something to
those whose lives have been taken. Jordan succumbed to breast cancer on June
14, 2002, but her words continue to rattle in my psyche. So I offer my admission
as an initial payment on a long overdue debt of silence, both mine and other

Thanks, Dave, but credit
for your sexual assault can stay entirely with you. Jordan might be pleased,
though; after all, she was such an avid apologist for Mike Tyson.

Best Thoroughbred Handicapper

Paul Moran, Newsday

Picking, Then Grinning.
Most of the time, when Paul Moran says the horse can do, he does. Picking winners
at the racetrack is a tough racket, and a good handicapper is like a good baseball
player: hitting three out of 10 counts as remarkably successful. Moran, a handicapper
for Newsday’s horse racing pages, regularly outpicks his colleagues.

Predicting which big fast
animal will make it first around the track is a voodoo craft. Moran makes it
look simple, and seems to have a special knack for tabbing longshots. (We ate
out four nights running, including a trip to Bouley, thanks to a $20 bet that
returned $850 on Moran’s advice.) Plus, his columns in Newsday have
long beat up the mismanagement at OTB and he’s one of the loudest voices
noting that winter racing at Aqueduct is like the four-legged version of the
Mets this year: it stinks and most of the participants are losers. He has off-days
like all horseplayers do, but when Moran is on, put your money where his mouth

Best In-Absentia Conviction

Teddy Kennedy

Ethel’s Nephew Takes
the Fall.
So, on Aug. 29, 2002, 32 years after Sen. Ted Kennedy went AWOL
after driving off a bridge in Massachusetts, leaving a woman to die in the submerged
car, Michael Skakel (Bobby Kennedy’s nephew by marriage) was convicted
of a 1975 murder. Skakel, who was sentenced to 20 years-to-life for killing
teenager Martha Moxley, is now 41 and has led a pathetic life. As a fat, recovering
alcoholic and divorced father, who was in and out of private schools, rehab
clinics and apparently the victim of an abusive father, Skakel didn’t present
a sympathetic defendant to the Connecticut jury.

The evidence in the musty
case was muddled–whether Skakel is really guilty of the crime is a legitimate
question–but the media bloodlust for finally nailing a Kennedy (even if
he isn’t a "real" one) was perfectly clear.

The day before the judge’s
verdict, Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr (usually terrific) couldn’t
contain himself. He wrote: "Judge John Kavanewsky, Michael Skakel’s
life is in your hands today. So give him life. Life in prison… Wipe that smirk
off his smug, dissipated face… For once, we’d all like to see a Kennedy
get what’s coming to him… The Kennedys’ rule is, even if there is
an autopsy, there’s still no foul, at least if it was one of them who killed
or raped ‘some girl,’ as Ted once described his nephew’s [William
Kennedy Smith] AuBar…date, shall we say… [Skakel] killed a female, he’s
a rummy, he’s a druggie, he’s stupid, he struts around in suits he’s
80 pounds too fat to be bearing, he’s never worked a day in his life and
he thinks he’s better than anyone else. All of which makes him, at the
very least, an honorary Kennedy. A Kennedy with an asterisk… Ruin their Labor
Day weekend, Judge. Give the fat murderer life. For once, make the Kennedys
play by the same rules the rest of us do."

The special treatment the
Kennedy family receives after brushes, both minor and major, with the law, is
hardly breaking news. Nor is the hypocrisy shown by Kennedy elected officials
when it comes to women: You can’t find a more vociferous supporter of abortion
rights and sexual harassment suits than Teddy Kennedy, or his son Patrick, but
in their personal lives it’s been documented time and again that they treat
women like dirt.

Convict a Kennedy? Maybe
20 years down the road, when the fourth generation misbehaves, but even as Camelot
crumbles there’s still enough mythology left to spare the family’s
survivors any meaningful justice. But Michael Skakel, a man born to aristocracy
whose life subsequently went to seed, was different. He was expendable, an inoculation
for the next time a "real" Kennedy commits a felony.

Best Dick Gephardt

Presidential Twig.
The GOP can only hope that House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt somehow manages
to capture the Democratic nomination to oppose President Bush in 2004. Even
more than Sen. John Kerry, the Massachusetts aristocrat who believes he’s
communing with "the people" when he drinks a beer straight out of
the bottle, Gephardt is a lost-in-time loser.

As recorded by The New
York Times
on Sept. 15, Gephardt told reporters: "I have strong beliefs,
but I have never known that I was right on everything. In fact, I have never
known that I was right on anything."

Best Website Parody
Wish Somebody Would Do

Signorile Did Not Write
Didn’t you think Hitch’s take on Howie’s interview
about MoDo’s column on Rummy was fabulous? Who has a more masculine jawline,
me or the Mickster? Does my facial hair make me look fat? Yay Dubya! Whoo-hoo,
Condi! Didn’t you love Pod’s editorial about Dick and Kenny and goo-goo
gaa-gaa ooga booga la la la blah blah blah…

Best Bushism

Now Am I in Arden. More
Fool…Some Guy or Other…
Whatever you think of our current president,
or his policies or his leadership, you have got to admit he’s the
very worst extemporaneous speaker to bumble around in the White House since
at least Gerald Ford, if not Ulysses S. Grant. The guy just can’t talk
too good, on or off the cue cards. His apparently total inarticulateness doesn’t
necessarily make him an idiot, as liberals universally insist–but he sure
does sound like one. Between the malapropisms and the simply bizarre facial
tics–he makes the weirdest faces since LBJ, and, like LBJ’s terrifying
grins and grimaces, they often seem to be completely disconnected from what
he’s saying–the guy is painful to watch.

Maybe it’s intentional.
Most politicians really don’t want us to listen very closely to what they’re

Anyway, of all the celebrated
"Bushisms" Our Leader blurted out this year, probably our favorite
was the one uttered in Nashville just this past Sept. 17 and instantly spread
around the world:

"There’s an old
saying Tennessee–I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee–that
says, fool me once, shame on [pause]–shame on you. Fool me [painfully long
pause]–you can’t get fooled again."

Oh yes we can. We prove
it every four years.

Best Public Identity

Stephen Schwartz

A Boy Named Suleyman.
Neocon Weekly Standard writer Stephen Schwartz first popped into
wider public view during NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia, spouting a virulently
anti-Serb line and scribbling about his conversion to the Sufi branch of Islam
as a result of his Balkan travels. (Schwartz’s confession of faith, written
under the name "Suleyman Ahmad Stephen Schwartz," can be found easily
on the Internet.)

After 9/11, Schwartz was
out in front of the "Saudi Arabia is the enemy" camp, railing in print
about the dangers of Wahabbism–but not exactly advertising his own Muslim
faith as he did so. Schwartz’s inflamed opinions on this topic even copped
a mention from New York Times columnist William Safire. In a July column,
Safire argued that Schwartz was canned from a job at the Voice of America in
part because of his fierce anti-Saudi punditry. The piece also prompted Slate
to out Schwartz as a Sufi Muslim, with columnist Timothy Noah dubbing Schwartz
as "the Weekly Standard’s House Muslim."

In a reply to Noah’s
queries, Schwartz confirmed his Sufi faith and proclaimed his belief "in
the ultimate unity of the Abrahamic faiths." When it comes to publicizing
Schwartz’s forthcoming Doubleday book, The Two Faces of Islam, however,
the Abrahamic faiths are unifying faster than anyone expected. Not only is the
author’s Muslim background left unmentioned in the book description,
but Schwartz is described as "a Jewish historian" who "has devoted
years to the study of Islam." His Amazon bio also prominently foregrounds
his work "as a reporter for the Weekly Forward"–and still
has him at that VOA job. Another conversion that we haven’t heard about
yet–or just an out-of-date bio?

Best Hypocritical
Response to an "Outrage"

The "Opie & Anthony"

No, You Should
be Ashamed.
This past August, Catholic groups were in a frenzy after a Virginia
couple was caught having sex in St. Patrick’s Cathedral as a stunt for
WNEW’s "Opie & Anthony" show. The couple (as we’re all
well aware) snuck into a side vestibule with one of the show’s producers,
who broadcast the event live during the popular afternoon program.

Opie and Anthony had broadcast
similar stunts before, but never in St. Patrick’s.

Well, the Catholics went
nuts, quickly organizing a phone and e-mail campaign demanding that the FCC
revoke WNEW’s license. The show went on hiatus, Opie, Anthony and two station
executives were canned. Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the courthouse
to jeer the couple as they left their first hearing on public lewdness charges.

In the midst of it all,
a friend of ours brought up a very good point: Why weren’t these same people
in Boston, or New Mexico, or California, or here, or any of the dozen other
places where hundreds of priests were being charged with molesting thousands
of young boys (often on church property)? Why weren’t they "outraged"
about that? Was it just because there was a woman involved?

The blatant hypocrisy in
this snit about a silly radio show, though not surprising, is still mind-numbing.

Best Edward R. Murrow
by a Baseball Broadcaster

Michael Kay of the YES Network

Glopping the Paint on
the Word-Picture.
Word on the baseball broadcast front is there’s nothing
worse than a radio man who has switched permanently to television. His attention
to detail will inevitably hamstring his on-air performance in which the viewers
can see the action and therefore do not need the line, "Rondell White looks
up, has it in his sights and backs to the track. He settles under it and makes
the catch, firing to Derek Jeter at short who holds the runner at second base…"
Oh, this is the Braille version of the Yankee game for cable viewers fortunate
enough to have George Steinbrenner’s boutique network coming in on the
idiot box? Kay should just retire and do his thorny Charlie Rose imitation on
the embarrassing Centerstage for the rest of his career, then–when
Kay finally retires from broadcasting–maybe he could be employed as a busboy
at Joe Franklin’s restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen. Joe would certainly
treat him well.


The Bazima Chronicles

Doin’ It in the
Name of Social Science.
The Bazima Chronicles comprises the about-thrice-weekly
Web entries of a single Brooklyn woman who conducts her active sex life with
a half-opened eye toward fulfillment of the monogamous kind, i.e., a boyfriend
who meets her standards. Sound like every Sex and the City episode ever
aired? You betcha. Only this is nonfiction and noncommercial. And to the extent
that it covers sex and relationships in these times, better than a lot of what
we’ve seen in print lately (and definitely more titillating than the stuff
that shows up on the likes of

As much as it hurts, a nod
should probably be given to the medium itself. Lacking the need to manipulate
her essays so that they conform to some bankable single-clause aperçu
(read: contrived bullshit theory), the author is free to simply tell her story,
modulating in intensity as reality dictates, offering up insight at her own
pace. However, for any of that to work, the goods’ve gotta be there. They
are. In evocative, self-effacing and often gut-bustingly funny detail. And Bazima
makes it easy on us too. Wanna cut through the fluff and get straight to the
muff? She provides a sub-index entitled "Selected Hayrolls" that chronicles
recent dates that’ve gone the distance.

What we know about the author
of the Bazima Chronicles is that she is black and Jewish and, as she puts it,
"in love with boys, sex and the good rock music." It was around February
when a friend with a weblog first tipped us to her. We didn’t pay much
attention at the time, feeling that too much of blogging is just solipsism without
the payoff. We were also turned off by what appears to be a tendency on the
part of Web diarists to anguish over the topsy-turvy mess that their blogger
lifestyles have made of the rest of their world. "Monday, June 5th: I guess
I just never realized that naming names and posting the sordid details of my
personal life online would create so much awkwardness and tension with my best
friend Suzy and Mom and Frank Smith, the premature ejaculator I’m dating…"
Disingenuous or stupid: pick one. Thankfully, Bazima knows all this and is unapologetic
when it comes to what and about whom she writes. Be it a disaster date, mediocre
one-night stand or that once-in-a-blue fantasy coupling, she gives good story.
For that, we follow her like a soap.

Best Bullshit Slogan

"Free Trade Is an Oxymoron"

Free English Lesson.
The idiots who printed up this sticker and plastered it all over downtown
are dumber than your average sloganeering cretins. Even those know not to use
a slogan that invites an easy, accurate comeback. In this case: "No, it’s
not." The "free" in "free trade" means "unencumbered"
and that’s all there is to it. The idiots meant to say, "Free Trade
Is Expensive," which would have been debatable, thus potentially thought-provoking.
We suspect they didn’t know what "oxymoron" actually means, and
only used the word because the "moron" in it makes it sound like an
insult. What morons.

Best Wrong 9/11/02 Prediction

New York Magazine

Stick to the AOL Debacle.
There’s little to recommend in New York these days, as the
media recession has forced lightweight editor Caroline Miller to cut back on
copy to compensate for a downturn in advertising. Fair enough, that’s a
problem every editor’s had for the past 18 months. But Miller’s priorities–keep
the fashion, home decor and Best NYC Doctors specials, gut the political commentary–are
tilted to the innocuous writing that some readers used to ignore in favor of
the more substantive material. For example, it’s an election year in New
York, yet the magazine’s excellent columnist Michael Tomasky appears infrequently.
Surely Miller could sacrifice one page of high-end real estate transactions
to accommodate Tomasky’s analysis of the gubernatorial contest.

But we digress. Michael
Wolff, the infuriating but entertaining "This Media Life" columnist,
maintains an almost-weekly schedule. He’s ardently anti-Bush–even
claiming the President was hitting the bottle last year–but was ahead of
the curve on the administration’s plans for Iraq, giving it credit for
superb media manipulation. Weeks before Bush’s address to the UN, which
mollified those who called the President a unilateralist cowboy and accused
him of "dithering," Wolff anticipated exactly how the White House
would hog the headlines this fall.

He wrote: "Someone
has likely deduced that the prospect of war–whether or not we actually
end up going to war–is a beautiful backdrop for the president… What’s
more, it’s all about him. He’s the center of the drama. He’s
the man. And the suspense only increases that focus on him. He has the ability
and, we have been led to believe, the will to exercise the power (with Clinton,
we would have doubted his will). Therefore, he becomes the power. The
greatest power, arguably, that history has ever known resides in him. Debate
is fine, but in the end, as the White House keeps saying with quite a leap of
logic, it’s decision."

But for such a reputedly
media-savvy guy, Wolff really blew it last June when he suggested the first
anniversary of Sept. 11 would arouse anger in Americans and not the orgy of
tv exploitation and tremendous national unity.

Wolff predicted: "But
by death’s first anniversary, we often tend to be in something less than
a commemorative or reflective mood. We’re querulous. We’re finally
getting pissed off. We feel guilty ourselves [We do?]. The symbols are
tired by now (the flag in my apartment-building lobby is certainly grimy–we’re
all just waiting for someone to step up and take it down). We want closure,
and it ain’t there. We’ve been good sports for a whole year. But now
it’s time to stick it to someone."

Wolff’s apartment flag
might be "grimy," but just a few weeks ago, on Sept. 11, citizens
weren’t "querulous" at all, and Wal-Mart no doubt rang up huge
sales for another batch of fresh American flags.

Best Gay Paper

The New York Sun

"This Embargo Debate
Is Just Scrumptious!"
Different conservatives certainly had different
expectations for the debut of New York City’s daily right-wing paper. Still,
it’s kind of a surprise to see that the Sun is, in fact, a fine
celebration of gay life in New York. This is partly reflected in the paper’s
front-page headlines, which often examine obscure issues that only affect a
certain kind of man who spends a lot of time in the Hamptons–and, you know,
a select few other social scenes.

There’s also good reason
that "Daily Candy" is featured regularly in the paper. Given the Sun’s
general tone, there’s no reason to think that a rave for facial scrubs
is targeted just for women readers. Meanwhile, Gary Shapiro’s column is
easily the most breathless nightlife report among all the dailies. His tone
is matched by the paper’s mad love for camp. If the Sun is culturally
elitist, then so is your pet groomer who collects terrycloth portraits of Jesus.

The Aug. 27 issue even mentioned
"the Strokes’ revival of the 1970s CBGB scene." Any NYC editor
who’d let that sentence get by obviously spent the 70s boogy-oogy-oogying
at Studio 54.

Best Unconditional Surrender

Jann Wenner

Will You Still Need Me
When I’m 64?
No. In fact, the only people who’ve needed
Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner since he was 34 are the small
circle of entertainment and political celebrities that he uses the magazine’s
pages to mythologize. Who can forget–although we’d like to–the
way Wenner claimed a vote for Bill Clinton in 1992 was an affirmation of baby
boomer culture? Or when he interviewed Clinton at the White House in ’93
and his first question was, "Are you having fun?" Or the countless
times Wenner’s put the mug of friends Michael Douglas, Tom Cruise or Mick
Jagger on RS’s cover? Or his five-star review of Jagger’s last
album, a work so universally panned that Wenner had to hunt ’n’ peck
the piece himself?

Those are the indulgences,
of course, of a magazine owner who, until recently, minted money every two weeks.
Wenner became so besotted with the friendship of those he lusted after as a
precocious publisher in 1967 that he let a once-classic magazine go to seed.
In 1985, Bob Guccione Jr. first pointed out Wenner’s vulnerabilities with
his ground-breaking, next-generation Spin; but when the Gooch cashed
out his monthly it quickly went the way of Details, a mishmash of dumbed-down,
unreadable crap.

It took the brilliant entrepreneur
Felix Dennis to bring Wenner to his knees. Dennis, the muscle behind the awful
but popular monthlies Maxim and Stuff, last year introduced Blender,
a dopey music pub that made no bones about directly competing with the ossified
Rolling Stone.

And what was Wenner’s
reaction? Like the French in 1940, he bent over, then hired Ed Needham, an editor
from FHM, another beer ’n’ babes semi-stroke book, and all
but admitted that he no longer had any idea how, or desire, to make his magazine
relevant. So the "new" Rolling Stone’s first issue had
the Vines (an exhausted topic) on its cover and a vastly expanded section of
CD reviews, a direct cop from Blender.

It didn’t have to be
this way. Wenner’s only in his 50s, and despite the comforts of his wealth,
stately homes and ex-model boyfriend, he could’ve taken off the cufflinks,
rolled up his sleeves and summoned some of the vision that made Rolling Stone
the most important cultural publication of the late 60s and early 70s. Just
as Tina Brown and David Remnick each revitalized The New Yorker, Wenner
might’ve shocked the incestuous publishing world and reinvented Rolling
by hiring a smart young editor with his or her pulse on both the entertainment
and political spheres. He might’ve said to critics, "We’ll still
publish long, investigative articles, but this time around the authors won’t
be washed-up hacks with nothing to say."

It wasn’t to be. Instead,
an out-of-touch Wenner, apparently more fascinated by his dreadful celebrity-worship
magazine US, ceded the rock ’n’ roll category to Dennis. Which
doesn’t mean that Jann won’t be hanging out with Mick, Yoko and Hillary
Clinton anymore, just that he doesn’t give a shit about the legacy of Rolling
, his lifetime achievement.

In the Oct. 3 issue of RS,
Needham wrote an embarrassing "Letter from the Editor" that further
soiled the magazine’s reputation. He said: "We have added more color
and excitement to the Rock & Roll section to enhance it as a dynamic source
of music news. We have added more pages and sections to the ‘back of the
book,’ to make the world’s most authoritative music-review section
even more comprehensive. And we have changed some of our formats to reflect
the vitality that you deserve from a twenty-first century magazine… These
improvements are part of that commitment [to the ‘profound importance’
of music in readers’ lives]. I hope you like them."

A generation ago, that last
sentence would’ve read: "And if you don’t like them, fuck you."

Best Upcoming Curiosity

The American Conservative

Lay Off Taki. Although
we find Pat Buchanan vastly entertaining, his protectionist, anti-immigration,
anti-Semitic views make him a more likely bit character in a remake of Pleasantville
than the frontman of a new conservative biweekly. The American Conservative,
bankrolled by our friend Taki and edited by another New York Press alumnus,
the brainy Scott McConnell, is scheduled to debut in late September with a modest
12,000 circulation (which is minuscule even by the low expectations of other
political magazines).

We hope Buchanan leaves
most of the editing and choice of stories to McConnell; otherwise the potentially
interesting publication will become an instant Beltway joke. David Carr, in
a Sept. 9 New York Times article, wrote: "Mr. Buchanan sees
[competitors such as The Weekly Standard and National Review]
as practitioners of neoconservatism, which he believes is a corruption of conservative
values. With his current jeremiads against adventurism in Iraq–isolationism
is a fundamental tenet of Buchananism–and his protectionist bent toward
the American worker, he has more in common with the left in the current debate
over where the country is headed.

"‘Where are the
conservatives who are against the war?’ he says. ‘Kristol, Podhoretz,
Will and Bennett–they’re all hot for war and can’t wait to get
started.’ He referred to the conservative commentators William Kristol,
Norman Podhoretz, George F. Will, and William Bennett."

Goodness gracious. One wonders,
if Buchanan has such objections to the aforementioned, just where is his readership
going to come from. And on the subject of Iraq, what would it take for the Buke
to realize the real threat that Saddam Hussein poses to the civilized world?
Maybe a nuke in downtown Tel Aviv?

Oops, wrong question.

We do take issue with Bill
Kristol’s snide assessment of Taki, a terrific writer whose mixture of
levity, self-deprecation and descriptions of his jetset life are an asset to
any publication. Kristol told Carr: "I’m all for another magazine,
but I think the inclusion of Taki, who is a pretty loathsome character, will
hurt their credibility."

Kristol’s Weekly
, an excellent journal that nonetheless publishes wishy-washy stiffs
like David Brooks, could do with a writer of Taki’s caliber, if only to
leaven its heavy concentration on DC. Besides, Taki’s "High Life"
column in London’s Spectator hasn’t hurt that profitable publication;
in fact, it’s one of the weekly’s most popular features.

What are The American
Conservative’s chances of survival in an already-glutted political
market? Who knows. It’s not as easy to handicap as was the preordained
demise of Tina Brown’s horrendous Talk. But if Buchanan actually
writes frequently for the magazine, and sets the agenda instead of the more
measured McConnell, we’d say there’s trouble on the horizon.

Best Sports Website
Serving the
Silent Majority Of Soccer Fans

Trouser Gallery.
Somehow connected with the already excellent, the only site
worth checking for local fans of the long-neglected New York area Major League
Soccer franchise called the MetroStars, is what the nerds at
Stanford and Michigan and Illinois intended way back when when they invented
the Internet. See, there is nothing more obscure than being a backup goalkeeper
in the MLS, and that is just what Port Washington-native Paul Grafer was, the
back-up goalkeeper for the MetroStars. This site defines the man, who is well-coiffed
and actually looks like he could be a sommelier at Vong or somewhere that used
to be trendy. When Grafer first appeared on the scene, the vocal members of
the Empire Supporters Club–the Anglophile rowdies who stand behind the
Metros’ home goal–noted his rather unnecessary penchant for long black

This site has all
the details about said garment, which apparently was pilfered and has traveled
to the far corners of the Earth, as documented by actual photos on
At presstime, Grafer, who now wears the standard short pants, was pressed into
service to help the Metros avoid becoming one of the two teams in the
10-team MLS that did not qualify for the "playoffs." So if the Metros
do make it to the postseason, it will be by the seat of Paul Grafer’s
pants, and may God and former Metro joke Kerry Zavagnin bless us all.

Best Excuse
to Dynamite
The British Press

The Observer’s
9/11 Satire Issue

Was the Blitz This Hilarious?
Oh, that dry British humor. It’s so droll, so hysterically funny, especially
when it takes the 9/11 massacres as its subject. The Observer of London’s
"Absolute Atrocity Special"–an alleged "satire" of
the terrorist attacks published last March titled "Six Months That Changed
a Year"–might be the most vulgar, vicious and stupid parade of garbage
we’ve seen this year.

"Figures show that
even as the second tower fell, people were switching off their televisions,
complaining they’d seen it all before," quip Britwits Armando Iannuci
and Chris Morris–the comic geniuses behind this appalling project. Much
of this atrocity "hilarity" is predictably banal: the Bush-as-moron
jokes. The Christopher Hitchens drinking jokes. And yet, some flashes of perverse
nastiness stick in the mind. Take this representative entry: "New figures
reveal that the number of people who perished in the attacks on 11 September
may be as low as three. Counsellors are on standby to help New Yorkers deal
with the trauma of being more upset than they needed to be. Pressure mounts
on Mayor Giuliani–already criticised for his insistence that Ground Zero
be kept shrouded in smoke–after the dust cleared briefly last week to reveal
that the South Tower was still standing. Psychologists say original estimates
of 6,000 were probably much larger due to ‘all kinds of shit.’"

Yes, indeed. The sound of
shrill mocking laughter about mass murder from across the pond is remarkably

Best Crybaby

Matt Drudge

Get Out of the Kitchen.
We weren’t very shocked when Internet gossip Matt Drudge–known primarily
in media circles for breaking the Lewinsky stained-Gap-dress story and endlessly
lambasting the Clintons–delinked this paper, and columnist Taki, from his
highly trafficked Drudge Report, his readership be damned. This summer, New
York Press
columnist Michelangelo Signorile penned a column with a lede
that called Drudge a "nasty faggot." Apparently, Drudge–whose
entire career is built on taking down the Fourth Estate with salacious gossip
and embarrassing the elite by publicizing their sexual peccadilloes on his site–can’t
take the heat. Well. Cry us a fucking river, Matt. As for still refusing to
link to our site, we say: Grow up and get over it.

Argument in

"What If It’s
All Been a Big Fat Lie?"
Taubes, July 7, 2002

Fat Scoop. Gary Taubes’
"What If It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie?" was the Sunday Magazine
cover story. It was about how medical research seems to be confirming the theory
behind Dr. Atkins’ low-carbohydrate diet, and it had a big influence on
a lot of New Yorkers. That’s nothing special. Thousands of New Yorkers
don’t for a second doubt anything the Times reports, and don’t
believe anything is important until the supercilious paper runs a story on it.
What made "What If It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie?" stand out was
the way it presented its case without employing readers’ assumed biases,
or using a high tone to mow down unmentione