John GottiYou 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?t" />

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 Critics

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 rollingstone.com 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 Stone.

? 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 nationwide."

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 Voice, Aug. 13, 2002

It Wasn't Your Fault, Dave. 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 men's.

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 is.

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 Quote

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 We
Wish Somebody Would Do

www.andysully.com

Signorile Did Not Write This. 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 saying.

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 Crisis

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 Amazon.com 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" Stunt

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 Imitation
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.

Best Blog

The Bazima Chronicles
www.bazima.surreally.com

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 Nerve.com).

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

Michael Wolff
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 Stone 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 Stone, 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 Standard, 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

www.graferspants.com

Trouser Gallery. Somehow connected with the already excellent Metrofanatic.com, the only site worth checking for local fans of the long-neglected New York area Major League Soccer franchise called the MetroStars, Graferspants.com 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 pants.

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 Graferspants.com. 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 therapeutic.

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.

Best Argument in

"What If It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?"
Gary 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





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