Monday, November 20, 2006

Penny press! Manly mags!

Our foray today into the he-manly latest issues of GQ and Esquire begins deep in the bi-valved heart of amiguity (or DOES it?), which is troublesome to those of us trained to think of ambiguity as the Eigth Deadly Sin.

Virtually every interesting article in the latest GQ (it's the 'Men of the Year' issue, with variant covers featuring a happy-looking Will Ferrell, a freakishly young-looking Leonardo DiCaprio, and a dour young man rather oddly named Jay-Z) is fraught with ambiguity - if not in its conception then certainly in its re-ception.

Take, for instance, Kevin Conley's article "A Few Good Medals," about some of the various high-valor decorations given to some of the men who served (or are still serving) in Iraq.

The strongest thing about Conley's piece is its descriptions of the various battles during which these men earned their commendations - you feel like you're there, in the dust and confusion.

And stories! The things these men not only lived through surmounted - well, even in these jaded times, it's the stuff of pure heroism.

Or is it? Take the story of Staff Sargeant Jerry Wolford, who earned a Silver Star in the Shiite town of Samawah. In 2003 Wolford was leading a platoon toward a bridge over the Euphrates when they spotted Iraqi Regulars on the other side. Wolford and his men opened fire, killing the men. So far, no ambiguity - in war, it's kill or be killed when you confront the enemy in plain sight.

Then comes this part:

"Everything happened quickly after that. Iraqi Regulars hidden in houses along the river started firing back, surprising a team of engineers who'd gotten ahead of the battalion. Wolford ran over to the spot were they'd hunkered down."

The article goes on to describe the fighting and heroism by which Wolford won his decoration, but we here at Stevereads stopped at that bit about Iraqi Regulars popping out of every house in the neighborhood. Regulars hidden with the knowledge and the help of the locals - in other words, an organized, locally-supported militia fighting well-armed and well-financed invaders sent by the world's foremost superpower.

We've debated the pros and cons of American military adventurism here in the past (well, Sam and I have - the rest of you being either too timid or too ill-informed to step up and join us ... or too lazy, let's not leave THAT one out) - and I'm sure we will again - but nevertheless: there's a deep current of ambiguity running underneath awarding a guy a medal for being the ruthless invader of a country that never did America the nation any harm. Nothing negates the valor of the specific battle - but there's a whole LOT of ambiguity informing whether or not that battle should ever have taken place.

(In case any of you are reading this in connection with my previous screed on properly-run military occupations, I'll share with you the results of a Google-search this morning: the town of Samawah still exists. It still has houses, roads, and inhabitants. The inhabitants are still considered to have rights, under the American occupation. If you're wondering how any of that differs from how a real military occupation would react to armed soldiers pouring out of civlian homes, just add a 'not' before each of those particulars)

Even when we move from international to domestic, the ambiguity remains. Take, for example, Lisa DePaulo's short, stupid interview with Al Gore (the short-form idiocy of the format is a stinging critique of what the powers that be at GQ consider the attention-span of their target audience).

Even through the haze of DiPaulo's (probably mandated) stupid questions, there blazes forth that curious 2006 phenomenon of The Other Al Gore.

I'm sure you're all familiar with the phenomenon. In conjunction with the gratifying success of 'An Inconvenient Truth' (the book and the movie), we've all seen him: The Other Al Gore, the smart, articulate guy who's not worried about clowning around in interviews, who's not only brainiac-style well-informed on a huge variety of subjects but who's openly passionate about a lot of them, who wants to teach about them, to change minds about them.

You know, the guy you'd have voted for in a heartbeat if he'd run for president in 2000. But instead, Al Gore ran, and The Other Al Gore stayed at home, and we got a president who speaks proudly about the fact that he doesn't even read the newspaper.

The Other Al Gore is exclamation-point excited about reprising his role as a disembodied head (even more likeable: he's actually unself-consciously dorky enough to USE the phrase 'reprising my role' when talking about a feckin disembodied head) on 'Futurama. He effortlessly mentions that Janis Joplin's great song 'Me and Bobby McGee' is in fact Kris Kristofferson's great song. He quotes from the Onion and makes iTunes mixes for the wife he's obviously still goo-gah in love with. He's sarcastic about President Bush but still respectful of the office.

So where, you ask, does the ambiguity come in?

Gore says it best himself, when commenting on the different perception people have of the Two Gores - the 'Inconvenient Truth' guy v.s. the campaign guy:

"I think one part of it is that in a campaign, there is an adversarial context. Your opposition is constantly painting negative caricatures."

Yes, they are. That's big-stakes politics, alas (although a bright young intern here at Stevereads points out that Massachusetts just elected its very first Black governor, who ran a landslide campaign WITHOUT resorting to slash-and-burn negative ads ... apparently, he even went so far as to tell his vicious Republican rival that she was better than the campaign she ran, which sounds almost Jed Bartlett in its high-mindedness ... ah, Boston! Someday, we'll get there!). And that's the ambiguous part!

Enough already with the 'I'm absolutely positively NOT running ... unless I run' line-dancing! Just in this one-page softball interview, Gore dances around the question twice, saying "Well, I don't plan to run. I don't plan to run. And I don't expect to run." But when asked if he's not ruling it out says "Uh ... no."

Think about what Karl Rove will do with this kind of Cinderella-to-the-ball coquettery. What possible reason can there be for this kind of theatrical hesitation, unless it's the very LAST thing the American voting public wants to hear: that Gore is AFRAID to declare until he's more sure of how the political winds will blow? This isn't a seminar on how distasteful he finds the mechanisms of presidential elections (although if the news from Boston is correct, there's already a successful blueprint in place for changing those mechanisms in the minds and hearts of the voters), it's a question of whether or not Gore feel CALLED ON. This epic-level hesitation hurts him whichever way the coin lands - either it's genuine and it's hugely distracting to his party, or it's poll-driven and, when characterized (or worse, revealed) as such, will hugely hurt his run.

The country's midterm elections already demonstrated that the living are trying to take back the government from the undead. Al Gore - especially The Other Al Gore - needs to either carry the standard or get out of the way. Until then, ambiguity reigns!

And then there's Devin Friedman's profile of Richard Ford, where the ambiguity arises mainly out of the fact that we here at Stevereads didn't particularly care for Ford's new book, "The Lay of the Land" but we kinda LIKE the guy who emerges from Friedman's beautifully-written piece. You have to like somebody who can say the quote that starts this off:

"'An airplane is forty tons of aluminum culvert, pressure-packed with highly volatile and unstable accelerants, entering a sky chock-full of other similar contraptions, piloted by guys with C averages from Purdue ... so it's stupid not to think it will seek its rightful home on earth at the first opportunity. Therefore today must be a good day to die.' If that's happiness, I guess you'd call it an ADULT happiness. And lots of people never have a go at it and wouldn't want to, because to them it doesn't look like happiness at all."

I like the quote (and needless to say, I agree with the concept of ADULT happiness - it's much rarer than the pabulum most people accept, but oh, it's so much sweeter), but I didn't like the book .... hence, more ambiguity...

But hands down, the NADIR of this issue's ambiguity centers on Tom Carson's review of Emilio Estevez' movie 'Bobby.' I've read the piece six times now, and I have NO IDEA WHATSOEVER whether or not Carson LIKED the movie. And it's not just me, I'll bet: my friend Locke is as smart, funny, and shrewd movie reviewer as ever strapped on a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, and I defy even HIM to make sense of this hyperventilating ARIA of fence-sitting.

"Even though Estevez's labor of love isn't a good movie by any stretch of the imagination, I can think of worse tributes to Robert Kennedy."

"The script is a ring-around-the-rosary of cliches; there isn't one observation that seems to have grown out of lived experience."

"So sue me if I came out thinking naivete as ardent as Estevez's has its appeal. Sure, Oliver Stone can run rings around Estevez as a filmmaker, but give him fifty years and he wouldn't come up with a concept this purely touching."

"The movie is so oblivious to its own absurdities that watching all this schlock get wheeled out in good faith is kind of bewitching."

"Only a clod could dish it up with this kind of conviction, so let's give Estevez's ingenuous zeal its due. If his movie were any better, it wouldn't be nearly as expressive, and I'm not trying to be insulting."

Whew! Glad to know he's not trying to be insulting! Wish to Gawd I knew what he WAS trying to be, but I guess we'll just have to see the movie to tell!

(On a far more satisfying note, Carson is marvellously non-ambiguous in his sideline review of the UK-made 'Death of a President.' He calls it a 'repulsive piece of drivel' and makes a telling point: 'but then, these lucky Brits have no idea of what living through a real political assassination is like. Our history is a little different. You can't help wondering whether it's ever occurred to D.O.A.P.'s director, one Gabriel Range, that if American critics ended their reviews by urging the public to beat the shit out of him on sight, he wouldn't have a leg to stand on.')

Fortunately, there's no a scrap of ambiguity about the latest Esquire, because the entire issue is in this case merely the delivery device for one piece, one amazing, absolutely flooring piece.

Of course I'm referring to John Ridley's ground-scorching essay "The Manifesto of Ascendancy for the Modern American Nigger."

No amount of quoting will relieve any of you of your responsibility - you have to read this essay. It's smart, guardedly optimistic, and above all incandescently angry. It's easily the best essay I've read this year, and I'd be exceedingly interested in knowing what-all the rest of you make of it.


Jeff E. said...

Here is a link to the article that Steve said we're all supposed to read. I don't know how long Esquire will keep it posted for free, so get it while it's hot.

The Manifesto of Ascendancy for the Modern American Nigger

Sam Sacks said...

Arrgh, it's painful to think of all the OTHER (insert name of politician), the men and women (but mostly men) who've let their personalities and passions and intelligence, both instinctual and hard-earned, spiral down the toilet in order to appear more palatable to a voting public. It's always struck me as a bizarre conundrum: unless you're born into a dynasty, generally speaking you can't rise to national prominence, you can't dazzle in the Senate or the Governor's office, much less the State Senate, unless you're smart and charismatic and driven. All of those are appealing traits in a person, even if you disagree with a person's politics. And yet every person who has successfully risen to such heights as to run for president seems vile, affected, empty, formulating, and grotesquely self-interested. Whence comes the switch?

I am, I confess, a bandwagon devotee of Obama Barack. I've never before been actually excited by a politician (Maybe Clinton in '92, but I was only 12) and I'm probably a credulous audience because I would really like to be so before a toolshed nuke incinerates the East Coast. Barack, so far, seems to me to have rocket-launched to become a genuine contender purely on the basis of his superlative character traits - his intelligence, his passion, his industry, his humor, his ambition. The things most politicians must certainly possess to greater or lesser degrees, but become AFRAID of relying on.

But just tonight I watched a speech Barack gave concerning the Iraq war, and it was awful, the same gummy, otiose promises, nothing more than rearranging to current losing hand, lots of blandishments and proper statements. (And improper statements! In a litany of war woes, he stated that the war has now lasted longer than World War II. This war began in 2002. Did he mis-speak? Did he mean just US involvement? I mean, Christ, don't tell me he's already succumbed to distortionism.)

This might be because there is nothing to say about the war, except the unsayable, that we should get out now, leaving the country to chaos, as opposed to getting out in four years to leave the country to chaos. Even so...

Am I mistaken in feeling something good about Barack? Has there ever been a politician who won without needing to convert to his hideous woodblock OTHER?

Sam Sacks said...

Ha! I'm such a fucking devotee I get his name backwards! Sigh...Maybe I was confusing him for his other

Jeff E. said...

I really hear you about the disparity between campaigning and governing. My political soul was crushed the day the supreme court handed the win to Bush, not because we were handed a president who was proud that he didn't read newspapers (after all, no one knew then how bad he would get; I expected his father would run the show in the background w/Cheney and things would be more or less like they were under Bush 41), my political soul died that day because where other people saw the Al Gore of the campaign I saw The Other Al Gore. I never thought it was far-fetched that Al Gore could go down as one of the greatest presidents in American history. I knew he couldn't campaign for shit, but man do I think he could have run the country. Energy alternatives, healthcare solutions, fiscal responsibility, accountability, support for science, foreign relations. The point isn't just that those things would have been better under Gore than under W. It's that Gore had the capacity to actually lead with vision in each of those areas.

The most galling thing is that I know people who insist to this day that he was simply "unelectable", utterly disregarding the fact that he actually beat Bush in the popular vote. But all this talk of him running again is moot anyway. Hillary, the one Democrat with absolutely zero chance of winning (a godless, outspoken, powerful, ambitious woman? we're still talking about America here, right?), will get the Democratic nomination because she can raise money. Then she'll lose to a moderate republican like McCain or Guliani.

Anonymous said...


Sam Sacks said...

Geez, that Ridley piece was good. Of the many very true things written, I definitely agree with his sympathetic angle of the policeman in the Cincinnati shooting. (And I love the litany of the other men involved in shootings, with the "Give a yo to..." and "Can I get a what's up for..." introductions.) Police racism is surely a real problem, but when a person resists arrest and runs away from a cop, runs into a dark alley no less, race is completely irrelevent to whatever happens next. If you resist arrest and run away and make a motion to your pocket you're going to get shot whatever the color of your skin is.

Jeff E. said...

I read "The Manifesto of Ascendancy for the Modern American Nigger" and found it extremely thought provoking. Lots of good ideas, but some very bad ones. The main issue I have with the author is his trumping of race over ethics.

His desire to not see Condi and Powell as Uncle Toms, he ignores that fact that they are turncoats of a much greater kind: they stabbed the Constitution, and consequently all Americans, in the back. They are Uncle Toms of humanity, irrespective of the color of their skin and any allegiances that may imply.

I don't like the author's bald declaration that "all that matters is accomplishment." Again the issue of ethics is utterly missing. What if I held up Donald Trump and Dick Cheney as high-water marks of economic and political influence for whites, and suggested that these were the paragons that white children should aim to match? Bad idea, it seems to me.

While the 11 days he refers to may well be the high-water mark for black influence in politics, it's a shame that the folks he elevates happen to be morally empty. They make a poor battle standard.

Sam Sacks said...

Well said, Jeff. "Sister" Ayn Rand is evidently one of the philosophical touchstones of the attitude he is espousing, and it's hard to think of Rand and her pretentious, cult-like Objectivism as anything but detestable.

Except to the extent that it's correct! Egalitarian, judeo-christian ethics aren't likely to gain you any power if you're born in a ghetto. (And Ridley is calling for advancement via powerful intellect, not, like every rap artist does, through becoming a crime lord or gigolo.) And ethics aren't likey to get your children and grand-children from being born in the same place. And if I belonged to a race that was constantly getting the shitty end of the stick I would probably care more about the advancement of my race up the stick than about universal ethics.

Besides, although Colin Powell finished his political life ignominiously, and will have his name forever tarnished for that (and rightly so), I don't think you can honestly call him morally empty. Likewise Condi: how do we know she won't be the one to eventually broker peace between Israel and Palestine? She's got the brains and the will for it, and she clearly wants it to happen.

Jeff E. said...

I should have recognized the Ayn Rand in John Ridley. Good catch.

I'm sure both people are more complex than "morally empty" allows for, although I personally believe that when Chevron names a supertanker after you it's a sure sign you're going to Hell.

Seriously though, I'm not so confident that the objectivism espoused here is correct. It may work on the individual level, but I don't see how it works on a communal level.

Ambitious Condoleezza claws her way to the top as a republican. Let's call that objectively "good". Once on top, she sustains and tacitly supports Republican disenfranchisement of the minority electorate, and materially supports the widening of the gap between the rich and the poor. Now, how in the world is that "good" for any black people besides her? Even if, as Ridley seems to be saying, the point is that she's paving the way for others as role model, her screwed up ethics has just made it much harder for anyone to actually emulate her.

locke said...

Jeff, you mentioned "objectivism" and "communal" in the same sentence. I believe that distant "pop" you heard was Ayn Rand's pointy little head exploding way down in whatever depths of Hell she's tucked away in for Eternity.

Jeff E. said...

Ha! No kidding! But do you think I'm right that this is what Ridley is trying to say? That, if objectivism was adopted by the back community, they would all soar together to the pinnacles of power like Condi and Powell? It seems crazy (big surprise) when people like Condi blaze a trail, but then roll up the road behind them.

locke said...

[one amazing, absolutely flooring piece... It's smart, guardedly optimistic, and above all incandescently angry. It's easily the best essay I've read this year...]

uh, eeeww.

As much as I love to mock him, 80% of the time SteveReeves is pretty darn accurate in his critical judgments (pause for a moment for him to work up a head of sputtering bluster about "bu..wha..100% of the time!") -- like many of you, I have bookshelves crammed full of great stuff he's kindly given me over the years.

And I also have a bit of crap he's given me -- books that when I go to move, I pick them up and go "why in the HELL do I own THIS?!?! Oh, yeah... Steve...").

But where Steve and I go 'round and 'round and 'round (no really -- it's been spinning for 20 years) is over pop culture -- you don't want to get me started on his taste in comic books and most television and film. And I'm afraid that's where this essay falls -- after all, it IS a comic book/tv essay, printed in a poppy culturey magazine. It's a fun bit of pop culture fireworks, but not much in the way of serious thought.

Stevereads will say I'm being a snob, but hey, I'm not the one reading the TLS and whatnot. But I do read a lot of political commentary, and while this essay is enjoyable for it's "incandescent anger," I'm guessing that that's ENTIRELY what won Steve over to such hyperbole. Because what the essay actually SAYS is neither all that original (Chris Rock would like his royalty check, please) or insightful.

To somehow hold Powell and Rice up as paragons of their race based on a few weeks when they were allowed to shine is silly and patronizing, especially given how miserably both have failed since -- sure, both were gang-tackled by the neo-con thugs in the White House, but Powell's once-sterling reputation will be forever tarnished by the fact that, as Jeff said, that he tragically played the "good soldier" right up until it left him hanging out in the wind with neither a job nor any credibility -- Powell simply couldn't see that as SoS he was not SUPPOSED to be the good soldier anymore -- he was supposed to be a good STATESMAN.

Interestingly, Rice MIGHT turn out to be the reverse -- she clearly was NOT cut out for either of her Bush Administration jobs when she started -- whatever you want to say about her piano playing, her poise, and her knowledge of US-Soviet Cold War diplomacy, none of it has served her well at all in dealing with 21st-century Islamo-fuckery, or whatever we're supposed to be calling it these days.

Only now, in the past year, with Bush on the ropes and Cheney and Rummy pinned down in their corners, has Rice stepped forward and started to act like the "great" diplomat and policy wonk everyone always claims she is. (In that sense she's the David Beckam or A-Rod or T.O. of international diplomacy -- lots of talk, hugely famous, massive rep for past deeds, but very little actual productivity on the field of late.) We're seeing her step forward more these days, telling Bush that he's a pinheaded cock-up who needs to listen to Daddy's Friends (it was Rice who pushed him to create the Iraq Committee), dealing with Syria and Iran.

But anyway, all that's beside Ridley's point -- he's after a big, heavy juxtaposition, and while I certainly agree with the point he's making and the larger idea he's trying to illustrate, I think his choices on both sides of the demonstration were made for their melodramatic showmanship qualities (as is befitting a tv/film/comic book writer) rather than their actual weight as legitimate examples.

So MY point is -- love the essay's idea, but the essay itself? Pretty overhead, silly stuff... In other words, Steve's talking out his ass when he smothers it with heaps of undeserved, hyperbolic praise that it can't possibly live up to...

But hey, that's our Steve!

(Freeze frame on final shot of episode, everyone laughing and hugging....)

locke said...

Oh, and one of these days, I'll get rested up enough to tackle Steve's general take on occupations, Mexican invasions, world politics, and why we'd all be so much better off if the Roman Empire still ran everything...

locke said...

I'm no expert on Ayn Rand and Objectivism -- I choked my way through "Atlas Shrugged" a few years ago just in order to have enough background to be able to spar with the silly, squinty eyed Randies one used to bump up against at cocktail parties (and in the bedroom as well, but that's another story for another time...).

But, Jeff, I do agree with yours and Sam's observations that for Ridley's argument about the state of Black society in America, something like bootstrap Objectivism seems appealing -- the sort of hard poke with a sharp stick needed to "uplift the race." But ultimately, I find Rand's Objectivism to be somewhat like the leadership qualities folks admire in tough football coaches or battlefield generals -- hardnosed, unsympathetic, etc. However, while those Spartan qualities are sometimes much needed in certain situations (winning a championship or beating a fascist nation into submission), they don't usually make for the best policies when governing a larger society. There are exceptions, such as Eisenhower, or the football coach at the high school where I taught, or even Powell to some extent -- people who once they step off the field of battle or play understand that a softer, more sensitive and diplomatic touch is needed.

Uh, what the HELL was I talking about? Oh yeah... Rand's Objectivism -- my rough, ill-informed take on it has always been that yeah, those seem like good ideas for bettering ones-self and achieving one's goals, but when you move from the individual to the communal, as you said, that's when Rand and her Rand-ites get scary -- I don't mind Rand's Objectivism when it's being used to convince a teenager of any race to be a better person, but when it's being sold as a way to run a society, I get very nervous.

My rambling point (man, I need either more or less caffine this morning), is that for Ridley to say that Blacks in America should be more like Powell or Condi (or my local hero, Obama) and less like the Cincy rioters seems like a no-brainer to me.

Uh, this post has wandered WAY far afield... I'm gonna cut it loose...

Kevin Caron said...

I'm with Jeff & Locke on this one - the article doesn't strike me as terribly original (though I think Bill Cosby should get the royalty check before Chris Rock), and the choice of role models are picked to rock the boat (but... but they're Republican!) rather than based on merit (Clarence Thomas gets a mention, but not Thurgood Marshal?).

To say that "two blacks ran our country" is also a stretch - pehaps "two blacks did their job (with great sucess), on an international scale, despite the interference of several meddling, ignorant whites" would be more appropriate?

I also found a number of elements of the writing style irritating. For one, he constantly refers to Condoleza Rice as "Dr. Condi" while telling the reader she deserves more respect - should we refer to Martin Luther King, Jr. as "Dr. Marty" (not that I would ever draw a personal comparison between the two)? Is he tagging her with the nickname to create a cushion of skepticism as he extolls her virtues? Not to mention refering to Rumsfeld as 'Donald Rusted' (repeatedly) - I'm as glad he's gone as anyone, but this is awkward and juvenile.

I'd like to have seen a bit more elaboration on the 'Liberal Plantation' - just to call it that and move on seems as over-simplified as dissmissing Rice and Powel (sorry, Dr. Condi and Colin) in the first place.

I did love your post, Steve - and the chance to click a link and read the article in question was delightful. Never thought I'd enjoy homework this much!

lockep said...

and maybe sometime this holiday weekend, when I'm REALLY rested, i'll rise to the obvious baiting and jump on Steve's silly, intentionally obtuse challenge on Elvis's "lack" of influence...

Kevin Caron said...

I was going to myself, but Steve stacked the deck quite a bit - to me, the majority of Elvis's impact was on the rockers of the 60's & 70's, and they were inspired by pre-war Elvis. That said, his influence on the rockers I mention was enormous.

steve said...

You'd pretty much HAVE to be an old friend, wouldn't you, to feel comfortable slinging around so much condescension?

We'll just have to agree to disagree - well, not about whether or not I 'talk out my ass,' or whether or not I could read an overheated piece of 'silly stuff' and somehow MISS that fact and call it good (or, come to think of it, what I was praising it FOR, which seems to have been missed by everybody but Sam, although that's probably my fault for not going into depth)...

It's late right now, and it's a long drive to our snug little Thanksgiving getaway at Montauk Point - but before I hit the road I should reiterate I consider the Ridley piece a fantastic bit of prose, challenging and moving. The only reason I didn't mention Chris Rock and get out ahead of that particular snipe is because I was certain none of you would believe I knew who he is.

Still! WONDERFUL to see so much of Locke's snarky, smart, voluble stuff here at last! And the kids seem to like it too! Not quite so wonderful when I'M his target, but hey - if he really DOES rest up over the weekend, NONE of us will be safe!

I say let's pile on Beepy! She voted for Mondale - TWICE!

Anonymous said...

you should all go to a bookstore sometime. Ayn Rand's books will be on the shelf, lots of them, in many editions. 'The Fountainhead' and 'Atlas Shrugged' are American CLASSICS. there not 'pretentious' or 'detestable' - there great books. you should grow up and read them before you criticize.

Anonymous said...

No......they're crap.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and it's they're. Or they are.

Anonymous said...

And for the record, Ayn Rand's work is detestably pretentious.
Ok, I'm done.

Beepy said...

Yeah, Steve, why don't you try going to a bookstore sometime?

Please tell me that you didn't write that yourself. Please.

By the way, has any post of yours recieved more comments than this one?

john said...

I like the ring of, "detestably pretentious," nice euphony, annon!

steve said...

Fear not, Beepy! No anonymous posts from me! Still, there shouldn't be anonymous posts from ANYBODY! Who are you, exactly, you forlorn defender of Ayn Rand? Would it be so much trouble to merely type your name, so the rest of us have a more accurate focus for our ridicule?

In any case, thanks for posting - plenty of regular readers here don't (ahem ...)!

I've heard about these 'bookstore' places - I intend to visit one in the near future!

steve said...

And by the way, I have no doubt Rand's books are plentifully represented - but that says nothing about their quality and lots about the cult-like status Sam mentioned. After all, I'm pretty sure every bookstore in the country has a copy of the Book of Mormon too ...

locke said...

I like the way Steve doubles down with the Book of Mormon, hoping against hope that Anon #1 is ALSO an LDS...

I was going to respond to the Defender of the Ayn's claim that "Ayn Rand's books will be on the shelf, lots of them, in many editions" with the observation that so will Jackie Collins' and Adolf Hitler's... but Book of Mormon is better...

And while, unlike Steve, I don't wonder how spam-bots find the site (they are designed to simply scan ALL blogspot postings -- they're robots, they can do things like that, regardless of how much, or how little, traffic a site has), I do wonder how the Ayn Troll found this place (I googled "ayn rand" and "detestable" and just found WAY too many sites to choose from)... are those little Randites just forever buzzing their way toward any mention anywhere of their Pinheaded Goddess like mindless insects chasing a porch light?

and by the way, it's been about 15 years since I was in grad school and almost 10 since I lived in a college town -- is Ayn Rand still all the rage among the the collegiate screwheads? Do the Young Republicans for Fascism still hold midnight Objectivist circle jerks by candlelight? Does any branch of the Conservative Right over the age of 35 still idolize her? Or do wingnuts grow up and feel the same way about their youthful Rand-iness the same way the rest of us feel about our one-time love of industrial dance music?

I always found Rand-ites to fall into a few categories: Campus Republicans and Libertarians waging their war on Dirty Hippies; self-made wannabe captains of industry looking for justification for their corn-holing of society and the environment; masochists who just really enjoy horrible, horrible, needle-in-the-eye prose (though most of those have moved on to Dan Brown); and auto-didactic dipshits who, after years of mental abuse at the hands of pinko liberal schoolteachers, finally found someone to tell them they were special and better than everyone else.

Judging by the spelling skills, I'll toss our Troll into the latter category...

locke said...

but enough gang-raping of the Troll! let's get back to badgering Steve!

So, Steve, what exactly were you praising the Ridley piece FOR, that only Sam picked up? The observation that most folks shot by the cops were not Saints in the City?

locke said...

by the way, the reason I think this post has garnered so many comments is that, unlike most of the magazine and book reviews you post, we all had an easy opportunity to actually READ the text in question, thanks to Esquire's posting it online (which, I hesitate to add, shows exactly how much, or rather how little, the editorial staff thought of it to just toss it out there for free -- or else they thought it was important and provocative enough that it should be read by all...)

Kevin Caron said...

Couldn't agree more on the we read/we post phenomenon... Except, as I'm sure Steve would point out, in the case of the poetry entries.

steve said...

So what I'm hearing here is that things go much more smoothly when the things I mention are linked directly, so you-all can read them effortlessly..

OK, OK ... so how do I do that again?

Kevin Caron said...

Ask Jeff nicely.

Or, go to this page for instructions.

steve said...

OK, I clicked on that link - and will you just LOOK at the gobbledygook that pops up? There isn't even a sentence in English until three or four lines in! You neuromancers out there might lap this up like mother's milk, but HONESTLY! Was that link supposed to HELP me?

Kevin Caron said...

Okay, just know that this is a pain to explain here, because if I type what you need to do, the stupid thing will turn it into a link.


{A HREF="the web address you're linking to"}the text you want to show{/A}

Only use < and > where I used { and }.

Try it a couple times by posting a message with a link - then click PREVIEW instead of PUBLISH YOUR COMMENT. Click on the link you've created, see if it goes where you meant for it too.

Give it a shot. Fear not the hot link.