March 31, 2005

click clack and I'm back

* Wolcott on Joe Scarborough:

"And then there's Joe Scarborough. Because I have a heart, I removed a couple of pages from by book Attack Poodles about the death of Lori Klausitis, a young staffer for then Republican Congressman Scarborough whose body was discovered in his district office. He was in Washington, DC at the time of her death, but there were some iffy aspects about her case and unlike the Gary Condit situation, this mini-mystery got no play in the national media since it didn't plug into the horny Clinton Democrats-interns meme. I wrote about it in a Vanity Fair column but when I reworked the column for the book, its inclusion bothered me; there was something tonally wrong about it that clashed with the rest of the text, and I heard that Scarborough had been upset about it when it came out and that it caused distress to his new family. I had also heard from more than one person that he was not a bad guy off camera, funny and unpretentious, which also tilted towards leniency. I felt I could make my points about him as a TV personality without the passage, so I cut it, and hearing second-hand he was concerned about the book, called him up to tell him so. We had a very pleasant, brief conversation, and that was it.

"I still don't regret cutting it, but I really think it's the last time I'm cutting anyone on the other side the slightest slack. Joe Scarborough may be a nice guy off-camera, but his performance in the Schiavo case has been one of the most disgusting stretches in cable-news history--the biggest blotch on MSNBC's record since the hiring/firing of Michael Savage, and you would have thought Rick Kaplan would have learned something from the blunder of his predecessor instead of letting Scarborough lash and trash night after night. He has become such an odious, poisonous joke that his own guests are telling him, "You should be ashamed of the show you are running" (scroll down), and asking, 'How can you possibly be so stupid?'

"Joe Scarborough is just a symptom, a noisy, ignorant, pimply symptom to be sure, but still. The real malefactors are the men in executive suits and suites who put such a bozo on the air and allow him to plant his shoes on the dying body of Terri Schiavo and use her as a political soapbox and religious pulpit. It's conservatives who are dehydrating her, draining every last drop of dignity from her death."

* "A boy doesn't have to go to war to be a hero; he can say he doesn't like pie when he sees there isn't enough to go around." -- Edgar Watson Howe

* Where is the Counterculture when we Need It? excerpt:

"But why was there so much counter-movement in the 1950s - including coffee houses, cool jazz, the civil rights drive, existentialism, and the beats - and so little today? Why, at a time when the country is more bitterly divided and more overflowing with alienation than at any moment in modern history is so little of the angst expressed in alternative action, culture or community rather than largely in criticism, complaints, protests, depression and despair? Where is the counterculture when we need it?

"To be sure, elements can be found on a localized, random, or individual scale. Temporary autonomous zones, in Hakim Bey's fine phrase, exist across our land - from persistent strains of rebellion of the west coast to smaller and more fragile manifestations such as the Ugly Fishermen, a book club I visited the other night comprised largely of former peace corps volunteers in their 20s and 30s that was stocked with more conviction, consciousness and thoughtful self-examination than I ordinarily encounter in a whole month. There are also punk musicians, alternative agronomists, utopian urbanists, struggling ministers, stubborn social workers and others whose lack of mention here merely supports my point: although they share courage and conceptions, attitudes and ideals, we don't think of them as one, but only as lonely candles in the dark. And it is easy to forget they are even there.

"Some, mainly younger Americans, have told me that a counterculture is too much to expect. Every promising rebellion in our society these days quickly becomes commodified and corporatized. Certainly the road between Stonewall and Queer Eye has become stunningly short. MTV and record companies have stolen whole age cohorts for their rapacious purposes and Starbucks has even made the word coffeehouse suspect."

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