Monday, October 27, 2008


But I just love this letter.

To William F. Buckley, Jr.

January, 1966

Dear Bill,

I send you the enclosed not because I love National Review so much, for I don’t—it’s not so good as it ought to be, and often it’s tiresome, especially when one knows in advance what your trusted old line contributors are going to say—but as a personal mark of respect to you. Your letter was the best letter I ever read by an editor asking for funds. . . .

One request. Please keep my contribution in the secret crypts. It is not that I fear public opinion so much as ceaseless repetition. Repetition kills the soul and I would not wish to spend one hundred evenings in succession explaining to various outraged and somewhat stupid people in calm clear fashion my complex motives for giving a gift to a magazine for which I feel no affection and to an editor with whom on ninety of a hundred points I must rush to disagree. They would not understand that good writing is good writing, and occasionally carries the day.



Wednesday, October 15, 2008


A Virginia McCain hack on MSNBC just pronounce lambasted as Lamb Basted. As in,
"If you squeeze some of the cooking juices over the lamb, I'm sure you will be happy with the resulting deliciousness. Everyone loves their lamb basted!"


Yesterday I had a meeting in an office.

I've worked in offices. I had a friend in high school whose parents ran a tiny hot dog company out of Deerfield, IL. I worked there for awhile. There were five full-time employess:

M: My friend's Dad. He started the company after his family's kosher sausage company got bought by Sara Lee. Passionate about hot dogs.

B: My friend's Mom. Sweet-tempered, supportive, office manager and cheerleader.

R: Saleswoman. Her brother is a famous TV and movie producer. I remember her telling me a story about how she met Meg Ryan and she is so much prettier in person. I have since met the woman, and I can't say I agree. It seems like she showed her plastic surgeon a picture of Mr. Potato Head:

T: He was one of those Asperger's guys that, according to workplace comedies, seem to be a common feature of office culture. I'm glad he was there because now I can watch portrayals of his type and laugh knowingly. ("Spot On!" I can shout, while wiping my eyelids of their mirthful moisture.)

B: Receptionist of sorts. She was forever ordering office supplies. She was also single and a cancer survivor. I know this because the first time I met her she said, "Hi. I'm B. I'm single and a cancer survivor."

I was sort of a shipping clerk. Mostly I would stand in the back, taping labels to vacuum sealed frozen hot dogs. Freezer tape, if you don't know, smells uncannily of girl parts.

Point is, I've worked in an office. But the meeting I had yesterday was in a serious office. A corporate culture kind of office. The kind where a receptionist sits at a desk by the elevators and says things into a phone like, "Mr. So-and-So, Ilana is here to see you now." I was there for a Brainstorming session. A group of us sat in a corner on bouncy, kindergarten-colored furniture, the kind of furniture that was undoubtedly designed after a brainstorming meeting on "creativity maximization" . As we talked, someone wrote on an oversized Post-it Pad, periodically ripping off pages and hanging them on the wall.

It's not that I'm rock and roll. I'm really not. I live in South Brooklyn, after all. Brownstone and baby Brooklyn. The Brooklyn for corporate types who like trees. But something about being in that environment, on that made me feel like this: