"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 19 October 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.

    Ira Glass


Investing the phrase "egg on your face" with rich, new significance, Suck is proud to announce the recipients of its first annual Evil Genius Grants. Over the next 10 days, the Suck EGG honorees, as selected by Suck's blue ribbon panel of experts, will be profiled on this page. Included are standouts in fields as diverse as pop music and pop-music criticism, film acting and film directing, magazine punditry and television punditry. But unlike those humdrum, dime-per-dozen MacArthur Foundation "genius" grants, each Suck EGG fellowship is offered not for such narrow purposes as "rewarding outstanding achievement" or celebrating the "power and possibilities of human creativity." Nor are they extended to those whose work represents the "greatest benefit to mankind," like the recently announced Nobel Prizes.

Instead, the Suck EGGs provide an infinitely more valuable service to humanity: Namely, each fellowship is granted only on the condition that for the next calendar year, in the interests of Human Civilization, its recipients stop doing the voodoo that they do so annoyingly well. (To prevent welshing, actual prizes are not conferred until the completion of each term.) Those who aspire to the heights of EGGdom in the future should realize that, by definition, it is impossible for us to accept applications - since this is an award not for who you are, but who you will cease to be.

- Sucksters

  When good PR happens to good people, it's like an emergency flare sent up into the sky above Suck World Headquarters, and we scramble to investigate or, at least, to fatten up the sordid underbelly of success. Such is the case with Ira Glass, public radio's prodigal son, whose public hipness factor is finally catching up with him. After Joe Frank (the true dark genius of broadcasting) unceremoniously left the airwaves for good last year, Glass inherited the mantle as public radio's token experimentalist. But rather than being an obvious control freak and self-involved artiste the way Frank was, Glass showed his genius in serving an overlooked demographic - stylish hipsters who secretly enjoy hearing "Most interesting character I ever met" stories, but wouldn't be caught dead with Readers Digest. Like all the best innovations, this one provides the innovator more leisure time, allowing Glass to make his smarmy introductions, then step aside and really concentrate on that lozenge, while hired goons like former Harper's editor Paul Tough and the overexposed, undertalented Sarah Vowell (herself an EGG semifinalist) do the dirty work. Although Glass occasionally conducts interviews and rewords the show's mission statement, the only real work he seems to do anymore is give interviews to fawning journalists and fight off the attentions of love-struck soccer-mom groupies - both being, we'd like to remind our local NPR affiliates, tasks for which we ourselves are eminently qualified.

Glass takes it as his mandate to stand out from the rest of public radio programming, which is hardly a challenge, considering NPR's steady move in the past decade toward big money, pocketbook politics, and the arthritic musings of Bailey White. David Isay's recent and brilliant "Sunshine Hotel" is a Glass-influenced exception that proves the rule. Still, there was a time when "public radio" meant you could show up at the local college station and volunteer to spin some Tito Puente and tell fart jokes. Today, the best you can do is volunteer to fork over some tax-deductible cash, leaving the hands-on duties to professionals like Ira.

More than any other factor, though, the case for a Glass EGG is made by the celebrated couch dance the candidate performs every time some feckless mug artist tries to take his picture. We appreciate the disingenuous stab at modesty, but Ira's coy peek-a-boo comes off less as a mysterious Pynchonian flourish than a camera-shy perp walk, with a particularly vain suspect. We know that he knows that we know he's a handsome devil, so we're pleased to award Ira Glass this EGG, to pay for the cost of a cover shot and full-photo spread in Martha Stewart Living and to publish his personal phone number and email address in Yellow Silk.

Place of Residence: Chicago, IL
Age: 39
Award: $12,324.10

courtesy of the Sucksters