The Fish
for 2 November 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.
 
 
Suck Staff
 

Joey Anuff
Joey Anuff
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[the fixin' pixie... ]
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Production Manager
and Rhythm Guitar

 

Heather Havrilesky
Heather Havrilesky
Senior Editor

 

[Ian Connelly]
Ian Connelly
Marketing Manager

 

[Copy Edit]
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Suck Alumni
Suck Alumni Text
 

Carl Steadman
Carl Steadman
Co-Founder

 

Ana Marie Cox
Ana Marie Cox
Executive Editor

 

Sean (Duuuuude) Welch
Sean Welch
Suckgineer

 

Owen Thomas
Owen Thomas
Copy Editor

 


T. Jay Fowler

Production Manager

& Ass Kicker

 

[yes, it's a plunger. i'll l
eave the rest up to your imagination ... ]
Erin Coull
Production Manager

 

Matt Beer
Matt Beer
Development Manager

Suck EGGs: Ira Glass

I've only listened to about
half of one This American
Life
so I don't know much
about Ira or his show; but
I'm having trouble finding
the Evil in your Evil Genius
Award and the attached links.

His offenses seem to be:

1. He has his own show and
does whatever the heck he
wants to, including NOT
talking.

2. Lots of people really like it.

3. Oh, and he's handsome.
(Now I really hate him.)

Granted, he seems just a
little too cool. Perhaps
calculatingly so with his
(mock?) coyness. And does he
really listen to '60s
Congolese pop music, or is
that just a facade of being
Cultured?

But that seems less offensive
than pretty much everything
on commercial network TV.

So where's the evil?

Courtney Cason
<Courtney.Cason@pii.com>

Hi, Courtney --

There seems to be some
confusion here.

When we had our Suck EGG
committee meetings, they ran
a little late, there was
bourbon involved, and we got
confused about whether we
were the evil geniuses in
question; the result seems to
be that we picked some
finalists that everyone on
the planet loves like their
own mother.

Seriously, though - you put
your finger on the real
reason for Ira's EGG.
"Seeming a little too cool"
has been a fair criteria for
cultural criticism since
about sixth grade.

Pre-adolescent humor, to be
sure. But we manage as best
we can.

Best regards -

Sucksters

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

As far as I knew, Ira Glass
was always harmless. I have
friends who enjoy Ira Glass.
I, personally, had never
heard him, as the idea of
curling up to the radio to
hear his show seemed a bit
too faux-cosmopolitan for me.
Also, I am usually very busy
writing my own radio show
which I broadcast on a
walkie-talkie to anyone
within range when His
American Ass is on.

The point is that all this
changed when I was postponing
getting out of bed this
morning and listening to the
tri-yearly pledge drive on
WBEZ. Ira Glass came in to
lend his celebrity status to
try to help drum up money.
What I heard was a little
audio-montage that consisted
of 1) Ira Glass asking a
tattoo artist if anyone ever
came in to get a public radio
tattoo, and 2) a snippet of a
Beastie Boys song.
Coincidence? Nevertheless,
this trite and annoying
little segment cemented my
financial nonsupport for the
duration of this pledge
drive, and it fortified your
anti-Ira Glass position.

Good call.

Joe Garden
<j-garden1@nwu.edu>

P.S. The Beastie Boys are to
public radio now what Laurie
Anderson was to public radio
in the '80s. I still can't
listen to Big Science without
pangs of guilt that I haven't
given enough money to CPB.

You seem to be the one other
person in America who isn't
lining up to kiss Mr. Glass'
butt.

Actually, it was his
pledge-drive antics that
really gave This American
Life
a boost ... this one
sounds pretty lame. I'm sure
you remember the other spots,
like calling up the Chicago
Tribune
and demanding a free
subscription, or harassing
unpledged Starbucks
customers. The real upshot of
which was pretty telling: How
easy it would be to make this
painful annual grift even
more painful.

Ira does a lot of great stuff
... but that doesn't mean
he's not annoying too, like
any know-it-all or
alpha-male.

Sucksters

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Dear Sucksters,

Your anti-Ira Glass rant
(10/20/98) mystifies me.
Glass' This American Life is
arguably the best show on
radio, public or commercial.

I listened to Joe Frank years
ago when he was on (if memory
serves) WBAI & WNYC in New
York, and he did some good
work, though I'm not sure it
will stand the test of time ...

And's what's not to like
about Sarah Vowell? Have you
heard the piece about her
gunsmithing father in the
"Guns" show from This
American Life
? Check it out!

Last Monday on Morning
Edition
there was a piece by
David Sedaris that's part of
an upcoming TAL show ... how
many NPR or PRI shows do you
think Sedaris would be
welcome on other than TAL?

Some of Glass' shows have
been good enough for me to
pay $10 for a tape. Who else
in NPR/PRI-land is producing
anything good enough to sell?
Sounds to me as though
whoever wrote your diatribe
may not have bothered to
listen to TAL. Even if Glass
were an idiot/fraud/poseur,
who cares as long as the
show's as good as it is? You
don't say a whole lot about
Glass' show at all, probably
because it's harder to
criticize such wide-ranging
content than to skewer an
individual with an ad-hominem
attack.

As someone who's not
photogenic, I sympathize with
Glass' photo-shyness. Having
read the link you provided
with the explanation of
Glass' "no pictures" policy,
who wouldn't understand what
he's talking about? I know
exactly what he means, having
felt the same way after
seeing the cast of Whadaya
Know
in person. What's
"disingenuous" about this?
That you cite this behavior
"More than any other factor
..." as deserving an EGG
seems a tip-off to just how
lame your other charges are.
C'mon ... avoiding cameras is
the absolute WORST thing you
can say about this guy?

Your case against Glass is
dismissed, but thanks for the
links in your story. With so
many deserving targets out
there, I hope in future
you'll pick them more
carefully, and make your case
for the EGG on the merits,
not on irrelevancies.

Jamie Gray
<jamie@rsage.org>

Thanks for CCing your note
over to This American Life.
Maybe they'll finally give us
the attention we've been
dying to get from them!

We want Ira's show to survive
and thrive, and we think a
little negative press might
be just the ticket. With
everyone in the country
lining up to kiss his ass,
we're getting nervous. Can a
Fox TV special be far behind?
A book deal? Do we truly care
either way?

As for Sarah, well ... the
fact that she wrote about TAL
in her book and was promptly
rewarded with a contributing
editor title has always
smelled bad. Kind of like us
writing about Wired and then
getting bought by 'em ... but
we digress.

Sarah has leveraged a lot of
mass-media relationships in
recent years, and if you read
and hear her regularly
enough, you begin to wonder
how she managed to do it. It
is, of course, a matter of
taste. We've been gnashing
our teeth and tearing our
hair over her Salon column
ever since it started....
Good thing it was
unceremoniously dropped this
month, before we went
completely hairless and
toothless.

Sucksters

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Suck EGGs: Michael Lind &
David Horowitz

Ahhh, come on ... Lind's
ideas are at least
interesting, if not fun.
True, it reminds me of some
'70s book I recall from a
blue-hazed reading, The
Greening of America.
Yeah,
northern California was
partitioned off into
Ecotopia, I think. But how
could anyone be against
splintering off a state
called Geritolina from
Florida? No, Lind's
naïveté stems
from his delusion that
tinkering with the US
Constitution can improve the
political process when it
actually has very little to
do with it. Compare the
paltry few pages of the
Constitution with the Greater
Washington, DC, telephone
directory under "National" to
find the thousands of
lobbying organizations and it
becomes obvious which is more
indicative of how American
legislation is crafted.

Simon Adkins
<simonadkins@netscape.net>

Do you know studies have
shown that The Greening of
America
has shared shelf
space with The Dancing Wu Li
Masters
and Jeremy Rifkin's
Entropy in more apartments
with ashes on the couch and
bongwater on the rug than any
other book in history?

The problem with the book is
that it doesn't cordon off a
section of the United States
as Insectopia. Or
Mysanthropia. Or even
Rope-a-dopia. There's not
even a Deepak Chopia a Julian
Copia, a Slipperyslopia, or
Man from Hopia. Really, if
we're going to have
microstates, we should have
some useful ones.

The problem with lobbying is
that there aren't enough of
the right people doing it.

yr. pals,

Sucksters

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

... I'm a happy part of your
international audience. I
visit daily for a little fix
of Suck wit. Sure,
occasionally there's a day
when the US-specific cultural
references are a little
difficult to follow, but one
is always aware that the next
day you'll be back on track
and we can all share a laugh
at the expense of the
Canadians.

I'm British, you see. We
don't like to complain. When
bored in conversation we
politely shuffle our feet,
gently clear our throats, our
eyes wander from our
interlocutor. Soon they get
the message and the expected
response is, "Am I boring you
... I'm so sorry. What about
this weather, eh?" and
suddenly we're back on safe
conversational ground.

The Evil Genius Grants,
though ...

I've been shuffling my feet
'til I look like Michael
Flatley, I've been clearing
my throat 'til I'm
expectorating lumps of fresh
lung, and my eyes are rolling
in my head like the wheels on
a slot machine.

Please. Before I explode with
social embarrassment.

Don't make me say it.

Don't force me into the
unconscionable social gaffe
of admitting my own ennui.

I remain, Sir, your obedient
Servant...

Tim Hayward

<timh@hhcl.com>

You're not the first one to
own up to this social gaffe,
Mr. Hayward. Your response is
heartening, however, in its
show of the kind of cheerful
restraint that we had thought
soccer hooligans and drooling
Dianamaniacs had robbed from
the Sceptre'd Isle for all
time. The Suck EGGs, puzzling
and Ameri-centric though they
may be, are a vital
contribution to the
understanding of our culture,
an ugly job that somebody's
got to do, etc. We hope you'll
take the series for whatever
chuckles it might provide. We
promise that there are a few
ass jokes coming up.

yr. pal,

tim

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 
Suck EGGs: Ira Glass

Suck,

Your giving Ira Glass a Suck
EGG exemplifies the very
thing I like least about the
stuff you publish: verbally
trashing people that, while
they're not perfect, still
have a lot of great things
going for them.

Sure, Glass' off-air modesty
might seem a little bit
affected. But SO WHAT? Must
every emerging talent be
expected to have his image
buffed to a high shine? If
anything, it's to Glass'
credit that his persona ISN'T
perfect.

I'll come right out and say
it, self-serving cynicism be
damned: Ira Glass does a DAMN
GOOD SHOW. Why can't you
acknowledge the things he
does well, as much as you
pick up on his bread-crumb
sins? (The answer, of course,
is "because that's not what
Suck is about" - but I'm
posing it as more of a
rhetorical question....) Your
smear about Ira not doing any
"real work" seems, if only by
intuition, like merely one of
those things you guys often
cook up just so you can take
a poke at someone who hasn't
done enough shit to merit
VALID criticism.

Now, if I were to treat Suck
with the same tone you
treated Ira Glass, I'd
condemn you to media hell for
your horrible injustice, and
swear never to read you
again. Instead, I'll just
say: SHAPE UP, SUCK, so that
I can go on reading your
columns every day without
succumbing to the creeping
negativity that stuff like
this inspires.

In tough love,

Noah Hofmann-Smith
<hofmanns@AC.GRIN.edu>

You're right, of course. At
Suck, there's a twisted logic
that sometimes goes into
effect: People with a lot of
positive press (and Ira's has
been exclusively positive)
create a temptation for us to
open our big fat mouths.

When you accuse us of
"cooking up" the implication
that Ira is lazy, you're
right on the money. He
obviously works hard on the
show, and it shows. It was
kind of a case where the
punchline wrote the joke, in
spite of its patent falsity.

It's a real challenge to
genuinely compliment someone
who deserves it, and still
make it interesting and
provocative reading. A
challenge that bores us to
tears.

Feeling the Greatest Love of
All Stronger Than Ever,

Sucksters

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

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