The Fish
for 3 November 1998. Updated every WEEKDAY.
 
 
Suck Staff
 

Joey Anuff
Joey Anuff
Editor in Chief

 

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Terry Colon
Art Director

 

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

 

Heather Havrilesky
Heather Havrilesky
Senior Editor

 

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Ian Connelly
Marketing Manager

 

[Copy Edit]
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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: Shelby Foote

I've always hated the type of
person to say, "I know Bob,
and you're no Bob."
Nevertheless ...

I know Shelby Foote or, to
put it more accurately, have
met him several times and can
think of no better Southerner
more deserving of your EGG.
Well, Strom Thurmond does
come a close second.

Susan Wyssen
<swyssen@hotmail.com>

Strom would have been a good
one, but he's had heaps of
this kind of public
acknowledgement.... Hell, the
Congressional Record is a
virtual Strom Thurmond/Jesse
Helms joke book.

Anyway, Foote seemed like a
pretty genteel and
undeserving candidate ... but
the more we tried to get to
know him, the more we were
repelled.

Sucksters

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Dear Sucksters,

the Suck-aura West Coast
ahistorical arch-hip attitude
finally has hit on something
that makes me shudder.
Usually I find it fairly to
very entertaining, but this
time, well Hell, you've just
taken all the fun out of
stomping the South for not
winning their
war-to-preserve-
humans-as-property. OK, as a
native Marylander and
sometime Civil War student, I
see the canonization of
Shelby Foote as a foregone
conclusion in many gullible
folks' minds, but y'all
sorrily have confused the
grace, knowledge, and charm
of a true Southern gentleman
and scholar (Mr. Foote) with
the shallow and tepid bald
charisma of a buffoon (i.e.,
Ronald Reagan, your former
governor and our former
president). Mr. Foote does
not engage in
self-aggrandizement of the
sort in which Reagan engaged,
and of which you hedgingly
almost accuse him. This
especially is true where his
fiction-writing is concerned.
Mr. Foote and the now-dead
author Walker Percy, boyhood
friends, ironically started
out in directions opposite to
those in which they ended ...
Foote intending fiction,
Percy intending fact
(medicine). Mr. Foote has
humbly acknowledged that his
attempts at fiction were
mediocre at best, especially
when compared to his friend
Mr. Percy's - you should try
reading their correspondence
(Jay Tolson, ed.;
Doubletake/W.W.Norton, 1997)
for a picture of the true Mr.
Foote. I agree that his
smoothness and his
dramatization of
Confederacy-oriented Civil
War factoids in Burns' PBS
special could get grating to
a Northerner or an
ahistorical person, but
really, if you want to talk
about priggish
self-importance, you ought to
look elsewhere. Frankly, I
don't suffer braggarts, either
subtle or overt, and it was
what I found to be Mr.
Foote's engaging manner (and
perhaps also the imploring of
a past girlfriend who had
gone to Gettysburg College)
that drew me into studying up
on the Civil War. I am sorry
that out there in California,
the land which has no history
but that of pulp cinema, you
cannot comprehend the sense
of historical loss known to
old-line Southerners. But
really, to slag Mr. Foote -
even in jest - to me is not
funny. (I am sure, however,
that your reply to this will
be hilarious, and I look
forward to it.)

Sean O'Neil
Missoula, MT
<beadhead@cybershock.net>

He was a convenient target,
not so much for his
scholarship, but for his face
value as the de facto, token
Southern sympathizer in The
Civil War
and the
pundit-related rewards this
has garnered for him. You're
right, though, about us smug
Northerners - so sheltered in
our historiography that even
Foote comes as a shock,
Slavery being Indefensible
and all that.

Of course, it's patently
ridiculous to dismiss the
residual angst of the failed
Confederacy - which, after
all, gave us Faulkner,
O'Connor, McCarthy, and Percy
... not to mention Muddy
Waters, Robert Johnson, and
James Brown. But the cultural
capital of that time seems to
us to be almost spent, and it
may be time to move on to
something else ... like, say,
A Man in Full or KrispyKreme.

Sucksters

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

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
 

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