The Fish
for 19 January 1999. Updated every WEEKDAY.
 
 
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Two Views of Alan Kornheiser

Subject: Time for an
all-Kornheiser Suck!

Yes, I humbly submit that a
Kornheiser-inspired, perhaps
even Kornheiser-edited
(à la Spike Lee back
in early Spin) or
Kornheiser-written
installment of Suck is
something whose time has
come.

Gimme, gimme, gimme!

Simon Adkins
<random@infi.net>

We've considered it, Simon.
But Kornheiser is an elusive
sage, brooding up in his
aerie, studying his books of
arcane learning, occasionally
signaling to us from some
high parapet. Some say he
practices wizardry and the
black arts; others that he
knows science and philosophy
beyond our reckoning. We know
none of these things for
certain, only that when
Kornheiser is content in his
keep, our children grow
strong and tall, and our
husbandry thrives. But we
know better than to importune
him with the labors of this
world. He keeps his own
counsel and writes to us when
and if he chooses. One does
not task Kornheiser.

Sucksters

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Subject: Kornheiser

sigh

Who the fuck is this Alan
Kornheiser?! Just hire him
and get it over with! Quit
stroking each other on The
Fish every other day and
leave some room for the other
cerebroids out there.

Uh, you do get letters from
others don't you?

Gregg Headrick
<gregg@utkux.utcc.utk.edu>

We do get letters from
others, Gregg, but since so
many of them are like yours,
we usually end up publishing
Kornheiser's.

Sucksters

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Subject: It pays to enrich
your word power

Please use more of the
following words: torpor,
slat, shat, hecatomb, pogrom,
hegemony. Thank you.

Rich Megginson
<richm@netscape.com>

Please use more of the
following words:
lackadaisical, smooshed,
dumbhead, marijuanicah.

Sucksters

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 
Man Handled

Dear Skinner,

I whole-heartedly agree with
your "assessment" of a shift
- we'll call it a paradigm
shift to make it contemporary
and a little worthy of
contempt - from post '80s
ultra-liberalism toward a
more conservative stance. But
the information age has
shell-shocked the population
into believing that history
is comprised merely of the
past few quarters
(market-obsession?), while in
fact, societal beliefs shift
to a more subtle beat. Look
at the more subtle changes in
sports, like the WNBA and
that women's basketball
league that just went under.
I recently discovered that
fly-fishing had become
trendy, much to my chagrin,
because I had become an avid
practitioner of the ancient
art only recently. Now was I
victim of some unconscious
shift toward male machismo
or an innocent bystander? Who
can judge? (I want you to
know that I only grudgingly
use the overused and
frequently misrepresented
buzzword of our times
"victim.") The shift that you
speak of is something that is
still shrouded in the mist -
and not of antiquity but of a
more pervasive and disturbing
phenomenon, the age of
information overload. It's as
if the tip of the iceberg has
just been noticed off the
Titanic's bow, because
avoidance is denial, and
denial is a more accurate
buzzword, if you couple it
with a shake of ignorance.

Yours,

Josh
<Neptune8@aol.com>

Wha'?

Changes are more subtle than
you might think? There's a
dangerous shift toward
conservatism occurring? Or
more women's basketball
leagues are appearing? Or
those leagues are appearing
but then going under?

Maybe the real shift here is
from effective to ineffective
communication.

Avoiding being victimized by
trying to understand your
letter,

Sucksters

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Tom Wolfe has this narrative
style where he defines his
characters in burdensome,
nay, mincing, detail and then
puts them in a social Skinner
box. How the characters react
become the plot of the book.

Still, one of the better
parts of A Man in Full is
that it illustrates how it
sucks not to have any
guidance when yer in a bad
situation and you don't know
what the hell to do. Wolfe
shows us that it is books
that can help us: not
self-help narcissism or New
Age dithering, but good fat
weighty tomes from the Great
Books canon. If Wolfe had
used the Bible instead of the
writing of Epictetus, A Man
in Full
would have been a
rather mundane testimonial to
the salvation offered by
religion. True, you could say
that it's a testimonial of
the followers of Zeus, but I
prefer to believe that it
speaks to the benefits of a
classical education.

Still, while the Greek
philosophers instructed "know
thyself," we more pragmatic
Americans subscribe to the
philosophy of "know thy
neighbor." How else to
explain Springer? In that
spirit, I wish to thank you
for the link in the article
to the fake nude celebrity
Web site. I now marvel that
there are folks out there who
fantasize over Who's The
Boss'
Judith Light.

(What? No Rexella Van Impe?
Pity.)

Simon Adkins
<random@infi.net>

I think your take on Wolfe's
MO is just about right.
Elsewhere, it's described
charitably as "journalistic
realism." Suffice it to say
that Wolfe believes the best
way to characterize real and
imaginary people is to start
with the clothes and stop at
the skin. Erm, you might call
that superficial. I think I
will. It tends to work better
in real-life journalistic
settings, because if you
violate the truth, you'll be
nailed for libel. Sadly,
there are no such safeguards
in fiction. And I seriously
think that for all his
"social relevance," he misses
the truth by a wide mark on
several vital plot points and
characters in A Man In Full.

Lots of more conscientious
reviewers have made a stink
about the weird conclusion,
saying it's the book's only
real flaw - that is, Croker's
supposed conversion to this
neo-pagan religion thang. But
it's vintage Wolfe, and the
book would be a shambles
without it; like the author
himself, in lieu of his
ridiculous white linen suits.

Anyway, I'd never urge anyone
not to read, but shit,
there's too much that's too
good to not speak up about
the abominable crap that gets
so much mindshare.

E. L. Skinner

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 
Nice work,
as usual. I'm disappointed
that you didn't spend more
time on Wolfe's novel. In
particular, I'm sorry you
didn't spend more time making
fun of it. I've read several
excerpts from it now, and I
keep thinking, "Gee, I really
don't like this." Apparently,
I'm missing the joke. The
reviews of the book are
nearly as shocking: " ...
passages as powerful and as
beautiful as anything written
by ... any American
novelist." Can they be
serious? I've read better
stuff on Usenet. Anyway,

Cheers,

Michael Mull
<mull@intsim.com>

I couldn't agree more. The
problem is where to start on
Wolfe's crappy tome. Having
actually marched through it
cover to cover, I have to
tell you the excerpts were
the only modestly interesting
parts in the damn thing. And
I'm hard pressed to explain
the perennial line that forms
among critics to administer
the obligatory ass-kissing
every time Wolfe breaks wind.
Mostly I blame Jann Wenner,
who apparently doesn't have
anything better to do than
hype a good reporter who's
gotten too old and lazy to
trick other people into
saying what he wants them to
say.

E. L. Skinner

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Did some pissed off feminist
write this article? Some
female whose just mad at men
in general and sees us as
micro-brained beer-chuggin'
machines? Beer certainly
plays a delightful role in
male bonding, but to say that
male bonding doesn't exist is
just wrong. Guys just don't
blab about it as much.

-I. J.
<idj@mtu.edu>

A man wrote that article,
FYI. Way to choose your
battles: "Male bonding does
exist, dude!" But please,
tell us more about male
bonding so some of us
pissed-off feminists can
chuckle about it over beers.

 
Fish With Letter Icon

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