Tales out of School: The New York Times

I like being naughty here in this blog, I gotta say, insofar as I can be naughty, considering my mother, daughter, old editors, potential employers, and maybe even that shithead who fired me with only two weeks’ severance are reading this. I mean, I have to keep the sex, drugs, and rock and roll…not exactly to a minimum, but—hi, honey!* So.

I actually wrote a pretty scathing post about a couple of not-so-courageous editors at that yucky rag Cosmo, but I took it down because Maudie said I had to keep the gossip, the nasty nicknames, and the stuff that would keep me from being hired to a minimum. But I thought I’d share this one story, because it’s tame and it has a tiny bit of news, sadly, that you can use. It’s only a little bit naughty. I’ll do better later, after I make sure that a big paw doesn’t come out and knock me off my stool at Doma because of this damn blog.

So, anyway, one time the New York Times hired me to write about this playwright who had done super well in regional theatres over the course of his career, but had never had a play produced in New York. Or maybe he’d had just a couple produced, but nothing significant. Anyway, finally it was going to happen—Broadway. Or maybe it was off Broadway—doesn’t matter.

So this editor from the Times** said she wanted me to write the piece around this premise: that the playwright (who I think needs to remain nameless) was having his big break. The trouble was, that he didn’t see it that way; turns out, he didn’t care about New York. I went back and told the editor that the premise didn’t really hold up without the playwright’s support—in fact, the premise should be that he didn’t care—and she said that that couldn’t be right: of course that damned yokel cared, and of course this should still be the premise of the piece. She said to go back to him. So I did—I called him again. And he said again that he couldn’t care less about New York or the editor’s premise.

The long and short of it is that the editor called him herself, got basically the same answer, but took my piece and manipulated it so that it supported her original premise. Nice, huh? All the news that’s fit to print plus the fantasies we like to add in there!

Oh, I still read the Times every day—or the website, at least, for some semblance of the truth. But for the real skinny I read Rick and George and Amy, all of whom are very clear about journalistic integrity.

*That’s a joke, Loo-loo. I know you love that shit.
**I think I have her name here in my email somewhere—hang on (scroll, scroll, scroll, no, search inbox, shit, search sent): oh, yeah—here it is!

New (Susan) Orlean

Speaking of New Yorker bloggers, Susan Orlean, the author of The Orchid Thief, has just started a blog there. Orlean is the only person on that site, or any site that I know of, who’s doing a more literary blogging—the kind of thing I imagine myself doing. Not to compare myself to Susan Orlean. But blogging is—apart from being a way to get good writers to weigh in on important and current issues without being censored by editors—a competitive sport, and that’s fun for those of us who drink too much, are very tired, and don’t feel inclined to grab our bats and balls and get out there. So, even though I thought that Orleans’s tweets were lame when I was following them, I’m psyched to see what she does. Her first real post is on ticks. Which is not too far, of course, from my posts on dog shit.