It’s weird when a personal obsession takes on a life of its own. I imagine raising kids is sort of like that. But regarding Malcolm Gladwell (who again, I like and respect a lot) and his story at the Moth: To me, it doesn’t matter if the story is true or not. He’s making a joke about journalism ethics. Journalism is something I take seriously, perhaps too seriously. To me, it’s as if he’s making a joke about rape or robbing homeless people: It’s just in poor taste.
Gladwell was in my dream last night. He was working behind the desk at a car rental agency and was helping me get a van for Atlantic City. (In the dream, no one called me about going to Atlantic City. My subconscious is so obvious.) At first it was really awkward, because he gave me this look, like I know you and you’ve said bad things about me behind my back. And in real life, that’s sort of true because I talked to him at the Moth gala and maybe he remembers what I look like. But after the initial awkwardness in my dream, he was friendly and even open to my suggestions about his next novel.
Recently, I asked the host of a party quite loudly how many STDs he had had. So when I get all uptight, I find it strange, too. Last night I was talking to a friend, and went off again about my Facebook friend’s casually racist picture. I haven’t spoken to this Facebook friend in over a year, and I really want to email her and tell her she’s everything that’s wrong with rich, white New Yorkers. But I’m exhibiting some self-control by passive-aggressively blogging about it.
Working from home in sweatpants, it’s easy to forget that I’m in a public forum. Yesterday I wrote something commending Ben McGrath for his work at the New Yorker. Some people agreed with me, but others went after him. All I wanted to say was, Hey, Ben McGrath is awesome, not, Hey, this is your chance to tell Ben McGrath he sucks.
So anyway, Ben McGrath, Malcolm Gladwell, if you have Google alerts on your names (and I couldn’t judge you if you did) and you’re reading this: Neither of you suck. You’re both great writers. Casually racist Facebook friend, however, you do suck and based on your Facebook captioning skills, you’re probably a bad writer as well.