Ask any farmer what to do with a litter of kittens you don’t want and he’ll tell you to snuff ’em out right away. You can’t be sentimental: you don’t need all those mewling, hungry mouths around the barn, and you sure as hell don’t want another generation of strays spraying up the place and picking fights.
The same can be said for Web sites: some are best put down in their first weeks. Take Agora Magazine, a downy newborn culture and politics magazine—not a blog, never call Agora a blog—so young, its eyes aren’t even open yet.
But it’s claws are already out and it’s more than ready to scrap.
Started by Sam Munson the nephew of second generation neo-Con ne’er-do-well John “Norman’s Son” Podhoretz, whose New York Post columns are the second funniest read in the paper after Garfield, Agora takes a cranky Nabokov quote at the top of its page as its mission statement:
Now I shall speak of evil as none has
Spoken before. I loathe such things as jazz;
Primitivist folk-masks; progressive schools;
Music in supermarkets; swimming pools;
Brutes, bores, class-conscious Philistines, Freud, Marx,
Fake thinkers, puffed-up poets, frauds and sharks
It’s all pretty much downhill from there.
Munson and his neonatal-Con pals (whom we’re breathlessly told include contributors to Modern Bride, writers for forthcoming issues of Commentary, graduate students, and a “civil servant in our nation’s capital”) have already brought their Rightward-slanted views on topics like overexposed literary hatchet-man and novelist Dale Peck (“Peck’s vision is just as blurry and sentimental as the cuddliest of NYT book reviewers…” You can also read about Peck on a thousand other Web sites since his Times Magazine profile.); Maureen Dowd ( “I think speak [sic.] for America when I say that the words ‘Maureen Dowd is on vacation’… give me mixed feelings. I want Maureen to spend some time in the sun and relax, mind you, but I’m not sure I know what’s going on, what’s happening, without Maureen.” Conservatives hate Dowd? No way!); the capture of Saddam Hussein (“We can only hope that he is not handed over to the Hague.” Yes, send him to Texas.); and the perennial Web joke about Louis Farrakhan’s Calypso-singing past (“Perhaps Louis Farrakhan has decided to follow in the footsteps of Cornel West and release another album..” Bank shot! Agora nailed Farrakhan and Cornel West!)
Do we need this? I mean, was the Web crying out for more Conservative culture vultures writing off the cuff? We’ve got the topper-most of the Conservative popper-most, David Brooks logging his ziggy-zaggy op-eds in The Times twice a week; there’s the very model of the (cable) modem major Conservative, Matt Drudge; The Weekly Standard‘s Matt LaBash, is frequently amusing; there’s National Review editorial mascot Jonah Goldberg who can occasionally be called on for a laugh; and for Conservatism with a side of fratboy-ish snark, the comments beside the links on Fark frequently make you laugh as you cringe. Forget what Ann Coulter, et. al. tell you: the Web is one medium that’s nothing if not a G.O.P. “big tent” full of snickering, sarcastic boys in Dockers and Oxford shirts bullshitting over Sam Adamses.
Frankly, the whole fun-lovin’ Republican thing only really works for Tom Wolfe, and to be honest, even his once impeccable shtick—along with his natty suits—is getting a little frayed around the edges.
But I guess this is inevitable. Every generation that duplicates its elders carries with it some generation loss. All Godfathers, it seems, beget profligate sons, and so too do razor-sharp chroniclers of Ex-Friends eventually give way to dull chroniclers of Friends.
It’s enough to make you want to move to the Right and start writing, if only to make the grandpa-Cons forget about these nattering nabobs of the ‘net and have something to be proud of when the annual family Christmas newsletter is sent out to Don and Joyce. But not this Christmas. Just tell ’em the nieces and nephews “live in the New York metro area and continue to write.” That sounds pretty good, Right?