An Open Cover Letter To the Editors of The Paris Review

Dear Sirs/Madames:
I was sorry to hear about the recent loss of your editor, Brigid Hughes. All consolations aside, may I suggest my own editorial services to the rescue?
Much like your former editor George Plimpton, my many urbane acquaintances would describe me as possessing the bonhomie and ruddy good cheer of any chronic tippler, whilst still maintaining adequate compos mentis to run the football pool on a Sunday afternoon.
Unlike Mr. Plimpton, however, who forever played the “professional amateur,” I am a “consummate professional.” Could Mr. Plimpton program basic HTML? I can. Did he boast a proficiency in Excel Spreadsheets and the rest of the Microsoft Office suite? I boast. And I can safely assume that my WPM’s far outstrip Mr. Plimpton on even his best days.
To put it bluntly – I am not possessed of the terminal wanderlust that so plagued Mr. Plimpton. Nor do I possess any aspirations to play the jack-off-of-all-trades: I have no interest in getting in the ring with Archie Moore. I have neither the interest nor the talent to write the Great American Oral Biography. In short I have few, if any, interests – a valuable asset when it comes time to meet the bruising deadlines of a literary quarterly.
If and when I do pursue my acting career, I will serve as a far better representative for The Paris Review than Mr. Plimpton did in the failed Tom Hanks vehicle Volunteers.
When I served as Editorial Intern for Harper’s in the summer of ’97, my dedication to fact-checking the trademarked Index was responsible for the eventual publication of several scathing statistics that concerned federal budget allocations. My recent experience in posting to low culture has presumably prepared me for other things, things of which Mr. Plimpton could only have dreamed. Did Mr. Plimpton post to low culture? I’m fairly certain he didn’t.
As for meeting (and exceeding) the qualifications of your most recent editor, let’s just put it this way: I can urinate standing up.
I am available to move into Mr. Plimpton’s apartment effective March first (when my sublet ends). I look forward to speaking with you about this opportunity.
Guy Cimbalo


The Inevitable Johnny Carson Post

theres_johnny.jpgExcerpted from “The Tonight Show,” September, 1991, on the occasion of the Soviet Republics’ movement toward independence:

To me, democracy means placing trust in the little guy, giving the fruits of nationhood to those who built the nation…Democracy is people of all races, colors, and creeds united by a single dream: to get rich and move to the suburbs away from people of all races, colors, and creeds.
Democracy is buying a big house you can’t afford with money you don’t have to impress people you wish were dead. And, unlike Communism, democracy does not mean having just one ineffective political party; it means having two ineffective political parties. Democracy means freedom of sexual choice between any two consenting adults; Utopia means freedom of choice between three or more consenting adults. But I digress.
Democracy is welcoming people from other lands, and giving them something to hold onto — usually a mop or a leaf blower. It means that with proper timing and scrupulous bookkeeping, anyone can die owing the government a huge amount of money.
Yes, democracy means fighting every day for what you deserve, and fighting even harder to keep other, weaker people from getting what they deserve. Democracy means never having the Secret Police show up at your door. Of course, it also means never having the cable guy show up at your door. It’s a tradeoff. Democracy means free television. Not good television, but free.
And finally, democracy is the eagle on the back of a dollar bill, with 13 arrows in one claw, 13 leaves on a branch, 13 tail feathers, and 13 stars over its head–this signifies that when the white man came to this country, it was bad luck for the Indians, bad luck for the trees, bad luck for the wildlife, and lights out for the American eagle.


Such a Little Trooper

Dying on the Inside: John Kerry with Max Baucus, Jan. 20, 2005 (via, AP).
Always a bridesmaid


Cliffhanger in Op-Ed Land

From Bush’s ‘Freedom Speech’, by William Safire, The New York Times, Jan. 21, 2005:

On his way out of the first Cabinet meeting after his re-election, President Bush gave his longtime chief speechwriter the theme for the second Inaugural Address: “I want this to be the freedom speech.”

In the next month, the writer, Michael Gerson, had a heart attack.


With two stents in his arteries, the recovering writer received a call from a president who was careful not to apply any deadline pressure. “I’m not calling to see if the inaugural speech is O.K.,” Bush said. “I’m calling to see if the guy writing the inaugural speech is O.K.”


“Cool Mom” Accused of Being “Really, Really Cool Mom”

“A 40-year-old woman faces charges of sexual assault and contributing to the delinquency of a minor for allegedly supplying drugs and alcohol to high school boys and having sex with some of them.
“Sylvia Johnson, 40, told police she wanted to be a ‘cool mom,’ according to an arrest affidavit…”
‘Cool Mom’ Threw Sex Parties for Boys, AP, Jan. 21, 2005.


Can’t We Just Agree on an Approach?



Inauguration 2005: America’s Elderly Reflect on Our 43rd Whippersnapper

Highlights from “Americans View Bush Speech Differently”, by Angie Wagner for the Associated Press, in which a wide swath of senior citizens’ opinions are made available.
First up is Jim Swafford, 62, of Nashville, Tennessee, who sounds a bit, well, focused on the issues. Or at least one issue. One very closely guarded, paranoid issue.

“He’s trying to take my Social Security away from me, and he’s lying about it,” said Swafford, a semiretired owner of a hair salon. “I don’t like to listen to him anymore than I have to to find out what he’s trying to take away from me.”

How about an overarching sense of relativism?

In Rio Rancho, N.M., Bush’s speech was on in the cozy recreation room of the Harmony House Residential Senior Living Home. Phyllis Cline sat smiling in her wheelchair, excited she made it back from a doctor’s appointment just in time.

Or denial? Nihilism? The sense you’re going to die soon?

Joan Keck, 72, wasn’t having any of it.
“I’d rather sit and read this book about cats than listen to this,” said Keck, gesturing to her book. “I could truly care less.”


The way to a woman’s heart is through the manipulation of her nation’s voters



Super-Fun Friday Photo Caption Contest*

How to Enter: Using the ‘comments’ area, enter your best caption to the above photo (via AP).
Prize: The best caption, as chosen by the editors of this site, will be posted on the main page.
Rules: Enter as often as you like. No libel, etc.
* low culture cannot guarantee that you have “super-fun”.


A Series of Unfortunate Metaphors

A Different Fire: An Iraqi man injured in a Baghdad car bombing, Jan. 21, 2005 (via AP)
“By our efforts, we have lit a fire as well – a fire in the minds of men. It warms those who feel its power, it burns those who fight its progress, and one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world.”
– George W. Bush, Inaugural Address, Jan. 20, 2005
Related: 14 Killed In Explosion Near Baghdad Mosque, ABC News, Jan. 21, 2005