Ben Smith Resolves Longstanding Conflict of Interest
Norman Mailer Still Dead
Norman Mailer was dead: to begin with. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate. Yesterday in The Ankler Michael Wolff wrote a nearly unreadable post about Random House declining to publish a collection of old political essays by the now largely unread manosphere blogger Norman Mailer who, as I mentioned, is dead. Before dying (which he did in 2007, at the end of his life) Mailer lived in a state of perpetual cancellation through six marriages and innumerable affairs, arguments, and fistfights. Nevertheless, according to Wolff:
The back-door apologies at Random House include as the proximate cause — you hardly have to look hard in Mailer’s work to find offenses against contemporary doctrine and respectability — a junior staffer’s objection to the title of Mailer’s 1957 essay, “The White Negro”, a psycho-sexual-druggie precursor and model for much of the psycho-sexual-druggie literature that became popular in the 1960s.
That’s not even the worst sentence in the piece, which reads like a first draft yelled into voice notes by a Boomer absolutely wrecked on DMT. The book project’s cancellation is imputed first to the mythical “junior staffer” who purportedly objected to what Wikipedia calls Mailer’s “most famous and reprinted” essay, and later to "the objections of feminist and cultural gadfly Roxane Gay.” But not the real human feminist and cultural gadfly Roxane Gay, just a “generic [Roxane Gay] type of objector,” which is literally a Bojack Horseman joke.
The actual feminist and cultural gadfly Roxane Gay is quoted in the piece saying “lol Norman who?” and indeed it’s hard to imagine anyone except Joyce Carol Oates who would care either way whether a collection of Mailer’s old essays was published now. And that suggests the real answer to this mystery, which Wolff is desperately horny to spin up into a new literary cancellation. “Confounding how many GenX journos I'm hearing from who have not read Norman Mailer (ever! nothing!)” Wolff tweeted, and since the youngest Gen Xers are now in our forties and Mailer hasn’t started trending on TikTok yet, I have to wonder if someone at Random House realized Joyce Carol Oates already owns all of Mailer’s books and decided it was time to invent a woke junior staffer.
In conclusion, Norman Mailer stabbed his wife and he doesn’t care if you cancel him because he is dead.
Ben Smith has resolved the longstanding conflict between holding stock in BuzzFeed and being the New York Times’s media columnist by telling the Times and all of its non-college-educated dumbshit readers to suck it as he forms a Voltron of Media Smiths with former Bloomberg Chief Executive Justin “No Relation” Smith. They plan to address the “market of 200 million college-educated, English-speaking professionals throughout the world” that are apparently not already being served by The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal or Bloomberg or Axios or Insider or The Washington Post or The Associated Press or Deutsche Welle or BBC News or Al Jazeera, with an innovative business plan that:
…includ[es] selling digital subscriptions and advertising, as well as events, Mr. Bradley said. The venture, which is being developed under the working title “Project Coda,” is expected to feature a variety of platforms including digital publishing, email newsletters, podcasts and digital video, Mr. Bradley said.
Congratulations to them both, it will attract hundreds of millions in funding and SPAC within a decade.
Wired’s new editor in chief “Gordon” Lichfield announced that the illustrious 120 year old “bible of techno-utopianism” will update its editorial stance from:
New QT ratio achieved. Elizabeth Holmes guilty, “Blood Unicorn” slain. The genuinely heartwarming story of a good samaritan saving a life. Hopefully neither will turn out to be Nazis. OTR reports that in the Times Slack, only managers can speak while workers are forced to mime their opinions with reacji. At least Ben Smith can finally join. Emoji to scale. “Hoss the Ohio human hairball is now officially the world's largest ball of hair.” Congrats, Hoss.
Finally today we are gifted with not one but two excellent #longreads. First is Ryan Katz in The New Yorker with “The Long Afterlife of a Terrible Crime,” about the McCrary-Taylor family murders, and a defunct podcast website comment forum that brought together the descendants of both the killers and the victims.
And in The NY Times Magazine, Elizabeth Weil wrote about what it’s like to live in a California that’s always on fire now, but also about how all of us, Californian or not, are:
“trans-apocalyptic.” We’re in the middle of an ongoing crisis, or really a linked series of crises, and we need to learn to be “native to now.” Our lives are going to become — or, really, they already are (the desire to keep talking about the present as the future is intense) — defined by “constant engagement with ecological realities,” floods, dry wells, fires. And there’s no opting out. What does that even mean?
This makes it sound like a huge downer, which it is, but it’s also weirdly optimistic in a “here we are and we’re going to have to deal with this” kind of way.
Today’s Song: Revolting Cocks, “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?”
~ a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old tabber ~
It’s still a good day to quit! But if you need more specific advice than that, Heather and I can squeeze in one more question for January’s advice column. Email me and put “advice” in the subject. Also please subscribe, both to read that column and to help offset the January drain of expiring year-one subscribers. I have no comment on the rumors.