Homo homini rodentius est

The Devil and Kurt Andersen

This takes the cake. Kurt “I’m Snarking as Fast as I Can” Andersen, soulless godfather to Gawker, Defamer, the perpetually former Radar et al, has penned [a wistful wish] that America may be (at last!) disavowing its obsession with vacuous celebrity culture. Well if that aint the pot calling the kettle beige…In his little missive, Andersen writes:

For years, I’ve thought that the intense fascination with famous people must be about to end—and I’ve been repeatedly, egregiously mistaken. But now—truly, finally—I believe that we are at the apogee, the zenith, the plateau, the top of the market. After 30 years, this cycle of American celebrity mania has peaked. I think. I hope.

This would just be the tired throwaway whining of a middle-aged scribe were it not dripping from the pen of the man who, with Graydon Carter, founded Spy magazine — the original snark infested pool of vacuous celebrity where such cultural luminaries as Donald Trump and Leona Helmsley jockeyed for ad pages with prattle about who was seen at what boring party.

What’s changed? Well, leave it to the palsied fingers that scratch out Gawker to dig up the dirt and give us a clue: awhile back they took a stab at their progenitor by pointing up a weird feature that appeared in Martha Stewart Living describing a picture-perfect upstate farm with a picture-perfect name Seeley Creek Farm. Too perfect by half — it was owned by Andersen, husband to MSL contributor Anne Kreamer. Life for Farmer Andersen and wifee was described in the New York Times thusly:

When Anne Kreamer and her husband, the writer Kurt Andersen, bought their weekend home in Dutchess County, the 18-acre farm came with some superannuated sheep, “way too old to breed,” according to the former owner, who asked that they be allowed to live out their waning years grazing on familiar land. Perhaps sensing that the new owners were nowhere near retirement themselves, the sheep promptly produced a lamb, delivered on Christmas Day.

Gag. Apparently life on Seeley Creek Farm wasn’t all that wonderful — the Andersens soon sold their little piece of heaven to another Manhattan farmer: art dealer Anton Kern. Chelsea art dealer, yet. But the attempt at an authentic life away from the rat race he’s done so much to chronicle says something.

In an [interview from 2003], Andersen shows a developing conservative bent, discussing his support for the war in Iraq and remarking on his contrarian politics. Contrary to what? Certainly not the rest of the country. No, contrary to his Manhattan milieu and, perhaps, his earlier self. The whinging about celebrity is part of that. One reads his statement “the jonesing for any speck of celebrity pixie dust can have a crack-whore quality” as an admission, of sorts. He wants to come clean. This is a man who hears the heavy sodden clomp of a cloven hoof outside the door and he wants to undo the deal before it’s too late.

Once upon a time there was a very bright young Harvard graduate, who moved to New York City and got into the magazine business. And then he spent the best years of his life not writing about AIDS, not writing about Republican corruption of the political system, not writing about social inequities. He spent his gifts writing about celebrities and media types and other famous people in the scene. People like him. And now, after having spoon-fed an entire generation of solipsistic young celebrity-hounds, he wants to forswear his contribution by decree.

Too late.

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