Homo homini rodentius est

Gawker Deathwatch, everything old is new again!

Well, after getting all [high and mighty] in my end of the year post and resolving not to spend any more time commenting on soul-deadening sites like Gawker — I’m back at it (I’m also smoking too much). Acting just like [a real media company], Gawker Media last week lopped off the head of its latest editor in its fifth shake up in four years, according to the venerable [Wall Street Journal]. In hopes of reviving stagnant or declining audience reach numbers (see below), they are bringing back a veteran of the snark wars, Choire Sicha, who jumped ship a few years ago for a job at the New York Observer. Well, at least Sicha has a sensibility.

Still, their moment may have passed. It surely must sting publisher Denton to read about the competition closing [big TV deals] and even modestly talented bloggers like ZeFrank taking [power lunches] with Jeffrey Katzenberg — as poor Gawker hunches over the bar, nursing its Cosmo and softly humming Amazing Grace while thinking with sepia-toned nostalgia of the day Gawker Stalker launched. Why, if I wasn’t a dessicated old wheezebag, I could almost cry.

If it’s any comfort, they’re still doing much better than Radar…

Who’s Laughing Now?

When I was a wee thing — a mere micronaut — I got the idea into my head to be a writer. Not just any kind of writer but a successful writer. And the idea I came up with for my first published opus would be an article about the meaning of success itself! I would write to famous successful people and ask them to tell me their definition of success. Seemed sure fire — the article would practically write itself and I would learn some important tips to use in my own climb toward the heights. Reader’s Digest here I come! Pulitzer? Why yes, thank you.

So I sat down and wrote to about 200 people and asked them what success meant to them. The list was quite inclusive and included the first man to set foot on the moon, the mother of a murdered president, a physician who rid the world of polio, actors, politicians, athletes and other writers (like me). Of course most never responded, but some were very kind and did. Among them, Charles M. Schulz told me that success meant not having to dread getting up every morning. George Burns said that success meant being able to smoke as many cigars as he wanted without having to worry about how to pay for them and Lowell Thomas said the trick to a successful life was to marry the boss’s daughter. Hmm. Then there was Art Buchwald, who took the time it would have taken to give me what I wanted to write a snarky excuse for not giving me what I wanted. You can see the actual letter after the jump. Even then I thought it kind of harsh to use the opportunity to riff on a kid.

And now he’s dead.

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Short Bites

Stem Cell Discovery Changes Debate
Embryos the world over heaved a sigh of relief today at the news that scientists at Harvard and Wake Forest University have [found a way] to harvest stem cells from amniotic fluid and afterbirth. This discovery looks to vitiate conservative resistance to stem cell research and neutralize the rancorous debate about use of embryos. But maybe the conservatives were right to hold out. Where was information about this research (which has been going on for years) during the fevered debates of the last election? And let’s hear from the proponents of embryonic research, now that their approach suddenly doesn’t look so vital to the development of this technology.

New Madonna Takes Swing at Old Madonna
Someone should tell [Angelina Jolie] that it’s not nice to beat up on your elders. Oh, wait, this is Madonna we’re talking about. Take ‘er down, Angie! Jolie [calls out] the Immaterial Girl over her [dodgy adoption]. Shall we start the Ritchie Divorce Countdown yet?

Same Old Song
USA Today charts [the declining fortunes] of the American music industry — the days of monster albums that defined the shared musical experience of a generation are over, they list the biggest selling album of 2006 as Disney dreck pitched to ‘tweens. The rest of the list of best sellers is a meaningless mix of country (laggards in the adoption of digital downloads?) and TV-hyped pop. Digital downloads of singles continued to soar, but there is some evidence that sales [might be plateauing]. With the old business model dead and the channel used to develop audiences for new artists falling apart, are we doomed to see more Disney at the top of the charts?

“This Coffee Tastes Like Shit!”
[For good reason…]

End of The World

Washington Square. January 6, 2007 2pm

The temperature hit 72° in the city today, making this the warmest January day ever in New York. The government [blames it] on El Niño, but also acknowledges a ten-year warming trend.

We are so fucked. But ain’t this weather great?

A Year in the Life of A Rat

‘Tis the season for taking stock, looking back and finding any lessons to be learned from events of the previous year. A tired convention to be sure, but it can be fun and — as a matter of pure practicality — it’s an easy piece to write when one is dragging with slothful indolence from the excesses of Christmas toward the alcoholic decrepitude of New Year’s. The colorful, albeit brief history of this blog might be of interest to others engaged in similar pursuits, or internet historians or, most probably, just me. At any rate, here’s the Diary of a Rat review…

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