The Breakfast Table

Think Thin

Dear Lisa–

We do share the same agent! But shhh–let’s keep this whole thing between us and maybe we can stiff him on the usual 10 percent. And in answer to your question, no he didn’t get me this gig. I have no idea how I got it, frankly, but a word to the wise: Michael Kinsley will do anything for a plate of sushi. And come to think, he’s single!

Thanks for the welcome update on the New Yorker, etc. I don’t have much time for unpaid reading these days, and what with the twins, I can’t concentrate anyway. When we finally got the guys to bed last night (Satan’s emissaries is my loving nickname for them), I picked up a copy of Marie Claire my wife had got because she’s thinking of changing her hairstyle. Have you ever seen this thing?! I thought it had to be some kind of parody at first, and a really good one, too. Then it dawned: Some people really do live on pretzels and oranges! ESPN sportscasters really are good judges of celebrity babe makeovers! And all that great advice! I’ve been bogged down in the Grand Inquisitor section of The Brothers Karamazov for months, but when I get a minute I’m studying “The Real McBeal: 5 female lawyers”–in really short skirts–“talk about how their career, love life (and wardrobe) compare with TV’s most neurotic working woman.” There’s even a useful item called “How They Got the Sex They Wanted,” in which someone from MTV assesses what “three famous TV couples do to get past the sexual tension and land in bed.” The expert’s analysis of a couple on Friends: “Carolla sees codependency, not a real relationship.” I can claim a higher purpose, however, which is research for Slate. Reading Marie Claire leads to the following baseless generalization: Women’s magazines manufacture anorexics as effectively as government manufactures Republicans. Just visit a big city post office and tell me how good you feel about government afterwards.

Speaking of the GOP, the papers today go on and on about the House Judiciary Committee. I don’t wanna dwell on the whole Lewinsky business this morning. We aren’t even talking about what the Serbians are doing, after all. But what puzzles me is how the Republicans got here, if you know what I mean. I just reviewed a new biography of William Lloyd Garrison (Nick von Hoffman’s line on reviewing: “It’s great–get $100 and make an enemy!”) and it’s clear that, leading up to the Civil War, the Republican Party was more or less the party of conscience. It was those damned Democrats who supported slavery. The Republican Party was not the party of big business, Christian fundamentalism, and naked cynicism. It was where you went when you had been despairing of the electoral system and wanted somehow to eradicate the evil of human bondage. I guess the GOP has always been the party of religious fervor, except now it’s not harnessed in opposition to slavery but in pursuit of some insane inquisitorial subversion of the electoral process. Good grief, what a mess. If only the President had spent more time reading Marie Claire!