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Mickey Kaus’ Favorite Slate Story

The blogging pioneer remembers a 1999 satire of Kennedy remembrance.

Photo courtesy Mickey Kaus

Since our founding in 1996 (1996!), Slate has published tens of thousands of articles. We’ve asked a group of former Slate-sters to direct you to pieces they remember fondly from their time at the magazine.

In 1998, Mickey Kaus started writing Slate’s Chatterbox column. From 2002 to 2010, Kaus wrote Kausfiles, which was widely regarded as the first major political blog. Kaus, the author of The End of Equality, currently writes the KausFiles blog for Daily Caller.


My favorite Slate piece?

It was “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye.”

When John F. Kennedy Jr. died in a plane crash, people who knew him well and some who didn’t came forward with their recollections. We’re now used to these outpourings, but this was 1999, before Twitter and Facebook. Many of the “JFK Jr. I Knew” pieces seemed to have a mildly delusional, self-aggrandizing quality that reminded me of the character Charles Kinbote, in Nabokov’s Pale Fire, imagining his (in reality, nonexistent) relationship with a famous poet.


My friend Ellen Ladowsky (now Ellen Mezan) and I talked about producing a parody. I wrote a first draft, with some crude Kinbotic overtones, and sent it to Ellen, who if I remember right was at her mother’s house in Toronto. When I called her (I made phone calls back then) she said she was rushing out the door and didn’t really have any time but that I had it all wrong. “This is what it should say,” she insisted, and proceeded to rapidly dictate about six paragraphs before hanging up. I wrote it all down and had the good sense not to change a word.