July 1, 2001


It's Spring 2001. The end of the party. When the best of the web - Feed and Suck - go into suspended animation, guess what old-economy publication keeps on going and going and going....

The Baffler fights fire with fire.

"The God That Sucked" -- Thomas Frank 
The editor of Baffler introduces the issue with a light piece that ties together the market crash, piety, politics, and Barbara Ehrenreich's latest book. In case you didn't know: "The market is a god that sucks". 

"The Rod of Correction" -- Clive Thompson
Clive Thompson, ex- of Shift Magazine, brings some CanCon to the Baffler with a caustic profile of Conrad "Tubby" Black. I think his assessment that Conrad uses his newspaper chain to expound anti-tax, pro-US sentiments that are not largely held by Canadians, is dead on. But perhaps Clive should have mentioned that he currently pens articles for Black's rival newspaper chain, The Globe and Mail. Clive has an article on sustainable energy in its most recent Report on Business Magazine.

"An Old Testament" -- Earl Shorris
It's not often you hear of one of the Jewish faith report on a Jewish Conspiracy. Earl Shorris wrote a book on neo-Conservative Jews and believes that there has been conspiracy of silence on the matter.

"The Eyes of Spiro Are Upon You - The Myth of the Liberal Media" -- Chris Lehmann 
I would have found this report on the historical origins of the "New Class" (otherwise known as the Liberal Media or Liberal Elite) enlightening had I not read about the same in Barbara Ehrenreich's Fear of Falling.

"Chicago '72: The Panthers, The Trib, and the Night My Dad's Yacht Got Hit By a Bus" -- John R. MacArthur
The publisher of Harper's Magazine contributes a a surreal episode from his youth.

"The Banality of Leisure" -- Karen Olsson
Olsson takes down the Wall Street Journal's Weekend Journal, which like many other newspapers (including my beloved Globe and Mail), now use journalists to cover the subject of "shopping". This is the indulgence police! Open up!

 "Fear and Loathing in a Silicon Boomtown" -- Martha Bridegam
More evidence that the .com bust produced civilian casualties. Another report on the swift and ruthless gentrification of San Francisco.

"Invisible Hand Job" -- Sandy Zipp
WIRED Magazine has always bragged that it is future forward. This was no more true when WIRED's IPO went bust in 1996; an event that in hindsight foretold the larger burst of the technology bubble in 2001. A temp who was there tells the tale and ties it with a review of Paulina Borsook's Cyberselfish: A Critical Romp through the Terribly Libertarian Culture of High Tech.

"The Poetry of Commerce" -- Minou Roufail
A scathing profile of art critic Dave Hickey. Hickey expounds "a vision of cultural renewal sparked by the forces of the free market". If you believe that Las Vegas is the epitome of democracy, then Hickey is your man. 

"The Mirror Myth" -- Jonathan Rosenbaum
The film critic for the Chicago Reader lays out some very good reasons why audience testing does not result in better movies. Includes an amazing quotation on the subject... from a 1947 article from Harper's Magazine.

"The Toys are Us" -- Matt Roth
Matt tries to convince the reader that the Toy Story series of movies contain eerie parables about New Economy America. A good idea stretched a little too thin.

"Death Travels West, Watch Him Go" -- Mike Newirth
A dark report on the gun industry.

"I'd Like to Force the World to Sing : The Making of a Yes Generation" -- Joshua Glenn
From the editor of Hermenaut, comes a conspiracy which is essentially this: Generation X + OK Cola = Generation Y. I prefer conspiracy theories that are more grounded in reality, myself. Did you know that there are allegations that Coca-Cola acted as front for the CIA?

"Tell it to the Temp: Behind the scenes of the listening corporation" -- Paul Maliszewski
I am not familiar with the company Penn Traffic, but according to Paul, neither are its executives.


Or are you one of those who cry, How dare Baffler snipe from the sidelines, safe from doing real battle? 

These people are ready to grumble at every boon conferred on them, and yet to enjoy every boon. They know, too, their privileges and, after a fashion, understand their position. It is picturesque, and it pleases them. To have always been in the right, and yet always on the losing side; always being ruined, always under prosecution from a wild spirit of republic-demagogism - and yet never to loses anything, not even position or public esteem, is pleasant enough. A huge, living, daily increasing grievance that does no palpable harm, is the happiest possession that a man can have.

-Anthony Trollope, 1878

That quote opened this issue of The Baffler. There is a difference between being self-aware and being ironic. I think The Baffler is one of the few publications that is aware of this difference.

This is ironic:

Number of times Barbara Ehrenreich mentioned in this issue: 3
Number of times Joey Anuff mentioned: 1