In your grim Thursday media column: Pigs nab Gessen, newspaper layoffs, newspapers sales, overall newspaper desperation, the real issues in OWS coverage, and Fleshbot could be yours!
Oy, chto budet! Sad young literary novelist Keith "Konstya" Gessen, self-exiled to his motherland of Russia, usually confines his rantings to n+1, little-read novels that we make fun of, and his Tumblr. But today, he wrote a Diary column about how the financial crisis is affecting Russia for the London Review of Books. And guess what—we can't even tease him for being pompous and self-important, as is the custom, because we know nothing about how the financial crisis affects Russia. So! We'll publish an excerpt, snark-free, because although we might have an understanding of advanced capitalism as it relates to blog networks or diminished tipping at strip clubs and dive bars, we have no idea about the ruble. Keith, consider this your lucky day.
A reader asks, "Emily Gould and Keith Gessen—are they back together?" Emily Gould is a former editor of Gawker who wrote a cover story for The New York Times Magazine about working at Gawker and dating a different Gawker editor who wrote a Page Six Magazine story about dating her. Then she started dating Keith Gessen, whom she'd written about, somewhat critically, on Gawker. Gessen is a novelist who co-founded a literary journal called n+1 and wrote a novel about being a dude named Keith who went to Harvard, like Keith Gessen. The journal and the novel are the Most Important Journal and Novel of Our Time, respectively. They dated, and then they broke up, and then Keith went to Russia, and we stopped writing about both of them, mostly. But apparently you, the readers, demand to know what's up! Here is THE SCOOP: Emily went to visit Keith in Russia. She stayed a month. Now she's back in New York. We suppose that sort of counts as "back together" except now, obviously, they are thousands of miles apart, again. (The kitten we got Keith that he couldn't take because he was going to Russia did find a home.) The End.
The spectacle of a slighted novelist going on a gossip blog and defending themselves in the comments—then starting a nutty Tumblr and throwing a "Take Back the Internet" party—is now referred to as the "Gessen Method" by a Texas publication. They're referring to n+1 editor and first-time novelist Keith Gessen. He has now been branded—much to his chagrin, we're sure—not as the next young literary man but "is an icon—a symbol—a cautionary tale about Internet conflict and the way we deal with it."
The highbrow low-pay publishing community has long suffered from a startling male-female attractiveness imbalance exemplified by the case of that American Apparel modeling Paris Review intern. I mean, if Jessica Roy was ever right about anything, it is that.* But for its work righting the prettiness gap perhaps we owe a debt of "gratitude" to the most important literary journal of our time, N+1, whose founding editors Keith Gessen and Benjamin Kunkel are not only decidedly conventionally attractive but extra reviled on the basis of that fact. And as the Observer noticed today, N+1 is now employing male contributor Wesley Yang (and his wavy hair I will refrain from calling a "mane") in the new capacity of T-shirt pitchman. Yang, you might recall if you are one of N+1's numerous readers, originally ascended to literary microfame in a piece in the last issue about how he related to Virginia Tech school shooter Seung Hui-Cho for feeling fundamentally "unlovable."Look, at some point I actually scanned in the good parts.
Do you live in one of those "second-tier" cities that seems woefully bereft of despicable and/or overprivileged and whatever the case self-promoting social climbing youngs? Ever find yourself reading, say, a blog…and feeling just a twinge or a pang or whatever of envy for New York's thriving industry of microcelebrity manufacture? [JUST SAY NO.] But Kate Carraway, a writer in Toronto reflecting on that lofty matter of Jessica Roy, actually claims she does. "We have no Julia Allison, the current Wired cover star, and centre of much debate on media celebrity; no Sloane Crossley…" [sic] she laments. Nor do they have a Keith Gessen nor an Emily Gould nor even much, like, blow! "The NY media circus is ordered and replenished by an anxious, aggressive, semi-twisted sense of value, but value nonetheless," she writes, calling for "a collective pursuit of something better and more worthwhile." Well, Kate Carraway, if this is what you deem "better and more worthwhile," allow me to get service-y with you for a minute and and share with you an abridged and hastily-told tale of a group of anxious, semi-twisted twentysomethings who tried to do exactly what you aspire to do in their own "lesser" city.
Hey there, proud parents of exceptional teens, you can end your search for a learning experience that does justice to your child's special gifts RIGHT NOW because the new US News & World Report is up on the internet and they've found the place: Harvard University! And just how did the trusty trustees of Cambridge manage to nab the top spot away from Her RoyalHighness Academy Princeton* — on that shoestring endowment of theirs? The answer will enliven your loamy loins!By reducing average class size! Now a full 3/4 of Harvard undergraduate classes have fewer than 20 students. And you know what that means: more classes taught in intimate settings by younger instructors no doubt hungrier for brain sex. (I have anecdotal evidence of this, even. Earlier this year I met a young aspiring journalist from Harvard named Lena Chen, and she was traveling [to Julia Allison's house, in fact!] with an ex-teaching assistant in tow. I am pretty sure they were having traditional non-brain sex!) Now that you know that here is some information: it is the 25th anniversary of the journalism world's most pointlessly controversial listicle and still I am pretty sure Gawker has done the only actually funny (and crowdsourced) alternative ranking. Internet people, please put rub your A+ school for B student educated brains together and think us up a new concept. Unsafest Safety Schools? Fairly ridiculous names? *Ahem, Princeton would like you to know they still hold the top spot in several categories of the Princeton Review and also are beloved by Black Enterprise magazine despite that angry thesis penned by that alumni association Judas Michelle Obama. Vote For America's Most Annoying Liberal Arts College College & University Rankings Library Eating And Shopping In Cambridge [WWD] Campus Squirrel Listings
The first time Young Manhattanite asked All the Sad Young Literary Men novelist Keith Gessen for an interview, it didn't go so well. "You pussy," the n+1 editor responded in an epic fail of keeping his cool. ("That's pathetic," he responded when we asked him to explain.) But it looks like they've kissed and made up—or maybe Gessen is just wanting to promote his reading tonight—because ol' Keith has agreed to an e-mail Q&A. He's moving back to Russia! Other revelations:Paraphrased: Everyone is wrong, nobody understands, especially in how they interpret his book, people like us misconstrue things, not that they've read it (even though I have, several times); but anyway, "I think I've said this before but it bears repeating, the book I wrote, and the work I do in general, it's meant for a large audience." Neg! (Even though only about 7,500 copies are distributed of each issue of n+1.)
"What could be better than TV that was also art?" asked novelist/Brooklyn Literary 100 member Keith Gessen in a recent Tumblr post with some entirely different context. Anyway, I couldn't agree more! Which (I think) is why I jotted down this pitch for a Gessen-helmed, Project Runway-inspired reality TV pitch a couple of weeks ago one day following one of those lunches at Balthazar during which Nick Denton remarked saliently, "Who'd have guessed Keith Gessen would be the new Julia Allison?" Inspired by the Jessica Roy matter, which made me want to quit this whole business and cash out (in Euros, pref!) with one of those genius business ideas I'm always having! Except that, um, there are like 10 people who will appreciate this business idea and they don't watch reality TV shows because the Gawker video department clips them already! So herewith, the pitch. Comment on his Tumblr if you're interested in producing it, Bravo! (Disclaimer: it is no "realer" than "reality TV"!)TV PITCH ****AMERICAN PRETENSE***** THE PREMISE: As the alarming, poignant Matter of Jessica Roy recently reminded the world, thousands of girls (or at least probably a thousand girls!) all across America dream of literary ingenueship in New York City. There's no money in it of course, but the romance! The richness. Pathos. And bathos! (Haha, Glamour…and Grammar!) Okay, so: It's an elimination-based competition show in which 10 photogenic 18-24-year-old females (yes, just females, blame affirmative action or something) cast as interns for N+1, the most important literary magazine of our time, compete for the chance to be…nominally paid interns? Token female contributing editors? Unclear. Wait, that's the gimmick! It's a SATIRE, of the conventional reality show PRETENSE that creative fields actually lead you to security/success/fulfillment! THE MARKET: American Pretense will be the most laserlike television target yet at the "Everyone I know in the New York Media seems to be watching this show nobody is actually watching which is why the media keeps laying people off so in five years if I have not been laid off from my media job and quit for the Peace Corps and/or pharma sales referencing this show will be one of those cultish rituals in which I engage so as to act as if New York Media cultural currency was not actually the worst investment since the Indonesian rupiah" psychographic that has made "Gossip Girl" such a valuable brand. Liberal use of sponsors, online component and free labor solicited by various proprietary email lists to offset production costs. (Obvs.) GESSEN: Gessen is this show's CHIEF JUDGER NURTURER DIPLOMAT. Like Tim Gunn/Ryan Seacrest with a dash of Trump. He will introduce the show, offer tips and critiques interspersed with pieces of wisdom he wished he had known when he occupied the 18-24 demographic. PANEL OF JUDGES: JUDGES are the crucial element that makes a voyeuristic treatlet into a FRANCHISE. Important to cull panel from three universes: PUBLIC INTELLECTUAL WITH LITERARY MERIT (Hitchens as Simon Cowell figure)…Has-been female with drugs (Wurtzel) … and a few new unknown but Googlable bad cop/villain types. (Like I have seen this guy around!) CHALLENGES: This is still sketchy. Because you shouldn't really be able to read/pontificate/frantically Wikipedia literary references you missed, and act out the Hobbsean histrionics that make for good reality television, simultaneously, and yet I somehow have a feeling you can! Like that guy on Project Runway who got kicked off for hoarding pattern books…we could have something like that happen here, like an Orwellian "no books on penalty of excommunication" policy that no one can, by the other requirements of the show, actually follow, and on that note, maybe the consequence of breaking rules, or losing individual challenges should actually be the opposite of elimination. You have to stick around forever like in that play! Maybe the biggest losers will mobilize to start a class struggle? (No of course not duh! They will discover some obscure post-structuralist theorist who restores their self-esteem or go into private equity or something.) Other ideas: *Competition to get the words "Mark Sarvas sucks cock" somehow published on McSweeney's website. *Competition to get semi-famous rapper to write (publishable!) letter to N+1 website. *Competition to convince minor literary celebrities to attend an official N+1 pizza party in Brooklyn and/or Foreign Policy-ranked public intellectuals to attend a loft party in the West Village. (The WINNER, though, gets Steven Pinker to the pizza party and sneaks some into the fancy loft party, right?) MAKEOVER ELEMENT: Obviously a slight makeover ("makeunder"?) element is involved, but will have to tread lightly w/r/t corporate sponsors so as not to pollute the N+1 brand. Ideas?
Here's Rex Sorgatz's video of various people reading from the de-Harvardized copy of tortured soul Keith Gessen's All The Sad Young Literary Men. It was shot largely in the Gawker offices! And it involves such noted internet personalities as Andrew Krucoff, Choire Sicha, Julia Allison, Alex Pareene, Rachel Sklar — the d-list goes on and on. You'll either find it entertaining and funny (I did!) or feel like you need a decoder ring. A cheat sheet to the best moments is after the jump, if you want all the surprises spoiled, along with an update on the status of the modified All The Sad Young Literary Men, now an official literary hot potato.
Ladies and gentlemen, the proud new owner of the FSU Middlebrow Remix Version of Keith Gessen's All The Sad Young Literary Men is Andrew Krucoff-the former "Gawker Mascot" once fired by Conde Nast for leaking to this website. He was also recently called a "pussy" by the author in question, Keith Gessen! You can see the circle of life turning, turning. So what will become of this coveted and (we daresay) historic volume? All can now be revealed:
Michael Ian Black, comedian and VH1's go-to analyst of pop culture, has started an online feud with testosterone and beer-fueled guy blogger Tucker Max. Black challenged Tucker to a fight, Tucker accepted, and now they are both talking trash in a way advantageous to the promotion of Black's new book. This would all be cuter if Black didn't just try to start another online feud with David Sedaris, to promote the same book. These online publicity stunts are incredibly difficult to pull off without being annoying; below, a jaded look back at five that sucked the big one: