On Some Things I Will Miss About Brooklyn

@Chris Arnade@twitter “I originally had the 70s, but that wasn't quiet correct either, since a wave did come from Ukraine in 50s.”

Chris, I grew up there. My parents moved to the U.S. in the early 1960s. The neighborhood was simply a Yiddish working class enclave that had a mix of Irish & Hispanic folk as well. Not anything like the “Little Odessa” you describe. When the Soviet Jewry started to truly immigrate en masse in the 1970s, believe me we all knew. So forgive me, you are simply wrong.

Also—forgive me yet again—but your portrayal of small Orthodox Jewish kids being so isolated they would have no idea what baseball is sounds completely fabricated:

‘They children asked back, in unison, without irony, “What is baseball?”’

Baloney. Okay granted, perhaps these two specific kids did not know what baseball was. But I grew up as a secular Jew, interacted with Orthodox kids in various areas and there is one thing they absolutely DID know about. And that was baseball. Because a sport like that is considered to be a fun, clean & non-risky pastime for kids in those isolated communities to partake in. For example the reason there are Rabbi trading cards at Judaica stores is directly connected to the communities recognition of baseball as a “thing” that the kids like in their community.

The reality is I appreciate the pictures & the outsider exploration, but a lot of the rose colored prose connects to it reeks of “all too perfect” nonsense.

Have fun in New Paltz.

Posted on August 14, 2014 at 1:48 pm 0

On Some Things I Will Miss About Brooklyn

On Brighton Beach, “The Russian speakers who first settled in Brighton Beach—mostly Jewish refugees from Ukraine back in the nineteen fifties—couldn’t believe their luck.” 1950s? Holy shit is that wrong. 1,000,000% wrong. In the 1950s Brighton Beach was a predominantly Yiddish enclave filled with Holocaust survivors. More like the Lower East Side by the sea rather than Little Odessa. It was a classic old school NYC neighborhood back then.

The Russian presence in place now comes from the immigration of Soviet Jews in the 1970s (aka: Soviet Jewry) to the area. I know, I grew up there. And when the first Russian student came to elementary school when I was about 10 that was a big deal.

Which basically means, I appreciate the sentimentality of this piece, but getting a basic fact like that wrong reeks of someone creating a faux nostalgia without recognizing the true history of a place.

Posted on August 14, 2014 at 1:00 pm 0

On Porn Star Problems

@nutmegger How is that annoying or surprising? The whole tone of the piece is basically that annoyingly distanced edginess that pervades pretty much every one of these delusional “I am hot shit! I am moving to New York City! I am better than others! On no! Reality! Gah! I am a waitress!” stories.

The moment I realized that this piece was really not going to be sympathetic to “the other” was that long & drawn out description of the baby rat. And it being a painful catalyst for an awkward non-conversation.

Now someone please find the gal who starred in the online porn & see if she can write about it first person. Now that would be a story.

Posted on July 6, 2013 at 11:09 am 0

On Can You Construct A Functional Joke About A 9-Year-Old At The Oscars?

@My Number Is My Address Did you read what I wrote? I have no idea who wrote it, but Scott Dikkers—the founding editor of the publication & main creative force—is now VP of the publication & is publicly defending the joke. He is from Madison. He knows what the Onion “voice” is. There are other people from Madison who are still on the masthead despite the sturm und drang of the supposed “soul” of the paper leaving when the NYC offices were closed.

Posted on February 27, 2013 at 12:59 pm 0

On Can You Construct A Functional Joke About A 9-Year-Old At The Oscars?

@I Was There Ha, ha! “I was there!” So was I! I was there as well. Four Star Video Heaven! Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry! The “Shirt Stop” on State Street in Madison selling tons of Jim’s Journal stuff while giving out free onions (the vegetable) with each purchase.

But back on topic.

My apologies for thinking that Baratunde is gay. I will now state it clearly: I am sorry to have thought that guy was gay. MEA CULPA! Now, name one other African American or non-white employee “The Onion” ever had.

Now if you don’t mind me I’m going to walk across the street to the “State Street Arcade.” Dildos don’t sell themselves!

Posted on February 27, 2013 at 10:03 am 0

On Can You Construct A Functional Joke About A 9-Year-Old At The Oscars?

@Jocelyn Plums@twitter “Comedians like Lenny Bruce suffered immensely for the free speech rights we now take for granted.” Whenever I think about my freedom as a white man, I think of Lenny Bruce. Us white guys had it so hard back in the day.

Posted on February 26, 2013 at 7:24 pm 0

On Can You Construct A Functional Joke About A 9-Year-Old At The Oscars?

@Miranda K@twitter Say it out loud & think of each word as a letter of another word being spelled out phonetically. Yahtzee!

Posted on February 26, 2013 at 7:22 pm 0

On Can You Construct A Functional Joke About A 9-Year-Old At The Oscars?

@My Number Is My Address “Two different organizations…” Hahaha! You really have no idea what you are talking about right? Many of the veteran writers who were from Madison & moved to NYC refused to move to Chicago. Many of the newer writers from NYC who were trained by the veteran writers are in Chicago doing this work right now. Writers who are still in NYC may not be on staff, but many are still writing on a freelance basis from NYC. So that whole narrative of “The Onion losing it’s soul.” with the Chicago move is horesfeathers.

Also, Scott Dikkers—founding editor & now a VP of something at the company—has been there on and off for 25+ years & has basically non-apologized for this whole fiasco if you watch his interview made just yesterday.


So claiming that “the new guys” screwed this up is ridiculous. Maybe the pressure of a daily deadline—instead of a weekly update—is what tripped them up this time. But the Twitter joke is badly executed & is receiving the derision it deserves.

Also here is Onion CEO Steve Hannah talking about how they are expanding into social media more & more. Boy oh boy are they ever!


Posted on February 26, 2013 at 7:12 pm 0

On Can You Construct A Functional Joke About A 9-Year-Old At The Oscars?

@jfruh Hmmm. I dunno. My bad if I am wrong. But remove all my potentially gay references from my comment & he's still the first—and only—African American on staff in the publication's 25+ year history. Unless they found a new guy. The Onion is basically a staff of pudgy white male malcontents. Of course insulting a 9 year old African American girl for an incompetently executed joke would not fall on their radar.

Which basically is me saying: 25+ years of satire experience does not equate to this sheer stupidity of this tweet. It’s something you’d expect from someone who has no clue how to form a joke.

Posted on February 26, 2013 at 2:47 pm 0

On Can You Construct A Functional Joke About A 9-Year-Old At The Oscars?

Choire, your assessment is pretty spot on. But you miss another issue: When the Onion uprooted from New York & consolidated operations in Chicago the only African American who has ever been on staff in any capacity in the publication’s 25+ years of existence: Baratunde Thurston

And not only was he the only African American on staff, he was also openly gay. And now he’s gone. And now he has weighed in on the Onion Twitter fiasco:

“on @theonion tweet: extremely high risk move; missed target by WIDE margin; unnecessary; feel bad for Wallis; glad they removed. #bad”

Really mull on that: The only black gay guy on staff agrees the tweet was bad. In contrast piles of male, white comedy writers—including ex-Onion staffers—are simply saying, “Get over it.”

Posted on February 26, 2013 at 8:28 am 1