Letter to the Editor

The Cause Eric AltermanI always look forward to Fridays, for many reasons, but especially because Eric Alterman releases his blog post that day where he also has at least one of his own articles and one by Reed Richardson. Last week, I clicked over to The Nation where Alterman keeps his blog, Altercation, and… Nothing! I knew he wasn’t gone for good; he’s an institution: a liberal curmudgeon—and so precocious! He just published The Cuase: The Fight for American Liberalism from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama,[1] which I have, but haven’t gotten to because I am too busy devouring Michelle Alexander’s important The New Jim Crow and I got sidetracked reading some policy candy that I promised myself I wouldn’t read: Paul Krugman’s End This Depression Now!

So I figured that maybe Alterman took the week off. This did not stop me, however, from clicking to The Nation on Saturday morning, only to find his new page was up. I was so giddy that I sent off the following missive that he published this week:

“Wehw!” I said, wiping the sweat from my brow with the back of my hand.

“When you weren’t here on Friday, I thought you had abandoned me!”

“No grasshopper,” Eric Alterman said. “I would never abandon my reading public.”

“Even for a book tour?” I asked.

“Even for a book tour,” he said.

And all was calm.

Alterman appears to like my sense of humor, because this is the second cheeky letter of mine he’s published this year. Or it could be that I’m the only one who writes to him. I like this approach to commenting on written works. The standard method in the blogosphere of everyone with an opinion piling on strikes me as largely a waste of time. The few good comments are overwhelmed in a sea of trash. I would rather go back to the old magazine model where only the few letters deemed worth while are published so that a reasonable number of people would actually take the time to read them. I understand that there is a strong narcissistic aspect to commenting (or writing) in any way. But in the new model, it seems worse because it is so much more useless.

[1] The book is co-written with Kevin Mattson. According to Eric Alterman, Mattson wrote the first draft and Alterman greatly expanded it and wrote every word in this version. My question: why when Alterman does this, he’s the first author in a larger font and when I do it, I’m handed a bit of cash and told to disappear?