50 Most Loathsome New Yorkers

The New York Press has just published a list of “The 50 Most Loathsome New Yorkers.” Now, this is what I call service journalism. The list misses as often as it hits, but at its best, it’s an exemplar of something that is pretty much absent from our craven, celebrity-and-power-obsessed media: Sharp, funny writing that calls a spade a spade. An example:

17: Bob Kerrey, President, New School
When the bug-eyed former senator and current New School prez got word that the New York Times was about to publish an article asserting his involvement in a massacre of Vietnamese civilians in 1969, he came forward a few days ahead of time to give his own version of the story—and was immediately applauded for his courage in facing up to his “painful” past despite the fact that 1) he’d sat on the story for 32 years and 2) the real pain was on the other side of the machine gun. Kerrey is the face of that bloated, self-centered, delusional America that somehow still manages to see itself as the victim in Vietnam—as though its pseudo-literary “loss of innocence” and, in this case, ruined political prospects, somehow compare to two million actual dead people and a mine-strewn countryside of ravaged moonscapes.

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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