When all is said and done, there are two types of men in this world. In one camp you have the kind who, when faced with criticism, will ably defend themselves, either through words or fists, or simply brush it off. In the other, you have the impotent little bitches. These are the ones who will immediately lose their cool and scream and shriek at you, their voices most likely cracking. Then they’ll throw coffee in your face, and chase you down the street. I’m not saying that Matt Taibbi is an impotent little bitch, but I am saying that this is apparently his chosen course of (re)action. If you want to come to the conclusion he’s an impotent little bitch, that’s your choice. From the latest Vanity Fair:
When I first contacted Taibbi for this story, he replied unenthusiastically. “Ugh. No way I can talk you out of this, huh?” he e-mailed. “In the end nobody really wants to read about a couple of overgrown suburban teenagers writing about anal sex and the clap and then calling themselves revolutionaries when some third-world dictator gets bored of letting them stay published.”
He then fell out of touch, re-emerged a month later, and agreed to meet me for lunch at a Manhattan restaurant. I arrived late, and he was visibly annoyed. There was no boyish smile. “I just don’t see why you’re doing this story,” he said. When I told him that Ames was now living in New York he grew more agitated. I mentioned some of the Exile pieces of his I planned to write about, and he said, “That was covered in the book.” I told him yes, that was true, but the book had been published in 2000, and, frankly, I didn’t think it was very good.
“The book wasn’t good?” he said.
“No, I didn’t think so,” I said.
“My book?” he said.
“Yes, the Exile book. I thought it was redundant and discursive and you guys left out a lot of the good stuff you did,” I said.
At this, Taibbi’s mouth turned down and his eyes narrowed.
“Fuck you,” he snarled, and then picked up his mug from the table, threw his coffee at me, and stormed out.
The restaurant was packed with customers, and they all turned to watch as I sat there, stunned, coffee dripping from my face. The waiter arrived with the milkshake Taibbi had ordered. After wiping myself off a bit, I went outside, where Taibbi was putting on his coat, and asked him to calm down and come back into the restaurant. He walked up to me, glaring, beside himself with rage.
“Fuck you!” he yelled. “Did you bring me here to insult me? Who are you? What have you ever written? Fuck you!”
I tried to talk to him, but gave up when he walked away. I went back inside, paid the bill, left, and began walking up Sixth Avenue. Halfway up the block, I turned around, and Taibbi was behind me.
“Are you following me?,” I asked. He walked toward me, raising his arms as though preparing to throttle me or take a swing.
“I still haven’t decided what I’m going to do with you!” he said.
“Are you kidding?,” I asked.
Taibbi-Cat wasn’t. But maybe this is an unfair anecdote to use in order to shed a little light on the boy who sits at his typewriter trying to come up with theories for how Goldman Sachs has been able to take over the world, then exclaims, “I’ve got it!” and furiously taps away that it all comes back to the chip Lloyd Blankfein had installed in his sack one night in the basement of the Federal Reserve. Here’s another one, involving MT storing horse semen in his fridge, and then throwing it in someone’s face.
Yet The Exile was too vitriolic to romanticize for long or to consult just its fans. And listening to the critics is too fun. They call Ames and Taibbi, singly or in combination, children, louts, misogynists, madmen, pigs, hypocrites, anarchists, fascists, racists, and fiends. According to Carol Williams, of the Los Angeles Times, “It seemed like a bunch of kids who’d somehow gotten funding for their own little newspaper.” A former New York Times Moscow-bureau chief, Michael Wines, offered a no-comment comment. “I think I’ll pass, thank you,” he e-mailed, “except to repeat what I said at the time, and what Shaw said a lot earlier: Never wrestle with a pig. You just get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”
Of course, a pig is probably not the farm animal that comes to Wines’s mind first when he’s reminded of The Exile. It was Wines, then the Times’s Moscow-bureau chief, who, having won The Exile’s coveted Worst Journalist in Russia March Madness contest in 2001, was typing in his office when Ames and Taibbi rushed in unannounced and, by way of congratulations, slammed a pie in his face. The pie was made with fresh vanilla cream, hand-puréed strawberry, and five ounces of horse semen…[which Taibbi had stored] in a special thermos in his refrigerator, where his poor girlfriend had to see it every morning.”
Lost In Exile [VF]