By Bruce B. Brugmann
Hurray for Dan Savage, the gay sex columnist for the l7 Village Voice/New Times papers in major markets with major battleground races for the election.
Savage performed heroically under fire and managed to get some key election endorsements into the second to last paragraph of his syndicated sex column in the crucial issue before one of the most important elections in modern history, a plebescite on Bush, the war, and the occupation. (New Times papers historically don’t do endorsments and don’t allow their writers to endorse.) He ran a letter in his column from a Wisconsin male who wrote, “Wisconsin needs your help!. On Tuesday, Nov. 7 we’re voting on an amendment banning gay marriage. As a married heterosexual male I’m supposed to feel threatened by gays getting married, but I’m smart enough to realize it doesn’t affect me at all. I also realize that I got to marry whomever I wanted, and everyone should have that right. Urge your readers in Wisconsin to vote NO on the marriage amendment. Thanks!”
Savage gave the writer the ultimate Savage compliment: “You put it better than I could, JIW. I would add: The amendment in Wisconsin bans gay marriage and civil unions. Vote no.”
Then Savage continued his endorsement: “And to my readers in Colorado, Idaho,
South Carolina, Tennessee, Virignia, Arizona, and South Dakota: Please vote against the gay marriage bans in your states, too. And in South Dakota, please vote to overturn your state’s idiotic abortion ban. And to my readers in Canada: Be glad you don’t have to put up with any of this shit.”
In the presidential race two years ago, Savage snuck his Kerry for President endorsement in the last line of his pre-election column. This time, he slipped his endorsements into the second to last paragraphs, with a neatly disguised ending to his column with a diverting letter from a woman who claimed she couldn’t have an orgasm until age l8. She then took some pot with a “cooperative boy friend and–bam! –six orgasms in five minutes.” And he signed off, “Thanks for sharing.” And sent his readers off to a Savage website to learn more about pot and sex. Well done, Dan. A masterful job.
Meanwhile, Savage’s endorsements were the only real endorsements to be run in the pre-election issue of the Voice, probably one of the first times in Voice history, if not the first, that this bastion of New York liberalism has been Voiceless and neutered and has not endorsed candidates or run serious political coverage in an election. (Why? I put the questions by email to Voice/New Times CEO and chief executive officer Jim Larkin, Executive Editor Michael Lacey, and David Blum, the new Voice editor in chief, but got no reply by blogtime.)
Instead, the Voice this week ran a gripping “report from the trenches of ‘Saturday Night Live’–dress rehearsals, wrap parties, last-minute sketch changes, a l a.m. phone call from Lorne Michaels (and yes, Andy Samberg!”) with a front page illustration of a smiling comedian doing the Bronx shrug. I kid you not. Check the link below and the Voice website and see what has happened to the mighty Voice in the short nine months since Larkin, Lacey,and the Arizona Gang got ahold of it. Meanwhile a quick check showed that none of the other l6 Voice/New Times papers ran any endorsements in their pre-election issues, with the possible exception of the OC Weekly in Orange County. An editor sent me an email saying they were doing endorsements but I could not find them at blogtime.
Well, Nathan Blumberg, my first journalism professor at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln in l953, used to say that a paper that didn’t run endorsements didn’t have any balls. He used the word testicles, because this was Nebraska in l953, but the class all got the point. So: does this mean that Dan Savage has balls, and Jim Larkin and Mike Lacey don’t have balls? Let us let the readers decide.
P.S.1 It’s hard for the staff members of a Village Voice/New Times paper to say much inhouse or publicly about the management style and editorial policies of Larkin and Lacey. For example, note what happened to poor David Schneiderman, the former Village Voice top guy since l978, who they sacked unceremoniously last week. VOICE BOSS GAGGED,” chided the New York Post head. The Post noted Larkin’s subtle style when it quoted an insider as saying about Schneiderman: “The new guys held him in complete disregard. It got so bad that one source said that while Schneiderman was in New Orleans recently delivering a presentation on the company’s web progress, Larkin made a point of taking out a newspaper and reading it while Schneiderman spoke.” Schneiderman will go down in journalism history as the guy who sold the Voice to New Times, and pocketed $500,000 for his work on the deal, but even he probably didn’t deserve the Larkin/Lacey treatment.
P.S 2: Meanwhile, back in San Francisco, the SF Weekly/
Village Voice/New Times ran a front page page illustration of two gay comic figures I can’t quite characterize, but sported the head, “DRAWN TOGETHER, Graphic Homosexual comics and the young women who love them.”
Smith came the closest to a political endorsement when he meandered around with the two major candidates in District 6, Sup. Chris Daly and challenger Rob Black, and wrote a self-immolating piece titled, “Vulgar posing, How our columnist was seduced into watching the World’s Largest Female Bodybuilder beat up on Rob Black.” After missing, mangling, mushing, and making fun of the issues, Smith came up with two summary questions but no clear endorsement: “Isn’t Daly the vulgar jerk who threatened the democratic process? What about the gentility-in-public-life rap Black’s been giving SOMA condo dwellers? Black is gone. I don’t feel like chasing after him with my facile questions.” Well, Smith concludes, “Alone, in SF Weekly’s offices, beer on my breath, an awful sort-porn video on the VCR, I realize I’ve beens seduced by the poses of two political hacks.”
News flash to Smith: There are real major issues in this district. For example, Calvin Welsh lays out a big one in a Guardian op ed this week, “Don’t for a minute believe that he (Daly) is in the fight of his political life because he’s rude, because he doesn’t care about lw and order, or because he prefers dirty streets upon which to raise his son. These petty and silly charges mask a far more serious objection: the way his opponents see it, Daly has been too slow in adopting the massive wave of market rate housing slated for this district and is far too protective of lower income residents in District 6.” He concludes: “There’s a working majority of the Board of Supervisors willing to fight for current neighborhoods and residents and a future that includes them. The battle in District 6 shows that the fight is not without risk. Do the rest of us realize it? Smith, Larkin, Lacey, Voice/New Times folks, do you realize it?
P.S.3: At blogtime, Jonny Diamond, the editor in chief of L magazine in New York, replied to my query about Voice endorsements with this quote: “Yes, the Savage stuff is in, but it’s the only thing remotely related to the election in the entire issue. This is the cover story (and he gave me the link). Remarkable stuff from the country’s formerly foremost alt-weekly on the eve of the most important midterm elections in a long, long time. I’d say this is the final, no-doubt-about-it end of the Voice. As for our own coverage, we’re working on something for Friday.”
So, to get election endorsements and coverage in New York, forget the Voice and
go to the website of the L magazine, a zippy New York arts and entertainment biweekly under the direction of the Steadman brothers.
And with that, ladies and gentlemen, we may have heard the final word on the eve of the election from the Larkin/Lacey/VillageVoice/NewTimes/SF Weekly crew in San Francisco and New York. Maybe Larkin will stop reading the paper long enough to send me comments or explain to the readers of his l7 papers why they don’;t endorse or do serious election coverage. I’ll let you know. If anybody spots a political endorsement in a Voice/New Times paper, flash me the word. B3, hoping good news is on the way on the way Nov. 7th
VOICE BOSS GAGGED: SCHNEIDERMAN IS OUSTED BY NEW OUT-OF-TOWN OWNERS:
By KEITH J. KELLY
October 27, 2006 — DAVID Schneiderman is out as president of Village Voice Media nine months after Phoenix-based New Times took over the alternative weekly newspaper chain.
Following the takeover of the Voice by New Times CEO James Larkin and Editorial Director Michael Lacey, Schneiderman stayed on as president of the combined company, which took on the Village Voice Media name. He split his time between the company’s headquarters and Seattle, where his wife Dana Faust, a New York Times ad executive handling the Pacific northwest, is based.
However, few expected him to stay for long as he was clearly a man without a power base. He was given the job of exploring Web opportunities for the company, an area in which he had scant expertise. Even after he immersed himself in the new role, it didn’t impress the new cowboys from Phoenix.
“The new guys held him in complete disregard,” said one insider. It got so bad that one source said that while Schneiderman was in New Orleans recently delivering a presentation on the company’s Web progress, Larkin made a point of taking out a newspaper and reading it while Schneiderman spoke.
Reached yesterday, Larkin said of Schneiderman, “He resigned.”
Asked if there would be a replacement, Larkin said, “We are going to restructure.” He declined further comment, saying, “We don’t comment on personnel matters,” he said.
When reached by Media Ink, Schneiderman, said, “I’ve been approached by people in the venture capital and private equity world. I just felt the time to move on was now.”
He insisted that his deal as Voice president was “open ended” and that he could have stayed longer.
But making frequent trips between New York, Phoenix and Seattle “was wearing on me.”
“Waking up in my own bed for awhile is important to me,” he said.
The Boston Phoenix was reporting yesterday that its editor Bill Jensen had resigned to accept a job running Web operations for Village Voice Media, its parent company.