The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Thursday, May 29, 2003  

Conspirators Huddle in West Philadelphia

Last night, around 7 p.m., I made my way to a quiet, little-known, but excellent restaurant in West Philadelphia to meet Sidney Blumenthal and his wife for dinner.

I can't tell you the name of the restaurant as I'm sworn to secrecy. The dinner was arranged by an intermediary, a man with a deep-throated voice who refused to identify himself. The man told me to be careful that I wasn't followed from Center City: Apparently Camille Paglia is on the loose again, and, for reasons unknown, Mike Smerconish remains free to roam the city's streets. I was instructed to place a tiny bust of Kenneth Starr on my table so that Sid could find me.

I arrived early and quickly ran up an $18 bar tab, planning all the while to stick Sid with the bill. Why not? His book, The Clinton Wars, has just been published and is a success. As for my book, well, it's around here somewhere.

I was eager to hear what Sid thought about some of the bizarre and inventive reviews published recently (cf. Slate's review as shredded by Bob Somerby at the Daily Howler).

I was also hoping I could get Sid to ask Hilary Clinton for my watch.

You can imagine my disappointment when, at the appointed hour, in walked not Sid, but the mysterious Atrios, of Eschaton. With him -- and this was no let down -- was the brilliant and charming Mrs. Atrios.

I knew there had been some idle speculation that Atrios is really Sid Blumenthal, or vice versa, speculation Sid has denied, so for a few moments I was confused. I had met Mr. and Mrs. Atrios before and I didn't notice any physical resemblance between the two men. The same was true last night. They are two different people. I think. But it was dark. I was already in a Hitchens-like haze. And only now do I recall that Atrios said we should avoid direct eye contact.

Soon afterward another guest arrived: Jesse Taylor of Pandagon. Perhaps Taylor was the deep-throated gentleman who arranged the evening? I was determined to find out. Or, I thought, is Taylor Blumenthal? Nah.

The evening turned into a veritable bloggers' salon. We discussed politics, economics, and the media, and argued over the significance and meaning of the great Old English, Norse, and Finnish epics, Beowulf, The Poetic Edda, and The Kalevala, respectively.

Arlen Specter's name came up, of course, at which point I was certain I saw the curtains behind Mr. and Mrs. Atrios move ever so slightly. In the course of discussing a possible campaign, my deeply furrowed brow was judged to be genuine. I relayed that I am now cutting my own hair. I revealed I have no Jewish ancestors. We planned my first visit to Wal-Mart: a terrific photo opportunity, we all agreed.

After dinner we dropped off Taylor at a well-known Philadelphia landmark. Mr. and Mrs. Atrios invited me to have an after-dinner drink in their palatial and very chic Rittenhouse Square apartment, but I declined. I knew Neal Pollack would have said yes, but with questionable intentions. Besides, I suddenly remembered Lloyd Grove was in town on the Washington Post's dime. He owes me a few.

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |