The Rittenhouse Review

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

Thursday, June 24, 2004  

Editor and Man About Town Can’t Find His Way

Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter is a lazy man. I’m not talking about his steadfast unwillingness to make time for a decent haircut, but instead of his apparent inability to write a simple expository paragraph.

So reveals Tom Scocca in his latest “Off the Record” column in the New York Observer (June 28, 2004, p. 8).

Carter, you see, has written a book (What We’ve Lost) . . . sort of.

Scocca reports:

Despite reports of a platoon of researchers at Mr. Carter’s disposal, Farrar, Straus & Giroux has received a manuscript in which the writer’s argument frequently outruns his available facts. The result reads like a Mother Jones edition of Mad Libs: Vice President Dick Cheney is “currently under investigation by WHO for WHAT REGARDING BRIBING FOREIGN OFFICIALS DURING HIS TENURE AS HEAD OF THE COMPANY”; the White House has snubbed the “Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants Treaty, signed by TK nations WHEN.” [Ed.: For the uninitiated, “tk” is publishing shorthand for “to come” and is used as a placeholder when a writer expects, or expects others, to fill in the missing information at a later time.]

Off the Record was able to solve some of Mr. Carter’s troubles with Google. Using a dial-up Internet connection, it took 13 seconds to establish the curb weight of “the TK-lb Hummer” at 6,400 pounds (assuming it’s an H2). Slow-loading federal Web sites meant it took a full 30 seconds to learn that “the Forest Service -- created WHEN TO DO WHAT” was founded in 1905 to manage publicly owned forest reserves.

Geographic obscurities beyond Carter’s grasp include the states in which the Mall of America and Yellowstone National Park are located, the state capital of Texas, and the distance from his own residence to the former location of the World Trade Center.

Geesh. Will someone at least buy that man a map of Manhattan?

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