By Way Of Introduction


I’ve had a leasehold on for years now.  People smarter than I am told me that even if I had no sense of its use at present, I should throw a few shekels down in case.  But until recently, I saw no reason to do much of anything with the site. My ambivalence rests on a couple basic ideas: I’m a writer, and while I’m overpaid to write television at present, the truth is that the prose world from which I crawled — newsprint and books — is beset by a new economic model in which the value of content is being reduced in direct proportion to the availability of free stuff on the web. In short, for newspapers and book publishers, it has lately been an e-race to the bottom, and I have no desire to contribute to that new economy by writing for free in any format.  Not that what is posted here has much prolonged value -— or in the case of previously published prose, hasn’t soured some beyond its expiration — but the principle, in which I genuinely believe...

Read more

Dorothy Simon, 1923-2020

Dorothy Simon, a homemaker who returned to her college studies after 30 years to graduate with highest honors and undertake a late career as a crisis counselor and therapist, died Sept. 21 of natural causes at her Silver Spring home. She was 97.  “I had the unusual pleasure of attending the University of Maryland campus at College Park with my mother,” said David Simon, the youngest of her three children. “We both graduated the same year, albeit she was summa cum laude and I was summa cum nothing. She was a far better student.” But even before her degree, Simon had embarked on a late career as a crisis counselor at Alternative House, a residential facility serving runaway adolescents and their families in McLean, Va. She also saw clients for personal and marital therapy in her Silver Spring kitchen. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y. as Dorothy Ligeti, she was raised in Williamsburg, The Rockaways, and The Bronx before graduating from James Madison High School in 1940. She then attended...

Read more
Film and Television

“But I’m not a lawyer. I’m an agent.”

Just over a quarter century ago, when I was a young scribbler traipsing around the metro desk of the Baltimore Sun, I had an early opportunity to learn a lesson about money, about ethics, about capitalism and, in particular, about the American entertainment industry. And Dorothy Simon, she raised no fools. I only needed to learn it once. I learned about something called “packaging.” And now, finally, my apostasy from newspapering having delivered me from Baltimore realities to film-set make-believe, I am suprised and delighted that many of the fellow scribblers with whom I share a labor union have at last acquired the same hard, ugly lesson: Packaging is a lie. It is theft. It is fraud. In the hands of the right U.S. Attorney, it might even be prima facie evidence of decades of racketeering. It’s that fucking ugly. For those of you not in the film and television world, there is no shame in tuning out right now because at its core, the argument over packaging now...

Read more
Journalism Policy & Law Politics


With regard to this week’s miserable performance by the New York Times in its gotcha-til-we-squee, front-page, lead-column scoopfest on Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein’s supposed Trumphunting, I think the whole mess requires something a little more detailed than the generalized contempt I’ve already offered on Twitter. So here we go: Dear men and women of the Times. From all that has been printed — and all that has not — I believe your “scoop” is decontextualized, half-thought-upon horseshit. It no more suggests a frantic or discombobulated Rosenstein, or an over-the-top, lurching cabal to get Trump, than any other amalgam of manicured, partisan-leaked facts might suggest. I believe the fundamental and necessary context is absent from what you used to adorn your front page. I believe that context is this: First, we are a nation that is at the cusp of a profound Constitutional crisis. That reality had already been made obvious and manifest when Mr...

Read more