Politics & Policy

And Now a Word From…Me!

A public-service announcement for all G-Philes.

Dear readers (and those who have your houseboys act out this column in the form of interpretive dance),

I’m leaving.

One-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, three-one-thousand…

Just kidding. I’m not going anywhere. I just wanted to take note of who was cheering and who was disappointed.

Now, all of you people who were cheering should get out of here. This isn’t really a column so much as a letter aimed solely at those people who consider themselves loyal G-File readers, and hence contains remarkably little punditry of any kind (“What else is new?”–The Couch). So, let’s wait for all the non-G-Philes to shuffle out.

Okay. I just wanted to get you guys up to speed about what’s going on with this column, since I get so much email from people saying “What’s going on with your column?” I’ve been writing this, this thing since 1998, and while the G-File remains my favorite thing to write, I’ve got to go on hiatus for a little while. I’m tied up with this book and I need to pare down my non-book workload a bit. And while it’s not like I’ve been writing piles and piles of G-Files lately, my obligation (and desire) to do so has been hanging over my head every day. So, there will be no more G-Files until the spring. Furthermore, as part of my streamlining, I am putting my career as a professional competitive eater on hold indefinitely. I may be able to eat a six-pound brick of pepper jack cheese in 23 minutes, but the recovery time from such endeavors is not conducive to sustained scholarship.

But I am not leaving NRO by any stretch of the imagination. I will still be hanging out in the Corner a lot and contributing to NRODT from time to time. I’m doing this partly because, well, I’ve got to make a living. Also, the suits and that awful man Rich Lowry are bizarrely reluctant to pay me for doing absolutely nothing (“That is bizarre since ‘absolutely nothing’ would be an improvement!”–The Couch). But mostly, I’ll still be blogging over there because this place is my home. In fact, it’s better than my home, because I’m not responsible for re-piping the place. Also, since the cold, impersonal multinational corporation that carries my syndicated column would not let me off the hook to write this book, I will still be writing that. And in an effort to maintain the viability of your G-File bookmarks, NRO will be carrying my syndicated column. And, if the spirit moves me I might dash off a short piece or two every now and then anyway.

Still, as I’m the first to admit, as much as I’m proud of my syndicated column, the syndicated column just isn’t the G-File.

I learned this the hard way. You might find this surprising, but many of America’s leading newspapers don’t want to hear about me running around the house with a spaghetti strainer as a cod piece. They don’t want interviews between world leaders and my dog (here and here, for example) or angry reports from bad flights I’ve been on. They don’t care about endless battles with the libertarian hordes.

Now, it’s not so much that newspaper readers — or editors — wouldn’t like some of this stuff. The problem is that the mediums (media?) are just plain different. On the web you can build up a different kind of relationship with your readers than you can in a daily paper. If I mention, say, John Carpenter’s classic “Dark Star,” or if I say that we shouldn’t discuss the works of Balzac because there’s “no need for potty mouth” and you don’t get the references, well that’s your problem, not mine. In newspapers, that’s my problem, not the readers’. Like the Gabon viper and James Carville, they’re just different animals. Okay, not the best example.

Anyway, this seemed like a good opportunity to catch up with you guys and say thank you. I can’t begin to tell you how grateful, proud, verklempt I am about my readers. Okay, technically, I can begin to tell you. After all, I can begin to tell you about almost anything — how warp drive works, what Heidegger means by lowercase and uppercase “being,” why the show Cop Rock didn’t work, why Alec Baldwin keeps eating the urinal mints even though they’re not tasty — it’s the finishing of the telling that’s so hard. “The finishing of the telling”; that sounds almost Tolkienesque. Speaking of Tolkien, the news that they might now make a Hobbit movie is really awesome.

Sorry. I got sidetracked. But that’s sort of my point. In this space, in this sanctum sanctorum as Dr. Strange would say, or in this cone of silence as Maxwell Smart would say, or on this Holy Ground as Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod would say, in this now antiquated British phonebooth as Dr. Who might say, or in this bamboo tiger cage as the suits would call our webmaster’s “office” or… well, you get the point. In space nobody can hear you scream. But in cyberspace everyone can rant if he wants, and you folks have allowed me to get paid doing it for six years (and get paid adequately for four!). The suits would have cut me loose a long time ago if it weren’t for you guys, and for that I’m eternally grateful. Particularly to the diehard (“McLaaaaaaaane!”–The Couch) supporters we’ve affectionately called “flying monkeys” for years.

And, yes, I do recognize that the G-File hasn’t been as wacky after 9/11 as it was before 9/11. But, you know, the mantra we hear from the Democrats’ lips every day — “if Jonah Goldberg’s column loses its tasteful nudity, the terrorists will have won” — just isn’t true. But a larger part of this “problem” is not the baleful effects of the war on terrorism on my women’s-prison-movie joke-rate, and it’s not the fact that I’m now married to the Fair Jessica (who I first started wooing in this space) and the father of the greatest little girl born in the last nine centuries. In truth, it’s that the Corner has leached some of the spontaneous “letter-to-readers” quality from the column. I don’t know if that’s good or bad in the big picture, but I think that’s the fact. So, if you’re not reading the Corner — or having your houseboys dance it out for you — and you miss that stuff, shag yourselves over there. It’s our most popular feature and, once you get used to the blogginess-backward reading format (think of Hebrew but vertical, or something like that), I promise you’ll like it.

And speaking of popularity and NRO, I know you’ve all heard me get mopey about you guys and the success of NRO before. So I won’t do it again. But I will note that when I wrote this boastful, brief little history of NRO in 2000, I was positively giddy that we had 300,000 unique visitors a month. Well — under the stewardship of Kathryn Lopez, the leadership of Rich Lowry, and without the, um, somethingship of me — we left those paltry numbers in the dirt a long time ago. Our fairly regular monthly numbers are now rhyme with something like shmoo shmillion. I bring this up for three reasons: 1) It’s really cool. 2) When’s the next time I’m going to be able to say shmoo shmillion in polite company? And 3) Uh, hmmm, I forget.

No wait, I remember: Because you guys made it happen.

So that’s it. Thanks for everything. See you here in the spring. See you in The Corner 24/7.

Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

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