Saturday, September 30, 2006

Krakow Diary Day #12 (Thursday Sep. 28): They Really Sing


Chili and Vodka Night at the Villa Decius was a real eye-opener. It's amazing what you can learn about your fellow intellectuals under conditions such as these (chili and vodka) that you can't learn elsewhere.

It didn't surprise me that Katja and Tanja danced.

It didn't surprise me that the Elusive Laryssa Andriejewska offered not only a toast but an unknown Ukrainian drink she set on fire (then doused).

It did not surprise me that hip post-modernist Polish novelist Mirek Nahacz (on the right, talking to Nicolai) had country music on his laptop and just happens to be one of the only people in Europe who loves "The Sot-Weed Factor" by John Barth as I do...

Nor that German poet Nicolai Kobus' brand new book of poetry is looking spectacular...

Nor did it suprise me that both Big Intellectual Bears - Ambrosi Griszikaszwili the Georgian Translator...

...and Andrej Khadanovich the White Russian Poet (you can read his poems in German translation here) - both showed up with vodka from home (in Andrej's case it was 56.5/103 vol.).

But I never thought I'd see the day when all those stories you hear about Slavs suddenly breaking into song were absolutely true...


(This video is on YouTube... click here.)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Krakow Diary Day #11 (Wednesday Sep. 27): This is For All Those Women Out There…

…who have been complaining about my tendency to notice beautiful Krakow women over-proportionately to good-looking Krakow men. This photo of a sweet specimen of all-out maleness, snapped in the upscale shopping mall Galeria Kazimierz, ought to keep you busy for a while.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Krakow Diary Day #10 (Tuesday Sep. 26): On the Funkiness of East European Sculpture

I cannot avoid the subject any longer. I have been challenged to explain why I insist on 1) calling a sculpture "East European" and on 2) calling East European sculptures funky."

It was Katja, in her comment below and in the background of this photo), who put this challenge to me. To make matters worse, a friend of mine write, in an email to me (he was apparently too cowardly to publish it as a comment. He wrote, somewhat threateningly:

"Noch schreibst du mit ironischer Distanz über die slawische Bohéme. Warte nur bis die östliche Subversion dich von Grund auf - wie man früher gesagt hätte - bolschewisiert haben wird! Erste Anzeichen werden sein: du stellst die Friseurbesuche und das Rasieren ein, und plötzlich verweilst du auffällig länger vor den Pfeifenauslagen von Tabakgeschäften! Weitere Anzeichen: sich anbiedern, in ukrainischen Problembüchern verewigt zu werden - und sei es als sterbendes Kapitalistenungeziefer! Vom Wodka ganz zu schweigen!

"Und soeben lese ich von den haarigen Diskussionen, die unter Autoren, bzw. unter Autorinnen geführt werden. Let me tell you one thing: Wie du siehst, haben wir komplizierten, individuellen und unetikettierten Deutschen/Europäer noch immer das letzte (intellektuelle) Wort - hah! Und was für ein fantastisches Wort! Sag ihr, ich liebe alle sich auf Moleküle berufenden Erklärungen! 1:0 Leipzig vs. Honolulu. Die Zeit ist jetzt gekommen, dass es sich rächt, immer nur Mittelalternovels gelesen zu haben statt die Werkausgabe von Marx/Engels."

I see no other choice but to apply myself herewith to the Funkiness Question.

Here, dear Katja, is my answer:

That sculpture is East European neither because it is in Eastern Europe nor because an Eastern European made it: It has an East European flair (which is very similar to a Scandinavian flair.)

This is clearly a sculpture about the condition of man – run down by the machinery of life, fleeing but taking his burden with him, etc. But at the same time it is pleasing top the eye. Even beautiful. The man portrayed could be flying (or, as my hero Woody once said, falling with style). Eastern Europeans tend to do this kind of thing – they take a drastically depressing background theory and make something out of it that you would be happy to have in your living room. That is how I define funkiness.

The Germans are exactly the opposite: When they make a sculpture about the futility and hardship of life, there's nothing "pleasing" about it. It's all glass shards and barbed wire and blood. You can hear it scream, it's full of tension, pain and depression. When it comes to tension, depression and pain, the Germans are very serious. You don’t want to put that German sculpture in your living room. But you want to abstain from eating or drinking anything for several hours after seeing it.

That's what often makes East European sculpture recognizable. Of course it helped that I asked our babysitter Renate, and she confirmed that the artist was a young East European.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Shocking Truth About Socialism


Suddenly, this whole question of communism vs. socialism takes on a new, bone-chilling aspect.

You see that bottle "Strong" beer, second from left? That's my beer. Only, it's not really beer anymore. It's the sad, hollow, emptied husk of a beer; the remnants of a beer, the remainder, what's left for the worms to invade when the soul of the beer is gone. Yes, that beer is beer no more. But I – the owner of the beer – did not drink it.

I bought the beer, I transported it form the Supermarket to the house, I stored it in my room until I felt a need to enjoy the beer slowly rising, I placed the beer in the fridge to prepare it for drinking the next day, but when I came down to the kitchen this evening to actually take and enjoy the beer, it was gone. I took everything out of the refrigerator, every item, one by one: the packages of sliced cheese and sliced sausage, the plastic bag with the stalks of parsley in it, the cartons of orange juice and milk, everything, one by one, and when I was done: no beer.

Then I discovered the empty bottle in the corner. Oh, what mockery: the beer thief placed the empty bottle neatly in the corner to be disposed of. Perhaps I am meant to dispose of it myself.

Who could have done such a cruel mean thing? Surely this is the work of a communist. Might I even venture so far as to suggest that it might well have been the work of a Ukrainian-speaking communist?

The question of what is and what is not capitalism has, for me, taken on a new definition: A capitalist is the one who buys the beer with the intent of controlling it; a socialist is the one who wrests control of the beer from the hands of the capitalist.

Krakow Diary Day #9 (Monday Sep. 25): I Am Committed


So, I have made the big decision: I am going to use part of this time to write a novel.

That is, part of a novel: The first fifty pages or so plus the outline. I should be able to get that finished in three months.

I have written novels before: as a kid, mainly, full of ideas about expressing my self and competing with Shakespeare and entering literary heaven. With that in mind, I feel just a tad silly about trying at my age and as an established journalist to write a novel. I have to assure myself that this is not about expressing myself or creating greeat art or any of that crap; it's about depicting my subject in a different way - in a potentially more popular way (more people buy successful novels than successful non-fiction books) - i.e., it's about taking my subject to a larger group of readers (and at the same time being able to takew liberties with my subject that I could not take as a journalist). Telling me that, writing this - this thing - as a novel makes sinse.

The non-fiction book is not lost. Parallel to writing my novel, I continue researching the non-fiction book. Since both the novel and the non-fiction book have the same theme, there is no conflict as far as time goes. And if my energy holds out (and a publisher is interested in the idea), I can publish both the novel and the non-fiction book as companion books: two ways of looking at the sme subject.

I still have a back door to slither out of, of course. If the pages I wrikte her ein Krakow (Krakow, hear my plea) are crap, I just bury it and forget I ever mentioned it. Of course, now that I have declared my intention to the world, if I fail, I will make a fool of myself. So even if I have a back door, the stakes are high.

Wish me luck. Here goes nothing.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Krakow Diary Day #8 (Sunday Sep. 24): Capitalism Revisited

Last night was vodka night: A bunch of European writers sitting around the kitchen table drinking, so of course the conversation turned to capitalism. This time, the conversation surprised me. When I claimed, just to get it out in the open, to be capitalist, they disagreed. Not because they think I am a good person, but because I don’t have the money. It turns out I had been misunderstanding the European/German definition of capitalists all this time:

"A capitalist isn't just someone who lives in and agrees with a capitalist system," claimed Erica the Post-Socialist-Feminist. "A capitalist is someone who controls the capital, like Bill Gates. Didn’t you ever read Marx?"

Per this definition, Bill Gates has only been a capitalist since becoming a success, which is when he was able to "control capital." When he was working in his garage, determined to someday control capital, he was not yet a capitalist. Neither was the guy working in the garage next store who failed, though he would have liked to control as much capital as Bill Gates does.

That means a capitalist is someone who is successful in business and a socialist is someone who fails in business. That goes a long way in explaining Germany, where capitalism (even though Germany is a capitalistic country where all socialists wish they had the capital that the capitalists control) is synonymous with evil. If capitalism is morally reprehensible, business success is morally reprehensible, which may be one reason why Germany lives comfortably with 5 million unemployed, an embarrassing economic slump and a long tradition of discouraging innovation.

All of which is, by the way, in my book Planet Germany! In fact, here's My Beautiful German Frolein's illustration for that chapter:

What's Wrong With This Picture?

On the Rynek I saw this group of kids walking around with German flags on their cheeks. Patriotism is a good thing, of course, but I wondered if this was a wise way to show it.

As I passed, however, I noticed they were speaking Polish. That was even more puzzling, so I asked, and it turned out that they were language students of German and English and this was World Language Day.

Krakow Diary Day #7 (Saturday Sep. 23)

This is Tanja Malarczuk, a Ukrainian autobiographical novelist with three books (collections of short stories and novellas) under her belt at 23, and she is a Xenologist (?), which, she claims, means she can understand languages without learning them. Three months ago she didn't speak English. Then she went to Germany for a visit and everyone was speaking English and she felt frustrated, until a couple of weeks passed and she could suddenly speak English. Just like that. I believe her. (Maybe it helped to have watched a lot of English-language movies all her life).

In this photo she is speaking not English, but a more international language, one far more powerful and widespread than English, and in course you don’t understand what she is saying, this is the translation: Don’t take my picture!

Last night I came down into the kitchen to get a beer before retiring and there was Tanja. Cagey Tanja, who does not like to talk much about herself. Ah, but I knew I would catch her in a talkative mood someday, and today was the day. Finally she talked about her autobiographical novels. "Sometimes I think I am sick," she said. "I think everyone in the world around me is a character in my novel. I could write about you right now and in the novel you would die."

Am I the only one who finds aggressively, intimately personal writing sexy? There is something forbidden about it, like Noah's son Ham seeing him naked. There is something courageous and mad about it, it is the spiritual equivalent of bungy-jumping or of the things they do on "Jackass.".

She said her father will no longer tell her personal things because she wrote about her family in one of her books and they didn't like what she wrote. She's not the kind of writer, I think, who puts a lot of harmony, love, understanding and universal warmth into her books. I get the feeling they are interesting books, though. I understand the heartbreak that her parents felt, but I know also that intimate and true writing can touch countless souls and enrich many lives without her parents ever knowing, and I believe it is worth it and good for her to write those things. Tanja's parents, if you can hear me: forgive her and continue to tell her your secrets; even if it embarrassing for you, it is healing and wisdom-making for people like me.

It would be an honor for me to appear in one of her books. If I die in it, that would be a small price to pay.

Krakow Diary Day #6 (Friday Sep. 22)

I told Katja Thomas, the young writer from Leipzig, that I believe she is using this grant not so much to write, but to find herself as a writer. She avoided the subject by saying 1) we all use our entire lives to find ourselves, and 2) that I the kind of person who always has to stick people in drawers, as the Germans say - labeling them. She is right of course, I am that kind of person. (In fact, I think that's what it says on the label of my drawer: "Guy Who Is Always Labeling Other People"). The Germans are excessively afraid of someone putting them in "drawers." In fact, one of the drawers I put Germans into in general has the label: "People Who Think They Are Too Complicated, Individualistic and Unique To Be Put Into Any One Specific Category."

(Photo: I warned her that this bad photo of her, with the shadow falling as it does, makes her look like her head has been chopped off and digitally pasted back on, she said, "Yes, that's me.")

Ah, but now the plot has thickened and I have added a drawer to Katja's profile: More Dangerous Than She Appears.

It happened while we were chatting in the kitchen. Three women were chatting, I was more or less listening, so every once in a while a woman-thing crept into the conversation: "Curly hair grows slower than straight hair," said Katja.

That sounded to me patently absurd, but she explained: "The molecules have form into a certain pattern, and that take more time."

There are two explanations for this rather bizarre statement:

1) It's true.

2) She knows she is in my blog and is feeding me nonsensical items in the hope that I will publish them and make an even greater fool of myself than I do on my own.

However, since I know very little about hair molecules, I have no way of knowing which of the above is true. I only know that I have to be careful around Katja.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Krakow Diary Day #5 (Thursday Sep. 21)



Long Live East European Intellectualism!

The good news is: It's still alive! Yes, young, thin, angry Slavs still read complex poetry to adoring fans in trendy run-down bars about (according to the woman sitting next to me, who claimed to understand a few phrases) young, thin, angry Slavs who refuse to join the rat-race and express their rebellion by sitting around drinking beer all day.

I felt like the guy who walks into a meeting of the Jehovah's Witnesses as an atheist and walks out a beleiver. Coming from the West, where young writers know about getting an agent and selling film rights before they have something to write about, I was ready to roll my eyes at this kind of writer. "Posing" is what I would call it. And in a bar in New York it would be true. In the US, the age of Beat is over, and now all that's left are writers who strike the angry-young-artist pose until the Hollywood scout shows up.

Serhij (Sergei) Zadan, a young (30-ish), hip Ukrainian writer and poet, had a reading in the Jewish Quarter tonight, in a club called the Lokator. The Krakau Jewish Quarter is not very Jewish nowadays. It would be more correctly named The Trendy Quarter. It is filled with young, slightly run-down but exceedingly hip bar and clubs. There were about 20 or 30 of us in the Lokator. Serhij read for several books and a manuscript, including his first book, called Depeche Mode after the popular pop group, and he was translated.

(Photo above: On the left in the ironically retro green sweater and fetchingly strict bangs you see the Polish host and co-reader [I stand corrected - see Katja's comment]; on the right is the aloof Polish translator; in the middle is Serhij, prolific writer, Ukrainian intellectual and, apparently in his country, rock star.)

Serhij is a proto-East European intellectual the way they're supposed to be: thin, scruffy, serious, slightly greasy hair, white-skinned with a light black scruff about the chin and cheeks. He read standing, banging out his words like bullets, loudly, quickly, each sentence a little rant. The audience was with him all the way, silent when it got serious, chuckling at the jokes.

It's amazing how unimportant it is to understand the language at a reading. It was a real joy to watch him, no matter that the only works I picked up were Johnson & Johnson, Jesus, prostitute, marijuana and "fucking" (as an adjective).

While we would roll our eyes at him in the West and say "Is this cosmic Weltschmerz or should he just grow up?", here they appear to take this seriously. Being taken seriously is a terrific freedom for a young writer. Why are the creative writing classes of America producing so much artificial, soulless word-prettiness? Because young writers are seeing their work through the eyes of adults: their teachers, critics... and Hollywood scouts. It is cynicism that keeps youth from being young.

Serhij made a beleiver out of me.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Krakow Diary Day #4 (Wednesday Sep. 20)

There is even a famous writer among us lesser stars on the firmament:

Erica Fischer, the Viennese/Berliner journalist who wrote, among many other books, Aimee & Jaguar. It is about two women, a German and a Jew, who fall in love with each other during the Third Reich. (It was turned into a popular movie that should have made her rich, but Germans tend not to pay much for movie rights.)

Now, if you're a journalist looking to write a book, the secret is finding the right subject, and I have to say, if you want to learn how to pick one, follow her example. Aimee & Jaguar has everything: Nazis and Jews, love and the Holocaust, not to mention lesbians. Most journalists would kill to find a subject like that. This woman has a pretty good eye.

What is she working on now? I will find out.

Krakow Diary Day #3 (Tuesday Sep. 19)

The others have arrived.

There are nearly a dozen of us living in the guest house behind the Villa Decius for three months. I arrived late, as I was still in the US, and so I missed an excursion they made together over the weekend to the Ukraine. They returned Monday night, so I am beginning to meet them in the halls and in the kitchen.

Laryssa is a tall Ukrainian translator (Ukrainian/Polish). I don’t know what she translates because she doesn't speak much English. She is shy and you know what that means: I suspect she is hiding some kind of mystery. Alas, I will never know what it is. Unless I start learning Ukrainian.

Here's a photo of the funky East European sculpture in garden:

The Nazis Are Back… And This Time It's Personal!

The big news in Germany is that the Neo-Nazis scored big in Sunday's regional elections and now have representatives in three regional parliaments (up to now it was two).

Everyone is upset, as they should be. They're even discussing doing something about it! That's how they upset they are.

Before spiraling into a panic and declaring an upcoming Fourth Reich, I looked up NPD, the Neo-Nazi party that was most successful, in Wikipedia and discovered that this has happened before. The NPD had enough voters in the 60s and 70s to get into regional parliaments. Then they went away again. The difference is: Back then they were popular in the West, not, like now, in the underpopulated and underemployed East, and back then they were not in three parliaments, but in a total of seven.

It's not like Germany hasn't been through this before. Maybe they should stop panicing and start asking themselves what it means.

What no one talks about is: If you were an under educated, unemployed and unemployable kid in one of these East German countysides without so much as a movie theater, no industry to speak of, no one intelligent or creative left in town because all the smart people left for job in some city in the west, and no hope for ever getting a woman because you're well, unemployed and unemployable… wouldn't you join the first Club of Idiots that comes around and offers you a little self-respect. Hell, I would. I'd join up, read all the Neo-Nazi literature (if I could read) and dedicate my life to the Club. What do people expect these people out there to do, suffer quietly while everyone else in Germany gets rich and fat? Forget it. The problem isn't these kids, it's the self-satisfied politicians in the West who don't give a damn about the little guy out there in some countryside-ghetto.

This is not a failure of the Volk, it's a failure of the government. Everyone is angry at the idiot Neo-Nazis in the Poor East – they're the only ones who are acting rationally here. How about getting mad at the idiots in the Rich West?

Krakow Diary Day #2 (Monday Sep. 20)



Settling down to work. Always a difficult project. I have about a week to make a decision: What am I going to write? Novel or non-fiction? Or both?

The reason I have a week is because once again I am behind: I did not finish my two non-fiction book proposals before coming to Poland. That means my Beautiful German Frolein and I are finishing them up this week per e-mail and she will send them to our agent then.

So the question still stands: Novel or not?

Here's another novel rule:

RULE OF NOVEL-WRITING #2

It has to be sexy.

I remember having a discussion with a table full of Germans one day. The subject was: Why everything is political.

I was astonished how naïve they were. These were very intelligent, highly educated and extensively experienced people. But they thought everything came down to politics when clearly everything comes down to sex.

You can name anything and if you turn it around for five minutes you can find sex in it. Politics. Ever notice how sexy power is? Talk about Clinton having sex in the oval office? It was the least he could do to get it out of his system, poor guy. He must have been walking the White House with an erection 24 hours a day.

As a Mormon I was raised to think that sex in the arts is always unnecessary and therefore is close to pornography if included. Now I understand the truth:
Writing a novel without sex is a waste of time and sheer human energy.

Krakow Diary Day #1 (Sunday Sep. 19)

The Truth About Krakow: It is filled with beautiful women. And when I say beautiful women, I mean really excruciatingly, painfully gorgeous women.

It was a sunny and sweatingly hot Summer's day, which is unusual for this time of year, as it is no longer summer, in this part of Europe. Arriving in the Villa Decius, I was tired from getting up early to get the plane from Berlin and shlepping hundreds of pounds of books through Berlin then through Krakow, so the plan was to flop down in bed and write off the day. Then my Beautiful German Frolein called and gave me a piece of her mind: You're in the most beautiful city in Poland on one of the most beautiful days of the year and you’re laying around in your room?

So I struggled with the map and the bus schedules and got into town, had a couple of beers (the only word in Polish I know – I can’t pronounce thank correctly, but "piwo" is easy) and sat around watching the girls go by. It was a day to remember. You should have been there and saw what I saw.

These women know they are beautiful. They like tight jeans and tight blouses and showing their navels and wearing high heels when there's absolutely no need to. They love showing off their charms. And when I say charms, I mean their bodies. But that alone does not beauty make. These Slavic women – would you believe me if I said there is something, well, Japanese about them? If not Japanese, then at least manga-ish. It's their round faces, huge eyes and their sharp noses – they look like the beauties in manga comics. And they are proud, which makes them even more beautiful.

Unfortunately, I forgot to bring the camera. So all you get is this photo of the view outside my window:

A Tale of a Girl and a Hat



The Youngest Cowgirl came over the other night in Berlin, just before I left for Krakow, to pick up her cowboy hat. Actually it is an Australian outback hat, but I picked it up in the best Western Wear shop in the West, Double H in Salem, Oregon, where I buy my cowboy boots. What do you think? Doesn't she look good? She rides too, but her mother swore that she would continue wearing a helmet, not a hat, when riding. Germans! If you've ever wondered why they have such a hard time being cool, it's not because they don’t have any ideas, it's because all their ideas are shanghaied by their all-powerful, deep-seated yearning for security. Imagine them in the Wild West: In their hands, it would have been the Reasonable and Safe West.

In fact, here's an illustration by My Beautiful German Frolein from my new book:

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Weeks of No Fighting


My writing and life partner, whom I refer to simply as My Beautiful German Frolein, and I made a pact when I returned from the US last week: not to fight the two weeks I had in Berlin before leaving for Krakow.

Amazingly, we have succeeded up till now.

It hasn't been easy. I could tell – yesterday, once; today, twice – that it was boiling up inside her. Not anger, just the will to fight. A hankering for it. This hot desire to show me who's boss, to show me in no uncertain terms that I'm a stupid useless man, an inferior product of evolution, and a pain in the ass to boot.

I felt it too. I wanted to show he how much trouble she is and what I have to go through to endure her presence. I don’t know where it comes from, but it comes, it pushes, it pulls, it eggs us on.

But we fought it. Didn’t happen. We pushed it down, repressed it, with a nearly heroic act of sheer will.

Now I wonder if that's healthy.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Krakow Diary #2 (Novel Rules #1)

There are two ways to go about this.

A: I start my third non-fiction book.
B: I venture into novel territory.

As a journalist I know I can write another non-fiction book and I trust myself to make it good. A novel on the other hand, is untried territory.

The problem with a novel is this: Most of them are so bad. Wouldn’t you agree with me that we have arrived at the literary age when non-fiction as literature has taken the throne once occupied by the novel? (In literature, I mean. In fiction in general, clearly TV has taken over when the novel has gone all soft and mushy and useless.)

Especially regarding historical novels, i.e. novels about the Middle Ages: They're mostly so bad. You can tell that the writers are intimidated and have sought refuge in research. As with most historical movies, everything's about the set. The camera concentrates on getting the pretty pictures right, and so do the writers.

A good historical novel about the Middle Ages would have to read like, say… Angela's Ashes. It has to give you the feeling the writer was there. No, that's not right. It has to read as if the narrator is a real person, and more than that: a huckster, a con man, a preacher, a troubadour. Even if he's from the Middle Ages, he has to be able to take you in and carry you away, like Long John Silver.

Some historical novels that succeed in this: Lonesome Dove. The Sotweed Factor. Who else? Maybe The Name of the Rose: Eco wasn't trying to write like a medieval, he was writing like a modern storyteller, a modern-day academic with a dash of irony.

The first rule, then, of writing a historical novel, is writing it as if you were telling a modern-day tale about your funny adventures and cool friends.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Krakow Diary #1


In just under a week I will be in Krakow for three months on a writing grant in the beautiful renaissance Villa Decius, thanks to the German KulturStiftung der Länder. Three months of just writing, working, being a writer. In Krakow, no less, reputedly the most beautiful city in Poland. This is what I've dreamed of for years.

And I still don’t know what I'm going to write there.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Dog


A biggest challenge I found at home was the dog.

WHY WE STILL LIVE IN THE MIDDLE AGES #1: Witchhunting Now

From America:

If ever I were to write a historical novel about witch-hunting, I would spend 99% of my research time watching Fox News. It could be relabeled Witchhunt 24 Hours – not because they slander innocent people, but because of their aesthetics.

Nowadays "witchhunt" means an unjust attempt to railroad an innocent and usually helpless person. But are theatrics involved that do not require the person actually be guilty. The show is just as exciting if the witch is a real witch. Witchhunting, and Fox News, is beyond justice and injustice. They are about News as High Drama.

The moment I got to the US, some American nut was arrested in Thailand for confessing to the killing of a little girl ten years ago named JonBenet. Ten years ago, the case was all over the media. It was one of these weird tabloid cases that are perfect for a cheap crime show: rich family that refused to talk to the press, which made them seem guilty and a little girl who they dressed up in adult costumes and sent around to beauty pageants. Not to mention: No real evidence that pointed to anyone but the rich Mom and Dad. It was a perfect and perfectly weird case. It was never news, it was always reality TV meets CSI.

Now this guy in Thailand showed up and the case reopened.

The first lesson: The witch is a star in reverse. A star you love to hate, like Hannibal Lector was the true star of Silence of the Lambs. The film Seven was never about justice and protecting victims, it was about witnessing horrible and disgusting crimes. This wanna-be JonBenet-killer was distant, pasty-faced, buttoned-up, clearly out of touch with reality, married twice to underage girls and the author of poems to JonBenet proclaiming his undying love to her and cold cold cold. A scriptwriter could not have invented a weirder and more ghoulish villain. He was designed by God to have his own Pederast Reality Show – "How Long Can I Resist Little Girls?" – and Fox News, like the witchhunts of yore, is reality TV.

Second lesson: It's all about the adrenalin. If you're a witchhunter, your goal is to keep the adrenalin boiling at its highest point as long as possible. There is no dramatic arc: you boil things as hot as they will go and keep them at a boiling point for as long as you can. It's like a sexy girl torturing her shy, inhibited neighbor by constantly wearing the shortest skirts possible. She can never go out in curlers, she can never be seen without red hot lipstick, never. You can’t let up for a minute. Fox News is constantly whipping its audience into a frenzy, never letting up, not for a second, turning everything that comes within grabbing range to their purpose. When there was no new news, these guys would report what the would-be killer had for breakfast. They would get experts on to discuss everything that had been discussed years ago. The will discuss the lack of news. They will discuss the discussion. Never let up, never let anything more important compete. The witchhunters must have been the same way. Everyday they must have been in the streets. If it rained, they asked if this was another of the witch's tricks; if it stopped raining, they asked if this was another of the witch's tricks. You have to create a wall of adrenalin and keep everyone in it 24 hours a day.

That's Fox News. It's 24 hours outrage. If it's not a would-be killer it's the terrorists or the Democrats letting down their guard and getting us all killed. People say Fox is a Republican tool, but the truth is: They would do the same thing for the Democrats if the Democrats had the material. The only agenda they have is keeping their audience in a constant state of excitement. They don't care about politics, they care about TV – in this case, Reality TV at its best – a kind of Reality TV that has not been done this well since the McCarthy Era, the Third Reich and the witchhunts of the 17th century. Aesthetically it's brilliant. If it were put on the stage, people would declare it a masterful dissection of the dark side of the human soul. I am full of admiration.