MEMO TO FOSTER KAMER, RE: DICK JOKE

Not Jimmy Dolan's cock
Not Jimmy Dolan's cock

Hey, Kamer.

Ortega here.

I want you to do something for me.

I want you to stop apologizing for the damn dick joke.

I caught the mea culpa at your Tumblr, and frankly, I wish you'd knock that shit off.

I know you're getting a lot of attention around the Twitterverse for losing us a million bucks worth of advertising over that little adventure, but there's a reason I told Dolan's people to stuff it when they called to complain about your original blog post.

And that's because your dick joke was spot-on, and a prime example of what we do around here.

It's a shame that the websites coming along now to write about this situation -- and in a medium, the Internet, which was made for talking openly about this kind of thing -- aren't bothering to explain to their readers why your joke was so appropriate and what it was doing there to begin with.

Let's review, shall we?

See, there's this guy named Jake Dobkin. I've met this guy. He's easily one of the two or three most humorless human beings I've ever met in my life. And that didn't surprise me, because it helped explain why his website, Gothamist, is the way that it is.

Gothamist's purpose is very simple: rewrite everything significant in the morning's New York Times in short, passionless, humorless, bite-sized chunks.

I don't get it. But for some reason, some people do, and they prefer to get their New York Times chewed up in the form of room-temperature gruel rather than go directly to the source and read the, you know, New York Times itself.

But whatever. The guy had a vision. He went for it. He created a site that a few people read and that occasionally sports an advertisement, which allows him to employ a few people and keep the thing going. More power to him.

Only, Dobkin (being Dobkin) not only has no sense of humor, he doesn't seem to realize that all he's doing is rewriting the work of other people without even putting in a joke or two. He seems to believe that what he's doing is journalism.

As a result, on occasion Dobkin has been known to spout off about how the Times -- the paper, mind you, that he makes a living rewriting -- doesn't get readers the way he does. Or, on another occasion, it led him to make a cutting criticism of a piece in the Times that he judged was too friendly to its subject.

In Dobkin's words, the Times had given the subject of that story a "blowjob."

This may have been the closest Jake Dobkin has ever come to cracking wise, so that alone makes it worth pointing out. But there's another reason why that utterance is interesting. It implied that Dobkin knew better than the Times about what gives a news organization or a news website its credibility: being a truth-teller that doesn't hold back, that doesn't pander either to the subjects of its stories or to its readers. Dobkin, in other words, seemed to be making the point that if the Times itself was going soft, he and his website, Gothamist, would remain ramrod-stiff barriers against pandering and pap.

This is actually an admirable position to take, and would not really be very noteworthy except for what happened next.

Dobkin and his company were bought and paid for recently. And by not only the one person in New York City who may have less mirth in his soul than Dobkin himself, but also the local media mogul with a spine made of more sponge than a loofah farm.

The irony that Mr. Journalism, Jake Dobkin, would be soon working for Jimmy "Don't Say Anything Negative About My Knicks" Dolan, the miserable sports owner and Newsday destroyer, was too delicious to pass up.

As our media writer, you saw the irony immediately. (That is, after all, what I'm paying you for.) For those a little slow on the uptake, that irony is this: that Dobkin, so critical of the Times for succumbing to fluff, would soon find himself under enormous pressure to turn Gothamist into a fawning rewriter of Newsday effluent and Knicks happy-talk.

That's pretty plain, right? And while I've taken way too long to get to this point, you were able to sum it up masterfully in only a few words.

Alluding to Dobkin's jab at the Times for giving out blowjobs, you wrote: "Wonder how Dobkin's gonna feel with Jimmy Dolan's cock in his mouth?"

Now, see, that's a little piece of genius.

It's not only a dead-perfect evocation of the situation, it's the kind of thing that just about any of us would be proud to have thought up and uttered, say, after work down at the bar over a couple of drinks.

This is how adults talk, and it's how adults put things in perspective. With dick jokes.

It's also precisely what the Village Voice was created to do, and has been doing for more than 50 years. We put into words the things people actually think and say when they are being honest with each other and not talking in that pretend-voice that the dailies and the television people put on. Right? I mean, that is at the core of this foul-mouthed, truth-telling, non-pandering institution. I mean, that's the only reason I want to work here, anyway.

Now, that said, let's also just point out that the target of your truth-telling joke was primarily Jake Dobkin, not Jimmy Dolan, whose cock in this case was purely metaphorical.

This is why it was so mind-blowing that, within minutes of you posting that item, several flacks who work for Dolan were desperately trying to get me on the phone.

They seemed to be under the impression that we had written something about Jimmy Dolan's actual sexual activities. Or that we had written about Jimmy Dolan's actual dick.

"Don't you think that's over the line?" the humorless woman who works for Dolan asked me when she finally got me on the phone.

"Whose line?" was my reply.

I knew that for Voice readers, this wasn't even close to being over the line (whatever the hell that means, anyway).

Several times, I tried to point out to her that your dick joke was not like some molecule of the noble gases, all alone and unattached to anything else. Your joke only made sense in relation to Dobkin's utterance that came immediately before it. Couldn't she see that?

Well, of course she could. But she was being paid to act as if she didn't. Finally, I told her, "The language is coarse, but the metaphor is apt."

I think she understood what I meant, but she would never let on, of course.

In light of what's happened since, that Dolan -- a guy with so much money and warped ambition he's doing everything he can to create a monopoly controlling what people on Long Island read and watch through Cablevision, Newsday, and his crappy sports teams -- would take such extreme offense to the kind of half-assed insult that a guy like Rupert Murdoch, for example, must get thrown his way every few seconds of every day in half the cities of the English-speaking world without even noticing, has taken us all by surprise.

As I've told a couple of different reporters, I don't know Dolan well enough to understand why he's so sensitive about his penis.

But Dolan is somehow so offended, he's not only pulled ads by his own companies (IFC, Madison Square Garden), he's apparently going around asking companies he does business with to pull their ads, as well. Live Nation tells us this is why they pulled out.

And all this because Jimmy Dolan didn't like a joke that mentioned his (metaphorical) dick. That not only wasn't about his sex life, but wasn't really even about him.

For this, he tries to cause serious harm to the Voice.

Well, we have our work cut out for us.

Jimmy Dolan is obviously trying to get our attention. And I'm of a mind to give it to him.

So Kamer, stop apologizing for writing such a great dick joke, and let's get to work.


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