Gayest Fashion Feature Evah?

The NY Times wants to con­vince you that men’s fash­ion blog­ging is the new bull-fighting.

In an inad­vert­ently hil­ari­ous piece titled ‘Straight Talk — A New Breed of Fashion Bloggers’, it sets out to prove that Tweeting and Tumbling about tie pins all day is really, like, butch.

NOT every fash­ion blog­ger is a 15-year-old girl with an unhealthy obses­sion with Rei Kawakubo. Some are older. And some are men.

Well, that’s a relief. Even thought I don’t know who Rei Kawakubo is.

And not just any guy with an eye for fashion.

You mean, not just another fag? Phew!

There are hyper-masculine dudes who “look at men’s fash­ion the way other guys look at cars, gad­gets or even sports,” said Tyler Thoreson, the edit­or­ial dir­ector of Park & Bond, a men’s retail site.

There’s the same atten­tion to detail.”

Don’t stop. I’m get­ting hard.

In other words, these are macho fash­ion blog­gers, writ­ing for a post-metrosexual world. “It’s trans­lat­ing this sort of very-guy approach to some­thing that’s so tra­di­tion­ally been quasi-effeminate,” Mr. Thoreson added.

Very-guy? Or just very–gay? In the worst pos­sible sense of the word.

The whole piece, espe­cially the ‘hyper mas­cu­line dude’ and ‘macho blog­ger’ with a khaki fet­ish pro­filed first, whose ‘Dislikes’ include “Pants that are too tight and too short, men who are get­ting too pretty, and guys wear­ing fedoras” is of course incred­ibly faggy. Much fag­gier than any­thing flam­ing could ever be. He sounds like the kind of queen who comes up with the strictly-enforced ‘real man’ dress-code for leather bars.

This kind of guff isn’t ‘post-metrosexual’ at all. It’s so pre–met­ro­sexual it’s pos­it­ively pre–Stonewall.

And is it just me, or did the NYT just call straights ‘breed­ers’ in that headline?

This guy here (if indeed it is a guy) is the only ‘macho’ men’s fash­ion blog­ger any­one will ever need. Strangely, he wasn’t included in that piece by the NYT. He prob­ably ter­ri­fies the poor pop­pets. He cer­tainly scares the shit out of me.

Tip: Lee Kynaston


Martin Lindstrom writ­ing in The NYT today (‘You Love your iPhone. Literally.’) claims to have found evid­ence, using fancy-pants neuro-imaging tech­no­logy, that people are not ‘addicted’ to their smart­phones as is com­monly sug­ges­ted, but rather, ‘love’ them.

And not, like, iron­ic­ally. Or like ‘I heart my iPhone’. But like they love a per­son. Or how they used to love a per­son. Before iPhones replaced people.

But most strik­ing of all was the flurry of activ­a­tion in the insu­lar cor­tex of the brain, which is asso­ci­ated with feel­ings of love and com­pas­sion. The sub­jects’ brains respon­ded to the sound of their phones as they would respond to the pres­ence or prox­im­ity of a girl­friend, boy­friend or fam­ily member.

In short, the sub­jects didn’t demon­strate the clas­sic brain-based signs of addic­tion. Instead, they loved their iPhones.

When the iPhone was launched in 2007 I dia­gnosed its appeal, without the use of neuro-imaging tech­no­logy, or even access to the actual product, as being a form of nar­ciss­ism. Takes one to know one, I guess. The clue is in the ‘i’, of course:

Imagine the per­fect relationship.

Imagine a rela­tion­ship so per­fect that it will be the only one you need. One that is bet­ter and cooler and smarter than all the rest. A rela­tion­ship that will make you the envy of your friends and the centre of atten­tion at din­ner parties. Imagine a rela­tion­ship that is entirely con­trolled by you.

A rela­tion­ship, in fact, that is – finally! – all about YOU(I know I have).

Imagine the iPhone. The per­fect lover. The per­fect friend. The per­fect child. The per­fect access­ory. The per­fect kit. The per­fect kick. Walking, talk­ing tech­no­sexual porn.

Not for­get­ting of course that by put­ting t’internet and GPS nav­ig­a­tion in your pants, smart­phones make it much easier to ‘stray’, or ‘cheat’ on any­one you might still be hav­ing an actual, real-time, old-time rela­tion­ship with. Or just pur­sue dis­creetly your hitherto hid­den fantas­ies. To find out more about you. Which is an end­lessly fas­cin­at­ing story, naturally.

And no mat­ter how many people you hook up with through your tart­phone you’ll always remain faith­ful – to your phone.

The iPhone is really the Iphone. It’s a dir­ect line to your­self. Now, isn’t that a call we all want to take?

I now have a smart­phone myself, natch. And because I have a cer­tain knee-jerk dis­dain for the ‘gor­geous­ness’ of Apple so lauded by most of my media friends — and didn’t fancy a love-triangle with Steve Jobs — I picked up a more homely-looking Android (Samsung Galaxy S). Like most more homely-looking lov­ers, it works a lot harder at pleas­ing me.

And, yes, we’re very much in love, thanks for ask­ing. Until the next upgrade.

Tip: DAKrolak

Bisexual Men Exist! But Does Scientific Sex Research?

Those kinky penile plethysmo­graph fet­ish­ists at Northwestern University just can’t get enough cock.

Dr JM Bailey and his chums have been strap­ping a fresh batch of pen­ises into their sex-lie detector machines again, show­ing them porn and fever­ishly twid­dling their knobs. But this time – hold the front page! – their ‘sci­entific’ find­ings very kindly allow men who like cock and pussy to actu­ally exist.

Which might not in the real world seem such a major find­ing – but it rep­res­ents a major flip flop for this out­fit. Six years ago, using the same cranky equip­ment, they claimed they had demon­strated that male bisexu­al­ity didn’t exist. That their data sug­ges­ted that bisexual men were in fact ‘really’ homosexual.

A ‘find­ing’ that was trum­peted around the world. Because of course it told people, straight and gay, what they wanted to hear, and what com­mon sense tells them to be the case. Gays have always wanted bisexual men to join ‘their’ team. While straights don’t want the dirty dogs on theirs. However lib­eral they might be. Especially in the devoutly mono­sexual USA. ‘Straight, Gay or Lying?’ was the infam­ous, shame­ful head­line in the New York Times which greeted the 2005 paper from Bailey ‘prov­ing’ male bisexu­al­ity doesn’t exist.

Just as all women are ‘really bisexual’, no men really are. Since vir­il­ity is dir­ectly related to a man’s abil­ity to per­form com­puls­ory het­ero­sexu­al­ity, any man who is aroused by cock can’t be virile. He is, by defin­i­tion, emas­cu­lated. Impotent. A fag. Or ‘gay’ if you’re lib­eral. No won­der the vast major­ity of men attrac­ted to other men don’t advert­ise the fact.

All this des­pite of course the way hard­core ‘straight’ porn watched by most men when they’re not strapped to a plethysmo­graph in Northwestern University fea­tures pussies AND cock. Usually lots and lots of ENORMOUS cocks – and a sorely-tested pussy or two. By way of con­trast, I’d point out that I’ve never seen a single pussy in gay porn. (Except once in the art-house porn of Bruce La Bruce – who was any­way only doing it to wind up The Gays.)

In my own private ‘researches’ I’ve come across – and over – scores of straight/bi-curious/bisexual men who want to re-enact the straight hard­core porn they’ve been watch­ing. With them as the ‘greedy slut’. They tell me they decided that it looked like fun. And besides, they thought they could do a bet­ter job. (Probably cor­rectly, since the ‘slut’ fantasy of straight porn is of course a largely male construction.)

But Bailey’s yen to strap pen­ises into sex-lie detect­ors is much more respect­able than my private per­ving. The jaw-droppingly dread­ful recent C4 doc­u­ment­ary series The Sex Researchers presen­ted Bailey as some kind of sexual seer, rather than the highly con­tro­ver­sial and frankly rather dodgy fig­ure he is. Worse, it gave his favour­ite sex toy, the penile plethysmo­graph, a star­ring role in the first and last epis­ode, present­ing a con­trap­tion which is prob­ably even less reli­able than a non-kinky ordin­ary lie detector, as a pure, object­ive and accur­ate way of meas­ur­ing and study­ing sexu­al­ity, in con­trast to all that sub­ject­ive tosh and ‘dirty data’ that Kinsey and Freud came out with. By listen­ing to people.

Likewise, the series began and ended with the ludicrous but appar­ently highly reas­sur­ing asser­tion, based on this object­ive and sci­entific research, that most women are bisexual and hardly any men are.

In keep­ing with this ‘Loaded’ ideo­logy – and it really is an ideo­logy, make no mis­take – the entire series on sex research, lav­ishly illus­trated with ‘ironic’ vin­tage soft porn foot­age of naked ladies play­ing with them­selves and jig­gling their boobies, the penis and the male body was almost com­pletely absent – except when under­go­ing grue­some ‘cor­rect­ive sur­gery’ or being sub­jec­ted to ‘test­ing’ in the plethysmo­graph. We were repeatedly told that female sexu­al­ity is ‘com­plic­ated’ but men’s sexu­al­ity is… mech­an­ical.

The denial of male bisexu­al­ity and bi-curiousness has its roots in a sex­ism that keeps men in their place even more than women.

Sex’ for the C4 doc­u­ment­ary makers meant (a very par­tic­u­lar kind of) ‘female body’. It was as if the doc­u­ment­ary had been dir­ec­ted by Benny Hill, but without the laughs. The com­mer­cial breaks, fea­tur­ing tarty half-naked men selling break­fast cer­eals and mois­tur­iser were much more enlightened and real­istic than any­thing in this series based on an already highly dated het­ero­norm­ativ­ity (which incid­ent­ally is the sub­ject of an offi­cial com­plaint to Channel 4 about its inac­cur­ate and mis­lead­ing nature by sev­eral of the sex research­ers inter­viewed for it).

So why the turn­around by Bailey? Well, it seems the loud and angry protests from bisexual organ­isa­tions that Bailey’s 2005 find­ings under­stand­ably aroused has taken its toll -– and indeed one bisexual organ­isa­tion even fun­ded this recent research.

They got the res­ult they wanted, but I fear they’re wast­ing their money and merely encour­aging more bad sci­ence. Some of course will hold these find­ings up as proof that this Heath Robinson kind of bio-mechanical sex research can cor­rect itself. But they would have to be true believ­ers to see it that way. All that has been proven is that meas­ur­ing penile blood-flow in a labor­at­ory is a highly reduct­ive and highly abnor­mal meas­ure of male sexu­al­ity. Men are not just pen­ises. They are also pro­state glands. Perineums. Earlobes. Inner thighs. Brains. Nipples.

It also shows that you get the res­ult you’re look­ing for. In 2005 Bailey wanted to prove that male bisexu­al­ity didn’t exist. In 2011 he didn’t. QED.

Perhaps the worst thing about this new find­ing is that Bailey et al will now try to turn male bisexu­als into a ‘spe­cies’ to be stud­ied and dis­sec­ted. Bisexual men may quickly come to the con­clu­sion that they were much bet­ter off when they didn’t exist.

Unless of course they them­selves have a bit of a fet­ish for penile plethysmo­graph play.


Not in Front of the Goyim: Gays and Not-So-Open Relationships

Interesting piece by Scott James in today’s New York Times:

New research at San Francisco State University reveals just how com­mon open rela­tion­ships are among gay men and les­bi­ans in the Bay Area. The Gay Couples Study has fol­lowed 556 male couples for three years — about 50 per­cent of those sur­veyed have sex out­side their rela­tion­ships, with the know­ledge and approval of their partners.

That con­sent is key. “With straight people, it’s called affairs or cheat­ing,” said Colleen Hoff, the study’s prin­cipal invest­ig­ator, “but with gay people it does not have such neg­at­ive connotations.”

The study also found open gay couples just as happy in their rela­tion­ships as pairs in sexu­ally exclus­ive uni­ons, Dr. Hoff said. A dif­fer­ent study, pub­lished in 1985, con­cluded that open gay rela­tion­ships actu­ally las­ted longer.

However the reporter dis­covered a wall of silence sur­round­ing the subject:

None of this is news in the gay com­munity, but few will speak pub­licly about it. Of the dozen people in open rela­tion­ships con­tac­ted for this column, no one would agree to use his or her full name, cit­ing pri­vacy con­cerns. They also wor­ried that dis­cuss­ing the sub­ject could under­mine the legal fight for same-sex marriage.

Or per­haps they worry they might be shouted down and called ‘sluts’ by the gay blogs.

Given the very real fear of being osctra­cised and shamed for talk­ing in front of the goyim about how gay rela­tion­ships actu­ally are, instead of the Disney-esque way that gay mar­riage zealots would like to por­tray them, it seems a reas­on­able assump­tion that the 50% fig­ure is an under­re­port­ing.  Probably most gay male rela­tion­ships in the Bay Area are open.  As I’ve said before, in pub­lic, in front of the goyim, in my exper­i­ence prob­ably most gay male rela­tion­ships are open.  (I’ll admit I was sur­prised by the article’s claims about les­bian rela­tion­ships — but then, I have rather less exper­i­ence of them…).

Of course, it doesn’t really mat­ter whether it’s half or most, or even a large minor­ity, the point, as Scott James acknow­ledges, is that this is def­in­itely not an attrib­ute of the vast major­ity of hetero rela­tion­ships.  Many may have their ‘infi­del­it­ies’, but very, very few have open rela­tion­ships.  For most the concept is a con­tra­dic­tion in terms.  Especially if mar­ried.  The author makes much of how the ope­ness of gay rela­tion­ships can help reform the fail­ing insti­tu­tion of mar­riage, but per­son­ally I sus­pect he fails to under­stand what mar­riage actu­ally is, and the pro­pri­et­ary, exclus­ive nature of it.  In real­ity, gay mar­riage may just  suc­ceed in mak­ing gay rela­tion­ships less open and more hypocritical.

Too often the move­ment for gay mar­riage is cen­sori­ous and shame-based, about present­ing homo­sexu­al­ity as a neutered het­ero­sexu­al­ity, about claim­ing over and over again that gay rela­tion­ships are ‘just like’ straight ones and any­one who says dif­fer­ent is a bigot and ‘homo­phobe’ –  exter­n­al­ised or internalised.

There’s also another dimen­sion to the reluct­ance of gay couples to talk about their open rela­tion­ships… openly, one that has less to do with wor­ry­ing about what the gays will say, and more to do with what the world will think: It may cost them their new-found respect­ab­il­ity.  This after all is the point of ‘gay mar­riage’ for some, par­tic­u­larly those of the Sullivanite tend­ency: to prove to the world they’re not like those promis­cu­ous, hedon­istic, slut gays. Even and espe­cially if they are still get­ting rogered by them reg­u­larly via Manhunt.

Then again, open rela­tion­ships can be hard work.  And dis­cuss­ing them in pub­lic allows people like me to pass unhelp­ful com­ment.  Here’s ‘Chris’ and ‘James” rules for their open relationship:

com­plete dis­clos­ure, hon­esty about all encoun­ters, advance approval of part­ners, and no sex with strangers — they must both know the other men first. “We check in with each other on this an awful lot,” said James, 37.

Obviously how they con­duct their rela­tion­ship is their busi­ness — and good luck to them — but I can’t help won­der­ing if in this instance mono­gamy wouldn’t be much less trouble.

Gay Marriage On The Rocks: Ain’t No Surprise

The wheels appear to have come off the gay mar­riage bus in the US and no one seems to know how to put them back on.  Not even the lesbians.

And that’s not accord­ing to med­dlin’ Limey Uncle Tom ‘slut’ me (as I was dubbed by the Voice of Gay America) but accord­ing to the gay-marriage-supporting  New York Times in a piece last week titled ‘Amidst Small Wins, Advocates Lose Marquee Battles’:

…the bill to leg­al­ize same-sex mar­riage in New York failed by a sur­pris­ingly wide mar­gin on Wednesday. In New Jersey, Democrats have declined to sched­ule the bill for a vote, believ­ing that the sup­port is no longer there. Voters in Maine last month repealed a state law allow­ing same-sex mar­riage des­pite advoc­ates’ advant­age in money and volunteers.

And on the other reli­ably lib­eral coast, California advoc­ates of gay mar­riage announced this week that they would not try in the next elec­tions to reverse the ban on gay mar­riage that voters approved in 2008; they did not believe they could succeed.

Gay mar­riage doesn’t appear to be some­thing that even lib­eral ‘bi-coastal’ America has much of a stom­ach for, let alone the God-fearing ‘fly­over’ States that of course make up most of the US.  So how earth did the US gay rights move­ment turn down this gay mar­riage cul-de-sac, appar­ently without a reverse gear? 

Even sup­port­ers of gay mar­riage say that all the optim­ism got ahead of the reality.

I think there was some over­read­ing of the polit­ical mar­ket­place for gay mar­riage,” said Geoff Garin, a Democratic poll­ster. “It’s not so much that some­thing changed. There was a mis­read­ing of where the pub­lic was at.”

You don’t say.  Perhaps though it was not so much an ‘over­read­ing’ or ‘mis­read­ing’ but rather more a case of com­plete illit­er­acy.  I mean, who would have guessed that scream­ing ‘BIGOT!!’ at beauty queens for believ­ing, like most Americans, includ­ing President Obama, that mar­riage is between a man and a woman wasn’t going to be a ter­ribly per­suas­ive strategy? Whoever would have ima­gined that try­ing to blame black voters for California’s re-banning of gay mar­riage last year at the same time as try­ing to hijack their his­tory of civil rights struggle and pro­claim gays as ‘the new blacks’ wouldn’t play so well?  

And who could have pos­sibly con­ceived that self-righteously denoun­cing civil uni­ons, a much more polit­ic­ally achiev­able – and in my Limey Uncle Tom slut opin­ion also much more appro­pri­ate and mod­ern – insti­tu­tion for giv­ing same-sex couples legal pro­tec­tion as ‘rid­ing at the back of the bus!’, and instead going pell-mell after gay mar­riage and respect­ab­il­ity would have turned out to be such a tac­tical and stra­tegic blunder? 

Empowered by judi­cial decisions affirm­ing a con­sti­tu­tional right to gay mar­riage, begin­ning in Massachusetts in 2003, advoc­ates argued to move away from a strategy that had focused on more incre­mental change.

The gamble has not paid off,” Mr. Garin said.  “We leapfrogged from civil uni­ons to mar­riage, primar­ily as a res­ult of judi­cial decisions that were fol­lowed in some cases by legis­lat­ive action. But the real­ity is that the judi­cial decisions were sub­stan­tially ahead of pub­lic opin­ion, and still are.”

And, it might be added going pell-mell after gay mar­riage also helped George Bush get re-elected in 2004. Which as we know was such a won­der­ful out­come for every­one, gay or straight.

Mr Garin may be more clear-headed on this issue than many gay mar­riage advoc­ates, but the expres­sion ‘ahead of pub­lic opin­ion’ sounds to me like more ‘over­read­ing’.  Maybe most Americans don’t accept that a rela­tion­ship between two men – and after all, it is this double-penised aspect, not two wombs together, that the straight pub­lic think about — is ‘just the same’ as a rela­tion­ship between a man and a woman, not because they’re back­wards, or ignor­ant, or pre­ju­diced, but because, if you’re not blinded by lib­eral plat­it­udes, it clearly isn’t. 

And please, can someone over there point out, if only just to be really annoy­ing, that the assim­il­a­tion of the rad­ic­ally new phe­nomenon on mod­ern gay rela­tion­ships to the moribund insti­tu­tion of mar­riage with its repro­duct­ive role-playing, reli­gious fla­vour­ing, and his­tory of treat­ing women as chat­tel does not exactly rep­res­ent ‘progress’?

Fortunately, there’s one American homo left who isn’t Gore Vidal doing exactly this — though not of course in the NYT.  The nov­el­ist Bruce Benderson, inter­viewed by Christopher Stoddard in the latest issue of East Village Boys about his new book Pacific Agony makes some sali­ent points about male sexu­al­ity which the Andrea Sullivanized American gays don’t want to hear:

Bruce Benderson: I have a kind of old-fashioned idea about what a homo­sexual is, and I think it’s some­body who is made to live out­side the social norm. And the reason he was made to live out­side the social norm is because one of the main func­tions of the struc­ture of a social norm is to per­petu­ate the spe­cies, but I don’t think that’s a nat­ural thing for male homo­sexu­als. Not just homo­sexu­als, but men in gen­eral are nat­ur­ally too promis­cu­ous. It’s their rela­tion­ship with women that makes them more stable so that they can chan­nel it into build­ing a fam­ily. These gay couples are going around say­ing, “Oh, we’re just like you straight couples, really! We just hap­pen to be two men.” I don’t believe that. I think they’re different.

Christopher Stoddard: Okay, so you think that gay men are essen­tially sub­ject to “vice”?

BB: If you want to make that moral judg­ment… Suppose a bomb dropped and there were only 100 women and 1 man left. Well, the­or­et­ic­ally, that man could repop­u­late the spe­cies by impreg­nat­ing 100 women a year. Now, take 100 men and 1 woman after the bomb drops; we could only make 1 baby a year, okay? To per­petu­ate the spe­cies, men have been pro­grammed by evol­u­tion to be promis­cu­ous. Marriage is the social tam­ing of a man’s sexual ener­gies by a woman, which is neces­sary to build a social struc­ture. Because a man is made to screw more than one per­son, there’s nobody to stop him if he’s with just another man.

CS: You sound like the pro­ver­bial Repulican who believes that mar­riage should be between a man and a woman.

BB: I think that mar­riage should be illegal! Just like pledging to God should be illegal. Marriage is a sac­ra­ment that has abso­lutely noth­ing to do with the State, and it should have no legal status what­so­ever. A domestic part­ner­ship should be recog­nized by the State, and it should hinge on things like wills, joint tax fil­ing, inher­it­ance, things like that. And any two people should be able to do it. A mar­riage is just this left-over sac­ra­ment that some­how wiggled its way into legal status.

CS: You don’t believe that two men can be devoted to each other in a mono­gam­ous way and not cheat because of these car­nal needs?

BB: Correct. I believe two men can be totally devoted to each other, but it prob­ably won’t be in the same way that a man and a woman can be totally devoted to each other. I know sev­eral gay male couples who’ve been together a long time and go to the baths together, or they both go to one of those, you know, orgy places.

CS: I think I know who you mean. {chuckles}

BB: Yet they’re totally close, and they totally trust each other, and it’s a won­der­ful pairing.

Be care­ful, Bruce!  You can’t just go around talk­ing the truth about gay men in pub­lic!  Not if you want to be taken ser­i­ously, that is.

That Nice Mr Alain de Botton Can Be Nasty Too!


It’s just been drawn to my slow-witted atten­tion that the ‘pop­u­lar philo­spher’ and pro­fes­sion­ally nice Alain de Botton last month had an hil­ari­ous hissy fit over a crit­ical review of his latest offer­ing ‘The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work’ by Caleb Crain in the New York Times.

Now, none of us writer types like bad reviews — and I’ve penned a tart note or two myself in the past, know­ing full well that such things are ‘not done’. But Mr de Botton is fam­ous for being so incred­ibly nice and proper and pointy-headed and hov­er­ing above the dirty world the rest of us actu­ally have to live — and work - in. He has made a career out of offer­ing us poor mor­tals his Zen-like insights into such human pur­suits as ‘Love’ and ‘Travel’, and ‘Status’, and ‘Happiness’ — usu­ally deploy­ing the regal ‘we’ in place of the vul­gar, egot­ist­ical ‘I’. 

So you can ima­gine it caused quite a stir when he stooped to flam­ing the NYT reviewer on his blog. ‘I will hate you until I die’, he railed.

It may be the most inter­est­ing, most lively thing he’s ever writ­ten.  What’s more, it’s free — and he appears be say­ing now that he thought it was only going to be seen by Caleb.  So here’s the full text (note the curi­ous emphasis he puts on the idea of ‘nice people’):

Caleb you make it sound on your blog that your review is some­how a sane and fair assess­ment. In my eyes, and all those who have read it with any­thing like impar­ti­al­ity, it is a review driven by an almost manic desire to bad-mouth and per­versely depre­ci­ate [sic] any­thing of value. The accus­a­tions you level at me are simply extraordin­ary. I genu­inely hope that you will find your­self on the receiv­ing end of such a daft review some time very soon — so that you can grow up and start to take some respons­ib­il­ity for your work as a reviewer. You have now killed my book in the United States, noth­ing short of that. So that’s two years of work down the drain in one miser­able 900 word review. You present your­self as ‘nice’ in this blog (so much talk about your boy­friend, the dog etc). It’s only fair for your read­ers (nice people like Joe Linker and trust­ing souls like PAB) to get a whiff that the truth may be more com­plex. I will hate you till the day I die and wish you noth­ing but ill will in every career move you make. I will be watch­ing with interest and schadenfreude.’

Of course, the real schaden­freude has been every­one elses’ shame­less joy at the sight of someone so airy-fairy get­ting his knick­ers in such a furi­ous twist.  Mr Nice being unmasked as Mr Nasty.  With a touch of ‘Every Breath You Take’ stalker­ish­ness thrown in (‘…in every career move you make.  I will be watching.…’).

That and the refresh­ingly child­ish spite­ful­ness of the incred­ibly wise and thought­ful de Botton, even as he is admon­ish­ing the reviewer to ‘grow up’.

But what were the ‘manic’ and ‘extraordin­ary’ and ‘daft’ and ‘per­verse’ accus­a­tions lev­elled against de Botton?  In a polite and almost exas­per­at­ingly bal­anced review Crain dared to sug­gest that de Botton had been a bit sniffy about some of the people he inter­viewed — de Botton com­plained for example that one interviewee’s house ‘smelled strongly of freshly boiled cab­bage or swede’.  Or swede.  Deft touch that — show­ing us that Alain isn’t pre­ju­diced against cab­bage, just pro­ley veget­ables in gen­eral.  (Even in his flam­ing of the reviewer for men­tion­ing this, he’s still wrink­ling his nose: ‘…it’s only fair for your read­ers… to get a whiff of some­thing more complex’.)

So you can only ima­gine what Nice Alain made of this rather less polite review by Nasty Mark  a few years ago for the Independent on Sunday, which took his book ‘Status Anxiety’ to task for the fact that  it nowhere addresses the author’s own status or his anxi­ety about what people think about it (his father was one of the richest men in Europe — his mother is one of the richest in the UK, ranked not far below the Queen): 

Precisely because the author is such a polite, learned and charm­ing writer with a fine appre­ci­ation for his­tory, lit­er­at­ure and the arts which he is so very gen­er­ously keen to share with us, he never expli­citly touches on the sub­ject of his own status, or his own anxi­ety about what the world thinks of him. Despite the fact that he must be entirely and pain­fully aware of exactly what people whinge about when his name is men­tioned, and that it has prob­ably ever been thus since Harrow. This is a shame, since it would have made his beau­ti­fully writ­ten but baff­lingly point­less and aim­less book, which claims to deal with some­thing as real and worldly and dirty as status, rather more read­able and infin­itely more relevant.

Actually, we don’t have to ima­gine what Nice Alain made of it.  Following the review, The Independent on Sunday books desk received an irate email marked ‘For Publication’ from a reader which spanked my bot­tom soundly, tak­ing me to task in very sim­ilar terms to the Botton post, decry­ing as I recall, my ‘lack of respons­ib­il­ity’ and my dis­grace­fully ‘ad hom­inem’ review. And most of all, the fact I’m not Nice.

Unfortunately, the let­ter writer had neg­lected to delete the bit at the bot­tom of the email from an earlier for­ward­ing which read: ‘Alain — is this OK?’

That’s the ter­rible thing about the Interweb.  It brings you down to the same level as every­one else. Which isn’t ter­ribly Nice.