Tuesday, January 24, 2006

It was the 19th-century poet Rimbaud—or perhaps it was the 1980s rock ’n’ roll duo Tears for Fears—who reminded a world scarred by injustice, ruined by unemployment, and devastated with run-on sentences that everybody, indeed, wanted to rule the world. True words, those—as brilliant as any life form has ever spoken on any planet ever to exist in the last three millennums. No one bothered to ask what one did once they ruled the world, but, hey, I’m just a squirrel looking for a nut, right?

This brings me around to the topic of my article—much faster than usual for me, of course—which is the occasion of the end of the Black Table. Apparently, some people want to treat this event as some sort of heartrending episode worthy of poignant lamentations and endless drinking. But why? Let us rejoice that the worst burst of literary ineptitude since the New Testament’s Letter from Paul to the Romans—unless, that is, your vote goes to the Old Testament’s Leviticus with its wrong-headed discussions about holiness (C’mon, how can you regulate such ambiguities with laws?)—is finally going the way of the dodo, the Slinky, the notion of a Hilary Clinton presidency.

It might be presumed that, as someone who contributed to the three-year-old site with brilliant regularity, I might be unhappy to see the Black Table laid to rest. This, like many things about this unavuncular blog/zine/Internet monstrosity, is totally wrong. It will be sweet, luscious, orgasmic heaven to be free of my dimwitted editors who rigidly enforced such demands upon me as (1) keeping current with Maxim’s award-winning series of editorials on how to pick up your hot bartender and (2) never writing more than 50 words about any foreign filmmaker with a tilde in his name. (Pedro Almodóvar! Pedro Almodóvar!)

To quote Homer Simpson, I felt like a Spalding Gray trapped in a Rick Dees world around here, and although now only my fiancée will get to hear my provocative comments about Hou Hsiao-hsien’s ravishingly self-enumerating, sophomorically bewitching, rhapsodically jejune Three Times, I am finally almost certainly guaranteed to find an audience that will appreciate just how smart I am. (But even she is barely able to absorb all my accumulated wisdom—I mean, how can she not recognize the inherent parallels between Hitchcock’s immortal Vertigo and the unspoken love between Optimus Prime and Hot Rod in Transformers: The Movie? Why alone was I put on this earth to suffer around such fools?)

Where was I? Oh yes—the Black Table. The original plan of the Black Tablers was neat and efficient: make fun of everybody who was successful. (Put another way: make fun of everybody other than us.) With A.J. Daulerio’s coked-up dementia, Will Leitch’s determined craftsmanship, Eric Gillin’s moody debonair, and Aileen Gallagher’s endless patience, the site comprised a Fantastic Four you could root for, even though there wasn’t a Jessica Alba in the bunch. Along the way, other writers came along—including ones with actual talent who had real books or real journalism jobs—to further validate this self-indulgent morass of anger and hipster impotence. It was a fun trifle, to be sure, but not something deserving of another thought.

But then a tragic thing happened—the Black Table became popular. It got mentioned in The Village Voice and The New Yorker. People started taking such inanities as Daulerio’s “Rock and a Hard Place” series seriously. (It is a shame that the site will be closing down before A.J. was able to land his R.A.A.H.P. interview with Harold Pinter: “Would you rather have Cindy Sherman sodomize you with your Nobel Prize or get a wet canary from Philip Roth?) Unequivocally mortifying it was to watch “The Week in Craig” and “Waxing Off” become necessary intelligentsia reading right up there with “The Talk of the Town” and “Jim Mullen’s Hot Sheet.” Had the universe gone mad? Was there no God?

In short, the Black Tablers ruled the world—a sad, empty world where penis jokes meant more than proper grammar and no matter how unassailably terrific my columns were, I never got paid a cent. It’s not a world I want to live in, that’s for sure, and so I cannot speak my delight loud enough for its quick end. So, dear readers, if you are mourning the Black Table’s retirement, buck up and stay strong; those memories will always exist on the Web—until, of course, those crass, greedy, egomaniacal Black Tablers take down the site and make you pay for The Complete Black Table, an eight DVD-ROM collection listing at about 125 bucks. Weasels.

Believe the Hype Rating: 0 out of 10


Tim Grierson is an editor of The Simon, an online publication of culture, politics, and humor.

Will Leitch and Eric Gillin Use Instant Messenger to Defuse a Bomb I'm staring at it, trying to figure out what the sheet says and I have no fucking idea how to do it.
The Black Table: I Only Know Them for Networking Reasons I only know two of the Black Table's "Big Four," mainly because I rarely come out of my one-bedroom suburban cubbyhole to work the New York media party circuit.
A Quick Roast, Pt. I Here it is, my tamest Black Table story ...

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