by Shelton Bumgarner
I’m not a fan of pretense. I’m also not a fan of people who feel they can be snooty to me because I don’t meet their preconceived metrics. This brings us to Maggie Haberman. The more I about her unnecessary rudeness to me on Twitter the funnier it becomes.
She reminds me of this woman I met through Tinder once who told me very earnestly that I should stop writing, full stop. In her ever-so-well articulated view I was wasting my time and she could convey this opinion with authority because she “worked with creatives” and I sucked and had no future in writing. This was the same woman who got triggered because I posted pictures of hot chicks on my Facebook wall.
Haberman seems like she would be the woman everyone would avoid at a party. Or if I was at the same party with her, I would spend my time eyeing her and preparing to wait for my moment to chat her up in a sly way that would expose her for the pompous ass that she is.
The crazy thing about this is that all the other Times people I’ve met or talked to have been very serious, very professional but also fairly human. They seemed at least willing to humor me when I talked to them. I mean, hell, Jennifer 8. Lee went out of her way to talk to me when she swung by Seoul to work on her book on….fortune cookies*.
Anyway. Now that I have closure I just want to laugh about my little run in. People who use metrics that cause them to look down on me evoke a level of derision that keeps me entertained for some time. I get where she’s coming from — she is the Trump Whisperer afterall. She has it all. Fame. Power. Access. You name it. But she also doesn’t have much humility.
In fact, the only thing that prevents me from making fun of her in a gratuitous manner for days to come is she’s so humorless that she is unlikely to get the joke. So, lulz. You win this round, Ms. Haberman. But I am writing a novel and you can rest assured I’m going to make an allusion to you somehow.
*The article about that event I wrote for ROKon Magazine is reproduced below.
ROKing Sinchon with Jenny 8
Jennifer 8. Lee likes food.
Recently, I hung out with the New York Times reporter and her friend Tomoko Hosaka of the Wall Street Journal here in Seoul.
The plan was for her to go to a jimjilbang with Annie Shapiro and ms. tiff, but that didn’t work out. Tomoko wanted to go to eat “Korean barbeque” and since Annie and Tiff are veggies, they were left out. This story was supposed to be about Annie and Tiff taking Jenny to a jimjilbang and getting all nekkid – now that would have been funny – but there are no happy endings in Korea so you get this write-up instead. I took a picture of the two ladies at the restaurant, but they wouldn’t let me use it. I generally think taking pictures of yourself with famous people is kind of lame, so you, gentle reader, will just have to settle for a picture of the fortune cookie I was given. If Annie and Tiff had done the story, maybe the situation would be different.
On the way to the subway, Jenny kept stopping to eat stuff from street vendors. I had to DJ that Friday night and we had to go all the way across town, so I was starting to stress out a little bit.
Again and again, she would ask me what this or that food was offered at street vendors as we headed towards the subway station. I had no clue. “I eat because I have to, not because I want to,” I told her finally. What else could I say?
The fact that I met her is a testament not only to this wacky Internet age that we live in, but how being an expatriate in a place like Korea has its quirky advantages.
I met Jenny ’cause I, well, picked on her middle name online. When I first came to Korea I had way too much drunken spare time on my hands, so I often found myself in bouts of soju-fueled writing binges.
“I can not stress enough how odd it is that Jennifer Lee uses an ‘8’ for her middle name. It’s just totally unheard of. It’s like one of the
columns of Western civilization has suddenly become just a little unstable,” I once wrote. “I don’t care that her name really is ‘Jennifer 8. Lee.’ In
years gone by, an editor would have taken one look at it, eyed the flask of Jack Daniels in his desk drawer then said, ‘Look, kid, I don’t care how
lucky the damn number is, you’re going by ‘Jennifer Lee‘ from now on.'”
Her middle name is a lucky number in Chinese culture. How exactly she was able to keep it in her byline eludes me. The fact that she graduated from Harvard University may have something to do with it.
When this actual famous reporter out of the blue contacted me, it both made me very happy and very nervous. She contacted me because she had read some of the shit I had written about her online and she needed some help finding Chinese restaurants in Korea. She’s on sabbatical from the Times to write a book on, like, the best Chinese restaurants in the world or some such. The first time she contacted me, I suddenly felt kinda bad about all the pointless mental masturbation I expended on her.
It’s funny how you can talk shit about a famous person online, but when you actually meet them you treat them like you would anyone else. While she’s no Maureen Dowd, in some media circles, Jennifer 8. Lee is, in fact, “famous” or “notorious.” For people who read Gawker.com, Jenny is shorthand for a reporter who writes seemingly pointless trend stories about things like “man dates.” She had the odd habit of using the phrase, “people of my generation” in a very authoritative tone, like she literally was speaking for everyone her age. “Jenny, you’re younger than I am,” I said teasingly at least once over galbi.
She actually has a rather bubbly, cute personality. My lone meeting with her did leave some1thing of a mystery in my mind — how is it that someone who, in the words of one article “causes $148,000 in damage to her Washington condo” actually be quite nerdy? What the heck does she do? She is obviously an extremely smart woman and from the little mischievous glint in her eye I can see how she probably loves to host a great party. But like all the great reporters I’ve known, she didn’t seem like much of a extrovert. She was quiet and curious about everything.
I picked her up at the Ritz Carlton. When I met her, she handed me a fortune cookie, while I handed her a copy of ROKon. “Fortune cookies are actually originally from Japan, not China,” Jenny said. It was a huge fortune cookie. It looked like a piece of found art. “I’ll either eat it when I’m drunk or crush it when I’m drunk,” I quipped.
I took the women to Sinchon to my favorite Korean restaurant. I go there so much that I’m like a part of the family. Tomoko seemed a bit uneasy hanging out with little old me, while Jenny was a good sport. I wanted to get Tomoko drunk to loosen her up a bit, but she had an early morning date with the DMZ.
At one point, I felt kinda bad for Tomoko. She’s a fairly important journalist in her own right, and all I did was talk to Jenny.
“I know you went to Harvard, Jenny,” I said invoking the “H-bomb” without meaning to, “But where did you go, Tomoko?”
“Northwestern,” she said with just a touch forlornly.
We talked a long time. I talked up ROKon, while the ladies were more interested in the food than anything I had to say. They’re an intense bunch, those two. I told them about knowing another Wall Street Journal reporter, Lina, but neither of them knew her. They were perplexed that they didn’t know her ’cause she has some connection to the Washington Post. Jenny acted like if there was an Asian who worked in any capacity at the Post, she would know her.
I had of vision of taking Jenny to Nori People and being able to see her shake what her momma gave her to my musical selections, but it was not to be. Jenny couldn’t stay. I did take Tomoko and Jenny there just to show it to her. “Oh, this is fun,” she said. You have to give those New York Times reporters credit, they are an observant bunch.
They left a lot sooner than I’d liked. As I said, I had all these grand plans to show them what a fun time we ROKon staffers were. Jenny promised to show me around New York City if I ever happened to end up there. The more I look at that fortune cookie, though, the more it looks like something that rhymes with “Mulva.”
By SHELTON BUMGARNER
ROKon Magazine Editor