Ask Matt Labash

Ask Matt Labash: Vol. II

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Matt Labash
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      Matt Labash

      Hi, welcome to “Ask Matt Labash.” I’ll be your host, Matt Labash. The idea for this column – if idea isn’t too strong a word – is that it is not a column at all. Rather, it’s a conversation. One in which I do ninety-five percent of the talking. If you did most of the talking, you’d have to watch my eyes go dead and my attention wander until it was my turn to talk again. So trust me, it’s better this way.

      For those unfamiliar with me from my day job at The Weekly Standard, I’ll give you a capsule bio by way of introduction: I have the gift of wisdom. Does that sound arrogant? I’m sorry, that wasn’t my intention. I didn’t choose wisdom. It chose me. If I had my druthers, I’d have chosen another gift, perhaps the untold riches of Lil’ Wayne, whose teeth are made of actual diamonds, or to be the sexiest man alive, like Rachel Maddow. But wisdom is what they gave me, so wisdom is all I have to give back to you.

      This is not, you should know, a mere advice column. If you need advice, I’ll give it. But the only rule here is that there are no rules. You can ask me a question about anything that’s on your mind: current events, pop culture, media, theology, string theory, fishing tips, wicker repair. The only limits we have are those of your imagination. And those of my knowledge base. Which is considerably limited, truth be told. So try not to ask me anything that requires research. Though they tell me I have access to Google on this computer if we need it.

      If all goes according to plan, ours will not be a traditional writer/reader relationship. It’s more complex than that. I might empathize or cajole. I might educate, instruct, or inspire. I might pretend to answer your question while actually reporting you to Social Services, since you’re a dangerous person who should not have contact with children. I might tell you to climb up on my shoulders, that you’re not heavy, you’re my brother. Or I might tell you that you are heavy, and that you should hop down until you lose a few pounds. I might just sidle up behind you, put my big strong man hands on the small of your back, and whisper in your ear the words of the poet, Kenny Rogers: “We’ve got tonight, who needs tomorrow?”

      To which you’ll say something like, “I can’t, I’ve got to go home and wash my hair.”
      To which I’ll say something like, “Shhh. We’ve got tonight babe, why don’t you stay?”
      Wherever this takes us, our journey begins now:

      <i>Matt Labash is a senior writer with The Weekly Standard. His first book, <a href="">Fly Fishing with Darth Vader: And Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys</a> will be published next month by Simon & Schuster.</i>

You called Rachel Maddow a man? How dare you, sir? How dare you? – Jim Treacher

Great question, Jim. I admit that in my last column, I did in passing refer to Rachel Maddow as “the sexiest man alive.” Was it my proudest moment? Certainly not. That would be when I won first place in my Indian Guides’ pinewood derby in 1977. I still have the ribbon. I’m wearing it now.

Since that column, however, I’ve had time to reflect. Because I’m not just here to answer questions. I’m here to ask questions of myself. How can I teach, if I’m unwilling to learn? That too, is a great question, Jim, even if I’m the one asking it.

I have indeed learned something this week: The beautiful and talented Rachel Maddow has lots of fans. And those fans were hurt by what I said. And when they hurt, I hurt. Though I think some of them willfully misinterpreted that I was somehow disparaging Ms. Maddow because she is a lesbian. Which couldn’t be more false, since I am perpetually and eternally enthusiastic about lesbians. I embrace Maddow’s lesbianism. In fact, any woman who wants to explore lesbianism has both my applause and encouragement.

Still, who do I think I am, implying that Rachel Maddow has a somewhat mannish appearance? What kind of frat-boy mouth-breather would say that in public? Where would I get such an idea? I honestly don’t know. I can’t imagine anybody else saying such a thing. Wait a second. Actually, I can:

“I am what I am, I look like a dude.” – Rachel Maddow, as quoted by The New Yorker, October 17, 2009

“I’m a big lesbian who looks like a man. I am not, like, Anchor Babe, and I’m never gonna be.” – Rachel Maddow as quoted in GQ magazine, November 2008

Please go easy on her, Media Matters. I’ve watched her show. She’s a good person. I don’t think she meant anything by it.

When will you start showing us your wisdom? – Bill J.

I’m shooting for some time in late March or early April. But let’s see how it goes. I don’t want to peak too early.

Are you a cat person or a dog person? – Erin J.

In my taxonomy of the world, there are two kinds of people:

  1. Dog people.
  2. People who are dead to me.

If you do not love dogs, the problem isn’t dogs. The problem is you. It means there is a whistling black hole where your heart should be, and you have no moral center. Whatever you do, do not reproduce and pass on your inferior genes to innocents. Along with bacon and guacamole, dogs are God’s most perfect creation. I don’t feel as strongly about cats, though I have nothing against them. They’re fine. Particularly when wrapped in bacon and dipped in guacamole.

Is it OK to pee in a public swimming pool? – Tim B.

Many cultures throughout history have believed in the medicinal power of urine. Arguably, this means that if you pee in a pool, you’re not just a man with a weak bladder, you’re a healer. According to my sources at Wikipedia, a religious Sanskrit text called the Damar Tantra contains 107 stanzas on the benefits of urine, the term for which translates as the “waters of Shiva.” So though it’s a judgment call, I say let it flow. Particularly if you’re swimming with Hindus.

All my friends from college are making three times as much money as me. Now, even though I really enjoy what I do–and even though I suspect my friends will hate themselves in 20 years and have nothing show for their efforts but broken marriages and alimony payments–I can’t shake the feeling that I, too, will look back on a life of following my passions and regret that I didn’t chase the money. As someone who seems to have it all (you go fishing too frequently to argue otherwise, so don’t even try), do you think I should ditch this zen shit and find a way to make money? – Kirsten E.

What is money but filthy paper with other people’s fingerprints on it? Ask yourself this: what do cocaine users do to get high? Do they snort money? No, they roll up money to inhale the cocaine that fills the void that money can’t. Of course, they need money to buy the cocaine, so maybe that’s a bad example. Let’s start over.

The happiest people I know are those who have figured out how to get paid to follow their passions. That’s why I make money on weekends playing parties as an Andy Gibb impersonator. (“Shadow Dancing” isn’t something I do, it’s something I am.) Let’s allow that money can be a good thing. I certainly have nothing against it, and encourage everyone reading this to mail me some.

But why do we want money? Because it gives us the freedom to do things. Except many people spend most of their lives sacrificing their freedom to chase money to make themselves feel freer for the relatively small portion of the time that they’re able to enjoy it. You already enjoy your life, and seem to feel free most of the time, except when you’re worrying about not making enough money. The way I see it, your middle man has already been eliminated. So quit beating yourself up for being happy. Follow your passion. Unless your passion means becoming an advice columnist. We don’t need more of those. In that event, I suggest you quit being lazy, retire from hippiedom, get a real job, and make some actual money.

Given the imminent failure of your humor writing, what do you plan to do with the rest of your life? — Sydney

Thanks for reading, Sydney! I don’t know, to be honest with you. I was thinking about taking some time off to find myself. Maybe travel a little. Then, after that, I’ll probably return to Media Matters, to see if they held my old Sean Hannity-monitoring job. You don’t need to have a sense of humor to work over there. In fact, they prefer you don’t.

Previous Edition

Matt Labash is a senior writer with The Weekly Standard. His first book, “Fly Fishing with Darth Vader: And Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys” will be published next month by Simon & Schuster.