Ask Matt Labash, Vol. IX: Meat-tinis, funemployment and the death of journalism

Matt Labash Columnist
Font Size:

EDITOR’S NOTE: Have a burning sensation? Consult your doctor. Have a burning question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.

Johnny Cash or Nick Cave? Aphex Twin or Dr. Dre? Blackalicious or Jay Z? Built to Spill or Modest Mouse? Patton Oswalt or Doug Stanhope? Chicken or Beef? Christian Science Monitor or The New York Times? Sarah Silverman or Anderson Cooper? Wii or Basic Cable? Xbox 360 or PS3? Booze or Food? — Fancyrocks

To exhibit my gameness, my refined taste, and my intimidating range of expertise, I will answer all of these questions, even the ones I don’t understand.

  1. Johnny Cash or Nick Cave? Is it possible to pose any easier of a choice? Why not, “Who would you rather have sex with, Angie Harmon or Janet Napolitano?” Johnny Cash—duhhhh! I’m not some kind of smelly hipster. Even though all the smelly hipsters have decided they love Johnny Cash too, nearly ruining him for the rest of us. Man, I hate smelly hipsters. Can I change my answer to Michael Bublé?
  2. Aphex Twin or Dr. Dre? As producers, both leave me cold. Give me RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan. I’m Wu-Tang for life. I came pretty close to naming my oldest son Ghostface Killah and my youngest son Inspectah Deck. Until I remembered they were white. Though I do have a Wu-Tang name myself, given to me by an internet Wu-Tang name generator. During the Daily Caller’s annual Hip-Hop Appreciation Week, in fact, we’ll be changing the name of this column to “Ask Lazy-Assed Samurai.”
  3. Blackalicious or Jay Z? Why? When there already exists Eric B. and Rakim, the greatest act in the history of rapdom.
  4. Built to Spill or Modest Mouse? Can’t help you with this one, on account of my heterosexuality.
  5. Patton Oswalt or Doug Stanhope? Daniel Tosh, perhaps the best comic working today.
  6. Chicken or Beef? Beef. Though generally, I prefer the other red meat, human flesh.
  7. Christian Science Monitor or New York Times? I love Christians, I love science. But put the two together, and you’ve got a failing Mary Baker Eddy-founded ghost of itself that doesn’t even publish a daily physical paper anymore. You can’t line birdcages with pixels. I’ll stick with the Old Gray Lady.
  8. Sarah Silverman or Anderson Cooper? When I want a good laugh, Sarah Silverman. When I want a good cry, Anderson Cooper. When I want to feel incapacitating pangs of melancholy, I just open my “Fun Times I’ve Had Scrapbook,” and revel in youthful days that I’ll never know again.
  9. Wii or Basic Cable? Basic cable, unless we’re talking Wii tennis. I’m the Roger Federer of Wii tennis. If you’re about to play Wii tennis, and notice that I’m your opponent, I strongly suggest stopping, dropping and rolling to a place of safety under a chair. Because I will serve you your testicles, then leap the net and stomp on them. (If you’re a girl, I’ll serve you your ovaries, because I might be a bad sport, but I’m not a sexist).
  10. Xbox 360 or PS3? Fly fishing. What are you, 12? Leave the house and get some fresh air and sunlight, loser.
  11. Booze or food? Too hard. Can’t choose. I’ll split the difference and say bourbon-marinated steak. Or else you can just put meat cubes in my Old Fashioned. That way, all my essential vitamins and nutrients are covered.

Have you ever been fired? Why? — Michael

As of this writing, I’ve been fired once. Why, you ask? For loving too much. Not the job. Myself. I hated the job. It was dreary and monotonous. Right after college, I was doing title searches at a local courthouse, while waiting to land an entry-level gig in journalism. A family “friend” had hired me—now a family nemesis—and when he could tell that I was paying closer attention to the want ads than to the land records, he sent me packing.

Though it wasn’t my career of choice, I needed the money, and didn’t see this coming. It was a real kick in the gooloos. I was despondent. I couldn’t eat. I lost interest in my stories on afternoon television. I stopped doing my hair and wearing the lacy things that make me feel pretty. That was probably for the best, since I’m a dude. My heart was filled with hatred. But I used that hatred. Not to fire my determination to find a journalism job that would allow me to become a beacon of truth, to blow the lid off corruption, and to win the prestigious awards that have since become synonymous with my name as I comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted (everybody says you should do it the other way around, but if we never afflict the afflicted, they might get too comfortable). No, I used that hatred to help me kill his cat, then to make it look like an accident.

I’ve never seen my terminator again. But I’ve often thought of what I’d say if we ran into each other. It’s never polite to gloat, of course. Though look at me now. Here I am, commanding the attention of tens of readers who hang on my every word, at least until the page jump, when they get bored, and go look for Internet porn. But sometimes, in my quieter moments, I think about how thousands and thousands of print journalists have lost their jobs in the last year. About how young people would rather put their hand in a vat of boiling oil than read a newspaper or a magazine. And I think about what I’d say to that ruthless Babbitt back at the courthouse, who handed a young kid a humiliation, just when that kid most needed a shot of confidence. I think I’d grab him by the lapels, get about an inch from his face, and say “So, do you still have any openings? Something part-time, even?”

If he doesn’t, and the bottom falls out of our industry—more than it already has—no big deal. I’ll become Jim Treacher’s personal shopper/swagger coach. We survivors don’t have to think about surviving. It’s just something we do.

Matt Labash is a senior writer with the Weekly Standard magazine. His book, “Fly Fishing With Darth Vader: And Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys,” is just published from Simon and Schuster. Have a question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.