Eric Alterman,

Eric Alterman,

A weeklong electronic journal.
April 24 1998 3:30 AM

Eric Alterman,

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       Tonight I have to leave Eve Rose for the first time since she came home from the hospital. It is indescribably weird to miss someone who cannot talk, does little besides sleep and cry, and did not even exist the last time I went away at the end of March. Asking myself whether Eve will miss me--or whether she is even distinctly aware of my existence--is a road to madness, I fear. She does seem to quiet down when I pick her up sometimes, but at this stage of her life, I doubt she's too particular about that.
       I do know that if I did die on this trip, she would miss the music I play for her. Diana has already begun using Eve as part of her imperialistic program to purge our CD collection of all of its '70s refugees. If it were up to her, there would be no Dead, no Allmans, no Derek and the Dominoes (including "Layla"), no Tuna, no Led Zep, and don't even think about sappy stuff like Steely Dan. She would barely tolerate Bruce and would not listen to any jazz except Ben Webster and pre-Wayne Shorter Miles. She tries to draft Eve into her arguments by insisting that the baby will start crying again if I put on "Eat a Peach." But I know that my little girl likes nothing more than to dance with her daddy while Duane and Dickie wail away.
       Speaking of parochial tastes, what is with this Seth Stevenson fellow? Can Mr. Gates please have him killed? I helped put together a terrific special issue of The Nation on Israel, which is not only excellent in its own right but is politically important because The Nation (circulation 104,000)--like the New Republic (circulation 97,000) but obviously for different reasons--has had trouble sounding sensible about Israel in the past. But this Seth guy's "In Other Magazines" column was too busy covering a Weekly Standard (circulation 66,000) cover story on--Stop the Presses--highways. Why do Slate (circulation ?) writers have such a thing for Rupert Murdoch? I realize that this is the kind of annoyance that is not supposed to matter once you've had a kid, but fuck that. When Eve gets old enough, I plan to pass all my prejudices along to her, which means Seth should give a wide berth to her house next time he's in the neighborhood.
       Anyway, I have to go to Washington to report a story and to do C-SPAN with Chris Buckley, which I am hoping will not be too embarrassing. I much prefer to be on the show with Cro-Magnon types like Paul Weyrich. Chris is funnier, richer, more successful, and a better writer than I am. His father has worse politics, but no one seems to hold it against either one of them. I had a conversation with Garry Wills at the Republican convention a couple of years ago, and we were trying to think of children of very famous people who had not turned into complete messes. Chris was pretty much the only name we came up with that didn't require so many caveats that the whole enterprise didn't become pointless. I don't think Eve is in any kind of danger on this score, however, particularly when Seth Stevenson doesn't even think The Nation's special issue on Israel is worthy of mention.
       So this diary is ending. I guess its point, if it has one, is that being an unwed father isn't really any different than being a wed father, except you pay less in taxes while you're alive and more when you die. Plus you have to explain yourself a lot. Wed or not, Eve is the best thing I've done with my 38 years. She's sitting in a little chair on my desk right now, staring at me with big blue eyes and I, alas, am at a loss for words ...

Eric Alterman is a columnist for The Nation and MSNBC. His daughter, Eve Rose Alterman, was born on April 6, 1998 (7 lbs., 11 oz.).