Growing Things in Dishes

Graham and Wasserstein

Growing Things in Dishes

Graham and Wasserstein

Growing Things in Dishes
An email conversation about the news of the day.
Nov. 6 1998 1:15 PM

Graham and Wasserstein

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Good Morning, Wendy:

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Did you have any idea that, as our messages to each other travel back and forth on the Internet, they have some very unsavory company? I base this on the NY Times story (B2) that states that "more than half the Internet's bandwidth, or capacity, is taken up with traffic in adult material." Think of it: our earnest commentary on this week's news, broken down in to "bytes" or "pixels" or whatever they are, on their way through the fiber optic wires, brushing up against little digital pieces of naked people having sex with goats--gross! Not that Mark Tiarra, the 29-yr-old designer of porn websites who is the subject of the article, would stoop to that level: "Our sites," he states, "try to cross the line between art and erotica." Of course, he doesn't mention in what direction they cross it.

Unfortunately the article doesn't provide any specific website addresses...oh, by the way, a brief aside to the Slate editorial team: somebody has been editing out my ellipses (those little dots we fall back on when we can't finish a thought or make a proper transition). I am well aware that Fowler, Strunk & White, and most other authorities condemn their use, but I use them consciously , to indicate a postmodern sensibility and reflect the radical instability of the signifier. Please let me have my dots.

In reply to that last paragraph you might well reply, along with David Frum on the Times op-ed page, that "it will be hard to keep the sense of right and wrong alive in a society founded on the principle that so long as two individuals [in this case, Wendy and I] consent to something, it can never be condemned by anybody else [in this case, our editor]." Well, first of all, Mr. Frum is talking about sodomy, and second of all, I don't even agree with him about that. Mr. Frum is warning the Republican Party not to throw family values overboard, just because the electorate doesn't seem interested in them right now. The pendulum will swing back again, he says. After all, if they hadn't held firm on the confiscatory tax issue "40 years ago" (?), we would still be "groaning" under the burden of 90 percent income tax rates. I'm not sure I follow Mr. Frum's analogy of tax rates and anal sex; but I suppose they do both involve groaning. ...

See how useful dots can be? Now, Wendy, let me respond to your comments of this A.M. First of all, I'm not concerned about the ethical issues involved in the growing of new organs from human embryos. It seems to me there are plenty of embryos, and if we can divert a few of them from overpopulating the planet and make them grow me a new kidney when I need one, I'm all for it. I wonder how soon this research will be applied clinically, and whether it will be too late for John Bobbitt?

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I agree with you re Sandra Bernhard: the more Peter Marks oohs and ahs, the less I want to see the show. "Taking a trip to the dark side of People magazine" isn't my idea of a great night on the town, especially when you add parking and dinner. And I'm sure Sandra "dismantles Linda Evangelista" with great skill, but still the question remains in one's mind...why? Personally, I'm saving my theater ticket budget for David Hare's upcoming Blue Room, in which Nicole Kidman will appear naked "for several seconds in one scene" (Times, E2). Not , as I was erroneously told last night, in a body stocking (someone was trying to ruin my evening).

Wendy, it was clear to me that the subtext to your remarks about Sandra Bernhard and the prevalence of "edginess" was to set yourself up as the alternative, a representative of artistic "niceness." Well if you're so nice, how can you be "delighted" about poor Newt's troubles. Being Speaker is all he has, you know. I'm transferring my sympathy from Al D'Amato, since reading in yesterday's NY Post that he will have his pick of influential state government appointments, or lucrative jobs in the private sector. So I can go back to hating him. But Wendy, if there's one thing I'm convinced of it's that, to paraphrase Novalis, "naming is destiny." If your parents had named you Newt instead of Wendy, your personality might have grown a few rough edges as well.

I'm off to the Columbia area, to have lunch with my nephew Will who is a freshman there, and I'll ask him what he thinks about going on strike in order to study.

Plant ya now, dig ya later,

Stephen

Stephen Graham lives in New York City, where he is pursuing a doctorate in English literature. He is co-publisher of Ecco Press and a contributing editor at Grand Street. Wendy Wasserstein, a playwright, is author of An American Daughter, The Heidi Chronicles, The Sisters Rosensweig, and others.