In January George W. Bush was still competing with John McCain for the nomination. As Fray poster James said, "It is a Battle of Survivors—a POW camp survivor vs. a summer camp survivor." The most unusual anti-Bush post was titled, "Bush an Aztec death priest?"
February brought the South Carolina primary, and "my exit poll" from Fray favorite Will Allen: The sample was small-scale and local, but the results are well worth reading in full at the end of this Ballotbox.
The size of the sample was one. The vote was cast for McCain. When queried, the sample provided the issue that was most important in influencing the decision: the Bush campaign bugged the sample more often with telemarketing than McCain. In the midst of a very busy week, the sample was bothered by the Governor's posse a total of six times, while the Senator's crew only distracted the sample from pressing business once.—Will Allen
The other big event of that week led P.Heckman to ask what was that show again: "Who wants to Elect a Multi-Millionaire?"
Remember the Washington WTO protests in April? Didn't think so. But who could forget this, at the end of the April 11 Net Election?
Kudos to the protestors. I wish I had the intestinal fortitude to stand with them and face the technocrats, the bureaucrats, the corpo-rats, scheming to make zillions at the cost of fellow billions. I faced my demons in the highlands of South Vietnam. Now it's my son's and daughter's turn to fight and bleed for what they deem is just. Activism and radicalism is good, to a point. This time, the point is good. My avid support to our urban guerrillas, the resistance fighters of today and tomorrow.—James Ignacio Warnes
Also in April: Elián. Discussed in this " The Breakfast Table" and this Fray post:
Has anyone noticed that the names of everyone in the Elian saga sound oddly fictionalized, as if they were all in a particularly bad symbolic novel? Donato Dalrymple (why didn't Agatha Christie think of that?), Elian, Marisleysis—and this is the kicker: the uncle that presumably "revived" Elian is named Lazaro. The whole thing sounds like a metadrama where the characters suddenly step off the stage and become real people. I bet Dickens is turning over in his grave right now.—Dola
The summer brought Survivor, and some very hot Frays, but it was a June Culturebox on the TV show Big Brother that produced this:
I am a 72-year-old male, and have been trying to acquire a description of my sex life. You gave it to me in your last paragraph, fourth sentence from the bottom. Thank you.—Ed Auen
This is a censored version of the sentence in question: "The gentle voice and tender concern of Regis Philbin masking the cruelty of Survivor, all blended together in a mass [word omitted] the likes of which Americans have not yet seen."
In July, Timothy Noah wrote about a Very Famous Political Quote in Chatterbox, and we found this in his Fray:
Subject: Tim, I Knew Noah, You're No Noah!
Date: Mon Jul 17 13:01:54
Also in July, the best line on Social Security, by SL to a July 12 Moneybox: "Whatever happened to preventing one daughter from marrying so that she could care for you in your old age?"
By the Fall, we could tell there was an election coming, and this post discussed the issue that wouldn't go away:
One reason why the "stupid" charge won't stick to Bush is that those held up as intellectual giants in American politics are so frequently in the habit of saying things that are obviously dumb. We can afford their stupidities, because they just don't matter much. Perhaps what they hate about Bush is that he's a reminder of this.—A.G.Android
October brought a useful reminder to all of us—remember those troublesome Undecided Voters? This was for Chatterbox:
The task of the voter is not to make the pollster/pundit's job easy—it is to vote and elect people to representative office. There is no undecided voter: only those that vote and those that do not vote. And given the candidate choices this campaign I would not publicly boast that I had speedily and eagerly decided my vote.—C.Rome
On either side of November 7 came two of the highlights of the Fray year: the reader contests. Guess what Al Gore meant by his drawings here and name the Florida mess, here. How Slatesters Voted was another Fray free-for-all.
And after that Fray posters spent the rest of the year saying they were fed up with politics, but then they rushed to non-political articles to add that chad dimension to items on Christmas trees or mattresses.
More Fray Notes: You Were in Good Company Department. Fray posters this year included Ralph Nader, Laurence Tribe, Steven Pinker, John Allen Paulos, Robert Putnam, Amy Bloom, Mike McCurry, and at least half a dozen of the authors whose books were being discussed in "The Book Club." We love that. But aren't you more impressed that Michael Lewis' Roman landlord came to give his views on his tenant? That one Slate writer was chased through his Fray by people to whom he owed work? (Sworn to secrecy, no names.) Interactive Fray in action: If you thought cookery writers were very proper, see what Jeffrey Steingarten called a Fray poster he didn't like: click here, fifth paragraph. Lighten up, who? And we're not telling you which journalist who was criticized in Slate got people who worked for him to pretend to be neutral strangers and post in The Fray in his defense.
The Fray Editor also answers the Fraymail, and she would like to include here the reply she most enjoyed writing: "Thank you for your e-mail message, 'Filth in The Fray.' I checked out the post you said contained bondage and S&M pornography. It was actually the lyrics of a U2 song."
Some posts defy categories: This came in response to a Culturebox on marriage:
I read your article about bourgeois marriage.
I was married for 15 years, and she died two years ago.
Some days all I can think about is the smell of her hair, how much I loved her, and the times I wasn't a good enough husband.—JL
In the Breakfast Table in the spring—remember all those marriage proposals for the Mendelsohns?—we found this, on the topic of reader/writer Fray interaction:
There's a kind of community feel to cyber-forums (especially The Fray), and a good dis seems to get the blood going. I don't doubt that there are members of the family who like to go out of their way to be hurtful. Who needs 'em? But I think the majority simply like to zing a professional now and then, in good humor. After all, when a writer responds to a hateful slam, the Fray disciple is usually so amazed they apologize profusely and recant. I myself did it just this week, with David Edelstein, and was happy to read that he took it so well and replied with a joke to boot. I think a large part of it has to do with the fact that the writers at Slate are considerate enough to respond to their readers, also.—Broham
Seems about right. Carry on into 2001, Fray posters and Slate writers.