Last week a very odd thing happened— I published an article ripping Russian Journal publisher Ajay Goyal in... the Russia Journal. I’ve had some questions, mainly from concerned friends, as to how such a bizarre thing could actually take place. After all, Goyal’s contempt for the eXile, and vice versa, is a well-established matter of record. Only just last year an article in the eXile so infuriated Goyal that he burst into our offices with his eyes popping out of his head, demanding a physical meeting with me or Ames. Fortunately, we weren’t there... In any case, by way of further explaining this most recent incident, and also for the amusement of our readers, I’ve decided to publish the correspondence between Goyal and myself that led to my article appearing in the Russia Journal.

A few notes about these letters, and about the article in general. The whole communication began when I was bored last Tuesday afternoon and decided to make up— and tell Goyal— some sinister story about a policeman having visited me to ask questions about him and his business. I figured that Goyal was an person of higher-than-average paranoia levels, and that such a story, if told properly, might cost him a few minutes’ sleep. So I took a half-hour to rattle off the first letter in the sequence below and send it off. He responded with a few hours, beginning the amusing exchange.

The rest of all of this is more or less self-explanatory. I’d like to add one note, however. In the column I eventually submitted to Goyal, I picked on the photo he used for his “Intellectual Capital” column, calling it a “priceless portrait of the august publisher-entrepreneur with a cell phone pressed against his dark cheek.” In the next issue of the RJ, that photo was gone, replaced by a no-less-demented caricature pencil drawing of Goyal, rendered in the style of Edward Gorey, with slanting vampiral eyebrows. I don’t claim responsibility for the change, but I do make note of it. Here’s the rest:

May 22, 2001


It pains me to have to do this, but propriety demands that I inform you that some guy came by my offices last week and was asking questions about you. He showed me an ID that said he was from the sledstvenniy otdel of the MVD, but I think it was fake. I said nothing to him and told him to leave my offices, intimating that I did not believe his credentials were genuine. He did, which confirmed my suspicions.

The name on the ID was Gennady Friedman. I already called the MVD and they say they have no such person.

His approach to me was to identify himself as being from the MVD, bring up the taped-call article I wrote about you, and ask if I had any further information about your “connections”. I then asked him for his ID, and asked him to leave. That’s where it ended. I haven’t heard anything back. I also checked with my friends to see if they’re playing a joke on me. They insist they aren’t. In theory I suppose you yourself could have sent this person to me, but I’m not sure to what end you would have done that. Anyway, I thought you ought to hear from me in either case. If you’re behind this, please be aware that I know that this person isn’t real, and if you’re not, I suppose you’re entitled to know that someone’s sniffing around about you.


Matt T.



You have been in Russia long enough to be worrying about such things.

We have had a dozen such “inspections” from Petrovka, from MVD and from Prosecutor’s office in the last two years.

Some “Grazhdanin Petrov” wrote to Prosecutors that we were publishing “Angazhirovnoe Statiy.” We were asked to translate hundreds of our articles and submit explanations to prosecutors. We told them to fuck off. I think every department with uniform has been to check us once or more.

If one is in the newspaper business, these visits and people like you are perks that come with the job.

Thanks for letting me know anyhow. I will pass on your concern to you-know-who and he should be able to take care of it. I could always use such visits write an article for Britt’s content ( with cc to JRL, of course) and bag a book deal, besides a speaking assignment at Carnegie.

What do you know. They might even invite me to NPC. The opportunities that Friedman and his visits present are enormous.

Next time something like this happens, I suppose you could always run and hide behind Biven’s skirt ( and send an e-mail to JRL.) We can take care of ourselves.

So, NO. I would not send someone to you. If I had an issue with you, I would come myself. I did come over to see you guys and wanted to compliment you for the one you pulled on me. That was a good one. I have never seen you or Bivens and I thought it would be good to visit your office and at least see your faces. And I do not carry fake IDs though we have had at least three such visitors this year who could not be traced back.

Moreover, you have not done anything to desrve an expense from me. Friedmans of Russia cost a lot of money. And if it were someone from me, you would have known. Two of your balls would be missing. From what I have seen, you do not have any to begin with and it would seem to be a sheer waste of money. And we do not like wasting “Kremlin’s Dollars.”

When you grow up, you would realize that we can never get emotional about the stray dogs running and barking behind our cars. The act of sending someone to you would be as senseless as stopping the car and shooting the dog for barking.

As for MVD checking on me, Taibbi, I have been doing business in Russia for 13 years. Believe me, they always know what they need to know. There are no secrets.

Ajay Goyal

PS 1: I still think you should write a Press Review more often than reporting rapes and petty crime. Anytime you want to write for our paper, let me know. We’ll edit it, of course and cut it to 800 words but you could earn as much as $50 per column.

PS 2: I am told by my “sources” that you are throwing a party this month. What happened to your decency Taibbi? You have not invited me!


Dear Ajay,

I think it’s a great idea to parlay this into an article for “Britt’s Content.” But my friends at the better-known “Brill’s Content” will be disappointed that you’ve defected. They’ll also be unnerved by the news that they have a new competitor.

Bivens doesn’t wear a skirt. He’s the dominant partner in the relationship. He does, however, like to dress up in 19th-century period costumes. Maybe you can join us— play the coolie in a Raj threesome scenario.

I’ll be happy to contribute Press Review columns for you. That’s on the condition that you also hire me to fix your grammar and syntax. Najarian is not currently getting the job done. For example: “You have been in Russia long enough to be worrying about such things.” I think you mean “You have been in Russia too long to be worrying...” “What do you know” should have a question mark, and it should be “Who knows?” I’d make “Kremlin’s dollars” just “Kremlin dollars” or “Kremlin funds”, and take off the quotation marks. You’re a little iffy on your use of commas— placed strategically, a few here and there would really help. For instance, “And I do not carry fake IDs though” could be “And I do not carry fake IDs, though”, and “We’ll edit it, of course and cut it to 800 words but” could be “We’ll edit it, of course, and cut it to 800 words, but”, and so on.

As far as grammar goes, you’re not that far off. For instance, “When you grow up, you would realize...” is very nearly a correct use of the subjunctive. Just substitute “will” for “would”, and you’re home free. Or you could make the sentence entirely conditional: “If you were to grow up, you would realize...”, etc. That would also be correct. Then there are the little things: spelling (“deserve” for “desrve”), punctuation (“Bivens’s” for “Biven’s”), form and style (“p.s.” and “p.p.s.” for “PS 1” and “PS 2”), word choice (“find out” what they need to know, instead of the non sequitur “know what they need to know”), and so on. These are minor issues, but they can accumulate to devastating effect. As Joe Frazier once said, “Kill the body and the head will die.” So yes, sure, I’m available, both as a writer and as an editor. Just say the word, I’m happy to help.

As for the party, please do come. Saturday, 10 p.m., at the Art Garbage club. You’ll get a VIP room, sandwich makings and a 300-pound whore, all on the house. Detsky Panadol is playing, which should come as welcome news to you. I know how you people like music.

See you there, cowpoke,

Matt Taibbi



I take this grammar issue more seriously than visits from MVD. I guess I should send my e-mails to Brill’s Content (?) for editing. My Microsoft Word Raj- Version does spell and grammar check in Coolienglish.

You could do a weekly press review. You are hired. Deadline for Press review is Wednesday.

Can’t make it to the party this week but I am sure you are not exactly looking forward to seeing me.

Ajay Goyal