Issue #22/77, November 5 - 18, 1999  smlogo.gif


Moscow Babylon
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Book Review



Dear Matt,
As someone who has always supported you guys in discussions with people around town, and who has been an admirer of your occasionally courageous political reporting, I have to tell you I was shocked and disgusted by your partner Mark Ames's column in the last issue. You can cry all you want about having to do whatever it takes to defend your turf when you're the underdog, or about the transparent phoniness of "polite" public discourse, but when you get right down to it, picking on a guy for being short and ugly is what it is - the tactics of a mean, brainless bully. He might be a swine, but I think you owe Gregory Feifer of the Russia Journal an apology. Are you guys so desperate for arguments that you no longer know how to go through the front door? You should exert some much-needed good influence on that fault-finding, bratty partner of yours and save your newspaper's reputation before you're completely discredited.


Matt Taibbi responds:
Dear Upset,
Nah. Fuck Gregory Feifer. If he wants to tell on us to the Principal, I don't feel bad about dumping his books.


hi, you from the exile.
you have a website.
you are even more shite than i thought!!!!!
because you don't even bother to spread your shit around the web.
instead you only annoy, bore and piss russia off with your crap!!!!!
i should be glad that you are off the web!!!!!
at least the rest of the world is spared from this probaganda.
if you'd only delete your website too.
than there'd be more space for better and more recent crap than yours on the web.
yours sincerly
craig : )

Dear Craig,
Jesus... thank God e.e. cummings died before they invented the internet. And if you like us that much, why don't you just say so? You're like the jilted broad who storms all the way across the bar, shoves her tits in a guy's face, and calls him a louse. Incidentally, yours is about the sixth letter we've gotten that's missing a silent "e," but contains a correctly-executed "emoticon" smiley-face. Congratulations, you're part of a social phenomenon.


The following was posted to the increasingly less-fascinating Expat Nerd Herd internet list, in response to a letter we REPRINTED from the same source in the last issue (#76, "Chicken Soup for the eXile). In hopes of avoiding further run-ins with the persistent Beigist and would-be censor, we REPRINT Mr. Ekman's exactly as it appeared, including even his reduced-calorie version of our [sic] response. Please note that the offer of free advertising to certifiable charities stands--take it or leave as you see fit.

From: Peter D. Ekman
To: 'EXPAT list'
Subject: quotation policy


I shouldn't have done it. Every time I pick up the eXile, I see something that makes me angry. In the last issue, a letter sent to the expat list was more-or-less reprinted on the eXile's opinion page.

I have a simple question: Is there, or should there be, an expat list policy on what can be reprinted from the list. Should we all consider that anything we write here can be reprinted out of context, perhaps in an edited form, in the eXile and on its website, and then satirized?

I had a similar experience myself with the eXile. A letter that I wrote to Johnson's Russia List was reprinted in the eXile, with additions and deletions. I think anybody who is stupid enough to submit a letter to the eXile deserves everything they get, but I'd rather have nothing to do with them, and I do not want my name associated with them in any manner.

For the record - the message on the expat list questioned the effectiveness of a charity running free advertising in the eXile. The eXile's response was, in part:

"You're absolutely right, charity is the farthest thing from our minds. It may sound pitiful and nauseating to you, but for some fucked up reason, we'd rather spend two sleepless nights riding the white train with some teenaged flesh at our sides than spend well-rested afternoons visiting a bunch of lonely old people, wiping the shit from their thighs and pretending that their stories are interesting, or even coherent."

Yes, this is an extract, but I'm sure that anybody who reads the rest of their response will find it equally disgusting. I think that this response should lay to rest the debate on whether any charity would want to advertise - even for free - in the eXile.

Dear Peter,
We have no further comment, except to say--and we really mean this now, so listen up good--that we sincerely wish you would follow your own advice and stopping picking up the eXile.


What's up with Stuart? Why does he seem to be perpetually holding his nose while writing for the "Exile"? I say if he doesn't enjoy writing for the "Window to the nether regions of Mark Ames and Moscow" then to hell with him...and his "partner" Amy too. Why is she perpetually referred to as a "partner?" Is Stuart a lawyer and Amy his colleague? A cowboy and Amy his mate on the trail? One half of a famous crime duo? What Stuart and Amy should be doing is more Bonnie and Clyde and a little less David Remnick meets Dr. Nick Riviera meets Reader's Digest. I understand the need for a foil to the Hunter S. Thompson and his omnipresent lawyer, who, while providing legitimate sharp insight (101 Reasons [the Kosovo war] sucks was particularly good) admittedly describe their own disgusting ways of life with acute, and therefore revolting, honesty; but such New England reserve and piety that Stuart Pratt provides does not befit the "Exile". Instead of a Charles Emerson Winchester to your Hawkeye and McIntyre, you've got Frank Burns without the comic timing. Kick it up, Stuart!

Tapio Christiansen

Stuart Pratt replies:
Dear Tapio,
I have learned from experience that it is quite useless to respond intelligently to such puerile ravings and amoral cynicism. Nevertheless, your "message" contains two points to which I simply must retort, lest my conscience keep me awake at night in the weeks to come. First, were you at all socially and politically aware (which your positive response to this paper's coverage of the humanitarian mission in Kosovo clearly indicates you are not) you would understand that "partner" is now the preferred, non-gender, non-sexual-preference-specific nomenclature for one's significant other, both in and out of wedlock. Perhaps it would make you feel better if I were to refer to Amy as my "girlfriend'" (or, heaven forbid, "bitch"), but I think that the #1 woman in my life, not to mention our relationship, are deserving of better. Second, had you actually been paying attention to my work, instead of merely standing on guard for something to criticize, you might have realized by now that I am not from New England, but rather Canada.


Dear [sic],
Re: Mark Ames's Impotence; I suggest that alcohol rather than antibiotics is the simple cause of your problem. You can take that fish off your car and rejoin Darwin, if that's the way you want to go.

Anthony Abdo

Dear Anthony,
What fish? What car? You make us nervous. See, Craig, that's the way to write a letter. Hide your feelings. Intimate darkly. Extend a helping hand--in this case literally--and make us think twice before accepting it. Then spell "sincerely" right and get the hell out of there. No negative yardage, that's the key.


Hey guys,
When are you going to update your incredibly useful site. What happened in August?? Whatever it was we hope it's all over now.

Please, please, update soon.

How else do we know what's going on ??

We need you.


Love and stuff


Dear Will,
While we are indeed grateful to you for capitalizing the beginnings of your sentences, we'd be a whole lot more excited about your devotion and obvious desperation if you had pretended to be a teenage girl, preferably one with some heavy abandonment issues. Assuming you lack the resources to introduce us to an individual who satisfies that description, take your "and stuff" and go back to the loft above your parents' two-car garage. Unless of course "and stuff" refers to a consignment of very hard drugs, in which case our Production Manager will be happy to take your call, code word: "Abrahmovich."

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