I don’t know about you, but I find this story hilarious. Even the headline is funny: The billionaire, the Post and the $220G shakedown; Page Six writer wanted $$$ to stop inaccurate coverage.
Read on, and learn about Jared Paul Stern, a petty-tyrant gossip columnist who put the screws to one Ron Burkle, managing partner of Yucaipa Cos., leveraging $220K — pocket change for a billionaire, I’m sure the columnist figured — against a pledge to stop writing lies about him.
You start reading a story like this, and you expect to learn that Burkle was a closet case of some sort, that the writer had the goods on him — compromising photos, a recorded phone call involving falafels and a Shower Massage, whatever. But no:
The false items included a Jan. 1 report that Burkle flew Tobey Maguire, girlfriend Jen Meyer and blonde actress Sarah Foster in his private jet to Aspen, Colo., where they “vacationed at Burkle’s mansion.” Burkle does not own a mansion in Aspen, did not fly his private jet to Aspen, and didn’t vacation with Foster, Maguire or Meyer.
Gossip journalism must be a strange world, sort of a parallel universe where people look roughly the same as you, but cut them and their blood is green and the world has two suns. Get this: Burkle and his lawyers have repeatedly written and or told The Post’s attorneys, editors and management that the articles and items about him on Page Six are inaccurate but to no avail.
I love this. You can open the paper to learn you have been credited with an Aspen mansion you don’t own, have your lawyer call the paper’s lawyer to say so, and still — no dice.
You can probably guess what happened here. Burkle went to the feds, they wired up his apartment and a meeting was called with the ink-stained extortionist, who apparently never saw an episode of “The Sopranos” and doesn’t know how to phrase a shakedown delicately:
An exasperated Burkle finally said, “How much do you want?” after Stern said he could control coverage by Richard Johnson, the column’s chief writer, and his staff. “Um, $100,000 to get going and then you could get it to me on a month-to-month, maybe like $10,000,” replied Stern. “Okay, that’s a great deal,” said Burkle.”
It goes on, and every word is fabulous. There’s even a minor character appearing in the third-to last graf named “Sessa von Richthofen.” Too, too funny.
I once had a brief acquaintance with a dog breeder; I think her specialty was Australian shepherds. We hadn’t known each other long before I learned something pretty important about her: She took breeding absolutely seriously. She would neuter, spay and, if necessary, euthanize any animal she believed was not a credit to the breed. She had elaborate tests she did on her young dogs, taking away their food when they were eating and other provocations. If any reacted in what she considered an aggressive or dangerous manner, it had a date with the vet. If it was lucky it would only lose its fertility.
As the owner of a 20-pound juvenile delinquent, I was a little taken aback, but she explained it quite reasonably: You do no one any favors by keeping bad dogs in the gene pool, and in fact much of the damage done by bad dogs is directly due to human unwillingness to make the tough call. The day one of her Aussies knocked her down and growled in her face, she calmly got up, leashed the offender and took him away for a lethal shot of night-night medicine. It was, in the long run, the humane solution.
So I was a little surprised to read that Oakland County is jumping on the no-kill bandwagon. I mean, it’s a sweet idea, but is it realistic? Many dogs come to shelters because they’re problem children — yes, due to idiot owners, but problems just the same. Maybe it’s better to turn out the lights in a painless way.
A Free Press columnist points out the obvious:
Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, the tough-talking ex-prosecutor who spent decades trying to legalize capital punishment in Michigan, now says he wants to abolish the death penalty outright. For puppies, at least.
…I’ve no idea whether this is a realistic goal, and I doubt that Patterson does, either. But I’m certain he’s doing the right thing, because if you’re offered a policy choice between killing puppies and saving puppies and you have to think about it for more than, say, 0.5 seconds, you have no business in elective politics.
And finally, the good people of Indiana continue to entertain the nation on the subject of DST. In case you wondered, yes, the whole idea of clock-tinkering started and ended with high-falutin’ east coast snobs:
It is now April. At 6 a.m. it is still dark. In June, it might still be light outside at 11 p.m. Children have always asked, “Can’t we please stay out until dark?�? This June, if your answer is yes, it might be near midnight before they come home.
…When one hobnobs with East Coast snobs and then becomes the governor of Indiana, he might have to do things to prove that he is still a blue-blood elitist. “Hey, look, we in (fly-over) Indiana change our clocks, too! Now we’re just like you. … Will you still invite me to Martha’s Vineyard this summer? Can I still go duck hunting with you in Connecticut? … Please?�?
Can I still go duck hunting with you? I stand agog.
Have a swell weekend.