A not-so-well-known fact about Trump in-law JARED KUSHNER is that he was once the publisher of a highbrow, nose-in-the-air publication titled THE OBSERVER. So full of itself was the paper that its owners chose to publish it on brown paper to make it look like some form of parchment used by the Founding Fathers.
But that didn’t stop it from running adult ads, a few of which I sold for them with the sales pitch “You won’t get a ton of calls. But the ad is cheap and those who do respond will be intellectual Park Avenue types with big money and modest demands physically.”
Anyway (I simply added the previous paragraph for context), one of Jared’s old editors came forward to say that his boss (Jared) didn’t read the paper and offered zero editorial input while on the job. I couldn’t help but laugh when I read this story. Not because Kushner is decidedly not intellectual…but because his editor thought a publisher’s role was to consider his paper’s content.
I knew two of the Village Voice’s publishers (and the organization) well enough to understand that their jobs involved the bottom line only. As print nose-dived (as it still is), editorial content was the least thing on an owner’s or publisher’s mind. Advertising revenue was all they thought about. And the publishers acted accordingly. For an editor to think anything different is pure folly. Head-up-your-ass syndrome, if you will.
On another seemingly unrelated note, I’m reading a book about how to deal with assholes. Coincidentally, both of those Voice publishers qualified with certification. One was so outstanding in his field (actually both were when I think about it) that I’ll mention his name (and write about him today): MICHAEL COHEN.
Michael Cohen was the type of guy who had a snarky remark for virtually everyone. It was part of his personality. The stupid shit he said to me mostly rolled off my back because I didn’t have to deal with him on a daily basis – and we both knew I was banking way more money than he was (lofty title notwithstanding). But he did something to an employee I liked which really pissed me off – and humiliated her to the point where she simply started stealing from the company to pay him back. Now this is a bad boss. When the head guy so angers an employee that she starts stealing? That’s a guy who needs to go!
Maria (not her real name) was the adult ad rep at the Voice. Despite the sad reality that all my ads were running through various advertising agencies with whom I was forced to work (politics), I got to know Maria, who I felt was being treated like a minion at least partially owing to her Dominican/Bronx heritage. To my mind, being a pretty and phat-bootied latina from an outer boro gave her street cred with the ho’s. But not so much with corporate America. It was clear to me that Maria was going nowhere at the company. Which is to say there was no way she was going to break out of selling escort ads. The higher ups felt she was perfectly suited to that role (and none other) I have no doubt.
Maria knew I was getting pimped by Somad Advertising (the entity through which I was forced to run my ads). She was also aware that I worked harder than they did and deserved to be out from under their yolk. So at my request, she set up a meeting with me and Michael (who knew me from the New York Press) to see if we couldn’t work something out so I could “come direct” (which means shedding Somad and the 15% they were taking from me in exchange for doing nothing).
Somehow (probably because he wanted me to keep selling Voice ads in volume), Michael took the meeting. As we walked into his office, Michael had something to say along the lines of ‘Thanks for taking time out from your psychiatrist to meet with me.” I flashed him a smile and then wowed him with exactly how tight a ship I ran and how worthy I was of respect. In exchange, he took out a rate sheet and pointed to what he could do for me, assuming that the deal he was offering wasn’t as good as I was getting from Somad.
But here’s what he didn’t know: Somad had sold me a phony 15% rate hike 6 months before (meaning the agency had claimed that their rate had been raised at the Voice when in fact, it hadn’t. It was a lie.) And so…his offer was actually better than theirs!
I eyed the paper for 30 seconds…did a few mental computations…and answered (to his surprise) “You got a deal.” Taken aback by my response, he warned “This is cash every week”…a meaningful proviso because agencies almost uniformly had at least 30 day billing and always stiffed the Voice for tens of thousands when they folded. (I’d seen it happen more than once before.)
Cash was not a problem for me. All the rip-off agencies I’d worked with (actually just two) had delayed billing with the Voice while they made me pay cash for my ads. It’s called “float.” Essentially, holding money while you pay no interest.
Moving on…I went home and emailed Somad the bad news: “Guess what! You are no longer my pimp. Ha!” Knowing Somad would freak, I then called Maria to ask “There’s no way Michael would go back on his word, right?” She assured me he wouldn’t. Still, I wasn’t so sure.
So guess what happened. Somad marched into Michael’s office to say something which effectively conveyed the message “Billy’s our ho! You steal him away and we’ll start prioritizing other publications for our elite division of cock-gobblers.” And surprise surprise…asshole folded and had Maria deliver the bad news…and a higher up take the time to explain it all away (via email) in some sort of attempt at making me feel like I wasn’t the flat-backing corporate bag man for bed bugs I surely was.
Of course, I was not happy about all this. Somad emailed me a new rate which was nominally lower than the previous but made no mention of the 10 k they’d ripped me off for with the phony rate hike. (Big surprise.) And here’s the kicker: Michael Cohen blamed the entire episode on Maria. By him, it was all her fault that she’d brought me into his office in the first place and caused this uncomfortable mess. Now how’s that for a fucking asshole?
Eventually, Maria was caught stealing and was asked for an explanation for discrepancies in the accounts. The funny thing was that the Voice wasn’t even going to fire her. But that was her death knell at the corporation. Rather than defend herself, Maria went underground, never to be heard from again! I was happy for her. It wasn’t the same publisher she walked on. But it was the same asshole corporation who’d mistreated her. And she got to thumb her nose at them.
When I took her job (yes, I was her immediate successor for one week – until I quit), I got a look at all the accounts. A big ad Maria had sold me for a Queens strip club was listed at $650. The funny thing was she was billing me $800! Rather than feel ripped off, I laughed and thought to myself “All right, baby! Stickin’ to da man!” I didn’t even give a crap that she lied to me. Shows you how much respect I had for Michael (and his successor, a dipshit named JOSH FROMSON).
It’s a curious fact of law that those assholes walked away scot free from all the ho ads they ran for years and years because trust me, they knew what time it was with the “back of the book.” Who was breaking the law and who wasn’t is an issue you could debate with barristers from now until doomsday. But who were the assholes? That would take but a one minute trial. Michael Cohen? Josh Fromson? Assholes in the first degree. And now I’ll bang my gavel.