The first time I heard of Gabe Oppenheim's story on Stephen Glass - this week's cover story - was in a writing course we took together. The assignment's page limit was 12, and when they were due, the class did a go-around saying what each person wrote on. It was Gabe's turn.
"I wrote a feature about Stephen Glass's time at Penn. It's running a little long, though."
"32 pages." He explained that he was having trouble cutting it down.
Well, he eventually did, and that's the version you're reading today. It's quite a piece of writing and reporting, and you'd be an asshole not to read it.
Stephen Glass, as you'll find out, went on to fabricate 27 of 41 pieces for The New Republic magazine. Stephen Glass, in a word, sucks. And this Liar McLies-a-Lot may have started telling untruths at the Daily Pennsylvanian, although that's still anyone's guess.
What's fact, however, is that he never fabricated a feature for 34th Street. Because - let's just clear the air - we don't make shit up.
I trust most of you know this, but surprisingly, plenty actually think we create 20 pages of fakery each week. An ex-senior editor of the DP told me once that until a year or so into his term, he assumed all of the music reviews in Street were jokes. In fact, whenever we publish our annual joke issue in December, several people don't get the initial conceit.
"How does that make it different from any other issue?" they say.
I hate these people, but I wish to know more about them. Scrap that. There's nothing else to know. It's all real, except for the stuff that clearly isn't. Reviews of the latest music releases are real. An interview with a squirrel that says "The sorority culture at Penn tends to foster the disposal of carbohydrate-heavy foods, which I enjoy," is real. I mean not real. Yeah, not real at all.
Point is, we're not trying to deceive you at Street. Making stuff up ain't easy, which is why Stephen Glass is such an interesting subject. If we were all brilliant fabricators, we'd be writing novels, not giving a shit about Street. So freshmen - I know you're tired of lectures/insults after last week's issue, but bear with me - don't listen to the hater who tells you the review of the new Kasabian CD is made up. Who'd want to waste time doing that? Even Stephen Glass has greater ambitions.