Monday, March 22, 2004

Department of Blasts from the Past

A 10-year-old(!) Matt Welch piece from Prognosis in which Lesley Stahl of "60 Minutes" makes a jackass of herself as she struggles to squeeze the Young Americans in Prague phenomenon into the minuscule confines of her clearly acid-warped brain.

Addendum (3/23/04, 11:56 a.m.): Onetime Prague denizen Pete "House" Hausler wrote in Tuesday morning with the following letter, sent to the New York Times Magazine "sometime in '93, after I returned from Prague, after they wrote one of those articles that Matt rails against. Needless to say, they didn't print my letter, probably b/c I call them plagiarists for their 'pack journalism.' "

"To the Editor:

"Let me get this straight: From your article — Y(oung) A(mericans in) P(rague), Sunday, December 12, 1993 — I learned that the city-state of Prague — also called New Paris — exists in a vacuum somewhere in central Europe and is inhabited solely by hip, young Americans. The one remaining Czech in Prague is writer-turned-president Vaclav Havel, who rules these idolizing Westerners with the help of writer-turned-ghost Franz Kafka. The patron saint of the ancient Czech capital is Ernest Hemingway, of late associated with Prague because he lived in Paris 70 years ago. Some of Prague's buildings retain quaint Czech names like Obecni dum, in deference to the natives, who disappeared when Communism fell in November 1989.

"But seriously . . . I returned to America this past August from a year in Prague. Not once while living there did I hear Americans calling themselves 'YAPs.' It is simply wrong for you to refer to YAP as 'the local acronym.' This media pigeonholing of pop culture trends is lazy and disgusting; I expect better from the New York Times. You seem to have fallen prey to the prevalent attitude of round 'em up, subgroup everything, slap on a cheap label, and bang: it's copy for the masses.

"By now, Americans in Prague must hold the dubious distinction of being the longest running media darlings in the history of journalism. There are many fresh, interesting stories in Prague; this familiar angle is not one of them. By now, three years after we started hearing about this phenomenon, the story is old. Continuing to rehash the dozens of previous stories is simply lazy, hackneyed journalism perpetrated by plagiarists. A new story, please."