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Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Reader-submitted question: Are you going to do any other self-important columnists? Can you do Leah McLaren next? She's got to be good for a post or two, don't you think?

Ah, Leah McLaren. And here I was trying to forget that she exists.

McLaren is the Paper Of Record's thirtysomething single gal about town. She is, of course, very different from Eckler and Sarah Hampson: She has blonde hair.

The Paper Of Record depresses me. Do they actually think that these ninnies represent Canadian women?

McLaren's distinguishing feature is her desire to not seem too vapid, but this is balanced by a keen insight that for a person as boring as she is, vapidness is the only option. The woman does have some self-awareness, after all, which is more than I can say for Eckler.

She writes four columns a month for the Paper Of Record, and, just for you, I've read them all. Never say that I don't put myself in harm's way for your entertainment. Like the best writers (Homer, Moses, etc), McLaren knows how to set up a narrative, and she comforts her readers by ensuring that each column ends the same way. We are never surprised.

Column #1: Someone asks Leah if she is Russian. She is not Russian, but decides that the person made this mistake because Russians dress really well. She read it in the New York Times, so she knows it's true. Also, she takes the opportunity to inform us that she wore fishnets in high school and flirted with LOTS of older men when she was in her twenties. Fortunately, there is no need for any personal growth.

Column #2: Leah celebrates "Literary It Girls". They are the only ones worth paying attention to, she assures us. They are smart and beautiful. Half of the world loves them and the other half wants to scratch their eyes out. Clearly this is heading somewhere, but Leah is coy. I wish I could remember if she has written a book that "takes as her subject herself, filtered self-deprecatingly through the foibles of modern urban singlehood." I'm sure it will come to me eventually.

Column #3: Leah mourns the loss of traditions like reading and cooking. She is part of a dying breed, disturbingly out of step with her own generation. I know, it's hard to watch. Just in time, she reassures us that she is white, educated and an upper-middle-class newspaper columnist, as if we might have forgotten that in our rush to comfort her. Whew. THAT'S a relief.

Column #4: Leah feels like a bitch. Wow. That almost seems like a flash of personal insight. What will we learn that's significant, interesting or new? Well, nothing, really. It turns out that she only feels like a bitch because Sarah Silverman was on the cover of Vanity Fair, and there is nobody hotter or bitchier than Sarah Silverman except maybe Tina Fey, who is -- shocker of shockers! -- ALSO on the cover of Vanity Fair. Bitchiness is IN, mothafuckas! And don't forget who's in the club now! It must be true, because it's in the Paper Of Record!

I'm not sure who reads her columns, but she clearly has some fans. Toronto readers: Do you have any insight into this?


scribe said...

I understand that Leah was relieved of her full-time status several months ago and now writes for the Globe as a freelancer. Which begs the question: are readers getting fed up with her (was there a focus group?). Are vanity columns on the way out? If so, what does that mean for Russell Smith? Leah can write, Eckler can't. But neither of them appear to have grown as writers or as human beings. Vapidness is a way of life. At least Leah isn't using a child to maintain some semblance of career.

Ricki said...

Have to agree with scribe; at least she can write. I guess it's just curiosity keeping me coming back. . . oh, and I think she was also mistaken for a prostitute, if I recall correctly.

Megan said...

Well, she doesn't KNOW she was mistaken for a prostitute. One day when she was wearing fishnet stockings, a car slowed down and then sped away.

Can we get this woman into CSIS or something?

Seriously Frivolous said...

I used to read her stupid column voraciously every Saturday. My blood would boil, my anger rise, that vein in forhead would pop each week.

Then I stopped.

I loathe her, almost as much as Icky. At least with Leah, she doesn't see the need to sue people. I've blogged about Leah before...

But, Megs, doncha know? ALL Canadian women in their 30's worry about chipped fingernail polish! Duh!

Shaund said...

"She is, of course, very different from Eckler and Sarah Hampson: She has blonde hair."

OMG, I almost snorted sandwich out my nose on that one. You truly do go above and beyond the call of duty. No reasonable person would have expected you to go and specifically read her columns (especially all at one time) just to respond to the whimsical request of one of your readers.

I actually didn't mind Leah McLaren all that much to begin with and even managed to put aside the fact that her mother was an editor at Paper of Record...and then she wrote a piece on all the cool parties she got into at Fashion Week and I knew I was done with her.

She has published her novel, here's a review.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone read her column today? (April 26). It is mind-blowing that a college-educated adult wouldn't know that a mushroom is FUNGUS, and would leave it to grow and kill a tree. And whatever happened to that farmhouse she was always yapping about? At least she acknowleged that her career is going down the drain.

Karen said...

"Fan" seems like such a strong word, but I can't say I mind McLaren's column. Vapidness is a lifestyle choice in Toronto - all the cool people are doing it, don't you keep up? When you're attending uber-fashion shows by day, and exclusive parties by night, when would you find time to fill your brain with actual thoughts?

In my mind, there's a striking difference between her nonchalant brand of vapid narcissism - "look at me!" - and Eckler's hostility and stupidity masquerading as vapidness. I really think Eckler thinks she's being satiric when she's just being devastatingly awful. We should set up a paypal account for her toddler's future therapy bills.

I'm sorry to say McLaren's brand of "what? There's a world out there beyond the tip of my nose?" is not limited to her or to Toronto. I spent a considerable portion of a day earlier this month in an airport with a group (7-8) of mid-twentysomething Americans earnestly debating what the 51st state was....

I don't even want to think about what they aren't teaching kids in school these days....