Skip to comments.New 'zine' offers a different view of Ithaca
Posted on 10/03/2001 3:19:52 PM PDT by Behind Liberal Lines
Late last May, guest columnist Richard Leed complained in these pages that it was impossible to find conservative magazines in Ithaca. "There's no denying that Ithaca really is enlightened," he wrote. "It's just that the light comes mostly from certain rather narrow portions of the spectrum."
His concern has yet to be addressed: National Review, The Weekly Standard and the faltering American Spectator still require a trip to Elmira or Syracuse, while Ithaca magazine racks remain well-stocked with copies of The Progressive, The Nation, and The New Republic. Readers interested in exposing themselves to a full range of national opinion are simply out of luck.
They are more fortunate, however, when it comes to local matters, because the same week that Leed was putting pen to paper to voice his frustration, Ithaca became the home -- and the subject -- of a new online magazine. The point of view is conservative, the tone is satirical, and the results are, quite often, very entertaining.
It's called ISIS, and it describes itself as "a local eZine which is always on the lookout for the ludicrous -- not a tough job in Ithaca." (Uh-oh, competition.) It comes out every two weeks, except when it doesn't; nine issues have appeared since May. But it looks like it's going to be around for awhile.
The front page of first issue set the tone the magazine would adopt, with "Quickies" like:
"Our Staff Psychic Predicts ... that in 2004, the City of Ithaca will be voted the best suburb of Lansing," and "The Price of Leadership ... If you resent Mayor Cohen's little jaunts to the Ukraine, considering how little money the city always claims it has, consider this: Now with what the Eckstrom debacle has cost Ithaca, it might be cheaper if he were abroad for the remainder of his term."
You get the idea.
In the tradition of satiric magazines like England's Private Eye, the writers publish pseudonymously -- employing monikers like "Fly-by-Nite," "Gigs," "Jessariah," "Little Ray," "Molly Maguire," "Old Soldier," and "The Polish Prince."
ISIS's full-length articles focus mostly on local politics, taking jabs at Ithaca's public figures, culture and media. The recent Commons renovations, for instance, came under fire from Jessariah in late July.
"Tearing up concrete and replacing it with bricks and a new fountain is not going to magically make me want to buy shirts made out of recycled hemp cheese cloth," he wrote. "If you're not offering something that people want, you either change or you go under. No argument, campaign or strategy is going to change that."
While the political commentary is fairly straightforward and the tone of the satire is mostly light, some pieces push the envelope to make a point, like Gigs's "Mommy's Okay" -- a powerful piece of writing presented as a fictitious first-person account of the final moments of one of the children allegedly drowned by Texas mother Andrea Yates:
"The last thing I saw before the water finally filled my lungs was the watery face of my mommy. Why? Didn't she love me? Then I died.
"But don't feel bad. I know you people don't like to feel bad. Don't be upset about me and my brothers and sister. Just feel bad about my mommy and make a lot of excuses for her.
"That will make everything all right."
The identities of ISIS's editors, Jessariah and Gigs, are closely guarded secrets known to only a select few, but by employing skills established through years of journalistic training and experience, I was able to penetrate the elaborate security surrounding them.
OK, that's a slight exaggeration. I e-mailed them and said I'd like to meet them, and they said great, let's have lunch.
They turned out to be a 30-something couple, parents and business owners. They're producing the magazine at their own expense, in their free time, and it's clear that they're enjoying it enormously.
As for keeping their identities a secret, that isn't really such a big deal.
"It's more of a game than anything else at this point," said Jessariah. "It's not like we're afraid of what will happen when people find out who we are. They're bound to find out eventually."
Like all attempts at political commentary and sustained satire, ISIS doesn't always come off: sometimes it misses the mark and other times it just falls flat. But most of the time it's pretty funny, and it adds a welcome dissenting voice to the fairly monolithic tone of political conversation in a city that takes itself all-too-seriously.
You can find it at www.ithacapages.com/isis.
A very good idea for any conservative in "the city of evil" (I should know).
BTW, it aint me.
Say, can we give those greedy indians Ithaca instead?
Just hold your nose if you drive by the sign with Brian William's mug on it (among others) welcoming you to town.
Actually not that surprising. A few years in Ithaca will demonstrate to any halfway right thinking person just how mindless and corrupt liberalism is. I think those few years in Ithaca are exactly what made Ann the dedicated foe of leftism we know and love.
Actually, since this article was printed (2001), the mall in nearby Lansing has a Borders that carries both mags.
My father-in-law also went to Cornell and he turned out to be a conservative Philosophy professor!
No matter how hard they tighten their grip, more and more conservatives will be created.
You mean the Pyramid Mall? Is that in Lansing? All I know is that it's north of the City of Evil :)
BTW: in case you didn't know, since this article was published in 2001, the creators of the website were hounded out of business by the tolerant people of Ithaca.