I make joke

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- I am reporting today from a fortified underground bunker in a major world capital. This is the base of operations of a man whose name and nationality I have agreed to conceal in return for landing this interview. I will call him "John."

Me: "John," can you tell the readers what you do?

John: Is my job to be making American people...Read more

Triumph of the space cadet

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- To: Dan Zak, reporter, The Washington Post

Re: The last word on periods, period.

How are you doing, you insufferable twit?

It has been four years since I last wrote to you in this column about your public suggestion that I am mentally ill for using two spaces at the end of a sentence, an unbreakable habit from the era of manual ...Read more

Real fake news

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- President Trump says the media is always publishing "fake news" about him, which I contend is pure calumny, coming as it does from a man who drowns puppies.

If the president were smarter than he is (his IQ is 26), he would understand that he can make a credible case that newspapers publish "fake news," but that he's focusing on ...Read more

Letter rip!

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- I bet you were just as shocked as I was to learn that Donald Trump himself had written that glowing letter signed by his doctor attesting to the overweight burger-gobbler's phenomenal, terrific, unprecedentedly presidential A++ state of personal health -- which is to say, not shocked at all.

Right. And no one seems to have cared ...Read more

Getting jobbed

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- One night many years ago, I arrived in Detroit for a job interview the following morning at the Detroit Free Press. The newspaper had put me up at the fancy Renaissance Center hotel. After checking in, I went up to my room. The phone was ringing.

"Are Wanda and Cecilia there?" asked a male voice.

"No, I think you have the wrong ....Read more

Gene fingers journos in language imbroglio

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- Donald Trump has been blamed for creating an atmosphere in which the news media is vilified and distrusted. It's true, but there might be a contributing factor that gets people suspicious of us. We sound weird.

I've lately been looking for words the media uses that virtually no one else does. There are a lot of them.

Slay:...Read more

Donald the Great

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- Shortly after Donald Trump became president, I was approached at a wedding by a man who good-naturedly berated me, as a member of the media, for ignoring Trump's good points. He said he knew for a fact that the billionaire was in the habit of buying houses and giving them to disabled war veterans, a bit of charity he kept secret. I...Read more

The Spice of Death: Gene Gets Crabby About Old Bay

Humor / Below the Beltway /

This column was originally published in 2012.

WASHINGTON -- Not long ago, I casually used the word "hate" to describe how I felt about a certain minor annoyance. A friend chastised me, and she was right. It's an angry word, devoid of charity, dismissive of debate; in these days of destructively acrid public discourse, it should be used ...Read more

Yankees' oodles? Dandy!

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- I am an avid and knowledgeable baseball fan. But I am not a good baseball fan. A good baseball fan is, first and foremost, in love with the game itself. He might have a favorite team for which he will root unequivocally and with passion, but what he really is rooting for is the thrill of competition. A good baseball ...Read more

Pavlovian response

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- We have a problem, as a nation. I trace it pretty directly to the publication of the runaway bestseller "The Book of Lists" in 1977. It consisted of tantalizing if trivial compendiums, such as "Famous people who died during sex" (Attila the Hun, Pope John XII, Errol Flynn), "breeds of dog that bite people the most, and the least" (...Read more

A parting shot

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- I am writing today to threaten all of my colleagues in journalism. Collegiality is nice enough, but it is over. There are times when one must take a stand on a matter of national import, even at the risk of alienating respected individuals and turning oneself into a professional pariah. I am old. I'll take the hit. So here goes.

...Read more

Killing IT

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- Many years ago, I edited the work of a famous writer at The Washington Post. You know his name. You likely revere his work. During one editing session, something became clear to me: This adult, successful journalist was a complete ignoramus on most matters that happened to be unrelated to his field of expertise. He did not, for ...Read more

A sucker's game

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- We seem to be living in unusually cruel times, a dog-eat-dog world in which the needs of the little person have been largely subjugated to the demands of capitalism; where our tax system favors the rich over the poor; where compassion seems to be considered a ludicrously outdated role of government.

To navigate this heartless, ...Read more

Gate gate

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- This is an anatomy of two decisions recently made by a pitiful neurotic.

The first occurred on Feb. 22 at 3:10 a.m. in a dingy room in a dingy motel in Oakland, California. It was prompted by a nonstop, high-decibel, headboard-banging-on-the-wall session of sexual congress occurring in the room next to mine. I had to decide ...Read more

Confessions of a meathead: The misadventures of an adventurous eater

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- As you may recall, I am an aggressively adventurous eater. I do not have a yuck factor. I am that guy who will ignore the English menu at an ethnic restaurant and order my meal by pointing at the people at the next table if they happen to be eating something that tantalizingly resembles, say, snouts in lymph sauce. And that is why ...Read more

See something, say something

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- I recently ran into trouble for pointing out a misspelling online. It surprised me because I've been doing that sort of thing for years without blowback -- mostly to mock conservatives bearing idiot signs. ("Respect Are Country: Speak English," "Obama Half-Breed Muslin," "1 Man + 1 Woman (equal sign) Marridge.") But last month, ...Read more

Weingarten, new and improved

Humor / Below the Beltway /

WASHINGTON -- I have a fairly uncommon last name, so as a media figure, I consider it part of my "brand." When I come across someone with the same name, especially when that person is in the public eye, I consider it a form of trademark infringement. I once asked teachers union president Randi Weingarten to retire and become an old-lady recluse ...Read more


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