Dexter Filkins Explains The Arts & Leisure Of Iraq

A few weeks ago, Gawker Weekend had an idea. We had just read George Gurley's piece in the New York Observer, the one where he went to Bungalow 8 and asked the partygoers what they thought about the war in Iraq. It was a pretty funny article—the people all said really shameful things, and it made you realize how frivolous we are here in America and how stupid all our problems are.

We read that, and we thought we'd try something similar—except, you know, with weekend media. We wanted to know: what are the papers like on Saturday and Sunday over there in Iraq? Is it all arts, leisure, and reflective whimsy like it is here? So we e-mailed Dexter Filkins, who had been recovering from a widely celebrated tour of reportorial duty as Baghdad correspondent for the New York Times.

About a week later, the answer came, and yes and no were beyond the point: Filkins was simply severe. Polite but stern, his note was above all short, and it left a mark we will not soon shed. "Sorry," the journalist wrote:


I am just getting this. I don't think I'd be of much help. Iraq is in the middle of a civil war, and there isn't much to say about arts and leisure there at the moment.

All best,

Dexter

And that's how we learned that you can't just go around e-mailing people whenever you feel like it and ask them questions for your little website every time you think you might have a cute thought.—LEON