New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd likes to make cartoons, especially when the horrors of three-dimensional perception are too much for her. (David Denby, in Snark: “Given the enormity of the war in Iraq…did she ever wonder whether puns and sarcasm were adequate to the task?”) Dowd is in Boston this week to report on (so far) the mob trial of the century. Former fugitive James “Whitey” Bulger is charged with racketeering and participating in 19 killings in the 1970s and ’80s as leader of Boston’s Winter Hill Gang. Bringing you the revelatory news that murderous gangsters don’t have much respect for human life, women’s especially, Dowd’s preciously satirical column “Gangsta Guilt Trip” takes her cartooning to a new level. She draws a “thought bubble” over Whitey’s former crime partner Stephen Flemmi. Cross-examined yesterday by Whitey’s lawyer about his incestuous relationship with his own stepdaughter (whom he later helped murder), Flemmi according to Dowd thought: “Can I whack this guy now, Your Honor?” You could hear David Chase shudder.
What’s Maureen Dowd doing in Boston anyway, when she could be writing about Anthony Weiner’s underwear from up close? Speculation is rampant that Ms. Dowd’s next book will be noir fiction, so she may be doing research. Word is she’s hoping to release it under a nom de plume, a la JK Rowling, and then do a big reveal. Perhaps it’s a fictional answer to the titular question posed by her 2005 book Are Men Necessary? (If you want something to write about, apparently, yes.) No word from Esther Newberg at ICM, who reps Ms. Dowd. It could be a smokescreen, and Dowd really does plan to write about the sexting former congressman who’s running for Mayor of New York. But that’s a tough assignment for Dowd, whose favorite thing is to conjure nicknames: the eponymous Weiner can’t be topped.