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COLUMNIST ARCHIVE

Writer told to take this Jobs and shove it

Lowdown

Steve Jobs doesn't enjoy close scrutiny, says writer Fredric Alan Marxwell.
Did computer geek Steve Jobs have a system meltdown?

On Friday, the svengali-like CEO of Apple Computer and Pixar Animated Studios lashed out at author Fredric Alan Maxwell after he sent Jobs a 4,000-word article he wrote for Fast Company magazine about the untold story of Jobs' biological father, a Syrian immigrant and political science professor named Abdulfattah Jandali.

"Are you a nut case?" Jobs demanded, signing the oneliner "Steve."

Maxwell fired back: "Are you?"

The Montana-based author has been pushing Jobs' buttons for a while, even conducting 18 months of research for an unauthorized biography before Penguin Group's Portfolio imprint pulled the plug earlier this year.

He finally sent Jobs the piece about his birth father after Fast Company killed it.

Maxwell said he's not surprised by Jobs' reaction.

"Apple runs as a cult of Steve Jobs, who has a well-known reality distortion field," Maxwell told Lowdown. "Anytime you pull back a curtain and look at the man behind it, the prickly narcissist called Jobs reacts strongly."

Lowdown readers will recall that in January, Maxwell was stripped of his press credentials when he tried to enter Jobs' keynote speech at the MacWorld event in San Francisco. In March, Maxwell encountered Jobs by chance in Palo Alto and introduced himself.

"I'm writing a biography of you," Maxwell reminded him, to which Jobs replied, "Lucky you."

Despite Lowdown's multiple attempts to obtain an explanation of Jobs' E-mail, reps for Apple did what Jobs probably should have done:

Nothing.

In literary style, Libby's guilt is an open-&-smut case

The last time I saw Scooter Libby, he was trying to persuade Maureen Dowd to join him in doing tequila shots at the celebstudded Bloomberg party after the 2003 White House Correspondents Association Dinner.

A few days later, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff sent me an inscribed copy of "The Apprentice," his 1996 novel of early 20th-century Japan. I never got past the second page.

Luckily, in the latest New Yorker, Lauren Collins summarizes the novel's sex scenes.

"The main female character, Yukiko, draws hair on the 'mound' of a little girl," Collins reports. "The brothers of a dead samurai have sex with his daughter."

Meanwhile, "certain passages can better be described as reminiscent of Penthouse Forum," Collins writes. "Other sex scenes are less conventional."

Collins quotes from the indicted aide's novel: "At age 10 the madam put the child in a cage with a bear trained to couple with young girls so the girls would be frigid and not fall in love with their patrons. They fed her through the bars and aroused the bear with a stick when it seemed to lose interest."

British Literary Review editor Nancy Sladek, who oversees a Bad Sex fiction writing contest, tells Collins: "That's a bit depraved, isn't it, this kind of thing about bears and young girls?" Never mind the passage concerning sex with a deer.

Speaking of Dowd, The New York Times pundit is the subject of Vanity Fair's December Proust Questionnaire: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? "My credit report." How would you like to die? "After my enemies." If you were to come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? "A crisp, perfectly salted French fry."

The briefing

FOXY SAW HER OPPORTUNITIES AND TOOK 'EM: That was Foxy Brown mistakenly thinking the anxiety-ridden paparazzi outside Saks the other night were staking her out while she shoe-shopped. "How did they know I was going to be here?" Brown asked a Lowdown spy, who politely informed her that the shutterbugs were shooting celebs at a party for the Entertainment Industry Foundation Women's Cancer Research Fund. Unable to resist a good photo op - even as a party crasher - Foxy struck a pose on the red carpet alongside such celebs as Helen Hunt, Ali Larter, Ally Sheedy and Tatum O'Neal.

PANDERING, LAURA BUSH-STYLE? After the First Lady submitted to a softball interview about "at-risk youth" last week with White House radio correspondent April Ryan, President Bush's wife invited Ryan up to the family quarters for an hour-long tour. Since then, Ryan - who hugged Mrs. Bush when the tour was over - has been singing the First Lady's praises on the black-oriented, 450-station American Urban Radio Network. Was Laura trying to shore up African-American support in a time of trouble? "I don't think so," Ryan said. "President Bush's approval rating with African-Americans is at 2%." A White House spokesman said that the private tour happened on the spur of the moment at Ryan's request: "April asked Mrs. Bush, and Mrs. Bush obliged."

LIBBY CONFUSION: Who can blame National Public Radio anchor Noah Adams for mistakenly reporting the federal indictment of "Libby Lewis" on Friday's "Day to Day" program? Libby Lewis - as opposed to Lewis (Scooter) Libby - is an NPR reporter who's been covering the legal troubles of Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff. Lewis, who claims no silly nickname, never worried that she had been indicted.

"I have a very good lawyer," she told me.

With Hudson Morgan


Originally published on October 31, 2005

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