On the Matter of Cranky Peter Kaplan, Wise Peter Kaplan, and Real Peter Kaplan, The Greatest Show on Twitter

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Yesterday, much to this blogger's shock, a Twitter account claiming to be much-revered former New York Observer editor Peter Kaplan made its presence known to me. This is funny, because I've closely followed two other iterations of Kaplan on Twitter, @CrankyKaplan and @WiseKaplan since early March.

If you have no idea what the fuck is going on, you're not alone. Maybe I should start from the beginning.

Until last summer, Peter Kaplan was the editor of the New York Observer, the infamous salmon-colored weekly newspaper that was, if you're not familiar with it, New York print journalism's version of Gawker before the internet came along. The Observer chronicled life in New York from a place slightly more uptown than us here at the Voice, but much more fearlessly than the chronic trend-chroniclers at, say, New York Magazine. For example, it's the place Candace Bushnell originated her Sex and the City column, back when something like Sex and the City was still groundbreaking. As history would have it, life at the Observer was pretty goddamn insane under Kaplan, who at the Observer was (in many people's memories) the embodiment of every wild, wisdom-dispensing, capricious New York print editor to ever live. For example, from a remembrance of Kaplan's time there:

....There were these nights of sitting around in the room around the laser printers, drinking beer, or worse, and gluing the paper together. And just barely making the deadline for the printing presses. There was this incredible camaraderie, and competitiveness, a joie de vivre about a racy scoop. It felt a lot more like the movie about a newspaper than any other place I've worked.

Long story short, this kid name Jared Kushner came in, bought the paper with his dad's money, fired everyone a bunch of people at the Observer, and has since dedicated himself to turning it into the kind of paper you give away with purchases of his wife Ivanka Trump's jewelery. Kaplan ended up at Conde Nast Traveler. And that was that. It happens.

Or so everyone thought.

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Because earlier this Spring, two Twitter accounts popped up, one claiming to be "Wise Kaplan" -- a introspective, bombastic, creepy sociopathic New Yorker who relishes being as such when he's not working on a screenplay with Peter Bogdanovich -- and "Cranky Kaplan" -- an extroverted, hypermanical womanizing alcoholic who travels around on a Segway scooter, gets arrested, and types in ALL CAPS. Both were very, very funny. Neither were obviously Kaplan. But the genius of the jokes is that you didn't have to know Kaplan to find them funny, and if you happened to, well, imagine a hyper-realized bi-polar version of one of your more colorful friends played out by someone else on Twitter. It was, and is, pretty genius.

Today, Slate's Nathan Heller pulled the masks off the two Kaplan Twitters, giving them what Mike Taylor at Fishbowl NY correctly noted as an "overwhelmingly thorough exposition and analysis" of the feeds, explaining both who the authors are (former Observer writers Peter Stevenson and Jim Windolf). He is the first person to publicly unmask them, and he did it in a wonderful fashion. Go read it.

Now, a confession:

I killed this story -- if it still is a "story," and not a hyper-meta Twilight Zone of Twitter Humor -- for my own selfish purposes a few months ago.


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