Some have asked me to recount the car-tossing incident mentioned in Ella Taylor‘s profile of David Poland in the current L.A. Weekly. It wasn’t that big a deal except for what it said about Poland’s character. Taylor writes that “on Poland’s direction,” I was “ordered out of a carful of Poland’s colleagues on the way to Sundance.” And it wasn’t much more than that.
It happened in January ’02 (or was it ’01?) I had flown in on Southwest with critic Andy Klein, who was writing at the time for Poland’s amply-funded Hot Button site. I asked when we arrived in Salt Lake City if I could get a lift into Park City with the Hot Button team (there were three or four others), and nobody objected. Then a woman who was driving started talking to Poland on a cell phone, and after listening to him go on and on for two or three minutes she turned around and said she was sorry but that Poland wanted me out of the car. So I got out and took a bus.
The more significant Poland ejection happened at the start of the Iraqi War (sometime in March 2003) at Nate and Al’s in Beverly Hills. We were talking about smart missiles and collateral civilian damage, and I was expressing a naive belief, based on very limited MSNBC knowledge of the accuracy of smart missiles, that while civilian deaths were inevitable they probably wouldn’t be too high in number. Poland got angry at my opinions (“People are dying, Jeffrey….people are dying!”) and ordered me out of Nate and Al’s. He actually used the words, “Get out!” So I got up, dropped some money on the table and left. It was pretty startling. I’d never been thrown out of any business establishment for having the wrong opinion, and I don’t suppose it’ll ever happen again. Poland is a fairly unique individual.