Colbert Nation, Meet Mann Nation

There are plenty of ways to measure one’s journalistic career. But since the National Magazine Awards snubbed me yet again, and my ongoing competition with Elif Batuman has started feeling pathetically one-sided (her second article in The New Yorker, about the reconstruction of the historic St. Petersburg House of Ice, came out a week ago), I need some other barometer of cool. Thank God for Stephen Colbert.

 Right before he went on post-sweeps break, he had an interview with paleontologist Ted Daeschler, in which Colbert quesitoned whether Daeschler’s fossil of a lobe-finned tetrapod was the missing evolutionary link between fish and humans, or just part of an ancient freakshow.

What exactly does this have to do with me? Well, Dr. Daeschler was one of my very last interviews while I was in Philly (for a story called “The fish that (almost) walked away”), back when I was writing for the Penn alumni mags and publishing academia’s mental masturbation. In other words, I might as well be Colbert’s booker, or for that matter, Colbert himself.

Well, maybe that’s pushing it. But I don’t think it’s too much of an overstatement to say that this validates almost everything about my career, journalistic integrity, and life up until this point.