Apparently not, as the Slate writer admits he made it all up, including the trip. (How lazy is that and why not take the free trip?)
Meanwhile, Jonathan Lethem writes a confused essay in Harper's about plagiarism where he's desperate to make certain we don't throw out the good plagiariasm with the bad plagiarism. Plagiarism, Jonathan, is when you take someone else's work and claim it as your own. Period. The other stuff isn't plagiarism, it's inspiration and homage and parody and allusion and quoting and so on and there's no attempt to fob off someone else's words or ideas as your own -- you're simply trying to build on what they've done, rather than move in and claim the apartment for yourself.