FOOLS, MORONS AND IDIOTS
OPRAH gets duped, DOUBLEDAY gets reamed ...and James Frey gets his big fat check!
Well here’s a flash I rather expected.
It now appears as though James Frey’s best-selling novel, “A Million Little Pieces” - the gritty account of a drugged out, vomit and urine soaked dead-end loser, bleeding from every orifice while gals snort cocaine off his penis, and – who in one episodic (probably untrue) vignette in the book, almost had his chestnuts plucked by a gay Parisian cleric, was and is a colossal fabrication from nearly start to finish.
Touted by Oprah Winfrey as the most explorative and ‘honest’ bit of self-reflection –Frey’s inclusion to that deified authorship - Oprah’s Book of the Month Club has, in the past, also included such luminaries as Steinbeck, Tolstoy and Pearl Buck.
But why, oh why, did the maven of Harpo Studios think it necessary to sully these greats by lumping them with the debatable ‘nonfiction’ text of a man whose prose are littered with so many four letter words that even a rough and tumbler like Hemmingway would find the need to blush?
Did she honestly think the sordid tale of drug-induced puke and snot stained badinage with cheap hookers had potential as a ‘feel good’ pop pot boiler for her predominantly female readership?
Did her staff even check Frey’s 'facts' before celebrating his garish exploits as though they were iconic benchmarks in either the triumph of will or the ‘coming of age’?
Difficult to prove anything Frey’s written, especially since everyone in his…ahem…‘life’ has either been whacked, gone nuts, succumbed to AIDS or vanished from the face of the planet with all the mysterious allure of a Chris Carter X-Files episode.
Frey, the foul-mouthed swaggering burn out who shot to celebrity status overnight, thanks to Oprah’s misguided ‘plug’ has recently had to pull in his crack pipe; since a litany of respected critics and the webzine The Smoking Gun.com began to poke holes in his credibility.
Like scenes ripped from the movie classic, ‘The Big House’ Frey’s A Million Little Pieces details jailhouse rituals – a bond with a murderer nicknamed “Porterhouse” and months of life spent in “boring” toil behind bars, that have since been exposed as a few “unshackled hours” awaiting someone to pay for his $733 bail inside a modestly appointed Ohio precinct.
No whips, hoses or big hulking brutes looking to make James their bitch. But why quibble over ‘minor’ details?
Apparently, Frey was worried enough to consult attorney Martin Singer – whose list of clientele include some of Hollywood’s elite. Not that Frey will ever enter those upper echelons – at least I hope not. But there is no denying that he has become a best-selling author overnight, and with a sequel My Friend Leonard continuing the saga of this “radioactive” teenage “friendless outcast” who, in actuality, was a popular high school soccer star with a 'bad ass' complex.
Honestly, this guy can’t even be 'real' about being 'bad'!
Frey’s claim that he set a .36 blood alcohol record in Berrien County after being picked up on a DUI, and served hard time for his crime, effectively distills to his barely clearing twice the legal limit and spending a night in the tank to sleep it off with a bad case of the chicken pox while mum and dad posted for his release.
His college years – reportedly squandered in drunken/drugged out stupors – though he nevertheless managed to graduate on time – and culminating in an incident that, to hear Frey describe it – almost made him a cop killer and nearly sent him to prison for three years - on among other charges, “felony mayhem” (word to the savvy, perusing legal precedence – there is NO SUCH CHARGE as felony mayhem) – later reduced to $15000 in fines and one thousand hours of community service – is all untrue, according to Licking County Sheriff Randy Thorp.
Yes, there was a minor incident in which Frey was a drunken glassy-eyed fool, who got the attention he so desperately craved, by nearly missing a street light while driving under the influence. But there’s little to suggest anything more than a slap on the wrist from authorities and a minor penalty from the courts – not the brutal tailpipe and billy club beating Frey reports to having received when the fuzz closed in.
NO drugs found at the scene;
NO urgent call for backup by a wounded patrolman (not wounded at all, by the way);
NO merciless pummeling of Frey by a battalion of blood-thirsty/revenge driven officers,
NO “felony mayhem” and other nonsensical bru-ha drummed up by Frey’s fertile creativity and touted as absolute fact by him on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
And while Frey now admits (because, frankly, he has to) that “some” of the incidents in his book were “embellished” for dramatic purposes – that isn’t the way he pitched his story to either his publisher or the staff at Harpo Studios and it’s certainly not the spirit in which the book was marketed to the unsuspecting public at large.
(Aside: perhaps if someone had taken to beating the little bastard in his early years it would have wised him up. As it stands, Frey’s youth was more the concoction of sheepishly muddled and cloudy nightmares, spun by a lonely mama’s boy who dreamed himself a reprobate cut from the iconic tapestry of Marlon Brando in The Wild Ones.)
In A Million Little Pieces, Frey touts his spurious youth as though all the debauchery in that life’s work has been leading up to this grand and saintly reprieve and confession. Throughout the book, he repeats the phrase - “I am an Alcoholic and I am a drug Addict and I am a Criminal” as though each moniker is a badge of honor that he has since overcome through sheer will power.
Alas, Frey forgot to add “liar” “swindler” and “cheat” to that list of accomplishments. Recently, when pushed to the brink of confession, Frey once again chose the easy way out from between the proverbial rock and hard place by simply stating “There’s nothing at this point can come out of this conversation that is good for me.”
I’ll concur with that. Nothing can wipe the stain of his lies from the record now.
But what I find even more appalling than Frey’s fabled chronicle of sin – or ‘I Was A Teenage Nobody in Desperate Need of Some Identity to Call My Own’ – is the consistent lack of research undertaken by both the publishing house and The Oprah Winfrey Show before both it and the pop diva chose to market Frey’s glorified violence to the gullible American public as ‘high brow’ true confessions of a criminal mastermind.
For example, Frey supposedly spent many a golden afternoon in a 32 prisoner module, surrounded by guards who were nevertheless sympathetic to letting him read classical lit’ in his yellow and blue jumpsuit to an illiterate murderer, nicknamed “Porterhouse.”
One problem – inmates in that Ohio County Jail do not wear either color as part of their prison garb, and, they are observed by only one on-duty guard, not a battalion of them. Granville’s police sergeant, Dave Dudgeon hits very close to the truth when he says “…seems Mr. Frey has quite an imagination. He thinks he’s a bit of a desperado. He’s making a bunch of crap up.”
If anything then, Frey’s proven the only aspect of his life that’s been shattered in “A Million Little Pieces” is his credibility as an author.
But here’s the kicker. In 2003, publishing powerhouse Nan Talese – of Doubleday & Co. fame - declined to publish Frey’s manuscript as a ‘work of fiction.’ Undaunted, Frey simply recast his story as ‘truth’…no really, this actually happened…and voila – instant midnight classic for the minions of Oprah.
The missteps in the text are obvious to anyone who wants to take the time to fact check a story. Apparently, nobody at either Doubleday or Harpo thought that this was necessary.
If that’s all it takes to become a New York Times best-selling author, worthy of a cushy prime time pin cushion on the Oprah Show – I’d like to sell them both on my story about a bald spook with no pants on who committed Harry Carey with a Ginsu on a pair of three breasted strippers dipped in green paint and wearing strap-ons saying I screwed E.T.
Honest, it really happened, Oprah! Why won't you believe me?!?
I’ve got the Photoshopped eight by ten glossies and testimonials from a bunch a people who conveniently just died last night in a series of gangland styled ‘ax in the head’ assassinations. But I confess – all the legitimate records that might have proven otherwise have been expunged.
…to say nothing of those sheep not currently pulling their salaries from Harpo’s payroll.
The crabby critic
@2006 (all rights reserved).
I need your help. My name’s Terri and I’m looking for the right guy. Recently, I found a biker named Brad. My family hates him but I think he has potential. He’s 6’1, owns his own garage and likes me a lot. What do you think?
Waiting in need
This isn’t Match-Date.com.
Nor do I think I resemble Chuck Woolery. But I must say that your cavalier attitude towards your family’s acceptance of Mr. Motocross is a tad disturbing. I mean, have they ever let you down in the past? More to the point – you’ve given me little to go on with regards to Brad himself.
He’s 6’1…so what? So am I.
He owns his own garage…I hope you’re referring to some sort of business venture. I won’t ask if there’s a house…or at least an apartment…attached to it.
He likes you a lot? Define a lot.
I have no way of knowing if that like boils down to a “hey babe, come here for a good spank” or, does it translate into him bringing flowers and candy once a week to your place of work on bended knee. Either way, that doesn’t say much about the guy’s credentials as a forthright, upstanding man of integrity. If you’re family’s taken an instant dislike to him, that should be enough of a red flag, so to speak, for you to proceed with caution into this relationship.
If your family just has an aversion to all bikers in general…maybe their concern is unwarranted. I mean, not every guy who mounts a Harley is banging hookers and worshiping Satan and Hitler in his spare time. That’s a colossal stereotype. And I think you’ll discover that even organizations like ‘Hell’s Angels’ have chapters which do a good deal of community service. I’m not sure what you expect from me…I left my crystal ball at home.
The crabby critic
My nine year old daughter drowned in a community swimming pool one year ago. Recently I married the man I had been dating since way before – not my daughter’s father – who has two young children of his own that have now become mine. The problem is my new husband’s home has a big swimming pool in the backyard where he and the children swim all the time. It terrifies me just to look out through the window and watch them. I’m thinking of asking him to cement or landfill it in so I don’t have to worry anymore. What do you think?
Sherilee from Miami Beach
There are no words I could of offer to compensate for this extreme loss. You have my deepest sympathies. If I may, I would like to suggest that your sudden hysteria regarding the family pool is a response, bordering on phobia, directly stemming from your loss. After all, you didn’t think twice before the accident about letting your own child swim in a community pool, did you?
I want to make it clear that NO blame is being ascribed to you now for that decision. But, I simply want to point out that your daughter’s death was accidental. It most likely occurred without proper supervision.
I don’t think you should ask your new husband to landfill in the family pool, primarily because you’ve expressed how integral the activity of swimming has been in their lives. I assume you also swim – but have been afraid to – since the accident. If you do – or even if you don’t - I have no doubt you’ve been watching your adopted children like a hawk, each time they go into the water.
But filling in the pool WILL NOT prevent the children from swimming or drowning – especially not in Miami Beach. If you were to destroy their backyard oasis, they would simply go to someone else’s home, the ocean or another community pool out of your range to fulfill their water activities.
Bottom line (and I realize this is NO consolation) you will not be able to protect the children from any and all accidents that may befall them. I understand your pain. What I want you to understand is that if your daughter had been killed in a car crash, then your fear would concern busy intersections, fast traffic and unsupervised cross walks. In your scenario the culprit was the pool – hence, you’ve ascribed that space with the ominous aura of the proverbial ‘accident waiting to happen.’
Again, I realize this is of little comfort, but just because your daughter drowned doesn’t mean your adopted children will also. It also doesn’t mean that they won’t.
There are, however, certain precautionary measures you can take to help alleviate your level of stress each time one of them cannonballs into the deep end.
First, I’d like you to get back into the pool. If you can’t swim, then I would suggest you take lessons at a local YMCA or some such organization. Tell the instructor your fears and your reasons for joining the program so he/she knows where you’re coming from. No one will think less of you for having these anxieties.
Second, with the accompaniment of a close friend or family member – when your husband and children are away – I want you to get into that backyard pool and do some laps. Then, when you feel as though you’re ready for it, I want you to participate in those water activities in your backyard the next time the family decides to go in for a dip. You can also make the pool area safe by always having a couple of life preservers, and maybe some floating rafts, in or near the pool’s edge.
All these suggestions – I realize and understand – have left you feeling cold and clammy, but you must persevere until you’ve managed to change your attitude toward large bodies of water. Nothing will ever entirely erase the memory of your daughter’s drowning. But at least you can take many steps into ensuring that this loss will not remain a crippling one for both you and your new family.
You’re in my prayers. I expect great things.
The crabby critic
I think my Doppleganger has a crush on me. He keeps leaving weird gifts around the apartment. My wife is getting upset. She thinks it's another woman.What should I do? Confront my Doppleganger or try to rid of the gifts before my wife sees them?
Dear Gye Fox:
Define ‘weird gifts’. If they’re of the kinky variety that might lead your wife into believing she’s not the only women in your life – I’d say your Doppleganger doesn’t just have a crush. He’s getting ready to undo that belt buckle to get to know you better. Who wants to clean up after that ecto-plasm?!?! E-YUCK!
somebody better call the exorcist…
…or at the very least, Ray Parker Jr.
The crabby critic
Dear crabby critic:
I am very unhappy in my marriage. He doesn’t physically abuse me but he has emotionally scarred me. I have been staying because of the children. They seem happy and my husband is happy but I am miserable. We went to marriage counseling and it helped for a little while but it’s never been a very good marriage from the start. I wish I'd never married him. Should I stay? I try to focus on the children and have my own interests aside from my husbands. This is what is keeping me sane. Should is stay or go? I don’t want to be selfish.
Mom in Alabama
Dear Mom in Alabama:
Gee, poor you - you’re just a hop, skip and a June bug from the nut house, aren’t you?!?!?
My first question to you is – if your husband and children are happy, why aren’t you? You say your husband’s emotionally scarred you.
How? If he’s said nasty things to you in the past, but they’re not chronic (meaning, you guys have your share of disagreements – which EVERYONE DOES) then that’s not abuse! It’s just a clash of wills.
If you had said something like, “well, my husband’s a tyrant, the children are afraid of him. He’s threatened to hit me…take the kids…kill me…etc.” I would have said, ditch that pig in another trough, get custody of your boodle and don’t look back.
But you’ve not breathed a word of any of this: translation – you’re just feeling sore and cheated – possibly carrying a grudge for past indiscretions - and not feeling very much like being a wife or mother.
Well, get down off the cross. Somebody else needs the wood!
Marriage is not an easy estate. You have to want it, own it, work it and live it to make it fly. I suppose you had some sort of clichéd white picket fence scenario all cooked up before you said ‘I do’ – along the lines of Cinderella meets Danielle Steele – with long drives in the country and two point five perfect children who would grow up to become the next President and discover a cure for cancer.
But that isn’t life – as you’ve already found out. At the very least, it isn’t yours. The fact that hubby and the munchkins are having a gay ol’ time, leads me to believe that the problem isn’t them – it’s you.
Here’s a thought. Instead of blaming your husband and family for your great state of unhappiness, why not look inside and ask yourself why you’re not satisfied?
It’s quite common and NORMAL for both a husband and a wife to have second thoughts from time to time about the marriage, each other, a family, etc. But you have to get over the anxieties, apprehensions and misgivings if you are to move forward.
If you were a married woman without kids I’d say – well, the choice is yours – leave or stay. But you’ve managed to invite children into sharing the marriage with you.
Think of it this way: If you were at your place of work and your boss assigned you a three month project – but somewhere in between the second and third month you just sort of lost interest in that project and said “to hell with it! I’ll just do something else,” your boss would probably be furious. He’d want to know why your ‘time served’ in the project wasn’t sufficient enough to keep you motivated. The point I’m trying to make is that you have ‘time served’ in this marriage.
Here’s a thought – why don’t you send the kids away to yours or his mother’s for the weekend and the two of you do something romantic together. Without slinging a bunch of accusations at your husband like “I hate being married, you don’t complete me, I feel stifled, this isn’t what I expected” and so on, express your unhappiness in a way that will gain your husband’s sympathy and concern.
If he’s happy – as you say – then he’s probably totally unaware of your real feelings. Most of what you’ll tell him will be a complete shock. However, if he’s the right sort of guy, he’ll want to ‘fix’ the situation in short order. If he just looks at you, after you’ve spilled your guts and says “tough horse pucky, sweetheart – figure it out for yourself” – what can I say? You picked him. Bottom line: it isn’t up to your husband to “complete you.” You have to do that for yourself.
The crabby critic