Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The Biggest Lit Fraud of Them All

. . . . would be best-selling author Mitch Albom. His entire pose is fake. Not the least of the fakery are his books themselves, which are written down to the level of 95 year-old people dying in nursing homes.

Moneybags Mitch made his first big fortune as a writer with Tuesdays with Morrie, a treacly compendium of popcorn philosophy that would put even "Seize the Day" Saul Bellow to shame. The only thing Albom is seizing, of course, despite Morrie's warnings and admonishments, is bags of money. Ever the opportunist, Mitch saw Morrie, his old prof, on TV with Ted Koppel, and thought, "Why don't I take advantage of this?" So he did.

Mitch Albom is best known in Detroit for his weaselly behavior during the brutal and bloody 1995 Detroit newspaper strike-- a true eye-opener for me about what our monopolistic economy is really about. Oh, I'd always known, but I'd never quite seen it before in such dramatic fashion.

I was bartending at the time at a rough saloon down the street from the huge Detroit Free Press printing plant which sits along Detroit's riverfront. The men and women who worked in the plant were among my best customers. I got to know many of them well; heard their stories of their jobs; saw the mangled hands of some, and knew the early deaths of others. Working around huge machines, rollers, and inks isn't always conducive to one's health. These people had earned their protections and benefits.

I remember well, before contract talks broke down, the busloads of strike-breakers brought into Detroit from down south; jackbooted thugs who resembled ex-cons. The companies readied for war. The goal of the two gigantic companies involved, Gannett and Knight-Ridder, was to break the various unions.

The pressmen and mailers who worked in the plant stuck together. They were tough folks, not really "liberals," but they had character and believed in their principles. I have many images of that time: the saloon owner putting food out for the strikers and their families; picket signs stacked along the inside walls of the bar; strikers coming into the bar with beaten faces from fights with goons while walking the picket line. It was a very intense time. Someday I'll put the scenes and people I knew in a novel.

Mitch Albom? The top sportswriter, he was the newspaper's star. Liberal Mitch already had substantial sources of outside income, from his radio shows, the sports books he was co-authoring, and so on. If anyone could've withstood a strike, easily, it was him. If anyone should've lived up to the pose he espoused of compassion and the worth of people, it was Mitch Albom. He was one of the first to cross the picket line (not that he ever physically crossed it); the poster boy of strikebreakers. Many journalists followed. Half of the journalist guild members were to go back, all those mouthpieces of liberal values, rushing back to embrace the monster corporations. Of the blue-collar workers, not one broke ranks. Not one. Many of them would end up destroyed. I know. I witnessed it. One reason I espouse The Octopus as the great American novel is because of its truth-- because the story it tells is still happening now.

Last Sunday Mitch had an article in Parade magazine, about his trip to a Salvation Army shelter to bring joy for the holidays, camera in tow. "Look how benevolent I am, folks! Spending an hour with the poor! Me! Mitch Albom! Best-selling author! Look at me! The great and sensitive Mitch Albom!" And all the while the bank account for this ever-busy fraud keeps increasing as he continues bilking a gullible public.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for another great post, Karl. I've always thought the guy was jive but your post brought a stunning new level of knowledge and background to this shyster's shenanigans. Fuck him and the whores he rode in on.

Tim Hall

Anonymous said...

Oh, no you di'nt! Taking on "America's sweetheart." Seriously, though, the blog is great. Merry Christmas to you and the ULA and a happy, feisty new year.