There is an important point about the Ted Nugent editorial I discussed yesterday that I didn’t touch on, but which seems, in retrospect, important.
I’ve been a professional writer for over thirty years.
The best prior experience here, I believe, was when I was an editor with HUSTLER, and part of my duties were to read the foot-high stack of “readers letters” that passed over my desk every morning.
You see, it’s not that difficult to tell the difference between a real writer, a ghost writer, and a rewritten piece.
Writing is, you might have noticed, not as easy as it looks. I was “lucky” enough to be shown that in spades: Half of that stack of “reader letters” I read every morning — about “real” sexual experiences — might as well have been written in crayon. And, there were the wannabe writers who were obviously writing (awful) fiction. And there were the actual interesting experiences so hobbled by amateurish prose that the best one could do was extract the seed of a letter from them. The number of letters I ever read that were ready to go out of the box?
Zero. I never read one that didn’t have glaring flaws — AS writing. AS storytelling, which, ultimately, is what was being asked, no matter the ‘legitimacy’ of the story subject.
To write a tight piece in the short space alloted took something more than a recitation of banal sexual experience. It is not much talked about, but writing a tight piece that elegantly* fit in the short space alloted to “real” readers’ experiences took a good fundamental grasp of writing. Hack writing, perhaps, but up to a necessary professional standard.
[* ‘elegant’ as in the mathematical concept of elegance: the least number of propositions to prove the theorum.]
And the foot-tall stack dumped on my desk every morning proved that the actual number of amateur writers capable of that feat was miniscule to nil. Even one that passed muster was extensively rewritten to make the point in 1500 formulaic words.
(The same holds true for types of writing other than that of the subgenre concerned with the soft mucosa of those regions anterior to the navel and superior to the knees.)
It is telling, perhaps, that more months than not, when it came time for “Kinky Korner,” I was ultimately assigned the job of writing the story either based on a small kernel of an idea from a letter,(we paid the letter writer), or, often, out of whole cloth.
“The Lesbian Wedding” June 1980, comes to mind — Althea Flynt had seen an Olivia De Berardinis postcard she really liked and wanted a story to go with it. Things being the clusterf**k they always were at HUSTLER, after I wrote it and it was approved, they couldn’t get rights to reprint the Olivia card, and had to commission another artist to come up with a NEW illustration based on the Olivia card (far enough different to avoid a lawsuit, of course), and the story that had been written specifically for it. Sisyphus never had it so good.
So: the question becomes, what happened to those stacks and stacks of mail I had to read EVERY MORNING? (“Slush” is the old, forgotten term).
Well, they were too abysmal to even bother with. One in literally hundreds was even worth a second look. That is the average cross-section of American prose.
You never know what professional prose looks like until you’ve seen a significant chunk of amateur stuff.
So, too, I would imagine that the prose stylings of Ted Nugent would fall into the category of those letters. If you’ve ever seen the difference between professional prose and amateur prose, you can’t mistake the two. Nugent’s final words are not the words that appear in the WSJ editorial: he don’t write that good, guaranteed.
In the case of the Nugent editorial (See yesterday’s: “Nugent: Die HIPPIE! Die!“) I have no doubt that it was heavily rewritten by the WSJ staff, if not– as is too often the case with our books, our articles, and columns by “famous” people — entirely ghost-written, with a vague idea of where Nugent either stood, or what he was willing to ‘say.’
A good (alleged) example is Chuck Norris’ “column” on the WorldNetDaily website. Joseph Farah, the malady behind the WND internet publishing empire loves “celebrity” columns, and I have no doubt that virtually none of the “celebrities” involved ever lifts a finger to have those columns written.
This is the dirty secret of American publishing for a century and more. The vast amount of ghost-written, and simply written to go with a ‘licensed’ name (recognizable, ‘celebrity’) adds to a staggering heap of lies. Lies: in that they are fundamentally dishonest about who wrote them, and, therefore, prima fascie (famous fascie) untruths, propaganda, lies to get you to buy.
We are inured to them. But when Lindsey “Bionic Woman” Wagner pops up on the late night infomercial spots shilling for the “sleep number” mattress, even though we know she’s reading words written for her, and oozing fake sincerity, we believe it ANYWAY, because we “know” her. She is “familiar” to us, because of her celebrity.
Which brings us back to Ted Nugent.
I cannot prove it, other than via my understanding of the editorial process, but I believe that the Wall Street Journal‘s “Fourth of July” editorial was specifically dreamt up at a WSJ editorial meeting, and planned for that date. Certainly the decision to run the editorial allegedly “written” by Ted Nugent on the Fourth of July* was entirely handled at the masthead level.
[* And one has to appreciate how little the WSJ understands what the Fourth means that they would attempt to negate and minimalize a generation that EMBODIED the ideals of the Revolutionary generation and the Enlightenment on that selfsame date.]
Make no mistake: it was the WSJ’s intention to slur an entire generation.
Seeing how quickly progressives fail to take offense, and how easily they are diverted, I cannot fail to understand the raw simplicity of the propagandists’ approach: put out every red herring possible, and they’ll lose the trail very quickly. (GOP: Trolls ‘R’ Us.)
Witness the “strategery” of the post-Libby Skating Scot-free spin. (Less than 21% of us are buying it, reportedly.)
So, in a very real sense, I consider that Nugent op-ed no more “real” than my ghost-written “real letters” for HUSTLER. (As any free-lancer of the period knows, the writing of “real” letters was a sure-fire way to pay your rent, while the hoity-toity magazines fiddled and your personal Rome burned).
With HUSTLER, it was a post-card that Althea Flynt saw. With the WSJ, it was probably some Nugent sound bite that a sub-editor saw.
And, while I don’t doubt that Nugent holds the vile opinion that is presented, I don’t accept that he’s professional enough to have written it, any more than you ought to accept that I, who CAN play an electric guitar pretty well, mind you — could automatically substitute for Nugent at the local big hall, and run through his entire set.
There are skills and there are skills.
And then there’s the Wall Street Journal‘s editorial page.
Who have just slurred a good and decent generation, who doesn’t seem to take any offense, or, perhaps, even notice. Whether Nugent wrote, limned, or just put his name on the piece in question, it was an extension of the WSJ editorial board’s feelings about that “sixties” generation.
Don’t you get it? These people wouldn’t mind if we all showed up dead tomorrow (as long, in most cases, as THEY didn’t have to do the dirty work). They have expressed their contempt in terms as clear as John Hancock’s signature. Will we appreciate the magnitude of the insult? (They probably just think it’s all in good ‘ol boy fun, like the cheap sophistries that that whore of the Right, David Brooks, is spinning over the Scooter Libby case in the pages of the formerly reputable New York TIMES.)
How we can remain “civil” in the face of this is beyond my ken.
I will only reiterate what I’ve said before: WHEN they manage to inevitably push their litany of hatespeak into actual bloodletting, and full-blown civil war (for there is no other place that this hatred of American against American can go), well …
I’ve got dibs on Rush, as soon as it’s legal and lawful to shoot him.
Whoever wants Ted Nugent is welcome to him, but I would prefer that you would call it now, so as to conserve on ammunition. We will need to manage it prudently.
But when the day comes that they have finally set brother against brother, and sister against sister in the name of their pocketbooks, I won’t approach exterminating them with anything approaching remorse. They’ve already told me what they think of me, of my friends and of my peers.
Now, I’m returning the favor.
Put that in your pipe and have the WSJ editorial staff show you how to smoke it, Nugent.
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