Tuesday, March 4, 2008

ESD#19: hatin' on The Times

Last week, The New York Times published this story about a former gang member making a home for her family in Oregon. The woman is releasing a memoir. When I read this story, I knew it was fake. I'm not sure how I knew. Looking back at it now, here's one questionable passage:
Besides being a consummate storyteller and analyst of inner city pathology, she is one of the few people who in the same conversation can talk about the joys of putting up her own jam (“I’m going to give you a couple of jars!”) and the painful business of getting a tattoo of a large, weeping pit bull across her back the day the state of Nevada set a close friend’s execution date.
Or how about this one:
Ms. Jones gave birth to her daughter while she was still in college, then graduated with a degree in ethnic studies, She stayed on in Eugene. Rya’s father, she said, was “the first white guy I ever dated, and she was the first white baby I ever saw. I said, she looks sickly, is there something wrong with her?”
Oh, let's throw this one in there, too:
“The first time my o. g. visited me here” — meaning original gangster, the gang’s leader — “he slept 20 hours straight. In L.A. your anxiety is so high you sleep three hours a night.”
I think this was the line that put me over the edge:
One of the first things I did once I started making drug money was to buy a burial plot.
Give me a break! If someone asked me to write a fake gang-related memoir, this is exactly what I would write.

This reminds me of when numerous reputable news outlets (including The Times) reported that the Pope saw Mel Gibson's "The Passion" and responded "It is as it was." There is NO WAY the Pope saw the film, let alone speak that line. Again, if someone asked me to write a fake quote for the pope, "It is as it was" is exactly what I would write.

Well, sure enough, it's all lies. She made up the whole thing. And it's making me angry that The Times let this slip through the cracks. Get it together, Bill Keller!

What makes this even more aggravating is the reporter's blatantly ignorant and offensive depiction of the woman and her home. Why does she have to mention her "fresh set of artificial fingernails" and the sofa that was "jacketed in a brown elasticized cover from Target?" Or how about this gem:
With its shootings, pimps beating prostitutes in the street and drug deals plainly transacted in front of children, the Los Angeles neighborhood where Ms. Jones lived is light years from her tame life now.

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

Sometimes I really hate The Times. The same page that included this bullshit story also featured "The Terrible Toll of Art Anxiety" a "crippling malady" afflicting the wealthy. UGH.

This whole thing make me think there's some credence to Malcolm Gladwell's (AKA Mr. Tipping Point) The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. Surely there was some editor who read this and, like me, thought something was a little off. Maybe The Times should stick to reviewing inspirational business non-fiction and stay away from memoirs altogether.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for the catch of how the fake memoir was to the left of "Oh, what painting should I buy next." File this under a new section called ennui-hypochondria.