Frey Sadism

I admit it. I never watch Oprah, but I TiVo'd the episode with her and James Frey. And watch it repeatedly. A Million Little Pieces was a self-indulgent grab-bag of macho posturing and misinformation, with breathtakingly bad grammar. The guy posed like a badass all over town, bragging about how he managed to quick his multi-narcotic and alcohol addiction through sheer will rather than wussy self-help programs. And now, well, he's just caught.

I like watching a braggart go down, but let's get real, here. This guy went on publicity tours and was almost always well-rehearsed. Publishers don't let you breathe if they invest any money in you. And watching Nan Talese chomping smile on Oprah made me wonder--as did--how much Doubleday knew. I mean, who was going to find out? What were the odds that this little book with the cool cover was going to go anywhere? Who knew that Oprah would get involved?

They sank him, and maybe they should have, but he's probably laughing all the way to the bank. Even I picked up his book again, to re-read that ludicrous paragraph where he's semi-conscious and covered in vomit and can't figure out what plane he's on. Oprah is "protecting her brand," as homespun, generic and powerful as it is. Who's losing here? Just us. The slowly disappearing discriminating reader.

I think they--the publishers, the publicists, the journalists--knew, each on some level, and knew not to ask too many questions. My book has been repackaged as the publishers see fit, and will be marketing accordingly. But women's history and pop culture are both non-fiction. I'm not making shit up. "It was doing so much good" they cry--for god's sake then, file it in self-help. Don't tell me that it's true. Maybe that should be its own genre: Fiction, Nonfiction, Truth.

With all that said, I almost wish he got away with it--pulled the wool over the eyes of the whole industry, the world, the Oprah-ness of it all. And then, like the character in the book, or like the man himself, running off to the Bahamas stroking his royalties and whispering "My precious, my precious..."

Wish I thought of it first...without getting caught.

To #1 Single from #2 Single

It was inevitable, and it has happened. Reality television has infected my life.

It probably has before. I'm sure I stumbled upon one of the cast members of the San Francisco Real World and I have a hazy memory of seeing Lisa Loeb in concert. Lisa Loeb? Reality television? Surely you jest...sold out, si? But no, there she is, the sta of E! Entertainment Television's #1 Single, in which the icon of cute girly geek chic has her a show about her dating life, or lack thereof. Of course, the show hits on every stereotype imaginable (chastisement by a rabbi's family for being 37, advise from a very Jewish mom, half-naked Mizrahi moment). I still like Loeb, who looks really hot and really clever for her age. Finally, it's a reality show that you don't feel utterly stupid watching. After all, I can relate to a thirty-something Jewish girl's dating problems in New York.

On the second episode, Lisa goes on a blind date on an airplane ride from Los Angeles to New York. That is true commitment to finding a mate. I want to sit next to no one on my plane rides, and then no one again, so I can have three seats to stretch out in, a pharmaceutically or spiritually induced slumber until we land. However, Lisa sits next to Allen S., a writer and author of Festivus: A Holiday for the Rest of Us. Allen S. was also my writing teacher back in 2002; we have kept in intermittent touch over the years. I was surprised to see him on a reality dating show--not entirely surprised, since he's very good at self-promotion and Lisa Loeb seems like his type.

So, on last night's episode Lisa and Allen seem to be getting along until she sees a Page Six gossip excerpt about Alan's book party and the fact that Allen and Lisa are an "item" after what looks like two dates. Allen says he had nothing to do with it, and then admits he gave a quote about the book signing because the gossip was a done deal. Lisa looks wounded and a song about broken promises plays. Allen looks like a shameless parasite hoping to capitalize on poor Ms. Loeb's celebrity for his book.

Now, I am dying of curiosity about how Allen feels about his portrayal--and, how much of it is editing, or even scripted. The mind boggles with theories. I remember a writing class when the mysterious girlfriend stayed in the downstairs bedroom the whole time. Allen wrote for the New York Post for years, which could enable him to plant the gossip, or ask that it be planted. Was Lisa really mad, which is surprising for a woman going on a reality show about her lovelife. The Festivus book signing was a zoo--my roommate and I went and I distinctly remember seeing reality television-worthy lights there. Allen sold all his books--not in part thanks to the presence of Frank and Esther Costanza--or, as they are more commonly known, Jerry Stiller and his wife Anne Meara. It is very hard to sell all your books and get that much press for a book signing--how much of it was due to the Page Six gossip which Ms. Loeb seemed so betrayed by? Or was it all a massive publicity stunt? Tell us, Allen, please.

Fascinating. We'll see if Allen is in the next episode.

Can We Trust Lawyerwriter?

This is a legitimate question. Can lawyerwriter be trusted to continue as a blog?

When I first started to blog, it really wasn't about building an audience. I just liked writing and instantly publishing.

For the last few months I have loathed writing and publishing. But I'm coming out of that now. So maybe this blog can be trusted.

Here are some answers to some of your other questions, as I imagine them.

1. Why did you hate writing and publishing?

Alas, some things are personal.

2. What the hell is this blog about?

No one knows. It just appeared on the internet like a funky smell, and refuses to go away. The comment section now attracts spam like flies. And yet, I run into people all the time who tell me "I read your blog every day." So the topics must be touching some audience--other people like me.

3. Who the hell are you?

I am a lawyer who does not practice but thinks of practicing (part-time, anyway) and a writer is loves writing, but doesn't want to do it for a living. Essentially, I am a very poor person with a vivid imagination.

4. Can't we have some idea of what to expect if we, say, want to be distracted for that last five minutes before we go home?

These are the topics I'm interested in: being a writer, the whole law school/lawyer phenomenon, the mythic quality of celebrity gossip (particularly anything about Brangelina), being a dog walker, being a freelancer, what band I saw last night, angry ventings of real-life situations that are hopefully readable, being Indian-American, being from Northern California, living in New York City, sketching out chapters of upcoming books, the worlds of publishing, journalism and, oddly, anything about management techniques, poverty of the artistic, and, embarassingly, reality television. Seriously.

Dpes this make sense? (No.) Will this get me a regular audience? (No.) Shouldn't I have advertisements on the side of the screen somewhere? (Yes). Isn't the lack of topic and consistency just a part of your total self-absorption? (Yes.) Can you even justify this blog at all? (Yes. It gets me writing everyday). How accurate are your descriptions of your night out? (I have been known to omit details, like stuff about my lovelife. Don't worry, you're not missing much.)

5. Can't you spellcheck?

You know, I really am THAT lazy. So, no.

6. How about some more images on the blog?

Again, really--that lazy. If you see any pictures, it will probably involve Angelina Jolie. I'm obsessed with her--but, you know, in a spiritual, personal way.

7. How old is that picture?
Last year. My hair is longer now.

8. Isn't the fact that you were recently published in Cat Fancy magazine the first sign that you are not normal about your cats?

Well, technically, I am not normal about animals. I love them wholeheartedly, without reservation, which is the only reason I can forgoe chicken tikka masala, grilled salmon and Big Macs to be a vegetarian. But the article was easy, paid decently, and I liked the fact that I could do something for cat-kind, as they have done plenty for me. (I do recognize that this is still more extreme than some people, and no, it really doesn't make a difference to me if the rest of human-kind is vegetarian or not. I just which we were smarter and more considerate about it).

9. How's freelancing?

It bites. That's why I'm looking for a part-time job. As a writer, I charge $50 an hour. That rate goes up or down depending on the level of my desperation, but I have to at least make half that. Keep me posted if you hear anything.

10. Can we count on a new lawyerwriter entry every day?

I'm aiming for daily. Bear with me while I get my groove back. It's really nice to know that people out there like the blog and my writing. It is back, I promise.

I'll leave the rest of the questions for you. Fire away!