As I was trolling around the New Release section at Borders, I was mildly intrigued by the memoirs just released by Tony Curtis. I'm always a sucker for these Hollywood autobiographies and I was curious to see if Tony is going to be truly forthcoming about his well-rumored philandering and drug use. Besides, he was one of the stars of the movie that came in at #2 on my list of Top 25 Favorite Films---"Some Like It Hot." With a 30% off sticker, the purchase made sense.
Now let me tell you the story of how my path crossed with this guy, who is widely known among sportswriters as one of the biggest assholes who ever scrolled paper into an electric typewriter.
Like scum on a pond, Golenbock has manuevered his way through a series of sports biographies. I actually read a few of them. There was one about Billy Martin, which spent about half of the book listing historical accounts of Martin's blood alcohol content. There was one I didn't read. Mickey Mantle was the subject and it was roundly dismissed because Golenbock dreamed up a fictitious backstory to Mantle's childhood, and the author was not shy in admitting this.
Then there was the Golenbock tome that I purchased and read with unflagging interest. "Amazin'." Allegedly, an oral history of the New York Mets. All he had to do with this book was stitch together interviews with loads of folks who had been associated with the Mets since 1962. How badly could he f^#k this up?
Pretty badly, as it turns out. Throughout the pages, Golenbock would recount Met history in between all the personal reflections from his interviewees. And, as he did so, Golenbock relayed one factual mistake after another. Not just one or two. I could pretty much find an error on every other page. A book that should have been as definitive as Webster's Dictionary was the Hurricane Katrina of the literary world. When he got to the 1986 World Series and went into great detail about how cold it was at Shea Stadium on that Sunday night for Game 1, I wanted to heave the book through the nearest window. I was there that night. Yes, it was cold. Very cold for a SATURDAY NIGHT. Indeed, anybody who has the slightest interest in baseball knew that Game 1 of the World Series started on a Saturday night right through the 80s and into the 90s. And this is documented on tons of statistical websites, baseball history books, etc..
I looked at the book jacket and copied down the publisher's website. There would be a carefully toned, but pretty snarly e-mail that trashed this monumental waste of my time and money. As examples, I used about four or five of the more obvious mistakes. I felt better doing so and really expected nothing in return except the standard e-mail reply "your letter will be reviewed shortly."
Well, not only did the publisher respond but they also forwarded my e-mail to Mr. Golenbock's manager. Mrs. Golenbock. And she was none too happy that I had been so forthcoming about my thoughts on her husband's shitty book. Or so I learned from the e-mail that she sent me.
At first, Mrs. Hack was quite defensive about her hubby's work. As a matter of fact, she told me that I would be happy to know Peter's proofreader is one of the best in the business. But, knowing how much I wanted to make sure that subsequent printings of this book were emended, she asked me to go through the book and write down all the errors for her.
Given I didn't want these two idiots to think that I took their offer for a fall internship lightly, I answered her back. I asked her to tell me how much Peter's proofreader was paid and that I would correct his several hundred missteps at twice the salary. I also contended that said proofreader might not be the best in the business and probably, in another book, missed the fact that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on December 8, 1942.
My offer was naturally dismissed.
Yet, the story continues. About a month later, I am reading the Mets' monthly magazine, "Inside Pitch." A writer takes on the topic of Golenbock's "Amazin" and announces that it is a must-read and must-have for all Met fans. The article looked like it was copied directly from the publisher's press release.
Enter Len's letter to the editors of "Inside Pitch."
I related about 10% of the errors I found in Peter's book and then also told about the subsequent exchange with the author's frau. I closed with the announcement that "Amazin'" was a must-burn for all Met fans. For some reason, I included my e-mail address.
Yet, the story continues.
Several weeks after my letter appeared in the pages of "Inside Pitch," I got another e-mail. From famed NY baseball writer Jack Lang (who has since passed away). As a matter of fact, Jack, who was not up-to-date on this new-fangled e-mail contraption, wrote that he was having his son type up his note to me. Essentially, on behalf of sportswriters all over the NY area, he wanted to thank me for publicly, and at last, calling to attention what a horrible writer and disservice Peter Golenbock has been for almost two decades. Apparently, Peter's lack of talent and knowledge has been whispered around NY press boxes for years, but no one dare mention it in print. But, I did. As a thank you, Jack asked me for my address so he could send me his own definitive version of Met history, which he did in short order.
About a year later, I noticed that "Amazin'" had been released in a soft cover version. I wondered about the status of Mr. Golenbock's proofreader and whether even the five or so bloopers I had cited were even considered by his dopey wife. I turned to the section on the 1986 World Series.
Yep, Game 1 was still played at a freezing Shea Stadium. On a Sunday night. Nobody bothered to do a thing. Mr. and Mrs. Golenbock didn't give a shit. Perhaps they were already moving on to court Tony Curtis.
I have yet to crack the binding on the Tony Curtis tome. But, given that Tony's input was probably crucial, he certainly wouldn't get the facts of his own life wrong. Right?
Still, I wouldn't be surprised to read his memories and reflections on making "Some Like It Hot." That hit comedy from 1959 which co-starred Jack Carson and Marilyn Maxwell.
Dinner last night: Braciole at Maria's Italian Kitchen.