Nobody edits Mitch Albom. That’s the only explanation I can think of. He just opens his laptop, types any old crap, and they put it in the paper:
I was sitting at the Pistons game, fans screaming, giant men racing up the court, when Matt Dobek, the Pistons’ PR vice president, pointed at a TV and said, “My god, did you see this?”
There in the corner of the screen, was a “breaking news” alert: David Halberstam killed in a car crash.
Yes, I think we’ll all remember where we were when we heard the news of David Halberstam’s death. Mitch was schmoozing with NBA executives. I was sitting on my Ikea chaise lounge, trying to write some fiction for my workshop tonight. It shouldn’t surprise you to learn I was procrastinating by reading the wires.
Halberstam, who was 73, would have understood the “breaking news” part.
That’s good to know.
A Pulitzer Prize winner from his Vietnam days, he was as good a journalist as we’ve produced in this country. And since he wrote famous books about the news business, the sports business and even basketball, I guess the setting was not altogether inappropriate.
Mitch, one writer to another: Beware the obvious adjective, i.e. “famous” books. If the books were obscure, no one would give a fig.
But the news itself? Halberstam? Dead? This made no sense. Not a car crash. Not on a Monday. Not being driven by a graduate student in northern California. You couldn’t imagine Halberstam going out that way. Maybe covering some war in some hot zone. Maybe dying at his desk in New York, copious notes piled in giant stacks around him. But not like this.
For a man who made his bones writing about it, Mitch is surprisingly flummoxed by death. Mitch can never believe how people can just…die. And in such unexpected ways! Even on Mondays! As I recall, he was similarly amazed to hear of Bo Schembechler’s passing. The old coach was 77 years old and had had two — two — heart bypasses. And…yet…he just…died? Halberstam was 73, still in good health, but hey, everyone who rides in a car can die in a car crash. Hell, he could have choked on a piece of popcorn; hasn’t Mitch ever watched “Six Feet Under”? Mitch would be more comfortable with death in a war, a “hot zone,” never mind that Halberstam hadn’t covered a war since Vietnam. Or maybe dying at his desk, surrounded by “copious” notes. (Oops, the obvious adjective again. A lawn appears in a subsequent passage. In what condition? Why, “manicured,” of course.)
I tried to turn back to the game. I failed. In his later years, David had become a friend of mine.
Ah, so now we get to it. This is one of those Mitch’s-friend obits. The first one of these I read was Mitch’s tribute to Warren Zevon. Now there was a death with some irony attached. A decades-long smoker dead at 56 from mesothelioma, a rare form of lung cancer not related to smoking. A writer could do something with that. But, and color me astonished, Mitch’s tribute to Warren quoted the dead man praising Mitch. Mitch is never uncomfortable quoting someone with the opinion that Mitch is a wonderful writer. Bo Schembechler was another F.O.M.: When we finished our book together, the publisher asked if there were any dedications or thank-yous we wanted to insert. I listed dozens of Bo’s relatives, friends and former players. Bo only wanted to put in one sentence. He wrote “I want to personally thank Mitch Albom. The poor son of a bitch had no idea what he was getting into.”
Ha ha! As I was saying to my close friend Tony Bennett the other day…
Oh, why go on? What is the point of this? I still have fiction to write, and picking on Mitch is like drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die. You can’t stop him; he’ll be writing his treacly novels and Broadway play tie-ins and Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movies until that day when we all look up at a nearby TV screen and gasp as one to read: Best-selling author Mitch Albom dies of exploded head; “stress of ego too great,” docs say…
I just hope he goes before Tony Bennett.
One last note: One of Halberstam’s most “famous” books was “The Reckoning.” It was about the decline of the American auto industry, based guess-where. It’s not mentioned in Albom’s column.
If anyone cares, yes, I think Sheryl Crow is kidding.
Brooke Shields demonstrates what makes a first-birthday party tolerable for the adult guests: beer. (Actually, the more I see of Brooke, the more I like her. Talk about a girl who could have turned out differently. And a beer-drinker to boot.)
If I still lived in Indiana, the bureau of motor vehicles would have made me a believer by now, or at least encouraged it through license fees. Doghouse Riley explains.
The genius of Oliver Stone, screenwriter, via YouTube. Absolutely NSFW, unless you have headphones.
Back to the fiction. Someone, help me feel poetic ‘n’ stuff.