Monday, January 30, 2006

A retraction of my own.

A while ago, I said here that I didn't care too awfully much about James Frey's dishonest memoir "Million Little Pieces," and that I was more upset that the form of the book was the most obnoxious thing I've read since "He's Just Not That Into You."

I lied.

I think James Frey is a weasel. And now I need to post about it again. Why? Because all the cool kids are doing it.

I don't know if I would have hated the book as much as I do if I had read it before I knew about the lies. Probably. But the lying really makes it worse. At first it was just annoying. Then I got PISSED. I can pinpoint the exact moment that the change occurred.
About a famous recovering rockstar who lectured about his history:

"...After a while, after far too long a while, he talks about drinking and drugs. When he talks of heroin, he taps the bend of his elbow with two fingers, when he talks of coke he sniffs, booze he makes a motion like he has a bottle, pills as if he's tossing them in. He claims that at the height of his use he would do five thousand dollars of cocaine and heroin a day mixed with four to five fifths of booze a night and up to forty pills of Valium to sleep. He says this with complete sincerity and with the utmost seriousness.
I am tired and I am spent. I am nervous and I am happy. I am calm. Were I in my normal frame of mind, I would stand up, point my finger, scream Fraud, and chase this Chump Motherfucker down and give him a beating. Were I in my normal frame of mind, after I gave him his beating, I would make him come back here and apologize to everyone for wasting their precious time. After the apology, I would tell him that if I ever heard of him spewing his bullshit fantasies in Public again, I would cut off his precious hair, scar his precious lips, and take all of his goddamn gold records and shove them straight up his ass.
I don't like this man. I don't like what he has to say or how he's saying it. I don't believe him and his Rock Star status isn't enough to make me buy the shit he's trying to sell. Four to five thousand dollars is enough to kill a Person several times over....
There is no excitement, no glamour, no fun. There are no good times, there is no joy, there is no happiness. There is no future and no escape. There is only an obsession. An all-encompassing, fully enveloping, completely overwhelming obsession. To make light of it, brag about it, or revel in the mock glory of it is not in any way, shape or form related to its truth, and that is all that matters, the truth. That this man is standing in front of me and everyone else in this room lying to us is heresy. The truth is all that matters. This is fucking heresy."
And it doesn't stop here. Throughout the book, Frey makes sure we all know how important the Truth is to him. James, apparently, doesn't like Liars.

About someone in treatment who exaggerates and lies about his bad deeds:

"He is telling a story about some Mobsters he knows in Brooklyn, claiming that he manages their money through investments in the Stock Market and they get him drugs and women and whatever else he wants. When he talks of amounts of drugs, Matty laughs and says he should have asked for more. Bobby then corrects himself and says that he actually did get more. When he talks of women, Ed tells him that four at a time isn't that big of a deal and Bobby says the next time that he had eight...
Eventually, I get tired of Bobby and his bullshit and I snicker at a comment he makes about the amount of money he earns, which he claims to be in the millions each year. He stops talking and he stares at me and he asks me what the fuck I think is so funny. I stare back and I tell him that I find his lies amusing...
Bobby, like all Liars confronted, is instantly defensive and instantly mad."
About a TV show depicting a drug addict:

"She is a beautiful young woman whose body is absent of any bruises, scars or track marks. She wears dirty clothes that are ragged in a glamorous way. She cries whenever anyone talks to her and there are large, black bags under her eyes, though her crying is obviously fake and the bags under her eyes are a different size each time we see her...."

Needless to say, James doesn't like that particular program. He goes on to describe in great detail what he would do to punish the people in that program for being liars.

So, yeah. I think James Frey is a weasel who has made a huge profit off of being a liar. And a hypocrite. I don't have time for that.


Blogger Zachary said...

I'm sorry. I'm still somewhere between ambivalent and couldn't-care-less. Maybe I didn't think of him too much as a role model from the beginning to care whether it was totally truthful or not. I guess, to me, it was yet another piece of fiction that happened to be really, really good. It still taught me many things, things I won't forget just because he wrote fiction with his lips.

January 30, 2006 1:35 PM  
Blogger Flamingo Jones said...

And if he had called it "fiction" we wouldn't have a problem. Then I'd just think it was kind of a crappy, overrated book and forget about it. But being deliberately lied to and manipulated....that I take personally.

January 30, 2006 2:09 PM  
Blogger wobbleboard said...

I will expect the full Truth from "Flamingo Jones: My Story."

Also, what was wrong with "He's Just Not That Into You"?

January 30, 2006 2:36 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

I'm with Zac. I really couldn't give a rat's ass. And it really doesn't matter anyway. He's going to make his money, be a big celebrity, and be loved by many because Opra tells her cult that is what they are supposed to do.

Then again, celebrities who are adored by others but are really liars are a dime a dozen. Politicians, hollywood, etc.

January 30, 2006 3:13 PM  
Blogger Flamingo Jones said...

"Also, what was wrong with "He's Just Not That Into You"?

um....that's a joke, right?

January 30, 2006 3:50 PM  
Blogger Ian McGibboney said...

It should matter to anyone who reads the book that Frey passed it off as his personal struggle, and that his admitted lying considerably diminishes the story. The element that makes non-fiction so compelling in the first place is the idea that what you're reading is true and possible in the real world. This is why I devour non-fiction and pretty much leave fiction alone.

In the 1980s, a journalist won a Pulitzer Prize for a phenomenal series of stories about an 8-year-old heroin addict. However, it turned out that the writer made up those stories from scratch. Can anyone honestly tell me that such a revelation in no way ruins the story? Of course it does, because then it isn't real!

Frey's story suffers even further because he admonishes people for doing the same thing he did, even as he was doing it. And none of his subjects were making millions off their lies or pulling at America's heartstrings. He deserves all of the fallout he gets.

January 30, 2006 4:18 PM  
Blogger Flamingo Jones said...

Yes, thank you Ian. You get it. We're on the same wavelength. Again.

January 30, 2006 9:54 PM  
Blogger wobbleboard said...

um....that's a joke, right?

Um, not really. I've never read it (for obvious reasons I don't care if *he's* that into me), but I know several women who found it helpful. One subsequently dumped me. Hmmm...

January 31, 2006 8:28 AM  
Blogger Phillip said...

incidentally The Oprah did have him back on and confronted him about the lies. i've heard people say that if the book helps others then what's the harm. the harm is that truth matters, truth is important.

although it seems less and less so these days.

January 31, 2006 8:30 AM  
Blogger Flamingo Jones said...

yes, that's exactly it! the truth IS important. But I guess given today's political and social climate, I shouldn't be surprised that a majority of people don't agree with us.

January 31, 2006 11:33 AM  
Blogger Neil Shakespeare said...

Well, when I heard that Doperah had recommended it I knew it would be no good, so I never bought it. Lucky me, the way it sounds.

January 31, 2006 1:21 PM  
Blogger Flamingo Jones said...

So, a lot of people hate Oprah, huh? This is news to me. I feel like I've missed out on some memo or something.

I mean, I'm not like in the Oprah fan club or anything, she's just more of a non-entity in my life.

I'm just curious. Really curious.

January 31, 2006 4:40 PM  
Blogger Ian McGibboney said...

So am I. What puzzles me further, though, is why the same people who dis Oprah give a free pass to Frey. Oprah did not deliberately mislead people, and owned up to the mistake once she realized she had. Frey had no such excuse.

January 31, 2006 8:37 PM  
Blogger johnalexander1362634966 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

February 01, 2006 4:57 AM  

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