When Joseph Farah called and asked me if I’d consider writing a
weekly column for WorldNetDaily, I knew that a prayer had been answered.
I’d spent the day of Farah’s phone call lurking in a musty stairwell
on the fifth floor of a dilapidated office building located above a
tattoo parlor on Hollywood Boulevard. The temperature outside was
pushing 106, and the place wasn’t air-conditioned.
In addition to the subpoena in my pocket, I was carrying a couple of
cans of extra-strength pepper spray, a retractable police-style baton
and a .38 Smith & Wesson in an ankle holster. The gig was to serve
papers on a sleazoid lawyer who’d been ducking my client for over two
months. Mr. Sleazoid had warned my client that he’d gladly “blow the
brains out” of anyone who tried to come within ten feet of him. I took
him at his word.
At the end of the day, Mr. Sleazoid never having shown, I pondered my
circumstances as I rested my tired dogs. I’d been in the throngs of a
pretty good-sized depression for a couple of weeks. My writing career
had dwindled to banging out press releases for the private investigative
firm I was working for, and a long-overdue book project that couldn’t
seem to make it past the first draft.
I was indulging in a healthy bout of self-pity when Farah’s call came
in. When I hung up, it was literally as if a huge black cloud had
lifted. Suddenly, the world wasn’t in black and white anymore. I had a
(gulp) purpose again!
In a writing career that began 25 years ago, I’ve pretty much done it
all. My byline has appeared just about everywhere — from Penthouse to
The National Enquirer to National Review. I’ve been a critic at the Los
Angeles Times, the Daily News, and served as the entertainment editor at
the L.A. Free Press and the L.A. Weekly. I’ve sold books, screenplays,
and just about everything in-between.
But of all the strange and wonderful places that the writer’s path
had led me to, nothing had been more rewarding than the two-and-a-half
years I wrote a regular column for a now defunct paper called the L.A.
Reader. The column was immensely popular (though the large portion of
my, er … fan mail was negative). Ultimately, the column was picked up
by a syndicate and appeared in papers throughout the U.S. and Australia.
But all that was now a distant memory. In the interim years I’d focused
largely on writing scripts (yeah, the bucks, what else?). Somehow along
the way I lost the spark.
So on that rather bleak day preceding Farah’s phone call, had I been
able to ask the Big Guy Upstairs for the one wish … one thing
that would’ve given some meaning back to my existence … it wouldn’t
have been a six-figure book/movie deal. No way. It would’ve been to get
an offer to write a regular column.
I guess sometimes we forget that He actually listens, don’t we?
And now, if you’ll forgive me, I’m going to tell you a little bit
about the guy who, hopefully, you’re going to be reading in these
cyberpages every Friday:
Firstly, I disagree with Farah (now there’s a great way to
start off on the wrong foot) that we need more voices … more opinions.
I think it’s exactly the opposite. In this day and age — when any dufus
can put up a website and spout off to the world at large –
everybody has a forum. Everywhere you turn, somebody’s sticking
his opinion in your face. As far as the Big Boys … the Rush Limbaughs,
the Matt Drudges (though for my money, Drudge isn’t really a journalist;
he’s a gossip-monger), the Andy Rooneys … well, who the hell
are these guys? Why should we care what any of them have
You see, what you must ask yourself, in this day and age when words
are cheap, and commentary is all-too-easy to come by is: why should I
waste five minutes of my all-too-short life listening to
anybody’s opinion? If the answer is, “Well, he’s pretty funny,”
or (worse), “I like what he has to say,” you’re on the wrong track. Then
you’re just being entertained. And Lord knows, what we don’t need
is more entertainment.
The only reason to listen to anyone is because they
force you to examine your beliefs. That they make you think
(which more often than not means that you don’t like what they
have to say). Thus, I’m a firm believer that good (i.e. valuable)
commentary should make you uncomfortable.
Secondly — and perhaps even more important — you need to know where
the particular commentator is coming from — what their beliefs are
based upon. Why? Because in this time of shifting values, so many words
have become utterly meaningless.
If I tell you that I believe in God, what does that mean? So
what I’ll say instead, is that I’m someone was raised (during the
Fifties) in an orthodox Jewish family, and who accepted Jesus Christ as
his Lord and Savior in 1975 (although I didn’t truly embark upon the
path until ten years later).
And that still doesn’t tell you all that much … given the
disparity of beliefs amongst (so-called) Christians. But at least it
should give you some indication as to what my values are. (I can’t
believe it. This is the first time I’ve ever “outed” myself in a major
Thirdly, I’m not in the least bit interested in entertaining you.
Lord knows, we’ve got enough Howard Sterns, Dennis Millers and Dave
Barrys out there. Are you going to remember one word any of these guys
have said five years from now?
Not a chance.
So, the only thing I’m interested in — in the context of writing a
column — is to get underneath the surface of the things. To push aside
the verbiage and the banter. OK, I’ll say it. To get to the (ahem)
truth. Along the way, if I get a laugh out of you, make you mad,
or cause you to lose some sleep, hey — that’s great.
You should probably also know (because without a doubt my critics
will volley forth with the usual array of ad hominem attacks, in
an attempt to assassinate my character) that I’ve made my share of
enemies over the years. I’ve been tossed off the staff of three major
newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, for being “too outspoken.”
I’ve been included on a homosexual blacklist (this mostly as regards my
screenwriting), because of one particularly vehement anti-gay piece I
One entire shelf in my garage is stuffed to the gills with boxes of
hate mail (I thought they might make a fun book someday), including a
fairly interesting amalgamation of death threats — not to mention a
couple of boxes full of libel suits (none of which I’ve ever lost).
However, unlike the time of my naive youth, these days I’ve taken a
rather pro-active stance as regards my reputation, and my privacy — the
mainstay of which is an uncommonly aggressive, high-powered attorney who
has been given free reign to sue the crap out of anyone who messes with
Let’s see. What else? My journalistic role models include H.L.
Mencken, C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, S.J. Perleman, Bill Buckley, Mike
Royko, Hunter Thompson (pre-burnout), George Orwell, Kingsley Amis, Mark
Twain, Fred Allen, Groucho Marx and Oscar Levant.
I think that’s enough for now. If you want to know more about me, you
can check out my bio.
But the best
suggestion, I think, is to check out the column for the next few weeks.
If you find yourself chortling, belly-laughing, or frothing at the
mouth, those are all good signs. If you remember something I’ve said
several days later … that’s even better. However, if the words have
evaporated from your mind, I suggest you don’t bother reading me
anymore. You’ve got better things to do.
OK, folks. … I’m outta here. See you next week.