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“Book Daze” Part One

Posted in books,Cleveland,music,reading,writing by catradhtem on the November 21st, 2014

Read any good books lately?

I hate, hate, hate conversation icebreakers like that. They’re akin to comments on the weather. Why we feel the need to engage in inane introductory exchanges in order to talk with someone is beyond me. Years ago, I would see someone every day and they would ask me, “How’s it going, Greg?” or some other empty alternative. I would always be downright honest with them: “I have a lower back cramp and a cyst on a testicle.” They stopped asking me after a while.

But I did want to talk with you about books, reading, and writing for a while, so I figured it was actually a very apt question. It’s rare that one of these insipid conversation-starters is actually relevant to what’s being discussed!

By sheer coincidence, I am writing this entry right in the middle of National Novel Writing Month–or “NaNoWriMo,” as the die-hards call it. My wife is a big NaNoWriMo–um, –er. For those who know not, it’s a month-long project in which one challenges oneself to sit down and start, write, and complete an entire novel during the course of the month of November. Many creative types not only look forward to it, they thrive in this kind of atmosphere.

This is simply something I cannot do. Not that I wouldn’t love to be able to grind out a whole, completely original book in a month. It’s more just that’s not how I work. I can’t. I don’t have that kind of drive in me.

Some of it is probably a determination problem. I usually work best on a deadline, but I love creating and writing and imagining so much that to have a clock ticking over my proverbial head all the time would seem too much like homework.

Another part of it is how I work. I write very randomly. Some people do very well writing in a linear way, going from start to finish. I jump around: write what comes in my head and then work on the context later. Sometimes it’s very hard for me to come up with a proper ending until long after I had started something.

Followers of either me or this blog know I don’t post here that often. It’s not because I don’t have thoughts to share; it’s more that I don’t have good wrap-ups (“wraps-up”?) for these thoughts. They would just come off as the disjointed ramblings of a madman, even more so than the ramblings that DO get published on here! Seriously, I have a series of files on my computer with half-baked paragraphs and rough drafts for blog entries. This current entry is saved as “blogentry10.”

This same reluctance to finish a project has also stalled a lot of my non-blog writing. I currently have at least seven major (to me) writing projects in various stages of development–things that have a real shot at getting out there and doing well once they’re published in their respective formats…or at least existing, which is good enough for me. But my brain only works on them in various chunks, and for only four of them do I have a somewhat clear idea on how to “end” them. One project, the one I’m most passionate about from a story angle, currently exists in Word files, numerous scribbled notes, and pages upon pages of sketches.

And you know, a lot of my unwillingness to finish things comes from just general fear of not being satisified with my eventual product, or the fear of it not satisfying or at least entertaining others. I try so hard to be a perfectionist, but one can only be as perfect as one’s limitations and resources. The old saying that something doesn’t get released but rather escapes has never been more true. I was completely unhappy with the way Yankoheit 27 turned out. There was so much more I wanted to do with it, both during and after production. Sadly, though, I was crippled by time, resources, money, and an extreme lack of cooperation by those who initially expressed interest. But I pressed on and was determined to finish it and get it out there, and then people still hated it. A former friend went so far as to suggest that it was the worst thing he had ever seen…but this of course was only after he kept tripping over his own dick to jam his hammy, squeaky-voiced face into it. This is that David Cross school of douchebaggery: when you don’t have enough scruples (or testicles) to turn down a project you don’t necessarily believe in, so you’ll end up bashing it in a desperate attempt to retain your tenuous “street cred” with your hipster-loser fanbase. I’m not too concerned about criticism per se, but I am concerned if I’m not delivering a satisfying product.

I bring all of this up because I did want to talk about writing; more specifically, the current state of writing in this country. The current state of books, to be exact.

What the hell is going on with books lately?

Why is there a sequel to The Shining? Why on earth is there a threat of more Harry Potter books after the entire central conflict supposedly was resolved? How did an erotic piece of Twilight fan fiction get published on its own, become a hit, and get a movie adaptation??

You see this stuff happen and it’s very hard to regard a lot of current mainstream authors as writers in the truest, old-school sense. The Stephen Kings, Tom Clancys, John Grishams, undead Michael Crichtons, et al–though producers of entertaining work at times–are “writers” in the way that White Castle and the ready-made-food counter at a gas station are considered “restaurants.” Don’t get me wrong; every October I try to sit down and read through a few classic King short stories while I’m on the toilet (usually, and appropriately, after eating White Castle), but not for a second am I kidding myself into thinking that I’m indulging in some great literature. And I’m certainly not going to line up to buy a hardcover edition of his bimonthly exercise in gruesome dismemberment, unnecessary details about a woman’s figure, oddly described moments of juvenile-flavored supernaturalism, and of course those all too random and awkward flashbacks involving some character’s sexual abuse as a child…especially when the first of umpteen paperback editions will be released a month later, just before the two-night ABC movie of the week adaptation. No, these are the fast-food equivalents to good literature, meant to do nothing more than give you a tasty, quick, filling morsel but no nutrition. I read Dracula in high school and the mood and tone still resonates with me long after I’ve forgotten any element in the derivative Carrie. I will forever remember the last line in, say, Double Indemnity before I could even begin to try to recall how The Client ended. The moon, indeed.

It’s even harder to see print die when it involves someone you respect. For Christmas one year I received a George Carlin book; never mind which one. I love Carlin. I miss his wit and genius so much. In addition to Mssr. Izzard, Yankovic, and Secondcity, George Carlin had a great deal to do with how my comedic sensibilities were shaped in my adolescence–and I was so lucky to have been able to see him live in my youth (how we weren’t stopped at the door is another question). But the book wasn’t really a book so much as just his latest stand-up act written out and broken up into chapters. I’m sure there is some value in this to some, but without the actual performance from George–the vocal inflections, the wiry mannerisms–you’re only getting a Half-Carlin. Then of course later he released the “audio” version of the book on CD, which in reality was just audio ripped from the HBO special featuring this routine. So George was able to get three profitable products–a book, a CD, and a TV special…shit, to say nothing of the tour leading up to that special!–all off the exact same written piece of material. This is a major cheat. One can easily become a “best-selling New York Times author” or “Grammy-nominated artist” simply by writing a stand-up act and knowing how to market it across different channels.

Michael Moore did the same thing, taking his entire narration screenplay for Fahrenheit 9/11 and publishing it as The Fahrenheit 9/11 Reader. Bill Maher releases books of compiled “new rules” bits from Real Time without crediting the rest of his show’s writing staff. Jerry Seinfeld’s big mid-90s hit Sein Language were just the opening and closing stand-up acts from episodes of Seinfeld, most of which were written by Larry David and not Jerry. It’s a lazy form of writing. Sure, someone is putting those words down on paper or on a file, but it wasn’t for a book. It’s a deceptive way to fatten up that “Other Books by…” page that authors love sticking into the front of their latest project.

Apart from fiction and humor, I love reading books about the arts, pop culture, and the entertainment industry–biographies, history books, etc. The “stories behind the stories” always fascinate me. It’s probably why I’m such a huge fan of substantial special features on DVDs (the commentaries, documentaries, etc.). There used to be a time when biographies and history books of the sort–especially if it’s about a specialized type of media or a unique artist–required a great amount of research, with the author often spending years tracking down otherwise forgotten persons or materials that have never been uncovered before.

For prime examples, Mark Lewisohn’s numerous Beatles biographies and Andrew Sandoval’s The Monkees: The Day-by-Day Story of the ’60s TV Pop Sensation unearth things such as musicians’ union paperwork, previously lost master recording tapes, internal memos, and other informative Holy Grails that would be off-limits to casual or even hardcore fans. Sandoval’s book, published in 2005, had started life in the early 1990s when he began conducting interviews for Rhino’s remastered versions of the Monkees catalog, including scoring in-depth chats with the then-reclusive Mike Nesmith, who not only discussed his career as a Monkee in detail for the first time in decades but who also constantly asked, “Would anyone really be interested in reading all this?” The likes of Lewisohn and Sandoval and Roger Ebert and Jerry Beck became super-experts in their particular fields of study because they strived to ask about the minutiae.

But then there’s that other kind of entertainment book. I don’t quite know how to refer to it. There might be an industry term for them, but let’s for the sake of argument call them “compiled history books.” The narrative isn’t based so much on the kind of story the author wants to tell but rather on the research materials they’re limited to. Instead of crafting a story based on their materials, they merely rewrite text from their sources (or just copy them verbatim) and hope that the context will happen naturally.

One example that angered me to no end was the 2006 book Mastering the Universe: He-Man and the Rise and Fall of a Billion-Dollar Idea, chronicling the origins and history of (what else?) the Masters of the Universe toy franchise. It was written by Roger Sweet, who’s usually credited as creating the toyline, and his nephew David Wecker. I had one of my characters make fun of the book back when it was new, but something needs to be said about how poorly it was physically written. It begins as a rather dry memoir about Sweet’s days at Mattel at the start of the 1980s, but then the majority of the text is taken over by boring product descriptions of every single toy in the Masters of the Universe collection. They aren’t even written in a “Here’s a fun character we did called Ram-Man…” kinda way, like how a toy web site might spotlight the figures. Instead we get very cold, very technical summaries of each toy, including patent numbers and industry jargon. It becomes pretty clear that Sweet and Wecker merely copied text off whatever Mattel paperwork Sweet took with him when he left the company.

Nobody else involved with the production of the toyline is interviewed, nor did Mattel grant permission to the authors to use any images of their trademarked characters (if permission was even sought). The latter isn’t too surprising, but neither writer couldn’t get anyone else on record to talk about one of the defining toy fads of the 1980s? That would involve actual work, actual research, and an actual idea of what kind of story you wanted to tell and what questions you would need to ask interview subjects. They had no interest in outlining their narrative first; Roger’s files would take care of that once they’re copied and pasted. This is the utmost laziest kind of writing, especially when you’re trying to present your project as an authoritative history of a topic.

And sure enough, when peripheral subjects happen to come up in the book–such as the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon series or the horrible 1987 feature film with Dolph Lundgren–Sweet flounders, glossing over information or outright getting major facts wrong. Why? Because that would involve research, and it would apparently be too much trouble to hop onto the IMDb to see which character Courteney Cox played in the movie. Sweet’s story also ends abruptly after the release of the movie, ignoring a follow-up He-Man toyline that came just two years later and barely acknowledging the concurrent She-Ra sub-franchise. But, isn’t this book about the “Rise and Fall of a Billion-Dollar Idea”?? Why not talk about all aspects of it, especially that later “fall”? Again, that would involve work. To further show his lack of interest in exerting minimal legwork, Sweet’s five pages discussing the animated cartoon are taken mostly from another book. Not passages, mind you, or extended quotes; just a quick “And here’s what this guy said about it in his book…” and away we go. Another author takes over. Sweet and Wecker couldn’t even bother to stick with their own story, dropping the reader off at a literary subway station with the vague promise of picking us back up after the ride’s over. A lazy work of writing has become even lazier.

Sadly, things haven’t gotten better now that writers are bypassing publishers and releasing their work on-demand. The advent of YouTube and Wikipedia has made it all the more easier for a lazy writer to craft a lazy book about a subject that may require anything but laziness. Need a fact or image? Check Wikipedia; they pride themselves on stealing from other sites and them offering everything for free without credit or compensation. Need to see an obscure television clip or hear an interview? Don’t bother tracking down your own copy when you can watch a blurry, murky version on YouTube and just cite the interview source rather than whoever actually took the time and trouble to upload it.

There are fortunately people out there doing things right; as in, the hard way. My friend Thad Komorowski spent years meticulously researching the complete and entire history of The Ren and Stimpy Show for his awesome book Sick Little Monkeys, doing his damnedest to track down and interview practically every person ever credited as working on the show, even notorious “I don’t want to talk about Ren and Stimpy” veteran Billy West. (When it was becoming clearer and clearer through interviews that series creator John Kricfalusi wasn’t exactly the guiltless and saintly victim of corporate meddling that he made himself out to be for two decades, Kricfalusi pressured a few of his closest allies into refusing to do interviews with Thad.) I am quite proud to say that I helped Thad a little on his book, providing a bunch of vintage newspaper articles on the show from back in the day, video recordings of rarer episodes and original airings, and two mid-90s audio interviews I did with crew members back when I was a journalism student. I also supplied him with my extensive airdate notes that I had researched around the same time for an episode guide I was compiling, which amounted to a few long-distance phone calls to Nickelodeon’s headquarters and pleasant conversations with a patient receptionist or two flipping through these big airdate logs and us trying to decipher which episode “#104” was, etc. And with all this and with all of his other research and notes, Thad did the right thing. He used them in the context of his narrative rather than letting it be the narrative in of itself. He actually wrote a book–gasp! In THIS day and age??

Even in well-written or well-researched books the desire to simply Google their information is becoming more and more apparent. In the 2012 Weird Al: The Book, Nathan Rabin spends a concerning amount of time describing a dumb but otherwise forgettable TV appearance Al had made in Japan back in 1984–going into it in more detail than he does Al’s career-related spats with the likes of Coolio, Eminem, and Lady Gaga. Why? Because Al had uploaded the Japanese appearance on his YouTube channel among other odds and ends. In last year’s Jim Henson: The Biography, Brian Jay Jones raided YouTube for clips relating to the final years of Henson’s life, including his last TV appearance ever on The Arsenio Hall Show–not to mention a videotaped recording of Henson’s entire memorial service. It’s very passive research.

But then we must come back to that other kind of book, the “compiled history book.” Mel Blanc is perhaps one of the most famous and notable names in the history of American animation, and though Blanc himself wrote a well-received quasi-autobiography near the end of his life called That’s Not All Folks, surely much more could be said about a man who worked almost constantly from the mid-30s right up to his 1989 death, bringing to life some of the world’s most beloved fictional characters. Ben Ohmart promises such a detailed tribute and biography in his 2012 Mel Blanc: The Man of a Thousand Voices, but instead we frustratingly get another lazy man’s narrative.

Ohmart doesn’t act so much as the credited author as he does a host, introducing writings and even complete chapters by others who are conveniently left off the front cover. Much of Mel’s biographical information is taken from extended passages of an unpublished book attempted by Mel’s son, Noel. Ohmart makes no bones about it, either; he says right at the start that he’s letting Noel take over for a lot of the text, presenting the unfocused and hyperbolic text in bold. An introduction to Mel’s career of recording novelty singles with Capitol Records is all the credited author allows before offering a mini-history and complete discography written by two actual Blanc scholars. When Ohmart first brings up the character of Foghorn Leghorn, he turns things over to voice historian Keith Scott–or rather, he copies and pastes a lengthy blog post Scott made on his web site about the origins of the loudmouthed rooster.

This kind of crap borders on contempt for the reader. “I can’t be bothered to write anything original on my own, so here is someone else to do the heavy lifting.” Why am I reading a book claiming to be “by Ben Ohmart” when entire halves of chapters are by Noel Blanc and Keith Scott, to say nothing of the Capitol discography that gets slapped right into the middle? Toward the end of the book’s narrative proper, it starts to smell like it started life as a compilation of essays, as there is even a section of testimonials and tributes by Blanc fans and other voice artists–followed by the entirety of a speech Mel himself gave at an advertising conference. That concept alone is fine, but when you present something as a book YOU’VE written, then you actually have to do some of the writing. If this book was presented as merely being “Edited by Ben Ohmart,” I don’t think it would have seemed so lame.

For a book about a man who lived to the age of 81 and worked in show business for six decades, Ohmart’s story on Mel Blanc ends rather quickly. The remaining two-thirds of the 700-plus-page tome is made up of a supposed complete Mel Blanc discography (again!), filmography, and list of known radio credits. This alone would have made a fantastic book, but then Ohmart wouldn’t have been able to stick his name on the cover–hence the haphazard biography in the front. Other writers take over for most of this back section, with Ohmart seemingly taking care of the filmography. Well, the problem with that is he simply copied and pasted Blanc’s credits as listed on the IMDb. Ohmart chooses not to credit the site as a source, because if he did than he would have had to find out who edited or contributed to Blanc’s numerous entries on the site. I personally did a lot of clean-up of Mel’s credits on the IMDb, and I definitely recognize specific, minor character names or labels that I came up with (unless Ben Ohmart also happened to have decided to refer to an off-screen voice in Super-Rabbit as an “Observer”). Again, it’s simply taking the work and research of others, with as little effort as possible, and printing your name on the cover (it should be noted that Ben Ohmart also self-published his book, meaning he was devoid of having to answer to an editor or publisher or lawyer).

I wish I could say this kind of lazy writing–or “lazy compiling,” if you will–was anything new. I had to deal with it head-on a decade ago…when I had the unfortunate misery of editing one of the worst books ever written.

I was between jobs at the time, and an opportunity came up for me to do some freelance editing for Kent State University Press. I got the job that age-old way: someone I knew worked there and asked me to help them.

Now, I usually can’t stand people who get jobs that way. Very few things are more annoying than someone who gets everything handed to them through no effort or skill of their own…all because of a relative or friend in a position of minor authority. Look at the newspaper comics and you’ll see what I mean. How many of those hacks have their jobs because they just happen to be the son or grandson or widow of the creator of whatever strip they’re working on. How does that happen? In what other modern profession, especially one tied to corporate media, can someone inherit a job from a deceased relative?? What artistic qualifications did Tom Wilson Jr. or Jeff Keane or the Walker clan have to write and draw comics besides mere blood? AND to be guaranteed wide circulation of thousands of newspapers worldwide right off the bat?? Who gets a lifetime career just handed to them, besides Kim Jong-un of course?

But I was asked to give this project a whack, partly because the subject matter was kinda sorta right up my alley. It was a book about the history of rock and roll radio in Cleveland.

I don’t know how it is in other mid-to-big cities, but in Cleveland there’s something of an industry with the sole intent on cashing in on baby boomer nostalgia. I love being a Clevelander, and we do have a pretty cool cultural legacy (something I talked a bit about in Yankoheit 27), but the city does tend to take things a bit too far. The local PBS station produces specials where yuppies wax romantic about popcorn balls and department store Christmas trees and the local Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise (seriously!). We have a local publisher called Gray and Company that shits out cheapie paperback books about the history of every suburb and neighborhood and then lets every has-been weatherman and newspaper columnist write their non-awaited memoirs. Not everything is worthy of reverence just because it’s old. Unfortunately, because we overcelebrate everything local, our city’s real cultural landmarks–birthplace of Superman, being home to late night TV pioneers like Ghoulardi and Big Chuck et al–get completely lost in the shuffle among all of the cheesy relics.

The Kent State University Press, at the time, didn’t care one whit about local nostalgia. That’s not what university presses are meant for. KSU was about publishing limited, scholarly books from a historic perspective–books that could be used for reference and educational purposes. They felt that the evolution and importance of FM rock radio in the self-proclaimed “rock and roll captiol of the world” was a worthy story to tell and preserve.

And they really thought that was the kind of book they were getting, too. The book’s author was a longtime news announcer for WMMS and fancied himself as some sort of amatuer historian on Cleveland pop culture. I was told he had pitched the book to Kent State as an academic look at the entire history of Cleveland rock radio; the innovations, the impact, the legacy, etc. At some point later on it was being scaled down to focusing primarily on the history of WMMS–still something that needed to be explored and dissected, given the station’s worldwide fame, but not exactly what the press had in mind. By the time I came along it was clear that this joker was more interested in writing a book of his own personal memoirs. This was something KSU was wholly uninterested in–who did he think they were, Gray?–and the situation became all the more frustrating when the author didn’t understand the difference between what he had originally pitched and what he had written. “Surely MY story is as important as the story of rock radio in Cleveland, right?”

The manuscript was a mess. A portion of work and a round of editing had already been done before I had gotten my hands on it, but I would spend the next several months screaming at my computer as I tried to make this mangled piece of literary driftwood into something resembling coherence. My girlfriend at the time would later tell tales of being woken up in the middle of the night by the sounds of me pacing in front of my monitor and growling in frustration.

The main problem with how it was written was, as I’ve been saying, the type of research that had been done. Instead of trying to seek out unique sources of information or going any kind of extra distance, the author claimed to have gathered what he was calling the “Cleveland Media Archive” (or something of that ilk). I’m not quite sure what he was hoping to accomplish that wasn’t already being done by, say, the Cleveland Plain Dealer or the Cleveland Public Library or any of the area universities, but the gist of it seemed to be that he was asking people to send him any articles, video tapes, promotional items, novelties, etc. related to Cleveland media. Doesn’t this sound a bit like someone trying to amass a personal collection with as little effort as possible (to say nothing of the fact that I don’t think he was offering compensation)? It would be like if during all my years of researching and compiling the “Weird Al” Yankovic Songography that I just asked fellow fans to send me actual CDs and things from their collections instead of seeking them out and acquiring them on my own. Again, it’s that passive research thing I’ve talked about.

You can probably guess where there is going. In order to tell the “history” narrative that he was using as a facade for his own oh-so-interesting backstory, he merely relied on this supposed archive of his; putting newspaper articles in chronological order and trying to glue them together with weak segues. The problem with this technique was that he was stuck with whatever he already had available to him, so certain pieces of information or minor news events go unresolved in the text. A number of times I gave him a note that asked, “So, what happened? How did this thing end?” Instead of finding that kind of information out, he would ask that we merely remove the “offending” (dangling) passage. He wasn’t even willing to trot down to a library and dig into a newspaper microfiche file. Heck, I’m willing to bet that a lot of his newspaper articles came from the daily newspapers that were delivered to his house and saved in his closet. Again, passive research. You don’t even need to put pants on for that.

I will happily share some of the goofier aspects of this process over time, but I will give you a taste of what I was up against. When we were nearing the end of finally editing this monster of a headache of a book, the realization came that we were going to need a foreword. The author himself didn’t write any kind of introduction or set-up the story for the reader (despite being asked), and it was felt that maybe someone with more reliable writing chops would offer their thoughts. That’s when I had a great idea. A fantastic idea. A super duper fucking brilliant idea.

Instead of a dry foreword written by some local schlub or friend of the author, why not go for broke and try to contact celebrities who spent their formative years in Cleveland during the late 1960s to early 1980s, the heyday of rock radio, the period of focus in this book? We could ask them to maybe just offer a few thoughts on listening to Cleveland radio during their adolescence and young adulthood–flipping the dial to WMMS or hearing Bowie or Springsteen for the first time. This way all that cheesy talking-head nostalgia that Clevelanders eat up can be done away with right at the start of the book, and be done with style!

My compatriot at the Press and I started putting together a list of names to forward to the author. The author could use his media contacts to get these people on the phone. Drew Carey would have been a lock, and we had a lead on Tom Hanks, but I wanted to think outside the box–ask Cleveland-born-and-bred celebrities that you wouldn’t normally associate with its pop culture legacy. Halle Berry ended up on our list, sure, but so did Teri Garr, Sean Young, Mark Mothersbaugh, Tim Conway, and many others. I might have to see if I have my list somewhere hidden deep in one of my computers. The list we came up with so exciting. It was going to look like those introductory blurbs that stick out like a sore thumb in front of every Stephen King paperback, but entertaining!

The author wouldn’t go for it.

My heart sank upon hearing this response. I was flabbergasted. Why on earth wouldn’t this be a great idea??

The author didn’t want to seek out all these people.

But, but, you work in the media. You have hundreds of contacts. You know people in upper management at Clear Channel that could—

The author decided it was too much work.

Too much work. If it can’t be done passively, then it can’t be done.

All was not lost, though, as the author promised that he had a great counter-proposal. He would still use the same approach, remembrances about listening to Cleveland radio, but he wouldn’t ask a bunch of famous people.

Ooo, sounds intriguing, because if it’s not going to be a bunch of famous people, then surely it will be one fam–

Carl Monday.

Carl Monday??

Yeah, Carl Monday. He was (maybe still is) a local TV news reporter, specializing in those “we’re on your side” investigation segments for whatever channel he was currently working for. Not that he didn’t seem like a nice guy, but he wasn’t exactly what we had in mind; some older-middle-aged white-haired guy in a suit with a mustache.

CARL MONDAY?!?

Yeah, we’ve gone from Drew Carey and Tom Hanks to Carl Monday.

The author felt he was easier to get.

I don’t know how we were able to, but the idea was promptly vetoed. This wasn’t the first time this phrase was conveyed to the author, but the response was clear, “You’re going to have to try harder.”

He eventually came back to us with Tom Batiuk, the local comic artist best known as the creator of Funky Winkerbean and Crankshaft. That suggestion was okayed, mostly out of desperation and fear that the book would miss a deadline or two. Batiuk and the author were friends of sorts, so again this just goes back to the lack of necessary effort on the author’s part.

Not to say that Tom Batiuk was a poor choice per se, as he was definitely of the age that we were envisioning, and he still had a decent amount of wit in his writing. This was just before Funky Winkerbean devolved into constant misery, supernatural treacle, and poorly drawn characters smirking as they make unintentionally horrible puns. But, I don’t even think Batiuk was on our dream list because he just seemed a bit too obvious. It was one step above getting a local deejay to write it.

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever read Batiuk’s forward, as that part of the project was out of my hands. Besides, when it came to this God awful book, I had bigger fish to fry, some more of which I’ll share one day.

In the meantime, I guess I should mention that ten years later, the same author claims to be working on a follow-up to his shitty book, one all about Cleveland’s television history. The publisher: Gray.

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