The “Save Gary Coleman” Petition!

Even though I have yet to hear back from Marcus Brauchli concerning the future of the Washington Post‘s book coverage, and not a single journalist or NBCC board member has confirmed a specific decision, I believe that the time has come to blame what nobody really knows on actor Gary Coleman.

Coleman, who once ran for California governor and is therefore thoroughly qualified to know about the Washington Post‘s internal decisions, needs to be saved. The information needs to be extracted from Coleman’s seerlike skull. And the action needs to happen now. Before Friday, January 23rd. By email. Because we all know how email gets lost and caught in spam filters. But a campaign like this sure beats sitting around and speculating. One suspects that Coleman can handle the pressure. And besides, everybody needs a scapegoat. And perhaps Coleman knows something that not even Marcus Brauchli knows. Let us always consider our strangest hunches.

Here is the plea to Gary Coleman and his editors:

“As chronic speculators and worrywarts, we write to implore you to go to Washington, DC, and kick a few asses. There are bloggers writing in Terre Haute basements who actually love what they do, and they are apparently being read and hired by some newspapers. The only solution is to beat a few people around and prevent these upstart bloggers from having the same prestige and influence of newspapers. As book critics, we have earned the right to write reviews that we believe enriches culture. Yes, it may read like the equivalent of castor oil sometimes. But it is our God-given right to pollute books section with bland and humorless drivel.

“We believe that you have important information about the newspaper business contained within your head, and that you have been rather selfish about sharing your vital data with the elitist book critics. We therefore wish to save you, so that we can save ourselves. The anemic discussion of books is vital to an elitist society. ‘James Wood defected to the New Yorker! What the fuck are we going to do?’ wrote an editor of The New Republic last year. And it is safe to say that since we do not know what the fuck we are going to do, then you will likely be in a better position to do something about it. We checked in our spines with our coats at last night’s book party.

“We call on you to preserve the Washington Post‘s books coverage, and to give it all to the dullest critics now working in America. We also call on you to ensure that not a single idiosyncratic voice or blogger will ever write for its pages again.”

(Photo: Eek! Online. For more petitions of the “Eek!” variety, go here.)


  1. You said it JR. Let’s put aside the amazing one-man cult of personality which drives this site, or the perpetual self-promotion, the pity parades, the constant bragging, the continual name-dropping proof that Mr. Champion has read Shakespeare (or Edmund Wilson or George Orwell, not to mention anyone else in the literary world who has had the misfortune of dying while this blog has been running), the slimy soto voce asides from his girlfriend, the bullying, whining and whinging, what’s so unfunny about this post is how it hangs its puffed-up integrity on the illogical assumption that a fact isn’t a fact until it is reported directly to Mr. Champion, and in this case, the facts at hand here revolve around a cultural institution which has been providing serious and sharp and enlightening book coverage to millions of people, and the alteration (or outright butchering of) which could make the lives of readers a little poorer. It also could put good journalists, who are indeed committed to facts, out of work. That Mr. Champion would rather needle — or simply throw shit — than organize and join in advocacy with his peers — who he seems hellbent on denigrating at every turn — suggests to me that the motive of this site and this post is not some inane kind of commentary, but attention. But that’s no news flash, is it? So go ahead, talk about your silly beard, drivel your thoughts on the election, mooch on publishers so desperate for attention for their authors they’ll set up author interviews with an outright moron, talk about poor old Gary Coleman, while the people who have more at stake than their bizarre egos when it comes to reading and writing about books actually face what’s happening to this country’s literary discourse. It is a continual astonishment that someone pays you to write, Mr. Champion. Come to think of it: I’d love to hear some testimonials from a few of the editors who will fess up to paying this monkey to scratch his ass in public.

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