TheLastHarbaugh

September 2nd, 2011 at 3:51 AM ^

To me, Mitch Albom is like the motel psychic, turned self-proclaimed medium.

There was a time when he was self aware. He knew what he was doing, and he was very good at it; but after hitting on one too many cold reads, or receiving effusive praise from one too many crying widows, he began to believe he actually was psychic. His subsequent successes only fueled the delusion, and now it has become old hat for Mitch.

A woman walks in wearing a bright print dress, sits down, and before she can even speak he says, "You've lost your husband last week." She bursts into tears.

Those who are onto his game keep on driving, but there are always suckers, and suckers always seem to have $2, along with a propensity to end up finding shitty motels.

There was a time when Mitch Albom was a conscious writer.

There was a time when Orson Welles was a motel psychic.

Only one chose to cease working in shitty motels.

Section 1

September 1st, 2011 at 5:45 PM ^

...for having been caught in the act of quite literally "mailing in" one of his columns, this one was figuratively "mailed in."

You've got to hand it to Albom; he knows what his audience wants, and he spoons it up with a kind of mechanical precision and regularity.

It's funny; tomorrow will mark what I think is the two-year anniversary of the day that Albom's radio program featured Brian Cook, and then a few minutes later, me, as interview subjects on The Jihad.  That was the infamous occasion on which Albom asked Brian what his full time job was, when he wasn't blogging.  And then he asked Brian how a blog makes any money.  It was vintage Albom.

Anyway, Albom and his co-hosts were very polite to Brian, and Brian was excrutiatingly polite and pleasant with them.  Which makes me all the more glad that I was hot-headed with Albom.  Predictably, Albom was totally defensive about the Freep.  But I am not so sure, but that Albom now has some real questions about The Jihad.  Albom talks to a lot of people, and he's no dummy.  He works at the same radio station as Frank Beckmann, and it defies comprehension to think that Frank Beckmann hasn't taken Albom aside and told him what a bunch of bullshit the Freep published under the Rosenberg-Snyder byline.  I do think that Albom (unlike Sharp, who was no more involved in the orginal Jihad than was Albom) is more than happy to keep his distance from the Rosenberg shit. 

Section 1

September 1st, 2011 at 9:06 PM ^

I'm trying to remember; I think Albom's broadcast partner said something like, "How long did we have that guy on?"  It was interesting.  Funny thing is I was on my way in the car to the Tigers game that night, and so I was a little distracted.  I think it was about 10 minutes, which is a long time on talk radio.

Fuzzy Dunlop

September 2nd, 2011 at 7:43 AM ^

Seriously? You describe calling into a radio show as being an "interview subject"? I can't even tell if you're being intentionally dishonest or just incredibly hubristic. Either way, it's ironic (but not surprising) that our resident scold on journalistic ethics would type something so misleading.

Congratulations on your two year anniversary of calling into a radio show.

smotheringD

September 1st, 2011 at 5:58 PM ^

It sounds like such a fairy tale.

Like when he wouldn't answer Dave Brandon's call til his wife was by his side.

How he wouldn't wear red because of 'Ohio'.

He would have walked to Michigan from California.

He gets Mattison for a DC.

He gets Denard for a QB.

He refuses to make a negative comment about RR, JT, Ohio...

He seems to genuinely cares for the kids.  It's all about them.

And it's all about Michigan...the tradition.

The countdown clocks, Team 132, we honor those who have gone before, the Victors blaring from his office for a solid hour every day.

Toughness, not a gimmick, not basketball on grass.

"Let's line up 'cause I'm about to punch you in the mouth."

All he's got to do now is win.

And I believe he's going to.

Because everything he can control, he's doing the right way.  And what's out of his control, seems to be falling into place.

Everyone Murders

September 1st, 2011 at 6:15 PM ^

This comment is one of the best I've ever seen on this blog.  I am actually unable to tell whether smotheringD (A) has put together a brilliant parody of the Albom article, (B) excerpted choice bits of the Albom article with a special emphasis on the Albom faux-profound one-sentence paragraph, or (C) simply cut-and-pasted the entire Albom article.

And I don't want to know, because it really doesn't matter.  A, B, or C aside, Albom sucks with a force generally only associated black holes.

 

 

Cope

September 1st, 2011 at 6:04 PM ^

Still, he's one of my favorite, and one of the most talented, writers. He does what I think the exact job of a writer is: he writes ordinary life into beautiful stories.

AAB

September 1st, 2011 at 6:09 PM ^

into hackneyed, maudlin pablum.  He's later-period Rick Reilly (as opposed to awesome SI feature writer Rick Reilly) without even having Reilly's (terrible) sense of humor.  

If Bill Plaschke didn't exist, Albom would be the worst sportswriter in America.  

PurpleStuff

September 1st, 2011 at 6:15 PM ^

I once heard Plaschke on the radio in LA say that Little League baseball is one of the worst things you can do for your kids because they have to stand at the plate by themselves and will feel bad if/when they strike out.

Mitch Albom just exploits dying people to make loads of cash from those sad souls who most fear death.  I guess that is better.

Cope

September 1st, 2011 at 6:30 PM ^

I suppose you could call his writing weepy or sentimental. I consider that the negative perspective of reality. Nostalgia and wit are the essence of a great writer. A reporter's business is facts, not a writer's. It is the weepy, emotional, the wit, the sparkle, what you have dubbed maudlin. He crafts words that make people laugh and cry. What better writing is there than that?

WolvinLA2

September 1st, 2011 at 6:49 PM ^

No offense Cope, but it's a blog so I'm not worries about respect.  I didn't mean to hurt your feelings, you clearly have very strong feeling about Mitch Albom, so I'll let you be.  I just don't think he's any good, and I don't seem to be alone.

Cope

September 1st, 2011 at 6:46 PM ^

I'll add, a great writer can find a story where there is none. That kind of writing isn't popular with this site, which deals in analysis, in charts, and in data. I suppose that's more practical, possibly more useful for sports writers. But outside of that circle and that purpose, those who paint pictures with words, those who bring them to life and make them dance are the valuable writers. They inspire people.
Give me Mitch Albom over any other writer for a halftime team speech at a Michigan football game, and I'll give you guys who would run through fire.

AAB

September 1st, 2011 at 6:46 PM ^

make people cry.  Being able to tug at the heartstrings is a skill, but it's not a very good determination of whether someone is a great writer.  If it is, then there's no distinction between the first 15 minutes of "Up" and the last 15 minutes of "the Notebook", and that's bullshit. 

Albom's writing is basically the perfect epitome of the Kundera quote about kitsch: "Kitsch causes two tears to flow in quick succession. The first tear says: How nice to see children running on the grass! The second tear says: How nice to be moved, together with all mankind, by children running on the grass!"  

Albom's entire shtick is to say "look how wonderful it is that we're moved by this thing that is going on."  He draws emotions out of people by being manipulative.  He doesn't earn his tears or laughs honestly, but instead gets them through an incredibly calculated attempt to push the right buttons.  The fact that he's won numerous awards and made millions of dollars out of that is appalling.  

Cope

September 1st, 2011 at 6:56 PM ^

that all comes down to making life something people want to believe in. You and the others may not like it. I suppose he could be referred to as the romantic comedy screenwriter of sports. There's something sappy and simple about it. But he knows how to turn a phrase. He knows how to structure a story or article. He may not be Mozart, but he's, at the very least, incredibly gifted at making that violin sing. And I give him credit for that.

Cope

September 1st, 2011 at 7:17 PM ^

he's a crier and that's the view from which he sees the world. Romanticizing brings out the world's beauty. After all, what fantasy holds much of real life, however, few of us cease to fantasize. You could be right, though; it could be calculation and manipulation. I'm curious about the list. If you want to offer a few, I'd check them out sometime.

Don

September 1st, 2011 at 9:27 PM ^

Funny, my Great Books course in '71 at UM didn't give me that impression. In fact, I'm pretty sure that nostalgia has as much of a relationship to great writing as Kim Kardashian does to great beauty.

NoMoPincherBug

September 1st, 2011 at 6:45 PM ^

Good friend of mine found himself alone in an elevator with Mitch Albom a couple years back.  Being a sports fan, my friend says to Mitch "Hi, you are Mitch Albom... right?"  Albom says nothing just stares straight ahead.... My friend is taken back by this unfriendliness and decides to try again "Well I just wanted to tell you that Ive always enjoyed your columns and have read your books...their great"...  Albom says nothing, does not acknowledge my friend, looks straight ahead and exits straight out when the elevator opens. 

Now maybe Mitch was having a bad day, but that 'tude is kinda weird to say the least when someone is just being friendly to you.

Rumsey87

September 1st, 2011 at 8:08 PM ^

Albom wrote a book on the Fab Five but completely missed the real story.  Wasn't that where Webber first whined about not having enough money to buy a Michigan jersey with his name on it.  I guess he must've spent the quarter million from Eddie Martin on other things.

alwaystrueblue

September 1st, 2011 at 8:54 PM ^

A-Train.  I tried to read it and did not even get half way through it. 

Pure tear jerking crap. It was wrote to appeal to a certain segment that laps that stuff up. 

Think...the Oprah crowd.

 

( No..i did not buy the book and thus help to en-rich him. My sister had it at her house and i picked it up one day out of boredom. No way i spend a dime on anything written by Albom. By the way...my sister said she could not finish it either) 

harmon98

September 1st, 2011 at 9:17 PM ^

Mitch is a shrewd capitalist. 

He knows what sells. 

I'd bet his parents/aunts/uncles/friends parents/grandparents/etc subscribed to Readers Digest and he realized eighth grade schmaltzy writing sells. 

He's been wildly successful following this recipe.

In the end, Bob's General Store was saved from the bank.

And the townsfolk lined the streets, held hands, waved the flag...and sang.  And rejoiced. 

smotheringD

September 1st, 2011 at 11:28 PM ^

It was at a wedding, 20 years ago anyway.  He was pretty candid about admitting that his column was a regurgitated template that he was growing bored producing.  He was actively searching for other ways to be challenged and find fulfillment.  I think he still writes his column the way he does because it's popular, he gets paid very well to do it and it gives him time and a platform from which he can pursue his other vocational interests.

It doesn't surprise me that a high percentage of posters here are repulsed by his sentimentalism.  But if you look at a more representative cross section of American culture, you're going to find a large demographic that eats it up.

Different strokes...