If I Did It

1. I’m tired of hearing about “if O. J. did it”. I want to consider how the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman would have gone down if *I* did it.

First of all: forget the knife. I don’t want to get blood all over the SUV and the gloves, do I? No, because, unlike certain running backs who will remain nameless, I am not the impulsive type, and if I commit this double murder I don’t plan to get caught and make a public spectable of myself driving down the highway on national TV. I’m a litblogger, man! I would commit these murders with subtlety.

First step: go to Starbucks, pull out the Moleskine, ponder the options. I would draw some diagrams, map out the approach and the exit, and make a list of potential weapons. Poison? Great in theory, but how am I going to get two people who are already terrified of me to eat or drink it? Poison is out. A car accident? Way too likely to go wrong or draw attention. A car bomb? Sure, if I knew how to make one, but I don’t. Hmm … a baseball bat?

Yes, a baseball bat. The mixed metaphor (football, baseball) disturbs me, but I’ll get over that, because this is the right choice. It’s easy and it’s quick. Two swings, two loud “whap”‘s, two dead bodies. Some DNA gets splashed around, sure, but not much.

I go ahead and commit my “hypothetical” murders (home run, triple, done), wipe the bat handle, and then I’m off on the plane to Chicago. My gloves are still so damn clean I can re-gift them to Dan Marino and nobody will be the wiser. That was so easy, I may even do it again sometime.

If I did it, I would never have gotten caught. And if Regan Books had asked me to write “If I Did It”, they would have gotten a better book than the one O. J. wrote (jeez, we all already know how O. J. did it), and they would have avoided a nasty ethical dilemma as well.

Their loss, not mine.

2. Enough of this nonsense. Big congratulations to Richard Powers, who just won the National Book Award for fiction (and here are two good interviews with the author of Echo Maker) and to Nathaniel Mackey, winner of the National Book Award for poetry. Well deserved, both.

6 Responses

  1. What Ethical DilemmaThere
    What Ethical Dilemma

    There will be a lot of people in publishing and Other Pulpits who will decry this book.

    Including me.

    I would be willing to bet that even CNN will be incredulous at the amazing indifference at News Corp. This is where Judith Regan, Rupert Murdoch, Jane Friedman, and OJ Simpson all converge.

    Usually this is the group (with the refreshing exception of Rupert) who would be above doing anything for money. So crass. So beneath them.

    But not this time.

    There is a tragedy here. Please allow me to address that because no one in publishing is going to say what I am going to say.

    I swear to you I am not being disingenuous. I am not being sarcastic. I am dead serious.

    Rupert Murdoch is who he is. He doesn’t pretend to be anything other than the animal he is. He is honest about that.

    Friedman is a publisher and OJ is OJ. The metaphor of Jane Friedman and OJ Simpson in bed together is repulsive but most of publishing is that. Why not them.

    The tragedy is Judith Regan.

    The cynacism behind this book is Regan at her bitter best. It’s tragic. Why. Because Judith Regan is probably the most talented publisher in the business.

    She has made all of these people a ton of money.

    The number of New York publishing types this woman has pissed off (she has a serious temper) are legion. Having dealt with her one-on-one, I can understand a lot of the rage people have about Judith Regan and the books she publishes and the books she doesn’t or won’t publish.

    Excuse me for saying this, but there’s an artistic temperment going on here. It takes one to know one. He said.

    This role she has assumed as the Evil Witch of publishing disguises what I honestly think is hurt with what is perceived as arrogance.

    I’m not buying the arrogance. Now, I’m arrogant. What Judith Regan is, is lost.

    That’s a tragedy because publishing could have really used her talent. Instead, Rupert Murdoch uses and abuses her talent, and in that process we all lose.

    But she has especially lost. She would have you believe that she doesn’t care what us mortals might think. Mortalland does not concern her.

    I don’t believe that. Judith Regan cares and cares deeply.

    Dealing with her is like dealing with someone who pushes bitterness from every pore. Like steam.

    We have a lot in common and could never work together. I regret that. Rocky Anderson who is the mayor of Salt Lake City, a place kind enough to have honored me with a City-Wide read, tried putting us together — they’re friends — but the sparks flew and there were many little fires set here and there.

    I regret having been “Nasdijj” with either one of them. My own abuse of trust got confronted simply by my looking at Judith Regan and thinking: what have I done. Am I, too, this cynical; the answer was yes.

    I keep hoping I can change some of that by simply being who I am and letting the part of Tim who wanted to succeed at publishing (not unlike Judith Regan) — go.

    Water. Bridges. A sunami here and there.

    I am not allowed anywhere near Salt Lake City.

    Tear all of that nonsense away and you’ve still got a talented publisher (so what if she’s difficult) who is floundering in a sea of money most of which goes to Ruppert Murdoch.

    Not OJ.

    Not Jane (she’s an employee as are most publishers).

    Not you.

    Not me.

    Rupert Murdoch (trust me) sits behind his desk and counts out his gold coins one coin at a time.

    It’s easy to throw mud at all of these people. I have.

    But I have this voice. And it’s a writer’s voice. And it lives somewhere inside who I am and I do listen to it.

    It tells me quite clearly that Judith Regan is lost. Somewhere between New York and Los Angeles lost is lost.

    What I see in Judith Regan’s eyes is an extraordinary sadness. It is inescapable.

    Anyone who is as talented as she is and who has sold herself and that talent into slavery has to be lost in a sadness I think would be almost impossible for anyone who hasn’t been there to fathom.

    OJ is not even the point. The book will come and go. Judith Regan will come and go. Rupert Murdoch is not forever.

    The tragedy is that nothing ever changes. It is the tragedy of talent. It is publishing in a tea cup. The best and the brightest are often the most cynical, the most bitter, and more lost than a dog in the pound on his way to euthanasia.

    It could all be trivial. Rupert Murdoch is many things but trivial is not one of them.

    I used to think that things would get better when all of this cast of characters was finally dead (note they never retire).

    But that was before I knew who was waiting in the wings to replace them.

    Yes. There are serious writers and serious people and serious books in publishing.

    That does not negate the fact that the loss of HarperCollins as anything more than a cash cow of popular culture is a loss for everyone.

    Nothing changes. Murder is the least of it.

  2. ethical or tasteless
    ethical or tasteless dilemma?

    The Dalai Lama gave this guideline for ethics: if you can’t help people, at least don’t hurt them. Publishing the OJ book shows a lack of sensititivity and is in poor taste and would definitely violate the above guideline. One could argue that the book is no worse than the sensationlization of the story, e.g., the day after the murders of OJ’s ex-wife and lover, every copy of USA Today sold in Bryan, Texas. An even bigger ethical dilemma is the media’s lack of courage to just say no to celebrity journalism and cover the socio-economic issues that perpetuate the status quo of the American underclass.

  3. Yeah … and in a New York
    Yeah … and in a New York Times interview this morning Judith Regan defends her publishing of the book by claiming she is representing the victims by cajoling Simpson into a “confession”. Since the whole book’s structure is defined by it being a non-confession, this is really disingenuous. Apparently Regan was once a victim of spousal abuse herself, she says, and that’s why she was drawn to this project. Maybe next she’ll tell us she’s going into rehab — I thought that was the standard excuse of the day.

  4. Baseball Bat???Levi, you
    Baseball Bat???

    Levi, you couldn’t murder someone if your royalties depended on it. Spiders and snakes, man!

    Learn from the master in this article where Lynn Snowden interviews William S. Burroughs and David Cronenberg:

    “Brown recluse spider!” says Burroughs as we continue our stroll through the yard. “There are cases of people who have these huge lesions down to the bone. I’d much rather be bitten by a black widow. They make you desperately sick, but at least it’s not deadly for a healthy adult.”

    As long as we’re on the subject, I ask them to choose the best method of death in the animal kingdom.

    “Well, you’d want it to be quick,” says Cronenberg, “and as painless as possible. So, what, a Gaboon viper?”

    “I wouldn’t choose a viper at all,” says Burroughs. “Any of the vipers are apt to be painful, they have both hemo- and neurotoxins. Cobras have neurotoxins.”

    “Cobras are not very good at getting it into your bloodstream,” he says. “They don’t have injector fangs.”

  5. Bill, O. J. was in a jealous
    Bill, O. J. was in a jealous rage in the middle of Brentwood, a posh community near Beverly Hills. When one is in a jealous rage, one does not typically have time to jaunt down to South American jungles. Where do you propose O. J. would have picked up a brown recluse spider or Gaboon viper at the heat of the moment? The La Brea Tar Pits gift shop, perhaps?

    I could too murder someone if my royalties depended on it, and your plan wouldn’t even work. Also remember that O. J. wanted to kill *two* people, which is a lot of work for a brown recluse spider or a Gaboon viper.

    A baseball bat remains the weapon of choice. *IF* I did it.

  6. Then how do you explain that
    Then how do you explain that rustling noise inside the sealed manila envelope?

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