October 15th, 2009

You too could write a celebrity biography (or ghost an autobiography)

Time's Joel Stein writes: "When I heard that Sarah Palin wrote her upcoming 400-page autobiography, Going Rogue: An American Life, in four months, I thought, What took her so long? To prove that introspection doesn't need to be time-consuming, I decided to try to write my memoir in one day. Since Palin had a ghostwriter, I figured it was only fair that I have help too, so I called Neil Strauss, who co-wrote the best-selling memoirs of Marilyn Manson, Mötley Crüe, Dave Navarro and Jenna Jameson. Strauss and fellow ghostwriter Anthony Bozza run an imprint called Igniter, which — after training people to write other people's autobiographies — is cranking out the stories of model Amber Smith, gangster Johnny Fratto and Bozo the Clown."

Together, they thought up an outline for his life, but I think it would work for nearly any celeb tell all book:
"1) "Childhood Trauma," 2) "Turning Point That Changed My Life," 3) "Rise Against the Odds," 4) "Celebrity Name-Dropping," 5) "Hitting Rock Bottom" and 6) "Redemption and Recovery.""

Read his entire article here. There's also a link to the biography they wrote in an afternoon, and it's pretty funny.



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Awkward conversations

At Wordstock on Sunday I talked about Shock Point and the overseas bootcamps that inspired it. I also talked about some US bootcamps, like the one in Pennsylvania where two judges have admitted they got kickbacks for sentencing kids for doing things as minor as putting up a spoof Myspace site for their school's principal.

I also talked about Aaron Bacon, whose dad testified to Congress after his son's death. "His son had spent 14 of 20 days "without any food whatsoever" while having to hike 8-12 miles a day. When he was given food, it consisted of "undercooked lentils, lizards, scorpions, trail mix and a celebrated canned peach on the 13th day".

Aaron died from an untreated perforated ulcer. He had been beaten "from the top of his head to the tip of his toes" during his month at the camp, according to his father. "His mother and I will never escape our decision to send our gifted 16-year-old son to his death."

After my talk, a young woman came up to me, visibly trembling. She had worked in a wilderness bootcamp, and was sure they had saved many lives. To add insult to injury, she had not gotten much money for this work - and now I was dissing it.

I'm sure there are some good programs. I thanked her for reminding me of that, and told her I would mention that when I gave future talks.

Still, the things I talked about are true,and the book I wrote is based on truth. Where do you draw the line?
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My other awkward conversation was today at a luncheon honoring law enforcement personnel. The women ahead of me in line said she was there because her husband was getting an award.

I said "Congratulations." But it turned out it was posthumous. He and a bomb tech died when they tried to disable a bomb this stupid father-son team left at a bank. The other person near the bomb lost his leg. He was there at the meeting, too, walking on crutches on his artificial leg. There was a standing ovation for both men, but it's certainly not enough for the sacrifices they made all because some idiots decided that building a bomb was a great way to make money.




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