Wednesday, November 16, 2011


“The fastest way to become famous is to throw a brick at someone famous,” the noted 20th-century columnist, Walter Winchell, said and lived up to, stirring up many a controversy. Another approach is to throw bouquets, as one million-book-selling novelist explained in his book on his own trek toward fame and fortune.

Plunder or pander, two options. A New York theater critic today told radio show host Don Imus how he parlayed a history B.A. degree from Columbia University and a minor writing gig into a successful theater critic career by taking on Frank Rich, then king of the hill, ogre of the orchard, in the Big Apple. Fine, if his differences with Rich were sincere. Not fine, if those differences were merely fabricated to advance his own career.

The aforementioned million-ebook-selling novelist, “enovelist” more precisely, recommended exchanging favorable reviews on with others of his ilk. When I see favorable blurbs from other writers on book covers, I am going to be more skeptical from now on. “Go along to get along” or “scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours” evidently extends beyond the political sphere, where insincerity is too often the rule rather than the exception.

The Occupy Wall Streeters and allied protestors have gained publicity and adherents by their choice of targets to criticize, and much of the country has decided they are to be applauded or derided for their choice and their activities. While some, perhaps most, in the occupying crowds are expressing sincerely held feelings, occasionally well founded opinions, others no doubt have joined up for the fun or the fame. Targeting those richer than oneself is envy or ignorance if the wealth is deserved, a pursuit of justice if the wealth is undeserved. How are we to know?

To savage or to suck up, that is the question. Either or neither can be appropriate, depending on your motives…and your information.

Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D., is a freelance writer and a retired physicist, author of Ting and I: A Memoir of Love, Courage, and Devotion., available thorugh,, and .His web site is, email address

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