We can do this with nearly everyone, and I will, if I have to, until this system changes.
You probably are familiar with the name The Saturday Evening Post. It's where someone like F. Scott Fitzgerald would publish some of his short stories. What you're likely not aware of is that The Saturday Evening Post still exists. It doesn't really exist. It exists in this rather ghoulish way. It's very Weekend at Bernie's, in that the name of this dead venue with a dead past has been propped up and toted around. As I said, ghoulish.
The same thing has happened with The Strand. The Strand isn't the venue that published the Sherlock Holmes stories by Conan Doyle, but rather a kind of dodgy operation run by a guy named Andrew Gulli. I've heard many reports of confused subscribers--thinking it was something else--being parted from their money, issues not coming, horrible to nonexistent customer service.
Gulli is an unbalanced charlatan. He used to write me often in the past trying to coerce me to help him get on NPR. His thing is to find "lost" stories by people like Steinbeck and Fitzgerald--an earlier draft will do, that's sitting in a library--as if he's this literary detective. I would send him work, and this guy would just about make himself climax by the sheer dickishness--he might as well told me his middle name was Envy--of his responses. But he wanted that NPR.
Anyway, the reheated dead guy thing is gross. The Saturday Evening Post is the same way. They hardly pay at all, and for me to go there, considering that they hardly pay, and whom they publish--in terms of what they've done; or haven't done--is as big-time slumming it for me as it gets. We're talking fifty bucks or whatever, and the other contributors aren't even writers, but rather, a drawbridge operator.
That's real. I'm not exaggerating. But sometimes I will write someone at a place like this, because, as I said last night, I know exactly how it will go. There is no one like me trying to write for the Saturday Evening Post. Even if there was anyone like me, none of those people would try. It's unheard of. It's shocking that I'm in the inbox. I'll send something on occasion to a person I send it to because, as I said, I know how it will go, and the bigotry and envy in publishing extends to every single part of it. I'm showing that in this journal. It is so easy to prove. People need to know, so that there can be change.
I also have a thousand available works. And the situation is what it is right now with these bigots, that unfortunately I can use the fifty bucks. Terrible, right? But that's the kind of person you're dealing with. The evil never lets up. So, knowing what would happen--and it's exactly what did happen--I sent an excellent essay on Peanuts and Charles Schulz--a subject I've written memorably on in op-eds and features--as well as an awesome story--a very surprising story--called "My Grandfather's Ankle."
The Saturday Evening Post wants the stories to be "clean." No swearing, no sexual content. I have every kind of story. I sent what was completely suitable for their requirements, and a work which blows their fiction away.
Let me give you an idea of who they publish. I don't need to put these names in--these people didn't do anything. I'll just show you the bios of two recent contributors, okay?
Blank has also been a cab driver, disc jockey, food shelf manager, and is now a tour guide and drawbridge operator in his hometown of Duluth, Minnesota. He was a finalist in the Loft Literary Center’s Mentor Series competition, and is about to market his third novel, Joe Christ.
Blank's short fiction has appeared in The Quarterly, Crab Creek Review, and Cease Cows and also received an honorable mention in Glimmer Train. When not at work on a collection of stories, he makes his way as a private investigator.
Blank has lived in many places, but is usually surrounded by more deer than people. His work explores drama, music, and pop culture with wit and no small amount of sympathy for the losers and also-rans. He’s drawn to protagonists who say the wrong thing, actively resist their character arc, and possibly save the day by accident.
Blank is a software engineer, classical pianist, and writer. His work has appeared in After Dinner Conversation (Pushcart Prize nominee), the Eunoia Review, the Literary Hatchet, the Dillydoun Review, and others.
Remember on Sesame Street that segment, "Which is not like the others?" You want to put me in there? Shall we play that game? Which is not like the others?
They also seem to have a number of stories about cats, for some reason, by old white men. I feel like that's probably not very riveting. The stories are exactly what you'd expect. Total blah.
I realized that if I wrote this place, someone was bound to get themselves off in being as bigoted as they could be, as quickly as they could be.
The very subject head of the email I send gives a lot away about what I've done. I usually don't include those subject heads in these entries, but it will mention a few venues where my work has ran. And that is enough to do it. Often they will know me and already hate me because of what I do and who I am. Not because of anything I've done wrong, or done to them.
That brings us to provable bigot, Andy Hollandbeck. He gets this note from me in December (and keep that month in mind--December to now is nothing in terms of lead time; you wouldn't say you're not taking something--unless you were an op-ed editor--because you were full through February):
How are you? Had a couple of cool pieces for you--one nonfiction, the other fiction--if you''re up for a look. My work has appeared just about everywhere, and and I'm the author of eight books to date. The nonfiction piece is about the Peanuts feature film, No Dogs Allowed and its surprising themes of the Civil Rights Movement and adoption, and the short story is called "My Great Grandfather's Ankle" and is a riff on those pieces we used to write in school about our hero, with surprising narrative turns.
And then he sends me this, seconds after opening that email. By which I mean, seconds. He looked at nothing.
Dear Mr. Fleming:
We’re going to pass on both of these, but thank you for sharing them with us.
Sincerely, The Saturday Evening Post Editors
Think about that level of bigotry. Of hate. Of envy. At your shitty place. That reheats a corpse. And publishes cat stories by draw bridge operators. (I would find a story about a modern draw bridge operator potentially interesting, though.) Imagine being that warped. That full of animus. That bad at your job when something unlike anything else has fallen to you. That toxic. That bad an editor. That bad a person. Another rule of thumb: people who are one person who sign off like they're multiple people representing "an important venue"--right--are always assholes. Paula Deitz at Hudson Review is this way. I used to laugh, thinking, "It's just you, lady. A sad, broken old fool just hooking up other sad, broken old fools." How can you take people like this seriously? I should start signing off these entries with "The Staff of the Many Moments More Journal." But I wouldn't, because I'm not a pompous asshole.
You mean the two pieces that you clearly didn't even look at because I know when the email was opened. I also know what you publish and why it goes in. I document discrimination and bigotry in the industry on my blog. Would you care to comment before I do a post about what obviously happened here?
Now watch this. These people are always cooked at this point. Usually, they run and hide--because what can you say when it's all true?--but on occasion they'l write back and try to smooth things over in the least convincing fashion that makes things so much worse--I have something on the mega-bigoted writer J. Robert Lennon coming soon, which ties in nicely with our friends at American Short Fiction, whom this incredibly dumb guy reached out to to say that I was on to all of them--and that goes up on here. Arrogance is so ingrained in these people--and a prevailing, always-in-evidence level of delusion--that you'll get a big whiff of that, too. Here is Hollandbeck's response:
I admit to being behind on reviewing submissions and in a bit of a hurry to get through them. I remember yours, though:
I rejected the fiction unread because we don’t need any more fiction right now: We’ve filled our New Fiction Friday slots through the first week of February.
The nonfiction I rejected unread because we already have two people (one on staff and one with an extended contract) who regularly write about movies — Bill Newcott and Troy Brownfield. There are plenty of areas we need independent writers for, but movies is not one of them.
However, if your reaction to a rejection letter is allegations and threats, we probably won’t be interested in working with you in the future.
That's amusing, right? See the hubris? That the likes of me would want to do your menial little writings tasks and after you shat on me and discriminated against me. Patiently waiting around for some crumbs at The Saturday Evening Post to fall from the table. And the even greater level of arrogance and delusion that after you've done me like this, as the bigot you are, that I'm still hopeful you'll let me write for you. Pretty close to free. Not that it would ever come to that.
Are you serious? Are you insane? Honest and fair question: Do you have to be insane to think that way? Does this person really think that way? Could anyone be this stupid? I honestly wonder. Because that is some formidable stupidity. Is it panic? Defense mechanism?
And you see how they try to wrestle back the narrative after they've been so plainly busted? You were caught, man. You knew what you were doing. I found out. We both know what you were doing. You can try and be formal, you can try to put it on me--like I had some unreasonable "reaction"--and make me the villain of the piece. But he's so dumb. See how he uses the phrase rejection letter? What he's trying to do there is make this democratic, the way of things, just how it works in this writing life. Part of the deal. But rejection letter also suggests that, you know, the work was actually read. So it doesn't work. The attempted walk-back for purposes of covering one's rear end in case people do see what happened, never works.
Part of the reason is because it's so poorly done. And also because guilty is guilty. Caught is caught. This isn't some hothead going after you. This isn't some guy who picks fights. This isn't a guy looking for confrontation. This isn't a guy who doesn't go many years deep with you and your venue, in all probability. I fly off no handles. I let the evidence stack. I give you the rope. You do the hanging. Not me. I'm just not keeping it a secret for you. I'm not some altar boy you molested who made a promise not to tell and feels he has to honor it. I'm showing you for what you are.
As for these are the two guys who write about film--who cares? They can't carry my proverbial jock as a writer. Go ahead. Do the this is how they write thing and this is Fleming writing. Always the same, right? No contest. It's 1995 Michael Jordan going against school children, but with a bigger gap. Shouldn't this be a level playing field? Shouldn't we be putting the best work forward? If someone is far better, shouldn't they have the space? If you suck, shouldn't you be replaced?
Ah, but not in the old sinecure!
Here is some of the scintillating work from Hollandbeck himself. I feel like you probably don't think that's awesome.
You see how I always am with these people? See how friendly and professional I always am? The pleasantness of the approach? It's not me doing anything to anyone. It never is.
You know what he wanted, right? He wanted me to grovel, to keep trying like I was some mendicant who'd take anything from him, get one of those crumbs, as he got himself off repeatedly on screwing with me. Because that's how these people try to get you down to their level. At every level of publishing. Even the reheated corpse level.