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Everything wrong with publishing: Michael Larabee of The Washington Post

Tuesday 12/28/21

We've seen how vile The Washington Post is. Remember Stephanie Merry?

Michael Larabee is as bad as anyone there. For years he's done the same thing with me. I send him a piece, which he does not read. He pretends he does. But as soon as he opens the email, he sends me the same boilerplate note. He thinks I don't know this. It can be two days after I sent him something, and within five seconds of seeing the email is from me, he writes, lies that he's read it, and turns it down. It's discrimination. No one, for a millionth of a second, thinks--because it's laughable--that I'm not up to par as an opinion writer for the Post. The pieces are twaddle. They try to score cheap Woke points, and the prose is, at its best, pedestrian.

In January of this year, I came up with an idea for the 75th anniversary of It's a Wonderful Life, that tied in to Donna Reed, whose centennial was this year. No one knows this. I knew it. She plays Mary Bailey in the film, and my piece--which I wrote in the summer, and offered many months ago to Larabee--identifies her as the hero of the film, but goes much further, talking about why this matters here at the end of 2021.

On Christmas morning, I saw a piece about this very idea--Mary Bailey being the hero--trending on Facebook news, from The Washington Post. Not only does Larabee discriminate against me--he stole from me and then Monica Hesse--who looks exactly like you'd think she looks, has exactly the background you'd expect her to have, and possesses not a strand of talent in her being--went and did her puffery.

The piece is, as you can see, terrible. Want to compare it with mine? Just a minute. She actually ends the piece with the words, "Mary Christmas." My goodness. I'd be mortified to write something that bad. Do you think that's clever? It's embarrassing. This is a professional writer. At The Washington Post. Where I am viewed as the devil.

The piece also goes nowhere. It merely says that Mary Bailey is the hero of the film. You can't leave it there. Because what someone can say is: So? What's the point? You have to tie it in to the world. You can't just identify a truth--which you stole; you need to have a larger idea. You have to have larger relevance. That's called being good at writing op-eds. Or anything. Fiction. Beatles pieces. Hockey articles.

Now why don't you read this? Different level, no? Completely different level of thinking, writing, prose sophistication, op-ed making.

These are bad, bad, bad, bad, bad people.

Celebrating the real hero of It’s a Wonderful Life

There is perhaps no greater presumed “given” in American movie history than the idea that James Stewart’s George Bailey character is the Everyman hero of Frank Capra’s 1946 picture, It’s a Wonderful Life. So many of us sit down for our annual viewing of what is undoubtedly America’s most beloved holiday picture, primed to celebrate Bailey as he rescues his brother from drowning, saves the local pharmacist from poisoning a customer, keeps people safe in their homes so that Old Man Potter can’t turn them out into the streets.

I admire Stewart’s George Bailey character, but I don’t believe he’s the real hero of the film, and its’ time we celebrate the character who is, and see this movie with new eyes seventy-five years after its release.

Donna Reed, who plays Bailey’s wife Mary in the film, was born 100 years ago. The greatest heroes, in my view, help us keep ourselves together so that we, in turn, can help others do the same. They are invested in our fundamental well being at the core of who we are. So that we don’t lose that core. Or so we can find it again. These are the heroes who seem to be perpetually at a person’s side, even when they’re off somewhere else.

In It’s a Wonderful Life, it is Mary Bailey who helps stop George from destroying his life, his family’s life, the life of his kids. Consider, for example, before he heads out on Christmas Eve to kill himself, how he says to Mary, in front of their kids, that they shouldn’t have had children. It’s one of the darkest moments in American cinema, and strength is etched in Mary’s face. She will not buckle. She may have no solution yet, but a large part of any solution that will come—the solutions that are most needed, I mean—is to not buckle at first. To remain intact, and say, “I am here.” That’s Mary.

That lack of buckling requires massive outlays of faith. I’m not talking religious faith, but the belief in one’s self to find a way through, which can mean helping someone else do the same thing. The outcome is not guaranteed. There may be no idea as to what a possible solution could be. But the non-buckler feels the ground under her feet, confirms that solidity, and in so doing understands there is always a way forward.

This is a rare person. It’s Mary Bailey exactly, and she’s going to help save George, even more than his actual guardian angel, Clarence Oddbody. The latter takes George into that wild, terrifying “other” world of what this small town would have been like had George never been born, but whereas Clarence deals in “what if,” Mary deals in what is and what to do about it. It is no stretch to say that I love her from afar, because I love that kind of human. They are the best of us.

Mary keeps that family together. When George’s breaking point comes, her strength seems to redouble. George gets the splashy celebration in the end, but who do you think got everyone there and kept George out of jail? It was Mary, and without ever seeking credit beyond helping someone. That’s why Capra lets his camera rest on her face as “Auld Lang Syne” is sung. It’s an everyday hero’s face, which counts for more than even an Everyman hero. It’s the face of the real reason why we’re here.


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