Saturday, December 15, 2007

B.S. Makes the grass grow green. My encounter with Clifford Irving

Have you ever tried writing?
Its impossible.
Talking to Clifford Irving one day, the successful literary flim-flam man, he said, "Don't even try. Let us guys do it.
"When childhood is over, the things of childhood should be put away."
All right if you're Clifford Irving and his spurious biography of Howard Hughts, the Aviator man. ("Who in hell is Clifford Irving? The billionaire Aviator man wanted to know on CBC radio. "I never met the man.")

Ah, how B.S. makes the grass grow green! *

Clifford Irving got his fifteen minutes, and by 2006, more, much more. Howard Hughes died of old age and Hollywood made its successful The Hoax and Aviator movies.
And thought I did once date (only in a prof and student relationship) one of Howard Hughe's old dates--an alumnus of the old Powers Modelling Agency, I only learned of the weirdness of the man. Also the strange authenticity of the aging Powers Model. She really did meet Howard Hughes, and she was to have done a trick.

And the oddity of Clifford Irving.

Powers Modelling Agency used to supply gorgeous whores for the rich and famous who didn't want to go the dangerous way of Hugh grant( who really didn't want to blow his own horn, but well, it happened and the hooker herself became a famous author).
In the case of my Peggy, the Powers hooker, Hughes had done a Leonard Cohen,
"touched her perfect body with his mind",paid her, and sent her home.
Nobody got laid. (For that matter, neither did I with this by-now matronly Powers model...but how close we get to the mystiique of the rich and famous...Damn, I was meeting everybody at the age of 29 and I neither realized my good luck-- or was just too young and stupid to realize that when it came to my career, I was already there).
I too had sent the aging Model home...At least I had that in common with Howard Hughes. Success had made me something of an eccentric something of a young prick; the knowledgeof too many women had made me spoiled, and I was one rat with women...Comes from finishing a novel at 28 and pulling so far ahead of the pack that your contemporaries were still doing bush notes out of East Jesus, Ontario and you were already in the Ivy League--or at least on the edges of a fellowship at Stanford with Wallace Stegner, the famed teacher of writing.

But Clifford Irving said "when childhood is over, the things of childhood should be put away."

Was writing mere child's play? Shouldn't we all get a job, a real job?

Well, what was Clifford Irving's job, really?

To write succesful novels, autobiographies, spurious profiles on people he had never met? And the smash hit movie, with Richard Gere, The Hoax, which made Mr. Irving doubly famous?

Whose childhood, whose profession?

"Songs for aging children come", Joni Mitchell used to sing.
Ah well.
"Aging children, I am one."

So Clifford Irving was telling me to give up and go back to my wife.

He was probably right.

But then for the next thirty years, I would be back there in suburbia, teaching students how to parse sentences, clipping my toenails at night and watch my poor wife grow cellulite and consider me crashing bore. "So where's the Great Canadian Novel, baby?"

Well, I did come back with what I thought was the Great Canadian Novel, Light Over Newmarket. It did go a long way, but I blew the money, like a writer, like a child.

I seem to be dodging a lot of coffins these days.
And yet, strangely, childhood is not really over, neither have I put away the toys.

A writer, they say, should be child-like, but not childish.

How childish I had been in my late twenties and how long it takes to, uh, mature.



* The 1970's Howard Hughes hoax, committed by Clifford Irving, or the "Hitler diaries," scandal, which were published by the German magazine "Stern," in the early 1980's-- the world has not seen such a mega scam.

Clifford Irving almost got away with it. Exactly 35 years ago, his sham autobiography of Howard Hughes nearly made it into bookstores before the reclusive billionaire granted a rare press conference (via telephone) in which he claimed never to have met Irving, let alone participated in the marathon interview sessions upon which the book was said to be based. The game was up. Irving, his wife, Edith, and his co-conspirator, Richard Suskind, all pleaded guilty to fraud and served jail sentences of varying lengths. Egg-faced publisher McGraw-Hill stopped the presses, and The Autobiography of Howard Hughes retreated into myth. (Today, portions of the book can be downloaded from Irving’s Web site, Those events were recounted by the author in his 1981 memoir The Hoax, which has now been adapted into a feature film directed by Lasse Hallström and starring Richard Gere as Irving and Alfred Molina as Suskind. But as Irving himself cautioned when I spoke to him recently from his Aspen home, when it comes to Hollywood movies, seeing isn’t necessarily believing.


TomCat said...

Ivan, what a wonderful story. If you ever grow up, perhaps it's time to nail the lid on.

Middle Ditch said...

I saw you on Josie and thought to say hi. I am a writer, not novels but scripts. One of my stories is posted on my blog.

ivan said...

Thanks. Coming from a wordsmith like you (albeit political), I take it as an appreciation.

ivan said...

middle ditch,

I see that Josie has a comment on your site, but she says she's having trouble with audio.
I can't imagine Josie having technical trouble--it's usually me!

I got "Middle Ditch 8" all right.

Top Drawer!
I thought the script may have been written by a man, but no.

I am not surprised that it was aired.



Josie said...

Ivan, I didn't know Irving spent time in jail for that. That was very interesting.

How are you?

ivan said...


I am well.
The blizzard is almost upon us here in the Toronto area--all the way from Oklahoma--and they say there's another just behind.
I am warm and uh, safe for the day, thanks. All is well. Who cares about the weather--pay day is Thursday.

ivan said...

To all "Quarks" and Quark fellow-travellers, friends of this blog:

Tara has just written( into my blog below this one) to say she just doesn't know whether to resume her blog or not.

I say we encourage her to resuscitate "The Emotional Being" and her other blogs...We can't have Tara hiding her light under a bushel!
I am raising the hue and cry.


ivan said...

p.s. to Josie,

Today is, I know, a difficult time for you as you think of events in the past.
I don't know how many novels I've edited for people who have also had your kind of life accident, but you are surely not alone.

The two books I had edited for other people involved rairoad engineers who had gotten killed.
I also edited a play, a tragedy wherein a daughter had died.

After working on those projects, some of the karma stayed and I began to worry about my own good luck to date.
Sure enough, suddenly I was not in a tragedy, but in a kind of tragicomedy.
Manuscripts having to do with real personal loss seem to have these squiggles on them still: you yourself somehow get involved in the tragedy.
... I ended up producing a kind of religious book of my own, and the karma passed.
Lighting a candle here.
Take some warmth.

the walking man said...

Fuck it, water makes the grass grow green too but I don't put bullshit or water on it. Clifford Irving is one of them that proves any kind of publicity is good publicity, and like Britney Spears the worse it gets the richer she gets.



Sienna said...

Mark! LOL Love ya mate.

That was great reading Ivan. As always.

Tara, if your out there, don't go!

Baby please don't go!

(I flogged that line :) )

Seriously, you write so good, so beautifully; maybe a blog you can write something occasional, I have never met such a talented group of people, and it all started with Josie!

Tara losing you would be like the rose losing it's petals....

You need to stay or I may have to resort to poetry.

Anyway I'll go read Ivan's last blog to get the dorrie.



Sienna said...

Tara, your sad? Why are you sad?

What has made you want to cry?

Ivan go and make her a hot toddy drink (please) and bring the bottle back for me.

Get yourself a drink too matey.

ivan said...

Oh what the paparazzi and the recording industtry do to talented people:
Sing along with Auntie Krazy.

Middle Ditch said...

Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment. Middle Ditch is a radio serial and all episodes so far have been written by me. To follow the story it's best to start with episode one.

The serial has been accepted on Cozy Fun Paris in France and it is also available on Audio Books, an Internet radio station. Keep in touch!

ivan said...


See? Pam is lead singer in the chorus that is clamoring to have you resume your blog, whose header is "Inside Our hands, Outside our Hearts".
You still snoozing and sniffling in my last blog, the "Uncle Tommy" one? You've got bed and board there, but come up for air here.
We all miss you.


ivan said...

Ah, Pam.

We are all drinking and thinking.
Thinking Tara should bring back her blog.

ivan said...

middle ditch (Monique?):

I have so many male friends who have done audio books.
One is Ger
ard Jones, who on some days is even more eccentric than this writer.
Nothing eccentric about your work.
I'll have to give it a closer listen, but on these blustery winter nights, it is certainly Cosy Fun to get under the covers and hear something kinda sexy that nevertheless has real characters and a story line.
Great stuff.

ivan said...


If you've read my last blog, you "got the dorrie." I just hope my old Johnnie Ray song lyrics didn't depress Tara further.

Johnnnie Ray...Anybody even heard of Johnnie Ray?...I think I was in diapers myself.
I guess I was imitaing that great, tragic, clinically deaf singer: "Cry".

ea monroe said...

Hi, Ivan! The sun is shining in Oklahoma for the first time in about two weeks and the temps should be up into the 40s. The back yard is full of broken tree limbs though and there's no room left on the curb. We'll have to make the pile higher! ~Liz

ivan said...


You subtle thing.
I got the joke.
"We got to get it higher!"?


So much snow and ice in Ontario that even the seagulls, who have natural snowshoes in the first place, are going to Wallymart for web-friendly Michelin non-skids.
Nothing moving here but Penguins and man, are they disoriented!
Find them kinda nice, but they're so formal!

Anonymous said...

Tara sez,

Tell them how sweet of them and I appreciate them. But I just do not know.

Donnetta Lee said...

Hi, Ivan! I really did enjoy this piece. Great story. Good to see Pam and Liz and Josie stopping by. This will complete the Quark ring.

The recent grey days in Oklahoma have just about done me in. But today the sun came out and I'm doing better! I think we have another spell coming in this weekend, but shouldn't be as bad. Cross your fingers.


ivan said...


Thanks. The Quarks seem intact.

Old New Guinea expression:
Softly, softly. Catchee monkey.

The weather here, super blizzard, would freeze a brass monkey's...

Anonymous said...

Speaking of scams, lookee here:

TORONTO - A Canadian company specializing in Internet porn is being sued by Facebook amid allegations it hacked the popular social networking website's computers and tried to access the personal information of users, court documents show.


A Canadian company specializing in Internet porn is being sued by Facebook amid allegations it hacked the popular social networking website's computers and tried to access the personal information of users, court documents show. THE CANADIAN PRESS
A numbered Ontario company, which does business online under the name SlickCash, along with several people in the Toronto area, are named in an amended complaint filed by Facebook in San Jose, Calif.

The hugely popular information sharing website alleges that, for two weeks last June, the defendants attempted to access Facebook's servers at least 200,000 times.

"Each of these requests sought to direct Facebook's computers to send information on other Facebook users back to (the company's Internet Protocol) address," the court documents say.

"These requests for information from Facebook generated error messages and were detected as unauthorized attempts to access and harvest proprietary information."

It wasn't clear from the documents what information was accessed, but the complaint alleges "the defendants knowingly and without permission took, copied, or made use of, data from Facebook's proprietary computers and computer network."

Facebook, with an estimated 34 million users worldwide, allows members to post photos alongside personal information like a birth date, hometown, e-mail address, phone number, and workplace.

The lawsuit names Istra Holdings Inc., the numbered company affiliated with SlickCash, and defendants Brian Fabian and Josh Raskin as either "residing or working" at the same Toronto address.

The complaint contains allegations that have not been proven in court. Calls to Istra Holdings were not immediately returned, and it was not immediately clear whether any of the defendants had filed a statement of defence.

The SlickCash website boasts that its partners have been "involved in every facet of the online adult industry" since 1999.

The suit also names Ming Wu and six other defendants whose identities remain unknown.

The amended complaint was filed last Wednesday after Facebook was granted court orders in Canada forcing Internet service providers Rogers Communications and Look Communications to divulge subscriber information.

Both companies were asked to hand over the information voluntarily, but refused, the suit said.

"We have a policy that we do not turn over customer information without a valid court order," said Rogers spokeswoman Taanta Gupta.

"Those are the steps to balance privacy with the requirements of the law."

After the first IP address that tried to hack its severs was blocked, other addresses began trying to gain access, the complaint alleges.

The suit alleges Facebook has suffered damages in "excess of $5,000" and has been "irreparably harmed."

The "extent and amount of such injury and damage will be demonstrated at trial," the complaint says.

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Josie said...

Ivan, are you snowed in there? The weather in Toronto looks AWFUL. I am gazing out the window at my palm tree. Heh.

ivan said...


The good news is that we seem to be in the eye of the storm: Sun shining very bright as we approach the winter equinox...Sounds sort of like something you'd get in Tijuana, heh?

But the snowbanks are piled up five feet high.
Dunno. Last time something like the happened, old Mayor Lastman of Toronto called in the army for aid.
...We have become such weather wimps ever since all this global warming talk. No climate change here: We are in Canada, eh?
Gonna send Al Gore back to Tennessee with a polar bear under each arm.

Shesawriter said...

"How childish I had been in my late twenties and how long it takes to, uh, mature."

I don't think any of us are fully mature until we reach 40.

ivan said...


Seems to me that at forty I was saying to myself, "I wish I were eighteen and knew what I knew then! :)

Sienna said...

I'm so glad I'm not 20 anymore, the craziness and self destructiveness...the 20's for me were ness's, like watching somebody playing with fuel and fire at the same time and thinking it's just fun.

Raining softly here, humid (which is unusual) but wet, tropics! :)

Tara if you are still there on the couch mate, don't forget we are here, a most interesting assortment of cyberspace gotta do what you gotta do but we are here for you.

Take care. Hope your xmas is a beauty.

Last couple of nights I've been dreaming of sequences to go in the kids film, it's amazing, they just come, appear, run the shot and I get up and write it in.

The strangest thing.

I seem to solve stuff in my dreams.

Oh, and I dreamt I kissed Heath Ledger.

ivan said...


Yes, Tara seems to be going through something, but it would be nice to see her back...She's sort reseurfaced back here in the blog just behind this one, though her site is still in cyberspace limbo.

Heath Ledger? Heh. The Australian hunk?

Well, I'm not young, but sort of Hunky (hey!) and some women have compared me to Heathcliff.

Look out, Emily Bronte.
I'm rattlin' those coffins down here in the basement!

Heathcliff: "I can't let you die, Cathy!"

Cattherine (if she were Ghetto):
"You all ***ed up, Heathlciff."

Josie said...

Pam dreamt she kissed Heath Ledger? I want some of what she's having before she goes to sleep. heh.

Sienna said...

Only think I can think of I might be inducing these wonderful dreams is drinking blonde beer, it's very warm and I enjoy a lovely cold beer in evenings..

Heathcliff ..dark, of the films of W.H's has an amazing actor play H, I can't think who it was; need to look him up.

Heath's lips are delicious, if you get an opportunity, go for it! (Not you Ivan, Josie).

That's all I've got to say...Forrest Gump signing off. :)

ivan said...

Only in my nightmares.Hethcliff chasing me. Egad. Poor Hareton.

Reminds me of the days when I was married and there was a Jane Fonda look-alike downstaris doing aerobics...don't ask me how I knew.

"Knock three times on the ceiling if yout want me."
My wife would have killed me. For sure.

eric1313 said...

That was damn good and very informative. I would love to write a literary hoax.

Speaking of possible hoaxes, have you ever read the Autobiography of Joseph Stalin? It's by Richard Lourie, the USA Today translator who did all of Gorbi's letters to the American public. Very strange but good book. it opens like this:

"Leon Trotsky is trying to kill me."

What a great stand alone sentence to open up this tour-de-force of paranoia and grand delusion. And it may or may not be real.

I would love to try and write something crazy like that. What fun. And if I had to go to jail, fuggit, at least I'll have plenty of time to write the follow up.

Thanks for the wishes and the comments. You can always "just type" at my blog. It's all good.

And say hello to the rest of the gang.

ivan said...

Thanks, Eric.

As before, my condolences to you on the loss of your aunt, whom you loved so, and who was, I think, a formative influence when you were younger.

Yeah, Joe Stalin.

He was so paranoid that he would tell Lavrenti Beria to off some people just because Stalin thouught they were after him.
Killled millions, actually, more than Hitler in his Dachaus.
Seems the world has no shortage of monsters, and there is no sign of them going away.
No wonder we're all over here in North America..and even here...?

Thank God my father never saw a unform and always managed to stay clear of the political. Anti-hero?
Intelligent coward? Donno. But he was around lat3er, when I needed him.
When I took up flying training, he gasped. I guess he had seen to many Stukas.
Small wonder I never got to be a fighter pilot.
"Have you seen what happens to those boys?"
Ah, the good die young.

Thanks for the comment...I was moved by the poem on your blog--as you can tell.


eric1313 said...

Yeah, Stalin has the record. Hitler may have been the most grotesque, but Joe of Steel was efficient. I've read that somewhere between thirty and forty million peasants starved to death under him, most of them in the same year that he sold all of the farm output in order to raise money for industry--aside from the death tolls of his many infamous purges.

Now we have Georgie Porgie in office. He may not be a Stalin, but he is a Khrushchev, or at least what Khrushchev was accused of being: a hair brained dreamer who is guilty of wishful thinking.

Only, his wishful thinking has brought us to this point in history, which is a bad place to be. The country on top is the biggest target.

Maybe we in the US should relax and let Europe pass us, let them pay the billion dollar bribes to keep the so-called peace, let them feed the world, or be the ones accused of letting the world starve.

Besides--They're a lot closer to the terrorists than we are. Let them deal with it. We'll see where their purported 500 million middle class consumers land them.

$10.00 per gallon gasoline, anyone?

ivan said...

Hate to use the word, but there was a Ukrainian holocaust.
Ten million peasants were systematically starved to death under Stalin.

Mr. Bush and his Bunker (Archie?)
We in Canada have had had it for a long time. And now our Prime Minister is leading us the way of George W. Bush.
Seems neither Canada or the U. S. is capable of synthesizing not only its own, but world history itself, which is Conquistadorship and Crusading.

eric1313 said...

I hope it doesn't continue that way. If either Hillary Clinton or Rudolf Giuliani are elected, I'm afraid the new "Mad Canadian Dictator" will still have good company.

The Chinese used to say "May you live in interesting times".

Interesting times have found us, I would say.

And drop by if you get a chance. I posted twice since you last came by. Of course, they might not be very good...

Anyway, I hope the writing is going well. I'm interviewing for a donkey job in the morning, so I'm turning out the light right now.

Peace out.

ivan said...

The problem has a solution, but there are things we can't write about and the real intellectuals are strangely silent, except for maybe Senator Mike Huckabee, if you consider him an intellectual; I think he is. He is saying things right on.

Didn't we love it in the early seventies,when Bob Dylan would write, "When you gonna wake up,
"When you gonna wake up
"Don't let Henry Kissinger tie you into a knot."

Just had a scan at your post; I love the poetry. Left a comment.

ivan said...


The donkey job:

It took me years and years to realize that a barber was always smarter and richer in many ways than a PhD.
So we are men of letters. So what.
It ain't feedin' us.