Tuesday, November 9, 2010

If Mitch Albom wrote a column opposing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, I would probably hate it and disagree with it

[Ed:  I keep thinking I'll make it a week without a Mitch rant.  But when Mitch Albom goes after Four Loko, the posts write themselves.]
I'm convinced that there is literally nothing Mitch Albom could conceivably write that I could even remotely agree with.  I just don't think it's possible.  I even hated the fake tribute column that the fake Mitch Albom wrote for me back in September (before I read the e-mail address and thought it was real).

Also:  I think he's probably ripping stuff off my website now.  Is it beyond Mitch Albom to plagiarize a cancer patient?  Of course not.  I'm pretty sure he steals most of his great ideas from people with serious diseases.

This week from Albom:  A boozy up-and-down makes this Loko loco

I know most newspapers have editors write headlines and stuff, but what the hell, let's just blame this journalistic abortion on Albom.

In short, the entire column is a literary incarnation of this clip from The Simpsons (sent to me by a reader on Friday):


Here's a general rule:  you can usually tell how bad an argument is by how quickly the proponent mentions "kids" or "the children."  

For Albom, it takes five words:
Can we agree that young people need no help in getting drunk?
And it doesn't stop:

Let the fisking begin.  Onwards, Mitch!
And can we agree that young people are attracted to the following:
• Large cans.
• Sweet flavors like lemonade or fruit punch.
• A cheap price.
• Staying awake.
Put those all together, and you can understand why Four Loko is one of the fastest-growing alcoholic beverages in the country.
I'm not even sure what to do with that.  I'm not necessarily attracted to large cans - I would not, for example, prefer a large can of urine over a small can over Coke.  Which is why I don't drink Four Loko.  And "sweet flavors like lemonade or fruit punch?"  I guess Mitch has a point, but then I went to middle school and my affinity for "fruit punch" seemed to wane.  "A cheap price?"  So you mean people like things that don't cost a lot of money?  And "staying awake?"  I...don't even know what to do with that.  I like getting a good night's sleep or something?

My biggest problem is with his last sentence:  "Put all those together, and you can understand why Four Loko is one of the fastest-growing alcoholic beverages in the country."

Like most of what Mitch Albom writes, this is unequivocally false.  This stuff has been around since 2005.  It didn't really start to see sales growth until recently.  Why?  As one of my friends writes:
[S]ince this drumbeat started, sales of Four Loko are up like three-fold. Also, I tasted the shit and it's godawful.
So you know who created this crisis?  The media.  YOU, Mitch Albom.  You killed your college professor, you killed Sparky Anderson with that dream you had last week, and now you're going to kill children.  You are the most dangerous man in the world, and your columns are slowly killing me.

Albom actually succeeds in listing some arguments against his position, even if he does manage to work in a jab at the Tea Party as well:
Now, in our current mood of "too much government," this will bring out protesters who cry 1. What's it your business if I want to get drunk? 2. Where are the parents in all this? 3.Why are stores selling to minors? and 4.What's it your business if I want to get drunk?
That's actually a pretty good job of characterizing some arguments against banning the stuff.  And Albom does a good job of addressing them.  If by "addressing them" you mean he concedes argument #4 and never mentions the other three ever again.

I am more worried about kids -- high schoolers, college freshmen -- stuck in that adolescent wrestle of wanting to be cool versus not wanting to damage themselves. A yellow or purple can with kiwi or grape flavoring that also promises to -- and this is critical -- keep you awake is a dangerously tempting product.
So ban Four Loko.  Fine.  And then...what?  Have you really done anything at all?  Or just made yourself feel better.  Albom addresses this point:
Teens can mix rum and Coke. They can make Irish coffee. You can never fully stop underage drinking. But you don't have to dress it in fruity colors and sell it cheap.
I mean...that's the standard for banning things now?  Being "fruity" and "cheap?"  Leaving aside Mitch's disdain for frugal gays, didn't he just acknowledge that banning this stuff won't have any real effect on anything, but we should ban it anyways because...I don't know, he doesn't like it?

There's one thing in this column that made me pretty happy, though:  A nice window into Mitch Albom's worldview.  I've read enough of his drivel to see this theme weaved throughout his pieces.  And I think it's actually a pretty good window into a certain form of the "progressive" worldview - and a major reason I'm not on board with modern liberalism:
True, stores should never sell this stuff to minors. And parents should teach their kids to be responsible. And we should all love our neighbor, give to charity and maintain the proper body weight.
But since that world is fantasy, this world requires some help.
Summary:  People should do the right thing.  But since they don't, we should mandate it by law.  And throw people in jail for disobeying.

I'm drawing a fine line here between crimes with victims - murder, rape, robbery - and things that Mitch mentions - loving our neighbors, giving to charity, maintaining the proper body weight, and underage drinking.  Everyone can agree that the former offenses should be addressed by our laws.  But there's a certain subset of people that believe that the latter things should be addressed by the law as well.  And I think there's a real problem with that mindset.  Not the least of which is the fact that Mitch Albom subscribes to it. 

One other thing that bothers me about Albom, besides everything:  This guy has one major "GET OFF MY LAWN" problem, and I don't get it.  The dude is 52.  He was born in 1958.  He reached adulthood in the mid 1970s.  So what the hell is this stuff:
In case you don't remember measurements from high school (which is the age of many kids drinking this stuff), old-fashioned Coke bottles used to be 8 ounces...
Remember, while many of us went through the sneak-a-beer phase, these energy drinks are a whole new game...
I am more worried about kids -- high schoolers, college freshmen -- stuck in that adolescent wrestle of wanting to be cool versus not wanting to damage themselves...
Today, kids guzzle energy drinks as if popping chewing gum.
Blah blah blah, "Back in my day we had some shenanigans but the kids these days are so much different because of Facebook and Red Bull and therefore we need to..." SHUT THE HELL UP MITCH YOU GREW UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE COKE-CRAZED 80s YOU STUPID, PATRONIZING, CONDESCENDING, BORING, UNORIGINAL TWIT.

I'm not done with Mitch.  I'll never be done with Mitch.  The floggings will continue until he stops.


  1. Who gets more nauseous: you during treatment or Angie when she reads your anti-Albom rants?

  2. mitch albom, allegedly, pursued a music career in the US and europe in the late 1970s-early 1980s. unless he was pursuing that well-known euro-mormon market, he was around lawrence taylor amounts of blow. he should be thrilled its four loko, not quaaludes.

  3. Bravo Nick!!! There is a condescension to Mitch, and his faithful companion Kenny, that is palpable. And your distinction between modern and classical liberalism is a little known but important one. Rid on, Tony

  4. When you want to be whole and well again in your body...hatred isn't the heathiest thing to carry around in your spirit. The blog is important for me to read, because I care about you and your family, Nick. The Mitch Albom rants are getting depressing...aren't there some positive things about people you feel are worth the time writing about?

  5. Anon:

    I really enjoyed your comment (and I am being honest). I have several responses:

    -Are my Mitch Albom rants more or less depressing than voluntarily reading them and then leaving an anonymous comment on a message board implying that I carry hatred in my spirit?

    -“Aren't there some positive things about people you feel are worth the time writing about?”

    Yes. There are. They are contained in the other 109 non-Mitch Albom related posts on this website. For example, from Monday:

    “I think every single doctor I've dealt with has been amazing. People at every single hospital and the NIH have bent over backwards to help me out. People have given me their e-mail addresses and their direct phone numbers. Even though things have seemingly come unraveled at the very end of my treatment, I can't come up with a single complaint about anything in this process. Everybody is working hard and has been extremely invested in my case. I can't say enough good things about everyone.”

    -Poor journalism – particularly journalism that gives people an inaccurate or downright incorrect understanding of current issues –has long been a pet peeve of mine. I dislike when those who are ostensibly tasked with helping people understand issues deliberately – through ignorance or laziness – inject a superficial, knee-jerk, half-baked analysis into the public discourse. I have always resented this, and Mitch Albom is one of the biggest offenders. And since I now have a blog with an audience that seems to enjoy my thoughts on these subjects, I provide content. Plus, writing has been exceptionally therapeutic for me.

    -I hope and pray that you never had and will never have cancer. But if you do, I preemptively promise to never complain about the content of your cancer blog. I also promise never to ask you, after fifteen weeks of dealing with cancer, six cycles of chemotherapy, and a month of an uncertain diagnosis, if you could write about more “positive” things.



  6. I'm trying to think of something MORE positive than simultaneously railing against Mitch Albom and his illogical, sanctimonious screeds AND taking shots at oppressive, nanny-state ideology...but I can't. Four Lokos all around!

  7. Okay, Nick...(regarding Albom rants), point well made. You have certainly earned the right to rant. And thanks for explaining your bone of contention with Mitch. I will read on,intently and with great concern, until the day you end your blog with the final words "CURED".