Serpent’s Lair and Lou Babiarz: Perfect Together

It’s a jog past midnight, and I’m drunk with love and hate and peanuts and waaaaaaay early research into the next book. Wanted to share two thoughts …

A. Some of you might recall a blog post I wrote a few months ago, when I detailed “Serpent’s Lair,” perhaps the worst film in the history of modern cinema. I talked about being 23 and lonely and watching the flick and, well, you got the idea.

Anyhow, to my true shock, Serpent’s Lair—like, all of it—is available for free right here. On the internet. On YouTube. Free! I watched a bit tonight and, I must say, it sucks. Like, royally. A bad movie with bad actors and a bad script. So bad, it’s engrossing. Well, sort of engrossing. In small pieces. But, really, it’s just awful.

B. I know I have thin skin and should be ashamed and blah, blah, blah, but I’d regret not commenting on a column I somehow missed when it originally ran last month. The piece, written by a sports editor named Lou Babiarz of the Bismarck Tribune, rips Sweetness (although, once again, the author admitted he hadn’t, ahem, read the book). But that’s not all—it also rips me. Personally. Here, check this …

Writes Babiarz: “I’ve met Pearlman. When I was a sports clerk at the Champaign News-Gazette in the early 1990s, Pearlman spent a summer there as an intern. In our limited interaction, he was not enjoyable to be around. Pearlman has described himself as ‘way too cocky’ at that time, which hardly begins to cover it. It was 20 years ago. Hopefully he’s done some growing up since.”

I probably can’t rank Babiarz’s work as the worst thing I’ve seen on the book, because, well, I haven’t compiled official rankings. But the slap at my Urbana Summer from Hell is a bit, mmm, incomplete. To recap the worst seven weeks of my life, from June/July of 1992: I was 20-years old, insanely immature and unprepared for being away from home for the first time. I broke both my ankles (well, one was merely a severe sprain), lived by myself without a working TV, made $5.25 per hour, was the only intern under 21 and/or without a fake ID. I don’t even remember Babiarz, so I can’t comment on him specifically. But with rare exception, few went out of their way to help/assist/guide an idiot college kid whose strut (obnoxious as I’m sure it was) only served to hide horrible insecurity and limited self-confidence (and terrible loneliness).

In other words, he’s right—I was a jackass. One crying for company.
Anyhow, back to Babiarz: I’m still blown away by so-called “journalists” who bash and thrash without knowing whereof they speak. Certainly, as Babiarz notes, I needed to grow up. But what’s his excuse? I mean, literally, what sort of “journalist” thrashes a book he hasn’t read—then supports that thrashing by recalling the writer’s seven-week internship experience … from two decades ago? Yeah, I was an asshole twep in the summer of 1992, but better that than some dime-a-dozen, score-to-settle hack who’s sense of world righteousness was ruined because a journalist (who values—gasp!—research and reporting) decided to pen a definitive biography of his boyhood hero. Wanna-bes like Babiarz aren’t mad that someone wrote a detailed biography—they’re mad that someone wrote a detailed biography on a person they had a crush on (“I’m biased. Walter Payton is my favorite athlete by far, and there is no close second.”). Had I penned a 100-percent glowing ode to Walter (no scars allowed), Babiarz would have bought it in an instant, tears streaming down his cheeks, bluebirds fluttering through the air.

Instead, he is offended. Angry. Pissed.

And, just to show how offended and angry and pissed he is, he refuses to read the first-ever definitive biography of his hero. Because that would be giving in to the terrorists. Or … something.
PS: Feel free to save the “This guy writes for the paper in Bismarck—why pay him any mind?” points. I get it. But I also have no problem with self-defense and, for kicks and giggles, firing back sometimes. Maybe I’m wrong … but, if nothing else, it’s therapy—the point of this blog, in a sense.

5 thoughts on “Serpent’s Lair and Lou Babiarz: Perfect Together”

  1. No disrespect…but I tire of writers and members of the media who feel the need to denigrate folks who don’t live large cities or on the coasts. Not everyone living in a small Midwestern city is a failure or a hick.

    This guy does sound like a tool, but the fact that he lives in Bismarck has nothing to do with it. There are plenty of tools in Chicago, as you have learned. And I’m sure NYC has its share as well.

  2. I’m going to quote myself again…no not that quote.
    You already know that quote well.
    This one:
    “No, you are not responding to a critic. You are moaning and crying.
    You are a decent person, that is why I read your blog. I also read your columns. This is you being a crybaby.
    Put it behind you. It doesn’t matter what you say, there will always be some idiot to criticize. You have to know that.”

    This thing is eating you up. You’re obsessing.

    1. Because I care about Jeff.
      These kinds of obsessions eat at people.
      They can spill over to other parts of their lives and serve no purpose.

  3. If I were Jeff Pearlman, I wouldn’t let Babiarz’s “critique” go unchallenged.

    Babiarz isn’t the quintessential schlub confined to his parents’ basement couch posting away on some unimportant message board; rather, he’s the sports editor for major (albeit regional) newspaper. He wrote an indefensible column (“I love Walter Payton and the mere thought of him leading a robust life with shades of gray is beyond my capacity and I must therefore publicly attack any perceived accusation without so much as bothering to read the book”) and as a result, he deserves to be ridiculed.

    I thought Mr. Pearlman was exceedingly gentle considering the circumstances and the gratuitous nature of Barbiarz’s allegations (early 1990s conduct); if I were in his shoes, I’d be livid.

    And how about the title of Babiarz’s column: “Making Some Educated Guesses”…isn’t that a convenient and self-serving way to state: “I’m too busy to learn the material I’m being paid to comment on.” Imagine if Mr. Pearlman had adopted a similar philosophy to “Sweetness”…no need for interviews…no need for research…no need for evidence….no need for anything, aside from “educated guesswork” and conjecture.

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