JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

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.
Dang.
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.