Frequently, we have debated politics and religion late into the night, shooting the breeze over dozens of topics, particularly those relating to the Catholic Church. During our years of friendship, when Minick became discouraged by public affairs or by personal difficulties — the guy, by the way, is a walking disaster when it comes to dating women — I was there to pick him up, dust him off, and shove him back into the fray.
So how does this man repay my kindness? By thieving my words and thoughts. Too dumb to come up with his own ideas, he had to filch mine. After twisting my innocent remarks like pretzels, Minick decked them out in satirical garb, and then published these plagiaries as essays in magazines. Even worse, he has now made public a collection of these and other essays in a book titled Learning As I Go; A Medley of Essays and Letters, Some Earnest, Some Satirical, Containing Thoughts and Conjectures on Such Diverse Topics as the Catholic Church, the Public Square, the Culture Wars, Relationships Between Men and Women, Writers, Books, and Education, All Seasoned with the Spices and Condiments of Personal Experience. (Ask yourself: what kind of mind conjures up such pretentious bloviation in our age of twitter and tweet?)
But here’s the kicker: this guy Minick signs my name on some of the articles in his book. My NAME! The sheer gall of this grafter makes me want to spit. I’m telling you, if this scalawag had more than two nickels to rub together, I’d sue him for identity theft.
Certainly his books won’t win him any money. The novel he published last summer, Amanda Bell, the story of a young woman who gets smashed up by life and seeks redemption in Asheville, North Carolina, sold some copies, admittedly, and continues to sell. (Writing a story about a young woman is another instance of Minick’s lunatic arrogance. Why? Because Minick is old. I mean, I’m talking wrinkles and grey hair. What does Methuselah know about chicks?)
Anyway, back to Learning As I Go. This book won’t fly. To begin with, who’s going to buy a bunch of essays that magazines and newspapers have already published? Who reads essays anyway? The certainty of Minick’s crash-and-burn is good news for me, because it means no one will identify me with the book, but come on. Essays? This guy has his head stuck so deep in the sand that the crabs are renting out rooms in his ears.
Worse, Learning As I Go slings mud at an army of potential readers. Minick claims to have a lover’s quarrel with the Catholic Church, but if I was the Church — and believe you me, buddy, I am as Catholic as the Pope on Easter — I’d slap this guy down so fast his head would spin. The Church has enough troubles without quibblers like Minick jumping all over it. Back in the day, the authorities would have burned this guy at the stake, and the rest of us would have brought weenies and marshmallows.
Nor does Minick stop there. He ridicules progressives. He thinks conservatives are grumps. He presents a long article on what he calls “crazy ladies,” about bitter women over 50, which with any luck may send a few enraged harridans after him with their carving knives. He pokes fun at Islam by writing about “burka babes.” (Dare we hope that some imam may issue a fatwa against this gadfly?) He plunks down an article about how weird Asheville is, but then tells us how much he loves living near its downtown. How weird is that?
Minick’s exhortations to young people are particularly impertinent. He throws out advice like a politician making promises, counseling them on everything from doing well in school to becoming real adults. He writes them letters, taking on the name of Samuel Cavanaugh, no doubt another poor slob whose identity Minick has stolen. In one of these letters he has the audacity to instruct young people about dating. The sheer temerity of this old fart attempting to sway innocent teens is breathtaking.
Then there are Minick’s essays on virtues like duty and honor. He mouths the usual pieties about character and right living, but the man is a hypocrite. Reading him, or even knowing him, you might think him a blend of Stonewall Jackson, Mahatma Gandhi, and the Apostle Paul, but in truth he’s prone to so many bad habits that I must leave even a listing of his vices to your imagination. There simply isn’t enough space here to record them all.
I will concede that Minick writes well enough. After all, various editors took his work and even paid him for his daft observations. I will also concede that his writing brings forth a guffaw or two. Several readers — no doubt the same drooling nabobs who would roar at the sight of an old lady falling down a staircase — have reported laughing aloud at his words. Other readers — those intellectual giants who take their news from the National Enquirer while standing in the checkout line at WalMart — have informed me that some of his insights impressed them.
Buy Minick’s book at Amazon if you wish. Go to the signings he has scheduled in the area. Look, if you must, at his Facebook blog on www.minickonline.com. Do as you please. Just don’t say you haven’t been warned.
(Despite his apparent animosity, we have it on good authority that Joe Ecclesia remains a friend of Jeff Minick and will continue to visit with him in the future).