There’s Big Money to Be Had In Revising History
Pop quiz: How many “Texians” does it take to lose one Alamo?
By Ed Goldman
Almost every week a nonfiction book comes out dissing previous nonfiction books.
The topics range from how many “Texians” really defended the Alamo (and just how drunk the doomed fort’s co-commander, Colonel James “Knives Out” Bowie really was) to whether Albert Einstein’s IQ would have qualified him for membership in Mensa. One book speculates that Thomas Edison had Nikola Tesla murdered so he could claim to be the planet’s sole inventor of nearly everything (you’ll recall that if it hadn’t been for Edison we’d all be watching TV by candlelight).
Heavens to Betsy
There are religious sects whose leaders claim that despite the existence of carbon dating, Earth is only a few thousand years old. Meanwhile, some believe that God had Friedrich Nietzsche killed in retaliation for the latter claiming the Former was already dead; that Hitler didn’t die in that Berlin bunker but rather relocated to Argentina in disguise and under a cleverly assumed name (Adolfo Itlerro, por ejemplo); and that the late western star John Wayne’s real name was Marion Morrison (Wait. That one’s true).
So I decided that for today’s column, I’d offer a preview of some books I may write to simultaneously debunk prior ones and help me pay off my MasterCard bill, which recently eclipsed the annual budget of Rhodesia.
At the same time, I’m also demanding that only I will be allowed to write subsequent books debunking my proposed books. I believe this is called either business-cycle economics or bald-faced fraud.
Title: BETSY ROSS WAS NO SEAMSTRESS.
I’ve been hanging around area fabric stores gleaning gossip from real-life quiltmakers and those who stitch nauseating homilies onto pillow samplers (“Bless Our Home, and the Grown Children Who Tell Us Everything We Did Wrong”). None of these sew-and-sews believes that the extremely late Ms. Ross (January 1, 1752 – January 30, 1836) could possibly have created the first American flag since, as one of my sources told me, “The color red had yet to be invented in 1776.”
Title: THE PONY EXPRESS HAD ONLY ONE HORSE
Named Flaccid Flicka by a disappointed horse breeder, the Pony Express— run by the U.S. Post Office in the days when workers there were still characterized as “gruntled”—FF, as he was affectionately called, ran from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California in approximately half the time it takes today for a package of homemade sausage to traverse the same route. My book will reveal that this is largely due to the presence of drug-sniffing dogs—specifically, partially starved Belgian Malinois—at post offices on each end, abetted by sympathetic postal employees.
Title: NINA, PINTA AND SANTA MARIA WERE THE GIRLFRIENDS, NOT SHIPS, OF CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS. I’ll admit that the research on this is a little sketchy but I think the title alone may generate some publisher and likely, prurient interest.
Title: WAS GOLDA MEIR ACTUALLY LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON IN A DRESS? I think America is overdue to come to grips with the fact that these two leaders were never filmed together, except when they were. (Listen, trick photography has been with us since the beginning of time—or as certain sects have it, a few thousand years ago.)
Title: JIMMY HOFFA IS ALIVE AND ON THE PICKLEBALL CIRCUIT. While born in 1913 and allegedly embedded into a cornerstone of the Sears Tower in 1975 (43 weeks after his family reported he hadn’t shown up for dinner), Hoffa remains amazingly spry for a man of 110. I was able to track him down by Googling various aliases such as Hymie Jaffar, King James, Jimmy Crack Corn, and Jimmie Kimmel. The surprise is that I struck gold when I input Adolfo Itlerro.
Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).