If A Tree Falls On An Editor…….

Jeff, from the NY Times called me the other day.  He was calling to confirm some information regarding  a “letter to the editor” I had sent in; also to vet me, as the sender.  I’ve been submitting letters to the Times for years…some of them well written and thoughtful, others less so, almost all responding to articles and op-ed pieces on politics.  As I like to say, the anti-Semites there have chosen to ignore me.

That’s not exactly true. A number of years ago a letter that I sent to the Times Magazine section was, indeed, published.  It was a letter refuting something that Steve Leavitt, the author of Freakonomics, had written about real estate brokers.  There was a hint of an insinuation of a suspicion of a possibility of an implication of a  ‘maybe’  that  brokers were less than forthright.  Actually,  way more than a hint.  I made  a well-reasoned argument countering his premise  which more or less brought  smarty pants  Leavitt to his knees. This was very satisfying.  But I know that  the only reason my letter was selected was because, as a broker, I brought some expertise to the subject at hand.  Still, I was  beyond pleased.

There was an article in the “Home” section of the Times  a few weeks ago that again contained some oblique dissing of real estate brokers. A few days after reading it, I dashed off a  quick letter contesting  some of the remarks.  Oddly,as I wrote the letter, I was almost certain  that (again, because of my “expertise”)  it would get published.  Still, I was caught off guard  when “Jeff, from the Times” called. 

Our conversation couldn’t have lasted more than a minute or two.  He said the Times was going to print my letter and wanted to verify a few things.  I offered,  “How was my spelling?”  Jeff  seemed confused and said, “What?”  I now knew that this was no time for fooling around so  I told him that I was kidding.  He moved on saying that  the letter was well written and they would publish it with no changes but he wanted to go over a few things.  He obviously had googled me because he asked if I was “the Neil Stein who is the restaurateur in Philadelphia.”  There is a posting on this very blog (“It Ain’t Me Babe”   https://ironicman.wordpress.com/2009/04/22/me-myself-and-i/) that I wrote a few months ago about my Philadelphia namesake who, not so incidentally, has a bit of a criminal background (white-collar crimes).  I told him I wasn’t that  Neil Stein but was well aware of him.  Jeff, from the Times said that he was glad I wasn’t the guy from Philly since part of my letter talked about “honesty”, and it would be  so IRONIC  if, in fact, I  was the criminal Neil Stein.  I swear, that’s what he said…it would be IRONIC !  In a perfect world and/or if I could think on my feet more quickly, I would have said something like, “it’s funny you mention how IRONIC that might be, because I write a blog which is based, in part, on irony. ” And in that perfect world, Jeff from the Times would have said…”really, why don’t you send that along to me?”  But, it’s not a perfect world and I am not nearly that quick , and we ended our conversation going over some routine matters.  A bummer.

Jeff from the Times told me that my letter  would be in either last week’s or this week’s Home section.  I eagerly checked last week’s paper….no letter.  By some convoluted coincidence,  I happened across the on-line version of the Home section and there it was…. my letter in all its glory!  And do you know how many people have contacted me to say they came across that letter?   None, zero, zilch, nada, gournischt.    I’m certain that  a tree falling in the forest where no one is there to hear it, makes more noise than the “letters” section of the on-line edition of the Home section.  A lot more noise.  

For those of you still reading and who have the time, interest and stomach….here’s a link to the …well, you know what.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/12/garden/12letters.html?scp=1&sq=letter%20neil%20stein&st=cse

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3 Responses to “If A Tree Falls On An Editor…….”

  1. other jane Says:

    Neil. You don’t have to put quotes around “expertise.” j

    • iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

      hi other jane…

      i’ve learned to never disagree with anyone who actually reads the blog. (this has been a slowly learned lesson). so….you’re right. but could i, instead have said,’my so-called expertise’?

  2. Semitic Satisfaction « Ironicman's Blog Says:

    […] The good fortune I’m referring to is that I had a  ”Letter To The Editor” published in The Times the other day(http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/19/opinion/l19brooks.html).  If this is not the Holy Grail for a writer, it’s certainly one of the steps along the way.  Apparently, the editorial board at the paper has  adopted a more tolerant policy towards Jews and decided to print my letter. I say that they must have changed their policy because this letter was no better or worse than the other several hundred thousand that I have sent them in the last several years.  So, either they’ve changed their anti-Semitic ways or I’ve simply worn them down.  Either way, this was the first non-real estate related letter of mine that has made it to the big time.  (For newer readers, you might want to visit:https://ironicman.wordpress.com/2009/11/17/if-a-tree-falls-on-an-editor/) […]

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