A Note to the Reader (draft)

This is a proposed draft for the foreword of the regurgitated Teentime book.

A Note to the Reader

This is a memoir, and therefore somewhat fictionalized, like most memoirs. The action takes place more than forty years ago, but as most of the players were pretty young them, most of them are still alive. They will give me no end of trouble if don’t disguise them. And they would be absolutely right, because my recollections are pretty nasty.*

So I’ve changed everyone’s name—with the obvious exception of a few public figures—and invented new backgrounds for some people. Some trifling characters are made into “composites.” The major alteration to the story is the time-scheme. Events that played out over four or five years are squeezed into the year or so of the book’s action (1973-1974). This compression gives the story a semblance of narrative drive and, I hope, a kind of plot.

Place names and businesses are real, for the most part. The unnamed “educational TV” stations in New York and Boston are WNET and WGBH. I don’t name them because they like to call themselves Public Television, which in the context of this story would be confusing. Forty to fifty years ago people said Educational Television. A few kiddy shows (Zoom, Sesame Street, The Electric Company) are given their real names. Otherwise most of the television programs in this book are renamed or completely made up.

The subplot about Sal Mineo and his lurid screenplay, Sacred Bubblegum, is almost entirely true. It was a real script, and I lugged a bound copy around for a while in the summer of ’73. His agent wanted a treatment (i.e., synopsis) of it, and somehow that task got passed on to me. I did write something, but I wasn’t in Nantucket when I did it.

The business about the Jackson Whites, on the other hand, is pure invention. Putting a segment about Jackson Whites on an “educational” kiddy show is exactly the kind of daff’y, unbalanced idea that Mr. Hornblower liked to come up with. But he didn’t really visit the Jackson Whites.



*I’ve been at the receiving end of this procedure. About ten years ago a bumptious, lame-brained acquaintance of my youth wrote a kinky sex memoir that got a lot of media play. He wanted to put me in it, and sent me few pages of draft. It was really bad. His expository style had become thoroughly corrupted by years of writing juvenile paperbacks full of indistinguishable 14-year-olds. As a result of this, his delineation of “me” was inept and malformed (“Whoa!” she said, “Cut me some slack!”). So I told him to kill the whole section. That peeved him greatly. He took revenge on me by rewriting the section with a repellent new character. She was presented as a composite of me and some other girls and women he had known, though she was pure fiction, and badly done fiction at that. Suffice it to say we haven’t spoken since. If this shallow scribbler had simply disguised the memoir’s characters and not begged for approval from the putative originals, this whole kerfuffle could have been avoided.