I am a certifiable member of the 99%. And yet for years I prostituted my talents to the 1% of Fortune 500 management, corporate jet-setters, Hollywood celebrities, foreign ambassadors, and elite members of presidential Cabinets.
My talents, such as they were, were not in hotel rooms, but hunched over typewriters. For 20 some years I was a member of that spectral legion known as ghostwriters. Including a few speeches for sitting presidents, an honor even without the recognition.
However, it is about the Fortune 500 I am confessing here. Like lawyers and reporters, you don’t break the code of silence as to the names. But the personalities, ahh they are worth trying to profile. Like so many of us 99 %ers, I had been raised to look upon the Donald Trumps of the land as our highest evolutionary achievement. They had money, power, status, image and untold influence. What more could a boy from the 30s & 40s aspire to, other than perhaps being a singing cowboy?
Yes, friends, there is always that thump as you trip over your childhood dreams and run smack dab into the middle of your heroes only to find they are mostly smoke and mirrors. Oh the poignancy of crumbling pedestals.
Most of these guys — and in my time they were mostly guys — had enormous executive offices, with enormous mahogany desks, with enormously vast networks of go-phers who did most of the real work. They hobnobbed with other 1%ers at country clubs, executive banquets, and in Congress.
The men-behind-the-curtains to some of our nation’s most prestigious food, energy, entertainment and franchise operations usually know their business. But not nearly as well their workers. That’s where the ghost writer comes in the side door, interviews the great man, meets some of the little men under him, then goes off to craft the words the big man needs to woo and wow his minions of little men. In other words, the big men often become so big they forget how to speak to the little men.
It’s a fair trade. He knows WHAT he wants to say, I know HOW best he might say it. I submit a draft for his teleprompter; he gets the applause; I get the check. As for the presentation, I am never invited. After all, I am only a ghost…
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