WWMALIBU on Mon, 30 Nov 1998 17:38:03 +0100 (CET)

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Re:<nettime>Mike Davis Hoax Expose 1/2 #2 Response


For some time I've been hearing about how Mike Davis has been planning his
response to the growing number of people who are just realizing his books -
City of Quartz and Ecology of Fear - are essentially literary hoaxes. My first
draft of 'Mike Davis as the Wizard of Oz' - available by email - got to him
probably seven weeks ago giving him plenty of time to come up with 'his'
reply; it has just been published.  His buddy Lewis MacAdams (who, despite
having to do Davis's dirty work for him, is a true LA hero for his work with
the LA River) has done a cover puff piece on him in the LA WEEKLY which covers
all the basic hagiography - with one minor, new addition to the canon.

Not only does MacAdams - for the very first time (since the party line - until
today - has been how totally factual Davis is) - admit that Davis makes up
many of his facts - but he now claims that Davis's making up facts - which he
calls story telling - is really an honest way of finding the 'real' truth.
This 'confession' is buried in the middle of the piece with studied
nonchalance and makes no mention of the growing chorus of critics who are
coming to realize that his books are essentially hoaxes; that way this
'confession' does not look as if it is a response to any charges just now
being made public.

It's a truly amazing way of covering up sloppy research, falsification of
facts (many of which were repeated in the article) and pathological lying.
McAdams defense of Davis is he has to lie to us to tell us the truth which is
something like having to destroy the village, I mean the truth to save the
truth.  The goal, of course, is to make it so that for anyone to now bring up
his deliberate lying - since he now so openly claims/admits that lying is the
essential part of his creative process - is made to seem to be petty.  After
all, lying is merely Davis's most creative tool in enlightening the masses and
we should be thankful he has so generously graced us with that gift over and
over again.

Needless to say, the whole basis of his 'lying' is very elitist.  Davis's
premise is that the 'people' are children; easily confused and who
consequently must be led by a Great White Father.  Truth is too dangerous for
the masses and, even if they knew it, they couldn't understand it.  Therefore,
Great Story Teller Mike Davis has to predigest the truth for the proletariat
and, if that requires a great many lies to be told to the faceless proles,
well, that is a small price to pay for his leading them to even his even
greater truths.

The amazing thing is, he will get away with it.  The need the media has for a
'Mike Davis' far outweighs any feeble commitment the press has for the truth.
And with both the LA Weekly and the LA Times uncomfortably trapped by
association in his corner (and articles like the LA River hoax piece outed in
the November 27th Weekly article are the reason why, I suspect, he only
'occasionally' - read, almost never - writes for the Weekly any more).  While
neither paper hires him much any more, they can't let him sink their
credibility, either, by his totally crashing and burning, so they will never
cover this story.  Ergo, he will escaped unscathed - again.  

For your amusement,

below are the two excerpts in which Davis's creative handling of facts is
dealt with. I had heard many stories about his LA Weekly articles and LA Times
articles and also about his SCI-ARC lectures in which he would just make it up
entire stories out of whole cloth as he went along, but I never dreamed he
would so openly admit to this type of deception. 

McAdams says, "The first time I met Mike Davis was in the summer of 1989,
when he called to say he was doing an L.A. Weekly cover story on the Los
Angeles River.  Since it was going to be the biggest piece anybody had
done yet about the river, and I was running Friends of the Los Angeles
River, I suggested we get together down by the river for a talk. He said
he wanted to work on the story a little first. A few weeks later, he
called to tell me hed written the story and wanted me to take a look at

I was amazed to discover hed fabricated an entire interview with me: We
were standing together at the Fremont Gate entrance to Elysian Park, a
place Id never been, and I showed him a "dog-eared 1890s topographical
map prepared for City Engineer J.H. Dockweiler," a document that Id never
heard of at the time. Though wed never actually talked, the words he put
in my mouth made me sound like I knew a lot more about the Los Angeles
River than I actually did. I told him to go ahead with the piece just the
way it was." 

Later in the article McAdams says:

"Davis is the first to admit that he wont let a fact get in the way of a
good story. "I was stunned," I've heard him say twice lately, "to find out
that something I said turned out to be true." 

Is this incredible, or what?  This is a writer for the LA Times?  A Getty
Fellow?  A MacArthur winner?  A college teacher? And we're supposed to
love him for his prevarications according to the LA Weekly. 

Needless to say, nothing remotely like this was ever printed by one of his
boosters (or even his rare detractors) until my and other then unpublished
articles started circulating.  But the rest of the article is so
flattering (brown nosing is too kind a description - we're talking full
cranial insertion here) that even these 'indiscretions' come across as
charming in the piece. Once again, Mike Davis has pulled the wool (well,
in his case, a low rent synthetic fiber) over a willing and gullible
media's eyes. 

Mike Davis 1, Diogenes 0.


Brady Westwater

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