Mr. Cullen Murphy
The Atlantic Monthly
77 N. Washington St
Boston MA 02114
Dear Mr. Murphy:
Your “Notes and Comments” on “The Real Thing,” in the August issue, had the ring of genuine authenticity to it. I would not have seen it, because I had stopped reading The Atlantic Monthly years ago, when it became a shadow of its former self. A friend who makes it a point to read everything published by Mort Zuckerman, no matter how painful it gets at times, did run across your column and pass along a xerox copy of it to me, via Patricia, my better half.
It strikes me that I’ve read dozens of snide commentaries on how silly it is for the Franklin Mint to sell “the only exact reproduction of Jacqueline Kennedy’s famous faux pearls.” But your reminder was the best, the most truly snide. So too with your note on how a great many New Yorkers at Christmas time turn to a tv channel that features a burning fireplace. Other would-be screenwriters, who are forced to write magazine columns instead, have condescended on the faux fireplace, but yours came the closest to being original.
The embodiment of fakery, you conclude, is Jack Kemp, who is an exact replica of me, Jude Wanniski, who is himself a string of faux pearls. The image you present in this veritable hall of mirrors was intriguing, and I read on, half expecting I would find the substance. Which is the positive, if the only reflections you present are negatives? You don’t know, I suppose, or you won’t tell.
I hate to plagiarize, but have you ever run across the famous Aesop fable that concludes: “Men often applaud an imitation and hiss the real thing.”? How are we to know if you yourself are capable of telling the difference? Perhaps we would feel more secure if you would answer a question or two: Do you favor a floating dollar or a gold one?
Sincerely, no kidding,