I might be dead if it weren’t for Stephen Elliott

Photo Stephen Elliott by Katharine Emery
Photo Stephen Elliott by Katharine Emery

Writer Stephen Elliott has been accused of “suspicion of rape.” I don’t understand what an accusation of suspicion of rape means. Sounds like conjecture to me. Or lies. Or a 9th-generation game of telephone that gets everything wrong.

He was also accused of “unsolicited invitations to his apartment.” Huh??

Before I go on I have to say that I have nothing to gain, and a lot to lose, by posting that Stephen is a good guy. A man with the scarlet R on his back isn’t where you hitch your wagon. But I have to talk about what a decent person I’ve seen him be; to me, to women, to men. Because apparently some people who know him are now throwing him under the bus in the mass hysteria that is #MeToo.

From the NY Times:
Stephen Elliott, a writer who appeared on a widely circulated list of men who were said to have committed various forms of sexual misconduct, is suing Moira Donegan, the woman who created the document. Mr. Elliott says that she and various unnamed women who contributed to the list harmed his reputational and emotional well-being with claims that he says are false.

Rape is a real thing. It’s horrible. I was sexually abused as a kid. Not fun. And rapes are rarely prosecuted. In my state, cops are too busy busting people for felony pot that’s legal one state over. And in states and countries where pot is legal, the State is too busy going after other victimless crimes to bother prosecuting rapes.

But I am really getting the feeling that a lot of the #MeToo madness is people with FOMO who are saying “Me too! I want to be loved and surrounded by hugs for being a victim, even if I wasn’t a victim, or wasn’t a victim of this person. He’ll do!”

There’s also a lot of misdirected retaliation at otherwise-innocent people hidden in the actual practice #MeToo.

Remember that Dead Kennedys stanza?:

Pissed at your neighbor?
Don’t bother to nag.
Pick up the phone
and turn in a fag!

It was picturing a right-wing fascist state where you could falsely accuse someone of being gay to have them put in a cell somewhere, or at least have people unwilling to hire them or be their friends.

Well, it’s turned out the same, but it’s not conservatives. It’s something else. And it’s not liberals in the old sense. Part of this generation of post-TV Babies eats their own.

Pissed at your boss?
Don’t bother to bitch.
Lie online and
put him in a ditch.

When I was a kid in the 1970s, liberals believed “Innocent until proven guilty.” Or at they least professed to. Many actually did believe that.

I like this comment by Heather E Heying: “If you are a liberal, by definition, you believe that it’s better to let a certain amount of guilty people go free than to jail one innocent man. That’s almost the definition of liberalism. These people on the left aren’t liberals at all, actually.”

Stephen was the best boss I ever had. Not just to me, but to everyone who worked for him. So I doubt that the false accusation was based on an employee being mad at him. I think it’s more likely a writer without any game, pissed that Stephen had one of his books turned into a movie staring James Franco playing the main character named Stephen Elliott.

Though the real Stephen Elliot didn’t like the film. I didn’t like it either. Hubert Selby Jr. #1 rule of writing: You have to make people care about what happens to your protagonist.

Knowing Stephen in real life makes you care what happens to him. In Stephen’s books, he makes you care what happens to him. In the movie, while there are a few good lines (lifted directly from Stephen’s book), it’s difficult to care at all what happens to him.

Even with all the non-truths wrapped around “Stephen Elliot” in the movie, they still coulda made you give a shit. Woulda gone a long way to make people ignore the many other problems with this film.

The one woman on the list who did name herself, Moira Donegan, is a failing writer who used to be cool, and is not nearly as well known as Stephen Elliott.

Failed writers might not be failed writers if they wrote (and edited!), instead of trying to eviscerate men in the public dunking booth of opinion. So how about it, girls? Why not give work a shot. Oh wait, I forgot. Meritocracy is now a venal sin.

And now Stephen is suing back. Good for him. I don’t think he did what he’s accused of doing. Plus, anonymous accusations are bullshit. If you believe it, put your name on it. That’s a basic tenet of justice: the right to face your accuser. I think that’s part of why Stephen is suing: to know who’s accusing him of what.

Stephen doesn’t like intercourse. He’s a D/s bottom. He likes women to push him around. He likes to service women, at their whim.  He doesn’t like intercourse. He doesn’t like receiving oral sex. This is widely known about Stephen, plus he’s written whole books about it.

Isn’t a man like that the zenith of boyfriend type for some uber-feminists? Maybe the Jane Doe complainant is someone Stephen would not allow to push him around.

FYI, Stephen didn’t ask me to write this, and he doesn’t know I’m writing it.

Stephen Elliott used to be my boss in the mid-90s in San Francisco during the dot-com bubble. I was working for him in a startup with a ridiculous business plan. A lot of those got funded back then. The place was called Catalogs2go.com They’ve been long gone nearly 20 years. It wasn’t his company, he was middle management, in charge of herding the writers. It was also his first real job, and he even helped them build their website.

It occupied a few floors of 100 Bush Street. If you don’t know the financial district of the city, here’s a visual:

Their business plan was ordering a physical copy of every mail-order retail catalog in the world. Then us writers would compose a 50-75 word synopsis of the catalog for their website.

His office had a pile of catalogs larger than his desk, and the writers he hired would churn through it in a day. By the next day, the pile would reappear with new catalogs.

People would be able to read our descriptions on the site, then click to order free copies of the catalogs they would like delivered to their home.

This company had many tens of millions in first and second round investment for this shit. The 90s in San Francisco: What a time and place to be alive!

Catalogs2Go was bought by another company in 1999. That company is also now out of business. I think they were decimated when Amazon started selling more than books. Maybe before that. Most of the dot-coms I worked after Catalogs2Go are now gone.

Stephen hired his starving poet and novelist friends. I was making 30 bucks an hour. In 1997! That’s 47 clams an hour in 2018 scratch. Dress was casual, he was easy on us if we were late. Though he did insist people actually did the job. He wasn’t just burning other people’s money. He was giving the “mavericks” who owned that silly place what they wanted. Because he’s honest.

I don’t even know that he knows he plucked me out of desperation. I wasn’t happy about being in a dire place, and didn’t trumpet it.

Working for Stephen at Catalogs2Go was the best job I’d had at that point, and was the first time I ever made money writing, even if I was writing snappy crap 8 hours a day in a cubicle. I was literally on the cusp of homelessness when he hired me. I was recently sober and hadn’t learned to really function without booze and heroin yet. And I’d never worked inside before. I was a bike messenger back when I was using dope and booze. The only time I’d been to 100 Bush Street before meeting Stephen was making deliveries at the loading dock….Around back, so none of the nice people need to see you.

I’m eternally grateful for him hiring me. And the hire was based on me talking into a mic at a weekly poetry reading he MCed at a bar. He saw something in me when few did. And I believe that if he hadn’t hired me, there’s a good chance I would have ended up homeless, and probably gone back on the needle at that point. And likely died.

So, thank you Stephen.

He often had to tell good writers they were writing too well. lol. We had to dumb it down. I kept being in the habit of adding “Feel the love!” as a random ending to a synopsis. “…And these nifty audiophile loudspeakers have exceptional specs! You’ll be the envy of your shooting gallery. Feel the love!”

I guess I was feeling loved because Stephen lifted me out of desperation. And he even gave me a fun side gig for a couple days proofreading one of his novels before publication.

He also traveled to Cuba somehow back then, and risked el gulag to take copies of all his friends’ books and chapbooks (and CDs of my music). We gave those things to Stephen to give out to people in Cuba who would then make copies and pass around some uncensored truth.

He’s a cool cat.

Women like him. I used to see him constantly surrounded by women. And men. Surrounded by people. And he wasn’t a loud-mouthed alpha male type. He was kinda quiet sometimes, but smart, and could really listen as well as talk. People like him because he’s genuine and kind, in addition to being smart. And he goes out of his way to give people a chance. In work, in writing, in friendship, in life.

Even though I’m a few years older than him, he taught me some things. Shit, he even taught me how to open a new tab in a browser instead of opening a new window. Hey, the Internet was new to all of us, because the Internet was new back then.

A few years later when I had my life more together, I had Stephen be one of the stars in my documentary film, D.I.Y. OR DIE: How To Survive as an Independent ArtistI still often think about this one thing he said in the film, “The urge to write is the urge to communicate, and be alone at the same time.”

That line is so simple, and so damn deep. And it’s the story of my life. In a way that I love.

You can watch that part here. If it doesn’t go right to it on your device, it’s at 8 minutes, 45 seconds:

As for him being accused of “unsolicited invitations to his apartment.” Huh?? I think without people inviting people into their homes, the human race would die out. From incivility, if nothing else.

It also sounds to me like just being social. Stephen Elliott has invited me to his apartment before, I didn’t solicit it, and we just hung out and had a good talk. No groping.

I have no problem being on record saying he’s a good guy, even though I know there may be fallout for me for doing it. Not that it will help him, as those screech-bots have made up their minds.

Saying now that Stephen is a good guy will do me more harm than good. But I’m willing to do it. He helped me with a good job and a friendly demeanor when no one would help me and no one knew my name. And people who did know my name distrusted me, because I was fresh off being a junkie. Which Stephen knew and helped me anyway.

So again, thank you Stephen.

Michael W. Dean


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