Classic Ann Landers Letters
Classic Ann Landers Letters – Alice Cooper didn’t turn around and play dead when the famous columnist criticized Ann Lander’s Cold Ethyl. Instead, he wrote back to Landers and began a public correspondence that is still amazing to read all these years later.
Album for about four years when Landers first noticed it. She used her nationally syndicated column to criticize the track’s macabre subject matter, arguing that it was unsuitable for children. Landers also had trouble with Cooper’s legendary on-stage antics, which include a ritual beheading.
Classic Ann Landers Letters
“I’m really sorry you found this old song of mine raw and offensive,” Cooper wrote. “Actually, ‘Cold Ethyl’ is just a harmless number about necrophilia. What I would like to point out is that the kids aren’t bothered by it – their parents already are exactly what it is – satire, with a sense of humor to a rock ‘n’ roll beat. Children know I’m harmless. It’s her parents that make me kind of a monster.”
Ann Landers Book
Landers, whose column ran for 47 years before her death in 2002, didn’t budge. She again firmly disagreed and said so.
“For those who don’t know what necrophilia is, it’s having sex with someone who is dead,” Landers wrote. “You can call it funny if you like, Alice. i call it sick I like satire as much as anyone, but chopping off heads and spattering blood all over the place isn’t my idea of entertainment. I guillotined your Chicago number a few years ago and almost lost my dinner (I guess I’m an uncool cat.) You have some exceptionally talented performers in your group and you’re no slouch yourself, Alice. I just wish you would clean up your act.”
He did not do it. Cooper continued to use the guillotine on stage. He even offered to decapitate members of Motley Crue on the final stop of their 2015 tour together on Headaches.” — Abby
“You wouldn’t take a diamond and platinum brooch to try and pry open a jar of pickles, would you? Misusing sex amounts to the same thing” (Ann).
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About the authors: Identical twins Pauline and Esther Friedman, children of Jewish immigrants, were inseparable as children. As co-editors at Morningside College, they worked on an advice column for the school newspaper. They married in a double wedding. And they built careers to match – Esther became Ann Landers at the Chicago Sun-Times in 1955; Pauline because three months later Dear Abby appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle. Both columns were hits in syndication. Ann Landers eventually reached 90 million readers and Abby reached 80 million in 1995. Pauline’s daughter Jeanne Phillips began writing Dear Abby with her mother in 1987 and took over all writing duties in 2002 after Pauline was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. That was also the year Esther died, putting an end to the Ann Landers column.
The Ann-Abby Feud: Understandably, Esther resented Pauline’s decision to start a rival advice column. The sisters went through a period of estrangement that included the publication dates for these two books. In 2005, Esther’s daughter Margo Howard published a collection of letters she had received from her mother over the years. Complaints about “Popo” (Pauline’s family nickname) feature prominently. “I can’t cut her out of my life completely, no matter how crazy she gets,” he wrote in a 1981 letter. “She’s too much a part of me, but I have to protect myself from her somehow. It’s too unpredictable – and destructive.”
About the books: The titles of the books reflect their different emphases. Abby’s book covers a variety of teenage issues, from dating to dealing with teachers, from personal hygiene to smoking. Ann’s book is aimed squarely at the sex stuff. (That’s probably what most teens have skipped in comprehensive how-to books anyway.)
Changes in society have likely affected the difference in alignment. Although only four years separated the books, those four years saw rapid changes in sexual mores. “The Pill” became available as a contraceptive in 1960, and by 1963 America was on the brink of the sexual revolution. Of girls who turned 15 between 1954 and 1963, 48 percent had had premarital sex before age 20. For girls who turned 15 between 1964 and 1973, the number rose to 65 percent (source: The Alan Guttmacher Institute).
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Differences in Tone: Abby’s writing style is much cuter, and her book also has cute illustrations. Ann can get a bit cheeky but mostly adopts a down-to-earth style. This reflects a real difference in their early consulting style. As Time wrote in 1957, “Abby’s answers are smoother, quicker, and quicker.”
“If you’re under 18, there are more reasons not to remain stable than Elvis can imagine.”
“Housework, especially scrubbing the floor, is not only great for the female figure, it’s also good for the soul. And it will help you curb your appetite for sex. Cooking, baking and sewing prepare you for household chores. Energy channeled into these constructive channels leaves less energy for engaging in erotic fantasies.”
A common moose obsession? Abby’s book contains one of her most famous lines: “Girls need to prove their love through illegal sex relationships like a moose needs a hatrack.”
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Ann’s book reprints a letter from a girl with a loser boyfriend, and Ann’s response concludes, “You need that kid like a moose needs a hat rack.”
I don’t know which sister used the phrase first, but it didn’t come from either. Jack Benny made the phrase a running gag on his 1947 radio show.
The Double Standard: Abby took the double standard for male and female behavior for granted in 1959, while Ann rejected it in 1963.
Abby: “If a decent boy is serious about someone and thinks of marrying someone… that someone will be someone he respects.” Not all boys are angels, but most are looking for one.”
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Ann: “No man should insist on a girl with white flowers unless he is able to bring the same purity into the marriage.”
Homosexuality: Abby doesn’t mention homosexuality at all, but Ann devotes an entire chapter to it. This sets her book apart from the other teen advice books I have from the period – few advise teens to seek professional help if they are not developing attraction to the opposite sex.
Ann sounds really distressed about the mail she’s getting from desperate young gay people. “About 70 percent of the letters come from boys,” she writes. “Most boys who write are wracked with guilt and self-loathing. They live on the edge, afraid that someone will learn that they are not “like everyone else”… Many who write are so ashamed of their physical desires for members of their own sex that they speak of suicide.”
She accepts the psychiatric wisdom of the time that labeled homosexuality a mental disorder, but she encourages straight teens to be sympathetic to their gay peers who are “twisted and sick through no fault of their own.”
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Abby and Ann’s approach to homosexuality in their respective books was carried over into their newspaper columns. Abby mostly ignored the issue, and Ann stuck to her belief that homosexuality was a disorder until 1992, nearly two decades after the American Psychiatric Association stopped labeling it as one.
Ann’s WTF comment on homosexuality: “Some lesbians who despise men enjoy whetting up a man’s sexual appetite and then punish him with rejection.”
Abby’s least helpful advice: “…when everyone is picking on you – well – don’t look now, but maybe there’s something wrong with you!” (During my many years as a bully, that would have cut me like a knife.)
Abby’s most surprising piece of advice, which follows many chapters emphasizing inner beauty and the need for self-acceptance: “Well, maybe you’re one of those girls who fell a little short over the Equator. Hundreds of girls have written to me asking if it’s dishonest to enlist a little outside help (okay, “falsies!”) to get them moving forward. To that I say: ‘Buy all the attachments you need!’”
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On smoking and drinking: Both sisters discourage drinking in their teens. Ann describes the decision she made at a young age and maintained throughout her life to give up alcohol. Interestingly, her daughter Margo writes, “I was considered ‘sophisticated’ even as a high school girl. I smoke and drink scotch on the rocks.”
Ann has little to say about smoking; Abby raises several objections that do not involve health effects. She even pulls out a double standard: “Even if a guy happens to be a smoker himself, he prefers a girl who doesn’t smoke. It cheapens their looks. It dulls the illusion of sweetness.”
Abby’s most tongue-in-cheek use of a celebrity to make a moderation point: “Did Mickey Mantle tell Casey Stengel it was old-fashioned to ban smoking, drinking, or late hours during baseball season?” Of course not.”
“A nice girl won’t kiss—or kisses—on a first date, no matter how much she’s into the guy. If he’s worthy of being liked, he’ll respect you for it. Boys hold back your fire.”
Amazon.com: A Bintel Brief: Sixty Years Of Letters From The Lower East Side To The Jewish Daily Forward: 9780805209808: Isaac Metzker, Harry Golden: Books