Friday, November 30, 2007

Point And Counterpoint

On November 29, the following comments were attached to my article "Statements That Strain Credibility." The anonymous poster (who has since identified himself as "Eric") was lucid and touched on several subjects that are worth addressing. I have moved them to the front page so I can address them here.

"It is clear from the book that Matovina has something against Kathie Molland. He never passes up an opportunity to mention something negative about her (e.g., getting overdressed for George Harrison - geez, let's crucify her), he chose numerous photos of her which are unflattering, especially the most recent photos (and for some reason many of them show her with a beverage in her hand - what is Matovina going out of his way to insinuate?) and he ignored the fact that, ultimately, she was 100% justified in her frustration with the band's managerial situation."

I say none of this is "clear." Marianne Evans (echoing Tom Evans) is the one who complained about Kathie during the Harrison sessions, so obviously she felt the incident was noteworthy. The author relayed the information. How do you know which photos were available to the author for publication? Perhaps all he had were photos of Kathie holding beverages, or perhaps these were the only ones that could be licensed or were in public domain. Maybe she is often holding a drink when photographers are available. Maybe she's a heavy drinker. No one in the book insinuates that she drinks a lot so I never came to that conclusion, and I doubt that anyone else would either.

"Imagine standing by helplessly while your spouse's career is being sabotaged by a crooked manager. Imagine voicing your concerns and having them dismissed by people who choose to live in denial.* Wouldn't you feel like kicking a car door? Wouldn't you try to call a meeting to address the siuation? I mean, who's the real villian of this story? It's obviously Stan Polley, but the way Matovina depicts Kathie Molland, you might not be so sure that she isn't more of a villian than Polley. Clearly, Joey has a right to take issue with the way his wife is portrayed. I'm not saying either of them is a saint, but come on!"

How do you know what Pete and Kathie argued about on that day? According to the Mollands, Pete and Kathie only ever argued about Polley and management. According to everyone else, that's not true. Reportedly, Kathie argued with everyone about everything; about what songs should go on albums, how many Joey songs should be included, the use of their rehearsal room, personal relationships, etc. For all you know Kathie wanted to initiate a meeting about how long people may use the communal bathroom. You draw conclusions based bias, and that bias favors the Mollands.

Of course Stan Polley is the villain of the story. This is quite clear through the interviews of Christie, Kooper, Calello, Poses, and myriad assorted attorneys, executives and associates of Polley. Matovina presents them all, and they lay it on quite thick. Just because Polley is the "villain" isn't an excuse to whitewash other elements of the story. It is abundantly clear from any perspective you choose that Kathie was a continual disruption for the band. It's pretty obvious that the participants wanted to convey that fact, and the author presents it. To deny that she was a disruption is the "denial" you should be referring to.

"And, Bill, before you ask - no, I will not cite pages or type out quotations because 1) I don't have the book with me now, 2) I don't have the time and 3) I don't have to - we've all read the book and we all know what I'm talking about."

No big deal. I located the portions you referred to.

"Also, does Ron's quote not indicate that he was given a check by Bill Collins?? Joey never recants his claim that this money exchanged hands - he only says he is not certain where the money came from and when it was paid. This is totally understandable because he was not personally involved in the transaction. Anything else about Ron's misunderstanding of the arrangement is not Joey's fault. Furthermore, are we to assume that Joey is telling the truth when he says he had to assume Ron's share of the band's debt upon joining? You did not attempt to refute that statement, Bill. Point is, this is supposed to be an example of Joey contradicting himself, but I don't see it."

Not really contradicting himself, but being forced to explain his negative innuendo. Read again what Joey suggests in his first statement, what he insinuates that he knows about Ron Griffiths and the negative image he applies to him. Then again read his backtracking in the second statement, where he basically admits he knows nothing about the event. He's forced to admit he's "guessing" as to what happened. This is from the same person who claims to be the astronaut - the only person capable of telling the Badfinger story. What kind of accuracy would you expect from him in his authorized biography?

"*Re: denial. Pete chose to deny what everyone else knew about the band's managerial situation. Why? Not because he was a pie-in-the-sky dreamer who believed the world is a place where we should all be "allowed to love and trust everybody," but because he wanted to avoid conflict with Polley. My evidence? 1) The interview on the "Without You" cd in which Pete discusses the themes behind "Perfection" - clearly he knew that the world is an imperfect place where utopian ideals do not exist. He was not a fool. 2) The book says he was involved and interested in the business aspects of the band - he liked interacting with business-types and they respected him. Would they respect him if he was just a spacy hippie who rambled on about love and trust when it came to matters of business? I doubt it. 3) The book is clear about his desire to avoid conflict whenever possible. Could it be that his uncharacteristic blowout with Kathie Molland was triggered by his knowing that she was in the right? In short, Pete knew the score but wanted to avoid the conflict that would have resulted from addressing the problems."

None of the info here is revelatory. You've drawn your own conclusions based on long-established facts. I don't agree with your conclusions, but all anyone can do is speculate about what Pete really thought about Polley at any given time. Poses warned him about Polley in 1972, so I suspect he probably had deep-down suspicions regarding him. You believe those suspicions were more conscious than I believe they were. But as far as Kathie being "in the right" ... I don't think anyone has ever claimed she was wrong about Polley. The point is there were a lot of people sending alarms out about Polley, not just Kathie. And no one has ever said Pete was right about Polley either.

"Lastly (and this is obviously a touchy subject), the book never criticizes Pete for two key decisions. First, he had the power to decide to take action against Polley and did not - the band needed his vote to make a move. In doing so, he ensured that the band would continue to get screwed in spite of the fact that by the end they all knew what was going on. Could this knowledge be the source of the "guilt" that caused him to put cigarettes out on his hands?"

I have no clue what prompted the cigarette bit. That was an insane act. But if you want to speculate on the facts, how about this: Did you notice that the Apple check that Joey and Tom stopped was the first check from Apple in 2 years? McCartney had the company's assets locked up in a lawsuit until mid-1974, and when these two-years' worth of funds finally get released to Badfinger, the check is stopped. So Polley's Badfinger income was certainly limited during that time. In reaction to Joey and Tom stopping the check, Polley may have stopped the paychecks to the band. If they hadn't halted that check, what would have happened? That's some of my speculation.

"Second, Pete (God rest his soul) committed the ultimate act of selfishness rather than confront the problem and in doing so drastically reduced the odds that the band would remain a viable commerical entity, which is what they would have needed to recover from their years of mismanagement. "

As far as the band remaining a viable entity, I doubt any of them were thinking about that - not just Pete. Joey tried to keep Pete out of the band, and then quit when Pete returned. How viable did that make Badfinger? Anyway, it's unlikely the band would have ever recovered. It wasn't until after Pete's death that Polley relinquished his interest in the band, and he wouldn't have done that with Pete still alive.

"Yes, it is uncomfortable to raise these issues, but the point is that Pete was a flawed man (like we all are - but these flaws manifested to the detriment of his friends) and this is not Joey Molland's fault. Everyone looks for a scapegoat to whom they can direct their frustration at the band's demise and Joey is the most visible and obvious target. But that doesn't necessarily make it right."

I don't see anyone in the book blaming Joey for Pete's death.

(This turned into more of a "rant" than I planned - usually I would take more care in constructing an argument. But the core ideas I meant to convey are there. Also, if I sound mean-spirited, it is not intentional. I just enjoy a good debate.)
PS - I am not a Joey follower, crony, minion or whatever other terms you can think of. I have no personal interest in this aside from the fact that I am a fan of the group.

Judging by your knowledge of the band and your fervor about how the Mollands are portrayed in the book, I find this very hard to believe. There are basically three camps of Badfinger fans on the Internet: Defenders of the Mollands, defenders of the book, and people who aren't interested in the politics. If you don't fall into the last two categories then you must be in the first.

A Bit More On Kathie

For some time ahead of the actual publication of the book, both Joey and Kathie Molland were commenting in magazine articles and on the Internet about how the book would be inaccurate. They had no idea who was going to be interviewed, what information would be presented, but they supposedly had a sixth sense about it. Subsequent to the book's release their tactics have remained the same. They never address the people who commented in the book, but instead continually attack the author. The logical conclusion here is that the Mollands knew beforehand how people felt about them, and they wanted to throw the first punch by attacking the book and author ahead of the game. They continue along this track because dealing with all of the individual comments in the book would be too overwhelming for them, so they claim (truthfully or not) to have never read the book. This lets them off the hook for addressing what their peers have actually said about them.

As far as Matovina goes, again, all of the Mollands' complaints about the author (as suggested by the above person) boil down to him having some sort of agenda against them. He would have had to manipulate interviews and information to paint an inaccurate picture. However, this conspiracy theory is shot down by the fact that the interviewees of the book stand by its presentation. They do not step forward and claim they complimented the Mollands but only the negative comments were printed. They do not step forward and say they were misquoted. On the contrary, the participants who have made public statements after the book was released have only supported the book and the author. The Mollands and their defenders conveniently ignore this glaring fact.

Having read Kathie Molland's comments on the Internet for the past 10 years, I am most confident she was accurately portrayed in the book. The attitude that I have witnessed online surpasses even what was suggested by her peers in the book. So when people come along and claim the author must have had an agenda against the Mollands, or Kathie specifically, certain reasons come quickly to mind. The person is either a friend or a hardcore fan of the Mollands and they are in denial, or they haven't been following her commentaries online.

I have considered posting an article here with nothing more than online comments Kathie has made throughout the years, along with dates and sources. No accompanying commentary from me, just her words standing on their own. Perhaps this is what's needed for those who are uninitiated with her thoughts. Whether or not I pursue this will depend on my available time, as it will be a daunting task to go through 10 years' worth of postings to make the compilation.