The Career Path Less Traveled By

In September 2012 Tony Ortega was fired from  The Village Voice for, among other things, his obsessive blogging about Scientology and Scientologists. Ortega would loudly declare to anyone willing to listen that he had chosen to “resign” in order to devote more time to writing an anti-Scientology book—as if there were some clamoring need in the market for such exhaustedly rehashed subject matter.

But Ortega had a trick up his sleeve. His book was going to be different. His subject, as it turned out, was not actually Scientology but rather about the bizarre case of Paulette Cooper, a mentally unstable tabloid writer 40 years past her prime.

It should come as any surprise that Ortega would idolize Cooper, considering they’re both cut from the same cloth and have never been able to establish legitimate careers in legitimate journalism. Both cut their teeth in the tabloid ghetto. Both had their careers crushed in the race to the bottom.

To give you a taste of Paulette’s writing resume, it included such stories as: The 100 Top Psychics in America,  277 Secrets Your Cat Wants You to Know,  277 Secrets Your Dog  Wants You to Know,  and crowd favorite,  277 Secrets Your Snake and Lizard Wants You to Know.

Little wonder Tony Ortega felt an instant connection with her. Instead of urging her to sue the psychiatrists who were responsible for her mental breakdown, however, Ortega only saw opportunity to take advantage of her shaky grasp on reality. He thought he might be able to gin up enough sensation from Cooper’s tragic life to have a best seller on his hands.

He was wrong.

The book’s sales turned out to be woefully underwhelming. A tipster told us that Ortega bought several copies of his own book from Amazon to boost his sales but the cheating didn’t help the sales either. He was later seen selling his book at a “discounted” price in the Florida streets.

Ortega’s book fiasco must have come as bitter disappointment to the two or three dozen blog readers who make up his readership these days. Not that he would have had too many more readers had he stayed at the Voice, whose circulation he also helped drive into the ground.  It’s as if career paths converged in a wood, and Ortega chose the path less travelled by.  And less read. And less relevant. And less successful.

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