Editing Adolf 

Dubious and far-fetched ideas.
Aug. 16 2000 3:00 AM

Editing Adolf 

He's feisty about semicolons. He explodes when you step on his voice. He's Hitler—and when you rewrite this guy, you're in for a war. 

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O, Vienna! While it is true that no man can possess you, perhaps, having scaled those heights which I never dreamt possible when I was a tyro—poor, and lost in her cruel, lyrical streets—I now must blah blah …

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That's still a little raw, but you get the idea. As you'll see from my follow-up cable, I've made similar small tweaks throughout. But (important!) I'm not Hitler, you are, so please take these emendations in the spirit intended: as mere daubs of modeling clay, with the real spit-and-polish work still to be done by you, The Master. Whatever happens, for the sake of your work please try not to restore wording I already crossed out or fly off the handle. I don't agree with Potler on many issues, but he's right when he says that it simply does not help the process when you phone us and splutter and fire pistol shots into the receiver.

Onward. You ran with the artsy crowd in Vienna, right? That's not coming through at all, and I notice that you never describe the weather, name any streets, eat any meals, or talk to any people. Were you in Austria from 1905-14, or just waving at it from a dirigible? Where are the poets, rogues, dames, diamond thieves, painters, madmen, and lovers? Though I've never had the pleasure of going there, Vienna conjures up such a rich palette of images and associations—the mighty Danube swelling its banks, the rhythmic clop clops echoing from the Spanish Riding School, the wiener stands billowing cozy aromas in front of the Gothic majesty of St. Stephen's—that I went ahead and slotted some of that stuff in. I also added a couple of characters who, I hope, are similar to the colorful types you might have known in your day. (If not, I need new colorful characters from you—pronto.)

Well, that's about it. The research nannies are griping about a few tiny points—such as: What's your source for the Earth being "hollow"?—but to be honest, Chief doesn't seem too worried. As for me, I gotta run! Thirty thousand words of unedited Winston Churchill just crash-landed on my desk, it looks to be about his vacation in Manitoba and Alberta (zzzzz), and I can't even read the $#@!& thing for all the Scotch stains and cigar burns. Do you know this guy? He tends to be stubborn, so I have a feeling I'm in for an uphill fight.

Alex Heard is the editorial director ofOutsidemagazine.

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