Much easier to ruin a career than mess with a corporate cash cow
I’m biased, because I know Antonio Garcia-Martinez and something like the same thing once happened to me, but the decision by Apple to bend to a posse of internal complainers and fire him over a passage in a five-year-old book is ridiculous hypocrisy. Hypocrisy by the complainers, and defamatory cowardice by the bosses — about right for the Invasion of the Body Snatchers-style era of timorous conformity and duncecap monoculture the woke mobs at these places are trying to build as their new Jerusalem.
Garcia-Martinez is a brilliant, funny, multi-talented Cuban-American whose confessional memoir Chaos Monkeysis to big tech what Michael Lewis’s Liar’s Poker was to finance. A onetime high-level Facebook executive — he ran Facebook Ads — Antonio’s book shows the House of Zuckerberg to be a cult full of on-the-spectrum zealots who talked like justice activists while possessing the business ethics of Vlad the Impaler:
Facebook is full of true believers who really, really, really are not doing it for the money, and really, really will not stop until every man, woman, and child on earth is staring into a blue-framed window with a Facebook logo.
When I read Chaos Monkeys the first time I was annoyed, because this was Antonio’s third career at least — he’d also worked at Goldman, Sachs — and he tossed off a memorable bestseller like it was nothing. Nearly all autobiographies fail because the genre requires total honesty, and not only do few writers have the stomach for turning the razor on themselves, most still have one eye on future job offers or circles of friends, and so keep the bulk of their interesting thoughts sidelined — you’re usually reading a résumé, not a book.
Chaos Monkeys is not that. Garcia-Martinez is an immediately relatable narrator because in one breath he tells you exactly what he thinks of former colleagues (“A week before my last day, I had lunch with the only senior person at Goldman Sachs who was not an inveterate asshole”) and in the next explains, but does not excuse, the psychic quirks that have him chasing rings in some of the world’s most rapacious corporations. “Whenever membership in some exclusive club is up for grabs, I viciously fight to win it, even if only to reject membership when offered,” he wrote. “After all, echoing the eminent philosopher G. Marx: How good can a club be if it’s willing to have lowly me as a member?”
The irony is that if Garcia-Martinez has a failing as a writer, it’s that he’s too nice. Universally, the best writers are insane egomaniacs obsessed with staring at the great mirror that is the page. Garcia-Martinez, on the whole, would rather be sailing. I believe the reason he decided to go back to tech is that he preferred a quiet life of flying a desk to make mortgage payments to the never-ending regimen of self-salesmanship that the literary life requires (and which, again, is the easy part for most egocentric writers).
Anyway: Chaos Monkeys contains scenes from Antonio’s private relationships. Characteristically, they’re painted as comedies, where his personal life is depicted as an unpredictable third party over which he has little control — only occasionally, it seems, does it even listen to his suggestions. He meets a woman via Match.com whom he calls British Trader, “an imposing, broad-shouldered presence, six feet tall in bare feet, and towering over me in heels.”
He’s enthralled, but everything about her is a surprise that keeps him off balance, from the fact that her “strapping and strutting” South African ex-boyfriend docks a boat next to his not long after their first date, or that she sleeps on “a cheap foam mattress about the width of an extra-jumbo-sized menstrual pad” above a floor covered from detritus from a recent renovation. She did such work herself because, Antonio explains, “she made Bob Vila of This Old House look like a fucking pussy.” Even this side of her life has him tiptoeing. “Postcoitally it was all I could do to balance myself on the edge of the pad and off the drywall dust,” he noted.
Most women in the Bay Area are soft and weak, cosseted and naive despite their claims of worldliness, and generally full of shit. They have their self-regarding entitlement feminism, and ceaselessly vaunt their independence, but the reality is, come the epidemic plague or foreign invasion, they’d become precisely the sort of useless baggage you’d trade for a box of shotgun shells or a jerry can of diesel.
Out of context, you could, I guess, read this as bloviating from a would-be macho man beating his chest about how modern “entitlement feminism” would be unmasked as a chattering fraud in a Mad Max scenario. In context, he’s obviously not much of a shotgun-wielder himself and is actually explaining why he fell for a strong woman, as the next passage reveals:
Again, this is not a passage about women working in tech. It’s a throwaway line in a comedic recount of a romance that juxtaposes the woman he loves with the inadequate set of all others, a literary convention as old as writing itself. The only way to turn this into a commentary on the ability of women to work in Silicon Valley is if you do what Twitter naturally does and did, i.e. isolate the quote and surround it with mounds of James Damore references. More on this in a moment.
After trying the writer’s life, Antonio went back to work for Apple. A few crucial points. One, he was recruited. Apple reached out to him, not the other way around. He sold his house in Washington State for the job and terminated his media work as part of what he expected would be a long-term commitment to Apple. In the hiring process they asked a slew of questions and checked with numerous references, including about Chaos Monkeys. The company was fully aware of the book and its contents. It was a bestseller for a month, and an NPR book of the year.
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One Bad Apple ::: The Osmonds
One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show ::: Big Maybelle
Money Fall Out The Sky ::: Cool It Reba
Money In My Pocket ::: Dennis Brown