Advice Goddess Amy Alkon has long been a favorite of newspaper feature editors starving for good syndicated material. But after years living in L.A., winning awards at L.A. Press Club (and even being a finalist for Journalist of the Year this past year), she still wasn’t running anywhere locally. That all ends tomorrow, when the local lovely will begin appearing in Citybeat.
To celebrate, she sat down with FBLA, and in a tribute to the Goddess’s patience, answered our patented Stupid Questions:
1.You’ve been dispensing advice for quite some time. What types of questions (if any) stump you? There was this heartbreaking question about what to tell a child who doesn’t have a daddy. He’d go up to men everywhere, even those of races other than his own, and ask them if they were his daddy. In my own life, I’m rather atypical — I don’t want children and would never get married or live with anyone — but when it comes to what parents owe kids, I’m just to the right of Dr. Laura.
2. We all think we have the answers. Have you ever looked back at past columns and thought, “Wow, that was bad advice!” No. I don’t write a daily column because I might end up saying that if I did. In fact, I think it’s kind of irresponsible to write a daily advice column, and I turned down an offer to do one. I have a week to research and fret over every column I put out. Any idiotic ideas I might have get deleted by the time I’m done.
3. What’s the angriest/ugliest thing any reader has ever hurled your way? A guy called me all sorts of names — ones that will get your site restricted from various public servers if I quote them. He got mad that I referenced economist Adam Smith’s “The Theory of Moral Sentiments” because it’s a book from the 18th century. I guess he was under the impression that information putrifies, like eggs. I could’ve referenced a book by still-kicking Cornell professor/economist Robert H. Frank, who builds on Smith’s work in “Passions Within Reason,” but I thought it was kind of fun to turn old Adam Smith into Ann Landers.
4. Whom do you turn to for advice? Personally or professionally, I try to go to the best in the field.
Personally, having been a recent victim of identity theft (Bank of America’s tellers, on seven separate occasions, gave $12,000 of my money to thieves with only a fake driver’s license with the wrong expiration date), I’ve turned to Mari Frank, a lawyer and identity theft expert. Here’s a Frontline interview with her. I highly recommend her book, “From Victim to Victor,” which comes with a CD with all the letters you need to write to credit bureaus, etc. You can buy it on her site, as I did, but a little advice: It’s cheaper on Amazon.
For my column, I’ll read a lot of studies, and annoy the crap out of various professors to make sure I’ve gotten stuff right. Locally, or kind of locally, a few I turn to are UCLA’s Martie Haselton, University of Redlands’ Catherine Salmon, and Sonja Lyubomirsky at UC Riverside. Interestingly, they all happen to be babes.