Editorial: Birds of a Feather

by Bob Hoffman,
Strength & Health
June, 1958

Birds of a feather flock together is an old adage. And like seeks like. A rat is everything that is opposite to goodness, purity, and gentleness; it is debased, filthy, frequently diseased, certainly evil and malicious -- yet a rat has friends -- at least other rats live and associate with it. A rat even finds love of a sort, for rats do mate. We think that skunks smell badly at times, but skunks have friends too; they live with other skunks and they mate and reproduce. We think that jackals and hyenas are about as low on the mammalian scale as they can be, for they eat carrion, are cowardly and vicious, and they eat their victims only when they are thoroughly ripe. Yet they too have friends of a sort, for they go around in packs.

Yes, birds of a feather flock together. There is a lid for every pot. Even the most degraded types of humans have their friends and associates. Like attracts like on every level. There are humans who are counterparts in every way of the rats and vile scavengers described in the paragraph above. Their friends and followers must be of the very same type, because they approve of the things their masters do.

Evidently there are a lot of people who enjoy reading and hearing vicious, malicious stories filled with lies and half-truths about people and prominence and good reputation. Confidential magazines became one of the biggest sellers because people rush to read the type of stories its publishers feature. Usually one who is defamed in this manner has no way to combat the allegations made by his attackers. Too many people think that a thing must be true if it appears in print. They believe the most monstrous lies that can be told. Telling the truth after the lies have appeard in public rarely helps the maligned person, for even when a statement is poved to be a false, base lie, many people who read the lie fail to reat the refuation, and many of those that do don't believe the truth when it does appear. And so the liars go on and on. You read about them every day. They cover the earth. They attack their neighbors, they attack Dulles, they attach President Eisenhower, they castigate other leaders of our country; They attack our beloved United States. Untruths go out by the millions. The Russian radio, the Chinese radio, the Cairo radio are good examples.

In our own wonderful sport we have a small Hitler, a small Stalin, one who is a master in all the despicable tactics imaginable. The poor fellows he lies about can do nothing to gain relief. He claims them as pupils, he claims that all they are and all they hope to be is the result of his food supplements. They write to us by the score, and they tell us that they never took his course, never ate a mouthful of his food products, that they have no contact with him. But he goes on making his claims and exploiting them just the same.

He is smooth, he is slippery. A battery of smart lawyers behind him tell him just how far he can go. One of these fine days, however, he will go too far. We think he has gone too far now, that we have ammunitino enough to prove slander and to win a defamation of character case from him in open court. We know that it is difficult to tie down a smooth operator of his ilk. So often all the evidence in the world plus expensive lawyers fail to insure justice because of the caprices of a single juror. Confidential continues to be published in spite of the millions of dollars spent by the government, because a hung jury caused a mistrial to be declared.

Legal action is one thing, but there is another surer way to combat this evil force. If you don't like the way Weider does things, don't read his magazines. If you approve of his methods, by all means,buy his publications. Buy several, hand them out to your firneds. But if you buy his magazines, don't buy Strength & Health. If you're his type, we don't want your business. Birds of a feather do flock together, and we don't want any Wieder birds connected with us. We like the fellows who are good, clean, ambitious, self-improvement seeking, patriotic citizens, men who want to make the most of themselves mentally, morally, and physically. We want nothing to do with the other kind, for we can do nothing for or about them.

Yes, friend reader, it is time for birds of a feather to flock together. It is time for you to choose sides. If you have any difficulty, or if there are any doubts in your mind, you belong on the ohter side. All this character to who we are referring really cares about is making money. He has no interest in the game itself. He most certainly does not like me, and there isn't much doubt about the fact that he has no love for Grimek, Stanko, Terpak, Bacon, Shandor, Utterback, Bachtell, Dietz, Mitchell, all members of our staff who average mor than 20 years each with Strength & Health. We know he did not like the late Harry Paschall, for he persists in publishing the vilest kind of slander about Harry even though the man has been dead for more than six months. Like the vulturous jackal he is, he feasts on a dead man, and licks his lips at that ! What decency, what courage !

It's impossible to play on two sides at once. You have to play on either one team or the other. We hope that those of you who want to play on our team will gather around us, back us to the limit as you have done. We hope that our friends, that you will say you are in agreement with the work we are doing and have done. Birds of the other feather can flock the other way.

Charlie Smith, the first of Weider's hatchet men, ended up getting the same hatchet buried in his own neck. Then Barton Horvath took over and made vicious attacks upon us, upon the A.A.U.; and now there is another hack hatchet man pouring out the same vicious slander. He hides behind fictitious names and the names of innocent dupes. Who in his right mind would believe that Leroy Colbert wrote the article attributed to him in the latest blast against us ? What could be lower or more detestable ? Weider is suppose to be worth two million dollars at present. I was told that 20 years ago he was washing dishes in Montreal. That's quite a financial success. By advertising York barbells in his first magazine for several years, we aided in getting him underway in this business. But all of you will have to admit that a man has to be quite a genius with figures to make two million dollars in the face of today's high taxes. I often wonder what anyone else in the Weider organization has made. Charlie Smith could barely make ends meet on what he was paid, and when he could no longer tolerate the stench, he left. Horvath, when he came to Virginia Beach and served his master by making up a story filled with the Big Lie technique, was driving a car so desperately old that I don't see how he got it back to Union City. Horvath has also been jetisoned. In contrast, after publishing Strength & Health for 25 years, I am not as well off financially as I was when I started. The company I sold out when I decided to make the muscle game my life's work now has more than 700 employees. It does a vast business with the patents and equipment we sold the new owners. I could have made millions in that line had I chose to remain.

All of the men whos names I have mentioned previously and a great many others have benefitted considerably from this magazine and barbell business. They have nice homes, good cars, a fair amount of money saved for a rainy day. Judge for yourself -- would these men have remained with me and worked for me for an average of 20 years if I were hard to work with or did not deal fairly with them ? on the other hand, I wonder if Weider has even one man on his staff who was with him even three years ago ?

Experience has proved that the Big Lie technique does sell magazines. Weider knows that people will read his magazines to see what new (or usually time-worn and oft repeated) diatribe he has to offer. Personally I would not insult my eyes by reading even one of his magazines to see what he has to say about me or any member of our staff. When one considers the source, how or why could one worry about it ? What does hurt though is the harm Weider is causing to our iron game with his publications. He is apparently trying to discredit everyone connected with the sport except himself. At the last convention fo the National A.A.U. there was considerable discussion about the blatant attacks upon the A.A.U. and its officials by the Weider publications. Officials of the organization are planning to bring legal action against Weider, for when he endlessly accuses the judges of the big physique contests of being dishonest, imcompetent, and unfair he is hurting the 70-year-old A.A.U. by making a laughing stock of our amateur athletic organization abroad, and in so doing causing our beloved nation incalculable harm and loss of prestige.

When you read Weider's magazines, friend reader, whether it is to see the pictures, to see what he has to say in general, or just to see how the dog fight is progressing, you are helping him buy his next Cadillac or take his next trip to Paris. This brings back to mind the Virginia Beach Mr. Universe contest. Weeks before it took place we announced that the second place man would be sent to London at our expense to compete in the English version of the contest bearing that name. To have sent the winner, Mr. Universe, to compete for a title he already held would have been utterly ridiculous. So we sent Ray Schaefer. In London Weider invited him to a rip snorting all-expense trip to "Gay Paree." Schafer went, then signed with Weider, and now Weider owns him, body and soul, can claim him as a pupil, say anything he wants to about Schaefer's training or his use of Weider food supplements. He tried to do the same thing in 1957 when we sent Ron Lacy over to compete in the Mr. Universe event. But Lacy is a man, a real man. He told Weider and he told the world that he is a York man, that he owes his success largely to York Barbells, Strength & Health, and Bob Hoffman, and that furthermore, he is sticking with York. Schaefer is not our kind of bird, Lacy is. Klisanin, Farbotnik, Hilligen, Perl, Frank Leight, Grimek, Stanko, and Bacon, all Mr. America winners, are our kind of birds. They stick with York because they are honest, because they cannot be bought. Others who began as York men and who reached the top as York men, sold their souls for a few pieces of silver, sold their honesty and their integrity for a mess of potage. What causes a man to do that ? Avariciousness ? Egotism ? A desire to see his pictures constanttly in the magazines ? The opposition has a number of magazines, we have only one -- and so he has much more room to tell of the exploits of his stooges and promulgate his lies.

Now I know that the average reader of Strength & Health is not interested in the private life of Hoffman any more than he is of the life of Weider. Our readers want interesting, instructive reading dealing with training methods, muscle building methods, health hints, weightlifting news. I dislike intensely having to use a single page to comment on what my friends tell me Weider has been saying about me and my associates. The same friends have urged me to retaliate in kind against Weider. We now have a professional investigator on our staff whos skills could be put to use chronicling Weider's history from his original dirty diaper days right up to the present, and no doubt plenty of soiled linen would come to light as a result of any efforts along that line. But Strength & Health is a physical fitness journal, not an expose magazine. If expose material is what you want, you will have to buy and read some other magazine.

No one is perfect, but I try to lead as near a perfect life as I can. My entire time is spent endeavoring to help others, to help the readers of this magazine be stronger, healthier, wealthier, happier, more successful, to help them live longer and live more fully. I believe in and try to follow the Golden Rule in all my tranactions. This is not a profitable business for me. Other means and other interests provide my living expenses. In contrast, Weider is money mad. His only desire is to make money for himself. He feels that by attacking us he will hurt our business and increase his own income. Nothing would make him happier than to put us out of business. The amusing -- and gratifying to us -- part of the whole matter is that our receipts have never been better. Business has actually increased since the advent of the latest series of smear articles against us in the Weider publications !

In my 60 years of life I have accomplished much, and I consider myself to be a success. Only twice in all those years have I been in minor trouble. Once I was accused of hitting a man. Any objective person who knows the details of that incident would tell you that that man asked for trouble and that he got only what he was looking for. At present we are involved in a case with the Internal Revenue people of the federal government. In a nutshell, the government is trying to charge me tax on the hundreds of thousands of dollars I have spent to foster weightlifting. They now claim I owe taxes on the money that was spent to send American teams to world championships in Holland, France, Germany, Sweden, on money that bought tickets to send John Davis, Stan Stanczyk and many others to national championships year after year. They also want me to pay tax on my donations to the A.A.U., the Y.M.C.A, the Y.W.C.A., and the Olympic Fund. The way my bookkeepers, auditors tax advisors, and myself look at it, these expenditures are tax free, and I will continue to believe this until a judge or a jury decide otherwise.

It is truly a shame that a man who uses tactics like Weider has entered and hurt the game we love so well. At the A.A.U. and Olympic meetings last November we spent five days with Peary Rader, the publisher-editor of Iron Man magazine. We have know Peary for a long, long time. Occasionally he writes something we disagree with, and more than once he has taken exception of opinions or statements I have made, but after all, it is a free country. The point is that neither Peary nor myself let personalities enter into our differences of opinion. We are friends, and both of us are working for the good of the game. People with a sincere interest in a cause, those in kindred occupations, should get together and see what they can do to help the whole. How nice it would be if such a spirit existed universally in this field.

When you get right down to brass tacks, you, the buyers of the magazines, actually control the situation. If youdo not buy Strength & Health, we can always give up and engage in some other business. If you approve of Weider's methos and tactics, his are the magazines you should purchase. But if you buy his publications only to see the pictures, do without the pictures for a few months, refrain from buying his magazines. Maybe then he'll try to act a little more like a human being.

Strength & Health is a big magazine. You can't hide it in an inner pocket. We hope you will carry Strength & Health in the open for all to see. If you carry the opposition's magazines, we will know that you have taken sides against us, that you are a bird of a different feather, that you are not one of our friends. Now is the time to count our friends. Are you with us ? If so, let us hear from you , for as the colonial patriot said, we must all hang together or we will hang separately. We have worked for 35 years to build this game of weightlifting and bodybuilding. Are we going to stand by and let it be torn down now ?