Lying is performance art

Years ago, against my prejudice, I allowed a friend to drag me to a species of — oh, that’s not fair — an event called performance art.

(Why were we sitting in the front row?)

My pre-judgment had been right. It was awful. More than awful. It gave me insight as to how some people grow up yearning to be performers or artists. At an early age, two or three, they kick start their careers, performing for adoring family members who offer oohs and aahs at the marvelously entertaining tots. Who are marvelously entertaining.

But — this is the crucial point — the adult family members never stop oohing and aahing, no matter how old the kid becomes. We can discuss the age at which an extroverted child just might be available for some qualified comment — I don’t mean criticism, not that — but a sense of, uh, a reduction in the worship quotient.

Anyway, there I was watching one or several seriously imperfect, desperate-for-attention people doing and saying and showing things on a makeshift stage in a makeshift theater well off-off-off-Broadway. Oy. It was amateur night at a eleven-year-old’s birthday party where entry should have been barred to anyone who wasn’t a blood relation.

If I’m trapped at something that bores or irritates me, my mind wanders and becomes open to brilliant revelations. Here was mine: a “performance artist” can be defined as someone not competent or persuasive at either performance or art.


Let’s skip to my new revelation. Performance artists are wonderfully excellent at…bald-face public lying!

Back when Trump elevatored his way into our consciousness, a whole bunch of us were, like, “Whaa? He’s lying.” Not to belabor the point, but we never worked our way toward understanding that a lot of people didn’t give a shit. Which was the only wonderment we had about Trump’s perpetual lies. Never occurred to us that blatant lies could attract an audience.

I mean, if you’re going to lie — and lie badly, baldly, stupidly — call yourself a performance artist, not a politician.

Seems clear that Trump opened the (stage) door to blatant liars (as well as other uglier things). Lies and propagating those lies became genuine performance art among Fox heads, Trump supporters and weird dopes like George Santos.

Which is why I hereby suggest we codify liars as performance artists by establishing an award for them. By doing so, we can cut down the endless columns of wearied journalists fact-checking, and commenting, and being yelled at for coming up with euphemisms for lies.

I don’t have a name for this award, nor a design idea. I’m leaving that to less creative minds than mine. Advice: think grotesque and re-cycled plastic.

I can, though, nominate as a leading candidate the guy whose tale — gleefully narrated in Kevin Underhill’s LoweringTheBar — follows:

Guess who still isn’t an Irish orphan named Arthur Knight? That’s right—Nicholas Rossi, the man wanted on rape and fraud charges in the U.S. who changed his identity, later faked his new identity’s death, then later turned up in Glasgow claiming to be this third person. Rossi is fighting extradition, and sticking with the hilarious conspiracy theory he offered to explain why he has the same distinctive tattoos as the U.S. criminal. See “Suspect Claiming Mistaken Identity Says Someone Tattooed Him Without His Knowledge” (Nov. 15, 2022). The BBC reported that Rossi had missed a court hearing due to an “altercation.” Rossi’s seventh lawyer (successively, he doesn’t have seven lawyers) said it was his client’s position that he had been assaulted by court staff, so that’s probably what happened.

Posted in Crime & Punishment, Culture, Journalism, political campaigns, Politics, Propaganda, The Facts of Life, Trumpism | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Some good news about guns? I think so

Kevin Underhill, the maestro of LoweringTheBar, just published a couple of (more or less) legal-fuck-up stories that go beyond funny. Although, of course, they’re funny.

A couple of times, Kevin (I don’t know him but I love him, and my heart is giving me permission to call him by his first name) has hit on (pun) some incidents involving hitmen. You know, the guys or gals who can be employed to hit somebody you don’t like. Fatally, presumably.

You’ll need to read these two cases Kevin cites — factual, if wacky, stories — before I explain why I think they present good news. Go:

Have we discussed “Rent-A-Hitman” before? We haven’t? Oh. Well, you should probably know that is a joke site that doesn’t actually provide hitman services, although according to its founder at least 30 people have been arrested because they thought it did. Nor should you send in your resumé if you are seeking employment as a hitman, as someone did this month. Also, my understanding is that hitmen generally do not prepare resumés at all.

I might have been thinking of this other case, where instead of doing the hit himself, the hitman subcontracted it to another hitman, apparently not foreseeing that his hitman might himself hire another hitman, or that this hitman would hire yet another hitman, who would hire a hitman, who would hire a hitman. With that many hitmen involved, somebody’s going to screw something up. See “Fourth-Level Subcontractor Ruins Murder Plot” (Oct. 23, 2019).**


Okay. Here’s why I consider these items good news.

According to whatever credible authority from which I picked up these numbers, we have something like 330 million people in this country, 258 million of whom are adults. Of these adults, 32 percent claim they own guns, i.e., 82 million.

But how many guns are privately owned in the United States? Around 393 million. That is, there are more guns than people in the U.S., although not everybody owns one. Which means some people own lots and lots. Indeed, we hear some people have arsenals in their homes. I can’t imagine what they imagine they’re going to do with all those guns. My stomach isn’t strong enough to slink into the thought processes of gun owners.

Here’s the good news: with all these guns owned by not entirely sane or intelligent people (owning a gun is, by my definition, dumb nuts), people whose gun ownership hints mildly at a propensity for violence and killing and murder…

Why haven’t all these gun owners put hitmen out of business? Why aren’t they doing the hits themselves?

You say because they’d rather pay for the service than be caught murdering someone and going directly to jail? Well, let me remind you of Kyle Rittenhouse, and of the deep evil of “stand your ground” and “self-defense” laws abounding in the areas where massive gun ownership combines with rage and murderous intentions. If these guys can’t set themselves up for impunity after murdering someone…well, what does it say about their smarts?

Another thought. Men with all these guns have friends with guns. I’m sure they have gun clubs and shooting clubs where an enterprising pre-murderer might suggest to a pal, “Hey, d’ya have anyone you want to kill because we could do a switcheroo, set up solid alibis and no one would figure it out, right?”

I’m not going to be the one to summarize Strangers On A Train for these guys, partly because Patricia Highsmith creeps me out, but feel free yourselves to —

Anyway, my point is: instead of using their 393 million guns to murder someone they’re pissed at, they’re trying to hire hitmen. Hitmen. (Whose Yelp ratings in China, I’ll bet, have skidded off a cliff lately; see above, re subcontracting).

Wimps, pussies, loud bullies. All yelling mouths, all Nazi t-shirts and masks. It’s performance art. I mean, they’re carrying their guns into delis to order egg salad sandwiches for lunch. Right.

I’m seeing this as good news.

** Yes, I realize this happened in China. But let’s face it: China exports HUGE amounts of its product to us, so even if hitman subcontractors don’t show up in an aisle at Walmart, the pattern will.



Posted in Crime & Punishment, Fascism, Good Things Happening, Guns in the U.S. of A., Racism, The Facts of Life | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Woke” Chronicles: Donald Trump said something that grabbed me

Not what you think and not where you think.

It came when his videotaped bizarre deposition in the E. Jean Carroll lawsuit was shown on various media. It was remarkably disgusting, even for Trump, when he robotically claimed yet again, among other things, that his celebrity allowed him to assault women.

Then he rambled on to say that this male behavior has been going on for “millions of years,” as if because men have been sexually violent to women for a long time, it makes it all right, or not within his power to control himself.

A few months ago, I was prompted by a wonderfully enchanting essay in the New Yorker about a new Ovid translation by the always wonderfully enchanting Daniel Mendelsohn, to locate a nice edition of Ovid I had on my shelves, one I’d never opened.

My hard luck. Instead of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the primary subject of Mendelsohn’s essay, my Ovid was limited to On Love: Being the “Ars Amatoria” and the “Amores.”

Ovid, born Publius Ovidius Naso in 43 B.C.E., used the word “love” to entitle his work, a lyrical advice manual for men about how to sexually assault women, even rape them if they persist in resisting. (Not to worry, though, Ovid says; after it’s over, the woman will be grateful. Oh yes, he does say that.)

Ovid offers elaborate details. More correctly, it should be the word “lust” (libido or cupiditas) in the title, although Ars Libido loses that nice alliteration (always great for titles), as well as logic. (Is there art in lust? Doubt it. Not even if you bring posies.)

In effect, Ovid’s Ars Amatoria would be the reading material Trump devours when he’s on the toilet, except that Trump is probably illiterate and would never appreciate the subtle, lengthy approaches Ovid recommends.

I got fairly disgusted with Ars quickly, especially because, even with the grace of poetry, it really does read like discovery in a MeToo trial. Has it always been thus?

Don’t answer. Please.

But since a further section of Ovid’s Ars is entitled, “Advice To the Girls” [sic!], I figured he who advises “young men” how to grab women should be given a chance to tell girls how to fend off male attacks and/or to progress into a worthwhile relationship with a young man.

Even as I type this, I can hardly believe what I’m going to tell you: Ovid’s advice to young ladies reads like a teenage girls’ magazine from the 1950’s. He tells girls how to dress, how to put on make-up and what make-up to put on (he likes smoky eyeliner), depending on the shape of the face and the color of the skin, both of which must be considered when the girl chooses a hair style (“don’t allow your hair to be lawless”). Jewelry is not neglected, either, nor the color choices in dresses.

And he really gets into the weeds when he tells girls they’d better shave the “goat hair” on their armpits and legs. (Later on, he also deals with abortion. He’s anti.)

Ovid is unforgiveable. Nor can he placate me with one poem in which he specifically, if lyrically, tells us everything about a shameful night in bed when he couldn’t get it up.

Ovid’s 2000-year-old attitude to women hasn’t aged even a decade. Reading him felt exactly like confronting the existence of Trump. How disheartening and enraging.

Posted in "Woke" Chronicles, Culture, The Facts of Life, Trumpism, War on women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment