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“She pissed off the Queen, now she’s dead ”Why Brits Are Loopier Than Americans Re: Fruitcake Conspiracy Theories?

24 Feb

Why Are The Brits Even More Loopy Than Americans When it Comes to Fruitcake Conspiracy Theories?

By Nate Thayer

February 24, 2013

Some may recall that in December 2012 a couple of radio disc jockey pranksters in Australia called the London hospital where the pregnant Princess whatever-her-name-is was staying having taken ill with tummy troubles. The Aussie jokesters told the nurse on duty who answered the phone that they were the Queen of England and inquired about the well-being and status of their “grand-daughter.”

The nurse believed them and they engaged in a non-substantive, but recorded, conversation as to how the Princesses was feeling that resulted in a minor global hullabaloo after the joke was broadcast in Oz.

The blaring British tabloids didn’t damper the incident and  a few days later the unfortunate and gullible nurse committed suicide.

That is when things got rather decidedly wonky.

What struck me—and motivated me to write the December 2012 story– was the extraordinary number of complete nutcases and the most inane conspiracy theorists who dominated the chattering classes on social media.

These people were seriously forwarding theories convinced that the poor nurse was the victim of a royal murder plot.

So I wrote an obvious tongue in cheek spoof story on my blog titled: BREAKING NEWS: Dark Hand of British Royal Family Behind Secret Murder of Kate’s Morning Sickness Nurse “She pissed off the Queen, now she’s dead.”–Twitter Ace Journalist

After my byline, Nate Thayer, I accorded myself the job title “Senior News Ombudsman for World Social Media Operations”

That should, I would have thought, been a clue that my tongue was firmly in my cheek.

The story began as follows:

The UK nurse at hospital where pregnant Kate Middleton was resting with morning sickness and  answered the prank phone call from two  male Aussie radio DJ’s saying they were Queen Elizabeth asking ”Hello, I’m just looking after my granddaughter, Kate. I wanted to see how her little tummy bug is going?” has been found dead.

Fortunately the crack professionals of social media, which has effectively replaced what use to be the job of the now widely agreed to be the untrustworthy, sensationalist, incompetent institution known as the “Mainstream Media” of journalism is on the case and a well-informed citizenry is in safe hands.

‘I believe the royal family and the British secret agents killed the nurse. It is not the first time. Remember what happened to Diana”–Twitter Crack Reporter'”

The story followed with a series of other outlandish quotes I culled from Twitter and other social media that any—I thought—any half-sensible reader would interpret for what they were—complete and utter poppycock.

I am still scratching my head and continue to be entirely flummoxed and more than a little concerned to have found that almost all the readers of the story—the entirety of it published below—took the story seriously as if I was writing a straight news article.

Every single comment I have received has been from those who agreed the Royal family was behind the death of the poor nurse, because….well they did not say because why, actually.

The story, for no discernible reason, still more than a year later ranks as one of the most read stories on my blog. I received another comment today on it:

“Or perhaps it’s a ‘warning signal’ that if anyone else tried to go near the Royal Family or doesn’t do their job properly, they will be grave consciences. The nurse let her guard down and so the ‘secret Royal guardian forces’ put her down. That’s why everyone else under the watch of the Royals has to do their job properly and those wanting to cause grave harm to them have been warned. Bottom line is The Royal Family has to be viewed as powerful and influential people. Its up to these ‘secret guardian forces’ of theirs to make sure that these ‘views’ are always in place. I will never believe this B.S. even Diana’s car crash death.”

Other comments responding to the story include:

“How many years your country’s king and queen will kill people to save their dirty secrets. ” who is william ‘s baby real mom ?” was it that secert royal family wants to save from england people then they kill the nurse ? You don’t think it is time to kick ass to kings …. England people have a deep sleep . I am yelling “wake up England. WAKE UP ENGLAND, IT IS SO Late.”

Then there was Holly:

“First of all, it wasn’t two MALE disc jockeys, one was a female. Secondly, it’s not the QUEEN MUM, she’s been dead since 2002. This writer should get the facts straight. Bloody British Royal Family or not, this is a super-convenient distraction for them from the Jimmy Savile affair, focusing on this “royal” pregnancy will go on and on and on for another 7 months, then there will be watching the little devil, I mean darling, grow up. I’m sick of all this already.”

I responded to Holly with the following:

Holly:

My apologies on not realizing your Queen Mum was dead. Really, I had lost track of keeping current on the family health issues since my people expelled your people a couple centuries back.

However, occasionally I do admit to spurts of entertainment with Fergie and Di and Camilla (sp?) and Chuck and Randy Andy and Philip et al. But I do agree, it does get tiresome rather quickly.

Why is it they are useful for you people to keep them on the payroll again?

And who is the “them” you refer to?

And if I could politely offer one small correction: Isn’t it “Sir” Jimmy Savile?

The public sexual shenanigans of your people really are a bit hard to keep up with nearly as much as the state of health of your Mum’s and Princesses and Duchesses et al etc and so on….

And since you mention being “sick of it all”, I might suggest you alert your health care providers about your preferences for incoming well wishers, as there appears to be some confusion on that front as well.

Good luck with it all.

I don’t envy you.

Nate

Here is the rest of the story, unredacted, including actual Twitter comments followed by other people who wrote to my blog responding to the article. Not a single one acknowledged the story to be a spoof:

“The Royal Plot behind the Secret Conspiracy to Murder the Morning Sickness Nurse appears to be unlikely to mislead the news hound sleuths from the most respected global Twitter news operations:

“If u think the prank callers are at fault, then YOU are what’s wrong with this world. It’s obviously the Mafia Royal Family. They have done this before many times to avoid shame.”

But while the dominant theme trending by the new vanguard responsible for ensuring a vibrant and free press that serves the people and the principles of freedom of press—Twitter—is to blame the media for the death of the Florence Nightingale of our era, there is another strain of analysis trending on Twitter: That the demise of the deceased nurse was murdered at the hands of the Royals, a dark plot cooked up by the Royal family who murdered her to protect dark secrets which would expose the monarchy to unthinkable revelations of…well they don’t get very specific on the minor details.

“So royal family murders this nurse, calls it suicide and you crazy people are mad at the radio station? It was an innocent prank. At best it was semi-unprofessional and a bit lame. They do not deserve a shred of an ounce of blame for the supposed “suicide”. Nobody with common sense would utter something so ridiculous.”–Senior World Affairs Correspondent for Twitter

The Twitter righteous-indignation social media SWAT teams have been deployed in full force, calling for the poor Aussie radio prankster blokes to get fired, go to jail, or what seems to be the overwhelming favorite, be executed by guillotine.

“We were very surprised that our call was put through,” DJ Mel said after the prank. “We thought we’d be hung up on as soon as they heard our terrible accents.”

The now widely agreed to be murdered nurse took seriously the Australian men imitating the voice of the  British Royal Great-grandmother to be and apparently revealed secrets which surely threatened to bring down the British Empire, and took necessary measures to save its subjects from the calamity.

And the entertaining kerfuffle promises only to get more fun.

The two DJs have deleted their Twitter accounts and gone into hiding after a deluge of death threats, the radio station says it is very, very sorry and apologized for the poor attempt at humour, the Royals have all sent their condolences  and the Queen Mum and Princes Charles conveyed their “sadness and concern for the nurses family”

“I just saw a lord, stupid Brit elites, she was suicided by the inbreeds for knowing too much, either reptile hybrid, or In vitro fertilization from a human donor, the good thing is, no harm was done the royals.”

But the Trojan horse attempt to redirect blame from the real perpetrators by cleverly blaming two 20 something Australian radio talk show jocks did not detract the professional media sleuths of the powerful world network of Social Media.

“The British Royal Family has murdered millions for shiny rocks in the past. You think they have any qualms about killing?”–Twitter Senior  Investigative Correspondent

But to look on the bright side of these developments, I must say it is comforting to know that the nutcase conspiracy theorists running loose are not confined to those among my brethren Americans, but they appear to have taken root across the pond quite nicely.”

Other comments left on my blog include:

“Middleton is a strange woman. Now that the baby is her, she seems very awkward and unloving towards it. Like it’s not hers” and “If everything were really just honest with that family I doubt there would be so many bizarre rumors ?”

 

My Sordid Love Affair with Journalism

7 Feb

My Sordid Love Affair with Journalism

Excerpts from Sympathy for the Devil: A Foreign Correspondent Inside Pol Pot’s Cambodia

Copyright Nate Thayer. No republication in whole or part without prior written permission of the author

By Nate Thayer

Journalism and I have a love affair that will never be extinguished.

From the beginning, I was the perfect specimen to be a journalist. It has consumed me, for every minute of every day.

I have always been eager to go anywhere where something of import or fascination is occurring and fraternize with the interesting people who were the protagonists, at any time.

At the beginning, I was willing to die. I had little concern for making money.

The absence of love of money and fear of death are often the crucial makings of a good foreign correspondent.

A dirty little secret is most successful foreign correspondents have either no or dysfunctional families, no other obligations, and few other talents outside of journalism. And few who rely on them, save for their editors. They travel constantly and without advance warning. Properly organized marriages and family are disproportionately rare.

We are not, as a control group, upstanding members of the healthier end of properly organized societies.

Like Communism and God, one has to make a choice between the two. Continue reading

Has the news biz come to this? Freelance journalists required to sign document forbidding writing anything negative about employers or advertisers?

21 Aug

Has the state of the news biz come to this? Freelance journalists required to sign document forbidding writing anything negative about employers or advertisers before being payed unlivable wage.

Freelance journalist not only asked to work for unlivable wages, but now required to sign away constitutional rights and fundamental ethical journalistic obligations, forbidden to say or write anything negative about their employers or advertisers?

August 21, 2013

An email exchange today between me and a freelance journalist requesting advice, comment, and suggestions after receiving the contract terms for her to write, still on a freelance basis, for a major U.S. news outlet which demanded she sign an agreement which demands she “cannot criticize, ridicule or make any statement” that “which disparages or is derogatory of XXXXXXX, or any of its officers, directors, agents, associates, consultants, contractors, clients, customers, vendors, suppliers or licensees.”

All comments from anyone who has had a similar experience or thoughts on its legality, ethics, precedence or suggestions on how to respond are welcome.

Below is the email exchange in its entirety, with the name of the news organization and journalist redacted at her request.

Dear Nate,

I am one of the folks who attended your panel at the AEJMC. Since you’re attuned to the freelance world, wondered if you’d heard of media outfits making freelancers sign non-disparagement agreements. A former editor who’s now working with XXXXXXX (a major, national politically oriented news site that is ramping up its breaking news section) contacted me to see if I’d write regularly for them on things I am expert on; but when their HQ in XXXXXX (A U.S. city) sent me a contract for work-for-hire, I was amazed that I had to agree I cannot criticize, ridicule or make any statement “which disparages or is derogatory of XXXXXXX, or any of its officers, directors, agents, associates, consultants, contractors, clients, customers, vendors, suppliers or licensees.”

   I informed XXXXXXX’s attorney that this could be several hundred people and that either I need a list of all these folks or they need to change their contract. She told me that this is standard in the freelance world which is nonsense in that I’ve written in the past 18 months for WaPo, the WSJ, CNN.com, the Economist and a bunch of other biggies and I’ve never had to agree to anything like this.

   Before I email her to say she’s quite mistaken, wanted to check with someone who also writes for big markets. I know you do not know me, but would you mind telling me if you’ve ever heard of this?

Sincerely,

XXXXXXX (Freelance Journalist)

 

 From me:

Hi XXXXX,

I have indeed never heard of such a thing, and I am guessing I would have. But I could be mistaken.

I can have your question answered, I think quite readily, as one of the side effects of the Atlantic kerfuffle is I have acquired a lot of new freelance friends who follow these issues quite regularly, religiously, and passionately.

My guess? It is XXXXXXXX’s corporate–or more precisely–legal side, that wrote this up on their own without precedent or forethought.

I am sure I can get the right answer and an informed one in a couple of hours if you want me to onpass your question to colleagues–other journos and freelancers. I can of course redact your name and, actually, even the reference to XXXXXXXXX, and I am sure I will have informed replies within a couple of hours.

It is of course, outrageous. The very premise of the function of a press is to not be censored from criticism, wherever it might lead to. Particularly not as formal policy of the news organization itself. And even more disturbing the requirement to write only approved propaganda regarding any advertisers or prominent figures associated in, it seems, any way whatsoever who have a financial or other vested interest in the news organization. Not to mention your own first amendment rights as a citizen, etc. etc.

 

It more than boggles and even more so disturbing, to say the least.

Let me know. And I hope you are well.

Nate

Email reply from the freelance journalist:

Dear Nate,

Would love to get any react you can. I had no idea who else to ask.

What is so crazy about all this is that XXXXXXXX first tells its writers it will only pay $200 per multi-sourced 800-word+ stories. I worked them up to close to $400 but that is still pennies. If they paid like $2.50/word, heck, I might say yes but for less than 50 cents a word? Really?

Yes, pls leave my name out for now. For XXXXXXXXX, feel free to say it’s a politically oriented news site that is ramping up its breaking news section but wants writers for cheap who are OK with signing away their First Amendment rights.

Thanks for your time,

XXXXXXX

 

Any comments, suggestions, or similar experiences and how best to respond are welcome.

I’m leaving, on a jet plane–Edward’s excellent spy adventure

24 Jun

I’m leaving, on a jet plane: Edward’s excellent spy adventure

A young whistleblower named Ed

Was wanted by agents, so fled.

Abbetted by hackers

He’s off to Caracas

For Snowden, red’s better than dead!

From the limerick Tweeting Mick Twister

The true life drama of spies, hacks, and bafoonery

The true life drama of spies, hacks, and bafoonery

By Nate Thayer

June 24, 2013

It is a journalists worst nightmare.

Tricked by international spies into boarding an eleven and one half hour booze-less flight the wrong halfway across the planet to an isolated communist island while the man you are trailing gives you the slip, once again, and heads the opposite direction.

Now the fourth estate knows how the spook poohbahs in Washington feel.

Between chuckling, one has to sympathize with the planeload of what now is certainly a clutch of very, very cranky reporters.

It turns out that, to add really rather unnecessarily to the humiliation, there was no alcohol served during the 11 and ½ hour flight to Havana. “Starting from Feb 10, 2010, the sale of alcohol is suspended on flights to/from Havana, Bangkok, Shanghai, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Yuzhno-Sahalinsk, and Khabarovsk,” reads a message on Aeroflot’s website.

Where the fuck is Edwardo?

Where the fuck is Edwardo?

But the wacky real life spy spoof doesn’t end—and didn’t begin–there.

There is, in fact, no confirmed evidence that Our Man Snowden was ever even in Moscow.

Snowden has never actually been spotted in Moscow, and there is no evidence that he ever arrived in Russia in the first place.

In fact, there has not been a confirmed sighting of Snowden since he was in Hong Kong.

No passengers saw him arrive at the Hong Kong airport. No one saw him board the plane to Moscow. None of the passengers on the Hong Kong to Moscow Aeroflot flight said he was on board that flight when interviewed deplaning in Moscow.

He has not been sighted at the Moscow airport or in Moscow at all.

So let us recap this: no one saw him leave Hong Kong; no one saw him board the Aeroflot flight to Russia; no one saw him on the plane from Hong Kong to Russia; no one saw him deplane in Moscow; and no one has seen him in Moscow.

Which one is the spy? And which one are the sleuth reporters?

Which one is the spy? And which one are the sleuth reporters?

And it is confirmed by the two dozen reporters now hurtling at 30,000 feet towards Cuba that Snowden was definitely not on board Aeroflot flight 150 to Havana either.

“Standing next to Edward Snowden's seat on flight to Cuba. He ain't here,” tweeted the Moscow Associated Press reporter Max Seddon forlornly tweeting this photo of Snowden's empty seat 17A, before the flight had reached cruising altitude.

“Standing next to Edward Snowden’s seat on flight to Cuba. He ain’t here,” tweeted the Moscow Associated Press reporter Max Seddon forlornly tweeting this photo of Snowden’s empty seat 17A, before the flight had reached cruising altitude.

This only gets more entertaining.

After making mucky mucks from a host of governments look like Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau, Snowden set his sights on highlighting what clowns we journalists are when we are performing under the harsh glare of scrutiny.

The Washington spooks have hardly emerged from this kerfuffle looking good.

After all, they hired a high school dropout computer geek working third shift as a security guard with a girlfriend who teaches pole dancing, gave him top secret clearance and access to a trove of rather sensitive documents which he proceeded to download and deliver to the living room of most everybody on the planet.

get smart11

In the first everyman spy scandal in recent memory, Ed surfaced in a Hong Kong hotel where for three weeks he gave television interviews and live online chats a few kilometers from the American embassy.

The spooks from the world’s only superpower must have been apoplectic, powerless to do much else but twiddle their thumbs and sputter in limp protest.

Then he gives China the slip.

Beijing isn’t living up to its reputation of the behemoth all-knowing power it reputes itself to be.

The rogue, uncontrollable likes of Snowden arousing a dormant citizenry make the architects of Tiananmen very nervous, and Beijing exhaled in relief when they shushed him on a plane to anywhere else but there.

waldo departure

So Snowden then purportedly boards a commercial flight to Moscow under his own name with a mysterious blonde British bombshell.

And then there is Mother Russia, run by a scrum of ten cent thugs who have as much commitment to the free flow of information as did KAOS, the nemesis of Get Smart, who flexed their flaccid political muscles and, still delusional in their self-view that anyone takes them seriously, strutted about with the fantasy of having pulled a fast one on the other team. “Our old adversary Maxwell Smart has fallen into our trap. He does not realize that he is walking into great danger. I shall destroy the rest of his potato crop, then I will attack his broccoli, his rhubarb!”

1012296_561297940580103_561117014_n

Despite purportedly being at the Moscow airport transit lounge, Snowden managed a pretty fair impression of holding his nose while passing through Russia on his way to South America.

While Edward Snowden is not aboard the plane that departed Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport for Havana Monday, two dozen reporters most assuredly are, staring at unoccupied seat 17A, for which Snowden was reported to have a ticket.

Some of the culinary delicacies available on Aeroflot Moscow to Havana. Unfortunately alcohol has been suspended because of previously unruly behaviour by passengers taking that route

Some of the culinary delicacies available on Aeroflot Moscow to Havana. Unfortunately alcohol has been suspended because of previously unruly behaviour by passengers taking that route

menu_37Russia Today correspondent Egor Piskunov, reporting from the now airborne flight to Havana, said the number of reporters boarding the plane was “astonishing.”

“Mr. Snowden has so far not been seen, but something out of the ordinary is definitely happening, judging by the security and the amount of media,” said Piskunov from the plane.

Hong Kong authorities released a statement on Sunday confirming Snowden’s “legal” and “voluntary” departure.

The Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisted that President Putin had no knowledge of Snowden’s itinerary or whereabouts. “Overall, we have no information about him,” he told Interfax news agency on Monday.

The Ecuadorian ambassador to Russia arrived at the Moscow airport and went inside the transit zone.

“On Sunday the Ecuador ambassador to Russia paid a visit to a VIP lounge at the airport. He didn’t comment on whom he was meeting, but it’s very likely that it was Mr. Snowden,” Piskunov told RT.

Reuter’s Moscow correspondent Miriam Elder at the Sheremetyevo airport tweeted:

“Ecuadorian ambassador inside Sheremtyevo airport rather confused.

Reporter: ‘Do you know where he is?’

Ambassador: ‘We thought you did?’”

Ecuador’s foreign minister, Ricardo Patino, speaking from Hanoi, said it was considering an asylum request but did not know where Snowden was either. “I cannot give you information about that. We are in contact with the Russian government, but this specific information about this precise situation of Edward Snowden, we cannot give it to you right now, because we don’t have it.”

Someone did identify Moscow CCTV footage of someone who looked like Snowden, but it turned out to be someone else.

Reporters on the trail of Snowden at Moscow airport

Reporters on the trail of Snowden at Moscow airport. Journalists show picture of Snowden to passengers of flight from Hong Kong trying to find out if Snowden was aboard the plane (Photo:Reuters)

Meanwhile, holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Julian Assange said: ¨We are aware of where Edward Snowden is. He is in a safe place and his spirits are high.¨

In Moscow Snowden was reported to have been in hiding in a broom closet, the airport transit lounge, the VIP lounge, an airport transit mini hotel, a 4 diamond hotel, and an econo-lodge, depending on which media one cited.

Some sources said he spent Sunday night at Terminal F at Moscow airport. Another source at Aeroflot was quoted by Interfax news agency saying Snowden had checked into the V-Express Capsule Hotel in the airport’s transit area.

The Free Press at work bringing truth to power, sorta

The Free Press at work bringing truth to power, sorta

Scrums of reporters staked out a hotel in the transit zone of the airport where Mr. Snowden was said to have stayed Sunday night.

But on Monday night Moscow time another source at the hotel told Russia Today that Snowden had never checked in or out of the hotel.

An Aeroflot official told journalists that Snowden spent Sunday night in the Vozdushni Express hotel in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.

But on Monday morning, hotel staff said that no one named Snowden was staying there.

Edwardo at the airport

Edwardo at the airport

Then Russian news agencies reported that Snowden was booked on a Monday flight to Cuba, and a scrum of journalists bought tickets on the flight. Aeroflot officials were quoted as saying Snowden reserved two tickets on Aeroflot flight #150, coach seats 17A and 17C bound for Cuba.

0269

But Nikolay Solkolov, an Aeroflot gate employee, told reporters still on the ground in Moscow as the plane taxied down the Moscow runway, that Snowden was not on board.

“He is not there,” Mr. Sokolov said. “I was waiting myself.”

A reporter heard a conversation between a police officer asking one of the ground crew if all passengers with reservations were on board. “Minus five,” was the reply.

A few tourists boarded the plane accompanied by a large number of journalists tracking the phantom Snowden on his global odyssey which is alleged to have taken a new twist Sunday when he was said to have fled Hong Kong as the full weight of the U.S. government was bearing down on him.

“He has eluded a pack of journalists at a Moscow airport, and officials from Russia as well as Ecuador… they do not know where he is,” the Ria Novosti news agency wrote Monday.

comparison

“Snowden did not leave on the Aeroflot flight to Havana and is still in the transit zone,” an airport security source told Russian news agency Itar-Tass.

Meanwhile, the reporters on board Aeroflot #150 had figured as much out.

“Standing next to Edward Snowden’s seat on flight to Cuba. He ain’t here,” tweeted the Moscow Associated Press reporter Max Seddon forlornly with a photo of the empty seat, before the flight had reached cruising altitude.

Snowden's empty seat 17A as seen at 30,000 feet by reporter stuck on flight to Havana and no story

Snowden’s empty seat 17A as seen at 30,000 feet by reporter stuck on flight to Havana and no story (Reuters photo)

Then there is the matter of the fact the two dozen journalists en route to Cuba will not be able to depart the island for three days, as is mandated for all tourist visitors to Cuba.

They undoubtedly will be found at Ernest Hemingway’s two favored haunts, El Floridita (The daiquiris) and La Bodeguita del Medio (the mojitos), drinking heavily and muttering.

I highly recommend both places.

Spencer Tracy, Ernest Hemingway and Margaret Gelhorn at the Floridita bar in Havana

Spencer Tracy, Ernest Hemingway and Margaret Gelhorn at the Floridita bar in Havana

And for accommodations I suggest the Hotel Ambos Mundos, with views of old Havana and Havana harbor, where Hemingway stayed in room 511 between 1932 and 1939. Hemingway rented the room for $1.50 per night, where he began writing For Whom the Bell Tolls.

La Floridita features the Special Hemingway Daiquiri, called a Papa Doble. Hemingway holds the record, drinking 16 sugar-free double-rum daiquiris one night. At the end of the bar in a corner is a life-size bronze statue of Hemingway sitting at his favorite barstool. La Floridita was frequented also by Ezra Pound, John Dos Passos and Graham Greene, who wrote Our Man in Havana. Later, Noël Coward and Alec Guinness were regulars while filming the movie version of Our Man In Havana.

Hemingway at el Floridita

Hemingway at el Floridita

The walls of La Bodeguita Del Medio are adorned with personal messages from Brigitte Bardot, Errol Flynn, Nat King Cole, and Hemingway.

“My mojito in La Bodeguita. My daiquiri in La Floridita,” reads Hemingway’s message written on butcher paper.

KUBA-2010-673-1024x602

I think the hacks deserve to have both, all expenses paid by the home office, of course.

Canadian Sex Advice Columnist Weighs in on Atlantic Kerfuffle Over Pay the Writer

3 Jun

Prominent Canadian Sex Advice Columnist and Very, Very Good Bad Girl Weighs in on Atlantic Kerfuffle Over Pay the Writer

 By Nate Thayer

June 2, 2013

Yesterday I received a very supportive message from an esteemed colleague in the international press corps, which was deeply appreciated.

In addition to being a renowned, nationally syndicated Canadian sex advice columnist, Alex Tigchelaar has been a stripper, sex worker, playwright, performance artist and an all-around very, very good very bad girl.

She made me smile.

Alex Tigchelaar wrote in support of the lingering, only slightly muted, kerfuffle over writers being paid for their work which was sparked by a recent exchange I had with the Atlantic magazine which sought to engage my professional services with the caveat that I agree they did not have to pay me for them.

As a professional colleague, Alex took strong offense to this arrangement and wrote me to say just that.

Dear Nate,

Thank you for giving me something to reference/talk to people about when they are surprised to see me, a formerly syndicated columnist, standing behind the bar at Sweaty Betty’s or mopping the floor at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.

I say, “Read Nate Thayer’s piece on the state of journalism. If he’s being asked to write for free we’re all fucked.”

On the upside it’s been nice talking to people about what a positive impact my work had on them.

As you probably know yourself, you usually only hear from people who want to kill you when you are actively writing.

Thanks Nate, for your dignified outrage.

If you are in Toronto please stop by Sweaty Betty’s. Drinks are on me if I’m behind the bar.

I also bartend at a transsexual strip club.

Not sure if that’s more up your alley but if it is, again, drinks on me.

Your pal and longtime fan,

Alex

My colleague journalist, sex worker, and Renaissance woman Alex Tigchelaar

My colleague journalist, sex worker, and Renaissance woman Alex Tigchelaar

Buddies in Bad Times is a theatre company dedicated to the promotion of Queer Canadian Culture, voted Toronto’s Best Small Theatre Company in 2012, and “dedicated to the nurturing, protection, and celebration of queer culture.”

Alex is clearly an advocate of the Queer community, but maintains cynical distance of blind support for what appears to be just about anything—an essential trait of good journalism. “Homos and hookers go together like peanut butter and jam—sometimes anyway. I could do without some of this current crop of queer, The Revolution Starts Up My Ass hookers.”

Sweaty Betty’s is a storied Toronto dive bar where “the tortured literati rendezvous nightly”, a “small, bordello-inspired den” located across the street from one of Toronto’s oldest mental institutions.

“In a city of infused vodkas and creative cocktails, Betty’s refuses to mix anything with more than three ingredients, “said a review in Lonely Planet of Sweaty Betty’s. “ This no-nonsense approach pares a night out at the bar to the essentials: having a good time and chatting people up.”

Betty’s sounds like my kind of establishment and Alex my kind of barkeep.

The only negative comment I found on Sweaty Betty’s was an online review from ‘Mellisa’, who objected to “one of the male bartenders stole my friend’s hat from off the bar where she put it down for a moment. She phoned them the next day and asked if they had found it, they said no. Then, the next time she went, she saw the guy WEARING her hat.” But even Mellisa said “I do like the location, décor and ambiance of Sweaty Betty’s — but I can only put up with the people if I’ve already been drinking. And drinking a LOT.”

Sign at Toronto bar Sweaty Betty's

Sign at Toronto bar Sweaty Betty’s

Alex did not identify the transsexual strip club where she bartends, but I am confident I can get the directions from her next time I am in Toronto where I will be sure to drop by Sweaty Betty’s to quench my considerable thirst for people with minds like Alex Tigchelaar.

Former journalist and Sweaty Betty’s barkeep, Alexandra Tigchelaar, from whom I have a standing invitation for drinks on the house, is indeed a formerly nationally syndicated columnist in Canada–author of the weekly sex advice Montreal Mirror’s column Love Bites from 1999 to 2009. Her work as a journalist has been widely praised as insightful, witty, powerful, and honest.

But, in addition, Alex has an impressive resume which includes neo-Burlesque performer, stripper, artist, playwright, sex worker, actor, author, and journalist who sometimes writes under the pen name Sasha Van Bon Bon.

<iframe src=”http://player.vimeo.com/video/20803154&#8243; width=”500″ height=”299″ frameborder=”0″ webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen>

MothUP Toronto IX – LOVE & SEX – Sasha (Alex Tigchelaar) – “Feature Dancer” from MothUP Toronto on Vimeo.

Alex was co-creator of The Scandelles, a Toronto male-female burlesque cabaret troupe, since renamed Operation Snatch. She is also the curator of cabaret Dirty Plotz, which is about the “Politics of Pussy”.

She studied creative writing and English literature at Concordia University but her art is mostly a product of working in Montreal and Toronto’s strip clubs, where she found her talented, unorthodox creative voice.

A nationally syndicated sex columnist since 1994, she has written about sexuality for numerous publications, and is co-author of a short porn film called Give Piece of Ass a Chance (which screened at over 20 international film festivals), has penned an erotic comic for Eros Comics called Beatrix Dominatrix, hosted erotic events, and performed as a go-go dancer on the Canadian Broadcasting Company’s 60th anniversary televised show.

alex2

“As a cabaret theatre artist I explore the space of Revered/Reviled.  I know this space very well.  This is a space of divine creation but it is one that is often foisted upon a person – it’s not entered willingly.  Learning to live in it with grace and resourcefulness is difficult.  It can make a woman fucking crazy,” Alex said in a 2012 interview.

“In Dirty Plötz, we are, quite literally, examining the Sacred and Profane Hole,” she said in another interview.  ‘Plotte’ is French-Canadian slang for pussy.  In addition, the title of the piece “Dirty Plotz” is a play on the 1990’s comic Dirty Plotte by Julie Doucet.

“Doucet was, in her words, interested in ‘sex, violence, menstruation and male/female issues’, and so am I. Big time,” said Alex in the Canadian interview.

Since not only did I appreciate her thoughtful words of support to me as a colleague, but we shared similar interests, I promptly wrote a thank you note to Alex.

Dear Alex:

Out of the considerable hundreds, at least, of friendly incoming missives I have received regarding that story, yours is, by far, my favorite to date.

Thanks for the grin inducing, thoughtful, kind words,

If the bastards ever do force me off my perch, I had always thought that my only alternative employment possibilities for which I might be qualified would be working third shift at some urban 7/11.

Now I know there is at least some hope for a better alternative if such an unspeakable scenario materializes.

Good on ya. And thanks again. Keep up the great work.

Your pal and new fan,

Nate

“I don’t understand why the job is illegal—there’s just something about that that drives me fucking mental,” said Alex in another 2012 interview on the rights of sex workers. “I cannot, for the purposes of supporting myself, use my own body to do that? Sure, I can go and become a construction worker, or a  lawyer and I can use my body and my brain to generate income—often, in those cases, fairly unethically—but I cannot use my body to generate my own income? What the fuck is wrong with that picture?” said the sex worker, activist, journalist and performer.

To me, Alex Tigchelaar seamlessly integrates the essential purpose of free speech among free people in free societies and the role of a free press.

“I mean yes, putting a bunch of woman of different sizes and gender presentation on stage, that’s minimally revolutionary, but let’s get those people telling their stories,” she said. “Seeing a woman of size or a transsexual performing, that’s just one thing, but now that we have the opportunity, let’s go deeper than that. We got on stage taking our clothes off, and then we opened our mouths.”

Alex succinctly summed up her multi-talented body of work. “Underneath all of those personalities and people is the truth, which is: ‘It’s my body, I have agency over it—not you.’”

I would add only that it is Alex’s mind, as well, which she has demanded equal agency over.

“What I’ve realized is that people become quite angry when they’re faced with these stories, they’re much happier listening to the stories of women being victimized,” she said.

Speaking of sex workers, Alex says “our stories are often trivialized through the lens of shame and criminality. When we talk about kept women, we act as though these women were the only ones who were kept when this was and continues to be the reality for so many women—as though a wife, sister, or servant wasn’t or isn’t kept, and often with much more rigid terms. I contest the concept of “kept” when it comes to sex workers anyway. It’s far more complex than that. I’m also tired of people saying, ‘No girl dreams of being a stripper.’ Seriously, speak for yourself.”

female burlesque cabaret troupe, Operation Snatch performing in Dirty Plotz, which is about the “Politics of Pussy”

female burlesque cabaret troupe, Operation Snatch performing in Dirty Plotz, which is about the “Politics of Pussy”

After a cursory peak at Alex’s impressive life, I asked her for permission to quote from her private correspondence to me.

Hi Alex:

I wanted to post your kind note on my blog and FB private page, and wanted to make sure you had no objections to identifying you as the author. If you do, no worries, just give me a shout.

The message remains much appreciated. Is journalism a great fucking job or what? Not the least for putting me in the mix of people like yourself.

Best,

Nate

She responded:

Nate,

My only objection would be to referring to XXXX as XXXXX, for fear of alerting the moral authorities to its true nature and putting my hard working colleagues at risk for arrest. We are still in a fairly grey legal area in Canada. If you could refer to XXXX as XXXX, that would be very appreciated.

Alex

I replied:

Hi Alex:

Will do.

That was exactly the reason I wanted to double check. It dawned on me that Canada has been going through some legal acrobats over these laws in the last couple years, right up until recent weeks, if I am not mistaken.

The last thing I want to do is get you or your colleagues locked up. Quite the contrary, I think we would agree our shared mission is to keep people free, despite the quite alarming knucklehead factor which appears to be metastasizing against that trend and these efforts.

I will make the suggested adjustments.

Stay in touch.

Best,

Nate

Alex responded:

Nate,

Thank you! Yes, that knucklehead factor is more alarming than you can imagine.

If you can believe it, a half dozen organizations with open religious affiliations have been granted intervener status in the Supreme Court hearing on June 13th while 5 supportive, non-abolitionist and sex worker run sex work organizations  have been denied intervener status. (And here is the kicker quote of the year) I am thrilled that people who believe that the end of days will be heralded by a whore on a multi-headed beast will be permitted to object to a woman’s right to make money using her body (well, a certain part of it at any rate) over my sensible and experienced colleagues.

Alex

With that final message, and that brilliant final sentence, I formally have included Alex to my fictional “12 people in history you would invite to a dinner party” guest list.

I think I will sit Alex on my right, next to Jesus.

With Pol Pot, directly across from her, who will be seated next to the Pope, who will be allowed to be accompanied by one, handsome, young male attendant.

Ronald Reagan would be in the mix. With Beethoven tinkling the ivories in the background and Sid Viscous on vocals.

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson would be in attendance along with Sir Winston Churchill and Christopher Hitchens. There are a couple remaining slots still open.

And, Alex, if you choose to attend, the drinks are on me.

Your pal and new fan, Nate

Google search terms which drove readers to my blog: Alert Homeland Security or throw a block party?

9 May

Should I alert Homeland Security or throw a block party? A stroll through internet search terms which sent readers to my blog

By Nate Thayer

May 9, 2013

Here are this week’s listing of perplexing, disturbing and amusing internet search terms which drove people to my blog and provide an intriguing peak into the nooks and crannies of readers of my scribbling’s minds.

I am not sure whether I should alert the Department of Homeland Security or revel in it and throw a block party for my apparently like-minded associates.

Any nominations for the winner of the best search term of the week are encouraged and welcome for the following categories:

Most intriguing

Most disturbing

Most amusing

All around grand prize winner

Call 911 immediately

The search terms used from May 2, 2013-05 to today, May 9, 2013 included:

Mississippi Elvis organ thieves; police Khmer;  ethics of media in the age of internet;  as a journalist do i need to know how to keyboardcheap destinations to live for freelance journalists; British royal family sanctioned murders; what does it mean when someone calls you a cornball?; free oops TV Nate; sex Khmer rouge; Google America free daughter father sex;  media in the internet age; http://www.noradsanta Nate or nice; medical malpractice by psychiatrist turns witches;  brazil prison uniform; freelancer writing emails for work; male dogs fucking women for pleasure; free gay gum eating compile tube; war non-consensual sex fantasy;  what Cambodian movie did Ta Mok play in; godhatesamerica.com; choeung sopheap (Cambodian for “wants peace”); freelance war journalist; robot sex; cum terrorist;  hare Krishna prison gang; the last grenade; secrets of royal family; should a freelance journalist contact an editor if he or she never gets back; Waco extremists with us government;journalist freelance rates; mail to give my pay rate;; wife fuck animal in the wood; white power groups; if i were to be editor of the newspaper for one day;  fantasy underage forced sex clips; royal family assassination; white power pol pot; utube forbidden videos about north Korea;  how many animals has the British monarchy killed?; pol pot song;   the coup 1997,cambodia; http://www.northkoreansex.com; massive computer room with workers; wives who have had sexual experiences with dogs; being a paid email friend; Hun Sen fuck girl in Facebook; Westboro Baptist contact numbers; brunch nude north Korea;  where do journalists post requests; fucking Hun Sen pictures;  freelance writing rates 2013; picture of a man beg the police to spare his life in Cambodia; prison clothes pink; would you like to be a journalist for a day?; What does a cornball brother mean;  who has rights magazine or journalist; north Korea submarine; secrets about British royal family; how to write an email ask for advertise; north Korean submarines; life of a freelancer; nknews.org Nate Thayer; how to be a freelance writer for pay; make a living freelance journalism; how to write for Atlantic;  Kim il sung smoking;  Baptist church Somalia po box; journalists life; koh kong smoke weed;  article 53 of the north Korean constitution;   ilyushin il-62 cabin crew; Hun Sen’s private army; royal family of England; soviet embassy in Phnom Penh 1985 1988; north Korea racism; gialloboy; how i can i get salary if i work as a freelancer; Korean air reviews meal photos; pussy dog abuse dogs; photo reporters do they find easily job; terrorist searched stripped bomb; Khmer rural house roof;  forest gum koryo latex’s; pol pot;  the life of a freelance writer; a freelancer or a journalist;  can you earn a living freelance journalist; Cambodia mass murder; freelancing salaries; does the slang word wood have any meaning in white supremacy?; freelance writer and freelance journalist; according to the central propaganda department, “party control of the media is an unwavering basic principle”6, that meant the party had the right to modify the news or instruct the media institution if their words are not welcome by the state policy; domestic terrorism in the united states from 2000 – 2013; arrow pointing to Texas;   a relative invited to go to and then uninvited u;  which bar allowed smoke ganja Phnom Penh;  freelancer no money to pay anything; artist get paid, writers get paid, photographers get paid, models get paid; what is the salary for a writer working for people magazine; north Korean giant; why i am a journalist; a day in the life of a reporter; death worked at Google left job “has been a blogger since”; freelance writing rate blog post;  koryasex; journalism website that you can email what you have done; the royal family dirty secrets; what is good web site to freelance l and get make to freelance; is freelance writing journalism??; animal rape abuse;  school headmistress; Khmer rouge Russian Nate Thayer; TV live sex show;  serve the aims of strengthening the dictatorship of the proletariat, bolstering the political unity and ideological conformity of the people and rallying them behind the party and the great leader in the cause of revolution; how many articles a week do journalists write; last time i checked the white power are the biggest terrorists; Nate Thayer free; here is my last correspondence; reporting pol pot’s death; ; freelance free life; British royal family tracker; sing a contract when 20 wage rise when 21; Cambodia corruption control; Aryan terror brigade; tourism statistics in the dprk;  what do magazine journalists make?; certificates of recognition; thanking a reporter for the good comments made; live television sex; royal nurse death conspiracy; Cambodian red cross corruption;  massacre in Britain royal family; i got invited for below l north Korean propaganda; Hun Sen net money; “notify me when new comments are added training institute;

 

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