It all started two weeks ago.
There is a certain person, whom I will hereafter refer to as a Little Birdie, who often sends the eXile materials and ideas for stories and pranks, without getting any credit for contributing. Two weeks ago — on July 26, to be exact — the Little Birdie sent me an e-mail containing a story that had appeared in that day’s edition of the Los Angeles Times. Entitled “Taming the Wild, Wild Web”, and written by Michael Hiltzik, the article basically argued that the internet was too free for its own good, and needed to have its anarchistic tendencies reigned in, for the good of commerce.
The premise of the article was odious enough, but the Little Birdie was particularly upset about a specific quote in the piece. In the e-mail, it was highlighted and placed under the heading, “There are too many assholes in this world!” It read:
“‘The Internet is an important cultural phenomenon, but that doesn’t excuse its failure to comply with basic economic laws,’ said Thomas Nolle, a New Jersey telecommunications consultant. ‘The problem is that it was devised by a bunch of hippie anarchists who didn’t have a strong profit motive. But this is a business, not a government-sponsored network.’”
My first reaction to this quote was to lean back and frown in disgust — it didn’t seem possible that someone had actually said such a thing… This “Thomas Nolle” came across as some monster rising to the surface after 33 years sunk in a bog — the language was pure 1968, or maybe even 1971, vaguely recalling the Nixon tapes, with its angry references to “hippie anarchists” (Nixon once blasted the hippies for admiring the pre-colonial culture of the Native Americans, who he insisted “lived filthy lives, like pigs”). Just as bad was his insistence that the internet was “a business, not a government-sponsored network.” This was totally contrary to fact: the internet was borne of research contracted out by the Department of Defense — not by hippie anarchists by any stretch of the imagination — and was only subsequently hijacked by commercial interests. In other words, the net was yet another sector of private American industry that owed its profits to a capital investment made by the state.
The quote so irritated me that I decided to send Nolle a letter on the spot, informing him of the negative consequences of coming to the attention of the eXile. In the letter I opted to communicate with Nolle in language he would be likely to understand — cold, officious, corporate bureaucratese, straight form-letter style, dully detailing the personal apocalypse he was now likely to suffer at the hands of our newspaper:
Dear Mr. Nolle,
In light of your comments in today’s Los Angeles Times, the Moscow-based English language newspaper, the eXile, would like to officially announce its intention to verbally and psychologically torment you in the next issue of the newspaper.
The eXile, founded in 1997, has a long history of effectively annoying and embarrassing odious public figures. This past March, we threw a cream pie made of equine sperm in the face of New York Times reporter Michael Wines (see photo at www.exile.ru/113/). We have routinely sent unwanted orders of dozens of Domino’s pizzas to the office of Ray Irani, CEO of Occidental Petroleum. When a Senate communications aide was impolite to us on the telephone, we ran a public records search, discovered a recent bankruptcy filing, and published the information, which was subsequently re-run in newspapers in his home state (see “Who is Chuck Kleeschulte?” www.exile.ru/shite/shite45.html).
Other eXile methods of attack involve trickery, as in the case when we called a World Bank executive named Charles Blitzer and solicited a lengthy interview on the political situation in the “Olajuwon” territory. In another celebrated incident, we convinced Mikhail Gorbachev to fly to New York to discuss an offer to work, for a handsome fee, as the “perestroika coordinator” for the then-restructuring New York Jets.
But the eXile’s most common modus operandi is outright verbal abuse. In one case, we harassed a British reporter stationed in Moscow named Giles Whittell so mercilessly that he agreed to publicly bribe us — and be photographed waving an American flag — if we would only stop writing about him. We did the deal and now he’s off the hook. A similar incident occurred this year with another British reporter named Rob Cottrell (of the Financial Times), but his bribe offer was too low and so we continue to abuse him from time to time. More often, regular targets of the eXile simply leave town.
You can read a comprehensive review of the eXile’s tactics in Reason magazine (online version, www.reason.com/0101/cr.sm.from.html), or, if you like, you can simply get the full story by ordering our popular book, published by Grove Press and entitled “The eXile: Sex, Drugs and Libel in the New Russia”, on Amazon.com or any other major internet bookseller.
In any case, we’ll think of something interesting to do to you between now and Aug. 9, when our next issue comes out. You came to our attention quite by accident, when a friend sent us an e-mail containing an excerpt of that LA Times article. The e-mail, headlined “There are way too many assholes in this world!” read as follows:
“‘The Internet is an important cultural phenomenon, but that doesn’t excuse its failure to comply with basic economic laws,’” said Thomas Nolle, a New Jersey telecommunications consultant. “‘The problem is that it was devised by a bunch of hippie anarchists who didn’t have a strong profit motive. But this is a business, not a government-sponsored network.’”
The line about the “hippie anarchists who didn’t have a strong profit motive” was enough to qualify you as an eXile target. So lie back, relax, and get ready for an enjoyable experience. You have entered the lair… of the eXile.
Nolle didn’t answer my letter, and I promptly forgot about him.
Fast forward two weeks. The lead for this issue was supposed to be part one of a two-part article commemorating the 10th anniversary of the August putsch, using the eXile Zaporozhets rally as a narrative thread. Space was left open for what was supposed to be a lengthy Zap article as late as Wednesday evening. Vaguely remembering my promise to “do something” to Nolle, I assigned the task of fucking with this low-level loser to Jake ‘Sex Machine” Rudnitsky, not wanting to deal with it myself.
That’s when Jake found Nolle’s picture.
Based in the depressing Philadelphia suburb of Voorhees, New Jersey, Nolle runs a company called CimiCorp — an impressive-sounding name for an outfit that is really just Nolle and his opinions on the telecommunications market, sold over the phone or in meetings at hourly rates. CimiCorp’s office is actually Nolle’s house at 6 Andover Ct. in Voorhees (a property assessed at $286,100, we subsequently learned from the Voorhees town offices), and the only other employee of the company we could find is what appears to be Nolle’s wife, Linda, who is listed in the company’s articles of incorporation as its incorporating officer.
The business is basically a modern version of the old snake-oil trade. Nolle writes a monthly newsletter called “Netwatcher”, for which he charges the outrageous subscription price of $195 a year. The high price is part of his sales technique; he continually hints, throughout the mangled text of his crudely-designed site
Nolle’s self-image featured a sleek humanoid with a 30 hp electric brain
(www.cimicorp.com, a travesty of web design given Nolle’s status as an internet “expert”), that the “Netwatcher” column contains valuable insider trade secrets that can and should be bought only at a very high price. He hams things up further by offering a reward of $500 for any information that “leads to a successful prosecution of copyright infringement regarding “Netwatcher” — a ploy which further enhances the air of mystery surrounding Nolle’s “insider” column, despite the tactic’s transparent absurdity. After all, not even the owners of intellectual properties a thousand times more valuable (say, Britney Spears’s record label) offer such rewards. Nolle’s whole sales technique is clearly aimed at the kind of person who would be impressed by such vast sums as $500, people who are, in other words, not the cream of the tech stock investor crop, to say the least.
But Nolle’s crowning achievement as a salesman comes in his skill in maneuvering his way into the pages of major media publications like the Los Angeles Times and the Economist. He obviously works extremely hard at crafting the image of the all-knowing CEO, respected by the most exalted scribes of the pop business press. Only sometimes, he goes a little too far, as Jake found out. On one page of his site, he invites reporters to make use of a selection of photos of “our CEO, Thomas Nolle”, and the subsequent click-through results in a display of four professionally-rendered photo portraits of the great man, all offered in a variety of pixel sizes, in case a publication happened to want to put him on its cover (we were to enthusiastically take advantage of this peculiar generosity towards reporters). These were the pictures Jake showed us…
“Guys,” he said. “You’ve got to see this.”
Heisel and I crept over to his laptop to take a look, and were transformed at once by the experience. All thoughts of a Zaporozhets lead vanished instantly. The sight of this Hitleresque, toupee-clad snake-oil egotist smiling nervously against a cheap silver photo backdrop — the kind used in public-school student portraits — commanded us to action. We all immediately understood that the whole issue had to be devoted to harassment of this preposterous individual on a massive scale. The full power of the eXile battle station had to be trained on this person without delay; we had 36 hours until deadline, but we were determined to cause as much damage as possible, by means both legal and illegal, really, by any means necessary.
There will be some readers who will be confused by the catalogue of abuse which follows later in this article. Why, one might argue, devote so much energy to attacking such a petty, insignificant figure? But to us, this argument is its own answer. It is precisely Nolle’s pettiness and insignificance which commands such a monstrous response. The more we learned about him, the more he appeared as a slithering, slavish little cog in a great machine, still desperate and grasping despite all his attempts to please; he loves the machine while the machine hates him, and pays him the most niggardly rewards for his attentions; the machine is strong and confident and has self-respect, while Nolle, with his photos and his snake-oil sales pitches, has none.
But the machine cannot exist without the Nolles of the world. The court needs its courtiers. In other words, Nolle might be petty and small, but he is a military target. And one we could handle. So we took off the gloves and went to work.
Nolle’s market value as an aging bear was next to nothing in America, but some Russians will send anyone a photo in exchange for a Green Card
The first wave of attack was the cover fire; standard forms of long-distance harassment, only applied in excessive amounts. Nixon’s people called this stuff “ratfucking” — waves of unsolicited pizza deliveries, beefy orders of groceries and kitchen cleaners from the local Shop Rite, libelous and harassing letters and calls to neighbors and colleagues. Nixon never had the good fortune to live in the internet age, particularly the e-commerce age Nolle praises so relentlessly in his columns and press releases. If he had, he would have known a whole new world of effective ratfucking, one that includes spam, porn site registrations, the posting of internet personal ads, the malevolent use of online shopping opportunities… We ordered pizzas to be delivered to Nolle’s house from virtually every pizza shop in the Voorhees area. The bill from Papa John’s alone ran to over $78, and, as we subsequently learned, Nolle actually ended up buying those pizzas. The four pizzas we ordered from Domino’s Nolle angrily sent back. Every e-mail address listed on Nolle’s site, including Linda’s, was registered to a variety of porn e-mail delivery services. Worse than that, we signed him up for the infinitely more-annoying mailing lists of news services like CNN, clicking every box available (“Do you want a. Financial News updates? Sports news?, etc., etc…”). Yes, yes, yes, to every
Heisel worked the pizza, online-supermarket, and porn spam angle, while he and Rudnitsky both also dabbled in Nolle-inspired postings on gay-introduction sites. Since Nolle was kind enough to provide us with his picture, we reasoned, it made sense for us to use it to try to test the gay market for aging, mustachioed bears around the world. Heisel posted ads for Nolle on over a dozen gay sites and discovered an interesting phenomenon; his picture attracted no attention at all on hit-heavy Western sites, but scored a photo-bearing admirer (see picture) and a flowery e-postcard from the one Russian gay introduction site we accessed. Nolle’s ad read: “I’m a rich American, in Moscow for professional reasons, looking for a young Russian lover who will fuck me in the ear.” Those interested in seeing the ad can check out the site (love.omen.ru/ankets/MKQF2121752.html) and ponder which of the offered adjectives prompted two healthy young Russians to respond to Nolle’s ad. My bet is on the word “rich”.
Our suspicions about the relative success of Nolle’s appearance were confirmed by a poll on the eXile website, which posted Nolle’s picture over the question: “Would you have sex with this person under any circumstances?”
63 of the first 100 voters answered, “Not even to save my own child’s life”; and additional 28 answered a flat “No”; while 9 humorous fellows answered a cheery “Yes.”
Paris Weighs In
In a May 31st, 2001 article in the Economist, Nolle is quoted as having said, “There is no revenue credibility for new services on the Internet and that’s the fault of the west coast hippies.” Anthony Alles of Tahoe Networks agreed, saying that the graybeards who designed the Internet still insist on running it like a public utility, suggesting they should all “move to France.” An eXile operative in Paris gave Nolle a call to complain about the anarchists and hippies infesting France at Nolle’s compatriot’s suggestion.
CIMI Corp receptionist: Good afternoon, CIMI Corp.
eXile: (in ridiculous French accent) Yes, can I speak to Thomas Nolle please?
CCR: Who’s calling please?
eX: Eet ees Rodolphe Cricourian with France Telecom.
CCR: I’m sorry, could you repeat that please?
eX: Rodolphe Cricourian with France Telecom.
CCR: One moment, please.
[pause of about 10 seconds]
Tom Nolle: Tom Nolle speaking.
eXile (now speaking in French): Alors vous avez envoye tous ces hippies qui puent…
TN (interrupting, with concerned tone): I’m sorry… I, uh… don’t speak
eX: … la vache folle chez moi et alors ils foutent le bordel…
TN: (interrupting aqain, with same concerned tone, although perhaps more imploring this time): I’m sorry, sir, I don’t speak French.
eX: … A cause d’Internet et qu’est-ce que je fais maintenant???
TN: (hangs up).
Meanwhile, Heisel uncovered another Nolle quote from the Economist which read, “There is no revenue credibility for new services on the internet — and that’s the fault of the West Coast hippies.” His quote was followed by another from a colleague named Anthony Alles of Tahoe networks, who complained that the “graybeards who designed the internet still insist on running it like a public utility”, and suggested that those people all “move to France.” In response to this we had an eXile operative in Paris call up Nolle and demand, in French, to know where he can find this Alles character who was responsible for all of those goddamn hippies that were now living in his apartment (see box). Nolle hung up the phone, insisting that he did not speak French.
While all of this was going on, I was focusing on Nolle’s persistent theme of “hippie anarchists” not being willing to comply with “basic economic laws” and regulatory practices..
Betting that Nolle himself, as a one-horse basement corporation, had had his own regulatory run-ins, I called the New Jersey Department of the Treasury and
ordered status reports on all of Nolle’s current and previous corporations. This search turned up two hits. The first was that one of Nolle’s earlier business entities, a thing called “Telemetrix”, had been voided by state proclamation in June, 1993 for failure to file two consecutive corporate tax returns. The second was that the current business, CimiCorp, had not filed an annual report since May, 1999. From my previous experience working in a private detective agency, I knew that corporations legally had to file an annual report every year. I spoke to a Phillip Ranfrone at the New Jersey Treasury Dept. to ask about when the dissolution process for CimiCorp might be started.
“He hasn’t filed since when?” Ranfrone asked.
“May, 1999,” I said.
“Well,” he said. “We don’t start dissolving until they miss two consecutive years. So he’s still got some time. But if he’s got a history… well, we’ll see how it turns out.”
Armed with this information, I first sent a cheery letter to Tom and Linda informing them of my discovery:
Dear Tom, etc.
Matt Taibbi from the eXile here. Remember me? I sent you that letter last week from Russia…
Just had a quick question for you. I happened to called the New Jersey Secretary of the Treasury’s office, division of commercial filing. Had a really nice chat with a lady named Ann there — we talked for a good half an hour. Anyway, they’re still wondering why Telemetrix never filed its last two tax returns. I asked her if Tom’s status as the incorporator of a voided corporation would prevent him from becoming a listed officer of another corporation. She said — get this — she didn’t know!
So I ask her if I should call the IRS to ask them. She said, ‘That’s a good idea. They’d know.” Then I mentioned CimiCorp to her, and she said, “Oh, sure, definitely call the IRS. They’d probably want to know if he’s running another company.”
Incidentally, folks, you haven’t filed an annual report since May 1999. I know you’ve still got some time due to the new rule changes, but you’d better hurry it up.
I also asked Ann if she thought that having a voided corporation was such a bad thing that it would affect a businessman’s reputation. “For instance,” I said. “Say the incorporator of the voided corporation made a lot of his revenue from speaking engagements, and generated much of the p.r. for his new company by giving interviews to newspapers and magazines. If those venues that were hiring him to speak and those journalists were sent addended copies of Telemetrix’s history, would this be the kind of thing that would affect the way those people would regard him in the future?”
She took a long time to answer that one. “I don’t know,” she said. “Probably a lot of people wouldn’t know what they were looking at. But they might be moved to ask questions.”
Anyway, just wanted to know how business is doing. Incidentally, like the photos you provide on your site. Thanks to your forethought in providing varied pixel sizes, we were able to pick one large enough to take up our entire print cover in fair resolution.
See ya in the funny papers.
editor in chief
Again, no answer from Nolle. Undeterred, I began sending letters to Nolle’s colleagues, whom he was kind enough to list on his site. Here’s a selection from his bio:
“A prolific writer, Tom is a columnist for Business Communications Review (where his column focuses on issues at the service demarcation point), Network Magazine (‘Wide Angle’), and Network World (‘Reality Check’), and also contributes articles to these and other publications. He is also the author of our newsletter, Netwatcher…Tom is a member of the IEEE and ACM. He’s one of less than 4,000 who have been members of the IEEE Communications Society for 20 years or more.”
I began mass-mailing letters like the following one to the abovementioned business connections, using the storied technique of following up a true piece of information with a scandalous lie:
Dear Mr. Carr [executive editor of Network Magazine],
My name is Matt Taibbi. I’m the editor of an American newspaper based in Moscow called the eXile (www.exile.ru). I’m writing to you to ask if you might have time in the upcoming days to grant an interview about one of your columnists, Thomas Nolle, who is the subject of an investigative piece we’re preparing.
Mr. Nolle is the subject of a sort of journalistic experiment, in which we picked an “expert” cited in a major publication more or less at random, and worked to determine exactly how much of an expert that person was — the goal being to test the reliability of newspaper sources…
In our research into Mr. Nolle’s past, we discovered that he himself has not always complied with basic economic laws. His previous company, Telemetrix, was voided by the State of New Jersey for failure to file two consecutive corporate tax returns. The company was placed under tax suspension in June of 1993. The interesting part about this information is that we’ve been able to determine for a fact that the company was active until late 1992, which means that Nolle failed to pay taxes on a functioning business entity for at least one full year.
If you would like to verify this information yourself, all you have to do is click on “corporate status reports” at the New Jersey Treasury site:
Click on “browse business entities” from there and enter the name “Telemetrix.”
We also have information that Mr. Nolle was brought in as a material witness in a 1996 prosecution of a federal narcotics-related money-laundering case brought forward in Trenton, New Jersey, “U.S. vs. Daniel Higgins.” He was not charged in the case, but Telemetrix documents were impounded into the public record.
I’d like to talk to you about your relationship with Mr. Nolle, and the criteria you used in assessing his credentials to be an expert columnist. If you have some free time to talk, please send me an e-mail with the date/time I should call, and a telephone number. Either that, or we can communicate via e-mail. I’d be very interested to speak with you.
While some correspondents wrote back angrily declining the interview request, others, like Carr, took it seriously and immediately started passing the buck. In this answer, Carr makes it a point to let me know that he wasn’t the one who hired Nolle:
Thanks for your email, but I’m not really the person you should contact for this. I’ve only quoted Tom Nolle in a couple of stories — and only one as a senior editor for Network magazine — so I am not the person who hired him as a columnist. For your story, you should communicate with Network magazine’s editor in chief, Steve Steinke.
The Domino’s Secret
After generously ordering our friend Tom four large pepperoni and sausage pizzas from Voorhees’ only Domino’s Tuesday afternoon, we decided to follow up with a Wednesday call, as by this point Tom was surely hungry for more of the same.
Domino’s: Domino’s, can I help you?
eXile: Yeah, I’d like to order a pizza.
D: Phone number?
D: 6 Andover Court?
D: We can’t deliver there. You guys beat us yesterday.
eX: Excuse me?
D: You beat us.
eX: We beat you?
D: When we showed up with 4 pizzas yesterday, you guys said that Papa John’s had already been there and didn’t pay us.
eX: So you won’t deliver to me?
eX: I guess I’ll call the other guys.
These letters were followed by letters to the editor to all the publications which had quoted Nolle as a source. Here’s an excerpt from a note to the LA Times:
“As a journalist and media critic I believe that it is important to hold sources accountable for the substance of their comments — particularly when the mere mention of their names in a major publication like the Los Angeles Times reaps for them a tremendous public relations benefit. Nolle is a small-time independent consultant — his corporation, Cimi Corp, has a staff of two — who has parlayed himself into an international authority mainly on the strength of his regular appearances as a source in telecommunications-related feature articles (he was also recently quoted in the Economist). He always argues strongly in favor of further regulation and commercialization of the internet, and is taken seriously despite the fact that he is in bad standing with the state of New Jersey as a corporate officer precisely because of his failure to comply with regulatory practices.
Matt Taibbi, etc.”
The ratfucking continued. A call to the answering machine of Ed and Marilyn Mathany, neighbors of Nolle’s on Andover Court. “This is a message for the Mathany’s,” I said. “My name is Adam Moskowitz of the Drug Enforcement Agency in Newark… I’d like to ask you a few questions if you could, not about you, but about your neighbor, Tom Nolle… Please call me in Newark at 973-273-5000.”
Next up: Nolle’s cherished “Netwatcher” newsletter. The extent to which this newsletter symbolizes Nolle’s sizable intellectual pretensions (one graphic on the site, meant to represent the CEO, showed a sort of sleek futuristic humanoid with an overcharged brain bursting out of its skull-casing with unruly electrical currents) can not be underestimated. Here is Nolle discussing the ground rules for consumption of “Netwatcher.” Readers please take note of the section, in the second paragraph, where Nolle explains that the potential subscriber must be good enough to meet Nolle’s high standards before he will even deign to sell him his $195 subscription:
“Approximately a year of back issue extracts are available here on our website. About a third of the content in a given issue is held for subscribers only. The December Annual Technology Forecast and the Market Area Focus section are never provided online. We recommend that you review these to measure their value to you before you subscribe. We will not provide samples of complete issues, so please don’t bother to ask.
“Netwatcher is a controlled circulation publication for insiders in the telecommunications field. Those applying for subscription will be asked to provide proof of qualifications in the form of company affiliation, job title, etc. Subscriptions are $195.00 per year for individuals; company licenses are priced based on number of employees. Contact us for details on company license terms. Back issues are available to subscribers only, at a price of $25.00 per issue. All prices are in US dollars. Click here for subscription details.
“CIMI Corporation will pay a reward of $500.00 for information that leads to the successful prosecution of copyright infringements relating to Netwatcher. Please contact us if you believe you have uncovered such a practice.”
Out of the country but in touch, Krazy Kevin immediately suggested an idea. We ourselves would violate Nolle’s Netwatcher copyright, then call him up to claim the reward. Bounding into action, eXile webmaster Yegor Shipovalov posted a lengthy extract of Nolle’s June issue (pulled from the site, despite the fact that Nolle expressly prohibited this) and posted it on our site, under a Dan Higgins byline.
A few hours later, Rudnitsky called the CimiCorp offices to claim the reward. He got Linda, apparently a younger woman with a heavy New Jersey accent, on the phone. Jake explained that he wanted to inform them of a copyright infringement involving Netwatcher, etc. etc. She listened politely for a few minutes, then asked Jake for his name and telephone number:
“My name?” Jake said. “Michael McFaul. I work for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. My number in Washington is 202-932-2322…”
For some reason, either McFaul’s name or his employer did not sound plausible to Linda, and finally she revealed a glimpse of the eXile-created tension in the CimiCorp offices:
“Oh, I know what this is aw-ll about!” she shouted angrily, and hung up the phone.
Seizing upon the fact that Cimicorp was now likely to hang up on any caller with an unusual story, I immediately dialed the Voorhees police department:
VP: Voorhees township police department.
eXile: Um, yes. I’d like to report a domestic dispute, involving my neighbors.
VP: Where are you located, sir?
eXile: On Andover Court. My name is Ed Mathany.
VP: Where’s that, Ed, Andover Court?
eXile: [quickly, having studied map] It’s off Forest Hills Drive.
VP: Oh, okay. I see it. What makes you think there’s a domestic dispute?
eXile: Well, there was a lot of shouting, and I heard the sound of breaking glass… and, frankly, this isn’t the first time. It’s a couple, they work together, they have a lot of problems…
VP: What’s the address where you think there might be a dispute?
eXile: 6 Andover Court.
VP: And are you hearing that shouting now?
eXile: No, it was about twenty minutes ago.
VP: (sighing) Okay, well, we’ll send someone over when we get a chance.
Impulsively I then called Michael McFaul and left a message on his voice mail: “Mr. McFaul, my name is Thomas Nolle. I’m an internet consultant in New Jersey. I need to speak with you immediately on a matter involving a newspaper called the eXile. My number in Camden county is (856) 753-0004…”
With any luck, Linda would then have one more person to hang up on…
While all this was going on, investigations were continuing in another direction. I can’t reveal how, but we got hold of Nolle’s social security number. As soon as it turned up, I sent Nolle a note:
202-32-8896? You’ve gotta be kidding me! My Social Security number is only nine numbers different than that!
As I was writing that, Heisel was using this and other information we had gathered to order a MaasterCard in Nolle’s name… Not that we’d ever use it, mind you, but it would be a nice thing to have. We’re told it will arrive in Moscow within two weeks.
Ten years ago this month — at last we get to the retrospective — I was watching the August putsch on television from a friend’s house in the hippie capital of the world, Woodstock, New York. It was a critical moment in my life; I’d just made a discovery that had changed my world view forever. The discovery came during a year-long period during which I had been regularly treated by psychiatrists for extreme hypochondria. I’d passed a whole winter unable to sleep, focus, socialize, even so much as read a page of a magazine, so convinced was I that I was dying of some dread and mysterous brain disease. Psychiatrists who treated me tried to help me out of it by discussing my relationships with my parents, but I wasn’t cured until I had completed a battery of expensive physiological exams, including MRIs and countless X-rays and blood tests. What I found out during that period was that modern science, and modern doctors, knew almost nothing. If I was dying of some mysterious brain disease, they would never be able to tell me for sure. They openly admitted to me that their jobs, ultimately, came down to guesswork. By August I was coming to terms with the reality of being alone in nature, essentially left to fend for myself against the horrible things in life. A year later, believing that no life strategy was inherently safer than any other, I’d moved to Russia and then Uzbekistan, where I drank water out of the tap and quickly learned to thrive in the philosophy of Being Fucked.
People like Thomas Nolle — who fight all their lives to support the super-rich regulators and profit-mad corporations that have no use for them — generally never learn to comprehend what Being Fucked is all about. They live to advanced ages (Nolle is 59) continually believing that someone up there will always be ready and willing to help decent citizens like themselves, so long as they do their part in the form of constant public tribute to their masters.
But nobody will be help save Thomas Nolle from us. Having been on the business end for many such calls back in the days when I worked in the detective agency, I know exactly what will happen if Nolle tries to call the relevant authorities to complain about us, the relevant authority here being the FBI and/or other federal law enforcement agencies.
After all, it’s not as though we’re in neighboring Camden; to deal with an aggressor in faraway Russia, one must apply to interstate powers. When he calls those, they will ask what we did. He will tell them about the pizzas and the spam, which they’ll laugh at. The letters? They’ll ask about a direct and immediate physical threat. When he tells them that no, there was not exactly a direct threat, they’ll tell him to call when he gets one. The letters to colleagues? A civil matter — he can sue if he likes, only not in Moscow. The domestic abuse report? A matter for the state or local authorities.
In short, he will discover that the distance between the present and a future which involves my arrest at JFK airport is dauntingly large. Small people with small problems do not interest large powers with large caseloads. It makes you wonder about the logic of little guys like Nolle fighting against scraggly hippies and anarchists. Because the truth is, he’s in the same boat with them. In the lower social strata, everybody’s an anarchist, living in anarchy — only some know it, and others find out… too late.
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