Chances are, if anyone has managed to find themselves under some sort of surveillance, it’s me. Me and Father Guido Sarducci . . . or, Lazlo Toth . . . or, as he is known to his family, Don Novello.
I say that because many years ago, I read this book called The Lazlo Letters. In this book, Lazlo Toth gums up the works of government, corporate offices, and general PR departments with letters bearing the strangest of assertions, requests and tirades.
The book was cool. I also realized: Hey, I have a typewriter too, and like nothing more than trolling people–not for harmful reasons, mind you–just to see if I can plonk people off their A-game.
This happened in the 90’s, when Ralph Nader came to our community college. Now, back then, I was writing for an areas and entertainment local known as The Flying Penguin. Knowing him to be a man of whom grave concern was his hallmark, I showed up with a makeshift press badge–and got in to the press conference.
He took question after question about policy, infrastructure and a host of other subjects that HE finds energizing, but takes a guy like me to the edge of Seppuku.
Finally, after answering some algorithmic, infrastructural conundrum, I raised my hand.
“How tall are you?” I asked. It threw him a bit.
“How tall am I? Six four if I stand up straight. Next.”
I caught him for the follow-up.
“Is it true you published a cookbook with your mom, sir?”
I said it with all the gravity a journo might lay out one of those Benghazi/Iran Contra herrings. This time, he paused and sort of smiled.
“Yes, as a matter of fact I did.”
“Would you mind telling us what that is in case one of us would like to obtain a copy?”
He went on to explain it. And the book really does exist.
It was this moment–that it occurred to me. Reactions to the peripheral sideswipe are awesome.
Which is why I wonder why the Pentegon didn’t just channel 9 this letter I wrote them:
But instead, they address me as if I’m sitting right there in the war room. Red phone and all:
That’s why, if anyone wants to see that double-helix of surveilled names, I do.
And I’m looking to see what I’ve been up to.