Secret Pop

Oct 1, 2006

Identity theft is so Buddhist.*

So I posted to my MySpace blog last week, because it had been brought to my attention that there was someone calling herself Jessica in New Haven, Connecticut, using pictures of me on her profile and passing them off as her. So I guess it's more appearance theft than identity theft. But it's theft anyway. Ten out of her twleve profile pictures are photos of me. They were all taken in various parts of 2004, and they are all copyrighted. By me.

I wrote to MySpace requesting they get involved. (There hasn't been any response yet, by the way. I know we hear this argument all the time, but honestly, for the amount of money that was paid to purchase MySpace, you'd think by now they would have been able to staff up and start offering some actual customer service. But no.) The way you do that is to send them what's called a "salute." Basically, you have to take a picture of yourself holding a handwritten sign that reads and then your friend ID. You send that to them, and then you send them the URL of the profile that is attempting to pass itself off as you. And theoretically, they swoop in and fix everything.

In a show of passing but pitiable dumbness, I remember having a flash of concern that this Jessica could send them a picture and get them to shut down MY profile. It took me a second or two to realize, "Oh, wait. She can't do that, because she isn't me. So if she were to take a picture of herself holding up this sign, the picture would reveal that she isn't me. Because she isn't. Duh." I shared this lapse with Beulah, and she confessed to having thought the same thing. And she's a school teacher.

I have thought about this situation for the past week, as I've been waiting for MySpace to respond. I suppose there's room to be flattered that someone in need of a fake appearance would choose mine. The profile is not intended to use my image to satisfy anyone's chubby fetish. Jessica is not telling anyone that she -- wearing my face and body -- is some cock-hungry whore or multi-level marketer. I just took issue with the fact that this fake me would say that her musical likes are Enya and Buddhist chants. And that she would make all of the content of her profile about how much she's into Buddhism and helping others, especially children. I was discussing it with my brilliant friend Simon over IM last week, and he said, "You should write, 'Fuck you, Jessica,' on your hand and take a picture. Or how about writing something hurtful about the Dalai Lama on your body, take a nude picture, and email it to all her MySpace friends." I love the idea of getting back at this person by maligning the Dalai Lama. Not that I believe for a moment that she's really a Buddhist. Or that she's really a she for that matter. And what's the point of pretending to be so enthusiastic about Buddhism? I don't think a lot of hot girls are going to be sending nude pictures of themselves to Jessica with a rap like that. And I'm assuming that's the idea. But I'm no psychologist. Is there money to be made in Buddhist evangelism? I'm assuming there isn't, but I haven't really done my homework.

A number of my friends have written to Jessica, as have I. The gist of my message was just, who are you and why are you using pictures of me. My friends may have phrased their queries with more verve. MySpace lets you see when someone has read your message, and I've confirmed that "she" has read mine but just chose not to respond. She didn't accept any of their friend requests either, so no one has been able to post comments to her profile or photos. The one of me with my min pin Audrey that is captioned, "Me and my puppy Tina," is particularly irritating. As is the one of me at Coachella wearing a Duran Duran baseball cap and captioned, "Duran Duran is my band." The one that is captioned "Saturday night" was actually taken in the middle of the day on a Monday. I remember it distinctly, as I was on my way to LACMA to meet a guy for coffee, and it was my friend Angie's birthday. Beulah and I have taken to referring to Audrey as Tina now, just to amuse ourselves. But everyone knows "Tina" is a dumb name for a dog.

It seems that Jessica has not signed on since reading my message, so I assume that she -- like me -- is just waiting for MySpace to summarily pull the plug. I wish there was some hope that the mystery would actually be solved. But I doubt I'll ever find out if this was a prank or something more sinister, if it was executed by someone who actually knows me or just by someone who has been to my web site enough to have collected a few photos they liked. The photos were all pulled from my Roundup page but from a few different sets and from a few different time periods. So that has an element of creepiness to it. Generally, no one gets weirded out when they find out someone likes them. But when they like them enough to have done their homework...that's a horse of a different color.

So I'm in San Diego now. I played the late show and the midnight show at the comedy theater. I was exhausted, but the shows went all right. My eyes are burning, and I am filled with a form of disquiet about a number of things. Tina is curled up sleeping beside me, but when I got home, I realized that she had splattered a few of my parents' carpeted steps with liquid shit. So I spent a half hour or so cleaning that up, much to my dismay. I really do need the help of the Dog Whisperer. As cute as she is, she is a ridiculous handful. But I don't want to apply to be featured on the show, because I don't want the world to make fun of my cluttered apartment.

I've been uploading photos to my Flickr photostream for the past week or so. I have more than 21,000 photos uploaded so far. And there are many, many more to go. That verges on mindblowing. I have taken a gigantic lot of pictures in the past few years. A crazy, inexcusable lot. If only I could focus some of that energy on all the other things I still have to do.

Kerstin and I are trading writing projects. I've got a Channel 101 pilot idea that I think could fly. I've got a friend's screenplay to rewrite, and I've been sitting on that one for ages. I've got a thousand one- or two-sentence ideas that could easily be fleshed out if I would just stop destroying the muscles in my right arm moving pictures and photo sets around on the Flickr web site with my notebook touchpad. My right forearm is noticeably Popeye-ified. And that can't be good.

My plan tomorrow is to wake up at a reasonable hour, maybe go swimming a little bit, then go down to Mission Valley to take executive portraits of my clients, for whom I am designing a fundraising prospectus. Then I will drive back to Los Angeles and hopefully get back in time to perform in a show at Improv Olympic West with Lunch with the Girls. I played my first show with them last week. I don't know that I distinguished myself so terrifically, but I did get to play Teddy Ruxpin in one scene. I only wish I knew more of the phrases Teddy actually said.

Anyway, I'm extraordinarily tired. I even overslept this morning and didn't make it to San Diego in time to sing at a funeral I had agreed to sing at. I'm pretty sure that makes me an awful person. But then I've never tried to pass myself off as anyone else. So maybe it all balances out.

*Beulah Forrest

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