True story of a struggle session
"You could be excused for thinking the owl is the victim."
Mike Crumplar has posted his memories of his weird Dimes Square humiliation ritual, an event at which I also was present. It was definitely a cool (and cruel) experience—like being in a flock of crows, when they mob an owl. You could be excused for thinking the owl is the victim. The owl is, of course, the predator.
I actually have no idea what the director was doing with this footage. I can’t imagine what kind of film will be made out of it. Crumps’ narration is more or less accurate until it reaches the part in which he takes the lead—at which point it becomes, well, rather self-serving.
Let me explain what’s going on here. Basically, all dissident scenes are super nice, simply because no one enters the scene to be a striver. But Crumps is a striver—in fact, a predator. He has figured out how to work it.
His specialty is one that was all too common in the late Soviet world: get invited to the scene just by seeming super nice and open and friendly, than stab anyone who trusts him in the back with some rotten, half-sharp orc-bone of hackneyed regime propaganda that was probably fresh and exciting in 1971. I’ll bet he loves to serve as an “anonymous source,” too. Anything to get good press.
He pulled this on an indie New York filmmaker, Betsey Brown—succeeding, if I hear correctly, in getting her film pulled from a theater for “transphobia.” So as far as I can tell (I have no real information) the director of this event, Peter Vack, Betsey’s brother, set up this little Murder on the Orient Express revenge scene.
It is certainly interesting to be in the crowd in a struggle session. Usually, for obvious reasons, I identify with the poor schmuck on stage in the airplane position. However, I’m afraid some people really do deserve to be struggled with. Harmless fun!
To report my narration as correctly as my memory can, I said two things on camera to the owl in question. First, I said something like:
“Michael, the last time I was in New York, you sent an email to me asking me to hang out. I didn’t answer that email. Did you know why?
“It was because several separate people warned me about what you do: to make friends with dissidents, and then stab them in the back. Now I see you’ve done the same to Betsey. Maybe you should take a moment to think about your MO?”
Crumps, somewhat taken aback, managed to produce a wonderful reply, accompanied by a true Peter Strzok, cat-that-ate-the-canary smirk:
“Well, it’s working out pretty well for me.”
Then, after people told him he should try making art instead of being an informer, he protested that his criticism is his art. It’s certainly true if you’re Edmund Wilson or Yvor Winters. Of course, there is good art and bad art. Most bad art is in the boring official style of its period. I said.
“The other day I was reading the Atlantic Monthly, and it had a little ad between two paragraphs. The ad was from MasterCard. It said: “LEARN TO MAKE PAYMENTS SAFE FOR TRANSGENDER AND NONBINARY PEOPLE.
“I think, Michael, that when you’re attacking independent artists on the basis of the ideology of MasterCard, not to mention every other powerful institution on the planet—maybe just think?”
I don’t recall a witty response to this one, alas. Then, as Crumps said in his piece, someone started a rousing chant of “Tranny Chaser.” Those who mock the moment have never felt the power of collective defiance of authority—the crows, all together, standing up to the hungry owl. How else, in this day and age, do we become Spartacus?
Of course, Crumps is not actually a “tranny chaser.” He’s just a status chaser. But this is boring, and not funny. Whereas the future is funny, and not boring. Sorry, Crumps.