Sunday, July 27, 2008

We had a scare up here Thursday in a storm that lasted for the majority of 24 hours. There was constant thunder, lightning and rain--unimaginable amounts of water at times, falling hard in torrents. Roads were flooded and closed, property was damaged. And then the tornado struck.

In the aftermath, the National Weather Service hemmed and hawed about what it really was but local authorities and residents had no doubts at all. It snaked its way through several counties, destroying and damaging houses all along the way, and dropped to earth especially hard in Deerfield, the next town to ours northwest, where a woman died when her house collapsed on her. This was maybe fifteen miles from us, but we had little or no wind at all here.

The next day, the NWS got its act together and confirmed that, yes indeed, it had been a tornado—a rare but by no means unknown event for Northern New England, and one which we’re told will become more frequent with the deepening of global warming.


I’ve finally activated my gym membership. I took it out just after I’d broken my ankle last November, taking advantage of the opening offer of virtually give-away monthly fees even if I couldn’t use it right away. But once I was back on my feet, it seemed if every time I was on the verge of going, there was some project meeting or some job to be done on the house that kept me from getting it into my schedule.

So now I’m following up on my weight loss and the beginning of the firming up of what’s left. I’ve never been to a gym before but am enjoying it. It’s a Planet Fitness, the only facility in the immediate area, and on one level it’s a bare bones operation. It has exactly one shower stall in the smallish men’s locker room and no place anywhere to sit—not even a bench on the main gym floor to rest for a moment between machines.

On the other hand, it’s scrupulously clean, brand new and the machines are easy to use for a complete novice like me. I’ve established a schedule of three visits a week--Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons—and I’m keeping to it.


The Golden Boy That Never Was

Some of you are aware of the “Nicky Cooper Blog Fraud” situation that’s blown up this last week. I’ve been following it closely. I not only read and corresponded with “Nicky”, it’s possible that one aspect of my family life was appropriated by the western Canadian grandmother who originated the fraud, and incorporated into the fictitious Nicky’s life.

For those of you who never read Cooper’s Corridor or it’s successor Nico’s Niche, “Nicky” (short for Dominic, not Nicholas) was presented as a young, gay Forestry Service fireman of exceptional eloquence and sensitivity from northern British Columbia. He wrote of his romance with nature in a deeply personal style that can only be called luminous or radiant or, as I recently noted in a comment after the whole affair unraveled, of transcendent beauty. An indication of the reach of “Nicky’s” appeal was that German blogger Martin Wisser of Martininbroda, wrote me two days ago to inform me kindly that he had quoted my descriptive phrase in his entry, Die “Nicky-Cooper-Saga”: “und die Phrase der „transzendenten Schönheit“ rührt von diesem Gentleman her.”

As I’ve mentioned on my blog from the beginning, I raised my two daughters adopted from Korea as a single father. I haven’t shown pictures of them because I’m the member of the family who decided to blog in public, they weren’t. But I have discussed the vital part they play in my life, including my coming out.

One night I got an email from “Nicky”: he knew I’d raised two children alone, admired my accomplishment and hoped I’d give him some advice. He’d been contacted about two little boys who needed a home with the hope that he’d make one for them and eventually adopt them if everything turned out well. What did this mean in terms of juggling a career and family, how had I managed, did I think he could manage?

I wrote back at length. Sure, I said, there had been problems and frustrations but all that had paled to insignificance beside the joy of raising my children, which had become the central and defining event of my life. I told him of some support systems he had to make sure were in place, of what he could expect in terms of demands on his time, and other big changes he should expect in his life. I told him I thought he’d be a great father, and I offered him my support at any time he needed to talk. We had some further email exchanges. Not long after, Dario and Matteo entered “Nicky’s” life and we saw lots of pictures of the little boys in the light- and love-filled home "Nicky" was making for them.

Then there was a strange interruption—the blog disappeared, there were charges of plagiarism, and a fight broke out on the Joe.My.God blog over “Nicky” and blog ethics.

But “Nicky” came back with an invitation-only blog he claimed was necessary to protect him and the boys from hostile people’s comments. Those of us who were included on his access list rallied ‘round and the love feast continued—until last week. The story came out; behind the glowing façade of the poetic boy with the storybook kids, once the fairy tale bubble popped, there was NO “Nicky”—indeed there never had been. The two images seen here were his official blog pictures--I have no idea who this man really is.

The story, midwifed by Joe of Joe.My.God and Father Tony of Perge Modo and confessed by grandma herself to Joe, was that a large amount of “Nicky’s” prose was lifted virtually verbatim from the blog of a young mother raising her family in the wake of losing one child of a set of twins soon after their birth.

Dario and Matteo are actual little brothers in the care of their grandmother who, we are told, developed an alternate personality she internalized in early childhood and gave the name Nicky. Cooper’s Corridor was her attempt to personify Nicky and give him some form of reality via the gay blog community. After the Corridor was taken down when plagiarism was exposed, Nico's Niche was her defiant return to blogging behind the flimsy protection of the closed list of invited readers. Plagiarism continued.

Now all this could be considered just a benign prank like some of the other fake blogs that have been exposed over the years. For example, two Aussie blogs called Dalai Banana and Rex Mottram were both busted, the former with some deep resentment over the sympathy and support its author invited by faking a savage gay bashing that had never taken place.

But the Canadian grandma, in my opinion, stepped way over the line and became toxic when she led three young men into email romances with "Nicky", allowing and/or encouraging one of them to travel to British Columbia where, of course, there was no “Nicky” to be seen. The story, that he was out on the fire lines and couldn't see the beau who had invested considerable time, money and emotion to come calling, was all this man had to return to New York with.

At the moment there’s a great swirl of opinions, theories, and some charges that other blogs that had become involved with “Nicky” are also fakes, generated by the same obviously extremely needy grandma support of her primary fraud. Questions are being raised about trust, gullibility and the morality of life on the internet.


The Wit and Wisdom of George W. Bush

I have a different vision of leadership. A leadership is someone who brings people together.

I am so thankful you guys are safe but very sad for those nearby who have lost much. I wish you all better days ahead. As for Nicky, as with you, "he" and I had emailed many many times in private. The whole thing has left me wild-eyed. Bewildered. Feeling odd.
Oh buddy, I actually heard about that storm on the American news we get here, I am glad your guys are safe, the damage looked terrible
I'm glad you guys weren't in that path (I'm assuming all is well with the house after the crazy weather).

Yeah, I suppose there was something that made me back away from the Cooper's Corridor blog, but I'm not sure what. Maybe it was that sense of uncertainty I've learned to feel with the occasional blog that just feels... off. Not sure if I was thinking that in this case though. But it turned out to be true.


I would much much MUCH prefer a fake blog that was all about a fabulous, wonderful, amazing life - you know, a life no one leads and is therefore fun to read about.

I don't get what point there is to fake things about a mildly difficult life. I mean, not even really awful, just hard knocks here and there. Why fake that?
I'm glad the tornado(es) missed you. You're certainly right that tornadoes have been an issue in New England before, although not as common as in places like the Midwest. The 1953 outbreak was horrible, with dozens of people killed, although that did its worst damage south of where you are.

Speaking of disasters, good recap of the Nicky mess. I can deal with all of the lies and such that were aimed at us. I don't like what may have been taken from your history and what clearly was taken from Kate's blog, but even those didn't really get me angry. Sad and sympathetic for both of you, but not really boiling. What really got me angry is what you also mentioned. Our friend Patrick was played with emotionally, to the point that he traveled the width of a continent in pursuit of a fabrication. Patrick is one of the sweetest men one could hope to meet, and this person played with his emotions and stomped on his heart. Patrick, being Patrick, is taking the high road, so I'm trying to do the same. After all, if he isn't getting angry, how can I? Still, it's not easy to just ignore what was done to him.
Wow. Tornadoes in New Hampshire. Glad you guys are ok; and i hope the next half of the summer dries out a bit, as it is proving to do here in the allegheny foothills. And it's hard to fathom what anyone's motivation would be in impersonating someone at cooper's corridor i have to say. Why? I guess the world is full of fakers and poseurs.
Whew! You scared me for a second with that picture of a guy standing in his bedroom with no wall. Glad you are okay. We are getting storms almost every day here for the last two weeks. Everything is so wet.

Saw the picture below of the fisher, I assume it is the same as the ones we have here, so do fear for your cat, as here they have learned that cats make an easy meal.
i love storms but I forget they do real damage to people's lives.

i thought of you last weekend when we were at the Santa Fe Opera, for the American Premiere of "Adriana Mater". I think you would have liked it.
Lewis--yes, I know the feeling. Amazing how real he seemed.

romach--thanks. I was surprised your news picked the story up, but then remembered seeing coverage here of your heat waves and North Sea storms in the past.

atari--I think we both probably read some of those fabulous life fakes you speak about. Although I know there are sexual supermen out there (and have actually known one whose exploits I know for sure to be true) I think one or two of the three a day every day blogs may at least exaggerate a lot if not be outright invention.

Jess--Patrick is indeed a lovely guy. We've shared one or two emails and I bake his bread recipe on occasion. He's being very generous--I would probably have sued the hell out of grandma to recover my travel expenses.

Sam--everything here is sodden. Our new front door has swollen so much it can't be closed. But we're in a perpetual tropical weather pattern; even when we're not getting an all-day soak we get late afternoon thunder storms. We so need to dry out!

Steven--it almost certainly is the same fisher as we have here. I looked them up and they are spread out over virtually all of North America. And thanks for the concern, but my cats are always indoor cats. I couldn't take coming out some day and seeing one of them dead in the road, or even coming back inside infested with fleas and ticks.

Michael--I have GOT to get to santa Fe some time in the summer. I've been in the town but never during opera season. Fritz and I have heard some of Kaija Saariaho's music played by the Boston Symphony and liked it very much.
Sorry to be late to the fray. I think the concept of "fake blogs" is very troubling. Not long ago, I was caught up reading one called "The Bent Collective" and enjoyed the good writing, the importance of the subject matter, and the handsome "lead blogger" who was supposed to be both hot and intelligent, a combo that leaves me weak. Of course, that blog was busted by the God of Biscuits, and then unraveled from there. I felt taken in, a rube, a gullible human being susceptible to others' machinations.

In old AOL chatrooms, there was one woman who appeared, became a regular, and slowly unveiled a sad story of her own marginal existence, and after several months enjoyed the trust of many. Eventually, she convinced some people of her dire straits and got them to send her money. She disappeared shortly afterwards.

The internet is a wonderful place, but it's relative anonymity is a double-edged sword. I look forward to the day when everyone has to use their own name and stand behind it, just like in real life. That might put an end to spamming, flaming, flame wars, and least for awhile.
It sure has been a stormy July. I have to admit I'm jealous of the 24 hour thunderstorm. And for the record, I'm real ; )
i know you check in with my blog from time to time, will (which fact i appreciate, btw)--you might find my recent story of "marcus" interesting in much the same way as did i yours of "nicky."
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