Soon we'll be away from here
Step on the gas and wipe that tear away
My law firm has sponsored a coed slow-pitch softball team for many years. Each season, someone on the team volunteers to write an account of each of the team's games, which he e-mails to everyone at the firm.
Every reader of 2 or 3 lines knows that it is about a lot more than just the songs it features. Likewise, the softball game accounts are not just about the games.
The current scribe for my firm's softball team and I are kindred spirits. For one thing, we both like to quote song lyrics. For another, we are both show-offs and narcissists.
I'm always on the lookout for free content for 2 or 3 lines. So I contacted the guy who writes the softball e-mails – who also is the team's coach – and asked him if I could do some wholesale cutting-and-pasting from his latest game account. After lengthy negotiations (which threatened to break down in the middle) he gave me permission to do so.
I'll leave out the boring stuff in the e-mail about the game itself, except to note that my firm's team trailed 9-3 after three innings. That's when the coach's mind began to wander:
As I sat in the bleachers swatting mosquitoes, I could not help but look out into left field and see the Lincoln Memorial.
Now I could regale you with a story about how President Lincoln in 1864 was worried about the Confederates acquiring all of the Union’s gold and how he told the Secretary of the Treasury (Salmon P. Chase) to take possession of all the bullion that belonged to the U.S. Treasury and have it buried throughout the District of Columbia in case Washington was taken over by the Confederates. This “buried gold” (projected worth today: $110 billion) would later be known as “Lincoln’s Gold.”
By 1865, this gold went missing, and after the war prospectors and treasure hunters would travel to Washington with their own ideas of where they thought “Lincoln’s Gold” was buried.
Yes, I could tell this story . . . but I will not.
[NOTE: The only possible source I have found for the legend of "Lincoln's Gold" is a 2000 episode of The Simpsons.]
The author continues:
However, just typing that story reminded me of a college friend named Alex Hidell who lived across the hall from me. He was the first of many great social engineers that I would come across in my life.
[NOTE: "Social engineering" refers to non-technical methods of intrusion used by computer hackers. It relies heavily on human interaction, and often involves tricking people into noncompliance with normal security procedures (e.g., choosing insufficiently secure passwords). It is one of the greatest threats to the integrity of modern-day computer networks.]
His view of the world was – and I quote – that “Life is a game where the rules are poorly written and designed for abuse.” Now, with a life creed like that, he is probably viewed in most people’s eyes as one of the worst people you would ever want to meet. I fell on the opposite end of the spectrum. I found him fascinating.
[NOTE: "Alek Hidell" was an alias used by Lee Harvey Oswald, the presumed assassin of President John F. Kennedy. I'm not sure if the author of this anecdote changed "Alek" to "Alex" because "Alek" is a much more common name in this country, or because he simply is a sloppy typist.]
I realized that Alex was not “normal” in the true sense of the word one night when we were a solid eight Miller Lites deep into old reruns of the TV show “Cheers.” Suddenly Alex pulled out out a telephone book. He picked a name at random and, with a smile, dialed the local electric company and pretended to be the person whose name he had chosen.
His goal? To get this guy’s electricity turned off. Why? He had no particular reason.
[NOTE: This reminds me of a friend of mine who used to call his landlady from bars and ask her (in a thick Mexican accent) "Ees Pedro there?" When she told him that there was no one named Pedro at that address, he cheerfully replied, "Okay . . . I call later!" He did this night after night, until the landlady was climbing the walls with frustration at his inability to comprehend that THERE WAS NO ONE NAMED PEDRO RESIDING AT THAT ADDRESS!]
Alex proceeded to pick a total of eight names, and was successful in six of his eight attempts to either have the electricity to that person’s house turned off, have the cable TV turned off, or have cable TV installed. (While on hold during one of these calls, he explained to me that “the main motivation of a customer-service rep is to placate the customer and to get you off the phone as soon as possible.”)
This is what Alex Hidell and his buddies did in high school for fun! (Seriously!) He would just get on the phone and act like a completely different person. I also recall him saying, “If you believe your lie . . . well, then it’s not really a lie, is it?”
What Alex did is reminiscent of what Mister Mxyptlk did to Superman in the comics. Mister Mxyptlk was a trickster who created havoc in Superman's life no apparent reason, but whose actions were generally harmless in the end.
[NOTE: Do you remember what Superman had to do to get rid of Mister Mxyptlk? He had to trick the trickster into saying or writing his name backwards. Once Superman did that, the annoying Mxyptlk had to return to his home in the 5th dimension and stay there for at least 90 days.]
Keep in mind that this was 1991. Now you see this type of Mister Mxyptlk-type behavior almost every day in your e-mail inbox, with phishing, baiting and computer viruses. Social engineering has gone electric just like Bob Dylan did in 1965, and the world was never the same.
But I’m getting off topic. This is no time to talk about the Mister Mxyptlk. Let’s get back to the game.
Actually, let's not get back to the game. (It was the sixth inning, and my firm's team was down 20-4.) Let's talk a bit more about Alex Hidell instead.
As for Alex Hidell, I heard that he may have died from a brain aneurysm back in 1996 at his desk at Raytheon. However, that never rang true to me. Knowing Alex, he probably just changed his name to Hisip Shin, moved to the suburbs, and quietly made malware just to annoy everyone.
The softball game account ends with the closing lines to "You Never Give Me Your Money" – namely, "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven/All good children go to heaven."
It is signed "Carl Lazlo," which was the pseudonym used in author Hunter S. Thompson's Where the Buffalo Roam for Thompson's attorney and friend, Oscar Acosta.
Here's the incoherent trailer for that incoherent movie:
Here's the incoherent trailer for that incoherent movie:
By the way, Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas featured a character named "Dr. Gonzo," who was also based on Acosta.
Thompson used these words to describe Acosta:
One of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.
In 1974, when Acosta was 39 years old, he disappeared while visiting Mazatlán, Mexico. According to his son, Acosta called just before his disappearance and said that he was about to board a boat "full of white snow." Acosta is presumed dead, but his body was never found.
Earlier this year, Time magazine included Acosta on its "Top 10 Famous Disappearances" list. Others on the list included Jimmy Hoffa, the Lindbergh baby, Grand Duchess Anastasia, Amelia Earhart, and D. B. Cooper.
Here's "You Never Give Me Your Money," which kicks off the famous 16-minute-long medley from side two of Abbey Road:
Click below to buy Peter Doggett's book about the post-breakup Beatles, which is titled You Never Give Me Your Money: