The International Writers Magazine: Comment
I recently took a domestic flight from New York to Dallas. During the flight, the knucklehead steward wrongly understood my drink order four times in a row. By way of excuse, he offered “I can’t understand your New York accent”.
That must be the distinction between Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese. The written characters are the same, but there is incomprehension about the spoken syllables. No matter. It’s more desirable for the anthropologist to enjoy a certain degree of separation from his subject matter. I don’t want to end up as attached to Middle America as Jane Goodall had become to her apes, where she sacrificed her life to protect them. Not bloody likely!
I come to bury Dominique Strauss-Kahn not to praise him. Nevertheless, the words of former Harris County, Texas, district attorney Chuck Rosenthal, who served from 2000 to 2008 and who was responsible for multiple death row executions in that state, provide a coherent defense strategy for Strauss-Kahn’s alleged behavior in a Times Square hotel, where he allegedly violently attacked a Sofitel Hotel maid, forced her to perform oral sex on him (whereupon she spat out the semen, providing indisputable DNA evidence for the prosecution) and attempted to rip off her undergarments so he could rape her before she finally succeeded in fleeing.
Strauss-Kahn allegedly then fled to JFK International Airport, from which he inexplicably phoned the hotel’s security staff, who had sequestered the maid for several hours without informing the New York Police, and gave them his location. The reason for his calling is that he had fled the hotel in such great haste that he had left his cell phone behind, presumably containing the direct line phone numbers of such huge movers and shakers as President Obama and the Pope, among others. Whatever motive the Sofitel executives had for delaying in reporting the maid’s accusations to the police, when Strauss-Kahn gave them his location they were immediately compelled to contact the authorities.
After spending a week in jail at Rikers Island, which has no stars in the Michelin Guide, Strauss-Kahn won release on a million dollars cash bail and a five million dollar bond to house arrest in a fifteen million dollar condo in downtown Manhattan designed by an Italian architect and featuring indoor waterfalls, more appropriate to his (then) status as the head of the International Monetary Fund.
The defense he has engaged for the case, who are all astronomical bigshots, has already asserted that the sexual encounter between Strauss-Kahn and the hotel maid was consensual. Until today I never would have believed that any jury could be impressed by such a lame assertion, except for the fact that two New York City Police officers have just this day been exonerated by a jury for the alleged rape of a drunken woman whom they had been charged with violating after being summoned by a taxi driver who could not get her out of his cab. After an extensive criminal trial that established multiple wrongdoing by the two police officers, including repeated return visits to her apartment that night, a false 911 call by one of the officers that allowed them to return to the location and a recorded admission by one of them to her face that he had violated her in her drunken state, the two cops were let off the hook by the jury due to the lack of DNA evidence (the cop admitted using a condom during his taped meeting with the woman, which took place directly in front of the station house) and her admission that she was blind drunk when the cops took her upstairs up to her apartment.
As gullible as the jury was in finding room for reasonable doubt despite all the factual evidence and testimony that had been presented to them, the NYPD was not so indulgent, and it fired the two cops immediately following announcement of the trial verdict.
Nevertheless, the current New York State of Mind presents various tantalizing avenues of approach to the defense team representing Strauss-Kahn, who have already announced that they have uncovered several elements in the housekeeper’s background that could convince an impartial authority that the encounter was consensual.
What has already been revealed about the woman is already worrying enough: that she was enrolled in a program and was inhabiting a domicile reserved for female AIDS patients in the Bronx. Never mind that she is from Equitorial Guinea, which has one of the most elevated incidences of HIV in the world. In the US, which is the home of the Scarlet Letter of adultery, any suggestion of past sexual impropriety is already a social stigma.
But if your intention is to shift the burden of guilt from the presumed perpetrator, the (former) head of the IMF and (former) presumed Socialist candidate for the French presidency to the accuser, an unnamed, HIV-infected African hotel maid who only happened to find herself in the wrong place at the wrong time, I would like to propose a couple of other, less orthodox cenarios.
The first is the physical location of the Sofitel Hotel, right off Times Square, which already has a historic reputation for seedy, lascivious behavior. Oh sure, the mayoral administration of Rudolph Giuliani went a long way towards cleaning up the location and transforming it from a destination of vice and low-end behavior to a place where suburban parents could accompany their children to see a wholesome performance of Disney’s “Lion King”.
I have been around New York long enough to remember the old Times Square, where, for a handful of quarters, you could rent a peepshow cubicle and masturbate watching a dancer press her naked butt against a glass window partition. Then, when you left, a guy with a mop and a bucket of disinfectant would go in a performing “housekeeping”, all the time cursing “Aw! Jeez! fuck!” Not that I ever did that myself, perish the thought, but I have got plenty of (excuse the pun) first-hand accounts from people who did.
I come not to disprove the facts of the Strauss-Kahn dossier, but here I am to speak what I do know. The spirit world swarms about us like fish in the ocean, and Times Square is inhabited by the ghosts of perverts past, for whom the celestial delights of the infinite universe are as nothing to the allure of the bright lights of the Times Square of their terrestrial life, which was rich with earthly delights like massage parlors and toothless two dollar whores infected with every kind of exotic clap known to man. I even composed an animated poem about it, entitled “Forty Second Street”, which the reader can see on You Tube. That’s what qualifies me above anybody in New York to be able to express an informed opinion on the Strauss-Kahn case!
So let’s not split hairs. The Sofitel Hotel is located right smack in the center of Times Square, at 44th and Broadway, OK? Let’s say that Dominique Strauss-Kahn, chairman of the IMF and French presidential candidate, was rocked and inhabited by the spirits of the place and metaphysically compelled by ghosts to run amok and behave like a filthy barnyard animal, unloading his rocks on the first female presence that presented itself. He probably just jumped on her back from behind without even seeing her face, like a rooster. He was possessed by spirits! All you need is a creepy soundtrack, and you got the sequel to “The Exorcist”.
Look, it wouldn’t be the first time in history, right? The French are smarter than we are. Under French rules of etiquette, servants never present their back to the king, even when leaving his presence. They back out of the room, à reculons. Now we know why that custom developed: nobody, female or male, wanted to present their backside to the king for fear of being assaulted from behind like a subordinate monkey in the bush. This is crystal clear.
But even if my argument of spirits and monkeys fails to convince the jury, my recent trip to Texas has supplied me with an ironclad (maybe we should say, ironpants) defense for Strauss-Kahn’s incontinent behavior, and it concerns modern Americans’ present addiction to pharmaceutical therapy.
The former District Attorney of Harris County, which is Houston, Chuck Rosenthal, who prosecuted more death penalty cases than any other DA in the US, most of them involving black perpetrators, naturally, had to resign his post after it was discovered that he had been sending monstrous, racist email jokes from his office computer. One gag showed a black guy laying dead, surrounded by watermelons and KFC fried chicken buckets. It was captioned “Fatal Overdose”, as if the guy had died from eating too much greasy fried chicken.
After he was forced to resign, Rosenthal excused himself in a statement, which read, “Although I have enjoyed excellent medical and pharmacological treatment, I have come to learn that the particular combination of drugs prescribed to me in the past has caused some impairment in my judgment”.
No use in wondering how many innocent people were dragged out of their houses, set up, railroaded, framed, convicted and executed as a result of some unfortunate compound of pharmacological therapy prescribed by Rosenthal’s well-connected physicians. As Americans are fond of liturgizing, no point in dwelling on the past. Let’s move forward (so we can commit the same fuck-ups all over again).
But it makes you wonder what other abominable behavior is being committed as a result of an unfortunate cocktail of legal drugs that are prescribed by doctors. Everybody knows that doctors receive luxurious incentives from drug companies to prescribe their drugs. I don’t have any statistics to back up my assertion, but anecdotal observation of life in New York is enough to convince me that a sizable segment of the population is pill-popping with total impunity and committing material errors on a tectonic scale as a result.
O judgment thou art fled to brutish beasts
And men have lost their reason
Can the reader come up with a better explanation for the banking industry, the Knicks, the Mets, Sarah Palin, or a million other instances of mind-numbing stupidity than chemical compounds that succeed in making people feel better about themselves but concomitantly render them cretinous imbeciles, peasant mobs with torches and pitchforks? I should like to hear about it.
In the meantime, it sounds like a surefire defense strategy to me. The defendant was under medication that made him lose his mind and brutally assault a housekeeper through no fault of his own. All you need is to instill a modicum of reasonable doubt in just one juror, and Strauss-Kahn walks free. And the admission of former Harris County DA Rosenthal that he was for years a deranged, walking zombie, who sent multiple innocent victims to the electric chair because he was chemically insane lends an indisputable gravitas to the assertion. It’s not like Gilbert Gottfried excusing himself for being fired as the voice of the AFLAC duck because the wacko pills compelled him to Twitter rude jokes about the Japan earthquake. In this Rosenthal individual you have a distinguished attorney, practiced in sending indigent people to the electric chair. Just to make things worse, a scandal has erupted in Houston involving longstanding incompetence in the Harris County Police forensic laboratory, which presents a perfect storm of human imbecility at the prosecutorial level. What would you say if one of your friends or relations had died as a result of getting snagged and ground up by Counselor Rosenthal’s little death machine and you read his statement about being non compis mentis in the newspaper? Who could you complain to? Would you cry the blues? I know I would!
See, a dull-witted individual like myself might joke that Strauss-Kahn was off his medication when he attacked the chambermaid. Leave it to a smooth Houston attorney (and practiced liar) like former DA Rosenthal to come up with a more refined construction: he was not remiss in taking his psycho therapy, and it wasn’t the pills themselves that caused him to go haywire – it was the unforeseen combination and dosage levels of the drugs that interacted to create the imbalance. That’s perfectly calibrated, a totally reasonable argument that lets everybody concerned off the hook while creating the possibility of reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury.
Get some expert witnesses to explain to the jury that this is entirely feasible, and Strauss-Kahn walks free. Cite some statistics on how many hundreds of millions of people are strung out on those pills. I would love to see those statistics, if only for purposes of comedy, though the more you reflect, the more the entire scenario reflects the lotus-eating Soma addicts that populate Aldous Huxley’s classic futuristic farce, “Brave New World”.
As Emile Zola once wrote in connection with the “Affaire Dreyfuss”, “J’accuse”. I accuse Dominique Strauss-Kahn of being a spoiled, incontinent nut-job, or worse. I accuse Chuck Rosenthal of being a vengeful, racist purveyor of executions, or worse in connection with his years as drug-addled Harris County DA. I accuse the pharmaceutical industry and the medical profession of pushing useless medications on people who only need to firm up their psychological attitude to adversity. I accuse the commercial press for not taking a more aggressive approach with regard to the sequestration of the chambermaid for several hours, allowing Strauss-Kahn time to effectuate an escape that nearly succeeded, had he not mindlessly given them his location, which legally obliged them to pass the information over to the police. I accuse society at large for being duped by our own artificial, Photoshop layer-upon-layer texture of false reality, which, after you peel back the layers, reveals only nonsense. I accuse myself for even caring at all about any of this boring idiocy.
© Dean Borok May 29th 2011
It’s a dream come true for me to have French presidential politics determined in a New York City hotel room on the basis of a blowjob. Lately I haven’t been able to afford a visit to France, so France has come to me!
No Sympathy For The Devil
The people complaining about disrespectful treatment of Osama bin Laden’s corpse are in outer space. Hell, bin Laden never respected anybody else’s person