Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Anonymous Sources

george.jpg

Like everyone else, I get most of my reading done in the bathroom.  

First up was Psychology Today.  I was half-way through reading a cliched article about how cohabitation is bad, when I read this sentence:

"Charles, a 44-year old New Yorker (who asked that his name be changed) admits that in his 30s, he almost married a live-in girlfriend of three years for reasons having little to do with love."

Bored, I started thinking about Charles himself.   Why didn’t he give his real name?  Who is this guy?  How did the writer find this guy?  Did he just happen to perfectly exemplify the point the writer wanted to make?  Is this "Charles" her personal friend or did she meet him on the street?  Or does he even exist? 

Let’s make believe I want to branch out into writing articles for magazines or newspapers.  Let’s say I want to write an article on adults who love… say… Curious George books  (I’m looking at one on my bookshelf).   Where am I going to find people to quote?  How do I find someone who will tell me "I love Curious George."

Well, I do know this guy from college who used to have a Curious George keychain.  I guess I could call him up and ask him if I can quote him.   What if he doesn’t want me to use his name?  I guess I could change it to "Roger."

Or, to make it really easy on me — I can just make up a person:

Roger (his name changed), a stockbroker in New York, admits that he loves Curious George to this day, even carrying a Curious George keychain.

But that would get me fired, right?   Maybe that’s why I’m not writing articles.

Anyway, while I was still in the bathroom, I tossed aside the Psychology Today (does anyone remember when it used to be an legitimate magazine?) and opened up the New York Observer.  I love to keep up with the latest trends in New York. I started reading this article about how blue-eyed men were the flavor of the day in Manhattan, and tons of men were getting blue-colored contact lenses.   "How intriguing!" I thought.  But, then I reached this quote:

"I think blue eyes, on an unconscious level, create an impression of being sincere and trustworthy," said one 32-year-old female writer who pleaded anonymity, still nursing wounds inflicted by one blue-eyed bastard.

What’s this?  Another anonymous person who just happens to prove the writer’s point?   Is this luck or coincidence?

Looking to learn more, I asked Jill (not her real name), the 34-year-old editor-in-chief of a popular New York magazine, who told me that part of the writer’s job is finding people to quote.

"Interesting," I answered.  "And do you think I would be suitable for writing a freelance article for some big magazine."

"Absolutely," said Jill (not her real name).  "I’ve been reading your amazing blog and think you would be perfect for many assignments.  Hell, if there was an opening in my magazine, I would make you editor right now.  I would recommend you to any EMPLOYER out there.  Have you thought of working in TV again?  There’s more money in that."

Jill (not her real name) had a point. 

I decided to ask Trevor (fake name also), a 41-year-old TV producer of three top rated shows.   Trevor (fake name) was extemely excited to talk with me:

"Neil, you would perfect for so many shows.  You have such a creative mind.  I love that weird relationship you made up with that Sophia character."

"Well, she’s not exactly a character.  I mean she is a character.  But she is real.  We did get married seven years ago.  She does exist."

"And all that stuff about you being separated and still being friends.  That is so funny… sitcom stuff.   That’s all made up, right?"

"Actually, it’s true.

"Oh.  Well, then it’s pretty sad.  That’s too bad."

"Uh… what about the job you were going to give me?"

"Forget it.  You’re too much of a downer for sitcoms.  And I’m sure Jill (not her real name) agrees that you’re not right for magazines, either."

"You can’t do that or say that.  I made you both up.  You’re fake characters in a stupid blog.  You aren’t even a real editor-in-chief or a producer."

"Sorry.  Didn’t you ever hear of characters taking on a life of their own?  Now, please leave the office.  We have a lunch appointment with Brooke Shields at the Polo Lounge."

27 Comments

  1. it’s almost eerie how alike we think, Neil.

    or should i say, ME!

  2. Impersonator me, who asked that her name be changed to Daisy Mae, said she agrees.

  3. You’re on fire these days, aren’t you. (If you ever quote that, please call me Adrian.)

  4. I heard that you decided to turn your blog into a magazine–a blogazine if you will–from an industry insider at Staples, or was it Office Depot?

  5. Liking Curious George at your age, Neil? Does Sophia know about your fixation with hand drawn primates and have you discussed this at all with a shrink, who asks that his name not be used for fear of compromising his professional integrity? And I hadnt heard of this blue eyed thing; I think it’s a lot of hooey, myself; I have them and I can honestly say they havent done me any good.

  6. When I am in someone else’s bathroom, I usually read the pictures on the wall or the labels in the medicine cabinet.

  7. I am thinking about dusting off that old Curious George costume in the closet and go back out there just for old time’s sake now

  8. We recently had a “scandal” in my home town newspaper. In the “heard around town” column, the writers were pulling photographs off of an online database and then attributing quotes like, “my favorite band is Dave Matthews” to the people in the picture. The people weren’t even from this very small town! Two “journalist” were fired over it. My question was how hard is it to get quotes for this column in a town where making the local newspaper is true celebraty?
    Lesson – false quotes CAN get you fired. But not from your own blog.

  9. This is getting too post-graduate literature degree for me. I’ve lost track of what’s fictional and what’s auto-biographical. Is this even a real blog? Or a fictional one? Is it Citizen of the Month? Or Citizen of the Month (not its real name)? Or Citizen of the Month’s impersonator?

    Is this a blog about someone named Neil or a blog about a blog about someone named Neil? My head’s starting to hurt …

  10. Since I already use a fake name you can quote me “Neil is fabulous but the magazines he reads are actually back-issues that he lifts at his dentist, Shirley’s (not her real name), office and she wants them back, stating that her receptionist Jeremy (not his real name) has taken to stapling magnetic strips to them so that they set off a door alarm when patients try to walk off with them.”
    Conrad (not his real name) the President of the ADA (American Dental Association (not its real name) has been quoted in the press that “stolen magazines are the reason for the rising costs for a “drill and spit” (not the real name of the procedure)….

  11. Whoa. I’m such that imaginary producer when I’m not the imaginary me. Actually I think you just wrote the “Pierre Menard” of my imaginary “Don Quixote.” Why did I ever stop reading Philip K. Dick? Oh yeah, he doesn’t exist. For real.

  12. You definitely deserve your own sit-com on tv and column in a magazine! And you can totally quoke me saying that. Just be sure to list me as Seymour. Also, I’m pretty nosey when it comes to other people’s bathrooms. I usually will check the medicine cabinet to see if they have medications in there for vile and contgagious diseases. Safety first.

  13. I heard a blogger named Schmeil (probably not his real name) was saying that some other blogger’s blogs were “satanic, sexist, and pornographic.”

  14. I actually know “Charles,” the 44 year-old New Yorker. His real name is Devraj, he’s really 32, he’s from North Dakota, and he’s never lived with a woman. Maybe you shouldn’t be so worried about the journalist faking a the source, but the source faking his identity.

  15. Come on, Hope, now you’re pulling our legs. There is no one named Devraj in North Dakota.

  16. During my internship many many years ago I wrote a story about a boy who nearly drowned in the community pool. The boy was a minor so I couldn’t use his name. The lifeguard didn’t want to use his name, and none of the witnesses wanted to disclose their real names.

    My editor ripped it to pieces.

  17. Oooooooh….a sitcom. Now we have to cast it! Who plays Neil? Who plays Sophia? Who plays your parents?! Now this could be fun!

  18. That’s great. I wonder about that stuff, too. And you can quote me as supporting you on that– just use my blogging alias for my name. 🙂

  19. Someone hasn’t already come up with a javascript website that gives you quotes about any subject you could ever want a quote for?

    Blasphemy.

  20. That whole thing pisses me off, as a born again journalist and someone who hides behind the name “cookiebitch” (which has much more pop than Jill or Trevor.)

    There used to be very few circumstances you could let someone hide behind anonymity, the most common being that someone would kill them if they knew they squealed. Unless the mob has the market cornered on brown or green contacts, I have no idea why a blue-contact lover would not give their name.

  21. I’m with ya, Neil. I could make this stuff up, easily. What’s the point of all this anonmity?

    Have you read any Curious George lately? It’s pretty dead dull.

  22. Can the sitcom take place in Cleveland? That would be funny, right??? … Afterall, Drew Carey has been off the air for a while now, and we need a new show about us. 🙂

  23. Just got in and was shocked at some of the things said about that adorable Curious George!

    From the Curious George website:

    “Who isn’t smitten with Curious George? No matter your age, the inquisitive little fellow who always seems to get into one scrape after another has, in all likelihood, captured your heart.

    Perhaps his popularity lies in the predictability of his unpredictability. You know that the second the man with the yellow hat leaves the house, warning George to be careful, George is going to get into trouble. And when George starts getting into trouble, he only digs himself deeper.”

    Mogul and Groovebunny — remind me NOT to invite you into my bathroom.

    Pele — I’m glad I can’t get fired from my own blog. Finally, a job I won’t get fired from!

    Bad Maria — Actually my dentist has the WORST magazines — pretty much Highlights for Kids and GOLF.

    Anonymous (Meme) — When I said those three blogs were “satanic, sexist, and pornographic,” I meant it as compliments.

  24. Neil,

    You are really really really funny.

    NJ

  25. oh crap. what does anonymity say about me? hell, at least i’m amazing.

    “..and how i wish Amazing were my first name. oh, the joy..” Amazing Seaman (not her real name)

  26. What’s the fun in people knowing who you are? That’s why none of us use our real names in the blog world. Oh, except for you. Scratch that.

  27. My pseudonymous (sp?) friend just posted under my pseudonym on my secret blog. Mine is the worst kept secret blog in the history of secret blogs.

    Loved this post–so funny! You can secretly post on my blog anytime.

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