Johann Hari's alleged incest fiction competition results
Sometimes I think nobody's as interested in Johann Hari's alleged incest fiction as I am
At the end of the February 2nd edition of this newsletter, I set you an intriguing and tantalising challenge: analyse this little-brother incest erotica that some believe was written by disgraced journalist Johann Hari, then tell me which US state (or other US or non-US territory) you think it takes place in.
Congratulations to newsletter subscriber “AB” for winning!
The reason I set you this conundrum is that, although the pseudonymous author makes a valiant try at writing in the voice of a gay Black American pimp, certain details didn’t seem quite right to me. The narrator tells us:
I had been working for three bucks an hour in Tower Records.
which doesn’t seem like enough, although of course we have to consider that this story was posted in 2006. Would someone with the narrator’s background consider “a proper pimp's outfit” to be Armani? Why does the narrator decide to wait until his little brother’s sixteenth birthday before ‘breaking him in’? When age of consent laws vary so widely between US states, it seems a big coincidence that the narrator happens to pick the UK’s age of consent, and also seems to favour British English spelling:
"Oh yeah?" he said, moving now,
himself so he was kneeling in front of me, his big brown eyes looking up, his ass hanging in front of the TV, the towel now orphaned on the floor.
Unrelated side note: Johann Hari is British.
But perhaps I was being needlessly cynical - maybe a close reading of the story and a cross referencing of the US age of consent laws could identify a plausible location.
A major clue is furnished by this passage:
After four months I assumed my brother's proposal had just been another one of his crazy fads, like the time he became obsessed with the guitar for a few weeks, only to leave it festering in the attic today. But then
one weekend my mom went to stay with our aunt Rochelle in Pitsburgh
and the two of us were left alone in the house. I assumed he would bring his homies round for a long dope-smoking session, so I was surprised to get home at one am on Saturday night to find the house quiet.
I’ll hand you over to the competition winner’s perceptive analysis here:
If their mother went off for a short break to her own relative in Pittsburgh, it seems likely her teenage/early 20s boys are also in or near Pennsylvania. It’s hard to prove that there were Tower Records outlets in Pennsylvania, but there are hints that their were (www.organissimo.org/forum/index.php?/topic/84141-record-stores-in-philadelphia/ “ The historic record store shrines in Philly, 3rd Street Jazz, Tower Records on South Street, are long gone”)
A reference to one of the narrator’s customers also furnished a clue:
"How the fuck did you make so much money? There's so much money here... What did you do, win the lottery? Shit, I gotta tell mom about this," he said. "And what does this mean -- 2pm, Jason doing oral and ass,
Back to AB:
Rush Limbaugh is also potentially mentioned; while in 2006 it seems like he was living in Florida, he had close ties to Pennsylvania (https://triblive.com/local/rush-limbaugh-once-worked-in-pittsburgh-radio/) where, in an interesting twist, he was more well-known by an alias so could perhaps use his real name for bookings of a more sensitive nature.
I checked, and there is a lottery in Pennsylvania, though that could have been just a figure of speech.
Having said all that, I don’t think it’s Pennsylvania. I think it’s Ohio.
It sounds like it is set in a city, with bars and hotels and whatnot, so in my opinion it is set in Cleveland, Ohio (the nearest large city to Pittsburgh, just a couple of hours’ drive away). I can’t find a lot of evidence that there were Tower Records shops in Ohio, but there are a bunch of f.y.e. (https://www.yellowpages.com/cleveland-oh/tower-records) who did take them over. And I think Rush was probably careful enough to get his kicks a little further out of town than his old stomping grounds.
AB further notes that the age of consent in Ohio is 16, while in Pennsylvania, sexual contact between someone over the age of 18 and a 16-year-old would be illegal. We know that the narrator is probably over 18 since:
he’s going to graduate from college next year so he’s at least 19, probably 20, possibly 21 depending on whether his kindergarten was 4-turning-5 or 5-turning-6, and assuming he had no repeated grades or gap years.
My gig dates for the rest of February are unchanged and you can find them in this post. So let’s just do a few quick recommendations.
If you enjoyed the amazing investigative work carried out by AB above, then check out The Trojan Horse Affair podcast. Two journalists, an experienced American and a rookie British Muslim, set out to track the author of a dubious letter detailing an “Islamist plot”. Absolutely brilliant.
An article by Dorian Lynskey called Why comedians stopped being funny. Are comedians going to stop trying to be as funny as Louis CK and 2000s Sarah Silverman and end up as unfunny podcasters like Joe Rogan and 2020s Sarah Silverman?
Speaking of Louis CK, he is doing a tour of Europe (and Ukraine and Israel) but not a single UK date has been announced so far. Is it that they think Anglos are woker and therefore angrier about the dubcon dick showing habit he had 20 years ago? Or maybe it’s something to do with Brexit.
At this point you’ve either played Wordle or been baffled and annoyed by people posting their Wordle results for the day. Here is a nerdy video about how to use information theory to work out an optimal Wordle strategy: