`Editor's note: Last week, we published a letter from Gene Lessard, a self-described gay Republican who accused our Steve Schneider of attempting to "channel" former Orlando Weekly contributor Liz Langley. He also wondered if Schneider or his bullpen buddy Billy Manes had been responsible for "burning (Ms. Langley) in effigy" when she departed these pages years ago.
OW takes allegations of plagiarism and pyromania with the utmost seriousness — pinky swear! — so we immediately outfitted Schneider with an FBI-style wire that would allow us to monitor his every move. That's how we can publish this transcript of his recent visit to a spirit medium/hypnotist who lives and works at the Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp. "Channeling"? You don't know the half of it.`
MEDIUM: I'm going to put you into a trance-like state. Let your mind and spirit go utterly blank. Try to envision the soul of a gay Republican on New Year's Eve.
SUBJECT: It's dark. I'm cold and lonely. All about me is a boundless void.
M: Good, it's working. Is there another there who wishes to speak?
(The SUBJECT's face breaks into a wry grin. His voice takes on a feminine lilt.)
S: I don't ordinarily go around quoting Flower Drum Song, but sweet mother of Cartman, do I enjoy being a girl. I know some feminists would hang me from the Skycraft sign for saying that; our society conditions young women to believe that they have to choose between their pulchritude and their portfolios. Still, part of being a Carrie is knowing how flat-out ennobling it is to have a high-paying job and a hoo-hah. In fact, if I had to choose, I'd rather have girl parts than a DVD player. At least I know how to work my "input" tray. Not that there's that much difference between a fella's wee-wee and a Jim Varney disc anyway: You can pick up both of them at the mall, and it's cheaper when you take home more than one at a time. Hey, you know what else is funny? Burning me in effigy.
(The MEDIUM frantically scribbles this pithy commentary on a notepad, so she can hand the SUBJECT material for a future column when he comes to. Suddenly, there is a break in the psychic fabric. The SUBJECT's voice drops half an octave and his speaking accelerates as he commences gossiping.)
S: Has it really come to this? A couple of tipsy Rollins coeds are all that's keeping me aloft as I lurch through the House of Blues turnstile, about to jot down a bold new chapter in the bilious annals of whatever. My peroxided, pixyish head swimming with the promise of pretense (or just the pretense of promise), I settle in to witness an instant nonritual with the unsavory tag of "Symbolic Execution Night."
The idea here is clearly to take part in some kind of mass immolation situation. But I'm the wettest match in the book, having given up on rubbing two sticks together long before the Boy Scouts went butch. Instead of Woodsy Owl, I feel like a post-Arcadia Simon LeBon on my way to a 10-year re-Union with my own personal Snake.
"Which way to the burning?" I effigy.
(The MEDIUM is confused but manages to get it all down. Then the extrasensory focus shifts again, leaving the SUBJECT looking older yet somehow even less sane. Oh, and with longer bangs.)
S: There are many worthwhile household projects a man can get up to in his spare time, but burning his wife in effigy is not one of them. It takes time. It takes effort. And it takes a trip to Home Depot. For every husband who has risked the wrath of his beloved by dressing a mannequin in her wedding gown and flicking his Bic, there are two more who did so without putting down the proper tarp first. And that's when a guy can really find his chestnuts roasting on an open fire. To read more of my opinions on the topic of effigy, pick up my new book, Dave Barry Looks at Shit You've Thought to Yourself a Million Times But Never Got Paid for It.
(The MEDIUM dutifully records this monologue, omitting only the sales pitch. Then there is a crackling in the air and the SUBJECT goes into a sweating, desperate fury.)
S: Dammit, Hurley, you're going to let me at that supply closet or I'm not going to input one more number for your fat ass!
(The MEDIUM is astonished; somehow, the SUBJECT has skidded across the electromagnetic spectrum and begun channeling one of the Lost spinoff episodes that are transmitted directly to cell-phone users. Panicked by this detour into copyright-protected territory, she snaps her fingers loudly, pulling the SUBJECT out of his trance.)
M: Well, did we learn anything?
S: You bet! Journalistic identity theft just isn't worth it! Sure, combing through somebody else's first-person lifestyle memoir is an easy shortcut to take when you're responsible for producing a high-concept social-satire feature that's always written in an ironic third voice. I mean, the two formats are practically identical when you think about it. But if you're not careful, you could get hit with download charges! So from now on, I'm just going to write like myself and let the chips fall where they may. Oh, Auntie Em, there's no place like ME!
M: You still owe me for the fertility firstname.lastname@example.org