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the Goliard

May, 2003

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Identity Scandal Rocks Goliard!

Open Report to the Patrons and Shareholders 

First and most importantly, we'd like to thank you for your continued readership and support. It goes without saying that without your continued patronage and generous donations, we'd be exactly as well off as we currently are. For that we are eternally grateful and knowing that Goliard readers are out there and in such great numbers will be invaluable as we are persevering through the trying times and virtual housecleaning that lie ahead. 

Secondly, as any cuckold will tell you, it's never easy to admit you've been duped from within your own house, especially when the duping takes place in such a public forum as the Goliard. Over 200 readers a day visit the site and have come to trust it as a source of nonsense, garbage, vitriol, personal attack, dog pictures, bias, journaling, film reviews, original writing, nudity, pointless musings, culinary expertise, plagiarism, photojournalism, and millennial guidance. Given that, the following admissions are gut drenching and extremely painless to make. 

The following are the facts as we know them so far. The first hint of impropriety came when we received a call from the head of NASA who informed us that it had just recently come to their attention that a rocket scientist on their payroll was being misrepresented on the Goliard and that her picture was being depicted as the sketchy, scantily clad character known to readers as "the Bookwoman". (We realize that right here would be a good place to insert the pictures in question of the former Bookwoman but we can’t without fear of legal retribution. Provided instead, is a current shot of the scientist in question which shows her working at her real job and flashing all the skin that the real person is willing to reveal. The picture was taken by the same janitor that alerted the NASA authorities of the malfeasance going on as restitution to the Goliard when he realized the ramifications that his meddling were having.)

NASA, a government agency, which has seen it's own share of trying times in recent years, was concerned that, while public perception that their ranks were filled with bumbling, nerdy engineers, could use a makeover, casting the image of one of their rising scientific stars as a struggling topless dancer (no matter how literarily inclined she might be) was not the way to go about it. Despite the fact that the engineer in question evidently spends all her waking hours tucked in the bowels of a lab in Houston working with strains of extraterrestrial bacterium, (a fact that made it seem extremely unlikely that she would interact with anyone who might also be reading the Goliard), the governing powers of the space program issued a state of the company statement stating that "given that the young woman in question is a salaried employee of one of the largest space agencies in the world, we do not feel that the her likeness should be associated with a form of media such as the Goliard which clearly plumbs the depths of decency on a issue by issue basis." The agency went on to say that "if the Bookwoman does not cyberly disappear immediately, the space program's legal team will "engulf your little publication like the scalding fires of Io would an encroaching flock of grackles." Since the legal team at the Goliard consists of a person that has taken the LSAT, another who thought about it, a retired MP from Nam, and a beleaguered and overworked public defender currently on suspension for attempting to bolster one of his cases by exhuming part of a corpse without proper authority and who is contractually unable to provide legal advice to private citizens anyway, we thought it best to comply. Then we launched our own investigation. 

Confusion set in initially of course due to the fact that members of the Human Resources Department and management team could have sworn that they had attended parties where numerous staffers had not only claimed to have met the pictured Bookwoman, but bragged about having socialized with and even dated her. Stories of copy boys attending her shows and being asked backstage, junior editors drinking beer with her at roadhouses, the Movie Man giving her a gratuitous tennis lesson, and countless other tales of trysts had abounded at staff gatherings for years but all seemed to vaporize suddenly from the collective staff consciousness as if they had never been told in the first place. All interviewed denied ever seeing her in person or saying they’d seen her in person and under the harsh lights of the interrogation room it became quickly clear that as far as the support staff was concerned, she didn’t seem to exist at all. 

Didn't exist that is save in the mind of the person who introduced her to the publication in the first place. This same editor, we realized, had claimed to have interviewed her recently, and had always been in charge of posting her monthly diary. Once he was isolated from the others and after extensive questioning, which lasted through one brief, but very restful night, he finally broke down and admitted that the Bookwoman was nothing but a montage of his ex-girlfriends created into one Bookwoman using the trickery of Adobe Photoshop. (Not that it really matters but he went on to explain that the body parts broke down as follows: He used the feet of a ballet dancer he had once had a brief fling with, the torso of the love of his life who had broken his heart in high school, the neck of a cheerleader he had been photostalking during his college days, and the hair of one of his former babysitters.) Ironically what tripped him up was not the wrath of one of the women he had exploited but someone recognizing the one part of the Bookwoman that did not come from someone he knew - the Face. Onto all the other limbs and trunks, he transposed the face of the aforementioned young NASA scientist, which he had lifted out of one of their online recruiting brochures. He went to the NASA site, he confessed, because he wanted his dancer to “look smart.” Unfortunately for him, the composite ended up looking enough like the NASA scientist that the alert janitor and goliard reader noticed the similarity and brought it to management's attention. And then the jig was up. Bloody, broom pushing do gooder!

We thought we were done at that point and were trying to pack up our gear and head to the pool but it seemed that once the staffer was broken down, he wanted to keep squawking and couldn’t be stopped. Before we could get him to cram a sock in it, he had informed us that not only was the pictured Bookwoman not the person whom had been writing the diary, but the person that had been writing it was the person who's picture he had been using in recent issues as art for the Ella Caliente feature! What? Suddenly after waking up in the morning in a wonderful mood, we were staring down the double barrel of not one but two scandalous situations involving our publication.

Realizing that things were beginning to spin around and down like turds in a toilet bowl, we immediately decided that the girl formally known as Ella Caliente but who apparently was actually the Bookwoman, better be brought into the newsroom to explain herself and so that we might put a paw on her thereby confirming that she actually exists. We invited the disgraced staffer to produce her in the flesh or be permanently banned from all Goliard functions. He arranged to fly her in and we arranged for a translator to be present since we had been led to believe that she didn't speak much English. When she arrived however it became abundantly clear that she actually spoke no Spanish! This Ella Caliente, who was actually the Bookwoman, had not been careening and carousing around Southern Arizona and reporting her antics in Espanol in order to titillate our Spanish speaking readers but instead had been living in La Jolla, reading and reviewing books, and writing a screenplay in Inglais! A quick meeting was held where we contemplated giving the whole kit and kaboodle the full flush before any of our sponsors got wind of the stench and publicly humiliated us in some way but this gathering was cut short when it was pointed out that we didn't have any sponsors in the first place. We then decided to put on our rubber gloves and sink the plunger of investigation further into the whole mess.

What we've learned so far is that the deceitful editor, when we were first trying to get the whole Goliard thing off the ground, had been corresponding with this particular young lady by e-mail after meeting her in a literary chat room. In an attempt to move himself up in the ranks of our fledgling enterprise, he realized she was much more erudite and well read than he was and somehow talked her into submitting book reviews on a monthly basis. Sensing her reluctance to be seen in person and since it had been his experience that most people in chat rooms end up being heinously ugly when you actually coax them out into the light, he mistakenly assumed she was unattractive and decided that he’d have a better chance of achieving critical acclaim if he printed the Bookwoman’s words accompanied by another person's more attractive picture. He was striving to provide a character that would capture the eye's attention and then suck the reader in with learned journaling. A laudable goal and one that we do not fault him for. It was that thirst for plaudits however, that led to his misadventure in Photoshop.

Months later, well after the Bookwoman had an established following, he had flown out to meet the person, in person with which he had been exchanging e-mails for all this time. He then realized as soon as he laid eyes on her that she could have held her own as a stripping Bookwoman (which shouldn't have surprised him since that is, in fact, what she was). Instead of beating himself up over the blunder however like the rest of us might have, he figured that since it was too late to do anything about it, he might as well grab a shit shovel and dig himself in deeper. He then, together with the mischievous and meddling assistance that will be shortly explained, hatched the idea for Ella Caliente and began managing both columns under the noses of other staffers who had no reason to suspect any tomfoolery. At this point in the interview, we became suspicious and the brighter one of us leaned forward and asked the question that had come racing to the front of our collective minds - “Who then is speaking the Spanish?" There was an uncomfortable pause as we all looked at each other and reached the same conclusion simultaneously. Atwater! It had to be him. The frustrated Spanish scholar had wormed his way into the folds of the Goliard in yet another capacity and co-conspired to bring Ella Caliente to life. It was he who was behind the young chica's words. We dispatched a team to bring him in but he had not been located as of press time. Conveniently however, a book review with his fingerprints all over it was mailed that week to the newsroom.

And then things began to completely unravel. Suspicions and finger pointing began running rampant, especially when we went to check on the Aussie to see if he could shed any light on the matter and to make sure he really was a real Aussie at all. Sure enough, instead of the figure we had come to know as the Aussie, we found some odd looking little cop doll with a cockney accent in the old Aussie's place on the shelf. As the surrealness of the situation began seeping in, we were soon wondering if the Movie Man was a real person even though we had met and talked with him several times ourselves. Was anything as it seemed? Was the Movie Man and actual film critic or some montage of folks whose reviews were affixed to some disembodied head in a plot arranged by the same nefarious editor? How about Our Man in the Field? The Snapper? Who is what and why is where? What is going on? 

Whatever the case, it is clear that, as managing editors in the East Cost office, we needed to take a stand to restore the integrity before the whole enterprise was left in reputational shambles. As a starting point, we decided to embark on a thorough investigation to determine whether the Goliard actually has an East Coast office. Once that is satisfactorily concluded we intend to straighten some things out out West. You can take it from us that if we determine that we actually exist, we on the right coast will be keeping a more suspicious eye on what the left coast is up to. We will let you know in this space what we find out and will make public our full and complete report. We realize that we owe that much to you, the faithful readers and innocent victims in all this, and that it is of supreme importance to many of you that things are exactly as they seem at all times. When a picture appears as a character, next to a set of written observations no matter how nonsensical and ridiculous they might be, then Goddammit, we as the financial backers of this enterprise, should try to take the trouble to validate that the person being depicted actually exists and is doing the writing themselves. Or perhaps, at the very least, we should endeavor to make sure the picture is of a person somebody on the staff actually knows personally or once knew. At the absolute minimum you'd think we'd want you to be confident that what we are posting is the photo of a real person and not a cut and paste job with the face of a person working in blissful unawareness in some underground lab for an organization that could sue the collective drawers off the lot of us. If things cannot be counted on to be what they seem then by Gawd, we at least shouldn't have to worry about legal ramifications. We'll figure all this out one way or another. And when we do we'll tell you.