2 Everything 2 Hoax
LA auctioneer Michael Barzman “admitted to helping create between 20 and 30 fake artworks and then marketing them for sale as if they were authentic Basquiats,” including one made on a cardboard box with his own name and address stuck to the back, report Matt Stevens and Brett Sokol.
Prosecutors said Mr. Barzman had worked closely with another man, identified only by the initials, J.F., who took the lead in creating the works. The associate spent as little as five minutes and no more than 30 minutes in creating each piece, according to the plea agreement…
They eventually ended up on view at the Orlando museum where, prosecutors wrote in court papers, in an exhibit purported to feature 25 paintings by Basquiat, “most of the featured works had, in fact, been created by defendant and J.F.”
We may be years past the golden age of hoaxes but grifts, fraud, exaggeration and misrepresentation still abound. In fact just today they came up to me… “sir,” they said, tears in their eyes, “sir, please”—big strong men crying right in front of me!—begging me to tell you that Donald Trump was absolutely lying about what happened at his arraignment. “The only hiccup came when his fingers were too dry for his fingerprinting, at which point district attorney employees provided lotion for his fingers…” Extremely dry hands. Probably some of the driest we’ve ever seen, in terms of hands.
AI isn’t so much a hoax as a concerted effort to undercut the whole concept of “real,” but inspired by the Balenciaga Harry Potter, Rebecca Jennings tried to create Wes Anderson’s “Lord of the Rings.” It’s very bad. I attempted to make ChatGPT write a new theme song for Gilligan’s Island in the style of T.S. Eliot and then Samuel Taylor Coleridge, but they were both even worse. I asked it for the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in the style of William Butler Yeats and it produced:
In the western land of Philadelphia,
In the youthful days of yore,
A young prince was born and raised,
On the playground was where he spent most of his days.
Chillin' out, maxin', relaxin' all cool…
Followed by literally just the rest of the original Fresh Prince theme song. Issuing correction on a previous post of mine, regarding AI: it is in fact a hoax.
NPR quit Twitter, tired of its posts being labeled “state-affiliated media” (entirely false) and then “government-funded media,” (>99% false). The Kansas City Regional Fusion Center, an organization that writes terrorism fanfic for cops, issued a warning about “Security Threats to Pipeline Infrastructure”—specifically the release of the movie “How to Blow Up a Pipeline.” KCRFC was previously in the news in 2021 warning first responders of developing chronological threats at the beach. And hoax NY Mayor Eric Adams spent $750,000 on two useless robot cop dogs.
In other news… hang on. What is that? A light just started blinking in the window across the street. And it’s blue? I need to go check this out. While I do that, here’s Today in Tabs’ Senior ARG(GGHH!) Correspondent Allegra Rosenberg with:
Lo-fi Girl has lore now. Our favorite provider of chill tunes to study/relax to since 2017 has launched a new synthwave stream, featuring bisexual lighting and a mechanical keyboard enthusiast boy character with a dog. The channel ramped up to this launch by altering the familiar frame of Lo-fi Girl’s stream: first she turned to look at a mysterious blue window across the street, and then disappeared completely.
“[______] has lore now?” is a common exclamation as brands have clued into the power of even the smallest crumbs of engaging narrative to add dimension to a previously storyless ‘verse, especially when it seems to come out of nowhere. The age of the grand old ARG is long past—in the early 2000s, games like The Beast or The Lost Experience stretched on for months, curling long tendrils of story around real-world events, items, and locations. With the notable exception of the malicious interactive lore of Qanon, today’s alternate realities are generally confined to the same place as most of actual reality: the internet.
YouTuber Night Mind’s dulcet tones will walk you calmly through the hidden terrors of a new generation of non-commercial ARG-likes such as the absolutely brilliant new puppet ARG Welcome Home or the (soon-to-be-an-A24-blockbuster) Backrooms. The Lo-Fi Girl stunt borrowed some tactics from this “analog horror” genre but put a wholesome twist on it, which seemed to work pretty well. But what if her cute new synthwave bf is secretly a creepy slenderman? Or slender… boy?
—Allegra Rosenberg is not entirely what she seems.
I’ve been listening to the synthwave stream all day and it doesn’t not slap.
The Final Hoax: David Gauvey Herbert has a NYMag #longread about “real-life Sherlock Holmes” Richard Walter, supposedly “one of America’s preeminent criminal profilers, an investigative wizard who could examine a few clues and conjure a portrait of a murderer” but actually a complete fraud.
The Richard Walter story is not the case of an impostor who goes undetected, one misstep away from being discovered and exposed. Lots of people saw signs; few had incentive to do anything about it. Throughout the 1990s, he continued to work in the Michigan correction system as a psychologist, and word eventually got around about his profiling sideline. Some found the arrangement comical. “If he’s got an international reputation, why is he working in a prison for $10,000 a year?” Hand, his contemporary, says with a laugh.
Today’s Song: Bully, “Lose You” (feat. Soccer Mommy)
~ now I’m falling asleep and she’s reading a tab ~
I wrote a Tabs yesterday that I thought would be pretty widely shared and it was, so of course with my incredible business acumen I didn’t ask anyone to subscribe in it. Belatedly: if you enjoyed yesterday’s Tabs (or today’s, or tomorrow's) please subscribe. It’s just $35 for the first year, which I’m told is “way too little” and “practically nothing considering the sheer quality of my work.”
Thanks to SotD Intern Sam Gavin and Senior Correspondent Allegra, who are both genuine Basquiats.
“I mean your work,” continued the different person (not me) who said this.