Friday, September 3, 2010

I Pose (Clothed) for Annie Leibovitz

Many, many, many years ago, Rolling Stone dispatching Annie Leibovitz, now one of the world’s most famous portrait photographers, to take the photos that would accompany my article about how much I wanted — needed! — to be a rock star. In the course of doing so, she urged me implacably to pose naked, but I demurred because I was afraid I might be seen as insufficiently endowed. She apparently tried to get all the male stars she shot to pose naked, and eventually succeeded 13 months later with, of all people, David Cassidy, whose career went into free fall the moment RS published her photos of him.

Many years hence, I was reminded of my earlier uncertainty when I became accustomed to finding my emailbox stuffed with messages about how I might make myself…larger. I had been assured in the interim that I am immense, but nonetheless got paranoid again — at least until I learned that everyone, women included, were getting these messages. After that, I started getting lots of advertisements for discounted Viagra and Cialis.

Now, though, the various marketers of virility seem to have given up on me — either that or Googlemail’s spam filters are a lot more efficient than Yahoo’s and (Apple’s) Mail’s used to be. The only spam I get nowadays has to do with the fact that I could, if I chose to, make fantastic amounts of money every day just sitting at my computer. Only this morning, I learned that Phil, apparently a person much like myself, made $1681 last week without leaving his study — except, I imagine, to make himself an occasional snack or use the restroom.

Times have been tough since Dada Entertainment gave me the old heave-ho a few days before St. Patrick’s Day, 2009, so I thought what the hell, and decided to give it a try, my natural skepticism notwithstanding.

It turned out not to be a scam at all. Within 20 minutes of hitting SUBMIT, I’d been emailed a sort of kit explaining very clearly just what I had to do, and containing several million email addresses to which I could write at my own pace. The idea was that I would contact as many or as few people on the email list as I wanted each night, identifying myself as the newly deposed minister of finance of a small African country whose exact identity I was not at liberty to reveal, and asserting that I had urgently to find someone to whom to wire $200 million in profits from the desperate pre-overthrow sale of a precious commodity I was not at liberty to disclose. In exchange for agreeing to receive the funds into his or her legitimate onshore account, the addressee would get to keep $180 million. To start the ball rolling, he or she needed only authorize a charge of $29.95 for verification of their good credit.

Damned if it didn’t work exactly as advertised! My first day on the job, I sent out something in the neighborhood of 178,000 emails, and no fewer than 96 people recognized the offer as one that no sane person could pass up. I got to keep half the take, which meant that my earnings for my first day on the job were $1440. By the end of my first week, I’d earned enough to hire a pair of secretaries to do the actual work, and an elegant office overlooking the Hudson!

I’m not so foolish as to imagine that this can go on indefinitely. There are tens of thousands of us now sending out these emails, so it won’t be long before every American with an email address will have been approached by thousands of deposed ministers of finance. I’m assured, though, that when we stop sending out the current emails, we can start sending out advertisements for a link to a secret Website that reveals combinations of foods guaranteed to burn abdominal fat.

Recession? What recession?

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