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August 13, 2007

Has ConYank Found Yet Another Case Of Made-Up Crap In Beauchamp's Reports?
A: No, It's Probably A Joke, But It Does Indicate... Something

Here's Confederate Yankee on an earlier Beauchamp piece.

This is the bit he questions:

As we slowly started moving back toward the Humvee, we could hear the dogs filling in the space behind us. I turned around and saw their green eyes flashing in the deep shadow where we'd left the body. Part of me thought we should have shot the dogs or done something to keep them from eating the body, but what good would it have done? We only would have been exposing ourselves to danger longer than we needed to.

Back in the Humvee, Hernandez started talking to me without looking in my direction. "Man, I've never seen anything like that before," he said.

"What? A guy killed by a cop?" I asked.

"No, man, zombie dogs. That shit was wild," he said, laughing.

Something inside of me fought for expression and then died. He was right. What else was there to do now but laugh?

"I took his driver's license," I said.

"You did?" questioned Hernandez.

"Yeah. It said he was an organ donor."

We chuckled in the dark for a moment, and then looked out the window into the night. We didn't talk again until we were back at our base.

Confederate Yankee establishes that 1) Iraqi drivers licenses are written in Arabic (of course) and thus Beauchamp could not have read it unless he's even more the Renaissance Man of War than he's previously allowed and 2) organ donation is not a big thing in Iraq, and his source does not believe such a designation is ever listed on a drivers license there.

The trouble is that Beauchamp does not state expressly that his statement about the guy being an "organ donor" is an actual fact. It's just as likely -- more likely, indeed, as Owens' update suggests -- this is in fact just another one of Beauchamp's "jokes." One of his "jokes" that he's convinced is side-splittingly hilarious (stop me if you've heard the one about the woman with half of her fucking face blown off by an IED) but is in fact not funny at all.

As I wrote to CJ when he tipped me:

I think the angle here is not that he was outright fabricating, so much as he was employing literary devices in his stories-- playing a role in order to establish himself as a literary character for his coming novel, a hardass, seen-it-all veteran dripping with BAMFism (Bad Ass Motherfuckerism).

Despite the fact that, you know, while his service in Iraq is no doubt dangerous, he's hardly seen much in the way of combat or actual danger. He's seen the possibility of danger, but, alas for his book proposal, not so much the real sort. And yet, despite the relative peacefulness of his posting, he's still got that cynical BAMFtastic thousand-yard-stare thing going, doesn't he?

At least in his accounts he does.

And so rather mundane incidents like this have to be milked to the limit for BAMFist import.

His "joke," as usual, makes no sense. Why is it funny that a dead guy might be an organ donor? When we talk about organ donors, 95% of the time we're talking about the dead. How on earth is this ironic or funny or poignant or even interesting enough to bother commenting on?

It's like "joking" that a dead man has no pulse. Well, ye-ah. That's sort of what makes him dead, right?

This is just another example of a pedestrian, lame anecdote being juiced as much as the law will allow to establish the BAMFism of the central character in Scott Beauchamp's coming novel.

And, as we can expect from him, it's a friggin' lame anecdote. You know what I find most unbelievable in this story? That his buddy "chuckled" over the "joke" that a dead man might be an organ donor.

Sergeant LeClairc was left with his mindthoughts as the satellitemoon fell beneath the far-off snow-covered peaks of Fallujah.

He regarded the corpse beside him.

As he lighted a cigarette he permitted himself a dark humorjoke. The poor-son-of-a-bitch probably has a rapidly declining basal temperature, he thought to himself, most likely due to the cessation of metabolic functions and the radiation of internal heat to the atmosphere.

He chuckled ruefully at his jestwit.

I have a feeling Beauchamp didn't lie about this, though it's untrue. Scott Beauchamp, the greatest emergent poet in the world, remember, seems to have a good-faith but completely erroneous belief regarding the extent of his literary, poetical, and comedic skills.

I also find his claim that his buddy was "doubled-over" with chucklelaughs over his mocking of the IED victim rather implausible as well. Not even because his jokes were callous, sick, cruel, and evil. But because they also simply were not funny. Though Beauchamp, it seems, was quite convinced they were a hoot 'n a half.

An early warning flag for TNR, that they of course completely missed. A signal -- not a conclusive one; not a dispositive one; but a suggestive one nevertheless -- that Scott Beauchamp's accounts were more in the tradition of hack-crap hardass action fiction (comic books for adult men, in other words) than actual journalism.

And, for that reason, perhaps his more luridly implausible tales ought to be given more scrutiny than the old "smell test."


Ed... says the humorjoke was about the dogs feeding on the corpse, and hence his becoming an "organ donor" through non-medical circumstances.

Okay, that seems likely, and it is a slightly better chucklelaugh than I thought.

Still, it's not much of a joke -- even if I concede this one at least makes sense -- and it still is indicative of Beauchamp's determination to role-play the Tom Berenger character in Platoon.

The guy obviously has very little to actually report. And, as the song says, "When you've got nothin', you've got nothin' left to lose." Might as well grab for the not-so-brass ring.


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posted by Ace at 05:28 PM

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