Pics or it didn’t happen?

Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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39 Responses

  1. greginak says:

    Yeah it doesn’t ring true that in a fancy theater showing some fancy artsy thingee there would be all that many people so purposefully rude.Report

    • dhex in reply to greginak says:

      the cell phone bit is absolutely believable, especially in that context. and smartphone ownership in nyc is often estimated above 80%, so even an older woman would not be out of place iphoning the hell out of google or whatever.

      whether this actually happened, i have no idea. theatre. theeeaaatuuurrrrr.Report

  2. NewDealer says:

    The blogosphere seems to be taking it as true.

    I know liberals who are in the side of Williamson. I will add the caveat that they are all theatre people and despise people who use cellphones during a performance.

    People really do lack cell phone manners. A few years ago something similar happened to me at the theatre. I was setting next to a guy who would not stop texting and e-mailing through out the performance. IIRC he was a young lawyer and possibly working for a big firm. If he felt compelled to be constantly attached to work, he should not have come to the theatre. The other option is that the constant texting and e-mailing makes him feel self-important. Who cares about other people trying to watch the show!Report

    • Will Truman in reply to NewDealer says:

      Yeah, I’ve been kind of impressed at a fair amount of the cross-partisanship here. There seems to be surprisingly little correlation on my Facebook feed (which is a scientific sample if there ever was one).Report

    • MikeSchilling in reply to NewDealer says:

      The blogosphere seems to be taking it as true.

      The blogosphere thinks that Obama personally wiretapped AP reporters’ cell phones.Report

  3. Burt Likko says:

    The veracity of a story is only one of many attributes which contributes to its quality.

    Williamson’s story has every other element you could have asked for in an urban legend, including that it purportedly occurred at a pricey off-Broadway dinner show ($175 per seat for a plate of borscht, and a drink, and the show) based on an excerpt of a Tolstoy novel as opposed to, say, a screening of the far more proletarian Iron Man 3. Note also that Williamson describes his antagonist as a woman “of a certain age,” which usually of a more… classic vintage as opposed to the youthful ladies who are stereotypically addicted to their cell phones.

    So even if it isn’t actually true, maybe it’ll get people to think about turning their goddamned cell phones off during times it’s blindingly inappropriate to have them on.

    And if it is true, how damn alpha-male is that? Doing something wildly socially inappropriate in order to promote social decorum? Against a narcissistic older woman, no less! Betta fish like me can only envy Williamson’s raw masculine authoritaii.Report

  4. Sam Wilkinson says:

    Somebody’s respect for private property is apparently very, very meager.Report

  5. Kevin Williamson says:

    Tod–assuming you have a telephone of your own, perhaps you should pick it up and call the theater to confirm the incident yourself?Report

    • That, Kevin, is an awesome idea. Thanks.Report

    • Shazbot5 in reply to Kevin Williamson says:


      One time This old lady and I got in to a dispute about how her hearing aid was making too much noise while I wanted to listen to Kenny G. And she pretended like she couldn’t here me when I told her to fix it, and then she lipped me off by rudely saying “Young man, just mind your business.”

      So punched this old lady right in the face. Her pearls came flying off and everything. And I said, “Sorry Grandma,

      BTW, on a serious note, if I saw you steal from a women and trash her phone, even if she had been minimally rude, I would beat you like a dog. If you were with us proletarian types, you would have seen this.Report

      • dhex in reply to Shazbot5 says:

        the league of ordinary gentlemen: where high art meets street justice!Report

      • Shazbot5 in reply to Shazbot5 says:

        Actually, he has that bald, Lex Luthor look going on. Could be a real tough guy.Report

        • Shazbot5 in reply to Shazbot5 says:

          Not to say that I am a tough guy. I have never had to fight in adulthood. But I’ve never witnessed a fully-grown man steal from a woman like that either.Report

          • dhex in reply to Shazbot5 says:

            i find the notion of hella expensive theatre goer-toers having it out over this sort of thing in improvised melees very amusing. cause then i’m thinking “who would win in a fight – the crusty staff of the new yorker or some of those park slope wankers (i repeat myself) from the believer?”

            followed by “and what happens if we give them swords?”

            while i’m personally mostly sorta ok with the “men should only fight men, even if everyone’s being a little bitchety bitch bitch bitch while grown people pretend to be doing stuff six feet away at $175 a pop because new york is totes crazotes” i’m a little surprised at some of our stalwarts here. one would think you guys would be a bit more, ahem, progressive in that matter. 🙂

            on the other hand, perhaps we should all be heartened that gallantry is not yet dead?Report

    • Sam Wilkinson in reply to Kevin Williamson says:

      Tod – this is a trap! As soon as you pick up the phone, Williamson will take it out of your hands and wing it across the room. Or, no, wait a minute, are you a bigger guy? Are you likely to fight back? Because somebody’s phone is getting broken goddammit, but if you’re a bigger guy, maybe not yours, but somebody else’s, definitely.Report

    • J@m3z Aitch in reply to Kevin Williamson says:

      “Why don’t you call the theater and verify that I really did pick a middle aged woman as my target instead of a younger guy. Because I totally did!”

      That’s alright. I don’t find it that hard to believe.Report

  6. Morat20 says:

    People are believing it’s true because he said it’s true. He said he did those things. Should we assume he’s a liar?

    It’s not like “I watched a guy do this” or “I’m pretending I was told this by people at Applebee’s which I’ve never been there, when this represents stuff other people told me” — it’s a guy saying “I DID THIS. ME!”

    Offhand, I don’t think you need to be liberal or conservative to think: (1) Cell phone manners are often lacking, but at least she was doing so silently which beats some of those darn kids at movies and (2) He was an a-hole.

    Who admits to committing assault, by the way, coupled with destruction of private property. All in the name of civility and good manners. And then goes on to brag about it.

    *eyeroll*. I don’t care how rude someone is being. Going online and bragging about how you totally shut that b-tch up by smacking her dang phone out of her hands? Makes you an a-hole.Report

  7. Jesse Ewiak says:

    Again, maybe I’m just oblivious or have extraordinarily good luck or people in Seattle are just a better class of human being, but out of literally, hundreds of times I’ve been to the theater in the past five or so years, I think I’ve had major problems with people using their cell phone loudly about three or four times. Yes, occasionally, cell phone rings because people forget, but I’ve never had the “bunch of teenagers all using their cell phones during the middle of a movie” experience that seemingly every other human being has.Report

  8. Pinky says:

    I have no reason to doubt the story. Some cell phone users are boorish – no shock there. There’s no age limit on cell phone ownership, or on boorishness. But Williamson acted improperly.Report

  9. Kazzy says:

    “So I’m like, “F U man, no one cares about your ish!”
    “You said that?!?!”
    “Well, no, but I thought it.”Report

  10. Patrick says:

    Speaking as someone from a family of Irish storytellers, I think Tod’s assumption is correct.

    Note: a lot of Irish storytellers tell the story as they actually *do* remember it. But as the story is occurring, the memories going into their head are the storyteller’s version.Report

  11. I bet he threw it Like A Boss.Report

  12. Art Deco says:

    I notice a lot of this in punditry, actually. The most famous example, of course, is David Brooks’s description of observing people at the Applebees salad bar – apparently not knowing when he wrote it that Applebees doesn’t have a salad bar. Several weeks ago I came across a blogger (a favorite of mine, actually) who was criticizing Brooks for the zillionth time about this very kind of hackery.

    A better example of this is Rod Dreher, who is forever receiving e-mails from ‘friends’ described as having expertise in a certain subject who confirm everything he has been saying about said subject for the last six months. Caveat lector.Report

  13. Art Deco says:

    What Williamson did is called ‘criminal mischief’ in the Penal Law of New York and a municipal court judge in NYC needs to hit him hard and high.Report

  14. Nob Akimoto says:

    This makes me think of the Star Trek: TNG episode, “A Matter of Perspective” where they hold a holodeck trial in a Rashomon ripoff err I mean “homage” story of creating scenes from testimony. Riker’s version of events had the wife of the murdered scientist coming onto him strongly while in the wife’s version, Riker was a creepy quasi-rapist. Riker goes to Troi and incredulously says she can’t possibly believe her, right? And Troi goes: “She believes that’s what happened.”Report

    • Shazbot4 in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

      Whenever I have seen that episode, I like to think that the truth is somewhere between her way of seeing things and Riker’s, meaning that he was kind of creepy just not as creepy as she thought. I think you’re supposed to see his version as nearly unvarnished, but it’s a much more dramatic episode if you don’t.Report

      • Nob Akimoto in reply to Shazbot4 says:

        The big huge enormous problem with the episode…

        Is that it shows you the unvarnished truth, at least “what really happened” on the station in the end, thus ruining the entire Rashomon premise.

        In fact, I kinda think TV writers should be forbidden from using that storytelling technique because they’re so bad at it.Report

    • MikeSchilling in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

      I’ve probably sen two X-files episodes in my life. In one of them there are dueling recollections of a local sheriff who was flirting with Scully. Scully remembers him as tall, well-built, and handsome, while Mulder recalls him as looking like Cletus from The Simpsons.Report

      • Zac in reply to MikeSchilling says:

        Quite possibly the best X-Files episode ever, IMO. You find out that apparently Mulder thinks Scully is a lazy whiner and Scully thinks Mulder is all the way out of his damn mind.Report