When I first moved to New York, I didn't have an apartment
lined up so I ended up sleeping on a mattress on the
floor in my friend T.'s dorm at Columbia University
while he finished up his degree. The residence hall
was a number of small, two-person apartments, about
ten to a floor. Across the building lived two girls
that T. knew - M. and R. And next door to them lived
Jake Dobkin, a name that may be vaguely familiar to
long-time Short and Happy readers. This is his story.
moved out after three months to my own place about
twenty blocks down, but I stopped by and visited all
the time - the security guards knew me by name. A
few months before they all graduated, what we now
all refer to as the "Jake Dobkin Incident" occurred.
Jake didn't really enter their lives until they were
all just about out of there, but when he did, he did
with a bang. The first contact came when some fellow
anthropology students were discussing a profiling
project in Park Slope. Jake leaned out of his apartment,
said "Hey man, Park Slope is keeping it real, yo!"
and went back inside.
was one of those hilarious high/low culture whores,
affecting a tough-as-nails "gangsta" persona while
really being very deep and sensitive and listening
to Morrissey, etc. R. once accepted an invitation
into his dormhole and reported back that the decor
was mostly mirrored walls and photographs of Jake's
modestly sized boner. His greatest achievement was
a student art show in the laundry room. I went for
the free snacks but didn't stay for the art. His graffiti
name was "Jugz," which I thought was pretty unintentionally
hilarious and I was brielfy enamored of the idea of
naming myself "Swankk" or "Blakk Inchez" and "tagging"
all over the inside of public washrooms or something.
He was one of those upper-middle-class kids who so
assiduously tries to blue their collars down. Most
of his "artwork" was spray-painting stencils of his
face all over Upper Manhattan. Real daring stuff -
I think he got stickers printed up, too. The website
of his graffiti crew was a goofball approximation
of street legit, full of tough talk about all the
bomb-ass tags or whatever, accompanied by cornball
philosophy and puddle-shallow writing.
M. and R. got so tired of living next to the black
hole of suck that was Jugz that they started striking
back, tearing down the sheets of Allen Ginsberg poetry
he had taped up all over the hallways. He was generally
menacing towards them, feeling like a tough guy because
he thought he could intimidate two Jewish girls. It's
at about this point that T. and I got involved. I
can't resist needling overinflated egos - I've probably
burned most of my bridges in the comics business by
now - I'm pretty sure that my Neil Gaiman comments
at the panel discussion I spoke on have pretty much
nixed any chances I ever had of working for DC, for
one. And so when presented with a target as appealing
as Jake Dobkin, I couldn't resist.
T. made a fake, official-looking notice from the housing
board informing him that pretentious material was
not allowed in public hallways. This was after M.
and R. had already moved his reams of taped-up Borges
printouts from the walls to the ceiling, so we felt
that escalating action was more than justified. The
next day, I hung a toilet brush that I'd found in
the street on his doorknob with a little note saying
"You might want to learn how to use this."
I also sent the MC
2 Hype Honky Cripple email at around that time.
next day, we continued the brave campaign. I posted
a sign on his door saying that he should start keeping
a diary, so after he died people would read it and
realize how smart and cool he was and then think "Gosh,
we really should have treated him nicer!" and
best of all we wouldn't have to read it at all. Meanwhile,
T. was signing his email up for a couple hundred gay
porn lists. As I was leaving the building, I saw Jugz
walking by with a few of his friends. In a loud stage
whisper, I called out "As ye sow, so shall ye
on the simple thrill of mockery, I decided to nail
the coffin a little more with a prank phone call.
I got his number from the Columbia directory and left
the same message on his machine - "As ye sow,
so shall ye reap." Then I took a shower and went
I didn't know is that all Columbia University phones
have caller ID on them. That's how Jugz got my phone
number. About an hour after I left the message, my
phone rang. It was Jake. The first call started out
JD: "This is Jake!"
KTJ: "Jake who?"
JD: "Jake Dobkin!"
KTJ: "Oh, Jugz! Hi!"
blustered away about how tough he was for about twenty
minutes, and about he and all of his tough-ass graffiti
posse was going to kick my ass, about how he was going
to look my address up in the "reverse directory"
and wait for me outside my building, et cetera. Eventually
he got tired and hung up.
about an hour later, he called back, roaring mad.
I wish I'd recorded the call, but there's a few crystal
shining moments that I still remember really vividly.
"You're going to feel my raff!"
KTJ: "Your what?"
JD: "You're going to feel my raff!"
KTJ: "I'm sorry, I don't know what you're saying.
JD: "MY RAFF!"
KTJ: "Oh, your WRATH. I thought you were talking
about Raffi, that children's singer. I'm not feeling
"Come on down here - I've got twenty guys in
my dorm who want to kick your ass. I own this building.
Everybody here knows who I am and they want to kick
KTJ: "You've got twenty guys in your dorm? Are
you having some kind of gay blowjob party?"
JD: "Come on! We want to kick your ass!"
KTJ: "I just took a shower - I don't want to
get all sweaty."
was actually pretty fun for a while - there's a certain
giddy adrenaline rush you get from being challenged
to a fight, and my mind rushed crazily through the
preparations I would have to make to fight twenty
guys. Wrap my knees and elbows for better striking
- wear a few layers of shirts - maybe gloves? I was
making a little checklist for getting my ass kicked.
After about forty-five minutes of this, though, I
started to get a little bored and a little paranoid.
If this jackass had the lungpower to rant at a complete
stranger for nearly an hour, who knows what the hell
he might do. I wished I had had the presence of mind
to hook up the tape recorder, and my ear was starting
to get all red and sweaty. I couldn't put him on speakerphone
because I didn't want to wake up my roommate. So I
started to concede a bit - let him think that he'd
"won" so I could maybe get some sleep tonight.
T. was having it fairly rough back at the dorms -
the skanky girls referenced in the MC 2 Hype Honky
Cripple email had sent their football team boyfriends
to beat his door down. He called me, his voiced hushed
as their lunkhead fists beat innefectively against
his door. I offered to come down and let them punch
me a few times if it would make them feel better,
but they eventually went away.
threat that he'd know if I ever came back to the building
wasn't followed up on, of course - I went back the
next day. A few weeks later, Jake caught T. in the
lobby of the building and grabbed him in a big hug,
pinning his arms to his sides while whispering in
his ear "I'm gonna kill you, you know that?"
as the security guards watched bemusedly.
T. graduated with Phi Beta Kappa honors, so did Jake,
and I made kissy-faces at him throughout the whole
ceremony. And that was that - everybody moved on.
six months ago, I got an email from Jake Dobkin saying
"You better watch out, I'm still looking for you!"
I forwarded it to T. and we had an unsettling laugh
about it. I wrote back "You better look hard - I am
very small," and that was the last of that.
It felt a little weird knowing that somewhere out
there, I had an enemy, but not all that weird. And
that was the end of the Jake Dobkin story.
yesterday, that is, when Chet, my business partner
over at Portal of Evil and the kind donator of the
bandwidth to host this site, forwarded me an email
from the very same Jake Dobkin, written in the quasi-legal
jargon that most Internet retards use when they're
really serious about something. I wondered what he'd
been up to, so I took the opportunity to plug his
name into Google. The first thing that came up was
this. Now this
was interesting. Apparently Jake's new bag is taking
credit for other people's Web design projects. You
should really read that link, it's pretty fascinating.
some excerpts from his first letter to Chet:
"I was informed by our counsel that there is some
vaguely threatening and potentially libelous writing
about me on your site. I'm sure that this stuff is
long outdated and in error, and I assured them that
I could clear it up with a simple e-mail to the site
host. Please remove the following pages from your
site, or edit them to remove my name: http://www.oldmanmurray.com/kthor/100599.htm
Feel free to read those - they open in a new window.
I like the "Long outdated and in error" part a lot
- also the implication that my 55-second four-track
experiment is "vaguely threatening." Chet, of course,
wrote back just to make fun of him, but Jake soldiered
- I don't like people talking vague smack about me.
If I noticed it myself, I would have taken care of
it - unfortunately, someone else found it and is now
giving me a hard time. It's indexed or something,
and they think it might be harmful to this thing they
are doing. Just tell me who 'kthor' is, or how to
contact him. "
made me laugh even harder - how were people using
this to "give him a hard time?" Were they humming
the song when he walked by? Because I don't think
I need to tell you exactly how happy that would make
me - it would be like being the kid who made up "Fatty
Boombalatty." Chet made fun of him again for not being
able to find the enormous "Mail" button on my site,
as well as his complete inability to come up with
anything better than "it might be harmful to this
thing they are doing." Despite the fact that Chet
had been CCing his replies to my email as well, but
he apparently couldn't figure out that the name "kthor"
and the email address "email@example.com" went
together, and it was pretty entertaining watching
Chet bait him while he tried to figure out exactly
how to send me email. Eventually he did.
letters carried a ridiculous conglomeration of wounded
puppy and bad-ass Internet high-roller - apparently
he was catching a whole lot of flack about a one-minute
song, a mocking email, and the fact that I called
him a pussy. One would think that his current employers
would be a little more concerned about the page that
paints him as a ranting, unreliable maniac who takes
credit for work he didn't do and harasses his prospective
business partners, but who knows? One of his emails
contained the phrase "I guess that might have been
during the so called "crazy period"." Uh-huh. Then
he tried to get me to remove the pages by offering
to "send some e-consulting work my way." First, I'm
not even sure what e-consulting is, and second, is
that a bribe? First he was pretending to be a lawyer
and now he's trying to be my boss? I am so confused.
I think I liked it better when he was threatening
to punch me in the face.
the pages aren't going to change - if you don't like
being portrayed as an asshole, Jugz, don't be one.
Sorry, Charlie, but when people threaten to beat me
up, my sympathy for them goes straight out the window.
I'm curious exactly what the big deal is about this
- have his new bosses not found out that he's a lunatic
whigger yet? One would think that the big pants and
the "Yo, G" talk would have tipped them off, but maybe
he dropped all that when he got into the high-powered
world of the Internet. I know that after I got my
own website the number of people I threatened to beat
up went way down.