Negative Capability

Putting Out Fire with Gasoline

Negative Capability

Putting Out Fire with Gasoline

The Dickstein Chronicles

If you read the first installment of the Dickstein Chronicles, then John Dickstein needs no introduction. If you are new to NegCap, let me give you a little background. When I was in college, I was friends with a group of guys from Brooklyn who had known each other since middle school. I am still friends with all of them, but Dickstein has been disowned by everyone else for his scary and dangerous behavior. For a while in the 90s, he was really convinced that he was the second coming of Jesus before he went really crazy and embarked on a cross-country journey of hitchhiking, drugs, shitty jobs and fat chicks. He e-mails me regularly, and I have always felt that he had some storytelling talent but was too fucked up to accomplish anything.

Instead of letting his insane, obnoxious, racist ramblings dissolve into the ether, I chronicle them in the pages of this zine. I have asked him many times to sit down and write something coherent, but that’s like asking a chicken to ride a unicycle: It’s just outside of his abilities.

Until very recently, I was still talking to John Dickstein and the issue is pretty simple. He is a crazy asshole with a metaphorical flamethrower, and I tolerated him as long as he pointed his weapon away from me. When he started pointing it at me, I decided that I had enough. He started posting to online message boards that I was the head of NAMBLA, when everyone knows that John Lewis Dickstein has always been the head of NAMBLA (enjoy googling that, pal). He also posted that I was a convicted criminal and that in college I had once slept with a girl who was a little less than attractive. He didn’t tell me about these postings; they started coming up regularly when I was googling myself in the shower. I don’t mind if he wants to play games like that because I say worse shit about myself on my own site, but it would be pretty awful if a potential friend, client or movie date were to read these things about me, especially when they aren’t true. At the same time he disparages me and besmirches my reputation, John has spent the last twenty years fucking women with all manner of mental issues, from autism all the way up to full-on mental retardation. When you have no standards, it’s easy to find new sexual partners. I’ve been off the market since 1994, while John was spending many of his drunken nights playing piggly-wiggly with half-wits at a truck stop in Laramie, Wyoming.

He has given me written permission to print his letters and to edit them as I see fit. It’s not like his life story is going to stop a greasy spoon in Montana from hiring him as a line cook. John briefly had a cell phone that shoots crappy videos and he sent me a video every day for a few weeks, clogging up my inbox and generally irritating me because he usually shot in film-negative mode, so the colors were reversed and it was impossible to tell what was going on. I had just gotten a cell phone that could get e-mail, and there is nothing worse than paying by the byte to have your inbox clogged with bullshit. Believe me, if the content of the videos had been even halfway decent, I would’ve gladly posted them all to YouTube and then embedded them in this story, but as it worked out, everything he sent was just useless and annoying, not unlike the man himself.

Some of John’s old friends have found him through my web site and contacted me asking for his whereabouts. He briefly dated a girl that lives in Scotland and from what he said, it sounded like she actually cared about him. Of course, he fucked it all up like he always does. The upside is that he converted her into a fan of NegCap and I will take readers wherever I can find them. Whenever he would disappear for long periods of time, the Scottish Chick [hereafter referred to as SC] would contact me to ask if I had heard from him. She incorrectly assumed that I had any idea where John was. He just sent me e-mails from wherever he was, telling me what he was up to, and then would disappear again for months at a time. Eventually I told her that if she was hoping to have a long-term relationship with him that it was probably impossible. He had told me as much (as you’ll read) and she was grateful for my honesty.

My original request to John was for him to write about his experiences in love, since this was always intended to be my “nice” issue. We’ll have to see how well that bullshit construct holds up. Previous issues have usually been about 70 percent hate and anger, tempered by 30 percent sweetness and light. Hopefully that balance should be reversed this time. Here comes a good chunk of hate and anger, but it shouldn’t count against me because I didn’t write it. Before we get to John’s brief tale of love, I thought it would be nice to go back in time and revisit some of John’s older letters so my readers can see the devolution of John Lewis Dickstein. As always, I have corrected John’s horrible spelling and grammar as well as removing any material that might get either of us investigated by Homeland Security, but I am always very careful to maintain the internal consistency of what he is saying. In other words, I take his rambling bullshit and craft it into a coherent, linear narrative.

My wife and I moved from San Francisco to NY right after 9/11 and lived with my mom until we had saved up enough money to buy an apartment in Manhattan. I contacted John to see what he was up to, and the first e-mail is his reply. Also note that most of these e-mail addresses are dead, so don't bother trying to contact him.

Click here to read the story Our Love Was a Living Thing and I Killed It.

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