The Dickstein Chronicles: In MemoriumNo, Dickstein isn't dead, at least not that I know of. I mean, not literally dead. He's dead to me and most other people he's fucked over in this life, but as far as I know, he is still breathing air and fucking fat chicks. His actual mother is dead and she factors into the story briefly, but I think that I have always known that my relationship with Dickstein would end badly—staying friends with him helped postpone the inevitable. I think there was a small part of me that thought if I was nice to him then I wouldn’t ever have to look over my shoulder. He’s the kind of asshole who has nothing to lose and I have a lot of things I don’t want to lose.
I know that Dickstein’s contributions were always good for a chuckle, a gasp and sometimes a little bit of shame mixed with fear. It’s really hard to find something redeeming about John Dickstein. In the years since I started publishing his letters, many of his friends have found me as a result of googling him. He doesn’t have a web site, a blog or any other creative outlet. He’s an agent of chaos. He snuck into a group I manage on Facebook and found a way to piss off dozens of people with just a few posts. I had to ban him for life and now I have to approve every new member personally. If he gets through again, he will get off one post and then be put down like a sick animal.
Most people have a hard time understanding how mental illness affects other people unless they have experienced it firsthand. I can’t say I’ve ever lived with Dickstein because while I may be stupid I am not crazy. I have been close to people who suffered from ailments from alcoholism to bi-polar disorder and I think most of the guys I’ve worked for have Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but who doesn’t, right? Stop staring at me. I don’t have that. I don’t.
I shouldn’t even write this because he’ll see it and think that I am either trading on his stories or that I need him for my zine. Neither is the case, the only reason I’m bothering to read his obituary here is because Dickstein has been a part of the zine for a little while and now we’re done and in case you were wondering what happened, here’s my side.
My friend Peter has a business as a computer guy, the kind of thing I used to do before I retired. He’s a great guy and he’s done very well for himself since starting from nothing. Dickstein posted a bunch of Yelp reviews on Peter’s page talking about really disgusting and graphic things that Peter did. He even threw in a few mentions of me. Yelp wouldn’t take them down. Peter decided to ignore them since the majority of his reviews were positive. I started my own small business in 2011 and Dickstein posted some shitty things on my Yelp page as well. I am not sure how he even found it but I have to assume that he’s cyberstalking me. He may even be a friend on FB by pretending he is someone that I actually know. I don’t care. When I went to create a Yelp account for myself to down vote his stupid comments, it said that I already had an account. I had never signed up for one so I had it reset the password. Turns out Dickstein had signed up as me to harass me and Peter. It was easy to immediately delete all of the negative comments that he had made and I forgot about it. Then he started posting really hateful, homophobic shit on my Yelp page and they wouldn’t take it down. That was annoying but I don’t think Yelp was responsible for all that much business anyway.
After a couple of these posts I decided to bring the fight to John by forwarding all of his negative shit to his mother. He had inadvertently sent me some emails from her address when he was staying with her and she was an old lady who would never change her e-mail address. She was so fucking annoyed with me she threatened to report me to the FBI and the police, which I immediately forwarded to every address I had for Dickstein. He wouldn’t take down the posts, his mom was no help to me and I didn’t think I had anything else to throw at him. How do you hurt a dude who has nothing?
I got in touch with another mutual friend who remained in Dickstein’s good graces (as of now). This person was able to facilitate an arms treaty. All of his posts came down and I stopped bothering Dickstein’s mother.
There was a girl that John always had a thing for, but she left him for a more successful version of him. This girl was the subject of the piece, “Our Love Was a Living Thing and I Killed It,” and the tl;dr of it is that he fell hard for a gorgeous woman, got her pregnant, she got an abortion and they fell apart. After the story was published, he had contacted her and she wanted to know if all the things that I said about him were true, because the man in the pages of the zine was not the man she knew. It reminded me of the creep who does Backroom Casting Couch, where he pays girls to pretend not to know they’re making a porn with him. I wonder what he tells girls when they ask what he does for a living. “Oh, I simulate rape, you’re in accounting, right?” In the videos he’s all kind and gentle but in his descriptions every girl is a whore or an idiot and he tricked them into sex on camera.
Anyway, this is what she wrote, you can judge for yourself, "I am reluctantly contacting you, seeking any insight you may have about [Dickstein]. I don't understand why I feel so connected to him. There is no way that I could ever be with him. I never thought about him before he contacted me out of the blue two years ago. I know I'll always love him and care about him. But I need to let go, finally, and come back fully into my life.
We've had very infrequent, simple online interactions. Once, we were about to meet for coffee. I sabotaged it, then wanted to still meet, but he never responded again. Then he mentioned at a later date that he was moving back up north. I asked him when, and he never responded. I don't know if I've done something?
I'm desperate to put this to rest once and for all. I know that the closure I seek comes from within, but I'd really like to know from you if, in your opinion, this was all just a game to him. I don't understand why he would want to hurt me. Or why he doesn't just tell me what his deal is. What is his diagnosis? Is this something he does with other exes for amusement? I realize how ridiculous this probably seems to you. The person he presents to the world does not reflect the person I knew. It is not who he is inside. But it is his path. Please don't tell him that I contacted you. I want to leave him alone, let him be free from me. I'm going to do my best to never contact him again. Again, any insight you have to help propel me into this final chapter would be greatly appreciated."
Then, just to demonstrate how nice I am, here’s my reply, "I am so sorry. I truly understand what you are talking about and I sometimes think he has always been in love with you and never got over you. He said as much in his letters to me. The nasty comment was not about you, it was about me. He tries as hard as he can to push everyone away. He never stays in the same town or at the same job for any length of time. He is rootless. You have a family and he has nothing. He is also a bit of a sociopath. Sometimes he would tell me how he was using girls that he met online for sex or drugs or both. My wife has asked me many times to stop talking to him. He is like a broken record with me, all he talks about is a girl named Lee that I think he also wanted but never got. I wish I had an answer for you. I think he feels the things he says but I think he is also absolutely incapable of honesty, sincerity or true intimacy. He is running away from his feelings. I am sure you will get hurt more if you chase him. I honestly can say that I have no idea what you see in him just on a human level. I think maybe you're both sometimes wishing the other person was a solution instead of a problem. From what little I know about you, I would say you are too good for anyone in this scenario but Dickstein is just not worth it. He doesn't want to be well. He thinks rehab is a joke. He can't relate to people. He's a little nutty and scary sometimes. Let me know how it turns out. Despite everything in our past I still do not wish him ill while at the same time being relieved that I don't have to deal with him anymore. So, in sum, he never said anything bad about you at all, he just said you need to focus on your family, very matter-of-factly. I am sorry for your pain."
She unfriended me and told me that she couldn’t be in touch with me. Her husband had discovered something he found troubling and she was compelled to end all contact. She asked me over and over never to mention her again and I won’t but she was a really sweet person and I liked being her friend but she must’ve been afflicted with the crazy because she was unable to get over a guy who was like vermin. Just a vile, selfish and cruel person who fucked over and disappointed everyone in his life. He’s going to end up dead in the gutter and no one will be able to identify him and no one will mourn him. I am not saying that the point of life is to make sure people mourn your loss, but Jesus fucking Christ, do something with your fucking life.
I was a little surprised when I got a friend request from her again a few months later. All the time I had spoken to her, she had seemed to be a happy stay-at-home mom with three kids. I accepted her friend request and saw that she had gotten divorced. I had to think that either John made her question whether she wanted to be married or that her husband had found out about her talking to him and split. It may be unrelated to Dickstein entirely but he leaves a trail of destruction in his wake.
In 2014 I got some emails from a friend of John’s who was trying to find him to let him know that his mother had died. I gave the guy all the addresses that I had for him but refused to get involved. I know Dickstein would’ve used it as an excuse to start talking to me and I am not interested. Not even a little. He still signs me up for mailing lists or posts ads as me but at this point I think the smartest thing to do is just ignore him and he’ll get bored.
I got a bunch of letters from jail—it’s one of the hazards/perks of doing a zine. People in jail are like people stuck in the past, they can’t fly, they don’t know from smartphones and they communicate with pen and ink. It’s almost quaint that part of the punishment is not just mental or physical, but also they displace you in time. There was one guy who I thought I could turn into a new columnist. Dickstein had done a few brief stints in lock up but i don’t think he’s ever been in a really hardcore prison. Maybe county for a few days but probably not “pound-me-in-the-ass” prison.
I wouldn’t know how to get in touch with him and I wouldn’t waste my time. I moved web hosts so all the various e-mails I used to use no longer work and that's fine with me.