07/03/2006: "Tucker Max—SMOKING GUN INVESTIGATION (Long Post)"
As readers of this blog will note, I don’t go out of my way to hammer other people, especially writers; writing is a tough enough gig without having to absorb criticism from some turd like me out in the blogosphere. I would like to think that my posts on the James Frey debacle weren’t overly harsh, and I gave Kaavya Viswanathan the benefit of the doubt when her plagiarism woes were going on.
My question is: Why hasn’t someone nominated me for the Nobel Peace Prize for these selfless good deeds? What’s Bono got that I don’t?
Okay, my only point was that I don’t make a habit of putting the boots to other writers. That is, until today.
Tucker Max. Maybe you’ve heard of the guy. He’s this hard-drinking, partying, womanizing, wisecracking, rapier-witted uber-fratboy (except he’s my age, which makes it a little sad).
He is also quite possibly the biggest bullshitter on the Internet. Honest to god, the guy makes James Frey look like Honest Abe.
His website is: www.tuckermax.com
I first heard of Tucker when I ran across Maddox’s truly hilarious site, The Best Page in the Universe ( www.maddox.xmission.com ) Tucker and Maddox and Robert Hamburger (author of Real Ultimate Power—The Official Ninja Book; also hilarious) and a few other guys have been grouped together as the premier practitioners of “Fratire”—fraternity satire—which revels in the sort of things fratboys dig: epic bowel movements, drunken vomiting, insulting PC squares, farting on friends while they’re slumbering, receiving oral gratification whilst taking a dump, “nailing hot chicks in the pooper,” etc.
Now before anyone get the impression I’m coming down on Fratire, let me disabuse you of that notion. I get a hearty laugh out of an epic bowel movement story, if it’s told with panache. Does that make me a bad person? Potentially, but a lot of things make me a bad person.
I am a supporter of Fratire. I am not a supporter of Tucker Max, because he is a liar.
Part of my anger stems from the fact that a few friends of mine, whose intelligence and senses of humor I respect, love this jackass. At one’s behest, I visited tuckermax.com and read “The Famous Sushi Pants Story.” I didn’t find the story particularly implausible—Tucker gets one of those personal Breathalyzer devices and sees how high he can blow one evening—but I didn’t find it particularly amusing, either, and so I wrote my buddy back that I wasn’t impressed with Mr. Max’s work. He wrote back that Tucker sure had lived a wacky life, hadn’t he, and it was a damn shame we didn’t have any crazy stories of our own to rival Tucker’s.
Now, after further reading, I can say with 100% surety that Tucker doesn’t have any crazy stories, except for the ones he’s concocted in his head. Any lunatic in any asylum has lead five times as wild a life as Tucker Max, if the only qualification is what they’ve made it all up and fobbed it off as genuine.
Following you will find my half-assed, SMOKING GUN-style investigation into Tucker Max’s rampant falsifications. I will be quoting from the stories themselves, which may be copyright infringement. If someone’s got a problem with it, write me and I’ll amend things.
Now, first off, what puts me in a position to comment upon Tucker’s fabrications? Well, as I said in my Frey post, I am a liar—and liars can smell their own. In fact, I am a very bad liar—actually, I am a pretty good liar; I use “bad” in the way that an alcoholic might label himself a bad drinker. I’ve told stories like Tucker’s, some embellished nearly to the degree he embellishes his own.
Now, admittedly, I did not read all the stories on his website, nor did I buy his book, I HOPE THEY SERVE BEER IN HELL (which made the NY Times bestseller list, which is about 10,000 times better than Rust and Bone did, so credit where credit is due to Mr. Max). I read 3 stories: the Sushi Pants story, as well as “Tucker Tries Buttsex; Hilarity Does Not Ensue” and “The Absinthe Donuts Story.”
Let’s start with “Tucker Tries Buttsex.”
If you’re interested, follow the link to Tucker’s site and read the story. Done? Okay.
So, people will find this story funny or not funny depending on their tastes. Personally, I was turned off by Tucker’s description of himself: this indulged bananahead who takes a young lady out to dinner, a $400 tab, in order to facilitate his attempt at bum-love. When you think about it, Tucker and James Frey led the same sort of life: rich, pampered, secretly displeased with their lives which caused them to concoct elaborate fratboy fantasies where they are tougher, smarter, wittier, and can drink or take more drugs than is humanly possible. There’s probably some deep sociological underpinning there, but since that’s not really my bailiwick I’ll simply call them a couple of over-privileged, lying tools.
For those who didn’t read the story, a capsule plot summation: Tucker takes a girl out to a fancy dinner, gets her drunk, and brings her back to his apartment to engage in a spirited bout of anal whoopee. Tucker has planted a buddy in his bedroom closet to tape the randy goings-on. After squirting half a tube of Astroglide up his date’s bottom, he does the deed. But his date’s colon spasms and she voids herself all over him, which makes him puke on her back, which causes her to puke, which causes the hidden cameraman to puke, etc.
It’s my feeling that this whole story, top to bottom, is a lie. Not a word of truth, apart from the fact that Tucker’s name probably is Tucker. To look at a few crucial points:
1. The Astroglide. In the story, Tucker empties half a 4 oz bottle of Atroglide liquid lubricant into his date’s bottom—he’s a rookie, you see, so what does he know? Well, I know from consulting the Astroglide website that they don’t sell 4 oz bottles, only 2.5 and 5 oz. Tucker writes, “I opened the cap, crammed the bottle top into her asshole, and squeezed.” Assuming he used the 5 oz bottle, he’d emptied 2.5 ounces of Astroglide into this poor girl’s bum.
And she does and says NOTHING. Not a peep out of her.
One thing you’re told in fiction writing workshops is to deeply imagine the scene you’re writing. Know everything about that scene, be able to see it from every character’s vantage, and that will lead to a believable piece of fiction. Tucker’s problem with his fiction-masquerading-as-fact is that he’s only capable of envisioning things from his own perspective. He can’t seem to imagine that, were he actually to jam a cold plastic bottle into a girl’s rectum and empty 2-odd ounces of gel lubricant into her, she might say something like, “What the fuck did you just do, you fucking twerp asshole?” or “I’m going to cut your twig dick off, you little bastard.” In Tucker’s story—in every story of his I read—people are basically set-dressing, like mannequins, to be manipulated and placed as he sees fit.
2. The dialogue is hilariously fabricated. Take this gem, after Tucker has vomited all over the girl’s back:
She turned her head, said, “Tucker, what are you doing?,” saw me vomiting on her, screamed “Oh my God!”
Who the hell turns and goes, “Tucker, what are you doing?” I’ve never had my back puked on, but I’m pretty sure if I did it would take my brain synapses about .003 of a second before I realized I’d been puked on. The needless expository dialogue just cracks me up. It’s like that scene in so many movies where a character is on the phone and says something rude or insulting and everyone in the audience knows the person on the other end has hung up but the character keeps going, “Hello? Hello?” into the phone. Who in real life sits there going, “Hello? Hello?” into the dead line? I’m sure someone would in Tucker Max’s stories:
She turned her head, said, “Tucker, what are you doing?,” saw me vomiting on her, screamed “Oh my God!” The phone line went dead. “Hello?” she said. “Hello? Hello?”
Then there’s this priceless bit, where the girl is puking and Tucker’s buddy has just stumbled out of the closet with the video tape recorder and the totally fictitious and made-up girl goes:
“OH MY GOD--BBBLLLLAAAAHHHH--YOU FILMED THIS, YOU ASSHOLE-- BBBLLLLAAAAHHHH-- HOW COULD YOU-- BBBLLLLAAAAHHHH--I THOUGHT YOU LOVED ME--BBBLLLLAAAAHHHH--OH MY GOD-- BBBLLLLAAAAHHHH--I LET YOU FUCK ME IN THE ASS--BBBLLLLAAAAHHHH.”
I thought you loved me? Who in god’s name would say this?
You filmed this, you asshole?
I let you fuck me in the ass?
As I said, everyone else in Tucker’s world are mannequins, which he moves about and has speak and act in ways that suit his fictions.
Of course, the alleged video tape of the incident has been broken, or so Tucker claims in a post-script. More crucially, what about the lawsuit? If I was caught secretly taping a girl while we engaged in coitus, I would fully expect to receive a lawsuit from that girl’s lawyer the following afternoon. Tucker, amazingly, avoids this. Perhaps we can believe that the girl was too embarrassed to press charges—or lucky for Tucker that make-believe girls can’t press real-life criminal charges.
Let’s go on to “The Absinthe Donuts Story.”
Quick plot synopsis: Tucker and his special-forces buddies sit around getting drunk, then they go to a nice restaurant and get kicked out, then go to McDonald’s and have pickle races on the windows (just like that scene in Billy Madison. Note to Tucker: if you’re gonna rip off comedy bits, avoid stealing from hit movies). They end up at a party that is miraculously—some might even say unbelievably—peopled by the most wide-ranging bunch of social stereotypes assembled under one roof. Tucker roundly insults them all, tries to seduce a married woman, then later runs his car through the plate glass window of a donut shop.
Again, I don’t think there is a whiff of truth to this story. Exposing every fallacy would take too long. Let’s focus on a few, shall we?
1. Start with this set piece, when a fat girl wanders into the kitchen where Tucker and his friends are hanging out:
We station ourselves in the kitchen. A fat girl walks in. It’s game time. "Well, say goodbye to all the leftovers."
Apparently, this fatty seems to think she can hang. The Medina Division made better tactical decisions:
Fatty: "What did you say?"
Tucker: "Can you not hear me? Are your ears fat too?"
Fatty [Look of astonishment, stares at my friends cracking up] "EXCUSE ME?"
Tucker: "I’m sorry. Really I am. [I open the fridge] Would you like cheesecake or chocolate cake? Probably both, I’m guessing."
Fatty: [Turns and leaves in utter astonishment]
Tucker: "Hey Sara Lee, I was only kidding! COME BACK HERE--MY FRIEND LIKES TO GO HOGGIN. MORE CUSHION FOR THE PUSHIN! IT’S LIKE RIDING A MOPED!!"
It’s the same as the Astroglide story. Tucker poses the woman, makes her say and do what he wants her to do to make him come off like a modern-day Oscar Wilde (although not really, as his barbs are pretty fucking lame. More cushion for the pushin’? Like riding a moped? Those might be considered witty if overheard on the playground).
I love the EXCUSE ME? and then how she just leaves the kitchen. I’ve been in my fair share of verbal warfare, and as everyone with a brain knows, it NEVER happens that way. The only time it happens like that is in the climactic scene of a movie, where the office bully or the blowhard cop gets his comeuppance:
HERO: Yeah, that’s right, you heard me—things are gonna change around here, starting today!
BLOWHARD: Why, you...h-h-how dare you...
HERO: You shut your gob! You’re through talking; it’s my turn to take charge, and I’m going to!
HERO: That’s right, and I love your wife and I’m gonna marry her! And I like your kids and they’re gonna be mine and there’s not a thing you can do about it!
So this is clearly what Tucker was thinking when he wrote his little scenes. Of course, the real world does not unfold like the movies. In real life, overweight women don’t allow themselves to be roundly insulted and then come off like a overwrought plantation belle, going, “Well, I NEVER!” before leaving the room. In real life the overweight girl kicks Tucker Max in his drunken idiotic nuts and drops the big elbow on his oversized melon-head.
That’s how it goes down in real life. But not in Tucker-land.
2. A small point regarding the spatial dimensions of the party house. Does anyone get a true sense of it’s physical dynamics? To me it’s Like some surrealist painting: Staircases going nowhere, people walking on ceilings, rooms jutting out into black space. It doesn’t seem like a house that could exist in real life.
3. Finally, Tucker elects to insult every guest at the party. Here are his insults:
[To the fat guy with greasy hair in the camo vest] "Look out everyone! It's the Pillsbury Commando! Hey Chunk, when was the last time you washed your hair? Does it give you more hit points to have that grease helmet? I hate to break the news, but +5 defense only counts in Dungeons and Dragons."
[To the ugly Asian girl] "Why you no rike me? You want me frip over? You no piss me off! ME FIND YOU IN POCKING ROT!! YOU NO TAKE MING ARIVE!!"
[To the small frail dork--I notice he has a lazy eye] "Dude--Look at me when I’m talking to you--BOTH EYES AT ONCE. Are you really this ugly or are you just playing? EVERYONE, BE CAREFUL, THIS GUY LURKS UNDER THE STAIRS AND TRIES TO LICK YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU PASS BY!"
[To the original fatty, pause for effect] "Why do you do this to yourself? WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO YOURSELF? Look, I’m gonna give you some advice-leave the party, take the geek squad with you, go to Denny’s, order about 10 Grand Slam Breakfasts, and eat your pain away. Won’t be the first time will it?"
Is it just me, or does it seem insupportable that these social types could all be gathered under the same roof? And it’s a classy party, apparently, so what’s a greasy D&D; dude in a camo vest doing there? I’ll tell you: so wacky Tucker can do his schtick.
I can’t see how I or anyone is supposed to empathize with him, either: these people he’s making fun of, nerds and dorks and little Asian gals and guys with lazy eyes—am I supposed to be in awe of him? Walk into a biker bar and talk shit, Tucker my man, and then maybe I’ll think you’ve got a passable set of stones. Otherwise you’re no more impressive than if you’d gone to the hospital lobotomy ward and insulted all the poor wrecks there.
Anyway, I’m done. I simply don’t possess the willing suspension of disbelief necessary to enjoy Tucker’s fictions. If he just admitted he made them all up, he’d be in the same boat as James Frey—people wouldn’t be as interested—but Tucker’s hampered even further by the fact he’s a shit writer (some would say the same of Frey, but I disagree strongly).
My apologies to all of Tucker’s fans. But tell me where I’m wrong.
All best, Craig.