Flavin's Corner

King For A Day

     I was up in the "Down East" corner of Maine a week and a half ago.
Beautiful country, far less civilization than I'm accustomed to, and for reasons
of research, I'm already making plans to return soon.  On my way back from
"Down East" I decided to stop in Bangor and visit its most illustrious and
prolific resident, horror writer Stephen King.  Well, Steve wasn't home and for
a brief moment I considered letting myself in and trying on his socks, as putting
on celebrity's clothes seems to be in vogue now.  Yup, I was gonna be "King
for a day!"  Needless to add, it was only a thought and there's no way I'd ever
do such a thing.  However, most unfortunately, increasingly some take their
love, admiration, and respect to a criminal level.  It's creepy...

Somewhere in Bangor, ME 1-25-99.  Photo by RDF.

     As much as the murders of the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King,
Jr. were senseless tragedies, it wasn't until the 1980 slaying of John Lennon by
crazed fan, Mark David Chapman, that I began to understand how closely
'love' and 'hate' are related.  Yet despite what we know of Chapman's Hawaiian
wife (to approximate John's marriage to Yoko), a documented history of
whack behavior (quitting jobs, selling personal belongings, claiming he was the
"real John Lennon," and his interest in Catcher In The Rye), some believe
there's more to it.  Sometimes sadness is compounded by even more sadness.

     Sean Lennon (John and Yoko's son) is quoted as saying, "Anybody who
thinks that Mark Chapman was just some crazy guy who killed my dad for
personal interests is insane, I think, or very naive." [From E-OnLine, click here
for more.]  Poor Sean...  There is no "road-map" of human psychology
available for purchase, that I know of, and no illustrated instruction booklet
that we can consult when we encounter problems.  Some react to difficulty by
seeing conspiracies all around them.

     In either 1995 or 1996 I was shopping in Harvard Square when I happened
to see a parked van decorated with posters, flyers, and photographs.  Like the
proverbial moth to a flame, I've always been interested in what whacks were up
to, so I approached the van to see what was the complaint, struggle, or claim.
Honestly, this one has to qualify for some prize in the whack contest!  The
owner of the van, a fellow named Steve Lightfoot, has a wild theory that Mark
David Chapman did NOT kill John Lennon.  Stephen King did...

From a webpage on Lightfoot--click here for more.

     On the van the fellow had an enlargement of some blurry black and white
photo of Chapman standing outside of the Dakota apartment building in NYC
which Lightfoot claims is NOT Chapman, but ...Stephen King!  Apparently the
whack has been on his crusade since 1984 or so, has spread his rumors to
several cities from California to Maine, and at one point received a personal
letter from Stephen King ( a copy of which was reproduced on the van) in
which Steve admitted to loving John, would NEVER have dreamed of harming
him, wasn't even in NYC at the time of the killing, and politely asked the fellow
to stop spreading his nonsense.  I am at an absolute and total loss in trying to
guess why the whack believes King killed Lennon.  Maybe it's just a
celebrity-thing?  Nope, too simple...

     To paraphrase the Gump-dude: "Creepy is as creepy does..."  Certain acts
of erotomania are now legally categorized as stalking and, though it's the
famous victims that seem to generate most of the attention, countless
otherwise normal folk have been and continue to be victimized by this creepy
and sometimes deadly behavior.  We were shocked when the pathetic John
Hinkley, obsessed with Jodie Foster, brought attention to himself by shooting
Reagan, Brady, McCarthy, and Delahanty.  California enacted its 'anti-stalking'
law after Richard Bardo stalked and killed Rebecca Schaeffer, an actress on the
"My Sister Sam" television show.  And, almost predictably, what was once a
rare occurrence, seems to now happen on a regular basis.

     David Letterman did his best to keep smiling while Margaret Mary Ray
repeatedly broke into his home (though in her last years she switched to
stalking a retired astronaunt and recently knelt in front of an oncoming
freight-train). [For more on Ray, click here.]  Madonna had her share of
problems with being stalked by Robert Hoskin (who had vowed to slash her
throat) and Steven Spielberg had a homosexual schizophrenic fan after him
who wanted to show his appreciation by handcuffing and anal-raping him.
[For more on Madonna's stalker, click here, and for Spielberg's, click here.]
Ouch!  Recently the kook-of-the-moment award goes to Athena Marie
Rolando, the 19 year old crazy (but kinda hot) chick who broke into Brad Pitt's
home and dressed in his clothes.  In all of Athena's television interviews she
comes across as a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic, but with nude pics of
her holding a photograph of Brad now on the Internet, the simple (though
whacky and illegal) acts of a fan are no longer clearly defined.  She's apparently
trying to generate interest in herself.

     Stalking and related behavior is wrong.  Oh, we tease about it when it
happens to the rich and famous or play the disassociation game when watching
or reading a thriller ("...Stupid victim, I would NEVER let that happen to
me!"), but stalking DOES take place, seemingly, with no discrimination
regarding fame, sex, or financial status.  Relationships fail, divorce happens, a
request is denied, the unrequited enter a dark place, and all too often some just
don't understand the word NO.  It's a sad fact of life that some people go past
that "stop-sign up ahead," turn into The Twilight Zone, and never come out.
Maybe the celebrity cases have helped to bring attention to the problem of
stalking.  Perhaps something positive has arisen from the terror...

     Support groups and information services are now available in most
communities for those afraid and those who celebrate being a stalking survivor.
The STALKED website provides a brief overview of terms, discusses
"cyber-stalking," and has links to state laws.   STOP! FAN HYSTERIA!
concerns related behavior and updates with recent examples of otherwise
"normal" folk losing their perspective.  A wonderful site with much info,
chat-rooms, support, and even a de-stress Java-game (like the classic kiddy
video-game where a gopher pops up from a hole, only here it's a 'stalker'), is

     I apologize for teasing Stephen King and pretending that I wanted to wear
his socks.  Nothing could be further from the truth, as I respect him as a writer,
an individual, and a most unselfish contributor to Maine's charities.  Now,
trying on Anne Rice's clothes?  That's another column...

looking over my shoulder,

Return to Main