Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for October, 2008

The Art Thief

October 28, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Art 2 Comments →

I knew a guy who claimed he knew a guy who stole a painting from the Louvre in the early 1970s. This was before the current security systems were installed, and before the tourist hordes clutching copies of the Da Vinci Code had descended on the place. My source claims that as teenagers, he and his friends would go jogging in the museum.

The thief was a very quiet, nondescript, angry man who frequented the Louvre. He was particularly fond of a certain painting, which he visited at least once a week. The painting (not in the photo) was small, the size of a book (A Vermeer?! My source couldn’t remember); it could be tucked into someone’s coat and carried out without attracting attention. One day the angry man decided that his weekly visits were not enough. He needed to have the painting by him at all times. So he walked up to a female museum guard and said, “What would happen if I grabbed a painting and ran out?”

“What?” the guard said, and laughed. Whereupon the man seized the painting and ran out of the Louvre. By the time the stunned guard could react to the theft, he was halfway out of the building. No one stopped him at the exit. He took the painting home and put it in a desk drawer where he could look at it as long and as often as he wanted. He had no intention of selling it; he just wanted to look at it.



The police conducted a search for the missing painting but they had no leads: the guard’s description of the thief applied to half the male population of Paris, and the fences knew nothing of the stolen art. The painting remained in the thief’s possession for a decade. The decision to return it came as quickly as the decision to take it. He phoned in an anonymous tip to the police and left the painting in a shopping bag on a chair in a crowded cafe. The identity of the thief was never established.

Of course, my source could’ve made up this story.

In the New Yorker, Dutch Master, the story of the man who forged Vermeers, sold one to Hermann Goering, and became a folk hero.

Free Anarchomics

October 27, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, The Workplace No Comments →


Time Management for Anarchists by Jim Munroe (via Boing Boing). How to be productive without having, or being, a boss. Starring Emma Goldman and Mikhail Bakunin.



If anarchosyndicalism is not for you, what about hereditary monarchy by divine right? Read the first chapter of Cintra Wilson’s Caligula for President, in Boing Boing.

In the land of “What?”

October 26, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Music, Technology 4 Comments →

My earbuds—those tiny plugs you stick in your ear to listen to an iPod—have taken as much abuse as a piece of equipment can take and endured it without complaint. Though widely derided when the first iPods came out—the technical term was “piece of crap”—the plain white earbuds have served me well. Admittedly I’m not finicky about sound quality. If I were, I wouldn’t be listening to my music library on an iPod, with the earbuds that came in the box, while walking around a mall where every store has its own music playing, volume turned up to compete with the neighbor’s music, the mall’s muzak, and the pianist pounding out show tunes in the food court. Purist audiophiles shudder at the idea of portable personal mp3 players, super-compressed music files being, to them, an abomination. The apostates who have embraced new technology say that at the very least, one must ignore the iPod earbuds and get a proper pair of noise-canceling cushioned headphones, the kind you clap on like earmuffs in the dead of winter. . .

In the land of “What?” in Emotional Weather Report – Gadgets, today in the Star.

Honey, I killed a Moleskine.

October 25, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Notebooks No Comments →

I’ve been using Moleskine notebooks for a couple of years, they’re the perfect companion on trips, and they’ve put up with heavy-but-reasonable use without complaint. Until now.



This carnet fell apart for no good reason. The binding on the second to the last page before the pocket came apart. The pocket contained two business cards, a concert ticket and a folded receipt, so it wasn’t exactly full to bursting. 



I take obsessive care of my notebooks—one of the vestiges of my Theresian upbringing—I don’t like dog-eared pages and I especially don’t bend the spine back (shudder). The only explanation I can think of for this disintegrated notebook is that the glue can’t withstand high humidity. Which doesn’t explain why its fellows are in perfect condition.

I still love Moleskines, I’m just a little disgruntled.


A Czech weekly called Respekt released details from police records in 1950 which suggest that the writer Milan Kundera denounced a person suspected of espionage. The suspected spy was sentenced to 22 years in jail. Was Milan Kundera a rat? Does The Unbearable Lightness of Being ring true if it was written by an informer?

Samuel Abraham says, “the manner of reporting this tragic case represent another substantial drop in the level of decency and professionalism in journalism.” Bernard-Henri Levy reprimands the media and defends Kundera, saying, “”My thoughts are with Milan Kundera. I am thinking about this literary war which has been choreographed with the precision of a ballet, where the first blow leaves the enduring mark and a newspaper, which has the audacity to call itself Respekt, takes it upon itself to destroy you, and all you can do is sit out the beating, bend over double and live out the rest of your days with an infamous shadow which is not your own.”


October 24, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, In Traffic 10 Comments →

Painting: “Red on Maroon” by Mark Rothko (from

I saw a dead body by the sidewalk. I was in a cab on the corner of Ayala and Makati Avenues, waiting for the light to change. The cabbie was listening to the radio broadcast of the Senate hearing on the euro-happy police visiting Russia. Suddenly a reporter interrupted the broadcast to say that a woman had jumped from the 15th floor of the PLDT Building and landed on the driveway.

The light turned green and the cab crossed Ayala, only to be caught in a jam. As the cab crawled along Makati Avenue I saw her. She was lying face-down on the concrete, surrounded by police and gawkers. I got to thinking, Did she fall or was she pushed? Why’d she do it? If a mass of about 60 kg falls from a height of about 40 m at 9.8 m/s/s, what is the impact? What is the splatter pattern? Did she mean to do at lunchtime when everyone would see? Given the temperature and humidity, how long before. . .Was this truly her choice? Did her life pass before her eyes? How many lives in how many parallel universes will be altered because of this one death?

When I left the area three hours later the crowd was still there, so presumably the body had not been taken away. I hope someone put a blanket over her.

A Squash Town

October 23, 2008 By: jessicazafra Category: Sports besides Tennis 2 Comments →

“The small village of Nawakille (pop. few thousand) outside the frontier city of Peshawar in Pakistan boasts something that no other in the world can. Over the last half century, the village that does not have a single squash court, has produced six world number ones in the sport. In fact, since 1950 the six between them have won 29 British Opens (the Wimbledon of squash) and 14 World Opens (which started only in 1975). . .”

Nawakille: A Squash Town in All Things Pakistan, via 3Quarks Daily.