Famous After Death

(Bloomsbury USA; 2000)


“The man who throws a bomb is an artist, because he prefers a great moment to anything.”

—G. K. Chesterton

From the Book

From the journals of Noel Hammersmith. The entry is undated, but was almost certainly composed in the spring of 1988.

All the prisoners wanted to be on camera. Early this morning, they started banging the bars and stamping their feet, and by the time the crew arrived, the ruckus was deafening. So Candy Ass—that’s what we call the warden, Candy Ass—made an agreement with the producer: If the convicts put a lid on it after the interview, the camera could dolly slowly down the line of cells, and everybody could wave and blow kisses.

The Corrections Officers were furious. “You’re making scumbags into movie stars! Whose side are you on anyway?” They wanted a ranked shot of the entire prison staff, short ones kneeling in front. The world’s fattest, nastiest, and most frequently defeated varsity squad. “Team Cardiac,” that’s what the prisoners call them.

The producer wouldn’t budge. Finally, after a series of angrily whispered conferences, it was agreed that three CO’s would come on camera to unshackle and then lead me back to my cell. The staff could draw straws to determine which guards got the exposure.

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