How These Things Get Started

September 20, 2006: The Kurt Russel Conspiracy

1. PICK A CELEBRITY. Preferrably a mid-to-low B-lister, someone who’s known but not widely followed, perhaps a former A-lister who’s on a low-profile decline. Alternately, you might choose a token member of a group you’d like to malign.

Column A: Marisa Tomei, Jimmy Fallon, Jason Alexander, an albino, a member of the Beach Boys

2. PICK AN EMBARASSING PECADILLO. Anything embarrassing can serve, but the best rumors involve acts of choice. Urban legends prey on the fears and insecurities of the beholder, and nothing is more frightening than our capacity for poor decision-making. A collection of stolen socks would be better than, say, incontinence. (Actually, scratch that. Anything crotch- or bowel-related is certified platinum.)

Column B: steals socks, steals toothbrushes, has a seltzer fetish, cannot control bowels, wrote the song “I Love The Flower Girl”

3. PICK A LOCATION. The best rumors take the form of a story, and every story needs a setting. Choose a place where the rich and powerful must mingle with the little folk, often with embarrassing results.

Column C: a dive bar, a deli, an alley, Nyack, purgatory.

4. TRY IT. Have you heard about Jason Alexander? My girlfriend’s cousin works as a waitress in Nyack, and she said she saw Jason Alexander in there and he wouldn’t stop asking about the seltzer bottles. And when he, Jason Alexander, went to use the bathroom, one of the seltzer bottles disappeared!