MAD DOG: Creating History
History is lies. I know this because a number of years ago I met a college history professor who spent twenty minutes explaining this to me, giving point by point examples that proved his assertion. The fact that he was in a psychiatric ward in Paterson, NJ shouldn't sway you from believing him, for while I can't for the life of me remember what he had as evidence (you're going to have to trust me that it was wildly convincing), it turns out I've finally got some of my own. And the best part is you don't have to come to a psychiatric ward to hear me tell you about it. Yet.What brings this to mind is that Jessie Becker recently died. Jessie, for those of you who don't scour the obituary page every morning looking for proof that you're still alive, was 100 years old when she passed away and actually saw the Wright brothers fly their plane for the first time. Of course she also claims to have traveled west in a covered wagon, watched the first oil well being drilled in Victoria, Texas, and baby-sat for Strom Thurmond when he was knee high to a PAC fund.Just imagine being at Kitty Hawk, NC on December 17, 1903 and watching the Wright brothers as they sailed across the huge dunes, triumphant in the knowledge that they finally figured out a way to traverse the huge mounds without getting sand in their bathing suits. The Wright Brothers, in case you're getting them mixed up with the Baldwin brothers, consisted of Orville and Wilbur. If it wasn't for them, every time you boarded a 747 at the airport you'd just sit inside this hulking metal shell for a couple of hours being served drinks, peanuts and a meal that dogs cover up with dirt until the pilot came out of the cockpit and admitted that he had no idea what to do because air flight hasn't been invented yet. The Wright Brothers' second claim to fame, of course, is that they have a popcorn king and the owner of a talking horse named after them.Unfortunately Jessie Becker died before I had a chance to talk to her and find out what really happened that day in Kitty Hawk. I suspect it's not what we think. History is diluted, changed and altered over the years. Hell, Oliver Stone changes it with just about every new movie he puts out. And he's not the only one. I don't want to be the one to break the bad news, but Woodstock wasn't all peace and love like the movie, it was a yucky, muddy mess. And to this day my parents think Don Ameche invented the telephone with the help of his assistant, Henry Fonda. This is a truly sad state of affairs, since I thought everyone knew Don Ameche invented the electric light bulb.Remember the caution "Don't believe everything you see in print?" (Except this column, of course!) In his new book, Leading With My Chin, Jay Leno stretches the truth farther then Pinocchio with his fingers crossed when he recounts a story about an embarrassing incident on Dinah Shore's TV show. Unfortunately it never happened. Not to Leno, anyway. It did, however, happen to comedian Jeff Altman, who gladly accepted $1,000 and gave Leno permission to use the story as his own.This could open up a whole new business: life-swapping. People with boring lives could buy exciting stories to tell their friends and have authentication that it actually happened to themjust as long as they keep their canceled check as proof. Autobiographies will be even more exciting than they already are. Shirley MacLaine can sell some of her past lives to Kato Kaelin, who still needs one of his own. Dennis Rodman can trade some of his celebrity liaisons to William Bennett. And the estate of Marilyn Monroe could sell her purported dalliance with John Kennedy to Pamela Anderson Lee, which would not only boost her career (one of the few things about her that has yet to be artificially boosted) but would create implications of child molestation on the Camelot years, one of the last remaining things about it that hasn't been rewritten.Anecdote swap meets will spring up all around the country. Newspapers will be chock full of classified ads offering to buy and sell interesting life stories. This could get so big they'll form a stock exchange for it, the New Life Stock Exchange, and instead of futures trading they'll deal in past trading.While all this may sound like a pipe dream to you, remember, one day you may be 100 years old and telling people that you were there that day in 1997 when Mad Dog created the first matter transporter. Or cure for cancer. Or microwave outdoor barbecue grill. Whatever it is, make up a good one, okay?