Doug Thompson illustration
Most of the people I follow on Twitter are real, but the fake ones are often the most fun.
Such as the bawdy Ruth Bourdain, who takes the poetic tweets of former Gourmet editor Ruth Reichl and mixes in some foul language and drug references, a la No Reservations host Anthony Bourdain. And BP Public Relations, which shows the beleaguered oil company no mercy.
But we here in Richmond have our own Twitter jester: Gene C---s (sounds like Cox). We're not outing the 26-year-old VCU graduate behind the account, who's been poking fun at the NBC-12 anchor since February, not long after the real Cox started stirring up publicity with his own Twitter observations, which are marked by a peculiar sense of humor.
"It came up as a joke at brunch one day," says the man behind the fakery. "It's fascinating — sometimes he gets kind of dark and kind of weird."
And occasionally thought-provoking: "Why are hamburgers called HAMburgers?" the real Cox asked in May.
Aside from the vulgar name, the fake account makes only gentle fun of the anchor — and if you aren't paying close attention, you may get the fake tweets confused with the real ones.
The pretend account creates a parallel life for Cox, one in which he's a devotee of pop-jazz band Steely Dan and a bit of a henpecked husband. The prankster agreed to answer a couple of questions in the voice of "Gene."
Q: Your wife changed the locks on the liquor cabinet and doesn't seem to share your love of Steely Dan. How's your relationship?
A: Our relationship is give and take. She gives me grief, and I take it.
Q: Why do you like Steely Dan? Is it the jazz or the rock?
A: I don't like Steely Dan, I love them. I'm not sure what it is that I love about them, but I would follow Fagen and Becker until the end.
Q: You tweeted that you would make an excellent addition to CSI: Miami . Do you have sunglasses-removal skills we're unaware of?
A: I just think they could use a fun-loving guy like me on the cast. More than anything, I'm just really good at going to the beach.
Fake Gene says he follows the real Gene's Twitter account, but the real Gene doesn't follow him — although word of the fake account has apparently reached the real man through the Twitter grapevine.
When asked for a comment, Cox wrote via e-mail: "I checked the Twitter rules, and this person appears in violation of the ‘impersonation' section because he has copped an image from the Channel 12 website to which he does not have rights. I would prefer if he would find another way to entertain himself, perhaps by putting his real name up and creating some original thoughts. Then I might become a follower."
In response to Cox's comment, fake Gene wrote that he's put up a different photo "to better reflect my feelings on the matter." In the new picture, the anchorman is frowning.
UPDATE: There appears to have been a meeting of the minds, as the real Gene Cox has become a follower of the pretend Gene in recent days. Glad to see those two work out their differences.
See if you can tell the real Gene from the fake one. Answers below.
A. There's more than one way to skin a cat, but none of them are legal.
B. I don't care how bad the service is, calling someone a dumbwaiter is never polite.
C. Not sure what I will do now that clubs Velvet and Rendezvous are closed. Go to Hardees, I guess.
D. I have a dead mouse in my bedroom wall. I think it's a mouse, it smells like a dead elephant. I'm sure it's not an elephant.
Quiz answers: Fake Gene, A and B; real Gene, C and D.