Saturday, March 01, 2008

The Slow Exit, Part 2: Does "Hawbaker", in Tabloid-ese, Mean "Train Wreck"?

A couple of other blogs have picked up in recent days on the latest surfacing of Brandi Hawbaker, that as discussed in a very curious, perhaps even pathetic post by 2+2 guru David Sklansky over at that discussion forum. The thread's been locked, now, and it will always be in danger of permanent deletion, so (with apologies to Stephen King), it's time to snag that dead, putrifying rat and encase it in a Lucite block right now. There are reasons for doing so, that I'll return to momentarily.

Here's the complete, original post from Sklansky:

The Post You Were Waiting For

For the last 2 1/2 years I have been living with a handicapped 23 year old girl named Sue. She is blind in one eye and partially blind in the other. She is slightly disfigured, slightly autistic, and has frequent seizures. She can't drive and can't distinguish left from right. The cause of these things is that she is the product of incest. But she has an IQ of 125, is very artistic and loves everybody. She especially loved Brandi and was also attracted to her.

My relationship with her is unusual and private but is by no means a dark secret. Dozens of people know the details including of course Mat and Mason. Her mother loves me.

She is very attuned to appearances and having people like her. She is very internet saavy and has her own website regarding expensive collectible dolls. She doesn't quite realize that she looks strange to most people and someone making fun of her would hurt her badly. If it was someone who she thought was her friend it would totally devastate her.

When Brandi became upset over her post being deleted she threatened me. I told her I had no power to get it undeleted and would she at least leave making fun of Sue out of her threats. Her reply was:

" You have only two options...

1. Put my thread back up and I will say nothing more.

2. Do not put my thread back up and I will create five million different
accounts all trashing you. If you think that doesn't include Sue, then
guess again. It's not about Sue... I know it's your biggest fear and the
best way to hurt you. I like Sue... But sometimes innocent bystanders
become collateral damage in a war. And that is exactly what you are
starting here.

So if my thread is not put back up... this will become a war. You need to
ask yourself if you really want this hassle. And if you really want to
deal with the wrath of my anger.

You have until the end of the day to decide."

If she was only threatening me I would have laughed it off. But because of Sue I tried to placate her. She wrote this:

David, Please forward this to Mason...

Mason ~
If my thread is not put back up ~ OR if you EVER delete another post or
thread of mine again (and ban me) ~ I will make sure that same post is on
every single other poker forum out there. Do not use your power of
authority against me again. Whatever I will say will still be said, the
only thing is that it will drive people to read about it on other sites.
So.. you might as well be smart about this and make the money off of it.

That is all.

Oh wait.... I should just tell you now... I'm going to do an interview
with Wicked Chops and Raw Vegas Tv and NWP and Bankroll Boost and Pocket
5s on Monday IF my thread is not posted back on the forum. Also, Bluff
magazine is doing a feature on me too. If you think you are protecting
David in this, guess again. I will make sure to spill the beans on
everything I can. Including his relationship with a 21-year old inbred..
Seeing as his is too mentally retarded to have a normal relationship with
anyone in his age range or intelligence and can only coexist with underage
runaways and handicapped girls. I will also talk about his deviant
behavior towards me.

~ Brandi

I hope Mason will forgive me for not forwarding it. He would have probably made the ban permanent and I was hoping I could still calm Brandi down, at least regarding Sue. I wasn't quite sure what she had in mind. But then I get a mind blowing PM from Brandon telling me that Brandi is trying to reestablish contact with him if he will find an unattractive picture of Sue that she can spread around.

From that point on every action I took was soley to prevent that. Friendly emails to Brandi. Shipping her money. Not defending myself on the thread about me. Every other goal paled in comparison. Although I have never bothered to read the emails Brandi posted, I am assuming some came after I made this decision.

As to the emails written before all this happened. (I am assuming they are not made up). The truth is far less creepy than most assume. And I am about to tell you the real story. I didn't till now because it was far more important not to set Brandi off. A lessor reason was that even the most negative spin you could put on them wouldn't bother me. I had fallen for Brandi but couldn't express it? I was a sucker for pussy pictures? A guy who wanted some action for poker lessons? All false but who cares anyway? She wasn't saying I was disloyal to my friends or that The Theory of Poker contains major errors.

But with her blackmail weapon now gone I can now explain. From the moment I met Brandi I let her know that if I was available I would hit on her. Just like TF. She replied that the only thing about him that bothered her was that he was sneaky. Had he asked to be a sugar daddy she would go for it. I took that to be an offer which I reluctantly refused. But we did occasionaly get flirtatious and slightly naughty. I once grabbed a vibrator out of my glove compartment and put it between her legs. If that disgusted her she never mentioned it. When I would visit her she often lay down in my lap.
And she was flirtatious to Sue also. Sue hoped I would bring her home to her.

But that was only a small part of our relationship. I was mainly trying to mentor her and help both of us benefit from her notoriety.

After a six month seperation for no good reason, the blowup with Brandon allowed me to try to resume where we had left off. I was well aware that in pursuing that path it was incumbant on me to try to get her to make amends with those she had wronged. So I lectured her a lot. When I got to LA last month I had some phone conversations with Brandi. In one of them I mentioned that I hate it when girls shave completely. She surprised me by saying she was just the opposite. And volunteered to come to my room and prove it in bikini panties. We didn't get around to that. The next day I met her for dinner with two friends. And she acted like a bitch toward me. Trivial stuff but completely uncalled for. Given the help I had recently given her. It was part of the reason I cut my trip short. But we still remained somewhat friendly.

When I got back to Vegas she went on a tear. 4K in a week. My two contributions were recognizing that 90 player $24 SitnGos were right up her alley and helping her with the more technical aspects. She did the rest herself. Then the one day I'm gone she blows it all. Half spent, half on $500 Satellites. I was furious that she did that but offered her one more chance. $260 for ten buy ins but she has to promise not to play higher. A piddling amount that could still reap great benefits. And as a token of appreciation how bout a picture of what you had offered to model for me? No problem she says.

Next day she is playing in a $100 tourney and there is no picture. She claims she got a small infusion of extra money. Not an acceptable excuse but forgivable. But what about the picture? Had she said that it made her feel uncomfortable, or that she didn't have time, or some such thing it would have been OK. Instead she wrote "I told you that I would send it but I didn't say when". What? She is treating me like a sucker. What did I do to deserve that? That set me off to write the other emails that you might have read. (And when I used the expressions "please me" or "be nice to me" it wasn't a euphemism for sex whether you believe me or not.)

The last few paragraph could contain some minor innacuracies but who cares? Like I said I wouldn't even care if you believed everything she implied.
The blackmail about Sue was another story though. Not the implication that I am too abnormal to have a relationship with a typical 40 year old. I can get plenty of testimonials to disprove that. It was the devastation of Sue that Brandi was holding over her head. (Any post making fun of Sue will be deleted by the way). Nipping it in the bud will hopefully ameliorate that.

But that is not why this is being posted. It was because in spite of the fact that Sue is vaguely aware that Brandi was up to no good she begged me to.
She wanted to save Brandi's life.

Were one curious about responses to such a post, one could always visit the thing, here. Not that there's much meat to the responses, most of which evolve into a debate over who is more bat-shit crazy among the two, Hawbaker or Sklansky. But one interesting side-debate is whether the post by Sklansky is whether the post is a giant level by Sklansky, who by most accounts has put up some faked, bizarre crap in the past as a means of spurring readership.

And yet, I don't think that's what's happened here. I think is all very real, very sad, perhaps even dangerous.

Why do I think this post is more or less factual? Because as far as I'm aware, all of the strange Sklansky posts have been something that can be grouped, for lack of a better phrase, as Beatles-esque "Fool on the Hill" doublespeak. Sklansky stars as The Fool, who, it turns out, is really far wiser than anybody else, or at least that's how he presents himself. Basically, Sklansky's either in or not in on the joke, depending on the viewpoint, and intentionally so in both instances. But while I remember Sklansky engaging others in all sorts or ridiculous mental challenges, one thing he is not known for, best as I remember, is a virulent attack on another in the manner of the above. This is out of character... and hence, is far more likely to be legit and be largely truthful.

To be honest, I've come to believe that Ms. Hawbaker is quite the sociopath... dangerous to others, perhaps even dangerous to herself. I don't give a damn about the damage she causes to people too stupid to refrain from getting involved with her, nor would I be likely to rushing over to save her were she to stand on a rooftop and threaten to jump. (I would make some effort to clear the sidewalk of innocent bystanders, however.) I am concerned about the collateral damage she could possibly cause to the poker world. Sad but true, poker attracts a healthy population of personalities perhaps... how to say it?... not suited for receiving keys to the city or similar civic accolades.

I admit to a fascination for these "train wreck" stories, and I admit to it, in part, for one of the reasons most of can't resist 'em. These tales help us feel superior to the folks involved. "Maybe I'm fucked up," most readers think, "but you know what? I'm not that fucked up." Perhaps that's why Jim McManus's Positively 5th Street remains my favorite poker read, because in addition to Jim's storytelling skills, there's train wreckage strewn throughout its pages. Such is the nature of the game, of Vegas, and of the personalities the lifestyle often attracts.

All this reminds me of a different book, however, one of my favorite non-fiction reads of the '90s. That's a book called Son of a Grifter: A Memoir by the Other Son, by Ken Walker (with Mark Schone). This book is a first-person account of the career of the notorious con artist Sante Kimes, now serving a life sentence for the murder of an elderly New York socialite after a strong-arm con went ridiculously and tragically beyond any sense. One of Sante's two sons also was convicted in the murder, and the story is written (or told to the ghost writer, Schone), by the older, other son, who managed to wriggle free of the insanity.

Sante Kimes' con career also became the subject of one of those History Channel (or maybe Discovery Channel) "true crime" documentaries, but for my money, the book is far better. It follows Kimes' ever-spiraling career and includes as much of her background as her son was able to uncover, but even that was filled with lies and gaps and mystery. The parallels between how Kimes escalated out of control and what the preponderance of the "facts" (some things remain disputed) in all this Hawbaker garbage seem to show are quite evident. Scary, sociopathic shit. The worst part, though, is that this latest is still a train wreck in progress. I don't see it ending soon, or well, because people don't come with warning labels.

Some should.

Elaborate hoax, spanning years and involving dozens of contributors? I don't think so, despite the opinions of many people who believe that. I think that such a hoax would have collapsed under its own weight by now.

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