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Twitter Torpedoes “CWalken” (update)

Updated Friday at 5 pm:  

This devastating note just popped into my email from CWalken: 

"It’s been fun! Twitter has decided that the CWalken account is not in their best interest. Alas!"

I will be following up. Twitter’s policy is to shut down fake Twitterers. But as CWalken has pointed out to me, he never claimed to be Christopher Walken, just "Chris Walken from Manhattan."

Well, I hope Mondo Media wasn’t the cause.


Big excitement over here at Mondo Media: Through a combination of sleuthing, persistence and dumb luck, I tracked down the person who is really tweeting as Christopher Walken. (Tuesday, I confirmed that the "CWalken" Twitter feed is not written by the actor.)

What’s great about the "CWalken" feed is that it sounds like Christopher Walken, yet it’s got the consistent tone and point of view that only a committed writer can achieve. (That’s no slag on the actor who, no doubt, has other kinds of business to attend to every day than getting words and images just right within the 140-character or less limits of a tweet.) "CWalken" reads as if the actor himself were emerging from a surreal haze a few times a day to note the stupidity, oddness, and weird beauty of the everyday world:

"I do my best thinking in a barber’s chair. Sadly I do my worst remembering there too. Sure, I could take some notes but who does that?

In keeping with the mysterious, subversive aura he’s cultivated in the feed, the "CWalken" writer does not want to reveal his identity to the public. He would communicate with me only on email, and did not tell me his name. How do I know I found the real CWalken? He sent me a personal message on Twitter from the CWalken account. Then, a few hours before that post above appeared, he told me he would soon be posting something about a haircut.

Also, he maintains a personal Twitter feed, which he pointed me to but asked me not to reveal here, and it sounds much like the CWalken feed, only a bit raunchier and more free-wheeling.

Anyway, I’m convinced I found the guy.

Here’s our Q&A, conducted by email.

Can you give me some general idea of your age, family, where you live, what you do for a living… that sort of thing? (I take it from [your other Twitter feed] you are a guy. I sense a wife and kid in there too.)

I am a guy in his forties with a wife and a kid — good catch. My [other Twitter feed] avatar is part of my face and that’s about as much as I ever put of myself online. I work in the publishing & media industry and as such spread my time between the coasts. Think of me as one of the consultants from Office Space with better shirts.

OK, so this whole thing started when you took over a Twitter account called "CWalken" run by the culture blog Clusterflock, and changed the password without telling anyone. How involved are you with Clusterflock? Why did you decide to take over the CWalken Twitter account without letting anyone know? Did you tell them after you took it over?

Great question. I am actually only peripherally involved with Clusterflock (see question 1). I was more active in the past but due to privacy issues and professional conflicts I became a more marginal participant (posting under different names — eventually under the anonymous Christoper Walken account primarily). The core members of Clusterflock have always been a sensitive and welcoming group and, while I’ve never met any of them in person, I’ve admired them almost as a quirky extended family.  As for Twitter — believe it or not I never told the group that I’d taken over the account. It’s important to keep in mind that only one or two of us even knew what Twitter was at the time and that the account had sat inactive for months before I started playing with it. This was not a dramatic power play by any means.

Why did I take it and not tell anyone? Complicated in a boring way. At first I left the access alone and posted using the shared account information thinking that the feed could be a fun improvisational exchange. No-one else participated but it didn’t matter anyway. I think we had a good 40-50 followers so the stage was pretty insignificant.

Given that I was the only person posting to the feed, the updates took on a consistency that one might expect from a single-owner account. It wasn’t exactly a source of pride for me but I was satisfied with what I was writing. One day a visitor came by, logged in, and posted a rape-themed "tweet" that was vile, ugly and hateful. I deleted the post, changed the password and waited for someone to ask my why. No one ever did.

So — for the following months I quietly posted my "cwalken" posts for my amusement and as a subtle prank — not a prank on the world but a brotherly prank on my buddies at Clusterflock.

Something happened a couple of weeks ago and everybody showed up. Now it’s a little weird and would appear to be a "hoax" on a much larger scale. And maybe it is now but it wasn’t supposed to be.

Were you approaching the cwalken feed as some sort of literary experiment or project?

The original intent was that of an experiment in that Clusterflock owners/admins wanted to provide an anonymous platform for members to express random thoughts. The Clusterflock site has done a wonderful job of cultivating this model but it was never effectively extended to Twitter — probably because of my appropriation of the account.

My own project is far less ambitious. I simply enjoy writing for voices other than my own. When I post a "cwalken" update I am hoping to write something as I would imagine it spoken by Christoper Walken. The politics, tastes and observations are my own. That is — I am not trying to speak for Christopher Walken. I am simply borrowing his voice and reworking my words in his cadence.

Some people crochet, I do this.

One last note on Clusterflock — I think many, if not most, suspect me as Cwalken because this is just the kind of thing that I would do. When they say that they don’t know, however, they are speaking the truth. I am very patient and very stubborn and as such have drug them along unwillingly for this strange ride.

Who are your favorite writers? Do you consciously evoke any of them when you tweet as cwalken?

Ouch — that’s a hard one. Philip Kerr is probably my favorite writer. I’m also a big fan of Umberto Eco but I wouldn’t say that either comes to mind at all in my Twitter shenanigans.

How much do you try to use Christopher Walken himself as a source/influence?

I actually know nothing about Christopher Walken other than that I love his films. He seems an honorable man with a great voice. Sorry — nothing deep here at all!

What do you think about the whole "celebrity Twitter" world? (I loved your tweets on Ashton Kutcher, here and here).

I am not a fan of the celebrity Twitter world — with the exception of John Hodgman of course. Hodgman can get off in the weeds from time to time but he is truly a treasure. Self-deprecating, funny and brilliant. Other than that I find the narcissistic ramblings of celebrity Twitter to be as annoying as the next person. I am not a fan of Ashton Kutcher.

How do you decide what goes in [your personal Twitter feed], what goes in Cwalken?

[My Twitter feed] is where I put my spur-of-the-moment, knee-jerk, rude posts. I try not to do that in Cwalken out of respect for the audience and the character. So [my Twitter feed] is me without filters.

I wish it were more complex than that!