5 Newsworthy D-Bags Who Got Smacked Down By Karma
Thanks to the all-encompassing eye of the online news media, our lives are saturated with assholes. Just a nonstop barrage of human dingleberries big and small, from high-powered politicians to the sentient sack of goblin semen Martin Shkreli to that Pizza Hut manager who threatened their employees over evacuating ahead of Hurricane Irma.
So to maintain my sanity in this constant barrage of entitled bastards, I've started looking for a very particular type of these stories -- namely, the ones in which the assholes do their asshole thing, only to be ruthlessly and hilariously smacked down for their troubles. Here are a few of my favorites, because let's face it, we all have a long week ahead of us and could probably do with a little cathartic schadenfreude to kick it off.
The "For Love" Piano Guy Learns Not To Be An Awful Creep
Breakups are rarely pleasant and amicable. Maybe one of the parties would like to continue the relationship, or maybe there's a third party involved, or maybe the guy refuses to share any of the jointly bought furniture because he already peed on it all, so by Jungle Law, they belong to him now. What? It's a perfectly valid clause, officer.
The thing is, it's always about people. No matter how much you hate or pine after your former significant other, they're still a person, and as such, all the usual terms and conditions apply. Unfortunately, no one told this to Luke Howard, who reacted to the end of his relationship with all the grace of a toddler getting his candy taken. So he hauled a freaking piano to a park in Bristol in the UK, and declared to the media that he would play endlessly as a last-ditch effort to get back his lost love. He declined to name the object of his affection, which is good, but then he insisted on returning right back to "flaming turd" territory by publicly calling her his "Rapunzel." Finally, he maximized the cringe factor by setting up a "For love"-themed Facebook account for his Grand Gesture. It's probably better not to delve into how he was planning to update it, what with, you know, him playing all the time. Hint: Probably with his weird dick.
All of this would be sort of understandable if the person doing it was, say, a clueless 19-year-old whose "forever love" of three years moved to another school. Kids can get away with believing that grandiose Hollywood romantic gestures are cool. I know I used to believe it. However, everyone over 25 should have figured out that no woman actually wants or needs a public, massively embarrassing declaration of everlasting sugary affection, no matter what the end of every episode of How I Met Your Mother says.
Luke Howard is 34. The relationship he was flipping out over lasted four months. As a noted hot mess of a human being, I'm in no position to say that anyone should get a grip, but ... Luke, dude, get a grip. The lady already said no. Even if what you're doing somehow isn't public coercion in your head, it's definitely embarrassing the shit out of her. Sure, you didn't name her, but now she has to face the fact that everyone in her social circles who was aware of your soppy ass knows that you're actively playing the martyr in public, and thus making her seem like the monster who left you, a Nice Guy.
Fortunately for humanity, Luke's story went viral, as he'd almost certainly hoped, but in the exact opposite way from how he intended. The words "creepy," "abusive," and "stalker" were thrown around. He was compared to a toddler holding their breath until they get what they want. Many women recognized his stunt as classic "not taking no for an answer" behavior, and gave helpful tips to Luke's "Rapunzel." ("Go have a picnic with another guy right in front of his ass.") Finally, barely a day into his quest, someone inevitably punched him, because let's face it, that's the only way this was ever going to end.
I'm not advocating punching people, because come on. But at least this one had an upside: Luke seems to have gained some insight from the ordeal, and has now realized that he probably just succeeded in thoroughly embarrassing and alienating his ex. These days, he's spending his time much more usefully by ... giving out local news interviews in which he insists he was just misunderstood? Fuck. Dude's totally going to haul a full marching band to the door of the next woman who flees from him, isn't he?
The Rudest Bookseller In Britain Gets Run Out Of Town
Some people are clearly not cut out to be in customer service, yet the cruel hand of fate picks them up and throws them right into the throes of the industry. Steve Bloom, who understatedly describes himself as "not a people person," was one of these people. A bookseller by trade, he opened a store in the little British town of Hawes. Within four years, he had acquired a reputation as "Britain's rudest bookseller," whose behavior was compared to that of Basil Fawlty, John Cleese's famous post-Monty-Python misanthrope from Fawlty Towers. He collected a 50-pence fee (roughly 68 cents) just to enter the store, and was known to call the police if a customer questioned the practice. He called the local doctor "a pain in the arse" when he visited the store just as he was closing. He allegedly antagonized a customer so badly that they later tipped their dinner over Bloom. He definitely gave enough shit to enough people that the local parish council got no fewer than 20 official complaints.
As whatever passes for Yelp in the UK attests, all of this makes ol' Steve seem like a pretty cool, take-no-shit kind of guy ... from afar. All the five-star reviews are pretty clearly the product of Edgy Internet Warriors who unsurprisingly see him as a saint, while the people who have actually visited the shop bombard it with a nigh-unanimous one-star cavalcade of unannounced entry fees and absurdly rude behavior. This is the kind of guy who starts giving hell to customers if they don't ask permission before looking at the postcards.
However, he was operating in a small English countryside town, and if Edgar Wright movies have taught us anything, it's that you never, ever fuck with small English countryside towns. The council started to actively smoke Bloom's business out of the town, and in 2017, he finally decided to sell it. Of course, if you ask him, the council (and the curse I refuse to believe they didn't threaten to place on him unless he'd leave) had nothing to do with his decision to call it quits. He just wanted to escape all the whining customers who kept unfairly calling him rude. Sure, Steve. That'll be our little secret.
The Professor Who Called Hurricane Harvey Instant Karma For GOP Voters Was Fired
Let's say that you have a job that requires you to set an example -- say, teaching. Now, let's also say that you learn of a huge natural disaster that causes immeasurable amounts of human suffering. How do you comment on the news while keeping things as tactful and appropriate as possible?
You ... you gleefully write it up to "instant karma," and blame the whole thing on voting for a political party you don't like? Wait, that's not what I-
Oh, goddammit, Ken Storey.
This was probably not the stupidest online comment about Hurricane Harvey, which you'll remember played merry hell in Texas last month and killed over 80 people. However, it was definitely the stupidest thing said by a college professor (which, come to think of it, is a pretty high mountain to climb as well). Assistant sociology professor Ken Storey, who you can probably guess doesn't like Republicans very much, took one look at a brutal disaster which displaced 300,000 people from their homes and caused around $70 billion in damages, condensed it to its ultimate essence -- "LOL people who disagree with me politically are getting what's coming to them" -- and posted it for all the world to see. When someone pointed out that he plied his trade in the University of Tampa, which meant that his state was also a) pro-GOP in the last election and b) extremely prone to natural disasters, his reply was: "Yep, those who voted [Trump] here deserve it as well."
Look, this is the internet. We've all gotten "blood to the Blood God" angry at someone who doesn't buy to our specific goals and ideals at some point. But as Storey would find out, there's a thin line between screaming obscenities in YouTube comments and harnessing the pain and grief of hundreds of thousands to take cheap shots at people who disagree with you politically.
It's rare to see the steps of Taking Down A Dipshit danced perfectly, but in this case, everyone knew their parts down to the tiniest plie. Storey busied himself with a bunch of hasty tweet-deleting, backtracking, and too-little-too-late apologizing. Twitter bust out the screencaps and a #FireKenStorey hashtag, and the internet piled on the guy the way that only the internet can. Former UT alumni and people who were potentially sending their kids there started making pointed comments about taking their business elsewhere. And finally, the university itself, which initially just tried to distance itself from Storey's comments, gave him the ol' "Ken, come on in and have a seat" and told him to pack his shit. Take it easy, Ken. I'm sure they'll keep your resume on hand if they find an opening in the Tweeting Literal Diarrhea department.
A Vegan Restaurant Serves A Side Order Of Baby Buttholes
Everyone reading this probably knows and has mentally dropkicked that particular type of parent who thinks that their kids can do no wrong. And even if the children might occasionally screw up, they as parents are definitely not to blame, ever. You'd think that there are limits to this behavior -- like, say, that these parents wouldn't blame the other customers if the kids were in a restaurant and started shitting on the floor and climbing on everyone's tables. But you'd be wrong, because earlier this year, that exact scenario happened. And the parent in question was the owner of said restaurant.
Buttholegate, which for the record is the only post-Watergate scandal with the "gate" suffix I'll ever actively use or endorse, took place in a restaurant called Imagine Vegan Cafe in Memphis, TN. Or rather, its Yelp page: A customer of the place left a review which described a dining experience wherein the owners' toddler walked up to the customer, stood on her table buck naked, and started proudly displaying their butthole at her. While "a kid walking up to a vegan enjoying her lunch and mooning her" might be sort of hilarious in a movie starring Will Ferrell or Zach Galifianakis, it's not what you'd call an ideal dining experience under any other circumstances. Even so, the non-toddler-related parts of the review weren't as condemning as you'd expect from someone who got a faceful of baby ass. The reviewer even said that she'd probably give the place another shot.
The owner, however, reacted to this perfectly justified criticism by completely and utterly flipping her shit. She went in full Mama Bear mode, calling the reviewer out by her actual name and flying into diatribes on the restaurant's various social media accounts against the increasing number of people who came out of the online woodwork to point out that maybe rampant sphincters aren't the best way to run a restaurant. If you've ever met an enraged soccer mom, you can probably guess the arguments. "It's our restaurant, and if you can't handle our glorious babies running around naked, screeching at you, and actually taking shits on the floor, it's your fault for not being able to handle the miracle of life."
Of course, the internet reacted to this attitude the way the internet reacts to everything: by doing its level best to tear down the business. The restaurant's various social media pages were filled with unrelenting vitriol, to the point that they had to delete them. The Yelp page was filled with wonderfully sarcastic, butt-themed one-star reviews.
The tragic part is just how perfectly avoidable this all was. For me, "a faceful of baby ass" is perfectly normal feedback for my columns. No matter how proud you are of your kids, you've got to be ready for comments like that when you're running a business, especially if the baby ass in question is very, very literal. But a restaurant owner happened to have a bad day, made some dumb calls, and before she knew it, the wrath of the internet rained upon her business.
However, this is one of those rare times when everyone involved seems to have something approaching a happy ending. Unless she's really unlucky, the poor customer is unlikely to ever face a baby sphincter again while she eats. The internet got to empty its bile pouches. Hell, even Imagine Vegan Cafe seems to have survived the barrage: Their social media accounts are open again, and they've even found a sense of humor about the situation, as they're now selling "I Survived #Buttholegate" T-shirts. To directly quote Rocky Balboa, it ain't about how many buttholes you take; it's about how many buttholes you can get back up from.
The HuffPo Writer Who Failed To Love Chicago
Look, I don't usually want to encourage anyone to read other people's stuff before they finish mine, because as an internet writer, I am a vain and fragile creature who thrives on fleeting attention. However, in this case, I must admit that you can only really get a sense of what kind of a person Eric Barry, aka this Huffington Post writer, is if you read his work first.
Seeing as I don't personally know the guy, I -- like you -- can only attest to what that particular article makes him seem like, so let's do that. Behind that link, you'll find an absurdly smug viral essay about living in Chicago, a town that never embraced the writer no matter how he tried. He guilts the city about the various presumably bike-related accidents in which he could have died. (Quick aside from someone who rides a bike himself: If you have three brutal accidents in as many years, it just might be possible that you are the one driving like a dipshit.) He marvels at the price of beer, and at the way even Lagunitas, one of the "quirkier" beers, had found its way in the city. He states that Chicago is a pretty vanilla, family oriented city. He expresses shock at the way the women he attempted to chat up at bars were quick to tell him that they were taken, and at the way they mysteriously become agitated when his very next line was telling them he, quote, "doesn't want to fuck ANY OF THEM." Of course he would have, but "that wasn't the point." He says positive things too, but even they have this weird negging vibe straight out of a pick-up artist's manual. Ultimately, the whole article seems to exist only to announce that the guy eventually moved to New York, baby.
But again, this is just one article. I don't know this man. It's not for me to discuss the possible shortcomings that might have contributed to the way Chicago didn't work out for him. Fortunately, I don't have to, because here's A.V. Club writer Katie Rife, who actually knew Eric Barry during his time in Chicago. Rife is happy to point out a few discrepancies in Barry's sordid tale ... or in the native language of Comeuppance: "Exposed the living shit out of him." For one, his experiences of rejection may have had something to do with the way he kept bringing up that he was "sex-positive" (which apparently means that if you didn't want to have sex with him, you were a closed-minded prude). His other favorite conversation piece was his own dick, and in particular, how tiny it is. What? How was everyone not just flocking around the guy? Those are totally things that will turn every party into a cornucopia of fruitful conversation, and in no way could ever result in five seconds of awkward silence and a quick "sorry, I have a boyfriend" nine times out of ten.
Rife also points out that there was always this weird undercurrent of "But what about me?" in Barry's activities, which didn't sit well in Chicago's no-nonsense environment. It doesn't help that Barry apparently tends to blurt out his impressions as facts. What he sees as the "family oriented, wholesome" Chicago actually has a pretty active kink scene. That "quirky" Lagunitas that had magically found their way to Chi-town? There's a brewery right in the city. All of this remains a mystery of Detective Barry.
So yeah. Again, it's not my place to insinuate that this just might be a man who lives in a bubble of his own excellence and elevated self-importance, and then acts like a whiny martyr when other people don't recognize his genius. That's an impression you'll have to form on your own, if you so desire. Still, I'll be pretty damn surprised if, three years down the line, he doesn't write a "Goodbye, New York" article which lambastes the latest city that never worshiped him as their master. After all, he already roasted San Francisco when he moved from there to Chicago a few years ago. We can only hope that 50 years from now, he's ridiculing the fucking moon for not showing up to his one-man show Eric Barry And Eric Barry's Sobbing Wiener.
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