Living in the age of deception


To take in by deceptive means; deceive. See synonyms at deceive.

hood’wink’er n.

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Many years ago, at New York’s famed Feast of San Gennaro, I was relieved of $20 by a fast talking street vendor in a shell game. I left the Feast a bit wiser, and years later when I confessed my ignorance of New York street games to a friend, he laughed and remarked that I had clearly been ‘hoodwinked’.

I liked that word. Much more playful sounding than its cousin ‘deceived’, and much less threatening than its drunken uncle counterpart, ‘ripped off’, hoodwinked seemed to fit nicely into the picture of what happened to me that day. Lately, I am starting to feel like we are living in an age of deception, where hoodwinkers of all types are ‘taking us all in’ just a little bit.

First came Lance Armstrong, the Tours de France super star. Since bicycle racing does not attract the huge following here in the U.S. as it does in Europe, it takes some doing for a cycler to gain national name recognition. Ask anyone here in the States to name a famous cycler, and nearly everyone will name Lance Armstrong. Ask them to name a second and your question will likely be met with a blank stare. Lance seemed to have it all. A stellar athlete, Lance was from the get-go, clearly on a path to celebrity, and if his athletic prowess were not enough to seal the deal, his inspirational triumph over cancer would be. Since most of us feel that we are probably just one diagnosis away from this dread disease, Lance’s high profile cancer beat-down left us all knowing that not only was there life after cancer, but athletic top-of-your-game, celebrity status life.

Of course doping charges followed Lance’s success and those who dared to cast a shadow of doubt upon his squeaky clean image were, by many accounts, castigated and intimidated into silence. So, for many years we turned a blind eye to the super-star cyclist, preferring to see him as he wanted us to see him. Not until his recent, and now famed coming out appearance on Oprah, were we forced to confront the fact, that Lance the man, was simply another athlete with sins long hidden from view. First he said he didn’t – now he says he did…I am majorly hoodwinked.

Next came Beyonce. Her now controversial appearance at last week’s Presidential inauguration is under fire, her performance marred by allegations of lip-syncing The Star Spangled Banner (in fairness to Beyonce, if there was ever a song to lip-sync it’s that one). For some reason this inaugural “mini-scandal” seems to linger, perhaps even eclipsing Michelle Obama’s eye-rolling at the luncheon incident.

To those who say Beyonce has hoodwinked us, I cry foul. Well, maybe a mini-teeny-weeny hoodwinking went on, but who could blame her. If she had been lip-syncing to say – Barbara Streisand, well then…MAJOR hoodwinking …but she didn’t do that.  Beyonce chose, apparently (or perhaps she was advised by her handlers), to sing what is arguably one of the most difficult (and often massacred) songs ever written, by lip syncing to her own voice. So what is really wrong with that? Let’s face it. That is a damn difficult venue that Inauguration. You’re on like never before with the world watching – the Prez himself is sitting right there, and baby it’s cold outside. Who would want to take a chance on failure…

…Apparently James Taylor, that’s who. Like J.T. or hate him, you have to give the guy credit, he’s got guts. Taylor went on bald, cold, and nervous, but he played the game straight up. After his performance he gave an interview in which he admitted that Inaugurals aren’t the best gigs in the world for singing guitar players:

“It’s always hard for a guitar player to play when it’s cold because your hands sort of stiffen up and you know nerves tend to do that to you anyway. So I was, you know, very relieved to have gotten to it without any major train wrecks.”

And so he did. J.T. made it through without any ‘trainwrecks’. But it leaves me wondering if an occasional trainwreck, or maybe just a slight derailing, would not have been better for the career of Lance Armstrong. Maybe the loss of a race or two would have simply humanized him…or maybe not, but it would have kept him off of Oprah’s show confessing to the masses that he was a liar and a cheat.

And as for Beyonce, while I don’t feel that she is in the same league of hoodwinkers as Lance, I am thinking that maybe an imperfection in her performance would not have sent her career down in flames either. After all – politicians certainly don’t concern themselves with embarrassment on the national stage, so why should we expect a performer to  be perfect?

That’s it for now…back to writing about ‘writing’  topics really soon…I mean it…


*Definition courtesy of The Free Dictionary, by Farlex.