All just an act? Millionaire who seemed to oppose Back Bay dispensary supported it in August, neighborhood group says

Oliver Curme

Oliver Curme during his zoning performance yesterday.

Video of Oliver Curme's hate-filled diatribe against Army vets with PTSD, people in wheelchairs, people with MS and "cadaverous" breast-cancer patients in "ridiculous turbans" he said would use a proposed medical-marijuana dispensary on Newbury Street came three months after he wrote the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay to support the proposed dispensary.

After the zoning board yesterday heard from supporters of the dispensary, it called for testimony from opponents - and Curme was first in that line. He shocked the crowded room with his disparaging comments - and kept going even after several zoning-board members told him they'd heard enough.

WBZ reports Curme's wife is saying he actually supports the dispensary around the corner from their home in the Burrage Mansion on Commonwealth Avenue and was attempting to be "satirical," something not obvious to the people shaking their heads in the eighth-floor hearing room in City Hall.

Sue Baker, a member of the NABB executive board tonight, who testified against the dispensary because of its location on a street popular with children, forwarded an e-mail that Curme sent on Aug. 10 to NABB, City Councilor Josh Zakim and state Rep. Jay Livingstone:

Dear Neighbors

I am writing to express my support for the proposed marijuana dispensary at 331 Newbury Street. I am almost an abutter, residing at 314 Commonwealth Ave. It is past time for fear mongering; now that marijuana is legal, purchasers should not be characterized as drug users, unsavory characters or homeless, any more than those who drink wine at Sonsie next door, or purchase "hard liquor" from Bauer Wine and Spirits across the street. Although I do not use marijuana, I support the right of Massachusetts citizens to do so, and that right should extend to its legal purchase.

Sincerely,

Oliver Curme
314 Commonwealth Ave
Boston, MA 02115

The Board of Appeal approved the Compassionate Organics proposal. Several nearby residents have retained local real-estate lawyer and former City Councilor Larry DiCara to fight a dispensary on Newbury Street.

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Comments

Agreed!

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Agreed!

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Maybe he was trying to be satirical

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Maybe this was a bit that played well at some cocktail party of well-meaning blue-bloods and hedge fund managers.

It could be that his heart is in the right place, but he really doesn't understand that many people outside that cocktail party would be upset.

Or maybe he was high, and REALLY supports the convenient dispensary.

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Long Con

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Say what you want about this guy, but his speech stirred the waters and brought attention to the issue. The utter ridiculousness and maliciousness of his speech shined a bright light on how fucking STUPID the anti-pot and NIMBY (aka Marty's)arguments are. Its a MEDICAL dispensary remember, not a recreational one. The types of folks he "attacked" are exactly the kinds of customers the place would be servicing.
Having worked in Copley at a liquor store I can attest to the number of drunks and junkies that meander around back bay, waiting in line at 8am for the packie to open to get their first quarter pint of vodka of the day. Needles strewn around dumpsters in the public alleys. The neighbors have bigger problems than patients visiting the pot-shop.

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Nah, he didn't

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I've been thinking a lot about this guy and his act this morning (yes, slow news day so far).

On the one hand, yes, he put on a very Swiftian, very "A Modest Proposal" level of satire.

On the other hand, unlike Swift, he failed completely. Nobody's talking about the actual objections by residents and their lawyer, which were themselves easy pickings for satire (armored cars gridlocking Newbury Street? Patients toking up in alleys?). Nobody's saying, yeah, those deluded people in the Back Bay, let's approve this dispensary (and mind you, it was approved). Instead, they're all talking about what a jerk Oliver Curme is. Last night, for example, the Globe put up a story pretty much just about him - only this morning did they add a sidebar story about the actual dispensary decision.

By punching down ("cadaverous" breast-cancer patients?), by performing completely without context (everybody knew who Swift was, everybody today knows who Colbert is; Curme gave no clues where he was coming from), Curme proved himself an Andy Kaufman. There's an art to what Kaufman and this guy did, but making any sort of real point? No, he failed completely.

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Snark Tags

He forgot his snark tags. In the age of daily White House performances by Ms. Conway and Ms. Huckabee-Sanders and their affiliated shrubbery, snark tags for snark are critically necessary.

He's also a far better performer than he probably realized. He should consider an acting career.

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Video of Mean Back Bay Anti-Dispensary Guy

When I read about this, I was pissed off and thought to myself, "What a complete fucking asshole!" as I am sure so many of you wonderful fellow UHub readers were. However, after watching the guy speak on video I have to believe that he was just making an awkward attempt at Bill Murray style sarcastic and ironic humor. Maybe in the next election cycle he can dress up as Bigfoot and run for City Council........

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performance

On the one hand: taken as a whole, and in hindsight, it seems obvious he was doing a Trump parody-dissing vets, reducing the value of women to their physical appearance, making fun of MS patients.

On the other hand: Even now watching the video it is plausible that someone would express these views, which are really the most extreme form of the nimbyism we see on a regular basis. And calling it "satire" hardly diminishes the cruelty directed at vulnerable populations. Also, WTF is the point?

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Baizuo Performance Art

Best. Troll. Ever.

A few minutes of performance art trolling inadvertently got the SJW crowd wishing creepy forms of death on one of their own. Noice.

Bonus points for Adam scooping Turtleboy on this one.

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Congratulations

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In a thread about a guy who stood up in front of a crowd to diss PTSD veterans, women with breast cancer, and MS patients, you've managed to be the most loathsome person in the room. Congratulations. Now consider talking less.

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But the guy didn't diss PTSD veterans, etc.

a guy who stood up in front of a crowd to diss PTSD veterans, women with breast cancer, and MS patients,

Except he didn't diss those people; he mocked those who were dissing those people.

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Bob, Bob, Bob

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His words at the time, given without context, came off as dissing. Seriously, Bob.

He was the only one standing at the podium. When mentioning people with MS and made spastic movements with his arm. He made disparaging comments about those groups without saying that he was mocking those who diss.

There are plenty of comments regarding this topic that show Mr. Curme failed in his attempt.

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I don't know what's wrong with the world....

I don't think I'm wildly smart, or especially attuned to the nuances of human interaction... but it was blindingly obviously satire to me. I'm just sad and mystified that it wasn't equally obvious to the rest of the world; that the Overton Window has been opened so wide that many of us would take such a performance at face value.

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Still reported as real on WCVB site

Maybe someone at channel 5 should be reading UHub and watching channel 4? WCVB website still has video piece and transcript posted at 11:18 pm, anchored by Maria Stephanos and Ben Simmoneau. The report includes reaction from an NABB rep and others. The reporter states he went to Curme's home but he did not want to comment.

http://www.wcvb.com/article/resident-makes-controversial-comments-during...

And the Olberman tweet has yet to be corrected\clarified.

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don't

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under any circumstances get into this guy's submarine

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Close the books!

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No funnier comment will be made anywhere on the Internet today. Thanks for the belly laugh!

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ugh

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He's still an asshole tho. I get what he was trying to do .. but it wasn't funny, nor was a board meeting a place to do it in. People would take this seriously. Did he think not?

I also wonder if he's just cover his own ass so he doesn't get the cannabis people protesting his house (folks on reddit are NOT happy about his speech)

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Don't think it was meant to be funny

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LOOK we're all talking about a licencing board meeting! So is the rest of the state/nation/world.
Good on this guy.

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Man on the moon

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Andy are you goofing on Elvis?

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Satire?

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Pompous millionaires are satirical,poor people are labeled racist hate mongers.

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All an act

I took it as a complete joke and parody of what a lot of the old Newberry crowd thinks. (Pretty funny, actually.) Go to a Brookline selected ones meeting to see more from people who are actually serious.

That said, not a good venue for this sort of humor.

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... And Also Be A Better Performer

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When using sarcasm, it's important to know the edge where some people will occasionally fall for it, but most people will recognize it for what it is, and understand the message you're trying to express.

This man was so far off the edge, even those us who might immediately suspect sarcasm couldn't be sure. When asked to stop speaking, he should have immediately made clear his sarcasm was intended to point out how ridiculous all the other opponents claims were. By not doing so, he made their ignorant opinions seem reasonable by comparison.

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As someone who was aghast at Mr. Curme's words

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yesterday, I am still aghast. I watched the interview with him this morning. First, he said was trying to be "satirical". A good dictum to go by is if you are trying to communicate your message to a group of people, via what you believe is satire, and the majority of folks do not understand and/or misinterpret and/or have such a visceral reaction to your words, perhaps you should think long and hard before you try satire? Picking/calling out people's foibles is what satire is generally used for (and usually is used to shame and.or teach a lesson to the same. Think John Oliver or Jon Stewart using political satire, for example). And, yes, satire can be appropriate in certain situations. I do not believe that the three groups that he highlighted needed to be taught a lesson and/or shamed.

Mr. Curme gave no indication that he was being satirical at the hearing. He got up, tried to cut in line, and then proceed to say cruel things about folks with PTSD, breast cancer and MS. He did not appear to be in a humorous mood. I would love Mr. Curme to explain to us what the hell he was thinking.

Next, he made an apology, of sorts, this morning, in the way one should not apologize saying ,basically, I am sorry if I offended anyone who did not get that I was being satirical. Cripes.

If he was in support of the dispensary, than he should of just said so at the hearing. If Mr. Curme is that clueless about the use of satire than perhaps this was a lesson for him to talk to someone about the proper uses of said satire before speaking at a public hearing.

From Today's Boston Globe article on the same:

"Ross, a former city councilor who has written opinion pieces for the Globe, said he had “never in my life heard anything so appalling.”

Asked what he thought of Curme’s claim that he was trying to make a point through satire, Ross said, “It’s equally unwelcome.”

“It’s disturbing on all fronts,” he said. “I think that guy has some substantial issues and these comments have no place in our public discourse. He’s trolling and it’s not appreciated.”

Mark Erlich, a zoning board member, called Curme’s comments “completely out of line, inappropriate, and offensive.”

“It has nothing to do with the zoning issues and the use issues we were considering,” he said Wednesday night."

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I would want to have easy

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I would want to have easy access to a dispensary near Back Bay when recreational sales go legal in 6 months.

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Absolutely was an act...

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Perfect satire... absolutely he is a supporter and he made his point perfectly.

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Even if it is Satire/Sarcasm,

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Mr. Curme is an insensitive, boorish idiot. He has to realize (as do lots of other people) that with free speech comes a responsibility. Sometimes, as in this case, it crosses over the line into what is not free speech any longer, if one gets the drift.

Here's hoping that the blow-back against Mr. Curme for his insensitivity is fierce...and intense. He deserves to get into trouble.

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I would not say many, Bob

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I counted a few from yesterday's post. The majority of posters did not apparently understand and many still do not understand his use of satire which is problematic.

Bringing it back to the point at hand. This was a public hearing on a dispensary. His comments had nothing to do with zoning issues being discussed at that time regarding said dispensary.

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The greatest casualty of 2016

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was the death of irony. Trump's in charge. Reality couldn't be a more exaggerated parody of itself. There's nothing you can say that's so outrageous that someone couldn't reasonably look at you and say "Well, that sounds like something Trump or one of his asshole supporters would say with a straight face."

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As someone with brain tumors,

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As someone with brain tumors, who has many friends that have tumors, use wheelchairs, chronic illness, disability, etc. i think this guy is totally hilarious! For real.

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I assumed yesterday that he

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I assumed yesterday that he was trolling--not that he thought what he said was funny, but that he hoped he'd be taken seriously and make the anti-dispensary side look bad by association.

Satire is supposed to be funny. Angrily repeating viewpoints that other people really hold (in this case, including that people can and should "just get over" PTSD and that wheelchair users should stay out of sight) isn't funny, it's mean. Defending one's bigotry or other nastiness with "I was joking" or "I meant it ironically" isn't convincing.

In this case the person who said the hateful things isn't even saying "I'm sorry, I meant that as satire and didn't realize it would hurt people." He's "unavailable for comment" while his wife claims that he didn't really mean it.

I'd be more convinced if the statement was from him and said something like "I'm sorry I hurt and insulted veterans, people with MS, and cancer patients. I stupidly thought that everyone would assume that I meant better than that and must be joking." I'd still have doubts about his judgment and sense of "humor," but an actual apology admitting that did something wrong would be better than a second-hand statement that comes dangerously close to accusing other people of not having a sense of humor because they thought he meant what he said.

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Thank you, Vicki.

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Well said. I agree. I guess if I one wants to give this guy the benefit of the doubt, one could say perhaps he is really that clueless or has some sort of other "issue", mental or otherwise, where he has a difficult time understanding/realizing that his words may be misunderstood?

In any case, like you said, he exercised poor judgement and should really apologize.

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A good rule of thumb:

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if you're punching up with your grandiloquent irony, it's satire. If you're punching down with it, you're an asshole.

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Wasn't he punching up?

if you're punching up with your grandiloquent irony, it's satire. If you're punching down with it, you're an asshole.

And wasn't he, the newcomer to the neighborhood, punching up against the establishment Brahmin crowd?

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New Era

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In the pre-Trump era would most people have thought that nobody would dear speak like that seriously and recognize the speech as satire? Now....????

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Satire and 'Thumbs-Up'

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Satire is about making your point. He made his point pretty well, and got a lot of attention for it. At first (before I got the joke) I was shocked too. Then I realized what was likely going on.

And on a related note, this comment thread reminds me to request a return of the thumbs-up button.

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I have to disagree.

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What point did he make? As an audience member, I would of just seen an angry guy spewing hateful comments. If his point was to poke fun at people who think like his words (even though he does not), that point was not clear to the audience. If his point was to get attention to a problem, that problem was not clear to the audience.

The point that I and others continue to make is that his comments were not funny, his attempt at satire was lost because of the nature of his comments, and because of his poor execution he was rightly criticized for making those comments. He did not make his point.

You can make your point much more clear to an audience if you stick to your point and not attempt to use a method, such as satire and/or humor, to convey your point (as, in this case, it may backfire) unless you know your audience. Also, one should be in the proper venue to make your satirical point. This was not the proper venue.

Mr. Curme came off as sarcastic not satirical.

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No, I disagree (mostly)

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Maybe he needs to take comedy acting classes at The Improv. Or maybe he could have mentioned that he was being sarcastic before he concluded. Given the inflamatory things he said, that probably would have been smart.

But if he just stood up as one more Back Bay neighbor and said, "Medical Mj will be good for people including vets with PTSD and cancer victims. I support the facility", then most people at the meeting would have kept playing on their phones, and we would not be talking about it today.

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Well, ok, we meet in the middle.

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I agree with most of your first paragraph. And he is a very good actor 'cause he convinced most of us that he was a real jerk.

And you are correct. If he had not, we would not be speaking about it today. But what is better. For you to support something that many in your neighborhood may be against (nothing wrong with that) versus trying to do stand up where you end up looking like a tool or a fool and your point is lost?

Ok, so the guy thought he was more clever than in actuality. We all make mistakes.

.

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I got it

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It was Larry David type cringe worthy satire. The part about "ridiculous turbans" was laugh out loud funny.

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Can't tell if you are tying to be funny.*

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So I will just say I like Larry David's humor. You are correct. The genre is cringe comedy. First, Mr. David is practiced at this type of humor. Mr. Curme apparently is not. Second, the issue is that this type of comedy is usually performed on television shows and in films and, at times, during stand up shows not at public hearings.

*You failed.

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I thought Adam was in on it

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It seemed so obviously a put on that I thought it must have been some kind of prank on Adam's part - a November Fools gag or trying his hand at "fake news".

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You overestimate me

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No, I wasn't in on it. I thought the guy was just being a jerk. There are a lot of good, caring people in the Back Bay, but it also has its share of pompous, self important people who don't know quite what to do with all their time (and money) and he put on quite a convincing performance.

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Poe's Law

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"Without a clear indicator of the author's intent, it is impossible to create a parody of extreme views so obviously exaggerated that it cannot be mistaken by some readers or viewers as a sincere expression of the parodied views."

In this case it appears to have been "almost everyone".

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Oh, of course he would of.*

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They cut him off because of his comments and rightly so. Perhaps Mr. Curme should of said from the beginning that he was just being satirical.

After seeing this interview, and now knowing the context, one can view him as poking fun at those that oppose. But, again, he really screwed up.

*Sarcasm

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