Filed under: Hyperbole | Tags: Bonnie and Clyde, Edward Anderton, Jocelyn Kirsch, Philadelphia, white collar crime
“If they had more they would need less.
A proposal from the squinting logician.
Seems we are legal, seems we are ill.
Ponderous purpose, are you weather, are you wheel?”
–Karen Volkman, from Spar
For the longest time, the only thoughts in my head regarding Philadelphia’s notorious “Bonnie and Clyde” identity-theft lovebirds Jocelyn Kirsch and Edward Anderton were “Man, I bet she works hard on those eyebrows,” and upon a slightly closer inspection of photos of the pair, “that dude just got taken for the ride of his fucking life.” A few weeks ago, though, Kirsch plead guilty to charges of, among other things, conspiracy, access-device fraud, aggravated identity theft, bank fraud, and money laundering. She’s due to spend two years in jail, beginning in October. Anderton faces up to five years for the same charges beginning in September. Somehow, I knew Kirsch would get off with the lighter sentence. The whole thing had this familiar aftertaste, as though we’d all heard this story a hundred times already. And I wondered, as I always do when knee-deep in the details of someone else’s crimes, if I would have done the same thing if I thought I could get away with it.
If you haven’t been keeping up with your Philadelphia glamour-crimes, Jocelyn Kirsch is a 22 year-old Drexel student who is now the subject of a Facebook group called Jocelyn Kirsch is Scandalous that one gets the feeling she would have deserved even if she were not facing hard time. She’s the daughter of a North Carolinian plastic surgery, which would explain the fake boobs. While not actually of Lithuanian heritage, that was how she always explained the unlikely violet color of her eyes (they were contact lenses). Neither did she actually qualify for the 2004 Olympic pole vaulting championships or ever prove herself to be a fluent speaker of Afrikaans, two of Kirsch’s frequent claims. We do know that she was in a sorority. And she definitely performed in a university production of “The Vagina Monologues.” Then there’s that whole thing about how she was instrumental in scamming over $116,000 from various friends, colleagues, neighbors, and complete strangers for what, at first glance, seems to be absolutely no explicable motive. We know a lot about that, because without it, there would be no excuse to ooh and ahh over one of the general populace’s most beloved archetypes of all times: the histrionic sexpot with a penchant for doing Bad Things.
Edward Anderton, a 25 year-old University of Pennsylvania grad, seems almost an afterthought in the wake of Kirsch’s pneumatic tabloid appeal. He consistently told one lie, which was that he made double the $65K salary he actually made working for a financial analysis firm. Oh, and he also told his employers that he was out sick when he was really escorting Kirsch on fabulous international vacations long enough to give him a nice tan, which eventually got him fired, and of course he lied about that, too. But other than that, he seems pretty normal: supportive parents still married and playing board games together out in Washington State, a mixed review on whether or not he was a “dick” from his fraternity brothers, perfectly average John Doe looks, and the standard inferiority complex that most Penn kids walk away from their education with if they were not born on third base and primed to hit a triple. One gets the feeling that Anderton could have been almost anyone. Which is, I suppose, reason enough for a love-soaked crime spree.
And it really was love-soaked, the entire year of it, if you can believe all the Facebook pictures Kirsch and Anderton took of themselves enjoying the high life: a $3,000 a month apartment in Rittenhouse Square, luxurious vacations to Paris, London, and Hawaii, nice clothes, big nights out at the hookah bar, and of course, the $2500 Giovanni and Pileggi hair extensions that eventually sunk the whole ship.
To be fair, the hair extensions didn’t cost that much. The $2500 Giovanni and Pileggi is suing the pair for includes gratuity, interest, late fees, and lawyer’s fees. Kirsch paid for her seven and a half hour-long appointment with a fake credit card and two bounced checks, one of which included a $250 tip to stylist Jen Bisicchia. After placing a few calls to Kirsch wondering where her money was, Bisicchia received a text that said: “HELLO JEN BISICCHIA. YOU DON’T KNOW MY NAME. BUT I KNOW YOURS. I ALSO KNOW UR NICE PLACE ON … ST AND HOW U GET HOME AT NIGHT. YOURE THE ONE WHO SHOULD BE WORRIED ABOUT VISITORS AT UR DOOR. YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU’VE GOTTEN URSELF INTO. YOU SEEM LIKE A SMART GIRL. WALK AWAY NOW OR YOU WILL REGRET IT.” Anderton and Kirsch didn’t get a chance to go on the vacation to Morocco that they’d planned for later in the week because they were arrested later that day. It had been coming before the hair extension debacle. They hadn’t been particularly sneaky about scamming their friends and neighbors. For whatever reason, they had not looked far enough into the future to realize that when you steal from people you already know, the chances are fairly high that one of them will not only notice, but be able to figure out exactly who did it.
Both Anderton and Kirsch’s parents were right there to bail them out. Anderton returned to his parents’ cozy board games in Washington state. Kirsch moved in with her mother, who had moved to Napa Valley, California, after getting a divorce from her father back when Kirsch was in high school. Kirsch settled in and got a job as a barista at Starbucks. Kirsch had always loved drinking Starbucks, why the hell not? But after awhile, with Anderton more or less willingly rotting back in his old bedroom, Kirsch got itchy. She just did a little here and there, a little trip to Target with a Starbucks co-worker’s credit card, that fake 9-1-1 call, the $2,000 bicycle that she just kinda… rode off on. Eventually, she got caught. Turned herself in. Was brought back to Philly and placed under house arrest. All accounts state that she looked cute at the hearing.
Much has been made, both locally and nationally, of the pair’s outrageous sense of entitlement. But the thought that two bright, attractive, ambitious young adults who were fully capable of holding down decent jobs would shit all over it in exchange for one measly year of living in rap video excess doesn’t really shout entitlement to me. People who feel entitled to things ask for them and expect to get them. They don’t section off an entire room of their apartment for things like out of state IDs soaking in bleach baths and several different computers and article clippings about fraud when they know damn well that they are at best white collar crime amateurs. They don’t victimize the people next door or their best friend or the hair extension stylist or girl who left her purse at the bar by mistake. They don’t go out and actually work for it. If Anderton and Kirsch had truly felt entitled, they would simply have sat back and waited for the rest of their promising lives to unfold. I don’t think they felt entitled to more than this. I think they needed it.
What we don’t want to understand about this is why Anderton and Kirsch would have needed more, when in their places, many of us would not have. They’re just kids. Rich kids, even. What the hell were they even worried about?
But for their own private reasons, Kirsch and Anderton were desperate people, or at least they thought that they were. Super-intense relationships are a law unto themselves. Kirsch seems to be a girl who exists quite naturally at the center of her own personal black hole, vital and happy only when she can suck it out of as many other people as possible. We all know a Kirsch or two, and we are also familiar with the Andertons of the world, the ones whose considerable resources require a certain tapping. And I mean, yeah, welcome to co-dependent heaven. Under different circumstances, the two might have contented themselves with playing Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? well into old age. But maybe that’s exactly what they were running from: that tedious shit everyone else has to relate to. You know, worrying about money. Fighting about money. Missing out on things because you don’t have enough money. Watching the lack of money erode that which is most precious to you. Anderton and Kirsch’s utter kamikaze unwillingness to be like pretty much everyone else is also the point where their crimes start to sound plausible.
But hey, Anderton and Kirsch, fuck you too! By now, you’re probably starting to become very familiar with the needs of everyone else. Namely, the need to watch people who refuse to play by the rules of life get smacked down. It validates the choices made by the rest of us to abide more or less by the law, hold down our jobs, eat our meat before our pudding, fight with partners about money, resign ourselves to living out our own desperation quietly, blah blah blah, stroke stroke stroke. But more importantly, it reminds us that this has always been not only an autonomous choice, but one to be more or less happy about. It’s what allows us to now rifle through all of those sexy vacation photos and judge your eyebrows while munching on popcorn and realizing that life is pretty good.
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