A brief note but I have to do this.
Five days ago Alan Irwin Abel passed away. Really.
Now I’m guessing if you live in America most of you know, but in case it slipped past you, or if you live elsewhere in the world where his death does not seem to have received coverage, here are some quick insights to a man who was multi-talented, and who sense of humour will be missed.
In 1959 Abel founded SINA – the Society for Indecent Naked Animals, whose object was to clothe all animals from toy dogs upwards. He published a magazine as its organ of support and gained the attention of Walter Cronkite, who gave it a ten-minute slot on his news programme.
He ‘died’ in 1980 of a heart attack while skiing in Colorado, posted his own obituary in the New York Times, then held a press conference the following day to prove his death was a hoax.
Yetta Bronstein, housewife, was another of his creations. Yetta (a mythical figure, his wife providing her voice) sought election for Presidential office; her platform included national bingo, self-fluoridisation, a suggestion box on the White House fence and Jane Fonda naked on postage stamps, to boost the ailing income of the postal service. Yetta herself never appeared (couldn’t, of course) at rallies, so Abel appeared instead as her campaign manager.
In 1985 he organised a protest at the quality of daytime television by arranging for a ‘mass fainting’ by members of the audience for the Donahue Show.
Among his enterprises could be counted a ‘School for Beggars’ in New York (which claimed to teach down-and-outs ways to improve their ‘income’), and ‘Euthanasia Cruises’ – which sort of speaks for itself. I believe, although I haven’t been successful in tracking back to this one, he also suggested the famine of human body parts for transplant could be resolved by a system in which the recipient paid a rental for a donated organ on a 99-year lease.
I guess Abel’s time has passed, in that anyone can be a hoaxer now. But he didn’t have, for most of his life, access to mass media, so the orchestration of these, and many other pranks must have taken an elaborate sense for detail and considerable organisational skills.
So this was my brief obituary. The world is the worse for the loss of Alan Irwin Abel.