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The Village Idiot: Adventures in Middle Management & Sexual Harassment at The Chicago Symphony Orchestra

So far we have spent most of our time bringing you a look at the major players in the DCM Chicago Symphony Orchestra saga.

We’ve taken a look at the learned nothing, forgotten nothing, aristocrats running the CSO, and the utterly repugnant serial fraudster and jitters and shakes harridan, Jacqueline Berkaw, and her boss, the weasley Phil Miller as well as Paul Papich who thought it was a grand idea to participate in slow-motion industrial scale genocide by volunteering to fight as a Green Beret in Vietnam.

It’s a fantastic crew, especially if you’re looking to break into a political opponent’s headquarters, or rip–off orphans. Or drop napalm on people. Or engage in sexual harassment and serial fraud.

But no review of the shenanigans, malfeasance and mendacity at CSO and DCM would be complete without a look at the wonder that is the man the former employees at DCM’s Chicago call center know as, the Village Idiot.

Middle managers are, in the land of corporate dullness, a special breed. They must exude authority and confidence, while maintaining an air of utter servility and the sense that their presence is as essential as a fish on a bicycle, and as safe as a monkey with a flame-thrower.

They have to know just enough to avoid setting off alarms, while being stupid enough to either not understand what their bosses are doing, or just smart enough to know that they should keep their mouth’s shut when asked what their bosses are doing. These are the types of people without which tyrannical organizations like the FSB, the Stasi, or the local police cannot function. They’re your pal, for a price, and they’ll drop you faster than a crack junkie will drop their pipe at the sound of approaching sirens or a loud voice saying where’s my fucking money.

All of which brings us to the Village Idiot, at Symphony Center, who was hired to assist Berkaw, while she played Ivan the Terrible to the Call Center’s terrified peasants.

Speaking of Berkaw, and displaying exactly the sort of spineless devotion to hypocrisy that is the trademark of the advanced Village Idiot as Middle Manager, he spoke in glowing terms, calling her, a queen bitch.

Luckily, he said, I’m used to bitches being in charge.

He went on at some length to one person who told another who told another (and so on as these things spread like the flu), describing a string of such creatures that he had served over the years. He described escapades in Spain involving the usual tourist bacchanales of Moroccan hash, and Russian girls who spoke little English, less Spanish and had large old men as chaperones who they said were their uncles. Mind you The Ink is not necessarily against bacchanals but context matters.

Sadly, it was a warning sign of what was to come.

The Village Idiot is in his early sixties and as do a great many older men, he has, as they say, a thing, for younger women. It’s not hard to see or understand – youth and its energy that ability to withstand the rigors of a hangover powerful enough to drop a bull elephant fade and there’s not enough zip pills to keep him going all night so he resorts to cheap substitutes like booze for her, and if necessary the Cosby cure for resistance. Not to say that this particular Village Idiot did that or was planning to do it but he’s a type and his tool box is as shallow and greasy as you’d expect.

Of course the difference between a cad and a grown-up is that a grown-up may fancy a young lady, but won’t make her feel uncomfortable about it. It’s called restraint, and maturity, and has to do with respect – for yourself and the other person. And realizing that the other person is autonomous and therefore a person in their own right is key.

But the typical Village Idiot is missing that sequence in their brain and while that is part of what makes them perfect for following abusive orders and arbitrary decisions from petty tyrants like Berkaw, it also is what makes them rat-fucking pigs.

So imagine if you will, a small office, cramped, and windowless, that is usually too hot or too cold, full of the semi-retired and the desperate, struggling to survive on $10 fucking dollars an hour, non-existent commissions or commissions handed out to managerial favorites, while commandant Berkaw, she-wolf of the DCM/CSO, doing her best Nurse Ratched, flings herself from one fit to another, while displaying her latest overpriced, garish costume (which costs more than the callers make in a month and for which it seems likely she not only did not pay but used stolen credit cards to acquire them) and there is the stammering, stuttering, doughy-faced, paunchy, often seemingly drunk, Village Idiot, staring at the young women on the phones, with all the subtlety of a jackal in heat.

Two young women in particular caught his attention. Both professional and polite, and well-liked by the rest of the staff and both subject to unwanted attention.

For example, the Village Idiot asked one of them to dinner – with him, and his girlfriend. And Berkaw. Yeah, that’s right you can imagine a type of man who thinks it’s all cool – the mid 60s porcine soul fantasizing about pimping a sweet young thing into an oily round of badly lit Caligula inspired circus acts; some Village Idiot middle manager and three women in the all night neon-lit jiz factory of his imagination or maybe he was working an angle for his boss – get her what she wants while he watches.

Because, what could possibly be awkward and inappropriate about that? And we want to be clear about this: The assistant Manager of the Call Center is observed leering at a young woman. He’s observed leaning in close to her, putting his hands as close as he can without giving her  reason to say please don’t touch me. He’s observed complimenting her and observed providing her with workable leads and then asks her out to dinner…with him, his girlfriend and his boss.

Or, let’s consider when he bought one of the young women a glass of wine prior to a performance of the CSO. Followed by a bottle of wine as a gift, when she got the apartment she had been waiting for, after moving to Chicago? And that invitation to dinner? All delivered with the suggestion that these gestures were just the prelude to something better. And all of that accompanied by the invasions of one’s space – the attempts at casually leaning just close enough to the young woman to make her feel tense but just far enough away to maintain plausible deniability. And the staff saw it. Three of them in fact were willing to go on the record with lawyers or the press detailing the leering, the touching, the innuendo and suggestions all directed at the young women and all of it in the context of an understanding: give me what I want and you’ll get a reward. Have drinks with me or with me and my crew and you’ll get better leads and more money and better treatment. And if you don’t…there will be consequences. And that’s crucial – the implied threats of retaliation which were delivered to any member of the call center who dared question the arbitrary application of rules or the favoritism or the bogus data which was built on ignoring dead patrons, and patrons who were begging to be placed on the do not call list.

Or consider when Berkaw, displaying the maturity of a professional harpy, or a past-her-prime second tier adult film extra, responded to the young caller’s flashing red hair by going to a salon and getting her hair dyed a bottle-rocket red that had all the nuance of an explosion at a meat-packing factory and the Village Idiot, when told by Berkaw that the dye-job was complete, put down the phone and said to the young woman: well, you’re not the only redhead in the office anymore – his voice as hard as as your imagination would expect.

It sounds petty tending towards the irrelevant but that’s just it – it sounds small but it’s a pebble dropped into a pool and the ripples spread far and wide.

And that is part of the key to sexual harassment – it is at once vague, full of mist and misdirection and yet paradoxically it is as subtle as an elephant in a teacup. Unable to distinguish between the socially acceptable and the sewer the abuser lurches spasmodically from sweaty impulse to confusion because of their stupidity and lack of restraint. And yet, all of it is full of the suggestion of sadistic menace, of implied threats and pain.

The Village Idiot of course has actual responsibilities beyond lavishing his master’s fragile ego with yes boss and no boss bowing and scraping. In the case of the Symphony Center version he must also pass out call lists and funnel them through the system so they appear on screens for callers to use. And this is crucial: The quid pro quo. The leads came fast and they were good and the praise and the offer of more followed quickly.

At first of course the young women were given excellent leads. And the Village Idiot was all smiles and attempts at charm.

But, the young women being intelligent and not interested in middle aged pigs, stuck to being professional which, as you might expect, enraged the Village Idiot. They were not interested in a date or dinner or a drink however casually the offer was made.

To make matters worse the young women were friendly with their co-workers, some of whom were men.

So the leads dried up and went to other people.

Thus followed the Village Idiot pitching a fit and ordering the young women to sit in the corner or on the other side of the room or with the gaggle of old hens or anywhere so long as it was not next to or near any of the young(er) seemingly, single men in the office.

And after that there were the episodes of his screaming at the staff for talking to each other. Screaming that they were children and he was sick of them. And we mean exactly that – fits, screaming episodes of violent verbal assaults full of demeaning language. In other words acting as if he was about to go postal and even if he didn’t then acting like a petty thug.

And for one of the young women it got increasingly worse. The leads became sterile. And then dried up completely until the Village Idiot announced that she was being let go.

Because, when your ego is as fragile as a Ming vase, the last thing you can stomach is the paranoid fear that everyone is laughing at you, let alone the reality of knowing that, like some caricature of a junior high school gym teacher or the assistant manager at a 7-11, you are in fact being laughed at. And being ridiculed. And that you are despised for being a spineless goon engaged in a blatant and sleazy campaign of sexual harassment that should enrage the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and anyone with a conscience.

But, when brought to the attention of the CSO, the response was: Not our problem, go talk to DCM.

Who hired convicted serial fraudster Berkaw and her homunculus, the Village Idiot. And clearly has a sense of ethics purchased second-hand from a crack-dealer with a third-rate porn fetish.

Because, the people running the Chicago Symphony Orchestra have so far displayed all the moral courage of people happy to see the trains are running on time and having absolutely no concern for the fact that their neighbors vanished in the middle of the night while the thud of heavy boots rattle in the hallways.

More champagne my dear? I hear tonight’s performance is going to be simply divine.

Sexual harassment is foul. Sexual harassment that is institutionalized and ignored, is a slow-motion lynching. It is poison and it is a type of bigotry that reduces people to slaves. It opens the door to race-baiting, and violence because it creates a hierarchy of fear and desperation. It creates an atmosphere that is open season on everyone – don’t like Muslims? Don’t like Black people? Don’t like Jews or homosexuals? Don’t like women, who won’t give you what you want? Well step lively, you’ve come to the right place.

And no doubt the CSO would be outraged at the accusation of bigotry but what are we supposed to say when they have made it clear they are fabricating data to con their sponsors and they’re not interested in evidence presented by a lawyer detailing the crimes committed by one of their vendors?

The Village Idiot can be excused up to the point where his rank stupidity becomes toxic and a danger to everyone else. And that is the other aspect of the crime – bad enough to verbally assault someone because they won’t give you their body but it makes everyone else complicit or forces them to protest which, in our economic gulag will cost you your job. It is a kind of blackmail and extortion and the aristocratic indifference of the CSO is the sort of sleazy corporate hate that gives America the reputation and status it enjoys around the world. Let this go unpunished and – Grab them by the pussy – could be sand-blasted onto the statue of liberty and who is going to stop it?

But more than that, what can’t be excused is the hypocrisy of an elite institution claiming to be dedicated to the preservation of a world culture and the crown jewels of a branch of the epic story we call civilization while ignoring the three-alarm fire spewing smoke. And ignoring the fact that it is, in effect selling the gasoline and matches.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and its enabler, DCM, have covered themselves in the foul green dust of money and the Symphony’s legacy has been tarnished.

Greed, stupidity, a sadistic dedication to profit above conscience, and a refusal to do the right thing, leave a sour taste in your mouth.

But, fear not, the CSO can always order more champagne and spunk, mix them together and sell them as a mouthwash, while asking you for your credit card.

And no doubt if all of this comes to light just watch as the CSO does a public mea culpa staged with slick efficiency and all the sincerity money can buy, then claims that, poor befuddled richy-riches that they are, they were taken advantage of by the evil toughs of DCM.

As to the Village Idiot.

The Ink is pleased to report that sources confirm he has been subject to a series of hours’ long calls from weasel-in-chief Phil Miller, and when Miller arrived in Chicago for emergency meetings in response to the AG’s questions, it was the Village Idiot who had to scramble to find answers.*

It is likely the Village Idiot will lose his job and he is also a likely candidate for being sacrificed by Miller who will be eye-balling a plea like a whore eye-balling a passed-out Jon’s wallet. That would please the CSO as well as it would allow them to say – the matter is closed and the guilty have been punished.

We now continue our wait, to see if something approximating genuine justice prevails and these bastards get what they deserve.

Updates Soon.

Update: 10/10/17

The Ink is aware that managers at the CSO, lawyers at the Illinois Attorney General’s Office for Charitable Trusts and multiple media organizations have been informed of the charges of sexual harassment against a DCM manager. We are aware that despite months of investigating an/or ignoring the evidence nothing has been done about it. Keep that in mind when you consider the following:

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/oct/10/harvey-weinstein-allegations-mount-as-three-women-accuse-him-of

*We must correct our previous description. The Village Idiot continues in his position. He continues to be verbally abusive, continues to pitch temper-tantrums and DCM continues to employ him and serial fraudster Berkaw who – continues to speak regularly with her replacement ensuring that DCM has maintained her access to thousands of credit cards both in houston and Chicago and we assume nation-wide.

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One comment on “The Village Idiot: Adventures in Middle Management & Sexual Harassment at The Chicago Symphony Orchestra

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