An Open Letter To Mr. Luther Blissett
(first-team assistant-coach at Watford FC, England)
Dear Watford FC webmasters, 'zine editors and supporters,
I am one of the numberless people who adopted "Luther Blissett" as a multi-use name for radical actions and theory, multimedia works, anti-art performances and open political contexts in Italy and other countries of continental Europe. Since the mid-Nineties, the British press gave extremely distorted accounts of our activities, describing us as 'Anarchists' (which we aren't) and manipulating our statements. The British press made us look like moronic students, while we're people who work bloody hard and managed to be praised/feared by the cultural institutions of our country. Maybe this distortion is the reason why Mr. Blissett sounds very pissed-off in his latest declarations (see The Times, 8/3/1999, p.3). He (and you) may not share our political and aesthetic views, however we'd like to set the records straight once and for all: It was never our intention to sneer at Mr. Blissett's unlucky season in Italy. We always thought that the press and the supporters treated him unfairly since the beginnings: in the early Eighties it took a plenty of time for a British player to understand the Italian way of playing football, which was boringly defensive. He was never allowed to get used to Italy. Moreover, the club was a dreadful rabble of weirdos, and the owner Giuseppe Farina was a crook and an alleged arms dealer, who went bankrupt a few years later. We hope that someone will pass this letter on to Luther, and post it on the Watford Mailing List. We'd like to get a surface mail address for Luther, so that we can send him our books, publications and a lot of press cuttings covering both us and him. The following piece is a colourful article published on today's *Tuttosport* (one of the three sports' daily papers), where both one Luther Blissett and the journalist argued that it's time to re-establish Mr. Blissett's good name. Thank you very much,
Fabrizio P. Belletati a.k.a. Luther Blissett
Tuttosport, March 14th, 1999, Sunday:
BLISSETT, FROM RABBIT TO BEST-SELLING WRITER
by Gianluca Scaduto
Do you remember the English at Milan AC? They were so unlucky that they preceded the Dutch trio [Gullit-Van Basten-Rijkaard, t.n.]. Hateley retired from football two years ago. Wilkins is about to strike the big one: he entered the staff at Chelsea and there is a rumour that he's going to replace Rix (Vialli's vice, who got mixed up in a court trial under charges of abuse and paedophilia) when the latter is fired. As to Luther Blissett, he was one of the most unpopular foreign players in the history of Italian football. Since those years, however, we've seen much worse players, perhaps it is time to rehabilitate Blissett's Italian season (1983-84, 30 matches, 4 goals). [Actually 5 goals T.n.] In fact, somebody's trying to re-establish Blissett's good name. After only a few days since its publication, *Q* already needs to be reprinted. *Q* is an adventure set in the 16th Century, a 643-pages long ponderous novel, authored by people who had the nerve to recall the Church's skeletons in the closet, a few months before the 2000 Jubilee. The author is Blissett, indeed, the real Blissett has nothing to do with this: he's back at Watford FC, his former team, and works as a first-team deputy coach.
However, his name was adopted by dozens of people all over Italy and Europe, to create the most various situations. Some Luther Blissetts are the bogeymen of journalism: they invent fake news and journalists usually buy them. Their best strike was the story of Henry Kapper [actually "Harry Kipper", t.n.], a "multimedia guru" who was travelling around Europe on a push-bike, his route virtually spelling the word "art" on the map. He allegedly disappeared in Trieste, soon before diving into Bosnya. Daily papers and press-agencies gave the alarm, "Chi l'ha visto?" ['Has Anybody Seen Him?', a missing persons' prime-time TV show, t.n.] covered the case.
Two hours before the broadcast Luther exposed the hoax: the guru didn't exist. This demonstrated that so-called "sources" may be utter bullshit.
However, Blissett's name is also used for political activism and three-sided football games played on hexagonal pitches ("good old Trapattoni" games: the winner must concede less instead of scoring more goals). Strange blokes, aren't they? And now they've got a face, nay, four faces. *Q* is not a common book, it is a masterpiece, and some people believed that Umberto Eco was the real author behind the collective name (which anyone is free to adopt). Thus the four authors came out (though they took to the bush again, and swear they'd never be guests at Maurizio Costanzo Show). The book may even make history: there's no precedent for a novel written by four persons, with an anti-copyright clause. No, they don't believe in 'the romantic concept of genius. Ideas aren't anyone's property', as stated by one of them. Anyhow, why did they choose Blissett's name to sign their works? 'A footballer's name would be an excellent Trojan horse for our actions. We chose Blissett because we wanted to rehabilitate him. He wasn't that bad: the year before coming to Italy he'd been top goal-scorer in the English league. It was the team that sucked: in fact, president Farina went bankrupt not much time later.
Moreover, we appreciated Blissett's Jamaican roots: racists on the terraces used to welcome him by crying like monkeys'. And what is Luther Blissett's opinion? 'A few days ago The Times wrote about *Q* and asked him: are you glad you've become a literary mystery? He answered: "I'm not pleased, but what can you do?"'
F.P. Belletati, Bologna, Italy