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Our Michael Jackson Spoof Is Outed, Plus Connecting the Dots Between Shawna Forde and Her Ideological Confederates

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Originally, I wanted the pseudonym to be Jack McGee, the tabloid reporter who pursues Dr. David Banner in The Incredible Hulk. I always loved the line that Bill Bixby delivered as Banner in the show's intro: "Mr. McGee, don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."

But Jack McGee probably would've been a bit too obvious. At least one commenter picked up on Rossi's name, though he was mistaken in one respect. He assumed that I modeled Reinalda de Souza's name on real-life Brazilian soccer player Reinaldo De Souza.

Actually, that's just a coincidence. I consulted lists of Brazilian first and last names and put together one I liked. I don't know anything about soccer. Much less Brazilian soccer.

So, of course, Dr. De Souza doesn't exist any more than does her Rottweiler puppy. She was played to great effect by New Times security guard Natalia Perkins in the story's photos. I actually wrote the spoof with Natalia in mind, as I've always thought she (though a nice lady) had a sorceress-like look.

But back to the puppy, which De Souza was said to have offed as part of a ceremony meant to kill Jackson because he had reneged on a promise to give her the bones of Elephant Man Joseph Merrick as a fee for her services . . . Though several commenters spotted the satirical flourishes in the piece and outed the joke online, animal lovers are apparently some of the dimmest bulbs on the planet.

Elizabeth from Scottsdale noted, "She killed a puppy, so I hope that something is done about it, because it is animal cruelty to kill a 4½-month-old puppy."

Commenter Sveeb offered, "She might not go to jail for killing MJ, but animal cruelty is still illegal in Yavapai County."

Mesa's George Watson said, "This article states that this woman, Reinalda de Souza, killed a puppy that she adopted from the pound . . . This is animal cruelty, and satire or not, this needs reported to Animal Control and investigated.

To which SundevilRick101 noted, and I couldn't have said it better myself, "To George Watson: Really? Are you a full-on moron or just a partial one?"

I've gotta wonder whether Watson was one of the people who called the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office to demand an investigation. See, I set Joe Rossi up with a local phone number so he could receive calls. And calls he did receive! Everything from an anonymous death threat and a wacky guy ranting on about "the Jews" to people screaming obscenities because Jackson was a "great entertainer" and somebody who got the humor in the piece and laughed along with it.

A few days after the spoof ran, Rossi received a call from a Sergeant Scott Potts with the animal-control unit of the YCSO. Potts left a message that his office had received complaints based on Rossi's feature, and that "there was some interest in the end of the article where she supposedly sacrificed a puppy." Potts was looking to get in touch with De Souza, you see.

A day or so passed, and another, more insistent call came, this time from an unnamed lieutenant with the YCSO, demanding that Rossi call him back because, "We're conducting an investigation that you are a witness in."

As there was no Rossi to call the YCSO back, New Times attorney Steve Suskin phoned the good deputies and informed them that the whole thing was a put-on. They seemed disappointed, but they informed our counselor that as a result of the complaints, De Souza had been placed on a list of people not allowed to adopt pets from the local animal shelter.

Sure, though it gives me great pleasure knowing I ticked off a bunch of PETA types out there, much in the same way I did with the May 2006 spoof "Xtreme Cuisine", which had fictional eccentric chef Kaz Yamamoto cooking up "tenderloin of Bichon Frisé." But I had hoped to reel in some members of the Fourth Estate, kinda like I did with the March 2007 spoof "Tohono O'odham with Love", which exposed the late Anna Nicole Smith's half-Indian love child, Marshall Soto. Or like with the October 2004 spoof "Forever Yours", which posited a creepy human-taxidermy company doing business in Phoenix.

Still, I count having sparked an official Yavapai County sheriff's investigation as a success, and it was certainly a bunch of fun to write. For the record, no animals were harmed in the making of the spoof. And De Souza, since nonexistent, had zero clients — certainly no Amar'e Stoudemire, whom De Souza was treating for his detached retina in the yarn, and certainly no Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whom De Souza had supposedly advised to do sudoku puzzles and load up on the gingko biloba for his dementia.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons