Rock Star Gary Benchley’s True Identity Revealed!

What doesn't kill Gary Benchley only makes him rock harder!We’ve all been following the story on The Morning News for months. But now Glorious Noise has made a startling discovery about the real-life true story behind Gary Benchley, Rock Star….

Glorious Noise has discovered that the popular serialized story, “Gary Benchley, Rock Star” on The Morning News is to be published as a novel by Plume Books. According to Amazon the 256-page paperback will be available on September 27, 2005 with a list price of $14. And in case anybody was still unsure, it’s listed under the category of “Fiction – General,” not “Biographies & Memoirs.” The author, after all, is not Gary Benchley, the 23-year-old immigrant to New York, but rather…Paul Ford.

So who is this Paul Ford, and what is he doing writing a book about our hero, Gary Benchley?

Well, a little Googling turned up a few clues. There is a Paul Ford who frequently contributed to The Morning News, where the Benchley serial has been running. His bio blurb on The Morning News tells us he “lives in Brooklyn” and that he “writes Ftrain.” From this evidence, I think it’s safe to assume that this is indeed the Paul Ford we’re looking for.

If you’re still not convinced—and hey, we all wanted to believe that Benchley was real—we see that Ftrain describes itself as “the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms.” While never specifically mentioned on Ftrain, I think we’re all familiar with one of those pseudonyms. Right?

So what does this all mean? Does this make the Benchley story any less compelling? Maybe a little. We were all rooting for this kid from Albany. But come on. If you hadn’t figured out that it was just a story by the time Schizopolis got signed to their label, you’re kind of slow. Sorry, but you are.

This whole deal sounds a little familiar, doesn’t it? Of course it does. It’s a standard literary device to trick the reader into believing that a story is true. It was used most recently in a similar, serialized online format in The Daily Adventures of Mixerman. Remember those? We all wanted to believe that Bitchslap was a real band. Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita also pretends to be the uncovered secret diaries of Humbert Humbert. So this is nothing new.

But will knowing this affect how much you enjoy the Benchley story? If the quality of a work of fiction is contingent on the reader believing it to be a true story, then it’s not a very solid work of fiction. I’ve still been enjoying the Benchley stuff even after I realized it was made up, and I’m looking forward to finding out what happens to the characters. But it’s a lot easier for most people to care about real people than it is to care about fictional characters. So maybe I don’t care quite as much as I did at the beginning when it was possible to still believe. I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see…

In the meanwhile, if you’re interested in finding out more about Paul Ford, you should explore Ftrain, which is full of interesting articles and biographical information and cool links. If you want to hear Gary Benchley’s voice—well, you know what I mean—you can stream some audio of pieces Ford made for NPR like this one he did on Bit Torrent files. There’s also an interview in Gothamist that covers a lot of what he’s up to.

And for the record, I did attempt to contact Paul Ford regarding this issue. He would neither confirm nor deny whether he is in fact Gary Benchley, rock star.

16 thoughts on “Rock Star Gary Benchley’s True Identity Revealed!”

  1. Bitchslap would be an awesome band name. I call shotgun, yo.

    Seriously, fiction vs. non-fiction. It doesn’t matter to me. It’s entertaining either way.

  2. Geez. I go away for a couple of weeks and all hell breaks loose! (note: I still think he should dump Para)

  3. This is worse than the first time I saw a picture of Frank Black. He looked just like my dad.

    Sure, Benchley’s story is still good. But a part of my soul died this day, and I want you to know that, Jake.

  4. The dream died for me a few ‘chapters’ ago. Actually, I got tipped off when they named an indy prog band ‘Schizopolis’. I don’t think so.

    Plus, the guy wrote way too good for a dopey kid from Albany.

  5. Gotta go with Shecky on that one. It was ridiculously well written.

    It doesn’t seem as funny as it did at the start and it also became quite unrealistic the way they got signed so easily.

    I’m still going to continue reading it though.

  6. Quoth Derek: “This is worse than the first time I saw a picture of Frank Black. He looked just like my dad.”

    Yeah, see, I had the opposite reaction on seeing a picture of Husker Du. “All that amazing racket was made by three dudes who looked as square as I did? There is hope in the world.”

  7. I think it would have been more realistic (and funny) if Benchley’s first few bands were busts. The real humor is in Benchley’s frantic attempts to become a rock star, not in his succeeding. IMO.

  8. I’m mildly bummed to hear this. But only mildly. I still enjoy reading his “letters”, even though we seemingly now know the truth.

    And is quite the interesting site, I must say.

  9. Let’s postulate that we enjoyed the letters of G. Benchley, Rock Star because we projected our own rock star aspirations onto his story.

    For awhile, his reality was our fiction. Now, it has been revealed that in truth his fiction is our fiction. That subtle shift doesn’t affect how much I enjoy the writing and the stories, since I was reading them through my ‘fiction filter’ anyway.

    That said, my own rock star aspirations live out vicariously not through Gary Benchley, but Malcolm Young. He gets to strap on a SG, plug into a massive Marshall stack, and play the crunchiest riffs known to mankind for a living. Yet he is virtually free from the burden of being in the spotlight all the time. If there’s a rock star “take a kid to work” day, I hope Malcolm picks me.

  10. Ive gotta say it seemed pretty obvious Benchley and his life didnt really exist. Theres no way he could have been writing all those things about his friends, and especially his girlfriend, with no consequences. Its highly doubtful that his gig journaling his life never affected his actual life. Finally, his chronicles of the music business were just unrealistic. From his description, his band clearly sucked too much, or at least was too inexperienced, to get a recording contract. And everything moved too fast once he did. All of these things destroyed my suspension of disbelief, and I was ready and willing to believe. That said, I thought the writing was excellent before he moved to every two weeks. Clearly Ford is a good writer if he takes the time.

  11. Yeah, the whole thing seemed fake to me as well. Interesting read though after 2 editions or so I realize too many things were falling place for him for it to feel credible. It started to feel like a VH1 Behind The Music to me.

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