John McAfee’s escapade: Performance art, telenovela or the big screen?


Since anti-virus software pioneer John McAfee went into hiding last month after he was sought for questioning in connection with the death of his neighbor in Belize, his life has read like a soap opera. Afraid that the Belize authorities would kill him if he were taken into custody, McAfee blogged and tweeted prolifically while on the lam. But his communications ended abruptly last week.

On Friday, McAfee met with CNN reporter Martin Savidge for a video-taped interview, but only after Savidge was driven through a maze of "winding, twisting streets ... switchbacks, u-turns and back alleys" before arriving at McAfee's safe house in the tropics.

The next day, Saturday, a post on McAfee's blog (which he launched shortly after going into hiding) suggested that he had been captured. Under the headline "Breaking: John Captured?" bloggers wrote that they had "received an unconfirmed report that John McAfee has been captured at the border of Belize and Mexico."

But before you could say public key encryption, the news of the capture was challenged. Peter Delevett at the San Jose Mercury News reported late Saturday night that the mayor in the town (San Pedro) where McAfee lived assured him that the software maven was still at large.

What's more, members of the local police and media insisted he had not been caught, according to Delevett: "Also debunking the Paul is dead John is captured reports is Jorge Aldana, a senior reporter at the San Pedro Sun newspaper who's been covering the case ... `I can tell you positively that John McAfee has not been captured,' Aldana said Saturday night."

The blogosphere on Sunday seemed to side largely with the folks in San Pedro who believed McAfee was still on the run. As Network World's Paul McNamara put it: "This could well be the latest episode in what seems to have been McAfee's on-the-lam performance art."

Not to denigrate performance art in any way, but McAfee's caper can aim higher. Xeni Jardin at BoingBoing is already busy collecting ideas for who should play the protagonist in the inevitable movie. As Jardin's followers make clear, there is no shortage of excellent actors who can ace the role of a wealthy, self-promoting, 67-year-old eccentric. Possibilities include Nick Nolte, Steve Buscemi, Christopher Walken, John Malkovich, Willem DeFoe and Tommy Lee Jones. My favorite, though, is Charlie Sheen, because, as the commenter who suggested him put it, Sheen "lives the character and wouldn't have to do any heavy lifting." - Caron

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