Robert Neuwirth: Show v. Tell

Yüksel Arslan, Arture, 212, D Effects 56 (Islamic Arts). Source:

capitalism is an extremely contagious virus

communicable by primitive accumulation.

Its chief symptom is the belief that every problem –

including infection with the virus itself – is

curable by the profit motive.

—The Book of Derivatives®


the future is

the exploitation of the

net present value

of the past

—The Book of Derivatives®


This legal notice filled the latest issue of The Loiterdale Loss-Leader, a free, limited-circulation South Florida newspaper, in its entirety:

Know ye all men by these presents, that the following brief has been filed in United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida —

Reply brief

Motion to dismiss

Cross motion

Order to Show Cause


Request for summary judgment


*Four (4) Special Notes of Historical Interest*

Guillermo Telles, aka Guillermo Tell, aka Bill Tell, aka Wild Billy Tell (hereinafter TELL), a naturalized citizen of the United States born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and currently living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, representing himself pro se, does aver and assert:


  1. Upon Information and belief, defendant TELL is the last living direct descendant of one Wilhelm Tell, aka Guillaume Tell, aka Guglielmo Tell, aka Guglielm Tell, commonly known in English as William Tell, a native of the Swiss canton of Uri who, in 1307, refused to bow to a foreign warlord and, as a result of this transgression, was challenged to shoot an apple off his son’s head with an arrow from his crossbow. This action, known as the Apfelschuss, entered Swiss folk history as the catalyst of the unification of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden and the creation of the modern Swiss Confederation.
  2. Upon information and belief, plaintiff Alana Show (hereinafter SHOW), a United States citizen born in New Jersey and currently living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is the managing partner of Crossbow Show L.P., a limited partnership created under Florida law whose activities involve producing and promoting a stage show and television series based on the legend of the said Wilhelm Tell and the Apfelschuss.


  1. Upon information and belief, the story of said Wilhelm Tell was first related in The White Book Of Sarnen, compiled in 1470 by Hans Schriber and, at approximately the same time, in the Telleslied, a popular song of the era.
  2. Upon information and belief, the most authoritative account of the life of said Wilhelm Tell is the Chronicum Helveticum by Aegidius Tschudi, from 1570, an original copy of which can be found in the Zentralbibliothek Zurich.
  3. Upon information and belief, defendant TELL’s great great grandmother, Wilhelmina Tell, migrated to Buenos Aires, Argentina from the canton of Unterwalden (now Nidwalden) in the Swiss Confederation (see Exhibit A: a copy of the passenger manifest of the boat Aachen, which docked in the harbor of Buenos Aires on 1 November 1898.)
  4. Upon information and belief, defendant TELL’s great great grandmother, Wilhelmina Tell (who officially changed her name to Telles in 1905) declared, under penalty of perjury in her last will and testament, that she was a direct descendant of said Wilhelm Tell (see Exhibit B: ultimata voluntad y testamento de Wilhelmina Telles, anteriormente conocida a Wilhelmina Tell, signed and notarized on 5 May 1910 in Adrogue, Argentina.)
  5. Upon information and belief, said Wilhelmina Tell carried with her on her transatlantic voyage an ancient piece of European Larch (larix decidua) that she inherited and that she believed to be part of the crossbow of said Wilhelm Tell, the one he used for the famous Apfelschuss (see Exhibit C: anexo especial to said ultima voluntad y testamento, also dated 5 May 1910.)
  6. Upon information and belief, carbon tests of said wood fragment have confirmed that it is between 700 and 900 years old (see Exhibit D: evaluación cientifica, performed by the medical testing lab of the Universidad de Buenos Aires.)
  7. Upon information and belief, DNA tests of said wood fragment finds traces from 250 different people who have the same odd pair of alleles associated with the Tell family (see Exhibit E: anexo especial to the evaluación cientifica performed by the medical testing lab of the Universidad de Buenos Aires.)
  8. Upon information and belief, said Wilhelmina Tell’s great great grand uncle, Arturo Otello, a resident of Bellinzona, the capital of the canton of Ticino, an Italian-speaking region of the Swiss Confederation, filed suit against composer Gioachino Rossini on 4 August 1829, one day after the premiere of Rossini’s opera Guillaume Tell at the Salle le Peletier in Paris. (see Exhibit F: a copy of a page from the minute book from the Palais du Justice for 4 August 1829; sadly this is the only record of the case, as the pleadings and other records were lost to history during the rebuilding of Paris by Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann from 1853 to 1870 and most particularly the reconstruction of the Palais du Justice between 1857 and 1868 by architects Joseph-Louis Duc and Honoré Daumet.)

*First note of special historical interest*

The indication of the existence of this suit by Arturo Otello is of keen interest to musicologists because it could explain a mystery that has been dogging classical music for close to two centuries: why Rossini, at age 37 the world’s most famous and successful composer with 39 operas under his belt, ceased his output immediately after the premiere of Guillaume Tell and did not write another opera for the remaining four decades of his life. It is documented that the composer’s financial straits were so desperate after the production of Guillaume Tell that he sued the prefecture of Paris for the annuity the city had promised him to produce operas there – and this fact suggests the possibility that the court had ordered Rossini had to pay Otello for the rights to the story of Wilhelm Tell. It also should be noted that Arturo Otello was known to Rossini from a previous court action. Otello had sued the composer in Naples on 5 December 1816 over the use of his name in Rossini’s opera Otello. When he received word of the suit, Rossini is reported to have shouted, “Give me that lawsuit and I’ll set it to music.” Musicologists recently recovered the initial sketches for the opera Rossini intended to write based on Otello’s court papers – they were found amid various laundry lists in the possession of the Fondazione G. Rossini in Pesaro, the Adriatic coastal town where the composer was born — and they bear a striking similarity to the final fanfare, introduced by the trumpets, that concludes the overture of the opera Guillaume Tell, a theme later made famous by its use in the 1933 American radio show (and 1949 television show) The Lone Ranger. In 1842, composer Richard Wagner referred obliquely to this legal matter in a highly critical piece on Rossini written under the pseudonym H. Valentino in Robert Schumann’s magazine Neue Zeitschrift für Musik: “That dreadful word: Copyright—growls through the scarce laid breezes,” Wagner stated. “Action! Action! Once more, Action! And money is fetched out, to pay the best of lawyers, to get documents produced, to enter caveats.”

*Second note of special historical interest*

Arturo Otello’s niece, Portia Otello, who lived in Locarno, continued the tradition of legal action long after her uncle died, bringing suit against Giuseppe Verdi in the Tribunale di Milano on 6 February 1887 regarding his opera Otello. Her second cousin once removed, Falstaff Otello, also of Locarno, joined the family tradition when he sued the same composer over the opera Falstaff, on 10 Feb. 1893, also in the Tribunale Di Milano (details of the suits are contained in the Otello family archive, which has been donated to the Archivio della Cittá di Locarno.)

*Third note of special historical interest*

In 1604, two centuries before the Otello family’s legal odyssey, two members of the Irish branch of the family, Dermot O’Thello (Arturo Otello’s great great great great great grand uncle) and his wife Desdemona, sued William Shakespeare over his play Othello. Indeed, it is speculated that it was a result of O’Thello’s suit, that Shakespeare, upon his death, left only his second-best bed to his wife Anne Hathaway. Apparently, Dermot O’Thello had filed a writ of attachment days before the playwright wrote his will, and, in accordance with said writ, had confiscated the bard’s best bed (a fleeting reference to this suit can be found in the records of the Warwickshire Court of Quarter Sessions in the National Archives in London.)

  1. Upon information and belief, Arturo Otello’s grandfather Reto Tell, of Davos, in the Swiss canton of Graubunden, filed suit in in the central court of Weimar in 1804 against Friedrich Schiller over the play Wilhelm Tell, upon which the Rossini opera was based (see Exhibit G: a copy of Reto Tell’s will, which refers to the suit; there is no other documentation because, unfortunately, all files from the Weimar Court from 1776 through 1807 were destroyed in an allied bombing during World War II. Upon Schiller’s death from tuberculosis in 1805, it was determined that the playwright was destitute, and Reto Tell’s action was likely discontinued.)
  2. Upon information and belief, Reto Tell’s great great great great great grandmother Thérèse Tell (known to her family as Tonto), who was the great great great great great grandniece of Walter Tell, son of said Wilhelm Tell, brought suit in Uri against Aegidius Tschudi, alleging misuse of the Tell name without consent (see: Exhibit H, a copy of a page from the admittedly faded and illegible handwritten logbook of the court in Altdorf, the capital of Uri and birthplace of said Wilhelm Tell.) This suit, and the enmity that followed, led to centuries of bad blood between these two prominent families of Altdorf, a rift that was not even repaired after the double-suicide of the lovers Romeo Tell and Juliet Tschudi in 1590.

*Fourth note of special historical interest*

The aforementioned Desdemona and Dermot O’Thello journeyed to Altdorf in late 1590 to attend the funerals of their relatives. Nine years later, they brought suit against playwright William Shakespeare plus the printer and publisher of the second quarto of Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, Thomas Creede and Cuthbert Burby (an oblique reference to this suit can be found in the minutes of the Worshipful Company of Stationers from the year 1599), seeking to enjoin the playwright from publishing or profiting from the tragic tale the bard thieved from the grieving Tell and Tschudi families.

  1. Upon information and belief, the Swiss cantons of Uri, Schwyz, Obwalden, Nidwalden, Glarus and the two Appenzells have accepted defendant Tell’s claim as genuine (see: Exhibits I through O, declarations from each cantonal government in response to claims filed by defendant TELL with the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg, Germany, and the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands.)
  2. Upon information and belief, the sole living heirs of authors Hans Schriber and Aegidius Tschudi accept defendant Tell’s claim as genuine (see: Exhibits P and Q, affidavits of Urs Schriber, a resident of the city of Lucerne, and Ueli & Judi Tschudi, of Montreux, in the canton of Vaud.)


  1. Defendant TELL reasserts and re-alleges everything contained in sections 1 through 14.
  2. Plaintiff SHOW has filed this suit in a naked attempt to engage in prior restraint: that is, seeking solely to block defendant TELL from taking control of his family’s important history. Plaintiff SHOW seeks to enjoin Defendant TELL from asserting his inheritance rights in court and to stop him from speaking publicly about his family heritage.
  3. Plaintiff SHOW uses showy and exaggerated language to assert that
  • defendant TELL’s claims “stretch credulity” (brief at paragraph 7), are “absolute fabrication” (brief at paragraph 8) and constitute “nothing but hot air” (brief at paragraph 15.)
  • defendant TELL is “no better than a patent troll” (brief at paragraph 19)
  • defendant TELL “has a demented desire to profit from something that happened almost 750 years ago in a country he has never been to that is thousands of miles from where he was born.” (brief at paragraph 25)


  1. Upon information and belief, many claims of inheritance and patrimony may seem to “stretch credulity” and be “absolute fabrication” and “nothing but hot air” until they are duly proven. Plaintiff’s invective here serves only to show how thin plaintiff’s case is, for, without a finding of fact, this vituperative language sheds no light on the serious claims at hand.
  2. Similarly, plaintiff’s statement that defendant TELL “no better than a patent troll” is an assertion that does not prove anything. Indeed, it fails for two reasons. First, logically speaking, calling someone “no better than a patent troll” is not the same as calling them “a patent troll” (and, in fact, is no more conclusive than saying the same person is “no worse than a patent troll.”) It is simply a fuzzy opinion that cannot be allowed to stand as a point of law. Also, the statement that defendant TELL is “no better than a patent troll” ignores an important facet of the case: defendant TELL has provided ample evidence that his family, going back hundreds of years, has made repeated efforts to wrest control of its story from those who would misuse it for pecuniary gain. To get this court to accept the inference that defendant TELL is “no better than a patent troll,” plaintiff SHOW is asking this court to endorse the idea that being a patent troll is an inheritable trait, since so many in the Tell family have valiantly stood up for the principle of control of their family’s story and birthright.
  3. Finally, one could turn plaintiff SHOW’s words against her and say that her action in forming a company to tell the story of said Wilhelm Tell demonstrates that she has a demented desire to profit from something that happened almost 750 years ago in a country she has never been to that is thousands of miles from where she was born, without compensating the family whose patrimony she has so unlawfully seized.


  1. Plaintiff SHOW has introduced several exhibits in an attempt to demean defendant TELL’s case.
  2. The fact that defendant TELL, who went to elementary, middle, and high school in the city of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, may have sued his parents in the small claims division of Broward County Central Court (see Exhibit R: undated article from The Loiterdale Loss-Leader entitled “Florida Kid, 10, Sues Parents Over Allowance”), has no bearing on this case.
  3. Similarly, the fact that defendant TELL’s parents countersued, alleging in court papers that, upon entering the U.S., it was as if he had been injected with a virus which infected him with the profit motive and made him susceptible to the arguments of the free market absolutists Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard (see Exhibit S: undated article from The Loiterdale Loss-Leader entitled “Tells Tell of Son’s Viral Load”) also has no bearing on this case.
  4. The fact that defendant TELL apparently told his best friend that his father often forced him to go to the garage and put on a welder’s helmet and then fired suction arrows at an apple on his head (see Exhibit T: undated article from The Loiterdale Loss-Leader entitled “Tell Tells Tale of Teen Trauma”) also has no bearing on this action.
  5. Upon information and belief, the name of said friend is Alana Show (aka plaintiff SHOW) and all of defendant TELL’s declarations to her should be excluded from these proceedings. Defendant TELL and Plaintiff SHOW exchanged promise rings when in high school and had a child together upon graduation (they are currently living in separate apartments but, upon information and belief, remain on good terms and, in fact, upon information and belief, may still be a couple) and any statements made to her by defendant TELL are subject to spousal privilege.
  6. Upon information and belief, plaintiff SHOW and defendant TELL’s child is named Antonio (Tonto, for short, in honor of his distant relative, Thérèse Tell.) Plaintiff SHOW and defendant TELL share custody of Tonto, who is now five. (It should be noted that Tonto, which means ‘stupid’ in Spanish, defendant TELL’s native language, was the name of the Native American guide in The Lone Ranger and, in calling Antonio Tonto, defendant TELL and plaintiff SHOW have arguably inflected as much pain on their son as defendant TELL’s father inflicted on him when he shot arrows at him in the garage.)
  7. Upon information and belief, The Loiterdale Loss-Leader is a newspaper written and edited by defendant TELL and distributed sporadically by defendant TELL to his parents, sister, and certain relatives and friends. It came into existence through the creation of a joint venture between two previously existing newspapers, The Loiterdale Loss, written and published by defendant TELL, and The County Leader, written and published by plaintiff SHOW. Plaintiff SHOW remains associated with the enterprise and serves as publisher of The Loiterdale Loss-Leader (her recurring column is titled “The Show Must Go On” and, when she writes together with defendant TELL, the resulting columns, often structured as disputes, are called “Show and Tell” or “Show v. Tell,” depending on context.) As a private venture intended to reach a select and exclusive audience chosen specifically by the editor and the publisher, the articles in The Loiterdale Loss-Leader were never intended for the general public and should not be used herein as evidence of anything. The fact that defendant TELL himself wrote the articles cited by plaintiff SHOW does not in any way guarantee their veracity or reflect how closely they hew to the truth.
  8. The implication plaintiff SHOW clearly wants this court to draw is that defendant TELL has an incurable animus and sense of rage directed toward his father, and by extension the father figure, said Wilhelm Tell, and that his sympathies rest with the son, Walter Tell, who arguably was deeply traumatized by his near-death experience in the Apfelschuss and the passive bit-part he played in what became, in his lifetime, an important political psychodrama. Further, plaintiff SHOW clearly wants to suggest that defendant TELL has identity issues which may have led to his making what plaintiff SHOW contends is an exaggerated claim regarding his family lineage. To be clear to the court, the psychoanalytic telenovela sketched out by plaintiff SHOW is unsupported by any psychologist or recognized expert and thus is irrelevant to any unbiased appreciation of this matter.
  9. Defendant TELL assures the court that he has not brought this action out of any misplaced sense of rage or any other psychological state or disorder and refers the court to the voluminous documentary record he has assembled and submitted in his exhibits and suggests that the court should rely on that record rather than a series of scurrilous newspaper clippings – which defendant TELL himself wrote – that have been arrayed to suggest that he suffers from a fictitious psychological complex that might be called, in a faux-serious tone, ‘borderline Wilhelm Tell disorder.’


  1. Plaintiff SHOW has failed to cite a cause of action and has failed to address any of defendant TELL’s affirmative defenses. Absent such a reckoning, defendant TELL asks this court for an order to show cause to force Plaintiff Show to show cause what should stop this court from ruling that defendant TELL is in fact the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandson of said Wilhelm Tell.
  2. Plaintiff SHOW has asked the court to enjoin defendant TELL from ever bringing an action involving said Wilhelm Tell in any court nationally or internationally. This court lacks jurisdiction in any of these matters. Suits filed in state courts should be allowed to proceed to create a record and a detailed finding of fact and are outside the purview of the federal judiciary, according to the doctrine of states’ rights, unless a constitutional issue is invoked. For plaintiff SHOW to suggest that an emergency allows this court to seize jurisdiction is simply an attempt to short-circuit appropriate local consideration. Further, the fact that defendant TELL may have brought or be contemplating bringing legal actions outside the country is not a subject that is under the purview of the United States justice system and should not be considered or adjudicated or be subject to review in United States District Courts. Adding these suits to the record here and questioning the validity of said legal actions is simply an attempt to prejudice this court against defendant TELL.
  3. Rather than engage with the alp of evidence that defendant TELL has placed before this court, plaintiff SHOW has chosen to waste this court’s time with irrelevant innuendo and cuckoo excursions in psychohistory.
  4. Plaintiff SHOW’s sole argument, then, is that defendant TELL’s claim should be dismissed and enjoined because it sounds dubious. But sounding dubious, as this court well knows, is not a category in law.
  5. For these and other reasons, defendant TELL moves for immediate dismissal of this action and, as a cross motion, an order to show cause why this this court should not issue a summary judgement that the story of said Wilhelm Tell, or any details or imagery therefrom, cannot be appropriated or used or even mentioned without approval from his last surviving heir, Guillermo Telles, aka Guillermo Tell, aka Bill Tell, aka Wild Billy Tell, plus order any other remedies – montetary or otherwise – this court may deem reasonable, prudent, or essential.

capitalism is

a captivity narrative

 perpetually being written

by people still in captivity

—The Book of Derivatives®