Vlad the Impaler
Who's the real Vlad the Impaler?

A lot of people will tell you that Vlad was a bloodthirsty 15th-century prince of the Romanian province of Wallachia, who was fond of executing people he didn't like—be they invading Turks, Saxons, Transylvanian merchants, his own subjects who committed crimes or sins, or even diplomats who wouldn't take their turbans off. Vlad is said to have been responsible for the deaths of over 100,000 people during his six-year reign, and his favorite method of killing was to impale his victims on wooden stakes, hence the nickname "the Impaler."

But you shouldn't believe everything you hear.

Vlad's real name was reportedly Vlad Dracula, and we all know Dracula lived in Transylvania and never impaled anybody on a wooden stake—in fact, he made a point of avoiding wooden stakes in general if he could help it. And I don't know if you've ever tried to impale 100,000 people in six years, but that comes out to nearly 50 people a day, which is pretty hard work for one guy—especially if the people don't want to be impaled. Vlad certainly wouldn't have had time to sit for this nice portrait if he'd been so busy killing people.

A few years ago, the truth about Vlad was finally discovered—by none other than Tonio K. By a mysterious set of circumstances, Tonio came into possession of a number of handwritten letters signed by none other than Vlad Theimpaler. These letters revealed that far from being a sadistic tyrant, Vlad was a mild-mannered, earnest Romanian gentleman who emigrated to the United States early in the 1980s. While thrilled and proud to be a new U.S. citizen, Vlad was puzzled and saddened by some aspects of our culture, and undertook a one-man letter-writing campaign against the excesses of American capitalism. Tonio photocopied and sent the letters to some of his fans, and now they've been published for the first time here on the World Wide Web.

How It Began: World of Poetry
The first of the Vlad Letters is actually a poem. It seems that shortly after obtaining his American Express card, Vlad received an invitation from a Sacramento company called World of Poetry to submit a poem for publication in a book to be called Our Twentieth Century's Greatest Religious Poems, which he was also invited to purchase for $29.95. The invitation was three pages long, but here's an excerpt.

Vlad, being a clever fellow, soon realized that the book was nothing but a "vanity publication" and that World of Poetry was running a scam. (Tonio says he looked up the company's mailing address and found that it was in a part of Sacramento that wasn't safe in the daytime, let alone at night.) Vlad's great 20th-century religious poem, "Vengeance Is His," perfectly captures the feelings of rage and betrayal shared by all those who face injustice.

"Vengeance Is His"

The Letters
Vlad's poem gave him perhaps a sense of empowerment, but not fulfillment. For that he turned to letter-writing, and over a two-year career he produced more than a dozen sagacious and darkly comic missives, directed toward some of the biggest targets in the American food and consumer products industries. The letters are reproduced here exactly as Vlad wrote them, down to the line breaks, including all vicissitudes of spelling, grammar, and punctuation (his grasp of English at this point was still far from perfect). Only Vlad's mailing address has been deleted. Vlad sometimes, but not always, received responses to his letters, and those are faithfully transcribed here as well. I hope you enjoy Vlad's fresh and bracing perspective on American consumerism and socioeconomics. Vlad's pen has been silent since 1987, but Tonio hopes he hasn't heard the last of him.
Letter #1: Sugar Pops Reply  
Letter #2: O.J.s Reply  
Letter #3: Cracklin' Oat Bran Reply  
Letter #4: Raisins    
Letter #5: See's Candies Reply  
Letter #6: M&M/Mars Reply  
Letter #7: TV Toilet Paper Reply  
Letter #8: Fruit & Fibre Reply  
Letter #9: Fruit & Fibre #2    
Letter #10: Grape-Nuts Reply  
Letter #11: Grape-Nuts #2    
Letter #12: Spoon-Size Shredded
Letter #13: Health Valley #1    
Letter #14: Health Valley #2 Reply  
Letter #15: American Beauty
Letter #16: Curad Bandages    
Letter #17: Quality Paperback
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