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The Belgian Pie Goblin

The Belgian Pie Goblin

by Jacques Rockhard

On January 28, 1998, Belgian magazine writer and film critic Noël Godin received a letter at his home. It claimed, in French, that Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates would be visiting Brussels on February 4. It ended with an ominous invitation: “If the hit interests you, we can help you.” It wasn’t the first time that Godin had received conspiratorial advice of this nature. He met with the informant, who revealed himself to be a Microsoft Belgium employee, one presumably well-placed enough to have access to Gates’ full schedule, which he also promptly provided. 

Not satisfied, and with the wheels now turning, Godin recruited the help of a second individual who would pose as a journalist intent on making a ‘day-in-the-life’ type documentary about the billionaire. This would allow the accomplice to follow Gates around the streets of Brussels, and report back on his movements. 

On February 5, (the trip was delayed) as Gates moved to enter the historic Concert Noble building, he was rushed by a group of around nine of Godin’s accomplices, and, well, the rest is history: 

Note: according to Godin’s book, a fourth pie hit its target inside the building, but I couldn’t find footage of it.

Okay, so this isn’t quite a story about a writer turned opportunistic hitman then, but this attack certainly required the coordination of one. In fact, at this point in his career, Godin, whose nom-de-guerre is Georges Le Gloupier, had achieved celebrity status in Belgium for his high-profile pastry and whipped cream-related attacks, which is a sentence I’m having trouble fully appreciating. 

 Noël Godin
 Noël Godin in 1998 (Credits: Walter Cornu, via First Monday)

The origin story of the Le Gloupier name and of what would turn into a decades-long pieing spree-turned-borderline political movement is one and the same. It seems that sometime in the 60s, Godin had fallen in with a group of edgy anarcho-socialist-ish writers and creative types while he was working as a critic for a Catholic film review. One of his friends, a French writer named Jean-Pierre Bouyxou, would amuse himself by sneaking quotes from various fictitious sources, all named Georges Le Gloupier, into the articles he published “almost daily,” according to the man himself: 

Good to know that back then it was equally as easy for white dudes to just put whatever bullshit they felt like in the papers as it is now. Easier maybe even, since there was no such thing as Google, or, apparently, journalistic ethics. Bouyxou explains that what had started as an inside joke between friends began to pick up steam. Le Gloupier started popping up in articles and citations all over the place, even in academic texts, as French-speaking trolls and unsuspecting randoms alike learned how memes work about 40 years too early. 

Godin clearly thought the whole thing was the peak of comedy because one day, I assume a slow day, he wrote in his film review that the fictional director Georges Le Gloupier had attacked famous French director Robert Bresson with a pie at Cannes. The next issue, he wrote that Marguerite Duras, a contemporary and friend of Bresson’s (maybe girlfriend, it’s hard to tell with French, idiot language), had retaliated by pieing Le Gloupier back. Finally, on December 11, 1969, Duras was attending a screening of one of her films at the Catholic University of Louvain, when Godin showed up and smooshed a pie into her face for real. Hidden in the pie was a note: “Compliments of Georges Le Gloupier.” Godin had successfully transferred the Gloupster from the page to the real world.

Nowadays, Noël Godin/Georges Le Gloupier has achieved cult stardom. Since 1969, his stunts have become more elaborate and his targets more difficult to pin down. Either because of their status or because of the media frenzy that often kicks up whenever “Le Gloupier” is spotted in the area of a potential victim. Godin has also attracted quite a following through his pieings, called ‘entartages,’ ‘tarte’ being the French word for pie. Some attacks have involved dozens of accomplices from numerous countries and multiple “activist” groups devoted to humiliating the wealthy and the famous through baked goods have spawned, such as the Biotic Baking Brigade, though the concept of throwing a pie in someone’s face can hardly be attributed to a single prolific Belgian. According to some sources, Godin’s followers also occasionally chant “gloup gloup gloup” upon delivering their creamy payloads. Pause.

At this point it should be clear that this man is a certified genius, but just in case you aren’t convinced, let’s run through a few of my favourite Le Gloupier escapades. First, it’s nearly impossible to learn about Godin without learning of his relationship with the French intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy. Lévy, known colloquially as BHL, is a controversial figure in France for reasons I don’t care about because today we’re talking about pies, but he kind of gives me Jordan Peterson, Intellectual Dark Web vibes. It is perhaps appropriate, then, that he has been the recipient of no less than SEVEN entartages masterminded by Godin. After the first incident, in 1985, BHL was filmed yelling at the piemeister, who was being held to the ground by security, “Lève-toi ou je t'écrase la gueule à coups de talon,” a phrase which roughly translates to ‘Get up or I’ll curbstomp your face.’

Bernard-Henri Lévy
Bernard-Henri Lévy after a successful entartage (Credits: Anthony Dehez, BELGA, AFP, via 20 minutes)

Another entartage attempt on BHL, the fourth, in 1994, took place at the Cannes Film Festival. This endeavour was frustrated by the press and the public, who were excited by Godin’s presence and the prospect of pies flying at faces belonging to other people. Unfortunately, this hubbub tipped off Lévy, who ducked into Cannes’ palais des Festivals ahead of schedule, avoiding the lurking pastry insurgent. However, as he was stepping out to present a preview of one of his movies, he found himself face to face with an accomplice of Godin’s who had made it inside, and he yet again was made to taste Le Gloupier’s cream pie. Pause, again. According to reports, security began beating the assailant before, I’m not making this up, a friend of Godin’s, filmmaker Jan Bucquoy, ordered them to stop by posing as the Belgian ambassador.

More impressive than that Looney Tunes-ass operation was the entartage of then-French president Nicolas Sarkozy. Fearing his fame would give the game away, Godin did not participate in this assault in person, and it was carried out entirely by his supporters. The story goes that the president, who was in Brussels for some kind of Catholic convention, was stopped in the lobby of the building by a pie spy who asked him for an autograph. As Sarkozy busied himself, she caught him with the first confectionary consignment. Next, the leader of the republic sought shelter in an elevator, but the doors to the second floor opened to a second entarteur. Mashing the close door button, he evaded the attacker and returned to the ground floor but was confronted anew by yet another pie-slinger, who also couldn’t get his shot off in time. Pause, maybe.

Hiding in the elevator, it became like a chase scene out of damn Scooby Doo, before Sarkozy was finally escorted by agents from the ground floor elevator to the bathroom, where he was able to clean up. AND THEN, as soon as he exited the bathroom, he was bombarded by around twenty pies from above, their owners quickly fleeing from pursuing security. He cleaned himself up a second time, exited the bathroom a second time, and was moving across the lobby when one of Godin’s cameramen spotted him. The latter sheathed his camera, produced a pie and nailed the president one last time before escaping and, again, I can’t make this shit up, handing his last pie to a nun he passed on his way out, whom security guards swiftly apprehended on suspicion of being an accomplice. If somebody doesn’t put this scene in a movie quickly, I’m going to lose it.

Lastly, because you know we gotta work in the Canadian angle, Godin participated in a plot to pie all three candidates for Premier of Quebec in a single day in 2003. Le Gloupier himself managed to nail Liberal leader Jean Charest with an assist from the former's wife. A second team later caught up with Mario Dumont, leader of l’Action démocratique du Québec and fed him his just desserts. But the third team was unable to get to Parti Québecois leader Bernard Landry, as he had beefed up security in response to news of the first two attacks Also possibly because, three years earlier, Landry had already been Gloup’d hard when he was provincial Finance Minister. Godin and his wife were arrested, but let go with a $500 fine and a warning to avoid returning to Canada or the U.S.

And that’s really all you need to know about Noël Godin, the professional pie goblin, but I think you’ll agree that you really needed to know it. I’m not sure what else there is to say, there’s no big picture here, but I’ll just leave you with the fact that this man is 76 years old and is still a top contender, if not a lock, for the greatest and most successful troll of all time. This guy owned the president of a country with a permanent seat on the Security Council for Christ’s sake. Remember his name. 

Written by: Colman Brown


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