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1996 - .

Loneliness, lo-fi megalomania, insomnia, and the exciting possibilities wrapped up in the advent of server-push animation sort of drove me to develop a web site in the first place. Before it was Tremble it was - this pains me to even type out - "The Emperor Of Ice Cream." (Until about 2003, if you searched Yahoo!, you'd still get a result, including the highly self-conscious description I'd submitted for their "personal web pages" directory listing.) My site was pretty lousy. The contents were, as follows, if I remember correctly:

  • a couple of scanned ballpoint pen doodles
  • a handful of stories a list of diseases I feared I might have suffered from
  • a "virtual" mix tape (i'm not kidding)
  • a series of emails from my sister, annotated and footnoted with my own smart-ass remarks

In 1996, there so few personal web sites that a pulse and a URL alone guaranteed some traffic, at least from people lost between the Batman and Robin movie web site and Mirsky's Worst of the Web.(And I actually mean this in the nicest possible way.) I had words linked to words and pictures linked to words and a horrible tiling background image, and giant buttons with drop-shadows, but it was a small world and, as a result, I was able to meet nice people like Josh and the guy from Furious Green Thoughts. (FGT gave me my first-ever web writing assignment, which I also designed - without pay - with all the flair of a retarded 4-H camper. Weirder yet, after all these years I think it's still online.) I also met a nice lady named Leslie, who thought I was funny enough to write a column for some zine she was gonna do on the web. I liked her, though I didn't think it would last. It did, for about five years, and drew some positive attention from readers, as well as a few magazine and newspaper editors. It started a couple of friendships I still maintain today, in the very real sense. It also got me to take writing more seriously, and create a more interesting (or at least more tastefull) home for my writing,

At the same time, other people weren't quite as crazy about me -- one guy even called me "sophomoric", after I sent him a fan letter. (But who am I to hold a grudge?) But that was 1996 and I was a bit younger, and the label probably fit, so I just said to myself, "fuck you, poor man's Wolfman Jack." and just kept typing. (The thing I learned very early about the Internet is this: people always proselytize about how they love the way the Internet eliminates distance between all of us, but the truth is, the thing people really love is the way the Internet maintains distance between us. The anonymity is what makes people more comfortable being their most passionate and starstruck, and their most hostile and uncivilized. It's like a spa treatment for people with social anxiety.)

Here's the worst part. I just read back those last two paragraphs and was horrified to discover that nothing has really changed. I still know most of the people I knew from the very start, with a few exceptions. There are still many people online who want nothing to do with me, and probably resent every word of minor praise my site has received. (And I'm sure I've spent a few minutes here and there, looking at their sites, and shaking my head in disbelief at how totally stupid or derivative they seem to me, even as they're being praised as unparalleled genius elsewhere.) I'm still sleepless and overwrought, and I'm still armed with a bunch of lousy links and a regressive sense of graphic design.

And any reputation i have made for myself since I appeared online in the first place has probably been for being completely sophomoric anyway. Well, shit.

Be my friend, anyway?


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