| advance noise
for days of naze
| in brightest day / in
||November 2, 1998
I Blame Them
Hal Jordan, test pilot, is nestled inside a small simulator when it inexplicably takes flight. He lands beside a dying alien garbed in green and wielding a ring of the same color. The extra-terrestrial is a member of the Green Lantern Corps who used his powers to seek out his replacement. With his last breath he teaches Hal the oath and kapow! - the Green Lantern (of Earth) is born.
They called it Secret Origins of Super Heroes. I wanted to know how they got their powers, what drove them to it, what price did they pay? How did it all start? Hal Jordan has his alien counterparts and the Guardians of Oa (big headed short blue guys with white hair); every site author has their equivalent. These are mine.
Web history is not my forte, but I believe one Richard Grimes started the original Cool Site of the Day. Although CSotD today would probably be more appropriately named ISotD (Interesting Site of the Day), I would never deny the pivotal role they played oh so long ago (3 years) in drawing me into the Web. Kind of like that dying alien.
Eve Anders' "Garden of Eve" was the first link I followed from CSotD and was the first personal site I ever visited. Search the CSotD index and you will not find it. Fire up HotBot and my launch statement in which I name her as my first inspiration is the only true match. But I tell you, this thing actually existed at one time. (Yes, Mr. Naze, all the jackets come in white -- no, ultra long sleeves that attach in the back are all the rage now. Let me help you...)
Eve is a Seattlite who was getting her degree in particle physics at CalPoly in 1995. The Garden of Eve was silly and playful but at the same time it managed to convey the essence of this very unusual person who loved pi, worked summers at Boeing, and handed out her poetry on flyers in the streets of Seattle. At that moment, it struck me how odd and wonderful it was to be meeting this complete stranger. Major media were only for actors, newspeople and Jerry Springer guests, but here she was doing her own thing, completely self-produced. Nothing between her creation and us, her audience.
The immediacy and directness of the Web created a world stage uniquely suited for personal expression. That first visit was a taste of what could be, a potential.
On November 21, 1996, that potential was fully realized and it inspired a legion of new voices to take to the stage. I was one of thousands that day to enter Maggy's World (yes, another site which technically no longer exists -- she lives in moments now).
Looking back, two things strike me about that experience. First, was the elegant, almost cinematic quality to the site. The black background invited you to project your images of her words onto it. And, of course, she invoked that metaphor literally in the title of her autobio with self portraits framed within the film stock graphic. That seven part story, the second thing to hit me, was the gem of MW and the catalyst for this humble effort. From Romania to Utah to L.A. to Chicago -- the long form is what spoke to me and here it was executed to perfection.
This was a wild and wooly time for the Web. In its infancy it was under attack from the Communications "Decency" Act and summoning George Carlin's "7 Words", Maggy's eloquent defense of unrestricted expression resonated big-time.
Links from Maggy's World opened up the Web for me. She was a member of People Chase, a web ring created by Karawynn that, at the time, featured many of the best personal sites out there. I hope that the PC is resurrected one day and restored to its former glory. I had hoped to earn a spot on it.
The Chase led me to Bill Shunn's site, "I'm Just A Bill" (Schoolhouse Rock graphic lifted completely much to my delight). Bill, a talented writer, grew up in the Church of Latter Day Saints but became a vocal and caustic critic of his former faith.
His "Mormon Matter" section contained two pillars of critique. One, an insightful glossary of church jargon, and two, the long form story of his life in the Church and how he came to be arrested for suspected terrorism in his attempt to prevent a fellow missionary from fleeing his post. Passionate, revealing and articulate writing that would never have been known by more than a handful of individuals without this medium.
If anything should strike you by now, it is the transitory nature of people on the Web and thus their creations. Bill has since had a change of heart regarding his relationship with the LDS. I have hardcopy of it around here somewhere. Bill is now Inhuman Swill (an anagram for his full name). No one would really blame you if you really started to wonder if I'm making this all up.
Several sites I've followed since those early years are actually still alive and kicking.
If Jonathan Swift were born in Odessa, Texas and played the trombone, his name would have been Rob Hudson. Rob's site (which I also found through the Chase) has a secret ingredient which accounts for its longevity: Goo. Rob is a smart-ass, emphasis continuously shifting back and forth from smart to ass. He'll tell you this himself. He kicked his site into high gear about a year ago and is still tracing the arc of his life from his move to Michigan through a rather dicey period where his summer gig at Interlochen, a prestigious music camp, blew up in his face to his voyage to Planet Bliss. To top it off, Rob is a Shostakovich disciple, which is the telling mark in my book.
Rebecca's Revenge and Rob's site have a lot in common. Both sport a funky/cool design and both approach their material straight-on with no punches pulled. I dig her refusal to fancy up the back pages of her site; it's her way of saying "you're here for my words, if you don't like it, click the hell out."
If Rebecca is the ego of the Web's pulse that would make Michael Sippey the id. I visit the obvious religiously, compulsively even. It helps me maintain the illusion that I know something about what's going on and it does it quite well. I think that he and I are quite alike.
Lance's second greatest contribution to the Web, his coining of the term "here-I-am-itude", is only bested by his pet, the Glassdog. He raises the rant to an art form. My bias again towards the long form is why I believe his epic account of winning the Cool Design of the Year award is the best thing he's ever done. Those Rice-A-Roni cable cars were the piece de resistance. I used his "Word of Mouth" links as my launchpad into c-space.
In fact, I stumbled upon these last four sites from the 'Dog. What can be said about the fray that has not been said before? Some things we hope to be true, others we know to be true through our direct experience. When Derek says that the Web is an art form open to everyone and backs it up with stories folded gracefully like impossible digital origami, you believe. That belief was my shield against self-doubt.
Alexis Massie was everywhere. You couldn't click three times without running into her work. And the best part was that everything you found was unfailingly intriguing. Her Meta, Baby e-mails of '97 crackled and sparked with creativity and invention. They come shooting into your inbox at random intervals with the speed of a prizefighter's combination; you'd click on them without ever knowing what might hit you next. Alexis is the finest e-mail correspondent I've known, responsive, witty and accessible. She devoured my site in one gulp and responded with a clever quote referring to a book I list deep within the Soul Food section.
Ben Turner is sort of the opposite of Alexis, but in a good way. Irascible and somewhat isolationist, Ben is mellowing in his old age (I believe he is a junior at University of Texas). Some find his SoapBox orations cocky and arrogant. And sometimes they may even be right. But that would be missing the point altogether. Ben has an opinion and he speaks his mind, which I find refreshing. Recently, he seems to have reach some turning point in his life having submitted himself to a brutal and unflinching self-critique which coincided roughly with a long deserved Project Cool Siting.
The inexorable pull of commerce and the maturing of the medium seems to be having a Prozac-like influence over what gets produced. The antidote is people like Halcyon, who throws caution to the wind, strips down and breaks out the body paint. He stretches his arms like the Elongated Man, takes a whack at humorless corporations and then grosses us out with guys peeing on themselves. Prehensile Tales is an elemental force that knocks you on your ass but makes you laugh as it happens.
So now you can see, I had no choice. Hal was yanked out of his simulator to meet his destiny. These people, scattered across a continent, exerted perhaps a greater force than the dying alien. And while I haven't saved any planets yet, I did help Joan get out of work early and that's got to count for something, doesn't it?
p.s. Hey! I celebrated the 1000th visit to Days by stripping down, painting an M on my chest [Roman numeral for said number. -the editors] and running through the house screaming "Kaloo Kalay!" O.k. I just had some Junior Mints, but it was still pretty exciting. Thank you!
p.p.s. "I wasn't ruthlessly jammed onto the new days notification list against my will like most people were, but I'd like to be abused in a similar fashion."
|previously on days of naze:
what have you done for
|May you never be more active
when you are doing nothing.
|in the feedbag:
film: The Mighty. You must see this movie. If I were a more impetuous person I would immediately add it to my Soul Food list of films. Skip work. Lie to your significant other. Bail out on your bowling team. Do whatever you must. It's that good.
server crashes in the woods,
does it make any noise?