Hey so yeah, I can’t blame you. For thinking it.
From the looks of it, you might think this is my first time around the blogosphere. The inane rookieness of my approach!
Look, how many other bloggers use smilies in their respectable posts?
Maybe I’m not so respectable….that’s one possibility.
Not to mention all that cussing.
Definitely not respectable and I surely don’t go about this blogging thing with the grand aim of garnering thousands and millions of readers, do I? I suppose I could whore it out a little more, and perhaps I do indulge in some blog whoring, but I’m very content to lean back and blend into the background.
It’s my nature. I’ve never been one to crave the spotlight. Yet, I am fiercely competitive when it comes to defending my sense of self-respect and I love a good argument and/or fight if need be. I’m an instigator and I like to think that I don’t run away when the going gets tough. For the most part I prefer to engage in these battles on my own terms…meaning when I feel like it and the mood suits. Sometimes I frankly don’t give a shit. The less I have to deal with people the happier I seem to be. Luckily, I’m not prone to loneliness or self-pity.
See, so in that respect, this whole blogging thing is tailor made for someone of my disposition.
And the story goes:
I began blogging in September, 2008. I had no idea what I was doing. Let’s just say I had much less of an idea than I do now. Technically, socially, structurally. I was a fucking blog mess. The blog, which I shall not name due to issues of the aforementioned self-respect issue, was pretty aimless (believe it or not, I do have a focus in Phoenixism though sometimes I think it hides in the shadows).
I’m one of those people who never stops thinking so consequently I’m struck with really great ideas at the worst times. In the shower, on the can, in the subterranean labyrinth of L.A.’s Metro network…but I’ve taken pains to surmount the problem. When I started my first blog in 2008 I had no clue. I was a rambling, ripshod blogrocket. I didn’t know where I wanted to go with my writings and my thoughts…and the problem was, there were a whole bunch that needed a home.
So my blog turned into a potpourri of barely digested ideas that had the logic and coherence of a WWF soliloquy. In the year that it ran, I think I wrote only a handful of posts which were independently created in my mind without any outside guidance, ie, links. 99.9% of my subjects were gleaned from other website, mostly news items. I think I was going for the serious left-wing news hound approach and I was going for George W. Bush’s throat. Gradually that became boring to me and unsustainable (primary reason being that I’m not really all that liberal) and I began to wear the blog like a bad hat.
In order to redefine myself, and my blog, I ventured out into others news items having to do with non-current event items. Diet, sex, weight lifting, human evil. But beneath all this, I still lacked an underlying theme. I lacked a cohesive thread which could be used to explain my mess away in a few short words. One day I might post an item about a drunk driver who killed a child (and go on self-righteously) and the next I might write a little tidbit about the comic display of modern male peacocking.
A wild display of absolute random mental images. That was my blog man.
You know how it goes. I suppose if I was at a stage in my life where I hadn’t yet reached a serious level of self-examination and self-honesty, I might have continued that blog stubbornly in the face of all good reason. But I did pay one year up front to DreamHost and being the miserly wretch that I am, I decided to stick it out for the duration of the contract.
I would learn more about the craft. Chalk it up to a learning experience.
I moved on to local news items and all they bring. Garbage. Lots of it. Stories about murder and rape and vehicular carnage and tales of substance abuse…local news reads like the National Enquirer of everyday man. But I covered it, man! I was a voracious consumer of L.A. news and I made sure to subscribe to every possible news feed. I scrutinized all that shit intensely. And living in L.A. presents a neverending platter of this media pap. This used to be one of my primary blog sources. A legit news site but with a trashy, lowest common denominator sort of appeal.
So for the better part of the second half of the year, my virgin blog puttered along and I wrote almost exclusively about teachers getting it on with students, killer bacteria found in the sands of local beaches (oh wait, that was Phoenixism!), cat killers…you get the idea. Complete disarray. Aimlessness, much like this post is threatening to become. So let me get back on track.
About 6 months in I realized the blog was not me.
The blog was not the prized family photo I wanted the world to see. Nope, the blog was rapidly becoming the embarrassing family member you lock up in the bedroom when company is over. It was about this time I decided I would not continue the blog past the duration of my one-year contract.
I had now become a blog “short-timer.”
On my way out, not really caring about the appearance or substance, I went through the daily (well not always) rigamarole of running it and posting to it. But I wasn’t feeling it. The blog subsisted on symbolic gestures and I’m positive my unfocused attitude manifested itself as a blog with not much vital to say.
The sad truth with most blogs is that fame is not an option!
You see, I didn’t want fame. All I really craved were reader comments, feedback, anything.
I thought the act of of running a blog the same as being the legendary wolf standing on a forest hill howling at the moonlit sky. Howling into the sky, at the lifeless moon with no other sounds echoing the wolf’s call. Perhaps in the dark forest another wolf hears, or something living, breathing; but we do not know. The wolf does not and can never know if his howling is being heard. But it never matters to the wolf! The wolf does not consider that for it will not change one thing: his howls. Because this is what a wolf does. And for a wolf to stop howling because there are no others to hear…means the wolf is not a wolf.
This is how I came to view my acts of bloggery. It’s a lonely pursuit with very little, if any, fanfare. You must find an inkling of satisfaction in the process rather than the result or you risk early defeat.
And though most of my posts went uncommented and unacknowledged, there were a few that actually received a swarm of comments.
One such post was about a woman who decided to punish her boyfriend by gluing his Chihuahua to the side of a wall. Needless to say I couldn’t take the story seriously and I made some glib comments which pissed the hell out of some people. The pinnacle was one pinhead telling me, “How would you like it if someone stuck you to the wall?” Duh. I wouldn’t. And is that a threat you lameass? Thankfully that comment fury died a quick, non-sticky death.
My most commented on post had to do with a young man who was a member of a royal family in Saudi Arabia and who delighted in brutal acts of sadistic torture against business partners who were less than honest. Videos and all, visual documentation of the man’s ruthlessness caught on tape. This post drew a scary flurry of comments from mostly Arabic readers. I felt like I was in the middle of a Riyadh street fight. I began to wonder if that post would elicit some extra “attention” from governmental henchmen. The comments continued for some time but rather than taking great pleasure in the fact my blog was being used as a “podium” of sorts for aggrieved Arabic anti-royalty masses, I felt like taking cover instead and changing the subject. Now was the time for some of that bullshit news lite I was so fond of…like maybe a hitman story or another tale of comical animal mistreatment. Bestiality stories do well to lighten the mood.
My blog was winding down its last few months and I was counting the days. I planned on starting a completely new blog with a completely new fresh approach. I had no idea what the approach would be, but it would be fresher than that cyber-disaster I was running already. It was beginning to drain my energy and my enthusiasm for the “artform.” Some of those posts were truly dreary exercises in obligatory expression. Going through the motions.
And that tone!
My tone. My vibe…awful. I feel like that was not me. I was being disingenuous with myself and I couldn’t go on much longer dishing out the fake crap.
Problem was, I couldn’t change…not within the confines and history of that blog. I felt that the blog name was synonymous with the opinions and presence I’d imbued the blog with for over a year. I could not change midstream and suddenly shift vibes. It was not that simple. A blog, over time, takes on a life, it begins wearing the personality and character of its owner. I was incapable to typing out anything on that blog that was anything other than what I’d been typing for almost a year. As much as I may try to change the tone, I would always come back to the same thoughtless, impulsive and overly tense personality I displayed as the blogger since day 1.
As the clock ticked on my DreamHost contract I was not convinced I would let the damn thing run out, cancel on its own. Perhaps there was still a chance to rescue this!
I dove ahead with renewed vigor. I truly thought I might be able to salvage my deteriorating blog which had brought me very little joy and only a lot of slight unease and some downright creepy discomfort. But you invest a year in an invention and when the time comes to trash it who can blame you for being slightly reluctant? Reluctant I was. I began negotiating with myself, looking for ways and styles to pump life back into my blog. And I tried vainly to do that.
Then two incidents of synchronicity struck within weeks of each other just a couple of months before my contract was to run out.
First was a local murder in Los Angeles which involved a real estate agent who was stabbed to death at a house he was preparing to show a prospective customer in a beach community. The agent was well-respected and came from a close-knit family. He had a wife and children and his murder was a complete mystery. Some additional facts surfaced that his sister had ties to a fraud case involving millions of dollars and murder; but he was not directly implicated, but the suspicions were irrefutable. This was July, 2008, and we were in the midst of the financial meltdown that was threatening to capsize the economic welfare of most Americans and the housing market was the predominant bogeyman. Using little foresight and even fewer brains, I proceeded to write a lengthy post where I attempted, weakly, to juxtapose the agent’s murder with the voracious and consumerist craze that was leading us directly into the looming financial crisis. I thought I was being clever and ironic. Uhm, no. Clever irony is not the strength of many people, and definitely not of the purported friends and family of the victim. They commented in unison, an angry chorus of accusations and threats and verbal haranguing. It was relentless. I used my real name in that blog as well and I began to experience some pangs of paranoia as the commenters began flinging my name around menacingly. I didn’t ask for this attention, I wanted to yell. I tried my best to add a comment myself in order to set the record straight. I was not intending to besmirch the character of their dead friend and brother. I was merely trying to make a statement pertaining to the mania of the housing market and the greed that leads to murder and dehumanization…they would not hear any of it. Comprehension was lacking and I soon understood that for their lack of comprehension, I was the evil villain. My blog and its distinctive name was now synonymous with the defamation of a loved one to many Angelenos. I realize the sampling was puny and I’m overstating my power. But after enduring that ordeal, the number seemed large and ominous. A virtual army threatening outside my gates.
A couple of weeks later, the high-profile case of unhappy loner, George Sodini. The infamous Pittsburgh “LA Fitness” mass killer. The creepy guy who hadn’t been laid for 18 years and attended PUA seminars and who kept a library of books on how to score young chicks. The lonely blogger who howled at the blogosphere about his plans to slaughter groups of people; who basically outlined his intentions but in a final and agonizing refutation of his invisible online persona, no one read it and thus it went unreported. Many felt that if even one commenter had responded to his rambling thoughts, he might not have gone on his shooting spree. There was something viciously ironic about his end. And then it occurred to me that after his little adventure, the world might not be so fond of 40-something bloggers whose writings might easily be construed as bitter or rabidly misogynistic.
And by the middle of August I was keenly aware that my blog, viewed from certain creative angles with small stretches of imagination, might be perceived as Sodini-like because of my rantings; rantings whose effect was magnified and distorted because I was unable to tone down my vehemence on paper.
And therein lay my worst and most glaring fault during the course of my first blog. I could not tone it down. I was incapable of letting simply stated direct sentences convey my point alone; no, I needed to use strong, overbearing words and a preponderance of emotion-driven adverbs. I was wired up man. I did not let the language do my work for me. I needed to arm the language with harsh qualifiers and descriptions in order to let the readers know exactly what the fuck I felt.
But I soon recognized this and was ready for a change.
And the only change which would set me free was to leave that blog behind. Let it die. Save nothing of it. Delete all the files, jettison it right out into the wild blue yonder of cyberspace.
And start anew, almost 11 months to the day I started my first blog.
August 25, Phoenixism.
Sychronicity. One of my underlying themes…came home roost.