07 June 2007

A Year in the Fray

A Year in the Fray
by Schmutzie
06/07/2007, 2:10 PM #

Just about a year ago, I stumbled onto this message board called "Fighting Words." I had been sent a link to a Hitchens Slate column by my dear mother, (you haven't lived until your 79 year old mother sends you an e-mail containing a link, complete with an "LOL" and a sign-off TTYL, Love~M)

"Hey mom, what the hell is TTYL?"

"Michael, for goodness sakes, it means 'talk to you later.'

"Aren't you the same person who told me the internet doesn't interest you like... a year ago? Now you're online constantly, sending links, making Wiki entries, forwarding those stupid chain-mails from Claire...I mean seriously mom, WTF?"

"Tsk tsk tsk, must you always swear? We paid alot of money to educate you."

"I didn't swear."

"I know what WTF means dear. Let's clean it up when you talk to me. I am your mother."

"Sigh...TTYL mom, I love you."

"Love you too..." click.

Anyhoo (sorry), by pure chance I scrolled down below the end of the Hitch column and saw what appeared to be a couple of links.

What did you think of this article?

Add a comment. Read comments.

Add a comment? You mean I can send a nasty message to Hitchens?

Maybe I'd better read the comments first.


That was one of the most significant mouse-clicks in my internet life.

The Fray.

Wow! Look at all these people. Holy shit. They seem to be discussing things in these threads.Maybe I'll read some of these discussions before I send my personal message to Hitchens.

I remember it like it was...well, a year ago. The first click was on a message posted by Varian. It was about what a great guy Bush is, and how the Iraq War was going exactly as planned It was JerseyMan who replied first, and seemed to be agreeing with Varian. The next in line was Helio. He seemed to take issue with the first two posters, and used a rather wonderful flavor of broken Japanglish to insult the shit out of Varian and JerseyMan The guy made me laugh my ass off. He was hilarious, especially when he'd toss some French phrases in there and spice it up with some penis humor. Next came Rosey1, a doctor it seems who somehow found a way to change the subject to Israel. A few others joined in, the argument continued, and then devolved into a series of attempted scathing insults.

Read a few more comments, with subject lines ranging from Hitchens being a drunk, to one about 9/11 being an inside job.

Next thing I knew, I'd spent 3 hours reading Fighting Words. I was hooked. This was a cool idea. Who came up with this? These people are from all over the world. Lots of Yanks, but also Canadians, Japanese, Brits, Koreans, Irish....

I developed a fondness for certain writers, and an intense dislike for others. I never missed anything written by Zeus Boy. "Whether I agree with him or not, this guy is the real shit here. I like this dude, and not just because he's Irish, although that certainly helps." I always read Varian, even though I knew it would piss me off. Same with Jersey. There's something worthwhile about reading a person with views other than mine, who can back it up a little bit with some chops. I don't mind a good disagreement, as long as the other party isn't talking out their arse.

I got fed up with one argument to the point where I said farewell to the Fray. I was so pissed I could barely type.

Helio talked me out of it, although much to my surprise, Varian and JerseyMan suggested that I stay as well. I was grateful to them, and I never forget shit like that.

I was posting practically every day in Fighting Words, and I could tell people were getting used to me being there. Really interesting to me, that these people I didn't know other than by their words, were getting to know me in the same way.

Then, one day in July I went to post something. As I hit the submit button...

Your post was not received. You are either posting too often, or you violated the Rules of the Road, and have been banned.

The Freditor banned me.

To this day, I don't know why.

Well damn. Now what do I do? Take a new nic. ChicagoMick. That lasted a week or so, and I got tired of it. So I changed to Schmutz_ which seemed close enough to Schmutzie for my old friends to recognize me. (old friends that I'd met 2 months previously.)

Along came a guy named JFKMartyred. A more vile human being I can't imagine. Jews killed Kennedy. Jews brought down the WTC Jews are running the world through the Worldwide Banking Conspiracy. Israel should be nuked. Jews Jews Jews Jews. A new post every 30 minutes or so.

Well fuck this guy, I thought. I'm not going to sit quietly while this shithead puts this garbage up there. I'm as good at insults as most people, I'm going to let this motherfucker have it. And I did.

Unsatisfied, I wanted this prick banned. I was banned. Why is this asshole allowed to stay? I decided to top post a question for the Editor. "Hey editor, why is this shithead being allowed to post this junk?"...or something clever like that.

My first reply was from a guy named TheQuietMan. (Hey I love that movie!! Especially the part where Dannaher and Thornton have a handshake squeeze-contest at Cohan's.) Never saw this TQM guy before, but I opened his reply. He has a star next to his name.(a rare appearance in FightClub.)

"You should address this question here."

(Hey, TQM knows how to do links like my mom!)

So I clicked his link. Fraywatch.

Fraywatch? What the hell is this? Hey, look TQM has posted a question about my question! "Geoff, is this acceptable?"

Who the hell is Geoff?

There are other Frays????

Within 10 minutes,JFKMartyred was gone. All of his anti-Semitic hate-speech had been flushed. He had been banned.

Oh..so that's who this Geoff guy is.

Clicked on TQM's MBTU.

And that is how I found Best of the Fray, so blame him. Loads of new nics to get used to, so I sat quietly and read. And read. And read. This was fascinating to me. Unlike FightClub, BotF is about all sorts of things, not just the Hitchens column.

Look, a "Fray Poll'... "Dumbest Hippie Songs of the 60s."...My first BotF post! "Incense and Peppermints" by The Strawberry Alarm Clock. (we didn't have underline/bold back in the old days kids, we had to walk uphill to school in both directions) Someone named Mellifluous replied with a nice comment, and was then accused of being someone named Tempo. My first reply.Why thank you. And I added "Green Tambourine" by The Lemon Pipers.

I decided that I didn't care if Mellifluous is Tempo, since I didn't know either of them anyway. ( I have since figured out who is whom.)

Tossed up my first top post. New Orleans. Wrote about Lewis and Clark, and how important that port city was back in the Louisiana Purchase days, and how sad it is that it's being allowed to drown while GW flies over in Air Force One. Someone named Isonomist replied very nicely, and welcomed me to the board. She was immediately jumped by some asshole named Normality.

My first BotF enemy. I disliked him immediately, and my opinion never changed. I liked Iso immediately, and my opinion has never changed. First impressions are important I guess huh?

In the short amount of time that I've been reading/posting here, I have gained a certain familiarity with most of the regulars. I've: learned the 12 step process for logging in, argued with Texans, talked Rocky Mountains with a Coloradan, laughed at the antics of a Japanese guy, enjoyed poetry in another Fray thanks to Zeus Boy's heads-up, "met" other Chicagoans, talked John Wayne "True Grit" quotes, taken polls, followed links, insulted Bush, discussed serious topics like plagiarism, tried to be funny, been saddened by a Frayster's loss, been heartened by the support given her by fellow Fraysters, and braced myself for the big switchover.

Well it's been 4 days, and I think I'm prepared to render my half-assed judgment of the new place.

I like it.

Some old friends, some old foes, some new nics, and a format I'm beginning to like. (would it have been so hard to have ratings and views side-by-side instead of either/or?)

It's nice to see people energized again, and there's a sense of "fresh start" ..at least for me there is. I still enjoy the same posters from BotF1, but for some reason I'm giving a new look to people I'd soured on before. Maybe it's the new wallpaper. Maybe it's the new format. Whatever. I like the new place.

(Although by force of habit, I'm still typing my PW, hitting login, hitting backspace 3 times, re-entering PW, hitting enter and crossing my fingers.)

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