I'mma Shed My Skin
When I originally created this website back in November 2001, it was a tumultuous time, to say the least. I'd graduated from NYU with a degree in Drama from the Experimental Theater Wing and was living a shoestring life in Greenpoint; biking to and fro, freelancing with my basic web skills and pulling together little performance jams every few months. It was a pretty good little bohemian scene right up until September.
Just 60 days after 9/11 New York City was still in a state of disarray and confusion. The air in Brooklyn routinely held the burning plastic smell that wafted from ground zero, and there was almost nothing we could imagine which might credibly hold much effective meaning. Yet crisis had distilled some basic philosophy for me and my training as an Actor/Performer, a lucky grasp at the essential idea that our internal notions about what was valuable and possible were possibly the most effective levers to use in moving the world. In hindsight this is pretty lucky thing to realize at the age of 22. I also validated the virtue of my semi-ephemeral cultural work in the face of a monumental Real World tragedy.
Also over the few years prior I had been enormously inspired by the work of Justin Hall, his deeply personal exposition of his life and times on his website. There seemed to be a powerful intersection between this vital need for cultural development and the democratic potential offered up by the internet, and I wanted to be a part of it. I had this notion that I would be able to construct a web of content sufficient for explaining complex subjects — telling deep and layered stories — in fewer words than would be required in the conventional format of a novel or essay or play. I wanted to make use of the essential innovation of hypertext (that's the "H" in "HTTP") and create narratives via reference.
I also had the somewhat more practical and pedestrian notion that I could help friends, family and followers keep up with me at their own pace by keeping something of a running journal of events.
What I ended up with was a mish-mash of these things, that settled more towards the journal form. My "beat" was whatever was fun and clever in my circle of friends, plus news from the edge of starry-eyed internet revolution. Soon after I added politics to the mix, and as my life evolved and took off in that direction it became more of a running theme, as did more specific technical subjects. Projects came and went, traffic rose and fell, life moved along (as did the internet), and eventually my audience settled on that practical and pedestrian group: the small world of wonderful people who care to check up on me from time to time.
Nine years on I feel most compelled by my original purpose, to construct a narrative from the blizzard of human events that's digestible to a regular audience because I do the leg-work to build up a foundation of reference. The idea of being able to expose my worldview as an accessible engine for understanding reality is still mightily attractive. To be sure this is an ego trip — maybe the ultimate hubris for the intellectual: y'all should think like me — but that's never stopped be before. And besides, enough people seem to take my point of view seriously I think it might be useful. My starry-eyes have faded, maybe my vision still has value.
And, for what it's worth, I'm better equipped now to go back to that original purpose. The technology has improved enormously and gives me lots of great ways to post and relate my words, and the explosion of services and sources out there elsewhere online offers much in grist for the mill as well as potential new audience. Having run the gauntlets of presidential politics, open source tycoonery, outlaw bohemia and other adventures gives me more to say with better authority.
So, we'll see if I stick to it, to "doing the pages" as real writers say. Website redesigning is a fun creative precursor, but the proof is in the pudding.