Just a college anecdote.

10/12 — I will be on Soundcheck on WNYC today at 2:00PM to talk about Gary Benchley, Rock Star. I'll go on after Don McLean. They may take phone calls. I'll be talking with the host about the book and about indie rock in general. It should be fun. If it's not fun then I will have failed. 212-264-7483 is the number to call in live, if you're so inclined.

Back in 1995 Jerry Garcia died. I was just finishing up college at Alfred University in Alfred, New York. I never really cared about the Grateful Dead all that much. Some of the Dead's music is okay if you don't have anything better to listen to, like, say, silence, or the sound of flies buzzing. I don't really have a problem with it, but I do have a problem with pious hippies. They get on my nerves in the same way that, say, Objectivists do. And I like all the stuff that hippies hate, like wearing solid colors, and living in a house that's not made of corncobs, and Western medicine.

My roommate in college had the same problem with hippies that I did. So we decided to put together a one-hour radio program for the college radio station, WALF, about the assassination of Jerry Garcia, complete with commentary and analysis and a slowed-down, audio-processed, totally fake bootleg of the song Sugar Magnolias to which we added fake gunshots. We played it one night and our friends were amused.

This was the early days of the web, and I figured I might as well put up a few pages about our assassination theory with some audio clips and see what happened. What happened is that Jerry fans sent me long emails explaining how important Jerry was to the world and that my theory was insanity and should be removed from the Internet immediately. Sometimes people would ask to speak to my supervisor.

I'd always write back. I'd send a fake email from the Internet Management Council, an organization that does not exist, telling the complaining party that their Internet would be shut down from this day on. And then they'd write back even more full of burning rage, telling me that they were going to write the Internet Management Council as well and have my Internet revoked. Sometimes I'd let them in on the joke, reminding them that Jerry Garcia had been in close contact with Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters and wasn't afraid of a good prank himself. They didn't write back. I did it over and over, and I was happy.




Ftrain.com is the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms. It is showing its age. I'm rewriting the code but it's taking some time.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


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© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

Antilunchism, by Paul Ford. Snack trams. (May 11)

Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

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