December 8, 1999



Hang It Up


Just for the record, this dork picture dork stranger that Juno used with the link to my Mojave Phone Booth page the other day isn't me. Not that it matters, since they've now moved on to more and better links, but it's the principle of the thing. When somebody puts a picture like that up and suggests that it's you, well, you have to stand up for yourself. So here goes: "I'm not that dork, I'm this dork." dork Chuck

This whole phone booth thing is just out of control. It seems like every time I turn around, there it is in the paper or on TV or on the web or somewhere and I'm getting bombed with visitors again. The hits will start to taper off and I'll think "Okay, it's over now" and then they surge again. It's The Booth That Wouldn't Die. Andy Warhol used to say that everyone would have 15 minutes of fame; Beth likes to say I'm on minute 23 and counting. Me, I think the clock stopped.

I originally put that site up just for you, Dear Readers. I figured maybe you'd want to hear about me meeting for the first time and traveling with a fellow journalizer. I figured it'd be a goofy, mildly entertaining adjunct to this journal, sort of a little chuck'stake cul de sac to help you while away the at-work hours. I figured maybe 50 of you would see it. I figured wrong.

According to my Extreme Tracking hitcounter, as of right now Mission: Hang It Up has had 23,888 unique visitors in the six months since the page went live. It's had 38,165 hits in total, which means that 14,277 people came back for a second taste. There have been 9,048 website referrals to it, 5,933 search engine hits, 1,441 hits through e-mail, and 27 hard drive hits, whatever those are. Oh, and one referral from the newsgroups. So I miscalculated a little, by about 23,838 people. Oops.

Yahoo started it all. I had myself a nice quiet little anonymous page until someone reported it to Yahoo and they made it a "pick of the week." I woke up one morning and found the tracker was smoking and by the end of the day I'd racked up something like 1,700 hits. My anonymous little website wasn't anymore.

Once Yahoo had shone their light on my site, well, then everyone had to come to The Booth: The BBC. The L.A. Times. Tom Brokaw and the NBC Nightly News. CNN. ABC, CBS, and all the rest of the broadcast alphabet soups. Once it started showing on TV, then just about every newspaper in the world ran a story on it. I get mail nearly every day from people saying they read about it in Seattle, in Tampa, in Germany, in New Zealand -- all around the world. If there's a newspaper, they've covered it and mentioned my site in the story.

With all that attention to my web page has come some spilled-over attention to me and Steve, my partner in crime. We've done telephone interviews together for BBC Radio Scotland and Austria's Blue Danube Radio, and I played phone tag for nearly two weeks with someone from TV's Inside Edition who wanted us to go back to The Booth to do an on-camera interview there. He changed his mind when we said we'd only do it if they either helicoptered us out there or leased us a Hummer to drive there ourselves. Cheapskate. Never even let me put in my demand for 20 minutes in a Motel 6 with Deborah Norville and a bottle of Log Cabin maple syrup. I would have budged on the syrup if he'd pushed. It wasn't a deal-breaker.

The biggest bit of attention to my humble little page came from that once coolest of cool weblogs, The Cool Site of the Day. Mission: Hang It Up was proclaimed a Cool Site back on November 8, which pulled in 2,114 hits that day and another 886 since it was filed in their "Still Cool archive." Yahoo's brought more hits in the long run, but CSotD kicked its butt in the overnights.

And, of course, with the positive attention also comes the sad. Every once in awhile I'll follow a referral back to Godfrey's page, where I'll see that he's made yet another bitter comment about what a pinhead I am. And every other once in awhile I get "anonymous" mail from people with "unusual" names who all employ an identical writing style, who generally berate me for being a loozer and point me toward Dr. Cliff's pages of fun, where I find that he's still talking about me and obviously reading this journal to find things to make fun of. I read these fevered rantings and snicker and shake my head in pity for these poor misguided little trolls who are still so upset about the verbal spanking I gave them way back in July. (I'll probably hear from them again after they see this, but I don't mind. It'll be like fleas off a duck's ass... or however that saying goes.)

The Booth might bring people together but it apparently has no power to make us all just get along. I'm a little proud of myself, though, for taking the high(er) road: despite all the nastiness from Godfrey and his pals, I've always made sure he got his due. He found The Booth, and I make sure to give him credit -- and a link -- whenever it comes up. I even refer the press and their interview requests to him, even though they tell me he says they shouldn't talk to me because I'm "a total jerk." I guess you can't be loved by everyone -- especially if you're me and speak your mind.

Now I find that the Booth has gone dot com and that copyright issues could be coming into play. Just tonight as I ran a search on "mojave phone booth" to find grist for this mill, I found that the Booth has its own not one, but two, domains: this one, where two guys chronicle, via the magic of video tape and RealAudio, their own journey to the Booth; and this one, where I found someone shilling Booth paraphernalia ... bearing photos that Steve shot and I Photoshopped. I sent him a borderline nice letter saying I hope he's planning to share the wealth. We'll see where that goes ... and if the long arm of the lawsuit reaches out into the Mojave.

50 readers. A quirky, anonymous little website. That's what I figured I'd get. So much for figuring. Attention of the entire planet, anyone?