Highway to Hell

Tom Hymes
I want to apologize to those few of you who thought I was serious last month when I wrote in my column that in return for supporting .XXX, I got to ride in ICM Registry CEO Stuart Lawley's private jet, and that I had also taken money from FBI Agent Chuck Joyner in return for information about people in the biz.

It wasn't true. I did neither of those things. I wanted to, of course, but both those fine gentlemen turned me down. They said my support and/or information weren't worth a damn, and that they had plenty of other web rats working for them with better info than I could ever provide. To say I was crestfallen is an understatement; I was devastated. So I drowned my disappointment in bad satire meant to mask a wounded ego, for which I am truly sorry, as sorry as Imus in the morning. OK, the last paragraph is bullshit also. I am not remotely as sorry as Imus in the morning, but it is true that people approached me at the Phoenix Forum to ask about the column; a few were owners of pretty big companies, not your usual yahoos. One of them almost accosted me.

"What's this about you selling out the industry," he said, spattering cherry-flavored booze across my face. "Were you fucking serious, dude?" I started laughing, but then I thought he might hit me.

"Are you kidding," I said, but he just sort of stared at me with a stony stare that web porners are famous for. "Look, man, it was satire. You don't label satire as satire," I said. His brow furrowed. Competing realities were obviously clashing in his head. "No, I did not take any money from the FBI and I did not ride in Stuart Lawley's jet."

"Oh. OK, man, because when I read that I freaked. Are you sure?"

Yes, I am sure. But you know what? I truly am not that sure about anything anymore. That people who have known me for years would think I would take money in exchange for anything has me freaked, so freaked that I really don't care about caring anymore.

People have taken leave of their senses, and no one seems to be concerned. Unsupported accusations are regularly perpetrated on the boards, and before you know it a mob mentality takes over and people are publicly called out to defend themselves against often-insane accusations as everyone watches on the sidelines in awe, glee or disgust.

Sometimes it even spills over into real life, with paranoid performers actually putting their hands on others with hostile intent, for no reason at all. In that alternate reality, people come to the performer's defense, or avert their eyes or lambaste the victim. Crazy justifications are made in the name of profit.

The result is that there is little, if any, incentive to even attempt to engage in rational discourse, especially on the boards, which are just free-for-all zones where assholes who scream the loudest are accorded hero status for screaming the loudest. Adding injury to insult, the real enemies observe the entire debacle and, in Lawley's case, actually attempt to use the inane ramblings to their own advantage.

Well, I guess it really is just business as usual. People talk about how the industry is maturing, but in my opinion nothing could be further from the truth. We are a feeding frenzy of fools, a profitable orgy of selfishness; a gluttonous gang of Imuses who think we are all Keith Ferrazzis.

So really I have nothing to lose. I'm feeling liberated. I wish .XXX were still alive.

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