Saturday, August 29, 2015

Don Knotts Is Back ► A Morgantown Update

The Don Knott's Memorial is back in its place
of honour in front of the Metrpolitan Theatre.
Avid readers of my Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research series will remember 2014's Travelogue, A Tribute to Don Knotts ► Morgantown's Favourite Son. I am happy to be able to provide a NNS Update.

Morgantown has been on my Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research itinerary for the past 3 years. On my 1st visit, way back in 2013, I was delighted to discover a wonderful brass plaque embedded in the sidewalk in front of the historic Metropolitan Theatre, honouring Don Knotts. The Met was where Knotts got his start in Show Biz as one half of a ventriliquist act. His dummy, Danny "Hooch" Matador, was the other half.

Last year's shocking sight
Last year, when the Not Now Silly Newsroom sent me on the Don Knotts Memorial Nostalgia Tour, I knew I needed an updated picture of the Knotts star. I was shocked -- shocked, I tells ya -- to discover it missing. I went inside and demanded to know where the Don Knotts tribute had gone. The ticket takers knew nothing, so I spoke to the manager. He was not sure where the star had gone, but he sent me up the street to the Morgantown Visitors' Center.

While no one there really knew the whereabouts of Don Knotts' Memorial plaque, my visit was fortuitously timed. The front of the Visitors' Center was dedicated to a large, biographical, shoestring display honouring Morgantown's favourite son. That report is documented in A Tribute to Don Knotts ► Morgantown's Favourite Son, so there's no needed to repeat it here.

Maybe it was last year's Not Now Silly Investigative Report -- or maybe it had just been returned on schedule after it had been repaired -- but I am delighted to report that the Don Knotts Memorial Star is back in its place of honour in front of the Metropolitan Theatre.

I'll be returning to Morgantown next month, possibly twice, on the Sunrise to Hamilton Road Trip for Nuptials. Not Now Silly will use the time to investigate what's new in the world of Don Knotts.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Murder and Morning Television

299 Queen Street West became the CHUM/City Building.
There are some news stories that hit harder than others. That describes yesterday, which left me bereft.

Back in the '90s, as many of you know, I was a News Writer for BreakfastTelevision on Toronto's Citytv. In many ways BT was, and still is, the template for almost every newsy, happy talk, morning show since.

However, not many people know that before I started writing news for CityPulse, I was hired at Citytv as a Security Guard. For several years I worked at the front desk in the lobby for 12 hour shifts. It was 2 weeks of days followed by 2 weeks of nights, both 9-9. Night shifts were easy. Once an hour I would walk around inside the locked 5-story building, rattling doorknobs and taking note of who was still working.

Day shifts were a whole 'nothing thing. One could be called upon to do anything and everything, from guarding talent live on the air on the sidewalk to finding a way to sneak mega-stars in and out of the building (which is why there is video footage of me and George Harrison doing a Walk & Talk; a story still to be written).

Any number of things could go wrong while doing live segments, all of them out of my control. Luckily nothing ever happened on one of my shifts. However, while setting up for live segments, I witnessed first-hand how people had a strange, proprietary interest in our on air personalities. Maybe because they came into everybody's living room, people felt they were approachable in ways that, say, Hollywood celebrities are not.

Whenever we were out in the field, the hard part was getting rid of all the people wanting to talk to the talent as we were about to go live. The potential for someone stumbling into the shot was always great. I stopped more than one person from walking up to David Onley while he was delivering the weather.

The Now Now Silly Newsroom chooses not to post the videos of this heinous act. If you absolutely have to see it, it can be found at: Vester Lee Flanagan: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know, which has some other good info.

One thing I never considered were guns. Because there are far fewer guns in circulation in Canada, it would never have entered my mind.

A screen cap from the gunman's perspective
When the news flashed across the Not Now Silly Breaking News Desk yesterday, I did as most people: started channel flipping to learn as much as I could. What was this? Domestic Terrorism? Foreign Terrorism? A grudge against a news department? A grudge against a tee vee station? Domestic violence? A Right Wing whack job? Left Wing whack job? Plain old whack job?

None of the above. It was Workplace Violence by a whack job, a very narrow category. A disgruntled employee held a grudge for 2 years before he finally went off yesterday. The gunman's rambling manifesto mentions grievances against the station and the 2 employees killed. He claimed to have been radicalized by the murder of 9 Black folk in a Charlestown church in June and described himself as a "human powder keg" ... "just waiting to go BOOM!!!!"

For maximum effect, the murders were timed to occur when the reporter was live, and for a while the footage was played on a loop on CNN before cooler heads prevailed and they yanked it off the air.

However, there were greater horrors to come. The assassin posted his own version of the murders on Facebook from his point of view. While both Twitter and Facebook suspended his accounts almost immediately, the video had already escaped into the wild and there is no pulling it back. Ever.

I have viewed all the video there is to see, so you don't have to. It's not a macho thing. It's a newsman thing. While it is the most chilling video I've ever seen, because you know what's coming but it takes almost 30 seconds for it to happen, it's not the worst video I've ever watched. That would be a tie between footage of the massacres in Rwanda and brains all over Highway 427 after a car crash, which the cameraman kept shooting and framing artistically and lovingly, even though he knew there was no way the footage would ever make it to air. I had to watch it to see what we could put on the air.

So, I watched the footage made by the gunman, knowing it would not be the worst thing I've ever seen. However, I had no idea how close to home it would hit.

I only watched it once (because once is enough), but can describe the entire thing. Vester Flanagan made Rookie Mistake #1: The camera is tilted to portrait, not landscape. As he moves closer to his targets, he adjusts the zoom, in and then out again. Then you see his hand holding the gun enter the frame. It moves from one person to another, as if he can't believe no one's paid any attention to him yet. Cameraman Adam Ward has panned off to the right and has his back turned to Flanagan. Alison Parker is so focused on interviewing Vicki Gardner, of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, that she doesn't even notice the danger as Flanagan waves the gun back and forth in what may have been her peripheral vision. Then the shooting begins.

I've been there! I've guarded live shots!! I have stood right there!!!

I spent the rest of the day shivering and reliving that footage in my head. This one hit a lot closer to home and a lot closer than I expected when I started following the story.

►►► R.I.P. ◄◄◄
Alison Parker and Adam Ward
both described as having a very bright future. 

Launching Throwback Thursday with The Westerfield Journals

RECENTLY REDISCOVERED: These are the pages in my journal I thinking
aloud before I have my first-ever interview for my first-ever writing job.

I must have impressed because I was hired for Record Week soon afterwards.
Back in the day, long before there was a computer on every desk, I kept a journal. 

I now have more than a dozen of them weighing down one of my shelves. They are all a multi-media hodgepodge of words, collages, to do lists, calendars, phone numbers, and naked, uninhibited thoughts. Just the usual, yannow?

I've recently posted a few of the pages of my journal on my facebookery and people seem to like them. My friend (and former workmate at Island Records) Kathy Hahn reminded me how much she loved reading through my journals and how they anticipated internet postings, but in an analog format. It was a truly Smack My Head moment. I had never considered that before, but she's absolutely right. Page after page of my journals mimic what I would later try to recreate on the innertubes.

In college I wrote a regular column called "Octoroon Expressway" for the alternative
newspaper. The journals have lots of collages made from 4 for a Quarter booth pics.
Maybe it's a side-effect of aging, but I've been rifling through my past a lot lately. With my journals it's been fun to see what I had written years ago. Some of it I remember writing. A lot of it I had forgotten about totally. Some of it I wouldn't dare publish today, despite it being obvious humour that more obviously failed. I clearly had no standards back then. Now I have some.

Several years ago an unnamed friend at an unnamed publishing company was convinced a compilation of my journal pages would make an interesting book. It was something I had never considered before, but she convinced me to go through all of my journals and highlight interesting pages with Post It Notes. She thought some pages could be published "as is" while some would need some text for context. However, she thought a compilation would provide a time capsule of the era.

I did as she asked and then packed all my journals and sent them to her. She had them for so long that became worried that I'd never get them back. Whenever I'd request them, she'd tell me that she thinks she had her editor convinced, just give her a little more time. Eventually, the publisher passed on the project and I finally got my journals back. She had them for almost 2 years.

My staff photographer was longtime friend Steve Feldman
Now, as I launch a new totally original feature (because no one has ever used the expression Throwback Thursday before), I thought it would be nice to show a few pages from my journals every once in a while.

My new totally original feature Throwback Thursday will be, like my many journals, a hodgepodge of ideas and thoughts. However, the connective tissue will be that they will all be about history, whether it's my history, or that of the world at large.

If you follow my Twitter of Facebook feeds, you will know I often exclaim that history is complicated. Hopefully, Throwback Thursday will simplify some of that complexity.

Throwback Thursday will provide a bit of fun for me as well. I'm looking at it as an archaeological project, whether I'm mining my own life, or digging up little-known facts and events from history.

So, dear readers, tune into the Not Now Silly Newsroom every Thursday at this time for a look back on people, places, and events that will delight, infuriate, or simply confound you.

Two journal pages that describe a Paul McCartney concert in Toronto, followed by a Bob
Marley concert in Detroit the next day, and being hassled by the cops in Southfield, Michigan.

The gal in the photographs only went out with me for my Paul McCartney All Access passes. We never dated again.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Linton Kwesi Johnson ► A Monday Musical Appreciation

Celebrating a birthday today is Linton Kwesi Johnson, the first Dub Poet. I first became aware of him through Island Records Canada, which I worked for in the '70s, and he was already a force in Britain. In 2012, according to the The Guardian:
Father of dub poetry Linton Kwesi Johnson will join names including Harold Pinter, JG Ballard and Doris Lessing as winner of the Golden PEN award, for a lifetime's distinguished service to literature.

Known for his controversial poem "Inglan Is A Bitch", and for "Di Great Insohreckshan", a response to the 1981 Brixton riots in which he stated "It is noh mistri / we mekkin histri", Johnson writes what he calls "dub poetry", a blend of reggae music and verse written in a Jamaican-London vernacular. Often performing with the Dennis Bovell Dub Band, he has been writing and performing since the mid-1970s. In 2002, he was the second living poet, and the only black poet, to be included in the Penguin Modern Classic Series.

Linton Kwesi Johnson accepting his Golden PEN award

Johnson was chosen by the trustees of English PEN to receive the honour. President and author Gillian Slovo described him as "an artistic innovator, a ground-breaker who has used poetry to talk politics and who first gave voice to, and who continues to give voice to, the experience of moving country and of living in this one".

Johnson himself said he was "surprised and humbled" to win the prize, because his poetry is from the "little tradition" of Caribbean verse. "I hope that by conferring on me this award, English PEN will involve more black writers in its important work and that more black writers will support English PEN," he said.

His British Council Literature page says, in part:
He joined the Black Panther movement in 1970, organising a poetry workshop and working with Rasta Love, a group of poets and percussionists. He joined the Brixton-based Race Today Collective in 1974. His first book of poems, Voices of the Living and the Dead, was published by the Race Today imprint in 1974. His second book, Dread, Beat An' Blood (1975) includes poems written in Jamaican dialect, and was released as a record in 1978. He is widely regarded as the father of 'dub poetry', a term he coined to describe the way a number of reggae DJs blended music and verse. Johnson maintains that his starting point and focus is poetry, composed before the music, and for this reason he considers the term 'dub poetry' misleading when applied to his own work. He recorded several albums on the Island label, including Forces of Victory (1979), Bass Culture (1980), LKJ In dub (1980) and Making History (1984) and founded his own record label - LKJ - in the mid-1980s, selling over two million records worldwide. 

According to John Dougan's Artist Biography at All Music:
Although he has only released one album of new material in the last ten years, and virtually retired from the live stage after his 1985 tour, Linton Kwesi Johnson remains a towering figure in reggae music. Born in Kingston, Jamaica and raised in the Brixton section of London, Johnson invented dub poetry, a type of toasting descended from the DJ stylings of U-Roy and I-Roy. But whereas toasting tended to be hyperkinetic and given to fits of braggadocio, Johnson's poetry (which is what it was -- he was a published poet and journalist before he performed with a band) was more scripted and delivered in a more languid, slangy, streetwise style.
But, as always, it's all about The Music:

The Monday Musical Appreciation is a brand new Not Now Silly feature, bringing insight into the music that turns me on.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Donald Trump, Demagoguery, and The National Shrine of the Little Flower

The National Shrine of the Little Flower, © Headly Westerfield
Back when I was still writing for NewsHounds under the nom de plume of Aunty Em Ericann, I famously compared Glenn Beck to Father Charles Coughlin, one of 'Merka's biggest demagogues.

That was then. These days the biggest Merkin Demegogue is Donald J. Trumpolini.

In November of 2009 I wrote about growing up in Detroit:
Because of its majestic feel, I always loved when we drove up Woodward. At 12 Mile Road, on the northeast corner, stands a church that attracted my attention even as a Jewish child. It’s just so beautiful despite, or because of, the iconography. The National Shrine of the Little Flower really is a gorgeous building and seeing it as a child started me off on an appreciation of architecture that continues to this day.

On the opposite corner sprawls Roseland Park Cemetery. I mention this graveyard for one reason: whenever we passed this corner some of my older relatives would spit a “patooey” as we crossed 12 Mile. Because some of the older Jews in my family still held Old World values and superstitions, I had always assumed it was some curse to protect against the dead.

It was only years later, when I began to understand both architecture and politics, did I come to learn that this monument to Jesus Christ at the Shrine of the Little Flower was also a monument and a shrine to, and built by, Father Charles Coughlin, one of the most rabid anti-Semites to ever have his own radio show. At his height he is said to have had 40 million listeners. 
Beck responded, disingenuously, that because their politics were so totally different, there's no way he could be compared to Father Charles Coughlin. But, there's actually nothing in the definition about one's politics:
dem-uh-gog, -gawg noun
  1. a person, especially an orator or political leader, who gains power and popularity by arousing the emotions, passions, and prejudices of the people.
    2. (in ancient times) a leader of the people.
verb (used with object), demagogued, demagoguing.
  1. to treat or manipulate (a political issue) in the manner of a demagogue; obscure or distort with emotionalism, prejudice, etc.
verb (used without object), demagogued, demagoguing.
  1. to speak or act like a demagogue.
My submission for a Trumpolini bumper sticker
If the coif fits, Donald J. Trump wears it. He has now become Merka's biggest demagogue, and in such a short time, too.

It started with his offensive comments about Mexicans at his announcement speech, if a rambling, braggadocios, and at times, incoherent word salad worthy of Sarah Palin can be called a speech. He's too rich and busy for Political Correctness, which can be reduced to a bumper sticker: TRUMP 2016: RUDE AS I WANNA BE.

Of course Trump was expected to attack his GOP opponents. To be perfectly honest, the Left Wing has been serving popcorn at his verbal jibes against Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham, Carla Fiorina, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, and Rick Perry. It's all in good clean fun, provided you're not one of them or their supporters. However, when Donald Trump attacked John McCain, even the Reich Wing of the party blanched, until they realized it didn't hurt him at all. That's when they realized Donald's Demagoguery was actually working. Supporting Trump, hoping to get his sloppy seconds when he finally flames out, are Ted Crux and Mike Huckabee.

Who could have predicted he'd sue Univision just as the campaign was starting? Who ever expected Trump to attack Heidi Klum? Or, Secretariat? More to the point, who expected him to bite the Fox "News" Channel hand that feeds his enormous ego? If that weren't enough, his misogynist comments about Megyn Kelly were almost enough to make Andrew Dice Clay blush.

Yet, so far, Donald Trump has defied gravity. Nothing he says, no matter how stupid or offensive, seem to be bringing him back to earth. His poll numbers continue to climb as he "gains power and popularity by arousing the emotions, passions, and prejudices of the people." That's the textbook definition of demagogue, folks.

Sadder still is that nothing has really changed in the decades since Father Charles Coughlin and his divisive hate speech thrilled a large portion of the nation. Everything old is new again.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Announcing A Road Trip To Canada

Fans of my research road trips have a brand new reason to celebrate. The fun's not over just yet. The next marathon road trip is called The Sunrise To Hamilton Road Trip for Nuptials. 

A dear friend in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, is getting married and I will be standing up for him, tuxedo and all.

Because this will be the first time I've been back to Canada in a decade, I'll be spending a few extra days in Toronto visiting 2/3rds of my children.

I have also been in contact with my dear friend Barbette Kensington, who is helping me throw a public get-together at Lola, 40 Kensington Avenue, Toronto, on September 16th. Click HERE to R.S.V.P.

There's an outside possibility that I'll have to go to Canton Township again to interview someone who wasn't available in July. We'll see how that gowes as it goes, but that's why it's on the Google Map at left. Otherwise, it'll be the same route coming and going.

Because of the topography and the vagaries of the Eisenhower Highways System, it looks like I will be passing directly through Morgantown, West Virgina, once again. By the time I'm done, the people I know in that berg will be sick of me.

There won't be any time on this trip to make arrangements to visit people along the route. However, don't forget the get-together on September 16th in Toronto's Kensington Market.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Road Trips,Writer's Block, and the Uncommon Cold ► Unpacking The Writer

So many things I can waste my time on when I should be writing
If you've only been following along at the Not Now Silly Newsroom, there's not been a lot to follow since I began the 3rd Annual Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research. Apologies.

While I had great plans for updates all along the trip, I only managed to keep my Facebookery and Twitter feeds up to date, sorta, more or less, mostly less. The Not Now Silly Newsroom took a back seat because, frankly, it was just too easy to pull out a phone, splash a few pics into the mix, and fool myself into thinking I've kept my readers in the loop. I know better because there are some readers who only get their Not Now Silly news from the World's #1 Not Now Silly news source.

Moreover, my cute little [paid for] phone app failed, so I couldn't update the Not Now Silly Newsroom in real time. It sounds like I am making excuses -- and I guess I am -- but it seemed that setting up the laptop was an ordeal. Three separate times I set up at the Starbucks at 10 Mile and Greenfield (Oak Park, Michigan), when my phone would ring and I'd have to pack it all up to meet someone from my research files.

[This particular Starbucks is known to the coffeenoscenti as Mel Farrbucks because it's on the site of his former car dealership. In just the last month Mel Farr died. ►►► R.I.P. ◄◄◄] 

In terms of material for The Not Now Silly Newsroom, this trip provided more stories [yet to be written], on a variety of topics, than any previous Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research. Coming soon: stories on the Viola Liuzzo Playground; Michigan's crazy MMJ Laws, Dab Wars, and the Marijuana Movement; The Shrine of the Little Flower and the anti-Semitic Demagogue who built it; a Don Knotts-Morgantown Update; and another action-packed Pastoral Letter to my childhood friend, Pastor Kenny Wilson, with whom I managed to squeeze in an all-too-short reunion after more than 45 years apart.

Bouncing around in the very back of my brain is a possible article of things I witnessed in cheap motels. Due to 'Merkin 'Ceptionalism, there are families living full-time in motels across this country. Seeing children so used to motel life that they talk to arriving strangers was a shock, with more shocks to come. This article will require more research and, quite possibly, more road trips.

However, I also have to admit to several disappointments on this trip: Because of various problems [see below] I was forced to skip several stops on my itinerary: The Harriet Tubman Museum in Macon, Georgia; the Gilchrist Block Club, because no one answered; all my Jim Bloor side-trips; The Old Slave Mart Museum in Charleston, South Carolina; an overnight in St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest continually inhabited city in the United States; and a quick trip over to Oveido, Florida, to meet a guy I've known online for decades, but have never met. All jettisoned in the end.

However, to be perfectly honest, my biggest regret on this trip is that Mark Koldys refused to take up my very public request to help write the Last Chapter of The Johnny Dollar Wars. Not only had I hoped to finally meet the hypocritical and cowardly MoFo, but I wanted to gain some closure and insight into why a former Wayne County Prosecutor would head a coterie of cyber-bullies who attacked me almost daily for more than 3 years. I guess I'll have to write the last chapter alone.

Another visit to Coffee Jr. High School. What a difference a year makes!
Where was I? Oh, that's right. I was excuse-making.

I no sooner left Canton for my return trip than I got sick. After the first night I merely felt stuffed up and told my hosts that it felt as if I was having a pollen reaction, even though I've never had one of those before. It didn't feel like I had a cold.

At my next stop, Morgantown, West Virginia, I needed a nasal mist because I could barely catch air, but it still didn't feel like a cold. I went to sleep in a cheap motel and woke up with one of the worst colds I have ever had in my life. I rolled around in bed for a few hours feeling miserable before I realized I still had 15.5 hours of driving ahead of me.

I barely remember the rest of the trip home. With each mile, the cold got worse. Then, because I wasn't challenged enough, the A/C in the car started to work intermittently. It would go from frozen to having to open the windows if I didn't want to suffocate from the heat. There was no Mr. Inbetween. Hot. Cold. Hot. Cold. It was a recipe for catastrophic illness.

When I finally got home I crawled into bed and stayed there for an entire week. Between swigging Nytol like it was the cure for life, and changing my t-shirt every few hours because I'd sweat right through them, I know I put a few dinners on the table for Pops. It was difficult doing that and still staying as far away from him as possible because I didn't want to dose him with whatever I had.

Funny tangent with a not-so-funny ending: A few months back I finally demanded that Ian Christie, of Webitez, set a date on which the site would finally be finished after agreeing to build it a year ago. I took that as a FINAL DROP DEAD date and actually put it into my calendar as a daily, repeating appointment that said GO NUTS ON IAN. It went off just as I started the 3rd Annual Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research. Every single day on the 3rd Annual Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research I was reminded that Ian allowed another deadline to pass. By the time I got home, I was already primed to kick his ass. Then he gave me the perfect excuse.

You can read the result of that saga in Webbitez Bitez ► A Consumer Report. However, here's the takeaway: to write that I post I pulled myself out of a sickbed. At the time it seemed like a Herculean effort to slam words together and to finally write everything about Ian Christie I had been holding back for months.

The Shrine of the Little Flower
Then I collapsed back into my bed for the remainder of the week.

Here's the other, even sadder, takeaway: Foolishly, especially after Ian had disappointed me so many times in the past year, I still put all my Not Now Silly Newsroom eggs in the Webbitez's Bullshit Basket. When that fell apart, it felt as if all the wind had been taken out of my sails. I'd stare at the computer, but I couldn't seem to write a word.

I'd sort and resort the pictures I took on the 3rd Annual Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research, but I couldn't seem to attach any words to them. I'd stare at black pages in my notebooks hoping to get inspired, without any luck. I'd pull up the blogger software only to be reminded that I wanted to be on Word Press template under my own domain name by now. So, then I'd go look at Word Press templates for hours until I could no longer remember which ones I liked and which I hated.

Then, I'd do it all over again.

It's been a long time since I've had real Writer's Block like this. This came from a deep, dark hole. Usually it's really just a matter of procrastination, not staring into a blank abyss, hitting the brick wall of depression. I felt incapable of putting down any words whatsoever. That realization didn't help the downward spiral.

My entire adult life has been spent writing because I am a writer. Now I didn't even want to write. It was a crisis of confidence. Sure, I need to write, but do people even care what I write about?

Then it came time to produce my weekly Friday Fox Follies for PoliticusUSA. Fibs, Frankenstein, and Fabulosity was a lot of fun to write, but -- more importantly  it acted as a brain-cleaner, clearing out all the cobwebs that built up since I left on the 3rd Annual Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research.

One good thing is that during this time I realized that the Not Now Silly Newsroom had grown stale. I've been jotting down a few ideas to refresh the site. As well, I'm still looking at Word Press templates. Since I'll probably have to purchase it, I'm being very careful with this choice. I've had to live with my Blogger choice a lot longer than I wanted. I'm also trying to see whether I can figure out, on my own, how to transfer all the posts here to a new site. Apparently it IS doable.

Not that writing has been easy, mind you. This post was begun Friday afternoon (right after my Friday Fox Follies) and, as I complete the final edit, and drop some 'art' onto the page, it's now early Tuesday. If I keep editing this sucker it'll never get posted. And, I'll squeeze all the life out of it. It's time to let it go.

However, I'm on the road to recovery. What would you like to read about next?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Webbitez Bitez ► A Consumer Report

Avoid this company at all costs
Ladies and gentlemen of the internets: 

I would like to warn the world about a Web Design company operating out of Ireland called Webbitez. 

A year ago I met the owner Ian Christie through my sister. In a general and casual discussion about the Not Now Silly Newsroom, I mentioned how everyone told me I should abandon the Blogger platform in favour of a Word Press template in order to better monetize my site. However, I stated that what has kept me from doing so were the hundreds of posts already made, which I would lose.

I’ve had this discussion with several people over the years. They all shrugged and said, "Oh, well." 

However, Christie was the only person who told me that I would not have to lose any of my previous posts; they could be imported to the new site and he knew exactly how to do it.

That’s when we entered into an agreement that he would build my web site and import all my previous posts into the new site under my own domain name. I paid him 50% of the agreed upon fee as a down payment, the balance to be paid when the web site was finished. We shook on it at his insistence.

I could go over chapter and verse of why, a year later, I’m still trying to get a web site out of him, but it’s all water under the bridge now. He has used my anger at his obstinacy and inaction to withdraw from the project, blaming me for being rude.

I have every right to be rude. I have waited a year for my web site to be finished and he has made excuse after excuse on why it’s not been finished. Among those excuses are that he had to go to school to get his degree and that was his first priority. Then why did he take on the project? 

However, my favourite excuse is that his server was attacked by Russian hackers and he was forced to rebuild his clients’ web sites at his own time and expense.

Aside from the fact that this is EXACTLY the service one would expect from a web host, Russian hackers? Really?

Time after time I have attempted to resolve these issues and all I got were cryptic responses. My direct questions went unanswered or he would point to previous answers that didn’t really answer my direct questions. It was all passive-aggressive games.

However, today was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Six days ago, while I was traveling, he told me the site was finished. Three days ago I asked for the URL so I could see my site. After waiting a full 3 days I finally sent the following message:

Please read this with an open mind, something you've shown little inclination to do in our previous exchanges.

Had you treated me as a CLIENT from the very beginning, we never would have had any of the problems we had. Instead, you treated me like something you stepped in. I maintain that you would have never have opened our LAST exchange the way you did had I been treated like a CLIENT. Nor would you have tried to make all these problems about me, or my rudeness. After a full year of inaction, I have earned the right to be as rude as I need to be.

You said where you come from people don't discuss money. Where I come from people discuss money when they've been screwed out of it.

You may consider my down payment a small amount of money, barely worthy of your consideration. However, to me it was a sizable chunk of my disposable income, which I actually made clear at the time. It's all relative, isn't it?

However, even that shouldn't matter. We both entered into this agreement as intelligent men, or so I thought. There was even a handshake at your insistence. Remember?

And now we have come to this latest impasse. Several days ago you told me the site is finished. I asked for the URL. I'm still waiting for a reply. Would you have treated a CLIENT this way? Answer honestly, Ian. Would any of this have happened had you simply treated me like a CLIENT, instead of a source of frustration?

In our last conversation you told me that you will refund my down payment, but will withdraw all continued web support. Will you also refund the money I spent for a year’s worth of my own domain name, at your insistence, that I was unable to use? You further told me you will not host my site, which will be an added expense I had not anticipated. [Thanks for blowing my budget and making me scramble at the last minute to locate a web host, something I have no experience in doing.] As well, you now refuse to help me with the SEO, which was one of the things I was most excited about. Furthermore, if you ever produce the URL to my site so I can simply take a look after waiting all this time, I suspect you will present me with a fait accompli, on which I have had almost no input and will not be allowed to request any changes.

Just to remind you: I am the client. Imagine you were a tailor. Would you have me in for a fitting or two? Or, would you just present me with the garment when you were finished?

I honestly don't what game you're playing now. I honestly don't know why you wouldn't just respond to my request for the URL. Did I forget to say "Please and thank you" or is there some other agenda here?

Just let me know what hoops I still have to jump through so we can conclude this business transaction. Or, has it been your intention all along to not conclude this business transaction and this is merely your passive-aggressive way to get me to walk away?
Mr. Passive-Aggressive
He sent a return message that made it appear as if he understood what I was saying, but then, very soon after that, he started in with his passive-aggressive bullshit all over again.

I asked him several times this morning for the URL that would allow me to see my site. He kept saying I had the URL already. No, I didn’t. I had the URL to a COMING SOON landing page. Finally, after asking for the URL several times he admitted that:

As is your other blog, page has an admin section. You get access to that when I suggested we talk Thursday you would have seen that. But you as always jump head first and argue pointless issues. But yes I'm wrong.
But, you see, I never asked for admission to the Admin Section. I asked over and over again for the URL that would allow me to view the web site that he said was finished.

So . . . why couldn't he have said this from the very beginning? Why did I have to ask over and over again to see my site and all he would do was answer with some cryptic bullshit about I already have the URL. No, I did not have the URL which would allow me to see my site, just the landing page.

And, let's talk about that landing page, because it's a perfect example of the kind of crazy bullshit I've had to deal with up to now.

Somehow I was supposed to be satisfied with this ugly page.
Last year, when this entire process began, I asked him to create a COMING SOON page for me. I was excited to be finally blogging under my own domain name and wanted to promote it. He never produced that page. 

And, he hung me out to dry with my readers because I promised month after month that a new site under my own domain was COMING SOON. In fact, I stopped mentioning it because it made me look foolish.

In fact, I stopped mentioning the entire project months ago. Originally we had scheduled a weekly Wednesday Skype (still in my calendar) to go over the web site. After a while he stopped answering my Skypes. Once I got hold of him and he went off on me, making me feel so guilty, that I didn't contact him again for months. Because it seemed to be such an unpleasant task, I avoided it completely.

However, recently, I convinced him that I was truly the aggrieved party here and not him (and THAT took typing up a blue streak before he would finally admit that, paraphrasing, "Oh, yeah, maybe a year to wait for a web site might have been a tad over the line."). That's when I demanded an action plan (which in the end he didn't stick to either) on when EXACTLY my web site would be finished. Then I demanded, as a show of good faith, he do the first thing I asked him to do a year ago: Give me a COMING SOON page. He argued against it, told me I didn't need a COMING SOON page, but I made it a condition of going forward. I identified 2 Not Now Silly logo graphics that he could use on a COMING SOON page. I never assumed he'd use both of them. That was just stupid on his part.

This is the correct aspect ratio.
Stupider still was how he screwed up the aspect ration of both graphics. There's nothing that crawls up my back faster than someone who screws up the aspect ratio of a graphic and he did it to two of mine. So, I told him that it wasn't right and it was *NOT* something I would share with my readers. I had to explain it to him because he didn't seem to understand what I meant by aspect ratio. 

However, he blew up. Again, he told me that a COMING SOON page was unimportant. And, how could I dare criticize something he worked so hard over. And, that making a COMING SOON page was just a waste of time when there was a web site to build that he already had a year to build.

I let it go. I said nothing in response. I thought a COMING SOON page was a dead issue. Then, without warning, he came back with a new COMING SOON page, despite telling me he wouldn't bother. And, it was ugly, with a capital U. [See above.]

Why would I want a stained floor background? Why would I want an email sign-up, something we never discussed? Why wasn't the whole thing centered properly on the page? Why wasn't the email sign-up centered on that other part that wasn't centered? Why are there several ugly symbols for my Twitter, Blogspot, and Facebook accounts? Why aren't those ugly graphics hyperlinked so that they actually have a function? Why not my YouTube channel as well? Why wasn't I consulted anywhere along the way?

While there was all kinds of wrong with this COMING SOON page, I kept my criticism to myself this time, because I had already seen how he was unwilling to accept any criticism from the CLIENT. Everything he does is so fucking great, you see. He made a point to tell me it had taken 8 hours of work, something that I could have done here in the Not Now Silly Newsroom in 2 minutes. TWO FUCKING MINUTES!!!

Today I offhandedly said I thought it was ugly, and he went nutz on me again:

ME: All I know is that when I click on [the domain name] I get the COMING SOON page. I don't care about that ugly page. I want to see the web site. I need the URL for that.

IAN: Oh[,] man. Seriously[,] did you just type that? Ugly? Lol. Good man Headley. [sic] Keep up the insults from a man that is so great full. [sic]
BTW: He never seemed to spell my name right and, he's absolutely right, I'm an ingrate because I dared insist on quality.

The IM continues:
ME: You expected me to share that COMING SOON page with my readers?

I have higher standards than that.

IAN: No I don't. When did I say that? Nobody shares a coming soon page but if you knew anything about SEO you would know why it's there.
[After telling me several times it was unneeded.] Regardless of what I say I'm just wrong. So I'm wrong.

As is your other blog, page has an admin section. You get access to that when I suggested we talk Thursday you would have seen that. But you as always jump head first and argue pointless issues. But yes I'm wrong.

And even spending a day on that graphic for you, you insult insult insult. Read your messages, that's all my fault. Despite what I have said u continue to be an asshole.

So my point of drawing a line, well if that's drawing a line and deliberately offending my work....yes, I'm wrong to be offended for doing something for you for free and my time. Yes, indeed I'm wrong. Not you, you, you are a totally innocent bystander. By me explaining why we are at this juncture is excuses to you. Please

let's move on.

Trying to move on you'll note that he finally provided his rationale for not giving me the URL that I had asked for time and time again this morning in order that I could see my site. In a very roundabout way, without actually coming out and saying so -- which is how he passive-aggressive answers everything -- he told me that I wouldn't get to see the site until he was damned good and ready to show me because - - and get this:
Read my messages. Read the one i sent last week where I said we would go through it together. That we needed a window to look at it TOGETHER. You have no clue how to view it and that was the purpose of the window.
Are you kidding me, Ian?
WTF? I have no clue how to view a web site?  Are you fucking kidding me, Ian?

Or, did he just want to sandbag me with a fait accompli on Thursday? Did he want to give me no time to click around on MY SITE and get a feel for it from my readers' perspective? There is no logical reason why he couldn't answer me all those times I asked for the URL. There is no logical reason why he thinks I need a tourist guide to look at my own web site.

Then, on Thursday, maybe we could discuss what is right and what is wrong with the web site designed without my input and without my ever having seen it.

This is what really sticks in my craw. All morning I asked for the URL to view my site. He *NEVER* gave me the URL. He just kept telling me I already had it. Like it was a fucking treasure hunt. Eventually I figured out ON MY OWN that he was talking about the COMING SOON page.
That's just another one of his passive-aggressive games.

He did the same thing the last time we texted. He said he needed some info. I said what info. He said it was upthread. I kept looking for it, but couldn't find it on a thread miles long. I kept asking specifically what he info he wanted and he kept telling me it was already answered. It became another one of his fucking treasure hunts. He falsely insisted I knew exactly what he was talking about. After I finally found it and answered he said, "See, you knew all along." If I knew all along I would have answered when he asked!!! When I said, "You could have just told me," he said that he didn't want to patronize me by cutting and pasting it. What kind of shabby excuse is that for his passive-aggressive behaviour? Had he patronized me with a cut & paste, it would have saved us almost an hour's worth of argument. [All saved for posterity. Feel free to request the text file.]

Today, I never asked for the COMING SOON page. I asked to see my web site. I asked to see it many times. It took a very long time before he FINALLY told me that I couldn't see it until Thursday, as per his previous message. Why couldn't he have started there instead of playing another one of his passive-aggressive games where we kept going around in the same circle over and over again?

Here is what I consider the punchline to the whole story: I never told my sister what had been occurring with her friend Ian. It had nothing to do with her. However, recently she told me she was thinking of going to Ireland. Because I already knew that Ian Christie had passed another production deadline and that I would probably be forced to blast him when I returned home, I decided to bring her into the loop, so she wasn't sandbagged. She thanked me for the info, told me that blood was thicker than water, and asked to be kept up to date. 

What made him think my sister would take his side?
Today, when it all started to go sideways -- almost immediately -- I informed her as it happened. Neither of us could believe how crazy Ian had become. When I finally told him we were done and our business was concluded, my sister asked whether she could take a crack at him. At that point it was FREE KICKS, as far as I was concerned. Her message sent him into spin cycle.

First he said to me: "So now you turn *** * *** against me. That's low mate. Low." 

However, after he realized just how badly he had messed up, he started begging us to reconsider, because my sister is so very important to him. He should have treated her brother with a little more respect then. All I ever asked for was for him to fulfill his promises to me. Seems simple.
Neither my sister, nor I, would answer his IMs, nor would we accept his numerous Facebook calls, which just seemed to make him crazier. He seemed to think he could have a rational explanation for a year's worth of crazy.

He has now blamed me for destroying his friendship with my sister. Ian Christie has no sense of personal responsibility whatsoever. It's always the fault of someone else.

Anyway, internet friends: I have reams of archived conversations with this monster. Feel free to ask for them. Meanwhile, I suggest you steer clear of Webbitez. I am an extremely dissatisfied customer and would hate to see anyone else get screwed over by Ian Christie – I mean, those nasty Russian Hackers.