We Can Tell People to Go to Hell, and They Just Might Fall Through the Earth
What I like best about Greatsociety is that consistency has never been a primary concern. In the early days of my readership I came for the Notes on the Margin series but quickly became absorbed by all the posts that described the spermy, freakazoid, booze-addled shadow world in which Nacho Sasha was both prophet and profiteer.
I’ll be the first to admit that I fell hard for it all, but I showed up late to the party. I got on the bus right as Jez was leaving, Blue was getting side-tracked by real life, and RC was newlywed. Nacho was up alone, trying hard to make it work, turning in amplified drunken escapades one week, musings about Hollywood apes the next, then turning hard into a poignant rant against lockstep yuppie-dom. About to enter into this world myself, I consulted him for advice, thinking he’d get to it in 6-8 weeks after he finished with all the other fan mail I assumed he received on a daily basis. Instead he turned right around and graciously answered my questions about how to embark on a real life while grinding through that thing that you do to pay the rent.
Eventually he encouraged me to submit my own work, and I debuted with my first attempt at a regular gig, a column from the point of view of a single guy just out of college, attempting to be just a little higher brow than something you’d read on Something Awful, and an alternative to the “Approaching Thirty” mentality Nacho seemed to be concerned with at the time. Foreshadowing many such false starts, however, this column quickly ran out of steam and I started submitting as many random posts as Nacho did. To me, the young and eager writer, consistency seemed to be the ideal. Build the brand and draw in the repeat customers. Nacho preached this to wannabe establishment writers, but rarely did so himself. I eventually gave up on it, as well, and we pressed on, posting unpredictably, prose poems one week, relationship post-mortems the next. There’s a lot of magical, vital stuff in the archives, but, unfortunately, a dearth of specific tags to help you sort it. Ah, well, that’s all right. It’s never been about the trade paperback, only the hot ink. Output, content, don’t let this thing die! And so we overanalyze 1970s television or re-imagine Woodstock or just whine about our various injuries.
Maybe that is the GS brand. GS is that guy at the bar who is always there when you arrive and who stays after you leave, ready to catch anyone’s eye and pounce on that moment to open up. It might be a war story, a rant about the president, Americana trivia, or even a little old-fashioned nostalgia about how “you shoulda been here back when…” You don’t know what GS is gonna tell you, but you know it’s always going to be there, same bar, same stool, same deadpan tone ready to mock the status quo or dare the end of the world to come before last call.
Of course, you should never confuse us with the characters we represent. I spent my first few encounters with Nacho in person trying to live up to his persona. We had a few crazy nights but come daybreak we settled down into our truer selves, munching on pancakes or watching William H. Macy movies for no reason other than to float through the a.m. hours. We are good people, we just happen to rub elbows with the truly desperate who rarely seek to describe themselves. In DC, in New Orleans, up and down the eastern seaboard, and at times even across the pond we have sought madness for our own amusement but never succumbed to the temptation to join them onstage. We are merely the barkers, drawing attention to the sideshow. Characters like Brave Captain Harvey, James, and other dirty freaks are out there, and it may seem like we are true disciples to their awful gospel, but we are just the scribes. We are tolerant of the depraved and the tiny, tin-pan despots, but lack of condemnation should never be confused for commiseration.
At a certain point, for me, it became less about the message and the writing than the people. I’m checking in on the forums every day. It’s how I get most of my entertainment news and where I turn for internet memes. If it doesn’t reach me there, it’s probably not worth my time. Beyond that, though, these are good people whose tastes I trust, and who have harbored me through difficult times. After Hurricane Katrina, I was lost in a daze with about three dollars to my name. Nacho and Blue took me in for a brief vacation from my tragedy, distracted me with humor, starlight, and overly sweet margaritas. When I faced a similar evacuation from Hurricane Gustav, forum favorite and all-around great guy Nubbins accepted me, my girlfriend, my cat, and our tension into his home, fed us, showered us, and Guitar Hero-ed us to relief. These are brief examples, but uncommon enough in this life to make a true impression. These guys are a few of my closest brothers, helping me mature while keeping me young.
Life has been messy for all of us over the past decade, writers and forum regulars both. What’s interesting, though, is that no one is stuck where they were at the start. Whether it’s making cross-country moves in search of a better life or ponying up and taking the chance at a brain surgery, whether it’s throwing everything you’ve got behind an indie horror movie or trying your lot as an Irish werewolf in Paris, or just losing your mind and melting down, we are all changed. Like I said, GS has never been about consistency. And by the time another ten years has passed, I wouldn’t be surprised if a new generation has latched on just like I did, more eager mutants hungry for our worldview. I’m looking forward to it.