Thank You for the Suspicious Link with the Kind Words
ADAM MICHAEL LUEBKE
How many more to go, O Lord?
The only worthwhile comment I’ve received on Dear Dirty America lately was from a user called Nike Air Cheap Sale and she wrote, “You’re so cute.”
My blog’s filter marked it as spam. I almost missed it.
There are times when an honest website owner should not make a kneejerk reaction in favor of his technology. He has to know even widgets and apps make silly mistakes.
If nothing else, I like to think it was at least genuine spam. Where the spammer actually enjoys the content of this blog and wishes to express her fondness for its creator (maybe while also pitching a product and planting a suspicious link).
But that kind of tasky behavior does not surprise me. It is one troubling sign of our hectic times. A fever betraying the illness of our age, where our sins seem too small to be noticed. But they are many. And they are being recorded. They cannot be easily erased.
It is not worth anybody’s time to simply leave a sweet comment. We must always combine two or more actions to continue the feeling of moving forward. Of not missing out. One way to do that is what Miss Nike Cheap Sale did with her link. Of course she thinks my posts are cute. But links are big business, too. They carry loaded possibility. They could mean cash. You can’t expect her to miss out on that.
Cash–money flow–is something even I run low on now and again, despite being the creator of DDA, the once powerful and popular satirical blog that could spring its wit as impressively as any well-groomed and pumped bicep can flex, but now reduced, atrophied into the hairy old arm hanging off the shoulder of a retired chimpanzee. Probably the disgruntled pet of some shaman somewhere, adopted out of pity, cared for out of spite.
Real shaman or not, I only seek the supplication of genuine holy men, and only if they’re begging from God. But even so, my attempt to rustle up some money for the blog this spring fell flat. I didn’t have a prayer.
I sought to do a little fundraising campaign. Somebody from the non-jobs online boot camp told me I was killing it with my blog and that I could transform that energy into a revenue stream. “Do you know how many people you got coming here to read about Queen Elizabeth?” he asked, after he’d taken a peek at my stats.
So I really hit my email list hard. Played on their emotions by exposing mine. Heightened the tension with each successive email. I pounded their inboxes. Morning, day, and night.
My five subscribers were dismayed at first, but little by little they warmed to it, although not with any monetary support, but rather with that playful, jockeying jeer or snide comment that I could only expect from a small, but intensive satirical blog’s subscriber’s list. I took it all as good fun.
Of course they thought it was just another satirical ploy. So why not, they must have thought, let loose a cheap, nasty comment in response? Like Paul from Scotts Bluff, Nebraska replied one day three of the fundraiser: “Of course I won’t chip in $5 to help your blog. I don’t care if Bill Clinton reads it and Roseanne Barr found it offensive. How did I get on this list, anyway? TAKE ME OFF!!!”
Jokes like that. The sharpened, hardened humor my fans admire and live by.
Even my greatest fan, documented in the unfinished series The Dear Dirty America Reality Tour couldn’t find it feasible to pitch a few virtual coins into the rattling donation cup.
These are difficult times for many. Donations are wearisome in an extended global recession. Yet the more difficult the times, the more chance for desperate opportunism to actually strike some gold.
Don’t be fooled. There is prosperity all around. We’re awash in money. As a culture and society, there are so many wagging dollar bills ready to be deployed in any direction that you could fill the Panama Canal and float a honey yacht right through it and never hear her scrape the ground. You just have to get those dollars aimed your way.
I tried a slightly different tack after my fundraising ploy fell through. I pawned off an old coffee mug the infamous, exiled cultural philosopher Hubert Humdinger had sent me. SEATTLE WASHINGTON it has printed on its side. A fine mug. You can only imagine how many times Humdinger’s pale lips slid over its ledge to allow in just a sip of steaming hot Guayusa tea.
“You’re selling my mug?” he asked me over our shaky Skype connection.
“Not selling it, exactly,” I told him. “Just donating it for cash. To run the blog. It ain’t free, and it ain’t easy.”
“Who would buy that chipped up old thing?” he hollered. His teeth were big and the gaps between them ferocious up so close to the web camera.
“You’re a celebrity,” I reminded him. “Why wouldn’t somebody buy your used goods? Especially to support this blog. That’s a good cause. I’d try turning a quick sale with your underwear if you sent them to me when you’re through with them.”
“Celebrity,” he said, and sputtered his lips. “I’m no celebrity.”
“You are over here. Maybe not in your compound in northern Europe, but in America and North Korea, you’re a big deal.” It’s true. I still get questions and comments about Humdinger on a daily basis. I answer next to none of them (but I might start).
Humdinger was shaking his head. “That’s not right. I’m not a celebrity. I’m an evangelist.” His voice made my computer speakers crackle.
“A famous one,” I said. “One people celebrate and remember.”
“So you’re going to ship that mug all the way to North Korea when one of your faithful readers buys it?” he asked. “That wad of cash it’ll take to get it there, and then it’ll end by getting locked up in customs, held ransom, and probably disposed of before that poor sucker gets to actually hold it in his hands.”
The old philosopher slapped his hands onto his bare skull. “Wish I would have kept the damned thing now that I know you’re shlinging it around for money.”
Humdinger doesn’t have much knowledge when it comes to running serious blogs. I’d all but given up on this one. Years ago I’d have insisted on calling it a website. Seemed more prestigious. More reflective of where I wanted to take the project. It’s what they call ‘long term visioneering’ in offices across America. ‘Creative workplace imagineering’. And other sickening phrases like that, made ready for the mouth of the ‘one-minute manager’.
But now I call it a blog. Humdinger calls it a weblog.
Somebody once told me in strictest confidence that I’d never tell another soul that he knew a guy who had a relative whose father’s youngest sister’s son had heard it directly from his friend’s dad’s sister who was married to one of the late general marshals that the leader of North Korea, for all his faults, once called Dear Dirty America the greatest publication since George.
Well, that was a few years ago already. Back when I was keeping up on current events. Like the lifestylings of Queen Elizabeth II and Kim Kardashian, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.
You know, real people. With real success. And real goals, accomplished. People so comfortable living on this planet you’d think life’s agonies and stresses were nothing more than finely-fitted fur coats worn comfortably around their shoulders.
“Well, my coat’s too snug,” said Hubert Humdinger when I expressed those thoughts to him. “Always has been. Probably will remain so until I can take it off in the grave.”