Virtual Vitriol

shutfixWhy are people like this?

I was hanging out on Facebook a little while ago, talking on a thread. Some of you know I like the band Phish, and the thread was about their albums and songs and their live shows, and how would you introduce someone to the band and their music?

The thread veered as threads do, a festive, fun, informal little discussion about some of the band’s albums and our initial reaction to them.

At one point I was talking about a common opinion among Phish-heads, and one I must admit personally held some credence when I was younger. The notion that longer songs are better. I was in a playful mood, so in the comment I stated it as, “Longer = Gooder.”

I know ‘gooder‘ is not a word. I can see the little red line pop under it informing me of a language breech.

So, the next comment was from someone who had not participated in the thread up until this point, either they were only lurking or they just found the conversation. Either way, their first offering to the topic was to call me out on my word usage.

I asked if he was seriously going to attempt to reprimand me in an informal conversation about the band Phish on Facebook, especially since mine was not the only non-word in the dialogue. Some folks had used words such as ‘Squicky‘ and other fun recent additions to the lexicon.

This person held their ground.

I told them they were similar to the person who would look over my shoulder at a live concert, correcting my punctuation and grammar as I attempted to keep a set-list of the songs and continue to dance my ass off at the same time.

I asked if they had written angry letters to Phish about the misspelling of their name, and some of the words they use in their songs, such as ‘thunk.’

I pointed out that the band itself has some song titles which are not real words, ‘Gotta Jiboo‘ and ‘Faht‘ for example. But, I continued, I was pretty certain this person had corrected the song titles on the back of their CD case, properly renaming the songs with their red permanent marker.

I told this person I know it’s not a word, but I was certain in the context people would be able to grok the intent. It’s not like I made up a word like ‘frundlesporkled‘ or something vague and indecipherable. Gooder is not a word, but you can pretty easily deduce it’s meaning.

This person must be a real blast at parties.

The thing that irked me, though, was this was the first thing they added to the conversation. They had sat on the sides reading along without adding a comment, an opinion or even a ‘me too’ to the discussion. They didn’t speak up until they saw me use a non-word.

Why are people like this? I don’t get it. Sometimes I think its envy or something similar, these folks can’t produce an original thought within their tiny skulls to save their life. So they take out their frustration on anyone who dares to say anything out of the ordinary. I don’t know.

Shakespeare made up words. I told the person I admired their rigid adherence to the guidelines of the language, but this is not school, and ‘you are not my editor.’

I don’t know if it made this person feel better or superior to point out my foible. I’m not sure, I just don’t get people sometimes. These are the sort of people who write YouTube comments and hang out on reddit.

Speaking of reddit, I had a similar run in there. It was pretty much the last straw. I rarely check into reddit anymore just because there are too many small-minded nasty people who only value an opinion if it is vitriolic.

I was talking in a thread about the TV show Community, and the return of the shows creator and executive producer Dan Harmon.

I commented that I was glad he was returning, and seeing the way the show faltered when NBC and Sony replaced him was a vindication of sorts for Mr. Harmon’s unconventional approach to making good television.

This one redditor tore into me; a lengthy, nasty soliloquy rife with expletives and sentences in all caps. Besides ridiculing me for daring to defend him, this redditor went on to call Mr. Harmon ‘King Baby,’ and other colorful descriptions.

I tried to clarify my position, but it fell on deaf ears. Sometimes you have to know when to cut your losses and move on. Pick your battles, if you will.

The next day I check into reddit and see a long thread of conversation has branched off from the conversation I was in. And who decided to pop in and comment but Dan Harmon himself, who had some scathing words for this nasty redditor.

And here the real hilarious thing was how this redditor’s attitude changed. ‘King Baby‘ was now being addressed as ‘Mr. Harmon, sir.‘ And near the end of the conversation this redditor offered to buy Dan Harmon a drink if the occasion ever presented itself.

I told this redditor after all this was over, I hoped he enjoyed his beer with ‘King Baby.’ He tried to defend his change of tone as it being in a completely different conversation.

“An entirely different conversation that grew out of our discussion,” I said, “The word we use around here for such a change of heart is ‘Two-Faced’. Do not even bother replying,  I’m done with you, I will not read or respond.”

And I didn’t. I let that thread die, and I rarely even look at reddit anymore because it is filled to capacity with this petty, nasty, duplicitous, miserable sort of person.

So, why are people like this? Are some people unable to find any sort of contentment unless they are putting someone else down?

I don’t know, but there seems to be way too many of this sort walking around on the planet.

I got a genuine laugh, an out loud laugh, from this redditor and the way his tone changed. The vitriol he aimed at me for defending the guy turn obsequious when the man himself showed up in the thread.

It reminds me of the saying, ‘Those who say it can’t be done should not interrupt the ones who are doing it.’ It’s not a direct analogy, but is the same sort of tiny-minded person.

I know my punctuation is suspect at best, and my penmanship has turned to chicken scratch, but this is the best I can write down the songs and still enjoy the concert. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to read it. You are free to write the set-list any damn way you wish. You are entitled to your opinion, but you aren’t required to share, and I really don’t care to hear it.

Good day to you, sir. Kindly shut your clamoring trap, and let me get back to dancing.


The Return of the Bozos


Ken Kesey

Today in Phishtory- Thursday, 08/14/1997
Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, Darien Center, NY

In 1964 Ken Kesey and his band of Merry Pranksters first took to the road aboard a bus named ‘Furthur’. LSD was still legal and relatively unknown. Kesey and company took it upon themselves to travel the country, turning people on, changing many minds, and generally breaking Americans out of a decade of conformity and ennui.

After traveling to a Beatles concert, they became aware of the power of live music and the grip that performers could maintain over their audience.

In the middle 1960’s The Merry Pranksters hosted a series of gatherings called ‘The Acid Tests’. The Warlocks (later to be known as the Grateful Dead) were the house band for many of these events.

Ken and the Pranksters are generally regarded as starting the hippie movement, and along with Kerouac’s ‘On The Road’, popularizing the idea of breaking out of ones comfort zone and traveling the country.

So it was a sort of meeting of different worlds when Ken Kesey came out on stage calling for his Merry Pranksters. (“Where are the bozos? It’s been two years since anyone has seen the Bozos”. The two years, of course, referring to the end of the Grateful Dead).

Many people take this as the ‘stamp of approval’ by Kesey, the Pranksters, the hippies, the dead-heads, et al– that Phish were the true successors of the jam band scene. I don’t think it’s wrong to say that, but I think it is also entirely possible that the Pranksters just saw a party waiting to be crashed, and a few thousand fresh minds open to expansion.

Hear the whole show here:

further reading:
Tom Wolfe ‘The Electric Kool-aid Acid Tests’:

Terrapin Station

phishToday In Phishtory – Sunday, August 9th, 1998
Virginia Beach Amphitheater, Virginia Beach, VA

It was the three-year anniversary since the death of Jerry Garcia. There was a feeling, and anxiousness, that Phish might acknowledge it, they would have to say something. And after two sets of great Phishiness, they came back for the encore and played Terrapin Station.

You can hear it in the crowd, you can hear the excitement, the release, the exuberance. For a long time it seemed like Phish was doing everything they could to distance and separate themselves from the Grateful Dead, if only to solidify their own identity. (Look back at some 80’s set lists, they played a lot more Dead in the early, early days).

But after Jerry died, things changed. I guess there was a feeling like they had to say something, and I guess the band felt it as well.

I was not at this show, but I remember getting the cassettes, and it is a great show, but the Terrapin Station tore me up. Fifteen years later it still gives me goosebumples.

hear the whole show here: