Disunified Field Theory

I have a dream. An age at which political exhaustion takes hold. Where people realize they don't need to start paying attention to these mofos until after the baseball season ends. When American Idol-style voting systems replace the Iowa Straw poll. When Woof Bwitzer gets eaten by a shark ... I have a dream! ... and it starts when somebody decides to relegate the likes of these to the dustbin of hysteria ... O, I do have a dream ...

Garbage in, Garbage Out ...
This cosmically criminal argument by the reactionary right that government is somehow more wasteful than the consumer-mad corporate "private sector" needs to check out the waste bins of America, and count the number of times they personally make a track to their big green garbage cans per week.
We are talking about toxic waste by major corporations such as Boeing, Exxon, Raytheon, etc., where whole watersheds of groundwater, entire oceans have been poisoned by toxic wastes shed by larger corporations who lack proper governmental checks against their filthy ways and means ...
The last Tea Party focus group (i.e. debate) was this: "We don't want to change the way we live. We want to devour the world, and we want to devour it NOW!"
But hey, no worries. You could fill an entire football stadium full of these people, dress up all like members of Paul Revere and the Raiders, and it might be like going to an Oakland Raiders game, however, that's still bad sociology ... It's still 80,000 extremists versus approximately 200 million potential voters who might see things another way entirely. 
The really interesting thing is how such major corporations as Haliburton and BP were able to disinherit, capitalize and even profit from such things as an oil spill, thoughtlessly throwing more gas on the fire, so to speak, by bringing all of their angles to bear. It got to the point that a feeble government could only plea "Do no harm" when the possibility came up that their efforts to cap a broken oil well in the Gulf of Mexico could actually rupture the core of the Earth. Yeah, let's put the global interests of humanity in the hands of an elitist sect of suicidal morons who want to gut the EPA, restrict irrational zombie-technology lords, the very entities protecting the human species from total destruction, so these corporate monoliths, and the plutocrats they feed can have their cake and eat it, too.
Who should be the GOP nominee. Who cares? They can't beat Obama, not yet, based on the polls ... but it's a long way to, hell, the end of the week, not to mention election day ... Meanwhile, other than noting the DNA's inherited greed and natural ambition to serve, I can't figure out why anyone would want that job, anyway. Other than the percs. I suppose it's just a natural extension of certain deep-seated personal insecurities to want to rule the world and make people behave in a way each individual sees fit, as well as a love of country. But love of people is discussed so little with these reactionaries, and the constitution is so primarily concerned with the laws of material things, it must have something to do with love of property, which their constituents so busily hoard.  
When Did CNN Become a Shill for GOP Extremism and the Tea Party? Answer: When the world-turned-upside hate, bitterness and generalized weirdness the party has created became sufficient fodder for a CNN talking head like Wolf Blitzer, who clearly gathers his harvest in the marketplace of fear.
The biggest beneficiary of a divisive, red hot political campaign is, of course, the media, since advertising is so crucial to its survivability. CNN's worse-case-scenario mentality, as promoted by such shows as the Situation Room, make an excellent case for not only how fear sells, it promotes war in our time.
In this case, civil war. It's an information war, most of the time. At others, actual gunfire. Brother against brother. Sister against sister. Whole families torn apart by a lack of civility in the ethosphere, atmosphere and so on ... God help us. 

No Prayer for Tony Romo

Our father,
hollow be thy football,
so full of air, a waste of time
a real time-suck
because of Tony Romo
he of the Dallas Cowboys,
quarterback who blew the game.

And lead us not to Fox Sports Nation
And deliver us from car and truck and beer
commercials and media-mad Charlie Sheen
drivin' half insane ... Please give us
some bread, man ... and paint us not
in red or white or blue ... but in diverse shirts
so on Sundays we can all remember
the proper names for You.

But please let the Bears score early
in the fourth quarter, and please let
the Bulls fill market jee-m-pees anew,
And please let the Cardinals' confessional
indoor grass pipe dreams all come true ...

But keep me away from the gridiron
so the devil can drink his own
Mountain Dew. For time is for thinking,
Oh Lord, not for the dumbed-down, drunk,
lead-poisoned, Tex-pissed stupid or bored.

~ Meteor Crater, Arizona

Wellington Station

I saw you across
the commuter aisle
twitching and huffing
at Wellington Station.

I, too, am a loser
in the war. I lay
down my sword.

Set my auto alight.
Left it a funereal husk,
just a memory
to the challenges
of sunny October days.

Be still, my brother,
my angel of anxiety.
I see you gasping,
reading the news,
oh so careful
about what you touch,
what we all touch.

We meet in common
places of terror, our
shared communiques...

Oh veteran.
Oh war lord;
I lay down my arms,
I comply, I let go,
I ride smoothly
into the inner-city
bowels of tension
and glittering dreams.

Then I will take on the attire
of Napoleon's three-pointed hat.
I will curtsy, bend, that is,
into the sweet reflection
of what a peaceful city
wants to be.

The war news is hard,
ubiquitous as pearls and steel
and mobile phones.
My train runs silently,
beneath the stars and stripes
of all conquering heroes.

The Bunker Hill spire
is muted through glass
running by in the opposite,
direction. I descend
down the catwalk
of morbid hell. Silence
encloses me in a weightless
pipe of dread.

I am a monster.
I confess it all.
Just this, please,
after this night,
on the battlefield
of Boston,
will you let me
safely caress
my love, my sweet
daughter's face, or,
anything else I can keep
perfect or sane
for a whole rail yard
of days.

Let me retreat
with my bag of games,
my pen, my spear,
my telefrantic machines.
Let me walk, just one more time
into the target valley
of technology.

And though I will breathe
the very microbes of hell,
through pile drives, tunnels,
lost wheels and poisoned wells,
the endless botched catacomb
of the world you made:
Oh Wellington, allow my return
to Corsica, even Elbe, I will allow.
Where I can be at peace.

With who? Myself, at least,
as I wait for the night
to fall upon your victory.
If Napoleon could stoop
this far into the refrigerator,
he would have become
a suburban monk like me.

~ Boston, Massachusetts,
written October, 2001,
for the commemorative book of poetry,
and includes the following two related poems ...

Cat and Andrew’s Ring

Your ground is weeping
The humid air soaks
Wrinkles into all my
Categorization. I am
The air, ever changing
And it’s easy to see
How my inability
To be ever present
On the earth
Is enough to send
You beneath the surface.

He was a fair-faced man
With a smooth baby face
And a soft tone of mouth
That would easily shatter
But he could shatter none.

They bought a wedding ring
And experienced love
Well before the mildew
Of everyday things
Could wear the heat away

She would talk talk talk
About the little things
I couldn’t see, or believe
My wind heart hardened
Into storm clouds
Into a rain of gloomy
Terror in a private sky.

Mostly I was jealous
But realistic, knowing
Love is a survival game
Old as the dirt and sun
And if for just a while
I consider the trees
As I blow through in ill ease
Of temperature and pain
Let me for just this once
See the majesty
In the impermanent
Pebbles, and in tenderness
For just this one day
Of weather, remain.

Ipswich In a Time of War

Rebuilding a doll house
Piece by piece
Little wood beams
Adjustable walls
Suitable for child safety

Out on the street
Flags at half mast
Raised after one official
Week of mass mourning

Cinematic violence
Blowing a red leaf
Through the dented car:
You know,
Our separation
Is bigger than
The both of us

We are memory,
Clinging, clutching
And a prayer
Each stranger
We meet has
The same stones
Of shock
Eye to eye

~ Ipswich, Massachusetts,
from "Ipswich at War,"
by Douglas McDaniel

The Secret Report
of the Night 
of the Last Knight
in Question

He was once
a young man,
dressed nice,
in a blue shirt,
red tie, driving
a green Jag straight
down white lines,
but the T-shirt underneath
wore a pirate skull
which he only threw
into a laundry bag
maybe once, twice
a month, and his pockets
were only full of change.

He was the last knight last night.
He was swept away in a summer sandstorm.
He was a seven-tweet non-talker.
He was definitely not the lady stalker.
He was more of a pre-planned thing.

He who came to get one key,
was found to be missing, 
like dinosaur chasing
a lightning bolt gone crazy
in a Twenty-first century
schizoid void.

And we were all watching the war.
And we tied ourselves down and faced the wind.
And we were all watching what water does.
And we were all claiming the key was gone.
And we were all eating the Tin Man's heart.
And we all threw the bones to Toto, too.

The sea was dumped into a pail
and then wifi came, he began to sail ...
and then whiff, whiff, whiff,
the water sank ... and whiff,
whiff, whiff ... wifi sank
into cracks in the earth,
and mud gathered in the corners
of the earth, and the high school peak
of alchemical man all fell down the hill.

A detective was hired by a private firm.
A detective was hired to learn all he could learn.
A detective returned with ashes in an urn.
A detective said sorrow was a golden tax return,
that the guardian was gone, had run away,
and it definitely was not a pre-planned thing.

So we rebuilt the modern world.
So we went up and down, burning it all down.
So we fell in love with the dragon girl.
So we stole the thunder and lived in rusted ruins.
So we made the waves to make steel shudder.
So we served the sheep dog meals of bones.
So we drank the waterfall down to fountains
of dust, stunned to sleep before the golden dawn.

It was O so definitely a pre-planned thing.

Rain Station

The hurricane journal colonel
meets the wind at the Porterville
train station as birds fall
out of a fallen tree

Shoeshine wet steel along
a busted up railroad line,
heading to nowhere
in the eternal now

Isaac Smith took the first
bullet train away from the coast
and the pellet is  a richochet
from sea to sinning sea

Storm riders in white robes
lost the battle but won
the water war: The one-eyed leper
watches the stain running up
the wailing wall ...

Meanwhile, back at the submarine
boat show of snakes running
beneath the floorboards of Boston
to the Milldam corner of Concord,
discord cannot carry any cannons
across the creek as history repeats
each and every morning, twice,
and the ripples still by morning light.

A Brief Visit 
to Ballpark Earth

First thing I've got to say is this:
I'm pissed I never got to play
Major League Baseball

Second, and this is a big one
She looked so good
in her fishnet stockings
and we were in sixth grade still
and I still haven't
been able to keep my eye
on the ball
ever since

Third ... sure,
the psychologist
for getting
the whole thing
more than half wrong
and these are bad
and you paid
the bill to guard
the lunatic asylum
and it sure doesn't
bring all of the dead
dead doggies all back

Fourth, equally unimportant ...
Just who is keeping
score, Dear Lord ...
Who has all of the stats,
Stan the Man,
and who is keeping
the big statistical
law book of life?

I mean shit, shit, shit ...
I can't even spit here
and I have not looked
at a box score
since last spring,
when I still had hope
for the Diamond King
and sure, forty thousand
princes and queens are seated
in the stands now
text messaging, waving
to their kids back at home,
but they aren't watching anyway,
since fishnets are back in style
and so are their fuck me
I'm a ho tattoosies
on the telly and the Jumbotron,
which caught them kissing
doesn't even record,
just flashes,
then flies on by

~ Douglas McDaniel,
Sedona, Arizona

Down the Road
from Crawfordsville

Somewhere at the end of the road
Down where the railroad used to go
In her trailer she slept with a frown
Trying to stare her demons down
The statue of libertines came around
The wolf had already walked the town
I wrote poetry without much sound
Except for a laugh
from all of the dumbing down

Down the road from Crawfordsville
the broken motor man turned to stone
like Apache copters a'rotoring on
and wagons circling from raging clowns
they argued the point
till the town burned down

Though they paid the rent
for ten dollars a week
the world was shred
by wolves among sheep
as smokes he borrowed
he burned to keep from weeping
and anhydrous ammonia
came up from the deep
and she worshiped her stars
when lacking sleep
while pine needles fell
in symmetries at her feet
before the dogs all howled
in the morning light
down the road from Crawfordsville

They all got a book out
about self-proclaiming,
about water-board wording
and daylight savings,
burning bushes, barns,
the hay needle's laughter
about the unicorn dying
while the Republican Party's
secret headquarters
has gone to rust
down the road
in Crawfordsville

Yeah, down the road
from that tiny Ta'Iowa town
a pig farmer named Lester
is happier than hell
He's driving by
with a sleeping hawkeye
his parallax view
can tell no more lies
and the good book sold now
to the controverted
stands in the way
of truth's memory
of the local sounds
in Crawfordsville
Cardinal square in sharp-cut corners
the coroner croons with each hard winter
turning summer waters cancer cluster bitter

Down the road from Crawfordsville
"climate is dead" for the motorhead,
fertilizer falls from the fire-up sky,
we need not ask for the season of why

Down the road from Crawfordsville
the maharishi's prayer is for a limo
in need of more corn-fed gasoline
and up the road: the Wal Mart roadkill
is churned up dust from that shuttered
restaurant full of crap for the ghostly haunt

Down the road from Crawfordsville
that old shack is burning still
with bushels full of Monsanto seed corn
breaking your teeth on porky porn
as the Synergy trucker waves goodbye
but even with buckets full of energy
we want heroes, well here are three
with eleven cups of free coffee, cigs,
some sanity for satiety, a kind kinda
Fire Safety Week society
for squeaking toys and dogs
to run free

Down the road from Crawfordsville
there's good folks out there, out there still,
while the eye in the sky is scorching 'em dry
they don't even ask the reason why
since loose lips sink ships, Holy Reagan cow!
The washing machine's roll is terror, Wow!

But the tenderloin's pound is a tender drum
of country folk who ain't ho hum
Can you hear them tommy tum tums
of the super farmer's food taught, like magic,
by a hand-held Fibonacci sequence tool

Down the road from Crawfordsville
the Big Box trucker armies
broke 'em up bad,
so forget those things
you learned in school
about how Frodo kept the ring
and the Golden Rule,
about how mega Hertz
made German tanks,
cause techno Teotihucuan
gives good thanks
at the dinner table, to the cops,
to your loan at your banks

Just let it roll by, let it fire its blanks,
'cause down the road from Crawfordsville
you can still greet the sun in sacrificial light
and the morning moon will come a day too soon,
so swim with the shore you supper fools ...

Down the road from Crawfordsville
worms from the air get carved up, cool,
the super farmer's just awe right
'cause disinformation is far outta sight
and William Shatner just plain lied
to those poor folks in Riverside
and east to west the buffalo returns
to beat the dust from the Bible belt's urn

Down the road from Crawfordsville
a bard's lament is the ever-giving quest,
despite the wormwood, yer guns, yer tongue,
you'll give great thanks when mourning is done,
when her sacrificial second sight is Mary singing
about storms to come, about enough blood to drown
the terrorists of shock, awe, the dumbing down,
just can't avoid the daily bank scam man
who hits the train station burned to the ground
and the bump in the road will kill you if found

Meanwhile the ranch gets saved up the road
from Crawfordsville, where sileage choppers
look like haircut machines by day, E.T. by night,
like giant Sandworms harvesting spice,
and the golf course tanned Dan
is a thousand miles away, tinkering
with puppets to sway, like bobcats
shot and killed and made into hats,
the collection plate is eternal
as the frightly nightly news
the heroes go on despite these views
when asked how she feels she sighs and says,
"Peaceful," she says, "and peaceful is nice."

~ Ames, Iowa
Note: The first private meeting of what would become the Republican Party came when Whig Party defectors met privately in Crawfordsville in February, 1854. The meeting was to lay the groundwork for the creation of a new political party. The first public meeting was held in Ripon, Wisconsin one month later.

Hello John Boehner ... I just got off the phone with your teacher, Jesus, and you and your friends cannot play together anymore, the neighbors (and natives) are really getting restless ...

Oh Jesus, just get me a bottle, no, a crate, of Boone's Farm and call me when they settle this debt ceiling thing, will you?

" ... I mean, I wanna do what Bill Clinton is doing these days. Now that looks like a hell of a lot more fun ..."

... Mitch McConnell, "just pure insanity" ... like I say, it's a suicide cult ... and now they are talking about shutting down all access to beer in Minnesota ... but hey, come on down, come on down, come drink your tea, drink your tea ...and dump your bourbon in Kentucky, Bardstown!

‎" ... It's 3 a.m. Madame President ... and and and and ... no that's a light bulb switch ... and that little black briefcase, no, Michele, no ... step away from the red button, step away from the red button ... it's just your folks on the phone in Waterloo ... Tigger just had kittens ... Oh never mind."

It's Official: Palin announces permanent residency as merely entertainment on the campaign trail because frankly, Starlets, we just don't give a fuck anymore!

On the topic of golf, I saw a segment on cable TV somewhere about how Karl Rove had used the Oz-like projection of golf images to make Obama look bad, but had told Dubya to avoid golf for the same reason. Then, I found this quote in Time Magazine, dated Nov. 15, 2010, the week after the last election. It said: "The GOP's Old Guard: Never underestimate the old pros. Karl Rove, who ended the 2008 as the architect of the collapse of George Bush W. Bush, returned with a bang, showing he could raise tens of millions of dollars in third-party spending and then drive the GOP message. Bring on 2012."
I thought, yikes. By mid-summer, the Republicans appear to be in disarray, and its political mouthpiece, FOX News may be under investigation for all kinds of hacker intrigues, and anyone associated, hicks for hire commentators like Rover, Glenn Beck, Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin have been marginalized in the groundswell of what appears to be, for much of the non-millionaire population, just too darn tootin' "peppered" to take any of this anymore. Stated that post-election edition of Time, referring to Fox News "honcho" Roger Ailes, "Now he has established Fox as the go-to news source for an entire political party, riding increased ratings to greater profits, just in time for the 2012 primary seasons."
News of the World published the last edition as Rupert Murdoch rushed over to England to kiss the queen's arse for forgiveness ... also to pick up his favorite stapler? The entire suicide cult empire is shaking, and fewer and fewer people are willing to drink the Koolaide.
So for right now, last I heard, Obama had something like $90 million in his campaign war chest already, far exceeding the Republicans. But the real news is this that back in 2010, the Time headline was "The People have Spoken."
Nine months later, you might as well say: "The People Are Broken." And, all the same, thirsty.


Along the same lines: I'm beginning to think the Rapture was actually a mistaken-profit (sic: prophet)- remote-viewing the City of Phoenix, with everybody wondering: Well, obviously, God stole them, because there is nobody left in most residences, and the retail outlets are all empty, too ... and so, therefore, I believe, they were all taken to heaven! ... Leavin' the heathens behind ....

" ... and remember to finish that bowl of high-fructose corn syrup ... There are starving people in America right now ..." 


The other day I was in the kitchen, completely immobilized. After a while, I felt as though I were being disintegrated into a million pieces because I felt as though no matter where I looked, if I thought about it, there was going to be something wrong with what I decided to eat: all due to reasons both macro and micro economic, political, health-wise, all of the rest ... And so, I did what St. Louis Cardinals Manager Tony LaRussa used to do when the bases were loaded and Barry Bonds was up to bat ... I ordered a pizza and hoped for the best.


On the Issue of Global Warming ... Hello Kentucky! ... let's meet again, right here, see if we can top the record heat again ... in three billion years so we can vote on whether or not we should form a committee, or, simply ask "Q" on Star Trek to dissolve our planet in Venusian acid ... and Rand Paul ... quack ... meanwhile, a Category 4 typhoon heads toward Japan as trouble seems to be reaching critical mass in the Middle East ... good weekend to relax and catch up on the real show going on for planet earth ... and let the grown-ups in government come to their senses ...

Interesting: On Yahoo.com, the No. 1 trending story is how some unknown starlet had puppies or kittens or got divorced or stood in line to get out of Harry Potter movie ... The item ranked No. 10? ... "Debt Ceiling" ...

Re-entering the land of remembering: Lest we not forget the opening days of Bushcare ... I believe he was making his plans for a golf and boating relaxation month for August, 2001 ...

 (Editor's note: In the ongoing effort to prevent American voters from sinking into the poppy-filled fields of forgetting, here's another excerpt from my book about the end of the 20th century, and the beginning of the 21st century,  " 23 Roads to Mythville. " This chapter,  "Denial of Access,  " could have also been called,  "I Should Have Known My Days Were Numbered When I Tried to Pitch That Story About Echelon Dot Calm. "")

The date is Dec. 13, 2000, and the Internet landscape is teetering on the brink of the big die-off. But McDaniel and his co-workers seem secure, successful, self-satisfied, most certainly self-congratulatory, on top of the e-publishing world. Or so they believe. Even as the U.S. Supreme Court is deciding the result of the presidential election for them all, ruling on that very day that all uncounted dimpled chads are null and void, they are so self-assured they barely even conceive of the dissonant vibrations emanating from the very core of the earth.

Gathered in a large enough quantity in a hotel meeting room, they, the full-time, well-paid employees of Access Internet Magazine, create a convincing air of self-confidence, of go-go e-business wiles, high on the Net-savvy narcotic of the zeitgeist vibe. Sure, some of them worried about rough times ahead. At least McDaniel did. Yet, even considering his natural pessimism, it would have been hard to imagine how quickly things could change.

So many start-ups, as in new magazines, whole living cycles, forests of ink and paper, so many all come and gone. McDaniel had done them all: multi-million dollar projects, national monthlies, regional rags covering sports and art, grass roots enviro’ ops out in the desert, entertainment weeklies, all gone. Killed by everything from the Gulf War to a Major League Baseball strike. And now, the looming dot-com bust. All due to the inherent liabilities of having too much investment capital to burn. Due to wannabe publishers who always believe they are capturing the so-called crest of the wave. Until, that is, the wave, the demo, crashes on the shore.

The next wave is on the way. But it’s too late. Ink on paper just can’t adapt in the stormy seas of the new century.

They are at the annual sales meeting for Access Media Inc., just before the lavish Christmas Party on the far end of a Boston suburb. It's December 13, 2000. Publisher Mike Veitch stands in front of the magazine’s blown up cover featuring then president Bill Clinton: who could likely barely work his e-mail. At least that's what the cover shot of the stumped and befuddled president seems to depict. As if he is looking into one of the impenetrable miracles of our time. Like he fit the demo of newbie readers to "America’s Guide to the Internet."

It's December 13, 2000, and if anyone had turned on any talk-radio station, they would have heard a war of words over Clinton and Gore, Bush and his Supremes, a howling that hadn't been heard since, well ... hadn't ever been heard.

But Access staffers, mostly those on the advertising side, had come from all over the country after a remarkable year of growth and, apparently, breakthroughs in publishing. It was a day to be catered and plump. You might have wondered, with so much growth in circulation so fast, from 4 million to 10 million weekly within a little over a year, if they had a bigger audience than the president on any single day of the week. Whole suburbs of newsreaders, gadget fanatics or, more likely, grandmas wanting to know how to receive photos by e-mail of their grandchildren, practical professionals wanting to know the latest investment site, moms looking for cooking sites and so on … a demographic that was nothing less than a cookie-cutter composite of the whole country: But the emanations of the earth, well, that was somebody else's business.

Access was riding the crest of the Internet wave, but it was trying to hit an impossible moving target. The first weekly publication of its time, it attempted to cover the entire mélange of the fab electricities in the air as they crossed over into the mainstream. But it was like chasing a lightning bolt with a dinosaur.

Even as Veitch was self-congratulating the rotunda roomful of attentive ears, maybe 150 people, for publishing Access on a weekly basis as the third largest weekly in the United States, a circulation of nearly 10 million, all distributed as an insert through newspapers across the country: something was wrong. Even as the hotel was notable, from the outside, for huge radio tower landmarks, much older than the Web, that served as testament to the long history of Route 128’s silicon valley of telecommunications wizards, mass marketers, open sourcerers, dot-com rebels and computer-related trade ’zines out the ying yang: something did not compute.

So powerful and amazing is Access, Veitch tells the group, one Access expose had uncovered some invasive America Online malfunction, which was then fixed by the safe-surfing company because it had been first criticized by one of the columnists.

"The simple and direct way we have helped people in their lives," Veitch says, "is what journalism is about."

McDaniel, inspired by Veitch's soliloquy, could barely contain his excitement. He thought of the 100 monkeys, and there they were, right in that room. The vibrations of the earth seemed to be churning in him, and he couldn't be silent anymore. When Veitch asked if there were any questions, McDaniel took his turn to speak in a rambling soliloquy of his own. The first part of what he said, he doesn't recall now, but he always knew how it was going to end.

"The real question isn't how we are going to turn all of this paper into gold," he told the group. "The real question is: How do we turn this gold into soul?"

This was followed by a long, slow, deep, most surely stunned, silence.

When the group broke up, no one spoke to McDaniel. In fact, they didn't even look at him.

Maybe a week later, in the red brick office park that was somewhat secluded on the Charles River in Needham, Veitch would call McDaniel into his office. It wasn't for an executive-to-employee lashing, exactly, more like a "come-to-Jesus." Veitch boasted about how Access was conceived of, as a business plan, on a single sheet of paper, a metaphor for the integration of all media.

"Access is the first fully integrated mass medium of the post-Internet era," he says.

McDaniel responded with 50 ideas of his own, none of which would fit on a single piece of paper, then dutifully returned to his cube: the human search engine.

Being an editorial staffer at Access was like being the subject of some unprecedented behavior experiment. They were, basically, paid to surf. Paid to be led through the bottomless eddies and channels of the World Wide Web. Visitors to the office, especially journalists from other newsrooms, often commented about how creepy the whole thing felt. Newsrooms, after all, are usually boisterous places. Considering how tightly Access staffers were packed in after growing from 24 or so to nearly 100 employees in less than a year, it was if nothing else an intimate situation. By this time, Access Media was an atypical cube farm of too many employees cramped into a honeycombed beehive. Basically, what you could get with a $27 million venture capital investment, spent over a year and a half or so. Yet, even with so much electrified density, even with so much juice, it could be quiet as a library.

Employees were more likely to interact from the computer, often by Yahoo’s instant messenger service, often without speaking to anyone, in person, all day. Human search engines paid to be hooked into machines and surf the Web. Like something out of "The Matrix." But it wasn’t as if there weren’t plenty of people in their lives. They weren’t disconnected from humanity. In fact, McDaniel may have never come in contact with so many people in his life. It seemed to work, until, for McDaniel, more than 100 e-mail messages were received one day, many of them from struggling dot-coms in need of publicity for their shopping sites, especially before the Christmas push. Or from other editors, wondering why he hadn’t gotten back to them. McDaniel tried to respond back to them with missives about his doubt and fears about what was really happening in the Noosphere.

Considering the extent of its weekly circulation, maybe 20 million people in affluent suburbs across the nation who may have been actually looking at it at the same time, and the high-priced talent (USA Today online staffers, mainly) who were brought on to head up a new Web-page undertaking, one might have hoped that it could have accomplished more than the mere tweaking of your home computer’s keypad control. Considering all of the computerized wizardry of the place, it could have accomplished pretty much anything it wanted. For McDaniel, it was as if Access were a kind of revolutionary force bringing the liberating Web to the masses. That was the best of what he could hope for.

He kept thinking: How do we turn all of this gold into soul?

But forces much, much larger than a mere circulation of 10 million were at work, almost invisibly. The big die-off first sniffed out by Fuckedcompany.com was becoming apparent. First, Access Internet Magazine scaled back its online operations, laying off 21 employees shortly after the beginning of the year, mostly those who worked for accessmagazine.com, about 25 percent of Access Media’s payroll.

Veitch would eventually be pastured into a role as an adviser to the company and board member. John Jay, president of Access Internet Magazine, and Larry Sanders, president of accessmagazine.com, left the company.

Sanders came from USA Today online wars to start up the Access Web site’s expansion during the Internet gold rush heyday. They were predatory times. So he tried a sticky hit style, the "roach motel" approach, attempting to "drive them" like cattle. That was common nomenclature in Access executive culture: This whole idea that people, somehow lacking any choice in the matter, could be "driven" into its Web of multimedia ventures. For bizarre reasons, the site never drove huge numbers, and for a long time ended up with fewer hits than most alternative zines, especially considering the self-marketing possibilities of sending out 10 million flyers ... that is, the magazine itself, with the Web site’s URLs at the top of each page and the banner. For whatever reason, readers felt little need to get the same thing at the Web site, too.

By the end of 2000, the company had been working on plans for a national online advertising network and new e-mail products, but scaled back as the Internet tide changed. A new investment from General Atlantic reportedly served as a blood transfusion of less than $1 million. Access had previously raised money in August 2000, when investors contributed $17 million. Employees were always told $27 million, but who knows how quickly $10 million bucks can go up in smoke. Other venture investors in Access Media included Sequoia Capital, One Liberty Ventures, and Labrador Ventures. Individual investors included former Time Warner co-CEO N.J. Nicholas Jr. and E-Trade founder Bill Porter.

The cost of newsprint (about a half-million dollars per edition) and the decline of the Web as an item worthy of mass media interest, especially in terms of potential advertising dollars, were also to blame.

It could have been, and very often was, a media project that exemplified the realm of possibility for its time. Access could be just about that, access to the new world of megamedia, to the glittering electric palace of wisdom (at least as far as the Internet could provide). But the focus group directives thought otherwise. Such events, with so-called readers paid and given a sandwich to say "yeah, sure, I read the magazine," revealed an apparent need for the editors to dumb-it-all down. The average reader, apparently, could barely grasp a slice of what was going on out on the Web. The focus group directive became a tiny little hole indeed, a limitation for depicting what was really out there on the Web. If you are less outrageous than the FOX Network when dealing with Web topics, well, you get the picture …

But in December of 2000, even as Florida presidential election embroglio roiled on, and angry e-mail bounced around in incredible viral swirls of angst, McDaniel and the editors of Access Internet Magazine were debating whether or not to veto listing the URL for a short, but relatively dated, "South Park" film depicting a rumble between Santa Claus and Jesus Christ, an animated fight between animated good and animated evil. And while the real Internet buzzed with conspiracies, overworlds, underworlds and terabytes of skin, it was decided the short film was just too riske’ for the supposed audience of Webizens they were trying to reach.

McDaniel argued (and argued): The Web is far, far weirder. And the geeks and wizards are moving into the mainstream.

As it turned out, nobody really got the shot in the arm they were looking for. Access included. But maybe in some small way, the Noosphere moved just a little further along. In a little more than six months after the beginning of the new year, Access suspended publication. The last posting on its Web site read: "Access Magazine has suspended publication, due to the continuing uncertainty in the economy." Apparently the business of producing a for-print mag announcing the dawn of a new media era is just a little too much like being a Trojan horse. McDaniel guessed once readers figured the Internet out, "they just don’t need ink on paper anymore."

A few days after Dec. 13, 2000, a mere six months before the magazine's demise, such statements increasingly began to rankle McDaniel's bosses. The whole "gold into soul" episode was no doubt still on their minds. His gloomy pronouncements about the imminent demise of shopping sites that were about to be touted in the Christmas shopping issue; how the whole shebang would be up by the end of the first quarter of 2001; how the ever expanding network of geeks would be the only ones worth writing for when it was over; it all led them to write him up on the "Vision" thing.

One day he came to the office, muttering something about how he'd seen a solar storm over the Merrimack River Valley. " I saw a lake of fire in the sky," he said. He rambled about how Verizon rhymed with Urizen. How the nation could be divided right down the middle between the techno-haves, who lived in the cities on the coasts, and the more conservative have-nots, the landlocked crowd, and how the presidential election had split the electorate the exact same way. Liberalism on the Internet, he said, was spreading like a virus, but the forces of Urizen were working, even as they doddled on the latest new doodles, to take it back. He railed about how the Hopis were going online, and this signalled the end, for sure.

All true, but scattered, a victim of too much information. Like the Web itself, his mind became a human search engine's cache of non-linear connections.

On January 1, the Frankenstein that Access created was let go. Sent, once again, falling into the Void. In a pathetic act of vengeance, he went home, closed the door, turned on the computer, and posted the following message to everyone he'd ever met on the World Wide Web:

"Predicting the future is only an act of hubris, and it’s a symptom of spending too much time on the Web to believe you are better at it than, say, throwing darts on the big target of possibilities. Techno-savvy prognostication is standard practice for the highly sought out members of think tanks and leading edge members of the digerati fringe. As one attains greater tools and more power and believes something other than simply being human is happening to him, as he deigns himself to have a greater awareness and insight into things, it’s nonetheless an act of folly. Still, we try.

"It’s no accident that the spirit of Prometheus, that Greek deity who gave fire and the alphabet to human beings, who then went on to speak and build things, much to the consternation of Zeus, is now recognized among many techno-wizards and members of digerati to be a technology god who is sometimes referred to as 'one who sees far.' The hubris is derived from the resulting megalomania inspired by tools that provide a supposedly superhuman reach across the networked world. Which is what made Zeus angry and perhaps a little jealous, incensed enough, at least, to bound Prometheus to the rocks on the shore: His real concern that humans, believing themselves to be Gods, just might foul up the whole hierarchical system of nature. But Prometheus refused to bow to this higher power just as many of us refuse to recognize that, despite the heady intoxication of so much technology converging on our desktops at lightning speed, we are all still pinned to one big rock in space.

"In 2001, the architecture of the Web will continue to evolve by the very same seemingly random patterns, the ebb and flow of living things and forces that dictate events on big rock in space. By known economic and social patterns that repeat throughout history. By natural currents that are all quite mysterious to even the most profound and comprehensive thinkers about what’s going to happen next in cyberspace, which is as equally pinned to the real world as Prometheus. In fact, many of these mighty ones are falling, or about to fall, even as I write this, because they believed they had the secret key to the Emerald City, convincing a lot of others to come along.

"In the upcoming year, many of the most notable pioneers of e-commerce will lose their grip and slip into the abyss. Only to replaced by the vultures and transformers of their best ideas, usually by corporate nation-states that had long recognized the strength of being tethered to material things. In short: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. If you don’t believe it, look at the revenge of the brick and mortar stores as they restore order at the online shopping mall. It has always been that way. Why should the Web be any different?

"In 2001, the Web will seem more human, but only because humans will seem more robotic, that is, they’ll morph into cyborg citizen-servants to the emerging order of the electronic beehive. Space will continue to fuse ubiquitous cyberspace to the collective mind of the earthbound. Reality and unreality will become harder to discern. Especially for those who don’t have a proper grounding in the physical and metaphysical laws at work on both ends of the spectrum. Many might believe, for example, that Martin Sheen really is a good president. Others, seeing this trend, will take advantage by creating all kinds of multimedia assurances that, if propagated to enough people, will enable them to achieve any cynical end they might desire.

"The next-generation Web will seem more virtual, and the real world will be more often referred to as 'just like the Internet.' But by the end of the year, closed networks and intranets will be more prevalent. From that point on, the World Wide Web will become fractured, disordered, and many will complain. Hyped all year already by those it might serve, for calling for security and privacy, the Web will become less a tool for communication, more often a function for those who command, those who control. Most will comply and register for the Mark. Greed and self-interest will rule a society dictated by this fact: Bar code is law. Technological man will, after all, have no choice if he wants to feed from the mutual marketplace of e-commerce.

"This loss of a sense of an online community, this descending into electro-tribes, set into motion whenever a comprehensive hegemony dissolves, will be reinforced by gated communities created out of the desire to re-establish bonds with our fellow man. The digital divide will widen. The technocrats will only get stronger. As resources become more and more scarce, and global warming moves closer to its inevitable redline say, 50 years from today, those who dictate the architectures of technological space will find themselves to be increasingly able to drive people like cattle to the diminishing safety zones of survivability.

"Conflict will arise out of the resistance to this, but the system will only fracture more as a result of this literal cyberwar between the competing hierarchical layers of technocrats, corporate interests, governments and its cyborg servant class trying to just keep up and survive. It will be too bad. We could have all got along. We could have put the automobile to pasture. Finally, a large number of enlightened ones who are scrambling, even now, to discover practical ways to unplug from this insanity we like to call 'civilization,' will find a way to connect in a mutually effective, quite spiritual way. The wisdom of this passion for self-sufficiency will only become apparent when the lights go out, when dwindling resources for fuel and then, cheap electricity fails to feed the system, which collapses from the weight of too many voices, too many demands, too much desire for more civilization, more production, for its own sake. The neo-Luddites, though quite techno-savvy, will be the meek who inherit the eventual earth. After all, small is big, slow is fast, spirit is all that remains, and ever shall be, on terrain both cyber or dirt real.

"Of course, since I’m only a mere human casting you this Web of apocalyptic imagery with a gnostic’s mysterious writing machine, quite the opposite is equally likely to happen. What do you think I am, the Wizard of Oz?"

His message to the New Year complete, he then crumpled into a ball. When he awoke, he found himself unable to lift himself out of bed. Information overload was a real disease, he'd decided, then and there. Within days, his entire life blown apart, he bought a train ticket to take him far out West, careening down a slice of rail line into the Void as waves of invisible solar storms pounded the earth, casting untold vibrations into the very core of the wired century. He jumped on the train, leaving pretty much everything behind but his laptop; leaving everything, turning it all in, lugging his machine and still wondering: "How do I turn this gold into soul." 


An excerpt from "23 Roads to Mythville," a "reality lit" novel by Douglas McDaniel


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