Friday, January 30, 2009

Happy 4th Anniversary, Pottersvillians


Well, neither Pottersville is four years old but I just realized that I began blogging four years ago today. And what a long, strange trip it's been. Between all three blogs, I've gotten around two and a half million hits, created a couple of thousand posts, written perhaps half a million words (or about 4 full-length novels) and have not only kept my writing muscles flexed but have educated myself on more subjects than I can count.

When I started four years ago today, I wrote a post about Kerry having to use the media as part of his campaign strategy while Bush didn't have to. A buddy of mine who'd guided me through the process said if you wanna get known, drop a permalink on some of the A list sites and see what happens. It's a horrible and irritating habit that's gotten me lambasted on Glenn Greenwald's blog even when I wasn't leaving any comments. Still, if you want to get known, you can't rely on Google blog searches. You have to put your blog name and URL out there so people can have a shortcut.

By the time I'd begun blogging, I thought I'd be a natural. After all, I was already a seasoned writer. I'd already more or less completed three novels and had published poetry and satire in "little" magazines, anthologies and even a couple of Houghton Mifflin textbooks. But when I quickly realized who the big dogs were, I understood that I was in out of my depth. Blogging, especially political blogging, is a legitimately unique literary discipline. Perhaps not an art form but definitely a legit subgenre of nonfiction.

Eventually I found my sea legs and developed not a style but several styles of venting my spleen, concerns and withering contempt for what I saw as a clearcut subversion of the Constitution and even an undermining of our cherished democracy. I took potshots at both Democrats and Republicans and even my fellow lefty bloggers. But through it all, I did it my way no matter how many toes I stepped on along the way.

And the learning curve that I'd gradually climbed was not an end but a means to an end that was symptomatic of my growing political mania and obsession. Some days I'd spent over eight hours a day blogging and researching. The idea of blogging became more precious to me than any of my posts. I have said many times and will say again that I've never written a blog post that I'd want to see between covers (and the abrupt deletion of my first two blogs is brutal proof of that). Political blogging, especially, is a topical and highly perishable medium, a discipline in which things change with, literally, lightning fast rapidity.

I wrote my first post and the next three that same day, one of them about the first of what would prove to be three Iraqi elections that were to be held the next day. I recall writing and worrying about who among our troops would be killed trying to maintain security for elections that were, stupidly and recklessly, held in a Muslim country that was still very unstable.

I'd like to think that, in the last four years, I've made some small difference. I've gotten a few people to sign petitions, a few others to donate money to worthy causes and maybe influenced a vote or two over the last two elections. Not only did I keep my writing muscles toned, I've also learned the value of sourcing, the true intelligence level of my typical reader and think I know when to cut loose with snark and when to play it straight. There aren't many bloggers whom I look up to but I'm barely smart enough to know who my betters are (D r i f t g l a s s, the Rude Pundit, Hunter at Daily Kos and precious few others make me want to be a better blogger.).

But as I'm sure several of my readers are painfully aware, my hubris and desire for a wider audience impels me to ask time and again why I keep beating my head against the wall, shouting down empty wells and tilting at windmills. This third and newest blog, even on the rare occasion it gets major linkage, has still never cracked 2000 hits and blog posts over which I labor for days, even weeks, get completely ignored while Crooks and Liars or Buzzflash will link to a post on which I'd devoted maybe a half hour or less. It drives me crazy.

I'm a local kook in my own family because of my increasingly strident political stances and even in the bluest district of the bluest state of an increasingly blue country I can still find myself at a dinner table with ignorant right wing lunatics and racists (but I'm being tautological) and I sometimes feel like Jesse Jackson at a Klan rally.

I do not apologize for educating myself in matters such as constitutional law, the media, US history, presidential lore, the legislative process, knowing who's who. I pride myself on knowing what I know now. Four years ago, I literally wouldn't have recognized Karl Rove if I shared an elevator with him. Nowadays, name any member of congress and chances are I'll be able to tell you what state or district they represent and even who'd donated to their campaigns without having to run to Google.

Will I ever be a big dog? Not a fucking chance, even if I sell my novel for a zillion dollars. Too many people hate me and when it's time to start nominating blogs for awards whatever place in which I'm bloviating is probably literally the last place anyone will think of. Which is fine. I didn't get into this business to win awards that don't mean jack shit in the meat world. Sure, recognition and some appreciation would go a long way but that's ancillary. It's always been about getting people to think, feel and making more informed choices on election day. In short, getting the other 99% of the adult population to care again.

For the most part, my personal education aside, I consider the last four years and the countless thousands of hours I've spent in bloggerdom to be an utter waste of time and a failure. I wish I'd never gotten involved in blogging and also wish I'd written American Zen and those other three novels years ago. But any longterm failure is really more a reflection of the petty politics of political blogging and the cloistered, clannish community of the A listers who regularly listen in on conference calls with the likes of Ted Kennedy and visit Bill Clinton in his Harlem office. (Did you know that the A listers have their own secret email list that excludes the rest of us?).

Fuck 'em all, I say. I was never an A lister, not even a B lister 99.9% of the time but I'm damned proud that I held their feet to the fire and tried to keep them honest. Most of them don't deserve superstar status or access to the political elite or the mainstream media. I didn't get in to this to get my puss plastered on TV or win useless awards that will not one iota improve my lot in life. I got into this dirty, thankless game to get people to think, rethink and maybe to start blogs of their own, to show them through my example that sometimes, for brief periods of time, blogging can actually transcend mere wordsmithing into something in which we can be proud, in offering a tiny slice of the world a tiny slice of a human mind, a mind forever incomplete but in a continual, Protean state of neverending education.

And for those who've been on the wild ride and long, strange trip with me, I thank you and curse you when I want to throw in the fucking towel and a kind, encouraging word from a few won't let me and pull me back in. Of course, it's not you who pull me back in: It's really me getting myself off the floor.

18 Comments:

At January 30, 2009 at 7:10 PM, Blogger Melissa said...

Thank you for doing what you are doing. I admire all that get out there and DO IT! And now, I feel that I must learn all that I can.

 
At January 30, 2009 at 7:18 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

Like I said, Melissa, the learning curve is high but not insurmountable if you care enough to combat ignorance and apathy.

 
At January 30, 2009 at 7:20 PM, Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

Oh it's JP this, an' JP that
An' chuck 'im out the brute.
it's "A thin red line of 'eroes"
When the guns begin to shoot
The guns begin to shoot m'boys
The guns begin to shoot
It's "A thin red line of 'eroes"
When the guns begin to shoot.


got yet back buddy. your six is cool.

 
At January 30, 2009 at 7:25 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

Heh heh heh. Thought you were somewhere in Malibu gnawing on one of Madame's sauce-slathered ribs in between playing rock and rolls songs with Eric Burdon and Van Morrison fit only for a God?

Man what a strange four years it's been, huh? Now, with an administration in charge that's actually, well, sane and isn't trying to kill us, I'm fearing having to switch gears and becoming more civilized.

 
At January 30, 2009 at 7:47 PM, Blogger Dr. Know said...

For whatever it's worth, I've enjoyed your missives, particularly those more vituperative in tone. Just remember the phrase, Pearls before Swine. Blogging won't inflate your bank account but it sure beats smoking crack - or scrubbing rust from rivets on the JFK.

 
At January 30, 2009 at 11:32 PM, Blogger Juan Moment said...

Man, I stumbled across your previous blog some 2 or three years ago and from the first time I read your hilarious and hard hitting write ups I was hooked. So let me at this point join Melissa and thank you for the many hours you've invested into your blogs, much appreciated.

Four years hey? Nice round number. As round as the o in hope for four more, and I rest assured that Obummer and his harem of czars will by their very nature provide plenty of talking points. But stay off the so called A list brother, the air up there gets pretty thin.

As Will Rogers said, "I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts."

 
At January 30, 2009 at 11:40 PM, Blogger Antifascist said...

After "Welcome To Pottersville" abruptly disappeared I went into withdraw pains and had to check into rehab to shake my addiction to your blog. I read it religiously everyday and posted it profusely in the discussion boards. Finally, after a few months I was able to get back to ordinary discussion and blogging without clicking on that dead link in my browser “Welcome To Pottersville” and suffering delirium tremors. And just as I was about to become comfortable with mediocrity, apathy, and that oppressive, disgusting society we call “Pottersville” which America has morphed into-- that link appeared, “Welcome Back to Pottersville.” Screw rehab! I’m back and love it!

 
At January 31, 2009 at 12:11 AM, Blogger nunya said...

JP,

I'm so sorry that I missed part of your first year. I missed you when you quit, and was delighted when you got back into the game.

Thank you for what you do. :)

Happy Anniversary.

 
At January 31, 2009 at 1:35 AM, Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

malibu was last night. this night is back at the salt mines of home...

malibu's ok, but, fuck me running, i feel more at home in watts, gnawing ribs.

 
At January 31, 2009 at 3:52 PM, Anonymous comrade Rutherford said...

Happy Blogiversary!!!

Your longtime reader,
Comrade Rutherford!

 
At January 31, 2009 at 4:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep,I've been reading since the days of Another Goddamned Blog. I don't always comment because..Well.... I feel as if I'm just farting in the wind,heh!!



Perhaps one of these days I'll actually acquire a moniker but....monikers are a bit corny...And.... maybe I'll finish my xxx porn script regarding Palin that I posted here that summarily came inexplicably from the top of my head...No pun intended.

 
At January 31, 2009 at 4:57 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

maybe I'll finish my xxx porn script regarding Palin that I posted here that summarily came inexplicably from the top of my head

;-)

I'm starting to think you should get more than a moniker. Like a blog of your own, for instance.

 
At January 31, 2009 at 7:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey,me again.

Thanx for the suggestion and vote of confidence--but enough about me. I'd like to elaborate a bit about why I've been reading your work.

I'm down to reading less than a handful of blogs. Most blogs seem written by and populated by what I call Don Henley and Glen Frey liberals. Just liberal enough to fall under the umbrella of liberalism--nothing more. I'm also seeing a velvet rope type of mentality among some of the bloggers--and remember,I'm just an ordinary Joe Sixpack progressive in a red(now blue) state and can see this evolution developing. It's exactly what happened to those within the traditional media. The genuine mission and purpose was/is supplanted by the desire to become a celeb to such an extent that all is left (no pun) is a massive media capitulation to the PTB.

Also,you've got no underlying agenda. You speak what's on your mind and if it's not palatable to fellow bloggers or even to your readers, so what!!

I understand your frustration as well. In a perfect world you'd be what is considered as an A lister. I too feel we currently live in a climate politically and bloggingly (is that even a word?)where the cool kids are telling me Undercover is the shit.... when I KNOW that Sticky Fingers IS the genuine article!!

Despite your frustration(s),you've never let the quality of the writing slip. Never. It's not just the message. But how that message is written. It's easy to write a quick synopsis and provide a link (Atrios)....But.. It's an entirely different ball game writing articulate and thoughtful entries. Writing--and especially good writing is hard work. (I hate Bush even moreso for making this phrase well..universal in a negative way).

Moreover,you've been quite honest with your readers. You've shared some things about yourself within your entries that have put a lot of trust into your readership. To put it succinctly,this blog is honest.

We,your readers, may not be the most interactive and vociferous group among the net,but I've never been put off (with the exception of the bloviating republiCON blowhard) by any of my fellow commentators.

There's something very special here at Pottersville. Much like music. Some music is simply commerce...Some is art. And some is just....Special.

I apologize if this seems a bit maudlin....But fuck it! Here's to many more years!

 
At February 1, 2009 at 9:27 AM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

Anon: No, not enough about you. I'd like to know who you are.

That was a pretty insightful commentary. I can't agree with the part where you say I've never let the quality of the writing slip. Of course I have. None of us can be at the top of our game all the time. But when I feel I'm getting stale or am not putting enough oomph behind the writing, my stubborn sense of responsibility and my own personal hubris make me shake something loose and I get back on track.

But you're right. I don't have an agenda. Except if wanting to get the truth out there can accurately be defined an "agenda."

I'd like to email you. You seem like an intelligent person.

 
At February 1, 2009 at 10:38 PM, Blogger Lisa said...

If you're willing to wear a big bra and scream at kids over your shoulder while knocking out shit posts sprinkled with tiny hints of creativity, you can have the DCup franchise......

It may not be highminded or well-written, but it's fun. Most of the time.

Keep it up, Sugar. I read you - every word. I may not always comment because I'm reading you at the office or I'm just too dumb to think of anything to say, but I read you.

 
At February 3, 2009 at 6:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I'd like to email you. You seem like an intelligent person."


Yeah,we can do that. In fact,I had e-mailed you about three years ago or so, regarding one of your blog postings. The reason I had e-mailed was because at the time,your blog only allowed comments from those that had acquired a blogger account.

 
At February 3, 2009 at 7:50 AM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

Still waiting. Addy, please?

 
At February 3, 2009 at 5:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Still waiting. Addy, please?



Check your e-mail!!

 

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