We get letters

Very paranoid letters. Old-timers here might recall that the “Famous and Nonfamous Strangers” moniker comes from a letter I received in 1997 while working for a small nonprofit in Oklahoma City. You should read the whole thing again, but my favorite line will always be this: “Before these famous people held charity dinners on behalf of the cause they fabricated around my life and exploited me in every way imaginable, I had a happy, typical, conservative, affluent, dignified, respectable, middle-class life.” It perfectly captures the pivot into tragedy that mental illness is–and far from mocking Jeannine, it makes me realize how close we all are in our private paranoias to effulgent madness.

Such florid madness tends to make one the object of the very fame that fuels the paranoia. The letter’s author was from Olympia, and when I launched the site a friend who had gone to Evergreen immediately recognized her as “crazy Jeannine”–proving once again how small [and how paranoid] the world is.

But it gets smaller. If I became paranoid, it would be a metaparanoia based on the volume of paranoid letters that find their way to me. My sister, working for a state office housed in the same building I worked in when I got Jeannine’s letter, just received a similarly paranoid letter. The writer, amazingly, lives just a few miles from Casa Nonfamous here in Seattle. [Coincidence???]

So, being mindful that it’s not nice to make fun of people with serious mental disturbances, in our defense I can only say that when you send letters out at random across the country, your disorder is no longer private. Given our mandate to “keep paranoia at the lowest healthy level,” consider this post a cautionary tale.

Writer Mac now joins our patron saint, Jeannine, in the Nonfamous Pantheon of Paranoia. The full letter is copied below the jump, but the gist is something like this:

I am writing you a tearful letter about the musical collosus Robert
Fripp of King Crimson. I was evacuated to Seattle from Pittsburgh after my
girlfriend was raped and I was tortured by his Gurdjieff Cult.

I had been interested in Fripp’s group and invited by them to Mt. Desert Island in 1988. Because I am almost completely deaf, I always feared that something would go wrong and I informed the Fripp gestapo, who were professing to be with Amnesty International, that I had been a victim of traumatic childhood violent crime.

In 1988, I received a postcard from Wm. Zell, of his cult, on Mt. Desert Island (Jackson Immunogenetic labs, mousecage assembler) which surrounds my name with positive and negative signs and reads: “The photo of Goebbels, cross section of testes with cancer, injecting people…all may have been chance…I am part of deliberate community”. They had just given me scabies and introduced me to a girl with a tattoo of the grim reaper on her inner thigh. Zell had said in 1981, “what would you think of scheme to transform the human race by injecting the blood?” They were using me for a lab rat in HIV testing. They had tortured me deaf in childhood. So I became suspicious.

And I think anyone would! As the letter continues, Oliver Stone and Yoko Ono have a lot to answer for. Yoko is new, but of course Jeannine put Oliver Stone at the top of the list of people who “watched me in the privacy of my own dwelling place for several years.” Perhaps they should get together for coffee.

We at Nonfamous will, of course, investigate these claims… the world is a strange place and Mac might be on to something. Or, more likely, off of something. Good luck and God bless.

The full text of the letter is below, with the image to come soon, I hope.

Continue reading “We get letters”

Harvey Danger gets it, gives it away

Harvey Danger is making their new album free for download:

In preparing to self-release our new album, we thought long and hard about how best to use the internet. Given our unusual history, and a long-held sense that the practice now being demonized by the music biz as “illegal” file sharing can be a friend to the independent musician, we have decided to embrace the indisputable fact of music in the 21st century, put our money where our mouth is, and make our record, Little By Little…, available for download via Bittorrent, and at our website. We’re not streaming, or offering 30-second song samples, or annoying you with digital rights management software; we’re putting up the whole record, for free, forever. Full stop. Please help yourself; if you like it, please share with friends.

I just dowloaded it but haven’t had a chance to listen yet. I will say that, as they are returning from a period of obscurity, it certainly makes more sense to have a heavily downloaded free album than one that sells poorly and ends up in discount bins. If they are staging a comeback, this is a brilliant way to do it. As tech guru Tim O’Reilly recently observed about authors a propos the Google Library controversy, obscurity is a bigger threat that infringement or piracy.

Nola spirits spook soldiers

The SF CBS affiliate hasa very interesting video of California National Guard soldiers telling tales of ghostly apparitions in a school they have commandeered as a base of operations. It’s kind of cool. Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of talk of Bibles found mysteriously open to Revelations 11, which speaks of a city destroyed and its dead left in the streets. Reading the chapter, it doesn’t really sound as appropriate as the soundbite suggests. What’s not cool is the unidentified soldier wandering around the school with a cross trying to exorcise it and talking about how “this is a dark place and the military is bringing light.” Onward Christian Soldiers I suppose, but it’s a creepy ending to an otherwise interesting segment.

Freedom of Blogging

I don’t know how we missed this between the dueling hurricanes and the war and the Roberts hearings, but apparently the FEC is working on “regulations that would extend the nation’s campaign finance and spending limits to the Web.

Bloggers, at least the ones able to pay attention to this issue (what with the war and the Roberts hearings and and and) responded in a predicitable manner stating that the proposed new regulations amount to suppression of first amendment rights.

The proposed regulations, which I’m going to try to find time to read, are here. There’s a decent starter Q and A here.

Since I just stumbled across this this morning on Bloglines – they’ve submitted a statement to the commission – I’m still digesting the implications. Still, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, right? This issue loudly calls for our vigilance – and perhaps our collective and indvidual action. We should use our voices while we still have them.

As with most civil rights erosion, this isn’t likely to hit us overnight. But with Roberts, the mystery justice sure to be on the bench any minute now and an open seat to be filled by another Bush nominee the prognosis for how this issue will play out before the Supreme Court isn’t good. We’re unlikely to get another Justice Douglas: “Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.”

Katrina Blog Goes Up a Notch

I’m pleased to be able to report that Grace’s Katrina Direct Relief Blog has been sponsored by TypePad! They’ve picked up the tab for a year of blogging! The blog effort takes requests from a handful of contacts in the hurricane ravaged delta and posts them where you, blog reader, can find them.

The response has been overwhelming. Volunteers have shipped truckloads of goods down south where they’re going directly to those in need. We’ve been providing connections between the people on the ground who know what’s needed where and, well, anyone with an internet connection. I’ve been helping out as Site Janitor and Posting Backup. It’s not much, but hey, it’s something.