Monday, March 8, 2010

Final Reader Mail - "The Info Story"

Here is the final reader mail from frequent reader Infotainme whose writing style has put a unique stamp on this website's commentary from time to time.

The Info Story

It all started one fine spring day. I was visiting the rough-and-tumble Hoboken forum of I have a soft spot in what I refer to as my heart for that milieu. At least when I don’t feel like throttling one of those curmudgeons with a pry bar.

I had a number of questions about city government and run-off elections, and has more than a few municipal employee bloggers. Finding myself in the role of ‘new kid, seeks info’ I picked the name InfotainMe and started posting my questions.

At the same time I was known as AndThenOneDay on 411. I had chosen that name because of an epiphany in 2008 from which I am still recovering and which has turned all of life upside-down and kept it that way. I have a few thousand posts at Huffington by that name as well. But I liked the new name and its more genial spirit. And I didn’t like having different names on different blogs, so I registered InfotainMe at 411 and started blogging with it there.

Unfortunately, with both the Info and AndThen registrations, I used emails which contained my real name. It was not my intent to hide my identity from my host.

Flash forward to later in the summer. My son had become “very interested” in local politics (the little ambulance-chaser…). So I took him to a Council meeting. We sat in the back, made snarky remarks, tuning in and out. Generally, a reprise of my entire academic life. Things got exciting when Jim Vance stood up to passionately call for an end to blogging, and get facial with FAP on his way back to his seat. A short time later that most decorated of Zimmophobes took up the microphone to address the council/berate the council president.

It was another in a series of bizarrely inappropriate public tirades. As it concluded my son cupped his hand and made one of Those Remarks to me. I don’t remember all of it, but I do seem to recall that the last syllable was ‘hole’ and that it was a rhetorical question.

Your parent-y obligation is to focus attention on the Importance of the Democratic Process, the courage to share one’s convictions in a public forum, etc, etc. But, as Jim Stockdale so eloquently put it, I was outta ammo on that one. We left shortly thereafter.

I went home and wrote a quick tongue-in-cheek piece on the evening’s events and posted it on Revolt.

And the very next day, someone began posting on with a handle meant to show me that he knew my real name. Moreover, he meant to show me that he had made the connection between AndThenOneDay and InfotainMe. A few of his posts to InfotainMe, in fact, went something like, “And then one day your house of cards falls apart” or words to that effect. Let’s see what else – called me a coward, asked what my wife thought of my obsession with Dawn, that sort of thing. My son learned a lot about the intersection of anti-social pathology and politics reading all that.

The problem for this poster was that there was only one way to have linked InfotainMe, AndThenOneDay, and my name. I am an intentionally obscure person in Hoboken politics. I have written a handful of letters to the editor and checks to campaigns. People in defined political groups generally make me uncomfortable, not that I don’t love you all… As the wise man once said, I’m not a member of an organized political party - I’m a democrat.

Consequently few people knew me by name. (Few in politics still do – and only because I like them personally, Michael, Tony, etc). But suddenly, my name, slightly altered, was appearing on It still does, as recently as this week. And all considerable evidence to the contrary aside, he still claims he has nothing to do with 411. It is his nature to seek private information, look up your FaceBook page, see who your friends are, and wave your name around on blogs like a spoil of war. Not out of any healthy social impulse, but to try to gain an advantage in a fight that makes sense to him alone.

So be it. Just know what you are dealing with, those of you who wish to continue where Kurt is leaving off. Extreme compartmentalization, the kind only senators and serial killers can manage to pull off. If you challenge one 411’s heads but call it by the wrong name, its indignation will be real. It will be Truly Offended. Every other word of your complaint may be true. Yes, it does have and does abuse admin privileges at 411 - but it is not Precisely the head your were addressing. It prides itself on making these connections well. Whether it has any other causes for pride in its life is up for debate.

And I am surprised that people still can’t tell the difference between the two. Let me help. Follow this link. “Whomever flagged it must not be a true American.” ‘Whomever’ used as a subject; add to that the self-appointed arbiter of who’s a ‘true American’ crap. Et voila – there it is in one sentence - that’s the 411 you know and love. He doesn’t have the attention span or the competence as a writer to be behind most of the posts and articles that are attributed to him on 411, here, MSV, or Trust the 411’s other head – which actually DID write the post or article - to shower you with much better written contempt when you guess wrong. My point is, you shouldn’t have to guess. It’s a lay-up, boys and girls.

Which brings me to Kurt. I started posting at HJ when my doppelganger showed up at I was a bit fragile at the time. If anyone had looked twice at either of my kids as a result of some coward’s use of my name in a public forum, I would have recognized no limits or boundaries, nor doors nor windows. Nothing. The decision to be public or private belongs to the individual. Questions?

I explained the situation to him and that I wanted a place to post longer pieces. He was quite open and understanding, and I felt at home on this blog; the first time I have really ever felt that way. I was not a good fit at Revolt after all. There just aren’t enough good jokes in the tax code. And as for 411, a moderated Info is an oxymoron. I liked seeing that wall come down in Berlin.

HJ has been a good home. I looked forward to writing a Saturday afternoon essay, knowing I had a place to put it that was neither too wonkish nor too frivolous. I have met a handful of excellent people through HJ’s soon-to-close doors. I email with a small group fairly often.

As I have commented privately to a few people, not much is funny to me right now. The Empire is Striking Back, or trying to, on many fronts. I’ve thought about a piece on the Tactless Avenger - about a certain council-person’s pattern of springing resolutions and oath-taking on unsuspecting targets in the middle of CC meetings. Perhaps.

But today it’s time to say thanks to a gentle, self-effacing soul who gave me a place to play when I really needed one.

Thanks Kurt. You rock. Rock on.

- Infotainme ◦