The Real Diary of Charles Carreon
by Charles Carreon
In May, 2012, I had picked up a new client, the humor website, “FunnyJunk.com.” I was writing the usual website terms-of-service and related documents for a social networking website, basically emulating Facebook’s way of doing things, following the leader in terms of best practices for dealing with community conflicts, abuse, and of course the DMCA takedown policy. It had all been going quite nicely with the client being very prompt in communicating and with sending wire transfers. Who knew humor could be so profitable? It appeared it was, using my usual gauge for how much money clients made, i.e., how much they dickered about my fee. Not long after all the routine work was done, the client asked me to look at this webpage on TheOatmeal.com, slagging FunnyJunk. Excellent. More work. Happy to do it.
What follows is a retrospective diary of the consequences of me doing that work, that I hope gives the flavor of the raw immediacy with which the recorded events proceeded. By retrospective, I mean that this diary wasn’t really written contemporaneously with the events, but is an effort to recreate the feel of the moment by using the diary format. (Occasional references to the events that have occurred since the “date” of the diary entry give this away.) Accordingly, this “diary” is not a reliable reference for exactly what I did and thought on any given day, and is just intended to try to recreate for the reader the first-person experience of a person suffering a DIRA against themselves.
May 30, 2012
Today I will make a major change in my life, but I don’t know I’m doing it. It feels like any other day. I sit in the cantina next to the pool and work on my laptop. Every now and then I take a dip to cool off. I check tasks off the list. I get to this one: “Check out The Oatmeal’s post about FunnyJunk.” I check it out. The post is literally inaccurate in asserting that FJ is engaging in copyright infringement at a whole list of links, because all the links go straight to 404 not found. I ask the client if they took all the infringing content down once they saw the post, about a year ago, and the answer is “yes, we took it down, but he never complained to us, never sent a DMCA notice.”
May 31, 2012
I dig into the Oatmeal project with more focus, screencapping source-code, and drafting a cease and desist letter. I do background research on Matt Inman, who seems like any of many people who have learned to scam traffic with hidden codes and links. His humor is not to my taste, although it turns the corners of my mouth. I can see why the users posting at FunnyJunk would post copies of it and make comments about them. I get that Inman has a mob of followers who are still impressed with the fact that they can manipulate their own joystick. I consider, but not deeply enough, the possibility that Inman’s army of pizza-and-soda-smeared console-humpers could pose some kind of threat.
June 1, 2012
I assemble all the screencaps into exhibits. I finalize the draft into a decent C & D for this insolent fellow. I decide to include a screencap of the pterodactyl in the source code of Inman’s webpage and its weird, coded-in threat to “ptero you a new asshole.” That sort of defines weird, hidden aggression, and has overtones of conjuration and magic that are rather sinister. Hidden texts with secret meanings?
Inman seems like a guy who got shorted on parental affection. At this point, I don’t realize that Inman’s mom is a New Age right-wing-white-lighter, but it wouldn’t have affected me much. After all, people so reared can be delightful. But not in this case.
It takes a wee bit of detective work to find Inman’s street address, decide it’s a residence, and arrange for personal delivery of the C & D. I find a process server in Seattle and call him up, get his price for service, and the arrow is nocked in the string. Tomorrow I play Cupid.
June 2, 2012
I get a voice mail from the process server. He served Inman at his home at 10 p.m. on a Sunday night. I didn’t ask for that type of extra-annoying intrusion. Some process servers just like to twist the knife, or maybe he was busy earlier that night having a good time. Whatever, Inman got served with a nice, fat C & D, over a hundred pages of screencaps attached, with the now-infamous $20,000 demand. I figure Inman will send this all to a lawyer, and I’ll have a chat with a fellow-professional who’ll tell me there’s no $20,000 for me, but the accusations of copyright infringement and the dead links purporting to be links to infringing content will be removed. It’s always amazing to see how some people, like Inman, know all these dandy tricks for fucking with their adversaries while pasting themselves on the top of a Google search page. I, of course, assume that I am immune to his methods. Why I so assume is the mystery.
June 11, 2012 7:13 p.m.
This is like watching a hurricane blowing in from the coast. FunnyJunk’s management told me the trolling had started, a mass run at the website by hordes of pizza-and-soda-smeared zombies incited into a frenzy of console-humping by Inman’s cartoon of my mom “seducing a Kodiak bear,” the visual motif of the “Bear Love Campaign” that Inman had started to raise $20K in spite donations to the NWF and ACS, because like cancer, nasty lawyers suck, and like bears, that are good, Inman is entitled to eat his enemies for breakfast. I go to the Oatmeal and see the picture of “my mom” — 800 lbs. in a red bikini, making crazy goo goo eyes at a bear that’s probably gonna eat her for breakfast. My mom didn’t have a bikini. She died in her navy blue one-piece swimsuit right before my eyes.
There is a red film spreading over my entire mind. Something has unfortunately totally blown loose in my psyche. I cannot hear my superego wailing like a lost soul left behind by the fast-departing troop train of my id, with my ego in the engineer’s cabin, calling for every bit of steam he can get.
June 11, 2012 11:10 p.m.
Speech emerged from our need to articulate grievances. At some point, yelling and pushing was no longer enough, and smacking on the head with stones just hurt too damn much, and we had to find a way to talk about it. It began with grunts and growls. Or maybe pleas for mercy. Maybe the first time a voice kept a stone from breaking a head, that was speech. Yes, I think that would be.
But I can’t speak a word that will stop anonymous cybervandals from posting phony Amazon reviews panning my book, giving my girls shit on Twitter, trying to take down my websites, sending me hatemail, signing me up for free email offers, ordering me pizza, sending me bags of poop, certificates of jerkdom, and really, the kindest one, a free package of Attends. It’s at times like these that having a deep understanding of the universe and an abiding trust in the universe’s merciful nature comes in really handy.
But eventually, sanctity wears thin and you start to seethe.
June 11, 2012
I look at the Bear Love campaign on Indiegogo.com and it makes me gag. What the fuck ever happened to people that a guy with a website and a sick sense of humor can say “Gimme $20 grand to teach this asshole a lesson,” and they say, “Oh, yeah, we’ll do that, and 10X besides!” There is, of course, something wrong here. People may be that stupid, but the law isn’t. Inman and Indiegogo are breaking the law.
It is getting on towards late afternoon, and my head is pounding. I get in the Prius and start driving West, towards the setting sun. I almost let the car drive itself, just drifting west on Speedway, listening to Frank Black. I keep replaying, “White Noisemaker.”
“I heard a lotta talk
So I’m goin’ to the stereo store,
And get a white noisemaker
Turn it up to 10.
Yakkety-yak is back
Gradually, working my way through the post-rush-hour traffic, letting everything in my head subside, the pounding stops. I’m breathing now, watching the reds and oranges and blues of the spreading dusk.
Now I know where I’m going. I’m going to Gates Pass on the other side of Tucson, headed towards Mexico, in the light and radio shadow of Tucson, on the far side of a big, sculpted rock that has a road running down its western slope, steep as a stairway in places. As you wind down the slope, halfway down this big rock, there’s a pullout and trails lead up the rock. It’s a popular place to watch the sunset. Probably a popular place to do drug deals, too. The setup looks perfect, with lots of visibility coming and going, especially to the west. I could imagine one of my old Federal defender clients being popped here. Ah, would that I were still engaged in such unpretentious pursuits as representing real criminals. Instead, I’ve devolved to this level of policing Internet speech of various types. The pure commerciality of it does appeal to me, of course. And actually, visiting prisons, jails, and seeing your clients in green pajamas or orange jumpsuits, with their hands cuffed to their bellies, is a pretty big downer.
I park the Prius and walk up the hill a ways, just to get away from the other people and their voices. It’s gorgeous, and I keep thinking about how as soon as I get back to the office, I’m going to research California law on charitable fundraising. Inman can’t just grab the names of the NWF and the American Cancer Society and start raising money in their name. I’ll call NWF and ACS and find out. I text a couple of notes to my email to remind myself of these ideas, and put them aside for the moment.
I’m here to exert control over this compulsive thinking and rethinking of the situation. I’m leaving behind that useless process of reliving emotions that I’ve already experienced dozens of times. I’m doing something useful. I’m putting myself together from the inside out. I’m not going to use my awareness to listen to words that are intended to anger me. If I’m going to be angry, I’ll be angry for my own reasons. And maybe I’m not going to be angry at all.
In each battle, Clausewitz says, the entire weight of the battle settles on the general. The general’s ability to bear that weight is the difference between victory and a rout. In my own wars, I’m everyone from the pawn to the King, so I always bear the burden of the entire conflict. Some may not see how being engaged in constant warfare could leave you feeling any way but massively insecure, but eventually, if you take to the lifestyle, living in conflict is much more comfortable than constantly eating shit. Shit tastes bad, but once you get used to eating it, everyone will assume you like it, and they’ll just feed you more.
But how do we fight tirelessly? How do we get the energy to declare and fight wars, i.e., to file lawsuits and invest all the scores of hours of difficult brain-work that carrying off litigation requires? How do we deal with the scary work of facing off against intelligent adversaries, being paid nicely, who desire only our legal demise at the earliest possible date? We adopt warrior ethics.
Of course, few people know what ethics are, and they probably think warrior ethics are terribly fierce and semi-barbaric. Not so. Warrior ethics are about preserving the prize while fighting the battle for possession. And the foremost prize, the one you already possess and never want to lose, is basic human decency. That is what I take from the lesson of the enlightenment experience of Morhei Uyeshiba, the founder of Aikido, of whom I’ve been a student for 44 years, since I first saw his face at the age of 13, on the altar of Sensei Takagi’s dojo, two blocks from my house.
Uyeshiba was a very accomplished martial arts master, who transformed the dignified, expansive movements of samurai fencing into a way to dance your adversary to defeat. In Aikido, punches and kicks are thrown, but only to teach students how to defend against them. All Aikido victories are gained by deflecting or evading the attack, leading the adversary along the line of force established by their attack, and either tossing them a safe distance away or sweeping them to the floor, and immobilizing them with a jiu-jitsu-style wrist or elbow lock. Aikido’s been good to me in a couple of motorcycle accidents, when knowing how to fly and land without injury comes in handy. Once your body absorbs the lessons of Aikido, the logic of nonresistance becomes quite compelling.
So I’m thinking about Clausewitz and the weight of the battle falling on me. And I’m thinking about Uyeshiba, and how he got enlightened, not like the Buddha, sitting under a tree, but like a warrior, after a battle in which he most notably didn’t abuse his superior martial arts abilities, and instead, faced the danger of a naked sword without unsheathing his own. As the story goes, Uyeshiba was at his dojo when an angry young man arrived with his sword and challenged him to duel, claiming that Uyeshiba had insulted him in some way. Uyeshiba simply evaded the young man’s attacks until at last, exhausted and unable to continue, he gave up the fight. Uyeshiba walked outside and stood under a fruit tree in bloom. A light descended from heaven suffusing the tree and passing through Uyeshiba’s entire body, filling him with the knowledge that “the Spirit of the Universe is the spirit of love and protection of all beings.”
Uyeshiba walked the walk, so I listen when he talks. Not to strike a blow. Yes, I love the story. But it’s not the way I operate. I’m gonna sue that bastard.
June 11, 2012
Somebody, perhaps Cyrus Farivar, against whom I have nothing except his means of employment, said I told him the California code was vast, as if I’d combed through it looking for something to sue Inman for. That would be going about it the wrong way. What I’m doing is more mundane. I’m just looking at what he’s doing and checking it against the statutes that Inman’s lawyer, the legal genius Venkat Balasubramani, hasn’t given any thought to, while his client goes out and violates them by representing himself as a fundraiser for two national charities that are themselves violating the law by doing nothing about it.
It doesn’t take a lot of research to learn that charitable fundraising is a high risk area for consumer fraud. People’s hearts are always easier to manipulate than their brains, so to put their hearts in gear for “charity” and their brains in neutral is a great way to raise money. But Inman has taken this idea and given it a fiendish twist — raising donations with misogynistic jokes about a lawyer’s mom fucking bears, most certainly to be dismembered in the process.
I know the lesson I’m s’pozed to be getting from this Internet shellacking is that a lot of people want me to stop being mean to Matt Inman, but that just incites me further. With a single act I can tell thousands, perhaps millions, to fuck off. By God, as Hunter Thompson would say, “This is too good to be true.”
Of course, my calls to the American Cancer Society and NWF come back negative. The ACS guy, who calls from his cell somewhere in the freeway grid in L.A., is virtually hapless: “Man, strippers do benefits and give us money. We don’t monitor it. We don’t say No.” Oh well, that’s a violation of the law. I’m going to have to sue these people to give them money. Ah, woe is me, tra-la.
National Wildlife Foundation is even more sleazy than ACS. Their lawyers evade all communications, and I end up sending their lawyers a letter that says in essence, “If I don’t hear from you, I’m assuming Inman doesn’t have your authorization to do this Bear Love campaign involving the image of my mother in the 800 lb. bikini begging a bear to have sex with her.” I guess if you’re really into wildlife, maybe that’s OK marketing, but generally I’d say no to bestiality at the nonprofit boardroom level.
So for what do we sue the insolent stranger? We’ve got “count one, pretending to fundraise on behalf of entities that don’t know you from Adam,” and then count two, “pulling a bait and switch” by using the names of the ACS and NWF to raise the money, then deciding, as Inman did, to expand the circle of generosity to include “some other nonprofits.” Oh, with that one brief statement, he opened up a gap large enough to allow me to claim that we needed a judicial order. Because the money’s at risk of being diverted, in some part or all, to the Seattle Retired Cartoonists Foundation, conveniently being formed right now by Venkat Balasubramani, who is catching up on California nonprofit law with the help of Indiegogo lawyers.
But suppose the judge asks, “What’s it to you?” Suppose Inman feeds all the money to his mother’s pet chihuahua in the form of a lifetime supply of Godiva truffles. I’ve got no dog in this fight! But for the fact that they’ve turned my mom into a swimsuit model for a gruesome, possibly lethal, sexual encounter with Ursus horribilis, I wouldn’t even care. I have no standing to sue.
So, much as it pains me, I must contribute to Bear Love. I think $10, being the approximate average contribution of your average Oatmeal-zombie, will be sufficient. I hope they haven’t thought this far ahead and are going to block my payment. Nope. I’m through. I have my receipt. I’m in.
Suing people isn’t all that easy, especially in federal court, where cases are immediately assigned to a judge, the opposing party has to be served with the lawsuit papers swiftly, and even minor typos are a source of embarrassment. As soon as you tee up one of these babies, you’ve got responsibility, as in — your email becomes a constant repository of potentially explosive documents. Everything the court has to say, or your adversary has to say, is going to show up in that inbox, and if you can’t overcome your aversion to bad news, it’s going to blow up in there and take you out with it. Not reading your email is a hanging offense for a federal litigator. And I am as much of a fraidy-cat as the next guy. Plus, when I’m engaged in litigation for the sake of principle, which I try to avoid like the plague, but have ended up doing all too often during my career, I don’t have the justification “I’m getting paid for this” to fall back on. It’s the all-volunteer army around here. We drink our coffee straight. I and I, like the Rastas say.
I’m listening to Peter Tosh a lot now, especially Johnny B. Goode, with its incredible rhythm and total-redo of melody, lyrics, and concept. As much as I love that Chuck Berry’s Golden Decade double album, much as I loved Chuck Berry, this version of Johnny B. Goode is simply transcendent. Get it, listen to it, make it a part of your life.
I think about my favorite Brazilian film, “Quilombo,” about the slave uprising led by Zumbi do Paumares and Ganga Zumba, and how, when Ganga Zumba’s people disarm after negotiating peace with the Portugese, they look so pitiful without their spears. They have passed from freedom to bondage, and the loss of their weapons is proof of it. Where before, their backs were as straight as their spears pointing to the sky, disarmed, they walked stooped and slumped, as if fit only to be ordered here or there.
So I like that reggae beat of resistance; I like the fact that Peter Tosh was too good to be allowed to live; that his memory continues to fuel righteous resentment against oppression in songs like “The Day the Dollar Die (there’ll be no more war).” And in my case, to provide the war drums for a little personal jihad against the enemies of my mother’s memory.
I told those pseudo-journalist digital drivelers who talked to me I don’t know how many times that I was Mexican and like Italians, we have to fight if our mothers are even mentioned by other people. Random people don’t just get to talk about your mother. Nobody’s seen that movie “Amores Perros” “Love’s A Bitch” in Gringolandia, anymore. Whenever I ask if they’ve seen it, I get dumb looks. First movie Gael Garcia Bernal ever made, and nobody remembers — but I do — and what I remember is how scary Mexico City badasses are. How you just know they will fuck you up because they are fucked up, and they need to take it out on someone. They look at you and you turn into dirt. That’s where I went to summer school, in Mexico City, where I was a fucking gringo nobody stood up for, getting shaken down for my lunch money and shit like that. The way they start a fight that you can’t back away from is by talking about your mother. Inman is that gangster, a little socialized savage with a license to be a prick. Well, I will grab that prick and nail it to the courthouse door.
June 12, 2012 2:38 a.m.
Suit filed today. Lots of people, some possessed of the capacity for rational thought, but few exercising it, and nearly none in possession of accurate knowledge of what I have done, are expressing impassioned opinions about my conduct and character. I read very few of the many, many thousands of words they have written. Like any soldier with a battle to fight, I can’t listen to enemy propaganda, that only seeks to induce surrender and can be of no possible use to me. I exercise my tactical skills, and follow Clausewitz’s exhortation to make every day a bad day for the enemy.
June 12, 2012
Hatemail. Never got this before. It’s a good thing there was only a vestigial Internet back when I represented people in homicide cases. I’d have been getting emails from dead people accusing me of getting their killers off. I read all the hatemail, after turning off the case-submitter on CharlesCarreon.com. Enough of giving assholes a toilet seat above my desk. I give hatemails a Gmail label for later use. Later I discover I answered a large majority of around three hundred hatemails. Pretty tough job, but they were thoughtful enough to write, so I felt obliged to attempt replies. Stupid, huh?
This has become a lot like driving through a hailstorm of ugly insects, foaming at the mouth. One idiotic, distorted grimace after another, going splat on my windshield. It becomes challenging to keep liking human beings, and then I remind myself that each one of them is possessed of a mind that is subject to excitement, and very few of them have learned to control it. Why should they? They live in small apartments and tract homes and trailers; they work in cubicles if they work; they’re harried by bosses, constipated, suffering from acid reflux; they’re underpaid, everything costs too much, and they don’t know how to relax. They play with their joysticks too much, eat badly, and lack real relationships. And there are no doubt plenty who just have had it with lawyers demanding money and acting entitled. Holding up a cartoonist for $20K! How tacky! So of course they write hatemail.
I continue to attempt to empathize with these creatures. It is interesting how they all have individual email names, but say much the same things, in a few different flavors. Many declare that they are “the Internet.” Others quote the Anonymous threat, “We are legion, we do not forget, we do not forgive.” invoking the image of a demonic horde. I’m angered more than frightened, and in the end I am simply massively disturbed.
It is only little by little that I stumble onto the truth. They’re zombies. I don’t digest this immediately. Obviously, it would be too horrible to accept all at once. I tell myself that this is just a crazy thing happening, and remind myself, speaking out loud even that “these people know not what they do.”
June 12, 2012
I have at least two tweeters claiming to be me, slinging shit at people, offending people in my name. Twitter took altogether too long to get rid of them — a day or so. I send demands to preserve evidence to Twitter. This provokes speculation about whether I’ll sue Tweeters, as I’ve reserved spaces for them as “Doe defendants” in the Inman lawsuit, in my claim for the new tort of the era, the DIRA. If the courts recognized this tort, it would give grounds for a civil claim against those who make active netwar against other Netizens.
June 12, 2012
“My site’s down.” There are no more terrible words in the English language, at least here at Online Media Law, LLC, where we host a network that includes the redoubtable American-Buddha.com, an old war horse of the Internet, dating back to year 2000, when “everybody” knew when you put up a new Buddhist website, when there was no social media, when the Internet was still slumbering in an Arcadian dawn, where almost all of the traffic was porn, and such innocent porn, good lord. But I digress.
Tara’s site is down. Time to contact Jacob, who is never so responsive as in an emergency. Jacob and I go back to those early days. Jacob is simply a magician. Jacob soon has the matter in hand. He pegs the problem, a Denial of Service attack, coming from one IP address, conducted by someone running a copy of Web-Reaper to “scrape” the site repeatedly, on a repeating loop, requesting a huge number of copies of certain target pages. Soon, there’s no bandwidth left for anyone else, and the site goes down. The answer is simple — Jacob blocks the IP address. And then monitors loads on the server to see where there’s excess activity, and thus finds all the DOS attacks that are starting up against American-Buddha.com and its sister-site NaderLibrary.com.
Why is the DIRA blowing in this direction? Because my beloved spouse has a blog at NaderLibrary.com that has apparently drawn the ire of my enemies. Tara has a way of doing that. I remember once I got in a shouting match with some road-raging jackass about my mom’s driving, and the fucker tried to pull me out of the car window. Tara was out of the back seat in a flash, kickin’ the guy in the ass! Then his wife got involved, immobilizing Tara with a bear hug, and using special code words, brought her gorilla under control, and got back in the SUV they were driving. It is Tara’s unbending disapproval of any course involving retreat from the field of battle that has helped me to march into courthouse after courthouse to argue causes that could not, on principle, be handled any other way. The woman is a gem drawn from some Scottish-Germanic genetic treasure chest who fits the job description Iggy Pop set forth in his brilliant, but rarely heard song, “Strong Girl”:
“I need a strong girl
Cause war’s where I’m going
I need a war girl
Who wants to show ‘em
Good people want to be
Really what they are
But if you try, you will fry
Plenty before catching fire.
I need a strong girl
Who works on tension
I need a gendarme
Cause I’m after ascension
When the sun’s rays hit my back
On a naked day
I know I will testify
No matter what I have to say.”
Tara knows what it is to make litigation ammunition and have your lawyer use it to destroy the adversary. She knows the legal system from close observation of over 20 years, looking over my shoulder, getting the lowdown on trials and judges and juries, and it ain’t pretty. She knows that.
She knows that the whole reason there’s been food in the fridge and gas in the car is because I wield the coercive and protective power of the law. And Tara’s Internet activities with the American Buddha Online Library and Nader Library are of the sort that requires legal consultation and representation. So she has a certain understanding of the law.
But that does not extend to understanding what the hell is going on on the Internet right now. And how these people who are clamoring about Matt Inman’s right to free speech are so happy that people are DOSing my network and her sites. I haven’t actually heard the phrase yet, but I think the right term for what’s going on right now is “grave dancing.” This type of unchecked malevolence is profoundly disturbing to her.
With Jacob actively managing threats at the helm of our network, I’m wondering how I’ll ever be able to pay him for all the hours he’s putting in. We open two new hosting accounts and open an account with Amazon to buy cloud storage, because we need lots of bandwidth to ride out the DOS attacks that keep coming. The zeros keep rolling along — the way money gets spent in wartime.
Now you’ve gotta ask — why does it matter if Tara’s sites are down for a while? It’s not like she makes any money off them. Even my sites being down — it’s not like I’m going to go broke. Indeed, in about 10 months I’m going to boycott the Internet and redirect all browsers seeking CharlesCarreon.com to a site I built that only shows rock videos. But right now, it’s the battle of the bandwidth, and we are not about to be knocked off the Net by a few Anonymous wannabees.
Y’know, that Anonymous people would be hating on me is so fabulous — it’s like — I’m one of the only lawyers who would even understand the Anonymous attitude, and now they’ve been induced to fuck me up! Asinine. But I guess, in a sort of Cointelpro way, it’s about what we’d expect from a group that is just bad news for friends and foes alike. I mean, you don’t want to mess with the FBI.
June 16, 2012
I tell you what, Marc Randazza, if you’re going to assault me in public, don’t tell folks I’m your friend. I don’t think I even bought you a drink at Phoenix Forum the one time we met there among the skin merchants and clickmongers last year. You had two Blackberries, and you were doing deals with digital signatures right there at the bar. I was impressed. Busy guy, been in porn law since you got your bar license. A man who knows his way to the bottom and swims there intrepidly. A guy who quotes the Marquis de Sade in his advertising. Whoa! Way to bond with the clients. And the foul-mouthed blogging. Yeah, that’s some First Amendment moxie for ya! Everything I never wanted to be, and never could be, due to an enlarged sense of decency, perhaps, that makes me for a sucker. Which is why real sleazebags never hire me. They go to guys like you, who they can count on to place no limits on accusatory trash-talking and fawning adulation for an “industry” that is barely deserving of the name, being more an extension of the phone and Internet fraud complex than an actual provider of honest smut. So Marc, tell the truth. We were never friends. We’re sure not friends now.
June 21, 2012
Contemplating today the IRL (in real life) effects of a DIRA. As I am a pretty quiet person working out of a home office, I have few people who see me on a regular basis. But I shop at Trader Joe’s where I am a well-known face, and you really get to know the people. I even have one actual friend on staff there. I was lined up with my online image and instantly indicted as an asshole by this one Trader Joe’s employee, who until then, had been quite nice to me. Now, he was literally giving me the hairy eyeball. Well eventually my friend got him straightened out with better information and now we are friends again, but for a while there it was touch and go. So that was weird, actually, very weird.
Then there was the unbelievable slam at me in the print and online editions of the Tucson Weekly, taken by some bonehead named Dan Gibson who hadn’t even bothered to call me up. I called him up and said we should get together for a drink and talk so he could know the person he was writing about. He agreed to, then bowed out last-minute saying he had a job interview because he was being paid terribly at Tucson Weekly. It was hard not to point out to him that he was doing a terrible job, just regurgitating tripe, but I managed it. I just hate hearing myself sneer, or I would have told him, and I couldn’t deliver that line without a sneer. So I just said, “Good luck with the interview.” He said, “Thanks.”
The funny thing about the Tucson Weekly item is that it truly did not bother me for long, because no one in Tucson had the least idea who I was. It was quite simply a totally useless news item, far less useful than “News of the Weird” or “Savage Love,” that also ran that week, and every week, in the Tucson Weekly. Which is, I suppose, why they are syndicated, and the bozo who wrote the item about me was looking for a job, leaving a trail of droppings shaped like news items behind him across the banal surface of our local entertainment rag.
I concluded that journalism has essentially become an unpaid, or barely-paid pursuit.
Being the object of hatred in a DIRA is going to put your family members in an unfriendly spotlight, especially if they have active social media profiles. Just as celebrity/VIP status has a halo effect that suffuses those in the entourage with cachet drawn from the main celebrity, so your kids will be negatively viewed by many social media zombies. They will be forced to defend themselves in supernasty online exchanges with people who hate “YOUR NAME HERE”– that guy who does so many bad things. They essentially reply, “Who are you to talk, and why do you care? You don’t even know my Dad. He’s the coolest fuckin’ Dad that ever fuckin’ walked the earth, you piece of shit. You would be lucky to beg a dollar from him, and he would give you a twenty, you idiot. If you were in trouble, he’s probably the only lawyer who would even care about a fool like you.” Perhaps something milder from Ana, who was really shocked by the hail of vituperation that came her way for a week or so during the height of the DIRA.
Maria, the elder daughter, is a very smart woman, and for a while did a lot of whip-smart tweeting. When the DIRA record blew in, one zombie tweeter in particular went absolutely psycho on her, and Maria responded effectively, which of course just caused the zombie to go into hyperdrive with her invective. When Maria sees that the psycho-tweeter is deleting her own most-inflammatory tweets, she screencaps all that remain. Indeed, it’s the beginning of IRL effects for Maria. The psycho-tweeter is threatening to contact Maria’s boss and accuse her of unprofessional use of Twitter. Daddy didn’t raise no fools, so Maria moves first, visiting the HR office with printouts in hand, to get her story in ahead of the zombie attack.
Maria’s HR manager asks a few questions, looks at the psycho-tweeter’s off-the-wall tweets, and says to Maria, as if she’d have nothing to fear from a complaint by such a person, “But this person is obviously crazy — no one will pay attention to her.” Maria’s response was pure New York City: “Never underestimate crazy.” Or zombie, as the case may be.
June 22, 2012
What I did not do was what some experts advise when hit with a DIRA, which is to issue apologies on Twitter. Marc Randazza suggested this, but I just blew it off. Seriously, why would I apologize for doing things I do all the time, and will very likely keep doing for the rest of my employed life? Basically my entire employment is threatening companies and people, except when I’m protecting them from threats, which, however, I do by means of counterthreats. So if Inman gets a pass because he’s an asshole, I’m fucked. In response to my perseverance in inflicting legal punishment upon those who have besmirched the memory of my mother, Tech Crunch and Popehat are posting that “Carreon is still digging,” and really clever jokes about China begin to pop up. Displays of true wit in this crowd are extremely rare. The business of rapeutationing is serious. After all, we’re trying to destroy somebody here. So clichés are more appropriate to this type of work, true humor has no place here, and all these posters have, in my view, declared that they do not hold their mothers, or anyone’s mother, in special regard. They are, to quote The Three Amigos, the “sons of a motherless goat.” Hehe.
Why not go out and address the mob? The opportunity to comment and reply in online forums is entirely illusory once you have been tagged as a douchebag, and thousands of trolls are roaming around online, just aching with a desire to declare that they went mano-a-mano with Charles Carreon and handed him his ass. These trolls are networked, and will collect like cops around a crime-in-progress with endless amounts of verbal ammo to dispatch. I watched a good friend of mine who tried to say good things about me on his own blog eight months after the initial rapeutation kickoff in June 2012. These networked trolls obviously have Google alerts on “Charles Carreon,” so they can immediately attack or add fuel to any fire where the fires of the neverending DIRA are still burning. They discovered that my friend was engaging in douchebaggery by trying to help me out with a little good press, truthfully posting that I had been helping him a lot with his business, and that I was the kind of lawyer who was helpful when times are tough. Like Scientologists descending upon a suppressive who’s been newly-marked as “fair game,” the Charles Carreon rapeutationists simply added my friend to their list of people to fuck and set his reputation on fire at a thread in Tech Crunch. Some of his competitors showed up to declare him a disgrace to his profession for even working with Charles Carreon. When my friend started posting at Tech Crunch to answer the abuse, his bold sallies were quickly repulsed with loads of invective that would have sunk a garbage ferry. He quickly retreated, punched silly by a gang of rapeutationists who had finally got a chance to release that blast of hateful steam I’d been avoiding for the better part of the prior year. I’d sooner try and wrestle a zombie for a fresh brain than engage those TechCrunchers on their terrain. You don’t have to read Sun Tzu to know that.
June 16, 2012
In the Complaint, I alleged that Inman had initiated a Distributed Internet Reputational Attack, what I called a DIRA. It’s called a “Distributed” attack because the task of conducting the reputational attack is “distributed” to many thousands of actors, Inman’s mob. Just like a computer, that accomplished tasks by “distributing” them to many memory registers, the instigator of the attack would assign roles in carrying out the attack to his “zombies.” Inman used his huge email list and the Indiegogo crowdfunding system as a social-media-cannon to initiate an attack signal to all of his followers, whose minds he had already conditioned to pretty much click on command on any ordinary day, at least enough to feed a little greeting card empire, and on a better day, like today, elicit a very large volume of “spite donations.”
The characteristics of a DIRA are all illustrated in my case, which is a textbook example of the use of social media to start an online riot calling for the total and utter destruction of the career and life of moi, what I sometimes refer to as “the object of hatred.” The mob of course wished upon me what its members most fear — many because they are already stuck in it — joblessness. Alas, what my longtime spiritual preceptor Ramana Maharshi said to a man who yearned to retreat from his busy life to be a renunciate has proven true:
“If you are not meant to work, you will not be able to find it even if you look. If you are meant to work, you will not be able to avoid it, even if you try.”
I have never been unoccupied as a lawyer, and at this point in my career, the people who count don’t seem to care about the Internet hullaballoo. Knock on wood.
Now, let’s look at whether there is something legally actionable about a person initiating a DIRA intended to inflict upon the victim a lifetime of employment failure. There could be liability, even if the defendant incited the DIRA by using what would otherwise be protected speech — especially since such a plan would be per se malicious.
Now suppose I start a whispering campaign to disseminate lies about my victim, and it includes, as DIRAs always do, active impersonation of the victim, by impersonators who engage in socially offensive behavior that can then be misattributed to the victim. For example, fake Twitter accounts like @charles-carreon, that had quite a few people confused before I got it disconnected. God knows what the phony CharlesCarreon that was signed up at Pornhub was doing — maybe not much — I only got one invitation to adultery in my email. I had to tell the disappointed online lot-lizard that I was charmed by her interest, but it was not I who had offered his services for a hot time in Tucson. This kind of activity easily extends into active life-wrecking behavior that could see a person criminally charged. If someone pretending to be you was claiming responsibility for the Boston Marathon bombing, for example, that would obviously be an intentional tort, a new species of defamation, essentially. You only have to produce an extreme example like falsely “claiming credit” for a celebrity crime and exposing the victim to arrest and mass hatred to see that such a tort would probably be recognized by the courts as promptly as it was asserted.
DOS attacks have been a tort ever since Thrifty Tel v. Bezenek, where two boys were held liable for “trespass to chattels,” for bombarding a server with random numbers trying to guess passwords and get free long distance. This trespass to chattels was an old tort dusted off from the English common law that found a handy spot in the cyber-litigator’s book of cybertorts. The server-slowdown was a form of damage.
Tort laws say that if an act is foreseeably going to cause unlawful injuries to others, you have a duty not to commit that act, and if it causes injury, you are liable for it. A DIRA is intended to pick up steam, like a hurricane, eventually blowing completely random shit around like pianos through your window, putting boats in your bedroom and dead people on your porch. In the midst of a DIRA, the victim’s personal information is often strewn about for any random person to exploit for harassment purposes, identity theft, or something even more sinister. Since the insane distortion of facts in the Internet echo-chamber is not only foreseeable, but virtually certain to occur when a DIRA gains speed, the instigator of a DIRA should be held liable for the consequences of their acts. Why? Because, whether figuratively or otherwise, they have incited violence against a particular individual, knowing that personal details about the victim are now public knowledge. Therefore, for all practical purposes, the instigators of the DIRA have urged the mob to commit real violence. Bruce Sterling foresaw using an email bot technology to mount assassination campaigns by urging a list of armed wingnuts to take out the target. The character assassins of the DIRA realm are more subtle — one good hacker can disable a bot, but no one can disable a DIRA.
Sean Parker is the most high-profile victim of a DIRA to date, and I’d sure be happy to work for him and discuss his options as a DIRA tort victim in this new field of law.
So what about that other essential element of every tort — damage? Did I have it for my lawsuit, or not? Physical or financial damage must be shown to warrant the imposition of liability. Again, Thrifty Tel v. Bezenek provides that the financial cost of extra server space is sufficient damage to establish the tort of trespass to chattels. So to the extent DIRAs provoke DOS’s, you’ve got your claim for trespass to chattels at minimum.
Additionally, I have suffered a whole series of injuries that take time to deal with, and are very stressful to process. As an author, I have suffered reduced sales on Amazon of The Sex.Com Chronicles due to the phony “reviews” posted for the sole purpose of “one-starring” the book, bringing my 5-star rating down to 3, and festooning the sale page with many comments derisive of me and the book.
What about emotional distress? Extreme emotional distress without physical harm becomes actionable when the distress is “so severe in intensity and prolonged in duration that no one in a civilized society should be required to bear it.” Objective evidence shows that Net-humiliation leads to teen suicides, so I think we can safely conclude that the cat is out of the bag: being the butt of a DIRA is so painful no one should have to endure it. Beyond painful, I tell ya, it’s scary.
The characteristic of Internet hate campaigns is that they scar a person’s reputation for as long as Google keeps reporting the search results in response to their name. Reputation managers will charge you $10,000 per month to recapture Google page one, and those who have looked at my situation don’t sound real optimistic, even with a large budget. They confess inability to penetrate the Wikipedia mafia, although news reports establish that a direct appeal to Jimmy Wales, checkbook in hand, will do the trick. Links to Google faves like TechCrunch, ArsTechnica, Boing Boing, etcetera, push out all the space with mere retellings of a misleading and often flatly erroneous narrative about the case, or about “Charles Carreon.” All of this “news” and “opinion” has, in the case of “Charles Carreon” become so voluminous that what I would have thought impossible has happened — you can no longer find much, if any, of my hundreds of thousands of words of free writing — journalistic reportage for Ashland Free Press, poetry, fiction, even songs and political opinion and YouTube videos. But all of this had actually disappeared from Google search results — it’s no longer even turning up on any page, when you Google my name.
American Fight Songs
Ashland Free Press
Charles Carreon, Attorney at Law
Charles Carreon, the Arizona Kid
Charles Carreon Scribble Factory
Furry Chiclets, a Lawpoet’s Creation (Fin de Siecle — Demimonde — Idee Fixee — Danse Macabre – Joie de Vivre)
Poetry & Songs, by Charles Carreon
Raging Blog, by Charles Carreon
Short Stories & Social Commentary, by Charles Carreon
This is of course genuinely painful, and causes even rich people like Sean Parker to wail for mercy and understanding. This pain caused by the Google-toxicity of your name after a DIRA is going to last a long time. In my case, it will eventually turn into a level of fame that I could never have otherwise achieved. Turning the whiff of scandal into the aroma of success is precisely the transformation I have performed repeatedly during my career, and this will prove no different; accordingly, I am sanguine about the outcome for myself.
But I am different from many people who get DIRA’d. I am a career pragmatist with a free lawyer on staff. Some say that just gives him a fool for a client. Although there is that risk, when matters of honor are concerned, you do not get pick about weapons. By this theory, Inman, who will be represented by others, is in a much better position than I, a pro se with a bar license. So it’s certainly not unfair to Inman. Everyone respects a fighter more than a surrenderer in legal combat, even if they think he’s a bad guy, as in my case. So I’d rather enjoy the hatred of idiots who think my legal tactics are injuring their favorite nihilist cartoonist than hear the smug declarations of “he surrendered.”
June 20, 2012
“All power comes from the barrel of a gun.” So said my father. So said Mao Tse Tung. I never liked that much. I remember once in Pomona, Judge Burton Bach was talking to me and Steve Joffe jovially over his desk before we began trial in a construction accident case. Judge Bach had a couple of old bullets set out in a display to remind you that sometimes lawyers and their clients just have to suffer, but at least we got bullets ya’ can bite. Judge Bach told us he was all about helping us try our case, and reassured us that he had guys in brown and white cars who were ready to help witnesses comprehend the meaning of a subpoena, should they forget.
Now that’s the brotherhood in action, enjoying the exercise of power, yes, that very power that comes from the barrel of a gun. It’s that kind of camaraderie that exists inside stone buildings, no doubt in every land, where powerful men wearing robes run the day-to-day levers of power that extend right out through the police car and the billy club. That’s the business of law — telling people where to go and what to do.
The courts are all essentially military in character. Everything the judge does is an ORDER. You gotta do it. If it’s wrong, you gotta get him to correct it, to change his order.
People think of laws and they think of books filled with rules, but the personal impact of law comes through judicial orders. You may break the law, but you won’t go to prison for it until a judge signs an order declaring you convicted. You may be innocent, but until a judge lifts a wrongful conviction, you must serve your sentence as previously ordered. Almost all litigation is aimed at securing judicial orders, also known as decrees, and when sufficiently final, as judgments. People are divorced when the judge orders it, thus undoing the order he gave them when they got married, which was, to keep their marriage vows, i.e., to perform judicially enforceable agreements made in open court. To love, honor, and obey. Orders.
That’s the main product of courthouses — orders. But if you ask me, “What goes on in the house of the law?” I can only answer, “Some very strange things. We often recreate awful, horrific events before the jury box, and punish the convicted according to a very stern code. We also indict people under anti-terrorism laws for dumb things like flashing a laser pointer at a jetliner coming in for a landing. We often condemn the innocent with false evidence and release the guilty for reasons that seem unjust to their victims. We routinely ignore the cries of the injured and protect the privileges of the wealthy. All of these things we do and much, much more.”
The strange goings-on in courthouses are the work of the lawyers who bring and defend the lawsuits, which are essentially an endless circus of human weakness, and folly, where lawyers play ringmaster. The way the courts are supposed to work, and in form they do work this way, is essentially that the judge does nothing until “moved.” Even if you file a complaint, nothing happens except some deadlines get set, unless you “move” the court. Then the judge acts. If you move the court properly. Moving properly means moving for an order that the court can grant.
To move a federal judge to issue an order, the terms of which you define, is obviously a job of persuasion. They don’t exercise their powers without, at least, “good cause.” In this case, I desire to swiftly arrive at the judge’s door of decision, and get an order, first directing Indiegogo not to release the money raised by illegal fundraising methods to Inman, an unregistered fundraiser. Second, to order Inman not to disburse any of the money to anyone until the court takes a look at the whole process. Then it should be split between ACS and NWF, the involuntary beneficiaries of my pro bono legal efforts.
June 22, 2012
Oh, here come more friends to wish me a nice funeral. Paul Levy of Public Citizen Litigation Group, that previously allied with me in defending against Penguin’s copyright lawsuit against American Buddha in New York. I do so wish I had defensively registered Charles-Carreon.com, because it has been registered at Register.com by some person who has “domain privacy,” who has published a site entitled “Censorious Douchebag,” with my face on it. I trademarked my name some time ago on a lark, just to show people I could do it, and so could they. So I sent my typical privacy-lifting demand to Register.com, waving my trademark for emphasis, and now Levy has written me an email on behalf of the “private” website owner whom he falsely described as a female, telling me to back off. He’s called me, too, which is a creepy thing, because his voice is of that unctuous northeastern liberal style that I associate with my old boss Andy Tashman, who was such a robot that I had to find another job to get away from him. The nicest robot, like C3PO, in his tact and delicacy, but real Death Star material on the inside. I knew I needed a new job when Andy said to me, “Charles, we have the advantage of being able to be like a machine, persistently grinding away at them.” Great. Just what I wanted to do. Run a grinder.
Andy’s mechanistic view of the law was instructive, like being shown how to rivet and set bolts by a master pipefitter. The analogy so far worked itself into my mind that one day I found myself in a strange reverie as I sat eating pizza and drinking beer at La Monica’s in downtown L.A., a bright place where I was very comfortable hanging out with the Mexican manager who spotted me all food and drink except for actual in-the-lunchtime-line pizza. I was sitting there and I sort of had a waking dream — I saw all these guys in suits, carrying 5-gallon oilcans, with long spouts on them. There were many of them, all identical, all grey and tall, like Andy, and they were oiling the exposed cams, rods and levers of a huge, mechanical leviathan that appeared to be streaming across the sea. I realized I was one of the oilers. I popped out of the waking dream, and was hit by the sensation of having forgotten something.
I rubbed my forehead. What was it? What was it? Oh, yeah, I remembered! I was going to be a trial lawyer! Which is how I ended up where I am now, squaring off against a robot who, up until I got his phone call, had been an ally. He’s the head lawyer at Public Citizen Litigation Group, that previously filed an amicus brief on my side of the issue in Penguin v. American Buddha, a new York case Penguin filed against the company that operates the American Buddha Online Library. Tara runs American-Buddha.com and Naderlibrary.com as online library websites, and having PCLG on our side was, I had thought, a real feather in our cap. Now it’s like I’m being called by the free speech Yakuza and asked if I’ve forgotten my oaths. It really chaps my hide, and I’m furious about this damn Charles-Carreon.com. Hell, I sue cybersquatters for a living!
I have this saying that I use all the time — “Never go with a feeling in your head.” The problem is, these days, my whole body feels like my head, and my feelings are similarly everywhere. This is a mistake I am about to make. I write a stupid email to the robot. Should I experience a surge of hilarity right now and back away from the computer? Yes. Do I? No.
I hit send.
July 3, 2012
I often feel especially fortunate to practice law in the Northern District of California, where so many good lawsuits are filed. The City of Brotherly Love has seen fit to make crazy okay, in many ways, and of that, I am all in support. It has a pride, a privilege, and a pleasure to practice law there. But to practice law, you have to get inside the courthouse, or at least, get your papers inside the courthouse.
And something strange is happening. Something that has never happened in the 12 years I’ve been using the Northern District ECF System. It’s down, without prior notice. That means I can’t file my Motion for Temporary Restraining Order, because all filings must be done electronically.
This is the critical moment, when the money gathered in the Bear Love Campaign, all $220,000 of it, is going to pass from Indiegogo to Matt Inman. That’s pinch-point number one, where I can get an order that compels two of our adversaries to do my will.
There is still pinch-point number two, after Inman gets the money but before he pays out anything. But Indiegogo is definitely engaging in unregistered fundraising here, right along with Inman, and taking a 4% cut of this spite-money, which is disgusting for a business that is usually doing legitimate stuff, the equivalent of online bake sales for all manner of good causes. I want them to read the law they’re breaking, and learn for the future. That’s my gift to the world.
So I need to get this Motion for TRO filed, but the site is down for days. Crazy. I’m emailing tech support at ECF and getting no response. I’m wondering if someone’s hacked my office network and is blocking me, so I go out and try to access it on my laptop from Starbucks. No luck. I serve all the lawyers with the papers, but I can’t get them to the judge.
I finally get the papers filed after days of delay. Of course, Indiegogo ignores the pendency of the TRO and transfers the money out from under the judge’s nose. I get an order, though, at pinch-point number two. Telling Inman to do something. To file photocopies of the checks he pays to NWF and ACS. He has about 24 hours to do it.
I monitor the ECF site. The moment that Inman’s filed his copies of the checks in compliance with the order, I file my notice to dismiss. No need to deal with motions to dismiss, ANTI-SLAPP motions to strike, all that nonsense. Thank you all for coming. Of course, I’d love to litigate the DIRA claim, but this is not the time. Point made. Retreat is mandatory. Thus says Che Guevara.
That’s the hardest part of dismissing the suit alleging the DIRA. It was not the day to fight that battle. With the entire Internet lined up against me, with EFF on the adversary bench, and Paul Levy suing me for threatening to sue the operator of Charles-Carreon.com, there were just too many powerful enemies for comfort. Sun Tzu: “If they are strong, do not fight them.” And they were all there, very strong. They could see I had articulated a theory that was supremely dangerous to the free speech mafia. This would not be forgotten. This would be pursued.
I acted with circumspection and caution, dismissing the DIRA action after I’d achieved my goal of securing disposition of the proceeds of the Bear Love Campaign. In this, I did well. My point was made, and when I quit the field, no one pursued me. This is much the same as victory in the legal realm. Which is not the same as peace.
July 4, 2012
Like Vincent Price, returning from another night staking the hearts of the undead, I return to myself after weeks spent bent over the computer for long hours of steady litigation work at no pay aside from the joy of upholding my honor against the zombie hordes and their commander Inman in the courts. Having engaged the beasts, I have enraged the beasts. I am now clearly in defensive position, having roused the ire of the zombies as one who dared to attack the source of their Oatmeal, and reveal, in court filings, the fact that they are zombies. Machiavelli is not at all pleased with me for wounding a powerful enemy whom I could not hope to disarm, thus leaving him free to harry me with counterattacks. But we have had disagreements before.
My dismissal of the case is roundly reported as an ignominious defeat. My own impulses are, however, satisfied. I reached out, placed my adversaries in the magic circle of the Court’s jurisdiction, and obtained an order that prevented Inman from doing what he’d promised to do — photographing himself with the money. He had to send the Indiegogo money to the NWF and ACS, and never got to touch it.
But Inman’s got to complete his publicity stunt, so he goes down to the bank, and, so he says, withdraws $220,000 from his account, and photographs himself with all of this U.S. currency stacked in a large “FU,” with him smiling in the midst of it. Of course, no one can examine these stacks of cash. Eventually it occurs to me that maybe it was actually “joke money.” Money that you can print up at moneyinstructor.com, or kidsmoneyfarm.com. That would be exactly the sort of thing that Inman would enjoy doing.
No one teases out the fact that my lawsuit demonstrably did everything I wanted it to — it prevented Inman, an unlicensed fundraiser, from being able to play Midas with money collected in the names of ACS and the NWF. If I hadn’t sued him, they would each have gotten less, undoubtedly much less than they were entitled to as the stated beneficiaries of the Bear Love campaign. Inman’s ego would have been boosted more than it was, and his influence as a dispenser of largesse would have been increased. We may not obtain awards of damages against every legal foe, but we can restrain them, and Inman had to bow to the Court’s authority. He had to listen to lawyers; he had to think about his conduct. Undoubtedly, of course, these lawyers were all assiduously blowing smoke up his arse, celebrating his brilliant manipulation of the Internet to take free speech into realms of vileness previously undreamed-of. But let’s face it. Hanging out with lawyers who are billing their time is just not that much fun for everybody else.
July 8, 2012
Today is Joshua’s birthday. He would have been 36 today, and he would be madder than hell about this whole DIRA thing. He would have some funny shit to say, too.
Penning punk lyrics are my favorite way to vent aggression, so the first thing I did to channel some hate in the right direction was to write my Psycho Santa song and compose a melodic line. Then I started working on a video to illustrate the lyrics. As the video was being produced with my background vocals and an electric guitar track, I registered the dot-com form of my neologism, “Rapeutation” that I defined as synonymous with a DIRA, and posted a website at Rapeutation.com. There I put up a few hundred fan mails I had received from assorted zombies. This was to be sure that the fires of my DIRA would remain burning in perpetuity, because I had already concluded that the only way to make any good news out of the zombification of my Internet experience would be to take this bull by the horns, get on top of it, and try and ride it to the far horizon. Hell, even if it dragged me there, I’d be remembered for it.
The video uses transformations of Inman’s own art and some original cartoons to depict him as a mutant monster out to destroy the earth. Synchronized MTV-style with the chord changes of Psycho Santa, the lyrics tell how Inman, who was conceived in a CIA biotech experiment, escaped from the lab, and is going to tear the Universe a new asshole. The video sounds the alarm, warning everyone that Inman, masquerading as Santa with his fun fund-raising schemes, actually threatens all life on earth, and is “particularly dangerous to boys and girls who play with computers in the virtual world,” because he “shoots mind rays — makin’ zombies of his followers, Internet slaves!” The video sends a plea from all humanity to King Kong for immediate protection from ptero-attack, because “only a simian of similar size can pluck the pterodactyl from out of the skies.” It closes with a photoshopped image of Inman in the electric chair, wearing a Santa hat.
The Heroic Exploits of Matt Inman: A Work of Perpendicular Fact
Well, Merry Christmas Boys and Girls. I hope you’ve all been good because Santa is on his way and the Air Force is reporting. This is Lt. Col. Merriweather from NORAD reporting that we have just sighted an airborne sleigh crossing the dew line. It appears to be drawn by reindeer, and piloted by a jolly looking fellow in a red and white suit …
— STATIC! …
No, what is that?
It’s not Santa, it’s, it’s … Oh, my God … it’s going to tear the Internet a new asshole!
Well he used to be a pterodactyl up in the sky,
Tearin’ people’s heads off,
and eatin’ their eyes,
But now he’s done a change-up,
Got a new disguise –
All Points Bulletin: Look out for this guy!
He’s a psycho-Santa with a big bag of tricks,
Ringin’ a bell, and beggin’ for clicks,
Psycho Santa got a itty bitty stick,
Psycho Santa, don’t fall for his schtick.
Particularly dangerous to boys and girls
Who play with computers in the virtual world
He claims to be the hero of the human race,
A relief from their cubicles and bookin’ their face.
He’s a psycho-Santa with a big bag of tricks,
Ringin’ a bell, and beggin’ for clicks,
Psycho Santa got a itty bitty stick,
Psycho Santa, don’t fall for his schtick.
His prehistoric origin’s a mystery –
Did he escape from the lavatory?
Was he made by the Pentagon and NSA
A living drone that shoots mind rays,
Makin’ zombies of his followers –
He’s a psycho-Santa with a big bag of tricks,
Ringin’ a bell, and beggin’ for clicks,
Psycho Santa got a itty bitty stick,
Psycho Santa, don’t fall for his schtick.
When cornered he will strike back with a vicious blow,
There is no depth to which he will not go.
Do not attempt to apprehend –
Type “King Kong,” then hit Send.
Ringin’ a bell, and beggin’ for clicks,
Psycho Santa got a itty bitty stick,
Psycho Santa, don’t fall for his schtick.
He can revert to his original form at will.
X-Men got nothin’ he can’t kill.
Only a simian of similar size
Can pluck the Pterodactyl out of the skies.
Ringin’ a bell, and beggin’ for clicks,
Psycho Santa got a itty bitty stick,
Psycho Santa, don’t fall for his schtick.
Apparently, zombies don’t have a sense of humor about being depicted as Net-slaves who hate for Oatmeal, or about Inman being too-closely identified with his chosen prehistoric totem, the pterodactyl. The video literally soars during a few seconds of simulated reptilian flight borrowed from the public domain silent film classic, “The Lost World,” that leads in to a beautiful hi-res still of Kong poised at the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea, holding Faye Wray in one hairy, black, fist, immobilizing the giant pterodactyl in mid-flight with the other. Never have I loved a giant gorilla so much.
Yeah, zombies can dish it out, but they can’t take it. After about three-thousand views in eighteen hours, Photobucket cancels my account. They say they had hundreds of complaints. Gee, ya’ think maybe zombies lack the ability to appreciate creativity? I moved my creation over to YouTube where I should’ve started out in the first place.
Of course, the rapeutationists, with zombie efficiency, having long-forgotten that they started out their crusade on behalf of a poor, beleaguered cartoonist, proceed to torture the creatives, and thus eliminate my ability to mount future media reprisals. They contact all the artists they think might have done the cartooning for the video. One artist receives email threats to destroy the artist’s fledgling online portrait-painting website. Simultaneously “other” emailers suggest to this artist that lucrative deals await a person of such talent who would be wise enough to stop working for Charles Carreon. A second artist, who has had her work posted on American-Buddha.com for many years, receives a phone call, ostensibly from someone in the art business, asking her “what type of work” she has done for the Carreons. She finds the call weird, and demurs before sending me an email about it. I tell her to save her breath and talk to real people, not zombies.
It’s important to note that zombies are not insensitive to the sufferings of everyone, nor is all violence fun for zombies. Fun violence is violence committed against people they perceive as weird or different. Cartoon violence is safe to enjoy because a cartoon coyote that survives dynamite blasts and falls from the top of the Empire State Building is not someone we really have to worry about. It feels like guilt-free fun, and our mirror neurons don’t tune in on the “pain” the coyote suffers in his run-ins with the roadrunner, rather they pick up that the guy just keeps on truckin’, regardless of what happens to him. So it’s actually sort of revitalizing, like being invulnerable, which is probably why kids occasionally jump off rooftops and such. I know that damn coyote was in the back of my mind when I was pulling crazy stunts in my childhood.
Un-fun violence is serious. A totally different thing. It’s violence committed against people like oneself. An Argentine study of the effects of violent TV on children showed that kids liked action flicks, all right – the more bang-pow-crash a movie had, the better. But they didn’t want to see kids getting beat up, or parents fighting. That’s un-fun violence. My video was really un-fun, and the zombies voiced their disapproval, suppressing their oft-declared love of free-speech to the expedient of protecting Matt, the Giant-Killer, from the ever-evil Charles Carreon.
So that’s one more take-home lesson about zombies. They will not take kindly to it if you burn their Oatmeal. They will become enraged, and gnaw all exposed flesh in sight. Do not expose your allies to their sight. Conceal your friendships, because otherwise, the zombies will attack your friends. If you are careless about this, you will multiply the targets of zombie attacks, and lose all your allies into the bargain.
July 8, 2013 (One Year Later)
Absolute destruction brings peace. Like a tsunami that puts everything that is not utterly destroyed precisely where it ought not to be, the zombies have inverted the image of “Charles Carreon.” Previously known as the guy who, as a self-named Internet lawyer, rescued Sex.Com from ownership by a criminal and restored it to its former owner, I am now depicted as a former good-guy lawyer, i.e., a “First Amendment lawyer,” who lost his halo, fell in with bad company (Funny Junk) and became a hitman who revealed his lack of wit by ignoring the Free Speech Mafia and suing an Internet saint. Neither one of these characters — the First Amendment lawyer or the hitman, are me, but the name of Charles Carreon is mis-associated with them, to the considerable detriment of its future utility, to me, as a trade name.
Now I understand what my Buddhist teacher taught us thirty years ago, when we lived in a yurt in a meadow, uphill from a giant Buddha statue of magical appearance, immersed in the wild milieu of hippiedom. Now I understand what it means to detach from your name.
I do it like a swimmer divesting himself of clothing — as a life-saving measure. Living inside the self-consciousness of myself as Charles Carreon is no longer tenable. I recall the horror that struck me as I heard the zombie crowds baying at Vincent Price all night long, terribly shouting his name, “Morgan! Morgan! Come out, Morgan!” As a child in the darkened theater, I thought, terrified, “How awful it is that they knew his name!” By knowing his name, they could pin him down inside the redoubt of his barricaded home, touch him through the walls.
Letting go of my name means letting go of the mass media completely. I made a good start on that many years ago, when I threw away the television. It was so long ago, I still had lots of hair, and my children were nine, seven, and five years old. I walked in the house and once again heard the fighting over what to watch. I picked up the small machine, told them I’d warned them if they kept fighting about what to watch, I’d throw the TV away, and so now it was happening. I pitched it in the dumpster and we didn’t have a TV at all for many years after that, and then used it only as the display for our VCR.
So on the flatscreen in our bedroom, we watch mostly documentaries and nature flicks, some foreign films, and a smattering of everything else except horror. Who needs horror? Life is horrible enough, and that was before rapeutations.
The big thing I give up, but it’s effortless, is reading the New York Times at Starbucks. Aside from the techie-legal news I get in my inbox, I don’t need to know about much of anything to do my work, pay the bills, and uh — that’s all I have to do, right? I know some things aren’t going to change for the foreseeable future: we’ll keep “leaving” Afghanistan, the Euro will stay soft and gold will not be going up, people will keep being killed by drones, the banksters will always own Obama, and Justice Roberts will have the final say on many things of importance. Makes you wish Ike were around to say, “Things are more like they are now than they ever were before.” If, of course, he actually said it.
I stopped listening to the radio. For years since moving to Tucson, I was an NPR listener, which was always a little redundant, since NPR follows the same news-script as the New York Times. I would listen in the car, while driving about doing business errands, and in the evenings, after 7 pm, when Kai Ryssdal’s Marketplace closed out the news show, I’d listen to conservative talk radio to get my blood moving. Now I listen to Spotify and my huge MP3 collection stored on my phone. Music I will not be giving up, because it’s the way I change the channel on my reality.
I put I little cloth image of my primary meditation deity in the pecan tree in the backyard, which turns it into a big, green, organic shrine that I can walk around in the shade while reciting mantra. The Sanskrit word “mantra” means “mental protection,” and is formed by combining “mana,” the word for mind, with “tra.” So mantra recitation is like a safe place I can reside within.
I don’t actually need a name when all I’m doing is hanging out with myself. I’ve been a Buddhist for 39 years, and never realized straight-up benefit to be gained by detaching from my identity as “Charles Carreon.” So like the guy hanging from a vine sprouting from the side of a cliff, with a tiger roaring above him and a tiger roaring below him, I grab that strawberry of namelessness, and pop it into my mouth. Truly it is delicious.