Saturday, January 14, 2006

Pajamas Motherfucking Media

Wow, I'm so late to the game on this one, but it's easily the most wide-ranging and hilarious feud out there in the blogosphere --

Pajamas Motherfucking Media vs. Goddamned Near Everyone Else.

That's right, friends, it's the biggest festival de sissy-slapping to hit the blogosphere, and it's been going on for a wee bit.

Where to start? Loki doesn't like his blog entries to go on and on, and as fun as this is, it also just gets irritating if I keep at it for too long.

Loki has always had a problem with men who wear hats. Now, Loki, being a dude himself, will occasionally don the old ballcap to head out into the elements here at Castle Lightbringer, and this is an understandable thing. It isn't just a dude thing to do, after all; who hasn't seen some cute chick in a ballcap with a perky ponytail jutting out the back and thought it was, uh... cute?

But there is a certain class of men who make "the hat" their thing. Like, it becomes a symbol of who they fucking are.

An anecdote that reveals absolutely nothing about your lively light-bringing host, now.

About 18 years or so ago... Two of my bestest-estest friends at the time were two brilliant and eclectic ladies of (sort-of) color. I say sort-of because Haley (not her real name) had a red-headed green-eyed all-American/Irish-looking Maw and a Paw from Guyana. The resulting mix was this utterly gorgeous and striking person who no one could ever peg ethnically, and the moment they got to know her, they could care less. She's now a playwright, actress, and impresario. The other friend, Lana (ditto on the name), also had a totally white-bread momma and an upper-caste Indian daddy. She came out equal parts Irish mystic and Indian proto-goddess. She is now a professional in the film industry.

Being about as studly as they come at the time, Loki would be sure to hang with these fine ladeez at every opportunity. It was all friendly though, and Lokster still has fond memories more of the clever witticisms traded than the makeout sessions. (Not tellin' anymore there, either, HAH!)

Haley and Lana took me to a film festival held yearly at a major University. Artsy-types galore were there, festooned in their artsy glory. Hob-nobbing in the lobby, the trio met up with a goateed gentleman known to Haley, if I recall correctly. This was before every other dude and their mom had a goatee, when having a goatee was still art-y as opposed to redneck.

Some sort of inane conversation ensued, and while Loki did not participate much, having long ago learned that one finds out much more through listening and watching than talking themselves, I (I will continually switch between first and third person. Just deal with it and think of Seinfeld, and "Jimmy's" shoes, or something), did become fixated on the graying gentleman's hat.

As goateed gent sauntered away -- and this fucker really did saunter -- I reflected on the inane and on his part pompous conversation just witnessed, did mental math incorporating the fucking hat, which I swear to Odin and all his Valkyries was a mother-freaking raspberry beret (the kind you find in a second-hand store), and gray goatee's pomposity, and said to my lady friends, "Next time, can I slap that silly fucking beret off his head?"

Loki has since worn a cowboy hat once or twice, a top-hat (don't ask), and plenty of knit caps and ballcaps, but never, ever, ever worn a freaking beret. My female friends in this story laughed for the rest of the night about this, because they felt, I guess, I'd just nailed that asshole's complete phoniness. I know I felt I'd seen right through the fucker.

Which brings me to Roger L. Simon.

Roger isn't the only light behind the snapping and popping, slowly-shorting-out sign on the marquee that is Pajamas Media, but my own perception is that Roger is likely the leading light. Witness this blog entry of Roger's from 2004:

I have noticed that some are casting aspersion on bloggers for working in their pajamas. I cannot tell a lie. I often do it. I also wrote screenplays for Warner Brothers, Universal and Twentieth Century Fox in my pajamas (do I have to give the money back?) and books for Simon & Schuster and Random House.

I could go on... but I think you get the point...

So hat-boy took notice in September, 2004. Jump ahead to April, 2005:

Charles Johnson, Marc Danziger and I have been sneaking around over the last few months, trying to turn blogs into a business. We have enlisted some others with names familiar to you with the intention of working in two areas - aggregating blogs to increase corporate advertising and creating our own professional news service.

With respect to advertising, we do not wish to go into competition with Henry Copeland's BlogAds, which we fully support. (Some of us even have them!) We are working on another model that will sell ads en masse, not blog-by-blog. We expect this model to go live within a few weeks.

As for the Blog News Service, a lot of work needs to be done and a lot of questions answered. An editorial board consisting of Glenn Reynolds, PowerLine, Lawrence Kudlow, Hugh Hewitt, Marc Cooper, Wretchard of the Belmont Club and Tim Blair, as well as the founders, is already in place with other bloggers in many countries having signed on as contributors.

This is no way meant to be exclusive. We invite you all to join us...

Er, yeah. Sure, guys.

So peeps did join. Da hype machine done kicked in. Back to hat-boy's blog, April 30, 2005:

Response to Pajamas Media on the part of the blogosphere has been extraordinary with well over a hundred blogs already fully signed up (not to mention some 150 milblogs via Greyhawk) and more coming in every few minutes. Besides the US, countries involved as of this writing are UK, Australia, Canada, Iraq, Egypt, Israel, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Sweden, India and Malaysia with inquiries from as far away as Bengla Desh. (Well, Malaysia is pretty far.)

The number of monthly unique visitors this adds up to is as yet indeterminate, but should form the nucleus of a rather large advertising network.

Well, that sounded rather nifty. Ooohhh, money for blogging and the chicks for free. Hat-boy with his pleasant, "I work in Hollywood and you don't" smirk was just so happy.

A digression, now. Sorta.

Meet Dennis the Peasant. Dennis is, um, repressed. Let him explain it:

It must have been some time back in mid-2003 that I started visiting Roger’s blog. I liked what I saw, and liked even more the fact that he chose to write a post praising the first comment I made there. Flattery can get you somewhere with me. Anyway, I became a regular at Roger’s site and ended up, in rather short order, as a regular commenter. And, as I am less than completely shy and retiring, I also ended up, and also in rather short order, as one of the site’s more fearsome Fool Killers (Iowahawk described me as a “comment section samurai”, which is probably as accurate as anything I could think of). Over the course of time Roger and ended up passing a few private emails back and forth, but we never had any meaningful contact with each other.

Some time in July or early August of 2004, Roger wrote a post lamenting the fact that he was getting all sorts of traffic at his site, but that it wasn’t making him any money. Well, that aroused the businessman’s curiosity in me, and I sent him a private email asking if he would mind telling me what his expenses and revenues where. He responded quite graciously by sending me the details what his site cost to start and run, and what he was making from BlogAds. After seeing the numbers, I emailed him my condolences and the rather offhand comment that there should be some better way of transforming his site traffic into advertising revenues. For me, that was that. I wasn’t blogging, so it was all an academic exercise to me.

I had basically forgotten all about it when about a week later (I’m working from memory here...all the documents relating to this are archived and at my attorney’s office) I received an email from Roger with the heading of “A Modest Proposal”. In a nutshell, Roger was offering to pay me a direct commission for any advertising or sponsorships I could rustle up for his site. It was an interesting proposal, but not a particularly practical one: I’m a C.P.A. working in public accounting as a sole practitioner, and therefore am less than completely well versed in the ways of the advertising industry. I informed Roger of my complete lack of qualifications for such a task, and then offered a proposal of my own: Let’s see if we can develop a business model that would allow us to bring advertising (and advertising revenues) to bloggers in a manner more sophisticated than BlogAds. Then he could have his cake and eat it, too (...)

By October we had progressed far enough to feel the need for a face-to-face meeting. It made sense to all of us that I should fly to L.A. rather than to have Roger and Charles fly to Columbus. So I ended up spending one mid-October weekend in Hollywood with Roger and Charles. We met for dinner on Friday and got down to business at Roger’s house on Saturday. That day was passed brainstorming at the dining room table. The critical spark came from Sheryl Longin/Simon’s description of a clothing retailer’s web site that she found interesting. Within two hours, Roger, Sheryl and I had worked out, in only the broadest of senses, the idea that we would use to sell advertising on the internet. Charles showed up in the afternoon (evidently his bike rides wait for no man) and we began quizzing him over the technical aspects of what we wanted to do. Sometime that afternoon Roger came up with the name of our venture: Tulip Advertising.

We spent Sunday refining our ideas and figuring out how much it would cost us (the guess then was $25,000). To keep costs down, I was tasked with recruiting artistic and legal talent who would be willing to work on spec. Rocco and I were to start developing the system we would use to sell advertising firms and corporations on the concept of advertising through Tulip. Roger and Charles were going to develop contacts with various prominent bloggers, as well as explore the infrastructure requirements necessary to make Tulip work. I flew back to Columbus that evening.

The next two months, through mid-December, were very busy. Rocco and I were learning just how little we knew about the advertising industry and large-scale advertising in general. Roger and Charles continued to work the blogosphere, quizzing people and gathering ideas and feedback. In early December we all agreed it was time to incorporate, so I had my attorney draft incorporation papers. In them ownership was divided evenly between the four of us. Rocco and I signed them and sent them off to Roger. And that’s when everything started to Go South (...)

May was not a good month. These were some of the things I got to do:

1. Tell my wife the business I’d spent half and year and thousands of dollars on had been cut out from under me by my “partners”...
2. Tell my father, a successful businessman and multimillionaire, of my great success when he asked how Tulip Advertising was going...
3. Tell Rocco, a business associate I like and respect, that the business venture I had invited him into had ended with him getting screwed out of 25% of the company that had been promised to him by myself, Roger and Charles...
4. Tell a lawyer and graphic designer, both personal friends, that I’d asked to do Tulip Advertising projects on spec so Roger and Charles could forego putting up cash, what had happened and offer to pay them out of my pocket for what they were due...

As it was clear to me within weeks that Roger had no intention of involving me in Pajamas Media, I gathered up the emails, letters, and documents and hauled them to my lawyer’s office and asked a simple question: Do I sue them? He came back this an answer and some advise: A successful lawsuit would be difficult and expensive, and the advise was to let it drop. It was wise council and I took it... for the time being.

It wasn’t until Roger’s little dust-up with Ann Althouse in late July/early August that I roused myself to comment on Dennis The Peasant about my experience with Pajamas Media. Given that my site traffic was around 200 page views a day, and that I didn’t really say all that much (it’s the first in the ‘Ragging on Roger Simon’ category, by the way), I promptly forgot about it. Well, somehow that post got to Roger L. Simon, because the following Sunday morning there he was on the telephone, asking me why I had done what I had and telling me how deeply hurt he was that I could do such a thing to him. He went on to state how much it hurt him that I had forsaken our friendship...

Sorry for all the lengthy quotesmanship, but Dennis is kinda fun once he gets started. Makes your host here look level-headed and nice. Long and short of it is the PJM gang was screwing people over from the start, according to Dennis the Peasant.

He handled his oppression well. Obviously angry and obsessed, but really fucking funny, most of the time.

Then PJM goes to ground for a wee bit, and suddenly, at roll-out, they have a different name. Really brilliant business move there, folks. Hat-boy Simon had been floating the whole pajamas line of hokum for a year, and when they came out in December of 2005, they were "Open-Source Media."

Oops. (Makes little girl in trouble face, pursed lips, hand to mouth, eyes wide).

The problem was, for the "grassroots" bloggerama of regular joes (like a Hollywood screenwriter and mystery novelist was ever one of those), they went corporate. Some branding idiot gave them the Tony Robbins treatment or something, they all high-fived, put on their cute little Roger L. Simon hats, and said, "uh, yeah boss, we's open-source media."

Immediately that was turned by blogosphere wags like our buddy Dennis into "Open Sores Media."

I love that shit. Just one example of anti-PJM/OSM/PM whatever reaction from the amusingly acidic blog, Go Flock Yourself:

Apparently sucking shit isn’t Open Sores Media’s only problem.

This is so high school
The “Certain Thing”

Read these two posts on an interesting web 2.0 tale of lies, deceit, and possibly even murder!

If that wasn’t retarded enough for you, read this.

Update: Whoops, it’s now Pajamas Media again! Hoo boy! They’ve traded one shitty name for another.

Another damn update: This is the press release they don’t want you to see...

Whoever "Go Flock Yourself" is, they's gwineter mah links section, I like they style. "Sucking shit" is just so... evocative. The "press release" linked above is from catch.com, and it is, *sniff*, a thing of beauty:

At our skanky launch party at the Red Lobster in NYC's Times Square on November 16, we sealed up our "peeholes" both literally and figuratively. We also spent a majority of the day fending off the Sea Monster from the buffet table. We went from being www.peeholesmedia.com to OSM™ Media, ROTFLMAO, the OSM being short for Open Sores Media and the ROTFLMAO being short for Rolling on the Floor Laughing My Ass Off, which is what we did after we got $3.5 million in financing for whatever-in-the-hell-it-is. And oh, what a drubbing we took. Many, many readers pointed out to us that OSM™ was an even worse name than Peeholes Media; leper colonies expressed concern; and a very fine gentleman named Johnny Lydon at Open Sores (www.radioopensores.org) politely pointed out that we might be trampling on his bollocks, to which we replied at the time, "Never mind the bollocks." (We’re sending him a pair of warm urine specimens, a heartfelt apology, and his name and his domains back, which we never really took from him even though we loved to pretend that we did.)

All of which, as it turns out, has led us to decide to look even more fucktarded than we already have. We are re-assuming our identity as Peeholes Media. (Just give us a few days to sort the technical issues out. We have an astounding five original OSM articles and Glenn Reynold's Guide to Cutting Your Own Hair to transfer to the new domain.) In short, the whole experience of being caught with our peeholes plugged has been a bit embarrassing, but in the end, when we realized we could get our utterly ridiculous name back, we were overjoyed and very, very damp. So a warm, clammy thanks to all of you who expressed your joy with how horribly fucktarded we have been every step of the way.

So how did this debacle happen in the first place? Back at the beginning, certain, shall we say, big people (i.e., the suckers who invested in whatever-in-the-hell-it-is) decided that we should act like real grown up adults who were given $3.5 million for the sketchiest business model to ever to hit the Internet, and being as yet somewhat immature—at least as scammers—we did as we were told.

Which is how, one day, we ended up sitting around a table listening to Barbie dolls and Tickle Me Elmos from an imaginary "branding" company. What followed is still a bit of a Captain Morgan and Coke induced blur, but it involved a fake tea party and many costume changes, and such probing questions as, "Would you please tickle me?" (Which is how we almost ended up as Tickle Me Elmo Media.)

Enough said. So, in the spirit of "open sores," we thought we’d let the real story ooze out for all to see. And hope that our suckers will be satisfied knowing that not only have they put $3.5 million on the line, but that we'll most certainly piss it all away.

posted by Kevin K.

I don't know who Kevin is, but if I was so inclined, I'd marry that boy.

Well, that's a lot of quoting, but I felt the story was so big it was worth it in order to just give you a taste. The quotes tell more of the details, and following links wouldn't hurt your lazy ass, either. This is also a story that continues to develop funny new wrinkles.

If you go to the Pajamas Media site, you see something that reminds me of having a wide selection of oatmeal-flavored bowls of, um, oatmeal, to eat. If it isn't another useless Instapundit clone -- and frankly, the original's popularity was always pretty inexplicable -- it is a Malkin disciple, though few others in the blogosphere can generate the peculiar combination of the sexy and the fascist like Ms. Michelle herself.

And hat-boy is still smirking on the top of the screen at his blog.

Have I smacked Roger L.'s silly fucking porkpie off his head? Nope. I'm sure he'll be immune to this, he's had much worse. But, I have, if you are new to the blogosphere at all, now given you a relatively quick introduction to a feud that is likely to have some real staying power -- it breaks down, in Loki's eyes, to the iconoclasts and original thinkers versus the butt-lickers and the mainstream. It's already clear where your humble host's sympathies tend to be. If you're a real big fan of that oatmeal-flavored oatmeal, be my guest and head to Pajamas Media and get all fibrous for a day. I won't be seeing you there, because that ain't what matters out here in the 'sphere.

Really though, Roger, love the hat.