It was 1997.
Abraham Lincoln had just invented the cotton gin, the Western Roman Empire had fallen, and everyone was wearing poodle skirts.
Or was it fleece pullovers from Old Navy?
I can’t remember: I was only 13 at the time. One thing I do remember for certain was being introduced to a new-fangled contraption called The Internet.
Above: people “kickin’ it”, circa 1997
This was in the days before ipods, and I think the domestication of the horse, but there was a site called Tripod. Though it sounds a lot like ipod, it had nothing to do with Apple, dancing silhouettes (or babies) or even pods.
On Tripod, you could create your own web site. The first thing I made was a site with a tiled neon-colored wallpaper that made the text impossible to read, midi music in the background just for the hell of it, and and lots of links to clips of dancing babies. Probably.
The second thing I created was a series of stories about an angry spy named Mr. Blacks. Every so often I wrote a new episode and posted it to the site. Though I was likely the only one reading it, I imagined it was up there with Google in terms of page views. Except, oh yeah, there was no Google then. But there were only like twenty sites online at the time, so we didn’t really need it.
Eventually, I stopped posting new material and the site just kind of rotted in the depths of the internet for awhile. I assumed it was long gone, but I recently rediscovered its remains. It turns out Tripod still exists, and is still hosting the site. Well parts of it, anyway. They deleted a few pages and images here and there, so now it’s kind of like a deformed, castrated ghost of its former self.
Pictured: a castrated ghost.
Since I am starting a new blog, I decided it would be fitting to resurrect the character I created for my first ever website. He won’t be the only attraction on the blog–far from it. But he will be a recurring character. This will be a sort of social experiment about how the culture has shifted, and a reflection of how I’ve changed myself. Or maybe I just think it will be fun to write some stupid stories about a guy who yells a lot.
If you’re not already intimately and obsessively familiar with my character’s previous exploits, I’ll fill you in. Basically, all you need to know about Mr. Blacks is that he is a secret agent who likes to say “you’re fired” (Donald Trump would later shamelessly steal his catchphrase).
Where we last left off, Mr. Blacks had himself been fired and was living on the street, which I must have thought was brilliantly ironic and groovy (as I recall, that’s a word us teen-agers used back in the day).
So stay tuned for a brand new episode of some thing you’ve never heard of, coming soon. Right here, on The Internet.
That graphic was literally made when 1998 = future.