WWW.IMPOSSIBLEFUNKY.COM By Mike White. A year ago I really didn’t know much of anything about the World Wide Web. I thought the internet was just a place to hock crap or download nudie pictures...
A year ago I really didn’t know much of anything about the World Wide Web. I thought the internet was just a place to hock crap or download nudie pictures.
Early into '97 I made the discovery that most of my old college chums had e-mail access. We started e-mailing each other, trading insults and news, feeling as close as we had when we all lived together at 907 E. Huron in Ann Arbor (except without the funky smell). Finally someone made an off-the-cuff remark that we should have a web page for all of us to enjoy but none of us knew the first thing about making a page.
I don’t know why I decided it should be me but within a week I had a brand new copy of The Complete Idiot's Guide to HTML by Paul McFedries (ISBN: 0789714906) in my possession and was completely engrossed. The stuff is practically English! Sure, I have trouble with English most of the time (you hold in your hands Exhibit A) but I felt I could take on the task of building a web page.
I wanted to start small so a month later, Cashiers du Cinemart was online. And I went crazy after that. I enjoyed doing web page work so much that I spent every spare moment I could (and a lot of moments I couldn’t spare) creating and tweaking my site. Whenever I read about something new I tried it out on CdC online.
Eventually I became so engrossed in the web that I decided I wanted to do it full-time. Hell, I was sick of Comcast and video jobs that don’t involve cheesy car dealer commercials are nearly impossible to find. So I revised my resumé, turning it into an HTML document, and started checking the want ads.
Long story shortmy search nabbed me a job at General Physics Corporation. I interviewed there the day after I was informed of my "promotion" at Comcast so I was going to take anything to get the hell out of there. I never thought I could find a job worse than Comcast but I jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire when I accepted the position of Desktop Publisher at General Physics.
The name of the company should have tipped me off. Other than some interesting examples involving the trajectory and velocity of bullets and monkeys, I had been thoroughly bored by my high school physics classit turned out that GPC was even more boring than that.
My office was responsible for churning out "Distance Learning" materials for classes at General Motors (my job search taught me that you can’t work anywhere in Detroit without finding some tie to the auto industry). So I was doing fun stuff like editing manuals for classes on "Design Effects Failure Mode Analysis" and "Design of Experiments." My job boiled down to making the manuals look pretty and making sure all the print was in 14pt Arial type. What could be worse than that? How about a crew of socially inept misfits that would have scared the stars of Todd Browning’s Freaks?
There was Chris, my boss, a champion of Renaissance Festivals who sported the worst hockey hair I’ve ever seen. Chris’ rival was Liz, the type of person who if you asked her what time it was she wouldn’t just tell you how to build a watch, she’d try to sound like she was responsible for Western Civilization’s concept of time and the rotation of the Earth around the Sun. Yes, a real Ms. Know-it-all.
Chris was nice and kept to himself and Liz was quiet if you didn’t engage her in conversations (or if your face betrayed your complete lack of interest in whatever she may be saying) but one of my least favorite co-workers was Anne. I’m not really sure of her positionshe just kind of made a nuisance of herself by talking really loudly about everything in her personal life, screwing up her computer and yelling "Schizer!" (sic) which I suppose means "Shit" in some Germanic tongue but I didn’t really want to ask since she seemed to be screaming it just so someone would ask her what the problem was.
The work was so boring and pointless that I just really couldn’t get into the mode of continuous panic that stoked the fires beneath the busy bodies running around the office. My office was a model of inefficiency. When Amy, my co-worker who had a full two weeks seniority, began to outline all the things I had to do before I could go home for the night that I realized that I conveniently "had another job" in the evenings and had to leave at five (if not before).
After two weeks I realized that I couldn’t take General Physics anymore. When I got back from MicroCineFest (which was a paid vacationthe joys of abusing the honor system coupled with a boss who was across the hall and didn’t even know my name) I made it my life’s work to take the plunge and start looking for work again.
Wow! Lucky for me I had taken the HTML test at MacTemps the same day I got the job at GP so I called them up and told them that I was an "at will" employee looking for something ASAP. Two days later I got a call from one of the MacTemps reps telling me of a sweet job designing web pages that would pay $18-$20/hr! The only thing was, they had to know today if I could take it because the job started in three days.
The next morning I came in to General Physics at 8AM and packed up my desk. I was done by 8:15 and, horrified at the idea of spending another day sitting around writing whiny e-mails to friends who had problems of their own and hearing Anne yell "Schizer!" at the top of her lungs, I grabbed my box of things and proceeded to quickly walk out of the office avoiding eye contact at all costs, get in my car and speed away.
I put in my notice via voicemail and never stepped foot in General Physics again. Whew. All was right with the world.
Until... the next day when I called to see who I needed to report to at my new dream job I was told by the MacTemps rep that the job had "gone south." I was not amused. Neither by his use of a quaint colloquialism nor by his nonchalant attitude. Thanx for making me unemployed, guy.
I spent the next three weeks desperately looking for work, working on this issue, freelancing for a web place that was very straight-forward about never hiring me, listening to more WJLB than I'd ever care to ("Detroit’s Strong Songs!"), and tweaking the Cashiers web site (now with Real Video™!). I ended up getting hired by Leo J Brennan Marketing Communicationsa place I interviewed at a week after I started General Physics.
So now I spend my days working on the websomething I could never see myself doing at the beginning of 1997. And what am I doing online? Designing sites to hock crap and downloading porn, primarily... but now I get mad when someone uses a .jpg when they should have used a .gif and why pages look different when seeing it with Internet Explorer versus Netscape.
BTW, the Virtual 907 site still hasn’t been done! But when it is, you'll need to have Netscape to see it!
June 11, 1998
I am writing to express my gratitude for the last seven months of employment. I regret that I was denied an opportunity to inform you of this during an exit interview. I also regret the events surrounding my last day at your company.
I wish to make you aware that I have spoken to my attorney in regards to the parting remarks/events on the part of Chris Brennan. Not only did Chris threaten physical violence against me but also expressed interest in disparaging my professional reputation with my new employers. If either of these actions are performed I will not hesitate to take legal action. I should also hope to retrieve any and all of my possessions that disappeared while being packed up for me. Among these include a personal directory of addresses [a print out of the CdC database - ed.], my offer letter from my new employers, and several lists of phone numbers. These materials may be sent to the above address.
I feel that if Chris' behavior is not modified that your business will suffer and your venture into the Internet will fail. Chris has severe problems with prioritizing and implementing structure. By promising clients product with unrealistic deadlines, no follow-up, and at no charge, the web department has been taxed with unbillable jobs and clients have been displeased. Chris tends to not only make more work for himself than necessary but he also feels that he must take on every task at hand while not accomplishing any of them in any sort of timely or complete manner.
Chris has put himself in a managerial position yet he does not communicate goals, assign tasks, take suggestions, or have faith in the abilities of his fellow employees; all principals being fundamental to management.
What Chris needs to manage is his anger. Time and again he has verbally humiliated and degraded his fellow workers (myself included), creating an intolerable work environment.
I sincerely hope that Chris gets the help that he needs and that your business does not continue to suffer from his behavior. I believe that you are headed in the right direction but need to rethink your structure and proclivity towards nepotism.
P.S. The Argus Database Project
was done, in its entirety, by the end of the week of February 19th. using Allaire's ColdFusion
(a product I had been encouraged to research and use by Chris). However, Chris' sudden narrow-minded devotion to Microsoft's products along with the inability to delegate responsibility or prioritize caused the waste of hundreds of nonbillable hours and the potential loss of yet another client.
Obviously, the above is not a reader letter, but one I was forced to write after being fired (two days after putting in my formal notice) from my job at Leo J. Brennan. Seems I have a real knack for being fired after I resign├ó┬?┬?faithful readers might remember my tale of leaving Blockbuster from CdC#5.
Yes, I felt that the time had come to leave Brennan. I couldn't take the owner's son storming around, yelling and screaming about some problem or another - problems that he was usually the cause of but he was never one to take blame, nor to realize the consequences of his actions. Seems that a lot of alcoholics act that way. Yes, our boy was a booze hound from way back and he was surrounded by enablers - at least everyone in the office gave Chris a ride to or from work at one time or another (his license being revoked due to his repeated D.U.I. charges).
It wasn't like Chris knew any of these Microsoft products either but he knew - he just knew - that they were better and, gosh darn it, one of these months he was going "to look into" them. Until then, he'd pretend that he knew what he was talking about (and convince his dad and the salespeople that he knew his stuff too) when he didn't even know the first thing about web pages - not even bothering to learn HTML and, instead, relying on crappy WYSIWYG web editors like Microsoft's FrontPage (shudder).
Meanwhile, other things were falling apart for me back in February.
To revisit CdC#5 again, readers might recall my over-long editorial (I think this one beats it) in which I related the fact that I had tied the knot. Well, this year it was severed.
So, in reviewing the last few pages of this ish, I'd have to point out that the biggest reason for this zine's tardiness wasn't the 300 extra issues that I have packed up and packed away in my parents' basement along with almost all of my other belongings. No, that dubious honour goes to my divorce.
Three issues (and almost three years later) it's over. So what happened? I've never been one to keep many secrets from you, my dear readers, and this won't be an exception. However, I feel that CdC isn't the proper venue to go into all of the gory details so sometime later this year I'll probably put out more of a perzine along the lines of some of my favorites such as Good Morning, *Unknown* by Jane.
I know this ish is a little light on zine reviews - somewhere I've got a box full of zines that were formerly in my "to read" pile. GM,U #3 is the one that I've managed to hold on to; to read and re-read. It's a hand written (but highly legible) collection of incredibly well-written and stirring stories that feels like a healthy catharsis. Issues are a buck (send more for postage to be nice!): 163 Third Ave #395, New York, NY 10003.
Speaking of addresses; if you're one of those readers or advertisers who were writing to me in Ferndale; I ain't there no more. Until further notice the PO Box is the best place to reach me. And, if I owe you an issue or a videotape just drop me a note and remind me - make sure you print your address neatly as I've misplaced a lot of things in my moving about, having put CdC "on hold" for the last eight months. Hope to see you sooner with #9!
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