It was around two years ago that Zoe Brock first suggested I write for The Nervous Breakdown. We were in her San Francisco lounge room and I’d made it to about the space between ‘some’ and ‘how’ in the thought Maybe this will get me laid somehow¹ when I said ‘Zoe, I’ll do it.’

Zoe, whose debt I will forever be in, for this and so much more, put me in touch with Brad, Brad added me to the writers list, and, secure in the belief that men who write for the internet enjoy more and better casual sex than any other profession, including rock stars, firefighters, and bridge designers², I called Zadie Smith, to ask for my picnic rug back and to tell her I would no longer be needing our ‘arrangement’.

During these two years I have covered some of the decade’s best and most important political and literary stories for TNB, including, but not limited to, the California protests against the now-repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell³, my series of sexually-charged investigative dispatches – the searing and white-hot I Have Gone Undercover at a Week-Long Bridge Designer’s Conference – and, perhaps the piece I am most proud of, my own impressions of Nicolas Cage’s bravura performance in Kick-Ass.

But no summation would be complete without a considered and clear-eyed look at the community that has, perhaps foolishly, and almost definitely regrettably, allowed me to so relentlessly and tirelessly ride its coat-tails. And so, here are my impressions of TNB, two years in.

1. I’m Pretty Sure Richard Cox Totally Killed a Guy One Time.

I base this shocking claim on the following pieces of evidence:

  1. Richard Cox has a tattered and blood-stained luchadore mask hidden in the glovebox of his car – a glovebox he keeps locked, and thus only accessible by persons who are a) Richard Cox himself or b) breaking into Richard Cox’s locked glovebox to steal quarters while Richard Cox is paying for gas.
  2. Richard Cox is hugely knowledgeable about the history, techniques, and rules of the popular Mexican sport of lucha libre. When I asked what, if anything, disqualifies a luchadore from competing, he narrowed his eyes and muttered ‘Some of the judges get uptight about murder,’ before back-flipping across the floor of the restaurant we were dining at.
  3. Richard Cox subsequently back-flipped back to our table and asked if we thought there was such a thing as ‘justified murder’.
  4. He really looked liked he wanted us to say ‘Yes’.
  5. Later that night after shooting a whole bunch of rum, Richard Cox confessed he had a secret past life as a luchadore. Also that he had totally killed a guy one time.

2. My God, There Are a Lot of Us and We’re Doing So Much Stuff.

When I first started writing for TNB there was no Fiction Section, no Non-Fiction Section, no Arts and Culture Section, no Feed, no forums, no View from your iPhone… just a cabal of writers and a green background. The original contingent were hugely welcoming, which I was very grateful for, and which was worth every cent.⁴ Now our contributor list is in the hundreds, we run interviews, we have our own imprint, and, with any luck, we’ll soon have a deeply bitter vendetta with some other online literary magazine that we can use as an excuse to go on prank runs until someone gets killed and Richard Cox gets disqualified again.

What I’m trying to say is, I’m looking in your direction.


3. The Site Naturally Shifts and Settles, Like a Waterbed or Unhealthily Fat Person.

Past narratives were a big facet of the site for a long time, whether of childhood or teen years or past friends and relationships. Organically, a shift came in to more op-ed pieces; impressions and discourse and debate, rather than re-tellings. That in turn took a back seat to list-based pieces and discussions of music and film – bands and singers and movie stars, and what they meant or represented to the writer. These schools of writing have never been all-permeating, rather, they’ve been what seemed popular and common on the site at the time. What’s fascinating is that often, two or three pieces on the same theme will all publish on the same day, independently of each other.

4. TNB’s Core Community can be Amazingly Close-Knit.

Thanks to the fact I’ve met Angela Tung and Zara Potts hasn’t, I have the distinction of having met more TNBers in the flesh than anyone else. While I wouldn’t say that makes me the ‘winner’, ‘hero’, or ‘super-president’ of TNB, I would also say that yes it does and never forget it.

I’ve gone shooting in Colorado with Anon and Megan diLullo; I’ve practiced chi sau in the Rockies with Erika Rae. I’ve got a t-shirt given to me by Becky Palapala; I’ve smoked cigars with Greg Olear. I’ve read with Zara and Milo and Duke, with Gina and Zoe Z and Marisa and Stacy. I’ve shared meals or drinks (or both) with Matt, with Uche, with Joe, with Slade, with Richard, with Don, with Ronlyn, with Alison, with Greg B, with Claire, with Lisa, with Kristen, with Bec, with Quenby, with Will, with Ben… the list goes on, and on. The writers always ask about each other, share their impressions of pieces they especially liked, and talk about discussions they had on the comment boards.

The fact that so many people were willing to open their homes to Zara and I on 2010’s road trip is a unique feature of TNB, and a touching one. Likewise, the way the writers rallied to the defense of Joe Daly during the infamous ‘Almondgate’ saga was telling – an illustration that the site, at its best, balances perfectly between publication and community.

5. It’s a Good Thing We have Meta-Discussions about Things Like Niceness.

TNB’s community is quick to have discussions about matters relating to the mechanics of writing for the site in specific, or writing itself in general. Gina’s excellent piece on the risks of writing, for instance, garnered an instant and considered response. So too did the Benton/Olear juxtaposition of pieces about whether TNB’s commentary could be overly nice and/or the praise perfunctory.

These sort of discussions are important to have, for the sake of the site itself. We grow stronger – and better – through the act of considering what it is we’re doing, where it is we’re going, and how it is we’re creating something in concert with others. Self awareness FTW.

6. TNB Will Make You a Better Reader and a Better Writer.

There are a number of hugely distinctive voices present on TNB, each with their own strengths and recognition. Duke Haney, for example, quickly established his individuality with his strength of prose and honesty of phrase. Brin Butler and Matthew Gavin Frank can always be counted on to flawlessly draw rich canvases of place, so real you can almost touch them through the screen. Lenore Zion‘s humour is ever-present, even as she’s discussing school bus bullying or condiment judgmentalism, just as Zara Potts will undoubtedly have a rich core of emotion running through her work (I’d love to reference and dissect everyone. But I have neither the time nor the space, and more importantly, I do not currently owe you any money).

Finding and reading individual authorial nuances is part of the joy of TNB; coming to grips with these disparate contributions and engaging with one, then another, then another, in the same space of time. And across time more pieces come in, which build and define a particular voice further, or invite the reader to change their opinion and impression of it… It would be difficult, if not impossible, to disseminate this much content, this fast, without the aid of technology and the internet, and it’s an integral part of TNB.

Reading the other writers of TNB makes me aware I have a responsibility as a writer; one I take more and more seriously. Greg Olear recently referenced a quote by James Michener, that unless you think you can out-write Tolstoy, you’re wasting everybody’s time. Michener was being more than a little hyperbolic, but he’s got the wavering outlines of a point. Now when I approach the keyboard I make a note to remind myself that my responsibility is to write something of merit; something I can look back on in another two years and still be content to attach my name to and stand alongside the other pieces of the authors of TNB⁶.

Either that or I should write something about how, one time, my ex-girlfriend had sex with Steve Buscemi.

7. Brad Listi has put an Amazing Thing Together Here.

From MySpace blog to international community, literary magazine and publishing house? That’s a big journey. My thanks, Mr. Listi, for allowing me to be a continuing part of it, in so many ways.

8. Brad Listi has an Unpleasant Surprise Coming

Because Brad’s 2009 discovery that he had a long-lost twin brother, born and raised into a Mexican luchadore dynasty, turned tragic later that day with the news he received, only hours later, that Senor Listi had been killed, horrifically, by a mysterious and vengeful rival known as ‘El Profesor Diablo’, who then disappeared, never to compete as a luchadore again, forever disqualified and saying something about moving to Tulsa.

However, that amazing story, and the subsequent coda of how I distracted Brad from his grief with a call to some friends in the bridge design industry, is one for another time.



¹ How wrong I was.

² Fact: 3 out of every 10 divorces worldwide occur due to acts of infidelity committed with a bridge designer.

³ And frankly, it stings a little that my crucial efforts have been largely ignored in the speeches of a grateful people.

⁴ Especially as I recouped some of these funds later from a glovebox.

⁵ I would also say that this position should probably involve cash somehow.

⁶ This was never, ever, previously a consideration, as much of my back catalogue will testify.

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SIMON SMITHSON is an Australian writer and editor. He is currently based in Melbourne, Australia, but frequently finds himself in Los Angeles and San Francisco. His work has appeared on both sides of the globe in print and online in publications such as BLIP, Every Day Fiction, Beat, The Loop, My Sinking Boat, and more. He has a tumblr at www.simonsmithson.com and he runs a lifestyle experiment at www.selfhelpless.net.

95 responses to “I Left My Jacket at Gina 
Frangello’s House”

  1. Ah, Simon, your snazzy black jacket! You simply have to come back to Chicago–longer, please, this time. The jacket awaits . . . not much the worse for wear. Though I have been known to throw it over David when an occasion arises on which I wish him to be mistaken for a 20something Australian hottie (wait, that might be an okay mistake on a daily basis! But I digress . . . ) Thus far, it has been used only in a real pinch, like when I believe David might be barred from entering an establishment if he wears the 20 year old leather jacket he usually sports, which is falling apart while he wears it.

    There’s something really magical about meeting TNBers in person. I can’t even explain it. It’s more like a family reunion than a blind date. A very cool thing indeed.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      I’m so pleased a hobo doesn’t have that jacket. Which, I’ll admit was kind of how I was selling to myself – when I originally discovered it was missing, I figured I’d left it in a hotel room somewhere, and maybe some fat dude from Orlando named Earl who was down on his luck had ended up with it. ‘Oh, well,’ I’d say. ‘It’s a sign that the Universe is abundant and now someone who really needs it has it.’

      Then when you said I’d left it at your place I said ‘Oh, thank God.’

      I’d love to come back for Chicago for longer, and compliments will completely and totally do the trick to get me there.

      TNB people are good people. At least, they have been in my experience.

  2. Irene Zion says:


    I totally believe what you say about Richard Cox.
    Under the mild mannered exterior of Richard Cox is a bubbling stew of quite a few different people.
    I like them all.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Straight up, Irene. Straight up murder. That’s what RC ordered to drink after he’d finished all the rum in the place. He looked the bartender right in the eye and said ‘Well then, I guess I’ll have a glass of murder. Straight up.’

      Then he also asked for a little umbrella, which kinda ruined the effect.

  3. I couldn’t agree more with #6. Absolutely! Since I discovered TNB shortly before joining it’s ranks last May, I love reading these pieces on TNB’s evolution and what it was like before I crashed the party. Also I am now very frightened of Richard.

  4. It’s interesting how enjoyable these pieces about the site itself are to me. It speaks to that community thing again. We’re like a Non-Fight Club: the first rule about TNB is that you talk about TNB.

    I remember coming aboard here thinking I might give it a try for a month or two, and now over a year later, it’s become a home away from home for me. I can’t imagine where I’d be without it. Very possibly I would have chucked the craft of writing altogether after waiting another three months on a submission that, even if published, I’d once again see zero reader feedback on.

    But here I have something else altogether, and I get to enter the ring with luchadores.

    • Ronlyn Domingue says:

      “We’re like a Non-Fight Club: the first rule about TNB is that you talk about TNB.”
      LOVE THIS.

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      Write Club. (:

      • Simon Smithson says:

        I love the reflexivity of the site for a number of reasons, I’m also curious about whether we sway the direction of the site by talking about it. Probably, a scientist could explain better than I that whole observation paradox. Is it in evidence on TNB? I’ve seen pieces spawned from comments before, which would indicate it is.

        Nathan, really? That would have been an unpleasant loss. I’ve enjoyed your pieces on France and family; I’m glad to think TNB was instrumental in keeping them coming.

  5. Becky Palapala says:

    That is the best t-shirt I have ever bought for anyone, I hope you know.

    I’m sort of amazed I was even willing to give it away.

    But that’s the kind of sacrifice I’m willing to make for this community.

    Maybe the only kind, but it’s a pretty big one.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Did I tell you a guy from Cleveland stopped me to tell me how much he liked the shirt? I think it was Cleveland, anyhow. He had a beard, if that helps.

      For some reason this makes me think of this:


      • Becky Palapala says:

        You will not be surprised to hear that I have already seen that video. It was shared with me by many fellow water recreation enthusiasts.

        I don’t if know you told me about Cleveland guy’s approval of your t-shirt. I believe it though. Midwesterners can be surprisingly clannish, especially the Upper Midwest/Great Lakes peoples. I don’t know what goes on in the other Midwest. The one SW of here.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Clannish doesn’t really cover it.

          Clannish and place-proud.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          Yep. It was as we were on our way to NY. We stopped at a mall/gas station kinda deal and he just wandered right up and said ‘Hey!’

          I think he was then surprised by my Australian accent.

        • Zara says:

          I wore my tee shirt yesterday! Thanks Becky!!!

          Brew – was that the station that sold all the Jesus teeshirts? Or the one where I pretended I was Australian after all those porn cards fell out of my wallet? Or the one with the giant dolls? Or the one where that guy told us that the junkyard guy wasn’t right in the head? Or the one with no power? Or the one with all those scary men in halliburton overalls? Or the one where the prison guy asked me for a cigarette? Or the one.. Oh they were so much FUN!

        • Simon Smithson says:

          Jesus t-shirts: Iowa, right up the top of that big hill.

          Australian porn: North Carolina, maybe?

          Giant dolls: I have no idea.

          Junkyard Dude: Illinois.

          No Power: West Texas.

          Scary Men: Alabama.

          Cigarette Prison Guy: Mississipi.

          The t-shirt was one of the times we stopped and stretched our legs and went in and bought food, but it was sunny, not the time we did that and got rained out.

  6. I covet this sentence, Simon: The Site Naturally Shifts and Settles, Like a Waterbed or Unhealthily Fat Person. I think it should be on the TNB masthead.

    Jessica Anya Blau brought me here — suggested my name to Brad — Brad sent me a password and I was like, seriously? Just like that? But wait, you don’t want to know how truly odd I am? Or that maybe sometimes I’m boring, more than boring and extremely neurotic? For someone who has avoided joining a group HER ENTIRE LIFE here I was at TNB. The angst I felt upon posting my first piece (I know this was all in my head) was like the spotlight had been turned on me standing on an empty stage and all the REAL writers were waiting to sting me in the comments section. When my in-box started to fill I panicked.

    What a shock to my cynical hermit-like self that there were people here who not only responded to my writing but offered helping hands and word of mouth and podcasts and reading series slots as my first book launched… and have been indulgent and supportive as I’ve retreated to work on number two. (although I am wondering if I should be scared of Richard).

    If TNB had a yearbook I might be scrawling: “Friends for Life,” across the page. TNB, what a complete and utter surprise.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      I have a feeling that I’ve already made a contribution to the TNB masthead – girls are crazy, guys are stupid. Does that one still scroll? It’s one of mine. A friend of mine in SF decided we should get it made into a t-shirt.

      Really? You’re not a joiner, Robin? Living Colour wrote a song about that one time.

      But I digress – I very definitely had you in mind when I was writing this piece, as your most recent was, I thought, a really strong reminder of some of my favourite narrative-style pieces that have graced TNB. It also made me think that I had to raise my own personal bar; always a good thing.

      If TNB had a yearbook I might be writing ‘How’s your sister?’

  7. Art Edwards says:

    “What’s fascinating is that often, two or three pieces on the same theme will all publish on the same day, independently of each other.”

    I very much believe in the TNB collective unconscious. It almost like we’re one thing.

    Thanks, Simon.


  8. Ashley Menchaca (N.O.Lady) says:

    I’m not in the ring with the luchadores, as Nathaniel put it, but I’m definitely on the side lines cheering you guys on. I’m in your corner wiping blood and sweat, telling you things like, “YOU ARE THE MAN!”, and handing you a blade to conceal in your tights. Whatever it takes for you to win because I love you all.

    Maybe one day I’ll have enough cahones to enter the ring but for now, I’m content just being a part of the background in the pictures.

    -New Orleans Lady

  9. “My God, There Are a Lot of Us and We’re Doing So Much Stuff.”

    How very, very true. I learn a lot from this website, as I tell Brin every time he posts something about the world of boxing. I’m always amazed when I take a look at the homepage and see the absolutely ridiculous diversity in subject matter.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      I know, right?

      I think that’s one of the great appeals of TNB, that there’s such a slew of different approaches not just in style, but in content itself. Not only that but we have Ted and Meg on the Feed, we have audio, we have TNB TV… there’s really a lot going on.

      Man. If you’re a new reader, where do you start?

  10. Ronlyn Domingue says:

    The Almondgate incident was a classic example of family rallying for family.

    Recently, on another site, I read an article that interested me and then bothered to glance at the comments. Wow. Mean, disrespectful, crass… It made me appreciate even more the spirit of community that TNB writers and readers embrace and encourage.

    We rock.

    • Brin says:

      It’s a very generous piece all the way around, Simon. It’s a great group.

      I’m sorry we never had a chance to meet up. Too much running around. If you ever pass through New York again…

    • Simon Smithson says:

      @Ronlyn: Wasn’t it just.

      I think it’s great that we have the support of fellow writers at TNB, because, let’s face it, the validation of a paycheque is not something that you can necessarily rely on when writing for the internet. Often, the feedback of your peers will be as much as you can hope to get, and you need it to keep going.

      Then, of course, there’s the danger of it going too far the other way, and, as has been commented on TNB before, the spectre of empty praise for the sake of friendship is raised. But what writer doesn’t have to deal with that anyway?

      @Brin: thanks, amigo! And believe me, you have a deal.

  11. Greg Olear says:

    1. This is my new favorite title of any post ever.

    2. It was way fun to smoke cigars.

    3. We rock.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      1. I keep looking at it and smugly thinking, Simon… you did a good job there, buddy.

      Of course, I also think that after a) finishing meals, b) filing any kind of paperwork and c) choosing clothes to wear.

      2. Wasn’t it just? I keep thinking about kicking back and smoking cigars now.

      3. We most definitely do.

  12. Brin says:

    Simon, (or anyone) can you put up a link to this “Almondgate” thing? I’m curious and I’ve been off the map for a while in the government censored internet land of Cuba.

  13. angela says:

    fun piece, simon! i laughed out loud more than once.

    “What’s fascinating is that often, two or three pieces on the same theme will all publish on the same day, independently of each other.”

    i know, right? how does that happen? it’s so weird.

    Super-President Simon Smithson. i like the sound of that.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Thanks Angela!

      Ah, my beloved Super-Presidency. I was searching for a phrase so moronically full of itself that no one could possibly believe I actually believed that about myself, having learned from the grim moment at 826 Valencia, when I proclaimed, tongue firmly in cheek, that I would be the best volunteer ever.

      A shocked silence greeted my announcement, and I realised that I could not sell sarcasm to a San Franciscan hipster audience.

  14. Tawni Freeland says:

    Recently, I watched Richard Cox give a presentation about the magic of reading to a roomful of people. I noticed he was holding what looked like a red tie-dyed washcloth in his hands the whole time. He rubbed it manically as he talked, with a violent, crazed gleam in his eye, peppering his speech with odd wrestling metaphors. Now that I know it was actually a blood-stained luchadore mask, and a thinly veiled presentation about the magic of killing, I feel lucky to have escaped the theater with my life.

    I love this funny piece so hard, Simon. (Even more than Ian Somerhalder.)

    • Simon Smithson says:

      I’m so happy you used the phrase ‘magic of killing’ Tawni. You have no idea how much.

      (and thank you. I’m glad you liked it. Although now I know you’re lying, because no one could love anything more than Ian Somerhalder).

      • Richard Cox says:

        I never mentioned in my previous posts that the Xanadu you all claim to love is really Dante’s mysterious tenth circle.

        Be careful, Tawni. I’ve already deconstructed the pictures and videos of Snowmageddon to figure out where you live. If you don’t want to fall victim to the same fate as Simon, you should keep quiet about my wrestling metaphors. And the blood.

  15. Richard Cox says:

    When I said “Release the Kraken,” Simon, I wasn’t kidding.

    But what you’ve done here is not wise, my friend. I told you those things in confidence.

    Watch yourself.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Que mal! Es profesor Diablo!

      Tambien, que gravitar!

      I can’t believe I missed an opportunity to talk about the community spirit as evidenced through the use of lightsaber photos. That was sparked totally by contributors, and it became a wave of purely-social interaction throughout the site.

      Watching that kind of stuff is fascinating to me, as is considering the space TNB exists in. We’re not solely a publication, but publication is our reason for existing. We’re not solely a community, but community is what drives the publication. And the strength of either side of the spectrum is the strength of the site as a whole.

      • Richard Cox says:

        The lightsaber thing was interesting to me as well. Of course it was mainly fun, making the images, but lots of social considerations were also at work there.

        Since Slade and I were building most of the images, it was interesting to see which of us would be asked by a particular person for a lightsaber image. Would the requester send us pictures to use or let us look through FB and pick one? Did they like the picture (not every image I made was used)? How long did they leave it up?

        Because there was an initial push, which reached its peak when Greg used on one the home page, and then it gradually died. Then there was a secondary wave when the lightsabers were added to squirrel Gravatars. And finally there was the inevitable backlash.

        For me it was an interesting look at the life cycle of a meme, which in this case was mainly contained to TNB…although it did spread to FB for a short time.

        I like the idea of an entity reflecting upon itself. And I like this post quite a lot, Simon.

        It’s too bad I have to kill you now.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          Wasn’t it, though. Suddenly, TNB had made a shift in function where there was an intra-TNB meme all our own; not exclusionary, but certainly noticeable. And I also noticed the backlash against the second wave.

          It’s the same way in which personalities clash, either on or off the boards. There’s a very human element present in TNB; it’s not a pristine, emotionless creation – a magazine, for instance, is just printed words or paper without the benefit of real-time interaction. Here, though, the inclusion of personality leads to personality dynamics, which will in turn lead to the shaping of the site around strong personalities and/or movements. For instance, the lightsaber gravatars. Very visible, very visually provoking in large numbers… As that sort of stuff happens (and that’s one example; it doesn’t include some of the incredibly lengthy discussions we have that have nothing to do with literature, or even the piece at hand) we shift away from being a literary website and more towards being a communal website. But, at the same time, what else would we be, but a literary website?

          Thanks, RC – glad you’re enjoying it.

          Kill me if you must, but bury me like a Viking.

  16. Victoria Patterson says:

    You were the first person to comment on the first piece I wrote for TNB–very welcoming and funny and kind. And you’ve described TNB so well. Love this: “The Site Naturally Shifts and Settles, Like a Waterbed or Unhealthily Fat Person.”

    Oh, and p.s. I always had my suspicions about Richard Cox.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Oh, I was? Good for me! (but I’m honestly pleased to hear it, and pleased you remember).

      Thanks, Victoria.

      Also: seriously. Stay away from Cox if he’s been eating Mexican food or watching Selma Hayek films. The memories… they turn him into something ugly.

  17. Joe Daly says:

    When I saw the title, I immediately thought, “yeah you did!” Sorry, I’m still twelve.

    Loved this pimpalicious assortment of piquant observations on doing time here at TNB. It’s a great reminder of how unique this little collective is- creative and defiant, yet welcoming and supportive.

    The first time I hit a TNB event was the LA reading this summer, when Gina and Zoe Z read at The Den, along with a few choice others, including yourself. As I shook hands with the many avatars whose stories I’d read and who had commented on my own, I was humbled by how genuine every single person was. Except you- you were stirring up a big ol’ pot of pimping, and all I could do was sit by as closely as I safely could and bask in the glow of it all.

    I have to admit that I had no idea that Coxy had ever killed anyone, but every literary collective has to have a Jerry Lee Lewis, so I guess he’s ours. Which is actually pretty cool. For an Oklahoman and all.

    • Simon Smithson says:


      You know, I posted this late last night then went to bed. I woke up, re-read the title, and thought Oh. Are people going to think I’m claiming to have banged Gina one time?

      Apologies to all concerned, especially Gina, if that’s how this comes off. I left my jacket at Gina’s house while I slept downstairs. Alone in a bed. While she was upstairs with her husband. There was no banging on my account.

      Apparently I’m still twelve too. Especially because I use phrases like ‘banged’. But that’s mainly because of my all-consuming love for It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. In fact, I’ve never banged anyone mentioned on this entire piece.

      Except for Brad’s long-lost twin brother. It was a strange summer.

      Man, that was a fun night! It was great to meet you, and I had to run into the bathroom to hyperventilate into a paper bag and take notes on how a real pimp pimps.

      But isn’t it great to meet the people you’ve read and suddenly flesh out the persona behind the pieces? That’s been a great experience for me. Especially as none of the people I’ve met have been, you know.


  18. Zara says:

    Grrrrrr! I can’t tell you how much it drives me crazy that you have met one more TNB’er than me.
    Oh! It does! Grrrr. Grrrr. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

    This is s a very interesting subject, Brew -TNB.

    I mean, we all talk about it like crazy. It permeates our lives in so many different ways. We love it and we get angry at it and we miss it and admire it – it’s like a family. All the different connections and the resulting emotions it invokes in us is quite remarkable.

    I’ve said it a jijjion times, but I feel like I have made connections here that have spoiled me for the real world. The love and friendship and intellectual stimulation I receive from this site is impossible to put into words. So I am not even going to try. Except I just did. So that was a lie.

    Oh, and I’m not scared of Richrob. Even in his killer mask.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Oh, no, I know. Believe me, I know.

      And I love it.

      Like any community, the more deeply you involve yourself in it, the more deeply it’s able to affect you, I think. And it does evoke an emotional response – one of my favourite things to consider is the internet crush. You see a gravatar, a chosen, 100-square pixel snippet, and read a piece, and suddenly, boom.


      It’s probably easy to spoil yourself with a site like TNB because you aren’t bound by the rules of regular etiquette. You can go and make a sandwich or a cup of tea and then go right back to having a conversation; you can pick it up again a day later if you want. People can jump in or jump out… it’s great, in that sense.

      Then you have the darker side, which is, of course, Internet Anger. That horrible, frustrating, eyes-narrowed vitriol (which, thankfully, I’ve only seen on TNB when Korean sympathisers tracked down David Wills).

      There have been some great connections for me personally thanks to TNB – especially yourself, brew!

      Although I think you’re wrong not to be scared of RC.

  19. Lenore Zion says:

    simon this was so sweet. although, i totally don’t get the killer vibe from cox. maybe my intuition is off. either way, it’s sweet of you to write that about him on the internet.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      That’s Cox’s magic. Or devil science, depending on how you want to look at it.

      Anyway, I like that now if you Google ‘Luchador death tragedy’ it will, eventually, bring you here.

      And to Richard’s real name.

  20. D.R. Haney says:

    A few points:

    Richard and Brad were competitive bloggers on MySpace once upon a time, which might explain the “amazing story” you yet to tell.

    I have recently met Irene Zion and Kimberly Wetherwell, just as I’ve met Brin Butler and J. Ryan Stradal and Jonathan Evison and Tony DuShane and Thomas Wood (O wither hast thou gone, Thomas?), so I’m fast closing in on your record.

    I was relieved that the hyerlink on my name didn’t lead to a “Duke Haney sucks” page. As far as I know, such a page doesn’t exist, which is nice. We should all have such luck. Anyway, I do appreciate the kind words.

    I had intended to write a longer list, but there’s a strange truck loitering outside my window, and I must now go to investigate. Also, a hipster wearing those huge earphones that have lately become fashionable just walked past my window, but I won’t investigate that.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      RC and I actually both spent some time on Zoe’s blog back in the MySpace days, which was another connection I had been previously unaware of.

      We should have some sort of baseball card series – I have yet to get a mint-condition K-Dub, and Thomas Wood!?!? Man, what happened to that guy?

      And you’re welcome. I call them as I see them, and I, too, have yet to see a ‘Duck Haney Sucks’ page. If there was to be such a thing, I’m sure it would be run by, I don’t know, Surf Nazis or something.

  21. J.M. Blaine says:

    His new photo
    I think
    he’s got an

    • Simon Smithson says:

      My friends J and J will be very pleased to hear you say so, as they did makeup and photography. It’s all part of my grand plan to get an agent – faking it, until I am, as they say, making it.

  22. Matt says:

    Wait, wait, everyone else got hooked up with TNB via someone who was already writing there? Damn. I pitched myself to Brad out of the cold, and oh, the hoops he made me jump through before he accepted me. Literally. While wearing nylons, a tutu, big read clown shoes and barking like a seal. It was so humiliating.

    But so worth it.

    You’ve reminded me that I’ll be coming up on my two-year TNBaniversary in a few months. All I can say for the time being is I am so glad Coxy’s around to distract everyone from my own exploits in the realm of ultraviolence.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      All except the nylons make it sound like a clown outfit.

      But then why would you put nylons on a clown??

      This train of thought is an unpleasant one.

  23. Jessica Blau says:

    I love everything you write here! I want to meet you in person so that you’ll be two up on Zara! BUT, I REALLY want to hang out with Zara, too, so that would make you only one up. I must meet you both at the same time and you’ll just have to settle for one up!

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Well, maybe I could just be two up on Zara for a little while. Then after you meet her I could meet another TNB-er, so just as she thinks she’s closed the gap… bam!

      Thanks, Jessica Anya Blau!

  24. Uche Ogbuji says:

    Simon, as one footnoter to another, I must respectfully observe this anniversary of yours by addressing my responses to the illustrious domain of the bredrenhood.

    ¹ Liar liar, pants on fire from the friction of frequent disrobings at the hands of mail order Russian brides who’ve become TNB Groupies despite themselves, expecting to score with Tolstoy’s heir.

    ² Without a doubt, considering that the 7 year old itch pick up line is analogous in every way to the ostensible sale of a historic bridge.

    ³ Hmm. We assumed you knew how to use that writerly magic wand to write into our mouths gratitude of your desired complexion.

    ⁴ A ha! So that’s what happened to my counterfeit clams that day. Good thing your journey eventually led you back outside the country. Checked he Interpol hotlists lately?

    ⁵ Hmmm. Well considering that my Gankin’ Ben Franklins disappeared from my glove box, I’m not sure I can help. But I’m happy to write a few Narcocorridos for you, if you like.

    ⁶ Ah, but surely it’s not possible that writing contemplated B.TNB could ever anticipate the ineffable glories of the A.D.TNB era. B.TNB was as the Chaos from which the great Marduk constructed all these crackhead worlds. It is written.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Damn it! I have my new laptop, which doesn’t yet have Office, so I have no idea how to copy and paste footnotes from Word into Notepad and onto TNB, which is the only way I know how to do them.

      Also, I think I may have just revealed a trade secret.

      So I’ll merely say – my God, I love footnotes. And the term ‘Gankin’ Ben Franklins’.



  25. Karen says:

    Okay, well, first of all… Simon, I loved your piece here. Very fun to read. Although, not as fun as all the comments. I will be looking for more from you.

    Having said that, I do have some concerns. Richard Cox sounds like a blast! But…. Aren’t you worried though, that if you all continue to talk about his past “indiscretions”, that you may eventually nudge him a little too far over the edge causing him to go on a murdering rampage, a killing spree of epic proportions?

    He could very possibly end you all and then what would become of TNB?

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Actually, a fortune teller once predicted my end would come plaintively, heartbreakingly, and explodingly, so unless those three are all looking like a chance, I feel OK about my chances.

      And thank you, Karen!

      Although, now I think about it… Cox DOES like murdering…

  26. Brad Listi says:

    Mr. Smithson. This was great. I got a little nostalgic — and a little afraid — while reading it.

    I can only assume that this will bring you a genuine feeling of satisfaction.

    Always knew that RC had dark secrets.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      Thanks, Mr. Listi! I thought it was pretty great too.


      Goddamn it. I really have to stop this bravado act.

      I just enjoy it so.

      And yes! Best anniversary ever.

  27. Erika Rae says:

    You’re so awesome, Simon Smithson.

    This was some of your best humor yet. Had me laughing out loud. And especially at the thought of Richrob doing backflips.

    So how many TNBers have you met? What’s the number to beat?

    Sorry it took me so long to read this. I am ashamed.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      You’re so awesome too, Erika Rae!

      Thanks, and I am also ashamed. For you, you understand.

      Um… let’s see.

      Zoe, Zara, Duke, Lenore, Brad, Matt, Ben, Stefan, Milo, Rich, Gina, Stacy, Rachel, Zoe Z, Rich, Megan, Uche, yourself, Becky, Claire, Greg B, Greg O, Kristen, Quenby, Will, Ronlyn, Alison, Don, Richard, Slade, Angela, Marisa, Reno, Bex, Joe, Jorden, LRC, Adam, Anon, Marni, Yvonne, John… so 42. 43 later today because I’m meeting Meg Pokrass for coffee in SF.

  28. It really is refreshing to be a part of such a supportive community of writers. TNB is unlike any other site I’ve encountered and I feel really honored to be writing alongside you and the others you mentioned…except that I have yet to crash at anyone’s place or even throw back a few with any other writers…well, that is, except Arielle Bernstein (who turned me on to this site). But yeah…

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