Death Of A Web Site
The response to part 1 of this article has been tremendous both in terms of volume and quality. Apparently part 1 triggered some fond memories for some and engaging in nostalgia or learning of Tar Heel Talk was an enjoyable experience for many.
I did get a couple of e-mails from a dookie who challenged my statement that I knew the identity of "de". According to the poster, no one knew the identity of "de" and he saw fit to make that assertion on two separate occasions. The absoluteness of his statement caused me to wonder if I wasn't, in fact, interacting with "de" himself by e-mail. He guaranteed I didn't know who "de" was and I asked how could you guarantee something that can't be guaranteed. He even asked me to "just tell me a portion of the name and I (will) call you whose name it isn't". At this point we were discommunicating and I informed him that I had no further interest in discussing the matter. It reached the point that I'm not even sure what we were talking about.
Apparently the poster took offense at my assertion that Duke posters were the sole reason for the demise of THT. It wasn't my intent to identify the Duke posters as the "sole" reason for the web site going down but, in my opinion, it certainly was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. It is true that some UNC posters engaged in the "smack" talk with them when to have ignored them might have been the wiser course of action. It would have been difficult to ignore "de's" Chinese water treatment over a period of 4 years.
Enough on that subject. I promised I would explain what caused me to quit posting and even lurking on THT and here goes.
At the conclusion of the '01 season, there was a prominent article in USA Today about Christian Laettner. The author of the article had talked with Laettner's mother and had asked her about her feelings regarding the stories that had widely circulated about Laettner's sexual orientation. Her response was that she thought UNC was producing too many sports journalists and implied that the stories were the product of UNC journalism schools graduates.
I posted on THT regarding the article but not once did I say that I questioned Laettner's sexuality. To the contrary. To avoid making my post on this subject controversial, I stated that I didn't think there was any question regarding Laettner's sexuality, allowing the readers to make whatever assumption they wanted to. Immediately the Duke posters crawled all over me for bringing the subject up and said the post was being made just because UNC was jealous that Duke had won the National Championship. Finally, and this was probably what caused me to conclude that there was no longer any place for RamFanatic on THT, a poster said tht "of all people, I am shocked that you, RamFanatic, would make such a post". At first, my inclination was to try to explain my position but I changed my mind. I did explain, in response to a question, that the subject was brought up at that particular time because an article in a national publication had run a story on it. I then informed the other posters that I would post no more on the subject and I later decided to extend my promise to include having any contact with the board. Two Duke posters did, at the time, concede that I had been "even handed" in presenting the the subject but it was too little, too late. From that date on I ceased to post or lurk on THT until a couple of weeks ago I decided to check to see if was still alive. It was then that I learned of THT's death.
Just for fun I went back to the article entitled "RamFanatic Appreciation Day" to see some of the names that contributed to that post in the old days. They were:
TxHeel, Achilles the Heel ( one of my favorite names and posters ) Cap, Fungo, Mungo (the Mayor) Lucifer, Wheat, Itzagame (another of my favorite names), John, BBB, Devilution ( a responsible and knowledgeable Duke poster)
Big Heel, Caretaker, and Tarmac. I don't know how many of these were posting at the end but I doubt if many were because I did not see their names very often, if at all, at the time I departed. Some of these people have contacted me since my article appeared and said that they found THT not to be enjoyable reading any more, so they quit visiting the site.
So there you have it folks. The story as seen by RamFanatic. For those of you who never experienced THT when it was "perking", I wish you could have had the experience. I also wish I had retained a post that appeared on one of the other boards that attempted to explain THT. It was outstanding Basically, it said that not even the regulars fully understood THT when it was in its prime but it was exciting and mentally stimulating. In memory of those days, I have written ( Ish K Bibble used to use this tense on the old Kay Kyser show) a poem. I have bounced it off one of the individuals to whom it is dedicated and he says he "loves it". That's good enough for me.
Ode To Three Amigos
Mungo, Fungo and Big Balled Billy,
Fine alone but together they were silly.
Mainstays of a message board long gone,
For their sins while posting, no need to atone.
Memories of the good ole days are all that remain,
No forum for their humor, they must be in pain.
Much of their banter, not easy to understand,
A quick mind to interpret, a must to demand.
Cats and Htoos, strange friends to be sure.
Made you wonder if the group could endure.
Rest in peace dear Tar Heel Talk.
Talking might be easier than walking the walk.
We'll never see the same, maybe not so silly,
Three Amigos, Mungo, Fungo and Big Balled Billy.
To be sung mournfully to the tune of "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" made famous by the unforgettable Kitty Wells. Ukelele and humazoo accompaniment.
All rights reserved. :-)
I meant to mention that a reference was made in a column on the Duke Basketball Report (Our Call) about part 1 of this article and predictably they said that THT didn't need any help from Duke in self destructing. We'll probably hear from them on this one also. If we do, maybe it will help us reach our target of 12,000 visits by Oct. 14th, the first anniversary of RamFanatic.com
I learned recently of the passing of an old friend. It didn't really come as a surprise because he had been ill for some time and it was no secret that soon he would breathe his last breath. I wasn't close to the friend or should I say former friend when the final moment came. In fact, I hadn't been close to him for some time due to some misunderstandings that occurred in the spring of this year but I was saddened to see him go, nevertheless
I not talking about a person here. I'm talking about "Tar Heel Talk" a web site that must have had it's beginnings as a UNC board but which over the years developed into a wild west type of sports forum open to any and everybody. However, over time, it became gradually overrun by "outsiders" who wanted nothing more than to say one more time that Carolina sucks. I don't know the precise moment the cancer began but by last spring it was obvious that the site had taken a dramatic turn for the worse and was unlikely to recover. I stopped posting there and even quit lurking because it had literally become a cess pool of discourse, if you could call it that.
The final stages began when a couple of Dookies invaded the "sand pile" and constantly bombarded viewers with the same message day after day. The worst offender was someone with the internet name of "de 1" who seemed to get a great deal of pleasure out of asking the same question over and over, "Why did the choker ( DES) hang up on young Battier". I didn't record the date he first did this but think about it. Battier was at Duke for four years and this jerk was still asking the question even though Battier himself proclaimed that Coach Smith's response to his early morning call to say he had chosen Duke, was refreshing. It was obvious what "de 1" was doing He was employing a device invented by the Chinese many years ago called the "water treatment". One drop of water doesn't have much effect but a constant dripping of water to the same spot eventually is unbearable.
I finally was told by, of all people, a Duke supporter the identity of this person and I will have to give credit where credit is due. The Duke supporter not only identified the culprit but told me how to get rid of him. He said to post on THT and tell "De-1" that his identity was known and if he didn't cease his infantile posting immediately about Battier and Coach Smith that I was going to post his telephone number. I have no doubt that had I chosen to do this, "de- 1" would have gone silently into the night. I'm not sure of this, however, because, seriously, there is a possibility that he has a mental problem.
Anyway, back to the old days of THT. I have many fond memories of the days when I would post something about the history of UNC sports and the regulars would comment on their reaction to my writing. It was fulfilling because THT was the first web site I posted on after getting my machine and you know how it goes with first loves. I was nervous as hell when I made my first post because I knew the viewers would say exactly what they were thinking and bad reviews probably would have caused my writing career to be rather short. They were positive, however, so I continued. One of the biggest surprises of my life was when the self appointed mayor of THT proclaimed RamFanatic Appreciation Day ( see article elsewhere on this page ). I'm sincere when I say it was one of the biggest honors I have ever received because I know it was from the heart. I have received other honors but there were always suspicions that things like politics, sympathy, political correctness, longevity etc. could have been involved
I only had a couple of "incidents" with posters and there wasn't any long term damage done. In the old days, it was exciting to punch in each morning to see what was happening but several situations got completely out of hand. So much so that Dave Chen, the operator of the board, shut it down on one occasion because one of the posters had contacted the supervisor of another poster about a so called anti-semetic statement made on the board. DC rightly decided that things had gone too far. He later relented and things were calm for a while.
Then there were the arguments about BBQ, the cat that was pictured frequently on the board and the Htue brothers that I never understood. In fact, there were a lot of things on the board that I didn't understand. It, no doubt, was a group of individuals much younger than me who understood what each other was saying but frequently I was just a spectator.
There were many good moments. Like the time a Duke supporter, who lived in Greenville, asked if I would like to meet and talk sports when he learned that I was going to be in Greenville on one of our BBQ Odysseys. I indicated that I would like to meet with him and so we met at B's, my number 1 BBQ joint in N.C. It was a friendly meeting even though we rooted for rival schools. He was an articulate person who followed sports very closely and had no difficulty in participating in a discussion without hurling insults. I wish there had been more like him.
Some of the names on THT were great.
Stray Gator, Fungo, Mungo (self proclaimed mayor) and Big Balled Billy. I often thought some of the regulars had multiple names but I'm not sure of that. I thought of writing a song with the title "Fungo, Mungo, and Big Balled Billy" and putting it on the streets. It was just catchy and risqué enough that, with a good beat, it might have been a hit. The lyrics wouldn't have to make sense so it would fit right in with the other hits of today.
One of the funniest things that ever happened on the board was when a young lady from Hawaii posted and wanted to know how to get in touch with certain members of the UNC basketball team. She said she had met them when they played in the Maui Tournament in Hawaii. Someone noticed that a number at the top of her post ( I don't know until this day exactly what this number does or its
origin) was the same as had been on some of my posts and the poster was saying that the girl in Hawaii and I were the same person. It was hilarious. Posters were getting downright hostile arguing the point and one poster said he would bet his life that we were not the same person. I was on a day trip when this issue exploded and when I went onto the the board that evening, it had pretty much settled down. It took several days to unravel this.
There are other funny things that happened and you can tell from the way I am writing that nostalgia has set in. I think I will relate the incident that caused me to cease my association with THT in a later article. It's unbelievable.
So if an epitaph is in order maybe I will render it then. In the meantime, I will continue to think of THT with ambivalence. There is a time to be born, a time to live, and a time to die. Maybe it was just Tar Heel Talk's time to go. May it rest In peace.