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Reflections on the Filthy Past

Written by Randy on August 31, 2011.

Dutifully we grease our hands and torsos for another epoch of I’m Leaving You devilry. But let us pause, like fugitives toeing the edge of an open cesspool, to shake our fists at our collective past, our mistakes and indiscretions, our old website.

“Hey,” you may ask, “whence this disdain?” It begins, like most disdain, in the 1980s.

The portent of I’m Leaving You‘s inaugural website wafted like honeysmoke over the fetid commercial wasteland of 1989. The site’s guarantee of laser-like sexuality, its outrageous commitment to quality, and its multimillion dollar budget heralded profound change for the stagnant swamp of online video. But it was yet an idea; and the ILY staff, a crop of savvy young trailblazers with razor-sharp haircuts, thrilled to the opportunity to effect their vision of a digital renaissance.

The staff toiled tirelessly, rendering every pixel with decades of hard-won knowledge. Each member focused singularly on the perfection of his task, his sole compensation the assurance that these sacrifices, these indelible achievements, would delineate new boundaries for the scope of human art, cognition, and compassion. Their collaborative effort lasted nineteen hard years, far past its original deadline, but their investors, unshakably captivated by the raw promise of I’m Leaving You, held on. It was now 2008 and the team steadied itself for the triumphant revelation of their lives’ work.

When launch day arrived, the staff, long ago transformed by their exertions into a silent brotherhood of gaunt, solitary ascetics, paused to admire the reward of these long, difficult years. It was a crowning triumph–a true zenith among the fluctuations of human innovation–that would not only consecrate each man’s old age, but emblazon his family crest and bring untold pride to successive generations. Delighting in their attainments and the future’s unassailable brightness, they availed themselves of an old bottle of whiskey found in a closet, the first alcohol any man had imbibed since the project’s grand inception. But alas: their jubilation was short lived.

A bear entered the office at the peak of the staff’s well-deserved revelry and clumsily eviscerated two men before ingesting approximately 4,000 terabytes of data, whereupon he achieved an advanced state of hibernation amidst a pile of entrails both human and digital. The remaining men, shellacked by the effects of unfamiliar whiskey, too weakened to exact revenge, fled the office, clattering into the night like skeletal deer. They disappeared.

Dan, Justin, and I discovered the bear months later while scouring abandoned buildings for serviceable office supplies, which was our business at the time. Grasping instantly the nature of the catastrophe, we sprung to action. There was an unusual smell in the air (in retrospect, it was the filthy bear sleeping beneath our feet) that we deemed the odor of a new era, a moral imperative bequeathed to three scoundrels as a gesture of trust and hope. A new path.

The bear, we assumed, had fully digested all he’d eaten, so we left him alone and pooled our resources. Among the three of us, we had $3.47 in change, a Robin Yount baseball card, and very few marketable skills. But we did possess an excess of one commodity: gusto. With sudden valor, I immersed myself in hundreds of miles of esoteric code, Dan set to work brewing gutter gin, and Justin stole hundreds of tiny Charleston Chew bars from a corner store. On these victuals we subsisted for one whole week, sweating like mariners on a molasses sea.

We adopted the bear as I’m Leaving You‘s primary symbol: his finest aspirations, like our own, were subject to violent, irresponsible caprice.

When we emerged from that bloody, reeking office, we were mere husks of the men who had entered the building a week earlier. And yet, inexplicably, we held the shining new website in our hands. Our efforts had failed to yield the exact vision of our forebears, but we sensed, deep in the crawlspace of our collective heart, the inextricability of our fates with the website we’d created, and in turn, our claim to the transcendent riches forecasted in ’89.

That day, we staged the grand unveiling unannounced at an O’Charley’s restaurant along the interstate. Met with limited enthusiasm from the patrons in attendance, we nevertheless awaited the tide of accolades soon to swirl about our skinny ankles.

As you’ve surely guessed, the three of us were soon indicted with multiple criminal charges, including failure to report multiple murders, commiserating with an escaped zoo animal, and running out on roughly $240 worth of O’Charley’s cocktails.

As we teeter on the brink of a new doom, and a shadowy future encroaches on the clarity of our aspirations, we present you with this, our attempt to rectify the sordid missteps of 2008.

What the hell happened to that bear?


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