To describe him, to encapsulate his being into a few meaningless lines of restrictive text, would prove complicated at best. Yet if pressed I suppose I could quote the great (and also dead) Hunter S. Thompson, and say he was, “…One of God's own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.” (The Banshee Screams for Buffalo Meat)
He craved life, devouring it every day. Swampdog, glutton, pervert, intellectual, techno-wizard, outdoorsman, crack broomballer, chain smoker, unrelenting debater, shock master extraordinaire, voracious reader and much more described him equally, but each alone failed to grasp him in his entirety.
Only his closest friends could see past his many Campbellian masks to his true self: the pure-hearted Percival, lonely and alone, most likely of us all to find the Holy Grail if he’d get off his fat, nightmarishly terrifying ass and try। Only in Greg’s case, the quest would involve in some way a minigun, claymore mines and K-Y, lots and lots of K-Y.
Despite this, or perhaps because of it, Greg felt burdened by one curse: his epilepsy. For one who reveled in the art and wit of the argument, where all Life’s facets were free range, it was his only untouchable subject. Even alluding to his condition would send him off in a rage too acute for one to ever want to bring it up again. He hated it, the brain-numbing meds he took and the ubiquitous dread that, no matter what he did or where he was, a grand mal seizure still could take him.
Then, two years ago, one did forever.
To this day I prefer to think of him as he lived, the better times. In the mid- to late-ninties, we lived together with my brother. Greg, known to us as The One-Eyed Scary Guy, was on the local fast track at corporate-giant-turned-waste-of-space Internet provider America Online, engineering various programs for AOL’s corporate clients. Ever seditious, under its auspices he discreetly developed a lovely little treasure trove of Swampdog wisdom known as Instigator.com.
At the same time, I was working my way through college and beginning my life as a struggling writer (a phase I’m still eagerly waiting to end). A bit more self-important, pretentious and, perhaps, passionate than I am now, I myself was making my own initial foray into cyberspace.
For awhile, I’d been churning out a respectable number of short stories as well as, like all struggling writers, collecting an ever-growing pile of rejection letters. I’d been playing around on AOL as a customer, and struck on the idea of self-publishing those stories that had been rejected more than 10 times online. I hoped to elicit feedback on, and ensure a continued life for, my work.
As both developed, we’d talk informally about them, throwing around this idea or that, considering the next steps. Then we settled on an idea we both liked, a page that acted as both sick-and-twisted advice column and social commentary, and ran with it. Before long we launched the “Ask The Maztor” section of Instigator. At first he posted a few of my tirades to set the page’s mood, while I, at the same time, queried initial letters from some close friends.
It didn’t take long before things were running at a good, smooth place. The scope of people grew steadily until we began getting messages from across the US. I received the e-mails, wordsmith an answer, and forward them to Greg who, as editor-in-chief and webmaster, did his posting thing. We didn’t always agree on my responses—like a few disparaging remarks I once made about G. Gordon Liddy that prompted Greg to add a disclaimer—but for the most part he left them all but untouched. As Web sites go, the number of hits it garnered was unimpressive, but doing better than we first envisioned.
It was when things looked like they were taking off that, of course, the bottom fell out.
While at work, Greg made a minor error in the form of a slight departure from company protocol. Namely, while testing beta software in a small, secure network, he chose as his password, “AnalPusBubbles.” Apparently, this violated some subclaus of AOL’s Orwellian decency policy. Prudes.
He was disciplined in what amounted to a slap on the wrist. Then, the bungholes at corporate caught wind of it, and Greg became another victim of one of AOL’s Stalinesque purges for which it was so well known back then. As he disappeared from the building, so too did Instigator.
As the years rolled by, I’d bring up the possibility of relaunching Instigator again as an independent site, but Greg wasn’t interested. Either its memory was too painful, he didn’t have time or he just moved on; he never made his reasons clear. Greg’s death pretty much closed the door on it.
As for The Maztorphyl, it lingered over much of my college career, but things were changing. I was dating my future wife while working hard at my job and school, and the time necessary for maintaining the number of short stories I was writing as well as the page’s upkeep fell away. So, acquiesing to the inevitable, I shut it down. Looking back, it didn’t succeed at its mission, anyway. It received far fewer hits than even Instigator, and responses were negligable at best.
Recently, I got to thinking about Greg. Had it really been two years? Where’d it all go? Life has a way of keeping you occupied with other things while the important stuff gets away. I wondered about it, rolled it over in my head, reminisced about him and all the Chaos-ridden things we all used to do, like on the Internet…
And so I decided to bring The Maztorphyl back from the dead, as a blog, to honor his memory and the twisted logic and ideals for which it and Instigator stood.
Now, fair reader, we come to the present. Since we’re all feeling so upbeat, I shall explain to you the guidelines by which I will run this half-rotted carcass that is the reborn Maztorphyl!
What will I write about? Pretty much whatever the hell I feel like. My whims will dictate the literary and journalistic pleasures you will enjoy. Political commentary, a restaurant review, an in-depth description of my athletes foot, if the mood strikes me, it will end up here. There’s even a chance I’ll talk about epilepsy. I’ll try posting something every other week. If it works out well enough, I may increase it to every week, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
If you need advice, particularly of the freakish kind, my ear is open at Maztorphyl@msn.com. I believe that everyone, EVERYONE, is a freak to one degree or another. From the straight-laced housewife with the extensive S&M paraphenalia collection stored in her armior, to the half-drunk college student eating his pizza crust first, I laud the weirdness of humanity. It’s the spice of life, people.
Fair warning, though. My no-holds-barred approach and stance, as well as my subject matter, will no doubt frustrate, anger, shock and even outrage some of you. In fact, if I don’t piss off a few of you from time to time I won’t be doing my job. But you know, there hasn’t been a single time I’ve had a great time off-roading that I didn’t get jostled around like a limp rag doll, that my perceptions weren’t challenged even as I tried to keep my eyes on the road.
Still, if you don’t find my vignettes your cup of tea, that’s fine, too. This is still the United States, last time I checked. So kick my dust from your sandals and ne’er turn back, fair wanderers.
My poetry also is a no-no. To me its more of a hobby and besides, I’m not that good. As for fiction, I’m still on the fence. My productivity lately, in quality and quantity, hasn’t been that great, but I may brush off an old story, run it through the editorial grinder once or twice, and post it if I have nothing else. Still, like I said, the jury’s still out on that one.
Not wishing to add to the feeding frenzies, I will pay little attention to the wanton, idiotic antics, and in particular the deaths, of those talentless, camera-whore pop culture “icons” we Americans so enjoy placing on pedestals, except perhaps as inspiration for indictments against the tabliodization of the media, as well as the provincial tastelessness and dumbing of America.
So I invite you all to jump in the back seat, fasten your seat belts, enjoy the ride and, above all, stay with me. Don’t jump out in the middle of the trip because you’re feeling ill. You might get left behind. Just rest assured knowing that, unlike the idiot talking heads and moron pundits on tabloid news shows and channels, everything I post, no matter how moving or vitriolic, will still have behind it the same philosophy of another socio-political observer, Dennis Miller: “Of course, that’s my opinion. I might be wrong.”