Welcome to the GeoCities website I made about Michigan football when I was 13. Click the link; it’s important. Here is a wavy flag:
GeoCities gave you the chance to run your own internet boom town. Anyone could start a website using its platform, and it let you do a lot. GeoCities could handle a broad spectrum of colors, sounds, clip art, animation, and pages layered behind pages of content about whatever you wanted to present to the world. A lot of it was gibberish that rarely appealed to anyone, but that gibberish was made with love. Anyone who started a GeoCities website felt like a pioneer, magician, and tech god all in one. They created something where there was nothing, and they did it using computers.
This is how I chose to introduce myself to the world:
Welcome everybody to my homepage. My name is Louis, and I'm a 13 year old 8th grader in Ann Arbor Michigan. I am a diehard fan and follow football very religiously, including recruiting, the draft, and coaching. Also, It is a dream of mine to become a football coach when I grow up, so if you could e-mail me at HPDrifter128@ameritech.net with some tips, I would be ever most greatful. In this website I will post links to some of my favorite sites, plus articles by moi discussing thing going on in Michigan football. Plus the occasional article on hockey or basketball, plus updated links on articles by ESPN, Sports Illustrated etc.
I wrote that in 2001. They’re my first words ever as a sports writer and quite possibly the most earnest words I’ve ever published on the internet, too. Back then it was cool just to let people know who you are. Someone in China could stumble on my homepage and go, “Oh shit, there’s a kid across the world who’s into sports,” and that extant possibility was gratifying on its own — someone I don’t know knows me. There was less understanding — or at least, I didn’t understand it then — that you were whispering into a chasm or that you couldn’t stand out on your basic facts alone. But then, I really was what I said I was: a 13-year-old dork looking for coaching tips to a sport I could never dream of playing.
On Oct. 26, 2009, Yahoo! shuttered GeoCities for good. There were approximately 38 million GeoCities pages at the time, according to Wired, mine among them — all gone. Let’s call this day The Darkness.
On the day The Darkness came, a lot of love left this world. Granted, a lot of those sites had been abandoned and broken already. The people who let those pages wither never wanted to see them die, however. As GeoCities went down, a number of web collectives started saving every page they could.
If you really want to relive those halcyon days, you can download a 652-gigabyte torrent from a “loose collective of rogue archivists, programmers, writers and loudmouths” called Archive Team and rummage through the detritus yourself. I found my old page years ago when the memory of it (I don’t know from where) entered my head and I began to google. Maybe on the fifth page of results, I landed on the Wayback Machine.
Unfortunately, most of the links on my website don’t work anymore. Just three of the Features on the left-hand side are clickable — recent articles, schedules, and an “About Me” section.
No good GeoCities site didn’t have an “About Me” section. Note: It’s not an “About” section. Websites then were treated like virtual mountain tops where plain people could tell the world how plain they were. GeoCities sites nominally provided a service — back then, I believe 80 percent was dedicated to GoldenEye cheat codes — but behind those services was somebody who really just wanted you to know who he was and be proud of his work.
In my “About Me” section, I revealed that I was the clinical definition of a goober.
Backround- I was born Nov. 22nd 1987 in Ann Arbor Michigan. I have lived here my entire life. I stand at 4 feet 11 inches, and am the shortest person in my 8th grade class. My favorite color is blue(of course), and my second favorite is green. My favorite food is couscous. My shoe size is a 7 mens. My favorite movie is Any Given Sunday. And my favorite book is Pet Semetary by Stephen King, my second favorite is the 2000 Michigan football media guide.
Music- I am very ranged in my tastes of music, I like from Garth Brooks (long neck bottle) to Limp Bizkit (Keep Rollin' Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'). My favorite group is the Beastie Boys who play my favorite song called Paul Revere. My favorite person from the Beastie Boys is Adrock. We were both born A cusp of November (He was born on Oct. 30th, the cusp beween November and October, I was Born on Nov. 22nd the cusp between Scorpio and Sagitarrius).
These may be the most mortifying words that exist about anyone on Earth. I’ve struggled to write this section because I have to look away from the screen repeatedly due to debilitating embarrassment:
The shame is two-fold: 1) Because everything up there is true — I remember that media guide as one my favorite Christmas gifts ever, and God help me that’s what I thought music was then, and 2) because I remember how much care I put into writing that.
As a small, exceedingly shy, anxiety-ridden kid, I really cared about that website. Whoever archived it found it at its inception. The counter shows 21 visitors. I had more than that over the course of the probably year-and-change I kept it up. I got traffic from family and from the members of the Michigan message board that I lurked on. Any time I updated the site — with either fresh links, or a new game recap — I’d post it to the message board, and would receive a lot of mostly friendly feedback about what I thought Lloyd Carr should have done (throw the ball) and not done (run the ball).
I considered these exchanges “conversations.” I had trouble making words come from my mouth. People call that “talking,” but talking was a stretch goal for me. In school, anytime I thought I ought to speak my heart thumped so hard that it suppressed the air from lungs and stopped the words at my chest. If I said anything out loud it was in a whisper, at the floor, several beats later than I wanted. But in writing, words don’t have volume. That’s why I got into sportswriting then and largely why I’m still in it now. Writing is still best way I know how to speak.
[A brief interlude] Hahahahaha eat it Corso:
"Michigan has no chance to have a great football season, in my opinion. They play too many good teams that are as good or better than they are, and a lot of them are away from home. That makes it more difficult. They can stumble and be a really fine football team, losing three games at least."-ESPN analyst Lee Corso on Michigan the summer before Michigan's 12-0 record and national championship season.
[OK, back] The schedule section is easily my favorite part of all this.
First, there’s the internal logic. You can tell the importance of each game by the font size: Michigan State is a marginally more important game than the rest, but it’s nothing compared to Notre Lame or OHIO STATE!!!!
Second: “Notre Lame” is such a satisfying thing to say or type in bold font, and it pains me that I can never use it unironically ever again. At some point in your life, you come to realize that your team isn’t intrinsically better or worse than any other and that sports tribalism is petty and arbitrary. I know that, but I still don’t feel it to be true.
I want to yell “Notre Lame” from my roof into the night. I wouldn’t, because I know that I would feel like a goofus afterward. But the fact that “Dame” rhymes with “Lame” is immutable. It is truth; as true as night turning into day or that Notre Dame went 4-8 last season.
This is my second favorite part:
Forgot to mention in my profile that I'm a master at fooseball. Let me put it this way, my sister beats all the Frat brothers at the University of Wisconsin, and I beat her 10 to 6. Plus I can beat my dad, who is better than my sister. Here's a link to fooseball.com.
When you’re a largely incapable adolescent person, you glom onto what few skills you have. I could have put Mario Kart up here, but I was all about foosball at the time. The day I beat my dad was one of my proudest, and I mean that. Being better than your dad at something is maybe the first sign in a young man’s life that, someday, he won’t suck. I went to fooseball.com a lot. It outlined a lot of techniques that I practiced on my own. I think the site was based in the United Kingdom. It doesn’t exist as it did then.
Here were my hobbies.
My Hobbies- Sports and hangin' around are my hobbies. When I'm with friends we always play basketball, or football, or soccer, or some sort of sport. Following all sports is fun to. It's like watching a masculine soap opera. Hanging around is always fun, I'm a pretty lazy guy so that's what I do most of the time. It's always fun to go the mall or downtown and talk to people, just random people. I have made many friends that way, and enemies.
For the most part, these are still my hobbies. My life has centered on sports and hangin’ around since I was born. They’re still maybe my two favorite things. Sixteen years later, I’ve learned that adding 1) alcohol, and 2) pals to sports and hangin’ around often makes both things better, but otherwise I’m not a fundamentally different person than I was then. I still think I’m a lazy guy, only now I feel obligated to deal with the complex question of why that is.
The last two sentences of that excerpted paragraph are lies. I liked to wander the mall and downtown with my friends, but I didn’t spend much time talking to anyone. At most, I might yell something dumb my friends told me to yell at a stranger; a product of being into Jackass. I made no friends that way and haven’t had an honest-to-god enemy in my life. I was the most innocuous kid on the planet. I wrote those words to add intrigue to what I may have felt even then was a fraught and boring but otherwise happy existence.
Unfortunately, we only have one snapshot of that paragraph. I’d like to see how it evolved over time and what other activities I invented. GeoCities let me create, mold, and catalog an image of myself as I saw it. GeoGities illuminated that image. For a while, it was my claim in a world that was so much smaller then.
If you, too, have an embarrassing old GeoCities/Angelfire/Blogspot/Xanga/LiveJournal/SB Nation page, PLEASE share it in the comments below.