Friday, March 11, 2011

The Wild Card, Switzerland, and The Adversaries (NoMi Blogosphere, part 2)

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman, image from the No Land Grab blog.

After yesterday's post, we're left to cover The Wild Card, the Switzerland blogs, and The Adversaries.  First up, I'm designating none other than Ed Kohler as "The Wild Card."  Ed's blog, The Deets, covers a multitude of issues at a level of wonkish detail that often surpasses even my capabilities. Interestingly enough, as I was researching when various folks started blogging about north Minneapolis issues, it appears this post from The Deets about shot spotter info was among the first blog posts to be written about this neighborhood.  (or at least from people who are still blogging today)

Ed's topics on The Deets can vary wildly from one post to the next - from rating toilet paper at various hotels to debunking smear campaigns by Republicans.  Lately he's figured out a novel way to marry those two topics by exposing Don "The Republican" Allen for downright making up a story about what has become known as "Poopgate."

Besides The Deets, we have what I would call the "Switzerland" blogs.  These blogs are...

...the various neighborhood organization blogs, websites, and Facebook or Twitter accounts.  I'd even put several issues-based blogs such as Inside Northside and The Minneapolis Crime Watch Blog, in this category.

We've got sites like the Webber-Camden page, the Hawthorne Voices blog (more content coming soon), the JACC Flash NoMi blog, the Clean Sweep NoMi Facebook page, or the 4th Precinct Care Twitter feed.  Like Switzerland, these blogs produce items that can be extraordinarily useful, and like Switzerland, they manage somehow to stay out of the blog wars exploding all around them.  This dynamic can be attributed to a desire to focus their efforts specifically on their own niche topic or neighborhood.  Many of the other NoMi blogs explicitly want to share information as broadly as possible, and that can bring out the crazies.

It is an interesting comparison, for instance, that the 4th Precinct Care web page and Twitter feed do many of the same things that we do here on NXNS, JNS, or I.I.  Namely, they pinpoint addresses where TISH repairs are needed, where there is a lack of a rental license, and drug dealing/criminal activity or illegal car repairs are taking place.  And yet, when have you ever heard hubbub over content on those pages?

Speaking of bringing out the crazies, the NoMi blogosphere has its share of those as well.  Johnny Northside brought along his own nemesis, called "The Anti-Johnny."  (No I'm not going to link to their sites.  If you want to find them you can.)  The Anti-Johnny hails from Dallas, but has ties to the Twin Cities as two of his friends are convicted TJ Waconia fraudsters Jon Helgason and Tom Balko.  When I first came upon that blog, there was a grade-school quality photoshop piece showing John Hoff's head superimposed on an obese man's naked body, and that was somehow supposed to convince readers that Jim Watkins is the better man than John Hoff.  Watkins hasn't matured a whole lot since then.  Watching a man halfway across the country try and impact neighborhoods where he really had no stake was actually kind of fascinating, if not a little creepy.

Things became less fascinating and more creepy when Watkins tried to intimidate me into distancing myself from John Hoff, as documented in this NXNS post.  I encourage readers to examine Watkins' statements in light of recent allegations regarding the identity of the Jordan Hawkman.

Terry Yzaguirre and the Mpls Mirror first wrote about the northside in September of 2007, but then didn't do another north-related post until June of 2008, four months after JNS got its start.  When I first delved into the world of citizen journalism, I was reading as many city blogs as I could, and the Mirror was one of them.  That site always struck me as somewhat schizophrenic in its posts.  There was never any rhyme or reason apparent to me as to why one person or issue would be praised one day, and another person or issue would be chastised the next.  If anything, the site seemed like a place for knee-jerk contrarians, until it became politically expedient to not always be too contrary.

Still, there's plenty of room for dissenting voices out there, so I adopted a "live and let live" attitude. That is, until Terry Y came after anyone associated with John Hoff.  In my case, that started with lumping me in with Johnny Northside's criticism of the Friedman's store, (even though I had openly disagreed with Hoff's approach on that one) and making up claim that I picked up phone books from vacant properties and did so on the organization's time - a claim also propagated by The Anti-Johnny and the Jordan Hawkman.  When my board publicly backed me up on that, their claims were summarily dismissed by Terry and others.

Don Allen is another blogger with whom I disagreed but had no real quarrel until he started one up.  Don used to write for a now-defunct website, "ibnn.org."  That site shut down shortly after the company Allen worked for at the time was raided by the federal government as a suspected Ponzi scheme.  It's hard to know exactly when this person started writing about north Minneapolis, since that site is down and "ibnnnews" (permission to use the extra n's granted by the Department of Redundancy Department) took its place in May of last year.  I've been unable to locate anything Don wrote before then.

Much of Allen's writing focused on an outdated worldview around race relations that I personally felt did not apply any longer in NoMi.  Like Terry Y and the Mirror, I never had any head-to-head arguments with Don or anyone affiliated with one of his postings.  Our stances were different but since our paths hadn't really intersected much that didn't seem to matter.  With both a generational and race gap, I thought perhaps his message resonated enough with others, and there was no real reason for me to even bother mentioning him until he began just making things up.  His repeated threats towards Sheila Regan at the Twin Cities Daily Planet aren't doing him any good either.

And that brings us to the Jordan Hawkman.  JHG pretends to be this community-wide organization of active or concerned residents, although that claim is dubious at best.  Writing styles, blog affiliations, and timing of various content has led to vast speculation that JHG is run by Don Allen or Terry Y.  Although writing styles can be imitated and other areas of blogger can be manipulated in terms of time stamps and giving multiple people the password to log in as an administrator.  In spite of broad speculation and widespread belief of the author(s), the identity of JHG has never been proven.  Unlike Don and Terry, this site essentially started with outright lies and innuendo, insinuating in just their fourth post that Eric Johnson was a child molester because a minor had appeared in one of his photos.

I'll give the Jordan Hawkman this much credit; they figured out a way to generate a fair amount of Google hits while saying very little.  Instead of just coming right out with, "This 'NoMi Terrorist' is an idiot and here's why," they stretch it out over a series of posts that last several days.  Like this:

Post #1

NoMi Terrorist is a really big idiot!  Who?  Why?  It will be revealed...IN THE VERY NEXT POST!!!

Post #2

NoMi Terrorist is a really big idiot!  I mean grade-A, top-notch idiot.  Here's a doctored photo or unrelated image while we go on about what an idiot this person is.  We have even more evidence that he or she is a really big idiot, which we will tell you soon.  Oh, it's so juicy we can't even fit it into one post.  Because Google has rules about that.  Or something.

Post #3

Really really really really really really really really really really really really really really REALLY RE--

Post #4

EEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLYYYYYYYYYY

Post #5

Big Idiot!  Whew!

Post #6

If you Google 'NoMi Terrorist Really Big Idiot,' JHG comes up in the top five!  We are making a difference and the NoMi Terrorist Idiots are on the run, assuming they even read this!  Also, according to this Alexa ranking thing, JHG is #613,827!  We just passed 'Re-creating Classic Impressionist Art Using Belly Button Lint,' and are creeping up on the daily blog of the Belarusan curling team.  This surely must strike fear into the hearts of the NoMi Terrorists.

Post #7

This just in!  The NoMi Terrorist in the previous post is also an EXTREMELY big idiot.  More will be revealed...IN THE VERY NEXT POST!

And so on, except with typos.  I'm comforted by a line from a favorite song by REM, "Living Well is the Best Revenge."

"All your sad and lost apostles
Hum my name and flare their nostrils,
Choking on the bones you tossed to them.
Now I'm not one to sit and spin
'Cause living well is the best revenge, and baby I am calling you on that.

"Don't turn your talking points on me
History will set me free
The future's ours and you don't even rate a footnote now."

Speaking of footnotes, an explanation of the NoMi blogosphere wouldn't be complete without a mention of the Area Hawkman.  Like JHG, the identity of the AH remains a mystery, although the blog itself no longer puts out content.  I don't know who AH is, but I can guarantee who it isn't.  It's not me, and if I could write as well as that, I sure as hell wouldn't do it anonymously.  I'd want people to know it was me.

The Area Hawkman burst on the scene at the perfect time for many of the good guys.  The filth over at JHG was starting to get to us, and AH showed up and skewered that site both perfectly and instantly.  At times a parody post ridiculing an item on JHG would show up within minutes, intelligently written and (this is important) typo-free.  You really do have to be an insider to fully appreciate the jokes of each post or comment, because the alternative is to go back and read corresponding content from about six different blogs, including the painful blustering of the Jordan Hawkman.

Although the AH will be missed, he or she or they showed the NoMi revitalizers how easy it is to shrug off the barbs that "The Adversaries" throw at us, and get back to work making our community a better place.

And there you have it, a summary of who's who in the NoMi blogosphere, according to the Hawthorne Hawkman.

12 comments:

  1. NXNS,

    That's an awesome post!

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  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  3. You support Don Allen????

    I must disown you now.

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  4. Where did I say that, anon 9:38? For the record no, I don't support him. I was merely pointing out that as far as I'm concerned, our differences were irrelevant to me because we had areas of interest that rarely intersected. But he crossed the line by knowingly fabricating lies about several NoMi bloggers.

    Also, once he started to make up B.S. about things I know well (like what comes out of my own mouth) I have to call into question just about everything else he says or does.

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  5. A good post. It seems in the north end of the city everybody knows everybody else's business.

    And axes to grind, enough so to start a blog.

    I stumbled upon this community communication flowering first by Hoff's posting about Brad Johnson's mortgage fraud prosecutions while Johnson was running for Anoka County Attorney last election.

    Then the trial. As one who blogs, it interests me because of the First Amendment, SLAPP law (Minn. Stat. Ch. 554), etc.

    Any blogger can be sued, any time. All it takes is the filing fee and a willing lawyer. Or a pro se attack, low budget, is feasible.

    In the north end community, Don Allen strikes me as one of the more interesting persons. The GOP Don of his segment of thought, sort of - his manner of writing to the audience he wants to attract and reverberate, in some set patterns of viewing things.

    I've noticed your mentioning him once or twice.

    In Anoka County, Ramsey where I live, I know of only two people blogging, and both are negative toward Michele Bachmann, (unfortunately our MN 6 Rep. --- Don't blame me I voted for Tarryl Clark). Other than that, there is no blog voice and counter voice richness.

    It's different from your community. There are a few Sixth District GOP voices, such as Andy at Residual Forces, and Greg at letfreedomringblog.com; but in general, the guy that married pretty Pamela Brown was from Anoka County, as was Pamela, I expect.

    Our issues are different, growth impacts, likes or dislikes that way, rather than an existing dense housing neighborhood's interrelationships.

    In any event, aside from the trial, I have NO INSIGHT on your community relations from the outside - except what I read on the web.

    The web viewpoints are extremes and some are self-caricature, where I suspect those doing the latter either are unaware or don't care since the agenda is one where it helps more than hinders. Or do it deliberately with a touch of disdain for those they are able to rope into a following.

    I would not handicap that defamation trial outcome. My liking, Hoff not guilty of any true defamation, and it being held a SLAPP with consequent remedies for Hoff against Moore.

    My feeling is it never should have been filed.

    Yet juries can do strange things. I notice Jill Clark did not favor at all a bench trial.

    The outcome will be important to your community. However, it does not seem too many voices are being too chilled by it going on as it is.

    I expect the speaking out will not be quelled to any great degree if Moore wins. Wording may get more civil and circumspect, but content will be as content has been, more-or-less vs. either-or.

    Just a few random thoughts from the 'burbs.

    You write well.

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  6. One more comment and I leave you alone - two things, first a quote:

    The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

    GEORGE BERNARD SHAW, Maxims for Revolutionists

    He knew John Hoff?

    Second point, you wrote, "
    Don Allen is another blogger with whom I disagreed but had no real quarrel until he started one up. Don used to write for a now-defunct website, "ibnn.org." That site shut down shortly after the company Allen worked for at the time was raided by the federal government as a suspected Ponzi scheme. It's hard to know exactly when this person started writing about north Minneapolis, since that site is down [...]"

    There is internet archive, the "waybackmachine," and ibnn.org actually attained some archiving there. There for you to read if your time allows or favors doing so. E.g.

    [...]waybackmachine.org/20090101000000*/http://ibnn.org

    [...]waybackmachine.org/20080101000000*/http://ibnn.org

    [...]waybackmachine.org/20080101000000*/http://ibnn.org

    The latter being a specific archive for including, "New Blueprint for Black Males," Nov. 12, 2008; as one of the several items in that archive string.

    Not that there's going to be any instantaneous groundswell rush to the archive site to cause denial of service troubles.

    But it's there. People, especially politicians changing tunes, sometimes forget the archive is there in preservation mode, or they may begin rewriting their personas not knowing even that it exists.

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  7. check your 828 comment. first line.

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  8. Hey Jeff, aren't you going to reveal more in the very next post??

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  9. please fix your dam typo where you said you support don allen. you meant samuels. you should br flogged for that. its in your comment.

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  10. *facepalm*

    Well that was an embarrassing typo. Shows what happens when I'm rushing to get one last blog item done before work. Since blogspot doesn't allow comments to be edited, the 8:28 comment has been deleted, and re-posted correctly below.

    I suppose my support of Don Samuels and RT Rybak over Lennie/Kenya/Natalie and Al Flowers was a direct disagreement between myself and some of the other bloggers mentioned. But I am more politically liberal than many of my family members and more conservative than many of my close friends, so arguments over candidates barely even register as important in my mind.

    Also this post was finished after a very long day so it had its share of typos I cleaned up. There's probably one or two more still lingering.

    And thanks, Anon 8:03!

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  11. You might want to post an update as social media has changed the blogosphere.
    Most NoMi folks get their info from the numerous Facebook groups where information is almost instant after if happens. John Hoff's blog is now mostly a rebroadcast of NorthTalk with photos he swipes from dead people Facebook pages. He tries to keep up, but is usually behind the times. His posting of the deceased criminal histories has gotten old and uninteresting, as are his frequent swipes at Spank Pete; no one really cares about him anymore, except Hoff.
    Nothing in the Johnny Northside blog is original community information anymore. And the original attraction to his blog, going after slumlords has been replaced with feeble commentary on shootings which may be due to his living in another state (which has been reported in several Facebook groups, but has yet to be authenticated - although no one has seen him in months), which might explain why all he does is report news from Facebook and the mainstream media.
    Several of the many neighborhood group blogs haven't been touched in months, so it's hard to tell which ones are still active.
    Most of the regular blogs are no longer updated frequently, and even "The Deets" has resorted to reposting and discussing Twitter "Tweets".
    With Facebook and Twitter providing up to the minute information. I just don't have time to surf all the blogs, especially when the content is just a reporting of yesterdays social media information.
    Irving Inquisition (which I really liked) and several other blogs knew it was time to end. Others should take the hint.

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  12. You make quite a few decent points, many of which are tied to the decrease in production from my blog as well. For instance, when John and I first started blogging, there was almost no one else out there putting up content about north Minneapolis. So whenever there was an event, good or bad, there was this sense that the story needed to be told.

    Then some of the bad actors and crazies, like Don Allen and Terry Y, started to up their game as well. And the mainstream media caught on, but not always in a good way. So that turned into almost a race to get the content out first so we could frame the issue and get everyone else responding to our narrative.

    With the emergence of a plethora of north Minneapolis Facebook pages, I don't see the need to do either of those tasks anymore. Plus, I spend a fair amount of my internet time on those sites as well. So what good do blogs do? I've pondered this at length. (Also, I have never really gotten the hang of Twitter. Aside from live-tweeting certain political events, I don't use my feed much since the blogspot function went on the fritz.)

    What I have come back to is that there is still a need for long-form writing about events and initiatives and issues in our community. What I see happening with this and other blogs is that the blog has become almost like a company website with more "stationary" information and not much interaction. But it can be good fodder for the FB pages to chew on where the interaction happens at a better level.

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