Here’s a random story and a call to arms for my 1,999th blog post.
Back at the end of the last century, I was running wild and free on a Usenet newsgroup called alt.fan.robert-jordan. I’ve talked about it a lot in the past, and some of you know me from there. It was where I met Mrs. Hatboy, and that’s where it all started.
At around the same time, I ran into this USian dude by the name of Shannon Drake. Since Shannon is totally a girl’s name, he dubbed himself He Who Is Shannon on the newsgroup. He still got cast as a girl in basically all our fanfic and was referred to using female pronouns in every conversation we had. It was a simpler time.
Shannon immediately endeared himself to me by being smart, funny, genuine, and relentlessly brutal. His mocking impersonations of assorted Usenet posters were second to none. He nailed it, every time – not only by hilarious exaggeration, but by the truths he so often distilled into caricature. He was also a pretty decent writer, which helped.
What I didn’t realise was that, while Shannon was of course sufficiently warped and cynical to fit right in on the ol’ Monkeyhouse group, he was actually staggeringly well-adjusted and balanced considering the assorted factors at work on him. Having dealt in some small measure with depression and stress and other shit like that myself recently, I can only shake my head in wonder when he talks about making it through his twenties without committing suicide.
Fast forward twenty-odd years and Shannon, his lady friend, and his hysterical collection of cats (I believe non-breeders and irretrievable cat people sometimes refer to them as “fur babies”, but as permissive as I have become in my early middle age I can neither abide nor approve of such twattery) have been obligated to return home to his mother’s house for economic reasons. I think it’s something to do with Freedom. All that Freedom apparently makes it hard for a gainfully employed man pushing forty to … live, somehow? Anyway, Freedom. Yeah.
Also he and his partner are writers and we are fucking broke all the fucking time.
Long story short, my pal Shannon ran into some shit, and now he and his nearest and dearest are having just the most spectacular run of problems. Most of them are caused by the fact that he’s living with the woman who seems like the wellspring of most of his crazy. But I should probably let Shannon tell it.
Because he has.
Using his decades-honed writing skill and merciless ability to characterise toxic or otherwise disturbed people; using his gift for setting scenes and turning horrible situations into darkly hilarious stories; using all the lame-as-fuck superpowers bestowed upon him by his genes, environment, upbringing, culture, education and wise Australian Internet friends; Shannon has rendered his frankly unbelievable recent history down into a miniature biography.
This is Shannon Drake’s Arsebook, and it is well worth a read. All profits from this specially-crafted piece of dystopian family dramedy go towards moving Shannon and his girl and his cats the fuck out of Crazytown.
If you feel particularly generous or don’t think the book proceeds are enough, he also has a GoFundMe. Because, again, Freedom. This is how members of Generation X and later pay for shit while the Boomers still have all the money. I know it’s a culturally difficult thing to confront and of course there’s no obligation to any of you, but I think the bravery my friend has shown in “begging for help” far outstrips the difficulty I’ve had in boosting the signal.
So yeah. There it is. A fascinating read and a harrowing window into human psychology, set against the backdrop of helping a friend get back on his feet. I’m calling it worthy.
– Posted from my Huawei mobile phone while on the metro.