In November of 2004, cornslaw.com was purchased and I went about trying to find some webspace. I’ll clue you into the eventual conclusion of this story, and the reason we are currently situated at a “dot net” rather than a “dot com” now:
- I was stupid, and around November 2006, I forgot to renew the address.
- The purchaser of the address, a creepy Cayman Islands-based company, put one of those “the best <whatever> on the Internet” pages up.
- Said creepy company were not interested in selling the page back to me.
- A site now claims that cornslaw.com is “is among the top domain names out of the 168,155 we have listed in the food/drink category.” So, I take pride in that, despite the fact that nothing about food ever graces the pages of the site when it was under my control. That site will sell you the domain… for a lot of money, I assume.
- Finally, the company I used for hosting, also the company I had registered the domain through, were unsympathetic to my loss, my ignorance, and my situation. In all fairness, they didn’t have to nice to me. It was my fault. But I moved to a much nicer company after that.
So, back to the beginning…
I had cornslaw.com, I had webspace, I had a little bit of design (albeit bad) knowledge, I had a bootlegged copy of Dreamweaver (then a Macromedia product), I had a few videos, some songs, a bunch of friends who seemed to want to do something, but no real idea what Cornslaw Industries was going to be. Despite this, it always was exactly what IFNOR was before it and what it would come to be in the months and years that followed: “if for no other reason” than just to do something. An experiment in non-profit, web-based distribution; explorations in alternative methods of ownership; and pretty much just because we had so much stuff lying around that no one was hearing, reading, seeing, etc. So, why not?
The earliest crawled version of the Cornslaw site announces that the site will launch “officially” on December 1st, 2004. The site is presented as “just another semi-monthly multi-media cultural cyber-‘zine / dumping ground / media production company for hire.” At the time, it was pretty much just “Cornslaw.” The “Industries” part was used, but not in the sense of an overall brand, it was reserved more as a “for hire” term. Interestingly, people actually did hire me to do a bit of editing, digitization (that was a big one back then), and a handful of other things.
At the time, I think I foresaw the site going more in the direction of a pop culture magazine/blog (despite knowing nothing of content management systems, or how exactly it would work), and as a home page for freelance production work. In fact, I described “Cornslaw Industries” as “the legitimate facet of Cornslaw<DOT>com, an independent multi-media production company specializing in digital audio and video run by Colin Helb.”
Back to Matt and Britt (and the handful of other early contributors… we’ll get to them later). It was decided that Britt would be writing “Stotler’s Timely Record Reviews.” Essentially, Britt Stotler is a walking encyclopedia of otherwise useless production notes of rock music. And not just the good stuff, he knows stuff about some truly dismissible music. Not all bad, but not all good either. He wrote up some great stuff early on, focusing on stadium rock, prog, classic rock, etc. from the 1970s. He still does this a lot on Amazon. I’ll have to find a link to his reviews and add it.
Matt Reiter was to provide a series of poems for each “issue” of the Cornslaw ‘zine. I can’t remember how many in total he actually did, but he did about eight or so for the first issue. You can still read them on the Wayback crawled version of the first issue. Some of them, in particular “Like Communication,” were particularly fun to format since he was using some interesting arrangements then. Like Britt, Reiter is still at it on his Reiterations poetry blog.
Beyond Matt and Britt, I started experimenting with digitizing and uploading some old records I had. Mostly spoken word, how-to, and other non-music vinyl. I was pretty sure these would not raise the red flags of copyright holders, if, in fact, they were still under any sort of active copyright, but I was also interested in what would raise these red flags as well. (In a future part, I will go into why Cornslaw is semi-banned from YouTube.) Beyond the practice of digital transferring, it allowed me the opportunity to practice writing about pop culture ephemera. The “Hear How To Improve Your Fishing” record was the first and an early favorite. A scan of the record’s printed instructions provided PoCKetScHwa with the visual representation of “Buzz,” the personified fabrication of our “booking agent.”
There was a sense of what Cornslaw would come to be, a media dump, in the earliest incarnations of the site, but it would be another year or two until that aspect of the site became more fully realized. In fact, none of the “controversial” mp3s from IFNOR made it in the earliest version of the site.
In part three, we will explore the rise and domination of “Bored: The Cornslaw Message.” Board. See also part one.