Seven Days Underground
Democratic Underground had its official launch on Inauguration Day, January
20, 2001. Much has happened since then. To mark the passing of our first
week, we felt that our faithful visitors might like to read a SLIGHTLY
EMBELLISHED first-person account of the highs and lows
of launching an underground political website. by
1 (SAT) - A GIFT FROM MSNBC
On Friday night, we were up until about 3:00am getting ready
for the website's big Inaugural Day Launch. We were hoping
to be in bed by midnight, but our intern a young radical
from one of the local community colleges spilled paint
all over our banner at around 11:30, and we had to start from
scratch. EarlG thought the intern was trying to sniff the
stuff, and I wouldn't be surprised if it were true (he kept
mumbling something about how "acrylic lasts longer than
this latex crap", but we weren't clear on the context).
The rest of us are too old for that sort of thing, but we'll
keep him around because he is the only one here that knows
anything about programming perl. (Fortunately, he got the
"Nuclear Button" script working by 10:00pm, before
the can of paint arrived.)
On Saturday, we met at our makeshift "office" in Northwest
DC sometime around 11:00am. We were supposed to meet at 9:30, but the
intern overslept. He showed up with his own homemade "George W. Ass"
sign, but we wouldn't let him bring it to the protests Newshound
thought it was "off message."
We got down to Pennsylvania avenue around noon, and were fortunate to
claim a prime location right in front of the press bleachers. Protesters
were confined to a few "designated protest areas," and it seemed
strange to me that one of those spots would be right in front of the media.
I guess the communications geniuses in the Bush camp didn't think of everything.
The other protesters seemed to be a mishmash of left-wing types: Some
dancing polar bears to protest oil drilling in ANWR; Some free-Mumia folks;
Anti-death penalty activists; A pretty large contingent of Seattle-style
anti-globalization college kids; and even a guy on stilts to protest,
well, I don't know what he was protesting. Like us, lots of folks
were protesting how Bush stole the election, but there were far fewer
of us than I expected. A sizable chunk of the protesters I spoke with
voted for Nader. I thought, if it wasn't for you, I wouldn't be out here
freezing my ass off in the rain. But I digress.
While ostensibly there to protest, our real motivation for attending
the event was to get our banner on television. (We have no money, and
this was the cheapest national advertising campaign we could come up with.)
The banner was eight feet long by 3 feet tall, white canvas, with the
words "DemocraticUnderground.com" painted in big, black letters.
With luck, some Good Democrats would see it on TV and stop by our website,
which at this point was sitting unused on a server somewhere in Atlanta
Sometime between noon and 1:00, EarlG's cell phone rang. His wife yelled
into his ear: "Stop shaking the banner!" She, and about a million
other people, were watching us on MSNBC. A preliminary count turned up
exactly four messages on our discussion board. The first one: "Nice
f------ discussion board. There's nobody here." By the end of the
day, there would be nearly a thousand posts.
Eventually Dubya's limo drove by our part of the parade route. It was
going so fast that the secret service guys were in a full sprint. We decided
to pack it up and go back to the office. The intern stayed behind to get
some more of "that quality doobidge from the polar bears."
Back in the office around 5:00, we discovered our message boards had
become a virtual food fight, and our inbox was bursting with messages
like: Your the people who are whats wrong with this country. Why dont
you go back to Rusia? [sic] Plus, we'd sent over 2,000 angry emails
to conservatives using our innovative "Nuclear Button" one-click
Spent the evening patting ourselves on the back. That is, all of us except
the intern, who spent the evening eating 3 loaves of Wonder bread.
page views by the end of today: 32,183
Hate email messages received today: at least 167
TO PAGE 2 »
Closing the Door (A Bit)