Well, we finally got the website for HUBERT’S FREAKS finished. I took it for a test spin this morning and I liked it – a wonderfully, unhealthy, lurid look to it, and plenty of features, including photos not in the book, a video of the amazing Jack Dracula talking about his love life and his association with Diane Arbus, and three audio samples of Charlie Lucas’ grind tape, a recording he made in 1965, and piped out to 42nd St. in hopes of luring customers down to Hubert’s Dime Museum. It’s amazing to me - close to miraculous, really - how effectively internet technology can deliver the feel of another time and place. Check it out at http://hubertsfreaks.com/
All this computer aided time-travel put me in mind of things webbish, and of Google in particular. (It has long been a fantasy of mine to write a crime novel in which one tough-guy character asks, “Who the hell are you?” and the other replies, “Google me, asshole.”) Long ago, in accordance with advice I gleaned from some “How to Publicize Your Book on the Internet” book, I set up a daily Google search for “Hubert’s Freaks,” “Diane Arbus,” and “Gregory Gibson.” Now, whenever a new review or news item comes out on the internet, Google finds it and sends it to me. Thanks to blessings of Google, I feel right on top of things.
But blessings sometimes come with curses. In this case, it’s my alter-ego, Gregory Gibson. Seems the “other” Gregory is a truck driver in Virginia. Last summer he sped through a red light and hit another car, killing a teenaged girl. He was headed for prison but the girl’s family asked that he be shown mercy. The judge, impressed, sentenced him to home incarceration and community service. Gregory wept and begged forgiveness. The newspapers, impressed, picked the story up, and now Google delivers it to my electronic doorstep, in its every iteration.
It’s a moving drama of redemption and forgiveness. I certainly wish the best for the girl’s family and for the truck driver. But, dammit, I do NOT relish waking up every morning to news of my criminal trial, to recounting my act of heedlessness that resulted in the death of another, to the recitation of the pain I caused that family, or even their high-minded mercy. Not to mention my wretched attempts to let them know how sorry I am for what I’ve done.
In some mystical way that relentless, blind Google spider has “called my name” and every morning I am dragged by proxy into a bit of the hell that these people are trying to live through.
I intend to be more careful with miracles in the future.