Speaking of burgers, here’s something I’ve had stuck in my craw for a while that just came back up along with those Dutch breakfast brains. Everyone has a catchy idea for what’s the new black. How about gratitude? It’s greatly lacking, and it’s gotta change. In a sea full of thankless swimmers, I hate to single one person out. However, Jon Burgerman, you are so singularly out of line that your case is a perfect example of why creative people should not work for free*.
For several years, I voluntarily maintained a fan-based website called Doodlesplatter. It chronicled all of Jon Burgerman’s artistic exploits between 2001-2011 in great detail. In the year 2010, I posted something new just about every two days. I did this because it was fun, I was learning about WordPress, and organizing miscellaneous packets of information felt zenlike to my overstimulated brain. I stopped updating the site in 2012 because it ceased to be fun, I had other ways of advancing my WordPress skillz, and an unfulfilled desire to feel appreciated for my efforts was seriously harshing my zen.
I mention Doodlesplatter because I want to talk about The Neon Hive. Until I met Molly, Pete and company, my Jon Burgerman “blogography” was basically a default WordPress template with a Photoshopped banner (see here). The best thing Jon Burgerman ever did for me was introduce me to The Neon Hive, a favor he provided by asking his twitter followers if anyone might be interested in helping redesign my website. That tweet began one of my absolute favorite Internet-age prevailing friendships and partnerships.
The Neon Hive didn’t simply redesign Doodlesplatter, they redefined it.
It went from being a simple blogroll to a complete hub for Burgerman’s various pursuits and ventures. They wrote code to randomly output ”Burger Thoughts.” They embedded his tweets and music. They over-delivered on my OCD requests for customized organization: now you could search Jon’s archive by year (2001-2011) and by use (collectibles, wearables, readables, playables, rideables…)! Everything was, to quote a very Neon word, “bespoke”.
I had trouble keeping tabs on Jon’s travels, so Molly made me great graphic maps of common destinations. I wanted thumbnails displayed in searches, and Pete came to the rescue. In 2010, as a response to the frequency with which Jon’s art was being copied online, we backed Jon by launching The Shammy Awards, a well-intended, but ultimately misguided parody awards ceremony.
For someone whose art was the subject of an (excuse my immodesty) EPIC website, Jon didn’t play much of a role in Doodlesplatter. All my information came from web research, Google Alerts and two friendly volunteer archivists: Amir in the UK and Jeps in The Netherlands. But working on Doodlesplatter meant working with The Neon Hive, and even as the reason for making the website became less and less clear, the act of working on it grew more and more enjoyable. Whenever I had a question or a whimsy, I went to Molly and they immediately got it, to use another Neon word, “sorted”. I was so impressed by their work and attitude that I recommended them to make websites for other companies, and ultimately, they designed this eyegasm of a website you’re looking at right now.
I love my website, and I’m not a narcissist. After writing for lots of other people, it made sense for me to have a place of my own. The Neon Hive built me a site that feels like home. And now I’m coming to the point of this post.
Around the beginning of this new decade, Burgerman decamped from the UK to Brooklyn, NY
to focus more on his music for personal reasons. The Neon Hive heeded his need for a website, and Anxieteam.com was born. [This sentence has been redacted pending clarification of facts.] For bewildering reasons, Burgerman chose to use his first Anxieteam post of 2012 to disparage the website, which was just the last straw for me. Had Jon really done the blogosphere’s version of a hip-hop diss track? Oh no he hadn’t…
Jon Burgerman, you
are were a lucky guy. You had people making and maintaining websites and video archives for you for free. While I appreciate your occasional acts of generosity (like this wedding doodle), enough is enough. You admit that you’re lazy in the same sentence in which you say you hate updating your own site. Newsflash: writing is work! WordPress is joy. The Neon Hive are saints. If you’re not having a good time blogging, stop blogging about yourself. I will.
* If you’re considering working for free, ensure you’re getting two out of three of these: love, money and credit. My wife taught me this, and she’s right. She gets love and credit, and maybe, just maybe, someday: money.
Remember: If someone does a nice thing for you, (upgraded if that nice thing they do causes you to receive money) do something nice for them back. A simple thank you will often suffice. If you’re really pleased with his efforts, you can send him a green baseball bat so he can play “sportsball” with his friends. We’re all in this together, trying to make it work.