Forget the political sites, I inadvertently started my own firestorm of controversy with my innocent little blog. It started when I was cited in last Sunday’s Los Angeles Times in a small article about my nephew’s band, The Blisters, and the recent oatmeal commercial they shot here with director Errol Morris. After stating that the boys’ parents declined to comment, the columnist writes that “an account on a blog kept by the boys’ uncle, Danny Miller, gives more detail” and then quotes from my blog. Needless to say I was shocked to see this mention which also appeared in the Chicago Tribune and in the online edition of both papers. I was surprised that he didn’t try to contact me himself and I was amazed to see myself as a “source” for an item in the newspaper. It made me think about all the stuff I write in here and how in some cases what is “true for me” would not exactly stand up to the most stringent of journalistic standards!
Some folks on a Wilco fan website called Via Chicago saw this article and looked up my blog. It wasn’t long before they were linking to it on their website. In a recent post where I was writing about the Wilco concert and my memory of my mother meeting Jeff, I included a wedding photo of my sister and my brother-in-law which someone from Via Chicago posted onto their site. That person was then roundly attacked by several diehard fans. People said it was “creepy” to post such a personal photo on a fan site, said it “went way over the line,” ordered the photo taken down, complained that they should show the Tweedys more respect, etc. I think it’s sweet that some of the Wilco fans feel so protective of Sue and Jeff, but I tend to agree with the other folks who argued that moving the photo from one public site to another public site is no big deal. Hey, I’m the one who is constantly
stealing borrowing photos from other sites to illustrate my posts. I agree with one poster who said “there is no privacy on the Internet.” That’s why I’m not posting anything that I wouldn’t want to be in the public domain, not that I wasn’t surprised to see that photo end up on a Wilco discussion board.
What do you think? Am I wrong to consider any photo on the Internet as fair game? I guess there are limits. I sure wouldn’t want photos I post of my daughter to appear on any site frequented by pedophiles or other creepy characters. But I think all of the visuals I’ve posted have been fairly benign, with the possible exception of the softcore pornography Julie Newmar sent me when I was 11! And I would never download photos from blogs or other sources that specifically state that they are against this, such as photographers’ or artists’ sites.
It was fun to check my StatCounter results yesterday and see that the hits on my blog had skyrocketed from one to two hundred a day to a whopping 775. Should I start pandering to this new crowd to keep my numbers up? On Mondays I’ll post selections from my sister’s teenage journals. On Wednesdays I’ll conduct online auctions of the clothes Jeff gave me last year after he lost some weight. And on Fridays I’ll provide MP3 files of Wilco remixes intercut with my favorite Rodgers & Hammerstein showtunes: “Jeff Tweedy IS Billy Bigelow!” The discussion on Via Chicago got so heated that I posted on that site for the first time myself just to say that they needn’t worry. My sister and Jeff weren’t upset about the photo and believe me, if I ever posted anything on my blog that she took issue with, I’d hear about it right away. To prove my point (and to try to hold onto my new audience for just one more day) I’m posting one last photo of the cute couple that I still have in my computer from last summer. 11 years later and they still have it! For a fun activity you can place it next to the earlier one I posted and check for new wrinkles and age spots!
The funniest thing to come out of the Via Chicago furor was the fact that several people expressed doubts that I was the “real” Danny Miller! As if I’d register under a false name as some kind of hoax! Lord, if I were going to do that I’d at least pretend I was Tom Cruise so I could recant my slavish devotion to Scientology and publicly apologize to Brooke Shields. Of course it is very easy to assume false identities online, as we all know, and having such a hideously common name, there are plenty of real Danny Millers whose identities I don’t want to assume but whom I know people often think are me. Richard Cohen had a great post recently about all the Richard Cohens he’d come in contact with and I’ve spent half my life saying “No, you have the wrong Danny Miller.” I get frequent calls for Danny Miller the sculptor, Danny Miller the Vietnam vet, and Danny Miller the wrestler. Many people from my past hear my name each day as the producer of the great NPR program “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross (I wish!) and when Jeff was on that show last year everyone thought it was me. A quick Google search of my name yields, if you can believe it, over two million hits! At the top of the list is a professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales in Quebec, a multimedia artist in Chicago, a professor of anthropology at Cambridge, a cardiothoracic surgeon in Georgia, an assistant professor of emergency medical care in Kentucky, the Danny Miller Band in Wisconsin, a sophomore at Seattle University, the Danny Miller Benefit to raise funds for an injured boy whose parents own a jungle theme park in San Diego, Danny Miller Park in Greendale, Indiana, named after some poor kid who died in 1973, a man in Missouri who got power of attorney for his aging grandfather and proceeded to transfer all of the grandfather’s property to his own name, and so on. There were even three Danny Millers in my college class (I used to always get the wrong grades). The scariest thing is that there are also several Danny Millers posting online poetry. I don’t want to be unkind so all I’ll say is THAT IS NOT ME!! Trust me, the only poetry I will ever be posting (or writing) are my obnoxious Valentine’s Day poems that Kendall forces me to pen each year!
Yikes, have I reached a new level of narcissism? London is steel reeling from its terrorist attack, the world is going to hell in a handbasket, and all I can talk about is me, me, ME! But wait—it’s NOT me! Damn it, one of those other Danny Millers has hacked into my site. Phew, I’m not responsible for this post!