Don’t Appear On No Stamps

This isn’t my first attempt at having a personal website; it’s closer to my… fourth, I think…? And that’s not counting the various blogs I had before they were called blogs — yes, dear reader, I did post for two years on a site actually called Diaryland, because I was young and the internet was younger, and collectively none of us knew any better. (I had a .blogspot site for a handful of months after Blogger launched that, I seem to remember, but I cannot remember the name of it for the life of me. File under thank heaven for small mercies, I suspect.)

I started thinking of having a personal site way back when I was still writing on Diaryland, because it felt as if it would be something that would say to the world “I’ve arrived!” I had no real experience of the internet at the time, but it was 1999 and, let’s be honest; no-one really did, back then. More to the point, however, I had no experience about what it would take to actually build a website, and the various WYSIWYG tools that make that possible now didn’t even exist back then. (This site would not be possible without WordPress making everything easy on the back end, I have to shamefully admit.)

Nonetheless, I knew exactly what the front page of my 1999 website would look like. I could see it clearly in my mind, so clearly that, even 21 years later, it still comes to mind as if it actually existed.

At the time, single-use disposable camera were very much a thing, pre-smartphones when people still took photographs on film and had them developed; Boots, the chemist, made a disposable camera styled after the colorful plastic look of iMacs of the era, and I loved them as much as I loved my iMac. I collected them, unwittingly; I’d have multiple camera around me, unused — or, worse, used and never-developed — at all times, it seemed like, because as much as anything, I just liked the way they looked.

The front page of my 1999 website would have been two of those cameras placed on a light table to make them glow against a brilliant white background, with the text “Neville Brody was a hero to most, but he never meant shit to me” in bright orange Helvetica placed over the top — a paraphrase of a certain Public Enemy lyric about Elvis Presley referencing a beloved graphic designer whose work had been often referenced during my art school days, to the point where I’d grown sick of him.

The site was never built, the front page never existed. I should probably be grateful for that, as much as I am embarrassed about that imaginary front page. Instead, though, I find myself nostalgic for something that didn’t exist, and imagining what might have been different if it had.

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