The story, as I understand it, is that Joe has worked out an elaborate conspiracy theory. He is absolutely, vehemently certain that Chris Reid is out to get him. When Chris dared to post an opinion opposite Joe's, he absolutely and thoroughly lost his mind. Joe actually decided, somehow, that Chris Reid disagreeing with him was an automatic prelude to Chris banning him, removing his website and embarassing him publically. I have given the process two teary, sleepless nights now, and I have been unable to fathom the logic involved.
Joe was further offended that I would not post in his defense, and that I told him he was wrong. He sent me the nastiest e-mail I've ever seen, insisting that we're no longer friends and stating outright that the whole of our involvement was some plot on my part to steal documents for the CIC. That's beyond terrible, and if nothing else I need to refute that claim.
So, I'm posting.
I can certainly defend or demonize Chris Reid. Chris isn't an easy to guy love. He's often coarse in his online interactions, arguably the result of a lifetime of usenet posts to an internet that was a lot messier than the one you all enjoy today. Chris is my opposite in many, many ways: from physical appearance to political opinions to interests outside of Wing Commander.
At the same time, I know Chris Reid as the guy who won't remove Hadrian from the CIC staff list, even after Hadrian stole hundreds of dollars from Chris and did his best to ruin our vacation. Joe should remember Chris as the guy who, before having his succesful engineering career, offered to pay to send Joe's whole family to Dragon*Con after finding out they wouldn't be able to make it in 2002. Chris is fundamentally a good person who loves us all more than we will ever really believe. From spending thousands of dollars a year to keep the CIC running, to mailing out a hundred prizes every August to capping his eight to twelve hour work days with two hours of update writing several days a week, Chris gives the community his all -- even if he isn't an outright fun character like LOAF or Joe Garrity.
I don't think Chris likes Joe Garrity very much. Joe smokes, he has a big personality and he isn't the same kind of Wing Commander fanboy that many of us are. Chris is the kind of person who will look at you funny if you talk about how you've never read False Colors. Elitist? Sure, I'll agree -- but I probably feel the same way half the time.
Joe Garrity certainly doesn't like Chris -- at all. For all the raging he has done in the alst 48 hours about Chris daring to offend (read: disagree with) him in his 'home', it's Joe Garrity who shoes up in #WingNut to make fun of Chris on a regular basis. #WingNut is, of course, *Chris*' home.
Joe knows Chris' personality, and feels the need to needle him about it constantly. Beyond that, Chris recieves constant reports from channel users that Joe has been badmouthing him in private. Chris was so happy after the party last month -- after all the IRC antics, everyone got along great and had a wonderful time... and I personally watched him become crestfallen when he got back online and found another log of Joe making fun of him to Goku.
That's a 'motive' -- but there's no crime. Chris didn't attack Joe, Quarto -- the most reasonable of all of us -- 's reaction proves that. Chris had every right to dislike Joe, to attack him, and so on... and he didn't. He pointed out his opinion.
And was savaged for it. And Joe expects me to defend him for that.
The hell I will.
I want to refute the attack on me, personally. I swear here it isn't true.
Read our archives -- how many times did we credit Joe with archiving work that Hades or I did? How many times did we promote the Origin Museum for no reason? How many Origin people that he knows were introduced to him because I explained his museum to them? How many rare artifacts did I personally donate to his collection, with no fanfare whatsoever?
The answer to all of these questions is many.
I'm not some thief, and it's disgusting that he could forget our history to that extent -- all because I would dare agree with my friend Chris over my friend Joe.
The Joe Garrity I thought I knew might be dead now, but he was a great man with a great idea.
Joe and Paula were beyond very kind to me for a great many years. They used to take me out to nicer dinners than I ever deserved to talk about crazy Origin schemes. I've always felt indebted for that, and I've wanted to believe all along that I've helped him, too... from attending an *Ultima* convention to find him rare games, to spending a fortune tracking down a rare hat for him, to keeping him in the loop about secret WC projects whenever they are discussed, to forwarding him any WC veterans I meet to his museum.
Apparently that all adds up to nothing, and it was all part of a scheme I had, to get things from him. As I often make long friendships in the hopes that people I know will recieve things to scan from EA years later. Then I help them scan those things and put them online, giving them all the credit and... well, I think you see where this evil plot goes.
I mention with some reserve, in so far as it breaks with whatever narrative this rant might have had, that this happened once before -- back at the first DragonCon, a former WC producer offered to send Joe a box of props. Knowing that this had been offered to everyone in the universe before, I seized on the opportunity, replied and told him it'd be great if we could get them in the next week or so because we were going to Dragon*Con (where we had a booth displaying Origin memorabelia). Those props are all in Joe's museum now, but somehow he still thought for years that I was trying to screw him over. I blamed Hades for that for years, but I think now that it probably wasn't anything he said -- it was just an unwarranted conspiracy theory in the mind of someone who didn't understand that I wanted to do something for him.
Ahh, and the museum. I agree, somewhat sadly, with Quarto and criticalmass. Joe straddled the line between collector and archivist. I won't say he was one and tried to sell himself as the other -- I'd say he just never managed to balance the two properly... but what he did do, he did brilliantly -- and everyone, everyone he talked to about Origin believed in him. Look at Quarto, who send him a game from the other side of the world. Everybody did that. The first time I met Joe, he mentioned he didn't have a boxed Origin FX. I went home, got my copy and gave it to him the second time we met. Only OFX box I've ever had, and I was happy to donate it. Joe was that persuasive, his museum was that cool and his dream was that amazing.
It was necessary, for any adult spending their own money on this sort of thing, to believe that it might be an investment. You put it in the back of your mind, because the rhetoric was so very, very good. That sounds shallow, though -- the practice itself was very, very good. Joe put on a great show. Yes, Chris and I came along and we started archiving things in a very serious trained-archivist manner... and we had a set of non-profit ideals there that I think impresses our WC audience... but we never had the pizzaz and the dream that Joe did, and because of that we were always happy to put our abilities behind his dream.
Joe, god dammit... we all loved you, so very, very much. Me, Hades, Frosty... random people who read about you... you were this amazing character, this great friend... and what did you do to yourself?
Maybe he really does hate us all, maybe he really is just a greedy collector... I can't believe those things. Maybe he has some personal issue and just took out his anger here... maybe he hated Chris Reid more than any of us could have believed, for reasons we can't understand... those two guesses are, at least, believable. In any case, I urge none of us to judge him too harshly -- I believe, truly believe, that he didn't know what he was doing and couldn't see the way out for reasons beyond our understanding.
I sincerely hope that he will recognize that he's done something very stupid, that he's gone out of his way to offend his friends and that he will apologize and make things right. I hope, too, that you will all let him. There once was a great man who was Joe Garrity... I hope that this broad recollection, attempt to explain and sadly required defense of Chris will not need to be an elegy.
I will end with a true story.
I got an e-mail the other day from a graphic designer -- someone who worked for Origin years ago. He answered my WC question, and then he happened to mention -- he had a mockup box for Bioforge Plus and did I think there'd be any interest if he were to sell it?
Reading that, I literally broke down crying... because the one guy who I wanted to call and tell about that had just told me he wasn't really my friend.