THE SPAM MAN
spam. Where would we be without spam? I'll tell
you where. We'll be living in a lush, verdant
paradise, unspoilt by rejected technology, where
men and women of all creeds and races can join
hands and sing for the sheer joy of being alive.
I'm exaggerating, but I don't think I am when I
say that most internet users would very much like
to invite the spam merchants to sod off and die.
Which is why I was in an enviable position
recently, when I decided to track down the man
who invented spam and interview him. It took a
while, but after doing some research into one of
those spam mails that try to sell you 50,000
e-mail addresses - and after filtering twelve
different viruses from my computer - I finally
had a name.
name was Floda Dratsabizan (and if you're having
trouble with that name, it's pronounced
'Flow-dar'), a German national who came to
America shortly after the end of the second world
war, now living in a retirement community in
Florida. I caught up with him just before the
nurses took him inside for his blanket bath, and
squeezed a few words out of him.
So, Mr. Dratsabizan ... if I could digress for a
moment, where did you get that fascinating name?
Vell, zat is a very gut qvestion. It vos
suggested to me by my gut friend Heinrich chust
before I decided to flee to ze Americas - er,
vait, delete zat bit. It vos given to me by my
all-American parents ven I was born in Cleveland,
Ohio, you big silly.
Right. Now then, what first gave you the idea for
It vos a few years ago ven ve first got internet
installed in ze home. I recall being most
impressed vith ze huge netvork of people all over
ze world. I spent a lot of time in ... vot you
call ... IRC? Making many friends. One day I
vondered if it vould be possible to send a happy
little message to all my friends in von go. And
ze idea chust developed from zere, really.
I notice you are English, mein freund.
Yes, I am.
Churchill vos English, vosn't he.
Well, he was Prime Minister, that usually does
Vere you fond of Churchill?
Er ... I didn't know him personally, but I
suppose, if you mean I'm glad we're not all
goose-stepping and wearing armbands and calling
each other Schweinhund, then yes.
this point Mr. Dratsabizan fell into a sort of
silent catatonic state. I sat patiently for
fifteen minutes until he seemed to snap out of
it. He wiped a tear from his eye, downed his
glass of peppermint schnapps in one go, and asked
me to continue)
Okay then. So, Mr. Dratsabizan, are you
intimidated by the way spam has really taken off?
Intimidated? Vy should I be intimidated by zat?
Have you ever seen vot goes on in the furnaces at
a concentration camp?
... I'm afraid not.
(after a pause) Vell, neither have I! But if I
had, zen you'd be sure it vould probably be a lot
more intimidating zan the vay spam has really
taken off, like you said!
I suppose so.
Churchill vos a drunk, you know.
He was the leader of the armed forces. He was
allowed to be drunk. If he was drunk and piloting
a spitfire, then we'd have had a reason to worry.
I never touched a drink in my life! I vould have
been a much better ruler zan Churchill!
Well, I guess we'll never know, now.
this point Mr. Dratsabizan pulled a previously
unnoticed Luger from his dressing gown pocket and
pointed it at me, demanding I go and kneel in
front of the duck pond with my hands behind my
back. Three nurses had to run in and hold him
down while another jammed about three pints of
sedative into his veins. As he was dragged away,
foaming at the mouth, I reluctantly decided to
call the interview off.)
that was my encounter with the man who invented
spam, and I have to admit, I don't feel any
closer to understanding him. I was especially
angry at myself when I got home and realised I'd
forgotten to tell him to sod off and die on
behalf of all the internet users in the world. On
the whole, a disappointing day.
updates - features - essays - reviews - comics - games - novels - about - contact - forum - links