Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Ever since I posted about Jeff's boyhood home being for sale, there isn't a week that goes by when a real estate bot doesn't post a comment after that story. Here's the latest one.

What a hilariously ineffective bot! Let's advertise our realty service, on a post about a home where someone was brutally murdered and butchered! 

A recent study revealed that  nearly TWO THIRDs of website hits and page views come from bots. Just think about that for a sec. Now a good chunk of that is search engines. But, according to the study, 31 per cent of bots are still classed as ‘malicious’. Scraper bots (these comb the web for exploitable information, anything from emails to news content) make up 5 per cent of web traffic whilst general purpose hacking tools (the sort of bots that might be employed by a criminal to steal your credit card data) make up 4.5 per cent.

So this site, as offbeat and non-commercial as they come,  is being regularly visited by scraper bots. They hit on "home" and "for sale" and blammo. Comment left. I've probably deleted 30 comments. 

They ineffectiveness of these bots is quite a comfort, actually.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Here's my best PBS interview

This was originally done for the Cleveland PBS affiliate, right when MFD debuted in March 2012. In fact, much of the interview was conducted in the William Busta Gallery in downtown Cleveland, where I held the official book launch, and a gallery show that featured original pages, sketches and artifacts. It was a great show. Seems like a million years ago.

But the interview has now popped up in an arts show for the Las vegas PBS affiliate, who thoughtfully posted it on Youtube, so I can share it with you here. It's one of the better interviews I filmed, I think. The creepy music is a little melodramatic, but otherwise they did a nice job with it. You get a glimpse of the attic studio where I created this book, too.

My bit starts at the 18:00 mark.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Mystery of the National Honor Society Photo

Friend Neil sent me this recently. Neither of us had ever seen it before. Back in 1991, as Dahmer's story played out in media around the world, the sleazy tabloid National Enquirer somehow acquired the unaltered National Honor Society group photo from our senior yearbook, the one with Jeff's face famously blacked out. Needless to say, I was not reading the supermarket tabloids back then for their Dahmer coverage, so I missed this when it originally appeared.

At top is the photo, as originally snapped. At bottom is how it appeared in the yearbook, blotted out by the NHS advisor when she saw we had snuck Jeff into the picture.  I depict this scene in MFD. IN 1991, as the details of his sad, young life emerged, this photo became a symbol of his wasted youth. The boy who didn't belong.

The truth, of course, was the Dahmer Fan Club had arranged the whole thing, as part of our campaign to sneak Dahmer into every group photo in the yearbook. Jeff enthusiastically played along. So it wasn't really a symbol of Jeff's ostracism and isolation from high school society. It was, in fact, just the opposite, evidence that he had friends and participated in typical, teenage, goofball antics. 

The question Neil and I have now is where did this unaltered photo come from? Neil was a yearbook photog, but he didn't take this particular photo. He was, in fact, in it, since he was a member of NHS. The kid who took the photo says he didn't sell it to the Enquirer either. The print used in the yearbook was altered with a marker in the yearbook office in the high school. This was long before desktop publishing. Photos were sized for each page layout and then sent to the photography studio to be made into a halftone. After that it it was pasted onto a make-up page, along with the type. Then the whole page was shot as a negative and that was used to make the printing plate. Yeah, it was a lot more complicated.

Our best guess is that the owner of the Akron photo studio, the one that did all the pre-press work for the yearbook, and took all the school portraits, had the original photo negatives in his files and sold it to the Enquirer. This would have been 13 years after our senior year. It was also long before digital images and storage, of course. These would have been film negatives, stuffed in a file drawer, originally as back-up and probably never thrown away. This studio worked for a number of school districts in the area.  The portrait pic of Jeff shown here is also not one which appeared in any yearbook, adding to our belief it came from the photography studio. 

Curiously, to my knowledge,  this is the only publication either of these photos appeared in! Seems like every photo of Jeff from his childhood, and there weren't that many, has been reprinted 1000 times. Not these.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Dahmer and death metal

I recounted this particular tale some months back in my blog at Derfcity.com, my main website, but it's bizarre enough that I'll post it here as well, for those who missed it.

Dahmer has been adopted as an anti-hero by the Death Metal crowd, the outcast who was bullied and shunned and then lashed back at the society that had done these things. This is crap on a number of levels, of course. Dahmer was driven by insatiable sexual depravity, not by some metalhead revenge fantasy. Most of his victims were gay, black men. You'd be hard pressed to come up with a more shunned and bullied group than gay, black men!

Ah, but such logic doesn't stop the metalheads.  There have been a number of groups "inspired" by Dahmer: Apartment 213, Trophies of Dahmer, a group simply named Dahmer and this one below, Macabre, that put out a 26-song Dahmer tribute album in 2000!  This cut below, Do the Dahmer, is an ode to our high school antics. How many of you readers have a death metal anthem to your teenage goofballery?

There's been some conjecture in metal circles about Dahmer's musical tastes. metal in the 1970s was in it's infancy. A lot of it was kid stuff, like Kiss and Alice Cooper. Most seem to think Jeff was a Judas Priest fan, which is a rumor probably started by Priest's publicist! The truth about Dahmer's musical taste is far stranger.

This comes from friend Neil, one of the small group of band nerds who befriended Dahmer in high school and formed the Dahmer Fan Club to egg him on in his various acts of weirdness, "Doing the Dahmer" as the song says. You'll read all in the book. Neil contributed much material, through many emails and conversations, as I was putting together this book over the past several years. But he dropped this particular story on me just a few months ago, a painfully tardy contribution, since the book was already printed and steaming across the Pacific from the printing plant in China! Too late to add it, alas, so you readers get it as an added treat.

In the Summer of 1975, between freshman and sophomore years, Neil and Dahmer went to a concert together. The Cleveland area, which our town was on the far edge of, was known at that time as the Rock Capital of the World, due to several powerful and influential  FM stations and a huge, rabid rock fandom. There were many venues in the area where legendary concerts were held, but none was more beloved than Blossom Music Center.

Blossom was WAY out in the boonies, in the rolling countryside far south of Cleveland (it's now the Cuyahoga Valley National Park). It was an outdoor amphitheater, surrounded by a vast, sloping lawn where concert-goers could spread out with blankets and picnic dinners and enjoy a live performance. It opened in 1968 to serve as the summer home of the Cleveland Orchestra (which it still is). Looking for extra revenue, the following year Blossom began booking rock acts and immediately became THE place to see live music.

The official capacity was 8,000. But because of its rural setting, fans would simply abandon their cars on the berms of the surrounding, gridlocked country roads and hike through the woods to crash the gates. There was no fence or barrier, the local police force was comprised of Goober and Barney, and Blossom security was totally overwhelmed as kids poured in from every direction. A Blood, Sweat & Tears concert in 1969 drew a crowd of over 80,000! It was Woodstock every weekend! Concert-goers drank wine out of sheepskin jugs and passed joints and bongs. A giant fog of pot smoke hung over the throng, at times obliterating the amphitheater itself. Couples frolicked naked in the nearby woods. All over the lawn, lovers crawled into sleeping bags to hump, the bags moving in time to the beat, like giant caterpillars. I saw my first live music (and my first naked woman!) here. Tickets were so cheap, $4 a head, and it was so easy to sneak into a show, that it really didn't even matter who was playing. You went for the experience and to try to meet girls. Never had any success there, despite the frequent topless nymphs dancing through the crowd.

So in the Summer of 1975, just before the start of our Sophomore year, Neil and Dahmer decided to attend a Blossom concert. Neil suspects it was Dahmer's first show. It may well have been his ONLY concert. Neither teenager was driving yet, so Dahmer's dad drove them as close as he could to the Blossom entrance, until the traffic gridlocked and then the boys walked the rest of the way, probably a couple miles. Heck, the driveway into the grounds was a couple miles long, so it was likely a four-or-five-mile hike! Made a few of those myself. He picked them up at the same spot at a designated time after the show. Traffic leaving Blossom shows was just as bottlenecked as it was before events. Many kids just slept in their cars until the following day!

The headliner for this show? Neil Sedaka!! That's right, the chubby, little schlockmeister who penned some of the most vile Top 40 hits of the Seventies!!! Friend Neil recalls that Dahmer was quite taken with Sedaka's music at the time and pushed to attend the show. I had MY young guilty pleasures, too, before I discovered punk rock later in the Seventies and my tastes refined, but NEVER something THIS godawful!!

That's right, metalheads. Turns out Dahmer was, in fact, a Neil Sedaka fan!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Media Frenzy: Another View

Here's an interesting piece I only recently stumbled across, by media critic Jim Romenesko. It's a first-person account of what Dahmer's trial was like. Brings back a lot of memories from that time when the media frenzy was going full tilt. I was ducking the media then, for reasons that will be all-too-apparent from this article.