The History Driven By Boredom
Before Driven By Boredom was a website it was a motto. I hated being bored and have always needed to be doing something with my spare time. When I was 14 I started a music magazine and when I was 15 I started a record label and then I started taking photos of punk bands for the label and the magazine and punk rock was my entire life. Around my senior year in high school my partner in the magazine and label quit and I didn’t have something to consume my life with anymore. But around that time I also started fucking around with web design.
It was the late 90’s and I had been on the internet since 1992 or something like that. I was a kiddie hacker and for that era I was fairly knowledgeable when it came to tech but it wasn’t until my sophomore or junior when I started my first Geocities site. By the time I was a senior I knew basic HTML and had made a couple little websites and would check the hit counters every day and was blown away when a handful of people would check out my site in a given week.
I went to Penn State University in 1999 and realized immediately I had made a huge mistake. I wanted to run a record label for a living so I was a business major but before I even took my first class I said fuck it and became a photography major. Punk rock was all about DIY and I figured if I was a photo major I could take it easy and figure out the music shit in my free time. The problem was Penn State had no punk scene.
I quickly became good friends with my Penn State roommate but outside of him and a couple other people I didn’t really have any friends. I was a punk kid and I didn’t drunk and I didn’t exactly fit in at a giant party school in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania. I spent a lot of time talking to my friends online and meeting new people on the internet, but one day I decided to ride the Loop Bus around campus on a Friday night and it changed my life forever.
The Loop Bus was a free bus that drove around campus from about the time classes started until bars closed at night. During the day it was a way for people to get to class or to get downtown but on Friday and Saturday night it became a way for people to get to bars and parties without having to drive a car. It was affectionately called “The Drunk Bus” and it was always a complete fucking shit show.
So one night I am with my roommate and a few people and we are trying to figure out what we should do. We didn’t know of any parties and it was way too fucking cold to do much anyway, so I had this idea that we should just ride the drunk bus around. For some inexplicable reason I grabbed this stuffed animal monkey that a girlfriend had given me and we rode around the bus. Before one loop around campus was over I had been approached by a half dozen girls wanting to talk about my monkey and suddenly I had an idea.
The next weekend I went back on the bus. I was by myself this time but I had the monkey and a camera. If anyone talked to me about the monkey I would take their photo with it. I spent a few hours Friday and Saturday taking photos and on Sunday I dropped the film off to get developed. On Monday I picked up the film and started working on a website. A few days later “The Loop Monkey” was born.
Almost instantly the site became a hit. Hundreds of people were visiting the site every day to look for their photos and the photos of their friends. The school newspaper even did a front page story on me. I was getting stopped five times a day by people wanting to talk to me. The problem was that I hated that. I quickly realized I was not cut out for being famous, even on that micro level. I would have someone try and talk to me at 8am and I would kinda blow them off and by the time I got home from class they would have written some post about how awful I was on my message board. The head of the bus company found out about me and had the bus drivers kick me off after one lap around campus. It became a whole thing. I decided to quit and a few months after it started the Loop Monkey was no more.
I wanted to drop out of school but my parents convinced me to give it one more year. The problem was that by the time they convinced me to go back all the dorms were filled up. I got stuck in temporary housing in a study hall with seven other roommates. I had just broken up with my first serious girlfriend (she cheated on me with my first girlfriend and a random dude the day before I left for college!) and I was depressed as hell. My old roommate and his friends moved off campus together so I spent a lot of time in my room.
I started all these dumb projects to keep myself entertained. I was doing photography still and I was making really terrible electronic music with early EDM programs like ACID and Fruity Loops. I didn’t even like electronic music but it was fun to do. I had some terrible site on Mp3.com. I started making these really absurd videos with my roomates where we would lip sync to 80’s pop songs and record these mini music videos using the super early webcam I owned. I started making prank listings on eBay just to entertain myself and my friends.
When I say friends I am of course talking about my friends back home, but I was also talking about my new online friends. There was a scene of people popping up making these websites about their lives. Blog wasn’t a word back then and LiveJournal wasn’t really popular yet. It was mostly just nerds in their parents basement making these sites that were a collection of everything they thought was cool on the internet and nonsense about their lives. The sites were called Everything/Nothing because they were about everything and nothing at all. E/N was also used to talk shit about the sites saying they meant everything to the author but nothing to everyone else.
At some point I got sick of having to email my photos and videos to people and decided I needed to start my own E/N site. YouTube didn’t exist back then and there weren’t many options for sharing photos with people. I wanted to put all my dumb projects in one place so that everyone could see them. I didn’t want to use Geocities or Tripod or any of the other hosting sites back then because I wanted to host all my own content. Fortunately I had friends in the E/N scene running their own servers and I got some space on a friend’s server and bought my first domain name. I bought drivenbyboredom.com because this was going to be central home for all the projects that I created when I was trying not to lose my mind from boredom.
Building the site took months. I did a lot of the HTML by hand but I also used a program called Microsoft Front page. Everyone at Penn State got a bunch of the Microsoft Office type products and Front Page was the web design program. I wasn’t great at it, but I built a separate page for all of my projects. I built a webcam portal into the main page that would refresh every 30 seconds with a new photo if I was online. I built a journal into the site so I could tell people when there would be new updates to the different sections. And most importantly I built a links page.
These days there’s way too much shit on the internet, but back then finding quality content was hard and the way you would do it was by going to a site like mine to find out about other cool sites. I went on mIRC and asked all the webmasters I knew if they would link me and I got a couple girls I knew to pose topless with popular websites written on their skin. I knew how to get people naked and topless fan signs were a prized internet currency back then. By the time Driven By Boredom was ready to launch I had a dozen sites ready to tell everyone about me.
On March 1st, 2001, Driven By Boredom launched. Within a few weeks I had a pretty solid following of people who read my site every day. I even had a few things go viral… well at least viral for 2001. When the MIR Space Station crashed I pretended to sell part of it it on eBay. A bunch of news outlets covered it (I even found an article from back then!) and my site started to get more and more popular. I became a semi regular columnist for a popular website I am not going to name because I don’t want you to find it, but whenever a new article would go up traffic would pour in. For a while I was averaging about 2500 people a day visiting my site which would probably be a few hundred thousand today and I was getting emails from fans around the world daily. I even had a fan build me a way better web design. Everything was pretty amazing until it wasn’t.
At the height of my site’s popularity, the person who was hosting my site took his server down and just disappeared. I had lost everything. I had to build my site from scratch and start all over again. Thankfully I had some help (Thanks Dogbomb!) and a few months later the site was back online. Unfortunately a lot of my readers never came back and things became a lot less fun. I had also dropped out of Penn State and was living with my parents in DC again and was just totally miserable, but in September 2001 I got my first digital camera (the Pentagon on fire in 9/11 were some of the first digital photos I ever took.) And in January 2002 I moved to Richmond, VA and went to a proper photography program at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Shit got way better in my life when I moved to Richmond. I knew a ton of people who lived there and got actively involved in the punk scene there. I started booking shows and photographing bands and in 2003 I met a two man pop band called the Gaskets. I fell in love with them and offered to manage them. I started booking their shows and doing tours and as they became more popular my photography was being published all over the place because I was doing all their press photography. The Gaskets became my full time thing and Driven By Boredom slowly became all about the Gaskets. I stopped updating it except for when we had a new tour or a new album or a big show to promote. It stopped being Driven By Boredom. By 2005 it had stopped all together.
In 2006 I moved NYC to continuing managing the Gaskets. I turned down a good job in Richmond and was working as a busboy in a hotel just so I could follow that dream. Unfortunately the band wasn’t on board. One member of the two man band ended up staying in Richmond and the other decided he should focus on his graphic design career if his bandmate wasn’t going to take things seriously. The band was playing less and less shows and in the middle of recording their third album they broke up.
Meanwhile I was brand new to NYC and working a soul crushing job so god damn it if I wasn’t going to take advantage of the city. I had to be at work before 6am so I would go to dance parties until 4am and then just go home, shower and go to work. All I wanted to do to was flirt with girls and meet new people. I always had a camera on me, because I always have a camera on me, and people started asking me where they could see the photos. Sites like Cobrasnake and Last Nights Party had just become popular and suddenly being a party photographer was a job. I didn’t really have any intention of doing that, but I did have a website just sitting there…
With the help of a few friends (Thanks Thadd & Adam!) we relaunched Driven By Boredom and the photoblog version of the site that you are looking at right now was born. A few months later the site was one of the top five party blogs on the planet and I am willing to fight any mid 2000s party photographer who wants to say otherwise.
As you may have noticed this site hasn’t really been updated since 2007 because I haven’t been able to trick anyone to do it for free and I know even less HTML than I did in 2001. And yeah, I got old and there aren’t as many party photos as their used to be, but hey, my talent for getting girls naked that launched this site in 2001 is still keeping the lights on and 17 years after it started Driven By Boredom is still here.
Shit, we will be legal next year. Remind me to throw us a party.