It’s registration week for first-years here in Glasgow, and amidst all the ordinary hustle and bustle of academic September, I’m serving s an Adviser of Studies for the College of Arts, so I’m hosting a torrent of eager beginning students (at least one of whom claims to have read my blog — Hallo, Peter!) and helping them select their courses for the year. That leaves less time for finishing the essays I was working on, preparing the courses I’ll be teaching, and blogging.
So as to catch up from tabs I left open intending to blog about, though, here’s an item that Boing Boing posted the other day — John Entwistle playing the bass part of the Who’s ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’. On long drives, or even just sitting by the stereo in the dining room, I used to instruct Nate, Si, and Pippa to listen to Who tracks not just for Roger’s vocals or Pete’s notorious power chords and lyrices, but for the hair-raising rhythm section of Keith Moon and John Entwistle (‘Listen to that! Did you hear that? Let me play it again’). About Moon, all that has been said over the years still falls short of capturing just how remarkably he combined unconstrained energy and elegant finesse, furious propulsion and subtle delicacy. He alone would have made almost any band outstanding. When he and Entwistle collaborated at the drums and bass, though, the effect was all the more breath-taking, as Entwistle played a more fluent, more melodic bass than most players’ lead guitar lines — all very much in the background, rarely moving in front of Townshend’s raucous guitar and lightning synthesiser parts. I suppose Entwistle’s ear for brass inflected his bass playing, but when one pays attention to the work that he and Moon together contribute to the Who’s best work, it’s hard to resist the conclusion that (brilliant as Townshend may be, and outstanding a vocalist as Daltrey was) the front men wouldn’t have soared nearly as high without the tremendous work of John Entwistle and Keith Moon.
Second, Dean Allen is a mensch. A long time ago, way before Kickstarter, Dean got fed up with his hosting provder, and resolved to start a web hosting service oriented in the first instance to bloggers. He called it Textdrive, and it would include the availability of Textile and Textpattern, his own blogging/formatting systems, and it would be reliable and attentive to users’ needs. He didn’t have the cash to start such a thing, so he invited supporters to pool their money and start him in the business, in exchange for which his service would offer a lifetime of web hosting.The VC 200, as he called them, would fund his start-up, and he would reward them not with fat checks or investment shares, but with exactly what he himself wanted from a web host: service.
He succeeded, to the extent that after a while he could sell his company to a bigger company (as one does), and the VC 200 were brought along as customers of Joyent. We were treated pretty well, though it was certainly different from being Dean’s original backers. It felt more as though we were legacy customers, just like any others, though with a more onerous contract. Eventually, a couple of weeks ago, Joyent sent out the message that ‘lifetime’ means ‘until we decide it’s too much bother’, and informed the VC 200 that we were being end-of-lifed (in exchange for one year of cloud-based web services, woo-woo!). Allen’s original supporters gnashed their teeth; Trevor started a Facebook page for the spurned VC 200; Bad Publicity ensued.
Then Dean Allen strode out from the wings, assuring all that he would back up his word and keep the VC 200 alive on a rejuvenated Textdrive. This is a person, this is not a company, but he’s a man of his word, and he resolved to take on the burden of supporting those who had helped him get his own venture off the ground. No one wanted something for nothing — they just wanted the promised share in the benefits that accrued to Textdrive, and then Joyent, as a result of their initial investment. Dean stepped up to do the right thing, and as a once and future member of the VC 200, I tip my hat to Dean, and wish him all the best.