Exactly 4,200 days ago, I began Cruel Site of the Day, a demented parody of Cool Site of the Day and other award sites. I had just left an interactive TV startup in Denver that went broke the day our product launched and was starting my own web development company in Pekin, Illinois, a town outside of Peoria where the air smells like corn, marigolds and hopelessness.
As Wall Street was making overnight dot-com millionaires out of a bunch of insufferably precocious twentysomethings like Marc Andreesen, I was a new parent struggling to become a ten-thousandaire. Peoria has its charms, like the Giant Bikini Woman, the gondola sandwich and the first mass production of penicillin. But Illinois is Fargo-the-movie cold, and as it turned out, the Rust Belt wasn't the best place to become an Internet mogul.
So on April 1, 1996, it was easy to channel my resentment into a site that mocked the chirpy optimism of people like Glenn Davis, the creator of Cool Site of the Day, who was constantly in the press saying things like this:
I view the Web as I view life, with the sense of wonder of the little boy that I carry inside of me. When he says, 'that's cool,' I listen.
Somebody needed to make the case for the other side:
The World Wide Web is a great thing, putting a wealth of sports information, entertainment trivia and explicit pornography at your fingertips. ... However, there's something wrong with a medium that loves itself as much as the Web does. We're being turned into a planet of Steven Seagals. As an antidote to all of this unhealthy positive energy, Cruel Site of the Day presents a daily link to the world of the perturbed, peeved, pensive and postal. It's brought to you by Rogers Cadenhead, a web developer who began examining the issue of self-love in his early teens.
Today, thousands of people bottomfeed the web to amuse, anger and appall an audience, led by Fark and Something Awful. Even Glenn Davis was lured to the dark side. After Cool Site of the Day was taken away from Davis and his second venture, the web development community Project Cool, was bought and imploded by JupiterMedia, Davis told the New York Times in 2002 that he had quit using the web entirely and had "lost our sense of wonder."
You can probably see where this is going. I'm announcing my retirement from the dark humor and wacky Internet link business. Cruel.Com will be adopting a new format on Nov. 1 that's not powered by bile and can be visited without peril to your immortal soul. The site has grown into a 3,750-member community of users who have posted thousands of links and comments, and I'd like to see that continue under a new web publisher if a deal can be worked out. I even have an unused domain that's well-suited to the purpose: ridicule.net.
But for me, I'm making my last cruel site the one that convinced me the project was worth doing, a few weeks after the launch when traffic was non-existent. The David Spade Escapade, archived on my server with the permission of the author, explains why Spade will never be welcome in the state of Montana.
I have been a fan of Cruel Site of the Day for years; it has been bookmarked on my computer for a long time.
For all this time I had no idea there was a Pekin connection.
I grew up in Marquette Heights, near North Pekin. I graduated from Pekin High in 1969 (go Chinks!) I lived in the beautiful Peoria area until I turned 26 and moved to Florida.
I don't remember Avantis, but I do remember a killer pizza joint on the North side called Agatucci's. Ever had any Davis Brothers? (East Peoria- it sucks)
Anyway, I just wanted to say 'Hi" and congratulate you on your site.
The next time I read about Colombian boys fucking their burros or some such thing I will think fondly of home.
Best Wishes on your next 4200 days.
This was the only bright spot in my work day at a soulless .com. I've even submitted the site of the day on occasion - such pride. RIP
My wife is a Chink too, Marc. I fattened up for winter hibernation on those sandwiches at La Gondola. We used to have relatives in Illinois bring us gondola bread as a condition of visiting us.
ugh I hate it!
thanks for your dedication to the sight roger! i have been a faithful follower and valuable contributor for years and look forward to many more.
Sometime in early 2000, you selected a site I put up on the free server space provided by my AOL account as Cruel Site of Day. I had scanned in drawings from my 12th grade Civics class featuring pumpkin-headed Scarecrow men filling the roles of iconic American scenes: A Scarecrow Oil Man bribing a Scarecrow Congressman, a Scarecrow Lee Harvey Oswald getting shot by a Scarecrow Jack Ruby, a Scarecrow Norman Rockwell painting himself, etc.
I printed out a screen capture and the resulting emails I received and took them into class. Later, I did manage to graduate "under advisement".
All right then. Nice knowing ya.
Thanks for all the yuks over the years. I'll go somewhere where they're still nasty and mean to people.
I'm thinking of starting a site to monitor paranoids. Anyone up for it?
I've read Cruel.com since '97. Back then I was shirking work and stealing company time to read the 1-a-day nuggets for derision.
I still miss that style, thinking that the worst things should be savored a little bit at a time. I'll be curious to see what ridicule.net becomes, my vote? 1-a-day of the best of the worst, again.
Thanks for all the effort that's gone into entertaining me at my laziest.
Can't say I didn't see this coming. Sorry to see it go but then I have to agree that CSOTD jumped the shark a while back. Best of luck to you in your future exploits Rogers!
I'm thinking of starting a site to monitor paranoids.
And prove they were right all along?
Aw, man! The unkindest cut!
I hope this site continues in some form. I've loved it for many years.
Thanks so much to you and to all the contributors, and thanks for posting my submissions a few times.
I'm still not sure you ever posted this: www.casketfurniture.com
I can only say that I sincerely hope that I, in some small way, made your life a tidbit more enjoyable during my tenure as Cruel boy wonder, short though it may have been. May you go on to create something new and exciting that has no community, so that you can finally be rid of all your sick, retarded Cruel children forever.
Love and kisses,
New York Jew
89th & Amsterdam
Is it about not wanting to horrify the children, Rogers? I've always been too cowardly to start a morally reprehensible can't-look-away site for fear a family member would find out, but I have to respect Rogers for letting his freak flag fly with Eagle Claw pride. Protect the First Amendment by making sure creepiness is available to all!
I've come across a number of cruel.com knockoffs in the last three or four years, don't those people owe you a cheeseburger or something?
The image I sent you pretty much sums it up as best as possible...
Thanks for providing me a place to frolick in adultery, announce my divorce, embarass myself, degrade others, learn internet stalking skills, recreate myself whenever the urge struck, meet a few random people that were actually enjoyable to have beers with, and cost me at least a job or two.
Thanks for the mammories...and the autographed book.
My first sucessful CSOTD submission was "My Beef With Mad Cows".
Can't blame you for moving on. You've done well. 11 years is at least 110 in internet years after all.
I had a great time at Cruel over the years, first under the name GetReal and then as fnord when it became necessary to reregister after a board relaunch. I've lost count of how many of my submissions were chosen for CSOTD. Because of all the drama and outrage I was responsible for, you will remember me long after you've forgotten most of the other posters. Here's hoping your future endeavors turn out well. By now you're aware of where your illegitimate ginger stepchildren are starting to gather; stop in and say hello.
Congrats!!! I've gotten a kick out of the CSOTD since 1997... I've made an ass out of myself more than once here and I even met Cherry for a very memorable roadtrip through the Bighorn mountains and Yellowstone National Park. I get in touch with her from time to time now. You're a liberal SOB which doesn't work that well with my Libertarian stance on things, but thanks for the fun anyhow asshole...
Hi! I'm gonna be so lonely without my online home! I will proudly wear "cruel.com" scrawled in Sharpie on my head for eternity.
Is it about not wanting to horrify the children, Rogers? I've always been too cowardly to start a morally reprehensible can't-look-away site for fear a family member would find out, but I have to respect Rogers for letting his freak flag fly with Eagle Claw pride.
I didn't know I was letting my freak flag fly. Cruel.Com was a tossed-off parody that got out of hand.
Moral terpitude's an uneasy fit for a lapsed holiday Catholic with guilt issues, but I think it is a genetic certainty that my kids will grow up to have a dark sense of humor. I was raised on Monty Python and Letterman. They're addicted to The Simpsons, Futurama and YouTube gags.
Holy crap! At the time this site was created I believe I was still working at a .com startup in Chicago. However, I moved back to Pekin not long after, returning to be a part of the last profitable year at the other Web firm I helped establish -- Cyberdesic. A self-promoting mental defective from Tremont ruined that enterprise, though it is a point of pride I was his first target when the office politics hit the fan.
I've been a Cruel Site of the Day reader from the very beginning, and I never imagined its founder was breathing the same distillery fumes that I was. In any case, congratulations on and thanks for the establishment of this online institution. Countless laughs have come to me through this project, and I never would have guessed it was spawned so close to my own doorstep.
Sorry to see you go. True, we can be mean a fuck to oneanother, but mouthing off at you was *special".
"I was raised on Monty Python and Letterman. They're addicted to The Simpsons, Futurama and YouTube gags."
I'll be dipped in shit. I had no idea you were so young. I was raised on Ernie Kovacs, Mad Magazine, Smothers Brothers, and Laugh In.
Holy bat guano Sigmoid. Another fart as old as me.
Great entertainment Rogers. Other than siphoning money out of your pocket I suspect Cruel had some redeeming returns to you. If nothing more than the cast of characters that slithered through the 'tubes'.
You knew I was just screwing with you, right?
My favorite site gone! RIP. Now what?
Been going to cruel forever.
It's like a favourite and much loved pet has just been run over.
All the best in the future endeavours, and a thousand thanks for the laughs over the years.
Rogers, say it ain't so. There's gotta be a way.
If there isn't, it was fun while it lasted. Especially that part about Ged. And Chaiyah. And a few others. We were an unruly bunch, weren't we?
Save the registrations somehow, so that there's a chance of a Cruel reunion page or something, without impostors.
Sofie, wot name are you using over to Drudge?
High Street was set up by Cruel.Com members and has become the site's brother by another mother.
Cruel wasn't so great. But then, neither am I. All these years and I'm *still* not a bass player for a lesbian punk rock band.
Rcade, you gave me a place to hide when the Real World got a little too scary. And you were a hell of a lot cheaper than a shrink. Thanks.
Well, it is 6 November and Cruel.com is still redirecting to Drudge Retort. Or is that the "new format"?
The domain's redirecting to Drudge.Com until I have something else launched there. In the meantime, people who miss the old site should visit High Street, the dark humored bad taste community established by Cruel.Com's regulars.
Too bad. Thanks to Cruel.com I discovered Childfree Abby.
You featured us on Cruel Site of the Day as one of your weiners and we were always honored. We'd been snubbed by Cool Site of the Day and you greeted us with open arms.
You helped to get Bluelips noticed. We are proudly "one stop shopping for morbid minds", but what many people didn't know was that the website was started by a woman with advanced breast cancer who wanted to laugh at death.
Thank you for your support of us over the years. We loved that you introduced us as the Grim Shopper.
Wow, here I thought my own DNS or Vista was messed up when I couldn't find cruel.com any more.
CSotD brought me a lot of fun over the years, but do understand about it being time to move on.
You are still missed out in the www
Cruel will live FOREVER. Like rock & roll.
You are a genius and I seriously doubt you will be able to stay away from the slimy under-the-dumpster-by-the-back-fence area of the Internet...I will keep an eye out.