THE RISE AND FALL OF LULBOX

KeycardI was handed a keycard and a number to a room. I stood there in the lobby asking if they had wi-fi … they did, but it’d cost me as each day passed. There was no way I was going to go an entire week and not get online – that’s unheard of. “Yeah, I’ll take a day, please“, I said to the motel operator. Holding my belongings in trash bags, I reached for a small piece of paper with a code on it. I left the lobby and began walking towards my room. I slid the card, opened the door and placed my bags on the floor. “And here we are…“, I said to myself as I closed the door. I noticed the bed and how fucked up it looked, how the headboard had “TRINA’S A LYING BITCH” etched in it, the cigarette burns in the comforter and pillow cases. This was going to be a long week.

At least you’re not on the street“, a friend of mine tells me on the phone. See, I never liked being alone for too long, so, naturally I had to hear a familiar voice, even though I had only been in this room for less than an hour. By the way, this room is on the first floor of Motel 6. A friend of mine paid for it after he decided he didn’t want anyone living with him anymore. Either way, I was homeless. I suppose that was the least he could do, and like my other friend mentioned, at least I wasn’t on the street. This shitty motel room would be my new home for the next six days. This place looked like a crack house. The walls were stained from cigarettes, and there was this annoying drip-drip-drip from a leaky faucet. The television was bolted down and the remote control was tethered to a chain like a cheap, ballpoint pen. I took a deep breath, exhaled and whispered, “OK…at least I’m not on the street“.

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While not the actual room I was in, the photo above represents how I viewed the room.

Opening the case to an outdated, oversized laptop, I checked around for outlets. “This place looks like a fucking crime scene“, I thought. I then sat there at a small table waiting for the computer to start. After a few minutes, I immediately logged into Kageshi. I was a new user, having been on the site a mere two months or less. Oh, and, before we go any further, I should mention the year is 2013 and it’s June or July. I’m sure if I hadn’t tried suppressing the memory of being in that situation, I would easily be able to recall the exact date. Kageshi, at that time, didn’t have too many rooms and only a few of them had more than twenty people logged in at once. I went to the one room I had been going to since I signed up: Shitty Chat. Shitty Chat or – SC, as I referred to it, was just that: a shitty chat. This fucking chat room was so generic and cringe-worthy in looks, yet, no one seemed to mind. I was a ‘noob’ to the regulars … I didn’t know anyone and mostly said common phrases you’d see on memes somewhere around 4chan. To be quite honest, I didn’t know any other way to get people to notice me in there. I wasn’t a chat room kind of person – I wasn’t schooled in the ethics of communicating synchronously within the confines of a chat room, I was just another random user on the site. I remember talking to some of the admins and introducing myself. Chances are I mentioned how I was a singer/songwriter. Yeah, I guess I should throw that in here, seeing how I would mic-up and play originals to the room until they told me to fuck off.

That night, I had finished playing a few songs and then left my mic on. This tiny little microphone – the kind that news anchors clip to their shirts, was tied around the neck of a bottle of Captain Morgan … I started drinking a few months ago; something I swore I would never do. I wanted to quit smoking cigarettes and here I was in the beginning stages of a new addiction. Knowing my microphone was on, I asked if anyone could hear me. I didn’t get a single reply. And then I see a PM pop up on my screen. The sender was someone using a guest name. He/She started sending me random bullshit telling me to “GTFO“, “Kill yourself“, “You sound like a faggot“, etc. I then typed in the room, something like, “You guys gotta hear the shit that this fuck sent to me in a PM“, and after a few minutes I began to read that anonymous user’s PM to the room. Within a minute or two, one of the admins told the room to unmute me. I guess they were getting a kick out of hearing how much of a fucked up PM I was getting and before I knew it, more than half of the room was sending messages and I read them all as if I was reading them from a teleprompter. The more I read them, the more they sent – one of the best nights of my life. After an hour and a few shots of spiced rum, I decided to call it a night and said I was going to sleep.

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The beginning of lulbox. The bottom right cam spot in Shitty Chat. Shown, is my view of the motel’s swimming pool at night. I kept the curtain open the entire time I was there and people would stare into the room as they walked by. Location: Kentucky

I woke up in this massive house and noticed my cat sleeping on the window sill. The sun was beaming through the thin, flowing, white curtains and my eyes followed a shimmering reflection that danced playfully on the wall in front of me. Reaching into the refrigerator, I removed a can of Sun Drop soda and chugged it down. I then noticed a moving truck driving passed the house and wondered if someone was coming or going. Everyone wants change at some point, whether it be in a cup, or in a life choice, and I, however, was fixated on this fucking truck. Needing to check the mail, I headed for the front door, yet, when I got there, I couldn’t open it. I mean; I tried to, but my hand would disappear into thin air showing me what I can only describe as an opacity level  set to negative thirty-three on my hand and the doorknob at one hundred percent. “When did I become a ghost?“, I thought. I was dumbfounded by all of this … it felt like I was in a dream.

Everything’s so blurry…

If you’ve ever been woken by a muffled voice saying “Housekeeping!“, then you know exactly what I went through right before I sprang out of bed and nearly twisted my ankle trying to answer the door. As annoyed as I was by this, I couldn’t help but feel grateful for those towels that smelled like bleach, those packets of shampoo and a few small bars of soap, for those items were the key to me being ripped from the nightmare I was having. A nightmare while asleep and now a nightmare while awake. You take your pick.

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“Dream Catcher on fire” Credit: Dark TwizTid

This room is nothing more than a tomb and I am merely another guest.

Opening the lid to my laptop, I began to wonder what my next move would be. See, when you’re homeless, you always have to have a Plan B. Having a Plan B, meant you had a place lined up to live once you’ve worn out your welcome and so forth. Nothing is permanent: everything, and I mean everything, is temporary. I’ve lived in so many different places that I’ve lost count. And each place has its own story. Oh, the things I could tell you, such as the time I was in Florida and I would walk around from sunrise ’til sunset, looking for a way to make some quick cash. I didn’t want to resort to doing anything illegal, I just wanted to be able to eat something at the end of each day. Sometimes I would fantasize about robbing someone once it got dark. People do it all of the time, right? I would watch people walking around various shopping centers and gas stations wondering how much money they had on them. I figured if I could get a good twenty or thirty bucks then I didn’t have to walk around the following day and I could get a day of rest. A day of rest. A day – of rest. Arrest. Jail. Oh, who was I kidding? I didn’t want to be locked up for doing something so fucking stupid anyway. I then began bringing my guitar with me, hoping maybe someone would throw some change in my case if I was lucky. A few days of doing that, I would eventually be able to buy a few cheeseburgers and some smokes. Reader, there is nothing worse than walking seven miles in the rain with a guitar case and a backpack full of crushed cheeseburgers.

While we’re on this subject, I’d like to take you with me on another memory. I was a mile from where I was living, walking towards the busier areas of the town I was in, and my legs felt like they were going to snap underneath me. I guess each day prior to this one had simply taken its toll on me. I had blisters the size of silver dollars. Each step I took was pure murder and I felt like I was going to collapse. The sun was out, I was drenched in sweat, and so hungry I felt like I was going to get sick. Have you ever been that hungry? You get this feeling like you’re going to puke. I was nauseous, weak, and undetermined. If only I had some money and a vehicle, I could get a steady job somewhere. I needed new clothes … I was wearing the same thing every day. In fact, I needed a red truck like the one that just passed me. I needed.

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You can walk with your eyes closed if you know the path well enough.

Looking up, I see that same red truck turning around and heading towards me. The driver slows down and says, “Need a ride?” … Yes, yes. Please!“, I called out. “Toss your stuff in the back and jump in up front!“, he yells out. After placing my guitar and backpack in the bed of his pickup, I opened the passenger door and hopped right in. Now, some would think this is a bad idea on both of our ends, but I’m sure he could see the desperation in my eyes and to be honest, it was hard imagining this plump, white-bearded, old man in a red truck being a serial killer. I will never forget what he said to me next: “I was compelled by the Holy Spirit to turn around and pick you up“. At this point, I noticed a cross dangling from his rearview mirror along with a name tag with his photo on it. “I don’t know what to say … I – I was so tired and I felt so sick and – and here you are. You don’t know how much this means to me“. He reached his hand out and said his name was Kerry. I shook his hand and almost passed out right there in the seat. Kerry said in a comforting manner, “It’s OK, relax and rest for a minute. I’ll take you to get something for lunch“, as I felt myself sinking into the seat with absolute peace and an overwhelming sense of calm.

“There’s a place that’s not too busy!

After going through the drive-thru of Taco Bell, Kerry parked his truck and handed me the bag. He said he wasn’t eating and it was just for me. “I just want to hear your story, that’s all. Take your time, eat a little, but I really want to hear your story“, he said. My story? It was at that moment that I began to wonder if Kerry had done this often – like, maybe he’s one of the last few people on this planet that truly cared about others. Wiping my mouth with a napkin covered in mild sauce, I revealed how I had been living with some friends in an old, single-wide trailer with no electricity, running water or food. I explained how I was chasing a dream with my guitar and I had been spending my days busking (playing for tips) in front of stores for a few dollars. Florida’s weather is so unpredictable and I admitted how awful it is to walk mile after mile in soaking wet sneakers. It was at that moment, Kerry looked at me and said, “This may sound crazy, but, I think I may have seen you performing at an open mic a few years ago“, and without missing a beat, “YES!, That IS you!, You’re the guy with that voice! My wife is never going to believe this.” I wasn’t sure if I was the performer he had seen, but it was highly possible since I had been known to frequent open mic venues years ago.

Sometimes a song can change someone’s life.

You were on stage with a guitar covered in stickers, and you had this vibrato thing going on with your voice. A woman that I had been dating after my wife passed away was commenting on your singing. She had her head on my shoulder saying she could listen to you for hours and joked that we should hire you for our wedding!“, Kerry belted out. “Mike … she proposed to me right then and there! SHE asked ME to marry HER during a song you were playing. I never thought I’d cry like that in a public place“, he confessed. Kerry then put his hand on my shoulder and looked at me in a way that a father would look at his son, “You’ve been mentioned every time we tell others about that night and – NOW you’re sitting in my truck … she is NEVER going to believe this“.

I was speechless. I think anyone would’ve been at that point. Seeing his eyes glaze over as if he were about to burst into tears at any moment, I myself, also felt a little choked up and overwhelmed at what was being said to me. “I’m honored to be a part of your lives through the gift of music“, I said. Kerry then wrote his phone number and email address on one of my unused napkins and told me to please keep in touch as he was on a lunch break and needed to get back to his job. I wish he would’ve eaten something. He said he decided not to, so he could use that money to add to the rest he was about to give me. Kerry handed me three hundred and twenty dollars and then asked if he could say a prayer for me. In shock, I thanked him and obliged to his prayer.

Now, I know you’re supposed to keep your eyes closed, but I couldn’t help but opening my left eye just a little in order to take a peek at this man who had his head bowed. I was looking at an Angel – someone who just saved me from having to walk for hours on end for a while. Yes, I had to walk home from where we were, but where we were was nowhere as far as where I would’ve eventually walked to try to make a few dollars in tips for playing music. This guy gave me the hope I needed to get back to where I was and to get the fuck away from that trailer I was living in. Two weeks later I talked to a friend from back home in Kentucky and he offered to pay for a bus ticket for me to come back out to the midwest and also offered me a room at his house. I was in the beginning stages of making my next move, thanks to a miracle.

Kerry changed my life when he picked me up. Kerry was a jolly, white-bearded man in a red truck. A caring, white-bearded man in a red … slei- … truck.

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I’m standing in the lobby…

The wi-fi’s not too bad around here“, I said to the desk clerk. “Well … if you’re on the other side of the building it’s pretty bad. A lot of people complain but there’s nothing I can do about it“. While she was jotting down another access code, I noticed she had been writing what appeared to be a diary, although I quickly looked away. After placing a few dollars on the counter, I started thinking about how, in my room, were garbage bags full of clothes and the last remaining mementos of mine from childhood until now. One of the bags had some old records, a Rubik’s Cube, a few Nintendo cartridges, and some old notebooks filled with lyrics. I carried these things everywhere I went – from someone’s basement to a spot in the woods … from someone’s attic to a bench in the park. I was that guy … I was that guy that you’d see walking down the road with his belongings in trash bags trying to hold on to what little he had left. Hi, reader – my name is Michael – some people call me Mike. Snapping out of thought, I said, “Thanks for everything! I’ll let you know if I have any problems. See ya’ tomorrow!” I then opened the door of the lobby and started walking towards my room.

Now, being alone in a motel room for a week may not seem that bad at first. There’s something about privacy that I really enjoy, and even though I was in this small, sketchy, room, I sort of liked not having to deal with anyone or anything. However, privacy comes with a price tag and I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford to stay in this place even if it was just a shitty motel room in Kentucky. My laptop had finally started up, the wi-fi signal was decent, and I had nothing else to do other than kill time.

I should see if those fucks want to do another round of PM reading. That shit was pretty dope“, I thought. “I need to come up with a name for it and present the whole thing like a radio show“. Before I even went into SC, I thought about how the cam slots are like little, random, boxes of life as there’s always something different going on. Some people would stream a game they were playing, some would have a movie on their cam, some sat there and didn’t really talk or anything, and then there was me. I was the one in that room the night before getting messages like “This is fucking hilarious, dude. You should be on the radio“. I like making people laugh, but most of all I like making myself laugh. Trying to come up with a name, I sat there thinking; I wanted to come up with something that would represent the type of show I was going to do, and I also wanted to come up with a logo; something that would let people know exactly what to expect. All the ideas I came up with sounded fucking awful. A few minutes later, I decided to just give up on a name and head into the room.

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Experimenting with ideas on what to call the show.

Yo!, You doing that PM shit again tonight?“, a user asks in the main chat area. “Damn…” I thought. I then said something that would eventually change the way I interacted on Kageshi forever. In my reply, I said “Yep, gonna be in the bottom right bringing the luls again. It’s my lulbox“. That was it! I don’t know why I didn’t think about that a few minutes ago. “LULBOX“, I thought. I then opened Photoshop, set a canvas size of 420 x 420, painted the background black, changed the font to Impact, and then typed LULBOX in white.

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Looking at this basic logo, I felt it needed something else. I then turned the first three letters yellow and the last three letters a deep pink color. I sat back in the chair, lit up a cigarette and took a shot of rum, after staring at what would be the definitive logo for this show. When Shitty Chat’s usual crowd arrived, I got on cam using the lulbox logo and unmuted my mic.

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Less is more. A simple, yet powerful logo.

Without typing anything in the room, I said “Hey guys, I want to welcome you to a show called lulbox. Lulbox is a show where I’m going to read your PM’s just as you send them to me. Now, I don’t know if anyone’s listening, but if you are, feel free to send whatever you want me to read to the room“, and nothing happened … not a single message popped up. I felt stupid for wasting time trying to come up with a name and then a logo only to be dismissed by uninterested users. I would’ve been on Craigslist looking for an easy job to make some money, but no, I was sitting here trying to entertain a group of people who didn’t even bother to acknowledge my e-existence. OK, OK, hold the violins, because, not even one minute had passed and while looking at the screen, I easily had about twenty-five PM’s. Now, that’s a lot when you’re not used to getting even one. “I guess it’s on then“, I said. I then began to spew these messages out one-by-one until I’d read them all. This shit went on for almost four hours straight! For real, four hours of nonstop PM’s is intense, but I felt inclined to keep going since these people were feeding me with all kinds of material.

A wild neckbeard appears…

A user comes in – he’s a regular in the room. I won’t name any names so as to not expose this person, but, let’s call him King Neckbeard … or KN for short. KN, starts to spam the main chat area with shit like “Fuck myke. Mute him!”, and “Go do your stupid fucking show in another room”. I then said out loud on mic “This fat fucking neckbeard is pissed! Maybe I should just start my own room”, and of course KN was listening. The next thing he said I wish I had a screenshot of. He said “Yeah, faggot. Like anyone’s going to go sit in a room that you own just to listen to you talk and read stupid ass PM’s”.

[insert ell oh ell]

Within twenty minutes of creating and opening the lulbox room, I had fourteen users in there. I told them I would start the show again once we hit thirty users and only if we hit thirty users. I then stood up to use the bathroom and by the time I walked back, there were forty-seven users logged in. “Holy shit!”, I thought. They wanted to keep going and so did I … and that’s exactly what we did. This particular show would go down in lulbox history because I told the room, “Welcome to lulbox! This is the show where I read your private messages to the room without telling anyone who sent them in. That means anything you send me is 100% anonymous and confidential. Let’s talk about how this works. Let’s say there’s a guy in here named Tedd that wants to tell a guy in here named Todd that he’s been fucking his girlfriend for the last two weeks. Todd sends that message to me and I read it to the room. Guys, it’s going to get nasty in here. You can send as many PM’s as you’d like … seriously, bombard me with line after line. Oh, and don’t worry about anyone finding out who you are … I let the admins know if I get caught revealing anyone’s identity, they can site ban me permanently. Oh, and you guys are the ones that will make up the content for this show, otherwise, it’ll just be me sitting here babbling on about some random bullshit. Let’s see who’s listening! If you can hear my voice and you’re ready to get this shit going, press one.”

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The first message I had, said, “myke, I hope you die in a fiery car accident“. I sat there in disbelief – as I couldn’t figure out if this message was for the show, or if this mother fucker really wanted me to burn to death in a mother fucking car accident. Within seconds, another message pops up, “Kill yourself“, a third, “Tell the girl in the bottom left that she’s hot as fuck“, and before I knew it, my entire screen was covered in PM’s. Now, when I say my entire screen was covered, I mean it. I would find myself having to close these fucking things just to see the others that were buried, tucked-away, and stacked up on top of each other. An interesting note: about an hour into this shit, I had a message from a user saying he had been waiting for forty-five minutes to hear the one PM he sent in. I hope that puts everything in perspective, forty-five minutes … that’s a long fucking time to wait for someone to read something. [cough].

The room remained packed with close to fifty to sixty users logged in for hours after the show ended. I would utilize this time to go back in SC and unwind a little with a quieter crowd. Oh, and don’t think I would abandon the new room for these guys, I actually would post a link to the SC room and tell everyone to come in. The crazy thing is, and I promise I’m not making this up, almost everyone from the lulbox room would follow me into Shitty Chat. From that point on, I felt as if I was becoming an influential user to the community. What I mean is – you have your average user that logs in, hangs out in a room, chats a little and leaves, and then you have this new user that signs up and turns the entire website on its ass … but in a good way as I can recall many messages being sent where users were telling me they made an account because of how much they enjoyed the show.

OK, roll your eyes if you will, but being in the position that I was in was fucking cool as shit! Let’s keep piling diamonds: I had people wanting to help work for the show free of charge, girls hitting on me without even knowing what the hell I looked like, and some people even offering to donate to the show. It’s a good thing I never followed through with any of them, since any donations may have, at the time, been spent on liquor, Hardee’s, or another week in this fucking tomb. Look, the attention I got from being a guy sitting in a shitty motel room on a shitty laptop with a shitty microphone was un-fucking-real. I could go into any room on the site and be welcomed instantly, and room owners liked how I would mention their room during the show.

Believe it or not, there was a time when Kageshi was a very open community. None of this no guests, passwords, or people being guilty by association bullshit. Kageshi was a fun place to be and the site was peppered with an array of authentic users that made logging in worthwhile. Sometimes I wish I could go back to those days … things were simple in their own right. Oh, and on top of all of that, there was only one weed room on the site! Can you believe it? One fucking weed room!

Right now I’m guessing there’s most likely twenty or more marijuana-themed rooms on the site. Getting fucked up is our civil right, right? Question: Why the hell are we all scattered around in different rooms? Why are stoners so goddamned stubborn? Do stoners have a hierarchy that I’m missing? Is there a secret fucking pact scribbled on a fucking Post-it note that somehow didn’t make it to my desk? Do stoners in one room wonder what stoners in another room are doing? And why do stoners always feel the need to tell everyone when they’re about to smoke? It’s your fucking weed, shut the fuck up and light that shit already. Damn, son … I know a user that breaks down the entire smoking process in chat when he smokes, and it’s annoying as all fucking shit fucking shit.

If you don’t mind, I’d like to demonstrate:
Grinding
Rolling
Lighting
Cheers
Hell, he might as well add:
Coughing
Ashing
Passing
But no, he sticks with:
Cheers
Tokes
Heating
Prepping
Cheers
Dabs?

Fuck me swimming, some of these mother fuckers tell you when it’s 4:20 in every time zone! I imagine stoners must look at their clocks a lot.

A poem
Kageshi, Kageshi
The days have been grand
I wonder what lies ahead
Kageshi, Kageshi
Our lives in your hand and HOLYSHITTHATGUYISJACKINGOFFONCAMWHATTHEFUUUUUUUCK?.

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Kageshi mode, THANK YOU!

A familiar door

“I’m here to get another wi-fi code…” I said to the clerk and smiled. She was folding bed sheets at the counter so I suppose she was the do-it-all in this motel. On a small table near the front desk was a box of cookies and a coffee machine. Biting into that stale ass cookie, I glanced towards the room I was staying in. The music playing in the lobby was calming … I remember the sounds of a saxophone, a piano, and a drum kit being played with brushes. “You can stay in here and hang out with me if you’d like … I’m on the clock for the next five hours. Hell, I’d enjoy the company to tell you the truth“, says the woman behind the desk. Turning around and looking at her still folding bed sheets and pillowcases, I had this feeling that hit me like a fucking SUV falling from the sky; she was just as alone as I was.

There was something about the lobby. I felt more at home in that small office than anywhere I’d been for the last two years. I hated going back to my fucking room, and even though the invitation of hanging out seemed enticing, I decided to head back anyway … you know … to see what the fine folks of Kageshi were up to. Having a few hours to kill before I began another night of doing the show, I picked up my guitar, tuned it, and clicked a cam spot.

Serenading the Inanimate

It’s pretty cool playing for a bunch of people when they can’t see you. Performing online in a chat room has less stress than being on stage. Oh, and there aren’t any instrument cables to get caught up in, so that’s a plus. Over time, I would utilize words of encouragement sent from various users as inspiration to keep writing. Every now and then I would receive a few negative comments while learning that when it comes to dealing with people online; you simply must take the good with the bad.

YO!

Out of nowhere, I was hit with the realization that in just a few days, at eleven in the morning, I would have to leave. I didn’t know where I was going to go or what I was going to do. After putting my guitar away, I remember standing there and looking at the room from one side to the next in a sweeping motion. “I’m fucked”, I thought. Here I was inside this room that I despised, yet, in less than seventy-two hours I would be on the street. I started to panic. I wasn’t freaking out, I was just really fucking nervous and Captain Morgan wasn’t helping me out for shit.

Looking at an outdated, landline motel phone, I remembered the small list of phone numbers I had in one of my bags. Digging through my personal belongings, I became numb at the thought of everything that I owned that hadn’t been stolen, sold, or pawned, was here with me in this motel room. I was surprised that I was able to hang on to these things for as long as I had. Towards the bottom of one of the garbage bags was an old report card from when I was in grade school. I began to cry. I couldn’t believe I let myself get into this mess. I used to be such a different person and here I was on the verge of death, jail, or prison. Being homeless is not just begging for change in front of a store, or sleeping on a sidewalk, it was an all day event of trying to survive. So, if you ever find yourself unfortunate enough to be in that position, here’s a few things that may come in handy:

  • Never ask anyone for anything.
    If you’re authentic, people will see it in your eyes. You can’t fake being hungry.
  • Eat.
    Don’t buy anything other than food. Food is the gold of the homeless.
  • Stay alert.
    You’ll be taken advantage of and you have to keep your guard up at all costs.
  • Avoid confrontation.
    If the spot you’re about to sleep in, is soon occupied by others, don’t argue – just move to another location.
    There is no safety in numbers when it comes to being homeless.
  • Don’t get too comfortable.
    You want to make progress. Don’t give in to this lifestyle.
  • Stay away from junkies.
    Being homeless with an addiction is the absolute worst. You’ll find yourself trying to get money to get high, rather than buying something to fill your stomach until the next day.
  • Learn to accept walking as your only mode of transportation.
    You will be doing a lot of it.

Picking up the phone, I flattened out the list of numbers and dialed away. I ran into four voice mails, a disconnected number, and something that sounded like a fax machine. I was about to give up, and then the last number answered … an old friend of mine. I was so relieved to hear her voice. Rather than beat around the bush, I immediately went into the reason why I was calling, which was to find a couch or maybe even a garage floor to sleep on. I must have had an angel watching over me because she tells me that one of our mutual friends was looking for someone to house sit for her for two months. She called for me, and within a few minutes, she calls back telling me our friend said I could come there and stay while she was gone. I was in shock. I went from losing my shit to not even being able to think straight due to the fact that I would be OK … even if it was just for a couple of months.

See ya’ around…

Fast forward: It was my last night at the motel and I was just about head to the lobby to purchase one more code for their wi-fi, which btw, was advertised on the sign out front, as being free. I thought about the clerk; how welcoming she was and how part of me felt bad that I was leaving. I tuned my guitar and decided to take it to the lobby to play a song or two for her before her shift was over. Walking to the office, I felt both happy and sad. I guess I get attached to things and people, too easily. And right before I make it to the door, a pounding, unforgiving rain covered me and my guitar case. Entering the lobby, I tried shaking off the raindrops like a wet dog after a bath. No one was at the counter but I could hear someone walking around in the back. I stood there for a minute or two and thinking it’d be nice to try, I rang the bell that was placed on the counter top a few times.
20255_1A different woman approaches the counter – someone I hadn’t seen before. I ask if the regular clerk was around and was informed that she was killed in a head-on collision on her way to work. The handle of my wet guitar case slipped from my fingers and I felt as if I was going to collapse like a tree that had just been cut. With the thunder going on outside and the ringing going on in my head, I imagine one would be hard-pressed to distinguish the rain from the tears on my face. All those nights I sat awake, online, reading messages that were designed to demean and ridicule others – all those nights I could have shared with this stranger that was practically begging for a friend. She was an older woman, frail with white hair. She was the one that would supply the lobby table with snacks, drinks, and literature on God and Heaven … she – she was just as lost as I was. A robot performing the same routine day after day; another cog in the machine that is existence. Wiping the tears from my face, I decided to not purchase another wi-fi code … I just wanted to go to sleep.

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At ten-thirty in the morning, I was pulled from my sleep by the loudest ringer in the world. Those motel phones are little war machines. That shit was louder than a fucking train and I suppose just as annoying as a mosquito with an air horn. I picked up the receiver, placed it back down, and started packing my shit. I’m one of those people who always waits until the last minute to do anything. With five minutes to spare, I called my friend that I’d be house sitting for and told her I would meet her in the lobby of the motel, bags and all. She arrived twenty minutes later to me sitting there eating some stale ass cookies and reading a pamphlet about a new church.

As we pulled into her driveway, I felt a massive feeling of ease. Her home was a beautiful, two-story, Victorian-style house with a huge back yard surrounded by trees. Asking if it’d be OK to leave my stuff in the car, I walked around and saw a cherry tomato plant. My friend said she was going to grab a few drinks from inside and that I was welcome to taste-test the tomatoes. Biting into one, I started thinking about how grateful I was to be out of the situation I was in. I thought about the clerk, the room, and the rain that hit me the night before. I thought about the cookies on the table, the shitty wi-fi, lulbox, and of course … the lobby.

That night I was told that in the morning they (my friend and her boyfriend) would be gone and wouldn’t be back for two months. All I was instructed to do was to keep the house secure and water the plants. The kitchen was stocked, the internet bill was just paid a few days ago, and there was a bag of fresh greens in the drawer next to the oven. I didn’t bother unpacking anything that night other than my Rubik’s cube and that old report card. I slept on the most comfortable mattress I had ever slept on, and woke up long after they had left, according to the note that was waiting for me on the kitchen table along with an envelope containing six hundred dollars in cash,”in case you need anything”. I took a soda from the ‘fridge and called my mom. I tried to keep her updated as much as I could, but, the thing is … my mother never knew I was homeless, I never told her. I would lie and say I was OK and living with a friend. I never asked for anything. I didn’t want her to worry that her son was homeless – it’d break her heart. So, in this call, it was much like the others, me saying I’m doing fine, and I love her.

Hanging up, I could feel the warmth of the sun hitting my face. Standing there with my eyes closed, I knew I had to get my shit together and never end up in a situation like the motel ever again. I had to stop fucking around and do a complete change of everything and if it meant having to walk a few miles to and from some shitty job, then so be it. I would be stable for eight weeks; I needed to think about the very near future … just later on.

I walked upstairs to the room I would be staying in and unpacked my laptop. I started it up and logged in to Kageshi. As soon as I entered lulbox, I was bombarded with PM’s asking where I’d been and if I was OK. After a few reassuring replies, I announced that lulbox would be happening nightly and hoped to see everyone in the room later on that evening and closed the lid.

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Reader, slowly read the next paragraph or you’ll ruin the effect.

Right now you are watching me walk out of the bedroom and down the staircase. I am a shadow, and what you see is a black cloud descending towards the bottom step. You’re now watching me open the back door and walking towards the cherry tomato plant. You see a single cherry tomato floating upwards until it disappears. And now you see that same shadow split into a million pieces and waste into the tree tops.

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The sun will eventually fall and everything will eventually fall with it.

The lulbox room was the only room on Kageshi that housed all of the different users of the site under one roof. The room and the show would soon become the most talked about thing on the site, leading to someone coining the entire agenda: The most controversial room on Kageshi. A simple idea of a talk show generated traffic and new users at a rate that would impress the majority of critics and skeptics. Some people referred to it as a cult, some people said it was a way for me to have inside information* on every participating member, and some people even said it was a front to promote my music. And night after night, the show went on.

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*I applied to be an admin of the site and stated through the means of the show, I had learned quite a bit about each user, therefore I had my own set of intel to work with, meaning: I could easily diffuse certain problems based on already knowing what was going on between the users – something no one else on the site could make a claim of. For the rumor mill: I only officially applied for admin once. A second time was more of a “Hey, if you need anyone to…I’m here” kind of ordeal.

Through DDoS attacks, to death threats from angered users hearing me read messages about them, to an admin telling me that two new rules were added because of the show, lulbox climbed and climbed. Through endless nights of overindulging in alcohol, through girls wanting to talk to me only because I hosted the show, through real life friends turning their backs on me when I needed them the most, again, lulbox climbed and climbed.

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We’re awake…

Years later, I would denounce the entire project based on the fact that I could no longer be the one that was delivering these messages of hate and lies along with the disputes that gained notoriety through the means of my interpretation. I had created a monster and I wanted no part in it any longer. I couldn’t live with myself if I continued to fuel the fire between this person and that person. Fuck, I didn’t want to be known as someone who read messages for a show, or the guy that has everyone do dares with some random condiments … I wanted people to remember me as a singer/songwriter and nothing more. The show was genuinely hurting people, so I just stopped. I stopped doing it altogether.

 

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My guitar, before it was completely covered in stickers.

 

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Isn’t she lovely?

I’ve been through so much more in real life over the course of those years that it would take another week or longer to detail everything. If you’ve made it this far, then hopefully you now see me with new eyes. See, there are still people on Kageshi that hate me for some of the things that other people said about them, that I read on the show. Those people have made me out to be some awful dictator and they’ve branded me with lie upon lie. They’ve ridiculed me for a long time. I’ve had good friends turn on me, and I’ve had people run my name through the mud like you wouldn’t believe. So, believe this, I can honestly say that everyone that has ever held me down with false rumors has been paid back in karma. Every person that took advantage of me when I was homeless has been subjected to things much worse than being shit-talked online I fucking promise you this.

Now, at some point, you may see someone mention lulbox in a room you’re in. Maybe they’ll be talking shit about it or maybe they’ll be talking good about it, and just maybe, someone is going to ask you if lulbox will ever be back…

 

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“Well … we’re waiting.” Source: Caddyshack, 1980

…the answer is yes, one day. However, I will do my best to make it fun like it was in the beginning – before it turned into a hate-themed troll room. I want to relive those nights with you again. There was nothing better than seeing twelve cams with people laughing. Man, some of the best nights of my life happened while that show was going. And each user that entered the room made something so simple, seem so amazing. I don’t want people leaving at the end of the night feeling defeated, so when this comes back, we have to try to make it like it was when it first started. I believe we can and we will. So, listen up Code_Kid – King of the Dares, you have a few months to stretch that asshole out, and stock up on ketchup, Kool-Aid mix, and mustard.

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Just kidding.

No, seriously; fucking make sure the plunger is nearby.
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HONORABLE MENTIONS:

  • For a dare, a user set up a folding chair upside down and put a chair leg in his asshole. The user then falls backward, laughing, with a fucking chair leg in his ass.
  • I would flip a coin to see if a user would be kicked or not. One time I lied about it because that user was a fucking neckbread.
  • Quite a few users (possibly ten or more), made their own version of lulbox out of spite. Some of the names were: lulfox, cappybox, and lelbox. All of them failed – miserably. Trust me, doing a show like this is not as easy as you’d think it is.
  • LULBOX had a lot of co-hosts over the years. Most of them were on with me at the same time, although a handful of them did the show solo as I sat back and listened.
  • For a dare, a user wore a blindfold and spun around in a circle for three minutes. The first one to do this was a user named Gasdfg. From that point on, that particular dare was named: The Gas Challenge. Many users have done this dare during the show.
  • Code_Kid performed the most dares and is known as the King of the Dares, around the entire site. I would often see people talking about him in other rooms the next day.
  • A user named Ado was the first solo co-host of the show. I was too drunk and I couldn’t even see straight. I ended up handing it over and then tried to sleep it off.
  • LULBOX held a Spelling Bee and it was absolutely fucking hilarious.
  • A user named Jahmin stapled his nuts to a phone book with a staple gun. He then stood up, wiggled around for a while and then removed the staples.Allegedly, this incident is what lead to the infamous two new rules on Kageshi. #8: Users will not cause or encourage bodily harm to themselves or others, anywhere on kageshi.com (the site), and #9: Room owners will be held partially responsible for the behavior of their users.
  • Two couples met each other in lulbox and they are now married.
  • A user named TeamWeEe is the runner-up for King of the Dares. One of his dares was to open his mother’s bedroom door at 3 AM and wake her up by yelling, “I want black cock in my ass!“, ten times. He did.
  • LULBOX, in protest of the new rules, moved to tinychat. After a few weeks, I informed everyone that we were going back and I’d simply have to resort to having less-harmful dares on the show. This is where the ketchup and mustard dares came into play.
  • I tried to get the makers of Sun Drop to sponsor lulbox. I sent an email with some of the dares that were taking place, such as, the ones with people putting bottles and plungers in their ass, eating their own pubic hair between two slices of bread, and a guy masturbating with a sheet of notebook paper. They never wrote back and to this day I still don’t know why.
  • The Wu-Tang Snickers Bar Prank first happened on the show. Basically, I would call stores and ask them if they had the Wu-Tang Snickers Bars and then I would name all of the members of the group as slowly as I could. Some of the calls would last a very long time.
  • Mercury J. Farnsworth (spelled F-a-r-n-s-w-o-r-t-l in the calls) was a character of an old man that I would say was hanging out at the lulbox studio. The “studio”, I mentioned nightly,  was ‘located’ 20,000 ft. below the earth’s surface, and getting to it required me to ride in a hyper-elevator that always had powdered doughnut crumbs on the floor. In reality, I was in a bedroom somewhere sitting at a desk with a laptop.
  • In an attempt to remove any background noise, I would turn off the fan and even the central AC. Many nights I would end the show and have to walk outside to get away from the hot room I was in for more than four hours at a time.
  • LULBOX was DDoS’d both times we tried to have a 24-hour show.
  • The show has never started on time and sometimes didn’t until two hours after it was supposed to.
  • LULBOX had its share of intro music that would change over the years: Birdy Nam Nam – Goin’ In (Skrillex “Goin’ Down” Mix), Shinedown – Diamond Eyes, and The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme) by John Williams.
  • The PM’s that were sent to me occasionally contained very personal issues. Not once have I told a single person on or offline who the sender was.
  • The pact that I made with the admins, “If I ever reveal the identity of a user that sends a PM, you can site ban me”, never actually happened. I made it up in hopes of coercing people to participate in the show. Many users and even admins inquired about who sent what, and like I said before, not once did I tell anyone anything.
  • I once passed a car that was on fire and it made me think about how every day I’m told to die in a fiery car accident. Assholes.
  • I never liked Sun Drop as much as people thought I did. But since it was such a popular addition to the show, I drank way more than I ever intended to in real life. I had a friend that would buy Sun Drop for me by the case and I didn’t have the heart to tell him I was about to go batshit mad. I was once caught on cam with a can of Mountain Dew and a screenshot of it was passed around the site with someone calling me a ‘traitor’ and ‘a lie’.
  • I only participated in the show as an anonymous user once. I sent PM’s to whoever was co-hosting.
  • A user once sent me the entire Linux user manual over the course of about a hundred PM’s back-to-back. I didn’t realize what was going on until about halfway through because; alcohol.
  • LULBOX once had more mods than guests. I think we had about 65 people in the room at that time.
  • The only reason why I didn’t allow guest names to use an e-chair (An e-chair was the lulbox equivalent of a folding chair. The idea was hatched when I was thinking of an episode of The Jerry Springer Show and how some guests were throwing chairs), was to try to get them to register on the site. I figured it would be appreciated by the owner. What I told the users in an attempt to cover it up, was a jumbled theory of how they could use multiple names to ‘gang up’ and single out another user. Not the case at all. I’m sure many new accounts popped up during each show.
  • I once had to do the show outside because I didn’t want to wake up a friend that I was staying with. I must’ve been bitten by a thousand mosquitos.
  • There are still users on the site that refuse to have anything to do with me, because of something that had to do with the show.
  • During the show, room owners were encouraged to link their own room. I allowed this since lulbox held the majority of the entire site in one room and thought it’d be nice to do something for the other room owners. Nowadays, a mere mention of me or lulbox could get you permanently banned from someone’s room.
  • LULBOX had two daytime shows that both failed.
  • The lulbox logo was cemented in people’s minds causing some of them to protest the changing of the yellow LUL to blue.
  • There is no official Facebook page or Twitter account for lulbox. Any pages relating to or titled lulbox are neither owned nor operated by me or anyone affiliated with me. They’re fake. Unfollow them if you fell for it.
  • I added the letter Y to my username and some people think that’s how it’s really spelled. My name is Michael or Mike.
  • Users would argue over what nationality I was based on just my voice, even though in the beginning I would be right there on cam.
  • Some users would try to schedule their lives and their jobs around the show hours. No lie, a few times I was told by a user that he or she was going to “call in sick tomorrow.”
  • The latest lulbox ever started was at 4:00 AM. That show ended at 9:00 AM.
  • Some users would threaten to ‘flag me’ during each show by sending in complaints.
  • A lot of PM’s went unread due to the graphic nature of their content. I had many guests leave in anger over me refusing to read certain messages.
  • I always wanted what I called “A Night With The Reds“, which would’ve been a live Q&A with all of the admins during a show. It never happened. If it did, I think it would’ve brought the site a little closer together, in terms of, we could all speak our minds and get to know one another. I was striving to assemble a community, rather than authority > everyone else.
  • My favorite show was ruined when multiple users sent things like “Just fucking get back to the PM’s” and “STFU and do the show!“, when I went through the list of users and described my relationship with them. I talked about each user for a few minutes – how we met on Kageshi, under what circumstances, and what I liked about them. It was the most heartfelt thing I had ever done on the show. I guess because there were over fifty people in the user list, people grew impatient.
  • LULBOX listeners gained a glimpse into my personal life when I would run out of messages. I would be forced to improvise and I did so by telling short stories about myself.
  • I once cammed up under a guest name during the show with a solo co-host. No one knew it was me and this is the first time I’ve ever told anyone.
  • In a Skype call, I told a few people to go around the site and say something like “myke’s gonna have this guy do a crazy dare and he’s not supposed to let people hurt themselves”, and I was telling people the next show would be the most fucked up show I ever did. It was a prank to see if the team of admins would show up, and right on cue, as the show was about to start, they came in one by one. Ayy.
  • A loophole in the way the show worked was that no user could be held accountable for what they sent, since technically, they were anonymous. And since I was just reading it out loud, I, too, was spared from any infractions as well.
  • There was a running gag where corndogs were placed in various body cavities for a dare, or just mentioned in hundreds of PM’s.
  • One user sent the absolute best PM’s of every show. DR.DOOM, from The Crossroads room, would supply me with PM’s packed full of the funniest shit. The majority of his messages were long enough to devote up to twenty minutes of content at a time, making my job as the host, a lot easier. Props.
  • I would often pretend to be drunker than I actually was and would take shots of Sun Drop to make it sound more realistic. It was an act – and it fucking worked.
  • The voice you’d hear when I talked was a fake radio voice. I wanted to sound more like an on-air personality and quickly taught myself how to pull it off. I would sometimes break character and people thought someone else was hosting.
  • There were a few times I improvised PM’s when traffic was slow. Yes, here I am admitting that I may have caused a few internal arguments. Ouch.
  • If a user was being attacked by an onslaught of negative PM’s, I would read fake messages saying something positive about them. This is ultimately what lead to the rise and fall of lulbox.

Peeps, writing all of this took a long fucking time. But if it helps to clarify what I was going through when we met, then so be it. Out of respect, I withheld some names and situations in order to present this to you without regret. Please make no assumptions as to who I may have been talking about and understand that these instances needed to be portrayed if I wanted all of these words to work as I had experienced them. There’s a good chance that you’re going to read this again, and I highly encourage it, just please remember that patience is key. Do not attempt to skim through anything … take your time and you will be able to fully appreciate what is in front of you.

In closing, I want to take this time to thank you for reading all of this and just being a part of my crazy life. We’ve spent a lot of time with each other and it’s all thanks to spad and a British build site that is getting bigger than any of us imagined in the beginning. Thank you, spad. We’re not just random users and admins, we’re this huge, weird, family. We need to put our differences aside and mend broken fences.

Besides, it’s never a good idea to burn any bridges … you never know when you’ll need to cross them again.
With love,
myke
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