Thursday, March 8, 2007

The poetry of spam.

I hibernate in the winter months. When you live north of the Mason-Dixon line, you have to. Especially in upstate New York, where I grew up. But after stints in Boston and now New York City, it's become an annual habit. I resubscribe to Netflix after my annual warm-weather break, pack the queue (there are 67 in there right now), and go directly home from work to open and watch my daily Netflix gifts.

This past February I went out and socialized 3 times, maybe. Nothing I'm proud of. But nothing provides a greater sense of joy these days than parking it in front of the tv with a can of Strongbow and a DVD of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

Netflix aside, a minor passion during the hibernative months is caressing my PowerBook G4 and cruising the Internet for good times. I'm referring not to porn, but to the reams and mounds and piles of amazing, pointless stuff you can find to entertain yourself on the web. Of course, there are web pages devoted to literally everything you can possibly think of, as well as things that should legally be outside the realm of human creativity. In that spirit, I vowed to create something new on the web: a site to praise the unintentional loveliness of contemporary spam poetry.

Most of us have received dozens of these. The subject headings of these poetic spam messages are always nonsensical, enough to draw you into the hidden message within - usually having something to do with Viagra or a pretty 17-year-old Russian girl named Petra who wants nothing more than to do your laundry after becoming your mail-order bride.

These spammers have always been around, regardless of your surfing habits. Sooner or later, they will find you and send you email. This is a fact. But what's so unexpectedly respectable about it is their efforts to elude the spam police. In order to stay under the radar, they string together the craziest slop with their message hidden inside, as if Petra was a Russian nesting doll within layers of computer generated refrigerator magnet poetry.

Whatever algorithms the spam police employ, they are completely flummoxed by something like this:

Neo-syriac AKA One-Decker Oak Thistle

nonmember bank pale-blue Non-quaker
Passion sunday nipa alcohol
organ-piano paradise flycatcher methyl alcohol
open-spokenness Odd fellowship
mussel crab Oxford corner O station palm crab
paper-clothed never-vacant mid-nineteenth
paddle board never-resting
peacock green oak thistle
neck rot milkwort family middle-sizedness
nine-eyed eel open-pit mighty-mouthed Militia bureau
moose elm milk snake nephelite-tephrite Neo-platonism
mis-lie one-roomed Non-israelite mummy wheat moving cluster
mid-lake Paleo-american paymaster-generalship
mid-channel peak factor out-of-vogue mis-seat
paper-slitting mid-zone mug-wet mis-hit new-laid padge owl
open-spokenness net valuation moudy-warp needle-made
Neo-roman obturator fascia Michaelmas
crocus new-grown palm family
open-hearth process oval chuck opossum tree
new-fashioned pearl-bush paunch mat peace-preaching
one-ideaed paper-stamping ninety-one pearl-fishery
Mid-may never-setting name plate night raven
olive-growing patty-cake M star narrow-headed
oval-lanceolate news writer olive scab night shift
one-decker night monkey motor torpedo boat olive berry
V*I*A*G*R*A $5.99
pharma#ceuticals whole$ale
enhanccce your natural splendor
reply to message

This is a real piece of spam I received through my email spam filter at work. There's more imagery in that email than in anything else I've read lately, poetry or not. I love the made up words, like "mug-wet mis-hit new-laid padge owl." J.K. Rowling would've sold the Book 7 rights to Satan to have come up with that.

But after my grand plan to create a spam poetry site, I realized that among the 5 billion people or whatever that inhabit this planet, there was another hibernating nitwit like me who beat me to the punch. I'm way behind, actually. The Register covered it, Wired covered it probably a dozen times, and a Christian Science Monitor contributor was embarrassed to discover that he was beaten to the punch 2003. So I'm meta-slow.

But the best one is by this girl Kristin who creates her own poetry using the subject titles of spam she receives.

The moral of the story is...I don't know what the moral of the story is. Spam isn't all bad?

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