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A Different Flavor Of Hell

(How HellOnEarth.com became amazingly popular for a few days -- before sinking back into its well-deserved oblivion.)

Here you are

Let's face facts: www.HellOnEarth.com is not what you'd call the most popular site on the web. Of course, it was never meant to be.

Most of the e-mail this site gets is about a section which was never meant for a wide audience (The Whole Tooth) and about an article about Life after Death which its author no longer believes in. Essentially, the only people writing were people with tooth pain and deeply religious people who felt deeply offended by an outdated opinion.

All this changed from one day to another.

On September 16, 2003, Gee received a very strange e-mail message:

So I have heard that someone is commiting suicide at the State Theatre in Oct. at a hell on earth show?

Can you give me any facts about this matter?

A Hell On Earth "show"? What the heck was going on here? It turned out that a Florida-based band called Hell On Earth had announced that during a performance in St. Petersburg on October 4, 2003, a terminally ill person would commit suicide on stage. A friend and fan of the band, apparently.

A live suicide on stage! Now that's exactly the kind of thing the U.S. media love.

"BillY", the band's leader, went on National Public Radio to talk about the show, the Associated Press picked up on it and the thing spiralled into a fireball of media frenzy. Soon, the legislative and executive branch found themselves challenged. The St. Petersburg City council passed an ordinance forbidding suicide during a for commercial or entertainment purposes and to promote such an event, the Major expressed his outrage and a Florida judge forbade the performance. The Hell On Earth band announced on their web site that they would do the concert anyway, in an undisclosed location, to be broadcast live over the Internet.

We've Got Mail

Suddenly, a lot of people thought this Hell On Earth was the other Hell On Earth, and they were really upset. HellOnEarth.com's mailbox was filling with a lot of strange e-mail messages. How strange? Well, this strange:

Why would you want to be a part in sending someone to hell..... suicide is a sin.. and you will not be rewarded... unless you seek fire and terrible pain for eternity.. I listened just briefly to your news video on line and I have to tell you... I foundit filled with Satan's demons. Why seek darkness when you could have light and joy.

May God reach your soul before it is to late.. You should be out there trying to savelives, instead of encouraging people to take their lives and be doomed to a fiery HELL.... This is to the person who is considering this act..   STOP and think... you think you are in pain now... If you commit suicide. you will be in more pain and torment than you could ever imagine... Satan will torment you for pleasure.. Don't be fooled into the darkness.. Trust in God, Call on his Name, ask for forgiveness and give your life to him, He will be your comforter,and he will keep through all things, he will never leave you..  Have Faith in him... You've probable have  tried alot of things, Give JESUS a chance, he will not let you down...   God Bless you and keep you..

It will probably come as no surprise to anybody that this missive came from a Yahoo e-mail account. Almost every e-mail by somebody with deep-seated religious convictions comes from a Yahoo account. Please note: I am not trying to claim that all religious people are Yahoos.

But things got stranger still. Somebody asked whether HellOnEarth.com would be willing to accept ads on its site. Knowing that other people will sell their First-Born to get ad space onto their site, Gee still refused. Somebody asked Gee to call a number in Virginia, with no reason given.

Then there came the almost-groupies, writing in support of the bizarre performance:

Well, I don't care so much if a person commits suicide, but you will be arrested for accessory to murder, but I suppose it's better to get negative publicity than none (see Great White!).

But, what my friends don't understand, is how you can hurt animals? Throw rats into a blender? I somehow forgive Trent Reznor for the monkey in Closer, as it's the sexiest song ever. But to just grind up animals. Yikes.

BTW, I'm in PETA's magazine this month (same page as [deleted]) as I'm a healthy (sometime) vegetarian.

Oh boy. Suicides are okay, but don't touch the animals. At least libertarians know how to spell (always a plus).

And then there were the really strange ones:

I have no problems or opinions against you at all.... but i do want to know your opinion on this black pope in the vatican... what do you see for him inthe future... what do you see happening now... upcoming??

You seem to be a very smart intelligent young person, who is way beyond my comprehention of what your talking about on your web site... alittle too strange for me...
but u have the right to print what  you like.. its freedom of speech...

Then there came the insults from people who had been looking for the Other Hell On Earth, began to browse This Hell On Earth and who felt deeply offended by Gee's political opinions.

From your description of your youth, you sound like a timid creature.  It's time to stop hiding behind Mommy's dress and face the hard circumstances that we have to face on a daily basis.

This is not a Socialist country.  So quit talking about our shortfall of funds to cover "social programs".  Because frankly, nobody cares about the welfare of people who feel that society "owes" them an existence.

Two days after the show (!), this gem arrived:

Hello

My name is [deleted] and I am [deleted] of the US Raelian Movement for the USA. RAEL and all of our international orginization would like to send you support for your plans to help this terminally ill man die with dignity. It's great that you bring this to the forefront of society, forcing people to think about this.

The Raelian Movement is an atheist religion which understands that all life on earth was created by people (not gods) that came from another planet thousands of years ago. One of the many things that these Extraterrestrials told Rael in 1973 was about suicide. One who is suffering and cannot be helped thru current science should have the right to take their own life.

It's always the same people that are against the suicide of a suffering person that are against the development of science which could eliminate all suffering. They prefer to stay in the dark ages, believing that a god, taking no responsibility for their lives, yet they would be the first to take advantage of a medicine which would alleviate their suffering although the previous genration of people that thought as they did tried to prevent from being created.

Congrats for your action...and all our support

[deleted]
[phone number deleted]

Oh boy.

Back Story: This Hell

Hell On Earth started out as an experiment in collaborative anonymity -- a place to vent without exposing oneself too much. The domain name was chosen because for a couple of years, the driving force of this site thought that nothing could be worse than this planet.

After an initial surge of creativity in 1998 and 1999, Hell On Earth began to languish. The webmaster (let's call him Gee) had overextended himself with three web sites and a day job which turned into a day-and-night job. Still, there were a few updates.

The webmaster, Gee, began a health section to inform friends and foes about how his tooth troubles were proceeding. One day, the Googlebot came swooping down on the Hell On Earth website and suddenly Gee got a lot of  e-mail from people with tooth pain and from dentists who wanted to have a look into Gee's mouth. The Whole Tooth section was refurbished accordingly to accomodate for a wider audience. Then the tooth pain got under control and the site began to rot. Until the aforementioned e-mail from September 16, 2003, revived the whole thing. Apparently, it takes a person who wants to kill himself on stage to get things moving.

Back Story: The Other Hell

Okay, no more third person Gee: This is the webmaster speaking. Gee.

In December 2001, Billy Tourtlelot, leader of a obscure Florida band named Hell On Earth (he calls himself "BillY") sent me an e-mail  in which he asked me for "a courtesy link" to his web site. His band was coming out with a new record and he wanted to make sure his audience wouldn't get stuck on another Hell On Earth web site. He described the style of his music as a mix of industrial and metal genres. He was even so kind to offer me a complimentary copy of his band's latest album, which ended up coming out in August 2002.

For some reason, I decided to check out his site before creating the link. Even thouth I consider myself rather tolerant of other people's opinions and views, I found things there I didn't wish to associate myself with. I told BillY about this and never received a reaction. He probably considered me a lost cause, which is an assessment I find hard to fault.

Gone To Hell

The whole suicide show shebang apparently pushed some wrong buttons somewhere on the Net. Suddenly, on the eve of their show, the other Hell On Earth domain went bye-bye. Traceroute calls ended in lost packets, ping attempts failed. The site was "down" and stayed down for eight days. In a news story, their webmaster said the site was smashed to bits with a denial of service attack. This resulted in even more people coming to this site and even more misinformed e-mails. The short version: The other Hell On Earth site was offline, this site was online. People drew the wrong conclusions. (By now they are back, with no specific information about the outcome of the infamous concert.)

I blame Internet Explorer, really. When you enter hellonearth into MSIE's address bar, it looks for a dotcom address first. Hence, people will be coming to this site, expecting an entirely other kind of Hell On Earth, for a while.

And what about the suicide? Well, it seems to have been Schroedinger's Concert. According to BillY, the show was performed. A web radio host claims that he has video proof that the suicide also took place -- in a separate venue. This was then disputed by the band. It may have happened or not. I don't really care.

In any case, the band Hell On Earth has probably managed to shift quite a few units of their current album. The band has achieved a certain notoriety which will fuel ticket sales for years to come. And that's what it is all about, after all: making money from some poor schmuck's corpse.