Everyone thought he was so cool, Mr. Alternateen Poster Boy, Devin Ripley. He stopped playing football after freshman year, grew his hair shaggy, wore tight t-shirts and mumbled. He would sit in the library playing his guitar, cheerleaders cooing to him. The sensitive guy routine didn't fool anyone but the other popular kids; the rest of us hated him.

He was in a band called Seminal Oblivion with a group of college-aged burnouts who lived in the apartments a block from the school and spent most of their 'jam sessions' playing Sega. They played shows at downtown coffeeshops every month or so, and we always ended up going to see the other bands, who were actually talented.

One night, we were extremely disappointed because it was their CD release party, and so they ended up playing a much extended set of mostly covers of Nirvana and Elliott Smith songs, with a few metal standards thrown in to amuse the football boys in the audience. A friend of mine (not a close friend) had secretly developed a crush on Devin, and she ended up buying the CD. She justified it with some nonsense about supporting local music, but she stared at the shirtless photo of him on the sleeve the entire ride home.

I know what I did was manipulative, but I couldn't help it.

I forced her to come back to my house and let me copy the CD onto my computer. Then I let her retreat to her own home to gaze at Devin's intangible image in peace.

I uploaded the whole thing to Napster.

And I worked it. I sent messages to anyone who downloaded music from me: "Hey, if you like _____, check out this awesome song by Seminal Oblivion. It rulz, dood!" I talked incessantly about it in all the chatrooms. Days later, I got the same girl to part with the CD sleeve for half an hour while I scanned in the images. I wrote reviews and submitted them to anyone who might be likely to post them. I lied my ass off. But, most importantly, I Photoshopped the photo of Devin shirtless until he looked like every Carson Daly fan's wet dream.

I singlehandly created so much buzz on the web about this one stupid band that I had to maintain a constant connection to satisfy thousands of Devin-hungry fans. I made them rock gods, and they were all oblivious.

Someone finally clued the boys in, and Devin shoved me against a wall between classes one day. I was startled to see a tear in his eye as he spoke to me in his soft, effeminate voice.

"How could you do that? I'm a serious artist. Music is my life. How can I support myself, now that the whole world can get my music for free? What will I do? Where will I go? You've taken all the artistic control away from me and made my vision into.. into.. anarchy. You've.. you've ruined my whole life." And he loped off, a cheerleader catching him around the shoulders and glaring back at me.

At the time, I thought it was funny, because I thought their band was miserably bad. I figured he would move on. But a year later I came back from college and he was working at McDonald's. And all because I put his CD on Napster.

A not-true story. I don't believe in copyright infringement. And I never speed.

(Disclaimer postponed indefinitely for lack of interest.)

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