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Happy Birthday to Us (And to You)

Posted: October 21, 2002

By Kevin Forest Moreau, Editor-in-Chief

Birth of a Dream

The story of the beginning of Shaking Through is a humble one. A little over a year ago, during the fall of 2001, I was putting my years of education and experience to good use as a nameless, faceless file clerk in the Repossessed Claims Department of the Office of Overdue or Defaulted Accounts, a branch of the Accounts Receivable department of the Vacuum Tubes and Tesla Globes division of ShakeCo Electronics, one of approximately 2,786 companies that make up the worldwide conglomerate known as ShakeCo Industries. Then one fateful April morning, I was called into the office of "Garrulous" Gareb Thrustein, the he-man CEO of SCI himself. Unfortunately, Mr. Thrustein's office is in SCI World Headquarters in New York, whereas ShakeCo Electronics was located in New Orleans, and the summons didn't come with any mention of travel expenses.

So it was that I booked a same-day flight to New York on my own dime, arriving at SCI World H.Q. late in the evening. Since the SCI empire never sleeps, the main building of the SCI campus was as abuzz as the gay community discussing rumors of Tom Cruise's heterosexuality. Tired, curious and a little intimidated, I was ushered directly into Mr. Thrustein's office by his stern executive assistant, and came face to face with the man who'd arranged the election of the last five U.S. Presidents, the man who'd once bought Ted Turner as a lark and sold him into the servitude of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, and who'd once famously referred to powerful GE exec Jack Welch as "my prison bitch."

"Yeah, Moreau," Thrustein growled without even looking up from typing on an old-fashioned manual typewriter with one hand, scribbling with an electronic pen onto the screen of his P.D.A. with the other, a telephone receiver cradled against his ear and a whistling septuagenarian lackey doggedly buffing his shoes. "You do good work. Liked your memo about last year's Christmas party. Good stuff. I want to start an entertainment-themed web site. Movie reviews, music reviews, the works. Move to Atlanta, start it up this week. Hire a small staff...one, two guys at most. Don't worry about the movies, music, books, whatever...you'll get whatever review material you need from our appropriate divisions, and a full-sized screening room with stadium seating to screen flicks. I want it zippy, smart and with a no-nonsense, no bullshit attitude. Don't follow trends; say what you think. Don't worry about appeasing advertisers, because we don't need any...this'll basically be a tax shelter and a way to launder the cash I spend on my mistress's penthouse and upkeep. And oh, yeah...I want an advice column, too. Favor to a friend of mine, Pope John Paul II. Make it so." And with that, I was dismissed, left to fly straight on to Atlanta (again, on my own dime) to start up the site you've since come to know and love.

How It Really Happened

Okay, maybe it didn't happen quite like that. Here's the real story: Shaking Through had long been a topic of idle conversation between myself and Laurence Station, a childhood friend. I had made a pretty good living over the last couple of years as a freelance journalist, focused mostly on music and entertainment, and although I held a satisfying job as an editor for an Internet company, I'd long pined for a forum of my own, where I could say what I really felt, write in as direct or as fantastical a style as suited me at the moment, and generally try to impress chicks with my witty and erudite banter. Station, a tireless student of just about everything, an obsessive and a completist without peer, had discretionary income to throw around, an unquenchable thirst to impress people with detailed knowledge of obscure or cult musical acts, a bit of Internet publishing know-how and writerly ambitions.

We often talked of merging these ambitions and desires as a hobby, but didn't act on them until a change of job titles led to my leaving my hometown of New Orleans for Atlanta, Georgia. Suddenly, Shaking Through was more than just a topic of idle speculation and a means to procrastinate; it became a way for two friends to keep in touch through a shared creative endeavor. And thus, on October 31, 2001, Shaking Through went live (though reviews written earlier in the month were backdated and subsequently posted), debuting to an unsuspecting and largely indifferent public.

The site as it existed then bears only a superficial resemblance to the site as we know it today. What was originally intended solely as a forum for music reviews soon expanded: I decided to add a section on comics largely as a way to help a frustrated friend in another state start his creative juices flowing and feel involved in something. He has yet to contribute a piece, actually (although the esteemed Gentleman has stepped in to fill that void), but Station and I forged ahead regardless, figuring we might as well go for broke and cover the whole ball of wax (with the notable exception of television). Initially, I had also envisioned a section called "What's Shaking" in which we'd pontificate on the musical issues of the day via music news parodies, much in the vein of The Onion or Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live. That never happened, and a couple of other ideas I thought were brilliant at the time also never saw the pixilated light of day.

That fortunate fact is due to the wisdom and balance Laurence Station brings to Shaking Through. In fact, much of what you like about the site is probably Station's doing. Our Shakethrus, which allow us to expand our database of reviews with (relatively) short and concise nuggets of criticism, were his brainchild. He writes the majority of our movie reviews, and probably our music reviews as well. He acts as Shaking Through's publishing desk, laying out, streamlining and updating the site constantly. He tirelessly views films and hunts down obscure or noteworthy CDs on his own time and money, and bombards my inbox with reviews to be edited every time I turn around. He also presses yours truly, something of a procrastinator, often using verbal bullying and intimidation tactics to midwife the delivery of an editorial or a review. Yes, I've contributed my fair share to the look and feel of the site -- our popular Head-2-Head feature, the Vatican Assassin's advice column, our book reviews, editorials and monthly email newsletters, for example, the latter two of which more or less make me the site's figurehead and visible representative. But Shaking Through as we know and have come to love it wouldn't exist if not for his tireless and inspiring efforts. Take a bow, L.S. You deserve it.

Past, Present and Future

In the year since our first posting back on Halloween of 2001, Station and myself -- aided and abetted by the efforts of the Gentleman and Vatican Assassin -- have built an impressive database of reviews and column. As of this writing, with Station's mini-review of Knockaround Guys and a half-written comic book review manipulating my "to do" list, Shaking Through currently boasts 325 pieces of content (broken down, for the curious, as follows): 164 music reviews, 80 movie reviews, 50 comic book reviews, 18 book reviews, 7 editorials (not counting this one) and 7 advice columns. Not bad for two guys with full-time jobs and a measly staff of two guest contributors (one with only 7 advice columns to his credit!). That's pretty darned close to one piece of new content per day, a goal we hope to close in on in the coming year.

So yes, we're doing pretty well: Our database expands all the time, and our page views have steadily grown to around 2,000 unique visits a month -- not bad for an obscure little site with no advertising and sporadic word-of-mouth. We've done a decent job of sticking to our ideological guns -- sidestepping the latest and trendiest fads, cutting through the elitist or misguided B.S. of other entertainment-related media, offering "humorous and insightful commentary regarding matters of pop-cultural relevance." But we can do better, and we will -- with your help. The efforts of Station, V.A., the Gentleman and myself aside, this site really wouldn't exist without you, the reader. And if you like what you see, there's much you can do to help us. Post on the Forum, our pathetically under-utilized message board. Subscribe to our monthly email newsletter. Send links to friends. Email us with comments, critiques or concerns. Heck -- even contribute a review! It's a cliché, but Shaking Through is as much your site as it is ours. Tell us what you like, what you'd like to see more of, what could be better.

In the meantime, you're invited to help us celebrate our first anniversary --10 days away as I write this, maybe two months passed by the time you stumble across it. Here's to more commentary, more voices and most importantly, more fun during our second year. And here's to you, for making it all worthwhile. Cheers, and pass the cake!

Site design copyright © 2001-2011 Shaking Through.net. All original artwork, photography and text used on this site is the sole copyright of the respective creator(s)/author(s). Reprinting, reposting, or citing any of the original content appearing on this site without the written consent of Shaking Through.net is strictly forbidden.

 

   

Archived Editorials
December 03, 2006: Happy Feet
November 22, 2006: Half Decade Anniversary
October 07, 2006: Jessica Simpson
September 30, 2006: New Orleans and SNL
June 2, 2006: Dixie Chicks
May 7, 2006: Are Yahu Serious?
February 16, 2006: Bill O'Reilly & Brokeback Mountain
February 12, 2006: Totally '80s (Grammys)
January 31, 2006: Freyed Oprah
November 27, 2005: To Be Continued... (Bringing back movie serials)
November 21, 2005: Fourth Birthday
November 05, 2005: TV Remakes
August 13, 2005: Ten Commandments of Rock
July 05, 2005: Live 8
May 05, 2005: Term Limits (for Rock Stars)
April 29, 2005: Pearl Jam Redux
January 26, 2005: Oscar Grouching
October 31, 2004: Three More Years!
September 27, 2004: Cleaning Out My Closet
August 25, 2004: Shaking Through Mailbag
June 23, 2004: Summer Reading List
June 11, 2004: World Without Heroes (Bill Murray and Garfield)
April 23, 2004: Sold Out (Bob Dylan, Victoria's Secret, & Iraq)
April 08, 2004: The Day the Music Died (Kurt Cobain)
Mar. 17, 2004: Copping Out
Feb. 27, 2004: The Passion of Howard Stern
Jan. 30, 2004: Sex and the City
Nov. 17, 2003: California Über Alles
Nov. 7, 2003: Not-So-Terrible Twos
Sept. 19, 2003: Magic & Loss (Johnny Cash and Warren Zevon)
Aug. 17, 2003: Those '70s Shows
May 27, 2003: Patriot Games (Darryl Worley)
May 24, 2003: American Idol
Mar. 23, 2003: Non-cents-ical (Dixie Chicks-50 Cent)
Feb. 8, 2003: Where's the Love? (Pearl Jam)
Jan. 1, 2003: High Resolutions
Dec. 16, 2002: All I Want for Christmas
Nov. 27, 2002: Things to be Thankful For
Nov. 8, 2002: Near Wild Heaven (Nirvana)
Oct. 21, 2002: Happy Birthday to Us
Sept. 11, 2002: The Little Things
Aug. 20, 2002: King for a Day
July 9, 2002: Bill of Rights
Apr. 18, 2002: Celebrity Skim
Apr. 15, 2002: We Will Never Lie To You
Jan. 6, 2002: Something to Believe In
Nov. 3, 2001: Who We Are