“The best website in the history of the internet!”
Since its launch on October 9, 2012, many things have been said about the blog, Heading for the Exits. None of those things have anything to do with the statements listed above. Regardless, a lot has changed in the 79 days since this blog’s inception, and we have decided to give you – our loyal readers – a peek behind the curtain of HFTE. We have collaborated on an oral history that gets to the bottom of how things really went down, as told by the people who lived it. Enjoy!
On the idea for creating the site:
Sarge: A few months ago, Mantis Toboggan, M.D. and I had a conversation that bounced from DUAN, to Twitter DMs, to email. The genesis of this discussion was It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, as I had mentioned to him that I had written a script for the show on my own. He asked me to send it over, and mentioned that since Deadspin commenting was no longer the creative outlet that it used to be, he was contemplating the notion of writing a script like that himself. I mentioned that I had been toying with the notion of putting together some type of a website that could serve as an outlet for some of us, and he immediately responded by saying that he would be interested if I did.
A week or two after that, I ran the idea by BronzeHammer, and he also said he would be interested. Over the next few days, I started looking into the best publishing platforms for this type of thing, spent a few days building the site, and the rest is history.
BronzeHammer: I think a few of us were just wondering what would be a good way to start really fostering an intense hate for one another, and if we could embarrass ourselves in the process, it would just be a bonus, so we started a blog.
Mantis Toboggan, M.D.: [wakes with a start] Site?
On the name, Heading for the Exits:
Sarge: That was all Mantis’s idea. The two of us has a brainstorming session, and probably about 20-30 names were suggested. Most of them were not very good. “Heading for the Exits” was one of the first ones that Mantis tossed out, and from that point on, we didn’t like any of the other candidates nearly as much as that. Once I found the picture that eventually became the banner for our site, the name was set.
DJJJW: Once I pooped a poop and I looked down at it and it spelled “heaAdign FOrr eTH XexitsT,” but I didn’t really understand what it meant. Then I pooped another poop a few days later and it spelled “Start a blog called ‘Heading for the Exits.’ I thought I was pretty clear last time.” But I still didn’t understand. Then Bronzie, Hammerclaw, and Mantis started a blog called Heading for the Exits.
Sweaty: At first, I thought it was a bunch of teens who gave creative advice on how to deal with acne, combined with America’s fascination with inserting X’s into words they have no business being in: Heading for thee Xits.
Mantis: You wouldn’t believe the size of DJJJW’s bathroom windows.
On the initial reaction to the launch:
Sarge: It was definitely bigger than I had expected. We had almost 500 visits on the first day, with almost 1,750 pageviews. The three of us had come up with a solid week’s worth of content prior to launching, so it was time for us to just sit back and relax for awhile.
Mantis: A long, long while. Really that was my favorite part of the whole enterprise.
BronzeHammer: I thought we were “launching” the damn thing into space, and as it turns out, we weren’t. Seemed like a huge disappointment at the time, and still is, really. Space is cool.
On the addition of three new contributors early in the project:
Sarge: The enthusiasm from the initial reaction resulted in a two-post-per-day scheduling format being implemented almost immediately. We hadn’t exactly thought this through, and realized that maintaining that frequency was going to be harder than we thought. Initially, we were going to have all guest pieces go under the “Friends of the Blog” handle, but then Bronze Hammer said “We should consider putting those three on as contributors,” to which Mantis and I replied, “okay.”
DJJJW: I had been following HFTE for about six years, and my bedroom walls were covered with printouts of lots of different posts, as well as composite pictures of what I thought Hammerclaw, Bronzie, and Mantis looked like in real life (all of them look like Christmas hams). Eventually, my obsession got to a point at which I was neglecting my wife, children, and job, and something had to give. So, I sent a DM to Bronzie in which I asked if they’d be interested in having me write something for the site. As soon as he wrote back, I quit my job, abandoned my family, and got to work.
It was only when I went back to actually read Bronzie’s DM that I realized he had told me to “Go jump in a lake made of piss.” So, I begged for my job back, returned to my family, and then Bronzie sent me another DM that said “JK you can write whatever I guess,” so then I quit my job and abandoned my wife and children again. What an exhilarating three hours that was.
Sweaty: I thought to myself: “You know what this site needs? A mid-level Deadspin commenter who nobody really knows.” After promising to be on the wrong end of a glory hole at the HFTE Christmas party, the guys couldn’t say no.
BronzeHammer: I wish we had added 40 contributors.
On Mantis’s disappearance:
Sarge: My lawyer has advised me not to comment on this matter. I will have a prepared statement available once the investigation has been completed.
UEA: Mantis lives in the same state as me, I think, so I guess I could go to his house and make sure he’s okay, which I’d totally do except I’m already here up in a tree in my underwear and don’t worry, guys, he’s fine.
Sweaty: I wish my boss at my other job would disappear.
BronzeHammer: Not kidding, I don’t know who that is.
Mantis: Did I feel bad about stepping away from the site for a while? Sure. Did I have good reason to do it? Of course. Did I really? Look, just read about it in my upcoming post, alright? When am I publishing it? Wow check out that helicopter! [slams door]
On the night that Deadspin went down:
Sarge: That was without a doubt the most fun I’ve had since HFTE’s inception. I saw the first post that Mantis put up, and sent him a message to give him some kudos. It was at that point that he informed me that he was just getting started. He said that Bronzy was getting to work on something, and that I should get in on it too. I don’t think I stopped typing all night. That was also the night that I realized that not every post requires 3-plus hours of labor before it sees the light of day. That was a textbook example of rapid-fire blogging. Damn, that was fun.
Mantis: As luck would have it, I had just returned from the textbook store with a third-edition “Rapid Fire Blogging and You.”
UEA: Deadspin going down was great for the site, traffic-wise. I think Deadspin should go down more often. Hell, everything should go down more often, am I right, guys? Especially girls! Haha, just some edgy guy humor for you.
Sweaty: What else could be said but +1 one to these guys for that? That seems appropriate.
On Sarge’s nine-day hiatus:
DJJJW: God, I’ve never seen anyone have to poop so much before. I felt kind of bad for him. I hope he’s all right.
UEA: I was pretty stoked at first, but when BronzeHammer told me that they can’t make me the new co-founder because “that doesn’t even make sense,” I got kinda bummed.
Sweaty: I told him that this means his glory hole privileges will be revoked if he doesn’t return.
BronzeHammer: His seat stayed warm the whole time. I’m being literal. His chair was hot. Concerning.
Mantis: Hammerclaw wouldn’t know a hiatus if it started a blog with two other guys, wrote like three posts and then disappeared until he literally showed up at its house and shoved a Talkboy in its sleep-creased face.
On the decision to scale back from two posts per day to one:
Sarge: We did?
UEA: More like two posts per day to none!
Sweaty: If you want more than one post, let us know and we’ll give you photoshopped memes and gifs. Or, maybe just random pictures of strange people’s feet and post them.
On horse meat:
Sarge: Putting the ethical debate aside for a moment, how else do you expect us to feed that many cats in an economically feasible manner? If we’re going to vote on it, that’s fine, but just know that I am a staunch supporter of the “Horse Meat For Cats” movement.
DJJJW: The whole “horse meat” thing started in a tweet I wrote about Mitt Romney, and the joke was so well-received that I’ve come back to this non-joke time and again, because I don’t have any original ideas. *bites into a horse meat taco*
UEA: Love it. I grew up on the stuff, you know. There’s an old saying in my family: “If you can ride it, you can eat it.” And everyone can ride a horse. I was pretty pissed when I got too big to ride large dogs. Delicious!
Sweaty: It won’t fit in the glory hole, thank god.
On BronzeHammer’s crippling Goldfish addiction and its effect on the site:
Sarge: It is devastating. I remember one night, I had left some important documents on my desk that I needed, so I went back to the office to get them. Everyone else had already left by then, except for BronzeHammer. I walked in quietly, and saw one of the most disturbing scenes I have ever witnessed. BronzeHammer had put out a layer of newspaper, individually removed the salmon that DJJJW was raising as a food source for his fish, spray painted the fish gold, and returned them to their giant aquarium. He did all of this while dancing and singing along with his Cyndi Lauper mixtape that he always has on in the office. It was disturbing.
UEA: I like calling him ‘bro-ldfish.’
Sweaty: I think he’s single-handedly keeping Pepperidge Farm in business.
BronzeHammer: *munches with wild abandon*
On the future of HFTE:
Sarge: I’ve been working for quite some time on a new Cyndi Lauper mixtape for BronzeHammer. I think everyone else was getting somewhat tired of hearing the same two songs that he had on his first one over and over and over and over and over again. I think adding a few new songs to the mixtape will really go a long way to re-energize the team.
UEA: The word ‘future’ refers to a great fog just out of our reach, a roiling sea of possibilities that is calmed, revealing its true surface and what lies beneath, at the precise moment we relinquish the mirage of control. We’ll be shuttered by the end of the year.
Sweaty: I’d like to see more “discussions” in our comments section.
BronzeHammer: My sincere hope is that HFTE continues to be a blog, on line.
Mantis: [has vanished]