Attn Joe: A Piece of Lurker's History

B5JMS Poster b5jms-owner at
Thu Dec 3 06:10:58 EST 1998

From: Katrina Glerum <katrina.glerum at>
Date: 2 Dec 1998 08:31:05 -0700
Lines: 150

With the ending of Babylon 5 comes the end of an era in my life.  I will
not only lose an anchor, but also a dear friend...who doesn't even know
who I am.  Like everyone else saying thanks and goodbye, I'd like to
share with you all a piece of the history of this amazing online


Back in 1992, my best friend, Steve Grimm told me about a sci fi show
that was going to be coming along next year which looked like it was
going to be pretty good.  About a week before the pilot aired he
reminded me again and we watched it at his house.

I liked it.  I was fascinated by the alien-ness of Delenn back then.  I
liked the realism of the makeup after years of cringing over bad
foreheads.  I liked the computer generated images which, although a bit
hokey, finally showed us the promise of action outside a space ship.  I
liked the notion of commercial telepaths.

But I kinda put it out of my mind.

About eight months later my friend told me that he had an extra ticket
for WorldCon ConFrancisco, and that he wanted to take me to listen to a
particular speaker, J. Michael Straczynski.

I said, "Who?"

He said, "That guy who created Babylon 5, you remember, that pilot you
saw last winter?

I said, "Oh, yeah.  I liked that show, didn't I, ok sure then."

He probably had to remind me again when we were in the car on the way
there.  As we drove, he gushed that this show looked like it was going
to be so cool that he wanted his home computer to be the quintessential
repository of all Internet files about it.  I asked him what he meant.
He explained to me that even though anyone could put up an FTP site
anywhere, eventually one site would gain the net-reputation of being the
premier site, and that is what he wanted to own.

I asked him what he would put there.  (This was before the Web mind
you.)  He said, you know, graphics files for download, maybe synopses as
text files for download.  But no bulletin board.  He didn't want the

So we went to watch this Straczynski fellow who showed us the first half
of Soul Hunters.  It was fantastic!  It was so wonderfully grey.  After
years of black and white, good versus evil, heros against villains, I
was delighted to find a show where I wasn't sure who to trust, which had
moral ambiguity.  (Original review of that speech--

>From that point on, I was sold.  But a few months later I left the
country.  Moved alone to Japan to live abroad for a few years.  So Steve
started sending me video tapes.  Every month we would run up our phone
bills just talking about Babylon 5, while no one else in my entire world
had even heard of this show.

Somewhere in 1994, Steve began telling me about this thing called the
World Wide Web growing up.  A graphical interface on the Internet, he
said, and he'd made a site for Babylon 5.  He wished he could show me,
but at that time you couldn't even get email in Japan that didn't cost
you a month's rent.

So I swear if Steve didn't print out 50 pages (in 6 point type) from his
site along with all the "JMS speaks" archives, and send them with the
next video tape package.

Suddenly this show I loved, which I had watched and rewatched 'til I had
all but worn out the tapes--bloomed into community in my hands.

What fun!  I enjoyed learning all the tricks of the trade and the
reasons for the plot twists.  I loved reading theories about where the
story was going to go and seeing excuses for the mistakes, watching as
JMS explained and expounded, dodged and defended, and graciously
accepted thanks.  I enjoyed watching the flamewars, especially when Joe
won, and I loved seeing snippets of people's stories with Babylon 5.
(Stuck in my mind forever is that person who described hanging from the
rafters of his house thinking, "I can't die now, I'll never find out how
Babylon 5 ended!")

Of course I was reading the nascent Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5.

Eventually I got on the Web myself and began helping Steve out a little
bit on his site.  But mostly it was him.  Week after week, analyzing the
show, fielding a ton of email and culling it for insight, laying down
page after thoughtful page of thorough information and speculation.
Steve has always been awe inspiring in his drive to do a job right.

I'm probably the only person in the world for whom Babylon 5 is
indelibly linked with Japan.  Colleagues used to laugh at me for my
dedication to this teevee show they had never heard of.  I didn't care.
I made it my personal mission to show the tapes to as many people as I
could lend them to (about 10 households by the end).

It's hard to describe the significance of Babylon 5 in my life.  It was
my single strongest link to home in the midst of a very foreign
culture.  Through very solitary years, Babylon 5 lifted me out of my
daily life and transported me far away in thought and dream.  It quite
literally kept me sane.

And the thoughts.....Where does personal responsibility begin?  When
death is inevitable, what do we show about ourselves by the manner in
which we meet it?  How do we perceive the face of god in a universe full
of diverse sentients?   What are humanity's gifts?  What are the
millstones around our species' collective neck?  What is the nature of
forgiveness?  In the faceless glare of monumental status quo, can an
individual shape the world?

And like everyone in this community it gave me very personal moments of
clarity and understanding and "perfect beauty."  Until a part of my mind
threw in the towel on the whole "this is teevee" idea and just accepted
that there was this space station spinning out there somewhere in the
sky if you just knew where to look.

Meanwhile we watched Joe change and mature.  He stopped fighting all
comers as passionately as he once did.  He gradually dropped us fewer
hints.  Yet the whole time he bravely shared his feelings and reactions
and experiences with us.  And I guarantee you, those on the "JMS speaks"
mailing list came to know Joe pretty well by the end of this thing.  How
could we not?   For 5 years we have had 5 or 6 messages every day from
one person.  That's more contact than some of us have from our loved
ones.  In fact, the hardest thing to remember is that this guy whom each
of us feel we have a personal relationship with, hasn't got the faintest
idea who most of us are!

How do we tell him how much we'll miss him?  How do we wave goodbye just
wildly enough so that he'll see us?

And then we all need to move on.  As Babylon 5 wraps, I am beginning a
new life in San Francisco, and I no longer need the show the way I once
did.  Steve got his wish with the Lurker's Guide and is now wondering
how to move on himself.  And so it goes.

Thank you for sharing this experience with us all, Joe.  Thanks for
touching our lives and being around to be touched back by them.  Thank
you for not compromising.   Thank you for inspiring Steve Grimm.  Thanks
for inspiring me to wake Steve up in the middle of the night when I
needed to laugh and shout and cry.  Thanks for the whole damned ride.

Good luck.  Good writing.  Good going.

And Love

Katrina Glerum

From: jmsatb5 at (Jms at B5)
Date: 2 Dec 1998 19:29:24 -0700
Lines: 11

That's quite lovely...thank you.


(jmsatb5 at
B5 Official Fan Club at:

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