THE END OF AN ERA: THE DEMISE OF JUDY LIST
NOTE: Transcripts from The Judy List have been copied verbatim from the List archives, as made available for download on The Judy List website for several years running prior to its demise. These archives include personal email addresses and full names. I have x’d out the email addresses and removed the last names, replacing them with just the first initial – excepting the names of celebrities, known authors, media producers, webmasters, those with published works, etc. The spelling and/or grammatical errors are not corrected, keeping the posts in their original form.
“[snip]” means that a paragraph or section of a post has been removed as being irrelevant to the subject at hand.
Garfreaks: Judy Garland fans who are on the extreme fringes of fandom where all common sense and reality disappears. A Judy Garland fan who has lost part or all links to the real world.
Garfans: Judy Garland fans. The normal ones.
THE END OF AN ERA
The Judy List abruptly ended in the spring of 2002, not long before the death of its owner and moderator, Mark Harris. Prior to that, it had been on a long decline for a year or so that began, more or less, when Lorna Luft’s (Judy Garland’s daughter) miniseries about Garland aired on ABC-TV in February of 2001. The much-awaited biopic was based, in part, on Luft’s book “Me and My Shadows: A Family Memoir,” which detailed her experiences with her mother. Garfreaks went cuckoo over the book despite its one-sided look at the life and career of Judy Garland (notably in the sections about Garland’s life that Luft was not a witness to) and Luft’s own motives for seemingly wanting to milk as much money out of her mother’s legacy as possible. It was the first of its kind written by a Garland family member.
ABC wisely ditched most of the Luft angle and went with a standard biopic approach in portraying the life and career of Judy Garland. The title was changed to “Life with Judy Garland – Me and My Shadows.” Let’s face it, viewers wouldn’t tune in without “Judy Garland” in the title. “Lorna Luft” is not a household name. Judging from the titles of her various stages shows, Luft seems to know this very well.
The miniseries was a big success. TV Guide ran four commemorative Garland related covers that week featuring three with Garland herself on the cover and one with Judy Davis, the star of the miniseries as the adult Garland. Tammy Blanchard brilliantly played the young Garland. Both actresses turned in phenomenal performances and each won the Emmy Award for Best Actress in a Miniseries or Movie and Best Supporting Actress, respectively.
Naturally, the discussions on The Judy List were almost exclusively about the miniseries before, during, and after the premiere with everyone giving their reviews, opinions, comments, etc. Including yours truly. Luft and her husband Colin Freeman kept a watch on the List (we were told that someone would give Luft printouts to read) and Freeman was not shy about making his feelings known (see the previous chapter). He effectively pissed off almost everyone, again, when he tried to run interference on what he thought would be an online flogging by the List members of the dramatic licenses taken by the miniseries. He posted a snarky diatribe the night of the premiere of the first half of the miniseries (it was aired over two nights). This was not a wise move on Freeman’s part. He assumed (with good and justifiable reasons) that the Garfreaks who comprised approximately 90%+ of the List’s members (“Listers”), would rip it to shreds.
On February 26, 2001, Freeman posted the following, published to the List digest on the following day:
From: Colin Freeman [Harris removed Freeman’s email address]
Date: Mon, 26 Feb 2001 21:51:44 -0500
Before all the nitpicking starts….some points to remember.. This movie is not controlled by Lorna alone. There are many different producers, executive producers, writers, 2 seperate production companies etc, with their own opinions on what should or should not be in this movie. It is a movie “based on” the book. Lorna does not own it anymore. It is difficult, nay impossible to cover 47 years in less than 4 hrs of TV. We are grateful for the great reviews and fantastic ratings. For all of the people on the list who are enjoying the movie, she [Lorna] thanks you. For those who have decided to find every little fault that you can nitpick, please let me know when your movie comes out about your mothers’ life and what network it would be on!
This movie was not made for you. It was made for the millions of people who did not know her mother’s work and life after Dorothy. She did this for her mother’s memory. JG deserves all the TV guide covers, accolades and reviews. We have received many phone calls today from some famous and not so famous people saying thank you for bringing her back to the public eye.
The one thing that Lorna is proud to say, is that she is her mother’s daughter.
You can imagine how well that went over. List members were insulted by Freeman’s condescending post and quickly said so, focusing on his snarky comments “This movie was not made for you,” and “let me know when your movie comes out about your mothers’ life…”
Subject: Re: Scott’s long posting which Richard just replied to
Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2001 23:46:54 EST
I was offended and hurt by Colin’s statement of: “The movie wasn’t made for you.” I looked forward to the movie since I saw the first advertisement for it because I am not only intrigued by Judy and her life but I am a huge fan and admirer. I didn’t know that I wasn’t part of the “target” audience. I didn’t know that it was made for a younger generation. I’m almost 40 and I have always had an interest and been a fan and Colin kind of made me feel as if my feelings and admiration towards Judy don’t count and don’t matter because I am not part of his “target” audience. I thought the movie was for all people who love her or want to know more about her or have an interest or they are a fan or maybe they are just curious. Colin kind of made me feel as if I don’t count and my feelings and opinion don’t matter. Anyone who is a Judy fan has the right to “matter” when it comes to anything Garland that is put before the public. I have been wanting so much to tell Lorna how much her book meant to me and inspired me and has even helped with some of my own issues that are similar to hers but I’m afraid I’ll be told that the book wasn’t written for me.
Subject: scott’s post
From: “your neighbor”
Date: Fri, 02 Mar 2001 05:08:56 -0000
As far as his comments on Colin Freeman’s post, again I do agree with him. I may be mistaken but when I read it I felt an undercurrent of anger or a biting tone. And it was a pretty different message than what we’d gotten before in terms of Lorna’s involvement. All of a sudden, it’s like Lorna Luft didn’t have much pull or say about what was in the series. And maybe that is true; after all, (as an example) they quoted those awful tapes which Lorna has spoken out against. I would be surprised if she was ok with their being used. But that is sure a different message than what we were led to believe before the series was shown.
Well, one thing I hope is that he, or I, or anyone, won’t be attacked for our opinions
The funniest response to Freeman’s post was after a Lister commented: …en route to the men’s room were two rugged looking — I said, ‘looking’ – gentlemen in matching flannel shirts. Just I was walked past their table, one of the moustached men with great flourish said, “Judy Davis was just FABulous! Another clever Lister quipped in response: Oh, so THAT’S who Colin was referring to when he said that the movie was made for someone other than “us.”
Harris had made it known that a select group (he hinted that he was a part of this elite set) were given advance copies of the miniseries. He stated that no reviews of the miniseries prior to its airing would be allowed to go through. He didn’t want Listers to see the film with prejudiced eyes as if the hardcore Garfreaks didn’t already have prejudiced eyes when it came to all things Garland. However, he was right to impose that moratorium. In early March he clarified his decision.
Subject: More “Life With Judy Garland” Web Links
From: Mark Harris <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, 06 Mar 2001 20:59:00 -0500
[snip – Harris provided a few links to a few reviews of the miniseries before writing the following]
And a final word for those with the minority opinion about the movie….just because we point out *positive* reviews doesn’t mean anyone’s begrudging you folks your opinions. Every single person who said something to the effect of “I know this won’t get published….” was published. <g> You’re welcome to send in links of “negative” reviews. Every important work of art has critics as well as fans, including Judy’s own work.
I still feel justified for imposing the discussion about the movie by those who saw “advance” copies, though, even though the only ones who did sent in very negative, personally attacking (against Lorna) posts. If The Review That Got Away had been published, NO ONE here would’ve been watching from an unbiased viewpoint. I wasn’t just trying to “squelch the negativity”, even though it might have seemed so at the time to some (and they DID write me, didn’t they? hahaha). Now that it’s over, the explanation can be given for those who were and still are interested in it.
The review I received read such as “cheap, bargain basement Toronto sets and low budget is apparent”. Even those here who didn’t particularly like the movie admitted that the production values were quite high for a TV movie and certainly nothing to belittle. I think that’s apparent to anyone who watched it.
It also contained personal attacks such as “Lorna’s narration sounds as if she’s just learning to speak the language phonetically”, etc. Anyone whose heard Lorna’s narration of “The Concert Years” *knows* how ridiculous a claim that was! Lorna’s “narration” of the advance copies was taken from a continuity track, akin to movie practice records. It was the cheap, personal nature of those shots that made me decide that it would be better to save opinions – negative OR positive – of the movie until after the movie actually AIRED, especially when considering the advance copy was an unfinished work when it was distributed some two months ago.
The reason for my quite public statement to Frankeecat was two-fold: 1) when seen as coming from “Sid’s camp”, which WAS NOT stated in the leading questions that were asked (remember, Sid threatened – and probably still has in mind – a lawsuit), the nature of the questions became apparent; and 2) Frankeecat was never named. I would not have embarrassed someone publically like that, and it’s only because I keep all JUDY List related correspondence that I was able to verify my memory of Frankeecat having explained to me her friendship to Sid and her former relationship with Joe Luft.
As a last thought, I’d like to point out one thing. Sssteve Sssanders was personally affected by the success of this movie, but has enough class to keep his opinions (whatever they are…he’s never told ME!) to himself. Thanks for reading this far.
The above illustrates some of the pressure Harris was under as the List’s moderator. He couldn’t make everyone happy and was no doubt getting emailed in private by a ton of Listers. Those emails couldn’t have sat well on his slowly cracking psyche. From his comments above it would seem that whoever received advance copies of the miniseries did not like it at all and said so, hatefully, then complained to him that he wouldn’t let their “review” go through to the List. The List had become a full-time job for Harris, or at least a part-time job. He had to read and approve/deny every single post, and they came in droves after the miniseries aired.
I don’t know exactly what Harris meant when he said that Steve Sanders was “personally affected by the success of this movie.” My guess is that since Sanders was close to Sid Luft (Garland’s late husband, Lorna’s father) it probably wasn’t good. Or perhaps Sanders thought its success would help push along his own book about Judy’s TV series to the movie stage. Sanders wrote the marvelous “Rainbow’s End” that focused on Judy’s 1963/64 TV series and is still one of the best Garland books ever written. One Lister mentioned the same thing in the next digest, hoping that Sanders’ “AMAZINGLY AMAZING ‘Rainbow’s End’” would be filmed. Harris echoed the sentiments of many Listers when he mentioned the hope that the success of the miniseries would green light other Garland projects, including Sanders’ book. Sanders himself claimed that the book was still on track for the big screen via producer & director Oliver Stone.
One person who was definitely not happy about the miniseries at all and made it very well known was Sid Luft. It’s unknown if Luft (Lorna) actually cared what her father thought about the miniseries but an article published in USA Today on February 28, 2001, purported to know.
02/28/2001 – Updated 09:12 AM ET
Garland ex hates TV bio
By Arlene Vigoda, USA TODAY
Judy Garland’s third husband hated Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows.
Judy Garland’s third husband, Sid Luft, hated Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows, which aired Sunday and Monday on ABC. “There were so many lies in that movie and believe me, I should know because I was there,” he told USA TODAY on Tuesday from his Brentwood, Calif., home. “I never mismanaged Judy’s money. We always had a business manager. When we chose to dissolve our relationship, as far as me managing her, we owed the IRS $14,000, and that’s peanuts, and it was cleared up in a manner of minutes.”
Luft also is upset with daughter Lorna Luft, upon whose memoirs the movie was based. They haven’t spoken in three years. “The book that Lorna wrote is about her trials and tribulations of growing up. All of a sudden, there’s a miniseries and suddenly it turns into a ridiculous biography of Judy Garland,” says Luft, 85, who was married to Garland from 1951-1965. “Lorna was only 15 when her mother died, so what the hell did she really know about what went on?”
As for why the two are estranged, Luft says he’s not quite sure. “We had lunch three years ago and she asked if she could use some photographs for the book,” he says. “I told her to send me a copy of the book. She didn’t and, long story short, she took the photographs without my permission. That was the last time I ever heard from her.”
Says Luft: “It’s Lorna’s place to call her father. If she doesn’t want to talk to me, that’s her problem. I’m very charming.”
Lorna Luft’s publicist, Rene Ridinger, said Tuesday that Lorna doesn’t care what her father thinks. She said Lorna showed half-sister Liza Minnelli a five-minute trailer of the movie and Liza told her, “Mama would be very proud.”
What did he think of Judy Davis’ portrayal of his ex-wife? “She’s a capable actress, but nobody that will ever live will be able to capture Judy Garland,” he says. “What was ludicrous was seeing a 45-year-old actress wearing a ridiculous fright wig and playing Judy at 22.”
Nor did Luft like actor Victor Garber’s depiction of him. “He doesn’t look like me or talk like me. I’m still very masculine,” he says proudly. “I still have a 34-inch waist and all my hair and all my marbles and a 52-year-old wife who’s a flight attendant.”
Whether Luft really cared what her father thought of the miniseries or her book is immaterial. What’s fascinating is that she and her husband would care at all about the comments and actions of the Garfans and Garfreaks on The Judy List. Yet the List was important enough for them to monitor and interact with. Perhaps they didn’t want to alienate the purchasers of current and future Garland or Garland-related products that they had stakes in. Luft was peddling her show “Songs My Mother Taught Me” (or as I call it, “Songs My Mother Sang Better”) in which she sang the Garland songbook for the first time. She wouldn’t want to alienate the core audience. I witnessed some of that core audience when I saw her in 2005. A couple of Garfreaks were in the front row of the small cabaret venue and loudly overreacted to everything she did in a very hysterical way. It was disconcerting and embarrassing to witness.
The heyday of the List was before the rise of social media as we know it today meaning the playing field was much smaller than it is now. Now there are dozens, if not more, Facebook groups & pages devoted to Judy Garland, Twitter accounts, Yahoo & Google groups, Instagram pages, Pinterest boards, etc. In 2001, there were very few social media outlets because “social media” didn’t really exist. Yahoo & Google Groups were just beginning. The Judy List was still the most prominent and popular of the Garland discussion forums. Perhaps Luft and Freeman saw it as important because they assumed it would go on for a long time as their main vehicle for reaching the fans. It didn’t. In less than two years it would be gone.
Garland hagiographer and resident List “Judy Expert,” John Fricke, (seen at left) stayed silent for most of the miniseries discussion. This was unusual as he was quite vocal on almost all topics, sometimes sane sometimes not. Just as would happen a decade later when he made his way to “he Judy Garland Message Board, many List members eventually began to either temper their posts, or just not post all, out of fear of his seemingly endless correcting of people on all minutia with, as time wore on, an increasingly impatient or condescending tone. Once he rid the List of his main competitor, the late Scott Schechter (see The Judy Garland Wars – Scott Schechter), and Garland authors Rita Piro and Gerald Clarke (both of whom he disapproved of), the List became, in a sense, the “John Fricke – Steve Sanders Show.” Like Fricke, Sanders was an author (the aforementioned book about Garland’s TV series). He had “Judy cred.” He was the List’s resident expert on Judy’s TV series and was Fricke’s good friend. Between the two of them, and to a lesser degree the late (also Garland book author) Al DiOrio, they dictated the tone and direction of the List’s daily digests.
However, unlike the now-defunct The Judy Garland Message Board and the near-dead The Judy Garland Experience Yahoo group, there was a growing number of members who objected to the preferential treatment that Harris was giving to the “experts” and they were not afraid to voice their objections. Because of this, and other reasons, the List was beginning to be too much for Harris to handle if not physically then certainly emotionally. This was a pattern that would be repeated in the ensuing years with other forums: Fricke would join a discussion forum and things would slowly change with the result that, with one exception, the forum would eventually die out and disappear. Even that one exception is on its last legs. The most recent example is when he joined The Judy Garland Message Board and immediately went after his latest nemesis, Lawrence Schulman. Originally, Fricke avoided the message board due to Schechter’s involvement but after Schechter died in 2009 he eventually had a change of heart. Fricke immediately joined his former adversary and new buddy Daniel Berghaus (who runs the Yahoo group The Judy Garland Experience of which Fricke is the star member and who also goes by the online personas “Buzz Stephens” and “clothedambition” among other) in ridding the board of Schulman. It was painfully obvious to most board members just what their motives were. See “Babes in Biasland” for an example of how Berghaus’ hatred of Schulman gets in the way of his sanity.
In a nutshell (more on this debacle later), Berghaus (seen at right) had been a member of the board for a couple of years but rarely contributed. When Fricke joined suddenly Berghaus became very active. Berghaus harbored a huge grudge against Schulman for mentioning his Yahoo group in a negative light in an ARSC Journal article (read that article here) a few years prior. It got to the point where not only did Schulman leave the board, but I did as well and I was one of the founding members and a moderator (the message board having begun as a sister site to The Judy Room in 2005). Consequently, the tone of the board changed to the extent that quite a few people emailed me privately to vent their frustrations, fearing to post anything because of Fricke’s attitude. As a result, the board became a bore. Part of the decline was due to the Fricke factor but the main reason for its decline was that Facebook and other social media sites had taken over. Message boards were obsolete. Several years after the “coup,” as it were, The Judy Garland Message Board” would be gone.
Getting back to The Judy List in 2001 and the miniseries, it’s my opinion that Fricke was silent about it for two reasons: He had to share the TV Guide writing duties with the magazine’s staff writer Margie Rochlin; He was a silent member of the “Judy Garland Heir’s Trust.”
I’m not the only person who has noticed over the years, whether back in The Judy List days or more recently, that not only does Fricke seem to have an unhealthy and insatiable hunger for constant ego-stroking, but he will say negative things about all Garland projects that he’s not a part of (in one way or another), whether justified or not. Back in February 2001, Listers were careful to not mention Rochlin’s contributions for fear of opening another can of worms. In the issue, her article came first, his article came second. I’m sure he would have preferred to have all of the article space. He was silent about Ms. Rochlin probably because he didn’t want to jeopardize possible assignments with TV Guide in the future.
The bogus “Heir’s Trust” was allegedly comprised of Judy’s heirs, Liza Minnelli and Lorna & Joe Luft. Fricke initially downplayed his role with the Trust. Giving his opinion (good, bad, or otherwise) of the miniseries would possibly run the risk of ruining his association with the Trust on one hand and alienating possible purchasers of his Garland product on the other. For those who don’t remember or weren’t around at the time, the late 1990s and early 2000s were the years in which Fricke was the go-to-Garland-guy for the liner notes of the Rhino Records soundtrack CDs of Judy’s films and the Warner Home Video Garland VHS tapes and DVDs. In this respect he, Luft, and Freeman were alike.
It appears that the last time Colin Freeman addressed the List directly was a quick clarification (sent to Harris to post) on the question of whether Judy’s daughter, Liza Minnelli (and Luft’s half-sister) had a stroke:
From: “Colin Freeman”
Date: Mon, 5 Mar 2001 19:08:23 -0800
To: “Mark Harris” <email@example.com>
Contrary to what was published in the NY post, Liza did not have a stroke. Nor did Lorna ever say that she did. So where they got that from who knows? She is in hospital preparing for back and hip surgery.
I don’t know for sure. I wasn’t around for the last year or so of the List’s existence. Once the drama over the miniseries and Freeman’s comments hit, it was the beginning of the end of Harris’ control over the list and, to a certain degree, his sanity as I would soon discover.
In May 2001, Mark Harris dramatically reported that someone was trying to hack into and destroy the List’s bulletin board system (BBS) and the general site itself. The BBS was a separate feature of the List’s website. It was a discussion forum but was browser-based and not a daily digest of emails/posts sent to members. Harris went ballistic. He first targeted Lawrence Schulman as the person whom he claimed was trying to bring the site down.
He became obsessed with Schulman and said all kinds of nasty things about him. Schulman was not from California and did not have an ISP (Internet Service Provider) based there but because the person doing the alleged “hacking” went my Schulman’s name, he blamed him. On May 9, 2001, Harris posted a long rant blaming Schulman, titled “The Shulman Affair.”
Around this same time, I was having what I assumed was a private argument with Harris via email. One of the members of the list attacked me about something I had posted. I responded to the “flamer” (as we called those types back then) but Harris wouldn’t let my response go through. I called him on it and told him he wasn’t being fair and was again playing favorites. I soon discovered that due to the recent events surrounding the miniseries and the alleged site hacking, he was not in the right frame of mind to engage in yet another argument with another disgruntled Lister. We argued back and forth a little bit. He gave me the song and dance that would be repeated years later by the equally erratic and twice as nasty Berghaus which was, in a nutshell, “It’s my sandbox” and in Eric Cartman fashion, “I do what I want.” Harris’ exact words to me were, “You received an explanation when you first asked for one. The explanation was that I didn’t owe you and explanation.”
Harris then took things a step further. On May 11, 2001, in a very long post, Harris announced that Schulman had proven to him that he was in Europe the whole time and could not have been this alleged perpetrator in California. Without any proof at all, he announced that I was the perpetrator. Say what? He reiterated that the ISP address of the perpetrator was from California and that I “made a point of telling us all he moved to last year.” Back in 2001, it wasn’t as easy to pinpoint an ISP as it is now (unless you worked at the ISP company). Whoever was allegedly doing this had, according to Harris, a California ISP “in the San Francisco area” which could have been anywhere in the very immense Bay Area (where I lived). Harris, being from a rather rural area in North Carolina, probably didn’t have any understanding of the size of the Bay Area let along California in general. Because he was angry with me, and because I was in “the San Francisco area,” he wrongly decided that I was the bad guy.
Among the “highlights” of his paranoic rant: He shared his fear that I would send him a mail bomb (!) with, “now all JUDY List members will be witnesses should I get blown to pieces by a mail bomb, something I would not put past Scott…”
In that same paranoia, he warned his “Listers” to beware of emails “from a ‘freebie’ email account that you don’t recognize” with attachments as they might “contain certain destructive computer viruses” sent by me. He claimed that two “Listers” had already “received such e-mails today.” He sure gave me a lot of skills I’ve never had. Mail bombs? Email viruses? Sorry, not me.
Whether Scott will have to continue to plagiarize content for his little website from jail or from home still remains to be seen. Although httpboards confirmed the origin of the address, whether or not charges are pressed is entirely up to them, since the hacking was done to THEIR servers. I certainly will co-operate fully with any legal proceedings that they may bring, and I’ll bet Lawrence Schulman will too. I certainly think an apology to me, to Lawrence, and to the entire list would go a long way towards it being forgotten, but I doubt Scott could bring himself to do that.
There was never any investigation, at least not of me because, again, this alleged BBS hacking wasn’t done by me. But much like his successor in the discussion forum world, Daniel Berghaus (of The Judy Garland Experience) would similarily claim, he was paranoid that people were out to get him. They both made claims about “the authorities” and “the police” being involved. That’s doubtful.
Using his own httpboards administrative account (thejudyroom.com, Scott’s web site, still without much *original* content, started an httpboards.com BBS shortly after The JUDY List BBS switched from InsideTheWeb to httpboards – surprise!), he was able to send administrative commands via CGI script to httpboard’s servers by substituting “judylist” for his own account name in the commands (revealing some pretty bad security holes on httpboards’ part), first deleting all posts and then posting very obscene messages about what private part of my body “my wife, my daughter, and my dog” were so fond of. And he signed all these posts “Lawrence Schulman”.
The Judy Room is a website, not an “httpboards administrative account” nor was/is it ever a BBS. I have no idea where that came from! To date, I still don’t have the knowledge or skillset to “send administrative commands via CGI script to [a] httpboard’s servers” although he appears to explain how part of that is done. A little too on the nose. Hmmmm. Regardless, it’s Greek to me! I’m good with web design, not codes and scripts. I also would never make obscene messages about his wife, daughter, or dog because everyone knew he was queer as a three dollar bill and lived alone. But, that paranoia of his really took hold.
Harris also seemed to conflate Hemphill and me. Harris stated, “Scott claimed that ‘everybody is afraid to post on The JUDY List’, and that’s why he started the imitation list on Yahoo.” Hemphill started JudyChat as an alternative to The Judy List. I never started any Yahoo Group. But it’s another example from his rant of his falsely attributing any and all real or perceived transgressions against him and his List to me.
Although Harris’s accusations in his May 11, 2001, post were false, to date there are still people out there who think that I really did try to take down his site. Again, for those out there who still think it’s true, I never tried anything like that at all. As far as I knew I was having a simple argument with someone. It’s flattering that he thought I had the technical knowledge (while also branding me a fool) to be able to achieve the intricate things that he claimed was happening, but it’s simply not true. Harris also stated that I had set up Schulman as a fall guy. Again, not true. We’re actually good friends! Below is Schulman’s acceptance of Harris’s apology.
I was shocked at the time because the accusation came from so far out of left field. It was my first experience as the target of the extreme Garfreaks which I would find out later was usually fueled by others behind the scenes. In hindsight, and knowing more of how this type of Garfreak operates, I believe I know why he targeted me.
Harris targeted me because he was pissed off about our argument. That’s obvious. But more than that, he was the type who must be “against” or in “competition” with someone or he couldn’t feel validated. This is a bizarre and quite unhealthy Garfreak trait that I would see more often in the ensuing years (most notably from the ring leader of “The Judy Garland Experience” Yahoo group). These are people whose entire identities and self-worth are wrapped up in their online personas and the resulting quasi-celebrity they believe they have as a result. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen claims by these people that a photo or audio file is the “official” version or that a YouTube video is “the best sound ever.” Add to that the fact that they will hunt people down and harass people over what a sane person would see as a minor slight if a slight at all. Considering the important-sounding titles that they give each other, it’s not surprising. The discussion list owners/moderators who are also Garfreaks fit this profile to a T. They tend to acquire a puffed-up sense of false importance. They’re in charge, the “king” of their group. Their online world becomes their reality, and they don’t like competition. My website had become very popular at this point so I was increasingly seen as major competition. Harris was certainly not the last person to target me out of jealousy. In the ensuing years, I’ve had to deal with Garfreaks and their crazy need to try to silence and destroy whatever is not “owned” or “approved” by them. It’s an aspect of the fringes of fandom that fascinates me because, as I see it, the Internet is big enough for all of us to play in. Social media has magnified this behavior a hundred times over. It’s also why I’m relaying this story here.
I believe Harris was simply delusional. There was never any sign on his site that I ever saw that anything was being hacked or destroyed. I didn’t read his BBS so I can’t speak to that although at the time of being accused I looked at it and it didn’t appear to be compromised. Harris had been acting erratically for a while so this latest come-apart wasn’t a huge surprise. He was also, so he claimed, on medication for depression and a heart condition that apparently didn’t sit well and seemed to be part of the cause of his paranoia. Perhaps he was making it all up? It wouldn’t be the last time a Garfreak made false claims based on paranoia.
Things proceeded to get nuttier. I told him he was wrong and to retract his accusations. He ignored me. Well, I should say he ignored my request. He made sure to tell me where I could go and how I could get there! He also, quite deviously, told everyone I had been banished from the List yet ensured I still got the daily digests, for a while. He wanted me to see what he was saying about me. The funniest was his breaking his own rule about no four-letter words (“If Judy didn’t use it in a movie then it’s not appropriate here” was his motto on that subject) when he said that I was “lower-than-whale-shit-in-the-bottom-of-the-ocean.” I found that to be quite funny. Most of the rest of what he said were garden variety Garfreak rants similar to what we see on Facebook today but that was funny!
He also played games. As he stated in his long accusatory post, “To further put him in his place, I started the conversation on the List with Steve Jarrett, asking what happened to his web site’s timeline, knowing fully well that Scott had appropriated Steve’s work without his consent and that that was the reason Steve had pulled all his work on his timeline from his site – why continue to provide Scott with free and uncredited content (which was later partially credited after Steve pressed the matter of plagiarism)? Steve and I purposefully did not mention any names. This exercise was just to remind Scott that it was known and remembered that his activities on the web were less than ethical, and to serve as a discreet warning that he’d better not carry through with his threats to “trash the JUDY List.”
Steve Jarrett was the webmaster of now-defunct “The Live Performances” website. What both of them seemed to forget was that I had gotten Jarrett’s permission to use “his” timeline information back in 1999. They also neglected to mention that the information was historical data that no one had any copyright to it.
Subject: Judy Timeline
From: Steve <XXX@deltacomm.com>
Date: Tue, 06 Jul 1999 02:14:14 -0400
> I want to make these the most complete timelines possible, so any
> help from everyone out there would be great!
Please, feel free to use any of the Timeline information you want off my site. The direct link is:
Or you can get to it from the “Table of Contents” page at the address listed below.
This was a one-two punch orchestrated by the two to try and muddy my name and the legitimacy of my site. I rolled my eyes. How childish can these Garfreaks get? As noted, I would find out later that this type of misconception and the creation of false claims around ownership of public domain information (in this case, common historical data), images, and audio is a trait of Garfreaks like Harris who will go out of their way to harass the alleged (in their minds) “attackers” of their “ownership.”
I must admit that early on in our arguing I unwisely allowed myself to briefly get sucked into his games. Sometimes we must learn the hard way. Instead of walking away, which I eventually did, I signed up for the List under a different email and posted inane questions to muddy the digests. That was stupid and immature of me. I was angry and hurt that he would accuse me of these things so I foolishly lashed out. After engaging in that for a bit I realized, “Why am I doing this? This is stupid. You big dummy you have better things to do with your time.” I deleted the email that Harris was secretly sending the digests to. He still made the “he’s trying to destroy my site” accusations after I left (so I’m told) but I didn’t see them. I focused on my real life and tinkering with and updating The Judy Room website.
I soon realized (and have said before) that the bigger and more popular my site became, the bigger the target on my back. That target is still there. All one needs to do is peek at the Facebook group run by Daniel Berghaus and a few of his equally delusional and squirrelly friends. They’ve been swiping at me for years now, although now they operate in the social media version of “talking behind someone’s back”: a private Facebook group of which the target is blocked from seeing anything – so really, what’s the point? I guess the point for them is, like all bullies, they think it makes them look important to their friends, or in this case, group members. From time to time I get screenshots sent to me of their latest rants and false accusations. Most of it is hysterical (to me), sometimes clever (for them), and always mean-spirited. These people are way too wrapped up in this stuff. I roll my eyes – a lot! I’m not alone though. I have lots of company on their hit list. So, no, I’m not as special as they make me out to be. More on that in the next chapters. To quote Garland as “Susan Bradley” in The Harvey Girls, “I must be getting somewhere, my friends and I, or a significant citizen like you could never be so very very worried [giggle].”
After I moved on, The Judy List didn’t last much longer. Not because I left, of course. Allegedly Harris became even more erratic and paranoid. In a final act of desperation and defiance, he abruptly and without notice took down the entire Judy List website. Everything was gone. All that remained was a single page that said The Judy List was gone and if anyone wanted to know why they could contact the three people he listed by name and email. I was one of the three. I sure got more than a few hate emails thanks to that! After all that time, that drama popped back up out of nowhere! I didn’t even know it had happened until I got an email from a stranger chastising me for being the cause of the demise of the site. No, I wasn’t and neither were the other two. We were just people he was mad at. He couldn’t let go. He kept his hatred to the bitter end.
Not long after his come-apart Harris was dead (July 27, 2002, to be exact). It’s a shame and very sad that anyone’s final months seemed to be so pathetic. But, we all aren’t “Dorothy” are we? Some people are the “Miss Gulch’s” of the world. Jarrett tried to resurrect the List by creating a private group on one platform before moving it to Google Groups where it resides today. It gets maybe one or two posts a month if that. As mentioned before, it, like Yahoo Groups, is a casualty of the social media revolution of the late 2000s. Once the Garfreaks made their way to social media their actions actually got much worse, even spilling out from the online world into real life.
Coming up: “Acolyte Sycophants”
© 2017 Scott Brogan, The Judy Room & Judy Garland News & Events
Back to Chapter Six – Scott Schechter (Part Two)
Continue to Chapter Eight – “Obsequious Sycophants” (coming soon)