Goodbye, Evening Star. Goodbye, Crunchland.

Wow, two endings of note:

1. After eight years, The Joe Chiocca Band has lost its standing weekly Monday gig at The Evening Star Cafe in Alexandria. I have played there on and off with the band for many years, and steadily for the last nine months or so, but we knew the end was coming. We weren’t drawing well, and the restaurant (which has many new neighborhood competitors) doesn’t seem to pack ’em in like it once did. That’s a bad combination and it’s led to changes.

We still think we’ll play there once a month on Mondays, but that has yet to be determined. I have to hope The Evening Star isn’t in deeper trouble — it really is a wonderful place.

2. Crunchland is no more. It says so right on the website. It’s existed — first as a computer bulletin board, then as a web message base — since 1991 and its departure makes me profoundly sad.

I met many friends through Crunchland, and a couple of them introduced me to the woman who became my wife. I was known among the regulars as the Crunchland Senior Citizen — the person who had been on the site the longest, having first logged on to the old bulletin board within a couple of months of its inception. I still proudly display my two Crunchland bowling tournament trophies (and my wife has a ‘Most Pins Missed’ trophy as well). The original George Bush was president when I first logged on.

But Crunchland always struggled in the Web era. The ‘real life’ social interaction events and parties that were at the heart of Crunchland faded over time, as the regulars got older, got married, became parents and just moved on with their lives. The end came with no warning, no announcement, no way to contact anyone, just a black screen at the old familiar url.

Crunchland deserved better. When the old computer bulletin board was eliminated, the regulars got together, put the old servers in a pile and set them on fire. We don’t get together any more, though, so a black screen will have to do.



  1. Sorry to hear about the Evening Star gig. If the monthly thing happens, let me know. I would like to make it down there sometime, now that I’m actually going places.

  2. At first I was fairly angry — this seems like a fairly petulant way to close down something that’s been around for that long — but at the end of the day, nobody was visiting there any more and DSF had gone above and beyond any reasonable call of duty by just keeping it running for so many years.

  3. We could try to burn the Crunchland web server, but I don’t think the ISP would appreciate it. Yeah, no one is more disturbed about this than I am … Sorry it made you angry the way I handled it. We both know I’ve spent the better part of my tenure running the board by pissing people off. Would it have been better if I gave you a few days/weeks warning? Do you think it would have made any difference?

    I had initially tried moving it onto Facebook, but got some complaints. Bill thought it was better just to pull the plug instead of diminishing it to a Facebook community. In the end, I agreed — but I wasn’t completely happy about it. Running the site for as long as I had, I had more of my identity wrapped up in it than even the seniorist of its citizens. It was killing me to see it whither away, with no new users, no new messages, and only spammers trying to break the login.

    I’ve contemplated offering the domain name to any long-time users who want to have a go at it. Let me know if you’re interested.

  4. I’m in shock. I had stopped by the other day to add a photo to the “politicians making gestures with their fingers” thread, when I realized that The Times had switched out the one I wanted to contribute and it was no longer available.

    Then today I went to read the messages and just got the screen saying “Crunchland is no more.” It’s very disconcerting, but I should have realized that all those posts reminiscing about the past were like a suicide note. In retrospect, you can always see the signs. In retrospect.

    I am so sorry I was unable to attend the gathering last December. I had second degree burns on my stomach and lap (long story) and I was uncomfortable in anything but the loosest of clothes. But now I wish I had gone wrapped up in a sheet if I had to. The thought that I will never see some people again… that I don’t get to see how much the Crunch-kids ™ have grown in the past year.

    Living in Maryland, I was never one of the “cool kids.” Not like the Virginians, who visited each other and kept in touch socially. But Crunchland meant a lot to me. It was the first BBS I found when I moved to Maryland from Philadelphia, and I knew nobody in the area. I had found a group of people I enjoyed sharing messages with, and playing games with, and sniggering when they said “rutabaga.” My first birthday after I moved to the area was a pizza party in DC, and my only guests were Crunchlanders.

    I am bereft. In mourning. And feeling somewhat lost.

  5. I probably should clarify a little: Sure, I was upset for a bit when I saw the Crunchland black screen, but in all honesty, it’s hard to be very upset when I think of all of the work (with little payoff) that DSF has put into it for many years. At some point, you just pull the plug.

  6. I wasn’t surprised at all that the website is gone. I mean, it’s been kind of dying down for a while now. What I thought was weird was when the facebook page disappeared. I wasn’t a member, but I did look at it from time to time.

    I’m sure that punkie is finally throwing that victory party.

    The “diminishing” argument seems valid, but it strikes me as extreme. I just can’t see the harm in a facebook group– especially one that consists of actual friends who you may want to hear about from time to time (as opposed to those endless “fan” pages that send out annoying updates all the time. I joined a couple and then unjoined them pretty quickly).

    Anyway, if I had a vote (and I probably don’t, but I’m voting anyway), I’d vote to put the facebook page back up. I can friend any of y’all, but it would be really nice to see all the names in one place. We don’t even have to call it the “crunchland” page, if that somehow hurting the old site’s symbolic value.

  7. Well, anyone can create a group. I’ve been the cruise director for 15 years. It would be nice for someone else to step up to the plate.

  8. Well I thoroughly enjoyed my time on crunchland, although I have to admit to using it less and less over the last few years. Many thanks are owed to DSF for managing to keep it alive for as long as he did, no easy task with no little effort.

    Living in the UK I didn’t know anyone on Crunchland as such, and to be honest, as much as I’m sad to see the name die (and it certainly was a shock to see the site suddenly leap to facebook, and then the Sopranosesque black screen) I don’t see me making use of a facebook group, although I do hope that you all find some way of keeping in touch.

    So long, it has indeed been fun!

  9. FYI, I have established a Crunchland Alumni Society on Facebook. Search for ‘Crunchland’ and you should be able to find it. It’s an open group, so joining should be no problem.

  10. Wow. I hadn’t really thought about it, but I was logging in on a 1200 baud modem in the early 1990’s. Wow.

    Attended a few weddings. Never had to attend a funeral. Ate some of God’s Own Brisket & BBQ (I hope to get that good some day). Inhaled toxic fumes when the old Crunchland burned. Played poker in the sketchy basement storage area of suburban office building (sorry DSF). Fragged my friends in QuakeFest.

    And yet I never did get around to learning how to build my own page there, and behind firewalls all day I never find myself sitting down in front of a computer at home to check in.

    Long live Crunchland – it may be gone, but its legacy of friendships and the marriages and children it spawned will outlive it. Thanks to DSF & Cp’n for doing it. Cheers ~ spinman

  11. > I’m sure that punkie is finally throwing that victory party.

    Gigi, I don’t think that’s very fair.

    No, I did not celebrate CLand’s demise, because after that whole… whatever it was… I left. Those responsible eventually made amends, paid their dues, and they were a stark minority or chuckleheads to the vast collection of decent times I had on there. I don’t think those responsible were representative of Crunchland or Mr. Faris as a whole. As others have said, Dave did his best, paid a LOT of his own money and headaches, to keep it going as long as it did.

    I harbor no ill will to anyone there anymore. 18 years is like, forever on the Internet.

    As a whole, the whole Crunchland BBS experience was a 4 out of 5 Pantlegs. 😀

  12. OMG! Crunchland is no more? No one told me. Where will I go to play Popwords or get a file crack?

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