I was having a perfectly enjoyable lunch: a turkey and avocado sandwich on a croissant with a jumbo, ice-filed Arnold Palmer (Arnold Palmers for all my friends!), and John Prine and Iris DeMent singing "In Spite of Ourselves" mainlined into my head. That was when my friend The Tortuga sent a text. He directed me to Old Crow Medicine Show's Wikipedia page. I wasn't sure what the hubbub was about until I started reading. And reading. Reading some more. Then I got it. I didn't know I'd signed on to read the band's voluminous, ego-stroked, promotionally driven biography. The Tortuga is a tortured soul.
But he's right. OCMS' page rivals The Battle of the Alamo's Wikipedia page in scope and minutiae, though we'll save the argument about the cultural and historical significance of these two "artifacts" for another time.
I made it a quarter of the way down the page before I surrendered and just started scrolling -- I somehow missed Wikipedia's warning banner at the beginning of the article, or it possibly didn't appear on the device I first used to access the page. When my quest finally concluded at the page's "References," I scrolled some more.
There are 161 footnotes cited for OCMS' relatively short history.
Comparatively, there are 169 footnotes on the Alamo page, and that battle involved two completely different countries! For a more genre-specific comparison, The Who's page has 293 footnotes, but about half the content of the OCMS page. The Beatles have 367 footnotes and, not surprisingly, all the requisite content.
Why is OCMS so important?
Aristotle was the first to warn, "When the storytelling in a culture goes bad, the result is decadence." We live in a time of the eternal and overwhelming present. Everything is "now." If you read about sleep-deprived soldiers with PTSD, they describe a similar state of being. It's a not a great place to exist. What's interesting about our contemporary "present" is that there's no time for traditional narratives, stories with a beginning, middle and end. Our interaction with the world demands immediacy, and that immediacy doesn't leave time for plot.
In our narrative-less present, what better place to create your own instant comprehensive history than a Wikipedia page? What's even better is that your narrative can pull double duty by simultaneously acting as a thinly disguised promotional tool. Oh, fie for shame!
I have nothing against OCMS, but how long has this band been around? I refuse to re-scroll to the top of the page to find out. Okay, it's like 15 years or something, a good run, but still undeserving of such a glowing and comprehensive page, right? The overwhelming nature of their page suggests several things, a lot of them psychological, so let's see what we can conclude from the concrete evidence.
According to self-proclaimed "Serial Entrepreneur" Zeke Camusio (yes, that's his real name and "occupation," and, yes, he's as decadent as his name and occupation implies), Wikipedia is a great place to promote, as long as you follow the "rules."
Good ol' Zeke isn't exactly breaking any new ground here, but I think it's instructional to take his advice into consideration when analyzing Wiki pages; thus, the disclaimer/warning Wikipedia provides at the top of problem pages such as OCMS':
You might be thinking by now, "Who's responsible for all this stuff!" I know I needed to find out.
After perusing OCMS' revision-history pages, the most decadent contributor is Empirecontact -- he/she/it has contributed over 5,800 times to Wikipedia, and from the looks of it many of those contributions are to OCMS' page.
Super-fan? Paid promoter? I've decided I don't care. Sometimes the mystery is more beautiful than what the truth may hold. The obsessive and compulsive attention Empirecontact has showered on OCMS is fantastic and terrifying enough without an explanation.
The Tortuga's and my favorite Empirecontact contribution is a section devoted to the song "Wagon Wheel." Which is, according to footnote 89, "a catchy country-infused sing-along that has taken on the status of 'Free Bird'." That's not the best part. "Wagon Wheel" originally was an unfinished Bob Dylan song that OCMS' Ketch Secor adopted as a teenager and later turned into an anthem. Whew, all in a minute's work on a Wikipedia page.
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SHOW ME HOW
Wouldn't it be nice if we all had an Empirecontact out there writing our history? I don't know about you, but I'm in need of a new narrative.