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D Magazine profile of Barrett Brown, the self-claimed face of Anonymous
March 25, 2011 9:12 AM   Subscribe

Meet Barrett Brown, the heroin-addicted former journalist who's the self-proclaimed face of Anonymous. [previously]
posted by item (100 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Here's the Michael Isikoff NBC report that's referenced in the article.
posted by item at 9:12 AM on March 25, 2011


> self-proclaimed
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:14 AM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry dude, I am Spartacus.
posted by Jpfed at 9:16 AM on March 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


> self-proclaimed

That's what I said.
posted by item at 9:18 AM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


He's screwed.
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 9:18 AM on March 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


You know who else was anonymous? No, you don't.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:19 AM on March 25, 2011 [40 favorites]


He proclaimed that himself.
posted by fixedgear at 9:20 AM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I don't remember ever seeing someone's hunger for attention be this much of a death wish before.
posted by item at 9:20 AM on March 25, 2011


the face of Anonymous

……………………………………..________
………………………………,.-‘”……………….“~.,
………………………..,.-”……………………………..“-.,
…………………….,/………………………………………..”:,
…………………,?………………………………………………\,
………………./…………………………………………………..,}
……………../………………………………………………,:`^`..}
……………/……………………………………………,:”………/
…………..?…..__…………………………………..:`………../
…………./__.(…..“~-,_…………………………,:`………./
………../(_….”~,_……..“~,_………………..,:`…….._/
……….{.._$;_……”=,_…….“-,_…….,.-~-,},.~”;/….}
………..((…..*~_…….”=-._……“;,,./`…./”…………../
…,,,___.\`~,……“~.,………………..`…..}…………../
…………(….`=-,,…….`……………………(……;_,,-”
…………/.`~,……`-………………………….\……/\
………….\`~.*-,……………………………….|,./…..\,__
,,_……….}.>-._\……………………………..|…………..`=~-,
…..`=~-,_\_……`\,……………………………\
……………….`=~-,,.\,………………………….\
…………………………..`:,,………………………`\…………..__
……………………………….`=-,……………….,%`>–==“
…………………………………._\……….._,-%…….`\
……………………………..,< `.._|_,-&``................`\
posted by fuq at 9:21 AM on March 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


Anonymous is Admiral Akbar?
posted by mazola at 9:23 AM on March 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I would walk 500 miles
and I would walk 500 more
Just to be the guy who walked 500 miles
-- The Self-Proclaimers
posted by DU at 9:24 AM on March 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Anonymous

You're doing it wrong.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:26 AM on March 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


Anonymous would be a lot less effective if they all did heroin...
posted by Theta States at 9:26 AM on March 25, 2011


Wait, I thought it was Legion. I'm confused.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:27 AM on March 25, 2011


the heroin-addicted former "journalist"

so this guy a fern or what. heh did I call it...FERN.

And i dont trust anyone who arranges books in a disheveled pile.
posted by clavdivs at 9:29 AM on March 25, 2011


And i dont trust anyone who arranges books in a disheveled pile.

There are other ways to arrange books?

(Or, indeed, anything?)
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:31 AM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


My apartment is 22 square feet larger, and I never had an Ayn Rand phase, although I've read much of her work. Therefore, I self-proclaim myself the new face of anonymous. Does the job have health care?
posted by jardinier at 9:34 AM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


the heroin-addicted former "journalist"

Pity you can't rearrange one adjective and make it all right.

I've known my share of smack addicts. Not really the most trustworthy people I've known. Some of them were actually prone to fantasy and lying.

Between this guy and that scumbag Julian Assange, "journalism" is relying on some pretty dodgy heros.
posted by three blind mice at 9:37 AM on March 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


> who's the self-proclaimed face of Anonymous

...for the Huffington Post.
posted by ardgedee at 9:38 AM on March 25, 2011


I never had an Ayn Rand phase, although I've read much of her work.

For most sane people, reading her crap is about as long as an "Ayn Rand phase" lasts.

I never made it past the cover.
posted by three blind mice at 9:38 AM on March 25, 2011


That's a pretty photograph of the guy. Looks like it might even be staged in a studio, it's so well lit.
posted by crunchland at 9:39 AM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Full disclosure: I'm a (recovering) heroin addict (but not the self-proclaimed face of Anonymous)
posted by item at 9:40 AM on March 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am the self-proclaimed King of Spain, though.
posted by item at 9:41 AM on March 25, 2011 [12 favorites]


You're Sting?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:43 AM on March 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Guilty as charged - and I do mean guilty.
posted by item at 9:44 AM on March 25, 2011


Today maybe he's Anonymous. Tomorrow it'll be someone else.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:47 AM on March 25, 2011


He's either a CIA plant or a patsy, or just an idiot. In any case, anyone who claims to be the face of Anonymous is, by definition, not the face of Anonymous.
posted by doctor_negative at 9:48 AM on March 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am the self-proclaimed King of Spain, though.

Do you now eat Humble Pie?
posted by fixedgear at 9:49 AM on March 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


I’m on day four of withdrawals from opiates

lol
posted by Greg Nog at 9:52 AM on March 25, 2011


So about 1/3 of the way down the first page, where he explicitly says "I can't speak on behalf of Anonymous", is the part where I went from "is this guy trolling?" to "this guy is definitely trolling". And the part at the top of the second page where he explicitly contradicts himself and says "I am Anonymous" is the part where I started imagining a big trollface superimposed on his picture.

Congratulations, Barrett Brown, on getting a lot of people to talk about you without being able to actually say anything that's meaningful. 10/10.
posted by penduluum at 9:52 AM on March 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Uh, Mr. The Plague, uh, something weird's happening on the net."
posted by jardinier at 9:55 AM on March 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


No, he is not.

The logical fallacy that is the title of the article should have tipped them off, perhaps.
posted by Freen at 9:56 AM on March 25, 2011


Holy crap - he's using a netbook... Seriously? He had his picture taken with a netbook and he wants to be taken seriously?

Well, I guess that is the internet equivalent of getting the cheapest car you can and using it as an IED.
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:57 AM on March 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised heroin addicts have that much stuff in their apartments.
posted by rocket88 at 10:00 AM on March 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Do you now eat Humble Pie? -- You got moxie, kid. I like that.
posted by crunchland at 10:02 AM on March 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Holy crap - he's using a netbook... Seriously? He had his picture taken with a netbook and he wants to be taken seriously?

Why would he need more than a netbook? With the tech they're using, a decent internet connection is really all that's needed.

What did you expect? An iPad2?
posted by eyeballkid at 10:03 AM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm Brian and so is my wife!
posted by saucygit at 10:03 AM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Holy crap - he's using a netbook... Seriously? He had his picture taken with a netbook and he wants to be taken seriously?

Why would he need more than a netbook? With the tech they're using, a decent internet connection is really all that's needed.


Posted from eyeballkid's netbook.
posted by axiom at 10:07 AM on March 25, 2011


At least they're a lot more fun than the SDS and Weathermen.
posted by klangklangston at 10:08 AM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


"At least they're a lot more fun than the SDS and Weathermen."

Great thought - these cyberactivists are certainly part of that tradition. You can trace it from the port huron statement through SDS, Weathermen, the Hacker's Ethic right to Anonymous.
posted by jardinier at 10:10 AM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Netbook is great for when you have to hack from a payphone to turn all the red lights green or hack a gibson.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:12 AM on March 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


Having successfully trolled dmagazine, Barret Brown himself will be mercilessly trolled by the group he claimed to lead, solely because trolling dmagazine required that he give up the only identifiable characteristic of Anonymous: anonymity.

What awaits Barret Brown:

Anonymous loves cats. But Anonymous also hates that it loves cats, so it looks for gruesome scenes of cat death and torture. I've seen better guidance systems in shrapnel. The only identifiable mechanisms are a love of humbling the arrogant and a greater hate of attempts to game it. Anonymous is Lovecraft's shoggoth, sans master, unleashed upon, well, anywhere the Internet can reach: it's gibbering, it's protean, and if you are spared its appetite for flesh, it's because something shiny has distracted it.

via apodicare
posted by Freen at 10:12 AM on March 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


Did you ever hear of The Seattle Seven?
That was me.


And six other guys
posted by rocket88 at 10:13 AM on March 25, 2011 [12 favorites]


My favorite line of the whole thing:
"I’m doing all this gay shit. I’m jogging on the Katy Trail. I’m dating a girl. How gay is that?”
posted by Xoder at 10:14 AM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


The spokesperson of the silent majority is also not eponysterical.
posted by salishsea at 10:15 AM on March 25, 2011


Wait, this is the same guy who's peen posting all those silly AskMe's?
posted by not_on_display at 10:20 AM on March 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I really enjoyed the article from D; thanks, item, for posting it.

The writer did a fantastic job of showing how Brown is sort of like anonymous: a murky character who is undoubtedly a troll, but plausibly one catalyzed by an underlying set of morals and a desire to promote the greater good. Still, a troll. A likable troll. On drugs.

I want to find Tim Rogers and shake his hand.
posted by brina at 10:26 AM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


the heroin-addicted former "journalist"

Pity you can't rearrange one adjective and make it all right.


I agree, the OP should have used "journalist".

There are other ways to arrange books?

(Or, indeed, anything?)

yes, there is!
posted by clavdivs at 10:29 AM on March 25, 2011


"We witnessed, and continue to witness, other paradoxes. With nuclear energy whole cities can easily be powered, yet the dominant nation-states seem more likely to unleash destruction greater than that incurred in all wars of human history. Although our own technology is destroying old and creating new forms of social organization, men still tolerate meaningless work and idleness. While two-thirds of mankind suffers under nourishment, our own upper classes revel amidst superfluous abundance. Although world population is expected to double in forty years, the nations still tolerate anarchy as a major principle of international conduct and uncontrolled exploitation governs the sapping of the earth's physical resources. Although mankind desperately needs revolutionary leadership, America rests in national stalemate, its goals ambiguous and tradition-bound instead of informed and clear, its democratic system apathetic and manipulated rather than "of, by, and for the people."

-Port Huron Statement
posted by clavdivs at 10:33 AM on March 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


Oh man, couldn't resist going to the Dallas County Criminal Background Search page and plugging in this guy's name to see what popped up. Yep, possession of a controlled substance, resisting arrest - perhaps he'll end up like Icarus.

Everyone remembers Icarus falling out of the sky, but how many remember that - at least once - he also flew?
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:35 AM on March 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


-- The Self-Proclaimers

Dammit, now that song is going to be stuck in my head all weekend.
posted by the_artificer at 10:39 AM on March 25, 2011


Dammit, now that song is going to be stuck in my head all weekend.

It's the finallll countdoooowwwwwnnnnnn

You're welcome.
posted by nevercalm at 10:49 AM on March 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


when I watch the isikoff piece, I get a BoA ad. hilarious...
posted by headless at 10:50 AM on March 25, 2011


Between this guy and that scumbag Julian Assange, "journalism" is relying on some pretty dodgy heros.

Which says a lot about the state of journalism in 2011.
posted by slimepuppy at 10:54 AM on March 25, 2011


OK, so "face" is taken. Can I be the chest? Or genitals of Anonymous?
posted by Obscure Reference at 10:59 AM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man, Wes Anderson is going to be pissed when he finds out Anonymous is ripping off his characters.
posted by electroboy at 11:02 AM on March 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Or genitals of Anonymous?

YOU DO NOT WANT THIS. THAT WOULD BE VERY, VERY NOT GOOD.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 11:18 AM on March 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's the finallll countdoooowwwwwnnnnnn


That would have made me insane at one point but now it just makes me picture Gob emphatically gesturing a magic trick illusion and that makes me smile.
posted by Babblesort at 11:50 AM on March 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Just a small-town girl...
Livin' in a LOnely woor-oorld...
She caught the midnight train goin' ANNNN-EEE-WHERRRREEEE...

posted by grubi at 12:03 PM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


M M M M M Myyyy Sharona...
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:07 PM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought the face was Guy Fawkes.
posted by delmoi at 12:09 PM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


...and I am Marie of Roumania.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:10 PM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well you can tell by the way I use my walk,
I'm a woman's man; no time to talk...
posted by grubi at 12:13 PM on March 25, 2011


Everybody was Kung Fu figh-ting...
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:15 PM on March 25, 2011


I wanna know what loooove iiiiss....
I want you to shoooow meeeee...
posted by grubi at 12:17 PM on March 25, 2011


Actually a netbook would be a good idea for a black-hat hacker. You use it for a while, toss it, buy something else.

That would help you avoid "Advanced Persistent Threats" who might exploit your machine and install BIOS rootkits, after breaking through your six proxies of course.

You also wouldn't want to use your main machine in an interview. people were able to figure where Adrian Lamo was staying just based an image of his desktop during an Al Jazera interview.
posted by delmoi at 12:18 PM on March 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


We are the wooooorld....
We are the chil-dren....
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:19 PM on March 25, 2011


Sorry, delmoi. I got earworm all over your reasonable comment.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:21 PM on March 25, 2011


Actually a netbook would be a good idea for a black-hat hacker.

Yeah, having a clean, fresh new netbook would make me respect a black hat more. It makes perfect sense, especially in NYC or another big city. Someone could go to a cheapo Chinese electronics store, pay cash for a low-end netbook, reflash it, do their black-hat anony-mouse business, then fling the netbook into the East River. No sense using something nice.
posted by fuq at 12:27 PM on March 25, 2011


This guy is just a walking meat proxy.
posted by haveanicesummer at 12:29 PM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


This guy is just a walking meat proxy.

Good point. He's like an inverse avatar. A beVatar.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:34 PM on March 25, 2011


Leeeeeavin'...
On a Souuuuuthern train...
Onleee yesterdaaaaay...
You ligh-high-hiiiiighed...
posted by grubi at 12:41 PM on March 25, 2011


I'm all out of love, I'm so lost without you
I know you were right, believing for soooo looong...
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:51 PM on March 25, 2011


Aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh just wanna flyyyy
Putcha ahms aroun me baby
Putcha ahms around me baby
posted by grubi at 1:02 PM on March 25, 2011


Hmm, sounds like it may not be a netbook after all.
Second, Brown’s computer setup makes it tough to ride shotgun. His parents gave him a large Toshiba Qosmio laptop, but Brown used it to play video games before spilling Dr Pepper on the keyboard. It is out of commission. He does his work on a Sony Vaio notebook that’s so small it looks like a toy. Brown claims to have 20/16 vision, so the tiny screen doesn’t bother him, but Isikoff has to squint and lean in as Brown takes him on a tour of Internet Relay Chat rooms, or IRC, where Anonymous does much of its work. (I tag along, from my iPad in the kitchen, just a few feet away. When they enter a room where Anonymous discusses its operations in Libya, I type, “Say hi to Isikoff for me.” Isikoff: “Who’s that?” Brown, laughing: “That’s a writer I know.” As they click over to another room, I pop in again: “Isikoff is clearly a government agent.” So I don’t help, either.)
Sony makes some more powerful 'mini-laptops' that aren't in the netbook price range. Could be something like this. But that said, Sony sucks don't buy any of their crap.
posted by delmoi at 1:05 PM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dear nevercalm:

I hate you so much I've lost my superlatives.
posted by scrump at 1:05 PM on March 25, 2011


This is actually a somewhat interesting article.
posted by delmoi at 1:08 PM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm walking on sunshine, woooah...
And don't it feel good!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:08 PM on March 25, 2011


(I agree, delmoi - it is an interesting read.)
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:09 PM on March 25, 2011


Heh:
As Brown paces and recounts some of the highlights he’s amassed in just 29 years, it’s tempting to brand him as a fabulist. He’ll begin an anecdote with “I once had to jump out of a moving cab in Dar es Salaam.” But then he mentions that he went to Preston Hollow Elementary School with George W. Bush’s twin daughters. My mother taught the Bush twins at Preston Hollow. I tell him this, and he remembers my mother.

“I was the poet laureate of Preston Hollow!” he says. In third grade, he tells me, he used a phone in the principal’s office to order a pizza from Domino’s, which he had delivered to his classroom. He wasn’t trying to make trouble. He simply didn’t know there was a rule against ordering pizza. But his English teacher flipped, sent him to the principal’s office, where he was held in a sort of in-school suspension during which he wrote a poem about getting in trouble. “Ask your mother about me,” Brown says.

Later that night, I call my mother, who taught him art. “Do you remember a kid named Barrett Brown from Preston Hollow?”

“Barrett Brown? Oh, my God,” she says, instantly recalling an elementary student she taught more than 20 years ago. “I don’t remember them all. But I remember him. Yes, he was the poet laureate. I don’t have it anymore, but I kept that poem for years.”
posted by delmoi at 1:10 PM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


From what I've seen of /b/, he's got a shockingly large collection of porn.
posted by rtimmel at 1:10 PM on March 25, 2011


hahah:
He didn’t just break the rules. Again, he bragged about it—in a fashion. For the New York Press he wrote an anonymous story about an encounter in Hariz’s apartment with a girl who asked him to pretend to rape her on their first date. An excerpt:

“The date was going well even before it started going memorably, which was bizarre, as I gave off every warning signal as to my failures as a person, like having to share a coffee mug of vodka with the girl because I’d accidentally broken all the glasses in the apartment. At some point I actually made her look at this video game I was playing, called Dwarf Fortress, in which I pretended that I was some large number of dwarves, all living together in a fortress. Eventually she relented and we had sex, which was probably for the best.”
posted by delmoi at 1:17 PM on March 25, 2011


Dear nevercalm:

I hate you so much I've lost my superlatives.
posted by scrump


Sorry scrump, you were collateral damage...I was aiming for the_artificer with my cannon of musical greatness.
posted by nevercalm at 1:27 PM on March 25, 2011


Istanbul was Constantinople,
Now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople
Been a long time gone since Constantinople
Now it's Turkish delight on a moonlit night


That's for getting god damn Moxy Früvous caught in my head. From the grave I stab at you, Jian Ghomeshi!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:16 PM on March 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is the song that never eeeeennnnnds...
Yes, it goes on and on my frieeeeeends...
Somepeople! Started singing it! Not knowing what it was!
And they'll just keep on singin' it forever just because...

This is the song that never eeeeennnnnds...
posted by grubi at 2:24 PM on March 25, 2011


I found her diary underneath a tree.
And started reading about me.
The words she 's written took me by surpise.
You'd never read them in her eyes...
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:26 PM on March 25, 2011


More than a feeeeeeleeeeeng
When i hear that old song they used to plaaaay
I maybe dreeeeeeaaaaminnn
When i see Maryann waaaalk awaaaaay...
posted by grubi at 2:39 PM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whoooo let the dogs out (who, who, who?)
Whoooo let the dogs out (who, who, who?)
....
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:49 PM on March 25, 2011


It's raaaaainin' men!
Hallelujah, it's raaaainin' men!
posted by grubi at 2:51 PM on March 25, 2011


RE: the netbook.

Wouldn't it be easier (and cheaper) to format the drive every night and reinstall from a clean distro every morning?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 2:55 PM on March 25, 2011


Brown lives--or affects to live--the life of a William Gibson character: shady, aloof, enjoying the color of the gutter while never having been stuck to it; morally ambiguous but (seemingly) sincerely good hearted; half serious about everything and always alluding to "high friends in low places." I wonder how much of that affectation is genuine and how much of it is just glamour.

I've wondered that same thing about Tim Rogers before, and quite a number of people I've been close to. Something about that sort of personal atmosphere makes me uncomfortable; there's a thrill that accompanies mysteries and secrets, but sometimes with a certain kind of person there are so many consciously adopted layers of identity that I wonder if there's a center there at all or if all of this is a game played by a pile of clothes pretending to be human.

It's hard not to romanticize that feeling. There's a real allure to it--and trolling life is a delicate art--but also an unmistakable immaturity. It must be a generational thing. Something about the Bohemian Beat antihero stories resonates so much with us that we all want to grow up to live in them and it's hard to tell who are the real antiheroes and who are the Case-come-latelys anymore, except perhaps by how long they've been living in the twilit gloom.
posted by byanyothername at 3:03 PM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I want to find Tim Rogers and shake his hand.
It's a Tim Rogers article? Shoulda put that in the post. I love that guy.
I think I shook the OTHER Tim Rogers hand. Or at least he spit in my drink. Might have been Tex Perkins.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:05 PM on March 25, 2011


Standing above the crowd,
He had a voice so strong and loud and I
Swallowed his facade cuz I'm so
Eager to identify with
Someone above the ground,
Someone who seemed to feel the same,
Someone prepared to lead the way....
posted by clavdivs at 7:37 PM on March 25, 2011


missed ya flo
oh, cool CD title.

posted by clavdivs at 7:38 PM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


heh!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:11 PM on March 25, 2011


Right... and I'm D.B. Cooper.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 11:11 PM on March 25, 2011


Wouldn't it be easier (and cheaper) to format the drive every night and reinstall from a clean distro every morning?
Some malicious software can dig its hooks into the BIOS firmware of a computer. If you reformat the hard drive it's unaffected.
posted by tylermoody at 4:55 AM on March 26, 2011


Some malicious software can dig its hooks into the BIOS firmware of a computer. If you reformat the hard drive it's unaffected.

Has there ever been a real-world case of this? I've only heard about theoretical possibilities and proof-of-concept stuff.
posted by ymgve at 9:46 AM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Has there ever been a real-world case of this? I've only heard about theoretical possibilities and proof-of-concept stuff.

That you know of...
posted by delmoi at 2:15 PM on March 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Has there ever been a real-world case of this? I've only heard about theoretical possibilities and proof-of-concept stuff.

This is the kind of thing Gregg Hoglund is working on for HBGary, to sell to the government.
posted by scalefree at 8:24 PM on March 26, 2011


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