You’re on the PLA Book Companion Page, so you must have either purchased or pirated the PLA book. If you haven’t, you should buy the PLA book. On this page you’ll learn a little history behind each of the chapters that are found in the PLA book. You’ll be directed to links, videos, pictures, sound clips and other things that are related to each of the stories. So let’s get started…
The Book Cover: The pay phone in the picture was located at Albany, Oregon’s main post office and was taken in August 2010. You can see a picture of it here, from my Pay Phones of Albany photo album. Several days after taking the photo, I went back to the post office to take more pictures of it while I wasn’t wearing a bright orange shirt so that there wouldn’t be so much orange reflected in the phone, but the pay phone had been removed. Since that was the last outdoor Qwest owned fortress phone in Albany that I knew of, I gave up on taking a new picture. People have complained that I should have cleaned up the phone before taking pictures of it, but I preferred a pay phone in its natural state, which means that it would be dirty and have fingerprints all over the front of it.
The back of the book is supposed to look like one of those advertising frames that you see in pay phone booths and stands. I tried taking a picture of a real one, but the frames were always too dark. I looked all over Portland, Oregon for a silver frame to photograph, but could only find black frames. When I couldn’t make a real picture work, I created my own frame in Photoshop, using the silver from a pay phone stand. I had similar problems trying to photograph the metal with holes that you find around pay phones, so I ended up using an image that I paid some website $7.00 for.
Foreword by Rob Vincent: Rob T Firefly, known by some as Rob Vincent, recounts his personal history of being a phone-obsessed weirdo and tells us how PLA impacted his life a little along the way. Rob is a long-time friend of the PLA and has written for the original PLA ‘zine, recorded PLA songs and has even spoken at a couple of PLA panels during the HOPE conferences in New York. His website at robvincent.net has all kinds of art, music and other things by him.
Leaving: This chapter is complete fiction. It’s from an earlier incarnation of what was supposed to be the PLA book, where the entire book would be a single story based on characters and themes from past PLA stuff. I gave up on that soon after realizing how much I sucked at writing stories. It was originally written in the early 2000’s, based on the constant fear I had during the 90’s while trashing alone that a garbage truck would show up and kill me.
Dino and His Cordless Phone: The classic story of a man using his cordless phone. Zak and RBCP spend a single night harassing Dino and listening to his reactions over a police scanner as he calls his wife and other people to tell them what’s happening. This chapter is based on PLA issue #14 and was originally written in January of 1995, the day after the events took place. Every word of the story is true. You can click on the quotes below to hear Dino speak them.
“Don’t have people calling my fuckin’ house!”
Fun With Call Forwarding: Loosely based on PLA issue #19, this chapter details all the crazy things a person can do with the phone company’s call forwarding features. Read about the confusion caused at the phone company by forwarding calls, practical jokes we’ve played and our bizarre call forwarding experiments. All of the events in this chapter are true.
Credit Card Fraud: From flying around the country to staying in hotels to satisfying my material needs, there’s not a lot I didn’t try with other people’s credit cards in the 1990’s. Find out how it all began to how it all ended, from the free stuff to the busts that ended it all. This chapter is based on PLA issue #24. All of the events in this chapter are true. You can read about the travel agency bust and see my mug shot on my homepage.
Remote Overhead Paging: Years ago it was possible to call into any Fred Meyer store in the country and take over the overhead paging system remotely. Once you were connected, you could stay on as long as you wanted to, saying whatever came to your mind for all the shoppers and employees to hear. This chapter is based on PLA issue #25. All of the events in this chapter are true.
Automated Harassment: Tired of pouring my own time and energy into making harassing calls to people, I completely automated the process by setting up a few websites to do the work for me. This chapter is based on issue #19 of the United Phone Losers ezine. The original idea of automating the process of harassment came from the Boulder News Frenzy incident, which is detailed in a later chapter.
Listening to Cordless Phones: After chasing off all the cordless phone users in my neighborhood with prank calls, I begin assembling a new cordless phone community by giving away cordless phones to all of my neighbors. The overall story is fake, but the bits about harassing cordless phone users is mostly true. PLA Radio Episode #15 has some sound clips of the old man from the turquoise polka dot jacket incident.
The idea of buying cordless phones for all of my neighbors comes from PLA Issue #45, where you’ll notice many similarities. I really did chase off all the cordless phone users in my neighborhood by making prank calls to them. I was kind of sad by their absence and thought about doing some of these things to generate new cordless phone users, but never did.
History Lesson: Detailing the history of the Phone Losers of America, this chapter tells you how it all began and how far its come over the past two decades. Read the PLA Issues, the PLA History page, and our Phone Mobbing page. Here is a link to our toaster/CB radio/drive-thru prank. And here is our video for the free money from pay phones prank.
Homelessness: I spent a lot of time sleeping on sidewalks, in parking lots and in bushes in between my flights around the country. This chapter is completely true and is based a little on my Travels page and a lot on a post I made in 2007 about being homeless.
Wacky Morning DJ: The story of a certain morning radio DJ who had the misfortune to have RBCP as a listener. This chapter is true, but I changed all of the names and locations in hopes that the DJ won’t sue me. It’s all based on episode #14 of PLA Radio. In that episode, you can hear a few sound clips of “Skippy” and the other staff. Much of the material was left out of that episode because I didn’t know how to translate the events into interesting audio, so it was nice to be able to use the book to tell the full story.
7-Eleven Looting: One thing leads to another during the night shift at 7-Eleven and the next thing you know, we’re stealing all of money from the safe and fleeing the state. This story is all true. It’s mentioned briefly on my Travels page, but gets more detail on this page. You can click here to view the newspaper’s police log from the next day or listen to episode 7 of Brad’s Cactus Shack to hear me read the police report from the incident.
Red Boxing: Since red boxing is such a relevant topic in today’s world, it only makes sense that an entire chapter be devoted to this subject. The PLA’s redboxing page (which is based on issue #2 of the PLA ‘zine) has a lot of instructional information and pictures of red boxes. The free AT&T checks stuff comes from issue #6. You can see a picture of the red box disguised as a Walkman here.
Taking Revenge Too Far: A few simple acts of revenge turn into a full-time job for RBCP and Zak. Read about the victim who endures daily torture for years. This chapter is based on PLA Issue #3 and is mostly true, but I’ve taken a few events we’ve done to other people and applied them to the Chris McCall story. The PLA issue originally used the sample name of Darin McCall, who was a BBSer that Chris Tomkinson and I used to harass. By the time PLA was born, Zak and I were harassing Chris Tomkinson, so I changed the sample name to him. Chris Tomkinson is the person who endured most of the torture from us.
The PLA’s press page shows an article from the Belleville News Democrat, which interviews Chris’ dad and he mentions us checking out videos under Chris’ name, but that never actually happened – he must have been thinking about the fake call we made to Chris from the video store. Chris never returned Zak’s video game, but he did buy me a CD to make up for the cassette he stole from me. This was before we’d started harassing Chris, though. There was never an official end to the harassment, like in the story. We just kind of slowly lost interest in him. The cassette Chris stole from me was….no, I can’t admit to that. Forget I said anything.
Big Larry: He didn’t think anything would happen when he stole food from other residents of the house he was living in. Read about how wrong Larry was. This story is all true. A few sound clips of Larry’s phone calls can be heard on the Big Larry page. You can also see pictures of the house we lived in and a picture of Larry’s car. Sadly, we have no pictures of Big Larry.
eBay Pranks: RBCP’s eBay feedback has been featured on Fark, countless morning radio shows, and even in a book about eBay. Read the feedback and some of the other pranks pulled on eBay users. My eBay page has links to the actual eBay account and has even more pictures of postcards that I sent to people.
McDonald’s Sign Prank: A wooden sign in the parking lot of a McDonald’s becomes the victim of a prank by someone with too much time on his hands. This page has more pictures of the sign construction and a sound clip of me calling the McDonald’s manager.
Boulder News Frenzy: How a national-murder case became the focus of the PLA for over a year, resulting in the closure of a major newspaper’s online forums. And how, 10 years later, this resulted in RBCP being the focus of one man’s murder investigation. Our Boulder News Frenzy page has an archive of the posts during the initial year of harassment. Somewhere there is a clip of Spessa’s call to Jameson, but I don’t know where it would be. Read all about Richard Cardo on this page.
Beige Boxing Celina: A few dozen phones lines are taken over and evil things are done with them. Nothing in this story is true, other than me living above some businesses in Celina, Ohio and spending every waking minute on Alliance teleconferences and party lines. The story is based on issue #15 of the PLA ‘zine and 2600 magazine printed it in their Spring 1996 issue. It was also one of the stories selected for their book called The Best of 2600.
Finding A Job: Have you ever wanted a job so badly that you spent months harassing all the other employees into quitting, just so a position would open up? Find out if driving convenience store employees insane, one by one, and causing thousands of dollars in damages in the process will actually work. This story is not true in any way. It’s based on issue #8 of the PLA ‘zine, but instead of reprinting the list, I made a story around it.
Yellow Pages Prank: Have you ever had someone send a pizza to your house? What if they took that prank and completely crossed the line with it, scheduling hundreds of businesses to show up at your door, all at the same time. We never did this, but I always wanted to. We planned out the event on Cal’s Forums, thinking we might actually try it, but never got around to it.
Curtis The Superhacker: The short story of Curtis Lee Jones and the events that took place in the early 2000’s. You can listen to the sound clips of Curtis on our CLJ Multimedia Fun Page for Kids. There’s a song about Curtis called Play The Game, which you can listen to here.
Back: This story is complete fiction. When I wrote the beginning chapter, I always envisioned Doug coming back to Alex near the end of the story, very similar to how Cosmos came back to Martin in the movie Sneakers. There are quite a few references to Sneakers in this chapter. Trevelyn’s red boxing program for Android is real and you can find it in the Android market. Trevelyn is the reason this chapter exists – he insisted that the “Leaving” chapter be included, so I wrote this one so that the first chapter would make a little more sense. It’s a good way to wrap up a book about 20 years of stories, having the two characters from 20 years ago settle their differences.
My rants about finding a red boxable pay phone in Albany are based on trying to find a red boxable pay phone in Albany. Some of the stories about my past with pay phones are from my Pay Phones Are Doomed article from 2008. All of the reminiscing stuff is true. The post office pay phone that Alex uses is the same pay phone from the book’s front cover. You can see a picture of it here, from my Pay Phones of Albany photo album. Since that pay phone has been taken down, I’m fairly certain that there are no longer any red boxable pay phones in Albany.
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