Over the past week or so, we've roasted our former editor A.J. Daulerio, who has moved across the room to edit Gawker, the English-language newsletter of a Hungarian tech company. Some people who knew A.J., and some who didn't know him at all, were kind enough to send in their own tributes to the man.
First, a word from the Deadspin Hall of Fame Veterans Committee:
Fuck you. A.J.'s in.
Now, back to the roast.
Aileen Gallagher, Syracuse assistant professor and former managing editor of The Black Table:
AJ Daulerio sat next to me at our first "real job" in New York, at American Lawyer Media. We started on Monday, March 13, 2000. Sometime on Wednesday, March 15, AJ swiveled away from his monitor and spoke to me over the tiny partition between us. "Hey," he said, smiling that conspiratorial smile. "Did you figure out where the bathrooms are?"
And so began the storied career of A.J. Daulerio, Ace Reporter.
Nick H., neighbor:
I lived above Daulerio a few years ago in three unit rental in Brooklyn. He was generally alright in my book, especially because he smoked in our (non-smoking) building and it really pissed off our landlady, who is/was kind of miserable. However, the reason I am writing in is that about half-way through his tenancy our shower wasn't draining and after a healthy dose of ineffective Drain-0, I had to call in the aforementioned landlady for some professional help. After cleaning our shower piping to no avail she went down to check in on Daulerio's bathtub. When she entered his apartment she found no less than a foot of standing, gray water in his tub/shower. To sum up Daulerio bathes mid-shin in fetid water. Also we continued to get galley copies of shitty sports books for like 6 months after he left.
Dom Cosentino, Deadspinner:
When A.J. was at the Ambler Gazette in the late 1990s, he really wanted to work at a daily paper like the Times Herald of Norristown, where I was. When somebody quit and I got moved over to covering criminal courts, there was an opening. I put in a word for A.J., and he interviewed. Sometime afterward, I asked the managing editor about his chances.
"Oh, we're not going to hire him," she said.
"How come?" I asked.
"Well, one of the things he said was, 'What's with your facts?'"
"He thought we were way too into the who-what-when-where-why."
She had no idea what he meant by that. That was the late winter/early spring of 2000. He moved to New York a short time later. He was on his way.
Matthew O., reader:
Don't ask why, but I've got a copy of Daulerio's post-9/11 essay for his (and my) hometown newspaper the Ambler Gazette stashed in my files ("Ambler Man Refuses to Allow Attack to Chase Him Away from His Dreams," originally published 9/19/01).
Click to enlarge. It's worth it.
Brian Hickey, Deadspinner:
The first time I talked to this guy Daulerio was 2007. Didn't know him. Would be lying if I said I knew much of who he was. I was writing and manage-editing for the Philadelphia City Paper; he was blogging for Philadelphia Magazine. Relatively little overlap.
He called about a story a CP freelancer had done about some guy named Edgar Allen Poe who I believe he wrote a Simpsons episode about dioramas. The writer claimed Poe was Philly property. This infuriated folks in Baltimore who have absolutely nothing to be proud of other than David Simon and he took off for New Orleans.
It's a horrendous civic shitstain, Baltimore is.
Penn State's showers > Baltimore.
The Peacock brothers who kept their mother under the bed on the X-Files > Baltimoreans.
A Twitter stream comprised solely of Rovell dong pics with the Billboard R&B charts in the background > any conversation currently going on in Baltimore.
Anyway, the editor-in-chief asked me to take A.J.'s call. Not exactly sure why. But I know exactly what happened. When I talk to good people, I sense it instantly. I sensed A.J. was good people instantly. He told me that some Baltiskank columnist wrote a Philly bashing column re: the Poeassertion. I used the fuck out of him.
A.J.: Any response?
Hickey: "I'd expect nothing less from the syphilis capital of the universe."
A.J. had a closing quote for his "Baltimore Officially Declares Poe War" post and I had a hard copy of the Baltimore Sun that recycled the quote A.J. ran to send to my shitstain of a friend Larry who no longer has legs to stand on in the bigger-dirtbags, Philly vs. Baltimore debate. Victory was mine.
Anyway, when your first interaction with someone ends up getting you quoted bashing Baltimore in Baltimore's "newspaper," you remember them. But then you get busy and kind of forget.
I knew he'd been kind enough to link to Pearlman's posts, and the story I wrote for his old Philly rag, about my getting speed-bumped. But that was about it. When he called in Feb. 2010 asking me to cover Philly's Wing Bowl, though, I said yes without hesitation. Seems as if someone else bailed on the assignment. Best "professional" decision I've ever made.
This is supposed to be a roast, yes, but I don't have much raw snark to work with. A.J. would probably tell you I filled in at times when he had no willing bodies to write on the site; I'm relatively certain he was pity fucking the guy with head scars.
What his dry humping did was enable a guy who didn't have email until his junior year of college to see exactly how the newspaper writing he'd spent 15 years trying to master had to translate to the web or a career would die.
When people ask me about Deadspin – and they do often – I have one thing to say: I respect A.J. Daulerio more than the vast majority of people with whom I've worked. They find it odd, because they think about Favre's manmeat.
What they don't see is the due diligence that goes into most of the stories he posts, or allows to be posted on this site.
What they don't see is how the guy who ruined the site has an unparalleled knack to see what's coming and be there before everybody else arrives.
What they don't see is an editor who allows his writers find their way with only a modicum of guidance when it's most needed.
What they don't see is someone willing to pity fuck someone who absolutely needed a pity fuck at that point in their life.
And what they don't see is a guy who probably used me to say Baltimore was the syphilis capital of the universe even though it only ranked fourth in the country at that point.
But I do, and that's why I'll miss him when I'm sifting through unintentional-dong submissions on Tuesday nights. I even will if the $120,000 he pays for a picture of Obama nailing a Thai ladyboy lands Rick Santorum the White House. Because if I've learned anything from working on this site it's that A.J. wouldn't be to blame; the Thai ladyboy would be.
Dashiell Bennett, former Deadspinner:
The young man you see in the picture above is named Simon Gooch. A 19-year-old community college dropout from Middle Village, Queens, Simon vanished off Long Island Sound in 1996, reportedly after eating a pound of spoiled oysters and attempting to swim to Atlantic City, New Jersey. Nine months after his disappearance, an uncompleted job application submitted to a Roxborough-area Wawa became the first formal record of the existence of A.J. Daulerio, the alleged former editor of this site. I say alleged, because despite claims to the contrary Daulerio is not the man in this or any other photo featured on this website. He is not a man at all, in fact; nor is he an editor, nor a "skeezy ... asshole ... embarrassment ... overtanned dwarf ... child-molester... rubbing bananas all over his body and running through the primate house at the zoo."
That's because A.J. Daulerio does not exist.
I know this because I spent the better part of two years trying to uncover the mystery of my former boss' true identity, a boss I never laid eyes on during the entire time I worked for this publication. My exhaustive investigation (The SpUn-Dead, to be published by Random House, Fall 2013) revealed that "Daulerio" is a phantom, with no legal, criminal, educational, social, or tax records of any kind. He has no known family or assets and aside from a $14.62 check to cover "expenses" from a Deadspin photo assignment, he does not appear to have ever conducted a single financial transaction within the United States. The imaginary* product of a deluded mind, he was created from the ether for a purpose never fully explained or understood.
(*For the record, he isn't Simon Gooch, either. In 2003, Gooch's body turned up, unblemished, in a North Dakota wheat silo, indicating that he and his digital images are merely unwitting accomplices in the greatest literary fraud since that girl copied that book that no one read.)
When I was first approached about working for Deadspin in 2008, it should have been a red-flag that someone with no relevant experience - or even any interest in "sport," aside from the occasional croquet competition in high school - would be asked to contribute to an Internet Web log about athletics. I was not even that suspicious after an interview and hiring process that consisted of a single phone conversation at three o'clock in the morning, during which I was asked by the effeminate voice claiming to be Daulerio to name my favorite professional wrestling managers and to compose a limerick that twice contained the word "sweaty."
The situation become more confused on my first day in the office, when it became clear that all the instructions from my new editor would be delivered from a small audio box installed at my desk. (My first assigned task: "Take up smoking.") Excuses began to pile up about why I could never meet A.J. in person. He was always "on vacation" or "taking a long lunch" or "passed out on the roof deck, where non-essential employees are not allowed, and yes, the gate is electrified so don't even try.") He always seemed to be stepping out of rooms just as I was stepping in, like a mentally-abusive Mr. Snuffleupagus.
Soon after, I was introduced to a Daulerio emissary calling him "Tommy Craggs," another identity that I have been unable to verify. At least his paper trail, dubious as it is, connects to a living human. Craggs became my lone point of contact to "Daulerio," issuing orders that were said to come directly from our boss, but even more convoluted and upsetting than when they came out that little speaker. (His loud, extended arguments with said speaker that usually ended in tears and were convincing enough to rule Craggs out as the real Daulerio.)
As time wore one, Daulerio's stewardship of the site took ever darker turns. Midway though my tenure, I was informed that I would have to work in another area of the Deadspin office, as my desk would be needed for a new employee: a small tree frog, who would eventually come to play a pivotal role in the ongoing Congressional investigation of Gawker Media. The best investigative reporter that the site has ever seen, that frog worked tirelessly to unearth truths that can only be hinted at here - showing a diligence that he no doubt paid for with his life. I can't prove the frog was murdered, but then again, dead crickets make terrible witnesses.
It would soon become clear that any attempt to confirm A.J.'s identity would be met with stiff resistance and not-so-veiled threats. Public records were all but non-existent, and those that did usually vanished shortly after inquiries were made. Obscure leads were frequently received - an alleged sighting in the luxury box of an MLS game; a possible dishonorable discharge from the Merchant Marines; blurry security camera footage from a Birmingham, Alabama, GameStop; one reader even swore that the man had caddied for Nick Faldo - and just as frequently went cold. Some were clearly planted to throw investigations off the trail entirely, like the claims that A.J. popularized the vuvuzela to cover up a South African diamond heist.
(About that birth certificate. Though I'm told it is standard practice for most official state documents of Pennsylvania to be notarized in pastel chalk, even the most gullible true believer would recognize the record of Daulerio's delivery to be a crude forgery. It is equally implausible that the hospital involved "burned down" during a notorious row-house arson in the mid-1980s as the city of Philadelphia stopping using residential homes as maternity wards in 1978. Sources still claim that the long-form version of the document exists in a classified FBI file, but my FOIA request remains unanswered.)
Finally, after years of searching it became clear that all of those trails lead to one very dead end. The reasons why and the identity of the ultimate mastermind behind this hoax may never be discovered, but I have no choice but to conclude that the man you know to be "A.J. Daulerio" does not and never did walk this earth. Even if he had, that man would almost certainly be dead by now, bloated and smelly in the dumpster behind an awful Chinese restaurant.
The other day, Craggs told me out of the blue, "You should contribute to the Daulerio Roast." I was flattered. Then I realized why I was asked: nobody can fire me. Go on, you fuckers, institute an action-you are only suing a man. Who is dead.
Now, I wasn't sure AJ would actually read any of this, so, just to be on the safe side, I sent this in from the Facebook account of an athlete's hot daughter.
From all accounts, AJ seems like a fun guy to work with. If you make a mistake the night before with a strange woman or a sitting GOP congressman, you can skip clinic wait times and just ask him to take a look at your junk. He doesn't even have to run tests. That guy's seen more cock than the breeding specialists at Tyson Chicken.
AJ can do what experts call "thin-slicing," which is a concept explained by Malcolm Gladwell in a book that looks like a big iPod.
As long as I'm dropping science, I should mention that I looked it up in a big book that looks like a big book, and it turns out that "Daulerio" is a Latinate term doctors use for the non-functional flash sac that surrounds the liver.
I'm not saying he has a problem, by any means, but if his liver gets any bigger, it'll be large enough to sue to become the world's first emancipated organ. Of course, the bonus is the liver's already on staff; I heard it does at least 15,000 unique pageloads per piece.
Seriously, though. AJ seems like he's probably fun to be around most of the time. He's the only person I've ever drunk-IM'd and known ahead of time wasn't any soberer than I was. I'm sure there is a transcript of his dropping acid like Dock Ellis and my drunkenly trying to pitch him something, and neither of us can understand anything at all that the other is saying.
Anyhow, last year I wrote a cranky thing about a famous person, went to sleep and woke up with a lot of people who make money and go to work in large buildings being mad about it. AJ ignored the noise and asked me to write something. (After I made sure it was actually him, I said one thing to myself: "Do not, ever, let him know your real name.") He didn't care who I was or where I came from. Today, I am still horrible and dead, but with greater distribution. AJ didn't give a fuck that I was dead, and I thought that was incredibly open-minded of him.
Thank you, AJ, and congrats to you, today, on The Deanna Favre Lifetime Service Award.
David Matthews, former Deadspin intern:
He put my phone number on the site one weekend. It was some innocuous post about Cubs fans who jumped out of the bleachers and onto Wrigley. But yeah, my phone number. It's still there (though I changed the Tumblr URL recently). He had asked me for my number earlier and I thought he just wanted a way to get in touch besides email and AIM, but it was this. I didn't even have his number at this point and had to get it from Bakes (thanks, Katie!) and I asked AJ if we were starting a prank war. He replied that he was only trying to help me get laid and I think he really thought that that would help because he's a weirdo.
Remember the last time you moved? How it was really annoying and you ended up getting into an argument with your roommate or girlfriend or husband? Moving is the worst, right? Now imagine if you were going through all that unpleasantness and your phone wouldn't stop making noises. I was in the process of packing up my apartment and moving when my phone rang. It was a number I didn't recognize, but I picked up anyway. The man on the other end was already laughing when I said "Hello?" and didn't stop. I said "OK" and hung up. Then another call. And another. And another. Then there were the texts. Needless to say, I talked to a lot of you assholes out there and confirmed that yes, it was me, and yeah, AJ is a pretty funny guy, and, no, I'm not really up to drink in South Carolina right now because I am in the process of moving, but, raincheck, maybe? It went on for a while and I eventually just threw my phone onto a couch or chair and got back to what I was doing.
However, at like one in the morning when everything was done and I was sitting Indian style on a bare floor and watching Where The Wild Things Are because that was the only thing that was not packed up, I checked my texts and voicemail again. Ugh, there were so many more things to address and delete. But there was one voicemail that stood out from a very-attractive-sounding woman in one of the Carolinas. I got back in touch with her, believe you me. It never went anywhere, but AJ's twisted sense of how twentysomethings go about the courting process had somehow come within, like, 3/16ths of the way of working. That asshole's been ridiculously good to me.
Good luck at Gawker AJ, I hope you are be inundated with grainy pictures of Rick Santorum's anteater-dick to last seven lifetimes.
A Gchat with A.J. Daulerio at 9:27 a.m., Nov. 18, 2011.
Daulerio: So it appears I pissed all over thing last night.
me: pissed all over what thing?
Daulerio: [Girlfriend's name redacted] is rounding up the sheets now.
Daulerio: Yeah. I peed on her head somehow!
She's so mad.
me: she should be impressed!
Daulerio: No no. Not in the least.
Daulerio: Anyway, it appears I peed on so many things.
[Girlfriend's name redacted]'s so wet.
She's so mad.
me: say hi for me
Daulerio: Oh I will.
Anyway, still drunk it seems.
were you on something else yesterday?
So congratulations on your promotion.