When America Online's CEO announced his company's intention to merge with Time Warner last week, Georgia songwriter Christopher Alan had a unique response. He grabbed the domain name stephencase.com, wrote a quick song about his URL kidnapping, then directed traffic from stephencase.com to an MP3 site featuring the Steve Case-taunting ballad.
"When you bought Time Warner we were all impressed.
How come you didn't buy your Web address?
You may be a big-shot down at AOL,
but I'm the one that got your URL!"
The song -- titled "Steve Case Lost His Cyber Parking Space" -- features Alan's soft, insinuating vibrato, with an occasional Hank Williams yodel, over a slow "Johnny B. Goode" style guitar line. It even includes a mocking spoken passage mulling ignominious plans for the site: "Maybe I'll sell duck decoys. 'Quack, quack ...!'"
Of course, most of us know him as Steve, not Stephen, Case but www.stevecase.com was taken -- and not by the AOL chief. It is registered to someone named Dave Davidson, according to the WHOIS database at Network Solutions.
So what's the real drive to own Case's domain? Alan hinted at the struggle for visibility in our media-saturated society. "I am not willing to kidnap a Spice Girl or perform oral sex on the president," Alan said in an e-mail. "I am willing to poke Steve Case, Don Logan and Roger Ames in the ribs!"
Sure enough, the domains donaldlogan.com (honoring the Time Inc. chairman, president and chief executive) and rogerames.com (a Time Warner music executive) are also registered to Alan, and the second verse of his ode to Case includes the line "Ted Turner, Donald Logan, Mr. Ames -- I'm parking in your cyberspace!" (Tedturner.com appears to belong to someone in Canada.)
Though he focussed his ditty on Steve Case, Alan says he registered the other addresses "to make it more fun." He's already pointed RogerAmes.com to his MP3 collection as well -- and he modified his song list on Monday to highlight a recently-penned song about Ted Turner's recent divorce, "Tell Hanoi Jane to Get Off My Ranch!"
Maybe Alan's stunt will garner him the requisite 15 minutes of grass roots Internet fame. What happens after that is anyone's guess, but at the conclusion of his song, he signals his own intention. As the music rises in defiance, Alan blusters:
"This is America! It's a free country!
I've got the Web site, and I'm not going anywhere!"