Friday, December 22, 2006

What about Lawrence v. Texas? The San Francisco Chronicle’s Web operation,, has a fantastic column called “Open Source Sex.” Today’s is about the wild tales surrounding the domain, which apparently has everything but a partridge and a pear tree. Another submission for the News That Is Simply Not Believable category:

The only thing missing from the story is a dead stripper found with a rubber alligator lodged in her throat — though, by all estimates, to add this to the URL’s outrageous legacy wouldn’t be a huge shocker. It would only be adding some sex to the mix — especially considering the story includes a fugitive seized by U.S. marshals, hard-luck convicted felons hiding millions in Mexican shrimp farms and strip clubs, the fugitive’s daughter caught smuggling over 200 pounds of pot, one multimillionaire dot-com scammer speed fiend with a Stanford MBA, a bizarre bid to buy Caesars Palace and a recent Tijuana gangland-style assassination attempt on a lawyer (nicknamed “The Toad”) that left a Mexican cabbie and a 4-year-old boy wounded.

Like mobile-home scammers in Florida and billboard plastic surgeons in Los Angeles, URL grifters are part of the sleazy yet entertaining Bay Area tech-industry zoo. And so when a guy like Gary Kremen snags URLs like and and dabbles in brokering far-reaching Web page patents and “Internet consulting” while (according to a 2005 CNN interview) working on a nice speed habit, he just sort of blends in with the rest of the money-grubbing, VC-chasing dot-com herd. Like most startup cowboys, Kremen sat on the URL as an undeveloped property — until a con man named Stephen M. Cohen came along and swindled VeriSign/Network Solutions out of with fast talk and forgeries.

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