Ghostbusters HQ (or GBHQ) was a Ghostbusters fansite that started back in 1996 and "ran" through 2008. I put ran in quotes because toward the end, it was like a bucket of bolts traveling through the stars, threatening to explode at moment's notice. After deciding to call it quits, the site remained online for a few years before getting hit by a pretty gnarly malware attack that forced the site to be completely shut down.
But I'm a nostalgic little brat, and from time to time I would go back through my backups and look at the past. Sort of like a 30-something returning to his parents' house and looking through his old high school yearbook. The fact of the matter is, a lot of the years running this website were some of my favorite times as a fan. So I thought to myself, why not fill the void of a domain that I'm still paying for that's only holding a "Closed for Business" sign up with a bit of a tribute to my favorite moments in the site's history?
The Ghostbusters HQ Tribute is going to be a little bit of a living, breathing, organic scrapbook for not only those that remember visiting the site back in its heyday, but also for all of the new fans to see what life was like back in the past. Back in a time before a AAA title video game, an amazing creative crew running a monthly on-going comic book, regular action figure and role playing "props" released from a major toy company, and well... before fans just couldn't be pleased.
The Wayback Machine
It was a time before the internet fanboy community hit its stride. A time when all we were was fans of a movie that was in a bit of a lurch. We dreamed that someday there would be a rekindling of the franchise that we loved, but aside from some show on the horizon called Extreme Ghostbusters and the possibility that it might yield more for us to obsess over and enjoy, there wasn't a whole lot going on for the self-proclaimed Ghostheads.
But let me rewind a second, just this past year, the proprietor of the current company that I work for (to his defense, while I was dressed in full head-to-toe Ghostbusters regalia for Halloween) asked me just recently, "Why do you like Ghostbusters so much?" Not wanting to launch into a full-on nerd out in front of the boss, the brain really started thinking but the mouth said, "I don't know, I guess because I grew up with it." But the reality was, there was so much that I didn't know where to start. As a kid, they had cool gadgets, got to go on fun adventures, were funny, and had a pet ghost with a ravenous appetite. But then it occurred to me that, for the longest time, I hadn't seen the real, uncensored, non-TV broadcast version of Ghostbusters until I was in the seventh grade (circa 1994).
After a family vacation to Orlando, which of course included a trip to Disney World and Universal Studios, I was in such a state of disappointment that I wasn't able to see the then on the brink of closing "Ghostbusters Spooktacular" stageshow. I did take photos of the outside, I did jump into the gift shop (which was a horrible shade of what I'm sure it once was), but never got to see the show. When we got home to Colorado, I suddenly recalled all of my childhood memories of watching Real Ghostbusters on Saturday mornings, stringing out a Ghost Trap in advance of my dad getting home from work (it was my job as a Junior Ghostbuster to protect the family from the occasional paranormal invader that only I could see through my Ecto Goggles - which had those horrible prongs on the sides of them for the Ghost Popper darts). But now here I was, several years later and an "older wiser" Troy (in junior high school) and for some reason, my interest in Ghostbusters was rekindled.
A trip to the K-Mart in Parker, Colorado (then the only outlet for purchasing of many goods and services including VHS tapes) soon after yielded a true, honest to God copy of the original Ghostbusters film. Ever since airing in 1988 on ABC, I had worn my self-recorded copy of the film into the 1/4 inch ground. I got home and watched the movie and, to my surprise, the "uncensored" version of the movie was ten times more entertaining. Things suddenly made sense. They said things like "Prehistoric Bitch" and Venkman burst out of the hotel ballroom proclaiming that he kicked some ass.
Junior high school Troy was all over it... again.
At that point, our good friend the interwebs was still finding its feet. You know, like Bambi learning how to walk - it looked just as goofy and was just about as useful. So I hit the 28.8 modem, logged into America Online, sat and waited ten hours for the home screen to load, then did a search for Ghostbusters.
The first thing that came up was Bill Emkow's "Ghostbusters Homepage" where, as they say, everything began. I posted to a "message board" a pretty novel thing at the time, learned things about Ghostbusters that I never knew, and all-around shot the shit with people that had good senses of humor, enjoyed Ghostbusters, and just wanted to dig on it with a bunch of people that you'd never met.
For some reason, call it childhood ambition, I thought I could create a webpage like Bill's but, you know... funny. Well, funnier. So I took up AOL's offer of 10mb of free webspace or whatever ridiculousness it happened to be at the time and opened "Troy's Ghostbusters Headquarters" in 1996. My claim to exclusive content was that I was able to ape the entire Universal Studios Orlando "Ghostbusters Spooktacular" website before USF took it down when the ride closed (I guess it was my tribute to never getting to see it live).
AOL begat some weird free hosting site like Geocities or something, Geocities begat another hosting site that I can't remember the name of, then this funny dude named Neil offered web space and ghostbustershq.com was born.
Over the years, the site grew. The people that I had met along the way started to accumulate. Suddenly we had a message board that was getting a ridiculous amount of traffic that we never expected. And, as so often happens, friendly competition turned into some... heated... moments (which, looking back are some of the silliest things that a now adult can look back and say that he was a part of). But amid all of the chaos, there were so many good things that happened. So many things that I was proud of. So many things that stand out in my mind as what defined Ghostbusters HQ apart from all the other web offerings.
But now, technology has prevailed - and I'm an old dude who didn't keep up with the HTMLs that all the kids did, and doesn't find a whole lot of free time on his hands like he did back in high school, when he should have been paying more attention to algebra or something else that I still rarely use on a daily basis. But in fact, you'll notice that I'm keeping the GBHQ Tribute simple for a wide variety of reasons.
There are so many other GREAT Ghostbusters websites that are now organic and user-generated. Sites like Proton Charging and GBFans (both of which I'm proud to say I was there to see born and grow into the awesome sites that they are now), which utilize Wiki technology and have vast message boards and tons of other doohickies and googledads that I could never keep up with on GBHQ.
Plus there were SO many people who I'm so glad I crossed paths with in the time that Ghostbusters HQ was open, that I felt like I owed everyone to keep things running (and who I still feel like I owe a big part of the site too, which has been the main reasoning behind opening a "tribute" to some of the greatest hits).
So... all that long-winded backstory and history aside - the Ghostbusters HQ tribute is a bit of a yearbook. A look back on all the highlights (and maybe a few of the funny missteps) of one website's (almost) ten year history for all the people that were there when it happened, and maybe a nugget or two in there for the people that weren't, so that they can look back and say, "Man, those guys were sad, let's go jack into the VR world and get virtua-high."
That's what the kids say now on the interwebs, right?
Anyway, what you're going to see on this website are journals on what the highlight was. What it meant to me. And some of the content that was included (for better or worse) as sort of a time capsule so to speak. I'll be adding to it more and more as time allows so all that you need to do is click on the "Contents" button over to the left there and you'll see everything that's been risen from the ashes and commented upon in a chronological order (as best as I can recount).
And what about all you kids who are now old men with me in rocking chairs that were here for the heyday of the website? Well, I'd like to get your input and feedback too. So if you happen to have a favorite moment, or favorite segment of GBHQ that stands out in your mind, drop me an email with what it was and what it meant to you (and vaguely when you remember it being) so that it can be added to the timeline. Drop me an email at the old email@example.com email address just for old time's sake. It'll be good to get some email on that account which isn't spam anymore.
On that note, fire up the sexy sounds of a dial-up modem for old time's sake, go grab some Crystal Pepsi, and hit the "Contents" button on the left side of the page for more, or I guess you could have clicked it right there where I linked it. That's fancy weblinking for you, kids. Just like it was back in the old days.
See you on the other side.