Bellview--A Brief History...
Provide you with
entertaining content that can be read and
enjoyed in under five minutes.
Help you select quality
feature films by reviewing as many films as possible.
Occasionally make you laugh your ass
From the summer of 1997
through the spring of 1998, I received hundreds of e-mail forwards
from friends—jokes, chain letters, personality tests and the like.
It seemed like everyone was reading them, so I figured, “I think my
writing is as good as some of this horseshit, so why not write my
own content?” So I wrote movie reviews instead, since my friends
and I were not getting a lot of those pushed back and forth through
I began writing the Summer
Movie Reviews (SMR) in the summer of 1998. The original mailing
list was about 30 people. SMR only covered movies released between
Memorial Day and Labor Day, and during the first campaign, about 25
movies were reviewed. The format was simple—long, profanity-laden
tirades when the movie was bad…and, long, profanity-laden tirades
when the movie was good!
I added about 30 more folks
to the list for summer 1999, and after finishing that season, the
name of the column was changed to Bellview courtesy of my friend
Dave Lee. I also decided to review movies year-round starting in
October of 1999. (Every year, I take September off from the movies
because typically, the worst films of any calendar year are released
in September. However, with January 2004 serving as a prime
example, I may have to change the format a bit!)
Also in October of that year,
I started to branch outside of just movie reviews and began to write
stand-alone essays. Travelogues and “Consumer Reports”-style
product reviews came first, because they were very easy for me to
write. By the following spring, I began writing essays on other
topics, including dating, food and clubs. Membership crossed the
100-person plateau. I was still writing in lower case (a style I
picked up from my friend Jessica Gilmour) since I liked the informal
feel of that style.
By the end of 2000, I had
about 150 members. I faced a big decision in terms of the audience
and the writing style—keep writing like the immature angry black guy
that I can be, or take it up a notch and write like the mature,
professional but funny black guy that I am. I chose the latter.
At first that was tough, but
2001 taught me a lot and ended with a move to the left coast, nearly
300 members, over 70 movie reviews and 24 essays. The writing style
made me proud and I started to believe that this content could stand
on its own, since so many people on the list were people that I
didn’t know (referrals from other friends of mine).
2002 didn’t go very well on a
personal level, but it was the best, most productive year of writing
I could have imagined. 327 subscribers read 118 movie reviews, over
60 video reviews and more than 25 essays. In particular, many of
the essays made me believe that I could make a career out of this;
essays on office stereotypes, dating, pedicures, yoga and the
Potpourri series all were well-received by list members of all
types. 2003 was even crazier, from a reviews perspective: 127
total films reviewed, plus another 29 essays on topics like video
games, high school reunions, HIV tests and bacon-wrapped scallops
filled up your inbox.
So, Bellview rolls through
2004 with one more big change—a website. Hey, the content is good
and it should be out there, and now, you don’t have to save all of
the old files in a mail folder that clogs up your box. There are
over 600 total reviews here; it wasn’t easy revising and tagging all
of this material, but hopefully, you’ll think it is worth it. Any
and all feedback is welcome; I wanted a bare-bones approach to start
with, but I’m open to change if peeps can program some cool-looking
stuff for this thing. Enjoy!
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