Submitted by admin on Tue, 04/20/2021 - 09:15

Standen Seizes Gearslutz

On February 23, 2007, I awoke at 11am having slept 2 hours. I'd worked all night to set up an extra third server.  What transpired next would transform my life into a gut-wrenching nightmare that would last many years and nearly destroy my spirit. As I had done so many mornings before, I rolled over in bed and grabbed my trusty laptop (which lay in bed beside me). I tried to log into my first server. 

The password didn't work. 

I tried server #2. 

The password didn't work. 

I tried server #3.

The password didn't work. 

My first thought was that we had been hacked.  I phoned Jules.

There was no answer. 

I tried to log into the main WebHost account.

The passwords didn't work. 

I tried logging into the DNS nameserver account.

The passwords didn't work.

What was going on?  I tried Jules's number again.

No answer.

A sick feeling began to well in my gut. But I pushed the thought away. I tried phoning again and again. A self-professed phone-a-holic Standen rarely missed a call. Panic coursed through my body. Sirens went off in my head.  I ordered myself to calm down.  But my body refused.

Then something happened which caused me to freeze in fear.  Our signed May 11, 2005 agreement which assured my ongoing 1/3 share and retirement pension was not in the box where I kept it. I didn't want to believe my eyes. For over 15 years he had been like a brother to me. He even had a key to my flat. When we worked there, I always left him alone while I popped out to the shops. 

Julian Standen was the only other person in the world who knew where the agreement was kept. 

After an agonizing amount of time, an email popped up in my inbox. It was from Jules. In it, he stated that from now on he would only "communicate by email". That was the moment the penny dropped.  I could no longer avoid the awful truth...

 My best friend Julian Standen had seized the business. 

The pent-up disbelief, fear, and confusion welled up inside me until it exploded into a thousand alarm bells. The anguish arose deeper in my heart. Panic gripped me. What could I do? I needed to do something but I didn't know what.  My eyes darted desperately around for something to do that would stop what I could see happen before me.  But there was nothing I could do...

Think! Think! Think!

"Pick up the phone Jules... PLEASE pick up!"

How could I get Jules to talk to me? He must have hired a new sysadmin who was now running the server. Who was this person?  Who had taken over my machines? As the person who knew the system I designed better than anyone, I remembered there was a back door into the server through my non-root account. I logged in and put a notice on the Gearslutz page;

"Gearslutz is down temporarily till Jules and I settle a business issue".  

It was a stupid move that Jules would craftily seize upon it as an excuse for his theft of my co-ownership share. For days Gearslutz was up and down as the new guy struggled to get it running. So Standen attempted to shift the blame onto me. He lied to our friends, colleagues, and contacts. According to Jules, I had tried to destroy the site following an argument. He claimed that he had "no other choice" but to "relieve" me of my duties. 

In other words, he played upon the cliche of the out-of-control, hormonal, and hysterical woman. 

But later in Standen's court document called his"Particulars of Defence" you will see that he makes no mention of his false accusation that I had somehow tried to destroy the site. Why?

Because it never happened.  

Although the notice was ill-considered, the crucial detail is that it occurred after not before he locked me out. It was my panicked desperate attempt to force some kind of dialogue. What I saw in those last moments was the retirement pension I had worked for, sacrificed for, and counted on, disappear before my eyes, and me unable to do a damn thing about it.

But it soon became clear Standen had planned this for many months if not years.  For there were too many balls in place for it to have been pulled off out of the blue. When did the contract go missing? When did he open a new bank account? How did he manage to remove my name from the web hosts? Jules replaced me with Ryan Spevak (who later threatened to take him to small claims for non-payment).  When did he first contact Ryan? 

That night I tossed and turned throughout the hours unable to sleep. It was torturous. How could this happen? Julian Standen had been like a brother to me.

In 1993, when Jules returned to London after a failed stint as a music producer in Berlin, he found himself penniless and homeless. He couched surfed around London to the great amusement of his social circle who sniggered and sneered at the "The Great Julian Standen".  It pained me to see my friend so low. At this point, his parents were fed up with the fiscal irresponsibility of their wayward son and decided at the age of 33 to impose tough love on him. Both parents refused to bail him out. 

I couldn't bear to see my good friend so humiliated and beaten. He'd probably deserved it for he was known to show off. But it was painful to see my normally cheerful and endlessly optimistic friend with his spirit squashed.  What I did next was uncomfortable for someone like me who was almost phobically afraid of debt. A Soho character named Tony told me of a flat available on Frith Street just around the corner from mine on Old Compton Street. I withdrew money from my credit card (at 18% interest) and paid the first and last month's deposit so Julian could move in.

Jules was more than grateful and over the years he, in turn, tried to help me out when he could. After he got his inheritance he often treated me to meals at our local Wong Kei, Chinatown restaurant. He even bought me insurance before my first US Pigface tour worried that I might have an accident or fall off the stage.  

Others admired our tight bond. It was rare for a platonic friendship to last so many years. Though we each had other partners we remained the closest of friends throughout. Jules never had a sister and I never had a brother so I suppose we were like surrogates to each other. We'd squabble and bitch at each other like siblings. 

But suddenly Jules would only communicate to me via email and in a strange new polite business-like tone which suggested it wasn't really him behind the words. His words feigned polite, kindness but with an underlying legal bite. 

It was surreal.

For the next two nights, I couldn't sleep. I'd  just start to drop off when a voice would suddenly scream in my head;

"He thinks his time is worth everything! He thinks mine is worth nothing!"

It was my own voice and it made me snap bolt upright and wide awake every time. This went on over the next few years.  Occasionally even today 16 years later, it still happens.