For me, the answer to the question “Who is Jerry Hinnen?” begins at the dawn of the millennium, at the Subway inside the Chevron on the corner of University and College, where I worked alongside the best minds of my generation (imagine the Algonquin Round Table inside Studio 54 – catering by the Subway inside the Chevron on the corner of University and College). One of those minds was, it turns out, Jerry Hinnen.
I – dayshift, he –nightshift, we met but briefly, a strange encounter (“Don’t take this the wrong way, Jeremy, but I think I remember you were wearing a flesh-colored wedding band”) forgotten by both until the heady adolescence of the blAUgosphere, sometime in 2007.
Will Collier wrote a book about Auburn football. Jay Coulter was the sports editor at WEGL and a writer for The Plainsman in the early 90s. The dudes at The Auburner were (at the time) students. But Jerry Hinnen? Who was…?
Wait… that name… and then that photo… and then the random references to the Subway inside the Chevron on the corner of University and College…
I finally queried the post-happy expatriate at the helm of this Joe Cribbs Car Wash thing to see if maybe, just maybe…
And, of course, it was. And life made even more sense.
A couple of years later, I queried Jerry again, to see if maybe, just maybe he would be willing to help brand and build this crazy idea I had… “…part city paper, part game-day program, part yearbook, part sports blog, part academic journal, part Beat novel.”
To truly dot com The War Eagle Reader would, I knew, require the blAUgosphere’s Bo Jackson: in middle school, I used Prodigy to get the address of Elle McPherson’s fan club (three autographed photos!), Jerry used it to check Braves scores for past-bedtime games on the west coast. Exactly.
He probably knew we couldn’t do it without him, too, and since he and I were such old, dear friends, well, thankfully, the rest is history.
Yet, even after nearly a year as e-colleagues, Jerry remained, to a certain extent, a mystery, his orange and blue carbon footprints stretching from computers in Demopolis to computers in Ann Arbor to a computer on the Navajo reservation in Chinle, Arizona that he now calls home, but his flesh and blood Auburn back-story obscured by an intimidating wit, as well as an unbridled enthusiasm for soccer and something called “mid-major hoops.” Why was he working at the Subway inside the Chevron on the corner of University and College? Why did he leave? How is it that the most linked to prose in the blAUgosphere is written further away from God’s country than any other? By a man who has been to just one Auburn game in, what, five years? He was strong enough in the faith to send me $20 to buy Pat Dye’s Pants, but how did that faith form? Just who is it that is raising our hopes for Joe Recruit and calming our fears about Zac Etheridge and guiding us through the adrenal apocalypse of the Outback Bowl in – I wouldn’t lie about something like this – 5,168 words?
For all his popularity and prolificity, Jerry keeps the narrative of his own personal Auburn close to the vest, rarely building posts around the first time he hated Florida fans or how he spent his two years worth of Friday nights on the Plains. Sure, you know he’s into good music and Arrested Development. And you know he has a wife (“Mrs. WBE”), even if you don’t know her name. But for the most part – at least to me, or at least for the sake of my thesis – Jerry keeps it down home, cuz. And by home, I mean the X and O implications of right here, right now. And keyboard cat.
So it is with great pleasure, as well as a sense of duty and accomplishment, that I present to you TWER’s second podcast*, a casual mid-July conversation with Gerrit Jan Hinnen (hear him pronounce it in the original Dutch), produced by the wizard of Offbeat Auburn, Kelly Walker, and intended as an Eric Ramsey tape’s worth of insight into the secret moods and motives of “your humble Auburn blogger.” It’s long (like, 50 minutes or something). It’s inspirational (listening to him talk about the upcoming season is to listen to your heart pound). It’s nostalgic (Hungry Howie’s butter-cheese crust, anyone). It’s scandalous (you’ll never believe where he logged onto the internet for the first time… or why). But hopefully, most of all, it’s informative. If you give it a chance, and don’t make fun of me**, and if you weren’t already convinced…you will discover things about the man never revealed in his posts, which now number well into the thousands: his almost-relationship with Robert Johnson. The merciless taunting he received at Nikki Speake High in Dadeville (Scholars Bowl, Science Olympiad, newspaper, highest ACT score in the school – Thank you garage sale’d 1996 Talisman). The awesome plot of his unfinished novel.
And the how and why behind his being one hell of a blogger.
So go back up to the top, click that “play” arrow, and enjoy.
* You can hear former Auburn split end Thom Gossom discuss rolling joints behind a Baton Rouge church after the ’72 LSU game in our first podcast.
** The intro explains it some, but yes, I ramble a bit, and um it up. Yes… fanness. Yes, “in general,” not “in journal.” Yes, the lame Florida joke. Yes, sorry for comparing WBE readers to Pavlovian dogs. Yes, Jay, I now remember that you were also referenced in that Auburn Magazine story. Yes, plenty of other things.