Longtime staffer also trolled, harassed; told to “go back where she came from.”
By Bo Oswald
Yesterday afternoon (March 31), at approximately 2:30 E.T., emergency crews and local police in Raleigh, N.C., were summoned to the Blurt Magazine/Blurtonline.com offices, located in the Mission Valley section of the city, following a trifecta of anonymous phone calls that culminated in a bomb scare for the popular music publication. The office suite was evacuated while bomb-sniffing dogs combed the rooms and the immediate surrounding area (which includes the Pamper U 2 day spa and Let’s Get Active gym complex, along with the Raleigh branch of Schoolkids Records (which is also Blurt’s sister business), and the recently-opened Morrissey Philly Steaks ‘n’ Subs shop.
No traces of any explosives were found, and after a couple of hours, employees were allowed back onto the premises.
At the time of the incident, senior editor Daniel Matti, social media overseer/former intern Barbi Martinez, and groundskeepers Jefferson Clegg and Albert Riggs were the only ones present. Publisher Stephen Judge is reportedly honeymooning in Dublin with his new Irish bride, while editor in chief Fred Mills was in Tucson, Ariz., attending a sweat lodge training seminar prior to the annual Blurt Picnic & Renaissance Fayre Games gathering of staffers and contributors. The whereabouts of Blurt wellness coach Uncle Blurt were not immediately known, although Mills, reached via text message in Arizona, commented, “The Unc always disappears this time of year, during Madness, and as he accompanied me on the flight out here, I’m betting he’s in Phoenix, trying to score tickets for the UNC-Oregon game.” (Below: Blurt office located to the left of Schoolkids Records.)
The drama began unfolding shortly before noon on Friday when Matti noticed strange symbols and characters scrolling across the Blurt website. “At first I thought it was Fred or Uncle Blurt trying to post to Instagram and getting confused,” Matti said. “Neither one of them is very good at the internet or social media stuff – that’s why we brought Barbi on. But then the entire computer screen turned royal blue, with the Duke University logo in the middle, flashing crazily. I’ve got epilepsy, so I quickly shut the computer off before it triggered an attack.”
Staffer Martinez added, “We’ve been hacked before. Once it was during a mini-concert we hosted here at the office by local band Hank Sinatra. We love the band, but they are definitely the most hated group in Raleigh, if not the entire Triangle area. Somebody that didn’t like them probably was trying to disrupt everything. I mean, frontman Jeffro is a bit of a tool, but he’s more or less harmless, so I don’t know why someone would go to that much trouble.
“This time, I’m guessing it had to be a Duke fan, pissed off that the Blue Devils got knocked out of the NCAA tournament and with UNC going to the Final Four. Everybody knows that we are massive Tarheel fans here at the magazine… well, Stephen’s a Wolfpack fan, so we semi-tolerate him. But since he’s been overseas we were able to take down all the NC State paraphernalia he’d put up on the walls, the employee break room, the bathroom – which, I must add, is available to be used by everyone, male, female, straight, queer, trans, even Dookies. So there has definitely been a lot of loud cheering going on here during the tourney, and that may have rubbed a Duke supporter the wrong way.
“Or it might have been someone who bought a Crosley record player from us.” (Below: Hank Sinatra band. Go HERE to view a live video of the Raleigh combo.)
Martinez further outlined the second incident, which occurred about 30 minutes after the computer hacking: “The office phone rang and I answered like I always do, ‘Blurt magazine and Blurt online, this is Ms. Martinez, how can I direct your call?’ There was this long silence, and I said ‘hello’ several times, then I heard a series of clicking sounds, and then a low, almost guttural growl like, male voice was saying, ‘Why don’t you goddam foreigners go back to where you came from, to your motherfucking desert, and see how you like living under Sharia law now, brown bitch?’ Well, at that I just burst out laughing – I’ve heard that before, a lot since the Trump campaign and election, and by now I’ve just gotten kinda used to it. I mean, I was born here in North Carolina. My grandparents are from Mexico, so I’m second generation Mexican-American. But I’m definitely not from the Middle East, or a Muslim, and I don’t even look like someone from Syria or Iraq or wherever. It’s just that Trump supporters are such dumbasses, they can’t tell, or don’t bother to find out, the difference.”
Both Matti and Martinez speculated that the subsequent phone call about the bomb was made by the same person, disguising his voice. “It wasn’t all that deep, and the caller had a slight lisp,” explained Matti. “He called about 20 minutes after 2 o’clock and said that a bomb was going to blast us and all our fake news all the way to Haw River, so we called 911 and got the hell out of here. I made sure I grabbed all the U2 stuff first, because Stephen would have fired me on the spot if it got blown up or caught on fire.
“The ironic thing is that… well, we we DO publish fake news, and everybody knows it, we admit it. Fred usually puts it together. But it’s only one day out of the entire year: today, April 1. I’m guessing that the person behind the threat is somebody that fell for one of Fred’s ridiculous hoaxes, like the one about the Kurt Cobain demos, which even got picked up by Spin, or the Captain Beefheart & Magic Band reunion tour, which pissed off Beefheart’s biographer and was briefly part of Beefhart’s Wikipedia page. He reposts that shit almost every year, and every time, somebody swallows it, hook, line, and sinker. Music fans are very, very gullible, and they are also very thin-skinned. They hate getting punk’d. And they definitely hold grudges.”
At presstime, no one had been apprehended by authorities.