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Saturday · June 12 2004

Plain Layne has disappeared. She (or he or they, depending who you believe) has vanished before without prior notice or explanation. Her readers, and especially “those who live inside Layne's comment box”, are experiencing severe symptoms of Layne-withdrawl. They are putting clues together and seeing the possibility of an elaborate hoax emerge. Some think Layne is the fiction project of an anyonymous guy; Others think Layne is a collaborative fictitious journal. All agree the girl (or the man or the group) can write.

The arguments on both sides (scroll down to “Ok, so that’s really fucking long for 'a little backstory.'” for the shortcut to a summary of the theories) are scarily well thought out. I believe Layne is a real person, but there's no way her real name is Layne Johnson. Too much Plain Layne information exists online for no one at Minicorp to have “outted” her by now.

I miss reading the daily trainwreck.

What you had to say:
June 13 2004

The Macleans (a Canadian news mag) article from September 2003 detailing Layne's last disappearance.

June 14 2004

wow. so crazy! after reading Joshua- i wuz sure she must be fake. after reading David, i'm not so sure. how fascinating either way!

June 14 2004

I went ahead a created a sort of "waiting room" for all you Layneian refugees so we can commiserate and speculate together (the only other place where seems to be comments right now on all this is on Joshua's blogpost). It's on Google's new Orkut service, and I can send you a free invite if you'd like to join the community and participate in the discussion. Mitch has a few leads he is following. I myself think that Layne is real, but I also been shaken by the other side's arguments.

--Ryan (I used to post as Quiplash on Plain Layne)

June 14 2004

I was also hooked for the past month thanks to my brother!!
and I went to see what was up with Layne after a week of vaca and sad to see I had nothing interesting to read about!!
let me know what else you hear regarding her "disappearance"

June 14 2004

Kris, if you want to read the last few weeks of her posts, Bloglines still has it archived.

And I just realized I didn't post the link to the Macleans article up above. duh.

June 14 2004

The Layne mystery is turning out to be as good of a hoax as Verbal's story in The Usual Suspects.

The comment thread at Joshua's site turned up some very interesting developments today. The findings more or less prove that "Layne" wrote as "Acanit" before assuming the current persona. The language similarities and the images residing in the same folder at the Aptura domain are hard to ignore.

The circumstantial evidence is overwhelming.

I won't summarize here because if you are interested, you don't need me to summarize. You'll devour the whole thread.

If you're not interested, then what are you doing still reading this comment?

June 15 2004

Good gad! (as peabody would say) where is david grenier?

June 15 2004

My summary -- since you asked:
I am 100% certain Layne is a fake and 99.99% certain the person who wrote Acanit's journal wrote Layne's site in some part, if not entirely. Someone posed the possibility that Layne is an Acanit imitator, but I don't buy it. People have Googled several post titles from Acanit's site and the only other writer on the web to use the same turns of phrase are Layne. Both lived in Minnesota, had issues with physical disfigurement, were bisexual, had ties to living in Mexico, wrote about rape periodically, and dated a man ~10 years older.

Acanit wrote as an Iranian-American and her site disappeared around September 11, 2001 (familiar date?). Layne's site started around this time.

Readers are comparing the pictures of Acanit and Layne to find some similarity, but I don't see it.

The unanswered questions...
Who is the person in the "Layne" pictures? (No clue, could be dead, could be a friend, could be a girlfriend. Seems there are too many to be totally random.)
Was the original Acanit story real? (Based on the inconsistencies in written biography and that Layne is a fake, I think the Acanit story was fake too)
Does the September 11, 2001 switchover date have any significance? (no idea)
Why? (I'd love to know)
Will Acanit/Layne turn up again in another form? (I'd bet on it)


FWIW, the IP address that Layne used to comment on others' sites with is in the logs for hitting my site about every third day from late April (when she first linked to my site) up until June 8 (date Layne's site went offline). This means exactly nothing other than the person who wrote Layne read here in the past and might visit again. So, Acanit/Layne, if you do read this, I tip my hat. You fooled the hell out of all of us. I hope you're making a good living off your writing ability.

June 15 2004

I totally see the resemblance in those pictures!!

so the question is how do you feel about her probably being a fake? I thought about it and at first was mad- now I just feel like I'm happy I got to enjoy her trainwreck drama life for the past month and I also tip my hat to her!
However, if she comes back on somewhere I don't think I'd continue to read knowing it may not be true.
What sucks is a person with such an amazing in your face writing ability is forced to hide his/her talents for the time being while we all figure this out...
I wonder where Layne/Acanit will turn up next??

June 15 2004

I hope he/she/they will give his/her/their public some sort of acknowldgement. Even if not to reveal a true identity or to give reasons for why, but just sort of a "yeah, ya got me. thanks for reading" or something...
I feel jipped! I wish I had been reading her for a lot longer, I wuz only just getting hooked....

June 15 2004

Kris, are you looking at the right sets of pictures? There's a slight resemblence in some, but I think there are too many overall that would have to have been doctored. The number of pics adds credibility to the story, but seems more trouble than it would be worth for the author. I think it's a real stretch to say the pics of Acanit and Layne are the same person. I vote no on that.

I don't feel gipped, other than I'm bummed I won't be able to read Layne's site anymore. It's kinda like reading the last book in a series by a dead author.

If I knew the whole thing was fiction, I would not have been as interested. The back and forth in the comments section between Layne and her readers was at least half the fun and that couldn't have existed without genuine belief in her story. I've never found another online journal where the storytelling was that open and the response was so real. I mean, people got pissed off with Layne's actions and told her about it.

The commenters on most sites kiss ass and tell the writer how great they are. That shit is boring to read. That's why I don't read most blogs about people's personal lives and why I don't like to share the details of mine -- not that the details of my curent life are drama filled anyway. It's not interesting without drama, real or otherwise.

If snide humor was hard, I wouldn't be able to crank it out. What's hard is writing a positive story without being sappy or writing personal pain that resonates with a reader and doesn't depress the hell out of everyone. Expressing emotions and putting a piece of you out on the chopping block is tough. The details of Layne/Acanit aren't real, but no question that many of the emotions and the stories behind them are.

June 15 2004

"I don't feel gipped, other than I'm bummed I won't be able to read Layne's site anymore. It's kinda like reading the last book in a series by a dead author. "

that's what I meant.

June 16 2004

FYI: My co-worker reads Polish and translated Layne's site:

Our servers are being updated.
They will be available mid-June.
We're really sorry."

This may mean she'll return?

June 16 2004

I ran the message through an online Polish translator last week. The whole error message page is a fake. As others have pointed out, the time stamp you see on the page is generated by client side javascript (you can see it in the page source). Real server error pages generate the timestamp on the server and deliver the error page as straight HTML.

Essentially, it's a good enough fake that it works on first glance if you didn't examine further or didn't know what to look for. But on closer look, it's obviously bogus and a simple delay and confuse tactic.

Maybe the original plan was to really come back in a week. I don't know if she expected this level of identity scrutiny. Either way, the Polish message probably has very little to do with her plans now. But who the hell knows now? Certainly not me.

June 16 2004

Hm. The plot continues to thicken.

June 16 2004

have you read the joshua thread 2day? i luv the tribute blog idear! are you keeping an eye on the orkut thing? should i join? Or am i becoming too obsessed....?

June 16 2004

Of course I'm following along; I'm the prince of compulsive behavior. I haven't been posting b/c everything else on the Net seems so unintersting since I've been following this. Sad, sad, sad.

I'll invite you to orkut so you can take a look. Nothing too new. I think until someone goes nutty and makes an effort in real life or Layne speaks up there won't be much new to report.

June 16 2004

thanks for the orcut invite! having trouble w/it tho...doesn't look like there's much more on!

June 17 2004

From the "Good News/Bad News" thread at orkut - posted by Mitch who said he'd be looking into local leads a couple days ago.

First, my bona-fides; I live in the Twin Cities, am a blogger, and worked briefly at one or more of the companies involved in this saga. I've posted on a couple of threads - mine and Ryan R's, I think - that I had a strong hunch who "Layne" is.

The "Good" news is, I'm up to 99% sure. The "suspect" I have in mind is:
* Male (might have accomplices)
* an accomplished but frustrated writer
* was connected with one or more of the companies involved (kudos to, I think, Greg for doing the digging)
* deep background in Latin America, especially small mexican towns
* self-taught DBA
* was connected with the Blogplus domain.
* ample experience with big, sclerotic corporations (has worked at two companies very similar to Minicorp
* Prefers Volkswagen products.
* Had at least one crushingly difficult startup experience
* Is a runner
* Has the work ethic of a sled dog.
* Knows Woodbury.

The bad news? After thinking about this for a couple of days, I can not reveal who this person is. I think it would cause a lot of problems.

However, the "is Layne real" question is, for me, definitely answered. No.

If the question is "why"? Well, I haven't asked the person yet. I don't know that I ever will. Knowing him (and I do - and he had me just as fooled as the rest of you, until this past week or so), I suspect the answer is "because he could". If I have the right person (and I'm to the point that I'd bet on it), he's a talented writer without much time to devote to anything but a blog.

June 17 2004

hey, have you been paying attention to Layne saga 2day? there is a post on Lily's site that says it was definitely a guy. but i can't locate where this is proven....

June 17 2004

never mind. it's on orcut. *sigh* that's what i get for posting before i look!

June 17 2004 about Mitch's Orkut post I am pointing to just above what you wrote?

It's not a confession nor filled with particulars, but he's familiar with this person in real life and is 99% sure. That sounds pretty good. I think, in time, the real identity will surface.

Layne's URL was released by the owner and Ryan Schultz bought it this morning. His intention is to have the community keep going without the original author. Totally bizarre.

June 17 2004

it wasn't there when i posted, I swear!

June 18 2004

If you want to keep following along, the former URL is now being hosted at

That's where "Slain Layne" will keep going. (Johnny Huh?'s term, I like it.)

June 21 2004

From Joshua on David Grenier's site:

I think it's only a matter of time before "you're Layne!' enters the popular vocabulary as an idiom for "I suspect that you are full of shit in some way that I can't quite pin down-- but that is, to some extent, irrelevant because I find you entertaining, and your truthfulness is not relevant to that fact. But I've got my eye on you, buddy."

Kind of like santorum. But, you know-- not gross.

June 21 2004

Dead on.

The continuing efforts of this "cult of Layne" are a little much. Until some guy pops out of a box in Minnesota and says, "Ha! It was me!", I'm going to let it sleep and move on. Somewhere, somebody must have a journal as interesting to read as Layne's. (Not so) Simple matter of finding it.

June 21 2004

Please post it when you do!

© 2004 Jason Keglovitz