During the mid-1990s, the uniquely American tradition of Blues Traveler gave voice to the suffering of so many hardworking men and women, who were all struggling just to hacky sack. Of course, the hardships Blues Traveler once sang of on fiery, rotgut wallows like “Run-Around” haven’t gone away. They’ve only changed to meet the times. Today it’s not only your most trusted friends who want to give you the run-around. The internet has made it so strangers can do so anonymously—thousands of them, all giving you the run-around a million times per second. And so, Blues Traveler frontman John Popper has updated accordingly, calling out those who give him the run-around these days not with a cutting song, but by posting their personal information online.
The Daily Beast has gamely attempted to lay out Popper’s doxxing campaign against Forrest Rutherford, Popper’s chief antagonist in running around—though as with all your favorite Blues Traveler songs, such as “Run-Around,” its complexities are not so easily summarized. So here’s an attempt at putting all the most noteworthy events in chronological order:
1. In 1994, Blues Traveler releases “Run-Around.” The peppy blues-rock number becomes the band’s breakthrough hit and goes on to win the Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance By A Duo Or Group.
2. Twenty years later, Buzzfeed writer Katie Notopolous tweets about a half-remembered anecdote from an episode of VH1’s Behind The Music, regarding John Popper’s confession of once being “too obese to masturbate.”
3. Popper offers a friendly reply, where an eggplant is his dick.
4. As so presciently captured in his 1994 hit “Run-Around,” other Twitter users quickly join in and proceed to give Popper the run-around. He responds with a string of invective where he calls some women fat cunts and suggests he fucked their moms. (He later recounts this fracas in his 2016 autobiography Suck & Blow, a version of the story that leaves Notopolous feeling “besmirched.”)
5. One of those aforementioned runners-around, Forrest Rutherford, steps into Popper’s exchange with Notopolous with some unspecified zingers. The nature of those zingers has, alas, been lost to the ages, in the wake of Rutherford’s original account being suspended. Still, they were apparently so choice, they sparked a years-long online feud.
6. The Popper/Rutherford beef is reignited with a vengeance several weeks ago, thanks to the Rutherford-created @assbott, a Twitter bot that posts random Dadaist musings cut-and-pasted from his Rutherford’s personal account with the sole intention of baiting Trump supporters into arguments. One of those nonsense fragments happens to contain Popper’s name and—as Popper habitually searches for himself—he soon finds it.
7. Popper responds by sending scores of tweets to and about Rutherford—some including Photoshopped versions of his pics, his personal address, and even Google Maps photos of his house—all while calling him “a danger to his family and a stalker” on Facebook. As a result, Rutherford tells The Daily Beast he’s received death threats. Popper’s Rutherford-related tweets, in which he deploys the “crying laughing face emoji” as liberally as tasty harmonica licks, number well over 100 in the past week alone.
8. Rutherford files complaints with Twitter, and many of his friends report the Blues Traveler account for targeted harassment.
9. Twitter gives Rutherford the run-around. Oh, the sweet, lancing sting of irony!
10. Blues Traveler also writes the song “Hook.” That should actually be at No. 2.
For his part, Rutherford tells The Daily Beast that he’s not seriously concerned that any Blues Traveler fans will make good on their threats, which have included sending members of the Mexican drug cartel the Zetas to his house. “I don’t honestly think there’s anybody that cares enough about John Popper,” Rutherford said. “I had to tell my family, ‘Listen, nothing’s gonna happen.’” However, while he understands that it’s probably all very amusing to see Popper, whose songs have gotten so many through the hardscrabble wait times at Chili’s, now reduced to spending his days waging Twitter wars with some random guy in Kentucky, Rutherford would still prefer it weren’t happening.
Meanwhile, the Blues Traveler account is still going strong, with Popper remaining defiant in his replies to Rutherford, Rutherford’s friends, and whoever else makes the mistake of engaging or typing “John Popper” into their status field—all while insisting Rutherford deserves the harassment. Popper has also said he would “love to give my own interview and respond to these utter distortions of the truth [crying laughing face emoji],” although repeated attempts to get exactly that through his representatives have all been rebuffed.
And so it goes, on and on, a vicious cycle of lies and bitter recriminations and posting the personal address of a guy who made fun of you one time on Twitter—a surefire way to speed things up, when all it does is slow us down, etc. Why do we do it? Why do we give each other the run-around? Why do you?