Emily Witt recently wrote an article for the The New Yorker called The Trip Planners about the unusual couple behind Erowid, the Internet's best resource for information about psychoactive substances. Founded in 1995, the site is used as a reference by the general public as well as by physicians, journalists, educators, law enforcement, and other professionals.
"The founders of Erowid are a couple in their mid-forties—a man and a woman who call themselves Earth and Fire, respectively. Their names date from 1994, when, as recent college graduates living in the San Francisco Bay Area, they went to a Menlo Park storefront to sign up for a dial-up account and for their first e-mail addresses: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. They live and work in a one-bedroom post-and-beam cabin, built in 1985 and surrounded by ten acres of forested land, on a high slope facing a ravine. The property’s original owner was a collector of obsolete industrial machinery, and the house is a collage of California artifacts, including oak floorboards salvaged from nineteenth-century Southern Pacific Railroad boxcars. During my visit, Earth, who is tall and lumbering and wears his hair in a ponytail, identified strains of a Grateful Dead track wafting from the home of a distant neighbor. Fire, who is more assertive and fast-spoken than Earth, has dark hair and fine features that often earn her comparisons to Björk."Click here to continue reading.