Henry is The Man

So there's this guy named Henry Earl. He lives in Lexington, KY. I don't know much about him except that he goes by the name "James Brown", (which is cool in and of itself) and that he likes to get drunk. He likes to get drunk a lot. And he gets busted a lot. As in "900+ times in the last 13 years" a lot. He spends roughly twice as much of his life in jail as out. His rap sheet is pages and pages long. Henry would surely take the gold in any Boozer Olympics competition.

Well, Henry has earned something of a cult following (he's even been mentioned in Newsweek/MSNBC). The Fayette County jail posts mug shots of their offenders, and of course, there's plenty of Henry. Most of them are very amusing. Some more than others, but there are a lot of them. To make a long story short, Fark picked up on Henry and now he's fast on his way to becoming an Internet Legend. And why not? Henry's exactly the right balance between extremely pitiful and incredibly amusing. You feel bad for him on one hand, but then the guy looks so strangely happy in (most of) his mugshots. And if you read the stories about him, you'll see that he's got an awful lot of personality. Certainly more than your basic town drunk. Henry is an icon, a work of performance art. He's like an Otis Campbell for the 21st century. He's our schadenfreudic touchstone of intoxication.

Henry's Impressive Record

Henry's become so popular that Drew, the guy who runs Fark, was asked by guys at Fayette County to stop linking directly to their offender database as the traffic was crashing their server. Was it the number of bytes in his record or the traffic trying to get at it? I'd say both. I guess people couldn't get enough Henry. You have to admit, his record is just stunning. It's even hard to look at it and estimate how many times he's been in the clink for booze. It's like trying to guess how many golf tees are in the jar, or how many ping pong balls are in the station wagon. It just can't be done by the human mind with anything like the precision that it deserves.

I just had to get some sense of the overall scale of Henry's recidivism. And since Henry's record is somewhat beyond my limits of comprehension, I decided to hack up a little perl script to go to the Fayette County jail's web site, grab his rap sheet, and figure up some non-scientific, back-of-the-envelope type statitstics regarding Henry's time behind bars. I needed the big picture numbers. And it was only natural to have this program run once a day automatically. That way we'll always have the latest info.

Automating it was clearly the only way. I mean, the guy's in jail far more frequently than even the most obsessive-compulsive person could update a web page, so automation is absolutely necessary when dealing with the list of Henry's offenses. (A few other Henry fan sites have copy-and-pasted his record in from the sheriff's site, but none of them do it every day, and so all of them are out of date.) I figured it would also help reduce the load on the police's web site, since I set it up to grab a copy of his rap sheet at 2am Kentucky time. Now every day will bring fresh Henry. You can see his latest stats over there on the left.

More Info About Henry

Even though there are a few other, more "full-featured" web sites devoted to Henry, none had the capability to display real-time jail stats -- hence this page. If you want to know way more about Henry than I'm willing to add here, check the links on the side. Those sites have forums and fan art and all manner of things I'm too lazy to bother with. I already wrote the script, so I'm letting it do the work. Go here for the raw facts, those links on the left for the full story.

Feel free to link to this page as much as you want. This server doesn't have any real bandwidth restrictions; at least, none that will be encountered by traffic to this page. Also, let me know if you think there's anything I should add here, you have a link, whatever. I'm toying with the idea of making an RSS feed for Henry, so people can include live Henry stats on their own pages. If that's something you'd like to see, let me know. If enough people ask, I'll code it up.

Oh, be sure to check out this animated GIF another Henry fan named Rich made. It's a good way to get the long view of Henry Earl.

Donate to Henry

If you'd like to help Henry tilt at his windmills, you can send a check (or, probably preferrably, a money order) directly to Henry at:
Detention Center : Henry Earl #337
600 Old Frankfort Circle
Lexington , KY 40510
The sheriff will hold the mail there for him and he can pick it up on his next visit.

UPDATE: Come to find out that the sheriff will not hold the money for Henry, as he owes plenty of it to them for all his arrests. So send money to the address above if you like, but know it'll only help get him out of debt.

UPDATE 2: I removed the links to the cafepress site, since people thought that I was somehow profiting from Henry's wayward ways. Uh huh. $110/month in hosting fees is a lot of t-shirts to sell when they're priced at like 50 cents over cafepress's minimum. I sent Henry's check to the sheriff, so at least he's partially out of debt. Though he probably could have used the 12 bucks and change that's been building up in my cafepress account for the last year and a half...

About That Henry Status Firefox Plugin...

A couple kind fellows wrote extensions to the Firefox web browser which grab the RSS XML feed file (from the link over there left). These extensions show you what the state of Henry is by placing a notification in the browser window somewhere. I was pretty stoked when I initially installed it. It's a cool idea, and I'm all for it (that's why I went to the trouble of providing an RSS file in the first place).

But there's a problem. The most popular extension is set to check this site every 30 minutes. That's too often. The script that gets the scoop on Henry's latest exploits gets updated once per day. There's no need whatsoever to fetch the XML file every half hour. Forty-seven out of the 48 times it gets checked, it won't have changed -- except that one time late at night. So this is kind of annoying. But, meh... I don't really care all that much.

There is, however, another problem. A few kind and considerate fellows have downloaded the plugin and altered it to check the XML file once per second. This is, to put it mildly, not a very nice fucking thing to have done. I have nothing but hatred in my heart for these bottom-feeders. It's not that they're hurting the server or costing me money or anything -- I just hate them on principle. They personally expended time and effort to try and cause me grief. So no love there.

I've put a solution in place that should bring things back to a more civilized state. Unfortunately, it's an imperfect solution, and it might (probably will, actually) affect the more legitimate visitors to this site. But it had to be done.

If you've run into trouble with your Firefox extension or an RSS aggregator, let me know and I'll try to work something out. But first take a little time out of your day to thank the malcontents who caused all this trouble to begin with.

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