Billaxy Blues: Troll Takes Down Septuagenarian Blogger

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The web persona known as “Billax” may have been “wearing the Ivy League Look since 1958” — the name of his website — but it only took a couple of years of blogging to get creeped out by a troll and decide to quit.

On Sunday Billax announced that he is shuttering the site after a fellow member of the Ask Andy Trad Forum began to copy not only his outfits, Billax claims, but to copy his prose as well — in other words, a double-whammy of sartorial and literary plagiarism.

Now while that may sound creepy, it’s also pretty petty in the grand Internet scheme of things, where things like doxing and leaked nude pics are the norm. Apparently the AAAT member has had other online altercations, was reprimanded for this particular instance, and one would assume that this drama would eventually subside and Billax could go back to sharing his thoughts and outfits without some idiot presenting them as his own.

Instead, Billax stated to Ivy Style in an email:

The world of screen-name Internet fora is susceptible to weak-willed, low-ethics, wannabe superstars. One of them just settled on me as a source of words to be stolen. Not really surprising, just very disheartening that well educated professional writers – like the guy who stole from me – feel the need to use someone else’s words as a platform to have their screen name become credible. I guess that’s what Internet fame is all about.

The offending user has already taken up at Film Noir Buff — the so-called “Devil’s Island” of menswear forums — and there is a thread in which he attempts to explain his actions.

Now it’s no fun to have a creepy stalker obsessed with you on the Internet. I managed to inspire Tradsville’s most notorious — Jimmy Frost Mellor, aka “Russell Street” — who spent years spouting vile stuff about me on the web. But such is the price for being a public figure, which is what being a blogger is. Imagine what it’s like being Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump, with tens of thousands of slanders spat forth about you every day.

In 2013, in the wake of the WASP 101 scandal (if that’s the right word), I wrote an essay called “Blogging Is Publishing And Publishing Is A Public Act.” This may be an opportune time to revisit it. Based on observation, the shelf-life of an amateur vanity blog is rather limited, and Tradsville is full of instances such as the following:

* Blog has adverse effect on blogger’s real job.

* Blogger runs out of ideas and has to apologize to fans for ceasing posts.

* Blogger stops blogging, takes down site rather than leaving it up for posterity, befuddling fans in the process, puts it back up again only to take it down again, etc., etc.

* Blogger overshares private life, gets freaked out, scrubs blog, and attempts to retreat into anonymity.

* Blogger inspires thread on Get Off My Internets.

Billax has fans, some of which will no doubt respect his decision, while others will be disappointed. But even that is part of being a blogger. You have to accept the old adage that you can’t please all of the people all of the time. I don’t mean just ponder those words for a moment in a desultory manner, I mean actually accept them and commit to what they mean. You need very thick skin to put yourself online — even when you chop your head off in photos and hide behind an anonymous username. Billax wanted the protection of anonymity for himself, but was shocked when another used that same anonymity protection for petty and trollish purposes. It’s like free speech: people staunchly invoke their right to free speech, but get furious when others invoke theirs.

I hope Billax will continue to be a citizen of Tradsville in some capacity. Not only is he a first-hand witness of the Ivy heyday, I always felt he embodied an important sartorial lesson for those inclined to dress themselves in a paint-by-numbers fashion. Billax embraces the entire genre of the Ivy League Look, all the colors, all the items, all the combinations. He has enough innate style to see beyond stale formulas such as blazer, khakis, loafers, blue OCBD and rep tie, and within the wide parameters of a fixed genre he expresses himself marvelously. In the words of Goethe, it is in limitation that the master reveals himself. — CC

38 Comments on "Billaxy Blues: Troll Takes Down Septuagenarian Blogger"

  1. Billax is a gentleman and a scholar in the best of all possible worlds.

  2. Caleb Durant | February 2, 2016 at 8:26 pm |

    This is really too bad. Billax singlehandedly converted me to trad about a year ago, I am sure we will all miss his wonderful blog posts and outfits.

  3. Mr. Billax,

    As frustrating the experience you hay have had with one to a handful of trolls… I would ask you to take a moment and reflect at the quite possibly hundreds of positive interactions you’ve had with people on forums, ivy-style, and your own site (Which I just found tonight!). After a few min visiting your site, it’s a real gem, and the knowledge you’re sharing will help younger men like myself (who’ve been trying to learn the historical nuances of the Ivy League look). I would implore you to NOT delete the content you’ve put out into the world. Perhaps take a break and step away for a bit, but please for posterity sake, leave it up for us good guys!

    E

  4. Agree,is a real Gentleman and a fine man.

  5. Billax has a great blog, and he’s a true inspiration. But I’m not sure I understand. All it takes is some pipsqueak whom Billax perceives is a plagiarist to shut him down? Something else is going on here.

  6. Indeed, Internet drama from what I’ve heard. I attempted to interview Billax via email but all I got was the above statement.

  7. I had the pleasure of meeting Billax out of the Trad blue at J. Press a few years back. He is a sincere, Ivy purist whose good intentions and works have been unnecessarily sullied by an idiot.

  8. Say it ain’t so! Billax is such a stylemaster and such a gentleman. His posts are a conduit to a much more civilized past. Bummer. Let’s hope he reconsiders.

  9. A few points:

    First, I take exception to the blog post title. The “troll” didn’t take Billax down. Rather, Billax decided on his own to cease making blog entries. The title makes it sound like the troll won some kind of wrestling match. This is hardly the case.

    Second, this isn’t Internet drama. It’s Internet creepiness. I witnessed the troll’s appropriation of Billax’s words and persona over and over again on the Ask Andy forum, to the point where anyone who read Billax’s blog with any regularity could see the plagiarism. I’m referring to the words and phrases, not the outfits. The troll obviously took it upon himself, for whatever reason, to fashion a fake persona in the image of Billax.

    Third, this same Internet troll repeatedly exhibited boorish behavior. After being expelled from another menswear forum (for presumably similar conduct issues), the troll reappeared using the screen name “Billox.” At Ask Andy, this troll began using my screen avatar as his own–until I asked him to stop. The troll also made repeated requests of a young high school man to post photos of his prom date’s outfit. The troll dominated certain threads with ceaseless posting, editing and re-editing his entries, attempting to efface remarks that irked other members. But really, most of the members were already on to his game.

    Get the picture?

    And now this brazen troll chooses to surface on yet another menswear forum, with yet another screen name, and defend his plagiarist actions (albeit in non-convincing fashion). I’d feel sorry for this person, who may need professional help, except for the fact that he seems to think he’s done nothing wrong.

    Finally, I think we can agree that Billax is a gentleman with impeccable taste and comportment. I hope he will reconsider ending his inspiring blog. But who can blame him for wanting to step away from blogging after encountering such creepy behavior?

  10. Main Line Philly | February 2, 2016 at 11:55 pm |

    The creep engaged in plagiarism, not trolling. Billax screened all comments on his blog and thus prevented trolling.

    He also unintentionally provided Billax with a (welcome?) way to bow out gracefully. I was a faithful follower of Billax’s vanity blog and even tolerated the photos of his at-least-one-size-too-small sportcoats out of gratitude for the detailed information he provided.

  11. Grey Flannels | February 3, 2016 at 12:33 am |

    The disappearance of Mr. Billax’s blog has served once again as an opportunity to engage in bashing of Orthodox Trad afficionados. I refer to the comment “stale formulas such as blazer, khakis, loafers, blue OCBD and rep tie”. That “stale formula” appeals to some of us far more than Mr. Billax’s grab-bag approach. To each his own.

  12. Nom de Plume | February 3, 2016 at 3:41 am |

    Now the gentleman will have more time to dine at white linen tablecloth restaurants with The Classic Beauty, as he was so fond of telling us.

  13. Although this is none of my business, I feel compelled to add two points to what has already been said:
    a. In his FNB explanation, the troll/plagiarist went so far as to say: “as for lifting the language, yes, I admit that I may have done that, but frankly, I have no original thoughts of my own on Ivy trad style. I admire Billax’s own original thinking, and if I lifted from it, I did not do so with the intention to misrepresent myself or discredit or slight Billax”. I think Billax’s outlook would lead him to think: “if you have no original thoughts on a topic, shut up. Do not write about it by stealing somebody else’s thoughts”. And I think he must have felt disgusted by what his plagiarist argued –as I feel, too– and shocked at the leniency with which it is taken. I would not expect a mob to beat up the culprit, but I would like to see him abused and publicly disgraced.
    b. I must also say, Christian, that in your title and article you come across as a bit disrespectful towards Billax and that is completely uncalled for. Amongst other things, his is not a commercial endeavour –unlike yours– and that means that he does not need to develop the thick skin you mention. Because his money comes from elsewhere, he can just stop blogging. He, in other words, does not need to take shit from anyone.

  14. Ward Wickers | February 3, 2016 at 9:22 am |

    I view this as unfortunate. I got a lot out of Billax’s blog. Not everything posted was for me, of course, but a lot was.

    When it comes to the social side of the internet, people often seem to forget how to behave. It’s as if some are suddenly freed of social restraints and they act in an unsustainable, screwball manner. Their words and acts are purposefully challenging. They want recognition or seek out drama, or both. Two centuries ago, you would expect a slap across the face with a glove and a duel at the next dawn. The internet, however, offers no face to slap. It’s all (mostly) anonymous. But it still juices the ego. If others take the bait–which is pretty predictable as they have egos, too, a barroom brawl ensues, but no fists or beer mugs are flying. How thrilling! You get to fight to the death for your words and no one dies. When all the nonsense is cut away, it’s just stimulation and a break from the humdrum of monotonous lives, like a grammar school recess without proctors.

    I think our evolution has yet to catch up with our technology.

  15. Reactionary Trad | February 3, 2016 at 9:35 am |

    Billax merits no apology from Christian or any of us, except for the lone troll.
    We have humored his narcissism out of kindness to a septuagenarian who seems to have had little to do other than post photos of himself in outfits that are hardly representative of the best in Ivy style.
    One seriously wonders if he will now spend all his time in front of a mirror, now that he has deprived himself of an audience.
    He would do well to donate most of his costumes to a thrift shop and take Mr. Bruce Boyer, for example, as a model of how a gentleman can dress colorfully without going overboard.

  16. Grey Flannels: Are khakis and blazers really something we need to see more pictures of on the Internet?

    I sympathize with Billax, the Internet is weird and people do and say strange, nasty things they wouldn’t dream of repeating in person. But the choices are, brush it off (like Kiel James Patrick, who is much maligned and deals with trolls hilariously), address it head on (Christian takes this approach), or severely limit your internet exposure (HTJ, Muffy, WASP 101, and now Billax).

    Abuse, public disgrace, shutting down websites, ths is all troll food. The only way to stop trolls is to starve them of attention, which can be excruciatingly hard to do.

  17. Are khakis and blazers really something we need to see more pictures of on the Internet?

    They are for young men just starting out or converts to this style. Without converts this style dies. While every outfit Billax displayed wouldn’t look good on me or be my taste, he provided a service for free. Narcissism is too harsh a claim.

  18. He will be missed. It would be nice if this sort of thing was less common, but Internet anonymity seems to truly bring out the worst in some folks.

  19. To each their own. Billax put forth positive energy and effort and I enjoyed his blog. He appeared to be genuinely passionate about the topic and providing guidance to those who sought it out. I wish him well. Hopefully he has time for more adventures with the classic beauty. Nobody needs menswear internet drama in their life.

    Best wishes Billax!

  20. Charlottesville | February 3, 2016 at 11:36 am |

    Count me among those who will miss Billax. As others have said, every outfit he posted may not have been for me, but no one is under an obligation to copy his look, and many of the pieces and combinations he posted were quire nice. However, he was often at his most interesting when on the subjects of manners and recollections from the heyday. I can understand being frustrated with trolls, plagiarists, and hypercritical commenters, all of which abound on the internet, but I will miss his blog just the same.

  21. @JD

    I think you missed my point, especially my linking to the previous essay “Blogging is a public act.” It doesn’t matter that the blog was for personal gratification (posting pictures of yourself wearing clothes for others to admire) rather than commercial (posting articles about clothes for others to be informed).

    He chose the public medium of the Internet. This was not a privately circulated email list. I think people who are motivated to do this think they will just attract a small number of like-minded gentlemanly followers, but that’s not the harsh reality of what they’re doing.

    It’s publishing, publishing is public, and you need thick skin as eventually you’ll attract a crazy. Billax finally did, yet what his crazy did was quite mild. Still it was enough for Billax to call it quits.

  22. I would visit Billax’s blog from time to time and enjoyed it very much. He seems like a very nice man. Just as Charlottesville, I appreciated his recollections of the ivy heyday more than his outfits which, in my opinion, seemed a bit too spot on most of the time. He never seemed to be comfortable in the outfits he wore and they never seemed to have even the slightest wrinkle. That being said, I would very much like to have half as much style as he when I am in my seventies. Mine will be a 3/2, rep, khaki, weejun, worn with disregard kind of style with the occasional Nantucket Red thrown in to keep from being stale

    Cheers,

    Will

  23. I’m sympathetic to Billax and respect his right to intellectual property. I also recognize that blogging is a public act and I’m not sure how our traditional & academic understanding of plagiarism applies to it. I don’t want to be critical of him for wanting to discontinue his blog (to Christian’s earlier point, I had to put my own “vanity blog” on hold due to lack of ideas) but I don’t think he should let such a troll discourage him.

    Billax offered more than #WIWT posts and I rather enjoyed his stories and anecdotes. He’s had a long life and there is quite a bit to be learned from him. We all blog to fulfill certain personal & intellectual needs, whether it be vanity, teaching, or meeting others with similar interests. Internet weirdos are a dime/dozen and one cannot let them ruin whatever enjoyment you get from writing, even if it’s just “look what I wore today.”

  24. @Reactionary Trad “We have humored his narcissism out of kindness to a septuagenarian who seems to have had little to do other than post photos of himself in outfits that are hardly representative of the best in Ivy style.”

    Speak for yourself, please. Don’t use some unknown “we” to espouse your opinions. That’s what people do when few others agree with them and they want to make it look like they have some base of support.

  25. @Christian
    Thanks for your reply. I do not think I missed your points (in plural); I merely disagree with them, and then again not completely.
    I do think you are disingenuously setting up a false opposition when you confront “personal gratification (posting pictures of yourself wearing clothes for others to admire)” and “commercial (posting articles about clothes for others to be informed)”. The association of “personal gratification” to vanity (a term you use in your article and which I find very unfortunate) and of “commercial” to “informing others” is untenable: I think that Billax’s blog was itself fairly informative and he had an angle which few other people have. A site with commercial intent, such as this one, is not commercial because it purports to inform people, but because its owner is trying to earn money with it (which is, I hasten to add, perfectly legitimate).
    It is not for me –nor for you, I believe– to say whether Billax overreacted to plagiarism of his words. To focus on that is to miss the gist of the matter: that some people are unethical enough to plunder other people’s ideas and present them as their own; and that someone with strong ethical views, as Billax seems to be, is likely to be disgusted by this contemptible procedure, and decide that he wants out.
    The consequence of all this is that the public loses an interesting and original –albeit idiosyncratic– voice and the buffoon that ripped him off keeps peddling his inane wares. It is, I am sure you will agree, a sad state of affairs.

  26. Lest we spend too much time hypothesizing the why, it’s worthwhile noting that he is also shutting down his other lacrosse blog. http://norcallacrosse.blogspot.com/

  27. @JD

    Fair enough, we disagree.

    I’ve been plagiarized, as has Ivy-Style.com (a contributing writer), in book form.

    A guy stealing my words to post anonymously on a message board seems pretty trivial.

    But, as we’ve both pointed out, Billax and I have different professions and different purposes on the Internet.

    C.

  28. Worried Man | February 3, 2016 at 3:00 pm |

    I must say that from my own interactions with Billax he always struck me as truly passionate and completely genuine. I have nothing but respect for the guy.

    As for “Chipper”, as he’s calling himself over on FNB, I have taken the stand as a moderator over there that he should be allowed to prove his own worth as a poster on our forum; quite a test as there are of course a good many Billax lovers over there. Not really an easy position for me to assume either, as I have a great deal of admiration for Billax.

    I am rather perplexed as to why an older man, who’s seemingly educated and is in a professional position that has apparently nothing to do with style or clothing, would feel the need to glom the words and admittedly ape the style of Billax. Perhaps if we knew the guy personally the reason(s) would be obvious.

    I had my own encounter with a real internet nutjob early in my membership over on FNB with outright personal attacks and weird behind-the-scenes drama. After becoming a moderator I was then privy to exactly what happened and the member’s true identity was unveiled. After confronting the guy, and then communicating with him via private message, I chose the rather noble path of not banning him on the spot, even though the other moderators were completely in my corner. Months passed, the guy continued posting, and we kept communicating… Long story short – I ended up actually liking the guy and, as he seems to have moved on and no longer posts, I often wonder how he’s doing.

  29. @James Looks like he shut the lacrosse blog down back in 2013, FYI.

  30. It’s too bad. I liked his blog. I hope he brings it back.

  31. The fact that since Sunday only 36 people have left comments on Billax’s blog itself regretting the closing down of his blog should tell us something.
    See: http://wearingtheivyleaguelooksince1958.blogspot.com.tr/2016/01/end-of-road.html#comment-form

  32. Thanks, rmpmcdermott. Good catch.

  33. Vern Trotter | February 4, 2016 at 5:20 pm |

    Lacrosse season is upon us. Perhaps he will take some time off, go to some games, pick the eventual champ, (Johns Hopkins?) and return stronger than ever!

    Long ago, I believe it was Richard Nixon who said, “Don’t let the bastards get you down!”

  34. I’ll admit I didn’t follow Billax’s blog regularly. The pictures reveal a unique and praiseworthy sense of style. It’s obvious he appreciates quality tailoring and top drawer cloth. Good for him. Too many men, as they grow older, retreat to the lowest common denominator (sartorially speaking). Not Billax. Nice to see somebody holding the line.

    I suspect most of us have encountered pictures from older Apparel Arts magazines. I confess that nowadays I am inspired as much by them as any other source. I’ve been seen handing pictures to my tailor while demanding, “I want the jacket to look like this” (always undarted, plenty of length, and wider shoulders and lapels than Heyday Ivy orthodoxy allows).

    Billax’s style, a raised fist to the Heyday narrowness, calls those old Apparel Arts pics to mind–the embrace of colorful tweeds, interesting yet always tasteful neckwear, eye-grabbing topcoats, loafers that transcend the adolescent dowdiness of the tried-and-true Weejun. And boy-oh-boy did his collars roll.

    By accident I was delayed in discovering Billax. For this, I am sorry. Return soon, Billax.

  35. I enjoyed Billax’s posts and blog. He was the real deal, and explained how and why he wore Ivy (since 1958), unlike certain recent internet Trad stars who are trying to make money (KJP) or just look different than their friends.

    As to someone’s snarky comment above about fit, I was always impressed by the fit of Billax’s clothes. He did a good job of explaining his preference for no break pants, and tailored jackets.

  36. “…outfits that are hardly representative of the best in Ivy style…”

    What would the “best in Ivy style” constitute?

    Wait. Let me guess. Blazers and wrinkled khakis. Accessorized by…

    …penny loafers?

    AWESOME.

  37. MythReindeer | February 6, 2016 at 12:06 am |

    I guess he’ll need to complain about birth control pills in person, from now on.

  38. Henry Contestwinner | February 6, 2016 at 3:19 pm |

    I’d say that “birth control pills made us think we could be completely irresponsible” is a factual statement, not a complaint, though it could also be a lamentation for the horrors The Pill has unleashed upon us.

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