Feature Blog

Who Is Dartoid

Today starts a new idea for my blog page. I am introducing what I am calling “Feature Blogs”. These blogs will be focused on individuals, companies, products, etc. Just a little something that a company can do to get their name/product/player/group/event out there for everyone to read about. 

My first “Feature Blog” answers the question: Who Is “Dartoid”?

As someone who puts themselves out there for the world to either relate to or ridicule, I appreciate the kindred spirit that is Dartoid. He is not afraid to put his opinion out there for the world to read. You might like it, you may not. It is the nature of being human. Not all of us are going to agree on everything all the time. We all speak differently too when trying to convey a message to someone else. Not everyone understands what you are trying to say the same way. It’s the bane of any writer’s existence. You show me someone who writes opinion pieces, and I will show you at least one person that disagrees with what the writer says. It is the nature of the beast.

Do I really know Paul or Dartoid? Well, technically, we have never met. Of course, I knew who he was. Anyone with a subscription to BullsEye News or anyone that picked up an ADO Double Eagle knew who Dartoid was by reading his column each time. However, that is as far as our association went back then. It wasn’t until I received a random phone call from my good pal, Stacy B. She calls to tell me that Paul wanted to do a short bio feature for JK during the time when the PDC World Series of Darts qualifiers were going on. I know we were at a tournament and I know we spoke, but for the life of me, I don’t recall the conversation. However, it started a new conversation about darts that over the years has never stopped. Do I talk to Paul and Dartoid now? All the time via email and messages. To be honest, without Paul’s support, many things including my website and blog would not exist. Without the support of a select group of people that Paul is a part of, I would be less inclined to put in all this extra work to do what I can in my own little way to promote darts. So when you talk to people like Paul, and Terry Maness from Horizon/LaserDarts, Scotty Burnett and Kelly Baxter from A-Z Darts, and Charles Peterson from RedEye Rhino, remember to take the time to thank them for supporting the people out there who are trying to make darts better for you. Not only do they work hard for their businesses, they work hard for you, the player, too.

So, with the introduction on his website, aptly named, Dartoid’s World, we are led in with just a little insight into Dartoid and his mission when it comes to darts. While he travels all over the world for work and for fun, his goal is to search for and find what he calls “the elusive Holy Grail”. What Holy Grail you ask? “Playing the perfect game in the perfect darts dive, and a having a perfect beer to go along with it.” Through all his travels and playing darts in sometimes some of the most obscure locations, Dartoid’s World follows those travels and gives you a glimpse into darts in locations you would never think to find a dartboard, let alone someone to play against and the beer to go along with it.   

How many people do you know that would travel all the way to South America, make their way to the top of Machu Picchu, and then travel all the way to Easter Island with a dart board in tow? Those are just a couple of the more recent instances where Dartoid has traveled the world in search of the perfect game of darts.

Back in 2009, Paul did an interview with George Silberzahn. It was pretty lengthy and gave a great glimpse into Paul’s life and the creation of Dartoid. The whole interview can be found on Dartoid’s World, so for now, I am just going bring you a few glimpses into Paul and Dartoid via that interview.

Who really is Paul Seigel?

I was actually born in 1953 so I am something like 35-years-old. I was a swimmer as a kid and into college. I attended the United States Military Academy at West Point but didn’t graduate (although I am an expert at shining shoes). I was a political fundraiser for several years before switching over to the non-profit arena in the 1980s. It was in 1980 that my wife, Marylou, and I were married – and that is the best thing that ever happened to me. Next fall we’ll have been married for 30 years! We have a daughter, Jami, who lives and works in Columbus, Ohio. And we have always had a house full of golden retrievers.

On a purely selfish personal level, slipping into the Dartoid character and writing about darts is always a welcome break from what I do day-to-day. My business is intense, serious, pressure-packed, and non-stop. Some people jog. Others dig in the garden or read. Paul Seigel, as Dartoid, picks up a set of darts or begins to write, and life becomes relaxing and sunny again.

Not that many people have the opportunity to travel all over the world and it isn’t darts that’s made it possible for me; it’s business. Many years ago when I would be away – often for three of four weeks at a time – meetings would begin at breakfast and last through dinner, every day. There was no respite. Then one day – in a sort of epiphany, I suppose – I simply decided the routine was ridiculous and had to stop. So I made a change – I gave my evenings back to myself. Since that time, I have dedicated my evenings and weekends on the road to darts. And then I write about it.

I am a fund-raising consultant. I help international animal protection nonprofit organizations raise money to fund their program activities. That’s the short answer. Truth be known, I don’t think my parents, who have now both passed away, ever had a clue what I do. And sometimes I’m not entirely sure that my clients know what I really do!

My clients are spread around the world. For example, a number of people might recognize the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, founded by Captain Paul Watson. He was one of the co-founders of Greenpeace. The organization is based in Friday Harbor, Washington. For the past two years and again this year there has been a documentary program running on the Animal Planet entitled Whale Wars, where the Sea Shepherd crew battles the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary off Antarctica. To do what the Sea Shepherd’s do – to fuel their ship(s), supply them, feed the crew, and run campaigns elsewhere in the world – costs a bundle of money. The same goes for any nonprofit organization. That’s where professional fundraisers like me fit in.

There are numerous ways to generate income for a nonprofit organization. Starting at the lower levels, of what is commonly called the fundraising “pyramid,” there are small donors, who are generally recruited into an organization with direct mail. There are ongoing direct mail programs, electronic web-based programs, monthly giving programs, major gift giving programs, events, corporate and foundation programs, and then there’s the whole planned gift area where supporters can tailor all kinds of instruments – from simple bequests to things like charitable gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts, and many more – to balance certain tax advantages with their philanthropic desires.

I am generally first asked to do something called a development audit or assessment. I study what an organization has been doing to fund their programs, assess strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and evaluate how what they are doing or not doing is integrated with their communications and campaign functions. The assessment flows into a development (fundraising plan) which I then help implement or provide continuing counsel on. In many situations I write direct mail copy; in others I cultivate and solicit large donors or planned gifts. An average day begins well before daybreak with telephone calls to Europe and Asia and ends late with similar conversations with clients on the west coast. That’s what I do.

Paul’s introduction to darts:

I haven’t had a storied darts career. I’ve thrown darts in many countries and in a lot of remote and exotic out-of-this-world locations, but I am far, far from a professional. I know what to do. I just can’t do it consistently. These days I don’t play league at all. I don’t practice. I might throw for a week or so before a tournament. I still get to tournaments every month or so. To the extent I have had a “career” it all began– just as Dartoid and Dartoid’s World, by accident. 

I was given a dartboard – one of those cheapo paper-wound dartboards – when I was something like 10-years-old. It had a baseball game on the back. I had no idea what was going on. I would just throw handfuls of darts at the bulls-eye. I could stick a dozen of them in there at a time. It beat doing homework. 

About 20 years ago I was waiting with my wife and another couple in the bar in a restaurant while a table was being made ready. There was a couple playing darts against another couple and my friend’s wife asked if I wanted to team up and take on the winner. I said, I knew nothing about darts. She said she’d tell me what to do. So that’s what she did and that’s what I did – and we won!

We all went into the restaurant and I came out about an hour later to get a beer. There was this little hairy guy behind the bar who asked me if I had ever thrown darts before and I sort of chuckled and said I had not. He commented that it appeared earlier I knew my way around the board. Probably I should mention that the little hairy guy was blind? 

Seriously, his name turned out to be Chris James and we eventually became close friends. He wasn’t just the bartender – he owned the whole joint, called Pizza Village in Yarmouthport on Cape Cod. Chris told me he had a darts team that competed in a league. He invited me to stop by some night and check it out. A darts team? A darts league? I’d never heard anything so screwy in my life. There wasn’t a chance in a million years that I was going to get involved in such nonsense.

About six months later though, well after midnight, I was driving by the place and there were some cars parked out front. I figured what the hell, I’d take a look – I’d grab a beer. Inside there was a big match going on. A couple of “D” level teams in the Cape Cod Dart League [CCDL] were going at it and they were having a great time. A half-dozen beers later I was on the team. 

We were called the Village Idiots and over a few years we advanced through the ranks, from “D” all the way to “A” – where we lost in the finals 

As I said, Chris and I became buddies pretty much straight away and he took me around to all the bars with boards – and there were dozens and dozens of them on the Cape. We’d order a beer, play just one game, drink the beer, and head to the next bar. On a few nights each week we’d hit lucks of the draw. My addiction was beginning and Chris was my pusher.

So I played for several years in the CCDL and played in the MMDL for part of a season. During this general period I was traveling to England for about a week each month so I substituted for a team there in Crowborough, East Sussex. I’ve played league in Tampa, Virginia Beach, and Philadelphia – and was even on the league board in Philly for a month, or more technically, one meeting. It was a bit by trial and error, but I learned pretty quickly that being a captain or a tournament organizer or a board member was not for me. I just wanted to play. And write.

How Dartoid was created:

Something like 15 years ago, I bought an annual AOL subscription for $19. If I’d bought $1,000 of AOL stock it would be worth something like $75,000 today. This is just one example of the sacrifices Paul Seigel has made to bring Dartoid to the world. 

In May of 1995, and again purely by accident – Dartoid became the irreverent darts humorist that has written some 400 columns about our sport. Back in those days there weren’t all the websites that exist today – there were only a small handful. One of the forerunners was Rick Osgood’s CyberDarts in Houston.

Rick and I used to e-mail frequently when I traveled – and he had a chat room that I would pop into from time to time. One time when I was in Beijing, Rick and I got to talking and he suggested I find a darts bar in China, write a little story, and send it to him for his website. Marylou, my wife, came across the Beijing column just the other day and told me it was “crap.” Anyway, that was the very first Dartoid’s World column listed at my website. [www.dartoidsworld.com] I haven’t changed a word because I want my wife to be able to actually prove she was right, for once.

When I wrote the first several columns I signed them “From the Field, Dartoid” (and still do). In the beginning, Dartoid was really just a screen name, a pen name – the character was completely undeveloped and only beginning. At the time Dartoid was Paul Seigel and I was having a blast traveling the world and writing about darts. I would go into some bar somewhere without any knowledge whatsoever about the local darts scene. I’d just ask a taxi driver or a hotel concierge where I could find a board.

Early on, a friend of mine in South Africa – David Barritt – who had a public relations firm persuaded me to let him develop the Dartoid idea and give the character personality. David put a fantastic graphics artist on the case – Malcolm Allen, who, sadly, passed away some years ago. It was Malcolm who created the Dartoid’s World logo with the whimsical little World War I flying ace straddling the dart as it zips about the planet. This was the birth of the actual Dartoid persona. Some believe that Dartoid is an alter ego of Paul Siegel, but this isn’t so. He may have been my alter ego when I was in my 20s. If he was my alter ego today, in my mid-50s, I would not be able to keep up with him. One thing is certain: we are not the same. For example, I don’t drink, swear, or look at women.

I get some shtick from time to time from people who think I’m some sort of mixed up soul who doesn’t know who he is or worse, knows exactly who he is but uses the Dartoid character to say things he wouldn’t have the courage to say otherwise. I say to these people, from Paul Seigel: I respect your point of view, but you know not of what you speak, and from Dartoid: Bite my arse!

So I got into all of this by happenstance and without any vision, without any direction, and without any business plan. Dartoid emerged from my mind and experiences and the bits and bobs of others’ – and slowly evolved. In time, Dartoid matured, at least a little, and grew beyond just a crazy, hard drinking, dart throwing, babe ogling dude and into someone who occasionally felt compelled to offer serious commentary about the state of our sport. Dartoid generally yields his column to me at these times.

Fundamentally, my goal, through Dartoid, is quite uncomplicated: to share the joy that is bursting in me for the sport of darts. I try to find the words to share what it’s like to carry a board into the Congo rainforest, nail it to a tree and, to throw to the chorus of a billion insects under a giant starlight sky. I try to share the experience of walking into a bar in a strange land and playing with someone with whom you share not a lick of language in common, but with whom – due to the universal “language” of our sport – you can discuss the finer points of the game, commiserate over missed shots and bounce outs, and even argue about scorekeeping errors. Dartoid and Dartoid’s World is simple: the object is to promote the game I love and hopefully encourage others to give it a go. That’s all I’ve tried to do from the beginning. And this aim will never change. Sometimes I feel the need to bench Dartoid and write something serious, something that I think demands to be said for the good of the sport. I feel very strongly that after a quarter of a decade around the sport at all levels it would be wrong to be silent when serious matters come up.

And some final thoughts:

If darts wasn’t all that darts is – if it wasn’t power and precision, tense but relaxing, literally war among friends – and fundamentally, at least in my book, spiritual – there would be problems. But because the product is so exceptional and the because players, both the old-timers and the new recruits, are so committed, if one of the people in the so-called hierarchy of darts were to drop off the map tomorrow, I have absolute confidence that just as they bubbled up from the ranks new leaders will emerge.

So what I am saying is that if darts wasn’t darts there wouldn’t be players. But because darts is what it is, in every respect, there are players and participation is growing across the States and the world. 

How do Dartoid and Paul Seigel fit in to all this? That’s one of darts’ great mysteries! I suppose after all these years people come to me with questions because they know, quite possibly, I will share a perspective that is unique. I suppose they read the Dartoid’s World column because, for the most part, it’s about the purity of the sport. It’s fun. It’s irreverent. It’s self-depreciating. It’s real. And generally it’s constructed so there is an uncertainty as to what’s coming at the end of each sentence and paragraph – and usually a message. I’d like to think people follow the column because they love darts and know that, whether we agree or disagree on a certain topic, they have a kindred spirit out there – Dartoid – who is certain to make them think while also prompting a chuckle or two.

When it comes to the hierarchy of darts of what is important to darts, you must appreciate that Dartoid and Paul Seigel are nothing but bit players and neither of us take what we do seriously.

The Dartoid’s World stories are true. I lead an interesting life. So does Dartoid.

What Paul Seigel tries to do is find the similarities between the Dartoid character and the rank-and-file darts player and bring those thoughts and feelings – those commonalities – to life. There are only a handful of bona fide professional darts players in the world and even they began as recreational shooters, just the way I did. 

I believe that there is a bit of Dartoid in all of us and what I try to do is help Dartoid speak in a voice that all darts enthusiasts can relate to. The result is Dartoid’s World, a darts column which is simply – unique. This is the same (but unedited) column that, since 1995, has been featured by Bull’s Eye News, the American Darts Organization’s (ADO) Double Eagle and numerous other darts publications and websites around the globe.

Mixing humor and vignettes of local life with useful tips for darters who find themselves at the ends of the earth with nowhere to throw, Dartoid’s World is a must-read, the most widely read column about darts in the world. So grab your arrows and a beer, and get to Dartoid’s World to have some great fun reading all that Dartoid has to say.

You can read the entire interview here: http://dartoidsworld.net/2009/11/column-381-george-silberzahn-interviews-dartoid-and-me/  

Anne Sleepy Kramer www.sleepykramer.com  

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