In Memory of Candace Bolter, aka Kale

by Alphaville Herald on 31/03/05 at 1:20 am

Candace Bolter (1978-2005)

This past Monday, Herald co-founder and legal editor Candace Bolter (better known by her TSO name of Kale) passed away after a battle with a string of illnesses ranging from cancer to heart disease to lupus. She was 27 years old.

Candace grew up in Swartz Creek, Michigan, and did her undergraduate work at the University of Michigan at Flint, where one of her philosophy professors described her as the best student he had had in 32 years of teaching. She subsequently entered the graduate program in philosophy at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, which is where I met her — in a course I was teaching on the Philosophy of Time.

At the time we met, Candace was already struggling with her illnesses and found it difficult to travel in to the university, so we decided to hold our meetings in The Sims Online. She subsequently spent quality time in TSO, acquiring a number of close friends, in particular Auntie Bunzie Sockets and Bunzie’s significant other Benny.

Along with our friend Squirrel, Kale and I started the Alphaville Herald in October of 2003, and Kale played a key role in the events that swept the Herald into infosphere. It all began when an avatar named Rich Rockstar came to our residence one day in a confessional mood, claiming to be a kid who had broken his 8 year old sister’s jaw. Perhaps it was made up, but it seemed credible enough so that it should be investigated so I notified EA. The game moderators responded by saying that if I was offended by Rich Rockstar’s words I should put him on ignore. I made my case again, and this time was told I should contact the authorities myself. I called the local police, but had no idea where the user was and the police had no idea what a MMORPG was. Then I gave up. But Candace didn’t.

Candace began writing a series of letters to EA insisting that they had a moral and legal responsibility to at least contact the user in question. When EA stonewalled and tried to blow her off, she became even more persistent. Finally, on December 2, Candace had had enough and she wrote a blistering letter to EA, which included the following memorable passage:

“Quite frankly, this is a very serious issue and your lack of response is not only exasperating but also sickeningly disturbing. I literally lose sleep over this issue, yet everyone at EA must be sleeping so well (on comfy beds from the money your customers provide to you, it might be noted) that no one can even bother to reply to my inquiry.”

Three days later, EA responded that they had finally reviewed the chat logs (a month after the fact), and agreed that indeed local authorities should be notified.

“…after careful review of our web log, we contacted local authorities and identified the player. Resolution of this incident now lies with the local authorities.”

But then, on December 8, The Herald published the interview with Evangeline and my account was subsequently permanently deleted by EA. Candace (Kale) took possession of the Alphaville Herald Headquarters and in the subsequent storm of controversy surrounding the banning, Candace became a powerful advocate for the Herald.

Often too sick to leave her bed she visited the Terra Nova blog regularly and took on the likes of Jeff Cole, Brian “Psychochild” Green and “Phineas” Schwanz, who were concerned that an anti-video game campaign would be spawned by the controversy. Candace had a very firm grip on the legal issues surrounding the case, and consulted with several lawyers on the matter. (She herself planned on going into law school after completing her PhD, and was accepted at UC Berkley’s Law School, but was too ill to attend.)

In the months following the suspension she pursued a number of interesting legal issues in TSO and then SL, and she conducted a classic interview with Cory Linden on the flouting of intellectual property rights by SL users.

I also assigned her some projects that were, in her view, pretty silly, and she used the pseudonym “I.P. Lithium” when publishing those efforts. One such case was when she had to speak to Relina, who claimed to have been loved and then scorned by Mr-President in TSO.

Between these episodes she could be found doing more pedestrian chores like making jam (usually AFK) in the Herald headquarters. She had shaman powers and could raise the dead, and good thing too! Dozens perished from drownings and accidental deaths in the Herald headquarters, but the victims were able to return to their jobs in the robot factory and scam houses thanks to her resurrective powers.

Mostly though, Candace was always deeply concerned about others and their well-being (both in game and in R/L). As sick as she was, she was incredibly sensitive to the disposition of those around her and always worked hard to cheer up someone that she felt was depressed, and always had time to dispense the kind of spiritual and metaphysical advice that befits a philosopher and virtual shaman.

But now, I sit here wondering: was I so self-absorbed that I let her help me with my stupid problems when she was suffering in ways I can’t even imagine? Probably. But fortunately for me Candace was forgiving and by her dictates my penance for any arbitrary crime was listening to Paul Westerberg and drinking single malt scotch.

And so, as I slip in a Westerberg CD and uncork my bottle of Ardbeg, I just want to say: Candace, the scotch is good but I still hate Paul Westerberg. That, and we miss you so much…

14 Responses to “In Memory of Candace Bolter, aka Kale”

  1. Cocoanut

    Mar 31st, 2005

    So sorry to hear this. A tragedy at that young age. What was her name in TSO?


  2. Walker Spaight

    Mar 31st, 2005

    I was so sorry to hear this, Uri. Condolences from myself and the rest of the staff.

  3. Clark Ambassador

    Mar 31st, 2005

    This is definitely a huge loss. What an awesome person, she was.

    She was Kale in Alphaville.

  4. Mr Fairplay

    Mar 31st, 2005

    My condolences to you Uri, very sorry to hear all this. Sounded like an awesome person. May she rest in peace.

  5. Fallen Hasp

    Mar 31st, 2005

    Kale was a very sweet lady I remember coming to visit you both You told me how sick she was Both Julie and I thought that was so sad She was very kind and intelligent

  6. Freyja

    Mar 31st, 2005

    What a loss, sounded like she was a very stong willed woman. You have my condolences…


  7. Levi Anansi

    Mar 31st, 2005

    Beautifully written Uri.

  8. snoopy/Sami

    Mar 31st, 2005

    I’m, stricken with sorrow Uri.Kale was the sweetest person in TSO that I ever met ;we had many late night talks when she couldnt sleep.She always made little of her own problems with her health, and was attentive to the concerns of myself and the others in our house.My thought are with you….. ~snoops ~

  9. Gina Fatale

    Mar 31st, 2005

    Uri i’m so saddened to hear this, i did not know her personally but my thoughts are with you, she sounded like a wonderful person who touched many lives even thru online, my sincere condolences…

  10. Prokofy Neva

    Mar 31st, 2005

    I remember Kale, she made a lasting contribution to the legal history of online games. She was often to be found in the Herald offices jamming and had a sweet disposition. I’m sorry that a person with such promise who made such contributions has passed on, and I’m glad TSO was able to take away some of the limitations of her life when it was marred by sickness.

  11. Kiss

    Apr 1st, 2005

    A very well written piece about the loss of a great person. When somebody writes mine I hope they speak from the heart as eloquently as you have Uri. Although I know you are not looking for kudos for your tribute to her, I’m sure she would be very proud of your words.

    As an old fart, it kicks me in the ass to see the passing of an upbeat and intelligent young person. Although I’m sure she wouldn’t want us feeling sorry for her, I can’t help but to do so anyway. To be dealt a crappy hand and remain upbeat and helping others makes her a far better person than many of us could ever hope to be.

    My sincere condolences to her family, friends, and the people who loved her.


  12. RB

    Apr 3rd, 2005

    Wow. That is really sad. :( checking SLH every 2-3 days and i see this? whoa. Condolences to you Uri, i know you were very close. So young, such a tragic loss.

    She’ll live on in your blog and your memories tho. :)

    - RB

  13. Peter Ludlow

    Apr 3rd, 2005

    Many thanks to everyone for sharing their sympathies and memories of Kale in this thread. It’s odd, but I knew her a lot better online than in r/l — at school our relations were much more formal. The other thing is that in r/l she was always dealing with the effects of medication and would move and speak slowly, almost as if fast movements would make her ill. Online I got to see her brilliant energy and quick wit. Maybe as a consequence I didn’t feel closure until I read the comments here.

    Special thanks go out to always_black, who reprinted obituary on his blog today so that it would get the click-throughs from the New York Times article on New Games Journalism. How cool is that.

    Finally, if anyone knows how I can get in touch with Aunti Bunzie Sockets I would really like to notify her of Kale’s passing. Also, Stella, if you are still in touch with Pimcess Julie could you let her know?

  14. Reuben Linden

    Apr 4th, 2005

    This was really touching.

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