Was enjoying Dreamhost so much... everything just worked. So I got overconfident and decided to use it to host my DNS (moving from godaddy). GoDaddy DNS "total management" is a pain (interface wise).
The key to the whole thing is the fact that I'm not using Dreamhost to host my actual site (opensourcerails.com). I'm using to host all the stuff around opensourcerails. The blog, the email, file shares, etc.
Anyways. Really, really bad move on my part. So it turns out, custom nameserver settings will are NOT the preferred mappings. I wanted opensourcerails.com to be hosted on dreamhost (with a simple redirect www), so I had a www mapping that went to my VPS server.
For the life of me, www would not map. It kept defaulting back to the IP for dreamhost. Even though it was specifically set, and showed up in the custom dns records section.
Oh well. Had to switch things back. Site was dead (and probably still is for some people). Tremendously frustrating experience.
Hopefully I can help warn people of the fundamental rule of sysadmins. If its not broke, dont fix it!