The Digerati and Me

Last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine theme, “How We Watch Stuff,” compelled me to log into the Netflix community page and summon data for what Sonoma is watching. Yes, you can do that. It’s kind of wrong, but it’s also kind of cool – like looking at your ex’s profile on Facebook. ­At present writing, the flick climbing through most of Sonoma’s Netflix cues is “Life Before Her Eyes,” which appears to be a metaphysical-drama about the “15th anniversary of a tragic high school shooting,” wherein “Diana (Uma Thurman) flashes back to a time when her teenage self (Evan Rachel Wood) and best friend, Maureen (Eva Amurri), dreamed of leaving their small town.” Suddenly, I’m wary of the class of ’93.
The Times arrives on our doorstep in printed form for reasons the Contessa has yet to satisfactorily justify. As someone who reads the majority of my news online (including, I find the notion of dead-tree media irksome. My wife likes to cuddle up with coffee, the Times and while away Sunday morning – occasionally dispatching me for toast. Meanwhile, I’m trying to wet-wire my frontal lobe to my laptop.

Clearly, I’m not averse to the online encroachment upon traditional media – I avidly encourage it, live it and hope to one day upload my neural scan to my Web site so that I might rhapsodize digitally until the grid goes out. I Google myself as often as someone with OCD might wash their hands, which is way more than is healthy, like most of what is enjoyable in life (go ahead, Google me, you know you want to). I could probably be diagnosed as having OCD due to the amount of vanity-searches I do in a day. It’s an obsession. A compulsion. A wigwam, a teepee. My sister, my daughter. Somebody slap me.

Saturday night, I was at the YouTube Live shindig at Fort Mason (Flash Lely was on assignment elsewhere, so I’m solo in this episode of our continuing adventures). I pocketed his press pass when I retrieved my own before joining my colleagues, who were busy ogling songstress Katy Perry on the press room’s flat screen. Perry looks as if she could be actress Zoey Deshanel’s kinkier kid sister (after all, “I Kissed a Girl” is her anthem). She was one of 50 performers promised by the YouTube press release, which padded the bill with Brandon Hardesty, best known for reenacting movies; uber-guitarist Joe Satriani; MC Hammer; and Katers 17, a blogger-turned- Starburst pitch-person, among others.

Digital video cameras swarmed like moths anytime someone shiny walked into our quarters. For kicks, I carried a single Reporter’s Notebook – the only in the room. I took some notes and decided I deserved some Google booze for my troubles. A crowd hovered at the beer stand, just a pace from a green screen shooting gallery. Then I spied some cash making its doleful journey from a reporter’s wallet to a bartender’s pinching black nails. He had paid for his beer. I was appalled. Google shares were up nearly 2 percent that day after all. I split. As I exited, a cadre of 20-somethings, manning another bar that was all but ignored, protested that they too were selling booze. I retorted “And that’s the issue.” It’s not about the booze, it’s about tradition, but I suppose that is the weltschmerzen of doing a 20th century gig in the 21st century. You can’t have both.

Outside the pavilion, two bloggers who apparently weren’t canny enough to be “accredited members of the media,” hovered at the gate, unable to get in. I slapped my press passes into their grateful hands and walked gamely into the fog.