All right. So who’s this posse I keep talking about?
← Previously: Notes on presentation
UPDATED: 2003.03.16 ¶ Updates are ongoing
All right already. Who’d I schmooze?
My new best friend.
The lore of Adam Greenfield runs like this. During my INTERNATIONAL DATELINE tour of New York, time was spent with J the Z. Adam Greenfield was mentioned. It had been mentioned that I would meet J the Z the forthcoming week, and, I was told, Adam’s eyes grew as big as saucers. I was considered quasigodlike.
Adam Greenfield was ultimately met at a “Mongolian Barbeque Hut,” a locution that deserved quotation marks if ever there were one, considering the low Mongolian population in the tourist district of Austin. He’s quite wee, you know. But he’s interested. The most important person in the room is whoever is with him.
So that’s where I stayed.
Beloved, and with reason.
Now, while chatting with a tall, handsome, and open young man at the Sony booth (he’s trying to figure out what to do with his life, having traveled as far as Bali; that night, what he was doing was picking Woody Harrelson up), a creature reminiscent of Cory Doctorow ambled by. How many creatures reminiscent of Cory Doctorow are not, in fact, Cory Doctorow?
“Cory Doctorow!” I bellowed. Over he ambled. He’s quite svelte now, and nobody, but nobody, dresses as he does.
You do realize he spoke on three panels at SXSW and appeared solo on a fourth? And is credited for setting up the WiFi (“Wiffy”) network at the conference?
He’s got sufficient energy and timeslicing concentration to sit at the Schlotzky’s (just around the wall from us, who didn’t know he was there) and write blogs and a novel. He chatted Adam and me up in the A-list green room, which, I will note, was supplied only with lesbian teas, not a single caffeinated bag available anywhere. I introduced C. to A., a power couple in an alternate universe if ever I saw one.
But here is the killer.
The killer was the stunning Lawrence Lessig presentation. I could only watch half of it before heading to the airport. I was already late arriving. I sat down. Later still was someone who rushed in and stood at the end of my row.
Why, it’s Cory Doctorow, freedom fighter. Late for his own funeral.
He sat down two seats away. (The only ones available. Plus, we were close personal friends by this point.) “How could you be late?!” I stage-demanded, rather like John Cleese and the firing squad.
“I was blogging,” he replied with a shrug.
In half a second Cory had whipped out a quilted metallic yellow rectangle, flipped it over, and unvelcroed two flaps, which revealed two more Velcro flaps. This was his 22nd-century laptop case, and his laptop is, of course, a 12″ PowerBook. He immediately scrolled through Unix
Compared to this, I singletask.
Not, in fact, a mid-40s pasty-faced Brit in a second-rate white shirt and rayon tie.
On the various mailing lists, one reads the name Ian Lloyd and knows he’s British in some way.
During the audience-participation section of my star turn, Ian Lloyd gamely climbed up on stage to demonstrate his accessibility Weblog, Accessify, and promptly froze solid with stagefright. We got him through it eventually. “Ian Lloyd, ladies and gentlemen!” I hammed it up to the crowd.
Now, the big surprise was that this Ian Lloyd is a young fella and not some dissipated career bureaucrat in an ill-fitting white business shirt and a necktie bought for two bob. As it turns out, Ian has fashion sense. And is British. At the same time.
At some party or other, in fact, Ian Lloyd was seen to finger the small red insignia of my shirt. He smirked and nodded.
“Quicksilver,” he said, approvingly, in that British “You’re sorted, then” manner.
(Look at his hyper-moderne suiting!)
We then debated how he would end up that night. I suggested “rat-arsed” and he countered with “bollocksed.” I had to explain why the hell I knew British cuss words. It’s the Python influence, of course.
Next time you meet the lad, ask him what’s wrong with being a Sithifrican. If he’s bollocksed enough, he’ll sing it for you.
Lovely and talented. Both at once.
Doug’s frequent smiles highlight his dimples. But his achievements in standards-compliant all-stylesheets Web design are unmatched for someone his age. (Here again I had figured Douglas Bowman was an ancient social reject with borderline Asperger’s.)
The next day, Doug and his posse were 30 paces in front of us. Aww, I said to my posse, I missed Doug. And he’s wearing the same shirt as me!
For some reason, Doug let his posse walk on without him, turned around, saw me, and walked back. No, not the same shirt, the timeless fear of society dames everywhere. Same something else.
We pulled out our cameras. (Actually, mine was Luke’s.) Both DCS-U20s, which Sony booth babes had tried to impress me with. (I already have one, honey!)
We immediately engaged in 21st-century mutual digicamatio.
I have two lingering impressions:
Better than me. Except this day.
Ben Brown (~.com, Über, Brand ~, J’adore ~, so-new,
Now, my prediction is that Brown’s micropublishing venture, So New Media, is gonna become the next McSweeney’s. (See Heath’s near-transcription.) It’s to the point where I actually wonder if there could possibly be anything I could write for him; that is, I wonder if I’m good enough. Ben’s piss-taking wit and outsized persona camouflage a large storehouse of talent and good judgement of which even he may be unaware.
At root, I am saying “He is that good.”
For SXSW, I had this whole schtick worked out. At the outset of my presentation, I go for it. I says to the crowd, I says,
– Is Ben Brown in the house?
– Is Ben Brown... in the house? No?
– Is Neal Pollack in the house?
– Is Neal Pollack... in the house?
So much for that.
At an important Saturday-night party (as all parties on Saturday nights are), I walked right up to Ben Brown. (Taller than me. Daily.)
– You are Ben Brown.
– That’s right.
– I am Joe Clark. I gave a presentation today and mentioned you.
– About what?
– Accessibility. I had this whole thing planned. I was gonna say “Is Ben Brown in the house?” and then when you raised your hand, I was gonna say “Good. In honour of my arrival, Governor Rick Perry has signed an executive order requiring you to show me your penis. I’ll be in my pyjamas in my hotel room at 9:00.” Then I was gonna say “Is Neal Pollack in the house? Good. Because that same executive order requires you to bring Ben Brown to my hotel room at 9:00.”
Ben Brown laughed. He’s got a nice solid handsome face, with lots of facial hair, because he’s been unlucky with the dermatology. I am a dermatology fetishist, you see. Ask me sometime about pseudofolliculitis barbæ, which poor Ben probably also has.
– Oh, you can just click on it, he said. It’s out there around.
Actually, it is. I’ve seen it. But can’t find it now, of course. In the interim, there’s his own story you could read.
Another source bumped into Ben Brown at the same party and mentioned I was looking for him, which caused Ben Brown to be “creeped out.” Score!
Steven “Tin-Tin” Champeon
Grudge-cherishing, short-tempered “list mom” unsafe at any leather bar.
Early on, I found myself in a knot of people, and realized that the tremendously broad-shouldered, buzz-cut man to my right was in fact Steven “Tin-Tin” Champeon. He wore shorts and beaten-up Top-Siders® with no socks. Steve noticed me and I introduced myself.
“The famous,” he said, taking my hand in his giant paw. “Or infamous,” he said, releasing it.
Days later, at luncheon at Mekong “Charlie Don’t Surf” Delta, he was at the adjoining table.
“Steve.” He looked up.
“I’m going to say hello to you whether you like it or not.”
“Well, I did. The other day.”
“And that’s the last time you need to for life, right?” I said with a snort, and turned back to a table full of people who didn’t hate my guts.
Steve is so vindictive he’ll probably carry out his oft-repeated threat (and cherished dream of many years): Forcibly desubscribing me from the mailing list of which he, a butch exaggeration of the alpha male, is self-described “list mom.”
He’s from Maine and I’m from New Brunswick. This would explain quite a lot.
A sweetie with a personality.
At the party, James Craig said hello. We had what could be described as a tremendously enjoyable and extended chat. He seemed pleased to be in my company. I lassoed Ian Lloyd and other passersby and made introductions. I asked him if he took extra-wide shoes, a question he seemed to have interpreted as a reference to penis size. (It was a question about his shoes, which are not unacceptable.) James snapped what could be the best-ever photo of me – just arrogant enough, and with my telltale forehead angioma in fine form.
James does standards-compliant Web development, lives in Austin, has a wife unit, and is sweet as pie while also having opinions, an uncommon combination.
I have met many sweeties in my life. I marvel at them the way I marvel at a little-understood alien species, like, say, cephalopods.
Updates are ongoing ¶ 2003.03.19