October 27th, 2003


You are now friends with Jerry Lee...

For the first time in ages, I am finding it hard to know quite how to start writing. It's not for a shortage of subject matter, it's easy find a point to start from. No, it's that frazzled brain effect that you get from zipping through web pages at high speed. So, I should be drinking jasmine rather than java, calm down. Let the synapses... do what ever synapses should be doing.

I received a Friendster testimonial at last from Wynd's brother Michael. I don't think it's going to do much for me really, it reads as follows: 'A drug crazed guitar playing gadget obsessed recluse whose companionship is highly entertaining and most rewarding.' My new mobile didn't impress him then... I may be reclusive by some people's standards, but I don't think I'm gadget obsessed by a long way. As for drug crazed, well, drug scarred would have been better. Maybe something along the lines of 'Recovering addict...' even. Should Friendster ever come through as a means to meet new people, the least impression I want to make on anyone is that we're going to spend any of our time together getting fucked up on drugs. Hmmm, he looks good for a weekend of Benylin, ketamine and yohimbe. I'm not. Wynd still hasn't come through with his testimonial either. He really needs to work on his typing skills. I hope his brain is remaining fairly intact out there in Tampa. I vaguely worry. Those waters can turn deceptively shallow.

Reading about the gradual ejection of fakesters from the site (see entry below), made me give up on the idea of it. So I had a look at one of the alternatives that I came across, which was Tribe. Now, in some ways, this one makes more sense to me. It's doesn't have anything Friendster doesn't offer and it's unfussed about spurious fake avatars. One particular addition it has is the inclusion of groups. So, unlike the Friendster noisy bar-hopping style I've mentioned before where you can't hear anything and have to look at people in a fairly voyeuristic way, here you can at least get a better sense of people should you wish, or at least you're given more free rein to express yourself. What this seems to mean in practice is that people are collecting groups over collecting friends. So far, I've signed up for a few such as 'Placing Things On Other Things', 'Bob Wills Is The Apex of Western Civilization', 'Lefty Frizzell Kicks Hank Williams' Ass'...

One of the drawbacks of the site is its smaller size. Friendster is huge now and gearing up for public flotation, that's part of the reason the fakesters are being hunted down and exterminated. Tribe is Frisco-based and still largely focused on the West Coast. A cursory fifteen minutes looking around the site (and watch out for those synapses, children) makes me also conclude that about 75% of the current population have been to Burning Man. The site is therefore very heavy on the whole plethora of alternative lifestyles. This means a lot of women with Betty Page haircuts, plenty of piercings, tattoos and social experimentation - a song I'm writing at the moment includes the line "There goes another Betty Page haircut", it's the only line at the moment - so London it is not precisely. Nevertheless, the weight towards this section of American society means there's precious little danger currently of running into fascists (for want of a better term, this slapdash one will have to do until I can think of a word that more precisely encapsulates my general aversion to insular, ill-informed...etc). I could be proved wrong.

The challenge about American culture is its deceptive similarity to our own. I grew up looking at America and it's a land known largely from film and tv. My mother was born in Chicago and lived there until she was in her early teens, but I've never met anyone from the American side of the family who appeals to me, except my cousin Sean, who I've never met anyway. It's just our lives have been curiously similar along some of the way. My step-grandfather, Greg, who worked for some military connected company if memory serves me right, came over to England with my grandmother (who I only know as Mom, what was her name?). His gift was a baseball, mitt and bat. Of course, he hadn't considered the possibility I was left-handed. Catching was fine, but my pitching really did suck. Mom was okay, but she was after all a woman who had abandoned my mother and sister as children and packed them off to relatives in Ireland. I always had the impression that she had been a bit of a bar-hop once upon a time. The rest: well, Aunt June has married I don't know how many times, there's that one who's a policeman out in Santa Monica. They all look so bloody straight in their photos. Too much good dentistry smiling, nuclear family cosiness and it's all so hard to swallow. The messages these pictures contain. What lies beneath? The photo I remember of Sean is at his wedding, where he seems to be wearing a grin that might be described as shit-eating (except I don't really know what that means, this is the memory of the photograph), he's wearing a beige suit of some description, cowboy boots, moustache and dark glasses. I realise that in my memory he's slowly turning into Sean Penn. He looks human, that's my point. We've emailed, but not recently. He's got failings and challlenges. That makes me like him. I'd like to meet him one day. Where is he now? His wife died recently. She'd been taking care of him and he of her. I should get in contact. He spoke about just going off and wandering for a while. Yes, I will... Sean's been to Burning Man a few times himself.

I set up my Tribe account, where I am known as La Contessina di Sarmoung. I've used that photo of myself from Dollywood - so I've gone up a few chest sizes or so. I remember the assistant saying "You've got some bags under your eyes there honey, I'm just going to smooth them out a little...click,click...Would you like some eyeliner too?" as my face was digitally sliced into the body of Dolly Parton. We spent all day there trying to find irony. Exhausted, we had to abandon the search, at which point I was Saul on the road to Damascus and the light was blinding... There's real photos though behind the main one though. Invited people I knew from The Folks onto the site, but I'm not convinced that they'll join. Not sure that any of my friends are interested in the digital community thing. I'm not convinced, I'm just intrigued.

But how much time can one devote to such activity? Scouting through the tribes and people - another Betty Page haircut - similarly to Friendster, a lot of people find it hard to look like themselves and seem overly preened and airbrushed or just plain narcissistic. I'm getting old. Once you realise your own body is gradually declining (hey, but it's early days yet!), the transitory nature of look, this cicada shell life. At the gig I played last night, I was genially-or-so rounded upon for wearing my hair in a ponytail. I should crop it short apparently. It's just that I feel like a long haired person, not a short one. Apparently it's more becoming in the post-30 years. It doesn't matter anymore. You're only in your hair and clothes for so much of your life. I'm elsewhere. Although I think it's pretty thin for the band to offer me style tips. For fuck's sake, what do they know about style? You're looking more and more like Salvador Dali everytime I see you, said Andy. Exactly, however shitty his painting got, the man had style. Oh dear, I'm descending into LJ bitchiness. Stop that now...

Hopefully the somewhat vacuous nature of this entry can be supplemented by something a little more substantial later.
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