Janet and I extend a hearty thanks to Julia and John, who hosted a fine, fine NYC bloggers’ party at their home on Friday night, thereby giving me a second chance to meet all the accomplished bloggers I was originally supposed to meet for dinner in Chelsea back on May 19, and giving Janet her first chance to meet real live bloggers, ever. These are people—and dogs—who really know what they’re doing with the medium, and who can make me feel like a dabbler (but they didn’t! they’re too nice for that). There was some debate over whether I’d actually had an emergency appendectomy that day, or had blown off the gathering in order to go to the opening night of Star Wars III: Wholly Sith, so I had to provide clear and compelling evidence of abdominal surgery before anyone would let me near the food. Then I had to promise that I would not permit any more of my internal organs to explode for the remainder of the evening, and I was given a small sign to wear, which read, “It has been 36 days since the last accident on this site.”
OK, that last part about the sign is not true.
But what a spread! I learned that it is still legal to consume carbohydrates in New York, as long as you’re not in Manhattan. (Thanks to John for the barbecued chicken and steak, too.) And just down the street was a Greek festival, to which we repaired at about ten to scarf down some “first night” baklava, loukoumades, and other delicacies. Janet and I left some time after eleven, at which point I realized I’d had a couple of dozen omnidirectional conversations about freelance writing, hockey, analytic philosophy, science fiction, the virtues of Abbey Road (and a comparison of Ringo’s work with that of Charlie Watts, on the side), the Supreme Court decision of Kelo v. City of New London, and even . . . blogging! But the blog talk wasn’t anything like ordinary shop talk. When the Nielsen Haydens talked about blogs and fanzines, and how blogs, like zines, find their audiences partly through their modes of rhetorical address, I mentioned Jon Klancher’s book The Making of English Reading Audiences, 1790-1832, which argues (among other things) that the emergent periodicals of the period offer concrete examples of Wordsworth’s insistence that writers create the taste by which they are to be enjoyed. The book is more or less an attempt to combine the minute details of reader-response theory with the broader social implications of reception theory, and not too many people have tried anything quite like it. As it happened, the Nielsen Haydens were quite familiar with Klancher’s argument. Hmmm, I thought. I wonder how many of my colleagues in the English department—aside from people who work specifically in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries—are familiar with Klancher’s argument.
Janet was in town to check out this exhibit at the Jewish Museum, on “The Power of Conversation: Jewish Women and Their Salons.” (While she was uptown doing that, I was down in the Wall Street area having lunch with a friend from my old neighborhood in Flushing, Queens, whom I hadn’t seen in twenty-five years.) And it occurred to me as we said good night to everyone that while blogs may be more or less like the fanzines of the 1970s and 1980s, or more or less like the English periodicals of 1790-1832, the bloggers’ party was very much like a salon. Whether it was Scott Lemieux on the Calgary Flames, Mad Kane on freelance contracts, or Lindsay and Darcy on Breakin’ 2: Electric Bouzouki, conversation was sharp and witty and multitopical all at once. So thanks, everyone! Janet and I had a great time.
And, of course, thanks also to Nick, who took care of Jamie from Thursday night through Saturday afternoon (!) so that we could go have a great time.
- Posted by on 06/26 at 01:17 PM
What a delight it was to meet you and Janet! Great conversation and many laughs.
Looking forward to seeing you again, one of these days. And who knows? Perhaps we may finally make that Pittsburgh trip and meet up with you on the way.Posted by Mad Kane on 06/26 at 01:31 PM
If Janet had never met “real live bloggers” before, er, um, uh, ... you and she had met before that evening, right?Posted by Sherman on 06/26 at 02:55 PM
Yeah, but she doesn’t think of me as a real live blogger—even though I’ve been at it for twenty years now.Posted by Michael on 06/26 at 03:06 PM
It is *so* possible to consume carbohydrates in Manhattan! I’ve done it!
Of course, they were in beer, but. . . .Posted by [libcat] on 06/26 at 04:55 PM
The pleasure was equally shared and your words are much too kind.Posted by Randy Paul on 06/26 at 06:08 PM
Thanks for the linky-love, Michael - wow, three refs, my head’s going to explode! As someone who used to throw regular parties during the age of zines, I agree with you totally about blogger gatherings being the new salons (here’s a nice link for Janet, BTW). As far as I’m concerned Julia is the new Gertrude Stein, without the Toklas brownies of course, and in the ‘80s during my INSIDE JOKE days I was a very, very poor person’s Berta Zuckerkandl…Posted by Elayne Riggs on 06/26 at 07:43 PM
We were so pleased that you could come, and we really enjoyed meeting you both (and, you know, how cool is Janet?). Blogger gatherings are really a hostess’ dream. There are no awkward pauses, and everyone has a dizzying array of conversation. I’m just sorry that
a) I was too dazed to contribute much of it,
b) Roy couldn’t make it. Maybe next time.
But hey, loukoumades!
I hope you guys let us know when next you’re in town so we can try it again.Posted by julia on 06/26 at 10:00 PM
Not to worry! Pasta, bread, cakes, cookies ... all alive and well in the Five Boroughs!Posted by on 06/26 at 10:13 PM
and, you know, how cool is Janet?
Julia, low-temperature physicists have tried for years to determine this. In the early 1990s, some detractors denounced Janet as a hoax, claiming that no one person could combine so many talents and interests while remaining so cool. The resulting “cold fusion” controversy threw the field into turmoil. But now many of NYC’s finest bloggers, minus Roy, have seen with their own eyes. Janet is no hoax, people.
And hey, those loukoumades! Really, we had a splendid time, and haven’t stopped talking about it. Next time, we’ll find a way to host a gathering, even if we have to guest host. . . .Posted by Michael on 06/26 at 10:24 PM
Very nice to have met you, and Janet(who does, in fact, exist; that, or the woman you hired to play her does, I suppose). Nice scar, too. Glad you’re feeling better. We’ll all stop by next time we’re in Central Pennsylvania…Posted by the talking dog on 06/26 at 10:55 PM
I did not know that you had lived in Queens; I definitely forgive you for rooting for the Lightning now.Posted by Scott Lemieux on 06/27 at 12:57 AM
Fabulous to meet you, even if I do now have “I’ll Be Back” going as an earworm.Posted by Patrick Nielsen Hayden on 06/27 at 10:06 AM
I’m pleased to announce that Friday’s festivities in your honor have now been memorialized in song parody:
(I talked the song parody in my podcast, rather than sing it, because Winter Wonderland, the song I used, is still protected by copyright.)Posted by Mad Kane on 06/27 at 04:25 PM
What part of Flushing? Jewel Avenue? Main Street? Just wondering. Glad to see you are well and looking good in purple everywhere you go.Posted by The Heretik on 06/29 at 12:56 AM
Thanks, Mad Kane! It was a pleasure to meet you at last. And thanks, Patrick, for giving me that earworm right back. The Heretik: I spent a couple of early-childhood years (1963-66) just south of Kissena Park around 158th Street and 45th Avenue, and then my pre-teen and teen years (1968-79) at the NE edge of Flushing, 190th Street and 33rd Avenue, a few blocks short of Bayside.Posted by Michael on 06/29 at 09:12 AM
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