Sunday, June 26, 2005
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.