Hi! My Name Is: Pepper

Starbucks on 17th Street, just west of Union Square. A couple barges out, gasping in the capering cold.

The Sucky Date

He, trying hard: No really, tell me again.
She, up to here with it all: Fine, OK. I’ve never called 777-FILM before. All right?

(Lights down, play ends)

At AZ Lounge, where we’re about to be kicked out for lounging, there’s a Friday meeting of New York Bloggers. The only bloggers I’ve ever met are people I knew before I knew they were bloggers, so it sounds like fun. How much detached irony can you fit into a room? How much playful self-deprecation can a body stand before wanting to Dean-scream into the night? Do bloggers converse, or will it be an evening of monologue textured with link-like trackback introductory breaks (“… anyway, that’s what I think. This is Paul, who put the evening together, and he thinks: …”)? Most important of all, will there be any cute girls?

We did the Blogger Bash - it caught on in a flashI’m freezing even in leather pants, and since I instinctively distrust coatracks I’m making a wintry pile in a dark back corner of the lounge: coat, furry Necktopus scarf, bunny hat, pack, fleece. Jess from Blind Cavefish is meeting me here tonight for the first time, and apart from Googled pictures she’ll be looking for the Dr. Evil t-shirt. Pierre is talking to Caren Lissner and looking unhappy about his Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, the beer equivalent of vanilla in this modern age of many flavors. (Oops – turns out it was Sierra Nevada Porter, not Pale Ale. “A step better,” notes Pierre.)

I don’t see anyone who looks much like Jess. Jen from Gothamist and eponymous Rachelle are in our corner being interviewed by some guy who is taking way too many pictures of them on a digital camera that is smaller than a digital camera has any business being – if I had a camera like that, I would lose it in under two days. There are name tags. I like laminates – it’s a music-business thing – but I’ve never been happy about name tags. “LINUS,” I write grimly, “Pepper of the Earth.”

Up at the bar two girls are peering at us in the lounge, wondering what’s going on and if we’re likely to buy them drinks. I explain about the blogger thing. Susan doesn’t have a computer, and Cheyenne is disinterested. “Oh,” she says, “it’s an Internet thing.” I explain that we are actually an international secret society of arcane kingmakers disguised as bloggers. Susan tells me that even she isn’t that naive. (Damn.) We discuss how Susan is New York Broke, which means she can’t pay her bills but somehow still manages to drink $12 drinks on nights like tonight, ha ha. Her glass is inescapably empty and it’s suddenly very large. I picture $12 sitting in it, as my own $10 vodka tonic arrives. If I’m not mistaken, it’s pulsing. “Fill me,” it says. “Fill me.” I decide that Susan and Cheyenne are looking for more trouble than I feel like being, and go looking for Jess.

That's my friend Jeremy Karpatkin in this staged photoJake is very enthusiastic and he probably shouldn’t be saying most of what he’s saying to me. But that’s OK, who am I going to tell? Except you … nah, that would be wrong. Jake’s “totally into” New York. He’s from New York. I am also from New York, which is why I regard it as inevitable, but I don’t know that I could rightly say I’m “totally into” it. We both went to Stuyvesant High School, though I beat him through it by a fair few years. Are we really talking about Stuyvesant at a blogger party? Yes, we are. I’m recounting being an unnamed part of the lawsuit against principal Gaspar Fabbricante and the Board of Ed back in the day, and he’s telling me his memories of the Stuyvesant VOICE, a mostly-underground magazine of which I was editor back when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Still no Jess, and about this point we’re told that we’re no longer welcome at ten-clams-a-drink-and-no-beer-worth-drinking AZ Lounge. To be fair, it is against bar drinkiquette to show up en masse without letting them know you’re coming in, but you know something? If you run a bar, you learn to roll with it. It’s Ice Night outside (again) and the party is reforming at Siberia in midtown, but after a quick consult Pierre and I figure if we’re going to go anywhere it might as well be someplace with good good beer. So off to Spuyten Duyvil it is.

As it turned out, Jess got turned back into the frigid night by the friendly (not) AZ people at the door, so we are still e-friends and Real Life strangers. And I fell in love at least three times at Spuyten Duyvil, at least twice with the girl with the whale-tail thong thing going on.

About Linus

The man behind the curtain. But couldn't we get a nicer curtain?
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