No idea if 'being a muso' is accurately portrayed, but the clip below conveys precisely the enormity of blogging about the arts, and a lot more directly than this blog post conveys the way in which the internet has rendered cultural discourse a ridiculous hall of mirrors as I blog about a film about a blog about music.
Maybe someone can write a song about photographing someone reading this?
Suddenly, a parcel arrives, and I'm excited - I see by the packaging that it's from Tom Waits. Well, it's Tom Waits merchandise, from Anti, the label he's signed to. A hoody, from a new line of clothing. I'm plenty excited.
I'm reaching for my phone, to take a photo of it before I've opened it.
I purchase merchandise related to the artists I love, over the internet. While I sleep. And then devise stupid puns for blogposts, ensuring - to the best of my ability - that I'm not repeating a stupid pun I devised earlier. While I sleep.
“Don’t you remember?” My mother reminded me. “There was that teacher who was caught taking ‘up-skirt’ photos with his camera in a shopping bag…”
I don’t care what anyone says – no guy’s upbringing is so liberal that it isn’t even ever-so-slightly weird to hear your mother casually use the phrase ‘up-skirt’. In context. Over dinner.
Before I could double-take or mug to the non-existent camera and deliver a sorely needed bon mot in the style of Groucho Marx – (“you think that’s bizarre, get a load o’ this insertion…”) – my sister added that “there was a more recent case – a guy standing at the bottom of the escalators, photographing women above…”
This discussion had begun when I happened to mention that our local shopping centre had banned photography. I had discovered this a mere few hours earlier. At our local shopping centre.
Here’s what happened:
I had just taken a photo on my phone. I was on my way to the bank, but before I got there, a shopfront had caught my eye – a fairly new one, I guessed, because I’d never noticed it before – and I decided I needed a photo of it. So I took a photo, and as I was putting my phone back into my pocket, the figure of a white-shirted security guard, rapidly bearing down upon me, caught my eye.
“Sir, did you just take a photo?” he asked.
“Yes,” I replied, for I had, and I’d been none too surreptitious about it: no camera concealed in a loaf of bread; no hiding behind bushes or a pylon; no newspaper with the eyes cut out of the front page photo of somebody else’s face. I’d brazenly and boldly pulled the phone out and taken the photo. I suspected it might be out-of-focus, but it would suffice.
“This shopping centre no longer allows the taking of photographs,” the security guard informed me.
“Oh, really?” I asked, genuinely surprised to learn this. I knew you weren’t allowed to photograph train stations, but I didn’t know other public places were also banning photography now.
“May I ask what you took a photograph of?” the security guard asked.
“This is actually a bit embarrassing to admit,” I said. “I recently made friends with someone called Louise. Her nickname’s Lou Lou. She happens to be a lesbian. I wanted to photograph the name of that shop and send it to her. I thought she’d get a laugh out of it…”
Whether or not Louise was going to get a laugh out of it, the security guard certainly did. “You’re alright, mate,” he said, shaking his head at me. “Off you go.”
“Cheers,” I said, and headed to the bank.
“What was the name of the shop?” my sister asked.
I told her. Everyone laughed. And I realised this was now one of those things I was going to blog about.
Lots of commentators are talking about Twitter now, with the Twitterverse growing. Like anything that started out as a minority interest, a ‘private joke made public’ (you know, all those cool shows you were into with your mates before everyone knew what they were, where the first two season are brilliant but then they get a budget with which to stuff up the third) there’s a danger that it may just turn to shit. But it’s still at the phase where Rove can do gags about it without quite knowing what it is (or perhaps pretending not to, for comedic effect; he appears to have two Twitteraccounts parked, just in case it does turn into something to capture viewers with).
With all manner of mainstream spokespeople taking about it, Twitter could become a bogan pastime if, say, single mums start spending the baby bonus on iPhones instead of plasma TVs – or it just could become boring and irrelevent if something better captures the audience. But like most things, it’s a little less cool once middle Australia thinks it knows about it. Like the shoes hanging over powerlines: it might have once indicated a dealer’s house, but by the time someone on ABC Local Radio tells you that’s the case, you’re not about to go hooning through suburbia looking for dangling trainers. The likelihood of a dealer within, nowadays, is even slimmer than the chance of there being an ABC Local Radio listener who is drug dependent but can’t get sorted.
Sorry, I’ve gone a bit off-topic here.
I started tweeting some time ago, introduced to it by the same person who encouraged me to start my blog, but stopped, figuring Facebook enabled me to update my status as often as I liked, and more besides, rendering Twitter unnecessary. Then, to be brutally honest, I noticed cool people who wouldn’t be caught dead being mistaken for techheads, along with fools and morons who originally eschewed social software, jump on the Twitter bandwagon after they’d heard people they actually respect talk about it. Or they paid for courses in online this-or-that at one of many ‘Fasttrack Your Media Career’ Enterprises P/L, where Twitter was pushed as part of the networking arsenal.
Not being a bandwagon jumper myself,1 I had a cautious look around and noticed that, since there were more people using it, it had become more interesting and far more useful a means of sharing ideas, even for a technoluddite like me. People I respected, like Stephen Fry, were pointing me in the direction of interesting stuff. Of course, I also find people pointing me in the direction of useless crud. The trick is to avoid useless crud and keep track of the interesting stuff. The other trick is to realise that how I define interesting stuff and useless crud most likely differs to the way virtually anyone else defines it. One thing I did find interesting was that a lot of people I knew and liked – in real life I mean – happened also to be using Twitter. So it made sense to be updating Facebook via Twitter, and keeping in touch with this new multitude of interesting thinkers (and doers) in the process.
People ask me what Twitter is and what it’s for. Even its creator admits users keep pointing out that it’s for different things. Different people use it in different ways to different degrees. I mostly use it the same way I mostly use Facebook: in an age where we have less personal contact, when I’m tied to my computer more and more (and no, I don’t have a computer-in-the-pocket like a Blackberry or iPhone; I can't afford one), Twitter helps keep my smart-arse-comment and quick-comeback muscles supple. I basically troll the site when having a break and banter as I would in the office if I still worked in an office where banter was welcome. And I use it to point out when I’ve updated my blog with a new post (a status update that automatically appears on Facebook, which also takes a feed from my blog; sadly despite this, the ol’ blog gets less hits in this age of everyone ‘blogging’ through MySpace, Facebook and Twitter).
The quoteable quote of his speach is: “When you give people easier ways to share information, more good things happen.”
I’ll continue tweeting (or Twittering) whatever happens, but I have one strong reservation: last year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival was the one that boasted, as the best show title, What Up Fags I Got No Material lol. In featured a multitude of comics who spoke of LOLing, ROFLing and LMAOing. So what? Festivals frequently feature a confluence of inspiration; ‘tribes’ of comedians often have a shared collective unconscious of material from whence jokes are drawn. One year it was monkey references. More recently it was SMS predictive text. I’ve mentioned before the Melbourne tribe that seem to share references to Weekend at Bernie’s, wooji boojing and a habbit of ‘fer shizzling’ their ‘nizzles’. But please don’t make this the year of Facebook and Twitter gags, unless the material can be amusing to all parties: the social software tragics, the day-trippers, and especially the people who have no idea at all.
…The ipod amazes me yet again as it gives me Banjo Patterson’s The Man From Snowy River poem just as I ride under a bridge with a school of posh kids on horses going for a trot over the top of us plebs on the road. There’s a classic difference between the Australian and English cultures for you. We’ve got stock horses chasing brumbies with Clancy of the Overflow and they’ve got some posh twat teaching little twats how to be uber twats on paved roads. Well done.
Julia Wilson is an expat Aussie comic. In addition to doing great work chasing summer between the UK and Australia she's also making significant inroads into the Canadian and South African comedy scenes.
In this unbelievable flurry ofbloggery, I forgot to mention another cyber undertaking I had hitherto neglected: I finally got around to creating a homepage on the meagre plot of virtual realestate so kindly provided by my ISP. It’s rather cheap and nasty. Have a look - if you can be bothered.
But do you think I can get around to blogging about this stuff?
No way. Just not addicted to spending that much time online, in front of my computer anymore.
And then someone — my friend EmmaDriver — switches me onto MySpace and before I know it, I’ve set up a page and suddenly, it’s back to not going to bed until the early hours and wanting to log on just to check the hits I’m getting and the links being made.
That’s not the worst of it, though, oh no. Now I’ve even got a new MySpace blog. But don’t start refering to me as “Arthur ‘Two Blogs’ Jackson” just yet, because, if anything, I kind of feel like I’m a parent with two kids, afraid that I’m going to favour one over the other. Already, I consider the MySpace blog as — well, the runt of the litter. Why should it demand my attention when this first-born blog clearly is the pride of the family? But what if, like some wayward hoyden or hussy upon whom the responsibility of parenthood has come unexpectedly and unwanted, I merely neglect them both?
Perhaps there ought to be a cyber equivalent of DoCS, prepared to confiscate blogs that aren’t receiving the care and attention they deserve. But then — consider the ramifications: what if this blog became a ward of the State, to be fostered out to some family professing a vocational drive to taking care of such neglected sites. Sure, you’d hope it would be well-maintained by whomever was given responsibility for it. But what if it was one of those co-dependent pervy couples, where the woman turns a blind eye to the man’s (or an older sibling’s) abuse? Years from now, this blog would be a sadistic bully, a serial killer, a rapist or a city office worker who buys, copulates with and kills rodents… but, through the help of a sympathetic jury, would get off somewhat lightly on account of the mis-treatment suffered at my and subsequent foster blogger’s hands…
It just doesn’t bear thinking about, really.
It’s exactly as I feared: you cannot serve two masters — or two blogs — sufficiently. After I wrote most of this entry, I popped over to my MySpace blog and found myself commenting on this entry there. In the process, I made a joke there that was too good not to appear on this, my favourite blog, and had to go back and re-write bits of this one to include it here. I’m already sliding down the slippery slope of infinite regress…
Although, the joke was the “Arthur ‘Two Sheds’ Jackson” reference, which I’d just better comment further upon for the sake of train-spotters: I’m not actually “Arthur ‘Two Blogs’ Jackson” because I actually went and started another blog. I’d only be “Arthur ‘Two Blogs’ Jackson” if I thought of starting the second, but never did, and then got bogged down talking about two blogs when there's only one and it was irrelevant to my work anyway but because it kept getting mentioned I’d want to get rid of that as well…!
Oh, and by the way, here’s the cover of the joke book. It’s published by New Holland Publishers (not that you’d know it from their bastard website). It’s still in print, so order a copy from your favourite bookshop (whose person in charge would have stopped re-ordering it some months ago!) Or e-mail me and I’ll charge you significantly less than the cover price, and autograph it as well!