Thursday, March 18, 2004

I'm Feeling Lucky

Are you really, now?

Yesterday marked the end of this year's famed South by Southwest Festival (well, the tech portion, at least). Once just another burial ground for unwatchable indie films, SXSW has become one of the most influential and prescient music festivals in the country: both Bollywood-hating, sitar-spurning, Grammy-hoarding Norah Jones and hair-metal nostalgia act The Darkness were featured at SXSW when they were nobodys (in 2002 and 2003, respectively); both are huge now. SXSW is also basically a giant orgy for bloggers, as they gather in Austin, TX by the thousands and make out with meet those people they've been whacking off to admiring the online work of for the past year. (Indeed, SXSW is so big with webloggers that Blogger, the kind folks who host this site and power countless other blogs, had a big open-bar party to kick off the festivities.) I would love to go, but if I can't even work up the courage to email my weblog heroes/crushes (who could they be?), how can I hope to have the stones to make out with them all night in the middle of Texas?

Anyway, you'd think with all these technocrati in attendance, SXSW would be the place to learn about the latest innovations in New Media/online/[insert buzzword here]. So why the fawk was this year’s SXSW keynote speaker Jonathan Abrams, the founder of Friendster? I mean, how 9 months ago is that? The full text of his address is here, but do you really care? Is this news to people? Ooh, Jon, can the Internet really help people connect with each other? No shit, man! Are you for real? And, now wait, like, lemme get this straight, it’s not just for meaningless sex, but you can, like make friends and maybe even enter into serious relationships? Wow. Dude. Like, dude. I mean, what next, you'll be telling me I can like watch movies online or get my groceries online or something?

(OK, maybe SXSW was just taking their retro-Internet fascination cue from last Sunday's New York Times, which led with a headline story about how Google has revolutionized our world; "Googlemania," this month's cover story in Wired, was about the same thing. Uh, have the terrorist attacks in Madrid suddenly got everyone thinking it's 2001 again? Because stories about how great Google is were interesting about, oh, 3 years ago at the earliest. Granted, it was only this year that the respected and otherwise brilliant Nation columnist/feminist Katha Pollitt stooped so low as to pen an article in the New Yorker about how she stalked her ex-boyfriend using Google. But with war, economic woes, and a pending election, is it really that slow of a news day?)

Back to SXSW: one marginally interesting moment in Abrams's speech came when he mentioned that time way back in 2003 (when people gave a damn about Friendster) when Ahmet Zappa (Frank Zappa’s son and Lisa Loeb’s brother-in-law) announced his engagement to Selma Blair on his Friendster messageboard. Now girls, if your boyf proposed to you and then decided the best way to proclaim his undying love for you was to shout it from the mountaintops of Friendster, would you think it was unbearably pathetic, or just lame? Hope Selma got a big-ass rock on her finger.

Oh, one thing Abrams forgot to mention (probably by accident) was the unnaturally high concentration of real live gay porn stars on Friendster—not Fakesters (when someone makes a fictitious profile of some famous person, building, city, idea, etc. and interacts with others as though said famous thing were real), but bona fide A-list celluloid fudgepackers (and a few gay-for-pay folks). This oft-linked site gives a thorough rundown of most all of them. Yes, I moistened myself a little (OK, a lot; OK, I had to put on a new pair of boxer briefs) when I saw that both Filippo Romano and Joe Foster—2 of my personal favorites in the vast pantheon of adult film stars—were just 3 measly degrees of separation away from me (and were also best friends—just check this photo from Joe's profile). And if you’re just looking for people who aren’t necessarily bona fide porn stars but act like them in bed, use this guide to interpreting Friendster photos—I can vouch from personal experience that a cartoon always always means "immature and fat."

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