[fawny.org: Le «blog personnel» de Joe Clark]


Writing vs. longing glances (avec update)

Becoming the man of one’s dreams

Whitespace in French

STFU, Lileks

Ordering in

Ben Waldman’s bijoux-like icons

Appearing on TV

You’ve got grudge!

Separated at birth?

To All the Guys I’ve Fucked Before

“Put a wig on before you judge”


Knock-knock jokes for intellectuals with dramatic rectangular eyeglasses, Part I

– Knock-knock. Who’s there?
Knock-knock. Who’s there?
Knock-knock. Who’s there?
Knock-knock. Who’s there?
Knock-knock. Who’s there?
Knock-knock. Who’s there?
Knock-knock. Who’s there?

– Phillip Glass.


Man of one’s dreams

Pedro Serrano:

And what about finding a significant other who can bridge his different worlds? “That’s really impossible,” Serrano said. “I really think I’m working on myself. A lot of gay guys talk about finding the man of their dreams – I want to become the man of my dreams.”

Whitespace in French

Most useful term in the glossary of French terms for whitespace entitled «Les mots des blancs»? Cadratin for em. Hence demi-cadratin for en.

Oserais-je dire que le blanc est, en typographie, plus important que le noir? On dit que chaque encre ne couvre qu’environ cinq pour cent de la page imprimée ? [...] Et c’est la saine gestion de ces blancs qui assurera l’équilibre du «gris typographique,» auquel auront donc étroitement collaboré le fondeur de caractères, le maquettiste et, finalement, le typographe.

And I just love it when typography-related pages show risible typography. Just how is it possible for a French keyboard to make it impossible to type an apostrophe, necessitating the oft-seen bastardization ´?

En tout cas.

STFU, Lileks

No, I can’t stand him anymore, either.

110602,” whatever the hell date that refers to:

And forty minutes later it had only downloaded 640 letters. I have been trying to digest this bolus of mail for some time; with a pokey dial-up, it can take a long time to download some of the multi-megabyte files people send, and then I get knocked off line, or my wife wants to make a call, or I have to leave the house, or something. I really, really apologize for this; I used to make a point of attempting to answer all my mail, but what with the tot and the house and the work and everything else, I just can’t....

So I beg your forgiveness for being tardy with mail. I’m not saying I’m the busiest guy in the world, but between the newspaper column, the syndicated column and the bleat, I write nine pieces a week, and in those rare moments when there’s nothing to do but relax, writing some more isn’t always first on my list.


Dear James,

Please SHUT THE FUCK UP about not responding to your E-mail. Just STFU.

No more screen shots. No more E-mail policies which you don’t follow.

No more, “Gee, I’m really busy writing three columns a week.” Three columns. Yup, you’re really busy. Some days, you even have to go into work! To type! Be a big fella and just admit that you’re too lazy to respond to your E-mail, or that it’s just not a priority for you, then STFU. You’ll feel better about you.

Your Perspective-Restored Fairy

P.S.  I sent this via snail mail so you wouldn’t be burdened with another E-mail. You’re welcome.

Articles about snatch, yes;
longing glances, no

“So What Do You Do, Art Cooper?”:

When I first started editing GQ, it gave the impression of being, and in fact was, a gay magazine. There were female models in it and there were women on the cover, but the boys were always much, much more beautiful than the girls. There was never any eye contact between men and women, and never any tension on the page. What I wanted to do in repositioning the magazine was make it very clear very quickly that this was a heterosexual magazine. I'm sure we have a large gay readership, and I want anyone who enjoys the magazine to read it. But the message I wanted to send was that it's not aimed at a gay audience. But I didn't just add women to the pages via beautiful photographs of them, I added articles by women, expressing their points of view.

A lot of women read GQ and I've talked to women about it and they love the writing. They love the journalism. So often women have said to me that they wish there were a female GQ. But the point about journalism is that it has no gender. A well-written piece, whether it's written by a man or a woman, will appeal to both.

So a sex column written by wymmynz (“Dr. Sooth”) appeals to both sexes, while a photo of well-dressed men in a magazine that built its reputation on exactly that appeals only to fairies?

Words are weak and pictures are strong? Perhaps a thousand times as?

UPDATE: Toby Young, How to Lose Friends & Alienate People, p. 148:

Vanity Fair and the world it operates in is populated by a large number of homosexual[ist]s, yet surprisingly few of them are out.... It’s a safe bet that no gay movie star will ever be outed in a Condé Nast magazine.... Condé Nast’s workforce hasn’t changed much since Sam Newhouse, Si’s father, bought the company in 1959.... The only really significant change of the last forty years is the ascendance of homoseuxal[ist]s.

Within Condé Nast the editors-in-chief tend to be straight, but the art departments, the photography departments, even the fashion departments, are gay strongholds.... To a large extent, they define what passes for good taste in contemporary America.

One of the best-kept secrets at Condé Nast is how large the gay readership of GQ is. The concern is that if it got out it might put off GQ’s straight readers.... A survey of Glamour’s readership carried out by Condé Nast in 1982 discovered that 18% of the magazine’s male readers were gay or bisexual. According to the market-research company that conducted this research, one-fifth of this group were cross-dressers looking for beauty and fashion tips.

...[O]n one occasion a colleague of mine asked me what readership I thought Details [“for men”] was aimed at... “It’s for guys who like staring at pictures of naked men but haven’t quite figured out why,” I quipped.

Screaming hed on the cover of the January/February Details? HAVE YOU HAD SEX WITH COLIN FARRELL YET?

“Ordering in”

Dan Savage:

[A]re gay bathhouses even necessary these days? Web sites like Gay.com have basically turned every gay man’s apartment into a virtual/potential gay bathhouse, so do we really need to go to the real thing anymore? Why eat out when you can order in?

A man at Microsoft with taste

Ben Waldman (op. cit.) dresses either Jewish or gay, but in any event nonseattle and nonmicrosoft.

Waldman eventually was elected as a Gore delegate to the 2000 Democratic national convention in Los Angeles, which garnered a write-up in the Wall Street Journal. Less than a month later, Waldman again appeared in the staid daily newspaper, this time in a piece highlighting another of his loves – fashion.

The story, headlined “Geek Chic,” detailed a mini ruckus caused by the ultratrendy Prada trousers Waldman donned for two key industry events. Shopping for such eye-grabbing garb at elite retailers like Prada and Barneys is another of Waldman’s favorite pastimes. “But we don’t have a Prada yet in Seattle, so I keep the SoHo Prada on speed dial,” he says with a laugh.

But style and elegance mustn’t be limited to high fashion, Waldman insists. Computer software also can have flair. Often it’s the subtle touches, like choosing the appearance and color of the icons appearing in an Internet browser, that Waldman says allows him to establish that sense of style – and to channel a bit of his personality into his work.

You’re kidding me, right? You’ve got a shit program but its bijoux-like icons are nice, so your gay identity is fully expressed? (Iconfactory confirms that they did not design the Explorer icons, so it could have been a gay inside job.)

The odd thing about it? I agree with Doug Bowman:

XP was fast and slick. It made me feel good. It stole some of the UI philosophy from Apple, but didn’t go overboard with decoration. Put XP beside OS X, and purely based on the visuals, I’d pick the former any day, especially considering smaller screens. XP didn’t abuse the screen real estate that OS X carelessly occupied.

To my immense surprise, I also find the specific XP combination of blue and green pleasing.

But none of it is gay.


“And I don’t have a thing to wear”

I’ll be appearing on the CBC Newsworld program Inside Media tomorrow (Thursday the 23rd) to discuss something resembling “online journalism, and Weblogs.” Fellow guests include Matthew Ingram and – yes – David Talbot.

Newsworld at 2000 and 0100 hours Eastern time.


You’ve got grudge!

Oh, dear. Poor Tom Coates feels his friends have been hard done by again, and must fight for their honour. Back in grade school, I used to do that for guys I had crushes on.

I can’t quite believe that we’re doing the rounds of [“Deconstructing ‘You’ve Got Blog’ ”] again

I think a single link from Pilgrim would hardly fall into the category of “doing the rounds.”

The reason I’m going to put my boot in again is because I still think it sits like a kind of poisonous lump of spite in the middle of webloggery and it really needs to be addressed

Got to keep that “Webloggery” pure. Tom seems to favour authorized or majority interpretations.

It takes many things that are obvious and have always been obvious and casts them in the most negative light possible, and at the same time it makes some assertions that are just plain ludicrous and can be proven to be wrong.

I would describe the piece as simply critical, and Tom actually proved nothing.

Joe calls this statement evidence of the incestuous nature of weblogging: The other people who have blogs... read your blog, and if they like it they blog your blog on their own blog. He digs at this statement as if it were evidence for insularity, disconnection, power-mongery.

At time of writing, that was an accurate reflection. Remember, this was over two years ago, with many fewer Weblogs than we have now. A-list bloggers linked to each other, as did relatively-unknown bloggers, of whom I read many regularly. Hence the blogrolling was in fact “evidence for insularity, disconnection, power-mongery.” I commend Tom for accurately interpreting the source text.

I updated the article for the book version, largely by adding autobiographical details, but have not updated it since. I treat it, in other words, like any of my hundreds of other articles dating from a certain period. I believe in Web longevity and endeavour to leave postings online indefinitely. I have to have a good reason to update or rewrite them. Since “Deconstructing ‘You’ve Got Blog’ ” is a criticism of that period, I’ve left it alone.

Everyone who likes Weblogs should have one. That’s the whole point.

And, since times have changed, now many hundreds of thousands of Weblog readers do have their own.

“Counterblogging fails the test of novelty two ways: The links aren’t fresh (they’ve been traded back and forth like saliva in a kiss) and no new events from bloggers’ real lives are depicted.” Again the assumption is that each Weblog is a micro-publishing empire in and of itself – designed to communicate to non-Webloggers.

Tom had a good record of understanding my article going there for a while. In fact, I specifically decried the emphasis on communicating to other Webloggers, not to non-Webloggers. Hence the insularity.

One of the strengths of Weblogging is that they can act as a conversation. A massive, distributed conversation that goes on all around the Web.

Tom should not be surprised to learn that I was fully aware of the Weblog-as-conversation meme, as I believe they call it. But the conversation was manually tabulated: You had to read another blog and respond to it. Unless you were particularly diligent in reading your log files, which can and do create false positives (the previously-viewed site may be unrelated to the current site you’re reading), the only people whose remarks you would read were those on your blogroll.

The result? Small groups of bloggers responded to each other’s postings. It was, in fact, an A-list phenomenon. At time of writing, the conversational capacity of Weblogging was labour-intensive and predisposed toward conversation with voices you already knew.

Now – times have changed, remember? over two years is a long time in software development – trackback mechanisms are actually functional for many hundreds of thousands of blogs. The author of an original posting can reload his or her site and learn, all of a sudden, of many more commentators than the author would even have heard of in years past. And all their remarks are cross-tabulated. (I use a trackback mechanism myself.)

There actually is something resembling an early Weblog-as-conversation fact today rather than the glorified gossip of Weblogs a few years ago.

Joes [sic] says about the “publicity stunt” of the little-girl-on-a-bicycle, “That clearly was not the intent, but the effect was the same, highlighting the incestuousness and insularity of the crème-de-la-blogging-crème.” He says, “The girl-on-a-bike prank was the rankest example yet of the mutual admiration society of the Weblog intelligentsia, deploying multiple identical coded messages ... just because they could.” Without wishing to go into detail about the event – my part in which is still slightly embarrassing to me – that’s simply untrue.

OK, this one needs unpacking.

But the fact that people might use their sites to communicate stuff to their friends, families or loved ones – perhaps subtextually – doesn’t mean that there’s a cruelty or incestuousness behind the scenes.

It did in this case. It was a fair and on-point criticism at the time.

(I note that Brad L. Graham wrote in to say I had misquoted him in the original article and the book version. I’ve asked him for all the detail he can give me and the online versions will be corrected if necessary.)

Writing for an audience suggests you’re betraying yourself for popularity.

A writer with little or no publishing experience might believe that, yes.

But this is not the same as saying – as Joe does slightly later that “If you’re not an A-list blogger, you will stay off that list forever.” This is simply untrue.

Back then, it was accurate. We didn’t have warblogs at the time, for example, which, in a matter of months, germinated two entirely new flavours of typical blogrolls – let’s even call them A-lists. Also in the interim, homosexualist bloggers grew up way fast and expanded in disproportionate numbers. My own high-usage bookmarks (in my browser toolbar rather than in a menu) include 25 heterosexualist bloggers, many of whom I read only rarely and who hold a kind of honorary status, and 26 queer ones I read religiously. But I wager, with some accuracy that I know of, that almost none of the heterosexualists have the queer bloggers on their lists. They’re a separate species.

I also think LiveJournals should be taken much more seriously now that there are a half-million of them and all of them can use RSS feeds. And based on my own reading, LiveJournals tend to be linked to by other LiveJournals, and not by “classic” Weblogs. Another separate species.

Currently, then, the lay of the land is much more mutable than two years ago, and mutually-exclusive microclimates of blog affinities have bloomed. That’s today. I wrote the piece years ago.

Joe’s final point is that everyone who ran a Weblog – and was A-list – has loads of cash and is heavily involved in the Internet scene. Lucky bastards he says.

That’s a direct and apparently knowing misquotation. Fact-check my arse. I wrote:

The straw that broke this camel’s back is the knowledge that all these A-list bloggers, and many of those unlucky enough not to be on that list, led well-funded and more or less rewarding lives in the Internet industry. How many times have you run across a blog posting like this one?

Rio just came out with a new MP3 player shaped like a walnut – and about the same size. They say it’ll sync with my Palm, which is too damn new for me to have synced it with my old Palm, let alone the Cube or the PowerBook. Anyway, something to pick up on Saturday morning.

I would be less inclined to complain if I were able to share in the Internet bounty in even the most trivial way. None of us Webloggers is particularly wealthy; few of us became dot-com millionaires. It’s just that everyone but me gets to make a living. It bugs me that the A-list kids are not really any smarter, or any better at Web design, or have anything particularly better to say than so many of the plebes. Their fame is inexplicable, but famous they are – and able to keep their heads above water. It’s the combination I resent.

Nothing about “loads of cash,” and I went out of my way to avoid writing anything as brash as “lucky bastards,” a term I wouldn’t use anyway.

Yes, poor Tom really was when he started up his site. That’s devastating news. But:

When I started my site I was unemployed or temping as a secretarial assistant in London. When my site started getting popular I was working inputting film production credits into quark documents. I was responsible for P–Z. I did 4,000 films in all over six months. I earned little money, and when I moved on to being an Editorial Assistant on timeout.com I took a pay cut.

The book version is more specific. I wrote:

I was barely making a living as an OL and was a failure at rounding up “content” business. Even OLing was sporadic, leaving me with extensive high-stress “free” time in which to pound out kvetchy content ruminations at 90 words a minute.

I infer that Tom had a few periods of barely making it, too, but he admits to a six-month-long gig and a later full-time job. I had none of that.

The distinction was not drawn between “lucky bastards” with “loads of cash” and my state. It was between those making a living in the Internet industry (an accurate description of A-list bloggers at the time) and me, who wasn’t.

So there you are – an article that has a certain hideous potency in Weblogging circles has little of substance within it. It’s one huge over-dramatisation of one man’s issues and irritations which has very little relationship to reality.

That doesn’t seem too different from accusing me of making it all up. As a seasoned journalist with a superb record of accuracy, I take the accusation seriously. I note that my editors at Perseus Publishing saw no reason to question the article’s accuracy, and I know why: Because it was accurate.

As an attempt to describe the varied people who undertake Weblogging and the ways they interact with one another, it’s bitter, it lacks faith in human nature and it mischaracterises many well-intentioned people.

So it seems that Tom really is fighting to defend the integrity of his friends. That would be admirable, I suppose, in some other arena. By definition, they all run Weblogs, and they can defend themselves.

Most amusing factoid

The stars of the “classic” Weblog A-list are Jason Kottke and Meg Hourihan, profiled in Rebecca Mead’s original article. I was in New York from January 3 to 8, so I dropped them a line saying I’d like to meet. I received no response.

Time has marched on in the Weblogging demimonde, but grudges, it seems, are forever.


Separated at birth?

Which came first – Chad riding with Jocko or Rob riding with Nick?
(Intrigue relating to Rob’s disdain for the photo on the right elided for reasons of space)
Rob and Nick Chad and Jocko


Smell you later

It’s the first New Year’s Day in which I am optimistic. Please reread that statement.

No, I didn’t go out. I toyed with the idea. The possibility of fiasco was too high. I decided to retain the optimism.

As carriages turned into pumpkins, I made up for lost time by opening my book and flattening it against my face like some dyke with her lover’s tits. (The break page for the “Stylesheets” chapter.) I did what I should have done the moment I got the book: I breathed deeply, fingers falling naturally to photogenic place across the spine, right hand on abdomen, blanket across shoulders like a cape rather than a burqa, barefoot in homage to Kusch. Something to offend everyone.

And in furtherance of that goal, I dedicate this year To All the Guys I’ve Fucked Before. Take that, old bint in the captioning department.

“Put a wig on before you judge”

Oh, and what’s Michael Warner got to say in The Trouble with Normal?

In those circles where queerness has been most cultivated, the ground rule is that one doesn’t pretend to be above the indignity of sex. And although this usually isn’t announced as an ethical vision, that’s what it perversely is. In queer circles, you are likely to be teased and abused until you grasp the idea.... This kind of culture is often denounced as relativist, self-indulgent, or merely libertine. In fact, it has its own norms, its own way of keeping people in line.... A relation to others, in these contexts, begins in an acknowledgement of all that is most abject and least reputable in oneself.

Shame is bedrock. Queers can be abusive, insulting, and vile toward one another, but because abjection is understood to be the shared condition, they also know how to communicate through such camaraderie a moving and unexpected form of generosity. No one is beneath its reach, not because it prides itself on generosity, but because it prides itself on nothing. The rule is: Get over yourself. Put a wig on before you judge.... Queer scenes are the true salons des refusés, where the most heterogeneous people are brought into great intimacy by their common experience of being despised and rejected in a world of norms that they now recognize as false morality. [p. 35]

I don’t buy it completely, but I buy most of it. You?

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