Pretty Pictures

For your amusement:

I’m working on expanding the photo galleries this year, FYI.


Who the fuck cares?

Seriously. Is the fact that another overpaid jock used steroids really newsworthy? Don’t they all use steroids? And even if the do, is there any reason I (or Congress) should give a flying crap?

However (and hear me out on this one), I do believe the current battle of the late night talkshow hosts is worthy of considerable attention. It’s not because I care about whether Jay or Conan (or Mark McGwire, for that matter) ends up being on the air at 11:30, but because this is about a significant change in the way one of America’s biggest industries does business. For those who haven’t been paying attention, a lot of people who know what they’re talking about are suggesting that this is an early sign that the commercial broadcasting model is starting to break down.

That’s what I was thinking, in fact, the moment I first read that NBC was essentially giving up on the 10-11 time last fall by giving it to Leno. I couldn’t believe it. I’m not at all surprised that it backfired, but I’m really alarmed that NBC is pulling the plug even though they have no real programming ready to take over the hour. It wouldn’t surprise me if NBC weren’t programming 10-11 at all by this time next year. Fox, The CW, and My Network TV already don’t–and never have.

Programming issues aside, though, I think the next year is going to bring at least one major surprise with respect to broadcast television. I don’t know what it will be, but when it happens, it should be recognized as the major business story it will be rather than dismissed as pop culture fluff.

Oddly enough, I’m bucking the trend by having gotten rid of the cable and the satellite. Local broadcast is all the TV I have now.

Fourteen Years

It was a cold and snowy night somewhere on 13 January 1996, but not in San Francisco. There might have been rain. I don’t remember. I might have been drunk. I don’t remember. All I remember is that sometime that night, I uploaded the first version of the website that became this one. Using FTP. And actual HTML files. And the URL had a tilde in it. It all seems rather quaint now.

What’s really frightening to me is that I’ve lived almost a third of my life since that night. What’s also frightening to me is the realization of how long it’s been since I’ve written anything of substance here.

All the same, thanks for sticking around. I make no promises that there will be a fifteenth anniversary, although there probably will be. The five year multiples are milestones, after all, and are hard to resist.

Y’know What?

Any article that begins with “A gun collector who introduced several weapons into sexual play” is pretty much guaranteed not to end well.

Anything that happens after “three men had been smoking pot, drinking beer, huffing aerosol inhalants and having sex over a 12-hour period” is almost certainly not going to be something good.

Anyone who asks someone else “to put the gun to his head and pull the trigger to intensify his pleasure” is, in my view, somewhat unclear on the concept of pleasure.

This is why I don’t do drugs, in case anyone was wondering.

Preserve This!

Things like this get me really excited, as I’ve probably mentioned before. It’s not that I’m particularly amused by the particular episode of Mayberry RFD, which was pretty much garbage. But I am amazed that the video preserves a full half-hour of TV, commecials, “brought to you by” tags, and the rest, pretty much as it originally aired. It’s really difficult to find material like that from the pre-VCR era (and to be honest, I’m not 100% certain what the source of this type material is, but this YouTube user has lots of it). The only thing that seems to be missing is the voiceover announcer pushing whatever show comes next “over most of these CBS stations.”

The idea of preserving material like this–things that were never meant to be saved and generally weren’t saved–is a large part of why I became an archivist. Sure, you could watch this episode on DVD and get really nice picture quality and no commercials, but viewing it from this primary source gives so much more of a feel for what it was really like watching the show as it originally aired. I’m similarly fascinated by the Room 222 DVD release. Apparently, there were no really good masters available for this series, and the DVD release was assembled from a variety of 16mm syndication prints and whatever other source material Shout Factory could get its hands on. It’s not clean and pretty, but it is the way I remember watching reruns of the show as a kid–pops, scratches, wheezing theme music, and all.

And I guess this is why I keep most of the archives of this site availble online as well. Many of my friends have opted to remove some of all of their content over the years, and that’s a decision I respect and understand completely. Perspectives change, as does one’s comfort level with how much information to share. And I’ve removed some of the material from this site as well; the bar and sex club reviews and the “guide to San Francisco” from 1996 are long gone (although I have unpublished copies). But most of the material that has ever appeared here is still here. And even though I’ve contemplated edits over the years, it’s important to me that the majority of the site continues to be here, if not necessarily in its original graphic format, which is something of an unrealistic goal in a dynamic medium like this (although, again, I do have archived copies).

It’s not that I believe anything specific I’ve presented here since 1996 is do good or so important as to require preservation. I’m not that conceited, really. But I think it’s important that some personal websites of the 1990s and 2000s be preserved in a relatively intact state just to show what they were like and the (changing) types of contact that were presented on them through the years. And I guess I’m a relatively good candidate just because I’ve been doing it longer than most people.

This is a lot like my take on historic preservation; I tend to think the mundane, everyday structures and neighborhoods (supermarkets, taxpayer strips, and even tract housing) where people actually spent time and lived their lives should in many ways be more important preservation targets than grand structures, mansions, opera houses, etc., that most people have never even visited. I know that an occasional building will have to be lost or that an occasional journal entry (or even an entire website) will sometimes have to be be purged. But it’s nice to have some relatively intact specimens as reference points, and I guess I’m volunteering my site as one of those.

If only I could get a tax credit…

A Weekend at Home


It was a weekend at home catching up on things that needed doing (although, alas, not so much on things I wanted to do). It wasn’t really planned that way; it was sort of imposed on me by the fact that sunbelt cities pretty much stop functioning when confronted with eight inches of snow. It was probably a good thing, although it would have been nice to have gotten out for a little while. But there wasn’t really anyplace to go.

Did you ever wake up one morning and realize your life really sort of lacked the intensity it once had? That you just don’t get all that excited about things anymore? That’s your life is somehow all low end and mid-range with very little of the high end that once used to be there? Like you’ve blown out your tweeter (which sounds kind of dirty, but isn’t really meant to)?

I think I’m sort of there right now, and I can’t figure out the cause nor the cure.

It’s really not a sudden revelation. In fact, I’ve been seeing the symptoms developing for quite some time. I was even a little worried that graduation was going to make it much harder to ignore; it made it much easier when I could blame the fact that I no longer seemed to be doing much of anything on school pressures.

It’s also convenient to lay the blame on the adjustment to my new job. Truth be told, though, my job is not really so exhausting that I have to come home and turn into bean dip just to recover every night. In fact, my current job is much less exhausting than most I’ve had. It’s a pretty consistent eight-hour day, and while it requires a certain intellectual engagement, it’s not as if it’s all that physically taxing. It’s definitely not “high stress”.

The problem is not that I’m too tired to do things. The problem is that I no longer know exactly what it is that I enjoy doing. If you’d asked me five or ten years ago how I liked to spend my free time, I’d have offered some very concrete answers: travel, urban exploration and photography, reading, and working on my sites. And in theory, that’s still how I’d answer, or more precisely, that’s what I’d say I wanted to do with my free time. But it’s not what I really do with it anymore. In fact, I don’t do much of anything of consequence with it anymore.

I was very excited when we moved back east (has it really been almost five years?) because it offered so many nearby and interesting road trip destinations.  For the past few years, while Mark has been working his ass off in San Francisco, I haven’t felt right doing a lot of heavy traveling. It was especially bad that first year in Charlotte, when I was more or less unemployed. Being wonderful as he is, he encouraged me to travel while I had the time, but I felt rotten about it (and sometimes a bit financially irresponsible as well). Since last year, I’ve also been driving to Pittsburgh at least once a month, which makes road trips on the other weekends less attractive. My long daily commute doesn’t help, either. Or is that just an excuse? Unfortunately, lack of travel also impedes hobby number two, because there’s really not much “urban”to explore around here–especially “urban” that I haven’t seen and photographed over and over again.

As far as reading, I still do a lot of it, but it’s mostly small chunks and segments online. I find it harder and harder to muster the attention span to read actual books. Or maybe I’m having trouble finding books that excite me, just as I’m having trouble finding much of anything else that excites me these days. I think the attention span is a factor in what is (or isn’t) going on with the sites as well. There are things I’ve been planning to do with Groceteria for two years now; I’d blamed the delays on school, but what’s stopping me now? Jeez, I can’t even manage a simple daily update on this site anymore; there never seems to be anything going on that I feel strongly enough to write even a paragraph about.

At some point, I think I have to realize that this is not about my being tired or stressed or worried about finances and to recognize that there might be something else going on. I recognize that the fact that I’m not entirely happy with where my own life is at is affecting my work and, more importantly, my relationships with other people. Or at least the relationships I still have (but that’s a whole other story). Am I depressed, or just plain lazy, or do I just need some new perspective? Either way, something needs to happen. I wish I knew what it was.