Michael Totten

What I Did on my Three-Day Winter Vacation

Shelly and I had a great time in New York. She had work to do and I didn’t, but New York rocks even when you’re busy. (Who isn’t busy in New York, anyway?) She was still able to join me on most of my blogosphere social outings.
We met Jeff Jarvis at a Cosi coffeeshop which, apparently, is the place for wi-fi blogging when you’re in Manhattan. The first thing Shelly said to me after we left the café was “What a terrific human being that man is.” Well, yes. But I knew that already. Thanks, Jeff, for being you and finding some time for us.
20 minutes after saying adios to Jeff we met Steve Silver for dinner at the Heartland Brewpub, which just so happened to be located right down the street from both my hotel and his day job. Steve is younger than me, but (so far anyway!) a more accomplished writer. Peg Kaplan notes in my comments section: “I knew Steve Silver’s mom long before she was pregnant with him – and now he’s a successful writer in NYC??” You rock, Steve. Thanks for hanging out with us Thursday night.
Friday night Megan McArdle (Jane Galt) and her boyfriend Jim took us into the countryside (inner Queens) to a Spanish restaurant with live flamenco dancing. Krikey, she’s tall. She’s taller than me, and I’m taller than almost everybody. Megan and Jim, too, were great company: worldly, wise, well-read, funny, and charming. Shelly and I were instantly comfortable with both of them. And she was my Instapundit guest-blogging colleague. How could I go to NYC and not meet Megan?
The next night I went out with Eric Deamer (Young Curmudgeon), Judith Weiss (Kesher Talk), Mary Madigan (Exit Zero), Jeremy Brown (guest-blogger here and proprietor of Who Knew), and Jeremy’s wife Cara Remal who also occasionally blogs at Who Knew. (Jeremy and Cara have pictures, too, by the way.) We had dinner at a place in Brooklyn that unpretentiously calls itself Cambodian Cuisine. (My favorite unpretentious restaurant name is “Eat,” but “Cambodian Eat” doesn’t quite work.) Then we went to the Brooklyn Academy of Music to listen to some nice piano music before getting psychically chased out by the waiter for (apparently) showing up late, pushing tables together without asking, and daring to ask for a desert menu after the kitchen had closed.
All of us, I think it’s safe to say, have been made to feel like freaks at least a couple of times at various social gatherings because we voted for that Very Bad Man in the White House. That’s what happens to people who live in blue neighborhoods of blue cities in blue states and have a bunch of blue friends. (Don’t get me wrong, I love my blue friends, even the ones who think I’ve gone off some kind of political deep end. Besides, I voted for Ralph Effing Nader last time, so I’m used to getting the Treatment.)
It’s nice to have dinner with people who all read each other’s work and who don’t look at me like I have horns or two heads because of a one-time voting preference. It occurred to me half-way through the meal: I don’t think I’ve ever had dinner with a group of people who all voted for a Republican president. Not even once in my life. That kind of thing just can’t happen by accident on the East Coast or in the Pacific Northwest.
Go ahead and call me ridiculous, but it actually felt weird.
I looked around at all these people and noticed that it wasn’t just me: they don’t have horns or two heads, either. In fact, they’re all quite normal. I’m so accustomed to hysterical denunciations of conservatives as knuckle-dragging right-wing death beasts that I really did have a moment of minor surprise. (This may be because only one of us — Eric — is an actual conservative. Judith has long been independent, and the rest of us are disgruntled lefty types who gave the middle finger to “our own” John Kerry and the peaceniks. So, who knows? Maybe it’s the Republicans in Tom DeLay’s Texas district who have horns. Somebody’s gotta have ’em, I guess.)
(Jeff Jarvis and Steve Silver were refreshing in a different way. They’re both lefty bloggers who don’t give me a bunch of crap because we didn’t vote for the same guy. (I don’t give them any crap either.) Who you vote for shouldn’t make any difference on a personal level, but in news junkie circles it’s sometimes a Really Big Deal for people who mistake politics for high school.)
After dinner on Saturday the six of us went to C’s (A Picture of Me) birthday party in the East Village. I met a bunch more bloggers there. All of them (apparently) were actual hornless one-headed conservatives. Jessica, who blogs at The New Vintage. Karol at Alarming News. Ivan Lenin, who moved to the U.S. from Belarus.
Ace of Spades apologized for “taking a shot” at me a few months ago on his blog. I told him that wasn’t necessary. I get scrappy on the blog, too, sometimes. Big deal. There is more to life than this. No hard feelings, Ace.
I’m not exactly sure who else I met. I don’t even know if I met C, the birthday girl, because it was almost as dark as it was loud in that joint. Some people at the party knew who I was, but I didn’t know who they were(*). They talked to me like I was some kind of a famous person, which made me feel good and also like a fraud at the same time. It’s not like I can’t leave the house without being recognized and followed around by groupies. Bloggers can only be “celebrities” at blogger parties. That is probably not a bad thing. I wouldn’t want to live like Tom Cruise. It sounds like a royal pain in the ass to me. (I’ll take his salary, though.)
Thanks, everybody, for the great company and the grand tour of a wonderful city. I miss you all out here in the remote wooded provinces.
*The two ladies at Candied Ginger were the ones I didn’t know but who knew me. Well, I know ’em now and I knew ’em live first.