Thursday, November 17, 2005

The well-rounded blogosphere of OSM

Well, I don't think you'll get the definitive report on the OSM (I still think of it as Pajamas Media) get-together here.

But I have no guilt about that--there are plenty of other bloggers who can easily fill you in. I haven't had a chance yet to check out what others have written, but I've no doubt the event was well-documented, since I could see close to a hundred laptops blooming around the room. Not me, though--I've never developed the art of writing about something as I'm experiencing it; not good at walking and chewing gum at the same time.

So this will be my quick impressionistic take on what it was that I really came for, if the truth be known--the chance to meet a whole crowd of bloggers. And what a crowd it was! The following pre-conference theories of mine seemed generally to be borne out:

1) bloggers can talk; in fact, most bloggers would rather talk than eat

2) bloggers tend to be intense

3) bloggers include a high proportion of night people and/or people who don't sleep all that much

4) most bloggers look like their photos--except me. I actually don't have an apple in from of my face.

5) Roger Simon wears a fedora

Things that were surprises:

1) a higher-than-expected proportion of bloggers are smokers

2) you can't tell who's short and who's tall from a photo

3) Roger Simon wears a fedora

(Actually, I already knew that you can't tell who's short and who's tall from a photo. But it was still a surprise.)

Further observations:

1) When I say bloggers can talk, I mean talk. We're talking serious talk here. Stamina, breadth, depth, decibel level. Get a group together, and it's not for the faint of heart--if you don't jump in quickly and vigorously, you may never get the floor, because the competition is hot and the topics change at the speed of light as one thought follows another, like group chain-smoking. Those with natural projective qualities of voice have an advantage here; those of us with naturally quieter voices stand in danger of getting hoarse.

2) New York restaurants have gotten ever more expensive as the portions have gotten smaller.

3) There are no elevator operators in Saks anymore. I stopped in there today to get out of the cold for a few minutes, and discovered the lack of elevator operators as well as the fact that there is not an item in the store that I could possibly afford. Which is fine since there's not an item in the store that I'd care to buy, so there.)

I could not possibly mention all the bloggers I met, although they all deserve mention. So the following is an almost random snapshot of people I'd never met before but felt I already knew:

Glenn Reynolds is measured, articulate, unaffected, incisive, and possessed of a dry wit--as well as the patience to put up with being buttonholed by every blogger who wanted to meet him, which was all of us.

Charles Johnson is still very much the charming and laid-back musician I imagine he was before 9/11 and its aftermath set him down such an unexpected path.

Richard Fernandez, heretofore the mysterious Wretchard, is a man who projects utter calm and a powerful quality of being deeply-centered, and whose words are unusually reflective and thoughtful.

Austin Bay was our fearless and intrepid leader, charging into a drenching downpour with the rest of us following behind (rain? what's a little rain?), his Renaissance mind discoursing at dinner with great animation on such widely-ranging subjects as politics, war, literature, history, writing, and more.

Vodkapundit is as elegant and intelligent as one might imagine, even on the brink of impending fatherhood (best of luck, Steve, to both you and your wife).

Clive Davis not only has a charming British accent (there's that "charming" word again), but the wit and kindness to go with it (although, unfortunately, Clive actually had to work at his day job during his visit, and therefore missed a few of the festivities).

I could natter on--and on and on and on--because there are, quite literally, a hundred other people I could (and should) write about. But I won't--too tired. Suffice to say it was a great deal of fun.

I find it an extraordinary experience to meet people backwards: that is, to meet their minds first and their bodies second. You get to know people in a totally different way as, day after day, you read what they are thinking without ever having met them in the flesh.

You don't even realize how many preconceptions (and perhaps misconceptions) you are building up until you meet the person him/herself. Sometimes the meeting shatters those preconceptions utterly. Far more often, however, the person you meet is both similar and somewhat different from the one you had expected: younger, older; livelier, shyer; more fidgety, calmer; funnier, more solemn. Then you superimpose the new template on the old and merge the two, and now you know the person in a fuller, rounder sense.

And so it is that I am very happy to have met these and so many other old friends (and new), and to have made the pictures of them in my mind's eye more complete.


At 8:23 PM, November 17, 2005, Blogger Sissy Willis said...

Absolutely marvelous post. I DO wish you'd write abut every last one of the folks you shmoozed with, but even you are only human. :)

At 9:04 PM, November 17, 2005, Blogger Judith said...

Sigh. We've got to do this more often . . . .

At 9:22 PM, November 17, 2005, Blogger karrde said...

Interesting but not unexpected...

Fernandez/Wretchard's online personality is as you describe it. At least, after reading him from August '04 until now, I got the same impression of the man. Perhaps that's why his blog writing was so popular.

At 10:39 PM, November 17, 2005, Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

You make us sorry to have missed it. The rapid-fire, hypomanic, intense atmosphere is what I would have hoped and expected.

As to the smoking -- quick-delivery nicotine goes straight to the forebrain, and is used by people for an instant fix to create focus and intensity. Small wonder that people who seek out that type of stimulation come to rely on the artificial article.

At 11:05 PM, November 17, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two questions: (1) I assume your contacts were primarily with conservative bloggers. Move your mind back in time--pre 9/11-- and tell us your reaction to these folks now vice what it might have been back then. (2) Jeff reports you were the "Belle of the ball." Can you shine a light on that observation? Mark

At 3:29 AM, November 18, 2005, Blogger Cathy Young said...

Thanks very much for this wonderful account, neo!

At 7:46 AM, November 18, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bloggers getting together remind me of a gaggle of geese smoozing. :)

At 7:57 AM, November 18, 2005, Blogger Terri said...

Thank you for that. It sounds like a wonderful party. I'm with Sissy and want to hear of every last person you met...but, true, you are only human. Feel free to dredge up the memories as they come back over time! I'll keep on reading.

At 11:49 AM, November 18, 2005, Blogger neo-neocon said...

anonymous: Belle of the ball? Haven't a clue--just my normal ever-so-charming self?

As far as meeting these people prior to 9/11 goes: I think many of the people I met and talked to also had experienced post-9/11 personal political change. Therefore my guess is that, had we met prior to 9/11, we would have gotten along fine, but 1) wouldn't have talked about politics, and 2) if we had, we would have agreed with each other--on the liberal side of things.

That said, I also have never had any difficulty, even in my liberal days, meeting or talking to those more conservative than I. I never demonized the right.

At 3:11 PM, November 18, 2005, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> those of us with naturally quieter voices stand in danger of getting hoarse.

My advice: Just say neigh!

At 11:27 PM, November 20, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good description of Glenn. I've never met him but that's exactly how I picture him.

At 12:45 AM, November 21, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your experience of meeting the bodies of people whose minds you have known. It reminded me of the way it used to be on a couple of the old Compuserve
Forums from 10 years ago. We all got to know each other so well, sharing not only the topic of interest, but births, deaths, divorces, marriages, kids screwing up, etc. Someone suggested at the end of our first anniversary that we celebrate with an East and West Coast get-together. I attended both and had very similar responses to your own.

I haven't been actively blogging very long, but I realize that I already know a great deal about some of my favorite writers and I care a great deal about some of them as well.


At 8:54 AM, November 21, 2005, Blogger Sissy Willis said...

Instalanche! Good show. :)


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