Deborah doesn’t have a blog. She doesn’t have a buzznet account or a flickr account, she’s not on friendster or myspace. Nevertheless, she graciously agreed to accompany me to Lolita’s for the buzznet/blogger/tony pierce book signing party. We were fashionably late and walked into the bar at the height of the action, suddenly surrounded by clusters of people I might’ve known, but didn’t know I knew, and when Deborah asked if I knew anyone, I didn’t know.
“Maybe,” I shrugged.
There was one person, however, that I knew I knew. I recognized him immediately as he headed for the bar. “Yo.” I said, and pointed my finger at him. “Tony Pierce.”
He stopped, cocked his head, and squinted.
“Jamie,” I said.
“Jamie! Oh man, wow, cool.” We shook hands, gave each other a hug. “How ya doin’, man, nice to meet you…sorry, I’m a little drunk.”
“Of course you are,” I said, and congratulated him on his new job, and his new book, then introduced him to Deborah.
“Nice to meet you,” he said as he shook her hand. Then he turned to me and asked, “Have I seen her photograph before?”
“Yeah, you don’t recognize her? You posted her picture and everything.”
Deborah got embarrassed thinking of which photograph it could’ve been. I described it to her: “That one taken from above, where you’re kinda crouched on your knees. It’s pretty tame; only your face is in focus.”
“Oh, that one,” she sighed.
“Strictly R rated,” said Tony. “I have to tell you, and I hope this isn’t an insult to Jamie, or his photography, or anything, but you look way prettier in real life.”
“Aw, thank you.”
“That’s not an insult to you, is it dude?” he asked me.
“Well, yeah, of course it is,” I said.”If it weren’t true, I might even get mad about it.”
We tried to buy a couple of drinks, but Tony stopped us. “Don’t even think about it,” he said, then told the bartender to get us whatever we wanted.
“So you having a good time in New York?” I asked as we all clinked glasses. “What have you been doing besides going to boring conferences?”
“I’ve been having a great time. Just walking around, taking pictures. What an awesome city. I’ve been taking lots of pictures that look like yours. I keep thinking: This is a Jamie shot.”
“Yeah, see?” I shrugged. “It’s not hard to take a cool photo in New York, just point your camera and shoot.”
As soon as anyone who enjoys my photographs visits New York for themselves, my cover is blown. When Daniel was in town, he showed me a couple of photos he’d taken around my neighborhood, calling them Jamie shots. They were as good, or better, than any I’ve ever taken. It’s why I rarely answer people when they ask me what kind of camera I use. It’s not the camera, and it’s not the photographer, it’s New York. Stored energy is crammed into every nook and cranny, waiting to spring loose into a photo op.
Of course, I say that, and have no pictures from the night to back it up. But you don’t need a camera to feed off all that stored energy. If you ask me, it’s what made Tony so drunk. Sure, he’d been drinking–and he was obviously excited about his new book, and his new job–but whether he knows it or not, what really wound him up was New York City. For someone who lives in LA, there’s nothing like coming to New York and rubbing shoulders with people. Real live people.
“Let me get you your books,” Tony said, making good on his promise of two free copies of Stiff as part of my prize for the winning entry in his book cover competition. He disappeared into the crowd.
“He’s funny,” said Deborah.
Tony returned with the books, signed them for me, and then turned his attention to Deborah. “Do you have a blog?” he asked her.
“Do you have a buzznet account?”
“You should, you should. Everyone should have a buzznet account. What’s your astrological sign?”
“Leo! Perfect. What Leo doesn’t like to put themselves out there in the world?”
“Believe me,” she said, “There’s plenty of ‘me’ out there in the world.”
“Well, there you go,” he said. “I think you’re perfect for buzznet.”
“And I think you’re perfect to be a salesman for buzznet,” she laughed.
When Deborah went to the bathroom, I spoke to a woman I’d taken Tony’s picture with. “So,” I asked. “Are you a friend of Tony’s?”
“No! I’m East Coast!”
“Relax. What do I know?”
She told me she had a web site called “Candied Yams.”
(Turns out I got it wrong. It’s a flickr group. I remember now, because Tony scolded her for talking about a flickr group at a buzznet party.)
“Candied Yams? That’s a funny name.”
“It’s my burlesque name.”
I was surprised. She seemed a little reserved to have a burlesque act, but you never know. “Oh, cool,” I said. “So what’s your burlesque act like?”
“Oh, I don’t have an act. I just took a class. They made us pick names.”
Later on, I got cornered by a drunk Asian guy–at least I think he was drunk. He sat down next to me, held out his hand and told me his name. I didn’t catch it.
“What do you do?” he asked.
My all time biggest pet peeve question a person can ask, and he wasted no time getting to it.
“Nothing,” I replied.
“Nothing? That’s good,” he said, then went on to tell me about how he developed an internet blabbidy blah web based thing-a-ma-bob, with his college roommate.
I might’ve been impressed if I knew what the hell he was talking about.
“I ain’t never been much fer book lernin'” I said. “I just blog.”
Sometimes I don’t know what to say.