Here’s something I started on Sunday morning and will probably finish tonight or tomorrow.
The “Saturday Night” Part
I did some long-overdue but rather time-conusming housekeeping on Saturday, so I didn’t make it to the Skin Tight Outta Sight burlesque
show at the Cadillac Lounge until 11:30 p.m.. This was well after
Meryle’s two performances, one of which was a saucy tribute to
Spongebob Squarepants. I hope to catch that particular performance one
of these days.
Joanne Galligan was tending bar. Joanne is one of the Galligan
sisters, a set of alt-rock-cute siblings who are well-known and
well-loved throughout the Queen Street West bar circuit and the
Accordion City’s strange sub-culture of geeks who also happen to be
barflies. Naturally, living in this strange sliver within Toronto’s
Venn diagram put them within Cory Doctorow’s orbit. Their association
with him goes back to the days when his joke name was “Spit” or its
longer form, “Salvatore Iva” (the joke becomes more obvious when you
shorten the first name to “Sal”). Whenever Cory autographs a book or
signs a card for any one of them, he signs it with “To my favourite
Galligan sister,” a trick — although Cory swears it he doesn’t realize
he’s doing it — that they have only recently discovered.
Joanne’s boyfriend, Chris Dignan, was also there, keeping Joanne
company and catching the show. Although I know Chris better because
he’s dating Joanne, I’d met him long before. He and his brother Sean
were in a rockabilly band with a bit of a reputation called
Suckerpunch, and they played a gig at Clark Hall Pub (Crazy Go Nuts
University’s engineering pub) when I was DJing. We chatted for a bit
and watched a couple of performances, after which he bought a round of
vodka-and-Jagermeister shots. Thanks, Chris!
“Just the man I wanted to see,” said Meryle’s boyfriend, whose stage
name is Mysterion the Mind Reader as he walked up to me. He needed a
theme song for his act and asked if I could wrtie one for him. “Creepy
circus music, with a few wrong notes — but not too many — thrown in.”
“You’re in luck,” I said. “I always throw in some wrong notes.”
I improvised some Danny Elfman-ish minor chord stuff in 3/4 time
with some calliope-friendly triplets. He seemed to like it. Perhaps
I’ll have a chance to debut it at his show at Sneaky Dee’s next Friday,
where he’s performing along with Skin Tight Outta Sight in a special
Friday the 13th-themed performance.
As I emerged from the washroom, a couple of people walked up to me
and asked “Are you the Accordion Guy?”, to which I provided an
“I read your blog!” said one of them. I thanked her, noting that the sentence would’ve been a non sequitur only a decade ago.
(I seriously doubt that Outkast’s Andre 3000 was thinking, “Yes,
this song is certain to be a sure-fire accordion crowd pleaser!” as he
was penning it.)
After I left that group of people, I was approached by another guy. It took me a moment to recognize him.
“Joey, it’s me, Fred! From the Mood Swingers!”
The Mood Swingers were a husband-and-wife jazz combo whom I
met in 2000; Fred played saxophone and Bev sang. I met them through my
friend Voltaire (yes, that’s his real name, and it’s his first name); I
was to join their act, providing backup on about half their numbers
(lounge standards such as Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps, My Heart Belongs to Daddy and Besame Mucho), but my move to San Francisco pre-empted those plans.
We talked for a while, after which I gave Fred my contact
information. He’s looking for an organist and he complained that all he
could find were “piano guys”. All my keyboard training was for the
organ, not piano, up to that fateful day I engineered my getting kicked
Another woman walked up to me. “Are you…Joey?”
“Yes,” I said, reaching out to shake her hand.
“I’m [name withheld].” The name didn’t register until she explained further. “We’ve only talked on the phone. About [the New Girl].”
I realized who she was. She was the lover with whom the New Girl had been living with prior to my meeting her.
(For the full story, read this entry and scroll down to the section titled “It Gets Worse”.)
We had a short and pleasant conversation, which suggests that I’m
either resilient or that my weirdometer is now completely miscalibrated.
At the end of the evening, I was feeling hungry, so I went to
Excellent Chinese restaurant. As I walked in, the waiter said “Ah,
Accordion Guy! Yeung Chow Fried rice, Diet Coke and tea?”
“Please,” I said.
And thus ended what constitutes a relatively quiet Saturday night for me.
The “Yeah, what Danny said!” part
On Sunday morning, a quick scan of the aggregator led me to a BoingBoing
entry written by Cory, which in turned pointed to an entry by Danny
O’Brien in which he comments on fame’s “middle class”:
I found myself asking…How many people do you need to be famous for?
I’ve been trying to work out the answer ever since: both personally, and,
more generally, as question whose answer may be affected by the technologies
we are creating.
There was a time, I think, in the industries where fame is important, that
you had was famous, and not. You had big stars, and you had a thin line of
people who had work, and you had failures, or people who felt like
But now the drop-off on that curve seems to be less precipitous. It feels,
stuck here, so close to the machinery of the Net, that there’s a growing
middle-class of fame – a whole world of people who aren’t really famous, but
could spend their days only talking to people who think they’re fucking
fantastic (or horrifyingly notorious).
This article, in combination with last night’s events, got me thinking. How much notoriety is enough?
As a an extrovert and a person who half-jokingly refers to himself as
“The World’s Most Humble Egomaniac”, this is not just some interesting
abstract question one asks at a cocktail party or cafe. It’s more
important — I’d give it the same weight as a “What shall I do with my
life?” sort of question. It’s important to me because it is a question
applicable to point number two of my overarching career goals (yes, I
actually write stuff like this down), which are:
- To do good, interesting and influential work that I enjoy.
- To be known for that work.
- To earn a fair profit for my efforts.
These principles steered me away from a job programming for a bank
or an insurance firm when I graduated from Crazy Go Nuts University.
Instead, I joined a company that made interactive multimedia programs
distributed on floppy disks, CD-ROMs, and later, the ‘net. The pay was
much worse, but the rewards turned out to be far greater.
The same principles led me to keep a job at Tucows, even though I was
offered a position that paid more — enough to maintain my current
lifestyle and make monthly payments on a brand new BMW 3-series — mere days
after Boss Ross and Boss Ross’ Boss Noss
took me on. The choice was between doing fun, cool work in Tucows’
Research and Innovations department, where I’m being paid to get
attention, or making more money to do solid but somewhat boring work
building user interfaces for job-tracking software for a company that
relies on its obscurity.
(For more information on how much enjoying my work means to me, see this entry about a nightmare I had after an interview for placement at an insurance company deep in the burbs.)
As the Technical Community Development Coordinator for Tucows, I’m
enjoying the Reese’s peanut butter cup goodness of doing two things I
like: techie stuff and schmoozy stuff. The schmoozy part of my job is
making sure are reading what I’m writing, which entails making sure you
know who I am. My job is to be Scoble on a tighter budget: Punk Scoble (or perhaps Ghetto Scoble).
To be continued…