Saturday, August 12, 2006

A fellowship of like-minded individuals.

You know what’s nice about the Internet? Being able to help all those Nigerian princes with cash flow problems. Also, knowing that typing the phrase “Former ‘Baywatch’ actress unclothed” will get you 5,710,000 pages (When checking this, I used a less obscure phrase, but if I write what I typed, I will become page 5,710,001). But I would have to say my favorite part of the Internet is how the definitions of “offbeat interest” or “unusual hobby” or “obscure, if harmless, fixation” have changed dramatically.

Ten years ago, certain people would retreat to the sanctity of their house and, having drawn the curtains, quietly approach their sleeping housecat. They would then place objects on top of their cat. The cat might awaken, and the rare feline might actually move, but any cat worth its union card would just lay there, glaring impotently at its owner.

“Oh, if only I had thumbs and wasn’t really comfortable, wouldn’t I just rip this tiny straw Minnie Pearl hat off my head and tear the Tickle Me Elmo doll sitting on my ass to shreds!”

The juxtaposition of random objects balanced on a tiny hostile predator would please the owner tremendously. But this was a hobby meant for one person to indulge in. Or two very good friends. Maybe three, but only if a bong was involved. And anyone pursuing this hobby knew it was something both private and weird.

Then came the Internet, and someone who refused to live a life of shame any longer created www.stuffonmycat.com, and people discovered there was a community of other persons who dressed their cat in a babushka and encouraged them to dance to “Fiddler on the Roof”. They lifted their heads in pride, took pictures of their cat wearing a Queen Elizabeth II coronation teacup between its ears, and waited impatiently for the 2007 Stuff on My Cat calendar.

Repeat this about a hundred million times, and you have the world’s largest bazaar for small special-interest communities. Obviously, there are some extremely unsavory communities out there, but let’s stay on the sunny side of the street. If you like hubcaps, you have about 1.5 million pages to explore. If you like Ford hubcaps, you have about 444,000 pages. You want Ford Edsel hubcaps? There are over 15,000 pages right there -- and keep in mind, this was a car which was sold for two years, nearly fifty years ago.

I must admit, I have a soft spot for the web sites of the truly obsessed. It seems to me, the ultimate goal of modern intelligence is to know one snappy phrase about everything worth knowing, which changes every 72 hours. Some nights, it’s nice to visit a world where a group of people feel passionately about something like, oh, root beer.

Or pocket squares.

Lately, usually while actively avoiding writing, I have been held happily hostage to http://thesartorialist.blogspot.com, a website run by a photographer in New York who takes pictures of notably-dressed people on the streets of all five boroughs. Not every outfit works, but it is fun to see people taking chances (I won’t be wearing Capri leggings under a sheer skirt while conscious, but I’m glad someone young, slim and gorgeous does. It’s one of the privileges of maturity, right?).

Most enjoyable are the comments from other visitors. A picture of a man in a blue suit, white shirt and dark tie can elicit twenty-five remarks hotly debating whether it’s a Jil Sander suit or a (virtually identical) Helmut Lang suit; why he chose a cap-toed dress shoe; the relative chic of a pointed versus a floppy pocket square. This is what GQ would read like if it were edited by OCD in-patients.

The proper width for a cuff on a jean, the relative style of matching your sweater to your socks versus the lining of your Dries Van Noten peacoat, the exact perfect length and width for shorts this summer -- nothing goes unexamined by this crowd. These people breathe style, they bleed style, and they take poor style choices personally (The flip-flop debates get ugly).

I love it. I love every fanatical keystroke. I love it as long as they aren’t gazing upon me. My wardrobe affinities these days are less Holly Golightly, more Peter Brady (I favor striped shirts, jeans, and Chuck Taylors; you explain how this doesn’t make me the fashion descendent of the middle Brady son). But unless the Sartorialist leaves Manhattan and takes a picture of me as a cautionary tale of how low not to sink, I should be safe.

Meanwhile, I shall drink the recommended root beer, follow the heated “Topsiders; retro hip or just horrible” debate, and bask in the glory of Internet intercourse. Later, I shall put both a pointed and a floppy pocket square on the cat, and see which one I prefer.

6 Comments:

Anonymous christine said...

Quinn-I got up early this morning to work and decided to check my daily blogs and here you go and link me to even more blogs that I will have to waste waaaay too much time looking at. My two felines will curse you as I am dressing them later today :) Christine

5:41 AM  
Blogger Valerie said...

One morning, just before Christmas, Hubbs & i thought it would be a good idea to take a family photo - us & the cat. And we'll put reindeer antlers on the cat. It's still one of my favorites: the two of us grinning madly, and the cat looking as if murder wasn't good enough for us.
Ah, precious memories.

7:58 AM  
Anonymous chele said...

well, i was going to comment in the glorious anonymity of the internet, that I was held captive to stuffonmycat.com for a rather embarrassing long time, but i see that it caught the attention of some of our other friends here. Quinn, you are too funny. I just wish you posted something every day...no pressure, just a thought. wink!

10:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All right, since you threw down the gauntlet: if your striped shirts are boat necked and look like you stole them from a fisherman working a boat off Santorini and your jeans are the new Prada dark wash and your Chuck Taylors are the same ones you had in high school that have "Quinn LeBon" written on the sole and you've got all your hair up to protect the miraculously healing bump, you'd look less Peter Brady and more Jean Seberg circa "Breathless," and that trumps Holly Golightly any day. Any good fashionista knows it's all in the details :)

9:02 AM  
Blogger houseband00 said...

Hi Quinn,

These are my naughty favorites:

http://overheardinnewyork.com/

and its eventual copycat

http://overheardinphilly.blogspot.com/

Have fun! =)

7:50 PM  
Anonymous Neil said...

It's going to be a sad day for the blogging world when the marketers get smart and A&W Root Beer starts publishing a phony blog about the "world's best root beers" and puts themselves at #1. I guarantee they're already thinking of it.

11:01 AM  

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