Friday, December 31, 2010

A Prophesy

On December 21, right on this blog, I prophesied an encounter.  On December 28, that encounter happened:  I saw the Bad Plus at the Village Vanguard, and after the first set, I introduced myself to Ethan Iverson in the musicians' room in the back of the club.  So what, right?  Well, maybe.  It wasn't a trying introduction, or a long one.  I really just wanted to show him my face, in person, to perhaps shake his hand (I did).

We both have jazz blogs, are tangentially related on the jazz internet, and I wanted to add another dimension to that relation.  I don't think online connections are superficial.  They can be--like any sort of connection.  I used to think blogs were lame, nerdy, uninteresting.  And some are.  But if you have a blog, and you work hard on it, and people read it, then that can be very satisfying, for you and for those reading it.

When I started this blog, I felt embarrassed--like I was declaring my self-importance.  I didn't want my blog to resemble a personal diary.  (You decide if I've been successful.)  I wanted to write about jazz--and I ended up mainly relating the music to my life.  I don't really feel embarrassed about having a blog anymore, but I am self-conscious of having one.  It's hard not to be.

I'm sitting in a cafe right now, there are three other men typing away on their laptops in my vicinity, and I'm wondering what they're working on.  Is it possible they're blogging, too?  Yes, but if they are, they're probably not blogging about blogging.

I don't really know who reads my blog.  I know some who do.  But when I look at the statistics--the page views (about 50 a day), the traffic sources (how are people finding my blog through a Russian furniture website?), the audience (22 page views from India this week)--I tend to think more about the purposes of blogging.

Every so often, I search my name on Google and find, to my surprise, websites and other blogs that have linked my entries.  You may control what you write, but once you unleash it on the internet, you can't know where that writing will end up.  In fact, it doesn't really end up anywhere, which doesn't mean it's not going anywhere.

I think that's ultimately a good thing:  It's one of the primary, albeit incidental, purposes of blogging.  So, on December 21, when I wrote I would introduce myself to Ethan Iverson at the Village Vanguard, it felt like a bigger deal than it might actually have been.  (Incidentally, that entry was linked on WBGO's Twitter feed.  I found it when I searched my name on Google.)

When I walked into the musicians' room, saw Ethan and introduced myself, I wondered if he had read my entry from December 21.  I didn't ask him.  I told him I was home for winter break, from McGill University, that I enjoyed the show.  He asked me if I am a writer or a musician.  I told him I play the drums, some piano, but at the moment, I consider myself more a writer than a musician.  He thanked me for coming out, said that the recent blizzard had almost prevented the band's timely arrival from Minnesota.

As I talked to him, I realized that my blog persona might actually just be my blog persona.  I try to be honest, to write what I think, but the tangible me, the one sitting before the computer right now, typing out his thoughts, the one studying political science and Arabic at McGill, the one who went to the Village Vanguard on December 28, the one with inhibitions--he is a separate person. 

That doesn't mean the connections I make on my blog are artificial or superficial.  They're just different.  Those connections allowed me to meet someone in person, someone I wouldn't have imagined meeting a year ago, someone who knew my name.  In a way, it wasn't even an introduction.  In the musicians' room, I didn't want to keep Ethan for too long, so I shook his hand and thanked him for talking to me.  "I'll see you on the internet," he said as I walked away.  

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