Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Twitter and other things I don’t understand

October 8

When did it become okay to make uninvited physical contact with people, even in a crowded place, and not acknowledge that you’ve done so? I’m not asking for cash compensation, just an “excuse me” or a “sorry.” Even a single-syllable “oops.”
There are exceptions. If you want to get past someone in a crowded space, especially a loud one, a gentle hand on the upper back or shoulder is an acceptable form of communication. It should be responded to by trying to move out of the way when it’s convenient to do so.
People do it on subways (acknowledge that they’ve touched you, that is). Recently even a neighbor’s three-year old, who accidentally reached up and smacked me in the leg as we were entering our building, apologized, and I live in Park Slope, Brooklyn — Spoiled-Child Central.
But not last night at the opening of M by Megu, a new bar upstairs at that restaurant’s Tribeca location. It was one of those velvet rope paparazzi parties and I guess the people who got there right before I did were famous — pop stars or reality TV show people or models or someone from another genre I don’t follow — because they posed for the photographers who eagerly snapped away.
One of the publicists offered to pose with me, which was nice, but I declined. If paparazzi don’t want my picture then I’m not going to give it to them.
Inside the party was just 15 minutes old, but it was already loud and crowded, which is of course what you’d expect.
I asked the bartender to make me something that was easy for her.
“Fruity or not?” she asked.
“Not,” I said, and she made me a saketini garnished with cucumber.
Then I tried to move away from the bar to let others get drinks, and a woman with her back to me blocked my way.
I tried the hand-on-the-shoulder trick, but she ignored me, perhaps because she was so accustomed to people touching her uninvited. So I squeezed by as nicely as I could, apologized and proceeded to get hit by ladies’ purses and body-checked by people who didn’t seem to notice that I was there. One woman, trying to show the stain on her beige top caused clearly by a splashed pomegranate Martini, extended her arm right into my chest, and then just left it there as if I didn’t exist.
I guess it’s just normal these days. A couple of weeks ago I went with my friend Andy Battaglia and his baby brother Jeff to a show at the new Chinatown club Santos Party House, where two of Andy’s favorite German techno/house DJs, Michael Mayer and Superpitcher were performing.
Little Jeff (actually, he’s several inches taller than Andy and built like the ex-fraternity, golf-playing guy that he is, whereas Andy looks like the cerebral music critic that he is) is in fact the CFO of a financial services firm — one that doesn’t trade in mortgage-backed securities, by the way — so I didn’t argue with him when he paid for the taxi ride home.
He’s just 30 years old.
Anyway, even before the headliners started people were walking through each other like they couldn’t see, and they all seemed to think it was perfectly normal. One guy, clearly in a different-from-usual state due to hallucinogens and/or stimulants, barreled right through me on the way to the bar, so I asked Andy if I could beat him up.
Andy shook his head.
“He’s pretty messed up,” I said. “I bet I could take him.”
Andy told me not to.
“What if I asked Jeff?”
He shrugged his shoulders. I decided not to bother.
Santos was a lot of fun, and the sound system was so good that the music made my whole body tingle without harming my ears. It was like being a baby in one of those vibrating chairs. Andy assured me it wouldn’t make me sterile.
For a club, Santos had an unusually good beer-on-tap selection. Stella Artois, of course, for Jeff and other Wall Street types (or to be fair, anyone who likes a mild lager), Guinness for the slightly more edgy, a hoppy Six-Point for snobs like me who like pretentious, bitter beer, preferably from a local microbrewery, and something I didn’t recognize and couldn’t read on the tap.
I asked the bartender about it. He said he had no idea what it was and poured me a taste. It was dark, but not as dark as Guinness.
I later asked a different bartender, and she didn’t know what it was either. Apparently they’d just added it and I guess no one had asked about it yet.
So I called them the next day. Turns out it was from a Pennsylvania craft brewery called Tröegs.
So that was good to know.
Earlier that same night, at a somewhat strange Scotch-tasting event I might get to describing some other time, I asked Andy, Jeff and Andy’s friend Dan Foster, a former intern of his, if they understood this thing Twitter and why people would want to read very brief updates about what a bunch of people were doing.
They didn’t.
Now that I’ve been tweeting (apparently that’s what it’s called) for awhile, I get it to a point. I understand why I’d want to be updated on what food trucks are in my neighborhood for lunch today, and I guess I even understand why I’d like to hear litte musings from good friends of mine. Especially since I have unusually poetic friends, like Craig Stuart, who keeps us up-to-date with his observations, like “1990s white BMW with wide center, red racing stripe down hood and roof, and Tintin image painted on side door, at Hayes and Buchanan.”
He’s a Sagittarius.
Anyway, my marketing people want me to tweet for this blog and see if it will drive traffic. And indeed it is driving a little bit of traffic.
(sign up here, if you want).
Speaking of Andy’s interns, I met another one last night at the opening of Naya, a new, rather high-end Lebanese place not far from my office. Young Paul Caine, who also is an intern at Eater, was talking to my friend Akiko Katayama. He thinks Andy’s awesome, which of course he is.
Apart from interning at two fine publications, Paul also works at a restaurant. He’s quite the go-getter, and kind of looks like Andy, actually.
Then consultant and former restaurateur Rita Jammet arrived and we eventually found our way to the back of the restaurant and hung out with the place’s owner Hady Kfoury, François Payard, with whom Hady used to work, and later on Todd English and Sam Hazen.
Rita and Hady had plenty to talk about, as they both grew up in Lebanon.
Sam, as you might know but I didn’t, because I don’t read Grub Street closely enough, recently left his job at Tao to become Todd’s corporate chef.
François expressed good-natured disappointment that I was so uninformed.
“You should read the papers,” he said.
From Naya I went to M by Megu, got jostled and chatted with freelance writer Jean Tang, among others, including a former server at Morimoto who now works at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s new soba place, Matsugen, which is just around the corner from Megu.
I snacked fairly well on three types of kibbeh as well as hummus, falafel and cheese pastries at Naya, and I had a bit of sushi at M by Megu, but soba still sounded good. So I slipped out and popped into Matsugen, whose kitchen had just closed, it being just after 11pm. I still stayed for a drink, though. I had a Moskomur — clearly a Moskow Mule (vodka, ginger beer, lime, mint, simple syrup) with a Japanese accent. It was made with vodka, ginger juice and shiso.


Nick Pandolfi said...

So glad you met Paul last night. He was my roommate last summer. Definitely a go-getter.

Shane Curcuru said...

Twitter is so modern web, it really defines part of the genre. But with both broader appeal and less value (in some ways) than Facebook.

I tweet at odd times, often during conferences, although that may change if I ever find a client I like. One way to think of it is microblogging: a place to put those one-liners you think of, but aren't worth writing a full entry about.

I am, of course, just ShaneCurcuru there.

Bret Thorn said...

Yeah, I kind of get it, Shane, but in many ways it just creates more meaningless static that takes away from actual conversation with people I care about. Facebook does that, too, but less so, and it (Facebook) has helped me reconnect with people I haven’t seen in awhile, although that usually means one e-mail exchange and then that’s the end of it; usually if I haven’t seen someone for 20 years it’s because, as much as I like him or her, we don’t really have anything to say to each other.
But people do love Twitter. My list of followers there is growing steadily.