By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
|Photo by Anne Fishbein|
Outside Le Mondrian, the hotel you have to get into and then back out of to get to the SkyBar, a long, jagged line of cars testified to the presence of yet another Internet launch party unfolding in West Hollywood. But I wasn't going to the SkyBar to report on a launch party. I was going to interview an actor who'd been accused of a hate crime. Little did I know that the actor would not show up (I later learned that he'd taken one look at the cars lined up outside the hotel and left), and that this would be the beginning of a long, painful odyssey through the world of dot-com parties, a dark existential journey that would teach me little about myself and next to nothing about other people, except that they make more money than I do.
ICAST.com, "a multimedia rich online entertainment company that champions self-publishing within a personalized, community-oriented environment" (as per its press release), was holding a party to launch its new iCAST Movies channel, which would allow aspiring and even perspiring moviemakers to "showcase their work to iCAST's growing audience," resulting in "powerful online publicity and brand building." But caveat director: A paragraph at the bottom of the page warned that "This release contains forward-looking statements . . . subject to important factors and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements."
If they put that on a press release, I thought to myself, I'd hate to see what one of their contracts looks like.
Inside the Mondrian, I asked one of the cream-suited attendants for the press desk and was pointed to a long line of hiply dressed people waiting to pass through the glass doors that led from the inner sanctum of the Mondrian to the outer sanctum of the SkyBar. In short, there was no press desk, and nobody cared if you were a reporter or a freeloader or both. No hierarchies were being observed, except, of course, for the cases when they were being observed, because every so often you'd see someone casually walk down the line of people waiting to get in and disappear through the glass doors.
Out on the SkyBar patio, dozens of space heaters fought vainly to counteract the biting wind that swept over the swimming pool and down the steps and around the surreally large flowerpots and the hundreds and hundreds of guests. A giant-size rendition of Heather Locklear, advertising the Gap, stared at us from the side of a building five blocks away. Leaning against one of the shoulder-high flowerpots, I fiddled with my tape recorder and discovered that it didn't work. "I've got nothing against Bob Geiger," someone said as I pulled out my note pad and pen, "but if you take Geiger away from the Backstreet Boys you've still got 15 million records."
"Absolutely," I replied, and he gave me his card. It said "knitmedia.com." The Knitting Factory, the legendary downtown New York jazz club, was about to open lots of other knitting factories, he informed me. There would be knitting factories in L.A., in San Francisco, in Seattle, in London, in Berlin, everywhere, and they would all be connected to each other by a multitude of screens, so that at one knitting factory you could sit and watch a concert going on at another knitting factory, and there would always be a knitting factory near you. I've always liked the Knitting Factory -- in fact I'd been there just a few weeks earlier -- but the way he talked, it was beginning to sound like Starbucks.
"So who are you writing for?" he asked, no doubt hoping that my answer would be Red Herring or Fast Company or some other cutting-edge new-media outlet.
I told him I was writing for a newspaper called the Glaswegian Herald, and that I was at the party to interview someone accused of a hate crime.
"Nice talking to you," he said, and disappeared into the crowd.
A hip-hop band called Clone Revolt gave a short concert by the pool, ranting furiously into the wind. Though lasting only two minutes, it was perhaps the worst concert I have ever attended.
After Clone Revolt's performance, I spoke to the group's leader, Dr. P, a fast-talking white guy in red pants, black jacket and ragged '60s-style 'fro: a cyberspace Jerry Rubin for the year 2000. "Old school! I like that," he said, catching sight of my pad and pen. With Dr. P was Marcos Siega, iCAST's "resident filmmaker," who was making a documentary about Dr. P that he described as a "post-ironic look at celebrity and media," and that Dr. P himself described as being about the "creation and consumption of media in American society."