3rd September 12
Our little golden record, shorn long, long ago of its supporting text (and context) has now traveled far beyond the outer solar system, off past 3,000 on its way to its eventual home beyond 10,000.
Since its planetary mission is over, it is now being used to determine what the Tumblrverse is like beyond the heliosphere. On September 3, 2012, it passed the termination shock into the heliosheath, approximately 3,000 likes and reblogs further from South 12th than any other post.
It’s now far past Plutonian orbit, where it was reblogged with terse, one-sentence commentary by surly teens. It now travels over the precipice into deep space, silently reblogged without comment, over and over and over.
It will soon enter a new region referred to as a “cosmic purgatory.” The inner edge of this stagnation region is located approximately 4,000 reblogs from South 12th, while the outer edge is unknown.
28th August 12
23rd August 12
“OK,” says 70-year-old Andy. “Blogs are all I’m authorized to talk about. So what do you want to know about blogs? I haven’t even heard that stupid word in forty years.”
“No, I’m completely kidding. It’s a little bit like the words ‘vaudeville’ or ‘doo-wop’ when you were younger. I mean, you know what those things are, right?”
“Yes, sir. Of course.”
“Same thing. Word’s still in use, in a very limited capacity. Anyway. Ask away.”
“Well, I’m not sure what I’m asking about. I guess I’m trying to put South 12th in a historic perspective to figure out what it’s, um, about, and I’m not sure I’m figuring that out.”
“I’m not sure how to answer that, other than to say — well, you know what, I should actually tell you the story about the name. It’s really funny.”
“Sure. Let’s do it.”
“OK. So, obviously you’re living on South 12th Avenue in your time, in 2012. But the thing is, eventually — well, actually, never mind. This will be much more enjoyable for you if you just find out on your own.”
“Really, it’s classic. You’ll love it.”
“Uh, good. I’ll look forward to it.”
“No, other than — well, I don’t know. I guess not. South 12th. That’s our thing that we do.”
“To one extent or another, yes.”
We look at each other for a moment. He speaks again.
“You’re not going to ask me about marriages, too, are you?”
23rd August 12
“Heard you talked to 19-year-old Andy,” says 32-year-old Andy.
I sigh. “Yeah. Man.”
“Tough sledding, huh?”
“No kidding. I might as well have been speaking Aramaic. He had no idea what I was talking about. I actually didn’t realize this until I looked at Wikipedia later, but LiveJournal wasn’t even launched until 1999. So as far as, uh, blogs are concerned, he couldn’t have been much help.”
“You should have talked about zines. He might have understood that better.”
“Honestly, I don’t think he was as hot to trot on making zines as we may have suggested in the past. I think with most people our age — wait, we’re the same age, right?”
“Close. I’m a few months behind you. It’s April where I am.”
“Right. Anyway, I’m pretty sure zines didn’t factor into it much, until later on. I mean, there was John Doe is Dead and The National Cow, but those were exceptions. I don’t think he had much of a sense for himself as a writer until after blogs. The writing he…”
“Right. The writing we did through our 20s, and continue to do, were more a consequence of blogging and then expanding that into non-blogging formats later. As opposed to already being a writer, then using blogs to continue that work. You know what I mean? I wish I’d asked 19-year-old Andy about his writing habits.”
“He didn’t have any. I remember. He mostly wrote long school assignments, and impassioned emails.”
“True. Actually, he kept saying E-mails, with a capital E and a hyphen.”
“Bizarre. Although I think you may be remembering that as a retro affectation to make him sound old-timier.”
“Maybe. Also, why do people keep asking us about our supposed marriages?”
“I’d rather not think about it.”
23rd August 12
“Hey,” says 19-year-old Andy. “I got your E-mail. You wanted to talk about, uh, the Internet?”
“Yeah,” I say. “Blogs, specifically. I’m trying to figure some stuff out around that area. I thought talking to you and some of the others might be helpful. You know, get a historic perspective.”
He repeats the words “blogs,” and pauses for a long time. “You mean, like, LiveJournal?”
“Yes. Exactly like that. You don’t have one, right?”
“A LiveJournal? No.” He pauses again. “LiveJournals are more for, uh…teenagers, I think.”
“But you’re a teenager!” I regret saying this immediately.
He shrugs and looks annoyed. “I guess so. I’m a sophomore in college. I mean 14-year-olds.”
I change the subject. “That’s not your computer, right?”
He shakes his head. “No. It’s Jason’s. Do you talk to him anymore?”
I laugh. “No. Never. I haven’t heard from him in ten years. Probably more. I have no idea what became of him. Honestly, I don’t talk to anyone you know anymore, except Katie.”
He smirks. “Hmmm.”
“That doesn’t really disappoint you, does it? Not talking to anyone here ever again?”
“Well, no. Not really.” He looks around. “Actually, most of these people suck. They won’t even watch Barry Lyndon with me.”
“See, that’s it!” I exclaim. “It’s a social thing, isn’t it? All your Internet friends from STUFO on the Compuserve forums you typed long, crazy-ass letters to when you were a teenager. It’s the same thing with blogs. There’s a huge, huge social component.”
“All your friends now are Internet friends?” he asks, looking puzzled.
“Well, sort of, yeah. I mean, no, I see them all the time, in real life, but the distinction between real friend and Internet friend isn’t as clear-cut as you’re imagining.”
“Interesting. So instead of, uh, E-mailing or calling your friends to talk about, uh, your job and wife and family and what-not, you blog about it?”
I don’t say anything for a long time. “Well, no, not exactly.”
He looks more puzzled than ever. “What does our wife think?”
22nd August 12
“I heard you were talking to 22-year-old Andy about the blog,” says 28-year-old Andy. “I heard it didn’t go well.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” I say. “It wasn’t bad. He says blogging is a young person’s game, which is why I can’t keep up. Keep up, quote-unquote. Which is kind of ridiculous, but I think he was sort of kidding.”
“Well, are you keeping up?”
“Uh, yes and no. Actually, not really. It’s pretty sporadic. I can’t figure out what it’s for anymore.”
“You mean South 12th, right?”
“Well, I guess I’ll find out. I just launched it a few days ago.”
“Yeah, so I hear. What do you have in mind, actually? I barely remember what I was thinking.”
“Oh, you know. All those This Recording writers all had one they used to supplement their regular writing elsewhere. It’s a nice layout. Seems easy to use. Do people still read This Recording?”
“I’m not sure, honestly.”
“Huh.” He pauses. “Well, I was thinking that since I never managed to make long-form writing work consistently, the Tumblr could be sort of a scrapbook of images and video and links and things like that. And maybe I’d write some longer stuff, here and there. So I guess what it’s about is creating a sort of impressionistic record of your interests.”
“Sure. That makes sense. Only problem is I don’t see any point in sharing links and stuff. I mean, everyone on the internet reads the same stuff anyway. I don’t think I’d want to keep writing a blog that’s only an impressionistic record of our interests. Or, um, your interests, my interests, whatever you might call them. Your interests are still generally my interests, I think.”
“Well, I figured it’d evolve over time. It sounds like it does evolve, I guess. What else did 22-year-old Andy have to say?”
“Um, I lied and told him I was married.”
“Wait…you mean you’re not?”
22nd August 12
“Sorry, old-timer,” says 22-year-old Andy. “Bloggin’ is a young person’s game. That’s why you can’t keep up.”
“That’s pretty big talk for a guy that doesn’t even own a computer,” I say to him.
“What’s a ‘Kick-Starter,’ anyways?” he asks me.
“Stop it. You’re just adding a hyphen to that word so you sound old-timey.”
“I am old-timey. Ten years is a long time. Hey, are you still into the Walkmen?”
“I don’t think about it that much. But guess what? Carrie Brownstein is a comedian now. Blog about that.”
He shakes his head and smiles. “I don’t believe you. Are you married yet?”
“Uh, yeah,” I lie. “I blog about it all the time. You want to see photos of my kids?”
“No,” he lies.
22nd August 12
Good news, everyone! The magic is back!
(Many thanks to the redoubtable Georges Albert Édouard Brutus Gilles for fabricating this image.)
21st August 12
- Everything hand-lettered.
- Write everything in the voice of a 23-year-old assistant I have hired to improve the quality of posts.
- Actually hire a 23-year-old assistant to write posts instead of me. Write a “show bible” so they know generally what topics to touch on.
- More several hundred-word long posts about previous relationships.
- Or about actual feelings of any kind.
- More photos with better-written captions.
- Change S. 12th to a mail-order service where I send a typewritten letter in the mail once a month or so. Charge maybe five bucks a month. Collect subscriptions via PayPal.
- Switch to all “theme months” format, where everything written is only on one topic. Topics are chosen by popular vote.
- More stories about being twenty-three, even though I didn’t really being twenty-three all that much.
- Or childhood.
- Maybe drawing-a-week. I probably couldn’t keep up drawing-a-day. In fact, I’m sure I couldn’t. I can barely answer emails on time.
- All fiction. No more pretense that anything I write is true. Slippery, unreliable narration.
- Figure out what Woody Allen would do. Clearly a panicky list like this puts us somewhere in the realm of Stardust Memories / A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy. (The Buffalo Wild Wings letters were my Annie Hall.) That means next up is Zelig and Broadway Danny Rose. Self-reflexive genre stuff. I could handle that, maybe.
21st August 12
I’ve been using this platform for, like, what, four years now? And it still utterly confounds me. I mean, this is more Tumblarity points than everything else I have ever written combined. And for a crappy map on a Post-It note illustrating a dumb joke that is probably two-hundred years old?
Anyway, South 12th used to be way better. Read through the archives for incontrovertible proof.