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Thursday August 03, 2000, 11:23

What didn't happen is that I didn't get in to see the Real World / Road Rules Challenge taping downtown last night as, according to the security guard1 I befriended last night, MTV was only letting 350 people in and with a crowd of several hundred more standing on line outside the club I, having gotten out of work late being in that crowd of several hundred, had "no chance in hell" of getting in. Ah well. Spoiler details are that the Road Rules team won and there was mud wrestling and dwarves2. There are still some pictures in my camera as well, but I have to completely hose my workstation to get them off of the memory card and into this box, so I'll leave that for later when I'm not actually doing anything that I care about, like recounting my life story to my close personal friends.

The line was crowded and the crew had shouted on numerous occasions that there was no way that any people past this (arbitrarily chosen and fairly flexible point in the line) were going to get in to see the dram unfold in the club. Disappointing as that might have been, I actually believed (or hoped, one or the other) in my own little world that I would be able to weasle myself into the festivities with little work, relying purely on the fact that I wasn't one of the (strangely taken by the celebrity status of these, to be perfectly honest, nobodies) mob of people clogging the sidewalk. Even when the bus pulled up on the sidewalk and people started shouting for their favorite cast members, there was a debate raging about whether or not I would pull out my camera and associate myself with the crowd of people in which I was standing.

In the end I did decide to take pictures, if only for "I was there and this is what I saw and now watch me make commentary upon it" purposes. While the commentary is still forthcoming and, in fact, probably never will find its way out of my head, it was still the motivation for my reaching into my (still trendy after all this time) Manhattan Portage bag and pull out my (dorky and completely unsuited for snapshots) digital camera to take some pictures of (Mormon who just got booted from BYU) Julie through the window of the Real World bus. In my pocket now as I write this and in my hand when I was standing on the sidewalk are two origami cranes3 that, in a constructed reality of mine where I have a lot more luck and courage than I actually do in the actual reality that is the world in which I live, I would have given to someone (presumably a girl because they seem to appreciate gestures like this) who would have then become my friend.

Despite the shouts from the voice in the crowd of "MTV IS LIARS" from one amusing if slightly irritating individual, the overall experience was, in my mind, a fabulous study in shared experience and something along the lines of herd mentality. Or something similarly stupid that was just pulled out of my ass, for as I stood outside the velvet ropes and watched the small clustering of people between the bus and the stage door to the club, a young woman approached me and asked if I wanted to get in, and whether I was actually here to see whatever it was that the spectacle inside was going to be. I told her that yes, I was there to see them, but that I was also there just to watch the people in the crowd, that I had stayed beyond all hope of actually getting in just to watch how people would react when a group of celebrities4 arrived in a big painted bus and rushed by them into a club.

I did convey that fact that while I did find the whole phenomenon rather amusing, had someone offered me the chance to get into the club, I would have jumped at it.

Conversation from then on was a mix of herd mentality, fractals, and why one would have fun at a rave (other than being "Totally Fucked Up" which didn't really prove my point). Through most of it I found myself talking incessantly about the power of the collective experience and finding myself talking about a philosophy that I would like to stand by, but generally do not. I also find myself desperately wanting to convey this philosophy, but am just not feeling inspired enough in my current situation, which is completely counter to my philosophy, to do so. The conversation did progress down such lines that one of the other individuals there, a young man from Kenyon ("Is that in Kenya?" "No it's not in Kenya though I would like to visit Kenya") College took a step back and started making faces to his companion indicating his confusion. When asked about this he mereley stated that "this is way over my head."

Eventually it was time to leave, the cast having entered the building and the stragglers getting kicked off the sidewalk. I asked the young woman (Audrey) if she wanted to join us for dinner and while she declined, she did tell me that it was nice talking with a "very intelligent person." This was subsequently downgraded to "somewhat intelligent" but after some amount of protesting was raised again to "very intelligent." Also of interest is that, in the midst of our conversation about herds and collective unconscious and the like she noted that I didn't really fit in to the crowd outside of the club. I revel in my individuality.

I did not get to see my favorite reality TV superstars battle it out in a pit of mud, but I did get my little does of experience. Bittersweet evening to be sure, but leaning more towards the sweet end of the spectrum.

There will now be break during which time you can go get lunch or go to the bathroom or go and do some work for a while while I write some more crap. In fact, you've wasted enough time for the moment and I think you should definitely just go downstairs right now and say hello to a stranger. I met a stranger who will be taking a train ride across the United States and into Canada. Imagine who you might meet. When you are done you can finish reading.

It is very interesting to be underappreciated at work. I really do wonder whether the folks here understand where I am coming from when I think that I am not making nearly enough money to warrant my staying here. For what I've gotten out of this experience, it is rather arrogant to keep hearing, day in and day out that "He's not leaving. He's here forever." And to hear that "You're not leaving, you've got the golden handcuffs" makes me want to pack up my beach balls and foam toys and walk out at the end of the day, not looking back at all.

Now of course we realize that this will never happen, but given my experience of last night, seeing people, seeing this environment seeing screaming fans and the lights and the nitty gritty holding up the glamour I remember, once again, what it's like to be a part of making that happen.

On the other hand, I have a clearer picture of my future now. It's just a matter of when I let everyone else in on it.

1. There is a certain level of comfort I have in talking to people in some role of authority. Whether that stems from the fact that I have had to assume that role in the past, so I appreciate having to stand around keeping people from breaking the shit that I have so carefully put in order, or whether it's simply that, as I have played that role before, I am more informed and when it does come to talking to these people I can speak with some sense of experience and as such gain their respect or at least fall out of the realm of No I Won't Let You In Even If You Do Show Me Your Tits and into the Boy These People Really Suck Don't They Yeah They Do category. I wonder if I would have gotten in if I had showed him my tits. And his name was Jason. A bartender and security guard at the club, a chef by trade.

2. I think that saying midgets there would have been funnier, and I actually thought "midgets" there, but wasn't able to bring myself to lie about it just to make for a better story. Also, the mud wrestling is pure speculation from information I gathered from the security guard and the dwarves may or may not have been involved in the actual event.

3. Lacking for footage as the bus carrying the newly-minted voice of my generation was three hours late arriving at the club, I caught the camera guy pointing his camera in my direction as I stood on the sidewalk (after being told to get back up on the sidewalk as the crowd was swelling into the street to the annoyance of the staff involved, peripherally with this event) and folded paper. Doubtful that this will make it to the show, but nice to know that I didn't have to drool on the Road Rules bus to capture some attention. Despite my posturing I am little more than a media whore.

4. In talking about the Bunim-Murray phenomenon of creating somebodies out of relative nobodies, it should be noted that the cast members of the Real World do actually possess talents outside of the ability to whine and take off their clothes on camera. In fact, for a while at least, it was expected that the producers would cast people who were at least peripherally in the entertainment industry. Or who were at least performers of some sort. Regardless, the point is that we (a blanket statement to describe all of the Real World-watching people in the country) find these people compelling enough, through talented editing to watch them week after week. Whether these people become famous by their own merits or whether they become famous through some media construction, if they can carry the lifestyle, and if they want to, it seems that they should be allowed to with my blessing and not criticism. Although that is always followed by "but I want to be famous."

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