There was a post-apocalypse theme party in honor of one Oakland Soft Rock Choir member moving out of a building and another member moving in. The party started yesterday evening and ran into the wee hours. Attendees were invited to dress up (“Tank Girl,” zombies, steampunk) but the only costume that made sense to me was to dress down, don all black, carry a Good Book (the King James version of the Original African Heritage Study Bible that my mother gifted me with for Christmas in 1993), walk up on people and ask if they’d accepted Jesus Christ as their one true Lord and savior — not that there aren’t people doing that sort of street-preaching now, just that it seems like a post-apocalyptic growth market. After about ten choir members performed a brief set, some of us wound up on the roof quietly talking. I couldn’t help noticing the Elihu M. Harris federal building sitting just blocks away from us.
The other stroke of luck in the last two days came from a rarely used Twitter account and a contest thrown at regular intervals by a certain transit agency. I had no ideas those tickets were going to be waiting for me at will-call, honest! But there they were, and there I was, after I’d somehow parked all the way in the rear of some lot above the Greek Theatre downhill from a Hearst Avenue-intersecting driveway and then rambled downhill in the noisy dark past clumps of young adults in blankets and warm clothing taking in the genteely sublime stylings of opening band The Walkmen. “I need a ticket to hear these guys?” I thought. “Doesn’t look like it!”
The only annoyance? The guy squeezing in between me and his date who leaned over when he saw me and asked if I was a Fleet Foxes fan. “Yeah,” I replied. “Are you?” Ask me again if I’m a fan again, superchill beer-sipping indie-rock bro. Ask me again, I dare you, I double-dare you. Ask my Last.fm queue, why don’t you? sigh
I didn’t plan on visiting another office so soon after last month’s visit to Mountain View. But when one notices a Google Places tweet and responds as directed, any manner of strangeness may result. So it was that I found myself exiting the Embarcadero BART station and walking down to Google San Francisco.
I had a good time meeting other lunch invitees (the developer who likes to hack on the side; the DJ with ideas about music storage; the Spanish-language journalist and organizer), filling my plate and taking a walk around the place and pinching myself a little. I never forget that this stuff doesn’t spring into existence out of the ether.
I remember how it felt back in late July, finding myself seat-belted into a Southwest flight rolling along the runway at Oakland International Airport, my phone camera aimed out the window, my stomach gathered up under my ribcage, my inner ears bouncing like orchestra tympani, and then the juddering bounce that comes when leaping up off the ground, wings outside doing their Bernoulli thing, thick slabs of noise coming from outside and inside, and then banking slightly so that everyone on my side could look out below at the city slipping away below us, receding as we climbed up and began drifting eastward toward Colorado.
I don’t know what to think. I woke up this morning, and there was a note from Amy Gahran with news I never thought I’d see, on a scale and with a potential to upend or at least slightly bend a bunch of things I’d assumed were unalterable in their trajectory.
I need to see what’s coming. I need to how it can work. After all, Paton’s thing so far has been small and midsize papers. I don’t know how that will work here in our environment, with the on-rushing push toward regional and away from local coverage.
I need to know if his idea of “digital first” is something individual, atomized, lightweight or faceless, branded and conversation-shy. I need to know if “digital first” is more iPad apps, or a rebirth of blogging. Is it doubling down on Facebook and the Apple Store and other “safe” walled-garden platforms?