I can’t stop thinking about this guy.
He’s dead now, this guy.

From news.com.au: 'Doomed ... The man struggles to keep his head above water as he is buffetted by the currents. His body was found a kilometre away / Hellmut Issels'

Look at him, so calm, amidst the fury. But the water looks so clean, doesn’t it? So much like the pure salt surf that I’ve always loved. Who was he? Did he make his living from the sea, there in Phuket? Was he a dive instructor, or a bartender? Did he rent umbrellas and chairs on the beach? Was he a tourist himself, from somewhere else entirely?
He looks so calm.
I’ve always had a relationship with water. My brother died in the water, and I spent all the years after that, in my subarctic hometown, snorkeling back and forth in that same water from a couple of weeks after the ice broke up until well after the leaves had all fallen. Looking for something.
I almost froze to death, on purpose, naked out on the ice of that same lake in the snow, one stupid teenage New Year’s Eve long ago after I’d fought with my girlfriend, who I thought I loved enough to die for.
I’ve always been drawn into the water, in the sea, wherever I’ve been, from Wales to Fiji, when the waves were big. Stood there, always, pounding my chest, literally, and shouting into the teeth of it. Challenging it. You can’t kill me, I was saying, every time. I love you, you can’t kill me. Your power is my plaything.
Maybe this guy felt the same way, as he rode the chaos, as the tsunami washed him over the pool, across the grass, into the focus of some tourist’s camera. Confident, exhiliarated.
But he died.
Him and what, today? 60,000 80,000 120,000 150,000 other people.
Words are.
Update : Apparently, he’s alive![login:vanitas password:vain]
Mike Diack gives us more information inside. Thanks, Mike! It’s silly, but somehow this guy became iconic for me of the whole incomprehensible tragedy. Holy sh-t. He’s alive.

Maxell XLII

This stopped me in my tracks this evening, while a flood of rock and roll memories washed over me.
This :


I wonder if the sight of that piece of molded plastic ramps up in you the same welter of blurry, beery, hormonal reminiscences that it does in me. If you’re pushing 40, and rocked out with your [insert gender-appropriate appendage here] out, and spent long nights at the stereo making offerings, making entertainment for your friends and lovers, thrilled by the fact that you could actually tear songs from those big black frisbees and rearrange them any way you wanted, if you spent weeks and months, years of your life swapping one Maxell after another into the cassette player of your patient buddy’s Datsun F10, wiping off the rye you’d spilled, dropping your Player’s Light on the carpet again, waiting for the hiss that marked the end of the leader and knowing to the 10th of a second when the first kerrang of that fuckin’ kickass tune dude was going to swoop down and tweak your heart, if you remember that one night with a thermos full of vodka and pink lemonade as the snow fell like magic out of a sky that was so close and black and solid that you felt like the air was getting squeezed out of you, wearing red and white Santa gloves in the back seat of that big black fast ’65 Barracuda with the first girl you’d ever really loved, the girl you still hadn’t gotten up the nerve to tell, being tossed laughing to and fro as the car whipped around corners slick and roaring, if you remember shit like that now, then you know how I feel tonight.

Thanks to project c-90, via Mefi.

Blogger Whores fcuk Off

I thought I’d offer a balanced, reasonable perspective on this whole whoreblogger phenomenon that was so shocking a couple of years ago (remember that Raging Cow cockbucketry?) but is now barely a radar pinger.
Instead, here’s this.
With apologies, of course, to the Dead Kennedys.

Blog ain’t no damn focus group
Blog means thinking for yourself
You ain’t Zeldman with your css
When a shill still lives on your front page
Blogger whores
Blogger whores
Blogger whores f–k off!
Blogger whores
Blogger whores
Blogger whores f–k off!
If you blog to sell, get outa here
You ain’t no better than the journos
We ain’t trying to be media
When you ape that crap it ain’t democracy
[Repeat chorus]
Ten blogs praise war, what a man
You link each other, the advertiser wins
Stab your backs when the cash means all
Trash wonderchicken if you’ve got real balls
You still think banner ads look cool
The real sellouts run your schools
They’re bloggers, journalists and geeks
In a real blog putsch you’ll be the first to go
[Repeat chorus]
You’ll be the first to go
You’ll be the first to go
You’ll be the first to go
Unless you think

[If you actually are a whoreblogger, well, don’t take it personal, mmkay? Whores is folks, too.]
[Update] I had some more to say on this, over at AKMA‘s, to wit (or witless, as the case may be):

My objections to the idea — not so much my attacks on individuals concerned, which, I hope, are clearly just over-the-top screeds intended as much to entertain as anything else — are rooted in anger and contempt at the continuing Monetarization of Nearly Everything (with apologies to Tom Coates).
I am aware of the tightrope to be walked when talking about this kind of thing: it has become common received wisdom (which I trust less and less in these times) that those who argue that applying monetary value to something has the consequence of immediately robbing it of all real value are foolish hippies and incompetent idealists. It is de rigeur to ridicule them — of course they are laughable loons! How counter to the deepest streams of our culture the idea that money is anything but the highest measure of worth, or that adding value is not necessary the same as adding worth.
But I’m a great one for lost causes and tilting at ethical windmills.
It doesn’t bother me if someone makes the decision to use their web space to sell crap. They want to hawk Amway out of their apartment, that’s fine. They go and slap vinyl ads on their car, or tattoo the McDonalds logo on their childrens’ foreheads, well that’s their prerogative. Go nuts, I say.
But in the process of doing so, they haven’t lost my trust (which I may or may not have had reason to extend, at some earlier point) so much as diminished the possibility that we may ever agree in any significant way about the fundamental questions of value and of the good which dominate the way I attempt to live my life.
Which, in effect, may mean that the possibility of me respecting them for what they do (as well as, possibly, what they say) has leaked away. Not that they should really give a damn, but there it is.
Of course, all that is pretty much the extremity of the matter, which is where I tend to hang out, it must be said. In the case of Chris Locke, for example, I know that he’s been to the edge of the abyss, financially, and I don’t begrudge him his naked grab for a few shillings from whatever corporate scum he can shake down, and more power to him.
Less well do I know the circumstances of anyone else who deliberately whores out their personality for dollars — because, when in comes down to it, most of the currency of the blogoblogland minted until recently has issued from the forges of personality and talent, which has been fine and right — and I don’t begrudge them doing so, honestly.
[Hell, I put up a tip jar 6 months back or so, begging for a few bucks to pay for my next year’s hosting. Almost entirely killed my desire to keep doing this, though, that did, much as I appreciated the generosity of so many.]
But I do think that what money touches, money turns to sh-t. That may not operate on the level of individuals, or it may. I don’t know, and it’s almost certainly the case that no-one does. But I do think that to monetarize something is to lose sight of the true value of that thing.
So I’m waiting for the next Great Leap Forward I guess, me and Billy Bragg, marching off into obscurity, secure in the knowledge as we become irrelevant that at least we stuck to our guns.
On the other hand, I may just start blogging for dollars next week. I need the damned money.