AW, HOW CUTE – OLD PEOPLE USING FACEBOOK.
That may not be exactly what my daughter said to me one time, but something pretty close. Whatever it was, she said it with a big smile. Teasing is allowed by my progeny, sarcasm and irony are tolerated (if not encouraged). Such pithy observations/jabs are usually loaded with truth, so I value them.
It came to mind recently when I had a couple of “Facebook moments,” from interesting to startling. So I considered again, was I experiencing Facebook, hereafter referred to as FB, differently than Millennials, or the even younger Z Generation? (What a horribly banal moniker!)
I’ve been going through some old boxes full of mostly crap, many scraps of paper, but with treasures mixed in. Going piece by piece, one big box can take hours, offering disgust and resolve to mend my accumulating ways, mixed with the great fun of rediscovery and cool stuff. I probably won’t change, just get more efficient.
I came across a handful of Movieline magazines, where I spent a brief part of my advertising rep pseudo-career in the mid-’80s. Not nearly so successful as the two and a half years I handled club advertising for the LA Weekly, hereafter referred to as the Weakly, which was intense and competitive with very long hours but also pretty rocknroll fun, extreme and sometimes bizarre. Several of my clients, club owners, wound up in prison, one for murder. But that’s another column.
Movieline, post-Weakly, was not my thing and I was not very happy, enthused or successful. But as I perused an old issue I found the staff box and there was a name, an unusual name, and I wondered, whatever happened to old what’s-her-name? Let’s call her Marlene van der Hosen.
I remembered I worked with Marlene first at the Weakly. Selling ads for top publications can be very well paying, and a couple of my co-workers from the early ’80s are still in the biz. To this day most ad reps are women, for whatever reasons, but it’s true. It’s very competitive to land one of the lucrative territories, so when Marlene was announced as the new sales rep, tall and thin, strikingly cute, high cheekbones, very young and looking like she just stepped out of a Wilhelmina limo but lacking much other qualifying experience, hackles were raised.
As I recall she did well but drifted off to something else, probably because her ad clientele were constantly offering to hire her for better jobs. Then a while later when I wound up at Movieline, in marched Marlene, with a bit more resume, but a similar reaction from the distaff staff.
I truly hadn’t thought of her since then, but when I saw the name I mused, whatever became of … Now, the instant follow-up for some of us FB junkies is, “I’ll look for her page! With a name like that, unless she’s been married five times (quite possible), I just might find her.”
Sure enough I did, and you may say so what, but think about it, you folk older than a Millennial: even ten years ago, the next move would have been, I can hire a private investigator … or just forget it. Now, if you have 30 seconds, you may be able to satisfy your curiosity.
There’s no big story here, but interesting for me. Ad reps notoriously want nothing to do with writing or editing, yuck, that’s the necessary evil that wraps around their ads. But it turns out Marlene, now a yoga doyenne in Wisconsin, went from LA to New Mexico (where I grew up), got married, had a kid, and started writing for national publications. So we had a lot in common, turns out, going different directions. She said she’s writing her memoir now, about her Hollywood life, but has only a rough first chapter, and maybe I would take a look at it? I like editing and feel I’m good at it, I have a feeling she could write something different enough to be interesting, so I said sure. I have learned that if you say yes to projects without a lot of mulling about the money or feasibility, you have a more interesting life.
THE MASTER MUSICIAN
The other FB moment was when one of the People You May Know listings of thumbnail wanted posters they so often thrust upon you so that you may continually add to your stable of “friends” you DON’T know, included the smiling face of my actual friend Bachir Attar. I was startled. Bachir on FB? Where’s the world spinning to?
I know, the Moroccan leader of what has been called “the 4,000 year old rock and roll band” (William Burroughs) is a man of the world, lived in Manhattan for several years, was married to British photographer Cherie Nutting, has performed globally as head of the Master Musicians of Jajouka, recorded and hung out with such diverse musicians as Ornette Coleman, Bill Laswell, the Stones, Talvin Singh, Ginger Baker, Deborah Harry and the London Phil. But a few years ago he chose to return to his roots, to the traditional ways, to his compound in Jajouka in the remote reaches of the Rif Mountains (they were just completing an actual road there when I visited in 2012), where his veiled wife Fatima stays tucked away in the house, in the kitchen, churning out amazing feasts for the steady stream of visitors, and where I have a very tough time reaching him by email or phone, even though Morocco is one of the best net-wired nations there is. (Nutting handles the FB page.) You’ll see guys on their cell phones atop their camels in the Sahara as they guide their herds around.
So it just struck me like spit from a camel that I now live in a world where Bachir Attar is in the FB world. Of course! And yet… wow…
Young’ns, my daughter tells me, also search for people from their past on FB, but they have a much shorter past. My daughter and her boyfriend have Twitter accounts they rarely use. FB IMs (instant message) yes, email no. I learned that a few years ago when mentoring the school paper journalists at Samohi. Email is definitely for old people. Me, I have everything hooked into my email. But as long as I can still go a sweaty hour on the basketball court, I will never get old.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “If I can’t show it, if you can’t see me, what’s the point of doing anything?” – St. Vincent (“Digital Witness”)
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for almost 30 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. You can reach him at email@example.com.