I resisted linking to any form of social media until about six months ago; I had no desire to forge links with strangers in the Internet world. In fact, I had no desire to forge links with people I know.
I was adamant: I wanted to be alone in my studio, alone at my keyboard, oblivious to what others were thinking and doing. Plus, the few times I toured another person’s Facebook page, I quickly grew tired of tissue-thin memes, photos of animals and inane inspirational videos.
Not for me, I thought.
Now, Facebook has me by the balls.
Considering that I’m old, and gravity has worked its dark magic on my balls, that’s saying something.
All the credit in the world to Facebook for an ugly job well done.
BFD and GB worked diligently for a long time to convince me I needed to surf the net wave in order to get my work “out there” in an I’m-up-to-date, I-own-a-computer, I’m groovy-and-online sort of way.
So, I signed up at Facebook.
I haven’t indulged Twitter or Instagram to this point, since I can’t figure out how to use my phone but, after being put on probation by the powers that be at Facebook for a series of transgressions, I’ve managed to collect a gaggle of more than 800 “friends.”
Call me “Mr. Social Media,” or, if you prefer, “Mr. Droopy Balls Social Media.” I am dog paddling in the deep end of the Intertube pool, without my floaties.
I now do business nearly every day on Facebook, “liking” stuff that looks interesting — posts from folks who appear to inhabit a world somewhat similar to mine. I spend an obscene amount of time on Facebook and I am connected to many people seemingly of like mind and interests: artists and writers, and a motley group of folks trapped, like me, here in Siberia With a View.
I am also privy to insider accounts of some of the most sensational and important events taking place on this shrinking globe of ours.
Some of my fave “friends” live in other countries and they communicate in their native languages. Thus, I daily receive Facebook posts in French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Shtokavian and Chinese.
My out-of-country “friends” often post exceptional photos, but what interests me most is what they write.
I am, at present, locked on to posts from “friends” in two places: Italy and China.
Battles are raging in both countries, battles meaningful to all involved, critical conflicts that will determine their futures.
In China, it’s Hong Kong.
Pro-democracy protests and riots.
Things teetering on the edge.
Beijing and its Hong Kong lickspittles are opposed by students, ordinary citizens; demonstrations and clashes have taken place in the streets.
The Chinese government is confronted by a dilemma and what the leadership chooses to do could result in shattering consequences. Crack down ruthlessly and Hong Kong takes an economic nosedive with the desertion of Western business. Give in, grant too many concessions to demonstrators and send an undesirable message to the mainland, possibly encouraging insurrection elsewhere. Insurrection when one reckons with a billion or so people with burrs under their saddles is an unpalatable prospect.
In Italy, the battle is equally gripping. It concerns pizza. From the tenor of the Facebook traffic, this is every bit as important as the political demonstrations a world away.
I try to get a handle on the problems up close and personal. I am aided in this pursuit by a translator — a guy named Bing. Bing Crosby is dead, so it seems Der Bingle inspired someone to name their kid after him. That kid grew up bearing the crooner’s tag, took an online language course and found part-time work as a translator.
It’s thanks to Bing (and whatever drugs he’s taking) that I get a sense of what’s happening out there. The world, filtered through Bing, is a distressing place.
Concerning Hong Kong, I could opt to go to the major news organizations for updates, but I want info from the streets, feedback from citizens of the crowded and mighty city. So, instead of CNN, the New York Times or the Guardian, I go to my “friend,” Sonia Kwok.
I first “friended” Sonia a couple of months ago and for a while she sent a regular stream of posts from Paris, where she was vacationing. She shared photos of herself posing at historic sites, wearing snappy outfits, a pair of well-worn Mary Janes and nifty little hats.
Once back in Hong Kong and in the midst of growing turmoil, Sonia ditched her banter about the ambience in the Marais for hardcore, in-the-thick-of-it reportage.
Want to know what’s happening on the streets? Fasten your seatbelt and check out this series of missives from Sonia, as sifted by Bing.
“’Real-time abstract’ want to leave (Conner), Scottish independence, is a false issue.
First of all, the initiative independent national party leader Meng Sha, is a yokel blow water and glue one on the left, for decades, this was no record of a remarkable career. No exports of Scotland. (Big Ben and Parliament).”
Yep, there’s trouble brewing, for sure. You can smell the fear sweat and tear gas as you read this post.
As the melee in the Hong Kong streets worsens, I get this message: “A businessman Huang Youjia say mutt!
“Was led by the power Li, Member of the party of brainwashing, still dare to say stupid things quack cheerleader!”
All I can think is: For crying out loud, Sonia, seek safe haven! Grab your hats, my little flower, put on your battered Mary Janes and jet to Singapore while you have the chance!
With the situation growing more dire, Kwok sends me this distressing dispatch: “Tsui early were you doing it!
“Huang friendship Standing Committee of the national people’s Congress, who is to say a bunch of stupid!
“What is Fan Min organic brake Chief Executive?
“If not only for political reform, and nothing against Central and so on. … Against what political reforms are incomplete in order to …
“If political reform justice, enlightened, rational, human rights and so on.”
My god, even at this great distance, thanks to Facebook and Bing, Kwok’s peril is obvious and alarming. After reading this post, I lie awake at night worrying about Sonia and her valiant comrades. And, of course, about the Huang friendship Standing Committee.
Then, this arrives: “Today the only remaining ugly body Ke, wind and rain to hold free! Lives only near helpless throw, confident can change the future, asked who would do … 689 openly to the public of Hong Kong fight! Have successfully Hong Kong destroyed years of police community trust! 689 Hong Kong sinking! Scare away foreign investment! Who supports the present evil regime and his own sinking myself!”
Dear lord! Thanks to Bing, I understand the danger. I ponder a call to Cody, the local meth dealer, to arrange for delivery of the several grams needed to keep me awake 48 hours or more, glued to my computer screen.
Then, before I can seal the deal with Cody, no more Kwokscripts, no more posts from my brave little pal in Hong Kong.
I see the Kwokster in my mind’s eye: short, smiling broadly, extra-large dark glasses, stylish little chapeau. There she is, not long ago: a happy, free woman in Paris and, now …
If it weren’t for the incredible conflict and stress occurring in Italy, I would be totally obsessed with the sudden disappearance of Kwok’s missives from Hong Kong, depressed by my fear she is the only prisoner in the holding cell who is wearing Mary Janes and a hat with a puffy ball on the top.
The Italian problem is bigger than the conflict in Hong Kong, if I read the Facebook posts correctly.
Bing brings the crisis to my door crystal clear, vivid, crackling with the distress my Italian “friends” are experiencing.
In short: There’s a pizza war brewing and it is quickly growing ugly. North versus south, traditional versus new wave — violent tides of emotion surge back and forth and it’s anyone’s guess how the cards will fall.
Or what cheap metaphors will follow.
The posts arrive like flies to a carcass.
The posts are fired off by Lorenzo (and his beautiful, Fellini-esque girlfriend, Claudia), and by Roberto, Ivana, Edigio, Glada, Chiara, Giovanni, Pasquale, Leonardo, Tommaso, Paola, Andrea, Matteo. It seems every luminary in the nation’s youthful foodie blogger/writer/photographer community is involved, each passionate, each clear in their position, all ready to do battle.
You need only read several of the Bingified messages to get the drift and to recognize the gravity of the situation.
I am transfixed, thanks to Bing and a hit or three off the vape (135 degrees).
“The pizza is Naples, heaven and hell, lower peninsula and quietness, simplicity and complexity, the whole thing is nothing of a city unique in the world, a single dish that has conquered the world and all that you touch.”
Well, that’s obvious.
No wonder the southern Italian bloggers are up in arms. That anyone would suggest that pizza was created anywhere but Naples is flat-out fucking nuts!
Conquered the world? You bet. My world, anyway. I call Pizza Hut and they promise a delivery within 30 minutes. I eat and monitor the crisis at the same time.
“Silvia Portentous you’re right: I was so taken with “rompervi” for the equipment that I didn’t want to be pushy! Next face servo you first of all: thanks again for supporting.”
Who hasn’t been distracted by rompervi for the equipment at least once in their life? After liking the post, I add a comment to the effect that forgiveness is noble, especially when tendered in the midst of heated combat. I am not sure how Bing handles it, since I don’t get a response.
Then, the argument abroad grows more heated.
“I might know things that now I do not know, but it doesn’t excuse now, estimates merged in an hour.
“But so what?
“Don’t pretend mica the aurora.
“I would return to school by repeating also Say This sentence is like saying: ‘nothing.’”
I immediately shoot off a comment for Bing to translate and transmit: “Look, the questions of who first made pizza, whose pizza is best, whether tradition concerning the revered pie can be jettisoned … all are crucial. But, for god’s sake, people, don’t pretend mica the aurora. Not at a moment like this! This is, indeed, like saying “nothing.” Keep the conflict civil!”
I receive this post not five minutes later.
“There are those who goes away with his tail between his legs and who art cuisine: ladies and gentlemen here is his Majesty (as tradition, strictly on Thursday) (meat in a tomato sauce).”
A brilliant defense of tradition.
Strictly on Thursday.
My congratulations to the author.
But, how will it be countered?
I’m on the edge of my seat, waiting for a comment. And it arrives.
“To read it, so it might seem that I refer to your body but I was referring to the brain. “You’re funny, original and think you’re innovating communication of food in Naples with your personality bomb, with your little take seriously.”
Pretty tense, eh?
But, hold on, the give-and-take amps up to bone-breaking levels!
“Always calls into black holes without chat line, beautiful and a mutual esteem, and yesterday I and Catalan DitestaediGola per MarennaMob we break everything.”
And, if that’s not severe enough, I read this post: “All retainers! The promo for the next episode of Reports on Rai Tre, covering dirty ovens pizza burned and fumes of various kinds, is generating a wave of panic among insiders and pizzerias from consciousness doesn’t exactly linda and pinta. To understand more, we asked the most famous pizza, Gino Sorbillo, that in tomorrow’s video will be among the protagonists. What advances will give us?”
Not only does this post fortify a strong point by adding a reference to two of Columbus’ ships (you remember them — the Linda, the Pinta and the Santa Maria), but it hammers the point home by pointing to Gino Sorbillo, the most famous pizza. With that, you’d think we’d reached a climax.
“The entire Naples to speak of the attack Report northerner Neapolitan pizza. All week to complain. But way I verè who ‘to lever’ per game pe verè what the fuck have mounted ad hoc to sink an industry that sees no crisis.”
Well said, indeed.
I eagerly check my Facebook home page hourly to read the latest broadsides in this furious Bingafied give-and-take, this dialogue that will set the course for Italian cuisine for generations to come.
With Kwok and my Italian “friends” generating Facebook electricity, everything else in my social media universe seems pretty dull.
There’s a shitload of Facebook chatter among my artist and art world “friends,” a great deal of it pompous word salad and precious MFA blather. There are a couple of “noted critics” who take too-easy delight in putting firecrackers up the asses of academics and eager artistes, lacking, I suppose, anything better to do with their few remaining hours and days.
But, lacking the immediacy of a life-and-death conflict, without the existential gravity of what is happening in Hong Kong and Naples, the artsy drivel is watery fare.
Nowhere in the Facebook gruel cooked by ego-driven artistes is there a passion that equals that of the tiny but mighty Kwok or the doomed, romantic Lorenzo and his clumsily tattooed lover.
None of the art chatter possesses the clarity of a Bing-driven translation.
So, for the time being, my social networking will focus on big ideas, big issues and I will live in accord with a motto delivered by my “friend” Edigio.
“Pretty much a mythological being half egg, a quarter and a fourth man beard. One who goes around with a camper full of beautiful made for cooking on the street. One that if poorly seemed to prepare things millemila kilos of carbonara under the stars.”
You can say that again, Edigio.
Thank you, my “friend.”
Mr. Droopy Balls Social Media