"Come … and Do YOU!"

This is a partial quote on advice to freshman from a senior graduating from my alma mater, that I fell in love with while flipping through my latest alumni mag. The whole quote is:

“It’s easy to be pigeonholed, to fall into a role: the protester, the hipster, the low-level college bureaucrat, the rich New Yorker. Instead, come to Brown and do you.”

So very Brown! And, that’s kinda what I like about blogging. You can really be you — no editor or agent telling you some philosopher is too lofty to quote, metaphors you worked hard on are too long, an image is too disturbing and must be changed, a word a character habitually uses too esoteric, etc. — all of which may well be ‘correct’ by increasing the work’s sales potential, but nonetheless prevents you from having complete ownership of your writing voice and creative work product, you know? Here, you can create your own little space — theme, links, titles, categories — all in a way that suits you… So, there, blogging is very Brown :)

Anyway, back to the graduating senior: Mr. Elliott Walker Breece. He concentrated (the unique Brown word for “majoring”) in Modern Culture and Media (the unique Brown term for “semiotics“) — my favorite subject (wish sooo much would’ve studied it more…), and, among loads of other accomplishmens, served as editor-in-chief of a student newspaper, “African Sun,” and while in middle school (?!) founded a web development company. Now, he’s just launched a unique online music store called Amie Street. This store, which he describes as “iTunes meets American Idol meets eBay,” is geared toward selling the work of small, independent recording artists, who can download their songs and create their own profiles. Consumers can also create their own profiles in which they can make lists of their favorite music as well as recommendations of artists selling on the site. The price for each song starts out low and climbs with every new buy. Consumers who recommend songs that end up selling well actually get a percentage of the profits! What interests me so much about this is not only its novelty but that it so perfectly puts into praxis what Chris Anderson in his new book The Long Tail, which I blogged about in my last entry, says about the internet-led economy. Anderson writes that, in the “niche” (rather than “hit”)-centric internet economy, not only are artists themselves self-producing more, since the tools of production are now easily attainable, but consumers actually take a role in production as well, by spurring the sale of niche items through recommendation lists (like those on Amazon) and word-of-mouth — or, I guess, “word of blog” if you will. Breece has taken that idea to a new level by allowing consumers to reap a portion of the profits of these underground / “niche hits”. And, like Anderson’s blog-on-the-way-to-a-book, Amie Street has maintained its own blog on the way to a business. It’s very fun to find such connections! And makes me very proud to have gone to this fabulous school that produced someone with such a cool Brown way of thinking, and such a pioneer. Brown rocks!!!

On a weirder note, I don’t know what it is with me and book stores, but I honestly don’t know whether I unwittingly took part in some kind of social experiment this weekend or if this guy was actually hitting on me. Now that both ABT and NYCB are off season, I found myself planless on Saturday night, so, not wanting to sit home, decided to visit the book store. I find books can be great company. I was browsing the discounts, trying to decide whether $7.95 was too much to pay for a copy of Anais Nin‘s Delta of Venus, when suddenly this guy walked up.

“I want to compliment you on your color choice,” he said.

I looked up at him; he seemed totally serious. I looked down at my dress. I was wearing this very basic black rayon sundress — absolutely nothing special, no interesting accessories, nothing.

“Huh?” I said.

“I noticed you’re wearing all black,” he continued, “and black is a very good color for you, it suits you well, brings out your highlights.”

I have brown hair, with no highlights; I had no idea what he was talking about.

Then he laughed and said, “Obviously, I’m not really complimenting you on your wardrobe, I’m just using it as an excuse to meet you.” He extended his hand and said his name was Andrew. I wasn’t at all into him, but wanted to be polite so shook his hand, said my name, then quickly looked back down at my book.

“I often come here and get ideas of things I want to buy,” he said, “then go to the library and just check them out.” I kept my gaze on the book. “Do you do that?” he asked.

I harrumphed and looked up at him. “No, I just buy them,” I said curtly, returning to the book.

“Doesn’t that get expensive?” he said.

“I guess,” I said, shrugging, still looking down.

Then, he went into this huge story (I actually remember this conversation word for word because it was so odd): “Speaking of expensive, I went to the store today for some cargo pants. I tried on two pairs. One had a bunch of little pockets, all down the leg, like ten of them, or maybe eight, on each leg. And they were cool. But I didn’t really like them. Too much noise. This other pair was plain but made of really really cool material. I don’t know what type of material it was, but it was cool. I really liked them. Then I saw the price tag. $160. I mean, would you pay that for a pair of cargo pants?”

I must have had a deer-in-the-headlights look on my face because a guy passing behind him just then did a double-take at me. “Would you pay that? Don’t you think that’s expensive?” Andrew repeated.

“I don’t know,” I mumbled, looking back to Nin. How obvious could I be?

Then, he actually bent over, peered around the book cover and said rather loudly, “What did you do today?”

Knowing I wasn’t going to get rid of him, I said I had to go and put Delta back on the shelf.

“Oh, are you trying to keep it light?” he asked, reaching out and actually touching my sleeve. I didn’t even know what he meant. I just said goodbye and started walking away. He walked behind me asking again if I was “trying to keep it light?”

All the way home, I kept looking behind me to make sure he wasn’t following me, and I even walked into a deli to ‘wait it out’ for a while. I looked in my bag worried he may have had a buddy trying to scrounge around for my wallet behind me while he distracted me, then realized that was completely paranoid since we were in a bookstore, not at some crowded tourist attraction. When I thought it over later at home, I felt badly for not being more receptive to meeting someone, but I guess when I’m in a bookstore, I’m really in my own world, or rather the world of the author whose book I’m contemplating, that some guy trying to get to know me is a real annoyance. If bookstores are the new pick-up joints, maybe that’s safer than a bar, but I don’t know if it works for me…

2 Comments

  1. Just think of it as your instincts kicking in. He was way too aggressive in coming on to you and didn’t respect your space. You will be open and receptive to the right one.

  2. hey tonya, he did sound a little pushy, nice for the ego though.

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