Mediabistro calls itself "a portal for media people and other content professionals." It now does other things -- for a profit -- but it began with the simple, unassailable idea of getting media types together monthly for drinks. When I said I was going to the group's latest event, media friends insisted I do some ax work. I nodded but thought, No, I hold no venom toward the fabled shallowness of media parties. Besides, these events may be slick, but it's glib to complain about this, and glib is slick's glib cousin.
I thought that and more as the swarthy little shoeshine boy gave my Florsheims a fine patina. Is it "impolite" to look at a person and see nothing but degrees of professional opportunity? Is it "rude" to look over someone's shoulder throughout a conversation, then wipe your nose on his sleeve as you leave? (This sort of brainstorming -- the kind that got me my 401K and stunning stock option plan -- erupts spontaneously in my fertile mind before cocktail parties; when I think of all the networking I'll be doing, something magical just happens, as my agent says.)
"Welcome," the Mediabistro hostess said after my chauffeur had dropped me off. "We were hoping you'd come."
"Yes," I said.
I was thinking about money and prestige. I was thinking they were important and good. Surveying the scene, I made my way to the bar, which I briefly considered buying and selling. All around me, young and old people in fine haircuts spoke to one another. Pants were tight, and skirts were tight -- and back to the pants, they sometimes flared out near the shoes. If attractiveness were food, we would all be covered in food.
"I've started a portal," a woman said to me. She had a weak drink in her hand, and the look on her face told me she was thinking about burn rate.
"I eat portals for breakfast," I told her, with a wave of my hand. It was a lie -- often I don't eat breakfast at all -- but she bought it, and I stepped past her toward the restroom.
On the way I launched three start-ups. Two of the three were doing quite well by the time I had washed my hands, and I gaily tossed the elderly bathroom attendant two nickels on my way out.
"Thank you, sir," he said.
I returned to the bar area anxious to meet people who might say things about the media. Would I learn of a new Web site where I might enjoy spending time? I asked myself. But my contemplation was interrupted by a young man in contemporary jeans and wearing a ponytail.
"Who are you?" I said to the intrepid fellow.
"I'm Gus," he said.
I waited for him to tell me something of interest.
"I just graduated from Swarthmore," he continued. "I'm trying to break into media somehow. To be honest, I'm sort of new at this."
I spat on him for wasting my time and made my way to the gorgeous oak bar, where several successful people were sipping wine successfully. It was nice to see them enjoying themselves, and I recalled my own successes. A mediocre beekeeper at best, I'd decided to crack open the inviting oyster that was the nascent world of new media, and eat the sweet pearl within.
So I did. It was slow, difficult work, but three painful weeks later, I was the proud owner of a popular online pencil store, my own mattress and several million dollars stuffed underneath.
"You have a singular, dreamy expression on your chiseled face," I heard a voice say, and I was roused from my nostalgia. The voice belonged to a voluptuous woman of flaxen hair, and it spoke further: "It's incredible to find myself face to face with you at this fine media party."
"Are you a lady of the night?" I asked.
She slapped me and said something I couldn't understand, because I was wondering what the future of media was and whether content was king. By the time I was again aware of this bewitching enchantress, she was making love to me in a converted loft, with her exposed wiring stretched sensuously close to her exposed brick. Outside on the street, poor people were chanting something about rent, and their sincere cries lent to the ambience.
"Do ... you ... like ... gentrification?" I asked intelligently, albeit breathlessly.
"Yes," she breathed. "You too?"
We finished and the card I gave her was one of the new ones I'd just had printed, with a blue background instead of white, and it felt good to let myself free-fall into sentimentality.
I ran all the way back to the party, at the end of the block, and arrived just in time for the handing out of cigars.
"Was an infant baby born into the world?" I asked.
"It's not a real cigar," the hostess explained.
"What is it?" I asked. "The new media?"
"No," she said. "It's money, rolled up in the shape of a cigar."
I looked closer and saw that she was correct. As the other guests lit up, I went over to the bar and handed the bartender my money cigar.
"Your finest brandy," I said to the handsome woman wiping glasses.
But in that very moment, the new economy went south and I watched my stogie unravel and blow off the counter. When I turned around I discovered even greater chaos.
Through flying papers and running bodies, I saw our hostess shaking in the corner, knees to her chin and a financial sheet indifferent at her feet. Others in the bar were crying and shaking, too. A small fire had broken out near the busboy, and a wild-eyed woman was hysterically trying to profit from it somehow. Nearby, some undomesticated cats had gained entrance and were swiping at each other unplayfully.
"Things have gone wrong," I said to anyone who could hear. "Very wrong."
From the pandemonium emerged Gus, of Swarthmore.
"Jump on my back -- I'll carry you to safety," he shouted over the din.
For an eternity we stared into each other's dark, wet eyes. "Could it be, a hero in this day and age?" I asked myself. "Unable to consider his own safety, only that of a stranger ... and an unkind one at that?"
My instincts told me to destroy the vulgar naif, but I valiantly subdued them, and climbed on the young man's back. Toward the door we went, stepping over bodies and dodging tasteful dot-com merchandise such as pens and amusing T-shirts.
"Out of the way, cats!" I cried, and we were almost out the door when the fire near the busboy flew to Gus' muscular leg. Down he went, and I leapt to safety. I did not have the time nor the inclination to save poor Gus, but on my way out of the bar, and then waiting for car service back to my apartment (hdwd flrs, grge), I planned the perfect online tribute to that great, noble soul. Not only will this tribute restore the good name of new media everywhere, but it will ensure future media parties and honor the memory of old Gus, who probably always wanted to see me buy a second home in Silicon Valley.