At Last, by Popular Demand

Well, here it is – Tom Collins’ blog.

I now officially owe my old business partner from San Francisco dinner at a five-star restaurant in Tuscany, my cousin in Manhattan a case of Dom Perignon, and my private secretary a week off with pay in Martinique with seaside rooms for two.  Yes, because those are the things I bet them that I would never, ever, in my entire life, under any circumstances, start a Web log.

Not that plenty of people haven’t told me, and for quite some time, that I should have a blog.  “Start a blog, Tom,” they would say over cocktails at 1789, during intermission at the Kennedy Center, or when the blather about Iraq died down at a State Department soiree – “the public needs your ideas,” “if what you just said appeared on the Internet, it would change history;” or, my favorite, repeated in various paraphrases until it haunted me in my sleep – “look at all those stupid, narcissistic crackpots blogging on the Web, beating their breasts like demented gorillas, yelling at the top of their lungs to the torpid, semi-literate, confused and unwashed, the lumpen masses with their eyeballs glued to hypertext in a postmodern, existential, digital trance: ‘Listen to me!  I have the answer!’ all while, you, Tom Collins, sit in your posh office overlooking Constitution Avenue, in possession of the real answers, and you won’t write a single, solitary word.”  Exactly; I would say – it’s all hairy primates howling for the attention of the great unwashed – and rest my case.

Oh sure, I have due respect for the Web sites that were there years before either the mindless beasts or the world’s greatest-ever collection of bozos and suckers showed up to feast on the Internet (and each other).  I recognize those truly great, seminal Web log sites like the Well, Slashdot, Plastic, Boing-Boing, and so forth.  They were blogs long before the word “blog” was invented, and they were – and are – excellent.   They were also Web sites before the phrase “Web site” was a magic phrase that made allegedly rational business people bend over and grease their hind parts, begging, like the board of Time Warner did, to get in on the “dot-com boom.”

No, the true “blog” phenomenon followed the big dot-com boom and bigger dot-com bust.  The blog manifested itself after the snake oil salesmen had moved on to fleece other marks of their life savings by means other than investment in and the like.  The rise of the blog fits right in between the dot-bust and the rise of YouTube; and, with that recent ascendancy, the ready availability of sophomoric videos made by real sophomores, psychopathic videos made by certifiable psychopaths, voyeuristic videos made by genuine voyeurs, sycophantic videos made by bona-fide sycophants and idiotic videos made by actual idiots.  Yes, YouTube is a phenomenon which, truth be told, has more or less eclipsed the blogosphere’s own impressive collection of sophomores, psychopaths, voyeurs, sycophants and idiots, at least for the moment.  I mean, really, show me a blog that Google bought for more than a billion dollars.

But nevertheless, I finally gave in.  The technology director at a large Internet company headquartered in Reston, Virginia, rang my cell phone while I was getting shiatsu on Capitol Hill and made an offer I could not refuse.

Tech Director: Tom, this is it.  You are going to start blogging tomorrow.
Tom Collins: ROFLMAO.  Can we talk later?   I’m getting some shiatsu right now, OK?
Tech Director: You’re… into dogs?
Tom Collins: It’s a form of massage!  See – that’s why I’m not going to blog – because people who blog think shiatsu is a Tibetan mutt!
Tech Director: Tom, you have to!  Look at that unfathomable multitude of stomach-churning, gorge-raising self-abusing morons out there – God Almighty, man, it’s a vast wasteland of bellowing Neanderthals – all of them spouting inconsequential trivia, screaming solipsistic rants and ululating pure, undiluted nonsense to pathetic hordes of benighted, ignorant bohunks; murdering prose, prostituting logic, betraying culture, history and technology, while you sit in your posh office overlooking Constitution Avenue…
Tom Collins: Been there, heard that.  And I think you owe the Neanderthals an apology.
Tech Director: SMHID!  Will you lighten up, Tom?
Tom Collins: Damn it, Bernie, not that the department stores in the typical faux-Frank Lloyd Wright-atrium-studded suburban mall have department store windows, but I think people who blog are the kind of people who fornicate in department store windows!
Tech Director: Fortune 500 executives have blogs!  Religious and political leaders have blogs!  Professional athletes have blogs!  Pundits have blogs!  Pop musicians have blogs!  Hollywood actors have blogs!
Tom Collins: Exactly.  I rest my case.
Tech Director: ISAGN, dude!  The public needs you.  Cyberspace needs you.  My friends and family need you.  I need you.  We all need your insights, your analysis, your opinions, and the story of what you did today!  Give it a try, as a personal favor to me!  I’ve taken a big slice out of my departmental discretionary funds and started a project to set up a complete, turn-key blog operation, just for you!   We email you a URL, an access string and a password, then you start writing.  We’ll make it so simple, even Jack Cafferty could do it!
Tom Collins: Come on, Bernie, you don’t have to go that far.
Tech Director: I insist.  Getting you blogging on the Web is the best public service I or my employer could do in 2006.

So what can I say?  Given that 2006 is virtually over with, I have to admit that I’m flattered.  I’m also in hock for a case of expensive bubbly and a fancy Italian dinner, plus I’ll have to take care of myself for a week while my secretary’s in the Caribbean, but I figure “populus orator per Bernie.”  And now that the people have spoken, I promise that just as soon as Tom Collins thinks of something to say, he will be back to put every word of it in Tom Collins’ World Wide Web Log for everyone on the Internet to read, for better or worse, come hell or high water, pigs with wings slapping me high fives or Jesus Christ on a crutch slapping me upside the head.