Tag Archives: los angeles

facemash becomes facebook becomes friendship matchmaking

facebook was originally a term given to the student directories that certain schools gave out to make remembering the name of the cute dude in calculus easier.  harvard, where mark zuckerberg attended, didn’t have a facebook but several of the fraternities and sororities had their own individual facebooks.

mark had a little fun by hacking into the databases for these facebooks and creating “facemash” — an online game of “hot or not” in which players rated side by side pictures of their classmates. the game attracted 450 players and 22,000 views in the first four hours. mark got into some trouble and was nearly expelled but then he decided that “facemash” had tapped into some primal needs for connection and for looking at cute potentials. facemash didn’t ask players to rate pictures of adorable kittens, inspirational thoughts, or team logos–all of which have been or are presently used by some of my facebook friends!

mark played around with other similar applications, eventually hitting on what we now use as facebook.  facebook sometimes makes us believe we have a rich and varied social life when we really haven’t even gotten out of bed all day.  and facebook sometimes brings people together who wouldn’t normally interact.  one of the surprises of my new years resolution to meet my facebook friends was discovering how different and yet how similar i am to my friends.

this past week i went to los angeles with two chaperones reggie gholston and vincent peters.  i sometimes take chaperones because it’s a good safety measure.

i also took these chaperones because reggie (on the left) is being deployed to afghanistan in a few weeks. he will be gone for a year and my “care” packages will include smokes, toilet paper, and food. both vince and reggie are my facebook friends, but they are more than that. they are my buddies.

one of the facebook friends i wanted to meet was #324 brandon day.  he is a twentysomething genius who ran into a bit of trouble a few years ago when he experienced full on agoraphobia.  it was difficult for him to explain to his family and friends what he was going through–panic attacks that made it impossible for him to get beyond the front door.  i think with facebook people can connect and relate their common experiences and they don’t feel so alone or so weird.

and that’s an even more important application of mark zuckerberg’s genius than offering the world the opportunity to rate their fellow humans hot or not.

brandon’s genius is in the creation of phone apps, video games and whatnot.  through the magic of facebook i am friends with sarah, whom i visited in detroit.  she is agoraphobic.  and she wants very much to create video games, which she oughta be real good at because video games is how she gets through her day.  i introduced the two of them via facebook and when i met brandon we had a message for her.

brandon is working on a phone application and website to help agoraphobics like sarah and our fondest wish is that the three of us will be together for lunch in los angeles, detroit, chicago, london, paris, rome?

meanwhile, on the other coast, last night i received a message from facebook friend michele piersiak.  she lives in staten island and has had trouble leaving the house for a year.  i visited her and she felt i was “safe” to walk around the neighborhood with.  we talked about major goals–hers is to become a psychologist who helps people with social anxieties.  and then we talked about minor goals.  i think of minor goals as the things that may sound silly to other people but they are building blocks for your major goal.  michele’s is to have dinner at laconde verde, a restaurant in manhattan owned by robert deniro.  there are reservations under my name for august ninth!  in order to do that, she has had to make mini-goals of walking around her neighborhood on her own, going to shops and stores, using public transportation.  just yesterday, she readied herself for the laconde verde lunch by going to lunch with facebook pal carolyn quinn.  facebook matchmaking.

you can play hot or not on facebook, but i think facebook and other social networking sites have a lot more to offer. or maybe i am just worried i’d get a “not”!

after saying goodbye to brandon, the chaperones and i headed for las vegas where we would ultimately end up with friendship tragedy.  still, if our adventure could be a moviemash it would be “driving miss daisie” and “the hangover”. . .

in the face of such beauty, get a stylist, a designer, a mirror, a screen . . . or flee to las vegas

los angeles is a place of great beauty and i’m not talking about the topanga mountains, the pacific ocean glittering at its feet, or the sun that slips into the western horizon without asking anybody to say “thank you” for its warmth.  no, no, EVERYBODY in los angeles is a great beauty and what do great beauties require?  a stylist, a designer, and some screentime.

my two chaperones reggie joe and vince p. are my facebook friends.  reggie is being deployed to afghanistan in a few weeks and my fondest wish is that he use this trip to make the acquaintance of beautiful women.  and that vince will drive him.

i walked out onto the sidewalk this morning–it was empty because sidewalks are a recent invention and los angelenos are rightfully cautious of them.  everyone lives in their cars, preferring to park them in the middle of one of the many fourteen lane highways and freeways that criss cross the city.  nonetheless, there was a real sidewalk outside the hotel and rather than drive the rental car across the street to the starbucks, i thought i would rough it.  the valet at the hotel was concerned.

there were screens everywhere.  advertisements and commercials and previews for upcoming movies on the sides of buildings.  i watched them and thought that i would never have to buy a television if i lived here.  i’d just have to look up to the sky.  i noticed that vince and reggie can’t sleep unless the television is on.  without the sound.  is this some sort of culture shift?   or am i just sleep deprived?


f2fb friend #323 jackie byrdsong is a natural ageless beauty who claims to have no stylist, no designer, just her own sense of what to do, what to wear, what is for her and what will not work.  i adored meeting her finally.  her daughter and i share some phobias and we talked about how to overcome them.

vince p. and reggie brought with them a sunglasses designer stevie boi.  stevie and i can’t be facebook friends because stevie is a public person with over three thousand people following or “liking” him.  he tweets a lot and instagrams and does all sorts of things that make me feel that having a facebook account is a bit passe.  nonetheless, he is fashion forward.  he explained to me that his sunglasses have appeared over 25 times in vogue magazine.

sunglasses by stevie boi.  can i pull off this look?

vince, reggie, stevie and i spent the rest of the afternoon meeting with stylists, designers, and people who “pull” clothes for celebrities.  you think kim kardashian just wakes up every morning looking like that?  but i got stevie boi to give me some fashion advice i can take on the road with me!

tomorrow, las vegas which i understand to be a sleepy, rural enclave where people are a lot more “real” and “down to earth”. . . i’ll feel much more at home.

there’s a phone app for everything and now there’s one for my friends!

in my little quest to meet every facebook friend i have, i sometimes come across friends who share my secret:  agoraphobia.  fear of the marketplace is the translation from Greek, but really, it’s fear of everything.

in the 1939 movie the wizard of oz, bert lahr played the cowardly lion, afraid of everything! sometimes i feel like the lion!


one of the things i will be doing in los angeles is meeting with my facebook friend brandon spellman day.  he is a video game slash computer slash programming genius and he has experienced his own moments of being a cowardly lion.  he is over that period in his life and he wants to help others who are in the thick of that fear.

he is creating a phone app that will allow agoraphobics to chart, monitor and encourage themselves to shove past boundaries.  brandon is kind enough to have me help him with it and the los angeles trip is an opportunity for us to complete that project!

yesterday i had lunch with facebook friends bonnie, tony and charles. charles is presently struggling with agoraphobia. and he’s promised to test drive the phone app.


what about you?  would you find an app like this helpful?

i look forward to meeting my facebook friend brandon!

the unexpected facebook friend

my new years resolution made on december 31, 2009 was to among other things lose five pounds.  i weighed 138.  i weighed 138 on december 31, 2010 when i made this year’s resolution to turn off the computer, get off the damn couch, and find all these 335 people who are my facebook friends.  my technology was simple:  i would make the virtual world real.

along the way this year, i’ve met some new facebook friends.  people i’ve met in person on my travels who have sent me friend requests later.  there was a comment about me at gizmodo.com and another on brazilian national television.  suddenly new friendships form and i wonder–should i visit the new friends as well?

i settled on the notion that i should meet the friends who were my friends as of december 31 last year and that if i meet other, more recent friends along the way, that would be an added bonus.  damn, i really really want to go to brazil, japan, and iceland–even as the prospect scares me silly!

tom bremer is my friend in los angeles who befriended me after he read an article about me in gizmodo.com.  he was following my adventures and noticed i was in los angeles.  he asked if he could meet me. . . . and even though everything in los angeles is three hours away from everything else, it turned out his office was just across the street from my hotel.

you can check out his work at tombremer.com — he’s an amazing animator and he was just the right person to meet before heading for a small, little known convention in san diego.  it’s called comicon and i have to meet f2fb friend #179 brian brethauer.  if i don’t make it to san diego in time to see him at the convention, i have to go to idaho where he lives.

thanks tom!  i’m really glad you contact me!  if i’m in a town where any facebook friend lives, i want to see them!