July 29, 2006

Chez BlogHer.

My conference session is over and I'm re-ensconced at my posh hotel, where I'm nibbling sushi and sipping Pouilly-Fuissé and listening to a guy bang out "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?" on the grand piano. The question for me now is do I know the way out of San Jose and what kind of meandering route home am I going to take? I came via the southern route, and I'm circling back home through the north. I've got one really excellent posh hotel stop on the way home, and I've got two national parks I intend to see by car. Yes, I'm one of those ridiculous people who love the national parks but barely -- eek, bears -- get 200 feet away from our cars.

Anyway, how was the conference session?

Well, they'll have a podcast for you in about a month. I may have a couple audio clips of myself for the next podcast. I'm deeply troubled by letting more than 7 days go by without a podcast, but some podcast fans would welcome a return to the old Sunday pattern.

But the session, the session, how was it?

Well, first of all, I was way older than the other four bloggers on the panel, old enough to be their mother. And they were all progressive/lefty/liberal, and I'm basically not. But my main theme was one you regular readers must know too well: I'm in this blogging game for the intrinsic value, for the real love of self-expression and expressive community. But the other women were into self-expression too, even if they had more focused political goals.

I have a lot of admiration for the hyper-local bloggers. Lisa Williams, who emcee'd expertly, blogs all about Watertown. Courtney Hollands is all about Plymouth, and she's fabulously excited about her town. I mean, I love Madison, and a lot of what I do is in some sense celebrating Madison and also seeking to reach out beyond Madison for some counterbalance to Madison, but I wouldn't want to just write about Madison. I almost never mention the mayor or the the city council, but I'm impressed by people who love to provide that coverage, much more than mainstream media will.

Jarah Euston is devoted to Fresno. Fresno! And she really cares. That's beautiful!

Kety Esquivel's concentrated place is not geographic but spiritual. She's progressive. And she's Christian. For her, to be Christian is to be progressive. You might feel insulted if you're a conservative Christian, but she's passionate about wanting to counterbalance the political weight you know you have.

Lindsay Beyerstein, who looks exactly like the picture on her blog, is more like me, blogging in a somewhat similar fashion, but much more politically committed. See, she's bitching about the Comtrex just like me and wants more cool gadgets. I imagine she hates to think we're alike, because, after all, I voted for Bush. I even mentioned it in the session. I think she's insulted me a couple times on her blog, but what the hell? She's a passionate, serious blogger, and I wish her well.

There were great comments from the audience, including one from a woman who impressed me terribly by saying she came up first on Google if you searched for her first name: Betsy! Wow! How about Ann? I'm sure I'm not first, but am I at least on the first page? Yes! Oh, how I love the internet. All my life, I've felt that Ann was an absurdly plain name. It's practically like not even having a name. Ann? It's like, the. An article. An Althouse. Yeah? Which one?

Just this little woman hiding out in the lobby of a posh hotel in San Jose, listening to the piano player murder "Don't Get Around Much Anymore."

24 comments:

nina said...

A wonderful summary. Very evocative of what blogging is to so many of us.

Meander on the way back! Do not rush it! Take back roads and take plenty of photos!

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Nina.

Kevin O'Keefe said...

Have a good trip home to Madison, we enjoyed the ride out.

Jim H said...

"Eek, bears"? You too?!! There must be a background; did you and Professor Camic once see a third-semester student being mauled by bears?

Jennifer said...

Enjoy your trip home. I look forward to the pictures.

I like "an Althouse". I had a friend named Gene and I could never get past "Hi Gene!". It always felt like a reminder of sorts.

Erik said...

It sounds like you have it all planned, but if your northern route has you stopping anywhere in the vicinity, consider stopping at the Albion River Inn (a bit south of Mendocino) for dinner. You won't be sorry.

Brian said...

I only started reading you this week (after years of hearing your name like an incantation) and on examination am stunned by your essential slippery nature. You should write for a big publicaztion with these ethics of yours. Sell out for a price. I've read thousands of webloggers, and you seem to be as disingenuous as any...

I don't doubt this schitck benefits you. But it tosses anyone who tries to read what you are writing as an honest attempt at communication. But I'm sure the true believers appreciate it.

Ann Althouse said...

Bri... annnn.... Have you been drinking????

Troy said...

Wow! "Slippery" is not a word I would associate with you unless we're talking about slippery slopes in general. I agree -- Brian has been drinking -- along with those who shall not be named.

Elizabeth said...

Good blogging! Full of links, to more bloggers, making the blogging bigger and better. And storytelling, always my favorite. A little existential Althousian musing on being an Althouse. And some meandering and circling in thoughts and in form. Nice.

bos0x said...

Lindsay Beyerstein mentioned the water?!! You two must be soulmates!!!!!!!!!! :D :D :D !!!!!

Jennifer said...

after years of hearing your name like an incantation

Well, we know whose friend this is. And, frankly, they'd drive me to drink too.

tiggeril said...

Aw, man. I was going to ask if you'd bring me back a bear.

TetonSig said...

Ann, I live in Jackson just south of Grand Teton National Park, I hope that's one of the ones you are planning on seeing on your way back.

al said...

Just curious - was there a reason why Christian and progressive were italicised in the orginal post?

Is progressive really nice way to say politcally liberal? If one spends a few minutes at her site its the same stuff spouted by most of the far left - except in the name of God.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
J said...

"She's progressive. And she's Christian. For her, to be Christian is to be progressive. You might feel insulted if you're a conservative Christian, but she's passionate about wanting to counterbalance the political weight you know you have"

A leftist Christian is hardly unusual - please tell me you didn't think it was. And why would a consrvative Christian be insulted by that? Also, what's wrong with Fresno?

Maxine Weiss said...

That sounds so romantic, that lobby piano player...."Don't Get Around Much Any More"....(Nat King Cole sung it best)!

Did that piano player take requests?

You slip him (or her) a little note with a couple of dollars (sigh), actually you give the note to the waitperson to give to the piano player....which means you have to give the waitperson, also, a couple of dollars.

Oh dear, it does get expensive, doesn't it?

You do tip generously, on vacation, right Ann?

If you don't care about the price of gas, I figure the skies the limit in terms of what you'll tip hotel staff!

Peace, Maxine

Lisa said...

Thanks, Ann --

I wanted to say to you and to all the folks here in the comment section that Ann was fantastic in the session in getting at what really motivates bloggers. So many media pieces (and our nonblogging friends) are completely mystified by what we do, and why we want to do it, and what keeps us doing it day after day.

Ann, if I can coax you back here next year I'd love to do a session on the inner life of blogging.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Lisa. I kept feeling that what I had to say would have been most helpful to the bloggers who went to one of the other panels!

Brian: "But it tosses anyone..." Are you from the U.S.? What does that even mean? Vomiting? Masturbating?

jennifer: "Well, we know whose friend this is. And, frankly, they'd drive me to drink too." Hmmm... good point.

j: "'She's progressive. And she's Christian. For her, to be Christian is to be progressive. You might feel insulted if you're a conservative Christian, but she's passionate about wanting to counterbalance the political weight you know you have' A leftist Christian is hardly unusual - please tell me you didn't think it was. And why would a consrvative Christian be insulted by that? Also, what's wrong with Fresno?"

I certainly didn't think it was unusual, I just don't like to see the implicit assertion that if you're not progressive, you're not a Christian. I think there are Christians on the left and the right. I don't think that Christianity dictates politics. I do, however, think people can look to their religious beliefs to derive political positions and to persuade others. I don't think this is really the best approach to religion or politics.

al: About the italics: I was trying to reproduce the emphasis in the speaker's voice. Esquivel repeated this point perhaps at the beginning of every statement she made.

TetonSig said..."Ann, I live in Jackson just south of Grand Teton National Park, I hope that's one of the ones you are planning on seeing on your way back." Only if I do three, which I may. I will be in Jackson Hole.

Maxine: I have waiters in the family, and I've gotten the message that you're a louse unless you tip big. And it's easier to calculate 20% than 15%. The waiters in the family lean on me and say that even 20% is low! I don't want to be a chump! Anyway, I was mostly surviving on appetizers and wine, consumed in the big lobby lounge, which was very comfortable and nice. Listen to the next podcast for some recording I did there.

howzerdo said...

Ann was my dear grandmother's name...Anne is my "best" friend's name (yes, I still have one, we met on the first day of Kindergarten and after 40 years and many miles the term still applies)...and Anna is my beautiful niece's name. Your first name has a lot of fond associations for me.

Jeremy said...

j wrote: "what's wrong with Fresno?"

For one thing it's just a few degrees cooler than hell. Except last week when it was hotter. For another, it's a bit of a sprawl and the incarnation of "white flight" and "suburbanization." On the other hand, I am indebted to fresnofamous.com for helping me find my way around town and finding things to love about Fresno. But it wasn't easy.

Professor Kim said...

It was a pleasure to see and hear you in person, after reading you regularly. I live-blogged your session for BlogHer -- would love your feedback:
http://professorkim.blogspot.com/2006/07/political-blogging-at-blogher.html