Thursday, August 04, 2005

Chasing Amy.... Sohn

I genuinely tried to like her. For the longest time the answer eluded me, even though it was right there before my eyes on a semi regular basis. No matter what angle I viewed her from she was difficult to like. I wondered why. Was I envious? Was it something about her? Did she wrong me personally in some way? No. Was I angry at women in general for some reason?
  • Chris: Was it really necessary for This Fish to rip on my friend on her blog? I mean he is a private guy that just lost interest in dating her. And she makes fun of him, his quirks and the fact that he is 40 years old. Tell her to get the fuck over it. Believe me, there is alot that sucks about your friend...a lot. It is not like he went to write a blog entry about her or the size of her tuchis.
  • Ari: You hate women, own it!
  • Chris: I do not hate women. I love women. Some of us just see no point in dating women who's alleged artistic talent is to poke fun at every "loser" that they date. That is why I will not date any chic lit blogger.
  • Ari: You seem to hate women very much. You sure that you are not just gay?
  • Chris: I like gay people. Big deal. But I also very much love women. I just have no empathy or interest in unoriginal women who are leaving these pseudo "tragically ironic" lives posturing to be the next Amy Sohn or Candace Bushnell. Frankly I would rather suck a big veiny cock than read that drivel
  • Ari: That is not what all of us are doing
    Chris: I am not referring to you but your friends
    Heather "This Fish Hunter and Stephanie Klein with her Greek Tragedy. Greek Tragedy? Give me a break. That shit is more like JAP Mythology. There is nothing tragic about her life. The only thing tragic or ironic is that we live in a society where people find this crap interesting. I am only fortunate to have gotten to know the person behind this and all I can is that at best it is soul less manufactured drama passing for bad commerical art.
  • Ari: Why do you care?
  • Chris: It is repulsive to me that this canned soul less garbage passes for some literary art form. There are writers writing original stories who do not get the attention that this Madison Avenueized manufactured shit gets
  • Ari: Is no longer online

Female Trouble

Amy Sohn wrote a column called Female Trouble in the New York Press in the 1990's. Like many, I and many of my male and female friends became intriqued and fascinated with her column. Amy so uniquely embodied the persona of that artsy Lower East Side, East Village chic even though she was from Brooklyn. Before I was even aware of the the label "chic lit" I saw Amy as a New York original. I read Amy's Female Trouble column and happy to see her climb the literary food chain, not because I had seen 5 thousand pictures of her on a blog in various different contrived poses. We had no clue and could only speculate as to what Amy actually looked like. She was sexy, vulnerable and real. It did not matter that as I found out years later when I actually met her that she happens to be a fairly attractive woman.

However artistic, creative and cool I thought that I was, to the likes of an artist, I was an upper east side cliche; way too yuppie with short hair. I was not a rocker, hipster or artistic dude with an angle that could appeal to the likes of someone like Amy. I was attracted to her even though I had no idea what she looked like. So many evenings over late night eggs and coffee after a night out, I would sit in the Viand Diner on the Upper East Side and read Amy's latest life experience, sexual interlude, romantic disappointment etc. More than Page 6 or the Sports Section, I was genuinely curious about this girl's escapades. I had no idea what she looked like and all different images would come to mind. Her words and experiences were heart felt and real. They did not reak of hey, I am trying to get my shit out there to become famous and get a book deal. They did not seem scripted to fit some pre-conceived notion of an edgy downtown female. She was in fact an edgy downtown female. Of that I was sure.

Several years later, as she climbed the charts of New York's writers, she became a published author and her column moved to the upscale New York Magazine, where she is remains a regular columnist. Whatever commercialization there has been of Amy Sohn, it has not come at the price of her originality and if nothing else has come as a consequence of her success first as a legitimate writer and story teller who did not derive her content from the works of other artists.

In late 2002, I got an email from Amy Sohn. She was researching a story and my name landed in her email box as a potential contact or source for a story. Hey Chris, this is Amy Sohn the email read.....I was referred to you by......she thought you might be an interesting guy to speak to....and it ended with, if you have a moment, can you give me a call at____ or let me know how to reach you. I replied with my number. A short time later the phone rang. It was Amy Sohn. How cool is this I thought. I have a great deal of respect for writers, especially those with a journalistic edge who research their subjects and show a commitment to getting a subject and the story straight. Immediately I felt comfortable with Amy. We began to speak in earnest as she fired off various questions to me. I was admittedly a little star struck and on some level still am in her presence. (Photo by Gregory Partanio: Amy Sohn, Chris London & Deborah Schoeneman)

As our dialoque drew to an end, Amy said that she would reflect on our conversation, some notes she took and call me later on that day or in the next few days. She did and asked me to meet her downtown, somewhere which was mutually convenient. At the time I lived in Battery Park City and she lived in Brooklyn so agreed to meet at the Tribeca Grande Hotel. I felt like a celebrity sitting there being interviewed by Amy while being lubricated with cocktails courtesy of New York Magazine. We engaged in an earnest discussion of my dating life and experiences. Her questions were pointed. Amy was quite adept at delving into my psyche, so much so that I found myself watching my own interview, thinking to myself this girl totally gets it and gets me. I should have been unnerved but I wasn't. Amy asked if I could provide her with some female friends, ex friends and girlfriends who would agree to go on record about me. I hesitated but ultimately did so, knowing full well that it might open a can of worms and give these women who were not always the greatest fans of mine a reason to take shots at me. They did.

Needless to say the story came out. It was called "the Pickup Artist". In the story for a variety of reasons they changed my name to Tad Brock. Initially I felt humbled and somewhat embarrased by the story. Gawker even poked fun at me later on. I was angry at the ex girlfriend who was a Publicist. Her level of honesty or should I say spin in knocking me was all too obvious. But Amy even picked up on that and was somehow able to distill the truth out of it. We both came across looking what we were which was highly imperfect individuals. I eventually embraced Amy as having put forth a pretty honest yet entertaining account of my dating life. We added each other to our respective contact lists and periodically we exchange emails for networking purposes as I have no issues whatsoever referring anyone to Amy if she is doing a story. In fact, my brother took pictures at her book party for My Old Man last year. I saluted her originality and her continued success. She deserves it.

Amy Sohn's Progeny: Girls of Tragic Irony

The success of Amy Sohn combined with the accessibility of blogging or publishing platforms has led to the proliferation of female bloggers, many of whom are seemingly trying to find and cultivate a tragically ironic edge from their lives; some with more flair than others. In some cases, it is so readily apparent that their "craftsmanship" reeks of similarity to to Amy Sohn and Candace Bushnell. Some do not. Case in point, I read a blog called Ari Goes Down and subsequently met the writer of the blog. We even became somewhat friendly and flirted but the chemistry was lacking between us for a multitude of reasons.

Ari made assumptions about what my life was about and pointed me in the direction of a blogger who I had never heard of Stephanie Klein, who has a blog entitled Greek Tragedy. Immediately I was struck by how packaged the blog and the persona behind the blog appeared. It made sense. I later learned that she was a Creative Director at Young & Rubicam, a major Madison Avenue Advertising Agency. There was a striking similarity to the Sex and the City characters. It was so clear that she was modeling herself on the Carrie Bradshaw persona I had seen on the show and even had as a similar small entourage of three-four girlfriends that she regularly travels with and whom appear in her pictures. How ironic that they span the spectrum of blondes, brunettes and redheads I thought. This looks posed.... It is.

Although her blog seemed a little self absorbed, I sent Stephanie a nice email commending her on style and the appearance of her blog. It was different than most others in design. It seem massaged or crafted artistically. After a bout of emails, IM's and a brief phone conversation, we agreed to meet. I met Stephanie Klein for the first time, at Starbucks on Madison Avenue and 41st Street, which was near our respective offices. I was working at the law firm of Wollmuth Maher & Deutsch at the time. Stephanie than joined me at a Fun With tasting event that I was invited to at the Union Square Wine Store.

Manhattan is among other things my humble attempt to document a certain element of the charitable and social under current in New York City. Stephanie is a talented photographer. Having Stephanie join me periodically at some upscale social, fashion and charity events that I was invited to cover by some major Society Publicists was helpful to my mission. Our social alliance of sorts never evolved into any kind of substantive friendship beyond that largely because sadly I could not ever find the the soul or essence of Stephanie Klein beyond the facade of the persona on her blog. My brief flirtation with developing a more meaningful friendship ended for me in the early part of 2005 when I realized that in the end it is really all about Stephanie Klein and nothing that is not about that is really of any interest to Stephanie Klein or bloggers of her ilk, such as Heather "This Fish" Hunter. Certainly there was an element of opportunism to her M.O. and that of getting her friends into cool parties. The purpose? Largely to create the screenplay of an alleged fabulous life that smacks of "Sex and the City" down to the Manolo's and traveling in a pack of three and four girls. Documenting a life that is scripted is the essence of her fabulousity but it sells to those who do not know. How it is so tragic escapes me. The fact that it does not escape a lot of other readers or even a New York Times Columnist who's research spans the depth of a Press Release is sad. (To be continued...Part II Greek'ed Tragedy, coming soon)

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