taking the passive out of passive-aggressive

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Years ago, when I was young and cool and hanging out at bars with other young and cool people, I always thought it would be great to have some kind of Baltimore-hipster scandal sheet, or even a Liz Smith-style gossip column. You know, "So-and-so was seen at the Vous with a stripper who's not his girlfriend... guess the wedding's off!" or "Wonder where so-and-so is? In rehab in Virginia!"

Obviously this could never be done in any practical way, even in the days of the zine (although I saw a few zines that approached this line) but nowadays, young hipsters have the Internet! And I truly believe the Internet has reached its true potential with the Baltimore Craigslist Rants and Raves Board.

I've been spending a lot of time on this board, which is completely anonymous, reading the anguished gasps of twenty-something enraged hipsters over slights to their bands, their collective virtue, minor annoyances, bartenders they want to sleep with, and people around town they hate. Also present on the board are their more convetional counterparts, office workers mostly, who complain about the bitch in the next cubicle and their bosses. As a group, they gossip-monger and spread baseless rumors. They write long political screeds in either all caps, or no caps. They lament over lost loves. Most of the time, they are clearly drunk, even the ones in offices. Their collective desperation and rage is delivered with vitriol and bile under cover of complete anonymity.

I love it.

If you had to describe Baltimore to someone, you'd start with the fact that this is a very. very small town. You can't sleep with someone without everyone knowing about it--and remembering it for decades into the future. No one asks where you went to college--they wonder where you went to high school. Everyone knows everyone, and if you don't, you might as well get the hell out of town, because no one wants to know you if you don't already know someone. And the amount of alienated bitter people around here is astounding and wonderful.

I suppose if you are a person who feels at home in California or Portland or Austin, this city would be a living hell (another favorite topic on the R-N-R board: why this city is a living hell.) But having grown up in a city whose atmosphere is equal parts joyful drunkenness, rage, corrupt politics, and class warfare, I find it all very stimulating and amusing. "So that's what that asshole is up to now!" I might exclaim while reading a particularly gossipy post. "Thought he'd have grown up by now." Or "Why won't this bitch shut up? She's clearly off her rocker and it's no wonder her boyfriend broke up with her." Or "Wow. Everyone in town really IS drunk!"

I know that craigslist has RNR boards for every city; I haven't checked all of them out yet. But Baltimore's seems so far to be the most vitriolic and alcohol-fueled of any I've seen. It matches our civic character: we are a tough group of angry motherfuckers, who also continue to hold out the unreasonable hope that things could be better, if only all the assholes weren't screwing it up for the rest of us.


At 6:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow. going to check it out. right.now.

i take it you uhhh recognized some of these people...?

xo trace


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