Gone Viral!

Weirdly, I have a viral video on IG. After an IG favorite person, Patricia Miguel Dias, had her account hacked and lost access, I posted a remix video. My video remixed her reel (video) from the VisitPortugal IG page with a series of handwritten calls to action. I put Johnnie Taylor’s “Hijackin’ Love” on top and published it. It sat in my reels for two weeks doing nothing.

Then, just about the time that Patricia got her account back, my video started to rack up likes and views. I noticed it get to 100 likes, a milestone for me, then it kept on going. My notifications filled up (you only get 100 at a time) every night as I was sleeping. By the start of this weekend, I had 13,180 plays and 988 likes; by now, Sunday morning, I’ve passed 2,000 likes and 15.830 plays.

As the beneficiary of the IG algorithm, my benevolent gaze surveys the territory of IG reels, a pretty wasteland of inattention. I now enjoy browsing around to other IG original posters (OPs) and see how many plays and likes their videos have garnered. Most of the bread videos and pottery videos I check on top out in the thousands of plays. There are OPs, like bakesmarterwithsmarter, who post three or four reels every week who have only once received over 10,000 plays.

I can state with assurance that my viral video has no reason to go viral. First, the call to action (CTA), “Help Patricia!” has been answered and resolved. So that’s a dead letter. There aren’t any hashtags that would bring audiences to this reel. Also a dead letter. The production values are terrible; I can barely read the text I wrote, and I’m the one who wrote it.

The song is amazing, however; Johnnie Taylor has the most complicated perspective on love that I’ve ever come across in a pop singer’s repertory. And not only does it have deep lyrics (none of which come across in the 15 second clip I’m using), but it’s a banger like most Stax singles of that era. And I’ve never heard it on IG. I won’t hear it anywhere else either, as my video is still the only use of the song on the platform.

This dynamic, I’m afraid, is something that we have to get used to. If everyone is graded on social credit determined algorithmically, it’s pretty likely that most people’s “success” is the result of pure luck or worse, the alignment of a slapdash product with algorithmic goals (show more faces, show more remixes, play more Stax singles). There might be a point to “using what I’ve learned” to create a reel product with the same qualities that also supports my own social credit goals, except for the fact that I don’t actually have any social credit goals.

“Written description of how soukous women have their waist” in one word, undulating

(Every once in a while, Google Analytics’s list of keywords that bring you, Dear Reader, to my blog comes up with good ideas to write about. The scary thing is that converse of the truism that there is someone writing about pretty much anything on the Internet holds true: there is someone searching for pretty much everything on the Internet. Et voilà today’s post, inspired for you by the intrepid Googlenaut searching for “Writtendescription of how soukous women have their waist”. My blog was at no. 3 when I wrote this post; I should hope it rises somewhat.)

The Dany Engobo/Coeurs Brisés videos, where the mild and inoffensive zouk tunes clearly play a supporting role to the hypnotic tummy-shaking of the Coeurs Brisés (Broken Hearts) troupe of dancers, could be, if you took them lightly, campy as all get out, but I don’t see them that way. Instead, there’s something deeply serious about the attractiveness of lissome women moving hypnotically to the middle-aged male head of family. Strangely enough, watching such dance videos for an hour or so, or the length of a VHS tape, always proved relaxing, like a nice afternoon nap, rather than erotically stimulating.

A couple years later I met the guitarist Diblo Dibala after a summer concert at South Street Seaport. My buddy from work Rose was a friend of one of his two backup dancers, the older one. The younger one had managed to shatter boundaries by being a Brooklyn girl (bizarrely nicknamed Electra) who was touring the world as an African dancer. This only reinforced to me the complete inauthenticity of soukous music and soukous-dancing videos; these were products of late 20th-century cultural capitalism, not the honest and straightforward expression of prelapsarian village life that is the default approach to African cultural products. In other words, folks were watching these videos (and Diblo’s dancers) not because they had some kind of cultural relevance to the viewer, but because they liked the dancing, or the physiques of the dancers, or both. My interest was validated; I didn’t have to come from some Kinshasa faubourg in order to appreciate it.

Here are some examples:


‘I want to see the words in between the words, and I want others to understand them.’ -Samantha @ Girls Write Now

I could watch these highlights of the Girls Write Now event last
weekend all day; they just get better and better. Erica’s poem in the
clip below is pretty powerful (“red velvet cupcakes of indifference,”
anyone?), but Samantha speaks with such assurance she just knocks the
whole event onto a different level.

Simple luxuries

Since I moved to the tent,  I’ve been enjoying the latest in luxury accouterments: a bidet.
Actually, my choice of bidets, since every one of the seven toilets in
each of the two toilet-trailers has one installed and working. The
tincans I used to live in had one bidet installed in one trailer, and
that one was disabled shortly after I had discovered it.


Note for self: next time someone suggests spending a couple months
down in a secret city somewhere, make sure the bidet is installed and
working before agreeing.


Here’s the device in action (not in full glory, mind you, just action).


Just like Craig Pond

On the bike today, out for my afternoon ride, I hopped off the curb into the road and all of a sudden, everything was calm, like a smooth and tranquil lake of asphalt. It was like that moment diving into Craig Pond first thing in the morning, when the lake is so still and the water is chilly but it just swallows you up into it, so softly.

(No pictures of Craig Pond handy, unfortunately, so here’s one from Oregon instead.)

The ride went OK. I attempted to psyche myself up beforehand by listening to Tune-Yards’ “Sunlight,”, but it was another song, Stereolab’s “Metronomic Underground” that proved to be the key to victory.

As you can tell, it’s pretty hypnotic, and just humming to myself, “Crazy, sturdy, a torpedo” helped me keep up that steady energy needed for the long back stretch with the wind, past the dump. Of course, first I had to figure out what song it actually was, which is kind of difficult, since my Stereolab sampler is on a single CD that I used to play whenever I would drive around the secret city in the truck.

But it worked! I finished lap no. 2 in 22:48, or 18.4 mph. I was pretty much toast afterward, however, and rode home kind of slowly, still in a daze from hearing the song in my head over and over again.

Kittycine, Farkas reel

Hey kids, it’s Farkas cat!

 Check this one out:


 “Are you coat?” at 0:27 has become an instant classic line for me
ever since I first saw the video last week. I love the subtly menacing
monologue. She could do it, too: make a little cat-coat. I saw a guy
named Farkas the other day but hesitated before showing him and his
buddy the video: I didn’t want him to be nicknamed “little cat-coat”
for the rest of the day.