Damned Papparazzi! August 30, 2008 5:39 PM   Subscribe

I Vant To be Alone!*

A few months ago I was at work at the famous indie bookstore and some frizzy-haired dude came up to me, looked at me for a moment and said 'Do you post at Metafilter?' 'Who wants to know?' I asked. 'Me. nasreddin,' and we shot the breeze for a bit. Then a few months later, this cat came in selling used books and made himself a nice chunk of change and we chewed the fat a bit. And we even had an international visitor drop by a while back.

Then just yesterday, I was leaning agaist the counter enjoying a brief breather when I spotted a redhead walking up the aisle waving frantically at me. I was a bit worried until I realized it was Don Matteo's chief consiglere herself. About an hour later, this incident occurred, and almost immediately after this dude walked past and waved and I told him about all the fun he missed.

Then, today, as I was enjoying a brief breather at the end of the day, a guy came up to me and said 'Do you work he---Oh, shit! I'm from Metafilter!' It was this Certified Ice Mason and we shot the breeze.

That's quite a spate of MeFi Meatspace Invasion, people.

*Just kidding. This is all a big kick in the pants
posted by jonmc to MetaFilter Gatherings at 5:39 PM (63 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Uh-huh.
posted by orthogonality at 5:51 PM on August 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, well, at midnight, all your sockpuppets come alive and dance around my bed.
posted by felix betachat at 5:57 PM on August 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


Aww I'm jealous. I sometimes wish I wasn't so isolated from my fellow Mefites. Then again, it's nice to not have to worry about bumping into anyone on a bad hair day.
posted by amyms at 6:03 PM on August 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


For me everyday is a bad hair day, that's why I always wear a hat.
posted by jonmc at 6:04 PM on August 30, 2008


But the important thing is how will the PUMAs react to this turn of events?
posted by Rhomboid at 6:25 PM on August 30, 2008


I don't know any PUMAs. I do have a co-worker named Clyde.
posted by jonmc at 6:31 PM on August 30, 2008


Clyde is an orangutan, perhaps? The one from the Clint Eastwood movies?

We would very much like that. Please tell us it's true.
posted by An Infinity Of Monkeys at 6:34 PM on August 30, 2008


I can not tell a lie, I stopped by The Strand yesterday just to give jonmc a hug.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:35 PM on August 30, 2008


Clyde is an orangutan, perhaps?

Nah, just a warehouse worker with poor social skills.

Jess, you should've come by later for the linked incident. The banhammer would've quieted that crackhead down, I'll bet.
posted by jonmc at 6:37 PM on August 30, 2008


That's nothing.

It was about 3 years ago, give or take a month or maybe a week or more. I was working part-time at one of those stores that stocks a bit of everything that anyone might need just to get by. In a different time it might have been called a wholesale distributor or exotic items, purveyor of odds-n-ends, or institute of general consumption. We just called it the "Home of Hoary Mentionables" or HHM for short. It wasn't the world's best job, and it sure as shit didn't pay well, but the hours were fine and my co-workers were decent, hardworking types who didn't care if you showed up a few minutes late as long as you put in a good day's work.

Anyway. I was working the closing shift one evening all alone when this guy walks in. Thin. Tall. Sorta nondescript in that strange kind of way that you can't take your eyes off him. Extraordinarily ordinary, if you know what I mean.

He walks up and down the aisles inspecting the merchandise in a way that gave me the tingles, stopping abruptly and staring at canned goods and candy bars out of the corner of his eye like he was really looking at something else. There was a bit of a rush because it was that hour when people are getting late dinners or early nightcaps, so I couldn't keep my eye on him the whole time like I wanted to. But every time I looked over at him he was doing that strange little dance with the ephemera: stop, grab, glance; stop, grab, glance. Like he was waiting for something to change or someone to do something. I couldn't figure it out.

Anyway. After the rush calmed down we all of a sudden were the only two people left in the store. Him and me: me and him. After a long stroll up and down the vice aisle (that's the one that has the beer at one end, chips in the middle, and cigs at the end), he finally comes up to the counter. He's got a total of zero items in his hand, so I know this is gonna get interesting. I check to make sure the baseball bat that we keep under the counter is within easy reach; even though I have no real intention of using it, it calms me down.

He stops at the counter and fixes me with one of those Clint Eastwood stares, all squinty-eyed and full of import. Nice trick, considering he has on the darkest pair of shades I've ever seen. His back is straight like there's lead in his spine and his voice is hoarse like someone's fingers are clamped around his throat and he finally spits out the words: "Where's Tyr?"

I'm speechless. Flabbergasted. Floored. I have no clue what he's talking talking about.

"What do you mean, Where's Tyr?"

Another long look from the tall thin man, suffocating on his own spit.

"I mean: where's Tyr?"

Things look like they're about to turn weird and ugly. I slide to my right, closer to the bat. "Look, I want to help you bud, but I just don't know what the hell you're talking about with this Tyr thing."

The thin tall man with the frog in his throat takes off his shades. Fixes me with the steeliest, baddest, ClintEastwoodest stare you can think of and croaks out: "Tyr. Philippe Tyr. Works here Tuesdays through Saturdays. Owes me money."

Sweat is dripping down my arm and onto the bat handle. I'm definitely feeling like I'm skiing down shit slope without any poles. "Um...I don't know anyone by that name who works here."

The steely stare anneals into something much harder. "You don't know Tyr? Medium height. Chunky. Goes by the name Phil. Works here Tuesday through Saturday. Owes me 10 g's"

My sweat is pooling on the floor under the lotto dispenser. I figure its now or never.

"Look buddy. I'm just a working stiff, OK? I don't care what kind of beef you have with this dude. But I can tell you one thing: he doesn't work here. Never has. I haven't seen him or spoken to him or even seen him on a timsheet. Hell. I've never met a Phil Tyr.

"You've never met a Phil Tyr?"

"No. Never."

The plutonium stare relaxes. The spine unstiffens just a bit and a tiny hint of a grin crosses his face. He turns for the door.

"OK. Sorry I asked."
posted by googly at 6:43 PM on August 30, 2008 [25 favorites]


I appreciate you covering for me, man.
posted by Philippe Tyr at 6:49 PM on August 30, 2008 [34 favorites]


"I'm from Metafilter!"

Heehee.
posted by iconomy at 6:55 PM on August 30, 2008


Ban googly.
posted by felix betachat at 6:57 PM on August 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


That was a $5 story.
posted by netbros at 7:24 PM on August 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


A few months ago I was at work at the famous indie bookstore and some frizzy-haired dude came up to me, looked at me for a moment and said 'Do you post at Metafilter?' 'Who wants to know?' I asked. 'Me. nasreddin...'

I was sort of expecting some fisticuffs or a gunfight or something to ensue after that somewhat terse intro: "Oh, I'll write a shout-out- IN YOUR BLOOD!!!"
"Flagged as 'Not on your best day', fool!"
*Aggro daiko drums begin an ominous tattoo*

Victorious, the winning MeFite would pause beside broken and writhing form of the loser, torn pages fluttered down upon them. Whispering "Take that to MeTa, punk," he kicks his vaquished opponent in the ribs and strides out of the ravaged bookstore and into legend.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:31 PM on August 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


And then, in those fading days of American empire, when enough $5 tithes had been collected, the newest, last rule of Metafilter was pronounced:
There shall be only one.
posted by kaibutsu at 7:52 PM on August 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I am so going to the Strand in January.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:19 PM on August 30, 2008


Many years ago my then girlfriend was fired from the famous bookstore that Jon lad works at for being "too helpful". Now she was a chatty sort, heart of gold certainly, but I do have to say that store has always done a good job of being an oasis of the old "the fuck are you lookin' at chief?" New York.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:22 PM on August 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Big deal. You live in NY. How many Estonians did you meet today? Five?
posted by sleslie at 8:33 PM on August 30, 2008


Jonmc is turning into a tourist attraction.
posted by konolia at 9:09 PM on August 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've just thought up my latest zany, Guaranteed-To-Work™ get-rich-quick scheme.

You know LA has those guides to the stars' homes? I'll scrape all the lat and long data from all of the profiles, and then put it on a Google map.

Which I'll print out and sell!

What could possibly go wrong?
posted by djgh at 9:24 PM on August 30, 2008




Get ready for another Jon, because I'm coming to New York soon!
posted by halonine at 9:29 PM on August 30, 2008


I was going to stick my head in after that MetaChat post, too. Now that I realize that gawking at jonmc is trendier than even that post makes it out to be, well, I would not be caught dead there.

Except that the 18 miles of books sort of has a sort of gravitational pull on one.
posted by gentilknight at 9:32 PM on August 30, 2008


Jonmc is turning into a tourist attraction.

Definitely. If I ever get to the east coast I'm totally looking him up.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:10 PM on August 30, 2008


Jon also took a ton of books off my hands when I skipped town. Good guy, and he didn't even mock me for my taste in books.
posted by piratebowling at 11:40 PM on August 30, 2008


Of all the Mefites with their sexy, high-status jobs, jonmc has the only one that I'm genuinely jealous of.

I'm sure I'd be sick to death of it in a week, but I'd love to work at Strand. And not just so I could get first dibs on the good stuff. The passing parade of Mefites would be an added bonus.

I remember telling my careers teacher at school that I wanted to work in a bookshop, because I had the idea you could sit around reading the stock while you waited for the occasional customer to wander through the door. If the reality was anything like my fantasy, I'd have been a retail bookseller long ago.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:44 AM on August 31, 2008


Jon, you may recall my telling you at a meetup several years ago that, before I ever actually met you, I once recognized you on the street. You were standing in front of Lucky Chang's, smoking a cigarette, and at first I experienced the thrill of recognition that accompanies any celebrity siting. It wasn't until I hit Houston that the implication of my recognizing you began to dawn on me, and I was filled with a deep melancholy.

I feel better now.
posted by saladin at 5:42 AM on August 31, 2008


Heh. More than a few of the visitors realized once they got there that the job is anything but idyllic. Jess and adamd both saw either me or my boss bark at some customer. Some steathy flickrite did snap this pic of me at work in an uncharacteristically quiet moment. I was stunned when I flickr-searched my workplace and found that.
posted by jonmc at 6:23 AM on August 31, 2008


Let's just hope and pray that none of your ex-girlfriends show up, with their heads shaved and old potato sacks for clothes...
posted by soundofsuburbia at 7:59 AM on August 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


SoS, I'd favorite that comment umpty-million times if I could.
posted by jonmc at 8:08 AM on August 31, 2008


jon - I knew you worked at a NY used bookstore, but I didn't realize that you worked at THE NY used bookstore. The Strand is one of my favorite stores anywhere and I hit it every time I come to NY.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:23 AM on August 31, 2008


netbros: That was a $5 story.

And he fit it in a $3 bag!
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:24 AM on August 31, 2008


that store looks like the epitome pinnacle of awesome.
posted by By The Grace of God at 8:42 AM on August 31, 2008


btgog: yes and no. It is probably the best bookstore I know. OTOH, working there is as crazy as working in any other retail location only more so.
posted by jonmc at 8:45 AM on August 31, 2008


Jonmc is turning into a tourist attraction.
posted by konolia at 9:09 PM on August 30


perfect! I'm in the US in november ;p
posted by infini at 9:25 AM on August 31, 2008


Jonmc is turning into a tourist attraction.
posted by konolia at 9:09 PM on August 30


Divine Wino will be running the gift shop. God only knows what it'll sell.
posted by jonmc at 9:32 AM on August 31, 2008


It is probably the best bookstore I know.

I love the Strand, but it's not even the best used bookstore I know. If you have all the time in the world, infinite patience, and are not looking for anything in particular, you can find treasures; I got for one lousy dollar a terrific Russian-French dictionary from 1908 that I practically had to fight a Russian for when he saw it on my shelves. But the help is surly (aside from our beloved jonmc, of course), the place is hot as hell in summer, the books are in poor order, and if you're looking for a particular book you're usually shit out of luck.

That said, I miss the place, and if I ever get back to NYC I'm gonna go pester jonmc. And by "pester" I mean "buy him a beer."
posted by languagehat at 10:08 AM on August 31, 2008


Divine Wino will be running the gift shop. God only knows what it'll sell.

Presumably bottles of divine wine. Empty bottles.
posted by Sparx at 10:08 AM on August 31, 2008


Hey, wait, I think I spotted jonmc this spring, which was when I last blew $100+ at the Strand. *looks thoughtful*

The Strand has certainly done its bit to contribute to the shortage of shelf space in my house.
posted by thomas j wise at 12:22 PM on August 31, 2008


jonmc, if it makes you feel better I was just in there last week shopping for set decorations and went out of my way *not* to look for you. Out of respect, of course.
posted by stagewhisper at 12:34 PM on August 31, 2008


But the help is surly (aside from our beloved jonmc, of course)

Wait, jonmc isn't surly?
*shakes head sadly*
posted by lukemeister at 1:04 PM on August 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Surly you jest.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:45 PM on August 31, 2008


...because I had the idea you could sit around reading the stock while you waited for the occasional customer to wander through the door.

I am presently in the midst of securing capital to become Brisbane's equivalent of Bernard Black.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:18 PM on August 31, 2008


Wait, jonmc isn't surly?

Actually, I'm surly like a motherfucker. One week of dealing with what I deal with would turn the most idealistic of you into something jaded enough to hang in a Buddhist temple. I shit you not.
posted by jonmc at 5:40 PM on August 31, 2008 [3 favorites]


jonmc,
Thanks for restoring my faith in human nature.
posted by lukemeister at 10:47 PM on August 31, 2008


One week of dealing with what I deal with would turn the most idealistic of you into something jaded enough to hang in a Buddhist temple. ~ jonmc

since i've forgotten how to cross stitch so no sampler for the wall, can I use this on my blog headline revolving quotes section?

pretty please with sugar on it?
posted by infini at 1:13 AM on September 1, 2008


infini, the quote is nothing without the "I shit you not."
posted by amyms at 1:43 AM on September 1, 2008


yah* but its going to be read in mixed company ;p
posted by infini at 2:53 AM on September 1, 2008


go nuts, infini.
posted by jonmc at 5:11 AM on September 1, 2008


heh, just published.

btw, jonmc, you replaced a quote by leonardo da vinci, just so you know,you tourist attraction you
posted by infini at 5:27 AM on September 1, 2008


you tourist attraction you

just don't chip off pieces of me as a souvenier, I beg of you. There's not much of me to begin with.
posted by jonmc at 5:38 AM on September 1, 2008


jonmc,

I meant it over at metachat. I hope you write a book.
posted by lukemeister at 9:14 AM on September 1, 2008


Never happen, sir, Don't have the attention span or mental capacity to maintain creativity for longer than brief bursts. That's why bloggery and the internet is where I belong.
posted by jonmc at 9:22 AM on September 1, 2008


So, whose turn is it to scrape the gum and guano off jonmc this week?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:43 AM on September 1, 2008


jonmc,

I'm sure there's no end of Mefites willing to be Boswell to your Johnson. Wait, that didn't come off right...
posted by lukemeister at 9:53 AM on September 1, 2008


meta: That's why bloggery and the internet is where I belong.
posted by infini at 10:57 AM on September 1, 2008


i'm infinitely tempted to use bloggery and Johnson in one sentence

no.... must.stop.typing.
posted by infini at 10:57 AM on September 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I once saw jonmc at the famous indie bookstore-- but didn't say hi. I did get the 'ohshitthatsafamousperson' sweats, though. I wonder what the number of anonymous lurkers are?
posted by AwkwardPause at 11:03 AM on September 1, 2008


AwkwardPause, I am not famous in any useful way (no money, no crazed groupies tearing at my clothes, no free drugs etc). I'm about to go to the laundromat. You can come watch me wash my scivvies if you want, as long as you buy me a beer at the dive across the street.
posted by jonmc at 11:08 AM on September 1, 2008


Metafilter: I meant it over at metachat
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:52 PM on September 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Funny. Was nice meeting you, and the bookstore was pretty dazzling, even if I have to agree with languagehat about the organization. I'm not even sure what the hell theme the shelf I was looking at when I happened to turn and see you there had.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:58 AM on September 2, 2008


Oh, and the next night at a party with a bunch of people I didn't know, I met someone who knows Afroblanco, so it was a Metafilter weekend all around. Surreal.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:49 AM on September 2, 2008


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