It was a boys’ night out. Caesar salads, steaks, creamed spinach, whisky and big talk at the Palm on Second Avenue at East 45th Street. Someone’s brother, Eric Welsh, 27, showed up. I ended up in a cab with him. On the way downtown, he said he was a day trader and had lost $800,000 recently, but it wasn’t bothering him.
I looked at him and I thought, “Here’s a man who’s falling out of those postcollege years and slipping into that time when you become more serious. I’ll ask him questions, poke around in his mind and see what’s going on in there.”
I started by seeing if he felt like he knew what was going on in the culture around him. Or had he reached the age where he was starting not to pay attention to the latest band, the new movie, etc.?
“I think I still have a very good concept of what’s going on in the culture currently,” he said at the bar of Marylou’s on West Ninth Street. He was drinking Johnnie Walker Black on the rocks. “But I’ve never been attached to it. I’ve never been like, ‘I love grunge music’ or ‘I love hard-core Metallica.'”
“What’s going on now?”
“I think the music industry is a complete farce right now. My girlfriend loves the Backstreet Boys and N’ Sync, and it makes me sick. She’s 25 years old, and it is just pure–it’s put together by music executives to say, ‘Oh, this appeals to everyone and anyone.’ It has no artistic quality, it has no message at all. Honestly, I’m not a fan of grunge music, but at least it had an identity. Ninety-four, ’95, Pearl Jam and Nirvana and Soundgarden, I mean, these people, they were angry about something, and at least people could attach themselves to that music and say, ‘Well, I can associate with this. I’m 22 years old, I work in a coffee shop. I hate life.’ But nowadays there’s nothing like that.”
I asked him to name something from pop culture that meant something to him.
“I’ll tell you, actually. In 1987, when the movie Wall Street came out. That is basically when I realized what I wanted to do, which was make a lot of money young and get out and enjoy life, and play golf, and have a wife and three kids and two dogs. It was just the take-no-prisoners attitude of the lead character, Gekko. You have to look up to Gordon Gekko. You had to love the guy. The guy basically said to everyone else, ‘I’m better than you, I make a hundred times more money than you, I’m smarter than you, and you people don’t deserve to make as much as you’re making.’ That’s basically the way I feel about everyone else.”
“Anything you despise?”
“O.K.,” said Mr. Welsh, who graduated from Dartmouth College in 1995. “I was on the Path train coming into the city tonight and there was this guy who gets on and sits down next to me, and he’s got Jack Kerouac’s book in hand. You know, it wasn’t On the Road , it was another book that he put together. But this guy’s sitting down and two other people are sitting on the opposite aisle. They strike up a conversation about Jack Kerouac, but I’m sitting there and realizing that no one even knows what they’re talking about.”
“What was the last movie you saw?”
“I saw the Austin Powers movie, which was absolutely the most ridiculous movie I’ve ever seen, but it was funny to some degree. There’s no substance to anything anymore. I rented that movie Rushmore the other day. That was supposed to be the most artistic movie of 1998 and it sucked. There was nothing artistic about it. Bill Murray was pretty funny, but I hated that little sniveling brat with the glasses on.”
“What was the last thing that gave you pleasure in the culture?”
“You know what I relate to? It’s movies like The Natural . The old-school movies. That movie, when Robert Redford hits that home run at the end, he knocks it out of the park and it hits the lights and all the lights blow up and it’s like a fireworks thing. To me, I cried when I saw it.”
“What’s wrong with the culture?”
“Bill Clinton. He makes me sick, as a human being, as a political leader. I still mock my mom every day for voting for that man in ’92. That’s a pivotal point right there, ’92. Music wasn’t bad back then, the movie industry was all right, on TV you had good shows coming out, Seinfeld was a great show. Everything bad has happened since ’92.”
“Name five things that have happened since ’92 that sucked.”
“Uh, my dog got an infection last week. That sucked. Bill Clinton, obviously. Viagra. Propecia–because I’m balding, by the way. I’ve lost a lot of my hair, but you should just shave your head and suck it up.”
“Are you excited to be alive right now?”
“Actually, there’s a razor blade in my pocket–I was going to go back into the bathroom and end it all right now. It’s a great time. I’m happy with my life, I’ve got a great girlfriend, we’ve got two dogs, I have a great family.”
“How much money do you have?”
“Like, a million dollars.”
“And you lost $800,000?”
“That was in one day, actually. That was half of my money. I had $2 million, now I have $1 million. But I still have $50,000 under my mattress because, just, you talk to people who are doomsday scenario–like Y2K, it’s gonna blow up the world, whatever–these people will tell you, if you are worth a lot of money, take $10,000, put it under your mattress. I’m just putting it on the side, so that if the worst happens, my bank won’t foreclose on my mortgage.”
The New Web Cam Girl
God’s honest truth: In the old days, people didn’t like to be looked at. Ask your parents! They’ll tell you! People used to say stuff like, What are you looking at? or Hey, creepo, take a picture–it’ll last longer! They did!
But a few years ago–coincidentally, just about the time that a movie called Sliver took America by storm–the world changed. Now everyone wants to be looked at.
“I’m a nut job, anyway,” explained comedian and erotic writer Ducky DooLittle, an ex-Minnesotan, ex-peepshow girl who, come October, will go live on the Internet, broadcasting her entire life in streaming real-time video via her Web site, www.
drducky.com. “I’m always dancing around and doing weird things wearing a monkey mask and high heels. So why not do it on film?” She was eating a bowl of cold cucumber soup at Veselka in the East Village and swatting fruit flies away.
Besides broadcasting her toothbrushing and TV watching, Ms. DooLittle, who is in her late 20’s and wears Betty Page hair and many, many tattoos, also plans to broadcast a weekly Web show.
In the show, she will reprise her two professional personae: Knockers the Klown, who extinguishes birthday candles by sitting on cakes–159 cakes at last count–and Dr. Ducky, Crackpot Sexologist, who delivers lectures like “Amazing Objects Removed From Human Rectums.” (Ms. Ducky swears she has proof of the removal of a Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup bottle.)
But on her site, she’ll have limits. “I’m not going to get naked or masturbate on camera or any stuff like that! I’m an old-fashioned girl in that way,” she said. Then she wavered. “I won’t say, no sex. Who knows what I’ll do?” she said. “I’m forgetful, too, so I’ll probably forget the camera’s on and do the most lewd things and be like, ‘Ooooh.'” She slapped her head as in the old V-8 commercials.
Ms. DooLittle even did a good bit of her own market research, watching all the camera sites she knew of to see what the other folks who opened up their living rooms–and bedrooms–to the world were doing with themselves.
She watched a good bit of Jennicam, Jennifer Ringley’s pioneering dorm room camera. “Jenni’s been sick,” she said. “She has a stomach flu or something. Ugh, she’ll bore you to death.”
Then there’s http://www.camarades.com, which markets itself as sort of a Web Cam United Nations, with a multinational assortment of people staring at their computers. “A couple of times I’d see guys jerking off,” Ms. DooLittle said. Ms. DooLittle looked concerned for a moment. “It’s kind of disturbing,” she said. “There could be anybody logging on to that!”