Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Friday, July 28, 2021

A couple of days ago, I attended another Media Bistro freelancer mixer. I knew it had been a while since my last one; I didn’t realize until just now how long a while — since April!

I would have posted a recap earlier, but it’s been a busy week. And as I alluded earlier, that mixer turned out to be just the preliminaries for events that went deep, deep into the night. Put those two elements together, and I simply haven’t had the personal resources to jot too much down, until right now.

Briefly: I’d have to say I felt like even more of a freelancing fraud than I did the last go-round. Yes, I’m technically still a consultant at my current gig; but I’m completing my fourth month on it, and it’s basically turned into an open-ended assignment now (no complaints). So I’m pretty much a regular in the office, to the point where most people there are surprised to find out I’m not really “one of them”.

So it’s not like I’m scrambling for gigs, like most of the people I talked to at this party were. Given that, I felt a little foolish offering advice like, “Just make sure you keep up with your contacts” and such, when I wasn’t in the same soup.

In any case, I went with the same “Blogger” title that I did last time. It elicited plenty of reaction, as I was the only one around who sported that on my nametag. I got a distinctly negative vibe from a couple of people from it, I think. If they were offended, too bad. It’s amusing to think that a creative-professional crowd like that could get miffed over a label.

The party was held on the rooftop of The Delancey, on (appropriately enough) Delancey Street, practically in Brooklyn (the address is practically at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge). Depending on who you talk to, the place is either an overhyped dive or a swingin’ pad. I sensed elements of both; the rooftop, where the Media Bistro event was held, was double-booked with a Japanese language club barbecue, but I didn’t run into any other negatives.

I got to chat with a couple of interesting folks. One girl, named Andrea, had a gig with CRT-Tanaka, writing about the furniture industry. (She’s looking for bigger and better things.) Another, Geoff Fox, related to me that he’s into blogging as well. Finally, an extended conversation with one Marlynn Snyder informed me that he’s doing what he wants, when it wants to, and couldn’t be happier.

That’s about the size of it. The rest of that night? It didn’t end until somewhere around 4AM, and I’ve been paying for that the rest of this week. Let’s leave it at that.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 07/28/2006 06:04:58 PM
Category: Bloggin', New Yorkin', Publishing
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In the District of Columbia, you don’t need a regular carpooling group to make use of that coveted high-occupancy vehicle lane. For decades now, “slugging” has brought together anonymous drivers and passengers to achieve a quick daily commute through Washington’s congested roads.

Among the rules: Slugs are not supposed to talk during the ride, but if they do, such topics as religion, politics and sex are taboo. No money or gifts exchange hands. Cellphone conversations are kept to a minimum. No smoking or eating by either the driver or the slug. Slugs don’t fiddle with the radio, heat, air conditioning or windows. And a slug-line never leaves a woman standing alone.

Why do they do it? Because it’s fast, cheap and flexible.

Unlike regular car pools, slugging lets workers travel any time the rush-hour car-pool lanes are open. They assemble at a dozen or more spots in suburban Virginia in the morning and 10 places in the city and close-in areas in the afternoon.

My initial consideration: What’s the difference between this and old-fashioned hitchhiking? Old-fashioned lazy hitchhiking, at that, in that the hitchers are just standing around looking for a ride instead of walking along.

But this is more of a sanctioned hitchhiking practice, formed through simple expediency and grassroots collectivism. And unlike freeloading hitchers, there’s mutual benefit, by design:

The system of slugging is quite simple. A car needing additional passengers to meet the required 3-person high occupancy vehicle (HOV) minimum pulls up to one of the known slug lines… No money is exchanged because of the mutual benefit: the car driver needs riders just as much as the slugs need a ride. Each party needs the other in order to survive.

And why “slugs”? It’s not a commentary on the sedentary nature of waiting around for a ride.

Bus drivers had always been warned to be aware of counterfeit coins (also known as slugs) from people trying to pass off this fake money in the coin collection tray.

When slugging was in its infancy, commuters stood at the bus stops, waiting for a driver to pick them up. Bus drivers, thinking these people were waiting for the bus would stop to pick up the passengers only to be waved off, frustrating many of the drivers. As this event became more and more frequent, bus drivers began recognizing the real bus riders from the fakes. Because the people weren’t really waiting for the bus, drivers began to simply call them “slugs.” This definition seems to make sense because these people weren’t real bus riders or even real car poolers in the usual sense of the word. They were, just as the name implies, counterfeit riders or slugs. Hence, the term was born.

I’ve never heard of this phenomenon. My friend Chris has been living within the Washington city limits for a few years now; I’ll have to remember to ask him for his take on this. (Or I could check with Offwing Eric, who’s also based in the DC area.)

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 07/28/2006 02:14:32 PM
Category: Society
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