Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday Essay #7: Twitter Me This, Twitter Me That : Conversations with Talk Show Host Larry King

<---Sunday Essay #6: My Jackass Moment

"Have you ever known anyone who was murdered?"

I stared into the oily hot lights. My mind blanked. My eyes watered. "Why are you asking me that question?"

"Very well," he bellowed, pivoting his chair away from mine. "Back with more after the break."

The red RECORD dot of the camera disappeared. We were off the air. "I'm confused," I told Larry, he of the ubiquitous glasses riding high on his pterodactyl nose. "Why am I even here?"

"You're been following me," he said simply, shuffling the stack of papers in front of him.

"Following you? Why? Why would I follow around a 75 year old talk show host?"

He set down the papers and chuckled, suspendered shoulders bobbing.

"I'm sorry." I peeled off the microphone clipped to my shirt collar. "This interview's over."

"Number 264,300."


"You're on my list."

I looked at him. He looked at me.

"On my list of followers," he said. "Please, put the microphone back on."

He was talking Twitter, the express short messaging service embraced by celebrities and common people alike, a place where a talk show host could ask his hundreds of thousands of followers, "what ever happened to galoshes?"

I was "following" Larry King on Twitter, and I had to pay.

The RECORD light flicked on. We were back. "On April 17th, you asked New Raleigh writer Acree Graham if you were, and I'm quoting, 'selling out the future of the written word by Twittering.'"

"I did say that."

Larry nodded. He wanted more, so I gave it to him.

"I was skeptical," I said, "Twitter seemed like the ultimate language killer. Nonsense, really. Like the Internet doesn't have enough crap?"

"On April 21st, you tweeted basketball star Shaquille O'Neal?"

Damn, the lights were hot. "I don't recall, Larry."

"You don't recall?"

"Maybe...probably," I said. "Yeah."

"What did you ask him?"

I looked down at my hands. I was rubbing them together, hard. It was almost as if they were a separate entity, disconnected from all bodily thought. "I asked Shaq, 'What's in your iPod these days big man?'"

"Does that fit under your definition of nonsense, Alex?"

"I don't know! It seemed like a smart thing to ask at the time!"

Like a psychiatrist Larry deftly slid his thumb under his chin. "Did you learn to love Twitter?"

"No, that's too much," I said, recovering. "It can be entertaining, that's all. I'm not some holier-than-thou Maureen Dowd who dismisses it completely."

"What do you like about it?"

"Comedians. Paul Scheer tweeted, 'Just found out Dr. Dre isn't a real doctor, now I understand why he botched my hernia operation.' I laughed, Larry. I laughed."

"Why do some baseball players wear the brims of their hats flat?" he asked without missing a beat.

"You asked that from your Twitter, right?"

"What's the difference between a frankfurter and a hot dog?"

"I don't know, Larry."

"My sons will be bat boys at tonight's UCLA baseball game -- I am not sure who's more excited, them or me!"

"Do you want me to respond to that, or - "

"Have you ever known anyone who was murdered?"

"I think you tweet from the dark side."

I waited for Larry to laugh but he didn't. He stared at me, waiting for an answer. "I didn't murder anybody," I said, the words sounding, oddly, like a murder's on my tongue, "but I do know you spoiled the finale of The Celebrity Apprentice for me. You congratulated Joan Rivers before I watched the episode!"

For some reason, that snapped Larry out of it. "As an admitted user of the service, do you think this Twitter phenomenon will last?"

I shook off the verbal whiplash. "It might not. I read an article in AdWeek that said, 'about 60 percent of people on Twitter end up abandoning the service after a month.' That's a bad retention rate. People apparently don't stay. The other night, I was listening to Loveline with Adam Carolla and Dr. Drew -"

"Dr. Drew tweets."

"I know, and that sentence sounds filthy, but they were discussing our society's obsession with pushing the boundaries of what's extreme and what's immediate, whether it be energy drinks, sexual practices, or satellite television. They were suggesting that perhaps there will come a day when we can no longer go any faster or get any more now, and that the scales will tip towards delayed gratification. Longer will be cooler, if that makes any sense."

"A return to the days of hand-writing letters with quill pens?" Larry asked.

"Who knows? The point is, I don't know if Twitter will be around forever, but in the meantime I'll check it out now and again. I get a kick out of comedians and other smart folks who wring a visceral reaction from limited words. I mean, it's no replacement for any real communication; by comparison, it makes Facebook look bed-sharingly intimate. But Twitter can be a supplement, and as long as it makes me laugh, it's not the worst way to burn a minute or two."

Larry turned to the camera. "If you want it to rain, wash your car! I guarantee it will rain... happens to me everytime!"

"Thanks, Larry. Thank you very much."

Related posts:
Breaking Up With Facebook for a Week, Part I
Breaking Up With Facebook for a Week, Part 2
Breaking Up With Facebook for a Week, Part 3

<---Sunday Essay #6: My Jackass Moment

1 comment:

Acree said...

Alex, you're awesome.