Posted by Rob Walker on May 3, 2010
Posted Under: ROFLculture,rw

This site was quiet the last couple of days because I was out of town, attending ROFLCon. If you’re not familiar with this event, it’s devoted to Internet memes, Internet celebrity, weird online culture & phenomena, etc. The guest list here.

I’m not big on conferences, but obviously this one is … unusual. And I had a great time. Among other things I got to meet a couple of people I’ve written about in the past. One was imaginary brand impresario Pete Hottelet, who has the coolest business card I’ve ever seen, and who in general turned out to be a really nice, smart, and fascinating guy. I interviewed him via phone a while back in a column about Brawndo; he’s now also putting out the real-world version of Tru Blood, and will soon release another defictionalized product that I’ll write up here later. The other was Jef Sewell, one of the founders of (I wrote about that here), who had some really great stuff to show off, including the company’s lavish new edition of Charles Ponzi’s memoir.It looks rather impressive; I think Sewell and his brother Justin have one of the most interesting businesses around.

I also got to meet a bunch of people I’ve interviewed for stuff that’s forthcoming, plus see some old friends, meet some new friends, and so on. There were several really good panels, and I have one or two thoughts from those that I’ll try to articulate here soon.

Anyway I also had one really weird moment, which I guess isn’t too surprising at this sort of event. Everybody had lanyard name tags on and of course mine said “New York Times” on it, because, you know, even though I’m not on staff, that’s my main client or venue or whatever you want to call it. I usually don’t think about this very much, but as I was leaving one panel, a young woman walking past me as she exited looked at my name tag and blurted out an incredulous: “Seriously?? You write for The New York Times?”

She sounded sort of appalled, or maybe alarmed, and possibly just a little bit hostile.

I had no idea what to say. Partly because I wasn’t sure what she meant. Was there something really unlikely about me, as a physical human being, writing for the Times? Or did her incredulity have to do with the idea that someone from The Times might be attending this event? If the latter, was she appalled that The Times would devote attention to stuff that’s so silly/weird/obscure? Or was it more like, “Oh what a bummer that the Times is here to ruin our cool subculture”?  Again: I didn’t know what to say. Of course I’ve already written about several of the guests here, and I’ve interviewed many others. I’m sure the Times in general has covered many others. Basically I was so startled, but her tone more than anything, that I just stood there, mute.

And she kept walking. So that was that.


Further diversion may be found at MKTG Tumblr, and the Consumed Facebook page.

Reader Comments

Pics or it didn’t happen!

Written By Justin on May 3rd, 2010 @ 3:57 pm

I didn’t take any pics, and if there are pics of me at ROFLCon, I would have to stand by my general practice of never linking to anything that involves an image of me.

I wish I had in fact had the presence of mind to respond to this young woman by silently popping off a camera in her face. But I didn’t.

Written By Rob Walker on May 4th, 2010 @ 1:36 pm

No matter what she meant, that was rude!

Written By Ingrid on May 12th, 2010 @ 1:39 pm

Little late on this one, but I’d like to point out that you’ve been in the habit of ruining people’s cool subcultures for, oh, I don’t know, maybe 30 years. And for most of that time you didn’t need the Times. In a sense, I suppose, you were the Times.

Remember in high school when you became convinced you were Lou Grant? That was a tough year.


C. Lymon

Written By cousin lymon on May 13th, 2010 @ 7:14 pm

Oh, CL, you’re so right. Thank you.

Written By Rob Walker on May 13th, 2010 @ 7:20 pm


  1. Traditional book deal FTW!  on May 4th, 2010 @ 1:33 pm

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