hal tweets ·11:28 AM

Ghostbuster zines from the Canzine Hollywood Piracy Zine Challenge are now online! http://t.co/RoAMEQTU

Peeping the Brand: Hanging Out in Vancouver (A Photo Essay) :comments

Posted by Hal
Tags: production, Video sharing, Voyeurism

Last week in Vancouver I hung out with a very fun, very interesting group of friends who are all heavy online social media users. Below are some pictures I took of our two days of filming with them, interspersed with some commentary and links to their various sites. Overall my impression of them is that they are smart and funny, though self absorbed (but perhaps no more self absorbed than I was at that age…or I still am…) What I noticed most of all was their mixture of savvy image building and utter disregard for how what they share online might alter their future. On the one hand, total sharing without filter, on the other hand, very keen awareness of the way they are building their personal brands online and the opportunities that might create for them.

So the guy in the picture below is Adam. We met up with him at his office and he showed his Daytum site, where he chronicles his sex life, eating and spending habits, and more. Online, Adam mostly goes by Skinny Ghost. He spends a lot of time on Tumblr. He told me he doesn’t do Daytum to get attention or expose his life, even though the site is public.



After hanging out with Adam at work, we went to a hot dog stand called Japadog. While the camera crew filmed, we ordered hot dogs with Japanese toppings. Mine, below, was a turkey smokey with sweet Japanese mayonnaise, teriyaki sauce, grilled onions and dried sea weed! It was surprisingly good.


Adam used to date Malloreigh (posing below). Malloreigh is best friends with Lindsay (taking the pictures with the film crew in the background). Malloreigh, among other things, poses nude for the site SuicideGirls.com, a site that mixes pin-up type photos of young women with tattoos and piercings with blogging and some Facebook like features. Malloreigh also uses LiveJournal, has a public blog, and communicates through twitter and facebook too. She told me that when a new social networking site comes to her attention she will immediately try and secure the user name Malloreigh for herself, just in case she might one day start using the site or it gains in popularity. Malloreigh’s been blogging since she was 12. She’s had someone pretend to be her online, and has had several online stalkers. Still, she’s very open and friendly to anyone who contacts her, even the guys who pay for access to her photos through Suicidegirls.


The girl taking the photos above is Lindsay. Lindsay is a bit older and less into basement apartments and grunge then Malloreigh and her friends, but she’s just as into using the web to promote herself and her “brand”. She has a site called LindsaysDiet.com that features thousands of pictures arranged into photo essays of particular days that all invariably end up in a club. She’s been hired by a LA based DJ to travel with him taking pictures, and she is even an attraction every Saturday at Biltmore’s, a reason to show up and make the scene, like the band or the dj. We went with Malloreigh over to Lindsay’s condo, where Lindsay took pictures of Malloreigh posing in various states of undress, photos that may make up the next set on Malloreigh’s Suicide Girl page. While the doc crew did this, I sat in a chair in the corner, sweaty palmed and embarrassed, and tried not to pay too much attention (though I did look up long enough to take the picture above).


Eventually we all ended up biking over to the Astoria, a dive-y bar with live music and a dj. The specialty of the place is a beverage called the Power Shandy – half Smirnoff Ice, half beer, one shot of vodka. What you see above is me buying a round for all my new friends. Delicious!


Here we are getting ready to party. At the insistence of director Sally, I even danced for a few awkward moments. The two “power shandys” I drank helped loosen me up for my turn on the dance floor.

So there you go. No deep thoughts here. Nice kids (I can say that because, well, even if I’m not that old I felt old hanging out in their various basement apartments). They had a lot to teach me about using the various peep technologies I’m experimenting with. While they lectured me on the different protocols, I bombarded them with questions about what they thought the future had in store for them. I wonder how their various attempts to  use the details of their to lives to keep themselves permanently in the spotlight will ultimately work out?


Comments: -29-, Add yours…

I’m glad you had a good time.  I know you guys were run pretty ragged with all the shooting and everything. 

Also, we tease a lot but it was good to meet everyone and hopefully our contribution to the doc is going to help put a new perspective on what you’ve been up to.

By Adam on 2009 07 15

discussing all of those things with you helped me get some perspective on it, too, in a way i hadn’t before. i feel violated all the time by everything i do. maybe it’s time to change it?

nice to have met you and thanks for doing a day in our lives. i feel like everyone should. we have a good time, and yeah, we’re a bunch of vain, self-obsessed pseudo-intellectuals who are more interested in self-analysis than anything else. and i think a big part of why we throw so much of our lives on the internet is to gain insight from other people. maybe they can figure us out, if we can’t.

By malloreigh on 2009 07 15

We produce culture.
We bought the narrative that the “old economy” was never coming back and, if you weren’t cribbing cheat sheets for an MBA, it was death by drudgery as a white collar paper pusher, while we paid down that student loan, watched the Boomers and Gen X’s (poor dumb fucks) check their pension plans and contemplated “what it all meant”. We aren’t the khaki wearing shit-for-brains assholes in the bank ads or their photoshopped sweater wearing wives and we certainly aren’t a stinking hippy. No, we’re smart, adaptable and bought, hook, line and sinker, the whole “alt” culture so very very necessary to keep the newly floated IPO’s of the “next big thing” afloat. We’re “different from before” and create our own culture. We push capital into tattoo parlors, film processing labs and bike shops.
Same shit as all the other “alternative culture” - but this is, you know, “ours”.
As long as we don’t have to sweat at the job.
That’s for foreigners and immigrants.

Alternatively, some could suckle the teats of Boomer (or X’er) Mom and Dad for a few extra years while they partied through film school and sought out the cool at some dive bar that was slightly edgy, considered the hilarious nihilism of Wonder Showzen and marveled at how some seedy asshole with connections to Vice magazine worked it into American Apparel. Branding. We’re the rising “Creative Class”.
Fuck it. DIY right?
Nobody wants a factory job - there’s no more factories anyways. Cameras are cheap though and hey, haven’t a few already parlayed the trivial “viral” into a 15 minute ride that’s set them up for life?
Nobody believes tomorrow exists. They can’t possible mean it. We can tell you shitloads about sustainability issues, but fuck thinking through the personal implications. That’s just a downer. And hypocritical anyways; who doesn’t want to hit SXSW this year?
We all know the individual is worthless, powerless, fleetingly immersed.
A commodity. Maybe with a decent Q rating, maybe not.
What’s so wrong about milking the fascination into a comfortable one bedroom in a promising neighbourhood? It’s not like we’re going to have to account for anything and besides, we ride cool bicycles and tweet. That’s enough. And who knows…
Culture is a toy that blinks, glows, beeps and glitters.
It understands us. It gets the “now” like nothing else. We like it.
Politics is one long, dull, gray, endless compromise.
It’s never produced a decent iPhone app in its life.

A few years ago I listened to some guy at a party talk about how he easily he was bored and it struck me that I’d said the same thing many times before - with the same connotation. Coming from me, as I’m sure it was meant from him, it was supposed to imply that I was nimble of mind, dropping and adopting whatever fancy drifted into my consciousness, however briefly, then turning elsewhere to find the next “cool” thing.
Except really, the guy came across as a self-absorbed, shallow dumbass.
From him, I heard it more as “I can’t focus”, or “I flitter. ”
And I was just like him.
Then I read Thomas Frank’s Conquest of Cool. And One Market Under God.
And I laughed.
Because now, “revolution” means a cool way of putting condiments on a burger. Our Che is Dov Charney, maybe Wes Anderson. Who cares if they went to private school? That’s such an elitist, hippie-shit piece of trivia. “Alternative” means capital flows into stuff-the-kids-might-like. “Libertarian” became the loud-mouthed, numbskull foot soldier, really, the Nazi militia, of the capitalist crew, ever ready to confuse some glaringly stupid definition of “rights” with the cultural bombardment of monolithic corporations and their ever-so-much cooler subsidiaries. And nothing means what it meant 20 minutes ago.
Creative destruction - the backbone of capitalists everywhere.

By Blankety Blankson on 2009 07 15


Whoever you are and whatever the intent of that, this is great.

By Adam on 2009 07 15

i agree with adam. fantastic post Blankety!

and to Malloreigh: i think there’s a danger in inviting the internet to figure us out. we’re probably better off figuring ourselves out first in more or less private. the problem, of course, is that provides less excitement, less viewers, less audience. i certainly wouldn’t have wanted much of what i was like in my twenties to be public and searchable on the internet. but that material would have made excellent theater, no question.

time to change? well, it’s like our buddy Blankety says: “Creative destruction - the backbone of capitalists everywhere.”

By Hal Niedzviecki on 2009 07 16

Thank you Hal.
Your “Hello” book had me at Hello, by the way.

FWIW, I can relate to “being out there” and living out your life in public, but I don’t identify with it any more. “Societal norms” may be constrictive for an individual, but their consensual byproducts do provide grants to art institutions and get bike lanes built - in spite of Conservative agendas.

Social networks can’t provide the smell of cleaning up some “hard partying” vomit at 5 am on a work day or convey the pathetic sense of emptiness that creeps into the mind of a deeply indebted, highly intelligent individual with slim-to-no opportunity ahead.
Nihilism’s point oddly enough, is to HAVE FUN!!!

By Blankety Blankson on 2009 07 16

I don’t know if you could’ve found 3 more vapid individuals to cover.

They’re fine, but somewhat laughable human beings. You could’ve covered “real” artists or people who are actually awesome Vancouver people, but, I suppose that would miss the point of the docmentary, because people who actually have something going on wouldn’t have time to post hundreds of party photos and update their twitter religiously.

Those 3 are nice enough, but man, there’s really nothing interesting going on inside their heads.

By sick on 2009 07 16

yeah, unfortunately, the documentary isn’t about artists… it’s about people who religiously update their twitters, their flickr photostreams, their livejournals, their daytums, and their party photo websites. i guess we fit in perfectly, then, don’t we?

the whole fucking thing is vapid self-absorption; that’s the point.

hipster politics are awesome!

By malloreigh on 2009 07 16

and (ahem) - what’s a “real” artist? wait, does it have to mean something to be real? or does it have to be good? or do you have to like it, for it to be real? hmmm. i’m not really sure. what is “real” art?

i’m pretty sure that what lindsay does counts as art, by any number of definitions.
people like it - that doesn’t make it art, necessarily, but it’s true.
it’s oft-consumed - that also doesn’t make it art, but it’s also true.
she makes money off of it; that makes her a “professional” artist, if not a “real” one. it has meaning - well, okay, this is endlessly subjective and relative, but so is everything. so is the meaning of all art. i could write a thesis on the meaning of hipster party photography. does that make it more valid? or less?

and so on.

By malloreigh on 2009 07 16

Point taken, if your definition of art encapsulates Ed Hardy Tattoo Tshirts, then I’ll give that one to you: party photos are art.

By sick on 2009 07 16

I remember a day when the Suicide Girls website wasn’t considered art.

July 16th, 2009

By sick on 2009 07 16

yikes! i wish i could attempt to personally insult you on a public forum, but you haven’t made yourself vulnerable by exposing your identity. too bad. i guess that’s the downside, for us. still, seems a bit cowardly to hide behind the anonymity of the internet. *shrug* lots of people do it, so it must not be a dick move, right?

By malloreigh on 2009 07 16

I don’t think we’re any more “vapid” than anyone else.  We’re exactly what the documentary was looking for - people who are willing to expose their lives in whatever fashion on the internet. 

It’s not about having something to say.  If I have something significant to express, I’m not going to put it on twitter.

“sick” is really completely missing the point, I think.  We do have things going on.  We have jobs and friends and lives and just because we’re willing to broadcast them with some frequency online doesn’t make anything we say or do any less valid.  It just makes it more public.  If that means anonymous posters feel the need to take a shot at us, it’s something we’re obviously not afraid of.

By Adam on 2009 07 16

well, malloreigh and adam and lindsay are doing a fine job defending themselves, as you would expect. and i agree with them: it’s not about shooting artists or vancouver’s best and brightest, it’s about capturing a moment in the lives of three people who regularly use the internet to expose aspects of their lives. for that purpose, i can’t imagine we could have spent time with any three people who better fit the bill. whether they are artists or not - and there is no denying they are creative people who, no matter what you think of them, could hardly be described as vapid - is something for them to decide. you are an artist if you start calling yourself an artist. the deeper question is can you be an artist and a full fledged member of peep culture? does peep suck art dry?

By Hal Niedzviecki on 2009 07 16

I would say that pretty much any activity that a human engages in that isn’t necessary for survival or else reproduction could be shoehorned into the amazingly vague definition of what art is. However, I believe that by “real” artists, Sick meant “good” artists: as in people who employ a modicum of craft in creating their art, make art to express an emotion, critical idea or world view, or are using their creations for something, anything, more than easy self promotion and glorification of empty-headed hedonism. You people may not be vapid, but your art most certainly is. Here are some thoughts from Mr. Charles Bukowski on writing, but I think this can be applied to party photography too:

If it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of you,
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-love.
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to sleep
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

By Gary on 2009 07 17

Why do you think you are an artist?

By Jenn on 2009 07 19

They’re really sweet girls with good hearts who happen to make art that I like to look at.

That’s all I have to say.

By The Countess on 2009 07 19


Way to mention Mal and not me, you big douche.


Also, I love that this has turned into a big debate as to what “art” is which is such a pseudo-intellectual bullshit thing to debate.

By Adam on 2009 07 20

We’re pseudo-intellectuals. That’s what we do. Life is meaningless! Art is meaningless! Art does not exist! Life does not exist! This conversation is happening in a dream-world, for all I know! I’ve been deceived by a demon! I am alone and you’re all biological automatons! AGH

By malloreigh on 2009 07 20

i think it’s really interesting the way perceptions of what is and what isn’t art is possibly being skewed by the way it is being presented—as peep culture, ie. more like pop culture than high art. is it harder to take someone seriously when you know so much about them and what you know doesn’t correspond to your notion of what an artist is/does?

By Hal Niedzviecki on 2009 07 20



The Bloggist

Hey, I’m Hal Niedzviecki. I’m a writer/thinker who lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with my wife and daughter. Up till now I’ve always considered myself a private person. But at the same time I’m fascinated by people who effortlessly open themselves up to the whole world. So I’ve… more...



Ghostbuster zines from the Canzine Hollywood Piracy Zine Challenge are now online! http://t.co/RoAMEQTU

Hal Niedzviecki :: ·11:28AM

EXPOZINE 2011, Montreal’s 10th Annual Small Press, Comic and Zine Fair—http://t.co/3ISW3Ovx http://t.co/FlLfB6hk

Hal Niedzviecki :: ·20:02PM


Tag Cloud



Archive Months

February, 2011
January, 2011
December, 2010
November, 2010
October, 2010
September, 2010