Out of the Blog Mines and into the IRL Club

by Whitney Kimball on February 11, 2015 · 27 comments AFC Reports + Reviews


Eagle culled from The Devil’s Doorknob, courtesy of the Internet Archive (via Paul Ford)

I saw a lot of familiar faces (and names) from the internet Monday night. 250-300 people packed into the large back room of Brooklyn’s Bell House bar for Adrian Chen’s IRL Club (co-organized with John Herrman, Katie Notopoulos, Max Read and Laura June Topolsky), an ongoing series of seminars, mainly by internet stars who make cool stuff.

None of it’s particularly educational, which, at 7:30 after a full day in the blogging mines, is great. The point is more to share beers and inside jokes and knowledge out loud– rather than snorting alone at your screen at 2 AM, you could turn to a person next to you and say I saw that too! Experiences on the internet are real, especially more binding as you go deeper together down the rabbit holes. We are not alone.

As a primer, everybody in that room (mostly from net art and New York net blogs) seem to unanimously agree that Wikihow illustrations (the cheerful spraypaint illustrations which break down step-by-step answers to life’s questions) often hilariously oversimplify their subject matter, while artspeak inflates the art way beyond its actual significance. So the room shared a good long laugh over Leon Chang’s (@leyawn) warm-up performance “Wikihow Art: The Collection: A Retrospective”. Chang imagined Wikihow artists’ insight into their inspirations and professional development. In wall text captions under the image slides, “Arthur Iscrap” poetically describes the mood of a man lounging on a couch, contemplating serenity in How to Decide Against Owning a TV. “Magnus Carlsson” speaks of the rigorous development of his dog-drawing skills in articles like How to Handle a Dog Attack (in 15 steps). It might sound mean-spirited to have a room full of interneteratti cracking up about goofy drawings, but it was the self-important art reading that was funny. Nothing was learned. Off to a great start.

Image via Humza Deas on Instagram

Image via Humza Deas on Instagram

We also put faces to a range of internet-made stars and clubs: Humza Deas, the 17-year-old known for scaling NYC bridges and skyscrapers and posting the evidence on Instagram. (The internet version of a long tradition of street art stunting; more of the same, but you have to give him credit for ballsiness. And ironically, due to his age, bar rules dictated that he leave right after his talk.) After a series of images of his feet dangling high over Manhattan skyscrapers, Deaz left the stage an idol of badassery.

On the flip side, the Cool Freaks’ Wikipedia Club– a 33,0000+ member Facebook club devoted to collecting weird tidbits from Wikipedia– has constructed a padded “safe space” bunker, protected from any and all potential triggers. Food, for example. From the trigger warning FAQ’s:

Q: Why does food get a content warning?

A: People with eating disorders already spend a lot of time worrying about food. Pictures and descriptions of food can send some people with EDs into a spiral of obsessive thoughts, and trigger self-harm behaviors.

This is insane.

When we finally got around to a couple of posts that do make it onto Cool Freaks, like the Emu War and Thomas Kinkade, the audience gave a lukewarm applause. The blocking policy is notoriously liberal, so one can imagine that at least a few people in the room may have been booted.

Things picked back up with Brian Droitcour, who commanded the stage while explaining his Yelp art reviews, a project well known to art worlders but maybe not so much the net blogging community. “Brian D.” started writing reviews of art shows on Yelp in 2012, focusing (as Yelpers do) on the silly positive details– lots of exclamation points. This means lines like “I guess I don’t like math that much in art!” I actually prefer these to most professional art writing; not only has Droitcour mastered Yelpspeak, but also fills his reviews with honest little bits of color that don’t typically make it into art reviews. “I was really not expecting to see a snake in that video!,” he writes of a video by Corey McCorkle. “A cool surprise like that is what brings a gallery experience out of four star territory and into the five star zone.” To this date, “Brian D.” has published 102 reviews, or 11 pages. Droitcour’s name also carries past beef with this blog; another instance of internet made real.

Paul Ford, self-described as the representative from “the old internet”, brought it all home with a history of weird internet that bonds communities like IRL Club. He fondly shared his plunder from 90’s Pony Girls (in which riders harness girls with bridles and butt plug tails) and the Devil’s Doorknob, a mixed bag of porn, eagles, and nineties graphics. He’s an active organizer of communities behind such spaces (check out his tidle.club, a great example), and mentioned that he and his wife even bonded first over finding a weird obscure comment thread. Ford’s currently working on a timeline of the past twenty years of Internet, and plans to continue doing so for the next twenty years.

Lastly, the highly-anticipated Penis Wall took the stage. Peiqi Su’s thesis project at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program involves 81 kinetic penises, which respond to viewers’ movements. The penises raised and lowered in agreement as Su made her points. Driving the whole shebang home, we watched the dicks dance a choreography to the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies”. Frankly, the dimly-lit dicks give me the shivers when I watched the YouTube video. In person, surrounded by a rapt and giggly audience, the dicks ripple with a majestic glow.


Katarina Sokolov February 11, 2015 at 4:35 pm

a wall full of DICKS, i am so not offended

splatterbuttz February 11, 2015 at 4:35 pm

lol how progressive of u

splatterbuttz February 11, 2015 at 4:36 pm

great writeup i’ll read anything by whitney pinball!!

Katarina Sokolov February 11, 2015 at 4:38 pm

i liked the whitney article on how she worked in the back room at american apparel, it was called ‘dov hates dust’ i printed it out and i read it at night while my boyfriend ignores me playing his limited icy blue gameboy pocket

Paddy Johnson February 11, 2015 at 4:41 pm

That was written by Corinna Kirsch.

WhitneyKimball February 11, 2015 at 4:46 pm


Katarina Sokolov February 11, 2015 at 4:37 pm

I am stuck at jimmy johns all day, the only thing i have is my netbook, a cup of ice water.

splatterbuttz February 11, 2015 at 4:38 pm

damn been a min since i kicked it at JJ’s what kind of hoagie homie

Katarina Sokolov February 11, 2015 at 4:39 pm

the Pepe it is a roast beef sandwich. light mayo. actually i havent had it yet i might go to jimmy johns later

Katarina Sokolov February 11, 2015 at 4:40 pm

Brian doircour is still doing yelp reviews i guess. i signed up for yelp and wrote a review for jimmy johns

WhitneyKimball February 11, 2015 at 4:45 pm

He said he’s mostly winding it down. I’ll miss them.

Katarina Sokolov February 11, 2015 at 4:46 pm

I guess he got ’em all. Galleries, that is. I only read one once. The one on Foxy Production. Totally ripped it up to shreds. Never gonna go to that gallery if I ever go to New York!

Katarina Sokolov February 11, 2015 at 4:41 pm

how much money does art fag city make from this blog? those ads on the right (cant see them, adblock edge) surely do not cost That mUch

splatterbuttz February 11, 2015 at 4:45 pm

this just in afc gets bought by yahoo

splatterbuttz February 11, 2015 at 4:45 pm

can u go into more detail about your traffic-sharing program with Nantucket Nectar Ads

splatterbuttz February 11, 2015 at 4:51 pm

paddy.. PADDY … Nantucket Nectars still thinks your blog is called Art FAG CITY. so what are you gonna do about it??

Katarina Sokolov February 11, 2015 at 4:53 pm

glad they changed it to F witch could be a reference to just about anything, Foam, Famous, Fast.

Katarina Sokolov February 11, 2015 at 4:50 pm

if arfcity gets bought by yahoo ill kill myself no way this sites gonna be come another tumblr

splatterbuttz February 11, 2015 at 4:53 pm

use ublock its faster check out the stats no comparison

Katarina Sokolov February 11, 2015 at 4:42 pm

my bad thanks paddy. i just now realized it was written by corina

splatterbuttz February 11, 2015 at 4:43 pm

AFC REPORTS .. . . . . . (type writer noises in background)

splatterbuttz February 11, 2015 at 4:41 pm

i hate mustard

Katarina Sokolov February 11, 2015 at 4:43 pm

you can ask for dijon mustard if you dont like regular yellow mustard. it has seeds in it and is spicy 🙂

Katarina Sokolov February 11, 2015 at 4:44 pm

one time i said ‘no mayo’ and the BRO behind the counter said ‘yeah mayonaiise is gross. i dont like it either’ Hahhaa. I then left because i dont want to think about food

splatterbuttz February 11, 2015 at 4:47 pm

gross sounds like my worst nightmare

splatterbuttz February 11, 2015 at 4:53 pm

Art Faith City

splatterbuttz February 11, 2015 at 4:56 pm

art FUNK city

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