Sonoma Surveillance

I always feel like somebody's watching me.
I always feel like somebody's watching me.

One advantage of living in the Age of Information is that even Joe Sonoma has access to the kind of spy-fi gadgetry that would have made early incarnations of James Bond feel woefully inadequate.

Add to the fact that we live in an incredibly small town where one is as apt to spill as much gossip as wine (though the former usually precedes the latter), and suddenly any secret ever uttered is everyone else’s business. And backed with online evidence to boot. Aiding and abetting this social espionage are more than a few social networking sites that serve as online analogues to our quotidian experience. Though reading that Joe Sonoma “needs coffee” isn’t nearly as interesting as evaluating the current attractiveness of one’s exes, chances are you might actually see Joe Sonoma at EDK within an hour. Witnessing one’s online-foreknowledge of an event played out in reality is somehow gratifying (and, if Joe Sonoma is your ex, it’s probably time for a visit to the clinic).

Since I live my life like an open book, or at least an open broadsheet, I’ve been called out on most of my misdoings (especially the public gaffs, as when I riffed on the remaining life-expectancy of those at a planning commission meeting regarding a certain venue for live music and was roundly chided – and dare I say forgiven – by dear and lovely Cheryl, to whose enduring health and longevity I heartily toast). When I’m not being reproached in public (deservedly or otherwise) there are plenty of online forums, such as the Index-Tribune’s sonomanews.com, where my readers can stalk me and express misgivings about my work, which then become public record for all to enjoy. Forever.

A fellow recently posted the suggestion that I temper my use of the first-person in a comment appended to one of my columns, ignoring the fact that my gig is to write first-person observational humor.

I replied to the dude by posting a Woody Allen quote from “Stardust Memories”:

During a Q&A an audience member avers, “A lot of people have accused you of being narcissistic.” Woody replies, “I know people think that I’m egotistical and narcissistic, but it’s not true. If I did identify with a Greek mythological character, it would not be Narcissus.” The audience member persists “Who would it be?” and Woody deadpans “Zeus.”

The guy didn’t dig it. Of course, if I were to shirk the first-person and go for the alternative, referring to myself in the third-person, I think he’d be further nonplussed.

Oddly, however, that’s precisely how Facebook asks us to frame our responses to its ubiquitous query, “What’s on your mind?” Our responses are preceded with our login names, to wit, if one wants to maintain any pretense of grammar, one must post one’s updates in the third person. To wit, “Daedalus Howell is mulling the preceding 480 words of his column.” What’s on your mind?

These days, I seldom go anywhere in Sonoma without first tapping into the eye-in-the-sky made available by Google Maps.

The “street view” option takes the virtual visit to near perfection. You can put in your pals’ addresses and chide them on their gardening skills (the rosemary is looking a little unruly, Kathleen) without having to leave your desk. If Bond had Google Maps with street view, he’d avoid many an island fortress of doom. I personally enjoy clicking my browser around the Plaza, beginning with a right turn from Broadway and preceding with left turns until – and this is where the real thrill occurs – the traffic sign reads “Right turn only” from First Street West onto West Napa Street – and I click left (insert diabolical laughter here). Yes, I’m merely “virtual villain.” But I still expect you to die, Mr. Bond.


Daedalus Howell

Daedalus Howell is the author, most recently, of the novel "Quantum Deadline" and the writer-director of the recently released feature film "Pill Head." He is the editor of The North Bay Bohemian and The Pacific Sun.

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