I've been watching him, live, over the Internet. He doesn't know I've been watching him. He was caught by a "streaming" camera on the www.beer.com Web site, a setup called the StellaCam, because it's sponsored by the Stella Artois beer company. They've got cameras in three bars around the world (there's also one in New York City and Vancouver, Canada), and they're pointed at bar stools with computers in front of them. When someone sits on these particular stools, anyone in the world watching them on the Internet can click a button and buy that person a Stella (with a credit card), and then have 15 minutes of one-on-one chat time with them.
Every week I write a column in the Weekend section about local bands, bars and clubs. I go out several nights a week and meet real people, drink real drinks and hear live music. But sometimes, I'm just plumb tuckered out. Since the Internet promises me the world at my fingertips, I wonder: How about a night on the town from the comfort of my office pod? A night of club-hopping without smelling like smoke afterward. A night of listening to live music, but being in control of the selection and volume. A night of chatting without having to actually meet anyone. The question before me: Can I paint the cybertown red?
Clearly I need to adjust my search. I think, "Let's go around the world" and type in "Tokyo nightclub webcast." This turns up Club Savage, and it feels like I'm on the right path (http://www.apes. co.jp/savage/savage2E.html). According to the site, "Club Savage is a Nightclub in Cyberia. Transmitted from Tokyo for the purpose of expanding the concept of a club. We want to go beyond the conservative notion of the 'nightclub,' to see if the digital network could perform the function as an actual nightclub." In this case, the answer is, "No." The site is terrible. There are dancing animated worms described as "art," but no club cams, nothing clever, no reason to stay.
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