Porn in the Woods

For proof that the Internet brings people together, see this (one of my all time favourite) 2005 Ask Metafilter Post that asked: “Did you, as a kid, find Porn in the Woods?” To which hundreds of Mefites responded “YES!”  Similar web communities have tackled this same issue (also, a hilarious David Sedaris essay). It seems a that hundreds of kids have shared this communal experience; finding a secret cache of porn mildewing in the wood, behind an out of the way dumpster or under the occasional bridge.

To wit, this is exactly where I found my first ever porn stash, as a seven year old let loose with other seven years olds in rural Moose Jaw Saskatchewan. My comrades and I would bike around aimlessly, playing in construction sites and looking for treasure. And treasure we did find, in the form of a stack of 1970’s era Playboys, rotting away under a giant tree stump in a treed area, just waiting to be found by children. Burned in my memory was four little kids, not sure what they were looking at, but knowing instantly that they shouldn’t have been looking at it, dividing up the few mags that hadn’t decayed too badly. All was good in life for a week or two, with these magazines being the highest form of schoolyard capital, until (predictably) one of my friends was caught with one by his mom, and was grounded for a month. The rest of us, fearing the same consequences, ritualistically ripped up the magazines and let the pieces blow away in the wind.

This all comes up because yesterday, on a walk with Jane and my son, found… porn in the woods. Well, kind of. We were walking through Henderson Lake yesterday afternoon, a man-made lake with a walking path around it that is generally “DESTINATION LETHBRIDGE.” We were walking over this bridge, when something shiny catches my eye:

porn in the creek

Kind of a bad photo, but what you are looking at (the red bits) are a handful of pornographic DVD’s (one with the title “Spring Chickens”) that had been… ritualistically snapped up and thrown under the bridge.  My son, not knowing what he was looking at (or pretending not to), wanted desperately to be allowed to go “investigate further,” to which I had to say no.

This brought up so many questions to ponder:

1. What is behind the porn in the woods phenomenon?

To which I can can think of two possible answers:

  1. To keep pornography hidden in an area that it won’t be found easily, so that it can be used in an accessible, but private surroundings
  2. To dispose of pornography in an area that will not point to one person (i.e. disposing of it in the garbage can out back).

Will the internet age slow (or eliminate) the porn in the woods phenomenon?

  1. Yes. It is easy for kids to access pornography with the Internet.
  2. Kids aren’t even allowed to play outside in the woods anyways.

Which means that we will no longer have stories like these:

Has anyone noticed that smell forest porn always has? Kind of musty, but unlike any other kind of smell in the world. It always smells exactly the same. The forest porn smell….

I will never forget the smell of rained on porn mags that have been dried up. For me, it’s the smell of porn.

What’s f–ked up though, is that to this day, my brain associates the smell of ferns with porn. No lie. We hid our rescued stash in a small cave that was hidden by a blanket of ferns.

What I found the most interesting in our discovery yesterday was the way that these dvd’s were disposed of – in a well travelled area, but out of the way enough that most people would not have discovered the stash. Also – with seven or eight destroyed DVD’s, one was noticeably unharmed. Perhaps an homage to a childhood experience lost to a digital age?

Class divisions reflected in Myspace and Facebook?

A fascinating read (here)

What I lay out in this essay is rather disconcerting. Hegemonic American teens (i.e. middle/upper class, college bound teens from upwards mobile or well off families) are all on or switching to Facebook. Marginalized teens, teens from poorer or less educated backgrounds, subculturally-identified teens, and other non-hegemonic teens continue to be drawn to MySpace. A class division has emerged and it is playing out in the aesthetics, the kinds of advertising, and the policy decisions being made.



(more from McSweeney’s here)

ME: For some reason, I can’t get this report orb to beam.

HOTSHOT: Well, go ahead and materialize the topaz orb first. That should launch your facefield preferences.

ME: OK, here goes … Wait, remind me, how do I get to the topaz orb? Sorry, I knew how to do this just a second ago—I imagine a shape, right?

HOTSHOT: Kind of. Defocus your eyes and visualize a beam of light illuminating a rhombus. That will materialize the topaz orb.

ME: Hmm … It’s still not working.

HOTSHOT: OK, let’s back up a step. Which wormhole did you do your push-up in?

ME: I’m pretty sure it was Wormhole Gamma. But I did a sit-up. Does a sit-up not work?

HOTSHOT: Oh, you did a sit-up? (Smirk.) Yeah. That’s probably why it’s not working. Try it again.

(I lie down and do a push-up. Immediately, a lifelike 3-D porno hologram materializes in my cubicle with the volume turned way up. Co-workers begin to gather. The hologram depicts me naked on the plank of a pirate spaceship with our company’s robot intern, Suzanne. The scenario is dirty in a way not yet fully describable in our present age.)

ME: Turn it off!!

HOTSHOT: I can’t. You have to double-imagine the red orb to quit out of iPerv.

(I try desperately to materialize the red orb, but instead accidentally launch a hologram chat with my late grandfather from beyond the grave.)

GRANDFATHER HOLOGRAM: Where am I? Who’s moved my reading chair?

ME: Granddad, I can explain. Hold on a sec …

(Swatting at my temples like a fevered gibbon, I accidentally materialize a mastodon diorama, Dabney Coleman, the color green, and John Coltrane’s Giant Steps album.)


Last night, someone decided to post some comments here under someone else’s name. I take this very seriously; the whole “online communication” thing starts to fall apart when this sort of thing happens. WordPress logs the IP address of whoever posts on this blog (regardless of the name), and I am using software to help identify the culprit.

If you are reading this, please take some responsibility and own up; otherwise this could get very ugly.

Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us

I found this this engaging:

A short film by Kansas State Cultural Anthropology Professor Mike Welsh. Find out what happens when content and structure finally break-up and structure gets a place of its own.

It falls in line with much of my thinking on the direction we are heading with digital culture. i.e. that the game has changed in the last 2 years (or less), and that it is time to start rethinking how we are approaching it. Especially in my field of Sociology, which is practically ignoring this stuff.


I was listening to CBC this morning on my drive in, and I heard Dr. Keren (who is giving a talk on Friday on the Blogosphere) discuss about his new book. He is doing a reading at a bookstore in Feb, so I am going to try and catch him then.

This is the release for his talk:

This journey through blogosphere highlights major forces operating in today’s politics: apathy toward political affairs,

resistance to globalization, a quest for redemption through religious

fundamentalism and terrorism. Michael Keren compares bloggers to terrorists,

arguing that while the methods advocated by the two groups are obviously

very different, they both represent a similar trend, one of diversion by

respected but disenchanted citizens from the norms of civil society to a

fantasy world in which the excessive use of words-or bombs-would make

everybody listen.


Day: Friday, February 2, 2007

Room: SS729

Time: 12:00 Noon

The main debate for sociologists studying online culture has been whether or not we can call online social aggregates “communities” in the “true” sense of the word, and whether or not people are using this form of communication as a “replacement” for face to face communication. There are many academics who say “no,” and we need to start mourning the loss of “real” communities, and that people participating in online culture (whether it be through blogs, games, or other forms of online communications) are doing so at the expense of making “real” connections.

This is, from listening to Dr. Keren, is one of his main arguments. He talks about this woman who blogs about her cats, and how when one of the cats died, that her “blogging community” (i.e. the people who read and respond to her blog), were in mourning. He noted that at this time there were “important” political events going on in the world at that time, and notes how he checked the newspaper that day and found that it occurred on the same day as the big SARS outbreak…

I think Keren, and other academics who are studying online communities, blogs, etc. have a point – it cannot be denied, that when looking at a woman blogging about her cats, and the community going into mourning when one of them dies, seems, you know, kind of weird.

Yet, on the other hand, my thinking on this is that it isn’t my job as sociologist to make these kind of statements about the people I am studying; it is not my place to impose a moral code of what “should” give someone a sense of community, how they connect, what they “should” be paying attention to in the world, what they should be blogging about… etc. etc. etc. Is this my place to say to this woman and her readers that they are being “silly” because there are “important” things going on in the world? After all, its just a cat right? Further – a cat most of these people have never even seen in real life.

Or can we look at it from the opposite angle: that this woman, who felt a great deal of affection for her cats, would have been in solitary mourning over her loss… after all, it’s just a cat! Yet, here she has this dense community of people who are providing support, giving their sympathy, etc.

New McSweeney’s Lists!

The Meatball studies Major: Suggested Courses.

MS 111: North American Meatballs: A Survey

MS 120: The Making of Modern Meatballs

MS 305: Seventeenth-Century Intellectual Meatballs

MS 575: Mussolini, Stalin, and Antonescu: Meatballs and Leaders

MS 700: Graduate Seminar: Metaballs and Fundamentalism, 1980–Present


What Members of an Increasingly Petulant Host Family Say to Foreign-Exchange Student Maloka Bibihou. BY ANDREW KIRALY

“Go ahead, but you’ll be there quite a while. Like I said, DVDs don’t rewind.”

“There. See? Celebrities don’t bleed perfume. I hope you’re happy now.”

“If you want to get technical about it, I suppose you can eat that.”

“For the millionth time, it’s just a song, not an ‘iSong.'”

“I and the rest of the bowling league would appreciate it if you saved your tribal war dance for home.”

“Well, that’s how we do it in America. Dogs just wear little outfits sometimes.”


Apparent Passions of my Upstairs Neighbors. BY GLENN LINGLE

Moving furniture

Rolling bowling balls off of tables

Keeping time to music by beating a staff

Picking up anvils, and then dropping them



More lists here

Learning to Trek Thru Blog Land

I finished my Instructional Skills Workshop today, and I am now a certified Instructor! Or something. I now have a piece of paper, suitable for framing.

All week, we were asked to prepare “mini-lectures” that were taped, analyzed and critiqued. All week, I have been lecturing on blogging, and instead of a formal critique after the last lecture today, my peers wrote me a fake blog entry (spelling left as is):

Title: Learning to Trek Thru Blog Land

Prof Pauley, If I was an Undergrad in ur class I would learn lots and not fall asleep. I would be convinced to want to start up my own blog b/c u make it sound so easy to do. You are relaxed and appear to two-step with the material; meaning u are knowledgeable and engaged. Note: transition from showing to telling. To blog well does one need to ramble :)? Have u found my PINK cell phone cover? Now I know how to post a picture of the cell phone cover I lost. I purchased it @ London Drugs. Check my blog tonight for post-assessment.

One of the people in my unit actually started her own blog, so mission (partially) accomplished! Visit Jessmo’s Reality Show!

(note: the Pink cell phone comment is in relation to her first post).

The coolest things I did see this windy morn’…

This Life Aquatic tshirt

This article on the reasons why college newspapers are read (76% readership!). At the two Universities that I have been to, both are terrible/irresistable.

This blog called Indexed that I ran accross this morning, and has now been upgraded to “favourites” in my RSS reader. Genius!

This one is titled “keeps you going, barely”

The fact that you can now watch every episode of Arrested Development for free. I still need to pick up season three. If you haven’t seen this show, you are a loser. Big time.

Essential Art House – 50 Years of Janus Films. 50 DVDs, $650. Hopefully my benefactors are reading (hint hint).

Corpus Obscura – a blog that tracks obituaries of people who were not famous, but important none the less – like the tuba player from the Jaws theme dead at 71.

McSweeney’s Reccomends: from the list,

Hope in a Jar
This is face cream. Something like $6,800 an ounce, but, to our surprise, worth it.

Not twisting your ankle
Hobbling, not good.

This snippet of Brian Wilson in 1967 performing the song “Surf’s Up” from SMILE! Possibly my favourite Beach Boys song… not what you are expecting. “I heard there were / wonderful things / a children’s song.” Haunting.

Stop everything you are doing…

APPARENTLY the feud between PARIS HILTON and LINDSEY LOHAN has been heating up…

<- blatant hotlink

(this is blatantly copy and pasted. I did not write a word of it)

Lindsay Lohan has accused her on-again-off-again rival Paris Hilton of hitting her for no reason at a party held at a mutual friend’s house in LA.

Sporting a bruise on her left arm, she made the astonishing claim to a camera crew that was waiting outside her Los Angeles hotel.

She said: “I’m saying this on tape. She hit me for no reason, apparently, at my friend’s house. I didn’t know she would be there and she hit me with a drink and poured it all over me. It hurts and it’s not OK.

“I’m sorry for everyone who thinks I’m crazy but I’m just trying to act.”

The more you know….