thai elvisSitting in a Thai restaurant (Palms) in Hollywood last night, I came to a realization: Just like everybody should have at least one friend who owns a truck, everybody should know at least one Matt Welch — that is a person who knows a particular locale so well that you’re never going to get bad advice from him.

Once again, Mr. Welch found the perfect dining establishment for my wife and I. Great food and charming entertainment — Thai’s singing kareoke cowboy songs, though we didn’t get to see the Thai Elvis perform. Maybe next time.

Dinner, for just me and my wife, came after the L.A. Bloggers panel arranged and hosted by Cathy Seipp at the American Film Institute. The official gathering, attended by about 200 people, maybe less, was followed by a smaller after-party at Heather Havrilesky‘s apartment in Los Feliz.

The blogger panel, which we arrived at 30 minutes late because of an accident on the 101, was smart, insightful and wide ranging. I started to take notes, but found my once-skilled note taking abilities have declined precipitously and the discussion was just too darn interesting not to give it my full attention. Matt Welch and Ken Layne were their usual profoundly witty selves; Eugene Volokh was, as expected, discerning and keenly judicious; Emmanuelle Richard kept reminding us not to think of blogging as purely a political activity (which it is not); Mickey Kaus was appropriately cynical; RiShawn Biddle showed a perspicacious understanding of the media; Havrilesky helped keep the whole blogging thing in perspective by reminding us how little it pays; and Luke Ford once again showed us what a charmingly off-beat fellow he is.

cathy seipp and ken layneThere was much talk about the political orientation of the blogosphere, which many people think seems to tilt right. Eugene was quick to point out that there has been no scientific study of the politics of the blogosphere and such conclusions are based on purely a subjective tiny sampling of the blog universe. Emmanualle added that there is a whole world of blogs out there that have nothing to do with politics, and are also highly entertaining.

My personal take is that the blogosphere does tilt very libertarian, but that doesn’t necessarily mean conservative. The entire internet for as long as I’ve been on it (1995) has been strongly libertarian. The first adopters were highly independent people, which influences their politics. And the same personality types that were drawn to the net before many of their peers were also drawn to blogging sooner. You can be a lefty libertarian, which is why I say that most blogs (of both the left and the right) tilt libertarian. Generally, speaking. Though I do agree with Kaus that it would be possible, and somebody should do it, to actually scientifically study the socio-political nature of blogs.

For more on the panel, read Luke.

After the panel there was food and wine in the foyer, where I met Stewart and Russ. I also met Michael (who, at the time, I didn’t realize is from my home town of San Diego). Michael, who sat in the audience with his laptop taking notes, has a good detailed post on the event. Joh3n also took notes on his laptop, but says details will follow later.

tony pierceBoth Joh3n and Michael were meeting Tony Pierce in person for the first time, as was I. And as Michael observes, Pierce is a totally kind, humble and interesting man. (My pictures of this meeting did not turn out, as did none of my post-AFI pictures, because I forgot to turn my flash on). Tony and I got to talk more at the Heather party, were we got deeply into a fascinating discussion of Christianity, LSD and the nature of Satan.

The after-party was the usual suspects mostly — the people I knew were Layne, Welch, Emmanuelle, Charlie Hornberger and his wife Bonnie, Heather, Pierce, RiShawn, Kaus (whom I didn’t get to talk to), Cathy, Axel … and I’m sure I’m leaving somebody out, and a bunch of people I didn’t know. There was much talk of BBQ, Mescal, North Carolina (three women in the crowd, including my wife and Heather are from NC), religion (including some interesting offshoot of Judaism that includes a belief in reincarnation), L.A. media gossip, TIVO, various TV shows and movies, Julie London vs. Peggy Lee, and the size of Heather’s apartment.

aftermathOh, and the police came by at about 2 a.m. The outside portion of the party was arguing the relative merits of some movie or other a bit too loudly.

Billie and I left at 3 a.m., and there were still a dozen people left having a grand time. None of them have updated their blogs yet today, so as far as I know, they’re all still there.

UPDATE: Rand Simberg has a must-read post on the panel.

UPDATE: Steve Smith has some good observations about last night’s event, as does the aforementioned Stewart, whom I should add was just so damn likeable that I’m tempted to start calling him Stew. But then I’ve never met a welshman I disliked.

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