September 18, 2007
For obvious reasons, I recently spent a bit of time looking at the “missed connections” ads on Craigslist. It’s kinda depressing, honestly. For one thing, a lot of them aren’t proper “missed connections” ads — many of the posts I’ve seen are cryptic messages to people who they seem to already know, which, uh, seems like cheating, maybe? Most that I’ve read over the weekend were just creepy, lecherous, and deeply unnecessary public records of people ogling each other without putting forth any effort to communicate. These aren’t “missed connections” so much as refused, deferred, or abandoned connections, you know? The best ads come close to the ideal presented in “Chance,” an R.E.M. outtake that stretches a single idea — Michael Stipe reads (presumably fictional) “missed connection” ads in a deadpan monotone over a repetitive groove that sounds a bit like a cheery version of Suicide — into an amiable, albeit mildly annoying song. Stipe’s line readings are mostly quite funny, and the words do well to capture the most beautiful and appealing element of the ads — simple language, vivid concrete details, and the mundane sadness and quiet desperation that informs every single one of them.