Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Ben Folds and the Mystery of Merton, the Chatroulette Piano Guy

Today seems like a good day to spend time pondering some of life’s deeper mysteries.

Such as: Is the awesome Chatroulette Piano guy, who calls himself “Merton,” actually Ben Folds? Merton says no, but he said that on YouTube, which is different from saying so under oath.

And last Friday, Folds performed a Merton-style improv at a concert in Charlotte, N.C. At a minimum, the two guys have a very similar skill set.

Investigate for yourself. If a smattering of genial but R-rated cursing is a problem in your workplace, then you’ll want to watch at home or with the volume turned down:

UPDATE: YouTube removed the original “Merton” video on Monday due to “terms of use violation”. An edited version is back up. Figuring out why YouTube takes down videos is often an exercise in futility, but Mashable makes a reasonable guess here: It thinks YouTube received privacy complaints from some of the Chatrouletters. Which is preposterous, of course, since they’re willing participants in a video voyeur site — and so far I haven’t seen any changes on the Ben Folds clip. But whatever. I’ve asked YouTube for clarification.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work