They've all come a long way. "I didn't grow up overly social in high school -- I wasn't popular or anything of that nature," says Kanarick. "I wasn't a loser, but, you know, I was a freak! A nerdy little technology guy who also had this weird art thing going on. I was a freak, but I knew about this secret little world. I had e-mail in 1985, okay? Now, for me to walk down the street and hear dot-com this, app that, e-mail me this, there's a loss of innocence and a sadness. It's no longer the indie scene. It's the music industry."
And no one wants to get stuck at CBGB. "We're all tired of going to launch parties and getting oversize T-shirts," Levy says. "That being said, I hope that the party for my new CyberSlacker series will be a hit." Her animated cartoon about an East Village slacker who wears T-shirts with catchy phrases like gen y will die will be released on Centerseat.com next week. "We're having D.J. Spooky at the Angel Orensanz Center, which is on the Lower East Side, so it's cool, and there'll be free booze. Now, to have people look at your work, I guess you've got to talk the big talk and have suits and things." She sighs. "Even if my company did tank, I'd get a six-figure job at some entertainment network, because now I have high-level managerial experience. It's not all for naught."
Another winter night, another Internet party -- this time at the grotto at Tonic for MP3Lit.com, Insound, and RedFilter, the last of which hasn't yet launched. "It's bizarre going to parties and feeling like an elder statesman," admits Griscom, a head taller and nearly ten years older than anyone else in the room. Giant wine casks from a local kosher winery serve as banquettes in the chic new space, with room in them for half a dozen people each -- just the perfect size for a small group of friends, most of whom are 23. "We're the Internet Brat Pack," announces Jess Zaino, host of an Entertainment Tonight-type show on Pseudo.com called StarFreaky. "It's kind of our . . . Moment in Time." ETBs -- the next generation?
The dashing group includes Kozmo.com promotion manager Matt Heindl; Zaino's producer from Pseudo, Nicole Abramovici; and RedFilter's Steve Weiss and CEO William O'Shea, who was recently on the cover of the Voice. "Will is a star," shouts Zaino, who is working a Betty Boop kind of look, handing a bunch of drink tickets to a less Brat Packy friend. "Everywhere we go, everyone's like, 'Will! You rock!' " She reaches over to pinch his cheek. "Cutie!"
She squats down next to me and pulls up her sleeve to show me her tattoo. "This is a star, and it has a little j in the middle," she says. "Just to remind me that I also need to be a little superstar."
"Tattoos are everywhere," offers Abramovici, who is working a Daria kind of look. "There was this one guy who got into the VIP room at the last Pseudo party just because he had a henna tattoo of pseudo."
"That's nothing," says Syl Tang, a recent Cornell grad who is working a Daria's-friend-Jane kind of look. "I have a friend who has the name of every Internet company he's worked at and intel carved in his arm."
"You got to represent!" says a guy with spiky hair and angular glasses, working a Craig Kanarick kind of look. "This whole Internet thing is about faith!"
"It's about social Darwinism!" yells Betty Boop, puckering her full red lips. "It's Calvinism! I get paid shit right now, and it's not even an issue for me!"
"It's about opportunity over reward!" agrees Daria.
"Yes! Opportunity over reward!" exclaims the guy who looks like Kanarick.
"Look, I didn't graduate from college," says Betty Boop. "I could be on the streets of San Francisco right now, because I'm a free spirit." She pulls a cigarette out of a silver case. "And on a more shallow level, I just want to be a little superstar, hence my tattoo. Excuse me for cursing, but I will fucking kill you to get what I want. I will get what I fucking want."