Already Doing the Work

No one hired Fred Armisen or Carrie Brownstein to do ‘Portlandia,’ but the momentum of what they were doing led to eight seasons. Watch this video: http://new.livestream.com/92Y/Portlandia

Fred and Carrie became friends in 2003 and started doing a video series called ‘Thunder Ant’ in 2005. Yes, they had some connections between the two of them, but ‘Portlandia’ didn’t air on TV until 2011.

(Also of note: neither had those connections from just sitting on their asses.)

Fred and Carrie didn’t wait for someone to pick them to make a funny show. They picked themselves.

Fred and Carrie did this for four years before the idea was even brought to IFC. By that time they had an audience, they had characters; they were already doing the work.

Already doing the work.

As Frank Chimero is quoted in this blog post (in 2011):”Daft Punk got to record the Tron soundtrack because they’d already recorded the Tron soundtrack.” How true is that?

My friend Tom Mullen started Washed Up Emo in 2007, writing about his love for bands like Jimmy Eat World, Cap’n Jazz, Mineral and more. In 2011 he started a podcast (over 100 episodes since). And a DJ night. And he wrote a book called ‘Anthology of Emo‘ and it’s amazing.

What work are you doing, without a creative director, a producer, a boss, or a client?

What projects have you started? What are you teaching yourself on your own? What audience are you already leading by just doing what you do every day?

We Know Everything Now

Hearing and reading a lot more conversations that pertain to leaving social media, or at least lessening the habitual checking-in. The magnetic pull of “likes,” as well as the “fear of missing out” on something that happened 12 seconds ago.

“Is the never-ending psychic tinnitus of social media worth suffering through in the ever-dwindling hope that you’ll be exposed to something enriching, thanks to algorithms that favor paid advertising and “growth hacking?” The answer–for me, at least–is increasingly no.”
Escaping the Social Media Morass and Rediscovering Delight,’ by Tenebrous Kate

There is still value in “getting the word out,” of course, for both projects and worthy causes, but the problem is noise. Everyone is getting the word out. Everyone knows someone who has a GoFundMe. Every town has some asshole that got caught doing horrible things.

In 1998 or so I remember this interaction with a friend. I started telling a story, and before I got too far along they said, “yeah, I know, I read your Xanga.”

Now in 2018, 20 years later, we know what our friends are eating in real time. Or we can watch a video from the show they’re at right this second. That immediacy can be overwhelming at times.

What do we do with that information? We take in the videos, the cute filters, the badly lit and even worse sounding concert footage, and then… then what?

We know so much now, and yet we know so little.

Look In Lots of Places

The JUMPSUIT (“An experiment in counter-fashion brought to you by the members of The Rational Dress Society”) bewilders me, but it’s the best sort of bewilderment.

I’m not much of a “fashion” person but checking out how other industries operate is always a good thing. Sure, I know what a band’s website is supposed to look like, or a label, or a festival (I’ve been visiting them and building them since 2001 afterall), but fashion stuff? No idea.

As I mentioned, just keep copying. Copying is how I built my first band website back in the 90s (which I think it was for The Overdrives or Muckraker; PA PUNK REPRESENT). Those sites weren’t great, of course, but recently I set up Zao’s website, copying the general theme of how many one-page band websites are done these days.

(link, Kottke)

 

Just Keep Copying

Tweet via Austin Kleon

I’ve been telling people over the years that they better start an email list. Social media is on a collision course for the sun (or a Nazi takeover, whichever happens first), so better to get ahead of that disaster with an exit plan. To me, that’s an email list.

Everyone has an email address. If everyone has social media, they had to use an email address to sign up for the account. Every. Has. An. Email. Address.

That doesn’t mean everyone has a tidy email inbox, but that’s their own fault. They probably follow 234234 social media accounts, too. Lost souls.

When discussing email lists, after the initial “ewwww, how boring” faces, the subject turns to “well, what would I even send out?”

Well, copy somebody’s style, even if you’re not copying their emails. What do the cool brands bands and labels send out to their social media feeds? Ummm, cool photos. Some quirky copy. Probably mentions of places they’ll be, or things they have to sell. Congrats, you’re now an email marketer.

Now, the first email you send out will suck compared to the tenth, but you have to start at number one, so just get it over with. Sign up for a Mailchimp account, make some mistakes, and before you know it you’ll have your own style.

Twitter Actually Made Money

The social media sewage pool that I call Twitter actually turned a profit, its first since 2006.

It may not grow into an advertising behemoth like Facebook, but at least it’s no longer sinking. And if it can keep turning a modest profit, that’s something—except for lingering problems of abuse and hatred on the platform, and the rampant bot problem that may or may not have affected the 2016 US election and the UK Brexit vote.

If you’re trying to get noticed on Twitter, good luck. They are not in the business of sending you free traffic, and I’m guessing soon we’ll see more throttling of traffic from feeds that just send out link after link, begging for a click.

Saving Lives with Cameras

A camera changed Devin Allen’s life, and he’s using that to better the lives of kids in Baltimore, MD.

One camera, an encouraging word, $5 thrown at a GoFundMe; if a camera can change one person’s life, could it change another? Could it help change 10 kid’s lives?

We can ponder and debate but we’re wasting our time. Devin is just doing it, with or without your help. Will your $10 matter? Who knows? But letting go of a few dollars (right here) could unlease something in the cosmic soup and make the world a better place.

Facebook Hates You

Matt Klinman of Funny Or Die had some pretty harsh words for Facebook, and for good reason.

Today, there’s no reason to go to a comedy website that has a video if that video is just right on Facebook. And that would be fine if Facebook compensated those companies for the ad revenue that was generated from those videos, but because Facebook does not pay publishers, there quickly became no money in making high-quality content for the internet.

Read his full interview over at Split Sider – it’s fucking good (and check out his Twitter).

Think about this; this is Funny or Die, not some small band trying to get 50 people to a gig. Or getting a dozen people to your local political event. Facebook throttles what your fans see, so rather that show your fans some tour dates it’ll show them a funny cat video that 324 shared in the last hour.

Your new video premiere? Buried under an avalanche of political drama and probably some post from a music blog about some guy playing a cover of a Metallica song with a kazoo.

Think your fans will see your post about crowdfunding your next EP? Nah, some celeb wore a Megadeth shirt!

Facebook will not help you. Twitter doesn’t care about you being harassed. Tumblr is owned by YAHOO. Instagram is owned by Zuckerburg and turning into trash by the minute.

I implore you: buy a domain name, build an email list, and send some goodies to your fans using the mail.

“But I’ll lose my 21,381 followers,” you may say. Chances are you’re only reaching 0.1% of those followers anyway, so revel in the 200 people on your email list. At least you can reach all of them.

Glowing After Weary Travels

My flight was delayed, and two babies screamed pretty much the entire duration like it was their jobs (which, as a friend mentioned, is sort of their actual job). We hit a good amount of turbulence which made me think the baby screaming wasn’t actually that bad. You know, compared to us falling out of the sky and plummeting to our demise.

A number of people nearby kept trading glances at the parents of the screaming children. Mind you, this was a three-hour flight. If a few hours of baby screaming is the worst thing to happen to you all day, on a budget-class flight, be thankful.

As I wrote about before, sometimes we have to sit through things to arrive at better things.

I’ve had to run every other day for nearly two years before I could casually head out for a seven mile run with no great pain or discomfort.

To completely avoid screaming babies, scary turbulence, and a snowy 30-minute delay, I would have to cancel all my plans and just stay indoors. But I would have missed sitting on a dock, or running along a waterway, or having a good conversation with an old friend.

All those things are glowing, but they’re never automatic. They don’t come easy, as is the case with most things worth experiencing.

Midnight Writing

Perhaps it’s the nature of blog writing in 2018. A less connected medium, free from a socially networked place where we’ve remained logged in for several months without ever needing to remember our password. After not writing like this a year or more, with no expecting audience, it’s a bit freeing.

Midnight writing can go two ways; either it’s on a deadline, cramming to finish some arbitrary word count for an editor at 7 am, or it’s typing away at something that might never be read by more than a dozen people. In either case, the night is still and only odd sounds disrupt the clacking of the keyboard; either ghosts or some intruder (though neither are the case 100% of the time).

Writing at the midnight hour, for no one, for myself, for someone who might read this seven months from now. Its purpose unknown at the time, other than an urge to write, and tending to the desires of the muse is advisable (please see ‘Turning Pro’ for Steven Pressfield). Maybe this writing gets published and it gets 20 clicks, or maybe it moves one person to tears or action or rage and their entire universe is uprooted.

That’s why there’s midnight writing. Or the graffiti artist operating under the moonlight. A musician recording one more take on their laptop before diving into bed before another shift in the morning.

Its midnight, and we must write.

Bags

When I hit the road back in 2010 on my bike I used a Chrome messenger bag. Eventually, I switched to a Chrome Yalta, and that was my go-to bag for many years. I’ve got a Goruk GR1 which I really don’t use enough, but it’s a great bag for day trips or hikes in the woods.

Then I started running in 2016, and could finally run longer distances, so when I traveled I wanted to be able to run once I got to my destination. Packing extra shoes, shirts, shorts, and jackets… running gear takes up some serious space.

I purchased a Patagonia 60L Black Hole Duffel Bag in February of 2017, so almost a year now. It’s big enough for an extra pair of shoes, running gear, regular clothes, and a small Timbuk 2 laptop sling (I usually check this duffel when flying, or throw in the cargo hold of the bus, then keep the laptop bag with me). In between buses and trains I can throw it over my shoulder with the hand straps, and if going extra distances I break out the straps and carry it on my back.