Memoire Writing

Through Media to the Self

What I learned launching, and landing, a media startup.

Part 6

The Only Way Out Is Through

I published two final posts in February 2018, while in limbo in Tucson, just to catch up and have some closure. 

The brief history provided in that final post is one that I could publicly digest, at the time. What I’ve provided in this memoire is the dramatic truth of the life of a dreamer with inadequate circumstances to realize his dream. The truth of our content is available to examine at I should have just kept it at the original, I only saved a few bucks.

The truth of why the majority of small businesses fail within the first year should come down to the capacity of the owner to weather the storms of market fluctuations, unexpected costs, and subjective factors like their own ego.

A lot of my worst decisions came with some really fun times. I survived them. I didn’t always learn, because the process was so full of drama that I could not see the essence of my problems through the weeds of the story. That is one way to repeat mistakes. 

I try to guide myself by the light that reveals the darkness, rather than by avoiding the darkness. By reflecting on what has gone terribly wrong in my life, making it publicly available, I can use the light of revelation to see the path ahead and to remove the venom of my failures — maybe somebody learns something from it.

It also isn’t fun to deal with the consequences when they become bigger than you. This is true even when the outcome is successful. Taking responsibility for these kind of bootstrap projects will be overwhelming when they actually work out. Like THRU, aspects can be successful while the parts dragging can make it hard to maintain responsibility for the part that is working. Better have an idea of what is coming when there is success.

With so many successes and failures behind me, I am now wary of the peaks and valleys of any venture. I would rely much more on research and I would ask for critique, were I to launch a podcast, or anything. I would try to predict more of the positive and negative outcomes of my ideas, should they be executed. I would give myself a list of ideas and alternatives.

Starting from rock bottom is not a good place to start when you’re trying to support a project. The logic revealed now is that I felt I had nothing to lose. I wasn’t risking any personal fortune, or professional reputation. I could only go up, in theory.

Belief is a powerful tool to draw a bridge between fantasy and reality. It is a raft that carries you over the choppy water from doubt to certainty. The power of belief is that it can be the determining factor in manifesting your true destiny.

Sometimes you believe in what you’re doing but you know where you are, and other times you believe in your belief of what you’re doing and you cannot see where you are. This is true of cult followings. You have to know you have a fantasy going, so when that goal is met, the belief becomes obsolete, because you know where you are, you have reached the other side. That should be humbling, but it can be ego boosting.

In the case of THRU, it did not truly manifest. It went to sleep in the realm of belief.

Now, I live in obscurity, uninvolved with my community for the most part, in North Philadelphia. Part of me likes being an outsider, mostly uninvolved in the happenings of my city, not expected to write commentary for its art scene, not trying to change the political dynamics. Not even trying to make it as a musician. I’m still being creative. Maybe that’s how I’ll maintain my happiness, my personal stability, by doing what I do and not seeking any particular outcome.

I didn’t enjoy the person I became, either. Stress and pressure from it all came with an emotional toll. I got what comes with the position that my ego demanded of itself, whether or not I earned that position from the merit of my leadership.

Maybe this means that I’m better prepared than ever to lead. Humility is an important aspect of leadership and I have been deeply humbled by the totality of life experiences up to now.

In retrospect, I will add, if there was an alternative reality, my best bet was probably not starting a magazine. It might have been quite a bit more efficient in terms of developing my career as an arts journalist or online personality, if I had just stuck with myself, no branding, no bigger vision, the way that I started at SXSW in 2012.

Ingrid Horton tried to tell me this before Ambit. She suggested that I be the brand, the whole bit. I didn’t believe in myself in that way. Or I was greedy. I thought I could make real money with a brand. The insecurity of using my name, having no celebrity value, and the fear of becoming famous in a subconscious way kept me from doing just that.

Only thing is I was actually Portland famous at that time, which is enough to form a base. I had YouTube subscribers thanks to some random content that performed well. 

I’m finally doing that concept right here, with this blog, but I am not famous anywhere anymore. 

My motto these days is that until I’m forty, I have that time to get younger. Nobody gets that. It means I’m using the end of my youthful thirties to reestablish myself. To give it another go before letting go.

Whatever comes of life now will be by the graces of others and the natural outcome of honoring the deepest sense of what life should look like based on a purpose that isn’t exactly mine to know, from a spiritual standpoint.

Now, we close in on the title of the article. Through media, I found myself. It tested my integrity and humbled my ego. It expanded my literacy and changed my perspective on how the world works. 

There have been many blows to the ego since THRU. It was a growing up stage. I was surprisingly innocent before starting and came out more experienced and grown up.

Kate and I fulfilled the promise of making the move back east. We spent months in Tucson preparing for the next step and decided on Philadelphia, out of compromise.

In Why, AZ saying goodbye to the west

We didn’t get there without calling off the marriage, however. We kind of stayed together just to help each other. It was a friendship to the highest degree. We helped each other and gradually grew apart.

I seem to be on the verge of breaking back into media, if I can follow through. I ended up on comedian Sam Tripoli’s Patreon podcasts and I’ll soon be part of a stock trading finance show with my friend from high school, Dan Leeson.

Certain things, I trust, will fall in place if this is my purpose, or part of it. The more you try to build your purpose by yourself, for yourself, the more it cannot sustain. I constantly catch myself being misled by ego.

Something tells me that multimedia is my purpose, but music is part of that, so these are the things I need to focus on, in addition to building wealth, so that I can be an anchor, rather than a sail. A good vessel really needs both.

As the post-covid media revolution sets in, new social norms are setting in. It is now common to have a video chat space in the house. Work and even broadcast media is taking place largely outside of studios. Podcasts have exploded. Independent researchers are giving mainstream news a serious challenge as platforms that support them are growing.

No doubt, Marshall McLuhan saw this global computer network coming and discussed it in his books. Long before the internet as we know it, he saw the tribal aspects coming back as we exited the hot print media and immersed in the cool visual-auditory media, like ancient oral society where verbal relationships signaled tribes. It is true, and this new kind of media does support increasingly small outfits that generate increasing niche of content, far surpassing the early broadcast network miracles of satellite television with its hundred channels. We now have limitless channels.

Almost a decade later, I would now be happy to enjoy that small following and be the personality-brand. If it happens or not, that is the cliffhanger to this story.

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