“If you’re purely after facts, please buy yourself the phone directory of Manhattan. It has four million times correct facts. But it doesn’t illuminate.” —Werner Herzog
We nearly lost toes, fingers, friends, two RED cameras, a scooter, three computers and photographer Quinn Matthews making this. And we missed the deadline.
Generally, making a magazine consists of several well-orchestrated meetings among an educated collective in well lit, artfully decorated and air-conditioned rooms surrounded by cubicles and skeptical accountants. Strategies, stories and angles are pitched and approved and all systems go. Phones ring and e-mails mail. Shit gets done. Our process, however, is a little different.
And I realized this charming quality outside a cheeseburger stand in Bali at 3 a.m. It was a week before the “scheduled” deadline and not a single word had been written. The only thing underway was a pen pal exchange with the fascinating photographer Henrik Purienne. Quinn Matthews was on assignment and lost in Australia and ruining family weddings in Mexico. Nate Lawrence and Kai were at sea filming for Cluster, so we had their stuff, or we did until Kai broke his foot pig dogging at maxing Macaronis.
So I sat, nostrils filled with the burning potpourri of Bali, seriously trying to understand soccer, and I realized I’ve never really liked PowerPoint, decks, boardrooms or accounting much. And we’d put a mini ramp in where the cubicles should be. So I decided this was how it’s meant to be.
I witnessed a goal (my first) on the television at the outdoor burger stop,; saddled back onto Blake Myers’ scooter and we went home. Didn’t really sleep much. Might have been the deadline stress. Or maybe it was the earthquake that night, the mosquitos in my ear, the rats running in the walls, thieves on the roof, ghosts haunting the villa, the beginning of Ramadan (5 a.m. chanting), pouring rain, incessant frog croaking, wild dogs or that deadline stress. I guess I’ll never know. But the next day, we attempted a celebratory lunch toast to send me home from Indo with a bucket of ideas and good vibes, until someone broke into the villa Kai rented and tried to take our gear. Luckily a scooter driven by the cleaners scared them off and we only lost 50 bucks and a phone. So that meeting was cancelled too.
Long story short, no, we didn’t meet deadline. I think we’re a week or two or probably more off. But the truth is, we’re not here making “content,” — as many firms like to call it. We’re making something else. “Content” is not experiencing, entertaining or fucking awesome in any way. It’s a homogenized version of our culture that sucks out all the fucked up parts and packages it for comfortable consumption. All the illumination dulled from the beginning. The wild, chipped teeth and bad words and renegades running around that make us us get watered down until it satisfies spreadsheets and leaves you with the same empty feeling you get when you read the caption of a Quiksilver Instagram post. Approved by the entire staff: plain oatmeal cliché with no butter, washed down with water. Sin gas.
Hopefully they meet their deadlines. Because we sure don’t, but we do have this. And you. —What Youth