“I’mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time! One of the best videos of all time!” [Kanye West, MTV Video Music Awards, Sept. 13, 2009]
Telecommuting to Los Angeles from New York was like wearing a Size 10 dress labeled a Size 4.
I woke up at 10am and logged into Basecamp from my phone before idling another hour in bed listening to public radio debate Bloomberg’s bid for extending mayoral term limits. I said his name out loud: Mike Bloomberg. It always made me laugh that our mayor was called Mike. I had three hours before LA would come online, and made use of the time to buy groceries at the neighborhood farmer’s market for once. I came back with what outside of the context of a big table of bushels, appeared to be an absurd amount of Swiss chard. I set the fronds in a big glass vase, and opened a notebook to write in as a journal. I got frustrated with the mundanity of my observations and finally gave up. Fanning through it like a flip book, I looked for one time frame in my life where I was more inspired. Or tortured.
I looked up at my shelf, stacked with spiral bound journals, and thought about pulling down 2004 before deciding against thinking about “the Peter years.” I remembered the conversation I’d had with Aaron about blow jobs and flipped back to present day and started transcribing what I could remember. I looked up to a full-blown God ray of Sun beaming into my bedroom corner-cum-office and went to open a window for the full ultraviolet experience, but smelling tractor exhaust from a nearby construction site, slammed it shut and locked it for effect.
I logged on to my work computer and started to parse the email notifications when Johnny pinged.
Yo, you up?
Ha wait why are you answering.
(I’ll give you a second to answer that yourself).
What do you want.
Did you see the link to the TED talk I sent?
I searched for the message in question and saw a time-stamp of 1am.
What were you doing up at 1am working?
I never sleep more than 3 hours at a time. It’s the Da Vinci thing. It makes me more productive. 1am is my magic hour.
I rolled my eyes. I checked that my camera wasn’t on.
That must do wonders for your diurnal rhythm.
What’s diurnal mean? :B
Hmmm interesting. <Link to dictionary.com definition of “diurnal rhythm”>
That’s a great word. I’m going to have to keep this one.
I rolled my eyes again and thought of narrating it. My eyeballs are rolling, Johnny. Of course he had to “keep” the things he learned; like possessions. I sighed and asked if he wanted an opinion about the TED talk. I said it would take me at least 8 minutes. He didn’t get the joke. No rush.
Aside from his not having been invited to speak at the TED conference ever, the speaker series Johnny had been trying to develop for White Paper as an alternative to TED was not supposed to come off as a petty grievance. Yet our dependably opportunistic brain trust was to come up with a counterpoint event that would succeed by all the virtues the TED talks could not fulfill: an unlimited amount of time for speakers to talk freely about any subject, to an invitation-only audience of other speakers—a cottage industry of thought. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts to continue disliking everything Johnny came up with, I quite liked this concept. TED talks were a gateway to anti-intellectualism and I was only so happy to prove this point even if it were on behalf of someone who used dictionary.com
Johnny and I were actually productively brainstorming. I got excited at the prospect of all the talented people I would get to invite to speak at such a conference. I suggested that because we knew our silos so well, it would be easy enough for each of us to own certain tracts of subject matter—streetwear and digital media for him; music and publishing for me.
And females, he added. I knew what he meant but asked him to clarify.
You know, you could be in charge of finding female speakers. Isn’t that a thing? Like, there aren’t enough females at these kinds of events? You said it yourself.
My eyeballs. Jesus. I’m dizzy. But did I want to do him the back-handed favor of “policing” his use of the word “female” now, avoiding a social spanking, or do I let him dig his own grave? But the truth was: I knew I would become tasked with finding the outliers (shivers)—the women, the gays, the non-whites, non-Asians…of this project. In any case we’d found an accord here. Neither of us was particularly fond of TED. Johnny because his betters were all invited to speak at it, and me because nothing meaningful happens in eight minutes of video.
Do you think you could write a white paper about TED? He asked.
Why was he saying “white paper” like it was proprietary jargon? I must have missed this conversation. I always thought “white paper” was the name of the company because it represented something like a blank slate, but followed my own advice and googled “what is a white paper” instead of asking Johnny what he meant.
I read a preview of the first result, from Wikipedia: an authoritative report or guide that concisely informs readers about a complex issue.
OMG “white paper” is a thing.
You learn something new every day. I would have to keep this one.