24 5 / 2013
08 4 / 2013
"Besides selling banner displays and short ads that play before its videos, Vice offers its advertisers the option of funding an entire project in exchange for being listed as co-creator and having editorial input. Advertisers can pay for a single video, or, for a higher price—one to five million dollars for twelve episodes, according to Vice—they can pay for an entire series, on a topic that dovetails with the company’s image. (The North Face, the outdoors company, recently sponsored a series called “Far Out,” in which Vice staffers visit people living in “the most remote places on Earth.”)"
When I drove around the country for 10 weeks in 2011, it was during a road trip sponsored by Ford and Visa, almost two years before “native advertising” was printed in seemingly every other media story you were reading this week. The credit card company didn’t ask me to do a single thing during the project; Ford asked that we make a video inside an enormous production facility on the fringes of Chicago that, as reporters, we would have been prohibited from visiting. We were guided by minders to specific areas of the plant but we were never told what we were or were not allowed to shoot. Ford did not approve our final video or our final story.
A few weeks later, Ford asked us to contact a dealer in, as I recall, the Carolinas to set up another shoot. When I called the dealer and left a voicemail, he didn’t return my call. I took that as a sign that I was off the hook. I didn’t hear another word from Ford for the rest of the trip, even after I attempted to bake cookies on the engine block of their loaner vehicle while driving the Natchez Trace Parkway (failure) or after I warmed up some Pop Tarts on the engine block the morning of the final Space Shuttle launch (success). In multiple published photos, Stephen Greenwood, the videographer who was on the road with me, was standing on top of the vehicle, which is probably not in line with the stated marketing goals of the company. And yet, my phone didn’t ring.
Meanwhile, because we had the financial backing of two sponsors and, at this point, complete editorial freedom, we decided to do stories about a nascent art colony in small-town Kentucky, a community-minded T-shirt shop in New Orleans, the rebuilding of a tornado-ravaged town in Missouri, the weirdness of Marfa, Texas and a “spaceport” in the New Mexico desert. I also called South of the Border the country’s biggest tourist trap and pointed out that “lazy Mexican” is not an appropriate theme for a highway rest stop, a point with which some AOL readers took considerable umbrage.
In a post-mortem of the 10-week project, a business-side manager who helped broker the sales package recognized that we did a fantastic job hitting our deliverables, which were, both in his mind and on paper, a set amount of traffic from both viral clicks and placements on the front of AOL.com. Because of our story selection and execution, we hit the goals in five weeks, not the allotted 10, and I thought that was something worth bragging about. He disagreed: Couldn’t we get the same amount of clicks without sending people out on the road to create this kind of original content?
07 3 / 2013
"You tried to change didn’t you?
closed your mouth more
tried to be softer
less volatile, less awake
but even when sleeping you could feel
him travelling away from you in his dreams
so what did you want to do love
split his head open?
you can’t make homes out of human beings
someone should have already told you that
and if he wants to leave
then let him leave
you are terrifying
and strange and beautiful
something not everyone knows how to love."
02 3 / 2013
Here’s the latest round up of recent writings I’ve had published.
This past month I started writing for Movies.com, Fandango and have another potential gig or two in the works. I still am not making what could be called a “living” from writing, which feels impossible given how much I write.
I like when they say “dolphinately” on Kroll Show.
28 1 / 2013
"You may not agree with a woman, but to criticize her appearance — as opposed to her ideas or actions — isn’t doing anyone any favors, least of all you. Insulting a woman’s looks when they have nothing to do with the issue at hand implies a lack of comprehension on your part, an inability to engage in high-level thinking. You may think she’s ugly, but everyone else thinks you’re an idiot."
22 1 / 2013