RW217 - Mary Tyler Moore Days

This week, Dan and John talk about:

  • John having chocolate for breakfast (Food and Drink)
  • Dan trying to buy a PlayStation 5 (Technology)
  • People with their own clothing line, wearing your own merch (Style)
  • SnapChat Spectacles (Technology)
  • John not being a gamer because he has no interest in killing hordes of zombies (Technology)
  • Video games killing zombies as a proxy for xenophobia (Politics)
  • John no longer being on social media, are all Jawas girls? (Internet and Social Media)
  • People discussing if John’s Patreon is worth the $5 (Patreon)

Bonus-content for Patreon supporters:

  • People criticizing John for how he talks about Millennial Girlfriend (Friends)
  • Dan’s Patreon, Disasterproof, Continued discussion about John’s Patreon (Dan Benjamin)
  • Dan doing voice work as part of his job (Dan Benjamin)
  • What is the relationship to John’s daughter’s mother? (Relationships)

The show title refers to wearing the SnapChat Spectacles through New York when they came out.

Dan is too busy these days.

Raw notes
The segments below are raw notes that have not been edited for language, structure, references, or readability. Please do not quote these texts directly without applying your own editing first! These notes were not planned to be released in this form, but time constraints have caused a shift in priorities and have delayed editing draft-quality versions to a later point.

John having chocolate for breakfast (RW217)

Over on The Omnibus Project someone heard John talking about chocolate bars and they sent him a case of Canadian chocolate bars called Jersey Milks in the style of a British or European chocolate bar that doesn't have all that delicious Hershey's wax, but instead has buttery milk and John had one for breakfast with a big cup of coffee and is going to be all fired up here. Dan reads a few sentences from the Wikipedia page for Jersey Milk. John received a box directly from Canada containing 24 45-gram bars, which is a regular sized candy bar.

Whenever he has a chocolate bar for breakfast he always regrets it because he is going to have some sugar zoom and then crash and then he will be all off kilter and whatever food he does eat today will be in the wrong position, but he has made that choice and he is going to live according to that.

Dan trying to buy a PlayStation 5 (RW217)

Dan is getting help from a guy to get the PlayStation 5 for his kids who have been wanting it since 2 months before it was announced. They are primarily being sold online and they are very scarce and there are scalpers who use scripts as soon as some become available. Their bots will find it, buy as many as they are allowed with multiple accounts, and sell them on eBay at a huge markup. The thing is around $400 and the scalpers will buy 50 of them, all 50 that were at one store, and then sell them on eBay for $1200 apiece and those go fast, too! Dan will pay the guy a bounty if he can get him one of these things. Dan does not think that the playing experience of this thing is going to be worth all this hullabaloo, but his kids sure do.

People with their own clothing line, wearing your own merch (RW217)

The CEO of Snapchat, who was 27 years old, prefers those shirts, so he got 100 of them so that all of his crew had the same look of a college student. John found it all just ludicrous! Steve Jobs at least bought that black turtleneck off the rack. Dan thinks they were expensive and Jony Ive had T-shirts that were super expensive that he basically had custom made and then he bought hundreds of them. Dan always wanted to get John’s take on this. If he came out with a clothing line, like Greg Norman the Australian golfer came out with a line of clothing.

He famously wore an Aussie-style outback style hat, the equivalent of an American cowboy hat. He was known as The Shark and his apparel line and the golfers were all getting Greg Norman shirts with a little shark logo on them. He would wear his own stuff, part of it was branding and advertising, he was really good at marketing, but a lot of the time when all the employees of a company are wearing T-shirts with the logo on it and the CEO never does. Dan has always been torn because eventually he will have a huge clothing and apparel line as well: What is the right optics on this? Do you want to wear your own brand that way, or is the operator of the company or the brand above wearing his own stuff?

The only person in Rock’n’Roll that can wear their own merch is Lemmy. Him wearing a Motörhead T-shirt was fine. Everyone accepted that Lemmy was Motörhead and Motörhead was Lemmy and who better to wear a Motörhead T-shirt. No-one else in Rock’n’Roll ever tried to do that and the only time John ever had a Long Winters T-shirt on his body was in Europe toward the end of a tour when he had no clean clothes, they had slept in the van, they woke up in Switzerland or Austria and they were going to spend the day in an a apartment before the show and John was sitting in the van, spilled coffee or something, and he had to put on a Long Winters shirt to walk from the van to the apartment and even then he was: ”Wow, I am honestly wearing a Long Winters T-shirt right now!”

If John had a brand like Ralph Lauren he doesn’t think he would wear his own brand, but the clothes that inspired the brand. Ralph Lauren can afford to wear the clothes that the rest of us can't. He can afford to wear the clothes that he made Ralph Lauren clothes to imitate so that we could all wear those clothes instead of having to pay the real money for the clothes.

The thing about the Snapchat clothes was that it was part of that they exemplified the San Francisco / California tech mentality where the clothes themselves were meant to look completely regular, just T-shirt and jeans, except that the T-shirts cost $1200 because they were made out of alpaca or something. At one point John was getting off an airplane at SFO, walking through the airport, and everybody in that terminal was really dressed down in jeans and regular looking shirts and he was thinking there was something a little off and he was sensing something about this crowd. Eventually he realized that they were all wearing $900 shoes, leather Italian, shiny Bluchers or whatnot.

At that point in time John had never seen it before because in Seattle tech they all wear T-shirts and hoodies, but they also wear shitty shoes. They take the shittiness all the way, they don't stop at the shoes and get nice. In Seattle the hoodies are all garbage hoodies, too, not made out of alpaca.

SnapChat Spectacles (RW217)

Millennial Girlfriend was working for Snapchat, John might have signed a non-disclosure agreement then, that was during the moment when the Snapchat Spectacles were released and they both went to New York City for the big debut and there was a pop up store across from the Apple store and lines around the block and people were hiring line-sitters to wait in line for them all day and Kanye came up and there was a big to do because a woman showed up and made a huge ”Do you know who I am?” scene and it turned out she was Geoffrey Beene's wife (from the shoe company) and she felt that that was significant enough of a connection that she should be able to jump the line. All day long it was a crazy to do.

Millennial Girlfriend was a lawyer for the company and she was in New York to handle any legal issues that might have popped up in this whole kablooey. She and John went down to the big pop up store, they were ushered in through a secret entrance to this warehouse and met everybody, shaking hands, and met the woman who designed the glasses. John thought the glasses were very cool looking, although they were purposeless and then there was this vending machine at the end of a long hallway and there were a bunch of kids standing around in what looked like normal polo shirts and khaki pants, but Millennium Girlfriend explained that they were actually cashmere shirts.

The point of the Snapchat glasses thing was that John and Millennium Girlfriend were given the opportunity, even though she was an executive at the company, this was a thing where they were given the opportunity to walk up to the to the machine, which looked like a Coke machine, interact with the machine, which was supposed to be fun, it had a screen and had some prompts and it was fun, there was a person standing next to the machine and help you interact with it, and they were allotted one pair of glasses each and one extra pair for friends and family.

They were $200 or something, they each got a pair, for her it was tax deductible, it was her own company's product, and John got a pair and got a text message from Matt Haughey saying: ”I will pay you a very large markup if you can get me one of these glasses!” and John stood there at the machine, looked at the glasses, and there was this pregnant moment where the person working the machine looked at them both and said: ”Well, are you going to get your other pair?” because most people were not able to get two pairs, you were limited to one pair per person.

Right now somewhere in Venice, California or on a loading dock somewhere in Pakistan there are 10 million of those glasses sitting in boxes that no one will ever use and they are just waiting to be sent to a crusher somewhere, but it was this false scarcity of the moment, and John looked thought about this text from Matt Haughey and was like: ”You don't really want one of these and also I don't want to charge you any amount of money and I don't want to be some kind of mule, carrying these things around, fighting off Kanye!” and they limited themselves to one pair each.

Then they walked down 4th Avenue, wearing their glasses, having a Mary Tyler Moore day fan fugue and whoever Snapchat was paying to create the hysteria earned every dollar because they absolutely created total hysteria. Those glasses were going for $900 on eBay for many days, but those glasses were worthless, less than useless, and in his entire life there was never such an exclamation point put on a moment for John as being witness to that close up to that thing where leading up to that day no-one in the whole enterprise, billionaires and a company of thousands of people and designers and tech people and marketing people ever looked at those glasses and said: ”Wait, these don't do anything! Nobody is going to use this. These aren't useful!”, but the whole way it was: ”The Emperor has no clothes!”

John not being a gamer because he has no interest in killing hordes of zombies (RW217)

John bought a pair of those Oculus virtual reality headset things and it wasn't until he got them home and put them on and played with them for a few hours that he realized this wasn’t really ready for primetime either and these are not as much fun as he hoped and the reality of these doesn’t live up to the promise. John is not a gamer, though. The main difference between him and Gamers is that he takes no pleasure in killing zombies, which is a major part of gaming. Killing large numbers of somebodies is what a lot of gaming is based around. There are a few earthly beings that John would take pleasure in killing in a game that constantly have given him trouble and strife over the years, but he hopes he will never interact with a horde, certainly when he has any responsibility to kill them.

John’s response is going to be an avoidance response, he doesn’t want to interact with a horde. Whenever human beings gather in large numbers and start to move as a single organism he gets to the edge as fast as he can and makes sure that he has 6-7 different exits, he doesn’t lock and load, no matter how many laser cannons you gave him. When he was a video game, playing big console video games at the Tastee-Freez you had a little mono-legged Qbert snork that was jumping up and down on a pyramid, if you were playing Defender you were being swarmed by spaceships, but you could imagine that those were drones, they didn't look like they were manned spaceships.

In Missile Command you were fighting missiles and there were no people in the missiles, it was a purely defensive game. Space Invaders were invaders, but they were weird crab monsters that were coming in a horde, but it was less a swarm than it was just marching in formation like crab monsters. Gallagher was literally a swarm of bees and bugs. When video games first came out there was all that hullabaloo in the press about how video games were bad and violent, the same crowd of people that were saying that Dungeons and Dragons turned everybody into a devil worshiper. There was a lot of hand-wringing in the culture at the time about what was happening to our kids.

Video games killing zombies as a proxy for xenophobia (RW217)

Early video games were mostly about shooting bugs and ships and alien invaders. If they had explicitly been about killing humans, then video games could have become contraband. That was very conscious on the part of video game designers at the time, maybe not because they anticipated the controversy so much as that it was just a natural taboo that is not the way games were played. John had a ringside seat for the decades-long debate about whether violence in movies and video games begets violence in the world, he knows the hot takes.

Gamers, movie fans, and all culture makers and consumers will fight you with their last breath saying that mass murder video games, movies, slasher films and all of the above have zero effect on whether or not there is violence in the world, but John does not weigh in on this take publicly because he has done it before and he has gotten 1000 angry gamers coming after him with whatever studies, statistics, or proof they have, but John doesn’t want to read them and doesn’t want to hear your defense of violence in media.

It isn't for him, he doesn’t consume that stuff with relish, and he talked about it a lot on different platforms that he just feel like all the zombie media is just a transparent proxy for xenophobes. There are no zombies in the world, so what excitement are we stimulating in ourselves when we cast zombies as the other? The excitement is the other, other races. Those hordes are invaders, they don't look like us, and it strikes a primitive chord in us. Zombies are always othered just enough that we can call them white walkers and distance ourselves from their humanity. We mourn their death when they became zombies and now their corporeal form is just something to murder.

That is how we talk about the other. When we go to war against the Turks as they come across the Danube we have always spent a lot of time and effort in a propaganda campaign to dehumanize them, so the stigma is taken away in war and you watch the way that the people at America's southern border are dehumanized for political purposes to justify all manner of inhumanity and a whole slice of American people really picture a faceless brown horde massed at the Southern border waiting to flood over the magic wall.

Not just video games, but all the movies and television shows that are a hardy, ragtag band of fast talking, leather-jacketed cool kids that are forced together to make their way across a desolate landscape that used to be their home, this used to be where they lived, but their towns are now burned and if you make a sound the zombies come and steal your canned food. It tickles you because it is xenophobia which is baked into us all. There are an awful lot of people that in one breath are super-antiracist, super-anti-xenophobe, super-one-world-one-planet-one-people and in the other breath are stroking it over here as they super-murder a horde that is coming over the wall.

John doesn’t know how to keep both of those emotional thoughts separate in his heart because if you are stroking that in yourself, it is like eating raw liver: You can go out into the world and you can have your elevated thoughts and your enlightened beliefs, but in your heart the game you are playing is something very different. John has made that critique a lot of times before and people debate it and he has never felt that people have really taken up that charge or raised up that banner because: ”Why bother!” Keep your head down! Who cares? The last thing John wants now is for gamers to be mad at him.

Even though Gamers are a hundreds of millions of dollars industry that is completely mainstream in every way, and all media is made for them now, they still retain that feeling that there are a persecuted minority, which is again another element of our culture that is ripe for critique because everyone is a persecuted minority now, especially the most mainstream, largest groups. The Republican Party feels like it is a persecuted minority, American Christians feel like they are a persecuted minority, and it has just become the lingua franca of the day, and that, too, is a manipulation. In our culture we have figured out that that is how you get people to donate money to your cause, that is how you get them to rally behind your flag.

That has always been true: Hitler stood up and said the Germans were a persecuted minority in their own country and everybody rallied to him, but now it has been commercialized so that you can put on a certain tennis shoe and feel like that tennis shoe puts you in a class of people that are being denied their rights, so you better buy more and you better fight and go into the world with a mentality that you have to fight. Gamers are bigger than the Republican Party, but they would listen to John and not just be like: ”Old man, you don’t know what you are talking about!” or consider the idea and go: ”Maybe, but I can keep those two worlds separate in my emotions and I can be for peace and justice on one side and then go into a dark room and stroke it about killing tens of thousands!”

10% of the responses feel like John is attacking them personally, attacking their values, and he is coming at them as a representative of the mainstream, which is the Parents Music Resource Center headed by Tipper Gore (Mary Elizabeth Aitcheson Gore) and we are trying to put stickers on their video games. It is the exact same mentality that the gun owners have: ”They are coming for our guns and we white Americans who are stockpiling guns are the persecuted minority in this country and we not only circle the wagons, but go into a frothing panic every time the topic is brought up!” That is John’s polemical for the day. Please address all your angry letters to Dan!

John no longer being on social media, are all Jawas girls? (RW217)

Not being on Twitter and not being on Facebook now John no longer has a platform in the middle of the night when he comes up with something. His kid this morning came in wearing a blanket over her head and she said: ”Guess what I am!” - ”A Jawa” and whether she intended to be a java or not she played along and said: ”Did you know that all Jawas are girls?” - ”Huh!” and in one line it changed the whole Star Wars universe for him. ”All the Jawas are girls!” Dan doesn’t that is true, but what are you going to do now? If all the Jawas are girls how are you going to reconcile their behavior? You thought you knew what the Jawas were and now it turns out you were wrong and the Jawa males are in a cave somewhere or they live in trees, but the Jawas was that we interact with are all female.

If John was still on Twitter, that would be a thing that I absolutely would have to share and then he would relish spending the whole day fielding different comments from people, most people on Twitter would have picked that up and thought it was funny, and there would be some that didn't get in. Not being on Twitter John doesn’t have an outlet for that and he is super-fine with that, somehow he managed to bring it into their show, but what he also doesn’t have is a place where in the middle of the night he decides to pick a fight with gamers or the NRA or the persecuted minority of white evangelical Christians, which has returned an expectation to his life that his major concerns are what he sees before him: He wakes up in the morning, he has a family, he walks these streets, he goes to the store, that is what he has to deal with, and it is emotionally charged enough.

However beautiful Twitter was as a place to put out that piff and get little smiley faces in return, that process just became overwhelming because it became realer and realer and something had to give. You cannot have something new come in and become realer and realer and take up a larger and larger part of your emotional life and your mental life and your time and not have something else have to give energy away. The only place he had that could give energy to that machine was actual life and real things and real concerns.

The only place that John interacts now with other people online is this little Discourse message board he set up with the Patreon. It is an open source platform of some kind, but he doesn’t understand what open source even means and he has no idea what a non-fungible token is, even though he read 14 descriptions of it, but he has no idea why anybody would… Dan thinks that is because John is sane. John went for a long walk with the guy that runs his record label and he said to him in parting: ”By the way: I thought that maybe non-fungible tokens were going to be great for the music business, but it turns out they are unholy and evil. Stay away from them!” - ”I don't even know what a non-fungible token is exactly!” - ”Good!” He giving John the warning of an old crone.

People discussing if John’s Patreon is worth the $5 (RW217)

Someone came onto the message board who is also a member of Gary’s Van on Facebook and Discord and said: People are having a discussion over on these other places about whether this Patreon is good value because John isn't posting every day or every week. We are discussing whether our $5 contribution is really producing $5 worth of content over here or whether we should pack our bags and take our money elsewhere. This is a conversation happening among people who are fans of John enough that they are discussing it on a fan-board dedicated to him, they are not just some randos who accidentally donated $5 and then waited for him to bang a tambourine every day, they are his real people who are like: ”Wait a minute, I don't think I am getting my $5 worth!”

This person brought this dispute which John had no knowledge of because it was happening in social media somewhere that he is not going anymore and brought it into the walled garden and immediately a discussion started there and very quickly people started getting defensive. John was just lurking, he is the only moderator right now because an unmoderated space is a beautiful thing and maybe we can all just get along, but the discussion got contentious and then there were the inevitable 2 or 3 back and forths between a few people who are like: ”That is not what I was saying, why would you say that? I wasn't saying that, you were saying that!”

John getting thrown back to the same feelings he had with Facebook and Twitter

It got Facebook so fast and for a couple of months John hadn't had any of that energy in his life, which is something you deal with on a daily and hourly basis if you are engaging with social media. All of a sudden all those familiar feelings welled up and also just the introduction of this topic set him on one of those all-day-broods where he was like: ”Well, wait a minute, why are people dissatisfied? Do I not give enough? What do they want from me? Maybe I shouldn't have done this in the first place. Maybe I should just go to Alaska and work at a ski resort!” - ”No, no, no, they are right. I should make videos every day of me banging a tambourine and jumping around in a funny hat, maybe that will make them like me?”

He was immediately back to that world that he spent a dozen years in, which is: ”I tweeted this and I only got this many faves, but this other guy who has fewer followers than me tweeted a dumber thing and got twice as many faves and what am I doing wrong?” John came out the other side of it today because last night he posted a thing on the Patreon where he was like: ”Hey, everybody!” because he wrote a long thing that was very defensive, like: ”Look, I don't know what you all expect from me. I have released two podcasts and written half a dozen things and this thing is only six weeks old. What am I doing wrong?”

He wrote 2000 words, a long journey about what patronage is throughout history and what altruism is and how the world has become governed by this idea that every exchange between people is some kind of financial transaction and everything we do has a component of: ”What am I getting in return?”, even free podcasts that everyone listens to for free, there was somebody in this message stream that was like: ”I don't feel like I need to support the show monetarily because I support them by listening to their podcast!” - ”Wow!”

People thinking they are supporting the show just by listening

Dan says that he understands that argument and if you have ads in your show and a person is listening to the ads and maybe when they decide to buy something they use your URL or promo code, then they are supporting by listening, by boosting your numbers, but if it is a Patreon-supported show and the only way it makes money is by patrons supporting it, then them just listening does nothing.

Those people are subscribing to the Patreon, otherwise they could not be commenting on the thread, but they believe that the subscription is like buying a ticket to the movies. They are buying a ticket with that $5 and they want return, it is not altruistic, like: ”I love you guys and I am supporting the show and whatever bonus content you give me is just icing on the cake!” It is the other way around: ”Well, I was listening to your show for free, but now you are giving me an opportunity to buy more content and I will buy it, but that content had better be hot and fresh!”

Listening to the show as a way of supporting would be great if you set up a server farm like SETI and had 10.000 computers listening to the show, registering as listeners, so that it bolstered their ad rates so that they could go to the advertisers and say: ”We have 100.000 listeners!”, but the problem with the ad support is just the same as people used to say when Napster started stealing his music: ”Bands make their living on tour by selling T-shirts!”

John has commented that a million times and no comment in his whole life has ever garnered more double ”Fuck you!”’s than someone who is not in a band telling him that bands make their living selling T-shirts. People don’t realize how little ad revenue these shows generate. They put ads up because they are floundering, trying to figure out a way to make the shows profitable, not because Miller Beer is giving them $15.000 to do a series of ads.

The eel you are supposed to forget

John is not kvetching. Having put up this Patreon and there is Dan’s Patreon for Road Work and the one for The Omnibus he has switched mentally entirely to that model. When Dan started the Patreon for this show John was very suspicious of it and not knowing anything about it and not wanting anything to do with it and now he is completely the other way and the altruistic model where you are supporting a thing that you love, you know that you are consuming that content for free and you know that things cost money to make and that things have value and that value is communicated in money, and if you are willing to pay for a Netflix subscription or willing to pay for Apple Music or are willing to download a song for $0.99 or to pay for Spotify, it is not crazy to also think that you are already getting the content for free and that $5 a month is not an onerous expense.

If you are paying for Spotify and you are paying for Netflix, you are used to the idea that you pay for it and then you get the content. It is not that much of a mental leap with podcasts to realize you are already getting the content and it is up to you whether or not you want to pay for it, but the transaction is the same, whether or not you feel a moral imperative or not. Clearly people don't because the number of people that support the Road Work Patreon, John’s Patreon and The Omnibus Patreon are a real fraction of the listeners.

John is not haranguing, but as podcasters you sit and do this mental math because you look at the world and the guys that invented Angry Birds are living on a hovercraft right now and no-one blames them, everybody says: ”Yeah, totally! Great! Angry Birds was amazing!”, but at the same time they listen to a podcast every week for years and years and years and take a lot from it and love it very much, but balk at the idea that it has any value that they are obligated.

Getting thrown back into the bad spiral of feelings again

This experience on the message board, in having that debate brought from somewhere, because the message board is an extremely positive and unmoderated place, and everybody is on there talking about science and they are sharing their experience, hopes and dreams, there is a whole thread of people talking about their struggles with drugs and alcohol, it is a very wonderful, inclusive, diverse space where there is no anger. This conversation didn't start there, it started out in the world on Facebook or on Discord, and someone who was in both places felt, maybe with a devious twinkle in their eye: ”Oh, I am going to bring this conversation over into this walled garden and plant this little invasive weed!” because it was the first thing in six weeks that was introduced into that environment that turned brother against brother.

The defensiveness that came up around it is all tied up in this conversation they just had: Some people don't want to be told about their money. At the intersection of your money and the things that you love and where your obligation is, everybody feels panic and stress in that environment. Not everybody, there are a lot of people that are very, very free and are just like: ”Hey man! I love this thing!”, but there is a tense core and it got to John and after a few days of witnessing this he had the very familiar sensation of: ”Wait a minute! I have to keep going! I got off of social media and built this little walled garden and set up my lawn chair in here and was like: Yeah, let's talk about science. I can't wait to read everybody's story!” and it only took six weeks to read a thing that haunted him for three days and that he wrote page after page of explanatory exegesis, trying to defend himself, trying to make a case, like he is doing here on the show, trying to explain and trying to understand.

It is exactly the same feeling that he had in the first 12 hours of Beandad when he started getting that feedback and started feeling defensive and his heart sunk in his chest. Beandad is a unique occurrence because it went from there to a completely other thing, but in the early hours of it, it was just like 100 other controversies that he had started on Twitter that turned into a knot in his stomach that haunted him for a few days, where he was fighting with strangers and people were telling him he was a bastard and he was telling them to fuck off.

Sitting in his bed last night John thought: ”I can't even be on my own Patreon!” and monitor the conversation and take part in it because it is not where he belongs. He belongs probably on a discussion board about model railroading, he doesn’t even want to go on a discussion board about the Hawker Hurricane because he doesn't want to get into arguments about the Battle of Britain with people. Probably if he went on a model train message board he would start getting into arguments with people about their switchgear.

Friends encouraging John to just keep going

A couple of people close to him that he was sharing this experience with, including Ken Jennings, said: Make the thing you make. You are not a message board person, you are a thing maker. Make the thing you make, put it on there, what other people do, whether they support you or not, whether they change their contribution from $10 to $5, whether they take their $5 contribution and stick it in their ear because you didn't do what they wanted, none of that should be on your radar! John was sitting there thinking: Is it possible to make podcasts, music, writing, and all the things that he wants to do and fold it up and put it in a file and stick it through a slot in the wall, which is a portal he has chosen to deliver to the world, and then divorce himself entirely from the response, not be interested at all or if interested not allow himself the indulgence of tiptoeing into the room, putting a glass to the wall, trying to hear what people are saying about it. John doesn’t know!

There are plenty of brilliant creators that never got addicted or allowed themselves to care what people thought about their work, but John was always and is still insecure enough about his work and his place in the world, that he keeps going back, putting that glass against the wall, saying: ”Do they like it? Is it good? Do they want it? Should I change it?” and even as he sits here telling Dan about it, that monkey on his back has been with him since the first thing he ever made and it has no relationship to the thing and doesn't help him make a better thing, it never has. Reading the letters to the editor in Magnet Magazine where somebody is like: ”That new Long Winters record isn't as good as the Fruit Bats record!” and he was devastated for a year, but you couldn't keep him away!

This is part of the retraining of his mind, part and parcel of trying to retrain his brain to not think he is doing a bad job at everything and to not feel like he is disappointing everyone all the time, and he is going right to the very source of feeling like he is disappointing everybody all the time and he is standing there with a giant catcher's mitt, just inviting people to tell him how they are disappointed. John carries that feeling around with him every single day, he doesn’t need a message board to deliver that to him. He feels like a disappointment to his father who has been dead for 13 years, he still apologizes to him.

Dan’s reply

Anyone who cares enough about John to support his work, the ones that are plugged in enough to know what is going on with him, John has created this community and he should stop worrying about it now and just start doing the stuff that he likes for himself and share it with these people because that is what they are there for. They are not there for him to make stuff for them, but they are there to enjoy the stuff that he makes, period. Their expectation is that John is going to share all this cool stuff that he does because he is a conduit for a creative force in the universe and they like the filter through which that creative energy comes and that filter’s name is John Roderick.

That was exactly what John thought! He spent six weeks in a garden, like: ”They are just supporting me! Everybody is just happy and they want me to succeed!”, but the Patreon app itself and the company really want you to know your statistics. The model of the business is that they want you to generate engagement and they want you on there, communicating with your fans and banging a tambourine and making stuff and that is how Patreon envisions itself. They are all about the tiers, they want you to try and bump people up to a higher tier, they have gamified it.

The company itself spends zero time or energy suggesting that another use case of their site, a much better one, is this pivot, this transition to: ”Do you like this artist? Do you want them to keep making art? Well, give them a little bit of money! It is not tied to anything. Here are $5, I hope that you make some cool stuff! Let me know!” It is an eel you are meant to forget about. You pick an amount that you can afford and roll the dice, let it ride.

Dan makes an analogy with the Marvel movies, The Avengers and all those: Most people who are fans of that kind of movie don't really care which characters in the movie or how long the movie is, they are there for that movie and when the next Marvel movie, whatever it is, comes out they are going to be there for it and if theaters were still a thing and tickets were still a thing and going to movies was still a thing they are going to go and it doesn't matter whether the reviews are good or bad, it doesn't matter if their friends say that the movie is not good or it was great, they are going to see the movie anyway! They are going to come out and say: ”That movie was great!” or they are going to say: ”That wasn't really the best one!”, but they are still going to show up and see it just because it is a Marvel movie and they like Marvel movies, it is that simple.

Why people lower their pledge

That is John’s audience: They are not sitting there saying: ”Boy, the chorus in that song was a piece of crap. What was he thinking there?”, but they are like: ”John made a song! Now I am singing it!” He is overthinking this. Just do the stuff that you do! John started watching the stats and every day he was gaining supporters in numbers and he was losing money because people that had originally pledged at $20 had bounced down to $10.

Dan can explain that to John: When John just started the thing his loyal loving fans said: ”Oh my gosh! I feel so bad that John is going through this. I want to support him, I want to help! He is just starting this and I feel like he should have some of my money, but how much am I going to give him? To jumpstart this thing I am going to give him $20 because he could use it. I might not want to keep giving him $20 every month and it doesn't matter what he produces or if the next Cinnamon is coming out of this thing. I don't care. I am not going to be giving him $20 bucks forever, I don't care, but I will give him $5. But this first month that $20 pledge is going to hit and then the second month I got to back that thing down now to what I am really comfortable actually giving, which is $5 a month.”

Then there is a second category of people who said: ”John needs my money and I am going to help him, but I don't want to help him on an ongoing basis. I just want to help him get back on his feet, but there is no place where I can do a one time donation on Patreon, I have to do a monthly donation. I don't even want the stuff that he is doing. I just want to help him, then I will go back to listening to his shows. I want to give him $15 or $10 and I will do that, I will set up a $10 donation and after the first one goes through I am going to cancel it because I wanted to give him $10 and there wasn't a way for me to just give him $10 without signing up and becoming a member.”

Dan has seen this all the time as he has done lots of fundraising things over the years and asked for donations and support and things like that. When he asked people about it or talked to them about it or read articles about it those two things are the main reasons why people reduce what they are spending. Very rarely do they say: ”I am not getting value out of this!”

Some people surely do feel that way, but Dan’s money is on the fact that most people came out with a big push for him, putting their money where their mouth is, and then they scaled it down to: ”I helped John a lot. Now I am going to help him a little!” and that is not because people are seeing what he is doing and thinking: ”What a putz! This isn't any good! I'm out!”, but they think: ”I helped him a lot. Now I am helping him a little!”

It makes perfect sense and the issue has more to do with the fact that John clearly becomes obsessed with this type of thing and he generates negative drama because he gets to a point where: ”Well, I am not on social media anymore, so I am going to go look at my Patreon statistics eight times a day and I am going to monitor every $5 increment change and I am going to wonder if it is a sign of what is wrong with me, or it goes up $20 and I feel like: Wow, I am on my way!”

John thinking he is a failure, no matter what

John’s Patreon is well-funded and he is super grateful, but you could shower him with the heavenly manna and he would find a way to feel like in some sense he was being showered with it because he was failing to live up to expectations. It is feeling like the audience has expectations and now it has gone from faves to coins, but John has the same relationship to the world, which is: ”Please tell me I am doing it right!” - ”You are doing it right!” - ”I don't believe you!”

The other night, in trying to stop looking at Patreon in an obsessive compulsive way he texted his friend Ben Acker at 2am: ”What are people in Hollywood saying about me right now?” - ”What?” - ”Our friends down in Hollywood, what is their take? Is everybody mad at me or what is the deal?” - ”Look man, it hasn't really come up because we are all in the middle of a global pandemic and nobody is doing anything and we are all out of work, sitting around, trying to figure out if there will ever be a live event or a movie made ever again. We are not sitting around wondering how you are doing, although: How are you?” - ”Oh, right, right, right. I am fine!” - ”Good! Glad!” John is not sure why he suddenly needed to know whether or not everyone in Hollywood was talking about him.

It is a thing he does, he texts people in the middle of the night, sometimes: ”That time 18 years ago when you said that thing, what did you mean by that?”, just stirring a pot. People in his life want to relate it to bipolar disorder and his doctor wants to relate this kind of behavior to it, but John thinks it is spillover from his drug years because it feels exactly like getting high, like: ”Well shit! I need something to happen now because I can't just sit here, so I need to get messed up and I will take whatever drug comes along. I am not looking to get speedy or to get doped, I am just looking for whatever you got!”

John hasn’t done drugs in over 20 years, but he has replaced the method with dozens of other things, but the feeling of: ”It is night and I am alone and get me the fuck out of here!” is the same. It is really connected, it drives him to find emotional turmoil because it is the only way he can feel normal. The only way he can feel is if you hit him, and he welcomes because of it. It is something he incites in people: ”Will you hit me, please?” because it will focus his feelings. He is sitting here feeling crazy, feeling so much emotion, he just doesn’t have a healthy place to put it.

Playing guitar in the middle of the night is one way and because the Patreon has offered him the opportunity to sit and write 2500 words that he would never publish sitting and typing at night helps him and those feel positive, like he is producing something, but every night he sits and has overpowering feelings that he in 52 years has not figured out a way to tie to positive feelings, or definitely positive behaviors, Most people would say: ”Time for bed!” or ”Maybe you should do a little exercise!”, but instead he thinks: ”I wonder how long it will take if I walk around this neighborhood in a hoodie for the police to pull me over?”, just looking for jazz.

John’s sister will sit and say: ”Just saying all that out loud or thinking about it in the moment before you act is half the battle or more, that is the strength!”, but the whole ”Knowing it is half the battle!” thing takes years to play out and years later you look back and go: ”Oh, right!” John can't be in a hurry, this container ship has been wedged in his Suez Canal for decades with all the containers on it and all of the electronics in them have have become obsolete and all the fresh fruit has spoiled. *big sigh*


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