Life as a vagabond entrepeneur

They say that the only thing certain in life is death and taxes, but the truth is dreams are renewable. Life isn’t over until it’s over.

By some appearances it may seem I’ve been quiet this past month, but the truth is far from it. My rebranded YouTube multichannel network (MCN) Power Up TV! is doing fairly well, even though I’ve yet to do any marketing for it. This is largely due to the affiliate marketing program we’re using to incentivize recruiters.

March stats Poweruptv

Not bad stats for a few weeks of operation, no?

As Power Up TV, we partnered up with George Vanous’ Freedom network and formed a subnetwork under them. The decision was not lightly made, and required a lot of discussion between George and myself, but we came to an arrangement I am happy with. We still possess our Martell Brothers network CMS account, so I still have direct access to Content ID for those partners who need it, but now we have a strong ally in our corner who can help us grow as a network.

On the road again – April 1st

I mentioned in my last post that I am moving the company from Austin to Los Angeles to be closer to the emerging internet TV industry. However I have only recently arrived in Los Angeles.

For the past two months, in a way, I’ve been licking the salt out of my wounds. I needed a kind of spiritual retreat. I wasn’t in complete solitude but I spent a lot of time by myself reflecting, in an almost zen way, on where I’ve been and where I need to be going.

And when this retreat was over, I stood outside in the early morning’s darkness shaving off the beard I’d grown. One pilgrimage has ended, and now another one begins.

On April 1st I flew out to Los Angeles, California to push MBS further into the DNA of the emerging internet TV community. All of my essential possessions fit in my rucksack, though I also took a laptop travel bag and one small suitcase that had some film recording equipment in it that I would store at my friend Petros’ apartment (Petros is the creator of My Life as a Video Game). The hostel I’ve arranged to stay, the Hollywood Highland Hostel on Hollywood Boulevard, is not the most safe place to leave valuables.

Cabella's Ridgeline 100 rucksack
Cabella’s Ridgeline 100 rucksack

For the journey I opted to wear a bright yellow t-shirt that said “I heart girl gamers“. This is not a shirt I would normally wear; it was accidentally shipped to me by DistrictLines when I ordered some Martell TV shirts from them. I thought that by wearing something this tacky I would be less conspicuous but I actually drew more attention to myself by wearing it. A college aged goth girl and her mother kept staring at me in the lobby, and on the plane I was seated in the row before them. They struck up a brief conversation with me, before the mother blurted out they thought I was cute, and the daughter’s face turned bright purple followed by awkward silence. The two were headed up to Washington so nothing came of it. The daughter was cute though.

At the San Antonio airport. You know I'm serious when I have my 80's sweatband on.
At the San Antonio airport. You know I’m serious when I have my 80’s sweatband on.

I arrived at the Los Angeles airport at 7 am PST. Petros had a morning meeting, so I used the Lyft app on my phone to call for a ride to another friend’s apartment, Ebrech. The driver who picked me up was named Mani, and he tried to be rather inconspicuous about the pickup; he later told me that police arrest Lyft drivers when they come to the airport, as it’s against a city ordinance or something.

As he drives to my friend’s apartment, we talk. Mani, an Indian immigrant, first visited Los Angeles 25 years ago, and the impression the city left on him was lasting. A young Mani decided he would someday live here. And 15 years ago he permanently moved, and started a family. His daughter is now a director for a medical center and his son is studying bio medicine. Mani works as an accountant but does the Lyft gig to make some easy part-time money.

He asked me about what brought me to the city, and I briefly summarized my business as developing software for internet TV stations. Mani said it was smart for me to come to Los Angeles.

“You’re going to love it here,” he said. “This is the right place for you.”

I looked out the window at the passing scenery. Los Angeles is a mixture of buildings that were erected during the golden age of cinema, and modern urban development. I wondered what the people who built this city would think about the changes to it that have happened throughout the years. I wondered if the Hollywood of today would be recognizable to them.

Ebrech and her husband Alester were hospitable, and kindly let me keep my bags in their closet while I took another Lyft to check out the hostel. The Lyft ended up taking awhile to arrive, so I went to the nearby Holiday Burgers— a mom and pop joint — to get a taste of the local cuisine. The cheeseburger was excellent, and the fries were sprinkled every so slightly with season-all. I may have to do a review in the future.

This time the driver was a former realtor and he gave me a bunch of tips on how to find an affordable room to rent in the Valley. When we arrived at the hostel, the first thing I saw was a college aged girl — pretty, thin and blonde — bending down to one of the blank stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that runs down Hollywood Boulevard. She was pointing at the empty star and then herself with a smile, as a friend snapped a photo on her cellphone.

That’s good. Stay optimistic,” I thought to myself. “Those names only ended up there because the folks who owned them didn’t lose hope despite the odds against them.”

The Hollywood Highland Hostel. Conveniently located next to a pizza joint and a liquor store.
The Hollywood Highland Hostel. Conveniently located next to a pizza joint and a liquor store.

My first impression about the hostel was that it was not nearly as awful as the Yelp reviews would imply. Sure, it was no five-star accommodation. Paint chipped from the walls, the carpet was a little torn, and it had a cold draft passing through it. But it was also charming, in a weird sort of way. The heart of Hollywood, Mann’s Chinese Theatre, sat across the street, and the even older El Capitan and Egyptian movie palaces lay next door. Every tile on the sidewalk in front held the name of an entertainment industry celebrity. A pay-to-use internet access terminal lay in the hallway, with a sign that said “broken”, and I recognized the model as being common in airports in the late 90’s. There was history here, in these walls. And now I too was apart of it.

“You’re staying here for….five days!” The check-in lady was delighted. She upgraded me from the six-bed room to the four-bed room.

“Was there a problem with the room?” I asked.

“No,” she said with a smile. “If you’re going to be staying with us for awhile, we want to make sure you’re comfortable.”

In the room, I spread out the linen and laid down on the mattress, and remembered the mention of bed bugs in the Yelp reviews. But then I remembered my days as a soldier, and recalled the times I’d literally slept in a shallow muddy puddle. I decided I could survive a few bites.

A few hours later, I thought someone was trying to break into a room, but it turned out water was dripping down from the ceiling into a bucket. It had started to rain outside, and these Los Angeles roofs weren’t adapted to it– or rather, maintained for it.

I couldn’t sleep. I took my laptop into the communal TV viewing room, which was unoccupied. Using my laptop I scheduled the Power Up TV Stations for the next 2 weeks, as last month’s schedule had ended. Afterwards it was 3 am, and I still wasn’t sleepy. So I took a walk to get my bearings a little.

As I strolled down the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the early morning air, I noticed the stars of those who were important in the history of television. Would my name someday be there? I thought about the optimistic girl from earlier.

Then I spotted a homeless man who’d mummified himself in a blanket, and was reminded this is as much a boulevard of broken dreams as it is a walk of fame. The realities of trying to break into this industry can be too much for some to bear.

Boulevard of broken dreams
Homeless folk are an all too common sight on the boulevard.

Welcome to LA, Carey. Your first day is done. This is where your journey begins anew.

Don’t fuck it up.

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