We have a special guest blog today from Jonathan Paula from Jogwheel! This is the first guest blog of many more to come so stay tuned!
When my good friends at AKT Enterprises (the fine people who put this crazy event on every year) asked me to guest-write a blog entry about Playlist, I immediately thought to myself: how does one put such excitement, fun, and complex emotions into writing? Well, luckily for me, I received a B+ in that one expositional writing course in college, so I’m pretty sure I got this. I’d like to share the story of an extremely eventful day, courtesy some non-stop memories at Playlist Live 2012. I’ve had the good fortune of being responsible for several successful YouTube shows (most are familiar with “Is It A Good Idea To Microwave This?”), so for the fourth convention in a row, I was invited as a “Guest Speaker” – which meant my costs were covered, but I was on the hook to entertain and educate people at the various panels and workshops I hosted, as well as my main stage performance.
It was an amazing treat to see all of my YouTube friends again, hang-out, and catch up on life, whether we were swimming in the pool making giant whirlpools with 20 other people, or relaxing over a midnight snack at nearby Downtown Disney. On my third day in Orlando, and the first full day of the convention proper, I was more than surprised, and delighted to see such a massive and enthusiastic crowd in the main ballroom – where I found myself getting recognized on a fairly routine basis. I was even more delighted to learn the hotel’s kitchenette had a microwave I could heat up my hastefully purchased Krispy Kreme donuts with. They were a delicious start to what would be one of the longest days of my life, and a much needed energy boost after the busy night prior…
While my friends were having a blast hanging poolside, I decided to drive 90 minutes to Tampa in a borrowed car (thanks again to Playlist’s master-in-charge, Kevin Khandjian for his nice wheels) to see the first of two Bruce Springsteen concerts that weekend; I’d see The Boss again just three nights later back in Boston. The concert was, as expected, phenomenal, and my friend Riley and I quickly drove back to Playlist around midnight to re-join the festivities: a late night VIP party with free drinks, and excellent dance music. By the time I finally did go to sleep, I was exhausted – the microwaved donut the next morning would have to be my energy for the day after getting only a few hours sleep. Not missing a step though, I still managed to win an impromptu game of Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 to score myself a free copy of some game-capture hardware. Meanwhile, my friends and I were hosting an informal meet-and-greet / camera equipment workshop. We conversed with lots of grateful Playlist attendees who were excited to hang out and chat. A big part of my interest and involvement in these conventions is to give back and say thank you to the millions of people who have watched my videos over the years… even if only a few dozen actually show up in person. The trip to Florida, the parties, concerts and gift bags are certainly cool too, but without the audience participation it wouldn’t be nearly as exciting or rewarding for me, or any of my content-creating peers.
Dinner, dancing and swimming followed for that evening’s itinerary, but what came next would be the highlight of my Playlist trip, for better or worse. It was easy to get distracted in the Buena Vista Hotel’s massive pool complex… especially when you’re having such a great time hanging out with so many friends, fans, and in my case – confused drunks. Now, if you’re of-age, and enjoying yourself responsibly, there’s nothing wrong with downing some drinks late at night by the pool… but when you mistakenly steal someone’s wallet and cell phone before passing out in your room for several hours? That might be a sign you’ve had too much. The irony of the situation is that I had remarked to some fellow YouTubers just hours earlier, “why does anyone bother putting their valuables in the toe of their shoes anyway? We all do it, that’s the first place a thief would look.” So you can imagine my amazement and horror to discover my stuff wasn’t where I left it. Jumping out of the pool for a moment to tweet a photo of everyone splashing around, I was surprised and horrified to find my shoes empty. I immediately starting asking around, even offering a bounty to anyone who delivers the person responsible for swiping my wallet and cell.
I was a stranger in a stranger land, and phone be damned, without my license, I wasn’t going to be able to board a plane home, and catch the Springsteen concert in Boston I already paid $100 for. The situation was, to say the least: looking rather dire. But I kept my spirits up, and kept vlogging away with my camera (that wasn’t stolen)… going so far as to mockingly leave a Liam Neeson “Taken”-style monologue on my stolen phone’s voice mail. I didn’t have a particular set of skills, nor the desire for murder – but I really wanted to get my stuff back. Luckily for me, and my concert plans a thousand miles to the north, the booze-lover who accidentally swiped my belongings woke up to my angry text messages, and apologetically returned them to me – but not after I met with security and filed a police report, still wet from the pool. By the time things calmed down, it was nearly five in the morning, and most of my friends had already retired for the evening.
There ain’t no rest for the wicked though, as I’d have to report to the main stage to perform in front of a large crowd just a few hours later. It was a wild 30-hour period with lots of great memories, and some scary ones – but now that it’s all behind me, I can’t help but look back and smile. Playlist 2013 can’t come soon enough, I look forward to seeing you there!