There’s probably a name for it, but I can’t conjure the word: When you’ve been doing something a long, long time, then realize you’ve pretty much been doing it all wrong. That’s the case with me and the drums – an instrument I picked up a dozen years ago but only recently have come to understand as infinitely intricate.
I can’t explain why I started playing, I got the bug when my good friend Jordan insisted I sit down and attempt to bang out a rhythm one very late night. He was re-familiarizing himself with his guitar and wanted a co-conspirator, he happened to have a kit collecting dust in his garage. I was in my mid forties and pretty lost in my career, and I had just moved to a new town. We had a blast making noise that first night – I recall the police coming after multiple complaints, and I woke up afterwards with my face stuck to the snare. After that I built a band room in an out building on my property, found some more guys to play with, and we formed what could pass for a band.
Given the news around AI’s impact on the tech industry, search, and jobs in general, I thought it made sense to re-up a piece I wrote back in 2018, triggered at the time by the launch of Amazon Go (which, not surprisingly, did not exactly go as Amazon might have wished). I re-read it recently and thought it held up pretty well (and I’ve been on the road for over a week, so fresh pieces will have to wait for a few more days!).
Four years ago this past summer my family and I decided to move to New York, and as I prepared, I called my best friend in Manhattan, the journalist John Heilemann. If anyone could present me with the key to our new city, it was John – he was connected to everything and everyone worth knowing in New York.
But much to my surprise John had something different in mind when I rang to pick his brain. In short, he had an idea for a new kind of company, one he’d been bouncing off of our mutual friend Fred Wilson. John wanted to totally rethink video-based news for what we came to call the “post-linear” information ecosystem – in other words, for a world dominated by Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, and of course the emerging world of streaming.
Today is the first workday of the new year. For most of us, that means the slow roll of the holidays is over. Today we answer all those emails we left unattended, resume work we left on hold in early December, and start filling up our calendars with meetings we’d rather not attend.
I’ve chosen a different path this year, for me, an uncertain path. I’m resolved to write here more frequently, even if what I produce isn’t exactly consistent with whatever it is I do for a living. The past four years have been strange – I started a political media company with a dear friend, it triumphed and it failed and it continues to this day. I learned more than I thought was possible, but my writing stagnated. I’ve decided to return to this blank space filling slowly with words – to prioritize it, to make it more important than the meetings and the unsent emails and the work left on hold late last year.
I first moved to the Bay area in 1983. I graduated from high school, spent my summer as an exchange student/day laborer in England (long story), then began studies at Berkeley, where I had a Navy scholarship (another long story).
1983. 35 years ago.
1983 was one year before the introduction of the Macintosh (my first job was covering Apple and the Mac). Ten years before the debut of Wired magazine. Twenty years before I began writing The Search, launching Web 2.0, and imagining what became Federated Media. And thirty years before we launched NewCo and the Shift Forum. It’s a … long fucking time ago.
I’m not writing as much as I’d like, either for the book, or here, on Searchblog or its “Four Letter Words” cousin. I hope to change that this coming week, as I settle back into my writing shack. I had family in town this past week, and I couldn’t very well isolate myself, much as I may have wanted to (at times, I’ll be honest, I did).
But the past week or so have had many fine moments of friends, family, and other wonderful things. Here are a few images of them.
Today we took a strenuous hike up the hill behind our house (it’s called Bald Hill, and it’s about 1100 feet up). We went mainly off trail, and found a buddah sitting on a rocky outcropping, facing West, into the setting sun. This statue was at 800 feet above sea level, and weighed at least forty pounds. Someone worked very hard to get it into position, and it really made our day. Thanks to whoever did that, this is our way of paying it forward….
Less than an hour North of San Francisco lies a network of small towns that exist utterly detached from the hamster wheel of our nation’s obsession with technology. They have names like Dogtown, Bolinas, Forrest Knolls, and Olema. Somehow, they’ve managed to escape most trappings of gentrification. They feel authentic, real, and fragile – rather like hummingbirds feeding on flowers despite a gathering storm (or perhaps in spite of it). And I get to drive through them almost daily, because I’ve made Stinson Beach my new office (for more on that, see Time To Begin, Again).
Northern California has always meant the world to me, but moving my base of work close to these places has cemented my love for this special patch of the world. Today I left my hut on the coast and rode my bike up and over the 2,000 foot barrier between the surreal – where fairies dance – and the very real – where most of us live and labor to produce the information economy (also known, in this case, as Mill Valley – fast becoming the Brooklyn of San Francisco).
Here’s a picture of the view from the divide between the two. Looking, as always, to the west.
PS – I posted this picture earlier on Instagram, but that just wasn’t good enough.
It’s been a long time since I’ve posted in Four Letter Words, forgive me. I’ve still been riding, and drinking, of course. Just busy launching another thing, OpenCoSF. But tonight I took a step back and took my wife out to our favorite place, and we noticed a new wine on the menu, from the makes of The Prisoner. It’s called Abstract, and it’s got a wonderful etched label to which this picture does not do justice. But it’s moderately priced (for a wine from Orin Swift), and it’s a wonderful drinker. So go get it if you can.
And yes, I’ve not stopped riding. Here’s the view from the top of Tam on Saturday. The Bay was alive with boats – Fleet Week, the America’s Cup, the Giants in the playoffs, the Blue Angels….great day.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted images and such from the other side of life. It’s been a rather strange, disjointed, fast-paced summer. No long breaks, no monumental family vacations. A lot more work than I’d like. But time for riding, mountains, and wine…and pictures of same. So to them:
My family has been going to Mammoth Lakes, California since the 1960s. My mother has a place there, and this is her dog, who lives to swim after sticks in Sierra lakes. Not a bad living…That’s Crystal Crag in the background for anyone who knows the area.
This is one of the many single tracks from the top of Mammoth Mountain down – this is the backside of the mountain, looking out toward the lakes and across to the Southern Sierra. That’s my son on the trail. We had a great day riding the mountain, which included some pretty ridiculous technical stuff, even some man-made nuttiness where you get essentially sideways, to wit:
A good couple of weeks in wine, and a first ever for the garage band my buds and I have formed – we played our first gig in front of actual human beings, at a party last night. We even have a name: After.
To the photos.
First, the wine. I like to post interesting bottles here so I can pin them on Pinterest (the only active board I have is called The Wine of My Life). In no particular order…