Istanbul, Turkey Jilted by YouTube, Lost in Turkey

Landed in Istanbul at midnight. Luggage went missing en route. My hard drive with all the raw dancing footage is either in Chicago or London. After 24 hours, the baggage folks in Istanbul have no idea.

Got to the hotel, met Patrik and Jonas, the Swedish commercial guys.


The hotel is fancy and luxurious and there is an enormous transvestite who stands at the corner outside. So there’s that.

Went to bed by 1am. Up at 5am to catch a flight down to Fethiye on the southern coast for a day of bad dancing.

The landing was aborted due to freakish winds that threatened to flip the plane on its side. Esra, our production assistant and translator, made use of the vomit bag.

Instead of landing at Fethiye (in Turkish: "land of the fused eyebrow"), the pilot took us to a safer airstrip in Antalya ("land of the very old ringtones"), three hours away by car. We hired a guy to drive us back, but not before stopping at a local strip mall to re-clothe me. Having no luggage, I’d been wearing the same clothes for about 60 hours. I put together a crude approximation of my dancing uniform, by way of Billabong and Quiksilver.

…at least I didn’t smell so bad.

We drove all afternoon, stopping to set up in front of random patches of the stark Turkish countryside. I danced with a goat. I danced on a boat.

It was cold and rainy and I was tired.

We got to Fethiye with some daylight left. I danced in a set of ancient tombs carved into a mountainside.


There was slippery climbing required, but Patrik and Jonas are experienced mountaineers – must be a Swedish thing – and they helped me up.

By dinner time, whatever auxiliary fuel I was running on ran out. In the lead-up to this trip, I’ve had a lot of late nights making preparations for the imminent start of the new video. Most of the sleep I’ve gotten has been in short patches of a couple hours. It finally caught up and I was a corpse on the flight back to Istanbul.

Tomorrow is the big event; a dance with 50 Turkish men on a rooftop overlooking the Hagia Sophia. It’s an odd change being strictly a performer on this Swedish TV commercial thing. I don’t have to plan or orchestrate anything – I just dance where they tell me. It’s been my own weird little personal hobby for so long, I hadn’t considered what it would be like to hand that over. It’s kind of nice, actually. Not for one of my own videos, mind you, but for this side project, it’s okay.

The voting just closed on the YouTube awards. The dancing video was nominated for "Most Creative Video." I was mildly flattered and intrigued when I heard about it a week ago. Then when I learned I was ranking second in the voting, I got a wee bit more interested.

…okay, I’ll cop to checking the polls every chance I got. And I was deliriously happy when the video jumped up to the top spot for a few days. But it dropped back down the day before the voting closed – which was about an hour ago – and I’m pretty sure the award went to Ok Go for their treadmill video.

If it hadn’t been so close, I wouldn’t be disappointed. But seeing it at the top got me excited. The awards are being given out in New York on Monday, and it would’ve been neat to meet the AskaNinja guys, Terra Naomi, and the world’s most adorable puppy.

It also would’ve been neat to kick the Free Hugs guy in the balls.

…man, that guy really needs to get kicked in the balls.

But when I step back a bit – I mean, empirically speaking – the Ok Go video was amazing. The category is called “Most Creative,” and there’s no way I can compete on those terms. As far as that adjective is concerned, there’s no contest. The victory was just. If the category had been "Most Frequent Flyer Miles Earned," then it would be a different story.

So I was down for a bit. But then I remembered the whole awards concept is totally arbitrary and meaningless and I felt a little better.

In fact, I’ll say I’m completely content if the Ok Go guys would go ahead and kick Free Hugs guy in the balls for me.