I just got this e-mail from Tumblr.
Hi, I’m Nick Miller. Welcome to my Tumblr.
I wrote a novel called Isn’t it Pretty To Think So?
I’m currently working on my second novel.
Here are a few posts I’ve done on Tumblr that have resonated with people:
Feel free to send me a message.
Here I am typing like a madman.
Why Wyclef Jean Removed His Hoodie | Part 4
Not until the final night of my stay, the third night, was I allowed into the private world of Wyclef Jean’s studio. And not until I divulged a little bit about myself did Wyclef lean back in his chair, uncovering his face, and crack a smile.
“Wait, you wrote a book?” he said to me.
“I wrote a book, too.”
“I’d like to read it.”
I don’t know why this exchange changed the trajectory of our interaction, but it did. A big smile stretched across his face, and he loosened up. He looked into my eyes for the first time. And then for the next hour, we were lost in conversation—mostly him waxing philosophical, while I listened and chimed in with a reply here and there.
“Privacy is another form of secrecy—what you don’t want a group of people to know. The idea of privacy and secrecy comes from Morse code. Date it back to the CIA, the war. Apply Morse code to your app. Apply the secrecy to Morse code. Through a simple tap like this,” he said, tapping the table, mimicking the sound of Morse code. Continuing after a long pause, he said, “I want to be able to send a track to Pitbull, and I don’t want to worry about it.” (He’s currently collaborating on an album with Pitbull.)
I asked him about his music. “Music is a hobby,” he responded. “I build technology, too.”
Wyclef then fell into a deep monologue. I tried to keep up. “Obama says that he’s going to war with Syria, and that statement changes in some ways after it’s translated into other languages. Sometimes language changes perception,” he said at one point.
“Love is a word applied to a situation of a situation created by us humans. Hope is another word created by us humans to create a form of faith. We can always justify whatever we go through because the forces that create this facade,” he said at another point.
He was confident, cool, and smart as hell, but sometimes he held back. It seemed that he didn’t want to let on how smart he was, as if he feared it would weaken him.
After another one of his pauses, he looked at me and said, “Man, why the fuck are we living?” But before I could respond, he said, “At times, love is cool. Even a man who is an atheist, who doesn’t believe in God, even he acknowledges the beauty in the rising of the sun, the sunset, the plants … the idea of mysterious things happening.”
An attractive girl, wearing workout clothes—fresh from a workout?—came into the room, and said, “Hey, Clef, I just wanted to say good-bye.”
Wyclef rose from his chair and gave her a warm huge. “You smell funny,” he said, bringing her to a giggle. She nodded at me and left the room.
He watched her leave and then focused back on me. “Men—naturally we move as animals. Women are smart. They don’t think with their body parts. You know … before the King James Version of the Bible is the Wyclef Jean Version. Seriously, you can look it up. I got kicked out of Bible study every Sunday. One time, when I was a young boy, I made a speech in front of my church. I said, ‘I’m here to tell you church folks that I brought a message directly from the Devil. The Devil told me to tell ya’ll to stop blaming him for everything. That if God gave the Devil a pass, you mother fuckers need to give the Devil a pass, too.’”
I made him laugh once. He made me laugh several times. I felt a connection with him. And I was sad when I knew the moment had come when our time had reached its end. I got up and gave him a hug.
“Thanks for tonight,” I told him. “This was a great experience for me.”
“We only survive because of each other.”
I nodded and headed for the door. I had a flight to catch—and right then I wanted to be alone, in my room, with my notes and my thoughts … in my private world.
“You guys are creating privacy,” he said just as I was being ushered out. “I already created secrecy.”
Why Wyclef Jean Removed His Hoodie | Part 3
The next day, the executives were interviewing a group of girls, some of whom would be selected to work the private fashion show later that night. As the girls were being questioned, I looked around the room. The entire lounge at the Soho Grand was alive with conversation. I narrowed my focus on one beautiful young woman, in her twenties, sitting on the couch across from me with a much older man (in his seventies?). I first watched him, moving his hands as he spoke passionately about something. And then I watched her, as she listened to him, tossing her hair, flashing the most seductive smiles, blinking the most sparkling eyes, staring at her much older companion with a gaze designed for a more suitable, youthful, good-looking lover. What is driving this conversation? Money? Love? Fame?
I tuned back into the conversation happening at my table.
“We want you to feel comfortable talking about the app,” one of the executives instructed the girls. “Do you feel like you can talk about it casually?”
“Oh, sure,” one of the more confident girls claimed. She was extraordinarily tall, long-legged, with a wickedly flirtatious smile. “I know what this app is for. It’s so you guys can do a little private sexting and not worry about anyone finding out,” she quipped, winking at the executives.
The executives paused and smiled at her. It’s not giving too much away to say that I later saw her working at the event.
The fashion show was being held in the penthouse suit of the Soho Grand. Maybe Lindsay Lohan didn’t have the penthouse suite this week? The room was, once again, roped off and guarded by the same bouncer. This time, he just let me pass. Maybe I’ve earned my way into the world of privileged privacy?
Inside, the space was magnificent: the living room itself bigger than most New York apartments, the shelves stacked with hardcover artsy books by Ed Ruscha, Peirre Cardin, Jasper Johns, and Jackson Pollock, and the deck, my God, the deck, big enough to play catch with baseball, offered the most beautiful panoramic view of New York City I’d ever seen. In the corner, a host was set up to serve champagne. The guests, in styled-perfectly outfits, began to arrive, and the show, led by Omar Salam, would, it was announced, start shortly. Omar darted quickly about the room, nervously, and chatted politely with whoever asked for his time.
The models, three of them, wearing beautiful dresses and stoic faces, filed into the room, and, to a seductive tune over the room’s loudspeakers, began their circular patterns, while everyone gawked in either lust or amazement. I stood in the corner sheepishly, trying my best to observe the scene without being noticed. After a series of wardrobe changes and hundreds of staged photos, the fashion show ended, and the guests, bellies full of fine champagne, converged into the middle of the living room.
I took notice of her right way. Everyone else did, too. Accompanied by a few of her friends, the model Ajak Deng, a star made in Paris—the tallest person in the room, and the most visually striking—made her way into the penthouse suite. Her relaxed smile and casual demeanor told me that she was off duty that night. She sauntered to the bar to enjoy a glass of champagne. Someone snapped a photo of her.
“I’m just hanging out, having a good time,” she whispered to her friend. “Why the cameras tonight?”
Why Wyclef Jean Removed His Hoodie | Part 1
Wyclef Jean’s New York studio, which apparently once belonged to P. Diddy, was reverberating with such an intense bass that I felt the need to cover my ears. I resisted the urge. For the next five minutes, I sat in a chair, watching the maestro, his back to me, as he listened to his new music, huddled over knobs and switches, intently focused. The room finally went quiet, and he swiveled around on his chair to face me, only to say, “You want to talk about real privacy? Because these mother fuckers were trying to kill me.”
So where were we, exactly? Let’s go back ten minutes or so. After being approved by security, I rode a private elevator up to the right floor, and made my way toward a massive metal door that reminded me of an escape hatch on a space shuttle. I announced myself over the intercom. A loud buzzing sound broke the silence and startled me. I turned the handwheel until the door budged and I was able to push my way into the lobby; and then I was greeted by a group of men who seemed very familiar with each other, maybe even part of the same family. One of them told me to walk down the hallway and enter the room at the far end. I followed instructions.
Wyclef pulled his knitted, white hoodie over his head, covering his eyes, allowing me the chance, at least for the first ten seconds after our awkward introduction, to only make acquaintance with the fine black facial hair carved neatly around his chin and mouth.
Maybe he wanted nothing to do with me. Maybe he was annoyed that I, introduced to him as “the writer,” was taking up some of his valuable recording time in the studio. (He does have an album due out soon.) And I knew that his “mother fuckers” were a reference to some Haitian group who were very opposed to Wyclef’s very public intentions to run for the Haitian presidency. It seemed that within minutes I’d already dredged up a very bothersome memory for the music legend.
“So what did you want to ask me today?” he said curtly, finally removing his hoodie, and revealing his dark, piercing eyes—full of an intimidating sagacity that was never before familiar to me, at least with my impression of him as a smiley, love-promoting reggae-hip-hop artist. When I didn’t produce an answer he understood, or one that he hated, he said, “Yeah, sure, but what do you want from me?”
This all started the week before, when I met someone, let’s call him Peter, at a French café in Los Angeles for a glass of wine, and, mostly, to talk about a potential offer he had for me.
“So like I said in the e-mail,” Peter said, after pouring me a glass of red from the bottle, “I have a client who wants his memoir ghostwritten. He needs more time to think about it, though.”
“I thought that was the point of this meeting—to discuss your client’s memoir?”
“We’re launching a new private-messaging app. You have any interest in writing about an app?”
I didn’t answer.
“Here’s the cool thing. You aren’t actually writing about the technology. We just want you to capture the essence of privacy.”
I wasn’t sure how to answer.
“You know—the luxurious-creative-secretive-productive-sexy lifestyle that exists behind the closed doors of privacy.”
I tried to contribute, mumbling something about how it might be hard to sell privacy by writing about people’s private moments. He ignored me.
“Listen, we’ll fly you to New York during fashion week. We’ll pay you. We’ll give you a little bit of a per diem. It’s up to you.”
Now we’re talking. I needed money. And, well … New York. After a five-hour flight and a one-hour cab ride, I was in the lobby of the Soho Grand Hotel—a beautiful boutique hotel in the SoHo district—waiting for the concierge to sort out the business with my room key. I had no work obligations until later that evening when I was supposed to attend a “pre-launch party” at a small art gallery, Voce Di.
I put my bag in my room—a pleasant space with a sweeping view of the adjacent building, which was either apartments or another hotel. I felt odd, and a bit voyeuristic, as I momentarily peered into the lives of several different people, all of whom were unaware of my existence—some dining with friends; some relaxing to the TV; one girl, in her bra and underwear, cleaning up a mess from the previous night’s party. Why were these people so willing to share themselves with me? Surely, I wasn’t the only one watching them. And surely, with their drapes pulled all the way open, they must have been aware, even slightly, of their exposed position. Maybe when people don’t know they’re being watched, they don’t care if they might be being watched?
Back in the lobby, I took a step over an invisible line, past an abnormally-good-looking-tall-male-model host, which meant that I was no longer in the lobby, but in the lounge. I figured I should have lunch. I ordered the trout and a bottle of sparkling water from a dignified waitress in a black, tightly fitted skirt, who addressed me so formally that I immediately felt out of place. I pulled the gray-wool flat cap I was wearing down a bit more over my eyes and opened my Moleskine notebook to a fresh page.
A bunch of top-level exec types, fat-bellied guys with raspy voices and expensive suits, were waiting around, looking important. Hell, maybe they were important. My assumption proved to be true. After about thirty minutes, two gangly assistant types filed in, trailing Miss Lindsay Lohan. Lindsay, looking healthier than she had in previous media snaps, joined them at the table. She seemed apologetic, which led me to believe that she was late for the meeting. She greeted the men, who were ecstatic to finally be in her presence, and then immediately excused herself from the table, leaving her two assistants alone with the fat-bellied crew.
“Lindsay will probably want privacy,” one of them chimed in. “Let’s see if we can get one of the private rooms.” The others agreed.
Lindsay will probably want privacy? I wondered whether Lindsay was haunted by her own face, her image, and, if that were the case, whether she could ever really have a moment of privacy.
But, anyway, they wouldn’t get the opportunity to move to a more private area for some time, because Lindsay didn’t return to the table for nearly half an hour. I was almost finished with my meal when she returned, apologetic again. The group rose from the table and moved swiftly in the direction of privacy. I watched the others in the room, as Lindsay walked past me, pretend not to notice her, and then listened to the same people whisper about her after she disappeared behind closed doors.
“She always likes to stay here,” one said.
“I heard she has the penthouse suite for the week,” another said.
Where the hell am I?