Have you ever been so positive, so excited, and so determined to make an idea flourish into a real thing that you would do anything to make it happen? And then, once you’ve finally made it happen, your creation tanks in a rapid and yet simultaneously slow – massive death? All meaning you’ve wasted a stupid amount of money you didn’t really have? Yeah me neither. Haha. I wish the title was click bait. Let’s just say some lessons are more expensive than others.
This would be a really good time to bring my wife in to talk about all of my ideas over the years. She would roll her eyes and then list with deadly accuracy all of the things I have had a go at. A very important disclaimer is now needed – especially if my wife ever sees this. I’ve now made her seem like a vicious ronch banshee face woman of the third degree. I love her dearly. She’s very supportive.
And honestly, I have to give the girl credit – If I was in her shoes I would roll my eyes too. I have a lot of ideas. She just cannot fully grasp how encompassing and ever-burning the desire inside of me is to be successful at creative stuff. Ok, it’s time for me to jump into my past self and give a modified list of some of the ideas I have worked on in the past fifteen years for your reading pleasure and my self therapeutic requirements:
- An LLC called Busted Gut Music, which was going to be a record label among other things.
- An LLC called Lapidell, a company with my buddy Cam to produce any weird creative idea we could muster. Musterings were fruitless, barren, and devoid of creative idea mustard. We always had fun getting Taco Bell together though.
- I created a character called Sugpublious Barks, who was to be an online cartoon detective who would “solve” crimes and questions submitted to him. Most of the time he would just end up making fun of people (Dibs on the name and idea, because I still like it).
- Unlock the Rock – an entertainment company to release films and media projects. UnlocktheRock.com.
- I own hundreds and hundreds of domain names that I have bought up over the years in the hopes of doing something fun and creative with them. Among them is iLoveZombies.com. People are crazy for Zombies – but so far the website is full on dead – in the grave – with no signs of Michael Jackson coming over to dance to wake us the crap up.
- I opened QualityBeddings.com, I got like three orders from Canada and then starkly realized, why would a creative person want to be selling down comforters and bedding online? I never touched it again. It sat there for years with outdated products and everything. I even got an order every once and awhile only to piss people off that I didn’t have the products anymore.
- Chanked.com, was going to be an online comic I wrote with a good friend about a little dude named chank. By the way, as far as I know I invented the word Chank when I was in high school – I have used it for everything ever since. It is an excellent multi tasking verb, or even a noun. “I just got chanked!” “Chank you man.” “I am your Chank, thats all there is to it.” By the way, Chank.com thinks it is the name for a font. But, I totally made it up before them.
- The Fatty and Chubs Show – this is a classic two man show filmed in a garage. It is in the realm of The Great White North and Wayne’s World. We have a super fan that got her church to play some of our videos during worship. Haha. And, my mom thinks it’s super funny. So, we have that going for us.
- Songs for Offending. This was an idea of creating a series of offending short songs people could use as ringtones or just for a laugh. You could assign them in your phone so when a certain person calls the song
“Lord of the Douchebags” would play (my personal favorite of the ones I recorded).
Other classics were the songs – “You Smell Like Butt Cheese”,
“Remember That One Time You Were A Bloody Freaking Idiot? I Do,”
and Ha Ha Ha You’re Fat. My mom was positive that these songs were going to make someone commit suicide. I just thought they were kind of funny.
The Big Loss
There’s many many other ideas and projects I could discuss, but the next one is a big one, and you gotta know the back story to get the full picture. I took a social psychology class when I was in college. The teacher gave us an assignment to go out and break a social norm. We were to be as creative as possible. After going out and farting in an elevator or wearing panties on your head all day we had to write a short paper about what we did, and how the overall experience made us feel. I failed at being super creative.
The weekend before the assignment was due I happened to be on a trip with my Dad, and we were hanging at a hotel. We approached some ladies sitting in a nice lobby with a plate of peanuts. I did a little dance and put the plate in the ladies faces while my Dad sang a beautiful song “Hey lady eat some peanuts.” They refused. Those pompous lobby dwellers.
When I made it back to class the following week, that period was the most fun I have ever had in a class. We spent the entire session standing up and sharing our papers one what norms we broke. There were over a hundred students, and most of us shared. An hour and a half of straight laughing, it was great. Then BAM – I got that sparkle in my eye and an idea formed. If my wife had been there she may have just bashed my head in with a crowbar, because she would have known that I was about to come up with an “amazing” idea.
Breaking social norms is funny. There are a number of websites out there that basically post a steady stream of content focused on weird people. PeopleOfWalmart.com at the time, was a great example of this. Those dudes have made a good amount of money just by posting up pictures of off-beat folks found in the Walmarts around the country. Failblog was another very popular one that capitalized on showing dumb people. Yet, there was nothing completely focused on the idea of Breaking Social Norms… yet. My eyes were glimmering like a midnight mountain comet shower. It’s perfect!
I can create a website where anyone can post pictures and videos of people doing breaking social norm-y type things. What would make us stand out is we would create a ton of original content as well. It would be a like a mix of The Onion and Failblog. I can’t fail! Yes Wes, yes you can. I know way too much about ecommerce and marketing from my day job at that time, and I knew that having a killer domain name can be vital to some businesses.
It just so happened that BSN.org was on the market for sale. For you domain novices reading this – you can really think of website name purchasing (i.e. URL’s, domains) similar to buying a piece of physical property. Some houses are worth more because of the where they are located, or they have marble everything, or tons of land.
Typically speaking, less is more with domains. Meaning – short and relevant domain names can be worth a lot of money. Sex.com for example, sold for 13 million bloody dollars. The owners of BSN.org were selling the domain at a price tag of $20,000. Chank. My wife and I bought our current car for 6 grand.
I was so sure that my breaking social norms idea would be a huge success that I became obsessed about owning that domain name. I was sure that owning this URL would help us be successful. BSN.org is better than BreakingSocialNorms.com right? The earth was shouting yes on that one to me. Shut up earth. I then began thinking of any possible way that I could acquire this domain. It must be done.
My wife and I had a grand total of $10,000 in an IRA that had been growing from automatic deposits from my job. It took about 6 years to get that amount – and it was our only form of savings. Can you guess what I did? Yeah. I talked with my supportive wife and explained we couldn’t lose. Worse case scenario, if the idea wasn’t successful I could always sell the domain back to someone. Domains typically appreciate more consistently than many other investments right? I told myself that.
So, I closed out our IRA and got a loan to cover the rest. Oh yeah baby, I now own BSN.org! Come on you skeptical person, Failblog and PeopleofWalmart at the time made like a million a year each, and The Onion makes millions a year. I know there’s room in the market for this idea, and this investment will pay off one hundred fold. A couple months later, we launched!
The strength of the domain BSN.org was getting us like 400 people a month of traffic right away, which I thought was a great start, but none of them stayed long. Most likely because the most used acronym for BSN is the Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing! People looking for information on a nursing degree might not appreciate the “licking a wall” or “live goat hat pictures” we displayed.
I told myself the real reason it wasn’t successful at first was because I couldn’t focus on it. I was working full time, going to school full time, taking care of a sick mom, and trying to be a good husband. Our content was never super amazing, and by “our” I mean “my”. I didn’t have any help, and it was a lot for one guy to do. Nice sounding excuses, almoster pants. Almoster pants not to be confused with allmoister pants, which is a very very different thing.
I have yet to make more than $20 bucks with BSN.org. When things got a bit desperate with job losses and other junk, I tried to sell the thing. The previous owner was kind enough to give me some contacts of previous people that were interested. Apparently when I bought the sucker, I was in a bidding war with the Business School of Netherlands, but they didn’t want to pay $20k for a domain. Great, I outbid a swear wording school!!?
Sorry if you wanted the full swears version here. One person I know that will read every word and anything I do is my mom, and I really can’t bare to have more “Wes you are going to make people commit suicide” discussions with her. Haha. I figure if short offending songs make people want to die, swears must have the same effect.
I wonder how many people wanted to get knocked off after watching The Great Lebowski? F-bomb count is around 260. I spent three months straight trying to contact companies that could hopefully find value with the BSN acronym. No one ever bought. Fail fail fail. Anytime I want to look at my life savings I can still head on over to BSN.org, and stare at the blank screen.
I wonder if it would have gone anywhere if I would have pushed through the obstacles and kept going? One thing is clear – basing content on the idea of breaking social norms can be wildly successful. Look at Impractical Jokers! That’s all those guys do. As a side note, there are very few days that go by without someone telling me I look like Sal. I’ve had people straight up convinced I was him and I had to ensure them otherwise. I can’t deny some similarity.
Back to BSN.org! I full on got to a point where I stopped working on it, probably out of a little guilt and depression that the idea didn’t skyrocket like I thought it would. If you have any ideas for it like me know. I’ve thought of every possible angle. Maybe the people that bought Sex.com would buy it if I told them it stands for Better Sex Now? Eh, let’s just continue on here with my self therapy session.
Soul Piercing Music
Now, the journey of my ideas wouldn’t be complete without discussing music. Music is a part of my soul. While my passion for music has no correlation whatsoever to making a living out of it – I cannot rid myself of that nagging feeling that it would be amazing to do nothing other than write and perform music. I have tried every seemingly legit service out there that helps musicians network, get publishing deals, gigs, and record deals.
Highest moment was Jack Douglas (long time famous producer of people like John Lennon) saying he liked my music. Lowest – was definitely being compared to Nickelback. Usually I love everything from Canada, weird. Also a boss once tell me – “I love the music, but your voice, your voice is no good.” Weirder still, that same boss became a patron of my music years later. But, I kind think he just felt bad for letting me go with the pandemic layoff the company experienced. Haha.
I’ve been in a bunch of different bands, the majority of which contained different combinations of mostly the same people. The majority of which also had different combinations of mostly the same fans consisting of family and a weird old lady that showed up to everything and smelled like a pastrami sandwich on rye.
Let’s review all these fine musical groups. Check these names out:
Swedish Apple Dog
Spend a Penny
According to People
Whaa! I just unintentionally created the outline of a woman’s figure with old band names! haha! Amazing what completely useless things can happen when you’re not trying, that’s a shift for me because usually useless things happen when I am trying (That’s old Wes remember). Maybe I can make the most out of the situation:
Yikes. Looks like a creepy Meryl Streep. Maybe this was the ghost of the old pastrami sandwich lady guiding my hand and telling me she still loves my music. She’s gotta be dead by now. Pastrami old weird woman lady is that you? Ooo I bet Cam could do something cool with this –
Daaang. That’s more like it! Ok I got way off track. Those were all super in the past groups. There’s four more recent-y groups:
Finally – there’s Wesly. The sole survivor of all the groups, which is my solo project. The past me when thinking about my music and shear lack of fans would surely say: “The real letdown here is, despite all the work, money, and passion I have put into my music – only like 100 people have ever heard it.”
Steve Martin drove this same idea home when talking about creating comedy. What’s the point if no one ever hears it? His remedy was you’ve got to go where comedy is happening, get involved, and be heard. I understand his point. But, I say this is far less important these days because of the internet, especially with music.
Today me has a few fine words for past me and my past failed ideas. They were all building blocks you goof bucket! So you lost $20k. So what? Every single thing I’ve built but then screwed up, is only going to make be stronger and more resilient. All of it, every last piece of it – is leading to a big and different kind of success. And that’s the road I’m on now! I Will Thrive!
Onward ho! But… in all honesty, in this exact moment, all I can think about is women and pastrami. I don’t have too many letdowns related to pastrami (though I did puke up a Carnegie Deli pastrami sandwich once – big sandwich, big consequences). So I guess I’ll just move on to women. Plenty to almost talk about there.
Ok, pastrami burger now, and I’ll be back tomorrow to talk to you about women. Now…. that’s an idea.
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