Austin, Texas Philippines. One L. Three P’s.

I’m in Austin for a local talk show. This is the start of a mini media tour for my sponsor.

As it happened, my hotel is right next to the Congress ave bridge. I insisted that Wendy, my PR handler, come down to the waterfront and watch the bats emerge at dusk. There’s a whole colony of them living under the bridge. This is a fairly recent development. They just decided it looked like a good home.

Wendy had never seen a bat before. Now she’s seen billions.

It’s not often you get to see natural phenomena like that in the heart of a modern city.

Dinner on 6th st.

Wendy told me a story about watching the video for the first time and reading some of the comments people left. She started getting teary-eyed at the stuff people were saying. She sent it to a co-worker, Susie, who also traveled with me across the US in September and helped sign people up to be in the video. She heard the music playing as Susie watched it a few offices over. When it finished, she heard Susie get up and walk down the hall.

Susie turned the corner into Wendy’s office with tears running down her face. Wendy was already crying, so she just shifted into full-on bawling and they both let if flow together.

By this point in the story, I was doubled over on the floor in hysterics. ROFL, you might say.

I’ve met a few PR people in my time. I’ve found them to be a pretty jaded bunch. Bullshit is their stock in trade (I mean that in the nicest way). They don’t cry easy.

As a longtime devotee of aint-it-cool-news, I’ve always wanted to take in a movie at the famous Alamo Drafthouse, but it’s never worked out in the past. I went to see Sex and the City by myself, which makes me, officially, a woman.

I left about halfway in, right after Charlotte crapped her pants. It wasn’t the girlie stuff — or the scatology either. The movie has absolutely no momentum. It’s like a car that dies at every stoplight. Plus, ya know, I’m a little distracted…

The new video is the most-watched thing on the internet right now.

…well, surely someone out there is inserting something somewhere they shouldn’t on camera, and there are way more people watching that, but no one is bothering to track it.

It took over a week for the last video to get a million views. This one crossed that mark in less than two days. Even the soundtrack is doing great, and people actually have to fork over money for that. It’s outselling Hannah Stinking Montana!

That money goes straight to Garry Schyman, the composer, by the way. And by Jupiter, he deserves it!

The walls are rattling on my site. I did my best to keep it running, but it’s not set up for anywhere near this amount of traffic.

Speaking of my site, the FAQ is two years out of date. Ignore everything in there. I’m still working on a downloadable HD version. I know you know some great site that’ll solve all my problems, but trust me. It’s complicated. And sorry about all the missing journal posts. There’s a lot of ground I never got around to covering. Israel, Papua New Guinea, Ireland, Bhutan — the more I have to say, the less likely I am to get around to it.

I put the video up on Friday. Melissa and I spent the morning on the couch, glued to our computers and reading comments back and forth to each other.

Who knew you people were such softies?

I’d gotten up in the middle of the night to upload the video and have it ready at the start of the east coast workday. This may have been a good idea in theory, but my grogginess resulted in the wrong file getting uploaded. The version now playing on YouTube was compressed from a mediocre Windows Media file instead of the superior Quicktime. Also, the running-in sequence isn’t quite right, Sydney is too dark, and New York is too bright.

These things I can live with, but someone also pointed out that I spelled the Philippines wrong, which is terribly embarassing.

When it got featured on YouTube, we took a walk and tried to get some perspective. I failed at this. I was getting statistical updates every few minutes from my sister.

Yesterday, we pulled away from the swirling vortex long enough to go to the Solstice Parade in Fremont. I’d never been. Naked people on bicycles definitely helps get your mind off things.

We stopped into Google to use the bathroom and avoid the honey buckets. Some of Melissa’s coworkers were standing naked in the lobby, covered in body paint. This shouldn’t have been terribly surprising, but still, it’s hard to hold a conversation with someone who has star-spangled boobs.

50 Responses to Austin, Texas Philippines. One L. Three P’s.

  1. You may have seen Sex and the City by yourself, but that is not as bad as being completely up to speed on the Gilmore Girls. In my defense, I have a lot of sisters, they bought them, and sometimes there is not much to do.

    One time on Unwrapped they showed how Google cooks free gourmet lunches for all their employees everyday … you should have gone for some! But the naked people, right…I suppose that could have made you forget just about any number 1 priority in that situation. Oh well.

  2. sorana

    When are you coming to Romania (Europe)? There are a lot of people here who would love to dance with you and the country is lovely.

  3. I hope that some of your talk show appearances make their way to YouTube.

    Have you considered microblogging your travels with Twitter? Actually, brightkite.com would would make even more sense because it includes the option of including your geographical location and it will update Twitter, too (brightkite is in Beta right now, but if you want an invite, just mention it on here and you’ll get plenty).

  4. Christine

    Matt and Melissa!!! Wow, I see your in Miramar, just down I95 from where I am. Are you dancing there? If so, can I dance with you? Pretty please. I am very lonely, my husband and kids are in Minnesota because I had to stay for an Algebra final (at 45 I went back to school). I failed it. Now I have to take that damn class again. Please let me know if your dancing and if so invite me! I was on youtube and saw the video. I cried too,promptly called my kids and they saw it, they LOVED it.
    You Rock. All the best.
    Christine

  5. Matt, hope you enjoyed your time in Austin, sorry your visit was so short. Yeah, my wife and all her girlfriends went to the very same Alamo to see Sex and the City and loved it. But the way they were drunkenly babbling when I picked them up, I could tell they probably couldn’t care less what the hell movie got showed, or whether it sucked. That’s the beauty of the Alamo, though – if the movie stinks, order more drinks.

    …Whoa, I think I just coined their new slogan.

  6. Rob

    I’m moved to deliver a philippic against the philistine and wannabe philologist who filibustered you about the spelling of Philippines. I think we can all agree that, at a minimum, he was guilty of lippiness.

  7. AnneduSud

    Great video, amazing, I discoveresd it today on Youtube because of a cousin of mine, I hope one day you’ll come to dance on the “Pont d’Avignon”, close to my village in south of France!
    Congratulations, it makes me happy!

  8. Roemarie

    Cogratulations Matt and Melissa on the success of the new video. I was watching the stats on YouTube all day Fri., it was unbelievable. Over 2 million hits on YouTube in 4 days, amazing. I posted on Fri., I danced in LA and knew this video would be a fierce success and it is. Lot’s of teary eyed folks all over the place. Most viewed on the internet…..wow the Stride folks must be beside themselves.
    Can you let us know where you will be (what shows you are doing) on the publicity tour? I have feeling it’s going to get bigger than originally plan as the word leaks out about this video. What I woulf like to see is a full blown article in National Geographic and a 1 hour special on NatGeo Travel. What do you think?
    Again, Congrats on the success of Dancing 2008, so happy to have been a part of it!

  9. Cam

    Hahaha! We also went to the Fremont Fair. Thankfully, we got there well after the parade, but that didn’t stop the naked people from continuing to roam the event.

  10. Josue

    I wish I would have known that you were coming to Austin, Texas. I would had love to join you on a little dance. I remember watching your first video and how it inspire me to do some travleing also. Your videos are wonderful, I hope Stride and you have more traveling to do in the future.

  11. The video moved me near to tears. I’m also a Seattleite and hope to one day run into you out there in this corner of the world. So amazing. Keep it up.

  12. Maria

    This is a really awesome thing you did Matt! I’ve seen the first video (was that 2005?) and it was so amazing. Thank you for visiting the Philippines. Next time you should dance in front of the Rizal Shrine. That should be good. And your videos make me want to save up (fresh graduate, hehe) and see the world! Keep it up!

  13. Calix Saul

    Hola Matt!!!

    Quería decirte que me encantó el video de “Donde Rayos Está Matt? (dosmil ocho).

    Muchas Felicitaciones por el Video!!!

    También quería preguntarte cuando irás a Puerto Rico (La Isla del Encanto). Las playas son bellas y te aseguro que habrá gente de sobra que quiera bailar contigo.

    Saludos,
    Calix

    Hey Matt!!!

    I wanted to let you know that I really loved the video “Where the hell is Matt? (2008).

    Congratulations for such a GREAT VIDEO!!!

    I also wanted to ask you when are you going to Puerto Rico (The enchanted Island). The beaches are beautiful and there will be a lot of puertorricans willing to dance with you.

    Cheers,
    Calix

  14. Matt, first of all, you’ve GOTTA write a blog about Bhutan! I’m going in July and I need your wisdom! Second, I am an independent filmmaker and I would LOVE to make a video for your FAQ where you go through your gear and some of how you plan out your trips. I would do this for free, of course. Seriously, I want to do it. I’m fascinated by people like you and Kevin Sites, and by the gear you choose to take and how light you choose to pack. Can I do this for you?

  15. Hi Matt,

    Welcome to Austin! Hope you can stay longer next time.

    The videos are fantastic. Thank you for dancing ’round the world for the rest of us who can’t. It brought more than one smile and laugh.

    Rock on!

  16. I’m really happy that your video is getting the positive response that it has been getting. It restores my good faith in people. :)

    My kids and I found your ‘outtake’ video last year, and it still makes us laugh so hard we cry. We’ve been tracking your progress around the world on our map and I can’t tell you how enthusiastic my kids are about world geography because of it. We’ve watched your newest video at least 500,000 of the million or so times it’s been watched, just so they can pick out a spot on our map that matches the place in your video. Our favorite is when you matched your dance up with the traditional Indian women.

    I applaud you for doing this, and I applaud Stride gum for recognizing how great it really is. We’re a Stride family, now. :)

    And…it made my Dad cry, and I can count on one hand how often I’ve seen that happen.

    Thanks for putting some good in the world. All over the world, actually.

  17. Skip

    I also Want to welcome you to Austin, I wish I had known you were here, not that you need any more fans…

    Want to talk about girly moments, This morning I emailed the link to this video to about 20 of my closed buddies, by noon, I had three guys call me an tell me they had cried…. and 8 others that had a smile on their face all day long.

    Seriously such a simply idea has such a strong message,
    cheers – Skip (Austin)

  18. Thank you for the video “Dancing 2008”, it made my day.
    I think you do more for peace in this world than any politician does with big talk.

  19. Matt: Like so many others, I was moved by your video. In my case my emotions were already unsettled due to the tragic loss of a dancer, my neighbor’s son was murdered last week for the $5 in his wallet.
    link to twincities.com
    Thank you for demonstrating the unifying power of dance. I think Joe would have understood perfectly.

  20. Melli

    Das Leben kann so schön sein, wenn man nur genau hinsieht und die täglichen kleinen Wunder erkennt!
    Life can be so beautiful, you just have to look very closely and see all the daily little wonders!

    Danke für die Inspiration-
    Thank you for the inspiration!

  21. I think I encountered an error just now trying to post… I’ll give it another shot.

    Wait – you were in Austin? Again?! Dammit!

    I remember seeing your first two videos and had let it slip my mind until, recently, a friend sent me the link for your third (Dancing 2008). I happen to run a daily-cool-stuff type site and featured you for today.

    link to iamjealous.wordpress.com

    This is an awesome thing you are doing. Very interested to know what you will think of next.

  22. Another great video Matt, congrats to you and Melissa and everyone who helped you along the way for turning out something so great.

    I’d like to echo the cry for a Bhutan piece, I’ve long been curious about the place.

    Also, Star Spangled Boobs would make a good band name. I wonder if it’s taken on Rock Band yet.

  23. Saw your video for the first time today and was (I am at a loss for words here) amazed? moved? dumbstruck? Come back to AZ, specifically Tucson, and we can find some saguaros to dance with. Wonderful, wonderful stuff. Thank you.

  24. Eddie

    Bats under the bridge in Austin are only a “fairly recent development” if you consider 1980 fairly recent. The colony – North America’s largest urban bat colony, by the way – has been under the Congress Ave bridge after renovations were made 28 years ago.

  25. Melissa

    Thank you for these videos!!! They are so positive and beautiful and uplifting. My kids and I love them. When my daughter talks about different places around the world, she adds, “I bet Matt has danced there” We’re looking forward to your next adventure!

  26. karts

    Matt, came across your 2008 Dance vid on Facebook…just want to say, thanks for making my day! It is BRILLIANT!

    It’s not often a complete stranger and his quirky habits from the other side of the planet has this much of an effect on me, so going forward whenever I hit the dance floor on a night out, I’ll do a token Mattdance in pure appreciation!!

  27. Sebastian

    Hi Matt. :)
    Thank you for these moments of fun and a big smile on my face today 😀
    If you´ll ever get to germany again I´ll be there!

  28. Chaz

    I remember the bats being there forever. I don’t know what you consider fairly recent, but I can remember as a kid (4 or 5) going to see them and I’m 31 years old.

    Glad you had a good time in Austin. It’s my favorite city in Texas.

  29. Just saw a link to your video YESTERDAY so Twittered it. I hope the Twitter community spreads the word like wildfire all over again. link to twitter.com

    And yes, I cried, too, when I saw it. And then proclaimed it the tool for bringing on World Peace. Congrats.

  30. Leona

    Matt & Melissa,
    Awesome video! One of the blogs I read regularly had it posted and wow, I was blown away. It’s great that you are able to do this(not just for you since you don’t have to “work” but also for us since you share it). Hope you are able to do more dancing and traveling. Meanwhile, I loved the end shot in Gas Works Park and the other one at the Troll. Made me nostalgic for Seattle. :) If you come to Las Vegas make sure you advertise, I’d love to be a dancing fool in the next video with you!

  31. Lightheaded

    This is so much cool! I saw your dancing video via my friend’s blog post and was blown by it! Lovely, lovely idea!

    Oh and thanks for recognizing the incorrect spelling of Philippines.

  32. Christy

    Thanks for making your videos–every time I come to your site to look at them, they make me smile, inside and out :)

  33. Diana

    Thanks for a smile.

    I’m an internet curmudgeon-ette. That is, I’m the one who breaks the chain letters, who looks stuff up on Snopes and then sends snarky letters to people who send hokey virus warnings.

    I sent the link to your video to 20 people. Makes me grin.

  34. Matt,
    I would like to introduce Dancingman to Signman. Signman is my alter-ego that was influenced by the Rainbow Hair/John 3:16 guy that showed up at lots of televised sporting events back in the late 70s and early 80s. That’s what happens when your mother uses the television as a babysitter! Thanks mom!

    link to youtube.com

    Amazing video! I share your adventurous wanderlust. I am so jealous.

    Peace!

  35. Karlu Kervin

    hey matt.i just dropped by to say that the video you made really inspired me.it inspired me in a lot of ways.im karlu kervin from the philippines and i was so happy that you we’re able to feature our country in your video. that made me feel great. just like you, i also wanna travel someday. and seeing ur video, it just made me more determined to work hard so someday i would be able to go to the places where you’ve been…and dance too. :-) life is very hard,cruel and unfair. But people like you just makes living worthwhile and makes everyone realize that despite all the pain we go through while we live, the ultimate point of life is JOY. Continue dancing matt. For all the world to see.

    I am a sucker for ‘positive people.’

    You have just been included in my list.

    There’s one thing i would kindly ask you to do: Keep doing what you do. You are one of the few people who keeps the world together. Viva to you! Viva to happiness. God bless.

  36. Kel in Austin

    Matt – found you through Towleroad.com I can’t believe you were in Austin just a few days ago and I missed you, and I work right off the Congress Bridge.

    Anywho..wow you really have no idea how much you inspire people and bring joy. Thanks for doing it and please keep on. It’s amazing how a smile can change someone’s life.

    Mother Theresa said “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” I think that applies here.

  37. Daniel from DVP, Argentina

    D’2008:
    Superb production! I follow you since 2006 on the web. Excellent the edition sequences of the people gathering arround you. But the top footage is dancing inside the gravityless plain.

    Warmest regards. Keep dancing.

  38. Mark

    Matt,
    I worked at the Hyatt right by the Congress bridge for 3 years and worked plenty of the Capital Cruise Tours (the boats that go up and down the river and hover around the bridge to watch the bats). I’ve heard the explanation on the bats quite a few times. ~1.5 million Mexican Freetale bats migrate from, where else, Mexico (all pregnant females by the way), settle in the bridge, give birth to one baby (or ‘pup’), thus doubling the population to roughly 3 million bats. If I remember correctly, in October or so they all return to Mexico, drink a bunch of tequila, knock up all the female bats and the process repeats.

    …..you know, just in case you harbor a secret passion for bats.

    Also, the new video is totally SWEET!

  39. Jessica

    It is so great what you are doing. You should come to my camp, Camp Coca-cola(A.K.A. C5) We have plenty of wierdos there that would love to dance with you. We are a camp that helps the community by taking people with low money intake and giveing them a good summer and scolorships to College.

    We would love to have you come.

    P.S. Come back to Austin sometime…and visit MacCallum High school. Home of the Fine Arts Acadamy…

    :)

  40. Lilly Rohling

    This was just HUGE!

    I THANK YOU SO MUCH! (: This video were the flowers of my DAY!
    IT GAVE ME SO MUCH ENERGY AND COURAGE not to give up any of my dreams!

    * xxx Lilly *

  41. Ana

    Who can resist dancing with you, Matt? We are also aiming to dance our lives away like you.
    From Ibiza Spain, with love.

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