Seattle, Washington Tyra and Tesla

The 2008 video passed the 10 million mark on YouTube today.


It took 83 days to get there. The 2006 video took a little over 2 years to hit that number.

Seems as good a reason as any to post.

It’s been over a month since I’ve done a real update. So, let’s see. Where did I leave off?…

Flew back from Michigan and had less than 10 hours in Seattle to sleep and say hi to my girlfriend before I had to fly down to LA for the Jiminy Kimmel show.

I called Melissa from the green room before going on, but the reception was terrible, so I wandered out into the alley off Hollywood Boulevard.

As we talked, I noticed three men with enormous cameras taking pictures about fifty yards away.

"Who are those guys taking pictures of?…Oh. They’re taking pictures of me. Why are they taking pictures of me?…Holy crap. They’re paparazzi. Why are paparazzi taking pictures of me? Oh, right. They think I might be famous…They’re still thinking I might be famous. Wait. One of them is dropping his camera. He realized I’m not famous…Hold on! He’s taking pictures again. I might still turn out to be famous. No. No. He’s changed his mind. I’m definitely not famous at all."

Melissa was enthralled.

By the way, I had no idea about the falling off the rock thing. It really did shake me up a bit. It was, after all, like witnessing one’s own death.

Speaking of witnessing one’s own death, the following week I was invited out to New York to go on The Tyra Banks Show.

There was, I assure you, a probing, meticulously researched, and ultimately revelatory interview, but all I can scrounge off the internet is this tense, awkward bit at the end.

I like the part where she commands her audience to dance by saying, "Do it, audience!" She actually refers to her audience as "audience."

I can’t say I spent any time with her that wasn’t in front of a camera, and even that was very brief, but I did come away with some personal impressions. The crux of the show seems to be that every fathomable subject is somehow actually all about Tyra. My episode was ostensibly on popular YouTube videos, but it was really about Tyra’s favorite videos, with occasional digressions into the inexplicable popularity of videos Tyra doesn’t like.

I found it telling when she mentioned she’s allergic to cats, then appeared confounded that people enjoy watching cat videos on YouTube, as if the two things were related. It seemed she was saying: "Don’t you people understand? I’m allergic to cats!"

I’m not sure the term self-involved even covers it. It’s not narcissism. It’s solipsism.

Also, when did it become okay to ask someone how much money they make?

…but lest I should sound like I’m talking trash, I recognize that while boorishness and vanity are off-putting traits in person, they’re also enormously advantageous on television — especially when you’ve got a show named after you. I can’t imagine she’s encouraged to behave in a thoughtful or modest fashion.

And I suppose I should acknowledge that I have a web site named after myself and it’s basically about how every place in the world somehow ties back to me. So maybe I’m just projecting.

One cool bit from the show: they had the couple that made the Wii Fit video on. I seem to be unable to embed it here because of its "objectionable" content. Basically, a guy recorded his girlfriend playing the hula hoop game on Wii Fit. It was a lazy Sunday morning, she was in her panties, and she is truly a gifted hula hooper.

By way of comeupance, they had the boyfriend play the hula hoop game onstage while the girlfriend filmed. Then Tyra commanded him to do it again in his underpants. And since it’s television and the rules are you have to do whatever Tyra says, he did.

I was backstage and I can confirm he had no idea that was going to happen. But the girlfriend did. It was good TV.

The Tyra folks put me up in the New Yorker Hotel, which appears dumpy today, but in its time it was an art deco landmark and a destination of choice for noteworthy figures. Few were more noteworthy than Nikola Tesla, who spent the last 10 years of his life in the hotel.

The inventor of both electricity and wireless technology stayed in 3327, in keeping with his habit of occupying rooms that are divisible by 3. There he lived, forgotten and unappreciated, dreaming of time travel, teleportation, spacecrafts, death rays, and doing a whole lot of bitching about Einstein.

I poked around before leaving for the show.

Img_5763 Img_5761

Tesla died in this room in 1943.

There’s a default Kubrickian creepiness to any long hallway with a door at the end. The spooky factor increases dramatically when you hear whispers coming from the other side. I squealed and scurried back to the elevator like a frightened little girl.

The next week I followed Melissa down to Mountain View for her business trip to Google. While there, I followed up on an invite to give a "Tech Talk" on campus.

There’s an excrutiatingly unabridged version on YouTube, but I’m going to try to edit it down and put it up separately without any of my pointless tangents.

At the end of that same week, I came back home and gave a 5 minute Ignite talk at the Gnomedex conference.

As intense and stressful as it was, the Ignite format is a brilliant way to rein in speakers who have a hard time getting to the point. With five minutes, you really don’t have time for anything that isn’t the point.

That was a few weeks ago now and I haven’t had any more trips away from Seattle since. This is the longest I’ve stayed put all year. It’s bliss.

Oh, also, I got a book deal. I’m told it’s due out in May.

61 Responses to Seattle, Washington Tyra and Tesla

  1. Simon

    I must admit, having the Kjeragbolten drop out from beneath you was pretty cool. I should have expected something like this from Jimmy Kimmel, but all the same, I laughed my head off!

  2. How eloquent and honest… I have seen bits of her show and could not even muster the interest to decide why I did not like it. I think you’ve hit on a celebrity quality that is alarmingly in surplus.
    It’s nice to hear you are having time at home, and it will be interesting to see your book. Your *fame* is refreshing, because it is not something you sought and yet you have a great deal to offer, beyond appearing in a video. There is substance and integrity in what you do, and I look forward to seeing what may happen next.

  3. Noriene

    Loved the bit on Tesla, including the spooky pix…when I took my students to Niagara Falls (US)I was surprised to find the memorial to him in the parking lot on Goat Island; my students were astonished that I knew who this Yugoslav/Serb guy was; and then I was horrified that I had to explain to them (they were all 17-18 years old, and on scholarship) what someone named Tesla had to do with Niagara Falls and why he is still important today. They insisted (due to adolescent solipsism, I suppose) that I didn’t know what I was talking about. I made them look it up on their wireless equipment, and they were astonished again. I was delighted when the movie “The Prestige” featured him – and delighted that master of the unusual, David Bowie, portrayed him. Altho the people I saw the movie with completely missed the point. Your curiosity and enthusiasm are a great boon to the world. Thanks for being here and sharing them!

  4. Ali

    Have I mentioned how much I adore you?
    I can’t wait to meet you, someday.
    I also can’t wait to buy your book, someday sooner.

  5. When the rock fell, it gave me flipping chills.

    I think hosts are caught off guard by how deliberate and well spoken you are. Like they think you are going to be one big gimmick. I guess they don’t really put much thought into the time, effort and planning that goes into world travel. I also like that you don’t have a whole lot of preaching to do, that your videos speak for themselves. You’re like “Don’t Look Back” era Bob Dylan in that way.

  6. Ken

    I pestered you about the book deal back at ROFLCon. I hope it proves to be something you’re comfortable and happy with.

    And there’s no threat implied when I say you falling off the rock was hilarious.

  7. Rich

    Nice to know what you are up to. :)

    You appeared on Tyra? The only time I see that show is on “The Soup”.

    I think Anton is right that you catch the TV show hosts off guard with your eloquence and intelligence.

    I had no idea Tesla was such a rogue. I always imagined him living in a castle like the guy who made Frankenstein…

    A book… hmmm… I obviously love your writing. Is it going to be your travel log? I sure hope so!! With the pictures included?! (let me dream…)

  8. So how come Sara N. Dipity took a such a liking to you instead of me? I have to pay for all my travels… still! (grin)

    Yours is an amazing story I shall follow.
    signed, Artful Adventurer Mark… somewhere in eastern Montana heading east in
    The Hunt for Red October!
    Autumn Autumn Autumn….

  9. David Lee Beebe, Jr.

    If you were gay, I’d marry you in California yesterday. Love your videos, music & spirit. Sounds like Melissa is great too. Good for both of you! I laugh & cry watching your videos. I’ll attribute that to my old hippie roots and love of all things. Thanks so much for sharing!

  10. TheWillofDC

    i saw the clip thetyrabanksshow put up of you and her, she seemed very awkward, lol.

    ps keep us updated on the book deal! i’m looking forward to that.

  11. Have to admit, I’m one of the people that cried watching your videos. What an amazing testimony to cultures interacting with each other. Being a traveler myself, also agree that those of us from the US of A should experience other countries & cultures. Thanks for sharing a bit of your life & experiences with us thru video! This rocks!


    P.S. – 3 cheers for never having to go back to work again if you don’t want to!!

  12. seekerchic

    Traveling the world is my passion so I was naturally drawn to you!!

    Thank you for being an inspiration to everyone and the dancing displays that the Universe is One!!

  13. Rachael

    I couldn’t e-mail you so I thought I would do this. I know that you get a million and one e-mails every day, but I just wanted to write and say what a wonderful thing I think you’re doing. It’s not every day that people from all over the world can be connected in such a powerful way. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve watched the 2008 video, but I do know that I get goose bumps every time I watch it. I have to admit it is by far the most amazing thing I have seen someone do in a long time. Thank you for the amazing inspiration.


    Missoula, MT.

  14. JohnnyCK

    Is the book gonna be this journal? I hope so – its a really good journal right from the start. I’ve read from 2003 to 2005 so far. It’s really like travelling in your shoes.

    Neverthless – I will buy your book.


  15. I have just been introduced to your video – the most recent one – and loved it. It was funny and uplifting…and I loved the song.

    Like Rich, the only time I see Tyra is on The Soup (in fact, the potential Tyra-bashing is the only reason I watch The Soup). But I agree that it is completely rude to ask a person about how much money s/he makes. Of course, she doesn’t seem like a person who knows anything about sophistication and benevolence. When you have as much money and fame as Tyra, developing “awareness” would probably be beneficial.

    It’s great to see so much carelessness in a person that he is willing to dance badly with strangers in front of millions of people…and keep smiling about it. It’s especially refreshing in a world that cares so much about the opinions of other people. Thank you.

  16. Rosemarie

    Thanks for the great update Matt. Sorry, but having the Kjeragbolten drop out from under you was hysterical! I can understand how it gave you a fright! The Kimmel segment was too fast, but good exposure.

    Congrats on 10 million hits on Dancing 2008! That is phenominal, only 83 days! Imagine, Googling “Matt” and getting you as the top 4 entries……… are famous.

    The Tesla stuff was interesting and creepy, I bet most people don’t know that he spent the last couple of years of his life at hotel.

    Do you still read these comments?

    Good job on the book deal. Will it be built around your journals? I would certainly expect it to be, and hope that it would be.

    Will there be another video?

    Is there anywhere we can see all the headshots of the dancers from the new video, that would be so cool? Can we see them anywhere?

    Enjoy your time at home!

    Don’t leave us!


    Rosemarie (one of your LA Dancers)

  17. saw the tyra show today, completely by accident. flipping through channels and caught your face and the tube video.
    loving the video’s. not loving tyra. what your wrote in your blog is true, that’s why i can’t watch her show, it’s really is all about her.
    again, lovin the videos! Victoria

  18. Linda

    Thanks for reminding us that no matter where we live, we are all just people and we pretty much want the same things–to live, to love, to laugh.

  19. For other interested parties, here’s the “excruciatingly unabridged version” of the Google Tech Talk that Matt gave on August 18, 2008 at Google offices:

    link to

    It’s an hour long. Maybe it’s excruciating for Matt, but I loved every minute. (Melissa actually speaks for a few seconds.)

  20. That seeing your own death thing shocked me a bit, but it’s funny.

    tyra really really self absorbed. I use to like her, but that show makes me not to like her. The Soup basically have a clip about Tyra almost every week.

    Living in NYC most of my life, I have never been to that hotel. But I agree with the long hallway and a door at the end is really creepy. Thanks for letting me know when i’m about to be staying in a hotel for week next week. >_< It’s good to see you get to rest back home for a longer period of time. It is not easy to travel to so many places. But i’m just surprised that you never did a dancing clip in hong kong. if there is a next time, i hope i can be in that clip. in a few days after this comment, i should be finished with editing my own “dancing” video and put up on youtube. or i’ll just post the link on a later day. so I hope anyone get to see it and let me know how it is. you inspired me to do that matt. hint: 42 ___ in 1 day.

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  22. Just blogged your 2008 dancing video yesterday, in a post about politics. No, really, it *does* make sense!

    The clip of you dancing at the DMZ brings tears to my eyes.

  23. joan

    Hello Matt!!
    When will you come on to Barcelona????

    Barcelona is a pretty city!!! we will hope you

    You Visit the ”Sagrada Familia”

  24. rocky

    I continue to tell everyone about your videos, Matt, we older people are so very touched by your videos and always no matter how many times we see them — especially Where Is Matt 2008 — we find at the end we have tears in our eyes. Few understand why that is, but we accept it. I have my favorite of your videos bookmarked and go there whenever I need to come down from the high-anxiety political conversations / debates / news / speeches …
    Thank you again, Matt. You’ve done a good thing for the world.

  25. Dude

    You are … the man.

    But seeing you on that talk show knocked my smile sideways a little.

    I don’t know what it is … it’s something to do with those doughnuts in the audience, and the doughnut presenter leeching on to something that is soooo genuine.

    My hope is that you transmit ultra coolness to them instead of them transmitting mediocrity to you! lol

    Am I an asshole for saying this? lol.

    Keep up the goodness.

  26. Sandra Virginia Stoffelshaus

    thanks for share it with us…I know that you see the world in another way now…and I know that you can show for the world that we are all the same feelings about love, smile, peace, love, sadness things too…
    Hope to know you one day personally.
    Sandra (from Brazil)

  27. bigsky

    Matt, I’m a 57 hear old dentist and every time I watch your video it makes me tear up. Anybody, what’s that about?????

    LOVE the song.

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  29. Lee Weaver


    You are a prince and the world is Sleeping Beauty,
    you have awakened us all and given us permission to dance.
    Thank you so much .

    Lee Weaver, Atlanta, Ga.

  30. Lee Weaver

    Hi Sandra,
    It has the same effect on me. In
    my heart I think we all so want the world to be happy and for these brief moments…..
    we see wonderful happiness. Pure, unfiltered humans doing what they do best…
    responding to the gift of happiness.

  31. Matt Welton

    Hey Matt,

    Thank you.

    If you can keep doing what you are doing I think it would be a good thing for this planet.

    My wife and I recently moved to Guam as a launching point for our travels for the next couple of years. Thanks for including Micronesia in your dancing. The dance in Jellyfish lake in Palau was clasic, and I think you’ve captured Guam as well, at least some of it.

    The book “1000 Places To Go Before You Die” seems to be really popular these days. Every would be traveler seems to have it on their coffee table. But I have now realized that it’s missing one category that can’t be anchored down by race, religion, age, sex, monument, natural wonder or political boundry and that is to seek out Matt and dance with him wherever he may be.

    So, from one Matt to another, Thanks and please carry on.


  32. Simon in RI

    I keep coming back to your posts time after time, I still can’t figure out why. But this was the first time that I watched the Ignite talk. I must admit, it is the best of the talks that I’ve seen you in on this website. I don’t know if it’s because it forces conciseness or what. But great talk!

  33. Congratulations Matt, good things will continue to come your way. I too would buy the bumper sticker and book. I love your writing, humor and sarcasm…the blend together nicely. I still think you should marry Melissa.

  34. Rhiannon in Rhode Island

    A few friends and I stumbled across your youtube videos when we randomly searched the word “the.” On behalf of all of us, we think you’re quite amazing. I’m a new fan, but I still think it’s wonderful that you bring all of these people together. I hope it never feels like you’re doing much, because you should never doubt that you bring a smile to my face, as well as one to many other viewers of all ages, I’m sure. Not to mention the ecstatic little children in your videos. Congratulations on your success, and I hope you keep doing this. If you stop by little Rhode Island, let us know. :-)

  35. What an adventure…beautiful depiction of a life well lived and loved and expressed through your writing, videos, and the way you spoke to the audience-“Just do what you want…” Although it is somewhat of a sad commentary that the more open among us has to give permission…to just dance. (Otherwise, those folks at the Tyra show might have felt needlessly vulnerable…such a little leap they were afraid to take. Ms. Tyra is a trip…that’s one adventure that probably took more courage to surmount than the rock jig.)Take care-

  36. Gary in Sandy Eggo

    Was recently directed to your 2008 youtube clip to look at, and in turn sent it to thousands of others via a forum I’m on. My comment when I sent it to others was “Odd, Weird, Strangely Compelling.”

    I’ve since watched it many times. Every time I watch it, I’m left with a warm feeling. I’m sure I could articulate it better if I sat here for many hours trying, but I’m not going to do that. I’d rather watch it again.

    The music included with the 2008 piece is beautiful, and I’m sure is a big part of what makes your presentation so . . . comforting. I love your interaction with people, and their response to you.

    Regards, Gary in Sandy Eggo

  37. thanks for giving everyone a chance to have fun for once in their lives. making everyone dance is just too simple to be the answer for happiness.

    or is it?

    oh and thanks for teaching me a new word. solipsism. okay well farewell from Mesquite, TX!

  38. Hi Matt,

    Glad to see you are still bringing the world together through dance. Ever so often I check in on you to see what you are doing. Just wanted to know if you have seen this video? It made me laugh. You know that being in the limelight makes you susceptible to parodies, right? Keep that light shining though and remember that moment between the mundane the the sublime. that would be “joy”
    Love your work Matt!!
    Where the Hell is Matt’s Girlfriend?

    link to

  39. Jackie Serrano

    Just wanted to say that you are making lots of people smile in a much needed time…..GOOD FOR YOU – CONGRATS!!

    As a friend put it, very UPLIFTING…thanks!!

  40. Loved your videos and then found this post- just awesome! The description of Tyra had me laughing out loud.

    Thanks for that



  41. Seth

    Wow, I’m impressed at how grounded you are even while surrounded by REALLY ridiculous famous people. Jimmy Kimmel asked the dumbest questions, to which you somehow managed to give good answers. I won’t even comment on Tyra. Anyway, thanks for the bad dancing, Matt. It always makes me smile. Keep up the good work (or should I say, the good lack of work).

  42. Sarah

    I’ve seen your videos multiple times, but Kimmell’s version where you plummet with the rock still made my heart skip a beat! Then I laughed. 😉

    Tyra is… eh. You’re a good sport to tolerate going on her show.

    Thank you for your videos — they always leave me in such a good mood. :)

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