Matt is back
June 27, 2008 11:33 AM   Subscribe

Where the hell is Matt? The 2008 version is oddly moving. Be sure to watch the high quality version. (Previously)
posted by monospace (103 comments total) 78 users marked this as a favorite

 
Aww. I choked up a little. Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.
posted by rusty at 11:37 AM on June 27, 2008


fucking god damn browser back button ahgah FAHGGHAAAAA.
posted by odinsdream at 11:37 AM on June 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


Gurgaon India!
posted by chunking express at 11:41 AM on June 27, 2008


The India bit at 2:38 is brilliant.
posted by grabbingsand at 11:42 AM on June 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's like a Charlie Brown special dance scene. The only thing missing was Schroeder off to the side with a little piano.
posted by stavrogin at 11:43 AM on June 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


And yeah, that was pretty hype.
posted by chunking express at 11:44 AM on June 27, 2008


Wherever the Hell Matt is, that's a pretty fine place to be. What a dude!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:49 AM on June 27, 2008


> The India bit at 2:38 is brilliant.

Amen. If he mixed in some more well-timed regional dancing these things could be so much more.
posted by datacenter refugee at 11:49 AM on June 27, 2008


I have to respect the heck out of someone who can turn a goofy little dance into a career traveling the world and getting people to have fun on video.

If I had a hat, it would be off. Great stuff.
posted by MrVisible at 11:54 AM on June 27, 2008 [8 favorites]


I watched this last night. Man, I'm not sure why a dude dancing around the world makes me a bit misty and happy to be alive, but it does.
posted by sleepy pete at 11:56 AM on June 27, 2008 [6 favorites]


I especially love the scenes with the kids dancing with him. Pure joy in their faces.
posted by ericb at 11:59 AM on June 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


Mirrored on Vimeo.
posted by monospace at 12:03 PM on June 27, 2008


This whole "Where is Matt" thing is awesome. Makes me misty too. Such a stupid, simple expression of joy and celebration of life.

Actually... it makes me jealous as hell. :-)

Way to go Matt!
posted by C.Batt at 12:04 PM on June 27, 2008


Pathetic Admission: I can only enjoy this after I choke down the suffocating jealousy it awakens in me.
posted by milarepa at 12:05 PM on June 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


Where in the hell is Matt? Well, it seems, he is a little bit in all of us. Well done.

Thanks for the update monospace.
posted by netbros at 12:07 PM on June 27, 2008


Damn you, Matt. How can I viciously envy your travel rich life when you *choke* make me cry?
posted by msali at 12:11 PM on June 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't know how anyone can watch that video and not smile.
posted by dpx.mfx at 12:12 PM on June 27, 2008


An Interview with Matt Harding [video | 9:21].
posted by ericb at 12:13 PM on June 27, 2008


2008 kinds of awesome.
posted by Dave Faris at 12:15 PM on June 27, 2008


FHM interviews Matt Harding [video | 3:47].
posted by ericb at 12:19 PM on June 27, 2008


That's pretty awesome.
posted by boo_radley at 12:20 PM on June 27, 2008


Good to see Matt again. With that and the squirrel eating the cracker I'm just glad all over.

I'm gonna do what Matt did...

Oh, what? I would have to get outta my chair? I guess not, oh look, a rubber band, on my desk...I'll play with that for awhile.
posted by marxchivist at 12:21 PM on June 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Matt Harding on KTVU (San Francisco) | on GMA.
posted by ericb at 12:22 PM on June 27, 2008


I also really liked the Papua New Guinea section. I think it's nice that everywhere he went people were doing the same stupid dance. The India bit was definitely cute, but I think it'd be sort of cliche if the whole video was filled with stuff like that. The more I think about the video, the more I like it.
posted by chunking express at 12:25 PM on June 27, 2008


Wonderful. The first moments when all the other people run in from the sides to join him are just perfect. I barely had time to even think, "oh my God, they're all going to dance with him ..." before I started tearing up.
posted by yhbc at 12:25 PM on June 27, 2008 [9 favorites]


That was VERY cool. So cool in fact, I can see Coke stealing the idea and making a three minute SuperBowl commercial based on the concept.
posted by spock at 12:25 PM on June 27, 2008


*sniff* It's just my allergies, that's all. *sniff* Or maybe I have something in my eye.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:26 PM on June 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Kind of dittoing milarepa: for me this hits the exact sweet spot between "I love all these people so much for doing this" and "I hate so much that it isn't me doing this."

Also: for a long time I've wanted to move to Vancouver. But I have to admit the kids in Warsaw and Brussels looked like more fun. Maybe I need to rethink things.
posted by penduluum at 12:26 PM on June 27, 2008


My former manager and I talked about making a parody of these videos, called "WhereTheHellIsGreg", which would simply be him doing a ka-razy dance while in his car commuting to work... then in his office... then at a Starbucks... then in a meeting room... then commuting home... repeating that over, and over, for 3 minutes.

I love these videos, but yeah, jealous as hell. Plus, now I get to feel completely disconnected and isolated from the entire planet, and not just my neighborhood! Awesome!!!
posted by hincandenza at 12:32 PM on June 27, 2008 [6 favorites]


I've let go of the "hate that it's not me" last year, and from now on Matt is pure awesome all the way!

And yeah, he nailed both the Warsaw and Brussels crowd. :)
posted by ruelle at 12:33 PM on June 27, 2008


Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.

*betrays rusty's hiding place to the Sicherheitsdienst and Dutch policeman*
posted by Falconetti at 12:39 PM on June 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


> I can see Coke stealing the idea
Too late. He's being sponsored by Stride Gum.
posted by monospace at 12:47 PM on June 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I tried to sublimate my envy that this dude can travel the world, and that it's not me doing it.

But if it makes you feel any better, the video doesn't show the bad side of it -- and there must be bad sides, because there always are (aren't there?). But the only thing keeping us from going for it like him is our own fear. That, and lack of corporate sponsorship.
posted by Dave Faris at 12:48 PM on June 27, 2008


dude got to go on the vomit comet. lucky!
posted by sineater at 12:48 PM on June 27, 2008


We live on such an incredible planet. I'm glad Matt is out there dancing with it and its denizens.
posted by batmonkey at 1:03 PM on June 27, 2008


There are some outtakes.
posted by maxwelton at 1:21 PM on June 27, 2008


Yaay! Count me among the misty-fied.
posted by brundlefly at 1:25 PM on June 27, 2008


I know Matt. If it makes you feel any less jealous I can tell you that he isn't making a ton of money doing this.
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:28 PM on June 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


twoleftfeet - are *you* Matt?

(and money isn't why people are jealous)
posted by ruelle at 1:34 PM on June 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


ruelle - I'm not Matt! We both live in Seattle and I know him from around here. He's a very nice guy, as you might expect.

(And admit it... if he was making a ton of money doing this you'd really be jealous.)

He was interviewed by one of our local radio stations yesterday:
http://www.kuow.org/program.php?id=14149
posted by twoleftfeet at 2:06 PM on June 27, 2008


the video doesn't show the bad side of it -- and there must be bad sides, because there always are

If you check his journal - from the site - you can see that the most recent entry is him going home from his press tour early because he got some kind of rash. From sleeping at a Courtyard by Mariott. He even comments about having gone all over the world and it's a hotel in the US that messes him up.

Another vote for 'I wish I could find a way to do something like this', but I can't even dance that well/badly.
posted by mephron at 2:10 PM on June 27, 2008


I loved the original and I love this one.

I swear, it makes me wish even more fervently that the world's people could embrace the simple joy of this video and the implicit message of togetherness and elation at the wonderfulness of the world, rather than so often focusing on reasons for strife. It's such a simple goal and so worthy to live up to, yet we only see it bloom in such strange places as a wonderful treasure of a video like this.

(I get a similar wistful, misty feeling of elation from the Discovery channel "Boom De Ah Da" promo.)

Well done, Matt, and thank you.
posted by darkstar at 2:11 PM on June 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


People dance for no reason other than the fun of it, and the world is a tiny little bit better.

Cool how that works.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:17 PM on June 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Call me when he pays the russians $20,000,000 to dance in space. Or $100,000,000 to dance on the moon.
posted by blue_beetle at 2:21 PM on June 27, 2008


Watching it again, I think to part that made me go from misty to actual tears was (aside from everybody running into frame in D.C.) the bit in Montreal, where it's pouring down rain, they're all dancing with their umbrellas, and that one dude seems to making a frantic gesture for whoever is watching to join in.

Goddamn this was good. I'd favorite it twice if I could.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:26 PM on June 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


omg. i LOLed. and i *hate* the lol. but i did it anyway.

it also reminded me of a 'i'd like to teach the world to sing' a la 2008.

dance on, matt!
posted by msconduct at 2:34 PM on June 27, 2008


The more times I watch this (and its been a lot of times because my toddler son loves it), the more I realize the real genius is in the small details: the face of the guard in the DMZ, the bookends in Munich - the guy in the stripey shirt on the right who just can't dance at all, and his counterpart on the left who is doing some kind of traditional beerhall dance; little kids holding up other little kids (Zambia, Phillipines) who are also dancing, the couple at the front right in the NYC shot who are swing dancing, Matt cracking up in the Solomon Islands one.

Its brilliant, actually.

And now I'm going to stop and buy some Stride gum on my way home, just 'cause I love the Matt that much.

There are more countries (and Antarctica!) on the 2006 Outtakes.
posted by anastasiav at 2:42 PM on June 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


The guy in the wheelchair on the beach. How awesome is that!! I've had a very bad day and I really needed something happy. Thanks for making me smile.
posted by pearlybob at 2:59 PM on June 27, 2008


Well I was already to be snarky as hell, but that was really rather wonderful... oh and it's the hay fever that's making my eyes water. Yes the hay fever, that's it.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:13 PM on June 27, 2008


!

That. Was. wonderful! It's ridiculously endearing how very much he can't dance - India made me misty, the DMZ made me gasp out loud and the Vomit Comet made me jealous beyond telling.


Go, Matt!
posted by Space Kitty at 3:36 PM on June 27, 2008


Thank God! Now we know where the hell Matt has been. I was getting worried.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:51 PM on June 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


DataCenter Refugee: "Amen. If he mixed in some more well-timed regional dancing these things could be so much more."

Actually, the fact that it only happens once is what makes that moment so magical.

It's like at about fifty seconds into it when he starts showing us everyone running in to dance with him? If they kept doign the running bit later it wouldn't be as effective the second time. The fact it happens once, using multiple parts of the world simultaneously, well for me it was a pleasant surprise.

When he started dancing with the Ladies of Gurgaon, I literally gasped. That wouldn't have happened if he did it more often. It's like the shot of him in the water near what looked to me like maybe a whale. Vava'u Tonga about 3:02. One time, very significant. If he went under water several times? It'd get old. I think he did that once in 2006. Once per video for underwater antics. Maybe once a video from now on with the synchronized dancing. That might work, but notice he picked these Ladies of Gurgaon. This wasn't just a group of people who didn't know how to dance. They let him be on stage with him doing what THEY do all the time probably for money certainly for fun. That two seconds right there is like when Paul Simon played with Ladysmith Black Mambazo on his Graceland album. It woulda been wrong of Matt NOT to synch with them. That was his way of honoring their chops. But if he did this every time it wouldn't be THAT cool.

Let me try another example to show you why this is better, him sticking to 'his' dance and not synchronizing with the rest of the world.

Poria, Papua New Guinea. The five natives dancing in unison with their drums allows them to show their unique contributions to international culture. Matt is showing us the contrast here. It's much more powerful of a visual message. It's actually possible that an outtake is him dancing with them, and whoever edited this together realized it just doesn't make as cool a statement.

Paris, France about 3:46 there's a guy in a white shirt that for some reason really stands out for me. I mean we're looking at literally thousands of people and they each have their own dance. Some are literally just being animated and silly. Some are honestly trying to replicate what Matt's doing and I've yet to catch anyone 'synching' with him. This one dude with all the hair in Paris has an unique dance all his own that is no better or worse than anyone else's but it is fun and unique and stands out.

...it's also possible come to think of it that they did several takes with the Ladies of Gurgaon, and that's the one take where Matt actually didn't fuck it all up. LOL!
posted by ZachsMind at 4:14 PM on June 27, 2008 [7 favorites]


Same here, fearfulsymmetry. I came into the comment section all set to snark about the font of the title, but I just can't muster the required cynicism. That was just too awesome.

Keep on dancing, Matt, wherever the hell you are.
posted by Caduceus at 4:20 PM on June 27, 2008


If I ever see "Stride Gum" in a store, I'll buy some. Give it a try. Don't think they have Stride here in Dallas. Ain't never seen any, but because of this I'd be willing to give in to corporate sponsorship.. just this once.

Shame Dallas isn't represented, but at least Texas got squeezed in there (2:04). Outsiders think Austin's more important because it's the capital of the state, but Dallas is really the better city. Maybe in 2010 we'll get to represent.

FearfulSymmetry: "Well I was already to be snarky as hell, but that was really rather wonderful..."

Ditto. I wanna be snarky and make statements against corporate sponsorship and get up on my soap box, but this is one of those times when a corporation is doing something that I can actually rally behind. It's stupid and most might say insignificant, but I like the message. I like the sentiment. The world can get along: all you need is a * guy in shorts to show the way.

* I originally typed "stupid" cuz I wuz goin for the funny. Matt's not stupid. I thought about just putting "fucking" there but that dind't work either. I could say "fearless" but i'm sure he has fears he just uses the fear in a positive way. I say "fearless" though cuz of the start of the Outtakes where he's dancing somewhere that, while arguably safe so long as he's careful, was also rather dangerous. Also just the fact that he HAS done this and we all each have a thousand excuses why we don't. That's fearless. So.. with some reservations, I guess the asterisk means 'fearless.'
posted by ZachsMind at 4:39 PM on June 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is utterly fantastic. That dog in Kuwait City (0:41) cracks me up. Nice to know the world is still a pretty okay place.
posted by Monster_Zero at 4:44 PM on June 27, 2008


Guagon India (2:35) again... There's a couple guys in there too. Didn't see that the first time. Towards the back, on the right. So. It's the "People of Guagon" who are very cool. Not just Ladies of Guagon which I was saying earlier. I sit corrected. Okay I'll shut up. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 4:44 PM on June 27, 2008


well, i have to say...

i was going to post this yesterday, but after having recently had another meanspirited mefi experience, i figured people would just poke me more. and since i'm still pretty raw from my askme, i don't really need to be...poked...any more right now.

so, i'm really, really glad that
a)it got posted some other way
b)peoples' comments are positive and kind, not meanspirited
c)the fact that it's viral marketing didn't spoil the whole thing

thanks, monospace. this video is really remarkable.
posted by CitizenD at 4:52 PM on June 27, 2008


The comments from the dancers are almost as smile-inducing as the video. He gave a lot of people a real kick out of participating. Great stuff again, Matt.
posted by jamesonandwater at 4:57 PM on June 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I like the two gals (in the front) in the soweto clip that.
Immediate get the gist of "the dance" but do in their own
way (namely with some flair :-) )
posted by MikeHoegeman at 5:08 PM on June 27, 2008


He's from Connecticut? Give that man a grinder.

And yeah, I'm just chopping onions over here. Nothing to see, move on, people...
posted by Kinbote at 5:17 PM on June 27, 2008


Man, I love Metafilter. Boom de yada.
posted by Caduceus at 5:20 PM on June 27, 2008


Hooray for this video and this post. Me = misty.
posted by CaptApollo at 5:23 PM on June 27, 2008


posted by Dave Faris the video doesn't show the bad side of it -- and there must be bad sides, because there always are (aren't there?).

He was arrested for dancing at the Parthenon.
posted by optovox at 5:33 PM on June 27, 2008


I rewatched the 2007 edition first (by accident). It is still very cool.

Realized my mistake, watched the new one and was totally surprised by how choked up I got! I'm still mulling over why exactly it has that effect. Something about the type of irrepressible joy it captures--it's just lovely how similar it is in every group of people from such disparate cultures. It really is a that is what we're all after sensation, huh? Sure, good editing, blah blah blah, but still.

Now I want to go back and pay closer individual attention to as many non-Matt dancing fools as I can. So many varied, outlandish expressions of goofy happiness.

This shit has no right to be as effective as it is. Bravo!
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 5:34 PM on June 27, 2008


World Music +

Goofy Dance+

X

=
profit

(he figured out X was sponsorship from Stride Gum)
posted by Megafly at 6:02 PM on June 27, 2008


Ok, who took my bottle of vinegar? I have to rinse off this warm... fuzzy... misty...
posted by _dario at 7:26 PM on June 27, 2008


This is awesome.

It made me smile, and laugh and filled me with a sense of joie de vivre.

I think I would like Matt. It would be fun to have a beer with him.

I especially liked that he danced in the West Bank.



Mephisto
posted by Mephisto at 7:30 PM on June 27, 2008


I can't get over these videos. I've spent the last several hours reading this thread, the 2005 thread and Matt's site.

Unbelievable, and absolutely wonderful.

Kudos!
posted by aclevername at 7:51 PM on June 27, 2008


I saw the stray dog dancing with him in Kuwait, and thought, "That's about as sweet as it gets." Then. It. Turned. Epic.

I've watched this thing a half dozen times, and I'm still getting thrills, from the people dancing with him, details in the background I've missed, and the good-natured rejection of cynicism and bitter irony for, you know, dancing. You have to be really honest about yourself to dance like an idiot everywhere you go, and that kind of honesty is infectious. I think we've identified one of the Tzadikim Nistarim.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:12 PM on June 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


"I think we've identified one of the Tzadikim Nistarim."

Just don't tell Matt that, or the jig is up. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 9:48 PM on June 27, 2008


for once, i'm thrilled to send an e-mail forward! i'm getting lots of amazing notes back from my friends all over the globe, notes of joy and wonder and appreciation and gooshylovenstuff. yay yay yay!
posted by CitizenD at 9:58 PM on June 27, 2008


Mephisto: I think I would like Matt. It would be fun to have a beer with him.



Obama/Matt '08!
Join the Dance Dance Revolution!

posted by CitizenD at 10:04 PM on June 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


OptoVox: "He was arrested for dancing at the Parthenon."

"How far are they willing to go with this? How far am I willing to go with this?"

That is a (perhaps irrational) fear I have, actually; a fear that someday I might find myself in a situation where I have to ask those questions, and find out what those answers are, and I don't think I'd like the answer to those questions, whatever they might be. So. I do nothing. They came for the dancers, and I said nothing because I couldn't dance... *shrug*

Maybe that's why so many of us who are usually sarcastic or flippant in the face of stuff like this are left a little teary-eyed. Matt is showing an idealistic world in this footage, but it's a world we know isn't real. He cuts out all the parts that don't look just right. We know that. But for five minutes we're transported to a world where anywhere you go, a guy can just start dancing, and other people will join in.

That world to which we are transported, is this world. The same one. It's not this world, but it is. It CAN be. In a way, Matt's proving that it is, and yet there ARE places he can't dance. Maybe it's not the images that we see which make us cry. It's the images we know he can't record. The places we know he can't dance. All these marvelous places and people he's met, but we know deep down that Matt is not welcome everywhere. This idealistic world where a silly dance can make all the pain go away? It's not real.

I think part of what makes us cry is the places we can't see him dance.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:15 PM on June 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Matt's a friend and y'all should know that he generally pegs the start of his meme-dom to the 2005 MeFi post. Mathowie, he said he spied you at ROFLcon but failed to make contact.

As twoleftfeet noted, he's a really nice, incredibly modest guy who has done a great job turning a one-off project into a sort of vocation for the past few years.

It was surprisingly fun and emotional to join in the final dance in Seattle a couple of weeks ago with friends, his family, and dozens of cosplay kids who randomly showed up at the park. This whole project has genuinely been from the heart and this last video was logistically daunting so it was awesome that Matt gave co-credit to his partner Melissa who managed the logistics for the group dances--everyone who danced had to sign a waiver and be photographed with it, and let's see you try and figure out how to hire a bunch of Bollywood dancer!

The soundtrack for the final video has a great story. The music for the last two videos and the outtake video was written by Matt's friend Gary, but on this latest video the vocals were done by a high school girl from Michigan who sings in Bengali. They found her . . . on YouTube. What a kooky, recursive, and inspiring world we live in.
posted by donovan at 10:50 PM on June 27, 2008 [10 favorites]


A previous post for ZachsMind!
posted by optovox at 11:46 PM on June 27, 2008


I still can't decide if I like the stoic guard in the DMZ or the Tokyo cat girls better. I'm going to watch this once or twice a week forever.
posted by Caduceus at 12:01 AM on June 28, 2008


Argh. Should have visited this thread earlier. It's not complete without the outtakes.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:27 AM on June 28, 2008


Ah, my mistake - already posted.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:56 AM on June 28, 2008


Wonderful,
wonderful,
wonderful.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:47 AM on June 28, 2008


Best of the web? Absolutely!
posted by gfrobe at 5:19 AM on June 28, 2008


No Baghdad, huh?
posted by Balisong at 5:50 AM on June 28, 2008


Although I must say, it's fairly childish to not discuss the costs of the trips (FAQ #4). I think we all "get" that it cost a small fortune to travel to Antarctica, for instance.

Being cagey about the numbers only helps to create a gulf between the people sitting at home, making them think "I could never do that..." when in fact it's well within the means of most Americans to do just what Matt did (except Antarctica, which, last time I checked, cost about $3,000 for a week-long trip. Matt's boat looked fairly well-equipped and would probably be twice as much. There. Now everyone knows how much your corporate overlords shelled out. Was that so fucking painful?)
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:47 AM on June 28, 2008


Donovan, thanks for the background on the music .... I didn't even recognize the Bengali but my husband is from Bangladesh and figured it was Tagore, that's really cool.
posted by jamesonandwater at 7:14 AM on June 28, 2008


Actually it seems like the bit in the video in front of the orchestra in LA is where they're actually recording some of the background music, that's great.
posted by jamesonandwater at 7:18 AM on June 28, 2008


I wish to register my bitter disappointment that it took until now for someone to note that maybe he went to get a sideways haircut.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:09 AM on June 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Civil_Disobedient: Being cagey about the numbers only helps to create a gulf between the people sitting at home, making them think "I could never do that..."

In the previous FAQ, Matt writes, 'It also doesn’t cost as much as a lot of folks think. Aside from the flights, I spend less on any given day than I would sitting at home paying utilities, car insurance, parking tickets (I get a lot of parking tickets)...'.

I suspect that disclosing the numbers would actually be very discouraging to most people who want to travel like he did, being that one normally doesn't spend over a year on their travels and have a paid expense account.

Sometimes there really isn't a need to focus on counting up the circulating units of exchange. The worth of those units changes from person to person, from circumstance to circumstance; in my experience, talk of money is generally unhelpful for closing the gulf between souls.

Simply doing a silly dance, on the other hand....
posted by zennie at 10:11 AM on June 28, 2008


I suspect that disclosing the numbers would actually be very discouraging to most people who want to travel like he did, being that one normally doesn't spend over a year on their travels and have a paid expense account.

The first trip was done on his own dime, just like the majority of (non-sponsored) traveling. Saying things like, "a dollar a day" or "cheaper than you might think!" is extremely unhelpful; take a stroll down the travel section of your local bookseller and you'll be bombarded with these kinds of numbers, and I think people realize these figures are totally disingenuous because they don't take into account the cost of travel or lodging. In the absence of hard numbers, your mind is free to make up whatever impossible scenario it can imagine that will keep you from leaving the safety of an auto-pilot existence (you in the general sense, not you in particular, zennie).

Sometimes there really isn't a need to focus on counting up the circulating units of exchange.

Whenever I talk to people about my own travels, the moment I start giving real numbers is when you can see in their faces a kind of "woah! really!?" realization that they can do it, too. Saying, "xxx was cheap" doesn't mean anything because cheap or expensive are abstract, relative concepts. But tell someone they can get a private island bungalow for $1.10 a night, or that a pack of Marlboro Lights only costs $0.20, or that a local bus from one end of the country to the other only costs $5.00, and you can almost hear the gears turning in their heads. All of a sudden it becomes real.

The worth of those units changes from person to person, from circumstance to circumstance; in my experience, talk of money is generally unhelpful for closing the gulf between souls.

Closing the gulf between souls? What has that got to do with it? You can close the gulf between souls without stepping outside your bedroom. You can close the gulf between souls by talking to you neighbors. I understand what you're saying, but it's hard to build bridges when you don't have a budget. For example, I've always wanted to go to Antarctica, but have heard time and time again that it's very expensive. But what does that mean? Very expensive could mean $50,000 just as easily as it could mean $500. In lieu of hard numbers, expensive means the destination gets scratched off the list. Which is a real shame.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:14 AM on June 28, 2008


"Where the Hell is Matt?" Lecture -- Part 1 | 2 | 3.
posted by ericb at 12:24 PM on June 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Civil_Disobedient... I'm glad you like to encourage people to go forth and explore. I do, too. I think it's great for them and for society. But I guess you see more value in the missing numbers than I. Matt does say, in the same FAQ answer you referenced, "I once stayed in a Cambodian guest house for $3 a night -- and that included laundry." That seems to be the same message you want him to convey, though perhaps not as potent as you may want.

In the big picture, Matt's work can inspire people to see the rest of humanity as more similar to them than they may have thought. Personally, I think that's far more valuable encouragement for travel than numbers can provide. I have far more trouble convincing people that travel isn't strange and scary than I have convincing them that travel is within their means.
posted by zennie at 1:13 PM on June 28, 2008


My day has been made. Kudos, Mr. Harding, Kudos.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:23 PM on June 28, 2008


(wipes eyes)

Why do I watch this stuff when people are around?
posted by Samizdata at 1:42 PM on June 28, 2008


Bought me a pack o' Stride berry flavor...
posted by Samizdata at 5:59 PM on June 28, 2008


How the hell did he get into space? Or is that one of those planes that dives at 9.8m/s^2? Regardless, watching him try to dance in freefall was pretty entertaining.
posted by tehloki at 2:54 AM on June 29, 2008


"How the hell did he get into space? Or is that one of those planes that dives at 9.8m/s^2?"

Matt wasn't in space. He took the 'vomit comet' which is the same thing Penn Jillette took back in 2001 and Steven Hawking rode it more recently. Yet another example of something that looks 'expensive' and is, but the vomit comet is probably in the price range of most people reading this. I presume it's cheaper than Antarctica would be. However, I don't have hard figures in front of me so it's all an abstraction.

In Matt's first video, he was paying for it himself. He was travelling anyway. In an interview he explained once that THE dance he does came from this silly dance he'd do in front of a friend's cubicle when he was an office drone. Around lunch Matt would step away from his own desk and stand in front of his friend's desk who was still working. Matt would do the silly dance to annoy his friend and get him to wrap up what he was doing and go to lunch with Matt.

A couple years later, Matt and his friend were in some foreign land (either on business or pleasure it wasn't specified), and his friend jokingly dared Matt to do that silly dance for ten seconds and his friend would videotape him. That's how it started.

Matt paid for his trips on the first video, or in some cases he may have been able to write it off depending on what company he was working for at the time. So the restrictions were monetary-oriented. In the second video, money was no object. The restrictions were more time-oriented. He had to have it done within a certain time frame to appease the people paying for it.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:54 AM on June 29, 2008


Thanks to donovan for posting the first video in 2005. Because of that I knew to grab the opportunity to dance along with Matt as he swung by this year. I couldn't think of a better way to spend my 15 pixels of fame.

I'll understand if he goes dormant for a while, though I hope he'll be back someday, dancing with his own kids.
posted by Feisty at 8:08 AM on June 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


And not to be missed, a goat on motorcycle in the opening shot.
posted by Feisty at 11:18 AM on June 29, 2008


Matt wasn't in space. He took the 'vomit comet' which is the same thing Penn Jillette took back in 2001 and Steven Hawking rode it more recently. Yet another example of something that looks 'expensive' and is, but the vomit comet is probably in the price range of most people reading this. I presume it's cheaper than Antarctica would be. However, I don't have hard figures in front of me so it's all an abstraction.

In case anybody's wondering, it currently costs $4,147.50US to take a commercial weightless flight.
posted by SteveInMaine at 11:26 AM on July 1, 2008


Well it's certainly not in my price range but most of you guys are probably much more successful and committed and dedicated than I am.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:32 AM on July 1, 2008


Where the F the Matt? After Stride Gum went bankrupt, Matt Harding had to pay for all his own travel.
posted by donovan at 3:00 PM on July 2, 2008


I couldn't watch this the other day because of ISP throttling and I sidestepped the thread so it wouldn't piss me of,f but it's a real beaut to read and reminds me why I like this place. I can't believe how many people mention getting teary-eyed and that, too, makes me feel sooo much better; I thought I was having one of those occasional emotional derangement episodes that spring up without notice and wrench your whole being around.

Just saw this on Matt's site (in case noone mentioned it up above) but I haven't ventured in to see which videos have been posted:
"I know the clips go by very fast. I'll be posting separate videos with full-length versions of the dances in each city. Every city will be in there, including the ones that didn't make the final cut. It'll take me a while to edit the footage together, though, so here is the schedule for release:

Europe and Israel - June 27th
US and Canada - July 4th
Australia, Asia, South America, and Mexico - July 11th"
Oh: to whom it may concern: Thanks for adding the interview links !
posted by peacay at 5:46 PM on July 3, 2008


New York Times: A Private Dance? Four Million Web Fans Say No.
posted by ericb at 3:22 PM on July 7, 2008


Where the Hell is Matt's Girlfriend?
posted by yhbc at 12:06 PM on July 22, 2008


The pinnacle of success: This video was featured on APOD today.
posted by WolfDaddy at 9:32 PM on July 22, 2008


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