Category Archives: California

MICHIGAN HAS REAL BEACHES

Apparently, if you’re not from the flawless, beautiful, picturesque state of perfection known as California, you don’t have real beaches.

My California friends don’t seem to realize that there are other people around the country (and world) that live quite contently even though they don’t permanently reside in California.  These people go about their day walking the dog, going to work, and hanging out with friends.  They sometimes have to put on a light jacket, but they still find happiness in life! INCREDIBLE!

Some Californians refuse to accept this.  Such arrogance was shown when I told one of my Golden State friends that I was going back to Michigan to celebrate the 4th of July on the beach.

“You know that’s not a real beach right?”

I’ll show you what a real beach is. Cue the video:

 

 

 

Sam Pepper Killing Best Friend Prank: Everything Wrong With Finding Success On YouTube

youtube logo

This isn’t my usual style or topic for blogging, but I have a few things to say about a particular issue.

First, I love YouTube.  It’s great.  For the first time ever, people who don’t have access to a major movie studio,  multimillion-dollar budgets, and expensive equipment can compete against the big dogs…and win.  YouTube has turned everyday consumers into superstars who have more followers, fans, and social influence than many A-list celebrities.  It’s shaken up the way we consume video content to such a degree that mega brands have restructured how they produce content just to keep up with that YouTube “nobody” who’s crushing it online.

Now, if you spend any time on social media, you’ve probably seen the controversial viral video making its rounds.  I’m not going to link to it, but if you type in “Killing Best Friend Prank” anywhere, I’m sure you’ll find it.

For those of you who don’t know, a successful YouTube prankster named Sam Pepper decided it’d be a great idea to “prank” a friend by kidnapping him and forcing him to watch his best friend get shot.

In Pepper’s own words: “Let’s see how he reacts to his best friend of five years being killed in front of him!”

He literally threw Sam Golbach in the back of a car, then tied him to a chair on a rooftop, and had him watch a masked man “shoot” his best friend in the head.  The video is full of Golbach screaming, crying, and pleading.  The production quality is so high that they even cut the sound and added an emotional musical score while Golbach cries over his friend’s body.  You know, to tug at our heart strings.  All fantastic elements to a dramatic Law & Order episode.  Except that it wasn’t a scripted episode.  At least not to the one who was pranked.  Those were real tears of horror.  All in the name of a good prank, right?

My first response was WTF?

My second was, at what point were we supposed to laugh during this prank?  Aren’t pranks supposed to be funny?

People around the internet are calling him sadistic and disgusting.  Some are even asking him to be banned from YouTube.  All understandable responses to a truly upsetting video.

But my main question is why? Why make that video?

And I think I figured it out (although you are free to still call him sadistic and leave it at that).  I like to call it the YouTube Success Syndrome.  When you make it big on YouTube, you start to see it as your career.  In fact, it becomes your career.  There’s a lot of pressure and expectation to produce amazing videos each time you post.  Not only that, you want to stay relevant and on top.  So you keep trying to one-up yourself.  You can’t put out crappy content, or your career will be over as quickly as it started.  So what can Sam Pepper do?  Well, he can put out a video that’s going to be so controversial or ridiculous or funny or disgusting or amazing that it will send him straight to the top.  Until he has to one-up himself again.  And the cycle repeats.

Let’s take it a step further.  When the cycle keeps repeating, eventually someone is going to cross the line, right?  But where is the line?  What makes YouTube great, in most cases, is that there is no line.  Or, rather, the creators and fans define it.  In traditional television, everything you see on your TV is approved by the network.  They draw the line.  What’s too gruesome? What’s too risqué?  What’s too offensive?  Certain things are censored before they reach your television set.  With YouTube, what the creator makes goes straight to the viewer.  No tape, no censorship.

So when someone arguably crosses the line, the internet enforces itself.  We as fans or viewers become the moral compass.  And if you just take a look at any Twitter feed, it’s clear that people love being the moral compass in controversy.

 

Here’s my main problem with prank videos as a whole:  I’m not a big fan of success at the expense of others. The pranksters are making a profit off someone else’s pain/anger/embarrassment and, in this case, horror and suffering.  Fun, innocent pranks? Great, no problem.  But we’re clearly not talking about that here.  This video was full of real emotion and pain…unless, of course, this whole video is a huge prank on the internet, and they were all in on the joke.

Another big problem with many YouTubers (and any brand on the internet) is their obsession with views, stats, likes, and monetization.  When that’s your motivation, you’re no longer making videos you truly want to make.  You’re making videos so they go viral.  So they get attention.  So you can become more important and successful in the public eye.  That doesn’t always translate to the best (or smartest) video.

I think that was definitely the case here.   If it weren’t for Pepper’s thirst to be successful on YouTube, would he ever prank-kidnap and kill his friends?  I don’t think so.  There would be no point.  This was done purely for shock value.  Sam wanted the outrage.  He wanted the attention.  He lost focus of what a prank is while trying to make the craziest, most viral video possible.  I’d say he succeeded.  As of this writing, the video has 4 million views.  I’m risking giving him more attention by writing about him, but then again, I only have 36 subscribers on YouTube, so who am I?  You might think Sam Pepper is a (insert your descriptive insult here), but he’s a (insert your descriptive insult here) that everyone is talking about.

The lure of success can grab us all.  So before posting that CRAZY, CONTROVERSIAL, OMG video that’s going to blow up the internet, use some common sense.

Common sense for posting on YouTube:

  1.  Be aware of what world events are going on around you.   Do you really think a filmed, bag-over-the-head-style execution prank is a smart thing to post in light of current events?
  2. Is the content you’re posting actually what you say it is? Aren’t pranks supposed to be funny?
  3. Are you posting it for the right reasons? No, money, attention and controversy should never be your primary motivation.
  4. Respect your friends, family, and community.  The best way to show you love your friend is not by agreeing to fake-kidnap him.

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIP: See As Much As Possible and Ignore the Trolls

california road trip plan

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIP:         See As Much As Possible and Ignore the Trolls

 

I’m not the type of person who wastes time during vacations.  If I’m visiting a new place I try to see everything I can in the small amount of time I have.  Only once I feel like I’ve seen everything, then I can relax.  It’s just how I’m wired.

Most people hate going on vacation with me, especially if I’m filming.  These are the types of things I say:

“THERE ARE TWO HOURS OF SUNLIGHT LEFT.  WE CAN GET TO THE NEXT 18 PLACES IF WE HURRY!”

“WHY WOULD YOU TAKE A NAP RIGHT NOW?!”

“I DON’T HAVE TIME TO WORRY ABOUT YOUR PROBLEMS.  WE HAVE TO GET THIS SHOT.”

Believe it or not, I managed to convince two friends to come on a week-long road trip with me through Northern California.  I probably won them over when I pitched the beautiful bluffs of the Pacific Coast Highway, the scenic drive up to Glacier Point in Yosemite, and the peaceful Emerald Bay of Lake Tahoe.  But I knew it wouldn’t be all pretty landscapes.

Meet Charles and Jinelle.  Actually just Jinelle.  You already met Charles in my Salton Sea video.  I’m just going to assume all my readers have my videos memorized and know exactly who I’m talking about.   Jinelle is our friend from Michigan who actually flew out just for the trip! I must have really pitched road trip idea well!  We go way back to the middle school years.  And we met Charles in college. The three of us get along great, especially when they do what I want them to do.

Anyway, we had one week to make this trip happen.  I told them where we’d be going: Yosemite, Tahoe, Shasta, Avenue of the Giants, San Francisco, and Big Sur.  It was an ambitious plan to see so many world-renowned places in seven days.  And each place would probably be better explored in seven days on their own.  But I wasn’t going to let that stop me from having an awesome adventure.  I was going to see as much of NorCal as I could.

Jinelle flew into LAX at 10:30PM and we began our adventure at 3:50AM. Actually, that’s the perfect lead in to this video.  You’ll see why:

I promise it’s somewhat entertaining. And it’s short.

I posted this video to Reddit and other social media sites.  These were some of the responses I got:

“You go to see beautiful sites in nature and then B**@#($& about not finding a hotel? Try camping. LOSER!”

“I hate when people travel just to check things off their bucket list instead of actually spending time to enjoy a place.”

Personally, I think a more constructive criticism would have been about Charles’ wardrobe choices:

charles wardrobe

charles wardrobe 4
Look at that sock game!

As the video showed, the trip was fast, fun, and full of some amazing scenery.  This is the type of trip I like to take and I hope I can do more in the future.  Unfortunately this thing called real life gets in the way right now.  If you’d like to sponsor me, I’d be willing to take monthly payments so I can buy a tent, take longer, more meaningful trips, and silence my critics.  I’m very sensitive to their opinions.

Don’t wait for the perfect moment, situation, or right way to travel.  As always, go trip yourself!

-Randy

Yosemite tunnel view
Tahoe emerald bayShasta lake damRedwoods avenue of the giantsSan Francisco painted ladiesBig Sur coast