Friday, May 9, 2008

Florida: Here I come!

It all began innocently. I think it all began innocently. You see I had thought that I had wanted to go back to writing – and I was searching around for some way to re-sink my claws and paws into a project. But I wasn’t sure. That I remember; I wasn’t sure.

I had co-authored Donald Trump’s “Trump: The Art of the Comeback” – and we had reached pretty healthy levels of success, hitting #1 on the Wall Street Journal’s Best Seller list and #3 with the New York Times' prestigious list.

The short, official story, is that I had burnt out in New York and came to Florida to recharge my engine. There are and have been other stories that have circulated.

The “official” story is that I thought I’d live the life of an artiste – barefoot, sun-kissed, stroking a big black Labrador, perched under a palm tree, outlining the next chapter of my new project. It would be an ambitious tome detailing the a ruthless Titan of Industry’s creation of wealth, a memoir that he didn’t have time to write, but wanted to say he had anyway. I had gotten a call from one of my editors at George Magazine. He had told me there was a book in the works about this Titan of Industry and that his agent at William Morris had told him that I was on the short list – of a list of 5 writers. Well, actually ghost writers – not exactly as illustrious as being a writer. But, suffice it to say – I listened. Florida + This Project = Better Life.

My mind drifts back. How did I end up in Florida in the first place?

It was an icy evening in mid December. My Holiday red and gold lame Versace gown hung like a smock on my rail thin frame. The firm’s Christmas party, again. What a chore. Another year, I thought, I’m just not sure if I can do this. I break into a Hollywood smile and push through the revolving doors of Doubles, in the basement of the Sherry Netherland in the Pierre Hotel on 60th and Fifth Avenue, the last bona fide private club in Manhattan. The sea of faces slowly came into focus. Ah, Walter, our corporate counsel. There’s Mitch, the comptroller, and conceivably the only person at the firm whom I liked anymore. Certainly the only colleague whom I’d eat lunch with. Then I saw them, the two aging, unctuous, haughty board members. I loathed them only slightly less than their wives. Be charming, Kate, please. It’s only one evening. You can do it. “Hello!” I waved pleasurably and ambled across to their table. “Can I get you all a glass of champagne?”

It was 2005, the firm’s Christmas party. As the horns in the swing band whined, the aging dined, and the corporate glitterati wined, I become what felt like the omniscient narrator of my own story. I watched myself from above mingling in the crowd, nibbling on hors d’oeuvres, smiling politely and making pleasantries. Then suddenly, the crescendo of the horn section became a near screech, the room started to spin – around and around like a ride in an amusement park – until I found myself standing in the middle of the dance floor bewildered and faint. I looked up and thought: There is no one in this entire room that I ever want to break bread with – let alone speak to – ever again. I picked up my sequined bag, slipped my mink stole over my shoulders, walked out, and raised my hand signaling for a cab. As I marched past my doorman at 141 East 56th Street, I turned around and simply said: “Julio, I’m done.” Three weeks later, I’d moved to Florida.

It took me five months and two writing projects to figure out that I was achingly bored. My real problem was that I kept fibbing about it – and I’m not terribly effective at masking tedium, which gets me into heaps of trouble at cocktail parties. I was bored and anyone who met me knew it. Although if anyone dared suggest it to me, I would retort with a weary combination of indignant half-truths, and withering excuses, which gave the air of “Thou doth protest too much!”

That’s when I got the e-mail:

Kate...basically I think there is an opportunity for a new voice/personality on the Internet; each technology creates at least one.

Charlie Rose and Larry King in their 60’s; a new set of such personalities are developing now. The idea of KBTV would be to produce 3 minute segments on a set of subjects that you really care a lot about, upload them to Youtube and its competitors, and use the viral nature of the web to develop a new audience. The data says that such audiences prefer short, humor, quirky and are very personality driven. In your case the content plus you should really work in this medium! The shows could be produced on a balcony with the ocean behind you (with some front lighting) and you could do all of it yourself to start with and see what works. All you would need is a camera, Macintosh and a light/microphone. The uploads would refer to your website for more info/more depth..

I was intrigued. What an opportunity, I thought! I’ll become a video blogger in South Florida. Hmmm. That’s different. Sounds exciting! And on a shoe-string budget. How romantic! I immediately sent out a much copied (and subsequently forwarded) e-mail announcing my new career opportunity!

The only push back I remember getting was from an old friend at The Wall Street Journal.

“Kate … Whhhat? Videoblogging on YouTube at your age?”

Stay tuned for why I moved to Santa Monica!

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