The Personal Touch
I am currently deep into my second GoFundMe, to cover the travel costs endemic in following “Weird Al” Yankovic’s tour for this website (there’s a big piece on the tour coming Wednesday that I am currently wrestling into shape) and the eventual Weird Accordion to Al book. Though there are still nine, count em, nine dual-signed albums from Al’s current box set signed by both Al and I currently still available at a (relatively) low, low price, the GoFundMe has otherwise been a huge success.
My first GoFundMe, for that magical stint when I reconnected with my eccentric half-brother and covered the 2016 Republican National Convention and attended the Gathering of the Juggalos all in the same magical week was an even bigger, more important success. I flew to Cleveland that week with no concrete assignment to help me offset the enormous costs endemic in my trip but the universe was kind to me. I made a strong case for myself and my plan and the money poured in.
I made enough money to not only cover my trip but to move my family out of my in-laws’ basement and into a home of our own, just like real adults! More importantly, I was able to handle every facet of the GoFundMe myself. I wrote up the campaign. I thanked the donors. I sent constant updates and PDFs and for a good month or so would travel to the post office every afternoon to hand-deliver signed copies of my books.
I ended up buying back a lot of my old books for the GoFundMe that led to 7 Days in Ohio. I similarly have been in the surreal position of buying up lots and lots of copies of Weird Al: The Book for my current GoFundMe. It’s weird to be both the co-author and largest single purchaser of Weird Al: the Book.
In a matter of days, I’m going to make it really weird with my kindly benefactor, childhood hero and onetime employer Alfred Matthew Yankovic by having him sign a fuck-ton of books and albums and knickknacks and murder confessions for my GoFundMe and then I’m going to once again engage in the epic, time, labor and cost-intensive process of hauling my packages to the post office to send them to patrons.
It is, as you might imagine, an enormous pain in the ass. That’s some work for that ass, above and beyond the process of going to all of these shows, and traveling to city and city, and, of course, spending a year and a half painstakingly writing about every single solo song Al has ever recorded.
But it was also enormously rewarding, validating and satisfying to send out the rewards for the 7 Days in Ohio campaign. Every package I sent out reflected someone’s belief in me and my vision. It meant that someone was a big enough fan that they wanted to support me directly as opposed to, say, reading my movie reviews in The A.V Club.
The success of that GoFundMe campaign gave me the confidence to eventually launch Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place. I realized then that I could do things my way, independently. I wouldn’t need to rely upon the fickle whims of higher ups at Conde Naste (who bought Pitchfork not long after the end of The Dissolve) or Univision (co-owners of The Onion) to make a living: I could work directly with my readers and create something that represented my vision in the purest, most typo-riddled form.
My most important relationships have always been with readers. So it felt so right to have them be my bosses at well. That’s why one of my favorite features here is Control Nathan Rabin. I love the interactive, personal aspect of it. That’s also why I love Control Nathan Rabin 4.0. Not only has it injected a nice flow of money into the site’s Patreon after it hit a wall, but it allows me to work for readers in the most direct way manageable.
If you pony up one hundred dollars to choose a movie for Control Nathan Rabin 4.0, you’re supporting me creatively and financially in a very direct way. You’re also choosing the nature of my work. It’s a collaboration of sorts.
Doing things by yourself entails a whole lot more work. It involves a lot more stress. But the rewards are bigger not just financially but emotionally as well. It’s going to be huge headache to finish up my GoFundMe by sending out autographed books and autographed albums and autographed copies of The Weird Accordion to Al when I finish that marathon. But it’s the best kind of headache to have, because it means that people believe in you and your vision and want to support your efforts to live and work outside a toxic corporate environment and you can’t put a price on something like that. It’s goddamn sacred, is what it is, and I will not stop working feverishly to justify that faith.
Join a nice community, get access to patron-only content and be the kind of All Star Smash Mouth celebrated in song over at https://www.patreon.com/nathanrabinshappyplace