‘Fourth Turning’ Flashpoint: New York City

by Shelt Garner

I don’t believe in the concept of the “Fourth Turning” — it’s just astrology for dudes. But is an effective shorthand for the potential clusterfuck we face in late 2024, early 2025.

One place to keep an eye around that timeframe is New York City. I say this because not only is a lot of Right wing media based out of NYC, but the flagship Trump Tower is there, too. So if the country begins to collapse because of the pressures of the 2024 presidential cycle, then I could see the possibility of there being a popular revolt in NYC directed at Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post and Trump Tower.

This sounds very, very fantastical at the moment, but, as they say, one goes bankrupt gradually, then all at once, so…it’s at least possible? As I keep saying, I still don’t think there’s going to be a National Divorce or Second American Civil War. There may be rolling political violence like B├írbara F. Walter keeps writing about, but not the full-scale civil war that I’m nervous about.

Blues just don’t have it in them.

And, yet, if it becomes clear that either the 2024 election is going to be brazenly stolen or the new, incoming MAGA POTUS is going to be really, really radical in their policies…it’s possible, just possible that there might be a massive groundswell for a National Divorce in Blue states — with California and New York City being the two places where the bolts begin to pop off of the country in a rather conspicuous manner.

I don’t know, we don’t quite know the final elements of what will happen in 2024 — especially like what SCOTUS will rule on the “Independant Legislature” concept — so….lulz? I’m always, always wrong and any “Fourth Turning” (giggle) is about 18 months from now. But I would suggest you think seriously about getting the fuck out of the United States if you have the means.

Watch Out For That Last Step

by Shelt Garner

There is a memorable Amy Schumer skit about a group of women having dinner on their “last fuckable evening.” I find myself pondering this as I approach my 50th birthday with little — if anything — to show for it. Now and again, I stop myself and ponder how the fuck I got myself into this situation and what I’m going to do about it.

The crux of the matter is I kind of blew out an psychological knee because of what happened with ROKon Magazine in Seoul. So, I spent a lot — A LOT — of time grieving over that particular clusterfuck because it was very clear that everything that went wrong in that particular situation was a reflection of my personality.

So, in a sense, it’s failure was my failure.

Now, of course, I’m zooming towards being 50 and for no other reason than to simply justify air being in my lungs, I find myself struggling to figure out how I might live up to whatever remaining potential I may have.

The biggest obstacle is, of course, my age and lack of any particular career. So, there comes a point — right about now — when it is exceedingly difficult to imagine a situation where I will ever find any traditional success at all. Even if I do something that would otherwise merit it.

Now, I’ve spend the last few years making myself feel better by remembering that Stieg Larsson was 50 when he sold three novels. (He promptly died of a heart attack, but still.) But I have to admit to myself that there were some factors that helped him be a success in that situation that I very much don’t have.

He had a successful career as a journalist in the comparatively small nation of Sweden. So, it wasn’t like he was me, being a complete loser nobody in the middle of nowhere in a nation of 335 million souls. Also, there was probably an element of nationalism in why he got his first — and last — three novels published. The publisher probably saw what he wrote as a way to further Swedish culture.

Now, after adjusting to a severe learning curve, my both my writing and my storytelling has gotten significantly better. And, as such, I’m within shouting distance of not only not embarrassing myself with this first novel, but actually getting it published in a traditional manner.

But, still, even if I get this novel published and even if it’s a significant success, I’m not going to get what I want. It’s not like I can ever be young in New York City, no matter how successful I become. And, what’s worse, any success I have at this point given the context of what is going on will be couched in the context of my age and otherwise what a big loser I have been for much of my life.

It’s all very disheartening. The idea of there being an old age Even Horizon is not something that is clear until it’s too late. It’s not like I could start a career in any traditional field.

I’ve given all of this some thought and there are three ways that I might, despite my age, find a modicum of some “success” despite inherent ageism and the fact that I’ve been a big old loser for way, way too long.

  1. The Novel I’m Working On Becomes A Hit
    This is the one I’m hoping for a the moment. But, of course, even if I stick the landing, we’re probably talking me actually seeing “success” at some point in 2024, given the needs of post-production. I will be 51 and not only will my age be anything anyone wants to talk about, but the United States will be in the middle of the 2024 POTUS campaign silly season. And, as I keep saying, I have real concern that the United States in late 2024, early 2025 is going to either have a civil war or turn into an autocracy. That puts a real damper on my hopes for how long I might be able to enjoy the fruits of my success.
  2. Become a Successful Fashion Photographer
    This is one, while possible, is not very probable. Even though I have the innate talent, there are a lot of basic obstacles to this one, over and above my age. I can’t afford the equipment I feel I need to properly do the job. And I live in the middle of nowhere. For me to be able to pursue this career, I would need funds that I just, at the moment, don’t have. Obviously, something might change and I might get those funds suddenly and unexpectedly. For instance, if I sold my first novel and it was a huge success, then that would help me with my dream of being a fashion photographer. But there would remain the issue of my age. The idea that I’ve just waited too long and now things that I should have been able to do — like be a successful fashion photographer — I can’t do for the basic reason of my age is very troubling.
  3. Second American Civil War
    This is, in its own way, the darkest and least likely of these possibilities. I’m just working with what I know about myself and extrapolating what I might be able to do. I’m a good enough writer and public speaker that if we have a civil war, I might — like U.S. Grant — find some success after having been a drunk loser for a long time. This is a really bonkers idea, but, if nothing else, it gives me a little bit of hope that I might be able to unexpectedly find the success I feel I deserve.

    Anyway, if nothing else, I need to take more seriously the implications of my age. I’m not getting any younger and I really, really need to come to grips with the hold hard reality of what that means.

I Need To Visit NYC Again

by Shelt Garner

In the past, I used to visit New York City about once a quarter. It was the closest I could get to visiting Seoul and I was always a lot of fun. I love the city’s energy and visiting — and daydreaming about living there — was always a great way to stir my creative juices.

But, my financial situation has changed for the worst and I just can’t afford to go anymore. Yet that doesn’t stop me from dreaming about maybe one day falling into the money necessary to buy the equipment needed to become a fashion photographer and move to NYC to see if I could pull of such a hat trick. Of course, that’s being exceedingly delusional — I’m probably simply too old to start a successful fashion photographer career.

I can have all the talent in the world, but I’m old enough to know that simply having native talent isn’t enough. It takes time to “come out of nowhere” and I simply don’t have that much time left on the planet to get what I want. And, even if I “got what I wanted” the context would not be wanted I wanted.

Instead of, “Wow, this cool new fashion photographer is making building a career in NYC,” it would be, “Jesus Christ, this old guy thinks he can have a career in fashion photography.”

Whenever I think like this — which is often — I mope. Then I am reminded that my life is extremely quirky and ironic. And I’m a notorious late bloomer. So, allow myself to be delusional and think that maybe, just maybe things will break my way and I’ll be able to live the dream of both being a successful novelist and a successful fashion photographer.

I am well aware of how delusional that is, coming from someone with no career and pushing 50. But one man’s delusion is another man’s dream. People can be so cruel.

But the thing about it is, while there’s life, there’s hope. You have to believe in yourself. You never know when something unexpected might change everything and put you in a far better position than you might otherwise think possible.

Meanwhile. I miss New York City. I hope to live there full time one day before I drop dead. Though, obviously, my best bet — given my personality — would be to move to LA instead and try my luck there. But I really do love NYC.

Yet Again, Am I Giving Myself Too Much Credit Thinking I Would Excel In New York City or Los Angeles?

by Shelt Garner

I’m drunk yet again. This time off of some very nice whiskey. Anyway, even though I’m An Old, I continue to idly daydream about how well I might do in a big city like NYC or LA.

As I keep saying, I think if I was forced to chose between the two cities, I would have to pick LA, even though in my heart I’m New Yorker. The only reason is, well, if you want to get all crass about it, I’m far more likely to get laid as a broke ass writer if I’m living in LA as opposed to New York City.

The question I have is, of course, am I giving myself too much credit? Am I’m making a mistake in reasoning when I extrapolate from my success in Seoul and try to apply it to a major city in the United States? I think the answer is yes to both. Yes, I am assuming more than is real AND, sometimes being delusional can go a long ways — especially somewhere like LA.

Even though I love, love, love, NYC, the metric for success there is VERY STRICT. You have to be wealthy, successful, powerful and, for men — have a huge fucking cock. I’m just a freaky little weirdo who is very extroverted and “colorful” when I get drunk.

As such, I think LA would probably be the place I land if I fall into a little bit of money at some point before I drop dead. I still believe that I have a career as a fashion photography lurking somewhere in me and, I think, a lot of the haters who grow very frustrated with me will be shocked at how I might spring out of “nowhere” at some point in the future, if not from selling a pretty good novel, then by becoming a reasonably successful fashion photographer.

But, for the moment, that’s all very much being delusional — the very type of stuff that makes those of you playing the home game very frustrated and angry with me. “If you think you have such talent, just get a fucking job and buy the equipment!” you say, etc. I’m an eccentric. When the time comes and I can afford the photographic equipment I need, then I’ll get it.

If I end up just dropping dead before then, oh well.

Well, It’s Possible There’s A Minor Amount of Chatter About Me Somewhere

by Shelt Garner

I don’t think anyone appreciates how much I live in oblivion. But I do. I really do. I totally live in oblivion to the point that the tiniest thing is interesting to me — if it’s about me.

So, I was looking at my Webstats and saw “l.instagram.com” as the referring link for someone from Queens to visit this site. The only reason why this is of note is that Instagram is the first link about me when you search for me via Google. So, logic would suggest that if you had heard about me in some way you would search my name, go to my Instagram account….then use my link from that site to land here.

This is unusual because it means that someone who probably didn’t know me from my drunk Twitter ranting but heard about me from a third party and wanted to know more about me. This is even more interesting given where they were from — NYC.

Anyway, lulz, nothing matters. But it is an interesting late summer mystery in my Webstats. It’s shit like that which makes me so obsessed with my Webstats to begin with. There’s only been one time when someone mysterious in my Webstats actually told me who they were — a person on vacation in Greenland of all places.

Regardless. I suppose the rest of this month will continue to be just as boring as it has been so far.

Of Fashion Photography & Me

by Shelt Garner

As of right now, mapping out my remaining 30 to 40 years of existence (if I’m lucky) I would say if I’m ever going to live up to my “potential” it’s going be by writing and selling a novel (or six.) The thing I know I have an innate ability to do — take a damn good photo — requires equipment that I just don’t have and can’t afford. And I live in the wrong place. I have the wrong background. I’m too old, the list goes on.

And, yet, if there’s one thing I’ve learned is my life is very quirky and strange things happen to me for strange reason. I also know that I’m 100% extroverted and am an excellent “schmoozer” — especially when intoxicated. (The usual caveats about every drunk thinking they’re the funniest person in the room obviously apply.)

As such, I occasionally pause and think about what might happen if I managed to get the funds necessary to buy the photographic equipment necessary to start a career as a professional photographer. I don’t really know the grammar of photography, but I have an eye for beauty, if you will. I know how to tell a story with a picture, in other words.

A sample of my work.

If the stars were to align and I was able to not only get the photographic equipment I needed but was able to at least attempt to start a new life in, say, New York City, there’s a pretty good chance that I could be a moderately successful fashion photographer.

I would want to be a fashion photographer because I love beauty and what could be more beautiful than to take high qualities photos of beautiful women in beautiful clothes for a living? It’s my impression — I think — that my personal photographic god Helmut Newton was older when he started taking pictures for a living.

I’m not comparing myself to him, of course, but I need some hope from somewhere.

What’s more, I’m a big enough kook that I would probably fit right in with the larger-than-life figures found all throughout the fashion world.

But all of that is really dreaming a lot. And, yet, dreaming is free. And for that, I’m thankful.

‘Dreaming Is Free’

by Shelt Garner

I’m not getting any younger. And, in fact, something pretty dramatic will have to happen pretty soon for me not to simply continue to drift in oblivion until I shuffle off this mortal coil.

Me, when I was a man on fire on Seoul.

But stranger things have happened, as they say.

I could sell this novel I’m working on and it become a huge success so I finally have the cash I need to make some of my many dreams come true. Or, I could fall into some cash and finally have enough to buy the photographic equipment I need to start a career in fashion photography. Or, far, far, far, far, far less likely, I could win the lottery one day. (Talk about dreaming being free!)

Anyway, in a sense, it’s just sad that I’m 20 years too old to make my dreams come true. Because I know that if you plopped me in New York City or LA that I would become quite well known pretty quick. NYC would be a lot more difficult than LA because the metrics by which success are measured are so brutal. You can’t simply schmooze your way to success in NYC like you can in LA. You need actual success, a lot of money, good looks and, in the case of being a man, a huge cock. (They called him Mr. Big for a reason, don’t you know.)

My late partner in crime while in Seoul, Annie Shapiro and me back at the height of ROKon Magazine’s success.

But the thing that for a number of years has made me very unhappy is I learned a lot about the “meta” of running a publication when I did ROKon Magazine in Seoul. I know, just know, that given any sort of opportunity that I could change the world.

This type of talk is boring now, after all these days. If I think I’m so great and wonderful, why don’t I simply save up the money to go to NYC or LA and put my theory to the test.

That, of course, is what I should do.

The first issue of ROKon Magazine.

But I suppose there are a number of different reasons why I haven’t — to date — done this. One is, I would want to land in NYC on my own terms. So, trying to be a fashion photographer in NYC is something I think I could probably pull off — but I also would want the proper equipment to do it right. Add to this that I’m 20 years too old to start any of this and I’m something of an eccentric when it comes to what I’m willing to do for money and…well, there you go.

I suppose if you were being a dick about it, you could say that all my talk about pulling of another ROKon Magazine, only in NYC or LA says more about me continuing to grieve over what happened with the magazine than any statement on my ability.

I just know that I learned so much about the meta of running of media company while in Seoul that it’s a shame that I probably will never get to use it — ever. And if that happens, it’s going to be my own damn fault.

Drunk Rambling About Why I Could Start An Influential Publication Given The Opportunity

by Shelt Garner

I’m currently pleasantly drunk. So drunk, in fact, that I find myself musing idly about how I have the “magic sauce” necessary to start the next Spy Magazine or Gawker.

My favorite ROKon Magazine cover.

Now, in a sense, this is so boring that I hate writing about it. It’s not like I’m ever going to have the money to what I suggest. But, as I mentioned, I am fucking drunk and so here we are — talking nonsense.

The key thing is when I believe in something, I believe in it absolutely. And I love gathering people together to form a “tribe” of “pirates” hell bent on putting a dent in the universe.

If I could somehow find myself in New York City with a stable living situation, money and access to the subway I feel reasonably sure that I would at least be the most well known person in my borough, if nothing else. I’m 100% extroverted and I do have a way of meeting famous people when given the opportunity.

Now, of course, LA probably would probably be better for me. And I wouldn’t mind living there. My heart is a New Yorker, while logically I know I probably would be better off in LA since it’s based on schmoozing and storytelling.

But if I could just be given a chance, I could change the world. If I was able to pay some writers — or, even just get someone to start a podcast with me — I have a big enough ego to think that maybe, just maybe, I could put a move on the audience to great success.

Of course, this might happen, but it’s going to happen after I sell a novel and it’s a huge success.

Otherwise — lulz.

‘Manifesting Destiny’

by Shelt Garner

Occasionally, I’ll feel a sense of dread, or just the feeling that Something Big is about to happen. Sometimes, it’s nothing. Other times, I fucking break my ankle.

I generally think gambling is the devil’s business, but I’m so desperately poor and it fits into my general belief that I’m special and destined for some sort of quirky greatness (wink) that I do, on occasion play the lottery.

I probably spend way too much brain power thinking what I would do with a sudden, significant windfall. The last time I checked, Mega Millions was up to $600 million. That may have changed recently, but I’m too lazy to double check.

Anyway, in my effort to manifest me winning the lottery, here is what I would do with all that sweet, sweet cash if I somehow miraculously won it.

  1. Move To A Big City
    The first thing I would do is become one of those smug bi-costal people who humble brag about taking the Red Eye for this or that reason. With a few hundred million dollars to play with, I would buy two places to live — one in NYC and one in LA.
  2. Start A Publication
    With all that money, I would hit the ground running. I would, I don’t know, buy The Village Voice brand or something. Or think up a new name. But whatever it was called, I would throw some money into starting a publication in the tradition of Spy and Gawker. Building this new media empire would consume my life, just like ROKon Magazine in Seoul did.
  3. Hire Research Assistants For The Novels
    I would continue to develop and write six novels, but I would hire a few research assistants to lighten the load and make the end product much, much better.
  4. Be A Bon Vivant
    Rather than be one of those lottery winners that flamed out, I would be like Mark Cuban who, if we’re honest, pretty much just won the lottery when he sold Broadcast.com to Yahoo for $1 billion back in the day. I would become an insufferable media personality that was always shooting my mouth off and doing weird, interesting things for the same of doing weird, interesting things.
  5. Start A Dive Bar
    I would find a small venue somewhere cool in NYC and start a dive bar like Nori in Seoul where I used to DJ. I would be the DJ on the weekends and it would be really cool. Sort of a Studio 54 meets CBGBs vibe.
  6. Become A Fashion Photographer
    I would throw money into buying all the equipment I need and then figure out how to become a fashion photographer. I have the talent, I just am very, very, very poor and if that changed in a big way then I would make myself known in the fashion industry.

    None of this, of course, is ever going to happen. It’s just a daydream. I suppose if I sold my novel and it was A HUGE SUCCESS then some of the above might, eventually happen. But I wouldn’t count on it.

    For the time being, at least, I’m reasonably content living in oblivion.

Am I Being Delusional To Think I Could Make It In NYC? (Yes, Probably)

by Shelt Garner

I look back on my life and am sad that I didn’t have the gumption to visit NYC on a regular basis when I was in my 20s. Maybe things would have worked out differently for me. Now, as an Old, I visit NYC every once in a while and I love it. It’s really inspiring and, as an extrovert, I feed of the city’s intense energy. Whenever I go, find myself slipping into a daydream where I live in the city full time and I’m a regular bon vivant.

Me, in LA 2025?

In other words, I’m delusional.

But there’s some context. I’ve found most New Yorker’s have a lot of heart despite being very cold and distant to strangers. The city if full of characters and, being a character myself, I find myself drawn there. If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere, as the song goes. I think back to my drunken rampage when I was living in Seoul many moons ago, and a little part of me wistfully wonders if I could pull off similar success on Trantor instead of Terminus, to use an Isaac Asimov reference.

Here’s my thinking — the same dynamic that caused me to become one of the best known expats in South Korea would be at play in New York City. I’m an extreme extrovert and the more I drink, the more extroverted I become. The usual caveats about drunks thinking they’re the funniest person in the room apply, of course.

And, yet, every time I delude myself into thinking this, I realize maybe I have the wrong city in mind. There are plenty of cranks on the streets of New York City that get nowhere in life. New York City is full of larger-than-life, colorful characters who pretty much exist solely to inspire drunk writers like me.

As such, maybe LA is where I should head instead, given the opportunity. The only reason I even suggest this is I’m such a good schmoozer (especially when intoxicated) that I have a hunch that someone, somewhere with a little bit of clout might notice me if I ended up at a cocktail party. As I’ve written before, I’m known to pontificate a lot like Quentin Tarantino in the movie “Sleep With Me.”

But, of course, I’m old. I’m not as cute as I used to be, far from it.

So, I think my best bet is to just keep my head down and keep working on these six novels I’m developing and writing. And, should the opportunity come, look into writing a screenplay or three as well.