The past couple years have been interesting. I’ve stood by and watched a number of rumors about my personal life circulate and die. You cannot address every conspiracy theory or half-baked reddit post about yourself once you become a public personality. Once you get into that tit for tat, it’s game over for your peace of mind... and your free time.
There’s no need to clear up the record, but I want to. As a public personality, one of my favorite quotes is “if you want to be understood, explain.” The public demands that, as they should. And as my health appears to be in decline, I don’t want dishonest people writing my life’s story.
I moved to Los Angeles from south Florida after a show idea I had was successfully crowdfunded, raising
more than US $6,000 on the Internet to produce a season of a grassroots YouTube show dedicated to many of the political and economic issues raised from my bedroom in Florida, where the original audio podcast was “headquartered.” I loved that period of my life in Florida, interviewing local politicos and self-help gurus and bartenders. If I could go back to that, I would.
Because it was perfect.
In Los Angeles, I aligned with a toxic personality who billed himself as an attorney. In reality, his attorney status had been revoked after a couple of back to back DUIs in the state of California, but since an acquaintance Joe Rogan had vouched for the guy, I allowed him into my world. What a mistake. He squandered a significant portion of the crowdfund on alcohol and vice; we parted ways shortly after that, despite his baseless threats of retribution.
His personality defects were ultimately my fault, because I was desperate to have a contact “on the ground” in LA before getting there, and on paper he was everything I wanted - not the fraudulent alcoholic he actually was, but the grounded legal mind I knew I needed during that volatile, growth-oriented period of my media life.
Aside from that, Los Angeles was transformative. Joe Rogan told me I would be his podcast’s “politics contributor” and would be on every couple months to share the latest political scandals with his audience. That turned out to be a bald-faced lie; when Bitcoin, which I had championed, dropped into the $300s, then $200s, Mr. Rogan stopped replying to my emails and text messages. His producer Brian Redban implied on Twitter I was mentally unwell, and I was - abandoned, in debt, attacked personally in ways that made my days reporting on the N.S.A. seem downright splendid by comparison.
I left Los Angeles as a result of economic necessity and moved to Colorado. In Colorado, I found a place to recover and rehabilitate my image, but not a lot of free love. Colorado may have legal weed, but it’s no Haight-Ashbury love in - even in 2016, it’s do or die, do it for yourself, Midwestern frontier ethic. And in retrospect, I like that. I needed that Midwestern sensibility. LA had made me spoiled: beautiful women, incredible former close friends including the screenwriter Ally Maynard and country legend Shooter Jennings and a couple of young billionaires up north in the Bay Area. I loved San Francisco and its energy.
I needed Colorado, though.
It was very humbling in Colorado, for me. Bottoming out and rebuilding from scratch, alone... The crypto markets were decimated at that point in time; I was worth less than a homeless person, but proud. I applied for jobs at Walmart and Target, receiving rejections. When a Walmart opening had me in mind, I gratefully accepted, driving out there as fast as I could. An email from a longtime reader I read in the parking lot caused me to tell my training manager I’d have to respectfully decline the job offer for greeter. Other life plans.
I flew up to Canada to learn more about BitGold, and its parent Goldmoney. A man my age, Roy Sebag, had acquired the publicly traded Goldmoney and built its new subsidiary BitGold into a million-plus community of users transacting in verifiable, insured physical gold. We became friends and I used it as an opportunity to learn as much about the business as possible. Sebag hired former PayPal Canada CEO Darrell MacMullin to helm his gold start-up, and attracted a number of other thought leaders in the space, including Peter Schiff’s SchiffGold, which was recently acquired by Sebag’s company. The company is funded by a number of wealthy financial elites including precious metals entrepreneur Eric Sprott and the legendary Soros family.
The deeper I dug, the more admiration for the self-made Sebag, both personally and as a sound money supporter. One evening during a conversation, I likened him to a millennial Jamie Dimon, and was swiftly corrected: “More of a J.P. Morgan,” Sebag shot back, annoyed. I agreed and said so. Sebag, a former hedge fund manager who has bailed out a number of prominent U.S. brands including American Apparel, set his sights fully on fixing the fractured financial system. And to him, building a payments network on the immutable, ancient first currency - gold - just made more sense, not only ideologically, but mathematically: you can move gold ownership around the world faster and cheaper than fiat currency, which was Sebag’s breakthrough realization after years of working within the traditional financial system and profiting from it greatly. It’s a realization that could net Sebag and his Colorado born co-founder Josh Crumb a number of devoted users in the years ahead.
CALIFORNIA / TORONTO
As fascinating as the re-utilization of gold as currency is to a researcher like me, I was also intrigued by the emergence of “Bitcoin 2.0” technology Ethereum,
which was headlined at several meetups I had attended in Toronto and back in California. Turing Complete and invented by a trio of crypto geniuses, everyone from Microsoft to Chris Dixon
had been saying good things about Ethereum publicly, so I knew I had to dive in.
I became friends with co-founder Taylor Gerring, interviewing him on my YouTube channel several times and showing him around Toronto when he was in town. Mr. Gerring is a different
kind of techno-industrialist. Having built the better mousetrap along with colleagues Vitalik Buterin, Anthony Di Iorio, and Roman Mandeleil, Mr. Gerring always seemed more interested in making sure that anyone who wanted to understand why it’s better could be shown that, without alienating anyone who doesn’t yet perceive the importance of blockchain-based commerce. I sensed a level of compassion and original vision desperately lacking in most other areas of the crypto economy.
I had a couple friends growing up whose parents had jettisoned support for them at an early age, and I had never really fully understood why that damaged them so deeply. 30 now, it’s tough to see my parents growing distant from me - despite their considerable early investments in Bitcoin and Ethereum, they don’t believe - in the technology, or in me. That’s corrosive.
Yet that’s fine. Cryptocurrency has never been about belief. It’s about utility and freedom and easily reproducible math - okay, fine, reproducible math... It’s not that easy.
Everything ahead happens on schedule, regardless of whether the boomers are on board.
Collectively, they have done a very weak job with our planet, in my view. Petrol economy, prolonged drug war torturing nice people over harmless cannabis use, enormous private prison economy, ubiquitous surveillance, slavish devotion to police departments that answer to the aforementioned enormous private prison economy... I’m not really a fan. It is cowardly and unsound.
But their generation is dying out, you know.
And that’s good. It’s all good, to be honest. I wouldn’t trade the lessons I’ve learned for a million dollars. But I know that if a million or two is all that’s ahead for me, well, that’s not the reward any of us were after. It’s still about building a better, more sensible world. As millennials, we do not have to be perfect. We simply have to be moving toward a better, more sensible world - we will build it, and our children will play in it. That’s worth fighting for.
I was blessed to be a weekly panelist on the now defunct national cable program, Take Part Live. Minutes from my apartment in LA, it seemed a dream come true - I was allowed to talk about Bitcoin, gold, monetary freedom, surveillance and corruption weekly. Their host, Cara Santa Maria, was gracious, intelligent, and a friend to me.
Inexplicably, the show was canceled after that season, I was never invited back, Santa Maria and her co-host were fired (he later got a contributor role at MSNBC), and they were replaced with a fat, entitled, intellectually empty Meghan McCain, the daughter of senior United States Senator John McCain from Arizona. So unpopular was the “Meghan season” of Take Part Live, the show and network were shuttered after that season.
Disclosure: At time of publication, I hold some ether, bitcoin, gold, and US Dollars in my long term portfolio.