Colony of Losers- Fuck Stigma and Mental Illness, I'm like 25

Surviving your Quarter Life Crisis and becoming an adult

Making of Martinez#2: Choke Porn Philanthropy and Journalistic Ethics

Posted on | June 18, 2010 | 2 Comments

“You have two options,” explains my white haired editor.  “One, you can give us his name, and we’ll talk to him and see what we can work out.  The other is you don’t give us his name, and you lose your internship.”

“I can’t give up the name of my source,” I say, feeling a strange combination of pride and absolute terror.  I’m playing Woodward and Bernstein, and the idea of calling my source Deep Throat threatens to make me break up laughing.

In a movie, I would spit in his face, but in a movie, I wouldn’t be panicking.

“Those are your two choices.  Have you ever heard of a man named Jayson Blair, Michael?” he asks.

Being compared to Jayson Blair is just about the worst thing to a journalist.  He worked for the New York Times and resigned in 2003 for fabricating quotes and whole stories, plagiarizing other writers’ work and generally being a piece of shit.

“Yes,” I reply.  “Fuck you,” I didn’t reply.

I should have just kept my mouth shut.  All of this could have been avoided if I’d just kept my head down and written the shitty entertainment listings that had been assigned to me.  He’s doing his job as he sees fit, pursuing a good story.  You can’t tell your editor and an idea while hoping they don’t pursue it, but I was young and apparently didn’t know how to keep my mouth shut.

If he leans on me a little bit, I could easily cave, and then we could all move on.  Only I don’t like being told what to do, especially when I think I’m right.

Fuck.

“How come you won’t let us just talk to him?” he asks.

A phone number can be checked.  A name can be found.  A front page can be filled with the face of a man who doesn’t want or need the attention.

“He doesn’t want you to know who he is,” I say.

“Why not?” he asks.

“He’s read your paper, and he thinks you’ll make him look like a piece of shit,” I say.

Pause.

“Is he even real?” he asks.

“I’m offended by the implication,” I say, even though it’s not really implication.  It’s just something he said.  Awful words form and die before passing my lips.  I say again, “He doesn’t want to talk to you.  He doesn’t trust you.”

My stomach rolls, and I need to stop myself from rising to the bait.  Losing my train of thought, I think about my stomach lining, and the coffee that feels as if it is burning its way through it.  On an average morning, I wake up and vomit up bile because of my anxieties, but since I took this trip, I have been hacking up blood.  I suspect this is not going to be helping any.

“You’ve got to give me something,” he says.  “Show me his website.  You say it’s choke porn?”

He is silver haired and tongued, about my father’s age, and here we are talking about choke porn.  I nod.  He looks up choke porn on his computer while I wait to see what he finds.

“Any other helpful tips you can give?” he asks.

“It’s not only choke porn.  He does what’s called horror porn,” I say.

“Have you been to his website?” he asks.

“I was going to try to go to a taping, but no, I haven’t checked out the website,” I say.

“Why not?” he asks.

“Not really my taste,” I say.

“You weren’t curious?” he asks.

“Thought I’d wait until I did the story.”

“Take this as a lesson,” says my editor, “a good journalist is curious about everything, even horror porn.”

I want to point out what a low point this is in my journalism career but instead sit in silence thinking of what I’m going to say to my internship supervisor, what I’m going to say to my father.  I also briefly ponder if my ever-loving brother will end up ruining his very good relationship with this newspaper by punching a hole in this man’s face.

This started a couple weeks earlier over a meal of expensive macaroni and cheese and spiced alligator.  My brother was discussing yet another scheme to conquer the world of music.

“So we do magic tricks on stage,” he says. “Fucking magic tricks, Mikey.  Sleep is a magician and so is Zone.  Magic, Mikey, magic and moustache rides.”

“Sounds really cool.  I’ve never seen a rapper do that,” I say.

“We are doing tons of new shit. You’re not going to believe the next trick up our sleeve,” he says.

My brother’s live show is as ADD as he is.  When he works with Sleep as the Chicharones they begin their show with a riveting version of Eye of the Tiger, his DJ wears a pig mask, and the rest of them sport fake moustaches.  Watching Matt on the stage is a rare pleasure for me.  When I was a teenager, he smuggled me into his shows, and I knew every word.  Rarely do you get to see someone do what they were born to do, and my brother was born to perform, not to be punctual.

We’re having dinner at 10 o’clock and he said we would eat at 7.  I’m hypoglycemic and struggling not to be rude.

“Did I tell you about the shit that happened at the show?” he asks.

I notice he’s got armbands with the American flag around his wrists.  As always, he’s wearing a leather jacket and a button up shirt, claiming to have been one of the first rappers to dress pretty.

“So I was doing a show in Vancouver a couple days ago, and I thought it would be funny to cheer, ‘USA, USA, USA…’, and the motherfuckers booed me.  Then I told them I loved Portland, and they booed me again.  I wasn’t going to take it anymore. Canadians think they can shit on America for everything, fucking ridiculous.  So I got the DJ to cut the music and told them to go fuck themselves.  Shit made sense when the US had Bush, and we had Chretien, but we’ve got fucking Harper now, and we barely have that. They’ve got Obama, and we don’t even have a government.  Shit doesn’t fly anymore.”

At this time, Parliament was being prorogued, and Canadian politics was in the process of sliding into the shit hole we now find ourselves drowning in.

A girl walks by, smiles at my brother and gives him a little wave.  My eyes bulge like a cartoon character.

“Nice looking girl, Mikey.”

“Who is she?” I asked.

“That’s Thomas’s girl.  And here is Thomas,” he says.

Thomas is larger than life and he’s pretty large in general.

A bulky dude in a Stetson approaches the table with the girl in tow.  Her magnetic cleavage leaves me unprepared for a proper introduction.  Thomas has small eyes, a big face, and a general joie de vivre that makes you feel like he’s waiting for a stripper to jump out of a cake at any moment.  He hugs my brother and smiles at me.  There is something blissfully childish in Thomas, despite the fact that he’s the oldest of all my brother’s friends.  Despite his size, he jumps up and down like a little kid that needs to pee.

“How is the little Martinez?” he asks.

My name has been ‘Matt’s brother’ throughout this trip.  Thomas hasn’t known Matt that long, and as such I’ve become Mini Martinez rather than Mini Matt.

“Pretty good,” I say.

“I’m just going to go powder my nose,” says the girl.

I take a bite of spicy alligator.

“Nothing like chicken,” I say.

Both laugh.

“Good looking woman,” I say.

“Stripper,” replies Thomas.  His voice vaguely reminds me of The Dude from Big Lebowksi. “Science Major.”

Portland has 95 churches and 95 strip clubs.  Everywhere you look is a beautiful church or a girl baring her tits.

“Wants to be a movie star.  Lucky for her, I happen to be her ticket to fame and fortune.”

Once more they both laugh.

“She’s got quite the future in front of her,” says Thomas. “Unless she winds up dead…”

He doesn’t make snuff films.  Don’t worry.

“Dead?” I ask.

“Choked to death,” supplies my brother.

“I’m missing something,” I say. “You make movies?”

As an ambitious overachiever, I start thinking of the proper way of pitching my screenplay idea.  My brother shakes his head as if he can read my mind.

“Adult films, dude,” offers Thomas.

“Oh?  Choking?” I ask.

“It’s my bread and butter,” says Thomas.

“Bread and butter?” I ask.

“Whips and chains if you prefer, though that’s sort of a different genre than what I make,” he replies and chuckles.

“Choking porn?” I ask. “What is that exactly?”

My brother bursts out laughing.  I think it’s because I said choking porn like I was asking for sugar.

“It’s not choke porn specifically.  Different market,” says Thomas, sounding vaguely offended. “I make horror porn.”

“Ghost fucking,” offers my brother.

“Sometimes,” admits Thomas, with a tiny shrug.  The bartender notices Thomas.  Thomas signals for another round for the table.  “Germans are really into it, control freaks mostly.  The basic idea is boy meets girl.  Girl wears little schoolgirl outfit, secretary, whatever the cats are into… then she usually meets her end.  Sometimes sex, sometimes just killing.  Creepy German dudes get off, and I make money.  Nobody really dies.  A Lotta clothes get ruined.  It’s nearly impossible to get corn syrup out,” he complains.

According to Thomas, there’s a market of about 2,000 hardcore users of horror porn, but they’re both dedicated and wealthy freaks.  Many movies are special orders, which means wealthy business execs provide a basic sketch of what they would like to see happen, choose from a selection of models, and get script approval before the movie even begins shooting.  Thomas pulls in around 15,000 grand a month from this business, and it funds his frequent trips to Portland to see my brother and Thomas’s never ending attempt to make his blues record .

“I help girls pay for their college tuition,” he smiles.  “I’m a humanitarian.  I pay for everything my kids need.  I’d fucking die for them. ”

He often speaks this earnestly.  He has a big heart and no interlocutor between thought and speech.

“Best dude in the world,” agrees my brother.

The lengthy powder session ends, and Thomas’s girl comes back out.  Thomas is ridiculously honest and as a result begins to explain his life story in less than an hour. He also buys us round after round.

According to legend, my brother met Thomas in New Orleans during a tour long ago.  Thomas ran a small club and performed soul tunes during Open Mics.  He got my brother loaded after his show and took him to a strip club… a life long friendship was formed.  Before that… well, he did a little of everything.  He worked for Hurricane Katrina disaster relief and suffered from posttraumatic stress.  It’s here that he developed his desire to rescue people.  He doesn’t let any of his girls do drugs and makes sure they get regularly tested.  When he says he pays for their college education, he actually means it.  He offers girls more money if they’re students.

He did whale watching tours, worked for the Coast Guard, tried too many drugs, and near broke his brain getting off them.  At 45, he wishes he had concentrated on music and is constantly asking my brother to record his Blues album.  My brother always replies, ‘someday’ and begins discussing a new topic.  My brother often makes references to his record company being a good investment and Thomas debates whether choke porn would be the best investor for a small indie label.

My brother might agree with him, but the gleam in his eye often works against him.  His label has been given grants by Factor.  My brother says the system is incredible for artists, as the government helps them build their business.  Since many artists are irresponsible and use too many drugs, Factor is built around trying to make sure the money is used correctly.  It’s a business building system which funds artists’ hopes and dreams retroactively, as in they pay for their albums, and then the government pays them back half.  As a result, artists with $20,000 grants are living hand to mouth, trying to raise the money to get paid back.

Which is where Uncle Thomas comes in.  My brother has received investment from certain female adult stars interested in promoting his career.  Thomas wouldn’t be that different.  The two stay out of business together, however, in efforts to keep their friendship in tact, and Thomas is about the best friend a guy could have.

Approaching Christmas, rappers with kids don’t have enough money to buy the Christmas presents their kids want.  Thomas offers interest free loans and usually doesn’t ask for his money back.  He is the baby daddy of four children and pays child support ahead of time.

To put it plainly, Thomas is one of the most fascinating people I have ever met.  Santa Claus funded by choke porn.

Thomas said he would love to have someone tell his story, so I brought it up to my editor.  She pitched it at a general meeting. The head editor assigned it to another journalist.  Thomas didn’t trust him and didn’t want any of his information shared.  So here I was, spitting up blood and at a moral crossroads.

My dad told me that they had no legs to stand on, and that I didn’t have to back down. My brother promised to punch him in the face, despite the fact that it would fuck up his good standing with the paper.

The next day I came in.

They asked whether I had the name.

I told them that I couldn’t give it up.  I was willing to accept the loss of my internship.

He looked at me and told me that he hoped I’d learned my lesson.  I still don’t know quite what that lesson is besides never get in between a reporter and a good story.

They let me stay at my job.  For two weeks I came into work, spat up blood in the morning, and hated every minute of it.

During my time in Portland, I got to know my brother and his friends… and a little idea called Colony of Losers began to take shape.

Welcome to the Colony of Losers, a world of quarter life crises, anxiety, depression and the friends and the failures on the way to your future. This is the story of Michael Kimber’s panicked fall into adulthood.

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2 Responses to “Making of Martinez#2: Choke Porn Philanthropy and Journalistic Ethics”

  1. MCLovely
    June 21st, 2010 @ 1:00 pm

    Brilliant, I love the staggered speech, the descriptive turn of phrase that leaves you waiting to find out. Hit me up when you write a novel or a comic book. I’m in.
    1 luv

  2. Bob Mottley
    June 22nd, 2010 @ 8:25 am

    Michael,
    I’ve really enjoyed reading colony-of-losers. It was good you stood your ground in Portland. So much of what passes as ‘news’ is unsourced today that the few real sources left have to be protected.
    Bob

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  • About

    Michael Kimber is a 26-year-old journalist who suffered a nervous breakdown on November 3rd, 2009. On March 28th, 2010 when he recovered from mental illness, he began writing a blog called Colony-of-losers. About falling on your face to figure out who you are and the hilarious antics of a blond jew. What began with a few friends and his mother reading has become a cult phenomenon, averaging 10,000 views a week, receiving praise from Commonwealth Award Winner Shandi Mitchell and many others. On, November 3rd, 2010, the one year anniversary of his mental breakdown he signed with Anne McDermid and Associates, the largest literary agency in Canada. In a year he went from wearing pajamas, making his couch depression HQ to leaving his hometown for the Toronto, where he exclusively wears business suits and the armor of ancient Greeks. Don't worry, he's still choking on the feet he contently sticks in his mouth and making moments awkward just by being part of them. During these struggles he met other talented bastards and drew them into his circle. Peter Diamond became his illustrator. Patrick Campbell his video editor and part time photographer. He recently added the incredibly talented John Packman as Colony of Losers Toronto photographer. Without the support of the Colony of Losers, Michael Kimber would be nothing. Welcome to the losers and the success that comes from utter and complete failure. You aren’t alone. Follow him on twitter.com/colonyoflosersand twitter.com/quimbo. If you’d like to hire him for a public speaking engagement for mental health events in Toronto, like to arrange an interview, offer millions to publish his book or for another reason contact Michael please email him. And join his facebook Colony of Losers.

    Really obvious disclaimer:
    I’m not a trained psychologist. Just a fellow traveler. If you need help seek it from the professionals. The Canadian Mental Health Association provides a help locator. You can find crisis resources provided by the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. If you are in the states check here. It will give you services by zip code. I’d also recommend checking out Mindyourmind.ca. I think they do great work and have been a help to me personally.

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