So it’s MaxFunDrive time again. Over the past three years, I’ve been upping my donation each year, from $5 to $10 to $20 a month. But late last year, as I will not shut up about, I uprooted my life to move to Philly and was unemployed for a stretch and paying actual rent instead of parent’s basement rent and didn’t honestly have the extra $20 laying around each month. So I went down to the $2/month option. I’m not a monster.
But now I have a steady job and recently sold the endless money black hole that was my car. So I’m keeping the tradition alive and going for the $35/month level this year. Yeah, I want the sex toys and glassware and earphones. But I could buy them myself if I really wanted them. I’m donating to donate, because I really love MaxFun.
I bring this up once a year, on Twitter in the past, but I discovered The Sound of Young America in the absolute darkest part of my life. I was stuck caring for my ailing great-grandmother, a depressed community college dropout, jobless after a stint of seasonal work, and suffering from insomnia. I listened to something like 190 episodes of Jordan Jesse Go! back to back, without an mp3 player, straight off my cheap laptop while playing FreeCell, sitting in the kitchen of my great grandmother’s basement apartment because it was the only room with a tiny window. There wasn’t even any internet access there at the time. I’d drive to the McDonald’s two miles away and sit in the car in the parking lot, stealing their wifi to download twenty episodes or so.
As a hard luck story, it’s a bit weak. I mean, I had a laptop, and all your bottom level Maslow requirements. But I hated myself and my life so violently back then, and Jordan and Jesse’s voices were my lifeboat. I don’t think I would have actually killed myself, but I certainly didn’t want to be alive. I needed a reason wake up the next morning, even if the reason was nothing more than dick jokes and oh, Chris Fairbanks in on again in five episodes!
See, that’s the thing about media. Some podcast or book or album is quietly saving someone’s life out there in the littlest, biggest way. The artist will probably never know, is wheeling and dealing to make their own life run, never quite sure if the thing they’re pouring their soul into is good enough. This is a chance to vote, to make it possible for someone to have the time and the money to create something amazing that will change someone else’s life. I mean, we should probably be doing that for all art, but podcasts are the best art.
And I haven’t even gotten to the rest of the good things MaxFun has brought into my life: the people I met online and at MaxFunCon East, the artists I first learned about on The Sound of Young America that inspired me to do the things I do now, the times I’ve scream-laughed over the McElroy Brothers’ impossibly twisted riffs…
Where I come from, most people I knew lost themselves down bottles and bongs out of sheer boredom, and god, it took me three years longer than it should have to get out of that place. But I was always scrabbling for something better and finding this world, all funny and smart and sincere and earnestly striving, was a slow burn catalyst that’s helped make my life better than I could have imagined at nineteen.
I don’t think I’ll convert anyone, since I don’t have a lot of followers and a large chunk of them are already MaxFunsters, and probably the only other people who’ll read this were checking the tags anyway, but go to http://www.maximumfun.org/donate if you haven’t yet, and give some goddamn money to these people.