On the Precipice of Awesomeness
Peter Tatara - December 16, 2007
My adult life has been a game of hopscotch across a series of increasingly-creative, quirky, and just plan insane jobs in the entertainment, video game, and animation industries. I'm not quite sure why these responsibilities, privileges, and vast sums of money have been entrusted to me, and I can only assume each job has found me as part of some master plan scribed by the Universe -- and I can only pray that this plan is in no way associated with the Apocalypse.
My latest and greatest job is that of Conference Manager at omni-national megalo-corporation Reed Elsevier. Reed owns a lot of things including LexisNexis, Variety Magazine, the New York Comic Con, and very likely several islands in Micronesia. I came onboard with Reed's trade show unit to launch an anime-centric spin-off of their aforementioned New York Comic Con -- the New York Anime Festival.
The last 12 months of my life have been devoted exclusively to creating this convention and they've brought me together with some of the most amazing people from both sides of the Pacific I've ever met. I'm working now with men and women I idolized in my geekier, childhood days, and I'm unable to resist fumbling with my cell phone's address book whenever I'm around anime fans so that they're given a glimpse -- ever so flirtatious and fleeting -- of all their heroes in the palm of my hand.
But this isn't a story about my abuse of power, nor is it a tale of the fires, explosions, and nuclear bombs I had to snuff out to put on the New York Anime Festival. (If you're interested in either of these topics, you'll have to take me out drinking in Saint Mark's, as you'll frankly never see either story in print. Penning either guarantees me a transfer to one of Reed's Micronesian prisons.)
What is this the story of? A boy and his dream. While the metrics by which the New York Anime Festival could be deemed a failure or a success number into the millions, there was only one I put any stock in -- whether or not I was quoted in The New York Times. Japanese guests? Nope. Japanese press? Didn't care. Blog chatter? Not important. All that I really cared about was getting my name in The New York Times.
I'm no stranger to the press, with my name appearing in local papers on a semi-weekly basis during elementary school for my menagerie of academic accomplishments and television come high school for my continued scholastic success. Come college, I started getting featured by regional press for film festivals, low budget motion pictures, and other stunts and activities I toyed with during my spare time. Skipping to the present, I've been quoted in New York City handbooks like Time Out New York and essential anime publications including Newtype USA and Anime Insider. Great. Awesome. Big deal. Through it all, one mountain peak's eluded me -- The New York Times.
What's the big deal with The New York Times? And, more importantly, why do I have some notion that I deserve to be written up in it? It goes back to my first job out of college and the hubbabaloo by my Managing Director when the company's Vice President of Business Development was quoted in The New York Times for making an episode of VOTOMS available for the iPod. Again, the power of The New York Times was drilled into me at my next job, when my CEO had his New York Times mention framed in the company's main conference room.
My adult life -- a game of hopscotch across a series of increasingly-creative, quirky, and just plan insane jobs in the entertainment, video game, and animation industries -- has never seemed very adult to me, and recognition in The New York Times, a legitimate and authoritative volume written and read by grown-ups, was something I wanted not as a selfish baby wants attention from his parents -- but as a youth trying to explore, explain, and justify his very being to himself. (Or, I just wanted to be in The New York Times to justify being a smug and pompous prick for the rest of my life.)
The New York Anime Festival's Press Department was in contact with The New York Times preceding the show, and it was a safe bet that there'd be an article about the event. What I needed to do was stress the import of me being involved with the article, and considering that I crafted all the programming, events, and panels, this wasn't too hard.
I remember when I was told The New York Times was on the phone and literally dropped what I was doing, casting a few hundred professional registration forms across the floor, to get to it. My talk with The New York Times went on for a good deal of time and ended with me sending them several photos of CATBLUE Dynamite, a psychedelic animated caper starring a girl with cat ears stealing a Frank Sinatra album from the mob premiering in the US for the first time at the New York Anime Festival.
The time following The New York Times interview was a torrent of activity, planning, preparation, and prayers. The last few weeks leading up to the New York Anime Festival were a solid sprint, and anyone close to me can testify to the fact that I went 120 hours without sleep. The pay off, of course, was Friday, December 7, when the New York Anime Festival opened its doors. You can find accounts of the convention across the internet, with over 20 pages of videos -- including several of a homeless-looking, sleep-deprived Peter Tatara rambling -- on YouTube.
By the millions of metrics Reed Elsevier judged the New York Anime Festival, it was a success. A kick-ass, knock-out geyser of awesomeness single-handed sculpted by the wunderkind whose words you now read.
But what about Peter's metric? What about his goal? What happened when Peter opened The New York Times on Friday, December 7? What happened when Peter stood on the precipice of awesomeness?