King Midas of Cool


Here he comes. Up through Austin. Down from Portland. He’s stopping in Boulder, with many more Colorado destinations in mind. He’s traveling west for a little artist colony outside of Joshua Tree, then east for Asheville. He’s the King Midas of Cool. And everything he touches turns to gold.

He’s driving an old van that he fixed up for the nomad life. Sometimes he parks it out on the street in San Francisco, alongside all the teachersand city service workers rendered homeless by tech crowd’s land grabs. Doing so bumps one of them out of place. But it’s cool, he says. Life is better with less. It’s what the hippies would have wanted. Besides, it’s all going to be automated anyways.

He drives out into the mountains on the weekends for a little R&R. He knows where all the good climbing spots are. Except they don’t stay good for long. He touches the rocks and they turn to gold. And for one brief moment, it’s an experience unlike anything you’ve ever seen. But it’s all over after that. In the high heat, the metal gets too hot to be around, let alone climb. A water vendor shows up selling plastic bottles and it makes a mess. The county contracts with a private company to clean it up and they start charging eight dollars a head to enter the area. And when it’s all said and done, the land ends up being sold to the mining company.    

He’s not too worried about it though. He’s already been through all the well-known sites. Climbed all the big mountains. Including Everest. Every piece of trash under his boots? Gold. Whole bands of wealthy tourists followed him up there to grab some of it. From the distance, it looked like a traffic jam. But really, that’s his magic at work.

Just ask the owners of Bounce House Breweries. It used to be this cozy, little nothing craft beer spot eighty-miles outside of Flagstaff. The beer wasn’t even all that great. But they had a field out back, filled with specially designed bounce houses. Then the King came through and ordered an I.P.A. and an oatmeal stout. He touched the counter and before anyone knew what was happening, the property value shot straight up and took half the county with it. Now it’s the only industry in town that can afford to pay its employees a living wage. The bounce houses are still there, but it’s a little different now. Some kids were jumping in it at the same time as the King (they weren’t strict about the ‘under twenty-one’ thing at the time). All the inflatable bases metallicized and one kid broke an ankle. Now you got a sign a waiver before you go in. The waiver also consents to giving Bounce House Breweries access to all your data.

That kind of thing happens wherever he goes. It’s not too different from the time he wandered through El Paso. He went out drinking with Beto and took a rough tumble in the dirt while walking home. His contact with the land transformed a whole barrio. But, golden houses? Get real. The city had no choice to bulldoze it. It was for the best, having absolutely nothing to do with Beto’s father-in-law being a land developer. The King still passes through from time to time. Says he knows a little place that cooks killer food, and that there’s nothing better than a fish taco served on twice-swiped Mexican land. You can even get a Bounce House Brewery oatmeal stout there.

But he’s never in any one spot for too long. He’s always on the move. He’s got an eye on Detroit and another on Kansas City. He was in Brooklyn for a while. But he’s done with it. Couldn’t do it after the whole row broke out over the bar with the forty-ounce wine bottles and genuine bulletholes in the walls. Yeah, he was there on the opening night, but that’s not the point.

He’s got money. And some business ideas. Mostly for start-ups. He’s going to make the Netflix of brunch. Or maybe the Ali Baba of small-houses, the GrubHub of board games, or the PornHub of big-box stores. And if all those fail, he’s also got some ideas on how the industry could be better regulated.

He’s learning to play the ukulele. He’d love to take you hiking and then grab a craft beer for a first date when he meets you off a dating app. He’s preparing to launch. He’s intermittently fasting. He’s not sure about this one, Rick. He’s adjusting his views on nuclear. He’s turning on the Clintons. He’s buying poplin shirts. He just cleared 100k clicks a day. He’s the King Midas of Cool. And whatever it is you’re into, he’s coming for it.

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