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June 30, 2008

Where the Hell Is Matt?
Posted by Teresa at 10:49 PM * 76 comments

A film in which Matthew Harding dances, and is joined by other dancers. “Utterly wonderful,” said Patrick after watching it, “because it’s so totally gratuitous.” Watching it for the fourth time, he said “That’s the best moment. … No, that’s the best moment. … There are so many best moments.”

Thanks be to Jason McIntosh for the link, and to Stride Gum, Cadbury Adams LLC, for sponsoring it without turning it into a commercial.

Comments on Where the Hell Is Matt?:
#1 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 11:18 PM:

That was sweet.

I wonder what that kuwaiti dog was thinking.

#2 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 11:26 PM:

This is absolutely wonderful. I'm full of questions, but none of them matter, and trying to get them answered would totally kill the buzz I just got from watching this.

#3 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 11:29 PM:

I think the Kuwaiti dog was joyful.

#4 ::: Piscusfiche ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 11:32 PM:

It reminds me of Xander's Snoopy Dance. :)

My favourite bits were the giant splash, the Indian girls, and that little homesick jolt when I see them in San Francisco--Alamo Park was spitting distance from my house and I parked there all the time.

#5 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 11:36 PM:

All great. Also, the Turkish military guys.

#6 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 11:50 PM:

One of the older ones has a group of kids staring at him, then one by one joining in until it's a dance party.

The women in saris, when he snaps out of his choreography, surprised me and made me laugh.

#7 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 11:57 PM:

Wait, wait. This is, like, two things in the last month I heard of a long time ago which appear to be new here. This makes me uncomfortable. I am used to thinking of myself as being comfortably behind the curve on all Internet traditions.

BTW: Matt also went to ... um, perhaps New Guinea? in an attempt to track down the woman who sang that song. She died, but he found her family. Amazing, actually.

#8 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2008, 11:57 PM:

Oh, this is a new one? How cool!

#9 ::: Sebastian ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 12:02 AM:

This made me cry. It's in the same spirit as that Discovery Channel ad, but ... damn. I can't think of ways to describe how it made me feel without lapsing into cliches like "this is what humanity could be". It just gets me right there. Well done, Matt.

Also, I was pleasantly surprised to see some people wearing Pandemic and Bioware/Pandemic shirts in the Brisbane clip.

#10 ::: colin roald ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 12:06 AM:

Yay! A thread I understand.

There's actually a story behind the Kuwaiti dog.

"Are you not afraid?" he asked.

"Afraid of what?"

"This dog!"

I love the video. It truly could not have been made without the internet, in so, so many ways. It's not just that without the viral power of YouTube, Stride wouldn't have been interested in sponsoring the trip. It's that, all those city people in the video? They're there because they're fans. This random dude from Seattle has got fans in Buenos Aires and Seoul and Tel Aviv, and he has a blog and tells them he's coming to their town and would they like to dance like idiots and be in the next video, and they do! They show up in mobs, in the rain.

The 21st century is friggin' awesome.

Here's a good interview with Matt, talking about how he got started.

it’s really important when you realize that you’re the one creating those boundaries and you have control over them, there’s no lock on the cage, and you can open up the door, go outside and do whatever you want.it’s really important when you realize that you’re the one creating those boundaries and you have control over them, there’s no lock on the cage, and you can open up the door, go outside and do whatever you want.
#11 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 12:21 AM:

OMG, what fun!

#12 ::: PixelFish ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 12:36 AM:

Sebastian@9: I had to go back and check the Brisbane clip after you mentioned that. And sure enough, Pandemic T-shirts. Neat. I'm gonna have to show my friend James, as he used to work at Pandemic when he lived in Culver City.

#13 ::: colin roald ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 12:44 AM:

Also, it's probably not the *best* moment in the video, but check out the first scene. You can watch that thing a dozen times and not notice that the first non-title frame in the video contains a goat standing on a motorbike.

#14 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 01:04 AM:

OK, that is truly cool.

Love the Nellis bit. Also, is the Amsterdam dancing happening in front of that canal that everybody takes photos of? (Patrick knows the one I mean, because he took a photo of it on his visit there.)

#15 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 01:30 AM:

I do love these human critters that seem to be scattered all around hyere. They're kinda sweet if you take the time to look closely.

#16 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 01:57 AM:

Maybe I'm perverse, but the one that really made me laugh? In the DMZ, with that one soldier just standing there impassivly watching. A lot of the scenes were joyful and/or moving, but that one was just plain FUNNY.

#17 ::: Lindra ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 02:26 AM:

What is the song? It's beautiful.

#18 ::: G D Townshende ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 02:31 AM:

If he ever does it again, I'll dance with him in DC, since I live a little north of the city,... I'll dance with him in Atlanta, since I make annual trips that way to visit family,... I'll dance with him in Lisbon, since I make annual trips to Portugal,... in London, since I've got family there,... in Pretoria, South Africa, since I've got family there,... in Brisbane, Australia, since I've got family there,... and in either Brussels or Amsterdam, since I want to visit one of those two cities when I go to Portugal again next year.

Great video! Loved it! Laughed the most when he got bowled over by the wave. :D (The wave bit reminded me quite a lot of the crashing waves on the rocky coastline of Porto, Portugal, where my girlfriend lives... now you know why I go there every year. :P)

#19 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 02:38 AM:

OMG, the crabs!

That was one of the most joyous things I've seen in quite some time. Thanks for the link.

#20 ::: Megan Messinger ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 02:40 AM:

I thought of the Matt videos when I watched the Discovery Channel commercial in Patrick's sidelights -- both of them make me think what a beautiful place the Earth is and about all the passionate people on it, and that not everything is hopeless. I should probably just start putting Matt on after watching the news!

#21 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 02:42 AM:

What a wonderful happy video that is.

Poking around his journal, I see that you can find separate entries for most of the countries he danced in.

#22 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 03:42 AM:

My favourite is the bit in North Korea. I suppose the guard wouldn't be allowed to join in...but I imagine he secretly wanted to.

#23 ::: JANE YOLEN ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 04:23 AM:

I laughed and laughed, and grinned, and all unaccountably suddenly found myself weeping.
It was astonishing. Thanks for the link.

Favorite moments: crashing wave, the red crabs, the monkeys, the Indian dance, the dog, and the tribal men.

Will view that again once I get control of these emotional outbursts.

Jane

#25 ::: not_scottbot ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 05:43 AM:

All that recent publicity finally led me back here - and to think I thought the headline was an in joke.

Oh well - back to Metafilter.

#26 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 06:28 AM:

You just run along, Scottbot.

#27 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 07:02 AM:

This was just lovely.

#28 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 07:59 AM:

A reminder that we are one world, one people.

Thanks for that, Teresa. It brought a smile to my face and tears to my eyes.

#29 ::: Tim May ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 08:09 AM:

Lindra @ #17:
The song is identified in the closing credits. For convenience I'll reproduce it below:

Music by Gary Schyman.
Drums and Engineering: Dan Blessinger
Vocals: Palbasha Siddique
Guitars and Bass: Kevin Dukes
Concert Master: Belinda Broughton
Lyrics adapted from the poem "Stream of Life" from Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore
The song "Praan" is available on Amazon MP3

#30 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 08:59 AM:

Here's a three-part video of a lecture in which Matt tells the story of his adventures.

#31 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 09:22 AM:

Hey, I'm in this one! Granted, it's only for a split second if you freeze it at 0:53 because most of the Toronto dance got cut out, but still...

It was really incredible how much fun it was to dance badly with a bunch of random strangers you'd never even met before.

#32 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 09:24 AM:

There suddenly flashed before my eyes a Venn diagram containing Slacktivist, BoingBoing and ML, and not_scottbot was in the middle.

#33 ::: Jason McIntosh ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 09:42 AM:

Teresa @ OP: Hooray! You are welcome.

I too was impressed that the chewing-gum folks apparently sponsored his project in exchange for a simple shout-out at the end, as opposed to to making him wear a giant gum costume or something.

#34 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 09:51 AM:

My daughters and I got lost on the way to his Atlanta shoot and missed the chance to dance with him. But Matt hung around for a LONG time afterwards, graciously dancing with anyone who wanted a clip for their private collection!

#35 ::: Kristine Smith ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 09:59 AM:

Thanks for this. I also loved the Kuwaiti dog, and the crabs, and the Indian dancers, and the DMZ, and the New Guinea tribesmen.

I teared up, too.

#36 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 10:00 AM:

That was gorgeous. I'd look for other words, but they're inadequate to express that kind of joy. And what Jane Yolen said. After I started crying, I started laughing again, and just barely avoided the hiccups. My favorites were the wave, the Indian girls, the lemurs, and DMZ. You know that tangle your fingers get into when you try to express several different things at once, and all the letters get jammed into your hands? That's the way my head feels after watching that video.

#37 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 10:07 AM:

My favorite moments were the one in India, and the one inside the Vomit Comet.

#38 ::: Stephen Granade ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 10:50 AM:

To pull a JvP, I got to talk to Matt for a bit at ROFLCon. He was warm, witty, and a lot of fun, and somewhat astonished both at the attention he'd gotten and that Stride Gum was willing to sponsor him without turning what he was doing into a big commercial.

If you've got some time to kill, I highly recommend watching the ROFLCon panel with Matt Harding and Jay "Tron Guy" Maynard on surviving internet fame.

#39 ::: Leah ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 11:14 AM:

We've been watching this video all week long, interspersed with the Discovery Channel ad. We've downloaded both the songs and made a cd just to use the two songs as the beginning and ending frame of the playlist. (Discovery Channel has made Boom de ada available for free.) I've emailed family friends I haven't seen in ten years, just to link them to this video. It is wonderful and silly and amazing and it makes me cry.

If we could get some more of this kind of thing, and that Discovery ad, we might just save this place, and each other, after all.

#40 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 11:29 AM:

the tribesmen, the indian dancers, the south african kids, the crabs, the dog.

#41 ::: Mike Booth ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 11:29 AM:

Thanks, Stephen at #38 -- I hadn't realized that ROFLCon had taken all that video!

#42 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 11:38 AM:

The happy children! The sudden Indian choreography! The dog! The... the world!

Maybe there's hope for us yet.

#44 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 12:48 PM:

Michael Roberts @ 7:
BTW: Matt also went to ... um, perhaps New Guinea? in an attempt to track down the woman who sang that song. She died, but he found her family. Amazing, actually.

This page about the project says the singer is a 17-year-old from Minneapolis (born in Bangladesh), fortunately not dead.

Were you thinking of someone else, perhaps?

#45 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 12:52 PM:

Love these videos. Love them, love them, love them.

#46 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 01:29 PM:

If I had to pick my favorite moments, I'd have to watch the whole thing and pause every time the scene changed and list them all. That would really spoil the fun. Every time someone mentions a favorite moment, I say "yeah, that was great." But there just aren't any bad moments in this video.

As someone said above, made of win.

#47 ::: Sebastian ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 01:40 PM:

Now I'm annoyed -- I can't buy the song because "The sale of MP3 Downloads is currently available only to US customers located in the 48 contiguous states, Alaska, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia."

There's some kind of irony here but I can't put my finger on it.

#48 ::: Stephen Granade ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 01:46 PM:

Mike @ 41: That convention was recorded, filmed, photographed, blogged, and twittered within an inch of its life. Now my children can have the joy of watching video of me before saying, "Really? They had you talk on a panel about lolcats?"

#49 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 03:35 PM:

I think my favorite moment is when a group of folks rushed in to dance with Matt, and someone fell on his can. My favorite, because if I was ever participating in a project like this, guess what would happen to me?

Excellent video.

#50 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 03:35 PM:

I think my favorite moment is when a group of folks rushed in to dance with Matt, and someone fell on his can. My favorite, because if I was ever participating in a project like this, guess what would happen to me?

Excellent video.

#51 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 08:34 PM:

Oh, that's such a happy thing. Even Sarcasm Girl, Queen of the Raised Eyebrow, sat next to me giggling and laughing and being startled into the same sudden Ohs! of pleasure and surprise. That's just damned gorgeous. (And yes, the dog and the Indian dancers and all those children who appear to be having the time of their lives. And the New Guinean tribesmen and... Oh, the whole damned thing.)

#52 ::: Chryss ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 08:51 PM:

Whoops, sorry for the double post, y'all.

#53 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 09:08 PM:

The sheer number of cynics who've told me upon viewing this that, y'know, this internet thing might be worthwhile after all.

Majestic whimsy. Now there's a goal.

#54 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 09:11 PM:

While we're on the topic of feel-good song commericals, I'd Like to Buy the World a Home...

http://youtube.com/watch?v=6mOEU87SBTU

#55 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 11:14 PM:

As I said to the person who showed it to me yesterday... He is full of win.

#56 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 10:29 AM:

Sebastian at 47,

The song is also available at iTunes, under "Praan" if you are willing to do iTunes.

#57 ::: Harriet Culver ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 11:28 AM:

Peter Erwin @44

The young woman in Minneapolis sings on the new "2008" video, to which Patrick linked us. Matt's trip to [ISTR it was the Solomon Islands] was in search of the singer, now deceased, whose ca. 1971 recording was used as the soundtrack for his first (2005?) Dancing video. Two different songs and singers.

#58 ::: Mitch ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 01:38 PM:

This guy is also a great writer. he has one of the wittiest and most insightful travel blogs I've ever read. He also happens to share my opinion on how much guided tours suck:

"I’ll take a few haphazard chunks of column over the big spectacle if it means I can see it on my own, without any guides explaining how it was put together; scaring away that intangible quality that transports us to another 'when', breaking the spell, ruining the ruins."

#59 ::: Sajia Kabir ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 02:14 PM:

OMG, I couldn't recognize that she was singing in Bangla! Although coming to think of it, Bengali song set to western harmonic structures - as in Bangladeshi band music - sounds like that. That's my only complaint, that they didn't use one of Rabindranath's own settings of a Gitanjali poem. Admittedly he's a bit lugubrious, although he does have a pretty good selection of joyous, even energetic repertoire.

#60 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 02:31 PM:

Oh! I remember joy!

It looks like a guy, dancing.

#61 ::: Jason B ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 03:42 PM:

I am a confirmed, lifelong, big-"c" Cynic. My favorite definition of a Cynic is an optimist who's been disappointed one too many times.

This did not disappoint. I had mysterious fluids descending my face. It turns out that I like some of humanity.

I like it a lot.

#62 ::: rams ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2008, 08:16 PM:

Oh, thank you.

#63 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 05:27 AM:

Matt Harding's dancing reminds me in some ways of Gary Brolsma's(*). Both are pretty much totally lacking in technical merit, but have a quality of sincerity and fun that is pleasant to watch.

Plus the locations are wonderfully various and picturesque, and I love the music. Great stuff.

(*) You do too know who Gary Brolsma is. Two words: "Numa numa." There. See?

#64 ::: Edward Oleander ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2008, 07:13 AM:

What really got to me wasn't the video itself (although, yes, pure WIN), but reading the 600+ comments that followed it... kind of like the ones here... just the sheer awe and enjoyment that THAT MANY people could all feel together watching someone you (or at least I) have never heard of or seen before...

#65 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 01:38 AM:

oh, oh. being internet-video averse (as ethan knows), and also way too busy recently (i'm right now trying to get my first self-published graphic novel ready to print), it took me 'til now to see it.

wow.

i pretty much bawled the whole way through, but in a good way. i think.

#66 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 01:51 AM:

Glad to see you overcame your internet videophobia, miriam.

#67 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 03:28 AM:

I love the fact that in the group shots (apart from Istanbul), he's in the back.

I hope he is happy all of his life, and fortunate in everything he does.

#68 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 04:44 AM:

Incidentally, did anyone notice the self-reference? Near the end (right at 3:40) there's a very brief shot of him dancing in "Alhambra, California" in front of an orchestra. That almost has to be the orchestra recording the song that's playing during the video.

#69 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 05:39 AM:
You do too know who Gary Brolsma is. Two words: "Numa numa." There. See?

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Llama llama duck.

#70 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 11:42 AM:

#63, David Goldfarb -

Thank you! Both for Gary Brolsama's name and for putting your finger so firmly on why these videos work for me. Sincerity. I couldn't figure out what it was I was seeing that moved me so.

#71 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 07:55 PM:

David Goldfarb @68: Yep. Only too bad they didn't sync the music in that one.

Thanks everyone for posting about this. We've been watching it for three days now. Humanity, amen.

#72 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2008, 08:11 PM:

Sajia Kabir @ 59: So, any chance of a transcription? I've been trying to find a Bangla version of the poem the better to sing along, so far unsuccessfully.

#73 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2008, 08:04 AM:

Someone at NASA seems to have been so charmed by the video that they've made it the Astronomy Picture of the Day for July 22. Frankly, I think that's going a bit further than their remit really ought to allow.

#74 ::: Spam deleted ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 03:37 PM:

[Spam from 209.162.34.97]

#75 ::: Lee sees possible spam ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 09:37 PM:

@74. At least it's tangentially related; your call, O Moderators.

#76 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2008, 10:36 PM:

your call, O Moderators.

Same exact post, word for word, on multiple sites. It's spam.

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