Channels I Love: Van Neistat, The Spirited Man

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Anyone who has ever been around YouTube will probably know the name “Neistat.” There is more than one family member who has done well by YouTube. I first stumbled upon Casey, someone who might be the single most influential YouTuber of all time. Anyone as successful as Casey will surely have their detractors but I feel he is entirely deserving of the success because not only was he a pioneer he also has actual talent.

Casey has a variety of skills, knows how to tell a story, can run and oversee a production and knows how to sit in a variety of meetings. Think security guard to CEO. Anyone who can mix on those levels typically has something to say. He also started a technology company. And he’s athletic. This might not be important to you but it to me. In an age of the “screen body,” it’s nice to see someone who can do more than push a mouse.

But there is another Neistat. Van to be exact. I don’t know what Van does. I don’t know his “thing.” But I don’t really care. When I watch a Van Neistat film it never feels like I’m wasting time, and if anyone has invented a better way to waste time than YouTube I’ve not seen it. Van is intelligent, humorous, curious and inspiring. He’s had an interesting career and seems to be talented in a variety of ways that accumulatively don’t seem to spell anything specific, and yet there he is doing his thing. And I watch. Not all but some.

I’m fifty-three now and what that means is I can’t handle small talk. I can’t pretend anymore. Dinner parties and gallery openings are nails on a chalkboard. “Hey, who are you?” “What do you do?” “Me?” “Oh, I specialize in escaping small talk.” Like Bill Murray in Lost in Translation. “We first need to get out of this bar, then the hotel, then the city and country. Are you with me?” Ah, yes Bill, I am.

Much of what Van does is analog based. Typewriters, pens, paper, building materials and hands on craftsmanship. The further we go down the digital rabbit hole the more it feels significant to keep one foot in the Stone Age, something he does well. I guess what this channel does for me, perhaps more than anything else, is make me think. I’m not talking about analytical psychology. I’m just talking about perception, pace and quality of life. Oh, and TW 200s.

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  1. Thanks for the heads-up on Van… gonna do some binging on his channel this weekend. His ride is awesome… wish I treated my ’93 Camry as well! Perfect timing as I’ve been working on an analog, alter unego version of myself… a mental/creative doppelgänger. Is the TW200 pretty quiet? I like to sneak up on ghosts and moonshiners.

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      A 93 Camry is hilarious. My family had two of those. And they ran forever, well, at least we got 200,000 + on each and I think each hit at least one deer as well.

  2. I can’t believe I spent about 7 minutes watching this guy rambling about how if you have not found your life purpose in your 20’s then give up and just focus on making as much money as possible and give up on your dream/purpose. No disrespect intended.

    Here’s the thing, I am 60 now and just this year found my real passion and it’s down in Costa Rica.
    Found this wonderful place in the Golfo Dulce in Southwest CR and plan to sail a 40′ Trimaran down to there (it’s in California right now) and spend my life doing eco tours (part time) for people that really appreciate the diverse wildlife.
    I also want to really enjoy photography for just the sake of photography and not for a particular agenda.
    Also to help some local Ticos with their work and business endeavours (that I met and became good friends with).
    Last , but not the least, just get away from the psychotic lifestyle that appears to afflict so many Americans that live mostly near metropolitan areas. Only takes a few minutes of driving to figure that out. Entitled, superficial, ego driven, self centeredness seems to be the new world order in America.
    Not all, but man, there’s just to many of em.
    Man, Only took me………..what, 40 years or so to figure it out.


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      I think cities produce aggressive behavior but ALL of America is about greed and corruption and neither is really meant to be hidden any longer. In fact, we brag about greed. We brag about corruption. These past five years have seen the erosion of our ethics and we didn’t have much left to begin with. JUST had a conversation with my wife about moving to Latin America. CR, Colombia, Panama, etc. At the very least three to six months a year. If certain people win the mid terms and 2024, we are on our way out of this place.

  3. I remember when I first saw Casey’s videos. I liked the videos, but I didn’t (and still don’t) know that much about the world of YouTube. I really underestimated what he was doing and his capabilities. Cool stuff. I’ve watched a couple of Van’s videos. Also good. I had to look up “Industrial Essay Films”. If anyone’s curious, here’s a quick read article comparing the brothers’ film-making styles –

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      Casey spawned several generations of filmmakers and YT folks. The difference between Casey and those he spawned, in my opinion, is that he has something to say. Many of them do not. Van has something to say as well.

  4. Thanks Scott.

    Dan if you and your wife ever travel to CR please look me up. Would be cool to meet you sometime.

    You’re more than welcome to stay at our house on the beach. It’s in Zancudo , It’s mostly a small fishing village.
    About 450 people, about 300 Ticos (VERY FRIENDLY) and around 150 gringos/expats.
    They locals call this region the last frontier of CR. Especially in the Osa peninsula. In fact I think one of the books you recommended sometime back was about a young man who adventured down there and disappeared as I recall.

    Lot of the time I’ll be up in the mountain cabin right next to the La Amistad national park as well.

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