Surprise it's a bonus episode! On the eve of his first Olympic ski run, Jamaica's first-ever alpine skier, Benjamin Alexander, joins Josh Goldbard from the Olympic Village in Beijing. He gives us a firsthand perspective of what it's like to compete during a pandemic, how it feels to be the first Jamaican to compete in the sport at the Olympic level, and how he went from professional DJ (with Robot Heart) to alpine skier in just a few years. Josh also asks Benjamin how his experience as both a DJ and now as an Olympian has shaped his views on privacy.
Speaker 2 (00:03)
Hello and welcome back to Privacy is the New Celebrity. I'm Joshua Goldbard, and I'm excited to bring you this special bonus episode live from the Olympic Village in Beijing. I feel very lucky to be joined by Benjamin Alexander. Benjamin is an Olympic skier from Jamaica and is about to become the very first Alpine skier to represent that country in the Winter Olympic Games. Benjamin is a former DJ and has only been skiing since 2016. Despite the odds he managed to qualify in this year's Olympics. In a story reminiscent of the famous 1988 Jamaican Bob sled team, Cool Runnings. And because this is Privacy as the new celebrity, we're also going to ask him how Privacy plays a role in his life as an Olympian. But first, Benjamin, can you tell us how you arrived at the Olympic Games?
Speaker 1 (00:50)
Yeah, well, that's a big one from Pack, but let's try to do it in a short way. So you and I know each other from my former wife as a DJ. And on the road, I met lots of weird and wonderful people, predominantly through Burning Man. And it was through this group of people, predominantly my Burning Man camp robot heart, that I got introduced to all kinds of weird and wacky things, kitesurfing and heli skiing. And over Christmas of 2015, I was invited to a heli ski trip in Mica or at a place called Michael in British Columbia, Canada, and just saw this thing that I thought turned my regular friends into superheroes when they kind of plunked on their 130 millimeter black Crow Power speed and disappeared off Ridgeline. And I vowed that I wouldn't come back on this trip, this annual trip, unless I was part of the skiing contingent. And so I kind of set out to do that. Initially, my goal was only to become good enough to heavy ski and ski with my friends. My 9th day of skiing was back at that heavy ski Lodge two years later over Christmas of 2017.
Speaker 1 (01:57)
And I really wanted to just be able to keep up, just kind of like have fun out there on the mountain with my friends. And then by virtue of being half black, half white, as all mixed race people will know, you always represent the minority of any group that you're in at any given moment, right? So that could change room to room, second to second. To my black friends, I'm the white guy, or Colton from the Fresh Prince of Belair. And to my white friends, I'm the black guy. And so skiing being predominantly white, I was the black representative. And just the seeds of an idea were formed. People know of my Jamaican heritage. There would always be the mention of cool runnings and the bobsett team from 1988, whenever I was skiing and people would just say, you should go to the Olympics. And I guess I just took that a little bit too seriously. So here I am, you catch me in one of the dormitories at the Yang Qing Alpine Center in Beijing.
Speaker 2 (02:50)
So can you tell me what Beijing is like right now and what it feels like to be participating in the Olympics during a pandemic?
Speaker 1 (02:56)
Yeah, that's a really good question. So I've experienced very little of Beijing proper. First of all, we are about an hour and a half drive away, but we were there for the opening ceremony, and we are operating under a very similar circumstances to the NBA playoffs that happened last year under a full bubble within sight of Disney World. And so we are in what's called the closed loop. We can get back with the forwards to the mountain and go training. There are shuttle buses that take you to hotels, but everything is incredibly locked down. We're unable to get out of this bubble, and it's actually run pretty well, I must say. So I haven't seen any of Beijing other than going to the Stadium for the opening ceremony. And it's kind of strange from a social and communal point of view. There's really not that much going on. Lots of the athletes are just staying in their rooms, and that's because there are no social spaces. There's the dining hall where everyone is faced in the same direction, kind of like, what your favorite Ramen restaurant looks like. You have those kind of single cubicles, but the entire dining hall is like that, and there are just no spaces for people to interact.
Speaker 1 (04:09)
I'm actually taking this call from the corridor because I share the room with my coach. So no Privacy there. He's watching some of the other sporting events going on in the TV. So it's a bit of a muted experience compared to what other Olympics are like. And lots of the people that I've interacted with that have been to several Olympics are complaining that this is the worst one they've ever been to, and they're keen to go home. I'm still having the time of my life. It's great, but I'm sure that had it not been for covet, it would have been a very different circumstance.
Speaker 2 (04:40)
What about the Olympic Village? Can you describe it for us?
Speaker 1 (04:44)
Yeah. So look, I think coming into this, there were lots of memes going around about Squid Games and how trying not to get COLVID was going to be the new Squid Games. And it's exactly like that here in the Olympic Village. All of the staff are full on hazmat, walking around, disinfecting everything. All of a sudden, a room that was occupied by people might just be empty the next day, and it really feels like a moment of Squid Games. So whenever there's a positive covert test or whenever there's a close interaction, athletes or staff are immediately moved out of the dormitory or they are forced to isolate in their dorm rooms. And it's pretty intense. I mean, they're trying to do everything they possibly can. So for example, if I were to be classified as a close contact right now, I would still be able to train, but I would literally be chaperoned to and from my training to make sure I didn't interact with anyone else. So they're trying to allow the athletes to not miss their events by virtue of the covert in the pandemic. But the circumstances are really strange. I think so many people have built their entire lives up to this moment that everyone is religiously, wearing masks.
Speaker 1 (05:56)
And a lot of the National Olympic Committees have been incredibly blunt with their athletes and are asking them to just keep their social circles and their bubbles to an absolute minimum number just to avoid any unnecessary exposure to the virus. We have to sanitize our hands before going into the mess hall and then put on plastic gloves, which is kind of overkill. But as I said, they're just trying to do everything to keep the show on the road.
Speaker 2 (06:24)
So what happens to athletes if they test positive for COVID?
Speaker 1 (06:27)
Right. So the testing protocol here is a little bit more sensitive than you would use in a normal situation with normal PCR tests back in the States or in Europe. And so if you fall within that threshold of where a normal test wouldn't capture it, but this test would, then you have to isolate in your room until you have a couple of negative tests. If you do test positive positive, then you're yanked away to a hotel room where you have zero interaction with the outside world, where you'll have your food and drinks delivered to you by a robot. And I fortunate enough to say that I haven't had to deal with that. But the robots are kind of fun. I've seen them at the hotel.
Speaker 2 (07:11)
I know you're competing in Alpine skiing, the giant slalom, this weekend. Can you tell us what you're anticipating for this experience? I'm particularly interested in the aspect of the artificial snow on the course. Like, how is artificial snow different from natural snow?
Speaker 1 (07:25)
Right. Okay, that's a really good question. So a couple of things. A lot of us are familiar with artificial snow. I spend all of my time in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and if we have a very anemic start to the season, the mountain will still do their very best to get something open so that people can be skiing on Thanksgiving. And lots of mountains around the world have one or two runs that they start blowing artificial snow onto as soon as the temperatures drop low enough. And most likely this is called the blue ribbon of death, or the blue strip of death because it's incredibly icy and everyone is kind of forced to be on the same runs. So it's very packed. So lots of people are familiar with artificial snow. I'm sitting in a place right now that had less snowfall than London did last year, but this is the location for a world class event space or for outside skiing. And I will say that the training facilities are absolutely fantastic. And what they've managed to build here out of nothing is a testament to what you can do with unlimited resources and pretty much an unlimited budget.
Speaker 1 (08:32)
Now the snow is a little bit different. And before we talk about that, we need to talk about how this is an event space that has been purposely designed for ski racing and the ski racers of the highest caliber. Now, if you are a ski racer, you actually want to have the hardest surface possible. And so lots of the listeners who are familiar with skiing and heavy skiing and powder skiing want the complete opposite. You want to wake up in the morning and see that ten inches of snow, if not more, has fallen overnight, and you put on the big, fat 130 millimeter power skis, and you're going to be kind of dipping in and out of the trees and whooping and hollering all day long. For us on race keys, our race skis are exactly half that width. So my race keys are 65 mm under foot, and they are literally like Samurai swords in terms of how sharp these things are. I have sliced my hand open numerous times. Ask any ski racer and have a look at their right hand if their right handed and you'll see a scar at the bottom of their thumb.
Speaker 1 (09:33)
Because we just need to have these skis so sharp to be able to cut into the icy surfaces that we race on. So why are these surfaces icy? Well, in order to keep a ski race fair, you need to have as much as you can do. You need to have a consistent playing field or a consistent race surface for the guys to compete across. Right? So we've all been to a mountain on a powder day, and everyone is kind of jonesing for that first chair because those first tracks to set those first tracks into a Virgin peace, it's just like heavenly. You're not having to Dodge any bumps or anything else. Now, if you were to imagine that same kind of analogy of that Virgin piece, but was a ski race. Hill races are trying to go down a course, and pretty much they're all trying to follow the same optimum line. If the snow was really soft, then by the second or third person, the advantage gained by being first would just be so huge, it would be insurmountable. So what they do is quite often they will take a hose and they will water down the entire surface the night before to make it as icy as possible.
Speaker 1 (10:43)
Then to make it even firmer, they will take a machine that injects water six inches below the surface and makes it something that's closer to an ice skating rink than the type of skiing that the casual listener or casual ski would be familiar with. And so when we talk about artificial snow here, they've just done exactly that. They've tried to create a really good surface that is only good for racing. I've seen so many of the local Chinese people who have probably been trained for the last year or two and how to ski just not be able to ski this stuff and just go sliding down for several hundred meters and not be able to get an edge in to these surfaces. Now it's been a little strange because we've seen the huge upset, of course, of Mikaela Shiffrin crashing in both of her big events. And I'm sure that's been her world has been rocked, and I feel for her. But we've also seen some of the athletes just really understand the surfaces and do really well, such as Sarah, the Swedish girl. So the artificial snow, I've actually enjoyed it. There are many parts of the course that have just become incredibly icy.
Speaker 1 (11:50)
So we've scraped past that top surface, and now we're literally down onto something that will be kind of similar to skiing on a glacier like we do during the summer months for continued.
Speaker 2 (12:00)
So you're basically skiing down.
Speaker 1 (12:04)
Right away. What does that feel the general public or should I say that the masses until the day of the event.
Speaker 2 (12:12)
So you're basically skiing down a contiguous ice sheet on the side of the mountain.
Speaker 1 (12:17)
Speaker 2 (12:19)
What does that feel like?
Speaker 1 (12:22)
It can do two things to you. It can either be the scariest thing ever if you don't have the technique or you don't have the equipment, or it can just feel incredibly satisfying when you just lay that ski on edge and you feel that super sharp edge just cut and bite into the ice and you make perfect arch turns. Now I'll give you a really interesting anecdote from today. I'm here with my coach, and we just got the skis tuned to the Samurai sword level, shall we say, within three runs on this really hard ice, you can feel the difference. The ski has become dull within about two to three runs. And that's the level of performance you need as a ski racer that your ski will really only do you well for one, maybe two runs.
Speaker 2 (13:09)
So you're saying that ice just dulls the blade of the ski?
Speaker 1 (13:12)
It's insane. Yeah.
Speaker 2 (13:14)
That's wild. Can you talk about the feeling of descending the mountain on a sheet of ice? What does that feel like to you?
Speaker 1 (13:21)
So as I said, there's two ways it feels it feels like you try to make a turn and imagine let's give an analogy for the non skiers. Imagine you're steering your car around the turn, but instead of the car responding to the movements in the steering rule, it is, but it's making a much wider turn than you want. The car is kind of over steering and sliding to the outside of the road. And that's what it feels like. If your equipment is not good. If your equipment is dialed, if you have sharp skis and you're able to get pressure in the right place on the skis and get the right angulation, the feeling is one of being on rails. It's almost like being on a roller coaster that just makes a turn unexpectedly. And the G forces and the kind of centrifugal forces of you just being whipped around that corner is just so incredibly satisfying. And so when it all comes together, good equipment, good technique, and good surface conditions, because even ice can sometimes be too icy if it's not prepared properly. It's just the most exhilarating feeling ever to be on rails, sliding down a mountain at 50, 60, 70 miles an hour.
Speaker 2 (14:30)
That is such an incredible description. Thank you for that. So let's back up a bit. I'd love for you to tell us, how did you end up here? Because as we know, there's no snow in Jamaica.
Speaker 1 (14:42)
Yeah. So I was born in the United Kingdom to a Jamaican father and a British mother. And actually, it's relatively easy to get a passport for a country when your parent was born there. I kind of wish that I'd got my Jamaican passport maybe ten years ago because it would have saved a lot of money and hassle with all the Russian visas that I'd had to get from my British passport to get into Moscow to perform as a DJ. I went to the Olympics in 2018 as a spectator and noticed that my father's country only had three athletes in representation, a country which, as we all know, is a complete powerhouse as it pertains to track and field and the Summer Games. And I just thought someone had missed an opportunity there. We've all heard of cool runnings, if not the 1088 bobset team, Jamaican bobsed team, and how much of a cult following that movie has and the folklore that surrounds that team. And I was surprised to hear that the talented athletes that Jamaica has, either on the island or in the diaspora, hadn't kind of taken up the concept and pushed it further.
Speaker 1 (15:54)
And I thought maybe there's an opportunity for me to kind of like step in there. And I was still a full time DJ, and I retired from that role at the end of that year. And at the beginning of 2019, I decided to see whether or not there was any legs to this pipe dream of actually going to the Olympics. And so friends of mine have a kind of a tech entrepreneur conference that takes place in Revelstoke in BC, Canada, once a year. Actually just finished last week, and it's about 200 people just kind of enjoying the mountain, enjoying each other's company and some alcoholic beverages, shall we say. And at the beginning of this trip, I decided that I would spend a whole month out there. I had the opportunity to ski with a former international level ski racer a guy by the name of Gordon Gray who competed for the United States at the Europa Cup level. So that's one tier down from the world's elite of World Cup, but still means that at his peak, he was still ranked, like, top 100 in the world, shall we say? And I asked him, I said, Gordon, I have this crazy idea of going to the Olympics.
Speaker 1 (16:52)
This was January of 2019. I had no idea what a slalom or a giant slalom or any of the other disciplines were. And he said, okay, let's see what you've got. We skied for the morning, and at lunchtime he pulls me aside and says, Benji, your technique is the worst I've ever seen. It is atrocious. It's horrendous to see. But you've only skied 25 days, you tell me, and you've only had two lessons. It's to be expected. This is an incredibly difficult sport. It's so technical. And then he pauses and says, but what I can't figure out is how the heck you're keeping up with me. I've skied at the highest level. I've represented the United States. I just don't understand how you're managing to keep up with me. You are completely fearless. And he says, I think you could do this. I think you have half the battle one. If you were afraid, there would be no chance of you, no matter how much technique you had to get to where you're trying to go. But technique, we can teach you the fearlessness we can't. And it was Gordon I had to kind of tip my cap to him, who really helped me understand the system, helped me understand which discipline I would be best suited in applying myself to, and help me understand the qualification criteria, and kind of set me off on my Merry way to say, Go for it.
Speaker 1 (18:04)
I think you can do this. I still speak to him quite frequently, including today.
Speaker 2 (18:10)
That's great to hear. When people believe in us, it does so much to amplify the possibilities of who we can be. I think it's essential to reaching our full potential as individuals. So one of the questions I want to ask you is, how does Privacy play a role in your training for the Olympic Games? You can't exactly go train a 24 hours fitness, right?
Speaker 1 (18:32)
So I think there's a lot of tactics in the setup of the skis of some of the world's best. Just to clarify, even though I'm sitting here at the Olympics, the people that are likely to win medals in my event this weekend are individuals who have been skiing since the age of two, racing since the age of four, and have probably had several million dollars put into their advancement over the last few years, if not a couple of million dollars each year for the last ten. For some of the bigger guys, those guys are showing up with a half a dozen, if not more, skis for every single discipline with the most minute difference in how that ski is set up, whether it's a zero one degree difference on the Bevel angle of the bottom of the ski, or if it's a 1 mm difference in how the heel is lifted up on the ski compared to that ski. And they'll have a coach that will help them choose based on the circumstances and the temperatures of the race course that day that we need to have ski number twelve and wax number 13 or something like that.
Speaker 1 (19:36)
Right. And so for those guys, there's going to be a lot of Privacy and tactics that surround those decisions. For me, as the first of Alpine ski racer, if those guys are in Formula One, I'm kind of in a go cart at the back of the field. And I'm more here for the participation of the Games. The Games is two things. It's the best of the best of the best, the elite coming to show what is humanly possible. But it's also the friendly competition of as many nations as possible. And so they allow countries that have no representation to get in at a slightly lower threshold than it would take for me to qualify for the British team or for the American team, for example. So I'm here with only one race key. So as it pertains to Privacy around my training or my set up, it's not really that much of a priority for me because I'm actually asking for advice and assistance from other teams, teams that have generational knowledge that they can kind of throw me a bone every now and then.
Speaker 2 (20:39)
So what you're saying is the egalitarian nature of the Games is what you're here for. Yes, it's the experience of being an Olympian.
Speaker 1 (20:46)
Exactly. But even more than that. So you could start with if you leave it like that and put a period after it, then it sounds almost like Olympic tourism that we've come just to experience the Games and we've come to kind of have a party. It's actually a lot more than that. Just in the same way how a flock of birds fly and the bird that's at the front of the crew has to take the air resistance and is working a lot harder than everyone else, but kind of breaks through that pocket of air to make everyone have an easier ride. The first person to do something is always going to have a lot more stress and a lot more to figure out. And so my role here is actually to understand how the system works to enable the next generation of Jamaican athletes to come to the Games in 2026 and beyond and for them to just focus on being the athlete and not have to wear the 50 different hats that I've worn over the course of the last two years to get here. And so for me, I see it as breaking new ground.
Speaker 1 (21:45)
We've had a Jamaican Bobster team at nearly every Olympics since 19 88, 34 years ago. And I hope that in 34 years from now, 2056 will look back at 2022 and say that crazy guy was the first guy to do it. But Jamaica has had an Alpine athlete every Olympics since, and a few of them have done pretty well. So for me, this is not just about the participatory element of the games. It's also really about breaking new ground and acquiring the knowledge necessary to bring more Jamaicans into winter sports.
Speaker 2 (22:15)
For sure. That makes total sense. So this podcast is called Privacy is the New Celebrity, and we like to explore the deep irony of that statement. Do you think Privacy is an important virtue to have in this life?
Speaker 1 (22:28)
Absolutely. Look, I'm very happy to have this conversation in the corridor because eventually it's going to be listened to by all of your listeners. If this conversation was about, I don't know, medical records or my financial history or some other things that people find to be quite sensitive data, then maybe I would have found a broom closet or something a little bit more quiet. And I think we have this shifting notion of what Privacy is, and it's something that our generation, I think you and I are just a few years separated. Our generation is really kind of struggling with as we start to lose control of a lot of the things that we used to hold dear to our chests and some of the information and personal data that we would never want shared. It's all out there in the public now.
Speaker 2 (23:17)
So when did you first realize that Privacy was important? When did you first feel that Privacy mattered to you?
Speaker 1 (23:23)
Yeah, that's a good question. I mean, you could really just rewind that and kind of question, why do we close the bathroom door when we go in there at a very young age? What is it that we're doing there that requires us to be unto ourselves and not under the viewing eye gaze of anyone else? Probably that would have been the first time. But I guess you're thinking more about more recently with regards to technology, or are you thinking just very kind of high level?
Speaker 2 (23:54)
I think my question is probably when did you realize that Privacy mattered? Because there's personal Privacy, but then there's also aesthetic Privacy in relation to society, the Privacy that we present when we're online, when we show our face to the world. And I think those might be two different questions. There's Privacy in the home versus Privacy in society. And I think what I'm really asking is when did you realize Privacy was necessary in society? How did that come about in your life?
Speaker 1 (24:20)
Right. Think about this one. What's interesting is I've had a relatively relatively public persona all the way through this period of social media becoming a large part of our lives. I remember installing Facebook in 2007. So much later than the rest of you guys. I fought it for quite some time, and during this time I was doing a lot of modeling, and so I had a public persona. A lot of my kind of, shall we say, bare skin, never nude, but a lot of my bare skin was out there on public view from modeling while working in finance as well. I ended up again in a very public facing role as a DJ. And so I think when you're trying to give a curated image as both of those professions require, it's quite important to kind of control what is going out into the world that may affect that. And so maybe that was a little bit later, maybe 2010, that kind of era 2011, but maybe not, because I still look back at some of the things that I posted on Facebook during that period, and I think a lot of us were guilty of this, that we would just post a kind of stream of consciousness to Facebook, to our wall for others to kind of comment on.
Speaker 1 (25:48)
And I know some people still do that with their Twitter.
Speaker 2 (25:52)
Eric Schmidt, who is one of the early workers at Google who helped make Google what it is, famously said that he believed that people in society should have the right to be forgotten from the time until you're 1821 sometime that you can define as youth, you should be able to sever that relationship and have a new life as an adult. What do you think of that concept?
Speaker 1 (26:11)
Yeah, I agree with Eric. Eric was also a keynote speaker at our festival, Further Future, which I believe you came to look. I think what's happening in the world right now where people are trying to dig into people's history and pull them up on jokes that may have now become bad taste and to try to hold them accountable to that by virtue of a new rule, a new measure, and kind of like a rule and a measure that's moving incredibly fast as it pertains to race as it pertains to gender. I absolutely do believe that there's a period up until which, whether that is 18 or 21, that we should be able to kind of forget those moments, those drunken posts, those incredibly offhand tweets. I think you may remember a DJ of the name of Tenwolves, who I believe he was Lithuanian or somewhere else in that part of the world and made a drunken homophobic rant.
Speaker 2 (27:14)
Yeah, living a public life can definitely be difficult in this day and age. There are so many things for the charity of you. The idea that as a young person, you can make mistakes is not really the case anymore.
Speaker 1 (27:25)
The weapon of the 21st century.
Speaker 2 (27:26)
There are so many instances where individuals are robbed in their rights to make foolish mistakes.
Speaker 1 (27:45)
As a result of this tweet. So there's a really weird thing happening at the moment as it pertains to cancer inflection everything destroyed for it. And then I think we're still trying to find the balance of how that should look.
Speaker 2 (28:05)
Yes. Living a public life can definitely be difficult in this day and age. There's so many things where the charity of youth, the idea that as a young person you can make mistakes, it's not really the case anymore.
Speaker 1 (28:16)
Speaker 2 (28:17)
There are so many instances where individuals are robbed of their right to make foolish mistakes in their youth. That's the reality we live in today. I often wonder what society might look like if we can pretend that from the age of zero to 21, that's your youth and you can move beyond that and have a different life when you come of age.
Speaker 1 (28:34)
Yeah. And you bring up a really interesting point or you're at least triggering a memory here. A big part of the reason why I gave up my profession in music is because in part because of Privacy. Now let's dig into it a little bit more. What happens in a nightclub is someone plays music, it's dark, there's flashing lights. So your visual strength or your visual abilities are not the best. And there are intoxicants involved. Right. And it allows for this incredibly free interaction with a room of strangers. And I'm not talking about my role as a DJ. I'm just talking about people on the dance floor. And what I feel really killed that was phones and people taking photos and videos of every single moment.
Speaker 2 (29:24)
The worst thing is being in a nightclub and seeing a million people pull out their phones.
Speaker 1 (29:29)
Yes. And you take the Sheen off of this thing. Look, as DJs get paid very well, often much more than a doctor. And do I think that's right? No, I don't. But they're creating this space that allows people to have this magical social interaction. But if you Peel it away and look at what's actually happening, it's just a guy in a T shirt pressing buttons on a couple of pieces of equipment. And now with all of the phones that have come into nightclubs and festivals, it's almost as if the people are demanding a show of the DJ. But it's not possible to create unless you're just fictitiously tapping buttons or jumping around and doing something that doesn't need to be done, then it becomes almost a parody of itself. And a big part of the reason why I got tired with nightlife and that space is because the lack of Privacy to do this thing without the prying, sober eyes of the next day or the prying, sober eyes from another part of the world as this thing is being streamed live, whether this is boiler room or something else like that just really took the Sheen off of it.
Speaker 1 (30:39)
And so certain things have to stay private because they only make sense in that moment. They only make sense because the room is dark or they only make sense because the music is so loud. And if you're listening to that same song through your tiny speaker built into your phone, you have no chance of understanding the nuances of the bass that are driving the people in the room to go berserk go crazy and to really enjoy that. And if you're looking at something that was recorded at 03:00 in the morning and you're listening to it now at 11:00 a.m. Or 03:00, p.m. It's really hard to understand it and not try to poke fun at it. And this is something I learned a lot about releasing sets on robot art. The robot heart sets that we would release that would do the best were always the ones that were a little bit more mellow, that had a little bit more vocal to it, that had a little bit more that you could kind of latch onto if you were listening to it through inferior speakers and inferior headphones and something that you could listen to on the way to work or while doing some homework or some chores in the house.
Speaker 1 (31:43)
But for me, the things that really floated my boat were the 03:00 a.m. Parts of the night when the night was at its darkest, where we were sweating the most and we were dancing the hardest. But those things would never translate. And that was always my kind of sweet spot of the night to perform in, whether it was Burning Man or whether it's at a nightclub. And so when that got invaded with the camera phone and when the Privacy was taken out of that moment, it just stopped making sense. And it's kind of a shame because you see lots of clubs around the world are enforcing a no camera rule or they're putting stickers on the camera phone to try to bring that back. But yeah, I definitely feel like we lost something by losing the Privacy when everyone had a media recording device in their pocket.
Speaker 2 (32:33)
That's wonderful that you mentioned that. I've had this feeling for so long that it's weird to be at a nightclub and have that moment live streamed on TikTok or Facebook or Instagram. The feeling of being present in that moment when you have this rapturous experience of beautiful sound and beautiful people shaking their bodies, trying to get to a place that feels like Nevada and have that taken and shared with the world, it just feels like turning the sacred into the profane. And I've never been able to get comfortable with that. And I love phones. I love that we have the ability to communicate. I love that you can send a message to someone on the other side of the world and they receive it seconds later and can respond to you. That's beautiful. But there's also the sacred right? There's also things we love in this life that we don't need to broadcast to the world. And I wonder how we keep that going forward. Is it even possible. There's definitely some clubs and venues that are doing it now. But what do you think are the insect, but what do you think are the essential ingredients to having a sacred experience in a nightclub or a dance environment?
Speaker 1 (33:34)
So we fought with this quite a lot in putting together further future by its very name. It is highly technology involved, so there are lots of really interesting tech demos that took place on site. And as one of the founders, we really fought really hard with that balance of well, we could put everything in the phone. We could start to have people move themselves around the event space by virtue of AR. But then do we really want people to be looking at a screen knowing that? For me personally, one of my favorite things about Burning Man is the fact that I turn my phone off and don't see it for 15 or 16 days. Right. And so we fought really hard with this concept. I like you feel that we are so blessed to have these communication devices attached to our hands, glued to our hands at all times, to be able to get information at any moment, and to communicate with friends and family and stay in touch with friends and family all around the world in a way that was never before possible. But I really feel like it's something that needs to be taken out of nightlife if we're going to zero in on this thing to allow people a the freedom to feel like they are not being watched.
Speaker 1 (34:47)
No one cares if you do something stupid in front of a couple of hundred people in a nightclub. And most of those people are mildly intoxicated, if not much more. No one cares, right? That's par for the course. But having something recorded that then is viewed by people that you may be working with in a professional capacity or family that might not understand this thing removes people's ability to act without inhibition. So taking the phones out of nightclubs is a huge thing. Another thing that it does, and this is why Burning Man for me is so special, is if you don't have this device that we have said, we've sung the praises of its communication abilities. But if you don't have that device and you're unable to communicate with anyone that's not with an earshot of you, then without sounding cliche, then you live more in the present, in the moment, within the people that are around you, and you're not trying to communicate what a good time you're having with your friend that's on another continent or a stay away. And it keeps you very focused in what's going on in that room. I think a lot could be solved as it pertains to nightlife and the way that I feel like it's gone wrong over the last particularly five, but maybe even ten years would be to remove the phones completely, check them in at the cloak room as you go in.
Speaker 1 (36:06)
You don't need them for the 2 hours or 4 hours or 12 hours that you're going to be in that venue and just enjoy the company of the people that you're with. And if that means you take out a Sharpie and you write that person's number on your hand or on your arm, then so be it. Let's go back to basics.
Speaker 2 (36:21)
That's absolutely right. And I really love your perspective on that.
I personally feel that if we can put all the phones in a Faraday cage just so you can experience the nightclub for what it is or the dance party or whatever sacred experience you're having.
Speaker 2 (36:33)
If you can have that moment, it's beautiful. We're almost out of time. But I want to ask you, what does it mean to you to be an Olympian?
Speaker 1 (36:42)
I don't know if that's truly sunk in right now. I was the flag bearer for Jamaica last Friday at the opening ceremony, which was an incredible feat. I'm also only the 15th person to ever qualify for the Winter Games under the Jamaican flag, which is, again, a crazy stat to think about. I don't think that's going to sink in until I interact with the rest of the world with that badge attached to my name. Right. Because absolutely everyone around me for the last week and for the next week are also Olympians, and it's par for the course. I'm excited to see what the feeling is as I return to the rest of the world. And I'm sitting in that 0.1% of the planet, probably much less of people who are Olympians. So I'll have to kind of throw that back at you and say, ask me that again in a year's time.
Speaker 2 (37:36)
We would love to have you back on the podcast. Let me just say we wish you so much luck on the mountain. Can you tell all of our guests when you're going to hit the powder?
Speaker 1 (37:45)
Yeah, well, I'll be hitting the powder in Jackson Hole after the Olympics, but as it pertains to my race here in Beijing, my first run will be approximately 11:00 A.m. Local time. I'm pretty sure you can watch that on Peacock for the US listeners. And then the second round will probably be around about 03:00 P.m. Local time. So that's going to be around about 08:00 p.m. West coast time. And around about, I don't know, midnight, 11:00 p.m. For the second run. So it's actually not bad for the West Coast people to watch. Europe and New York don't have such great timings.
Speaker 2 (38:21)
And that's on Friday or what day is that?
Speaker 1 (38:24)
Yes, sorry. So local time will be Sunday morning, but for the US listeners, that's going to be Saturday night. Saturday the 12th.
Speaker 2 (38:32)
Wonderful. Let me just say this has been an absolute pleasure. Thank you for everything that you're doing, and I love the perspective that you have on Privacy. I love everything that you do with robot hard. Everything you do trying to bring light into our lives and I just want to say thank you so much for getting up there and skiing down that mountain.
Speaker 1 (38:49)
Look. Thank you so much for having me. I'm super excited to connect again when I get back to the West Coast. Take care.
Speaker 2 (39:00)
Our guest has been Benjamin Alexander, former DJ and the very first Alpine skier to represent Jamaica in the Olympic Winter games. That's it for now. Don't forget to subscribe to Privacy the new celebrity wherever you listen to podcasts and check out mobilecoinradio.com to listen to the full archive of podcast episodes and tune into our radio show every Wednesday at 06:00 p.m.. Pacific time. I'm Joshua Goldbark. Our producer is Sam Anderson and our theme music was composed by David Westfall and as we like to say at mobile Coin, Privacy is a choice we deserve.