Shooting for the Moon

By their own admission, Jim MacKenzie and Sarah Giavedoni came to the “Stuff racial/ethnic/religious/social group likes” internet bandwagon very late. So, instead of not creating their own project, the pair decided to “double down on it.” Both were fans of monster movies, horror flicks and comedy, so the decision to go with wasn’t exactly difficult. Nor, for that matter, has it required supernatural powers like unto a Frankenstein’s monster to grow their Asheville-based project since its launch in late 2010. After all, people like monsters.

But that’s not true of their project’s next phase: Buying the surface of the moon, building a moon base and then recording a folk album about it.

Earlier this month, the duo launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the cash. Or, more exactly, raise the $21,474,836 maximum Kickstarter will allow, with those funds going to record their recorded-on-the-moon album Lunar Aid 1985. This still leaves the $177,612,798,844.24 required to buy the entire surface of the moon from the man who claims to own it, Dennis Hope, head of the Lunar Embassy Corporation. Not to mention the $400 billion or so the pair estimate it would cost to establish the moonbase they hope to record the album in. All in all, they MacKenzie and Giavedoni estimate the total cost of the album to be in the $578 billion range.

Here’s their pitch to potential investors.

Before their bid to becomes the overlords of the moon, MacKenzie and Giavedoni had more humble, humanitarian aims in mind. Several years ago, the two founded the POP Project, an Asheville-based nonprofit that collects secondhand books to donate to needy men and women in the corrections system. “That project is still going strong, and grows every year,” says MacKenzie. And then there’s the Asheville Blogger Society, also organized by MacKenzie, which seeks to give the often reclusive local blogging community a good excuse to get out into the IRL world and rub elbows with each other. Their current monster-blogging project was simply a fun side project that has slowly taken on—like many an experiment by a mad scientist—a life of its own.

So, why buy the moon?

“All the brilliant scientists, physicists and astronomers say one day humanity will have to leave the Earth,” explains MacKenzie. “We’re depleting its resources. We either need another Earth, or we need to leave this one.” Adding to this, Giavedoni says “Of all the planets to pick, it seems to most reasonable.” (While some might point out that the moon isn’t a planet, but, you know, a moon, she does make a convincing point.)

Back on an Earth, with problems like an increasingly worrisome number of high-stakes elections from Egypt to America, international debt crises that threaten to pit Greece against Europe, and an endless string of celebrity non-news, it seems like the pitch to buy the moon, build an orbiting music studio and release the first post-global album was custom made for light reading. Not surprisingly, their story has gained international media attention.

“Sarah and I have been having the most improbable week you can imagine,” MacKenzie says. Before talking to Xpress, they’d just wrapped an interview via Skype with a British newspaper. Earlier in the month, internet tastemaking site BoingBoing posted about their project. They’ve been interviewed by doctoral students for a project about crowd-based funding. “We’re being written about in languages we can’t even read.”

Of course, there are more cynical people out there who see all this as something other than a call for the scientific, cultural and artistic exploration of space, and something more like a custom-made viral ad campaign to promote an otherwise humble web project. So, what is it that MacKenzie and Giavedoni are really looking for from all this? If not actually crowdsourcing enough money to pay off the national debt of Portugal, what do they really hope happens from their newfound internet notoriety?

“I’ve always said it’s fame, fortune, money and sex,” replies MacKenzie. After a moment’s thought, Giavedoni chimes in with “Global domination. Then the moon.”

And then comes the real answer.

“Sarah and I have slowly been writing a book about our experiences on the internet,” MacKenzie says. “So maybe this will culminate in a book in a few years.”

In the interim, however, the crew are focusing on promoting their “Hug A Monster Day” event, which takes place on July 27. “We encourage people to get their stuffed monster toys and memorabilia, take it to work or school with you, and hug it to show the world how much you love the macabre,” explains MacKenzie. Adding to this, Giavedoni says that she hopes for it to become a holiday “about on par with Grandparents Day” or Flag Day.

“Watch out Flag Day,” MacKenzie threatens. “We have your number.”

And then there is the lingering question: What if they actually hit their goal? After all, there are some eccentric millionaires out there who might think it the height of fun to pony up the cash for the first album recorded outside of Earth’s sonically and artistically limiting gravity. Isn’t it plausible that a handful of wildly wealthy musicians—your Paul McCartneys, Madonnas and Justin Biebers—could chip in a few million apiece for the tickets on a Virgin Galactic flight, with a few instruments and digital music studio in a suitcase? (Maybe they’d even qualify for a group rate.) While unlikely—they’ve only raised a little over $5,000 as of this writing, and only have a little over a week left to raise the rest before the deadline expires—it’s actually not impossible.

So, what if?

“We really mean it. If we make the money, we are honestly somehow going to space,” MacKenzie insists. “I don’t know if we’ll have to buy two tickets from Richard Branson, but we’ll do it.”


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