Slightly Imperfect: The Brandon Mendelson Story

B.J. Mendelson, The Professional Version:

B.J. Mendelson  is a world-renowned viral marketer and speaker on the myths of social media marketing. He is the author of the book, Social Media Is Bullshit, which was released by St. Martin’s Press in September of 2012, and is now available worldwide from St. Martin’s and various other publishers. B.J. is represented by Macmillan Speakers Bureau and Greenburger Associates.

 

B.J. has debated the ambassador to Pakistan at the United Nations concerning the effects of social media on society, presented at South By Southwest Interactive, the Word of Mouth Marketing Summit, Social Media Week, and the DO Lectures in the United Kingdom, among numerous other conferences. Mendelson has also presented at Illinois State University, New York University, Columbia University, and various other colleges across America.

 

 

The Fun Version

 

Part 1: Pre-College Dickery

 

I was conceived following an amorous, alcohol-fueled encounter in the Borscht Belt. Apparently the Joan Rivers show my parents attended in August of 1982 was an amazing aphrodisiac.

 

I grew up in Monroe, New York. My family moved there from Massapequa Park in 1987 to get away from the assholes that inhabit Long Island. The only thing I kept from the Island was my love for the New York Islanders, a team that embodies mediocrity. Ok. In 1983 I was also born in the same place Teddy Roosevelt was, but nobody ever shot me during one of my presentations. At least, not yet anyway.

 

While in Monroe, I went to North Main Elementary school. There I got beat up every day by people who hated the Jets, Mets, Nets, and Islanders. To get even, I later convinced the entire fifth grade that I invented Mortal Kombat, and that I was insanely wealthy because of it. Then, in classic prowrestling heel fashion, I reminded them of that fact every day. I figure, if they’re going to beat me up, I’m going to give them a damn good reason to do it.

 

From there, I made my way over to Monroe-Woodbury Middle School. Nothing exciting or funny happened. Unless you count the time Magic: The Gathering was banned from the school. The assistant principal thought playing the game was a subtle form of worshipping Satan. But I don’t think there’s anything funny about that. There’s nothing funny about Magic: The Gathering.

 

I barely graduated from Monroe-Woodbury Senior High School in 2001. I had no commitment to academic success, didn’t want to be there, and hated everyone I went to school with. Part of this had to do with the kids who had picked on me for being a Nets, Jets, and Mets fan were all now Mets, Nets, and Jets fans. But the rest of it had to do with the fact that I was always the poor kid at the rich kid high school. If there’s anything I can’t stand, it’s snobby white people and frontrunners. Ok. And people who talk during movies and TV shows. Nothing you have to say is so important that it can’t wait until a commercial. Nothing.

 

Also during my senior year, I was diagnosed with Mitral-Valve Prolapse. This will become relevant later on …

 

While at M-W, I held the stupid belief that being involved in a ton of extracurriculars would get me into NYU, despite a piss-poor GPA of 77.0. It didn’t. Alfred State was the only college that accepted me, and I didn’t even apply there. My Dad sent them an application after I told him I wasn’t applying elsewhere because “other colleges were bullshit”. That was a rare moment between my Dad and I because my parents were not always around. My older sister, Melissa, raised my four brothers and I.

 

For every good thing Melissa did, my older brother Brad undid. Born dead and later revived through magic, Brad has issues, many of them, including severe OCD.

 

Brad’s daily routine consists of throwing everything out, putting what’s left away to be thrown out later, going through your stuff, checking the mailbox twenty-seven times, and carrying conversations with himself. If you did anything to disrupt his routine, Brad would get angry, Hulk-angry, so none of us did anything.

 

Between the MIA parents and Brad, I was functionally retarded until I met my ex-wife in 2005 at SUNY Potsdam. I had transferred there from Alfred the year before because my parents had informed me “there were Jews there”. There were not. My ex-wife, who was not a Jew, was my resident on the 6th floor of Lehman South. I was her RA. It was hate at first sight. When we got divorced in the Summer of 2012 it was legally decreed that I had been upgraded from functionally retarded to “quasi-retarded”.

 

That’s what I like to call progress!

 

Part 2: Post-College Dickery

 

I graduated from Potsdam in December of 2006 with a questionably useful degree in Political Science and a minor in Pre-Law. Since my ex-wife was still working on her degree, I decided to take a couple of semesters worth of graduate courses in the Organizational Leadership program. I also worked for a syndicated ABC television show and CBS College Sports.

 

My ex-wife and I moved into 96 Market Street, Apartment 4, in the Fall of 2007. I liked the village of Potsdam and wanted to stay there. She didn’t. Our neighbor was an insane multi-millionaire chemist, and I thought if I stuck around long enough, he’d try to kill Superman.

 

In addition to doing a column that was syndicated to over 800 college newspapers, my CBS job consisted of sitting around my Potsdam apartment and making hundreds of stories I didn’t write more SEO friendly. It was kind of the perfect job because I barely had coworkers and I could watch all the Wonder Woman porn I wanted. Telecommuting is awesome!

 

The syndicated TV show? It got me a production credit in IMDB, and I got them into forty-million homes across America on ABC. I guess they came out ahead on that one, huh?

 

I left the graduate program with a semester left to go. In the Fall of 2012, under the guise of “completing my degree”, I returned to Potsdam and lived on campus in Draime Hall. I wasn’t actually there to be a student though. I was there to research a screenplay I’m working on called “Old Man On Campus”.

 

During my original run at Potsdam, I flunked my LSAT. Wait. Flunk is too weak of a word. I bombed my LSAT so hard the walls shook in the scoring center and three law school admissions officers committed suicide in protest.

 

I avoided the GRE after vowing never to kill again.

 

Since my job skills consist entirely of “talks good” and “writes better”, I decided to continue with graduate school elsewhere. Faced with limited alternatives, I went to UAlbany to work toward a Ph.D. in American History in the Fall of 2008. We moved into 1066 Washington Avenue, Apartment 4. Like Potsdam, I liked Albany and wanted to stay there. My ex-wife didn’t. Sense a pattern forming?

 

I probably won’t finish that Ph.D. Why? I’m more likely to become a stripper at Score’s than a tenured professor. Just kidding. I’m going to complete the degree after I make my “Fuck You” money. The second thing I do after I make that money? Buy The New York Islanders and rename them “The Skating Dicks”.

 

After leaving UAlbany in early 2009, my ex-wife and I traveled across America to promote the early detection and prevention of breast cancer for a small not-for-profit. It was around this time that Twitter placed me on their Suggested User List between February of 2009 and August of 2009.

 

There’s no story to tell here. I applied to be Twitter’s secretary and got rejected, and they had previously promoted my account on their old public timeline. When I got the rejection letter, I told them about the breast cancer tour. The next thing I know? I’m on the list. I’m convinced 99% of the accounts following me are inactive, spam, or fake, so don’t get too excited when you see how many people are following me.

 

Halfway through the breast cancer tour, our car died in Las Vegas. You can insert your own “I guess they weren’t lucky in Vegas” joke here.

 

A year later, I organized a similar tour for another not-for-profit. This time, the tour was successful. What changed? We took the focus off social media. What a shock, right? With the exception of Wounded Warriors Family Support, I can’t really describe most not-for-profits in flattering terms. Because of this, I have sworn off all future charitable activities.

 

That is, unless you ask me to come to your house and play “Homeless Santa”. As a former mall Santa at the Aviation Mall in Queensbury, New York, I’ll be happy to defecate on your lawn while wearing a santa suit. I think it’s a great way  to send your children a chilling message about their future as a college graduate.

 

Social Media Is Bullshit

 

In February of 2011, I sold my first book to St. Martin’s Press. I’d like to think it was because I’m a good writer and have something interesting to say, but it could have very well been because I had over a half million people allegedly following me on Twitter. The book was written inside 136 Glen Street, Apartment 9, in Glens Falls, New York.

 

St. Martin’s Press is the one that made the suggestion that I should change my name. The reason was because I had a lot of comedy writing scattered around the web under “Brandon Mendelson”, and they thought if I changed my name to “B.J.” we can control the search results and keep it more or less tied to just the book. There was also this conversation, which followed the publisher telling me they wanted me to “be myself”:

 

St. Martin’s Press: “Could you not use the word ‘motherfucker’ so much?”

 

Me: “Well technically motherfucker isn’t a word”.

 

George Carlin would be proud.

 

After leaving Albany, the ex-wife and I split two years living with my former in-laws in South Glens Falls and then two years in the Glens Falls apartment. I wrote the book proposal at the in-laws house beginning in late 2009 and the book in our apartment in early 2011.

 

Social Media Is Bullshit went on to suffer numerous production problems. My favorite one? Have you tried dialing the number in the English-language edition yet? Kevin in Plattsburgh, New York, is pissed!

 

Let’s talk about what went right though. The book hit shelves across the U.K., Canada, and the U.S. in September of 2012, was translated into Polish Russian, and Spanish, and sold 8,000 copies in less than a year on zero budget. And the best part? The book sold that many copies in spite of a total U.S. media blackout because the book had a swear word in the title. I’m not kidding. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal both confirmed that I’m not.

 

However, the people of Canada loved the book. So much so that I’m tempted to move to Ottawa, cheer for the Senators, and get high as often as possible with my fans up there. They seem like the sort that would buy me weed, which is great because I have no idea how to actually obtain or smoke it.

 

(P.S. If you see me wearing a Senators hat or shirt, you’ll now why. I don’t follow the team too closely to be conversational about them, but I wear the shirt and the hat because the support I received from Canada meant a lot to me … and I can’t fucking stand the Habs or Maple Leafs. I’m told there are Canadian teams in the Western Conference, but I think that’s something the NHL made up to scare people.)

 

What Am I Doing Now?

 

I’m still trying to figure out why the United Nations had me debate the ambassador to Pakistan, Abdullah Hussain Haroon. I thought when I got the invite that I was about to be Punk’d, but instead of Ashton Kutcher jumping out and acting like an idiot at the UN, I did. Ok. I didn’t, but I totally should have.

 

Remember that Mitral-Valve Prolapse thing I mentioned? It almost killed me. As it turns out, the valve was so totally busted that, if I hadn’t gone in to get it fixed in July of 2013, I would have been dead by Christmas.

 

As an added bonus, after the valve was replaced I suffered my first heart attack and flatlined in front of my parents. I don’t remember any of it. All  know is, I went in for a valve repair and then I woke up more than a full day later. As it turns out, I had to get a second surgery, a coronary by-pass, after the heart attack. Lucky me!

 

Both surgeries were done at New York-Presbyterian’s Weill Cornell Campus on July 9th, 2013. The team and surgeons that did it are best known for doing that massive bypass surgery on David Letterman back in 2000. You can now add “saving my life” to the list of awesome things they’ve done.

 

After the near-death experience, I’m in the process of retiring from the marketing world and working exclusively on writing and performing funny stuff. I made no money from Social Media Is Bullshit, and actually put myself into debt in order to promote the book. So, I’m glad I wrote the book as it needed to be said. But. After almost dying, I want to focus on what makes me happy, and that’s becoming an awesome stand-up comedian.

 

My goal is to continue working on the marketing side long enough to make enough money to A) Help dig my family out of the hole Hurricane Sandy put them in and B) Have enough money to live somewhere for exactly one year, where I’ll have time to write a humor book, develop a marketing plan, and then self-publish it.

 

I’ve also taken up praying, but not to God.

 

He doesn’t exist.

 

I pray to George Carlin whenever I feel like it. That seems like a schedule he’d endorse.

 

What am I praying for? For one of my self-published comedy books to sell a million copies. How do you think I’m going to make my “Fuck You Money”?

 

 

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